Archive for June, 2010|Monthly archive page

New Australian Music Alert: Goodnight Owl

This, my friends, is the new video for Melbournian band Goodnight Owl. Titled Maps and Compasses, it was filmed on the Mornington Peninsula near Melbourne. I once drove along there; we went to a huge maze inland. Anyway, that’s enough of my fading holiday memories. Enjoy the video!

The Lazy Gramophone and Matt Corby at The Old Queens Head

A last minute decision led to my attendance at The Old Queens Head on Sunday. A quiet pub in Islington, the atmosphere would be best described as sparsely intimate. I arrived just as a girl was finishing a talk about journalism and was a little disappointed I hadn’t arrived ten minutes earlier to hear the whole thing. Unknown to me, I’d stumbled into The Lazy Gramophone. Combining live music, talks, poetry and videos, I’m led to believe it’s a regular occurrence demonstrating the vibrancy and diversity of the community.

Highlights of the showcase included Mat Lloyd who performed poetry which had been animated into videos which had a huge impact. The first of the two videos, Blokes, was used as part of a charity campaign to raise awareness of suicide in young males, whilst the latter spoke of gang violence. My other favourite was “One eighth of Fleur De Lis”, Bleu Mae, and her thirteen year old guitarist. Opening with an Oasis cover then playing three of her own songs and Usher’s OMG she really showed off her vocal talents. And as for her guitarist? My sister was clearly envious of how cool he was and we’re planning to make our ten year old brother half as suave as he was.

The reason I’d come to this random pub, in a random borough of London, was to see former Australian Idol contestant Matt Corby. Likened to Bon Iver and about to embark on a national Australian tour with Mumford and Sons, I had high expectations. Vocally he definitely surpassed these. His soft vocals and guitar playing created haunting sounds that stunned the room into silence. Saying that, it wouldn’t have taken much to silence the crowd, the room at most housed twenty eight people including Matt himself plus the venue staff. Perhaps not the easiest crowd to play to, I felt that Matt looked a bit uncomfortable and hence he barely interacted with the audience.

Whilst his vocals shone, it must be said that his songs were his weakness. I know he’s a songwriter, but I’d have loved to have seen a cover thrown into his half hour set to see if he could perform something a bit more charismatic. My sister who I’d dragged along whispered to me “He’s like Mumford and Sons – Only not catchy” and I can’t really disagree. Letters was the highlight of the set as, for me, it was the only track that came into its own with a distinctive and memorable chorus. Ending with Kings, Queens, Beggars and Thieves I couldn’t help but feel that Matt had a lot more to offer. Maybe it was the venue and lack of crowd that was his downfall, but his stage presence did not match the high quality of his voice.

He’s playing at some big venues in Australia, including the Enmore in Sydney which is huge in comparison to the top room of a pub. I just hope that he bounces off that kind of crowd and lets himself go a bit. All in all, I’d like to end this on a positive note: His vocals were outstanding and you should definitely check him out for some chilled out tunes!

http://mattcorby.com.au/
http://www.matlloyd.com/
http://www.lazygramophone.com/

The Old Queens Head, Islington
Sunday 13th June

Amy Macdonald at The Hard Rock Café

This was to be my third time seeing Amy Macdonald. In fact, it was only in April when I last saw her, but last night’s gig was something different. The intimacy of The Hard Rock Café won the whole crowd over; There couldn’t have been more than one hundred people in the bar area.

Unlike at the Joshua Radin gig, I’d sensibly starved myself since my small lunch to make the most of the free food. Burgers, goujons and brownies were consumed throughout the evening immediately increasing the enjoyment of the evening!

To support Amy, the Icelandic artist Lára took to the tiny stage and performed six songs. Her mis-matched fashion sense defined her with multicoloured leggings and a lace necklace emphasising her look. Her first two songs didn’t overwhelm me with their lack of lyrics and reliance on ‘doo-da’ and ‘la’ to accompany the music. The set came into its own in the penultimate song Honey You’re Gay. With such a direct name, the chorus featured lines such as “You don’t have to kiss my lips/You don’t have to touch my tits” adding to the humour from the title. I’m not expecting her music to be storming the charts any time soon but her voice is good enough when it is matched with the more lyrical numbers.

Amy’s set list for the evening was half the length of her Shepherd’s Bush gig which still pleased me as I wasn’t expecting too much from a free Q The Music Club gig. As her and her four male band members opened with An Ordinary Life I remembered the quality of live performances Amy likes to deliver. Strong vocals and guitar playing on her part combine to create a real stage presence. From her first song she went straight into Love Love before she first spoke to the crowd.

She told us that this was her third gig at the Hard Rock; this somewhat surprised me as she stood there in front of merchandise from notably more famous acts such as The Beatles, Queen and The Who. Her previous appearance had seen her smashing a guitar outside and she joked that this was not something she hoped would be repeated this evening. Maybe she is more Rock’n’Roll than I first thought…

The next song was introduced to us as being her next single with a video that had been filmed only the day before. Unlike previous videos, Amy told us that they’d gone all out and used around fifteen actors and actresses so I am anticipating what the outcome will be. This particularly excites me as the song in question happens to be my favourite from A Curious Thing and is called This Pretty Face.

Her biggest hit, Mr Rock And Roll, suited the venue perfectly and had the crowd singing along. And  she then shushed the crowd with the Glaswegian slang “Wheesht” before her quieter song Troubled Soul.  Her Springsteen cover Born To Run went down really well in this particular venue with everyone joining as she sang the lyrics of the title.

Continuing with her two singles from her new album, Don’t Tell Me That It’s Over and Spark, Amy never once disappointed. Sure, I’d have loved to see an acoustic song thrown in, but her and her band delivered track after track.

Before No Roots, Amy told a similar story to the one she told at Shepherd’s Bush about how this album was named. Laughing at her Mum’s suggestions that had generally been thought up whilst watching Coronation Street, Amy eventually opted for the lyric from this song. I for one find it preferable to listening to an album called Ken Barlow!

Amy then told us that she would normally go away and wait for cheers before coming on and doing an encore, but in such a small venue we would be able to see everything and it would be a ‘bit shit’. So we clapped for her as she stood on stage breaking into This Is The Life. The title track of her debut, it’s a great to song to end on with the crowd lending their vocal skills in the chorus.

A great evening was had by all, particularly some of the people behind me who had certainly made the most of the free drinks. My friend and I hung around for a good hour after the show hoping that Amy would appear. Alas she did not. However nothing was going to put a downer on the evening and we left delighted at the performance we had seen.

Q The Music Club
The Hard Rock Café
June 9th 2010

Jack Johnson – To The Sea

Having enjoyed his debut album, I was excited to hear what Jack Johnson’s latest album To The Sea had to offer. Bought using a Play.com gift voucher, it came with the added perk of knowing I hadn’t had to fork out money to ascertain it.

The CD arrived with the most beautiful sleeve. A seascape painted with the bluest sky and a lyrics booklet stapled onto the cardboard was filled with images of different coloured woods. It screams of life’s simple pleasures and mimicked the acoustic, untouched nature of Johnson’s songs. Dedicated to Johnson’s father Jeff, I immediately got the impression that this is unadulterated Johnson. It’s him singing what he wants, how he wants. Which is good because that what I believe music should be about.

Upon listening through this album four times, I feel that I am now in a position to provide you with a one word summary of these thirteen tracks: samey. Now, before you take that as a negative review and put away your wallets that you have prised out ready to take on my words of wisdom, I must say that I do like the album. Johnson knows the songs that work for him. And he sticks to them. Whilst You And Your Heart kicks the album off with strength, the songs get less and less impactful until about three quarters of the way through where things pick up again with Red Wine, Mistakes, Mythology and Pictures of People Taking Pictures. It’s fair to say that after two listens, these were the only songs that I could sing the chorus to simply by looking at their titles.

Album title track To The Sea is a grower. I think I like it because it maintains the raw style of the CD with Johnson’s guitar playing shining through. Using a monosyllabic title, At Or With Me woos me in a linguistical sense plus I am a fan of the piano introduction which, for once, does evolve into something more exciting as the song progresses. The softer vocals that open Anything But The Truth are endearing but the song fails to pick up the pace and lacks the energy and enthusiasm that I like to find in the vocals.

If you like Jack Johnson’s style, then it’d be worthwhile investing in this album. I am happy to own this album; it is genuine easy listening and non-offensive. However it doesn’t quite enthuse me in the way in which I want it to. I am seeing it as an album that will grow on me though.

Bran Nue Dae Soundtrack

I loved Bran Nue Dae as a film. I told you that you should love it too. Why? Read this and find out.

Anyway, after returning home from the bright lights of London and the excitement of having my photo taken with Tim Minchin (with my eyes closed, naturally), I decided I needed to get myself a copy of the soundtrack. Months passed and the day, eventually, came when I received the package (courtesy of friends as an eighteenth present!) containing the music to my new favourite film.

Twenty one songs make up this album. Ranging from just under two minutes to a few songs approaching the five minute mark, the songs were written for the original stage show created by Jimmy Chi twenty years ago. In fact, the end of the album features tracks recorded by members of the 1979 cast.

Vocals are provided by the majority of the film’s lead characters, which comes as no surprise given that Dan Sultan, Jessica Mauboy and Missy Higgins all come from a singing background. Ernie Dingo has several solo songs and even Geoffrey Rush offers his vocals on one track.

Sultan’s soul sounding voice opens the album with title track Bran Nue Dae. It’s the first of many songs that will entice you to singalong to them. A bit of religion and culture typical of Broome residents at the time is offered with All The Way Jesus, before returning to the uptempo Seeds That You Might Sow.

The first of the two songs featuring my favourite artist, Missy Higgins, is her collaboration with Ernie Dingo in Feel Like Going Back Home. It’s a happy song full of optimism and hope which does wonders for you if you’re in a bad mood!

Light A Light lets Mauboy hit the high notes though isn’t one of my favourites on the album. It’s a slower paced track thrown in for the emotional and narrative value of it, so it’s not hugely uplifting. In contrast, Nothing I Would Rather Be is contractually obliged to force a smile out of you. “There’s nothing I would rather be than to be an aborigine” the whole cast sing in chorus. It’s a quality show tune that you can really envisage being performed both in a local theatre in the Australian bush, or on a professional West End stage.  

Whilst not every track is to my liking (I find Is You Mah Baby to be too harsh on my ears), there are plenty of quality songs to make this a worthwhile purchase if you’ve seen the film. The random addition of Rolf Harris’ Six White Boomers shows a unique take on a Christmas song which is sung in the expected Harris style with varying voices and percussion.

Afterglow is truly haunting and every time I listen to it, I am taken back to the swimming scene in the film where it is used. Sung by Missy Higgins, her voice compliments the tone perfectly.

Both Listen To The News and Stand By Your Man are great show tunes once more. They start off slower before building pace and power to add to the suspense and effect of the songs.

All in all, if you’ve seen (and enjoyed!) the film, it is definitely a great album to add to your collection. Without the knowledge of the film’s storyline, I’d advise against buying this album as you’d probably end up rather confused. I’m not saying don’t buy it. I’m saying watch the film first!

Track list:

1. Bran Nue Day — Dan Sultan
2. All The Way Jesus — Jessica Mauboy
3. Seeds That You Might Sow — Dan Sultan
4. Feel Like Going Back Home — Ernie Dingo, Missy Higgins
5. Light A Light — Jessica Mauboy, Brendon Boney
6. Nothing I Would Rather Be — Bran Nue Dae Cast
7. Nyul Nyul Girl — Dan Sultan
8. Broome Love Theme — Bran Nue Dae Gypsy Orchestra
9. Long Way Away From My Country — Ernie Dingo
10. Is You Mah Baby — Ernie Dingo
11. Six White Boomers — Rolf Harris
12. Zorba’s Dance (Chooky Dancers Remix) — David Bridie
13. Afterglow — Missy Higgins
14. Listen To The News — Ernie Dingo
15. Black Girl — Dan Sultan
16. Stand By Your Man — Jessica Mauboy
17. Nothing I Would Rather Be — Brendon Boney, Geoffrey Rush
18. Road Movie Medley — Bran Nue Dae Gypsy Orchestra
19. Child Of Glory — Bob Faggetter
20. Going Back Home — Stephen Pigram
21. Bran Nue Dae — Jimmy Chi