Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Bon Iver - Live on NPR: All Songs Considered

I'm stuck in bed with a pretty bad flu or something. I don't really know what it is but it sucks pretty bad. When I feel sick, I usually listen to a lot of soft music because anything else hurts my head. Justin Vernon (aka Bon Iver) released his solo debut last year; For Emma, Forever Ago. Vernon recorded the album after his band broke up in a cabin where he lived off like deer meat or something, at least that's what one website told me. It has gotten a lot of buzz on the internet and for good reason. Its combination of haunting falsettos, sparse acoustic guitar work and reverb-y production carries with it a sincerity that can be uncommon with music jocked by Pitchfork and probably for this year, rivalled only by Sun Kil Moon's April. As you can see, I'm writing some pretty bad sentences. I blame my flu (or whatever it is).

This particular recording has 7 of the 9 album tracks, including all the best ones (Lump Sum, Flume, Skinny Love, Wolves, Creature Fear) so it's probably a good place to start before buying the album. The vocals are pretty spot on when compared to the album and it has the same ghostly sort of feel to it despite being recorded live. Like I said, this dude is being jocked pretty heavily by Pitchfork and some similar publications but for good reason, unlike some bands this year (Vampire Weekend).

I can't really figure out how to download this mp3 by itself but I daresay it doesn't matter too much because I'm guessing little to no people read this blog. Anyway, just drop this into whatever program you have that can do podcasts (iTunes most likely), find the recording (the date of it is 21/02/08) and download away. NPR has some really great stuff on it so a lot of it will likely be appearing on this blog in the near future.


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The National - White Session Digital Broadcast (2007)

January was a pretty good month for me this year and listening to this recording reminds me of my experience seeing The National. At the time there were so many great shows on like Built to Spill and Low and The National kind of took a back seat because I couldn't afford it and tickets sold out. Then they added another show but it was on the same night as Low so I couldn't go. Then for some reason the sold out show wasn't sold out anymore and I got to buy a ticket the day before the show. It was a pretty unreal show and the setlist was a lot better than the one from this recording, it had more songs from Alligator and the like. It was such a great show. Two of my friends and I stood up the front for the whole show to get a spot. I'm sure we looked like douches but it was fun anyway. For their encore, the band brought out all the leftover beers and bottles of water from their rider and one of the guitarists gave me a beer but I couldn't open it and then the security guard wouldn't let me take it out of the venue even though it wasn't opened. I guess there's some law about that but it made me a sad panda.

Anyway, the encore song was "About Today" which has become my favourite National song and is included on this recording. It's not an album track, but the live version is really dynamic, especially with the violin and the delayed guitar that comes in at the end. The lyrics are my favourite of any National song; they're much more sparse and simple than any of their other songs that I can think of. Matt is a great lyricist anyway but I think these lyrics are more perfect than anything else he has written. The rest of the tracks here are from Boxer except for one and they're very well recorded and performed. Again, not the best possible setlist or anything, but "Start a War", "Fake Empire" and "Mistaken For Strangers" are definite gold.


Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Blacklisted - Live on WERS (2006)

The first time I heard Blacklisted, I have to say that I wasn't overly impressed but I've warmed up to them quite a lot since that time. In fact, I thought they were pretty bad, because this sort of hardcore has never really been my thing. I've gotten more and more into it over the past year though. I guess because there are so many uninteresting hardcore bands around where I live and when you don't bother to dig deep into the genre it's hard to tell the difference between a lot of bands.

Deathwish are a pretty nice label and as a result they've started releasing a series of live recordings for free over the internet. This particular recording is the first in the series and, I believe a recording from a radio session the band did at a university. One website described it as 'legendary', which I don't really know about, but it is pretty kickass. It's very well recorded and the band play really damn well on it. My favourite part of Blacklisted has always been George's vocals and he does a pretty exceptional job on this recording I think. "Wolves At My Door" is probably my favourite track if only because the part where he yells "I should have known you were one of the wolves at my door" is so killer.

Tomorrow night I'm going to see Blacklisted play a show in Byron Bay, which is part of their first Australian tour. They're not really my favourite hardcore band or anything, but this recording has more or less everything I like; hard riffs, catchy sections, interesting vocals and a tight rhythm section. I think the show should be a lot of fun at the very least. I'm really glad to see bands like Blacklisted, Have Heart and hopefully Ceremony later in the year touring Australia. I just hope they do a set longer than the 16 minutes we get on this recording.

By the way, if you dig this, I'd encourage you to check out their two newer releases Peace on Earth, War on Stage and Heavier Than Heaven, Lonelier Than God. Both have some really killer moments.


Sunday, July 6, 2008

Ohana @ Lawrence's Boatshed (2008)

I first heard Ohana late last year, but they've quickly become one of my favourite Australian bands by a long way. I guess you could lump them in with the other 'big' bands in Australian DIY hardcore, but their sound is a pretty long way off the sort of bands on Yellow Ghost and the like. I've heard comparisons to At the Drive-In and bands of a similar ilk, but to me a more accurate description would be My Disco with emotion.

I had the opportunity to see Ohana a couple of nights ago on the first date of their tour with To The North for a split 7" that they've done. Some of the songs they played actually made me think of Battles as they had so many of the elements that Battles seem to have in place; minimalism and repitition, fun wordless vocals, nodable beats and singer with an afro. I think I also need to make special mention of the bassist. His tone was the best I have ever heard from any live band ever.

I guess Ohana aren't really danceable like My Disco, but they certainly have the same sort of angular rhythmic ideas in place, not to mention the repitition. That said, I think Ohana are an infinitely more interesting band than My Disco (which says something because I love My Disco); they're far more emotional, they have better lyrics and far better vocals, their sound has a lot more scope for development, from what I can tell they are a lot less hit-or-miss live, they have song titles with references to Jean-Luc Godard films... I could go on and on but I think I've made my point. Listen to this band.

MySpace (go here and check out the song called "Untitled Demo", absolutely my favourite song at the moment)