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Posts Tagged ‘brisbane music’

So I’ve been a bit quiet lately. But I write for Rave Magazine now! The first review I’ve done for them can be found here.

HIS MERRY MEN – Super Secret Spies EP

Monday, 12 December 2011

(Independent)

Brisbane’s own funktastic nine-piece release debut EP

In a city that seems to be revolving around indie-pop lately, His Merry Men are a breath of fresh air on the scene. Combining elements of funk and jazz, featuring strong vocals from frontwoman Megan Crocombe, the nine-piece are bursting with energy. The title track opens with a ‘50s-inspired surf guitar lick and horn accents in just the right places, while Crocombe advises us to “Just get out and enjoy yourself” over a languid chromatic riff in Njoy. Energy remains high throughout the EP, even during the slower Motown-influenced Bobby Got, thanks to thick textures and a beautifully layered brass section. The band have quickly made a name for themselves because of their vivacious live performances, and thankfully they’ve managed to capture this perfectly on record.”

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Well, the song isn’t all that new but if I’m not mistaken this is the band’s first video! If you’re still yet to hear Brisbane’s 12-piece retro sounding garage rock band Velociraptor, familiarise yourself now – they’re only going to get bigger.

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Local boys the Cairos are about to head off on another tour on the back of their Summer Catalogue EP. I got a chance to ask lead guitarist Alfio Alivuzza a few questions about the touring life and signing to a major record label.

Have any of the band members actually ever been to Cairo?

Unfortunately no! Cairo came to us and we’ve yet to return the favour… Mind you there’s only oneCairoand four of us.

Can you walk us through how the four of you got together?

Three of us went to the same high school and soon after, realising our mutual crushes on various shredders we decided we would emulate our heroes together.  BC [drums] floated in somewhere but that’s another story….

Who have been some of your main influences in forming the Cairos’ sound?

With four vastly different musical tastes, it’s hard to pinpoint directly what influences go into our songwriting. Songs are usually written together in the moment and tend to be vastly different from one another. Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds soundtrack has definitely served as Inspiration more than once.

You’re just about to start another tour!  What has been the highlight of your touring adventures so far?

Running out of fuel 10 km from Gundagai, pushing the car at night on the highway past semi trailers with no hazard lights with the battery dead for four hours definitely has to be up there.

You’ve played a whole heap of shows now, how do you try to keep each performance fresh and exciting?

We never hesitate to try new songs. It gives us a chance to test out new material and understand which tracks work well and which ones don’t. There’s a lot of songs we’ve played that will more than likely never be recorded.

How has the response to your Summer Catalogue EP been?

Summer Catalogue was a collection or songs we wrote and recorded only months after our Lost At Sea EP was released. After much debate the decision to release the songs over a year later proved to be worthwhile and we are very thankful for the positive encouragement people have bestowed upon us.

You seem to have played at almost every venue in Brisban. Where is your favourite place to play and what do you love about playing in Brisbane?

I think venue wise, The Tivoli always brings out the best in us. Both in performance and fun. (the healthy rider helps too!). [Brisbane] is the place we have measured our goals and milestones. Many of our greatest musical memories have been in this city.

I read that you guys recently signed to Island Records – what will this mean for the band?

It pretty much means if we don’t sell a lot of records we’re doomed! Fortunately they will be too so they’ll be working extra hard to put our name out there. I hope haha…

I hear that you’re about to head into the studio to start recording your third release – what can we expect?

Some older songs we’ve been playing for around a year some newer fresh songs. With Wayne Connolly producing were hoping to have a lot more focus in the songwriting and then finally release an up to date product from the Cairos! (Although who knows how long until these songs are released!)

What does the future hold for the Cairos?

Parenthood and then old age and then hopefully we’ll be stuffed and passed on through the ages.

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Local four piece Millions opened the night to a half packed Alhambra Lounge with their retro sounding garage pop. Triple J favourite ‘Citrus’ got the ever-growing crowd enthusiastic early on in the set, though attention started to wane towards the end, with crowd chatter dominating between songs. ‘Those Girls’ finished the set off nicely with its catchy bass hook, but for the most part the set was rather same same. Individual songs were enjoyable but a full set from the band was rather bland.

Adelaide’s City Riots were up next, marking a very noticeable difference in energy from Millions. Upbeat and continually encouraging clap-a-longs, City Riots powered through their set confidently. Latest single ‘In My Head’ was a highlight and the set ended magnificently with a guest appearance from Dan James of Drawn from Bees to cover Bruce Sringsteen’s ‘Dancing in the Dark’.

Ball Park Music opened strongly with their single ‘iFly’ which got most of the sold out crowd singing along. There’s really not much left to be said about Ball Park Music. You know straight up that you’ll be walking into a fantastic show, and you’re guaranteed to get exactly that. Sam Cromack is easily one of the best frontmen Brisbane has to offer with his quirky sense of humour (“This next song is by Coldplay, it’s called ‘Clocks’…of course it’s not you fucking idiots”) and crazy stage antics.

They played a perfect mix of old and new from ‘Culture Vultures in the Year 2008’ and ‘All I Want is You’ right through to latest single ‘It’s Nice to be Alive’. The group somehow managed to pull off an awesome no-frills cover of ‘Peaches’ by the Presidents of theUSA. I can’t possibly imagine another band that could have done such a straight forward cover of such a ridiculous (by which I mean ridiculously awesome) song.

As usual, the six-piece played spot on – musically tight and absolutely entertaining and energetic. Ball Park Music are easily one of the most exciting live bands to watch at the moment. They closed their set with crowd favourite ‘Sad Rude Future Dude’, consisting of a great chorus sing-a-long, a second verse reprise and some pretty impressive crowd surfing from Cromack.

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To celebrate a thousand issues and 20 years since its inception, local street press Rave Magazine put together a bit of a Brisbane all-star gig at the Zoo last night. Indie rockers Velociraptor opened the night to a fairly sparse crowd, sporting 11 of their 12 members tonight (well, 10 members for the first couple of songs as main frontman Jeremy Neale explained, “Lauren’s parking her car but we’ll have a keyboard player at any moment.”). There were a few moments where you had to wonder maybe six guitars in are too many guitars in one band, with some of the heavier moments sounding a little messy. Despite this, the group put on an exciting show, high in energy and enthusiasm.

Keeping in theme of bands with a ridiculous amount of members, folk-pop group Inland Sea were up next, opening their set with ‘Traitor’. Tonight they were down a few members, namely their string section which unfortunately impacted on their overall sound quite a bit. The strings add a much needed middle ground between ‘soft’ and ‘soaring’. It seemed like the group tried to make up for the lack of strings by simply being louder, instead coming across as overdone rather than enthusiastic. ‘All Fall Down’ was enjoyable, as it is simply a beautiful song (as is that whole EP actually), but for the most part the set failed to impress.

Highly anticipated, Dave McCormack of Custard fame took to the stage next. Custard, or any of McCormack’s other projects, have never really featured too heavily in any of my music adventures so I didn’t really know what to expect from the set. A few glitches with the synth/keyboard (which Seja Vogel from Sekiden/Regurgitator was helping out on) early in the set stalled things a little bit, but was a fairly seamless performance overall. McCormack proved that he’s still a mighty fine performer and enigmatic frontman.

Easily the most highly anticipated act of the night (apart from the ‘mystery’ headline act) was the Brisband Experience. Consisting of members from Hungary Kids of Hungary, Drawn from Bees, The Boat People, Rhubarb, the Blood Poets, Transport and as also Katie Noonan, the group performed some classic songs fromBrisbanebands. ‘Breath in Now’ by george was as beautiful as ever, with Katie Noonan showing that she still has an amazing voice. Rhubarb’s ‘Exerciser’ and the Go-Betweens ‘Streets of Your Town’ were both highlights that prompted some nice sing-a-longs. However the best moment of the set was easily the cover of Savage Garden’s ‘To the Moon and Back’, where Dan James of Drawn from Bees helped to turn a fairly corny song into something pretty awesome.

There were a lot of names thrown around as to who the mystery headline act could have been. Powderfinger, Robert Forster, Butterfingers, sixfthick and the Grates were a few rumours floating around. Most punters consistently guessed the act to be Regurgitator though, and there was a roar of applause as the trio walked onto the stage. Performing a classic hits style set, the ‘Gurge certainly made a spectacular comeback toBrisbane’s live music scene. Opening with ‘I Sucked a Lot of Cock to Get Where I am’ and then continuing on through favourites like ‘My Friend Robot’, ‘I Wanna be a Nudist’ and ‘The Drop’ there wasn’t a dull moment to the set. ‘Black Bugs’ transformed into a brief rendition of ‘Sweet Child O Mine’ and Seja Vogel came back to help out on synths for a few tracks, making ‘Polyester Girl’ a particular highlight. They closed their far too short set with ‘! (The Song Formerly Known As)’ and ‘Kung Foo Sing’, leaving most patrons on a trip down memory lane.

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More new music from one of Brisbane’s favourite bands at the moment, Ball Park Music. The group only officially released their music video for ‘Rich People Are Stupid’ a few weeks ago, but we already have more new music from this lovely six-piece. It’s called ‘It’s Nice to be Alive’ and is from their debut album that will be released later this year.

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Not far from kicking off the first ever headlining tour, I asked frontman Sam Cromack a few questions about how the band been going lately.

You’re about to embark on your first headlining tour – do you have anything special in store?

In about half an hour I’ll be heading to our first rehearsal for this tour. We have a bunch of things to learn: some new songs and another cover. If all goes according to plan, we’ll be busting out our most fabulous cover yet.

Your new video for ‘Rich People are Stupid’ is pretty crazy – did you really smoke your own moustache?

Yes. It’s not half as bad as everyone assumes it would be. Not like I had to eat vomit or poo or anything.

What have been your main influences (musical or non-musical) when writing?

I like lots of different styles of music, so I won’t bother boring anyone with which particular bands I like. I try lots of different styles of writing too. Sometimes I’ll sit about with a guitar and just noodle, sometimes I’ll work at the computer and experiment with recording. Sometimes a tune will just “come”, and I’ll sing it into my phone so I don’t forget it. I just do whatever. There’s always music to be written.

You seem to be very busy touring all of the time – what do you like to do in your downtime?

I like to go to work and earn some money so I can stay alive. I like to spend time with my girlfriend. I like to cook and drink alcohol. I’m open to anything. Do you want to take me somewhere?

You’ve had some pretty awesome support slots over the last couple of years, who has been amongst the favourites?

Even though we know them quite well now, our national tour supporting Hungry Kids of Hungary was undeniably good. It was their album tour. They’d done the hard yards; we just got to play in the big venues full of screaming Hungry Kids fans. They may have hated our band for all I know, but who cares. I had a good time.

You’ve also had some overseas shows as well, in Singapore and Vietnam, how have you been received overseas?

No-one knows us there, but it was still a gnarly adventure. The people and the lifestyle there, especially in Vietnam is a great experience. It’s very different there. The audience aren’t exposed to a lot of live music, so they’re very grateful for anyone who’ll come. The bands we played all have a different attitude too. Western bands are very sombre and serious; they’re shit-scared of putting on a ball-busting show at the risk of being uncool or daggy. But this suited us very well. We just wanted to behave like dickheads and have fun. The Vietnamese can really party. I miss them.

What can the uninitiated expect from a live Ball Park Music Show?

We insist on keeping our live show slightly unplanned. Spontaneity is at the heart of a great performance. I mean, sure, it’s lovely to play your songs well, but you want to give the audience good reason to be in attendance. I like to think anything can happen. We’ve removed clothes, auctioned fingernails, dry-humped patrons, climbed on people, run away, spat wine on people’s clean clothes. The more people the come, the better it will be. Also, the more alcohol I consume, the better it will be.

What’s your favourite thing about playing in Brisbane?

Brisbane crowds are always large and they’re never pretentious. They like to get pissed and have a good time. Not likeSydney.

What has been the highlight of Ball Park Music’s career so far?

Playing at CAMA Festival in Hanoi, Vietnam was one of the greatest and most surreal moments of my life. I will cherish that memory for a long time. I also loved play ‘Apartment’ with Custard singer Dave McCormack at last year’s Triple J AusMusic Month party. That was equally surreal, and banging that out to a sold-out crowd. Ripper.

What does the future hold for Ball Park Music?

Hopefully a lot. We have a lot planned for the near future. I hope we can stay busy and enthused about our music. As long as we remain on an upward climb, you can count me in.

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