Sunday, December 31, 2006

The 006 List

It was a year, it was a year, it was a very good year. And here's some stuff we noticed. No particular order, unless we could arrive at a consensus, by some miracle.

Favourite International Live Performance

Broken Social Scene

All together ATR attended four shows from Broken Social Scene this year, and each one was a unique, intense, melodic, experience. Highlights from the Corner shows include the blistering yet beautiful four pronged guitar attack, the amazing finale of "It's all Gonna Break", the surprise appearance of Spiral Stairs, and the cutesy hipness of Feist fill-in Lisa Lobsinger. If only all gigs were like this.

We also really enjoyed:

Animal Collective @ Roskilde/The Corner
The Hold Steady @ Laneway Festival
Low @ The East Brunswick Club
Midlake @ The Corner
Sleater-Kinney @ Big Day Out

Most Disappointing

Modest Mouse @ The Palace
Pretty Girls Make Graves @ Laneway

Favourite Aussie Live Performance

Augie March

It was with slight trepidation that I attended Augie March's first headline show at the Hi-Fi Bar back in May. Although I really enjoyed their music I had seen them stuff up live on more than one occasion, the last being at the Laneway show in Feb. But Glenn and Co did not disappoint at all, delivering a masterful performance in front of a attentive full house. All the favourites were played, but in a demonstration of how many great tracks they actually have, "One Crowded Hour" wasn't even played until the encore. And they were good at the Prince of Wales earlier in the year and at Meredith.

We also really enjoyed:

Clinkerfield @ The Old Bar
Dallas Crane @ Meredith
Sodastream @ Northcote Social Club, The Corner
The Drones @ Spanish Club
The Lucksmiths @ The Corner (Candle Records Show)

Favourite Support Acts

Anthony Atkinson at Candle Records show
Art of Fighting before Midlake
Dan Kelly and the Alpha Males before Augie March
My Disco before Deerhoof, before The Drones, before Mogwai
Spencer P Jones and the Escape Committe before The Drones

Most Disappointing

Crayon Fields before The New Pornographers
Jack Ladder before Okkervil River
Kes before Art of Fighting

Favourite International Release

Blood Mountain - Mastodon
Boys and Girls in America - The Hold Steady
Fishscale - Ghostface Killah
Post-War - M Ward
Rabbit Fur Coat - Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins
Rather Ripped - Sonic Youth
The Letting Go - Bonnie "Prince" Billy
The Life Pursuit - Belle and Sebastian
The Trials of Van Occupanther - Midlake
Wolves - My Latest Novel
Ys - Joanna Newsom

Most Disappointing

At War With the Mystics - The Flaming Lips

It hurts so much because I loved them once. I can't help but think maybe I'll go back to it and it'll be more than mediocre. But it's no Clouds Taste Metallic or Soft Bulletin, of that I'm sure. We know they can make great albums, and on AWWTM they've even produced some great songs, but the album as a whole is just not up to par.

Favourite Aussie Release

Accipio - Mountains in the Sky
Drowning in the Fountain of Youth - Dan Kelly and the Alpha Males
Entropy Begins at Home - Faux Pas
Factory Girls - Dallas Crane
Khancoban - Khancoban
Moo, You Bloody Choir - Augie March
Reservations - Sodastream

Most Disappointing

Cancer - My Disco

They're energetic, driving, incendiary live. And I hoped the album had captured that. But every time I put it on it sounds flat, dull and lifeless. And that's a shame, because they could change the world.

Favourite International Song

Crazy - Gnarls Barkley

Look, it ruled the world this year. Like it or not. And it is, actually, a good song. I can think of worse things to hear over tinny supermarket speakers, and see ad nauseum on Video Hits. The Pussycat Dolls, for starters.

Alibi - The Mountain Goats
Citrus - The Hold Steady
Fee Fie - The Hidden Cameras
Head Home - Midlake
Incinerate - Sonic Youth
Long Distance Call - Phoenix
Love to a Monster - Okkervil River
Postcards from Italy - Beirut
Roscoe - Midlake
Sister Sneaker Sister Soul - My Latest Novel
Sukie in the Graveyard - Belle and Sebastian
The Greatest - Cat Power
Whip You With a Strap - Ghostface Killah
Wolf Like Me - TV on the Radio
Young Folks - Peter Bjorn and John

Favourite Aussie Song

Drunk on Election Night - Dan Kelly & the Alpha Males
Eastbound - Art of Fighting
It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding) - Ground Components
Marsanne (Love Can Wait) - Dallas Crane
Mother Greer - Augie March
One Crowded Hour - Augie March
Pissin' Down in Colbo - Clinkerfield
Fire - Gersey

Memorable Moments

  • Meredith

  • Hugs from BSS

  • Sodastream and band playing Cutting Crew at NSC - "(I Just) Died in Your Arms Tonight"

  • The bass line during "Pissing" by Low at the East Brunswick Club

  • "It's All Gonna Break" from BSS

  • Second encore performance from Augie March with all of Dan Kelly and the Alpha Males on stage at HiFi Bar

  • Miles Browne on theremin during Dan Kelly and the Alpha Males' support for Augie March at HiFi Bar

  • Van Halen's "Jump" by Belle and Sebastian, with Stuart up in the roof of the Forum

  • The anecdote by Pete from Sodastream about getting a hamburger (with chips!) in Wollongong

  • John So at the Big Day Out

  • Neko Case falling in love with Nick

  • The foundation of Across the Rooftops

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Sunday, December 24, 2006

Old Dial, New Listener

All India RadioEcho Other (Inevitable)

I recently picked up a copy of the latest offering from Aria award nominated ambient Melbourne instrumentalists, All India Radio, released here in July 06. What they have produced is a very chilled, moody offering of twelve tracks with futuristic overtones – perfect for kicking back in a quiet spot with the headphones on.

Eerie samplings are consistent throughout the record, and are supplemented with multiple additional layers - shimmering acoustic guitars, deep groovy bass, occasional light scratching and string set, (there might be an occasional xylophone as well?).

Tracks kind of meld together like a dream sequence trapped in some alternative universe, so it is better to give this one a listen a whole way through rather than just pick out one or two tracks for a quick hit of the world they inhabit. Having said that I think that perhaps track number two - Four Three - is my favourite. It has a slow build up of instrumentation and then is punctuated with light breathy female vocals chanting Welcome to my world/Stay, you are not alone. A great choice of lyrics given what follows for the rest of the record.

[check out All India Radio at myspace]

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Friday, December 15, 2006

I-Can't-Believe-It's-Almost-Christmas Weekend 50

So, I personally will be in Darwin from Saturday, but those remaining in smoky Melbourne will need something to do. After all, late-night shopping never goes quite late enough. Here's some gigs which have caught our roving, bloodshot gaze:


Chapter Music and Trifekta Christmas party @ Revolver

Mountains in the Sky, Always, The Crayon Fields, Lakes, Minimum Chips. Two of the best releases of the year, some great live performers... What else do you want? Yeah, I know it's at Revolver. Yeah, I know that's south of the river. Yeah, they do have bike parking down there. No, you don't have to wear Tsubi. Yeah, I think they do have beer. No, you don't need a glowstick.


Friday December 15th:

Deloris w/ SubAudible Hum, The Instant @ The Tote
- Don't know the second support but both Deloris and the Subbies have released albums this year, doing hi-fi interesting indie-rock. Good Melbourne boys, too.

The Regulations w/ Eddy Current Suppression Ring, Straight Jacket Nation, Jed Whitey @ The Arthouse
- I know nothing about The Regulations, but judging from the support and venue, this one's all about punky, garagey, noisy sorta guitars. And ECSR are so hot right now.

Salmon w/ James McCann's Dirty Skirt Band, The Whiskey Go-Gos @ The Spanish Club
- Kim Salmon's ridiculous nine-piece will be something to behold, and we recently plugged James McCann, so you can bet on this one being bluesy and guitary and a bit rocky.

Saturday December 16th:

The Bank Holidays w/ Ned Collette, J Walker @ The Cornish Arms
- The Bank Holidays are over from WA doin' some indie-pop, Ned Collette was great on RRR this morning, and J Walker's always consistently good. What a nice gig.

Jen Cloher and the Endless Sea w/ Downhills Home @ The East
- I've been listening to Cloher a lot recently, she writes good alt-folk-country sorta songs, and has a reputation performing live with the band. Get to this gig or get the album or even both.

Gersey w/ The Temper Trap, Hot Little Hands, Raining Ropes @ The Espy
- Look, you know what you're gonna get from these bands, but that's just cause they work so hard. Turn up early or late to this one and you won't be disappointed.
NOTE: Geoff tells us he'll be seeing The Temper Trap in Sydney that night, so they probably won't be at the Espy. But that's what all the gig guides say. I'm betting the gig guides are wrong and Geoff's right.

Sunday December 17th:

Ice Cream Hands w/ Blackcords, Ben Smith @ The Evelyn
- This is the Dust Devil Xmas party and how can it go wrong with Ice Cream Hands there? Expect songs, good songs, doesn't matter what form they're in. Though in this case it'll be guitary power-pop, most likely.

Wellyn w/ Ollie from Art of Fighting, Dan and Ryan from SubAudible Hum @ The East
- Melbourne musos will be all over this nice little gig at the East, Wellyn's first gig back after recording their new album. Incidentally, those Subbie boys work far too hard. How are your livers?

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Thursday, December 14, 2006


(No, it's pronounced meh-reh-death, not mere-death. You know, like Meredith only... Fine, whatever, forget it. The pun failed, so sue me.)

It was hot, on Saturday. Very hot. Quite smoky, too. Dusty. Did I mention the heat?

But despite this, a great time was had by all. My fingers have finally recovered enough that I can be the last member of Across the Rooftops to post my thoughts; I'll try not to overlap. So here they are. My thoughts. Just here. After the colon:

  • Someone ran across the stage naked during The New Pornographers. In fact, this male person jumped straight over Neko Case, who happened to be crouching. I don't want to mention any names, but both Carl Newman and Ms Case seemed to think it was the lead singer of the band preceding them. Band of Horses. The lead singer of whom is Ben Bridwell. So draw your own conclusions from that. I certainly did.

  • On the topic of The New Pornographers, I found them a little disappointing. Just a little. They met expectations but didn't surpass them. Didn't really play as a band, it seemed. Same at the Corner show on the Tuesday. That said, when you can legitimately play any song from your back catalogue, it's hard to go too far wrong.

  • Kathryn Calder is actually cuter than Neko Case.

  • There was enough sauce every time I got my sausage or hot dog.

  • Dallas Crane are truly the gods of Oz Rock; I'm in the process of building a graven idol of Dave Larkin's mo and trucker cap. Little more I can say, really. They did get a free kick by playing the best slot of midnight Saturday but absolutely tore the house down. More smoke than the fires. People have told me this was their best performance ever. I liked it.

  • The only thing better than a sausage in bread is a bacon-and-egg sandwich.

  • Augie March now have songs for all occasions and they're performing them more consistently. This time it was the rock set, with just Bottle Baby as contrast. The cover at the end, with Dan Luscombe sitting in, was great. Though I have no idea whose song it was originally.

So, yeah. Great weekend. The beach on Sunday morning was nice too.

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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Soundtrack of Our Sauce-less Lives

Just a quick post to get myself off the mark with this blog thing (there's 3 of us writing this thing if anyone cares). My esteemed colleague has already done a stand-up job describing the musical highlights of what was a pretty fine weekend below, however I thought I would bring up an issue that could possibly have ruined it for hundreds, if not thousands, of people.

I agree that it was a fantastic weekend, but I feel there was one issue that really needs to be addressed before next year's festival. While the focus of the weekend was making sure people had enough water, it was the lack of another, possibly more important, fluid that almost ruined the festivities. The tomato sauce shortage at the Meredith Community Tucker Tent was just downright un-Australian. While the weather was ripe for barbecue-style food, it's pretty damn disappointing to grab your burger or sausage in bread and realise there's no sauce left.

I won't say anymore as the memories of my sauceless meat products just upset me too much.

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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Meredith Magic

Team ATR survived the scorching heat on the weekend at the Sweet Sixteenth Meredith Music Festival.

While I can hardly claim to be a veteran of the festival circuit, let alone of Meredith festivals (yes, it was my first time), music festivals surely would not get much better than this one. A major reason would have to be the setup at Meredith. You probably all know the drill but the positioning of the stage at the bottom of a slope means everyone can actually see the bands so it doesn’t get too crowded at the front. BYO makes a pretty big difference as well I reckon. The people who aren’t actually big on the bands can disperse and do whatever they do (although I don’t really understand why you would actually come and not see the bands??), while the rest of us can just kick back in our seats, laze on other people's banana lounges and on our rugs and just kick back enjoy the outdoors, the atmosphere, the booze and the tunes. You can’t ask for much more than that.

The other major reason for why it was such a good weekend was the lineup. While I must admit I do have quite narrow tastes, I was very impressed with the lineup this year, and pretty much all of the acts actually delivered. I think the following acts delivered some of the best sets I have seen all year:

In the order they appeared:

  • My Disco – Electric agitated performance from angular art rock band. Confirmed thoughts as one of best live acts in Melbourne. Drummer Rohan Rebeiro is close to the best going around.

  • The New Pornographers – By this stage I was a bit intoxicated so I don’t remember it perhaps clearly as I should have, but thought their energy of their poppy performance matched their records. Can’t wait to catch them tonight.

  • Midlake – Before the weekend I thought this band was only promising, but after seeing them at Meredith and at the Corner on Sunday night my respect has grown tenfold. Sound was rich and lush. Delivered a performance that precisely reflected atmosphere and mood of The Trials of Van Occupanther, which must be bloody hard to do.

  • The Soundtrack of Our Lives – Raucous, rambling riff driven rock n roll. The closing number where the messiah himself Bjorn Olsson walked off the front off the stage, made the front twenty or so rows sit down, while the band was pumping in the background to deliver a giant bear hug to a guy that looked like his long lost brother is hands down my best rock moment of this year. I've haven't seen a crowd go nuts like that for a while.

  • Augie March – In the past they have the tendency to be a bit or miss live (show at the Hi-Fi Bar earlier this year aside), but they were spot on the money on Saturday night. Beautiful music. Rocked up their songs a bit too which I guess was required for their Saturday night slot.

  • Dallas Crane – Hardly gave them a thought before the festival but they kicked ass.

Now I can't wait until next year. I might even go to Golden Plains...

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Thursday, December 07, 2006

Weekend 49 of 2006

Us kids from Across the Rooftops will be occupied with the dubious wonders of Meredith this weekend - pray for us to escape the flames and the Gift both.

But, if you ain't heading out o' town, here's some fun for the whole family. I'm off to get a haircut and spruce up for the debauchery.


Black Pony Express album launch w/ Khancoban, Clinkerfield, Quincy McLean
Friday 8th @ The Tote

Dense, complex music in the grand tradition of The Dirty Three or Nick Cave or The Drones, supported by Melbourne's finest in pub-blues-alt-rockers Clinkerfield and alt-folk-countryites Khancoban.


Friday December 8th:

Dallas Crane @ Ruby's
- the album's great and these guys are nuts; can't wait to hear Marsanne.

Girl Talk w/ Partyline @ Revolver
- very southside, may leave you feeling a bit dirty.

Jaimi Faulkner EP Launch w/ Yanto Shortis, Nick Barker @ The East
- acoustic guitars scratch a whole lot of itches.

Kathematics, The Capitals, Glue @ The Public Bar
- bouncy, rocky, JJJish, probably quite enjoyable despite that.

Saturday December 9th:

Edan w/ Dagha, Curse Ov Dialect, Mountains in the Sky @ The Espy
- don't know much of the headliners but the support is solid.

Frenzal Rhomb w/ The Lawrence Arms @ The Corner
- if you're an angry young man.

Rose Tattoo w/ Black Guns @ The East
- if you're an angry old man.

Subnormal album launch w/ The Follow, Creech @ The Rob Roy
- earplugs strictly required, loud and sticky rockin'.

Sunday December 10th:

Datarock w/ Ground Components @ The Hi-Fi
- shake your rump back to Monday morning.

Midlake @ The Corner
- Van Occupanther is one of my albums of the year, get into the indie-70s-rock.

Nuclear Free Benefit @ The Cornish Arms
- Rebecca Barnard, Kinematic, Elephant Mojo, more; they'll massage your conscience.

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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Telecom Tuesday

It's funny when I play through this Telecom EP, Modern Adventures, in my mp3 player, cause once the five tracks have passed their eighteen minutes, it slides straight into See No Evil by Television. And sometimes it takes me a few seconds to notice.

I reckon four Melbourne boys on their first EP would be pretty happy to be mistaken for the ultra-cool New York band who started their thing. Truth be told, they're not yet as good, probably missing the innovative artiness and searing minutes of guitar solo. And they're probably too tight, on this EP, to match TV's anarchy.

More appropriate comparisons are with their Melbourne peers like Bit By Bats or Children Collide. They just want to rock us out with their guitars, and what could be wrong with that? And they succeed, pretty much, most notably on the opener, Second Feature. The EP's got short, sharp songs, decent riffs and good playing, and a song named after Short Round from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom! (That cute kid's now 35.)

[download Second Feature from their myspace]
[buy the EP from Missing Link and other places]

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Sunday, December 03, 2006

My Virgin Post

Recently I was in the process of engaging in my fortnightly CD binge, when I came across a release from former Albany singer-songwriter, James McCann - Where Was I Then. I was impressed by McCann and his Dirty Skirt Band’s raw intense country garage noise which provided support for the Drones at the Spanish Club earlier in the year so thought I’d give it a try. (BTW Gareth Liddiard from the Drones is a producer on this record and McCann apparently wrote the closing track on The Drones' Wait Long by the River.)

The Dirty Skirt Band are absent in this release by McCann – Where Was I Then, but McCann shows that he is a very capable even in their absence. The album kicks off with the energetic fuzzy country rock and roll of Knowing Smile. The distorted vocals, riff driven rock and roll of Insight is Gold suggest a harder edge garagey record is to follow. But McCann turns the amp down a notch and strips back the sound on Through the Night, reflects in the yearning, smoky alt-country of Don't Mean Much and broods and releases frustration on This Town's Full of Smoke. What's pleasing about these five tracks is that McCann consistently shows a willingness to explore his sound and moves quite comfortably between different genres (country, blues, rock). Unfortunately the last few tracks don't quite deliver on the promise offered by the first half of the record, but what we are left with still is a very solid debut record, and one that is worth is checking out.

[preview tracks from Where Was I Then at James' myspace]

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Across the Rooftops 2006