Posts Tagged ‘Blogs’

Finds

May 12, 2018

I’ve been trying. Like, for real this time, and slowly but surely one might say I am truly starting to “get the hang of things.”

I’m talking about finding and listening to new music, of course.

Here are a few that I have stumbled across, mostly by accident, which makes them that much better. My writer friend Nathan Jolly (of whom I am insanely jealous) wrote an article “on the unexpected joy of random Spotify discoveries“, and he is most definitely right. He’s also just released his second novel, so fuck that productive ambitious guy, amiright?  definitely give him a read. He’s also very prolific within the pages of Australia’s better music press, so there is a decent chance you already have.

This all started with Guided By Voices, as I was on the hunt trying to unearth more of those very special & amazing (to me) tracks that leave me stunned. Thanks to the internet, rabbit holes are now easier than ever to dive into, so it was almost immediately hit by this gem from Robert Pollard’s side project, Boston Spaceships.

It kind of swaggers like cock rock but has the shuffling nonchalance of my favourite kinds of shambolic indie, so of course I’m going to like it.  Since Spotify is like an A.I. Forrest Gump, it keeps on playing things in the same (kinda) vein, which is how I stumbled on this:

First up…how the hell had I never heard Archers Of Loaf? I mean, I heard the name years ago back in the states, but I think I must have just brushed them off because the moniker reminded me of a bastard child of Meatloaf and Captain Beefheart. Just the name, mind you, I mean….fuck it: I missed this one bad. Wait….THEY HAVE BOWLING IN THEIR VIDEO?!?!?

I could stop now and say, “that’s it I’m done”, then storm off and do something useful like take up smoking, but I feel compelled to bring this to your attention:

Yeah. That’s my kind of jam right there.

Stumbling onwards, I came across Superdrag for the first time

I have no idea where to place this in time. Is this an also-ran from the post-Nirvana label feeding frenzy? I had no idea what they looked like or how they dressed, so this video gave also gave me the idea that they were a byproduct of the pop-punk wave and missed it by a country mile. I dunno, but he goes “Yeeaaahhhh” in a way that doesn’t suck, so I kinda like it.

Also: another video from a band of white slackers featuring white folks dancing badly. This is a thing and has been for some time, but no one knows why.

Here is my personal fav from this little excursion, and another regrettable late first listen:

Everyone who knew about this song and didn’t tell me is guilty of some kind of fireable offense, because this is too good and so effortlessly cool that I am all kinds of jealous and awestruck. Further reading on the band revealed that Robyn Hitchcock was a founding member, so “What the hell music universe?!??!”

I don’t know if the rest of their stuff is any good, but it doesn’t matter: this one song is good enough for a career in my eyes.

I listened to the new Arctic Monkeys LP yesterday, called [insert overly long & pretentious LP title here], and it rather sucked. In reading some other reviews about it, mostly regurgitated and forced positive PR spin by folks who should know better, I was reminded that Liz Phair’s Exile In Guyville was recently given a deluxe re-issue.

Now, I’ll be honest: I have only heard one Liz Phair song in my entire life, and that was from a mixtape that a former partner gave me many many moons ago. So, let me apologize now for missing out on this. Beyond the Guyville LP, I am listening to the expansive Girly-Sounds demo cassettes that would form the basis for the “proper” album as well as subsequent releases. My music library is definitely a sexist cesspool of overwrought male geniuses basking in the pitiful glory of their abundant verbiage, so I am doing my best to make amends.

I will always have a thing for just an acoustic guitar & voice recorded on a 4 track, and this is great not only as a curious artifact of pop music history, but because the songs are genuinely…wait for it….good.

Verdict: old Liz Phair demos > Arctic Monkeys latest

This came to our attention via a press release last week. I remember playing a few shows with these lads many years ago, and they have just announced that they are leaving Oz and resettling in LA at the request of their new manager/filmmaker/friend, which is cool but kinda sad coz all the bands we used to know are either broken up or kinda gone from the scene in one way or another. This came with the helpful title of , “If you like The Strokes then listen to this…”, which is an honest and concise way of putting it. A lovely melody here, and top notch production, if that’s your thing. Good luck gentlemen, we hope LA treats you well.

We’ll sign off with a glorious indulgence in nepotism. If you’ve been around or known Royal Chant prior to 2015 then you would have known our lovely James Carthew on guitar, and while he is on perpetual shore leave building robots of the future in San Fransisco he is still very much a part of Royal Chant.

He is also very much doing his own things, including his band Drunk On A Bike. That was “Hugs” off their second EP, helpfully titled Oakland One, because their first EP was titled Oakland Zero, and they have just released their third EP Oakland Eleventeen Two.

It has been a real first-world struggle to get out of my musical rut and get my ears around some new music, but it’s a new habit I am trying to form and I’ll keep plodding along as always. Send me your recommendations if you’re so inclined, because I have started to take these personal suggestions much more seriously these days instead of brushing them off and then annoyingly finally listening to it 6 months later and loving just like you said I would.

Just ask James if you don’t believe me xoxo

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Coming soon: Support Our Troops, a new series of live music reviews

January 16, 2018

Music Journalism is in a weird place these days.

For starters, many would be forgiven for immediately responding with, “Music Journalism? Why hello Old Boy, I thought you were dead”, or, more likely: “Music what?!?”

It’s OK. It’s been a rough 10-20 years (by some estimations), but feel free to place the “death of music journalism” tombstone wherever you like in your own personal or global timeline. There’s probably a dearth of great music journalism out there now [editor’s note: yes, there is heaps of good music journalism out there], but I can’t be bothered to google it right now  because there’s nothing I particularly want to read about at the moment. Sometimes all you want to do is listen to the music, other times you want to know everything else about it.

Although there are a myriad of reasons that have collided to produce the modern state of the music industry (the internet, Pokemon Go!, Nickleback, etc etc), what no one really talks about is that there’s no money in the game these days In it’s glory days (eh…), at the top of it all sat the record labels, selling their overpriced wares to a public largely held  hostage. Labels essentially functioned like banks who specialized in making high-interest speculative loans in the music industry, with “artists” functioning like tech stocks. So many to choose from, all with so much potential, yet most ultimately doomed to failure and perhaps even suffer the further ignominy of having their ideas co-opted by inferior products.

So…labels would place as many bets as they could, and hopefully a few would pay off big time. These big labels and their rare big winners wound up essentially funding the entire industry, because what no one tells you when you’ve got rock & roll dreams is that boring things like advertising dollars and bottom lines actually matter. You can run a cool ‘zine for a few months, maybe even years, on nothing more than passion and raiding your parents inkjet supplies, but eventually that shit gets old.  Not only that, many of your favourite underground bands who managed to sign on major labels were able to add some coveted artistic cred to the label roster and allowed to run at a loss, but only because theyhad a Britney Spears to make sure the cheques cleared. I would hate Fleetwood Mac with a passion if I wasn’t so apathetic, but even I have to tip my hat to the number of careers their platinum-selling albums helped fuel.

As far as my own experience, I started noticing the change a few years ago, when publications that we would normally be grateful to get a gig mention or album blurb from starting calling us to see if we wanted to buy advertising space. Us? Um….we’re broke. At no point in our lives have we had spare dollars to throw around for that sort of thing, and trust us when we say that it is not cheap. They’re pitching these packages to us and surely they must know that there’s not a chance in hell we can say yes to anything, yet here we are.

What happened?

The money dried up.

With advertising revenues way down, it wound up having a trickle down effect on the music and music journalism. For better or worse, much of what you read is a form of “pay-to-play”, meaning that if you want coverage you’re gonna have to pay for it. Now, we are not opposed to this necessarily, but we did notice that live reviews and album reviews were focusing more and more on those acts that really don’t need it. At all. Why were they getting it? Because just like the ever-increasing income gap, there were fewer and fewer acts that could actually afford to grease the wheels, either through purchasing advertising space or else through direct purchase of coverage.

And that right there is what we simply cannot abide. No one needs to read a live review of a Jimmy Barnes show. Everyone knows what they’re getting with at another show with Barnsey, so can we please donate some verbiage to the acts who actually need it? Honest, unscripted press devoted to the unknowns of Australia’s live music scene has taken a hit in recent years, so we’re going to try and do our part to pick up the slack.

So that’s where this new series/endeavor comes in. “Support Our Troops” (an idea I stole from Atlanta’s Stomp & Stammer), will be my own live reviews of bands we tour with, because let’s face it: if I’m not actually playing I’m not likely to be there. I actually started writing a few of these in the middle of last year, but of course I gave up because that’s what I learned from my suburban-white-bread upbringing. When the going gets tough, fuck it.

So….if all goes as planned, I should have my first installment up tomorrow, covering a show which, truth be told, doesn’t need any more coverage.  But, since I’m going to at least try and follow a few basic ground rules, I’ll give it a go. I may also get it together enough to dust off some of my few false starts from last year, so don’t be surprised if you wind up reading a live review for a gig that happened 6-12 months ago.

That’s all from here, more verbs to come soon enough xoxo

 

Sigh

December 16, 2015

This is a sad little blog these days. I came here to do a little bit of tidying up and it was the equivalent of coming home late to dinner to find out that it is your anniversary and dinner is cold. 7 years. That’s how long this pile of verbiage has been around, at least according to the stats or whatever guilt meter wordpress uses to keep track of things.

But that’s gonna change.

I’m changing.

I swear.

A blog about blogs….part I

June 25, 2010

Bonjour!  G’day…..

That’s enough of that. I’m merely stretching my nearly non-existent international tongue and that’s as far as I got.

I have just returned from a reasonably lengthy time on the road and in the studio, and during the countless idle hours I collected a few ideas and notions that seemed at least marginally worth sharing.  Since I have some free time on my hands at long last I thought I might as well get down to it instead of putting it off and into the never-ending and ever growing list of “things to do”.  I looked at the list recently, and it includes such helpful notes as “write a hit song”, “write a frantic song in 6/4”, “re-write lyrics to ‘Flowers Return'”, “Love & Distance” (what the ?????), all scattered amongst set lists, laundry lists, & grocery lists.

I don’t know why, but I had the notion of sharing some of the blogs that I keep my eye on , for reasons entirely my own.  For starters, I must disclaim that I universally HATE 99.9% of music blogs.  I’m sure they were quite nice at some point, and maybe some still are.  But I want my blogs to be like an old fashioned fan ‘zine, not some rolling press machine.  Maybe I’m scarred from the countless hours spent and words shed on behalf of my band, or maybe I’ve been jaded because I noticed that they’re all talking about the same thing. Maybe I really don’t like music after all and am in denial. The only music blogs I DO like tend to be both highly personal and hype-free.  You can tell when someone is doing it alone and really likes their music with passion and individual taste versus blogs that have a clever title and a group of clever contributors and ads and writing that spews cynicism, bad jokes, shallow irony, and complete lack of imagination.  In my head there is a music blog pyramid where all the too-trendy music news starts with Pitchfork and repeats itself in an exponentially diminishing fashion until you just can’t care anymore, assuming you even wanted to in the first place.

However, in my search for blogs to contact I have found a few that I keep close to my heart.  The first is The Devil Has The Best Tuna.  I won’t divulge the author’s real name (not that it’s a big secret), but The Devil has a few things that endear him to me.  The first is that he rarely, if ever, features bands that are making the headlines, instead digging amongst the trenches in a slow and steady manner to bring new bands out to meet the public.  I don’t know what his readership is, but I imagine the numbers to be above average.  Like a librarian, he has a kindly habit of making honest and insightful comparisons & contrasts to better known bands, but not in a condescending or “I figured YOU guys out” way.  It seems to be driven from a listener’s perspective instead of the musical snobbery that is the norm.  Check it out and find some new music, sans hype.

It was during one of those eye dulling and spirit destroying trolling sessions in the middle of the night that I happened to stumble upon A Sweet Unrest, and it was like finding an blessed Irish glade in the middle of Times Square.  There’s something calming about this site, for reasons I can’t entirely explain.  The author shares her thoughts on a mix of music, poetry, & literature that follows her own whimsy like a leaf in the breeze, and that is a relief and rarity.  No hype and no agenda other than the sharing of small pieces that enrich her own world.  I was so surprised when I found the site that I filed it under my “literature” bookmarks instead of my normal “music blogs”.  It’s oddly pleasing to know that poetry lives on and touches people outside of academia, which is where it seems to have been trapped for the last 30 or so years.  That and poetry slams.  Check out the site and breathe for a moment.  It’s like yoga, but no one has to watch you doing it.

I find it hard to keep track of the world without finding myself wrapped up and caring about it.  I’m trying to cultivate a healthy curiosity about world news and politics, and perhaps the biggest asset that I have going for me is that I live in Australia and am no longer immersed in the world of U.S. news bytes.  I can filter things out as much as I like.  With that in mind, I have stumbled upon Unreasonable Faith.  Although it is an atheist blog, it is curious in that it was started by a former evangelical Christian, so there is a fair amount of social commentary along with the occasional political excursion.  It’s not a hard-core atheist site, so it tends to be about exposing idiocy and injustice.  It is also incredibly funny, so maybe I should confess and say that it speaks a language that I can understand.

This isn’t ALL I look at, but it’s not far from it.  Everything else is too common or repetitive for my tastes, but that’s not to say there aren’t heaps of good ones.  It’s just that I don’t care and don’t have the time to keep track of anything else.  Sometimes I’ll visit the New York Times online, but that’s not worth mentioning.

In case you need a laugh, I will leave you with Christian Nightmares.

I had more to share, but I can’t bring myself to type at the moment…..so much for my thrust of “can-do” attitude.  More later, perhaps….