By Stuart McPhee Mar.8.2010
In: Commentary, Opinion, Other, Recommended
Comments Off

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 Stewart Heys Mar.2.2010
In: Other
5 comments

Playground Weekender 2010: the best gets better

Carnivale Stage on Thursday at Playground Weekender

Just as the long-hairs were preparing for the arrival of AC/DC in Sydney, party-goers of a more funky persuasion were leaving the city behind to spend 4 days at Del Rio Resort in Wisemans Ferry, where Playground Weekender took place for the 4th time over the weekend.

Highs

Getting there – anyone that went last year will remember the nightmare that was waiting in the ferry queue for hours in 40 degree heat. This year there were more ferries on and the whole process was a comparatively beautiful experience.

The Carnivale area – one of the best spots for watching all the crazies filter past. I hope the chair people from Thursday night came back to Earth at some point.

The Melody Wine Bar – new for this year and a great place to finish the night. As it was nicely tucked away at the back of the same field as the main stage it was a perfect alternative if you found the Big Top a touch on the hectic side.

The police/ security team – their presence was noticeable but not intrusive, and they behaved like they were there to make sure festival-goers were safe, rather than looking to catch people out. Small things like barrier staff at the main stage wearing Indian head dresses make all the difference.

ManChoir – 8 blokes in wife-beaters singing (near) cover versions of Bon Jovi songs, Queen songs, and even the Home & Away theme tune (which they introduced as the Australian National Anthem). Much funnier and more entertaining than it sounds.

Orbital – still one of the best festival bands around. Unbelievable. And to the girl who gave me torches to clip to my glasses as they started, I will love you forever.

Fancy dress – I salute everyone that put in so much effort. From the couple in tailored green shopping bag suits to the guy in the ball dress/ gimp mask combo, the Muppets, the Stormtroopers and the Hitcher from the Mighty Boosh, congratulations for helping make the Saturday so special.

The weather – couldn’t have been better. Whoever organised it is a genius.

The can fairies – offering 20/ 50c for every Tiger can returned to the recycling bins was a brilliant idea and a win-win-win. The army of can fairies that sprang up got enough free drinks to see them through the evening,  made the festival a cleaner place for everyone and relieved pressure on the official cleaners.

The swimming pool – this qualifies a high and a low. Perfect area to be in during the day, and we are so lucky to have it at a music festival, but why do people need to shit in it? Not cool.

Lows

Pricey drinks – it makes it very hard to obey the rules and not sneak booze in when the going price for a small can of Tiger is $8. And a vodka & red bull for $12? Ouch.

Running out of cider – surely Festival organisers know by now that cider will be the drink of choice on a hot day. It was obvious, however, that the staff were working over time to bring more in. Maybe a Glastonbury-style cider bus would be a good idea.

The (Death Metal) Filth stage – great idea on paper, and a potentially great way of broadening the appeal of the Festival, but it just wasn’t that popular. A lot of the bands on there seemed pretty good, it just seemed that not many people were interested.

The comedy at the Shack – again, a good concept, but one that just didn’t fly with the punters. Tough gig though, I wouldn’t get up and tell jokes to a bunch of snarky pissheads who think they are funnier than the guy on stage.

Fancy dress – poor (= no) effort on my part. I will get involved in 2011 for sure. No excuses next time.

Playground Weekender is one of the few Festivals where you can have a great time no matter what the line-up. The music is important, but in no way essential. It has fully deserved the awards it has won for Best Crowd and Best Atmosphere, and will no doubt go on to win again. 2011 can’t come soon enough.

Excellent photo galleries can be seen at inthemix.com.au and 2dayfm.com.au

By Jye Smith Jan.13.2010
In: Other
2 comments

As Much As I Ever Could

Music video and lyrics for As Much As I Ever Could – City & Colour

Beautiful acoustic version of As Much As I Ever Could by City & Colour (Dallas Green).

Definitely one for her..

ooooooooo
ooooooooo
ooooooooo

love, love of mine
won’t you lay by my side
and rest your weary eyes
before we’re out of time?

give me one last kiss
for soon such distance
will stretch between our lips
now the day’s losing light

ooooooooo
ooooooooo
ooooooooo

bring me your love
tonight
bring me your love
tonight

lost at sea
my heart beat was growing weak
hoping you’d hear my plea
and come save my life

as the storm grew fierce
and danger was certainly near
i knew there was nothing to fear

bring me your love
tonight
bring me your love
tonight

no i am not where i belong
bring me your love
tonight

no i am not where i belong
so shine a light and guide me home
no i am not where i belong
so shine a light, guide me back home

oooooooo
oooooooo
oooooooo

By Stewart Heys Dec.22.2009
In: Other
Comments Off

2009: Albums, gigs of the year

Albums of the Year

Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavilion

Andrew Bird – Noble Beast

Antony & the Johnsons – The Crying Light

Morrissey – Years of Refusal

Beirut – March of the Zapotec

Read the full story

By Jye Smith Dec.10.2009
In: Other
Comments Off

Eminem and The Beatles: The Top-Selling Artists of the 2000s

eminem2

Eminem on top

Just read this article over at Rolling Stone.  I’ve got a massive man crush on Eminem and was so stoked to hear about his albums’ successes over the years.

Over three decades after their breakup, the Beatles still released the top-selling album of the 2000s. The Fab Four’s greatest hits compilation 1 sold over 11,448,000 copies since its release in November 2000 according to Nielsen SoundScan’s decade-end sales numbers. Eminem was the 2000s’ top-selling artist with 32.2 million combined in sales, plus two albums in the decade’s Top 10: The Marshall Mathers LP was fourth with 10,195,000 sold and Eminem Show was fifth with 9,789,000. Slim Shady edged out the Fab Four for the distinction of the decade’s top-seller as the Beatles claimed Number Two with 30 million.

By Jye Smith Dec.1.2009
In: Other
Comments Off

Symphony Of Science

“A morning filled with four-hundred billion suns, The rising of the milky way” – Carl Sagan, A Glorious Dawn, ft Stephen Hawkings

Symphony of Science brings us three incredible videos around delivering some very scientific knowledge and philosophy in the form of music.

Take a bunch of space and time nerds, grab a vocoder and drop some beats and strings behind it, and you’ve got some pretty incredible videos.

Full version at the original post at A Digital Perspective

By Jye Smith Nov.23.2009
In: Other
13 comments

The Power of Sound

Sony Australia and The Music Blogs have teamed up to offer six lucky readers a number of Sony personal audio prizes, including the new 16GB Walkman E series video MP3 player each valued at $219.00 and the impressive MDRXB300 Extra Bass headphones, valued at $169.00.

With a profound heritage in delivering industry leading sound quality, Sony Australia is uniting all its audio products under a banner entitled the ‘Power of Sound’, which will focus on the importance of sound quality and demonstrate Sony’s leadership in this area.

A number of interesting ‘laboratory experiments’ have been conducted by Sony to test the capabilities of some of their latest audio products including headphones, Walkman, home theatre systems, Hi-Fi and in-car audio equipment. The films demonstrate the products’ ability to deliver the true power of sound and we’ve been provided with the headphone experiment to show just what Sony means by ‘The Power of Sound’.

Further information on Sony’s ‘Power of Sound’ campaign can be seen at www.sony.com.au/soundville

How to enter

Leave a comment and tell us in 25 words or less, the 1 song that would be the sound track to your life right now, and why. Best 6 as voted by us here at TMB win these amazing prizes.

By Stuart McPhee Nov.17.2009
In: Commentary, Opinion
Comments Off

We can work it out? Apparently not.

apple-rottenIf we want to be truthful we can blame The Bubblies. If it wasn’t for this obscure French Pop band we may not have this current insult to the music world. I am talking of course about Apple Corps bizarre decision to release The Beatles collection on an Apple shaped USB Stick.

Limited to 30,000 copies and going for around $350 (AUD) this is, according to the L.A. Times,  the Fab Four embracing new models of distribution.

Well if by embracing new models of distribution you mean selling the same thing on yet another physical product then I guess you are right.

Anyone who wasn’t sick the day they taught marketing at marketing school could tell you the following:

The target audience for a new model of distribution is an audience you haven’t yet reached.

Imagine for a moment I am a teenage kid who wants to get into The Beatles.  Like most teenagers these days I have an MP3 device and an account with a digital music outlet. What I don’t have is $350 and an attention span to take in 14 albums all at once, especially on a band I am not really sure about. I want to choose the tracks that I want by previewing them so that I don’t end up with ‘Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da’ or something equally as excruciating.I also do not want to open a Read Me Document to tell me how to transfer the music to my portable player. Isn’t that what my digital music outlet is supposed to do for me at a click of a button?

So how exactly does this odd looking plastic Apple reach a new audience? It doesn’t.

The ONLY audience this USB stick will reach are the hardcore collectors who insist on acquiring every format available. With a production run of only 30,000 these monstrosities won’t last long. The sad thing is most of them will remain in their original packaging collecting nothing but dust and value (value only to other hardcore collectors).

This is money for jam but it is only $10.5 million (minus retail’s cut).

Now imagine if Apple Corps and Apple Inc finally brokered a deal and The Beatles catalogue was finally made available on iTunes. Working on the basis that a single song costs $2.00 (AUD) on iTunes then The Beatles would have to have their songs downloaded 5,250,000 times to reach the same amount. Considering over 8 Billion songs have been downloaded from iTunes (since inception) and The Beatles are the most popular band in history then that 5.25 million target would be reached and passed fairly quickly. All done without any production costs or limiting your sales to only  30,000 people.

Apple’s bottom line aside, tell me this isn’t the way to reach a new audience?

To think, this is the same company that released the innovative The Beatles: Rock Band only a few months ago.

How can they get it so right one minute and so wrong the next?

By Nathanael Boehm Oct.23.2009
In: Concerts
3 comments

Future Music Festival 2010, tickets on sale today

Celebrating the ultimate sounds of tomorrow, today, Future Music Festival is a 10-hour sonic boom that travels Australia at the speed of sound and rivals any major festival experience on the planet. This unique, world-class event blends the biggest names in electronic music with the brightest stars of Hip Hop, Pop, Indie Rock and beyond …Read the full story

By Stewart Heys Oct.20.2009
In: Concerts
Comments Off

St Jerome's Laneway Festival 2010 line up announcement

Laneway Festival has announced the first round of bands that will be gracing the stages next year. The current hype surrounding bands like The xx will sell a lot of tickets I am sure, but there is also huge interest in Wild Beasts, Black Lips, as well as Mecury-nominated Florence and the Machine.

The big draw card for a lot of people, however, will no doubt be the appearance of Echo and the Bunnymen on the list. Heading in to their 4th decade of making music, the makeup of Echo and the Bunnymen has changed a little of the years, but by all accounts their sound now is remarkably similar to that of the late 70s and early 80s. It will be fascinating to see what they have up their sleeves early next year.

Full line up details can be found here

There will also be a change in venue for 2010, no longer will we be squashed intimately snuggled down Reiby Place, but will be benfiting from the ‘ample space’ of Sydney College of the Arts in Rozelle. As a ‘bohemian hotbed of creative talent’ I am sure that the new location will be more than suitable for a Sunday in the sun.

Details on the venue can be found here

Tickets on sales 9am Friday 30 October from www.greentix.com.au

See you there!

By Nathanael Boehm Oct.19.2009
In: Commentary, Opinion
Comments Off

Soon the recorded music industry becomes the performing music industry

An excellent article written in 2007 by owner of Littoral Records, Alan Jones that looks at the decline of the traditional business and marketing model of big record labels and predicts they’ll be run down and overtaken by smaller, more agile, responsive and smarter labels.

Read the article »

Nathanael Boehm

By Jye Smith Oct.13.2009
In: Other
Comments Off

Slipknot: Corey Taylor Sings "Snuff" In The Studio

Corey Taylor: In The Studio Singing “Snuff”

Some great footage from their recent album.

By Nathanael Boehm Oct.10.2009
In: Album Reviews
1 comment

Lyrics Born collaboration with The Bamboos

I love The Bamboos – awesome Aussie funk group – and heard about their collaboration with Lyrics Born from California on the radio the other night. Just had a chance to listen to it. Good track, soulful, works well … although I thought it was a little repetitive; could have been trimmed by at least 30 seconds or built up towards the end, though it’s saved by the two-stage breakdown at 1:50 and 2:45. Anyway, I still like it!

Listen to Turn It Up by The Bamboos feat. Lyrics Born on Triple J Home & Hosed and listen to more of The Bamboos on MySpace.

Nathanael Boehm

By Jye Smith Oct.7.2009
In: Other
Comments Off

Parralox - Hotter

Just found this little gem while doing some social media monitoring for one of my clients. A brilliant, tight little progressive/vocal dance peace from Melbourne.

Hope to hear more from them!

By Stuart McPhee Sep.27.2009
In: Commentary, Opinion, Other
5 comments

Call It A Lesson Learned #3

A Lesson Learned

The third in a series of essays on what I may (or may not) have learned from music. The previous essay can be found here.

Excuse Me While I Break My Own Heart Tonight

A few nights (and a fair few drinks) ago a few of us from the office pondered the inevitable hypothetical question: If you could only listen to one genre of music, what would it be?

I say hypothetical because any self respecting lover of music has more than one field of interest. Those who like hip-hop are probably partial to a bit of R&B (not racist at all), whilst I am convinced that there are people out there who own both James Blunt and Kings Of Leon albums (housewives from middle England is my guess).

The responses around the table were interesting, some specific (Alternate Rock 1991-1994) others wide ranging (World Music) and one from a bloke who was obviously taking the piss (Jungle). I chose Soul, a selection that did not surprise anyone at all. My love of soul music knows no bounds (There ain’t no mountain high enough you could say) but I wondered about the flipside to the discussion: What if there was no such thing as soul music? What would I choose instead?

That was a dill of a pickle.

A few nights (and a fair few drinks) later, the answer hit me: alt.country.

I realise that in hindsight selecting it as my backup was a bold move as I know almost nothing about alt.country. What was it? Does such a thing still exist (if in fact it ever did) and if so, what is out there to listen to?

Why didn’t I just say College Rock 1992 – 1997? That way I could prattle on about the genius of the first Gin Blossoms album.

So before I ventured into the deep unknown I decided it was best to take stock of what I already owned in this mysterious genre. That wasn’t a great deal either.

Are you sure you don’t want to hear about my correlation between New Miserable Experience and my teenage years? Perhaps another time then.

Due to my age and location in the world, the term alt.country first hit me in the Summer of 2000 when Heartbreaker by Ryan Adams was released. I promptly ignored that album for a variety of reasons, a few of which were:

– anyone who has a name like that is asking for trouble
– any album that starts with an in studio argument about a Morrissey song receives an automatic disqualification.

Soon after, the final release by Ryan’s former band Whiskeytown finally saw the light of day. So on a miserable Sunday afternoon as I flew solo in the record store, I threw on Pneumonia. My sole motivation was that James Iha was a guest on the record and anything tenuously linked to the Pumpkins couldn’t be all bad.

By half way through ‘Don’t Wanna Know Why‘ I was hooked.

It was country music that I could finally understand. Sure it had its pop moments (the Iha co-write ‘Don’t Be Sad’ is simply angelic) but overall it was country for those that couldn’t care less about Shania Twain and her bastardisation of the genre. To boot, the press I had read about Adams alluded to the fact he wasn’t exactly a poster boy in Nashville. That made it even better.

I humbly went back to Heartbreaker, fell in love with ‘Come Pick Me Up’ and have consumed everything he has released since (rightly or wrongly) including his weekly singles from his new digital record label PAX AM.

These days, Ryan’s music barely resembles alt.country. The same could be said for Whiskeytown. They only released 3 albums but with each one they sounded less and less like a country band. Compare ‘Too Drunk To Dream’ from their debut Faithless Street to something like the Herman’s Hermits pastiche of ‘Mirror Mirror’ off Pneumonia and you begin to wonder if it is the same band. Considering the majority of Whiskeytown’s original members had quit or were fired has a lot to do with it but perhaps it is an inherent trait with a lot of alt.country acts?

Over the course of their tenure, Minnesota band The Jayhawks drifted away from their alt.country roots (1992s Hollywood Town Hall is a must) to a more pop feel (see 2000s Smile) before returning to their classic sound on Rainy Day Music. Wilco on the other hand were a band that came from alt.country legends Uncle Tupelo and from an early stage frontman Jeff Tweedy began to distance his new band from the genre.

So it seems that on the surface of things I hitched my cart to the wrong horse. Any band who had any say in the history of alt.country didn’t stick around for very long. Heck even the Godfather of the genre, Gram Parsons, only put out two solo albums (the 2nd posthumously) before overdosing in 1973.

A few words on Gram Parsons, those two albums are pretty indispensable. Without them then Ryan would’ve stuck to punk music, a swathe of bands would never have been and more importantly, the wonderfully talented Emmylou Harris may not have made it to the big time. Her vocal contributions to those records should not be underestimated and her standing set the scene for her first ‘proper’ album Pieces Of The Sky a year later.

But what the genre lacks in terms of output is more than made up for in quality artists. Those listed above are a mere starting point and as such there are many fine musicians not mentioned including Drive-By Truckers, Patty Griffin, Gillian Welch and Australia’s own The Gin Club to name a few.

However at this moment in time I can only take alt.country in small doses. There are more songs about hurt than there are about love. And whilst heartbreak is also a recurring theme for soul music, there is hope running through a lot of it. Alt.country doesn’t have one of these and without such will always remain in second place.

And there is no shame in that.

By Nathanael Boehm Sep.18.2009
In: Album Reviews
Comments Off

Thumbs up for Muse's new album The Resistance

Album cover of Muse's new album The Resistance.

I’m a big fan of Muse. I have Showbiz, Origin of Symmetry, Hullabaloo Soundtrack, Absolution, Black Holes and Revelations, their live 2004 Absolution Tour DVD and now their latest 2009 release The Resistance.

It took me a while to come around to liking their previous 2006 album Black Holes and Revelations. My initial impression with BH&R was that the band had plateaued and were now just a bland, commercial pop-rock group focussed on selling quantity rather than sticking to their we-don’t-care-if-you-like-us experimental progressive, space-rock. After listening to BH&R about a dozen times I finally realised that they hadn’t sold out. They were starting to poke at something new, a new sound.

That new sound has three years later matured and become Muse’s latest album The Resistance.

Read the full story

By Jye Smith Sep.8.2009
In: Album Reviews
1 comment

Spineshank

The-Best-Of-SpineshankIt was the middle of a CrossFit workout when I really noticed some really great hard metal pouring out of the speakers. It was here I met Spineshank.

What am I really enjoying about them? It’s ferocious, but it’s dynamic. This is what really sets great metal bands apart.

Santos’ vocals really separate most dynamics on the surface, but it’s the grinding drum and base combo that polish everything off.

The guitars are a constant wall of pure aggression.

Call it nu-metal, call it industrial metal, even call it metalcore. It doesn’t matter – for those who truly appreciate dynamic and hungry metal, it’s a must.

I still can’t choose a favourite album between Self-Destructure Pattern, Strictly Diesel or The Height of Callousness.

Read the full story

By Jye Smith Sep.7.2009
In: Concerts
3 comments

Julia Why

Julia Why

I’m sitting in the cosy bottom floor of El Rocco’s at Bar Me (154 Brougham Street, Kings Cross).  The room is warm, while dimly lit and the crowd seems almost at home in the candle light.  I’ve arrived for Julia Why – who contact me via TMB.

The lights dim further, the candles appear to brighten as the crowd warms while Julia introduces herself to the room.  Her guitar opens with strong, binding rhythms.

When I listen to her voice: it’s warm, almost haunting. Her articulation is nice: almost Irish/UK – nice round tones over deep melodies. Maybe a hint of Evanesence, but there’s something stronger there, something else, something deeper (and less opraratic).  She doesn’t say much – she doesn’t need to.

I really enjoy Julia’s control and inflection with the notes – memorable steps careful phrasing, good use of rhyme.  Her rawness, and openness with the crowd speaks volumes of wisdom beyond her years.

Julia’s lyric choices are definitely not your ordinary lyrics – and they have a really nice dynamic between being quite raw, and shaping some very pretty metaphors. They appear to be quite honest.

“The wine is too far away.” Best line. She just said she’s looking for a bass player – and honestly, she read my mind! This would sound great with a full band behind it.

Julia – wow, what a show. These are some great foundations to set.

Best regards,
Jye

Read the full story

By Jye Smith Aug.6.2009
In: Concerts
1 comment

Stereosonic lineup for 2009

Amazing. Just amazing.

First release tickets on sale at ITM from 9am Thursday, 20th August. Check out the Stereosonic 2009 lineup below:

Deadmau5
Axwell
Fedde Le Grand
John Dahlback
The Crookers
Surkin
The Bloody Beetroots feat MC Justin Pearson
Miss Kittin & The Hacker
Marco Carola
Chicane
Cut Copy DJs
Drop the Lime
Renaissance Man
Alter Ego
Zombie Nation
Umek
Hudson Mohawke
Tim Sweeney (DFA)
The Cobra Snake
Kidda
Juan Kidd/Jason Herd
Grant Smillie
Andy Murphy
Acid Jacks
Grafton Primary
Canyons
Knightlife
Bag Raiders
+ and more to be announced

Dates for Stereosonic – Australia

Sat 28th November – Moore Park, Hordern, RHI & Surrounds, Sydney
Sun 29th November – Claremont Showground, Perth
Sat 5th December – Bonython Park, Adelaide
Sat 5th December – Royal Melbourne Showgrounds, Melbourne
Sun 6th December – Eagle Farm Racecourse, Brisbane

By Jye Smith Aug.5.2009
In: Recommended
Comments Off

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