Thursday, January 28, 2010

Friday, January 22, 2010

Joanna Newsongs.

It was announced last week that harpist Joanna Newsom will be releasing her third album on Feb 19th in Australia (Feb 23rd else where in the world). The follow up to Newsom's 2006 epic masterpiece will be called "Have One on Me". Recently, she has been touring Australia and treating her devoted followers to the new material from the album.

Seeing a show at Melbournes Forum Theatre is always an amazing experience, because the atmosphere created by the proscenium arch and the trees that surround it set the mood for the night you are in for, regardless of who is playing. Obviously tonight though, it makes a lot more sense that someone like Joanna be playing in this outdoor but indoor setting. What does not make sense though, is the decision to not have the concert be seated. Don't get me wrong, I love joanna, but she's not really the kind of artist you want to be standing and listening to for 2 hours. Your legs get tired and awkward from not moving about (you can't exactly dance to her songs) so you spend a lot of time thinking about how uncomfortable you are, instead of focusing on what's happening on stage.

Anyway, as the faux stars and nature beam down on the audience, she opens with the first of many new songs for the evening, Jack Rabbits. A slow picking of the harp as joanna questions if she can love again. She follows up by introducing her band and explaining that some of her older songs have been reworked to include the band and proceeds to play a dressed up version of Bridges and Balloons much to the crowds enjoyment.

What followed next, was possibly my highlight of the evening. She debuted a new song, which is apparently the title track of the album, Have One on Me, which went for about 7 or 8 minutes in which Newsom weaves tales of daddy long legs and big black spiders in doorways. The most thrilling part about this song was that it changed style and tempo at least 5 times. There was an epic break down towards the end, where Newsom and her two backing violinists did some vocal harmonies, before snapping back to the lulling picking of her harp without so much as a seconds break. This song alone reassured me entirely about the possibility of Newsom's next album being terrible.

It's really difficult to see a gig, where a lot of the material is new and unknown. As exciting as it is to be witnessing new material, it's just hard to 100% enjoy it, because you haven't yet had a chance to forge a connection with it. Having said that though, Newsom managed to enthrall the audience with her fantastic new tales of hidden autumn creeks and mysterious lands with little effort. However it is when she plays her older material that the audience really respond. Her reworking of Emily was breathtakingly beautiful, The last time I saw this song performed, it was Newsom alone, but this time accompanied with a full band, made it a thousand times better. The inclusion of drums on the track, makes the climactic point of the song seem so much more dire and important. As she wails about the oncoming meteor storm, there comes a loud thumping of thunder sounding drums to the right of the stage, but as chaotic as all this sounds, Newsom manages to reassure us with her harp and trilling voice that there is still hope for us yet, that we will live to survive another meteor shower. It was an intensely beautiful moment.

Joanna stopped the show, midway through one of her new songs ("In California") to alert the venue staff that someone had fainted at the front of the stage. It was swelteringly hot for some reason in the Forum that night and the heat had obviously got to this person, but instead of the security or venue staff rushing to their aid, it was Newsom that offered the fainted guest her own bottle of water. Five minutes later, things seemingly resolved (it was really difficult to see what the hell was going on) Newsom resumes her position and asks us if we'd like her to move on or start the song again, which she does to great applause.

Newsom's revamping of Peach Plum Pear was so frightfully beautiful. Again, the inclusion of drums has changed this song so much and made it infinitely more powerful. Watch below for yourself (or just listen, the image isn't that great)

There were some concerns that she may have gone a bit pop, a bit weird(er). Since dating Andy Samberg, and appearing in the MGMT film clip for kids, people were concerned that she may have done what everyone else appears to be doing these days and gone disco, but she hasn't. We'll have to wait until Have One Me is Released to know for sure, but from this sneak preview, I think it's safe to say that Newsom still has it and that her third album will be as interesting as Ys was when we first heard it 4 years ago.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A Decent Decade of Music.

Top 29 Albums from 2000 - 2009.

As the Decade comes to a close, I've been looking back and thinking about the Music that shaped me and helped me grow (wank).

Back in 2000, i was a gawky little guy in year 8, now i'm a gawky guy in my 20's. A lot has changed in ten years. It was really hard to chart my top albums efficiently. I mean, I need to pay homage to the likes of New Found Glory and Killing Heidi, for shepherding me through puberty and angst. We all made mistakes, did we not?

So this list consists of albums that majorly defined a period of my life and are very meaningful to a certain memory bubble of my brain.

Before we go ahead i'd like to point out that I deliberated LONG and hard over this damn list, and that there have been a number of drafts, re-workings of the lists, and even a slideshow presentation (upon which I realised I had some things in wrong places), and even now as i'm typing this out, i'm still a bit nervous about my choices.

I guess the important thing (for me) to remember is that, hey AT LEAST they made the damn list, regardless of what order they ended up being in...

Anyway, without any further shame or hesitation, I present to you my top 29 albums from 2ooo to 2oo9 (cause you know, if you take out the o's you get 29...whatever)

29. Death From Above 1979 - You're a Woman, I'm a Machine (2004)

This album was important to me back in 2004, I specifically remember listening to it alot at work, and being really upset cause I wasn't old enough to go see them when they played at ding dong, and I wasn't cool enough to have a fake id.

28. Annuals - Be He Me (2006)

A good little album that I couldn't go without including in my list. Some amazing arrangements on a lot of the tracks. Unfortunately for Annuals, everything else they've released is utter shit.

27. Yeasayer - All Hour Cymbals (2007)

An amazing album from start to finish, but unfortunately it's too recent to have ranked higher. But Yeasayer do have a really unique sound to them, and know how to craft a song creatively. You should all watch the take away show of them playing 2080 in an apartment in Paris, that'll pretty much sum up why I love them/this album.

26. Animal Collective - Strawberry Jam (2007)

This album reminds me of living in St.Kilda in my first apartment with my close friend Ange. It has some amazing songs, Fireworks is a beautiful song, and I debated hard and long about whether or not to put this or Feels in, but I feel Strawberry Jam is a better album as a whole, so it won out. Peacebone is an excellent opener (with an amazing filmclip to boot) and For Reverend Green is a manic and somehow happy song.

25. Wolf Parade - Apologies to the Queen Mary (2005)

This album makes me think of finishing my first year of uni, visiting Lorne during that summer, and again, is a great album start to finish. I'll Believe in Anything is a masterpiece of a song, and Dear Sons and Daughters of Hungry Ghosts is equally epic.

24. Radiohead - In Rainbows (2007)

So i'll probably be castrated for choosing this as my Radiohead album of the decade, and don't get me wrong, I enjoy their other albums. Kid A is great and Amnesiac is beautiful yadda yadda yadda. Truth be told, this is the album that I can listen to in it's entirety and not skip a track, it has it's soft and quiet moment as well as it's more upbeat. A very well structured album with at least one song suitable for any and every mood.

23. Yann Tiersen - Amelie Official Soundtrack (2001)

So this entry is a bit of a copout, cause it's technically a soundtrack or whatever, but it's a epic soundtrack for an utterly fantastic film. It did partially win it's spot here because of my love for the film, but having said that, my love for the film is partially due to the soundtrack. It's a bit of a chicken or the egg scenario. I just think Yann Tiersen is a brilliant composer and his music ties in with everything in the film so well. It reminds me of being in year 9 and going to see the film with my mum, and falling in love with french cinema, and deciding I wanted to make films like Jean Pierre Jeunet.

22. Elliott Smith - Figure 8 (2000)

Granted I didn't hear this album until about 2004, but it's one that has stuck with and followed me since. It reminds me of catching the bus to sandy every morning, it reminds me of living in Church St four years later. It has sad and happy associations and has deservedly earned it's place.

21. Múm - finally we are no one (2002)

Such a beautiful album, from start to finish. One for falling asleep to and dreaming of icelandic landscapes and oceans. This album helped kick start my love for iceland.

20. The Distillers - Sing Sing Death House (2002)

This Album reminds me of being year 10 and marks the start of my properly paying attention to music. It's a minor secret shame of mine, but whatever, The Distillers were great in their own right, Hole/Courtney Love comparisons aside, they knew what they were doing and Brody was an excellent front woman. It reminds me of having my friends over to my house while my parents were away for the weekend (Hi Mum!)

19. The Strokes - Is This It? (2001)

Remember that time when everyone loved the strokes? They, along with the White Stripes lead the "garage revival" or whatever, but all that bullshit aside, this again, is an excellent album from start to finish. Reminds me of year 11 & 12, dancing to new york city cops with maz whilst drunk on goon. Good times. Someday is a beautiful song, and Hard to Explain is dazzling. Yep. D A Z Z L I N G.

18. Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago (2008)

It's a shame that ol' Bon has been slightly spoilt by the twihard and jjj bogan male crowd, alas, he's still a genius songwriter with songs that can tie your guts up into tiny little knots. Everyone knows the story of how the album was written shortly after he broke up with his girlfriend and he retreated to the woods, well all that really does come across when listening to the album, before you even know it. There are severe tones of loss and sorrow, yet also hope, as wanky as that sounds. There is hope and promise shining through all the sadness. Yep. Bon Iver is derived from the French Bon Hiver which means good winter, and it is a good damn winter album. Also, bon hiverrrr is a nice thing to say to a close (breast) friend when toasting them a glass of wine, wouldn't you say?

17. CocoRosie - La Maison de mon Reve (2004)

This album reminds me of floating about my friends flat in St. Kilda (aptly named the Rabbit Hole) at 6am in the morning, not knowing exactly what the hell was going on as a cast of drag queens, sailors, cult leaders, virgins and secretaries all floated past. And further back than that, to 2004, it reminds me of being in Adelaide and making friends with old enemies, and forging new friendships with future wondrous people. And remember, if every angels terrible, then why do you welcome them?

16. Bright Eyes - I'm Wide Awake, it's Morning (2005)

Unfortunately not all associations with this album are happy ones. But the power of hindsight has managed to turn most of them good. But it does mainly remind me of a time of severe heartache etc etc blah blah, but it is a beautifully written album, and is seriously enjoyable from start to finish. Even Landlock Blues, which was a reworking of a previously recorded song by Bright Eyes was alright (i prefer the original, but I let it slide). Poison Oak is a gut wrenchingly beautiful song, and gah. This album is just great.


Decent Decade of Music, pt II

Before we continue on down this road of my favourite albums of the last decade, I want to say, I was haunted last night before I went to sleep of albums that i had forgotten to include. But I can't remember them, so their loss.

15. Sigur Rós - Takk... (2005)

The most important Sigur Rós album for me (although it was hard to choose between this and Ágætis byrjun) because it will always remind me of a specific time of my life and a specific event. It will always remind me of seeing them play at the Palais in St. Kilda with my mum when I was 18, and crying during glosoli. And on that note, the video for Glosoli is possibly one of the best music videos ever created. A consistent and beautiful album, the mood of the tracks from Glosoli into Hoppipola is sombre into uplifting and Sæglópur is haunting and just beautiful. Sigur Ros understand the art of building up their arrangements from low twinkling sounds into massive orchestral booms and they do it damn well.

14. Cat Power - You Are Free (2003)

I remember buying this album on a complete whim when I was in year 11, cause I liked the artwork on the cover and I had seen the video for He War, and I was so impressed. It of course prompted me to research Cat Power and Chan Marshall a bit more and then I discovered Moon Pix and What Would the Community Think etc. So this album represents the beginning of my love for Cat Power as well as representing when I was in year 11 and broadening my musical tastes. I also remember doing a solo performance in drama based on one of her songs from this album, HA. I Don't Blame You, Good Woman, Werewolf, the fucking brilliant Maybe Not and of course He War, are all amazing tracks that were a good introductory course (for me) to the genius songwriting of Chan Marshall.

13. Fionn Regan - The End of History (2006)

A humble little album from the lovely little Irishman known as Fionn, from start to finish it weaves a beautiful little web. Hey Rabbit into Black Water Child is one of my favourite song transitions ever. Snowy Atlas Mountain features some of the most poignant lyrics i've heard. The album has a mixture of songs to elate you and songs to make you feel downright depressed and sob into your pillow. Amazing Lyrics, Wonderful guitar work, Great Job.

12. Feist - Let it Die (2004)

Sultry little devil Leslie Feist's second album, but the first one I had heard. She really is a talented musician, despite all the kerfuffle that was kicked up over the third Album - The Reminder, what with all the ipod commercial and I Feel it All being used on some foul Australian weight loss ad, at least she can write a good song. From her work with Broken Social Scene to her solo work. The woman used to live with Peaches for christs sake. She can do no wrong in my eyes. From the subtle opener Gatekeeper, through to danceable Mushaboom, onto the heartbreaking Let it Die. Lonely Lonely, is one of her best written songs, and the lyrics read very true, similairly with Secret Heart. Her cover of Inside and Out is sublime and will forever remind me of my friend Sunni dancing at 5am hands on hips, fingers wagging on a couch all sultry like. It also reminds me of my other friend Annie singing at a bus stop on our way to a gig. And of Leah singing all husky to me. It's an album that has echoed on and on and stuck with me since I first heard it.

11. My Latest Novel - Wolves (2006)

The debut album of My Latest Novel blew me away. They had many comparisons to the Arcade Fire, more often than not referred to as "the Arcade Fire, but from Glasgow". To some degree, it's an accurate comparison, but when you listen to this album more, you realise that it's really not. I think of them more as a Scottish Sigur Ros/Arcade Fire hybrid, they too understand the art of dramatic build up's in their song writing, as well as the magic of the mid song tempo change. Massive orchestral arrangements and swirling clouds of choral voices, violins and big drums pelt down on you and trap you in a shit storm tornado of emotions. Opener Ghost in the Gutter is glorious, Learning Lego is heart stopping - when all the children start singing at the end. It's truly a brilliant album start to finish. The last song, Reputation of Ross Francis is as upbeat as it comes and still stirs something sad and at the same time elated inside me every time I hear it.

10. The Go! Team - Thunder, Lightning, Strike (2005)

This album is my happy place. It reminds me of my first year of uni, using Panther Dash in a play me and my friends wrote about a school camp. It reminds me of dancing at Pony and other various Melbourne bars in the early hours of the morning to Huddle Formation (not to mention smashing a light at my friends house when I get to excited) It's just an all round, energetic, intense, frenetic album that I will put on to cheer myself up. Plus seeing them perform at the Big Day Out was one of the best shows i'd seen.

9. Tegan and Sara - The Con (2008)

What can I say, I have a soft spot of Canadians. All lesbian twin jokes aside, this album is actually incredibly crafted and structured from start to finish. There is a definite flow from track to track. And the story behind the album and songwriting is moving and comes across in each song incredibly efficiently. There is not a song on this album I don't like. It represents a very decent time of my life, which I have very fond memories of. And the album still translates well to today.

8. The Arcade Fire - Funeral (2005)

This was another album I bought on a whim. I hadn't heard anything by them, I had heard the name thrown around a few times. I remember it exactly, it was Valentines Day, I went to Greville Records after finishing uni to just have a browse, I saw the art work, really liked it, and bought it. I don't think I stopped listening to the album for about 3 months after that. Need I say more? Yes. One More thing - Arcade Fire are the masters of mid song tempo change (fierce competition from my latest novel though) and Win and Regine create amazing harmonies. And Regine is a talented babe of a woman.

7. Sleater Kinney - The Woods (2005)

I first heard Sleater Kinney in 2002 when One Beat was released. The song was "Oh!" and I remember thinking that it was just another angry lesbian band, but then I actually listened to the rest of the album and they really grew on me (and the wailing in Oh didn't annoy me as much) and I thought yeah cool, this bands pretty rad. But then The Woods came out and I was blown away. The Duelling guitar sound, the battling vocals, the denser more distorted sounds were all so compelling and sucked me right in. Again, seeing them play at Big Day Out (same year as the Go! Team) was one of the best days of my life. Listen to Jumpers, Modern Girl and Entertain.

6. Broken Social Scene - You Forgot it in People (2002)

This album reminds me of sitting in backyards in summer, smoking cigarettes, drinking coopers and talking shit. Melbourne vs. Adelaide. Being an upset emotional teenager and also one of the raddest times (back then at least, there were more to come in later years). Start to Finish, there are many many MANY associations with this album. Park that Car, Drop that Phone, Sleep on the Floor, Dream about Me.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Top Five of the Decade.

Sorry, i got distracted and deliberated too much on the final order of these top five. I think i've figured out an order i'm happy with though...

5. Sufjan Stevens - Come On, Feel the Illinoise (2005)

I love this album. From the moment the album creaks open with "UFO Sighting, Highland IL" right down to the final twinklings of "Out Of Egypt..." (forgive me for slightly abbreviating the song titles). Sufjan is a magical music maker. Words can't describe how much I like this guy. So I'll let his music do it for me. Listen to Predatory Wasp of The Palisades, Decatur. The Seers Tower and Casimir Pulaski Day to see what I'm talking about.

4. Bjork - Vespertine (2001)

This album is lush and soft and lovely. This album is incredible because Bjork really utilised her surroundings and icelandic background for it. She creates a more introverted little world, like her own little snowglobe. It sounds like Winter at Nighttime. Laced throughout the album are icy snowy sound effects (on one track there is actually boots crushing snow) Best songs on the album are Undo, It's Not Up to You, the wonderful Aurora and Unison.

3. PJ Harvey - Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea (2000)

So many songs on this album have so many different associations for me. They're all good ones though. Road Trips and Beach Drives is the main one. On a Sunni Day. The other one of course is on a rooftop in brooklyn, at one in the morning. oh man, polly jean has got me. I very much love this album, I have listened to it for the last 10 years and have never gotten sick of it.

2. Joanna Newsom - Ys (2006)

Only Skin. Need I say more?

Some of the best songwriting, composing, arrangements are featured on this album. It is epic, orchestral and lyrically beautiful. Joanna Newsom has an art of weaving stories through her delicate harp playing and her grandiose arrangements. This is a fucking amazing album.

1. Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Fever to Tell (2003)

Every time I hear the opening bars of Rich, I still get excited. This album reminds me of being in year 11 and getting excited about music properly for the first time. Karen O was so awe inspiring to me, I found her amazing, frenetic, crazy and unique. I've chosen this album as my number one, because I feel like it defines me best. Every song on this album has had something to do with some part or point of my life. It's a very good representation of my growing up from doing yr 11 and 12, to uni and to moving out for the first time...This album has literally always stuck. I don't know what else to say. Bless.

So that's it folks. Thanks for reading...or at least looking at the pretty pictures and the order I put them in. Until 2020. ugh. x