FBi turns 10: A music and art festival at Carriageworks

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.

FBi is having its 10th anniversary this year. One of the ways they’re celebrating is with a music festival day on Sunday September 8th atCarriageworks in Eveleigh.


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:

The Presets – Hermitude
Urthboy – Seekae – Decoder Ring
Spit Syndicate – The Laurels – Thundamentals
The Preatures – Sampology (AV show)
World’s End Press – Straight Arrows – Collarbones
Naysayer & Gilsun (AV show) – Zeahorse
Movement – Citizen Kay – HOOPS
Ro Sham Bo – Joyride – Simon Caldwell
Kato – Shantan Wantan Ichiban
Mike Who – Mealo & Space Junk
plus more FBi favourites to be announced

Abbe May at Goodgod Small Club

Abbe May is a musician from Western Australia. I found her name in an article praising her last album, Design Desire, which came out in mid-2011. I checked it out and absolutely loved it: Abbe has an intense, soulful voice, and is a wicked guitar player. That album is a swirling mix of blues and rock, punctuated and punchy. I’m told her previous band, The Rockin’ Pneumonia, was very bluesy too (I like blues).

Then a few weeks ago Abbe released a new song, “Karmageddon“, from upcoming album Kiss My Apocalypse. It was fantastic too, but in quite a different way: all the reviews call her new sound doom-pop, and that’s pretty apt. It’s dark and catchy and repetitive and buzzy and sexy. I love it when artists grow, and was excited that she was adding a whole new sound to her repertoire, especially such a good sound.

When she announced a tour, with a Sydney date at tiny Goodgod Small Club, I bought tickets immediately. That show was last night.

The support act was Shy Panther. They were a group of young guys: a singer, two keyboardists/synthists, a bassist, and two drummers. They did a trip-hop sort of thing, but with perhaps jazzier influences, and lots of falsetto vocals. It was OK, but a bit distant and same-y and never really took off for me.

After they finished I got right up front in preparation for Abbe. I got a shot of the setlist as the crew taped it to the floor:


Wait a minute, I thought. I don’t recognise any songs from Design Desire on there.

Sure enough, Abbe and her band came out and played a set of songs that I presume are entirely from Kiss My Apocalypse. They were all in the same heavy, sexy, fuzzed-out vein as “Karmageddon”. There was nothing fromDesign Desire (or, I assume, any earlier albums). Abbe did not play guitar (her brother did), she only sang.

Abbe May and band

I was a little disappointed by this. This isn’t Abbe’s fault: I only found out about her recently. If I’d done so 2 years ago I’m sure I could have seen her play lots of rockin’ blues guitar shows. But she’s obviously gone in a new direction, and she’s clearly trying out her news songs in a live setting.

On the downside: On first listen none of the songs struck me as quite as good as “Karmageddon” (and the pre-recorded multi-track vocals even on that song made it impossible to tell if she was actually singing it live). There was a similarity of sound amongst the songs. The volume levels got ‘way overboard near the end, with more distortion than they intended, I think. And the band only played for about 40 minutes with no encore.

On the upside: Abbe is a powerful singer, and it was amazing to see and hear her up close. She’s not afraid to throw in lots of non-verbal vocal punctuations (“oohs”, “ahs” and yelps) for the sake of ramping up the emotion (that’s gotta help when you have a song called “Sex Tourette’s”). The songs have a pulsing, moody vibe that sticks up a middle finger to the mainstream and is yet compelling to those with a love for the groove. Her cover of The Motels’ “Total Control” was hot. And I’m certain that her parents were beside me, in front row centre (family support is nice).

Abbe May

All in all I left a little disappointed because I’d hoped to hear a mix of music from Abbe May’s already amazing output. That’s a comment on my experience, not on her capability, though, because the new songs are really creative and catchy too. Maybe after the new album comes out she’ll tour again with a mix of music old and new. Or maybe she’s cut ties with the past and is striking out in this direction, never to look back, and I missed my chance. I like it when artists move on, so I can’t whinge when they do, I guess.

New Australian music: triple j’s nominees for the Australian album of 2012

The J Awards celebrate the outstanding music of homegrown Australian artists.


+ Tame Impala – Lonerism

+ Alpine – A Is For Alpine

+ Hermitude – HyperParadise

+ Ball Park Music – Museum

+ The Rubens – The Rubens

+ Bertie Blackman – Pope Innocent X

+ Regular John – Regular John

+ Oh Mercy – Deep Heat

+ Urthboy – Smokey’s Haunt

+ The Presets – Pacifica

+ Sarah Blasko – I Awake

+ Parkway Drive – Atlas

I’ve heard something from just about all of these as a result of my heavy reliance on triple j and fbi radio. Tame Impala, The Rubens, and Oh Mercy are my faves at this stage, but I should give some of the others a better listen. Except Parkway Drive, they’re terrible.

Free the Beats

Free the Beats is an effort to compile and release Sydney-based “bedroom artists”; that is, up-and-coming music producers who are DIY and small-scale. Many probably still are making tunes from their bedrooms. If you like chilled, funky, jazzy, glitchy electronica then check out – and download for free – the three compilations to date. There are some very cool tracks in there.

The Holy Soul + The Stabs + Whipped Cream Chargers + The Maladies

fbi radio has a cool new blog (their “flog“). I just spotted an amazing gig on it, one I’ve just bought a ticket to. The headliners are The Holy Soul. And support includes two Australian bands I’ve been really excited by, The Stabsand The Maladies. All these acts for only ten bucks. That’s amazing.

Who’s in?

The Maladies – Without You By My Side Baby, The Deal Just Can’t Go Down

Another Australian band I picked up on from FBi radio is The Maladies; Imentioned them a couple of months back. I got their album – Without You By My Side Baby, The Deal Just Can’t Go Down – on the weekend.

It’s a fascinating mix of roots influences. Blues and country and gospel are the clear ones (they name-drop Dylan and Cash), but they rock in all sorts of jazzy, folky, punky ways too. “I Feel So Fine” goes through nearly all these genres in just one song; it ends so ludicrously you wonder if it was a mistake they decided to have the balls to just keep in. That’s the binding theme, pure guts and attitude and fearlessness. I love this album.

You can listen to, and download, “Song From A Hot Country” from my music Box on the right-hand side of my blog. I suggest you do.

New Weird Australia, volume 5

From Discontent, A Mixtape Blog (click the link for two qualities of download, and album notes):

New Weird Australia Volume Five, March 2010, NWA005

1. MOOKOID, Hex River Valley (3:32) from ‘Fishy’ (Pimalia)
2. DOT.AY, You Knight (5:25) previously unreleased
3. PEACE OUT!, Running On Sand, Walking On Water (4:29) from ‘Peace Out EP’ (self-released)
4. BURNING PALMS, Mockery (2:12) previously unreleased
5. THE ATLAS ROOM, Iris (5:18) previously unreleased
6. ///▲▲▲\\\, Spit Shine (2:00) previously unreleased
7. KATE CARR, Textopera (3:06) from ‘First Day Back’ (Retinascan)
8. RED PLUM & SNOW, I Would Die 4 U (2:21) previously unreleased
9. DUNS, Bad Rythm (sic) (5:47) from Cowardly Attack (c40 cassette, Willaston Tapes)
10. VORAD FILS, Temple Leak (2:42) from ‘The Warmest Static – POWWOW Ten’ (Feral Media)
11. JUSTICE YELDHAM, March Of The Bodypumpers (4:54) previously available as a Wire Magazine download
12. GAIL PRIEST, Etchings (3:22) previously unreleased
13. CAUGHT SHIP, BlackHole/SweatBeat (5:32) previously unreleased
14. CRAB SMASHER, Skin Destruction (3:58) previously unreleased
15. RIPPLES, False Mission (5:06) from ‘Ripples EP’ (self-released)
16. BLAKE FREELE, Inside There’s Expectations (8:59) previously unreleased

New Weird Australia is a not-for-profit initiative designed to promote and support new eclectic and experimental Australian music. Our current projects include a free compilation series (available to download every two months), a weekly show on Sydney’s FBi Radio and an irregular program of live events. Contributions from Australian artists are welcomed and encouraged -submission details and terms can be found at newweirdaustralia.com/about.

The Stabs – Dead Wood

A couple of months ago I blogged about Melbourne band The Stabs, and how I thought their song “No Hoper” rocked.

I picked up their latest album, Dead Wood, at Red Eye Records on the weekend. Red Eye is the sort of awesome music store I used to go to. Their selection of Australian music made it the natural place for me to find this album, and they didn’t disappoint.

Back to Dead Wood: it delivers. There’s probably not another song as furious as “No Hoper” – which you can hear and download from my music Box widget on the right-hand side of my blog page, there – but there’s lots of swagger.

It’s raw. It’s punk, it’s droning stoner garage-rock, but with the odd clear snare drum or piano bit that grabs your attention. And the bass is so dirty and heavy.

You can catch The Stabs around Oz in the next few weeks, including Sydney on 23-April.