Friday, June 23, 2006

Review: Human Six Billion and The Grey Tapes

Like choosing a book the process of choosing a band to see on any particular night is usually based by how I judge sound from the bands name. With Human Six Billion I didn’t really know what to expect until I managed to find HSB’s personal webpage which informed me that the bands singer-songwriter was both a trained Koto player and recognised composer. So it was with high expectations that I wandered down to the Old Bar when instead I should have been studying herbs for University. Unfortunately I was a little disappointed with the show, instead of playing his Koto or experimenting with the twelve tone scale HSB played just a short set of interesting indie songs supported by a nice backing band. So they were all good and well but nothing particularly special.

The same thing can be said of the Grey Tapes who performed first. They played a more rock orientated set, though consisting of a succession of hits and misses wasn't in all too bad. Regrettably though the Grey Tapes are one of those bands whose lead singer is also the bands drummer. This practice is deplorable and should be ceased by anyone that does this immediately. The drums are a rhythmic instrument while the voice is a melodic one and it’s near impossible to do both well simultaneously. When the drummer tries to do this he is forced to either compromise between singing with feeling but keeping a steady, and boring, beat or to drum well but sing impassively.

All in all not a bad show I won’t be avoiding these bands but neither will I be rushing out to see them again soon.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Review: Spirit of Progress - The McAlpine Fusiliers

It is possible that Spirit of Progress are a good country band. They play simple country ditties with open chords and a pleasant tune. At their best they will sing about the obscure and fictional Australian poet Ern Malley. At their worst they will sing songs like, 'they're aint no seven eleven in heaven' which is just a really long list of the various items which heaven apparently won't be catering for. I said it's possible these guys good play good country, thats as I know very little about the scene but generally speaking this band is bland and unoriginal, sort of like all the other country bands.

While I'm here I should mention the McAlpine Fusiliers, above. These guys play colonial era Irish-Australian bush ballads with emphasis on some mean fiddling. They aren't musically great, quote "we'll play this song in G major because friends play in G major", but they are good fun. I was enjoying it greatly before being dragged from the Old Bar by a narrow minded friend who would sadly have rather been almost anywhere else.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Review: The Drones

I first heard the music of the drones listening to RRR late one night after an evening of star gazing courtesy of the university telescope. A Meade Schmidt Cassegrain 0.3 meter reflector if you're interested. The magnificence of the innumerable stars and galaxy’s I saw that night got me thinking about this crazy infinite Universe of ours. If any one band could sum up its vastness and indifference in music then the Drones would be that bands complete antithesis.

The Drones exemplify just what music should be, pure expression of emotion. Their songs are loud, raw and dirty, they play rock and roll but it’s not rock music in the form familiar to listeners of bands like Jet. Of course I’m not implying that they play that horrible emo music either that all the kids listen to nowadays, the emotion they transmit is pure and unrefined not manufactured and the music exists purely as a vehicle to communicate it.

It’s unfortunate that most artists Australian artists either ignored or more worse romaticise our unique and piquant heritage but Gareth’s lyrics, desperately howled and drawled draw their inspiration from the harsh reality of this land and it’s history.
The song Locust for instance,

‘Ether was the town where I was born. They pulled iron from the ground and knife wounds from the port. They built a prison and it tempered in the sun. It rose up off a plateau like the last tooth in a gum... They made the blacks live outside of town, the weekend came they'd tear the whole place down, the Chinese came without weekends at all, and the whites complained the pay was better shooting them in the war... My first girl's old man was in a later war, he drank like a motherfucker, now I know what for, she took my van, put Louie in the jack, left a suicide note and I've got him to thank for that.'

At shows singer and guitarist Gareth Liddiard spits and raves like a lunatic and damn near destroys both guitar and stage in his fits of intense passion. He plays his guitar with such ferocity that he is forced to completely retune his strings after each song. While managing this he is still able to produce some of the most rousing and rending guitar riffs you’re likely to ever hear. To say that Gareth dominates the stage would be an understatement. The other members of the band, bass, drum and guitar players, though each capable musicians seem only subsidiary to the mesmorising intensity of Gareth’s presence.

Recently awarded the Mercury prize for their album, ‘Wait Long by the River and the Bodies of Your Enemies Will Float By’ the Drones are likely, though never will they recieve commercial exposure, to become quite a major Australian group. Unsurprisingly the message of this article is to go see the Drones and to go see them soon.

Alternatively if you have seen them and agree/disagree with the excessive adulation and truely NME worthy hyperbole I’ve demonstrated in here please leave a praise/hate filled comment below.


The real purpose of this site is to post some honest reviews of the local bands in Melbourne town. However I make no claims to having any degree of journalistic integrity or even to possessing a coherent writing style. Often times I will probably dismiss or alternatively hype up bands for next to no good reason. When this happens I would like to encourage everyone to write in hate comments or emails. If anyone would like to write an alternative review i will most happily post it alongside my own. It's up to you guys though to act as watchdog in case I start embellishing uncontrollably and use my power for evil like NME.

Of course reviewing all the bands in Melbourne would be a truely Herculean task but I will try to do what I can and possibly take short cuts from time to time. One such cut will be me back dating a few gigs. It isn't really fair since some of them happened a long time ago and I haven't yet been to a show with the aim of writing a review so you'll all have to bear with me for a while. I will also need to be somewhat selective, for instance the Drones gig I'll put up next will be of the first show of their's at the Corner last year. I saw them recently at the Spanish Club but their performance had lost some of its spark and so I have ignored it.

Well thats enough excuses. Just leave comments about anything though.

Sunday, June 18, 2006


Now as you'll all no doubt come to appreciate over the coming weeks i am not at all adverse to a little bit of hyperbole from time to time so that said, Friday's Grog Blog was the world's greatest thing, ever.

Ariving at the pub fairly early I spent an awkward few minutes trying to fit in with my blogging peers. Being new to the game I wasn't particuarly learned in the main topic of conversation and well intentioned efforts by Alex and Nick to make me feel more comfortable had unfortunately the complete opposite effect. One thing that was going to help me fit in though with this crowd was that most useful of social tools, beer and plenty of it. I had quickly came to realisation that these bloggers are actually some really interesting people. I had for instance a conversation with the Amazing Peter Parker for some thirty minutes on his hobby/obsession with bus and train routes. Surprising as it sounds i wasn't trying desperately the whole time to escape at any cost but rather was imbued to some small degree of his enthusiasm and managed to come away with some rather interesting transport related anecdotes. He also i should add enjoys the Ham radio. Roger that.

After witnessing some right vs left action courtesy of TimT and the ephemeral Armagnac I managed to make the acquaintance of the enchanting Erica. A truely delightful girl who's main interest i gather is knitting. Yes not accupuncturing Engels, you conundrum of a man, for more information on Engels or on what he is not please see the previous post. He's actually not a bad sort i hope i didn't come across too harshly.

For the whole Engels episode i blame my mischievous mentor Ben and his blue blooded cohort Jon from Sterne. Jon has the special ability of delivering everything he says in an even droll, autocratic tone with always a slight hint of a sneer. I find this sort of fitting for one i consider an 'alpha' blogger', I believe it was him who also introduced me to that particular term. Points to Jon as well for though i didn't see it myself i have it on good authority that he had the audacity to insinuate his signature and a message of good will on the Birthday card of a group adjacent to us in the pub.

After further drinks and mingling, those who had not yet left by Pub's close decided to hit the town. First we found our way to some seedy karaoke bar secreted in one of Melbournes many back alleys. As Bruce rightly lamented the actual karaoke level, a scientific quantity, was abysmal. Deciding if we were going to do karaoke we had to do it right we set forth and found some crazy Japanese to set us right. Given our own booth a la Lost in Translation the group of us we proceeded to spend the rest of the night belting out the classics. I seem to remember giving a strirring account of the tenor part for Ken in Aqua's timeless duet Barbie Girl.

So it was that after a short stint in Hungry Jacks wherin i discovered to my intense displeasure that the fucking Sundae machine wasn't working, wearily I caught the first train home on Saturday morning, which if you're interested Peter was the 5.10 to Frankston.

Saturday, June 17, 2006


The name was Engels. Repeated around the room these two syllables were devoured and disgorged by the crowd assembled. Each intoning the word a different way. A sharper consonant or a lengthened vowel brought forth myriad variations on the theme. Constant though was the same end, of reverent silence. The same extended s, trailing dimmuendo. As if repeating the tetragrammaton YHWH, the secret name of god, a sense of awe would fill both the speaker and the listener. The overall effect was of bearing witness to some ancient and pagan ritual. It was intoxicating and I was intoxicated.
But what new heresy was this I asked, who or what is this Engels. Dispelled were fears of a revival of that seditious doctrine from history's most infamous flunky. So too were hopes of a long awaited world tour from German metal gods Rammstein. Affected by both alcohol and lack of sleep I became convinced that Engels must surely be some minor deity sent down from Valhalla. But in vain were my attempts to find Engels that night.
Instead i was presented with a peculiar, somewhat dull but by no means angelic, as a literal german translation of the name would suggest, student of the mathematical sciences. For those wishing to learn more of this chimera, this peddler in disillusion he can be found at this webblog. As for me though I will continue my quest and answer the question that has haunted me this past day, just what is Engels?

Thursday, June 15, 2006

If anyone thinks it fortuitous that i create a blog mere hours before a notorious 'grog blog' event then they would be completely wrong. In fact i've prepared a Venn diagram showing the overlap between wanting to make a blog and wanting to get drunk with total strangers i've admired from afar.
Anyway this blog thing will probably turn out to be a good idea. I do have some ideas other than just taking the random illinformed swipes at various nouns, verbs and proper nouns that most of other blogs seem to be do.
Though i'm not denying that I'll be doing my fair share of that too I will primarily be interested in compiling a list of all the bands in Melbourne coupled with timely information on they're levels of awesomeness which for a lot of these Melbourne bands is sadly low.
I imagine that this sort of information may be useful for those planning a night on the town but primarily it will be useful to me so i don't have to see a horrible band twice after forgetting their name. Yeah I'm looking at you Frankenbok.
I'll probably other things to.
Anyway, time to go drink it up with my new found blogging cred.


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