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'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.