SONIC KICKS | BAD DREEMS

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Bad Dreems are one of the essential bands emerging out of the growing Adelaide scene with their lo-fi, melody-rich guitar songs. 2012 was a big year that saw them release the brilliant single Chills and before dropping Tomorrow Mountain with its darker and moodier undercurrent and the infectiously melancholic Too Old. We caught up with guitarist Alex Cameron to find out some of the albums that shaped his musical life so far.

 

The first album I bought – Nirvana | From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah

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The cool high school kids were either into Guns ‘N Roses or Nirvana. I took a punt and bought this because the ones that were into Nirvana seemed cooler. It was a good punt I guess. This is still my favourite Nirvana album. A lot of their studio recordings don’t really float my boat. I prefer the US punk bands that preceded them like Black Flag, The Minutemen and other SST bands, The Replacements and Husker Du.

 

The album that soundtracked a relationship – Bob Dylan | Blood On The Tracks

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If ever I feel down about this type of thing I always listen to this album. It has a song for every sort of broken heart. I think it is the Dylan album that offers the best glimpse behind the shades. Hard to pick favourites but I love Shelter From the Storm, If You See Her Say Hello and Idiot Wind – “You’re an idiot babe, it’s a wonder that you still know how to breathe”

 

The album that inspired me to form a band – Scott and Charlene’s Wedding | Para Vista Social Club 

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I moved back to Adelaide from Melbourne after 7 years. All my old friends had gone and I spent a long summer working in a hospital in an outer suburb, on the way to Snowtown. Sort of near Para Vista actually. I bought this album and listened to it ever morning and night on the drive there and back. It’s honest and unpretentious but really powerful songwriting and anyone that’s lived in Melbourne with little money and big hopes can relate to the subject matter. It reminded me of what I really liked about music so I found some new friends and we started a band. We did our first recordings with Jack Farley who recorded Para Vista Social Club along with heaps of amazing records out of Melbourne over the past few years. He’s best pals with Craig Dermody and they used to live in his warehouse together. Jack has big hands and a big heart.

 

The album that reminds you of my high school years – Patti Smith | Horses

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I was lucky to inherit my parents’ record collection as I got more and more into music. It got me into stuff like MC5, The Rolling Stones, Roxy Music and Tom Waits – and so all this music still reminds me of that time. The album that I probably played the most was Horses – I couldn’t believe that my dad was ever into anything so cool!

 

The album I’d love to hear live and played in full – Sea Scouts | Beacon of Hope

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I love the aura that surrounds this band. Despite their relative obscurity, everyone who knows them holds them in such high regard. Bird Blobs were also great, as well as Degreaser. As much as I would have liked to watch Sea Scouts I’m sure that the legacy is best kept alive by the recordings and grainy super 8 footage. My friend Darren Cross toured with Sea Scouts and he has awesome stories about Tim Evans’ homemade guitar and the amps that he made out of cardboard boxes to take on tour.

 

My favourite album cover art – Roxy Music | Country Life

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Another album from my parents’ collection. This appealed to me as a 15 year old (and still does) for obvious reasons.

 

My guilty pleasure album – Bruce Springsteen | Born To Run

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The screen door slams, Mary’s dress waves, the magic rat, wrap your legs round these velvet rims, a real death waltz, show a little faith there’s magic in the night. It’s a town full of losers and i’m pulling out of here to win. THE BOSS!!

 

An album I loved but now have no idea why I bought it – Dylan & The Dead

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For completists only.

 

The last album I bought – Blank Realm | Go Easy – Woollen Kits | Four GirlsThe Mark of Cain | Songs of the Third and Fifth

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There is so much good music being put out on Australian independent labels like RIP Society, Bedroom Suck, Negative Guestlist and Chapter. Blank Realm’s album is awesome psych-pop with Berlin-era Bowie, Flying Nun and Fleetwood Mac influences. Woollen Kits write amazing garage guitar pop songs. I saw them supporting Home Blitz last year in Melbourne and they stole the show. The Mark of Cain are our heroes from Adelaide. Their new album is awesome. Mathematical outsider rage.

 

 

NEWS: Patti Smith to release new album ‘Banga’

On June 5th Patti Smith will release her eleventh studio album Banga via Columbia Records. The album is preceded by the sweetly swinging single April Fool featuring Tom Verlaine (Television) on guitar.

Inspired by Smith’s unique dreams and observations, Banga’s poetic lyrics are a reflection of our complex world a world that is rife with chaos and beauty. Praised for her storytelling abilities, Smith has crafted an album that captures a wide range of human experience. There is an exploratory spirit in the songs that make up Banga, including a melodic overture imagining the voyage of Amerigo Vespucci to the New World in 1497 (“Amerigo”), a rock song for the people of Japan in the wake of last years earthquake (“Fuji-san”), a classic ballad in memory of Amy Winehouse (“This Is The Girl”), an improvised meditation on art and nature (“Constantine’s Dream”) as well as a birthday song written for her friend Johnny Depp (“Nine”).

Banga was recorded at Electric Lady Studios in New York City and produced by Patti Smith and her band: Tony Shanahan, Jay Dee Daugherty and her long-time collaborator Lenny Kaye.

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