As is par for the course around here of late, I have been tardy in declaring my top gigs from 2011 (to go with my 2010 and 2009 lists):
#5 Foo Fighters and Tenacious D at Sydney Football Stadium, December 8 – simply because stadium rock was such a novelty (and because we were undercover for the persistent rain). Grohl and co certainly can work a crowd!
#4 Michelle Shocked at Joe’s Pub, New York City, May 29 – captivating dinner and show set up with Michelle revisiting The Texas Campfire Tapes and showcasing some new stuff in a hilarious fashion:
#3 Bright Eyes, Wild Flag & Superchunk Radio City Music Hall, New York City, March 8 – A spectacular show with great supports.
#2 Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears at Bowery Ballroom, New York City, March 26 – So much fun, such a big surprise. Sweaty and groovy and all that…
#1 Bettye Lavette at Cafe Carlyle, New York City, May 25 – this is one of the gigs of my life time. In a fancy piano bar with this compelling chanteuse but metres away. Her voice and emotion was compelling.
So what were your favourite live outings?
As I did this time last year, here’s my list of favourite gigs from the year that was 2010:
#5 Emiliana Torrini at the Forum, Melbourne, January 3 – the jungle-drum beating Icelander made me smile all night…
#4 Justin Townes Earle at Corner Hotel, Melbourne, April 16 – he didn’t blow me away as much as on debut in 2009, but his bluegrassy brilliance was still a joy
#3 Dinosaur Jr followed by Pavement at Golden Plains Festival, Meredith Amphitheatre, March 6 – it was a miserable festival weatherwise, but this pairing of acts on the first night gladdened my heart (also of note was the performance of Nashville Pussy the following afternoon)
#2 The Pixies at Festival Hall, Melbourne, March 19 – Playing the Doolittle album in order with a great visual show (perhaps to hide their increasing girth). Again, not as exciting as seeing them for the first time a couple of years ago, but still a great night.
#1 Pavement & Gersey at Palace, Melbourne, March 12 – a dream pairing and both acts were in stand out form. Made me feel a good 15 years younger…
March was certainly a great music month, while the rest of the year was less impressive.
What were your favourite live outings?
In the blink of an eye, the letter G has been knocked off in our journey towards Z. This was the fastest letter so far, with 37 reviews in 36 days. See what happens when I finish teaching.
G was a revelation. It doesn’t get as much attention in my life as it should (the perils of being bottom shelf on that particular rack). The Top 10 shows a very strong Aussie flavour with 7/10 CDs local treasures.
- Gersey – “Hope Springs”
- Grandview – “Room 15”
- Golden Rough – “This Sad Paradise”
- The Guild League – “Private Transport”
- The Guild League – “Inner North”
- Gossip – “Music for Men”
- Gossip – “Standing in the Way of Control”
- Mary Gauthier – “Mercy Now”
- The Grates – “Gravity Won’t Get You High”
- Gersey – “Storms Dressed As Stars”
I’m gonna do a bit of housekeeping (i.e. a few reviews of recent purchases and albums I spotted on the vinyl and compilation shelves from A-F) before diving into H. I can tell you that this artist will be one of the early subjects in H-land (but not this song which is off an EP):
It’s easy to overlook the enormous changes to the music scene wrought by the ubiquity of the world wide intertubes.
Back in the mid 1990s (and even earlier than that!) a band from outside the core US-Brit market with a great sound, live chops etc still struggled to make any headway in said markets without winning over the finicky Brit music press, major label support (or catching the eye of the few influential indie moguls), lengthy roadtrips crisscrossing the US, relocating to either country and/or blind luck.
I raise this because I find it hard to believe a band like Sydney’s Glide would so easily slip through the cracks nowadays.
They prowl around this CD like the floppy haired Brit-pop lookalikes I remember from numerous adulatory street press stories from the time. They are in the same broad shoegazer genre that Gersey get lumped in, but this is more high energy and poppy stuff. If anything it resembles the sound of House of Love or even early Oasis.
This debut should have been lauded by NME and these guys should have ended up on the main stage at Glastonbury swaying their moptops and jangling their guitars.
File under: Soaring singing
As I mentioned in my earlier review, I saw Gersey playing support for Pavement a few months back.
They were in awe-inspiring form, belting out a rousing set of swirling, loud, consistent and epic songs.
What is odd is that the soundscapes I recall evoked so completely the vibe of their debut and not that of their later releases. It’s peculiar because there was a clear evolution in the band’s sound, yet they have chosen to revert back.
The shift between albums #1 and 2 continued with this their 3rd release. The vocals have been pushed forward even more, the guitars retreat:
The drum sound is where it loses a little of its oomph. It has got a little too predictable, and the cymbals work is overdone. Craig Jackson’s voice doesn’t do it for me as much as it has in the past. The mix really does him no favours, highlight the frailty of his range.
So, it would seem the lads were on to something in revisiting their finest aural moments as an umbrella approach. Shoegazing never sounded better.
File under: Only for foot fetishists
My adoration for Gersey’s debut has not lead to me playing their follow ups anywhere near as often.
It’s been sheer laziness on my part. Spending a day with this album today, I’m impressed, but not to the extent of yesterday’s aural feast.
The Gersey boys (teeheehee) bang out some impressive, confident tunes on here.
The sound is more understated, however. They embrace keys and strings on a number of the tracks. The vocals are more upfront in the mix and the lyrics are thus more prominent:
The waves of guitars and supporting rhythms which were so prominent on the debut are tamer (perhaps more like ripples). It renders this album more afternoonish, and thus less versatile. The lulls reduce the impact of the album somewhat, as momentum gets lost.
I know I’m being too negative on this album. Outside of its context, it is a gorgeous, consummate composition that’ll be playing a lot more often now.
File under: Swell
I went to a fantastic wine dinner on Friday hosted by the wise Rob Gibson of Gibson Wines.
He made the sagelike comment that sometimes a wine has no words to describe it. It just tastes great.
That’s my feeling about both this album and the experience of seeing Gersey play these songs live.
The shoegazer movement of the early 90s has been justifiably pilloried as tiresome and self-indulgent. While Gersey embrace the sound of this genre, they have never bored me (or their appreciative fanbase, who turned out in droves a couple of months back when these guys played a rare gig supporting Pavement).
This debut effort is a true classic. It is epic in its grandeur, yet intimate in its feel. It works beautifully as a late night, in bed listen, yet benefits from being played very, very loud also.
The songs soar as they build around overlaying guitar threads, heavy and steady rhythms and confident, understated, slightly plaintive vocals:
I have loved this album since the first day I spun it, and it envelopes me each and every time I throw it on. I crave hearing and seeing these guys again some day soon.
File under: Bound to impress
It has been almost a month since I reviewed an Aussie album, so it was a treat to hear that familiar accent today.
This was an early album from a relatively obscure but quite long-lived Antipodean outfit. I’m sure I picked this up at some sale, as I can’t remember ever seeing these guys live.
The band had a reputation for evocative soundscapes, in the vein of compatriots Sodastream. Thankfully these guys aren’t quite as soporific or difficult as the home-seltzer-honouring duo.
If anything, they are a little more ballsy – like Gersey or Gaslight Radio. It’s not exactly a laughfest nor could I see anyone doing anything beyond swaying to the tunes herein. But the album is a grower, with the soft-loud dynamic (driven by guitar and drum bursts) lodging itself in the psyche over an afternoon.
A dry, country property or inner-city verandah, a beer, a comfy chair and a day/sunset to contemplate (or, indeed, a blank mind welcoming of some illustrative lyrics) – all these ingredients would be complemented well with this disc.
File under: No need to panic, no harm here
I’m really enjoying my DeathCabFest.
This underlistened-to album in my collection (perhaps I have some subconscious aversion to the ugly cover and lame title) has been washing over me for a few hours now, and I am discovering more and more that I like about it.
I made the comparison to Aussie outfit Gersey yesterday. Now I realise that may be meaningless to many of you, but it’s exactly what I’m hearing. Delicate but dominant guitar lines with rousing rhythms permeate much of this work. Indeed Ben Gibbard’s vocals are within a ballpark of Craig Jackson’s.
There is a little more poppiness here though, and the song writing is more distinct and engaging.
A couple of tracks on here keep grabbing my attention. The critique of Los Angeles (Why You’d Want To Live Here) captures much of my thoughts on said burgh when visiting earlier this year.
Styrofoam Plates tells the tale of an awkward and affecting funeral in a manner (and at a pace) that belies the melancholy sentiment (but which does capture the anger).
These guys are very consistent and engaging. More please…
File under: Snaps worth some claps
How appropriate that on the day of a ballot in Australia, I should review an album with “voting” in the title. Unlike today’s outcome (a shift to the crazy Christian right), there is much to like about the CD in question.
I think I picked this album up on a whim, having heard good things about the band in question, but being unfamiliar with their sound. I liked it from the first listen, and still take a lot of joy from it. I struggle to explain why however.
DCFC are one of this bands that bridge the cerebral and the emotive. They build an effective wave of guitar that sweeps you through track after track, driven by a hypnotic rhythm (think the under-rated Aussie soundscapers Gersey).
Meanwhile, the songs are verbose, laden with very literate and imposing content and vocab. The vocals are similar to Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips, but without the overt showmanship.
I must admit, however, that this album has always tended to wash over me, rather than directly engage. I can happily loop it for hours on end, but still struggle to distinguish one track from the next. The Shins do a better job of nailing the pop version of this.
File under: Worth my preference vote
Posted in D
Tagged album, album review, CD review, Death Cab for Cutie, Flaming Lips, Gersey, music, music review, The Shins, Tony Abbott, We Have the Facts and We're Voting Yes