LIVE REVIEW: Infinity Broke @ Goodgod Small Club, Sydney (12/12/14)

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Sounds Like Sunset have been a staple on the Sydney scene since the late 90s and like all good things they seem to just get better and better with age. Tonight they had a new bass player on board who slotted in nicely with their indie rock wall of sound. Minor amp/pedal issues threatened to disrupt the set but thankfully they abated and the songs, particularly those from the new album, cascaded gloriously out of the subterranean club’s speakers. They’ve nearly perfected the marriage of loud, droning, chiming guitars – the crunchier end of shoegaze – topped off with Dave Challinor’s beatific sleepy vocals and it made for an immersive opening set.

IMG_0394This was to be the last appearance of Jared Harrison behind the drum kit for Infinity Broke, a real shame as on tonight’s showing they are a band right at the peak of their powers. A year of shows has fine-tuned their live set, the songs flowed effortlessly and there was a near telepathic coherence to the quartet’s playing. There was also a wider spectrum to their sound than previous shows. The space was amplified when necessary and the noisier peaks were more visceral and intense than ever. The focus was on this year’s River Mirror album with a sneak preview of next year’s release Before Before with a song that sounded like an adrenalised Gangsterland (Bluebottle Kiss) at peak desperation point. Of the album tracks the epic Termites and the album centrepiece Monsoon were highlights. On the latter bassist Rueben Wills maintained the same riff for nearly ten minutes while Jamie Hutchings coaxed a plethora of sounds from his guitar like Thurston Moore covering Neil Young’s Like A Hurricane in Dusseldorf. The twin percussive approach of Harrison and Scott Hutchings gave the band a mechanical, sometimes Krautrock backbone giving the whole set a hypnotic quality with the beautiful contrasts of rhythmic precision and guitar deconstruction. Taking an excellent album and presenting it live with the level of conviction the band showed is testament to Hutchings’ two decades of restless musical creativity.

Chris Familton

LIVE REVIEW: Twerps @ Goodgod Small Club, Sydney (11/08/12)

by Chris Familton

Jonny Telafone kicked things off with his kid on overload performance that rivals Donny Benet for its tongue in cheek pastiche, kitchen sink electro and synth pop cheesiness. There is no doubt that Telafone is a great performer even if he is just singing over Suicide-tinged backing tracks from his laptop but with song titles like Make Your Pussy Cum and his exaggerated gyrations and gestures it is hard to keep a straight face. You’d think this would have a limited shelf life but Telafone has been at it for a few years now and ultimately it is highly entertaining stuff.

Songs have been settled in their new line-up for a while now and with bassist Ela Stiles contributing more to the songwriting their sound has continued to shape-shift and incorporate different styles. Most of the songs they played have been written post the release of their debut album and show an increased focus on rhythm and groove. The jangly guitar of their earlier work has been absorbed into the more muscular framework of the newer material with the one constant still being the insistent krautrock repetition that permeates much of their sound. The balance between the sweet vocals of Stiles and Max Doyle’s higher pitched, vowel-chewing style is now finely balanced with both filling the role of front-person. Sonically they had it on a string, grinding a groove deep into the ears of the audience before spraying discordant noise across the music and then reining it all back in with choreographed precision. Songs continue to evolve, expand and refine their art and hopefully they’ll grace us with that second album sooner rather than later.

Twerps are one of the most unassuming bands around both visually and in terms of their familiar and reassuring jangly guitar pop. They appeared on stage and seamlessly transformed their setup/soundcheck into their set proper. The sell-out audience rewarded the quartet for their stellar last twelve months with exuberant applause and crowded in close around the front and side of the stage making the performance feel even more intimate and communal. We got most of the album plus a new track that sounded instantly the match of even the strongest songs they’ve released to date.

The unassuming nature of Twerps extends to the subject matter of their songs that take in love, boredom, dreams and the everyday concerns of living and live they nail that laconic melancholia as effortlessly as they do on their recordings. Martin Frawley sings nearly all the songs but when guitarist Julia McFarlane steps up to take lead vocal on excellent This Guy it opens up their sound immensely and it is a shame her voice isn’t used more extensively. Frawley’s voice is an exposed and often fragile instrument on stage but it works perfectly with their sound. They always seemed to be playing just behind the beat giving the songs that worn and gloriously lazy sound. Who Are You drifted along gorgeously, generating head swaying aplenty while Coast To Coast amplified the debt they owe to the best of the Flying Nun Records stable. The defining moment came with the and its sun-dazed psychedelia of Dreamin and bassist Rick Milovanovic’s reliably solid, melodic playing.

Twerps departed the Goodgod stage with as little fuss as they arrived and it felt right that there was no encore. This is a band who played their set, entertained the audience and by the look of it got a lot of quiet satisfaction from playing their wonderfully wandering tunes.

this review was first published on Fasterlouder 

LIVE REVIEW: Xiu Xiu @ Goodgod Small Club, Sydney (17/10/12)

by Chris Familton

With some mildly unnervingly field recordings serenading Goodgod’s spinning mirror balls Rites Wild took the floor and proceeded to weave some intoxicating, pulsing electronic kosmiche tracks that sounded like the soundtrack to a dystopian analog future. Her long and spacious tracks delivered immersive and engaging results with some wonderful synth lines dancing and droning over pseudo-industrial rhythms. Stacey Wilson’s vocals have a distant, droning quality that perfectly complement her compositions.

There was barely time to recalibrate one’s ears before Melbourne-based Absolute Boys upped instruments and delivered an excellent set of polymorphic, post-punk imbued pop music. This was my first introduction to the trio and they were quite the revelation with inventive bass playing that was both intelligent in its poise and delivery and primal in it’s sonic impact. Their drummer refused to follow convention, playing with one stick, no crash cymbals and using various other percussive instruments while the guitarist coaxed soft billowing textures and slashing shards of echoing noise almost simultaneously. Heavily indebted to PiL, dub, post rock and pop music of the type Wild Beasts trade in, Absolute Boys were captivating.

By the time Jamie Stewart (Xiu Xiu) took the stage the crowd had grown but was still no more than 100 people. They made up for their lack of numbers by crowding in close on all sides of the stage, creating a womb-like and welcoming performance space for Stewart and his percussive partner Angela Seo. Amid a sea of pedals, synths, slingshots, guitar and drums the duo played a set best described as avant-garde in its delivery. At the centre of Stewarts music lies a sense of catharsis and expunging of demons and obsessions. His ability to switch from twinkling, delicate musical passages to blood curdling intensity (I Luv Abortion) was impressive and dramatic and showed the necessity of balance in his music to avoid overkill of either extreme. Seo’s playing across a range of percussive instruments was essential and added many subtle layers to the duos sound. Though Xiu Xiu have shifted from a guitar-based approach to a more eclectic and detailed form it was still Stewart’s intensity that drove the music but also gave the show a sense of detachment. The world of Xiu Xiu is fascinating to observe but not one you would want to be part of.

An edited version of this review was published in Drum Media

PHOTOS: Deep Sea Arcade Album Release Party (Media) @ Goodgod Small Club, Sydney (07/03/12)

Deep Sea Arcade proudly launched their brand spanking new album Outlands this evening in Sydney to an invited assemblage of media people. The band played a brief set highlighting the magic combination of pop nous, melodic hooks and swaggering beat bravado that they’ve proven over recent years on stage and with the singles they’ve released.

photo: Ernest Fratczak
photo: Chris Familton
photo: Chris Familton
photo: Chris Familton

 

 

 

 

LIVE REVIEW: Jack Ladder &The Dreamlanders @ Goodgod Small Club, Sydney (13/05/11)

written by Chris Familton

photo by Chris Familton

This was an evening set to complete the circle of reinvention for Jack Ladder. With a new album Hurtsville just round the corner Ladder was here to show that the soul and blues of Love is Gone has indeed gone and in its place a starker and more beautifully brittle sound is soundtracking his songs.

Melodie Nelson performed an engaging yet somewhat tentative set that had sporadic flashes of greatness. Her sound is built around the atmosphere of the music and is achieved via drones, funereal pacing and repetition. Reminiscent at times of Beach House, Mazzy Star and Velvet Underground there was a standout moment with a song that may or may not be called Charlie. With it the pace quickened and a garage guitar riff hooked many punter’s heads and ears.

By the time Ladder and cohorts downed shots and arrived on stage the cosy Goodgod Small Club was near capacity, eager to hear Ladder’s next musical chapter. Pretty much the whole new album was played and not a single track from Love Is Gone. Ladder’s ‘new’ sound has two defining aspects – one is his lack of guitar playing which allowed him to focus his energies on his vocal delivery and emotiveness. The other is guitar sidekick Kirin J. Callinan who seems most responsible for the current sound. Ocean-deep splashes of reverb, chiming notes with chorus shimmers and tremolo shivers washed over everything while still allowing acres of space in the music. Hurtsville’s beautiful title track sounded like a lost John Hughes soundtrack re-imagined by David Lynch with the melancholy turned up to eleven. The heart melting sounds seem to have emboldened Ladder to give himself over to the performance of his songs almost completely making his deep baritone voice totally believable.

While the low ceilings, and high volume of the venue meant the new songs didn’t have the impact and drama of the versions on Hurtsville there were still enough convincing moments to convey the greatness of them. The music snaked and staggered between the Nick Cave-esque ballad Blinded By Love,  the super-catchy Cold Feet and the cabaret spook of Position Vacant with the shadow of Tom Waits dancing madly in the background. As a showcase for an imminent new album the crowd seemed to embrace the songs wholeheartedly making it a successful night all round.

this review first appeared in Drum Media, Sydney

for more photos from the show check out our Flickr page