INTERVIEW: Before Last Night | Butcher Blades

Melbourne’s tropical filmic electro popsters Butcher Blades are headlining this week’s Last Night event down at The Gaelic in Sydney. A kaleidoscopic evening is bound to occur – of which you can audibly sample on their MySpace page linked below. We threw some question marks at them and these were their colourful responses…

INTERVIEW

Do any of you have any pre-gig rituals? Quoting every one of Michael Caine’s lines from The Ipcress File while methodically fucking up Grammaticalapple’s equipment so he can’t concentrate on being nervous. Goldendelicious is claiming that a persistant state of drunkeness and unprevoked public undress is a key part of his stage preparation, but his story’s wearing thin. Creep.

 What do you personally bring to the sound of your band?  We lend vocals to our sound, donate keyboards and borrow percussion and basslines for our sound. After bringing them to our sound we pick them all back up and rearrange them, so that we all play everything at least once, in the most facetious way possible.

 In 12 months time, what do you hope to have achieved musically?  We have no hopes. So long as tofu and the internet still exist, we’ll still be playing the most visceral shows we can, and grafting film music to dance music. Hopefully more people will see us so we can make bigger parties.

 If you could curate Last Night, who would be your dream line-up?  Lalo Schifrin djing, The John  Barry Orchestra first up, followed by Les Baxter, Classixx, My Disco, the Juan Mclean, Fake Blood, the Very Best. Simian Mobile Disco headline.

 The last song you wrote, what is it about?  The last song we wrote was called Jgsw Lmbs, about the loose sutures holding together the cadavar of suburban mysticism together.

 Recording/Touring – if you had to choose one which would it be?  Recording. We’re already cave dwellers, it’s complimentary to our evolution… or is that devolution?

 Which Australian artist/band is setting the standard at the moment?  World’s End Press for skin peelingly good disco, No Zu for their starkly beautiful reinvention of Afrobeat, My Disco for being the best band on our planet earth.

LIVE REVIEW: George Clinton & Parliament-Funkadelic @ Metro, Sydney (24/04/11)

written by Chris Familton

It is hard to dispute the legendary status of George Clinton with his contributions to music over the last forty years. The man who started in 60s doo-wop led two of the legendary funk/soul groups – Parliament and Funkadelic – and provided a treasure trove of samples and beats for the generations of hip hop artists that followed.

Clinton is currently touring an amalgam of his various bands, a career retrospective if you will. Though the band members range from fresh faces to thirty year stalwarts there was still a cohesiveness to the group and an authentic funk that had the Metro moving for over three hours. The one slight downer was the shallow involvement of Clinton himself who didn’t appeared onstage until half an hour into the show and who looked decidedly unlike his trademark persona of rainbow hair and outlandish clothing. He proceeded to amble around the stage adding vocals when he felt the urge and when he did it was in a coarse, gravelly growl. Musically this mattered little though as we were treated to hits from all corners of his funk spectrum including Aqua Boogie, Flashlight, Dr Funkenstein and Sentimental Journey.

With a revolving door policy on stage there was a constantly changing vibe of players that ensured the three hours felt more like two. Comedy was also a strong factor in keeping things interesting with various pimp-like characters playing up to the crowd and adding to the party, carnival atmosphere that Clinton shows are famous for.

One of the highlights of the evening was an epic rendition of Maggot Brain with Michael Hampton (lead guitarist since 1973) overcoming some early guitar issues to deliver that legendary, soaring psychedelic solo that felt like it could have stretched on forever. Two quite different backup singers worked hard through the set to bring a female perspective to the masculine swagger with Kendra Foster the much better singer of the two with her sassy solo spots. Kim Manning on the other hand was a much better lingerie model and roller skater than vocalist it has to be said.

The night was brought to a close with One Nation Under A Groove and Atomic Dog raising the celebratory atmosphere even further. Though Clinton’s lack of involvement was a disappointment the band showed just how infectious his brand of funk can be with any resistance to dance being futile.

this review first appeared in Drum Media

LIVE REVIEW: Electric Empire @ OAF, Sydney (18/03/11)

written by Chris Familton

Fantine was a great choice to open Electric Empire’s gig with her impressive soul, funk RnB and hip hop sound with some subtle indie sensibilities stirred into the mix. What sets her apart from many in the same market is her live band that makes the performance feel like a group effort, even though she is the undeniable centre of attention. Fantine’s look was a mix of art chic and soul diva topped off with a voice that never missed a note. Her single Rubberoom was fun and catchy as hell without descending too deep into the pop shallows. Immensely marketable, the bonus is she has the songs and the charisma to be successful on the world stage real and witnessing her set felt like seeing a star on the rise.

The crowd were well and truly ready for Electric Empire when the OAF curtains parted to reveal the trio (plus bassist) looking resplendent and slick in their jazz/soul threads. Having your drummer as the centre of attention is a weird thing to get used to but Jason Heerah pulled it off with a mix of unbridled enthusiasm, exceptional drumming and what came across as a real joy just to be up there playing with his friends. Though he was the focal point of the band he was flanked by Aaron Mendozza (keyboards/vox) and main songwriter Dennis Dowlut (guitar/vox) who both possess equally impressive voices and playing abilities.

Electric Empire play music that sounds instantly familiar and comfortable. It felt like you were being transported into classic Al Green, Stevie Wonder and James Brown albums but totally devoid of nostalgia or recycling of those artist’s sounds. Songs like Baby Your Lovin’ was sweet and sultry,  Have You Around was all understated funk while other tracks hinted at 80s influences like Terence Trent D’Arby and Michael Jackson. Special mention should also go to their bassist Marcel who has to be one of the best players around at the moment. He could play hard or soft, totally riding Heerah’s killer grooves.

Electric Empire were smooth and slick, warm and positive without being cloying or overly saccharine and they showed charm in spades. The perfect mix for the type of soul music Electric Empire do so well.

this review first appeared in Drum Media

VIDEO: Tyler, The Creator | Yonkers

There is hope for hip hop when collectives like LA’s OFWGKTA are creating the kind of mad shit they’re coming up with at the moment. Leading the pack is the new track Yonkers from Tyler, The Creator. What makes this stuff interesting is their appropriation of mood and claustrophobic sounds from genres like witch house. There is a sense of dread pervading everything with dark creeping synths and rolling, menacing basslines. The rhymes are intricate and tumbling with no holds barred on content…

The collective also includes Hodgy Beats, Earl Sweatshirt, Domo Genesis, Mike G, Frank Ocean, Left Brain, The Jet Age of Tomorrow (previously known as The Super 3), Syd tha Kyd, Jasper Dolphin, and Taco Bennet.

LIVE REVIEW: Big Day Out 2011, Sydney Showground 26/01/11

written by Chris Familton

As with last year’s Big Day Out the weather gods decided to test the endurance of the masses with another hot and sweaty day in the concrete sauna of the Sydney Showground. The event that is as much a rite of passage for teenagers as a music festival had this year gone with somewhat of a best-of lineup that glanced back at some of the festival’s more memorable acts like The Stooges, Tool, Rammstein and Aussie perennials like John Butler.

Naked and Famous are Kiwi kids making waves and they had the opening honours up in the smaller dual stage area. On the surface they are another electro-tinged pop group but beneath the shine they clearly also draw influence from less mainstream acts like My Bloody Valentine and New Order and they started the day off with a strong, well received set.

Down in the main arena The Vines were kicking things off and sounded remarkably together for a band that is notorious for erraticism, mostly from frontman Craig Nicholls. New songs showed he still has that magic touch with melodies as well as the bratty punk side that came out in the guitar smashing conclusion. The hits like Get Free all got aired and the first mass sing-a-long of the day came with their cover of Outkast’s Ms Jackson which suited the summer vibe perfectly.

Newer kids of grunge – Children Collide – did their best to whip up a storm of distortion and they certainly had the front rows bouncing along but they quickly showed the limitations of their form when Jim Jones Revue followed them with one of the highlight performances of the festival. Jones is a testifying frontman in the vein of Cave and Jagger and his dedication to the cause in a three piece suit was something to be admired. The band looked like South London thugs, po-faced and gritty while Jones sweated and hollered out blues-drenched exhortations of love, sex and revenge.

Rock of the hard kind was also echoing around back at the main stages with AC/DC replicants Airbourne taking things back to the solid and simple school. It was all about sex, rock n roll and highways as they chugged along in front of a wall of Marshall stacks. Joel O’Keeffe did his usual scaffolding climb, this time all the more spectacular with the sheer height of the climb and a guitar hanging from him.

Washington predictably drew a large crowd following on from her massive success in 2010 and she worked the outdoor vibe well for the Triple J demographic For those who found her pop songs a tad uninspiring there was always CSS over at the Boiler Room; whipping up a humid frenzy with their electronic funk and the relentless work from singer Lovefoxxx.

The Boiler Room soon became a chance to get out of the sun but not the heat, especially with the arrival of Die Antwoord, a band that probably puts more effort into their style and performance than they do their music – think Prodigy for a new generation. The buff boys and denim cutoff/bikini brigade loved them and there was no denying the fun aspect of what they do. Another pint-sized frontwoman followed when Crystal Castles brought industrial screes of digital noise to the room. The initial impact of their coruscating sound wore off quickly on some punters, especially with Alice Glass restricted to crutches after breaking her ankle in Japan.

Of the Boiler Room acts, the one that seemed to best master the human/machine connection in their music was LCD Soundsystem. Drunk Girls in some ways typified the day and when the whole room sang along to the line ‘where are my friends tonight’ during All My Friends you knew that many were actually asking that question in the haze of the festival.

The inclusion of the Annandale Stage provided the opportunity for a couple of much loved Sydney bands to return to the Big Day Out. 90s indie popsters Knievel showed they still know their way around a light and artful melody with a few new songs. The same stage was also graced by the 30 year old Hard-ons who sounded like a tornado touching down as they sped through a set of characteristic thrashing punk pop. Rounding out the resurrected locals was Smudge who played to a pitifully small crowd including a few who chose their set to have a quick nap. Regardless, the band seemed to enjoy themselves, playing classics like Outdoor Type to the rewarded few.

Also playing to a small crowd at the seemingly always sparse Hot Produce stage were The Greenhornes who impressed many when they played the BDO in the early 2000s. Featuring the rhythm section from The Raconteurs they didn’t let a dead keyboard deter them as they cranked out  their bluesy garage rock with ease and a precision unmatched at the festival.

As the evening descended the big names took to the main stages. John Butler capitalised on a busy and successful 2010 with a set that showed the full extent of his musical abilities – from folk to funk to roots and rock he was a perfect choice to farewell the sun before bands more akin to the darkside appeared.

Iggy Pop has been doing the same show for decades now but for first timers it must always surely be a thrill to see an aging legend of punk rock still giving his all. With James Williamson back on guitar they felt like a tighter and more adventurous band and songs like Raw Power and Kill City’s Beyond The Law provided a more diverse setlist this time. The obligatory stage invasion is a tad contrived when you know it happens every show and it backfired when some of the fans were manhandled from the stage once the song was over. Iggy though was in fine form, giving the crowd a taste of why he is so special.

In stark contrast to The Stooges’ down to earth rock, Rammstein used every trick in the stadium/rock opera book – employing fireworks, breathing fire, treadmills and make-up in their set. They really were ridiculous though hilarious and highly entertaining and probably a necessary injection of drama to the festival. Tool followed and they too were high on visual enhancements with massive screens overpowering any sense of a band playing live. Maynard James Keenan has always played in the shadows but his lack of interaction added to the distance between band and audience. While the bulk of their set explored their last album and its more wandering, prog sound they did remind us why they are one of the great art metal bands with a closing cluster of songs that included Forty Six & 2 and the crowning glory of AEnima.

Those that chose Grinderman over M.I.A. to round out their day were treated to a truly wired and unhinged Nick Cave. Flailing limbs, flying mic stands and ventures into the audience were all part of a brutally primal performance and now they have two albums to draw from and who they are they were simply astonishing. One of the definite highlights of what was another well organised and successful Big Day Out.

Check out some more photos from the day HERE

this review first appeared in Drum Media

Download DJ Food 1989 Hip Hop Mix…

DJ Food was recently asked to play a night called Classic Material in London. The idea for the club is to give each month over to a year from Hip Hop’s past and only play tracks released during it. He was given 1989 and this set was all done from original vinyl, clicks, jumps and all.

Check the killer tunes from daisy age to proto-gangsta with some hip hop house thrown into the mix… A magic time in hip hop… stream and/or download… enjoy!

Tracklist:

Tone Loc – On Fire (Remix) (Delicous Vinyl)
Gang Starr – Words I Manifest (Wild Pitch)
Chill Rob G – Court’s In Session (Wild Pitch)
Beastie Boys – Hey Ladies (Capitol Records)
Jungle Brothers – Jbeez Comin’ Through (Warner Bros)
Beastie Boys – Shadrach (Capitol Records)
Beastie Boys – Shake Your Rump (Capitol Records)
EPMD – Big Payback (Sleeping Bag)
Ultramagnetic MCs – A Chorus Line (Next Plateau)
Public Enemy – Fight The Power (Motown)
De La Soul – Say No Go (Say No Dope mix) (Big Life/Tommy Boy)
Most Wanted – Calm Down (Fever Records)
Hijack – Badman Is Robbin’ (Rhyme Syndicate)
Ice T – Lethal Weapon (Sire)
Twin Hype – Do It To The Crowd (Profile)
Jungle Brothers – Tribe Vibes (Warner Bros)
Jungle Brothers Beyond This World (Warner Bros)
Cookie Crew – Born This Way (FFRR)
Jungle Brothers – Good News Coming (Warner Bros)
The D.O.C – Portrait of a Masterpiece (Ruthless)
Hijack – Doomsday of Rap (Ice T Remix) (Rhyme Syndicate)
De La Soul – Magic Number (123 mix) (Big Life/Tommy Boy)
Doug Lazy – Let It Roll (Grove St)
Double Trouble & Rebel MC – Just Keep Rockin’ (Desire)

Release date: Jan 24, 2011

 

 

LIVE REVIEW: CocoRosie @ Sydney Opera House, 25/01/11

written by Chris Familton

CocoRosie have attracted a larger audience each time they visit Australia and so this time were rewarded with a gig in the iconic surrounds of the Opera House. Always a duo that combines music, theatre and creative mischief, they were much deserved of a different style of venue from the usual rock haunts.

A last minute addition to the bill was Icelandic songstress Ólöf Arnalds, until recently better known as a member of electronic act múm. Bands often resort to a more restrained personality when playing the Opera House but Olof seemed intent on creating a relaxed and friendly vibe. Cracking jokes, explaining songs and experimenting with the hall’s acoustics were all part of her set. Musically it is hard to ignore the Bjork comparisons especially with her accent and some of the way she phrased her lyrics but she has much more of a delicate, angelic and hypnotic lilt to her voice.

As the lights dimmed and CocoRosie were expected to appear on stage we were surprised with an impressive 15 minute performance by French beatboxer Tez. This guy had the full range of vocal effects, splicing in vocals and utilising a custom made vest with built in synth pads for added samples and percussion.

CocoRosie skipped on stage wearing outfits in keeping with the artwork from last year’s Grey Oceans album and began what was a thrilling, amusing and enchanting show. Everything they did was tinged with their unique artistic interpretation and fusion of musical genres like hip hop, folk, opera, pop and electronica. Their success lay in the way they wove all their influences together so effectively without a trace of novelty or ‘aren’t we clever’ attitude.

Their song selection was heavily slanted towards material from Grey Oceans. The first single Lemonade was all slow, deep funk juxtaposed against Sierra Cassidy’s playful skipping chorus while moments of great tenderness and beauty also abounded on that album’s title track. Two of the evening’s highlights were Hopscotch with the Cassidy sisters singing while playing handclaps together and a genuinely moving By Your Side. Their greatest strength lay in the balance they achieved between their two contrasting voices – Sierra’s folky and operatic tones and Bianca’s high pitched other-worldly sound. The balance and combination of all their artistic extremes made for a highly entertaining and mesmerising evening.

this review first appeared in Drum Media

LIVE REVIEW: U2 @ ANZ Stadium, Sydney 13/12/10

written by Chris Familton

It has certainly been heavyweight season lately with the likes of Metallica, Bon Jovi and Guns n Roses coming through town but the biggest of them all is U2. Certainly they are the band with the widest appeal and even the most casual fan knows that the Irish quartet will always deliver a spectacular multimedia show.

U2 chose to bring along Jay-Z to warm up the swelling crowd and he did just that. The masses were all to willing to ‘throw their arms in the air and wave them like they didn’t care’ as Jay-Z prowled the stage barking out his tough yet pop-tinged hip-hop. The hits were all there – 99 Problems, Young Forever and Empire State of Mind – which didn’t have a great live vibe seeing as Alicia Keys was only present as a pre-recorded chorus. Yes Jay-Z got the crowd in the mood for the main act but hip-hop never sounds great in stadiums.

A fast forwarding clock counted down to the moment U2 strode out onto their latest stage construction – the 360 degree ‘space station’. As a structure it is an ugly creature from a budget sci-fi film but once the stadium lights were out the magic really started. The opening track Return Of The Stingray Guitar sounded like a band in a blender while the band strode cocksure around the ring catwalk. The lightweight intro did serve a purpose though as the crashing chords and blinding lights of Beautiful Day felt like a launching rocket in comparison.

U2 have stuck around long enough to build up a hefty catalog of songs to choose from so it was unfortunate they took the safe route. The ‘new’ songs like Elevation, Vertigo, Get On Your Boots and I’ll Go Crazy all sounded uniformly bombastic and arrogantly naive though they served to show how great U2 can be when they do write classics like Bad and I Will Follow.

The highlight of the show was surely the chiming, spiraling Where The Streets Have No Name with Edge in his finest hour of inventive and emotive playing. The lowlight on the other hand was a disappointing Sunday Bloody Sunday complete with a pointless Jay-Z guest rap.

U2 yet again excelled at putting on a visually impressive light and video show that felt both original and at times truly futuristic. Musically they were often fantastic but their failure was not choosing their strongest set of songs. Indeed you can’t please everybody but by trying to please everybody and exaggerating their already pompous stage theatrics you sense that U2’s only way forward from here may be to retreat.

this review first appeared in Drum Media