Sympathetic Stupid

Friday, December 15, 2006

Just One More Thing

Before I skip off to rainy, croc-infested Darwin, just a couple of little things:

The tuneglue musicmap is an unfeasibly large amount of fun. And, it's an interesting pointer to the future of a site like - users donate them such an imposing amount of data which they can use for so many tricksy purposes. Both good and deeply evil. How will this change the future of music? Not sure but probably deeply.

I've been listening to Jen Cloher and the Endless Sea. They're great. Yeah, quite similar to all the others in the current explosion of female Oz troubadours - somewhere between Bowditch and Throsby - but nevertheless endearing.

[taken down by request] Jen Cloher and the Endless Sea - The Longing Song
[taken down by request] Jen Cloher and the Endless Sea - Peaks and Valleys

Probably a bit more upbeat and country-esque than either of the two aforementioned; certainly more optimistic than Throsby. The first track here, The Longing Song, reminds me in structure and feel of Bowditch's The Thing About Grief. The second track given, Peaks and Valleys, is more in the country vein, halfway, probably, to Lucinda Williams.

Most enjoyable, and playing a gig on Saturday night. I'll be on a plane, unfortunately.

Also - one last last thing - Julian from Speak 'n' Spell is pushing hard on The Horrors bandwagon. They're releasing an EP, and to coincide with the single off it, FREE BADGES for all! Polyester and Greville St Records have them, as well as Red Eye in Sydney. Apparently no purchase required.

I'm listening to the single, Sheena Is a Parasite, right now. It's enjoyable. Upbeat and fuzzy and punky, straight outta the seventies, very catchy. A little bit like Eddy Current Suppression Ring but more hi-fi, less actual garage. I'm picking up the EP and a free badge on the way home.

[mp3 - 2MB] The Horrors - Sheena Is a Parasite

One Last Push

Almost at Chrissie now. One last little run. Just gotta get through the last minute shopping and end-of-year parties and over-indulgence and constant, wearying best-of lists. How much more feteing does J Newsom need?

(Not that I'm not impressed and not going to see her in January at the Forum, mind.)

So, went to Meredith, saw some gigs. In order:

Thursday: My Latest Novel and Home Video at the Corner

MLN were really good, played basically everything on Wolves, with Sister Sneaker Sister Soul a real highlight. And such cute Scottish accents. Home Video a little less impressive, their stuff doesn't really do it for me and they seemed a bit underwhelmed. (Possibly it was the crowd, shame it was so poorly attended.)

Firday, Saturday: Meredith:
Augie March great.
Dallas Crane great (except for no Marsanne - bastards!).
Midlake very good.
New Pornos pretty good.
Drones pretty good.
Tapes 'n' Tapes OK.

And that was about all I saw, cause it was so damn hot. Mostly sat up the back and wilted. Or in the tent. But still a great weekend. Imagine if it had've been 10 degrees cooler.

Sunday: Midlake w/ Art of Fighting at the Corner

Art of Fighting are really playing well at the moment, another good set from them. I still love Eastbound, not to mention the old stuff. And some of the other new songs sound like corkers.

Midlake were even better than at Meredith. At the festival they played a short set because setup took forever - legacy of their kilos of keyboards. This set was full-length and included everything good. My highlights were Head Home, Kingfish Pies and We Gathered in Spring, which popped up in the encore. But everything was perfectly played.

(And how emo is the drummer? He looks like he wandered in accidentally from Behind Crimson Eyes.)

Monday: A night off!

Tuesday: The New Pornographers w/ Crayon Fields at the Prince

Missed Crayon Fields but was reliably informed that they weren't that good. Their album's popping up in lots of best-of lists, but I don't love it, though it is pretty accomplished. Plenty of time for them, though.

New Pornos were good. Everyone was there except Bejar, and Kathryn Calder is really cute, and they played Jackie when I screamed out for it. In fact, they actively solicited requests, something you can do when all your songs are great, but it turned out that they couldn't play most of the things requested. (The New Face of Zero and One, The Bones of an Idol and The Mary Martin Show most notably.) It's fun to hear people do Bejar impressions, though.

But they weren't great. The sound was a bit muddy, with the vocals buried, and Neko's voice especially often overwhelmed by the guitars. And, we decided later, it seemed like they weren't really playing as a band, more as a collection of individuals. There was some part of the vibe missing, and the actual playing itself was a little sloppy, though maybe not sloppy enough. Or something. I think it was mainly the sound.

Here's the setlist from that, anyway:

Sing Me Spanish Techno [TC]
The Laws Have Changed [EV]
Jackie, Dressed in Cobras [TC]
The Bleeding Heart Show [TC]
Mass Romantic [MR]
Testament to Youth in Verse [EV]
Miss Teen Wordpower [EV]
These Are the Fables [TC]
Streets of Fire [TC]
Jackie [MR]
The Jessica Numbers [TC]
All for Swinging You Around [EV]
Twin Cinema [TC]
From Blown Speakers [EV]
It's Only Divine Right [EV]
Use It [TC]
The Slow Descent Into Alcoholism [MR]

Execution Day [MR]
Letter From an Occupant [MR]

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The Scottish Belle and Sebastian

To be fair, "The Scottish Arcade Fire" is a hard-to-refuse tagline, even though it is a little stupid. That's what My Latest Novel are being called, and it's working, too. Every good indie-kid who hears the phrase wants to give them a chance. Hey, I bought a ticket to their gig purely on that recommendation.

Is it true? Judge for yourself. This is the standout centerpiece of their debut album Wolves.

[mp3 - ysi - 8MB] My Latest Novel - Sister Sneaker Sister Soul

That's right. It starts out as a pretty indie-pop number, then fades out - but not all the way. And then it's building to a big fat post-rock explosion, complete with a storming drum line, before falling back to basics, with only the strings still visible.

It's Arcade Fire-ish in the basic plan, to make interesting, eclectic indie-rock. But in the specifics, it's less muscular and bombastic, rarely touching that straight ahead anthemic indie-rock that dominates Funeral. The feel, despite the obvious noise leanings, is less jubilant and more thoughtful, more like Une Année Sans Lumière, to which The Hope Edition compares pretty favourably.

The obvious touchstones, then, are much closer to their Glasgow home. The noisy rock builds are Mogwai's type of post-rock. And there's plenty of mid-period Belle and Sebastian and Arab Strap, if only in The Job Mr Kurtz Done. But that's probably just Glaswegian accent bigotry on my part. My other favourite track on the album, though, is Learning Lego, which has a first section straight out of Low's slow-core playbook. It builds, though, into a clever tempo change and mass choral ending.

They keep changing it up throughout, keeping things moving, thought the post-rock builds are pretty common. But there's a good feel to the whole enterprise, it's produced well, and there isn't a truly dud track.

[visit their website]
[buy the album from Speak 'n' Spell]

ADDENDUM: And I forgot to mention that My Latest Novel are playing tonight - that's Thursday 7th - at the Corner. I'll be there. It'll be fun. Double billing with indie-electronic kids Home Video.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Dappled Buzz

So Dappled Cities Fly are certified as the Next Big Thing with a whole post on the taste-making behemoth stereogum. Here's what's next: posted on YANP and IGIF, Pitchfork review, track on the OC soundtrack, intensive touring, track on indie movie soundtrack, follow-up album rushed out, backlash, drugs, backlash, marry Delta Goodrem, backlash, dissolution.

Nah, seriously, they have had a lot of buzz, and this isn't going away any time soon, with a signing to Dangerbird Records, the home of now ex-buzz band Silversun Pickups. They played at New York's ridiculous industry fest, CMJ. More importantly, though, they released an album, their second, Granddance.

There's no doubt these guys can be big; I kinda thought it was just Sydney blogger buzz (you know how those guys are) which pushed them to Number 1 on Sean's 2006 chart (a noble and well-executed endeavour, incidentally). But then I decided the wheel had turned back to indie-rock, and I went out and bought Granddance (along with Return to Cookie Mountain and the My Latest Novel album).

I've only listened to the whole thing a coupla times but this track, the opener, is over-represented in my stats:

[mp3 - ysi - 6MB] Dappled Cities Fly - Holy Chord

I'm a serious sucker for a slow build, and this one takes half the song for the drums to really kick in. It has yer indie quota of quirky cadence and pitch on the vocals and sea-shanty da-da-daing in the words. But it's the descending major chords in the last third of the song, with the euphoric vocals soaring over the top, that make it anthemic. Just can't go past an indie-rock anthem.

[visit their website]
[visit their myspace]
[buy the album from Redeye]