Monday, July 12, 2010

Jinja Safari Debut Headline Show

Spectrum 9/7/2010

Opening to the punctual kids, Lincoln Davis hummed folk niceties, neither attention-grabbing nor uninteresting but somewhere in between. His sharp classical guitar fretwork was notably commendable; his bizarre heavy metal moan/growl at the end of song Life was not.

Recently signed to Ivy League, Justin Wonsley Snowball aka Wons Phreely has taken to the road to share his enjoyable ‘good times’ music. Tracks like The World Has a Bank Account showed the group’s indie-pop prowess with its perky melody and witty lyrics. With a pocketful of charm and a handful of lollies, Wons won us over.

In the space of 5 months, cyclone Jinja has left a destructive path of fan adoration and industry attention. We’ve seen the birth and boom of Jinja Safari, their tumultuous live shows, the deserved winning of a spot opening Splendour in the Grass (cue euphoric screaming and hyper ventilating) and now this- their first headline show.

Bounding on stage with customary pep and exuberance, the venue now filled with a crowd braced for dancing, Hiccups’ frantic percussion and delectable melody ignited the sweaty celebrations. Picture this: a throng of animal-disguised, Jinja-crazed ruffians transformed into one gyrating motion of hip-shaking, hand-raising and feet-stomping. Beautiful, isn’t it?

Pepa Knight’s glorious sitar interlude beckoned the dreamy musical chimings of Peter Pan. Normally reserved for more established bands, the sing-along from the audience was remarkable; testament to the tunes lyrical irresistibility. The song delicately unwinds into the harmonies of “giant mysterious swell that rolls over the treetops it will sway” and the hypnotised crowd is left hazy, as if awakening from some magical musically-induced coma.

Following this was the playful pop-romp, Families complete with encouraged ‘ugly dancing’. Percussionist Alister Roach showed how it was done, bursting with untamed ferocity between djembe-jams (did you know that the djembe drum in its native tongue means ‘everyone gather together’? Incredibly fitting for a song titled Families don’t you think? Jinja Safari, uniting people since 2010.)

The band closed with two of their most explosive tracks, Forest Eyes (imagine Paul Simon and Ezra Koenig collaborating, and then imagine it being outdone by this beguiling wonder tune) and Mermaid; a song regarding the pains of unrequited love with these mythical sea babes. Both numbers spurred uncontrollable fits of ecstasy, both on and offstage. A suitable finish to a vigorous (vigorous is an understatement, lets just say if these guys were in the Olympics I’d check them for steroid use) and flawless performance.

No encore was met by a mixed response; personally I wished the show could have continued into the wee hours of forever but my aching body, teetering on the edge of exhaustion, welcomed the end with open arms.

Jinja Safari has a strange effect on me- with every listen, my thirst is left unsatisfied. However this is not due to a substandard performance but rather my appetite for their lavish joy-jives continuing to grow into an unquenchable monster. It’s a curse Jinja will have to live with but will inherently lead to their total and utter domination of the musical world’s brain space, playlists and airwaves. And if you think this sounds hyped, come to their next show and tell me otherwise.




Peter Pan




Forest Eyes


Richard in Your Mind Album Launch - My Volcano

Spectrum 3/7/2010

Richard in Your Mind launched their eagerly awaited (and from the crowd response, eagerly received) sophomore album My Volcano with an erupting showcase of old and new tunes. Spectrum was transformed into a mystical psych-space of sorts, complete with palm trees, peace symbol sculptures and parrots donned with leis (well, actually ducks painted as parrots. Richard couldn’t find parrots and he apologised for this.)

Blue Mountains act We Say BamboulĂ©e continue to conjure up soothing, poptimistic gems laced with hooks and amusement. It’s as if Alexis Taylor (Hot Chip) recorded his reverie only to melt it down to its elemental, short-attention-span-satisfying form. Their performance cavorted between endearingly amateur and exceptionally refined.

Closing with Funeral Social, lead singer Doug Wright belted out a trumpet number with no-easy-feat intensity that left satisfaction ringing in the crowd’s ears.

When I last saw Kyu I embarrassingly shrugged them off like an ill-fitting shirt. Well, the shirt actually fit and the egg on my face was supplied by an enthralling performance. Freya Berkhout and Alyx Dennison meld haunting melodies with thunderous vocals to create an all encompassing sound of animalistic energy and unleashed passion and on Saturday, we were the victims of its potent grip.

Richard Cartwright, the lovably gawkish front man, seems to be the crux of the band’s popularity with his amiable presence and engaging hi-jinks. This was no different on Saturday as I, like many others I presume, could not take my eyes of this psychedelic magician and his musical antics.

Beguiling new tracks Birds and Tiny Colossus Face opened the night, introducing a more tropical sound (see marriage of steel drums and Caribbean beats with distorted riffs on My Volcano opening track.) The audience takes this in its stride; if there’s one thing you can expect from a RIYM performance it’s the myriad of sounds, genres and influences the band holds on their pallet.

A faulty mike only allows Richard to spur bizarre stage banter as he introduces his roadie friend Henry the ‘lucky magic man’ before a brief rant on how good sticky tape is. A taste of familiarity with The Valley as the sluggish melody drips from the speakers. Richard quickly snaps back to crowd engagement with his reggaesq-rap Cause we gotta fight / for our right / to not be uptight, right?

Crowd-pleaser The New Sun takes full advantage of the plethora of pedals and effects on offer and everyone loosens up that one extra bit. Little pockets of dancing break out and Richard spreads some confetti love.

I’m not sure what the turn of events were, I swear I turned away for only half a second and then all of a sudden Richard had his shirt off and was painting himself. While the band continued it’s extended jamming on what might have been Mongrowlia, Richard dressed himself in a beaming blood-eyed yeti beast costume and rocked out the only way he knows how- with distorted flare and canny tenacity.

In my opinion, the music isn’t that amazing but it’s interesting. While the performance failed to melt my face into a watery puddle of awe (as most psychedelic rockers aim to do) it made up for it with its distinct creativity. A-Grade freak out music, could you ask for more?

Sunday, July 4, 2010

#26 Little Red

I’m convinced that drummer, Taka Honda, is unable to frown. I’m also convinced that Little Red has somehow tapped into his joy and put lyrics to it. On first listen, obvious Beach Boys similarities are drawn from their 60’s sounding delights- the sunshine popness, the brevity and the four-piece harmonies. New stuff like single Rock It is being pushed as Spaghetti Reggae (whatever that is) and I’m quite curious to see the more soulful Little Red live show.

Looking forward to a good jive and shake to tracks-

Coca Cola. As irresistible as the drink itself? 2:22 of hip swinging and finger clicking.

Fight Song

Witchdoctor. While the band shares vocal responsibilities, this lavish stunner of a track confirms that Quang Dinh does it best.

Actually, come to think of it, pretty much all of Listen to Little Red

#27 We Are Scientists

Fun and catchy fairy-floss rock that tastes good but rapidly disintegrates in your mouth. Musically, there is nothing remarkably groundbreaking or breathtaking about their acute hook n roll, but it could be argued that the punchy tracks were never made to be the foundations of a substantial musical diet. It’s never going to fill you up but sometimes you just feel like eating fairy floss. They grab the #27 spot due to pure nostalgia; like many of us With Love and Squalor evokes pungent early high school memories. A chance to see them at splendour would dose me up with my fix of cheap indie-pop thrills that I so sorely crave.

Listen to: (I haven’t checked out Barbara yet so I’m only going off their other two albums)

Nobody Move, Nobody Gets Hurt. There’s something quite satisfying about that chorus. If you want to use my body / Go for it. Thanks Keith, I’ll keep that in mind.

The Great Escape.

That’s What Counts. Dastardly good melody. And those horns! Oh my!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

#28 The Temper Trap

You might be asking why the highest Australian placed act on the splendour bill is coming in at a humble 28, well personal taste can’t be justified and I’ve also heard that their live show is dull and lacklustre. So I approach these prodigal children (do they still call Australia home?) with curiosity and caution. In saying that, surely 500,000 worldwide album sales can’t be wrong (right?) and Conditions is brimming with sharp, indie-rock irresistibility.

Live priorities include-

Sweet Disposition. If you haven’t heard it, see a doctor. That or listen to it and go “oh this song, yeah I’ve heard this song- who hasn’t?” Credit where credit is due and this is a pretty stellar track, the opening riff, the falsetto, the thunderous drums, the building, the chant, the climatic chorus- no wonder it won APRA single of the year.

Love Lost

Fader. When do woo-hoo-hoo-hoo’s not work?

Resurrection. The second half in particular, you know when all the time you invested in the song starts to pay dividends.

#29 Oh Mercy

I saw these guys support The Veils last year (one of the best shows of 2009) and I was initially hesitant to praise. They seemed to tread a fine line between Bob Dylan influenced and a Bob Dylan tribute band (band name, musical and lyrical style, harmonica). But they just reeked talent and put on the kind of wholesome performance that erases all cynicism. Oh Mercy indeed, or more appropriately, oh merci, because that’s how tracks like Get You Back make me feel. Quite thankful. The aforementioned standout track grabs you by the earlobes and sweet talks the living daylights out of you.

You should also really listen to:
Seemed Like A Good Idea

Cant Fight It. Caffeinated melodies and Luke Steelesq vocals (Sleepy Jackson Steele, not Empire of the Sun) paint dreamy affairs.

Lay Everything On Me. I am at the mercy of this song’s seduction. It conjures up images of someone sauntering into a dimly lit room, all nervous charm and smooth beats. This is one of the most potent pick-up lines Oh Mercy delivers, and it works a treat. They’re my new band crush.