Sunday, December 13, 2009

Busy Week

A lot going on in town this week, not least a few shows by those guys above, you might have heard of them. They're all sold out though (shame if you don't have a ticket and are reading this blog) but there are still some tickets left for this tomorrow, which I'm pretty excited about:

Then on Thursday there's an awesome show slap-bang in the middle of the city featuring two of my favourite local bands.

And on Friday Thee Oh Sees bring the party to town, playing The Billboard with Eddy Current Suppression Ring. I really can't afford this but if you can, I'd advise you to wait until Saturday and take the V-Line to Bendigo and see them there instead. It'll probably work out cheaper and you get a better line-up, i.e. East Brunswick Girls instead of Eddy Current. Here's the tour poster since that seems to be the vibe today:

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Best of '09

Not really any need for an introduction, here is what has been providing the soundtrack for Deformative in 2009.

Mi Ami - Watersports
In hindsight, last year's African Rhythms ep provided only the briefest hint at where Mi Ami would take their unique brand of West Coast tropacalia with their debut full-length. As thrilling as that release was, Watersports upped the intensity and the ambition, its sonic explorations both perfectly suited and a deviant cousin to the year's obsession with all things 'Hypnagogic.'

These Are Powers - All Aboard Future
Industrial hip-hop? Not quite, but it's as close as you're likely to come to putting a label on these Brooklyn experimentalists. Much less dissonant than their previous efforts but still with plenty of noise present, All Aboard Future blended parts of Black Dice with fractured post-punk rhythms to make an album of quintessentially New York grime.

Girls Names - C10 Cassettes
Two handsome chaps making honest-to-goodness surf pop, predominately about girls and eh, blood. Proof the zeitgeist cares not for borders, these stupidly addictive, reverb-soaked lo-fi recordings straight outta Belfast could easily have come from the sandy shores of San Francisco, a place where many of the bands they have shared the stage with this year originate. The cassettes have sold out now but you can still buy the downloads from the irreproachable Cass/Flick for a measly $4.50 (exchange).

Woods - Songs of Shame
More addictive pop music, this time of a more acid-folk variety. Songs of Shame is a collection of songs at once strange and accessible; innocent and mature, with a creeping resonance that suggest they will be a staple for hungover mornings and lazy Sunday afternoons for a long time to come.

Neon Indian - Psychic Chasms
Neon Indian vs. Washed Out - it's been the argument that has dominated the blogosphere (ha!) all year (not really). Facetiousness aside, it really has been the year where the proliferation of blogs obsessed with all things 'chill' have allowed these two bedroom composers to garner worldwide followings. In the hypothetical argument, this blog would be giving the win to Neon Indian (by a long shot) for producing a gloriously sunny album which includes two of the best tracks this year - '6669 (I don't know if you know)' and 'Ephemeral Artery'.

Fievel - Go West
Good on any band that gives away music for free. And especially if it is music of such charmingly unassuming brilliance as this ep. Emanating a quiet confidence that allows their influences to be worn comfortably but also having a slew ideas brimming over and crucially, an element of tenderness that is missing from most electronic music, Fievel discreetly bettered everything else in Melbourne this year. Download for free here.

Fievel don't have any videos so go have a listen on Myspazz instead.

Wet Hair - Glass Fountain
Along with Captured Tracks, Not Not Fun dominated 2009. Wet Hair may be less celebrated than their more well-known peers, Sun Araw, Ducktails and Pocahaunted but their hypnotic drones, anchored by other-worldly revered-drenched vocals, proved to be much more compulsive, even if there is an overall feeling of unease throughout. A good album to fall asleep drunk.

Not Squares - Aye Yo Pa/IYouUsIt
Do you like to dance? Not Squares certainly do, and they like to make other people dance too. And they do this very well with their frenetic, shouty, literate disco-punk. They are an ever-evolving bunch too, currently aiming for a more space-kraut approach to induce contortions in their listeners, but these two tracks represent the pinnacle of the first configuration of Not Squares - like the mutant offspring of Black Eyes and Liquid Liquid.

Edan - Echo Party
A 30 minute bricolage of the most obscure hip-hop records from Traffic Ent, stitched together with obsessive attention to detail and fucked with using everything from a moog to a kazoo, Echo Party is another history lesson from one of the greatest producers around and the best damn party mixtape you'll find.

Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavillion
You love this album. You've listened to it countless times this year. You think it is a stone-cold classic and you're right. It was Animal Collective's year. Enough said.

Other good listening in Hecuba, Desire, Vivian Girls, Hype Williams, Graffiti Island, Yo La Tengo, Health.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Totem Tapes Label Launch - Tonight!

Totem Tapes is a new cassette-based label who have releases by a handful of some of the most interesting bands in Melbourne ready to go. They are having their label launch in the Pony tonight featuring several of aforementioned cool bands, including the very lovely Milk Teddy and the incredible Caught Ship (more, lots more, on these guys soon), as well as Das Butcher, Space Cactus and Whyte Lightning (Bris). It's going to be a really great night but if you needed any extra incentive, I *might* be djing, still waiting on word on that one...

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Deformative@White Rabbit Record Bar

Just a quick shout to let you know I'll be playing noise pop//post-punk//garage classics//surf//kraut//lofi gems and shitgaze anthems at the White Rabbit Record Bar, Kensington tomorrow night from 8-11. The White Rabbit is situated on Bellair Street directly across from Kensington station and is an awesome little place for drinks, chat and record browsing.

Grass Widow | NYC @ Brooklyn Museum | 07 Nov 2009 from (((unartig))) on Vimeo.

Saturday, November 28, 2009


Sorry for the lack of posts lately, haven't had much to say but have some fun stuff coming up soon. In the meantime, check out Kindness, a strange but funky bunch who like to cover old songs like Anita Dobson's 'Anyone Can Fall in Love', the theme from Eastenders! Go check it on their Myspace, it's beautiful. These guys are going to be huge in '10 so make sure you drop their name at all the upcoming Christmas parties, you coolsie fucks.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Ladyfest Melbourne

I'm a little late posting this as it kicked off last night, but the first Ladyfest Melbourne takes place over the next few days. There's some really cool stuff happening; I won't be able to make half of it but am going to try to get to the panel discussion on the Riot Grrl revolution and Australia's own female rock history on Saturday and then to the gig in the Workers Club that night featuring Partyline (Alison Wolfe from Bratmobile's new band). Partyline are also playing an all-ages gig (need more of those) on Sunday at Irene's Warehouse, along with HERRS, a girl rock band made up of ten year olds - brilliant! There really is a lot going on and the lesbos definitely deserve your support - check the full listings here.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Home Truths - 'Sup Magazine Belfast Takeover

This blog was and is supposed to be primarily centered around the Melbourne music scene, with diversions further afield as I see fit/to fill in the blanks. However, I want to take the liberty of bringing attention to a week-long feature in 'Sup Magazine focusing on the small but vibrant underground music scene in my former home of Belfast. Belfast, for such a small and parochial city has for the last 5-10 years produced some of the most striking, visceral and original bands I have come across. And in the last few years, elements that have been bubbling on the surface seem to have erupted and an actual exuberant scene of diverse but like-minded acts have come together to create, what seems to me thousands of miles away, the most interesting period for Belfast esoterics in a long, long time. I guess they were all just waiting for me to leave.

It may be that the attention lavished on my small but lovable former home and the people interviewed are dear friends of mine, is what makes these articles interesting to me. But hopefully if you are a Melbournian reader, you will get a kick out of this rare insight into the underground workings of a formerly-troubled city.

Part 1 focuses on the uber-cool lo-fi surf two-piece Girls Names and Part 2 on DIY gig collective Ordinary Days, whose head Dude, Mark Reid, gets top marks for surmising Belfast's scene - 'Luckily, not too many people in Belfast have the pretence of being hip so we can just get on with partying.'
Melbourne hipsters take note.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Yo La Tengo - Melbourne - Feb '10

May '06 - Primaverasound Music Festival - Barcelona
Night numero uno of my first visit to the imperious music festival in the greatest city in the world was mighty fun for the first few hours but somewhat of a slow-starter on the music front. Glimpses were caught of the Drones, No-Neck Blues Band and Why?, before new buddy Aggie and I decided to have some pseudo-ironic fun at Motorhead (I'm still not sure what they were doing on the bill). Fun turned into ridiculous, ultra-raucous boogeying amongst the hoards of leather-jacket wearers present at the fest for one night and one reason only, meaning that by time the 'Head had finished, we were well and truly pooped.

The huge steps a ways back from the main stage provided the perfect place to sit, have a few beers, recoup and easily watch the next band, whom neither me nor Aggie were entirely into - YLT. The next 45 minutes or so go down are some of the most overwhelming of my life. In my ignorance I was expecting some lofi indie-pop to pass the time until 2manydjs took the stage, what I got was a full-on aural assault, the pinnacle of which was the unleashing of then new track, 'Pass the Hatchet, I Think I'm Goodkind.' By the end of this 10-minute beast, during which time Ira Kaplan ripped his fender apart, slammed it into against and on top of a wall of Marshall stacks, while Georgie Hubley and James McNew continuously played the same beat (for ten minutes!), Aggie and I were giving each other genuine, sincere man-hugs at what we had just witnessed. This may sound corny as all fuck, but it really was that special.

And the point of all that is Yo La Tengo have just been announced they are playing Melbourne in February next year. Naturally I do not believe it will be as good as Barcelona in 2006, but when the band who is responsible for one of your all-time highpoints in life are coming to town, it's hard not to smile.

Happy weekend doods.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

On/Off - Totes Deaf Fundraiser

There is something in the air in Melbourne these days. Spring is here and with it the fruition of exciting seeds sewn throughout the year – incredible new bands, huge celebrations of local music and an impending Summer exploding with all your favourite touring bands. Fitting snugly into this sanguine atmosphere is the opening of the On/Off Space on Johnston Street at the very beginning of 2010. The love-child of Jade McInally and Sarah Phelan from local electronic spooks the Tantrums and Kobi Simpson of Love Connection, the space will aim to be a local creative hub for Melbourne’s artistic endeavours. This Sunday the guys have arranged an epic line-up of local acts to raise funds for the space, dubbed ‘Totes Deaf.’ They kindly agreed to answer some questions about their plans and the benefit this weekend.

So how did you manage to become lease-holders for the On/Off space? Was it something you had planned to do for awhile or an opportunity that arose?

The opportunity arose when Kobi & Jade's friend Dylan, who they grew up with and went to school with decided to pass on the space. These three couldn't pass it up! Friends taking over friends! Keepin it in the family!

You officially ‘open’ on the 1st January 2010, what are your immediate plans for the space?

The space will be opening on the 1st as a rehearsal studio, art space and live music venue amongst friends with future plans for a recording space and other adventures.
Over the next few months, the currently vacant space will be transformed into a creative hub for local bands and artists to work, rehearse and share with similarly community-driven, emerging artists and musicians.

How about long-term plans, have you had time to think about what you would like the space to become or what role you would like it to play within the Melbourne music/artistic scene?

Long term this space will be a rehearsal studio, art space and live music space, however future plans for a recording studio and other artistic endeavors are also on the cards......anything is possible with this lovechild!
We are hoping that the studio will fill a much needed niche in the music & art scene that the community of Melbourne has been asking for!

You guys have close connections with bands like the Parking Lot Experiments, Rat vs. Possum, Tic Toc Tokyo and several others, often sharing bills and sometimes members – obviously these bands will be involved in the space but do you intend to reach out to other sections of the Melbourne scene as well?

Of course! As you have mentioned we have close connections with these bands, they are our friends, roomies, bandmates, homies etc and as you can imagine they will be around quite often, however the space will be welcomed and open to all who wish to join in. We hope to reach out to many different people not only in the Melbourne music scene, but community artists and musicians all over!

Are all events going to be run by you guys or will promoters be able to book the space for independent shows?

Many of the events will be on/off shows, however promoters, bands & bookers will also be able to showcase their music and art at our studio often!

Next Sunday is the big fundraiser, ‘Totes Deaf’, tell us about that.

In celebration of not only the impending opening of ON/OFF, but also of Melbourne's consistently-evolving, consistently-inspiring music scene, nineteen bands plus DJ's will face the harsh daylight/reality of Sunday afternoon for a massive show at the Tote to raise funds. 13 clams = 19 bands, split over both the Tote's band room and upstairs' Cobra Bar. Doors at 2pm til late, on Sunday the 1st of November, including FREE BBQ (early bird gets the sausage) and compilation CD for the first 100 people through the doors. Pace yourself over the weekend, because Sunday is going to be EPIC!!!

Bands that are playing -

Bachelor Of Arts
The Emergency
Dick Diver
Rat Vs Possum
Gold Tango
Sharpie Crows (NZ)
East Brunswick All Girls Choir
Love Connection
Bon Chat Bon Rat (SYD)
Space Cactus
Lehmann B Smith Band
Sloth Comet (Great Earthquake)
Yama Boy
Milk Teddy
Off Pops
Ming the Merciless + Deformative + Children of the Wave + Talkshow Boy DJs

The line-up for Totes Deaf is something else, how difficult was it to organize? Were most bands that you approached happy to be involved?

Everyone we approached was more than happy to be involved which was really nice! We have many amazing friends who are playing and helping out on the day, so fortunately it has been relatively smooth sailing....though 19 bands is still a lot to organise! Kudos to jade on that one!

Who would you personally recommend people catch on the day?

Everyone!!! They are all so great in their own way, that's why we asked them to play, because we love every single one of them! You would be silly not too see all of this mega line up!

Finally, how excited/nervous/overwhelmed are you right now?

We are quite overwhelmed with how much we are doing and fitting into schedules with other projects also on the go, but very excited about the show on Sunday, the studio opening and the three of us living together and running amuck in a great way!

Thanks doods - you really are a fool if you're not at The Tote this Sunday, so don't be, pow!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Your Weekend


Get down early for Caught Ship, they're new and sound totally class.


Get down early, it's all totally class (and I'm playing tunes at 4.30).

Take it easy, swoon -

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Fievel - Go West - Free Download

Fievel are a Melbourne duo who make addictive electronic pop songs, using only a selection of samplers and live drums. They have very kindly made their new Ep, Go West, available to download and it's a beauty. Clearly influenced by the usual suspects from the Warp roster but also, to my ear anyway, acts like Cold Cave and Matthew Dear. So you get all the beats and squelches you would expect from those references but there is also something more plaintive and heartfelt here that you do not normally find in electronic music. A lot of this has to do with singer Tristan's voice, which whether falsetto-inflected on Tonight or strained almost to supplication on the sublime I Used To, carries something cathartic in it, and with the live drums, humanizes the songs. That is not to say that the instrumental tracks are robotic or sterile though, Swap Shop is a downtempo gem and Tumbleweed closes the Ep like the dreams of an exhausted child.

With releases from Love Connection, Rat vs. Possum and the Tantrums all due by the end of the year, it's an exciting time for esoteric sections of the Melbourne scene, but they're going to have to work hard to better this left-field sleeper. All in all, Fievel have quietly produced this year's Delays.

Download here and catch Fievel at Fermez la Bouche on the 17th October.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Spring Tones

I don't think anyone needs reminding that Spring Tones is on tomorrow but here is another one just in case. There are some great gigs coming up in Melbourne but it is hard to see how any could challenge this for gig of the year - prove me wrong Animal Collective, Lightning Bolt, Why?, Chillwave, etc.

I'll be djing in the Snowflake room from 11, between Mark Barrage and Aoi and then keeping the party going after Hawnay Troof destroys the place, so come dance!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Deformative Mixtape

I finally got around to doing a mix on my shitty litte Gemini all-in-one yoke. I don't have much of a clue how to mix and I'm not even sure if it's possible to 'mix' this kind of stuff but I'm pretty happy with the ideas behind it, if not the execution (clipping, pauses, misuse of pitch-bend). Anyway, it should serve its purpose and give a good idea of the kind of stuff I play. This mix includes thrash-dance from Belfast (above), Johnny Jewel's new project, Electronic Body Music, Italian Horror soundtracks, angry Mexicans, ex-members of the Make-Up and Weird War going disco and other good stuff.


1. Goblin - Opening to the Sighs
2. Not Squares - Bi Ka Na
3. Los Microwaves - Forever
4. Excepter - Kill People
5. Cap Pas Cap - We Are Men
6. Liaisons Dangereuses - Los Ninos Del Parque
7. Duchess Says - Tenen Non Neu
8. Detachments - Fear No Fear
9. Desire - Under Your Spell
10. Ssion - Clown
11. XYX - Nunca Nunca
12. Publicist - Chain Gang
13. Medicine and Duty - Jury Rigged
14. Liquid Liquid - Sank Into the Chair
15. Hecuba - Suffering
16. Salem - Whenusleep

Download here.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Go Check Out Lost Boy

My coolest discovery of the week is definitely Lost Boy. He isn't doing anything different at all - in fact what he is doing is very now - which basically means fast, fun, noisy pop music, like Wavves only not balls. It could well be that I will get bored with this in a few weeks or whatever but right now I'm finding it very endearing, great morning music when you are on holidays.

And there two extras +s: 1. He is ridiculously proficient.
2. He posts all this proficiency for free (along with his
other band, Boats) up here!

I haven't gotten through half of it yet but the album 1991 is pure gold!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Simo Soo//Keith! Party//Mickey Gloss//Deformative DJs

This is going to be a FUN gig, and it's in the Pony which rarely has FUN gigs.

Simo Soo is a bit of an oddball from Sydney playing Ipod-overdriven, attention-deficit noise-pop, I've been looking forward to catching him for awhile. Keith! Party are the perfect compliment to Simo's idiosyncratic noise and are debuting a new live DJ in Fletch. Mickey Gloss, also from Sydney, will be opening up proceedings but I know pretty much nothing about them, sorry. I'll be providing toons between bands and for a bit after until whoever the 2am monkeys are this week take over.

Oh, and apparently it's all going out live here - FUN!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

PiL Reformation

For a short time, directly after leaving the Sex Pistols, John Lydon was one of the most respected men in music. The mainstream were still salivating at what the former Johnny Rotten could do to shock them next and the alternative community were quickly learning of Lydon's inner-aesthete - his disgust at the white-boy rock of the Sex Pistols and his desire push music into the unheard of territory originally espoused but never delivered upon by Punk. And he did this with Public Image Ltd. Few would deny the power of the first three PiL albums, especially Metal Box, and to varying degrees they remain as benchmarks of experimental music, all the more interesting because of the genuinely unique situation of the biggest rock star of the time collaborating with unknown and rather avant musicians, Keith Levene and Jah Wobble.

Of course, as it had to happen, PiL devolved into a hideous parody of themselves, with Wobble and Levene leaving after the second and third album respectively, leaving Lydon to amass increasingly ridiculous line-ups for increasingly terrible albums. And now, Lydon has announced plans to reform PiL for a series of concerts later in the year. Without Wobble or Levene who rightly want nothing to with it. Lydon has proved himself to be such a cock over the last few years that nobody is treating this as anything more than another desperate cash-grab, no different than the Sex Pistols reformation. We should not be surprised at this, so instead of annoyed ranting I'll end with Simon Reynolds' pertinent anti-epitaph to the once-great band from his brilliant Post-Punk document 'Rip it Up and Start Again':

'Towards the end of his PiL tenure, Levene had noticed a weird development: 'John Lydon sort of became Johnny Rotten again'...Living in America, Lydon found himself feted by awe-struck fans and courted by big-shot managers who encouraged him to exploit his legend to the hilt. Eventually he decided, or realized, that the Sex Pistols adventure was where his rock-myth bread was buttered. After Levene left, the ex-Pistol started to do something during PiL gigs he'd once sworn he'd never do again: sing 'Anarchy in the UK' and 'God Save the Queen'. A decade and a half later, he reformed the Sex Pistol as a touring nostalgia revue, reneging on absolutely everything PiL represented.'

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Former Ghosts

I had a major love affair with Xiu Xiu two or three years ago but haven't really been bothered with them for awhile. I guess you could argue that a few years worth of that stuff is enough for a lifetime, hard work as it can be. I still love them and am interested in what they're doing together or individually, even if I think they may be a little bit too prolific for their own good. Therefore, when I heard Jamie Stewart had teamed up with Niki Roza of Zola Jesus, who I like a lot, and Freddy Rupert of This Song is a Mess and so Am I, who I've always meant to get round to listening to, for a project called Former Ghosts, I was pretty excited about checking it out.

Musically the project is very similar to Xiu Xiu, all weird percussion and abrasive electronics. With each having something of a distinctive voice, it's not surprising that they share vocals, although personally I think Niki should be given more opportunities to let loose. There is definitely something special in this collaboration that hasn't been present in most of the other Stewart experiments, such as with Grouper or Larsen. Really, the kick is that this should not be considered a Xiu Xiu side-project, as it really does sound like a real band, rather than ad-hoc wank-abouts between indie darlings. Sorry, that may sound harsh but I really don't like those aforementioned projects.

They have an album coming out in October, or floating around the usual places on the interweb if you can't wait, and there a few tracks up their Myspace, although the album is a lot more varied than the impression you get from these.

Maybe I'll go and listen to Knife Play now...

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Blood in the Beard

This is happening on Thursday at the John Curtin. Blood in the Beard is a short-film by Mikey Leonard which will be screened for the first time along with a live score by Rat vs. Possum. RvsP will also be performing a regular set and are joined on the bill by post-hardcore screamers Ouch! My Face and jerky Post-Punk pretty-boys Tic Toc Tokyo. Looks set to be a really cool night and all for a measly 8 bucks.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Beets

Has the 'Shitgaze' backlash started yet? No, just Wavves? Ok then, before everyone starts claiming they never really liked Times New Viking, No Age, etc, I'll quickly recommend the ultra-lofi and really cool band The Beets. Not to be confused with the fictional band of the same name from personal childhood favorite cartoon Doug, these guys are from New York and play stripped-down, shouty, sing-alongy garage, not a million miles away from Thee Oh Sees. Their album 'Spit in the Face of People Who Don't Want to be Cool' is available now through old blankethead's label Captured Tracks.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Gold Tango

Since I arrived in Melbourne 18 months ago, I think I have discovered a new truly amazing band every month or so on average. Honestly, I think I could make a good stab at naming 18 Melbourne bands who are as good those in any other city in the world, I'm not going to though.

Gold Tango are the latest to come out of nowhere and kick my ass. I know pretty much nothing about them, except that they're on the flawless Exo Records, consist of two girls and a guy from such Melbournian underground institutions as Flesh vs. Venom and the one track they have up on their Myspace sounds like These Are Powers having a panic attack. 'Telescope' reminds me of all kinds of things but mostly of a more urgent Excepter, all careering rhythms and Cab Vol. electronics with the breathy female vocals accentuating the claustrophobia ingrained in the track. They have some shows coming up in September and October (but hopefully sooner) and are recording Telescope and other tracks for a 7" or a series of split 7"s, or something. Like I said, I know nothing about them - but I'm sure that won't be the case for very long.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

I Love Brainiac and Always Will

I've been struck down with a horrible stomach bug all week, making me more sick than I remember since I was a child, so I haven't really had much to say. What I have done is watch lots of cool videos from deathbed (hehe, I am the worst sufferer) and for my only post of the week would just like to ask - "Remember how fuckin' amazing Brainiac were?" Behold:

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Deformative@Spring Tones

Some exciting news just in - I'll be djing at the incredible Spring Tones festival in the Roxanne Parlour at the end of September - eyo! After the lackluster Castle Tones last month, Mistletone have really pulled out the stops for this one, managing to pull together a bill bursting with some of most exciting local and international talent of the moment. Topping the bill are the red-hot and super-fun Vivian Girls, bringing their sub-three minute pop nuggets to Australia for the first time (pretty good, considering they've only been around for a week or so). Tropical noise-maker Ducktails, the beautiful Tiny Vipers and one-man party-starter Hawnay Troof make up the rest of the overseas acts. On the local front are some old Mistletone favorites like Mark Barrage and Love of Diagrams, as well exciting upstarts Super Wild Horses, Rat vs. Possum, Aoi and plenty more.

Needless to say I'm super-happy to be playing this show, which should be even better than the incredible Summer Tones at The Espy back in February. Tickets are on sale now and I wouldn't be suprised if they sell-out, so get to it!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

MIFF Comes Up With Goods

The Melbourne International Film Festival kicks off in just over a week and by the looks of things the ten session mini-pass that I intend to buy will be entirely used up with movies, docos and collections of experimental shorts celebrating indie/punk-icons, institutions and eras.

The Backbeat program alone has served up three documentaries of assured excellence. I Need that Record! pays homage to the honest-to-goodness role independent records stores across the world have played in nurturing alternative and experimental music and their revered place within these communities. With the inescapable rise of download culture having a plague-like effect on these institutions, this is as good a time as any to watch such DIY icons as Mike Watt, Ian MacKaye and Thurston Moore wax lyrical on these vital but possibly doomed cultural hubs. All Tomorrow’s Parties brings together footage shot by patrons to the hollowed festival at its various locations. With the still raw news that ATP will not be coming back to Oz for some time (see previous post), this documentary should go some way to mollifying our nerdy disappointment. Lastly, former Pop Group chief and all-round DIY-Dude, Mark Stewart is profiled in On/Off. Looking forward to that one a lot.

Arguably even more exciting is the Australian Post-Punk program. These ‘Post-Punk Mixtapes’ compile rare live footage and experimental films clips featuring such luminaries as Nick Cave (obviously) and the Primitive Calculators from a time when seemingly it was kicking off everywhere, from Manchester to Melbourne. There are five in all but if you can only make one I would recommended #5 if only for the insanity of The Birthday Party live footage. I’m pretty sure this is the same footage from the Nick Cave retrospective at The Arts Centre last year and is worth the price of the ticket alone. As an added bonus though, there is an early John Hillcoat short in there too, cool!

Lastly, Blank City documents the Cinema of Transgression from the Lower East Side in late ‘70s/early ‘80s (I told you it was all kicking-off then!) Closely tied with the no-wave music scene, such icons of independent film as John Waters and Jim Jarmusch cut their teeth with this DIY film-making style and appear in this documentary alongside anti-icons like James Chance, Steve Buscemi and Lydia Lunch.

Of course there are also loads of cool movies playing but this is a music blog and this post has taken me an hour to write so you check the rest of the program out for yourself here –

Sean x

Friday, July 10, 2009

No ATP Oz until 2011

From this morning:
In devastating news, it has been revealed that All Tomorrow’s Parties will not be returning to Australia in 2010. The Age reported this morning that ATP will skip next year, with plans to make it back in 2011.

Despite the overwhelmingly positive response to this January’s inaugural edition, “logistical issues” are behind the decision to have a year off. The difficulties stem from hosting the festivals at Mt Buller in Victoria and Sydney’s Cockatoo Island.

The event promoters told The Age: “The ski season has cut into our preparation time, so it seems to make more sense to give ourselves some breathing space and aim for the next event in 2011 rather than next summer,” Pittman says. “We have every intention of being back in 2011 but without our issues/logistics being addressed, it could be tough.

“We’re disappointed of course – the event was magical and the response overwhelming – but we don’t want to rush to meet a deadline and end up delivering a half-baked event,” the statement concluded.

I guess that's fair enough but disappointing as hell nonetheless. I missed last year's inaugural fest for the legitimate but ridiculous reason of having to pick fruit in Swan Hill (visa commitments, bleugh!) so was really looking forward to this year. Unbelievably, I never made it to any ATP in the UK, Primavera providing my indie-fest sustenance each year and now it looks like I'll have to hold off on popping my ATP cherry for another 18 months.

Oh well, at least we have Animal Collective confirmed for Meredeth...

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Rat vs. Possum Tote Residency #2


I had intended to start this blog based on several recent musical experiences, most recently with the first night of Rat vs. Possum’s July residency in The Tote. Except I went to Sydney on Thursday and by the time I got back on Monday and slept all day Tuesday, it felt somewhat incongruous to the nature of blogging to begin with something almost a week old.

So instead, let’s concentrate on the much more recent past, with the second night of RvsP’s exciting month-long residency. Exciting in terms of the support bands assembled, who make up a large contingent of the most interesting bands in Melbourne, in that it turns the mid-week lows on its head (it really does feel like Wednesdays are the new Fridays right now) and of course in the opportunity to see the always wonderful Rat Vs. Possum each week.

With all those positive vibes, it’s a shame to have to begin with a something a downer. I missed East Brunswick All Girls Choir, who I haven’t seen but heard great things about, and arrived just in time to catch Cuba Is Japan. These multi-instrumentalists play mostly instrumental music, which is based around some kind of nautical concept if I remember right. The Tote was already pretty packed by this stage and the eminently beautiful crowd were clearly up for some high-drama post-rock. You certainly couldn’t fault their enthusiasm but for all the obvious passion these guys have for what they’re doing, I was totally unmoved. As I say, just about everyone else seemed to love it but for me, I just feel like I’ve seen it all before.

The Tantrums are a fairly sinister trio playing creepy, percussive electronica, reminiscent of New York archetypes Dark Day and Ike Yard, as well as contemporaries HTRK. They are also incredible. I knew nothing of The Tantrums before tonight but this quietly intense set, ranging from songs of sparse bleeps, punctuated by unhinged yelps, to a nice groove at the end, had me fixated. Cannot wait to see these guys again.


Rat vs. Possum are just great. That’s the kind of goofy none-speak these guys elicit and it’s no bad thing. Every time I see them there is such a joyous, harmonious atmosphere amongst the audience that you kind of feel that instead of playing their whacked-out, tom-heavy psychedelic anthems, these four misfits are actually the good witches of Brunswick casting blissful spells on us all, intent on converting the world to their doctrine of love for heroic apes, glitter, and communal fruit. Tonight seems like the apex of that ambition. Although I doubt it is, it just seems that way. Maybe it’s the awesome Rainbow Light Experiment. Maybe it’s the way The Tote is beyond packed but no-one is uncomfortable, instead everyone seems just on the right side of drunk. Maybe it’s the way everyone here seems to be friends and the sense of community is palpable. It’s probably all those things but I think it’s mostly the prospect of once again seeing a band who do everything right and who never fail to delight live.


Oddly then, two new songs of a markedly darker tone open the set, beginning with a Velvet Underground-style dirge before seguing into more familiar driving rhythms. I liked them a lot and so did the rest of the crowd it seemed, especially the drunk girls beside me – ‘Ooh, new songs and I love them already!’ It was the ‘hits’ from then on, each lovingly danced to, applauded and consumed by the crowd who by mid-way through the set had invaded the side of the stage. And of course there was the moment everyone was waiting for - the sing-along of the most ingenious refrain since ‘Are we not men? We are Devo!’ I guess that was the apex, for now.


Earlier this week I compared RvsP to a cross between Indian Jewelry and Pocahaunted but I’m already thinking that is not really true. They certainly fit with the current nu-psychedelic zeitgeist and you could draw references with bands ranging from Ducktails to much of the Paw Tracks roster, not to mention legends like Popol Vuh and Can. However, the multi-percussive, mulit-layered anthems RvsP construct, appear to be more the product of joyful experimentation between friends and a passion for creating, collaborating and performing than any external influences. That they are able to subvert this insular approach and create something of true communal jubilance is perhaps what makes them, you know, just great.

Next week the amazing Parking Lot Experiments will be playing their lovingly-crafted lo-fi gems, along with Pschue and Milk Teddy, as well as intriguing performance artists, V Dentatas, and of course the darlings of July themselves.

See you there!