Posts Tagged ‘Writing’

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

 

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Pride & Poverty

January 13, 2018

[apologies to my long-suffering blog. I feel like a neglectful parent. So much to write, and yet…]

I guess it doesn’t matter much anyways, as the next post was always going to be this post, which was always going to be about our new record. Over the months there were many things I thought I might write about, but in retrospect I see how much this record consumed my life and yeah, of course nothing got done. So here we are, once again.

Pride & Poverty

YOU ARE HERE

What started as 12 songs has now become 7, because things happen and plans change and ideas that once seemed brilliant suddenly appear as horribly ill-conceived howlers. In the end we are left with a disposable monument that declares: these are some things we thought and this is the best we could express them.

More verbiage is not going to sway anyone’s mind in this day and age (if it ever could), so we decided to take as much control of our music as possible. Rather than lament what is not happening at the hands of other people, we decided to do whatever was within our powers to affect, create, or shape our little universe. Instead of hassling & hustling for meager radio plays that no one hears, or moaning about other bands “getting” what we think we deserve, we channeled our energy into things we could control and into all the various accoutrements surrounding the songs and the record. The artwork comes from the hand of our talented bassist Adam Murray. The layout was kept in-house, thanks to our guitarist (on shore leave) James Carthew. And instead of paying money-we-don’t-have for PR and expensive film clips, we did them all ourselves.

RC 11 B & W

DIY PINUPS

And that’s it. Here is our new record, laid out in 7 clips from the DIY heart of Australia’s underground. We hope you enjoy.

..:: ROYAL CHANT – PRIDE & POVERTY ::..

1. Power Pose
AN ODE TO ACTIVE WEAR

2. Shooting Sparrows

3. Back To Front
SHRED TIL YA DEAD

4. I Get A Kick Out Of Being Kicked Around By You

5. Cargo Cults

6. Yada Yada Yada

7. Slowly, To The End

And with that, we ask ourselves: what next?

Of course we don’t have much of an idea, but it will likely be more of the same, in due time.

For now, we’re at that point in our trajectory where we’re too old, too proud, & too lazy to keep asking our fans to participate or initiate a never-ending obstacle course of promotion on our behalf. Not only is it annoying to all involved, it’s also downright embarrassing, (and a bit sad). All we want to do is make music, and we assume that the listener would rather just, you know: listen to music, instead of texting and sharing and tweeting into the void.

In the spirit of simplification, and as a reflection of the new landscape of the modern digital music biz, we thought it worth mentioning that the easiest way to support us or any other band you love is by following us on Spotify.

That’s it.

We’re heading out to play some shows around Australia, (because of course), so come out and have a shake with us if we make it to your neck of the woods.

Holler back if it’s been a while, and I promise to write more soon.

xoxo

 

Inventing Colloquialisms

September 6, 2017

So….Royal Chant have a new single out, because of course we do. It’s called “Shooting Sparrows”. One student hanging around at school asked me what the title “Shooting Sparrows” meant, to which I promptly replied, “I don’t know”, which is, of course, the only answer one should give when asked about the meaning of anything.

We all have our pet peeves (some more than others), but as a songwriter, telling someone the “meaning” of a song rather defeats the point of writing it in the first place.
Don’t. Do. It.

Singer/Songwriters are probably the most guilty of doing this, as they often perform in small, intimate settings, often in venues devoted to acoustic music or in “songwriters in the round”-type settings, where basically you have to get up there and talk about your songs or share some funny story or explain the irony or witticism behind the title, or whatever: it’s just a shit show.

The 90s probably made things even worse, with everybody getting “unplugged” and the Indigo Girls, Shawn Mullins, Alanis Morissette, and Jewel not only setting their diaries to song but going out of their way to explain what everything means in a helpful pre-song presentation, just in case you got confused and decided to use your imagination.

The term “Shooting Sparrows” doesn’t mean anything that I know of. I think I was trying to lean on some Southern flavour in a “To Kill A Mockingbird” kind of way, but I’m not even sure if they HAVE sparrows in the South. The original line was from another song I wrote over 10 years ago that went:

I’d sooner shoot at sparrows than be kept away from you

That song wasn’t all that good. Maybe this new one isn’t much better. I have no idea, but I invented a phrase that has no meaning but sounds like it might, and that will do for now.

Of course you can hear this meaningless colloquialism of my own invention everywhere and in every way that people are still doing the music thing these days. Downloads, streams….anything but an actual record.

That’s how we do it in Vegas xoxo

All The Joy In The World

June 5, 2017

Falling down the hill
with a smile on your face
and all the joy in the world
in a brown paper bag.

Spare your pity, and some change
all the universe is solved.

I Get A Kick Out Of Being Kicked Around By You

April 19, 2017

Nobody pays, nobody minds
Everyone’s game every once in a while
You radium girls, that’s quite a smile
Nobody came, and nobody tried

I gave you my heart and you gave me the boot
I get a kick out of being kicked around by you
I get a kick out of being kicked around by you

What would you trade to taste it all?
We got a day to waste and a bottle of panadol
What would you pay for some piece of mind?
Nobody came, and nobody smiles

I gave you my heart and you gave me the boot
I get a kick out of being kicked around by you
I get a kick out of being kicked around by you

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Good morning,

I should be out surfing, being the holidays and all and given how much I complain, but it seems a bit on the cold side, so I’m going to wait just one more minute, just one more cup of tea. I’m gonna go, I swear.

While I’m in this holding pattern, now is as good a time as any to let you know we’ve got another new single out, and it’s short and sweet and doing about as well as most Royal Chant singles seem to do (read: not well enough).

Our bassist, Adam Murray, came up with a film clip for it using old Super-8 footage from his parents and violá: we have another small piece of noise to add to the monstrosity this is, has always been, and always will be the “music industry”.

 

As usual, you can grab it for free from Bandcamp

Or maybe SoundCloud is your thing….

Or, if you wanted to be a super trooper you could hop on over to our Triple-J Unearthed page and get it that way. If we thought it would work we could try and bribe you into leaving a review or rate it to help us keep up with the young whipper snappers (let’s face it: Royal Chant ain’t exactly a collection of Spring chickens anymore, if we ever were in the first place), because HOLY HELL HAVE YOU SEEN HOW MANY PLAYS AND LIKES AND REVIEWS AND SHARES THESE YOUNG BANDS HAVE?!?!?! I’m so happy for them I stand in awe, then shame, then quietly sneak out while everyone politely looks away.

https://www.triplejunearthed.com/embed/5860751

And that, as we say in the business (claps hands), is how it’s done.

We’ve got some more dates to keep us busy until the end of May, and then it’s time to rest, collect our marbles, and get the record ready so we can do it all again.

.:: Royal Chant Tour Dates ::..

Saturday, April 22 – Meatstock Melbourne
Saturday, April 22, Retreat Hotel, Melbourne
Sunday, April 23 – Meatstock Melbourne

Friday, May 5 – Vic On The Park (Sydney) w/Fingermae
Saturday, May 6 – Meatstock Sydney

Sunday, May 7 – Meatstock Sydney

Saturday, May 20 – Ric’s (Brisbane)

Friday, May 26 – Town Hall Hotel (Sydney) w/Wasters
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

That’s all the news from here. Remember: nobody pays, nobody minds

xoxo

-M

OMG! Are you on Facebook? coz we’re on Facebook, and we should, like, totally be friends.

With all the time in the world

November 14, 2016

With all the time in the world, and love
and an endless sea to gaze upon
when I was a temporary gentleman.

 

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.

Shocked & Shaking

May 2, 2015

I don’t know if it happens to everyone, but do you ever get those phases of sheer music fatigue? It’s not as if you’ve fallen out of love with your favourite music, but it’s just those rare times when everything loved & familiar suddenly become too familiar? It may only last an hour or a few days, (although I do recall one friend who seemed struck by the apathy virus for a few months), but either way it both a sign and symptom of weakened spirits that only compounds the problem.  If music is your bedrock, best friend, & bible, how cruel is it to be unable to turn to it when you need it most.

Of course I am well aware that “there is a world of music out there at your fingertips”, and this is certainly not a post about how “there just isn’t any good music out there!”. That’s complete rubbish, as anyone involved with music in any way, shape, or form can attest. The problem is simply that sometimes you don’t have it right here and now. Sometimes we find music, sometimes it finds you, and sometimes those paths are circuitous and meandering since we all don’t have access to an amazing radio station or a best friend or an older sibling to guide us in this wide world of musical thorns and wilderness.

And really, this has been one long introduction when all I really meant to say is that I stumbled across a song that has shaken me to the core and made all of the above somewhat irrelevant. I don’t know how long I’ll feel this buzz, but it’s wonderful while it lasts, and it’s amazing that when your spirit gets shaken out of its slumber that the rediscovered rosy glow is cast over your entire world, INCLUDING YOUR RECORD COLLECTION THAT YOU WERE JUST MOANING ABOUT.  Like a music rebirth or sonic baptism, all is right with the world.  All it took was the right kick and you were away and running.

I was wasting time over at Grantland, which would seem somewhat odd since I don’t much like Sports and have little idea about what constitutes Pop Culture, but….they seem to write about it so well.  Writer Steven Hyden had a piece on Titus Andronicus which I initially didn’t click because I’m a jerk (and probably jealous in some irrational way even though I’d not heard much of the band aside from the name), but once I had read anything that looked like it might interest me, and then everything else, I eventually got hit over the head with this:

What does one say to that? I wanted to hug the band. I wanted hug Steve Hyden.  I wound up hugging the cat instead, and then just sat there in awe, reeling in the beauty and steeped in envy. A simple (but amazingly clever) song, a simple  (But cleverly amazing) video that brings the brilliant verbal barrage to the front, and a voice that punches and aches at the same time.  The second verse killed me to the point that I felt like a helpless fraud. I don’t want to dissect it much more than that, because it’s enough that it just is. 

It’s hard to say why this song made me so happy, not just because of the thing itself, but I suspect it’s because I find comfort in knowing that people are still writing songs like this and are unafraid to say it in such a straightforward manner.  Instead of couching ourselves in modesty and self-deprecation (whether real or not), it would be nice to simply say Yes: this is me and this is it.

On a final note, I felt like a complete tool for not knowing what the term “Dimed Out” meant, but thankfully by the end of the song they had explained it so easily and obviously that even I managed to get it. That’s rare.

Land Sale

February 10, 2015

Pristine acres of mud
neatly sliced & cut
with promise and price-tags adorned.

A parade, a school band,
rambling speeches galore
with all the best clichés.

This new part of town:
a beautiful creation,
surgically envisioned.

Still, they eat & clap & eat
the sumptuous tasteless catering
accept a few brochures
and make nice with their new neighbors.

Later, they turn their heads
and in a stage whisper say
-it looks nice, but still rough.

Give it time.
Soon enough.

Taking its sweet time like the cracks
that appear for a brief glimpse,
not long before no single soul can recall
a state of affairs as anything but.

Give it time.
Soon enough.

A quiet street
for the wrong reasons
with rust and junk,
busted windows and faces,
and bored hungry dogs that know enough
to wait. It will come.

Give it time.
Soon enough.

A slight curve at the end of the street
she used to stand and wave
always in the sun, it seemed
her face as bright as the beams
that kissed her skin and laughing teeth.
Things change.

Give it time.
Soon enough.

Now she doesn’t wave,
but hangs her darkened eyes
and shivers despite being wrapped tight
in a cloak of the modern world’s making.

Give it time.
Soon enough.

It will come.

 

 

Old Skool

November 24, 2014

Sometimes it just hits.

Not inspiration, but that something even better….someone else making/doing/singing/being something that strikes you.

This is “Love Shows” by a band/artist/entity called The Gaze. As of right now, she/they have 86 FB likes. That means nothing good nor bad, it just is.  I stumbled upon this piece of perfection on the new Spring Fling 2014 Compilation put out by the fledgling Sydney label Electric Sun Records. [FULL DISCLOSURE: RC’s “I Remember Crescent City” is track #7 on the CD, and “Love Shows” is #8.  It’s not a stretch how I might have found it….coz yeah, I have an ego and get drunk and listen to my own music.]

So there I am, driving along in my usual disgruntled skin, and then this comes on.  I have probably listened to this track 50 times already in a very short period of time, in skies sunny and drear, hours early and late, and I don’t care. I love it. It is 2 minutes and 18 seconds of right on.

I can sing along to every line of this song, but if you asked me to repeat a lyric at random I don’t think I could spit a single syllable. I only know it when it’s on.

In one of my weird moods, I decided to write down the lyrics. That’s what I used to do (and still do, in fact), when I wanted to learn a song.  Rather than look up the chords &/or lyrics on the google machine I used to listen to a song over and over and over and transcribe the chords and lyrics as best I could.  Sometimes I got very close.  Sometimes I got things very, very wrong.  No matter what, I always got closer to the song.

Love Shows
by The Gaze

Heartbreak answers to so many different names
I’d love you if you’d only stayed the same
I studied you until I learnt the game
and sometimes a flame is just a flame
I knew just what it took to make you smile
I haven’t felt that urge for quite a while
I pushed coz I needed to see you cry
I pushed just to see if you’d push me back

Hope grows, only love shows
Love grows, only hope shows

In the end, somebody always pays
It can come out in so many different ways
I was looking for somebody new to blame
When it all falls down it’s such a shame

Hope grows, only love shows
Love grows, only hope shows

I can feel that I’m pushing you away
Though I made up my mind to try and stay
Heartbreak lingers love can creep away
I’m not sure I remember you anyway

Hope grows, only love shows
Love grows, only hope shows

That is all. I found this song and I like it rather much. Let me know what you think, but even more, let them know if it moves you too.

It’s time for bed, so I will catch you all laterzzzzzzz…..

-M