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…
Oh, you knew it was coming… And who better to talk about heavy freaking metal than yours truly? How about those youngsters Def Leppard burning up the scene right now! Seriously, anyone would think that I was a NARAS (National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences) member and took part in the voting this year myself. For the two of you who have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about, let me inform you that Tenacious D just beat out Anthrax, Mastodon, Motorhead and Slipknot to win the ‘Best Metal Performance’ Grammy award. Yes, that Tenacious D; the fat bald guy and the comedian who starred in that film ‘School of ROCK’ (or was it ‘School of Metal’)!?
Of course, this isn’t the first time that this category has received backlash. Back in 1988 when the award was called ‘Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance’, aging Brits Jethro Tull beat out Metallica’s ‘…And Justice For All’… A result which prompted audible booing from the audience, an infamous magazine advertisement (right) and Lars Ulrich actually making people laugh 4 years later with his “I’d like to thank Jethro Tull for not putting out an album this year” quip. Just to confuse matters further, this hybrid award made a return to the Grammys three or four years back. Understandably, it was booted again rather quickly, but one has to wonder if it made any difference in light of recent happenings.
Late night talk shows have always been good for a casual watch. They’re usually entertaining for the most part, even if the topics of discussion are no deeper than drunk guys arguing the Jordan vs LeBron debate. With guests from all walks of life (sport, movies, television, music, politics, etc…) conversations are at least varied enough to not bore viewers to sleep. Most of these talk shows will include a musical guest playing 1 or 2 songs from whatever album they are selling at the time. However, if the musical act is not sufficiently well-known, they can occasionally feel like a time-filling hindrance; Simply there to fulfil some kind of structural obligation.
Of late, however, that seems to have changed to some extent… And thankfully for the music industry, it’s for the better. I’m no expert – or religious viewer – but it may have been ever since Sauturday Night Live alumni Jimmy Fallon joined the talk show host ranks, and happened to bring along with him a genuine musical act in The Roots as his studio band. Furthermore, Fallon has deftly integrated comedy and entertainment into the music which appears on his show, whether via impersonation, surprise guests or otherwise. I’ve already blogged about his fantastic Neil Young impression in the past.
Well, it seems that Conan O’Brien is now (literally) getting in on the act by uniting tv (himself), movies (Jeff Bridges) & music (Slash) in the one performance! With Bridges a guest on the…
He goes missing and then in the space of a couple of days he writes a review and a blog post. Yeah, that’s just me. Plus, I wasn’t missing, I was just lurking like the Aussie stalker that I am… Keeping an eye on how you’ve all been behaving. It comes in handy come promotion application time, you know!?
Speaking of, the staff at Sputnik Towers were finally released by the overlord Jom (his torture tactics were actually quite pleasurable, but the lack of beer did us in) and once we reconvened, it was decided that we’d try to liven up the blog. So here’s yours truly throwing something at the wall and seeing what sticks.
There is one catch though… It’s called “Sputnik Discusses” for a reason and needs YOUR help to keep it going and keep me motivated (Otherwise, I would have titled it “Davey Discusses”, which just sounds overly pretentious). So if you’ve got a thought, experience, list, ranking or whatever on the relevant topic being discussed, then don’t be shy… Fire away. Again, you just never know who is stalking your contributions to the site and what it may mean for your climb up the tower!
We all know that music (whether scored or soundtracked) has always played a large role in motion pictures. The same can be said to a lesser extent on the small screen, but seems to have become much more prevalent – and integral – over…
Have you ever been nervous before a gig that you have attended? Sure, there’s always some nervous energy, or even some nervous form of excitement if you’re looking forward to the act(s)… But I’m talking genuine nerves here. Because it happened to me for the first time a week or so back. New York funk-metal quartet Living Colour have always been one of my favourite bands, and I unfortunately was not in a position to have seen them live during their ‘90s heyday. So I was never going to miss them on their first visit to Australia in well over a decade.
To put it bluntly, however, Living Colour are now old. Lead vocalist Corey Glover especially looks it; having transformed from the spandex-wearing, dreadlocked front-man of yesteryear into the grey-haired, grandpa cap wearer of today. The very little I had seen of them playing via YouTube and the like seemed to suggest an overly earnest show which lacked energy and relied on high – but faltering – technicality. Those around me didn’t help the predicament, with a higher than usual drunk factor and many a googling youngster asking “Who’s Living Colour”?
Well, I must have seen the wrong videos, because Living Colour thankfully blew my mind. And it didn’t take long for the nerves to be shaken out of me, with the earth-rattling low end of their set opener – Robert Johnson cover ‘Preachin’ Blues’. Talk about a band in sync! These four could all…
Bonjour. Oui oui monsieur et madames. Je M’appelle Davey. Comment se fait tout le monde aujourd’hui?
July 14 is Bastille Day, the national day of France. I could have written a one thousand word blog detailing French music over the decades. From Edith Piaf to Phoenix, and David Guetta to Gojira, I’m certain it could have been a winner. But I’m far too lazy for that, so a tenuous link will have to do.
Enter English indie/synth-pop act Bastille and their latest single ‘Laura Palmer’. Along with the equally mainland European sounding track ‘Pompeii’, this deceptively infectious tune is one of the twin peaks of the quartet’s excellent debut LP ‘Bad Blood’. Some guy named David Lynch told me that the french translation for fifth single is “La ura palmes er”. I think he might be pulling my leg, but I do have a feeling that he directed the video for the song, since it makes no fucking sense! When is Mullholland Drive Day anyway?
Following the electro abomination that was 2009’s ‘In This Light and On This Evening’, even fans of English indie-rock band Editors could be forgiven for approaching their follow-up ‘The Weight of Your Love’ with equal parts trepidation and dread. Anthemic, stadium-baiting lead single ‘A Ton of Love’ helped allay fears a little, although even the lead single from ‘In This Light…’ (‘Papillon’) was fairly strong.
More interesting is the curious selection of ‘The Weight’ as the new album’s 2nd single. The Muse-like ‘Sugar’ or hooky backing vocals of ‘Formaldehyde’ seemed more obvious choices, with ‘The Weight’ more playing the role of fantastic album opener, for mine. It’s a brave choice and hopefully one that will pay off.
Beginning with dark, ominous synths before giving way to an incessant beat and almost folky guitar strums, Tom Smith’s striking baritone soon captures attention, even if his trademark ambiguous lyrics (“I’m a lump of meat with a heartbeat”) occasionally confound. Most pleasing is the existence of an ever-present tension, with each sound after sound, instrument after instrument and melody after melody being meticulously added to build up and then release. Brilliantly, this pseudo title track is both thoroughly melodic and accessible.
The video – which was filmed in Nashville, where the band worked with producer Jacquire King (Tom Waits, Kings of Leon) – follows the straight-forward template from ‘A Ton of Love’: Black & White footage of the band playing the song. Borrrrring? Maybe, but it kind…
Having been released earlier this year, ‘Riptide’ isn’t a brand spanking new tune, but given it would have barely been heard around these parts, I thought it would be well worth spotlighting. It’s creator is Vance Joy, a pseudonym for 25 year-old Melbourne singer-songwriter James Keogh.
Talk about a rags to riches story: Just 4 years ago, Keogh was playing state league Australian Rules Football for the Coburg Tigers, hoping to get drafted by an AFL team. Two years later, the young man was working part-time as a gardener while also showcasing his unpolished musical skills at open mic nights around Melbourne. Come 2013, with only a five track EP to his name, Keogh has signed a five album deal with Atlantic Records!
The infectious ‘Riptide’ is undoubtedly the track which got Vance Joy noticed by the label heavyweights. It’s a fantastic little folk-pop song with its charming ukulele & bright harmonies seemingly perfect for any season of the year. Including a chorus that will instantly implant itself in your mind – as well as give you a chuckle in the below video – the song is bound to pop up on a film, tv series or advertisement some time soon. When it does, just remember that you heard it here at SputnikMusic first.
I’m beginning to think that I have some sort of affinity with bands from Louisiana. Just two years ago, I awarded my album of the year to little known indie-pop outfit Givers and their debut LP ‘In Light’. While that feat won’t be achieved in 2013 by the quintet I’m about to introduce you to, The Pelican State has once more delivered a band that has been on high rotation on my playlist of late.
Having initially caught my attention with one of those gimmicky self-proclaimed genres, Super Water Sympathy walk the talk on their second LP ‘Hydrogen Child’. The aforementioned self-labeling is that of “water pop”, but one gets the feeling that the term has only been created because it sounds better than “alternative indie pop-rock”.
Below is ‘Uh Oh!’; the lead single and album opener from ‘Hydrogen Child’. A bouncy and deceptively catchy tune where each instrument gets a chance to shine without dominating proceedings, it provides the framework for the eleven tracks which follow.
Proving that an impressively played festival set can pay future dividends, yours truly dug deep into his hip pocket to see Yellowcard after they had made quite the positive impression during their 40 minute set last year. Considering that previous to that Australian performance, the Floridian quintet shared headlining duties with Sum 41, then it was safe to say that us Aussies had been craving a full Yellowcard headline set for quite some time… And the rather intimate setting of The Hi-Fi Bar in central Melbourne was the perfect venue for the first of two sold-out shows.
First up for the night were local pop-rockers For Our Hero. Having never heard a single song by these youngsters before this night, I actually came away rather impressed. Sure, it was pretty safe stuff without any real distinguishing point… But in their spot of warming up an audience who were predominantly waiting to hear a band such as Yellowcard, then For Our Hero achieved their objective. They sounded clear, crisp & catchy with just enough variety to get by. If they can grow into their own sound as they gain experience, then this could be a band with a bright future.
Continuing the “hero” theme, Australia’s 2nd favourite pop-punk outfit Heroes For Hire were up next. I’m actually a fan of their recorded output thus far in their career. Again, they don’t do anything that hasn’t been done by superior overseas bands, but they do so in…
Having previously reviewed all three of the band’s albums, I guess it is fair to state that I am Sputnik Music’s undisputed expert in all things British India. From their exciting – if derivative – debut LP ‘Guillotine’, through to disappointing follow-up ‘Thieves’ and solid – if unspectacular – latest release ‘Avalanche’, there has always been some kind of appeal to yours truly… And it has nothing to do with the fact that they’re Melbourne boys like my good self.
Despite the occasional glimpse of promise, however, their two most recent LPs have felt as if the quartet were chasing their tail… Making do, without really progressing to a significant extent. Could that be about to change with the release of new single ‘I Can make You Love Me’? While still definitively British India – especially the yelping vocals of Declan Melia – it definitely took me a little by surprise with its build-up and dynamics. Sure, it still may not be breaking any new ground per se, but it feels like a genuine step forward for a band who I’ve always deemed to have potential.
As for the video; well, who wouldn’t love a drunk, pissed-off, lovelorn and karaoke-singing minotaur wandering the streets in the dark of the night? Hell, I think I’ve felt similarly myself on occasions. Hang on a tick, I think I also saw those identical views… I’ve definitely cursed Festival (aka Festering) Hall once or twice!
What better way to warm up on the first day of winter than to head along to your local sweat-box and listen to some quality music? On the said date in 2012, I thought I’d take in an interesting trio of acts put together at Festival Hall in Melbourne, with seemingly the only thing linking The Jezabels, Lights & Snakadaktal being that all three outfits contained female vocalists.
First up it was the distinctively named young local quintet Snakadaktal. Playing a kind of folky brand of indie-pop, the band impressed me with their tight musicianship and overall maturity. Sure, their sound is probably not suited to a 5,000 odd capacity venue, but they thankfully didn’t compromise their style for the sake of the occasion. Interestingly, Snakadaktal ordered their set so as to initially suggest to a potentially unknowing crowd that Sean Kelly was the outfit’s only vocalist. Of course, those in the know would anticipate Phoebe Cockburn taking over for the most part, even if her voice seemed just a bit too fragile in a live setting. Overall, however, this was an impressive support slot for an up-and-coming band whose forthcoming debut LP should hopefully make for a rewarding listen.
Next up was Canadian electro-pop artist Valerie Poxleitner… Better known as Lights. Since her sound wasn’t exactly similar to the night’s headliners, it was always going to be fascinating as to how the crowd would take the diminutive brunette… And I think it’s fair to say that…
With the exception of those looking to be comfortably seated, it is fair to state that most live music fans prefer their gigs in smaller venues where you can get up close to the performing musicians. Hell, many even automatically pass on 40,000+ stadium events and raise an eyebrow when even their favourite artists are booked at an arena. Exceptions are few and far between, but I recall an article from a couple of years back, where the live show reviewer wished that a NYC show had been held at an arena, rather than a club. Why? The singer was Florence Welch and the room was quite simply not large enough to do her booming voice justice. At the time, I thought “Codswallop”… Having now seen the flame-haired songstress perform live at the 10,000+ capacity Rod Laver Arena, I can understand where the writer was coming from.
First up, however, was Blood Orange… the solo side-project of Devonte Hynes (better known as Lightspeed Champion). Undoubtedly a strange choice as support, he clearly got the gig due to his sporadic writing and producing partnership with Florence + The Machine. Armed with nothing but a laptop (complete with the annoying lit-up fruit beaming into the audience), a keyboard & his guitar, Hynes struggled to garner any interest from the crowd apart from the strange images portrayed on his projector. In all honesty though, it was a decent half-hour set, with the sultry melodies & Hynes’ flamboyant guitar-work often shining through.…
Winter has come way too early to South-Eastern Australia this year, and by the sea was the last place I would usually want to be on a frigid Wednesday evening. On this particular night, however, the short tram ride out of the Melbourne CBD to St.Kilda’s charming Palais Theatre would be well and truly worth it, with City & Colour adding warmth to the first of two sold-out performances. The venue itself is an odd one for concerts: an all-seated bona fide theatre which plays home to everything from stage-shows to film festivals, and from comedians to rock gigs. Usually, I’d prefer my venues a little more – shall we say – beer-soaked, but complementing one of the world’s truly great voices with the acoustics of a high ceiling & some beautiful architecture (which was brought to life by a genuinely unexpected light-show) seemed very appropriate… Even if a portion of the strange cross-section of folk and hardcore fans may not have seen an actual theatre in their lives!
First up this evening would be the act known as Bahamas – aka 31 year old Toronto singer-songwriter Afie Jurvanen. Having just joined the touring City & Colour quintet as lead guitarist, Jurvanen casually paces out all by his lonesome tonight, with nothing but an acoustic guitar, his voice and a spotlight. In front of a half-capacity audience, he initially seems uncomfortable, taking two or three songs to truly find his rhythm and win over a crowd who most…