Archive for the ‘Australia’ Category
Young And Restless probably have at least one claim to fame: they’re the only band I’ve ever heard of to come from Canberra. Okay, apparently they’ve buggered off to Melbourne, but I suppose that’s what you gotta do these days. Seems a shame, but then there seems to be a lack venus or support for bands here. But Young And Restless have managed to make a name for themselves in Australia and I think they might be able to do something internationally.
They’ve got a fierce punk rock sound and a great vocalist in Jakarta-born vocalist Karina Utomo. She seems to be the first thing you’d notice about the band. The comparisons between her and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs Karen O will be plentiful, but if anything Karina is a more varied vocalist. She oscillates between a blistering screech and breathy, lustful vocals. The band themselves are tight and heavy: on songs like “Kapow!” they sound danceable but intense at the same time. A track like “Satan” is just agression throughout.
Obviously the single “Police, Police”, with it’s slender groove, will be the most talked about, but “No Vibe, No Strobe” and “Black” are quality cuts too. Hopefully Young And Restless can add some variety and texture for their next album, but this is a breathless listen. Cramming 12 tracks into 33 minutes means there’s hardly any time wasted. It’s full on all the time.
Young And Restless – Police! Police! (live):
Adelaide’s Wolf & Cub come on like the bastard sons of Kyuss, Mogwai and the almighty Zepp. The band’s got two drummers for crying out loud, so you know bombast is the order of the day. They’ve sealed their stoner rock credentials by traveling all the way to Glasgow to record and mix some of the album with Mogwai producer Tony Doogan in Mogwai’s own Castle Of Doom studio in the west end. And a might beast it is too.
With songs that range from less than three minutes to the title track’s opening seven minute salvo, Vessels doesn’t let up. Even on a slower track “March of the Clouds” is just like wading through a thick sonic fog. This is an album that’s going to give a subwoofer as big work out, especially on something like the almost bass-led “Kingdom”. “Rozalia Bizarre” is a fizzing, sinewy track that closes with some howling guitar lines.
Understandably, the lead single, “This Mess” was chosen as it is probably the most direct thing on the whole album. That and “Steal Their Gold” (if you take out the surprise tempo change half way through to the end). There is the nagging sensation that if the band did away with their instrumental jams (or streamlined them into actual songs), the album could have been even better. The easy going outro “Vultures (Part 2 Section 2)” is a nice listen but would have benefited from some vocals to make it at least stylistically fit in with the whole album. Nonetheless, Vessels is a great debut album that hopefully points the way to maybe something even greater.
Wolf & Cub – This Mess :
Grinderman is Nick Cave’s new project which is seperate from his work with the Bad Seeds. Considering their last album was a hugely ornate and grand double album, Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus. That album was great, especially the tracks that included a choir that gave the songs a big vocal presence. Grinderman is almost the complete antithesis of this: Cave, along with his Bad Seeds Martyn Casey (bass), Jim Sclavunos (drums) and Warren Ellis (violin/guitar), have made an album of stripped down, dirty rock ‘n roll songs.
The thing that struck me first was how bare the music sounded (that and the frequent profanity). The guitar and violin are mainly there for texture and it’s the bass and drums that really carry the tune. The single “No Pussy Blues” is the perfect example of this: minimal drums, heavy bass and chattering lyrics that deal with the loss of youth and the illusion of fame (“My face is finished, my body’s gone, and I can’t help thinking but think standing up here with all this applause and gazing down at all the young and beautiful with looking up with their questioning eyes/That I must above all things love myself…”). The snarling chorus is staggeringly heavy.
The recurring theme is defiantly age and the regret and defiance it brings: some of the best lyrics are in the final track, “Love Bomb” where Nick rages that he’s “been watching Gardener’s Question Time/but I can’t grow a dandelion”.It would be funny if the song didn’t sound so predatory. Strangely enough, despite how rowdy most of the tracks sound, one of my favourites is the downbeat “Man On The Moon”. And Grinderman is full of conflictions: some of the quieter tracks are the most affecting, The middle-eastern, woozy “When My Love Comes Down” is a fine example of this. I wasn’t expecting that much from this album, but this is a real, full-bodied group making music that sounds like it’s coming from guys half their age.
Grinderman – No Pussy Blues:
Well, I’m in a bit of a quandary; basically I’ve been out of work for almost two months now and I’ve pretty much run out of cash. Which means that i can’t go out and buy new CDs, specifically so I can talk about them on the site. Bummer; that means no new albums from Arcade Fire, Kaiser Chiefs, Klaxons, Idlewild, the Shins, the Stooges or Grinderman. So, basically I’m going back to CDs from 2006 that I’ve not talked about yet, which is pretty easy when you use i-tunes smart playlists. Anyway, Starky are an Australian band from Sydney that have been about since the late 90’s, although this is only their 2nd album after 2003’s Mirror, Signal, Manoeuvre.
The single “Hey, Bang Bang” got quite a lot of airtime on Triple J last year and is probably the pick of the songs of the album. It’s a shimmering song, that reminded me of the first Stills album. But the album as a whole takes a completely different tone; it sounds of morphs into a slightly heavier sounding Killers album (starky recently supported the Killers in their Australian gigs). The synth line that’s at the forefront of “The Wreckery” is pure Brandon Flowers. Mind you, the jerky post-punk-like “We generate Friction” reminded me of the Futureheads.
Indeed, the feeling I get off the whole album is that this is almost some kind of compilation of some of the best bands of the last few years. That’s not a bad thing at all, it’s just that not all the songs grabbed me. “She Got Ambition” is good though, even though the it sounds like the band have a totally different singer from the other tracks. Starky is a good album, there’s no obvious weak or duff track, it’s just maybe a bit schizophrenic.
Starky – Hey Bang Bang:
I’m heading off tomorrow morning to go to Sydney for a couple of days to see my parents whilst they’re in town. They’re on a cruise right now (quelle suprise) and it will dock just under the harbour bridge for a few days. Unfortunately due to a cock up in communication, the dates that everyone’s got off work are wrong. As such, Anna and her parents will have to go back to work on Thursday, meaning I’m going to try and work out some way to stay in Sydney on Wednesday night and get a coach back to Canberra on Thursday.
Logistics aside, I’m gonna make sure I visit some record stores and pick up some stuff. One thing I’m gonna be looking for is the new album from Aereogramme, which I believe that one store in particular will have in stock. So, to tide you over until I come back (contain yourselves), I’ll leave you with Aereogramme’s latest video:
Aereogramme – Barriers:
You may have noticed I’ve put in a new tag on this post, from now on anything I post that’s related to my new home down under, will have the “Australia” tag on it. Now all I need to do is go back and work out what albums I talked about were by Australian artists. Apparantly Gotye (aka Wally DeBacker) isn’t actually Australian but from Belguim but he’s settled down here like me, so that’s good enough to get the tag. His current album “Like Drawing Blood” was up for Triple J’s “J Award” for best Australian album of the year, (last year’s winner was Wolfmother), losing out to hip-hop trio Hilltop Hoods. What makes it interesting is that “Like Drawing Blood” is far removed from the big rock sound of Wolfmother or the mainstream rap of the Hoods. This is an album created by one guy from a truckload of samples, a la the Avalanches debut 6 years ago. But instead of the mix ‘n match soundscapes that result from a deluge of samples, “Like Drwaing Blood” seems to remain a singular work, despite spanning lots of genres.
It sounds unlikely but there’s something that draws all the songs together; for instance “Coming Back” has a vaudeville-esque style, whilst “The Only Way” has a big bass sound but both songs have a shared sound. The samples, although numerous, don’t muddle the song and are used sparringly. From there on, the songs traverse all genres: “Puzzle With A Piece Missing” is a minimal dub reggae track that captures the King Tubby sound really well. “Thanks For Your Time” is a electro track bemoaning the lack of customer service. “Heart’s A Mess” is a string-laden, downbeat track that bears a passing resembelance to Portishead, but only slightly.
The better tracks on the album are things like “Learnalilgivinanlovin”, a mowtown, 60’s wall of sound track that sounds brilliant. “A Pristine Sound” is a sample fest that sounds like the illegitimate offspring of Stenski’s Ultimate Lesson recordings. It’s not a perfect record though, some of the tracks stop for a period of time and then start up again which I found annoying. Plus there’s a plastic-ey 80’s soul-pop track at the end “Night Drive” which is either trying to be really ironic or show’s a love for Phil Collins. Either way, the album might have been better off without it. As it stands, “Like Drawing Blood” is a unique album, being composed of samples but yet sounding consistent.
Gotye – Heart’s A Mess: