Barely eighteen months since the release of one of 2009's dark delights, the epic Sun Gangs, Finn Andrews the New Zealand bred, England based leader of The Veils has released possibly one the highlights of 2011 with Troubles of the Brain. Over the course seven songs Finn and his band mates explore less grandiose and orchestral avenues than those on Sun Gangs favouring instead acoustic guitars, simpler arrangements and a lighter air in general. Chris Berkley tracked down Mr Andrews just before the release of Troubles of the Brain to talk about the differences in recording at home, going out on his own label and having a feverent fanbase to help that transition.
Wire and Gang of Four wrote the book for post-punk, kind of. Are they still innovators or merely curators with Red Barked Tree and Content?
Dynamite Steps the new album from Greg Dulli's The Twilight Singers is an extraordinarily cohesive album in every aspect: from production to the vocals, the masterful songwriting to the clever sequencing. Grunge guitar workouts give way to piano balladry, shoegaze meets folk and punchy rock. These are all anchored by that remarkable voice which ranges from ragged roar to velvety tenor to strained falsetto singing of love, libido, mortality and the devil. A couple of weeks before the release we spoke with Greg, a man who has seen more than his share of highs and lows in his twenty odd year career, clearly relaxed and affable, about all things dynamite and twilight, from the gutter to the (guest) stars.
Uh-oh, here comes trouble. Pris are a four piece from London featuring Cat on vocals, Agatha on guitar, Mary on bass and Sam on drums. Imagine Blondie with an attitude problem, Manics before the middle life spread and Kenickie without the big bones.
In complete contrast to a month ago when it was "precipitation nation" Brisbane’s fourth St. Jerome’s Laneway festival could've been subtitled "Boiling Brisvegas". Unlike many festivals Laneway 2011 had a remarkably consistent quality throughout the entire day, so regardless of the weather it was always destined to be a scorcher. We braved the extreme ultra violet index to report on Australia's Rat Vs Possum, Cloud Control and Cut Copy. While sampling UK's Foals and America's best of the best with Beach House, The Antlers, Warpaint, Blonde Redhead, Ariel Pink, Holy Fuck. Oh and LES SAVY FAV!.
Photos of Mr. Maps' launch for Wire Empire their debut (and so far only) album. Brisbane, February 12, 2011.
To say expectations were high for Foals' second album Total Life Forever would be stating the exceedingly obvious but from the grandeur and exquisite melancholy of “Spanish Sahara” to the frenetic indie-pop of “This Orient” to the dance funk of “Miami” it met and exceeded them with uncommon ease. Total Life Forever elevated Foals further from their peers and into the rare league of artists who maintain credibility with a more accessible sound and thus gaining a larger listening base whilst still remaining true to their experimental pop principles. We spoke to bassist Walter Gervers while the band was in Australia for the St. Jerome’s Laneway festivals and some recording on the sly.
Melbourne Modular boys gone global return for their third album with mixed results. Just what the hell is a Zonoscope anyway?
Caribou (aka Dan Snaith) is not an artist prone to repeating himself. His second album, 2007's Andorra took '60s psychedelic pop and merged it with complex rhythm patterns, while his LP from last year Swim saw Snaith heading into a denser electronic direction while still retaining a fair amount of pop smarts. Caribou with long time friend Kieran Hebden better known as Four Tet will soon be the Antipodes for a series of shows but late last year Chris Berkley caught up with Snaith whilst on the seemingly never ending tour for Swim where Dan took time out to talk about the art of Caribou live versus recording, his electric friends, how some people perceive Swim to be his dark album and how to win over the doom metal crowd.
For the third Sunset Sounds festival it rained, it poured, it pelted down. Water came down in sheets, hell it came down in slabs. Even those who came with waterproof clothing were completely soaked not just to the bone but to the very marrow. Sunset Sounds became Sunless Sounds, Soggy Sounds and Mudset Sounds. It brought out the worst in some people and the best in others. Still the show went on and so we report on Sleigh Bells, Cold War Kids, Ladyhawke, Pubic Enemy, The National and Interpol on day one. While for the second day we braved the wet again to deliver reports on The Soft Pack, Peaches, Junip, The Morning Benders, Washington and Paul Kelly.
New Years Eve’s are traditionally unplanned, last minute events, involving clubs or house parties especially in laissez-faire Brisbane. This year was different. An independent music festival at the Powerhouse, brazenly named No Years! offered a tempting program. 21 bands in total: 14 local, 5 interstate and 2 international acts, over eleven hours at lovely New Farm location. We cast our NYE net on Australia's Bleeding Knees Club, Parades, Love Connection, Jonathan Boulet, The John Steel Singers and Oh Ye Denver Birds. And see who ranks best out of America Neon Indian and Sweden Shout Out Louds.
Lion Island were first encounted playing a free show in Brisbane's King George Square. Their ability to fill a large stage with eight members and the cavernous square full of wondrous music bolstered my mood and had casual passerby's on their way to the train, stop and listen. When seen again three months later at The Hi-Fi Bar a liking for the band was affirmed and proved that Lion Island are one of the city's most ambitious and talented acts. Here are a band able to switch from solo singer-songwriter folk, then become a Brisbane Beirut by adding brass and violin to the acoustic guitar and drums to full out orchestral rock, as if Finn Andrews was fronting The National.
Jonneine Zapata's Cast the Demons Out came out of nowhere and managed to do what it said on the tin. And all indications were that live was where she excelled. Comparisons were bandied around from PJ Harvey and Patti Smith for there strong vocal ranges to Jim Morrison and Mick Jagger for their bold sexual stage presence. Apart from the smoldering mic stand gripping, her onstage persona also alternates between standing still with an ice cold stare, holding her arms aloft swaying like an eagle, and my favourite, lurching around the stage like a drunken marionette. Unsettling? Maybe but never boring.
Astute music fans have probably heard of the genre chillwave – a blend of 80s synths, psychedelic pop and liberal amounts of distortion – put upon acts like Memory Tapes, Toro Y Moi and Nite Jewel. The band most closely associated with that word is Neon Indian whose main man Alan Palomo, who also has a solo project VEGA, had a chat to Chris Berkley recently in London about the c-word, the beginnings of Psychic Chasms, the Yacht remix, his collaborations with Australian dance merchants Miami Horror, how he loves to make music that messes with people’s heads and the forthcoming Australian tour for the Texan group.
While on first glance Big Scary are neither that big or scary, listen to any of their EPs and the name starts to make sense. At the Mercy of the Elements released earlier this year gave us an idea of the versatility of this Australian band: The Led Zeppelin meets White Stripes heavy rock of "Hey Somebody" rubbed shoulders with epic piano driven pop "Falling Away" and the aptly named "Creature of the Night". Those tracks signposted a more a more mellow direction which was continued on the second of their four season EPs Winter. Currently touring with the impressive folk influenced Spring with Summer just around around the corner and a bunch of live shows in regional Australia we attempted to crack open the hardworking twosome.
From the first syllables sung by Jonneine Zapata on her debut album Cast the Demons Out, on an intro which segues into the simmering let's-get-it-on pop of "Good Looking", the LA siren had us hooked. Before the record made its way into the world Zapata was best known as a concert draw, gaining rave reviews in the US and catching the attention of Mark Lanegan and Jack White who had Zapata and band support Soulsavers and The Raconteurs respectively. We attempted to get some background ahead of her first Australian tour. While that was accomplished we also learnt that apart from an amazing voice and song writing chops Zapata has a wicked sense of humour.
Sometimes the best music is just under your nose, as in literally right under your nose on your desk hiding in a spindle of CDs. That’s what happened with Melbourne's Black Cab as after receiving a promo of their third album Call Signs mid last year it was put on said spindle and largely forgotten about until the video for the first single, the chugging rock epic “Church of Berlin” was seen, which quickly made me hunt out the promo disc and give it my full, rapt attention. With Calls Signs recently being given an European release we talked to Andrew and Steve about their visit to the sunshine state, the sexiness of “Sexy Polizei”, the allure of Germany as a source for lyrics, covering alternative classics and new recordings.
The Lights are on but the tunes aren't home on Interpol's disappointing fourth otherwise known as #4.
Originally known to us as one of the curators of the Hangar venue and lofly label in Brisbane we shouldn't have been surprised that Joel Edmondson had a musical project -- the collective have more fingers in pies than Georgie Porgie after all. What we weren't expecting, seeing as his label mates lean more towards the electronic and experimental side of the musical spectrum, was the polished pop and rock awaiting us on his MySpace page. We fired off our standard 15 questions to Mr Edmondson and his swift response proved wry and illuminating, much like his songwriting.
In the cockney rhyming slang lexicon there really should be an entry marked "Gemma Ray" that translates to "The Hard Way" for the sultry Essex singer's career is one filled with false starts, battles with illness and sheer bloody mindedness. Barely finished from touring her last album Ray has just released an album of covers It's a Shame About Ray which draws its song pool from the likes of Buddy Holly, Lee Hazelwood, Etta Fitzgerald, Sonic Youth, Mudhoney, Gallon Drunk and The Gun Club. Webcuts catches up with the brunette with the beehive during a tour in South Africa to talk knives, the new album, Rosemary's Baby, illness affecting songwriting and the recording of new material.
A Brisbane bounty with trippy post-rockers The Hazards of Swimming Naked joined by Lofly math-rock legends Mr. Maps, plus the baroque charms of Lion Island and electronic wunderkind Hunz.
Originally they were The Muslims but now they have a less volatile name, The Soft Pack, and a more polished repertoire as heard on their self titled debut. Touring that album in Australia they spent some quality time with Static's Chris Berkley who got to the beginnings of how the band formed, that name change, the San Diego and LA rock scenes, surfing, the prestigious honour of being covered by Nada Surf and the possibility of covering some Australian indie classics.
A few nights before this Pixies warm up concert for Splendour in the Grass, I had a vivid dream. In it I was the tour manager or press officer for the band and they were being put up in a luxury hotel with a huge swimming pool which they were swanning around in and (in)famously not getting along and refusing to do the show. It ended with me giving them a “look all the great rock’n’roll bands are dysfunctional, but when you’re on stage for that hour and a half you come together, that's when you work, that's when you function!” speech. And then I drove them to the Zoo in a black hummer.
The cross overs. Every year has them; bands that get touched by the hand of hype and go from being blogged about to actually selling significant quantities of records/MP3s along with world wide tour schedules and high billed festival slots. This year one of those bands is Brooklyn’s The Drums who have certainly enjoyed a lot of column pixels and radio play on the strength of their back to basics c86 indie-pop as imagined by Phil Spector self titled debut album and its omnipresent lead single “Let’s Go Surfing”. Static’s Chris Berkley has a drink with three quarters of the band for a lesson in how to avoid being drowned by the waves of success.
It took eleven years, three albums and a European tour for Melbourne space rockers Black Cab to broach Brisbane but they did and yes, it was worth the wait. Even the prospect of a half empty venue, an OCD stricken punter and the one colour Hi-Fi lights were not enough to dissuade Black Cab in performing anything less than a mesmerising set of original material and two stunning encores that paid homage to the whole space/drone/shoegaze rock genre. Able support was provided by Brisbane alt.rock kings Grand Atlantic.
During their recent visit to Australia for Splendour in the Grass we caught up with LCD Soundsystem's main man James Murphy who gave us reason to put away the hankies for LCD's much reported demise - "It’s not necessarily the last record. I would make another record. It’s more the end of this part – three records that go together, an arc. We became a bigger band than I ever expected. Something needs to stop, for me, for us all to be happy." He also waxes lyrical about making the record in the LA of his imagination, growing up and wanting kids, his Greenburg soundtrack experience and his many and varied future projects.
The new Stars album The Five Ghosts is a focused and streamlined record that in some ways harks back to their synth-pop roots of their first album, albeit being much darker in tone and theme. While Stars' diminutive front-man Torquil Campbell, and its glamorous front-woman Amy Millan, may get the most of the star light we recently had words with the quiet achiever of the band, Evan Cranley. Evan reveals to us details about the process and direction that the new album took, the decision behind the Séance EP, his jack of all trades role in the band, the novel approach to touring the new songs and how to create a fantastic remix.
Critic proof Canadian indie-poppers release their fifth disc of tunes but like its subject matter we find it lacks substance.
A Tale of Two Cities? Not bloody likely. While both appear on the forthcoming Laneway bill Cloud Control and Rat vs Possum are worlds apart and aren't harbingers of any Sydney or Melbourne scene. Although there are groups of like-minded musical acts in all Australian cities and towns they're is no discernible Sydney sound or Melbourne sound. Cloud Control's indie-folk rubs shoulders with Parades' and Jonathan Boulet's dense polyglot pop while Rat vs Possum's tribal skewed pop sounds share the same general geography as Love Connection's murky shoegaze and Super Wild Horses girl fronted garage. It's not where you come from, it's where you're at.
I'd heard murmurings of a Melbourne band who subscribed to the "let's give them a real show" theory of concert performance - glitter, paint bombs and bubble wrap - along with a huge wall of chanting sound. When they visited Brisbane's Hangar I poked my head in but the place was so rammed I couldn't
With their fourth album My Maudlin Career Glasgow's Camera Obscura shifted further away from their indie pop origins to create their own take on Bacharachian orchestral pop and '60s soul contrasted against sparse country melancholy. Keyboardist and backing vocalist Carey Lander talks about joining the band, meeting Lloyd Cole, the orchestral and country elements in their sound and how they came to cover the Boss.
We hunt down Ed Droste from Brooklyn's Grizzly Bear and get our claws into their move from a studio to live band, how they keep songs fresh, and how they came to record with Yacht rock legend Michael McDonald: "Michael McDonald is one of the coolest Yacht rockers around. We let him know we were fans and he ended up coming to a show and we really liked him and approached him with the idea and he was totally excited to do it."
We trap the loudest band the land - A Place to Bury Strangers - in the Static studios to talk the good talk about their beginnings, effects pedals and not being labeled shoegaze, but are disappointed to learn that they aren't in fact the loudest band from New York -- "Jono: It was Time Out New York, they came to our rehearsal studio and had a decibel meter while we were rehearsing, but then they went to Music Hall of Williamsburg, which is this huge 500-capacity venue and then they recorded Black Dice and they were louder than us."
We chew the fat with The Horrors on their recent Australian tour about last year's remarkable second album Primary Colours, and their thoughts on cover versions: "I think it’s a funny idea that this is a conversation you’re more likely to have now than at any other time in the history of rock ’n’ roll, considering most bands really started playing cover versions, being The Beatles or The Stones or even the Sex Pistols. It was something that was just kind of part and parcel of being in a group and part of a live repertoire."
Thomas Mars talks about the evolution of Phoenix, including their stint as a covers band, the seemingly infinite number of Phoenix remixes, the Kitsuné Tabloid compilation and Lord Byron.
The friendly folks from indie-dance sensations Friendly Fires stroll into Static's studio to talk the good talk about their new single "Kiss of Life", the Mercury music prize and more -- "It’s good to kind of feed off the energy of the crowd: suck them like vampires."
Paul Banks discovers that the best path to seduction lies in reduction on his first solo outing as the mysterious Julian Plenti.
Help the aged. The king of Britpop is back with his second solo effort, which sees a surprising teaming up with Steve "king of rawk" Albini.
Deerhunter's willowy singer-guitarist and stand-up comic in the making Bradford Cox entered the 2Ser studios to trade words with Static's Chris Berkley about all things in the Deerhunter-verse.
Murray from The Dears lays it all out - "I didn’t sign up for any of this shit. I just write songs and try to work with people to facilitate those songs and get them out to people to hear them."
Second Splendour line up in full and interview with Splendour promoter Jess Ducrou about the tremendous success of the festival, the process for picking the line-up and this year's bands, future expansion of the site and the improvements in ticketing technology.
The Blue Depths which focussed on ambient old school synths and majestic, dreamy mood-scapes yielded great dividends resulting in Odawas' most cohesive album to date. We recently spoke to Michael Tapscott about the beautiful depths of The Blue Depths, the Odawa live experience including SXSW, soundtracks and the mystery of the sea.
Webcuts delivers the verdict on Deerhunter's recent Australian assault with reviews of Brisbane, Sydney and also the secret Atlas Sound Sydney show. Let the hunting begin.
The always fruity Peaches is back with fourth album I Feel Cream which finds her giving the past a slip and whipping it real good.
As predicted Metric have blown up, but not blown away, big time. Fantasies reached number eight on the Canadian charts and crept into the Australian Top 40 and US Top 100, while incessant touring in Europe and North America has further strengthened their fan base. Webcuts emailed Metric guitarist and half of Metric's lead songwriting
Jackie McKeown enthusiastic front man with Glasgow's 1990s talks effortlessly about their sophomore effort Kicks which is being booted about, delving into the rigours of recording under Bernard Butler, sharing vocals duties, girlfriends and carrying the most inappropriate hand luggage in Germany. While most critics (including Webcuts' own) have criticised Kicks for merely providing more of
Okkervil River The Zoo, Brisbane 3rd May 2009 "No one wants to hear about your 97th tear" offers Will Sheff, he of red beard, bookish glasses and shaggy hair, during tonight's opening rhyme heavy "Plus Ones". Oh but we do. We want to hear ninety odd minutes of heartbreak and loss, songs about self
Chris Berkley from Static talks to the rather talented Veiled one about the new album, the band's love for The Wire and possible antipodean tours.
Canadian/American synth-rockers Metric return with their fourth (or third) album. Fantasies. Will it be yours though?