I’m just back from a couple of days in Melbourne at the Supersense festival, and am kind of exhausted but mostly happy. So I figured while it was fresh I’d note some thoughts on the whole shebang.
Stage and stalls
The festival bills itself as an examination of the ecstatic experience, and that pretty accurately covers the couple of days I spent in the phone coverage-free bowels of Arts Centre Melbourne. Like other festivals it’s run to a timetable, sure. But this one saw performances enacted in familiar venues seen from unusual perspectives: foyers, rehearsal rooms and, notably, viewed from an enormous stage (and not the stalls). Throughout, I saw and heard a dedication to pushing music somewhere that transcends the idea of mere performance – sometimes unsuccessfully, but often brilliantly.
WELL HERE IT IS. Once more it’s time for a recap on what I did during the year, stuffwise. Previous versions are here, here and here, if you need an origin story.
Once more, I’m unsure who would actually read this all the way through, given the self-indulgence herein, but don’t worry – I’ve found an image that reflects both the world’s 2016 and my thoughts on writing the thing.
Take that, ya lousy fuckin’ year. And you too, ya lousy fuckin’ typing guy.
Well, in a minute. There’s been a lot of Goodreads reviews popping up here, largely because I’ve been churning through the Preacher trades. I’ll write on other stuff soon, no doubt, but until then enjoy something missed from my ’90s challenge posts – non-Australian music. This album was one I listened to a lot and it still remains one of those with no volume ceiling: no matter how much you turn it up, it could always go just a little further.
Well, this is day seven of seven. And I’ve gone with perhaps the most predictable choice for last: You Am I. Anyone who knows me from my university days knows that this was my band, and this song my jam. At that time of my life they were massively important. I don’t listen to them as much these days, but that’s OK: once you’ve heard as much as I have, it’s always sort of there.
This song is a classic of nerdy outsider anthems, and I’m not the only arts dick who thought it was kinda written for them.
I’m aware this is a bit of a cop-out, but I’ve written about this song before. I looked over my old blog post and it all rang true. Head over here to check it out. It expresses why I love this band in general, and this song in particular.
(There’s also some entries about my first own-bought guitar, a shitty car and more about night driving, which seems to be a theme in these posts.)
We’re entering the home stretch now: just today and tomorrow to go. (Well, maybe an additional day for non-Australian stuff, but hell.) So today I’d like to lay some more instrumental stuff on you: the band that sounds like Australia, to me, really. The band whose line in a) stage banter and b) grim weepers is pretty much without peer. The band who I’m always happy to see, despite knowing a serious bumming-out will occur at some point during their gigs. The band I have pushed upon people relentlessly, zealot-eyed because I know that they’re pretty much the best thing ever.
For day five of the ’90s Musical Memories challenge, I figured I’d go with something without words. It’s by a band who I discovered thanks to a tween magazine, and who generally make their work on the fly. The song I’ve chosen is fairly unique in the band’s catalogue as it comes from an album that’s both a soundtrack and a collection of short pieces. (They’re normally keen on disc-long tracks, so anything less than about 30 minutes is punk as fuck, as far as they’re concerned.)
So listen, won’t you, to ‘The Boys II’ by Australia’s leading ambient jazz improvisational trio, The Necks.(more…)
For day four of my ’90s Musical Memories challenge I have gone with a band which was one of the first I saw live, and one I hated for a really long time. They’re a band who negotiate their own twisted furrow, and one almost universally critically adored, yet criminally undersold. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Crow, one of the few bands to have seen the word ‘angular’ appear in almost every write-up they’ve received. (more…)
Day three, and I figure it’s time to put a bit of sleaze into the mix. So I’ve chosen one of the best: Kim Salmon & the Surrealists’ ‘Gravity’, from the Sin Factory album. It’s true, it’s not the reason I picked it up – that would be the solid-gold riff of ‘I Fell’ and its accompanying filmclip – but in terms of a statement of what that band’s about, I think you can’t go past the opening seconds, where an opening drum snap kicks off a world of full throated fuck-off wailing,
The song demands you listen to it. The Tony Cohen production is great – the drums are like woodchopping, the guitar a fuzzy knife, the bass slinking about somewhere. And the burr in Kim’s vocal is fantastic, as he basically sings about the inescapable notion that you’re gonna fuckin’ die and there’s nothing you can do but (hello, chorus) scream. It’s pretty great.
(I mean fuck, just listen to that rhythm section in the no-guitar part before the first verse repeats: it’s all slinky, pant-sniffin’ Brian Hooper greatness with some super-Cramps style Tony Pola tom work. It’s like flick-knife greasers dancing.) (more…)
Today’s choice of music is from a band I’ve liked for a long time, who moved to London and fell apart before regrouping years later to produce further compelling work. They were a band that I dragged most of my friends along to see at various places, and they were the first musicians I ever interviewed (for Honi Soit, the Sydney uni newspaper) after helping them load in to the now defunct Northpoint Tavern in North Sydney. They are the only band I’ve dressed up for – in a three-piece suit, no less, as some kind of impoverished student imitation of their dapper numbers – and yet also are one of the few bands for whom my enthusiasm does not, in hindsight, appear to have been misplaced. It’s time for The Paradise Motel, folks. (more…)