Sunday, April 30, 2006

Neil Young: Heart Of Gold/Living With War

Neil Young: Heart Of Gold finally gets a cinema release in Australia on May 11th. Also, Young's new album, Living With War, is now streaming from his official site, Neil's Garage.

...and this blog is quickly turning into the "Comic Reel Wrap" column at Comic Book Resources. All I seem to talk about are films and DVDs. Still, Jonathan Demme's little movie about Neil Young, and his concerts last year at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, is finally getting a release. Word is the Australian distributors wanted to go straight to DVD. In this day and age, I almost wouldn't mind. Let's face it, I'm going to buy this DVD when it comes out anyway.

It's a busy year for Neil. His new album, Living With War, is streaming from his official site and is out digitally in a couple of days (US time) and the CD version not long after (though no Australian date has been set). You can find more info at Neil Young News but basically it's a hastily written and recorded attack on conservative America. And it's FAR BETTER than I imagined.

And hopefully the year will wrap up with the long awaited, 8 DVD Archives set. Oh let it be yes.

SITE: Heart Of Gold @
SITE: Neil's Garage
SITE: Neil Young News

Saturday, April 29, 2006

The Minutemen: We Jam Econo on DVD...

We Jam Econo, the documentary about the Minutemen, is finally released on DVD on June 27th. Details of the release is on their website and it looks like a pretty indie venture.
The flyer above was for a preview screening organised by a bunch of punk loving kids in a space in Surry Hills that was hot, with bad air flow, not enough seats and lets not even think about permits and stuff. But it was fantastic. Lots of people there, just ready to see what this film had to say about the Minutemen, whose core was two losers who were just too naive to figure out how to fit in.
The movie is great. Mike Watt, currently playing bass for the Stooges, is the possible ADD victim I thought he was, randomly jumping from story to story. It's like he's having way too many ideas for his mouth to keep up. D. Boon is the other end of the spectrum. Very articulate. Very intellegent. Very funny looking when he was jumping up and down. Lots of interview footage, lots od live footage, archival interviews with no cleaning up of the story or the film stock even.
More can be said here about how it captures a great moment in American music, how this band was an influence on Uncle Tupelo and how Bonnie Prince Billy covered It's Expected I'm Gone - but spend 90 minutes of your life watching this movie one day. Even if you don't like the music, and so few do, you can't help but walk away with the vibe, that D. lived and breathed. That music was a life changing thing, and sticking to your guns was natural, and you answer to no one.
There is a fantastic chapter on the Minutemen in Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground, 1981-1991 by Michael Azerrad (ISBN 0-316-78753-1). It is a great book anyway and who the fuck did I lend this to? I can't find my copy.

SITE: We Jam Econo - The Story Of the Minutemen - offical site

MP3: The Minutemen - History Lesson Part II
- From the double album Double Nickels On A Dime (SST, 1989) - buy here

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Elliott Smith: A Best Of...?

A friend recently played me highlights of his own, personal, best of Elliott Smith. 24 tracks. Lots of things had to be cut obviously.

Things that came out of our little chat:

* I still don't know the first album very well. The nameless songs drive my head in.
* Neither of us own any Heatmiser.
* My friend liked the rockers a fair bit more than I do.
* It took us a while to really appreciate Basement... for what it was without thinking of Elliott Smith's passing.
* Ballad Of Big Nothing can be performed in standard tuning, in C.

Of course, the real best of will come out, and soon. Someone's looking at the licensing I'm sure. There's enough minor hits to jusitfy it - Waltz #2, Son of Sam and of course Miss Misery herself. Throw in a couple of the random covers that ended up on soundtracks, the odd Heatmiser track, and presto! And let's face it, the world is not about to run out of skinny, angry, depressed 19 year olds. And god dammit, there's worst things that are discounted to $20 come christmas. Truck this stuff out by the tonne. Get the kids away from their bloody Simple Plan and find some real pain. And even though I have all the tracks I'm sure I'll be picking up a copy too.

Aside: I had a quick browse of Sweet Adeline to write the above ramble. Good to see it's still going. I used to visit this site every day. I also came across a great site of Elliott b-sides on mp3.

SITE: Sweet Adeline
SITE: Elliott Smith B-Sides

MP3: Elliott Smith - Trouble
- From the soundtrack to the film Thumbsucker (Hollywood, 2005). This is a cover of a Cat Stevens song recorded during the Basement... sessions.

MP3: Elliott Smith - Ballad Of Big Nothing
- From the album Either/Or (Kill Rock Stars, 1997)

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Crustaceans: I'm Happy If You're Happy

The Crustaceans are a Sydney pop band who have been around for a few years now. I've always liked them, but with so much coming out at the end of the calender year, their album I'm Happy If You're Happy, on got a few plays before I moved on, probably back to the Magic Numbers album or something. Sorry guys.

I finally got around to giving this album some time yesterday and just fell in love. It's almost alarmingly fun. It's pop, it's witty, it's catchy and it's clever. (Which is, of course, the worst thing about pop. It's rash-like qualities. And sometimes it's too smart arsey for it's own good.)

But the Crustaceans manage to avoid that. There is some nice stuff going on along with the silliness. And at least it's not po-faced songwriters with no humour. Telecaster, the first track, was a single, and I know it divided some people. It's clever, but it's also fun, a crazy fanatsy. Who else is writing songs like this? No one. That alone makes it special.

I'm just rambling here. But I really like this album. Their website seems to be down (redirecting to their label site?) and there are no upcoming gigs I can find. Oh well.


MP3: The Crustaceans - Telecaster
- From the album I'm Happy If You're Happy (Popboomerang, 2005)

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man

I'm not going to pretend I know very much about this man. So I hope I don't deeply offend any Cohen fans out there. I really haven't given him the time he is due. Here's what I do know:

* He looks a bit like Leonard Nimoy, and the first name thing confused me for a while as kid.
* He usually looks cool despite the point above.
* Like a billion other people, I love Jeff Buckely's version of Hallelujah, and my first real exposure to Cohen. That's one pretty song.
* I caught the clip for First We Take Manhattan on Rage once and it's gorgeous and scary and a bit like Seventh Seal.
* Ween parodied the cover of his Greatest Hits
* He worked with Phil Spector
* I don't think I've heard more good things about a single show in my life than Came So Far For Beauty, the tribute to Cohen that was put on by the Sydney Festival two years back.
* I've just been thinking about getting a nylon string acoustic guitar and someone recommended I revisit old Leonard.

So this morning I'm treated to news of this movie and the trailer. It features footage from the Came So Far For Beauty shows, with Beth Orton, Jarvis Cocker, Antony, and other performances by U2 and others. So maybe now it's my chance with Leonard. I'm such a doco junkie.

I can't really recommend a place to start with Cohen with much authority, but I love Suzanne and it's a pretty important song for him so there you go.

SITE: Trailer for Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man
SITE: Leonard

MP3: Leonard Cohen - Suzanne
- From Greatest Hits (Columbia, 1975)

Monday, April 24, 2006

The Only Ones: More Songs About Girls And Planets

You get to a certain age I think, and you just have to get some sort of punk era singles compilation. For me, it was EMI's Best Punk Album In the World Ever, a 2CD set I still own and it's cover was roughly modeled on the Sex Pistol's Never Mind the Bollocks. And it is out of this world. It exposed me to some of the best songs I've ever heard - Teenage Kicks, Ever Fallen In Love..., Marquee Moon. And some guys named the Ramones and some guy named Elvis Costello (but where is the Clash?).

But the best song on it, the one on CONSTANT (and I mean constant) repeat was Another Girl, Another Planet by the Only Ones. To this day, it is still the greatest song ever. If pressed by a stranger who seems to have a little bit of music knowledge about what my favourite song is, I would choose this (and Better Be Home Soon if it's just at a dinner party or something). Look, it has the greatest guitars, great singing, great lyrics, sing-along bits, it's short, sharp, funny, heart breaking, achingly romantic and even a little science fiction and lesbianism thrown in. To summarise: it rules.

And you know, I've still never seen the film clip to this song. Apparently it's great. Further investigation and rummaging through friends records I discovered the song is on an album called Special View. It had a great cover. The band looked great on it. I nabbed a CD copy and to this day I'm still looking for it on vinyl.

The band was fronted by Peter Perrett - "the junkie Oscar Wilde" - who looked just like how I wanted a rock star to look. I hopeless romantic, a voice that screamed 'I don't care'. Before Another Girl, Another Planet, the band released a fantastic single on their own label called Lovers Of Today. But they were more than punk, as showcased on the first track of their debut album, the lovely ballad The Whole Of the Law. I loved AGAP the song, but The Whole Of the Law won me over with the band. Obviously, these guys went on to inspire bands like the Replacements, as opposed to the Living End. I will argue til I'm blue in the face that there is more to this band than one song.

There have been efforts to revive their critical standing over the years. The latest angle is that Perrett's kids are in the Babyshambles. But their 3 albums bombed pretty badly, their catalogue is in disarray, and Perrett is not about to promote himself. Still, bands cover Another Girl, Another Planet to this day. It even appeared on the last Blink 182 Greatest Hits. Find the original on your closest Punk era compilation. Or check out Special View, their best album (and yes I know it's not really an album) and if you're still sticking with me here grab Why Don't You Kill Yourself? The Complete CBS Recordings, which is everything over 2 discs with a horrid cover but great liner notes, and then come around to my house and we'll air guitar to some vinyl only bootleg stuff.

MP3: The Only Ones - Lovers Of Today
- From the album Special View (CBS, 1979)
MP3: The Only Ones - The Whole Of the Law

- From the album Special View (CBS, 1979)

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Jon Brion: Boogie Nights, etc

I finally watched PT Anderson's wonderful movie Boogie Nights (1997). Anderson is almost famous for Magnolia (1999) and Punch Drunk Love (2002), two movies I love very much. The music in Anderson's movies are always fantastic, and for the last two, it's in a large part due to Mr Jon Brion.

For those who might don't know, Jon Brion is a pop extraordinaire. In fact, he just hit pay dirt with Kanye West, the hottest musician on the planet, as Brion produced a majority of his new album Late Registration. Other productions include the Finn Brothers, Aimee Mann, Beck, Evan Dando, Elliott Smith, Badly Drawn Boy, Rhett Miller, Fiona Apple and more. He's also a performer in his own right - he's been going strong for I think almost ten years, a Friday night residency at the LA club Largo.

It seems last, but not least, is Brion's own solo work. He has one independant solo album to date - Meaningless - which was recorded for a major label but rejected. Most of the soundtracks he works on has at least one original composition. There's talk of a second solo album, but it's mainly talk.

Brion comes to mind today not only because Meaningless has been getting continous play 'round these parts for the last week, but it turens out that in the scene in Boogie Nights where Dirk Diggler accepts his prizes during the Adult Film Awards, it's Jon Brion fronting the band that is supplying the music.

Meaningless is somewhat hard to get. But well worth it. It will go down in history as something like the first Emitt Rhodes album. A classic lost pop record. As for his soundtrack stuff - none is more beautiful than the song he wrote for Punch Drunk Love, Here We Go.

SITE: Jon Brion's Official Site

MP3: Jon Brion - I Believe She's Lying
- From the album Meaningless (independent, 2000)
MP3: Jon Brion - Here We Go
- From the original motion picture soundtrack Punch Drunk Love (Nonesuch, 2002)

Hawksley Workman - Live At the Vanguard

Hawksley Workman perforrmed at the Vanguard in Newtown on 24/05/06.

Now, Hawksley Workman is someone I knew barely anything about. I heard good things from a few people. And he was fantastic.

The closest comparison I can make for the Canadian singer is Tom Waits. But with a Jeff Buckley voice (cliche I know). Great storyteller, great rainy, lonely songs. And a great guitar player. He really looked like he crawled out of New Orleans.

No music yet, but I'll track some down very soon. There are some videos on his site

SITE: Hawksley Workman Official Site

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Stardust Five: Live at the Annandale Hotel

Stardust Five performed on 22/04/06 at the Annandale Hotel in Sydney. It's the new side project fronted by Paul Kelly, with Pete and Dan Luscombe, Bill McDonald and Dan Kelly, all along for the ride.

This line-up was the band behind possibly my favourite Paul Kelly album - Ways & Means. But this album is very different. It's a monkier for their sonic experiments and soundtrack ideas. Really, these guys should be old enough to know better! Paul Kelly is right up there with Elvis Costello when it comes to a thirts for creating, and for something new.

So is it any good? Well, it's not bad. Some of the songs on the self titled Stardust Five album sound great, but very few actual songs. It's not something I imagine I will return to often. Live, the show was another beast. The complexity of the songs, the performances, all came through. I'll admit, I wavered there for a bit, but watching the Luscombes go at it was pretty amazing. They also performed some material intended for the new Paul Kelly album, and a Dan Kelly sung version of the Magnetic Fields I Don't Want To Get Over You - one of my favourite Magnetic Fields songs.

If you haven't heard Ways & Means, then rush out and get it. It's a double record, and it's floating around for cheap at the moment. It's like the best Mermaid Avenue album. Soulful and playful, a bunch of musicians on fire singing what Kelly described as "Love Gone Right" songs. I can't wait to hear this band tackle a new bunch of 'proper' Paul Kelly songs.

SITE: Stardust Five - official site
SITE: Dumb Things - Official Website of Paul Kelly

MP3: Stardust Five - Things We Said In the Dark
- From the album Stardust Five (Capitol, 2006)
MP3: Paul Kelly - You Broke A Beautiful Thing
- From the double album Ways & Means (Capitol, 2003)

Friday, April 21, 2006

Darren Hanlon: Live at @Newtown

Darren Hanlon is performed on 21/04/06 at the terribly named @Newtown venue. For those unfamiliar, Hanlon is a Sydney songwriter, roughly from the same school as artists like Jonathan Richman, who first came to prominence with a couple of quirky pop songs. A witty man, a performing natural, and, as I discussed on the weekend, there is a magical shine on his first EP (Early Days) and first album (Hello Stranger).

Then came Little Chills from a couple of years ago. For a man who once said he would bring a new song to every tour, it was a long time coming, and it must be said, slim pickings on first listen. It lacked the energy of his earlier works. It was sombre. It was SERIOUS. And after a good year of still seeing shows and coming back to the record, it's also fantastic. It's not, say, Room On Fire.

I am a big fan, and after seeing him so many shows, it's the Little Chills songs. Unfortunately, he only does a handful of them now. The best of the lot - I Wish I Was Beautiful For You - always gets an airing though. A beautiful paean to physical insecurites, but love anyway.

Most importantly, there was a handful of new songs performed. A song about living on people's couches, and full band versions of two tracks on the latest Candle Records Sampler, Hamper (out now) - Happiness Is A Chemical and My Life A Blur. The album is apparently finished and will be out later this year. I also keep forgetting to purchase the Candle Records DVD with a live gig of Darren's. It's going straight to the want list.

SITE: Darren Hanlon - official site
SITE: Candle Records

MP3: Darren Hanlon - Beta Losers
- Original version from the compilation Banter (Candle Records, 1999)
MP3: Darren Hanlon - I Wish I Was Beautiful For You
- From the album Little Chills (Candle Records, 2004)

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Beth Orton: Live At the Enmore Theatre

Beth Orton performed last night (20/04/06) at the Enmore Theatre in Sydney. She came on with a great, smooth, slow version of Absinthe, a track from her new album, Comfort Of Strangers, and it was all uphill from there.

Comfort Of Strangers is an odd sounding album. It sounds like Jim O'Rourke's solo stuff, there's a hypnotic steaduness, or maybe it's just mastered badly. Butlive, the new songs pumped with energy.

I kept thinking the bassplayer looked familiar and it finally hit me a few songs in - it was Leroy Bach, formerly of Wilco.

The title track of her new album was a definite highlight. Classics like Stolen Car and Somebody's Daughter still sounded sweet. And she was still a gorgeous human being in all senses.

SITE: Beth Orton - official site
SITE: Beth Orton @ Astralwerks

MP3: Beth Orton - Couldn't Cause Me Any Harm
- From the album Central Reservations (Heavenly, 1999)

MP3: Beth Orton - Heartland Truckstop
- From the album Comfort of Strangers (Astralwerks, 2006)

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Peabody: He's Heading Unto Zion

l-r: Ben Chamie, Bruno Brayovic, Graeme Trewin

This email went out today:

Dear Peabody enthusiast,
Please read the following electronic mail from one Graeme Trewin.
It is with a great deal of sadness and advanced nostalgia, that I, Graeme Trewin announce my departure from the band that is Peabody.
This band has been the biggest part of my life for so long now, so to say that I'll miss being a part of it is a huge understatement! I'm incredibly proud of the music we have made together.
To my brothers Ben and Bruno, it's been an honour and an absolute pleasure!
Graeme Trewin
Needless to say, Ben and I are still crying into our beers and it is all still too new and sudden to know what we are going to do or what is going to happen, but a career as a covers duo in an RSL is looking likely. We will both miss our pet monkey Trewin immensely and wish him all the best in his new, humble life enriching uranium for Iran and China.
"I don't know what to tell you. Life is absurd and it confuses me."
-Matias Perez, Philosopher. Yadda yadda

Now. I love Peabody. Definitely one of the best Sydney bands around, and this obviously comes as sad news. They are also one of the last of the great 3-piece bands. So loud, so rock, yet only three (count 'em!) guys. They had something to say, a great frontman, awesome rhythm section, great songs, great attitude....they had it all. Apart from maybe success.

Their two albums - Professional Againster (brilliant life affirming rock with pop smarts everywhere) and The New Violence (angry, fiery, brilliant) and an EP will be the legacy of this line up of Peabody. They never put a foot wrong.

It's sad, because the newer songs I've heard perform live were better still. Let's hope there's some life in the old girl.


MP3: Peabody - She's Heading Unto Zion
- From the album Professional Againster (NonZero, 2002)
MP3: Peabody - Got You On My Radar
- From the album The New Violence (NonZero, 2005)