I’ve fallen in love lately with The Basics, a band featuring the drumming and singing talents of Wally de Backer, better known from the amazing Gotye project. Now we at Who The Bloody Hell Are They love everything that invovles Mr de Backer and this song by The Basics is awesome. It was recorded live at the Empress of India in Melbourne in August 2006. It’s a great live recording and really showcases the live spirit this band possesses, as well as their immense talent.
photo by Sir Wheatley
Tranterco – ‘Midnight Juggernauts vs Spank Rock mash’ (mp3)
Crunking party machine DJ Tranterco treats us to one of his signature crowd pleasing mashes combining Spank Rock’s ‘Bump’ with Midnight Juggernauts’ ‘Shadows’. I see dancefloors get bent everytime he drops this one off so download it for your next party mix right now. Tranterco is a regular at the Streetparty nights in Melbourne each week but you can also catch him at the Girl Talk and Uffie shows in December.
photo by Mia Mala McDonald
Muscles – ‘One Inch Badge Pin’
While I’m unsure if early 90s grunge music is ever going to make a fashionable comeback, Muscles is beating everyone else to the trance revivalist movement. Full of layered synths and unconventionally sung harmonies Muscles’ odd singing voice works perfectly for this tune. I’ve heard a few people say this song is about indie music betrayal, but I hear it as a simple going-out-meet-a-girl-hang-out tune. I’ve seen him play twice now and thought he would work so great in a middle of packed club, maybe even with a live skeleton backing band ala Midnight Juggernauts/Presets. He’s got some great gigs coming up, including a not to be missed Girl Talk support in Sydney and Melbourne.
Days Like Stars - ’Thunderstorm’
My band played a gig with these guys on Wednesday night at Sol’s Deck Bar, in Paddington, Sydney. I felt I had to make a post on Days Like Stars, because they are truly fantastic, and I want to do everything I can to let other people hear their stuff. A Sydney-based four-piece led by Billy Coleman and bass-player Tony Shane, the group first came to light in 2002 as finalists in the MusicOz Awards, a national band competition. Since then, they’ve released a number of EPs, the latest of which, Fight The Sunset, is a gorgeous piece of work. The Brag and Drum Media (free Sydney Street press) adore them, as do a number of TV producers, who have featured their tracks on sitcom episodes.
The Stars boys are like an ‘O.C Band’ on speed. They take all the best parts of indie/pop rock and throw it into the nu-millenium blender, coming out with something vastly original, yet entirely lyrics based. Apologies to those who think I’m a superlative-dropping wanker, but there’s really no way to decribe these guys unless you see them yourself. They seem to be playing 3 shows a week at the moment, so be sure to see them if you can. For all you overseas, if you like Death Cab for Cutie, The Thrills and (especially) The Shins, here is your Australian equivalent. Bring it.
Gotye – ‘learnalilgivinanlovin’
I think I have just seen the gig of the year. Big call I know, seeing that there’s a good month left to the year but this is as strong a candidate as any. I went to see Gotye at the sold out Prince of Wales Hotel, Melbourne, in not only his first headlining gig but his first gig with this band, ever. As previously written, Gotye is a genius producer from the beachside community of Mentone, Victoria who has put out a very strong contender for album of the year, his second solo effort Like Drawing Blood.
So how did he hold up with so much expectations? Gotye began walking out to the stage, with drums set front center stage, next to his keyboard/apple computer set up. Opening the proceedings by himself on drums backed on sequenced beats for ‘The Only Way’, Gotye battled through front-of-house vocal problems and emphasised the song with his skillful drumming instead. Just by instrumentation alone, he reminds me of a Phil Collins-esque wonderment of being able to sing and drum effortlessly at the same time. Two projection screens winged the stage, showing a montage of Aishwara Rai Bollywood films mixed non-descript segments of 70s track and field movies. I know that hardly makes sense but it all comes together when you see it.
By the third song Gotye has summoned his string quartet and launched into the call center revenge song of ‘Thanks For Your Time’. and from then went into the ballad of ‘Hearts A Mess’. Note by this time the crowd, consisting of Triple J fans and occasional gig goers alike have all decided to sing along to his lyrics, to the point where he couldn’t hear his own monitoring vox, leaving him with a wide grin for the rest of the night. It was amazing to see how an audience consisting of late 20s/early 30s Adult Contemporary music loving public has warmed and connected with the most DIY and underground artists in the country.
For a first gig Gotye has picked a perfect set list of 8-9 songs full of his crowd pleasers, including a few numbers from his first album. The closer was a ‘learnalilgivinanlovin’ a very Basics 60s stylised tune that shows the real strength in his voice. Admitting that this was probably his biggest song, everyone came out on stage, including members of The Basics, the quartet, and the two backup singers. This was really the climax of the show. And then it was over, with Gotye announcing that The Basics will be on in 15 minutes.
photo by Robert Grima
The Basics – ‘Rattle My Chain’ (mp3)
That’s right, The Basics came on after Gotye, at the premium timeslot of 12pm. This is just another way how Wally de Backer shows how loyal and thankful he is to the band that he’s played with for years, and allowed him to hone his stage performance skills. I’ve heard stories how different music managers and booking tried to sign him only to be met with the condition that whoever works with him must also sign The Basics. To get Gotye for a gig, you must get The Basics on the bill, just like how tonight was, just like how Homebake will be next week.
How did The Basics hold up to Gotye’s incredible set? Brilliantly. There’s two ways of looking at this: they are either the best suited up 60s boy band in the country, or they’re the best cover band of party tunes around. And I mean that in the best possible way. The Basics have played numerous gigs over the years but they have not been taken seriously until Gotye hit it big with his latest album. The band had a flying start with hits like ‘Rattle My Chain’ and ‘Just Hold On’ and then held the crowd’s atttention with a mix of covers, reworks and originals. However the real highlight of the band was in the encore, where they played killer back to back covers of The Police’s ‘Roxanne’ and Cream’s ‘Sunshine Of Your Love’. Gotye’s vocals on ‘Roxanne’ is just dead on unbelievable.
Gig of the year? Judge for yourself, catch both The Basics and Gotye Saturday 2 December at Homebake, Sydney.
Architecture in Helsinki vs Busta Rhymes – ‘Do The Whirlwind Mash’
Everyone’s favourite marching-band-rock outfit has a new remix album out called We Died, They Remixed. The collection features reworked songs from their In Case We Die album getting the chop and mash treatment by some of their friends from around the world including the world’s hottest geek band of the moment Hot Chip. While this Busta mash featured here isn’t on the album, the guys and girls are celebrating their release by DJing on Friday 24th November at Section 8, Tattersals Lane, Melbourne. Doors at 6pm and entry is FREE!
photo by Marcus Flack
Justin Grounds - ‘Cathedral Bells’ (mp3)
So, there’s been some whiplash from The White Room post, and I’ve learnt my lesson about overhyping bands. Sort of. In the spirit of fair blogging, I’ve signed up to Superlatives Anonymous to get help. To pass the time between meetings, I’m going post on someone else I think deserves a mention; who ISN’T from Sydney, but Jerry’s new hometown of Melbourne.
I discovered Justin Grounds during one of those typical 3-am-too-drunk-to-sleep-myspace-trawling evenings, and I’ve been hooked for a while. I guess I’m just a bit disillusioned with the whole spiky-indie-retro thing going on at the moment and finding someone who just writes proper songs is a breath of fresh air. And it’s also cool because it doesn’t lean towards that uber-popular brand of alt-folk that only very talented guys like Ryan Adams can pull off. Simply put, it’s a nice white boy crying his heart out – and there’s always room for more of them, if they’re good enough. This guy is going to be slapped with some rampant comparisons to fellow lost souls Nick Drake and Jeff Buckley. His voice leans more towards the latter, and he’s also got some serious proficiency on the guitar. And there’s some whacked out hippie lyrics happening, which is rad ‘cos you can start hypothesisng about whether Justin had his heart broken by some vegetarian mystic named Moonbeam. Pretty much, it’s chilled music for the soul. Nuff said, go have a listen.
The Suitable Few - ‘The Fringe Of Society’
When something becomes extremely massive, it’s only a matter of time before it becomes the subject of parody. Enter The Suitable Few and their song ‘The Fringe of Society’.
They’re not exactly hip-hop, but they’re not exactly rock, and they’re sure as hell not rap-metal or nü-metal or any of those late 90s alternative disaster scenes. This Sydney five piece have been kicking around for a few years creating their own special brand of live hip-hop. They released a self-titled EP in 2004 which contained a lot of live favourites, but didn’t properly capture their great on-stage energy. It’s been their live set that has propelled The Suitable Few up the social music ladder, especially their ‘Topic Jams’ – improvised songs where MCs Adikkal and Balistik freestyle about topics suggested by the audience. It’s so simple, but its brilliance lies in its simplicity, and the audience responds so well to them. The fun nature of The Suitable Few is infectious, and you can’t help but smile and dance along to their tunes. They’ve supported some of the biggest names in the local Aussie hip hop scene such as The Herd, Downsyde and Fast Crew but also more rock-oriented acts such as 28 Days and Spiderbait.
And that’s where ‘The Fringe of Society’ comes in, The Suitable Few’s brand new song off their as-yet untitled EP, due for release in 2007. This song is hilarious and takes a shot at the ultra-serious emo scene. It was only a matter of time before someone did an emo parody, and thank God it was these guys because they do it so well. Live, this song is even funnier because often the emo kids don’t think it’s a parody! There’s also a great filmclip to accompany this song, which can be viewed at the band’s website.
Macromantics – ‘Miss Macro’
One of the most talented performers stepping into the spotlight for the year is Melbourne based MC Romy Hoffman aka Macromantics. Her debut album Moments in Movement has received lots of love from reviewers and Triple J has blessed it with a J-award album of the year nomination and consistent airplay. Produced by Sydney based Tony Buchen of the Baggsmen, her songs are dominated by tongue twisting word chains and her rapping focussed on speedy delivery with a very distinct Macromantics accent. It’s this accent that sets her apart from fellow Aussie hip hop contemporaries, and could potentially make her the first Australian hip hop artist to make serious grounds in the USA.
Soon after the album was released she announced her signing to superb American indie label Kill Rock Stars, home to Sleater Kinney, The Gossip, Deerhoof and Bikini Kill to list a few. I’ve seen her performed three times, and I admit it was hard to get her songs without listening to the album first. On Saturday she stole the stage as support for the rather underwhelming labelmate Erase Errata. As a solo performer backed by an almost invisible DJ Macromantics has an enormous amount of energy and stage presence. She exudes great confidence and harbours charisma that is hard to pinpoint why but will hold your attention right to the end.
The Instant - ‘Fight The Valentine’
I was complaining not too long ago about the lack of instrumental rock (or dare I say, ‘post rock’) bands coming out of Australia. Then out of nowhere, all these awesome instrumental bands have started appearing, many of which I’ll blog about in the near future, but at the moment a band that’s pushing all the right buttons for me is The Instant, a four piece out of Newcastle, NSW.
I don’t know much about these guys, and their bio doesn’t help either: “The Instant are the bastard offspring of experimental tunings, savage precise drums and a mining town filled with minimal and spacious industrial sounds that echo throughout their debut album Notes And Errata.” Said album is a beauty I must say, and it was The Brag’s Indie Album of the Week in last week’s mag. It brings to mind the angular guitars of early 90s acts such as Sonic Youth and bands of that ilk, but it’s instrumental and the lack of vocals is by no means a noticeable omission. In fact, it’s the singer-less nature of the music that makes it so endearing and so emotional.
I’ve heard that these guys are only around 17 years old – I don’t know if that’s true or not, maybe they’ll drop by and correct me, but if it is then they’re doing an awesome job for a band so young, and I can’t wait to see what else they’ve got coming up.