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You better get to know about the Jungle Giants quicksmart, because they’ll be showing up more and more on the Brisbane indie radar. I spoke to frontman Sam Hales about the band’s debut EP and their first interstate tour.

The Jungle Giants are still only a relatively new band, having only played your first show late last year. How do you feel about how quickly this has all come together?
It’s been a little bit of a blur, but we are having heaps of fun. It’s a great feeling to be recognised for something we love doing.

Can you walk us through the beginnings of the band – who’s in it and what do you all do?
We all met during high school and formed the band right before graduation. I [Sam] started the band and [am on] Vocals/Rhythm Guitar. Cesira is the lead guitarist. Andrew is the Bassist/Backing Vocalist, and Keelan plays Drums.

You’re about to play some shows interstate for the first time, what are you looking forward to most about playing in different cities?
We’re super excited to see how our music goes down in the other states, we’ve never played anywhere other than Brisbane, so we are looking forward to having a dance with some Sydney-siders and Melbournians.

How has the EP been received since its release?
We’ve been hearing a lot of good things, so we are really glad people are enjoying it.

What was the writing and recording process like it?
The writing process was really simple because Sam wrote the songs a while before the actual recording. Our time in the studio was great, because we were working with a great local producer, Yanto Browning. We only had four days to get it all done though, so there was no time to waste.

Your lead single ‘Mr Polite’ has received a fair bit of attention – can you tell us a bit about the song?
It’s a pretty simple song with some fun melodies and rhythms. It’s about an on-off relationship, but plays with idea in a positive light.

Who have been some of the main influences (musical or non-musical) in forming the sound of the Jungle Giants?
Acts like Two Door Cinema Club and Bon Iver are major influences. Their music and stage presence is amazing, and really inspires us to get better and better.

You’ve already supported some fairly notable bands in your short musical career, what has been the highlight so far?
Our favourite show by far was Track & Field. It was a boutique event that we played at alongside The Belligerents, Ball Park Music and Last Dinosaurs. It sold-out and was absolutely mental.

Are you looking forward to playing the Big Sound Conference later this year? Will you have anything special in store for us?
We definitely are! We are super excited to present ourselves in a in such a wicked setting. We have a few new songs and some other special things prepared. Will have to wait and see!

What does the future hold for the Jungle Giants?
A stack of great shows, with some sweet bands. We are also hopefully getting back on the road for another tour later in the year.

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‘Time and  Place’ is the latest single from Brisbane boys Last Dinosaurs. It’s instantly recognisable as a LD tune (very much along the lines of their breakthrough single ‘Honolulu’) with cute guitar riffs and a damn catchy chorus. Enjoy!

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For some unknown reason I decided to ditch my well-laid plans and decided to just stick to the Artisan Gallery Outdoor stage for Big Sound Live’s Thursday night events. I’m pretty glad I did too, as the line up ended up being better than I recalled. I found the vibe of the outdoor stage a lot better than I had for the indoor venues on the Wednesday night. It was a lot more relaxed and people seemed more willing to move around. It didn’t seem as packed out as it did during Hungry Kids of Hungary’s set on Wednesday, but there was a constant flow of people coming throughout the night.

The night started with Richard in your Mind. The band has always been labelled as psychedelic, but there is a lot more to these guys than extended jams and trippy guitar effects. I could have watched them for a lot longer than just a 30 minute set – strong basslines, rhythmic drum beats, funk guitars and the most exciting and energetic frontman I’ve seen in ages.

It was synths galore when New Zealand act The Naked and Famous took the stage. The seemingly mismatched five piece actually produced a pretty decent sound, despite the fact that they didn’t seem too confident in themselves. Their nerves weren’t helped when the bass cut out mid way through the third song though – apparently due to noise complaints from surrounding neighbours. Despite this their set was extremely enjoyable. People around me seemed to know a few of their songs, ‘Young Blood’ and ‘Punching in a Dream’ and I was glad to see people actually singing along which doesn’t normally happen at smaller local shows much anymore.

It’s no secret that I’m a pretty big Ernest Ellis fan. I did enjoy his/their (because the name applies to both the solo artist and the whole band apparently) set, but I will admit that it wasn’t the best for Big Sound Live. As usual ‘Pulse’ detoured and became the middle section of ‘The End’ by the Doors. In a normal set I don’t mind this, but I think for a 30 minute set that is supposed to showcase your own original talent, it was time wasted. The rest of the set was pretty standard, ploughing through their well known songs, ‘Want for Anything’, ‘Loveless’ and ‘Heading for the Cold’. Ellis has a pretty diverse album that he never really seems to take advantage of live, which is a shame. One day maybe.

I really want to like Last Dinosaurs more. This was the third time I had seen them, and I still got that same feeling as I had the previous two times. They play well and their songs are good, but there is nothing fantastic about them. They don’t move me in the way that other music does. Songs like ‘Honolulu’ and ‘Alps’ are always good to listen to, but the rest of the set was just too average.

Sydney band Parades was easily the highlight of my Big Sound Live experiences. Their sound was incredibly lush, and pretty different to anything I had heard over the two nights. Strong in vocals harmonies, and musical influences from post rock, jazz and indie pop I really wouldn’t know what to label them as which is one of the things I love most about them. Their live set was seemingly flawless, calm but with a good amount of energy for the style. I would have to say that there were my best ‘new’ find of the event.

Overall no, I don’t think that the acts I saw over the two nights were a showcase of Australia’s best and original talent. I think it was a better representation of what has been popular so far this year. I think that Brisbane could have been better represented, especially considering the event was held here. It was also disappointing to think back about the Brisbane bands I did see and realise they were some of my least favourite acts of the event. But the event succeeded in introducing me to some new bands, and for the most part I had fun and enjoyed each act I saw to varying degrees. And isn’t that supposed to be the point of live music anyway?

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There has been a bit of noise lately about Brisbane’s newest record label, soundslikebrisbane (SLB). Basically, it is 13 of the city’s independent labels (with the possibility of more to come) brought together to operate under the one name. The list of labels is astonishing – Plus One, Dew Process, Starving Kids…and the artists that have now been brought together is pretty amazing as well – Last Dinosaurs, the Gin Club, The Medics and Jackie Marshall just to name a few. If you want the complete list of labels and artists check out the site. Sounds good – yes?

From what I understand, the independent labels will still be operating themselves, under their current names, but SLB will be aimed at promoting and supporting. So what does this all mean? Personally, I’m hoping that it’s a turning point in the Brisbane music scene. I’d love to see gigs that have actually been properly promoted – not just a Facebook spasm two days before the show. I’d love to know when albums are actually coming out, and more importantly be able to access the damn things (I know… I still can’t let the Seja incident go). So far it is looking pretty good. The site has an extensive news section, blog and mailing list aimed at keeping everyone informed.

I must admit, over the past couple of years I’ve become more and more jaded about the Brisbane music scene. I can’t quite put my finger on why though. Yes, at times it can be a little cliquey, but I guess the overall quality of venues, performances and promotions just haven’t been cutting it for me. There haven’t been many local events that have drawn me out from my safe and warm home into the cold, dark and dank Valley.

I’m probably getting a little bit too excited, that just one thing like soundslikebrisbane will change all of this, but I think it is a step in the right direction. Has anyone else noticed that nobody seems passionate about the local scene anymore? Or are there still people out there who find a gig (or several) to go to every week? Please let me know if you do, I’m keen to hear why you’re not as old and cynical as I am. I hope this project will push these acts out to the forefront so we can actually get decent crowds at decent venues. I could go on and on about the Brisbane music scene here, but I won’t (actually I’ve been trying to avoid the topic because it tends to turn more into a rant than anything else…).

There’s going to be an event to launch the label on Friday June 18 as part of the Inhabit Fiesta held by Brisbane City Council. There will be about 10 local acts from SLB performing on two stages in the CBD laneways (Burnett Lane and Island Crt) – artists include Texas Tea, Carry Nation, Fushia, My Fiction, The Rational Academy and Last Dinosaurs. It’s free, and it’s all ages and I believe it’s starting at about 5.30. Exact details of who is playing when and where don’t seem to be up yet but I’ll post a link on my Twitter when I find it. It would be great to see everyone come along and support the local scene (…and wish a certain blogger a happy birthday…).

Still not enough to pull you in? I have some free (and legal) MP3s to share. Enjoy:

Carry Nation – Phil Spector

My Fiction – Gravel Rash & Football Stars

Rational Academy – 2004

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So you might remember a few weeks ago, I reviewed the Operator Please Myspace Secret Show and had some nice things to say about their support, Last Dinosaurs. Well I tracked down their latest EP ‘Back from the Dead’, and I’m quite impressed. There’s a lot more to this Brisbane quartet than just their latest single ‘Honolulu’ (see above video). It’s nowhere near the best that they have to offer, but it will do until we have a full LP to listen to. Have a listen to a few of their other tracks on Myspace and see for yourself.

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Myspace Secret Shows are few and far between in Brisbane, and for those who don’t use Myspace, completely non-existent. The basic gist is that Myspace users find out about the show and then register via SMS to find out the secret location of the show. Last Friday’s event saw Last Dinosaurs and Operator Please take to a makeshift stage at the wonderfully interesting venue Lightspace.

Despite the crowd being mostly made up of underage punters, it was a casual and relaxed atmosphere Last Dinosaurs took the stage early in the evening and delivered a solid set, cementing them as one of Brisbane’s hottest up and coming bands. Playing tracks from their debut EP Back from the Dead, including lead single ‘Honolulu’, they warmed up the crowd nicely with their energetic blend of indie pop.

Operator Please weren’t immediately impressive, taking a little bit to get into the swing of things. The band played a mixture of tracks from their debut album Yes Yes Vindictive as well as their latest release Gloves. ‘Logic’ and ‘Back and Forth’, two of their latest singles were popular amongst the crowd but the band really shone through the lesser known and newer tracks. ‘Losing Patience’ and ‘Just Kiss’ were highlights, showing just how far the band has come since their early days.

A surprise cover of ‘Lose My Breath’ by Destiny’s Child made an appearance, with violinist Taylor Henderson stepping up to share vocal duties with Amandah Wilkinson. While it was interesting to see them do a cover, it really didn’t suit their style or the rest of their set. They brought back the excitement though with a different take on ‘Just a Song About Ping Pong’ which really got the crowd going. The set flew by surprisingly quickly, and really needed an encore to make it feel final. They made up for the lack of encore by coming back to sign merch and pose for photos with fans though. The band still seems to be finding their feet when it comes to performing but overall the set was really enjoyable, and made it really quite obvious why Operator Please has gotten so popular.

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