LIVE REVIEW: Dinosaur Jr, Redd Kross, Royal Headache @ The Hi-Fi, Sydney 16/03/13

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by Chris Familton

Royal Headache have scored a few international supports but this was the best fit by far as their melodic, hardcore inspired brand of music shares many traits with the night’s headliners. Their sound translated well to a larger stage and venue and the crowd response was enthusiastic. They dispatched each song with their usual taut rush and energy, deciding on the spot what they would play next and mixing things up between the now well trodden Honey Joy, Down the Lane and Psychotic Episode and newer tracks that suggest their sophomore album should be as good as their excellent debut.

Redd Kross were the odd ones out on the bill as they took showmanship to a new place with high kicks, pouting and preening stage moves and a real sense of genuine fun. They showcased a clutch of songs from the recent album Researching The Blues including the title track, single Stay Away From Downtown and Uglier with the McDonald brothers showing just how to marry garage rock, Kiss-styled glam rock and chiming Beatles-esque power pop harmonies. The biggest cheers came for the classic Jimmy’s Fantasy and the gonzo epic rock of set closer Crazy World. Redd Kross know how to entertain and they play the cliche game to the hilt but musically it is hard to resist.

Dinosaur Jr have toured here a bunch of times and you always know exactly what you’ll get from J Mascis, Lou Barlow and Murph. As per the script they gave us the highlights of the new record (Watch The Corners, Rude, Don’t Pretend You Didn’t Know) and some of their landmark moments from their extensive back catalogue. Sonically Mascis’ guitar sounded superb from the opening fuzz drenched chord but at times the mix seemed to drop away when he stepped back into one of his trademark solos leaving a gap in the middle of the sound. It was only a minor distraction though as the crowed lapped up perennial favourites like The Wagon, Out There, Feel The Pain, Just Like Heaven and Freak Scene. They even ventured back 31 years to play a song from Mascis and Barlow’s first band Deep Wound. It wasn’t their most thrillingly visceral show we’ve seen but Dinosaur Jr showed they remain an essential and relevant band, unique in the way the combine melody, energy and noise.

this review was first published in The Drum Media / themusic.com.au

LIVE REVIEW: The Men, Royal Headache @ Goodgod Small Club, Sydney (30/01/13)

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by Chris Familton

Things kicked off with the fantastically named Raw Prawn. A band that sounded as uncooked and naive as their moniker suggests. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing as the band played a set that balanced precariously between authentic 70s UK punk and lo-fi primitive glam rock. It all sounded like it could fall apart at any point. Songs like None Left hit the urgent pound and strum of The Velvet Underground if they’d grown up in the inner west of Sydney and never learnt to play outside a few chords and a backbeat. It was a set that was both amusing and refreshing, like a palate cleanser to remind you how good simple music can be.

Royal Headache looked to be up for it from the moment they stepped on the Goodgod stage. Jokes and barbs were bandied about before they kicked into what Shogun called a jam but sounded like a great fully formed new song. As players the band locked in like the best power pop trios (The Jam) and created that signature bristling surge of sound that allowed Shogun to cut loose with that voice of his. On a good night, and this was one of their best, Shogun doesn’t just prowl the stage, he bounces around, stares daggers into the front row and sings those suburban love songs with real passion and that throat shredding soul howl. They are bone fide hometown heroes which set a high standard for The Men to follow.

From the opening barrage of guitars and drums that is their new single Electric, The Men were ferocious in the manner in which they approached their songs. Bassist Ben Greenberg was a flailing, thrashing blur making it hard to believe he was actually nailing the notes on his bass as efficiently as he was. By the end of the second song drummer Rich Samis looked totally spent yet he seemed to play faster and with more energy the longer they played. His krautrock precision was essential to grounding the sonic malaise that was churning and exploding around him.

Turn It Around was aired early and sounded as anthemic as its recorded version while the addition of harmonica on a couple of tracks and the airing of Candy with its Dylan playing with The Clean vibe, showed they are partial to some country rock that bizarrely didn’t sound at all out of place amid the frantic punk and psych rock sound of most of their set. The physicality and exuberance of The Men had that ‘leave nothing behind’ feel and as a result felt like you were hearing and watching a band that believed in themselves and their music 100% and played right to their limits. It was visceral music and mid week in a humid concrete basement in Sydney felt like the perfect location to be pummeled by the sound of The Men.

this review was first published on FasterLouder

NEWS: The line-up for Meredith Music Festival 2012

The first list of acts performing at this year’s Meredith Music Festival in Victoria has been announced and as usual it looks to be a great mix of electronic, psychedelia, rock and hip hop. Check out our Rdio playlist featuring bands appearing at the event that takes place from December 7-9th.

There is a ballot happening so if you want to increase your chance of being allocated a ticket you need to head to www.mmf.com.au before 10pm Tuesday 21 August. Round One has been drawn and results hit inboxes Wednesday 15 August. Round Two results out Thursday 23 August.

 

LIVE REVIEW: Dig It Up!: The Hoodoo Gurus Invitational @ Enmore, Sydney (22/04/12)

by Chris Familton

Artist curated events like this have been extremely popular overseas in recent years, primarily due to the success of All Tomorrow’s Parties. Unfortunately here in Australia similar festivals have been few and far between with the most notable being the 2009 ATP shows in the hands of Nick Cave. The Hoodoo Gurus have sought to rectify the situation with Dig It Up! – a celebration in style marking their 30th anniversary with some of their favourite bands.

With the Enmore Theatre as the centrepiece bands also played the smaller stages at Notes Live and the Sly Fox with the more intimate Green Room Lounge hosting DJs and comedy. Kudos must go to the organisers under the all seeing eye of Tim Pittman as it was an exceptionally well planned event. Queues were minimal and using a city venue(s) with existing facilities meant that there were bars, eateries and toilets aplenty.

Hard-Ons

Kicking off proceedings were Hard-Ons, still shirtless and shredding guitar strings and drum sticks as they have done for the past 30 years. Surprisingly this was the first time they’d played the Enmore Theatre and even though the crowd was still rolling in at the start of the day they played like it was Saturday night at the Sando. Blackie was a blur of hair and fingers as he threw out his best rock moves while the rhythm section laid waste with their pummeling mix of metal, punk and hardcore that made for a nice palette cleanser to start the festival.

Straight Arrows

At Notes Live, Straight Arrows christened the PA with one of their tightest sets in recent memory. Touring has honed them into that kind of band that can sound effortlessly locked in with each other, creating that illusion of controlled chaos as Owen Penglis and Alex Grigg lurched and thrashed around the stage sharing vocals and garage rock riffs. From the tripped out bass groove of Haunted Out to the all out effervescent chant of Bad Temper, Straight Arrows proved to be one of the highlights of the day.

The Fleshtones have been around since the 70s and have obviously honed their craft with exceptional attention to detail. There were choreographed spins, guitar dips and regular crowd visits and while they sounded great and were somewhat endearing their shtick wore thin pretty quickly. There seemed to be little impromptu rock n roll action amid their glam power pop set but the crowd lapped it up as the band exited the venue through the crowd and the foyer.

The Lovetones

Local psych pop exponents The Lovetones and Belles Will Ring share some similarities in sound and band members yet they are traveling on different musical tangents. Matt Tow’s Lovetones took things into a more ethereal and dreamy headspace with his 12 string electric and some wonderfully ‘lose yourself’ song arrangements. Belles Will Ring on the other hand have mastered a unique take on dark psych pop complete with flute and trumpet. Their sound was enhanced by the great mix at Notes and they were one of the most rhythmic and pop heady acts of the day.

Undoubtedly the most anticipated (and worst kept ‘secret’) of the day was the reunion of The Sunnyboys (under the pseudonym Kids in Dust) in their first live show since the Mushroom 25 Concert in 1998. There was quite the communal feeling in the theatre as Jeremy Oxley and the original lineup of the band took to the stage and transported the crowd back to their youthful days sweating it out at venues like the Trade Union Club. There were tears, there were arms in the air and around mates shoulders as the band knocked out all the classics like the seminal Love to Rule, What You Need, Happy Man, Show Me Some Discipline and Alone With You. After a slightly nervous start any doubts about whether they would still sound good were alleviated. Oxley’s vocals were as strong as ever, the guitar lines sounded clean and sharp and the rhythm section still kept things concise and punchy.  The band seemed to having a blast with family watching from the wings and an audience giving them an overwhelming ovation as they left the stage.

The tougher end of the musical spectrum was strongly represented by Tek & Younger playing a muscular set of the highlights from their shared careers. New Race was fast and bruising and though it lacked the full band punch of Radio Birdman the sounded tough and menacing with Rob Younger showing just the right amount of disdain and snarl that has made him one of the greatest frontmen to come from these shores.

Redd Kross

Redd Kross last toured Australia in 1994 with Hoodoo Gurus so it was fitting that they return to play with the same hosts. Still looking like they hadn’t aged in 18 years the McDonald brothers and band played the tightest set of the day with songs like Switchblade Sister and Lady in the Front Row and Jimmy’s Fantasy from their classic Phaseshifter LP alongside songs from their forthcoming new album. Their drummer was highly entertaining with his stick tosses into the Enmore rafters and a catch and drop ratio that got better as the set progressed. Redd Kross mixed power pop with camp garage rock n roll perfectly and stood out as a strong crowd favourite from the response of the punters.

A quick dash back to Notes Live to catch the end of Royal Headache’s set and a characteristically frenetic one at that. Shogun was bounding and pacing like a caged animal while the band studiously built a frantic wall of guitars and drums around him. The soul element of Shogun’s voice is what makes their sound unique, highlighted by their closing version of Womack & Womack’s Teardrops which is quickly becoming a crowd favourite.

Another time slot, another seminal Australian act, this time it was Died Pretty fronted by the enigmatic Ron Peno who makes for compulsive viewing with his gyrations, mime-like gestures and crotch grabs. The man is a weird amalgam of Iggy Pop, Mick Jagger and Roger Daltrey yet his voice has its own singular identity. The band was made up of their definitive line-up with Brett Myers’ guitar a particular standout on tracks like the anthemic Sweetheart. Died Pretty continued the theme of the day that bands may split up and go their separate ways but it takes the individual identities of those bands to really make the original songs come back to life again.

The Sonics

One of those bands that surprised many by re-emerging from the past in recent years is The Sonics. Their peak was in the mid 60s but 45 years later they showed they can still deliver some searing rock n roll and garage rock with shared vocals from the Bon Scott-like bassist Freddie Dennis and keyboardist Gerry Roslie. Their set was padded out with a few classic covers like Louie Louie and Have Love, Will Travel but they really hit their stride with the closing trio of hits Strychnine, Psycho and The Witch. Not many acts can do that.

It was left to our venerable hosts the Hoodoo Gurus to close out the night with a full run-through of their first album Stoneage Romeos flanked by inflatable palm trees and with a blow-up Tyrannosaurus Rex looking over drummer Mark Kingsmill’s shoulder. Leilani, Dig It Up, My Girl and I Was A Kamikaze Pilot all sounded fantastic and even though they returned to the stage for a bunch of their other hits it was the Stoneage Romeo section of their set that was the most rewarding. Like Wow Wipeout and Bittersweet sounded like permanently ingrained alternative national anthems as the band left the stage grinning in the knowledge they’d been able to indulge in their own musical passions, play with some of their heroes and and give the crowd a thoroughly rewarding day of rock n roll both old and new. People were calling for them to do it again next year but special events like this are best left as one off moments enabling those that were in attendance to say “I was there…”.

this review was first published on FasterLouder

NEWS: Hoodoo Gurus curate their own 30th Anniversary parties…

Hoodoo Gurus have decided to celebrate their 30 years together in fine style with a run of shows across Australia featuring some impressive acts and a best of compilation titled Gold Watch: 20 Golden Greats. The Sydney show in particular will be a blast with Hoodoo Gurus performing Stoneage Romeos in its entirety (plus other smash hits) + The Sonics, Died Pretty, Redd Kross, the 5.6.7.8’s, Tek & Younger (ex-Radio Birdman), The Fleshtones, Hard-Ons, Belles Will Ring, Royal Headache, The Lovetones and The Straight Arrows.

Tour Details

Friday April 20th – The Tivoli Brisbane QLD

Featuring Hoodoo Gurus, performing Stoneage Romeos in its entirety (plus other smash hits), The Sonics (USA) & The 5.6.7.8’s (Japan).

52 Costin St Fortitude Valley

Tickets from http://www.ticketek.com.au, feelpresents. oztix.com.au, ph: 132 849 or in person at all Ticketek and Oztix outlets (including Rockinghorse Records)

Doors open 7.30pm

Sunday April 22nd – Enmore Theatre, Notes Live and The Green Room Sydney NSW

Featuring Hoodoo Gurus, performing Stoneage Romeos in its entirety (plus other smash hits) + The Sonics (USA), Died Pretty Redd Kross (USA), the 5.6.7.8’s (Japan), Tek & Younger (ex-Radio Birdman), The Fleshtones (USA), Hard-Ons, Belles Will Ring, Royal Headache, The Lovetones, The Straight Arrows; plus alternative comedy, spoken word, guest DJ’s with more acts to follow.

Three venues all within one minutes walk of each other on Enmore Rd, Enmore. Take advantage of all days pass outs, a street full of quality food and restricted capacity. All events held indoors. No fear of sunburn here!

Tickets from http://www.ticketek.com.au, feelpresents.oztix.com.au, ph: 9550 3666 or in person at the venue box office and all Ticketek outlets

Doors open 1.00pm

Tuesday April 24th – HQ Adelaide SA

Featuring Hoodoo Gurus, performing Stoneage Romeos in its entirety (plus other smash hits), and The Sonics (USA)

1 North Tce Adelaide

Tickets from http://www.venuetix.com.au, feelpresents.oztix.com.au, phone (08) 8225 8888 or in person at any VenueTix or Oztix outlet.

Doors open 8.00pm

Wednesday April 25th – The Palace Melbourne VIC

(Anzac Day) Featuring Hoodoo Gurus performing Stoneage Romeos in its entirety (plus other smash hits) + The Sonics (USA), Died Pretty, Redd Kross (USA), the 5.6.7.8’s (Japan), The Fleshtones (USA), Hard-Ons, The Lovetones and more acts to follow.

20- 30 Bourke St Melbourne

Twelve bands across two stages Take advantage of all days pass outs, a street full of quality food and restricted capacity. No fear of sunburn here!

Tickets from http://www.ticketek.com.au, feelpresents.oztix.com.au, ph: 132 849 or in person at all Ticketek and Oztix outlets (including Greville & Polyester Records)

Doors open 1.00pm

Saturday April 28th – The Astor  Theatre Perth WA

Featuring Hoodoo Gurus, performing Stoneage Romeos in its entirety (plus other smash hits), Redd Kross (USA) & The Fleshtones (USA)

659 Beaufort St Mt Lawley

Tickets from http://www.bocsticketing.com.au, feelpresents, oztix.com.au, phone (08) 9484 1133 or in person at all BOCS and Oztix outlets (including 78 Records)

Doors open 7.30pm

Favourite Songs of 2011

So many people are starting to base their listening on songs these days, such is the reduction in attention spans, the proliferation of YouTube browsing and the ease of compiling ones own playlists featuring the best stuff you want to hear. Separate to my Top 50 LPs of 2011 I’ve also put together a list of songs that caught my ears and became hard to shake. There were of course dozens of others that could be included here but this is a lucky dip of sorts into some of my favourite tunes of 2011 that might lead you further into the artist’s work if you havent checked them out yet…

In no particular order as they are all great…

Dick Diver – On The Bank

Those Darlins – Screw Get Loose

J. Mascis – Not Enough

Total Control – One More Tonight

Light Asylum – Dark Allies

The Strokes – Under Cover of Darkness

Iron & Wine – Tree By a River

Timber Timbre – Bad Ritual

Little Dragon – Ritual Union

Wilco – I Might

Two Tears – Eat People

The Pains of Being Pure At Heart – Belong

Iowa – Complete Control

The Laurels – Black Cathedral

The Adults – Nothing To Lose

Austra – Lose It

Atlas Sound – Te Amo

Twerps – Dreamin

Royal Headache – Really In Love

Melodie Nelson – Waiting

Black Lips – Spidey’s Curse

Crystal Stilts – Shake The Shackles

Jamie XX – Far Nearer

The Felice Brothers – Ponzi

The Paper Scissors – Lung Sum

Robag Wruhme – Thora Vukk

Wavves – I Wanna Meet Dave Grohl

Wild Flag – Romance

Leader Cheetah – Crawling Up A Landslide

DS Top 50 LPs of 2011

2011 has been another massive year for music, at least it feels that way. Invariably the availability and access to recorded music is easier and greater than ever with streaming and file sharing available at the click of a button. Each year I seem to increase the size of my list, purely as a result of the volume of stuff I get to hear. The more I hear, the more I like which is a good thing but it makes year end lists a real brow furrowing exercise – painful but fun for a music obsessive such as some of us are.

This year threw up some new albums from favourites of recent years like Girls, Wild Beasts and Wooden Shjips  – all groups that seem to be refining and improving their music with each album they release. I’ve also been listening to a lot more electronic music reflected by appearances from The Field, Robag Wruhme, Gui Boratto and Zomby. Check out our list over at Komputer Music for more great electronic releases. I’ll also be publishing a list in the coming days of some of my favourite songs from 2011. To the list…

Pure X – Pleasure [Review]

Girls – Father, Son, Holy Ghost

Wild Beasts – Smother

Kurt Vile – Smoke Rings for My Halo

Destroyer – Kaputt [Review]

Wooden Shjips – West [Review]

Gillian Welch – The Harrow & The Harvest [Review]

The Felice Brothers – Celebration, Florida [Review]
Wilco – The Whole Love

Royal Headache – Royal Headache [Review]

Leader Cheetah – Lotus Skies [Review]

J. Mascis – Several Shades Of Why [Review]

Okkervil River – I Am Very Far

Zomby – Dedication

The Field – Looping State of Mind

The Low Anthem – Smart Flesh

Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues

The Field – Looping State of Mind

Bill Callahan – Apocalypse

Melodie Nelson – Meditations on the Sun [Review]

Zola Jesus – Conatus [Review]

Tom Waits – Bad As Me

The Black Keys – Camino

Iron & Wine – Kiss Each Other Clean

Gui Boratto – III

Dick Diver – New Start Again [Review]

Nils Frahm – Felt

Radiohead – The King of Limbs

Real Estate – Days

The Horrors – Skying

Thurston Moore – Demolished Thoughts

Neil Young – A Treasure

Robag Wruhme – Thora Vukk

Jack Ladder – Hurtsville [Review]

Step-Panther – Step-Panther [Review]

James Blake – James Blake

Twerps – Twerps [Review]

Austra – Feel It Break [Review]

Eleanor Friedberger- Last Summer

The Bats – Free All The Monsters

Those Darlins – Screws Get Loose [Review]

Ryan Adams – Ashes & Fire

British Sea Power – Valhalla Dancehall [Review]

Mogwai – Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will

Black Lips – Arabia Mountain

Tiny Ruins – Some Were Meant For Sea [Review]

Anna Calvi – Anna Calvi [Review]

PJ Harvey – Let England Shake

Bon Iver – Bon Iver

The Necks – Mindset