Category: Music


Friday Flashback #26

Hey, just thought I’d let you know I’m still alive. Busy, but still alive.

I’ve got a truly woeful flashback to greet you all with too. One from my childhood back in the mid-to-late 1990s that I really wish I hadn’t rediscovered. But I have, so now I get to subject you to the same pain. Enjoy…

From way back in 1997, this is T-Shirt (a “band” that came and went just as quickly) with their cover version of Hot Chocolate’s “You Sexy Thing“.

Interestingly enough, this cover (it was actually one of many cover versions of this song) included Hot Chocolate singer Errol Brown in the song and film clip. The song peaked at #5 across the ditch in New Kiwiland and #6 here, staying in the ARIA charts for an unbelievable 32 weeks.

The 90s kids will note the old Video Hits graphics from around 1997 aired throughout the filmclip as well. The super-keen TV nerds (such as myself, I’m not going to lie) might also note this was recorded from Ten Victoria, the Channel Ten affiliate station based throughout regional Victoria. Funny that, given I’m sure I probably saw this filmclip back in the day on holidays in Ballarat or Gippsland myself.

I recall watching this and loving it, being a 9-year-old kid at the time. I may even have it cassette-tape recorded somewhere at home. It’s a song I haven’t heard in probably over 10 years, and while most of me wishes I still hadn’t, parts of me enjoyed the trip down pop music memory lane

Until we meet again…

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Call me a genius…

Well call me a genius. I wrote this prediction in November. Sure enough, on Australia Day, my prediction came true. Gotye and Kimbra’s “Somebody That I Used To Know” won the Triple J Hottest 100.

Considering the song was odds-on favourite to win, I guess it’s no surprise really. Though I’m going to claim my little victory for all it’s worth anyway 🙂

As for the rest of, few surprises there I imagine. I expected to see The Black Keys, Boy and Bear and The Jezabels do well, and they did. A bit disappointed that one of Florence and the Machine’s new ones didn’t get into the top 10 though.

Now the rest of the world will go back to ignoring Triple J till next January…

 

Friday Flashback #25

Today I’ve brought out one from left-field. Please bear with me…

Now for those of you born post-1987, like me, the song is English novelty band The Firm‘s number one hit Star Trekkin’. For those of you born pre or post-1987 wondering why on Earth I’d promote listening to such an abstract (and that’s putting it politely) song, I don’t really have an answer.

If you want a boring story (rhetorical question), here it is. For some reason or another, I first recall hearing this song on some random video recording my mother had tape-recorded from MTV back when she was pregnant with me. Those were the days when MTV was a) in some way watchable, and b) still shown on free-to-air television (those were the days). The claymation filmclip featuring Captain Kirk inhaling from a bong amongst other humorous Star Trek overtones like it amused me as a pre-teen back then, and I guess I’ve kinda liked the song since, much for the same reasons (who says you have to grow up as you get older!)

So if you’re disgusted that I’d link to such a song, well I’m not very sorry. Remember that this song was top of the UK charts for two weeks back in 1987. Though for those of you who found it as funny and amusing as a more childish version of me did (yes, that did exist), good on you.

Due to the time consuming nature of my life at this point (aka the need to move house, complete a uni exam and visit my girlfriend interstate) I’m lacking the time to dedicate to my beloved blog. So here’s a quick one to keep you Tantalised in the meantime…

I wrote about these guys back in October, and had the good fortune (thanks to said lovely girlfriend and her very generous father) of seeing them play on the Gold Coast a few weeks back. Seriously fantastic gig, even if I didn’t know a great deal of their material. This was one that stuck with me, largely thanks to the very talented and nice person that is their guitarist Marty Willson-Piper with his ridiculously quick-handed guitar work. For the record, they sounded excellent despite the thirty years of age they’ve accumulated since their debut.

Enjoy, and hopefully we talk again soon.

A Hottest 100 contender?

My early tip for the song that will win next January’s Triple J Hottest 100

Ticks all the boxes. Former indie Triple J act, turned popular with a new album, with this song that gained mainstream appeal. Think past examples such as Kings of Leon, Mumford and Sons, and Angus and Julia Stone. Follows the formula to the letter.

However, unlike some of those previous winners, this one is also an incredible song to boot. That makes it my pick. I’d be interested to know what you think might be able to beat it.

Friday Flashback #24

Hey, remember this blog thing I used to do? Yeah, so do I now! Probably about time I write something again, don’t you think?

I’ll start with a Friday Flashback again, largely because I can’t think of what else to write, and also because I’ve got a list of about 10 more songs waiting to be analysed (and I warn readers – many are likely to be rather terrible). Luckily today’s choice does not fall into that category. From their 1982 album The Blurred Crusade, this is The Church with When You Were Mine.

I stumbled upon this track by sheer coincidence just the other night, taken from an old episode of Countdown, while just sifting through some YouTube videos and saw a link to this. I’m quite a fan of the Church material I do know, though I must confess to being woefully unfamiliar with much other than their biggest songs. So I thought I’d check it out, and quite enjoyed it. A typical Church-type number (that is the band, not the institution, I can’t quite imagine this being played in a chapel of a Sunday morning) with its fantastic yet simple guitar-driven melody, and the excellent vocals of Steve Kilbey running the show, this track has been on a semi-constant repeat over the past few days.

The Blurred Crusade is the Church’s second album, released in March 1982 as the follow-up to their highly successful debut effort Of Skins and Heart. When You Were Mine was the second single released from this album, following the high-charting and equally impressive Almost With You which reached #21 on the Australian charts in the same year. The Blurred Crusade itself was also quite well-received, given that its predecessor had produced gems such as The Unguarded Moment, peaking at #10 on the Australian album charts.

Sadly, The Church’s future fortunes were somewhat mixed. This started by their US record label refusing to market The Blurred Crusade and subsequently dropping the band from their label, thus largely confining The Church’s success to Australia and New Zealand. Furthermore, the success of their next three albums, namely Seance, Remote Luxury and to a lesser extent Heyday, was limited. The band struggled through this time, and even went on hiatus for a period.

However, they came back with a bang with the release of their 1988 album Starfish. Sporting the band’s most successful single to date in Under the Milky Way, as well as the brilliant Reptile (whose guitar riff I to this day still am in awe of) and many other gems, Starfish was a hit both in Australia and also overseas, finally seeing that The Church obtained at least some of the worldwide recognition their work deserved.

Today, The Church are still kicking along, touring and releasing albums. Both the band and Kilbey solo have released a number of project since Starfish, none of which I am in any way familiar enough with to comment on. However, the volume of material of theirs I know makes me love them as a band, and the even greater volume of their material I do not know makes me want to explore their back-catalogue even further.

Oh, and it’s nice to be back 🙂

10 Greatest Australian Albums

As you may know, Triple J are in the process of taking votes for their upcoming Hottest 100 Australian Albums of All Time countdown. Being the semi-obsessed music lover that I am, I could not pass up the opportunity to exert my influence on the outcome. However, the task of choosing only the ten best Australian albums proved somewhat difficult, and did result in a number of excellent albums being omitted from my final list.

Anyway, for the pleasure of the two or so blog readers I have, I’ve decided to share with you my top 10 (in no particular order, except for denoting my number 1 choice) as well as a few glaring omissions that were reluctantly made due to capacity constraints.

10. Birds of Tokyo – Universes

It was impossible to pass up Universes, the Birds’ second release, and arguably still their greatest. A very solid release balancing harder alternative elements with a pop-rock sound, Universes spawned some of the best recent Aussie music releases I know of. Broken Bones is a solid track, Wild Eyed Boy was the song that got me into the band and to this day I still love, and the epic Silhouettic, my clear favourite from the album, redefines brilliant. Combine the fact that this was released as recently as 2008, and was created by a bunch of sandgropers, and it’s hard to argue that this is a masterpiece worthy of recognition.

9. The Butterfly Effect – Final Conversation of Kings

This would be a countdown by me if it didn’t include a Butterfly Effect album – these boys from Brisbane have been in my mind the best thing to come from the sunshine state ever since a certain fateful night last April (they were only second best prior). I agonised about whether this album or its predecessor Imago was more worthy of the place as the exclusive TBE album on my list (I couldn’t justify putting two from the same artist, regardless of how good I rate that artist to be). However, it was the first seven tracks of this album that swayed me towards picking their latter effort. Just incredible.

8. The Cat Empire – The Cat Empire

This one is sure to please a certain someone north of the border. I don’t know how to describe The Cat Empire, and I’d reckon neither do they. They are without a doubt the most unique band Australia has produced, and are still to this day the best live band I have ever seen (a claim I firmly stand by, and that’s in comparison to some little known bands I’ve seen like Metallica, Muse, Slash and a few others). While it was the single “Hello” that first helped them gain notoriety, it’s tracks like “The Rhythm“, “The Chariot“, “Days Like These“, “The Wine Song“, “How to Explain” and “One Four Five” that entertain me the most. And given my almost exclusive love for rock as a genre, the fact that this funk-ska-indie-Latin band even rate a mention of something of note.

7. Children Collide – Theory of Everything

The newest album on this list, and a very thankful modern addition given my fear for the lack of quality music being produced in general by the music industry in recent times. I got into this album thanks to the first single “Jellylegs” (after randomly flicking onto it when trying to find something decent on the radio – thanks Triple J). My current love for it is primarily due to my near-obsession with “Loveless” at the moment, not to mention the quality of a few others on the album like “Arrows“, “Complacency No Vacancy” and “My Eagle“. It’s good to see these Melburnians flying the flag for modern Aussie rock.

6. Flowers – Icehouse

This is the oldest album I’ve chosen, being released in 1980 here in Australia. Thanks in part to some musical influence from my mother, I absolutely love Iva Davies’ voice, and am a big fan of his music. I was determined to put an Icehouse album in this list, but it was one hell of a challenge to pick which one. While “Primitive Man” was brilliant, “Man of Colours” truly incredible, and “Sidewalk” contained my all-time favourite Icehouse song, just on the number of great tracks I had to choose their first album (despite the technicality that the band who released it weren’t actually called Icehouse at the time – they were still “Flowers”).  Sure, they hadn’t quite reached the peak of their refined sound that came in later albums, but I liked the rougher rock edge of their earliest work. And with tracks like “Can’t Help Myself“, “Walls“, “We Can Get Together“, “Sister“, not to mention the title track, I think it’d be hard to disagree.

5. The Living End – The Living End

The Living End are a band I expect to fare very well in this countdown, given they went something like 10 years without not getting a song in the annual Hottest 100 countdowns. Interestingly, like with Icehouse, it’s their debut album I’ve chosen to recognise as their greatest as it not only contained some fantastic songs (think “Prisoner of Society“, “Second Solution“, “All Torn Down” and my personal favourite in “West End Riot“, as well as many others), but it set the scene for this punkabilly-rock band from Wheelers Hill to dominate the domestic rock music scene for the next decade and more.

(Apologies about the links to the live versions of the songs – evidently there is only a filmclip for Prisoner of Society)

4. Powderfinger – Odyssey Number Five

These guys are another band I expect to feature very highly, and on the strength of some of their work deservedly so. It’s a real pity that overplaying ruined many of the singles from this album, because songs like “My Happiness” and “These Days” are brilliant in their own right, it’s just that even now no one wants to listen to them again. However, it’s not just due to those songs that I rate Odyssey as an album. “My Kind of Scene” is a fantastic song, “The Metre” is equally impressive, and “Waiting For The Sun” would probably be my favourite by the ‘Finger. Odyssey was the peak of Powderfinger’s work in my opinion, and while I’m not ridiculously obsessed with them as a band, I’ve got quite a bit of time for their melodic soft-rock sound, and in particular the sound they created on this release.

3. Silverchair – Frogstomp

Again, like the last few artists, I struggled to pick which album by these guys deserved my vote, and I think they’ll feature heavily in the final countdown (continental pun not intended). In the end, despite strong competition from a number of later releases (excluding the most recent), it was the debut album Frogstomp that got my vote (and I can hear the exclamations of disbelief coming from the south east as we speak, or at the very least I’ll hear about it Tomorrow). Given that I wrote about these guys and this album very recently, I won’t bore you again with the nitty gritty, I’ll just say that this was a very solid release, additionally worthy of praise given it was the debut recording by a band not old enough to even fornicate legally in some states.

2. The Whitlams – Eternal Nightcap

The brilliance, and equally, the depressingness of this album is truly mesmerising, and just shows off Tim Freedman‘s songwriting genius at its finest. To go from the depressing story of the Charlie trio of songs, to the upbeat sound of “You Sound Like Louis Burdett“; from the happy reflectivity of a song like “Melbourne” to the distant longing for another in “No Aphrodisiac” – I’d argue there’s no greater emotive songwriter in this country than this man. This album is a work worthy of marvel, and I sincerely hope it rates highly in the countdown like it does in mine.

Which brings me to the final choice, and my nominated “greatest Australian album of all time”. The artist won’t shock many, but is surprisingly calm for someone like me with a “heavier” taste in music.

1. Something For Kate – Echolalia

In fact, I’ll admit that I surprised myself when I decided on Echolalia as my favourite Australian album of all time. However, the reasoning was surprisingly simple – of the 13 tracks on this album, I couldn’t find a single weak one. Now if that doesn’t fit the bill as being the greatest album, then nothing will. And I’m serious too. As someone who’s listened to this album start-to-finish a number of times, there’s not a bad song. Not to mention that it contains absolute gems such as the hugely popular (in its day at least) “Monsters“, “Old Pictures” (one of my favourites, which devastatingly I can’t find an online clip for), “Stunt Show“, “Jerry Stand Up“, “Three Dimensions“, “Say Something“, “Feeding The Birds and Hoping for Something in Return” and “Twenty Years” (and yes I could go on, but I’d better stop myself), it rates very highly in my book.

Again, I agonised about whether “The Official Fiction” (the album with my absolute favourite SFK song – “Reverse Soundtrack” (sorry about the quality of the link) – as well as the very famous “Deja Vu” and “Song for a Sleepwalker“) or even “Desert Lights“, but I had to go with Echolalia for the reasons mentioned above.

So that’s the list, ridiculously incomplete as usual, and bound to upset some based upon the albums I missed out. I do apologise to the many bands whose work did deserve to be recognised, but just didn’t make the cut (and believe me, there were many). However, I’m pretty satisfied that I’ve produced a solid list. Now let the criticisms begin…

My favourite song, at the moment

Apologies for those on Facebook who’ve already seen this one…

The song is “Loveless”, from Children Collide’s second album “Theory of Everything“, released in 2010. Now I’ve been a fan of these Melbourne boys since their first album “The Long Now” was released a few years back. That album was a bit raw but full of energy, shown in tracks like “Social Currency” and the very brilliant “Farewell Rocketship“. However, their follow-up effort by far surpasses their first work in my opinion. For instance, take the song “Jellylegs” which combines a punchy, aggressive chorus with bass-driven verses, and was until recently my favourite off the album. Also worth mentioning are tracks like “Arrows“, “Complacency No Vacancy” and “My Eagle” (the one that’s charted the best of their work so far, but funnily not the one I’m most impressed with). While the lyrics may need a bit of work, as do the video clips, they are all solid, energetic, enjoyable rock songs.

However, it’s Loveless that impresses me the most. It’s sound is a bit different, swapping the aggressive hardness of most of their songs for a softer, more ballady-type sound with an alternative twist. In fact, it reminds me a lot of another Aussie rock outfit that I adore, that being The Butterfly effect, especially with the little guitar parts in the chorus.  This song is brilliantly written both lyrically and musically, with a chorus that’s hugely addictive. The simpler music in the song is complemented beautifully by the dynamic vocals that really suit its mood. Overall, I just think it’s an amazing song that I can’t get enough of.

So that makes it my favourite song for the moment. Sure, that will change in time as I tire of it, but it’s just good to see a band that’s flying the flag for Australia musically and producing some great home-grown rock.

Friday Flashback #23

Another Friday Flashback for you now, and today’s choice could be described as bizarre. You might even ask, How Bizarre?

Yep, the song is “How Bizarre“, by New Zealand duo Otara Millionaires’ Club, more commonly known as OMC.

OMC were formed by vocalist Pauly Fuemana and producer Alan Jansson in 1993. The name Otara Millionaires’ Club was a tongue-in-cheek reference to the Auckland suburb Fuemana grew up in – Otara is regarded as one of the poorest areas in Auckland, with parts of it providing the setting to films such as Once Were Warriors. They were signed to a local recording label and had put little together until the release of this song in late 1995. Upon release, its reception was huge, with How Bizarre racing to number one on the local charts, and selling over 35,000 copies in NZ alone, a record still to this day not broken. By early 1996 it had featured in charts worldwide, hitting number one in five countries, including Australia.

Sadly, at least outside of New Zealand, OMC were to remain a one-hit wonder only. The success of How Bizarre inspired the group to record a full-length studio album, the only one of the band’s career, however even it failed to replicate the success of the title single. A 2007 single titled “4 All Of Us”, which didn’t even chart, was their last release.

Sadly, Pauly Fuemana died in early 2010, aged just 40, at North Shore Hospital in Auckland. Ironically, this final resting place completed Fuemana’s rags-to-riches transformation, with the North Shore being one of the priciest, most exclusive areas in New Zealand.

How Bizarre is still one of those songs that everyone knows, yet few could tell you who performed it. It’s status as a one-hit wonder is well-renowned, with the song placing at #71 in a countdown of one-hit wonders performed in 2002 by American music television channel VH1. For me, it’s one of those annoyingly catchy songs that reminds me of being a kid, but now has almost completely faded into obscurity.

Friday Flashback #22

Back by unpopular demand, and finally a relaxed uni timetable (for now)…

Today’s Friday Flashback is inspired by the news that the band Silverchair have announced they are moving into a period of “indefinite hiberation”, which as anyone associated with music will know means that they have split. I’d like to say I’m sad to hear this, but the report goes on to say that the split occurred while the band were recording their sixth album. Short of North Korea disarming its nuclear arsenal, this means the world has dodged its biggest bullet to date.

Mind you, it wasn’t always this bad, as the above video shows. The song linked is “Anthem For The Year 2000”, from their third album “Neon Ballroom“, released in 1999. This was arguably the last album where Silverchair could claim to be a proper rock band. They got their start back in 1992 as a few high school students who jammed together. The demo of the song “Tomorrow” won them a contest on Triple J, which saw the band adopt their current name and enter a studio to record it properly.

In 1995, their debut album Frogstomp was released, first seriously putting Silverchair on the map. In addition to Tomorrow, the album contained a number of grungy gems such as “Israel’s Son” (a song with one of the most beautifully grungy bass lines ever), “Pure Massacre“, “Leave Me Out” and “Suicidal Dream“. As far as debut albums go, I’d probably rank this one up with the best of them (I’m talking Led Zeppelin I, Wolfmother and a few others I can’t think of, but must get around to doing a post on one day).

In 1997, their second album “Freak Show” was released to an arguably even better reception than their first. The big hit was undoubtedly the aptly-named “Freak” with that unmistakably brilliant riff to kick it off. Others from this album included “Abuse Me“, “Cemetery” and the rather underrated “The Door“.

Following Freak Show came the slightly different sound of “Neon Ballroom” as mentioned earlier. While tracks like Anthem retained the grunginess of their earlier albums, it was tracks like “Emotion Sickness“, “Ana’s Song (Open Fire)” and “Miss You Love” which showed a different side to the band. While still excellent songs and in at least some way still possessing the rock qualities of their earlier music, these songs were unfortunately a sign of the slippery slope into sickly pop that the band was about to make.

In 2002 came the release of “Diorama“, which confirmed the change in direction the band had started on the previous release. Although tracks like “The Greatest View” and “Without You” were still rock, songs like “Across The Night” and “Luv Your Life” showed far more elements of pop than rock, a sound that the band Frogstomp-era would have despised.

Following Diorama, Silverchair went on a brief hiatus while band members explored other projects. The most notable of these was lead singer Daniel Johns’ project The Dissociatives, which was unfortunately notable for the wrong reasons. However, even this bad music could not warn of the absolute tripe that was about to come upon their return.

Apparently at some point between 2002 and 2007 Daniel Johns and his male genitalia were parted from each other, which resulted in the rather unfortunate release of “Young Modern” in 2007. Despite this album being a complete and utter pile of felch (to steal an expression from a friend), it went on to sell hugely well and was critically acclaimed. For the life of me I still can’t figure out why. The success was largely on the back of the single “Straight Lines” (you all know it, and given how much I hate it I won’t link to it), though the equally awful “Reflections of a Sound” was also inexplicably well received.

So, based upon their last effort, Silverchair’s disbanding mid-recording does not sadden me at all. All the sadness I’d felt for losing Silverchair was felt in the years following Diorama, where the band descended from being a respectable grunge-rock band to a sickly pop outfit who played terrible music. This disbanding just grants me the relief that we won’t have to hear any more new Silverchair material anytime in the near future.

I will say one thing though – short of maybe David Bowie, Silverchair would have to be in my opinion the band whose sound has changed most dramatically over the course of their recording career. If you listened to Frogstomp and Young Modern without knowing they were both the same band, you’d probably not realise they were.

So, some fans will be sad at the loss of the former Newcastle rock outfit, but in my mind they died years ago. Let’s just hope this doesn’t mean we hear more Daniel Johns solo projects. If that happens, maybe I’ll be praying for North Korea to start firing their missiles.