Sympathetic Stupid

Friday, October 27, 2006


This is little and enjoyable:

This Blog Is a Stone

And this is always funny:

Gerard vs. Bear

But this one remains my favourite, I think:

Said the Gramophone

Thursday, October 26, 2006

It's the Vibe

So Sean at A Reminder's doing his second annual Top 25 Australian Artists list. Got me thinking, anyway. Fair bet my list will be from:

Art of Fighting
Augie March
Because of Ghosts
The Drones (my hot tip for number 1 overall)
Faux Pas
Grand Salvo
My Disco
Holly Throsby

But the process of listing all the Oz bands on my mp3 player brought up four variously old-school names - The Go-Betweens, Smudge, The Someloves and The Triffids.

None of these are going concerns so they're not eligible for Sean's big list - it's not an all-time list. But all have had reissues this year and I've been listening to them more than many of the artists which will finally make my list. And, also, they're great. So here's some tracks:

[mp3 - ysi - 6MB] The Go-Betweens - Five Words [from Spring Hill Fair]

Well, OK, so no Go-Betweens albums were actually reissued but I hadn't heard much at all before the last couple of months. This album's a corker, containing not only the classic Bachelor Kisses but also at least another four or five really good tracks. Five Words is one of them.

[mp3 - ysi - 2MB] Smudge - Scary Cassettes [from Manilow]

Smudge are fun. This album not only has two fully-formed four second power-pop tracks but also a cover of Charles in Charge. Don't just write it off as novelty because it's better than ninety percent of the "alternative" stuff of the mid-90s, and still stands up on its own through the low-fi-ness. This track's an ode to Lou Barlow.

[mp3 - ysi - 8MB] The Someloves - Melt [from Something or Other - reissued in Don't Talk About Us]

This album, though, is one of the power-pop releases Manilow is not better than. Neat production, great tunes, hooks galore. I can't believe I'd never heard of this album or The Someloves themselves.

[mp3 - ysi - 6MB] The Triffids - Chicken Killer [from Born Sandy Devotional]

Lastly but not leastly, The Triffids finally being reissued. Everyone knows Wide Open Road but there is plenty of other good work on this album - not to mention the title track which sits amongst the extras after missing the original cut. But I like Chicken Killer best - the anthemic chorus foreshadowing Nick Cave's last album, but about twenty years earlier.

[buy Don't Talk About Us and Manilow from Half a Cow Records]
[buy Born Sandy Devotional from Liberation Music]
[buy Spring Hill Fair from amazon]

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Rocksteady and Bebop

(Rocksteady was the rhino, Bebop was the warthog.)

Rocktober belongs to The Hold Steady. The new album, Boys and Girls in America hasn't got a local release yet but Polyester Records have it on import, of course. Cause they're great, that's why.

Last year's album, Separation Sunday was pretty damn good. Craig Finn's lyrics were parts religious - "I guess I heard about original sin/I heard the dude blamed the chick/I heard the chick blamed the snake" - and parts profane - "I ain't never been with your little hoodrat friend" - half-spoken, half-sung on top of big riffs and rocking full-bore rhythms. This was a logical progression from their patchy debut, Almost Killed Me, recently re-released here.

No seismic changes, then, for Boys and Girls in America, but this is the album where it all ties together. The twine, as pinpointed in pitchfork's panegyric (9.4!) is the keyboard. Stevie Nix, the best track on the last album, had that weird slow piano break in the middle; initially incongruous but eventually glorious. Every track on the new album, though, has piano/organ/keys all over it, in turns through the back and at the front, but fitting in everywhere. And in general the arrangments just have more of everything, guitars, backing vocals.

So here's a track. Southtown Girls is the anthemic closer, ticking all the boxes - big hooky chorus, solos for everyone, epic length (well, the longest on the album at 5:10). I'd love to see this live.

[MP3 - 7MB] The Hold Steady - Southtown Girls

Friday, October 13, 2006

Telstra Swims With the Fishes

Has Al Gore gained some special power that allows him to capture the corporate world's imagination? Or is he just riding the green wave as it surges over the fabled tipping point?

Yesterday it was Intrepid Travel, today it's Telstra. Or at least their Sensis subsidiary. It's been trying (and largely failing) to grab a piece of the search engine market. Yeah, competing against the Google steamroller sounds like a horrible idea to me, too.

So they're looking to sweeten the deal by appealing to your conscience - you can now search for clearer air. Every time you use the site they'll give Greening Australia some money so trees can be planted and the air improved. And they'll even do the same when you forward around the promotional email! Greening the world by polluting the internet.

Little more, really, than a bit of green-washing for the company. Good on them for trying; as I said, it's good to see it entering the corporate mindset. Doubtless it won't work though, because it's still a crap search engine. My one-second test involves searching for this blog. Google finds it number one. Sensis doesn't find it at all. Thank you and avagudweeken.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

I Think It's His Lung

Oh God, I just found Rate Your Music - this can only be a bad thing. No human contact until I've finished rating every piece of music I own. Or have ever heard.

Intrepid Travel really really want people to see the Gore movie. No, I don't fully understand the connection either, but they'll pay your full ticket price. It's a bit token because there's a six week turnaround on getting the cash back, and because it'll be mostly the converted who hear about it. But an interesting piece of corporate activism nonetheless. (from nownow)

Saw some Fringing last night. First The Bedroom Philosopher, who was great. He sings, plays guitar, dances, tells us about his childhood; ok, nothing ground-breaking, but it's all in the execution. He's full of sharp, self-deprecating wit, and the songs are catchy and easy to grab onto even at the first listen. I'm So Over Girls even gets down deep into the heart-strings; not overly melodramatic though. A fun, engaging hour or so.

And then The Town Bikes. I guess this is almost burlesque (isn't everything round here?) but without the gratuitous sex and nudity. It's pantomime, then, but without any speaking or even much singing. So maybe it's dance, but with elaborate costume changes and spurting breasts. Performance, I guess. It's certainly an interesting show though a bit opaque, with no obvious narrative or meaning behind anything. But the performance is so high-energy and wacky that you'll get sucked in, even if you're a bit confused at the end.

You've got a couple more nights to see them so get there.

And here's an extraordinarily low-quality Ween:

[MP3- 2.7M] Ween - Mister Would You Please Help My Pony?

[buy from Amazon]
[official site]

Monday, October 09, 2006

Summer Days

I wrote a review for Halo-17, it's about the Khancoban mini-album. I liked it. Go to the site and read things there.

I've been listening to Crayon Fields. As Pat said, the name doesn't pull any punches - cute they sound and nauseatingly twee they are. Clean and pretty production, breathy falsetto harmonies, jangly guitars, ringing xylophones. Handclaps. Bells. Triangles. It adds up to the Beach Boys/Architecture in Helsinki/The Byrds thing you'd expect. The lyrics are closer to It'5 than God Only Knows - the most ridiculous bit is in Lovely Time where we get it mispronounced as "Wuvley Time".

But it's good. A bit wearing on the ears, with all the sound up in the bat realms and very little bass to balance it out. But they're hooky enough to sustain the candy pop feel, while the sensitively produced layers of instruments give them a bit of stayability. The track I've got here, Choir of Tiny Boys, opens the album with a 1:23 mission statement. If you don't like this, it's safe to say the album's not for you. And Living So Well is the standout track, a breezy, summery, poppy gem.

[MP3 - 1.3MB] Crayon Fields - Choir of Tiny Boys
[MP3 - myspace] Crayon Fields - Living So Well

[buy at good ol' Trifekta]
[the website] (watch out for the excessively cute small child)
[the myspace]

Monday, October 02, 2006

Just Another Manic

Not much on today inside my brain but I did surprisingly buy some CDs. I'm especially excited about the new LP from Because of Ghosts. Also got the new full-length from My Disco - "full-length" used liberally as it's eight tracks and less than twenty-five minutes.

On Friday night, did some Fringey stuff, saw Lawrence Leung first up and he was excellent as always. I highly recommend Puzzle Boy on the next two Fridays.

Then, at the Fringe Club in the midst of the North Melbourne Town Hall, saw Keating - The Musical. Vic and I were happy since neither of us saw it when it was cool at the Comedy Festival last year, and since then it's been around Australia - this was the last one ever! It's hilarious, I remembered most of the stuff they went on about, from Keating and Hawkey, through Gareth Gareth Evans and Doctor John Hewson all the way to Howard. The bit in the middle of the show with the Fightback Rap into I Wanna Do You Slowly was the highlight, followed closely by Ruler of the Land. But the whole thing was great, despite the fact that it basically just massaged the audience's prejudices, skewing way left.

Also, Sean at A Reminder not only plugged this blog but continues to pump out quality material. The Drones cover of Cortez the Killer that he links to is pretty good, considering the high quality of the original epic. And while he does live in Sydney, he's from Canada originally, and most of the Oz bands he links to are from Melbourne, so I can forgive that.