Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Bands 'n Stuff: May 30 to June 5


Cut Copy
+Mercy Arms
+Riot in Belgium
@Prince Bandroom
Friday, SOLD OUT

Cut Copy are huge now – this gig sold out in a matter of days. So popular in fact, that a severe backlash is just around the corner. But until then, and the powers that be decide that newer wave, floppy hair, tight black jeans and bright collarless t-shirts are no long fashionable, I have no other option than to make this gig of the week.

Wednesday the 30th

Apart from the sold out Cold War Kids gig, 72Blues are doing a live recording of their NSC gig which you can actually pre-purchase with your ticket and there is the final Little Red Wednesday in May residency gig. They play at least two gigs a week (next supporting The Raylenes on Saturday night) so no dramas if you can’t make it and haven’t seen them yet. I also like the moody sounds of The Orbweavers who are on at the Old Bar, but unfortunately I haven’t seen a live show yet.

72Blues + Collard Greens and Gravy + Midnight Woolf
@Northcote Social Club, $12/$35

Hazel Brown + Kid Sam + Martha Brown
@The Empress

Cold War Kids (USA) + guests
@Hi-Fi Bar, SOLD OUT

Grinspoon + Children Collide
@Prince Bandroom, $39.90+bf

Andrew Keese and the Associates + The Orbweavers
@Old Bar, Free

Dave Larkin
@The Standard, 9pm

Little Red + Spun Rivals + Magnum Gumbo Detector
@The Tote, $5

Thursday the 31st

See Pikelet for the last time before she heads off to Europe with Baseball for a couple of months. Get in early though because last week at Cloud City was almost a full house. The highly regarded Extreme Wheeze is one of the supports. Over at Gertrudes, The Crayon Fields’ Geoff is doing his Sly Hats thing. His album is out very soon.

The Bedroom Philosopher + Josh Earl and Matt Kelly
@Wesley Anne, $10

Bitter Sweet Kicks + Screwtop Detonators + Chainsaw Girls + Kimbo Girls
@The Espy Public Bar, Free

Rosie Burgess

The Good Intentions + Clack Train
@Shake Some Action (Onesixone), $8/$6

The Hutt River Solution + Gareth Eunson and the Graveyard Sons + The Get Go’s
@The Tote, $5

Mercy May + Seagull
@Cmon Cmon (The Evelyn), $8

Paper Planes + Chase Ego + Sarkest Heartstrings
@Exile on Smith St

Pikelet + Extreme Wheeze + Thug Quota
@Stop, Drop, Roll (The Glasshouse), $7

Sly Hats + Barrage + Failing Star
@Gertrudes, $6

Friday the 1st

For all the hipsters who missed out on Cut Copy tickets, there’s plenty on at Roxanne where Pop Levi and Temper Trap are highlights. Aussie punk is at Northcote Social Club, the very interesting eclectic gysysish Martin Martini is at Bar Open, decent Sydney rockers The Camels venture to East Brunswick, while loudish acts will be tempered by a Batrider acoustic set at The Tote. Local rockers Borne play a rare Melbourne show after signing to an international label a few months back. Perhaps recommened by that record company after the Jet article appeared in The Age last Saturday? For poppier stuff head to Gertrudes which seems to be booking some decent gigs of late

Bitter Sweet Kicks + Ouch! My Face + No Through Road + Batrider (duo)
@The Tote, $10

Borne + Special Patrol + Mosaik
@The Espy Front Bar, Free

The Camels + The Cants + The New Black
@East Brunswick Club, $12

Goyouhuskies! + Errol JM
@Gertrudes, $6

Martin Martini and the Bone Palace Orchestra
@Bar Open, Free

Nursery Crimes + The Meanies + The Losers
@Northcote Social Club, $15

Pop Levi + The Temper Trap + more

The Rumours + Joni Lightning + The Idle Hoes

Solid Waste
@Pony, 2am

The Sonar Radars + The Boy Who Spoke Clouds + Farspeedelay
@Exile on Smith St

Talkshow Boy + Dane Certificate + Teko + The Gentlemen Club
@Pony, $6

Saturday the 2nd

You could be kept busier simply from the two house parties that are on. But elsewhere there are video launches for SubAudible Hum and Souls on Board at Revolver. Your last chance to see the latter band before they piss off to the recording studio for a few months. The Unstable Ape showcase should be great too - headlined by Ninetynine who back up after their live PBS show earlier in the week. Rob Roy is hosting a typically noisy lineup to celebrate its birthday. Brighter acts at the East and the Tote, The Cavish Spoils play the Retreat which you may head to after taking in an afternoon set from James McCann at another Brunswick venue. There is also international pop/psych fare with Pop Levi at Northcote Social Club.

@Pony, 2am

Albert’s Basement
The Girlfriend Pillow + Fulton Girls Club + Guns for Saint Sebastian + Oscar’s Psuche + Great Earthquake + Humansixbillion + Johnny Saw Horses + Extreme Wheeze + Jerry Falwell Destroyed Earth + Popolice + Low Rise Estate + Seagull + Patinka Cha Cha + Wolfie Marmalade + Jessica Says + Touch Typist
@61 Albert St, East Brunswick, 1pm, $4

James McCann + Jo Brockey
@Mi Corazon, East Brunswick, 4:30pm, Free

The Night Terrors + Good Intentions + Bang! Bang! Aids! + You Will Die Alone + Rose Cottee
@38 Stafford St, Abbotsford, 6pm, Gold coin entry

Pop Levi (UK) + Mercy May + The Falls
@Northcote Social Club, $30

Radiant City + Blacklevel Embassy + These Hands Could Separate The Sky + Kids With Guns for Hands
@Rob Roy, $8

The Raylenes + Ben Birchall + Little Red
@East Brunswick Club, $12

The Roys + Hot Little Hands + The Transformers + Combover
@The Tote, $10

Sons of Lee Marvin + Screwtop Detonators
@Exile on Smith St

The Spoils + P Tex
@The Retreat, Free

SubAudible Hum + Souls on Board + Moscow Schoolboy
@Revolver Upstairs, $10

Unstable Ape Records Showcase
Ninety Nine + No Through Road + Jessica Says
@Pony, $7

The Wellingtons + Dirty Pink Jeans
@Weekender (Ding Dong), $10

Sunday the 3rd

Another sold out Cut Copy gig. Countryish stuff elsewhere.

Cutcopy + Mercy Arms + Riot in Belgium
@Prince Bandroom, SOLD OUT

Dollywood, Tennessee and Western Shirts Party
The Joelenes + Downhills Home + Nashvegas + Andre Camilleri and the Broken Hearts
@Spanish Club Sal

Dan Warner + Dave Evans
@The Marquis of Lorne, 5pm, Free

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Bands 'n Stuff: May 23 to 29

Been busy this week so I'm afraid my comments are few and far between.


Fabulous Diamonds
Francis Plagne
Josh Armistead
@Cloud City, Saturday

She's everywhere. You can even read all about her below. One of the supports, experimental duo Fabulous Diamonds have a buzz about them too.

Wednesday the 23rd

It's hard to go past the rock spectacular that is Salmon. If not I'd probably go with the Townes van Zandt thing or go and see Little Red on one of their last Tote residency gigs.

Hazel Brown + Touch Typist
@The Empress

Little Red + White Boyz Can’t Funk + Combover
@The Tote, $5

Salmon + The Shimmys
@Northcote Social Club, $20

Townes Van Zandt Tribute
Spencer P. Jones + Matt Walker + Dave Larkin + Penny Ikinger + more
@Shingles Bar, $10

Thursday the 24th

Go to the Empress. No questions asked. For a backup plan try Afterdark.

The Bedroom Philosopher + Mal Webb
@Wesley Anne, $10

Emma Heeney and the Daves + The Basics
@The Empress, $8

The Hovercrafts + Foxx on Fire + Teko
@Cmon Cmon (The Evelyn), $6

Seagull + Nick Huggins + Oscar’s Psuche + Whimlot
@Afterdark, Free

Silence Dead Silence +The Lightning Strikes + The Truth + Kill Boogie
@The Tote, $6

Friday the 25th

This time last week New Estate would have been gig of the week, but I'm afraid I was a bit dissappointed by them at the Hi-Fi Bar for their support gig for CHYSY, but here's your opportunity to make up your own mind over at Exile on Smith St. Ex Sleepy Township bandmates are one of the supports with new band Panel of Judges.

If not heading here, there's lots of alternatives as always. I'd probably go for Julian Nation who plays his first gig in a while. Silver Ray appeals too, and a reasonable lineup at the Tote.

The Audreys + Andrew Morris + Hazel Brown
@The Corner, $22+bf

Catcall + Gameboy/Gamegirl + Sleater Brockman
@The Toff

@The Espy – Gershwin Room

Kinematic + Andrew McCubbin and the Hope Addicts + Ben Birchall
@Northcote Social Club, $14

The Little Stevies + Marshall and the Fro + Austin
@The Evelyn, $10

Mid State Orange + Downhills Home + Potential Falcon + Little Athletics
@The Tote, $10

Julian Nation + Big Cats + Jerry Falwell and the Gentiles
@Gertrudes, $5

New Estate + Panel of Judges + Lindsey Low Hand
@Exile on Smith St

Scul Hazzards
@Pony, 2am

Silver Ray + Dead Salesman
@The Empress

The Time of the Assassins + Spun Rivals + Sons of the Sun + Small Town Fiasco
@Rob Roy, $6

Saturday the 26th

A good afternoon gig at Afterdark. At nighttime there's gig of the week, a couple of emerging bands at the East, fantastic instrumental stuff at Rob Roy, drone metal favourites at Exile, and the return of prodigal sons at NSC. The Nation Blue are on too who are rated highly by another Rooftopper

Cor’delle + Popolice + Helix
@Afterdark, 2pm, Free

Cordrazine + Hot Little Hands + Matt Roberts
@Northcote Social Club, $15

The Double Agents + Royal Saloon + The Cheats + Young Husband
@The Tote, $12

Grey Daturas + Skul Hazzards + The Truth
@Exile on Smith St

The Hutt River Solution
@Pony, 2am

The Nation Blue + Brisk + Identity Thefit
@The Espy – Gershwin Room

Operator Please + Treetops + Little Red
@East Brunswick Club, $10

This Is Your Captain Speaking + J.P Shilo + The Red Tree
@Rob Roy, $10

Sunday the 27th

The Black Hundred + Electric Jellyfish
@Bar Open, $5

The Checks + Whisky Go Go's
@Espy Front Bar, Free

Solomon Islands Benefit Gig
All India Radio + The Ribbon Device + Tim McMillan + Bonjahbango
@Loop, 4pm, $10

Tuesday the 29th

The Checks (NZ) + Bowerbirds + Treetops (acoustic)
@The Tote, $8

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Serving Suggestion

She's sweet and layered and so hot right now - it's Pikelet.

It's not surprising, really. Her tale - hardcore drummer turned one-girl-and-a-loop-pedal twee balladeer - is compelling. The songs are nice and short and easy and whimsical (sorry Emmy) and quirky, and nicely produced, almost Newsom-esque, adding up to straightforward alternative radio fodder (cue RRR Album of the Week). And the loop pedal thing is zeitgeisty right now, what with Neddy Collette off in Europe and Andy Bird releasing close to album of the year, to name the obvious couple.

If you're going to write her off, as a good underground music snob, just because what she does sounds too obviously appealing, too easy, then go nuts. But you'll miss out.

For everyone else, the story is that Pikelet is Evelyn Morris, also drummer for Baseball and True Radical Miracle. She's just released her first album, self-titled on Chapter Music (how great are they?), and it's good, very good. It's very nearly as good as seeing her live, which is saying something, because as previously plugged here, she's a surprisingly compelling presence on the stage.

I think this is because of her mastery of all the bits of equipment surrounding her, the glockenspiel, tom-tom, guitar, piano accordion, all feeding into that trusty loop pedal. She hits most notes and when she misses, gently chiding herself and laying it down again, it's with perfect awareness of the audience, but no bashfulness. This is strange and reassuring as the songs are twee - "they never talked about his tiny body" or "why oh why sewerage man?" - and sound as if she could easily slip into a Crayon Fields-style embarassment and hurry. But no, she continues to build, layer the song with full confidence in her considerable abilities.

So, yeah, it's a good album. Plenty of good influences mixed in, though not dominating. Sewerage Man sounds like Joanna Newsom, though it's not exactly harp, just clean, pure plucked guitar. Bug-in-Mouth could be a New Buffalo track though the musicianship is better. The tom underlying A Bunch has echoes of Mimi's drumming for Low.

And then there's standouts like, Size Matters and Miss Hen, which aren't obviously of anyone else other than Pikelet. The harmonies she sings with herself throughout the latter are beautiful; and the craftiness of the underlying glockenspiel riff, kicking up to double speed to change the whole feel - it has to be seen live to be properly appreciated, but it's great here as well.

The album's not perfect, the second half losing a little, falling into a bit of reverb, and losing most of the gorgeous melodies of the first half. But it's a very good debut for Pikelet.

[listen on her myspace]
[buy the album direct from Chapter]

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Friday, May 18, 2007

Souls Revisited

In Tuesday’s review of International Karate’s new record, I also flagged that a post on one of the support acts for tonight - Souls on Board - would be coming your way later in the week. In making this promise I forgot that back in Jan my fellow Rooftopper had already posted a review of their second EP Blood Face.

I hadn’t listened to this record before this review was posted, but I have to say, and not just for maintaining blog buddy harmony, I think it’s pretty spot on.

While this means it’s not necessary to write another review of Blood Face, there are still a few observations I’d like to add.

The main reason why I think this EP is so promising is because it doesn’t really follow any generic formula. It’s one thing to record five or six killer decent tracks, but it’s another thing to do it while crafting a unique sound. And to find some originality just by using a guitar, a keyboard, drums and bass, is even more difficult. How often do you pick up a record and can tell the songwriter/s have just ripped off (or been heavily inspired by!) A, B and C?

While I’m not going to boldly suggest that Souls on Board are forging a new direction in rock ‘n roll, and I admit there are many holes in my pop music historical knowledge, to me, their influences fade much deeper into the background than many other ‘alternative independent rock bands’. And this is not to denigrate many of the bands that are clearly influenced by bands of yesteryear. The band reviewed yesterday - New Estate, along with others such as Eddy Current Suppression Ring and even The Devastations have all released great records in the past year or two but are nevertheless clearly influenced by the sounds of certain performers before them.

To me though, Souls on Board are a bit different. Sure, the keys and guitar are a bit psychy in an introspective, edge teetering kind of way, but usually neo-psych bands (The Sand Pebbles for instance) seem heavily indebted to the mind bending, drugged up sounds of the 60s and early 70s. Souls on Board, in contrast, seem firmly rooted in an urban, modern, nocturnal soundscape, the jams are much cleaner and poppier than the distorted messiness of your regular psychedelic group. And when the record quickens, the band bustles and bristles with arrangements crafted for current day alienation, angst and paranoia rather than appropriating a historic aesthetic. There is also a slightly garegey rawness to the production, but it’s not the focus like so many revivalist bands of today, its more to expose just a touch of grit and grime to the busy and bouncing guitar and bass lines.

So, apart from writing 5 out of 6 great tracks (I agree with the previous ATR review – the closing track is filler), I think what makes this EP special is that it’s not following any special trend or infatuation with a particular sound and shows a level of imagination and creativity which is uncommon with many of today’s ‘alt-rock’ bands. Their first album, which will be released later this year, is now officially anticipated.

You can see Souls on Board tonight at the Spanish Club as support for International Karate or tomorrow night at the Tote supporting Yura Yura Teikoku. On Saturday June 2, Souls on Board will be launching a video along with SubAudible Hum at Revolver Upstairs.

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Fourth Estate

Fuck I'm glad New Estate exist, cause otherwise I woulda had to invent them.

I should explain. It's just that this whatever-revival we're currently mired in seems too often to pick style over substance. Look at the pretty but uninspiring nu-post-punk JJJ-fodder of The Temper Trap or Young and Restless. The self-consciously choreographed art-wack of Aleks and the Ramps. Even faves The Basics and Little Red are as much about the sharp suits and classic-hits covers as the catchy tunes.

New Estate aren't so photogenic.

new estate picture

And yes, I picked the worst photo I could find to prove the point, but forget that - it's the tunes that make this. Is It Real? is my favourite record of the year.

The touchstones are old Sonic Youth and The Pixies and Pavement and My Bloody Valentine - but I never really got into any of them, not like I was supposed to. At the time I was listening to U2 and M Jackson on Sun FM, and by the time I caught Loveless or Doolittle there was such an incredible burden of appreciation that I never felt the excitement and energy.

But fuck, that's all I've ever asked for from music, and that's what New Estate have given me. They're kids in a recording studio, playing straight through it twice then moving on, popping pills to make the most of the time, everyone taking in turns to swing at the vocals until someone nails it at the very edge of their range - or missing it, who cares? The riffs appear from nowhere just in time, the bass player's got his eyes closed and a ciggie in his mouth but he's got the notes, everyone's in the moment, and the drummer runs out of drums halfway through the fill but sticks the landing, just.

Among about six great tracks, two tracks make the album. Herge is the single, for want of a better term, requiring about thirty seconds to catch the "if I were you/ I wouldn't go there" whole-band chorus over nimble guitar and a tearing Sonic Youth-feel. It's over in two and a half minutes and on repeat.

"I've had many but there's been none like you"

But even better is the preceding track, The Rubber Carpet, an oh-so-gentle dual guitar jam, steady beat, simple strings, wistful vocals. The first sign of what's to come is the two-octave vocal jump halfway through the first verse; quickly pegged back, but showing the purpose. And, after four-and-a-half minutes, after the meandering bridge - everyone screaming at once, strings in echo, the bass at the front of the stage, drums rolling, rolling - a glorious indie-rock climax. And everyone in the room's right there with them.

Not to mention Let Somebody Down. And that riff at the start of While You Were Talking. And OK Alright. At times they push a little too close to the influences - Last Train to Belgrave is a little too Pixies - but still not in a bad way.

And from a pragmatic point of view, it's pretty likely there's a grunge revival just around the corner (after all, Dinosaur Jr just released a new album). If and when it gets here, these guys are gonna sign with Geffen and get a weekly residency at Rod Laver Arena, and all these coolsie kids will be putting their skinny jeans away and coming along for lessons. You should get in early.

GIG: Album Launch at Exile on Smith St, May 25th, with Panel of Judges and Lindsey Low Hand.

SUPPORT: Following Clap Your Hands Say Yeah around the country (for us it's the Hi-Fi next week).

MP3: Get Herge from my previous post.

BUY: New Estate tracks on the JB Hi-Fi site.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Bands 'n Stuff: May 16 to May 22


Love of Diagrams
The Crayon Fields
Spider Vomit

@Northcote Social Club, Friday
$12+bf, 8:30pm

Another busy weekend in Melbourne and even though yesterday’s blog entry plugs a rival gig, for many of you with stylish tastes it'll be hard to go past Love of Diagrams and co. at the Northcote Social Club. In case you missed it, they have just received a great review in Pitchfork for their new record, Mosaic so maybe they can share insights with The Crayon Fields about what it's like to receive praise from hip independent rock critics? Support also from the unfortunately named Spider Vomit, who have a great opportunity to preview their material in front of a savvy crowd before they release their first EP on Unstable Ape in June.

Wednesday the 16th

Three high profile gigs tonight with internationally acclaimed Howling Bells, national legends Tex Perkins and Charlie Owen (with fellow Bourbon Beast Spencer Jones as support) and also local grooves and melodies from the increasingly popular and very catchy Little Red.

Howling Bells + The Temper Trap + Whiskey Go Go’s
@The Corner, $20+bf

Little Red + Squeaks and Squeals + Magnum Gumbo Detector
@The Tote, $5

Sime Nugent
@Gem Bar & Saloon, Free

Tex Perkins with Charlie Owen + Spencer P. Jones
@Northcote Social Club, SOLD OUT

Thursday the 17th

If you’re up for something different, check out the underground pop acts at Bar Open, the gig at the Pony, which varies between DIY female vocalists with bells and whistles and dark, dense and loud post-rock, or hear some fine tunes crafted from across the Tasman at the Tote.

The Basics are on again of course, although this might not be your sort of crowd, while it is your only chance to see a full show from fuzzy blues guitar and drum duo The Black Keys if you haven’t got your hands on tix to their other sold out gigs.

For a harder edge head to the Rob Roy, or if you’re hanging out with a crowd then there’s raw and stifling pop noise from Dane Certificate at Cmon Cmon.

Also, the residencies of Heeney and The Philosopher continue, a bunch of Melbourne alt-country fixtures are at Northcote Social Club and there's a great opportunity to see Tim Rogers perform in silence at Bennett’s Lane.

The Basics, Cross Eyed Mary
@Shake Some Action (161)

The Bedroom Philosopher + Fred Astereo
@ Wesley Anne, $10

The Band Who Knew Too Much + Dan Warner + Clinkerfield
@Northcote Social Club, $10

The Black Keys (USA) + Kill Devil Hills
@Hi-Fi Bar, $50+bf

Fourteen Nights at Sea + Cor’delle + Light Music Club
@Pony, $6

Emma Heeney and the Daves + Duck Dive
@The Empress, $8

Learn the Splits + Dane Certificate + Star Diner
@Cmon Cmon (The Evelyn), $8

Midnight Woolf + The Truth + Bulls + Green Green Green
@Rob Roy, $6

The Ribbon Device + Pramsnatcher + The Pirates + Tim McMillan
@Bar Open, Free

Tim Rogers + Louis Macklin
@Bennett’s Lane, $30+bf

Tom Watson & Friends (NZ) + Flip Grater (NZ) + The Raylenes
@The Tote, $7

Friday the 18th

If the gig of the week or bands at Spanish Club don't tickle your fancy then there's likely to be something else to keep you happy. Brothers Oliver and Paddy Mann will compete for the mellow tastes at Gertrudes and The Tote respectively. Paddy (aka Grand Salvo) is part of folk-noir group The Orbweavers, who were plugged on fellow blog Sandwich Club recently. See them as support for The Palenecks at their EP launch. Over on Gertrude St we also get Strip for Cash and Owls of the Swamp. Although their name would suggest they are a godawful cover band, Strip for Cash actually are a piano based bluesy ballad and pop/rock group while Owls of the Swamp crafts earthy Icelandic influenced folk songs. Both are worth seeing.

Apart from the above, Japanese psychout freakanoids Yura Yura Teikoku are here with fantastic support at the East, there’ll be a party atmosphere with fake blood and fangs at Brown Alley, lofi electro and ukuleles at Afterdark and probably broken glass and prison tattoos at Exile. Bennett’s Lane, Prince Bandroom and Corner also are hosting popular acts none of who need an introduction.

Airbourne + Hell City Glamours + The Shine
@The Corner, $12+bf

The Black Keys (USA) + Kill Devil Hills
@Hi-Fi Bar, SOLD OUT

CasioNova + Anal Cookie, Rose Turtle Ertler
@Afterdark, Free

Dukes of Windsor + Batrider + The Fearless Vampire Killers
@80’s Vampire Costume Party (Brown Alley), $25

Bob Evans + Machine Translations + Farryl Purkiss (RSA)
@Prince Bandroom, $22+bf

International Karate + The Answering Belles + Souls on Board + Sixteen Millimetre
@Spanish Club Salon, $12

King Daddy
@Pony, Free, 2am

Love of Diagrams + The Crayon Fields + Spider Vomit
@Northcote Social Club, $12

The Palenecks + The Orbweavers + The Loveslaps + Jimmy Stewart
@The Tote, $10

Tim Rogers + Louis Macklin
@Bennett’s Lane, $30+bf

Straight Arrows + The Ooga Boogas
@Exile on Smith St, $7

Strip for Cash + Oliver Mann + Owls of the Swamp

Yura Yura Teikoku + The Basics + Little Red
@East Brunswick Club, $20+bf

Saturday the 19th

The Tote is the place to be tonight. Not only are Yura Yura Teikoku backing it up from the previous night - this time with two more fantastic supports, but there’s also some dirty, swaggering country and blues influenced rock upstairs in the Cobra Bar for only five bucks.

Solo sets from Grey Daturas are on again - this time at Pony. By all accounts this initiative was a success when it debuted at Bar Open a few weeks ago. But if this doesn’t sound like it’s for you and you still like it loud and droning, the Rob Roy gig could be an alternative option.

Head to Click Click if you wish to see Sydney electro rockers The Valentinos for the last time before they change their name, dust off the bandana and tracksuit if heading to the Corner, catch Dave Graney (not last week as previously reported) at the East, indie rock/pop at Northcote Social Club and Gershwin Room, or just have a counter meal and beer before taking in the tunes at the Wesley Anne.

If you’re free during the day, you can also head down to Greville Records to see The Black Keys play a free gig at 12pm.

The Black Keys (USA) + Kill Devil Hills
@Hi-Fi Bar, SOLD OUT

Blueline Medic + A Death in the Family + Responder
@Northcote Social Club, $15

Dave Graney and Clare Moore feat The Yellow Lurid Mist + Conway Savage + Stu Thomas Paradox
@East Brunswick Club, $15

Grey Daturas (solo sets) + Whitehorse + Y35.3 & Nigel Wright (NZ)
@Pony, $7

Midnight Woolf + James McCann’s Dirty Skirt Band + Bulls + Thee Stagknights
@The Tote, $5

Rhythm Bell + The Black Hundred + A Friend of Mine + Little Athletics
@Rob Roy, $8

The Ockerino Variety Show
Curse OV Dialect + Mountains in the Sky + Makkenz + Toecutter + Sukkafish + Anal Cookie + more
@The Corner, $15

The Straight Arrows
@Pony, Free, 2am

Marcus Teague + Little Star + Camille Dean
@Wesley Anne, $5

The Valentinos + Y + Schadenfreude
@Click Click (Brown Alley), $14/$10

The Wellingtons + Quarter Life Crisis + The Young Lovers + Honeymaker
@The Espy - Gershwin Room, $13

Yura Yura Teikoku + Ground Components + Souls on Board
@The Tote, $20+bf

Sunday the 20th

Happy folk pop melodies and harmonies at Northcote Social Club as The Triangles launch their new album Seventy Five Year Plan. For something a bit different there’s some latin funky jazz at Bar Open which might be worth checking out.

San Lazaro
@Bar Open, Free

The Triangles + Duck Dive
@Northcote Social Club, $10

Monday the 21st

Has anyone else heard that CYHSY song on a new ad? I think it was for a car. Anyway, sing along with this jingle at the Hi-Fi Bar as one of the most hyped acts of last year makes it to Aus after cancelling their tour down under last year. There’s also a great opportunity to see New Estate as well, who have scored this support slot in Melbourne to warm them up for their headline gig at Exile on Smith St on Friday the 25th.

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah + New Estate
@Hi-Fi Bar, $39.60+bf

Tuesday the 22nd

And again...

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah + New Estate
@Hi-Fi Bar, $39.60+bf

Tim Rogers + Louis Macklin
@Bennett’s Lane, $30+bf

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Karate Kids

Over the next two weeks in Melbourne, three local bands whose latest releases have all been on high rotation on my CD player and iPod, International Karate, Souls on Board and New Estate all play live shows across Melbourne. So I thought it'd be a good opportunity to put together a few ATR blog entries about why these are super CDs.

First up it’s grandiose post rock purveyors, International Karate.

On the only other IK release which I've had the pleasure of hearing, their second album, 2004’s A Monster in Soul, you can find a series of compositions which compare admirably with more heralded post-rock artists such as Mogwai and Explosions in the Sky. IK utilise the same quietly beautiful, slowly intense ebb and flow song structures which are the trademark of the genre, but their MO is to deliver the package with less shards of distorted noise, experimentation and general angst but with more melancholy and melodrama than their contemporaries.

On their latest release, More of What We’ve Heard Than We’ve Heard Before International Karate mix with the post-rock formula to shape a more defined niche for their sounds. For starters there is the production. Darkness still invades many of the soundscapes but the shades are more pronounced, more vibrant and awash in a dreamy echoey synthy haze rather than hidden beneath the cleaner ebony and ivory driven rhythms of their previous creations. Often accompanied by a tighter slappier bass and electric drum kit, emphatic chiming creaking guitars and starker production the record feels like a soundtrack from a modern re-creation of an 80s science fiction noir.

There are still a handful of epic crescendos on their new record, but where previously they have gracefully emerged, now they unwrap themselves more purposefully before calmly settling back into the atmosphere. On A Shadow Told Me and Geography, IK even deliver their sonically retextured peaks and troughs under three minutes.

IK further extend themselves in other ways too. Vocals are now embraced more warmly. Guest Laura Jean poignantly delivers the shimmering and murmurous Falling Water, while two of the other non-instrumental tracks, Only Good Will Come of This and Movement are thriving urgent disco pop songs.

For all this posturing though, some may find International Karate’s genre experimentation too varied, too eager perhaps to shed a perception of post-rock imitators. For me this is not the case, the sequencing, while not seamless, is not aurally abrasive because of the consistent emotional murkiness of the mix. International Karate have bravely challenged themselves with More of What We’ve Heard Than We’ve Heard Before and succeeded by delivering a thoroughly interesting, gallant and enigmatic new record.

International Karate play the Spanish Club this Friday. Support from The Answering Belles, Souls on Board and Sixteen Millimetre. All of IK's records are released on the Sensory Projects label.

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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Bands 'n Stuff: May 9 to May 15


Art of Fighting
SubAudible Hum
Tom Budge Goodtime Band
Saturday @ The Corner
8:30pm, $22+bf

The sounds of understated melancholic beauty will grace the Corner this Saturday when Art of Fighting play their first Melbourne show of the year. Although this is not a universal ATR opinion, their new album Runaways is the best release I have heard this year, and for me it will be difficult to top.

To prepare you for this gig, I suggest you read this article on the band in the latest edition of Mess and Noise. There are some very insightful observations about the band’s intricacies, subtleties and insecurities, and for me, author Emmy Heenings perfectly captures how emotionally affecting Art of Fighting’s music can actually be. You can also read more from Emmy on her blog, and through links on this site to her other reviews and articles.

Wednesday the 9th

Little Red start their Wednesdays in May residency tonight and not surprisingly, the barely post-teen harmony kings are gradually gaining greater notoriety in this town. Check out this reference in the Green Guide.

If this doesn’t interest you there are some off-kilter sounds and eerieness for free at Bar Open, organ destroying international metal theatrics at Hi-Fi Bar or some more typical Wednesday night mellowness at idgaff, the Gem or the Standard.

Extreme Wheeze and the Nasty Coughs, Seth Rees, Scissors for Sparrows
@Bar Open, 9pm, Free

Charles Jenkins, Davey Lane
@The Standard, 9pm, Free

Kate Miller-Heidke, The Hampdens
@The Corner, 8pm, $17+bf

Little Red, Good Intentions, Aldous
@The Tote, 8pm, $5

Sunn O))) (USA), Boris (JPN) + special guests
@Hi-Fi Bar, 8pm, $38.50+bf

Dan Warner, Dave Evans
@Idgaff, 9pm, $10

Thursday the 10th

The Bedroom Philosopher continues with his great lineup of support acts. This time it’s from a man who really does sound like he composes in his bedroom - Julian Nation. Emma Heeney’s Thursday residency also continues at the Empress, tonight with support from folk pop girl boy harmony group, The Little Stevies, who were recently Unearthed by JJJ.

The Age’s readers will probably be heading to The Toff to see Lisa Miller, while if you’re inkling to test out your moves try Cmon Cmon. For a more eclectic lineup go to Rob Roy. For more mainstream tastes there's the mini-fest at the Corner.

The Bedroom Philosopher, Julian Nation
@Wesley Anne, 8:30pm, $10

Ben Birchall, Stop Drop Roll
@The Glasshouse, $6

Cmon Cmon
Hot Little Hands, Winter Park, The April Machines
@The Evelyn, 8:30pm, $8

Duck Dive, Hanabi, The Weekend People, Megan Washington
@Spanish Club Salon, 7:30pm, $8

The Fit, Dane Certificate, The Greenmatics, Knucklehead McSpazzatron
@Rob Roy, 8pm, $5

Emma Heeney and the Daves, The Little Stevies
@The Empress, 9pm, $8

Lisa Miller, Dog Trumpet
@The Toff in Town, 9pm, $16+bf

Warm up for Winter
iOTA and the Beauty Queens, Custom Kings, Rob Sawyer Band, Dan Sultan + more
@The Corner, 6:30pm, $16+bf

Friday the 11th

Take your pick. Another awesome free gig at the Espy Front Bar, head out to Northcote Social Club to take in noughties Aus pop with The Steinbecks, see a great lineup of underground alt rock of Melbourne’s newest indie night at Roxanne in Chinatown, or catch Lisa Miller again at the Toff. Two of the better JJJ favoured acts are in town too - Josh Pyke at Hi-Fi Bar and Youth Group or the Corner, although the Josh Pyke gig is sold out. You may also see dancing in Readings bookshop early in the evening as the white collar brigade, retirees and uni kids alike celebrate the beginning of the weekend with The Basics. Intimate and textured ambient sounds at the Empress too.

Amplifier Machine, The Spheres, Spit (NZ)
@The Empress, 9pm

Antony of the Future
@Pony, 2am, Free

The Basics
@Readings Carlton, 6:30pm

Spencer P. Jones and the Escape Committee, James McCann and the Dirty Skirt Band, Russian Roulettes, Tash Mints
@Espy Front Bar, 9pm, Free

Lisa Miller, Dog Trumpet
@The Toff in Town, 9pm, $16+bf

Josh Pyke, Old Man River, Melanie Horsnell
@Hi-Fi Bar, 8:30pm, SOLD OUT

Spidergoat Canyon, Kids with Guns for Hands, Hotel City Wrecking Traders, Ahkmed
@Pony, 9pm, $8

The Steinbecks, The Guild League, Daytime Freaquency
@NSC, 8:30pm, $10

Us Vs Them
Deloris, The Dead Frenchman, You Will Die Alone
@Roxanne, ?, 8pm

Youth Group, Gersey, Ben Birchall
@The Corner, 8:30pm, $20+bf

Saturday tht 12th

Start off in the arvo at Cloud City. You could stay here until around midnight, but if you’re keen to head elsewhere, and you're not going to Art of Fighting then the bands at the Empress are of a similar vein. But, otherwise, maybe unleash yourself amongst the mayhem at Exile, be impressed by the most stylish man in Melbourne at the East, or mix with electro cool at Roxanne. I’m almost sick of plugging these bands but you won’t be disappointed with what’s on at Click Click either.

Albert’s Basement Party
The Rational Academy, Seth Rees, Do the Robot, It’s So Fucking Great to be Alive, Popolice, Sly Hats + more
@Cloud City, 12pm, $12

Art of Fighting, SubAudible Hum, Tom Budge Goodtime Band
@The Corner, 8:30pm, $22+bf

Baseball, Shooting at Unarmed Men, The Bad Luck Charms, Kind Winds
@Exile on Smith St, 8:30pm, $12

Click Click
The Basics, Little Red, Major Major
@Brown Alley, 9pm, $14

Damn Arms, Dardanelles
@Roxanne, 9pm

Dave Graney and Clare Moore feat The Yellow Lurid Mist, Conway Savage, Stu Thomas Paradox
@East Brunswick Club, 8:30pm, $13+bf

Extreme Wheeze and the Nasty Coughs, Dane Certificate, Three Month Sunset
@The Empress, 8:30pm,

Marcus Teague
@Rooftop Bar

Sunday the 13th

Witness the beginning of a new direction from Architecture in Helsinki and friends down at the Prince. Probably other stuff on too but I'm in a rush.

Architecture in Helsinki, Muscles, Soft Tigers
@Prince Bandroom, 8pm, $20+bf

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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Where the Bands Play

About this time last week I shared with you a rumour that I had heard regarding the closure of The Salon at Melbourne’s Spanish Club in Johnston St. While this closure has yet to be officially confirmed, two other smaller venues did close their doors for the last time last week. The Spoon Café in Victoria St, Brunswick, which hosted a variety of DIY indie acts, hosted its last act last Saturday after the existing operator was evicted, while the Public Office in North Melbourne which favoured underground noise rock and punk acts, is set for the wrecking ball after the venue was sold.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. The Edinburgh Castle on Sydney Rd has been playing host to country and folk acts since December. Hipster kids have another bar option in Roxanne, which is hosting headline gigs, indie nights and DJs, while renovated cabaret joint, The Toff in Town is a new option for smaller seated and standing gigs.

Of most interest to me though is the Brunswick all-ages venue, Cloud City, which is located in a warehouse in 14 Prentice St, Brunswick not far from Sydney Rd. This venue has hosted gigs since February and has so far attracted a range of performers including Camera Obscura, David Kilgour and Batrider.

As an all-ages venue you may think Cloud City is just a venue for the kids, but this isn’t necessarily the perception of the performers. While out here touring with new band The Evens in Febraury, Ian MacKaye best known from hardcore punk pioneers, Fugazi explained on an interview on RRR that the attraction of playing at an all aged venue such as Cloud City was not simply about attracting a wider audience or giving underage fans a chance to hear their music live which I previously somewhat narrowly and perhaps cynically assumed, it was more about experiencing playing music in an environment which wasn’t surrounded by alcohol. But MacKaye wasn’t on an anti-alcohol rant. He explained that he loved a drink but he believed that alcohol sometimes limited the experience from live gigs – enjoying art through music needed to exist beyond simply pubs and bars and instead should be extended more widely to other performance spaces.

The obvious reason why all aged venues are not more common is that live music venues earn a substantial amount of revenue through alcohol sales. The recent births of Edinburgh Castle, Roxanne and The Toff demonstrate that the Melbourne music scene is resourceful enough to create new live music venues, and also a perception from new operators that the scene is vibrant enough to support these venues. However, all aged live music venues are a bit of a different story. Land value and rental inflation have a much greater effect on venues such as Cloud City and subsequently reduce availability in the inner suburbs of Melbourne for other alternative spaces.

Of course maintaining diverse venues such as Cloud City will only be possible if interest from the fans is strong enough. Support from underagers is one way of surviving but I would imagine this would not be sufficient. So, if eclectic underground music does interest you and you agree with Ian Mackaye and would like to get away from plastic cups, sticky carpet and drunken idiots and experience some live tunes in a different environment I suggest you go and check out Cloud City. It may not be around for very long.

Your next chance to see music at Cloud City will be on Saturday where there are 16 bands for $12 from 12pm. Highlights include The Crayon Fields’ Geoff O’Connor dreamy tropical pop side project, Sly Hats, fractured slacker rock from Popolice and anti-folkster, Owls of the Swamp. Plenty of other shoegazing, ambience and experimentation. More about it in the gig guide tomorrow.

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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Bands 'n Stuff: May 2 to May 9

Melbourne is celebrating the first week of May in style with a brilliant listing of local gigs. There are so many highlights I suggest you cancel any plans from Thursday to Sunday and just see gigs. I don’t care if it’s your grandmother’s funeral, your anniversary or whatever. It’s just not that important, when you see what the Melbourne music scene has to offer over this weekend.

For that reason, there is no gig of the week this week.

Well, that’s not entirely accurate. Another reason is because the arrogant, drug affected performance from Nick Littlemore of the headline act from last week’s gig of the week, Teenager was so awful I don’t feel confident enough to make a gig of the week recommendation. Since I’m on the topic though, this gig wasn’t all a downer. I’ve seen Dance with Voices two weeks in a row now, and even though new wavish rock is not typically the ATR genre of choice, if you are at all this way inclined (or your girlfriend is) this band are worth catching live.

But, enough of this. I'm getting sidetracked. Find a comfortable seat and get relaxed ladies and gents ‘cause this week’s offering of gigs is spectacular.

Wednesday the 4th

To start off just a typical Wendsdie night with a little bit of strummin' and singin'.

Ben Birchall Duo
@The Standard, 9pm, Free

Sime Nugent
@Gem Bar & Saloon, 9pm, Free

Dan Warner, Marcel Borrack
@Idgaff, 9pm, $10

Thursday the 3rd

Now we get into it.

Yep, The Basics are at it again, charting their good ship of classic catchy pop tunes all around town before their debut album Stand Out/Fit In is released in stores on Saturday. See them at the Spanish Club headlining the Human Rights Art and Film Festival Fundraiser.

Former wildkids of Aus underground rock, X, are relaunching their album At Home With You at Ding Dong. There will also be anger. mayhem and plenty of distortion from the Y generation with Witch Hats also performing. After supporting The Scientists a couple of weeks ago, is it safe to conclude that Aus underground rock legends are very impressed with these lads?

There’s also a couple of May residencies beginning tonight that will be worthwhile catching. Emma Heeney will kick off her Thursday slot at the Empress, while comic folkster, The Bedroom Philosopher will do the same at the Wesley Anne. Support for the latter from the glorious Pikelet.

The Bedroom Philosopher, Pikelet
@Wesley Anne, 8:30pm, $10

Cmon Cmon
Learn the Splits, Dane Certificate, Drugs in Vegas
@The Evelyn, 8:30pm, $8

Tim Downey and the Little Souls, Princess One Point Five, Touch Typist
@The East, 8:30pm, 10+bf

Emma Heeney, D. Rogers
@The Empress, 8pm, $8

Human Rights Art and Film Festival Fundraiser
The Basics, The Conch, Wassa Wumba
@Spanish Club Salon, 8pm, $8

The Smallgoods, Joni Lightning, Fearless Vampire Killers
@The Tote, 8:30pm, $10

X, Witch Hats, special guests
@Ding Dong, 8pm, $10

Friday the 4th

St Kilda is the place to be tonight. No, that isn’t just because we're hopeful of a super impressive return to form from the Sainters at the Dome against the Blues, but because of some sensational gigs.

Eddy Current Suppression Ring are headlining a free show in the Espy Front Bar with their tense and anxious garage punk rock. Eddy Current are electric live and have a core group of dedicated fans, so get in early or you will be disappointed.

But if you miss out in the Front Bar, the Gershwin Room at the Espy also has an impressive bill. The hypnotic Black Cab will be showing off their mind bending sounds in their last local gig for the year. Swirling atmospheric alt rock from SubAudible Hum and twelve string compositions from Cam Butler as support.

Also in St Kilda, sweaty bodies, cool kids (and me) over at the Prince Bandroom to see pulsating disco rockers Midnight Juggernauts launch their new single, Road to Recovery. Lo-fi electro with the increasingly popular Muscles as a support act, as well as The Temper Trap and a DJ set from K.I.M (from The Presets). I’m afraid this gig is sold out though, so if you haven’t already got a ticket you will have to consider something else.

Alternatives can be found with cranking dirty Aussie rock stars Dallas Crane at the home of Click Click, Colonial Hotel with the everywhere men, The Basics supporting. Also at Ding Dong, Children Collide are playing a return gig in Melbourne after receiving acclaim at SXSW .You can also catch Deloris frontman, Marcus Teague up at the Rooftop Bar (could be a bit chilly though!)

Children Collide, Young Lovers, Bang! Bang! Aids
@Ding Dong, 8pm, $10

Dallas Crane, The Basics
@Colonial Hotel, 9pm, $20

Eddy Current Suppression Ring, Pink Fits, Les Fancy Boys, Jack Nasty Face
@Espy Front Bar, 9:30pm, Free

Khancoban, The Raylenes
@Exile on Smith St, 9pm, $8

Midnight Juggernauts, Temper Trap, Muscles, K.I.M
@Prince Bandroom, 8:30pm, SOLD OUT

Mushroom Giant, Knives of Neptune, Locus Scene, Alaska Ratio
@Rob Roy, 8pm, $8

Russian Roulettes
@Pony, 2am, Free

Marcus Teague
@Rooftop Bar - Curtin House

Saturday the 5th

In the afternoon, there are bunch of bands, headlined by New Estate, at Melbourne’s newest all age venue, Cloud City where they are raising money for a zine.

At night, get along to the East Brunswick Club to see The Lucksmiths play their first show after the Candle Records benefit gigs in Feb. Hopefully we’ll hear some new tunes here, ‘cause it’s been more than eighteen months since Warmer Corners was released so I’m getting a bit toey. Sweet melodies here also from Brisbane's The Zebras and upcoming local twee popsters, summer cats.

If this doesn’t interest you there is angsty post punk rock with Moscow Schoolboy at the Tote, bluesy guitar with Jeff Lang at Northcote Social Club, or you could head to the Toff in the Town gig where the eerie Sir launch their album The Brando Room.

But, if you feel like a night in, The Basics are live on Charbusting 80's on Channel 31 at 10:30 and there is a The Go-Betweens tribute show on ABC at 11.

Broad Meadows, Popolice, Little Athletics, Talkshow Boy
@Pony, 9pm, $6

Cutty Sark
@Pony, 2am, Free

Jeff Lang, Jordie Lane
@NSC, 8:30pm, $15+bf/$20

The Lucksmiths, The Zebras, Summercats
@The East, 8:30pm, $12+bf

Moscow Schoolboy, The Dead South, Moonbase
@The Tote, 9pm, $8

Sir, The Crayon Fields, Jane Badler
@The Toff in the Town-Curtain House, 8pm, $10

You Zine Anthology Benefit Gig
New Estate, Made Austria, Extreme Wheeze, Rose Turtle Ertler, Dane Certificate + more
@Cloud City, 2pm

Sunday the 6th

Rock ‘n fuckin’ roll down to AC/DC Lane for Cherry Rock 007. There’s nothing like a festival at any time to get the adrenalin pumping but what better way to do it than with this ballbreaking lineup including Eddy Current Suppression Ring, Shooting at Unarmed Men and the return of Rocket Science. My Disco were also supposed to be on the bill but aren't any more for some reason.

In the evening, New Buffalo (a.k.a Sally Seltmann) will be hosting an intimate night in front of the piano at Viva la Cabaret on Smith St. I haven’t heard her new record yet but Sally has been getting some smashing reviews so this gig should be a good way to finish a tiring weekend.

Cherry Rock ‘007
Rocket Science
Blood Duster
Eddy Current Suppression Ring
My Disco
Shooting At Unarmed Men
The Devil Rock Four
@AC/DC Lane, ?, $50+bf +beer money

The Hired Guns
@The Standard, 7pm, free

New Buffalo
@Viva La Cabaret, 7pm, $12+bf

Something for Kate, Bit by Bats
@The Corner, 8pm, $28+bf

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