The Church Factory Theatre, Sydney 6th December 2012 The most remarkable thing about The Church, and there are many remarkable things about this enduring Australia band, is how better they get with age. Memories seep past of watching them just down the road, in what seemed for all intent and purpose their final show with guitarist
Chromatics Heaven, London November 6, 2012 On a night when everyone is locked in an US election day trance, American synth-noir act Chromatics were the alternative for those choosing pop over politics. As a band who've existed in various forms since 2001, their recent mainstream crossover was aided by the success of the film "Drive"
Savages Electrowerkz, London October 11, 2012 Does anyone remember the post-punk explosion of 2005 when every second band seemed to be cribbing off each other's influences sheets, and labels with derivative names like Angular and Artrocker appeared, encouraging this rising monochrome wave? It was probably the first serious resurgence of post-punk since the '80s, but
Beth Jeans Houghton & The Hooves of Destiny Kings College, London September 26, 2012 A little face paint and a rummage through the fancy dress chest has the potential to turn even the dreariest of live performances into something oddly comical and surreal, yet this is something Beth Jeans Houghton and her Hooves of Destiny
HTRK The Garage, London October 24, 2011 HTRK have always been a difficult band to love. Once you got used to their narco-minimalism and faceless anonymity that pervaded their artwork, you realised they weren't a band seeking attention, merely like-minded souls to tumble down their rabbit hole. They weren't looking for you, you were looking
On the surface, it’s a normal, sold-out show on a Friday night just north of downtown Cleveland. The fans stretch around the corner from the front door; ticket holders excited for the They Might Be Giants concert they’re about to see, and those without tickets hoping to catch a break when they get to the box office. But this is not a normal show, and this is not a normal audience. These are the geeks. The nerds. Die hard rock fans of a different shade of crazy, waiting for their musical heroes to serenade them with catchy pop songs tinged with dark humor and insightful counter-culture references.
Having changed careers mid-stream from a piano-based singer-songwriter with a touch of the Regina Spectors to a Nico-esque bleach-blonde gothic siren, in Austra Katie Stelmanis has found the form to match the function. With a handful of impressive singles released either side of their Kate Bush meets Nine Inch Nails debut album Feel It Break, Stelmanis may have found her creative niche but she still has much to prove. On record, Austra cloak themselves in a throbbing monochrome blanket, but on stage their live show is more telling, more vibrant and commanding, as Stelmanis, flanked by a pair of interpretive dancers/backing vocalists, add any absent colour.
It’s a little known piece of Webcuts folklore that Noah And The Whale once played in my living room. Gladly, it was before my time, otherwise a compulsion to head downstairs and have words would‘ve been hard to resist. A sell-out show at the Camden Roundhouse is not to be sneered at, but if commercial success or the ability to fill a room is the barometer in which all great music is measured, we’re on (and have been for decades) very shaky ground, and when superlative-inducing American folk-rock act Okkervil River are playing across town, clearly in the wrong place.
Why hello, Wendy James. It’s been a while. Almost 20 years since I saw Transvision Vamp play at the Hordern Pavilion in Sydney. A mostly unremarkable show except for the amount of intimidating drunks in attendance and the fact they played their current ‘hit‘ twice. Australia loved Transvision Vamp, almost in the same way it loved Blondie, decades before. Stick a blonde wig on a mop, put it in front of a bunch of guys in leather jackets and you're set. Transvision Vamp at that time were in their career descent with Little Magnets Versus The Bubble of Babble (my head still shudders at the idiocy of this title) and this was their last roll of the dice.
It's easy to love Ramona, even though everything about them is so flawless and en pointe, unheard for a scruffy bunch of Brighton by-way-of-New-York rockers. Picks in hand, they transform a handful of chords into polished punk perfection, fronted by the coquettish bleach-blonde tomboy Karen Anne, a second generation Edie and Debbie who knows how to hang from a mic stand like she was hanging from your shoulder. Absent from the stage this year so far, they cycle through their set in a brisk half hour, including encore, and you're crying out for a flubbed note, an unrehearsed run through a song they just wrote in the van, or general indifference to whether anybody is listening.
In a long black leather jacket and hoodie and stacked heels, Cold Cave's Wes Eisold looks like any other kid you see in Camden on a Friday night, except that he's not and it isn't and before he even opens his mouth, you're thinking "wow, that leather jacket really is the shit" and it is. It's also a special day for 80's synth-obsessives Cold Cave, as Eisold curtly informs the assembled at Rough Trade Records - "Welcome to our album birthing day". Their second album, the strangely positive sounding Cherish The Light Years showing a marked change from the same Cold Cave that played London back in May 2010.
With each successive show played in London growing in size from venue to venue, it’s a clear indication of the steady rise of this beloved Atlanta four-piece, and with Shepherd’s Bush Empire being sold out, it's their largest capacity UK headline show to date. For the ardent, precious fan, Deerhunter aren't your band anymore. The era of slipping into town for a small club tour is over, but from the staid, somewhat bemused crowd, Deerhunter's roaming psychedelic-shoegaze and mutant folk-pop are still an acquired taste, one that’s seemingly unlikely to assail the upper reaches of the charts like label-mates, The National.
There really is something enthralling about watching a band not just perform music but energetically project themselves into it. It's akin to standing against a gale who's presence is to overpower you and anything in its way. That would in part, sum up the appeal of Exlovers -- they cut a forceful, harmony-fuelled rug. The other part is they're the most attractive bunch of tattooed scruffs that you'll ever encounter. Put all this in the context of their latest single "Blowing Kisses", a song that transcends simple indie guitar music and that gale hits like a perfumed fist that still makes you want to stand up and take more.
When you add up the years, you realise Ian Astbury and Billy Dully have been making music as The Cult for a long-ass time. Sitting in the rafters of the Hammersmith Apollo ("Hammersmith Odeon", Astbury demurs, referring to the venue's previous appellation), the debt paid to the excesses of rock n’ roll have more-or-less treated both kindly. Astbury, the once flower-child/wolf-child looks a little rough round the edges, but when you style yourself on Jim Morrisson and then suddenly become him, what can you expect. Duffy on the other hand, is ageless, looking more like David Beckham‘s older brother than a well-tooled guitar god.
This was to be the debut and sole performance of Outsider Music, Luke Haines' most successful solo album to date. An album of some notoriety in that it was individually recorded 50 times and released last September for £75 a throw. An artistic experiment and a gamble of sorts, it was an undeniable success for Haines, the old adage about fools and their money standing true -- all 50 volumes of Outsider Music disappearing quicker than anticipated. With each volume a unique item on its own, buyers have been reticent on sharing and as of yet, no copies have surfaced. So Haines - 1, Rich Fans - 1, Poor Fans - go eat a shit sandwich.
There’s been a noticeable shift slash longing backward glance in music trends towards all things 80’s. It seems that the product of that era now want to know everything about where they came from and the music that was made. For synth pop acts like Summer Camp and Twin Shadow, the 80’s are a nostalgia/inspirational goldmine, but with the rise of Zola Jesus, Salem, oOoOO, etc, it was inevitable that Goth music and its mutated electro/dark wave offspring would get discovered by the black clad suburban misfits of today. Enter, Austra from Toronto, Canada.
These are confusing times we live in. The past and the present have merged into one. Bands come back from the dead, sounding better than ever (The Primitives), artists who are clearly dead keep on making dreadful albums from beyond the grave (do we need name names?), and bands will play their best album in full and it becomes ‘an event’ (The Wedding Present). There are few albums in the history of music that deserve to be played in full (though tell that to Echo & The Bunnymen...), there's always at least one track (or more) of filler, or one completely misjudged stinker, but nostalgia has a price and it pays handsomely, so hey, on with the show!
Long before he cleared the air/dished the dirt (whichever way you look at it), on his band mates in his autobiography Black Postcards, it was widely known there would never be a proper Galaxie 500 reunion. In the intervening years since their disbandment in 1991, both Dean Wareham and the unit known as Damon and Naomi have gone their separate musical ways to moderate degrees of success. With Wareham’s post G500 outfit Luna winding up in 2005, he’d now put to pasture two bands presumably allowing him time to reflect on past glories with a renewed desire to not let that youth go to waste.
You know you've had a good day when you wake up in a resort in Palm Springs and end up almost 24 hours later face down, literally face down, in a plate of tacos in downtown LA, head throbbing and ears ringing. There’s no way to rationalise it, nor the fact that between such decadent highs and lows, Webcuts was in attendance to witness the second night of Arcade Fire’s two night stand at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. On a night where the streets (well, one street) were filled with yellow NYC cabs and fake snow, Arcade Fire required no illusory set-dressing to impress Tinseltown.
Blake, McGinley & Love doesn’t have the same ring as Crosby, Stills & Nash, but there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be held in the same breath or as widely known. These three Scotsman and the outfit they've steered for the last 20+ years have consistently made albums that rich in harmonies and heart-on-sleeve emotions. If Teenage Fanclub had a spiritual home, it would be a tie between Nashville or Los Angeles, or perhaps started in Los Angeles and ended up in Nashville (as found on their most recent album Shadows).
On an odd rainy night in downtown Hollywood, weather befit more for their homeland than ours, Belle and Sebastian, Glaswegian art school rockers of yore, played to a sold out crowd of mostly thirty-somethings, brave enough to stand outside...in not just any ordinary venue. Instead, they stylishly bowed and plucked their instruments amongst the mausoleums and graves of some of Los Angeles’ elite. Adding to the macabre setting was the screening of Danny Boyle’s Trainspotting that preceded the show. Taking the stage, B&S lead singer Stuart Murdoch asked “Did you see me? I was in the bar scene!”.
California girls. Beach Boys praised them, Katy Perry revived them, but Los Angeles' Dum Dum Girls are the kind of girls that either Brian Wilson or Katy Perry had in mind. Palm trees, bikinis and suntans aren’t their domain, in fact, it would be surprising if daylight ever graced their chalk-white skin, looking as they do Josie and The Pussycats meets Tim Burton. Making a return visit to London in the newly opened (and un-divey) East London venue XOYO, Dum Dum Girls are Dee Dee. The all-girl band she's assembled acts as both an extension of her psyche, and a mirror to how she dresses.
It’s shows like this which give birth to the very nature of rock and roll. The hip-swaying sounds of a band as they rock back and forth, eyes closed, mouths pressed against the microphone with their feet marking the beat. It’s an undeniably sexual thing. This isn't news. It’s why they tried to ban Elvis in the 50’s. He turned young girls on, and it wasn’t so much the man, but the music, the stage, the sweat, the motion -- the rock and roll of it all. Wedged together in this barely ventilated Old Street basement, Los Angeles' Warpaint are presiding over something that had this been the 50's, would've gotten them banned too.
“You’re one of us, or you’re one of them“. Hamilton Leithauser, fist wrapped tight around the microphone as if he's trying to strangle it, is howling those words. The rest of The Walkmen, heads bowed (as they remain throughout most of the set) play complicit and provide the carnival-esque roar to ram Leithauser’s words home. It’s not so much a question or a suggestion but a statement. For better or for worse, for way back when the band were selling their own white label records at the Middle East in Boston in 2001, I’ve been one of "us".
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.
When does standing in the front row give you a direct line to god? Just because your idol, or current object of interest, is able to look you in the eye while they’re singing doesn’t mean that this is your opportunity for some face-to-face "let's get to know each other" time. Really, it doesn’t. And it’s rare that a concert is marred by one asshole that doesn't get the hint and won’t shut up, but shit does happen, and it happened to Kaki King and to the respectful crowd who had to endure this one "fan" and his relentless pursuit in establishing a "connection".
An hour in the company of The Big Pink is a sensory distorting experiment, and one that also questions your sexuality. It’s not a glam/gay thing, but there is a certain amount of homoeroticism about The Big Pink. The obvious sexual nature of the band name notwithstanding, and their record sleeves are all chicks and tits, but I think that’s to throw off the thinly veiled man-love shared between guitarist/vocalist Robbie Furze and bassist Milo Cordell.
As a teenage music fan, one of my prized possessions was a bootleg LP of Joy Division recorded on the same stage Bad Lieutenant are playing tonight, 30 years later. You think Bernard Sumner, guitarist in both bands, would mention the significance, or perhaps the memory has left him, like his own introduction to an Electronic song later in the set "This is called "Tighten Up", I've no fucking clue what it's about".
Stephen Malkmus has been ‘jicking’ for as long now as he was leading the charge in Pavement, releasing as many albums, yet never reaching the same heights. His solo career seemed to be in constant war of expectation over delivery. It's not Pavement. It's not a bunch of twenty-year-olds fighting their generation. But the louche stage prescence, that hazy cynical drawl, the greying hair framing the eyes in a semi-slacker curl, little has changed over the years.
Having given us one of the most lurid and arresting albums all year in Two Dancers, the Leeds-based Wild Beasts are let loose on London and give us such a performance that we (as they say) still got the taste dancin' on our tongues.
Two of Sydney's finest epic rock bands; one (Bridezilla) favouring a dark brand of folk and the other (Decoder Ring) post-rock electronica, strut their wares in Brisbane.
We give an in-depth rundown on 2009's Splendour in the Grass festival including the good - The Flaming Lips, Happy Mondays, Bloc Party, Doves, Sarah Blasko, Specials, You Am I, MGMT and the frankly rather appalling - Kram, Grinspoon.
The second splendid day of Splendour in the Grass 2009. We catch Kram, Jack Ladder, Bob Evans, The Gutter Twins, White Lies, The Doves, The Flaming Lips and er, Grinspoon.
Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks played to an audience brimming with the intoxicating scent of bearded, checked-shirt sporting aging rock dudes. Vanessa From Queens was missing but the gang was all there.
Not ones to throw angular shapes the boys here strive to find the right notes and the majority of the time they hit them.
Having caught them a few weeks earlier in London, it was like witnessing an entirely different band in the throes of conquering new territory and playing to new audiences.
I'd be surprised if the majority in attendance were familiar at all with Atlas Sound, but the crammed in masses of which Webcuts was one of the last to make the cut, were calling out requests that even Cox felt too obscure and unplayable.
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.
Watching Gareth Liddiard sing is like witnessing a drunk arguing with his own reflection. His posture is one of vexed irritation, his face is strained, the tendons on his neck bulge, his entire frame in spasm.
Last year the band reformed and did a one-off gig at Debaser in Stockholm. This year was Gothenburg's turn. For one night we all got to be teenagers again
Deerhunter Scala, London 18th May 2009 Palpable expectation, a sold out crowd, a critically received album, a loud northerner standing beside me naively exclaiming “I hope they play something off Turn It Up, Faggot" and an unlikely intro tape of Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run”. This is how it begins. Four boys from Atlanta, Georgia
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
Variety Playhouse Atlanta, GA 17th April 2009 The black-clad kids were out in force as the rolling The Faint/Ladytron sideshow pulled into Atlanta, Georgia, offloading what could be unkindly dubbed an ‘electroclash revival’ as both bands came into sharp focus during the height of this abortive musical fad and were adopted into it, yet never
The Sisters of Mercy The Forum, London 9th April 2009 For a band who have refused to release records since 1994 and now only operate as a touring act, The Sisters of Mercy must have the most dedicated fanbase on the planet. Goths, like Heavy Metal fans, mate for life with their chosen bands and
HTRK Lexington, London 9th March 2009 I first witnessed Melbourne/Berlin noise-makers HTRK in action at a time where any favourable impression would not come forthwith. This was in a dingy low ceilinged East London venue that should've had 'CONDEMNED BUILDING' written all over it. It was as if someone had kicked open the doors, installed
of Montreal The Zoo, Brisbane 4 March 2009 It's just before the encore that things start getting really weird: Two guys in animal masks start playing -- Mr Fish is on drums while Mr Lion roars into the microphone, garnering the requisite response from the crowd necessary in encore type situations -- leading me to
Detektivbyrån Lille Vega, Copenhagen 13 February 2009 The other day a friend of mine came by and flicked through my records and asked "Don't you have any music that is not depressing?". I replied "I do! Detektivbyrån". Few bands can put smile on my face like Detektivbyrån. So it was with great expectation I ventured
The Walkmen Scala, London 20th February 2009 While they are most certainly welcomed, perhaps even loved, as a band, The Walkmen are quickly becoming as anachronistic as their name. Coming onstage to an enthusiastic response, The Walkmen began the set as if they were trying on a new suit. They didn’t tear into it with
Primal Scream make their once a decade journey to Australia which we catch at the Tivoli in Brisbane along with Adelaide upstarts Wolf & Cub.
In the final Australian festival wrap up for the Summer we brave the laneways of Brisbane to report on No Age, Jay Reatard, The Hold Steady, Cut Off Your Hands, The Drones, Stereolab, Spiral Stairs, Augie March and more.