• THE MOTIFS, THE ZEBRAS, DARREN SYLVESTER

    Set 18 2009, 3h10

    Wed 16 Sep – The Motifs Wednesday Night Residency

    THE EMPRESS

    They’re a fun loving lot those indie kids. Tonight’s show, third in a series of Wednesday-night residencies for the headliners, has a ‘80s beach party’ theme, following on from the ‘Bad Jumper’ and ‘Pirates’ themes of previous weeks, (next week is ‘Freaks and Geeks and Matheletes’), which allows many to look decidedly Miami Vice/John Hughes. Thankfully, this mixed bag of fashion sensibility doesn’t get in the way of the uniformly excellent music.

    Darren Sylvester, recipient of uniformly glowing reviews for his eponymous debut album and several dozen ‘but where did he come from? / He just appeared from nowhere’-type comments, is on spectacular form. A shimmering glow settles over everything he does. Perfect equations of delay and reverb glue his sequenced backing tracks and Neil Halsted-like guitar washes together, allowing his Brian Ferry-like sneer to arch beautifully. When Phil Spector slides seamlessly into Michael we know we’re in the presence of something very special. THIS is what David Bowie should have done after Let’s Dance. Diaries flick open at the mention of his forthcoming album launch. CDs sell out.

    The Zebras bring things back from electro wonderland to a prettier, more manageable here and now. Ever the master craftsman of melody and chord, chief Zebra Jeremy Cole makes songwriting look so effortless it’s slappable. Seeming to have a different lineup with each gig, tonight’s show sees Cole bringing on the musicians one at a time which suggests a certain recklessness about the songs’ rendering, but you get the feeling these songs could be played as 8-bit ringtones and they’d still work. The closing track, which Cole refers to as ‘Newish One’ is a particular highlight.

    Firmly embracing the night’s theme, plastic hibiscuses and their love of keyboards (‘it’s a PT-30 Casio if anyone is wondering’ calls out drummer/key pusher Neil Erenstrom), The Motifs are instantly more lucid and attention grabbing than in previous incarnations. Skewering expectations with songs that are, by their standards, progtastically long (i.e. actually over 3 minutes) it’s a small and joyous revolution. Handclaps and warm harmonies have always been part of the Motifs stable but here they coalesce tighter and seem more integrated into the song rather than a rhythmic afterthought for nervous hands and empty throats. Backwardsstill sounds fantastic in it’s 1:10 glory, but it’s the newer songs like Little things that tell you the kids are growing up just fine.
  • THE CRAYON FIELDS, SUMMER CATS, DICK DIVER at THE TOFF IN TOWN

    Ago 25 2009, 0h17

    Sat 22 Aug – Crayon Fields "All The Pleasures Of The World" 7 inch launch

    With tables drawn to the front of the stage like pups to a teat, and standing-room only behind, it must be a strange situation for tonight’s bands, more used to the ramshackle charm of Old Bar or The Birmingham. But tonight’s show with its brilliant sound system and warmly appreciative crowd makes them sound comfortably at home.

    Despite the bizarrely uninviting name Dick Diver have fast accrued credibility during their short time together, and waste no time showing why. Kicking off with a gritty pop swagger the bang-on harmonies and soaring, stinging guitars of frontmen Rubert Edwards and Alistair McKay have a complementary charm that belies their fresh sound. Through The Deep’s chugging warmth and the idyllic ripples of On The Bank show there’s a lot to love.

    Inadvertently commemorating a Top 50 debut for their first album Songs For Tuesdays in the CMJ (American College Rock) charts, and with a fan-winning performance, Summer Cats prove they’re a band moving in leaps and bounds. From the thrilling opener Let’s Go to the rousing shambolic glee of Paperweight the pre-grunge buzzsaw pop this country once did so well is still alive and as vital as ever. Enough dynamics are invested in the songs to ensure everyone gets to drink their beer by the show’s end and not a note or moment is wasted.

    Launching a single most of the audience are already well familiar with seems oddly appropriate for The Crayon Fields. So cherished are they that even a below-par show would leave most of us happy. What we get however is the most convincing argument imaginable for the word twee to never apply to this band again. Neil Erenstrom’s skin-punishingly emphatic accents drive the songs like Hal Blaine auditioning for Animal Collective, Chris Hung’s blistering lead work takes further toll on his already decrepit Telecaster while Tim Picone’s molasses-thick basslines allow Geoff O’Connor’s softly insistent melodies to walk quietly and carry a big stick. There has always been much more to The Crayon Fields than the timorous persona of O’Connor and self-effacing grace of their songs suggest, but it’s not until tonight with the dynamite sound system that the sheer force of the band becomes apparent. From their criminally short songs to the Secret Garden-style stage decorations, there’s nothing reclusive about this band, and, given the rising profiles of all of tonight’s bands, we can safely say The Toff bore witness world class performances tonight.
  • The GIG!

    Mar 23 2009, 2h43

  • ANGIE HART, FI CLAUS, SOPHIE KOH, MACHINE TRANSLATIONS, THE GUILD LEAGUE, THE…

    Dez 12 2008, 7h10

    THE CORNER

    Coming across more like the end-of-year performance of Songwriting Masterclass 101, The Corner’s measly crowd bore witness to one of the greatest night’s entertainment 2008 had to offer in all it’s humble beauty, shy glory and Australian twang.

    The Millers Tale’s album Overland and tonight’s rendering of many of its songs give a jaw-dropping ‘where-have-I-been/how-did-I-miss-this?’ sense of wonder. This is perfect traveling music. The songs feel extensions of the land; incredibly simple and direct, warm Harriet Wheeler-esque vocals from bassist Bec Quade with melodies as appealing as guitarist John Maclane’s suggestion to ‘buy everyone’s CDs and bust this recession’s arse.’ Slices of folk-pop perfection follow hard on each other’s heels with Constellation and Elbow Room jostling for highlight, but it’s the miraculous Wasn’t The One For You that reveals the brilliance of these songwriters. Amazing.

    One band you could trust to follow such an opening set would be Machine Translations, tonight a trio. From the opening clangs of Love’s Dangerous to the closing, Baterz-dedicated I’m Changed the wearied voice of J. Walker is on fine form. Machine Translations play a short and comparatively very energetic set, which naturally, incorporates She Wears a Mask and pleases all and sundry.

    Bursting from the side stage comes the smart anti-Thatcherite bluster of a fired-up Guild League, a band who seem to shift and morph according to singer Tali White’s preoccupations – travels in south-east Asia have long been replaced by Melbourne’s weather and public transport, and now social justice, middle-class apathy and organ donation drive the man. It’s a gloriously bracing burst of ‘songs to smash windows by’ as he calls it. Mouse vs. Mountain, If Not Now, Suit Fits and older songs The Storm and opener Animal are further faultless examples of White’s ever-improving songwriting and the band’s impeccable backing.

    The opening track of Sophie Koh’s set Objects in the Mirror is so breathtaking with its instrumentation and warm-yet-distant feel that the rest of the set almost feels like a letdown. Far from bad though, Koh seems more relaxed and comfortable than ever, her voice on fine form and songs like Silly Things and Somebody Come to End This are OK, if a little safe. When she takes risks, such as with the opening song and the closing Mandarin karaoke-learned ballad Gan Lan Shu she hints at what she is truly capable of.

    Straight from the cover of today’s MX (right next to but nothing to do with the 'Lawyer Porn Shock' headline) and launching her Bijoux album tonight comes a radiant Fi Claus. Opening with Get Me Up she seems a little nervous but her voice and the songs themselves are so wonderful that the audience are with her. The phenomenal drumming of Pete Bosworth and the bass and backing vocals of Per Stenbeck give her the perfect setting while the songs Please, Please, Get It and a rousing rumbling dual-bass take of Come Home show just what a valuable songwriter she is; worth more than the album title on a triple word square even.

    In black shorts and fishnets, a mile-wide smile and handbag on arm, comes Angie Hart. Surprisingly including several Frente! songs (The Book Song, Labour Of Love and their take on Bizarre Love Triangle) Hart’s set is almost too simplified. Her voice could render the Centrelink reporting line essential listening, but against chunky barre chords and sporadic violin it seems a little too unadorned. Still, the new songs are good enough to win over those who don’t associate her voice with the heady days of high school, particularly Unbroken High, a brand new Geoff O’Connor collaboration Delicate, and her emotive cover of Pictures of You. Heavenly.
    Angie HartFi ClausSophie KohMachine TranslationsThe Guild League
  • MISTLETONE PRESENTS: THE WINTER TONES FESTIVAL

    Ago 25 2008, 2h57

    Fri 22 Aug – Wintertones

    Roxanne

    Like the security staff and police, winter was out in force tonight. A fact the hundred-meter line of trembling indie kid was not allowed to forget as we queued outside, bathed in the neon glow of the nearby adult cinema. For reasons never explained, the venue was allowing access solely via the elevator meaning that several early sets were missed by many, and that upon arriving, Roxanne felt like a large emptily exclusive firetrap. Despite this, and despite the surprisingly defective PA system in the main room, the dual-stage magic organised by Sophie and Ash of Mistletone (a duo thanked profusely throughout the night by every act) succeeded beyond measure in making one of the finest nights of music of recent years.

    Pikelet indicated again just how quickly she is gaining confidence and how comfortable the band feel working with her songs. Glowing just as warmly as the winter lights she adorns the front stage with it’s a gorgeously muted set that finishes with a never-lovelier Toby White. Hopefully Beach House were watching and will take her away to cast her magic with a wider net.

    With a setlist that sits like delicate spires of Pavlova Magic The Crayon Fields pitch their music perfectly and deliver an immaculate gig. Delicate and brisk, like the Belle and Sebastian songs you can dance to, the accent is oddly away from the guitar (courtesy of guitarist Chris being away from the country and ably replaced by The Motifs’ Alexis) and back on the keys, chords and vocals. This lends new songs like Graceless and Other Pleasures a richer, less accented tone and makes the forthcoming album that little more hotly anticipated.

    Entering into the tight triangle that Love of Diagrams form has always been an inconceivable task. Easy to admire, respect and appreciate, actually being moved by them has been hitherto impossible. Tonight however, showcasing almost entirely new material LoD indicate that not only are Matador going to be pretty damn excited with any new recordings but that their music, without compromising an inch, will be more accessible. Vocals are increasingly becoming a more powerful weapon in their arsenal, melody, wah-wah pedal and length seem to be new interests and ones that are as well deployed as their innate tightness and obvious talent.

    Bachelorettealmost steals the night with the latest installment of her love affair with electricity. Just as tight and as well executed asLove of Diagrams, she is compelling to watch, hypnotising to the ear and never at any stage buys into the detached irony that so often comes with the field of electronic music. The scene-setting On the Four seems to defy age and My Electric Husbandbrings the inherent humanity through loud and clear in a way so few acts do; perhaps she invests more than others? Whatever it is she does, right through to the cut-up cassette recordings of acoustic guitar that close her set, its spot on.

    US headliners Beach House take to the stage with quiet aplomb and set about redefining the term ‘soporific splendour’. Sounding at times like Mazzy Star fronting a stoned Kraftwerk, it’s all regal gorgeousness and a constantly transfixing smoulder that renders the snails pace of the songs barely noticable. In constant sway at the keyboard, Victoria Legrand is the figurehead while guitarist Alex Scally and drummer Dave Begander quietly build and deconstruct the walls and towers that see most of the new album Devotion brought thoroughly to life.

    Meanwhile, Actor/Slash model show again why they can’t be pigeonholed and require consistent reviewing. Tonight sees melodies just as manhandled as guitarist Ricky French’s Jazzmaster where guitar noise becomes the exception and all the more powerful because of it. Almost straying into the realms of snappy pop with up-front vocals and an unusually clear mix, the band burn up the stage with energy to spare and songs that actually sound like songs. With their years of gigging as homework, this is a flying colour performance. Awesome stuff.

    Qua’s crackling bass and erratic beats play on in one room and Guy Blackman cranks up the wheels of steel in another as the crowd thins while Mistletone cement themselves as the label that can do no wrong, venue selection aside.
  • HIT THE JACKPOT, GUY BLACKMAN, BEACHES, THE TWERPS

    Ago 12 2008, 11h47

    Fri 8 Aug – Hit The Jackpot, Guy Blackman, Beaches, The Twerps

    The Tote

    There is a refreshingly unprofessional air about the bands playing tonight. Not that there aren't prodigiously talented people playing, but that no one is struggling for perfection or over-valuing musicianship, all the stories that are being told tonight rely on personality, originality and, as befitting any event organised by Guy Blackman, individuality.
    The Twerps initially appear as though they're another band who heard The Pastels and thought 'I can do that'; cue melodic four-note basslines, lazy guitars, one-beat drums and some out of tune vocals. Several songs in though, the band reveal themselves as a throughly exciting proposition. Their willfully low-fi nature will alienate some, but there are absolute gems of songs here. The Twerps manage to make their touchstones their own, particularly via the lead guitar curlicues from guitarist Julia which befits their unassuming broken logic wonderfully. A real discovery, and a band destined for tiny, wonderful things.

    Bringing a whole different flavour to the night is Beaches, a group who tonight justify the slow-swelling hype by resolutely kicking arse for the entirety of their set. Seeming comfortable on stage, even with three guitars blaring, the members listen to each other and know when to step back. Most of the stepping back is done for the galvanising Antonia Sellbach whose lead guitar lines are the icing on the cake of Sterolab-esque rock that the band push. Occasional vocal interjections give the songs a shot in the arm and it's those songs, most particularly The Rip and Ramblin' that linger longest. Bring on the album.

    Guy Blackman and his band are, in keeping with the mood, on a more informal form tonight. Again his guileless charm permeates through the room, most notably on the revealing (yes it seems there are still layers left of the Blackman psyche to reveal) It Hurts Me To Sing, which almost suits it's falling-apart ending, an addition most songs have tonight. A warmly chugging Gayle, the funny and engaging Stay On The Beatabout gay nightclubs in Tokyo and a never-more-haunting I Love Myself For You prove the highlights.

    Adelaide's Hit the Jackpot are the focus tonight and don't disappoint with their arresting simplicity that sears in a way befitting music made in relatively isolated places. With the basics mastered and a lot to say HTJ kick off with album-opener King of the Pool and instantly it's the desperate yelps of singer/bassist Jess Thomas that arrest the listener, allowing a glimpse of the raw emotion not quite buried under the layers of repetition. This song alone is reason to pick up the Soul Money Gang Vibe CD they launch tonight, along with set closer Winter Coatwhich again sees Thomas launch into her tympanic-membrane shattering register. In between these two high points the band drift through numbing and sometimes moving relentless indie rock, echoing the drone of Beachesand the cassette-tape quality of The Twerps. Vocalist and guitarist Kynan Lawlor is a tousle-haired anti-charisma frontman with his downbeat vocals, friendly banter and resigned stance; and therefore, just perfect.
  • SPLENDOUR IN THE GRASS - A REVIEW

    Ago 8 2008, 7h34

    Sat 2 Aug – Splendour in the Grass
    SPLENDOUR IN THE GRASS

    Sun and fun!
    Splendour proved to be a microcosm of it's nearest town, Byron Bay. Plenty of tents and music options for the spiritually aware, and an all-pervading feeling that it's all going to be OK. And it is. Barely anyone puts in a poor show and even if they do, the crowd will sweetly forgive.

    DAY ONE

    Following a strong show fromDelta Spiritwho were southern gentlemen and possess a ragged folky spirit that began proceedings well, the GW McLennan Tent becomes a love-in for the brightly-shining charisma of the knobbly-kneed and mouth-agape Dev Hynes, aka Lightspeed Champion and his splendid backing band. Hynes' cascading guitar solos and smart songwriting turns of Tell Me What It's Worth and No Surprises are only outdone by his Aussie-flag-in-mouth take on the Star Wars Theme and a version ofEveryone I Know Is Listening to Crunk that classifies as haunting, even at 3PM on a sunny day.

    MeanwhileBliss And Eso are busy turning the Mix Tent into a dutch oven. The joint is heaving with happy punters and a pall of smoke gathers during their set. Their unshowy visuals and absence of dynamics force the focus back on their inspired rhyming again and again; it's phat. 'Listen to Triple J' they shout. It seems we do.

    Starting with a storming Mistress Mabel The Fratellis' set then takes a downturn. Their newer, less-immediate songs are largely lost on a crowd clearly there for the incredibly immediate Chelsea Dagger (or the following decent if unmemorable set from Cold War Kids) which does the job nicely. Melodic lout-rock chants may work better on English football terraces, but the choppy feelgood vibe still shines, if weakly.

    Disappointment of the festival is Tricky. An artist all about atmosphere, stratospheres of dry ice and moody lighting can't hide the feeling that the music (and most notably his voice) sounds forced. Black Steel should shimmer violently but comes across as mid-90s digitised metal with breakbeats (which it was...time has not been kind) and leaves most punters unmoved, bar those who do leave and move to Devo.

    Devo were a clear highlight of the weekend and they still know how to put on a show. With a great selection of songs - 'Peek-A-Boo', 'Uncontrollable Urge', 'Mongoloid', 'Gates of Steel', their dynamite cover of '(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction' and the set-closing 'Beautiful World' as sung by Booji Boy, there was little you could fault. incredibly tight players, the sort of connection only musicians who've been playing together as long as they have and a real sense of showmanship ensured that no one left disappointed and many left to hunt down their old records.


    DAY TWO

    Make up, hair and clothes are still fresh on the girls who line the barrier for Yves Klein Blue, though the band has a lot more going for them than the boundless showmanship of singer Michael Tomkinson something the girls celebrate vocally. One of the weekend's revelations, YKB use the stage for all it's worth, shifting between Suede-rock and a furious indie buzz.They pull punters and keep them, right until Tomkinson is dragged bodily offstage after a theatrical collapse. Great fun.

    British India, though full of energy and in possession of one of the more charismatic frontmen working the country at the moment were a little predictable and relied a lot on boring bar chord riffs and flustered hands running up and down the guitar neck in lieu of ideas. That said it was good to see the crowd loving them so much.

    Vampire Weekend showed that they can play as tight as they can on record, and that's pretty much all they did. 'This is out first time to Australia.' says keyboardist Rostam Batmanglij . We know. 'We're really glad to be here.' Really?
    Though they seem a little surprised at the reception they get, little emotion is shown and though the songs are well-written, there are no real surprises and it's a merely perfunctory show; most of the album and one new song (White City).

    The Supertop crowd crush reaches maximum intensity seconds into Let's Dance To Joy Division and Leaving For New York midway through The Wombats' set. Though it's unlikely the band have the songs to forge a several-year career, they have energy to burn and excel at sending the crowd bananas, even if the misogyny wears thin before their sweaty set ends.

    Few images will burn brighter in the mind than that of Patience Hodgson of The Grates bursting onto stage as Batgirl, Batman theme blazing overhead. Kicking into a blinder of a set that balances the exuberant new album with crowd-rousing faves, the size of the stage makes the other members seem like a backing band as she twists, kicks and jumps with glee, rendering the show a highlight, even before the confetti cannons detonate during 19 20 20 etching joy into the upturned faces.

    Even playing below par, a band like Sigur Ros are operating on such a different musical, theatrical and creative level that they still impress mightily, despite their unfortunate scheduling between The Vines and Wolfmother. Several miscues and mistakes may prove they're human but bring the usual cloud-configuring orchestrations back to earth. Still, the band's militaristic-Tim Burton getup is glorious to behold, and many songs off the new album shine magnificently while the tracks from Takk and Jonsi's bow-breaking guitar playing burns more furiously than ever. Gobbledigookwas a particular highlight.

    Band of Horses are also a highlight, they seem to craft moody Neil Young-style paeans from the very air, and the reception they got was incredibly vocal and passionate, almost more befitting an emo band.

    Much has been made of what looks like Wolfmother's last ever performance with the original lineup. While the audience was certainly onside right the way through their set (which contained some new material though I personally couldn't distinguish it from their old material) the band did seem quite separate from each other, and not just separated by th distances that the main stage forces upon a band there. Andrew Stockdale was as charismatic as ever though the music itself never once lifted above the derivative rock they're known for. Will be interesting to see the future paths the members take. they did at least justify their post-Sigur Ros position and that to me was their biggest hurdle.
  • KES BAND, BASEBALL, ACTOR/MODEL, LOVE IS SCIENCE FICTION

    Jul 9 2008, 18h03

    The Evelyn

    In a rare show of form The Evelyn tonight plays host to a diverse and exciting array of bands, a lineup that manages to maintain the high standards set by opening act Love is Science Fiction. Despite the 12 or so people in the room, LISF play like they are in a crowded warehouse party, a venue they better start relegating to their gigging history if this gig is anything to go by. Drummer Steph is a tom-heavy rhythm behemoth matched for sheer hardcore-ness by guitarist Joey who sets his booming riffs amidst sheets of feedback while singer Al is literally all over the place, treating the stage like a jungle gym with scant regard for OH&S procedures. Songs like I Am A Boy, Cat Up A Tree the closing We're Not Going Hunting fly by in a flurry of inverted limbs, keyboard-as-surfboard horseplay, battered drums and wailing guitars. Finally, some music with a sense of danger and fun. Their ascendancy up the gig billings begins here.

    In a refreshing left turn, Actor/Model have spent the recent months building on their mid-80s US underground passion and have now fashioned their own house. Eschewing guitars for keyboards for the first part of the set (though endeavouring to make them sound as much like guitars as possible) they even manage a gentle ballad (Mixtape) before returning to their well-worn stretched-out noisy rock. Their guitar and keyboard mix is dense and tightly woven and doesn't leave much breathing space, and their songs work best when there is a variety of movement and colours such as on the provisionally-titled Life Without Electrolane in which keyboard melodies often push through the bass-heavy drums and thick fog of guitar and sound all the better for the shift in texture. When singer Ricky French says 'thank you, it's been a lot of fun' it could well be us saying it to him. A top show.

    When it comes to making each instrument count, Baseball should be giving lectures. Such is the obvious musical individuation of each member, this band must be one of the few around that actually don't sound like anyone else and have a very strong sense of self. No one could replace anyone in this band, and hearing them with a good mix is a revelation.The concert is something a tour through Thick Passage's obsessions which he gloriously realises on songs like The Wedding At Susa, the stark Lines and Lines and Lines, crowd-pleasing Soft Boy Factory and the closing fury of She Bakes Cookies. Nothing less than 100% given , and nothing less than their subjects deserve; an astonishing band.

    Though similarly intriguing, tonight Kes Band are disappointing; a set only five songs long, only three of which have lyrics is not likely to make a fan happy, though it does provide a grand introduction. What they do illustrate though is their prodigious talent and singer/songwriter Karl Scullin's curious mix of Television/Neil Young and Quicksilver Messenger Service in his imaginatively arranged songs. With Evelyn from Baseball doing a astonishingly tight job of filling in for Julian Paterson the band sound A1. Whether you like Scullin's voice or not, it's a vital part of the striking figure he cuts; back to the audience, fluid guitar, long hair held back in a clip and often perched on one leg - much like the Ken Loach's kestrel Kes, who the band aren't named after. Though it's clear they're not on top form tonight, there is something quite special going on here and their rise looks set to continue.
  • GUY BLACKMAN, LAURA JEAN, ALWAYS

    Jun 27 2008, 23h49

    Sat 31 May – Guy Blackman


    The Toff

    The simple delight in seeing a songwriter, any songwriter, so fully be able to express their craft is likely to always be a rare pleasure. Tonight evidenced that Guy Blackman is a character who has clearly earned great respect from a lot of people through his variously pursued passions for music, and it is tribute to his songs that they aren't overshadowed by the caliber of guests he brings on to flesh them out.
    Opening act, the perfectly-titled Always, is a curious prospect. Kneeling - sometimes lying - on the floor, for the most part hidden behind a huge beard and a curtain of lanky black hair, Always proceeds to let us glimpse at an often unholy relationship between man and machine, or man and delay pedal and pitch shifter to be more precise. Variously industrial, funny, animalistic , onomatopoeic yet entirely corporeal in his sounds, Always delivers three very different pieces which, as Laura Jean later states, perfectly sets the mood for his evening.

    Laura Jean's ebullient songs rise and fall with measured perfection as rendered by her 5-piece band. With an impassive gaze that more suits appraising farmland than engaging a crowd in an classy establishment, Laura Jean proves to be an engaging and naturally charming presence. From simmering away in the background of the local music scene, her latest album Eden Land provides most of the set's highlights (Anniversary, Mikhail and the closing Love Is Going to Lead Us particularly), but even those get a close run by No Mystery 'our first foray into political songwriting,' she says, and the impossibly lilting Valentine, a song that showcases her Sandy Denny-ish voice beautifully. The band give us lessons on how to arrange folk songs that almost seem impossibly nuanced and effortless. A perfect choice for support.
    "It's a night of nights for me," says Blackman taking to the stage and seating himself behind a Wurlitzer organ. "It's the end of a long journey." With musical guests lining the wall and there being little room to move by the time he finished the opening I Still Think of You, he soon seems to feel at home, as he should be, having made a home for himself among the musical community of Melbourne over the last 12 years. Isobel Knowles (the icypoles), Geoff O'Connor (Sly Hats, The Crayon Fields, Mark Monnone (The Lucksmiths), Julian Patterson (KES), Mick Turner, Clare Moore (The Moodists, Dave Graney), Nick and Jess Venebles (Jens Lekman), Peggy Frew (Art of Fighting), Alison Bulger and Nisa Venerosa (Fabulous Diamonds) all lend their considerable talents to bringing most of Adult Baby to life which peaks with a gorgeous Older, a shimmering Johnny, the embarrassingly intimate Act Like You Don't, blistering Carlton North and everyone-on-for-the-final-song thrill of Gayle. Listening to Blackman's impeccably sincere songs you feel you know him well, and he's an incredibly hard guy not to like and be grateful for.
  • THE SEABELLIES, SKIPPING GIRL VINEGAR, TWIN CITY RADIO

    Jun 27 2008, 23h33

    Fri 23 May – The Seabellies


    Revolver Upstairs

    Unexpected revelations are the order of the evening here tonight. First up is Twin City Radio, a band who instantly knock you flat with the sense that they are going to be totally, utterly, massive. The ingredients are all there; the talent, the ambition, the sense of something not that unusual but different enough to stand out, and a charismatic frontman. Pushing a tightly-reined melodramatic edge to their smart and heavy songs, it's easy to see that industry people will see dollar signs and audiences will swell, should that be the way they want to go. Tracks like Stitches and the closing Longitude seem ready-made for radio and the band deliver them with a maturity and a sense of humour that belies their youth. Granted, vocalist Gustav Gustavenson has overblown lyrics at times (And in the winter of our historical experiment / There is a signal tracing through the northern firmament - Distance), but they are delivered in a totally charming and convincing way; he knows what these words mean, and the Van Morrison-esque understated intensity seals the deal. It's hard to believe it was only their fourth gig. Were this Sydney, they'd already be signed and have a fervent following of kids in Muse t-shirts.

    Matching them for upward mobility are Skipping Girl Vinegar. A real rarity in this day and age - genuine songwriting skills and sensitivity without a hint of the smugness that so many Aussie rock bands and solo artists seem to resort to. Mark Lang is a gifted songwriter of the Paul Kelly vein, and his admitting to being on an unfortunate mixture of pseudoephedrine and red wine may be the reason the ballads are lent a weight and space tonight, taking them from good to room-silencing. Smartly-dressed bassist Sare Lang pushes the songs with her high-necked riffs and is on form tonight. From irresistibly rousing opener Wandered via future JJJ-fave Sift The Noise to the glorious Sinking the band don't miss a beat. Mark these words - 2008 will be their year.

    Following these guys would be a tough act in anyone's book, and indeed the only level on which The Seabellies can match SGV is hype. The three-quarter-full room thins as the band come on stage and they soon give reason for it. The Heart Heart Heart Out Tour on which they're on seems to have tired them, as the songs, which are perfectly fine, are discharged in an almost disinterested way. Each of the six band members wear tight black jeans and Chucks (bar keyboardist Stephanie Setz) and have nicely sculptured hair, unsurprisingly their songs show a similar lack of freshness or individuality. Clearly they would love to rip drama from the stage a la Arcade Fire, but the multitude of instruments they use seem to only be there for texture; arrangement is not their strong suit. The Los Campesinos!-like charge to Day Of The Bees really should work - it should be tearing up the place - but is delivered with so little conviction it too falls flat. The colder electro Song We Don't Speak Of suits their stylised detachment far better. The songs are fun, but the heart heart heart is out out out.