Saturday, 31 March 2012

Gig Review - Holly Throsby

Holly Throsby (29/03/2012)
Live at the Black Bear Lodge, Brisbane.
by Jo Michelmore

So I’m going to start this review at the end. The encore. Generally I’m a little awkward about the encore. Sometimes it’s fun, a bit of screaming and stamping but sometimes (often) it’s just annoying. We all know you’re coming back out, just get on with it. Holly Throsby at the Black Bear Lodge this week, provided one of my favourite encores of all time, the ‘anti encore’, where she didn’t leave the stage, explaining that the small venue had no band room so they’d have to just go stand in the toilets and wait to come back out if they were to exit stage right. They just stood there, giggled a little, everyone clapped and then they played the encore. So cute, so funny and best end to a gig.

The rest of the night was quite entertaining too. Holly’s band; The Hello Tigers, were, as usual, excellent. Consisting of a percussionist (but also sometimes keyboardist and accordion player) Bree van Reyk and bass player, mandolin extraordinaire and sometimes cellist, Jens Birchal, the two of them complimented and supported Holly’s soft, delicate vocal perfectly. Bree in particular provided such an interesting and beautiful backdrop to Holly’s sweet lyrics and voice. An unusual but awesome duet (“that’s like a song sung by two people”; as described by Holly) mid-way through the set with Jens on “Would You” was a pleasant surprise, his deep voice settling nicely into the song with Holly’s floaty voice sitting beautifully beside him. Perhaps one of the best things about seeing Holly Throsby live though, is her fun and quirky on stage banter and the sense of welcoming she gives her audience. This is one of the greatest things about live music, hearing the artist chat and joke and getting a glimpse into the personality that writes all your favourite songs. Holly Throsby never fails to deliver in this part of her performance. She tells terrible jokes and converses with audience members and gets all a bit weird and Stevie Nicks at times (that’s a giant compliment!) and makes it worthwhile leaving the house rather than just throwing a CD on at home. They played a diverse range of songs from all through her career, with Holly’s friendly and funny chatter filling in between songs all the way through. ‘Up With The Birds’, ‘Making A Fire’ and the crowd pleaser ‘Things Between People’ let us enjoy her beautiful song writing skills and pop quirkiness and left the (at times) strange and diverse crowd pleased. Of course, left until close to the end of the set, the Seeker Lover Keeper favourite, ‘Even Though I’m A Woman’ is such a strong song it even sounded amazing with just Holly’s voice and band able to give it all the attention it deserves.

Since the encore was the start of the review, where does one end it? Perhaps with a statement. There’s so much good music in the world and particularly such incredible songwriters everywhere. Some of them are huge stars filling giant stadiums and appearing on TV and everyone knows their names. Some are cute little girl singers and guitarists from Sydney, Australia, who get to wander freely through the crowd in the bar they are about to play in. The greatest part? Both are just as valid and important and as talented as each other. Live music in every form; tiny and huge, is amazing. You should go see some. Anything. You won’t regret it.

Greatest Hits

We've come a long way, baby. In seven days, It's My Kind of Scene will have been haunting the internets for two whole years! What started out as a small blog that focused on new music has evolved into a real deal music blog that endeavours to showcase the best and brightest new (and not so new) talent out there. Interviews, reviews, countdowns, our own end of year awards, a weekly top 20... we've tried a lot of things and if I'm going to be completely honest, we've done a pretty great job with (almost) all of them. Tomorrow, we'll be sending It's My Kind of Scene in an exciting new direction. We're refreshing the site, there's a spankin' new logo, there's a prize to be won for one lucky reader (gasp!) and there will be new features posted throughout the week. What will remain is our mission to deliver unto you the best in new music, our own quirky commentary on the industry and some of your favourite features from the past two years. Check out some of our favourite articles since 2010 below to see what It's My Kind of Scene is all about. These are our Greatest Hits! Thanks for reading and check back tomorrow for the all-new It's My Kind of Scene!

1. 'Here We Are Now, Entertain Us'
2. 'Countdown: Women Who Rock - #4, Courtney Love'
3. 'Top 25 Singers - #5, Amy Winehouse'
4. 'Substance Over Style'
5. '10 and 1 - Worst Hair in Music'
6. '#1 - Your Top 20 Favourite Bands'
7. 'Seek. Love. Keep.'
8. 'Text Review - Splendour In The Grass 2011'
9. 'Top 111 Songs of 2011, #10 - 1'
10. '2011 Scene Awards - Woman of the Year'
11. 'Yes, The Dresden Dolls'
12. 'Let Melbourne Shake'
13. 'We Like To Party Like It's 1999!'
14. 'New To The Scene - The Medics'
15. 'It's My Kind of Interview - Ruby Ribcage'

Monday, 26 March 2012

It's My Kind of Interview - James See (Streamer Bendy)

Alex Woodward, Erinn Swan and James See of Streamer Bendy!

Yesterday we wrote about Streamer Bendy, one of the most exciting up and coming acts on the Brisbane music scene. Have a read of our New To The Scene feature and then check out our interview with guitarist, James See!

Q. You've announced that you've got some live shows coming up. Where can your Australian fans get their Streamer Bendy fix over the next couple of months?

JS: 31st of March at the Bettle Bar in Brisbane and also an acoustic show at Barsoma this coming Wednesday!! Should be good fun, we haven't been playing much live shows at the moment, so it'll be nice to get back into it. And I haven't ever been to the Beetle Bar so I'm looking forward to that cause I have always wondered what it's like on the inside.

Q. Moving on from live music, any news you can share about an album release date?

JS: Aha we keep pushing it back and waiting for the right time to release it but there's still no real confirmed date. Sometime in 2012. We are very stoked on it! We had a lot of people come together to help make it sound the way it is and yeah.. it's got some killer tunes!

Q. You've done some recording in Stockholm and even filmed the video for 'Away From Home' there. What was the experience of recording overseas like and... why Sweden?

JS: I think I can speak for all of us that Sweden was amazing. We had the opportunity to work with a lot of very talented people that helped us shape this record and make it as good as it could be! We recorded in Stockholm mainly because Erinn and Matt had been there previously on song writing trips and made some really good contacts, so it seemed like the perfect place to record there. And it's an awesome city!!

Q. You were a finalist in the pop category at last year's inaugural Queensland Music Awards for 'You're So Cool.' What was it like, making it that far (beating out acts like Ball Park Music and John Steel Singers) and are you submitting anything for the 2012 awards?

JS: We were stoked! It was a fluke for us, especially with a lot of other great Brissy bands with great tunes! We put them in not thinking much of it and we even put a song in the urban catergory for laughs which got us in the finals as well. We got to play on the night as well which was great fun.

Q. What music are you guys listening to at the moment? Any new Brisbane bands catching your eyes and ears?

JS: Between the six of us, we are all listening to things from Radiohead to LMFAO and everything delicious inbetween. But anything with a beat and melody we are all pretty keen on. Ball Park Music, John Steel Singers and DZ Deathrays and Tourism are killing it!!

Q. Congratulations! You've made it to the finals of the world karaoke championships. You've got one more song to sing before you walk away with the $100 000 prize so it's got to be a good one. What karaoke classic would you rock out with?

JS: Genesis - Invisible Touch!!!!

Thanks to James for taking the time to answer our questions. If you're around Brisbane on Wednesday or Saturday night, make sure you head on down to the Barsoma (Wednesday) and Beetle Bar (Saturday) to check out Streamer Bendy live! That's it folks... let's listen to some sweet, sweet Genesis.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

New To The Scene - Streamer Bendy

Streamer Bendy!

If there was ever a time for a new Australian act with commercial pop appeal to make an impact at home and abroad it's now. With Gotye and Kimbra dominating charts worldwide with 'Somebody That I Used To Know,' the eyes and ears of many music fans will be focused on what else is coming out of 'straya. All we need is a couple of singers/bands to release something big and we just might have an Australian invasion on our hands. Kimbra (yeah, I know she's from NZ... but if she can win an ARIA I'll pretend she's Australian like everyone else) is putting the moves on the US, wowing critics and fans with performances at SXSW and her supporting slots for Gotye and Foster the People will only add to her growing buzz. The Veronicas, the last group from home to chart in the top 20 of the US and UK charts, have been away from the spotlight 4ever (see what I did there), but will always be a strong contender for international success with their catchy tunes and pseudo-lesbian behaviour. What? It worked for Tatu. Anyway, there's this one band right. A newish one from Brisbane. They exude a certain confidence and charm that makes me believe there's the potential for them to attract the attention of the world. They've found a fine balance between pop and rock and their lead singer's a bit of a babe. I'm talking about Streamer Bendy... and they just might be the next big thing.

Incredibly long introductory paragraph over, let's examine this Streamer Bendy. Fronted by former Nina May vocalist Erinn Swan and Matt Newton from Repeat Offender, this six-piece have apparently been, "channelling all the bad things you wanted to do in high school since they were in kindergarten." So says their Facebook. James See, Damon Whiteley, Alex Woodward and Anthony Mathews make up the rest of the band, matching Swan's evident enthusiasm and proving themselves to be more than bit players despite the difference in experience. These crazy kids have been hard at work on their debut album over the last couple of years, moving between Brisbane, Stockholm and Sweden for recording and writing while building a reputation for being a world of fun throughout their live performances. The quality of their work isn't being overlooked, with nominations at last year's inaugural Queensland Music Awards in the categories of Pop ('You're So Cool) and Urban ('I Wantcha Number'). Urban? Yeah... Swan can pull off a Ting Tings inspired urban performance when required. What of it?

There's this massive opportunity for an Australian act to seize the moment and step into the spotlight right now and I feel like Streamer Bendy could do it for a couple of reasons. They've got the right attitude; not taking themselves too seriously, while still being very good at what they do. Check out any interviews with them, their YouTube videos or even their Facebook info. They're having fun and it makes them likable. I'm a bit questionable of their obsession with being party rockers, given my disdain for LMFAO, but we'll let that slide. For now. Erinn Swann has all the qualities needed in an awesome frontwoman. Attractive, nice voice and in her element live on stage... can't go wrong. Most importantly for their future success, Streamer Bendy have a certain universal appeal. Kids that like Miley Cyrus will like them. Rough as guts Mums that like P!nk will love them. Tweens that like The Veronicas will like them. Home and Away viewers who enjoy Kate Miller-Heidke will like them. Guys will like them because there's a pretty blonde singing and the band look like they're having a fun time. Everyone wins. Hopefully it's Streamer Bendy that are the biggest winners. Keep your eyes and ears on these guys!

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Top 20 - 24 March, 2012

The Temper Trap!

1. Garbage - Blood For Poppies

2. The Temper Trap - Need Your Love (NEW)

Need Your Love by The Temper Trap

3. Florence + The Machine - Never Let Me Go

4. Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros - Man On Fire (NEW)

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros - "Man on Fire" by TheNJUnderground.com1

5. The Temper Trap - Rabbit Hole

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Song of the Day - Wide Awake

Katy Perry - Wide Awake
Album: Teenage Dream: The Complete Confection (2012)

Ah... the Katy Perry ballad. It's as rare as a good Nicolas Cage film, but it does exist! Her desire to claim a billion #1 singles from 'Teenage Dream' has seen her focus on energetic singles like 'Last Friday Night' and 'Part of Me,' but there's a couple of slower songs in her repertoire. Well, three come to mind; 'Thinking of You,' 'Not Like the Movies' and 'Wide Awake.' Yeah... the last one's the track we're only hearing now. Oh, you count 'Firework' as a ballad? That's... nice. Anyway, there's nothing wrong with K Pez shying away from the ballad. Her vocal limitations are perfectly suited to more uptempo numbers (see Spears, B and Minogue, K) and those catchy pop smashes like 'Teenage Dream?' They ain't half bad. Why mess with success?

'Wide Awake' is the least memorable thing we've heard from the former Mrs. Brand since... 'Thinking of You.' Again, ballads... not her forte. I'm assuming this is a filler track for the re-release of Teenage Dream later in the year. For her sake, I'm hoping this is just a filler track. If it's released as the next single, I feel like Katy's dream run of US #1 singles will be coming to an end. Then again, I'm not one of the millions of 14 year-old girls that will iTunesing the shi-- out of this. Do you think Katy Perry's got another #1 hit in the making with 'Wide Awake?'

Rating: 2/5

Sunday, 18 March 2012

The Times They Are A-Changin'

New logo! New logo stickers! Boom!

I know what you're thinking. You're thinking we're getting a bit lazy around these parts. Well, I'm here to tell you that's not even 75% true. It's about half true. There is, of course, a fantastic explanation as to why business has slowed down a bit this week on your favourite music blog. In April, we'll be relaunching It's My Kind of Scene with a great new look, new weekly features and delicious monthly prizes for you to win! Our commitment to the best new music out there remains and some of your favourite weekly reads like the Top 20 and New To The Scene will be sticking around. In addition to interviews with emerging new acts, we're also going to be hunting YOU down to find out what you love about music. The times they are a-changin' and we couldn't be more excited for April 1 when It's My Kind of Scene takes the next step in becoming a kinda-real-like music blog... thing. Thanks for reading and stay tuned!

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Top 20 - 17 March, 2012

Garbage: Shirley Manson and the boys are back... and they are sounding good!

1. Garbage - Blood For Poppies (NEW)

2. Florence + The Machine - Never Let Me Go

3. Jack White - Sixteen Saltines (NEW)

4. Gossip - Perfect World (NEW)

5. Miike Snow ft. Lykke Li - Black Tin Box (NEW)

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

It's My Kind of Interview - Ruby Ribcage

Ruby and the Rib Cage!

If you've been paying attention to our weekly (and incredibly awesome) top 20 songs, you'd likely be familiar with Ruby and the Rib Cage's track 'Horror.' It's an enticing piece of folksy-pop that features the debut of one of the most exciting new voices in music, that of frontwoman Ruby, who we will now speak of as Ruby Ribcage. Soaring, inviting and infused with the best of soul and blues music, Ruby's voice is one that we'll be hearing a whole lot more of in the future.

While the band has only been around for less than a year, they've already built up an impressive profile in the UK with their live performances and they've even landed a coveted spot on the Secret Garden Party festival's line-up for 2012. The lovely Ruby Ribcage was gracious enough to take some time to answer some of our questions and we're excited to bring you our second artist interview for the week! We chatted about dream festivals, new music and silent retreats in Thailand... here's what Ruby had to say?

Q. Let's kick things off with an easy question. What music are you into at the moment? 

Ruby: I'm a big fan of a new British band called Daughter, and also of Lianne La Havas. Laura Marling always has a place on my iPod, and I'm also really in to To Kill a King right now. They have some amazing acoustic sessions on YouTube, mainly the ones for the Crypt Sessions and City Sessions. You should check them out!

Q. We love to hear things straight from the talented vocalists mouth, so tell us, how did Ruby and the Rib Cage come to be?  

Ruby: Well.. We're slightly unconventional, in that this time last year, none of us knew each other. We formed last July after I placed adverts in most of London's music uni's and all over the net, and then after filtering the applications down I auditioned over 30 musicians in my flat in East London. I found most of the band this way, but struggled to find a guitarist, and eventually a friend suggested Aaron, and he was perfect. So the search was over! We're all really lucky, because we all get on great, and everyone is so dedicated and talented. It's a very exciting place to be right now.

Q. What can we expect to hear from Ruby and the Rib Cage over the next couple of months? A debut album perhaps?

Ruby: I'm afraid we're not that far yet! We've got some live demo's online at and have recently been approached by a producer and sound engineer team who are going to produce and mix our first EP at the end of April and have already had a small label offer to release it. We also have a new song coming out in a couple of weeks to keep you interested. It's our first proper studio recording, and is called 'Dandelion.' We'll be releasing it on our soundcloud, so do keep an eye out! Then our EP should be ready in the summer. In the meantime we're also doing lots of acoustic sessions for channels like Balcony TV and The Mahogany Sessions - so watch this space!

Q. The power and soulful qualities of your voice and like a gateway to the golden age of music. Which iconic singers have had the greatest influence on your music?

Ruby: Ha! Woweee I like that description! Annie Lennox, Aretha, The Commitments, Van Morrison, Joni Mitchell, and Eddi Reader, were all early influences. I love huuuge voices with gravel, depth and power. I know I've got a fairly powerful set of lungs on me, so I guess when I was a kid I just loved singing along to that stuff because it expressed the same force of energy I wanted to express.

Q. You're hitting the festival scene pretty hard in 2012, with appearances at Secret Garden Party, Wilderness Festival and Playgroup Festival (among others). If you could play any festival in the world, what would it be?

Ruby: There are soo many! I hear you guys have some pretty amazing festivals over there. My mate Sam is travelling in Oz, and I keep seeing his facebook flooded with praise for your festivals! I guess there are two main ones I'd really love to perform at above all others, mostly due to childhood/teenage ambition. Glastonbury (the pyramid or main stage)! And Burning Man in America. A lot of my friends love Burning Man, and although I'm keen to go, I only really want to go as a performer. I hear its a pretty epic experience, and I always enjoy festivals so much more when I have a purpose.

Q: Congratulations! You've won a two week, all expenses paid vacation in exotic Thailand. The catch? You have to do a twenty-four hour silent retreat in a Buddhist monastery. The monks are generous and have allowed you to select five album to meditate to throughout the day. What albums do you choose?

Ruby: Silence?! I once did a 10 day yoga retreat, where you were ALLOWED to talk, and I still tried to escape because I couldn't handle how few people were there. Yikes.

Ok, so the five albums I'd go for would be... Laura Marling - I Speak Because I Can, mainly because I still don't feel I've totally sussed it out yet (despite numerous listens), it's so so different to her old stuff. I'd also take Annie Lennox, Diva, for morale, And I'd have a word with the nice people at Amazon online, and see if they wouldn't sort me out with an early issue of Daughters' album (it isn't out yet), I reckon considering the circumstances they might let me have an early preview. On top of those three I'd take PJ Harvey's album, Let England Shake, to feed my homesickness, and perhaps I'd trade in my 5th album, for a banjo.. Can I do that? I know its cheating but I figure I could probably make a ukulele from bamboo and horse hair (I hope there's horses on this island), but I don't fancy my chances at making a banjo.

--> You may create the bamboo/horse hair ukulele for us and we will reward you with a banjo. Deal? Deal.

Q. I can practically guarantee that Australia is going to love you, so are there any plans to look into touring over this side of the world?

Ruby: Yes, yes, yes. We just need a record deal/manager/agent etc. first I'm afraid. I'm working on all that though!

Thanks for stopping by Ruby!

Check out Ruby and the Rib Cage on...

Monday, 12 March 2012

It's My Kind Of Interview - Mardi Lumsden

Mardi Lumsden!

As a follow up to our 'New To The Scene' post on the most awesome-ly awesome Brisbane group, Mardi Lumsden and the Rising Seas, we've got a special little treat lined up for you today! Singer-songwriter Mardi Lumsden was kind enough to take some time to answer a couple of our questions which is a big deal for a couple of reasons. Firstly, she puts the Mardi Lumsden in Mardi Lumsden and the Rising Seas. Secondly, we love her music. Finally... this is our first ever artist interview on It's My Kind of Scene!! Even better? It's definitely not going to be our last artist interview... we've got some more lined up for the next couple of weeks. This is 'It's My Kind Of Interview' with the uber-talented Mardi Lumsden. Get excited!

Q. When the year is done and dusted, what do you hope Mardi Lumsden and the Rising Seas have accomplished?

ML: By the end of this year I want to have started recording our debut album. My husband / banjo player and I have just bought a church which we are converting into a home so I am hoping it will be an inspiring space and give us room to set up a bit of a home studio.

Q. You're no stranger to winning Q Music Awards, walking away the winner of the Folk/Ballad 'Q Song' prize in 2010 for the incredibly infectious track 'Classified (WVTM).' Have you set your sights on the revamped Queensland Music Awards for 2012?

ML: You've got to be in it ... I have a couple of new tracks I might enter but I'm particularly excited about the new Queensland Music Awards category, Children's Music. I think there are a lot of people making fantastic music in Queensland and QMA is a great way to find new music and recognise talent.

Q. Congratulations! You've just been selected to undertake a tremendous space voyage to Mars. It takes a lot of time to get to Mars... so what albums will you be taking to pass the time AND why?

ML: Hmmm ... I am assuming I am taking my iPod so I can take most of my collection. :) Sufjan Stevens' Age of Adz is fantastic and has a good spacey vibe to it, so that would have to come. A good amount of Iron and Wine (I have Around the Well on repeat at the moment), Bon Iver, Gillian Welch and Lucie Thorne would be necessary and I like the irony of listening to lo-fi folky music while on a space mission. Also a hefty dose of some of my favourite Brisbane artists (Alan Boyle, Chris Pickering, Sue Ray, Tim Carroll, Cam Elliott, Dan Parsons, Emma Louise, Steve Grady, Cub Scouts, Inland Sea ... shall I go on?) to keep me from getting homesick.

Q. Brisbane's music scene is pretty darn exciting right now. Have any of your contemporaries caught your eyes and ears?

ML: See list above (and many more). There is so much good music coming our of Brisbane (and Queensland). There aren't a lot of places to go and hear the kind of music I love so it is about knowing what is happening and getting there. I love The Round, a songwriter's space at Dowse Bar on a Wednesday night. It is three songwriters talking about their songs and playing in a striped back setting. The room is always completely attentive and as a songwriter there is no greater compliment.

Q. Where can we see Mardi Lumsden and the Rising Seas over the next couple of months and what can fans expect from the shows?

ML: I am focusing on writing this year so we won't be playing too many shows. Saying that, Pennay and I are doing duo sets at the West End Twilight Markets on 14 April (with Pear and the Awkward Orchestra and Inland Sea) and supporting Phil Monsour at his album launch at South Leagues Club in west end on 21 April.

A big thank you to Mardi for taking the time to have a virtual chat! Head on over to Mardi Lumsden and the Rising Seas official website for more fun and more awesome music.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

New To The Scene - Mardi Lumsden & The Rising Seas

Mardi Lumsden!

Brisbane's growing and vibrant music scene is full of bands you can describe as 'little secrets.' Underground acts that are slowly building a reputation, but don't have anywhere near enough people talking about them. Mardi Lumsden and the Rising Seas might just be Brisbane's best kept little secret. They are an addictive, folksy five-piece made up of talented multi-instrumentalists and led by the cute, quirky and endearing singer-songwriter, Mardi Lumsden.

Lumsden has one of those incredible genre-bending voices that sees her jump between folk, pop, alt-rock and country with ease. You only need to hear her for a moment before instantly warming to her vocal style; it's easy to fall into it and you'd be hard pressed to stop it from bringing a smile to your face. Listen to 'Pieces of the Story' and try not to smile. Matching the vocals in quality (and 'smile-to-face' ratio) is Mardi Lumsden's songwriting. Clever and relatable, these are songs that perfectly target the lives of young (and young at heart) adults. 'Wherever You Go, There You Are' and 'Classified (WVTM)' speak on a multitude of levels about love, life, loss and how we think about the future. The charm is in the positivity present on each track. You're never worried that Lumsden's about to go all, "NEVER MIND I'LL FIND SOMEONE LIKE YOU," and the absence of any melodrama is a nice change of pace from a lot of music going around.

With two stellar EP's to their name, Going Is Finding and Where You Go, There You Are, buzz is building for a potential debut album. The band's official website lists that they are currently "busy writing" so 2012 could be a big year for them. What else should you know about Mardi Lumsden? How about this... she's got her own radio segment on 612 ABC Brisbane's Saturday Breakfast show! Each fortnight, she talks about Brisbane's independent music scene which is really exciting to see. A local performer supporting and promoting other local acts is very cool. Now, what do you have to do? Go out and get some Mardi Lumsden and the Rising Seas EP's and if you're in Brisbane, hit up Souths League's Club at West End on April 21 to see them live, supporting Phil Monsour's CD launch.

It's time for Mardi Lumsden and the Rising Seas to go from being one of Brisbane's best kept little secrets to a band thats name is on everybody's lips. Spread the word!

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Top 20 - 10 March, 2012

Florence scores her 4th It's My Kind of Scene #1 from Ceremonials!

1. Florence + The Machine - Never Let Me Go

2. Regina Spektor - All The Rowboats

3. The Temper Trap - Rabbit Hole (NEW)

4. Ruby and the Rib Cage - Horror

Ruby and the Ribcage - Horror [Free Download] by The Mahogany Blog

5. Louise and the Pins - Bell Jar (NEW)

Friday, 9 March 2012

Toto, I Don't Think We're In 1997 Anymore...

Aqua (08/03/2012)
Live at The Hi-Fi, Brisbane.
Supported by: Radio INK and DJ Harry K

"How was Aqua?" This was a text I received at 8:08 this morning. My reply? "Equal parts amazing, hilarious, baffling and awful." Awful is too strong a word, but the general sentiment of that mini-review rings true. Expectations for Aqua were incredibly high following the success of the Vengaboys return to Australia and I was expecting the Danish superstars to recapture the glitz and glamour of bubblegum pop that dominated the charts when I was all but ten years old.

As we walked into the Hi-Fi, support act Radio INK had already taken the stage. Full of energy, the Sydney based act rocketed through an... enthusiastic... set that featured shameless name dropping of Aqua, Brisbane, a 'Make Some Noise' sign, a failed attempt to get the upper level crowd motivated and an... unwise... cover of The Police's 'Roxanne.' They score buckets of points for stage presence though and on any other night, I might have been slightly more interested. You know who else could have been slightly more interested? DJ Harry K. Stop texting and start mixing some songs. This ain't Fluffy. K essentially iTunesed some Rihanna and some Minaj and then it was finally time for the Scandinavian's to take the stage.

With rabid fans chanting their name, Aqua took to the stage and promptly began to... rock out? Claus plays the guitar? There's a drummer in Aqua? Who are those other guys on the guitar? Why does that guitarist have glitter in his amazing beard? Lead singer and total babe Lene is dressed like she's about to hit up Soundwave. Evidently this wasn't to be the glitz and glam I was expecting. The ten year old in me was disappointed. The music fan I have grown into was kinda impressed. Aqua, the rock band. Who would have thought? A performance in line with the camp, lip-synched, ridiculous and amazing mess that was the Vengaboys was pretty much everything I thought this show would be. Instead, the crowd got an extremely well put together LIVE performance from a fun pop-rock dance band that apparently likes to dabble in house music.

Don't get me wrong, this wasn't just a showcase for Aqua's new 'edgier' outlook on life. All the big hits were there. 'Dr Jones,' 'Cartoon Heroes,' 'Barbie Girl' and 'Around the World' brought the fun and 'Turn Back Time' still stands a fantastic ballad. New tracks 'Like A Robot' and 'Viva Las Vegas' may have made me laugh out loud, but I'll let you listen to them so you understand why. Aqua also decided to break it on down with 'Lollipop (Candyman),' asking the crowd, "do you like house music?" and then bringing in that whole doof doof thing. You should have said dubstep, Rene. That's what the kids are into these days. Speaking of Dr. Jones himself, Rene Dif, was treated like a rock god. Female fans squealed with delight every time his deep, dulcet tones came through the sound system. He also embraced one fan's bra and by embraced I mean he put it down his pants, gave it a couple of good rubs and gave it back to the obviously desperate delighted skank lady. His true highlight was the sneaky, classy and completely appropriate 'two in the pink, one in the stink' hand gesture.

After some time to think, I can safely say that Aqua put on a memorable and fun show. It wasn't the show I thought I was going to see, but what Aqua gave us was probably even better. The crowd reaction was phenomenal, the band was gracious and entertaining, making banter with those in attendance after practically every song. Just because I couldn't understand/hear the majority of what they were saying doesn't mean it wasn't entertaining. There was something about the crowd being Lene's mother and she's the rebellious daughter... that was baffling. That's why I said baffling in my mini-review this morning. Weird, baffling, weird. Performance wise they can't be faulted, the band plays well together and the vocal abilities of the beautiful Lene were a million times better than what anyone would have been expecting. When you're expecting someone to lip-sync, I guess getting anything live is better than what you were expecting, but her voice really was great.

Would I go see Aqua again? I highly doubt it, but I'm happy I did and if you ever get the chance to, you should! It's a lot of fun, but more of a 'once is enough' deal. I also think this ends my desire to head to any show featuring a bubblegum pop act from the 90s. Sorry S Club and Eiffel 65. I think I'll just listen to your CD's instead. Not that I own any of them. Haha yeah...

Song of the Day - Rabbit Hole

The Temper Trap - Rabbit Hole
Album: The Temper Trap (2012)

One of Australia's brightest exports in recent years, The Temper Trap, are almost ready to unveil their self-titled sophomore album and we've got a taste of it in the form of new single, 'Rabbit Hole.' They wowed the world with their debut, Conditions, hitting the charts with the beloved track 'Sweet Disposition' and 'Rabbit Hole' should see their star continue to shine. This is chilled out indie rock at its unpretentious best. Dougy Mandagi's voice is still a great draw card for the band, but it's the guitar that really grabs your attention here. Listen, love and get ready for the release of The Temper Trap from May 18!

Rating: 4/5

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Song of the Day - Bell Jar

Louise and the Pins - Bell Jar

There's a wealth of talented UK ladies primed for a breakout 2012. Make note that Louise Hull is more than ready to stake her claim as one of the artists to watch with the sweet, jazz infused 'Bell Jar.' The track showcases a voice that gives you that warm, tingly feeling inside without being overbearing and lyrics that will bring a smile to your face. I don't know much about Louise and the Pins, but I can tell you that 'Bell Jar' does a pretty good job of making sure that I'll be finding out everything I can about them. That's a good song folks. Louise and the Pins, Ruby and the Rib Cage, Ma Polaine's Great Decline... you want great new artists? The UK is full of them!

Rating: 4/5

Sunday, 4 March 2012

New To The Scene - The Cairos

The Cairos!

This week we turn away from the incredible, gargantuan sound created by the Inland Sea and focus on the superbly polished and remarkably tight music of future indie stars, The Cairos. This Brisbane based four-piece has come a long way since their early days winning battle of the bands competitions. Now with two stellar EP's to their name, the Lost at Sea EP and 2011's Summer Catalogue EP, it looks like they're ready to to enter the mainstream's consciousness with the soon to be released Colours Like Features EP. A couple of weeks ago the band released the video for new single, 'We All Buy Stars,' a jam that will have you fist pumping with joy to the energetic chorus.

There's a lot to like about a group this young that seems to have everything together. Alistar Richardson's voice conveys that he's ready to be one of the exciting leading men the Australian music scene so desperately needs. Don't believe me? Listen to 'Batman' from the Lost at Sea EP. Richardson has that same attitude in his voice that comes through in many of Alex Kapranos' (Franz Ferdinand) performances. That's a winning attitude.  The band appears to be a well oiled machine, there's little you could find to fault in their performance for, like I said, The Cairos' sound is remarkably tight. You'd think they had been doing this for well over a decade.

What do you need to do now? Have a listen to their EP's, listen to 'We All Buy Stars,' fall in love with their music, buy Colours Like Features EP when it's released and then, if you just so happen to be in a city they tour through... go see them live and support Australian music! Want to know where they're playing? Head to ReverbNation!

Top 20 - 4 March, 2012

Regina Spektor!

1. Regina Spektor - All The Rowboats (NEW)

2. Florence + The Machine - Never Let Me Go (NEW)

3. Ma Polaine's Great Decline - No Words We Need (NEW)

No Words We Need by MaPolainesGreatDecline

4. Greg Laswell ft. Sara Bareilles - Come Back Down (NEW)

5. Arctic Monkeys - R U Mine (NEW)

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Must Listen - Ma Polaine's Great Decline

Ma Polaine's Great Decline

It's become something of a habit for me to check my e-mails, Facebook and favourite music blogs as soon as I wake up. Sometimes something amazing is waiting for me, as was the case when I checked my inbox this morning. Taking into account it takes me approximately three hours to actually wake up, I found myself questioning if I was, in fact, still sleeping when I began listening to the self titled EP from Ma Polaine's Great Decline. More accurately, I was wondering if I managed to figure out that whole 'how to travel back in time' thing when Beth Packer's sublime voice filled my room on the track 'The Wrong Side.' Then I remembered I was listening to the music on my iPad.

All feelings of stupidity disappear as the EP's next song, 'The Poison Sits,' begins to play. "Do I make you uncomfortable? Does it suck the air out of you?" Nope, not uncomfortable... but yeah, a little breathless. Sitting through the next two tracks, the jazz infused 'Sweet Cold Harbour' and 'Devil's Touch,' the band has me firmly in the palm of their hands. The realisation that they've literally saved the best until last dawns as 'No Words We Need' draws the album to a close. Country, blues, soul... 'No Words We Need' blends genres so simply, creating a stunning ballad that will keep you coming back for more. The perfect song to end a perfect introduction to Ma Polaine's Great Decline.

I'm awake and now I need to know more about these guys; where are they from? The UK. Chances of seeing them live? Quite good... for those of you in London. You can find out about their March touring schedule at the Ma Polaine's Great Decline website! Where do they fit in/which genres do they explore? Listing "an infusion of blues, country, gypsy jazz, vaudeville and music hall," as their main focus, it's hard to put a definitive label on a band like this, which is kind of awesome. Nothing is off limits to them and it will be very interesting to see them grow and branch out even further. If I get the chance to head to London in May, I'll definitely be checking them out! Ma Polaine's Great Decline were an unexpectedly awesome way to start the weekend with. I hope you love them as much as I do!

EP Rating: 5/5

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Out On The Town - QLD Music Awards 2012 Launch

Queensland Music Awards Launch
@ Black Bear Lodge

We put our scheduled interview with Adele on hold last night* to head on down to the Black Bear Lodge for this year's launch of Queensland's biggest music awards. Following a successful debut in 2011, the Queensland Music Awards will be back on August 14 at the Old Museum and nomination are open now for all the exciting acts coming out of Brisbane and beyond. Last year's big winner, emma louise (Song of the Year - 'Jungle'), will surely be in contention once more, as will It's My Kind of Scene favourites Inland Sea and The Medics. The latter were also winners last year, walking away with the Indigenous music award for 'Beggars.' 

You can also expect to see some nominations for new favourites, Timothy Carroll and Mardi Lumsden. Both artists performed mini-sets at the launch and by each act's third number, I was already planning to hunt down their music and find out where and when they're playing live. The debonair, engaging and overall fantastic Timothy Carroll will be playing Woodland next Friday (March 9). Do I dare brave the hipsters for quality music. Yes. Yes I shall. You should too, because Carroll's voice is quite possibly the best Australian male voice I've heard since Matt Walters. Combining the sounds of Kim Richey, She and Him and Feist, Mardi Lumsden was enchanting alongside her banjo playing husband. She looks like an uber-Lisa Loeb/Zooey Deschanel love child too... extra points! I see that Mardi Lumsden and the Rising Seas will be supporting Phil Monsour's CD launch in West End, April 21... at Souths Leagues Club. They deserve a more kick ass venue.

So... back to the Queensland Music Awards. Know some friends in awesome local bands? Tell them to get their nominations in now through the Q Music website! You can find all the info on how to enter, plus read about last year's winners! For the emerging talent... I've got a little something for you too. The Billy Thorpe Scholarship is up for grabs again in 2012, offering new local bands or solo artists the chance to win a $10 000 grant to put towards building their profile. Not too shabby. Get your application in quick, because this could be the chance of a lifetime for a new artist. Entries close April 30.

Alright, that's it... spread the word kids. Let your friends in local bands know and get those nominations in!

*By interview with Adele, I meant getting my daily dose of Grey's Anatomy. What of it?  

Song of the Day - All The Rowboats

Regina Spektor - All The Rowboats
Album: What We Saw from the Cheap Seats (2012)

The time has come for Regina Spektor to conquer the world. 'All The Rowboats' was released a couple of days ago as the first single to be lifted from What We Saw from the Cheap Seats, a mix of new and reworked tracks that will be released May 12. Combining the expected Spektor quirks and delicious piano melodies with a more industrial sound, 'All The Rowboats' kicks all kinds of butt. There's a huge difference between the sounds here and songs like 'Dance Anthem of the 80's,' Folding Chair' and 'Laughing With' from 2009 album, Far. Those tracks were great, 'All The Rowboats' is on its way to gaining 'awesome' status. Is this the most exciting song released this year? I've only been listening to it for a couple of hours, but I'm already leaning towards yes!

Rating: 5/5