Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Bawley (Hearts) 2010: Top 3 Concerts of the Year: Hummer

This year I missed both the European and Australian summers which (as well as leaving me with the whitest skin I have had in my life) means I also missed the chance to see a lot of touring bands in 2010.

I saw too few shows to produce a Top 5, but a few of the live acts I did see stood out from the rest. Here is my Top 3 concerts of 2010:

3. LCD Soundsystem and Hot Chip, Horden Pavilion, Sydney, 26/07/2010

The LCD Soundsystem, Hot Chip show delivered everything it promised and more. Hot Chip called the otherwise absent Joe Goddard in via video conference to recreate the highlights of their brilliant One Life Stand album. LCD Soundsystem again proved that they are the best live dance band, with the best songs. (full review)

2. Whitley, The Maram, Erindale, 18/08/2010

One of the best but also one of the strangest shows I attended all year, Whitley's final ever Canberra show was full of beautifully depressed songs, artist audience clashes and suicidal ramblings.
"this one is about suicide" (full review)
1. Band of Horses, Enmore Theatre, Sydney, 29/07/2010

A serious stomach bug kept me from seeing Band of Horses at Glastonbury in 2008, two years to the day later I have my first chance to see the hirsute band in action. The band's huge set stamps along at a great pace, new songs stand their own, but it was seeing this band play There Is A Ghost, The Funeral, and Ode To LRC that made tonight worth the two year wait. (full review)

Friday, 24 December 2010

Vote now to help make 2010 a year we can all love

Long time readers will be well aware of the Bawley crew’s love/hate relationship with the triple j Hottest 100.

Voting in this year’s poll is open now; help make the 2010 list one we can all love. Vote here.

Be sure to write down who you voted for, you will need to know this to take part in the famous Bawley Are You Joe Average? Quiz –last years results

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Bawley (Hearts) 2010: Bottom 5 album covers of the Year

So many bad album covers this year, Devo and Brian Ferry went for glamor mag gloss, Yeasayer had some kind of brain seizure, Kings of Leon explored phallic island and Kanye West showed us way more than we ever wanted to see. Still nothing was worse than these my Bottom 5 album covers of the year.

5. Crystal Castles - Crystal Castles (II)

The CD sleeve notes state that the album cover is a photo of X Tecumseh Clark taken by his father, avant-garde composer and poet Todd Tamanend Clark.

Yep about as interesting as it sounds.

4. Deftones - Diamond Eyes

Sadly this is not the soundtrack to Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole.

3. Band of Horses - Infinite Arms


2. MGMT - Congratulations
MGMT do what Nintendon't - pitchfork media
This scratch and sniff disaster was my early favourite for worst album cover of the year. Who could of thought that worse was still to come.

1. M.I.A. - /\/\ /\ Y /\

The cover art on M.I.A.'s /\/\ /\ Y /\ is a bigger disaster than the album itself. The YouTube progress bars had been outdated before this album was released, the Tetris brick walls are horrible and can anybody tell me why MIA has spelt her name out in gold bullion?

One part hilarious ten parts hideous , congratulations to M.I.A.; runaway winner for 2010's worst cover album art.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Bawley (Hearts) 2010: Top 5 album covers of the Year

Most of world may have moved to digital downloads, that doesn't mean we can't continue to enjoy good album cover art. Here are five of my favorites from 2010.

5. Kele - The Boxer

Kele Okereke the muscled prize fighter. I dare you to tell him that you preferred him when he was in Bloc Party.

4. Massive Attack - Heligoland

Designed by band member (and former graffiti artist) Robert Del Naja who poured over 100s of photos, stencils and original art works before coming up with the street art inspired cover.

The London underground then banned Massive Attack from advertising the album in any of the city's Tube stations, because the art work looks too much like graffiti.

3. Grinderman - Grinderman 2
"Like a wolf showing its teeth in the front room"
Is there any better way to describe Grinderman's second album?

2. Klaxons - Surfing the Void

When a band uses an internet meme as their album art the result is usually uncreative, uninteresting and entirely lame. On the front cover of Surfing the Void, Klaxons have used the greatest meme of them all the lolcat, but somehow it works.

I think it is the dull stair in the cat's eyes; where is he going what adventures will he have when he gets there, will he make it home safely - we will never know.

1. Nine Inch Nails - Pretty Hate Machine (re-issue)

The new artwork is little more than an update of the original album's cover but it is the story of lost originals, double blind searches and high-res drawings and 1989-like filters that makes this my favourite album cover art of 2010.

Bawley (Hearts) 2010: Top 5 concerts of the year: Nick

Despite being sadly absent from a certain double headline show , I've enjoyed a great year for live music. Here were my favourite shows:

5. The New Pornographers, Manning Bar, Sydney, 10/11/2010

The Canadian collective travelled to Australia complete with all their vocalists, (including the brilliant Neko Case) which is something of a rarity. As a result we were able to enjoy the full force of their their complicated vocal (and whistling!) harmonies, and super-catchy pop tunes. The band's rhythm section also treated to a spontaneous cover of Rush's 'The Spirit Of The Radio'. Result!

4. Blind Boys Of Alabama, Opera House, 5/6/2010

Complete with guest vocal performances from a suitably cantankerous Lou Reed, and an enormously pregnant My Brightest Diamond, this bunch of 80 something year old blind men made a glorious noise, and put many a much younger band to shame with the energy and passion of their performance. Properly life affirming.

3. British Sea Power, Manning Bar, Sydney, 20/02/2010

Any show that ends with members of the band attaching themselves to members of the audience with long stands of gaffer tape, accompanied by noisy guitar feedback, is a good one in my book.

2. Pavement, Enmore Theatre, Sydney, 4/3/2010

It was the band's second show in ten years (following the first date of their reunion world tour in New Zealand, a couple of nights earlier) - but they looked and sounded exactly like no time had passed (by which I mean 'endearingly shambolic').

1. Decemberists, Beck's Festival Bar, Hyde Park Barracks, 20/01/2010

Perfect confluence of band and venue, audience participation and a perfect set made for a hugely memorable performance. FasterLouder review

Runners Up:
Al Green, The Domain, Jeffrey Lewis & The Junkyard, Oxford Art Factory, Datarock, Metro Theatre

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Bawley (Hearts) 2010: Top 5 Covers of the Year

5. Klaxons - Bad Romance (Lady Gaga)

Every list of best-of-covers must contain at least one cool indie band covering a massive pop song, so here it is. (link - skip to 2:52)

4. Regina Spektor - No Surprises (Radiohead)

Spektor recorded this song in support of Médecins Sans Frontières. It is a great cover done for a great cause. Buy the charity single on iTunes or listen to the Triple j recording (link - 10:40)

3. Gorillaz - Crystallised (The Xx)

Gorillaz had a huge 2010, taking their Plastic Beach tour from Glasto to Damascus to Sydney. Along the way they stopped to record a few tracks on Radio 1's Live Lounge. Originals Melancoly Hill and Doncamatic were overshadowed by this brilliant cover of The Xx's Bawley 100 wining track Crystalised. (video)

2. Grizzly Bear - Boy From School (Hot Chip)

Grizzly Bear covering Hot Chip could have been a disaster, luckily guys remembered the vocals and pulled off this brilliant cover. (link - 11:55)

1. Beck's Record Club - Never Tear Us Apart (INXS)

In 2010 Beck's record club covered two drastically different albums INXS's Kick and Yanni's Yanni, Live at the Acropolis. Far and away the highlight of all these sessions came when St. Vincent, Os Mutantes, Liars, Annie Clark and Beck took on INXS's iconic 80's teen movie song Never Tear Us Apart. Just watch.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Live Review: Faster Louder Canberra Christmas Party, The Front, Lyneham, 10/12/2010

Last night I was lucky enough to score an invite to the fasterlouder.com.au Canberra Christmas party. This wonderful evening hosted at The Front started with a set from The Love Recession; now a three piece, the boys played a great set of folk inspired rock (or without a drummer is it now rock inspired folk?).

Performance poet Andrew Galan kept everyone's (at times uncomfortable) attention with a series of poems about wasting away your life, care bears and disappointment.

Next up were Cracked Actor, to say they were channelling Radiohead would be a massive understatement. The four piece combine high hat heavy percussion, dreamy falsetto vocals, sparse guitars, glitchy samples and unusual song transitions to great affect. At times I was not sure if I was at The Front listening to my new favourite Canberra band or hunched over my laptop streaming In Rainbows II*. (*In Rainbows II may not/never exist)

CJ Bowerbird takes the mic for more between band poetry he is less confrontation but just as engaging as Galan. And just as Galan did before him CJ finishes his performance with a ode to Canberra, CJ Bowerbirds Canberra is not the the shiny facade presented as the nation's capital but the filthy underbelly of a living city.

The nights final act was Evan and the Brave. the star of the band is obliviously former idol contestant Daniel Mifsud but to say the other guys (The Brave?) don't add anything would be grossly unfair. The band combine beautifully throughout the set their instrumental and vocal harmonies have the room mesmerised.

All up the fasterlouder.com.au Canberra Christmas party was a great night and a fitting farewell to the sites local content editor.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Live Review: Basement Birds, The Metro, Sydney, 20/08/2010

Opening act The Sun Orchestra's short set is pleasant but largely talked over by the small crowd of early comers.

The room has got noticeably busier by the time second support Old Man River takes to the stage. The Old Man River live show is wonderful, the band delivers a full sound and while I didn't know many of the songs, radio singles Norway, You On My Mind and Sunshine are crowd pleasers. It is front man Ohan Rein's stage presence that impresses me most, he does a brilliant job of getting the crowd up dancing and even (unbelievably for a support act) participating in a call/response sing-a-long for La.

Basement Birds are an the Australian indie/folk super group made up of Josh Pyke, Kevin Mitchell (Bob Evans/Jebediah), Kav Temperley (Eskimo Joe), and Steve Parkin (Autopilot). Like many a super group before, the bands album fizzed - the whole was less than the sum of its parts and I was left wondering what was the point of Basement Birds.

The show starts with the four famous birds lined up along the front of the stage, members of The Sun Orchestra are filling in on drums and slide guitar from the darker back half of the stage. Opening track Waiting For You is the perfect place to start, as each of the guys sing their opening lines they are welcomed with an individual cheer from the appreciative audience.

As Basement Birds progress through the show they share the lead vocals and spot light around, a song or two at a time. The chemistry between the four band mates is clear; they are friends and in this band they are having a great time.

With just the one album of original songs behind them the 'birds treat the audience to a few covers, including a beautiful version of Sarah Blasko's All I Want and a more light hearted, jovial take on the Grease Mega Mix.

Josh Pyke and Bob Evans get perhaps the greatest share of the vocals, certainly they fill most of the between song gaps, but Basement Birds greatest weapon is the four part harmony - when their voices come together it is like honey for the ears.

As the main set ends, the band announce that they will be joined by a special guest to help out on Bus Stop. Sadly it is not Julia Stone but the Julia Stone singers, a selection of girls plucked from the audience. The fun being had by the girls on stage is contagious, the whole room is singing along, never been happier.

The show finishes with the band's cover of The Presets My People; the four guys playing, singing, dancing and smiling together on stage. I think that this - four guys having some fun with their mates - is exactly the point of Basement Birds.