Archive by Author

Album review: Heartworm by Whipping Boy

12 Mar

(Disclaimer: I first wrote this review on the 7th of March over on Rate Your Music. It says pretty much everything I want to say about Heartworm, so I have chosen to reproduce it here with only minor modifications.)

There are times when I wonder how long it will be until I find another band, even another album, or merely just another song that affects me as deeply as my established favourites. I will listen to swathes of new albums, both new releases and old releases new to me, and while I will often come away with the feeling that I have listened to good music, music that I will likely return to in future, I don’t feel inextricably drawn back or particularly moved. A feeling, perhaps even a fear, develops within me that no more music will impact me as deeply as before. I am well aware that from past experience, an album will eventually crop up that completely floors me, but that does not change the sense of disillusionment I feel in the moment. That is how I felt at the start of March 2010.

Then I discovered Heartworm.

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Concert review: The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, 18 February 2010, Melbourne

9 Mar

After performing a sell-out show at the East Brunswick Club on the 17th of February, The Pains played a second gig at the same venue on the 18th. In addition, they made an in-store appearance at Polyester Records the afternoon before the second show; although I did not go, there is a bootleg of the five song set you can download from here.

Unfortunately, I haven’t found a bootleg of the 18/02 gig itself (why haven’t I bought recording gear yet?), so you’re going to have to take my word for how good this show was.

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Album review: Écailles de Lune by Alcest

8 Mar

In 2007, I was completely broadsided by Alcest, essentially the solo project of French musician Neige. Fear Of A Blank Planet by Porcupine Tree had settled in quite comfortably as my obvious candidate for Album of 2007 in April. In late June, just before I was to depart for a week in New Zealand, Souvenirs D’un Autre Monde leaked onto the Intarwebz and all I could do was investigate it after reading it described as “shoegaze black metal”. The album blew me away. I rank it in my ten favourite albums ever, and it is inextricably tied up with memories of the Tasman Bay region, where I spent rainsoaked July nights listening to it. Very swiftly, Fear Of A Blank Planet was dethroned, and nothing has subsequently challenged Souvenirs for the title of Album of 2007. Indeed, it has only two or three challengers for the distinction of my Album of the 2000s.

Where next for Neige? I could barely contain my excitement when I learnt Écailles de Lune, Alcest’s second album, would be released on the 29th of March. I was especially keen in light of Percées de Lumière, an extraordinary song on last year’s split with Les Discrets that has now been included in Écailles de Lune’s tracklist. But could Neige possibly replicate the revelatory, beautiful grandeur of Souvenirs?

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Concert review: The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, 17 February 2010, Melbourne

5 Mar

Last month, The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart (should that be The Pains Of Having A Shit Band Name, or perhaps just The Pains?) made their first visit to Australian shores. Opening their jaunt around the country were two concerts at the East Brunswick Club, funnily enough located in Melbourne’s inner northern suburb of East Brunswick. The first show, the subject of this review, took place on the 17th of February, with the second – to be a review subject in the near future – on the next night.

The Pains’ eponymous debut album had grown on me during 2009 and I have become pretty fond of it. Stay Alive is one of my favourite tracks from the year, and the Higher Than The Stars EP capped off a good year for the Pains. How would they go on stage?

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Concert review: The Shadows and some other guy, 13 February 2010, Melbourne

5 Mar

Last time I posted, I reviewed a gig by noise rockers A Place To Bury Strangers at Melbourne club The Corner. So, what do you think I saw the very next night?

Well?

Whatever you’re thinking, you’re wrong. Completely and utterly wrong. I saw Cliff Richard and The Shadows at Rod Laver Arena. That’s right, Cliff Richard and The Shadows. Why on earth would I subject myself to Cliff?

Two words: The Shadows. Two more specific words: Hank Marvin.

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Concert Review: A Place To Bury Strangers live in Melbourne, 12 February 2010

20 Feb

Since I won’t have much time to write in the coming week, today I have been trying to get through my backlog of concerts to review. After my Porcupine Tree jaunt, the next band on my calendar was quite a change of pace: American noise rockers A Place To Bury Strangers on their first visit to Australia. Their Aussie visit was even shorter than Porcupine Tree’s, featuring gigs solely in Sydney and Melbourne. I was in attendance at the Melbourne concert, held at the Corner Hotel in the inner suburb of Richmond.

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Concert Review: Porcupine Tree live in Melbourne, 7 February 2010

20 Feb

After performing high quality sets in Brisbane and Sydney, I was finally able to welcome Porcupine Tree to my home city, and the first city they ever played in Australia back in 2008, marvellous Melbourne. It had been something of a stressful day for us and some of the other familiar faces that had come to make up the majority of the front row each night. Flights from Sydney to Melbourne had been cancelled, including mine; in a panicked flurry of activity far before any time I’d like to be awake, my girlfriend and I were lucky enough to make an earlier departure. In the queue outside the venue, The Palace (formerly The Metro) on Bourke Street in the CBD, we found out others had been affected, some arriving later than planned.

In the end, it seemed nobody had been too disadvantaged, and as the usual group formed at the head of the queue, I don’t think any of us quite realised what sort of a performance the band were about to give us …

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Concert Review: Porcupine Tree live in Sydney, 6 February 2010

20 Feb

Porcupine Tree’s second of three Australian concerts for 2010 took place in Sydney on the 6th of February at the Enmore Theatre. After the Brisbane concert that I reviewed yesterday, my girlfriend and I, as well as a number of other avid Porcupine Tree fans, shot down to Sydney to see the band again.

As we sat on the pavement in Newtown waiting for doors to open, we pondered the possibilities for the gig, anticipating at least some change to the setlist. In Brisbane, we thought we heard Fadeaway soundchecked – alas, it was not to be; my favourite Porcupine Tree song (with Piano Lessons) from 1993’s Up The Downstair was simply being played from CD for purposes we don’t fully know. However, some other changes were in store …

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Concert Review: Porcupine Tree live in Brisbane, 5 February 2010

18 Feb

February, fairly unsurprisingly, is concert season down here in Australia as overseas bands flee the Northern Hemisphere for our summery shores. Since my last concert review, I’ve been to seven more gigs and some more are coming up, so I better get my arse into gear and review them, huh?

First up, my favourite band: the one and only Porcupine Tree visited Australia for the second time in their history. Back in 2008, they hit Melbourne, then Sydney and finally Brisbane. This time around, they played exactly the same venues, but in reverse, and like last time, I was at all three. The 2008 visit was a bit of a foray to gauge demand, and given the strong response the band received, I was a bit disappointed they did not expand into other markets such as Adelaide, Perth, and New Zealand, but beggars can’t be choosers.

The pick of the 2008 concerts was probably the Brisbane show at the Tivoli Theatre. Melbourne was the most consistent, but Brisbane reached the highest peaks, especially during the face-melting second part of Anesthetize and the sole Australian performance to date of Even Less. Could 2010 compare?

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Invasion Day: Selections of Whitefella Music

26 Jan

Here in Australia, 26 January is Invasion Day – or in official parlance, “Australia Day”. It marks the day in 1788 when when the First Fleet landed at Sydney Cove, illegally proclaimed British sovereignty over Aboriginal land, and proceeded to settle the continent under the lie of terra nullius. I would have liked to make an entry today that acknowledges and showcases how vibrant Aboriginal music is, but like many others who live in Australia, I am woefully ignorant in that regard. Sure, I know who Yothu Yindi are and I can name a couple of other Aboriginal musicians, but that won’t make for a terribly good entry. I’ll do something about this before the next Invasion Day.

Instead, I’d like to showcase some of the best music this country can offer that has been made by whitefellas such as myself. This country is a special place for us too, and some of Australian music culture is very rewarding, reflecting the sweeping diversity and intensity of the continent. This entry naturally cannot be truly comprehensive, and some legends of the local music scene are missing in the name of brevity – e.g. The Go-Betweens, Paul Kelly, Hunters & Collectors, and Nick Cave. I would also like to show people that Australian music is more than boorish pub rock and hard rock like Cold Chisel and AC/DC, or throwaway trash like Kylie Minogue and Savage Garden. So without any further ado …

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