Tuesday, January 12, 2010

More than Standard Fare?

Regrettably, it's taken me until now to pay attention to Sheffield's Standard Fare, a trio playing the type of crashing, simple pop with sassy girl vocals I've been known to love more than a little bit. Rough Trade said: "If you love Kenickie, The Long Blondes, The Siddeleys or Girls At Our Best you will fall instantly in love with Standard Fare." Given my love of all these bands, I think it's time to take heed of such a glowing endorsement.

What's sealed my interest has been the release of their new single "Fifteen" via Thee SPC - it's three minutes of tales of young love and all the mistakes that youth brings, set to classic jangle that English bands produce so well. I know I'll be listening to all those "ba-ba-bahs" in my head all night long, drowning out the traffic sounds and rain, and I think I'm ready to elevate them more than a little higher in my listening ranks.

I'll be going back and listening to more Standard Fare - I know last year's "Dancing" was well regarded by quite a few people, and I'm willing to indulge in some belated festive cheer with their Christmas song, "Tinsel Politics". It doesn't really matter what time of the year it is - I love a festive song regardless of the season.

Best of all, if you're lucky enough to be in America, they'll be playing SXSW! Super envy!

Buy "Fifteen" here!

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!