Apr 16, 2016

Dorothy-Kevin Morby

The brilliant new album from Kevin Morby is now out on Dead Oceans. 'Singing Saw' is nine glorious songs of beauty. Kevin's first two albums were pretty great, but this might just be his best album yet. There is a very strong possibility that this will be my favourite album of the year.

Here is 'Dorothy', one of the many stand out tracks.

Apr 2, 2016

The Decemberists @ Sydney Opera House

The Decemberists are a bit of a conundrum in modern music. They don't really fit exactly into any particular genre. They aren't easy to classify. Sort of country, sort of folk, sort of rock. But very literate. Not really cool, except for a brief time. But they somehow appeal to a wide audience that incorporates many ages and backgrounds. Then a few years they took a little break. Their music had perhaps grown a little tired and it was probably the right thing to do. Then early 2015 they returned with a brand new album. "What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World", which was a qualified success. There were some great tunes, but some average ones. It probably could have used some careful editing. One year after the release they returned to Australia for the first time in six years. Excitement was in the air and anticipation was high. In the end the show was a huge amount of fun after perhaps a slow start.

As said the newest album is one I like, but don't love. Naturally, and with good reason, the album would feature heavily in the set. And this gave the show a bit of a steady but not exciting start. Songs like 'Cavalry Captain' and 'The Wrong Year' are just solid but not superb. But it was actually a new song in 'Carolina Low' that got me going. Lead singer Colin Meloy went solo and acoustic and it was pretty magnificent. The other drawback sometimes is the venue. The Sydney Opera House is iconic and historic but sometimes not best suited to certain bands. The Decemberists fit that bill. They are inclusive and involved. They need to feed off a live and lively audience. But Colin Meloy is the master of crowd involvement. And he finally got everyone going. '16 Military Wives' saw Meloy get each section of the crowd involved and singing. This flowed onto 'O Valencia'. We stayed standing and singing. Then it got even better. The first encore was a section of songs from 'The Hazards of Love', an album I loved but one that divided some people. But holy cow, what an encore, replete with great singing from Kelly Hogan. The second encore naturally finished with the crowd favourite "The Mariner's Revenge Song'. A perfect crowd pleaser that had everybody involved. So we all left with huge smiles and were reminded with full effect of the power of great music.

Set List
The Singer Addresses His Audience
Cavalry Captain
The Wrong Year
Hank Eat Your Oatmeal/Calamity Song
The Apology Song
Rox in the Box
Here I Dreamt I Was an Architect (with Fleetwood Mac - Dreams intro)
Make You Better
Down by the Water
Carolina Low
Better Not Wake the Baby
Culling of the Fold
16 Military Wives
O Valencia!

The Hazards of Love 1 (The Prettiest Whistles Won't Wrestle the Thistles Undone)
A Bower Scene
Won't Want for Love (Margaret in the Taiga)
The Rake's Song
The Hazards of Love 4 (The Drowned)

Death Defying (Hoodoo Gurus cover)
The Mariner's Revenge Song

Dear Avery

Mar 25, 2016

Kendrick Lamar @ Allphones Arena

I thought this could be good. I just didn't think it would be THIS good. Great, actually. Kendrick Lamar gave a supremely great performance at Allphones Arena on Wednesday night. He commanded and gripped 18000 fervent fans in a display of impeccable talent. Lamar has risen to the top of his game in the last couple of years, releasing two albums that have received massive critical acclaim. But on top of this he is a supreme performer. But not flashy or relying on tricks. He bares his soul on stage. He projects himself into the hearts and minds of his fans. He is inclusive, inspiring and distinctly human.

Kendrick Lamar arrives on stage and slowly but surely waits for the audience to reach fever pitch. He waits and waits, anticipation building. Then he intonates. THIS. DICK. AIN'T. FREE. His loving fans were hooked. Smitten. Taken by his charisma and his humanity. Soon we were all standing. Dancing, smiling, singing. It's quite a sight to see so many people in unison. Beating hearts all at once. 'm.A.A.d city' absolutely slayed. 'King Kunta' had everyone jumping. Hell, I could mention basically all the songs and how they captured us. But ultimately this was all about Kendrick. An electric, fiercely intelligent performer at the peak of his powers.It is a glorious sight indeed.

Set List
For Free?
Wesley's Theory
Backseat Freestyle
Hood Politics
m.A.A.d city (2nd Verse)
These Walls
The Art of Peer Pressure
Swimming Pools (Drank)
Bitch, Don't Kill My Vibe
Money Trees
m.A.A.d city (1st verse)
For Sale?
Complexion (A Zulu Love)
King Kunta


I Am

Mar 23, 2016

Tweedy @ Factory Theatre

I think Tuesday night at the Factory Theatre was a huge celebration of music. In fact a celebration of the musical career of Mr Jeff Tweedy. It was a great night, but also a very happy night. As happy and joyous a gig that I have been to in a very long time. Tweedy is the man but also the duo, or rather the father and son. Spencer is the talented son of Jeff and together they have released an excellent debut album. Now they tour together, fleshed out by two guitarists and a keyboard player. Spencer plays drums and was very good. But all eyes were on the greatness of Jeff. And he is very great indeed. And so was the night.

The early part of the show was the full band playing the 'Tweedy' songs. They were great actually, especially 'Diamond Light Pt. 1' which was quite epic and the sombre but beautiful 'Nobody Dies Anymore' They played the 'hit' 'Low Key' as Jeff put it sarcastically. Then he announced that he would go solo for a while 'playing some old songs'. Anticipation rose and we all smiled and sighed together. Just Jeff on acoustic playing some of his glorious back catalogue. As you can see by the set list below this was a special half hour or so. All of it great, with probably 'Via Chicago' the absolute stand out. But there was more to come. The band returned for an encore that was to be all covers. I knew having a peek at the Melbourne set list that hopefully a Bowie cover would surface. And it did. The totally glorious 'Five Years', which the band belted out with immaculate style. But then Jeff said 'let's do one more'. With huge excitement we were gifted 'Queen Bitch'. A totally stunning way to end a wonderful night of great music. Jeff Tweedy is truly a gem. His voice is classic and comfortable. But it's humanity that shines the most. He is engaging and engaged, funny and sarcastic. He reacts with the audience like few performers. With a quick wit and a big heart.

Set List
Fake Fur Coat
Diamond Light Pt. 1
Summer Noon
World Away
New Moon
High As Hello
Wait For Love
Love Like a Wire (Diane Izzo cover)
Low Key
Nobody Dies Anymore
Via Chicago (Wilco cover) (solo)
I Am Trying to Break Your Heart (Wilco cover) (solo)
Remember the Mountain Bed (Billy Bragg & Wilco cover) (solo)
Love Lost (Golden Smog cover) (solo)
New Madrid (Uncle Tupelo cover) (solo)
Please Tell My Brother (Golden Smog cover) (solo)
Hummingbird (Wilco cover) (solo)
Either Way (Wilco cover ) (solo)
Jesus, etc. (Wilco cover) (solo)
I'm the Man Who Loves You (Wilco cover) (solo)
A Shot in the Arm (Wilco cover) (solo)
Please Don't Let Me Be So Misunderstood
Only the Lord Knows (Mavis Staples cover)

The Losing End (Neil Young cover)
Give Back The Key to My Heart (Uncle Tupelo cover)
California Stars (Billy Bragg & Wilco cover)
Five Years (David Bowie cover)
Queen Bitch (David Bowie cover)

Mar 19, 2016

Nothing To Hide-Hospital Ships

I am big fan of the work of Jordan Geiger. He for many years produced some amazing work in the band Minus Story, a truly under rated band. After that band folded he has been producing some beautiful work as Hospital Ships. His music is beautifully melodic, very emotional and very unique. Hospital Ships now have a new album out on Graveface Records. 'The Past Is Not a Flood' contains seven tracks and was produced by the esteemed John Congleton in Austin.

As Geiger describes, "'You and I' is the sound of my anxiety, 'Long May You' reflects grieving, 'Nothing To Hide' is inspired by/a tribute to the late Jason Molina, 'Little Flower' is reflecting on a family life I've chosen not to have, 'All In Time' (which is based on the same musical motif as both 'You and I' and 'Long May You') is about accepting the painful and temporary nature of life..."

Here is a beautiful rendition of 'Nothing To Hide' for your listening pleasure.
Please check it out or buy here.

Mar 12, 2016

Built To Spill @ Manning Bar

Boards with stacks of pedals are placed on stage. The band members shuffle on stage. Long beards, slightly unkempt. They bend over and check their gear. They don't need roadies. House lights are still up. Lead singer Doug looks ready. Lights are dimmed. Doug says hi. This is Built to Spill. There is zero pretense. But this band is as important as any band in the history of rock. For over 20 years their melancholic melodies fused with epic guitars have made hearts melt. They certainly have for me. I have been in love with for all of these years and the have lost nothing. They fly totally under the radar these days. So an undersold Manning Bar Thursday night was comfortable and full of true disciples. Converts to the church of Doug Martsch and Built to Spill. My seventh time seeing them and greatness never sounded better.

The set was well put together with a good selection of old and new, with heavy emphasis on their latest release in 'Untethered Moon'. But to start with 'Randy Described Eternity' was more enough to put this gig into orbit. Holy cow! 'Time Trap' soared and 'Goin Against Your Mind' was a supersonic blast. Long haired guitarist Brett Netson seemed to have problems with his large pedal early on. It was clearly frustrating him but he finally seemed to sort it out so that his guitar could counterplay with the glorious riffage of Doug and Jim Roth. It certainly was a crowd pleasing gig with many old and young fans fervently enjoying each guitar lick and riff. Then the encore raised stakes just a little higher. Two covers. One expected. One not. The Blue Oyster Cult was fun and goofy and then they did a superb rendition of 'How Soon Is Now' the stone cold classic of The Smiths. It was certainly a great sight to see most of the audience singing along with gusto and joy. Then it was was back into the catalogue to close with 'Stab'. A perfect way to close a great night.

Set List
Randy Described Eternity
Center Of The Universe
Living Zoo
Time Trap
On The Way
Things Fall Apart
Mess With Time
Never Be The Same
Goin' Against Your Mind

(Don't Fear) The Reaper (Blue Oyster Cult cover)
How Soon Is Now? (The Smiths cover)

Mar 9, 2016

Godspeed You! Black Emperor @ Spectrum Now Festival

Some bands play music. Some bands ARE music. Godspeed You! Black Emperor are such a band. Seeing them Tuesday night, as part of the Spectrum Now Festival,  for the third time (I never thought I would ever say this) I came away in awe. In awe of the sheer majesty and power of this Montreal collective. The epic beauty. The uncompromising approach to their craft. The non reliance on artificial aids. The ability to say something without using any vocals. They exist in their own world. But they touch many. They are unique. They are compelling. They are downright inspiring.

The drone starts and shakes the room. Slowly but surely band members fill the stage. Some sit, some stand. There are two drum kits, multiple guitars, a violin and a double bass. Real film is projected from the back of the room. 'Hope' it says behind the band. Other images would follow. Buildings, flowers, sheep and deer. Cityscapes and landscapes. There is next to no lighting. Songs build from nothing and explode to exquisite loudness. No one speaks. The music does. 'Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress' is heavily featured. 'Piss Crowns Are Trebled' shatters the space. 'Gathering Storm' is impossibly beautiful. A new song is played. 'Buildings'. Then they finish with the epic 'The Sad Mafioso'. I can feel the room imploding. I feel emotionally spent. But in a good way. There is NO ONE like this band.

Set List
Hope Drone
Gathering Storm
Peasantry or 'Light! Inside of Light!'
Lambs' Breath
Asunder, Sweet
Piss Crowns Are Trebled
New Song (Buildings)
The Sad Mafioso