Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Best of 2009: a rundown


The downfall of lists is that they can be so microscopic – just a nano-view of one person's singular likes and dislikes. So, when doing my 2009 best-of, I wanted to expand it a little, so I badgered a lot of kind, patient and musically savvy people for their picks, too (most of which I played on-air). Not only did they put up with my list-hounding, they also selected a lot of awesome music. What I love about year-end reflecting is that you get to play catch-up on things you missed out on; and the best feeling is when you discover some great thing you knew near-zero about before hectoring someone about their 2009 favourites (cf. HTRK, Do The Robot).


So a mega thank-you to all the bands, bloggers, writers, listeners who were sweet enough to put up with my pestering (especially visual superstars Greedy Hen, who came up with a Top 5 mixtape). I've arranged this in vague order of most-wordy to least, and just to be a list-hog, I've started this with my favourites, accompanied by descriptions where I use way too many heart metaphors.

My 30 favourite Australian songs of the year
1. Close Your Eyes And It All Goes Black (recorded live at FBi) by Kid Sam
I know I'm committing about a million music-fan crimes by doing this. Citing a version of a song that hardly anyone owns. And then to put it at number one! Could you get any more indie-snob than that? But hear me out, I'm singling this out not to high-note my record collection or the fact I'm lucky enough to volunteer at a radio station, but because I sincerely love this version to bits. Not that the original on the album isn't great. It's just that the little differences that unfolded in the FBi studio make the song even more of a punch to the heart … the squeaky strings on the record are replaced by the quietest of strums, so Kieran's lyrics get full and bare spotlight; the cute glockenspiel twinkles are gone, instead Kishore plays the melodica, each note lingering and mood-sinking. I was a million kinds of fortunate to be sitting across the desk when this all happened. Close Your Eyes And It All Goes Black is about things disappearing, and yet the song makes the strongest case for not letting go of it.

Still from Blood videoclip by Greedy Hen

2. Blood by The Middle East
A song which I re-fell in love with many times this year. The part where the band turn up their voices, from hushed tones to loud, rowdy choir – and the song scatters into countless full-flight, wayward harmonies – it's such a stampede-charge to the heart. You can see how it transformed The Middle East from relative unknowns in January to music-festival veterans and best-of-list favourites by December. (And the hand-crafted video clip by Greedy Hen made the song even better.)

3. After All by Jonathan Boulet
If you were being a calendar-killjoy, you'd say that this technically came out in 2008 – and it did, on a hand-printed demo that was dropped into my FBi pigeonhole. But most people probably didn't hear it until it got a re-release this November, so I figure this can sneak in. I still love this track as much as I did when I first heard it last October though – the crazy bolts, snaps and shuffle of percussion filtering through this melody-shot song are actually drawers being slammed, and Jonathan Boulet making little scrapes and knocks on a desk. It's so rare that you would get a demo full of perfect, inventive indie-pop from someone little-known and that lottery-chance of discovering something that good in an anonymous-looking stack of records is about the best thing about being at FBi. (Also, this slot could easily belong to One Who Flys Two Who Dies and the wonderfully unavoidable A Community Service Announcement, both from the same record.)

4. Fox & A Prayer by A Casual End Mile
This was another demo discovery. And being a lazybones, here's what I wrote earlier on the blog: "Sometimes you hear a singer for the first time and your heart forgets itself entirely. Unskipped beats pile up, waiting for you to remember to unpause, but music has a funny way of playing cardiac traffic cop – it takes a while for everything to return to normal. It's rare to single out a moment like that, but when I first pulled A Casual End Mile's demo from the weekly mountain of CDs, it was like that completely. Madelaine Lucas' voice is the kind that rewires your memory. Like Hope Sandoval, her words are quiet and spellbinding, able to make the most unadorned songs sound dreamy. A Casual End Mile is one to keep listening to."

5. The Siren Sings by Red Riders
Sometimes you think you have a band all figured out. And then you hear a song that completely rewrites everything you know. If I wind back a while, I remember playing I Think You're Blind from the first Red Riders EP when I was doing my first all-nighters at FBi (that song = 3am for me), and there was that summer where Slide In Next To Me was almost as ubiquitous as Peter Bjorn & John's Young Folks. So the music-sorting part of my brain defined them as sharp-cut, angular rock and then, when I started zipping through tracks on Drown In Colour for the first time (to work out what to play on my show that night), I was stopped entirely by The Siren Sings. All fogged-out and wistful, there's something so hazy, dark and beautiful about it, and trying to mechanically size up why it works is like trying to make logical sense of a half-remembered dream. The song is all fuzzed out and perfectly in focus at the same time; it has the unstoppable pull of something you don't want to let out of your sight.


6. Scarlet Sometimes by The Kritzlers
7. Food Chain #2 by Dragging Pianos
8. Rescue by Black Cab
9. Old Faces by The Motifs
10. Absolute Truth by Shady Lane
11. Tiny Ants by Jane Woody & Angel Eyes
12. Listen Lovers by Castratii
13. Burden by Wolf & Cub
14. Colorado by Pivot
15. We Don't Believe It by Super Wild Horses
16. Beaches by Bridezilla
17. Kids by Sherlock's Daughter
18. Pool Party 2009 by Shazam
19. Kitten Gloves by Denim Owl
20. Mountain by Love of Diagrams
21. Greenwich Meantime by Galactic Empire
22. Mr Light by Royal Chord
23. Remember Me by Tame Impala
24. Betsy Remastered by Robert Luke
25. Time Means Nothing At All by Lisa Mitchell
26. Destination Part 1 by Damn Arms
27. Stranger Than Fiction by City of Satellites
28. Decide What You Want by The Morning Night
29. One Day (Clubfeet Remodel) by The Transients
30. Tables by Peach

My favourite Australian album of the year
Nowhere Forever by Love of Diagrams: hazed-out guitars at full-blast, with melody fracturing and out of each song. This is the album that converted me to the band (the previous two were a little too clean-edged for me), proving that getting pissed-off is the best kind of muse. Nowhere Forever is the album made after Matador rudely dropped the band from the label's roster, and the screw-you defiance of this record has translated into something urgent, entrancing – even kind of dazed-out and beautiful.

Honourable Mentions
Here We Go Down The Rabbit Hole by Shady Lane; Drown In Colour by Red Riders; The Good Fight by Royal Chord; The First Dance by Bridezilla; Marry Me Tonight by HTRK; Machine Is My Animal by City of Satellites. And, even though it came out last year (but then got a second life in 2009 on Rice Is Nice), The Sound of Trees Falling On People by Seekae.

My favourite Australian EP of the year
Dream Pocket by Denim Owl: this record's goofiness aims to distract you from how lush and gorgeous it is. Lucky that trick doesn't work, these songs are indie-pop sophistication gone undercover. Janita Foley can sing the silliest lyrics – and with that voice, all is forgiven.
Honourable Mentions
The Motifs; Sherlock's Daughter; Dragging Pianos.

My favourite demo of the year
Demo 1 & 2 by A Casual End Mile: Even the lo-fi nature of her very first demo couldn't disguise how hyper-talented Madelaine Lucas is. She played live while cursed with a cold in October, and she still sounded husky and enchanting. 2010 can only herald better things for her.
Honourable Mentions
The Kritzlers; No Art.


1. Dance Alone by The Twerps
The Twerps' self-titled EP (which is actually long enough to be an
album) is total bliss. It's D.I.Y calamity jams in its purest funnest form; messy slapstick garage-pop, humorously insightful lyrical gold. Basically whenever we listen to it, we want to hunt them down and be their best friends forever. BFFs!!!

2. Gold Canary by Cloud Control
We air-punch almost everyday just knowing that we get to work with Cloud Control so much. Gold Canary, the second single from their upcoming album (due for release early 2010!!! Wooohooo!) has the usual hauntingly beautiful vocal harmonies, nostalgic jangly guitars and organ that define the Cloud Control sound, but this one also has … wait for it … a winding African vibe! Seriously, who saw that coming?! It sends us straight to Graceland. I won't even mention how many iTunes playcounts it has had in the Greedy Hen studio. It's pure joy.

And what is most definitely the icing on the cake is that it will soon be available on a sweet looking 7" vinyl, too. Yes way! Did I mention we're enthusiastic nerds?

Jack Ladder photo by Will Reichelt, willreichelt.com

3. Case Closed by Jack Ladder (the version found on the Counterfeits EP)
OK, so it has come to our attention that Jack Ladder has evolved. Jack Ladder is the new Nick Cave, and the new Tom Waits, and the new howling preacher man, and the new Suicide … Basically, he gets compared to a lot of old things, but no one's mistaking those deep rich vocals and stage swagger for anyone else.

The Counterfeits EP is a re-working of five tracks from his recent soulful album Love Is Gone. It scratches the surface of what the recent live performances have been like and gives us a hint at things to come. His stage presence is electric, his lyrics are intelligent – basically what he's doing is exciting. We're excited!

4. Mirror Ball by Crayon Fields
A perfect twee pop song, this is what cardigans are made of, it's the colour of blushing cheeks. This song kills us! Seriously kills us! Ecstatic fumbling love, awkward lustful longing, we're spellbound. "I look at you and suddenly I'm a virgin in a dance hall", "can't tell if everyone's on heat or sunstroked" – my God! It's almost too much.

5. Blood The Middle East
This year, we spent many many hours cutting out paper trees and watercolouring skies, for an epic hand-made stop motion film clip for one of our most favourite bands, The Middle East. The song is called Blood, and we still get goosebumps from its mighty whistling solos – it's a powerfully climatic joy to behold. It's one of our favourite songs of 2009, in fact the whole EP just breaks our hearts every listen.

Still from Blood videoclip by Greedy Hen

Favourite Album: Crayon Fields - All The Pleasures Of The World. I know it's fey as hell and massively twee, but it's such a nice change from all the bombast and bravado of so much music these days. I love how it's charmingly gawky, while still being beautifully and confidently melodious.

Single: Royal Headache are one of the best new Sydney bands I've heard in ages, their songs Eloise and Honey Joy are awesome.

Demo: Bearhug. I love the way these guys sound. It reminds me of late '80s/early '90s indie rock (when 'indie' still meant something). Sloppy and sonic, like Pavement without a sense of humour.

Al Grigg, Red Riders

Hurt Me by The Jezabels (from She's So Hard)
This sounds ridiculous probably, but I find this song thrilling. Most times it ends, I have to immediately skip back to the beginning to experience that initial rollercoaster drop of the chugga-chugga-chugga Fleetwood Mac guitar dropping into the mix once more. The lyrics concern gender roles and masochism and some other things, but (and I know I’m usually a lyrics man) I find their meaning superfluous to the enjoyment of this song – because this song is about feeling. And my God, when Hayley sings, “Whole cities light up, but nothing can compare to you baby!”, I feel it like you wouldn’t believe.
Shag, presenter of Thursday & Friday Arvos on FBi

Marry Me Tonight by HTRK

I think this record might've been finished in 2006, that's how long it'd been waiting around for a release. Probably leaked early last year or so, but not many folks noticed. I guess it's been a couple of years since HTRK left our shores too. First moving to Berlin, then London (I think) and they've barely batted an eyelid or flashed flesh Australia's way since. Still, I feel like I gots to fly the flag with this record.

Anyway, the music … high-class sleaze, drug-den haze, unsavoury sorts exploiting whoever/whatever – that kind of thing. Impeccably (and I really mean it, the production/arrangements are flawless), crafted noise/atmospherics, grinding bass/drum machine, sexy/detatched and minimal vox. God it's all SO HOT. So messed up.

Special mention to … Dream Pocket by Denim Owl and self-titled releases by Psuche and Darren Sylvester.

Alex Nosek, ii & Oblako Lodka

Bridezilla photo by Will Reichelt, willreichelt.com

It's really hard to single out a single release for 2009 – artists that have really stood out for me include Cabins, Seekae, and the unreleased garage band demos of Desire The Horse. But as far as releases go, it would have to be the Tren Brothers/Bridezilla split 7".

Split releases, and particularly vinyl, don't seem to be as common here as in the US/UK, but this one is special for more reasons than just that. I am a big Mick Harvey fan, and the artwork is always a beautiful touch to the Tren Brothers' records. I loved the Bridezilla track the first time I heard it in its demo form – it's both strong and gentle, sad and hopefully, and so very melodic. I think this release really showcases original Australian music, in its past and present forms.
A Casual End Mile

Over The Stones, Under the Stars by Ned Collette + Wirewalker
I have been living overseas this year and even with the wide availability of music online, I still feel very disconnected from both the Melbourne and Sydney scenes. There are a bunch of bands playing regular shows that I have not heard yet. So this is a necessarily provisional selection – but what choice would not be? I like the tenacity and ruggedness of this album. There's also a lot of anger and resignation and disappointment in it. But Ned's music has always sounded consistent to me. There's something rewardingly unfashionable about it – it's not fickle or faddish, although it never repeats itself either. I guess you'd call that "honesty" – which is not so fashionable …
Ben Gook, music writer & musician

Without having to think about it too hard, I think the Australian release of the year is By The Throat by Ben Frost. An amazing follow-up to his brilliant Theory of Machines album from a few years back, and even though he's an expat he's still as Aussie as you'd like.
Peter Hollo, presenter of Utility Fog on FBi

My favourite song of 2009 is The Quest For Love Aboard the Belafonte from Love On The Second Stair by Telafonica. The whole song just sails along, so dreamy and hopeful. Amazing vocal performance, the whole thing is full of little bits and pieces of gold.
Jonathan Boulet

I have to admit nothing flew put instantly as an ultimate favourite for the year. But if I have to pick, Rainbow Kraut by John Steel Singers was pretty fun, with an infectious energy that lingers between the ears long after you've listened to it.
Alison, Glebe, FBi listener

Top 10
Aleks and the Ramps – Midnight Believer
The Dead Sea – The Dead Sea
AFXJim – Blackout Music
Brian Campeau – Mostly Winter, Sometimes Spring
Ghosts of Television – Forsaken Empire
Parades – Hunters EP
Broken Chip – Pow Wow 7
Ben Frost – By the Throat
Curse ov Dialect – Crisis Tales
Mr Maps – Mimicry of Lines and Light
Greg Stone, Underlapper

Kid Sam: album of the year. (Runner-up: Fergus Brown.)

I loved Fergus the minute I heard it, but Kid Sam crept up on me. The first time I saw them, I was so surprised to know so many songs (I'm AWFUL at matching band names to songs. I just don't hear back-announces when I'm at FBi), but it still took months for me to get into the album somehow. Then suddenly, it was kind of all I was listening to. It has the rare quality of making both being happy and sad better.

New Artist (tied): Home Is Where The Home Studio Is by The Desks. This just killed me, when I was about to collapse during Save FBi, this appeared on the Local Fidelity compilation; Winter People - I loved My Town, but the rest of the EP is just brilliant.
Julia Thomas, Marketing Manager, FBi

When Heavy Profession by St. Helens came out, I was suggesting it was album of the year full stop, local or otherwise. I dig the mood of the album, Jarrod's voice is very affecting and I've always liked his songs and his singing. The biggest hook for me is the chorus of the opener Don't Laugh, when he goes "Oh" and the guitar starts to pick a melody. I only need to hear it once and that bit is stuck in my head for days. It makes me feel funny on the inside.
Miniature Submarines

Sarah Blasko photo by Will Reichelt, willreichelt.com

2009 favourites
Bird On A Wire from As Day Follows Night by Sarah Blasko
Playground from Some People Have Real Problems by Sia
Recordings of Middle East by The Middle East -
King Hokum by C.W.Stoneking
Water and the Flame by Daniel Merriweather feat. Adele
The 13 by Polo Club
Sleeping On Your Style by Thundamentals
Jane Tyrell, The Herd/Firekites

My 2009 fave was called Last Days by Sydney rapper/producer called Fame. Surely Australia's first online mixtape 'leak', Last Days is perfection. You'll feel i) deeper ii) tougher and iii) happier for having downloaded it.

A Mouthful Of Gold EP by Ghoul
Definitely one of the most original and exciting releases to come out of Australia, let alone Sydney. Can't wait for the album.
John Hussell, Seekae

I'm going to go with Heavy Profession by St. Helens as I don't think it got the attention in 2009 that it deserved. I'm not sure if it was my favourite Australian album of the year but it's got this loose, vaguely claustrophobic vibe that I really dig.
Sean, A Reminder

FBi listeners tweet about their fave local releases of the year

Some short-and-sweet picks

Pick of 2009: Gold Canary by Cloud Control (with an honourable mention going to Super Wild Horses for their debut 7").
Dan Pash, Leader Cheetah

Street Bananas by Blank Realm – criminally overlooked kosmiche psych-drone from Brisbane, with an album on Digitalis.
Stuart Buchanan, presenter of New Weird Australia on FBi

My favourite Australian album of 2009 was Easy/House Music by Mum Smokes.
Steve Phillips, Sensory Projects

Here We Go Down The Black Hole by Shady Lane
This album is beautiful and heartbreaking.
Conrad from Richard In Your Mind

First Names by Do The Robot
Ambrose Nock, Apricot Rail

The 13 by Polo Club. Also, any of Aoi's demos from this year.
Brendan Webb, Baddums/ex-Sandpit

Favourite single: Silver Line by Faux Pas
Alexandra Savvides, presenter of Saturday Overhang on FBi

The Sound of Trees Falling on People by Seekae
This record is just an elegantly made album packed with soothing, ambient sounds – as if it’s almost soft to touch. Simply beautiful.
Ro, Those Walls Your Ears.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

This Sunday: Best of 2009 Australian music

Decoder Ring

FBi starts getting list-mad this week, with presenters refining their year-end favourites to the point of laser precision. Last-minute re-arranging and on-air still-deciding can be a common thing – it's the curse of people who take music hugely to heart.

My take on Australian music in 2009 is on this Sunday, 7-9pm AEST, and it will include a lot of picks selected by bands (Jonathan Boulet, Seekae, Red Riders to name a few), FBi folk and listeners. If you would like to add your two cents on your favourite local release(s) of this year, it's not too late! Just add your nomination in the comments section, along with your name, suburb, and why this record spun out your world so much, and hopefully I'll be able to play it and read out your answer!

Here are some visual reminders, if your memory needs some pixels to recall 2009, but if you are more of a words person, here are some bits of text to spark up your list.

All photos were taken at gigs this year, by the highly talented Will Reichelt.


No Art

The Middle East

Tame Impala

Sherlock's Daughter

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Royalchord, Melbourne


Current band rollcall?
Eliza Hiscox, Tammy Haider, Tim Piccone, Ben Butcher.
royalchord has been around since …
We (Eliza and Tammy) started playing music together in 1997 and got serious in 1999. Ben and Tim have started playing with us this year.
Let's play Six Degrees of royalchord. What are some interesting musical links you could come up with?
Tammy: I recorded vocals at a house that Jarvis Cocker owns and, by pure accident, met him in the kitchen one morning whilst he was making toast for his son.
First song ever written?
Tammy: Gosh, I can't quite remember, no doubt it was about a guy, how it went wrong.
Eliza: First real song I wrote that doesn't make me cringe was on our first album, it was called Notion of Invisibility. It's about losing in a relationship, and learning to live alone, after your first heartbreak. There were some strange songs that I've written before which I, to this day, cannot make sense of.
Music making for you began when …
Tammy: I was in The Sound of Music at age six; ever since then, there's been no turning back.
Eliza: piano lessons when mastering A Whole New World, the theme song to Aladdin.

Most unusual sound/instrument you've used in your music?
Bottles on The Good Times, or the creaking door on Mr Light.

Strangest gig you've ever played?
We played a gig in New Orleans where a couple started dry-humping while we were playing our cover of Etta James' I'd Rather Go Blind; it wasn’t really that the gig was strange, more that we'd never thought of ourselves as making music to get down-and-dirty to (not that we mind this, of course). Probably even stranger was playing in Aimes, Iowa, at a Christian arts collective (we didn't know this beforehand). We ended up playing most of the show unplugged, and on the last song wearing wigs, standing in the centre of the room – it was surreal, beautiful, beyond words.

Do you pin up images when recording to help inspire your songs? (Or put up other things in the studio for the same effect?)
We like to pin lyrics up and tend to have pieces of disassembled equipment scattered round, empty beer bottles, pictures of dogs, trees, and always incense burning.
Unlikeliest thing to influence your music?
Tammy: I feel like my nieces' reactions to our music influences me just because, right now, they are really into it, which I think is so sweet.
Eliza: Timbaland.
Most unconventional topic you've covered in your lyrics?
If you had to offer any of your lyrics as love advice (or life advice), you would offer …
Life advice: “I will go go go, where my body will take me, I'll surround myself with the hope that’s left in me”
Most useful lyrics you've heard in a song?
Tammy: I'm sorry there are just too many to give one.
Eliza: I don't like songs with useful lyrics, or I don't take note of them at least! I love songs which have lyrics that hit you to your core, tell a story or express something so sad but is made beautiful in a song. I think pretty much everything Bill Callahan writes would fit that criteria. Also D.C. Berman of the Silver Jews: "You're a tower without a bell, you're a negative wishing well."

Do you think the country/city/town you live in affects your music in any way?
Definitely! For us, it's almost the opposite, I guess, as we are shifting around every couple of months, so the city we are in tends to have a transient effect on our music; it really takes us into our own world and mixes up the flavours.
You would love to record with …
Anyone from Hot Chip, Timbaland, Danger Mouse (dream on!).
Favourite person you have performed with/recorded with …
Tim Piccone and Ben Butcher, Andrew Spencer Goldman, Andrew Bencina – all such good, fun, creative, brilliant people.
Outside of royalchord, you spend your time …
Right now, pushing paper, daydreaming of travelling once more, playing tennis, walking the dog, playing with my friend's two-year-old daughter, walking, drinking, sleeping.

Next for you is …
A Sydney and Brisbane album launch, then U.S, U.K and European tours.
If record stores had to come up with a new genre name to file your music under, it would be called …
Fauxtronica Romantica.


Royalchord's album The Good Fight is full of quiet surprises, and contains one of my favourite songs this year (Mr Light, creaking door sound and all). You can catch the band launching the record this Friday at Serial Space in Chippendale. For more details (and general up-to-date info about the band), head to their MySpace.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Making a list, checking it twice


Like a lot of people, I've totally fallen for list fever. With all this best-of reflecting that's happening everywhere, I'd love to hear people's thoughts on which Australian records were the keepers, the ones that survived the hype, (and people's hopeless memories). Which underrated gems deserved more of the spotlight?

So I'm doing two list-crazy shows on Local Fidelity - 'Best of 2009' on December 20 and 'Best of 2000-nowish' on December 27. It'd be awesome if you could somehow take part.

If you could single out your pick for 2009 favourite Australian record – it could be an album, single, EP, demo – as well as your utmost favourite of the last ten years, that would be amazing. (If you're able to add a line or two on why these releases have defined your year/decade, that'd also be brilliant.) Please everyone don't pick Since I Left You by The Avalanches (even though it is a killer record)!!

Just leave your suggestions, along with your name and suburb in the comments section and I'll announce & play as many as I can on-air on Dec 20 & Dec 27 from 7pm. I'll also blog about the responses here.

To jog your memory, here are a few names (though I'm sure I've missed lots, so please fill in the musical gaps, if you know any).

A Casual End Mile. AFXJim. Aleks and the Ramps. An Horse. Angie Hart. Apricot Rail. Band Of The Free. Bearhug. Bird Automatic. Black Cab. Bluejuice. Brave Radar. Bridezilla. Broken Chip. Cameras. Castratii. City of Satellites. Cleptoclectics. Clubfeet. Convaire. Damn Arms. Danimals. Dave McCormack. Dappled Cities. Darren Hanlon. Decoder Ring. Denim Owl. Dick Diver. Dragging Pianos. Drama For Yamaha. El Mopa. Erasers. Faux Pas. Fourplay. G.L.O.V.E.S. Grand Salvo. Great Earthquake. Greyhound Lane. Harmonic 313. Holidays On Ice. Horrorshow. Howard. I Dream In Transit. I Heart Hiroshima. Jane Woody & Angel Eyes. Jessica Says. Jonathan Boulet. Kid Sam. Killaqueenz. Lisa Mitchell. Local Fidelity (ha). Lost Valentinos. Love Connection. Love of Diagrams. Martin Craft. Maxine Kauter. Megastick Fanfare. Miami Horror. Mum Smokes. Music Vs Physics. Namatoke. New Weird Australia 1, II & III. Nicola Lester. No Art. Oh Mercy. Orisha. Oto Uto. Peach. Record Producer. Red Riders. Royal Chord. Sailmaker. Sarah Blasko. Seekae. Shady Lane. Shazam. Shock! Horror! Sherlock’s Daughter. Snob Scrilla. Songs. Spunk Singles Club Compilation. St Helens. Super Melody. Super Wild Horses. Tara Simmons. Tarcutta. Telafonica. The Bon Scotts. The Church. The Crayon Fields. The Kritzlers. The Mess Hall. The Middle East. The Model School. The Native Cats. The Night Terrors. The Rational Academy. The Twerps. Umpire. Underlapper Remixes. Unkle Ho. Urthboy. Voltaire Twins. Washington. Williams Break. Wolf And Cub.


Adamsaidgalore. Aleks and the Ramps. AFXJim. An Horse. Angie Hart. Apricot Rail. Architecture in Helsinki. Art of Fighting. Bag Raiders. Barrage. Belles Will Ring. Big Heavy Stuff. Bird Automatic. Birth Glow. Bluejuice. Bluebottle Kiss. Brave Radar. Bridezilla. Broken Chip. City City City. City of Satellites. Cleptoclectics. Clubfeet. Coda. Cut Copy. Damn Arms. Dappled Cities. Darren Hanlon. Decoder Ring. Denim Owl. Dick Diver. Dragging Pianos. Drama For Yamaha. El Mopa. Expatriate. Faux Pas. Fdel. Firekites. Gaslight Radio. Gerling. Grand Salvo. Great Earthquake. Greyhound Lane. Guy Blackman. Harmonic 313. Hermitude. Holidays On Ice. Horrorshow. I Heart Hiroshima. ii. Jack Ladder. Jane Woody & Angel Eyes. Jessica Says. Jonathan Boulet. Julian Nation. Kid Sam. Laura Jean. Ladyhawke. Lisa Mitchell. Little Red. Lost Valentinos. Love Connection. Love of Diagrams. Luluc. Machine Translations. Martin Craft. Midnight Juggernauts. Minimum Chips. Mountains In The Sky. Namatoke. New Buffalo. Nick Cave. Nick Huggins. Ninetynine. Oh Mercy. Parades. Pikelet. Pivot. Pnau. Pretty Boy Crossover. Princess 1.5. Prop. Red Riders. Qua. Richard Easton. Richard In Your Mind. Robert Luke. Royal Chord. Sailmaker. Sarah Blasko. Seekae. School of Two. Shady Lane. Sherlock’s Daughter. Sly Hats. Sodastream. Songs. Sounds Like Sunset. Sui Zhen. Tame Impala. Tarcutta. Telafonica. Telemetry Orchestra. The Avalanches. The Church. The Crayon Fields. The Desks. The Devastations. The Go-Betweens. Thehead. The Lucksmiths. The Middle East. The Model School. The Motifs. The Presets. The Rectifiers. The Twerps. The Woods Themselves. Tim Koch. Tobias Cummings. Touch Typist. Tucker Bs. Unkle Ho. You Am I. Underlapper. Urthboy. Washington. Williams Break. Wolf And Cub. Youthgroup.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Red Riders acoustic-ish on FBi this Sunday

Photo by Will Reichelt, willreichelt.com

One of my favourite favourite things this year has to be the XS-sized gig that Red Riders did for FBi last month. It took place in the Acca Dacca Room at Troy Horse Studios, to a roll call of 30 competition winners (and people who shamelessly snuck in, like me).

It was acoustic-ish ("ish" meaning there was still a bit of amp fuzz to rough up all the strums and percussive patter), and it was awesome to hear the band's songs retranslated this way. My Love Is Stronger Than Your Love, when triple-distilled into the quietest of sounds, actually makes you stop a little.

The epic highlight for me was finally hearing The Siren Sings live – it is my above-all favourite from latest album Drown In Colour and it'd never been performed outside of a studio before. There's something about spark and energy of a track suddenly coming to life that really is magic.

Photo by Will Reichelt, willreichelt.com

You can hear this all, finally, on the radio this coming Sunday, 2pm, as part of FBi's Live Feed (hopefully with some of the zingy inter-band banter intact, they are very entertaining guys).

P.S. These pics were taken from Will's blog and I find this comment someone left under the photos hilarious:
Is alex sure his mum didn’t make sweet love to bob dylan?
my god, he’s getting more handsome all the time :)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Another FBI fundraising compilation …

The Live Feed CD Out Now

This time, it's the Live Feed album. Not entirely Australian, but all tracks were especially recorded for the station and unavailable elsewhere (and, therefore music-nerd-perfect). Every penny you spend on it helps support FBi. Click here to see which bands made the record sleeve.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Halloween-ish special

On Sun Nov 1, the night after Halloween, Local Fidelity is going to revisit the ghosts of the past and play two hours of great Australian bands that are sadly no longer kicking around. Some of them will be fresh casualties - Young & Restless, The Lucksmiths, Gameboy/Gamegirl, Damn Arms are some of the bands that called it quits this year - while others, such as Sandpit, would have departed a long while ago.

If you have any suggestions for favourite Australian bands that are now just bone-dust, please leave them in the comments & hopefully I can revive them briefly, on-air, on Sun Nov 1, 7pm-9pm AEST on FBI 94.5FM or www.fbiradio.com.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Voltaire Twins, Perth


Current band rollcall?
Current band rollcall (and what instruments/roles you play)?
Tegan Voltaire - synths and vocals
Jaymes Voltaire - synths and vocals
Jye Satti - live drums

Voltaire Twins has been around since …
Saturday morning mini synth jams suddenly got serious. Somewhere along the line, we became a band.

Let's play Six Degrees of Six Degrees of Voltaire Twins. What are some interesting musical links you could come up with?
Tegan once accidentally met the band The Eagles, but didn't realise it when she worked in a coffee trailer many many years ago.

First song ever written?
We wrote a song called Burn about brothers and sisters. We ditched it years ago, but we've recycled bits of it into a few different songs now.

Music making for you began when …
Primary school recorder was our first foray into music. After that, Jaymes played Trombone in the School band and Tegan sang in the school choir. We got a piano in year ten and learnt the keys.

Most unusual sound/instrument you've used in your music?
In primary school Jaymes once made an instrument out of a hose and a funnel and some other garden instruments. Tegan made a guitar with a shoebox and elastic bands. Jaymes did a remix that had this weird sound in it that sounded like a duck quacking backwards in a hallway.

Strangest gig you've ever played?
We once performed a Valentine's Day show dressed as Marie Antoinette and Louis the 14th. Wigs and everything.

Do you pin up images when recording to help inspire your songs? (Or put up other things in the studio for the same effect?)
We're actually in the studio recording as we write this. There is a big photo of Russell Crowe in the toilet. Ponder THAT.

Unlikeliest thing to influence your music?
Billy Ray Cyrus.

Most unconventional topic you've covered in your lyrics?
In the early days we had a song about a postman - but it was the centre of much contention, so we dropped it.

If you had to offer any of your lyrics as love advice (or life advice), you would offer ...
Fight then leave, never say please.

Most useful lyrics you've heard in a song?
Sing your life.

Do you think the country/city/town you live in affects your music in any way?
Perth's small - there aren't that many venues and big events going on all year round, so I think you do have to be a bit more creative and make things happen yourself, sometimes.

You would love to record with …
David Byrne, Giorgio Moroder, Arthur Russell

Favourite person you have performed with/recorded with …
Jerry Bouthier did a JBAG remix of our song D.I.L, which was really amazing.

Outside of Voltaire Twins, you spend your time …
Tegan: Mainly playing SNES, DS, making dress-up costumes, eating cheese Twisties in bed.
Jaymes: eBaying, DS, DJing, dressing up as various animals.

Next for you is …
A trip to Melbourne and glamorous Sydney just before Christmas!


Voltaire Twins were one of the many amazing bands who contributed to the Local Fidelity compilation fundraising CD earlier this year. The band has since released its first single, D.I.L., a punchy, whipsmart electro number which comes with some very fine remixes, such as the aforementioned JBAG makeover and the awesomely named Boy-Crazy Stacey mix. To find out more, head to the Voltaire Twins MySpace.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Jonathan Boulet, Sydney

Current band rollcall?
Jono Boulet - Guitars/vocals
Ravi Gupta - Guitar/vocals
Rebecca Shave - Keys/vocals/percussion
Dave Rogers - Bass/vocals
Tim Watkins - Drums
You - handclaps/vocals

Jonathan Boulet has been (musically) around since …
Always been writing music, put first album together a couple years back just after high school was done. It was just a collection of songs I recorded over the years.

Let's play Six Degrees of Jonathan Boulet. What are some interesting musical links you could come up with?
The guitarist from my other band (Parades), his hairdresser is the the ex-girlfriend of one of the guys from the band Cult of Luna.

First song ever written?
I used to do a bunch of electronic stuff, and I've got hundreds of four-bar loops that I made with my keyboard during high school. But the first one I ever released to the public would be a song called Storm's A-Comin'. That was the first track I recorded properly, the first time I got some good microphones and an audio interface.

Music making for you began when …
When we started our first band with the guys from Parades, we were in a punk/hardcore band. All we ever wanted was to be known as the wildest, craziest band around. So the aim at every show was just go as nuts as our bodies would allow.

Most unusual sound/instrument you've used in your music?
Cupboards, doors, coconuts, cars driving by. I sampled a British cousin saying 'wicked' once just 'cos I really liked his accent.

Strangest gig you've ever played?
No strange gigs yet. Mainly because I haven't played any as yet. But I'm sure I'll have some kind of answer once I'm done with Tame Impala …

Do you pin up images when recording to help inspire your songs? (Or put up other things in the studio for the same effect?)
Not really. Sometimes it's fun having lava lamps and such. We've had this crazy star projection thing before, though. You turn all the lights off so it's totally dark, then when you turn this thing on, it projects thousands of stars onto the roof and walls. It's really crazy 'cos they're moving really slowly … but it doesn't help because you're too busy being blown away that you can't get anything done.

Unlikeliest thing to influence your music?
Punk/hardcore music. I can't really cite specific songs or parts where the influence show through, but I know it's there. There's alot of great ideas and vibes in that style of music and it's always good to be open to anything.

Most unconventional topic you've covered in your lyrics?
That's a hard one because, for most of my lyrics, I'm not even sure what they are addressing.

If you had to offer any of your lyrics as love advice (or life advice), you would offer …

Most useful lyrics you've heard in a song?
"In the wake of our existence, in our parades and in our dances; touch, see and behold the wisdom of the party program. Essential in our lifetime and irresistible in our touch, the great spirits proclaim that capitalism is indeed organised crime and we're all the victims. This next one is called Refused Party Program."

Do you think the country/city/town you live in affects your music in any way?
Yeah, for sure. The environment you're in, in general. I'm getting really sick of this garage and I think it affects the way I write music. Like I can't get inspired to write fresh sounds when I'm in a place that I know so well. So when it comes to writing the next record, I'm definitely going to do it in another room.

You would love to record with ...
A massive crowd. Like, hundreds of people recording the vocals at the same time. That would be epic.

Favourite person you have performed with/recorded with …
Seekae, Megastick Fanfare, Ghoul, Bearhug and Sherlock's Daughter. All super-promising bands on the up and up.

Outside of your solo music, you spend your time …
Skating, writing music, Parades, Snake Face, trying to be artistic.

Next for you is ...
This Tame Impala tour, followed by some intimate Sydney shows, and the official release of the record.

If record stores had to come up with a new genre name to file your music under, it would be called ... (feel free to come up with the craziest-sounding-yet-most-accurate name)
"This music is OK."

A CD burn wrapped in an old journal called Modern Medical Counsellor was my introduction to Jonathan Boulet. Then 19 years old, he’d dropped off a demo at FBI’s Music Open Day late last year. It was sealed together with masky tape and had a computer-printed set list. After All was the first song I totally fell for and I loved it even more when I later discovered the shuffly percussion came from him jumbling cabinet drawers open and shut. Continue Calling, with its Animal Collective-esque pop-racuousness, was the single we played on FBI.

Earlier this year, his music got picked up by a New York label, Evident; made the run of coolsy music blogs, and Community Service Announcement became wonderfully unavoidable. A great great song that was part of the new self-titled album, repackaged with additional songs from that first demo. I asked him to come onto Local Fidelity for a chat and song and he brought an army of people, a kick drum and great stories to tell. (The coconuts referred to in one of the answers above are actually from a coconut bikini that his grandad wore at a Hawaiian-themed party. Perfect.) I’ve never seen so many people packed in the FBI studio, and they all hollered along beautifully to Continue Calling, it was a test-tube version of the live performance that he wanted to do on a real stage. And now, after shunning venues for so long – exiling himself so he could experiment with how to recreate his inviting music live (and I mean literally ‘inviting’, because he wants your voice to meld in the noise coming through the amps), Jonathan Boulet is finally doing a run of shows and what a start: supports with The Middle East and Dragging Pianos, Tame Impala and El Perro Del Mar. I cannot tell you how excited I am.

Head to his MySpace for all the essentials. You'll want to keep track.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Denim Owl, Melbourne

Current band rollcall?
Organ/synth-playing and singing words: Denim Owl.
Real name: Janita Foley.
Drums, loops and samples: Brain Cobra.
Real (ish) name: Aleks Bryant.

Denim Owl has been around since ...
3rd November 2006. On that day, I was at my friend Simon’s house and whilst in the loo, I came up with the name Denim Owl. Then I went in to his studio and recorded a skeletal version of Kitten Gloves on a Bontempi air-powered organ and er … um … made a MySpace page.

Let's play Six Degrees of Denim Owl. What are some interesting musical links you could come up with?
I'm friends with this guy Jamie Mildren. You may have heard of his band Slo-mo Speedboat? A band to watch! Jamie plays pretty, slo-mo style kalimba on Chattering Face (When The Hammock Hits Quartz).

First song ever written?
A silly song called Tiger On A Holiday written with my younger siblings. It was about a tiger who flees the jungle to go on holiday but it sucks, he gets yelled at by people on a beach and also by a butcher. They freak out when he opens his mouth to speak, as he can only “roar” or “grrr”. It’s quite important on a political level.

Music making for you began when ...
My pop bought my sister and I a Yamaha Organ when I was about eight. We rocked Supercalafragilisticexpialadocious like bitches on wheels. About age 13, my parents bought me a keyboard and I started composing proggy keyboard pieces. Those were the days!

Most unusual sound/instrument you've used in your music?
The sound of our cat Wind Panther “meowing” at the very start of Kitten Gloves. I had to give him a little squeeze to get him to perform. Sorry Windy, but you got to be on my record. That was the deal.

Strangest gig you've ever played?
We played in Tokyo last year, a set of Ramps and Denim Owl songs to backing tracks. It was quite strange to be doing it at all. At one of the shows, we wore white surgical masks and we drew sharks' mouths on them. Somebody pointed out afterward that we were wearing the masks upside down. Hilarity ensued.

Then all the indie kids lost their collective shit over our Omnichord. Which was strange given that they are made in Japan. We assumed they’d have thousands of Omnichords, clogging up waterways, etc etc. Apparently not!

Do you pin up images when recording to help inspire your songs?
We do have a picture of the cosmos (or a segment thereof) up in our studio. Last night, we were rehearsing and I was staring into it. And it was indeed inspiring. I think I will do this for the next record. (Some patterned wallpaper samples from the sixties might also rock.)

The best thing is nature. Staring at nature is top of my list for getting inspired. Especially gardens. But studios are always dark windowless places. Patterns and cosmos are more realistic image choices. And kittens. Kittens are a given.

Unlikeliest thing to influence your music?

Most unconventional topic you've covered in your lyrics?
I recently wrote a song that was partly inspired by a story by Miranda July. It’s called The Swim Team. The story is about a woman who teaches old folks to swim in her house. It’s a gas. My song is about a couple creating a nautical fantasy in their living room. It’s about escapism, and the way pointless intellectualising can dilute another’s experience of joy. I think.

If you had to offer any of your lyrics as love advice (or life advice), you would offer ...
“There’s bacteria in the water, so we must drink alcohol.”

Most useful lyrics you've heard in a song?
“He was smiling through his own personal hell
Dropped his last dime down a wishing well
But he was hoping too close
And then he fell
Now he’s Casper the friendly ghost”
That's Daniel Johnston unravelling one of life’s looming questions: who was Casper the friendly ghost, pre-death? When I read those comics as a wee 'un, it never occurred to me that he died penniless and in a desperate bid to gain respect from society. He was just a nice dead dude.

Do you think the town you live in affects your music in any way?
Yes. I was really glad to move to Brunswick (an inner suburb of Melbourne) and importantly, away from TRAM NOISE. I don’t mind it so long as I don’t have to hear it all the time. Silence is an enormous golden statue of an adorable fluffy penguin. It is a valuable lawn ornament. And Melbourne is a pretty stimulating place, compared to lovely laid back Launceston (Tasmania, where I come from).

Living in Melbourne, I appreciate the fact that I can feed off the city's energy, but still maintain a decent level of solitude. Also, there are many opportunities to perform here which raises the value of live shows; so Melbourne should, by that logic, be populated by amazing live bands. We are endeavouring to be at least an above-average live band!

You would love to record with ...
Yoshimi from OOIOO.

Favourite person you have performed/recorded with ...
Aleks and the (other) Ramps.

Outside of Denim Owl, you spend your time ...
The first rule of Denim Owl is, there is no outside of Denim Owl.

Next for you is ...
Writing songs for a feature-length extravaganza on ice.

If record stores had to come up with a new genre name to file your music under, it would be called ...
... Misc.

Somewhere along the way, 'quirky' got hijacked as polite codeword for 'annoying'. To me, the term still means 'endearingly eccentric' and is a compliment rather than a putdown, and I would apply it as I would a gold-star to Denim Owl's music. The goofy lyrics (particularly on songs like Red Leather) seem to act like a jokey decoy, aiming to distract you from how lush Janita's vocals are (like sticking a fake-moustache on a pretty woman's face). And all the about-turns and offbeat tricks in each song almost does sidetrack you from the main attraction, but her voice is this lovely haze that's hard to ignore. Dream Pocket is the name of Denim Owl's latest EP and it's been something of a stayer for the last few months. Click on her MySpace for more details.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

A Casual End Mile, Sydney


Current band rollcall?
At the moment it's all just me (Madelaine Lucas), live and recorded.

A Casual End Mile has been around since ...
February this year in a public sense, when I started played my first show. But I’ve been using the name for my collection of home recordings I’ve collected on and off for a year or so.

Let's play Six Degrees of A Casual End Mile. What are some interesting musical links you could come up with?
My dad, Steve Lucas, was/is the front man of the Australian band X. A lot of people have asked me how you’re supposed to rebel as teenager when your father is a punk rock musician. I guess I did it by making acoustic folk music.

In terms of the local music scene, I recently I played an FBi fundraiser show with Daisy M. Tulley (Bridezilla). Her music is inspiring and beautiful and makes me want to cry sometimes ... Even when she throws in the occasional ‘motherfucker’.

I've also played shows with And Then To Bed, and medieval music maestro Jack Colwell, who has also done a wonderful job setting me up with shows this year.

First song ever written?
I wish I could remember, but I was always making up little songs when I was younger. I’m sure it was awful! I think the first I put under the name of A Casual End Mile was called Too Little, Too Late. It was a three-chord country song that went for about two minutes.

Music making for you began when ...
I traded ballet for trumpet lessons when I was eight.

Most unusual sound/instrument you've used in your music?
Unintentionally, the noise of my little brothers creating chaos in the hallway outside my bedroom got trapped in a love song.

Strangest gig you've ever played?
I think every gig is strange in its own way. The first show I played this year was on a farm, on Valentine’s Day, and it rained the entire weekend. During my set, all this smoke appeared and I thought I was going to be electrocuted ... but it turned out that it was just a secret smoke machine, self-activating.

The gig I played at the Bridge Hotel in April was also strange, because it was my first in Sydney playing a lot of new stuff, and I was introduced by a comedian with a very bizarre sense of humour, which became quite awkward considering the intimate atmosphere of the evening.

Do you pin up images when recording to help inspire your songs?
Not really. My inspiration comes mostly from subconscious pickings of things that I have felt, or seen or read or heard about. If anything, I’m more likely to be inspired by beautiful combinations of words in books or poems, rather than pictures.

Unlikeliest thing to influence your music?
I think I am influenced by pretty standard stuff – loving, breathing, heartache, death, boredom, the weather. I suppose I am inspired by a lot of different genres of music though, and listen to folk music less than bands like Pavement or Animal Collective at the moment.

Most unconventional topic you've covered in your lyrics?

If you had to offer any of your lyrics as love advice (or life advice), you would offer ...
“Let me be your woman”!

Most useful lyrics you've heard in a song?
Maybe the lyrics in More Adventurous by Rilo Kiley, in terms of poignant advice. I also like the sentiment, "Someday, we’ll be dignified and old", from the Modern Lovers – there’s something comforting there. I guess any lyrics are useful if they can relate, or mean something to another person.

Do you think the town you live in affects your music in any way?
Definitely. Cities have souls, and things like the weather, buildings and people are definitely things that influence me. I love Sydney, with its beautiful cityscape, and the scene of creative people which expands all the time, but I would like to live somewhere else for awhile and see what I would come up with in a completely different environment.

You would love to record with ...
An entire symphony orchestra! Even though it would be incredibly difficult, I think it could be amazing.

Favourite person you have recorded with ...
I just did some home recordings with the lovely Ms. Pia May (Bridezilla). It’s been nice to record in someone else’s bedroom for a change, and it’s amazing how much just one other person can bring to a song, and make it come alive. Plus, our music dates always involve a lot of tea and caramel crowns.

Outside of A Casual End Mile, you spend your time ...
With my friends, running around the town, staying up too late, working in a kid's bookstore, drinking tea, talking ... And sometimes going to uni.

Next for you is ...
Recording another new project which I’m really excited about, and hopefully more A Casual End Mile gigs soon to keep me out of trouble!

If record stores had to come up with a new genre name to file your music under, it would be called ...

Sometimes you hear a singer for the first time and your heart forgets itself entirely. Unskipped beats pile up, waiting for you to remember to unpause, but music has a funny way of playing cardiac traffic cop - it takes a while for everything to return to normal.

It's rare to single out a moment like that, but when I first pulled A Casual End Mile's demo from the weekly mountain of CDs, it was like that completely. Madelaine Lucas' voice is the kind that rewires your memory. Like Hope Sandoval, her words are quiet and spellbinding, able to make the most unadorned songs sound dreamy. A Casual End Mile is one to keep listening to, pay attention here.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Williams Break, Sydney

Current band rollcall?
Richard Seeney, Henry Wolfson & Tim Stroh.

Williams Break has been around since ...
We first formed in 2006, just after we finished school.

First song ever written?
Stantation of Astonishmentation.

Music making for you began when ...
Henry bought a laptop with Reason and Cubase.

I know it's cliched to ask, but how did you get your very unusual band name?
We came up with it one day when brainstorming and we stuck with it because it's very open to interpretation. So far, the most popular responses from people have been a place, a person or a "type of break" e.g. supper, brunch, that sort of thing. To us, it has a few of its own meanings but we prefer to leave it up to others to judge for themselves.

Most unusual sound/instrument you've used in your music?
We've listened to it all too many times to be able to tell anymore.

How do you come up with song titles when the music is mostly electronic instrumentals?
They’re usually made up from what words come to mind when we hear it, for example, Last Words Of A Dying Robot, because we thought that’s what it sounded like. But then again, a few of them are just completely random.

Strangest gig you've ever played?
As Williams Break, that’s yet to happen.

Do you pin up images when recording to help inspire your songs?
Not really, we do have posters up in the studio but most of our inspiration comes from the sounds and images of everyday life.

Unlikeliest thing to influence your music?
The Catholic Church.

Most unconventional topic you've covered in your lyrics?
None of our lyrics are really what you would call "conventional".

If you had to offer any of your lyrics as love advice (or life advice), you would offer ...
"Computer Marines": work that one out.

Most useful lyrics you've heard in a song?
"Pardon me while I burst into flames."

Do you think the country/city/town you live in affects your music in any way?
Definitely, music is the soundtrack to our lives, it evokes the feelings, smells, tastes and sounds around us.

You would love to record with ...
Any of the great symphony orchestras, Air, Trent Reznor, Josh Homme - this list could go on forever ...

Favourite person you have performed/recorded with ...
Ebony Naiun and Adelie Battam were both amazing artists.

Outside of Williams Break, you spend your time ...
We all have our little side projects that we work on, but most of our time is spent working so we can fund these projects. After that, there isn’t much time for anything more than just kicking back and relaxing.

Next for you is ...
Complete and total domination of the world.

If record stores had to come up with a new genre name to file your music under, it would be called ...

It's hugely galvanising when you play a song on the radio and someone listening instantly needs to know what you're spinning. This happened with Would You Please by Williams Break, a song which pulses and stutters so precisely and beautifully, with notes and beats being batted back and forth at micro-distances, until the song relaxes and breezes to a game-over close.

It appears on the Local Fidelity FBI-fundraising compilation, on-sale online ($12) here and also the upcoming Williams Break album, out "around September-ish". If it's anything like past material - it should be endlessly listenable. Keep clicking for Williams Break news here.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Dragging Pianos, Townsville

Current band rollcall?
I record most of it, but I'm a lousy performer so I get help from Bree (The Middle East) live. Some other Middle East guys have offered their services if I came on tour with them.

Dragging Pianos has been around since ...

Let's play Six Degrees of Dragging Pianos. What are some interesting musical links you could come up with?
I live with the Middle East. They practice downstairs. They don't play their hits much – it's usually a set of silly novelty songs inspired by Halo 2. Maybe they'll play them live if you request them (You will Respawn, Eagle for The Kill, Take A Bit of My Shield).

Nathan Roche (Marf Loth) is the most charming man in Sydney. I was going to release my records through his label Artgound Records but he's proven himself to be totally and utterly incompetent, which adds to the charm all the more.

The best man at my dad's wedding (and vice versa) is Phil Jamieson's father. It's unfortunate because I can't see Grinspoon fans having much love for my songs.

First song ever written?
Someone Else, a punk rock song in B minor. It was intended to be a profound statement against bullying. It was very very lame but I was only 13 at the time. I wrote a whole EP of songs similar in nature that I hope no one else in the universe has access to.

Music making for you began when...
I moved to an Aboriginal community in NT and wasn't into motorbikes like the other boys.

Most unusual sound/instrument you've used in your music?

Strangest gig you've ever played?
Under 13s rugby league grand final.

Unlikeliest thing to influence your music?
Ronn Moss's I'm Your Man. I don't know why, but the hit song One More Try just kills me. I wish I could have seen him at one of his shopping centre appearances when he was in Australia.

Most unconventional topic you've covered in your lyrics?
Preparation of food.

If you had to offer any of your lyrics as love advice (or life advice), you would offer ...
I thought pretty hard about this and I've concluded that my songs are not practically applicable to life. Not even metaphorically.

Unless of course you want to go back 1999 (teenage punk rock days), where I had a reservoir of wisdom that I was more than willing to share in my songs. "Open up your eyes, forget those lies" (about racism); "You gotta see a friend's fortune as a blessing" (about jealousy) – the messages weren't very subtle.

Most useful lyrics you've heard in a song?
In Xmas Card From A Hooker in Minneapolis by Tom Waits:

"Wish I had all the money
We used to spend on dope
I'd buy me a used car lot
And I wouldn't sell any of them
Just drive a different car everyday
Depending on how I feel"

It's probably not that useful but it's a wonderful thought anyway.


The story in The Gift by The Velvet Underground. Next time I need to get somewhere cheap, I'll know what to do.

Do you think the town you live in affects your music in any way?
Yes. I guess the isolation brings people together – the Townsville music scene is very close. People encourage creativity a whole lot. We put on our own shows in condemned warehouses and in art galleries – it's really great.

You would love to record with ...
A bunch of good songs, a lot of instruments, and good recording gear. (Maybe Mark Linkous as well).

Favourite person you have performed with/recorded with ...
Jake Core – he's a good friend and an excellent songwriter.

Outside of Dragging Pianos, you spend your time ...
Studying. Stacking shelves at Coles.

Next for you is ...
Finishing off a cardboard piano I've made for live shows. It will make a lousy little midi keyboard look like an old red piano. It's magnificent.

I'm also writing/recording songs about love at the moment. The EP is going to be called In The Desert.

Also I'm hoping to release The Food Chain which is an EP I recorded last year. It's based off a little story that appears in every song.

If record stores had to come up with a new genre name to file your music under, it would be called...

Dragging Pianos appears on the Local Fidelity compilation that I put together to help raise money for FBI. You can get it online here for $12 postage paid or $10 at certain Save FBI fundraiser gigs. All proceeds go to keeping FBI on-air.

Food Chain #2 by Dragging Pianos is one of the many great reasons to hunt it down – hushed and gorgeous, your heart would have to be deepfrozen to not like it, it's one of my favourite songs for a long time. It appears on the upcoming re-release of The Food Chain EP. You can find out more about Dragging Pianos here.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Save FBI 94.5FM at the Metro

Photo of Sherlock's Daughter by Will Reichelt, willreichelt.com

Sometimes it's hard to know what to do with a public holiday. Wanting to maximise this bonus day off, you can get sidetracked by all the choices and end up doing nothing!

This Queen's Birthday, the decision was pretty easy. The music-savvy folks at Spunk Records had kindly organised a FBI 94.5FM fundraiser at the Metro with a brilliant line-up: New Buffalo, The Middle East, Machine Translations, Firekites, Sherlock's Daughter, Megastick Fanfare just to name some of the 30 bands who lugged their gear on stage and captivated the crowd.

Photo of Sherlock's Daughter by Will Reichelt, willreichelt.com

It was good to see Sherlock's Daughter again. I was a little sad that they didn't use the pumpkin thumb piano they mentioned on-air when they were on Local Fidelity the night before. They put on a pretty lively show though, lack of musical vegetables aside.

Photo of Tim from the Firekites by Will Reichelt, willreichelt.com

My major disappointment of the night? Learning - via Shag, from Arvos - that Firekites had done an incredible cover version of 16 Beats by New Buffalo while I was manning the FBI merch desk. I was crushed! Especially as I've been in love with that song since it appeared on Sally Seltmann's first EP back in 2001. One consolation though - Tim from Firekites says they will likely to play the song again live, because it worked so well.

Photo of New Buffalo by Will Reichelt, willreichelt.com

Semi-speaking of New Buffalo, it was great to see her play again after a long absence from Sydney stages. The good news is that she is recording a new album and we got a taste of it when New Buffalo played an incredibly upbeat song from it, dedicated to "all the ladies in the house". Apparently the record will have a much more poppier energy to it than previous New Buffalo albums.

Photo of The Middle East by Will Reichelt, willreichelt.com

The unmistakable highlight of the night was seeing The Middle East perform again. I saw them back in February - in the more squishy confines of a sold-out Hopetoun Hotel show - but it was great to see them span their wings on a much bigger stage.

The band seemed energised by the thrill of (possibly?) performing to one of the largest crowds they've played so far.

I re-fell in love with their song Blood again (a track that Shag is so smitten with, he wishes he could have a legal relationship with it - he would marry that song if he could!)

For me, watching the seven-piece band recreate it onstage was mesmerising. The part in Blood where the band becomes a racuous choir - and the song surges into full-flight harmonies - was joyously loud and heart-halting. It was one of the most amazing things I've seen live this year. I can't wait to see The Middle East again.

Photo of The Middle East by Will Reichelt, willreichelt.com

Thanks to the swarm of great people who came to the show, bought CDs, FBI bags and merch and let their coins clang into our donation buckets. Keep saving FBI through the many gigs yet to come.

Photo of The Middle East by Will Reichelt, willreichelt.com

You can also check out some more great photos of the night, taken by my boyfriend Will, who spent most of the show running from stage to stage, camera lens in hand.