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!