Dead Letter Chorus loves Canada (and Canada loves them back)

It’s an Australian-Canadian love connection.

Some months ago Sydney band Dead Letter Chorus left warm Australia to do a chilly 6-week tour of Canada. Apparently they had a very good time. They met some local bands and wrote some songs for their next album, including one called “Covered By Snow” (you can hear it on their MySpace page). Hmm, not seeing the Canadian connection at all.

I heard some DLC tunes when I first moved here last year and liked them a lot. I caught them live at the Newtown Festival, but didn’t think their sound fit in well with the rest of the acts that day (plus, it was raining). I’d like to see them live in a more appropriate venue.

DLC are back in Oz now. But they had such a good time in the Maritimes, in my home province of Nova Scotia, and especially the northern city also named Sydney, that there’s a “Sydney-to-Sydney” exchange going on. Their Canadian touring partners, Two Hours Traffic, and Nova Scotian songwriterCarmen Townsend, are Down Under to return the favour. Isn’t that excellent?

I learned about this when I heard Townsend guesting on fbi radio‘s Tuesday noon cover-version show, Tune Up. It was a great setlist, mostly picked – and played – by Townsend.

(1) Rheostatics – The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald (Gordon Lightfoot) [Ed.: EPIC!]
(2) Carmen Townsend – Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere (Neil Young)
(3) Thom Yorke – After The Goldrush (Neil Young)
(4) The White Stripes – Jolene (Dolly Parton)
(5) Fiona Apple – Across The Universe (The Beatles)
(6) Carmen Townsend – Nothing Compares 2 U (written by Prince, popularized by Sinead O’Connor) LIVE AT FBI
(7) Bjork and PJ Harvey – (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction (The Rolling Stones)
(8) Ray Charles – Eleanor Rigby (The Beatles)
(9) Jason Walker – I Wish I Were Blind (Bruce Springsteen)
(10) Carmen Townsend – Stolen Car (Rheostatics) LIVE AT FBI
(11) The Weakerthans – Bad Time To Be Poor (Rheostatics)

Because of all of the above I’m feeling much love for the country of my birth (Canada) and my country of residence (Australia). Isn’t it nice when we all get along?

There are a couple of tour dates left: you can see them here.

Bands at the Newtown Festival

Sydney’s Newtown has a community festival each year. Live music features heavily, so I went along to check it out. I was especially keen to see a couple of acts I’d read about in TimeOut recently, The Barons of Tang and Dead Letter Office.

I missed the very start of the The Barons of Tang‘s set, but the  bit I did catch was a lot of fun. Lots of high-energy punked-up gypsy-folk, a la Gogol Bordello. “Dogs of Rotterdam” is a fun song, with lots of dynamics to keep your attention. Although the rain started, they had the crowd down front dancing. Lots of fun.

The Barons of Tang. Photo from *Insomnia via Creative Commons license

Next was a surprise: Canadian songstress Jill Barber. Her style is very mellow, very chilled-out. I thought it was a good entry for sitting on a lawn with a few thousand other people on a now dry – and increasingly sunny – Sunday afternoon. It gave everyone a chance to chill and have a cold beer and soak up the festival vibe properly.

We stuck around a bit for Dead Letter Chorus. Their gentle, country-tinged indie was well-played, but it didn’t strike the right note. They were neither rambunctious enough to get the crowd up and moving, nor happy-mellow enough to make us smile. Someone behind me said it was “dreary”. It was just misplaced, I think.

On the way out I stopped by one of the smaller stages and heard an excellent closing song from hip-hop/reggae guys Rumpunch. Loud, fun, shoutalong and catchy!

Rumpunch. Photo from chris frape via Creative Commons license

Australian music

In between looking for a job and a place to live, I’ve been trying to dip my toe into Australian music. If you look at my recent Blip.fm stream you’ll see some of the results of that dipping: a playlist of alternating older and newer Aussie rock tunes.

The classic tracks from that playlist were:

  • GANGgajang – Sounds Of Then (This Is Australia)
  • Cold Chisel – Khe Sanh
  • INXS – Original Sin
  • Pseudo Echo – Living in a Dream
  • Billy Thorpe & The Aztecs – Poison Ivy
  • Midnight Oil – Truganini
  • AC/DC – Thunder Struck

The newer bands’ tracks – some of which are brand new to me in the last few days – were:

  • Bag Raiders – Shooting Stars
  • Tame Impala – Sundown Syndrome
  • Jonathan Boulet – Ones Who Fly Twos Who Die
  • Barons of Tang – Dogs of Rotterdam
  • Dead Letter Chorus – Down In Your Valley
  • The Presets – Down Down Down
  • Wolfmother – New Moon Rising

Barons of Tang and Dead Letter Chorus are both playing at the Newtown Festival this weekend. I’m going to make an effort to catch both.