Thank You xo

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Hello Heavy and Weird Readers,

I know that I promised to publish a David Bowie blog each night this week along with a bunch of other stuff, but unfortunately life got in the way this week so there hasn’t been a space of time available to publish or write.

What I can promise you is that the following will be published over the course of Friday Night through to Sunday Night:

1. David Bowie – Loving the Alien (volume two to five)
2. Part three and four of my Male Feminist blog
3. My review of the new My Bloody Valentine, Atoms for Peace and The Drones albums
4. Part three and Four of “Bands I Love but Never Really Talk About” series (focussing on Machine Head and Killswitch Engage)

I’ll also be publishing Kelly’s first article which is a great piece on digital culture and the consumption of music and Clint’s review of My Bloody Valentine live (from both the ATP festival and the Brisbane show).

There will also be some changes coming over the next few weeks. We are going to be debuting our “Music News” section which will be a daily blog bringing you all the up to date news in relation to the music world. Also hoping to do the same for the art and the political, so stay tuned for that. Moving into the year we’ll be launching our own Youtube Channel where we will be conducting in-depth interviews with a wide array of people from musicians to activists to artists, you name it. Also looking to branch out and do some podcasts as well.

As the year rolls on we are looking to organise some “Heavy and Weird” curated live shows. This will be a chance for us to feature a range of different artists on the stage.

This is only the beginning and we thank each and every one of you for being a part of the journey. On a personal level I can say that it means a lot to have not only a dedicated team of writers but also a dedicated group of readers. When I started “Heavy and Weird” my idea was a space to write about music. To see my idea expand and grow into a community truly is a beautiful thing. When I say that I love you all deeply for being a part of it, I mean it and I will continue to give back to you all and be as generous and open as I can.

At the end of the day, this is all about communication and I absolutely love being connected to you all through the medium of communication that Heavy and Weird has become.

Big Love

Dan xo

Review: “No Signs” by We All Want To

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After releasing a masterpiece of an album in 2012 with “Come Up Invisible,” 2013 sees We All Want To releasing a new EP called “No Signs” which is a nice collection of new songs, old songs, remixed songs and a cover. It is the perfect companion piece to “Come Up Invisible” and further strengthens the amazing history that We All Want To are establishing.

The EP opens with a remix of “No Signs” which gives a new level of light to the original. This then leads perfectly into a cover of Lifter Puller’s song “Mission Viejo.” The band do justice to the original all the while keeping it linked to the We All Want To sound. New song “Mindless Damage” is a driving power pop number with a beautiful duel vocal performance from Tim and Skye which leads into “Down In the Park” which is another life affirming rock song. The real highlights for me of this EP are the acoustic versions of “It Felt Like A Film” and “Ramp Up The Bleeding.” When these songs are stripped back they become even more beautiful than the originals. “Ramp Up The Bleeding” as a rock song is beautiful but in this minimal acoustic version the ache of the lyrics is amplified. I almost prefer this laid back version of the song and I want to hear Tim Steward croon more like this. His fractured ached performance in this song is backed beautifully by Skye’s vocals and all of the sublte flurries of percussion. When that flute hits, fuck, all I can say is that it becomes hard not be reduced to tears, it just cuts right through you. The EP is rounded out with the original version of “No Signs” and “Out Of The Woods” both of which come at the perfect spot to help give the final full stop to what has been an amazing year for the band.

On the surface, the lazy journalist will say that this is an odds and sods collection of tracks. Don’t believe that for a second, this is a vital companion to “Come Up Invisible” and you need to own this if you loved what We All Want To did on that album. The “No Signs” EP is a nod to the past and big nod to the future. It leaves me wondering what the band will do next. After hearing the amazing acoustic version of “Ramp Up The Bleeding” I’m left feeling that I’d love to hear more of that, but that is the beautiful thing about a band like We All Want To, they can do whatever the fuck they want because they are such accomplished songwriters. The future is a beautiful one for We All Want To and I look forward to hearing what happens with album number three.

10 Cassette Tapes Out Of 10

By: Dan Newton

Useful Links:

http://weallwantto.bandcamp.com/album/no-signs-ep

http://www.facebook.com/weallwantto

Review: “Come Up Invisible” by We All Want To

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If I ever had to explain to an alien what indie pop is I’d give him a copy of “Come Up Invisible” by We All Want To. In fact I’d give him a copy of anything by We All Want To because they make such great pop music, but that is just the general surface stuff. If you go deeper into the sound of “Come Up Invisible” you’ll hear an array of different influences on display including folk, shoegaze, punk rock and even hints of post rock. All of that journalism wank aside, the thing that really makes “Come Up Invisible” a great album is the fact that underneath all of it there are a bunch of really well written songs, perfectly and intricately crafted yet executed so effortlessly. Each individual song has a beautiful pace and they rise and fall so amazingly always putting the emotion at the front and centre of the communication. The music sways from track to track with a thematic buzz and lyrically we see a lot of different stories being presented. In the tradition of Bob Dylan these songs are full of rhythmic almost beat poetry lyrical attacks that form quite a unique melodic structure although the whole Zimmerman reference point only really sums up the spirit of the lyrics and melodies on display here.

While in parts the music is playful and fun loving, there is quite a big serious side to “Come Up Invisible” and it is quite a reflective movement of music. It doesn’t weigh you down though and even when it gets intense it still has a bright pop skill resurrecting the light and playful nature that I discussed earlier. The standout track is by far the opening number “Ramp Up The Bleeding” which is just a freedom run of the purest kind. It is so glorious and is the perfect introduction to the sweet swoons that follow. Another highlight is without a doubt “Where Sleeping Ends” which is one the most revealing songs ever written by Tim Steward. I’ve spent most of my history in awe of his songwriting and this song is no exception, beautifully communicated and without being too clichéd it reminds of everything I love about Brisbane. The centrepiece of the album though is the epic (and fuck I hate saying epic, but that is the only way to explain it) “Shine.” From the moment Skye opens her mouth to sing her song I’m in that vehicle with her, hanging on every single word and feeling my emotions rise and fall with the music. The final payoff at the end is the biggest and brightest ray of light I’d experienced in a long time, fuck it is glorious. It gave me the feeling that there is still good air to breathe in this world, and to be honest that is all I ever want music to do, make me feel beautiful.

These are only a few of the many highlights on display during the course of “Come Up Invisible” and I have to return to my previous sentiment that the album as a whole reminds me that there is good air to breathe. I know I’m repeating myself there, but fuck it, the damn phrase needs repeating when it comes to explaining how powerful the music of We All Want To is.  I could sit here and write a bunch of music journalist wank or I could report the truth and the truth of the matter is “Come Up Invisible” is a flawless album from a band that is only just beginning. The collective histories of each member have made this album the masterpiece that it is. It’s not a case of doing yourself a favour it is my instruction that you absolutely must own a copy of this album and then buy a copy for your mother and then your father and then for every single person you know. I’m just planting seeds really but one thing I do know for sure is that “Come Up Invisible” by We All Want To is good for your health.

God bless the fucking lot of them

10 cassette tapes out of 10

By: Dan Newton

Useful Links:

http://weallwantto.bandcamp.com/album/come-up-invisible

http://www.facebook.com/weallwantto

Review: “I Don’t Desire Your Empire” by The Androgyny

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The Androgyny make some seriously sweet noise, fuck it roars and I love nothing more than turning their music up to full volume, getting in my car and just chasing down my thoughts on the safety of a night drenched highway. The Androgyny play a mean collision of heartache rock n roll and riot grrrl screams with every note on their debut EP “I Don’t Desire Your Empire” being a direct hit to your heart. You can’t help but fall under the spell of their hypnotic noise rock and sticky as fuck pop skills. These choruses imprint themselves on your brain and they stay with you long after you press stop on the stereo. Each song feels conceptually linked on “I Don’t Desire Your Empire” with the song “Not Your Heroin” feeling like the centre piece. Singer and main songwriter of the band Tessa Richards delivers intense passion all throughout the EP and her rawness lyrically matches the intense hum of the music.  Over the course of writing this review I’ve had “Not Your Heroin” on repeat because it is such a classic rock n roll track, fuck it is cathartic. It has a firm middle finger to all the lameness that comes with relationship breakdowns and it just makes me want to scream “fuck you” to so many of my ex-lovers. The other star of this EP is of course bassist Emma Mallory who provides the Kim Deal coolness in the bottom end, really driving the drama of the songs home. My favourite track is “Make Her Tremble,” fuck it is so beautiful. The way it twists and turns and sails into a balls to the wall rock moment reminds me of a gothic Sleater-Kinney.

My excitement for this band makes it hard to sit down to write an objective review because quite simply I’m in love with every inch of the noise made by The Androgyny. There is nothing fake or forced in the sound of this band and I believe every second of it. Being a hopeless romantic I find that this music appeals to that side of me that consistently exists in the realm of the unrequited whilst at the same time it gives me the cathartic chill needed to escape the broken hearts and helps give me the space for a brand new start. The Androgyny make great music and it is only going to get better from here. When I listen to the band I can hear strength, the same kind of strength that an artist like PJ Harvey displays. The Androgyny deserves every bit of success that they get. Go and buy a copy of this EP and chase away the demons of all your ex-lovers. I can’t wait to witness this music live because I have a sneaking suspicion that it will totally dominate.

So what the fuck are you waiting for, do it. As their bio clearly states this is the all-girl three piece rock band you have waiting for. Hallelujah is all I can say, fucking finally.

10 cassette tapes out of 10

By: Dan Newton

Useful Links:

http://theandrogyny.bandcamp.com/album/i-dont-desire-your-empire

http://www.facebook.com/theandrogyny

Review: “Mouth” by The Sea Shall Not Have Them

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From the opening ambience of “Mouth” you are put into a moment of surrender. You just lean back into your comfortable chair and relax into the trance and hypnotic sways of the music. This is music that is given room to breathe and grow and as each track unfolds itself you find yourself drifting. The music propels you to float peacefully like a romantic night swim. You find yourself lying flat on your back staring up at the night sky and wishing for the aliens to come and take you home. It is incredibly tranquil stuff and it makes you want to cry. I found myself in state of wonder throughout the entire album, just musing on every inch of my romantic life but also looking forward into the crazy unknown darkness and light that is death. The music on “Mouth” birthed so much philosophy in my mind and it asked more questions than it answered. It felt like I had just made friends with a brand new human being that helped give purpose to those blank canvas moments I desire in life. This music is seriously spiritual and it is your own personal soundtrack to whatever deep emotional pain you are feeling. The band use beauty and bliss as opposed to angst and aggression to reach your soul and that is always refreshing no matter what decade you find yourself in. I could see universes beyond me and when I closed my eyes and turned the volume up my mind went to so many different dimensions. It got to the point where I felt as if I was floating above my body in a state of meditative bliss. I never felt lonely, I felt more connected to the world than I ever had and it gave me the clarity to feel at peace with myself. Listening to “Mouth” was indeed like a religious experience and in my exhausted sleep deprived state the final crescendos of the album helped give so much beauty to rising sun and cool breeze of the morning. I witnessed something change in myself and I wanted to hug strangers and forgive every asshole who had ever made me feel like an alien. The feeling channelled by The Sea Shall Not Have Them on “Mouth” is purely an exercise in the divine. You won’t just shiver, you’ll shake and you will fall deeper into yourself and by the time it ends you’ll be in state of pure relaxation and as Yoko said, love is relaxation.

This album will clear the black paint from your third eye and make you realise that music is not a product and shouldn’t be sold in that way. This album takes music back to a state of purity and it doesn’t matter what age or stage you are at, you need to buy this album. If you are already a believer in making art as opposed to commerce then it will re-enforce that importance, but if you are still caught in the throes of wanting to be a rock n roll star than perhaps this album will wash you clean of that redundant life cycle and give you the direction to your radical self and make you see the importance of making pure uncompromised music.

This album has no flaws and I think the best instruction I can give to anyone is to cancel all those Friday night and Saturday night “fuck yeah, party” plans and turn off every single light in your house, lay flat on the floor (no pillows or comfort enablers) and just surrender. This music could bring ultimate calm to earth and in the words of Bill that will give us the time to explore space, both inner and outer, in peace.

10 Cassette Tapes Out of 10

By Dan Newton:

http://theseashallnothavethem.bandcamp.com/releases

http://www.facebook.com/tssnhtband

Review: The Golden Bridge by No Anchor

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No Anchor is the greatest thing happening in Brisbane music right now. Liking this band won’t make you hip, won’t afford you any startfucking privileges, it won’t get you on Triple J, it won’t get you on some redundant festival circuit and it certainly won’t get you laid or paid. It will however make you smarter every second you spend listening to their music and you’ll soon find yourself wondering why you spent so much money on high recording budget marketing schemes when you can just get into a room, bash out some harsh sludge pop noise excursions and get good at being radical. Music this intense and beautiful can only ever be made by the well-adjusted and that is exactly what listening to No Anchor will do to you in return.

In November 2012 No Anchor released their 9th movement of noise called “The Golden Bridge” and it is without a doubt the sonic pain relief to all of the borecore sounds polluting our town.

Everything about this album is amazing; from start to finish it is pure audio perfection. It is intense, it is arty, it takes you on a journey and most of all it fucking rocks so damn hard. This is the album that any young Brisbane band should be listening too and working out either how to better it or at least rip it off. This is the album that deserves to have all of your kudos and praise and as result of the glorious noise being demonstrated on “The Golden Bridge” each member of the band deserves their own star in the motherfucking valley mall. This is the sound of music at its most pure.

How does it sound?

Fuck descriptions, you need to just follow the links and buy it and let the sludge wash over you and clean every trace of anything bland from your musical taste. Yeah, I guess you can compare it to the Melvins but only in its dedication to the bizarre and the heavy. I would describe the sound of “The Golden Bridge” as being disgustipated pop music  or better yet the best genre tag is either dronecore or sludge pop, I mean fuck I’m trying to invent genres for my own benefit but in reality this is just heavy metal. All I can come back to is if you consider yourself a fan of The Melvins or Sonic Youth then you will love every inch of this record. Did I mention Sunn O))) and Boris? If I didn’t then I will say these bands also play an important part in shaping the way “The Golden Bridge” communicates itself. Let me just say though, although I compare it to those bands doesn’t mean there is any ripping off happening. No Anchor have always been their own thing and “The Golden Bridge” illustrates that they most definitely have their own piece of the rock n roll language all to themselves.

Stop being lazy, stop being close-minded, stop believing in your fucking verses and chorus’ and do yourself a favour and get educated by the only band in Brisbane who I’d buy a t-shirt from. This is world-class sludge and in a world of vanilla fudge we need the fucking sludge. This is the death to everything borecore in the world. The best part is, this noise is made by two bass players and a drummer. Not a single jerk-off guitar player in sight. That in itself makes it a breath of fresh air.

So get radical and buy this album, it is flawless.

10 Cassette Tapes Out Of 10

By: Dan Newton

Useful Links:

http://noanchor.bandcamp.com/album/the-golden-bridge

http://www.facebook.com/noanchor

Review: “Winter Haunts” by The Rational Academy

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I know we are only two months into the year but I reckon that “Winter Haunts” by The Rational Academy will be the most beautiful album released by any Brisbane or Australian band in 2013. Across the course of nine sublime noise meditations The Rational Academy remind us why they are one of the most important bands in the history of the Australian music. I don’t really care what the popular belief is because quite frankly it’s wrong. The Rational Academy should be a subject taught to all the young folk attending Music College so that they can get an insight into how a real independent DIY band operates. They are that important to the cultural lexicon of Brisbane and Australian music and whether you’ve been a long-time fan or are just discovering them with “Winter Haunts” the time is always right to invest in The Rational Academy.

So what makes “Winter Haunts” so wonderful and important?

Well the easy answer is the great care that has gone into its creation but I reckon I need to go a bit deeper to sell you the spook. The music has a loose feel but there is also a strict pop discipline pulsating through every track. All of the musical experimentation and noise helps give context to the pop songs lurking underneath. It isn’t about showing off either skill, each song is a meeting place of extreme ideas condensed into smooth pop communications. You can tell that each band member is well versed in the history of music and the way it can influence your sonic dialogue. This is the album the band has been building too for their whole career and even though they have always been unique, the sounds that seduce you on “Winter Haunts” are their strongest yet. The album is a masterpiece of aches and shakes full of hypnotic swirls that take you away to landscapes of beauty and inter-dimensional time travel. This is inside music, to be consumed on your headphones alone, with the lights out as you contemplate every corner of your existence. As the title suggests it haunts and it is clearly coming from four haunted individuals who are collecting all of their internal worlds and through the power of music painting us a picture of their spooky shivers. This is indeed music for people who feel and who need to go deep when they invest in sound. There is not one bad moment contained throughout this album. To reduce it to even simpler terms, “Winter Haunts” gives me the same feeling that I get when I fall in love with a beautiful human being, that feverish feeling of being consumed with that famous Pisces prayer of “I love you so much, it makes me sick,” oh yes indeed you’ll crush hardcore on the sounds of this album.

So what the fuck are you waiting for, move, move, move and fucking buy this amazing piece of art and tell every single person you encounter about it.

The Rational Academy, may they live for a million years.

10 Cassette Tapes Out Of 10

By: Dan Newton

Useful Links:

http://therationalacademy.bandcamp.com/album/winter-haunts

http://www.facebook.com/therationalacademy

What is Alternative?

What is ‘Alternative Music’?

At the suggestion of my bandmate Tony, I’ve decided to discuss just how it is that we’ve come to a point in the musical landscape where someone can win Grammys for both ‘Best Alternative Music Album’ and ‘Best Pop Duo/Group Performance’ for the same record.

Yes, I’m talking about Gotye.

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I’ll admit to not being a fan of his work. ‘Somebody That I Used To Know’ is bland background music indebted to bad 80’s pop. Right, glad we got that out of the way.

So how do we define ‘alternative’ and ‘pop’?

In the truest and original senses of the words, ‘pop’ is short for ‘popular’. Popular Music, what the kids like, because they’ve been the biggest consumers of music since the advent of rock & roll in the 50’s.

‘Alternative’ is, well, an alternative to what is popular. In the early 90’s, the lines started to become blurred because bands that had been ‘alternative’ didn’t want to lose their ‘indie cred’ when they became popular, so they were marketed by their record labels as ‘alternative’ bands. Let’s face it, from the time ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ took off Nirvana were essentially a pop band. Cobain himself even admitted that. The style of music they played didn’t matter. What we called ‘alternative rock’ in the 90’s was actually just a subset of pop.

While the definition of “alternative” has been debated, the award was first presented in 1991 to recognize non-mainstream rock albums “heavily played on college radio stations”. According to the category description guide for the 52nd Grammy Awards, the award is presented to “vocal or instrumental alternative music albums containing at least 51% playing time of newly recorded music”, defining “alternative” as a “non-traditional” genre that exists “outside of the mainstream music consciousness”.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ – Grammy_Award_for_Best_Alternative_Music_Album

“Heavily played on college radio stations”. Stations that cater to what the kids want to hear. The Grammys define ‘alternative’ completely differently to the truest sense of the word. If you want to think about this in an Australian context, college radio is most similar to community radio. Presenters choose their own content. It’s music played for mostly young people, by mostly young people. Forget Triple J, where the presenters have almost no say over the music that gets played.

So given the context that college radio in the States is similar to say, 4ZZZ, how is it that Gotye can win both ‘Best Alternative Music Album’ and ‘Best Pop Duo / Group Performance’ for the same record? A non-mainstream rock album heavily played on college radio, and a mainstream pop record? ‘Somebody That I Used To Know’ was actually number 1 in the 4ZZZ Hot 100 in 2011, nearly 2 years before it won a Grammy for ‘Best Pop Duo/Group Performance’, and as part of the album that won ‘Best Alternative Music Album’.

For argument’s sake, let’s assume (given that I can’t be bothered researching exact figures and dates) that ‘Somebody That I Used To Know’ was also played heavily on US college radio before it got picked up by mainstream radio in the states. The song starts out as an ‘alternative’ hit, and is then picked up by mainstream radio, propelling it into almost every home in the States. By the time the Grammy’s roll around, EVERYONE loves the song, and it’s now essentially eligible for both the ‘alternative’ and ‘pop’ categories.

Let’s look at the list of acts who have won the ‘Best Alternative Music Album’ category since its inception in 1991:

1991:  Sinead O’Connor
1992:  R.E.M.
1993:  Tom Waits
1994:  U2
1995:  Green Day
1996:  Nirvana
1997:  Beck
1998:  Radiohead
1999:  Beastie Boys
2000:  Beck
2001:  Radiohead
2002:  Coldplay
2003:  Coldplay
2004:  The White Stripes
2005:  Wilco
2006:  The White Stripes
2007:  Gnarls Barkley
2008:  The White Stripes
2009:  Radiohead
2010:  Phoenix
2011:  The Black Keys
2012:  Bon Iver
2013:  Gotye

With the exception of Phoenix, who I’m not familiar with (sorry Phoenix), I couldn’t class any of these bands as ‘alternative’ in the true sense of the word. All have been incredibly popular throughout the course of their careers, and most have enjoyed a large amount of airplay on mainstream radio. Granted, most of these acts have slogged it out early in their careers. I certainly don’t begrudge Gotye the success he’s seeing now, he’s paid his dues. Once upon a time his music could have been classed as ‘alternative’, since it wasn’t widely played, but once millions of people start buying your records, I’m sorry, you’re now a pop act. Most of these bands won ‘Best Alternative Music Album’ for their mainstream breakthrough records. Obvious exceptions are U2, R.E.M., Tom Waits, Nirvana and anyone who’s won it more than once.

So, what does the Grammy for ‘Best Alternative Music Album’ really mean? Maybe it should be renamed ‘Best Music Album By Formerly Alternative Act’? But where does U2 fit into that? They were huge already.
If you look at the list of winners of the ‘Best Alternative Music Album’ Grammy, ‘Alternative’ essentially means ‘hip’ (yes, even U2 were hip in their ‘Achtung Baby/Zooropa’ phase). Most of these artists could have been in the ‘pop’ category as well, since being nominated for a major awards ceremony by default means you’re popular enough to be well known, or mainstream. So ‘pop’ is what the kids like, and ‘alternative’ is what the hip kids like.
‘Best Popular Music Album That Has Indie Cred’ sounds like the most appropriate title for the award to me.

So kudos to Gotye for being a mainstream success and maintaining his indie cred.

That song’s still shit.

By Clint Morrow

Phebe Starr – Unearthed Artist Interview

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Arm outstretched, she invites. Each sequin vibrates, shimmering under the neon stage lights as the sounds of synth and drum beats reverberate from the walls. From the second her voice pierces the air, you are hit with a range of sensations, all combining to bring me to one conclusion. Phebe Starr is no ordinary performer.

It is impossible not to turn into a pin cushion of goose bumps when I listen to Phebe. The way she both jitters and glides around the stage is a beautiful juxtaposition. From start to finish, this young Sydney artist takes you on a journey that is powerful, haunting and a little bit quirky. Combining electronic samples, synthesiser beats and layered effects with her vocals, she creates an atmosphere that must be experienced to be understood.

Dressed in an assortment of sequins, a flowing black cape and leather boots, Phebe is the epitome of quirk chic.

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One particular moment that stood out to me during the set was Phebe’s cover of the Cure’s ‘Let’s go to Bed’, which was nothing short of magic. Breathtaking, powerful, violently passionate; there is a story to be heard in everything she sings.

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Those of us at Heavy and Weird are always on the lookout for new and exciting Australian artists, and when I saw that Phebe was to perform at Brisbane’s ‘The Zoo’ this month, I knew immediately that I needed to interview her. I’ve been following her journey since watching her perform 2 years ago at a small tavern in NSW, and it is great to see her going from strength to strength.

Phebe has recently toured with artists such as ‘Ball Park Music’, ‘Of Monsters and Men’ and ‘Stars’, and is also a ‘Triple J Unearthed Feature Artist’. Her single ‘Alone with You’ has soared to almost 26,000 views and she is about to embark on some incredible international tours later this year.

Surprisingly, Phebe and I actually went to the same school in the coastal NSW town Coffs Harbour, yet we had never met before our interview. Speaking backstage after the show, I was pleasantly surprised to see how down to earth, funny and intelligent this talented young woman was.

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Seated at a little spotty plastic table in the backyard of ‘The Zoo’, I sat down with Phebe to talk about what it’s like performing with mainstream artists, backstage shenanigans, joking around with Ben Folds Five, and… dinosaurs.

JS: Phebe, how did you think your show went tonight?

PS: The ‘Stars’ tour has been really good; it’s a different crowd to what I thought it would be. It’s so cool being on bigger tours and opening for bands that you heard of when you were younger. It’s always hard opening though, because people don’t really know who you are.

JS: You’ve recently toured with some big names like Stars, Ball Park Music and Of Monsters and Men – is there one act that has been your favourite to play with?

PS: Ben Folds! I know it’s nothing like my music, but I used to listen to his music all the time when I was younger. I’d play piano in high school and listen to his music and sing ‘Adelllaaiddee’. And then I was hanging out with him!

You always think ‘One day I’ll meet this person’, and then it happens and you’re like ‘What!’ I can’t believe that happened!’

JS: Was Ben Folds what you expected?

PS: Yeah, he was cool. I was a bit nervous! (laughs)

JS: Did you turn into a fan girl when you saw him?

PS: Yeah I did! I was all like ‘Ahhh!’ (laughs). One of my friends was having a baby and she loves his stuff, so I got him to write her a message. He wrote, “Don’t worry, the pregnancy will be over soon!” That was really cool.

JS: You must have some awesome backstage stories up your sleeve by now too?

PS: Yeah I reckon! I can’t think of any at the moment, but there’s always crazy stuff happening. On this tour actually – like stuff always goes wrong, anything that can go wrong will – we were loading into one of the venues in Sydney, and somehow I locked the keys in the car, with the motor running, with all the gear in the car!

JS: I didn’t even know that was possible! How on earth did you lock your keys in with the car running?

PS: I don’t know (laughs). But it was 5 minutes til sound check…I was like ‘NOOOOO!’

So yeah, stuff like that. It’s pretty funny.

JS: Oh wow, that sounds tough. I was actually interested to know whether there were any really tough gigs that you’ve had along the way?

PS: Oh man, SO many tough gigs.

JS: I know that even well-established artists can have things go wrong, so I guess it happens to us all. What would be your toughest gig so far?

PS: It’s always pretty tough when you’re supporting, because people aren’t there to see you. I love when people do come early because it’s such a blessing.

People are ruthless when you’re supporting their favourite band. They’re like, ‘Come on! Get the real music on!’ I think that’s the hardest. They might not be into your style of music…

It’s a battle. Every gig is a battle (laughs). You’re always trying to win people over.

JS: Do you just try to put on a mask when you’re onstage and perform without worrying about what people might be thinking? Or do you have moments where you look out into the crowd and feel a bit bummed if you see someone who isn’t really listening?

PS: When I perform I try and remember what it was I was feeling when I wrote the song. So I try and go back there, if that makes sense? I’m trying to give that story to people, so I think that is the most important part. Like the other night – I was so tired but I really want people to experience the emotion that I felt when I wrote the song. That’s the part of music that’s really sacrificial. You’re like, ‘I’m going to give you this, even if you don’t like it’.

JS: It’s kind of like self-satisfaction though right? Because you’re getting to do what you love and you’re sharing your story…

PS: Yeah, it’s very honest.

JS: It must still be hard at the same time, but from what I saw tonight people seemed to be really into the show. Just so you know, my friend came along tonight for ‘Stars’ but after hearing you he thinks you’re awesome!

PS: YAY! That makes me feel good. We’ve done 2 tours this week, and it’s still a new set up, so I’ve been so tired. The set-up we have is pretty technical, and you can’t rush it. Usually we play with a whole band, but this is a new duo.

JS: I read you usually play with 2 drummers and 2 synth players!

PS: Yeah, depending on the line up we usually do. This has been a last minute cram and I think it’s hardest when you feel so overworked and tired. It’s all intense emotion pouring out all the time and you don’t have any alone time. It’s taxing but it’s still a dream come true, so I can’t complain. Plus we just did a video clip.

JS: Wow that’s great! Was that for Jurrasica?

PS: Yeah it was. Hopefully it’s coming out really soon.

JS: I thought it was cute that you named your new single ‘Jurrassica’ because I know that you love dinosaurs. Was it a conscious decision to incorporate something ‘dinosaurish’ into your music?

PS: It’s cool how you know that I like dinosaurs! People haven’t asked me about that in a while.

Not exactly…The way that I write is kind of different to how I think other people might write. I always get a word, or a feeling, or this vibe about something and then I write the song backwards.

I come up with a concept before it’s there, and then I think about how to create that feeling again through a song – does that make sense? With Jurrassica I was on the bus and I just had this moment and the word came to me. I was like, ‘Are you serious? That’s such a corny thing!’ (laughs). I thought it was really kitsch. But I don’t know, it was just born. I didn’t understand it at the time but I just journalled ‘jurrassica’ for the next month, and all of these things came from there. Jurrassica is a battle between yourself, your flesh.

One day I was with a friend and I just blurted something out, and afterwards I was like ‘Why did I say that? I didn’t mean to say that’. There’s that monster in all of us, and we all do things we regret. So the song is me trying to get away from that side of me.

JS: That’s really interesting, because I wasn’t sure whether it was meant to be a song a long term relationship.

PS: Well, I guess it could be if you wanted it to be!

JS: So, were you one of those kids that grew up watching ‘The Land Before Time’?

PS: Totally!

JS: My brother and I used to watch it all the time, but when we got to about 15 we looked back on it and went, ‘Wow…the graphics are really… crap’ (laughs).

PS: Yeah, and it was a bit boring. “Littlefoot!” “Shutup!” (laughs). That was totally me. I think it was just cool how I’m into dinosaurs and Jurrassica came about. I love the quirkiness of dinosaurs. The story behind it though is very deep, all of my songs are really personal.

JS: Going back to all those years ago when you first moved to Sydney to start your career, how would you say your music, and your sense of self, has developed?

PS: It’s always been a journey, even before I moved to Sydney. Even back in the country towns I was trying to make it happen. It’s crazy how if you set out to do something, to make something happen, you end up becoming that person. It’s funny because you romanticise about how great it’s all going to be, but when you get there there’s actually a lot of responsibility and hard work. It’s been really good.

I’m really thankful to start playing some big shows, and it’s really crazy to see the evolution. Setting goals and then doing them – it’s a weird feeling. I just get shocked that people like my music! It’s so honest, and I guess there’s that fear of rejection. I feel I’ve come to a point where I’m comfortable sharing now.

JS: So in the beginning were you a bit more reserved?

PS: A little. I think I had to grow into myself. Especially performing. I’ve always been a terrible dancer, but now I’m just free. I do what I want, and it’s great.

JS: You look really comfortable onstage…

PS: Yeah, I feel comfortable. It’s just that evolution of getting to that point. I’m always surprised when people feel what I wanted them to feel in a song. It’s so weird when that happens.

JS: What’s coming up for Phebe Starr in 2013?

PS: So much! I’m going to be dropping an EP soon, and the video clip for Jurrassica comes out really soon. There’s a lot of works in progress. The next few months are going to be really jam packed. We’re coming back here with Strange Talk next month, and I’m going to the US to do some tours.

JS: That’s so exciting!

PS: Yeah, we’re going to be there for a month. I’m excited to release more music!

If you’re intrigued and want to find out more about this amazing young songwriter, you can check her out at:

http://www.youtube.com/user/phebestarr

http://www.soundcloud.com/phebestarr

http://www.facebook.com/phebestarrmusic

By Jas Swilks (words and photos)

Live Review: Jakarta Criers – Black Bear Lodge 13/02/13

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It is a Wednesday night and the Black Bear Lodge is filled with the sounds of up and coming Australian artists. An intimate collection of music lovers filter into the venue, quickly filling the small candle-lit tables and booths. Vintage clocks and paintings adorn the patchy brick walls, and a velvet red curtain provides the perfect backdrop for the bands. It is my first visit to the lodge, and I am instantly intrigued by its textures and comfortable in the homey, relaxed atmosphere.

Getting to the venue early was a good idea, as the lodge soon begins to fill with people of all ages, from young twenty-something’s to older couples. Snagging a booth seat by the front of the stage I sit down with an apple cider and my camera, and get ready for Jakarta Criers.

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Bandito Folk (photo by Jasmine Swilks Photograpy)

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Rin and The Reckless (photo by Jasmine Swilks Photograpy)

The night starts with two amazing support acts, ‘Bandito Folk’ and ‘Rin and The Reckless’. Bandito Folk, a local Brisbane band whose keyboard player Aled is perhaps one of the happiest musicians I’ve ever seen, were a great blend of folky ballads and rock. Meanwhile Rin and The Reckless, a brilliant Adelaide band who have played with both national and international artists, delivered a gorgeous pop-indie set.  Lead singer/guitarist/keyboardist Rin has a husky, honest voice that reminds me of a mix between Jem, Missy Higgins and Adele.

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Jakarta Criers (photo by Jasmine Swilks Photograpy)

Following on from these two brilliant bands is Jakarta Criers, who begin their set with a shrill electric riff that breaks through the silence, building steadily to a crescendo. For a couple of guys dressed in relaxing tropical shirts, Jakarta Criers play with a ferocity that suggests they are definitely not in holiday mode. Onstage they appear like a group of boys messing around in their garage, full of infectious excitement. Similarly, lead guitarist Seaton Fell-Smith is a sight not to be missed. Barefoot, he attacks his instrument with a ferocity that is akin to watching a fisherman fighting an aggressive fish. Struggling, giving, coming back for more; he fights for control of his instrument. It reminds me of a quote I heard many years ago of synth player Ollie Mcgills from The Cat Empire, whose band mates described his passionate performances in the following way:

“It’s like his keyboard is a train, and his hands are trapped in the carriage and he’s trying to keep up. The faster he plays, the easier it is.”

During the set I move around freely, taking photos of the bands without having to worry about aggressive or drunken patrons pushing me around; taking in the music as I simultaneously snap away. Around me there is plenty of enthusiastic nodding and toe-tapping from the audience as they watch on eagerly, especially during Jakarta Criers boppy rock tracks ‘Maybe’ and ‘Peeking Duck’.

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Jakarta Criers (photo by Jasmine Swilks Photograpy)

To describe their sound, I would say that musically they remind me of a mix between Something For Kate, Birds of Tokyo and the Lost Dinosaurs, delivering a blend of indie rock which is full of lively electric riffs, catchy choruses and nostalgic vocals. There is also something about the tone of lead vocalist James Walker’s voice that reminds me of Paul Dempsey, leaving me with a beautiful nostalgia that I can’t quite place.

As the set comes to a close, the guys pack up their instruments and wander down towards the bar. Another great thing about the Black Bear Lodge is because of its small structure, it creates a very intimate and comfortable environment where you can easily stop and say hi to any of the artists and maybe even have a chat as they come off stage. I really believe that venues like this are important to our city, and give audiences and artists the chance to connect on a more personal level. I will definitely be back to check out more live music there soon!

To see more photo’s from the night please go to:

https://www.facebook.com/#!/media/set/?set=a.10151307968182106.461684.14301207105&type=1&notif_t=like

By Jas Swilks

Useful Links:

Jakarta Criers – www.facebook.com/Jakartacriers
Rin and The Reckless – www.facebook.com/rin.and.the.reckless
Bandito Folk – www.facebook.com/Banditofolk

Review: “Push The Sky Away” by Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds

Push_the_Sky_Away

What the hell are doing reading this review I ask you, you should be going out to your closest record store and buying this album?

That is my honest thoughts when I sit down to write about the new album from Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds “Push The Sky Away” – you really should stop listening to what I have to say or anyone for that matter and just go and buy it. Sacrifice that money you put aside for some redundant social activity and buy it, listen to it, turn the lights off and just succumb to the sounds contained across the 43 minutes of music communicated on this album. Don’t re-think, don’t dabble in “well should I or shouldn’t I” just fucking do it and do it now, find a way to get this album as soon as you can. Don’t waste your time with the fickle internal conversations of “will I like his new stuff better than his old stuff” or “I’m a first timer, is this the best place to start” just silence all of that dialogue and just buy it and do it now I tell you. Don’t download it, don’t illegally acquire it find that $20 and move move move until you have it and then sit still and be silent and let the music wash over you so that you can feel the freedom of “Push The Sky Away” – yes, you have to act now.

This album will set you free and it will put you in a trance. Its romantic sway will have you in a state of absolute bliss with only your head nodding slowly to the swoon and heartache grooves beaming from your speakers and or headphones. From the moment it starts “Push The Sky Away” is a vehicle of blue ray sunshine and you’ll look at your important schedule of nothing to be somewhere turn to a crumbling mess of “well where am I?” and you won’t have time to resurface for anything other than pushing play on your stereo device over and over again. These songs are heartbreak hymns about the beautiful mysterious muse who stalks you and you won’t find resolve only a deeper longing for the rapture of her beautiful face. Any pollution you’ve saturated your soul in will be washed away and you will feel as clean as a beautiful blank canvas with your heart ready for a new season of ceremonial crushes. The songs will help you remember the one you lost, the one you let get away and the one you are currently silently stalking with your buried pleas of explosive sighs that only keep you awake at night. This album will keep you bathed in the stars as you lay awake at night thinking of her, just thinking and thinking until you slip off into sleep only to wake to the piercing stain of the morning sun that serves to crucify your numbness trading it for a brand new look at how far away she really is from understanding how much you need her to be there lying beside you. Oh yes, believe me when I say that this album is a beautiful religious experience and meditation on the ache and after years of talking about it being all throughout his music, Nick Cave has finally delivered us a movement of music that perfectly captures his philosophy on the importance of the love song.

“Push The Sky Away” is the perfect cultural artefact for us to worship in 2013 when the love song has been taken over and held captive by emptiness and the minds of weak individuals. This is the album to help provide us salvation from the nonsense and the noise of the self-indulgent musicians polluting our universe. In 2013, only Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds are capable of making love songs for the 21st Century and you’d be foolish not to surrender into this blanket of bliss and to let the noise of it all bring you a comfort that only comes from the shiver of the divine.

So what the fuck are you doing still reading this? Go now and get your copy of “Push The Sky Away” by Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds.

Amen

10 cassette tapes out of 10

By Dan Newton

 

My Top Eleven Albums – Part One – The Introduction

high-fidelity

Well I took the time to sit down and sort out my top eleven bands of all time back when I started this blog (https://heavyandwierd.wordpress.com/2012/10/18/my-top-eleven-bands-and-artists-of-all-time-volume-two-the-final-list/) so I thought now was the right time to sit down and work out my top eleven albums of all time. I own over 2000 albums in my collection so there is a lot to choose from and I plan to post you my shortlist in part two of this blog.

For now though, I’d like you to listen to this:

Stay tuned for the shortlist

By Dan Newton

The Male Feminist – Part Two – The Start of My Journey

henryfinger

Before you read any further you have to watch this video. It is vital to understanding part two of this blog. So sit back, relax and listen to this important community announcement courtesy of John Lennon:

Now I’d like to post this wonderful quote from Yoko Ono from the 2011 issue of rolling stone where she talks about her ten favourite John Lennon songs:

“Mother” 1970

“A very intense song that came from primal scream. Women have played a big role in the human race. We created it, actually, between our thighs. John was coming out and saying “Mother, I need you.” He recognised the power and important position of woman in society.”

Yoko Ono – 2011

Now I’d like you to listen to the song “Mother” and listen to what I believe is one of the greatest songs released by John Lennon:

So what does this all mean?

Well I felt this was a perfect introduction to part two of this blog which will help give a bit of light to my journey from boy, to teenager and to man and how my relationship with woman has influenced my life and why I feel that the sentiment of John Lennon’s song “Woman is The Nigger Of The World” is still a true statement in 2013.

So perhaps I better start from the beginning.

I was born in 1983 in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia and in terms of pop culture I’m referred to as belonging to Generation Y. I was the second child to Brian and Aileen Newton and was baptised appropriately as a Catholic. I belonged to a rather large clan of Irish Catholics on my mother’s side of the family – Mum’s surname was O’Rourke – and I also had an equally large extended family on my Dad’s side. Family was the centre of my existence at that young age and my earliest memories are of the joy and community and love of the family unit, both the core and extended. It was my earliest encounter with love and although it was clouded in the innocence that surrounds you when you’re aged zero to twelve it was a very happy time for the most part. In 1987 my sister Genevieve was born. Unfortunately she passed away three weeks later as a result of the terrible illness known as sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Over those three weeks when she was alive I remember being so ecstatic and although I was only very young I can still remember her and the thrill of being the older brother to her. I had so much love for her and would always do my best to help Mum with the daily “new baby” chores. I remember when she would cry and I’d go in and try and comfort her. I felt a connection to my little sister and with adult hindsight I can look fondly on that short moment spent with her. Her passing left a hole in my life and it wasn’t until much later in my life that I saw just what that did to my relationships with woman and my interaction with them. Trying to understand death at such a young age and having your experience of your sister changed from the beautiful baby girl to visits to cemeteries really unlocked my questioning my mind. I surmise that moment as the death of the innocence for me and the moment I started to birth intensity and a habit for deep thinking.  We moved to Mackay not long after that (1988) and for me that was something that scared me. Leaving behind all of those secure units of love, the main one being my Nana, and having to re-establish in a place so far away really only did more to extend and remove me from my innocence, this was when my mind was opened up to the terrible curse of fear.

The second thing I was heartbroken about leaving behind was the first in a long line of girls that I had a strong connection with. Her name was Michaela and we had been friends for at least two years. Her mother was friends with my Mum and we did that whole playgroup to kindergarten transition. I don’t know what it was about Michaela but she was my best friend. We did everything together and I think what I loved about it was the notion that it was so different to my interaction with the boys. I always felt alienated from that whole male bonding thing and while all of the boys in those playgroups to kindergarten days were interested in playing sports and other things like that, I was interested in hanging out with Michaela and the girls. I was deeply fascinated with how uncompetitive it was and how they generally would either just talk about things or do something creative.  These were two things I would learn to love even more as I grew up, communication and art, and I think for the most part it was the way in which it wasn’t competitive that suited me. I was a larger child so sport was never going to suit me. So Michaela and I spent a lot of time together and they are memories I cherish. One thing I remember strongly was when we announced to our parents that we were going to get “married.” The reason this idea had been planted in our heads was because Michaela’s Uncle got married to my Aunty, so we attended that wedding. As four year olds do, we assumed that when a boy and a girl liked each other they got “married.” So we told people we were “married.” It was a heartbreaking thing to leave Brisbane and leave my best friend behind.

The reason why this early memory is so significant is because it mirrors experiences I’ve had throughout my life and my fascination and the safety felt in the company of woman. Throughout my primary school days I had male friends but it was always my relationship with the girls that I remember and the way they made me feel. It was as I said safety. There was no competition or ego or macho bullshit. It was filled with great conversation and great listening and a lot of imagination. It wasn’t the mindless exercise of sport at lunch time, it was talking about stuff. I loved being a part of that and was always so in awe of the way these girls were so plugged in to what was happening both in pop culture and in life. They seemed to have all of this insight that I never got from my male friends. Because I liked music and movies and basically non-sport things, my interests in the primary school years matched those of the girls I was friends with. I brought the magazines they read and I indulged in all of that. I even kept a diary, because of the way they all talked about keeping a diary. This was my first introduction to writing and collecting my thoughts and allowing the privacy of my mind a place to be expressed. I was in the drama clubs and enjoyed partaking in the school musicals, I was no good but it was an excuse to spend time with all of the amazing minds of these girls. I can’t keep coming back to this point enough, but there was a freedom and an equality and a safety to the girls I had as friends throughout my primary school days. It wouldn’t be until much later in my twenties that I realised that a lot of this was me subconsciously dealing with the hole left by the death of my sister. This makes a lot of sense because I never once participated in these friendships with girls with the mindset of trying to get some kind of intimacy. Not then, not in my teen years and not now. I felt like woman understood me and lot of this comfort with girls / woman came from me yearning for my sister and the lifetime of “what if’s” that her passing birthed.

This brings me to a life changing moment that occurred for me in 1995 when I was in grade seven at Emmanuel College in Mackay. I was 11 going on 12 and like all human beings I was in the throes of the confusing mindfuck of puberty. This was the third primary school that I had attended during my time in Mackay (1988 to 1996) and this was my second year at this particular school. I was very close with two girls in particular, Lisa and Lara. In our class, we sat up the back, all three of our desks in a line with me in the middle and Lisa and Lara either side of me. We were very close friends and shared a lot. This was a time when boys started to notice girls, the whole hormonal change that occurs. So a lot of my male friends saw Lisa and Lara as these interesting new objects that no longer would give them “girl germs” I guess they became desirable objects to the boys. A lot of the conversations amongst my male friends started to change and instead of ignoring the girls, it became almost a sport for them to point out things like breasts and all of that pre-teen fascination with the opposite sex. As a boy moving into a man I could also relate to this but my attraction to these girls was always based on how they made me feel, how our conversations would last for hours and we would talk so deep about anything and everything. I was rather green when it came to the dynamics of puberty. I had heard a little bit about it from my parents and those “education” programs they put us through at school. All in all it made me feel a bit uncomfortable, still to this day I feel like the whole sex thing and a person’s desires should remain private, so I felt confronted by a lot of that talk. Lisa and Lara however were deep in the throes of puberty and I still remember the day that they educated me on the difference between what happens to girls and what happens to boys. When they plugged me into what happens to woman during puberty and the change they go through I remember being incredibly crippled with guilt and remember saying to them, but why does that happen to you, that sounds so cruel and so wrong. It confused me quite a bit and I remember having them tell me how terrifying those changes were for them. It was one of those moments where I started to think long and hard how this is something that all woman go through and just how it was some cruel sick joke courtesy of something higher that they were made to suffer in that way. If my innocence was knocked prior to this, it was shattered to pieces after this chat with Lara and Lisa. As that year wore on and they become more immersed in those changes, both girls would have these code words to signal to me that they were going through the whole “time of the month” experience. Those were days where I did my best to comfort them, I honestly felt helpless by the whole situation. My male instinct was to try and fix it somehow, so I spent a lot of those lunch hours in the library with them just listening to them talk about the intense emotional dramas they were going through. I started a tradition on those days where I would make sure I had the money to buy us all rainbow paddle pops and we’d find the shadiest tree on the oval and just sit underneath it and talk about our emotions. This was also the time when I was given full access to the total imbalance to how some men view this experience. I remember very clearly hearing all of the boys in my class say things like “She’s on her fucking rags” and other such insults. It broke my heart to hear such lack of understanding to what I was viewing as a cruel life experience for these girls to be going through. I had a lot of secrets confided in me during that time and as time wore on I grew closer to Lara who really had a hard time adjusting to this new existence. Lisa and I remained close but she started to get the attention of my male classmates who grew fascinated by her breasts and the fact that she had started shaving her legs, which was another part of this post puberty world that I had no idea about. I still remember having Lisa say to me that she has to shave her legs because that is what the boys like. This again confused me, the amount of pain and emotional anguish that was birthing for the girls around me on a monthly basis now required them to stress and invest in these vanities and society driven expectations of what a post-puberty female must adhere too in order to appear appealing to men. It just all really fucked with me and for a long time made me feel ashamed that males didn’t have the same levels of intensity lumped on them.

From here, my teen years got even more confusing. I mean I grew more comfortable with the idea of what was happening to my female friends but it was only a comfort that existed with the whole idea of “well that is the cycle of life.” In 1997 we moved to Bundaberg and I had to start again. A new school, alienation and of course trying to find out where I fit. Once again it was the friendship of a few select girls that I met through Drama class that helped me feel comfortable and apart of the world again. I won’t walk you through my high school years because I feel it is unimportant to the point I was building too. High School saw me meet my two best friends in the world, Dave and Todd. These were two dudes who felt as alienated me from everything that was happening around them. We remain friends to this day with Todd playing in Galapogos.

So anyway, the point I was trying to illustrate was the way in which I saw the clear divide and change once this post-puberty world kicked in during 1995 and moving into 1996. The way the boys started to treat the girls and how some girls embraced this and others felt uncomfortable with the attention thrown on them. I also witnessed the alienation lumped on some girls I was friendly with because they didn’t develop according to what my Male classmates saw as attractive or “hot.” The way in which some of the boys would treat these girls and the way they would refer to them in conversation were so barbaric and brutal. It broke my heart to witness and it was made all the more confusing when some of the luckier girls (at least in physical appearance) also joined in, some of the same girls who had confided in me earlier about how terrified they were by their changing body. It just all put me into a confused state of being. The conversations between me and the girls changed, they saw me as a confidant and they were now sharing secrets of the risky positions they had put themselves in with both boys in my grade (grade 8) and older boys they had encountered at parties. I was floored by how far these guys would go just to touch some “tit” and I guess that protective big brother vibe kicked in. I saw how so many of these girls didn’t want to put themselves in these situations and how they felt like pieces of meat to the attention being show towards them. I remember how upset and scared they were but also thinking how these guys had such a hold over them. In the schemes and dreams of social hierarchy, by being with these guys it afforded these girls some level of success. If these girls refused these guys in those moments, they would call them fidget or a prude or even worse, a stupid slut. When my world was opened to these private relationships of the girls and boys I was just internally upset by how some people who I thought were good people would act in the pursuit of getting a girl and touching some “tit” (this was a phrase used a lot back in 1996).

This confusion continued to follow me deeper into my teens and into my twenties. I saw some great woman get treated badly by men who faked it until they could touch some “tit” and of course as we got older, a whole lot more. More and more I was confided in by my female friends who were so scared
of these men who were pursuing them. I felt helpless as a man because you see as a man I never presented as a threat to these men that would hunt these women, they didn’t see me as a “cock block” and I saw in my twenties the feverish lengths some Men would go to in order to secure sex from a woman. One particular story that comes to mind is a friend of mine who was an artist. She was incredibly talented and one night she had a fellow turn up to her exhibition to purchase some artwork. He invited her back to his place where she noticed photos on the wall of an ex-partner of hers. From here he seduced her and after the moment occurred he actively told her that the only reason he went to the exhibition was because he knew how “easy” she was. She later found out that a few of her ex-partners in the art world had made this quite apparent to more than a few males who used the same tact when approaching her at art exhibitions, all of them, each one of them stating an interest in her art and then after the sexual favour was done, they would move on and show no interest. This wasn’t a footy club this was the art world and I was floored at how this same macho backslapping and “tap that ass” mentality was polluting the minds of men in the art world. This was another point in my life where I felt so confused and helpless as to how to interpret this behaviour but as I’ve aged I think it became clearer and clearer to me that gender equality in this modern era is extinct and is an argument that needs to be resurrected.

Looking back on my history, I can see that a lot of these gender equality issues start to occur from those early stages of puberty and how males interact with females during this time. On a really basic level, and based on my experience, woman go through both emotional and physical pain and in the spirit of “society” and its expectations they have to groom parts of their body in order to appeal to men. Further to this, they have to put themselves into positions where they become objects of desire for Men who don’t have the emotional maturity to enter into an intimate relationship. I’m not denying how confusing it is for both boys and girls during this time, but I’m still convinced that women have it worse than men in terms of the emotional and physical changes. Instead of interacting with those changes with compassion, Men interact with lust and a hunger that drives a small percentage to do anything possible to get it, from emotional manipulation to physical harm. It is a time when a girl is the most vulnerable but this vulnerability does not mean they are weak. Like all change, it requires someone to issue understanding and instead of chasing “tit” more boys should be encouraged to listen and understand and issue compassion instead of lust. Instead of separating the experience that males and females go through in this puberty stage we need to find the space to communicate openly in order to help each other develop emotional intelligence. We as adults need to set that example and to illustrate to them that the importance of compassion and understanding. Educating young people during these changes about sex is all fine and dandy but what really needs to be taught is for how to conduct a successful and meaningful relationship and the importance of communication and listening. Young people need to be shown how sex is not the important part of the relationship, that the friendship and the connection of two people is what allows for sex to be conducted successfully. That sex is the communication of love, not lust. In hindsight, this is what I think needed to be taught to me and my classmates back in 1995 and 1996. That is a life lesson more important than anything else. Women are not objects and Men are not objects. We are all human beings who deserve compassion, respect and understanding.

This all being said, it is still my experience that Woman is the Nigger of the world and our work is not done in helping to birth full gender equality. I hope part two of my blog has shed some light on my journey. This is only the beginning of the topic and in part three of this five part series I will explore the themes touched on in this blog even deeper.

Time for you to take five.

By Dan Newton

The Male Feminist – Part One – An Introduction

henryfinger

I have been writing this particular blog post for the past three months. I have attacked it from many different points of view and I have done the appropriate research in order to put focus on what I plan to communicate. I think like music the best way to write is to make sure that you keep it simple and to ensure that you really analyse exactly what you are trying to communicate. So after sitting down and collecting my paragraphs and different points of views I decided that I simply wanted to tell my story and interaction with feminism and how I identify as a male feminist. To break it down to an even simpler level I am essentially planning to discuss my commitment for striving for gender equality in this world.

Before I dive into this topic I just want to ensure that everyone understands where I am coming from and why I have sat down to write about this topic and my personal relationship with it. First and foremost I am a human being who does not believe in titles or putting me into a minority in order to illustrate my history. I don’t believe in the left or the right and I have no time for the middle. I see the importance of the full circle and all spectrums of thought. To plug into any kind of truth I need to know the enemy who threatens what I believe before I can even attempt to engage the change I desire. It is important for you to know that when I introduce myself to anyone I don’t believe in describing or spelling out my soul by using the limitations of titles. Everyone who is alive and breathing is equal. I am not a man, a woman, a musician, an artist, a poet, a journalist, a smoker, a non-smoker, a drinker, a feminist, a white man, a black man, a Chinese man, a homosexual, a heterosexual, a feminist, a misogynist, a sexist, a criminal, a liar, a lawyer, a police officer, a manager, a boss, an employee, an employer, a catholic, a Christian, a Muslim, a Hindu, a Jew, an Atheist, an Agnostic, a comedian, a scientist, a priest, a rabbi, a shaman, a humanist, a clairvoyant, a psychic or a singer. I am just a human being who believes in experiencing new things and if I have a mission statement or cycle of belief it would be aligned with these words from Bill Hicks:

All matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration – that we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively. There’s no such thing as death, life is only a dream, and we’re the imagination of ourselves. The world is like a ride in an amusement park, and when you choose to go on it you think it’s real because that’s how powerful our minds are. The ride goes up and down, around and around, it has thrills and chills, and it’s very brightly coloured, and it’s very loud, and it’s fun for a while. Many people have been on the ride a long time, and they begin to wonder, “Hey, is this real, or is this just a ride?” And other people have remembered, and they come back to us and say, “Hey, don’t worry; don’t be afraid, ever, because this is just a ride.” And we … kill those people. “Shut him up! I’ve got a lot invested in this ride, shut him up! Look at my furrows of worry, look at my big bank account, and my family. This has to be real.” It’s just a ride. But we always kill the good guys who try and tell us that, you ever notice that? And let the demons run amok … But it doesn’t matter, because it’s just a ride. And we can change it any time we want. It’s only a choice. No effort, no work, no job, no savings of money. Just a simple choice, right now, between fear and love. The eyes of fear want you to put bigger locks on your doors, buy guns, close yourself off. The eyes of love instead see all of us as one. Here’s what we can do to change the world, right now, to a better ride. Take all that money we spend on weapons and defences each year and instead spend it feeding and clothing and educating the poor of the world, which it would pay for many times over, not one human being excluded, and we could explore space, together, both inner and outer, forever, in peace.

This is what I believe, we are all one and the real enemy for me in this world is anything that gets in the way of equality occurring. You may think that in this modern landscape of technology and scientific and spiritual thought that we have reached closer to equality. I can safely say that you are wrong and that as a collection of human beings trapped in this ocean of chaos we have come close to glimpsing it but we are still so far from it being a reality. So many different things are at the heart of this and it is not one thing over the other. Everyone who is alive is responsible and time and time again my mantra is “am I part of the problem or am I part of the solution?” A big part of this journey to equality requires you to try and find inner peace before we can have outer peace, but all of this is distracting me from what I planned to write about, gender equality and the responsibility of titling myself (a contradiction I know considering what I just wrote) as a male feminist.

I thought the best way to start this topic off was to post the following videos which focus on a man that I identify with. These are some videos about Henry Rollins that go deep into his psyche and illustrate who he is as a male. I relate to a lot of what he says and a big part of how he feels and his journey. I wanted to keep this first blog post as merely an introduction, so to end this post I advise you to watch these videos and get ready for part two which will see me illustrate my journey from boy to man to male feminist.

Part One:

Part Two:

By Dan Newton

Live Review: The Halls, Galapogos, Foxsmith and Little Planes Land – The Zoo – Thursday 7th February 2013

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An early night at The Zoo, with LITTLE PLANES LAND kicking off proceedings at 7:45 to a small but appreciative audience. Jen Boyce (also of Ball Park Music) starts her set with a beautiful vocal only track, showing considerable control of her voice, a mixture of Carol King & Christine McVie, set in a higher register. This song has a real wow factor, and was easily the standout of her set. For the remainder of her series of indie folk tunes, she accompanies herself on ukulele. Unsurprisingly, considering her chosen stage moniker, there is a song regarding ‘conspiracy theories about planes’. She also makes a point of showing off her impressive broccoli-print pants, and offers to give punters a better look if they buy a raffle ticket after her show.

FOXSMITH are a guitar/bass/keys three-piece tonight. As they explain later, their drummer is currently backpacking around Europe. Their music is a mixture of The Church and The Cure, with Charlie & Emma swapping lead vocal duties throughout the set. The audience is beginning to get a little more active, with a few dancers and one punter even blowing bubbles across the stage. FOXSMITH experiment with a drum machine on a few songs, but it’s clear their music is missing having a real drummer. Nevertheless, the band is fun and the crowd enjoys the music. Their only real misstep is an under- rehearsed rendition of Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Dancing In The Dark’, which pales in comparison to their originals.

FoxSmith

GALAPOGOS begin their four song set with a long instrumental introduction, accompanied by a video backdrop of their album art. Frontman Dan Newton spends most of the set with his eyes closed, lost in the music. On their debut album, GALAPOGOS was a pop band, but live they’re a cross between Slowdive and The Doors. “Do we have your permission to play something new?” Newton asks the audience, “This one’s for Patti Smith.” And the band launch into an epic shoegaze instrumental, while Newton delivers a stream- of-conscious, Jim Morrison-esque rant over the top. “We’re all a bunch of fucking slaves!” he screams. It’s utterly thrilling to witness. The band play almost completely stationery, but there are a few dancers in the audience. For the most part, the punters don’t really seem to know what to make of GALAPOGOS, they’re certainly different to everything else on offer this evening. After impassioned thankyous to the other bands on the bill, and the audience, Newton proclaims ‘I’m gonna go home and take a fucking bath!” And with that, GALAPOGOS disappear.

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THE HALLS hang extra stage lighting before their set, small trees and hanging lights adorn the stage and their instruments, while bassist & vocalist Bec Wolfers arrives wearing a crown of flowers. The first song sees her foot up on the foldback while she sings in a voice that’s a cross between Delores O’Riordan and Melissa Auf Der Maur. THE HALLS are easily the most visually animated band of the evening, with plenty of headbanging and jumping around onstage. Images of flowers blossom on the video screen behind the band and Wolfers invites the audience to come down the front to become ‘one big consciousness’. The crowd eagerly responds to her request, and for the first time this evening is on its feet and fully focussed at the front of the venue. Musically, THE HALLS are a mixture of muscular riffs and jangle pop. ‘He just wants to get fucked’ is all angry, metallic rock, while single ‘Dancing On Your Grave’ is sighing and almost resigned in comparison, sounding like mid 80’s era U2. There’s even a song that features a whistling section, a brave move in a live situation, but they pull it off. A male fan throws his underwear at Wolfers during the set, and I’m unsure if it’s a friend of the band having a laugh, or something slightly more inappropriate. Either way, if tonight’s performance is anything to go by I doubt it’s the last time she’ll get that sort of attention from an admirer. ‘Bodyshock’ ends up being the highlight of THE HALLS’ set, its epic sweep and long instrumental passages are lapped up by the appreciative audience.

Bec

Overall, it’s been a great night out and I’ve witnessed some fantastic music (even bought The Halls’ EP, which I recommend you pick up). THE HALLS and GALAPOGOS are bands to watch out for, their live sets are unlike anything else Brisbane has to offer at the moment. FOXSMITH were enjoyable, but I’d like to see them with their full lineup sometime. LITTLE PLANES LAND is bound to make waves in indie pop and folk circles, and regardless of whether you like that style of music or not, Jen Boyce’s voice is something to behold.

Review By Clint Morrow

Galapogos and The Halls Photos by Alison Martin from Nerves Like Steel Photography (all images copyright to Nerves Like Steel)

Foxsmith Photo courtesy of Emma Walton, Kassie Sofia and Charlie Farmer

Event Poster by Bec Wolfers

Links

The Halls – http://facebook.com/thehallsband
Galapogos – http://www.facebook.com/galapogosbrisbane
Foxsmith – http://www.facebook.com/foxsmithmusic
Little Planes Land – http://www.facebook.com/LittlePlanesLand

Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds – In Search of The Ache – Volume One

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In ten days Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds will release their 15th official studio album called “Push the Sky Away” and to pay tribute to this fact I’ll be writing two very special blogs to discuss my love of the band and the music they’ve released over the years.

I think it is important to introduce this topic by sharing with you all two transcribed lectures that Nick Cave gave in relation to his relationship with creating. The first is called “The Secret Life of The Love Song” which was originally written for the Vienna Poetry festival in 1998. The second is a spoken word piece called “The Word Made Flesh” which was originally written and performed for the BBC in 1996. These are quite in-depth lectures and I suggest that you make the time to read them as I feel it is an important insight into the mind of Nick Cave and his creative process.

The Secret Life Of The Love Song

By: Nick Cave

To be invited to come here and teach, to lecture, to impart what knowledge I have collected about poetry, about song writing has left me with a whole host of conflicting feelings. The strongest, most insistent of these concerns my late father who was an English Literature teacher at the high school I attended back in Australia. I have very clear memories of being about twelve years old and sitting, as you are now, in a classroom or school hall, watching my father, who would be standing, up here, where I am standing, and thinking to myself, gloomily and miserably, for, in the main, I was a gloomy and miserable child, “It doesn´t really matter what I do with my life as long as I don´t end up like my father”. At forty years old it would appear that there is virtually no action I can take that does not draw me closer to him, that does not make me more like him. At forty years old I have become my father, and here I am, teaching.

What I wanted to do here was to talk a bit about “the love song“, to speak about my own personal approach to this genre of songwriting which I believe has been at the very heart of my particular artistic quest. I want look at some other works, that, for whatever reason, I think are sublime achievements in this most noble of artistic pursuits: the creation of the great love song.

Looking back at these twenty years a certain clarity prevails. Midst the madness and the mayhem, it would seem I have been banging on one particular drum. I see that my artistic life has centered around an attempt to articulate the nature of an almost palpable sense of loss that has laid claim to my life. A great gaping hole was blasted out of my world by the unexpected death of my father when I was nineteen years old. The way I learned to fill this hole, this void, was to write. My father taught me this as if to prepare me for his own passing. To write allowed me direct access to my imagination, to inspiration and ultimately to God. I found through the use of language, that I wrote god into existence. Language became the blanket that I threw over the invisible man, that gave him shape and form. Actualising of God through the medium of the love song remains my prime motivation as an artist. The love song is perhaps the truest and most distinctive human gift for recognising God and a gift that God himself needs. God gave us this gift in order that we speak and sing Him alive because God lives within communication. If the world was to suddenly fall silent God would deconstruct and die. Jesus Christ himself said, in one of His most beautiful quotes, “Where ever two or more are gathered together, I am in your midst.” He said this because where ever two or more are gathered together there is language. I found that language became a poultice to the wounds incurred by the death of my father. Language became a salve to longing.

Though the love song comes in many guises – songs of exultation and praise, songs of rage and of despair, erotic songs, songs of abandonment and loss – they all address God, for it is the haunted premises of longing that the true love song inhabits. It is a howl in the void, for Love and for comfort and it lives on the lips of the child crying for his mother. It is the song of the lover in need of her loved one, the raving of the lunatic supplicant petitioning his God. It is the cry of one chained to the earth, to the ordinary and to the mundane, craving flight; a flight into inspiration and imagination and divinity. The love song is the sound of our endeavours to become God-like, to rise up and above the earthbound and the mediocre.

The loss of my father, I found, created in my life a vacuum, a space in which my words began to float and collect and find their purpose. The great W.H. Auden said “The so-called traumatic experience is not an accident, but the opportunity for which the child has been patiently waiting – had it not occurred, it would have found another- in order that its life come a serious matter.” The death of my father was the “traumatic experience” Auden talks about that left the hole for God to fill. How beautiful the notion that we create our own personal catastrophes and that it is the creative forces within us that are instrumental in doing this. We each have a need to create and sorrow is a creative act. The love song is a sad song, it is the sound of sorrow itself. We all experience within us what the Portugese call Suadade, which translates as an inexplicable sense of longing, an unnamed and enigmatic yearning of the soul and it is this feeling that lives in the realms of imagination and inspiration and is the breeding ground for the sad song, for the Love song is the light of God, deep down, blasting through our wounds.

In his brilliant lecture entitled “The Theory and Function of Duende” Frederico Garcia Lorca attempts to shed some light on the eerie and inexplicable sadness that lives in the heart of certain works of art. “All that has dark sound has duende”, he says, “that mysterious power that everyone feels but no philosopher can explain.” In contemporary rock music, the area in which I operate, music seems less inclined to have its soul, restless and quivering, the sadness that Lorca talks about. Excitement, often; anger, sometimes: but true sadness, rarely, Bob Dylan has always had it. Leonard Cohen deals specifically in it. It pursues Van Morrison like a black dog and though he tries to he cannot escape it. Tom Waits and Neil Young can summon it. It haunts Polly Harvey. My friend and Dirty 3 have it by the bucket load. The band Spiritualised are excited by it. Tindersticks desperately want it, but all in all it would appear that duende is too fragile to survive the brutality of technology and the ever increasing acceleration of the music industry. Perhaps there is just no money in sadness, no dollars in duende. Sadness or duende needs space to breathe. Melancholy hates haste and floats in silence. It must be handled with care.

All love songs must contain duende. For the love song is never truly happy. It must first embrace the potential for pain. Those songs that speak of love without having within in their lines an ache or a sigh are not love songs at all but rather Hate Songs disguised as love songs, and are not to be trusted. These songs deny us our humanness and our God-given right to be sad and the air-waves are littered with them. The love song must resonate with the susurration of sorrow, the tintinnabulation of grief. The writer who refuses to explore the darker regions of the heart will never be able to write convincingly about the wonder, the magic and the joy of love for just as goodness cannot be trusted unless it has breathed the same air as evil – the enduring metaphor of Christ crucified between two criminals comes to mind here – so within the fabric of the love song, within its melody, its lyric, one must sense an acknowledgement of its capacity for suffering.

In Lou Reed´s remarkable song “Perfect Day” he writes in near diary form the events that combine to make a “Perfect Day”. It is a day that resonates with the hold beauty of love, where he and his lover sit in the park and drink Sangria, feed animals in the zoo, go to a movie show etc., but it is the lines that darkly in the third verse, “I thought I was someone else, someone good” that transforms this otherwise sentimental song into the masterpiece of melancholia that it is. Not only do these lines ache with failure and shame, but they remind us in more general terms of the transient nature of love itself – that he will have his day “in the park” but, like Cinderella, who must return at midnight to the soot and ash of her disenchanted world, so must he return to his old self, his bad self. It is out of the void that this songs springs, clothed in loss and longing.

Around the age of twenty, I stared reading the Bible and I found in the brutal prose of the Old Testament, in the feel of its words and its imagery, an endless source of inspiration. The Song of Solomon, perhaps the greatest love song ever written, had a massive impact upon me. Its openly erotic nature, the metaphoric journey taken around the lovers bodies – breasts compared to bunches of grapes and young deer, hair and teeth compared to flocks of goats and sheep, legs like pillars of marble, the navel- a round goblet, the belly- a heap of wheat – its staggering imagery rockets us into the world of pure imagination. Although the two lovers are physically separate – Solomon is excluded from the garden where his beloved sings – it is the wild, obsessive projections of one lover onto another that dissolve them into a single being, constructed from a series of rapturous love-metaphors.

The Song of Solomon is an extraordinary love song but it was the remarkable series of love song/poems known as the Psalms that truly held me. I found the Psalms, which deal directly with relationship between man and God, teeming with all the clamorous desperation, longing, exultation, erotic violence and brutality that I could hope for. The Psalms are soaked in suadade, drenched in duende and bathed in bloody-minded violence. In many ways these songs became the blue-print for much of my more sadistic love songs. Psalm 137, a particular favourite of mine and which was turned into a chart hit by the fab little band Boney M. is a perfect example of all I have been talking about.

The love song must be born into the realm of the irrational, absurd, the distracted, the melancholic, the obsessive, the insane for the love song is the noise of love itself and love is, of course, a form of madness. Whether it be the love of God, or romantic, erotic love – these are manifestations of our need to be torn away from the rational, to take leave of our senses, so to speak. Love songs come in many guises and are seemingly written for many reasons – as declarations or to wound – I have written songs for all of these reasons – but ultimately the love songs exist to fill, with language, the silence between ourselves and God, to decrease the distance between the temporal and the divine.

In Psalm 137 the poet finds himself captive in “a strange land” and is forced to sing a song of Zion. He swears his love to his homeland and dreams of revenge. The Psalm is ghastly in its violent sentiments, as he sings for love of his homeland and his God and that he may be made happy by murdering the children of his enemies. What I found, time and time again, in the Bible, especially the Old Testament, was that verses of rapture, of ecstasy and love could hold within them apparently opposite sentiments – hate, revenge, bloody mindedness etc. that they were not mutually exclusive. This idea has left an enduring impression on my songwriting.

Within the world of modern pop music, a world that deals ostensibly with the Love Song, but in actuality does little more that hurl dollops of warm, custard-coloured baby-vomit down the air waves, true sorrow is not welcome. But occasionally a song comes along that hides behind its disposable, plastic beat a love lyric of truly devastating proportions. “Better The Devil You Know” written by hitmakers Stock, Altkin and Waterman and sung by the Australian pop sensation Kylie Minogue is such a song. The disguising of the terror of Love in a piece of mindless, innocuous pop music is an intriguing concept. “Better The Devil You Know” is one of pop music’s most violent and distressing love lyrics.

Say you wont leave me no more
I`ll take you back again
No more excuses, no no
Cause I´ve heard them all before
A hundred times or more
I´ll forgive and forget

If you say you´ll never go
Cause it’s true what they say
Better the devil you know
I know, I think I know the score
You say you love me, O boy
I can´t ask for more
I´ll come if you should call

When Kylie Minogue sings these words there is an innocence to her voice that makes the horror of this chilling lyric all the more compelling. The idea presented within this song, dark and sinister and sad – that all love relationships are by nature abusive and that his abuse, be it physical or psychological, is welcomed and encouraged, shows how even the most innocuous of love songs has the potential to hide terrible human truths. Like Prometheus chained to his rock, so that the eagle can eat his liver each night, Kylie becomes love’s sacrificial lamb bleating an earnest invitation to the drooling, ravenous wolf that he may devour her time and time again, all to a groovy techno beat. “I´ll take you back. I´ll take you back again”. Indeed. Here the Love Songs becomes a vehicle for a harrowing portrait of humanity not dissimilar to that of the Old Testament Psalms. Both are messages to God that cry out into the yawning void, in anguish and self-loathing, for deliverance.

As I said earlier, my artistic life has centered around desire or more accurately, the need, to articulate the various feelings of loss and longing that have whistled through my bones and hummed in my blood, throughout my life. In the process I have written about two hundred songs, the bulk of which I would say, were love songs. Love songs, and therefore, by my definition, sad songs. Out of this considerable mass of material, a handful of them rise above the others as true examples of all I have talked about. Sad Waters, Black Hair, I Let Love In, Deanna, From her to Eternity, Nobody’s Baby Now, Into my Arms, Lime Tree Arbour, Lucy, Straight to You; I am proud of these songs. They are my gloomy, violent, dark-eyed children. They sit grimly on their own and do not play with the other songs. Mostly they were offspring of complicated pregnancies and difficult and painful births. Most of them are rooted in direct personal experience and were conceived for a variety of reasons but this rag-tag group of love songs are, at the death, all the same thing – life lines thrown into the galaxies of the divine by a drowning man.

The reasons why I feel compelled to sit down and write love songs are legion. Some of these came clearer to me when I sat down with a friend of mine, who for the sake of his anonymity I will refer to as J.J. and I admitted to each other that we both suffered from psychological disorder that the medical profession call erotographomania. Erotographomania is the obsessive desire to write love letters. My friend shared that he had written and sent, over the last five years, more than seven thousand love letters to his wife. My friend looked exhausted and his shame was almost palpable. I suffer from the same disease but happily have yet to reach such an advanced stage as my poor friend J. We discussed the power of the love letter and found that it was, not surprisingly, very similar to the love song. Both served as extended meditations on ones beloved. Both served to shorten the distance between the writer and the recipient. Both held within them a permanence and power that the spoken word did not. Both were erotic exercises, in themselves. Both had the potential to reinvent, through words, like Pygmalion with his self-created lover of stone, one’s beloved. Alas, the most endearing form of correspondence, the love letter, like the love song has suffered at the hands of the cold speed of technology, at the carelessness and soullessness of our age. I would like to look, finally, at one of my own songs that I recorded for The Boatman’s Call album. This song, I feel, exemplifies much of what I´ve been talking about today. The song is called Far From Me.

For your dear, I was born
For you I was raised up
For you I´ve lived and for you I will die
For you I am dying now
You were my mad little lover
In a world where everybody fucks everybody else over
You are so far from me
Far from me
Way across some cold neurotic sea
Far from me

I would talk to you of all matter of things
With a smile you would reply
Then the sun would leave your pretty face
And you´d retreat from the front of your eye
I keep hearing that you´re doing best
I hope your heart beats happy in your infant breast
You who are so far from me
Far from me
Far from me

There is no knowledge but I know it
There´s nothing to learn from that vacant voice
That sails to me across the line
From the ridiculous to the sublime
It´s good to hear you´re doing so well
But really can´t you find somebody else that you can ring and tell
Did you ever care for me?
Were you ever there for me?
So far from me

You told me you´d stick by me
Those were your very words
My fair-weather friend
You were my brave-hearted lover
At the first taste of trouble went running back to mother
So far from me
Far from me
Suspended in your bleak and fishless sea
Far from me
Far from me

Far From Me took four months to write, which was the duration of the relationship it describes. The first verse was written in the first week of the affair and is full of all the heroic drama of new love as it describes the totality of feeling whilst acknowledging the potential for pain – for you I’m dying now. It sets the two lovers it describes against an uncaring world – a world that fucks everybody over – and brings in the notion of the physical distance suggested in the title. Strangely, though, the song, as if awaiting the “traumatic experience” that I spoke of earlier to happen, would not allow itself to be completed until the catastrophe had occurred. Some songs are tricky like that and it is wise to keep your wits about you when dealing with them. I find quite often that the songs I write seem to know more about what is going on in my life than I do. I have pages and pages of fourth verses for this song written while the relationship was still sailing happily along. One such verse went:

The Camellia, The Magnolia
Have such a pretty flower
And the bells of St. Mary’s
Inform us of the hour

Pretty words, Innocent words, unaware that any day the bottom would drop out of the whole thing. Love songs that attach themselves to actual experience, that are a poeticising of real events have a peculiar beauty unto themselves. They stay alive in the same way that memories do and being alive, they grow up and undergo changes and develop. A love song such as Far From Me has found a personality beyond the one that I originally gave it with the power to influence my own feelings around the actual event itself. This is an extraordinary thing and one of the truly wondrous benefits of song writing. The songs that I have written that deal with past relationships have become the relationships themselves. Through these songs I have been able to mythologize the ordinary events of my life, lifting them from the temporal plane and hurling them way into the stars. The relationship described in Far From Me has been and gone but the song itself lives on, keeping a pulse running through my past. Such is the singular beauty of song-writing.

Twenty years of song-writing has now past and still the void gapes wide. Still that inexplicable sadness, the duende, the saudade, the divine discontent persists and perhaps it will continue until I see the face of god himself. But when Moses desired to see the face of God, Exodus 33, 188, he was answered that he may not endure it, no man could see his face and live. Well, me, I don´t mind. I `m happy to be sad. For the residue, cast off in this search, the songs themselves, my crooked brood of sad eyed children, rally round and in their way, protect me, comfort me and keep me alive. They are the companions of the soul that lead it into exile, that safe the overpowering yearning for that which is not of this world. The imagination desires an alternate and through the writing of the love song, one sits and dines with loss and longing, madness and melancholy ecstasy, magic, joy and love with equal measures of respect and gratitude. The spiritual quest has many faces – religion, art, drugs, work, money, sex – but rarely does the search serve god so directly and rarely are the rewards so great in doing.

The Word Made Flesh

By: Nick Cave

Jesus said, “Wherever two or more are gathered together, I am in their midst.” Jesus said this because wherever two or more are gathered together, there is communion, there is language, there is imagination, there is God. God is a product of a creative imagination, and God is that imagination taken flight.

As a child I believed that to use the imagination was wicked. I saw my imagination as a dark room with a large bolted door that housed all manner of shameful fantasies. I could almost hear my secret thoughts bumping and scratching behind the door, begging in whispers to be let out, to be told. Back then, I had no idea that those dark mutterings were coming from God.

At eight years old, I joined the choir at our local Anglican church, and I attended services twice a week for the next four years. But the God I heard preached about there seemed remote, and alien, and uncertain. So I sat in the stalls, in my crimson cassock, while rogue thoughts oozed beneath the bolted door of my imagination.

As I grew older and entered my teens, my now deceased father decided it was time to pass on to his son certain information. Here I was, thirteen years old, and he would usher me into his study, lock the door, and begin reciting great bloody slabs from Shakespeare‘s Titus Andronicus, or the murder scene from Crime and Punishment, or whole chapters from Nabokov‘s Lolita. My father would wave his arms about, then point at me and say, “This, my boy, is literature.” And I could tell by the way it empowered him that he felt he was passing on forbidden knowledge. I would sit and listen to all these mad words pouring from his mouth, happy to be invited into his strange, anomalous world.

I would watch my father lose himself in the outpourings of his own creative energy. And although he would have laughed at this notion, what my father was finding in his beloved literature was God. Literature elevated him, tore him from normality, and lifted him out of the mediocre, and brought him closer to the divine essence of things. I had no notion of that then, but I did see somewhere that Art had the power to insulate me from the mundanity of the world, to protect me.

So I set about writing some really bad poems. At around fifteen years of age, my friends and I formed a rock band, and gave up writing really bad poems and started writing really bad songs instead, and these songs were very much influenced by whatever the book was that I was reading at the time.

After I matriculated, I went to art school, and it was there I began to be interested in religious art, largely, I think, because it irritated my instructors, who thought I should be more concerned with contemporary art forms. I had pictures by Grunwald, Fra Angelico, El Greco, Tinteretto, and so on, plastered around the walls of my work space. And I found, almost to my surprise, that I recognized the Biblical scenes depicted in these pictures, knew the key players and their stories. So I went out and bought myself a pocket Bible, the King James Version, opened it up at the first page, and began to read it.

I found the stories of the Bible calling to me from somewhere in my subconscious, planted there in the choirboy days in my childhood. I was still writing songs for the band I was in, and I soon found in the tough prose of the Old Testament a perfect language, at once mysterious and familiar, that not only reflected the state of mind I was in at the time, but actively informed my artistic endeavors. I found there the voice of God, and it was brutal and jealous and merciless. For every bilious notion I harbored about myself and the world – and there were a lot of those – there in the Old Testament was its equivalent leaping off the pages with its teeth bared.

The God of the Old Testament seemed a cruel and rancorous God, and I loved the way he would wipe out entire nations at a whim. I loved to read the Book of Job and marvel over the vain, distrustful God who turned the life of his perfect and upright servant into a living hell. Job‘s friend Eliphaz observed: “Man is born unto trouble as the sparks fly upward.” And those words seemed to my horrid little mind about right. And why wouldn’t man be born into trouble, living under the tyranny of such a God? So it was the feeling I got from the Old Testament, of a pitiful humanity suffering beneath a despotic God, that began to leap into my lyric writing.

As a consequence, my words blossomed with a nasty, new energy. My band, which was called the Birthday Party, was all heavy, bludgeoning rhythms and revved up, whacked out guitars, and all I had to do was walk onstage and open my mouth and let the curse of God roar through me. Floods, fire, and frogs leapt out of my throat. To loosely paraphrase William Blake: I myself did nothing; I just pointed a damning finger and let the Holy Spirit do the rest. Though I had no notion of that then, God was talking not just to me but through me, and his breath stank. I was a conduit for a God that spoke in a language written in bile and puke. And for a while, that suited me fine.

After a few years, the Birthday Party fell apart, and by this time I had grown weary and my writing too, and it was an incredible struggle to squeeze out much at all. I was sick and I was disgusted, and my God was in a similar condition. It was hard work loathing everything all the time; all that sustained hatred is a painful and tiring business. I would climb onto stage and look down at the twisted faces that roared and shook their fists at me in the gloom, and all I felt was sick and sad. I decided it was high time I started reading a different book, so I closed the Old Testament, and I opened up the New.

There in those four wonderful prose-poems – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John – I slowly reacquainted myself with the Jesus of my childhood, that eerie figure that moves through the Gospels, the man of sorrows, and it was through him that I was given a chance to redefine my relationship with the world. The voice that spoke through me now was softer, sadder, more introspective. The more I read the Gospels, the more Christ called to my imagination, for his journey was, it seemed to me, just that: a flight of the imagination. Christ, who call himself both the Son of Man and the Son of God as the occasion warranted, was exactly that: a man a flesh and blood, so in touch with the creative forces inside himself, so open to his brilliant flame-like imagination, that he became the physical embodiment of that force: God. In Christ, the spiritual blueprint was set so that we ourselves could become Godlike.

There is that wonderful story in the Gospel of John, where the scribes and Pharisees brought to Jesus a woman taken in adultery, and attempting to trap him, asked if the woman should now be stoned under the law of Moses. Christ did not answer straightaway, but rather stooped down and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he didn’t hear them. The Pharisees persisted, and after a time, Christ lifted himself up and answered, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her,” and again he stooped down. For me, this seemingly distracted gesture, the stooping down and the writing on the ground, is Christ accessing the God in himself. Christ then delivers the line that disempowers his opponents – and what an extraordinary remark it is – and then stoops again to re-commune with God.

What Christ shows us here is that the creative imagination has the power to combat all enemies, that we are protected by the flow of our own inspiration. Clearly what Jesus most despised, what he really railed against time and time again, were the forces that represented the established order of things, symbolized by the scribes and Pharisees, those dull, small-minded scholars of religious law who dogged his every move. Christ saw them as enemies of the imagination, who actively blocked the spiritual flight of the people, and kept them bogged down with theological nitpicking, intellectualism, and law. What was Christ’s great bugbear, and what has sat like dung in the doorway of the Christian church ever since, was the Pharisees’ preoccupation with the law in preference to the logos. Said St. Paul to the Corinthians: “The letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.” So how can one be elevated spiritually, if they are loaded up with the chains of religious jurisprudence? How can the imagination be told how to behave? How can inspiration, or for that matter God, be moral?

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!” berates Christ in Matthew. “For ye shut up the Kingdom of Heaven against men!” And further on he says, “Ye are like unto whited sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones.” This was the language of the Lord, and it was lines like these, that were at once compassionate and venomous, that I found reverberating through my own words. Christ was forgiving, merciful, and loving, but he was after all the Son of the Old Testament God and his father’s blood still boiled in his veins. In creating his Son, God the Father had evolved, he had moved on. No longer was God’s mercy reserved for elect nations and their kings, no longer were the divine rewards handed down to lords temporal and spiritual. Christ, the Son, came as an individual, the Word made flesh to set right the misguided notion of his Father, or as Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “God was, in Christ, reconciling the world to himself.” Christ came to right the wrongs of his father. Christ, the man, who abhorred the concept of a spiritual elite, spoke to every man. He came with a gift of language, of love, of imagination. Said Jesus in the Gospel of John: “The words I speak unto you, they are the Spirit, and they are the life.” And it is these words, his language, the logos, that speaks so eloquently and mysteriously from the Gospels. Christ is the imagination, at times terrible, irrational, incendiary, and beautiful; in short, Godlike.

And so, like Jesus, there is the blood of my father in me, and it was from him that I inherited, among other things, a love of literature, of words. And just as Christ was to his father, I am a generation further on, and – if you’ll forgive me, Dad – in evolutionary terms, an advanced version. What my father always wanted to do was to write a book. And in that room where he used to take me and commune with me through the language of others, him giving and I receiving, was a desk which contained the beginnings of several aborted novels, all neatly, sadly filed and titled. When I was about twelve, my father asked me, weirdly, what I had done to assist humanity. I had no idea what he was talking about, but turned the question around and asked what he had done. He said he had written a couple of short stories that had been published in magazines, and I shared in his pride as he showed them to me. But I noticed that the magazines were of an earlier decade, and it was clear that these two short stories were tiny seeds planted in a garden that did not grow.

In 1985, I went to live in Berlin, where I got it into my head to write a novel, and for the next three years I locked away myself in a room in Croitesburg and wrote it. I called it And the Ass Saw the Angel. It was about a mad, hermetic mute boy called Euchrid Eucrow, who, having been denied the faculty of speech, eventually explodes in a catharsis of rage and brings to its knees the religious community in which he lives. The story, set in the American South and told through the voice (or non-voice) of Euchrid Eucrow, was written in a kind of hyper-poetic thought-speak not meant to be spoken, a mongrel language that was part Biblical, part Deep South dialect, part gutter slang, at times obscenely reverent and at others reverently obscene. Throughout the story, God fills the mute boy with information, loads him up with bad ideas, “hate inspiration straight from God,” as he puts it. But with no one to talk to, and now way to talk, Euchrid, like a blocked pipe, bursts. For me, Euchrid is Jesus struck dumb, he is the blocked artist, he is internalized imagination become madness.

God is not found in Christ, but through him. In the Gospel of Thomas, Christ states that the Kingdom is inside of you and it is outside of you. This statement must have terrified early Christian ministry, as it rendered them obsolete: why do we need the Church to bring us close to God when he already lives within us? And hence, the Nicene Council‘s decision not to allow it into the New Testament canon. Apart from the sheer subversiveness of this statement, what is really so remarkable about it is the emphasis it places upon our individual selves. Rather than praising a personal and supernatural God as an all-mighty, all-knowing, all-seeing force existing somewhere in the great beyond, the emphasis is placed clearly on man, that without him as a channel, God has nowhere to go. “Wherever two or more are gathered together, I am in your midst,” Jesus said.

Just as we are divine creations, so must we in turn create. Divinity must be given its freedom to flow through us, through language, through communication, through imagination. I believe this is our spiritual duty, made clear to us through the example of Christ. Through us, God finds his voice, for just as we need God, he in turn needs us. God found life through my father as he raved and flailed about his study reciting his favorite literature, but died in a desk drawer that contained those pages, the first painful contractions of his stillborn dreams.

My father asked me what I had done to assist humanity, and at twelve years old, I could not answer. I now know.

Like Christ, I too come in the name of my father, to keep God alive.

________________________________________________________________________

I fall in love with the mind and music of Nick Cave even deeper when I read these two lectures. There is so much beautiful truth throughout each of them.

Before I conclude I will leave you all with my favourite Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds song which is a song called “As I Sat Sadly By Her Side” and is from the 2001 released album “No More Shall We Part” which was the first album I brought from Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds when I was 17 going on 18 in 2001. I loved this album so much when I first heard it and I have continued to favour it throughout the years. It is my all-time favourite mainly because it was so influential for me but also because it is the perfect summary of all that makes Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds so great. It has the intensity and the tenderness and it has some of the bands best songs contained within. The reason why I love the song “As I Sat Sadly by Her Side” is due to its mood and the way that piano hook creeps in and out. It is a beautiful romantic ache that always takes me away, the perfect song for me to hear in 2001 when I was 17 going on 18 and looking for a new kind of musical intensity.

Have a listen to this amazing live version of the song:

Just amazing

Big Love

By: Dan Newton

Review (volume one) My Bloody Valentine – MBV

MBV

My Bloody Valentine.  Where to start?  Randomly I chanced across their Facebook post saying the new album would be available on their website today.  New album?  My Bloody Valentine?  Surely Kevin Shields is fucking with us, right?
 
Apparently not.
 
The new My Bloody Valentine album, ‘MBV’, is everything you’d expect it to be.  If you loved Loveless, you’ll find more of the same here.  Woozy vocal and guitar textures, buried drums (though not as buried as Loveless) and searing noise.  Well, for the first three tracks, anyway…
 
Here’s my track-by-track rundown of this nine song suite:
 
Opener ‘She Found You’ picks up right where Loveless left off.  It’s the one ‘Holy Fuck’ moment on the album, and for 5 minutes, My Bloody Valentine has delivered on all the hype and expectation heaped on them.  A beautiful, woozy, shimmering guitar chimes over mountains of delayed fuzz as Kevin Shields sings almost inaudibly from within the maelstrom.  It’s a truly beautiful soundscape.
 
The beginning of second song ‘Only Tomorrow’ could belong to Isn’t Anything.  The guitar is brutal but tempered, but after a couple of minutes the song opens out into what sounds like MBV’s version of trip-hop.  It’s all a bit Mazzy Star, and very, very easy to get lost in; its long instrumental passages could send you off to sleep. I mean that in a good way.
 
‘Who Sees You’ begins with more fuzzy vibrato sweeps and Ride-esq drumming.  It sits alongside ‘She Found Now’ as being very ‘Loveless’ sounding.  The guitar outro is as cutting as anything they’ve done before.  Interestingly though, just when I think there might be a fade out beginning, the track come to an abrupt halt.
 
The organ intro to ‘Is This And Yes’ is interesting, and hints at taking the band in a new direction, but unfortunately the track doesn’t seem to develop sonically over its 5 minute course.  This is probably the first My Bloody Valentine song I’ve heard that I could easily hit the skip button on.
 
The next track, ‘If I Am’, is a welcome reprieve from ‘Is This And Yes’s meandering organ drone.  The guitars are very cleaned up, and a wah pedal is given a solid workout throughout the track.
 
‘New You’ begins with a beautifully fuzzy bass groove and a persistent tambourine, while Bilinda Butcher’s sighing vocals sit high above the woozy guitar.  The mix is strangely ‘normal’ (for My Bloody Valentine) making it almost sound like a radio remix of something much denser.  This isn’t a criticism, it’s just another unexpected detour on an album full of them.
 
‘In Another Way’ begins promisingly, with layers of guitar noise and frenetic, though repetitive drumming all over the track.  As the song develops however, it confirms the band’s unhealthy love affair with keyboards has risen to new heights.  Around 3 minutes in the swaths of guitars give way to an annoyingly fake string section for the remainder of the track.  If ‘In Another Way’ finished at the 3:15 mark it would have been a My Bloody Valentine classic.
 
‘Nothing Is’ is 3 and a half minutes of the one repetitive, delay drenched riff, gradually building in volume until it crumples under its own weight at the end.  It sounds great for around a minute, but it quickly becomes apparent that this is filler to make an 8-track album a 9 track album.
 
The final track, ‘Wonder 2’, is drenched in flanged guitar and its odd chord sequence is refreshing at the end of this set of songs.  It’s feels like a strange choice to end the record on, but not much about this journey has been what I’d expected.
 
The album’s lyrics were impossible to decipher in the 2 listens I gave the record while writing this piece, but they were never about the words anyway, it was the soundscapes I fell in love with on Isn’t Anything and Loveless.  That’s for someone else to delve into later, though I have to wonder how ‘MBV’ was the best album title they could come up with after all these years.  Musically, MBV is a fascinating listen after such a long silence from the band.  Its arc begins at Loveless and gradually moves into more eclectic territory, while the production appears to become less extreme over the course of the record.
 
Overall, MBV never reaches the heights of Loveless or Isn’t Anything, but hearing anything new from them after so long is a joy in itself.  The first 3 tracks are brilliant, but the middle section of the album feels meandering and laboured, with only a few shining lights before the end.  Let’s hope this is My Bloody Valentine blowing out the cobwebs and the next album isn’t quite as far away as MBV.
 
As a side note, I still eagerly await my vinyl copy in the hopes it will reveal textures and nuances I’ve missed in the digital download.
 
Rating: 6.5 fuzz boxes out of 10.

By Clint Morrow

David Bowie – Loving the Alien – Volume One

David+Bowie

Much like my Mudhoney and soon to be published Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds series of blog posts, I will also be doing quite an in-depth series on one of my biggest influences as an artist, David Bowie. In 42 days Bowie will be releasing his first new album in ten years and in order to celebrate that I’ll be writing a blog each week dedicated to Bowie. I’ll be focussing on covering every album and era of his career and talking about what each record means to me and why he is one the most if not the most important artist to exist. I will be putting a spotlight on his entire career from 1962 through to 2013 and will focus on the importance of each of the 51 years he’s been active as an artist. To break it down I’ll be breaking each blog up into each era and in the spirit of chaos I won’t be doing it in order. To give you a preview of how these eras look I thought I’d paint you a little timeline:

1962 to 1968 (Bowie’s age 15 to 21)

–          Bowie’s first bands (The Konrads, The King Bees, The Manish Boys, The Lower Third, The Buzz and Riot Squad

–          His evolution from Davy Jones to David Bowie

–          The Launch of his debut Self-titled Album

1969 to 1973 (Bowie’s age 22 to 26)

–          Space Oddity

–          The Man Who Sold The World

–          Hunky Dory

–          The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars

–          Aladdin Sane

–          Pin Ups

1974 to 1976 (Bowie’s age 27 to 29)

–          Diamond Dogs

–          Young Americans

–          Station To Station

1976 to 1979 (Bowie’s age 29 to 32)

–          Low

–          Heroes

–          Lodger

1980 to 1989 (Bowie’s age 33 to 42)

–          Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)

–          Let’s Dance

–          Tonight

–          Never Let Me Down

1989 to 1991 (Bowie’s age 42 to 44)

–          Tin Machine

1992 to 1999 (Bowie’s age 45 to 52)

–          Black Tie White Noise

–          Outside

–          Earthling

1999 to 2013 (Bowie’s age 52 to 66)

–          Hours

–          Heathen

–          Reality

–          The Next Day

So as you can see there is a lot to cover and having owned Bowie’s entire discography for the past 10 years, I can safely say that I’m quite versed in the different eras and have done my best to study his music and his songwriting for that 10 year period. I was never content with just his hits or a best of. Bowie is so much more than that and his music is always relevant and always sounds fresh to my ears. I have favourite eras but ultimately I love it all equally and I’ll be doing my best to shed some light on my personal attachment to each of his albums and to share as much of it via links and youtube videos so you can hear for yourself just how amazing David Bowie is.

Consider this my introduction and to finalise this blog I’m going to share with you my favourite all time David Bowie song.

I have thought long and hard about this and after spending the last few evenings with Bowie’s discography the song I kept coming back to for Sentimental reasons was from the last album he released called “Reality.” This was the album that birthed my love affair with Bowie back in 2003 and the song that turned my world upside down and made me connect to his music was a song called “The Loneliest Guy.” It is a beautiful ballad that is soaked in so much bliss and reflective heartache. I can’t put into words how vital this song was for me in terms of understanding and becoming obsessed with David Bowie. So that is what I’ll leave you all with, I hope you all enjoy it as much as I do.

David Bowie – The Loneliest Guy (from his 2003 album Reality)

Big Love xo

By Dan Newton

Music In Film

donnie-darko-movie-image-4

I’m sure a lot of you are like me when it comes to music and the way it affects and attacks your emotions. It’s amazing the way music can have a deep-seated effect on you in any given situation and how it ends up manipulating your mood. I’m convinced that this is possibly why I can’t enjoy music with lyrics or sentiments like “Damn you’re a Sexy Bitch.” This type of expression really doesn’t make me feel emotionally vulnerable at all and the only tears I’m blinking back are for the little faith in humanity I have just lost.

Good music has the capacity to make us feel an entire spectrum of emotions from sadness to joy and everything else in-between. I find that great music has the ability to make me sit quietly in a contemplative state and as I listen I can feel the swell of emotions make the hairs on my arms rise involuntarily. That kind of experience always illustrates that there is nothing more powerful than music to me; it is the be all and end all.

So being the self-proclaimed film buff that I am, I feel that music has the ability to change the emotion of a scene significantly and in turn affect your own interaction with that movie as a whole. The best example I like to use is my favourite film “Donnie Darko.”  After you meet me it will only be a matter of time before I recommend this movie. There is a catch though, regardless of whether you have or haven’t seen the movie (Fuck Ass, “What’s a Fuck Ass?) My advice will always be for you to watch the Directors Cut. The reason why I insist on this version being consumed over the normal cut isn’t because of the altered scenes but rather the fact that the soundtrack is significantly better. The Directors Cut contains all of the music that the Director Richard Kelly originally wanted to use and the difference is indeed noticeable.

A great example of this is the opening scene of the film which sees Donnie riding into town on his bicycle. In both cuts of the film, the scene itself remains the same but the one thing that is different is the music used to soundtrack this moment. The original cut of the film has “The Killing Moon” by Echo and The Bunnymen but in the Director’s cut it is “Never Tear Us Apart” by INXS. Both of these songs are wonderful but on a personal level I much prefer “The Killing Moon” if we were to compare the songs in terms of personal taste. That being said, “Never Tear Us Apart” does a better job of soundtracking this scene and totally sets up the film to be viewed from a completely different light. All of the original music from the normal version of the film is still used throughout the Directors Cut but just in different contexts. It really does shuffle around the emotional experience of watching Donnie Darko.

Maybe I’ve just overanalysed this specific scene and example over and over again but for your listening pleasure here is the original scene with “The Killing Moon” as the soundtrack.

Donnie Darko – Normal Cut (with “The Killing Moon” by Echo and The Bunnymen)

Now here is “Never Tear Us Apart” by INXS. If you watch that scene again and listen to it with this song playing, you can see just how much the emotion of the scene changes.

Never Tear Us Apart – INXS

It is amazing how much of a difference the soundtrack makes to your emotional connection to a movie.

Donnie Darko is not the only film for me where this type of connection has occurred. There are so many films that have become iconic due to the placement of the music and the way this then manipulates your emotional interaction with a specific scene. A great example is that dancing scene in “Pulp Fiction.” It wouldn’t be as iconic as it is if it wasn’t for Tarantino’s use of “You Can Never Tell” by Chuck Berry as opposed to a song of like “I’ll make Love to you” by Boyz II Men which was one of the top pop songs of the time. It would have been plain ridiculous for a song like “I’ll Make Love To You” to be used, but again by using Chuck Berry over something more popular it illustrates the smarts and great use of music by Tarantino to help make a scene iconic.

Here is that awesome scene for your viewing pleasure:

Now mute it and play this

It’s clear how ridiculous that scene would have been if Boyz II Men were played. I know it’s a drastic example, but a great way for me to illustrate the power of music in a film.

This brings me to horror films and the way music is used to help build the tension and to have you on the edge of your seat. There are movies like “Scream” that I really love but one that doesn’t really break new ground when it comes to build up music. Not that “Scream” was about breaking new ground in this area, it was more about using already established scary movie formulas which in hindsight has made “Scream” a little safe. In saying all of that though, imagine if in a movie like “Scream” or any other horror movie where you see the heroine running away from the monster or killer, that instead of the generic scary music (you know, the stuff played beautifully on accordion and viola) that something like “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” was soundtracking it. All of a sudden that scene goes from “scary” to just plain creepy. Some movies may use this technique to great effect and it always ends up being “holy mother of god” creepy. This could of course be something unique to me considering I find kids songs incredibly creepy by themselves.

There are so many films that have great soundtracks and I wanted to take the time to list a few of my favourites. All of these films use music beautifully to help give rise to the emotional impact of each pivotal scene.

· Amelie – despite everything including the music being in French it all sounds and feels beautiful

· Scott pilgrim Vs the world – We all know some of the music was made specifically for the film but the best song on the soundtrack is ‘Black Sheep’ which is originally by the band Metric (I’d go so far as to say I like this movie solely because of the music.)

· Pulp Fiction – (obviously)

· Hesher – Metallica rarely lets their music be used in movies and this movie is pretty damn awesome. (METALLICA APPROVED)

· Eternal Sunshine Of the Spotless Mind – This is the best example where the songs in the soundtrack really complement the movie.

· Juno

· A Hard Day’s Night – Not entirely sure if this one counts? Oh well too bad.

So my challenge to you is next time you watch a film or a TV Show, listen to the soundtrack and the way it is providing context to the emotions being communicated. Make sure you also watch the director’s cut of Donnie Darko, or Chut Up.

By Kat Gibson

Bands / Artists that I Love Dearly but Never Really Talk About – Volume Two – Thursday

thursday-2

Last time I sat down to write a blog in this series – https://heavyandwierd.wordpress.com/2012/11/25/bands-artists-that-i-love-dearly-but-never-really-talk-about-volume-one-life-of-agony/  – I took a long hard look at my music collection to make sure that I put a spotlight on bands and artists that I listen too religiously but rarely ever name drop or discuss as a band / artist that I love. I guess it was an exercise in what the young and beautiful refer to as a “guilty pleasure.” I don’t like to participate in that nonsense however. Nothing I listen too or purchase is an exercise in guilt. I research and invest all of myself into it. I suppose the reason why guilt may enter into the equation is because a lot of people, not everyone, can be judgemental with both their ears and their eyes. It’s a laugh considering that most of these people pride themselves on individuality yet they still make judgements and assumptions based on information provided to them by the media and other minds as opposed to investing in “individuality” and making a valued assessment based on knowledge.  The band that I’ve chosen to spotlight in volume two of this Blog series is the amazing and the wonderful post-hardcore / emo / rock band “Thursday.”

There is so much to love about the band Thursday. My first encounter with the band was in 2003 when their song “Signals Over The Air” was being played religiously on all the cable TV music channels. At the time I had just moved to Brisbane and the house I was living in (with T.French and his sister Jem) had cable TV. It gave us brilliant access to the wide range of music channels on offer. Anyway, Thursday seemed to be a band that I saw a lot of. I was drawn to it instantly. It was a distorted and even more emotional version of The Cure. I loved the lyrics and as juvenile as they appeared I could tell that there was some serious poetry motivating them. At this point I wasn’t too plugged into the idea of what “Emo” was, bands like Glassjaw and 36 Crazyfists (deemed by some as Emo) were just an extension of my love for a band like Deftones. Over the years from this point I was tempted to buy Thursday at so many points. That moment finally came in 2008 when I was 25 years old. I was essentially in the mood for a band who would give me the same rush that Deftones do. It had been a while since Deftones had released new music and I was craving that collision of attack, emotion and swoon. So Thursday once again entered my mind and after doing my research I went into JB’s and brought the whole discography, I was hooked.

On the surface Thursday is indeed everything the media describes them to be. They have the post-hardcore feel with the emo delivery. It has throwbacks to punk but also has alternative rock dynamics. It has the capacity to be both aggressive and tender while also having a great pop sensibility. This is indeed the best and most scientific way to communicate what kind of band you’re investing in when you talk about the music of Thursday. For me however, I don’t like to simply restrict it to the above descriptions. I hear a whole lot more when I put on a Thursday record and through the years my relationship with the band has gone from casual to committed fan. Thursday have also rewarded my patience and belief in their sound by evolving with each album. This all came to a beautiful endpoint with their final record “No Devolucion” which really showcased how amazing the band was.

So how would I describe the music of Thursday?

I’d first and foremost describe it as an exercise in poetry and romance. This music is a love letter to the muse and instead of being delivered with a whisper it is done with an enormous dream like shout. It is indeed incredibly emotional music but I’m not comfortable with the idea of Emo. That is a fashion statement not a musical genre and Thursday are not for the fashion conscious, they are a band who have a healthy understanding of the history of music and the power it can wield. When it attacks the music provides the kind of escape that allows you to leap from your circumstances and to just fucking soar above it. That whole self-belief thing that is so vital and important to the hardcore genre. When the music is being tender and swoony you get the same kind of escape but you just float and swirl and curl into the arms of bliss. It allows you to remain suspended in the complicated mess that is heartbreak but instead of anxiety you have the space to mourn and reflect. This is not music that provides resolve but it allows you time to digest the mess and the opportunity to then escape. This very process of escape may help you sort it out or make you fall in love deeper with that person or thing you can’t have. Thursday has a whole bunch of music that I’d love to make any of my crushes sit down and listen too just so I can say “This is what you’re doing to me and my emotions.”  There is also a lot of the crescendo dynamics and emotional landscaping that bands within the post-rock genre indulge in. This helps build and sway the mood giving you the listener ultimate access to the swoon of it all. Second to the post-rockisms are the nods to a lot of the sounds that has filled indie rock over the years. I’m talking about the fuzz and bliss of My Bloody Valentine, the interesting guitar interplay of Sonic Youth, the intense emotional poetry of Sunny Day Real Estate and the up and down weirdness of Slint. It doesn’t end there because there is of course a huge nod to the darker sounds of bands like The Cure that swirl and sift all through the history of Thursday. If you close your eyes and live in the world without titles and genre tags you can hear a band that is the natural extension and evolution of The Cure. We don’t live in that world, so that may not be fully understood.  Then of course there is the obvious history of punk rock and hardcore that sits front and centre of the sound. This is the backbone of Thursday and it gives you the perfect solid frame to build on. Punk Rock and Hardcore as music genres are dynamic enough but when mixed with the above music histories you are going to get some incredibly interesting sounds.

So let me now take you through the history of the Discography to showcase my favourite songs from each album and paint to you the evolution of Thursday:

Album: Waiting
Released: 1999
Song Chosen: Dying In New Brunswick

The song “Dying in New Brunswick” was written by the singer Geoff Rickly about his girlfriend who moved to New Brunswick and was raped while she was there. The lyrics are about how he hated the city for what happened and how he felt like he was dying whenever he was there.

Album: Full Collapse
Released: 2001
Song Chosen: How Long is The Night? (with the original intro)

I love this song quite a bit, but I wanted you to hear the original version of it. The version on Full Collapse doesn’t have the musical intro. This version can be heard on their “Kill The House Lights” compilation.

Album: War All The Time
Released: 2003
Song Chosen: Signals Over the Air

I love this song quite a bit, the perfect song to play to anyone you’re crushing on, great lyrics. This is a live version of the song.

Album: A City By the Light Divided
Released: 2006
Song Chosen: Sugar In the Sacrament

This would have to be my favourite song by Thursday. It showcases everything that is amazing about the band. This also signalled the first time the band worked with Dave Friedman as a producer who did a lot of great work with The Flaming Lips and Sleater-Kinney. This relationship continued over the next two albums and he did wonders for organising their sound. I thought I’d post another live version because this song sounds amazing in this video. Another great song to make your brand new crush listen too in order for you to explain the emotional hell you’re going through.

Album: Common Existence
Released: 2009
Song Chosen: As He Climbed The Dark Mountain

This song illustrates how the band managed to mix all of the beauty of their sound into one 3 minute and 2 second song. This song is such a great introduction to Thursday.

Album: No Devolucion
Released: 2011
Song Chosen: No Answers

If you walk away with one album by Thursday I sure hope it is this one. This is the bands final album but it managed to capture so beautifully how dynamic they are as a group. If you are not into the attack side of things, this album is for you. It is all swoon and bliss, simply beautiful stuff. This song does the best job of selling the beauty of Thursday.

So there you have it, volume two. I hope you enjoyed reading it and I really hope that at least some of you may be inspired enough to check out the music of Thursday.

Stay tuned for volume three.

By Dan Newton xo