BRAND NEW/TOUR: Drawn From Bees – “Of Walls and Teeth”

Brisbane rockers Drawn From Bees have only just released their latest single “Of Walls and Teeth”, and you can take a listen to it right over here! It’s the first single from the bands sophomore album, The May King and His Paper Crown, which is set for release in 2012. Drawn From Bees bring together some fairly conventional guitar sounds on this single (the solos are neat though), but it’s the cool use of vocal melodies and harmonies that really make it stand out.

You can pre-order the single on iTunes from the 12th of August, and it’s officially available on the 26th.

Lately the band have toured the US (even got in a few shows at SXSW!), and they’ve just announced a set of Australian dates throughout October.

Check them out on tour if you get a chance.

Sat 1 Oct – Yah Yahs, Fitzroy
Sat 8 Oct – Masquerade Ball @ The Zoo, Fortitude Valley
Sun 9 Oct – Caloundra Music Festival, Caloundra
Sat 15 Oct – Oxford Art Factory Gallery Bar, Sydney
Fri 21 Oct – The Spotted Cow, Toowoomba
Sat 22 Oct – Restless @ The Loft, Gold Coast
Wed 26 Oct – Nanna Night @ Vinyl Bar, West End
Sat 29 Oct – The Railway Club, Darwin

Just to whet your appetite with another song of theirs (this is one of my favourites), here’s a great video from the band.

LIVE: Groovin’ The Moo, Canberra, 2011.

A couple of weeks ago I attended the Canberra leg of the Groovin’ The Moo festival.

Overall, it was a great day. Getting negative comments out of the way, there were a few jerks in the crowd, and a few sections reeked of weed, but what can you do right? The day was so much fun it was unbelievable, although it probably helped spending it with some great friends too. Over the day I saw a few full sets, and a few partial sets, but here’s what I took from it all.

The Jezabels:

Clearly these guys should’ve been billed much higher. Brilliant drumming, especially on the last track they played (not sure of the title). Their playing was incredibly tight, the singer has an amazing voice, and the crowd knew both of these things. The Jezabels have been climbing up the ranks of Aussie bands for a while now and it shows.

Sampology:

Saw part of his set, but it was really fun. Mixing visuals and sound, The Mighty Boosh remix he did of the Bouncy Castle crimp was brilliant. The Queen singalong was also spectacular.

Datarock:

Saw the first 5 odd minutes of their set and a bit at the end. They sounded really fun, wish I could’ve stayed longer. The saxophonist sounded brilliant.

Plus they had giant inflatable condoms on stage. Enough said.

The Go! Team:

Hadn’t heard much of their work beforehand, but they were really fun and energetic. Almost in a “I really want to dance to these guys” way. I loved how the band members regularly changed instruments too. Added a bit of variation and excitement into the set.

House of Pain:

Witnessed the end of their set, and saw everyone running over for “Jump Around”. It truly was a sight to behold. The whole crowd got involved.

Gyroscope:

The crowd was pretty lacklustre for the first half of their set, but they got them moving eventually. Very big, raw sound. At the time I was in line at the signing tent to meet Birds of Tokyo, but I could still see them. They put on a good show.

Gotye:

Disappointingly, from my spot as I was getting ready for Birds of Tokyo, I could only hear Gotye playing. Couldn’t see them. But they sounded great. Wally De Backer has an astounding voice. Everyone on stage worked together to recreate the tracks in a live environment. If I could go back in time, I’d make sure I saw their whole set.

Birds of Tokyo:

Not sure there’s much for me to say here. Amazing. Brilliant. They sounded great as usual, and their set was really engaging. Still one of my favourite live acts.

The Wombats:

Only knew a little of their material, but they were fun. Did a good job with the crowd I thought, and they sounded pretty close to their studio material from what I could tell.

Bliss N Eso:

I am unbelievably happy I watched these guys do their thing. I’m a fan of the singles I’ve heard from them, but still don’t have “Running On Air”. Might have to get it now.

Out of the whole festival, Bliss N Eso were one of the best acts playing. They know how to get a crowd going. They know how to perform well. They know how to interact with the audience. They know how to get people moving. They had a brilliant DJ. Everything about their show was great. If you have a chance to see them, do it.

Cut Copy:

By this time, I was well and truly freezing. But Cut Copy sounded good. It seemed like a lot of the crowd had left for Drapht, but they did a really good job of getting everyone going. I’m not the biggest fan of their pop, but some of it sounded pretty good. In terms of replicating their sound live, they were great. If you’re a fan, see them.

~

That was my day. It was brilliant, and I’m proud of GTM for making their festival all ages. One of the most frustrating things about being under 18 is missing out on a heap of amazing gigs. Thanks to GTM, everyone could see a brilliant line-up of musicians.

TOUR: Phatchance and Coptic Soldier’s “Hey, Where’s Your DJ?” tour

So you may have noticed I recently reviewed Inkstains (Acoustic) and The Sound of Wings 2, the most recent releases from Phatchance and Coptic Soldier.

Well, they’ve recently announced a co-headline acoustic tour around a few of Australia’s major centres to showcase their new material, and if you’re a fan of hip-hop this is not something you want to miss. They’re touring with a full live band, alongside collaborator and musician Jon Reichardt, and if their recent EP releases are anything to go by, this tour will be special indeed.

It’s a shame they can’t make it to more cities, but if you can make it out to see them you really should. Best of luck to everyone involved, I’m sure you’ll smash it!

See the below poster for details.

REVIEW: Coptic Soldier – “The Sound of Wings 2”

In case you missed it, I reviewed The Sound of Wings quite some time ago. Over here. Ultimately I felt it was an alright release, but that better things were to come from Coptic Soldier. The Sound of Wings 2 proves I was right.

For those of you unaware, The Sound of Wings 2 is an acoustic EP from Coptic. If you’re worried, don’t be, because the acoustic atmosphere suits Coptic’s rapping style more than ever, and it’s amazing how much of a difference it makes. This feels like a niche Coptic could easily slot into on a regular basis, because it works really well, and as a result the release sounds much more cohesive.

Like Inkstains (Acoustic), there’s new material, this time in the form of “I Hate Sleep (Acoustic) feat. Charlie Mayfair” and “Fight for the Fame (Acoustic)”, both of which are brilliant. The latter is a personal standout: musically with the guitar picking and strong back-up vocals, and lyrically.

Vocal melodies and hints of jazz instrumentation throughout the EP help it retain the soulful feel its predecessor had, and I don’t think that’s a sound you hear too often. Which is great, because ultimately The Sound of Wings 2 wins through its diversity. It really sets itself apart. Not content with being any normal acoustic release, it goes that step further to differentiate itself (an increasing trend I seem to be seeing with I Forget, Sorry!’s releases). Which is exactly what makes it such a strong release.

And the effort put into it shows. Coptic and Phatchance both reached capacity at Sydney’s Oxford Art Factory three weeks in a row to showcase these acoustic tracks. That alone should tell you there’s something special here.

The Sound of Wings 2 represents what feels like a natural progression for Coptic Soldier. It’s a big step from his last release (despite both sharing tracks), and it’s where Coptic’s real talent starts to shine. Amongst the mountains of musical trash thrown at us every day, The Sound of Wings 2 proves there is always something special out there – you just have to find it.

Grab lead single “I Hate Sleep (Acoustic) feat. Charlie Mayfair” from Coptic’s triple j Unearthed page here, and pick up The Sound of Wings 2 online here!

FEATURE: In honour of The King of Limbs, I present…

Radiohead: A Retrospective

On Saturday the 19th of February, Radiohead’s long anticipated 8th album will be released – The King of Limbs.

As such, I thought it appropriate to showcase a track from each of their albums. And as I’m doing this properly, yes, I’ll even include Pablo Honey. It won’t be easy to pick the tracks, but it’s something to blog about, and I’m going to do it to the best of my ability.

So, without further ado…

Pablo Honey – “Blow Out”

As a general rule of thumb, Pablo Honey is ignored by most fans when discussing Radiohead. That’s because most of the people who enjoy Pablo Honey adore “Creep”, and in comparison to the rest of Radiohead’s work, “Creep” really isn’t very good.

That said, I find closer “Blow Out” to be quite nice. I heard an acoustic rendition which sounded particularly cool as well (you can find it here), but for the sake of keeping things simple, I’ll focus on the album version. Featuring numerous blasting guitar fills, and a really laid back opening riff, “Blow Out” feels like one of the best tracks on the album. A sign of the type of work to follow on The Bends – plain, but top quality rock. Nothing experimental and weird, but everything a typically great set of songs need.

The Bends – “Street Spirit (Fade Out)”

This one wasn’t particularly hard to pick. Not because The Bends is bad, but because “Street Spirit” is just such an evocative and brilliant song. The cathartic build-up throughout the song culminates in Thom singing “Immerse your soul in love”, and it closes the album perfectly. It’s really quite a moving piece, especially after listening to the album in full.

If you have a bit of spare time, read about the song on Wikipedia here. It’s interesting to read Thom’s thoughts on fans’ reactions to the song. The meaning behind “Street Spirit” is very dark indeed.

OK Computer – “Paranoid Android”

I’ll admit, this was a tough one to pick. OK Computer is full of great tracks, and to not pick some like “Climbing Up The Walls” or “Let Down” seems criminal. Ultimately, I went with “Paranoid Android” because it manages to do everything a great song should do. It sets a high benchmark for bands everywhere. From the cryptic lyrics to the brilliant guitar melodies at the start, the song moves to the melancholic “rain down” section, and manages to pick it all up at the end with a rush of guitars. The movement in this song showcases Radiohead’s skill at creating something more than just a simple song – “Paranoid Android” feels like it could be three songs stuck together, yet also feels like neither part would work without the others.

Kid A – “Idioteque”

Again, like OK Computer, this was no easy decision. Mainly because the material on Kid A is so diverse, yet most of it is very strong. I, however, have a public confession: I don’t like “Motion Picture Soundtrack” that much. I love the lyrics but there’s something about it I just can’t connect with.

Anyway, back to “Idioteque”. The pace and rhythms in this song make it really stand out as something so insanely primal. Thom’s relatively fast vocal lines evoke a sense of urgency and that’s what really drives the song forward. Like most of their albums, Kid A really is very good, and brings something different to the table, but “Idioteque” really stands out for me.

Amnesiac – “Pyramid Song”

Amnesiac is like the twin to Kid A, but slightly more experimental. Which doesn’t mean it’s bad, but it’s definitely an album worth listening to as a whole, and when you’re in the mood for it.

The live version of “Like Spinning Plates” is particularly beautiful, but as it’s not on the full length album, I’m going to go with the equally awesome “Pyramid Song”. The difficult-to-catch piano rhythms are, well at the risk of repeating myself – beautiful. This is one song I can connect with on an emotional level, and it’s hard to not sense the feeling running through Yorke’s lyrics.

“And we all went to heaven in a little row boat / There was nothing to fear, nothing to doubt.”

Hail to the Thief – “Go to Sleep (Little Man being Erased.)”

Hail to the Thief has its ups and downs. It feels like a mix between some of the darker elements of Amnesiac and a more refined, left of center version of the rock on The Bends, thrown in with some electronic influences.

“Go to Sleep” focuses on a little acoustic riff that repeats, building up to include the full band, complete with Jonny’s fills and all. It brings HttT back from it’s electronic influences onto firmer ground, and stands incredibly well on its own. A top song from a pretty good album.

In Rainbows – “Videotape”

And here we are – at possibly the hardest decision for me personally. In Rainbows is my favourite album by Radiohead – everything just works. With the exception of “House of Cards”, which seems just a notch below everything else (although it is a very tiny notch), I can’t imagine the album being any better.

I want to stress that In Rainbows should be listened to as a whole. I’ve picked “Videotape” because I believe it to be one of the best album closers I’ve ever heard. About death and life as a whole, it some how captures the beauty and relief of accepting life as it is, especially in the final lines.

“No matter what happens next, you shouldn’t be afraid / Because I know today has been the most perfect day I’ve ever seen.”

The descending piano patterns, and the syncopated drumming rhythms near the end of the song bring it to life and give it a sense of finality. Best heard after listening to In Rainbows as a whole, but none-the-less, an incredibly beautiful song on its own. This is one of Radiohead’s tracks that never fails to pull at me emotionally (yeah I’m a sook, shut up).

So, there you have it. My favourite track from each Radiohead album. That might change every now and then, but these tracks listed will always be up there in my favourites.

I’ll leave you with a stand out b-side of theirs. It’s called “Gagging Order” and is a little acoustic number. It’s very subtle, but the instrumentation and lyrics make it one of their best in my opinion. You can tell a band is good when even their b-sides are brilliant. Another b-side that you should check out is “True Love Waits”, but I’ll leave that up to you.

LIVE: Grafton Primary, live at The UC Refectory, Canberra (11-02-11)

Last Friday I got a chance to see Australian dance act Grafton Primary at the University of Canberra’s Refectory.

We arrived at about 9 o’clock, hoping to get in early and nab a good spot. To my dismay, it wasn’t necessary for two reasons. Firstly, various DJ’s had been booked to play until Grafton came on – their set time started around 11:30. Secondly, there were no more than 30 odd people in attendance, and with a venue the size of the Refectory, the crowd seemed even smaller and scattered around the room.

Luckily, my friend convinced the organisers to give us a pass out, and we left for the pub. Returning two hours later, we only missed the first song or two of Grafton’s set, and the crowd hadn’t grown too much, but I can say this – the band were cool enough to put on a show for us anyway. I always imagined that for some it could be hard to play to such varying crowd sizes, and it could be hard to get excited about playing in what looks like an empty room, but Grafton Primary did it, and they did it fairly well.

Being unfamiliar with most of the set material, I will say some of the songs sounded very samey – but that happens to me when I see some artists live with no prior knowledge. Sometimes it all kind of blends in. Though they did “All Stars” as an “encore”, which was nice to be able to sing along to something I knew.

The three of them put in a solid effort (although I was disappointed I didn’t see the keytar from the “Relativity” clip), and for such a small show, I was pleased they got an excited response from a few listeners up the front in the crowd. It’s always good to see people showing their appreciation and enthusiasm for a band, and Grafton certainly seemed to enjoy the people who sang along and got into it all. Time will tell whether their sound evolves into something more, or if they sit on what they have now. At any rate, it’s good fun, and their dance-floor electro style no doubt hits it’s target market right on the head. I have an underlying feeling that if it isn’t happening already, that the Australian public will soon become tired of a band like Grafton – not because Grafton are bad, they’re not, but because there seem to be a flood of bands like this around doing this thing already. Nothing reaches out and grabs me as a listener and demands my attention, or says “look at me – I do this exceptionally well”.

It was a fun gig, and Grafton play music which has a lot of appeal. Unfortunately, to get the exposure they probably want, they either need to move out more creatively, or somehow refine their style to reach that upper echelon of dance and pop music.

It’ll be interesting to see where they go, but they’re clearly a band determined to stick around – which is always a promising sign.

FEATURE: Albums Of The Year – 2010

2010 was one of those odd years where I can’t say I listened to a whole heap of new albums. For example Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs only got a few spins, despite how good I think it is, just because I got distracted I guess. Anyway, without further ado – my top few releases of 2010, and some not from 2010 too.

Album of the Year: Los Campesinos! – Romance Is Boring

I think I knew months ago that this would be my favourite. RiB displays LC!’s true talent in crafting amazingly evocative, relatable, indie-pop/twee music, and the size of the band (they’re an 8-piece) adds another dimension to their music. From start to finish this album doesn’t let up, and I really see it as the culmination of their hard work on previous releases. A brilliant album, well worth trying.

Notable mentions:

The National – High Violet

Birds of Tokyo – Self-titled

Dead Letter Circus – This Is The Warning

Delphic – Acolyte

Los Campesinos! – Alls Well That Ends [EP]

Johnny Foreigner – You Thought You Saw a Shooting Star But Yr Eyes Were Blurred With Tears and That Lighthouse Can Be Pretty Deceiving With the Sky So Clear and the Sea So Calm – EP

There are other releases out there I listened to, but not enough to really appreciate or develop a real opinion of – so I’ll leave them out.

The rest of the year was spent appreciating Johnny Foreigner’s two albums, which are absolutely brilliant. They have cemented themselves as one of my favourite bands in the past three months, and hopefully will one day get the recognition they deserve. I also discovered the rapper P.O.S. who is amazing, with a great delivery and provocative lyrics.

For those interested, the past twelve months on Last.fm show my top artists as:

  1. Los Campesinos! – 2471 plays
  2. Karnivool – 1354 plays
  3. Johnny Foreigner – 1264 plays
  4. The National – 959 plays
  5. Radiohead – 853 plays
  6. Birds of Tokyo – 787 plays
  7. Dead Letter Circus – 664 plays
  8. Bloc Party – 523 plays
  9. We Are Scientists – 325 plays
  10. Death Cab For Cutie – 258 plays
  11. Thom Yorke – 253 plays
  12. Queens of the Stone Age – 231 plays
  13. Josh Pyke – 223 plays
  14. Modest Mouse – 198 plays
  15. P.O.S. – 182 plays

Happy New Year everyone!