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 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.

pains of excitement

Hello, I've been stupidly busy lately and need to update BADLY, but what can I say? My non-pop-crazy friends are listening to The Pains of Being Pure at Heart as a result of deservedly glowing reviews - this is the start of something big!

Rocketship revival next? I sure hope so! If you are in Brisbane, come dance as I play "Kisses Are Always Promises" in a fortnight's time at my inaugural club night, Long Division. Yay!

My blurb from Facebook:

Come to the inaugural LONG DIVISION at the Alibi Room for the best (and only) indie pop dance party in Brisbane!

Pull shapes with DJs Cat and Alex as we play indiepop, twee, C86, ye-ye, mod, britpop and more.

Send us your requests beforehand and we'll do our best to drop your favourite tunes.