Tag: brisbane

MUSIC REVIEW | The Go-Betweens – 16 Lovers Lane (1988)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “What they lacked in vocal range was always more than made up for in sincerity.”

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I like to think of myself as a serious music fan.  I try to consume as much as possible, I try to make sure I catch up on classics form before my time, even when I’m pretty sure it’s a band, artist or genre I won’t like.  Which makes it shameful that as a wannabe serious music fan from Queensland, Australia, I haven’t heard nearly enough of one of the area’s most revered bands, The Go-Betweens.  I own an album or two that I really like, I know the hits, and I know I should be a whole lot more familiar than I am.  Which is why I listened to the swansong of their original 80s era, 16 Lovers Lane.

Turning their standard acoustic, melodious rock seamlessly into flamenco passion, the impeccable song writing of the Grant McLennan and Robert Forster is on immediate display with Love Goes On!  Then the 80s vintage of the record is impossible to ignore on Quiet Heart.  It was a time when producers could make even centuries old instruments sound digitally artificial.  It’s a beautiful song, the production just does its best to strip it of all genuine beauty and feeling. (more…)

MUSIC REVIEW | Regurgitator – Love and Paranoia (2007)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “A great album that can stand tall against anything else in the ‘Gurge catalogue.”

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Charting Regurgitator’s discography to this point, Tu-Plang was the audacious debut.  Three young dudes who didn’t know the rules they were breaking with their punk, hip hop, alt, indie audacity.  Unit was a massive risk, giving us an 80s pop album with a 90s alternative twist none of us knew we wanted.  …art and Eduardo and Rodriguez Wage War on T-Wrecks was a band with experience and confidence, and a sound that we were all now familiar with.  Mish Mash was a mid life crisis gimmick that holds up a lot better today than its gimmicky origins should let it.

Now, we get to Love and Paranoia, when Regurgitator became elder statesman of alt-Oz rock.  The kind of band with enough years and records behind them that have earned so much good will with me, all I need is a new album every few years that might not blow me away, but makes me happy that they’re still making music. (more…)

MUSIC REVIEW | Regurgitator – Mish Mash (2004)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “The thing I liked most was how well it holds up when totally detached from the gimmick of its production.”

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Regurgitator released their first four albums in just five years.  And while the musical styles and inspirations may have swung wildly all over the place, the results were always unmistakably Regurgitator.  Almost like what Quentin Tarantino is to movies, Quan Yeomans and Ben Ely are expert appropriators who know who to steal from and how to use those thefts to create something undeniably their own.

By 2004, it was by far the longest gap the band had ever had between records.  But they didn’t waste that time off.  Instead, they came up with an idea as brilliant as it was gimmicky.  When Regurgitator decided it was time to go back into the studio, they didn’t go back into the studio at all.  Instead, they become The Band in a Bubble.  A studio was set up in Melbourne’s Federation Square where the band would live and record for several weeks under the scrutiny of thousands of passers by everyday, and Australian music TV channel, Channel V.  The result was Mish Mash. (more…)

MUSIC REVIEW | Regurgitator – Eduardo and Rodriguez Wage War on T-Wrecks (2000)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “A pretty great encapsulation of everything Regurgitator had done up until this point.”

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From what I can tell, original Rugurgitator drummer Martin Lee left sometime during the recording of …art.  He gets credited on a lot of the tracks on that album, but I don’t remember ever seeing him play live with them once the record was out.  Guitarist Quan Yeomons and bass player Ben Ely were always the principal song writers, but my naïve young music listening mind in the year 2000 liked to imagine every band was democratically even symbiosis with each member contributing equally to the sound.

Two things had me a little concerned as a Regurgitator fan when it was time for the next record.  The lead single sounded like a deliberate parody and piss take, and the cover only included Yeomans and Ely.  It wasn’t so much that Lee was gone that had me worried.  What concerned me was that those two had (in my mind) declared themselves Regurgitator, with no need for an equal partner member on the drum stool.  Both concerns are clearly manufactured completely in my own head, based on nothing more than my own assumptions.  But they were strong enough that they all came flooding back today when I sat down to once again listen to Eduardo and Rodriguez Wage War on T-Wrecks for the first time in a long time. (more…)

MUSIC REVIEW | Regurgitator – …art (1999)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “Combines the experimentation and genre bending of their debut, with the more seasoned expertise and confidence of its follow up.”

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Tu-Plang was the brash debut.  Two disparate creative voices, smashing their styles and idiosyncrasies into each other head first, creating a beautiful monster of punk, pop, rock, hip hop and glorious noise that perfectly fit the mould of Aussie alternative rock at the time, while sounding like nothing else out there.  Unit was a perfectly crafted and intricately executed concept, as 80s pop was taken beyond pastiche for a true post modern refresh that was faithful to the old, while creating something totally new.  After such a jarringly different, yet equally effective opening pair, where did Regurgitator go with record number three, …art?

The perfect ear for melody of Quan Yeomans is evident straight away on Happiness.  Displaying his knack for using organic instruments like guitars, sampled and looped in ways that suggest a more modern, computer driven structure, it’s a great example of this band at this time.  Ben Ely then gets gentle and dreamy on Ghost, using a similar combination of organic heart, surrounded by a more modern, electronic skin. (more…)

MUSIC REVIEW | Regurgitator – Unit (1997)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “One of the most seminal Australian albums of the 90s.”

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At the risk of sounding hyperbolic, Regurgitator’s Unit might be one of the most seminal Australian albums of the 90s.  That might seem like I’m getting a little carried away when it comes to a slight, half hour record of what could easily (and lazily) be dismissed as pop pastiche.  But it was a stand out, major moment during an era of major moments for alternative, Australian rock.  Regurgitator had become festival headlining, local favourites thanks to a series of increasingly alt-radio popular EPs, and their first full length record, Tu-Plang.  They could have churned out another set of punky, hip hop infused, experimental rock, and everyone would have been happy.  Instead, they took what was a heavily maligned, easy target genre, and went further than just embracing it.  They became it, while still sounding totally true to themselves, with Unit.

Unloading with both barrels by opening with the Ben Ely penned I Like Your Old Stuff Better Than Your New Stuff, it’s a concern common to every band who’s ever had to release a sophomore album after a well received debut.  But here, Regurgitator didn’t just slightly stray from their expected path.  They did a complete 180 from the sounds of the ­Tu-Plang, and announced it loud and proud with the 80s synth of Old Stuff working as both a declaration of their declaration to do whatever they wanted, and a s middle finger to anyone who wasn’t on board with it. (more…)

MUSIC REVIEW | Regurgitator – Tu-Plang (1996)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “It hasn’t just aged well, it’s remained absolutely timeless with nothing else like it in the years since.”

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To paraphrase Sophia Petrillo, picture it, Brisbane, 1996.  A 15 year old Pete Laurie is excited about going to see the Red Hot Chili Peppers live in support of the unfairly overlooked One Hot Minute.  He’s less excited about their support act, plucky Brisbane locals, Regurgitator.  I’d heard a few of their singles on alternative radio and thought they were a little too clever and a little too cool.  The next day, after that Chili Pepper show, the first thing I did after school was go and buy my new favourite band’s debut LP, Tu-Plang.

Opening track I Sucked A Lot of Cock to Get Where I Am was one of those “too clever and too cool” things that made me sceptical of the ‘Gurge back in the day.  But that scepticism was admittedly formed without ever hearing the actual song, just the title.  Once I actually gave it a chance and it became a gateway into the (singer/guitarist) Quan Yeoman’s take on the world and sense of humour, it became, and has remained, one of the best instances of anti-pop, rock I have ever heard. (more…)

MUSIC REVIEW | Custard – Come Back, All is Forgiven (2015)

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In the 90s, indie, guitar rock dominated Australia’s youth radio station, Triple J. From what I can tell, the Js were similar to what Americans mean when the talk about college radio. It was a time when music festivals were also dominated by guitars, with anything dance, hip hop or electronica put on some niche, out of the way stage. In those years, I must have seen Brisbane’s slacker rock kings Custard at least two dozen times. In a boom time for Aussie alternative music, they were a stand out. Then, around the turn of the millennium, it all turned to shit and they dissolved.


In the years since, front man Dave McCormack has fronted several other bands and popped up as a solo artist. But he’s always remained ‘Dave from Custard’. And over those years, their four or five records in my possession have remained on steady rotation in my life. So when Custard’s first album in 16 years was announced, I was excited. When a small tour to support it was also announced, I was even more excited. I caught their live show, and it was one of those rare occasions when the new songs were just as entertaining as the classics. Which is why I dove head first, with high hopes, into Come Back, All is Forgiven. (more…)

***2015 RECAP*** MUSIC REVIEW | Robert Forster – Songs to Play (2015)

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Growing up in Queensland, and claiming to be a serious music fan, it’s pretty much a prerequisite that I love the Go-Betweens.  They were the Brisbane boys who defied the town’s 80s backwards, redneck reputation by making clever, sensitive music that could be played on mainstream radio, and at parties by pretentious students studying Arts at UQ.  They were a little before my time, and I even missed out on their brief reunion at the turn of the millennium before the death of co-founder Grant McLennan.  But in the years since, I’ve developed a real appreciation for the band, and for the continuing work of surviving co-founder, Robert Forster.  Which is why I was more than just little stoked to hear his latest, Songs to Play.


The guitar jangles and driving bass line don’t sound like the work of a song writer well into middle age, making Learn to Burn a great way for Forster to open an album and let us know straight away that being well into middle age doesn’t mean this is gonna be a record of quiet introspection and melancholic reflection. (more…)

MUSIC REVIEW | Custard – Come Back, All is Forgiven (2015)

Custard 1

In the 90s, indie, guitar rock dominated Australia’s youth radio station, Triple J. From what I can tell, the Js were similar to what Americans mean when the talk about college radio. It was a time when music festivals were also dominated by guitars, with anything dance, hip hop or electronica put on some niche, out of the way stage. In those years, I must have seen Brisbane’s slacker rock kings Custard at least two dozen times. In a boom time for Aussie alternative music, they were a stand out. Then, around the turn of the millennium, it all turned to shit and they dissolved.


In the years since, front man Dave McCormack has fronted several other bands and popped up as a solo artist. But he’s always remained ‘Dave from Custard’. And over those years, their four or five records in my possession have remained on steady rotation in my life. So when Custard’s first album in 16 years was announced, I was excited. When a small tour to support it was also announced, I was even more excited. I caught their live show, and it was one of those rare occasions when the new songs were just as entertaining as the classics. Which is why I dove head first, with high hopes, into Come Back, All is Forgiven. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | ***AUSSIE WEEK 3*** He Died With a Falafel in His Hand (2001)

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“Let’s just get this straight. You’re 20-something years old, you have no job, no money, very few prospescts.”

Whenever a writer writes an obviously semi-autobiographical story about a “writer”, there’s always a very fine line between naval gazing wankfest, and genuinely raw emotion.   “Write what you know” is a very common piece of advice for aspiring writers, but not everyone’s years as young, starving artists lend themselves to compelling stories. But sometimes, those young, starving writers, writing about their young, starving existences, works just right. Sometimes, you get stories like He Died With a Falafel in His Hand.


Danny (Noah Taylor) bitches at housemate Flip (Brett Stewart) for having the TV on too loud in the middle of the night. But it’s not Flip’s fault, because Flip is sitting in front of the TV, dead, with the titular falafel in his titular hand. Flashback to sometime earlier, and Danny and Flip are living in a rundown share house in Brisbane with at least half a dozen other people. The main one being Sam (Emily Hamilton). Between rounds of cane toad golf, bucket bongs and being a frustrated writer, Danny joins his deadbeat housemates in not paying the rent, until their debt catches up with them and it’s time to leave. (more…)

MUSIC REVIEW | Robert Forster – Songs to Play (2015)

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Growing up in Queensland, and claiming to be a serious music fan, it’s pretty much a prerequisite that I love the Go-Betweens.  They were the Brisbane boys who defied the town’s 80s backwards, redneck reputation by making clever, sensitive music that could be played on mainstream radio, and at parties by pretentious students studying Arts at UQ.  They were a little before my time, and I even missed out on their brief reunion at the turn of the millennium before the death of co-founder Grant McLennan.  But in the years since, I’ve developed a real appreciation for the band, and for the continuing work of surviving co-founder, Robert Forster.  Which is why I was more than just little stoked to hear his latest, Songs to Play.


The guitar jangles and driving bass line don’t sound like the work of a song writer well into middle age, making Learn to Burn a great way for Forster to open an album and let us know straight away that being well into middle age doesn’t mean this is gonna be a record of quiet introspection and melancholic reflection. (more…)

MUSIC REVIEW | Screamfeeder – Home Age (1999)

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By 1999, Screamfeeder’s unfairly short dalliance with high rotation radio airplay was already a year or two behind them. Triple J embraced them for a few singles, but by the turn of the century, that was all over. Now, close to 20 years after that brief moment of heavy exposure (heavy by alternative Brisbane band standards, anyway), they’re still out there doing their thing. And when I get to see them live every few years, Screamfeeder never disappoints. So I thought it was time I gave some of those not so salad days a listen, with Home Age.


Immediately, Walls Come Tumbling Down sounds like Screamfeeder had matured a little. And by that I mean, they sound a little older, a little less concerned with high energy and more concerned with melody. The la la la intro of So Sad About Us supports that theory. This is still the same band who made Kitten Licks, but there’s something more subdued about them here. (more…)

MUSIC REVIEW | Screamfeeder – Kitten Licks (1995)

Kitten Licks

I’m sure everyone feels like this about their own local music scene when they were of a certain age. But in my unapologetically biased opinion, the music output of Brisbane, Australia peaked in the mid to late 90s. Bands like Custard and Regurgitator got all the indie radio airplay. Pangaea got their deserved (if a little late) 15 minutes in the spotlight thanks to their ‘Gurge connection.


But there was another Brissie band, plugging away then, and still plugging away steadily all these years later, who never quite got the exposure they should have. That band was Screamfeeder, and their height of indie darling success came in 1995 with the album Kitten Licks. (more…)

MUSIC REVIEW | Halfway – Any Old Love (2013)

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I don’t think I’m alone in dismissing country music for a long time based on what I assumed it to be, rather than ever really giving it a chance.  I also don’t think I’m alone in finally giving it a chance for superficial, hipster reasons because the cool kids told me I should like Ryan Adams and Wilco.  And while those hipster, cool kid recommendations lead to me kind of appreciating Adams and really loving Wilco, they more importantly taught me that like any genre, shitty music or great music is just that, no matter what genre name you give it.


For every clichéd, hacky, cheap country music convention, there’s a dozen uniquely amazing genre tricks and tropes that mean country can get away with certain things other genres never could.  So to further embrace my entirely too recent appreciation for this much maligned musical style, I thought I’d stay Australian and stay modern, with Brisbane’s Halfway, and their most recent album, Any Old Love.

The first thing to strike me with this album, and its opening track Dropout, is the musicianship and song writing on display.  The greatest thing about punk rock is the fact that musical ability is kind of low on the list of requirements to make interesting music.  The greatest thing about country is that there’s nowhere to hide mediocre playing, singing or writing.  Only the absolute best make it through the fray, which is why you get songs like Dropout (and the rest of Any Old Love, for that matter) where the music is flawless, while  never robotic or artificial.  You can hear the real people behind the pristine execution.

When in full flight, Halfway take full advantage of their eight piece ensemble to make a wall of raucous, country rock sound.  But they also nail it when they strip things back for something like Shakespeare Hotel, with plenty of layers, but restrained in a way that builds to make an almost sparse cacophony.

With Factory Rats, they make unapologetic, nostalgic classic rock.  Using the same kind of ingredients that Bryan Adams would turn into painful, radio overloading syrup, Halfway produce something more like Springsteen at his best, only made better with their small town, Central Queensland restraint.

Halfway really strips things back for the closing minutes, with Any Old Love Part 4 and The Waking Hours.  The kinds of songs that epitomise the concept of less is more.  When the writing is this tight and the lyrics this genuine, you don’t need anything more than an acoustic guitar, some well placed vocal harmonies and backing instruments so restrained, you hardly notice they’re there.

The first time I ever heard of Halfway was when they announced their name at the end of a spot supporting The Fauves at The Zoo in Brisbane a couple of years ago.  I’d walked in halfway (see what I did there?) through their set and quickly went from seeing them as the usual necessary annoyance of any support band, to actively loving everything they played that night.  The best thing about Any Old Love is that it loses none of that impact they had live that night at The Zoo.

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