Wednesday, June 30, 2010

#30 - Surfer Blood

They sound like summer which currently, in this bitch-slap of a winter (my showers are way too hard to get out of and my bones are sore) is gospel news to my chippy little ears. These surfers aren’t afraid of riffs (sorry, that’s just horrible) and there’s something really satisfying about the clean, twangy fretwork from this Florida five-piece. Busy drums and reckless hooks, I’m a sucker for it. If their live set is as volatile as the recording we’re in for a treat. Oh and lead singer J.P. Pitts is also in the running for best name ever.

Tracks to check out before you see them:
(If you haven’t already) Swim. the lead single and killer catchy number. Undeniably Weezer sounding, critically astounding and manically fun.

Twin Peaks

Slow Jabroni. Surfer Blood at their best. 3 minutes in and everything clicks; really worth a listen.

Splendour Countdown

One month from now, thousands will embark on a musical pilgrimage like no other in Australia’s history. To my memory, the greatest line-up ever to grace this land, Splendour in the Grass 2010 will take place and lives will be made complete. Embrace the hysteria and euphoria- this is our generations Woodstock baby. To celebrate, us pop criminals are going to be counting down the 30 days remaining by previewing the acts we're most excited for.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Cloud Control Bliss Release Tour, Annandale Hotel 25/6/2010

Ten years on and the Annandale continues to champion local talent, showcasing some of Sydney’s finest bands. As apart of the iconic venue’s 10th birthday celebrations Cloud Control served up a jovial romp with a side of delight. And we all had seconds.

First up Jinja Safari spoilt us with their lavish melodies and intricate afro-beats. Live these guys are the embodiment of energy and fun with their ‘ugly dancing’ and bizarre animal noise harmonies. Mr. Safari, please give us an EP or album soon so I can listen to you on repeat, infinitely. Regards, Jinja zealot.

Synth laden three-piece We Say BamboulĂ©e create remarkably original and entertaining bites of helium-pop. A highlight of the night was their song Party Punch, a triumphant number that held its audience in Hitchcock-like suspense, building and building, drummer Russell Fitzgibbon’s eyes rolling further back into his head before culminating in glorious synchronised jumping. Truly grand.

Kyu returned to the live music scene with an unfortunately disjointed set, still shaking off the recent sabbatical and suffering from some sound difficulties. The band’s sound is a mix of messy, experimental folktronica and some finely layered vocals. I wasn’t that into it and was consequently chastised by my friends who likened them to Bjork and Fever Ray. Their closing number showed the band at their most animated with tribal bellowing, looping tings of a xylophone and distorted rainforest noises.

For a long time now Cloud Control has been slowly simmering, marinating in their own genius. I mean, when you look at the quality on their self-titled EP their inevitable success was never a question of if but only a question of when.

They bound onstage as playful as usual; the friendly faces you know so well but have never met. Jeremy Kelshaw (bassist) still attempts uncomfortable banter, Vintage Books still gets a raucous response and the band still plays with a peppy eagerness tantamount to Cloud Control of old. But the band is significantly different.

Opening with There’s Nothing In The Water We Can’t Fight, the refinement is ridiculously obvious. The band is tighter, tidier, trimmed, cleaned, cropped cut and in their element. This Is What I Said reminds us of the deadly amount of crowd-pleasing tracks the band now has to call from (see set-list, and then for further reference see tracks omitted from set-list).

Cloud Control gave a generous and almost perfect set-list (is anyone else crushed over the absence of Into the Line from recent shows?) with some unexpected charmers sneaking through such as In Your World and Beast of Love. When Alister Wright’s (Guitar and Vocals) stunning falsetto sings “You were all I needed/You are all I need still” the crowd is completely transfixed. Heidi Lenffer (Keyboard and Vocals.) announced that “this next song is for Triple J listeners” to which the hum of Gold Canary began, as did the sing-along.

Encoring with Ghost Story, its rolling drums and echoed vocals stirred hand-clapping and seeing who could sing ‘I felt the hair on the back of my neck stand up’ the loudest. A deceptive interlude almost had us fooled, but when the familiar intro to Death Cloud began, rapturous smiles were prevalent. Cloud Control delivered a lucid tapestry of folk perfections; it’s no wonder why we’ve fallen so hard for them when they perform this brilliantly.

There’s Nothing In The Water We Can’t Fight
This Is What I Said
Vintage Books
The Rolling Stone
In Your World
Meditation Song #2 (Why, Oh Why)
My Fear #2
Beast Of Love
Gold Canary
Buffalo Country

Ghost Story
Death Cloud

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Russell Brand, Sydney Entertainment Centre 10/6/2010

Russell Brand


Sydney Entertainment Centre

After the annunciation of Australian tour dates Russell Brand fans and freaks everywhere grabbed their tickets and awaited a show we all knew would encompass his signature elements of grit, intelligence and awkwardness. Brand's flair for language and effective craft work over speech has certainly proved him to be a one man show. An impressive portrayal of various characters comes through in his efforts to draw his audience into his past, in which he struggled with years of heroin, alcohol and sexual addiction. (A bizarre sex appeal it would seem, although the screaming girls amongst each row in the auditorium may have said otherwise).

Recent years have been quite eventful for Brand with opportunities multiplying along with the count of his fan base. Russell has fulfilled his dreams of appearing in Hollywood films along with touring sold out stand up shows internationally. Events which offer Brand the opportunity to completely show off. And why deny him that? He is marvelously good at it. His controversial comments on both celebrities and those unfortunate enough to be targeted in audiences have only added to his unique style as a performer. His best-selling autobiography provided fans with a vivid recount of a strangely melancholic history, dwelling into his drug habits, sexual abuse and painful efforts to maintain a presence on stage and camera. With these events acting as a guideline for most performances Brand has demonstrated how a transition in perception can become a comedic art.

The audience of The Sydney Entertainment Centre on July 10th seemed to be under a false sense of security. Given all the recent coverage of Brand over the past year, we seemed to have a grasp on what we were about to witness, although we had no idea. But then Russell had no idea that at some point a cross dressing-blue haired fan would approach him and ask for a hug, a fan which Brand described as a "transvestite Katy Perry". Judging by the laughs that proceeded, I think the audience had deemed that statement an accurate description... It was obvious that the beginning 15 minutes of the show (during which Brand walked amongst the audience), everyone's ideas about the direction of the performance were shattered. The nature of unpredictability is definitely an element that Brand thrives off. Preying on the Twilight cast and some random guys dad during a prank call, Brand had some audience members literally gasping and wide mouthed. His ability to improvise a large percentage of his material in front of 7000 people is not only hilarious, but incredibly impressive. Commenting on the ridiculous Sydney-Melbourne rivalry and Australia's early relocation of English convicts - he had certainly captured his Australian audience.

It was everything an audience could ask for and more. Except perhaps for those token people who are dragged along to an event with no previous knowledge of the performer.. Before entering the auditorium I distinctly heard some older guy in suit ask, "He's English isn't he?". I wondered what his reaction was when a grown man began fornicating with a plastic chair on stage in tight clothing. Brand's uncontrollable antics were certainly the highlight of his performance. It is difficult to leave a show disappointed and without a few more words blended into your vocabulary. His professional history and recent accomplishments have been a dream come true. He has captivated audiences with behaviour that has often mirrored the essence of a rockstar. Most attempts at describing Brand's act would simply feel like an understatement. It would be more beneficial to just experience it.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Miami Horror Moon Theory Tour, Manning Bar 12/6/2010

Miami Horror
Last Dinosaurs
Jinja Safari

Manning Bar

Miami Horror have perfected the art of 80’s revisited dance infections, crafting numbers that burrow so far into your skull that the only cure is to dance yourself into a frenzy (picture one of those animated clouds of fury where two characters are fighting, except instead of fighting they’re busting some sweet moves). This is no different live with the band/DJ/producer/etc delivering a fluent translation of their synthed-up power-pop mastery.

Local 3-month old baby-band, Jinja Safari were the sports bra of support acts. Their unique brand of sitar-wielding, smile-inducing, ‘forest rock’ was so affable that it hurt. This might sound hyped/dramatic but it seems that this band is poised to take over the world, one dynamic and engaging performance at a time. Is it reasonable to ask a support act for an encore?

Brisbane band Last Dinosaurs make enjoyable pop-rock goodness. Imagine a tropical Red Riders and you’re on the right track. It sounded fairly samey though, bordering on indie-banality. In saying that stand out tracks Alps and Honolulu really hit the spot. If you were to blend those bad boys down you’d be drinking pure liquid wonderment.

In November last year Miami Horror played at OAF where the atmosphere felt more like a joyous house party rather then a concert. 6 months later and the band has kept the frivolity but fused it with a refinement that only comes from experience.

Don’t be on with her got even the too-cool hipsters dancing early with its lavish space melodies and video-game guitar riffs. They continued to showcase new songs for the eagerly awaited debut album, hinting at a drift towards more sharp, electric soundscapes.

Crowd-pleaser Make You Mine cast its contagious dance spell on feverent ears. Co-front man Josh Moriarty sung “baby, you’ve got me feeling it in my feet, you’ve got me dancing” and he wasn’t lying; boy can he cut some moves! Discoesq Moon Theory had a Girl and the Sea feel to it, with its slower rhythm and shimmering synthesisers.

The set seemed to plateau into a series of giant dance jams and impromptu guitar solos. It failed to retain the intensity of previous songs, but maybe people were just tired.

Sometimes people dance to songs. Sometimes people dance really hard to songs with a zeal only held by pill-poppers. Sometimes, bands like Miami Horror play dance-anthem Sometimes and everyone loses their minds. The entire Manning Bar morphed into one pulsing body; a tangle of fist-pumping and glute-shaking.

Reappearing onstage, the band mused on the pointlessness of encores yet followed this with an explosive Summerfest ’86. Amps and drum kits became playground equipment in a volatile frenzy of fun. The closing show for the Moon Theory tour was a treat of dance delicacies that left a reviewer sore, sweaty but enthused.