The Red Paintings - ‘Walls’
One of the more unique acts to be gracing the Australian music circuit at the moment, The Red Paintings are a 5 piece experimental/art rock band out of Brisbane. Their performance reputation has overtaken their music – on stage the members dress up in costumes (usually Geisha outfits but occasionally alien costumes), they have canvasses at the front of the stage and members of the audience are able to paint during the performance if they feel inspired, and I believe on one tour the band had human canvasses. They often have a lot of religious iconography as props on stage, though I think on their Destroy the Robots tour they had robots as well. I know that during that tour they brought with them a giant robot and would take pictures of it in different places around Australia and the world too.
The band have been around since 1999 but they first gained national attention with their song ‘Rain’ which was released in 2004. Since then the band have gained a small but loyal following and recently supported the Dresden Dolls on their Australian tour. I saw The Red Paintings a few years back and their live shows are fantastic – it’s great to see a band that puts so much thought and effort into their performances. Their latest EP Destroy the Robots was a disappointing effort – I felt the band were attempting to craft a more mainstream sound and it didn’t work at all. Soon the band split with their label Modern Music which is an imprint of Sony/BMG and the band are back to being a completely independent act.
The Red Paintings are touring the United States at the moment before they head to London in November. Check their MySpace page for tour dates.
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Cog - ‘Resonate’ (mp3)
I was gonna get on my soapbox and make some rant about the general state of the music “scene” and the scenesters and everyone’s love for dirty synths and all that kinda shit that pisses me off as a music fan because while everyone goes nuts for bands without bass players that believe Wham! was the best band of all time, there’s Australian bands like Cog that get overlooked.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of some of the cool kids’ bands, but when it comes to overall music brilliance and world-beating ability, it’s hard to look past Cog. They’re as good, if not better, than most of the bands that sell millions of albums overseas. They’ve constantly made amazing music ever since they started. In terms of the Sydney music scene, their residency at the Excelsior Hotel in Surry Hills is legendary – every Wednesday for three months they sold out the place, and they hadn’t even been together for a year! It helps that you’re playing music light years ahead of your peers, that your drummer is one of the best Australia has produced, and your live show is an phenominal tour-de-force.
So who are Cog exactly? Well, they’re a three piece from Bondi in Sydney, they were kicking around the Aussie scene for a couple of years and released two great but poorly recorded EPs called Just Visiting Part 1 & Just Visiting Part 2. Then in 2004 they jumped on a big ol’ jet airliner and travelled to Weed, California to record their amazing debut album The New Normal with producer Sylvia Massy-Shivy (Tool, R.E.M), which was released the following year It was the first time that Cog captured their massive live sound on a recording. The album shed some of the progressive rock/Tool comparisons Cog were generating, and it showcased a more mature and succinct act.
The band have also been quite political in the past – on one of their tours they screened the John Pilger documentary Breaking the Silence – The Truth and Lies on the War on Terror and much of their lyrical content deals with political issues. In their filmclip for ‘Run’, drummer Lucius Borich has “Bush, Howard, Blair Fuck Off” written on his drum kit and the filmclip itself was set in a detention centre to highlight the plight of refugees being detained by the Australian government. Check it out below!
A few quick notes to finish off – Justin Cotta of VAST fame was going to sing for the band. In 2003 Cog recorded a cover version of Leftfield’s ‘Open Up’ which opened them up (no pun intended) to a national audience. The band are about to go back to Weed to record their second album. They are planning on touring North America in February. They are touring Australia right now. Cog are the most promising act in Australia. Go!
Midnight Juggernauts – ’45 and Rising’
“Dude, this crowd is so scene…”
A phrase often overheard at Midnight Juggernauts‘ gigs, where old highschool buddies Andy and Vincent proceed to blow indie kids’ minds, especially in their hometown of Melbourne. Though they have only just released their EP Secrets Of The Universe, the boys have supported with some rock’s premier acts. Wolfmother, DFA 1979 and songstress/DJ Annie are all quick to praise the duo, currently labelled as the “hardest working touring act” in Australia. And the gigs just keep on coming, as the Juggernauts hit the road with Canadian wunderkind MSTRKRFT.
Their sound is truly inventive, mashing up pretty much every electro subgenre of the past few decades, leaning heavily towards the moody synth-club sound which echoes New Order and to a lesser extent, Daft Punk. First single ‘Shadows’ showcases this sort of zombie-flick-vs-neon-disco concept which has catapaulted the Juggernauts to stardom. They’ve got an album in the pipeline, a headlining tour in the next month, followed by a slot at the prestigious Homebake Festival in December, the lauded, annual all-Aussie festival which takes place in the heart of Sydney. These guys don’t even need the promo; friends like Cut Copy, The Presets and Chromeo speak for themselves.
Jet - ‘Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is’
So the big sophomore release from one of the biggest Australian band in recent times, is out this week. Jet face stiff competition from other big releases this week; indie hero Beck has an album out, hyped up folk rock outfit The Decemberists are putting out their debut, and fellow corporate rockers The Killers are pushing their second album as well. Beck of course gets favourable reviews no matter what he puts out, and most bloggers has collectively fallen in love with The Decemberists so they’re safe. A lot of venom is flying at The Killers’ Sam’s Town, so that leaves Jet with whoever has the energy left to post. So far the general consensus is this: if you like your retro rock and don’t mind the formula of the first album, then you’ll like this one. Otherwise stay far away. Which can be hard to do if you live in Australia, with Triple J radio and all commercial stations picking up on the album.
I’m not a big fan of this retro rock genre, it was fun when the Strokes and White Stripes were good but all recycled fashion has their use by date and it is now long gone past. Unfortunately Australia seems to have an endless supply of these type of bands, just look at the previous post (ok they’re from NZ but close enough). While Wolfmother is busy rechannelling Black Sabbath into the 21st century all over the world, Jet tries to rework the other big 70s rock sound: AC/DC. Now I can go on listing who else they’ve tried to be this album, but I thought it’d be more fun if I just pick the best bits of the other reviews out on the net so far this week. As said earlier, most of the American blogs and zines are focusing on three other big releases this week, so there hasn’t been that many on Jet yet.
Let start with NME. The UK rag took a break from promoting nu-rave and witch hunting emo bands and gave Jet a 7/10.
Excerpt: “…can they follow an album [Get Born] that owed such a huge debt to others with something that shows the essence of themselves? It’s a question that’s obviously plagued Jet… for about two minutes. With a typically Aussie lack of concern for daggy conventions such as ‘development’ or ‘progression’, they’ve simply made another joyfully old-fashioned rock’n'roll album immersed in the classics.“
The Datsuns – ‘System Overload’
The Datsuns started out in 1997 in New Zealand, and for six years released vinyl only singles on their own label and travelled back and forth to Australia for gigs before taking the plunge to London and scoring a deal with V2 records. They excited a lot of the UK music press but quickly went cold soon after the retro rock movement got a bit tiring. The band came out into the public’s consciousness in a time when there was a flood of garage rock bands, and was quickly dwarfed by the White Stripes, The Strokes and Jet. Their last album got caned by critics and the first one didn’t fare too well either. They’re back with a third album out this year, the lead single System Overload sounds pretty good to me and is getting fair airplay on Triple J radio. A massive round of promo dates in the UK and Europe is going to keep them busy throughout October. Shame about the video though, the song doesn’t really fit into the whole retro sci-fi vibe.
Sneaky Sound System – ‘I Love It’
As Bob Dylan famously announced, “The times they are a-changin”, especially for the Sneaky posse, who seem to have transformed from everyone’s favourite club act into commercial superstars overnight. Of course, Angus and Daimon (i.e, the boys) have been banging out tunes for over five years, acquiring a legion of devoted fans in the process from their ‘Sneaky Sundays’ jaunt at Hugo’s Bar, home to the urban elite in Sydney’s party central, Kings Cross. Yet it is only recently that their hard work has come to fruition, in the shape of their banging self-titled album.
Part of Sneaky’s newfound influence can be attributed to their newest member, the stunning Connie Mitchell, whom the boys stumbled across in Hyde Park playing guitar and singing. Like Fergie to the Black Eyed Peas, Connie has only served to enhance the already distinct Sneaky sound. The Sneaky D.I.Y approach has certainly taken them far beyond the realm of their wildest dreams, as they were recently nominated for two ARIAs (NB: One ARIA in Australia = One Grammy in USA, One Brit Award in the UK, etc), and invited to support Robbie Williams on his upcoming Australian tour. Quite ironic, considering their statement “We’re like an electronic garage band with delusions of stadium glory.”
These guys make seriously good music. They make sugar-pop groups with electro trimmings like the Rogue Traders and Bodyrockers look like preschoolers. Rock on.
Rizzo & Pizzo – ‘Escalator Love’
Usually I hear about new bands on the radio or seeing them in a gig supporting some other band. This Sydney duo has been so far under the radar I only found out about them last week from a mate, it was my turn to go who the hell..? They don’t play live that much (due to stage fright I heard) and to my knowledge haven’t released anything. But they’ve got two albums written, recorded and for sale on their myspace. They describe their sound as Electro/Trash/Rap/Crump-It- Hump It-Let-It-Bump-It. Nice. This track featured here is a minimalist beats and rhyme number, but if you go over to their site you’ll get a variety of tracks from electro-camp to downright white boy crunk/hop (or whatever) .
The Mean Streaks – ‘Real Physical Danger’
These guys must get the shits getting compared to The Grates, especially coming from Brisbane where they both originate. It’s unfortunate that any female fronted rock band in Australia invariably gets this comparison, such is the latter’s dominance of the genre at the moment, but any association is usually unfair and inaccurate. The Mean Streaks stay true to their name, even after using similar instrumentation and arrangements their songs have a darker tone and a more urgent beat than their pop neighbours. Front woman Jean Nicotine leads her six piece outfit with intense chorus outbursts in much of their repertoire. They have shared the stage with Spoon, The Buzzcocks, Har Mar Superstar, The Presets, Faker, Love of Diagrams and Pharaohs. When I contacted Jean last she said they were taking a break from performing to record some new tracks. They started playing live again recently so I hope that means new recordings will be available soon.
Taken from his debut album Boardface, Gotye’s clip was shot with a digital stills camera taking more then 10,000 shots to make, directed by Jacob Simkin of Dork Films. This man has a love for meticulous craftsmanship for his art – his latest album Like Drawing Blood took more than two painstaking years of home recording and multiple computer crashes. Very strong candidate for album of the year.
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