• 2008 in review

    Jan 1 2009, 20h03

    INTRODUCTION

    For me, 2008 will be remembered as the year in which I discovered Ricky Gervais' radio show and stopped listening to music wherever I went. The four years worth of two-hour radio programmes became something of an obsession, and I listened to them in series multiple times throughout the year at the expense of my normal practice of having music blaring on the train, in my bedroom and whenever I was walking. For someone who used to carry around 188 CDs in his backpack so he would have enough music within arm's reach, this is quite a shift in behaviour.

    But equally, I was exposed to far more new music than usual this year because I was constantly surrounded by recently released CDs in my new job at a music store. I no longer have to wait until I go out of my way to purchase new music, which has allowed me to become aware of new CDs the day they are released to retail and has given me far more albums in my end-of-2008 shortlist than last year. And being predominantly a punk/hardcore store, I've broadened my horizons to include some previously unknown areas of the musical landscape.

    As well as punk, hardcore and metalcore, I've delved deeper into post-rock, noise and metal this year, and they're all genres which have made their mark on the lists below.

    2008 will also be fondly remembered as the year that I finally got to witness two incredibly important bands in the flesh: Dream Theater, who were my gateway to progressive music in high school, and Porcupine Tree, my favourite band, both made their inaugural journeys to Australia after many years. It's going to take a hell of a lot to unseat the two Porcupine Tree shows I saw as the best concerts of my lifetime so far.

    But at the end of the day, it's all about the CDs and EPs. The records.

    Compared to 2006 and 2007, there's a far higher concentration of local music in both my end-of-year album and EP lists, reflecting the increasing quality and maturity of Australia's musical output. Last year I split my list into Australian and international releases, but this year there is no doubt the Aussies have just as much right to be in the list as the foreigners.

    TOP TEN ALBUMS OF 2008

    10. BorisSmile

    Before laying ears on Boris for myself, all I had heard about them was that they were noisy and ridiculously heavy. But that description completely neglects to mention the significant role of melody in Boris' music (well, Smile at least, as it's still the only Boris album I've heard). That's what struck me the first time I listened to Smile: the fact that I was humming it in my head the day after.

    9. The Mars VoltaThe Bedlam in Goliath

    Something of a comeback after the mildly disappointing Amputechture, but still quite a distance short of their masterpiece De-Loused In The Comatorium.

    8. Trial KennedyNew Manic Art

    In 2007 Trial Kennedy were nobodies; a tight band with a distinctive sound and down-to-earth personalities. Now they're still the same guys, but their music is being played on triple j, Nova and even Triple M. It couldn't have happened to a nicer, harder working bunch of guys.

    7. OpethWatershed

    Similar to The Bedlam In Goliath, Watershed blows its predecessor Ghost Reveries out of the water, but in Opeth's catalogue only ranks third or fourth. I shouldn't constantly compare each album Opeth releases with Blackwater Park, but it's difficult not to.

    6. Mushroom GiantKuru

    I'm a sucker for packaging that is an extension of the music it contains, and the intriguing references to cannibalism and sparce textual information in Kuru's inlay really piqued my interest from the very beginning. It's hard to describe Mushroom Giant; not quite post-rock, not quick hard rock, not quite anything. But they're good.

    5. Birds of TokyoUniverses

    In the time that Karnivool have been preparing their second album (not even recording, just preparing), Birds Of Tokyo have released two full-length CDs, an EP and a single, toured the country multiple times with growing crowds each time, and broken through to the mainstream with airplay on Nova. I'd be worried about which basket Ian Kenny would put his eggs in if only Birds Of Tokyo didn't write such great pop music.

    4. Steven WilsonInsurgentes

    An absolute grower, I wasn't much of a fan to begin with but it's now cracked my top five of the year. Steven Wilson effortlessly proves what a brilliant songwriter he is, and lets everyone know that he can span multiple genres and still release a cohesive package. I wish I had his talent.

    3. The Sound of Animals FightingThe Ocean And The Sun

    This came as a complete surprise. Announced mere weeks before its release, I barely had time to get excited about their reformation before I had their album in my hand. Lying somewhere between the extremes of their previous two records, The Ocean And The Sun is just weird enough to be unique, but not so weird to make multiple listens difficult.

    2. CogSharing Space

    When the Just Visiting EPs first came out, I honestly never thought Cog would get anywhere with a sound so heavily rooted in Tool-esque alternative heavy metal. But for their sophomore full-length they completely reinvented their sound into something distinctly Australian, and the result was an instantly satisfying album. I think after my first listen I knew it'd be among my favourites of the year.

    1. Sleep ParadeThings Can Always Change

    In less than 12 months I've witnessed Sleep Parade morph from a suburban secret playing the Espy front bar with 30 people in the audience into a band that won the respect of 2,000 Porcupine Tree fans at the Enmore Theatre in Sydney. It was one of my proudest moments of the year knowing that a band whose name I passed on to the promoter of the Porcupine Tree tour ended up being picked as the sole national support, but it was the strength of their debut album that really won people over. A truly world-class album, Things Can Always Change is my favourite album of 2008.

    HONOURABLE MENTIONS

    MetallicaDeath Magnetic
    The most honourable mention must go to Metallica, who managed to defy all expectations and release an album that doesn't suck.

    MogwaiThe Hawk is Howling
    Mogwai are perennial favourites for my end-of-year lists, but unfortunately I was unable to really sink my teeth into The Hawk Is Howling before the year ended.

    'neathThe Small Untruths
    Similarly, I received this album quite late in the year so I haven't been able to give it more than a passing glance. The Spiders Sleep was my #1 album of last year, so it's got a lot to live up to.

    Norma JeanThe Anti Mother
    Anti-FlagThe Bright Lights of America
    Rise AgainstAppeal to Reason
    RobotosaurusManhater
    Story of the YearThe Black Swan

    TOP TEN EPs OF 2008

    10. VarliibaNumbAntic

    A blend of nu–prog and grunge, with lovely Vedder–esque vocals.

    9. One Day as a LionOne Day as a Lion

    God it's great to hear Zack De La Rocha singing again.

    8. The Rex WickedThe World Could Turn Around

    Australia's answer to old-school Muse, but with a haunting space rock influence.

    7. Tangled Thoughts of LeavingTiny Fragments

    Surprisingly consistent for such a diverse EP.

    6. Closure in MoscowThe Penance And The Patience

    Saltmarsh will hate me for this, but The Penance And The Patience is a good, solid release.

    5. House vs. HurricaneForfeiture

    One of the only hardcore records I would call progressive. Splashes of trance, dance and psychadelia combined with incredible clean vocal harmonies and the requisite brutality.

    4. NucleusCircumvolution

    Honestly I didn't quite understand this EP until I saw them live, but they were one of my gig highlights of the year.

    3. RookAdd Colour

    Quite a departure from their earlier, mostly one-dimensional work. If they release an album in 2009 I predict it'll be among the best of the year.

    2. toe hiderToe Hider

    I love that Michael Mills has the balls to release such a pompous, epic EP with so fucking many notes, but I love even more that each song is pleasantly easy to listen to. I don't understand how one guy can have so much talent.

    1. SleepmakeswavesIn Today Already Walks Tomorrow

    There's a reason sleepmakeswaves had already amassed an international following before they'd even set foot outside Sydney: despite what their guitarist says, there's something in their music unlike any other post-rock in the world.

    BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENTS OF 2008

    The Butterfly EffectFinal Conversation Of Kings

    It's regained some ground over the past couple of weeks, but Final Conversation Of Kings seemed completely limp in comparison to the power of Imago. I appreciate that they're continually exploring new territory, but musically I was disappointed.

    MammalThe Majority

    I'm not sure if it's because I'm over Mammal or the album's no good, but I haven't listened to The Majority since the week it came out, and I haven't felt like doing so either.

    TOP TEN CONCERTS OF 2008

    1. Porcupine Tree, Sleep Parade – Enmore Theatre, Sydney
    2. Porcupine Tree, Sleep Parade – Palace Theatre, Melbourne
    3. The Dear Hunter, mewithoutYou, As Tall As Lions, Kevin Devine, My American Heart – Billboard The Venue, Melbourne
    4. Dream Theater – Festival Hall, Melbourne
    5. Karnivool, That 1 Guy, Mere Theory – QBH, Melbourne
    6. Cog, KORA, Jakob – Palace Theatre, Melbourne
    7. Birds of Tokyo, Mere Theory, Calling All Cars – Corner Hotel, Melbourne
    8. A State of Flux, Nucleus, Alaska Ratio, Cloud City – Revolver Upstairs, Melbourne
    9. Mammal, Dead Letter Circus, MM9, Trial Kennedy – QBH, Melbourne
    10. Rook, The Evening Son, Engine Three-Seven, Alba Varden – Esplanade Hotel, Melbourne

    LAST.FM MOST LISTENED-TO ARTISTS OF 2008

    1. The Ricky Gervais Show (805)
    2. Gyroscope (337)
    3. Cog (248)
    4. The Sound of Animals Fighting (234)
    5. Birds of Tokyo (232)
    6. The Dear Hunter (216)
    7. Regina Spektor (188)
    8. Sleep Parade (185)
    9. Porcupine Tree (184)
    10. mewithoutYou (173)

    LAST.FM MOST LISTENED-TO ALBUMS OF 2008

    1. GyroscopeSound Shattering Sound (153)
    2. KarnivoolThemata (137)
    3. Regina SpektorBegin to Hope (136)
    4. Kiss KissReality vs. the Optimist (135)
    5. Sleep ParadeThings Can Always Change (130)
    6. Against Me!New Wave (117)
    7. mewithoutYouBrother, Sister (116)
    8. David BowieThe Best Of David Bowie (107)
    9. Steven WilsonInsurgentes (81)
    10. Dropkick MurphysThe Warrior's Code (77)

    _
  • Top 50 albums

    Ago 12 2008, 15h42

    1. Circa Survive - Juturna (554)


    2. Karnivool - Themata (457)


    3. Regina Spektor - Begin to Hope (400)


    4. mewithoutYou - Brother, Sister (395)


    5. My Chemical Romance - Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge (300)


    6. Ramones - Greatest Hits (289)


    7. Midtown - Forget What You Know (267)


    8. Against Me! - New Wave (255)


    9. Panic! at the Disco - A Fever You Can't Sweat Out (249)


    10. The Flaming Lips - Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots (244)


    11. The Butterfly Effect - Imago (241)


    12. Regina Spektor - Soviet Kitsch (228)


    13. Porcupine Tree - In Absentia (225)


    14. At the Drive-In - Relationship of Command (207)


    15. Faith No More - Angel Dust (181)


    16. Cog - The New Normal (179)


    17. Tapes 'n Tapes - The Loon (169)


    18. The Mars Volta - De-Loused in the Comatorium (165)


    19. Circa Survive - On Letting Go (163)


    20. Arcturus - Sideshow Symphonies (161)


    21. The Receiving End of Sirens - Between the Heart and the Synapse (156)


    22. A Perfect Circle - Thirteenth Step (153)


    23. Sparta - Wiretap Scars (152)


    24. Gyroscope - Sound Shattering Sound (152)


    25. Chiodos - All's Well That Ends Well (139)


    26. Porcupine Tree - Deadwing (133)


    27. Saosin - Saosin (131)


    28. Led Zeppelin - Physical Graffiti (127)


    29. My Chemical Romance - The Black Parade (127)


    30. Led Zeppelin - Houses of the Holy (125)


    31. ú - Rua (123)


    32. mewithoutYou - Catch For Us The Foxes (120)


    33. The Arcade Fire - Funeral (114)


    34. Pain of Salvation - Scarsick (114)


    35. The Butterfly Effect - Begins Here (110)


    36. Pain of Salvation - Remedy Lane (109)


    37. Anathema - A Fine Day to Exit (109)


    38. Dukes Of Windsor - The Others (109)


    39. Pain of Salvation - Entropia (108)


    40. The Used - In Love and Death (106)


    41. The Sound of Animals Fighting - Lover, The Lord Has Left Us... (105)


    42. Anberlin - Cities (105)


    43. Laura - Mapping Your Dreams (104)


    44. Green Day - American Idiot (99)


    45. Kiss Kiss - Reality vs. the Optimist (99)


    46. Sleep Parade - Things Can Always Change (98)


    47. Led Zeppelin - In Through the Out Door (93)


    48. Coheed and Cambria - In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3 (92)


    49. Opeth - Blackwater Park (87)


    50. Oceansize - Everyone Into Position (86)

    Created with the top albums script.
  • Mushroom Giant, Sons of Abraham, Tinman, Bring on the Junta, The Eleventhour at the…

    Abr 7 2008, 19h55

    Thu 27 Mar – Mushroom Giant, Tinman, Sons Of Abraham, Bring On The Junta

    Sneak Peek is a monthly series of themed music nights at Fitzroy's famous Evelyn Hotel - indie, rock, blues and roots, among others - run by a team of music industry and promotions types. Put in front of a room full of photographers, writers, reviewers, booking agents and the occasional record label representative, bands have the chance to showcase their wares in front of people who could potentially help them further their careers.

    When I walked into the Evelyn a few minutes after The Eleventhour had begun their set, there were far more photographers than ordinary punters in the venue, with half a dozen still cameras and three video cameras strewn around the room. That has to be a nerve-wracking environment for any band to perform in, let alone one barely four years old and with a single self-released EP to their name.

    But as tentative as they were in the beginning - vocalist Danny Boy in particular - The Eleventhour really warmed up as time went on. To be honest I found Danny's demeanor as a singer to be far too meek and nerdy early on, but I was well and truly won over by the natural power in his voice by the time their set ended.

    Musically they blend a sort of straight-forward alternative rock in the vein of Why Valerie..? with occasional flurries of Mammal-esque funkadelia. Their main point of difference from the pack is their liberal use of aggressive screaming in the form of background vocals. In my opinion, it's way too easy to chuck some screams in a song to up the aggression, but it's a lot more difficult to write a song that stands up on its own without such trickery. But all-in-all I was pleasantly surprised by the entirety of their set and will be keeping an eye out for them in the future.

    Sons Of Abraham are - like The Eleventhour - a band who seem to gig a lot more often than their small profile would lead you to believe, and it really shows. Their brand of driving, occasionally crunching Tool-esque alt-metal would be a challenge for all but the tightest of bands, and as a three-piece they are all the more impressive. Their bassist, Jamie Cavalieros, in particular reminded me a lot of Dead Letter Circus' Stewart Hill, both in his on-stage mannerisms and his playing.

    With an EP due for release in the coming months, they will surely continue their rise in the Melbourne music landscape, especially if they keep playing on bills with bands like Mushroom Giant (whose existing fans would surely love Sons of Abraham's post-metal side).

    By the time Mushroom Giant graced the stage the Evelyn had filled up considerably, and I doubt there was a single person in the crowd who wasn't completely mesmerised by the sublime experimental post-rock being so brilliantly brought to life in front of them.

    With an unassuming entrance and complete vocal silence for the majority of their time on stage (save for a couple of thank yous and a plug of their CD by bassist Craig Fryers), I was completely drawn into the visual nature of their compositions. "Poor Tom" is just as great a song live as it is on their album Kuru, and I struggled to comprehend how they could play such a frenetic, intricate song so perfectly.

    Guitarist David Charlton, the "frontman" of the band (if an instrumental collective can have a single focal point), finds a way of looking so immersed in the music that you wonder if he's consciously playing notes at all.

    But hey, that's Mushroom Giant.

    Next up were Bring On The Junta, and the only two things I will say about them are:

    1. I'm not into the kind of music they played, so it would be unfair of me to judge them, and
    2. Their bassist had one of the most majestic lumberjack beards I have ever seen. [1]

    That's all. If I were forced to give my opinion on their music, I would say that for an aggressive band I was surprised to find their music somewhat pedestrian. Certainly, there was a blatant lack of any kind of diversity between songs, but it seemed to manifest itself in their playing as well. It was as if they didn't really want to be there.

    Unfortunately I missed Tinman due once again to public transport's personal vendetta against me, but heard they were good. Yet another band on my list. Great.

    So Sneak Peek definitely gets a bit tick of approval from me, and if they continue to put together such strong line-ups I can't see any reason why they couldn't become a cornerstone of Melbourne's live music scene.

    1. Check it out for yourself in this photo from one of the many photographers present at the gig.
  • Nationality of my top 50

    Abr 3 2008, 15h08

    As I expected, the vast majority of my top 50 are from the US, but Australia gives it a good shake.

    My top two are both from the UK. :D

    Country (Total)
    #. Band Plays


    United States (30)
    3. Circa Survive 923
    5. Regina Spektor 685
    6. My Chemical Romance 670
    9. Dream Theater 528
    10. mewithoutYou 494
    14. Coheed and Cambria 346
    15. The Sound of Animals Fighting 342
    15. The Mars Volta 342
    17. Midtown 332
    18. Ramones 317
    19. Panic! At the Disco 309
    21. A Perfect Circle 303
    23. Tool 289
    24. The Dear Hunter 284
    26. No Doubt 272
    29. The Used 270
    30. Faith No More 265
    31. Against Me! 264
    32. The Flaming Lips 261
    33. Red Hot Chili Peppers 253
    38. System of a Down 235
    39. Metallica 232
    40. At the Drive-In 229
    42. Sparta 211
    43. Devin Townsend 210
    44. The Receiving End of Sirens 206
    46. OSI 201
    48. Chiodos 193
    49. Foo Fighters 190
    50. Tapes 'n Tapes 171

    Australia (11)
    4. Birds of Tokyo 780
    8. Karnivool 613
    11. Cog 417
    12. The Butterfly Effect 412
    20. Trial Kennedy 308
    22. Template 294
    25. Dead Letter Circus 283
    34. Meshel, Ash and Kip with Luttsy 249
    35. Simian Gibbet 245
    41. Dukes Of Windsor 228
    47. Gyroscope 197

    United Kingdom (6)
    1. Porcupine Tree 978
    2. Led Zeppelin 936
    13. The Ricky Gervais Show 382
    27. Muse 271
    27. Black Sabbath 271
    36. Pink Floyd 244

    Sweden (2)
    7. Pain of Salvation 664
    37. Opeth 239

    Iceland (1)
    45. Sigur Rós 203
  • Sleep Parade, The Rex Wicked, The Third Cycle, From The Ashes at the Evelyn

    Abr 3 2008, 13h26

    Sat 22 Mar – Sleep Parade

    Sleep Parade have gone from strength to strength since they opened for Karnivool as a four-piece at the Hi-Fi two years ago. Parting ways with keyboardist Paul Zubrinich (and being on the bill for practically every concert played within Melbourne's inner suburbs for about a year) seems to have compounded the rock in the remaining three members, although this preliminary assessment cannot be confirmed until we get the results back from the lab.

    With the release of their well-received album Things Can Always Change and a string of shows supporting two of the biggest progressive rock tours of the year - Cog and Porcupine Tree - still to come, there is no doubt in my mind that they will be next in the long procession of new-prog bands to hit the big time in Australia.

    To celebrate the "launch" of their debut album, though it had already been available in stores prior to the date of the show, Sleep Parade played at the Evelyn Hotel with fellow Melburnian bands From The Ashes and The Rex Wicked and the female-fronted Sydneysiders The Third Cycle.

    From The Ashes had the unenviable job of warming up the tiny opening-time crowd, and pulled it off as best they could. Their songs are clearly high-quality, but whether it was due to the lack of punters or something deeper, their crowd interaction left something to be desired. They would benefit from playing as many shitty support slots as they can just to get themselves out there, because I suspect that once they get a decent crowd in front of them they'd be a lot more impressive.

    Apart from the obvious physical appeal, I'm not quite sure what people see in The Third Cycle. They play the kind of pedestrian, middle-of-the-road alt-rock that Nina May seem to have perfected, and offer very little in the way of originality. Jess Donnellan struggled badly to project her voice over the sound of the rock band behind her, although what little of her vocals I heard was quite enjoyable. I'm not sold on them, but if there's one thing you can never discount in music it's a good looking chick, so I wouldn't be entirely surprised to see their popularity skyrocket.

    Without a doubt, the pleasant surprise of the night was The Rex Wicked. I saw them play a show with Template and From The Ashes last year, but I'm not sure what happened because I don't remember them being as good as they were at this show.

    There's a strong older Muse influence in their sound - the Muse that occasionally went into heavy, screamy mode (aka my favourite Muse era), not the Muse that's trying too hard to be new-age. I'm actually quite surprised The Rex Wicked aren't any bigger than they are at the moment; just listening to their songs they sound "right". I can't quite put my finger on it, but you can just tell listening to their music that they've completely locked in their sound and play it with ease. That's a great sign for a band; they have nowhere to go but up.

    Sleep Parade had the crowd pumped and ready to rock from the first effects-laden note they played. Obviously concentrating on material from the album, most of the songs were new to me, and there's no greater introduction to a song than hearing it in a live setting. The sound was clear, the lighting was perfect, everything was set up for a brilliant show, and that's what they delivered. Well, I assume so anyway.

    Unfortunately for me, morning_view and I had to get a tram home so we left towards the end of their set, but from what I saw up to that point, their music is as epic and grandiose as any in the country. With their album a product of uber-producer Forrester Savell (Karnivool, The Butterfly Effect, Dead Letter Circus, Bushido), it's easy to compare them to any of those bands, but in my opinion they're completely removed from the rest of the Australian prog movement. I look forward to seeing them continue to build their own following amongst Australian rock fans, smiling smugly that I knew them when they were nobodies.
  • iTunes meme

    Abr 1 2008, 3h06

    Another repost.

    Open iTunes/iPod or Windows Media Player to answer the following. Go to your library. Answer, no matter how embarrassing it is.

    How many songs: 4718

    Sort by Song Title
    First Song: mewithoutYou - A
    Last Song: Nena - 99 Luftballoons

    Sort by Time
    Shortest Song: Karnivool - Omitted For Clarity (0:07)
    Longest Song: The Mars Volta - Cassandra Gemini (31:42) [Discounting audiobooks and podcasts.]

    Sort by Album
    First Album: mewithoutYou - [A→B] Life
    Last Album: Nucleus - 9 Months In Solitary

    Sort by Artist
    First Artist: a-ha
    Last Artist: 5th Dimension

    Top Five Most Played Songs

    1. Against Me! - Borne on the FM Waves of the Heart
    2. Against Me! - New Wave
    3. Against Me! - Up the Cuts
    4. Against Me! - Piss and Vinegar
    5. Against Me! - Americans Abroad

    [Obviously I've been listening to Against Me! a lot since I last reset my iTunes library.]

    First 5 songs that come up on Shuffle
    1. Faith No More - Midlife Crisis
    2. Led Zeppelin - Carouselambra
    3. Syzygy - Reversal
    4. Porcupine Tree - Sentimental
    5. Faith No More - Land of Sunshine

    Search
    "heart", how many songs come up? 59
    "death", how many songs come up? 74
    "love", how many songs come up? 105
    "you", how many songs come up? 441
  • Bands in my Top 50 I've seen live

    Abr 1 2008, 2h50

    This is a re-post of a journal I originally posted in November, 2006.

    Bold: seen live
    Italic: going to see live in the near future

    Numbers in parentheses are the number of times I've seen / will see a band.

    1. Porcupine Tree (2)
    2. Led Zeppelin
    3. Circa Survive (1)
    4. Birds of Tokyo (4)
    5. Regina Spektor
    6. My Chemical Romance (1)
    7. Pain of Salvation
    8. Karnivool (8)
    9. Dream Theater (1)
    10. mewithoutYou (2)
    11. Cog (2)
    12. The Butterfly Effect (7)
    13. The Ricky Gervais Show
    14. Coheed and Cambria (1)
    15. The Sound of Animals Fighting
    15. The Mars Volta (2)
    17. Midtown
    18. Ramones
    19. Panic! At the Disco (2)
    20. Trial Kennedy (7)
    21. A Perfect Circle (1)
    22. Template (10)
    23. Tool
    24. The Dear Hunter (2)
    25. Dead Letter Circus (5)
    26. No Doubt
    27. Muse (1)
    27. Black Sabbath
    29. The Used
    30. Faith No More
    31. Against Me!
    32. The Flaming Lips
    33. Red Hot Chili Peppers
    34. Meshel, Ash and Kip with Luttsy
    35. Simian Gibbet (7)
    36. Pink Floyd
    37. Opeth (3)
    38. System of a Down
    39. Metallica (2)
    40. At the Drive-In
    41. Dukes Of Windsor (2)
    42. Sparta
    43. Devin Townsend
    44. The Receiving End of Sirens (1)
    45. Sigur Rós
    46. OSI
    47. Gyroscope (3)
    48. Chiodos
    49. Foo Fighters
    50. Tapes 'n Tapes

    24/50 for a total of 73 concerts.
  • An Evening With Dream Theater - Melbourne, 2008

    Jan 30 2008, 10h06

    Tue 29 Jan – An Evening With Dream Theater

    I'm certainly not the longest-suffering Australian Dream Theater fan, having only discovered them in early 2000. It was with excitement that I threw myself headlong into their catalogue and indiscriminately devoured any Dream Theater material I could get my hands on; it was with frustration that I realised I would probably never see such a small-time, underground, international band in my own country.

    Fast forward eight years and I feel a strange sense of relief having witnessed them blow the roof off Festival Hall with my own eyes.

    Between 2000 and the present I found myself slowly drifting away from Dream Theater towards other bands, perhaps because of my natural tendency to seek out music which is challenging or progressive or out-there. It never got to the point of outright dislike for the band, but they had long since relinquished their title of "Brad's favourite band" by the time they finally made it here.

    However, for a brief few hours on January 29th, 2008... Brad-circa-2000 was risen from the dead. Suddenly I was almost shaking with excitement on my way to the venue. Excited that they were actually, really, truly playing in Australia at last; excited that I had managed to score passes to the after-show meet and greet with the band. If you had said to me eight years ago that one day Jordan Rudess would shake my hand and already know who I was, I would have kicked you in the nuts for making such an outlandish comment. Well, maybe not, but you know.

    Before the show, I briefly sat in on the band's soundcheck before heading out to pick up our after-show passes. After wrangling unsuccessfully with the self-important bitch of a box office attendant about getting passes for other people, Salty called over someone involved in the tour production he had met earlier, and everything was sorted. If you're reading this, self-important bitch of a box office attendant, you're a self-important bitch.

    When I finally got inside and met up with my friends in the front row, I was in the perfect position to witness this almighty collection of songs being played:

    1. Constant Motion
    2. Panic Attack
    3. Endless Sacrifice
    4. Surrounded
    5. The Dark Eternal Night
    6. Forsaken
    7. As I Am
    8. Take The Time

    9. Overture 1928
    10. Strange Déjà Vu
    11. Through My Words
    12. Fatal Tragedy
    13. Erotomania
    14. Voices
    15. The Spirit Carries On
    16. In The Presence Of Enemies

    17. Shmedley Wilcox

    Scenes From A Memory is my favourite Dream Theater album and - still, even after growing tired of the band - one of my favourite albums of all time, so during the second set I was giddy like a schoolgirl who just met Justin Timberlake. "Erotomania" is so much better live than on the record, and the crowd sing-along during "The Spirit Carries On" was simply amazing.

    Speaking of the crowd, it was one of the most pleasant, least pushy crowds I've been in. There seemed to be a real sense that everyone has been in the same boat together for years with regards to waiting for them to tour, so it felt like you were in a crowd with your brothers, not random drunk metalheads.

    There was a lot of chatting to strangers happening before the show and during the intermission, and a lot of people mentioning that they'd love to see Porcupine Tree tour next. I already knew that a tour had been confirmed but not announced, and I wanted so badly to let it slip, but I wasn't allowed to.

    Sound was pretty good even at the front of the crowd. I had trouble hearing James LaBrie's voice for the majority of the show, but when I caught a sliver of vocals it was usually spot on. I'm not the greatest fan of him as a singer, but as a showman he's more than capable, and he seemed to have a really good night.

    John Myung's fingers move impossibly fast. I was in complete awe the entire time he was playing. I swear there was visible blur even when viewing them with the naked eye. I'm waiting to see some photos, but I'll guarantee right now that his fingers are blurry in all of them.

    John Petrucci and Jordan Rudess seemed to really feed off the crowd's enthusiasm when they were playing, and Mike Portnoy got the biggest cheer of the night when he came out for the encore wearing a singlet with an Australian flag on it. The crowd went crazy when the introduction to "Trial Of Tears" was played to kick off the encore, and when it turned into the "Shmedley Wilcox" medley everyone knew that we had witnessed something special (it being the first time they've played that medley in Australia).

    When the show finally wound down after almost exactly three hours of music, the crowd was still as boisterous and raucous as at the beginning. At the after-show meet and greet, Rudess said that it was good to play in front of a big crowd after the comparatively small ones in Perth and Adelaide, so I think I can safely say that they heard our appreciation, and will definitely be back for more.

    This is reposted from my blog solarblaze
  • Quiz stolen from five_four

    Nov 4 2007, 17h17

    1. How did you get into 29? (Cog and The Flaming Lips)

    Cog I'm not sure, but I think someone said they were like Tool so I bought both Just Visiting EPs and loved them.

    The Flaming Lips I remember hearing "Do You Realize??" on an ad for VH1 years and years ago, probably just after it came out, but it took me a few years to go and find who it was.

    2. What was the first song you ever heard by 22? (Muse)

    It would have been around the time of Origin of Symmetry, so I'll go with track 1 off that ("New Born").

    3. What’s your favorite lyric by 33? (Opeth)

    I'm not a big lyrics listener, and I find Opeth's lyrics especially hard to understand.

    4. What is your favorite album by 49? (The Dear Hunter)

    I only have Act II: The Meaning Of And All Things Regarding Ms. Leading, so that.

    5. How many albums by 13 do you own? (The Mars Volta)

    Three.

    6. What is your favorite song by 50? (Gotye)

    Wow, Gotye's pretty far down my chart. Favourite track would be "The Only Way".

    7. Is there a song by 39 that makes you sad? (Sigur Ros)

    No, I find most of them quite uplifting.

    8. What is your favorite album by 15? (Panic! at the Disco and Coheed and Cambria)

    P!ATD is easy because they only have one album.

    Coheed is a little tougher since there is competition but I'd say In Keeping Secrets Of Silent Earth: 3 is miles better than their others.

    9. What is your favorite song by 5? (My Chemical Romance)

    They're more of an "album" band than a "song" band for me, but I'd say probably "Helena", or their cover of "Under Pressure" with The Used.

    10. Is there a song by 6 that makes you happy? (Pain of Salvation)

    A lot of them make me quite sad, but I don't think any would actually make me feel happy.

    11. What is your favorite album by 40? (The Receiving End of Sirens)

    Between The Heart And The Synapse.

    12. What is your favorite song by 10? (mewithoutYou)

    Probably "January 1979", or maybe anything from Brother, Sister.

    13. What is a good memory you have involving 30? (The Ramones)

    Hmm... can't really think of any. I know that people wearing Ramones T-shirts shit me to no end, but that's not so much a memory.

    14. What is your favorite song by 38? (Sparta)

    "Cut Your Ribbon".

    15. Is there a song by 19 that makes you happy? (Dead Letter Circus)

    "Lines" and "The Mile".

    16. How many times have you seen 25 live? (No Doubt)

    Zero. I don't think I was even into music when they were here, not that I actually know for sure when that was.

    17. What is the first song you ever heard by 23? (Trial Kennedy)

    I'm not sure because it was a gig and I didn't know any of the songs.

    18. What is your favorite album by 11? (The Butterfly Effect)

    Imago.

    19. Who is a favorite member of 1? (Porcupine Tree)

    Wow that's a hard one. Steven Wilson is a true songwriting genius, but Gavin Harrison is one of the most underrated drummers in the world. I'd have to go with SW.

    20. Have you ever seen 14 live? (Panic! at the Disco and Coheed and Cambria)

    I've seen P!ATD twice, but I missed Coheed last time they came out because I saw Kanye West instead. I will be seeing them at Soundwave though. (y)

    21. What is a good memory involving 27? (Faith No More)

    The first time I heard "Epic" late at night on music TV and was like "holy shit who is that band?!"

    Also, the fact that I was able to remember parts of the "Ashes to Ashes" video from my childhood without having any idea who they were until almost a decade later.

    22. What is your favorite song by 16? (Template)

    Hmm, that's tough. "Hollywouldn't" is the highlight of the first album... as for the second, probably "Six Years Ago".

    23. What is the first song you ever heard by 47? (Devin Townsend)

    I'm not 100% sure, but I think it was "Depth Charge".

    24. What is your favorite album by 18? (Midtown)

    I only have one: Forget What You Know.

    25. What is your favorite song by 21? (Black Sabbath)

    That's another hard one... "Black Sabbath", "Paranoid", "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath", "Fluff"... they're all good.

    26. What is the first song you ever heard by 26? (Red Hot Chili Peppers)

    I remember quite vividly the time I first saw the video for "My Friends". That's weird, huh?

    27. What is your favorite album by 3? (Circa Survive)

    Probably Juturna, but it's pretty close.

    28. What is you favorite song by 22? (Muse)

    "Plug-In Baby", "Citizen Erased", "Muscle Museum", "Stockholm Syndrome", "Sing For Absolution"...

    29. What was the first song you ever heard by 32? (Simian Gibbet)

    Wow, I have no idea... it was fuckin' ages ago. I can say with almost certainty that the first song that appealed to me was "Way Down Low Where The Monkeys Grow".

    30. What is you favorite song by 8? (Karnivool)

    "Themata" when it's played live. But on record, probably "Synops" and "Mauseum". Their cover of "The Only Way" by Gotye is pretty bitchin' too.

    31. How many times have you seen 17 live? (A Perfect Circle)

    Once, and I got Billy Howardel's slide. :D

    32. Is there a song by 44 that makes you happy? (Tapes 'n' Tapes)

    Most of them do, they're a very happy band, but especially "Cowbell".

    33. What is you favorite album by 12? (The Sound of Animals Fighting)

    Tiger And The Duke..

    34. What is the worst song by 45? (OSI)

    Probably "Our Town".

    35. What was the first song you ever heard by 34? (System of a Down)

    The FIRST was probably "Chop Suey!" or "Toxicity" or something, but the first song I heard and LIKED was "Violent Pornography".

    36. What is you favorite album by 48? (Arcturus)

    Shipwrecked Frontier Pioneer.

    37. How many times have you seen 42 live? (Dukes Of Windsor)

    Twice? Maybe three times. No, twice. Once opening for The Butterfly Effect and once on their own.

    38. What is you favorite song by 36? (Metallica)

    Probably "Fade To Black" or "One".

    39. What was the first song you ever heard by 28? (Cog)

    I'd say track 1 of Just Visiting Part One ("Moshiach").

    40. What is your favorite album by 7? (Regina Spektor)

    Begin To Hope

    41. Is there a song by 31 that makes you happy? (Pink Floyd)

    Parts of The Wall I find humourous ("if you don't eat your meat, you can't have any pudding!"), and "Pigs" from Animals is darkly funny.

    42. What is your favorite album by 41? (Chiodos)

    All's Well That Ends Well. I haven't heard the new one much yet.

    43. What is your favorite song by 24? (The Used)

    It's been a while since I've listened to them, but I loved "Maybe Memories" back in the day. Plus their cover of "Under Pressure" with My Chemical Romance.

    44. What is a good memory you have involving 46? (Anathema)

    The time I first heard A Fine Day To Exit. Such beauty.

    45. What is your favorite song by 35? (At the Drive-In)

    Every time I listen to Relationship Of Command, each track becomes my favourite. But I'd say probably "Enfilade" or "Pattern Against User".

    46. Is there a song by 9 that makes you happy? (Dream Theater)

    Hmmm, not really. Probably "Learning To Live" cause it's such a great song.

    47. What is your favorite album by 4? (Birds of Tokyo)

    Day One (the only one).

    48. Who is a favorite member of 37? (Meshel, Ash and Kip with Luttsy)

    Haha... that's a podcast of the Nova Brisbane breakfast show. My favourite would probably be Luttsy.

    49. What is the first song you ever heard by 43? (Foo Fighters)

    First was "My Hero", first I liked was "Learn To Fly".

    50. How many albums do you own by 20? (Tool)

    Five, or four if you count Opiate as an EP.
  • Top 100 albums

    Out 9 2007, 20h10

    Idea and format stolen from five_four.

    A Perfect Circle - Thirteenth Step
    Against Me! - New Wave
    Anathema - A Fine Day To Exit
    Anberlin - Cities
    Arcturus - Sideshow Symphonies
    At the Drive-In - Relationship Of Command
    Birds of Tokyo - Day One
    Black Sabbath - Black Sabbath
    Black Sabbath - Sabbath Bloody Sabbath
    Blackfield - Blackfield

    Chroma Key - Dead Air For Radios
    Circa Survive - Juturna
    Circa Survive - On Letting Go
    Clann Zu - Rua
    Cog - The New Normal
    Coheed and Cambria - In Keeping Secrets Of Silent Earth 3
    Dead Letter Circus - Dead Letter Circus
    Death Cab for Cutie - Plans
    Devin Townsend - Accelerated Evolution
    Devin Townsend - Ziltoid The Omniscient

    Dream Theater - Awake
    Dream Theater - Metropolis Pt 2: Scenes From A Memory
    Dukes Of Windsor - The Others
    Emerson, Lake and Palmer - Tarkus
    Faith No More - Angel Dust
    Finger Eleven - Finger Eleven
    Foo Fighters - One By One
    Genesis - Selling England By The Pound
    Godspeed You! Black Emperor - Yanqui UXO
    Gotye - Like Drawing Blood

    Green Day - American Idiot
    Isis - In The Absence Of Truth
    Jeff Wayne - War Of The Worlds
    Karnivool - Themata
    Katatonia - The Great Cold Distance
    Laura - Mapping Your Dreams
    Led Zeppelin - IV
    Led Zeppelin - In Through The Out Door
    Metallica - Master Of Puppets
    mewithoutYou - Brother, Sister

    mewithoutYou - Catch For Us The Foxes
    Midtown - Forget What You Know
    Mogwai - Come On Die Young
    Mogwai - Rock Action
    Muse - Absolution
    My Chemical Romance - The Black Parade
    My Chemical Romance - Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge
    Nirvana - Nevermind
    No Doubt - Rock Steady
    No Doubt - Tragic Kingdom

    OSI - Free
    OSI - Office Of Strategic Influence
    Oceansize - Everyone Into Position
    Offspring - Ignition
    Opeth - Blackwater Park
    Opeth - Ghost Reveries
    Pain of Salvation - Entropia
    Pain of Salvation - Remedy Lane
    Pain of Salvation - Scarsick
    Pain of Salvation - The Perfect Element

    Panic! at the Disco - A Fever You Can't Sweat Out
    Pelican - Australasia
    Pelican - City Of Echoes
    Pink Floyd - Animals
    Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here
    Porcupine Tree - Deadwing
    Porcupine Tree - Fear Of A Blank Planet
    Porcupine Tree - In Absentia
    Porcupine Tree - Stupid Dream
    Porcupine Tree - Voyage 34

    Radiohead - OK Computer
    Regina Spektor - Begin To Hope
    Regina Spektor - Soviet Kitsch
    Rush - 2112
    RX Bandits - ... And The Battle Begun
    Simian Gibbet - Simian Gibbet
    Sparta - Wiretap Scars
    Spock's Beard - V
    Starsailor - Silence Is Easy
    System of a Down - Mesmerize

    Tapes N Tapes - The Loon
    Template - I Thought I Turned The World, But It Turned On Me
    The Arcade Fire - Funeral
    The Butterfly Effect - Begins Here
    The Butterfly Effect - Imago
    The Dear Hunter - Act II: The Meaning Of And All THings Regarding Ms. Leading
    The Flaming Lips - Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots
    The Mars Volta - Amputechture
    The Mars Volta - De-Loused In The Comatorium
    The Postal Service - Give Up

    The Receiving End of Sirens - Between The Heart And The Synapse
    The Sound of Animals Fighting - Tiger And The Duke
    The Spiders Sleep - 'neath
    The Third Ending - The Third Ending
    The Used - In Love And Death
    The Used - The Used
    Tool - Undertow
    Transatlantic - Bridge Across Forever
    Trial Kennedy - Picture Frame
    Up-C Down-C Left-C Right-C ABC + Start - And The Battle Is Won