Tuesday, August 31, 2010

August - Wrapup


Wow.  Only four more months to go.  Two-thirds of the way through this epic journey, and I'm still amazed the albums can delight and inspire and annoy and amuse me.  I guess it shows just how much music means to me, to us, that we can still feel so thrilled to be doing this, more than 200 reviews later.

Each month I get a little more informed about what really moves me, what makes me jump and shimmy or snivel and moan.  And each month I marvel and the grand span of music that exists in our little flat, and wonder about how much more I haven't heard, that I'll maybe never hear.

This month I'm a little tired of winter, and I'm looking forward to taking a break from it next month, when we head north to our spiritual home in Cairns, which we hope someday to make our actual home.  But rest assured, dear readers, we have the technology to accompany us, and we'll continue to post reviews and answer your comments.  Sending out free CDs may have to wait till we return home, however.


Well, this far into the project, it would be reasonable to expect to hear we're burnt out, we're sick of listening and writing about music or that we're just bored with the whole idea now.  But if anything, the opposite is true.

Not only has this opened up our collection, it has also reinvigorated our love of good music.  But I realised this month something else being a part of this musical mission has done - it has redefined my personal tastes by chipping away the shards of crap to reveal something altogether more splendid.  Yeah, I know, rather flowery but don't you dare start calling me petal, okay?

Like Mine says, I feel much more informed about what I like and better equipped to express it more completely.  This also means that instead of jumping ears-first into some candied crapola, I am actually taking the time to listen carefully and make a better judgement.  I am hoping this will mean that our collection will continue to grow but without the inclusion of anything even slightly rubbish.

I fully expected Mine to rant a bit about the fact we went through a national election process this month that resulted in the biggest anti-climax of all - no clear winner on the day.  In fact, as I write this, there is still no clear winner.  While I'm not politically-minded, I'm actually starting to think this might be a good thing.  But time will tell, I guess. (Mine says: Can't comment on a no-verdict - next month, maybe!)

Now, down to business.  This month, we've decided our giveaway will be to the very fine Perplexio, who has been a constant source of support and encouragement.  He has a number of great blogs, mostly about music but sometimes not and always has an interesting point of view.  Check out his blogger profile here and have a look at his different blogs.  You won't be disappointed.

Thanks for riding with us this far.  Hope you stick around for the rest of this wonderful voyage.

Free CDs - August Throwouts

Free to a good home this month:

Mark Gillespie - Flame
Badly Drawn Boy - The Hour of Bewilderbeast
Chris Cornell - Carry On
Frenzal Rhomb - Meet The Family
Portastatic - I Hope Your Heart Is Not Brittle

Still going begging from previous months:

Goodshirt - Good
KC & The Sunshine Band - Greatest Hits
Natalie Merchant - Tigerlily
Shamen - Boss Drum
Nikka Costa - Pebble to a Pearl
Enigma - MCMXC AD
Brassy - Got It Made
A Gun Called Tension - A Gun Called Tension
P-Money - Magic City
Pink Floyd - Echoes
New Radicals - Maybe You've Been Brainwashed Too
Gyroscope - Breed Obsession
Audioslave - Audioslave
George Michael - Ladies & Gentlemen The Best Of George Michael
Roots Manuva - Awfully Deep, Run Come Save Me and Slime and Reason
Queen - Greatest Hits II, Greatest Hits III, Made in Heaven (we're keeping the others)
Come - Near Life Experience, Eleven : Eleven and Don't Ask, Don't Tell
Ben Harper - The Will To Live and Diamonds On the Inside
Sugar Ray - Floored

These CDs are available free to anyone who wants them. We even pay for postage - so if you'd like to see an Australian stamp just e-mail us at yourzenmine at gmail dot com.

Dave Chappelle's Block Party


When the incomparable Mr Dave Chappelle decides to throw a party, he doesn't just invite a few friends, he throws down one of the best events ever staged on the streets of New York. 

Of course, the music is going to be the cream of hip hop and soul but not the normal shit you might hear on the radio.  This is the real, full flavoured, heavy bodied cream, which includes The Roots, Erykah Badu, Mos Def, Jill Scott and Common.  And then of course, there's the comedic talents of Dave himself, who acts largely as narrator, announcer, master of ceremonies and roving crazyman-on-the-ground.

If you've not seen this documentary, I can't recommend it highly enough, not just because of the music but also for the general bonhomie of both the performers and the crowd, who turned out in droves to go to an event they knew little about.  And what an event it turned out to be. 

As a soundtrack, it features highlights from the show but not all the highlights, which means if you want to hear The Fugees (who reunited for this show) or a number of other great tracks, watch the movie.  On the soundtrack, the standouts for me are Dead Prez's Hip Hop, every time Jill Scott opens her mouth, Boom by The Roots, Back In The Day by Erykah Badu and Umi Says by Mos Def.

But there are so many good tracks, really it's worth listening to the album as a whole.  And for those of you who don't like hip hop, all I have to say is you really don't know what you're missing out on.



We live in Brooklyn, baby.  The soundtrack to the documentary to the Block Party is flavoured with summer.

From the incidental conversation between the tracks, we learn there's going to be two barbecues set up, one for the vegans,and they'll be frying up some tofu for the girls.  That's the lovely Erykah Badu and the incomparable Jill Scott, who I've also enjoyed in her role as Precious Ramotswe in the TV series of The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency.

But I digress.  This is a terriffic soundtrack to a fantastic idea Dave Chapelle had, and it really should be played on a summer's afternoon after a day at the beach, with the doors to the balcony wide open and something grilling on the barbecue, with a cold glass of something giving me a nice buzz and the salt crusting on my shoulders.  Roll on summer.


Monday, August 30, 2010

Sidewinder - Tangerine


Y'know, while we're doing this review-a-day thing I generally play my cards pretty close to my chest when it comes to music bought by YourZ that I'm not really familiar with.  I like to let him wait until I've written it down before he really discovers how I feel.  But when I heard Tangerine, I couldn't wait to come home and confront him, saying "How fucking good are Sidewinder?" (I'm trying to cut down on my profanity so you can tell I was moved.)

Side note: is a band a singular or a plural?  Do I say: How good is Sidewinder or: How good are Sidewinder?  Weirdly I would say R.E.M are touring next year but Bon Jovi isn't.  Thoughts?

This album is O-L-D... 1997 and recorded when they were young lads from our hometown Canberra (the nation's capital).  I'm horrified they never made it past this album, which sounds like the guys from Cream, the Byrds and the Beatles all had kids together who formed a band.  The songs Titanic Days and Here She Comes Again are particularly gorgeous.  I will play this album over and over agian, and I'm furious I didn't know about it before.



I was at the very first live show Sidewinder did, at a long-gone venue in Canberra called The Terminus Tavern.  It was a Sunday afternoon gig and friends (hi Nadine and Tim), who were in the headlining band, told us about this great young act and said my friends and I should make sure we get there early to see them.

Well, my friends weren't wrong - this band were young.  I think Martin was all of 14, although he looked somewhat older, while his big brother, Nick, may have been 16.  But as these kids played their set, everyone there soon realised that, despite their ages, this band had more potential than most of the other bands on the scene at the time.  And how right we were.

Sidewinder went from strength to strength, developing both as songwriters and performers.  I can't tell you how many times I saw them perform, first as support to the band I was in at the time then as headliners of their own shows.  We all loved them but we were also envious of their natural abilities and shining talents. Once they started recording, they outgrew Canberra very quickly and became a well-established name, not just locally, but Australia-wide.

On the recording front, they took their time and released a number of EPs, attempting to find their feet in the studio.  Their earliest, T Star, while probably not as confident as they would have liked, showed so much promise, it was scary.  This promise continued to show with the EPs that followed, Yoko Icepick and The Gentle Art Of Spoonbending and started to fully blossom on their first album, Atlantis.

But it wasn't until the first singles from Tangerine emerged that this promise really bloomed.  Titanic Days and Here She Comes Again were both huge songs, but also served to not only show the path the band had taken to get to where they were but also to show the direction they were heading.  When the album came out, local music press fell over itself trying to describe the depth and scope of the album.  From the beautiful, summery Sunshine In My Pocket (which Martin previewed on my guitar in my lounge room one afternoon) to the trippy Mad Women Of The Universe, as well as great rock tracks like God and Intensify, there was so much to take in.

What it showed to those of us who knew the band so well was the promise we knew they had absolutely realised.  But it was so much more than this, more than any of us expected.  And we were stunned.

Listening back to Tangerine now, I still feel stunned.  It's every bit as brilliant as I remember it but perhaps even more so because it still sounds so fresh, inventive and, more than anything else, relevant.  What pains me so much about this is that Sidewinder didn't last beyond this magnum opus.  Despite the promise, despite the blooming and the brightest of futures, they didn't last.

Tangerine is not just a Forgotten Gem (although it was hardly forgotten) but is quite possibly still one of the best pieces of music I own.  I was proud to call them friends.  And I still miss them.


Sunday, August 29, 2010

Run DMC - Raising Hell


This is why I like old-school hip hop so much.  The beats are fat and strong, the samples aren't buried under layers of effects and the flow is clean and consistently tight.  It really doesn't get much better than Raising Hell.

Then there's Walk This Way, which not only acknowleged that rock and hip hop could be a match made in heaven, it even invited the rock stars into its fold, turning the adversarial nature of the two genres into an iconic video clip and proving that music can make wonderful bedfellows out of the even the oddest of pairings.  This track, more than anything else, is also credited for resurrecting Aerosmith's flagging career. 

And who else could write such a song as My Adidas and make it sound so cool? 



I do tend to prefer my rap music with a musical background, and generally a whole album of it is just a bit too much.  Raising Hell is no exception, despite the inclusion of some world-class songs.

Therefore while I love It's Tricky, Raising Hell, You Be Illin' and of course Walk This Way, the rest of it's a bit shouty for me. 

I have no major moments to share with you regarding this album, as it's not mine.  And while I'd cherrypick the abovementioned tracks to punch up my playlist on the GymPod, it's not a CD I'd put on to while away a rainy day.


For more information: http://www.rundmc.com/

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Portastatic - I Hope Your Heart Is Not Brittle


Q: Who opens an album with an instrumental?
A: A band with a crap vocalist.

Seriously, Portastatic are capable of the odd good tune (few and far between here) but generally it's indie-rock-by-numbers, combined with the usual mix that drowns the vocals (fortunately in this case) along with a lot of whining, some shouting and some feedback.

We have so many CDs with much better music than this.



Ah, what a piece of indie self-indulgence this is!  Essentially a vehicle for lead Superchunk's Mac McCaughan (see our Superchunk's Foolish review here), this was one of those records I brought way back when because I'm such a friggin' completist.  I think I probably listened to it, oh maybe half a dozen times.  With the exception of maybe two tracks, the songs are ordinary and the album lacks any real consistency, often burying the vocals so deeply in the mix, you'd think some of these tracks were instrumental.

That there is a track on this album called Had says it all, really.

For more information: http://www.portastatic.com/

Friday, August 27, 2010

Nirvana - Nevermind


I knew who Nirvana were before Nevermind sent them into the stratosphere of rock.  I was one of those early adopters who bought Bleach and was blown away by their punk-rock-meets-Pixies-pop stylings.  My band at the time (hello former Scruffs!) did a cover of Love Buzz, inspired by their cover.  But then along came this album.  And it changed everything.

Nevermind was such a huge cross-over hit, the music industry had to change the way it was doing business.  Suddenly, 'indie' no longer inspired visuals of sweaty, long-haired lads tooling around the country in a exhaust-spewing van, surviving on bong-loads, beer and biscuits.  Now, every major label was stampeding over each other to find another Nirvana (I love the irony of these words).

Arguably, without Nirvana, bands like Soundgarden, Pearl Jam and Smashing Pumpkins (and so many more, I could be here for days making a list) wouldn't have found the fame they have done.  While these and many others that followed have had sterling careers, none have had the impact Nirvana has had.  They are indeed, for the want of a stupid, simple analogy, the Gen-X answer to The Beatles.

I was fortunate enough to see Nirvana live at the ANU Refectory in Canberra in the summer of 1992.  There were only 2000 tickets available for this show but another 1000 kids crushed each other against the glass windows, trying to get a glimpse of the band.  When some kids broke a window and poured through, a happy riot ensued.  None of us ticket-holders could begrudge them a chance to see this band live.  But little did we know it would be the first and last time the band made it to Australia.

I can't remember exactly what songs they played, but I do remember when they played Smells Like Teen Spirit, the venue became a single bouncing entity.  I honestly had never experienced anything like this before, and haven't since.  And I'm sure if Kurt knew this, it would make him smile.



So... what can I add after that?  I have to admit, when this album came out I was firmly entrenched in dance culture, and really didn't get it at all.  I think it took the MTV Unplugged session a couple of years later to reveal to me how good a singer Cobain was and how well he wrote.  And now?  I love it.  The beautiful moment when rock and pop co-exist in perfect symbiosis.  Also shows off what a kick-arse drummer Dave Grohl is.



For more information: http://www.myspace.com/nirvana

In our collection we also have Bleach

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Moby - Play


While this album was, like, bigger than the biggest thing ever for a while (more than 10 million copies sold and how many ads did that music feature on?) I never bought it.  Why would I need to - the songs were everywhere, plus everybody else had it, so no biggie.  I'm not sure if YourZ bought this then or later, as a "we should have this" buy, but I'm glad he did.

It's worth the hype.  11 years on the tunes are still fresh(ish) and the sound is lovely.  A mix of up- and down-beat, the thing I noticed the most today is how playing this album encouraged some introspection.  I found myself thinking of all the things that have happened to me since this CD came out.  A whole new life, a whole new me.  Missing my dad.  Stuff.

VERDICT: TURN IT UP even though it's good whatever volume you play it at


Ah Moby, what a funny little man he is.  But boy, he sure writes some great tunes.  There was a time when I thought he was the shit, as far as this sort of music goes.  I'm not sorry to say I don't think this so much anymore, but it was this record that developed my liking for some electronica, so its not all bad.  I also think the saturation levels achieved by Play were a contributing factor to my general anti-Moby stance.  Those frickin' songs were everywhere, man.

But thankfully, it had been some time since I last heard Play.  It really is a great record and definitely deserved the accolades it got when it was first released over a decade ago (doesn't this little factoid make you feel old?  It makes me feel fuckin' ancient...)  I remember reading all sorts of crap about how he put the album together, most of which wasn't true.  What is true, however, is that he pretty much did the whole album himself, apart from the samples.  This alone demands a certain amount of respect, however begrudging. 


For more information: http://www.moby.com/

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Love Me - Greedy Hen


The main voice of this mostly-defunct four piece has so much character and grit, it would make even the most grizzled alt-country wanna-be curl up in the foetal position and cry like a baby.  But they'd howl like a branded calf to know this voice belongs to a woman.

The only thing that bothers me about this band is, well, two things actually.  First of all, I don't like their name.  Not one bit.  I think it's silly, shows little thought and is the last thing a band who sound the way they do should be called.  I don't know if they were trying to be ironic or what but it obviously didn't work. 

The second thing is the name of the album - Greedy Hen.  There has to be some kind of in-joke going on here because this is the only reason I can see why they would choose to name their album this.  And in-jokes simply don't work if the average joe punter (me) doesn't understand. (Mine says: it's also a chorus in one of the songs... can't remember which one and it seemed a bit incongruous as well)

Apart from this criticism, I actually dig *urgh* Greedy Hen a lot.  As I mentioned, Mandy Pearson's voice is an aural treat, as is the rest of the band.  Mostly recorded live in a local studio, Love Me drip with character and passion.  It's just a crying shame they couldn't have picked a better name.



I gotta call it - this is a Forgotten Gem for me.  I can't remember why or how I heard about Love Me or what possessed me to buy Greedy Hen (and isn't that a silly name for an album?) but this band has some great tunes.

A lot country and a bit rock, main singer Mandy Pearson has a lazy, husky drawl that only enhances songs like Sleepy Sunday and Turpentine.  I'm not sure how to describe them, but there's a rawness to this recording that appeals to me.  I did have some inner winces at some of the mix, but overall I wish there was more of Love Me to love.   The album also features keyboards by Chris Abrahams from the Necks, and if you really want a head-fuck, listen to some of their shit.

VERDICT: TURN IT UP ...it ain't rock and roll if it don't look good in black

For more information: http://www.vitamin.net.au/ and search for Love Me in their Music list

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings - 100 Days, 100 Nights


This CD breaks all my rules.  I mean, it sounds like classic 50s-60s soul, but it's been written and recorded right now.  And ordinarily I'd sniffily call this sort of music "wanna-be soul" - except it doesn't wanna be, it damn well is.

Sharon can wail like Aretha or Diana or any one of those fabulous soul divas, and that band is tight.  Plus (and I don't mean to sound like a production Nazi here, but) that production is faultless.

This music is like discovering a whole new novel by an author you love and thought you'd read everything they'd ever written.  It's a modern classic.

VERDICT: TURN IT UP and get boogying, y'all


Thank you, Spicks And Specks.  If it weren't for this excellent music quiz show, we wouldn't have heard about the marvellous voice of Sharon Jones and her incredile soul-funk band, The Dap-Kings.  Appearing on an episode, she blew us away with one of the challenges, to sing a song using the words of an unrelated piece of text.  She was, simply and crudely put, fucking brilliant.

In fact, we have Spicks And Specks to thank for a number of our favourite pieces of music but more of that later.  In the meantime, 100 Days, 100 Nights could easily be the soundtrack to our other viewing experience of late, that of the marvellous HBO series, Treme.  Take the hint, sucker, and get watching!

We've expressed our love of good funk and soul before and while this isn't breaking new ground, it certainly shows there is still great music being made in this genre.  You just gotta keep an eye out for it.

VERDICT: TURN IT UP and shimmy like a slinky thang, you...

Monday, August 23, 2010

Heart - Greatest Hits


Heart is definitely a 'I like their old stuff better than their new stuff' band for me.  Barracuda, Magic Man and Crazy On You were the tracks that impressed my friends and I back when these songs were first released.  That the band was led by two spunky girls who *gasp* played rock guitar like boys made this band all the more exciting. 

I am not, however, a fan of their ballads.  Long, over-earnest looks into the camera, soft lighting and schmaltzy backings just make me gag.  This is not a good look on me at the best of times.  I think one of my workmates thought I was trying to swallow my tongue.

Thankfully technology enables me to skip over those transgressions quickly, so my gagging was limited to noise and a little spittle on the keyboard.  This collection doesn't concentrate too much on that period of their career, thankfully.  Instead, it reminded me of how good some of their other rockin' tracks are, like Heartless, Bebe Le Strange and Even It Up - top stuff.  And their live cover of Zeppelin's Rock And Roll is just magic, man. (Mine says: can't believe you wrote that)



Led Zeppelin for chicks.  Ann Wilson's vocals just thrill me every time, but I have to admit I've never owned the band on flat black plastic.  In fact, my recent rediscovering of the band came about because of a movie, The Virgin Suicides.  Which I could rave about night and day but I'll leave that for another time.

Anyway, as I recall the soundtrack to the prom is Magic Man, which has been a favourite song for ever, and prompted me to first go out and buy the film soundtrack, and then to buy this Greatest Hits CD.  Which, dammit, I don't listen to often enough.  There's dreamy ballady stuff and even - goodness, is that a banjo on Dreamboat Annie

There's a bunch of live stuff and it wraps up with a lovely version of Rock And Roll.  I turned this up to 11 (actually 26 on the car stereo) and had a ball.

VERDICT: TURN IT UP (wish I could approximate the opening riff to Barracuda but you get the drift)

For more information: http://www.heart-music.com/

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Gotye - Like Drawing Blood


OK, must write a critical review.  Be critical.  Ummmm.... his name's a bit hard to pronounce (GO-ti-yay is as near an approximation as I can manage).  Seven Hours With A Backseat Driver is a bit soporific (YourZ sez: it kinda reminds me of a Gorillaz out-take).

No, I can't do it.  I love Wally and OH MY GOD the world should too.  Stunning videos, beautiful music, and a voice I can only describe as chocolate-coated.  What are you waiting for?  I want this on as high a rotation as possible on everyone's iPod.  Now.



Wally De Backer aka Gotye, is a very talented chap and an all round beautiful human being (and I don't mean this is a shallow, physical sense either).  He put everything together for this very fine album by cobbling scratchy old samples and his own instrumentation (he's a very good drummer, among other things) in various bedrooms around Melbourne (take that, you overly expensive, time-consuming studios). 

What he came up with is a set of songs that range from wonderful chilled pop songs to divine soul-influenced tracks to percussion-laden electro-pop gems, with sidetracks into dub land and beyond.  And the production is superb.

But the strength of this album doesn't lie in the music or the production - it's Wally's voice.  Mine describes it as 'chocolate-coated', and it is.  But it's so much more.  There is a fragile strength in it that can only be appreciated by listening to it.  And, as Mine says, what are you waiting for?


For more information: http://www.gotye.com/

In our collection we also have Mixed Blood and Boardface

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Front End Loader - How Can We Fail When We're So Sincere


Front End Loader are, without a doubt, one of the best live bands in Australia, even though they don't play so much anymore.  But when they do, it's a guaranteed sellout show.  It's their no-bullshit attitude coupled with some of the best rock musicians in the country that give them this status.  I've seen them on small pub stages, at larger venues and at huge festivals - it doesn't matter where, they're always on their game.

I also think both Davis Claymore and Bow Campbell's vocals are not only on the money but some of the best in this wide brown land.  And the rhythm section of Rich Corey on bass and Pete Kostic on drums (who also plays the skins for Regurgitator and The Hard Ons) are so tight, they're waterproof.

The biggest mystery is why FEL haven't taken off both in Australia and around the world.  They write smart, articulate rock that moves from punk-ish styling to melodic alt-rock and everything in between.  Each of their albums has seen the band stretch themselves but remain resolutely original.  Maybe it's this uncompromising attitude that has held them at odds with the generally narrow-minded music industry in Australia.  And more's the pity because this is a band that deserves wider fame.



It was better than I expected, but there were no Pavement-style moments here for me.  The songs are well-written and performed, plus the production didn't suck, but I'm afraid I don't think their lead singer's got enough of a voice to carry them.

Apart from that, it's pretty standard rock.  So while I wouldn't make a face if YourZ put it on, it's not an album I'd reach for myself.


In our collection we also have Front End Loader (self-titled) and Last Of The V8 Interceptors

Friday, August 20, 2010

Frenzal Rhomb - Meet the Family


It's like The Living End, only bad.  Well, not bad as such, just repetitive and repetitive and - did I mention it's repetitive?  The songs are mercifully short, all in the Hi-NRG punkabilly mould, often involving SHOUTING with bad language sometimes randomly thrown in.  I don't mind swearing in a song if there's a reason for it (actually the last track, You Can't Move Into My House has lots of swearing in it but is quite funny) but most of this album is just really juvenile.

It's designed for boys of about 15-25 who no doubt smoke a lot of bongs before pogoing and performing air guitar while this is turned up to 11.

Here's hoping my husband's grown out of that. (YourZ sez: but, but... oh, alright)



This is great Aussie punk from an uncompromising band of ratbags, some of whom more recently found a modicum of respectability with a morning DJ gig on Triple J, Australia's alternative radio station.  The song titles are mostly designed to get young lads guffawing into their hands.  And the song Guns Don't Kill Ducklings (Ducklings Kill Ducklings) gets a vote for one of my favourite song titles, even though the song is fairly ordinary.

But really, Mine is right. (Mine says: was there ever any doubt?)  I have grown out of this.  In fact, I'd grown out of this years ago.  Oh, there's nothing wrong with what they do - they actually do make some relevant points, albeit couched in punk vernacular.  But it's just not for me anymore.


For more information: http://freindsofron.blogspot.com/

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Everlast - Eat At Whiteys


This is the follow-up to Erik 'Everlast' Schrody's huge hit album, Whitey Ford Sings The Blues.  While Eat At Whiteys contains much of the same formula as previous and includes some big name guests including Carlos Santana and Cee-Lo, it hasn't been high on my play list for some time.  But listening back to this album made me realise how much I like his gravelly sing/rap voice, ever since his days as the front man for House Of Pain. 

But it is his blending of acoustic rock and rap that really works for me.  The combination of fat beats and bass lines coupled with (mostly) acoustic guitar sounds like it was meant to be.  I also really like the relative lack of the usual rap production and posturing.  Everlast clearly writes songs as opposed to raps and beats.  Oh sure, it is probably more of the same but so what - it works well and casts him as a unique voice in a field of posers and pretenders.


You know, I liked it!  I wasn't expecting to, and the opening number was decidedly skip-worthy, but most of it was great.  The guest list is impressive and the songs (apart from some quite ordinary rap) were well put together and beautifully produced.

I'd listen to it again.


For more information: http://www.martyr-inc.com/

In our collection we also have Whitey Ford Sings The Blues

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Chris Cornell- Carry On


I don't even like Soundgarden much, and my views on Audioslave have already been noted here.



Bought on a whim, Carry On is the second solo album from the former Soundgarden and Audioslave vocalist.  While there's no denying he has one of the best voices in the world, instantly recognisable and awesome in both power and passion, I don't think I've listened to this album more than a half dozen times.

I don't want to say this, but without the backing of some of the bands he's previously fronted, it all sounds a bit boring and over-earnest.  Frankly, it's disappointing.  No wonder he's gone back to his old band.  Now, when are Soundgarden going to tour here?


For more information: http://www.chriscornell.com/

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Bullfrog - Bullfrog


Canadian band, Bullfrog, are one of those treasures rarely and often accidentally discovered by collectors such as myself.  I can't remember exactly where I got it, but listening back to it for this review, I'm surprised it hasn't been played lots more as it really is a great record of funk, off-kilter pop, jazz and hip hop and is ostensibly a live recording. 

Mine and YourZ (truly) have been watching a great new HBO series called Treme, which is about the lives of various New Orleans inhabitants immediately after Cyclone Katrina.  Of course, the biggest star of the show is the music, that of the Orleans funk and more traditional jazz and cajun blues.  Bullfrog sound like they could be one of the house bands for any of the venues featured in the show, such is the richness of texture and sheer talent of this band.

For this reason, among many, this is another Forgotten Gem



...and here we have the split between us, once again.  I hadn't really listened to Bullfrog before, even though it's been played a bit in our house, because it's generally been background to parties or just to living.  So I was surprised when I didn't really like it.

There are two reasons for this.  First is because they're another band who feel they have to mention their name in just about every song.  I mean, what?  Don't you think I can read the CD cover?  Do I have short-term memory loss?  What was the question again?

And secondly, although they're a great band with some really catchy tunes - none of the songs seem to actually go anywhere.  There's a lot of noodling and clever stuff, but largely it lacks structure.  It had the editor in me reaching for the red pen, so I could cross out this bit and that bit and move this one around there and then how about we tighten up here and...

Nice background music, but for a close-up listen, a tad self-indulgent. 


For more information: http://www.gobullfrog.com/

Monday, August 16, 2010

Badly Drawn Boy - The Hour Of Bewilderbeast


I tried hard to like Badly Drawn Boy, given every critic in the world (it seemed) has sung his praises, but really I can't.

That's because he just puts too much into each song.  I mean, the melodies are lovely, but I really have no idea if he can sing, because all his vocals are muffled and/or obscured by the layers and layers and layers and... layers of other stuff that's going on.

It's another CD that got me annoyed enough to yell at it, and abandon listening about three songs from the end.  So I'm sorry if one of those is a masterpiece, but even then it wouldn't be enough to keep it hanging around.



I really don't know what to make of Damon Gough, aka Badly Drawn Boy.  The Hour Of Bewilderbeast was talked about a lot when it came out and I'm really not one for taking much notice of hype, particularly when it's led by the British music press who continually display a heavy bias towards their own.

It wasn't until this album turned up in a discount bin that I actually got it and gave it a listen.  And then it went straight into the collection where it's stayed ever since.  It kind of reminds me of over-earnest young solo musicians playing at a local open-mic night to three friends and bar staff.  The reality is if I wanted to listen to something like this, I'd go to Nick Drake or M Ward or, in fact, just about anyone else.


For more information: http://www.badlydrawnboy.co.uk/

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Wolfmother - Cosmic Egg


Okay, I'm gonna do my damndest to avoid using any of the cliched descriptions that have been used to describe Wolfmother in the past.  Nope, you won't read that they sound like a cross between Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath.  Nor will you see me saying Stockdale takes his vocal cues from a combination of Chris Cornell and Robert Plant, with a little Jack White thrown in the mix.  I won't mention stoner rock, blues rock, Kyuss or Hendrix either.

Now, with all those unmentionables out of the way, lets talk about Cosmic Egg.  Erm...  Well, it rocks like...  ah, nope, can't say that.  They rock out like...  can't say that either.  And Stockdale's voice, well...  Bugger it!

Okay, how about I try it this way.  If you like any of the bands above, in any form, then you will dig Wolfmother.  They are, with a doubt, one of the best revivalist rock bands in the world.  Some of the biggest names in music profess to be fans and they attract an unusal amount of attention from b-list celebrities as well.  But then, I suppose any road to success is a good road.



I suppose the advent of Wolfmother won't deter any of those boys who want their own version of Led Zeppelin from doing it - but it should.  This is how it should be.

How can I tell?  Because while I was listening to this CD it really didn't matter what volume I used, low or soft, I could clearly hear the lyrics and understand what was being sung, while at the same time enjoying every layer of A-grade rawk accompanying them.  OK, this type of music isn't generally a favourite of mine, but I had no difficulty listening to any of these songs from beginning to end.

It's good music, done well.  Now, will all those other spotty boys trying to do the same thing pay attention?  Probably not.


For more information: http://www.wolfmother.com/

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Turin Brakes - Ether Song


When the pointy stick landed on Ether Song rather than The Optimist LP, the Brakes' debut, YourZ and I both experienced a twinge of regret.  Not that Ether Song is a bad CD - it's gorgeous - but just that The Optimist LP is one of those albums that's entered into our consciousness and won't ever be expelled.  It's as beautiful today as the day I first heard it.  And I last listened to it last weekend.

Given all that, I guess the thing I most want to say is - why haven't Turin Brakes achieved massive world domination?  Their deceptively simple melodies, note-perfect close harmonies, their swing from acoustic to electric and back - these guys are just as good as Crowded House ever were with possibly a touch more sophistication.

Pain Killer is the standout track on the CD but it's all just good.  If you haven't heard of this band, take a look here.  How good is that?


I can't believe it's been nearly 10 years since the release of Turin Brakes first album, The Optimist LP.  That particular album has spent more time on our CD player than a lot of other albums combined.  It's such a wonderful early morning after a rowdy late night record and there hasn't really been anything else that has come along to replace it.

Unfortunately, I'm not nearly as familiar with Ether Song as I am with the above.  The songwriting is every bit as good, as are those wonderful Bowie-esque harmonies.  This album is a little more electric than its predecessor but still sounds like Olly and Gale are sitting in the corner of my loungeroom, singing these songs live.  It also has their biggest single to date in Pain Killer, a great modern folk-rock song and very reminiscent of their sound.

What this doesn't have, unfortunately, is the same connection to a time and place as The Optimist LP does.  I'm sure this could be remedied, if it weren't for the fact I have so much music already.  But I'll give it my best shot.


For more information: http://www.turinbrakes.com/

In our collection we also have The Optimist LP and Jackinabox

Friday, August 13, 2010

Bruce Springsteen - The Essential Bruce Springsteen


Years ago, I worked with a couple of ladies who were, to put it mildly, Springsteen fanatics.  Now I don't have a problem with fandom, not even with geeky fandom.  I might even be accused of being somewhat this way about a few bands myself. 

The problem I had with these ladies is their love of Bruce only came about because of the song Dancing In The Dark and the accompanying album.  I remember at a coffee break one afternoon discussing their attendance at a Bruce concert in the near future and that he was reknowned for putting on great, long live shows with lots of his old material and how cool it would be to see he and the E Street band performing such classics as Blinded By The Light, Thunder Road, The River or, of course, Born To Run. 

The looks on their faces said at all.  They had no idea what I was talking about.  They recognised the names of a couple of the songs but didn't know them.  I equated this with saying you're a Beatles fan but them admitting to not knowing anything before, lets say, Sgt. Peppers.  Now I realise I was probably being a smug SOB but back then, I just couldn't let them get away it.  I remember peppering them with assaults about being 'chart' fans and not knowing the 'real' Bruce.  (It must be said I'd never met or seen him live either, so my extremely limited righteousness was based on the few records I heard and what I'd read).  Such is the arrogance of youth, I guess.

Those girls came back converted.  Not only did they enjoy seeing the songs they knew and loved but fell for all his old material, as much of it as they heard, anyway.  And like a Bruce show, this collection is in no way complete.  But really, I think to properly appreciate Springsteen, the songs have to be listened to in the context of the album they came from (yes, Mine, some more albums to add to that list).  But this is a great collection nonetheless.  Listening back to it made me want to jump in the car and get out while we're still young (okay, reasonably middle-aged but allow me my fantasy, will ya?)

VERDICT: TURN IT UP because tramps like us, baby, we're born to run


Bruce.  Broooooooce.  There's so much I have to say!

How about, I think Springsteen is a songwriter in the same way Stephen King is a writer - he distils modern America while still remaining relevant to the nitty gritty moments in life we all experience.  Although Bruce is less about the horror and more about the everyday.

Then there's the voice - unmistakable with that hint of a growl - and I don't know about any other ladies out there, but he certainly rates highly on my seduct-o-meter.  Not to mention he just gets better looking.

What if I take a walk through this 3 CD set and just marvel at the range of songs - some of which I can cheerfully never hear again after my time in commercial radio, but many I just want to listen to over and over.  Walk with me through my favourites - Thunder Road, Born To Run, The River, Nebraska, Brilliant Disguise, Human Touch, Lucky Town. And even though I've heard it a thousand times, Glory Days just gets more and more relevant as I get older and greyer.

Then there's that glittering moment on Welcome to the Pleasuredome.  Yes, I'm talking about Frankie Goes to Hollywood.  I've searched YouTube and no-one's uploaded the original track but there's a wonderful mash-up of the Gerry and the Pacemakers song Ferry 'Cross the Mersey crossed with Born To Run.  Magic.

And it wouldn't be a review from me without telling you about the time I saw Bruce.  The Ghost of Tom Joad tour.  In the fancy-schmancy State Theatre because this wasn't a greatest-hits Bruce, this was the slowed-down, stripped-back version with no Born In The USA moments.  And he was brilliant.  Incandescent.  Although my night's entertainment was soured somewhat by the drunk merchant bankers in front of me who apparently hadn't bothered to read what the tour was about, and persisted in the "Broooooce" calls throughout the show.  But apart from that I had a damn fine time, and I have a fond memory of Bruce playing Red Headed Woman for Patti - who was there!

So I guess all that remains is to say to YourZ - who bought this for me some time ago - thank you.  (YourZ sez: you're very welcome, my love).  And I really, really need to play it more.  It's easy to skip Dancing (shudder) for the rest of the album - which is magnificent.


For more information: http://www.brucespringsteen.net/

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Sandpit - On Second Thought


Boring.  Dated.  Could have been one of hundreds of indie-rock bands around in the mid-to-late '90s.



Their one and only album, Sandpit's On Second Thought was one of those albums I really liked when I first got it.  I played it a lot for a while but then it kind of got left behind as newer fancies caught my attention.

While I don't necessarily agree with Mine's opinion about this band, I too feel it's become dated but more because I'm no longer that sad, somewhat lonely person I was then and am certainly beyond the depressiveness of such tracks as I Positively Hate You Now and Greater Expectations.  In fact, these songs only serve to remind me of how good a band Sebadoh is and how they do this sort of thing much better than Sandpit could ever have done.


For more information: http://sandpit.bandcamp.com/

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Pixies - Death To The Pixies


The first Pixies song I ever heard was the their single Here Comes Your Man off the album Doolittle.  In fact, what I saw was the video for the track, where the band mimes with their mouths wide open.  The track itself has such a classic feel about it, I was surprised to find out it was an original composition.  The second song I ever heard was Tame, from the same album.  I remember being absolutely smitten with the song but unable to believe it was made by the same band. 

But the reality is the Pixies were able to pull off great pop and blistering punk rock, sometimes in the same song.  Their soft/loud formula became the template for myriad bands that followed, most notably and widely discussed among them being Nirvana.  Kurt Cobain professed his love of this band numerous times but also indicated they played a big part in the development of his band's sound.

What they did for me was show me, as both a songwriter and fan of both pop music melody and rock aesthetics, that I could write songs combining these two loves and make them into a bigger, better whole.  Of course, my music career never took the same high roads as Nirvana's but nevertheless, the influence was the same.  The band I was in around this time even covered one of their songs, U-Mass, such was our love of the Pixies.

The other thing I remember this band doing is uniting previously disparate groups of people under the single flag of indie rock, with both the American grunge and British music fans falling for this band.  What is mostly amazing to me listening back to this great collection is why the rest of the world didn't see the genius of the Pixies like we did.



I was never much of a Pixies fan.  I mean, I liked Here Comes Your Man and Monkey Gone To Heaven, but I never owned an album.  So it was interesting to listen to this best-of compilation -  and it's mostly well-put together rock.  Of course my indie-band complaint surfaced pretty quickly - what's the point of having lyrics for songs if you can't hear what's being sung?  But those tunes were thankfully in the minority. 

I have to say, I don't like Debaser even though some might say it's the quintessential Pixies song.  But I did like Caribou and I always appreciate a bite of girl-styled rawk.  I can also appreciate the production - these songs sound like they're almost recorded live.  There's a rawness and an urgency that you generally don't get with a studio sound.  But that's no excuse for unintelligible lyrics.  Not at all. 


For more information: http://www.pixiesmusic.com/

In our collection we also have Come On Pilgrim

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

N.E.R.D - In Search Of...


I was kind of annoyed when it was this N.E.R.D album that came up for review and not any of the others, as this one has only just come off my gymPod after being one of the first albums I added to it.  It's great for motivating that extra burst of energy out of you, and Pharell Williams is a genius of production, no contest.  But it's not been that long since these tunes came up over and over again - and I thought I needed a break.

However, listening to this CD today made me realise how great these songs are all over again, and it's best listening to them one after the other, as the cumulative effect of all that greatness is better than the singular nature of the songs.  Yes, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.  (YourZ sez: dead right, baby even though there is some great parts)

This is hip-hop and R&B as it should be - using diverse elements including rock guitar (Rock Star) to showcase the band's musical talents.  My favourite song is Brain, but Lapdance and Bobby James are right up there.

VERDICT: TURN IT UP it's almost over now, almost over now


If I was 20 years younger, I probably wouldn't want to be admitting what I am about to admit mostly because my peers back then wouldn't understand.  But the thing about growing old disgracefully is the older you get, the more you lose your sense of shame, not that what I'm about to say is shameful.

I really like N.E.R.D.  I can't stand any of their contemporaries - Blacked Eyed Peas shit me to tears, for instance.  But there is something about this three-piece that consistently blows me away.  And In Search Of..., their magnificent d├ębut, is my favourite of their three albums.  There is just the right blend of tight beats, quality production and great songs to have me singing along for days.  Like Mine, I've listened to this album more times than I can count but unlike her, I've never grown even slightly tired of it.

We saw them live a few years ago.  It was a muggy, dusty day at the Randwick Race Course - Future Music was the name of the festival.  In a rather telling move, we stuck around long enough to see them play a blistering set before heading home.  This is the other part about growing old disgracefully: you wanna have the energy to keep up with the young uns but all you really want is the comfort of your lounge and a good cup of tea.

VERDICT: TURN IT, f*#king poser...

For more information: http://n-e-r-d.com/

In our collection, we also have Fly Or Die and Seeing Sounds

Monday, August 9, 2010

Bob Marley & The Wailers - One Love, The Very Best Of


As Mine will attest, I really do like me some reggae, mon.  (Okay, this is as far as I take the white-boy rasta crap, okay, so relax).  For the most part, I'm not a devout fan of any particular reggae artist, with the exception of Bob.  And I think this has something to do with a teenage memory.  There has been enough already written about Marley, I'm not going to bother rehashing stuff you probably already know.  But I am going to tell you a wee story.

You see, throughout high school, my family lived on the Northern Beaches of Sydney, in a beautiful neighbourhood.  This was in the late mid to late 70s and we lived this almost-idyllic beachside lifestyle, riding skateboards or hanging out with a bunch of neighbourhood kids at the beach.  In the summer holidays, we spent virtually every moment there.

One of these kids had an elder sister who we all adored from afar.  She had long straight hair and a surfy-hippy chick thing happening.  Or maybe it was more the Marcia Brady thing going - can't tell me if you were my age back then, Marcia was always the one.  The only difference was Marcia didn't sunbathe topless.  Our friend's sister did and had no problems hanging out at the beach with us. If fact, I think she enjoyed the attention.  Naturally, we spent a lot of our time lying face down in the sand.  For some reason, when I hear the songs of Marley, I am reminded of her.  This is not the only reason I like Bob, but it is a good one.

VERDICT: TURN IT UP, little darlin'...


I've mentioned before I'm not really that fond of reggae music - although the musical stylings of Bob Marley are somewhat of an exception.  This is a great best-of album, and I loved singing along to ExodusI Shot The Sheriff and No Woman No Cry.

It's just not the sort of album I'd envision putting on when I'm at home reading a book, or doing some housework.  It's not an album I'd reach for voluntarily at all.


For more information: http://web.bobmarley.com/

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Lovey - Lemonheads


The opening track is really quite awful, but the rest of the album's better.  However, it sounds to me like just another one of those indie-pop bands, with that tendency to shift into whiny-sounding lead vocals.  Look, I know you're trying to sell records to disaffected teenage youth, but do you have to sound like any one of my nephews when he's asked to shift his ass off the couch and help around the house?

That said, there's no denying Evan Dando was a babe.  And still is, if Holly is to be believed.



It's been a long time since I heard Lovey.  It's another one of those albums that was never far away from the player for a long time but in more recent years, has spent more time languishing in the back of the collection, perhaps in a some sort of sympathy for Dando's flagging career or maybe because I simply moved on.  Who knows...

I got mouthy and declared it a Forgotten Gem before I heard it again but listening back to it now, I'm going to recant that statement.  There are some cool songs on this, but it just isn't a Gem.  It's more a great snapshot and reminder of a time in my life when I was reasonably young, long-haired and mostly carefree. (Mine says: As opposed to now when you're reasonably old, hair-free and with long cares?) 

However, I will still name Half The Time as one of my favourite songs.  I don't know what it is about it, but I find it beautiful and irresistable.  And his cover of Gram Parson's Brass Buttons is both reverent and gorgeous, particularly when I saw it performed live around the same time.  If they ever make a bio of Parson's life, Evan would play the part very well, I think.


For more information: http://www.thelemonheads.net/

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Jo Jo Zep and the Falcons - The Very Best of


Jo Jo Zep, along with a few other Aussie bands, were a big favourite when I was in my last couple of years of high school.  Not favoured enough to buy anything of theirs, mind you (couldn't have my Kiss, Cheap Trick, AC/DC and Cold Chisel friends knowing I also liked them - damn peer group pressure!)  But they were regularly featured on Countdown and other Aussie rock shows at the time and also big hits at local Blue Light Discos.

The thing I liked about them was not only were they writing great, catchy, ska-tinged songs (at least for the first few big singles) but they were quality musicians and part of a larger group of Australian musicians and songwriters who were setting new standards (this does include Chisel, who had the incredilbe songwriting talents of Don Walker).

Tracks like Hit & Run, Shape I'm In and Puppet On A String were not only infectious, but great to dance to as well, back when I did actually shake my tail feather.  These were like our answer to all the great British punk and ska music being made at the time but without the crap clothes and spittle.



I just realised there's yet another way I'm like Lisa Simpson - I love the saxophone (or as her dad would say, the sax-a-ma-phone).  And the sound of Jo Jo Zep and the Falcons is centred around frontman Joe Camilleri's saxophone stylings.  I've seen the band, way back when in Melbourne, maybe even on a double bill with Paul Kelly and the Dots - but my memory of the early 80s is getting a bit sketchy in parts these days.  (YourZ sez: must have been either 80 or 81 as the band were kaput after that).

Listening to the album (which isn't the one pictured but has most of the same songs on it) I just felt, well, 20 again.  The band's sound moves from vaguely 50s doo-wop through a more rockabilly style - and my favourite song, Taxi Mary, has a real Latin beat.

I also loved Camilleri's follow-up band the Black Sorrows and listening to this CD has just made me more hungry for our household to finally bite the bullet and get a real live turntable - so I can listen to the original Zep album I had - Screaming Targets - and to the three or more Black Sorrows albums that are gathering dust.

By the way, I differ from Lisa in that I'm not an 8-year-old yellow vegetarian cartoon character with a brother and sister who likes to play the blues.  Otherwise, we're pretty close.


For more information: http://www.joecamilleri.com.au/

Friday, August 6, 2010

Cody Chestnutt - The Headphone Masterpiece


Funny, I thoiught this was a good album when I heard it before.  I guess that's because I wasn't really listening - it was just background.  And now I've listened to it, I can tell you I don't think it's very good at all.

While the tunes are OK, this man is NOT a lyricist.  Banal, misogynistic and full of that niggaz-n-hoes stuff that makes me shudder.



Okay, so I bought this long-winded double album for one song - Look Good In Leather - mainly because the accompanying video looked so much fun.  The song is a piece of lo-fi perfection.  However, a lot of The Headphone Masterpiece falls short of the promise of this song and the rather over-bearing album title.

However, as you wade through a lot of the crap, there are a few promising gems: Eric Burdon, Daylight, Upstarts In A Blowout, The Seed (famously covered by The Roots) and No One Will.  There probably are a few more but when stretched for time, I just couldn't be bothered listening to both discs in one go.

The biggest problem I have with the whole thing is the inconsistency of recording.  It pans back and forth, instruments drop out and there's an unnerving clunk at the start of each song.  Obviously, he couldn't afford to have this mastered.  And while I know Cody spent a lot of time in his loungeroom with four track recording a whole bunch of diverse tracks, I really think should have picked the best and released an EP.  Or maybe an extended single.

As for the title, well it's nothing if not ambitious because a masterpiece this certainly ain't.


Thursday, August 5, 2010

Mark Gillespie - Flame


Mark Gillespie is an Australian artist I know nothing about.  There is very little information about him online too.  He must be a pretty nice bloke though, because it seems he's spent more time in his life focussed on helping those less fortunate than him. 

However, his musical legacy is why we're here.  I guess the best way to describe Gillespie is like an antipodean Eric Clapton but without the chops.  If he were playing other people's songs, the sound would be the sort found on any Friday or Saturday night in any suburban pub still capable of putting on a live band.  The sort of places I avoid. 

However, he is playing original compositions.  Pretty bog standard, white blues songs with touches of soul, country and reggae. And really bad, tinny synth horns... *shudder*



In 1992, when Flame was released, I had a habit of going out dancing on a Friday and Saturday night.  Before I left, at about 11 pm or so, I'd set the video recorder (remember them?) to record rage, the all-night music TV show, for me to watch when I got home.  Fridays is new music night and Saturday features a guest programmer.  And that's where I saw the video for Flame (the song) and became obsessed.

The video of that song got played over and over, and eventually I tracked down the album, to play the song itself over and over.  And putting the CD on the other day brought that feeling back to me.  It's a startling song, opening with  I heard you had a bad disease/ that you picked up overseas.  Not your usual pretty pop song and his voice is low, sleazy and sardonic, with some really interesting guitar-picking lines.  But then the rest of the album kicked in, and I remembered why this CD's been consigned to the "don't play" list.

The other songs are nothing like the title track.  They're just - ordinary.  A bit like this video that I found on YouTube from 1979.  Apparently he has a kind of a cult following here in Australia, but I'm not one of them.


For more information: this has a brief history