Thursday, April 21, 2011

RIP TV on the Radio's Gerard Smith

It comes as sad news that TV on the Radio's Gerard Smith lost his battle with lung cancer over night. At just 34 Smith had been with the band since 2005. He had recorded on Return to Cookie Mountain, Dear Science and the recently released Nine Types of Light.

I have only seen TV on the Radio once, in 2006 at Sydney's Gaelic Club and have been eager to see them ever since. A fantastic band who prove themselves worthy of the huge praise time and time again. Nine Types of Light finds the band tread lighter than before, with the same groove but with a mellower vibe, but I chose Family Tree, a song from Dear Science.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Bart Constant's Do Better, video by Kimmo Films

Bart Constant's passport does not read Bart Constant, it reads Rutger Hoedemaekers. The Dutch producer has begun to release his own music and, I guess for good reason, thought the pseudonym would be catchier.

It's no wonder Hoedemaekers' contribution to Mixed-tape sees the London Symphony Orchestra, Múm, Pet Shop Boys and Ella Fitzgerald. All of these can be heard on his single "Do Better" under the Constant guise.

"Do Better" builds from small moments to large baroque-pop epicness as Constant's mournful vocals and rich violins are joined by Dustin O'Halloran (formerly of Devics, signed to Bella Union) and his mesmerising piano to feel very Death Cab for Cutie. Sweeping and cinematic; it's a headphone symphony. It'll be interesting to hear what he does next.

Suitably, the accompanying video is both humble and majestic. Kimmo Films' Mirka Duijn & Nina Spiering keep the audio of their footage rolling under Constant's song as we're taken into a small film about a disciplined 80s-era trapeze artist torn between her craft and a boy. You know that age-old conundrum.

Stylised beautifully, the film is set around grim and grey Rotterdam, rendering a bleak outlook through grainy super8 (and some Canon 5D). Kimmo captures the female athlete's body in the way Darren Aronofsky did in Black Swan - the star must have been a trapeze artist first, actor second (no slight on her skill for the latter).
Watch to the end to be given a selection of Kimmo's other work. One is a video, 'Call Up To Heaven' by Dutch disco-funk outfit Kraak n Smaak where the super8 gives a fantastic '70s blaxploitation feel. Also check out an excerpt from their short film Manitoba (music by Hoedemaekers), which screened at Cannes and Rotterdam International Film Festival. I'm not sure where you can watch the whole film, if anyone knows, please leave a comment below.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Brisbane flood relief benefit gigs

PhotobucketThe Brisbane music scene has always been strong with Brisbane bands sharing a unique pop sensibility with sweet hooks and indie charm, there is an obvious lineage of the days of yore with The Saints and The Go Betweens and today.

In the wake of the Brisbane flood disaster a slew of Brissy bands as well as international acts have got together to raise money, with concerts popping up all over the place.

The most prominent show (at least to me) is Float On, the headliners are the newly reformed Custard. They've already played some reunion shows but the gig at West End's HiFi on Sunday 6 February will be electric for band and home crowd alike. In support is Regurgitator, Screamfeeder and Fortitude Valley mainstayers Gentle Ben and his Sensitive Side. Joining them will be Hungry Kids from Hungary, Kate Miller-Heidke and Little Scout. All money raised goes directly to the Premier's Flood Relief Appeal - tickets $35 through Moshtix, kick off is 4pm.

The Raggamuffin Festival has been re-dubbed (pardon the rasta pun) Reggae for Recovery and brings international clout to the rescue with Mary J Blige, Jimmy Cliff, Maxi Priest, Sean Paul, The Original Wailers, The Black Seeds and the Red Eyes plus more. The Riverstage, Sunday 30 January - tickets start from $89.

Flood Bank: A Brisbane Music Benefit Concert for 2011 Queensland Flood Victims
takes place on Wednesday 3 February with Violent Soho, Evil Eddie, Ball Park Music, Inland Sea, The Medics, Bang Bang Boss Kelly, The Baby Seal Club, Blonde On Blonde, Grand Atlantic, and Texas Tea at the Old Museum Building in Fortitude Valley - tickets $30 from Oztix.

Guy Sebastian will headline an Australia Day festival (Wednesday 26 January - natch) at South Bank, with support from Ball Park Music and Charlie Mayfair. Tickets are free but booking through Ticketek is essential with opportunities to donate to the Premier's Flood Relief Appeal.

The Big Dry Out featuring Ball Park Music, Bobby Flynn, The Videomatics and Tape/Off play the Lightspace in Fortitude Valley on Friday 28 January - tickets are $30 (or $20 concession) through Oztix, doors open 6pm.

Meanwhile Queensland MP, Rob Messenger is attempting to guilt the retired Powderfinger into a show at Suncorp Stadium. "I think it's a good idea, I've written to the premier asking for her support," he told ABC Radio on Friday 7. We'll see.

If you're in another part of the country and can't make it to any of these shows, you can still donate.
Photo: Ben Loveridge

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas rock n roll mixtape

Last year I made a couple of Christmas mixtapes. Rock and indie bands love the irony of writing a Christmas tune, except for Sufjan Stevens who writes them sans-irony. Somehow only one of the mixtapes still exist on the internets and my external hard drive is somewhere between Amsterdam and Sydney, no doubt caught in the massive European blizzard so I can retrieve the other one. Nevertheless follow the link to Slay Bells Not Reindeer.

Consider it my little gift to you. Ho Ho Ho and have a great Christmas.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Gig review: Ava Luna at Storing

My friend Grant said we had to go, he was putting on the show. We were happy to support our friend but it was the night after his birthday so we were holding a hung over grudge as we all caught the train from Amsterdam to Haarlem. But Grant found a great venue in Storing, that provided some good pub grub before the show. Another plus, the venue with its roots in the squat movement make it a rule not to charge for gigs.Photobucket
Unfortunately, it wasn't just my liver that was disgruntled. Not only did the band's name conjure Paramore-ish connotations but I had been initially put off by the Brooklyn band, Ava Luna, by the shitty car stereo on which Liz and I sampled their demo in preparation for the gig while we drove around Europe. There weren't many ticks in the boxes, only Xs.
On arrival to Grant and Amanda’s house after our euro-sojourn their home stereo unit and a more polished EP redeemed the band’s sound, where soul meets post punk and you can hear elements of fellow New Yorkers TV on The Radio in their early days.Photobucket
Bringing the crunching post punk edge to the music are keyboards, bass and drums with equal amounts of thickness and negative space as lead singer, Carlos Hernandez croons in a falsetto recalling TVOTR's singer Tunde while a trio of female backing singers swoon with delicate harmony that when combined, compliment each other brilliantly.
In fact the term 'backing' is doing the girls an injustice. On the small Storing stage with little room for the seven members to move, the gals, Anna, Felicia and Becca are the main attraction, keeping a sweet and swaying chorus line bringing a uniqueness to an indie stage. Carlos wails about in a suit and maintains between-song banter as a leader should while bassist Ethan, drummer Julian and synth player Nathan keep the engine turning over like a dirty metronome.
Along with my last bowl of bitterballen, I had to eat my words - they were very entertaining with a fresh sound.

It was the band’s first trip to Europe and first show in the Netherlands. They seemed chuffed to be here and received a decent crowd for a Sunday night show in a city that wasn’t Amsterdam. Grant, ever the one to please had also offered his house as accommodation. Supposedly they were all stoked but as Liz and I were sleeping on their floor just a few days prior after returning from our roadtrip, I can’t imagine how all eight (tour manager included) fitted on the living room floor. I believe Grant took them to sample some Dutch delicacies so maybe that wiped them out. Ah to be a young band on the road.

For those in the Holiday spirit and love a good indie Christmas song, take a listen and if you like it, buy it, all proceeds go to the NYC Food Bank.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Mohawk Lodge

PhotobucketInspired by John Cage's 4'33" I've been silent for a long time due mainly to roadtripping around Europe for the last three months in Bumblebee with my girlfriend, Liz.

However I'm back in Amsterdam for a few days before I move home to Sydney indefinitely.

Apart from my friends and the beautiful city of Amsterdam, the thing I'll miss most is the fantastic gig-going to be had from small international bands.

Tonight is no different with Canada's The Mohawk Lodge playing for free at little known venue on Zeedijk named Skek.

I dunno what genre the band call put themselves in but I'm dubbing them Logger Rock. Signed to White Whale records (founded by ML lead singer Ryder Havdale so drr), it's Bruce Springsteen-inspired blue collared workin' man's music. Burly and rough but honest, you can hear alignment with fellow Boss worshipers Gaslight Anthem and The Hold Steady. Any decent Canadian expat worth their rock salt will bear the snow covered cobblestones, lumberjack flannels on to enjoy the sounds. No doubt they'll play tunes from new album, 'Crimes' which Havdale says is partially about "the feeling of punching out a friend for f**king your girlfriend".

Labelmate Eamon McGrath, who makes a similar sound, played last night and may just join in.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Review: Eurockeennes 2010 - Fashions in the field

This blog entry is for all those people who think that the French are the most stylish, most elegant and most refined in the world and pay twice as much for dijon as they do for squeezable dijonaise, just to taste the culture. Or for those people in English-speaking parts of the world jealous of a country able to instill classy words like 'chic', 'vogue', 'avant garde' and 'champange' into a vocabulary responsible rhyming slang and 'spaakling woite woiné' (note the inflection - go up at the end).

Well guess what? It's not all hot girls with nice eyebrows and seemingly happenstance styling. Without further ado I give you Eurockeennes' Fashions in the field.
PhotobucketAirborne were just the band to get Jacques and Luc pumped for a brisk, sunny jog in scoops and velcroed sandals.

PhotobucketSuitor #2 is Cliché Guevara: As a mature-age Arts student/first year militant, Chomsky reciter and avid pot smoker, Cliche loves Radio Radio and long walks on le Plage scene.

PhotobucketBig Foot was cool with being papped in his daisy dukes. He assured us they weren't never nudes, stating 'I've worked out hard to shake my ape-ish appearance. The homo-erectus body is beautiful - why not flaunt what you've got.'

PhotobucketThough the rest of the Empire of the Sun crowd dissipated, passed out Amelie here remained walking on a dream.

Photobucket In mullét (pronounced 'Moolay'), chain-mail shirt and blue fishnet stalkings and a comfortable banana-hammock, Jean Luc was psyched for Mika.

A few photo creds go out to Amanda and Liz for this. Nice stealthness ladies.

Related topics
Review: Eurockeennes 2010 Day Three
Review: Eurockeennes 2010 Day Two
Review: Eurockeennes 2010 Day One