Thursday, July 20, 2006

Review: Dandelion Wine - Pickpocket

Dandelion Wine are an interesting band. While one half of this bohemian duo plays an assortment of exotic middle age period instruments namely the Appalachian dulcimer, hammered dulcimer, lute and bowed psaltery the other female member processes beats and electronic loops. It gets even better because they play middle age folk melodies while backed by kickin drum beats and vocals. If you’re at all like me this information would be enough to send you rushing out to hear this band without delay. So with very high expectations did I await their set at the Bar Open last week.

Pickpocket were the band who opened the nights show and were another male/female pairing. The difference in this case though was that the male was completely superfluous to the band. The girl member sang and played the acoustic in the expected manner. She was actually pretty good. The guy pretty much just followed the acoustic guitar on the electric and didn’t add particularly to the music. Still not a bad set from a nice band.

When Dandelion Wine had finished assembling their large array of instruments they opened the show (I think) with a small tribute to Syd Barrett by incorporating the theme to Interstellar Overdrive into their introductory bowed psaltery passage. Their music was at times very good, their would be the random electronic beats, peculiar sounds from whatever random instrument and the female vocals but at other times though with application of this same formula it was pretty mundane. Dandelion Wine are an unusual case in that the idea of their band is better than its actual application, this is not to say that they’re not really good it’s just that I had hyped them up way too much in my head before actually hearing what they would be like.

They’re playing a more rock orientated set at the Public Bar in a week or so and I recommend taking a trip down to see them. Walking back from the pub that night I was waylaid at the Old Bar by the enticing thought of being able to quoff a few more beers. Upon entry I found the Bakelite Age finishing off their set. I had seen the Bakelite Age about a year ago at the Corner and back then we were nice, clean cut kids singing rock songs about physics and wine and they sort of... sucked. Now they have been transformed (as if from Ovid) into a straight up dirty, fucking rock and roll band. And though I don’t typically like these kinds of bands I was completely blown away. You should go see them and see if I was right or rather just drunk.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Review: Down Hlls Home - The Get Go's

The Brunswick Hotel is a nice place to have a drink. Random face-mask wall hangings, Abbey Road on the stereo, the Aladdin pinball adventure (watch out for the spinning lamp) and helpful barstaff who tarry not for you to finish the beer your drinking before pestering you to buy another.

Down Hills Home headlined last Saturday’s show. Their music was not particularly memorable and since I have yet to master the ability of taking down pertinent notes at a show this review will be brief. The only notes I left for myself to decipher now for this band was, Needs Frontman? I was referring to the insistence of my companions that the band was in dire needs of a stage presence. At the time I argued the point since music the quality of a bands music has nothing to do with the theatrical was it is presented. Looking back though I’m inclined to repent my view, the thing with Down Hills Home is that they were just boring. Their music was plain rock with country influences and although they had a lot of members and instruments they just had nothing going on. The fact that noone did anything while up on stage only compounded the tedium.

The Get Go’s who played in support were just terrible. It was the sort of music that you could play and sing along to in your room with your electric guitar and Pearl Jam tab sheet. The extent of my notes on this band was perhaps a little unfairly, they fucking suck. The two members of the Get Go’s just played bland rock whilst singing irreverently about their feelings or whatever mundane triviality.

The band Eon Automatic opened the nights show and were the reason I was there. The lovely Erica of One Foot Down the Rabbit Hole... renown is the bands singer. Consequently in a rare display of integrity I won’t be writing a review of Eon Automatic for reasons of a Conflict of Interest. You’ll all just have to go see them for yourselves.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Conway Savage - Maurice Frawley - The Small Knives

With just a guitar and organ the Small Knives contrived to pierce my heart with ethereal music but to then miserably gore it bloodily. Their first song was achingly beautiful, a single note held throughout on the organ while the melody subtly unfolded with acoustic guitar and harmonious singing. Bearing witness to the majesty of this piece was well worth the door fee. But to my utter dismay on the next song the small knives abandoned their organ opting instead for a dual guitar attack. For the rest of the set they played the insipid, uninspired chord and lyric based music so many bands play, never again matching the promise evident in their opening.

Conway Savage as you may know is one of Nick Cave’s Bad Seeds. He played piano with an acoustic guitarist and keyboardist. The guitarist was content to faithfully strum whatever chords the tune happened to be in while the keyboardist did her best to enrage me by playing every song with the same tremulous, loitering organ effect while also keeping the same chords. Conway Savage played his keyboard well as would be expected but consequently was rather boring as he played and sang songs about god or whatever. I’m not saying that Conway Savage doesn’t make good music, he does. In fact the music he was playing was actually very good but it just wasn’t particularly new or interesting. This fact was evident in the fact that the patrons of the Empress hotel tonight were predominantly middle aged. When I‘m old myself I will no doubt listen to comfortable, amiable music. But for now at least I prefer (yes I know I’m sounding pretentious and condescending) music to be new and challenging music.

Maurice Frawley and his Yard Hands are a straight up country band. After recovering my senses from the idiot depravity of their opening number I decided to give them one more chance. Aghast I listened as Maurice issued the opening acoustic strums and as the listless bass player started his impertinent plucking and the drummer began to keep an empty, steady rhythm. By the time the lap slide guitar began it’s inevitable cliched phrasings I was out the door.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

I'm Still Unsigned

Three weeks ago I heard about the annual PBS festival song. At the time I thought it would be a really good idea to enter and so finally achieve something worthy of justifying my existance. When I recalled this resolution with less than a week before the deadline I decided I actually would do it as opposed to everything else I've said I would do in the past, such as;

-travelling overseas
-learning German
-learning to read music
-writing a novel
-travelling the country
-starting a lawn bowls team
-trying at uni
-learning to play the piano
-travelling anywhere

So it was that I put everything on hold (I actually didn't have anything else to do) while I hurriedly concieved, wrote lyrics and music for and then recorded three new songs. They aren't particularly good or original, the lyrics and singing are woeful and the recording efforts were shoddy at best but still. For your approval my entry for the PBS Festival of Song;

Dagger - 4.8mb
Theres nothing I hate more than angsty love songs but I just couldn't help it, you just start rhyming words and next thing you know.

Flourish - 4mb
How not completely cliched, an anti-war song. This song's abit more upbeat and the music's not particuarly bad.

Forbear - 3.5mb
This one turned out to be another angsty love song written late on the night before the deadline. I had just reread my previous lyrics about Schrodinger's cat and found lines like;
Spare a thought for the cat,
who's wavefunction has collapsed.
Well that wasn't really, but this certainly was,
I'll give you my heart please keep it in a box,
and you can't ever ever measure it.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Gabriel's Day and Fourth Floor Collapse

By virtue of their mildly interesting names Gabriels Day and Fourth Floor Collapse were able to coerce me down to the Carlton Music Room one chilly evening. I will acknowledge at this point that I was probably in a bad music mood for music appreciation that night after having seen a Melbourne University production of Cabaret.

This production turned out to be not from the original play as I expected nor the excellent movie adaptation but instead I was subjected to an interpretation in the form of a Broadway musical. I had never seen a musical before and by the mercy of God I will never have to again. It was just fucking awful. Incidentally I later met up with several of the cast and crew of this travesty at a party. I can’t remember exactly what happened but I think I drunkenly managed to pretty much offend everybody involved in the project with my reproaches and the young assistant director to refuse to even talk to me or acquiesce to my advances.

But I digress. Anyway I’m really pleased that the Dan O’Connel Pub has opened up a live music venue and they generally have some respectable bands there but they certainly didn’t on this particular night. Gabriel’s Day and Fourth Floor Collapse I’ll henceforth refer to them as Fourth Day share the popular practice of writing songs just for the sake of it. The difference between Fourth Day and most songwriters though is that those common songwriters didn’t, that night anyway, have the nerve to take my money and time in return for their bagatelles. In my post on the Drones I talked about emotion in music, Fourth Day are an example of a band who have no instill no emotion unless perhaps apathy into their music and who just don’t understand or at least don’t practice the notion of writing song with any meaning. I mean it was just ridiculously mediocre.

Last Friday night on Rage I actually saw a Fourth Floor video and it was fucking awful. They band played soft rock, the singer sung in that horrible emo style and the video was sucky.

So after sitting through the whole of Gabriels Day and most of Fourth Floor Collapse I hightailed it out of there and straight on to the Old Bar wherein I finally found something to make good my night...

Clinkerfield and Khancoban

Though I arrived at the old bar as Clinkerfield were finishing their set I saw enough of them to justify and extrapolate a fairly favourable review. My memory’s a little hazy, as by this stage of the evening I was no doubt a little drunk so I can’t really give specific details. But you see, Clinkerfield are one of those uh… good… interesting… sort of bands. You can find some reviews of them on their site here, a profile of them on another site absurdly claims they are a wonkavating, manic-rock, alt-country conundrum, I think that wonkavating means crazy chocolaty fun, what do you think. So you’ll just have to take my word for it and go see them. See Khancoban too, those guys had a lot of guitar noise and I think one guy was playing the lap slide but with a table top covered in effects and they were doing a sort of alt-country thing with some post rock sounds I thought and uh... So yeah, terribly sorry.

If anyone wants to help me out actually knowing anything about these two bands then please comment, I would be most obliged.