BRAND NEW/TOUR: Birds of Tokyo – “Plans”

I’ve been wondering for quite some time what Birds of Tokyo were doing with the new album. They released new single “The Saddest Thing I Know” a while ago (the clip is in 3D if you’ve got a pair of glasses floating around!), but there were no details on the new album.

But, good things come to those that wait. And things don’t get much better than this.

Due to be released on the 23rd of July, Birds of Tokyo’s third album, which is to be self-titled, is looking to be amazing. As always, Ian Kenny’s vocal melodies are brilliant. The softer ambient atmosphere is a bit of a throw away from previous tracks like “Silhouettic”, but let’s not forget, in terms of alternative music BoT really are on the poppier side of things, which is not intended as a derogatory description at all. I can easily see this being the album where they really break onto mainstream commercial radio. For such a solid band they deserve it too. So perhaps self-titling this album is the beginning of a new era for the band. Regardless of whether this actually happens or not, it doesn’t matter. This track is great, and I’ll be picking up their new album on release.

Birds of Tokyo have also announced an up-coming tour. It’s going to be their “every album tour”, and will showcase their new material alongside their classics. The band are now “bigger, bolder, more refined and more fearless”. And it certainly looks like they’re planning one hell of a special tour.


September 22, 2010 – Adelaide, SA

September 24, 2010 – Brisbane, QLD

September 26, 2010 – Hobart, TAS

September 30, 2010 – Sydney, NSW

October 01, 2010 – Melbourne, VIC

October 02, 2010 – Fremantle, WA


REVIEW: Tyrian Dawn – “A Mosaic of Memories and Musings”

Tyrian Dawn are a 5-piece from Melbourne, Australia, and considering “A Mosaic of Memories and Musings” was created completely by the band themselves (recording, mixing, and mastering) it’s really quite good.

I’m not going to go into some extensive description of every song. Instead, I’m going to tell you what this band is like as a whole. Tyrian Dawn make use of what seem like typical (yet at times effective) alternative rock guitar rhythms, but occasionally these seem to be burdened by an overly keen lead guitar. In moderation it works well, but some songs would be better without. This aside, the area they really excel in is the building up of atmospheric tension. Instrumental opener “Transient Daydream” is simply brilliant, it’s only fault being the fact it’s too short. I understand Tyrian Dawn aren’t a post-rock band, and that anything longer may be straying outside of their territory, but it’s really these moments that stand out.

Some songs see the band taking a different route, with the acoustic “A Ballad for Dubiety”, which contrasts excellently with the rest of the album. Other moments like the beginning of “Three Short Words” seem like they’re going to develop this aforementioned contrast, but then seem to swerve away entirely from any initial direction back to the typical alternative/punk rock style, which is a shame.

I’m not all whinging on this. Personally I might find the lead guitar a bit overwhelming, but I know plenty of people who wouldn’t. What remains to be said is that while they do these things that might not be entirely my cup of tea sometimes, they do them in a solid and consistent fashion. Which is more than can be said for a lot of other bands.

The material that Tyrian Dawn have managed to produce and create here, all by themselves, shows a few things. Firstly, it shows that Tyrian Dawn have the technical skills to do things on their own that a lot of other DIY bands can’t. Secondly, this material shows that they have the skills to craft songs to a level that gives them room to move, ensuing that provided they push their boundaries, their sound won’t stagnate or bore. Lastly, it shows that these guys are motivated. Without the pressure of a label, they worked at “A Mosaic…” till they were happy with it. And then gave it away for free.

I think what this album does seem to lack is a bit of direction and focus. Whilst the effort put into these songs shows, I get the feeling that Tyrian Dawn are yet to musically find their feet. They’re yet to find that creative niche, that instead of confining them will differentiate them from the pack and really help them break out and develop a larger fan base. I think a combination of time and experience, and the right producer for their next recorded effort, will set Tyrian Dawn on the path to finding a sound that will define them as musicians and artists.

Personally, for a record that runs close to an hour, I don’t think there’s enough diversity to keep it interesting and to warrant whole listens through. A shorter and more contrasting release will really see this band shine, and once they refine their sound and carve their own path musically (whether it’s by making more use of their brilliant atmospheric instrumentation or not) there’s every chance that they’ll get a lot of people talking.

Score: 6/10

You can download “A Mosaic of Memories and Musings” for free here.

If you feel like checking out some of the more stand-out tracks, try “Transient Daydream”, “Colours to the Mast”, “A Ballad for Dubiety”, “Shield of Lies”, “A Bittersweet Muse”, and “Of Grey and Sunset Skies”. They’re a pretty good indication of what Tyrian Dawn can do, so give them a go and make your own mind up.

If you’re in Melbourne on the 30th of June and can get yourself to The Ferntree Gully Hotel, I strongly recommend you do so. After winning a Battle of the Bands in late 2009 in Victoria, Tyrian Dawn landed a spot playing alongside The Butterfly Effect and Calling All Cars, so they clearly know what they’re doing as a live act. Go and check all 3 of them out and give them some support.

Other upcoming gigs include:

– ROOM six eight zero in Hawthorn, VIC, 7th May 2010 – doors at 9pm – $15 presale

– Ruby’s in Belgrave, VIC, 14th May 2010 – doors at 8pm – $10 presale

If you’re interested in either, contact: 0417 380 926 or

BRAND NEW: The National – "Afraid of Everyone"

I know I said I wasn’t going to blog much, but I couldn’t pass this opportunity up! A new song from The National!

"Afraid of Everyone" begins slowly, but manages to develop into a rumbling layered repetitive song, for want of a less negative sounding description. It isn’t a bad repetitive, but I do feel like certain sections are dragged on a tad too long. The guitar line adds a nice atmosphere to it though.

To be honest, it’s not quite up there with "Bloodbuzz Ohio". But altogether it isn’t bad. Might be more of a grower. But it certainly isn’t going to deter me from buying "High Violet", because I know that in a sense The National are an albums band. They have good songs that can stand on their own too, but it’s definitely more enjoyable to listen to an album completely when you’re in the mood for it.

Score: 6/10

Grab a free download from Pitchfork here.

VIDEO: Birds of Tokyo – “Heard It Through The Grapevine”

I don’t normally post covers, in fact I think this is probably the first post I’ve done for a cover. But this is just too amazing to not share.

First recorded by Smokey Robinson & the Miracles, and subsequently many many other artists and bands, "Heard It Through The Grapevine" was covered by (2 members of) Birds of Tokyo a while back for triple j’s Like A Version. Ian Kenny’s voice is outstanding, as it usually is in most of his work, and it somehow suits this delicate acoustic cover as well as it suits Karnivool’s head-banging progressive rock. Adam Spark’s finger-picking weaves into Kenny’s vocal melodies creating something very special indeed.

I know it’s only a cover, but I can’t get enough of it. This is just beautiful.

Score: 8/10

FEATURE: Albums Of The Year – 2009

1. Karnivool – Sound Awake:

An experimental outing relative to their debut, Karnivool have crafted nothing short of a masterpiece with this album. Put simply, this album is a grower. It’s one of those seemingly magical works that transcends logic by becoming more intriguing and enjoyable after every single listen. Rhythmically, Karnivool work on a level superior to most other bands I’ve heard. I’m not sure it’s possible to overstate how great this album is. Ian Kenny’s vocals are really something to behold. However if I was to recommend this band to someone, I would tell them to try their debut album “Themata” first. It’s more accessible and easy to get into, though it has many of the elements of “Sound Awake” in a slightly less experimental form. It’s a great stepping stone for approaching this amazing album.

Link to full review.

2. The Antlers – Hospice:

Hospice evokes a great deal of emotion in observant listeners through it’s tales of death, cancer, and relationships. A very moving album, it makes use of simplistic piano chords that resonate through low levels of ambient electronic noise, that contribute to the songs tonally. Lyrically it’s thematically similar throughout, though it’s incredibly well crafted. With lines like:

With the bite of the teeth of that ring on my finger,
I’m bound to your bedside, your eulogy singer.
I’d happily take all those bullets inside you and put them inside of myself,”

you just might wanna sit down and listen to this one carefully. It’s well worth the effort.

3. Taking Back Sunday – New Again:

Though nothing fancy and special, it’s a great catchy album full of typical pop-rock/punk songs. Nothing revolutionary, but it’s strong and fun, and I liked it. It’s as simple as that.

Link to full review.


Other honourary mentions, in no particular order of importance or worth:

The Temper Trap – Conditions:

A blend of catchy pop hooks and stylistically distinct vocals made “Conditions” the strong album that helped The Temper Trap achieve a moderate level of mainstream exposure across Australian commercial radio stations. Though this point is often associated as the beginning of a band’s downfall in terms of originality and livelihood – the fall into being controlled by industry giants in terms of creativity and sound – “Conditions” builds the foundations through which The Temper Trap can continue to grow and explore music. Hopefully they will.

Metric – Fantasies:

The electro-pop synths of Metric merge together with agile guitar hooks, all overlayed by Emily Haines’ entrancing vocal lines, to portray the confident sense of maturity inherent on this album. Moving from the dominating songs like “Sick Muse” to songs like “Twilight Galaxy”, which show a more delicate side of the album, helps display the diverse range of moods that are explored over the course of the LP. An engaging album that is an exciting look at what seemed like – to me – a stagnating style of music.

Passion Pit – Manners:

Infectious pop melodies dominate the debut from Passion Pit. The first 4 tracks are very good indeed. After that, it drops a bit, but manages to pick up before the end. “Sleepyhead” is short, but very catchy. Not a bad effort for their first album. I like it for the most part.

Future of the Left – Travels with Myself and Another:

Taking a raw, alternative rock sound, Future of the Left created an album full of simple and strong riffs, interspersed between harsh and powerful vocal lines. Stripping songs down to what seems like the essential qualities of fast, angry rock music, the album has it’s moments, with fills in-between that leave just a little to be satisfied. Despite giving it a score of 6.5/10 (maybe I was a tad harsh), it’s well built, and it’s just plain fun.

Link to full review.

Phoenix – Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix:

Catchy french pop/rock with distinctive vocals. This album really propelled Phoenix into a musical limelight. It’s quite good, but hasn’t caught on with me as much as I’d have liked it to. It’s one of those odd times when I can recognise how good something is, yet still not feel compelled to listen to it for some reason. Nevertheless, it’s a pretty good album.

The xx – xx:

The xx make slow, relaxing, and dare I say minimalistic music, that gives off an aura of spaciousness, while still seeming defined and not coming off as some band’s attempt at improvisation. Though the songs do seem to lag a bit in the middle, and the first half of the album does seem great deal stronger, they’re worth checking out. Plus the first track, “Intro”, is actually a very good introduction, which sets them apart from those bands who have introductions that seem to contribute absolutely nothing to the album.

REVIEW: Future of the Left – "Travels with Myself and Another"

Gravelly guitars hooks, simple, yet addictive drum beats, and strong and harsh vocals, combine in the form of Future of the Left, to deliver a mixed sophomore effort with “Travels with Myself and Another”. But personally, I think they still have potential for further musical development.

The album opens with the brilliant “Arming Eritrea”, the appeal of which lies in the rhythms of the verse, and the somewhat higher chorus.

Unfortunately, after the strong start, any now established expectations concerning the rest of the album are left to wither. Not completely though. Don’t take that the wrong way. There are other good songs on “Travels…”. But after the amazing start it’s hard to hide the disappointment that nothing else really holds up to “Arming Eritrea”. Hardly unsurprising considering how good the song is, but I’m just saying it how I hear it. “Drink Nike” and “That Damned Fly” both reach highly however.

Overall “Travels with Myself and Another” has a few standout songs, but the others just seem to fit in-between. A few great songs around a bunch of merely okay ones. Mostly stable in regards to it’s overall feeling, it will please some immensely, but I think Future of the Left have the potential to really create a more consistently good album.

Score: 5/10


Edit: It’s November 23, 2012, and reading this back I cringe. It’s a poorly written review (everyone starts somewhere though and it was one of my first), but I just want to say, my opinion of this album has drastically changed since. It’s worth much more than a 5. Check it out.