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rock music news welcome to the frontline: what’s goin’ on, down and around town with Nathan Jolly
five things WITH
PIERS AND LUKE FROM THE LAURELS
fingers in their ears, yelling at them to turn their instruments down. The band didn’t appreciate this, and kept playing at the same volume whilst Reg (singer) began making rude gestures at the crowd. This story was always one of my favourites, and one that resonated well with Luke and I as we embarked on our life quest to make ourselves and other people deaf. Inspirations [Piers]: Luke and I spent the majority of 2. our teenage years sitting in our rooms on our beds, listening to Revolver by The Beatles. I still hope that one day we can listen to it in the same bed. The Velvet Underground, Spacemen 3, The Telescopes, Pavement, My Bloody Valentine, The Clean, Underground Lovers, The Byrds, Can and The Jesus And Mary Chain are some of our favourite bands. Kate draws inspiration from any drummer whose name ends with the letter “Z,” and Conor channels all his bass vibrations through the Led Zeppelin tattoo on his bottom.
Growing Up [Piers]: My Dad once snuck into a club to see The Troggs. He said they played so loud the majority of the audience stood there with their
Your Band [Luke]: There are four of us in the band. I play guitar and sing, so does Piers. Conor plays bass and is our fashion guru. Kate plays drums and does impressions of her boss at work in a funny accent. We all bonded over our love for
late 60s psych, underground 80s punk, and late 80s to early 90s shoegaze/dream pop. Piers and I also quite like Nirvana, but it seems to piss the rest of the band off when we mention it or put In Utero on the car stereo while on tour. We share the same ideals about music, and we find a lot of punk ideologies from bands like MC5 or Public Enemy really inspiring too. Piers and I work in call centres to support our compulsive gearbuying habit. Kate is a biologist/scientist/genius and Conor is doing his PHD at Uni, so at least they have something to fall back on. Plus we’ll be able to credit Conor as ‘Dr Hannan’ on our album sleeves when he finishes his thesis. The Music You Make [Luke]: Our style of music is a combination 4. of all of the aforementioned influences. We started out as a much happier and carefree sunshine-pop sort of band, but after the experience of living in Syndey for the last few years, it’s changed somewhat. Getting too close and personal with some of the residents has turned our sound into a loud and abrasive assault of disjointed noise. You could draw comparisons to Sonic Youth, Swervedriver and the Scientists, but we still try to retain the melodic aspects of our 60s influences like The Beatles and The Byrds. We really like harmonies!
Music, Right Here, Right Now [Luke]: We’ve certainly been exposed 5. to a lot of different bands and genres since we’ve been playing in Sydney, and some have had a pretty big impact on us. Ghosts Of Television are the most obvious example, and I really hope they re-form one day. Other bands we’ve loved recently have been Tame Impala, Pond, Belles Will Ring, Dead China Doll, The Red Sun Band, Zeahorse, Witch Hats (Melb), Love Of Diagrams (Melb), Silver Moon and Decoder Ring. They’re totally passionate about what they do and they mean what they say. We’re really excited to be playing with some of our favourite bands on Friday at Mum, World Bar (PLUG.) - we’re happy that there are still a few venues left where we can play this sort of night.
Who: The Laurels With: Myth & Tropics, Zeahorse, Domeyko/ Gonzalez, Dead China Doll and heaps more What: 15 Bands, 108 Hands Where: Mum @ World Bar When: Friday July 16
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Remember when The Beatles made those stoned out clips for ‘Rain’ and ‘Paperback Writer’ and Ed Sullivan introduced them as if The Beatles had filmed them especially for him? Well, Philip from Radiohead has sent a letter to BRAG. It reads: “Hello [space], I just wanted to let you know what I’ve been up to recently in my idle moments in Radiohead. [considerate, that’s so Phil..] Over the past year or so, I’ve written and recorded an album which I’ve called Familial.” Then he bangs on about how it’s out in UK August 30, US the next day, and doesn’t mention Australia, which is odd considering how personal the rest of the letter is. He’s offering up a free track to “download” (Radiohead love the Internet, remember?), which you can get from philipselway.com.
BLACK CHERRY BOMB
Sydney’s best night of bands and burlesque, Black Cherry returns to the Factory Theatre on July 24. The Snowdroppers will headline the evening and provide that extra level of speakeasy sleaze, with the frighteningly-aptly named The Rumjacks, The Go-Go Haunters and The Licks playing support acts. $15 presale, or $18 at the door for when you ‘umm’ and ‘ahh’ before realising you were always going to go, because the last one was so good. Your indecision is fooling nobody. It’s presented by Green Fairy Original Czech Absinth and THE BRAG. ‘Coz that’s just how we roll…
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Unfortunately The Tings Tings have pulled out on Splendour for the usual chavvy reasons. As have The Middle East. However, every cloud has a silver idiom, which is why Sally Seltmann and Art vs Science have nobly stepped up to replace the ousted artists, and also to be held directly responsible for those bands’ disappearence…
TREES SAVE LIVES
WHAT DO UKULELE PLAYERS EAT?
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SPLENDOUR LINE-UP CHANGES
When news of ‘Music For Trees’ dropped into my inbox I ran to my closet and pulled out my bongo-piercing wand, ready for battle. (It also works on djembes). I needn’t have acted so swiftly, because this actually sounds pretty great. Ray Mann is a soul singer for one, and he is performing. The Stiff Gins are awesome and harmony drenched, The Slowdowns are alt-country, The Anon Anons are discoey and The Delroys are straight-up reggae (see Inner Circle, Big Mountain). It’s on Saturday July 17 at Carriageworks’ Winterfest (iceskating!) and is free but they’ll ask for a donation, for the good of the cutest rainforest creatures you can possibly imagine.
REGULAR CONTRIBUTORS: Joshua Blackman, Mikey Carr, Bridie Connell, Oliver Downes, Tony Edwards, Christie Eliezer, Murray Engleheart, Chris Familton, Lucy Fokkema, Mike Gee, Alice Hart, Kate Hennessy, Chris Honnery, Nathan Jolly, Amelia Schmidt, Xanthe Seacret, Jonno Seidler, RK, Luke Telford, Caitlin Welsh, Beth Wilson, Alex Young
DEADLINES: Editorial Wednesday 12pm (no extentions) Art Work, Ad Bookings Thursday 12pm (no extensions) Ad Cancellations Tuesday 4pm Published by Cartrage P/L ACN 104026388 All content copyrighted to Cartrage 2003
The Middle East
Teenage Stomp is the latest dance craze, right? Well to celebrate, Stomp Entertainment have signed TeenagersInTokyo and will release their debut album. Wait what? Debut album? Seriously? Huh, well, it’s about time and good news for pretty much everyone. Sacrifice will be out August 20 at all good retailers...
OK, this is a bit sweet. Rose Turtle Ertler is currently touring Australia playing songs using a bunch of weird antiquated instruments like a five string banjo, a ukulele and a ‘30s Victalele Autoharp - and she’s also launching a cookbook! Feeling the need to showcase both, Rose is preparing soup, chocolate muffins and mulled wine for the occasion, which takes place Sunday July 18 at Nitro Septimus, Erskineville. Oh, and opening act is Charles Altmann, an 85 year old ukulele player. Don’t bring a hip-flask, this isn’t of those.
FBI’S FINAL FLING
If there’s one thing FBi Radio love, it’s a list. So in honour of Sydney Sounds Like, Fbi’s fortnight of fundraising, we present them with this list: Philadelphia Grand Jury, The
Presets (DJ set), Jonathan Boulet, Parades, Deep Sea Arcade, Seekae, Kyu, Guineafowl, Matt Van Schie, Cabins, Jinja Safari, Pluto Jonze, Bon Chat Bon Rat, PHDJ & Purple Sneakers DJs, Lost Valentinos DJs. The challenge, FBi radio, is to turn all of that into a huge party on Saturday July 17 at the Metro Theatre, and to charge $20 for Supporters, and $25 for Enemies... We dare you.
The Follow decided to do things properly, so they changed their name to The Art, moved to LA, sold out a bunch of shows and got the ex-Guns N Roses manager to manage them. Now back in the country to promote their impending debut album, they are not only supporting Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and 30 Seconds To Mars, but are also playing their own shows. Their Sydney show on July 17 is at Space, SFX and costs $12.
Ok, so here is the deal. Kingtide are playing The Annandale on August 6, despite reggae being the least wintery genre of music. To make up for this seasonal skirmish, entry is only ten dollars and if you book presale you will receive a free wine or beer upon entry. (We imagine you actually have to go to the bar to receive it, but the bar’s right there as soon as you walk in, so everyone’s a winner!) Considering Kingtide gigs are usually more than double this price and without complimentary beverages, this will sell out pretty quick. Tickets available now. Shouldn’t have waited until Thursday to pick us up, should you?
GIG OF THE WEEK
The Bonney Read Girls are so FUCKING excited to be launching debut EP at GiRLTHING this Saturday, and will be performing live early in the night. On top of this big news, we are doing it all Vegas style! Showgirls, roulette and hopefully some strip poker... We don't mean to alarm you, but this month's GT is going to be really. really. good. We've got live bands, some stella new DJ's and well, lots and lots of homo's. We even have an Elvis priest there on the night, so we're gonna legalize marriage for one night only in LEZ VEGAS! Doors @ 8pm Get in early to catch the live bands, then dance your arse off the rest of the night!
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rock music news
welcome to the frontline: what’s goin’ on, down and around town with Nathan Jolly
he said she said WITH
CAMPBELL FROM BLACK BONED ANGEL (NZ)
’m primarily inspired by things that aren't musical at all. I’ve recently moved to the country, and it’s really changed my aspirations in life. I really like the artwork of Martin Creed. He makes art that makes him happy, and pretty much makes everybody else look like pretentious retards. I also like Cy Twombly’s ‘blackboard paintings’ - they have a chaotic sense of rhythm about them that has far more in common with what I’m trying to achieve musically than anything from the underground metal world. I’ve known James (Kirk) for ages, since some of the earliest gigs of his own band, Sandoz Lab Technicians. He’s my best friend and has introduced me to so much great music from so many different perspectives than those I’m usually exposed to. Although a lot of Black Boned Angels’ kudos gets pointed at me because I write most of the songs, it’s actually James who makes this band actually work in the practical sense. We have pretty great day jobs really - I’m a high school art teacher, and James is a specialist crate-maker for the National Museum. I guess if you were to read something into what we do with our day and how it relates to the music we play you could say that I make Black Boned Angels music incredibly simple so that even a moron could understand it, and James makes it totally indestructible with additional packing. I’ve no personal interest in style. Those kinds of divisions and distinctions really don’t make any sense if you think about it, unless you want to be a barbie doll/rock star. I mean, is it still ‘metal’ if you consider yourself to have more in common with Erik Satie than with
Slayer? I think of us more like a supersleepy, ‘kinda buddhist’ no-wave band. There are a whole bunch of ‘loud and slow’ bands around these days, so I don’t think we can rightly claim to be the greatest band on Earth. But we are pretty committed to just doing what we do, and going wherever it goes. We record at home with no outside help whatsoever. We don’t place limits on what we can and should sound like; we don’t aspire to make records that sound like X or Y. Hopefully our records don’t sound ‘good’ compared to other metallic sounding bands - I just hope they sound ‘real’. The repetition and density makes us feel warm, and we hope that our listeners can absorb some of that glow too. An endless warm buzz. I know absolutely nothing about the music scene, ‘cause I live in the middle of nowhere. Personally, I find the idea of ‘only being able to relate to other people because they have an identical hobby’ to be borderlinesociopathic. I think the greatest hurdle to ‘musos’ is pride; if there’s anything I would want to contribute to the world of music it would be a sense of empathy. I would like to shut my mouth and play music that touches something painful in people, not in a vicious kinda way, but in a caring kinda way. It excites me greatly when people say they “nearly cried” at our shows. It’s about time people cried. It’s about time people behaved like human beings.
Set in Los Angeles, 1975, The Runaways follows the true story of Joan Jett (Twilight’s Kristen Stewart) and Cherie Currie (Dakota Fanning, all grown up), two teenage valley-girls with punk in their blood, who became the heart and soul of seminal all girl band, The Runaways. Under the Svengali-like influence of rock impresario Kim Fowley (Oscar-nominee Michael Shannon), the group evolved into an outrageous success and a family of misfits. Thanks to Hoyts, we have ten in-season double passes to The Runaways up for grabs. To get your hands on one, tell us the name of the director.
Who: Black Boned Angel With: Jon Hunter When: Saturday July 17 Where: SuperDeluxe @ Artspace
voyage. It’s called Songs From The Pink Lady and I can only guess the tracklisting, but what I really want is for it to be full of Liz Phair, Mazzy Star, Sonic Youth and other music a lonely 16-year-old girl should be listening to. Kids these days… Little Red
JINJA SAFARI WINS UNEARTHED
With the only band name rhyming with ‘Ninja Wasabi’ (massive win.), Jinja Safari were last week scooped up by triple j. With only one song and six weeks of live shows behind them, they’re being jetted north to open Splendour In The Grass. If it wasn’t for their lovable jungle-folk tune ‘Peter Pan’ I’d be sitting here writing this on my desk like usual, instead of from my forest tree-house in my paper hat, sipping thistle tea with a quarrelsome squirrel. If you missed out on a SITG ticket, they’re playing this Saturday night at The Metro for the FBi Final Fling. Jinja Safari
WOLFMOTHER TO HEADLINE FAT AS BUTTER
Newcastle festival Fat As Butter aren’t officially releasing their lineup until next Monday July 19, however we have it on good authority (press release) that Wolfmother are the first headline act. The all-ages festival will be moved to October 23 this year, and once again brought to its original home of Camp Shortland, near Nobbys Beach - possibly as part of Wolfmother’s contractual stipulation, which states that there “must be adequate sea-breeze blowing through Stockdale’s hair at all times throughout the performance.”
GLIDE RELEASE AND RE-FORM
Shoegazers Glide pretty much ruled Sydney in the ‘90s, if washy, reverbed, jangly pop genius was your thing. For those who were too young or flanneletted to experience the band at the time, they’re releasing their entire catalogue on iTunes on July 30 (we recommend Pretty Mouth EP, in particular the track ‘Thin Faced Man’) - which will hopefully see the group rightly considered as one of our greatest ever. They’re re-forming to play the Annandale August 14, with Youth Group’s Toby Martin stepping in to fill the enormous shoes of the late William Arthur.
LOVE IS A BANGLEFIELD.
You will forgive me for that heading when I tell you that it relates to Pat Benatar and The Bangles touring Australia in October. Here
are five reasons why this is awesome. 1) ‘Eternal Flame’ has the best middle eight of all time. 2) The drums in ‘Hit Me With Your Best Shot’ will sound massive live. 3) The Bangles cover ‘September Gurls,’ and it is brilliant. 4) Susanna Hoffs is still gorgeous, arguably moreso than ever. 5) ‘Love Is A Battlefield’ has a 95% chance of being the closing song of the night. Tickets go on sale July 19 (MONDAY!), and the show is October 22 at the Entertainment Centre.
JESSICA WATSON RELEASES AN ALBUM?
I swear this is a real thing: Australia’s “darling of the seas” Jessica Watson is releasing a compilation of the favourite songs that accompanied her during her epic, stormy, inspirational, incredible, tear-jerking, heartwarming, heart-wrenching, shiny, briny sea
LITTLE RED SHOW OFF Their single “Rock It” has taken over your radios, and now having conquered Australia, Melbourne doowoppers Little Red are heading to ol’ blighty to try their luck. But they aren’t just turning up with a six string, a begging cup and heads full of dreams; they’re actually performing at next week’s Musexpo conference in London (apparently they aren’t required to cover any Matt Bellamypenned tunes). Before they jet off (or ship off - their mode of transport was unconfirmed at time of print), they’re playing a show at Oxford Art Factory on July 17 with Big Scary.
“I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die” - JOHNNY CASH 8 :: BRAG :: 370 : 12:07:10
triple j & The Atlas Agency presents
FRIDAY 11TH JUNE NEWCASTLE PANTHERS NEWCASTLE WWW.NEWCASTLE.PANTHERS.COM.AU CNR KING AND UNION STREETS, NEWCASTLE WEST. TICKETS FROM WWW.OZTIX.COM.AU & WWW.MOSHTIX.COM DOORS OPEN 8PM. WITH WASHINGTON.
SATURDAY 12TH JUNE WAVES TOWRADGI WWW.TOWRADGIBEACHHOTEL.COM.AU 170 PIONEER ROAD, TOWRADGI. TICKETS WWW.MOSHTIX.COM.AU & WWW.OZTIX.COM.AU DOORS OPEN 8PM. WITH WASHINGTON.
SUNDAY 13TH JUNE ENTRANCE LEAGUES CLUB GOSFORD WWW.TELCLUB.COM.AU 3 BAY VILLAGE RD, BATEAU BAY. TICKETS FROM WWW.OZTIX.COM.AU & WWW.MOSHTIX.COM DOORS OPEN 8PM. WITH WASHINGTON.
WEDNESDAY 16TH JUNE BAROQUE NIGHT CLUB KATOOMBA WWW.THECARRINGTON.COM.AU 15-47 KATOOMBA ST, KATOOMBA. TICKETS FROM (02) 4782 1111 & WWW.OZTIX.COM DOORS OPEN 8PM. WITH WASHINGTON.
SATURDAY 17TH JULY ENMORE THEATRE SYDNEY NSW WWW.ENMORETHEATRE.COM ENMORE RD, ENMORE. TICKETS AVAILABLE FROM WWW.TICKETEK.COM.AU & WWW.ENMORETHEATRE.COM DOORS OPEN 7PM. WITH WASHINGTON & CHASM AND VIDA SUNSHYNE.
www.myspace.com/thebeautifulgirls www.facebook.com/thebeautifulgirls BRAG :: 370 :: 12:07:10 :: 9
dance music news
welcome to the frontline: what’s goin’ on around town... With Chris Honnery onthefly.com.au
he said she said WITH
y earliest memory of playing an instrument was in England, donking away on a xylophone. I would’ve been about four or five. My dad said from the kitchen, “What’s that? That sounds good.” Could that have been a formative moment? I’m still donking away at the keyboard, in an equally clumsy way. I remember a famous Russian clarinettist staying with us for a few months – Valentine Sakharov – but I remember him more for the really great Russian food he cooked. He used to tell jokes, and there would always be silence after the punchline. Then he would say dolefully, ‘In Russian, is veeeerrrry funny’. Gary Numan got me fascinated with the power of electronics. His sound was so bizarre – I couldn’t believe that he was a successful pop star with that sound. He was truly breathing the air of other planets. I thought he was nuts, terrifying, outrageous. He had his own sound, his own world, and even used his own musical scale. It sounds a little Indian to me. When you play riffs in that scale, everyone calls it ‘Numanesque’. He was always panned by the hippy journalists in the UK. If you can get a hippy to hate your music, you’re on the right track. Paul Mac and I aren’t natural DJs, but we have our own sound and approach. It’s not really about beat mixing with any real finesse, but more about exploring our vast catalogue of released and unreleased tracks. We kind of hope to bring people into our world and take them on a trip that sounds unique. I think that’s what people want from us, more than dexterity. Neither of us ever really became natural DJs. We’re more from the rock and roll school of playing gigs. We fell into all this by accident.
ANDY FROM ITCH-E & SCRATCH-E We have roots in Sydney - weird shit and industrial stuff like Severed Heads, SPK and the M-Squared label from the early 80s. That’s where our fondness for cheap sounds, blatant head fuck ideas and our love of the MS-20 synthesizer comes from. On top of that we have all kinds of other things going on – Paul’s love of good pop music, prog rock, his knowledge of classical music and showtunes, his aptitude for arranging. I bring to the studio my love of trippy music and funky music in general. We have a mongrel dog sound. Both of us are partial to a bit of cheese. Both of us like a funky bass. Both of us like to write for girls. With our set, we could go one of two ways. We could either play music entirely from our back catalogue, plus a lot of material from the upcoming album Hooray For Everything!!!, or we could play a lot of the interesting clubby stuff we’re hearing around the place now. For modern material, our tastes veer towards what would now be called Fidget. Basically, funky stuff with dive bombing, out of control synth riffs. Sick sounds. Stuff like ‘Show ‘Em’ by Cutlass Supreme. I’d like to meet the people who made that one, I bet they’re a lot of fun.
Brothers Ben and Josh Strong have teamed up with TTT member Marty Umanski to form Gosteleradio, a Melbourne outfit that have collected a flourish of accolades for their debut album Great Deeds Against The Dead. It is an ethereal, shimmering, finely-crafted pop record that floats through the ears of the listener on a boat made out of guitars, harmonies, and gorgeous synthesisers. Having received much praise in Melbournia for their single ‘The Reprisal’, the boys are set to win over us snobby Sydneysiders on July 23 at Oxford Art Factory. To be a part of it, just tell us the name of a song up on Gosteleradio’s MySpace. We have two double passes to give away!
What: Hooray For Everything!!! is out July 23 Where: Chinese Laundry
When: Friday July 16
Californian sextet Chk Chk Chk (pronounced “!!!”), will release their fourth album, Strange Weather Isn’t It?, August 20 on Warp through Inertia. !!! traveled to Berlin to produce the album, and their German surrounds apparently had a significant impact on the final release. “We always go to a different environment on the 1% chance that it might influence the record, because even that much would be worth it,” drawled vocalist Nic Offer when we met for lunch at Hugo’s Manly last week. The album comes after some drastic changes to !!!’s line-up, with John Pugh and Justin Vandervolgen departing prior to writing the album, and Tyler Pope during its recording. The group also had to deal with the tragic death of former drummer Jerry Fuchs, who fell down an elevator shaft in November ’09. Co-produced by Eric Broucek – former house engineer for DFA Records – Strange Weather Isn’t It? is filled with deep, galvanizing grooves in the tradition of the band’s anthemic ‘Heart of Hearts’, but below this lustrous veneer there’s a dark undercurrent running through the record waiting to be discovered. Commence the sonic excavation, people…
Has anyone seen the movie Tron? The 1982 Disney sci-fi ‘classic’ is being remade, and is set to hit cinemas later in the year. The relevance to you, music fan, is that a certain French duo are scoring the soundtrack… Considering the Parisian pair’s well-documented love of all things technologic and robots, Tron seems like the ideal project for Daft Punk to soundtrack – let’s just hope the remake isn’t a total train wreck a la Benicio Del Tolro’s The Wolfman. At this stage, the soundtrack will be released on November 23, making it Daft Punk’s first original release since their Human After All album in 2005. More details to come as they emerge…
Music has fanned out into a million tiny strands in the last few years. I’m a music tourist. Music is a sort of shared affirmation for various inner city tribes. In every scene I’ve checked out, there’s always a few people that click with me and become firm friends. We’re spoiled at the moment, there’s never been so much good stuff so readily available - but you have to do a fair bit of sifting.
Taking the ‘c’ out of ‘tricky’ is DJ Triky – we don’t know what he’s done with the ‘c’ or where he’s going to put it, but perhaps he’s slotted it onto the end of the name of his new album, Electric. The Sydney dance DJ has been very busy, churning out not just Electric, but another release, Filtered. This double-album drop further explores Triky’s high-energy sound, dabbling with innovative bass lines, inventive effects and imaginative BPM use. His diligent work ethic has not gone unnoticed, with Triky landing a spot on the upcoming M.E.A.N.Y Fest 2010 in New York. To win one of two Triky packs, containing both new albums, tell us the name of one of his earlier albums.
Who: Itch-E & Scratch-E
DAFT PUNK SCORE TRON
MOST INCREDIBLE PSB
Continuing on the theme of ‘scoring’, seminal UK duo The Pet Shop Boys are composing the music for Sadler’s Wells dance production of The Most Incredible Thing, which is based on a Hans Christian Andersen story. The duo, who performed at Glastonbury last month, are no strangers to inter-disciplinary collaboration, having worked with the likes of Derek Jarman, Zaha Hadid and Sam Taylor-Wood in the past – they produced the latter’s cover of The Passions’ ‘I’m In Love With A German Filmstar’ for Cologne label Kompakt. In an official statement, the Boys stated: “This is a very exciting project to be part of. In the past we have written music for the club dancefloor, so to write music for the ballet stage seems like a logical development. Also we have always been fascinated by giving our music a theatrical context.”
SARAH HURWITZ, MARKETING COORDINATOR, MYSPACE What’s your role involve? My role is either busy or exciting or both, pretty much all of the time. If I’m not organizing a Secret Show or a Black Curtain film screening, then I’m meeting with major or indie labels to discuss how MySpace can help their bands online, or working with music promoters on tour presents deals. I also keep the rest of the marketing team entertained by gasping loudly every time I close my browser or get an exciting email. How’d you score your job? I’ve always been a bit of a gig fiend, and before I got this job I was constantly running into the guys from the MySpace Marketing team at shows. When a casual role came up they offered it to me, and I’ve been here since. Main challenges you face in a day? Working in an online environment is fast-paced and ever-changing. You ALWAYS have to be on the ball - no time for being hungover at work!
STEREOLAB HIATUS OVER
Having announced in early ’09 that they’d be embarking on an indefinite hiatus, there is life in Stereolab yet! One of the most inventive and influential bands to have emerged from the England’s early 1990s underground scene will release a new album, Not Music, in November. Not Music will be preceded on September 21 by an eagerly awaited solo album from Laetitia Sadier, who co-founded Stereolab and shared songwriting duties with Tim Gane as well as acting as the group’s de facto lead singer. This record, as yet untitled, will also be out via Drag City. Hiatus my ass!
BOUNDARY BONDS WITH...
Pet Shop Boys
Best band you’ve ever discovered through MySpace? Oh that’s so hard! So many to choose from. But I have to say Cloud Control. We had a support-slot opportunity for our Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros Secret Show. We used MySpace to source the support, which ended up being Cloud Control. Now they’re one of my favourite bands.
“Judgement day, gonna set this world on fire. Pile the wretched men on the burning funeral pyre” - THE BEAUTIFUL GIRLS 10 :: BRAG :: 370 : 12:07:10
2 WEEKS TO GO!
bigboi from outkast
grammy award winner
tix wed 28 july m o r f
acer arena $49
only @ www.winterbeatz.com.au BRAG :: 370 :: 12:07:10 :: 11
dance music news welcome to the frontline: what’s goin’ on around town... With Chris Honnery onthefly.com.au
five things WITH Growing Up Our memories of childhood are pretty 1. much non-existent. We believe somewhere along the way a deal was done between our keepers and some horned hairless being. We believe we were to gain un-naturally high levels of skills, in exchange for the erasing of our memories and connections with our past. The problem with this situation is that now we’ve lost our memories, we have no idea what skills we’ve gained in return. Occasionally we get flashes of what we think are visions from our past; snarling wolves, infinite moonlit midnights and the tearing open of some kind of gateway between the beginning and the end of dance music. Inspirations The great Lord Vargulf who is always 2. among us, hero of the open vein that never dries and will always remain invisible.
Your Band The Loins are merely the public face of a whole team of stylelords, trendists, swoop crows, synth-cats and crate wolves who work together to create the endless breakdowns and high-powered instrumental solos that are demanded of us morning after morning.
The Music You Make We prefer to craft music, rather than merely make it. For piano chord stabs, we will actually stab a piano. For a big guitar
k-os has reaped the commercial rewards that come from dropping the name of the greatest woman in the world in one of your songs (Natalie Portman) whilst simultaneously sampling the theme song to one of the greatest shows of all time (The OC). Don’t lie to yourself, everyone loved The OC; everyone loves Natalie Portman. In alignment with his Splendour slot and on the back of his fourth studio album Yes!, the Trinidad-born, Torontoraised, and all-round cool dude is playing two Australian shows – one of which is at Oxford Art Factory on August 4. We have just one double pass to give away – to see this enigmatic calypso hip hoppin’ around the stage at his only Sydney show, tell us the name of k-os’s third album.
solo we will actually find a big guitar and a player with abnormally large hands to play with it. For a soaring lead, we take the synth up in an ultralight and glide it on the thermals. Some people say they can’t hear the difference, that they think it’s just a con. The true believers know the difference; they appreciate the difference between eating shit and eating from the hands of God. Our latest track, ‘Garden of Vargulf’, pays homage to the Great One. It tells the story of the lone wolf that slaughters for pleasure... “Past the scrub lies Vargulf’s garden, his hidden moonlit paradiso. The sweat and the evening dew rising from the grass. The comforting hand of a stranger. The glimmer in his anonymous eyes”.
Melbourne duo Black Cab have wowed psych rock, krautrock and underground rock aficionados the world over, with their Neu!-inspired haunting conceptual rock. We’re going to run out of [adjective]-rock descriptions soon, so let’s just say that this band rarely tours, but have emerged from their creative shells to embark on their first ever East Coast trip, in honour of their new single, ‘International Son’/’Sexy Polizei’. They hit Sydney on July 16 at Oxford Art Factory, with special guests Black Ryder and The Preachers. We have one double pass to give away with your name on it; to make sure it is your name on it and not another less-deserving person, tell us the name of their latest album, which was shortlisted for the 2009 Australian Music Prize.
Music, Right Here, Right Now We think that there’s a hidden scene over 5. here. One where disco came from trance, and not the other way around. One where people dance not because they are trying to connect with their erotic animal selves, but because if they don’t they fear they will not see another sunrise. In the place of Sydney Tower is a mysterious giant pyramid and inside is the tomb of the tight blue jeans that is said to contain the “sacred anaconda”. The sky is backlit by ever-burning torches and the ground is spring-loaded, which not only adds to the dance-floor frenzy but can give a really amazing reverb effect if you know how to get your audio leads down to Hell and back.
Who: Loin Brothers (Future Classic) What: Disco On Ice Where: Winterland Festival @ Carriageworks When: Friday July 23
TIGA REMIX EP
SCIENTIST REMIX COMPILATION
NEW TRICKY ALBUM
Bristol lad Adrian Thaws, aka Tricky, will drop his ninth studio album, Mixed Race, on September 24 through Domino. As always, the trickster has recruited a smorgasbord of renowned collaborators, including Primal Scream’s Bobby Gillespie, Terry Lynn, Hakim Hamadouche, Blackman and Tricky’s brother, Marlon Thaws. Speaking about the release, a seemingly confrontational Tricky snarled “I’m not just a kid from Knowle West trying to build a future, I have some experience, I can experiment, I can be honest and honestly, musically, I can’t be touched. I used to hide in the shadows when I played live, now I perform. I used to hate doing interviews, now I feel honoured that people would be interested in what I have to say. I’ve spent my life going between cultures; Mixed Race is about that, and in a very direct way.”
In news that out-sedates Soul Sedation, a new project on Tectonic will see original tracks by the likes of Pinch, Kode9 & Spaceape and Shackleton remixed by Scientist. Scientist is the alter ego of Kingston, Jamaica’s Hopeton Brown - a former protégé of dub originator King Tubby, who’s recently turned 50 (happy birthday, gramps!) A veritable who’s-who of dubstep spanning Mala, Loefah, King Midas Sound, Distance, RSD, Jack Sparrow, Armour (Roly Vex’d) and Cyrus – and they’ve all produced new material for it. The album will be out on Tectonic, the respected Bristol-based label operated by Pinch, at some point in the nottoo-distant future.
BLAXPLOITATION @ BASEMENT
Dust off the platform heels, perm that fro and slide into the denim superflares ‘cos Blaxploitation returns at The Basement this Friday July 16. The night is built upon live recreations of cuts taken from ‘blaxploitation’ flicks of the 70s by artists such as Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield, James Brown, Isaac Hayes and Willie Hutch, and proved a hit with Sydney punters at the Beck’s Festival Bar
of ’08. (This despite CB being evicted from the premises that night for his controversial ‘Black Panther’ costume, which would even have embarrassed fans of Hey Hey It’s Saturday – all three of them.) An expanded 12-piece Professor Groove & the Booty Affair ‘Pimpestra’ (or rather pimp orchestra) will take centre stage, reinterpreting and improvising soul and funk classics along with Juanita Tippins, Jonah Latukefu and DJ Stephen Ferris of FBi radio. Tickets are $25 on the door.
Sydney techno brand Loose Kaboose returns to the proverbial fray this Friday July 16 with a bash at The Civic Underground. Founder DJ Trinity continues to use the night as a platform to push quality local DJs, with Pinksilver’s MarkoJux and Jamie Stevens of Infusion fame on headline duties, ahead of residents Claire Morgan, Jay Smalls and Trinity herself. Stevens’ DJ-pedigree is sometimes overlooked by those only familiar with his work as part of Infusion, but the fact is he’s also a top-drawer producer and DJ in his own right, having remixed renowned acts such as Booka Shade, John Digweed and fellow Aussie Deepchild. Doors will open at 10pm, with $10 entry for those who email organizers their names for the guestlist.
Turbo Recordings’ mainman Tiga Sontag, who recently toured the country for We Love Sounds, will release a new remix LP next week. The forthcoming Gentle Giant Remixes EP contains three versions of the track, and features reworks from D.C. dubstepper Martyn, Berlin’s Efdemin, and Wagon Repair tripper Mathew Jonson. Tiga was in typically sardonic form discussing the release, affirming “When a song means a lot to you personally, having it remixed is a lot like sending your child to undergo plastic surgery. In this case, though, it was like having the operation performed by doctors you respect as musicians. Some may claim that the remixes on this release are too diverse, that they strain the acceptable boundaries of what’s eclectic and what’s too hectic to sex with. And to that I say, ‘You can’t shame the Rebel, dog. You can’t even try.’”
BEEF RECORDS @ LAUNDRY
Local record label Beef Records returns to Chinese Laundry this Saturday for another night of house and techno beats courtesy of some of the label’s representatives. Respected Melbourne DJ/producer Uone is on headline duties ahead of Schwa, Murat Kilic and Laundry resident Club Junque. In the other room, UK DnB stalwarts Aquasky and local Dex’n’fx DJ duo Bitrok throw down. Entry is $15 before 10pm.
Seemingly taking inspiration from Jimmy Cameron, trance brand Godskitchen returns to Australia in 3D form [cut to press release]. “By putting on 3D Glasses, revelers will be thrust into a supersonic world of wonder, one where the music literally comes alive and allows them to reach out, feel it and touch it”. Oh man, this really is too good… I’ll continue: “This year sees Godskitchen throw the doors wide open to a whole new dimension, literally. Featuring an angelic lineup of Trance luminaries, including Andy Moor, John O’Callaghan, Marcel Woods, Wippenberg and many more; Australian dance fans can expect to once again have all their prayers answered”. I’ll leave it there. Godskitchen Sydney falls on Sunday October 3, with full details online. Get there.
“Armour breaks and fire burns, on the way to lessons learned” - THE BEAUTIFUL GIRLS 12 :: BRAG :: 370 : 12:07:10
MISSY ELLIOTT GROOVE ARMADA SOULWAX CHIDDY BANG MIDNIGHT JUGGERNAUTS OU EST LE SWIMMING POOL YOLANDA BE COOL VS DCUP DAN BLACK
MIX MASTER MIKE JACK BEATS BUSY P SINDEN BRODINSKI DJ MEHDI UFFIE AC SLATER BAG RAIDERS THE GLITCH MOB AJAX
THE DANDY WARHOLS KELE (BLOC PARTY) CUT COPY DARWIN DEEZ THE WOMBATS WOLF GANG WASHINGTON GYPSY & THE CAT
35 (6 (1 7 6
681UG2&70,''$<30.,33$;/$.(0225(3$5. 216$/(12:7,&.(76,1)2 7 &V3$5./,)(&20$8
HOLY GHOST! MEMORY TAPES CLASSIXX DELOREAN NEW YOUNG PONY CLUB JESSE ROSE GRUM THE SWISS FLIGHT FACILITIES ANNA LUNOE & MANY MORE
Free tents for Splendour in the Grass Camping at Splendour and donâ€™t have your tent yet? Virgin Mobile is giving away 1000 of them, just because. You donâ€™t even need to be a Virgin Mobile Member to get one. All you need is a valid Splendour Event and Camping ticket.
Register for your free tent at: memberslounge.com.au/splendourinthegrass
The Fine Print: You must have a valid Splendour Event and Camping ticket. Terms & conditions apply, including Splendour ter,s & conditions - see website for details. Offer ends 27/7/10 or when the first 1000 valid claims are received (if earlier). Authorised under NSW Permit No. LTPS/10/05922 SA Permit No. T10/1478. Virgin Mobile (Australia) Pty Limited ABN 67 092 726 442.
BRAG :: 370 :: 12:07:10 :: 13
Industrial Strength themusicnetwork.com
Industry Music News with Christie Eliezer
MUSIC BIZ TO LOBBY OVER DIGITAL RADIO EXEMPTION
NEW SIGNING #2: METALS/ ILLUSIVE
A number of major music associations like ARIA, APRA, AIR, the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEEA) and the Music Council are understood to be making formal protests about the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA)’s decision to exempt digital radio stations from having to play Australian music for three years. Despite strong opposition from the music industry, ACMA agreed with radio’s plea that it needed the freedom to experiment with which formats worked with their listeners. AIR General Manager Nick O’Byrne, warned of “serious repercussions for Australian artists and labels,” saying that, “this ruling has the potential to damage the financial viability of the Australian music industry significantly”.
Melbourne urban label Illusive has signed Metals, who became blog-buzzed after some unmastered tracks leaked in late ’09 with no clue to their identity. Their new single ‘Drop Your Guard’ was produced by Christopher Coe aka Digital Primate.
RADIO MARKET GROWS 2.3% Australia’s commercial radio posted ad revenue of $647.3 million — a rise of 2.3% — in the 2009/10 financial year, compared to the same period the year before. The figures, released by Commercial Radio Australia, show all five metro markets were up in the period. Melbourne had the strongest growth, up 3.3% to $195.4 million. Adelaide was up 2.8% to $61.6 million, Sydney by 2.2% to $202.5 million, Brisbane by 1.3% to $103.3 million and Perth by 0.7% to $84.5 million.
GRAMMY RULES CHANGE
NEW SIGNING #3: LITTLE SCOUT/ ADAM YEE Brisbane’s Little Scout have signed Adam Yee from Mobile Industries as their booking agent. The act is about to record its debut album co-produced by John Steel Singers member Scott Bromiley.
SONY TEAMS WITH JESSICA WATSON Sony Music Entertainment Australia has teamed with 16-year old Jessica Watson who is releasing her book True Spirit next month, about her 210 day solo sailing journey. Sony will release a DVD of the trek and a CD of the 20 songs that Watson listened to during it.
AUSTEREO DIGITAL CHANGES Vinnie Shannon, MD of an Austereo digital station Radar, has moved onto its newest digital station u20radio.com.au. Taking over his old role is former Nova Adelaide MD Olivia Belvedere.
The Grammy awards have changed the eligibility rules for Best New Artist after a technicality barred Lady Gaga. Under old rules, you couldn’t be nominated if you’d had a previous nomination, even if you were nominated as a guest on another act’s album. Gaga’s first single ‘Just Dance’ had been nominated for Best Dance in 2008, so she had to be passed over this year - even though she was clearly the biggest breakthrough. It was won by the Zac Brown Band. The new rules are it’s OK if your single’s been nominated before, but you’re not eligible if it’s an album.
HENLEY AT ABC SYDNEY
NEW SIGNING #1: TEENAGERSINTOKYO/ STOMP
Canadian punk band SNFU had to cancel its Australian and NZ dates this month after one of its members was denied an Australian visa because of “past convictions”. Quite a few of them, we hear. New Noise Agency tried to fight the decision and get around it but to no avail.
Stomp Entertainment has signed Sydney band teenagersintokyo and will release their debut album Sacrifice and single ‘New Day’ on August 20. The band has relocated overseas after support from the NME, BBC1 and XFM - and inked a UK deal with Back Yard Recordings.
Life lines Born: Son Ethan Edward to singer Dannii Minogue and former England rugby player Kris Smith. Ill: Canada’s DJ Champion has been diagnosed with lymphoma. Ill: British singer Cheryl Cole contracted malaria after a trip to Tanzania. Recovered: Fairfax Radio GM Graham Mott told Radioinfo he’s beaten his cancer. In Court: A US couple who claimed a Whitesnake show in 2003 caused them significant hearing loss got $40,000. Their seats gave them a restricted view, so they were moved closer to the front before a tower of speakers. Arrested: George Michael, after he crashed his car into a shop near his home in Hampstead, North London, while returning from a gay pride march. Died: Detroit singer, songwriter and record producer Harvey Fuqua, 80, from a heart attack. He was an early mentor of Marvin Gaye, formed The Monglows (‘Sincerely’, ‘Ten Commandments of Love’) and in 1961 set up Tri-Phi and Harvey Records in 1961 recording The Spinners, Junior Walker & The All Stars, and Shorty Long.
14 :: BRAG :: 370 :: 12:07:10
Andy Henley, Program Director and Station Manager at 666 ABC Canberra, is new Local Content Manager for 702 ABC Sydney and ABC Local Radio NSW.
LINEHAN AT OPERA HOUSE The Sydney Opera House made Fergus Linehan its Head of Contemporary Music. He is already working as its International Program Advisor, and oversaw the Vivid LIVE festival curated by Laurie Anderson and Lou Reed.
SNFU DENIED VISA
COVERYOURARTZ.COM LAUNCHES CoverYourArtz.com is a new resource for the Australian touring sector. It provides data for touring acts to find work, and to find personnel like sound engineers and lighting techs around the country.
NOVA’S BREKKIE CAMPAIGN Nova 969 decided to divert the $250,000 advertising budget it would have spent on billboards and bus shelters for a campaign to see how much love its listeners had for its Merrick, Dools & Ricki-Lee breakfast team. So far, its ‘Love & Money’ campaign has unearthed some interesting responses. One listener decked out her boat with signage, people shaved slogans into their hair or hung big banners in public places. Celebrities like Kelly Rowland pledged their love for the team while former champion waterskier Lauryn Eagle fought her first professional boxing match on their behalf. On Saturday July 17, the team will film an ad at a secret Sydney location, with 800 listeners taking part and getting $50 each. But the ad might not even make it on to TV; they’ve blown their marketing budget!
LIQUID EXPANDS GLOBAL PRESENCE Sydney-based digital company Liquid Music has opened an office in New York City after signing a partnership with North American company Artists Only Entertainment. This now gives it a catalogue of 8 million tracks for download. Liquid is putting together a compilation of Australian music to be launched at the Annandale on July 30. Its Head of A&R Mark Cass says, “Our focus at Liquid Music over the past twelve months, has been to create an avenue for Australian artists to commercialise their talents, while Liquid provides their global reach.”
AUSTRADE SEMINAR: PULL OUT YOUR DIGITAL Austrade’s latest US Masterclass looks at doing business in the New Digital Economy. It’ll cover the differences between Australian and US business culture, tips on contacting
THINGS WE HEAR
* Fanny’s Nightclub in Newcastle is in hot water with authorities. It set up a fencedin outdoor smoking area but hadn’t quite got approval from the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing for licensing the area. The club got sprung when neighbours complained of noise from the area at 1am on a Saturday. * Vanessa Amorosi will open 100 US dates for Matchbox 20 next year. * Delta’s bought a house in the Hollywood Hills, and Guy Sebastian’s just about to buy one too. * Jay Z, Beyonce and Rihanna boycotted the BET black music awards after Chris “Basher” Brown was given the spotlight during a Michael Jackson dedication. * After miserable ratings, Nine says Hey Hey is “taking a break” after its July 21 episode with Kylie. We hear Nine always wanted to do just a series of reunion specials but Daryl Somers insisted on a weekly comeback. * Dappled Cities’ single ‘The Price’ was
potential customers, presenting to an audience, refining the message, closing the deal, Visa requirements and cultural differences. Speakers include Trent Blacket, Director of Asia Pacific, ROAR, attorney Noah E. Klug who is an expert on immigration, and Austrade’s Tony George and Maricela Macias. It’s held at the Austrade offices on July 28 from 11.30am and costs $75. See www.austrade.gov.au or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
JONES IN SCANDAL Tom Jones joins the likes of Lou Reed and Neil Young - providing albums that their record companies refused to release. Last October, Jones signed a a multi-million dollar contract with Island Records. This month when he provided an album not of sexy R&B hipswingers but a collection of hymns. Island’s vice-president David
voted Record Of The Week by listeners of BBC2 Radio, beating other contenders Gorillaz and Surfer Blood. * Another death rumour swept the Tweets last week and made it into the mainstream media — this time it was DJ Tiesto who was supposed to be in a car accident when he was in fact watching the soccer championship. * Two Aussies made it into this year’s Forbes Top 100 earners. AC/DC were at #38 with earnings of US $114 million, and Keith Urban at #76 with $31.5 million.
Sharpe fired off an email to his staff calling the record “a sick joke” and demanding the release be scrapped, or they’d get their money back. Still, some say it’s good marketing to position Jones as a stubborn artist who makes his own music and pits himself against his record label...
ILLEGAL RAVE PROMOTER FINED First time dance promoter Daniel Shani, 24, was fined a total of $12,137 for running an illegal dance party in Byron Bay. He had been repeatedly warned beforehand by Byron Shire Council that he needed a development consent for the Conquest Pool Party at Red Devil Park on March 28, 2009. But by that stage, his lawyer said, he’d already outlaid thousands of dollars for overseas DJs. The rave was a flop, drawing only 250 punters and grossing $10,000. Shani is apparently no longer in the doof-doof promo business.
›› TMN TOP 40 The top 40 most ‘heard’ songs on Australian radio. TW LW TI HP P1 P2 P3 ARTIST
1 15 29 54 KATY PERRY FT. SNOOP DOGG
3 10 2 18 42 72 SCOUTING FOR GIRLS
THIS AIN’T A LOVE SONG
2 10 2 12 24 49 B.O.B FT. HAYLEY WILLIAMS
5 12 4 12 27 46 DAVID GUETTA & CHRIS WILLIS FT. FERGIE & LMFAO GETTIN’ OVER YOU
4 11 3 14 27 47 TAIO CRUZ
BREAK YOUR HEART
6 17 39 75 UNCLE KRACKER
7 10 8
7 11 27 41 TRAVIE MCCOY FT. BRUNO MARS
8 18 7
8 12 26 48 ENRIQUE IGLESIAS FT. PITBULL
I LIKE IT
6 14 1 14 25 46 USHER FT. WILL.I.AM
10 11 6 10 14 42 66 TRAIN
IF IT’S LOVE
11 13 9 11 16 44 75 THIRSTY MERC
12 8 18 6 17 46 60 JET
13 16 5 13 13 28 54 ADAM LAMBERT
IF I HAD YOU
14 12 12 11 12 28 56 AMY MEREDITH
15 15 12 15 14 30 49 PARAMORE
THE ONLY EXCEPTION
16 28 2 16 13 32 51 MAROON 5
17 7 12 6 13 27 54 KE$HA
YOUR LOVE IS MY DRUG
18 17 19 6 18 45 75 JOHN BUTLER TRIO
CLOSE TO YOU
19 20 18 2 15 42 59 ADAM LAMBERT
WHATAYA WANT FROM ME
20 14 15 1 16 31 51 LADY GAGA
21 55 2
21 13 22 41
LOVE THE FALL
22 29 7
VANESSA AMOROSI FT. SEANY B
23 21 16 4
15 44 71
24 22 22 7
19 42 55
25 25 21 1
19 49 62
HEY, SOUL SISTER
26 24 12 11 13 44 61
SAIL THE WILDEST STRETCH UMA
27 32 8
27 11 24 43
3OH!3 FT. KE$HA
MY FIRST KISS
28 30 5
28 12 37 58
HALF OF MY HEART
29 19 12 17 13 32 63
30 53 2
I HATE BOYS
30 11 26 53
31 36 6
31 13 23 47
CAN’T BE TAMED
32 31 7
31 13 25 40
BABY, I’M GETTING BETTER
B.O.B FT. BRUNO MARS
NOTHIN’ ON YOU
34 27 11 16 14 24 45
33 26 17 2
YOLANDA BE COOL & DCUP
WE NO SPEAK AMERICANO
35 23 13 3
JOHN BUTLER TRIO
37 33 15 30 12 24 34
OPPOSITE OF ADULTS
38 35 17 4
BRIAN MCFADDEN FT. KEVIN RUDOLF
JUST SAY SO
OU EST LE SWIMMING POOL
DANCE THE WAY I FEEL
36 40 4
14 27 47 14 25 52
36 12 31 54 11 32 67
39 46 7
40 60 3
40 11 24 49
BRAG :: 370 :: 12:07:10 :: 15
e pride ourselves on putting on a pretty good live show. You know, we always try and make sure they’re full of passion and… Sorry, I’m just reading my press release.” If you thought that Oxford five-piece Foals were the most serious band in England, you’d be sorely mistaken. Deadpan guitarist Jimmy Smith, he of the incredible upper-octave flourishes that have come to characterise the group’s aesthetic, is far more comfortable taking the piss than he is getting into particulars about the nature of the tunes his band write. With the triumphant release of their second album Total Life Forever, which broke Top Ten territory in the UK and is gaining serious mileage on Australian radio, Foals are upping the ante and heading over here to play Splendour. But it turns out touring the new album has been a challenge for Smith, who concedes, “This time around we’ve sort of got to play well and, you know, be in tune.” This renewed focus means the band can’t afford to be as loose as they once were in their Antidotes heyday, and Jimmy’s a bit harder on himself when he hits wrong notes. That doesn’t mean he’s going to be less drunk, but just that he hopes “to have less ‘oh fuck!’ moments.” I take pains to remind him that there’s no better place to be inebriated and fake your way than at a giant Australian music festival… Anybody who’s listened to either of Foals’ fulllength records will know that Smith has arguably got the hardest job in the group. The brutal, syncopated triads he has to strum with lightning precision right up the top of the fretboard are
FOALS seriously damaging to any guitarist’s hands, no less one in the midst of a huge album tour. “We were pretty regimental with our writing [on Antidotes] and I don’t know why that happened, but everything seemed to be really high up,” he says, “It kills your fingers.” This time around, Smith didn’t even ask his band members if he could play down the octave like a regular person. “I just fucking did it. Fuck it, I’m going down – take it or leave it.”
While Jimmy downgraded, Foals’ frontman Yannis Philippakis had to do the opposite. All over the new record, particularly on highlights like ‘Spanish Sahara’ and ‘Blue Blood’, Yannis sings in full voice for what appears to be the first time. While it was his jerky yelping defined Foals’ debut, Total Life Forever showcases a singer who’s really pushing his voice to the limit. “Yeah, he definitely got the worse end of the deal,” Smith laughs. “Now he has to go out and actually sing this thing every night, while I can still get drunk and play easier - because there’s more room on the frets down the bottom. I don’t even have to look anymore!” It may be fun and games now that the record is in the bag, but Smith admits that Total Life Forever came very close to totally ending Foals’ life. It may have something to do with their recording method; the band holed themselves up in an Oxford house for eight months to write, before heading off to freezing, desolate Sweden to cut the final tracks. Still, Foals have had experience living in close quarters - they’ve been doing it since the band formed - and Smith believes it’s actually conducive to their writing style. “We’re so used to each other by now,” he says. “But we do get our own space. Like, I’d
get the bathroom and someone else gets the kitchen.” They also started recording vocals in the shower of an abandoned 18th century apartment, in the basement - which gave them a great excuse to smell bad, “for the sake of art.” But Gothenburg was an entirely different experience. “It was so fucking expensive there, and so cold. I’ve got a huge overdraft as a result. The studio, ironically, was really cheap for what it was.” It also happened to be where Jose Gonzalez does most of his recording, and Jimmy bumped into him. “We didn’t use him, but we should’ve. I could have gone out for ten minutes and he could have subbed in for me. Just as long as he didn’t go anywhere near that acoustic guitar…”
Between Sweden and their “Oxfordian House of Mathematics” (don’t Google it, they made up the name), Foals were pretty much excised from the rest of the planet. “We spent so long on it, shut away in our own little world, that we had no fucking idea whether it was good or bad,” says Smith. In order to test their fans’ reactions, the band decided to release the most radical shift in sound, ‘Spanish Sahara’, first. “That was us dipping our toes in. Might as well scare the shit out of people while we’ve got ‘em, ‘statement of intent’ sort of thing,” he says. Much to their surprise though, it worked. The track, alongside its stunning clip, was critically appraised and ended up being used to promote a new season of Entourage in the US. Talk about unexpected. “Before it came out, before anyone heard it, we were like ‘Oh shit, I wonder how this one’s going to go down’,” says Jimmy. “You could always have some industry guy who comes in and says ‘Yeah, great!’, but can you really trust that guy, or does he just want our money?”
With Jonno Seidler With such a positive reaction from critics and fans, Foals allowed themselves the chance to get a little playful. Enlisting longtime collaborator Dave Ma, their video for the new single ‘Miami’ is shot in L.A. in a bizarre homage to Dave LaChapelle featuring a bunch of muscle junkies going to war with transsexuals who, naturally, arrive on the scene in a souped-up Chevy. Smith was excited about he project, but a bit disappointed that Foals’ frequent flier miles didn’t get them over to the States to take part in the clip themselves. “People wouldn’t expect us to make a comedy video,” he says. “It’s cool. If we could have gotten there, they [the transsexuals] totally would have been us.” It turns out that Ma (who is the brother of Lost Valentinos’ main man, Jono Ma) pitched the idea to Smith a year ago. “I thought he was going to give it to someone else, so when he saved it for us, it made me feel really special.” In a recent overseas interview, Yannis explained that being in Foals was “a bit like having bipolar”, because everybody in the band had different musical backgrounds and preferences. But when pressed on what he’s into when he isn’t being the Foals axeman, Smith surprises me; “Me? I’m desperately trying to save my relationship. Yeah, it’s been a couple of years, so just trying to keep that off the rocks.” With that problem haunting his everyday existence, Jimmy reckons he could now probably write the ultimate ballad. “I’m working on something for the Olympics. I missed the World Cup, but I don’t really care. I want the fucking opening credits and closing credits, the people running in slow-motion. I want the whole thing.”
Who: Foals What: Total Life Forever is out now When: Wednesday July 28 Where: Manning Bar More: Splendour In The Grass 2010
“The dogs are still in parliament And every summer day is spent Under the shade down by the fence” – THE BEAUTIFUL GIRLS 16 :: BRAG :: 370:: 12:07:10
BRAG :: 370 :: 12:07:10 :: 17
Basement Birds Here And Now And Then No More By Mike Gee
here’s something about Western Australia that seems to just get in the blood. Melbourne and Sydney may boast that they’re at the centre of Australia’s shake, rattle & roll - and Brisbane’s had its fair share too - but if you looked at the long historical picture, WA has consistently sat at the epicentre of Australian rock since the genre’s early heydays. INXS, Brian Cadd, Baby Animals, Bon Scott (AC/DC), Johnny Young, John Butler Trio, The Waifs, Little Birdie, Sleepy Jackson, Eskimo Joe, Jebediah, Diesel, and even the man himself, Rolf Harris... Now there’s a lineup. There’s little doubt that WA has produced a remarkable bunch of songwriters and performers. Part of it has do with the isolation, but a lot of it has to do with the camaraderie; nearly every generation of Perth bands has ended up in one another’s pockets. Most recently, Perth has been enjoying a level of pop/rock adulation with the success of Eskimo Joe, Jebediah, and the latter’s frontman Kevin Mitchell as alter-ego Bob Evans. So take Kevin, Eskimo Joe’s Kavyen Temperley, Perth music stalwart Steve Parkin (Vinyl, Autopilot) and add a dash of NSW - Josh Pyke, who recently joined Eskimo Joe on a national tour - and you’ve
got Basement Birds; a bonafide, slightly manic supergroup - who are mostly from W.A. Kavyen is an energetic sort, 32 last weekend and born in Perth’s Mosman Park. He admits that this little lot is one of the few hair-brained schemes he and Parkin have had which has actually got off the ground. After bemoaning that he’s currently “working [his] butt off”, Kav recognises that he only has himself to blame. “That’s what happens when you’ve got two bands.” Thankfully though, it’s worth it – the music Basement Birds have let loose so far is excellent. On the evidence of the first six tracks, pre-release murmurs that this project would embrace Wilco, Crosby Stills Nash & Young, and The Travelling Wiburys are right on the money. There are harmonies galore; lilting, masculine, country-graced, pop-smeared harmonies, with strummed guitars, laid-back toetapping, head nodding tunes and some heartfelt lyrics that ponder the wrong end of love and the right end of life. Throw in a handful of instantly-hummable moments, and it’s hard not to be impressed. “The album is something that developed over three years,” Kav tells me. Kevin Mitchell and Steve Parkin started writing together on the Bob Evans tour - the result was a song called ‘Waiting For You’. Pyke and Kav similarly began exchanging ideas during the Eskimo Joe national tour - the result was a couple of boozy sessions in Temperley’s home studio. “We had a fantasy that those early songs, those crazy drunk recordings, would be an album,” Kav tells me. “But sadly, they only sounded like crazy drunk recordings. So we had to get serious - and over 17 days recorded and wrote the whole thing in the studio out back of my house. “We just finished mixing the record, we’re doing some interviews, there’s an August tour and then it’s over,” he tells me, of the group’s current trajectory. “We all have commitments in our mega bands after that... I have to do Eskimo Joe, Josh has to do Josh, Kevin is either doing Bob or Jebediah or both, and Steve is working on a solo album. So Basement Birds is here and now and then no more. If you want to use Travelling Wilburys as an example it’s a good one - I would love something like that to happen with Basement Birds - but there is that point when we have to get back to our day jobs.”
“We had a fantasy that those early songs, those crazy drunk recordings, would be an album. But sadly, they only sounded like crazy drunk recordings.” So how did four lead singers fit into one band? Pretty well, it turns out. “It did have a slightly ramshackle feel but it sounds complete, which is good.” They sat in the jam room and wrote, composed and completed, and the next day would do it all again. “It’s actually how I always fantasised you make records,” he says. Eskimo Joe have a different method, as they should, but their next album will certainly bear the mark of the ‘Birds. “There’s going to be a lot less of the slow Kav songs,” he says, unequivocally. “It feels like my whole song palette has been cleansed. We’re about to make the next album, and you can’t go on with old flavours.” Kav describes Basement Birds as a “sliding door.” “I have two kids and two bands and I’m losing my shit, man. I didn’t really think Basement Birds was going to be a success story. The good thing is, we’re a genuine indie project; our money, our DIY mix with a friend, my computer, Josh’s preamp. There’s nothing very corporate about it. I really like that, and if we make our investment back that would be really nice too. In the record business horrible things can happen; you see a lot of crazy shit around you when you’re in a band for any period of time.” But, Kav says, you don’t have to succumb to all of that. “One of the things I love about Kev, Mr Bob Evans - who’s been doing this longer than all of us, the Mr Big of Perth music fame - is that he holds the most innocence of all of us. It’s essential to be able to do that, to remain in some way innocent. It’s what I love about him.” It’s this integrity and authenticity above all else that distinguishes the music of Basement Birds - and it seems that the flock of four friends all get it, too. Who: Basement Birds What: Basement Birds is out July 16 through Inertia When: Friday August 20 Where: The Enmore Theatre 18 :: BRAG :: 370 :: 12:07:10
Black Cab Out Of The Dark By Kate Hennessy
omething is missing with Black Cab; something other bands have. The psych rock outfit seems devoid of the drive to stamp more punters. So much so that, even after ten years of a critically lauded career, they’re still yet to play a weekend headline show at a mainstream Sydney venue - preferring to play gigs to a staunch fanbase in their hometown of Melbourne instead. It’s especially curious for a band who’ve released three astonishing LPs to both local and international acclaim, with 2009’s Call Signs even nominated for the Australian Music Prize (AMP). Yep, the same AMP awarded in previous years to The Drones for Wait Long By The River… and to Eddy Current Suppression Ring for Primary Colours. For a band so celebrated and respected, it’s fair to ask if they’ve been hiding... “A lot of journos were coming up to us at the AMP saying ‘I really like your debut album’ and it was like “It’s our third album guys!’ They’d never heard of us before,” laughs Black Cab vocalist and programmer Andrew Coates. He’s just forcibly inserted his two children into their sleeping pods (his words) in his Melbourne home, and we’re chatting about how Black Cab’s relative anonymity north of Melbourne might be set to change. “The ’Cab can’t lurk in the shadows of obscurity forever. We don’t wanna be these oddball Melbournites that just do esoteric concept albums. We want to try to take it somewhere different.”
Stones’ manager Sam Cutler guested, and also put in some yards touring with the band. Melbourne songstress Monique Brumby does backing vocals on ‘Sexy Polizei’ too, and the band has roped-in the production talents of Simon Polinski, whose background is in the ’90s industrial dance techno scene. Coates is vague about when the full record will emerge, and whether or not it too will be conceptual. “It’s not [a concept album] at this stage, but that may emerge as we go. It’s kind of nice to sprinkle some thematic dust over tracks and pull it all together. It makes it more of an interesting listen from start to finish. “Aside from this single, so far the new stuff is the usual, oddball, esoteric ’Cab stuff with no structure or lyrics or anything like that yet. We did some wacky stuff to tape – there’s a track in there that’s 20+ minutes long.” He says they’ll eventually mangle and punch it all into something that sounds good. “That approach generally seems to work for us!” Who: Black Cab When: Oxford Art Factory Where: Friday July 16
Thus energised, Black Cab is finally bound for Sydney to headline a Friday show at The Oxford Art Factory. And they’re set to impress. They’re bringing their sound dude. They’re actively seeking press and publicity. They’re even venturing further north to play their first ever gig in Brisbane. And they might even crank out a few covers; the band has Joy Division’s ‘Transmission’ ready to roll, plus their slow-building, smacked-out version of Velvet Underground classic ‘Sister Ray’.
“The ’Cab can’t lurk in the shadows of obscurity forever. We don’t wanna be these oddballs that just do esoteric concept albums.” This flurry of activity is all driven by the aim to do what most bands exhaust themselves attempting to do from Day One: create a buzz. “We’re not a commercial concern, you see,” explains Coates. “No-one expects to make money from us and no-one in the band expects to make money. There’s so little money in music anyway. You don’t make it from selling albums and you certainly don’t make it from selling singles. We put stuff out because we like it, and it interests us.” Black Cab have even gone so far as to release a single in advance of the July tour. ‘Sexy Polizei’ has a disco beat, is three-minutes long and catchy as hell. “The lyrics for ‘Sexy Polizei’ are loosely inspired by a maniac policeman running up and down the Autobahn killing people,” Coats tells me. “It plays on that whole sex cop angle, which we find pretty funny. We’ve tried to find a way to kind of sex-up the ’Cab, which is kinda difficult for a bunch of old dudes like us. And it was a nice challenge for me to find the three minute radio experience we’ve never had to care about that before!” The songwriting core of Black Cab is Coates and guitarist James Lee. The live band includes drummer Richard Andrew (Underground Lovers, Crow), bassist Anthony Paine (High Pass Filter), programmer Steve Law and guitarist Alex Jarvis (Amplifier Machine, Alex Jarvis Band). All have day jobs and other musical interests, which could also explain that lack of desperation to go ‘big’. Well, that and the band’s penchant for concept (or at least themed) albums, which see them pretty much drop off the grid to craft. 2004’s Altamont Diary, for instance, was about the 1969 California free Stones concert (read: disaster), Altamont. Jesus East in 2006 had a strong eastern flavour and last year’s release was inspired by the Stasi in pre-unification East Germany. “Personally, I gravitate towards all things European,” Coates says. “Especially cool things from the 70s and 80s. But for every person who really dug that whole 70s German vibe there was a whole group of people who probably thought, ‘I have no fucking clue why that would be interesting’. So I just hope this new single makes people happy, instead of bumming them out with that whole dour Stasi vibe.” Black Cab likes to loop in unexpected luminaries with each release. Died Pretty vocalist Ron Peno guested on a track called ‘Ghost Anthems’ on last year’s Call Signs and made regular, electrifying appearances at gigs - the most memorable Sydney one was at a steamy, Summer afternoon show at the CAD Factory in Marrickville. On previous record Jesus East, one-time Rolling BRAG :: 370 :: 12:07:10 :: 19
The Holy Soul Keeping Busy Mikey Carr
teeped in the sounds of the swamp, and rife with the spirit of rock n roll, The Holy Soul are one of those few local rock bands that seem to be standing the test of time. Having released their second full-length Damn You, Ra, toured with Kim Salmon & The Surrealists and The Drones, and played some shows in Malaysia and Taiwan all in the past year, you’d think the band would want to take a break. But why take a break when you can release an improvised album you recorded with ex-CAN singer Damo Suzuki, and start planning for your third LP? “We’ve got a handful of songs that we’re kicking around at the moment, but we don’t have enough material to record yet,” bassist Sam Worrad explains. “A couple of the songs are kind of like The Stooges, maybe a sort of more dapper version of The Stooges actually, but right now we’re just talking about places to record.” The first few Holy Soul releases were recorded in a bee-keeeping shed, and Ra was laid down in a “weird industrial zone” in North Rocks. “We’ve never really worked in traditional studio or anything. Maybe we’ll try to keep that up, just to be wankers,” he says with a laugh. Obviously the sort of band who like to do things their own way, it came as no surprise
when they announced that rather on heading up the east coast to play more club shows, The Holy Soul would fly to Taiwan via Malaysia for some gigs, joining fellow Aussie Mick Turner to play a festival outside of Taipie. “It was just incredible,” Sam tells me, with a tone of wistful reminiscence. “By a sheer stroke of luck we ended up in Taiwan staying in these fancy digs and playing this great festival with these great bands. Sort of makes you forgot about every time you’ve been stuck out on the side of the road round Maitland with a flat tyre...” The Taiwan gig was in an old sports stadium, forty minutes out of Taipei. “The festival crowds over there were amazing; so cool and just such nice kids. I mean, most tickets came with free beer all day and I didn’t see one incident the whole time. You can imagine what would happen if the Big Day Out had free beer all day - it’d be mayhem. But the crowds over there were just so respectful, but still really getting into it.”
amount of stuff going on at the moment, I would really love to go back and play somewhere like Indonesia or Thailand.”
The trip seems to have left a mark on Sam, the exotic settings and passionate audiences striking a bit of a chord. “The vodka and mango juice rider was great and everything was just so tropical; I really wonder why more bands don’t try it out. It’s very cheap to get there and while there may not be a huge
The band will be sticking around at least a little while longer - they’ll be headlining the Oxford Art Factory on July 22, with support from The Stabs, The Maladies and The Whipped Cream Chargers. That’s not all we have to look forward to though. “Damo is going to be here in November,” Sam says.
The band are trying to organise some shows with Suzuki, to coincide with the release of the improvisational LP they recorded in 2008, with Dan Luscombe from the Drones on keys... Definitely one to watch out for. Who: The Holy Soul Where: Oxford Art Factory When: Thursday July 22
The Beautiful Girls Go It Alone By Terry Broun Jr
Men Of Letters By Nell Greco
imagine Oscar Wilde writing a letter to his friend, Darkly,” James O’Brien tells me over the phone. The Boat People’s singer/songwriter is talking to me about their third album Dear Darkly which came out last week, the follow up to 2008’s Chandeliers. The time between that release and this one has mostly been spent touring around the UK and the US - and the time on the road has clearly impacted their sound. This release is their most diverse to date, with introspective layers and complexities added to already quirky pop rock. The Brisbane-based Boaties are now residing at opposite stretches of the East Coast of Australia - between Brisbane and Melbourne. “We’re throwing demos and music around through email, and we sort of have to plan out rehearsals around gig opportunities.” But the move seems to have done James some good; he’s been writing more since he landed in Melbourne. “I really reckon that cold weather is more conducive to being creative! As opposed to the all-encompassing never-ending heat in Brisbane, which kind of makes you lethargic. You think, ‘Well blow this - I’m going in the pool!’” he tells me. “But in Melbourne you can kind of ferret yourself away; it’s comforting and warming to be working on something creative.” Dear Darkly is definitely the work of a band who’s been exploring new creative avenues. Robin Waters, the other singer/songwriter in the band, has left a letter to people purchasing the album online. “This is the album that is finally us and we want more than anything to share it with you”, he says. James elaborates on what he means. “I feel with this record, (and I think we all do,) that we had nothing to lose. So we just went for it and didn’t hold back any of our ideas, collectively or individually, and I think all the different personalities in the band really shone in the music.” Indeed, contradictions abound on the record. Take ‘Dance To My Pain’, the upbeat, catchy melody counterbalanced with lyrics like, ‘get on the floor/laugh in my face’. James assures
me this level of irony was intended: “Even if it is melancholy and exploring some things that are a little bit unnerving, I still want there to be a sense of optimism [to my music].” Guitarist Charles Dugan also had a more influential role this time around according to O’Brien, reinforcing the overall attitude of the album. “There’s some beautiful, almost Wilco-esque kind of playing on the song ‘Pornography’, and ‘You Are Adored’ has an almost jazz-styled guitar solo.” Being on tour helped encourage this exploration. James talks about Telekinesis, a band they played with in the L.A, whose simple, beautiful melodies and power-pop directness made him reconsider his own song-writing methods. “If you’ve got a good idea why complicate it with another new section, when you’ve already got something great that says what you want to say?”
stepped back for a quick breather. He’s adamant that they’ve still since managed to craft a very Beautiful Girls-sounding record - it was important to him that they retained the group’s identity, while still moving forward as a band. “So there were either a bunch of songs that either sounded too much like the past,” he remembers, “or too far into the future; too much a shift to the left… There was some huge solid work there,” he adds. “In that year there was 9am-‘til-3am finishes, weeks at a time.”
“Before, there’s always been some kind of concession,” he says, “to be quite candid.” He describes their first album as “just a bunch of songs” – back then, they were just throwing everything to the wall to figure out what they were good at. Their follow-up was a response to the success of the first. “It was kind of that acoustic surf-rocky thing,” he says. “We were happy to be slotted in [to that scene], because for the first time in our careers as musicians we actually had people coming to our shows and buying tickets… And then that became a bad thing because it was like, now you just think we’re like Jack Johnson or Ben Harper or whatever,” he laughs.
The most interesting part for Mat was, he says, “putting on several different hats… I never would have dreamed about myself in the technical world learning how to operate software and generate sounds, and all that kind of stuff. But I had to learn all that, adopt that position, put that hat on.” Editing was a hard role for him to play, too – a totally different way to think about a project, “where you don’t assume that everything that you record and write is valid just because you spent time on it.”
“The next record from that was reactionary,” Mat continues, “and then the record after that was more [us] still trying to escape that, and trying to dip our toes in the commercial world.” But this latest one, he tells me, was different. “The only concern was, ‘let’s just make a record that we all would wanna listen to collectively’ - or,” he chuckles, “just me, really. I put the record together over about a year at my house.” Writing and producing all the tracks for Spooks took McHugh over a year, while the band
So is the craftsman behind Spooks happy with how the album represents The Beautiful Girls in 2010? Certainly. “The way it’s been done before... no matter who’s playing on it or how amazing they are, I always feel like there’s a degree of watering down the initial impetus of the idea,” he says. “It’s a really hard thing to translate what you want or need - especially to other people, no matter how phenomenal they are. [Working alone] was the most intense, fearful, crazy musical experience that I’ve ever had to do; it was immense, and it was so draining and so fullon. At the end of it, it was like, ‘Whooo just give me a rest now for a while’, you know?” he laughs. “But the end result - I am the most happy with it, out of all the records.”
Routine label politics delayed the release of Dear Darkly by more than six months. “I can’t even imagine what it’s like for some other bands,” James says, frustrated by the process. “We don’t have much of a ‘machine’ behind us, because we control a lot of what we do.” But he’s in high spirits about the month of Aussie touring that the band have ahead of them to promote the album. “Sometimes you can feel removed from it all, and then you’ll chat to someone at a gig and realise that what you’re doing has meant something really important to them. That’s a really great feeling.” During our chat, James also mentioned that the band will happily write you a personalised thankyou letter if you purchase a copy of Dear Darkly at the merch desk at their show. You should take them up on the offer - and ask them to do it in the style of Oscar Wilde… Who: The Boat People
Who: The Beautiful Girls
What: Dear Darkly is out now
What: Spooks is out now
When: Friday July 16
When: Saturday July 17
Where: The Enmore
“I fell into a burning ring of fire I went down, down, down and the flames went higher” - JOHNNY CASH 20 :: BRAG :: 370 :: 12:07:10
The Boat People photo by Ben Loveridge
The Boat People
our albums, one compilation and three EPs in, and after seven years of pretty much constant international touring, it’s understandable that the sound of The Beautiful Girls would change. Mat McHugh is taking a spell at home on the northern beaches of Sydney, two weeks into the Beautiful Girls’ current national album launch tour. He tells me that their latest record Spooks is, for the first time, the sort of music he himself would listen to. Probably because this time, he did it all himself.
The Hip Hop Approach Stand Up By Mikey Carr
’m sitting in the lower house of the Parliament of New South Wales, where a large-set and adorable-looking tour guide is giving a speech on the value of democracy, and how the legislative process works. Sitting next to me are The Tongue, MC Jeswon from Thundamentals, True Vibenation and Mailer Daemon. We’re all a little surprised to be sitting where we are. They’re here for a photo shoot to promote Oxfam’s The Hip Hop Approach – and I’m here to talk to them about it. The idea behind next week’s gig/forum is to promote political thought, discussion and participation through art and music; to encourage people to take action against poverty and social injustice. So the setting is somewhat explained - but still, it’s a rather absurd scene. Just moments ago we were banging away on the lecterns shouting out ‘Mr Speaker! Mr Speaker!,’ shaking fistfuls of Parliamentary transcripts at each other - but now it feels more like an excursion, everyone sitting quietly listening to Danny’s speech, while the photographer looks fretfully at her watch, snapping an occasional photo from the side. “The great thing about our system of government is that if there’s something you don’t like about the way the country is being run, you can change it,” says the didactic tour guide. He’s sweating slightly, but doesn’t seem uncomfortable. He laughs a lot. “If you
“It’s offensive for people to hear someone just rap about how good they are. Like, c’mon man. That’s all you’ve got to say for three albums? This isn’t gonna last.”
for instance want legal marijuana,” he offers, a grin creeping across his face as we all giggle, “you can change that. All you need to do is go out and get enough support, and you can change that. Not many other countries in the world have that. Not many people in the world can come into where their country is run and sit here like you are doing now.” After the tour guide has left, I get a chance to ask the artists a few questions about why they’re so keen to put these kinds of topics on the table for Oxfam. Bheki from True Vibenation answers, “I don’t think the point is to put topics on the table as such, like telling people they should be thinking about this or that or whatever. It’s more about encouraging people to think about what they believe in; to think about it, and think about what action they can take if they’re not happy with something.” “I think a big problem is that a lot of people don’t seem to have much faith in political systems,” adds The Tongue, “and what faith they have is fast dwindling.” He continues, explaining how a lot of today’s youth feel alienated and disconnected from our country’s political system. “Hopefully we can just get them involved in the process again,” he tells me. “You have to vote regardless don’t you? You may as well be putting it towards something you believe in.” The night is being held at the Oxford Art Factory on Wednesday July 14, and will play host to local hip-hop luminaries The Tongue, Thundamentals, True Vibenation and Sketch The Rhyme as well as DJ Triptix and Mailer Daemon - along with live painting by Oh Really Gallery artists Max Berry and Ears. With entry free, it’s not a fundraiser but a forum for discussion – where each act or artist will be using their own form of creative expression to talk about social injustice and potential solutions. I’m curious about the connection between hip hop and politics - and mention that a lot of people find politics in music offensive. “It’s equally offensive for people to hear someone just rap about how good they are,” The Tongue
retorts. “Like, c’mon man. That’s all you’ve got to say for three albums? This isn’t gonna last.” Jeswon chimes in here: “It’s such a balancing act. As Australians we do have it pretty good, so when you do get a bit political a lot of people just switch off because, you know, ‘it doesn’t affect me, my life is rosy.’ So you have to walk that fine line of getting political ideas out there without being so overbearing you loose the crowd. “ “It’s almost like there’s a fear of confrontation with the audience,” says Vuli of True Vibenation. “The thing is though, no change was ever made without confrontation. That’s what creates change: someone being challenged. You should never be afraid of confronting your audience on certain ideas.” Vuli talks about sites like 3things and GetUp that are mobilising a new generation, as new media offers up new ways to connect and communicate with like-minded people. “There’s a paradox with that though. It has the ability to really spread great ideas and open up channels of discussion across the globe, but it also has the ability to keep Insane Clown Posse famous. I just think that as people, as
part of a shared future, we have a duty to pursue things that are relevant to us and our lives to come.” I mention how hard it is sometimes to change things, making it easy to slip into apathy, to assume some kind of veil of ironic cynicism. But the Tongue challenges me on that one, too. “I think the system works pretty well, by and large,” he says. “I think a big part of the problem is that people tend to focus on the fact that certain issues aren’t getting raised in parliament, and then just say, ‘Oh no, the system’s ruined.’ That’s more of a reason for you to do something, to exercise your rights... I mean, this is the system we’ve got, you know?” So - Beg to differ? You know where to go! Who: The Tongue, Thundamentals, True Vibenation, Sketch The Rhyme & more What: Oxfam’s The Hip Hop Approach Where: Oxford Art Factory When: Wednesday July 14 More: thehiphopapproach.my3things.org/
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Robyn Body Talking By Dan Watt
ou shouldn’t judge a book by its cover but people do. Swedish dance crossover artist Robyn (aka Robin Mirriam Carlsson) spent the first half of her career held back by tracks like ‘Show Me Love’, which painted her as nothing but a pop princess. But with her 2007 self-titled debut, and its lead single ‘Konichiwa Bitches,’ she blasted those perceptions so violently that most people didn’t believe it was the same Robyn at all… Now, on her follow-up Body Talk Pt. 1, she’s screaming out ‘Don’t Tell Me What The Fuck To Do’. “For me, having a swear word in a song isn’t very controversial anymore - I don’t know if it’s very brave to write songs with swear words now,” says a cautious Carlsson. “I wrote that song after coming back off tour, and being tired of having people in my face telling me to do interviews and shit, when I just wanted to be in the studio and working on songs! What is controversial about that song is being a girl who doesn’t give a fuck what people think about her.” The drive to be in the studio followed the mainstream release of Robyn in 2007, which saw Carlsson tied into an extended world tour, off the back of its hit single ‘With Every Heartbeat’.
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‘Don’t Tell Me What The Fuck To Do’ is the lead single from Body Talk Pt. 1, the first in a trinity of releases, with the next two instalments set to drop within the next six months. “There is no conceptual theme between the three albums,” Carlsson clarifies. “Releasing the album in three parts is a practical solution; I haven’t had enough time in the last four years to get in the studio and record all of the songs that I have been writing.” Body Talk Pt. 1 consolidates Carlsson’s pop philosophy, and tracks like ‘Dancing On My Own’, with its crisp and driving electro-disco beat reminiscent of New Order’s ‘Temptation’, conjure the deeply emotive textures of ‘With Every Heartbeat’. “I love pop songs that are happy and sad at the same time,” Carlsson tells me. “No matter what it is, if it’s ‘Purple Rain’, ‘Dancing With Tears In My Eyes’ by Ultravox or ‘True Colours’ by Cindy Lauper; the mix between something that is emotional and still very strong and empowering is very cool… That’s what ‘Heartbeats’ is and that’s what ‘Dancing On My Own’ is too.” Carlsson reveals that ‘Dancing On My Own’ was inspired by her watching people in a club. “The (night)club is almost the same value these days as a church. It’s where people go to connect – sometimes in a good way, sometimes in a bad. The song is about going to a club and being unhappy, but at the same time enjoying it.” Elsewhere on the album, Carlsson abandons pop in her quest for raw emotion; in ‘Hang With Me’, the singer’s sweet vocals are accompanied by sparse acoustic guitar, provided by her regular songwriting partner Klaus Ahlund. “Klaus and I usually write our songs together on acoustic guitar – that’s how we wrote ‘Heartbeat’. I was really keen to put out a track in that raw form, and after we’d written ‘Hang With Me’ I knew that would be the one.”
“For me, having a swear word in a song isn’t very controversial anymore - I don’t know if it’s very brave to write songs with swear words now... What is controversial about that song is being a girl who doesn’t give a fuck what people think about her.” It wasn’t just the style in which ‘Hang With Me’ was written that contributed to its raw aesthetic. Carlsson tells me about a very special piece of equipment she used, which was once owned by a Swedish music great. “When we were in the studio Klaus bought a microphone that belonged to a Swedish jazz singer-” Carlsson pauses, before quietly adding, “well she’s dead now. Monica Zetterland. She recorded with [the microphone] on a classic jazz album from 1960s called Waltz For Debbie, which she did together with Bill Evans - an amazing piano player who played with Miles Davis. I loved that album so much that I decided to record ‘Hang With Me’ with that microphone.” Don’t be mislead into thinking that Body Talk Pt. 1 is all about shock messages and profound songwriting. It also contains hectic dancefloor romps in the vein of ‘Konichiwa Bitches’. ‘Dance Hall Queen’ was written with Detroit über-producer Thomas Wesley Pentz, more commonly known as Diplo. In talking about the exquisite energy of the track, Carlsson explains, “Diplo, like me, is a guy who grew up with an eclectic mix of black and white music, and I think we are both drawn to a quality in music that might be weird for people. We’re both not afraid to do things that feel out of place.” As for where the rest of the Body Talk series is headed musically, it’s best to look to the examples Robin Carlsson gives me of similar artists who’ve approached pop from abstract places. “Look at the music I grew up with in Sweden in 90s, with Dr Alban, Neneh Cherry, Technotronic,” she hints. “Pop acts that started to make pop music with rave and hip hop, until it just became something of their own.” Who: Robyn What: Body Talk Pt. 1 is out now on Modular
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brushstrokes WITH CHANTEUSE
his week Fiona Thorn channels French iconoclast Serge Gainsbourg, from the Vaticanbanned Je T'Aime Moi Non Plus, to circa Melody Nelson – with the help of a five-piece band, and her swoonworthy French vocals… What is your background/training as a performer? I began singing because I spoke French. I was involved in a French cabaret evening with the Melbourne French Theatre company. That was also how I met my first piano player, Philippe. We got a gig at Jazz After Dark at the Arts Centre after that, and also a regular gig at a bar in Richmond. I moved from jazz into comedy and then into cabaret. When did you first catch the performing bug? I always wanted to perform and write as a child, but never thought it would be possible. I did quite well at school and the expectation was that I’d do something ‘appropriate’. It wasn’t until I lost both my parents that I felt for many reasons that it was possible. Do you remember your first ‘Serge’ experience? When I lived in Paris many
moons ago, my French friend Jerome made me some mixed cassettes! It was French music 101 :-) Serge was certainly the most notorious French artist I came across. The French absolutely adore him he’s a god there, and his music is amazing - still a huge influence on pop music today. If you like Air and Beck you would love Serge! It’s hard to say which song/album is the best - he crossed so many styles - chanson, pop, jazz, latin, reggae, disco, electronica... But I do love a lot of his early stuff as well as the ‘Melody Nelson’ era, around the late 60s early 70s. And why is Serge a genius, in your opinion? I guess he’s a genius because his music still resonates so strongly, today. And it’s not just the music, it’s the lyrics - they are biting, clever, musical - so brilliant. It gets me so excited I’m desperate to share it! There are so many layers to his work, and yes, I’m still discovering new things. You can sing in English, Russian, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and Japanese - which do you prefer? I think probably French, though each language has its own
Black Cherry is back next weekend, with its trademark mix of burlesque bombshells, bands, and beats, serving up everything from punk to rockabilly, garage, soul, ska, alt-country, blues, swamp, glam & alternative. On the performance front, Sydney sex-bombs Briana Bluebell and Lauren LaRouge will be strutting their stuff, and Melbourne’s Tana Karo (aka Tank) will be bringing her special brand of one-point aerial trapeze with a little ‘clothes burning’ routine… Live acts include The Snowdroppers and The Rumjacks, with Toz Riot (Bris) on the decks. And apparently if you get there for the 8-9pm happy hour, there are yummy cocktail creations from the good folk at Green Fairy Original Czech Absinth. July 24 @ the Factory Theatre. blackcherrypresents.com.au
KINGPINS / B'DAY SUIT
Acclaimed Sydney performers The Kingpins are back with a new adventure - Birthday Suit. No strangers to crossing the line, the Pins have forgone contemporary art for fashion; a medium that is commercially driven, broadly accessible, and demands a total reinvention every three months. Unsurprisingly, these clothes are not for the faint-hearted. Their first range featured "the outfits Azaria would be wearing if she hadn’t been taken by a dingo". Since then they’ve mixed up intergalactic hoodies, animal prints, taffeta, bondage, and the most fabulous catsuits you’d ever dare to wear. An exhibition of photographs documenting the range opens from July 23 at the Australian Centre for Photography. All the deets at acp.org.au
The Red Shoes (1948)
charm and use. Sometimes German is good for strength for example. Tell us about He Drank Too Many Cigarettes… The show is a look at some of Serge’s bestloved hits as well as some of his lesser known gems. I throw in a few anecdotes about the more interesting aspects of Serge’s life and there is some ‘spoken word’ in English, so people have a way into the music. His lyrics are so amazing I try to do my best to make them accessible to non-French-speakers. And when and why did you decide to do this show? I was dying to do a show of some of my favourite French artists and a few years ago I did a show called Fais-moi mal Johnny [Hurt me Johnny] with some of my favourites from Jerome’s tapes, and from there I was asked to do a concert of Boris Vian songs to celebrate the 50 year anniversary of his death. Then I was asked by the Alliance Française to do a concert of Serge Gainsbourg songs for the French Film Festival - the closing night film was Serge Gainsbourg - vie heroique - a brilliant movie about his life. That formed the basis of this show, though we’ve added a medley of some of his ‘go- go’ hits as well as some other stuff. What: He Drank Too Many Cigarettes When: July 16 & 17 Where: The Studio, Sydney Opera House More: sydneyoperahouse.com
After a successful season last year, Sydney Opera House is bringing back Spring Dance - four weeks of exceptional artistry, athleticism and grace from some of the most exciting choreographers and performers working across the globe: Flemish / Moroccan choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui performs in a Sadler’s Wells production; tap legend Savion Glover makes his first Australian appearance; and Artistic Director of Chunky Move, Gideon Obarzanek returns to the stage for the first time in 18 years! They’re also bringing back the free dance films on the forecourt – including Powell/ Pressburger classic The Red Shoes and the online global dance competition My Mutation. Check out the full line-up at sydneyoperahouse.com/springdance
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© Jordan Graham for the Birthday Suit
Put this in your diary: our favourite messtival, Newtown Fest, has been pegged for Sunday November 14. Perhaps you want to mark November 15 for ‘sick day’ – and start thinking about blissing out in the sun in Camperdown Memorial Rest Park, with a beer in hand, while your canine friend shows all the other pooches who’s boss. The line-up hasn’t been announced yet, but it’s always pretty kickarse – last year included Seekae, Deep Sea Arcade, The Crayon Fields & Barons of Tang; the writers
Thanks to ABC DVD, we have 5 bundles of lafter up for grabs, each containing a copy of the first seasons of Lowdown, and I Rock. I Rock is an eight-part dramedy that charts the path of struggling indie rock outfit Boy Crazy Stacey, with cameos including Tim Rogers, Laura Imbruglia, Cassette Kids, The Lovetones, Snob Scrilla, and Under Lights. Lowdown is an eight-part comedy series set in the world of celebrity and tabloid journalism, and co-written by AFI awardwinners Amanda Brotchie and Adam Zwar. Based loosely on events from his former career as a showbiz journalist, Zwar (Wilfred, Valentine’s Day) stars as Alex Burchill, the Lowdown gossip columnist for the Sunday Sun, who require him to pull a scandalous story out of his hat every week. To get one of each of these, tell us which hobbity Hollywood star is set to star in the US remake of Aussie comedy series Wilfred.
tent had biggies like Thomas Keneally and Alex Miller. Best of all, it’s raising money for the Newtown Neighbourhood Centre. Stay tuned! newtowncentre.org/festival
BRITISH LAFF GARAGE
Three of the UK’s finest stand-up comedians are hitting Sydney this week: Phil Butler, who the Guardian has dubbed “one of the most exciting and original finds in comedy in recent years”. Phil started out as a comedy magician, so he should have a few tricks up his sleave (har). Simon Blight is a regular at The London Comedy Store, not to mention his swag of British TV and radio credits; Scottish comedian and impressionist Geoff Boyz has worked in TV (Dead Ringers, Live At The Comedy Store), radio and theatre with his own shows, such as Why? Geoff Boyz. Check ‘em out July 15-17 @ the Laugh Garage (Cnr Park & Elizabeht Sts, CBD) thelaughgarage.com
© Trent Whitehead
The seventh Russian Resurrection film festival is gearing up for its Sydney season, from August 19 – September 1, at the Chauvel Cinema. Opening night sees the Russians poaching from the French book, with romantic comedy Man At the Window, from director Dmitry Meskhiev. Our comrades haven’t revealed the full line-up yet, but one of the highlights will be Andrei Kavun’s blockbuster Kandahar (2010), an action-drama set in 1995, based on the true story of a freightaircraft crew who were held hostage by the Taliban in Afghanistan for 378 days. There will also be a special session with Kavun, and his Australian special effects maestro Kent Miklenda, talking about how they put the pic together. For more details, head to www.russianresurrection.com
GETUP! CAMP OBAMA SOH SPRING DANCE
I ROCK + LOWDOWN
Not-for-profit politically-independent campaigning group GetUp! Are taking a page out of the Obama Campaign Book, and running a preelection camp for people interested in learning how to be part of a successful on-the-ground political campaign. Oliver MacColl writes: We’ve already seen in the lead-up to the federal election that we’re back to politics as usual: sound bites, spin doctors and media pundits ignoring real people and their stories. This is the opportunity to learn the secret weapon of the Obama campaign so we can work together in the key electorates of Wentworth and Bennelong to make a massive impact this election. The camp is July 24-25 @ UTS campus, and costs $30; places are limited, so if you’re interested, head to www.getup.org.au
The Qantas Spirit of Youth Awards (SOYA) has opened registrations to young achievers interested in boosting their career with a rare 12-month mentorship opportunity. This year’s mentors include industry leaders such as fashion
THINNEST OF BETWEENS
Next up at Monster Children Gallery is a solo exhibition by self-taught Sydney artist Trent Whitehead. Thinnest of Betweens includes Trent’s wondrous and often humorous paintings, and a selection of his distinctive masks, which have become a significant component of his artist practice. Opens July 22 @ Monster Children (20 Burton Street, Darlinghurst) trentwhitehead.com
gurus are Nicky and Simone Zimmermann, film industry icon Jan Chapman (!) visual arts curator Elizabeth Ann Macgregor, designer Marc Newson, visual communications guru Deanne Cheuk, and photographer Tony Mott. In addition, SOYA winners will receive financial support in the form of $5000 in cash and $5000 in flights from Qantas. Deadline is August 9, with all submissions to be made through the website - soya.com.au
You might remember Akos Armont from the Sydney Theatre Co. production of Spring Awakening, where the young triple-threat performer played the tortured (but charismatic) teenager Moritz. His latest endeavour is Lion Pie, a production company dedicated to fostering innovative works in the areas of film, television, new media and live performance. If we understand him correctly, it’s sort of like an incubator for talent, to connect local creatives and technicians with people who have money, a profile, industry knowhow, etc. Lion Pie launches officially on July 24 at FraserStudios, Chippendale – and will coincide with their inaugural Lab Initiative. Intriguing… more at www.lionpie.com
Your mind as the scene of the crime. By Alice Hart.
Reality-twisting visuals from Inception
hristopher Nolan is the thinking person’s James Cameron: arguably the most interesting filmmaker within the ‘event cinema’ echelon, thanks to Batman Begins and The Dark Knight; a filmmaker with a superlative grasp of the large-scale action genre, whose work is always powered by the darker corners of the human psyche. Nolan's seventh feature, Inception, is no exception. A large-scale project that spanned six countries across four continents, with incredible, reality-twisting visuals, Inception is nevertheless powered by an incredible idea, and one man’s emotional obsession. Leonardo DiCaprio stars as Dom Cobb, a man who specializes in the underground art of extraction - a cutting edge technique for entering someone
else’s subconscious mind and stealing valuable secrets. In the film, dreams that have been designed to look and feel completely real can be shared; Cobb’s team of ‘extractors’ create the levels, and their ‘mark’ fills it with his secrets. Their work in some ways reflects what the Nolan and his team do on set: creating a scene within an environment that will ultimately immerse an audience in another reality. “There are a lot of similarities between the way in which a filmmaker has to construct a reality for an audience and the way in which an architect has to build an environment for the people who are in it,” says the writer/director. “That’s a question that has often fascinated me, and in this film we try and explore that through the eyes of characters who aren’t literally architects as we know them,
but creators. They’re people who create an entire world for somebody else to exist in. I wanted to take an audience through the journey with the people creating and experiencing these kinds of worlds - to experience the depth and layered sets of realities that we can conceive of in our dreams.” The limitless possibilities inherent in thoughts and dreams have long fascinated Nolan. Inspired by the fiction of Argentinean writer Jorge Luis Borges and the concepts of alternate realities in science fiction, Nolan has been working on the story and screenplay for years, stowing it away to do other projects, then taking it out again to develop until he felt ready to make the film. “It creates a whole world and asks the audience to follow a very intricate set of rules for that world, so it has taken me a while to come to grips with the script,” the director says. “Also, I always knew I wanted to tell this story on a very large scale, and I’m in a position now to be able to do it on the scale that the story demands.” As a filmmaker, Nolan has forged new ground in merging a world of complex ideas with large-scale action, in films such as The Dark Knight, The Prestige and Batman Begins. With Inception, he brings the action into the landscapes created within the human mind. “The brain is capable of more than we will ever know,” Nolan explains. “What a mind can create is infinite. It can be on the grandest scale - as frightening or happy or exotic as any experience we can conceive of. I think over the years I’ve tried to write different versions of this idea - so we really pushed the boat out to try and bring a very grand scale vision to this. The potential of the human mind is infinite, and so a film exploring that felt to me to be the grandest scale form of entertainment.”
Director Christopher Nolan and Leonardo DiCaprio on the set of Inception Inception..
The director’s partner Emma Thomas, who has produced Nolan’s films since his earliest work, notes that while the scope of the movie is vast,
it’s also very personal to Nolan. “It has all the elements that I love about the other films that he’s made, but it’s very much his characters and a great, thrilling story,” she says. “I think all the things that have influenced him over the years have come into play here. The great thing about Chris is that from the beginning of his career in film, and now, he has always known exactly what he wants. When he gets on set, there’s never any doubt. He knows the end product that he’s after. And even on these very big films, I think the set feels like a smaller film. The approach is not as though it’s a big film where there’s action and special effects - he’s telling a story and he devotes the time to the actors and the performances. The set feels intimate.” In a film that plunges its characters into dreams, Nolan envisioned real environments that he could capture in-camera, rather than creating them using visual effects. “In Inception, we deal with different states of reality and different levels of dreaming,” he notes. “And it was very important to me that those levels feel as valid as each other, and feel as valid as reality; because when we are in a dream, it feels real to us. I wanted to put the audience in that same place, where the dream worlds would be as concrete and as important in the things going on in them, as vital as reality.” Regardless of the subject matter, Nolan’s approach to shooting action has always placed great importance on ‘authenticity’. “I am a great believer in getting out there on location and confronting an environment,” the director agrees, “because it brings so much to the credibility of the action. And, at the end of the day, I think it adds something to the feeling the audience has of being taken someplace they haven’t been before.” What: Inception, Dir. Chris Nolan When: Opens July 22
LISA MILLER: CAR TAPE 2 COMPETITION
isa Miller describes her vibe, somewhat intriguingly, as Tropical / Soul / Shoegaze – but listening to Car Tape 2 (out now through Other Tongues) we can understand why: this is the kind nd of road trip where you’re driving two-lane blacktop down the coast, with the roof off – or at least, with the window down, and a hefty dose of sunshine. It’s a lazy, downtempo drive, with a soundtrack that channels the best of Tim Hardin, Bert Jansch, Neil Young (who she has supported, incidentally), David Crosby, Ryan Adams, Curtis Mayfield, Francoise Hardy, and even Shirley Bassey. Although it was originally intended as just a bit of fun, the first Car Tape album released in 2002 – inspired by, and made in the spirit of, the quintessential car tape experience – is Lisa’s highest-selling record, and sat at the top of the Australian Independent Music Charts for close to a year. To see what the fuss is about, head along to Lisa’s Sydney pit-stop, this Friday July 16 at Notes, in Newtown. We have three double passes and three copies of Car Tape 2 up for grabs – to get your hands on one of each, email firstname.lastname@example.org with the name of one other Lisa Miller album. www.lisamiller.com.au
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The Waiting City [FILM] Calcutta’s slums unexpectedly provided the inspiration for Claire McCarthy’s second film. By Dee Jefferson
Claire’s trip to India couldn’t have come at a better time, pushing her work into what she describes as a stronger direction. “It was a new lease on life for me, because I had access to things I had never seen before, from a completely different vantage point.” This wasn’t just your average tourist trip, but a trip to one of the world’s most poverty-stricken areas. “Look, it was a family taunt,” Claire explains, “my mother was having this war of attrition with my sister, and she was saying ‘you’d never be able to survive outside this comfort-bubble of middle-class life that we provide for you.’” Feeling backed into a corner, her sister – just out of school – booked the tickets, and set her mind on volunteering with Mother Teresa’s nuns. Claire agreed to go along for the ride.
ive years ago, at a loose end between film jobs, AFTRS graduate Claire McCarthy decided to follow her younger sister Helena to India. This week, her second feature opens across Australia, starring Joel Edgerton and Radha Mitchell as a middle class couple who visit Calcutta to ‘pick up’ the baby they have waited two years to adopt. Infused into every frame of the film are the stories, people and experiences from that time Claire spent with her sister in Calcutta’s orphanages and slums.
“I’d always thought about going to India, but it wasn’t at the top of my list of things to do; I was thinking ‘oh, you know, things are going to fall into place with my career, I’m going to somehow (laughs) get a film up’ – but it didn’t seem to be happening. I think there’s a weird sense of entitlement that you have; you think ‘I’ve done all this study, I’ve done all this hard work, so I’m just gonna, like, fall into it’ – and it just doesn’t happen like that; you have to reply on a bit of luck, a pinch of optimism, and serendipity… all
Like a Fishbone
“I’d been shooting a lot of documentary stuff, and I had my own little camera kit,” the director explains. “I just thought it might be a good thing to have, for a family video; but then as we were going, things were so potent and powerful that I thought ‘wow, this is probably something we could make into a little film.’” Claire’s document of Helena’s gruelling emotional journey became the 52-minute documentary Sisters; it also sparked a narrative project that would (after numerous return research trips) become The Waiting
City. The director became fascinated by the Australian couples she met in Calcutta, who were there to adopt babies from Catholic orphanages. The focal point for the film is the weird, emotional stranglehold that the adoption process can take on a couple’s relationship. “Before [Sisters] I had made quite formal work – where it was very much about what was in the frame, and what the camera was doing; quite painterly; this was the first time where I was just kind of shooting something and allowing it to tell me what to do – rather than for me to try and control it. It was a sort of ‘moment’ for me – I realised ‘this is more about the emotional experience.’” At the same time, one of the most distinctive features of The Waiting City is how incredible it looks, from beautifully composed widescreen shots of Indian landscapes and cityscapes, to intimate close-ups – no small thanks to Claire’s collaboration with Denson Baker (The Black Balloon), her cinematographer and husband. “I think it’s a toughie to try and find that line [between naturalism and formalism]; it’s certainly been a juggle, and it took planning,” the director acknowledges with a smile. And perhaps a pinch of serendipity. What: The Waiting City When: Opens July 15.
Dirty Butterfly [THEATRE] Secret whispers, unseen violence and nosey neighbours. By Dee Jefferson
[THEATRE] An exploration of grief that’s close to the bone. By Nell Greco
et in a community stricken by a school massacre, Anthony Weigh’s new play explores the different ways we process tragedy, collectively and individually. Weigh’s battle of ideas is framed by an argument between an architect, who has been commissioned to design a memorial to the victims, and the mother of one of those victims: two women, both mothers, with very different life philosophies. “Before casting, I kind of themed it as a boxing match between two actors,” says director Tim Maddock, founder of Adelaide’s acclaimed independent theatre company Red Shed. “I was very aware that I needed to get two very powerful actors who could measure up to each other, and I’ve got that in Marta [Dusseldorp] and Anita [Hegh].” With this and his first full-length play, 2000 Feet Away, Australian-born actor and playwright Anthony Weigh seems intent on contributing to the social discourse on how communities grapple with difficult issues. 2000 Feet Away examined a freshly-minted American law designed to protect communities from
“The three [characters] riff, or rap, with each other – not rap in an African American way,” Blair clarifies, “but rap in the sense of, you know, it could be Chekhov, or Beckett – it’s quite musical; there’s a rhythm that the characters get into… it’s quite staccato, they’re continually talking to each other and continually rapping, and their thoughts change on the line – so it’s quite exhilarating to watch, when it’s really working.”
In terms of visually representing these ideas on stage, production designer Jacob Nash has heavily referenced Bill Viola's The Crossing (1996), a video installation of a person walking through a wall of water, in a theatrical enactment of the ‘passing over’ from life to death. Memorials have a similar connection to that notion of ‘passing over’, so Nash’s minimalist set incorporates this starkness and ambiguity, while also alluding to the architect’s office in which the play is set.
What: Like A Fishbone, by Anthony Weigh When: Opens July 20, previews from July 16. Where: Wharf 1, Sydney Theatre Company
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Tucker Green follows in a tradition of what British theatre theorist Alex Sierz dubbed ‘In-Yer-Face Theatre’ – brutal social realism from playwrights like Sarah Kane and Caryl Churchill (both of whom Tucker Green earmarks as influences); what makes Dirty Butterfly more than your average dose of dirty realism is the playwright’s way with language – both the native street slang she writes in, and the rhythms to which her characters speak.
Another related idea explored in Maddock’s production is ‘progress’, a concept heavily spruiked in popular culture and politics, which implies things must always improve. “The character The Architect, seems to be building a society based on progress,” says the director. “Within the circle of life, that doesn’t work very well. People love marble or steel, for example, things that will never decay; I feel like that’s a kind of denial of our own organic existence.”
Originally commissioned by Griffin Theatre Company, Like a Fishbone’s Australian debut is part of the Sydney Theatre Company’s Next Stage program, which sees the two theatre companies partner up for the second time in two years (following last year’s Concussion). In Maddock’s opinion the partnership is somewhat a function of idealism as well as pragmatism, encouraging the STC to foster new talent while allowing Griffin to achieve greater goals and exposure. “It’s good for everybody in the end – there’s nothing bad to be said about it.”
Anita Hegh & Marta Dusseldorp
Amelia and Jason – have different reactions to their neighbour Jo’s situation, and towards their own voyeurism, making this play a potent examination of our guilt and complicity when it comes to situations of domestic violence.
paedophiles; Like a Fishbone interrogates the role of religion, rationalism and compassion in our processing of death. “[It] asks questions of the audience rather than answers them,” says Maddock. “It’s written with a note of ambivalence, [so] the tension is that you identify differently with the characters at different times.” The director also admits that working on this production has opened his eyes to his own “lack of faith in rationalism, of being ‘right’ in an argument.”
Dirty Butterfly photo by Ingvar Kenne
these things have to happen, for it to work out for you.”
The play is divided into two sections; in the first, there’s a conversation between the three tenants; in the second, set in a local café, it’s just the two women. Tucker Green feeds the clues to us gradually, throughout the first act, in the exchanges between the characters. “Sometimes you don’t know what’s happening – which is great,” Blair explains, “but then in the second scene, a lot of the stuff that [the two women] riff about, you find out the truth about what’s actually happened to this woman.”
Sara Zwangobani, Zoe Houghton and Dorian Nkono
hen Debbie Tucker Green’s Stoning Mary premiered at Griffin in May 2008, director Lee Lewis described her as “one of the most exciting and important contemporary playwrights on the planet”; and yet in 2007, Alison Croggon, one of Australia’s most influential theatre critics, hadn’t yet heard of the British-Jamaican playwright. Two years later, Green’s powerful debut, Dirty Butterfly, is premiering at B Sharp, with director Wayne Blair at the helm. Blair discovered the play through Viva Bianca, his co-partner in the Flour Sugar Tea-Tales production company. “I was going to do another show for this season, but I just kept coming back to Dirty Butterfly, because of the way it’s written, and what it’s about,” Blair explains. “You read it, and you know it’s good, but you just don’t know why it’s good; and then you start wanting more…” Written as a three hander, to be performed ‘in the round’ (the audience surrounding the stage), Dirty Butterfly is essentially about two tenants who become caught up in eavesdropping on their mutual neighbour. It starts innocuously, but as the play unfolds we discover what has happened to this woman. The two tenants –
With Dirty Butterfly, Blair returns to downstairs B Sharp, where he received huge acclaim for his sell-out season of Ruben Guthrie, in 2008. Since then the actor/director has mounted a production of David Williamson’s The Removalists for Sydney Theatre Company (2009) and re-mounted Guthrie for Belvoir's mainstage, starring Toby Schmitz. Next up, Blair will appear opposite Brendan Cowell in Philip Seymour Hoffman’s production of Sam Shepard’s True West, for STC. What: Dirty Butterfly, by Debbie Tucker Green; Dir. Wayne Blair When: Runs until August 1. Where: Belvoir St Downstairs
Like A Fishbone photo by Grant Sparkes-Carroll
Claire McCarthy & Radha Mitchell on set .
MACQUARIE GROUP, RIVERSIDE THEATRES AND THE ALEX BUZO COMPANY PRESENT
DIRECTED BY WAYNE HARRISON
A visionary leader. A city obsessed with land, politics, and power. The daring retelling of an Australian classic.
CNR CHURCH & MARKET STS PARRAMATTA
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Film & Theatre Reviews
At the heart of the arts Where you went last week.
What's hot on the silver screen and the bareboards around town.
PICS :: TL
Released July 8
01:07:10 :: Urban Uprising :: 314 Crown St Darlinghurst 93316614
Those looking for an old-school action fix among the generic cacophony of this year’s blockbusters would do well to seek out this enjoyable throwback to 80s action movies.
pick me up
PICS :: TL
In the opening frames, Adrien Brody awakens to find himself in a free-fall. Presumably pushed out of a plane, he thumps into the jungle below, which looks like a mix of the Amazon and Skull Island from King Kong. In the undergrowth he finds seven others who fulfil the usual monster movie criteria: the woman, the beefcake, the black man, the convict, the nerd, the Bushido warrior and the Mexican. Most are trained mercenaries, and all seem afflicted with amnesia. Where are they? Who put them here, and why?
01:07:10 :: Monster Children Gallery :: 20 Burton St Surry Hills 93322040
Predators sticks closely to that formula, but the characters are easily distinguishable and the actors play well to their archetypes. Alice Braga is solid as a tough sniperrifle-wielding chick, and Louis Ozawa Changchien is amusingly stoic as the suited Hanzo, whose first act after dropping into the jungle is to remove his muddied shoes. Brody fought for the lead role, and it shows. Buffed-up he’s believable as the aloof, makeshift leader of the team, and though there’s few surprises as to who will live and who will die, director Nimod Antal handles it all with classical assurance. It’s this old-fashioned men-in-suit aesthetic that is Predators' greatest asset.
PICS :: KL
bacardi express exhibition 30:06:10 :: Doctor Pong :: 1 Burton St Darlinghurst 93323565
Arts Exposed 17
KNIGHT AND DAY
UNDERBELLY ARTS: Festival 2-10pm / Chippendale Arts Precinct: Kensington St & surrounds. Tickets: $18/22 + bf Meet the new guard of Sydney’s performance scene, brought to you by the third Underbelly Arts: Public Lab + Festival (July 8-17) – a fringe-y, artsy, hands-on festival that invites the public backstage to be part of the creative process. Previous Underbellies have been creative hotbeds for groups like Bambina Borracha, Pig Island and Token Imagination; this year’s line-up includes angryPixel, Applespiel, Reef Knot, I Can Draw You A Picture, FBi’s All The Best show, Synarcade, Thomas Keily & Bravo Child…
Saturday July 17 is the festival finale for Underbelly, and the culmination of ten days of intensive workshopping by the hundred-or-so artists involved. Performances, screenings and exhibitions will take place in and around the Clare Hotel, FraserStudios, Kensington Street - and surprise pop-up venues (revealed on the day!) So rug up, step out, get down to Underbelly... For all the details, head to underbellyarts.com.au 28 :: BRAG :: 370 :: 12:07:10
The story is based on a script written by producer Robert Rodriguez back in 1994, and is not a reboot but a sequel. The title clearly evokes Aliens, an influence that informs visual and music cues and a creepy sequence inside a downed spacecraft. But the Predator franchise was always a lesssophisticated version of that seminal series. Predators does nothing to change that, but it’s still an enjoyable, well made sci-fi romp. Joshua Blackman
What's on our calendar...
Those familiar with Arnie’s 1987 Predator and its ho-hum sequel will know the answer must involve the titular creature, the grotesque and heavily armed monster that spends much of its time lurking in the foliage behind an invisibility cloak. They’d also know that one by one, characters will be gruesomely killed after an excessive expenditure of bullets.
Released July 15 Tom Cruise’s attempt to regain public favour has failed, but not due to his performance in, or the merits of, his latest project. In this ungainly mess of an action comedy that wants to be a low rent North by Northwest or Romancing the Stone (but isn’t), his super-confident wisecracking spy is the greatest asset. As in his previous two films, the relative box office flops of Lions for Lambs and Valkyrie, Cruise still has an enjoyable screen presence, and here he has fun lampooning his action hero persona. It hasn’t worked for American audiences: Knight and Day only managed $20m in an opening weekend dominated by Toy Story 3 - and only half that of the Adam Sandler comedy, Grown Ups. The general perception is that Cruise has still jumped the couch. It’s a shame, really, because James
Mangold is a director of considerable chops (see Walk the Line or his gripping 3:10 to Yuma remake), and Cruise and Cameron Diaz have an entertaining chemistry. Diaz plays June Havens, a fish out of water who’s suckered into Cruise’s globetrotting spy machinations. They hop from Boston, to Spain, to secluded tropical islands chasing a MacGuffin called the Zephyr, which is the size of a D-cell battery but can power a small city. On their tail is an unusually bland Peter Sarsgaard, who plays a CIA agent and sports a crew cut and expanded waistline since his role in An Education. Before settling in to its haphazard worldtrotting rhythm, there’s an impressive aircraft-bound action scene followed by an amusing sequence featuring Marc Blucas as a well-to-do fireman. Diaz, all cheekbones, is alternately endearing and frustrating as the ditzy girl-next-door sidekick, but she does have a knack of comedy, and her latterly truth-seruminduced brand of loopy is amusing. By then, however, the plot’s become a confusing mess, and a motorcycle chase during the running of the bulls features blue-screen work so bad you wonder if it’s intentional. It, like the rest of the film, is absurd. Which, you have to admit, is kind of the point. Joshua Blackman ■ Theatre
LONG DAY’S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT Until August 1 @ Sydney Theatre As an entertainment, Long Day’s Journey into Night is a sombre prospect, offering up one day of unrelenting disappointment in the lives of a family where two men are irredeemably alcoholic, the third is potentially dying of consumption, and the mother is a dope fiend. As a piece of theatre, however, this production is probably as good as it gets: one of the masterworks of the dramatic canon, by one of America’s preeminent playwrights, starring Academy Award-winner William Hurt, former STC-Artistic Director Robyn Nevin, and directed by current STC Artistic co-Director Andrew Upton. Upton’s direction extrapolates the maximum amount of humanity from Eugene O’Neill’s script, to paint the Tyrone family as four people who are doing their very best to have a good day, despite overwhelming odds; four people whose capacity for love and forgiveness is engaged in a mighty struggle with their bitter disappointments, and deeply embedded anxieties. In this sense, Upton is true to O’Neill’s intention, when writing this autobiographical reflection on his family: forgiveness. This production benefits from an effective staging device, in which the set, comprised of a series of contiguous proscenia, slowly expands, or pulls apart, over the course of the play: what starts as an intimate living room, expands to expose ‘cracks’ between each piece of the set-puzzle, through which we can clearly see off stage into the wings - underscoring the ‘artifice’ of the production. At the same time, over the course of the play, sound and musical elements creep in, at first subtle, and then more obvious. The final piece of the puzzle is the performances, which evolve in proportion to the set and sound design, from constrained, ‘actorly’ performances to the wild, emotional excess of the last act; what starts in the Shakespearian territory of ‘Papa’ Tyrone, finishes in the dirty realism to which Edmund (the playwright’s barely-concealed alter ego) subscribes. The four key cast commit 110% to the transformation their characters undergo; for me, Nevin’s performance was the most striking, for pulling of a painfully realistic rendition of the foggy depths of addiction. Dee Jefferson
See www.thebrag.com for more arts reviews
DVD Reviews What's been on our TV screens this week And the Academy Award for Best Actor goes to...
KISS OF THE SPIDER WOMAN Umbrella Entertainment Released May 12
Despite appearances, this groundbreaking independent film has nothing to do with horror. Set in a jail cell somewhere in fascist South America, Kiss of the Spider Woman follows the slow blooming of an unlikely friendship between communist dissident Valentin (Raul Julia) and ageing homosexual Molina (William Hurt). As producer David Weisman says in one of the ‘making of’ featurettes in this Special Edition: “a fag and a commie in a jail cell – which one do you hate more?” In the 80s, just the idea of making a movie on this subject was insane. Nevertheless, Kiss of the Spider Woman was a labour of love that brought together a number of high profile Hollywood players, to create a very unusual film about ‘what it means to be a man’. The driving force was Weisman, who met Argentine novelist Manuel Puig while revisiting his old stomping ground of Rio, Brazil. He’d read some of Puig’s works, but the author urged him to read Kiss of the Spider Woman – the work that was closest to his heart. At the same time, Argentine director Hector Babenco was courting Puig assiduously for the film rights. In a stroke of pure luck, Weisman and Babenco met – and the rest, as they say, is history. How the casting of the ‘queen’ role went from Burt Lancaster (!) to Hurt (who ended up winning an Academy Award for the performance) is part of the fun of the jampacked extras disc. The other interesting through-line of the special features is the idea that KOSM gave birth to the concept of the ‘Independent Film’ in Hollywood – way before Miramax turned it into a profitable genre.
Fox Home Entertainment Released July 21 Somehow, Crazy Heart reminds me of The Wrestler – a story about a burnt-out legend suffering the indignities of old age without a nest egg, and forced to schlep around to tiny gigs, dreaming of one last hurrah. Of course, the washed-up alcoholic rockstar is hardly a novel film premise. What makes this one stand out is Jeff Bridges, who (in his Academy Award-winning performance) is likeable and charismatic enough that you’ll watch him surf the down-and-out for a couple of hours, no questions asked. You may even buy the idea that a sweet young thing like Maggie Gyllenhaal would not only strike up a romance with him, but put up with his seriously boozedup and battered carcass in bed… Bridges is Bad Blake, a country music star who has seen better days, but still has a rabidly loyal fan base in the South, thanks to his undeniable talent. Alcohol has been his downfall; now he’s reduced to driving 300-mile stints between small-town bowling alley gigs, with only a bottle of McLure’s (and the odd one-night stand) to keep him warm. Meanwhile his young protégé, Tommy Sweet (a slightly creepy looking Colin Farrell, with a ponytail and earring) has hit the big time – and is offering Blake one last hurrah, as his songwriter. Blake struggles towards sobriety and a career comeback, and perhaps the hardest slog of all: risking his heart one more time. It's feelgood stuff, without necessarily taking the route you’d expect. Some of the best bits are watching Bridges and Robert Duvall (as his long-time buddy) riffing of each other. Dee Jefferson
Street Level With trapeze artist Tana Karo
ana Karo – aka Tank – has traversed the world from hometown Pittsburgh to Melbourne, where she now lives; she’s traversed the performance landscape, from classical ballet as a kid, to aerial trapeze and fire eating; and now she’s making the trek northwards, to perform at her first ever Black Cherry – Sydney’s home for burlesque, bands and beats. She’s in good company, with Sydney's burlesque bombshells Lauren LaRouge and Briana Bluebell, and a live line-up that includes The Snowdroppers and The Rumjacks. From classical ballet to aerial trapeze: how did that happen? I trained as a classical dancer throughout middle and high school, but moved to Chicago, where I studied costume design for four years. I kept up the dancing on the side, and eventually got accepted into an aerial dance company, where I was trained in trapeze, silks, and partner aerials. I had so much fun with it, I decided to run away and do it for a living!!
eating burlesque. My fire eating is unique to date, since I not only eat and swallow fire, but I also burn my clothing off gradually. I have yet to see anything else like it! Dance trapeze is the kind of trapeze I learned initially in Chicago, and there are very few doing it anywhere else in the world. It is a spinning single point trapeze style that merges dance and physical skill. I have a lot of fun with it! Black Cherry virgin, or pro? It is my first… so I guess I’ll be popping my black cherry! Haha. I was contacted by the club to do a spot, and was lucky enough to be able to come along and do it! A few friends of mine have headlined at Black Cherry, like Kelly Ann Doll, so I’m happy to be a part of the club’s awesome performance history! Tell us about your tatts! The back tattoo was done all in one MEGAtattoo session while I visited Osaka, Japan. It took eight straight hours! But my arm I had done in Melbourne, at Dynamic Tattoo, over five or six sessions, which was much more reasonable but no less painful!
From Pittsburgh to Australia – what brought you to Melbourne to live? As hometowns go, Pittsburgh was a fairly fun city to grow up in, but I eventually outgrew it after 18 years. When I moved I made sure it was to a city that had a lot to offer, which was definitely Chicago! After I finished my bachelors degree in Costume Design, I shipped straight off to New Zealand, where I studied circus for a year in Christchurch. The next year I was accepted into NICA in Melbourne, so off I went!
What else are you up to for 2010? In Melbourne, Gorelesque II, some spots at Red Bennies, possibly another trip to America, and in October, another cruise liner for 6 weeks. I’ll also be partnering up with some very talented performers to make some new work, which I’m very excited about!
Which of your ‘signature’ acts are you performing at Black Cherry? I’ll be performing dance trapeze and fire
More: blackcherrypresents.com.au / factorytheatre.com.au
What: Black Cherry When: Saturday July 24, from 8pm Where: Factory Theatre, Enmore
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Album Reviews What's been crossing our ears this week...
ALBUM OF THE WEEK PVT Church With No Magic Warp Records When Church With No Magic opens with the rising and swelling waves and pulses of ‘Community,’ you could be mistaken for thinking you might be in for O Soundtrack My Heart II - but this is a different beast altogether. PVT have removed some vowels, added some vocals and moved towards a world of melody and riffs, all without losing their way.
Church With No Magic is an echo chamber full of superstition that’ll reverberate right through your sceptical conscience, and make you believe.
The bass is low and primal, the vocals are crisp and confident, the drums are outrageously perfect – you wont want to compress this baby, and you have to listen to it loud. In ‘Light Up Bright Fires’ you’ll hear Richard Pike singing lyrics for the first time since the 'aaaahhs' of Soundtrack’s ‘Sing, You Sinners’ – but he’s patient here, he’s not showing off. PVT’s understanding of space and pause is integral to the success of their melodies and riffs. Richard’s vocals are neither overkill, nor are they ornamental.
PEARLY GATE MUSIC
Zach Tillman is the brother of Fleet Foxes’ Josh Tillman, and this is the debut record for his nom de plume – Pearly Gate Music. After opening with an ethereal hum, first track ‘Golden Funeral’ introduces us to Zach’s voice: hypnotic, emotive, compelling. Apparently about sadness and childhood, the song is a Trojan Horse - just when you think you’ll be teetering on the edge of ennui forevermore, along comes ‘Big Escape’. Lo-fi chunky drums and hear-thestrings strumming evoking a type of joy-filled social subservience not heard since the beginnings of surfer rock. From there, we’re taken along with the story - maybe unsure of plot or character, but dead certain of the varied moods. Tillman is the troubadour that indie-folk, all too comfortable in its incestuous hipness, has needed for a while now: he’s disarming, eccentric and unexpected. But the album’s multiple moods can at times be frustrating. It’s hard to tell if this is simply due to a bad track order, or if Tillman is trying to challenge the notion of a consistent album. I’d like to think it’s the latter. ‘Gossamer Hair’, roughly half way through the album, contains a sudden ejaculation of fantastic drumming that is swiftly tucked away and never heard from again, allowing dulcet harmonies and subtlety to dominate the song once more. This is followed by the melancholic and simple ‘If I Was A River’, leading the way into the album’s cathartic third act - and, I’ll say it, it's an anti-climax. But nostalgia dominates throughout, in the space created by sparse arrangements and his ever-present, cognisant voice. Tillman has emptied himself into Pearly Gate Music, and the result is occasionally inconsistent, but mostly affecting.
The beauty of the second album from San Diego’s Delta Spirit lies in its ability to wear its alt-country influences on its sleeve - without ever feeling derivative or trying to shake-off its essential Californian-ness. It owes equal debts to the familiar structures of Alan Lomax’s field recordings, Tom Waits’ and The Walkmen’s gothic Americana, Dylan’s wry humour and Californian winters. Gone are most of the louche, Stonesy numbers from their astonishing debut Ode To Sunshine, in favour of fingerpicked guitar and songs that manage to feel both fresh and as wornin as the jeans you can’t throw out. Much of this is due to the production – analogue recordings, sparsely textured, with Brandon Young’s warm, sophisticated drumming mixed high like a real instrument, with wisely restrained evocative sounds like muted trumpets, ragged choirs, theremin, mariachi ululations. These elements rise briefly out of the mix to catch your breath in your chest, lighting up a new corner of the song before they fade or cut out just as quickly, like the sun going back behind a cloud. Matthew Vasquez’s voice echoes Rod Stewart; not necessarily in timbre, but in his skill at moving from a battered lullaby croon (‘Vivian’) to soaring, desperate catharsis (‘Bushwick Blues’). It’s never overbearing or overwrought – Vasquez’s lyrics deal with fundamental themes of love, death, restlessness, but they do so with grace and spirit. It’s complex but not complicated, and shows that the “country” influence Delta Spirit have picked up on the fourteen national tours of their short life is more about timeless essentialism than trying to fake a red neck and Dixie twang. So good that it made me stop pining for a new Ryan Adams record.
Where O Soundtrack extended tracks into heavy, dense epics, Church is a more melodic and moody creature. The influence of mainstream electro on PVT’s work is evident in their soaring melodies, the tightness in their structure and an abstract, symbolic, yet moving lyricism. “Only the wind can hear you” sings Richard, over a deep breathing wash of synthesisers and heartbeating drum, his final note echoing with a Thom Yorkelike fragility. Amelia Schmidt
History From Below Dew Process
Pearly Gate Music Bella Union
The familiar Vangelis-sounding synth tone weaves through the whole album. Hear it pulsate through ‘The Quick Mile’ in all of its pitch-wavering glory. Close your eyes in ‘Waves And Radiation’ and you might find yourself inside physics itself. The album climaxes at ‘Window’, their obvious single – an explosive feat of polyrhythms that drives on like a soundtrack for Fritz Lang’s Metropolis.
Night Work Universal An ex-girlfriend from five years back introduced me to Scissor Sisters for the first time. She loved ‘Laura’, was turned on by ‘Filthy/ Gorgeous’ (although there were very few people who weren’t), and like me, she was born into an era when disco was a distant memory. The Scissor Sisters’ genre of choice has often been derided as the worst form of music alive; white people trying to be black, dance music trying to be funky, mirrorballs over substance etc. But whatever you may think about disco, its origins and its influence, there’s one thing it happened to offer extremely frequently; anthems. Some of the best anthems in the world are disco songs, whether they be Elton or Bee Gees or even the Village People. Having facilitated a disco revival when nobody thought it would fly, Jake Shears and his band of misfits now find themselves at the crest of a second wave which crashed for many in the late-70s. They’re finally in a position to craft their own anthems for a new generation of sexually curious kids, and with Night Work, they’ve pretty much done it. Aside from being almost too camp to function, this record is a wonderful collection of really strong songs. ‘Any Which Way’, ‘Fire With Fire’ and the hilariously OTT ‘Running Out’ all provide some of the best fun your ears will have this year. No wonder Kylie Minogue is such a fan. With flair and wit, Scissor Sisters essentially do her job for her. Scissor Sisters; an R-Rated Austin Powers spin-off based exclusively at Studio 54. Jonno Seidler
DIRTY PROJECTORS & BJORK Mount Wittenberg Orca Self-Released Dave Longstreth is a talented guitar player, but not a particularly fashionable one. When his enthusiastic noodling overshoots the bowl by a couple of yards, it’s like he secretly wishes he was born 40 years earlier so he could’ve played in Yes. Even at their goofiest, though, Dirty Projectors are a remarkable band. Their inventive use of female vocals — harmonising, offsetting, arpeggiating — keep Longstreth’s ideas within due bounds. This use of vocals as a wily contextual device is probably what roused Björk’s curiosity in the band. The two acts debuted their collaboration at a live benefit in early 2009, with the performance of a piece written by Longstreth for five voices and a guitar. Mount Wittenberg Orca is the final recording, available online with all proceeds going to the National Geographic Society. The piece was written quickly, and it sounds here as though it was performed mostly live — the vocalists seem to be singing directly to one another. If you close your eyes, it’s not difficult to imagine yourself sitting on the floor of the studio wallowing in the magic as it happens. The EP encompasses upbeat love-struck pop, moody medleys and bizarre harmonic inversions. It’s nowhere near as dense as Bitte Orca or Volta, but it’s also not as simple as it first seems, rewarding multiple listens generously. It’s best not to describe it too much and it’s also best not to scrutinise too closely - out of necessity, the recording is charmingly off the cuff. But when the results are as beautiful as ‘No Embrace’, or as stunning as the tender climax of ‘All We Are’, who cares how paired down or informal it feels?
Daily Meds EP Big Village Ross Howat’s beats and production are so damn slick and funky I was hooked from the opening bars. Match that with the inimitable flow of MCs Mikoen and P.Smurf, and the smooth rhymes and vocals of Billie Rose, and what you have is a seriously infectious debut release from this new Sydney crew. Although it’s exciting, this EP is by no means perfect. There are a few moments here and there where you’re sort of left cringing. Certain vocal hooks are a bit cheesey and some of the slower, more serious songs seem out of place considering the sense of humour that runs through the rest. For instance, the second track ‘No Time Left’ lyrically deals with issues like social injustice and the seemingly inevitable downward trajectory of society – but it’s all kind of undermined by clichéd reggae beats and a bit of a kitschy chorus. But the verses on the song are still great; there aren’t many moments on the EP where the MCs fail in that regard. The real strength comes from the sheer variety of influences that are spread across the release. From the jazz-infused beats of ‘Everybody Get Pumped’ and ‘Final Outcome’, to the spaghetti western tones of ‘Live Or Recorded’ or the west coast synths of ‘War Machine’, Daily Meds use this EP almost like a sampler of where they could go in the future. Packed full of potential, this debut demonstrates genuinely great talent, suffering only from a few questions of taste. I haven’t enjoyed a local hip hop release as much as this for a while. Mikey Carr
You really have to listen to this.
INDIE ALBUM OF THE WEEK
Wondering what the 'experts' listen to? Here's the music that drives The Brag... for this week, anyway.
Magnolia Manor EP Independent
The debut release from Sydney shoegaze/ psychedelic band the Driftwood Drones opens with caramel echoing bass and guitar, on ‘Flying Colours’. It’s soft and mellow like warm orange sunshine, you drift off and it’s summer again. You’re floating, and then some rough, fuzzy distorted guitar washes over you before the vocals land, cool and reverby, melodic and pretty. Like you’re
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spinning around in circles in slow motion. It runs for over seven minutes, which is brave for track one of your first EP – but it’s worth it. It works. This is what the whole release is like – kaleidoscopes and cloudbusting and fireworks and time-lapse photography. It’s not all one big fuzz-ball, either; the textures and layers are varied, emotive and mature. Layers of distortion are removed, and climaxes build up and then explode again. The second track ‘Serenade’ sounds like it’s been recorded inside a spaceship. The shoegaze tradition of repeating riffs works like
a hypnotic charm. The vocals come raining down in a reverberating choir of harmonies. In ‘Pennies’, you can hear a Zeppelin-style bassline unassumingly wandering around underneath a simple but heart-warming revolving chord/major chord pattern. I hope more of this 70s-inspired dream music happens in Australia. Bands like The Laurels and Tame Impala and the Driftwood Drones make music and put on magical shows that more people need to know about - because it’s music for a stressed world. Sure it's anachronistic, and it might be derivative, but it's music that relaxes you. Music for swaying to. Scarlett Small
WALTER GIBBONS - Jungle Music BEIRUT - Gulag Orkestar JURASSIC 5 - Quality Control
OKKERVIL RIVER - Black Sheep Boy RADIOHEAD - The Bends
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Vinyl Record Review
By Jacob Stone
SINGLE OF THE WEEK
Congratulations [180g gatefold 2xLP] Columbia
This US singer-songwriter’s sunny, caffeinated take on indie psych-pop is upbeat and accessible, but it’s got real heart. Love’s first bloom is phrased with abstract charm – “You and I buy star maps and drive my car around Los Angeles. You and I buy star maps, and ding dong ditch a televangelist”. It’s whimsy personified; a bit ironic and almost Japanese-kitsch, and yet somehow earnestly plainspoken. His voice is light and simple, and matches the brittle guitar tones and oddball balance of electronic and acoustic sounds that form the foundation of the tune; if Beck and The Strokes got together, it might sound a bit like this. The claps and muted guitar arpeggio driving the song are simple devices brilliantly utilised, and Deez’s creativity and heart make this a breath of fresh air. Might be a little long, but he’s young...
This record came out a few months back, but was too hastily cast aside as a practical joke, a perversely unlistenable kick against success, a transparent cry of indie-cred from a band who had long lost control of how they are perceived… It’s worth a second look-in, this time on vinyl.
!!! (CHK CHK CHK)
BAND OF HORSES
EAGLE & THE WORM
All I Know
This off-kilter North American folk and kraut rock combo couldn’t be weirder and more modern if they tried. Woody acoustic guitar figures cascade past pitch-adjusted vocals and complex syncopated backing. About a minute and a half in, choral horns swell out of nowhere to close a reverent, beguiling listen. It sacrifices nothing to the trends of modern pop, utilizing powerful home production techniques and warm natural sounds to warp and bend traditional folk into strange new shapes. It’s impossible to review something this singular other than to say if you like this kind of thing, you’ll love this track. Applications open to fans of art-rock...
Like many, I’ve really enjoyed Australian singer/songwriter Ngaiire’s fractured take on soul and RnB - but this is more rock and roll than what we’ve come to expect. At least it kicks along like that until about two minutes in, at which point the amplified band melts away to reveal a squeaky jazz/dub/calypso arrangement that would have suited this song better from the outset. The glassy effects and production quirk of the outro are better suited to Ngaiire’s confident vocals than a live rock setting, and this leaves me wanting a more adventurous, hooky song from this exciting and creative young singer...
After the horrific accidental death of their drummer Jerry Fuchs, this loose, druginfluenced Californian dance/ punk outfit bring the funk again. My conclusion is, you can’t kill them. A typically thick slab of arpeggiated keyboard funk forms the basis of the verse, with tuned percussion and shakers firing over a shimmering wall of synth. Vocalist Nic Offer brings his sneering brand of spoken word, shamanic cool, and the only thing that lets this down is the chorus, which barely exists. Unfortunately, the chorus is a make or break scenario...
The new side of alt-country/ indie act Band Of Horses sees singer Ben Bridwell drop some of the indie vagueries that made the band nicely elusive in the past, in favour of traditional alt-rock muscle. The result is a great deal more accessible - more like Wilco and My Morning Jacket than the weightless resonance of earlier tunes ‘Is There A Ghost’ or ‘Funeral’. It’s as if Birdwell cashed in his spooky soul for something more generic, but thankfully didn’t skimp on the song-writing. The upshot is that we get to hear his glass-clear head voice gleaming like a searchlight off the surface of slick alt-country rock, and that ain’t bad at all. But it has been done.
Gut-bucket blues meets 50s rock and roll, before suddenly swerving off into Mariachi horns and loose vocals from this Melbourne party band. Despite cheap production and a lack of distinction in the writing, there’s something to the sloppy aesthetic captured in this recording. It IS fun and genuinely wild - it sounds like you’d have a great time dancing to them, and there’s some nice moments of production spark amidst the archcornball antics. The B-side is a cover of Tom Jones’ ‘It’s Not Unusual’… Need I say more? Unpretentious fun with flashes of real potential.
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There is a definite statement at play here, but a listen to the latter half of their 'debut' album Oracular Spectacular (and the entirety of their actual debut, 2005’s Climbing To New Lows) will show that Congratulations is not the drastic musical about-turn that many have claimed. In fact it’s not even necessarily ‘weirder’ than Congrats. First single ‘Flash Delirium’ may seem like a knee-jerk reaction, but it’s just a slow burner; a weird mash of sound, sure, but hardly difficult listening. The prog plod of ‘Siberan Breaks’ seems an exercise in excess, but it’s basically a series of mid-toslow tempo songs pasted together. Elsewhere songs swerve and shift tempos, time signatures and eschew standard structure, but this is still a great pop record, crammed with hooks and overflowing with ideas. Sonically, the album benefits hugely from the warmth of vinyl. The splitting of the track-list into four sides makes sense, and helps the album breathe. This edition also comes with a scratch off cover and a commemorative coin to do the scratching – which reveals a picture collage, and rather ruins the artwork. But I feel I may have missed the point… Nathan Jolly
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We Are Volcanoes
WE ARE VOLCANOES
Meet Tim, Dean and Yavok, the three boys, nay men, from local band We Are Volcanoes - soon to be erupting into Sydneyâ€™s independent music scene. TMC had the pleasure of speaking with the band this week and having enjoyed it so much, thought to share the fun with all of you. Got a sibling? Then start a band. It seems that family is often the most convenient and worthwhile place to begin. We Are Volcanoes began in the family home of brothers Tim and Dean, and extended on to fellow school chum Yavok. It all starts with a name, and for these young boys itâ€™s We Are Volcanoes. Is this name based on fiction? Or are they all actually volcanoes? Lead vocalist, Tim explains, â€œWe Are Volcanoesâ€Ś it was simply better than our original choice, The Three Erupting Mountain Tops. Some people describe us as a violent eruption of fiery embers and earth, so yes, we are. The name is basically describing the emotional nature of mankind; we are unpredictable and dangerous things.â€? If we go by what Dean says, their sound is â€œelectric, isometric and concentricâ€?. Yet Yavok will tell you they sound like â€œalternative sexy robotsâ€?. Ask Tim and he will give you a completely different answer altogether, which as well as reflecting the eccentric personalities within this dynamic trio, suggests that like most bands, these guys don't like to be boxed into one musical category. Perhaps a way to better understand their music is to look at the band's influences and inspirations, which Tim notes as being â€œthose trying to push the barriers and bring something new, technically brilliant and complex - yet enjoyably accessible.â€?
While they still have many goals they wish to achieve as a young emerging band, thereâ€™s no denying that they've grown since their inception. They explain, â€œour music started with a mish-mash of ideas similar to a Christian boyâ€™s wedding night - but after a year and a bit of being married we've found out how everything works. Now we're finding a solid direction, with the new material being produced always outclassing our last effort.â€? Blackened They Rise
Slowly climbing up the musical ladder, the band played at FBiâ€™s Sydney Sounds Like all ages event â€˜Choose Your Own Adventureâ€™ last weekend. It was their biggest set yet, playing alongside artists like Cloud Control, The Jezebels, The Holidays and Laurenz Pike. On playing at this gig, We Are Volcanoes admit, â€œWe feel privileged and slightly aroused, we were not expecting to land a show of this size at all. How it all works is beyond us.â€? They marked it as a great opportunity to â€œrub shoulders with the pros while also supporting Sydneyâ€™s most cherished FM icon FBi.â€? Not only did the eventâ€™s stellar line up showcase some of Sydneyâ€™s best talent, it was also raising funds for Sydneyâ€™s beloved radio station. â€œBefore we knew FBi existed we would have said having our songs played on the radio was next to impossible,â€? Tim says. â€œMySpace is good, but getting played on air is exposure that would not be achievable without FBi. Community radio is a stepping-stone for emerging bands, creating a place for artists to be discovered by labels and other musical powers. FBi is the epicentre of musical discovery.â€? If you missed this event fret not. The bandâ€™s immediate goals are to record an EP professionally at the start of next year, get signed to the biggest label on the planet and die very happy men, so youâ€™ll be seeing more them in the very near futureâ€Ś If intrigued by their minds and their music, you can view the full interview from them on indent.net.au.
THE OCEAN THE SKY
The Australian talent continues with Sydney post-hardcore/metal band The Ocean The Sky, whoâ€™ll be working the stage at â€˜Live At The Wallâ€™ at the Bald Faced Stag on Parramatta Rd, Leichhardt this Thursday July 15. Theyâ€™ve been working hard recording their debut album Seasons, which was released earlier on this week. The new album will be available at shows, on iTunes and pre-ordered directly from the band.
BLACKENED THEY RISE
If you enjoy yourself there, then chances are youâ€™ll enjoy My Hollowed Fantasy, Blackened They Rise, Tear Down the Skies, Burnt At the Stake playing at The Basement Karaoke Bar & Filipino Restaurant in Blacktown on Saturday July 17. Despite being fairly new to the music game, having formed only in 2009, Blackened They Rise were quick to transition from an amateur hardcore band to serious musicians, tightening their game and knuckling down to create their demo which is currently being edited. You donâ€™t want to miss out on the nightâ€™s festivities, so go ahead and book yourself a spot. And in the words of Blackened They Rise, "keep it brutal."
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