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?
A few years ago we celebrated my missus’ 30th birthday with a trip to New York City. We squeezed in a few well-planned gigs while there (The Black Keys and Crowes), plus a randomly selected show on the NYU campus which was headlined by this punk combo.
The show was a nice rush of energetic stagemanship. The frontman had us in the palm of his sweaty hands, while waves of guitars washed over us.
This album (a recent-ish gift from my bro – thanks) captures a lot of that experience, while also revealing a more nuanced musicality to what seemed a bit of a mess on stage.
This is clever, catchy US style postpunk (think Fugazi but without much fuzz). This would sit very well alongside Modest Mouse, Death Cab…, or dare I invoke the borderline godly, Pixies?
There are some very strong tracks on here, and a welcome consistency in quality (as opposed to my last couple of reviewed CDs). High and Unhinged has a well-balanced anthemic quality (for this genre):
(Sorry for the average banter of the first 2 mins of so there – Oh, I’m talking about the clip – this review is all sub-par!)
This album has got me excited enough to want to explore more in the back catalogue. And to hope that show at NYU will happen again when we visit next month!
File under: I suspect they are using ‘root’ in the US fashion
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?
One of the upsides of my high teaching preparation workload over the past few days is that I have been stuck listening to this album over and over again.
Normally I would have moved on, but instead I’ve been sucked deeper and deeper into a world I haven’t visited in almost a decade.
The Clouds were at the forefront of a wave of early nineties Australian indie rock outfits that embraced the sensibilities and sounds of US influences like Husker Du, The Pixies and Sonic Youth, and recrafted them into breezier, poppier output.
Alongside The Falling Joys, The Hummingbirds and (at the brasher end) Rat Cat, these guys got significant airplay and major label support (see Craig Mathieson’s The Sell-in for a great insight into these heady days).
The Clouds were always my favourite from this bunch. Dual female vocals, swirling guitars, wall-of-sound moments and luscious harmonies abound. The influences are there, especially in terms of those pounding Pixies rhythms and the occasional Kim Gordon-like talking vocals. But there is also a sophistication and boldness to it, with arty references (Hieronymus) and biting critiques of music execs (Souleater).
These guys should have been huge. This is a stand out album from its era. It’s a travesty that their works are so hard to find these days, but here’s a video taster:
File under: In for a penny…
Posted in C, Oz Artists
Tagged album, album review, CD review, Clouds, Husker Du, music, music review, Penny Century, Rat Cat, Sonic Youth, The Falling Joys, The Hummingbirds, The Pixies