Tag: queensland

***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 | Robert Forster – Songs to Play (2015)

robertforster_rgb_1

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.

Halfway