Posts Tagged ‘Writing’

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

 

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.