Archive for the ‘My Australia Obsession’ Category

Anthony Snape – Say So

As he prepares to embark on his US college tour, Anthony Snape is releasing a new single – Say So.

Who is Anthony Snape? Well, if you’re asking that then you clearly aren’t a long time reader of my blog. He is the artist behind two of my favourite albums: Disappearing Day and Acoustic Sunday. He also happens to be a rather lovely guy whose career I’ve been following since the days when Myspace ruled the world. Oh, and he’s Australian.

Currently abiding in Nashville, this new single shows a different side to Snape’s vocals. It’s more rock/pop than some of his previous releases with the electric guitar appearing to replace the acoustic guitar notes that I adored on Acoustic Sunday. A change in direction can be good though and Say So has certainly impressed me.

It’s one of those songs that is catchy without being grating. Yes, the chorus is repetitive – someone is clearly saying something – but it makes for enjoyable listening. And as for his use of metaphors? ‘Tear at my heart with a lie, with your fingernails of ice’. Fingernails of ice? I love this.

So whilst his ‘sound’ might be evolving into something new, his lyrics remain as strong as ever. And it’s because of his songwriting that I’ve always admired Snape’s music. He’s definitely worth a look into!

For tour dates and more information check out www.anthonysnape.com
Say So is released today (September 1st) on both UK and US iTunes

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NAMA: Maddy Hay

For my second installment of ‘New Australian Music Alert’, please allow me to introduce you to Maddy Hay. Hailing from Melbourne, this jazz singing lady has a pretty spectacular voice which is used to sooth the listener.

She wrote the above song, Smoke In The City, aged sixteen and at boarding school – which reminds me a lot of how Missy Higgins started out. In fact, there’s another parallel between the two in the fact that their early works both did well in competitions. Whilst Missy’s All For Believing won her Triple J Unearthed, Maddy’s song reached the final three of the John Lennon Songwriting Contest which she has described as being an “absolute thrill”. Bless her.

I could continue this essay about the similarities between the two (they both went travelling before launching music careers in Aus), I must point out that they are musically different. The jazz roots of Maddy give her an edgier sound that I can only imagine would be a treat to hear live.

So there you go, that was a short introduction to Maddy Hay. Find out more at www.maddyhay.com

Missy Higgins’ new song – If I’m Honest


If I’m honest… I love it already.

Gilli Moon – The Stillness

When I read Gilli Moon’s press release, I was immediately struck by the phrase ‘Australian Singer Songwriter’. Those three words epitomise my music taste, so why was I unaware of this artist who has just released her sixth album? She’s not the most mainstream artist, but nor are most of the artists who fill my iPod. To be honest, I don’t know why I wasn’t aware of her. But I am now, and that’s the important thing.

The Stillness plays home to fourteen tracks which each shine in their own way. Opening with Conversation With Me, Moon’s soft vocals demonstrate her natural ability that compliment the piano playing which accompanies her voice.

I Am is a stand out track for me. Whilst Moon has been compared to the likes of Alanis Morrisette (something I don’t disagree with) it’s Genevieve Little – another Aussie who I once randomly stumbled across who I am reminded of in this upbeat number. The chorus is full of optimism and charisma, emphasising the happiness behind the song.

The ‘haunting’ track of the album is Days In November. Background vocals and a repetitive chorus may often be seen as flaws in a song, yet here they serve to reinforce the strength of Moon’s vocals. It’s floaty without hitting the extreme airiness that Imogen Heap overwhelms me with.

Before I listened to Cos I Love You So, I assumed it would be cutesy pop. I was proven wrong with this track and its powerful chorus that some may say – OK, so my mum was listening to it and made a comment – sounds like Madonna. And that’s not a criticism by any means. Although, my minor critique would be the juxtaposition between Moon’s vocals and the, perhaps misplaced, rapping interlude by a male vocalist that just doesn’t seem to flow for me.

The Stillness is out now.
www.gillimoon.com

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

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

Anthony Snape – Acoustic Sunday

If you’re one of the few people who’ve actually read my review of Anthony Snape’s debut, you’ll already be aware of my adoration for him. And in particular, for Sunday. As such, I was delighted when Acoustic Sunday was released.

Beginning with the aforementioned track, it immediately makes my stomach feel anxious. The power that these songs have over me is incredible. They evoke emotion from you enveloping you in their narratives. Sunday sings of how quickly time passes by and how the bad times will soon pass.

“Tomorrow you’re older, so today you should smile” he sings as he encourages you to “break from the cycle” that we’ve all become trapped in. Tomorrow isn’t going to cause us any pain. Actually that’s a bit of a lie. Tomorrow is my last day of Sixth Form. It’s also the day of my first A Level exam. Both of these things could turn out to be painful. So maybe Snape has been a little overoptimistic, but we all need that optimism in our lives.

The album is made of three tracks from Disappearing Day and four new ones. Whilst I obviously adore Sunday, that doesn’t mean that Frequency and Little Piece Of Love aren’t amazing in their acoustic glory.

The first new song is Still Not Over You. As Snape holds the long notes, he manages to show deep emotions without even saying a word. His songs carry so much emotion that they can lead you to get so caught up in his emotions that your own feelings go into some sort of overhaul and you’re left questioning everything and anything. If you’re emotionally vulnerable then maybe this isn’t the best thing to listen to. But I guess it’s all about how you listen to it.

Pretty Girl has a title that makes me think of the kind of R&B tracks that top the charts. Fortunately this is nothing like that. Emotionally powerful (have I mentioned how emotional Snape’s music is?!), it makes you wonder who the pretty girl is. And how you wish you were her.  But then you realise you’re not her and how nobody thinks of you as being like her and so you take a few minutes to wallow in self-pity.

Upon exiting the self-pitying stage, you can listen to the stunning Frozen Blues. The piano carries the lyrics along beautifully. It’s a love song full of metaphors (and you know how much I love a good metaphor!) that balances the happy and the sad to produce something perfect for singing along to loudly as you drive, forgetting that your windows are wound down.  And yes, I may be speaking from personal experience here.

I’ve saved my favourite of the newer tracks until last. I once listened to Can’t Stop The Rain on repeat for an hour. It’s incredible. “No matter how the world might change. You still can’t stop the rain”. This is a man whose words speak volumes. He’s optimistically realistic. Or maybe realistically optimistic. Whichever way round, this song is something special.

In fact, this album is something special. It’s oozing with emotion in it’s rawest form. If I had a hundredth of the songwriting talents Snape has I would think of myself as incredibly fortunate.

www.anthonysnape.com

Sia – Some People Have Real Problems

It has taken me a while to get into Sia. As an Australian female singer/songwriter with a bit more media coverage than most of my favourites, you’d have thought I’d have taken a listen a lot sooner. But I didn’t. It was only when I was prompted on Twitter to download Some People Have Real Problems that I gave her a chance to shine.

With album artwork echoing everything that is beautifully awkward about the Paint application, I was expecting something a bit quirky. And yes, having seen some of her videos on YouTube, they are a little bit different to the usual drones of miming and choreography that populates our charts. (See this video for her new single Clap Your Hands to find this out for yourself!)

Little Black Sandals has a catchy hook in the chorus. It’s floaty, without being too floaty. It’s more Joss Stone than Imogen Heap in floatiness, which I regard as a positive. Her voice is soulful and full of emotion which adds to the strength of the songs.

I don’t like lentils, but that hasn’t stopped my appreciation of Lentil. In particular the rhythm that accompanies the lyrics which helps to keep the song flowing for the entirety of it’s duration.

Day Too Soon is possibly my favourite song on the album. Her voice reminds me of Gabrielle with it’s huskiness at times. The narrative tells the classic “I’ve been waiting all my life” story before meeting that special one “not a day too soon”. It might be clichéd but it’s well structured to emote these feelings beautifully.

Upon reading the lyrics to You Have Been Loved they carry a lot of meaning. Perhaps they’re too dragged out in the song itself, but the craftsmanship lyrically is impressive. Simple metaphors are used to construct the story of an ending relationship.

Naming a song The Girl You Lost to Cocaine immediately has an impact upon the listener. It’s a bit ‘jazz meets pop meets non-shouty-but-powerful-singing’. Combining these aspects works well and produces a song that I can imagine could’ve been radio friendly were it not for the ten seconds or so instrumental in the middle in which you’re left to reflect on the song’s title.

The beginning of Academia screams Regina Spektor to me. But then things suddenly change and the quickly spoken words become haunting slow lyrics for the chorus. The contrast achieves something intriguing and ultimately rather pleasant. Oh, and she sings “If I am a number I am infinity plus one” – despite the lack of rationality in this statement I admire the use of ‘infinity’ in any context that doesn’t relate to Buzz Lightyear.

The lullaby-esque I Go to Sleep is a bit too tiring for my liking and Playground takes a while to get into, but Death by Chocolate is far superior. The verses introduce different ideas of ‘Death by…’ situations that are all rather poignant in making a point.

“Death by anger this is true
Just let him go he can’t hurt you
Oh little girl this is such a cruel, cruel world
this is the first, of a million broken hearts”

There’s something about Soon We’ll Be Found that reminds me of Paloma Faith. Electric Bird has background sounds of, unsurprisingly, birds. And Beautiful Calm Driving is, well it’s beautiful and calm.

It’s in Lullaby where the slower pace really shows off the softer vocals that Sia has to offer. Occasionally there’s the odd word that I found inaudible, but that’s what the huskiness of the vocals does. And I quite like it.

Ending with the upbeat Buttons, the album is full of variety. Sia has a great vocal range that suits several different types of songs. I’m glad I was advised to look into Sia; I shall now continue to spread the Sia love by suggesting that you do the same. Check her out. And then send any other recommendations in my direction!

Missy Higgins – The Sound Of White

The Sound Of White was the first Missy Higgins album to ever grace my ears. It also happened to be her debut album. Despite the title, the sounds that it produced upon my first listen were not screechy and painful; they were something of beauty.

As you listen you discover the perfect balance of heartfelt slow songs with a few upbeat numbers to mix it up. All For Believing was the first mainstream song Missy ever wrote. She wrote it when she was younger than me which makes my achievements in life seem somewhat pathetic. It’s a slow piano track, with heavy lyrics full of metaphor.

I have two versions of Don’t Ever. Whilst I enjoy the album version, it’s the live version which I find particularly impressive. The lyrics are so homely and are sung with such passion that you become enveloped in the song. She describes this perfect neighbourhood in the verses that I think we all can aspire to live in. A neighbourhood where “The butcher Mr Tims will give us discounts when he can”. A neighbourhood where you make friends with the milkman. A neighbourhood that reminds me of a less traumatic Erinsborough!

Scar is one of the few happy songs on the album. Happy probably isn’t really the right word to describe it. It’s got a quick tempo and if you were to gloss over the lyrics you’d probably think it was a ‘happy’ track. But upon a closer listen, you can hear that the lyrics are about not fitting in. Using the clever metaphor of “a triangle trying to squeeze through a circle”, it’s been widely assumed that the song is about Missy’s bisexuality although that is not what Missy wants the focus to be on. It’s a catchy song that did well in the Australian Charts because of it’s great melody.

There’s something about Ten Days that I adore. It’s perfectly paced and the lyrics are typical of Missy’s earlier style without being too depressing. A stereotypical love song it is not, but it’s a Missy love song. And that’s why I love it.

I haven’t listened to Nightminds in a while, which is a shame because I’ve just rediscovered how beautiful it is. Missy’s music is not for you if you want happy-go-lucky pop. It’s cleverly crafted to evoke emotions. Each lyric has clearly been thought through to portray deep emotions and as such can often be misinterpreted as depressing. I have never found Missy’s music to be depressing. Sure, the lyrics can be deep, heavy and sad, but they tell a story. She never writes to depress, she writes with a narrative to pull at your heartstrings so that you empathise with the story that’s being told.

Casualty has a sound that could almost be described as ‘jazzy’. Not jazzy as in ‘Jazz Hands’ or ‘All that Jazz’, but the type of Jazz that I’d imagine to be played in a small smoky jazz club on the outskirts of a large city. Having never been to a jazz club, I cannot state that this is a fact; it’s just how I like to interpret the genre. Anyway, it’s a different song to the rest of the album that matches the powerful notes with some strong vocals.

I love Unbroken. It’s not on all versions of the album. It wasn’t on my CD version so I had to download it when it finally appeared on UK iTunes. The lyrics sing of pregnancy and divorce in the most amazing metaphors; “Two line blue line tragedy” seems to sum up an unwanted pregnancy pretty vividly.

Careful piano playing and slowly sung lyrics are combined to create Any Day Now. Posing rhetorical questions (“What if what we see is all we’ve got?”), Missy knows how to make her listeners think. The verses tell a story very well with the chorus referring back to the questions that would be floating around the character in the song’s mind.

Now for the two songs on the album that I’ll admit could be described as ‘dark’. Katie and The River both appear to sing of young girls who live tough lives. In the latter it sounds as though the character has lived a tough life and took it upon herself to end it. “Somebody’s bed will never be warm again. The river will keep this friend” – It’s not music suited to radio, but both songs are incredibly dramatic and thought provoking. As opposed to literal lyrics, Missy uses metaphors (you may have realised how much I love metaphorical use of language) to describe these situations.

The opening lines in The Special Two set the tone for the rest of the song. It’s apparently a song about Missy and her sister who’d had an argument which has been embellished for the sake of the lyrics. I absolutely adore a question that is posed and answered in a verse of this song. “Is it better to tell and hurt? Or lie to save their face? I guess the answer is don’t do it in the first place.” So true. And yet it rhymes so that it fits beautifully into the song’s rhythm. How on earth Missy manages to make so much sense whilst working of the crafting of a song astounds me. She is one talented girl.

This Is How It Goes has a really lovely beat. It’s faster pace than the majority songs on the album and shines particularly strongly in the chorus. Combining the first and second person, Missy allows the listener to interpret the relationship being sung about in their own way, perhaps even comparing it to their own relationships. Oh, and I have to mention the la-di-da-da’s. They’re rather cool.

The title track was written after the death of Missy’s cousin. The Sound Of White tells of the void left after he passed and how Missy was, one day, sat in a chapel where she is “sure I felt your fingers through my hair”. The song is full of memories that must’ve made the song difficult to write but come across perfectly.

Ending with They Weren’t There, the album doesn’t disappoint at any point. Another piano based song, Missy’s vocal shines throughout. She never feels the need to use any fancy editing tricks to hide her voice. Her voice is so strong that it can be accompanied by the simplest instrument playing to create something truly powerful.

I love this album. Had it never been in the car that we borrowed to drive around Sydney in 2005 I may never have discovered Missy Higgins. And that would’ve been a bit of a tragedy.