Wednesday, December 24, 2008

christmas just came early...

I just booked cheap flights to Melbourne for this - January looks set to be a cracking month!

Monday, December 22, 2008

100th post! best of 2008!

Who would have thought that, out of all the months of the year, December would be the busiest? It's been utterly nuts this month! Thankfully, I am on Christmas holidays at last, which means lots of sleeping in, gift giving, and a big road trip down south for New Years Eve. Lots to look forward to!

There's also lots to look back upon in 2008. It's only fitting that my 100th post marks just about the end of a brilliant year for music, and a fun year for writing about my favourite pop songs. At the beginning of the year, I made a resolution to listen to as much new music as I could, because over the past couple of years I had been neglecting and missing out on an awful lot of brilliant new bands. Since then, I've astounded myself discovering bands who are making some of the most glorious music around - 2008 has been a great year for pop music. For some recommendations, I'd suggest you visit Brogues for his Monorail year end list, and Unpopular for the 2008 Advent calendar.

For me, though? I'd say The Pains of Being Pure at Heart stole my very heart more than any other band this year, and I can guarantee their debut album will be on very high rotation across many record players in quarter one, 2009. Seeing The Long Blondes in Munich back in May was one of the best spontaneous trips I've ever made, and I only wish I snuck a glimpse of The Lodger as their support band, because "The Good Old Days" ranks as one of my favourite songs of the year.

Sure, I know I'm echoing what everyone else is saying, but the rise of Slumberland like a phoenix from the flames has been a godsend to all, and all those winning podcasts will make a discerning listener of me in no time (a more than honourable mention here to the boys from I Smiled Yesterday, who made me smile and dance and run faster at the gym on more than one occasion).

I could keep on going here - Je Suis Animal, Slow Down Tallahassee, Cause Co-Motion!, Crystal Stilts, Guy Blackman, Summer Cats... it's been a terrific year, and I really can't wait to see what 2009 offers up.

By the way, that Frida Hyvonen album? It is utterly amazing. Like, more than I can possibly describe. Like the dark horse coming from the back of the pack, it couls well be the best album of 2008. It is that good.

Anyway, I wanted to offer you a special Christmas treat of my favourite seasonal songs, but it's taking a little longer than normal for me to compile. I will try to have it up in the next day or so! In the meantime, however, you can enjoy some festive plum pudding, musical style, with super downloads over at both Skatterbrain! and Hey Hey Honeypop!. I'll pour myself some egg nog and we can all enjoy the Christmas cheer together.

Monday, December 8, 2008

frida hyvönen

After recommendations from both Too Much Apple Pie and Everett True, I decided to listen to Frida Hyvönen. Now I feel like I owe eternal gratitude for introducing me, like a blind date. Because songs like "Dirty Dancing" only come along on those rare occasions, like tiny flecks of gold in the ashes of coal that certain days at work feel like. Because those soaring "aaah, aah-aaahs" would not - still cannot - leave my mind, and all I want to do is play the song over and over again, with the occasional Ronettes song thrown in between plays. Because I don't expect a song to creep up so unassumingly yet consume me so quickly. In short: I LOVE THIS SONG.

I have just bought her album, Silence Is Wild, with its incredible photograph on the cover - her promo photos for this album carry me away as much as her music does. I am sure I will become equally as enamoured with an album's worth of beautiful stories as I am with track one.

Buy Silence Is Wild from Chapter Music.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

bionic hands

The latest from the Long Blondes camp - guitarist, mixtape maestro and all round killer cat Dorian Cox has been receiving treatment using a "revolutionary mechanical glove" to regain use of his right hand again. Isn't science great?

Read more here and here.

Thankfully, we have Sprites in the world, who understand not just about poor blogging, but about the marvels of technology too.

Sprites - Bionic Hands

Buy Sprites' Modern Gameplay here!
Buy Long Blondes records (and lots of them!!) here!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

things that are great

1. Crystal Stilts - "Alight of Night"
This album arrived in the mail last week with my big order from Slumberland Records, and I'm well sold on it. I gave it a couple of listens in the car yesterday and the really heavy production sound won me over. I even scribbled down some notes whilst stuck in traffic/waiting at red lights/driving along the Inner City Bypass:

- Track 2, "Crystal Stilts", has this great great organ line that hits about halfway through the track, right out of nowhere. It's fantastic.

- Track 3, "Graveyard Orbit" - perfect title for this song. It's droney and reminds me of The Velvet Underground's "Black Angel's Death Song". In fact, I read a bit about Crystal Stilts today on the Slumberland page, and I could hear all the references in their songs - apart from VU, there's 13th Floor Elevators, Jesus & Mary Chain and Meat Whiplash all mixed in.

I think I had to drive properly after this point, but suffice to say, I am enjoying the rest of the album a great deal, and it's an album I'll be recommending to a wide range of music fans. I think it has very broad appeal.

2. The new Slumberland podcast
It's called "So Hard To Beat", and you can download it here. I listened to this on the way to work this morning, and it's very catchy. Slumberland podcasts can do no wrong, in my opinion. Favourite tracks? The Scientists' "Frantic Romantic" (although I am more of a "Shake Together" fan), the brilliant Sneaky Feelings track (will definitely have to hunt down their records now), and The Jasmine Minks song, which sounds a million times better than any other Jasmine Minks track I've ever heard.

3. The Pains of Being Pure At Heart's "Everything With You" video
Now this is what cool cats look like! Love love love!

4. Britpop revivals
Comes around every couple of months for me. Right now I am reviving Sleeper, Mansun and Rialto. Not sure if I should be admitting this, but I am thoroughly enjoying the experience.

And things that aren't so great? Having to facilitate a seven-hour long supplier meeting at work today. My brain is completely fried!

Monday, December 1, 2008

comet gain - 'love without lies'

I read about the new Comet Gain film clip for their song "Love Without Lies" over at Heaven Is Above Your Head, then proceeded to watch the film clip here. I really thought some valid points were made - the song sure is an absolute cracker and the film clip is a lot of fun, but, I don't know, it does look very cool. Just read what Kris has to say about it - he explains it far better than I can.

One thing that really irks me about the clip is how everyone smokes in it. C'mon, is it really necessary to try to glamorise smoking like that? I don't get it. Maybe I'm just not cool. Perhaps I'll just buy myself a copy of the 7" over at Comet Gain's myspace and practice my dance moves at home.

Sunday, November 30, 2008


I think San Francisco's Nodzzz rate as my favourite garage band of the moment. Of course, they can never really rival Billy Childish, whose fecundity in pumping out garage hits can never, ever be beaten, but they are giving him a good run for his money with their self-titled 12" on What's Your Rupture?. Can I just say that WYR? are killing it at the moment - what with the new Love Is All album as well as all those brilliant Cause Co-Motion singles they released, they'll no doubt send me broke in no time.

Anyway, Nodzzz are three San Franciscan boys making noisy garage songs slapped straight onto the 4-track like every day was Saturday afternoon out in the back room, drinking beers and jamming songs. As a big karaoke fan, I particularly like "Controlled Karaoke", but I'm also partial to a bit of "Losing My Accent". There's the power pop, Byrds-esque jangle in there but enough shaky drumming and imperfect guitar lines in there to ensure it maintains a certain shambolic charm. After all, aren't the best looks and sounds those that are a bit scruffed up?

Pick up the Nodzzz LP from What's Your Rupture? here! Hey, who needs to eat when you can buy records instead?

Saturday, November 29, 2008

lloyd & michael, woelv, jeremy jay...

I've had another exceptionally busy week, but it's always rewarding when it involves seeing wonderful bands that take your breath away, make you dance and wish that everyone loved the sounds as much as you do.

Last Saturday I flew down to Melbourne and was lucky enough to see Lloyd & Michael and Woelv play at the Triple R studios. I say lucky because I'd intended to see them in Brisbane last Thursday, but ended up being exceptionally ill that evening. Lloyd & Michael are Katy Davidson (aka Dear Nora) and M. Richey, playing cute songs on guitar and recorder. Totally winsome and very charming! Woelv, meanwhile, blew me away again, with her self-recorded loops - she is amazing amazing amazing to see live - watching her build a song up layer by layer is phenomenal.

(Note: I'd have taken pictures but I forgot to - argh! They were all super cute though!)

Last Wednesday, having flown in that morning, I made an effort to go to The Troubadour in Brisbane to see Jeremy Jay, straight from Los Angeles. Despite the rain, a small but select crowd turned out on a weeknight for the type of show I'd love to go to each week. The Legend! did a capella versions of Young Marble Giants, Zombies and Television Personalities, stripping everything right back and enchanting all 15 of us who'd made it there early. I feel so lucky to be able to see him in my own town, because I haven't seen anybody else in the world game enough to do half of what he does.

The Bell Divers played as tight a set as I'd seen, and they continue to sound better and better each time. Make sure you listen to their album because it is really good, and they deserve to be far more adored! Meanwhile, seeing Guy Blackman again, this time with a drummer and Adele Pickvance (who played in the Go-Betweens and now plays with Robert Forster) on bass, impressed me far more than the Powerhouse show a few months ago. In fact, I really like his songs, and seeing them live again just brought to life all those interesting lyrics - sometimes dark, sometimes wry, but always very thought provoking.

I hadn't heard Jeremy Jay until Wednesday night - he appeared on stage looking like Robert Forster circa Send Me A Lullaby and produced this hollow surf guitar sound that made me feel like I was on a deserted beach at dusk, watching the sun set as the waves crashed around me. The songs? Fantastic - the type that seep into your consciousness really slowly but then never want to escape. Everyone was charmed by his lanky stage presence, his insouciance, his way of charming all 50 of us who warmed to him in no time. I bought his 2008 demos CD, which should suit this humid weather perfectly.

el records

I just read a terrific article on The Guardian website about the legendary El Records - have a read here. Up until just over 12 months ago, I didn't really know much at all about El at all - in fact, I didn't know it at all. But, thanks to a mixtape I received last year positively brimming with brilliant El artists I'd not heard before - Would-Be-Goods, Momus, Bad Dream Fancy Dress - I've been converted ever since. Like the article says, I love its inherent Britishness - being quite the Anglophile, it has this mystery and charm about it that runs through all the music.

I could easily drop hundreds of dollars buying up the El back catalogue, along with a million other gems over at Cherry Red. I restrained myself today, however, and came away with just a Momus DVD and the Shop Assistants' "Will Anything Happen?" reissue CD. The Mo-Dettes reissue was very tempting, as was the Adorable best-of - sigh, perhaps next time.

Friday, November 21, 2008

sexy kids

So it seems like the most discussed band in indie pop circles this week has been Glasgow's Sexy Kids, and for good reason - "Sisters are Forever" is one of those tracks that has snuck into my consciousness and doesn't want to remove itself. It's so simple, and says it all in less than three minutes - those crashing hi-hats, those hollow guitars and oh boy, those vocals. Earlier tonight I pulled out The Royal We album, and it's the perfect progression on from where this sadly short-lived band ended off.

I'm waiting in anticipation for the "Sisters are Forever" 7" to arrive from Slumberland, but in the meantime make it your friend by downloading the MP3 here.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Singing Bush - Do What He Says (Richard, Richard)

Oh, Skatterbrain Matt delivers once again - I'm going to spend the rest of the night watching Munch videos on youtube. And, by jove, you should too! Please enjoy The Singing Bush's "Do What He Says (Richard, Richard)", because I'm going to dance around my room in pop bliss watching this again and again and again:

The Singing Bush was a side project for Mary Wyer from Even As We Speak / Her Name In Lights. This particular song is about long-time Triple J DJ Richard Kingsmill and can be found on the fantastic Indie Aid Abroad: A Little Help for East Timor compilation, which came out many years ago on Library Records. Love love love!

brisbane is as brisbane is: cut off your hands & ninetynine

I managed to have my faith in Brisbane nightlife completely crushed then somewhat restored in the space of two days. Most would be aware my relationship with this city teeters on the side of utter disdain most of the time anyway, but oh boy, Saturday night did little to inspire me with confidence in Brisbane's future potential.

I made the mistake of venturing out to see New Zealand's Cut Off Your Hands. I should have known better - they're NME it-kids at the moment, and their songs are all over the radio. They have a couple of catchy songs, they played a show in New York with The Pains of Being Pure at Heart recently, and Bernard Butler produced their debut album. It was enough to pique my interest - that, and I felt like doing something, anything on Saturday night.

Big mistake. The music was tepid, uninspired anthemic indie-by-numbers, with nary an ounce of spark or magic to liven up the stage, and they played their radio hit single first up. I feel sorry for Bernard Butler at this point. The crowd was awful - I nearly fought a guy with three rats tails after his tall friend stood in front of little Ariadne and didn't want to budge, and the rest of the pack were just swarming faux-fashion hipsterettes. Urgh.

On the flipside, Sunday night presented an opportunity to see the wee Laura Macfarlane enchant the small Rics crowd with her delightful band, Ninetynine. With their amazing Casio lines and a drummer who plays like Animal from the Muppets, I was fixed from the first note.

Laura's voice soared above the sometimes krautrock rhythms, equally haunting, tribal, noisy and catchy. My highlight, however, was watching her play the marimbas - I'm awfully impressed when I see people play them. How can one be so co-ordinated to hit those keys at the same time and sing as well?

In support of Ninetynine were Brisbane's Do The Robot, and I think I'd like to see them again sometime soon. They've been compared to Life Without Buildings on occasion, but I detect a healthy shoegaze influence in there, too. Have a listen to the track "Six Dreams Counting" on their myspace page - the glasgow school, anyone? Splendid stuff!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

swedish pop love: cloetta paris

Swedish pop really is the best, don't you think? I've held this opinion for quite a few years now, and I'm still astounded at how often a country of eight million unbelievably attractive people can produce so much brilliant pop music. I've been playing some old Swedish favourites recently. On the train yesterday, I listened to Sambassadeur for the first time in a while, and floated away with the majesty of "Between The Lines" and "Ice and Snow" once more. Then, on my way home tonight, I played some Love Is All, who really are more amazing than words can describe. I'm still decidedly bitter about missing their Australian tour last year. Sigh. On the upside, their Myspace says they have a new album out NEXT WEEK! And they're touring with the Vivian Girls! Oh, utter jealousy.

I've now fallen madly in love with Cloetta Paris, a duo from Stockholm who are cuter than I thought was humanly possible.

Their Scandinavian cuteness is backed up by some super sweet disco house tunes, which sound like sister tunes to Sally Shapiro's delicious Italo House. If all dance music was as sweet, icy and danceable as this, I'd have no trouble spending every weekend at the disco. I love this new wave of disco - Cloetta Paris take what Saint Etienne established by pinching bits and pieces from the best of music, and give what's essentially 80s and 90s throwback beats a shiny gloss for the '08 dancefloor lipsmackers.

I'll tell you, based on the strength of "Cry Just A Little Bit" alone, I just went and bought their album from Skywriting Records, and it's a big thanks to Rob for introducing me to these amazing songs!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

lost & lonesome treasures

Look at what arrived in the post for me today from Melbourne's lovely Lost & Lonesome:

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, in all its blue vinyl glory, once again sends me to giddy heights of noisy pop love. Could they just be the best band of 2008? Yes? Probably. Yes. "Everything With You" is incredible, and the newly recorded version of "The Pains of Being Pure at Heart" sounds so warm and alive on the 45.

I've just finished listening to The Zebras' new EP, New Ways of Risking our Lives, and by gosh, if you loved Worry A Lot, you're sure to enjoy these five new tracks. My pick? Track 2 - "Push Our Way To The Front", which you can conveniently listen to on their myspace page. Listening to this has made me realise how much Brisbane misses them.

Still Flyin' are back with some new hamm jamms! Two tracks on this gloriously ghoulish CD - "Good Thing It's a Ghost Town Around Here" and "Drac's House" - just in time for Halloween. Who wouldn't want these cats swinging at your party? These songs make me want to dance like crazy! It seems like they can't get enough of Australia, too - they're coming back for next year's Laneway Festival, alongside the likes of Stereolab (!!!!!) and Jay Reatard.

I'll give the new Lucksmiths a spin next - a new album is always something to look forward to, and I can't wait to hear how their new songs sound on this splendid spring evening.

Monday, October 20, 2008

no more long blondes

The Long Blondes have split. Read about it here.

So, there's bands I've fallen in love with and there's bands that have completely consumed my life. First, it was Blur and Pulp, back when I was about 12 years old - I spent all of 1997 listening to either "The Great Escape" or "Different Class" and it's defined my musical tastes ever since.

Then, come about 2001, Belle & Sebastian and The Lucksmiths entered the fray and I transformed into a little pop lady, dancing about, painting lines and sleeping in bus stops, wondering how I got my name and what I was going to do about it.

Come late 2006, I heard The Long Blondes' "Weekend Without Makeup" on the radio, and really dislike it. I'm not sure why - it just didn't rub me the right way. However, as soon as I heard "Once and Never Again", my thoughts changed entirely - I remember thinking, "What are they doing playing proper pop songs on the radio? It doesn't make sense!" It sounded like it had dived straight off the C86 compilation that was playing in my car at the time and into my embracing ears. I loved it - more than loved it, even.

Their debut album Someone To Drive You Home took up permanent residency in my car in 2007. It still hasn't left, nor will it ever as long as I'm driving Coldplay down the highway. There isn't a better album to keep me awake at 3am as I'm driving past the Caltex service station at Carseldine, singing along at the top of my voice to "Lust In The Movies" and "Swallow Tattoo". "Couples" has taken up residency too, as will "Singles" when I buy myself a copy very soon.

I was lucky enough to see them twice. Firstly, here in Brisbane - every single one of my friends bailed on me, so I bought myself a gin and tonic and danced the night away like no other. I ended up really dancing the night away like no other, because I met the boys in the band afterwards and talked new wave, britpop and a whole lot more with them after the show. Best night in Brisbane ever, hands down, no further questions. The second time was earlier this year, in Munich, where I flew over for two days just to see them play. That's my dedication to the band. It was a brilliant performance, and I had a crazy night drinking German beer and getting lost walking back to my hotel after the show.

It was awful to hear about Dorian's illness back in June, mainly because I had got to know him after the Brisbane show. When you hear their lyrics, it's hard to fathom how one boy could write such sassy, witty songs that pretty much summed me up.

Here are ten of my favourite Long Blondes lyrics:

1. "Now all I've got is a postcode to go on, and that won't get me laid" ("The Whippet Fancier")

2. "You fill me with inertia, but I still want to jump your bones" ("Swallow Tattoo")

3. "Looks are the first weapon, charm is the second, I reckon that she doesn't have much of either" ("Only Lovers Left Alive")

4. "Can I get it on credit or something?" (also "Only Lovers Left Alive")

5. "If you want to know me, watch how I dance" ("Fulwood Babylon")

6. "I'm still classic girlfriend material, and I'll do better than you" ("Who Are You To Her")

7. "Some boys will never have me, it's of no consequence" ("My Heart Is Out Of Bounds")

8. "I may never have a daughter because I've far too much to tell her and far too much to answer for" ("Nostalgia")

9. All the spoken word bits in "You Could Have Both" ("I feel like CC Baxter in Wilder's Apartment") and "Fulwood Babylon" ("...who want to introduce them to illicit Russ Meyer films and dance til dawn to old Kinks records...").

10. "A sweet young thing, dressed to the nines in Cacharel, oh I'm under the weather, my heels click together and following her is hell" ("Lust In The Movies")

So it's hard to take the news that The Long Blondes are no more, but I also feel incredibly lucky that I have this cache of brilliant, brilliant songs to listen to forever. And really, I still wish Dorian all the best in recovery, because really, that's the most important part of all this. xx

Sunday, October 19, 2008

damon & naomi

If I were to give birth to a daughter right about now, I would name her Naomi after the beautiful Naomi Yang. I've never listened much to Galaxie 500 nor Damon & Naomi, but these clips on La Blogotheque, filmed in a Paris apartment last year, are just beautiful. Perfect Sunday afternoon listening!

I think I will spend my afternoon watching Galaxie 500 clips on Youtube. "Blue Thunder" is the only song I really know - Stephen Malkmus included it when he guest-programmed Rage back in 2001. I still have it on video - have a look at his very diverse playlist and you can understand why it still warrants repeated viewings seven years later.

Enjoy your Sunday!

Friday, October 17, 2008

exciting new kicks

A slight diversion from my steady stream of pop musings on this Friday night. I'm at home, having finished what turned out to be a really good week - Wednesday was my nadir, for sure, but today became my zenith. I earned myself some new letters after my name, ate a delicious profiterole at morning tea, then finished the day with a glass of wine, some boxing and a new pair of sneakers.

As I write, I'm listening to Belle & Sebastian's "Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like A Peasant", an album I haven't listened to in at least a year, if not longer. Of course, if I lived in London, I'd be dancing the night away to this album at How Does It Feel To Be Loved?'s annual Belle & Sebastian night. Alas, I'm not, and my bedroom will have to make do.

I have exciting new pairs of shoes - they are far too exciting to remain in the physical, and must enter the digital world via some amateur bedroom photography.

I've had these lovely girly sneakers on layby at Violent Green for a while, and I finally picked them up tonight. They're a collaboration between cute new Sydney label Maise and New Zealand footwear designer Kathryn Wilson. Bloody New Zealand has to go and produce another brilliant designer with the initials KW! I think these sneakers are super cute and toughen up this season's florals perfectly.

I am quite the Camper shoes addict - these little ladies are my seventh pair! For a while there, I was buying a pair a season, which was an expensive but ever so satisfying habit. I skipped a season, though, but I've made a stunning return with these flats. I love the mix of bright pink patent leather with yellow, grey and brown patches - perfect for summery strolls! And, because they're Camper, they're super comfortable. If you don't already own a pair, I recommend you find yourself a pair right away - you'll never look back!

I bought these crazy United Nude shoes in London earlier in the year, but I haven't had the chance to wear them. I'm dying to, though, just to see what the reaction is! Moulded rubber wedges with a little peep toe and a white leather strap - so insane, but so cool.

OK, sorry to be so self indulgent but oh, shoes are such fun! Almost as fun as records...hmm, they might even rank a little higher. It's a close battle!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

objects of desire

I do love a good record buying opportunity, and one of the best spots in the country to hunt down all manner of rare record beasts is Newtown's Egg Records. It's the southern sister store to the Brisbane shop, and I've previously documented some of my top finds whilst trawling its racks. Little sister in Sydney sure didn't disappoint on Saturday, especially when I found this baby under "G":

I had to contain myself when I saw this Girls At Our Best! record waiting just for me - it must have been fate, given how obsessed I've been with them lately. When I purchased it, I even told the nice man behind the counter that he'd made my weekend by having it there for me. I wanted to hug him! When I went outside I pretty much jumped up and down on the spot when showing it to Sam - I had to squeal! The record plays in mint condition, and oh, I can tell it's going to get more than a few plays.

Best of all, it came with its own "Pleasure Bag" - a printed paper pleasure bag with a sticker, little activities and a postcard! Best ever!

I was very restrained, however - I could have bought so many records, but I purchased these two lovelies as well:

I've been listening to the Triffids song "Raining Pleasure" quite a bit lately, and I heard it in a shop we went into on King Street. I think that partially influenced my purchase - well, that, and the Triffids are such a darkly sophisticated band that I can't help but want to hear all their albums. And The Rondelles? Well, that was far too good a find to pass up! It has "Drag Strip Race" and "Magazine" on it - two songs which I loved a whole lot back when I was 18. I can't wait to listen to them again - it'll get the party going in this room, that's for sure.

Sydney was terrific overall - danced the night away at Spectrum on Saturday night, drank beers overlooking Bondi Beach, then did lots of work work stuff for the past couple of days. I'm glad to be home, though - I'm exhausted!

Friday, October 10, 2008

springtime mixtime!

I understand that for most people who read my blog, it's autumn and the leaves are turning every shade of gold and bronze. However, here in sunny (well, actually, rainy at the moment) Brisbane, the weather's warm, the beers are cold and it's t-shirt weather. Yesterday I wore a floral Antipodium blouse to work and told my colleagues I was the blossoming spring garden in the office. Spring is alive and what better way to celebrate the heart of the season than with ten songs to add golden rays to your day.

Download Alex's Springtime mix here!

1. Shonen Knife - "Daydream Believer" (Happy Hour, Big Deal, 1998)
2. Echobelly - "King Of The Kerb" (On, Work, 1995)
3. Girls At Our Best - "Fast Boyfriends" (Pleasure, Happy Birthday, 1981)
4. Paris - "Hey Sailor" (Yellow Eden, V2, 2004)
5. France Gall - "Le Temps de la Rentree" (Baby Pop, Philips, 1966)
6. The Motorcycle Boy - "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?" (Trying To Be Kind 12", Blue Guitar, 1989)
7. Pipas - "Cruel And Unusual" (Matinee Summer Splash!, Matinee, 2002)
8. The Radio Dept. - "1995" (Lesser Matters, Shelflife, 2003)
9. Melody Dog - "Futuristic Lover" (Futuristic Lover 7", K, 1992)
10. The Saturday People - "Twilight Story" (The Saturday People, Slumberland, 2001)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

australian pride: guy blackman, the bank holidays, even as we speak

Sometimes I think about how much I like Australia - you know, with our seemingly endless summers and Caramello Koalas and paying out on New Zealand, it's a good country to live in. However, it's shameful for me to admit, but the quota of Australian records in my collection to all else is, well, pretty small. I'm turning this ratio around, though, because there's been quite an influx of really, really good Australian records spinning on my stereo of late. Aside from the aforementioned Lucksmiths and Guild League records I have to look forward to, here's a few others I'm in love with at the moment:

Guy Blackman

Melbourne's Guy Blackman has been making music for ages now, but I think he will win himself a whole new group of fans with his album Adult Baby. It's an album of stories - of best friends, of mothers, of love won and love lost. This balladeer, with his deep, slightly naive vocals and beautiful old organ sounds, tells a story once and makes you want to hear it again and again. About a month ago, I saw Guy play at the Powerhouse, supported by the Sly Hats, and his performance didn't entirely win me over for some reason - it was good, but perhaps I just wasn't in the right Sunday afternoon mood. However, since buying a copy down in Sydney a few weeks ago, tracks such as "Carlton North", "Stay On The Beat" and single "Gayle" have attached themselves to me and I don't want them to go away. Well worth listening to!

Guy also runs Chapter Music, a label with a fine history and a fine roster to match. If you're keen to hear some Australian post punk from the 70s and 80s, I suggest you lay your hands on a copy of the Can't Stop It! compilation.

The Bank Holidays

For those of you in the UK and Europe who recently saw Perth's The Bank Holidays on their continental tour, then I'm awfully jealous. They're a band who have interested me for a few years now, but I've always missed their Brisbane shows when they've come to town. Shameful, really, as they're one super lovely pop group. With songs that remind me a lot of The Shins, Belle & Sebastian and Australian pop from the late 1990s, their album As A Film is 12 tracks of pretty, string laden pop that sparkles and soars at every opportunity - my definite highlights are "Oh Daylight" and "Cheating Cheating". I also love the title track from their earlier EP The Greatest Game - it's the best song you'll ever hear about badminton!

Even As We Speak
It wouldn't be a proper Australian pop discussion without mentioning one of our esteemed bands of yore - Sydney's Even As We Speak. One of the few Australian bands to appear on Sarah Records, the singles collection A Three Minute Song Is One Minute Too Long is well worth adding to your collection. They channelled pretty melodies in one song, the sound of backyard Australia in another, then captured the Sydney power pop sound in the next. Why weren't they bigger? Well, that's all explained in the liner notes, but it's a great injustice to a band who could have been so much bigger. "Blue Suburban Skies" is my favourite track on the compilation; it's a shame "Drown" wasn't included, though, because even though it does sound a little dated now, it's one of those really great early 90s pop moments. I had the pleasure of seeing Even As We Speak play in Brisbane in 2005, and it's an even greater pleasure to have these 17 tracks to love all the more.

Monday, October 6, 2008

matinee extravaganza!

Whoa, if there ever was a time to ignore the global economic downturn and blow your whole pay on records, it's now, because Matinee Records have decided to release four brilliant new records! Yay!

It's a veritable feast of Lucksmiths this month, as my favourite Melbourne wordsmiths release their first album in more than three years. Recorded in Tasmania over the winter, it'll be interesting to hear how "First Frost" sounds when it's 35 degrees outside and I'm driving to Coolum to go for my first beach swim of the year. I sure hope they all grew beards for the occasion! A new Lucksmiths album is always a cause for celebration, as they are always objects of great beauty, waiting to be explored, rediscovered and reimagined in all manner of settings and circumstances. Ah, Lucksmiths, a sound for every season. (It's also available for preorder at Lost & Lonesome - while you're there, make sure you snare yourself a copy of the new Zebras EP too!)

Tali White's been particularly busy, with his side project The Guild League also releasing a new album, "Speak Up" on Matinee. Again, it's been a few years - if you haven't heard them, I highly recommend procuring yourself a copy of the first two Guild League albums, "Private Transport" and "Inner North". Both are incredible story albums, with each pop nugget delivering its own tale of travel, suburbia and much, much more. Head over to the Matinee myspace page and listen to "Suit Fits" - if this barnstormin' trumpeter of a track is any indication, it's sure to be a high-momentum ride of an album!

(In related "I hate living in Brisbane" news, The Guild League will launch "Speak Up" next Sunday at the Northcote Social Club in Melbourne, and The Lucksmiths play The Troubadour in Brisbane on November 8 - the same day I'm down the coast for a very dear friend's wedding. Complete heartbreak!)

One of the first bands I ever wrote about on here was Glasgow's Bubblegum Lemonade. It's very exciting to hear about a debut album by one of the most well-crafted bands going around. Called "doubleplusgood", it includes "Susan's In The Sky" plus eleven other jangly pop songs to etch their way into your consciousness. Bound to be a corker, I'm sure!

Lastly, the very talented Jessica Griffin and her fine cast of fellow Would-Be-Goods have returned with "Eventyr". I must admit, I haven't listened to many of their newer songs, but I am certain they exude the same elegance and sophistication as the songs from "The Camera Loves Me". It's hard to believe I only heard The Would-Be-Goods for the first time late last year - since then, I've fallen very hard for all those literate pop songs Jessica and her sister did with the Monochrome Set in the late 1980s. Anyway, no doubt I'll be impressed - it's hard not to be when your band features former members of Heavenly and Thee Headcoatees!

While you're ordering away at Matinee, make sure you include EPs from Northern Portrait and The Electric Pop Group. Come to think of it, there's natch to fault over there at Matinee - order the lot!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

skateboard for sale!

Apart from designing the cutie picture that greets you on this page, my super-lovely pal Catherine Insch designed a skateboard for the recent I Used To Skate Once 4 art show, held by my favourite shop, The Outpost.

It looks so good in reality - golden background, and a proper skateboard size! If you're keen, it's $150 - send Cat an email and get some skateboard art into your life!

In other exciting news, I am convinced Girls At Our Best are one of the best bands ever hands down no questions asked best amazing best. They're phenomenal! I am so in love!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

jealousy is...

1. Not being able to dance my peep-toes away all night long to the most incredible band in the world right now:

2. Not being as cool-as-fuck as the Vivian Girls:

3. Not being a cool-as-fuck noisy wiry girl punk babe at all:

p.s. I bought some really, really good Australian pop albums on the weekend - yay! Once it's all been absorbed and adored I'm gonna write lots and lots and lots of glowing words about some bands from my own backyard. About time!

p.p.s I also bought myself a new pair of Camper shoes, and they're pretty much the most delicious shoes ever. Pics to come!

Monday, September 22, 2008


I've only just joined the podcast-listening fraternity (I'm a bit late latching onto all these sorts of things - blogging, vodcasting, black nailpolish...), but I'm now officially hooked. Download these podcasts and your ears need never be sad again!

1. New I Smiled Yesterday!

Yeaaaah! To quote:

"ISY goes P!O!P!

From Sideburns to Fringes
From Parkas to Anoraks
From Ben Sherman to stripey t-shirts
From Chelsea boots to Converse
From Pete Townsend to Stephen Pastel"

Cripes, with a description like that, you just cannot go wrong!

2. Everything over at Slumberland!
The new one, from Cause Co-Motion, is really really good - I listened to it as I left work this afternoon and it put an extra spring in my step walking over the Victoria Bridge. Also, I HIGHLY recommend Kitchen Sounds #1, as prepared by Stewart Boyracer - it's full of noisy, obscure punk songs from the 70s and 80s, all of which are entirely brilliant because they sound like they're all about to fall apart at any moment. Bit like Boyracer, eh? Makes it all the more endearing, if you ask me.

3. Hey Hey Honeypop!'s Dance around Your Livingroom!
It really is the best place to dance, isn't it? In my case, it's my bedroom but it can double as my living room, especially when I can spin it to a Professor Pez song about one of my favourite novels in the world, Papillon. And I thought I was the only one that liked the France Gall song included on here - oh boy, I've spent many an indoor night dancing about to "Avant La Bagarre". Love!

Yeah! And if that ain't enough to get you pulling shapes, then I'm afraid I've run out of remedies.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

butcher boy

Hello! So it's been a while again, hasn't it? Oh boy. Well, in the past few weeks, apart from being a lazy non-blog-updating-bee, I've been basking in summertime warmth - seems as though, once again, Brisbane has skipped straight from winter into summer with nary a peep from spring. I'm going to cool down a little by spinning the debut album by Glasgow's Butcher Boy.

There's those mythical club nights all around the world which seem so perfect - dancefloors full of deliciously-dressed people pulling shapes to the best indie pop and sixties soul. There's not too many of them in Australia, but the UK seems to have an abundance. Rising from the ashes of Glasgow's National Pop League (a club night I would have loved to have attended at some point) comes Butcher Boy, who make the type of dark, haunting sounds that make me first think of those other Glaswegians, Aztec Camera. I've heard they play in unusual venues - theatres and such - around Glasgow, and even though I'm yet to visit this city, I could picture these warm sounds emanating from dimly lit caverns on cold, wet nights.

Have a listen to some of the songs from their debut album "Profit Is Your Poetry" on their myspace page - the title song channels the Postcard era and, with the violin, harks back to late 80s Go-Betweens. And, in a nice tie between classic club nights, the album is being released by the brilliant How Does It Feel label, the folk responsible for the best club night in the world ever. No kidding!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

my first mix: single songs

I've finally made my first foray into the world of the digital mix, and I present to you my very first: single songs! I've been a single lady for more than a year now, and while sometimes it gets me down, most of the time I'm too busy being, well, busy and caught up with my own life to worry about it! Here are ten songs which, I think, cover the best and worst parts of being single. If you're in a similar situation to me, or if you're happily coupled, I hope you enjoy!

Download Alex's Single Songs mix here!

1. The Shermans - "Happy Being Lonely" (Casual, Shelflife, 2001)
"...after all, I have a career to think about..."

2. Lush - "Single Girl" (Lovelife, 4AD, 1996)
"...don't want to be in a fight..."

3. The Long Blondes - "My Heart Is Out of Bounds" (Appropriation (By Any Other Name), Angular, 2005)
"...some boys will never have me, it's of no consequence..."

4. Heavenly - "Atta Girl" (Atta Girl, Sarah, 1993)
"...cause i'm not yours, and i never will be now..."

5. Belle & Sebastian - "I Don't Love Anyone (Black Session)" (Black Session, 1998)
"...not even Christmas..."

6. The Shermans - "The Myth of Being Alone" (Casual, Shelflife, 2001)
"...things are not always what they seem..."

7. Biff Bang Pow! - "Love's Going Out Of Fashion" (The Girl Who Runs The Beat Hotel, Creation, 1987)
" mind turns black and blue..."

8. Blueboy - "Boys Don't Matter" (Unisex, Sarah, 1995)
" day, when you need me, i'll still be here..."

9. Free Loan Investments - "Kick His Balls Out" (Ever Been To Mexico?, Shelflife, 2002)
"...he's pushing you around, let him go now..."

10. The Long Blondes - "The Couples" ("Couples", Rough Trade, 2008)
"...these people have the nerve to tell me that they're lonely..."

Monday, August 25, 2008

spinning on alex's stereo: august 08

It's been quite an interesting month around here of late - whether it's spinning on the turntable here in my bedroom, or blasting out through little Coldplay's car stereo, or even serenading me with sounds through my headphones on the train, I've been listening to all manner of new and old and exciting tunes. Yay! Here's five of my picks from the past month...

1. Primal Scream - Beautiful Future

Dreamboat Bobby Gillespie and co. are back, and it sounds like they've turned happy. Weird! Having barely listened to their last album Riot City Blues, I was hesitant to pick this up, but it's actually very very good. Opener 'Beautiful Future' is a chiming slice of pop which makes the band sound like they've never been militant at all, but that's all rectified with 'Can't Go Back'. Meanwhile, 'Zombie Man' completes the 2008 zombie family begun by the Magnetic Fields' 'Zombie Boy' earlier in the year, and the super charming vocals of ex-Concretes singer Victoria Bergsman make several appearances throughout the album. It's all pretty damn catchy, which I guess could be attributed to production by Bjorn Yttling of Peter, Bjorn and John fame, and it certainly makes amends for the last album's awful dirty rock blues. I just can't quite accept Bobby G can be quite this happy...and where's Kate Moss?

2. I Smiled Yesterday #4

Once again, our transcontinental friends from team ISY have compiled an amazing new mix of sixties soul, garage, discordant punk and noisy noisy pop to have you shakin' around like no other. In all honesty, these are the best mixes I've listened to in such a long time - it's opening doors to all these brilliant songs I never knew about and makes me want to find out more, which is what you want from a good mix, right? I looooooooove the Fire Engines song they've included on this one, and I can't get 'Low Grades and High Fever' out of my head. Totally addictive. (Download it here!)

3. My Teenage Stride - Ears Like Golden Bats

I've been listening to this album for quite a few months now, and it has really, really grown on me. Brooklyn's My Teenage Stride play the type of classic soaring pop - you know, 80s guitar line charmers, earnest vocals, songs that just build up and build up and build up until, in the last 60 seconds, the dancefloor's crowded and everyone's found a new favourite band. Really, really good. I'm going to hunt down more of their songs - in particular, new EP Lesser Demons, because if all their songs are as amazing as 'To Live and Die in the Airport Lounge', there shouldn't ever be a reason not to smile.

4. Comet Gain - Casino Classics

It's taken a long time to truly understand why everyone loves Comet Gain to bits. I like them, sure, but I don't think I am quite at the stage where I want to go around telling everyone to listen to them. I was like this with The Jesus and Mary Chain about three years ago, but then the 50c piece dropped and they came crashing down on me like $50 notes of noise and love. Casino Classics might just be the Comet Gain album to do this for me, with its combination of noisy boy songs and cute girly songs. It's lyrics like "you've got those French film eyes" that kill me, they really do. I could spend hours with this album, I think, if I had all those hours to spare.

5. Stereo Total - Do The Bambi

Berlin duo Stereo Total played in Brisbane on Friday night, and oh boy, you want fun? Watch and dance and sing along to Stereo Total. Playing everything from garage rock tracks through to German house and glossy electro pop, they were incredibly, incredibly fun. While I've listened a bit to their latest album Paris Berlin, it's Do The Bambi that wins me over. I was slightly disappointed they didn't play my favourite track, 'I Am Naked', but they did include a few other tracks from this, their 2004 release. Momus loves them, I love them, and so will you!

Saturday, August 23, 2008


Smudge are one of my favourite Australian bands from the 90s - as one of the main bands on Half A Cow (the greatest record label Sydney's ever produced), they won me over with their brilliant album titles, brilliant lyrics (courtesy of sometimes-Lemonhead Tom Morgan) and, of course, their brilliant tunes which went from rockin' pop songs to head-on indie. It's hard to go wrong with a band who write a song called "Mike Love Not War" and have similarly Beach Boys inspired single art to match:

Of course, let's not forget early single "Don't Want to Be Grant McLennan", which, while acting as something of a tribute to The Go-Betweens, didn't impress the now deceased all that much. Tom Morgan also wrote "The Outdoor Type", a song The Lemonheads took to the world, no doubt to many nodding heads. It's one of my favourite songs in the world, with its smart lyrics about really just wanting to stay inside.

The last I heard from them was back in about 1998, with their "Real McCoy, Wrong Sinatra" disc, and, being an impressionable 14 year old at the time, I wanted to learn how to play drums so I could be as cool as Alison Galloway. But, just when I, and many others, had thought they'd gone forever, it turns out their back! And they're playing in Brisbane in October! The worst part about it? Smudge are playing at a truly awful Australian music festival, where most bands represent all that I dislike in Oz music. Dilemma! I don't want to pay $70 for a half-hour Smudge set at 2pm, yet I don't want to miss seeing them. Oh, woe! I might just have to do by listening to 'Manilow' (which you can handily buy, along with much of their back catalogue, from here!).

Sunday, August 17, 2008

cute! pictures + the smittens

Look! I've given my blog a pre-spring clean, with all this exciting new colour and a pretty new title picture, courtesy of the lovely Catherine Insch. Isn't it just the cutest ever? Look at her website and buy some of her paintings because everything she paints is just as cute!

While we're on the topic of cute, I am totally smitten with The Smittens! It's taken me so long but, oh boy, they're my musical equivalent of hot chocolate on these windy August days. Oh, those boy-girl melodies on "Half My Heart Beats" make me smile both inside and outside, and if the video to "Gumdrops" doesn't make you giddy with pop glee, then I don't know what else could!

(It's all thanks to Skatterbrain Matt for linking this one - he's to blame if you can't get this song out of your head for months!)

If you saw them at Indietracks, then I'm really really jealous. I'm trying to order their album through Happy Happy Birthday To Me, but I don't know if I can wait so long. Might just have to try old friend iTunes instead. Ah, it feels good to be Smitten!!

Monday, August 11, 2008

the bell divers

I've noticed some bands spend their entire musical lives trying desperately to sound like their heroes, falling miserably into that horrible limbo of pastiche. Others, however, nail their sound perfectly first time around, channelling the best of their heroes and adding glimmer and polish to their sparkling sound as they progress. The Bell Divers are my favourite Brisbane band at the moment, and they certainly fall into the latter category. Do you like Postcard-era Go Betweens? Those Orange Juice tracks that sound like the ones Roger McGuinn casually left behind in the studio? Everything on The Lucksmiths' "Where Were We?" compilation? Then you'll love every track on June July, their debut album.

Despite being recorded more than a year ago, yesterday marked the official album launch with a splendid afternoon show at The Powerhouse. These afternoon shows really are something to cherish - after the stellar performances by The Motifs and The Crayon Fields a wee while ago, it was a treat to hear more pop on a Sunday afternoon.

While the songs feature guitar lines straight out of the Pop Songbook and warm organ sounds and harmonies to complement, it's Clinton's darkly wry lyrics that stand out against this shining backdrop. One minute he'll be singing about self-harm, the next he'll pull out a line like, "When we pulled in to the shore, he was pulling out of me". And yet, it all works and has this charm about it that almost makes you forget the heartbreak being sung. The set featured a mix of tracks from the album and some newer songs, one of which I think was called "Pinpoint Eyes", sounds brilliant. Please record some of these newer, more upbeat songs because they are just wonderful!

I've had the guitar line from "Fallen Down" stuck in my head since yesterday - it sounds exactly like the perfect pop guitar lick should, and it ain't going nowhere until my mind can tell me where I've heard it before.

Best of all, June July is available for free download here! But really, you should buy the album so you can get David Thorley's terrific artwork in your little hands. Lovely albums like this don't come out of Brisbane too often, and it's a privilege to finally have The Bell Divers playing out of my stereo at last.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

live: the breeders

Some things never seem to date: Clarks Wallabees, playing frisbee in the park on sunny afternoons, white t-shirts, home-cooked roast dinners. You know the things. Same could be said, in music terms, about The Breeders - they've been kicking around now for 20 years or so, and yet, I don't think they will ever be uncool.

The Breeders played in Brisbane on Monday night. Last time they came, back in early 2003, they played at the god-awful Arena - I was 18 and probably the youngest person in the crowd. This time around, the venue was marginally better (The Zoo), and I still felt like the youngest person in the crowd. Goes to show what the kids these days know. I don't know what it is, but Kim Deal still ranks as one of the coolest people around. Forget all these dolled-up girls with their kohl eyes pretending to be the next big rock and roll star - the Deal sisters know where it's at without having to dress like model types.

So, the show sold out weeks ago, and everybody was quite excited. I haven't listened to "Mountain Battles" so I didn't know any of the songs off the album, but that certainly didn't matter. Like it ever matters. Their songs might be short, but they say it all - perfect sister harmonies, perfect noisy melodies, and a casualness that just radiates. Who else could play Guided By Voices and Beatles covers, then slip in old Amps classics and sisterly cackling laughs in between? I think I asked my friend Fergus what the song was when they played "Pacer", because it was such a great pop song. I'm going to have to listen to some Amps now. Of course, some of their other pop gems - "Cannonball" and, my favourite, "Divine Hammer" - made their obligatory appearance and sent everyone into a spin.

This time around there weren't any Pixies covers thrown in, something which didn't disappoint me because I've never been a huge Pixies fan anyway, but they did pull two encores and I left feeling pretty damn delighted.

Saturday, August 2, 2008


You could say I'm going through a bit of a revivalist phase at the moment. Everything I am doing or liking at the moment seems to channel something from the past, be it my own history, cultural scenes or music that's been left behind. Maybe my life is one big revivalist phase, who knows?

Last night I had a tremendous time dancing to 60s French pop at GoMA - if only I could do this all of the time. Sadly, only three of us held the dancefloor for the night, and at its peak about 20 people were dancing away, while the gallery attendees watched on for entertainment value. I was dancing because the music was brilliant and I had a huge amount of space to show off my bedroom dance stylings - if it entertained everyone, well then, glad to be of service. France Gall, Anna Karina, Jacques Dutronc, Michel Polnareff and Marie Laforet all had a spin, plus many more - I'd love to get a hold of the playlist and expand my French pop knowledge.

I think I channelled last night's 60s music feast today when I had my hair cut - it's very much a Mary Quant-esque style, and I love it. I only hope I can style it as well as my lovely Swedish hairdresser did it. Of course, I will never look as lovely as the original:

I also did a spot of record shopping today - for the most part, I didn't manage to find much indie pop, and instead opted for Lesley Gore 7"s, Gainsbourg albums and some new wave hits. However, one gem in the ranks was this delicious find:

Imagine my glee at finding this wonderful Cannanes album! Sure, it was quite pricey, but it's on amazing pink vinyl, it's in perfect condition and it's full of all those brilliant sounds of Sydney in the 80s. I wish Sydney bands were still as good as The Cannanes - all the best Australian bands come from Melbourne these days. This is my first foray into the Cannanes, and oh boy, I think I will probably fall heavily.

Earlier tonight, I also checked back in at Tullycraft HQ to finally hear their version of The Pooh Sticks' "On Tape", which I mentioned a little while ago. It's so good, and all the references have changed - Smittens albums! Darren Hayman solo! Yeah!

I'm off to watch Breakfast at Tiffany's tonight - ABC2's Audrey Hepburn season is enough for anybody to stay at home on Saturday night during these winter months.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

busy, busy times

Oh dear, I have been terrible with the internet of late. Did somebody say busy? Well, that's been me over the past few weeks. I wish I had more time! In the time since my last post, I have bought a bucketload of new skirts at Lush in Melbourne, talked shop with Britpop cats and danced to Adorable at Weekender, listened to Robert Forster discuss McLennan, solo albums and the Brisbane music scene, and witnessed The Legend! in concert. Phew! And, of course, tried to listen to more silly pop songs, but I think I may have failed a little bit on that part. Argh! Anyway, here's a few things I'm particularly excited about.

1. New Pains songs!

Oh my God, if there's a way to make me shout with glee and quiver with delight all at the same time, it's to hear new Pains of Being Pure At Heart tracks. Hell, it's enough for their tracks to come onto my shuffle playlist when I'm about 20 minutes into a heart-attack inducing run at the gym. Go to their Myspace and hear all these amazing new songs - Everything With You! Young Adult Friction! Stay Alive! Arrrrggggh they're all so good! My friend Ari listened to the Slumberland split 7" and told me they sound eighties in a naive, innocent way, rather than the brash fluoro way that so many bands are channelling at the moment. I think it sums the Pains sound up well - like a sweetheart Molly Ringwald character rather than, I don't know, some eighties neon trashpot. I love love love the Pains, and so should you.

2. New albums to listen to!
So there's some albums released recently that I am intrigued to hear - there's the new Primal Scream record, which I am sure will be as much of a cliche as many of their records, but there's something irresistible about Bobby Gillespie that I just can't help but like. Yeah yeah, they're just trying to be the MC5 these days, but I really don't care - Bobby will always be far more relevant to me than all these posing modern British pansy hipsters.

There's also a new All Girl Summer Fun Band record due out in September! It's a bit sad that it won't be released through K Records, and they've lost a member since 2003's "2", but it's set to soundtrack my spring, as the days warm up and I dream about jacarandas and picnics and summertime frolics. Did somebody say relevant? Then surely look no further than Jen Sbragia - what an amazing lady. I wish she and Rose Melberg would get back together and do another Softies album.

And I'm also kinda interested in hearing the Pas/Cal album. I remember hearing about them back in 2003 but I never pursued them further. Earlier this week I was bored at work, reading Pitchfork (something I try to avoid, really) and I read a review of their new album, which piqued my interest. I'm having a listen on Myspace now - sure, it's a bit revivalist, but I think this could grow on me. Besides, their influences are quite smashing, from Scott Walker and Pulp to The Left Banke and Serge Gainsbourg. Interesting!

3. New iPod listenings to fall in love with!

A few months ago, I downloaded the This Is Ivy League album, but sadly I never gave it a proper listen. Now, having made substantial use of the shuffle feature, I have discovered just how amazing they are. Two guys from New York producing the same type of glorious soaring pop gems that takes eight or so of Belle & Sebastian to make - just dreamy! I've happened upon hearing "London Bridges" as I'm walking to work, and it transports me, making me wish the footpaths I'm treading were in a glorious big city of the world, rather than ol' Brisbane. The whole album is full of similar beauties to reaffirm your faith that pretty pop songs can change this world.

I also chanced upon a song called "Tea and Cake" by The Lovelies, which I think came from the excellent I'm Not Always So Stupid blog. There's The Wedding Present, bands who wish they were The Wedding Present, and The Lovelies, who are so damn Wedding Present it made my ears do a double check. But the song is brilliant, with those rambling guitars and crisp English vowels. I'm hooked, but I can't really find out much more - can you help?

My, well that was quite a catch up. I'm awfully excited because tomorrow night I'll be attending Les Idoles: 60s French Pop Night at GoMA, which is sure to be an absolute blast. Je suis la roller girl!

(Oh, and before I forget, I also did karaoke to "Time of The Season" by The Zombies whilst in Melbourne - best ever!!)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

the hollowmen

The ABC's latest satirical comedy, The Hollowmen, debuted last night, and it was a corker of an episode. It's produced by Working Dog productions, who have previously brought the genius of Frontline and The Late Show to Australian viewers, and stars the inimitable Rob Sitch as a political adviser to the Prime Minister. It pinpointed bureaucracy like nothing else - all the buzzwords, shallow phrases, minions copping the blame for the ineptitude of others, etc. I'm hooked. Best of all, you can watch the episodes here!

I knew I'd be watching it without having seen a single episode, though, when I heard The Bats' "North by North" playing during the promos for the show. Turns out it's the theme! Best ever! Now, I've seen Robert Scott play solo, and I've seen Minisnap - when am I going to see the two merge and play a glorious set of their Flying Nun hits? Harrumph. Here's the original film clip for you - what a brilliant song:

Anyway, because I hold Rob Sitch, Tom Gleisner and co. in such high comedic regard, here's some classic Late Show for you, too. Champagne comedy!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


I've always been a bit of a Tullycraft fan, but I would hardly call myself an expert or a huge fan or anything like that. They're certainly not a band I would know all the lyrics to, or even all the songs, if I went along to one of their shows. One thing is for sure, though - they know how to play a damn fine cover version. Picking the best songs to cover is an art in itself, which only the best can nail (c.f. The Aislers Set, Teenage Fanclub), and I think Tullycraft are up there. Their version of "Falling Out of Love (With You)", on the flipside to the Twee 7", was truly wonderful, up there with the original. I'm yet to hear a bad version of that song, which suggests Stephin Merritt wrote a song which can nary be faulted, not even in the worst of hands. That's some achievement!

What's piqued my Tullycraft interest again - apart from hearing "Rumble With The Gang Debs" on the train tonight - is news that Happy Happy Birthday To Me have released a split 7" with Tullycraft and The Smittens as part of their singles club. Unfortunately, I haven't signed up to this, but this little gem of a 7" would be a delight to have in my collection. The Smittens do a cover of "My Boyfriend's Back", which really is one of the most perfect songs to cover, because it's just a timeless piece of music. Tullycraft, however, take it up a notch by taking on The Pooh Sticks' "On Tape" - I'm yet to hear it, but I bet it's a killer, especially with different lyrics. The recent masters of the indie-name-check take on the 80s masters of the indie-name-check - yeah!

Over at HHBTM, there are a bundle of discs and singles I'd like to acquire (Eux Autres, Bearsuit, Boyracer, Cats on Fire...) so I might have to investigate further. Tomorrow's listening, however, will come courtesy of Bored To Hear Your Heart Still Breaks, with Camila's handclap popcast. Best idea ever! Of course, if it wasn't for this delightful blog, I'd have not had reason to investigate this Tullycraft 7" further, so claps all round for being super cute AND informative to boot!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

liechtenstein + a bunch o' fives

Oh dear, I have been a little neglectful of late, owing to a whole load of worker bee busy-ness and a lack of time to trawl the web for new songs to listen to. Can you, dear reader, offer some recommendations to me? I've been meaning to listen to Liechtenstein for quite a while, so I might investigate them a little further and report back. Oh wait, I'm looking at their myspace now and have observed two things already:

1. Their song "Apathy" is enchanting my ears with those glorious harmonies. I could probably listen to this on repeat on a sad night. It's like the Marine Girls, 2008 style!
2. They're selling canvas totes screenprinted with buildings - I think I need one of these!

Alright, well Liechtenstein have converted me already!

Since we're now halfway through the year, I've had a chance to think about some of my favourite releases for 2008 thus far. I am head-over-heels in love with The Lodger's "Life Is Sweet", Je Suis Animal's "Self-Taught Magic From A Book" and Slow Down Tallahassee's "The Beautiful Light" - discovering these three albums alone has made my year all the more delightful. And, even though it's been receiving mixed reviews, I am very much enamoured with The Long Blondes' "Couples" - I can understand why people may have dismissed it after one or two listens, but with repeated listens, it's just smashing.

Here's five other things I'm enjoying right now:

1. Trash Video TV: Best video store ever! Watch these four french new-wave inspired advertisements, featuring all manner of Brisbane identities, and understand why we should all go to Trash for our film requirements and save the shop!

2. The Vivian Girls: I finally understand what all the buzz is about, and boy, it's like honey to my ears. Just amazing. I'm disappointed my copy of the "Wild Eyes" 7" hasn't show up yet - I'm starting to get itchy waiting for the album's re-release. I don't think anybody has a bad thing to say about them, which is just incredible - here's hoping somebody in Australia might release it and get them down here sometime soon!

3. Suede: It's been a while, but I'm revisiting my youth, dreaming about Brett Anderson and Bernard Butler. From the perfection of the first album to the glossy glamour of "Coming Up", I am enjoying every single minute of listening. I'm glossing my lips plastic at the mere thought of listening to "Trash".

4. Patricia Highsmith novels: I don't normally venture into the Crime section of the bookstore, but I'm reading "Ripley's Game" at the moment and I'm well hooked. I'm looking forward to reading "The Talented Mr Ripley" next, but I might go with watching Alain Delon film versions first, then move onto Jude Law, Matt Damon and John Malkovich versions.

5. Northern Soul: Last weekend I attended my first Northern Soul night and had a terrific time watching ex-pat Brits dancing the night away like they were at the Blackpool Mecca all over again. I didn't get up and dance, but I'm going to learn some more and hopefully next month I'll know a few songs.