By chizm Nov.17.2010
In: Album Reviews, Commentary, listen, Other, Recommended
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Bassheads Unite! New Bassnectar Mix

Bassnectar

Bass-music maestro Bassnectar has recorded a new mix for the UKs BBC Radio1 and uploaded it for our listening pleasure. As usual the North American dubstep and bass-infused hip hop king not only hits the nail on the head but knocks a hole right through the wall, leaving the listener in a dancing/headbanging stupor.

Do yourself a favour and download this. Now.

By Jye Smith Aug.17.2010
In: Recommended
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The Prodigy Vs. Elite Force - Smack The Force Up

Free The Prodigy Download

This one just came over the Twitter stream. Remember to give us a follow if you havent.

By Stuart McPhee Mar.8.2010
In: Commentary, Opinion, Other, Recommended
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The Defamation of Ben Drew

Back in the early days of The Music Blogs I wrote about the brave choices artists often make, in particular when they leave one band to start another. Ben Drew aka Plan B, though a solo artist, has effectively just done the same thing.

Anyone who picked up his startling debut, the 2006 grime-fest Who Need Actions When You’ve Got Words, may well ponder what has happened in these ensuing three years. For you see, the forthcoming The Defamation of Strickland Banks has Drew performing the old switcheroo and my guess is that some of the bruvvas ain’t going to like it. Where the first album was wall to wall rap with some tasty vocal hooks thrown in every few songs (Drew’s own secret weapon), on Defamation you will mostly find a Smokey Robinson album with rap taking a quite noticeable back seat.

I kid you not.

But I am not surprised at this and neither should you. His voice is too good to have played second fiddle for much longer and above all, Drew is a talented artist smart enough not to be pigeon-holed.

Back in 2006 I had the privilege of interviewing Plan B for a magazine I was working for at the time. In that interview he said:

“I tell stories in hip-hop because I’m not gangster and I am not anyone special, I’m just a regular guy. The only way I know how to rap and make it interesting is talking about other people’s stories and other people’s lives.”

Just as he used the genre of hip-hop to convey his stories back then, now he uses R&B to tell his tales. R&B is where Drew first started out before becoming disillusioned with it. I’d like to think all he needed was the right songs to make it happen. From what I have heard so far – he has them.

For those that are new to his work and want a comparison, here is a little something from his first album, the great ‘Mama’ and new tune ‘Writing’s On The Wall’.

The Defamation Of Strickland Banks is released on April 12.

By Jye Smith Aug.5.2009
In: Recommended
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Eminem: "The Warning" (Mariah Carey Diss) (MP3)

Well, this is the Mariah Carey diss/”Obsessed” response that everyone’s been waiting for from the notoriously maladjusted Eminem. That is, if everyone has been continually stooped over the computer monitors, waiting for pop stars to dive into the miasma of their lives.

Listen and Download Here

By Jye Smith Apr.17.2009
In: Commentary, Concerts, Recommended
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I'll fest your blues in a minute.

In the rush to get to the Jambalaya Stage before Toni Childs, there was a frenzied stampede in which four punters were lost.

The stampede to see Toni Childs.

It’s been three days and the post-blues blues are sort of beginning to fade. The 2009 East Coast Blues & Roots Music Festival was my first Bluesfest, and proved to be a superb way to pop the cherry and chill out in Byron Bay for a few days.

What was awesome?

1. Blue King Brown – I’ve never seen BKB live before but the energy and mood of their whole set was simply joyous. Natalie Pa’apa’a was smoking in some short-shorts and a leetle black singlet. I chugged two Smirnoff Ice’s and danced the whole way through.

2. Seasick Steve – what a fascinating man. The 68 year old guitarist still looks like the hobo he used to be (and took frequent swigs of whisky from a bottle under his chair in between songs) but his sound is superb and his stories are humbling. Easily the crowd favourite among the smaller Bluesfest acts. Read the full story

By Stuart McPhee Apr.15.2009
In: Commentary, Opinion, Other, Recommended
2 comments

Your Search Is Over

rsday

“But what we will miss, when our entire culture is sold through one big chain-store shopping mall called Borderstones, is the stuff that floats to the surface on a bubble of personal enthusiasm.” – Nick Hornby

Sometime in the late 90s my good friend Bill had this crazy notion about wanting to open a record store. I say crazy for a few reasons. By the end of the century, the music retail landscape (in Australia) was dominated by HMV, Sanity and JB Hi-Fi, big companies with more buying power than some Pacific Nations. Also, a pesky little thing called Napster was just about to hit the Internet, forever changing the way we would consume music. To top it off, Bill was a Deputy Principal of a High School and in his mid-forties. His entire retail experience consisted of a part time job as a supermarket cashier before he went to teacher’s college.

Despite all this, his notion (nay his dream) became a reality and on the 1st of March 1999, Atlantis Music opened. I know this because before I became a corporate fat cat I worked in the store with Bill. The two of us along with my flatmate and great friend Chad (to complete the triumvirate) worked tirelessly for weeks on end in those first months of 1999 to get the store ready for opening day. To say we winged a lot of it is understating the gravity of the situation.

The aim of the store was simple: give the customer more than what any other music retail business could offer – outstanding customer service. No I know that is part and parcel of anyone trying to sell you something but we could never compete on the same playing field financially. Money can buy you as many CDs to stock the shelves as you desire, it could not buy you the personalised service we were offering. Any album in the world? We were prepared to track the ends of the earth to find it. Our slogan was simple: Your search is over…You’ve found Atlantis Music.

Sure, we stocked the pop princesses, but we aimed to cover much more ground than the current play lists of the Austereo Network. A decent range of back catalogue? Yes. Second hand? We had it. Vinyl? 7, 12, even 10 inch? Sure thing. 78’s? We had so many we could have sold them by the pound. Old sheet music? Enough to wallpaper a studio apartment.

And that was just the tip of the iceberg. We haven’t even discussed memorabilia, original movie posters or our specially made record cleaner (otherwise known as the blue goo).

The range of stock was one thing but to establish a long lasting relationship was the key. We wanted a regular customer to enter the store, be greeted by their first name and engage in robust discussion about the affairs of the world. When they enquired about the new one by ‘so and so’ we wanted to have it on the new release shelf or, better still, to produce a copy from behind the counter and say, “we ordered one specifically for you”. Did this always occur? Of course not, but you bet your ass we kept aiming for that perfect customer experience.

I clocked out after 8 and a half years (Chad not long after), ready for new challenges that would lay ahead. Yet I can honestly say I enjoyed waking up every day and going to work in the store. Who wouldn’t enjoy listening and discussing music for 8 hours a day? My time there is full of so many great stories and larks but the one I always remember, which occurred in the first few months there, was when a middle aged man got a bit shouty at me over the song “Cat’s In The Cradle”. He swore black and blue it was on the album Tea For The Tillerman by Cat Stevens and was a little more than agitated that a 20 year old kid was telling him that Cat Stevens never sang it and if the man was so sure then to prove it.

I even offered him a copy of Verities & Balderdash by Harry Chapin (which contains the song he was after) to purchase.

I guess there was no pleasing some people.

I am proud to say that last month, Atlantis Music celebrated a decade in the business. Pretty phenomenal you must admit in this current state of not only music retail but global economic misery as well. It is a testament to Bill’s vision that the store is still a success whilst many of his contemporaries are sadly shutting their doors for good.

In a few days time we celebrate Record Store Day, a recent creation designed to highlight the unique culture of the independently owned record store. Whilst I understand the push for a lot of the music business to go digital, I hope deep down that there is always a place for the record store in our lives.

Now that I am the customer and no longer the retailer, a customer continually searching for new music, I mean that more than ever.

By Dan Clarke Mar.4.2009
In: Commentary, Concerts, Other, Production, Recommended
3 comments

Tony Allen - Master Drummer

Tony Allen

It’s hard not to be a little overcome in the presence of afrobeat originator Tony Allen.

After all, Brian Eno has described him as “perhaps the greatest drummer who has ever lived.” Since the early sixties he’s been a pioneering force in contemporary African music, and his influence can be heard across a broad spectrum of musical styles. I asked Tony what first inspired him to pick up the drum sticks.

“I wanted to create my own style of music. God gave me a gift, and I followed my own path.”

He pauses to reflect for a moment, and adds “I always wanted to be different than other drummers, that’s why I’ve never tried to do anything else than afrobeat.”

Afrobeat was borne of an aim to provide social commentary on the inequalities inherent in African society. As a part of Fela Kuti’s Africa ’70, Allen was a foundational force in its development. He is quick to note that the problems afrobeat confronts are not exclusive to the continent, and in fact much of the drive behind the movement was motivated by struggles overseas.

“The social problems are not concentrated in Africa. Don’t forget that Fela had to go to the USA in 1969, meeting with the US black people to start to realize his Africanism.. As soon as we came back from the states, he started his fight against the governments and the dictature.”

A thoughtful expression crosses his faces as he muses “One sometimes has to move away from his own country to be completely aware of his home.”

Rather than adopt the same style of protest that his American contemporaries were developing, Allen states that he was always drawn to create something unique.

“I always wanted to sound different than U.S. jazz or hip hop artists. I hoped that maybe this alternative music vision would be able to effect someting in our society.”

With such a long history, I ask Tony whether he feels afrobeat might have lost some of its political urgency. I wonder whether it is still as politically charged.

“As long as African people will suffer of many diseases, there will always be artists fighting for them.”

His influence on popular music cannot be understated. The past twenty years have seen him collaborate with many big name artists. It would seem he has a soft spot for Blur and Gorillaz front man Damon Albarn.

(As Albarn does for him. The 2000 Blur single ‘Music Is My Radar’ is a tribute to Allen, the song ending with Albarn repeating the phrase “Tony Allen got me dancing.”)

“My aim has always been to fuse afrobeat with other styles of music and to spread it all over the world. I love to experience my drumming with others, like my different collaborations with Damon Albarn.”

His work with Albarn has included drumming on The Good, The Bad and The Queen album  released in 2007, and he assures me there will be more to come from the pair, among other works.

“I am currently working with Damon Albarn on a new album project with other guests. I am also involved in Africa Express, a series of events promoting African music. We’ve had some hectic shows at Glastonbury, Liverpool, Lagos and Kinshasa, and there’s more to come in 2009.”

The world of music has changed a lot since Allen first taught himself to drum, but he remains optimistic about the industry as a whole. Whatever some might say about music losing some of its soul, it remains essential to him.

“It is vital for me. I don’t care what people may say about it.”

Allen shows no signs of retiring as time goes on, with his many collaborations in the works as well as a new album ready for release.

“My new album “Secret agent” will be released next June under World Circuit Records. But I won’t play my new album in this Australian tour.. next time for sure!”

Allen tours Australia in March. For info, head over here.

Musicfeeds - Tighter than a nun’s schedule!

By Stuart McPhee Jan.20.2009
In: Commentary, Opinion, Recommended
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...Or rock some mink boots in the summertime like Will.I.Am

u2-no-line-on-the-horizonLove them or hate them, U2 are the only band to have lasted so long and with the same lineup while still managing to release big selling albums and hit singles.

3 things to note for their upcoming album No Line On The Horizon:

1. ‘Get On Your Boots’ is the lead single. While it is early days for me to form a decent opinion, the best description I have heard is the song is a mix of  Elvis Costello’s ‘Pump It Up’ and The Temptation’s ‘Ball Of Confusion (That’s What The World Is Today)’. I will say that this is the most relaxed and playful they have sounded since ‘Discotheque’ dropped, subsequently confusing all and sundry.

2. It is reported that Will.I.Am is involved in some way with the track ‘I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight’. I am an open minded individual so I will reserve judgement until I hear the tune. Suffice to say I am always weary of people who have a co-writing credit on a song called ‘My Humps’. Grammy or no Grammy.

and 3. Trent Reznor deserves a credit in the liner notes. U2 have clearly pinched his style for the album cover.

For all the guff, including a stream of ‘Get On Your Boots’, go to: http://goyb.u2.com/

By Stuart McPhee Jan.14.2009
In: Production, Recommended
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Oasis: Taking It To The Streets

oasisPart canny marketing idea and part musical goodwill (surprising considering Liam Gallagher is involved), last September Oasis decided to preview four songs from their then upcoming album ‘Dig Out Your Soul’.

How did they do it? Liam, Andy and Gem went to New York, recruited a wide variety of subway musicians, taught them the songs and had them play the new material in their own unique way to the public.

Chronicled in HD by video makers The Malloys, Dig Out Your Soul In The Streets is a great mini-documentary showing the universal passion for music, radical interpretations of rock tunes and a humbled bunch of lads from Manchester.

Well almost.

Check it out: Oasis – Dig Out Your Soul In The Streets

By Stuart McPhee Dec.22.2008
In: Album Reviews, Commentary, Opinion, Recommended
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TMB's favourite albums of 2008

switchedonsantaIf we can blow our own trumpet for a second.

The great thing about The Music Blogs is that the staff writers come from different backgrounds and different towns and have varied musical influences. We are not all from the same hipster textbook (or any textbook for that matter) but we definitely share the common love of recorded sound.

It is here, with our 1st annual list of TMB’s favourite albums, that this communal adoration of music is best illustrated. We hope you enjoy reading it as much as we enjoyed putting it together.

Thanks for all your support in our first year. Here’s to a great 2009!

Andrew Stapleton

eaglesofdeathmetal

Eagles of Death Metal :: Heart On

This band is the magically sex injected mo’ sportin’ rock devil, Jesse “Boots Electric” Hughes and the endlessly talented and insanely individual Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age, Kyuss) or “Baby Duck” as he’s known here. Heart On is basically an onslaught of catchy as all buggery fuck hooks, buzzy/cool/weird geeeeetars, broken trashbag drums, farty basslines (farty in the best possible sense; as in its your own fart, and you’re watching everyone keel over on the ground having seizures while you stand triumphantly over their quivering bodies with a smug, accomplished look on your face as you take in the wofty aromas of cheese and onion chips with oaky overtones of beer and nachos) and lyrics that are funny, sexy and even sincere and genuine at times.

It’s a great example of Josh’s ability to jam a tonne of character into every single element of a song; from the lead guitar right down to the high-hats and cowbells. He basically plays most of the intruments, plus he produced and mixed the damn thing too. This, mixed with Jesse’s loveable-ness and developed songwriting and unashamedly rock and roll, boogie-woogie stylings makes it the funnest, most danceable and re-listenable album I’ve heard in very very very very very long time.

Buy it!

Key Track: The whole thing is solid gold but I’d say High Voltage

Anique Vered

lykkeli

Lykke Li :: Youth Novels

The thing that I most love about music is how I find myself surrendering to feelings of calm, clarity, peace, heart-throbbing love VS head-banging, hip-swinging, feet-stomping craaazyiness all at the same time.  And so, whilst listening to Swedish 22 year old Lykke Li’s album Youth Novels, I’ve found myself gazing out to the horizon all melancholic-like, and at other times, dancing around like a Tom Cruise-inspired-cleaner with my 80s-punk-and-free jives.

Indeed Lykke Li exudes a freshness that seeps into your skin.  Complimented by producer and co-writer Björn Yttling, from renowned Indie-Pop band Peter Bjorn and John, this album decks up just the right amount of … well, as Lykke describes her genre herself: “Other / Other”.   Every song on “Youth Novels” takes you to another station on the Lykke Li subway – each with their own unique characters, smells, sounds and settings – add to this her radiating honesty and Björn’s beats, and you’ve got yourself the ride of the year.

This is definitely one worth buying to share with the grandkids I say.

Key tracks: Tonight and Dance Dance Dance

Annik Skelton

lauramarling

Laura Marling :: Alas, I Cannot Swim

This eighteen year old British-born indie/folk artist has released a gorgeous debut album of delicate, refreshing tracks to keep you leaning forward and listening carefully. Thought-provoking lyrics, intricate guitar work and soft-yet-powerful vocals pay testament to a maturity far beyond Marling’s years as she takes us on a journey of love, lust, religion, self-loathing, death and a constant quest for truth. Each build-up engages flawlessly as this album proves that less is definitely more.

Key tracks: Night Terror and Tap At My Window

Geoff Kim

thedears

The Dears :: Missiles

It feels a little disjointed, almost awkward, on first listen, but over the course of the year it grew to become my favourite record of 2008. There is a certain sense of tenderness and heart that has not been seen since Arcade Fire’s ‘Funeral’ and you will be thoroughly rewarded if you allow it some time to sink in. Headphones recommended.

Key track: Crisis 1 & 2

Jye Smith

citycolour

City & Colour :: Live

Without a doubt my favourite album released this year is Dallas Green’s solo operation: City & Colour and in particular their Live release.  It’s a powerful, emotive and most noticeably of all it’s very pure.  His voice carries with it a certain piercing quality that really articulates the tone and message of each track.

The album includes a few unreleased tracks which are very special.  The alternative version of Coming Home is also a great look at the potential of these recordings — each and every song seems to have an endless amount of power behind it and Green’s control of this power is unmatched.

Key track: Day Old Hate

Nathanael Boehm

blissneso

Bliss N Eso :: Flying Colours

One of my favourite Australian hip-hop releases and album this year. A strong, pumping selection of tracks with a fresh variety of sounds across the album.

Key track: The Sea Is Rising

Peta Kiellor

eaglesofdeathmetal

Eagles Of Death Metal :: Heart On

How can you go wrong with a title like Heart On? Seriously. This album is beyond amazing as far as I’m concerned; it was the first I ever heard of these guys and was recommended by a friend who insisted he wouldn’t leave me alone until I listened to it in its entirety. Which I did… something like 7 times in the first day. And it’s still in the CD player in my car.

This album is a perfect mix of sleaze, sex and power-chord driven stoner rock in which most tracks are about girls, the beach, tight pants and parties. It’s nothing for the faint hearted, conservative, or anyone with any moral or intellectual values. Those who love this album will love it for eternity. And will understand why those of us already listening to it already only want to get drunk and party until dawn.

Go buy it. Really.

Key track: High Voltage.

Rob Tilleard

boniver

Bon Iver :: For Emma, Forever Ago

So much has already been written on the drama, sorrow and tragedies that inspired Justin Vernon’s debut as Bon Iver. It is not worth attempting to dissect the heartache and loneliness that inhabits this album. This is a man who is, or was, sad. That he manages to convey such sorrow in such a beautiful way does not make it any happier. Vernon travels to a place we have all been at least once, a dark place. A swirling mix of emotions and deep deep sorrow.

That Vernon’s lyrics themselves are disjointed, forming their own puzzle, draws us into his own isolated world. The words are as disturbed and searching as Vernon plainly was as he wrote the album. On Re:Stacks Vernon rustles up some confusing imagery: there’s a black crow sitting across from me\his wiry legs are crossed\and he’s dangling my keys he even fakes a toss\whatever could it be\that has brought me to this loss?. Shit, I have no idea what that means, seriously, can’t the fucking crow just give the poor man his keys back? Yet his tentative high pitched wail and impassioned yearning delves past that and shoots right for the heart. Easily the album of the year.

Key track: The Wolves (Act I and II) – A journey into the heart of darkness.

Scott Drummond

calexico

Calexico :: Carried To Dust

It’s been hard for me not to like Calexico, even if 2006’s Garden Ruin lacked the cinematic grandeur of some of their previous records. Happily, with Carried to Dust they’re back to their mariachi-loving, Morricone-infused best. The record features accomplished cameos from Tortoise’s Doug McCombs  and Iron and Wine’s Sam Beam, and poppy numbers like Writer’s Minor Holiday help to add light to the beautiful shade of the album’s more expansive core.

Key track: Hard to pick one, but at a push Two Silver Trees is haunting, dense yet seductive – can’t stop listening to it.

Stanley Johnston

neilyoung

Neil Young :: Sugar Mountain (Live At Canterbury House 1968)

This intimate live recording by Neil Young has been buried in the vaults for 40 years. Recorded just a couple of days before Young’s 23rd birthday, it finds him finding his feet as a solo performer following the acrimonious breakup of Buffalo Springfield. The highlight of this album is, believe it or not, the between song banter, with Young having plenty to talk about.

Key track – Many of these songs were yet to be recorded, so Young was beta testing them with a live audience. My personal favourite is the show closer – Broken Arrow.

Stewart Heys

thebug

The Bug :: London Zoo

This was an album I knew was going to be strong as soon as I started listening to it. The opening track ‘Angry’ commands attention with its drum beats alone, and when Tippa Irie gets going, you know things are going to get rough. The assault continues for most of the album, but there are moments where the ragga/ dancehall aspects drift away to leave a more Burial-esque minimalist dubstep flavour. By the time Warrior Queen appears for her second guest appearance on Poison Dart towards the end, I had experienced a distinct beginning, middle and end as if I had just heard a great story.

And that is the point of this album – there is a vast amount of creativity and variation within the tracks, but it all fits together perfectly. The spooky, dystopian tone sits nicely alongside the at times confrontational evolutionary/ revolutionary lyrics and punching, driving basslines. And these contrasts match the very positive, uplifting message I take from listening to this album – sure, things are a mess at the moment, but we can and will sort it out.

Key Track: Poison Dart featuring Warrior Queen

Stuart McPhee

teddythompson

Teddy Thompson :: A Piece Of What You Need

Due to my own strict rules/his crappy release date (circle where appropriate), Lupe Fiasco misses the cut this year. However, Brit Teddy Thompson is certainly no also-ran and his fourth album A Piece Of What You Need had me talking him up to anyone that would sit still for a minute. His sophisticated brand of Pop music blended with Country-ish vocals (think Roy Orbison) help to produce classic tunes like first single ‘In My Arms’ and the sweeping and remorseful ‘Don’t Know What I Was Thinking’.

A measure of an artist and an album is the ability to persuade the first time listener to immediately track down the rest of their back catalogue. Mission accomplished Mr Thompson, well played sir.

Key Track: In My Arms

Ty Pendlebury

deerhunter

Deerhunter :: Microcastle

I haven’t been this obsessed with an album since Okkervil River’s Black Sheep Boy. It’s a slow-burner and not as willfully weird as last year’s Cryptograms — though there are some Breeders’ Last Splash-type moments. This is a gorgeously languid shoegaze of an album, and if you thought the second coming of My Bloody Valentine was the most exciting thing to happen this year, then you’re almost right.

Key track: Nothing Ever Happened

By Stuart McPhee Nov.23.2008
In: Album Reviews, Opinion, Recommended
2 comments

Nothing a month? Yeah, I think we can swing that: My 5 favourite free downloads of 2008

As I have stated once before: I am a material guy in a digital world. Buying a full album online still does not wash with me and no amount of exclusive bonus tracks or digital booklets can sway my opinion. I do however purchase a lot of new singles to the point that I need to set up some sort of tab arrangement with iTunes like Norm had with Sam Malone.

Free albums on the other hand I’ll happily download anytime. Of course by ‘free albums’ I don’t mean using a P2P service to grab the latest Metallica album for nix. This year especially there have been some solid free releases by artists and I thought I would share with you my four favourites as well as the best free music related podcast in the world.

The CharlatansYou Cross My Path

Back in March this year, UK stalwarts The Charlatans partnered up with radio station Xfm to drop their 10th album online for nothing. Sounding more like New Order as the years go by, fourth single ‘Mis-Takes’ is one of my favourite songs of 2008. No longer available through Xfm but an album worth seeking out regardless (it was released on CD in May).

Nine Inch NailsThe Slip

With the simple message from Trent Reznor: “thank you for your continued and loyal support over the years – this one’s on me”, The Slip was made available with no prior announcement on May 5th. All of a sudden, NIN has become prolific and we are all better for it.

Girl TalkFeed The Animals

I remember back in 2006 a guy coming into the record store that I worked in and asking for Girl Talk. After politely showing him ‘The Best of Dave Edmunds’ album he shook his head and explained the ‘Night Ripper’ album and its concept.  2008s Feed The Animals is another brilliant collection of samples blending into and on top of one another. The album’s only fault is that it doesn’t contain ‘Girls Talk’ by Dave Edmunds. Perhaps next time.

Mick Boogie & Terry UrbanViva La Hova

Whilst Coldplay purists weep on message boards around the interweb, the rest of us can’t get enough of this brilliant mash up album with Jay-Z and the second biggest band in the world. Inspired by the remix of ‘Lost!’, some great underground producers have put together some fantastic tunes, my favourites being ‘Never Changing’ and ‘Public Speeding’. Both acts have given it the thumbs up as well, that’s praise you can’t buy.

Sound OpionionsWeekly Podcast

A great weekly radio program originating from Chicago, Sound Opinions is the self proclaimed “world’s only Rock N Roll talk show”. While that boast can’t be confirmed, its hosts Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot are well respected music critics with a wealth of knowledge. You won’t always agree with them but you will enjoy their insights and fantastic guests. Worth an hour of your time each week.

By Jye Smith Nov.21.2008
In: Album Reviews, Recommended
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Scott Matthews can pass my stranger any day

Fuck me, this man is brilliant. Scott Matthews hails from Wolverhampton in England and burst onto the UK charts back in 2006 with his debut album, Passing Stranger. You might have heard the mournful single, Elusive, on Triple J and thought you were listening to some previously undiscovered Jeff Buckley. But Elusive is just the tip of the iceberg and barely begins to showcase Matthews’ talent.

Passing Stranger is a collection of beautifully crafted urban folk-rock gems. From crunchy blues riffs to sliding guitars to delicately picked melodies, Matthews has perfected his acoustic sound. Woven into his songs is an entire medley of unexpected instruments to keep you on your toes, including tablas and a French accordian – each track is a magical experiment. Read the full story

By Stuart McPhee Oct.28.2008
In: Album Reviews, Other, Recommended
6 comments

Flying Under Your Radar: Epicure

Epicure - Postcards From A GhostLast Sunday evening as I sat in a bar in Elwood, a pint of beer in hand, listening to a good friend of mine sing the weekend away I noticed a woman at the table next to me.  Gillespie’s music often has that effect.

Yet it was another band that attracted me to her.

Many years ago (sometime after O.J. got off but before the towers came down) I was a journalism student at Griffith University when I became friends with a girl named Emma. Hello to Emma if she’s watching at home.

Emma, like me, also worked in a Record Store and we both shared a fondness for the music of Jeff Buckley. It was Emma who would put me on to the then unknown Ballarat band Epicure.

I say ‘then unknown’ but, short of one semi-hit single (‘Armies Against Me’ from 2002), Epicure are still not a household act in this country and I am at a loss to know why. I am hoping their latest record changes all that.

Postcards From A Ghost is the band’s fourth long player (not counting the 2001 B-Side collection Airmail - yes I own that as well) and it is certainly their most well rounded release, comprising the various styles they have dabbled in over the years. Whilst they continue to trade in the sort of bluesy piano numbers that typified 2005s Main Street like the gorgeous ‘Landslide’, the lads also show an urgency not heard in their songs for some time.

‘Snakes & Foxes’ is hands down one of the best opening salvos you’ll hear this year and certainly contains one of my favourite first lines: “When we first met you were dancing in some guys lap peering out beneath your cowboy hat going by another name.” Tell me you don’t have the visual in your head.

‘Blood On My Hands’, ‘Loves Me Not’ and first single ‘Cobra Kisses’ also bristle with the same energy and fervour. Vocalist Juan Alban sounds at home on these heavier tracks as he also does on songs like the introspective album closer ‘How This Will End’. I’m sure Juan is sick of the Ed Kowalczyk/Michael Stipe comparisons by now but it is worth noting this: I gave up buying Live and R.E.M. albums a while ago, I still wait in anticipation for Epicure releases.

Finally, an alt.country flourish (see: ‘One Last Chance To Reach You’ and ‘Soft Place To Fall’) courtesy of new guitarist Mick Hubbard (ex Jen Cloher And The Endless Sea – another great act) adds another dimension to the band’s overall sound.

Epicure are primed for the success they so richly deserve with the release of Postcards From A Ghost. I can only hope it comes their way.

Postscript: As it turned out, the woman in the bar looked a lot like Emma but it wasn’t her. I thankfully worked that out for myself without having to embarrassingly ask. Besides, if she had said no what was my reply to be without it sounding like I was trying to pick her up? I guess: “Buy the new Epicure album” would’ve worked.

By Jye Smith Oct.24.2008
In: Album Reviews, Recommended
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Sneaker Pimps kick more arse than you

I can’t begin to tell you how much the Sneaker Pimps kick arse. This British trip-hop outfit formed back in 1995 and have released three stellar smooth albums since. After the grooving Becoming X (1996), the group booted out vocalist Kelli Ali and guitarist Chris Corner took the lead. I think that’s awesome. Read the full story

By Jye Smith Sep.23.2008
In: Opinion, Recommended
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Fucking music

You bring a special stranger home from the pub and as you’re pouring them a drink, they wander over to your stereo and hit “play.” Good Charlotte blasts out, you get a punch in the face and end up watching your housemates’ porn before sleeping alone.

This all-too-common tragedy can be cleverly avoided by strategically stocking your bedroom with shag-happy tunes. Read the full story

By Jye Smith Sep.18.2008
In: Album Reviews, Recommended
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Corner of an Endless Road

Top on my playlist right now is Lior’s “Corner of an Endless Road.” This Israeli-born Australian singer-songwriter has put together a cracker of an album that explores his middle-eastern roots and showcases the depth of his writing finesse. Read the full story

City and Colour

City and Colour might just be my new favourite acoustic artist.  I was recommended them by Chizm and picked up two albums — Live and Sometimes.

City and Colour is an acoustic side-project fronted by Dallas Green, rhythm guitarist and singer for the Canadian post-hardcore band Alexisonfire. The current line-up also consists of Spencer Burton, Daniel Tavis Romano and Matt Sullivan.

Its clarity, brilliance and rich sound of the acoustic guitars you’ll notice only before being completely drawn into Green’s delicate yet powerful vocal tones.

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