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.