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Monthly Archives: January 2008

So that’s what he sings in Atlas! I always thought it was “Sing this hook”. There you go.

Just a quick one about the Battles show last night. I love Battles. Regular readers (all like… well Jase anyway) know I adore Mirrored and it was my favourite album last year. I saw them play live last year as well, so knew what I was getting myself in for last night. And it was a great performance again.

I know Mirrored inside out now, and I think that adds to the live Battles experience. Sure you can get swept along in their energy regardless, but I like piecing together how they actually create these songs. To even get close live is an achievement in itself. Also, I have to say that John Stanier‘s brain has to be wired differently to everyone else on the planet. How you can drum in a band like Battles and keep it all together in a situation where it could so easily fall apart… I am in awe.

So yeah, I had fun again last night. A special word to the support, Pivot from Sydney. Very Battles like but I dug them quite a bit and will be sure to check out their album when it is out May or so. First time in a while a support band has hooked me so kudos to you guys.

… muttler

Battles

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Ahh, Big Day Out. How I love thee. How I loathe thee. Too many jerks, too many hipsters, not enough awesome bands, dusty, etc etc. But every time you have that one good experience in a crappy day that hooks you back.

Now to the 1st (and possibly last) Muttler Big Day Out Awards. I say last because every year I say “never again”. This time I think I mean it though. Sorry for some of the negativity coming below, there is no malice in it, but the BDO brings that out of you… the highest of highs, the lowest of lows….

Best In Show (biased) award – Bjork. You all knew that though. I say biased because she was still getting over her vocal problem (“sorry my voice is a bit rubbish tonight”) and the bass was WAY too loud. But you can’t beat the closer of Pluto and Declare Independence. Plus she played All Is Full Of Love which she hasn’t done is a while and was absolutely mesmerising.

Most Probably Best In Show award – Rage Against The Machine. Yeah we may question why they are back together, but you can’t deny about 16 tracks that is just all gold. Plus the sound was immaculate and performance suitably riotous.

Band You Knew Would Be Great and Were award – Spoon. 45 minutes of bliss… and horns!

The I Still Don’t Understand and Every Song’s An Anthem awards – Arcade Fire. Sorry. I can’t deny their stage presence, but every song is just so boring… a hook or two would be nice! Plus all the megaphone and “wake up!” and instrument swapping and violin and accordion just comes across as a bit contrived to me (hate mail incoming). But as Jase just told me a second ago “it certainly looks that way, but i think they’re awfully sincere” so still benefit of the doubt.

Funniest Band (intentionally) award – Enter Shikari. Young Brit geezers that sound like Asian Dub Foundation playing death metal. But they had a great stage thing going.

Funniest Band (unintentionally) award – Silverchair for being audacious enough to leave a dramatic pause during one of their songs, only to have the Rage fans start their “Rage! Rage!” chant.

Lamest Band award – Anti-Flag for their whole lame-ass faux-punk “don’t hate anyone for the colour of their skin”, “everyone look after each other”, “one word people… unity” blah blah (see sincerity comment re: Arcade Fire here too though)

Most Annoying Front-Person award – Daniel Johns of Silverchair. I sympathise with facing rabid Rage fans, but does that whole american accent “let me hear you one time” work on anyone?

The Hey, I Know More Songs Than I Thought award – British India. I don’t know how either considering I never listen to Triple J.

Best Massacre of a Cover award – Kate Nash. Even joined by the man himself could not save the Billy Bragg cover. This award is more dedicated to my friend Anna who said it best… “this hurts just here” pointing to her heart. I felt her pain… and I don’t even particularly dig Billy Bragg!

I Am Glad I Didn’t See You, But Bummed I Could Still Hear You award – Grinspoon. Self explanatory.

Bummer I Missed Them awards – Battles, LCD Soundsystem, and UNKLE (but seeing the first two this week anyway)

Plus some other small higlights/lowlights:

Highlight #1Bjork doing the sign of the devil (plus seeing the crazy ReacTable again during her set)

Highlight #2 – Hearing the opening riff to Bombtrack by Rage Against The Machine

Highlight #3 – My quite good lamb souvlaki for lunch (don’t laugh… if you have eaten the food at the Big Day Out you know it can be a lucky dip)

Highlight #4 – The Lords of Lightning… 2 guys who can channel lightning between their heads… now why can’t I put my Electrical Engineering to use like that!

Lowlight #1 – The crush to get into the D-Barrier very early in the day. I can’t believe someone (namely myself) was not seriously injured

Lowlight #2Scheduling… for the first time in a long time I had to sacrifice quite a few bands. Also the run on the main stages… although I am not sure who could precede Rage though

Lowlight #3The Venue. Sorry, didn’t like it too much. Just felt wrong.

So there you have it.

… muttler

What a sad sad bit of news to wake up to. I am actually pretty bummed out.

… muttler

Musicals. You love ’em or loathe ’em. Me, I’m in the latter… only exceptions being the glorious kitsch of Can’t Stop The Music and Viva Las Vegas. So why then did I see Sweeney Todd? Burton, Depp, and good old fashioned throat cutting. Maybe Eastern Promises also got me in the mood.

So can someone like me dig it? Yeah, pretty much. Sure some of the songs grated a bit, but it was cool, even if it just felt like a musical version of Sleepy Hollow. It is hard to get tired of so much blood-letting and meat pies you know.

… muttler

The beauty of being into smaller bands is that you usually avoid the whole “celebrity” thing. The White Stripes are one of the few I can think of on my list. But even then, I don’t really see Jack and Meg as “superstars”. As ga ga as I usually get is my photos with Neko and Kathryn from the New Pornographers that adorn my fridge. But on Wednesday night I did get to be in awe from the biggest star in my canon… Bjork.

She is all celebrity to me. She is about the only artist I love that I think is clearly on another level. Either you’re with her or against her, and I’m certainly with her. So you can guess I was equal parts excited and nervous about making a trek up to Sydney to see her perform on the steps of the Opera House last Wednesday.

Was it worth the trip? My lordy yes.

First of all, the steps of the Opera House is a pretty amazing place to see anyone, and with the sun just going down, on to stage marched Bjork’s Icelandic brass band, complete in technicolour regalia. From that point you knew it was going to be pretty sweet. She opened with shooting flames and Earth Intruders from new album Volta and from the get go the sound was impeccable. I am a bit 50/50 with Volta, but we only got 3 tracks from it. What I was treated to was half of my all time favourite Bjork, Homogenic. In fact when Unravel came at about song 3, I was wondering if it was all peaking a bit too early.

But no, gold after gold kept coming (so to did more flames, confetti, tickertape, lasers, fireworks, and even Spiderman style web-slinging). In fact I was a little surprised that the set was almost a pure greatest hits set, but when you haven’t been here for 12 years, then I don’t think anyone is lamenting a lack of songs off the new album (set list can be found here).

I was not quite sure what to make of Declare Independence when I first heard it, but now I love it. It has become Bjork’s set closer and boy is it intense. Any Rage Against the Machine fans would do well to see how political activism is done these days… she spits it out with more conviction than Zack ever could.

The only minor quibbles were a slightly lacklustre crowd and the length of the set (about 1hr 25) but her just announced cancellation of playing the Sydney BDO probably explains that (although you could never tell she was crook from her performance). Fingers crossed she is well enough to play Melbourne on Monday where I can just sit back this time and soak it all in.

So, sorry for two gushing gig reviews in a row. I’m not normally like this. Scary thing is next week I have the Big Day Out, but most importantly Battles and LCD Soundsystem sideshows, so there could be more outpourings of love (especially given I know that Battles are good).

… muttler

Bjork in Sydney
(Photo from www.smh.com.au)

Multiple warheadsMultiple Warheads #1 (Oni Press), Brandon Graham.

While I wait for TFAW to send the copy of King City vol. 1 I ordered about 3 months ago, here’s a quick review of Multiple Warheads. First, the art is just amazing. I think my first contact with Brandon Graham was a preview of King City over on Tokyopop’s site, and I was instantly a fan. If you’ll excuse the cliche, it’s like a melting pot of manga and crazy futuristic, graffiti awesomeness. Everything is so meticulously designed, from characters to what they wear down to the least obvious background elements – there’s always something to look at, and always more to come back to.

The writing seems reminiscent of underground comics: lots of big themes, a world utterly disconnected from our own, but familiarity in how the characters live and interact. I don’t want to give away anything, so I’m saying nothing about the story here. Except that the wolf dream was a major highlight.

Not unexpectedly, I loved Multiple Warheads, and can’t wait for the next issue. Read a massive 18-page preview over at Oni Press. Just a sidebar here, how good is Oni? It seems like everything I’m vaguely interested in has a huge preview up on their site. The standard 4-page preview a la Dark Horse is good, 8 or so pages (SLG?) is compelling, but 18?! That’s basically money in the bank (ie. my money in their bank).

I’m interested in fellow Meathaus‘er James Stokoe’s similarly styled Wonton Soup, but it looks like every copy in the immediate universe has been sold. I’ll keep my eyes peeled. Oh, and you could read the 39 (that’s right, 39!!) -page preview at Oni.

I feel like I am in the diner in Pulp Fiction and have just got the 5 dollar shake.

I was in Sorrento on Saturday after having just swum the Portsea Classic (not so great) and was told about the amazing vanilla slice that one of the cafe’s has. The line snaking outside the shop led me to believe “man, this must be gold!”. It seemed that yes, this was indeed the best vanilla slice in the land.

So anyway, I waited in line, got to the front and innocently ordered my vanilla slice and bam! 6 dollars please. I didn’t really have an option, so 6 whole dollars got handed over.

The $64,000 question… was this vanilla slice worth 6 dollars?!

Nope. It was good, don’t get me wrong. Great even. But 6 dollars? Forget it. I will stick with my $2.50 version here thanks.

… muttler

Sorrento Vanilla Slice

There’s a whole lot to like about Juno… it’s funny, the soundtrack is cool (with Kimya Dawson) and the story is actually quite compelling. But. Yes, but. Why does it have to be so self-consciously hip?! Why do I need to hear expressions like “fo’ shizz” regularly come out of characters mouths? Why do I have to be told by a 16 year old how cool The Stooges are? Why does she have a Melvins poster in her room yet show ignorance about the band later on? Frustrating… but for all that I kinda dug it.

… muttler

In keeping with the spirit of song lyrics, there are a few from possibly the most haunting, touching song about a serial killer ever. Sure they may be grammatically odd, but in the context of the song they leave you stunned. And on Wednesday night I heard Sufjan Stevens play “John Wayne Gacy Jr” and it was even more devastating live than I could have imagined.

That was just one amazing highlight from a truly amazing gig. Nothing can match Pixies last year (and ever will I am guessing), but it was probably the most giddy and floored I have felt after a show in quite a while.

The Forum was the perfect place for the Sufjan Stevens show. 10 on stage, including a 5 piece brass section and My Brightest Diamond and St. Vincent flip-flopping between guitar, bass, and keyboard. Yes, there were costumes. And yes, there were hula hoops at one point. But it was the furthest from pretentious you could imagine.

From the get go, the band sounded great and Sufjan’s relatively low key voice was spot on (helps being in front of the mixing desk). They then went on to play 2 hours of gold alternating between the joyous and the mesmerising. In fact, if I had to write the setlist then it would have been pretty darn close. He kicked off with Sister from Seven Swans, moved through some Michigan and more Seven Swans tracks then went head on into about the first 6 or so tracks from Illinois. They were what I wanted, so boy was I happy. Throw in a few stories, some more Illinois, new track Majesty Songbird, a snippet of BQE, and an encore of Chicago and it was perfect.

Sorry if this sounds a bit too gushing (re-reading it, it certainly does) but I was spellbound. I expected a cool gig, if maybe a little too wacky, but what I got was simply an awesome gig. So much so I wondered if I could somehow get a ticket to the next night, but then thought why mess with perfect?

… muttler (who is hoping he gets to repeat the same kind of review after Bjork in Sydney next week)

Sufjan Stevens

My sweet new Daniel Danger poster arrived a couple days ago. A HUGE beauty for Modest Mouse. Looks awesome in person. Don’t try going to buy one… they sold out in minutes. eBay is your only chance now and flippers are already getting almost 10 times their original value. Jerks. Daniel Danger is a popular man these days (for good reason). Visit him at tinymediaempire.com.

Modest Mouse OKC

… muttler (p.s Sufjan review coming very soon)