edgemag.com.au | autumn 2009
The music industry is a nightmare. You have to let it go, otherwise it could drive you mad Annie Lennox
music - books - film - arts - entertainment
â€œFame is just a silly thing, I just like making music.â€?
Van She Eric Bibb Kaiser Chiefs Howling Bells Chris Isaac The Sun Pilots Madeleine Peyroux Troy Cassar-Daley Adam Brand Women of country
autumn 2009 | edgemag.com.au
Howling Bells launch assault on airwaves with Radio Wars
with Jono & Dano It’s been another busy month on The Jono & Dano Show and like usual, we got the chance to speak with many big name guests. For instance; Seth Rogan, Richard Branson, Gary Numan, Rhys Darby, Kevin James, Martin Short and we even got the chance to put the hard word on the Leader of the Opposition, Malcolm Turnbull. We’ve also started a new segment on the show called ‘Gimmie Jimmy’. This is when we get our favourite artists to give us a version of one of their favourite Cold Chisel or Jimmy Barnes songs. For instance, Wendy Matthews did a version of Choir Girl and Russell Morris did a rendition of Cheap Wine. Both were great and there’ll be many more Gimmie Jimmy’s to come. Don’t forget to tune into The Jono & Dano Show weekday afternoons from 4-7pm across Australia.
By Alyssa Braithwaite/aap with Andrew G
Hey there, Andrew G here, with your update on what’s happening here at Take 40. We’ve been chatting to heaps of stars including the Kings of Leon, Jessica Mauboy, Fall Out Boy, Kevin Rudolph, Kelly Clarkson plus cast members from some of the 2009’s biggest films like ‘He’s Just Not That Into You’ and ‘Watchmen’! All those interviews are on take40.com right now as well as exclusive acoustic performances from Jessica Mauboy, The Fray and more! Make sure you head to take40.com to check it all out. Are you on Twitter? Take 40 have jumped on the Twitter bandwagon - follow us at www.twitter. com/take40 and get updated on what we’re doing on take40.com plus all the best music news wherever you are! Tune in to the nation’s biggest countdown, Take 40 Australia on a radio station near you every weekend - AND get exclusive video updates on your compatible Telstra Next G mobile!
London-based Aussie band Howling Bells are ready to take on the airwaves. Their debut, self-titled album was released to wide critical acclaim in 2006, with NME rating it a rare 9/10 and many declaring them a hidden gem. With their second album Radio Wars, out on March 6, the band are hoping for mainstream airplay and commercial success. “There’s a stigma about indie bands that they’re petrified of any kind of recognition or success,” frontwoman Juanita Stein told AAP. “But when I think of my favourite bands, I don’t think they knew they were indie bands, they were just trying to express themselves and connect with as many people as they could. “I don’t feel restricted by our genre of music.” Bass player Brendan Picchio sums up the band’s reach for the stars attitude: “No one wakes up in the morning and goes, today I’m
going to limit myself. Why limit your life? You get one shot at everything.” Howling Bells is made up of three-quarters of Sydney group Waikiki, which disbanded in 2003. Stein, her guitarist brother Joel Stein, and drummer Glenn Moule started Howling Bells with Picchio, and then uprooted themselves from sunny Australia to soak up the atmosphere and inspiration in London. The move paid off, and the attitude and mystery of the English capital has soaked into their sound. “We weren’t sure how it was going to influence us when we went there, but it gets inside you,” Juanita said. “It starts growing and it comes out in the strangest ways. “You find yourself writing, talking, moving, breathing differently after you’ve lived somewhere else.” Radio Wars sees the band’s songwriting themes expand from the intimate tales of
heartbreak on the last record to broader concepts of innocence and technology. The album got its title from the battles within the band over which radio station to listen to. “It started with a very fun concept of us getting in Glenn’s car all the time and we always change stations on the radio,” Juanita said. “And then it kind of took on a profound meaning from there on. “It started to mean a lot more to us, whether that be the technological revolution that we’ve written about in a few songs, the old world versus the new world, and other (interpretations).” Howling Bells have already supported bands like The Killers and Snow Patrol and will get to tour with them again when they return home for the V Festival in March. and April.
with Barry Bissell CROWDED HOUSE WOODFACE (1991) Seven years after Split Enz split, the music world was shocked by the news that Tim Finn was joining Neil’s band, Crowded House. Initially, the album was going to include a cover of the Hunters and Collectors classic Throw Your Arms Around Me, but the Crowdies decided to go with all originals (including the Paul Hester gem, Italian Plastic). Neil and Tim wrote half of the Woodface album together, including Weather With You (which became the band’s biggest UK hit), It’s Only Natural, Four Seasons In One Day and the first single, Chocolate Cake. This was probably not the right song to launch the album in
the US, seeing as it’s a wry look at the wacky world in America, but I still smile whenever I hear about “Mrs Hairy Legs”, as well as the line: “I saw Elvis Presley walk out of a 7/11, and a woman gave birth to a baby and then bowled 257”. The Americans didn’t like being sent up in Chocolate Cake – it failed to chart in the US, and the Woodface album reached just number 83. But four singles from the album cracked the UK Top 40, the album hit number six, and Princess Diana declared that Crowded House were one of her favourite bands. And they’re still one of my favourites.
edgemag.com.au | autumn 2009
It’s Not Me, It’s You Lily Allen EMI Out Now
What’s Right and What’s Real; Why Australia Loves Lily Allen By Louisa Andrews & Alyssa Braithwaite/aap Lily Allen has announced an Australian tour in June this year. It’s already sold out in three states, so I think it’s pretty safe to say that Lily’s music is quite highly thought of here. So when I sat down to write this article on her, naturally I began my research at the starting point of any serious, hard-hitting, investigative journalist – I typed her name into Google. After an hour or so of newspaper articles I can inform everyone that Lily Allen regrets the tattoo she received with actress Lindsay Lohan, has been kicked out of an Irish hotel room for bad behaviour, says that touring is bad for her sex life and has single-handedly become a onewoman episode of Ladette to Lady. Okay, so these headlines all make for interesting reading in the waiting room of the orthodontist, but surely all her shows haven’t sold out because of her tiff with Elton John? I mean, thousands of people aren’t paying to go to her concerts to see a drunken slagging match – you can get that for free on a street corner on a Saturday night. So I’ve decided to steer slightly away from Lily Allen the tabloid reporter’s dream,
and talk about her music instead. I first heard Lily’s single Smile from her debut album Alright, Still late one night on Triple J. I’ve since decided that her incredibly cheerful vocal delivery of a song that deals with appreciating the irony of a failed relationship is almost a little bit menacing, but then, I suppose that part of Lily’s appeal is her vaguely cockney, innocently childish voice, coupled with lyrics that have a deeper meaning than first perceived. Her latest album It’s not Me, it’s You has the same characteristics, perhaps to an even greater extent. Whilst Alright, Still demonstrates Lily Allen’s rather unique brand of observational, witty humour (particularly on her songs LDN and Friday Night), It’s not Me it’s You gives us a special insight behind the singer’s tabloid exploits and allows us a personal glimpse of the Lily Allen that wants to reconcile with a friend she was jealous of, and who appears dissatisfied with the superficiality of fame. Of course, the album still features Lily Allen’s apparent gift of
digging up dirt on past relationships (especially her poor boyfriend in Not Fair, who evidently lacked skills in the performance department, much to Lily’s dismay), but there is more of the social commentary that featured in LDN - issues ranging from a cultural dependence on drugs (in which Lily accuses everyone from politicians to teenagers of being ‘at it’) to the social perception that women are ‘past it’ if they reach thirty and aren’t settled down. So, I figured that Lily’s incorporation of reality into her songs indicated a sort of activism on her behalf – the voice of a generation and all that. Not so, apparently. Upon being asked if she was attempting to ‘define the times’, as it were, she told Alyssa Braithwaite of AAP “I never really have any aim apart from try to finish a song that day… There’s not really a bigger picture, there’s not really a concept at all. I just write whatever comes into my head.” And now I think I like her more than I did previously, because it would appear that instead of trying to speak for a generation, Lily Allen is just being part
Van She gearing up for another big year By Alyssa Braithwaite/AAP Electro-pop outfit Van She have no intention of resting on their laurels. The Sydney four-piece became one of the buzz bands of 2008, thanks to their hit remix of the Utah Saints’ song Something Good and the release of their top 10 debut album V. Bassist and vocalist Matt Van Schie said the band toasted their success during an end of year break, but aren’t feeling complacent. “I think a couple of the other guys took some time to celebrate - I heard about some big nights over the last couple of months,” Van Schie said. “I think I bought a new guitar with my success. I’m not the one to celebrate too much. “When something successful happens I go, ok cool, that’s not good enough. We’ve got to do something better now.” Van She are already starting to work on a follow-up album, as well as trying to get their music heard internationally. “We’re always working in our free time on trying to get some new stuff happening,” he said. “It’s very much in its very early stages, and we’re still going to try to push last year’s album to the UK and the
States this year, so there’s still a bit of work to do on that album. “We’re kind of doing both at the moment.” The band will head off overseas for tours in Japan and Europe in April, but first they’ll be doing another tour closer to home. Van She will climb on board the Bacardi Express music festival on rails later this month, for a train trip from Melbourne to Sydney via Wagga Wagga and Wollongong. They are one of bunch of bands, including British India, Bluejuice, The Lost Valentinos and headliners Groove Armada, to take part in the second Barcardi Express from March 26-28. “I just think it’s a really cool, interesting idea,” Van Schie said. “Other festivals are really, really fun for the punters, but I think this will be really fun for us. “It’s kind of like a holiday tour.” And just because they’re working hard, doesn’t mean they won’t be partying hard too. “I think definitely we’ll get into it and hang out and party a bit,” he laughed. “We’ve had the last month and a half to sober up, so I think we’ll be way back into the spirit of partying by then.”
of one. She doesn’t seem all that interested in her reputation or fame at all, for that matter, saying “Fame is just a silly thing. I just like making music.” Indeed, fame just seems to be another topic to challenge in a song – most noticeably in Lily’s hit song “The Fear”, in which she blatantly labels herself a weapon of mass consumption, like Britney Spears’ rant in Piece of Me, but less… sad and self-gratifying. Whether she has intended it or not, Lily Allen has indeed become an icon for her generation, however, she isn’t really doing anything out of the ordinary, is she? I find it a bit pathetic that all the Australian newspaper articles I found consider Lily’s behaviour (which is hardly original, anyway) exceptionally newsworthy but neglect to mention the fact that whatever the reasons, Australia clearly loves her. Perhaps it is her realism and people’s ability to relate to her that has led to Lily Allen being so successful. Either way, if her live show is anything like her latest album, the lucky ones that were fast enough to get tickets are in for an awesome time.
autumn 2009 | edgemag.com.au
Young beautiful women storming country music Katherine Field and Alyssa Braithwaite/aap They're young, talented and beautiful, and they're taking the country music scene by storm. Rising stars like Jasmine Rae, Taylor Swift, The McClymonts, Sinead Burgess, The Sunny Cowgirls and Shea Fisher are now dominating the genre that was once a largely male domain. And they are making it cool to like country. At the CMC Rocks the Snowys country music festival in Thredbo, the biggest attractions were the female performers. Among them were Melbourne musician Rae, 21, who is riding high after the release of her debut album last year. She said she could feel the camaraderie amongst the female artists. "We're all doing really well and we're all around the same kind of age but we've all got our own little thing that we do great," Rae said after coming off stage at the festival. "I think we're just going to rule the world soon. "It's such great music that's happening at the moment." Burgess, 18, describes herself as a "dork from Caboolture", but her stunning looks and success would suggest she is anything but. She has won a swag of awards and performed with Don McLean, James Blundell and Graeme Connors, and her debut album isn't due out until early 2010. Burgess believes country music is experiencing a resurgence thanks to the likes of US country superstar Taylor Swift making it cool. "People that may not have been country music fans in the first place, they just go `oh that's really cool'. It's really turning into a bit of a cool style," Burgess said at the event. At just 19 years of age, Swift is dominating the country and pop charts in the US and Australia thanks to her number
one album Fearless. Swift, who headlined CMC Rocks The Snowys, said she couldn't believe her success. "It's unbelievable to me that all of this has happened," Swift told AAP. Swift knows that much of her success lies with the fact she's been able to reach out to the pop audience, as well as the traditional country fans. "(Country) is always where I come back to and it's always there to remind me of who I am and what I love, but I love the fact that pop radio has played my music that makes me so happy." she said. Country star Deana Carter, 43, who made her first album in 1996 and last year released her fifth studio album, said she was delighted to see women do so well in this era. "The girls are kickin' it again," Carter said during her first ever trip to Australia. But she warned the girls to stay true to themselves, learn to stand up for themselves, and not get treated like a ‘piece of meat’, I feel like the older sister, watching their career, saying I hope they do that." While the future of country music looks safe in the hands of these talented young women, Aussie country favourite Troy Cassar-Daley said it was time for the boys to step up. "The girls are trumping them at the moment so to all the boys out there - stand up and be counted," Cassar-Daley said in Sydney this week. "I just haven't seen a lot of blokes come through that really are saying `I'm here, this is what I do, people', like Lee Kernaghan did in his day or myself. You've got to have an identity and I think that is what helps a lot of these girls through at the moment, the fact that they're focused and they know what's going on."
Kaiser Chief Nick Hodgson writes with Duran Duran By Alyssa Braithwaite/aap
With songs like Ruby, I Predict A Riot, and Never Miss A Beat, British rockers Kaiser Chiefs have proved they know how to write a catchy hit with a big chorus. Now their chief song-writer, drummer Nick Hodgson, is helping UK 80s sensations Duran Duran write material for their new album. Hodgson was brought into the studio with Simon Le Bon and co by producer Mark Ronson, who worked on the Kaiser Chief’s last album Off With Their Heads. The Kaiser Chiefs landed in Australia this week ahead of a national tour and V Festival performances. Hodgson said he was still coming to terms with the fact he was working with the band behind Rio and Girls on Film. “I’ve been listening to a lot of Duran Duran on a flight I’ve just taken, and they are very interesting songs really,” Hodgson told AAP. “I always liked them. It seems so strange to be talking about it.” Ronson has compared Kaiser Chiefs to Duran Duran, telling NME “there’s a lot of Kaiser Chiefs songs I could imagine being on a Duran Duran record 25 years ago”. It is the first time Hodgson has written with anyone other than Kaiser Chiefs singer Ricky Wilson, but he said
he didn’t change his songwriting style for the collaboration. “I had to think to myself, `right, do I care whether they like me?” he said. “I had to make that decision in my head before because I kept thinking, `I could just be quiet and not be myself, but then we wouldn’t get anything done’. “So I was willing to sacrifice being popular for actually getting something done. But I think it was quite a nice balance really.” Kaiser Chiefs are riding high at the moment. They released their third album late last year, and say their latest tour has been their biggest and best yet. In Australia Never Miss A Beat is currently being used in Network Ten’s AFL promos, and they are looking forward to playing to thousands of fans around the country over the next week. But after wrapping up their international touring commitments, the band are looking to taking a break for the first time in five years. “Let’s call it a holiday,” Hodgson said. “As soon as one of us said we were taking a break the papers in England said we were splitting up, so we call it a holiday now. “I’m going to sit in the garden and feed the birds and survey what I have created.”
Madeleine Peyroux focuses on songwriting on new CD By Charles J Gans/AP
Madeleine Peyroux walks about with a guitar case strapped to her back, ready to make music, as she's done since her teenage years when she busked on the streets of Paris singing old-style jazz and blues songs. But she's no longer just playing a guitar or singing: on her new CD, Bare Bones, she had a hand in writing each of the 11 songs. It's a daring high-wire act for the 34-year-old singer who for the first time is working without the safety net of covering songs associated with Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday, Hank Williams, Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen, among others. That approach helped launch her career in 1996 with the critically acclaimed debut album Dreamland, followed eight years later with her second CD, 2004's Careless Love and then 2006's Half the Perfect World. Her last two CDs sold over 2 million copies worldwide. While she co-wrote four songs on Half the Perfect World, she said after its release that she wasn't overly interested in proving herself as a songwriter, and felt comfortable in her role as an interpreter of others' songs. Still, she always had a desire to write, and with Bare Bones, her songwriting dreams were completely realised. "It's almost as if I were doing my first album over again," said Peyroux, very much the un-diva, dressed in black, her long brown hair parted in the middle, and wearing little or no makeup. "It feels like I have a clean slate to work with artistically. ... I think it's what's going to keep me going." Peyroux credits producer Larry Klein, the ex-husband and longtime collaborator of Joni Mitchell, with encouraging her to develop her songwriting skills since they first worked together on Careless Love, which had only one original song. As producer, he enlisted such songwriting talent as Norah Jones' collaborator Jesse Harris, Steely Dan's Walter Becker, Joe Henry, Julian Coryell and David Batteau to help chisel Peyroux's music and lyrics for Bare Bones. "At the very beginning, on Careless Love, Maddie was very clear that her dream was to sing the songs that she wrote ... and I could tell she had the seed of being a great writer inside her because ... she knows what makes a good song," Klein said in a telephone interview. "I think this record has really given her the confidence to dedicate herself to exploring songwriting in a committed way." Musically, Peyroux says she's working with the same palette as on her previous three albums - a blend of jazz, Americana roots music and especially the blues, all filtered through a contemporary prism. Although she's not singing any Bessie or Billie songs, Peyroux says black American female blues singers still help shape her identity. She dedicated the album's one entirely self-penned song, I Must Be Saved, to her "spiritual grandmother," Odetta, who died in December. Peyroux toured with her in 2006. "The song really reminds me a lot of my own life," said Peyroux, interviewed in a French cafe on Manhattan's
Bare Bones Madeleine Peyroux Decca/Universal Out now
Lower East Side. "It doesn't matter, somehow we always get through, we lose and then we continue." Bare Bones is Peyroux's most revealing, personal statement to date, but its songs resonate more broadly in these troubled times. The opening track, Instead, is a retro blues with an uplifting message that sounds as if it could have been sung during the Great Depression. The CD closes on a hopeful note with Somethin' Grand, which she wrote "in support of the new era with Barack Obama." In between, Peyroux mixes tragedy with comedy - sometimes in the same song as on You Can't Do Me. The ballad Our Lady of Pigalle, for which she has also written lyrics in French, mixes a scenario of a woman being propositioned walking around the streets of Paris late at night with references to her being a symbol of salvation. She also deals with darker themes from her tumultuous life story. Songs such as the title track and River of Tears explore her troubled relationship with her father, an alcoholic and aspiring actor, who died in 2005. "I would say that the central theme of the record is that you can survive anything," producer Klein said. Peyroux, who said she spent time in a domestic violence shelter as a child before moving to Paris with her mother after her parents divorced, is donating $US1 from every ticket sold on her current tour to local charities affiliated with the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. After her US appearances, she will begin a threeweek European tour in late April. Bare Bones was the first song Peyroux started writing for the CD and the last one finished. It was inspired by a passage from a book by Buddhist nun Pema Chodron, When Things Fall Apart: Heartfelt Advice for Difficult Times. "She says it would be good for people to go back to a bare bones philosophy," said Peyroux. "I think it's the overarching theme for me of trying to figure out what essentially matters to someone, and realising that you lose it all anyway." At age 22, the untrained singer wasn't quite ready to handle the pressures that followed the success of Dreamland which had critics raving about how her smoky alto voice seemingly channelled Billie Holiday. Her second album was indefinitely delayed after she developed a cyst on her vocal cords and had to rest her voice. She dropped out of sight - travelling, writing, exploring religion, busking in Paris again and playing for tips in small New York clubs - before the independent Rounder label signed her in 2003. Peyroux discovered that what really mattered to her was just playing music whether in the streets or a concert hall or festival stage. "It's happened that I just might hear a really great musician playing in the subway and try to jump in," said Peyroux, who has never forsaken her freewheeling roots as a street musician. "Playing music is the highest high for me. It allows me to ... define myself and my life."
edgemag.com.au | autumn 2009
Butterfly by Sonya Hartnett
Dexter by Design
Published by Penguin $29.95
Reviewed by Louisa Andrews
Since winning the 2008 Astrid Lindgren Award, the whole world has been watching out for what Sonya Hartnett would write next. Mitchell Jordan reviews the latest offering from one of Australia’s most prolific writers. Sonya Hartnett’s first novel, Trouble All the Way, was published when she was 15 and told the story of an ordinary teenage boy growing up in the suburbs. Since then, her books have generally all been set in the most remote of landscapes: the Great Depression, exhausted country towns and treacherous forests, earning her a reputation as a Southern Gothic writer. In her latest novel, Butterfly, Hartnett comes full circle to present a portrait of thirteen-yearold Ariella ‘Plum’ Coyle. Spanning only a few weeks in a stifling, suburban summer during the 1980s, Butterfly charts both the miniscule and momentous events that occur in the lead-up to Plum’s fourteenth birthday. Like most teenagers, Plum is wracked with self-doubt: her body is not how she would like it to be; the girls she calls her friends are monsters
in disguise and at home, her parents and older brothers, Cydar and Justin, are each fighting a ravaging emptiness. When the Coyle’s neighbour, the dreamy and idyllic Maureen, offers Plum her friendship and adult guidance, all of these concerns shrink as Plum focuses solely on becoming the sort of girl Maureen would like her to be – at a cost. Young children and youth have always featured heavily in Hartnett’s novels and this is one of the many reasons she has been considered a writer of young adult fiction. But Plum is character who belongs just as much to older readers; she is a fractured mirror exposing the imperfections of the adults around her, most of whom are just as vulnerable as she is. Unlike most of Hartnett’s books, which share an intense claustrophobia, Butterfly is heavily populated with characters, all of whom
have some bearing on Plum’s kaleidoscope of anxieties. Hartnett manages the juggling act well, painting each character perfectly in this cinematic portrait that is as voyeuristic, disquieting and mysterious as Gus Van Sant’s Elephant or Paranoid Park. As the central character, Plum’s woes and worries may appear annoying on the surface, but it is unlikely that readers won’t find themselves quickly transported back to their own teenage years and recall the lonely lunch hours, deflating birthday parties and battle for acceptance that is all an unescapable part of adolescence. Shimmering with rich metaphors, vignettes and crisp dialogue, Butterfly is a wonderful snapshot, a transient tale of growing up and finding yourself. Its wings stretch widely enough to carry us all to new and unfamiliar places.
the edge recommends
Vertigo by Amanda Lohrey Published by Black Inc
Breaking the Spell By Jane Stork Published by Macmillan
Tea Time for the Traditionally Built by Alexander McCall Smith Published by Little Brown
Young couple Anna and Luke have had enough of life in Sydney and make the move to the sparsely populated Garra Nalla. At all times, the weather shapes their new lives. Anna realises that: “In the city the weather is just a backdrop to your day … In the country the weather is the plot.” The isolation they once found endearing soon becomes the force that will change their lives and drive the idealistic lovers apart as Anna years for the convenience of city life while Luke retreats inside himself. When bushfires encroach upon Garra Nalla, the two are propelled into a confronting situation where the past rages and roars as strong as the inferno they must fight against to survive. Full of clever tricks and strong writing, Vertigo is an accomplished and impressive novella.
Growing up in post-war Western Australia, and embarking on the familiar path of raising a family, Jane Stork’s life took a twist when she entered her thirties. Seeking answers through a meditation centre, Jane became devoted to Indian guru, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, a man who would be responsible for changing her life and identity. Moving to the US with Rajneesh, Jane noticed his behaviour become increasingly erratic and what began as spiritual enlightenment descended into darkness as she sacrificed her marriage and children, gaining freedom only through an attempt at murder. After serving time in the US, Jane tried once more to start a new life in Germany; but a new life would not be possible unless she faced her past first. In this compelling memoir, Jane lays down the truths of her experience with a sometimes painful honesty that calls in many questions over the role of religion. Ultimately, Breaking the Spell is even further proof that real life is stranger than fiction.
Some detectives rely on magnifying glasses and the like, but Botswana’s first and only lady detective, Mma Precious Ramotswe, is quite content with a pot of bush tea. For the last 11 years, McCall Smith has been delighting readers around the world with these warm and gentle novels, and the tenth instalment continues the adventures of Mma Ramotswe, a “traditionally built” lady fond of a tea break and a yearning for the old way of life. In this novel, Mma Ramotswe and her assistant, the shrewd and ever-efficient Mma Makutsi, investigate some strange happenings at the once undefeatable football team, the Kalahari Swoopers. Outside of work, Mma Makutsi is enraged when her archenemy, Violet Sephotho, returns with the intent of stealing her fiancée. It may sound like the stuff of high drama, but Tea Time for the Traditionally Built gets off to a slow start with its myriad of sub plots before eventually finding its feet half-way through.
By Mitchell Jordan
By William Pfaff
By Mitchell Jordan
by Jeff Lindsay Published by Orion Books America’s most adorable serial killer is back in Jeff Lindsay’s fourth installment of his acclaimed Dexter series in Dexter by Design. Adapted into a vastly popular television series, Dexter has slashed his way into the hearts and minds of crime fans everywhere. Blood spatter analyst by day, serial killer by night, Dexter Morgan is once again trying to balance his career with his sinister hobby, as well as managing his attempted ‘normal’ relationship with his new bride, Rita. However, when a new series of grisly murders is investigated by the Miami PD, Dexter and his Dark Passenger (the voice that accompanies him on his murderous adventures) happily prepare to unleash their somewhat warped sense of justice on the scene. Lindsay’s fans will be pleased and fascinated by Dexter’s latest exploits – from Dexter’s deadpan description of his honeymoon with Rita to his rather shocking revelation on the final page. Dexter’s narration wavers between thirdperson emotional detachment and cynical, darkly humorous observations of his world, which makes for a captivating, if not slightly disturbing read. Likewise, fans of the televised series will find this enjoyable – keep in mind, though, that many spoilers will be revealed for the upcoming season. However, the characterisation of the titular character appears more sinister and menacing in the book series than on television, where he is shown as having a bit more of an ethical conscience, and there are enough differences in the characters and plot to successfully differentiate between the two mediums. That being said, as a note for the TV fans deciding to try the books, make sure you start at the beginning, with Darkly Dreaming Dexter, as there are indeed enough changes to leave you rather confused! Dexter by Design is an absorbing combination of gruesome, twisted crime and deadpan, sarcastic humour. Dexter himself is a mesmerizing character, and his latest escapade is a worthy addition to a saga that deserves its critical acclaim
one of five copies of Dexter By Design courtesy of Orion/Hachette Australia. To win a copy email or write and in 25 words or less, tell us why Dexter By Design belongs on your bookshelf. Email to email@example.com or write to The Edge, PO Box 476 Darlinghurst NSW 1300. Entries close May 30th 2009
autumn 2009 | edgemag.com.au
Ben Lee The Rebirth Of Venus Universal
My Bloody Valentine in 3D By Kirily Suggett My Bloody Valentine is a new slasher film, which has been presented in the 3D format to try to add an extra dimension of thrill for the viewer. The film delivers the usual expectations of this genre; gory murders, pursuits of witless victims, sex and nudity, and humourless lead characters. The film is shot to cast suspicion on various characters as the murderer. And of course, just when you sure you know who it is, you’re asking yourself, “Is it? Isn’t it? But I could have sworn…?”
The 3D format could have been used to better advantage. There were some scenes that were executed well enough to make you think about dodging the weapon, but this effect could have been used a little more, even with scenes that weren’t focused on murders. The 3D effect didn’t take from the film, but it could have been just as effective without it. The characters and reactions were stereotypical, I look forward to the day when a screen writer can create a slasher film where the murderer doesn’t stand and glare at its prey, and the lead female is not witless enough to point a gun at the murderer and not have the balls to do anything but stare as he tries to strangle her lover. For a stereotypical and predictable slasher flick, fans will enjoy the ironic humour thrown in, the gore and blood of the murders, and the satisfaction of the imagination used to kill some of the victims.
Aussie Ben Lee has been known to write some catchy pop tunes, and while his latest offering Rebirth Of Venus has all the ingredients that have worked for him in the past. The songs are catchy, happy, almost arm waving sing along to at a beach barbeque or church in a suburban industrial shed. The twelve songs begin with What’s So Bad (About Feeling Good) set to rival Catch My Disease tune, it is simply a commercial anthem. The penultimate track, Families Cheating At Board Games is quirky with a gospel feel. . . “Break away from what you know — you are not alone / We can build a brand new world — we are not alone”. The track I Love Pop Music has a guest appearance from Missy Higgins and Patience Hodgson. Following this, Lee offers, Yoko Ono. Boy With A Barbie continues the sensitive, new age guy theme and achieves this through distorted vocals and keyboards. Bad Poetry is a song that lives up to its title, poor lyrics accompanied by a bad tune. Next up is Blue Denim then I’m A Woman Too is more more of the same. This album would be great fun at a beach barbeque. - [Mark Harris]
Enya And Winter Came Warner
The Ten Tenors. Nostalgica. Warner Music.
Enya has always been a pleasure for me. Her Celtic influences with her almost unearthly vocals and song writing abilities have combined to produce music on And Winter Came that is both emotional and mysterious. While her sound falls into the adult contemporary category, it is very unique and respected worldwide. This is a typical Enya release. Ten of the twelve songs are original and she continually overdubs her voice until it sounds like a virtual choir. The music permeates into one body and gives rise a mood that allows the mind to roam. My only real complaint is with the flow of the album, an unlikely order for the tracks as the songs, particularly on the second half of the release, come across as individual parts rather than a smooth whole. The first four tracks are traditional Enya and find her at her best. And Winter Came, with its beautifully constructed music is a fitting introduction to this album. It sets the mood for what will follow. Journey Of The Angels is slow, religious, and beautiful and shows the purity of her vocal tone. White Is In The Winter Night is upbeat and inspirational. Enya presents a traditional Christmas hymn, O Come, O Come, Emmanuel her voice just floats above the instrumental track. My! My! Time Flies! is a pop tune and even features a guitar sound, it’s a nice counterpoint to her wonderful harmonies on the children’s tune, Toy Soldier and a Gaelic version of Silent Night, titled Oiche Chiuin. And Winter Came is a satisfying addition to Enya’s magical catalog. [MH]
At first glance, the crowded photo of ten, well dressed opera singers (I counted them, there are actually ten) and the fact that this is my mother’s favourite group made me quite hesitant to give ‘Nostalgica’ my time. However, upon first listening, the incredible sound of The Ten Tenors, with one of the world’s best orchestras, was enough to blow away all my preconceptions and melt my heart. If the commercial nature of The Ten Tenors causes you to hesitate, then reconsider. The group started out busking on the streets of Brisbane as a way to get some extra cash as they make their way through their studies at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music. This foundation has paved the way for their latest album ‘Nostalgica’, which is a compilation of songs most commonly requested from fans. Filled with heartfelt harmonies and nothing short of incredible accompaniment from the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra (internationally know for being the cheapest Orchestra to hire), new life is given to the songs they perform. There is nothing wrong with doing a standard when it is done this well. They are everything a good vocal group should be, dynamic, passionate, moving and a lot of fun. I’m not entirely convinced they are all tenors, some of those harmonies are pretty high! Nevertheless, it’s just so great that there are talented Australians out there making a name for themselves on the international stage. This album is for absolutely everybody. [Denning Isles]
Seun Kuti and Fela’s Egypt 80 Many Things Cartell Music/Tot Ou Tard VF Music From out of the Ashes of tragedy and despair comes ‘Many things’ by Seun (pronounced “Shehoun”) Kuti and Fela’s Egypt 80. Better known as the son of the late Fela Kuti, Seun is Nigera’s answer to political afro beat as he leads his father’s former band Egypt 80. ‘Many Things’ delivers incredible funk, filled with the corruption, ignorance and sadness that ravage contemporary Africa. At the same time, it is a musical treasure, full of flamboyant, jubilatory songs that make you want to get up and dance. Every track on this CD is a statement against the corruption and carelessness of some African leaders. From Think Africa and Many Things to Na oil and African Problems the themes burn. Seun’s own raging rhythms are clearly influenced by rap. He cites Chuck D, Dr Dre and Eminem among his musical heroes. Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 are more than just an orchestra, they’re a musical family who deserve enormous respect for having stayed united so long, especially since Fela’s last years and those that followed were so hard. All you have to do now is listen to the album and understand why other dance music seems so desperately mechanical, static and dull compared to the incredible Afro beat of Seun Kuti and Fela’s Egypt 80. So are you ready to dance like crazy to the misfortunes of Africa? Just be sure to dance and listen to what Africa is telling us. [DI]
Brandy Human Sony Music It’s been four years since Brandy released an album. Human’s release shows the resilience of this artist whose personal life during that time has gone from one disaster to another. HUMAN is competent and balanced. The first song off HUMAN Right Here (Departed) is a thoughtful, comforting song about surviving difficult times. Now reunited with executive producer Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins, who first collaborated with Brandy on her successful 1998 album Never Say Never, HUMAN shows a new and intriguing side of Brandy. In The Definition she declares a clean slate with trembling resilience. Through R&B like everyone together now and Warm It Up (With Love) and soul-searching ballads like Human and Fall there’s no denying Brandy’s sincerity. Human is a staid album in Brandy’s catalog and could very well become her most enduring one. The best song is near the end A’Capella (Something’s Missing), allows Brandy’s ability to shine. [MH]
Soundtrack Confessions of A Shopoholic EMI
Trouble Andrew Remixed-Remastered Indie, Alternatice, Electro, Post-Punk Virgin Records
As a background accompaniment, an accessory if you wish, to the chick flick Confessions of A Shopoholic, this soundtrack fails. Instead of being the backing track that fashion show sticks swish and sway to on the runway, this hard hitting dance soundtrack backs a sexily clad Latino woman who bumps and grinds her way off the catwalk and into the club where she ultimately takes centre stage. It’s a long night of grooving and booty shaking and when the morning after arrives, it is met with a sweet change of crooners and ballads, of Macy Gray and Natasha Beddingfield – making this a truly dynamic listen. Practically all-woman, (save for two tracks) although this soundtrack is riddled with chart-toppers such as the The Pussycat Dolls and Lady Gaga, it also welcomes a handful of new up-and-comers to the R&B scene, the most notable of which is Miss Jessie James. Channeling Christina Aguilera’s sass and power vocals, James is indisputably the sex in this sexy shopping spree. Girls everywhere, enjoy. [Stephanie Yip]
Trouble Andrew, A.K.A. Trevor Andrew, proves to the world that it’s not what you know, it’s who you know that can take you to the top. The professional adolescent got into music after a bad snowboarding injury that required surgery, forcing Andrew off the slopes for 9 months. Getting back into his roots of the punk-rock music that originally inspired him. He then begun writing and was lucky enough to land a record deal that is arguably influenced from his success as an international cover boy for various skating and snowboarding magazines. Trouble Andrew’s Remixed - Remastered is a collection of catchy tunes of electropunk that almost reaches into hip-hop. This is where pop music is at. You might not like it, but the kids are gonna dig this one. Look out. [DI]
The Jezabels The Man is Dead MGM Distribution With the musical depth and maturity of Bloc Party, coupled with haunting melodic female vocal lines reminiscent of Kate Bush, The Jezabels have definitely shown to be unique and refreshing additions to the Sydney Indie music scene. Their EP, The Man is Dead proves to be merely a tiny sample of the huge potential this band has, and is certainly one worth acquiring. Standout tracks include Electric Lover and Be a Star, although all the tracks on The Man is Dead are impressive. The Jezabels are definitely a band to watch out for. [Louisa Andrews]
The Cat Empire Live On Earth. EMI After 6 years, 8 albums and over 650 shows The Cat Empire Return with Live From Earth. A double CD of over 20 tracks of their best known songs recorded live from various concerts around the world. Some bands simply come alive on stage. With The fireworks of the band and the energy of the screaming crowd and with those riffs that are just so damn catchy, you can easily see why The Cat Empire have gained their world wide success. The Cat Empire are another Australian group making a good name for themselves on the international stage. Live On Earth is Incredibly fun. If it doesn’t make you get up and dance, it will at least make you smile. You deserve a CD like this. [DI]
The Devoted Few Baby, You’re a Vampire Alternative, Indie. Inertia/Laughing Outlaw Records The devoted few are another great band to originate from the streets of Sydney. Their latest effort, Baby you’re a vampire, is a superb effort from songwriter and front man Ben Fletcher, who recorded this after a world tour as Sarah Blasko’s lead guitarist. Similar to the styling of Eskimo Joe, Faker and Augie March. This album is incredible. Its hard to listen to anything else. Only one question remains. What are doing still reading this, why aren’t you heading off to buy this album right now? [DI]
edgemag.com.au | autumn 2009
“Turn up your radio. Watch lots of telly and eat loads of choc. Feel guilty. Stay up all night. Learn everything in six hours that has taken you two years to compile. That’s how I did it” Dawn French
Andrew Morris Needs and Wants ABC/Universal
Compilation Future Pop 2.0 EMI
Needs and Wants is the 4th solo album form Brisbane-born artist Andrew Morris. Taking a new approach from his previous guitar driven albums, number 4 delivers a set of soulful anthems alternatively composed on piano. The single Lover, is a perfect example of piano driven melodies that collide with the modern styling of such artists as James Taylor and Powder Finger. Church organs and gospel choirs make a regular appearance on this attempt to make a classical soul album. In a hope to be authentic in its recording style, Communal and live, Andrew Morris has created something that would satisfy a Lover of soul music, an old fan and a newcomer looking for that fresh sound that represents a little bit of who they are. is love is evident. He has a lot to say and created a remarkable channel in which to say it. Watch this space. [DI]
The latest Future Pop offering is packed with pop hits and synth tunes guaranteed to keep electro girls and boys up pulling shapes way past bedtime. This compilation is brilliant because it features music from all over the commercial spectrum; from pop heavyweights Kylie Minogue, Lady Gaga and Cyndi Lauper, to runaway successes MGMT and The Presets; from electro up-andcomers Empire of the Sun and Ladyhawk, to Triple J frequenters Grafton Primary and The Black Kids, and has been remixed by some of Australia’s most promising DJ sets, like Van She Tech and Cut Copy. Seriously, this compilation has been put together so well, every track compels you to get up and dance. In short, Future Pop 2.0 is perfect for any situation that requires a pair of enormous, neon-coloured sunglasses. [LA]
Red Jumpsuit Apparatus. Lonely Road. Virgin/EMI Lonely Road is the second album from American Rock/Emo band The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus. Having their first album go gold, selling over 500,000 copies with the help of single ‘Face Down’ (2006), which become quickly overplayed on MTV, left a lot to be desired for a growing worldwide fan base. The Sophomore effort moves away from the clichés of ‘self-pity’ and ‘hating the world’, but rather into territory often unexplored by this particular genre, such as family, faith and even love. Despite following the formulae of what you would expect from an emo/ rock band, there is an evidence of a maturity and perspective that comes through in their song writing ability and musicianship. Despite the obvious influence from the Les Mis musical, this album is nothing revolutionary. Easy and enjoyable listening, Lonely Road fails to deliver that one hard hitting single that is needed for it to set its self apart from a sea of bands that sound exactly the same. It’s the vocals of Placebo with the music of The Used, only happier. [DI]
The Wildes Ballad of a Young Married Man Select Global Country, Folk.
Franz Ferdinand Tonight Indie, dance, rock. Sony/Domino Records
Julie Kember Sugar and Stone. Pop, Acoustic rock. MGM/Stonemark Records
Question. Your canoeing up a river and your wheels fall off, so who much custard does your dog eat before you inflate your Tuesday? Isn’t it obvious? Ice doesn’t have any bones! No, it doesn’t make any sense, and neither does this album. In a world of personal profiles and portable pod casts who would be crazy enough to make an album of Folk Ditties, Sea Shanties and Murder Ballads? The Wildes would. The self proclaimed unfashionable romantic-story tellers are back with their forth coming album Ballad of a Young Married Man. An honest look at life through the eyes of a story teller. It’s a down to earth, raw experience that is somewhat a dying art in our society. Honest music, along the lines of Nick Cave and Bob Dylan, in a predominately country album. Still gives its listeners a lot variety within that genre. So whether you’ve just lost your job, gotten a parking fine or broken your toaster, The Wildes feel you could use a good story. That’s what they’re here for, so why not become a little bit uncool yourself and tune into The Wildes. [DI]
Franz Ferdinand is back on the scene with their third studio album ‘Tonight‘. This is a hearty effort that is the band’s most complete work to date. Most definitely worth the wait. We first met Franz in 2004, with their single ‘Take Me Out’. And now, 5 years, 2 albums and multiple awards down the track, the group are going strong and are showing no signs of slowing down. The First single from Tonight ‘ No you girls’ has already hit the charts and shows their growth as musicians as they use an actual human skeleton for percussion. A much more thought though album, drawing inspiration from Africa beats, Jamaican reggae stars and Russian Polyvox synthesizers. Although staying true to their multi award wining sound. Taking bold strides into the future, Franz Ferdinand has taken the dance-rock scene by storm, proving that they are the master of their art and have yet again outdone themselves [DI].
She hailed from outback WA, has busked in London, recorded in Taiwan, performed in Afghanistan and has had music featured on the TV show Heroes. Sydneysider Julie Kember has already achieved so much in her career as a singer/songwriter. The self proclaimed dreamer holds her heart on her sleeve with her latest release Sugar and Stone. A collection of songs, that’s she states, “is a raw and powerful example of a tormented heart singing honestly to the world.” A little commercial for some, this album is for those who like the acoustic vocals of Jewel, Tori Amos or Josh Pike. [DI]
Saving Abel Saving Abel Virgin/Skiddco Have you ever heard a new song on the radio and felt like you already knew it or mistaken it for about 7 other songs only to find out, to your disappointment, that its actually a new one? Well, ‘That’s our band’ claims lead singer Jared Weeks of rising band Saving Abel. Whether you call it accessible and comfortable, or repetitive and monotonous, the fact remains that newcomers Saving Abel have hit the scene in a big way. First single ‘Addicted’ (showing they are not afraid to hide their crudeness behind a metaphor), has already had ample air play and paved the way for ‘18 Days’ the follow-up with more of an acoustic feel. It’s everything you’ve heard before and less. If you’ve been around the block more than once, it will be hard to get past the fact that these guys are like everything you’ve heard before, something along the lines of Nickleback and Three Doors Down. I guess you could take up the argument, if it aint broke don’t fix it. Nevertheless, a well written and well produced album from Saving Abel, that fit’s the mould a little too well. [DI]
Van Morrison Astral Weeks Live at the Hollywood Bowl EMI
Lily Allen It’s Not Me, It’s You EMI
The Whitest Boy Alive Rules Inertia
It’s Not Me, It’s You tackles a variety of big issues ranging from sexual discrimination to sexual dissatisfaction, delivered in Lily’s distinct upbeat, ladette style. However, included on Lily’s successor to her extremely successful debut album Alright, Still are several tracks (particularly Back to the Start and He Wasn’t There – songs both written about Allen’s immediate family) that present a more personal, slightly self-deprecating side to the notorious singer – allowing us a rare insight into the enigma that is Lily Allen, and suggesting that behind her reputation of drunken slagging matches with Elton John is a thoughtful, socially aware and relatable songwriter. With standout tracks including Everyone’s At It, 22 and current chart hit The Fear, It’s Not Me, It’s You proves to be a worthy followup from one of Britain’s most fascinating young talents. [LA]
After performing an effortlessly cool live show alongside Klaxons and The Presets at Modular Records birthday festival, Nevereverland, The Whitest Boy Alive’s follow-up album to the critically acclaimed Dreams shows the German band to be perfectly capable of transferring the energy and skill of their live show to record. Whilst subtly edging away from the pop feel of Dreams, the chilled-out, spacey disco element of Whitest Boy’s more mature sound is great to listen to, and Rules is an excellent showcase of the four-piece’s talents. This album is worth acquiring if only for its sheer versatility – The Whitest Boy Alive appears to be just as comfortable creating electro/ house music perfect for a crowded dance floor as they are providing for an iPod. Listen especially for the track Intentions – a Triple J favourite, and a great song. [LA]
If there is only word that should be used in conjunction with the name Van Morrison it’s “classic.” From the sincerity behind his vocals to the vibrations of the strings as they dance off his fingers right down to the emotional pull of his scatting as it draws and fades, this is a glorious dedication to an album coined over forty years ago that still resonates in the hearts of Van fans everywhere. Just as there is a certain beauty in hearing the crackle on a vinyl record, there is a certain beauty in hearing the soft, slightly muted sound on a live recording of a jazz blues artist. Vocal, guitar, piano, violin and all. Astral Weeks Live at the Hollywood Bowl doesn’t try to win its audience by overperforming, preferring rather to sit on the back of its heels and just be. It is a smooth show that allows each track to simply “transcend” into the next, ultimately weaving an intricate and breathtaking experience that could only possibly be matched by seeing The Man himself, live. [SY]]
Efron aspires to be like Jackman By Katherine Field/aap
Young Hollywood star Zac Efron says he aspires to be like Australian actor Hugh Jackman, and would love to do a movie with him. Efron says he was blown away with Jackman's talents when he joined him on stage in a song and dance tribute to musicals at the Oscars last month. "When I heard I was going to be on stage with Hugh, I was shocked," Efron told AAP in Sydney on Thursday. "I was like I can't keep up with that guy. "Not only is he a better singer and dancer, he's 6 foot three, or four. "He's the tallest guy that I've ever seen be that coordinated." Efron, 21, has become a huge star thanks to his roles in High School Musical 1, 2 and 3, as well as Hairspray. But the young hearthrob said he looked up to Jackman, 40, as a role model. "I aspire be where he's at some day - to have that drive," Efron said. "It gives me hope a little bit." Efron added he'd love to star in a movie alongside the Australia star, saying "Man I wish, can somebody write that?" "That could be a musical too. He could pull it off." Efron is in Australia for the third time in a year and a half to promote his new movie 17 Again, in which he plays a disillusioned 30-something-yearold transformed back to a teenager. He was mobbed by hundreds of fans crying and screaming as he walked the red carpet for the premiere in Sydney this week, but said he appreciates the support. "You understand it is what it is, but it's better than the opposite reaction," Efron said. "Right now I couldn't be happier or more grateful that they take the time to show up and support this film in particular. "It's an important one for me." Efron, who is dating actor Vanessa Hudgens, also took the opportunity to dismiss rumours they are engaged. "We're not engaged," Efron said. "I'm pretty sure literally that came from The Enquirer (magazine). "It's pretty funny, we had a good laugh over it." 17 Again is released nationally on April 9.
autumn 2009 | edgemag.com.au
Fire victims on the mind of blues singer Eric Bibb By Cathy Alexander/aap American blues singer Eric Bibb thought he’d be playing to cheerful, laid-back fans when he tours country Victoria in March. Instead he’ll be playing to people who may have lost homes, family members and friends. Bibb’s leisurely national tour will take him from Darwin to Hobart, stopping at big city theatres and country halls in between. But it’s his gigs near the fire zone which have preoccupied the New York-born singer, whose blend of blues, folk and smooth spirituals has won him a devoted fan base Down Under. “I’ll be thinking about (the fires) and hoping that making some music in these areas is going to be helpful to people who’ve gone through a really hard time,” Bibb told AAP over the phone from his base in Stockholm. “I think music has a healing energy that I’d be happy to be a part of.” “I’ll be thinking of it when I put together my set list.” The importance of healing and the value of positive thinking is a constant theme in Bibb’s music. “You can’t be discouraged, you have to just stay with it and put one foot in front of the other and take the opportunities that come,” he says. Perhaps because of his childhood spent in the socially-activist New York folk scene of the 1960s, Bibb sees music as an agent of social change. It has power, he says; both social and political. It can tell the stories of people who would otherwise pass unnoticed. Bibb thinks there’s a renaissance in music as a harbinger of change. Everywhere in the world there is trauma, Bibb says - the Victorian fires, the recent deadly war in Gaza. But he also sees hope. Bibb says the election of US president
Barack Obama opens new horizons, and he thinks - or hopes - that there is a growing appreciation of the need for people to find common ground. Bibb, whose music is marked by a smooth, deep voice and diverse collaborations, has toured Australia several times before, playing his way up and down the east coast to woo audiences at folk festivals. He’s to be a star attraction at Byron Bay’s Bluesfest this time around. He’s also trying something different. He’ll play in the Northern Territory and north Queensland, and says that’s partly about connecting with Aboriginal communities - and musicians - in a way he hasn’t been able to before. “It’s going to be very interesting to feel that energy and to relate it to my own experiences as an African-American,” he says. “To me it’s a golden opportunity, I wouldn’t miss it.” For all his Australian audiences, whatever their background, Bibb is promising a feelgood gig with “good vibrations”. “We’re going somewhere together, that’s what I want to do ... somewhere really positive,” he says. And that might be just what people from country Victoria, in particular, need to hear right now. Eric Bibb is playing Darwin, Cairns, Canberra, Brisbane, Noosa, Beaudesert, Adelaide, Melbourne, Hepburn Springs, Meeniyan, Hobart, Sydney, Bulli, Newcastle, Bellingen, Kincumber, Fremantle and Bluesfest in Byron Bay. The tour runs from March 12 to April 18. For more information go to www.ericbibb.com/
Get On Board ABC Records/Universal Out Now
Isaak hopeful of finding love By Katherine Field/aap
Mr Lucky Universal Music Out Now
Adam Brand By Marija Zeko Its peak hour traffic and I’m all nerves as I have an interview lined up with CMAA 2009 male artist of the year Adam Brand. Time is against me and after calling twice with no response, Brand has given up himself. Fortunately I have his number and am able to reach him. He is relieved the interview is going ahead and even more relieved that I initiated the introduction as he struggled to pronounce my name. His name is easy to pronounce, it’s very Australian and in keeping with the accent and image. Funnily enough, the real name is not quite Australian, “I was born
As he gears up for his Australian tour, American crooner Chris Isaak says he’s hopeful of finding love soon. The singer-songwriter has many women admirers all over the world, but finding love hasn’t been so easy. Nevertheless, the single 52-year-old isn’t giving up. “I’m not in a relationship but I’m fixing up my house and I’m getting my yard fixed up,” Isaak told AAP from the US. “I figure if I fix my house the women will come. “If I get a kitchen that’s really nice, I figure then a woman will come. So I’m right in there trying.” Isaak’s new album, Mr Lucky, which was released on February 27, includes many songs about heartbreak and lost love, mixed with a few upbeat tracks, in his trademark style. “A lot of the songs are heart broken love sick songs, in my life at least a lot of it’s been like that,” Isaak said. “But Mr Lucky is kind of like a spin on that. “In real life I do think of myself in many ways as being very lucky. “I found a job that I love to do and it doesn’t hurt anybody. “My mother and father are still married and still alive and my brothers and I are all on good terms.” Isaak says many of the songs were inspired by his own life, but others have been inspired by his parents, and other people around him. Having released his first album in 1985,
Isaak credits his longevity to his great band, and credits his youthful looks to his healthy lifestyle. “I never smoked a cigarette in my life, I never smoked pot in my life, I never took a drug that a doctor didn’t give me,” Isaak says. “And I spend more time in the water surfing and a lot less time in bars and nightclubs if I’m not working. “When you’re 20 you can do anything but when you get to 35 or 40 boy it starts showing.” For now, Isaak’s focus is on Australia, where he’s about to kick off a national tour. It comes after a visit to the country late last year. With a huge local fan base, Isaak is considered a bit of an honorary Aussie, and says he couldn’t be happier. “When you first go to a country, after a while you start to make up your mind if you really like it or not,” Isaak said. “We loved Australia from the first time we went there and the more we’ve gone there the more we’ve liked it.” Isaak said he was devastated about the Victorian fires and hopes to be involved with some music benefits while in the country. “We’re over here and we’re reading the papers about the fires and it’s just horrible,” he said. “You just feel hollow - what a complete waste. People’s lives ruined.”
Adamo Bruno” as he lets out a chuckle upon the disclosure of his secret. Without warning he lets the Italian fly, adopting the accent as quickly and easily as he reverts to English. Never mind the host of naughty Italian words Brand tells me, but this is a family program and unsuitable for tender ears. Brand’s a busy boy, operating from his Sydney office when not resting his bones at his Hervey Bay home. The majority of Brand’s time is spent on the road, totally around 150 days last year. “I spent very little time at home last year...the family’s on The Gold Coast, so I suppose my time is spent between Hervey Bay, The Gold Coast, Sydney and the tour bus”. Touring is about to take him all over Australia with the release of his seventh studio album “Hell of a ride”. “I released my first album a little over 10 years ago and in a way this is like closing the chapter on the past 10 years and then opening
ones, not really knowing where I’m going...It’s a thank you to all the people supporting me and buying the album” The album process has become easier throughout the years and Brand is quite proud of this latest offering. Looking back at the past albums, Brand cringes, neither at the quality nor work, rather his image. “I look back and think bloody hell, couldn’t have someone told me what I was wearing!”. There’s no need to shriek now, judging from the album’s images, Brand looks fit in his country meets relaxed rocker look that is bound to score him a legion of admirers. With the last ten years documented, what do the next ten years hold for Brand? “I hope to be doing what I love most doing- writing songs, making albums and touring”. Judging from his zest, there’s nothing else he’d rather be doing.
edgemag.com.au | autumn 2009
Troy Cassar-Daley and the place he loves By Leonie Weldon When asked if Australian country has its own voice, the way our rock and more recently, our rap and hip hop has evolved…away from the American stereotype, Troy Cassar-Daley opens up and you can’t help but get swept up in his passion for our country music heritage and our story tellers. ‘As soon as Slim Dusty started to sing about this country we had a voice.’ ‘I’m always skyting about our musical heritage and that includes our indigenous songs, they’ve been telling stories for over 40,000 years’. It is Troy’s love and ownership of his musical heritage which is what he brings into his work and what he hopes people are touched by on his new album, I Love This Place, due for released in April 2009. He is one of Australia’s most awarded singer songwriters and proudly continues the tradition of Australia’s great story tellers from Banjo to Slim. “Big Big Love” the first single to be released from Troy’s new album, was inspired by an sms sent from his mate Keith Urban announcing the birth of Sunday Rose, signing off the text with ‘Big love’. The video is shot at the Bondi Icebergs… as far as locations go, Bondi would have to be the most ‘city’ beach in Australia. So what’s the connection? “I have history with this town, I used to swim at icebergs with my dad, when I was in Sydney’. At nine Troy decided he wanted to live with his dad, in Surry Hills. It’s obvious talking to Troy that although his parents were not together they both shared a strong love for their son. So at nine Troy left his Aboriginal mother and beloved nan in Grafton and headed for the big smoke for a year. ‘I will never forget those times in that little terrace house in Waterloo Street Surry Hills, going to the little local St Peters School and all the friends, the next door neighbours, the Chinese kid on the other side, we’d all ride our bikes around and climb all over the Reader’s Digest building . I was pretty confident, and never found it hard to make friends so I was lucky”. But it was the time spent in inner city Sydney
with his Maltese dad that galvanized music as something positive, a source of comfort and an expression of love in his life. ‘If I was upset, my dad would sit on the end of my bed and play the guitar and make up songs, mum was always playing country music, I was surrounded by it growing up, but I first heard it live from my dad, my singing, and acoustic guitar I will always attribute to him. He would sing me to sleep, play the harmonica, and everytime I get my harmonica out on stage I think of dad and those times.” The time I spent in Sydney made me a bit more worldly wise and I’d done something not many other kids from Grafton had done’ What does Troy dream for the future, does he think about Keith Urban’s success and want to dive into Nashville and have a go? ‘I’d have to be a liar if I said I never thought about it, but you have to look at why you want to go. Money has never been a motivation for me, family is my motivation, having my kids grow up healthy, happy and well adjusted is my goal, my career will always take second place to my family, so right now I’m in the right place‘ Our landscape is obviously a big influence, visiting Europe we’re amazed at the age of things, of the history, but for Australian’s it’s the landscape they carry…and if you don’t get tingles or feel inspired when you see a fly-over shot above the Kimberly’s, or Uluru you don’t have a ticker I reckon’, ‘the reason I try to take people on a trip with this record is because Australia deserves to be seen more, forget overseas, here a dollar is a dollar, so spend it here, my God our back yard is amazing. Australia is full of wonderful characters and I’m lucky to meet a lot of amazing people, and I love writing about them. There’s this one guy I met at the rodeo that I wrote a song about on the record called Fred he runs a travelling boxing troupe, just like you see in the old movies. I meet him through Brian Young, an old bush ballad mate of mine…when we were in Mount Isa, listening to this guys stories over bacon and eggs and warm VB’s at 8:30 in the morning was something else.. Rough as guts blokes and all part of our
cultural heritage. These are the people, these are the stories, that are my inspiration. ‘The country music scene always appears from the outside to have a strong sense of community, and belonging, is it that tight knit’.. “I used to think it was very insular but the edges have softened across the genres, doing songs and connecting with different artists has meant I now have an extended family, if I need advise I sometimes get the phone to call Jimmy Barnes…. just love and respect jimmy and his work… everyone sometimes needs an outsiders point of view…I’ve been fortunate over the last few years to write with people like Paul Kelly and Don Walker people that I’ve loved since I was a kid and now we’ve become good mates. if I needed help on a song I call my mates … I first connected with Paul when I picked up this record he’d done called Smoke, not easy to do just pick up a different genre of music and come out with a bluegrass record like that I loved every minute of it …and wrote to his management to tell him how inspired I was by his album and then we got together.’ It’s the storytelling that is the connecting thread across the different genres and why all these guys to connect well. ‘Story telling has always been a big part of our culture, Slim continued what Banjo Patterson and Henry Lawson started, these were our story tellers writing about stuff that was happening in the present, recording that part of our history “ “Mum once bought me the two volume set of Banjo Patterson’s poems, called ‘Song of the Pen’…and it blew me away’. There’s this one poem called “In the Droving Days’, it’s as long as a mother-in-laws visit, but I had to write a song about it…and condense this poem down into a song’… There is a line in the poem, describing this old worn out horse ‘… with a rough bush saddle, and single rein Of the bridle laid on his tangled mane..’ . . . it just hit me, there is something I can see in that horse, that I can relate to if you’ve been thru a hard time that’s how you’d be looked at… the words have rhythm, and their own music and
I’m sure at the time these fellas didn’t realize the power of what they were doing, they were just writing from the heart, getting their stories out. I don’t think Banjo would have thought Waltzing Matilda would have ever ended up being such an iconic Australian song.’ ‘We have to take pride in our stories, we all have stories within our lives that are interesting and relevant and its important to create times for storytelling, they don’t just happen you have to get together and scratch them out…..Mum and I sat around talking the other day about the past and she reminded me about when we used to go out picking beans with my Auntie Val. I remembered walking up the paddock being careful of the bulls, with this hessian bag that had a strap made from an old seatbelt, it was so hot I’d have my shirt off and the hessian would scratch my back…,talking to mum I was amazed at the detail, the memories came rushing back and I had another song. The stories are there but you have to take time with each other, ask questions …the best part of some of the songs on this record was having the time to scratch out the stories. ‘My father in-law said to me the other day when we at the farm, ‘have you written this title track about this place, the farm? I said, “ no mate…’I Love This Place is about where I am right now in my life.
Troy Cassar-Daley I Love This Place Release 17 April 2009
autumn 2009 | edgemag.com.au
The Sunpilots flying high. Sydney rock band The Sunplots are set to soar after embarking on a nation-wide tour and the release of their debut album. Mitchell Jordan spoke to lead singer Raj SivaRajah about the view from above.
It’s a long way to the top if you want to rock and roll, but for The Sunpilots, the journey has been faster than most. To Raj Siva-Rajah, it seems like only yesterday that The Sun Pilots released an EP and soon began hearing their songs played on the likes of Triple J and Nova. Following the success of the single, ‘Spotlight in the Sun’ in 2007, life has been a blur of recording and touring for the band. But it was last year’s album, Living Receiver that prompted a current national tour, ‘March of the Drones’. “The crowds have been building more and more with each show,” Raj says. “We’ve been playing to full rooms.” With band mates James Dennett (drums), Bob Spencer (guitar) and Glenn Phipps (bass), Raj has spent most of this year on the road. Lucky for him, the four are all good mates and don’t tire
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of one another’s company. “Being in a band, you have to get along,” he says, “otherwise you’ll have problems.” Growing up in Brisbane, the Sri Lankan Raj was trained in Carnatic music by his mother, a singer, whilst listening to the likes of Pearl Jam and Nirvana and performing in rock bands. Rock may have won out, but his eastern influence still exerts a presence on The Sun Pilot’s work. “It’s something I have embraced as I get older, and my mum even did some singing on the album,” Raj says. The internet has played a vital role in the band’s success, earning them a name in countries like the US, where college DJs heard their music on MySpace and started playing The Sun Pilots on school radio stations. “DJs began playing our music and soon it spread and we were on the college charts,” Raj recounts. “In September we are heading to the US
for a college tour so I really can’t praise the internet enough.” When it came to producing Living Receiver, The Sun Pilots took an independent approach once again and released the album themselves. “We were keen to stay independent because there are a lot of free tools available to artists,” Raj says of the yearlong recording process. “I think we’ve managed a release that sounds just as good as any other majorreleased album.” Raj admits that the band’s latest single, ‘Drones’, is a little different to what we’ve heard from The Sun Pilots previously. “A lot of our stuff is quite brooding and dark, but ‘Drones’ is much more upbeat and even a bit funky,” he says. Inspiration for the song came from Raj’s own decision not to follow the pack mentality. “It’s a wake-up call for people to do their own thing,” he says.
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