Mar 29, 2018

Angel Olsen @ Giant Dwarf

Sorry for the late review but here it is. Last Saturday night I saw the incomparable Angel Olsen at the Giant Dwarf Theatre in Redfern. A venue that was a first for me. It's pretty great, small and intimate and with great character. Ms Olsen is more than pretty great. She is very great. This show was the second show of back to back sold out nights. Unlike her last tour this show was sans band. Just Angel and her nearly forty year old Gibson electric. I don't know if it was deliberate but she didn't play anything from her last album, the superb 'My Woman'. Maybe she felt they are songs better suited with a full band. But not to matter it was a great show, with a lot of deep cuts from her burgeoning career. Ms Olsen has a very impressive voice, full of range and great emotional depth. Her brand of country tinged rock is wounded and sometimes stark. But contains an overflow of humanity. She was also very charming, sometimes breaking into giggles and always enjoying her glass of red wine. She did a mean Australian accent and gave forth stories of her youth and her experiences of life. It was a great crowd, one that was very engaged and respectful. Certainly befitting such a great talent.

Set List
Since You Broke My Heart (Everly Brothers cover)
Drunk and With Dreams
Some Things Cosmic
You Are Song
All Mirrors
Tiniest Seed
If It's Alive, It Will

White Fire

Mar 25, 2018

Camp Cope @ Metro Theatre

Fierce. Intelligent. Passionate. Forthright. Angry. Talented. These are all adjectives I think can easily describe the Melbourne three piece Camp Cope. Friday night was their biggest Sydney show yet. A sold out Metro Theatre crowd sang along loudly to every word with passion and sheer joy. This band has sure come a long way in a short period of time. Their recently released second album has met with great acclaim and rightly so. It's a personal, passionate album that is important and timely and connecting with many fans. And it rocks. So does the band live. Georgia is a vocalist who reaches deep down inside for every line of her songs and Kelly's bass lines are the rock each song is based upon. There has been a lot of discussion lately on inequality in the music scene. Some healthy, some far from it. I don't think it's a black and white issue. But there is certainly a lot of ground to make up and Camp Cope are fighting the good fight. And they are hugely talented!

Set List
Jet Fuel Can't Melt Steel Beams
How To Socialise & Make Friends
Keep Growing
The Face of God
Stove Lighter
UFO Lighter
Lost (Season One)
The Opener

Mar 17, 2018

Grizzly Bear @ Sydney Opera House

Fashion and hype can be a terrible thing. Especially in the music world. The thought that an artist can be 'past their time' because of current trends is a useless and irrelevant idea. Grizzly Bear could fall into this trap. Around a decade ago they were the darlings of the music world. 'Veckatimest' was luminescent and follow up 'Shields' glowed as well. But then the band stood aside for a while. Last year they returned with 'Painted Ruins' and generally speaking it was very well received but there were choruses of 'we've moved on'. Well I believe true quality lasts. And in years to come Grizzly Bear will be revered and others hyped up will be in the dustbins of history.

So it was with great excitement that they returned to the Sydney Opera House last Monday night. It was a stark reminder of their greatness. Their sublime musicianship. Their incomparable harmonies and melodies. All five musicians displaying craft and intelligence. 'Painted Ruins' was well shown with 'Three Rings' being a certain standout. But it was a well rounded evening with the band reaching back to 'Knife' and 'On a Neck, On a Spit' and also giving us well received classics such as 'Two Weeks' and 'Sleeping Ute'. It was a rapturous crowd bedazzled by the beauty unfolding before us. By the time they closed the night with the simply glorious 'Sun in Your Eyes' it was a very grateful audience indeed.

Set List
Four Cypresses
Losing All Sense
Yet Again
Fine for Now
Ready, Able
Sleeping Ute
Mourning Sound
Glass Hillside
Two Weeks
On a Neck, On a Spit
Three Rings
While You Wait for the Others

Sun in Your Eyes

Feb 25, 2018

The National @ Sydney Opera House Forecourt

I am always a little surprised and bewildered at the level The National have reached. Not that they are playing football stadiums but they are playing large venues and winning major awards (even a Grammy!). Their music is subtle and deep but also a little sombre and introspective so it's pleasing to me that they have reached a fairly sizable audience. Wednesday night was the first of two back to back sold out shows at the Sydney Opera House Forecourt. They played the same venue four years and whilst this show wasn't quite at that level it was naturally still a great night. A testament to the greatness that is The National.

In 2017 the band released their latest album in 'Sleep Well Beast' and whilst I really enjoyed it I thought it lacked the spark of their previous great work. Of course naturally they would play a fair chunk from the album, in fact they opened the night with four tunes from it. The one that received the greatest noise was 'The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness'. Later on 'Day I Die' would also go down a treat but it was older songs that were best received. Such as the euphoric 'Bloodbuzz Ohio' or the crowd rousing 'Conversation 16'. It was really exciting to see them reach down deep in their bag of tricks for old classics like 'Wasp Nest' and Secret Meeting'. By the time they finished up with 'Fake Empire' we were all totally in the hands of the band. Of course the encore was great although Matt Berninger's voice was getting a bit rough especially during the loudness that is 'Mr November'. When they finally closed with 'About Today' it was a satisfied crowd indeed.

Set List
Nobody Else Will Be There
The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness
Walk It Back
Guilty Party
Don't Swallow the Cap
Bloodbuzz Ohio
Squalor Victoria
I Need My Girl
This Is The Last Time
Wasp Nest
Secret Meeting
Conversation 16
I'll Still Destroy You
Born to Beg
Secret Meeting
Slow Show
Carin at the Liquor Store
Day I Die
Fake Empire

Mr. November
Terrible Love
About Today

Feb 8, 2018

The War on Drugs @ Enmore Theatre

The War on Drugs are a virtuoso display of the wizardry of guitars. Their music is enormous but also full of smaller details. Each song is multi layered and progresses to a point of breaking beauty. It's not really immediate music but it must have struck a chord as their audience keeps growing. I guess that must be the result if you keep releasing such excellent music. Their last two albums are just truly superb, the latest one even winning a Grammy for Best Rock Album. So they now reached the level where they can sell out the Enmore Theatre two nights in a row. I attended the first night on Tuesday night and it was a spectacular night. The only slight drawback being that the set was fully loaded with the last two albums. But of course that's still a pretty great thing considering how great those two albums are. There is the euphoric burst of 'Holding On', the blasting hold of 'Under the Pressure', the boldness and enormity of 'An Ocean in Between the Waves' and the sheer beauty of 'Strangest Thing'. And then so much more. For example the acoustic beauty of 'In Reverse'. And so on and so on. It's quite gratifying to see such music find such an ecstatic audience.

Set List
In Chains
An Ocean in Between the Waves
Strangest Thing
Nothing to Find
Knocked Down
Accidentally Like a Martyr (Warren Zevon cover)
Red Eyes
Thinking of a Place
Holding On
Under the Pressure
In Reverse

Eyes to the Wind

Feb 6, 2018

Sydney Laneway Festival 2018

Sydney's Laneway Festival on Sunday was once again an enjoyable experience packed with great music and a friendly vibe. The food vendors have really gone up a notch and the spacious grounds make for a relaxed and fun time. For the first time since 2012 it wasn't totally sold out. Probably because the line up lacked a huge headliner but the programme was packed with quality and variation. Something for everyone for sure. My highlight was (Sandy) Alex G (pictured above). Alex G from Philadelphia released one of my favourite albums of 2017 and it was great to see him live for the first time. His brand of melodic and off kilter rock is quite infectious. I will be very interested to see where his career takes him. I didn't stay for the greatness of The War on Drugs as I am seeing them Tuesday night at the Enmore Theatre. But I did Australia's very own Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever who were wonderful. Their cascading and rollicking guitars with big melodies made for a great way to spend Sunday afternoon. Highly recommended to see them live.

The biggest surprise of the day for me were London's Wolf Alice. I have listened to some of their music but it didn't really appeal to me. A little to basic and A to B. But live they were ferocious and hugely impressive. Great power and huge builds and crashes. Their drummer and guitarists were great but it was singer Ellie Rowsell who really stole the show. What a talent she is. They truly completed a great day for me.

Feb 4, 2018

Best Albums Of 2017

2017 marked the return of Canada and one band in particular. That band was Wolf Parade, close to my most beloved band of all time. When they went on hiatus seven years ago I was pretty sad. Three albums and a slew of amazing live shows just didn't seem enough. But they were back and after an EP in 2016 they released a new album in 2017. 'Cry Cry Cry' would turn out to be my favourite album of the year. I can't say it was technically the best as the albums by Fleet Foxes and Kevin Morby were perhaps better but it was MY favourite and I just loved it. The boys were back and how! But Canada was back too. Some artists with a long time between drinks came back with stellar efforts. Feist, Do Make Say Think and Broken Social Scene in particular. Arcade Fire also returned but their album was a major disappointment. Not so Destroyer who delivered the goods yet again.

Ty Segall released yet another album and it was wonderful, whilst Father John Misty and The War on Drugs just pushed the envelope a little further. In the hip-hop field Vince Staples and Kendrick Lamar really stood out from the pack. Locally The Smith Street Band released my favourite Australian album. Gang of Youths got all the hype but it was the boys from Melbourne that truly delivered.

1. Cry Cry Cry-Wolf Parade
2. Crack-Up-Fleet Foxes
3. City Music-Kevin Morby
4. Ty Segall-Ty Segall
5. A Deeper Understanding-The War On Drugs
6. Pure Comedy-Father John Misty
7. Stubborn Persistent Illusions-Do Make Say Think
8. Big Fish Theory-Vince Staples
9. Half-Light-Rostam
10. DAMN.-Kendrick Lamar
11. Ken-Destroyer
12. Luciferian Towers-Godspeed You! Black Emperor
13. Painted Ruins-Grizzly Bear
14. More Scared of You Than You are of Me-The Smith Street Band
15. Dirty Projectors-Dirty Projectors
16. Hot Thoughts-Spoon
17. Hug Of Thunder-Broken Social Scene
18. Capacity-Big Thief
19. The Wild-The Rural Alberta Advantage
20. Love Is Love-Woods
21. Pleasure-Feist
22. Infinite Worlds-Vagabon
23. Hang-Foxygen
24. Light Information-Chad VanGaalen
25. Sleep Well Beast-The National
26. A Crow Looked at Me-Mount Eerie
27. TFCF-Liars
28. Poor David's Almanack-David Rawlings
29. Rocket- (Sandy) Alex G
30. Life Without Sound-Cloud Nothings
31. Popular Manipulations-The Districts
32. Memory of a Cut Off Head-OCS
33. Coils-Ramona Falls
34. Orc-Oh Sees
35. Times Infinity Volume Two-The Dears
36. We All Want the Same Things-Craig Finn
37. Whiteout Conditions-The New Pornographers
38. Moh Lhean-Why?
39. Bad Posture-John Andrews & the Yawns
40. Out in the Storm-Waxahatchee
41. Go Farther In Lightness-Gang of Youths
42. Rock n Roll Consciousness-Thurston Moore
43. In Mind-Real Estate
44. Hatteras Night, A Good Luck Charm-Will Johnson
45. No Shape-Perfume Genius
46. The Tourist-Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
47. Everything Now-Arcade Fire
48. Last Place-Grandaddy
49. Hard Love-Strand of Oaks
50. World Eater-Blanck Mass