Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Merry Christmas and all that!

Given by updates this year have been infrequent and poor at best, I felt it best to close out the year with a thank you to those who continue to read my blog whenever I update it. 2009 has been a ridiculously crazy year - two trips to New York, a move to Melbourne, lots of shows + work + travel - and I expect 2010 will be much the same. However, I'm hoping next year I can post more frequently and catch up with all the music I've missed out on over the past 12 months.

I could post a list of my favourite records of the year, but I need only to direct you over here for a summary of everything I've loved this year. Well, that, and the latest El Perro Del Mar record, Love Is Not Pop, which is so exquisite, elegant and full of perfectly subtle instrumentation that it made me feel coarse listening to anything lo-fi and noisy afterwards.

To everyone who has emailed me with music suggestions - thanks for your emails, and I'm sorry I've not responded. I've only just got my emails down from 250+ unread to less than 30, so I'm sorry I've not given your music a chance. Again, here's hoping that will change in the new year.

If you want some suitable summer (or winter) holiday listening, I suggest you make your way over to Fortuna Pop! and download the latest Allo, Darlin' single, The Polaroid Song - it's super pret
ty, and will surely melt all the snow around you if you're in the midst of subzero temperatures. The b-side, "Will You Please Spend New Years With Me?" resonates so well - I love the lyric, "It's embarrassing to think that at 25 I'm not doing something more wild with my life". Never has this felt so true!

Anyway, Merry Christmas and best wishes for 2010! See you in the New Year!

xo Alex

Friday, November 13, 2009

tonight in melbourne!

So if you happen to be hanging around Melbourne and you're contemplating just what you're intending to do on this spooky Friday the 13th, contemplate no more! As tempting as it may be to stay in and watch A Night At The Museum, you should come along to the best indie pop show this side of the Slumberland 20th anniversary shows.

Yup, Melbourne's finest, Summer Cats, finally launch their album Songs For Tuesdays locally! In for the party are The Zebras, The Motifs and, with much anticipation, Bart from The Cat's Miaow will be playing solo! Wahoo! Stick around and dance the night away to the best pop jukebox in town, courtesy of the Long Division DJ team (being yours truly and the super-talented Catherine Insch). 

Sure, we'd all love to be at the Black Cat in DC to dance the night away with Pants Yell!, Brown Recluse, The Ropers and more, but the Slumberland celebrations will more than be kicking on in the antipodes!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

pants yell! - received pronunciation

I've recently arrived back in Australia, and have been confronted by searing 35 degree days and beautiful warming sunshine upon my return. In some ways I miss the chill of the air and the changing leaves that autumn (or fall) brought in the United States, but I'm able to capture the mood with the fifth (and final) album by Boston's Pants Yell!Received Pronunciation.

As one of my favourite bands of recent years, it's an absolute delight to listen to a new record by this trio, whose storytelling lyrics (courtesy of Andrew Churchman), coupled with clean, simple melodies, are at the pinnacle of modern pop. While the album might lack the soaring majesty that strings added to their last record, Alison Statton, there's a certain maturity and all round elegance that embraces this record. I love the simple drumbeat that kicks the record off, on "Frank and Sandy", which to me sounds like it's about parents, rather than hangovers. And it's this crypticism that lives in Andrew's lyrics that makes the band much more endearing - isn't it a much richer experience to listen to the lyrics when they have something to say and comprehend?

Elsewhere, there's scratchy guitars and stop-start rhythms on "Got to Stop", which combines angsty lyrics with some damn fine jangle, and a brilliant shimmer of cymbals across "Someone Loves You". Overall, though, Received Pronunciation might not capture your consciousness from the first listen, but rest assured, like with most good things in the world, time and patience will reward you with more riches than you could imagine. Best of all, buy this record and score yourself the coolest obi strip! 

Buy yourself a copy of Received Pronunciation from our dear friends at Slumberland!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

In Brooklyn

Well, it's been quite a while since I last managed to compose a post, but as I sit here in my hotel room in Brooklyn, I felt it due time for some form of catch-up. I've been in New York for almost two weeks and it's been a whirlwind of crazy fun shows, amazing shopping and the best Halloween party ever. I'm unable to upload photos at the moment, but here's a rundown of highlights thus far:

* The Smith Westerns - four guys in their late teens/early 20s from Chicago - blew me away with their ramshackle noisy pop and declaration that: "all these songs are about love". Even with broken strings and blinding fringes, these guys pulled together one of the most fun sets I've seen in a while.

* At the same show, Still Flyin' brought the hammjamms once again, complete with one Marky Lucksmith on bass. It was interesting to see them outside Australia, but thankfully everyone got dancing as they once again brought the parties. I don't know how people can't have fun at their shows!!

* The following night, My Teenage Stride reincarnated The Wedding Present with their live set at Delancey's - Jed's stage banter was obnoxiously hilarious, and the keyboard player's enthusiasm made me want to dance even more to join in the enjoyment. 

* For Halloween, I dressed as a French mime and danced the night away at Mondo's spooky pop dance party. Singing along to songs when you're supposed to be silent and miming threw a few people off, but I had a killer night on the dancefloor!

I've also been to Boston, Washington DC and Philadelphia, and even won myself $300 on the roulette table in Atlantic City. How's that for luck, eh?!

More to come upon my return to Melbourne, as well as some updates from the past few months. Let me just say, I think El Perro Del Mar has stolen my heart...

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

new beginnings

Here in Australia, it's the first day of spring, and today, moreso than ever, I really felt like it signalled new beginnings. I caught up on work I'd been procrastinating on, did some things I hadn't done in quite a while, and, on my way back from going for a run, rekindled my love of Love Is All. 

It's not like the love needed rekindling as such, but hearing 'Movie Romance', from last year's terrifically schizophrenic A Hundred Things Keep Me Up At Night, filled me with such hope for the season. But why? That rolling guitar line, Josephine's "HA!" at the start followed by the sassiest vocals this side of Kate Jackson, and the shoutiest, catchiest chorus Scandinavia could ever produce:

"I laugh in the face of a movie romance
Because against this, they don't stand a chance"

It's the perfect summation of how everyone's lives should be - fast, fun, to the point, and most of all, full of love that Hollywood could never reproduce. I'm gonna channel this and make my love for Love Is All love for all!

Here's an early version of 'Movie Romance' for you to download, off their Lost Thrills EP! 

Friday, August 28, 2009

live: the lucksmiths, brisbane, 23/08/09

And so it ends: a chapter of my life that began as a 17 year old living in a horrible outer suburb closes, eight years later, on a balmy Brisbane Sunday night, with The Lucksmiths playing their final show to a sold out northern audience. It was a mixed audience: ardent fans who have been at their shows for years stood alongside emerging faces, a new breed who surely wanted to see this band just once before they never could again. 

When the break-up was announced, I was adamant I was going to see them in Brisbane, and I'm glad I made the whirlwind flight back for that one final night at The Zoo, where I'd seen them play countless times before. Part homecoming, part nostalgia trip, but mostly closure, I felt memories flood back of seeing them as an 18 year old in that very room, wearing Belle & Sebastian t-shirts, tartan skirts and knee socks, dancing to a band who helped me discover what it meant to be a pop fan. Years might have passed, but that same joy and sense of discovery still prevailed, as lyrics to songs I've not listened to for years were automatically recalled. 

My tapping toes never missed a beat, despite shoes that kept slipping off my dancing feet - one final dance to "Untidy Towns", "Smokers In Love", "T-Shirt Weather", "Under The Rotunda", et al. and the smile couldn't be wiped from my face. Hearing "Frisbee" played live for the first and last time was such a highlight, as were the closing numbers - "The Year of Driving Languorously" for the main set, and "The Music From Next Door" on the encore.  They might not have played my favourite song, "The Golden Age of Aviation", but I didn't mind at all - after two hours of The Lucksmiths and every other golden melody they've crafted, and I felt well satisfied. Pop fans around the world will miss their charm, wit and personality, and I feel incredibly lucky to have seen them play so often over the last eight years.

I didn't take any photographs, unfortunately, because I was much too busy dancing and cherishing the moment. A picture can't recreate the feeling of listening to their songs and reflecting back on all those shows.

I have the opportunity attend one of their final shows in Melbourne this weekend, but I am entirely torn by this. On the one hand, I'd love to hear their songs emanating live one final time, but my memory of the Brisbane show is just so complete that I am satisfied if I don't get to see them again. I don't want to spoil those thoughts by attending a show with an unfamiliar crowd, without that warmth that came from seeing them with those I know. 

Goodbye Lucksmiths - you've shown me such a great time, and your memories and songs will continue to burn strong!

Slumberland love + Brown Recluse

There's not much point repeating at length what multiple others have already said so succinctly, but it's all true - as Slumberland continues to fire out incredible records at alarming regularity, it's difficult to comprehend how 2009 would have sounded without its seal of quality across the pop landscape. I'm entirely addicted - from the soaring modern tribute to my favourite girl bands on Liechtenstein's Survival Strategies In A Modern World, to the shimmering spunk of the Champagne Socialists 7", I could almost live without any other record label in the world right now. And don't even get me started on how much I love Cause Co-Motion - honestly, my love of this band's shambolic crashing punk deserves far, far more than a passing mention.

My next Slumberland order will load up my virtual trolley with the new Searching For The Now singles, loads of new Pains vinyl(including the 'Come Saturday' 7", featuring 'Side Ponytail' on the b-side - at last!), and a beautiful 12" from Philadelphia's Brown Recluse. Called The Soft Skin, the cover of this EP instantly conjures up comparisons to other records featuring captivating eye close ups - certainly The La's and The 6ths both instantly spring to mind.

Given the beauty apparent in both of those records, both on the cover and in the sounds, it's impossible to comprehend Brown Recluse sounding any different. Thankfully, I am not disappointed - it's all hazy melodies infused with horns, harmonies, and a deep love of the best of sixties music and beyond. It's like a perfect update to the sound heard around Arab Strap era Belle & Sebastian, with further influences like Os Mutantes and The Zombies ever present. It's so timeless, yet seemingly so relevant and fresh - perfect clarity of vision and sound in amongst a sea of bands producing lo-fi, crashing, noisy pop. Brown Recluse are the sound of a late summer's day, a bright autumn morning, a springtime Saturday at noon, or a late winter's night in a warm room. When a band can span seasons, you know they are worth treasuring, and I really do treasure having Brown Recluse's sounds in my life.

Listen more and buy yourself a copy here.

Monday, August 24, 2009

the pastels & tenniscoats

At last, I am back with a functioning computer and a night at home. Oh for small joys! And what better way to spend a chilly and wet Monday evening than listening to a cover of The Jesus and Mary Chain's 'About You', as covered by The Pastels and Tenniscoats! What a combination. You can take a listen for yourself right here.

Tenniscoats have been to Australia on a couple of occasions, and I've unfortunately missed out on seeing them each time - on their last tour in February this year, I happened to organise a little club night for myself on the same night they played in town. Such poor timing! I hope the next time they play, they can bring along some fine Scots and play songs off their bound-to-be-fine collaboration record, Two Sunsets. You and I will be able to garner ourselves copies from Domino and Geographic from September 22.

Meanwhile, speaking of Stephen Pastel (surely still one of the dreamiest men in every pop girl's lust list), here's some words of wisdom taken from a Pitchfork interview*:

I like a lot of the music coming out of America recently, like Ducktails, Real Estate, and Crystal Stilts. I heard about Real Estate because we've got a record shop in Glasgow and one of the people who works there told us about them. They reminded me of Orange Juice and Pavement, but they really have their own identity, too.

I think there's a real coherent thread from Swell Maps and Television Personalities through to things like Blank Dogs, caUSE co-MOTION!, Vivian Girls, and the Pains of Being Pure at Heart. Listening to new bands, I get a sense of déjà vu-- and not always in a good way. But if the Pastels were still trying to play the kind of music we played in 1985 or 1986, I would probably feel more territorial-- but then I'd only have myself to blame.

I found this quite an interesting comment, given I've had a few conversations recently about originality vs derivation in a lot of current bands. My take? I love the sound, so I don't mind if a band wants to blatantly rip off the past, but I can understand why certain bands are disliked for being a direct replica. But I tend to think I always prefer going back to the original bands to hear what it was like the first time around...

* Urgh, two Pitchfork links in a single entry? Sorry. Not intentional.

Friday, August 7, 2009

brief hiatus

I've had to take a bit of a break from updates - my laptop is currently sitting idle on my floor, with a screen that doesn't want to switch on, and I've just been through one of the busiest phases of my life (ten flights over the past month, anyone?). But, I've had some incredible experiences of late, and have listened to records that have taken my breath away. Once I get back online, I really hope to share these with you. Stay tuned...

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Summer Cats - Songs For Tuesdays

Since moving to Melbourne, I've felt so fortunate at being able to see Summer Cats play quite regularly. But now, with the release of their debut album, Songs For Tuesdays, I feel even luckier, because I know how jealous the rest of the world will be after hearing these 13 brilliant pop songs! Released via Slumberland on July 14, Songs For Tuesdays looks set to dominate the speakers of summer dancefloors in the north, winter bedrooms in the south and best of 2009 lists worldwide. 

I'm so enamoured by every track on the album - from blistering opener "Let's Go", sharing stories about various places to visit around Melbourne and beyond, through to the boy-girl duet "In June", which reminds me so much of The Hummingbirds with its amazing jangling guitars. A slowed-down version of 'Wild Rice' appears (after first appearing on 2007's Scratching Post EP), as does last year's Cloudberry single, 'Lonely Planet'. Scott Stevens surely ranks as one of the best vocalists in indiepop at present, and with squalling guitars and motorik keys to boot, it all sums to a perfectly formed collection of some of the finest pop going round.

And lest I forget the artwork - the artwork! With all those flowers and birds and felt tip colours, I want it to be summer already. It's the perfect embodiment of that summer feeling that Summer Cats capture so well in their sound.  

Download 'Hey You' as a taste of the album - if it doesn't leave you wanting to hear more and more and more, then um, I don't know what to do. So good!

the cavalcade

I've spent the past couple of weeks being exceptionally busy (nothing new there) and showing the lovely Kris around Melbourne. It's been fun! We've been record shopping, seeing excellent bands (including The Motifs and a new Melbourne discovery, Pop Singles) and spinning the best songs anybody would ever want to hear. But now, as Kris flies back to Sweden, I have returned to Brisbane for a couple of weeks of work, but also some relaxation and use of fast internet once again. Oh for small joys!

As part of this fast internet utilisation, I'm going to listen to all manner of bands I've been meaning to listen to. Bands such as The Cavalcade, who hail from Preston, in northwestern England and sound like they've stepped straight off a Blueboy b-side. 

Bruce recommended these guys to me a few weeks ago, and I'm glad I've followed up, because I could listen to these beautiful pop songs all evening long. Craig Phillips's vocals come from the school of singing that Swedish indiepop bands have mastered so well - earnest harmonies that reinforce the heartfelt emotions from the soaring, clear guitar lines. If any one of the tracks playing on their myspace page were to be included on a mixtape, I'd instantly have assumed it was a lost eighties indie band. Their love of classic indiepop is evident - the guitars unmistakably pay tribute to Maurice Deebank, and the melodies come courtesy of an education rich in The Sea Urchins and The Field Mice. What is not to love?

Best of all, you can secure yourself some fine recordings from The Cavalcade courtesy of both Cloudberry Records (a split 3" with Boa Constrictor, featuring the lovely 'Meet You In The Rain'), as well as directly from the band! Their debut EP can be ordered via Paypal - just drop them a message via myspace, and full listening contentment awaits. 

Saturday, June 20, 2009

moped girls

Blimey, I feel like I have been in hiding for months - I bury my head in work for a few weeks and all of a sudden there's a million bands I need to listen to, and new releases from bands I adore that I didn't even realise were out!

Take the Vivian Girls, for example - I hardly even realised they had released a new 7" recently! 'Moped Girls' continues with the same casually noisy insouciance that has come to define these three Brooklyn girls. Reggie the cat is a pretty cool addition to the film clip, too.

Released on For Us, you can buy yourself a copy of 'Moped Girls' here.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

two killer shows...

There are two amazing shows coming up in the next week*, half a world away from each other, which you should be attending if you are even remotely nearby either of these two cities!

If you are located near the Whitest Suburb in Melbourne, like me, head to the Old Bar on Johnston Street for a ridiculously good night of pop. Mid-State Orange! Last Summer Cats show before they embark on USA domination! First Motifs show since they conquered Europe! I'm prepping my dancing shoes already.

Of course, if you want to make me cry, you will be attending this:

Clearly, any show containing three of my favourite bands from the past 12 months or so has to be incredible, but this is seriously beyond belief. Far out, I could see just ONE of those bands, I'd be delirious, but with that line up AND with Twee as Fuck AND Kevin from WYR? spinning discs, I couldn't think of anything better right now, especially when all I seem do these days is listen to Cause Co-Motion on repeat.

I think this is what you call mega New York jealousy (and mega, mega heartbreak).

* I'm sure there's definitely more than two amazing shows coming up in the next week, but these are clearly the only two I really, really care about. If you know of others that will make me exceedingly jealous, please feel free to tell me about them and I will no doubt take a photo of myself weeping with extreme jealousy.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

tuesday night catch up #3: thieves like us

OK, last one for the night. When I was about 18 or so, Shelflife Records was one of my favourite record labels, releasing records by the likes of the Acid House Kings, The Shermans and the Free Loan Investments that swept my late teenage heart away in a shimmering sea of pop music. Those fine folk behind Shelflife have made a killer resurgence recently, and one of their latest, from Thieves Like Us, shows what Midas touch this label has. 

Shy, crushworthy lyrics combined with synths straight out of early 80s northern England deliver 'Really Like To See You Again' straight into your consciousness, Express Post style. It's the perfect 11pm track, when you've just eyed up the cute boy or girl over the other side of the dancefloor, but you don't want to sidle up too soon. You know you'll head over when they start playing The Smiths or Pet Shop Boys at 2am. You know what I mean. 

The four tracks on this 12" EP will all make you want to shimmer rather than shake on the dancefloor, and, with a mere 500 copies pressed, you'd be hard pressed to find a more glamorous release for your next discotheque. 

Buy 'Really Like To See You Again' from Shelflife here.

tuesday night catch up #2: pocketbooks

If you can't already tell, I have once again been super busy and am becoming more and more infrequent at this blogging business. It's awful, especially when there is so much to listen to and I'm stuck doing work (and watching Master Chef, uh oh) all the time. Gah! Hence, I am spending my Tuesday night catching up on everything great of late.

Anyway, some of my favourite blogs have already written about this, and I'm going to do the same - London's Pocketbooks will be releasing their new single, "Footsteps", via iTunes on June 15. It's a super little love song that will get your shoes shuffling straight away. Then, in July, the brilliant How Does It Feel To Be Loved? label will be releasing their debut record, Flight Paths, which I highly recommend for you to purchase, because it will add some extra sunshine to your summer or brighten those misty winter mornings, if you'll be spending your July hibernating indoors from the cold like me.

You can get your feet shuffling along already by downloading 'Footsteps' here!

tuesday night catch up #1: music that i like

Well, I guess you can gather what I like from reading my blog, but Music That I Like is the name of Everett True's excellent new blog, featuring many of his archived musings from Plan B as well as, hmm, a couple of new rants and raves. Mostly raves, though - who wants to write rants all the time? Not me.

In particular, you should read his interview with the beautiful, tragic Ronnie Spector. I wouldn't know what to say to her - I would just want her to sing.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

hefner recollections

While I was out and about today, I found a copy of Hefner's excellent We Love The City on LP from Heartland Records. Upon arriving home, those opening lyrics to the title track brought back a flood of memories:

This is London, not Antarctica, so why don't the tubes run all night?
You are my girlfriend, not Molly Ringwald, so why won't you stay here tonight?

It's made me realise that Hefner are a band which I associate so many fond memories with. Of course, the aforemention
ed song's chorus of, We love the city, because it lets us down, rang particularly true for me back in Brisbane, even if the song was about how depressing London can be, but it's but one of many Hefner tracks which have struck me for many different reasons across many stages of my life. 

The Fidelity Wars
This was the first Hefner album I ever purchased, in 2000 from Red Eye Records in Sydney whilst on holiday down there. I was in year 11 at the time and became interested in the band after reading about them in Select. Upon hearing 'The Hymn For The Cigarettes' for the first time, I was even more hooked. Darren Hayman's terrific lyrics inspired the budding writer in me - all that angst mixed with sadness and
 rejection. At the time I had no hope of meeting anybody who I could sh
are this with, so it has been great to talk about Hefner with other fans at various points.

We Love The City
This was given to me by one of my favourite people in the w
orld, Lina, on my first trip to Sweden in 2003. I spied it in her CD collection, got super jealous, then became ecstatic when she so kindly gave it to me at the end of my visit. I remember listening to the title track for the first time when I did hit London, and never had it felt so right. Last year at my first How Does It Feel To Be Loved?, I was super excited to dance to 'The Day That Thatcher Dies' - such fun! 

Boxing Hefner
I only bought this recently, from an indiepop listee off ebay. To be honest, I haven't listened to it all that much, but I really wanted a copy so I could have 'Christian Girls' on CD. What a song! I only heard this for the first time last year (shameful!) when the lovely Andrew from Pants Yell! put it on a really excellent mix for me. Great song, and I am sure, a great collection of other tracks for me to soon fall in love with.

worst single cover ever?

Everything But The Girl - 'These Early Days' (Blanco Y Negro, 1988)

Bought today for about $2 from Dixons on Brunswick Street. The song isn't too bad, but cripes, what a photo! 

Friday, May 29, 2009

all my dreams have come true

Last night I received a text from my friend Andy, telling me about an Anna Karina retrospective at this year's Melbourne International Film Festival. That was enough to make me squeal with excitement, but upon further investigation at work this morning, it turns out Anna will be a SPECIAL GUEST at this year's event!! My heart beat 100 times faster upon this news - my favourite actress of all will be here, and I may have but an opportunity to see her in person! It's all my dreams come true - I adore her films and if I could be half as beautiful as her, I'd be more than happy. There's one scene in Vivre Sa Vie, where she measures her height from head to toe using handspans, and it's possibly one of my favourite moments in cinema ever. Just phenomenal. 

The retrospective will be brilliant - aside from screening Alphaville, the Godard film that intrigues me the most each time I watch it, the festival will also be screening Serge Gainsbourg's 1967 musical Anna, which I've never seen in full, just snippets of on Youtube. Also screening are two of her directorial efforts, which I'll be most intrigued to watch. As well as the Anna films, there's a documentary about Cindy Sherman, another about Joe Dallessandro, and one about Vogue and Anna Wintour! Is this not the perfect winter line-up of films? Cinematic heaven, that's for sure.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

fond farewells: the lucksmiths + plan b

It's awfully hard to say goodbye, don't you think? It was hard saying goodbye to my friends in Brisbane when I left, despite knowing they were but a two hour flight and a ten minute phone call away, and it was even harder to say goodbye to friends in London and Sweden when I travelled last year, knowing I wouldn't see them for far, far too long. But, with a brave smile and an occasional tear, we bid our goodbyes, holding in hope the future brings far brighter prospects.

The Lucksmiths have arguably been my favourite Australian band since about 2001, and they've recently announced their break-up after a final farewell tour of Australia. In some respects, I have thought this was on the cards for the last couple of years, but the news is always hardest once it hits. I could offer a million stories about The Lucksmiths, each one of them cloaked in its own fond memory for me of being young and brimming with excitement about a pop band who made me smile with their witty lyrics and grin even wider with melodies like sunshine. 

I can still remember buying Why That Doesn't Surprise Me back in late 2001 or early 2002 and falling in love instantly, as Tali White's vocals on 'Music To Hold Hands To' serenaded me: 

I could never understand you, hating music to hold hands to
Sometimes something you can dance to is the last thing that you need

Even now, living in the heart of Lucksmiths territory, I understand the lyrics so much better: I feel like going visiting this even, across the rooftops of North Carlton while the suburb is asleep.

I could write for hours and hours about The Lucksmiths - meeting cute boys in Belle & Sebastian shirts at their Brisbane shows, being unimaginably excited at hearing 'The Golden Age of Aviation' played live, seeing which brilliant pop band from Europe or America they'd brought on tour with them this time (without The Lucksmiths, I would not have seen The Ladybug Transistor nor Pipas play). Dancing at their shows was one of the most satisfying experiences ever - just about without fail, every Brisbane Luckies show would feature Catherine, Akiko and I dancing like crazy up the front, without a damn for any naysayers or poseurs. We loved the songs and dancing at their shows felt more irresistable than anything. Even if I tried to stand still, I couldn't do it.

I'll be travelling back to Brisbane for their final show - it wouldn't be right to see my final Luckies show here in Melbourne, having seen pretty much every one of their Brisbane shows since I was seventeen. I'll miss their presence, that's for sure, and I'll miss those incredible one liners.

- - - - - 

On another sad note, the June issue of English music magazine Plan B will be its last. Being a brief contributor to the amazing writing and bands featured in this magazine over the past six months has been an incredible honour, and I feel so lucky to have had an opportunity to write and share my love of bands in such an amazing medium. Can there be another magazine to take its place, or has the internet killed off any further hopes for high quality magazines with a high standard of writing? I surely hope not. 

Thursday, May 21, 2009


Dreamdate are my new favourite band right now. They're two best friends, Yea-Ming and Anna, from California who studied music together and now make some of the sweetest, most infectious little pop sherbets going around. Their second album Patience is full of songs that sound like the perfect combination of 90s "cuddlecore" and that period when K Records knocked out Tiger Trap and other girly bands with the right combination of punk and sweet pop sensibilities. My favourite track is "8 Sleeves" - after two listens, its catchy chorus wouldn't shift out of my mind. The whole album is so deceptively simple, but I bet it takes such effort to write such pretty, easygoing songs - Dreamdate sure have succeeded here.

What I love most is the vocals - harmonies straight from The Softies songbook, and a sound that makes me want to listen to Slumber Party's Psychedelicate in tandem. You know, those sort of deep, husky vocals that warm you like hot chocolate and tickle you like feathers sweeping along your arm. I feel like a cozy sweater hearing beautiful harmonies on tracks such as "Tables" and title track "Patience", all wrapped up in acoustics and sweet oooohs.

Best of all, it shows how much promise Portland's Skywriting Records has - after releasing the excellent Cloetta Paris record last year (who I fell hard for), it's another success for this burgeoning pop label.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

somewhere in china

It hardly feels like I am, but I am flying to China tonight on a "business trip" - I'll be spending the next week looking at fruit fields and packaging factories. Crazy? Indeed! I'm very excited, and also quite nervous about the prospect, having never been there before. In honour, here's an excellent Shop Assistants clip from BBC Scotland. I wish there were more TV shows for bands to play on these days - I used to love seeing touring bands play in specially-designed sets for them, then have awkward interviews afterwards.

P.s. Saw two Cannanes-related bands at the Old Bar in Fitzroy last night - Ashtray Boy (who hadn't played in about two years) and New Estate. Lucky me! New Estate attract a most ardent following - people in the crowd brought their own shakers to add to the rhythm section. Dedication, that's for sure.

Monday, May 4, 2009

the aislers set peel session

Like many, The Aislers Set rank as one of my favourite, favourite bands - their songs are just perfect, and Linton's lyrics are so complex, so thoughtful, so very very interesting. I could listen to The Last Match over and over and never tire of it.

About a month ago, their Peel Session from 2003 was posted on their Myspace page, and I've spent the afternoon relistening to these five wonderful cuts, complete with John Peel's brilliant commentary. I especially love his comments at the end of 'Long Division':

"If you were in one of your difficult moods, you could probably argue that there are lots of bands making that sort of noise, particularly in the United States of America, and you'd say, 'Why are the Aislers Set better than any of the others?'. And I'd have to say, 'Well, I don't really know - they just sort of are."

Rarely has a statement been so true! These songs possess that magic that's present in all their songs - spontaneous, yet so well versed; simple, yet layered with that rich organ and trumpet that lift their songs above all else. The Joy Division cover is brilliant, too!! Linton's blog entry about the recording is also great reading. Oh, it's making me nostalgic now - when, oh when will they make another record?

Sunday, May 3, 2009

video time!

Oooh, Youtube is wonderful, don't you think? Especially when you can dive in and watch all manner of film clips. Take these two gems - enjoy!

1. Liechtenstein performing 'Everything's For Sale' in Glasgow! Thanks to Adam, aka Last.fm's mintybees for this clip - incredible, ain't it?

2. The Pains of Being Pure At Heart's video for 'Young Adult Friction' - killer song, and a super cool video to match. The delicious red 7" for this song arrived in the mail last week - well worth snapping up, as ever.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Revolving Paint Dream

Wow, how come I've not discovered The Revolving Paint Dream until now? Perfect 60s psychedelic pop, reinterpreted in inimitable early Creation records style. It seems like the Creation back catalogue just wants to keep on delivering a car boot full of new discoveries for me, and the collector in me wants to have them all.

Have a read of The Beautiful Music's introduction to Revolving Paint Dream, and download the two tracks they have available - I want to don some paisley and grow my fringe even longer as a result of listening to "Flowers In The Sky" and "Green Sea Blue". What a great blog, too - I think I'll be reading it quite often now!

Buy Flowers In The Sky: The Enigma of The Revolving Paint Dream at Cherry Red.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Camera Obscura - My Maudlin Career

I am back in Brisbane for the moment, working terribly hard, seeing friends at every opportunity and catching up with my mum. After work on Friday night, I reacquainted myself with some of my favourite shops in the city - I bought myself some great records at Egg Records, a beautiful A.P.C. skirt from Apartment (I would have an entire wardrobe of A.P.C. if I could), and a copy of Camera Obscura's fourth album, My Maudlin Career, from Rockinghorse.

I've listened to the album three times now, and once again I'm in love with these Glaswegians, who resurrect the finest Northern Soul and sixties heartbreak to create achingly pretty songs of love and despair. Opener "French Navy" introduces their hallmark sound once again with a tale of falling in love with a traveller, leading into ten more songs which veer from the solemn to the soul-shakin', new stories shared with each track. My Maudlin Career isn't a huge departure from Camera Obscura's established sound, but then again, when the sound is as finely honed and sensational as this, there's little need to tinker with the recipe.

Tracyanne Campbell's vocals are as rich as ever - since I've already stolen her haircut, I wonder how I can steal her voice and songwriting talent? I think I may need to steal this look of Tracyanne's, too - divine.

As the title track came on in the car yesterday afternoon, my friends all commented, "Who is this? It's so pretty!" Play this to anyone, Camera Obscura fan or not, and you'll no doubt win them over with the soaring nature of the piano, the arrangements, everything. It's like a fine meal at an excellent restaurant - rich, but not overpowering, exceptional quality and leaves you feeling satisfied and wanting more.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Record Store Day

Given that:
a. Yesterday was Record Store Day; and,
b. I have not been record shopping for a long time,

it made perfect sense that I should head out and support some record stores here in Melbourne by partaking in one of my favourite activities in the world! With Knock Yr Socks Off Scott as my guide and Belle & Sebastian playing on the iPhone stereo, I was introduced to some new record stores and hauled quite the bounty!

The Modern Lovers - The Modern Lovers (80s Beserkley reissue)
The Steinbecks - The Steinbecks (Drive-In Records)
The Waitresses - Wasn't Tomorrow Wonderful?
Siouxsie and the Banshees - Once Upon A Time/The Singles
The Triffids - Love In Bright Landscapes (an excellent compilation of Triffids tracks from 83-85, and includes a couple of my personal favourites, including "Red Pony" and "Property Is Condemned".)
Bruce Springsteen - Born In The USA (OK, this one was $5, then with 20% off at Record Paradise, I figured I could buy it for all of four smackers.)

Amelia Fletcher - "Can You Keep A Secret?" (Fierce, 1991) - I was exceptionally excited to find this!! In all honesty, I quite like the A-side, but, um, it's quite hard to tolerate hearing a dance version of "Wrap My Arms Around Him". Argh!
Hurrah! - "Hip-Hip Flowers" (Kitchenware)
Orange Juice - "I Can't Help Myself" (On "Holden Caulfield Universal")
Meat Whiplash - "Don't Slip Up"/"Here It Comes" (Creation, 1985) - I have never seen this single anywhere before, and Licorice Pie had two copies there.
Saint Etienne - "Hobart Paving"/"Who Do You Think You Are" double A-side (Heavenly, 1993) - two of my favourite Saint Etienne songs, together on the one single.
Honeybunch - "Hey Blue Sky!" (Bus Stop, 1989) - Melbourne seems to be the place to find Honeybunch singles. I'm certainly not complaining!
Shockheaded Peters - "I, Bloodbrother Be" (El, 1984)
Bill Wyman - "(Si Si) Je Suis Un Rock Star" (A&M Records, 1981)
Patti Smith Group - "Because The Night" (Arista, 1978)

Licorice Pie in Prahran is one of the best record stores around, and my visit there was long overdue. Almost all these records came from there, and even then I had to leave some behind - most notably, a copy of the Television Personalities' The Painted Word. Since I already have the Vinyl Japan CD re-issue of it, I couldn't really justify it. Also, might I note that they had a copy of Bad Dream Fancy Dress's Choirboys Gas on LP, which I promptly made Scott buy, as it is one of the best El records releases. I'd have snapped it up myself!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

cheap red

Hi Internet, I am alive but have been more than insanely busy of late. Work, travel, work, etc. Busier than I've ever been in my life. Which has meant that it's taken me until this afternoon to listen to Stewart Boyracer's new band, Cheap Red. It seems like all the right people have been saying good things about this band, and deservedly so - the songs are sweet, noisy, lo-fi and instantly loveable. Combining the talents of Stewart and Jen from Boyracer with Akina and Arland from Kanda, I can't wait to hear their debut double CD - one disc of the originals and another of remixes. What a way to step out into the world!

I'll admit my ignorance and say that I've never heard Kanda, but given this endorsement, I'll make sure I hunt them down after this.

Also, 555 has a re-issue of Boyracer's Happenstance available for you to add to your collection! Limited to 100 copies, you should grow your Boyracer collection. I added Boyfuckingracer to mine the other week, and it's the type of noisy noisy noise we all love about Boyracer.

Buy 555 Recordings here!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

the softies

I am gazing out my bedroom window, with the late afternoon blue sky peeking through the speckled leaves of the big tree next door and The Softies playing from my computer, and I am thinking, "Can things be any prettier than this?" The answer is, well, no doubt, but this sure comes close.

This afternoon I picked up their self-titled second album, released on Slumberland in 1996, from Dixon's on Brunswick Street - a man was in there selling it, and I bought it directly from him. A winning trade - he has the 10" at home, and I didn't have it at all. Being in such a good mood today, the sweet sweet harmonies of beautiful Rose Melberg and Jen Sbragia complement my late afternoon peacefulness so well.

Generally, I'm not too much of a fan of girls with acoustic guitars and little else. But The Softies? Their songs are so delicate, the lyrics full of wistful imagery, the harmonies so pretty and, well, soft. I want to wrap myself in these songs on a cold winter's day, and I want to take them to the park when the sun is out and let the sunshine brighten the songs even more. Rose Melberg is one of my musical idols, and these songs illustrate her songwriting craft so well. Just magical.

My favourite Softies track of all is 'The Best Days'. Released as a 7" on K Records, it's one of the most magical songs about love and friendship I know. The lyrics are 24-carat-gold special - "You hid your smile with one hand, and with the other you held mine." My heart melts at the mere thought of this, and reaffirms my love of the world. How many songs do you know that you want to cherish and hold close like that?

Buy yourself some Softies magic over at K Records.

4 bonjour's parties

On Friday night, my friend Andy invited me to see Robyn Hitchcock & The Venus 3. Even though I've never listened to The Soft Boys or his solo work, I still enjoyed the show, particularly his very British stage banter between songs ("the colour would be...invisible").

Whilst waiting for his set to begin, I was introduced to all manner of Japanese pop groups via videos on a mobile phone. Watching the Japanese equivalent of Kylie Minogue, Shiina Ringo, dressed in a nurse uniform, singing through a loudspeaker, amongst other videos, certainly made for a novel experience. It then made me think about other Japanese bands I like. It shamed me that I came up with a list of less than five Japanese bands I've really listened to, when there must be a huge number out there waiting for me to discover.

On my quest to hear more, I came across 4 Bonjour's Parties, a Tokyo collective who recently visited these shores supporting Her Space Holiday. It's a shame I didn't get to see them (they didn't make it to Brisbane, grrrr), because their sweeping melodies and shy vocals, with brass rising in the background, would have won me in an instant. I'm particularly sold on the song 'Satellite', which reminds me of the opening track to The Bank Holidays' album As A Film from last year, except with cute boy Japanese vocals instead of cute West Australian girl vocals. As the song soars along, it moves into a territory that fellow West Australian group Institut Polaire have now mastered so well. Perhaps 4 Bonjour's Parties have some special kinship with Western Australia? Hmmm.

It's no wonder, too, that 4 Bonjour's Parties are friends with The Motifs and have a release through the same record label, Lost In Found - both have a wonderful winsome charm that calls you back for more and more. In fact, in listening to some of the songs by the band Lost In Found itself on their myspace page, I think I may have found another band to fall for. With $650 return flights to Japan on offer at the moment, perhaps this is a portent for a new love affair with Japan.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

melbourne outing #1: dick diver

So far, in this first week of mine in Melbourne, I've ventured out to two shows, one of which was a Wednesday night residency at the Tote in Collingwood by Dick Diver. Throughout March, these three boys (two of whom are called Al) and a girl have held a Wednesday night residency, and it's a shame I've only been able to go along now. I caught this week's show, where they played with the gorgeous Motifs, amongst others. Having never heard of them previously, I had no expectations, but really quite enjoyed their laidback, college radio indie, Malkmus fringes and all. There's a certain New Zealand sound in there, too, adding that glimmering golden tinge to the frayed edge of their sound. Plus, their drummer Steph hits the skins like only the best girl drummers can, injecting additional emotion and rhythm into what may have become an overtly boyish sound. Sadly, I'll be in Sydney for the final night of their residency, but I'll make sure to see them at some of their upcoming shows.

in melbourne

It's been less than a week, but I am now almost settled into my new surrounds in Melbourne. The sun is shining, dogs are running freely around the nearby gardens with their owners, and I'm walking and driving around, learning my way around this new city which will now be my home for...I'm not sure how long.

The great novelty of my move from Brisbane to Melbourne? I can see bands almost every night of the week! Not just that, but I can have my pick of shows to attend, spread across various parts of the city, and invariably see something that piques my attention or makes me fall in love. AND, if they're in my local area, I can walk to the venue! I'm in a town where the wonderful Motifs play regularly (make sure you see them on their upcoming European adventure) and where pop bands may just come creeping out of the woodwork. A town where record stores hold Laughing Apple 7"s to tempt me and shoe shops scream out for my cash for pretty brogues and boots. Sigh. There's been some hiccups, but it will smooth itself out.

Ah, Melbourne. My heart still lies firmly in Brisbane, but Melbourne, you can show me a good time for now.

Monday, March 9, 2009

new ISY!

Yay, there's a new I Smiled Yesterday podcast to listen to over at Slumberland! Go go go go listen! I'll be listening to this as I fly to Sydney this morning for work - it'll make the hour and a half flight pass by all the more easily.

(Brief update: I am in the middle of relocating to Melbourne, and it's stressing me beyond belief. Expect erratic posting for the next wee while, then a whole lot of posting about how much fun my new city is. Argh!)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

london popfest!

More "if you are in London, make me exceptionally jealous" spambot posting from me. Two words: London Popfest. Go go go go go!

This Thursday night I'll no doubt be at home here in the outer suburbs of Brisbane, drinking tea and learning something scientific on the ABC. I know I'd much, much rather be here:

Nothing - read, nothing - could beat this show right about now. And all for a measly six quid!

As for Saturday? Well, find me at Toni + Guy having my hair done, but think of my spiritual pop apparition sinking pints and dancing away all day at Saturday's all-dayer, as headlined by the mighty Comet Gain.

Amazing, amazing posters. Not content with these two amazing shows, there's also Tender Trap on Friday night AND Julian Henry, Harvey Williams and Gregory Webster on Sunday. Incredible!

To the popfest organisers: many, many hand-claps and high fives for organising such a terrific festival. Have a great weekend, London popkids!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

new from my old favourites: saint etienne + camera obscura

It's always reassuring to know that, in amongst all these wonderful new bands, old favourites can still pull out gems to make one look back, smile, then look forward and smile even more. I tend to anticipate new songs by old favourites because they draw me back to old tracks I might not have listened to all that much, while also drawing forth new excitement at glossy new tunes to fawn over. Cases in point: Saint Etienne and Camera Obscura.

Saint Etienne have returned to shimmering disco form with "Method of Modern Love", which you can stream from their Myspace page. I'll admit, I haven't really listened to many Saint Etienne releases since 1998's Good Humour, and why they feel the need to release new best-of compilations when Too Young To Die serves as the most perfect artefact of their luminous early singles beguiles me. Anyway, I might have to revisit my views after this, because this song makes me want to don some lurex and glitter eyeshadow and swan my way across electro dancefloors everywhere. Not only does Sarah Cracknell remain one of the most beautiful women in modern music, but her gorgeous vocals never fail to sweep me away. As a 13-year-old suburban Queensland girl, I could but dream of looking as glamorous as Sarah in her long, sweeping fur coat in 'The Bad Photographer' film clip. Years later, I'm still envying her timeless disco glamour.

Not content to send my hazel eyes green, I also observed this on Saint Etienne's news page:

If you are in any of these cities, make me incredibly jealous and attend this show. Look, Lawrence is supporting, too! What, oh, what could be better than this? Nothing, nothing, nothing! It would be amazing to hear 'Carnt Sleep' and 'Nothing Can Stop Us' live. Sigh. Amazing.

Further north, Glasgow's divine Camera Obscura will release My Maudlin Career in April on their new label, 4AD. I wouldn't instantly associate Tracyanne Campbell's elegant, soul drenched pop with the classic 4AD sound of the Cocteau Twins and Lush, but I am sure her deft, gentle pop touch will glide Camera Obscura's sound in easily alongside this label's great dreamy sound history. You've no doubt heard the title track already, but if you haven't, stream it at their website and fall in love all over again. Sparkly and hazy with rich, rich vocals, it might not be as instantly gratifying as 'Lloyd, I'm Ready To Be Heartbroken', but boy, it's bound to etch its place in your consciousness after but a few listens. Again, I'd like to think I could be as sweetly sophisticated and beautiful as Tracyanne, but she is incomparable and untouchable, with an incredibly enviable dress collection. As it appears as though she is growing her hair longer, I might just have to bid my bob farewell and follow her long-locked lead.

Monday, February 23, 2009

lost and found: lostmusic gems

If I lived in London, I'd no doubt attend every show those excellent fellows at Lostmusic host for we pop kids of the world. Alas, I'll wave my dampened hankie at all those brilliant shows at the Gramaphone and The Enterprise, and will instead tune my ears to some new releases straight from their London headquarters.

Straight outta Brooklyn, I'm giddily addicted to the lo-fi scratchings of Knight School and their debut LP The Poor and Needy Need To Party. Like the finest pop traditions schooled in punk - the Shop Assistants covering 'Ace of Spades', just about every Raincoats song you'll ever hear, Orange Juice's 'Moscow Olympics' - these songs dose rough recording, wiry guitars, echoed vocals and racing melodies in just the right quantities to produce instant classics that could easily slide into 1988, 1993 or 2009. 'Pregnant Again' is one of my favourite tracks of the year so far, while 'No One Likes Me No More' sounds just like a stray 14 Iced Bears track with American vocals. Stream the whole album over at last.fm and understand for yourself how something so simple can say more than over production ever could.

Meanwhile, The Wendy Darlings play riotous noisy scruff pop straight out of France. To these ears, they don't sound particularly "French", but who said everyone from France has to sound like Serge, Stereolab or Air? Not these three, that's for sure. I'm hooked on 'Bowling Shoes', with its shouty girl hooks and la la la's about a stupid boy, and I bet every other track on their seven-track EP We Come With Friendly Purposes will hook, line and sinker me too.

Buy both - and plenty, plenty more - over at the Lostmusic shop!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

spinning and scratching: long division 20/02/09

(Picture by SamB)

Well, last night's inaugural Long Division was a success! Despite the cheap and nasty CD decks, an inability to connect the turntable to the sound system and a midnight curfew, it was a terrific night and made me extremely happy to see people dancing and listening to all manner of fine tunes. I'll definitely be organising another one soon!

Here's what Cat and I played:

14 Iced Bears - Come Get Me
Super Furry Animals - Play It Cool
The Essex Green - The Late Great Cassiopia
Pants Yell! - Magenta and Green
Knight School - Pregnant Again

Urusei Yatsura - Superfi
The Ladybug Transistor - Meadow Port Arch
The Lodger - The Good Old Days
Saturday Looks Good To Me - Until The World Stops Spinning
Still Flyin' - Good Thing It's A Ghost Town Around Here

Heavenly - Nous Ne Sommes Pas Des Anges
France Gall - Baby Pop
Suburban Kids With Biblical Names - Rent a Wreck
The Legends - Make It All Right
The Brunettes - Jukebox

The Chills - Heavenly Pop Hit
Talulah Gosh - My Boy Says
The Magnetic Fields - Strange Powers
The 6ths - Falling Out Of Love (With You)
Pavement - Newark Wilder

Sleater-Kinney - Get Up
Beulah - If We Can Land A Man On The Moon, Then Surely I Can Win Your Heart
Tullycraft - Pop Songs Your New Boyfriend Is Too Stupid To Know About
The Apples In Stereo - Everybody Let Up
Me Me Me - Hanging Around

Lightning Seeds - Change
Velocette - Get Yourself Together
Shed 7 - Disco Down
Echobelly - King Of The Kerb
Teenage Fanclub - I Need Direction

Felt - Sunlight Bathed The Golden Glow
Souvenir - Au Bord Du Soleil
Anna Karina - Roller Girl
Lilys - A Nanny In Manhattan
Patrick Wolf - The Magic Position

The Zebras - Push Our Way To The Front
Tiger Trap - Words and Smiles
Darren Hanlon - Video Party Sleepover
The Lucksmiths - Untidy Towns
The Divine Comedy - Something For The Weekend

Suede - Metal Mickey
Ride - Vapour Trail
My Bloody Valentine - Paint A Rainbow
The Charlatans - The Only One I Know
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - Everything With You

Pipas - Run Run Run
The Long Blondes - Giddy Stratospheres
Deerhoof - Milkman
Franz Ferdinand - No You Girls
The Radio Dept - Where Damage Isn't Already Done

The Kinks - Victoria
The Aislers Set - The Way To Market Station
Go Sailor - A Fine Day For Sailing
Maybellines - Bomb Pop
Shonen Knife - Daydream Believer

Broadcast - The Book Lovers
Belle & Sebastian - Lazy Line Painter Jane
Rocketship - I Love You Like The Way I Used To Do
Camera Obscura - Lloyd, I'm Ready To Be Heartbroken
The Beta Band - Needles In My Eyes

The Go-Betweens - Right Here
Sprites - Bionic Hands
Stereolab - Ping Pong
Salad - Drink The Elixir
Menswear - Daydreamer

Ocean Colour Scene - Hundred Mile High City
Mansun - Stripper Vicar
Hidden Cameras - Smells Like Happiness
Saint Etienne - You're In A Bad Way
Saint Etienne - Who Do You Think You Are

The Lucksmiths - Good Light
Pulp - Lipgloss
The Bluetones - Slight Return
Orange Juice - Blueboy
The Smiths - You Just Haven't Earned It Yet, Baby

The Aislers Set - Long Division
Blur - Chemical World

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Long Division - it's tomorrow night!

I've got a huge bag of CDs, some very fine vinyl, a super cute dress to wear - I'm set for tomorrow night's inaugural Long Division!

Gosh, so much shameless self-promoting going on here, I know, but I'm very excited about it! Here's a couple of tracks I will most likely spin tomorrow night...

1. Camera Obscura!

2. France Gall!

3. The Primitives!

And, oh, so much more! If you're in Brisbane, I hope you can make it along! If not, I will hope you're there in pop spirit.

Monday, February 16, 2009

the pains of being pure at heart - s/t

It's less than a month and a half into 2009, and yet quite a few people have already had their socks knocked off by the debut album from The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. It's no secret how much I love this band, but I have realised I've not extolled my love of this record in great detail. As produced by the right royal Archie Moore (an aside: why don't people talk about The Saturday People anymore? That self titled record of theirs is brilliant!), it's a tight, fuzzy, noisy, catchy album full of guitars that make me dance and cry and darkly brilliant lyrics coated in hard toffee - sweet, but might just break your teeth.

My favourite tracks? Well, I love it all, but whenever I listen to it, I am always waiting in anticipation for track seven, "Everything With You", which ranks as one of the best pop singles in the last ten years. Honestly, as soon as the two minute mark clicks over and the most astronomical guitar solo hits, I disappear into the stars and whisk myself away into the most glorious pop heavenly bliss ever known. I am not exaggerating - those sort of guitar lines make me go crazy. It's one of those songs that, if I ever get to hear it on a dancefloor, it will turn it into a perfect, perfect night.

The one-two hits well and truly with "A Teenager In Love", all softly optimistic in tune but awfully, awfully dark in lyric, seemingly about someone who took their own life. There lyrics are incredibly dark - something I never quite grasped in all this listening, but it's this darkness that really provides a contrast to the beautiful, uplifting noisy pop. In thinking about this, a lot of great noisy pop has a dark undercurrent - I but think of The Painted Word-era Television Personalities and the lyrics on tracks like "Happy All The Time". Perhaps that's the contrast required - pop allows us to swallow the difficulties and awful truths of life in a way that helps to ease our troubles.

Anyway, I love the entire album - "Contender" starts the album off slowly, and over the course of the ten tracks, it builds and builds before closing with the Jesus & Mary Chain-esque "Gentle Sons". It's special, timeless and an album I am going to treasure and preach about quite a bit this year.

If you're in Australia, buy yourself a copy at Lost & Lonesome.

Saturday, February 14, 2009


I've spent my Saturday cleaning and sorting through piles of CDs I need to find homes for - very exciting indeed. Whilst venturing through a shoebox full of old CDs, I noticed a certain similarity...

Art of Fighting - Wires (Trifekta, 2001)

Vivian Girls - Vivian Girls (In The Red, 2008)

The cityscape artwork is where the similarities end - the Vivian Girls' noisy punky girl pop is a fair distance away from the dreamy, sublime and understated beauty of Art of Fighting's first album. It appears as though Melbourne's Art of Fighting are still around, but I don't think they will ever be able to recapture how wonderful they were truly were upon Wires's release in 2001.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

on a serious note...

You may have heard in the news about all the horrific bushfires that have been taking place in Victoria, in southern Australia. So far, more than 180 people have been confirmed dead, and thousands of people have lost their homes. Picturesque villages where people once made their livelihoods have been razed to the ground by terrifying infernos, travelling too fast for those desperate to escape to make their way through to safety.

It's awful thinking about what's gone on, and I feel so fortunate to have never experienced nature of that ferocity or intensity. The least I could do was donate some money to the Australian Red Cross to assist the relief effort, and I would like to encourage you to do the same. It's heartbreaking, and I feel it is our duty to do whatever it takes to support others at times like this. Even if it is just a small contribution, it will go some way to helping those who have lost everything - not just possessions, but the lives of friends and family.

WeePOP! happenings

So what's new over at WeePOP!? Don't let that lovely daydreaming cat on the front page of their website deceive you - Camila and Thor have been busy preparing some new February releases to send right to your letterbox!

It's nearing Valentine's Day, and if you're wondering what to buy your sweetheart (or perhaps yourself, if you're like me), fear not, because Scotland's The Just Joans have delivered Love and other hideous accidents. Perfect V-Day sentiment, surely! With track titles such as 'Let's Not Keep In Touch' and 'I Won't Survive', it's bound to set an appropriate "bah humbug!" tone for the non-romantics out there. On second thoughts, it might not be such a good idea to buy this one for your sweetheart.

Perhaps your loved one is into sustainability and carbon neutrality? Those charming Mexican Kids at Home have you sorted, with Recycled Songs for a Happy Environment. Surely that delightful windmill on the artwork accounts for the carbon emissions from your airmail! Their cute keyboards, makeshift drums and sweet songs about deers and swans will make you want to whisk your boy or girl down to the nearest stream and sail away your weekday troubles.

But then, maybe you're like me and you just want to treat yourself to all manner of gifts and new listening delights, in which case WeePOP! can offer you the adorable Wee-Pop-Up compilation, Starting Anew, and releases from The Lorimer Sound, The Felt Tips, Little My and more. These 3" CD packages are lovingly crafted, individually numbered and adorable to boot - you can't ask for much more out of a record label. I'm off to place my order now!

Monday, February 9, 2009

live! still flyin' + laneway + primal scream

As mentioned at 5.45am this morning, I have been ridiculously busy of late and, thus, had nary had time to pen some digital words. Part of my hectic schedule, however, has been squeezing in some amazing shows by some of my favourite ever bands. Lucky indeed!

1. Still Flyin' @ The Troubadour, Brisbane - Friday 30 January
One of my favourite weekends from last year involved seeing the world's best good time party band, Still Flyin', play poolside in Brisbane followed by some extra shows for maximum dance value. Once again, they returned to our shores, minus a few international guests but introducing a few new visitors, to play the Laneway festival, but also managed to slot in a Friday night spot at Brisbane's favourite loungeroom.

In support, we were treated to sets by Monnone Alone (Mark from The Lucksmiths on guitar and Stanley Paulsen, aka Fred Astereo on drums, playing fun DIY garage pop songs) and Greg Brady and The Anchors (sounding wonderfully warm and polished, like how Brisbane pop sounded in the 1990s and how it should ideally sound via a new generation today, but doesn't). Once Still Flyin' hit the stage, though, the dancefloor of four pulled out some fine, sweaty dancemoves to the best hammjamm in town. The other shy shoe shufflers? You missed out. Busting out jamms from "Never Gonna Touch The Ground", their ska-etched horns, disco basslines and group chants spelt F-U-N like fun never existed. Too much fun, too much fun - it was impossible to wipe the smile off the crowd's collective face after the show.

2. Laneway Festival @ RNA Showgrounds, Brisbane - Saturday 31 January
With a new venue (space! shade! decent bathroom facilities!) and a fairly spectacular line up, I tolerated hot and sticky conditions for a wonderful festival right in my own city. Still Flyin' hit the stage early, heavy and hungover from the previous night's festivities, but still ripped out a fine set to kickstart the day.

Later on, wandering around, I took in bits and pieces of Spiral Stairs (playing the hits for all the Pavement fans craving a reunion), Born Ruffians (Vampire Weekend rip-offs, anyone?) and No Age (who will most likely spawn a whole new cast of Brisbane duos pounding out DIY garage like every other two bit noise band round town), and also observed a veritable array of awful, awful tattoos.

However, I was far too excited about the prospect of seeing Stereolab for the first time to give much regard to these other young bands. Stereolab! A band who haven't toured Australia since 2002, and who were visiting the same state the dearly departed Mary Hansen once hailed from. With great anticipation, they came on as the sun set and played something of a greatest hits, much to my disbelief. Hearing 'Lo Boob Oscillator', 'French Disko', 'Ping Pong' and 'Cybele's Reverie' live within a 45 minute space was astounding, truly magical. Has a live band ever made you feel like you've transcended into the clouds, without any chemical assistance? Laetetia Sadier's beautiful French nonchalance, coupled with Tim Gane's indie boy head nodding and the adorable new French keyboardist, Julien Gasc, was sweeter than honeycomb and softer than fairy floss. I left feeling like I never wanted to see any other band again.

Later on, I accosted the adorable keyboardist and he brought me water from backstage. Lovely!

Clearly, little could live up to Stereolab - The Hold Steady were as solid and masculine as ever, while Girl Talk elicited cheap girls on stage whilst his email-checking-laptop mash-ups sent most of the kids into a frenzy. I didn't understand it. Oh well. I had Stereolab and Still Flyin' to treasure, at least.

3. Primal Scream @ The Tivoli - Thursday 5 February
With next to no familiar faces around, I saw Primal Scream on my own. I am certain I am not the only girl to have an unspeakably large crush on Bobby Gillespie, and seeing him appear on stage, all mop-topped like a member of The Creation, wearing a slim cut suit and leopard-print shirt, was like an apparition of beauty blinding my vision. He, with his five other smartly-attired bandmates (including Martin Duffy from Felt!! and Mani!), took a moment just to show the young bands of today how it's really done - how to blast rock and roll without overt swagger, how to blast electro without layers of fluoro, and how to do ice like it's the Teutonic ice age apocalypse.

Highlights? 'Movin' On Up' was like gospel, 'Swastika Eyes' like incredibly loud militant wailing, and new tracks such as 'Can't Go Back' like a speeding car through a midnight tunnel. Oh yeah, and 'Rocks', but I'm a bit give-or-take on that one. Of course, no 'Ivy Ivy Ivy' or 'Crystal Crescent', but that was to be expected. Bobby G has my heart anyday.