SONIC KICKS: The Electorate

Sydney trio The Electorate release their debut album You Don’t Have Time To Stay Lost tomorrow, via Templebear Records/MGM. It may be their debut album but the band members have a rich lineage through a raft of Australian bands including Big Heavy Stuff, Knievel, The Apartments, The Templebears, Imperial Broads, Atticus and more.

The Electorate is: Eliot Fish (Bass/Vox), Josh Morris (Guitar/Vox), Nick Kennedy (Drums/Vox)

Guitarist Josh Morris says “I stepped away from playing music to study, work and be a parent. I’m kind of myopic and not a great multitasker. When my kids got to an age where I could pick up a guitar again I did. I had forgotten how much it meant to me, and reuniting with old friends Eliot and Nick to make music again felt like I was reclaiming a large part of myself I’d forgotten was there.”

The album was produced by Tim Kevin (The Apartments, Holly Throsby, Youth Group, Peabody, Buddy Glass) and mastered by JJ Golden (Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings, Neko Case, Soundgarden) in California. It finds them exploring indie and pop-rock in the wide and varied sense of those styles. There’s the emotiveness of Suede, the classic songwriting of Crowded House, surging power pop, the angles and avant swerves of Modest Mouse and the bristling riffs and rhythms of a number Australian 90s bands.

Drummer Nick Kennedy was kind enough to dig back through his musical memory bank to give us an insight into some of the albums that have musically shaped him.

The first album I bought:

Dev-O Live

Helping it get to #1!

An album that soundtracked a relationship:

Field Music – Plumb

The relationship I was having with myself!

An album that inspired me to form a band:

PJ Harvey – Dry

When that came out and I realised we were the same age I seriously had to

lift my game!

An album that reminds me of my high school years:

Siouxsie & The Banshees – Tinderbox

So many but this one sticks with me. 1986 was an amazing year!

An album I’d love to hear live and played in full:

Fugazi – In On The Killtaker 

… but I know it’ll never happen!

My favourite album cover art:

Leah Senior – The Passing Scene 

Just magnificent!

My guilty pleasure album:

There are no guilty pleasures, but I’ll say anything by The Police. Sting,

I know right?! But what a band!

The last album I bought:

Emma Swift – Blonde On The Tracks

If anything is gonna turn you onto Dylan it’s this!

The next album I want to buy:

Verlaines – Dunedin Spleen

A double LP by NZ’s finest!

https://theelectorate.bandcamp.com/album/you-dont-have-time-to-stay-lost

NEW MUSIC: body / negative – Figure 8

Figure 8 is a haunting and dream-like piece of instrumental ambient composition from 22 year old queer, nonbinary ambient artist, multi-instrumentalist, and producer Andy Schiaffino from Los Angeles.

There’s a David Lynch, otherworldly atmosphere to both the music and the video clip – like a ghostly ballroom soliloquy from a bygone era. The song is a cover of a cover — originally a children’s song on the educational cartoon ‘Schoolhouse Rock’, popularised by Elliott Smith’s cover of it on his Figure 8 LP. Here it’s given a similar treatment to artists such as The Caretaker and William Basinski.

The song appears on body / negative’s new album Fragments due October 23rd on LA label Track Number Records.

SONIC KICKS: Wahoo Ghost

Wahoo Ghost - Band Shot SONIC KICKS

Sydney trio Wahoo Ghost have just released their debut album The Eighth Door and the brand new single She Wolf’ (check out the video below). The album is high on atmospheric psychedelia that swirls around the dark poetry of Charli Rainford. Space and texture is paramount, whether it’s raw and bluesy or grainy and dream-laden.

The Eighth Door is available now on Spotify, Apple Music and CD Baby.

Guitarist Rob Crow took the time to take our Sonic Kicks Q&A to give us a taste of some of the albums that have shaped his musical life.

Wahoo Ghost are Charli Rainford (vocals, guitar), Rob Crow (lead guitar), and Jarvis Woolley (percussion).

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The first album I bought.

The Goodies – Greatest Hits.

Well I was only nine, what did you expect, Iggy & The Stooges?

Black Angels

An album that soundtracked a relationship.

The Black Angels – Phosphene Dream.

I used to have a neighbour whose dog would howl every time I put this album on. As soon as the guitar riff in ‘Bad Vibrations’ started, that set him off, then he’d howl over the fence for the entire album. After a while we became friends. His name was Boris. Wait, you didn’t mean a romantic relationship did you?

Hawkwind

An album that inspired me to form a band.

Hawkwind – In Search of Space.

Space music doesn’t have to mean songs about other planets, but music that uses space – sparseness, atmosphere and strange whooshing effects, to take you to your own inner zone-out space. We try to create atmosphere and space in our music too. Have I used the word “space” enough yet?

The Fall

An album that reminds me of my high school years.

The Fall – This Nation’s Saving Grace.

I was the weirdo at school who didn’t really fit in. So I used to travel on the tube up to central London to see bands, to escape the humdrum suburban life. The Fall were one of the best. Sarcastic, angular, awkward and repetitive. A bit like me as a teenager.

Spiritualized

An album I’d love to hear live and played in full.

Spiritualized – Pure Phase.

Epic, soulful, emotional, soaring, beautiful. Spiritualized are another band who are masters of using space in their music. Some moments in this album feel like time is frozen, and you are transported to another world.

Kraftwerk

My favourite album cover art.

Kraftwerk – Computer World.

This album cover is what the future looked used to look like, in the past. Oh, and they also kickstarted the whole movement of electronic music. Geniuses.

 

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A guilty pleasure album.

A Flock of Seagulls – A Flock of Seagulls.

I don’t really feel guilty about any music that I genuinely like. But once you can get past the haircuts, this is actually a pretty good album. And now that 1982 is the new black, they’re kind of cool again, aren’t they?

Grouper

The last album I bought.

Grouper – Grid of Points.

This is the ultimate in atmospheric music, very introspective, reminiscent of early Portishead. Liz Harris’ voice is run through reverbs and delays, along with sparse instrumentation, creating dense layers of sound. Don’t put this on at a party.

Syntax Error

The next album I want to buy.

Syntax Error – Message.

You absolutely should put this on at a party. One of the best bands in Sydney right now. Hypnotic rhythms, swirling swooping space effects, and a theremin, the only instrument you play without actually touching it. 

 

SONIC KICKS: Darren Cross

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Defiantly independent and creatively driven, Darren Cross is always seeking new ways to translate his ideas and influences into music. Whether it was in the heady days of indie/electro guitar punks Gerling, as a DJ and electronic music producer, as one half of folk noir duo Jep and Dep (with Jessica Cassar) or as a solo artist.

Under his own name he’s released two solo albums that have both blended and negotiated a harmonious co-existence between neo-folk acoustic guitar and Kraut/psych pop songs from a parallel universe. _Xantastic was Springsteen and Kraftwerk meeting at the crossroads while last year’s PEACER found Cross broadening his palette into more meditative folk and hypnotic cosmic dance vibes. It’s a wonderful collection of songs, always pushing and pulling and questioning musical conventions. The possibilities are endless in Cross’ world and his genius resides in the ability to pull the disparate melodies, rhythms and lyrical ideas into conventional song formats.

You can catch Cross on tour with fellow sonic traveller Jamie Hutchings through NSW in March and April as well as a show at the Petersham Bowling Club on March 10th with The Finalists and The Ramalamas.

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SONIC KICKS: THE ALBUMS THAT SHAPED ME

 

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The first album I bought.

Maybe The Young Ones with Cliff Richard… it had ‘Living Doll’ on it. I thought the Young Ones were so cool!!

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An album that soundtracked a relationship.

Tortoise – TNT – I guess being in a band is a relationship right? This was Gerling’s interstate driving album. Such a great album and such a buzz that we supported Tortoise twice. Disco dancing with half of them after the shows was a rite of passage to me anyway!

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An album that inspired me to form a band.

Probably AC/DC – T.N.T. but seeing Angus Young on Rage doing a live guitar lead at an early AC/DC concert that sounds like the foundation of ‘Thunderstruck’ really blew me away. AC/DC were the bad gang’s music at my high school.

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An album that reminds me of my high school years.

As a whole, probably Nirvana’s Nevermind, but that’s boring! I also really loved Living Colour’s VIVID. ‘Cult of Personality’ really blew me away. My friend gave me cassette of the album.

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An album I’d love to hear live and played in full.

David Bowie’s Blackstar, but it’s impossible now. I loved the album when it first came out, just before David died. I love the songs and the especially the production. Always next level. A great gift to leave us. x

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My favourite album cover art.

My Bloody Valentine – Loveless. it looks exactly like the album sounds. Also Pavement’s Slanted and Enchanted– The artwork on my new album PEACER is a nod to those two albums! Early 90’s – all about magenta man!

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A guilty pleasure album.

Cyndi Lauper – Essential Collection. I actually just did some shows in Europe and the album was on a plane music playlist! I forgot how great she is – her vibe, songs, voice and look. So great!! Not too guilty I guess, but yeah she’s done a few of those TV talent shows that made me wanna puke but 80’s Cyndi is top notch!

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The last album I bought.

Sleaford Mods – Austerity Dogs on vinyl. My friend in Berlin played this too me just recently at 4am after I had just played some shows on my latest Euro tour. I bought it the next day. Fucking amazing. FIZZI are my fave band this week.

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The next album I want to buy.

Best of Tony Joe White. Another friend in Berlin did the same thing – whacked the record on the record player at 6am after a solid night of boozing! I know BT from Love Police toured him in Sydney a few time but I never made it before he passed away! Such a great album. Super groovy, almost Krautrock beats sometimes. A converted disciple I am now!

SONIC KICKS: Peabody

Sonic Kicks PEABODY

Peabody are now five albums deep in a career that has seen them become a stalwart of the Sydney indie rock scene over the last 24 years. Their latest, A Redder Shade Of Rust (produced by Jamie Hutchings) finds them in fine form yet again. It’s heady, poetic and a really great balance of melody, rhythm, momentum and knotty guitars. It’s dark and churning one minute, on songs such as ‘Perfectly Fine’, before hitting a spirited punk sprint on ‘Prosthetic Heart’. Elsewhere, ‘Sometimes’ is a murky tumble through post-punk shadows and ‘Too Many Days’ heads to the desert with a Morricone twang and an exquisite chorus.

Singer and guitarist Bruno Brayovic kindly took the time to take a swing through our Sonic Kicks: Albums That Shaped Me Q&A and talks G’N’R, Ween and buying cassettes in Ashfield Mall.

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The first album I bought.

The Divinyls  – What a Life

I bought this on cassette (which I still have) at a small record shop next to Franklins supermarket in Ashfield Mall, when I was in Year 5. I’d seen an ad for it on TV which included snippets of Good Die Young and of course, Pleasure and Pain. I was mesmerised, and if I’m honest, probably quite excited by Chrissy Amphlett. I still am.

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An album that soundtracked a relationship.

The blue album by Weezer was a a favourite of mine and my first girlfriend. I wore Buddy Holly glasses but I’m pretty sure neither of us knew what Mary Tyler Moore looked like.

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An album that inspired me to form a band.

It’s a cliche but Nirvana’s Nevermind really solidified my resolve to write songs and perform them with a band (we’d already performed live at school in some capacity). The simplicity of the songs and Kurt’s vocal approach both appealed to me because they both seemed achievable. I was wrong.

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An album that reminds me of my high school years.

Guns N Roses – Appetite For Destruction

I’d gone overseas with my parents so I managed to get it before it came out in Australia. I taped it for heaps of my friends so I was popular for about two weeks. It’s still the very copy I listen to when I whack it on the record player.

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An album you’d love to hear live and played in full.

I thought Kell’s (from Singing Skies) suggestion of John Cale’s Paris 1919 was awesome. I’d love to hear that. But if I have to choose something different I think I’ll say Ween’s Chocolate & Cheese.

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My favourite album cover art.

So many to choose from. Hard to go past Midnight Oil’s Red Sails in the Sunset.

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A guilty pleasure album.

The Traveling Wilburys self-titled debut album. Is this cool again, or is it still daggy? I dunno, but I do know there are some killer songs on it. Some of Bob Dylan’s best songwriting moments are on here, too, including ‘Tweeter & the Monkey Man’, which George Harrison said was actually largely written by Tom Petty. Each song is better than the last, with the exception of ‘End of the Line’ which is still passable.

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The last album I bought.

A vinyl reissue of Paul Kelly’s Post.

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The next album I want to buy.

Piss-Up by local punk band C.O.F.F.I.N. The vinyl is sold out but I’ve been streaming it like crazy. Anyone wanna sell me a copy? Will drop pants for food… or album. These guys are insane live.

SONIC KICKS: The Singing Skies

Sonic Kickssingingskies

On the eve of the Vivid launch show for the new LP from The Singing Skies, the main creative figure behind the band, Kell Derrig-Hall, takes us on a tour of his record collection and a few of the albums that shaped his musical life.

Head In The Trees, Heart On The Ground (via Preservation Records) is Derrig-Hall’s second album and it’s quite the immersive, mesmerising and atmospheric listening experience – of which we’ve said:

“Evocative moods via a lush and swooning sonic palette afford Derrig-Hall the ability to paint stately and ornate folk songs of the English variety. Everything is considered and most of it is gently presented with strings, guitar, shuffling drums, soft bass and a warm dose of ambient reverb giving the songs a dreamy, pastoral quality.”

You can catch The Singing Skies launching their album live at Golden Age Cinema & Bar in Surry Hills, Sydney on Saturday June 3rd, in collaboration with Vivid Sydney.

metallica

The first album you bought.

I bought Metallica’s Ride The Lightning and Guns N’ Roses’ The Spaghetti Incident on cassette from a mall near my house. The Guns N’ Roses tape was all covers which I didn’t realise at the time. I think there was a Cosmic Psychos cover on there which is pretty cool. I’m still a pretty big fan of Ride The Lightning when I’m in the right mood.

An album that soundtracked a relationship.

My partner Lia and I listened to a lot of Red Apple Falls by Smog early in our relationship. It’s a lovely record to sleep in and create your own world around.

leonard-cohen-x-john-berg-songs-from-a-room

An album that inspired you to form a band.

Leonard Cohen’s Songs From A Room was a big influence on my songwriting and convinced me that writing songs that centred around lyrics and sincere sounding singing could be exciting. Lia and I formed an ambient noisey drone band called Moonmilk after spending a lot of time with Fripp and Eno’s No Pussyfooting.

An album that reminds you of your high school years.

The Clash – London Calling

I loved this album so much and I made tapes of the double album which gave it a lot of mileage on the bus to school. It really opened me up to a lot different ideas in music.

cale paris

An album you’d love to hear live and played in full.

John Cale – Paris 1919. 

This album is just so incredible. Imagine seeing those strings and oboes and wild arrangements. John Cale taking on a character that speaks to ghosts and travels around Europe being mystified by everything and poking fun at the aristocracy. Apparently he was very high and loose during the writing and recording but I think he could pull it off.

Your favourite album cover art.

King Crimson – The Court of the Crimson King

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A guilty pleasure album.

Bob Dylan – Empire Burlesque. 

This is not a celebrated Dylan album, but I think it’s pretty great. The arrangements are creating some sort of new wave/harmonica rock. There are some really great songs on it and he’s really belting it out with the backing singers. It doesn’t always go down well at a party though.

The last album I bought.

Weyes Blood – Front Row Seat To Earth

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The next album I want to buy.

Richard and Linda Thompson – Pour Down Like Silver

Alice Coltrane – The Ecstatic Music Of Alice Coltrane

Heat Wave – Heat Wave

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SONIC KICKS: Witch Hats

Sonic Kicks Witch Hats

Witch Hats have a few very good albums under the collective belt but their latest, Deliverance, is hands down the best thing they’ve done. It’s a blistering set of lurching rock ‘n’ roll and in our review we said “They’re firmly in the realm of The Clash, The Drones and The Gun Club yet they’ve dug their own hook-laden hole and decorated it with all manner of exceptional dark pop and bruised, gutter-punk blues.” They’re currently touring the album (dates below) and Kris Buscombe kindly took the time to answer our Sonic Kicks Q&A where he talks about Wide World Of Sports, arachnophobia, Bon Scott on the Titanic and the albums that shaped him musically.

  • Aug 19th @ Red Rattler Theatre, Marrickville
  • Aug 20th @ Trainspotters, Brisbane
  • Aug 27th @ The Tote, Melbourne

The first album I bought…

ShaqDiesel

Shaquille O’Neal – Shaq Diesel

 I used to record stuff off TV to VHS tape and nabbed a clip of Shaq Diesel’s lead single – ‘Shoot Pass Slam’ off seminal music show, Wild World of Sports.

It was 1992 and basketball was massive in Australia. I had baggy jeans and a teal coloured Charlotte Hornets jacket and a folder full of basketball cards. A brief and confused few years for me, just before I became a real man and got into rock and roll. But back in the heady days of ’92 it was just a Teac boom box and a whole album of basketball rap songs.

An album that soundtracked a relationship…

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Live – Throwing Copper

I used to go out with a woman named Kylie.  She worked at a slot car racing track where I was spending most of my afternoons. A scale model racing track. Big indoor circuit with 15cm long cars careering off in every direction. An arousing place.

Kylie was mad for Live’s Throwing Copper. I had to listen to it constantly.  It’s a horrible shit of a record. I don’t recommend it and if you’re an arachnophobe I don’t recommend Kylie either. She teased me and put spiders on my face once when I slept.

An album that inspired me to form a band…

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50 Million Clowns – First Class Experiment

I attended a Foo Fighters concert in ’98.  I don’t recall being a fan but my friends and I were Nirvana obsessives. They mobbed Dave Grohl as he crossed the busy highway directly in front of the Hobart Town Hall and chatted with him for a while. I missed out on this interaction – I was glued to my seat inside the hall having corrective ear surgery as three crumpled and shockingly plain looking men changed my life forever with the most atonally beautiful noise I’d ever come across. 50 Million Clowns and their album First Class Experiment re-wired my brain when I was 15. The fact they came from Hobart blew me out hunting headfirst into a small unique scene taking place right on my doorstep. This album holds up. It’s harsh and powerful rock with a thoroughly unique and individual darkness surrounding it.

An album that reminds me of my high school years…

Nirvana-Incesticide

Nirvana – Incesticide

I’d come across a poster of ‘Kurt Cobain 1967-1994’ some place and didn’t know who he was (the end of my Shaq era) and asked chef Raymond at my dad’s restaurant.  He lent me a CD of Nevermind. Great songs for a beginning guitarist.  I was a shy angst-ridden musical misfit in an extremely annoying high school getting up to a lot of mischief and smoking pot. I felt an intense connection to Kurt for a while as some kind of delayed grunge kid in the midst of an anti-establishment, regime change inside my body. ‘Aneurysm’ is their greatest song and closes this disc of rarities. I was kicked out of McCann’s Music store when they caught me hidden in the manuscript section, tablature scribbled in biro across my arms, Incesticide tablature book open on the floor.

An album I’d love to hear live and played in full…

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Every ‘band perform album’ gig I’ve attended has failed to please me. There’s too much excitement and spontaneity in a gig if I’m not aware of the set list in advance. It’s a fair-weather music fan’s thing.

To be a good sport I will say The Doors in 67 at the Whiskey doing their first self-titled album. Or Hendrix doing Axis Bold As Love, The Birthday Party doing Junkyard back in ’82, Dylan doing Blond On Blonde in 1955 or AC/DC with Bon Scott playing Surfer Rosa on the Titanic.

My favourite album cover art…

Hans Bellmer – La Bouch

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A guilty pleasure album…

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Most of my favourite music could fit in here.  Cheap Trick’s Heaven Tonight is pretty great.  Everyone I try to put onto it makes a gross face and I have to turn it off. I put on Aerosmith’s Rocks album at a party a while ago and got in trouble. Steely Dan’s Aja record. Dylan’s ’80s albums.

The last albums I bought…

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Dr. John – The Sun, Moon & Herbs and Lucinda Williams – The Ghosts of Highway 20

 

The next album I want to buy…

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The Aggravators – Dubbing At King Tubby s Vol. 1

I started getting into Dub music about a year ago.  It’s my favourite stuff to listen to at the moment and anything involving King Tubby is the greatest.

SONIC KICKS: Show Me Where It Hurts

Sonic KicksSMWIH

Show Me Where It Hurts are a Rhodes electric piano, drums and vocals duo from Auckland, New Zealand. Both musicians have been key players on the Auckland scene for the last two decades with Josh Hetherington fronting Thorazine Shuffle and Ronny Haynes drumming with bands such as Pash and Fagan And The People.

The pair have just released their debut self-titled EP (stream/buy below) which follows their 2014 7″ single ‘Show Me Where It Hurts’/’All I Ever Need’ (included on the EP). This time around they’ve built on the one-two punch of the drums/Rhodes combination, adding harmonies, guitars, percussion and keys to the mix with players such as Salon Kingsadore’s Hayden Sinclair on bass, Tom Rodwell (‘Sheffield’s answer to Lightnin’ Hopkins’: NME) on guitar, legendary double bassist Peter Scott, Finn Scholes (Carnivorous Plant Society) on trumpet, and Cam Allen on baritone sax. The results are a richer, more textured and nuanced set of recordings that drip with sweet soul, humid grooves and Hetherington’s voice which soothes and strains in equally rewarding amounts.

Hetherington – songwriter, singer and the man on the keys in SMWIH – kindly took the time to reminisce, enthuse and wax lyrical about some of the important albums that have shaped his musical life.

The first album I bought…

Kiss – Unmasked (1980)

MI0002326466Not their greatest, but as an eight-year old turned on to Kiss by their Australasian pop smash ‘Shandi’ (and Dynasty’s ‘I Was Made for Lovin’ You’), along with an older friend’s encouragement, and, yeah, the make-up, mystique and all-out cartoonish-ness of the whole thing, then you couldn’t go wrong with a comic book cover, the original line-up – at least in name (there was a notable session player in place of Peter Criss on the drums) – and the pop accessibility of many of the harmony laden, yet still riff-heavy, tunes (many co-written by producer Vini Poncia). It all made for a perfect entry point as far as these ears were concerned, at very formative stage. Their concert at Western Springs (Auckland, NZ), in December 1980, was my first and was also highly formative.

Gene Simmons’ standouts ‘Naked City’ and ‘She’s So European’ are big-ass, pop metal tunes, Paul Stanley’s ‘What Makes the World Go ’Round’ and ‘Tomorrow’ fill the same sort of bill, but it’s the Ace Frehley tunes, ‘Talk to Me’, ‘Torpedo Girl’ and ‘Two Sides of the Coin’ – along with several of his killer solos – which hark bark to the grittier era of their early-mid ’70s oeuvre, and which always stood out to me.

An album that soundtracked a relationship…

Nick Cave – Your Funeral, My Trial (1986)

MI0003093418Your Funeral, My Trial is an album I gave to my wife early in our relationship, and it holds a special place for me. The doomed, world-weary romance and weighty carnival-esque feel of the record, with its heavy Hammond use (often played by Cave), not to mention a song called ‘The Carney’, provided a beautiful, dark and contrapuntal soundtrack to a happy and exciting time, and proved not at all prophetic for us in its foreboding atmosphere (16 years on!).

I love the title track, and the prototypical, Cave-ian ‘Sad Waters’ which features a character called Mary (no less), with hair of gold and lips like cherries (natch!), who seduces the protagonist’s soul, wading the aforementioned waters with her dress up past her knee, turning them into wine under weeping willow trees, whose vines she plaits.

It still makes me want to drink too much vodka.

An album that inspired me to form a band…

Nirvana – Nevermind (1991)

MI0001996061Nevermind showed the way for rock music post its ’80s nadir, I think, tearing back the curtain to reveal the possibilities of combining a vital and uncompromising, underground punk spirit and sound with the ’70s metal and rock ’n’ roll of this teenager guitar player’s high-school years and the high (’60s-based) art-pop and rock of his childhood (early ’80s Beatlemaniac that I was).

Teenage angst had arguably never sounded quite as raw, exciting, honest, vital, uncompromising or as inspiring as this. Inimitable as it was, it was the intent and the perfectly executed, and infectiously simple idea that provided a way forward, when one had otherwise seemed unforthcoming, much in the same way I’m sure punk in the ’70s did for so many young players and bands.

I got in touch with a drummer I knew from primary school who suggested I bring my guitar along to the rehearsal of a group he was playing with, and I joined my first proper band (Thorazine Shuffle).

Albums that reminds me of my high school years…

MI0002960634Led Zeppelin – II (1969), The Rolling Stones – Let It Bleed (1969), The Beatles – White Album (1968), The Who – Quadrophenia (1972), David Bowie – Ziggy Stardust (1972), Lou Reed – Transformer (1972), Bob Dylan – Blonde on Blonde (1966), The Clash – London Calling (1980), Elvis Costello – My Aim Is True (1977).

I dug pop radio, too, but as a guitarist and nascent songwriter I was immersed in another era, educating myself (in a certain area, anyway), somewhat out of time and out of step with contemporary mores. But I also loved The Cure – and Licensed to Ill and Appetite for Destruction came along at about the right time, too!

An album I’d love to hear live and played in full…

You Am I – Hourly Daily (1996)

Album330_HDr-363x363I’d love to have caught one of these shows in 2013 with all the live horn and string arrangements, when You Am I performed the album and Hi Fi Way (1995) in their entirety.

Hourly Daily is a beautiful, evocative and poignant record, that makes me feel as sad as it makes me happy. Though I’m not Australian, there’s a spirit, sound, sense of humour and sensitivity to this band and Tim Rogers’ songs – as optimised by their mid 1990s output – which has always appealed to me and to which I really relate – making me wonder if perhaps the suburban New Zealand childhood I experienced wasn’t so different from that of many of our Australian cobbers.

The Triple J documentary on the making of Hourly Daily, which originally aired in the early 2000s, was recently posted at the station’s site, and is a compelling listen, with the multi-tracks revisited, and drum, keyboard, guitar and vocal parts re-examined, soloed, marvelled at and celebrated by the band.

Personal note: Having shared Auckland Big Day Out festival bills on a number of occasions in the 1990s, my then band (Thorazine Shuffle) finally got a chance to share a stage in support, on the night You Am I debuted their new guitarist Davey Lane at Auckland’s Powerstation in 1999.

My favourite album cover art…

The Rolling Stones – Exile on Main Street  (1972)

MI0000035025‘They’re gonna love it!’ Mick Jagger was quoted as saying upon seeing the design from beat photographer (and subsequent director of infamous Stone’s verité film Cocksucker Blues), Robert Franks. And by they, he meant the kids, legions of them, Stones fans all, who would understand implicitly, in the monochromatic murkiness of the sleeve and the music, this perfect representation of the marriage of art and commerce, music and money, the band and the record.

The front cover isn’t simply the collage of freaks, strongmen, dancing girls, ventriloquists, b-grade movie stars and billiard ball eaters, which it initially appears to be. Rather, it’s a single photograph of a wall covered in postcards, cigarette cards, snaps from a bygone era (covering all of the aforementioned material and a great deal more).

The distinction is important, as interest lies not only specifically in the strangeness of the images themselves, but in the strangeness of the world they represent in the photograph’s entirety, and the unease and loneliness it (and the realisation of its nature) evokes.

As with the album itself – a sprawling yet somehow highly successful, evocative, moving, inspiring and ultimately cohesive (in its whole) exploration of rock ’n’ roll, Gospel, blues, country and Americana – the photograph is greatest as the sum of its parts.

Franks was heralded by none other than King of the Beats, Jack Kerouac himself, who wrote the introduction to the photographer’s iconic collection of photographs, The Americans, first published in 1958. His employment by Mick Jagger was in part testament to the lineage (that bona-fide Beats connection) that his involvement would lend. But it was mostly due to the greatness of his work – Franks clear understanding of, and eye for, the magnitude and unknowingness of his greatest subject matter (in America and Americans), in harmony with the greatness of the singer’s and his band’s own work (and their understanding of their own often overlapping subject matter) – not to mention Jagger’s own impeccable instincts and taste.

The back cover and gatefold spread are balanced with additional Franks images from his ’50s America – a box office showing a Joan Crawford film, a small-town parade of saluting servicemen and civilians, lonely juke joints, a desert road – and augmented with Super 8 stills shot by the photographer of the Stones, surrounded by the decadence of some of the gardens, streets, studios and porno theatres of L.A – Mick, Keith and Charlie, Bobby Keys, Jim Price, Marshall Chess, Mick Taylor, Bill Wyman, a sleeping man (one eye open), an unidentified woman, bystanders, hangers on, mugging for the camera, smiling, pouting but mostly looking bored, yawning, self-conscious – the ennui of the ’70s having well and truly set-in.

‘They’re gonna love it’, and indeed they did. I do, too.

A guilty pleasure album…

Dire Straits – Making Movies (1980)

MI0003515822Another formative album from my childhood, so there’s a strong nostalgic element. That said you can’t really go past the melodrama or whirligig-ery of ‘Tunnel of Love’ for a song.

And how about ‘Romeo and Juliet’? That picked Dobro intro always grabs me, and Mark Knopfler’s film noir, street-wise patter, always impressed me as a kid, too. Come to think of it what am I apologising for? It still impresses me. Plus he plays guitar on Dylan’s Slow Train Coming (another guilty pleasure!)

The last album I bought…

Sly Stone – Listen To The Voices: Sly Stone In The Studio 1965-1970

ListenToTheVoicesSlyA killer collection of often rare, formative-era, Sly Stone produced cuts as Svengali-style producer and hit man.

Tracks include unreleased demos, nuggets and gems from the Family Stone along with songs Sly wrote and produced for artists such as (Nuggets-era) Beau Brummels, Billy Preston, 6IX, Joe Hicks, Little Sister, The French Fries and Sly himself – and many have been excavated and in some instances mixed for the first time for this release, by compilation producer Alec Paleo.

It’s a master class in pop, soul and funk production with heavy signposts along the way telegraphing Sly’s production peak (and personal nadir) in ’71’s dense, claustrophobic, and sometimes downright paranoid There’s a Riot Going On – both his biggest album to that date, and the record which saw the dissolution of the original Family Stone line-up.

Tracks by 6IX, Joe Hicks, Abaco Dream and Sly himself often point the way towards Riot’s infamous and hypnotic, narco-funk minimalism – with tracks often sparsely yet powerfully furnished with early drum machine, direct and extremely up-front bass, harmonica, effected keyboards and guitar, not to mention Sly’s own unique and unselfconscious singing and vocalisms.

Earlier tracks often reflect the more raucous, upbeat R&B and soul of The Family Stone’s earlier breakthrough hits (‘Want to Take You Higher’ and Dance to the Music’) – and the joie-de-vivre of Beau Brummels’ ‘Underdog’, The French Fries’ own ‘Danse a la Musique’ and Sly’s cover of The Kinks’ ‘You Really Got Me’ are infectious and irresistible.

The Paleo’s access to master tapes sees studio banter included on many of these cuts, adding further insight into the fertile, creative and vital period for Sly Stone at the height of his popularity and burgeoning production prowess.

Another, more recent release I’m Just Like You: Sly Stone’s Stone Flower 1969-70 is a more focused look at productions specific to his Stone Flower label, and cuts which more directly point to the iconoclastic minimalism of Riot. Many tracks appear on both compilations and each release is great, though the former offers more surprises and a broader palette, while the latter is also available on vinyl.

The next album I want to buy…

Shayne P. Carter – Offsider

a2976649321_10I can’t wait for Shayne Carter’s new piano-driven album Offsider. In fact I’ve been looking forward to it since I heard about it from Carter’s drummer Gary Sullivan (JPSE, Dimmer) some years ago. So it’s been sometime in the making and on the strength of the first two singles (available to hear at shaynepcarter.bandcamp.com) it’s going to be a cracker!

I’m a fan of Carter from across his career (Double Happys, Straitjacket Fits, Dimmer and solo), and this change of angle in his decision to learn, write and perform on piano promises intriguing new musical possibilities from a true, original and uncompromising composer and writer (and also intrigues and resonates with me in terms of my own, more recent, piano-based approach to writing and performing with Show Me Where It Hurts).

Apocalyptic first single, ‘We Will Rise Again’ is as tense as can be in its foreboding waltz-time verses, and almost overwhelming free-time, feedback- and string-drenched refrains, which it dissolves into repeatedly.

There’s no easing of the tension in second single, ‘I Know Not Where I Stand’ either, where strings, synths and Carter’s strident yet delicate piano line marches in lock step with Sullivan’s four-on-the-floor, bass-drum driven groove, which is punctuated by an ever growing crescendo of driving, swinging brush-strokes predominant on the snare, and Carter’s own anxiety ridden vocals, cushioned occasionally in chorused harmony with himself.