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FAVOURITE ALBUMS OF 2018

DS albums 2018

Another year done and dusted in the world of music and as always there were some exceptional records released. These lists always do our head in so this time around we’ve shaken things up a bit. Instead of just doing a ranked top 50 list we’ve narrowed down our top ten and then listed the 40 other albums that we highly rate and recommend you checking out if you haven’t heard them. As always, we’d love to hear what your favourite records of the year.

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Top Ten

1. Parquet Courts – Wide Awake!
“A record that shakes off any restrictive genre shackles, shakes shimmies and grooves with garage rock, baggy dance and an enviable level of cool.”

2. Suicide Swans – La Jungla
Suicide Swans are seemingly a band on a mission. The dust has barely settled on the release cycle for their excellent Augusta album of last year and they’re already releasing it’s followup – the sprawling, psych, rock and cosmic country double album that is La Jungla.”

3. Marlon Williams – Make Way For Love
“‘Make Way For Love’ is a heavy album at times but it leaves you with a feeling of stepping out of the darkness and into the light, optimism replacing despair and with the desire to explore the mysteries of love still tantalisingly intact.”

4. Halfway – Rain Lover
“Halfway are a modern treasure on the Australian musical landscape, always cutting to the heart and soul of their music with each record they produce. On ‘Rain Lover’ they’ve topped even their own lofty standards.”

5. Low Double – Negative
“‘Double Negative’ is bold and powerful music, fusing the avant-garde and traditional song with both friction and harmony. It’s unnerving, visceral and wholly compelling.”

6. Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – Hope Downs
“Effortless and endless melodies that are both melancholic and enervating at the same time. A songwriting collective in perfect unison and right on top of their game”

7. Cash Savage & The Last Drinks – Good Citizens
“‘Good Citizens’ is a bold and astute album that thrives on its balance and range. It pulls on heartstrings as effectively as it raises questions and it thrillingly blends musicality with Savage’s emotionally and intellectually-based commentary.”

8. Tropical Fuck Storm – A Laughing Death In Meatspace
“Tropical Fuck Storm are a glorious detour into deconstructed rock music, reflective of societal malaise and unafraid to tell it like it is. Qualities desperately needed in the current musical climate.”

9. Khruangbin – Con Todo El Mundo
“Soulful, funky, tripped-out pan-global grooves that hit you in the head and the hips”

10. Nils Frahm – All Melody
“The result of disciplined, studied genius, a wildly creative mind and open musical borders. This is ambient electronic music for the headphones and the heart.”

11-50 unranked, in alphabetical order:

Alice In Chains – Rainier Fog
Charles Lloyd & The Marvels + Lucinda Williams – Vanished Gardens
Choir Boy – Passive With Desire
Colter Wall – Songs Of The Plains
Damien Jurado – The Horizon Just Laughed
Eleanor Friedberger – Rebound
Darren Cross – Peacer
Davey Craddock – One Punch
Avantdale Bowling Club – Avantdale Bowling Club
Courtney Barnett – Tell Me How You Really Feel
Earthless – Black Heaven
East Brunswick All Girls Choir – Teddywaddy
Field Music – Open Here
GAS – Rausch
Gouge Away – Burnt Sugar
Harmony – Double Negative
Harmony Rockets – Lachesis / Clotho / Atropos
Jack Ladder – Blue Poles
Jamie Hutchings – Bedsit
John Prine – Tree Of Forgiveness
Kurt Vile – Bottle It In
Kyle Craft – Full Circle Nightmare
Moaning – Moaning
Okkervil River – In The Rainbow Rain
Phosphorescent – C’est La Vie
Richmond Fontaine – Don’t Skip Out On Me
Roadhouses – Roadhouses
Ruby Boots – Don’t Talk About It
Ry Cooder – The Prodigal Son
Ryley Walker – Deafman Glance
Sarah Blasko – Depth Of Field
Space Afrika – Somewhere Decent To Live
Stuart A. Staples – Arrhythmia
The Breeders – All Nerve
The Caretaker Everywhere at the end of time – Stage 4 & 5
The Goon Sax – We’re Not Talking
The Messthetics – The Messthetics
The Necks – Body
Windhand – Eternal Return
Wooden Shjips – V

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TOUR DIARY: Mark Moldre

TOUR DIARY: MARK MOLDRE

PROLOGUE

Sleepwalker, I feel my way through forest and gorge
Fantastically around me a magic circle glows
Not caring whether I courted or cursed
I follow truly my inner calling
– Herman Hesse

1
photo by Jared Harrison

I’ve never had any delusions of grandeur about my musical place in Australia
I’ve struggled to make any kind of mark
In my last 3 decades of making music
I’ve never really been sure about where I fit
In the Australian musical landscape
Are my musical meanderings alt-country?
Nope, not really
Americana?
I’m still not sure about that term when it comes to Australian music
Folk?
I think I get too noisy for that crowd
Blues?
Well there’s a deep well of history there
That draws from tough living and emotional lyrical depth
Music that I love
But today it’s often just a genre full of clichés
And guitar poses
And when it’s coming from some guy brought up in the
Eastern Suburbs of NSW
It just feels wrong
So, nope again

I fall between the cracks in the musical pavement
Where the weeds grow and the dust collects
Where insects hide and the unsuspecting trip

What I do know now after all these years
Is that I love songs and not genres
I really don’t care what box I’m supposed to fit into
Because I finally feel that I have found my place
As corny as this may sound
I believe I now have a place to lay my hat
It may be a small area
And maybe I have Holiday Fever
Or it’s my European heritage calling me
But I feel that France
And in particular the wonderful people of Binic
Is the place that I could happily call my musical home

THE JOURNEY

Songs that I sang before come
Softly once again
And the shadows of uncounted journeys
Cross my way
– Herman Hesse

First there were 2
Adam Lang and I
Are starting this journey together at my place
We’re already having trouble with luggage weight requirements
My box of merch being the main problem
So we start trying to spread socks, CDs, underpants and guitar leads
Throughout our carry on
My guitar even becomes a suitcase when
I roll up all my T-shirts and stuff them inside the soundhole
Once the weight is all distributed we start the drive to Sydney
Vaucluse to be exact…

And then there were 3
The current home of Scott Hutchings 
Is a house where I spent many hours as a child
Due to the fact that
Scott, Jamie and I grew up as childhood besties
We get to bed reasonably early as
We’ve got a dawn Uber booked to get us to the airport
Sleep
Shower and
Load the car
Waiting at the airport for us is the rest of our party…

Now our Gypsy Caravan of 7 is complete
Adam Lang (banjo/slide player extraordinaire)
Scott Hutchings (Tub Thumper and dragging a newly acquired Fender Jag)
Jamie Hutchings (Jazzmaster destroyer)
Reuben Wills (Slap bass enthusiast)
Jared Harrison (another tub thumper)
And Peter Fenton (Savant and ukulele destroyer)
And me (excessive talker)

2
photo by Airport Stranger

This motley crew will make up 3 bands
Infinity Broke
The Tall Grass
And my ensemble
Jamie, Reuben and Scott will play in all three
As to whether or not they will survive the fact
That some days will require them to play three sets in a row
Remains to be seen
Remembering about 35 songs
For three very different line ups
Is
a
mammoth
task
And rehearsals have been intense but sparse

We all manage to check in with no issues
Only Adam is pulled aside to have his toothpaste confiscated
Illegal contraband apparently
Boarding is smooth sailing
And we’re up in the air in no time
China Southern was the cheapest flight
And I was expecting the worst
But we are all pleasantly surprised
With the fine service
The fellas all chow down on the airline food
And Chinese beers
But unfortunately my ridiculous dietary requirements caused by
A red meat allergy
Which brings on delayed anaphylaxis
Hives and huge marble sized lumps all over my body
(Believe it or not it was brought on by a tick bite a few years back)
And a disorder called Hereditary Fructose Intolerance
Which means my liver can’t break down sugars
Natural or otherwise
(And I’m going to the land of fine food…the sad irony!)
Means that I pick a little from each meal
And practice fasting

I try reading my book
Crime and Punishment
But I keep hearing the protagonist, Raskolnikov
Whining in Woody Allen’s voice
His constant state of stressed babbling in his own mind
Is making some anxious inflight reading
So I revert to movie watching
And before I know it we’re in Guangzhou
For what was meant to be a 6 ½ hour stop over….
And it’s 36 degrees

We book ourselves into an Airport lounge
And take advantage of the wi-fi
(only to find that none of the usual social media apps
or forms of communication really work at all)
Showers
Food
Drink
Comfy chairs
The closest we can get to
Airport heaven
Until they tell us its time to move on
It’s at this point that we discover our plane has been delayed
Another couple of hours
So almost a day in total spent in the airport
And even though there’s not a scrap of carpet in the airport
Just highly polished floors
Reuben sets up camp and sleeps on the floor
Eventually we make our way back onto a plane
And sleep is now calling us all

3
photo by Jamie Hutchings

PARIS AIRPORT

I’m strictly a tourist but I couldn’t care less
When they parlez-vous me then I gotta confess
That’s for me: Bonjour Paris!
– Funny Face – Audrey Hepburn, Fred Astaire and Kay Thompson

4
photo by Mark Moldre

We arrive in Paris at about 7am
We collect our gear without a hitch
And make our way through customs
Adam is again stopped and asked to open his banjo case
And give an impromptu banjo performance to the officers
We search for the railway whilst dragging copious amounts of luggage
With a few hours to kill before our train arrives
Peter and I play at an airport piano
I make my first effort at purchasing some French food
My terrible efforts at speaking a few French niceties
Quickly turns into mumbling and
Incredible destruction of a few simple French words
I figure it’s better from here on that I remain silent as much as possible
Our train arrives and getting the gear onboard amongst the Parisian masses
Makes for some Laurel and Hardy style hilarity
With us all blocking the aisle of the train
Causing much exasperation to the Parisians behind us trying to get a seat
And culminates in Adam receiving a heavy blow to the head
As an unwieldy guitar case falls from the rack
Adam takes this in good humour
But heads straight to the bar carriage to numb his wounds

CAPTAIN LUDO

We sometimes encounter people, even perfect strangers, who begin to interest us at first sight, somehow suddenly, all at once, before a word has been spoken. – Dostoevsky

5
photo by Scott Hutchings

We arrive in St Brieuc and here I have my first opportunity
To meet the man who made this whole trip possible
Jamie has already prepared me for meeting the Festival Director
And the fact that he
Personally
Turns up to drive us to Binic
Speaks volumes about his long term friendship
With Jamie, Scott, Jared and Reubs
Who have all been here before
In fact this marks Jamie’s 5th time to play the festival
We all receive the traditional kiss on each cheek
And hugs all round
Ludo is a real French character
Gregarious
Tough and wiry
Looking like a heavily tattooed biker
Master of a “sale blague”
A straight, no nonsense talker when
It comes to getting things done
(Whilst simultaneously talking in riddle speak)
No one ever questions his authority
The respect he receives from everyone
Is plain to see
Yet as I discovered as time went on
The man is sentimental
Nostalgic and has
A heart of gold
A love of music
And is beyond generous
Here also we meet Felix and Etienne
Who will prove to be immense help to us
Over the next few days
New friendships are quickly formed
And reignited
But for now we must begin our first “mission”
We head to Binic
Check into the hotel and
Reconvene at Ludo’s bar
“Le Chaland Qui Passe”
Which becomes our HQ for the rest of the stay

6
photo by Jared Harrison

BINIC

A small town is a place where a woman spends hours talking on the phone, when having dialed the wrong number – Robert Lamoureux

Checking in to our hotel “Benhuyc”

7
photo by Mark Moldre

We meet our extremely hospitable hosts
Claire and Pascal
I’ll be sharing a room with the Hutchings brothers
A wistful experience for all three of us
Reminding us of childhood sleepovers and teenage camping trips
Reinforcing old bonds of a strong, lifelong friendship
Jared, Reuben and Adam take another room
And Peter gets a private suite all to himself
Scott, Jamie and I
Shake off the jet lag by going for a swim in the seaside pool
Followed by drinks at Ludo’s bar
The boys all down local beers
Once again due to my ridiculously painful diet
I ask Ludo for my only drink of choice – gin
He stares me square in the eye and says
“What is wrong with you?!!!”

8
photo by Mark Moldre

We head to a restaurant
Where I get to enjoy my first French meal
Fenton orders a huge pot of local mussels and clams
Magnifique!
I order my very first Galette
A traditional French meal I can actually eat
A savoury buckwheat pancake
With fillings of your choice
For me:
Fromage (cheese), champignons (mushroom), Oeuf (egg)
This becomes a staple for me while in Binic
As every second restaurant and take away has them on the menu
The sun goes down slow in Binic
By about 10pm it is still light
And we start to trudge back to our hotel rooms
I’m still too tired and overwhelmed to take in the town
I crash quickly and sleep soundly
Jamie and I wake as the sun is coming up
And wander down to the beach for a swim
(Scott has already been)
The town of Binic is sleepy in the mornings
There’s little activity
No early morning joggers
No dog walkers
Shops are closed and the streets are empty
For the first time I get to take in the
European beauty of this little town
A fishing village centered around a small harbour
Lots of restaurants, a few shops
A magnificent old church
And buildings made from stone fill the streets
Quaint architecture surrounding a beautiful seaside

9
photo by Jared Harrison

Jamie and I swim at the beach
The water is cold but it
Washes away the last of the
Fuzzy jetlagged feeling in our brains
On the walk back
I start to get the first sense
Of the community here
People are incredibly friendly
Stopping their cars in the middle of the street
To get out and say hello to friends
Friends are all greeted with kisses and genuine hugs
The sense of excitement about the upcoming festival
Fills the air and conversations
The whole town is abuzz
There are posters in all the shop windows
And I’ve made the front page of the entertainment section in the paper
Exciting for a barely known singer/songwriter from Australia

10
photo by Mark Moldre

Scott and Jamie take me on a small tour of the back streets
Into the majestic old church
Its steeple is a dominant landmark in the Binic skyline
And then we climb the hill
Where the narrow lanes are dotted with small stone houses 

11
photo by Mark Moldre

The views are breathtaking as
I look back towards the small town of Binic from the top
Then the phone rings – and duty calls
The rest of our band mates are at Ludo’s house
Checking over the musical equipment that
 Will make up our backline for the rest of our stay
We walk up to Ludo’s and start picking through
Fender amps and Drum kits
Bass amps and a beautiful old double bass
That Ludo has sourced for Reuben

12
photo by Jared Harrison

Ludo showers us with gifts and Festival merch
Afterwards we wander back down to the hotel
To prepare for our first show

LE GALION

Then he saw them. The gulls. Out there, riding the seas – Daphne Du Maurier

13
photo by Jared Harrison

Our first show is a about a 1½ hour drive away from Binic to Lorient
Lorient is kind of otherworldly
At least the area that we are in
It’s heavily industrial
Strangely deserted
Slightly spooky
It has the air of a place that has been bombed
And then left
Except for
Big, eerie empty buildings and warehouses
Which are covered in incredible graffiti art

14
photo by Adam Lang

Down by the waterfront are
Huge cranes and
Shipping containers
Everything is quiet
Except for the sound of these
Huge gulls
Kinda like those bird sounds in the final scene of
Hitchcock’s “The Birds”
In fact this area would make a perfect spot
To film the end of a thriller
A final chase and shoot out scene in
A 70’s Don Siegel film
Culminating in a finale
Where the villain finally falls from a great height off a crane
Le Galion is the name of the tonight’s venue
And Jean Baptisite is the owner
When we arrive he greets us all with a kiss and hug
His bar is an incredible room filled with curiosities
Stuffed animals, skulls, an old piano with our names in flashing lights

15
photo by Mark Moldre

The room has the feel of an old wooden ship
Our host Jean Baptiste then disappears into the kitchen
We discover later that he is cooking up a
huge
pasta
dish
just
for
us
We sound check but
Almost immediately the back pickup on
Jamie’s Jazzmaster dies
If you’re reading this and you’ve seen Jamie’s main guitar
You may know that it is held together
By stickers and grime
There is mould and mushrooms growing out of the bridge
And the frets have disappeared beneath years of
Bluebottle Kiss sweat
Luckily Adam is a guitar repair whiz
And within seconds his head is buried
Deep beneath Jamie’s scratch plate
(who knows what kind of infection he may have picked up in there)
And his soldering iron is smoking
(yes, he brought one with him!)
After Jamie’s guitar is back in action
We are led upstairs
For a spread that consists of pasta, baguettes, cheese and wine
Provided for
The bands and the crew 16

This of course sparks off a discussion
On the difference between the treatment
Of bands in venues across Australia vs Europe
At most Australian shows it’s hard to get enough
Bottled water or soft drink
For the band
(one exception that I have personally experienced
– Brian Lizotte in Newcastle –
who treats all artists with style)
We have this discussion many times over in the days to come
As the lavish treatment continues throughout our time in Brittany
The room is still empty at 9pm
So we push the start time to 9:30
By the time I get onstage there’s
A small crowd
And our set goes without a hitch
I even sell a couple of CD’s
Nice warm up

17
photo by Jared Harrison

The Tall Grass are up next
This time Peter is plagued with problems
First his ukulele dies
The battery compartment is not closing properly
Rendering his uke all of useless
Adam swings into action again
This time improvising by searching outside the bar
With our intrepid guide/helper/roadie Felix
For a stick to jam into the battery case to hold it in place
Somehow they get it working
Only to find the exact same problem happens to Pete’s guitar
Cursed!
I can see Pete trying to hold the battery case down with his thumb
As he strums awkwardly with his other four fingers
This time I slip onstage and with the magic of gaff tape
I manage to tape it together so he makes it through the set
Jared has become the official band photographer
And he’s capturing loads of great snaps
Next up Infinity Broke
(Scott, Reuben and Jamie are ploughing into their 3rd set as
we head towards midnight)
Jared is also a brilliantly solid drummer
And alongside Scott they lock in together and
Become a single rhythm machine
The show is embellished by one
Male gymnast dancer right up the front
Who is particularly entertaining
With his interpretative dance during
Infinity Broke’s epic 16-minute version of Monsoon
We pack up the van relatively quickly
It’s an incredible privilege and
Extremely unusual for us to
Have roadies helping (what a treat!)
Hotel by about 2:30am
Zzzzzz

SAINT-QUAY PORTRIEUX

We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give – Winston Churchill

Neither Jamie nor my sleep patterns have really kicked in
This means about 4am each morning
Jamie wakes up and can’t get back to sleep
And starts searching around for a sleeping tablet
This of course wakes me up so I have to do the same
On this morning though Jamie thinks its 4am
But it’s really about 9:30am
He knocks back a sleeping tablet
Then realizes he’s about to miss breakfast
So he gets up and trudges downstairs
But by the time he gets to his seat
He’s in a state of foggy stupor
Trying to eat breakfast
And split the payment amongst band members
For the previous nights show
Whilst downing coffees to try and circumvent
The unstoppable force of his tablet
He’s nodding off whilst counting coins so
He heads back upstairs to sleep it off
Mornings are spent calling home
Most of us catching up with wives and/or kids
Letting them know they are loved and missed
Then breakfast in the hotel
We are well looked after by our fine hosts
Claire and Pascal
The breakfasts are fantastic
I chow down on buttery buckwheat pancakes
Coffee, eggs and a variety of cheeses
Followed by another swim
Later in the afternoon we are picked up by 2 vans
For our second show
This time we’re only travelling about
10 mins down the road
To the beautiful seaside town of Saint-Quay Portrieux

18
photo by Scott Hutchings

Today stands out as a real highlight of the trip
And it makes an
Indelible mark on me
When it comes to the generosity
Of our hosts
This time we’re be playing an outdoor show
With the beach as a backdrop
We all jump out and soak in the view
(which is an incredible delight for the senses)
And awaiting us in the artists tent
Are bottles of red
an espresso machine
beers, water
nuts and cheese
We’re immediately told to help ourselves
Then
After set up and sound check
We’re whisked away for dinner
Now, I’ve got no idea if all bands that play at the Festival
Receive this kind of treatment
But I have a feeling that this may have a lot to do
With our magnanimous host Capt Ludo
We are led into an upmarket restaurant
And shuttled into a private room
All seven of us plus our hardworking helpers
And here begins a 3 course meal unlike any I’ve had in years
Thankfully it was mainly seafood
(which I can actually eat!)
And I broke my boring diet by destroying a desert
That set my taste buds alight
C’mon I’ve gotta break my diet just once every 10 years or so, yeah?

19
photo by Mark Moldre

Next Ludo arrives with a few bottles of special wine
That commemorates his first meeting with Jamie
Now, I’m not meant to drink wine either
But I can’t be rude…right?
I offer my glass without hesitation
We all marvel over these bottles of red
Cos this wine is just something else
Scott becomes a connoisseur
Smelling and swilling
He can smell blue vein cheese in there
Adam is sitting there gob smacked
Jamie after years of working at a wine club
Gives us all the correct references
By this time we’re all feeling just slightly merry
And very, very full
And we’ve almost forgotten that we have to go back out and play a show
As it’s heading towards evening and
None of us are sure if singing and playing
After all that food is even possible without
Belching into microphones
And forgetting arrangements and lyrics
This time
Scott, Jamie and Reuben
Are playing only two sets
I open the show to an attentive and appreciative audience
Perhaps a couple of hundred people
Manage to meet some nice folk
Sell quite a few CD’s
And sit back to enjoy the Tall Grass
Peter Fenton had assumed that we were heading back to Binic
Before the show
And he has no suitable stage attire for a gent of his stature
So we double up on my wardrobe
And do a clothing swap between sets
For an encore I hop up with The Tall Grass
And we finish with a rousing version of Neil Young’s Vampire Blues
Pack up the van and
Zzzzzz
Zzz
Z

20
photo by Jared Harrison

PRE FESTIVAL ANNIVERSARY PARTY

We hear he is a whiz of a wiz
If ever a wiz there was
If ever, oh, ever a wiz there was
– We’re Off To See The Wizard – Harburg/Arlen

21
photo by Mark Moldre

This day begins with Adam carrying out a few necessary guitar repairs
He’s been a complete champion
Running on and off stages with minor repairs
But today there are a few instruments that need looking at
So he buries himself in the upstairs room at Ludo’s bar
With a collection of tools and works wonders
Over the course of our tour
Jamie’s guitar is fixed properly
Fenton’s uke is fixed
With parts purchased from
A fishing tackle store and a chemist
Scott’s guitar
Which has been continually going out of tune
Is set up and rebuilt
Scott is amazed as Adam nonchalantly takes off the neck
Straightens it with a truss rod adjuster
Sets the intonation and
Files nut slots
So that his Fender Jaguar is now a sleek playing machine
My affectionate nickname for Adam on this trip
Had been Rabbi Lang
Due to Adam’s luxurious beard
But
Ludo pronounces Adam “THE WIZARD!”
A way more apt and worthy title
Tomorrow the festival begins
But as for tonight
We are playing the 10th Anniversary Celebration
Of the Binic Festival Party
This seems to be an invitation only affair
Corporate sponsors, staff and volunteers fill the room
Tonight is another 3 set work over
For the Hutchings brothers and Reuben
The Tall Grass open the proceedings
And as Jamie is having some issues with his sweet falsetto
Which has been reduced to a high-pitched croak
I jump up for a few harmonies
My set is next
And onstage
I really start to feel like the band is
Finding its feet
Particularly on some of my new tunes
The set seems to go down well
And a few more CD’s make their way into the hands of the French

22
photo by Clement Guyon

Infinity Broke up next
And then we meet Melbourne band
Bench Press
Who seem to be having some success here in France
Plus they’re a bunch of real nice fellas
I’m starting to fade – still adjusting to Paris time I guess
So I walk back to Ludo’s Bar with
Jared and Adam for a nightcap
We chat philosophically for an hour or so
(as you do in France)
Jamie disappears for a midnight swim
And now
Even this late at night
The sense of the festival hangs heavy in the air
Stages are being set up and
Barricades pulled into place
Streets are being closed
Bars and merch tents are popping up
Tomorrow the festival begins!

BINIC FOLKS BLUES FESTIVAL DAY 1

Lost among the crowds,
The dusty air, the flickering
Candles, stunned, his heart drunk
With music and hurt So I go,
drunk and melancholy
Lunatic guitarist, poet,
A poor man in a dream,
Hunting for God in the mists
-Antonio Machado

This is not your usual
Run of the mill festival
That we experience in Australia
The whole town is the festival site
The festival is completely free
About 60-70,000 people start to pour into this small village
Roads at each end of the town are blocked
3 large stages have been set up
In prominent positions
Tents are raised
And vans are parked
On the outskirts of town
Security pours in
Police and armed military
Obviously due to terrorism in France
Crowd safety is now a huge issue at events like these
So it’s comforting
Whist also unnerving
To see many groups of soldiers
Armed with automatic weapons
Wandering through the sleepy fishing village

23
photo by Mark Moldre

I have a rare day off today
The Tall Grass and Infinity Broke will both play a set each
I had planned to do some exploring…
Tourist for a day
But….there’s still loads to be done
I meet Mikaël Le Bourhis
Frenchman of style, finely manicured and well dressed
Affable and polite
Despite the fact that he’s probably had very little sleep
Due to being
The Festivals Press Agent
He’s also a great friend of Reuben’s
Their similar love for left of centre fashion
Which they call “dandy”
Means they quickly move on to admiring one another’s outfits
Mikaël described me in the Press Release
“As an Australian D’artagnan
A man of fine moustache”
So obviously I warm to him quickly
Knowing we’re going to get on just fine
He takes me on a tour of the festival site
In a hunt for
Wristbands
Drink tickets
Lunch and dinner passes
Each day all artists receive lunch and dinner
At an all you can eat buffet
Where the food is quite mouth watering
Alongside coffee and a selection of
Desserts and wines at every meal
On the way I receive an assortment of merch
Cups, Shirts, Tote Bags, Programs, Badges etc
I meet loads of wonderful and friendly volunteers
Whilst wandering through the artist lounge and bar
Up to the private viewing platform
Which has a perfect view of the largest stage on the beach
I catch the early afternoon
Tall Grass set from the platform
Grab a swim at the seaside pool
And head off to watch Infinity Broke’s
Nighttime show, which is a cracker!

24
photo by Clement Guyon

Our intrepid hotel owners Claire and Pascal
Are right up the front
And they call out to Scott
“Magnifique! Tomorrow… BIG BREAKFAST!”
Unable to find Adam or Peter
I wander back through the masses alone
Tonight there is a Lunar Eclipse
And the moon is red
I have my first emotional moment
Watching and mingling with the crowds
Slightly overwhelmed at being here
The generosity of these people
The happy lack of self-awareness that
The young kids seem to have here
Dancing with each other
Smiling and laughing
Young children with their families
Adults well in to their 60’s and 70’s
Standing up close to the barricades and enjoying the music
Swaying
With teenagers moshing by their side
It’s been a long time since I’ve felt
A sense of community like this
It’s something to be cherished
And although I’m of course positive
That it wouldn’t be like this
Right across France
Tonight I have a lump in my throat
I feel as though I belong here
With these happy folk
I feel at
Home in Binic

FESTIVAL DAY 2

Eighty percent of success is showing up – Woody Allen

Today is the day of my first show and
I’m a little edgy
Which usually means I talk too much
Due to that edginess
I can’t remember much
About what I did that day
Apart from watching Infinity Broke’s afternoon set
Peter Fenton heads off on a solo
Bus trip to St Brieuc
I have the pleasure of meeting
Jeanclaude and his girlfriend
Jeanclaude is somebody I have only ever
Spoken to on Facebook
But he has undertaken a 10-hour drive to Binic from Belgium
Specifically to see my show tonight
He’s lovely and we chat for a while
The rest of the afternoon
I sit quietly in my hotel
Restringing my guitar
Softly running through my set
I grab a take away Galette
And a small flask of gin
To calm my nerves a little
The stage I am playing on tonight
Is just below my hotel room
And through my open windows I can hear
The crowd in a frenzy
For a super loud garage rock/punk band called Magnetix
Making me even more neurotic
About whether my folkier racket will go down OK
I finally get backstage
To some mild chaos
Lots of our gear is missing
It appears it’s over on the beach stage
About 400 metres away
And we’re on in about 20 minutes
Ludo happens to be around
And rather than yell and carry on at stage staff
For not having the gear together
He just says to Scott
“We have a mission!”
So Scott, Ludo and our newly arrived friend Jan
(Who has come to see us from Switzerland)
All run across to the other stage
Lugging the gear across
By hand
To see a festival director
Being this hands on at a grass roots level
Without complaint
Shows his commitment
And passion for this festival
We finally get onstage
And my nerves melt away
When I see the crowd waiting for me to start
Many calling out my name
Yelling out that they love me
One guy jumps up onstage
And asks Adam if he can stroke his beard
Punters are hugging my boots as
I walk past the front of the stage
The onstage sound is a little rough
But adrenalin kicks in and I pretend all is well
Despite the fact that I can barely hear my acoustic guitar It seems to be fine out the front though
Because there are smiles and cheers all round
In my excitement
I probably say
Merci beacoup! (thank you very much!)
Too many times
And pronounce my profound love for Binic
Too many times
Yet my use of the regional dialect with the word “Yamat!” (Cheers!)
Seems to go down a treat
(Thanks to the local who suggested I say that…)
And the only other French words that I can remember onstage are
Bonsoir (good evening) and
Je m’appelle Mark Moldre (my name is)
By the end of the set the sound has improved
The area in front of the hotel is jam-packed
And we seem to have gone down a treat

25
photo by Jared Harrison
26
photo by Jared Harrison
27
photo by Jared Harrison

My nervous energy
Has given me a second wind
So I head across to the beach stage
To watch US band OMNI
And hang out with Jan, Jared, Reuben, Scott and Jamie
Plus our young new friend
Up n coming photographer Clement Guyon
I grab a last drink in the artist bar
And head to bed

FESTIVAL DAY 3

Men must live and create. Live to the point of tears – Albert Camus
Or
It frightens me, the awful truth, of how sweet life can be – Bob Dylan

Unsurprisingly I sleep in and
Miss breakfast
Luckily they haven’t yet packed up the leftovers
And even though breakfast is officially over at 10am
They don’t mind that I grab a few mouthfuls
Before heading down to the beach
With Scott and Adam
For Adam and I this trip has been overwhelming
I’m no seasoned traveller
I’ve been overseas a couple of times
China and Thailand
Adam has only ever been once to Fiji and
Although Adam is not really a beachgoer
He feels he has to swim just once
In the Atlantic Ocean
To cross it off his bucket list
Watching him enjoy this experience of
Travelling so far
And enjoying it so much
Has been a real pleasure for me
The pleasure of being in France is written
Across his whole demeanour
The water is cold but rejuvenating

28
photo by Scott Hutchings

Now it’s time to head back
To the large beach stage for my final festival show
I’m on early
2:30pm to be exact
So I’m kinda expecting that there will be
Very few people milling about
And that this will be a smaller show than last night
Thankfully I was overwhelmingly surprised
A bigger crowd than last night has gathered
In fact they have squeezed in
Right to the front of the stage and
As far as I can see and
When I ask the crowd to raise their hands for a photo
A sea of hands and smiling faces respond
Right to the very back
Thousands of faces

29
photo by Mark Moldre

I can see the town of Binic in the background
The church bell tower high above the buildings
A breathtaking sight
I do my best to pause and soak it in
And standing on this stage
I know that I may never experience anything like this again
We play an energized set
The band has really hit its stride now
Adam playing super fast banjo and ripping slide
Jamie strangles his usual incredible array of sounds out of his Jazzmaster
Scott is so relaxed and reliable
And sits so far behind the beat
That I joke he’s still playing the previous song
Reub’s double bass sounds huge and full

30
photo by Jared Harrison
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photo by Jared Harrison
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photo by Jared Harrison

When the set is over I head over to the merch tent
To meet some of the fine French folk
Only to discover that all my CD’s have all sold out
Apparently
Only about 4 minutes after
I finished my last song
I stay and sign CDs and chat
I’m hugged, kissed, photographed and handshaked
I talk to one of the lovely volunteers Marie Caillou
She has been a festival volunteer for years now
And her enthusiasm for music and musicians is epic
A typical example of the passionate volunteers
After my show we are taken into the inner sanctum of the festival
The VIP area for corporate sponsors
A bar is serving free cocktails
A grill is continually on the go
Seafood, kebabs, breads and cheeses are scattered on tables
There are lounges and a massage caravan
(Jamie heads straight in to have his sore lower back attended to)
Here Mikaël interviews all 7 of us
Filming the moment for posterity
Followed by drinks with Ludo
And another new friend Gilou Le Gruiec
A lovely, fiercely intellectual lady
Jamie and I discuss with her the possibility
Of returning someday to Paris
And she suggests the concept of
Playing a series of intimate shows
In bookstores and theatres
Holding master classes
In which we discuss our literary influences and
Curate mini Film Festivals
It’s OK to pipe dream yeah?

33

34
photo by Gilou Le Gruiec

Next up is the last show for our entourage
The Tall Grass head over to the stage to begin setting up
Adam and I tag along
Mainly to help Peter and Jamie
With tunings, guitar changes and string breakages

35
photo by Jared Harrison

Something transformative happens in this set
Whilst Jamie and Peter are singing their beautiful duet
Weathervane
Ludo is tearing up
In fact tears are streaming down his face
It’s a song that means a lot to his personal history
Jared has his arm around him
Gilou is also misty
Jamie chokes a little while singing “The Letting Go”
And in their finale
A beautiful piece
From the pen of Peter Fenton
Named
Halo
Suddenly and
Out Of Nowhere
I’m really struggling to hold
Back the tears
Whether it’s because this is our last full day in Binic
Or because I’m missing my family
Whether it’s being with my oldest friends
On this once in a lifetime trip
Whether I feel a natural affinity with these people
Due to my European heritage
And I know leaving here is going to be difficult
Whether it’s simply hearing this song
Right at this precise moment
Or whether it’s because I’ve played music
For so many years
And have never experienced
Anything that even comes close
To this
This incredible place
Alongside these generous people
Or the fact that I don’t feel
out
of
place
and
awkward
Amongst conversations of
Football and cars
As I do back in Australia at a typical BBQ
But while The Tall Grass are wrapping up
That heartfelt song
I’m overwhelmed and emotionally spent
Yet I feel myself set free
All my pent up stress from Australia
Is melting away
I feel amazingly relaxed and at ease
Happysad
At home
Too much?
Probably.
But I don’t care

PARIS AND HOMEWARD BOUND

The mechanic escalators, automatic gates,
Corridors of correspondence, peak hours and affluence
Mosaic doors, fantastic labyrinth and always, running
The people that go and come and still, running
The same people that return
And the subway that strolls under Paris
Sweetly dashes and then flies
Flies on the corners of Paris
– Edith Piaf

Days go slow and yet fast
Hellos can be leisurely
Goodbyes always seem rushed
We are suddenly standing out the front of our hotel
In our slightly smaller group of 6
(Scott has decided to head over to Switzerland with Jan)
Ludo bestows on us one last parting gift
A hand printed Festival poster
On quality card
Numbered and hand signed by the artist
No’s 1-7
We throw the gear into the waiting vans
Farewell new friends
And drive 20 mins or so to the train station at St Bruiec
We hug and kiss Ludo
Jamie and I bestow on him a
Parting bottle of whisky
As a show of appreciation
But to be honest I can’t thank him enough
I’ve got no words at all really
They drive away
And as their taillights disappear around the corner
We realize that
Once again we are on our own
The Rolling Stones treatment is over
And as we
trudge
carrying
all
our
gear
To the platform
We discover
That there has been a fire at our proposed destination
Of Montparnasse
And the trains are running an hour and a half late
Actually some trains are cancelled
So when we eventually get on
The train is very full
And we have to stand with all our luggage and guitars
Sliding and rolling everywhere
For the 2 hour trip
When we finally get off
We realize we are not at Montparnasse but
We have been delivered to another station
And our destination is still a few trains away
Our single day in Paris is shrinking
And we begin what becomes a journey of epic madness
Into the bowels and catacombs of the Paris subway system
The tunnels are very old
And there are practically no elevators or escalators
Reuben and Jared have gone to meet friends
So they have caught another train
So Jamie, Adam, Peter and I
Each dragging three items of luggage
Descend the first set of stairs
Now I had frozen shoulder before I came
If anything is going to set it off again
It’s the hilarity that’s ahead of us
Peter and I both get trapped in turnstiles
My backpack gets caught
While crawling underneath doors that don’t open
Adam’s arm gets caught in fast closing subway doors
His fist narrowly missing Peter’s jaw
As he pulls his arm ferociously out of the door
Endless sets of stairs
Suffocating lack of air
My 26.5-kilo behemoth bag gets
Heavier and heavier
Jamie, who has done this before, stares at us sympathetically
Knowing it’s going to continue getting worse
Before it gets better
Getting lost
Backtracking
Putting gear down for a rest
Picking it up again
My boots are a little too big
And I can feel the blisters growing
Muddled conversations at Information Centre’s
Police telling us we’re sitting ducks for thieves
Phone app Maps sending us in the wrong direction
When we finally arrive at our hotel in Paris
We are informed the elevator is busted
And we’re on the 4th floor
Up a narrow staircase we go
And collapse on the beds
It’s now about 7pm
A two-hour trip has taken the entire day
Before we all end up falling asleep
We decide we must do something Parisian
Before catching our flight home
We grab a dinner in a pub on our street
Then for what now seems like a luxurious trip
Without towing luggage behind us
We catch another subway to the Eiffel Tower
A bottle of red under Jamie’s arm
For a little bromance in the city of romance
As expected it’s breathtaking
We act like absolute clichéd tourists
Snapping photos and
Jaws dropping at
The view on the second floor

36
photo by Mark Moldre

When it’s close to midnight
We catch the subway back to the hotel and
Sleep soundly
The following day is relatively uneventful
Mini bus to airport
Sleep on plane to China
Brief stopover
Sleep on plane to Sydney
A couple of movies
I write a few notes to jog my memory for this very diary
Very little conversation now
We’re all wasted, tired and contemplative
Taxi back to our car
And before we know we’re home
And it’s all over
In a blink of an eye

EPILOGUE

You’re on earth. There’s no cure for that – Samuel Beckett
Or
You’ve got to psych yourself for the Post Tour Blues – Jamie Hutchings

Reality hits like a huge karmic hammer
It’s wonderful seeing my wife and family again
Presents, hugs and kisses all round
But the work drudge is tough
I unpack my festival mementos
And already Binic is receding in my mind
Like the wisp of a memory
Of a barely remembered dream
Next up
I start planning the release of my new album
Which has been completely recorded
And is in the mixing stages
But deep down I know
Whatever I can conjure up musically
Is unlikely to reach the giddy heights of those
Few days in a small fishing town
So far away

Love
Mark
X
10/08/2018

37
photo by Scott Hutchings

Neil Finn – Out Of Silence album recording/webcast

neil_finn_out_of_silence_0917

Out Of Silence was recorded live in-studio via webcast on Facebook and YouTube and will be mixed, mastered and digitally released one week after the recording, on 1 September 2017.

“It’s pretty damned exciting. It’s the way I always dreamed of making music.”

Each Friday for the last month, Neil Finn has been convening in his Roundhead Studios in Auckland, New Zealand with a collection of musical friends and colleagues and a worldwide audience of over 15,000. Live streaming the sessions has allowed the general public into the world of the recording studio and a chance to intimately witness the technical and creative process that goes into preparing for, and recording an album.

The first three weeks of the Out Of Silence webcasts were used to rehearse and fine-tune a selection of the songs destined for the album as well as treat the studio and online audiences to some musical surprises. Finn was determined to make it an interactive experience, allowing for Skype calls from both members of the public and friends and family from overseas. Crowded House bassist Nick Seymour called in from Ireland and playing along to their song As Sure As I Am, Liam Finn and Connan Mockasin beamed in from Los Angeles and Jimmy Barnes (whose daughter EJ was part of the studio choir) delivered a thrilling Skype duet of the Split Enz classic Shark Attack.

Though the primary purpose of the early sessions was to rehearse for the album recording in week four, Finn rose to the sense of occasion that the process presented. In week two brother Tim joined him for a set of Finn Brothers songs while the following Friday saw Neil back on guitar fronting a tight rock band comprised of James Milne (bass), Elroy Finn (drums), Delaney Davidson (guitar) and Finn Scholes (keyboards) playing Crowded House songs (Weather With You) and Split Enz songs such as I Got You.

Each of the lead-up sessions were a tightly focused two hours but for the final webcast and full recording of the album, a four hour window was allocated. There was clearly less frivolity and loose joking around with the seriousness of the matter at hand. One got the sense the preceding week had been an intense period of rehearsing and ironing out any weaknesses in arrangements and performances. Finn also alluded to a week where many of the musicians had to battle winter illnesses to get to the final stage of the project.

“Is there anything we need to remember?” asks Finn. “Don’t fuck it up!” came the reply from his son and the album’s producer, Liam.

In a tightly packed studio, with Finn solely on piano, brass and woodwind sections, a percussionist, choir, drummer and guitarists as well as studio technicians and a film crew it was clearly an exercise in logistics and planning. As the session progressed it became clear how much of a people-person Finn is. In a high pressure environment, with the world watching, he was still able to create a working atmosphere that allowed individuals to relax and express themselves, for opinions to be voiced and all without a raised voice or overtly autocratic approach. It made for an inclusive and harmonious vibe in the room and one that filtered through into the soul of the music.

With son Liam Finn in the producer role, the album songs were recorded out of sequence, allowing them to ease into the session and also to bracket together the songs that required the various additional groups of musicians. The one constant was the choir, a who’s who of New Zealand music, including James Milne (Lawrence Arabia), Hollie Fullbrook (Tiny Ruins), Reb Fountain, Sam Flynn Scott (The Phoenix Foundation), Don McGlashan (The Muttonbirds), Sean Donnelly (SJD), EJ Barnes and Tim’s son Harper Finn. Dressed in robes and described by Finn as looking like “the mysterious alumni of some obscure university”, they provided a warm, campfire vibe that took in gospel and folk elements, giving weight and ascendency to Finn’s voice across the recordings.

Multiple takes of each song were undertaken, with micro adjustments made on each successive performance. Finn experimented with the interplay between his piano playing and singing, requesting a click track on some takes and none on others – anything to find the right mood and feel for each song. He fine-tuned string arrangements on the fly with arranger Victoria Kelly and provided suggestions to the choir on where to focus the impetus of their singing. It was a fascinating insight into both the process and Finn’s creative spirit and attention to detail.

From the momentum and pulse of Second Nature to the swooning melancholy of More Than One Of You, the Robert Wyatt’ish Alone with Tim Finn on guitar and vocals to the topical and Split Enz-sounding baroque pop of Terrorise Me with the line ‘love is stronger when it hurts’, Finn touched on themes of war, terror and policing but countered it with the greater and often more mysterious power of love. The overarching sound of the album was one of ornate and highly textured music, classic in tone and sophisticated and adventurous in its emotional range.

Chris Familton

EIGHT DAYS A WEEK: September 6th, 2013

DS Post Banner Sizeeightdays

This week I got to listen to a preview stream and review the new LP Dream River by the always reliable Bill Callahan. The review will be in The Music next week (and online) so I won’t give too much away other than to say it is a wonderful album, a very, very good record and a stylistic change for him in some ways yet still quintessentially Callahan.

Locally in Australia there have been some notable new releases this week in the form of King Khan & The Shrines, Violent Soho, Neko Case, Summer FlakeBushwalking, The Paradise Motel, Califone and Vista Chino (formerly Kyuss Lives!). All records that I’ve been looking forward to hearing and no doubt some will push for places in the year end best-of lists. Pixies also returned, somewhat out of the blue with a new 4 track EP that sounds a damn sight better than the Bagboy track they recently released. Indie Cindy in particular sounds like a return to form.

Personally I’m looking forward to spinning some records tonight at The Green Room Lounge in Enmore, Sydney. It is an all vinyl affair, part of their monthly We Play Records night so I’ve been doing the fun yet painful trawl through my collection this week to find some choice cuts. It is shaping up to be a real mixed bag including James Brown, The Clash, Bauhaus, The Congos, Wooden Shjips, Spoon, A Tribe Called Quest and many more. It is looking like I’ll be DJ’ing there again next Saturday night so pop in if you’re in the area.

Voting is open in the Pedestrian.TV Ultrabook Blogster Awards for a few more weeks so if you get a chance hit this LINK and throw us (and Post To Wire) a vote. I wrote a piece for the awards on a guilty pleasure song this week, regressing to my 80s hair metal obsession for one of my favourite tracks of the time.

What Should We Call It? (Naming an Album)

DS Featured Imagecallit

by Chris Familton

Choosing a name for the collection of songs that you’ve spent hours, days or often years sweating into existence can be a stressful and difficult exercise. There are countless tales of bands leaving it to the last minute with no inkling of what to christen their creative work. There are also many albums where the musician has a theme, concept and a title clearly defined in their mind as they write, or at the very least, record their album; Neil Young’s Greendale being a good example.

Over the years there have been some seminal albums with names that sound as perfectly formed as the music contained within. Of course it can be hard to separate the title from the music much in the same way that a child becomes their name, even if it initially sounded like a ridiculous moniker. Marquee Moon, Raw Power, Meat Is Murder, Nevermind, Loveless, Sweetheart of the Rodeo – they all convey emotion and a visceral connection to the music they are attached to.

Conversely there have been some absolute clunkers attributed to albums regardless of how good the music is. Eric Clapton’s latest Old Sock, Elton John’s Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy, Paul McCartney’s Kisses on the Bottom, Coldplay’s Mylo Xyloto and Limp Bizkit’s Chocolate Starfish and the Hotdog Flavored Water only scrape the surface of terrible album names that could never be redeemed by the music they grace. One wonders if those around them ever thought to pipe up and say “Excuse me Sir Paul, with all respect do you really think it is a good idea to call your album Kisses on the Bottom?” Maybe the names were all just victims of a bad sense of humour or a tragic pun like Toby Keith’s Shock’n Y’all or Blink 182’s Enema of the State but regardless there is no excuse for sabotaging all that hard work in a few syllables or words.

Often a song title will provide the name of the album. Mostly this is the case, presumably as the chosen song in some way represents the mood or theme of the record or because it is a catchy phrase that will linger in the listener’s mind. Too often acts take the cop-out route and go with their own name – the self-titled syndrome. Perhaps it was John Lydon’s PiL who found the best way to circumvent having to decide on something when they christened their 1986 release – Album.

this piece was first published as an interview sidebar in Drum Media streetpress 

FEATURE: Signposts in Modern Music

DS Featured ImageSIGNPOSTSWe look at six songs that stand out as important moments in modern music, changing the playing field and inspiring legions of other musicians…

JEFF BUCKLEY – GRACE (1994)

With alternative music (as it was known at the time) in the grip of grunge and hard rock it took a sensitive young man with an angelic voice, good looks and a mesmerizing guitar style to usher in a new era of appreciation for the tortured heart and lost lovers. Buckley spent a long time crafting and refining the batch of songs that would make up his debut album and the epic title track and first single Grace ignited a whole swathe of music listeners who were sick of the posturing and angry angst on the radio. Buckley’s sweet falsetto and powerful voice seduced and influenced everyone from Thom Yorke to Chris Martin and Rufus Wainwright and marked his as one of those special artists even before his tragic death.

THE CURE – A FOREST (1980)

This was the first single that charted for the band in the UK and it marked the real arrival of their sound from which they would base all their future work. It was dark, melancholic and mysterious enough to keep the tortured teens of the time guessing as to what it meant. Sonically there are similarities to early New Order with primitive beats and a prominent bass line that binds and propels the song. By not punctuating the song with big choruses it feels linear and unconventional marking it as something different to the standard chart fodder like Blondie and ABBA. A Forest was an exercise in reductionist pop composition that took them from post punk mopes to leaders of the indie scene at the dawn of the 80s.

PUBLIC ENEMY – BRING THE NOISE (1987)

Public Enemy were the first truly militant hip hop act to garner widespread success in a genre that too often was viewed as cartoonish and not ‘real’ music by the mainstream. PE changed all that by politicising their lyrics and delivering them rapid fire over brutal and drilling beats courtesy of DJ Terminator X. From the opening Malcolm X sample of “Too black, too strong” this was serious music with Chuck D and Flavor Flav playing the roles of orator and jester between the searing scratching and a wide spectrum of beats. Importantly it wasn’t all bluster and noise, Chuck D’s vocal work superbly navigates different meters and phrasing like a poet re-enacting a Miles Davis trumpet solo. Hip Hop would never sound as visceral as this again.

DAVID BOWIE – ZIGGY STARDUST (1972)

Perhaps the best known of Bowie’s many incarnations, Ziggy Stardust was a song that told the tale of the character, created the myth and liberated a generation of music fans and other musicians. In the early 1970s art rock was a underground scene that only reached the masses with the arrival of Marc Bolan on Top of the Pops in 1971. Fellow maverick Bowie was on the same path and with the creation of Ziggy Stardust the two of them led the way for a plethora of like minded extroverts such as Gary Glitter, Slade, Queen, Roxy Music and the New York Dolls. It is easy to underestimate the conceptual influence of Bowie’s theatrical side which has permeated most forms of music ever since. The song Ziggy Stardust (surprisingly not released as a single) was the vehicle for a call to arms for creative freedom and expression and Mick Ronson’s opening chords still sounds magnificent nearly 40 years on.

THE STONE ROSES – FOOLS GOLD (1989)

The final track on the band’s defining album provided the band with their first top ten hit in the UK and their appearance on Top of the Pops is seen by many as the defining moment when the band gained national and subsequently international fame. Fools Gold is the definitive Stone Roses song with Reni’s trademark funk-fueled breakbeat drumming, Mani’s rolling bass, John Squire’s rip and tear wah guitar and Ian Brown‘s lackadaisical vocal delivery. It felt intoxicating, loose limbed and completely of its time on the eve of Britpop and in the twilight of the so called Summer Of Love  – two British music movements that The Stone Roses straddled. Few bands have married guitars and dance beats so successfully since.

THE BEACH BOYS – GOOD VIBRATIONS (1966)

Brian Wilson’s masterpiece of composition and production was reaction of sorts to what he was hearing from The Beatles on the other side of the Atlantic in the mid 1960s. Described by the band’s publicist Derek Taylor as a ‘pocket symphony’ he wasn’t far off the mark. Incorporating instruments like the electro-theremin and cello it sounds like a disorientating wave of melodies, harmonies and musical treats all wrapped up in 3.5 minutes of pop perfection. Psychedelic music was already around but this song elevated it into the mainstream, reaching the top of the US single charts and widening the minds of millions.

LIST: DS Top Albums of 2012

2012 TOP ALBUMS

2012 felt like somewhat of a mixed bag of musical lollies with our favourites encompassing americana, power pop, 80s synth, indie and many shades of psychedelia. The only thing that tied them all together was the strong streak of melody that each was built on. Even in the case of someone like Neil Young & Crazy Horse it was Young’s incredible weaving of musical notes on Old Black that made that record such a delight. Hopefully there will be a few surprises scattered across our list which will send you down another musical rabbit hole to find out if we are onto something… Hopefully we are.

30-21

20-11

10-1

square-600-11Charlie Horse – I Hope I’m Not A Monster

square-600-16Deep Sea Arcade – Outlands

LOWER PLENTYLower Plenty – Hard Rubbish

square-600-15Dinosaur Jr – I Bet On Sky

square-600-13Lee Ranaldo – Between The Times & The Tides

UnknownNeil Young & Crazy Horse – Psychedelic Pill

square-600-17Lawrence Arabia – The Sparrow

square-600Lambchop – Mr. M

square-600-14Suzy Connolly – Night Larks

square-600-12Father John Misty – Dear Fun

FEATURE: Girls Aloud

In the last five years an increasing number of female artists have been making themselves heard above the generic indie clatter. Many of them have stepped away from the softer folk leanings of artists like Feist and Cat Power and established a stronger, more assertive aural template.

In the electronic realm the likes of Austra, Fever Ray and Zola Jesus are creating dark electronic pop music with great critical success. Their music takes influence from post punk, goth, industrial and synth pop but they meld and advance those forms with an added coat of modern digital sheen and futuristic glamour. Across the hallway in the indie room there is Anna Calvi conjuring up swooning guitar-led songs full of passion and drama while next door Florence Welch is taking the baroque sounds of Kate Bush and others and magnifying the music to maximum grandeur.

What links all of these artists is a bold and commanding vocal presence that is of a maximalist nature, projecting outwards. That strength of delivery isn’t something new – Bjork, Patti Smith, Nico, PJ Harvey and Siouxsie Sioux were all there first –  yet this new generation of songwriters are embracing both their natural voices and a desire to invest passion and drama in their music while creating new and interesting work from established musical forms. Simon Reynolds recently wrote of the current trend for overblown sonics and production styles in his Maximal Nation article for Pitchfork. There his focus was on the electronic world yet the themes and trends he discussed are also fertile developments in the pop and indie worlds.

As these artists continue to gather an audience the trickle down effect will increasingly become apparent in other like-minded singers. Locally, acts like Brous, Melodie Nelson and to some extent Washington are embracing big bold artful pop shapes with differing levels of intensity while internationally Feist was one artist who noticeably moved away from some of the sweetness of her earlier work on last year’s Metals LP. Musically it felt like both a retreat and an advance but most of all it was an example of her desire to expand and evolve her craft. It all makes for interesting times as both nostalgia and now increasingly futurism become permanently embedded in the evolution of popular music. The number of female artists among those creating forward thinking and ambitious sounding music is an encouraging and important sign of the times.

this was first published in The Drum Media