Fear not everybody, your second favorite weekly blog (Dev does run a mean ‘New Releases’ post, after all) has returned following a week’s rest over Easter. In its place was the staff’s quarterly mixtape (brilliantly compiled by Jom), which can still be listened to in all of its glory by clicking here.
Today, I thought I would chat about something that is very dear to my heart: Guilty pleasures. In all honesty, I dislike the term… Mainly because no-one should really feel guilty for liking any kind of music. If you like it, you like it… And it should be as simple as that. But, of course, life doesn’t usually work out that way, and there’s always someone just around the corner laughing at you for listening to a certain song, before they abruptly snap that “Your taste in music sux”. Sometimes, this so-called fact comes as a shocking revelation, but most of the time we are actually in on the joke and are listening to something purely because we enjoy it.
Over the past couple of weeks, I posted twenty videos from the Soundwave festival which I attended last month. While I probably wouldn’t say that they were the best act I saw, the one which gave me the most enjoyment may well have been Papa Roach. Now I know that some of their releases are just plain crap (see my two star review of their sixth LP ‘Metamorphosis’), but…
Last week, I posted videos of the first batch of 10 bands from Day-1 of Australia’s SoundWave Festival . This week, it’s time for the Day-2 contingent, with more rock, punk and metal acts to satisfy your urge for all things heavy and live. For various reasons, I could not attend both days of the festival, and it was this Day-2 group that best satisfied me personally. Of course, posting all of the bands that I saw would probably cause a riot at Sputnik, so hopefully the diverse range of bands seen below is a fair enough compromise.
As per usual, a disclaimer must first be aired for legal purposes: SputnikMusic shall take no responsibility for any motion sickness caused by unsteady hand-held cameras used in the making of the following videos. The same goes for deafness caused by varying volume levels, seizures caused by blinking lights, and blindness caused by the brightness of security vests.
And just in case you were thinking that the line-up for Day-2 looks a little thin, then please take into account that the following list of videos excludes the likes of The Smashing Pumpkins, Fucked Up, Millencolin, Mayhem, Of Mice & Men, The Wonder Years, Godsmack, Tonight Alive, and farewell performances from Conditions & The Swellers just to name another 10 who played on this particular day. In fact, the order of what you are about to view, roughly coincides with each band’s actual set time.…
Before I begin today’s column, a huge thanks to everyone who took part in last week’s discussion concerning “favourite lyrics”. It was by far the most popular ‘Sputnik Discusses’ thus far and I’m certain that many readers found it as enlightening as I did. Also, an apology if this particular column comes off a little half-hearted in comparison. In between reading all of those fantastic lyrics, writing 4 reviews and putting together a literal smorgasbord of live videos from Australia’s recent Soundwave Festival, it’s fair to state that my spare time has been scarce of late. Oh well, let’s see how it goes, shall we?
As per my usual orderly want to link my blogs, I’d like to point your attention towards last weekend’s Soundwave Festival post, which included ten live videos from Day-1 of the annual Australian event (My Day-2 wrap will be posted by this weekend). Just attending the festival got me to thinking: If given the choice of only one, would I prefer to get my dose of live music by way of (a) festivals or (b) headline gigs (with one or two support acts)? In all honesty, my decision on this has wavered from year to year… And there are more factors that go into the choice than one might initially think.
Now, a musical purist might feel that there is no competition in this debate. Surely it’s all about the music and a band’s “true”…
All the way back in 2011, I posted a blog titled ‘Maiden, Slash, Slayer & QOTSA Soundwavin’ Around Oz’ that included amateur video of five acts that toured around Australia with the rock, punk and metal festival that is Soundwave. Since then, I have decided to only post lists detailing my experiences at the annual extravaganza, but all that’s about to change in a big way. With 2015’s event being held over two separate days, I thought that this would be a good opportunity to return to the blog and allow all of you to see some live footage of a diverse range of bands. And since I personally saw 10 bands on the day that I attended, then you also get to see 10 bands… TWICE OVER! This week will include the first batch of ten from Day-1 and next week I’ll be back with 10 more from Day-2. How’s that for value!?
Before we begin, a disclaimer must first be aired for legal purposes: SputnikMusic shall take no responsibility for any motion sickness caused by unsteady hand-held cameras used in the making of the following videos. The same goes for deafness caused by varying volume levels, seizures caused by blinking lights, and blindness caused by the brightness of security vests.
And just in case you were thinking that the line-up for Day-1 looks a little thin, then please take into account that the following list of videos excludes the…
Many thanks to Kyle “Crysis” Ward for taking over the ‘Sputnik Discusses’ reins last week. The cheeky bugger made my discussions look like pure fluff in comparison, with his piece on the ‘Message Behind the Music’ eliciting responses that included references to Marx, Shakespeare, Jim Crow and the U.S. Supreme Court! If you have yet to read Kyle’s thought-provoking column, I urge you to do so by clicking here. Otherwise, since I am currently in the midst of a reviewing hot streak, here is more sugary DaveyBoy fluff to hold you over until the next guest columnist. And due to my orderly want to attempt to link each column, today’s ‘Sputnik Discusses’ exists so you can all share your favourite lyrics with us.
When it comes to taking in lyrics and rating their importance to my listening experience, I’m somewhere in-between those who completely ignore them and those who think they are the be-all and end-all. They’re more the cherry on top, rather than the ice-cream itself. Basically, with a few exceptions, top-notch lyrics can make a great song superb, while poor lyrics can make a great song only good. While the likes of The Smiths and The National are sure to pop up in discussion, I’m personally not one for sitting in the corner of my bedroom enjoying mopey lyrics. The closest I get to such despondency is that of the lazy, realist self-loathing kind, as NYC rockers Bayside sang so infectiously on…
Is there any musician out there that would have a better C.V. than little known singer-songwriter Sasha Siem? I doubt it. The British-Norwegian chanteuse has studied music and poetry at both England’s Cambridge University and America’s Harvard University. She has written and composed music for the London Symphony and Philharmonic orchestras, as well as various opera companies. This was all by her early 20s!
Of course, there was no chance that someone so prodigiously talented could stagnate for too long, so Siem recorded her debut EP ‘So Polite’ in 2013. Sensing she may have a career with this unique style of classical indie-pop, the now 30 year old has followed it up with her recently released debut LP ‘Most of the Boys’. Taking cues from a wide variety of sources, Siem reminds of Joanna Newsom, Fiona Apple, Bjork, Regina Spektor, PJ Harvey and Tori Amos. Yet she is undoubtedly her own artist.
Contrary to what one might expect from such a virtuoso, ‘Most of the Boys’ is far from the elongated recording that you might think it would be. With its total running time clocking in at under 32 minutes (only one track surpasses 3.15), its 11 tracks are bite size without too significantly sacrificing compositional integrity. There’s some satisfying diversity too… As can be seen by the following three videos: the quirky ‘So Polite’;
the more methodically paced ‘My Friend’;
and finally the little bit of everything that is ‘See Through’:
Not that I should be the all-judgmental on pseudonyms, but I’ve never quite understood why many a musician use a stage-name. Of course, there are a few exceptions, like the unpronounceable surname or the complete character change. Another reason could be to – for one reason or another – distance yourself from a famous parent. Now, I’m unsure that’s what has actually occurred with Elle King, but it wouldn’t surprise me. The now 26 year old was born Tanner Schneider. Her father? The great motivational speaker Rob:
Having split her time with some acting credits over the past decade or so, it now appears as if Elle King will tackle the music industry head on. In 2012, she released a 4 track EP (which included an interesting cover of Khia’s ‘My Neck, My Back’, as well as the banjo-driven ‘Good To Be a Man’). And just recently, she released her debut LP ‘Love Stuff’.
King’s voice will remind many of the late 2000’s soul-pop explosion out of the United Kingdom. Duffy, Joss Stone, Adele, Amy Winehouse and Paloma Faith all come to mind, so whether or not she is too late to the party will remain to be seen. Yet, there’s something a little more added, if only because she resides on the other side of the Atlantic. There’s a kind of blues or country vibe apparent, while also being rather poppy and accessible. Some or all of these influences can be heard on Love Stuff’s…
Today’s milestone 5th edition (who ever thought we’d make it this far) of ‘Sputnik Discusses’ features the first topic to come suggested by one of the discussors. You heard me correctly; every now and then, I’ll take a topic suggested by you and turn into a discussion column. And the man who is privileged enough to be the first to have such an honor bestowed upon him is Contributing Reviewer Arcade. His prize: If the column sucks, he gets to take all the blame. Thanks for the idea Arcade.
Of course, I could also say that this is the third consecutive column to be inspired by Dave Grohl and ‘Sonic Highways’, since that series of documentaries was all about commemorating the sound and stories of eight U.S cities. While there was clearly some overlap between those cities, each one was sufficiently distinctive. It got me to thinking about my hometown of Melbourne – Australia. How do we stack up in terms of having a unique music scene? I mean, sure, we’re the sporting capital of the world and have perfect weather (just look at those blue skies below, doubters), but what is our musical heritage and how do we stand out from any other city musically?
Well, apart from the sport and the weather, the two words that would best describe Melbourne are “cosmopolitan” and “multicultural”. There’s a real culture here that fuels a diverse range of music. I haven’t got enough space to list the pub-rock…
Most videos and pictures that go viral usually generate nothing more than a shoulder shrug from yours truly. I mean, I really don’t give a flying fire truck what color that dress is. But, occasionally, something will catch my ear that I deem useful… A benefit to society, as such. When I see a video that actually improves two things, then it deserves the two million views it has received in just five days!
Old musical films bore the crap out of me. I think it stems from ‘Gigi’ beating out ‘Vertigo’ for an Oscar, but I digress. Even a Disney musical with some animation thrown in is as dull as ditchwater. Take, for example, that magical nanny ‘Mary Poppins’; with all of it’s “Jolly Holidaying” and “Chim Chim Cher-eeing”. The only thing good about that 50 year old movie is the infamous word that is “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”. If only there were a cover version of that song…
Well, now there is… And it’s a death metal version! Thanks to the musical talents of Andy Rehfeldt and the vocal stylings of Sera Hatchett & Thomas Hinds, all of us can actually make it through a two minute scene from the movie without nodding off. And while she isn’t exactly Miss World, I’d probably prefer looking at Julie Andrews circa 1964 than some fat, bald & bearded death metal musician. Enjoy:
While ‘Sputnik Discusses’ was obviously created to fuel discussion amongst all registered members of the website, I think that I have under-stated its ability to provide – and spread – information between users. Last week’s ‘Anticipation in 2015’ column proved that, with many readers unaware that a particular artist was going to (possibly) be releasing an album this year, until informed of it during the discussion. I guess this opens up further possibilities for column topics; a theory that will hopefully be confirmed this week. Plus, there is a link of sorts between the two column editions courtesy of Dave Grohl and his merry band of Foo Fighters.
As referenced last week, Grohl’s ‘Sonic Highways’ series of documentaries piqued my interest. While a few of the episode-closing tunes – and therefore the LP itself – may have disappointed to some extent, the documentaries themselves were interesting, if imperfect. Not much earlier last year, I was also entertained by two other documentary films on music; Grohl’s ‘Sound City’ and ‘Searching for Sugar Man’ concerning Sixto Rodriguez. In both cases, the topics weren’t ones that I would normally search out, yet the end-product was both fascinating and informative. I just had to ask myself the question as to why I had not taken the time to view more music documentaries.
While some documentaries may admittedly be nothing more than glorified concert footage and musicians shooting the breeze, those that are well-made and conscientiously explanatory can be a…
Following on from last week’s ‘Sputnik Discusses’ column, another of my most anticipated 2015 albums has seen two tracks released from it. Of course, I am talking about Massachusetts indie-pop outfit Passion Pit, who are gearing up for the release of their third LP ‘Kindred’ on April-21. First up comes the bouncy and energetic lead single ‘Lifted Up (1985)’, which also fills the role of album opener. As one can probably already deduce from its title, this tune is both enthusiastic and nostalgic, with an infectious earworm of a chorus where lead vocalist Michael Angelakos sings “1985 was a good year”.
Next to see the light of day is track 3 ‘Where the Sky Hangs’. Much more methodically-paced than ‘Lifted Up (1985)’, this song is still no less contagious. Whether through music or vocals, Angelakos simply has that gifted knack to make listeners move their body in some way, shape or form. In truth, neither of these two tracks stray a great deal from the sound exhibited on Passion Pit’s two excellent LPs thus far; ‘Manners’ and ‘Gossamer’. But is that a good or bad thing? I guess that we will have to wait a couple of more months for ‘Kindred’ to be released to find out.
Queens rockers Bayside released their excellent 6th LP ‘Cult’ last February. A year later on March-3, the quartet add to the original 11 tunes with the 15 track ‘White Edition’ of the album. While the first of the four new songs to be heard – ‘Dancing Like An Idiot’ – is nothing more than a decent B-Side that was rightfully kept off the album proper, it hasn’t wasted any time in drumming up some publicity for this under-rated band.
Coming complete with a lyric video (spelling mistake and all), lead vocalist Anthony Raneri lets loose on some of the young bands who proliferate the Warped Tour scene. “That’s where I get to see what the kids are doing”, Raneri tells Billboard. “At Bayside shows, I wouldn’t know what the trends are with young kids, same in my home life. Warped Tour is where you see all kinds of different people. These bands are just writing giant curses on t-shirts and selling it to a kid because they know the kid is stupid enough to buy it”, Raneri goes on to state. “You’re telling them it’s cool to buy a t-shirt to piss their parents off. There’s nothing cool about that… That’s mall rebellion… That’s not real rebellion. I grew up liking The Smiths & Nirvana… I fucking hated Guns N’ Roses. It was bullshit, misogynistic and fake rebellion – nothing is more corporate and commercialized’.
Headlined by the lyric “You’re basically One Direction if they all had…
Call me jaded… It might be because I’m getting older… Or maybe it’s just the way that the music industry is here in 2015… But I rarely anticipate an album release anymore! And no, it’s not just because the Arctic Monkeys began their brilliant debut LP by telling us that “anticipation has the habit to set you up for disappointment”. If anything, for yours truly, it may be to avoid the hype (both positive and negative) surrounding a particular album. In fact, the aforementioned Arctic Monkeys debut is the perfect example. I also recall going out of my way to ignore Lana Del Rey’s ‘Born To Die’ for 2 or 3 months for the exact same reason.
Prior to about 2010, such a thought wasn’t even a consideration. Like everyone, I have a group of favourite musicians and if they were scheduled to be releasing an LP that year, then I’d greatly anticipate it… No matter what the quality ended up being. As successors to classic albums, I couldn’t snap up Muse’s ‘Black Holes & Revelations’, Rise Against’s ‘Appeal to Reason’ and Anberlin’s ‘New Surrender’ quick enough. But now, I’ll listen to an album whenever I get a chance (pending Sputnik reviewing obligations). And then, last August, I saw a trailer for an album which reignited that anticipatory feeling. Sure, it may have had more to do with the supporting documentary… And yes, I’ve yet to actually hear the LP as it’s meant to be heard… But I…
As an indirect prelude to the ‘Sputnik Discusses’ column that is set to break the internet mid-week, here are the first 2 tracks to be heard from Florence and The Machine’s third LP ‘How Big How Blue How Beautiful’. To be released on June-1, it follows the critically acclaimed releases ‘Lungs’ and ‘Ceremonials’. First up is the title track, which is predominantly instrumental and very orchestral. It sounds like the perfect album opener to me:
However, a closer look at the track-listing for this much-anticipated 11 track release suggests that it actually slots in as the 3rd tune of the album. That feels a little strange to me, but until we hear the (pardon the pun) flow of the LP, then I’m happy to take a “wait-and-see” approach. What we do know is that it will immediately follow the lead single ‘What Kind of Man’. This one’s got everything; an alluring build-up, hooky guitar riff, blaring horns and those oh so passionately soaring vocals that have become a staple of Ms. Welch… and the video even has boobs:
Seriously, the world has gone fucking mad! If it wasn’t enough that Tenacious D just won a Grammy award for ‘Best Metal Performance’, it has just been announced that Australia has been allowed to enter the Eurovision Song Contest this year. That’s right, the EUROvision Song Contest. Never mind the 16 hour flight it takes to get there. Upon first hearing the news, I immediately thought that the organizers of the event had done a Jim Carrey:
I guess that we shouldn’t be surprised, since the reigning winner of this cheesy contest is Conchita Wurst / Thomas Neuwirth; a bearded, umm, person from (ironically) Austria. Talk about opening the proverbial can of worms; while supposedly a “one-off initiative to mark the contest’s 60th anniversary”, we could one day have a Eurovision Song Contest without a European nation taking part! Of course, the only reason why the participating countries are relevant anyway, is for them to vote along political lines to the point of predictability. And the best thing about the contest itself is the hilariously demeaning voice-over commentary.
So the next step is for Australia to choose an entrant, and the mainstream media are all over it in asking for possibilities. Sadly, it’s the usual dross that’s put up for discussion; which basically amounts to Kylie Minogue or any one of a number of young female reality show contestants. Some bright spark, however, has taken it upon themselves to think outside of the box and put…