Here’s the next track from Jack White‘s second solo album, the titular “Lazaretto”.
This sounds like bluesy Rage Against The Machine. That’s promising.
Here’s the next track from Jack White‘s second solo album, the titular “Lazaretto”.
This sounds like bluesy Rage Against The Machine. That’s promising.
The Man Who Can Do No Musical Wrong has released a taster from his second solo album. Jack White’s Lazaretto will come out in June.
“High Ball Stepper” is a weird choice: a Zeppelinesque slab of crunching guitar instrumentals. Every second of it thrills me.
A band I already like creates a track with thumping bass and falsetto vocals? I’m in.
Fun video too.
I spent Halloween evening at the Bridge Hotel in Rozelle, Sydney, listening to the blues. This should come as a surprise to no one.
The Bridge is a no-frills place. It’s not sawdust-on-the-floors, but it’s not too far beyond that either. It’s a simple pub on one side and a small room with tables and a stage for music events on the other. The crowd the other night was, in the words of one of the performer, “small but select”. I and the two friends I went with would agree.
The first act was Canadian Charlie A’Court. I didn’t know until I looked him up, just before going into the room, that he’s actually a Nova Scotian like me. From Truro, in fact, so not far at all from where I grew up. Charlie’s got a powerful voice and plays a good acoustic guitar. He sounded great, and performed a good mix of blues, soft folk, and soul tunes.
The main event was Dave Hole, an Australian slide guitarist I’ve been keen to see since I heard him on an Alligator blues collection I picked up in the early ’90s. He hasn’t toured much in recent years, and this mini-tour around Oz is an acoustic one. He came on stage with a Dobro steel guitar; he was later joined by a drummer on snare and high hat, and a bass player, so not the stack of Marshalls he admitted he usually uses.
But no matter what sort of guitar he has in his hands, Dave Hole can play a slide guitar. He coaxes all those emotive slide sounds from his instrument, the wails and shouts, the glissandos of mourning.
And Dave plays from his guts. There’s no artifice about his performance. His singing isn’t polished. He makes an effort, and grimaces and gestures and shouts, but not in a put-on way. He just has the air of someone who’s self-taught, who loves the old roadhouse blues tunes, and who loves playing them.
By the end of the night it was perhaps getting to be a bit too much of the same sliding trills, over and over, for me. But then he ended with his version of “Purple Haze” and left me with a smile. Thanks Dave.
Lou Reed, member of The Velvet Underground, solo musician, and New Yorker, died earlier today. It’s been very big news – and rightly so – so if you want to review the man’s huge contribution to the rock music scene since the late ’60s you can easily find those sort of articles on the ‘net, written by bigger fans than me. You could do worse than this one.
My personal reminisces of Lou always come down to two memories:
1. His performance of Bob Dylan’s “Foot of Pride” at the Dylan 30th anniversary concert in 1992. The song sounds like it was written for Lou, which is maybe why Bob didn’t include it on Infidels.
2. His hilarious views on his life in New York, from ad-libbed film Blue In The Face.
I’m just back from seeing Lorde play the tiny Metro Theatre in Sydney.
The first act was Oliver Tank, a one-man electro-groove-folk act. I liked his mix of samples, synthetic beats, and easygoing vocals in a laid-back sort of way.
Before I talk about Lorde I feel that I should clarify something. Lorde - real name Ella Maria Lani Yelich-O’Connor – is (at the time of this post) a 16-year-old trip-pop singer and songwriter from New Zealand. She is very distinct from Lordi, the ludicrously-costumed hard rock band from Finland that won the Eurovision song contest in 2006. Just so there’s no confusion. Because there has been.
Now, back to Lorde. She was good. I mean, for someone who can really only have performed on stage a limited number of times, given her age, she was pretty good. Her show didn’t consist of anything flashy. She sang, one guy played drums, and another played synth and electronics. There were a few lights. There were a lot of recorded background vocals, since a lot of the songs have multiple vocal tracks. There wasn’t much opportunity for elaborate showmanship.
Lorde did a hunched over, herky-jerky dance throughout the show, and flicked her cascading set of hair a lot, but was an assured performer for one so young. It was only between songs, when the crowd went mental, that she sometimes seemed at a bit of a loss as to how to respond. No worries, she’s got a whole career in front of her to become polished (and jaded and cynical).
A word about that crowd: they were loud. I have been to hundreds of gigs. Really, a lot. Metal, rock, punk, Springsteen, everything. And I’ve never heard a crowd scream so loudly all around me as I heard tonight. After she played “Royals” I had to cover my ears. “Biting Down” also got a massive response. The piercing volume might have had something to do with the high proportion of females in the audience. Nevertheless it was a clear sign that the crowd absolutely loved her.
For my money she was good, not amazing, live. She played for slightly over an hour but got through most of the songs on her EP and LP. A surprising omission was new ANZ hit “Team”, which I really like. Maybe they’re still figuring out how to do it live. Here it is for you:
And just to show you that she can sing live here’s Lorde and her band doing “Royals” for a radio show in the US:
Lorde has shown herself to be a phenomenally catchy songwriter. She’s on the road to be a good performer. I don’t see that there’s any stopping her.
I have a ticket to see international smash-hot sensation Lorde play at the 1000-capacity Metro Theatre in downtown Sydney a few hours from now.
Now that she has a #1 US hit under her 16-year-old belt I reckon this is the last time I’ll get a chance to see her in a venue anything like this size. I’m keen to see how honed her stage persona is this early on.
Amongst all the other things I was doing yesterday – calling solicitors and feeding the homeless – I managed to snag a fan club presales ticket to the Sydney show of the massive Nine Inch Nails/Queens of the Stone Age tour next year. It sounds like I was pretty lucky to do so, though there’s at least one other promoter presale, and then the regular sale.
Get in, rock fans.
The Union Hotel in Newtown is an excellent pub. They have lots of interesting beers, mostly local but with a few from overseas, and even a couple of hand-pumped ales. They have pool tables and a beer garden. Something for everyone, really.
And this Sunday afternoon they had something that surpassed all of these: Sugar Bowl Hokum, a band that plays blues, jazz, and hokum tunes from the early 20th century. They were sweet and naughty and a lot of fun. I’d definitely catch them again.
Here’s a short clip of them playing Memphis Minnie’s “In My Girlish Days“.
I saw UK dance-rock band Foals live once before in early 2008. I thought they were good then but not varied enough. But I’ve liked their new album enough that I decided to go see them again last night at the nearby Enmore Theatre.
The first act were up-and-coming Melbourne band Alpine. Their song “Gasoline” has been pretty popular on the radio here, and for good reason. They’ve got a poppy vibe from their two vocalists but some hefty rock crunch from the musicians. Live they were hi-energy fun in that Karen O/Yeah Yeah Yeahs way. I enjoyed their set a lot.
When Foals came out soon afterwards I was really pleased I’d decided to give them another chance because they’ve grown as a band and as performers. They now have three albums to draw on, and their last two have both included more of the crunch they employ live but also broadened their music. It’s still a fairly focused sound, with a lot of U2-ish bell-ringing guitars but eminently danceable rhythms. The crowd could not help but shake itself to each guitar-driven song.
My favourites last night were old track “Electric Bloom” and new tracks “Inhaler, “My Number” (this one, especially, delivered early on, set the boogie tone), and “Providence”. All demonstrated how the band uniquely combines staccato guitar riffs with high-hat grooves to make dance-floor-filling rock songs.
Lead singer Yannis Philippakis got into the spirit of things with two stages dives, one with his guitar (and his solo kept going). It looks like the previous night’s show got even wilder, though, as he did a crowd dive from the upper level. Don’t try this at home, kids.
And finally, because it’s a great song, here’s “My Number” for your ear pleasure.
I totally forgot: a week and a half ago I saw Canadian garage-rock duo Japandroids play at Sydney University’s Manning Bar.
They were rad. That is all. You really just have to experience it, and you’ll get the raw experience or you won’t.
I’ve blogged before about a band from Australia called Stonefield, four young sisters who channel Zeppelin-era rock.
After some singles and EPs their first full album is coming out in October. Below is the lead track and video, “Put Your Curse On Me”.
The video is not ashamed of their psychedelic rock ‘n’ roll roots; why should it, this is part of their USP. It is in fact quite cheesy. But they still have a great, unashamedly over-the-top sound that will appeal to people who like hard rock from the early ’70s.
I was looking at the upcoming gigs for Camelot Lounge and saw a listing for a blues guitar player named Lloyd Spiegel. That piqued my interest so I dug into it a little more. I found out that Lloyd has been named one of the 50 best Australian guitarists of all time.
Then I found this video:
Then I bought tickets to see Spiegel.
The gig was Friday night. We were ‘way up in the front so we could get a good view. Spiegel in no way looks like a rock star, though, or even a blues star for that matter. He’s a completely ordinary-looking bloke, the kind of guy you’d know from work or that installs your sink. He was dressed completely ordinarily.
But once he sat on that stool and lifted that acoustic guitar Lloyd let loose with a powerful – almost overpowering – blast of blues music. He can play. The only way to know is to see it live, like in that video above, or this one:
He played standards and his own songs, accompanied by drummer Tim Watkins. It felt free of artifice, and almost overwhelming in guitar proficiency.
Lloyd is a blues shouter, with a full-throated, powerful voice. There were few mellow tunes, though I really liked this one.
For fans of the blues, or acoustic guitar playing, Lloyd is an amazing Australian act.
A mate of mine just pointed out that excellent California lo-fi blues-rock duo Little Hurricane have a free MP3 album of cover songs available for download. I’m only four songs in, but I really like it. Get it!
Stay Classy – A Collection of Covers
Camelot Lounge is one of the funkiest recent additions to Marrickville. It opened a year or two back, a music club in an old building in the very industrial space close to Sydenham train station, and the legitimate offspring of warehouse party outfit Qirkz. They focus on blues, jazz, folk, and world music in a small eclectic (and camel-centric) space. And it’s very close to where I live.
On Thursday Qirkz were giving away a couple of last-minute free tickets to that night’s show and I managed to snag one. So I grooved on down the road to see Christa Hughes and Ben Fink.
Christa comes from a musical family and performs a very cabaret-infused style of early blues and jazz. Her full-on burlesque theatricality added pizzazz to alt-rock group Machine Gun Fellatio, but she’s been performing on her own for about 8 years. Ben is a guitarist, composer, and singer who dabbles in several roots styles.
They played a set of songs that drew from early blues, back when there was little difference between that musical form and others like jazz and folk and gospel. Hughes’s powerful theatrical voice and flamboyant stage manner drew your attention, while Fink’s raw, understated playing gave it a rootsy grounding. They played standards like “Midnight Special” and Skip James’ “Hard Time Killin’ Floor Blues” (which, interestingly, morphed into Led Zeppelin’s “The Lemon Song”, which of course references Howlin’ Wolf’s very different “Killing Floor” and Robert Johnson’s “Travelling Riverside Blues”). They also did a great version of Bessie Smith’s double-entendre-filled “My Kitchen Man“.
That burlesque naughtiness spilled over into some of Christa and Ben’s originals too. “Pig Flu Blues” was a snorting, coughing ode to feeling miserable (and a run-in with the cops). And in a move sure to entertain all the kids whose parents had brought them along for the evening, Hughes bemoaned the emphasis on anal sex in modern adult entertainment with a tune called “Bring Back the Pussy in Porn”.
While I really like early blues the shrill pantomime of Christa’s performance wears thin on me after a while. I ducked out at the intermission, suitably entertained and not wanting to slip over into the point of diminishing returns.
On the way home I stopped into an even newer music venue in Marrickville, just two minutes from my front door, located in what I believe used to be a Vietnamese karaoke bar: LazyBones Lounge. This very cool, large, ultra-loungey upstairs room can only have been open a couple of weeks. Judging by the quality jam band, interesting decor, impressively stocked bar, no cover charge, and already-substantial crowd this place has got some legs. I’m looking forward to chilling out here in the near future.
Lorde makes music that’s freakishly fun and catchy. How does anyone who’s just 16 years old have talent like this? I really like these songs. Judging by the heavy triple j rotation the rest of Australia does too.
I’ve mentioned FBi Radio before; I believe it’s the best radio station for anyone who wants to learn about new music, especially new music coming from Australia. I’ve been a supporting member ever since I moved to Sydney.
I got my ticket today. It’s pretty cheap, less than $50 even for non-supporters. Get yours here and support good, local, new music. These are some of the 35 acts playing on the day:
It wasn’t part of the Vivid festival but I somehow found myself back at the Opera House yet again last night. This time it was to see Martha Wainwright. If you don’t know Martha’s background, or understand the source of her musical DNA, read this.
She was incredibly good. Her songs are very personal, with beautiful melodies. Most of her style comes from an acoustic singer-songwriter place. She did play several solo songs, but on the rest her backing band gave her enough scale and oomph to provide some dynamics.
More dynamics came from a couple of Edith Piaf songs in the middle of the set, as well as a guest slot she gave to Brighter Later (who didn’t get to open the night as the Opera House now frowns on this apparently). Plus she gave us her version of Nick Cave’s “The Ship Song”.
Martha is a great live performer: funny and engaging between songs, expressive and full of movement during them. Her vocals are very authentic, just raw enough but with control that comes from both talent and practice. There was banter with her husband (who’s in the band), jokes about brother Rufus, a stage visit from her kid (more show business DNA, it seems), and a discovery that performing lying down is quite comfortable.
Both her parents got appropriate nods: Martha closed her main set with her mother’s last song, the delicate “Proserpina” (the video is below), and finished the encore with a less delicate song about her dad.
She was wacky, endearing, and a musical force. It was an impressive evening.
My love for Nine Inch Nails is well-documented. Get ready for blog obsession again, because after some soundtrack work for David Fincher and side band How To Destroy Angels, Trent is back in the NIN groove.
New track “Came Back Haunted” is very industrial-electro-dancey. It’s pretty standard NIN. Which means I like it. You can listen and watch whirly audio things below.
New album Hesitation Marks is scheduled for release on 2013 Sep 03.
A world tour is beginning.
Alan Lomax was a folklorist and collector of American field recordings. Any student of US roots music will know his name: the music and stories he collected in the ’40s and ’50s for the Archive of American Folk Song at the Library of Congress was a driving force for the popularity of blues and folk music in the ’60s.
A collective of musicians from America (and one from Canada) played two concerts on the weekend as part of the Vivid festival that paid homage to the music that Lomax uncovered for us. That show was called Sounds of the South, and I caught the Sunday afternoon show.
The assembled 13 musicians played a set of songs inspired by the Alan Lomax recordings. Almost none were straight covers; they were, instead, rocked-up, jazzed-up, or psyched-up. Almost all worked really well, resulting in blues-, gospel-, or folk-based tunes that showed how these themes have influenced modern music. They were exciting. There were multi-part harmonies. There were tales of sadness, and sung prayers of joy.
The middle section didn’t work for me. It got a little too free-form and discordant. I was constantly reminded of Spinal Tap’s jazz odyssey.
But most of it was really good. Vernon and Ford’s singing were highlights, as were all three brass players in Fight the Big Bull. They (mostly) found a great balance of homage and reinterpretation. And they encored with The Band’s “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down”.
It was the sort of rare event that keeps me coming back to Vivid.
Here’s an excellent video of one of the songs – performed a few years ago – that was one of the highlights the other night; Vernon singing Mississippi Fred McDowell’s “When You Get Home Please Write Me A Few of Your Lines”. It starts as a near-acoustic cover, then morphs into a jazz-rock groove.