Tag: melbourne

***2016 RECAP*** MUSIC REVIEW | The Drones – Feelin Kinda Free (2016)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “Liking this record almost feels you’ve passed some sort of test or initiation.”

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Who did The Drones make Feelin Kinda Free for? It’s dark, threatening, challenging and not interested in pandering to anyone. It’s also a kind of visceral, angry, unapologetic rock and roll that the world needs more of. The grit and growl goes beyond front man Gareth Liddiard’s voice, it permeates every note and beat of Feelin Kinda Free.


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MUSIC REVIEW | Henry Wagons – After What I Did Last Night… (2016)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “The Nashville setting of recording After What I Did Last Night… comes thick and corn fed.”
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A bloke from Melbourne’s inner north who wears citche vintage clothes and has oh so manicured facial hair. Also, he appropriates a kind of music that is the very specific sound of somewhere he is very specifically not from. Everything about Henry Wagons should make me hate him in all of his hipster glory. But I’ll be buggered if I don’t find him immensely entertaining whenever I come across his work. Which is why I was pumped to hear that he had released a new solo album, After What I Did Last Night…

His Jonny Cash-like baritone is put to perfect remorseful use on Cold Burger, Cold Fries as he croons his desire to make up for some prior transgression over an appropriate Nashville sound of regret and apology, with a hint of optimism as he swears to do better this time around. (more…)

MUSIC REVIEW | The Drones – Feelin Kinda Free (2016)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “Liking this record almost feels you’ve passed some sort of test or initiation.”

Drones 1.jpg
Who did The Drones make Feelin Kinda Free for? It’s dark, threatening, challenging and not interested in pandering to anyone. It’s also a kind of visceral, angry, unapologetic rock and roll that the world needs more of. The grit and growl goes beyond front man Gareth Liddiard’s voice, it permeates every note and beat of Feelin Kinda Free.


READ FULL REVIEW

MUSIC REVIEW | The Drones – Gala Mill (2006)

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The Drones are a band that make me realise just how out of the loop I am when it comes to what’s cool in non-radio friendly, Aussie music. I had never heard of them at all until a couple of years ago. I had never listened to them until earlier this year when I gave their 2008 release Havilah a spin. But if you were to pick up any issue of any street press in Melbourne, you’re pretty much guaranteed to find an article or two about the band, or front man, Gareth Liddiard. This band may have passed me by for well over a decade now, but I’m trying to catch up, slowly but surely. This time, with Gala Mill.


Dark and threatening, rambling and on edge, seemingly designed to make sure you can’t find any sure footing as Gala Mill opens, Jezebel is no easy listen. But at the same time, it makes me more than just a little excited about what might be in store. The opposite is the stripped back I’m Here Now and Words From the Executioner of Alexander Pearce. It’s almost like the band members had a bet to see who could play the least amount of notes. And the sparse result makes those few notes all come through in such a major way on both songs. (more…)

***2015 RECAP*** MUSIC REVIEW | Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit (2015)

Courtney

I know I’m a little late to the Courtney Barnett party, but I only recently realised that I have been unknowingly for her and against her at the same time for a little while.  For the last 6 months or so, there have been articles about her in the free Melbourne street press every single week.  And without reading those articles, I assumed I hated her.  She just looked a little too hipster and little too “Melbourne”.


But at the same time, I was really digging her stuff whenever Triple R played it, but because Triple R is a community radio station, they’re not real big on things like back announcing.  So I never knew it was her.  I only joined the dots a few months ago when the awesome Darren Hanlon started tweeting about his tour with her in America.  His endorsement was enough to look her up, and bugger me if it wasn’t those same songs from Triple R I’d been trying to track down for months.  So now, six months after the cool kids and hipsters, I got stuck right into Courtney Barnett’s Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit. (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…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Paul Kelly: Stories of Me (2012)

Paul Kelly

“He wanted to be as good as his heroes. He wanted to be a great songwriter”

When I wrote about Paul Kelly and his album Post, I said “Growing up and living in Australia, the music of Paul Kelly goes beyond something that’s just always there and taken for granted.  It’s seemingly part of the fabric of the country.”  And while I still believe that, I also realised that taking his presence for granted means I’ve never thought about where he or his music came from.  It’s always been there, it’s hard to think of time when it one day won’t be there, so why does it matter where it all started?  It matters, because Paul Kelly: Stories of Me tells such a great story about a man, and the time and places that made him.


From his childhood in Adelaide as one of half a dozen or so kids, to the death of his father when he was 10 years old, to his pilgrimage to Melbourne to pursue a life in music in the 70s, to his fleeting success as a pop star in the early 80s, to his reinvention as a singer songwriter, to his legendary status as the current godfather of Australian music, to his personal life and loves a long they way, to his insecurities and even a cheeky quarter century of heroin use.  This really is complete collection of rock star clichés.  And it’s great. (more…)

MUSIC REVIEW | Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit (2015)

Courtney

I know I’m a little late to the Courtney Barnett party, but I only recently realised that I have been unknowingly for her and against her at the same time for a little while.  For the last 6 months or so, there have been articles about her in the free Melbourne street press every single week.  And without reading those articles, I assumed I hated her.  She just looked a little too hipster and little too “Melbourne”.


But at the same time, I was really digging her stuff whenever Triple R played it, but because Triple R is a community radio station, they’re not real big on things like back announcing.  So I never knew it was her.  I only joined the dots a few months ago when the awesome Darren Hanlon started tweeting about his tour with her in America.  His endorsement was enough to look her up, and bugger me if it wasn’t those same songs from Triple R I’d been trying to track down for months.  So now, six months after the cool kids and hipsters, I got stuck right into Courtney Barnett’s Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | All This Mayhem (2014)

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“It was me and Ben against the world.”

Documentaries about underdogs are great.  It’s always uplifting to see the little guy overcome adversity and stick it to the man.  Documentaries about tragedy grab me in a different way.  Maybe they make me feel better about my own life and the fact that I’ve never had to go through that kind of shit.  I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen a documentary that gives me both in a way that works so perfectly, as All This Mayhem.


In the 80s, two self confessed bogan kids, Tas and Ben Pappas, muscled their way onto a skateboard ramps in Melbourne’s snooty suburb of Prahran.  A few years later, they were both high school dropouts, but they were also the ranked number one and two greatest skateboarders in the world, living it up on the X-Games circuit in America.  Deep into drugs and hard, fast living, the Pappas brothers were the kinds of dudes who’s head strong, take on anyone and anything attitude lead to their biggest successes, and ultimately, their dual downfalls. (more…)

MUSIC REVIEW | The Drones – Havilah (2008)

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The Drones is the name of a band. Based on that name, I always assumed they would be dance or electronica based. I never would have thought they’d be a hybrid of rock / country / beer / sweat / attitude and wild energy thrown in every possible direction. Well, live and learn. Because I just listened to Havilah, and it turns out that the The Drones are a hybrid of rock / country / beer / sweat / attitude and wild energy thrown in every possible direction.


Why do some professional bands refuse to tune their guitars properly? Does it really add some sort of indie edge, or street cred to their sound? Or does it just make their shit sound off? I’m cool with vocalists who can’t reach a certain note going for it anyway. That’s a physical limitation that can’t be helped. But tuning a guitar takes 60 seconds tops, and is an easily perfected, exact science. All of that is to say, the first notes of the intro to opening track, Nail it Down, infuriated me immediately. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Death in Brunswick (1990)

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Aussie movies about being Aussies can be a bit of a gamble. When they go wrong, they rely so much on the Aussieness of it all, that they come off as a tone deaf outsider looking in, and you get something Australia or Welcome to Woop Woop. But when they get it right, they get it right by telling a universally relatable story, just with a little local spin or flare. Death in Brunswick is a story that could happen anywhere, but to justify the name, they give it the perfect amount of local flavour to make sure it’s a story that can only be told this particular way, by setting it in this particular place.


Living in a rundown dump in the titular Melbourne suburb, Sam Neill’s Carl seems like a bit of a depressed mess. He has no job, he’s obviously been through a serious break up, and his overbearing, overly critical mother is staying with him, pointing out his every foible. Things look to be improving when he gets a job as the chef at a local night club where he meets cute bar girl Sophie (Zoe Caridis) and indifferent kitchen hand, Mustafa (Nick Lothouris).

After just one shift, Carl is on the doorstep of his best friend Dave (John Clarke), needing a friend to talk to as he processes his immediate love for Sophie. Once his feelings are reciprocated, things start to get complicated. There’s Sophie’s strict Greek father, Mustafa’s dodgy dealings in the night club kitchen, as well altercations with shifty night club owner Yanni (Nicholas Papademetriou) and bouncer Laurie (Boris Brkic in what be the worst performance I’ve ever seen in a well made, professional movie).

Sam Neill and especially John Clarke are both really great. A little too great. As an Australian, my patriotic pride is a little bummed that these quintessentially Aussie characters were played so well by a couple of kiwis. But I got over that pretty quick once I realised almost every single line of dialogue delivered by Clarke would make me laugh.

I currently live in the next suburb over from Brunswick, but when this move was made, I was a 9 year old kid in small town Queensland. So an added point of interest for me was seeing how my current hood has changed over the last quarter of a century. And, physically, it kind of hasn’t. The main drag where so many of Death in Brunswick’s exteriors were shot looks pretty much the same with its weird blend of industrial and retail. And Carl’s dump of a house isn’t much worse than some of the shit boxes I looked at in that area last time I was looking for a place to rent.

Progress Theatre (1990) - As Depicted in the film, Death in Brunswick
Progress Theatre (1990): As depicted in the film, Death in Brunswick

But the people have certainly changed. It’s still hugely multi-cultural and there are still plenty of people like Carl and Sophie. But these days, the hipster gentrification means there are also a lot of moustaches, skinny jeans and fedoras paying way too much rent to live in the same run down mess as Carl.

Progress Theatre (2014) - As depicted when I walked my dog the other day.
Progress Theatre (2014): As depicted when I walked my dog the other day.

At first, the immediate relationship between Carl and Sophie struck me as just too convenient and lazy from a story point of view. But by the end, a revelation hit me about the kind of movie Death in Brunswick really is. These are heightened characters, living heightened, crazy lives that juts so happen to be set in this very mundane world of 1990 Melbourne. The convenient plot elements are all part of the pulpy story and are what make it so fun, even amongst a lot of dark humour. It’s a delicate balance that rarely gets executed as well as it is here.

Death in Brunswick
Directed By – John Ruane
Written By – Boyd Oxlade, John Ruane

LIVE MUSIC REVIEW | Japandroids – Live at the Corner Hotel, Richmond (Melbourne), 28/08/13

Japandroids

The rock n’ roll two piece was a novelty until The White Stripes became one of the biggest bands in the world.  The mantle was picked up by The Black Keys when they went from cool, alt indie darlings to super stars with the Lonely Boy, the song that refuses to stop being awesome, no matter how many times I hear it flogged on commercial radio, almost two full years after its release.  Both bands have plenty of killer songs, but both struggle to recreate their sound and keep their two piece status intact when they perform live.


Obviously padded out with layers and layers of guitar and bass overdubs on studio albums, The White Stripes settled for just sounding empty and a bit crap live.  While The Black Keys get backup musicians to fill out their sound when out of the studio and on the stage.  The reason I’m taking so long to mention the band that this review is supposed to actually about, is to give them some context, to make sure they get the credit they deserve.  Because Canada’s Japandroids sounded absolutely amazing live, even better than their albums.  There are no smoke and mirrors, just two dudes, Brian King (guitar/vocals) and David Prowse (drums/vocals), rocking as hard, playing as loud and making as much noise as two dudes ever could.

Over the course of about 80 minutes, they managed to rock the shit out of The Corner Hotel without ever letting up for second.  It was an awesome start, with possibly my two favourite Japandroids songs appearing early in the set.  Fires Highway and The Nights of Wine and Roses sound great on the Celebration Rock album.  Live, they really blew me away.  Japandroids have that rare ability to be all shambolic rock and roll loose swagger, while somehow maintaining absolute pinpoint precision.  And when that swagger brings them to the verge of losing all control, the show just becomes that much better.

King is a born rock front man, but the real surprise was Prowse.  His drumming adds so much more than just a beat and rhythm.  He somehow almost plays his own melodies.  I’ve always thought it was kind of cool on their albums, but seeing and hearing Japandroids live made me realise what a major role he plays in their distinctive sound.

These two dudes are old school Rock (note, the capital “R”).  Even after King announced a couple of “slow jams” to help them catch their breath, the pair still played like they with everything  turned up to 11.  King also let us know that this is the last week of an 18 month tour, apologising for their worn out voices and general fatigue.  If this is Japandroids exhausted and depleted, they must have been outright dangerous at the beginning of the tour.  Second last song, The House That Heaven Built was a real standout, with plenty of “oh oh ooohs” to get the crowd screaming along.

I’m pretty new to the Japandroids party and only stumbled across them about 5 minutes after they played their last Australian shows at the Laneway Festival in February.  So it was awesome that they came back so soon and I didn’t have to wait years to see them live.  Hopefully they get back in the studio as soon as they get back to Vancouver so they have a new album and new reason to tour soon.

There’s no point subjecting anyone to shakey iPhone footage from last night, so instead I found an awesome live clip of the boys in action.  As amazing as this looks on video, it’s nothing compared to seeing, hearing, feeling it happen right there, in front of your eyes.

CHECK OUT THE OFFICIAL JAPANDROIDS WEBSITE HERE

CHECK OUT THE CORNER HOTEL’S WEBSITE HERE TO SEE WHAT OTHER AWESOME BANDS ARE PLAYING THERE SOON