A music soaked weekend, finally

I’m happy to report that after a lengthy hiatus, the weekend just gone was a flashback to times past – times past being music filled weekends! A long overdue scenario and one I’ve been aching for, so the onset of cold and flu-like symptoms wasn’t going to put a stop to the music.

Friday night required a coin toss between the Geoffrey O’Connor & Wintercoats album/ep launches. A tough one (Chaper/Mistletone…) but the winner of this round was Geoffrey O’Connor, an unfair advantage as I’d missed Super Wild Horses in the past and was rather keen to catch their support set. I didn’t find the instrument swapping midway through the Super Wild Horses set gimmicky as it has been rather cheaply described. It looked as though they were having fun and that’s the point, isn’t it? That said, I must say it was a strange night. I can’t recall the last time I went to a music gig with hecklers, but that’s what we got when Geoffrey O’Connor hit the stage. There was a group of guys near us very clearly at the wrong gig but the bizarre thing was they chose to stay. Even more unusual was a girl behind them that let herself be baited by their heckling. It was such a strange social interaction to watch. Admittedly the guys were amusing and harmless. They weren’t violent, or overly drunk and they weren’t even very loud. They got shooshed a few times, obeyed then mocked shock when no one complained about a louder heckler further back in the crowd. The lesson to be leant here – audiophile quality earplugs. They protect your ears at gigs prolonging your years of music enjoyment and dampen this idle chit-chat going on in the audience. I cannot recommend them highly enough. And in case you were wondering Geoffrey O’Connor, he was good too.

Saturday. We were all set to head on over to the Toff for Laura Jean‘s A Fool Who’ll launch. I even popped the album on in the store that afternoon to set the mood but a quick text after work and in the space of a few minutes Sigur Rós with their film Inni showing only three times this weekend at the Westgarth had leapfrogged into pole position for the night’s entertainment. I’ve seen Sigur Rós live and they’re spectacular. The chance to see this film in a cinema was hard to pass up, and I couldn’t. I know I’ll own the DVD but a full cinema experience must be taken when it’s on offer. The film does a wonderful job of capturing their live performance and the experience of seeing them live. Shot in black and white HD digital, transferred to 16 mm film then projected and re-filmed with various effects the finished look and feel of the film is perfection for the music its matched to. Your eyes fix on a slow steady close up then chase another image fading in and out of light. The detailed close-ups and lighting are magical. Watch a sample, decide, then go out and buy a copy. I will be.

xx

By Sunday I’d developed a nasty dry cough. Drinking was out. It all tasted pretty foul with a throat lozenge stuck in my mouth but more music was to be had. A dear old friend had long been preaching the need for me to come out and see Silver City Highway. I couldn’t count the number of times I’d let him down on this one and they were support to Ned Collette & Wirewalker‘s final Melbourne show for an age so off we went. It was great to catch up, have him watch me react to a band for the first time and visa versa. I liked what I heard of SIlver City Highway and can see and hear why he’s so charmed by them. As is always the case when this happens I wonder why it’s taken me so long to get out to see them. The guys have been to see them without me, I can’t recall what my excuses have been. Something trivial I’m sure but I’ll have to remedy that now. I found the new Ned Collette material intriguing. I had to leave before the set was through so didn’t catch it all but what I did hear left me wanting for the new album to hurry along. I place the blame squarely on that spanish guitar, it’s the anomaly, or new piece of the puzzle to their sound.

I always feel a little guilty when I’ve seen a ‘free’ gig. I know it’s my warped logic. It’s not like I’m a high or even middle-income earner so I need to embrace these free gigs where I can. By choice I have a very low income mixing part-time and volunteer work, still, if the gig’s free I always wonder how the band(s), the venue, mixer etc are earning a living. Sigh.

I know the weekend’s over but tonight in the Triple R performance space Montero are playing live to air during Local and/or General. So why stop the music just because the weekend’s through? I’ve only heard two songs from this new local project headed by Benny Montero and featuring members from Crayon Fields, Baseball, Cuba Is Japan and the TM Band but what I’ve heard I’ve liked. Should be fun!

Nights out seeing bands taking precedence over sitting in the cinema… maybe summer is on the way after all.

Advertisements

A top what? You must be joking.

I had a minor freak out a little while back when one of my colleagues at work mentioned that we each had to put together a top 10 list for the end of the year, and that this top 10 would then be on display for our customers, in store to pick and choose from.

So what, big deal. This may be the natural reaction for most but for me a top 10 list is something I avoid with all sense of irrationality. I just can’t do it. The closest I ever got was 2 years back weaning a ‘most listened to’ list of about 30 albums down to 15 – and that took all my effort and then some! Note that I didn’t order this list, it’s just an unordered most listened to list. Tactful!

It’s not that I won’t or can’t commit to picking a favourite (or is it and I just don’t know that yet…?) It’s that I never have just one favourite. My favourite yesterday or an hour ago can be different to tomorrow’s favourite depending on my mood, the weather, what I’m wearing, if I just heard something on the radio. You get the picture.

So how does one possibly choose just 10 albums from an entire year of output? And while we’re talking about difficult, how about remembering what was released in January all the way back here in October!

I’ll admit I enjoy perusing other people’s lists that float around in December and January. Not so much to see what they’ve picked but more as an exercise in remembering what I’ve forgotten from the start of the year. That’s the part I enjoy – revisiting the music I tucked back on the shelf a little too well and forgot about.

So, how’s this list of mine going? It’s a page full of scribble. The stuff I’m in love with now is easy to list, the music I was gushing over at the start of the year… well some of it I still gush over, other bits I need to spot to get the warm fuzzy. Then how do I choose? I’ll probably end up with two lists. One full of the things I really feel, that take me somewhere, and one that’s more work friendly – but for now here’s HTRK. I can’t get them out of my head and I’m quite happy keeping them there.

Geoffrey O’Connor – Vanity Is Forever

The new Geoffrey O’Connor album has been one of my most anticipated releases of late. That has a lot to do with timing. Just prior to the announcement that there was to be a new album I’d gone in heavy with a revisit of the last Crayon Fields release. The disc was off the shelf and in the car and was also on strong rotation on my iPod.

When the lead single Whatever Leads Me To You dropped I liked what I was hearing and was itching for the release of the full album. Perhaps that eagerness was to blame, but on first listen of the album I was underwhelmed. Excluding the single I felt like there was no punch.

Too much anticipation can destroy even the best of things but luckily on this outing as the tracks progressed so did my appreciation. By the time I reached Idle Lover I’d softened my assessment, by Now & Then it was very much growing on me and by Like They Say It Does and Bad Ideas I knew I’d be hitting play again for an instant repeat listen, and then another…

It’s funny. The opening track So Sorry that formed part of my original dispirited reaction to the album I loved the second time around. It’s fun and cheesy and like the whole album dripping with lashings of 80s fuelled synth-pop. As always with anything penned by Geoffrey O’Connor the clever lyrics alone keep you entertained. There’ll be something you missed, didn’t hear the last time, to bring a smile to your face.

So why the initial luke-warm reaction? Maybe I was expecting an album full of tracks just like the lead single. After a few days and some stretched out listens I’m happy there’s variety and I feel this album will seep into my summer, just as All The Pleasures Of The World did two summer’s prior. It’s currently sharing prime position on the listening post with HTRK’s Work (Work, Work), but I know there’ll be plenty of other great releases before the hot weather peaks.

Out of Tune – Mojave 3

I love this album. It’s remained a constant favourite but always gets its biggest work out during or near the warmer months. It has that feeling for me, that feeling of not so much summer but holidays, space, openness. I often take it with me in the car when I’m doing a lengthy solo drive. Just me, the car, a long straight road. Big sky, ocean or endless fields. That’s what I see in my head anyway. I’m more than happy to stick it on repeat and get lost in the audio and the air it creates.

I was surprised on checking the cover to find a 1998 date on the album. It don’t recall it being that old, or is that part of its appeal? Even when it was fresh and new it already felt of another time and place and had the power to transport you there, so its age is of little consequence.

Soak up some goodness.

Kurt Vile. Oh yes.

Last week when the Meredith line-up was announced I honed in on just one name. Kurt Vile. It was with school-girl glee that the next few hours passed. I’m surprised I pulled off ‘normality’ at work. Finally the international act I’d most wanted to tour for the last few years was coming to our shores.

My discovery of the aural pleasure that is Kurt Vile’s music came about around two years ago. That part of your brain that grabs a hold of something at first sight/listen/taste came out to play hard and there was no point fighting it. I can pretty much pinpoint when it started to the community radio play prior to ‘Childish Prodigy’ being released. It made me seek out anything else this Philly wonder may have laid his hands on. My hunting did not go unrewarded as my local indie record store was able to source his (mini) album ‘God Is Saying This To You’ but the earlier ‘Constant Hitmaker’ was to provide more of a challenge with my own internet scouring required for satisfaction. Then ‘Childish Prodigy’ was released and in the space of a few months I had three albums to flood my mind and my ears.

Putting this into context 2009 was still a time when music was at the top of my obsession heap. Film got to fight for number one spot during obvious times of the year (MIFF anyone?) but generally speaking music still took the crown. And since I’d been earning a wage with a weekend job at high school buying music consumed a fair portion of my disposable income. Bring on uni and throw gigs into that music spending mix, not a lot had really changed over the years in that sense. 2009 though was a little different in that music really jumped up a notch. I devoured more music that year than any other year I can recall. I also saw more local live music than ever before. Strangely it’s not all a total blur. There were a few artists that stood out for me that year and Kurt Vile was one of them. Two years down the track he continues to do so.

In late 2009 Kurt Vile supported Big Star in Brooklyn. You know how sometimes you just wish beyond all reason or reality that something insane could happen and you’d miraculously be teleported to another place or time? This was one such moment. I was happy to step away from reality for the night and be dropped off at the Brooklyn Masonic Temple then picked up 6 or so hours later and reinstated with real life. Not only Kurt Vile & The Violators but Big Star too. The words. They still fail.

At the start of last year there were the usual “who would you love to tour” questions floating around on social media, the same again this year. Both years Kurt Vile has been at the top of my list. In 2010 I knew there was little to no chance of this happening so I had to be content with the release of the Square Shells EP to tide me over. This year with a new album due for release I had hope. When ‘Smoke Ring For My Halo’ came out I wished for news of concert dates but nothing eventuated. I kept reading reports of great overseas shows, additions to well-known festivals, so many good reports, and of course his hair! It is hard to miss the hair, there’s a lot of it.

So now I wait. The Sydney show was announced, went on sale and by all accounts is close to sold out. In Melbourne with Meredith at centre stage we need to practice patience, although if I can read Mistletone’s twitter feed correctly tomorrow may be the day the all important news arrives. That news being – when and where in Melbourne does one go to see Kurt Vile play? (and when do the tickets go on sale!)

For the time being, here’s some soothing sounds to get you through the long wait for summer and the tour to hit our shores.

EDIT: So you wanna catch Kurt Vile at one of his Australian east-coast (Melbourne/Sydney) side shows? Click for Mistletone’s updated tour news!

Joining the dots

Last night I finally saw Withnail and I the way it should be seen: on the big screen, in a cinema with other patrons laughing along, a drink in hand and good company. I was at the Astor Theatre for a suitable double feature, wondering why I’d never seen it at the cinema before.

I’d watched it often enough on DVD but not when it was fresh and new, I came to the film quite late. My first experience of anything to do with the film had been without even realising it. One of my early band obsessions was Ride. By the time their second album ‘Going Blank Again’ came out in 1992 I was well and truly hooked. I was completely unaware that the soundbite at the start of track 7 “even a stopped clock gives the right time twice a day” was Marwood from early in the film, or that the track title “Cool Your Boots” was another quote (Danny) from late in the film.

It’s an odd moment when you do eventually join the dots and find you’ve come to things backwards. That album is so familiar to me. It was at a time when the music I was listening to, my friends, seeing bands, going out, dancing, socialising, that was everything. I knew the soundbite was from a film, but at the time that was enough. It’s years later that I wonder why I never did wonder more back then.

So why write this now? Seeing the film large, loud, with full surround sound at the cinema really made that connection hit home. Even though I’d made it previously the size and volume, ok the volume, lets bring the focus to the sound where it’s due as that’s what really did it. I’ve already said my first accidental run-in with the film was via the audio and although I was watching the film my instinct shot me back to my first association which was listening to the music that came with that sound. I sometimes worry about the way my mind works, or wanders.

Either way what it does for me now when I watch the film or listen to the album is it makes both experiences a little more enjoyable, as I have that extra connection I missed for so many years, and that’s got to be a bonus.

So why not flash back to the early ’90s with Ride and Cool Your Boots. Enjoy!

What you been listening to?

I’ve been struggling for weeks now to think of my ‘most listened to’ albums of 2010. I loved reading other people’s ‘Top 10 Lists’ late last year and early this year (music, books, films, tv, gigs etc) but I’ve always been reluctant to compile a ‘Top 10’. How do you possibly choose?

2010 was an odd year for me. Lots of changes, forced and chosen. Choosing to take a break and stop working later in the year meant fewer funds for record buying. I also found myself listening to lots of older records from my collection as well as sourcing some of those artists on the ‘wanting to get around to’ list.

An outcome of this was buying far fewer 2010 new releases, possibly half of last years record purchases were older releases. For example I finally bought a stack of Townes Van Zandt albums and would find myself listening to nothing but his music for weeks. I was still obsessed with Kurt Vile but he only released an EP last year so I continued to blast his earlier albums out of the speakers.

Of the new release music I bought a large portion was local, though mostly albums at gigs. It also turned out for some of these artists that I preferred the ‘live’ version to the ‘recorded’ one so the album didn’t get a very high rotation, I went to more local gigs.

So what new music did I listen to the most in 2010? It turns out I could only come up with three albums that fell into the ‘listened to death’ category.

  • Otouto – Pip
  • Wild Nothing – Gemini
  • Warpaint – The Fool

I’d been lucky enough to catch Otouto play at the second Mess & Noise lunchbox series in March. They were good. I think Pip came out in April and I was hooked. Over the course of the year I saw them live a fair bit, always great, but this didn’t tire me of the recording.

A friend Adam put me on to Wild Nothing, knowing my soft spot for shoegaze. Wow. Did I take to this album. I listened far too much for a sane person on my iPod and to the CD. At one stage the disc was on constant rotation in the car for almost a straight month. We joked that it was the perfect summer album, in the middle of our winter!

My final obsession for the year was Warpaint. I first heard them perhaps late September during Transference on 3RRR. I liked them enough to instantly ask who I’d just heard as I missed the back-announce. The album was out a month later and then The Fool became the new obsession.

So there you have it, my incredibly slim list of highest rotation albums for 2010.

2009 was very different. I struggled to reduce the ‘most listened to’ list down to something reasonable, 15 in the end. Mind you, at the rate I was digesting music that year it’s not really a surprise. Something had to give and it looks like last year it did.

For interests sake, here’s the list from 2009.

  • Lawrence Arabia – Chant Master
  • Bill Callahan – Sometimes I Wish I Were An Eagle
  • Camera Obscura – My Maudulin Career
  • God Help The Girl – self titled
  • Jayhalks – Music From The North Country
  • Son Volt – American Central Dust
  • The Duke and the King – Everthing Gold Must Stay
  • Crayon Fields – All The Pleasures Of The World
  • Yo La Tengo – Popular Songs
  • Justin Townes Earle – Midnight at the Movies
  • Joe Pernice – It Feels So Good When You Stop (book soundtrack)
  • Kurt Vile – Childish Prodigy
  • Ned Collette & Wirewalker – Over The Stones, Under The Stars
  • Jay Farrar & Benjamin Gibbard – One Fast Move & I’m Gone soundtrack
  • The Dave Rawlings Machine – A Friend of a Friend