Thursday, 28 June 2012

It's All Coming Back To Me Now - Girl Power

Bardot: If peeing on dogs is cool, consider them Miles Davis.

by Jo Michelmore

In a conversation over lunch today, I found out that the Spice Girls launched a musical in London recently. It’s going to debut in London’s West End in December. That got me thinking about other girl groups. I wonder what it would be like to be in a girl group? I mean, if I was a Spice Girl, for example, which one would I be? If I was alive in the 60’s, would I rather have been Diana Ross or a Supreme? If I was in a girl group from the ‘80’s, would I rather be a Bangle or a Salt or Pepa? (Duh, Salt or Pepa, obviously. I’d even be that Spinderella one.) Wow, there have been so many great girl groups I don’t even know where to begin. Let’s start in the 60’s.

The Supremes

Of course, the 60s had a bazillion* great girl groups. (*Not exact number.) You know, The Ronettes, The Shirelles, The Marvelettes (what was it with the ‘the’ in the 60s?) and of course, probably my personal favourite, The Supremes. That’s Diana Ross and The Supremes. They were the most commercially successful of all Motown acts and although their story was dramatic, involving all sorts of in fighting and out fighting and fighting fighting, who cares? They were amazing. Today, 50 years later and they sound as delicious now as I suppose they did then.

The Pointer Sisters

You know when Barack Obama was running for presidency of the US and he had that little catch phrase "yes we can?" You know where he got that from? A girl group. Yep. True. Let me introduce you to The Pointer Sisters. Their song 'Yes We Can Can' is the song I’m referring to, released in 1974. Lucky Barack took his phrase from them; imagine if he’d loved the Spice Girls? I can’t imagine he would have got elected on the, “tell me whatcha want what you really really want,” catchphrase. Then again, stranger things have happened, I suppose.

The Bangles

Which brings us to the 80s. So many great girl groups from the 80s, it’s hard to know which one to focus on. Let’s go with The Bangles, ‘cause they were awesome and I can’t be bothered remembering how to spell Bananarama. Hold on, is that it? Oh, whatever. The Bangles were formed in the early 80s, they sang one of my favourite 80s songs, ‘Manic Monday’ and one of my favourite 80s covers, ‘Hazy Shade Of Winter’ and unlike my other choices, they all actually play instruments as well as sing (amazing!) and they’re named after one of my favourite accessories. There’s nothing not to love here.

Spice Girls

Of course, that means we now visit the 90s, and since we’ve centred on so many girl groups from the U.S, let’s travel to the other side of the world and chat about everyone’s favourite English girl group. The Spice Girls. Posh, Sporty, Ginger, Baby, the other one, er, who was it? That’s right, Jenny Craig. Oh, sorry, I mean Scary. They were great, and whether you like to admit it or not, I bet you know all the lyrics to 'Wannabe,' or at least most of them, and probably four or five other songs as well.


Oh, I just can’t resist but include this group, because I’ve featured so many great girl groups, it seems only appropriate I balance it out a little. They can’t all be great can they? Readers in any country outside Australia will probably not know this group. Oh, how sad for you. Watch them for a giggle. They were kind of popular in Australia for about five minutes. Popular is a strong word. A couple of people knew who they were.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Amanda Palmer's Greatest Hits, #15 - 11

Theatre Is Evil!

#15. Truce
Dresden Dolls Album: The Dresden Dolls (2003)

I know when I'm wanted, I'll leave if you ask me to,
Mind my own business and speak when I'm spoken to.

A beautiful song should take you on a journey, make it known you’ve heard something special and make you hunger for more. The last song from The Dresden Dolls' debut album; ‘Truce’ does just that. It’s a ride through hope and despair, through utter sadness and desperation and like my favourite musical journeys, leaves you questioning at the end, wondering what just happened and what else could happen if…? Somehow Amanda Palmer manages, in eight and a half minutes, to wander through gloom and misery, rage and fury, right through exhaustion and straight back to land softly in quiet. Starting with a sense of subdued depression, just her voice and keys, she anxiously sings; "You can have Washington, I'll take New Jersey, you can have London but I want New York City", taking her audience places they may not be prepared to visit, through loneliness and seclusion, but it’s like an accident you can’t take your eyes off, once she’s taken you through “Africa, Asia, Australia” you can’t help but keep listening, wondering how much pain she can possibly convey in one song. It’s deliciously agonising after the strings chime in, then the lyric; “just say we were lovers and we'll call it even”, and, although this is an Amanda Palmer countdown, it can't be left unsaid, Amanda's fellow Dresden Doll, Brian Viglione is an incredible drummer, his talent shown off in this track, his manic pounding and off-beat drumming perfectly matching the sense of urgency and passion in Amanda's keys and voice. Her lyrics leave you wondering exactly what she means, but her emotion is so captivating the actual words are almost irrelevant. Having said that, only Amanda Palmer can take you and gently whisper in your ear, then scream in your face within the same minute and still make you feel somehow comfortable at the end, leaving you questioning what just happened, where you’ve just been and why it hurt so much; but in her beautiful style, making you desperately want to visit again. (Jo Michelmore)

Monday, 25 June 2012

New Music Monday #13

Timothy Carroll!

If I Were You
by Timothy Carroll
Album: Where the Storms Would Come (2012)

Brisbane's Timothy Carroll has released the first single from his upcoming second LP and it's undoubtedly destined to be his breakout track. 'If I Were You' keeps the focus on Carroll's stellar vocal delivery as the music builds and builds upon itself in the background, rolling along until its stunning conclusion. You find yourself being drawn further into the song with the introduction of each new element and before you know it, the song's over and you're already geared up to hit 'play' again. Repeat that a couple of times and you're left eagerly anticipating the release of Where the Storms Would Come. JJJ will hopefully get behind Timothy Carroll in a big way this year and I expect 'If I Were You' to follow a similar path that Emma Louise's 'Jungle' did last year. Top 20 on the Hottest 100? If 'Big Jet Plane' can get to #1, anything can happen.

Matt Bond gives 'If I Were You' five Nick Cave's out of five... 

A Little Too Young
by Sunday Lane
Album: From Where You Are (2012)

You'd be forgiven for thinking that Sunday Lane was a touch older than her 22 years of age would suggest. There's a quality in this singer-songwriter's voice that is more becoming of an artist with a whole lot more experience. Her voice is warm, charming and the message she's sending through it is kinda infectious. Give 'A Little Too Young' a listen and try to keep that smile off your face. Couldn't do it, could you? Oh, you could? And just how did you lose your soul? Combine her voice with some lyrics that seem wise beyond the years of their writer and you've got yourselves one of the most intriguing new artists of the year. I didn't know a thing about this young performer from Tulsa before today, but I'll be finding out as much as I can now. First thing to do? Check out her debut album, From Where You Are.

Matt Bond gives 'A Little Too Young' three Karen O's out of five...


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

If the rumours are true and this is Katy’s four and a half minute visual take on her split with Russell Brand, then I’m totally Team Russell.

Jo Michelmore gives the 'Wide Awake' video two Key-Dollar Sign-Ha's out of five... 

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Top 20 - 24 June, 2012

Django Django!

1. Passion Pit - I'll Be Alright

2. Noosa - Walk On By

3. The Milk - Every Time We Fight (NEW)

4. Cassette Kids - Horizon

5. Django Django - Hail Bop (NEW)

Thursday, 21 June 2012

It's All Coming Back To Me Now - An Ideal Venue

Do you think you could have made it on the CBGB stage?

An Ideal Venue
by Jo Michelmore

I know, I know, there you are, happily thinking away to yourself, "Now, if I was a pop superstar, or a rock god, where would I like to play most? Let's see, would I play a huge arena to thousands of people or would I play an intimate club to only my most devoted of fans?" It's a question you ask yourself all the time isn't it? Along with; "What is it with that Sheeran guy?", "What to have on my toast?" and "Which Gaga costume is actually my favourite?" The big question running around your head is about your ideal venue. Don't worry, you're not alone, I think about it all the time too. That and "When is Coldplay going to just stop?" Since its Vintage Thursday, let's have a look at some of the great venues some of the greatest peeps of our times have played and maybe you can answer one of those questions you're always asking yourself.

CBGB's, New York

Your fantasy self starts dirty. It's just the way it is. You know, you've got to have a story to become fantasy famous, so you start somewhere. You picked right. CBGB's was legendary in certain circles. It was originally named after the artists that were going to play there: country, bluegrass and blues artists, but what it turned into was far from those genres. In its day, it hosted some of the greats of punk and new wave; we're talking Blondie, The Ramones (I know! Guess what? They were a band, not just a t-shirt!), The Misfits, The Cramps, Talking Heads, then later on people like The Police and Pearl Jam played there. Legend says the bathrooms were awful, the neighbours were homeless and the sound system terrible, but that's all part of what made it such a haven for the musicians and punks of the day. It (sadly) closed in 2006, but there's a movie in production about the legend of it and Taylor Hawkins (of the Foo Fighters) will play Iggy Pop in it, which I'm kind of excited about. So there you are, your punk fantasy self, I can see you now, in your ripped t-shirt and your messed up hair and covered in band aids and sticky tape. We're going to have to find you some fantasy punk band members. Sid Vicious anyone?

Carnegie Hall, New York

Just for something completely different, your fantasy self changes career dramatically and starts dreaming about Carnegie Hall. No one saw it coming, but amazingly your fantasy self is not only a big fan of punk, but also a really good jazz singer. Crazy! Of course, you have to play Carnegie Hall, built in the 1890's (wow, we're talking serious vintage here now, aren't we?), it originally hosted orchestra's until the 30’s, 40's and 50's when things got good. Really good. We're talking people like Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone, Billie Holiday, appearing on the elaborate and stunning stage. Can you imagine her amazing voice echoing around the hall; "make it one for my baby and one more for the road", just phenomenal. Don't know Billie Holiday? Ok, think Beyonce, think Christina, think any current r'n'b singer with the remotest amount of credibility, they've all had some Billie influence. 1930's too vintage for you? Ok, how about Whitney Houston, Mary J Blige even Jay-Z? They've all played there too. So your fantasy self plays Carnegie. You're fantasy self is going to have to get some credibility and some serious soul and maybe some voice coaching too. Oh no wait, you were born with that talent weren't you? Yes, fantasy self, of course. You are going to have to find something fabulous to wear though. We're talking serious fabulous and get your hair cut. A venue built in the 1800's demands you look classier than ever before, alright?

 Royal Albert Hall, London

You've played the US, so your fantasy self heads on over to the UK for a bit of loving for your English fans. Wherever do you play? Of course, since you've just come from Carnegie, you want somewhere just as divine; let's hit the stage at the Royal Albert. Opened in the 1870's, this one is going to demand another fabulous outfit, ok? What will you play? Well, it seems it's genre of your choice really, considering who has played here before you. You know, only people like Frank Sinatra, Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, The Who and more recently, Adele and Jay-Z. Why is your fantasy self following Jay-Z around? You're going to get yourself a fantasy restraining order at this rate.

Wembley Stadium, London

Royal Albert was nice and all, but while you're in London, you may as well just play a giant gig to please all your fans at once, instead of just 8000 or so at the Royal. You know, with your fantasy popularity you'd have to play night after night after night anyway, so just play a couple of gigs at Wembley instead, yeah? Get it all out of the way quicker and there's nothing like playing the stadium gig anyway. Even though it's a new stadium now, built on the site of the old Wembley, the grounds have still held the music of so many amazing acts. Some awesome vintage (and not so vintage) names like Madonna, Oasis, Michael Jackson, Fleetwood Mac, Pink Floyd, INXS, The Rolling Stones, Elton John, Queen, Johnny Cash, Foo Fighters and you know what? Apparently they even play some sport sometimes there too. Weird. Your fantasy self is walking in the footsteps of some pretty impressive acts there. Can you handle it? Of course you can. You can also wear whatever you want at this venue. Anything you want. Your image will be splashed across some giant screens though, so your fantasy audience can see you from waaaaaaaaaay up the back. Make it impressive.

Right, so your fantasy self has played all sorts of places then. Where to next? That’s up to you, isn’t it? Tokyo Dome, Slane Castle, The Ritz, Élysée Montmartre, The Sydney Opera House; it’s your fantasy self, you can play anywhere you want can’t you? My fantasy self? I’m going to Germany to Batschkapp to play where The Pogues and PJ Harvey have been. I’m going to play on a random night in September and I’m going to have special guests Amy Winehouse, Shirley Manson and Johnny Depp sing backing vocals for me. Johnny Depp, I know. It’s my fantasy, alright? Johnny Depp appears in all my fantasies. What of it?

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Amanda Palmer's Greatest Hits, #20 - 16

This is the future of music...

She is the media. It only took Amanda Palmer a day to capture the attention of the music industry and the world as she started breaking fan-funding records with her Kickstarter project that ran throughout June. In a month she amassed over a million dollars in pledges from her insanely loyal fanbase to fund her next album, Theatre Is Evil. After her much publicized split from Roadrunner Records, Palmer, frontwoman for the always amazing dark cabaret inspired Dresden Dolls has gone from strength to strength. Her new album is due out in September, features new band The Grand Theft Orchestra and is already shaping up to contain the best music Palmer has delivered unto us. So how are we celebrating? With our latest countdown of course! Over the next four weeks we'll be looking at our twenty favourite Amanda Palmer songs. Solo, the Dresden Dolls, Evelyn Evelyn; everything she's touched is under consideration. Oh, but there won't be any covers. Deal with it. Amanda Palmer; songwriter, storyteller, artist, nudist and totally, 100% awesome. By the way, it's Amanda Fucking Palmer to you. Enjoy!  

#20. Have To Drive
ft. the Via Interficere Choir of Nashville and Jack Palmer
Album: Who Killed Amanda Palmer (2008)

I have to drive,
I have my reasons, dear...

The thing about Amanda Palmer is this; she is an incredible songwriter. Her lyrics are poetry and her musical talent is phenomenal. There isn’t a song that doesn’t move you in some way, whether it be devastating or hilarious or offensive or complete joy, she has the ability as an artist to stir emotions and reactions that a lot of musicians can only dream of doing. As a songwriter, she can be scary and confronting and beautiful and comedic and tear jerking all within a four minute pop song timeframe. Not everyone gets her, but those that do, really get her. Perhaps that’s why her fan base is smaller than some artists, but also incredibly loyal. ‘Have To Drive’ is a perfect example of her talent; the music itself is heart wrenching, her voice is astounding, the anguish she conveys is so genuine I get the feeling that if this song was written in another language which I didn’t speak, it wouldn’t matter, I would still hear the same beauty and pain with every listen. The lyrics are simply beautiful; “I suffer mornings most of all, I feel so powerless and small, by 10 o’clock I’m back in bed, fighting the jury in my head.” There’s many different ideas of what this song is about which shows what an incredible artist she is, her way with lyrics is astonishing, not filling in the blanks, putting questions in your mind but not leaving you guessing. Each listener has the opportunity to place themselves inside her world and experience their own journey through her music. This song's meaning? I’ll leave it up to you. From the very first notes, everything is warm but so uncomfortable. It’s something she has this incredible way of making her listeners feel, it’s what makes this song Amanda Palmer’s and it’s also what I love about it. (Jo Michelmore)

Monday, 18 June 2012

New Music Monday #12

Got Milk?

End of the World
by Ingrid Michaelson
Album: Human Again (2012)

When I think of singer/songwriters that should be a million times more famous than they are, Ingrid Michalson is always one of the first names to enter my mind. She can write a song designed to emotionally destroy you better than practically all of her contemporaries and, in case you haven't figured it out yet, we love us some good old fashioned soul-destroying ballads around here. Think of Michaelson's previous slow-jams (they're really not slow-jams) like 'Keep Breathing,' 'Winter Song' and 'The Chain.' Now forget them, just for a second, and embrace how much better 'End of the World' is. "When the sun runs out and there's no one to save you, Will you go to our favourite place and try to say goodbye." Yeah, I'm a sucker for a song like this. When it's written and performed as well as Ingrid Michaelson does it, I don't even feel a little bit guilty. So shut your face about it. Yeah.

Matt Bond gives 'End of the World' four Lady Gaga's out of five... 

Every Time We Fight
by The Milk

Ok, admittedly (and anyone who bothers reading anything I write will have figured out) I’m a fan of soul and rock and (old school) r’n’b and music inspired by sounds of the past. Although this four piece from Essex have been doing their thing ‘quietly’ for a little while now, it’s this song that’s really made me stop and listen properly, and yes, The Milk are now my latest love of music that clearly takes a big helping of influence from the 60s, but definitely with a modern spin. They don’t sound old, they just sound good. ‘Every Time We Fight’ is fantastic, it starts strong (please tell me that’s a cowbell I hear?!?!), the lyrics are totally soul which means depressing and awesome all at once, the band members are kind of cute in an English rock way, two of them are brothers (I love family bands!), the clip is perfectly dreary and they’re named after my favourite beverage, no wait, what? I think I love them. More milk please!

Jo Michelmore's love of dairy gives 'Every Time We Fight' five Eddie Vedder's out of five...

Operator's Dream
by Icons Of Andria

Sci-Fi Ambient Cinematic Dreampop. Thankfully, it's Icons Of Andria themselves that have given a name to the genre they intend to explore on their upcoming concept album. "Who are these IconsOfAndria?" you ask? If you're familiar with the music of The Year Zero and Familiar Trees, you'll know the unique voices creating magic on the track 'Operator's Dream' to be Rodney Sellars and Fabiola Sanchez. If you're not familiar with the two aforementioned groups, you're still going to notice those amazing vocals. Sanchez's voice certainly lives up to the dreamy promise of 'Dreampop.' Hers is the type of voice you could listen to forever and never get sick of it; inviting and mesmerising. Sellars' music, mixed by Sanchez's Familar Trees bandmate Ken Negrete, provides a rich, welcoming background. The words 'ambient' and 'cinematic' indeed ring true. It's the 'Sci-Fi' aspect that initially left me a bit lost. Heading over to their Facebook page (go on, 'like' them!) provided some clarity in the form of a backstory for each song they've released. The story for 'Operator's Dream' creates some classic Sci-Fi imagery to accompany the song. Post-apocalyptic worlds, spaceships, a boy and his robot... this is great material. I want to read a full novel while listening to a whole Icons Of Andria album. If it's a proper novel you'd probably have to listen to the album a couple of (hundred) times, but I'm ok with that. Listen to the music and you'd be ok with it too. I'm looking forward to hearing more from Icons Of Andria. It's exciting (and rare) to see a concept like this and if songs like 'Operator's Dream' are anything to go by, I think they'll pull it off spectacularly.

Matt Bond gives 'Operator's Dream' four Shirley Manson's out of five...      

She's So Mean
by Matchbox Twenty

Oh, no... I don't like this at all. Just wanted to make sure you didn't think we had gone soft on our reviews since we were overwhelmingly positive about everything this week. Still, it's a little bit cute that Rob Thomas wrote a song for Ke$ha. "She's got a wicked sense of humour, Can't believe what she says, She drinks Bacardi in the morning till it goes to her head." I'm pretty sure she drinks Jack Daniel's. You could have at least tried to remember what the lady drinks. Welcome back Matchbox Twenty. Now, go away again.

Matt Bond gives 'She's So Mean' one Chad Kroeger out of five...  


Don't Leave Me (Ne Me Quitte Pas)
by Regina Spektor
Album: What We Saw From the Cheap Seats (2012)

You know what this clip is? It's grand pianos and broken vases and solo Jenga and lamp shade face and toy caterpillars and hiding under tables and sunglasses and floating in hallways and seven hands and the cutest song and plates of jelly and Polaroids and toast face and tiny flaming trumpeters and clocks and fish and Minnie Mouse and artificial grass and I don’t speak French and I don’t care and paper bags and vinyl and noisy neighbours and dancing under sheets with lights and when did Regina get so incredibly beautiful and I love Paris in the rain and too cute, way too cute and….and...and you know what else? This clip makes me want to be Regina Spektor for just a day. Love. It.

Jo Michelmore gives the 'Don't Leave Me (Ne Me Quitte Pas)' video four Shirley Manson's out of five...

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Top 20 - 17 June, 2012

Passion Pit!

1. Passion Pit - I'll Be Alright (NEW)

2. Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros - Man On Fire

3. Cassette Kids - Horizon (NEW)

4. The Jezabels - City Girl (NEW)

5. Noosa - Walk On By (NEW)

Saturday, 16 June 2012

10 and 1 - Albums Still To Be Released in 2012

The 10:

by Passion Pit (July 24, 2012)

MGMT may have a new album out in 2012, but it's their indie-electro contemporaries in Passion Pit that have me much more excited about their second album, Gossamer. We've already heard the first single 'Take A Walk' and its follow-up 'I'll Be Alright' and both fall under the 'must-listen' heading. I've got a sneaking suspicion that there'll be another ten songs on this album that we'll be putting in that category too.

by Bloc Party (August 21, 2012)

Didn't Bloc Party break-up due to the lamest fight in the world? Or, more accurately, didn't the rest of the group say they were recording new material without vocalist Kele Okereke because of his solo aspirations? Apparently not, because they've got their fourth album coming out in August and Kele is still fronting the group. What did they call their fourth album? Four. Urgh. Seriously guys, it's only been a year since Beyonce released 4. Don't let the numeric version fool you... they're pronounced the same (in your case with a British accent) and both are lacking in any shred of creativity. Accurate yet boring title aside, Bloc Party haven't disappointed with their first three albums and I'm thinking their fourth will continue this trend.  

Gig Review - Lady Gaga (13/06/12)

Live at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre.
Review by Katie Langley

I knew we were in for a special night when one of the first people we saw in the Brisbane Entertainment Centre was a man looking dapper in a suit – and killer high heels. After doing a scan of the crowd it suddenly dawned on me that in amongst all of the meat hats, sequins, pant-less peeps, face paint and leather that somehow I actually stood out in my tame jeans and jumper. Clearly I missed the memo on costumes.

Lady Gaga made a royal entrance on a “horse” (no Tegan, it wasn’t real) with a procession of her dancers carrying flags like royal subjects. You’re just in time for the Jubilee, babes, pass me the tea’n’scones.

Over the next two hours things only got more weird and wonderful.

Notable mentions:
• Lady Gaga “birthing” her dancers atop a giant pair of inflatable legs which were “spread eagle”, before she herself shot out of the inflatable vagina. Seriously.
• The meat dress, meat bikinis that her female dancers wore, and meat couch (which hosted an orgy of her male dancers – ding dong). Seriously.
• The announcement by Gaga that “I might eat c**t, but I’m not gay”. Err, okay, whatever – you were born that way? (Did you like what I did there?).
• The machine gun bra, which nearly became an occupational health and safety hazard to the dancers who had to weave around the pointy dangers.

Amazingly, even with all of the costume changes, sexual innuendo, props, and encouragement from Gaga to “put your paws up” and “lift your pussies”, a man only seats away managed to look bored shitless. I feel that it’s important to note that he was wearing joggers with jeans. Say no more, right? Gaga played all of the crowd favourites, including an extended version of “Purple Rain” where purple confetti rained from the ceiling. Oh, wait, wrong review.

There’s no question that the bitch can sing and that she loves her “little monsters” (the cutesy cute name she’s given to her fans - nawwww). Gaga got an A+ for crowd interaction and a special laugh from me when she took a fans disco stick (think of the Love Game video clip), rubbed it over her lady bits, and then broke it. Sorry ‘bout it!

If there’s one thing I would whinge about, other than joggers and jeans, it’s the incessant declaration of love from Gaga, and her countless promises that the fans could come backstage after the show. Yeah, yeah, yeah, you love us; we get it, now put that meat dress back on and sing us a song.

A Lady Gaga show is like a box of chocolates – you never know what you’re going to get. But we got it all. I give it my two paws up.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

It's All Coming Back To Me Now - Blondie

by Jo Michelmore

I recently went on a mini road trip and while searching my ipod for music for the road I stumbled across this band and had one of those moments; “Oh! (insert artist name here), I love (insert artist name here).” For me, the artist name was Blondie. Yeah! I love Blondie! Ms Harry, you were number one on the It’s My Kind Of Scene ‘Women Who Rock’ countdown, and rightly so, you had it and you rocked it, didn’t you? Formed in the mid ‘70’s by Debbie Harry and her boyfriend, Chris Stein, they found themselves a drummer in Clem Burke (is that the most non-rock name ever?), keyboardist Jimmy Destri (see, that’s better, much more star factor in that name) and bass player Gary Valentine (there you go, anyone with Valentine in their name is automatically made for fame), they named themselves Blondie and the magic began.

Apparently the legend began in CBGB’s where they performed regularly (you don’t know what CBGB’s is? We’re going to have to focus on this venue another Thursday. Come back next week!), but it was Australia who gave them their first success where their self-titled debut album reached the top 10 (yay Australia!). Perhaps your taste is not so bland, sometimes. The first single was originally titled ‘Sex Offender’ until their record company insisted it be called ‘X-Offender’ so as not to cause controversy, even though the subject matter was about prostitutes and police. The ‘70’s were an interesting time weren’t they? Not much has changed. Regardless of title, it was just a little glimpse of the magic that Blondie were capable of making.

By the time they got to their third album, ‘Parallel Lines’, Mr Valentine had left (I know! Who could believe it? He had the famous name!) and various others (without famous sounding names) had joined in the Blondie fun. This is where they got really good. They were new wave and punk and pop and a little bit disco and this was the album that featured the now instantly recognisable Blondie tracks; ‘Hanging On The Telephone’, ‘Heart Of Glass’ and my personal favourite, ‘One Way Or Another’. The clips of Blondie performing at the time are awesome, Debbie is all ‘70’s sex bomb, bright make up, messy hair, tight clothes, dancing manically with the rest of the band hanging back, clearly knowing she was the star.

Their fourth album, ‘Eat To The Beat’ has to be mentioned, because although not their most commercially successful, it was a little bit of marketing genius as they released the album and a ‘video album’ - a video cassette containing clips for all the tracks! This was 1979! Whoever invented youtube probably wasn’t even born yet, so this was genius. Make people actually buy the cassette and take it home to watch? Imagine the excitement, having to go to a shop and purchase a physical cassette and then wait until you could get all the way home to see it, instead of watching something on your phone on public transport or in your pj’s while lying in your bed? If Blondie were a brand new band now, who knows how they would work the iTunes, the Spotify and the YouTube? I like to imagine it would be amazing and ground breaking. ‘Call Me’ was released just after this, as the theme song to the film ‘American Gigolo’ and although the song was apparently offered to Stevie Nicks first, I’m glad she couldn’t do it, even though Stevie is incredible, I can’t imagine anyone but Blondie doing it justice.

It was in 1980 when Blondie released their fifth album, ‘Autoamerican,’ featuring ‘The Tide Is High’ and this album took their sound in a few new directions; jazz, reggae and uuurgh, I don’t want to say it, rap. Not because I don’t like rap but because I don’t think Ms Harry does a very good job of rapping. Then again, there’s a long list of people who shouldn’t rap so maybe she should be applauded for being one of the first, after all ‘Rapture’ was apparently the first rap clip to be played on MTV. It was after this album that they took the first of their breaks with the members going their separate ways, before some of the core members and various others began reforming, which they continue to do now. I’m not totally sure they should, but that’s another issue altogether.

In their time, Blondie were one of those incredible bands that managed to play with their sound, re-invent themselves without alienating their fans and to top it all off they had a front woman who was like no other, she had that ‘thing’, she was simultaneously sexy and strong, she had heaps of fun, she was a fashion icon but she wouldn’t be messed with. She paved the way for so many female artists, without Deborah would we have had Shirley Manson, PJ Harvey, Madonna, Lady Gaga, Santigold, even Katy Perry? Blondie’s influence spans so many genres it’s hard to imagine where music would have ended up without them. Somewhere similar, I suppose, but it wouldn’t be as fun without some Blondie tracks along the way now, would it?

Monday, 11 June 2012

New Music Monday #11

The Ol' Razzle Dazzle (Album)
by Missy Higgins

Five years have passed since the first lady of endearing Australian singer/songwriting-ness (some refer to it as Aussie bore-folk) released her sophomore set, On A Clear Night. In that time, Missy Higgins has... grown her hair and cut it again? Retired and, uh, un-retired. No, no... come out of retirement! I don't know how one retires in their mid-twenties, but Miggins did it. And then came out of it. What I'm really trying to say is, I have absolutely no idea what Higgins has been up to, apart from a brief appearance at the ARIA's a couple of years back. What I can tell you is something that her fans would already know; Missy is back with her third album, The Ol' Razzle Dazzle. Her fans already know this because it's out now and it's already hit #1 on the ARIA album chart. I can also happily report that the album isn't a bad listen at all. In fact, it's quite good. Nothing's going to convince those 'bore-folk' detractors that this isn't more of the same from Missy. Songs like 'Everyone's Waiting,' 'Sweet Arms Of a Tune' and 'If I'm Honest' could have sat nicely alongside any of the tracks from debut The Sound of White or On A Clear Night. That doesn't mean they're not quality ballads. It's not all just the same old Missy throwing out 12 tracks to make some cash. There's literally some infectious razzle dazzle, jazzed-up Higgins throughout the LP that mark a huge change from her previous albums. 'Temporary Love' bounces by and the 60s inspired opening track, 'Set Me On Fire,' has just the right amount of "doo-doo's" and a fun, catchy chorus. It's probably the 'funnest' Higgins has sounded since 'Scar.' Showing that she hasn't lost a step as a songwriter, 'Cooling of the Embers' stands as the best ballad on The Ol Razzle Dazzle, almost as good as 'Where I Stood.' Give it a couple of months and I might even say it's the best. 'Hidden Ones' should be marked as a potential single, but it's the album's first single that will undoubtedly latch itself into your memory. 'Unashamed Desire' will grow on you. A lot. Originally I dismissed the song as a Sarah Blasko rip-off and I'll still say there's something about the track that screams Blasko (maybe it's producer Butterfly Boucher's sound coming through), but it's a great track. Arguably the album's best. A welcome return for Missy, The Ol' Razzle Dazzle isn't groundbreaking, but it's a nice next step in her career. Now, I believe Missy Higgins is streaming the album over on the YouTube's, so go check it out and if you like what you're hearing... buy it!

Matt Bond gives The Ol' Razzle Dazzle four Michael Hutchence's out of five... 


by Beach House

What are you thinking of when you think of Beach House? Sweet, ethereal pop sounds, all dreamy like and beverages of your choice and 80’s style graphics and exploding eggs and The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, except replace wardrobe with a fridge and a bit supernatural and weird dancing and a bit of hallucination and space travel thrown in as well? Well, yep, that would be their latest clip, ‘Lazuli.’ What one would expect, but that’s ok, ‘cause that’s what they do well. Taken from their latest album, Bloom, it’s just Beach House being Beach House. Weird and quirky and chilled, there's not really much to say about it, except, this: it’s not challenging, it's not new but it's nice and that's all good.

Jo Michelmore gives the Lazuli video three Karen O's out of five...


Sunday, 10 June 2012

Top 20 - 10 June, 2012

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros!

1. Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros - Man On Fire

2. Graveyard Train - I'm Gone

3. Amanda Palmer and the Grand Theft Orchestra - Do It With A Rockstar

4. Grizzly Bear - Sleeping Ute (NEW)

5. Kimbra- Come Into My Head

Saturday, 9 June 2012

10 and 1 - Top Songs of 2012 (So Far)

Santigold: Bringing the awesome in 2012...

You're going to be inundated with mid-year music countdowns soon enough, so we thought we'd get in a bit early. We probably failed. We're probably not early at all. Anyway, here are ten of our favourite tracks from 2012... and, of course, our least favourite. The worst song of the year. Unless Brian McFadden releases something, it will most likely remain the worst song of the year. Enjoy?

THE 10:

by Azealia Banks ft. Lazy Jay

Rabbit Hole
by The Temper Trap


Haunted Gold
by Curxes 

Bad Girls
by M.I.A


Come Into My Head
by Kimbra

Love Interruption
by Jack White

Never Let Me Go
by Florence + The Machine

by Mr Little Jeans 

Comeback Kid
by Sleigh Bells

Big Mouth
by Santigold

THE 1:


T.H.E. (The Hardest Ever)
by Will.I.Am ft. Jennifer Lopez and Mick Jagger 

When is Will.I.Am going to give up on those solo aspirations? When is Will.I.Am going to give up full stop? 

It's All Coming Back To Me Now - Alvin, Put That Harmonica Down!

by Jo Michelmore

First it was the whistling, then it was the clap. The cowbell couldn’t go without being featured and now, due to a special request, this week, we feature another incredible instrument: the harmonica! It’s a weird little instrument isn’t it? When I think of the harmonica I think of those creepy one man band type people with a hundred instruments strapped to them and a harmonica kind of hovering in front of their face. Super creepy. Actually, the concept of the harmonica is kind of great though, an instrument small enough to fit in your pocket but big enough to create some serious noise and if played right, in the right place, in the right song, it’s beautiful. Not so beautiful? The actuality of the harmonica. All that spit and saliva and yeeeeeew, yuck. Oh the horror of playing someone else’s harmonica. Uuuurgh. You know how they recommend you don’t get spit on your harmonica when playing? Tilt your head back, let gravity do the job for you. Yuck. Yuck and yuck. Let’s think about that while we focus this week on vintage songs that have featured the harmonica! Yes!

Rainy Days and Mondays – The Carpenters, 1971

Wow. It’s rainy or it’s Monday and you’re feeling a bit depressed, so you decide to get vintage and put this song on to feel better. Er, don’t. What a depressing song. First there’s the sad harmonica bit at the start, then she sings things like “hangin around, nothing to do but frown” and “feelin like I don’t belong”; well, Karen, chin up! Things aren’t that bad and you got to wear that beautiful ‘70’s yellow dress in the clip! How lovely. No? I know, it was the thought of all that spit in the harmonica got you down, didn’t it? Yes, I agree. Uuuurgh.

Isn’t She Lovely – Stevie Wonder, 1976

Written for his daughter when she was born, isn’t that sweet? “Isn’t she lovely, made from love,” how nice. It’s just a little pop song, not Stevie’s absolute best, but it’s one people seem to remember. Perhaps it’s all that harmonica. Yep, that’d be it. Everyone loves harmonica, right? Stevie does. He’s known for his keyboard skills, generally, but his harmonica skills are exceptional. He’s featured on over 100 songs by people other than himself, playing harmonica. That’s some serious harmonica skills. Also, a lot of spit.

Karma Chameleon – Culture Club, 1983

Come on. Who doesn’t love this song? Ok, maybe a few people. Love is a strong word. Who doesn’t know at least some of the words of this song? You’ve read the title; you already know most of the chorus. Who doesn’t love Boy George? Ok, stupid question. A lot of people don’t, especially that guy he kept chained in his basement for a while there. Things did get a bit weird for a minute there, didn’t they BG? Speaking of weird, this clip is a bit weird too. On a riverboat? Playing cards? Crooning Karma karma karma etc? It’s all a bit odd. Catchy though. I don’t actually know who plays the harmonica on this one. I wonder if Boy G made that poor male escort learn the harmonica bits while he was chained up in his basement? Maybe. Probably not.

Desire – U2, 1988

This was U2’s first number one single in the UK (and Australia, actually). I think it was the harmonica bit. It certainly wasn’t that hat that Bono insists on wearing in the clip. I’ve seen U2 live a couple of times. Everyone seems to like this one live. It’s the whole sing-along bit, people love screaming “desiiiiiiiiiiiire” etc. I like the harmonica bit, myself. Unfortunately, that’s harder to sing along with. It’s still quite good though.

Suicide Blonde – INXS, 1990

This was one of the ‘Kylie Minogue/Michael Hutchence’ mystery marketing genius songs. Was she the suicide blonde he sung about? Guess we’ll never know now. Regardless, it’s INXS sounding exactly like INXS, with harmonica thrown in for good measure. Did they really need another instrument? There were six of them weren’t there? Anyone remember any of them, other than Hutchence? There was nerdy whats-his-name-with-the-glassses and those other couple, weren’t there some brothers in there? Whatever. Well, apparently they did need another instrument and they did ok with this one. The harmonica works quite well in it. This one features the spit of Charlie Musselwhite in the harmonica. I don’t know who he is but he spits into a harmonica well.

Hand In My Pocket – Alanis Morissette, 1995

Finally, an excuse to post my favourite angry/pop female singer from the ‘90’s. Not only does it highlight her exceptional pop song writing skills on this album, it features harmonica. Perfect. Alanis provided so many anthems for so many kids of the 90’s. This was one of them, the lyrics being relatable to anyone, anywhere. I especially liked the “I'm high but I'm grounded, I'm sane but I'm overwhelmed, I'm lost but I'm hopeful” and “I'm sad but I'm laughing, I'm brave but I'm chicken shit” at the time. I still kind of like them. It’s such a great vintage road trip song, this one. Sing it loud with the windows down. Then do some funny impersonation of a harmonica at the end, but try not to spit all over the steering wheel while you do it. Good luck.

Monday, 4 June 2012

New Music Monday #10

1991 (EP)
by Azealia Banks

As Azealia Banks launches into the opening/title track of her debut EP, she completely, 100% establishes herself as the hottest new property in all of music. "1991 my time has come, Oh nah nah Ma, your time is done." She's got the attitude and she can talk the talk, but most importantly, she's got the talent to back it up. Producer Jef Martens lays down beats that will get you moving as Banks throws out confident, profanity laced rhymes that you can't help but love. I'd say this could have become the Timbaland/Missy team for new generation, but alas, one cannot be too hasty. Banks moves on to Paul Epworth (Adele, Florence + The Machine) for her debut LP, Broke With Expensive Taste. Comparisons to Missy Elliott are sure to arise from Banks' performance on '1991.' Obviously any young female MC will have been inspired in some way by Elliott and it's nice to see that Azealia is carrying Missy's 'She's A Bitch' torch throughout the EP. "Cause you gonna be a bitch n***a, I'ma be that bitch, what?" Heck yes! Yeah, there will be comparisons to Missy, but Azealia Banks more than stands on her own as a performing artist. She's got her own exciting style that introduces elements in an MC we've never seen before (walking the fine line between innocent and extremely vulgar), as well as honouring and developing the styles of rap and hip hop stars that have come before her. 'Van Vogue' builds on the opening number by introducing the sweet vocals (read: not rapping) that our star has housed inside her. We got to hear it before the excellent breakdown in '212' and this is just as good. It's a brief moment and we get some dog barks after it, but I'll take what I can get and hope we here more on her full-length. We then come to our bona fide super-hit of this collection. Yes, I'm talking about the aforementioned '212.' Duh. It's been slowly taking over the world since December last year and the buzz the track generated for Banks in the lead-up for this EP has been phenomenal. Truly one of, if not the best rap song of the year. Isn't it just the cutest thing when she says, "I'ma ruin you, c*nt." What's so great about Azealia Banks? Her delivery of that line right there. It's distasteful, hilarious, threatening and endearing... all rolled into one perfect package. As amazing as it is, the one fault you can put on '212' is that it's too hard an act to follow. Subsequently, 1991's final track, 'Liquorice,' doesn't have the impact it might have had if things were different. Really, it's just more of the same; acceptable yet ultimately not memorable. You know what though? It's still better than anything on Nicki Minaj's new album. There, I said it. Due to the success of '212' an EP was essential to satiate fan hunger before September's release of Broke With Expensive Taste. The move to not rush her debut is admirable and working with such a high-profile name like Epworth leads to the possibility of us hearing something groundbreaking when its finally out. 1991 stands on its own though as a fun introduction to music's next big superstar. There's a lot more to it than the brilliant '212' and it's well worth the price of admission.

Matt Bond gives the 1991 EP four Missy Elliott's out of five...

Glasshouse Living (EP)
by Molly Contogeorge

Over the past decade, Australia has built up an amazing collection of female singer-songwriters, with names like Sarah Blasko, Missy Higgins, Kate Miller-Heidke and Lisa Mitchell leading the way. I'd say it's only a matter of time before we can add Sydney's Molly Contogeorge to that incredible list. Her sophomore EP, Glasshouse Living, features four tracks that showcase one of Australia's great emerging songwriters. Contogeorge has the right kind of modern jazz/pop voice that holds your attention on each song's excellent lyrics. 'Lead on, Lead on' is a welcome introduction to Molly's style and sets her apart from the Blasko's and Higgins' of the Australian music industry. There's an infectious tune that puts Contogeorge's style in line with a more upbeat Nicole Atkins. Third track, 'Lock and Key,' is the highlight of the EP; a little darker than the other tracks and Contogeorge gets a little grungier with her vocals. Heading down a rock and roll path could be a very interesting direction for her. Closing out Glasshouse Living is the ballad 'Why?' "We ask the same questions and tell all the same lies." Beautifully written and performed by Molly, listen to 'Why?' once and you wont be forgetting it any time soon. Actually, it leaves you wanting to hear a lot more from Molly Contogeorge. Hopefully we'll be hearing her debut LP soon.

Matt Bond gives the Glasshouse Living EP four Michael Hutchence's out of five...   


Days Go By
by The Offspring
Album: Days Go By (2012)

You know when you hear a song on a commercial and it sounds kind of familiar, like something you know but just not quite right? You know when some company’s advertising budget doesn’t cover getting the original artist’s song, so they get some terrible dodgy cover of the song done for their terrible dodgy ad? Well, hi Offspring. Someone’s got a bad case of Foo envy don’t they? Except I hope Dave Grohl wouldn’t be caught dead singing those lyrics; “All your anger all your hurt doesn’t matter in the end, those days go by and we all start again”; did you write these in high school? You, Dexter Holland, singer person, I've never understood how you got that gig? I’ve heard better voices at bad karaoke, not to mention good karaoke. As for your new clip, all these layered images are just to distract from your wrinkles aren’t they? You’re almost all in your forties, how long can someone keep playing teenage style average middle of the road pop punk? Oh well, forever I guess and this song will probably be quite popular too, but as they say, there’s no accounting for taste. LMFAO have made millions of sales. 

Jo Michelmore gives the 'Days Go By' video one Chad Kroeger out of five...