Apr 13, 2014

Different Days-The Men

One of my favourite songs from one of my favourite albums of this year.

Mar 15, 2014

Yo La Tengo @ Sydney Opera House

Yo La Tengo have been around forever. Fact. Yo La Tengo are an American marvel. Fact. Yo La Tengo are pretty great. Fact. Thursday night I got to see them again at the Sydney Opera House. It was an absolute pleasure. This set was a bit different though. Split into two halves. Quiet and loud. The quiet set was just Ira, James and Georgia huddled at the front of the stage. Mainly with Ira and James playing acoustic guitars. Georgia just on a snare drum. A couple of songs on piano. On a few songs Ira would switch to electric guitar. But it was all quiet and subdued. Allowing the songs of beauty to shine. Gorgeous melodies and varied guitar tones. A real delight. Especially the opening song "Ohm" and the truly majestic "Cornelia And Jane" with Georgia shining on lead vocal. This band's songs are so varied, defying any genre or category. It always make a live experience a great exercise for the ears.

After a 20 minute interval the band returned to give it to us loud. And loud it was. The first set managed to draw mainly on their 2013 album in "Fade", but this set was a stroll through their enormous catalogue. Songs were turned up and twisted and turned and elongated. Jam sessions were breaking out everywhere. It was certainly very impressive although I would say I enjoyed the quiet set a little more. After rapturous applause Yo La Tengo returned for a short encore with the last two songs being beautiful renditions that were mellow and sublime. Georgia led the way with "Tom Courtenay" and closing song "Griselda" was a sheer delight. Yo La Tengo might never make big waves in the music scene, but rest assured they are truly essential and always a pleasure to see live. 

Set List
Is That Enough
Nothing To Hide
The Point Of It
Cornelia And Jane
I'll Be Around
Big Day Coming

Stupid Things
Moby Octopad
Little Eyes
Super Kiwi
Stockholm Syndrome
Before We Run
False Alarm
From A Motel 6
Pass The Hatchet, I Think I'm Goodkind

Slow Down
Tom Courtenay

Mar 4, 2014

Neko Case @ Sydney Opera House

That voice. Yes, it's that voice that elevates Neko Case to a higher plain. Her spirit. Her strength. It's a rare commodity. Dare I say it, it's unique. Well it truly is. Monday night at the Sydney Opera House was a clear and direct statement of the talent of Neko. She was in awe of the building she was playing in, but I say we were in awe of you Ms Case.

This night gained momentum as it soared to its thrilling end. It felt subdued for the first couple of numbers. Maybe because Neko was concerned with the sound. I think she was put off by the large theatre with its high ceiling. It sounded perfect to us but it seemed to distract her. But when she picked up her guitar and strode into "The Tigers Have Spoken" all bets were off. The impossibly perfect "Maybe Sparrow" consolidated the night ahead and there was no turning back. Save for not playing "Middle Cyclone" it was nearly a perfect set list. Something from nearly every album and therefore basically something for every one. Even a song that Neko wrote for "The Hunger Games". I was really stoked to hear "Favorite" but the absolute highlight was the breath taking "Nearly Midnight, Honolulu". Just Neko and Kelly Hogan going alone, flooring every single one of us with this stunning song. Hogan has for a long time been a great running mate for Neko. Not only is she a great singer in her own right but she could easily take up a job as a comedian. A very funny lady. In fact all of the band is flat out great. Stalwart Jon Rauhouse does everything and it was a surprise and a delight to see that Eric Bachmann (Archers of Load, Crooked Fingers) now tours with Neko. They all came together beautifully to pound out set closer "Man" which naturally led to a well received and enraptured encore. Neko please never tire of gracing Sydney with your presence.

Set List
Bracing For Sunday
This Tornado Loves You
Lion's Jaws
The Tigers Have Spoken
Maybe Sparrow
City Swan
Local Girl
That Teenage Feeling
Nothing To Remember
The Pharaohs
People Got A Lotta Nerve
Nearly Midnight, Honolulu
Set Out Running
Red Tide
Calling Cards
Hold On, Hold On
Night Still Comes

I Wish I Was The Moon

Star Witness

Feb 23, 2014

Okkervil River @ Oxford Art Factory

Friday night at the Oxford Art Factory was my seventh time seeing the greatness of Okkervil River. Eight if you include a Will Sheff solo show in Melbourne. It's been interesting to see their development and growth over the years since seeing them the first time back in 2005. One thing they have always had is a fierce intensity. An intensity that has made each and every show completely worthwhile. In 2013 the band released their latest album in "The Silver Gymnasium". Whilst I don't believe it is their best it has definitely grown on me. Which is a good thing because they played a fair slew of it. Throw in some classics and this night turned out to be as great as all the previous live visits to this great Texan band.

Of course it all starts with the main man Will Sheff. This man of punchy intelligence and a complete ability to offer his heart and mind to every single live show. There is a manic energy to his persona on stage. Almost deranged by the time he throws himself into the unstoppable closing song in "Unless It's Kicks". He looks exhausted and bedraggled. Which is probably because he has offered himself to the the fray for the previous hour and a half. It starts with a beautiful rage in "It Was My Season". "Black" has us bouncing off the walls and "John Allyn Smith Sails" has us clearing our throats and screaming in unison. "The Valley" tears us a new one and then he announces he will play a classic in "Kansas City". We were putty in his hands. The encore gives us Sheff solo as he entrances us with "A Stone". It is at this point that I feel it's time to give thanks that bands like Okkervil River exist. That songwriters and singers like Will Sheff are in the world. There is no substitution for king size hearts and angry intelligence.

Set List
It Was My Season
On a Balcony
John Allyn Smith Sails
Stay Young
The Valley
Kansas City
For Real
Our Live Is Not A Movie Or Maybe
Lost Coastlines

A Stone (solo)
A Girl In Port
Down Down the Deep River
Unless It's Kicks

Feb 15, 2014

New Album From Woods

You might know by now that I am love with music made by Woods. This Brooklyn based band are not only pretty damn great but also very prolific. So I'm very excited to record that they will be releasing a new album on April 15. "With Light and With Love" contains 10 tracks and judging by the songs released so far it is destined to be very special.

With Light and Love Track Listing
1 Shepherd
2 Shining
3 With Light and Love
4 Moving To The Left
5 New Light
6 Leaves Like Glass
7 Twin Steps
8 Full Moon
9 Only The Lonely
10 Feather Man


Feb 9, 2014

The National @ Sydney Opera House Forecourt

Over many years of hard work and inspiration The National have become a phenomenon. They have gone from bedroom burners to stadium rockers. But they are a band with a difference, a band unique. They present dark and introspective lyrics and topics that somehow have found a wider audience then I'm sure they would ever have expected. It's quite a surreal experience to see thousands of people singing with joy to such dark material. But somehow The National pull it off. Their songs are anthemic and epic. They build with certainty and contain hooks that slowly swallow you. Saturday night was the second of two shows in Sydney. But it wasn't any old venue. It was the Sydney Opera House. But more than that it was on the Forecourt, with the band facing the sails of Sydney's most iconic building. On a perfect summer evening this felt special. Really special. And it was. Two hours of euphoric intensity.

With each and every album the audience of The National has grown. "High Violet" took them to another level and 2013's "Trouble Will Find Me" consolidated their position. Whilst I don't consider it to be their best album it is still a fine one. Last night we would naturally get a good serving of it. Ten I counted. And I actually think they grew a leg live. Especially "I Should Live in Salt", which was more aggressive than on record. I also loved "Sea of Love" and "Graceless". But it was older numbers that really nailed it. Such as "Bloodbuzz Ohio" and one-two punch of "Afraid of Everyone" and "Conversation 16". Much loved too was the slow burning duo of "Slow Show" and "Apartment Story". And of course I was very excited to hear "About Today" once again. I sincerely hope that they never tire of playing this live. But it was the encore where things got a little crazy and a whole lot great. Firstly we heard them ply us with the Perfume Genius cover in "Learning", then "Mr. November" broke loose as Matt Berninger made his way into the rapturous crowd, still wailing as we cheered and sang in full voice. Berninger went in again during the showstopping "Terrible Love". If that wasn't enough then we received, as is expected now, an acoustic version of "Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks". The band fronted the stage and we sang along with glee and pure joy. As it ended we all knew this was a night to remember for a very long time.

Set List
Don't Swallow the Cap
I Should Live in Salt
Mistaken for Strangers
Bloodbuzz Ohio
Sea of Love
Hard to Find
Afraid of Everyone
Conversation 16
Squalor Victoria
I Need My Girl
This Is the Last Time
Slow Show
Apartment Story
Pink Rabbits
About Today
Fake Empire

Learning (Perfume Genius cover)
Mr. November
Terrible Love
Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks (acoustic)

Feb 8, 2014

Frightened Rabbit @ Metro Theatre

Seeing a band several times can be a good thing and a bad thing. Of course, if you love them, then it's obviously pretty good. Hearing songs you love and adore. But sometimes there is a feeling of repetition. A feeling of 'I've seen this before'. Frightened Rabbit are a band we love. Naturally. But their show on Thursday night was one I was looking forward to, but in all honestly I was maybe thinking it would be good but maybe not great. Fatigue. How wrong I was. By the end of their set at the Metro Theatre I was wanting more. My heart was bleeding. My face was aching with joy. I guess that's the power of music and the inherent quality of a great band. Thank you Frightened Rabbit.

There were two moments that really set this night apart. Made it extra special. Of course we enjoyed the greatness of songs like "The Modern Leper" and "Fast Blood" and "State Hospital". But it was towards the end of the set that things went up a notch. Firstly Scott Hutchison gave us "Nitrous Gas" on electric guitar with only his brother Grant and Gordon Skene providing harmonies. That was special enough but soon it was just Scott on acoustic blowing us away with "Poke". After this there was rapturous applause. But it was more than that. It was sustained. Long. Overwhelming. Rare. Special. Then Scott said that this would be the band's last proper gig for a while and wanted to make it a little special. So he gave us two more solo numbers in "Floating In The Forth" and "Fuck This Place". At this point the gig could have ended and it would have been fine. But there was more. An encore of encores (please see below). An encore for the ages. "The Loneliness And The Scream" is now the traditional closer and it's anthemic to say the least. Full of crashing moments and joyous thunder. It ends with the band and audience in sync, a chorus of 'whoas'. But as the band left the stage, spent and joyous, the audience continued. For seemingly a good five minutes. Singing with unrestrained joy. I don't even think it was an attempt to entice another encore but more that we were all having such a great time that we never wanted the end to come. It was that good. So yeah, basically, I'll definitely be seeing you guys again.
Thank you Frightened Rabbit!

Set List
The Modern Leper
Nothing Like You
Living In Colour
Backyard Skulls
Dead Now
Old Old Fashioned
December's Traditions
Music Now
Fast Blood
State Hospital
Head Rolls Off
Nitrous Gas
Poke (solo)
Floating In The Forth (solo)
Fuck This Place (solo)
My Backwards Walk
The Oil Slick
Acts Of Man

The Woodpile
Keep Yourself Warm
The Loneliness And The Scream