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Locals lads (and lady) Velociraptor have been attracting a lot of attention of late. With their energetic live shows, and notoriety for barely being able to fit everyone onstage, coupled with recent Triple J attention things are certainly looking bright for the band. I spoke to frontman Jeremy Neale about an upcoming tour, a new EP and getting all of the ‘raptors’ organised.

First and foremost, what is your stance on velociraptors?

They are they only breed of dinosaurs that can open doors. This makes them the most threatening species of Dinosaur present in today’s door obsessed society.

You’re about to embark on an east coast tour. How does such a large band go about organising themselves?

Well, fortunately this time around we have a top-notch management team. Other than that, everybody will have a piece of paper with the venue and time we’ll be playing and with any luck at least 7 of us will show up.

Velociraptor are listed officially as a 12 piece but you rarely seem to play as such – what determines the size of the band on any given night?

The rider. If we get word that there’s not enough to go around we draw straws to see who has to stay home and drink home beers. Also a few raptors play in other touring bands and live/ work outside of Brisbane.

I hear there will be a new EP coming out soon; can you tell us a little about it?

A small collection of upbeat pop gems that are suitable for singing and dancing along to. It’s been a good chance for us to get some of our/ audiences’ live favourites recorded.

What is the song writing process like a band with so many members?

A lot of the time I’ll just write something at home or in the car and then bring it to practice and the raptors will work their magic on it. Other raptors also write songs and bring it to the raptor table in the same fashion.

I’ve seen you guys likened to ‘gritty garage sex’ and a ‘vintage street gang’. How would you describe yourselves?

A real neato gang of super bros with good values and a penchant for truffles and fine wine.

How do you feel about the attention the band has received so far?

Besides the odd comment of  “I don’t understand why there’s 7 guitarists” it’s been really positive and I couldn’t be happier with it. We’ve had some solid support from Triple J for our track ‘In The Springtime’ and there seems to be a really rad buzz for the tour.

What is your favourite thing about playing in Brisbane?

It’s an awesome city, easy to source enough amps, we get to play with our friend’s bands and also at the end of the night we can get a limo home to the raptor mansion that comes complete with 12 beds, all of which are race car themed

What can the uninitiated expect from a live show?

It is pretty chaotic. I’ve always been a firm believer in that if you wanted to hear the song exactly how it was recorded, then you should have stayed home and listened to the record. It’s louder than the recordings and more aggressive but it’s a visual spectacle and even if I wasn’t in the band I’d still wanna go and see it.

What does the future hold for Velociraptor?

Godzilla and Monster X have been threatening to destroy Brisbane. We are training every day so that we may have the strength to defeat these gigantic angry monsters. Also, although it has been delayed many times, we do have a film clip on the way. An album will be most triumphant once we can get the necessary 900 dollaridoos.

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I Want That You Are Always Happy is the long awaited debut album from Townsville indie-folk collective The Middle East. You probably remember them from when Triple J was flogging ‘Blood’ from way back when, and while this could easily be one of my favourite albums titles of all time the record simply fails to deliver. The 7-piece is well known for their poppy folk stylings and lush vocal harmonies, but for the most part IWTYAAH comes across as sparse and lacking. It certainly doesn’t sound like a record made by a band consisting of seven members.

‘Black Death 1349’ brings the album to a slow and unexciting start and stays quite low key until the album’s highlight ‘Jesus Came to my Birthday Party’, where the upbeat tempo and combination of male/female vocals help to make it a standout. Unfortunately the album quickly takes another dive and staggers long, uninteresting folk songs, modern country tracks and a few pop hits. The constant changing of pace is distracting, making I Want That You Are Always Happy a tedious album to listen to, certainly not drawing you back in for more listens. It’s as if they can’t quite decide who they want to be as a band.

There are some decent tracks on the album though. ‘Land of the Bloody Unknown’ is a typically Australian folk/country song that is certainly worth a listen, though could possibly be better suited to another artist such as Gareth Liddiard. ‘Sydney to Newcastle’ is a nice little instrumental piano piece that could have been built up into a full, more interesting song. ‘Months’ is more of a classic kind of Middle Eastsound, with the most memorable hook on the album. The few standouts don’t make up for the pitfalls in this case though, meaning I Want That You Are Always Happy is likely to be quickly forgotten.

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Brisbane dance-pop band the Belligerents are set to release a new EP and embark on their first major tour. I got the chance to ask bassist Konstantine a few questions before it all kicks off…

I’ve heard all sorts of stories about the band forming – strange German girls? Dating each other’s sisters? Let’s set the story straight once and for all…

James and Konsti [sic] knew each other from school, Lewis knew Konsti because Konsti was/is dating his sister and Lewis knew Andy because he pashed his sister once at a festival. Stag came along soon after and the band was formed as one.

Some of your influences shine through pretty clearly in your recordings (Foals, for example), but what are some less obvious bands or artists that have helped to shape the sound of the Belligerents?

Talking heads, Nintendo 64, The Rapture, The Klaxons, Metronomy, Ke$ha, NWA and Eminem

You’ve had amazing success with the Triple J Unearthed program. How has this helped the band so far?

It helped us heaps. We got our tunes on the radio, which means a lot of exposure to a lot of people. It’s also a great way for people to find out about us. It’s not the be all and end all but it is an amazing tool for bands.

Pretty much every live review I’ve read praises you guys for your energy – is there anything you do to prep yourselves before a show to give that much energy?

We like to do naked stretch exercises. Lewis is a professional equestrian so he knows how to properly warm up for shows which is a real advantage for the whole band. Three days prior to our shows we only eat raw meat, which gives us a bit of an edge compared to other performers.

Why was it so important to capture this energy so well on the record?

The energy of our live show is very important to us. We wanted to make a record that captures the energy without adding elements that we aren’t able to recreate live. Every part that is played on the record is played live as well.

Is the title of your new EP Less Arty, More Party referring to anything specific?

We were chatting one day and trying to figure out whether we could get on this festival bill. Then I said something along the lines of: “I don’t think we fit in there. We’re less arty more party.” Lewis the smart little munchkin picked up on it and we decided that it described our band perfectly.

I saw you guys support the Paper Scissors last year – how were they to play with? What other bands have you enjoyed playing/touring with?

Paper Scissors support was fun, those guys play some cool music and we had a mad booty shake with them. Some of our other supports have been Metronomy, Neon Indian and Yacht Club Djs and they all blew us away for different reasons.

You have a pretty decent tour coming up in April for the new EP – what has your touring experience been like so far? Any hilarious stories to tell yet?

We played a show in late-2010 at the Evelyn Hotel in Melbourne with Northeast Party House. The show was insane, big crowd, great bands, but it was all the stuff that happened around it was even funnier. I got food poisoning and barely made it onto the plane, after the show Lewis nearly got arrested because he pissed off a cab driver, Andy passed out and James got lucky.

What can the uninitiated expect from a live show?

Naked men wearing nothing but black sunglasses, pony’s [sic], blow up dolls, confetti and bumper cars.

What’s on the horizon for the Belligerents after this east coast tour?

We’ve got a plan for the rest of 2011 but that’s super secret. What we can tell you is the party won’t story and we’ll be releasing some even fresher tunes later this year.

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Well, it’s January. And that means that voting is well and truly underway in Triple J’s Hottest 100. In fact, there’s only one more week left to vote so if you plan on doing so, you better start thinking about which songs you’re going to vote for! Some years the voting process is really easy for me, other years it is pretty tough. I’m always torn between voting for the songs that I love, and voting for the songs that I think will do well (in order to keep the songs I don’t like from getting in the top ten!). Basically I put too much thought into something that ultimately doesn’t really matter. To me the Hottest 100 is kind of like an awards show – I know I’ll be disappointed with the results, but I still tune in because I enjoy the suspense.

Alright, so my ten picks for the ‘hottest 100’ of 2010, in no particular order (well, actually, alphabetical)…

1. Ball Park Music – iFly

2. Best Coast – Boyfriend

3. The Boat People – Damn Defensive

4. Cloud Control – There’s Nothing In The Water We Can’t Fight

5. Hungry Kids Of Hungary – Wristwatch

6. Inland Sea – All Fall Down

No video!!!! Check out their Myspace to hear the track.

7. Jonsi – Go Do

8. Kimbra – Settle Down

9. The National – Bloodbuzz Ohio

(it was hard to pick just one song from these guys…)

10. Yeasayer – Ambling Alp

 

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Part 2 of my interview with Dean of Hungary Kids of Hungary. Read the first part of the interview, or the full article written for Time Off Media.

 

Do you feel daunted about debuting some of the new material?

 

Daunted is not really the word…excited. I mean we’ve been touring a lot and you play enough shows with the same sort of catch of songs and you start to get a little bit sick of them. For us, it’s really exciting to be able to play the new material. We’ve been rehearsing and working quite hard on the set list for this tour. We’re pretty much itching to get out and play them finally.

 

Will it be a bit weird having some songs where people aren’t really singing along and just kind assessing what it’s all like?

 

Yeah…I mean, it may be. We’ll see how it goes. Hopefully the crowds respond to the new songs. I think that they’ll catch on quite quickly for the people who are used to seeing us play. You know, the old singles are there and all the old favourites are there. We’re not cutting out big chunks of what we know that people come to the shows to hear. I think we’re almost playing the album in full, so there’s lots of new material in there, so people have something to get excited about – something they haven’t heard before.

 

That’ll be good. Well, you’re actually Triple J’s album of the week next week, so that should probably help out.

 

Yeah, we only found out about that today! I’m a little bit excited.

 

Yeah, it’s a pretty big thing.

 

Yeah, it’s a really big deal for us to have that level of support from those guys. They’ve been really great to us the whole way along. But yeah, feature record is amazing. We’re all sort of in a little bit of disbelief. We’re ecstatic.

 

You also had your first front cover recently, didn’t you, for Time Off Magazine?

 

Yeah, Time Off put us on the cover….our dubious mugs.

 

Was it weird seeing your faces all around the city? Time Off gets to like everywhere.

 

Yeah, it’s on like everywhere. It is a bit weird. I was out in Fortitude Valley on the weekend and I went to a venue that the band all spends a lot of time hanging out there, it’s like a nice little home base for us where we just go and catch lives bands that perhaps we haven’t seen before. And yeah, I walked in there and someone had the Time Off and started making fun of me for it.

 

So you’re not getting chased down the street by swarms of girls yet?

 

No, none of that ridiculousness. Thankfully not. Kane got stopped for an autograph in Sydney, which he was quite weirded out about.

 

It would be kind of surreal, wouldn’t it?

 

Yeah it’s sort of a strange thing, when someone just comes up and it’s like ‘hey I know you…’ I guess it’s all part of the weirdness of playing music. There’s a lot of people out there who are very aware of who you are and what you do and you’ve got no real control over that.

 

Stay tuned for Part 3 of the interview, to be posted tomorrow…

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I was on my way home from work this afternoon, stressing. I had no new music for today. I’ll admit, my default was Dum Dum Girls, but my brain just kept telling me they’re not new anymore you idiot, their album has been thrown around the internet for months now. So I was in a slight state of panic. Until a song came on Triple J – and it was one of those songs where you just want to rock out. Nod your head. Dance. Just be like “yes yes yes yes yes”! All at once.

This song was ‘She Never Wants to Dance’ by Adelaide four piece City Riots.  I haven’t actually listened to their other songs yet, it’s just been that one track so far (slack, I know), so I can’t guarantee the quality of the rest of their tunes. But this track was really fantastic. It’s even available for free download from the Triple J site, so get it while you can!

Add to DeliciousAdd to DiggAdd to FaceBookAdd to Google BookmarkAdd to MySpaceAdd to NewsvineAdd to RedditAdd to StumbleUponAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Twitter

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Triple J Like A Version Volume 5

8/10

It’s always hard to put together a compilation album, especially one that consists entirely of covers, but Triple J’s Like a Version series always does well. The fifth volume of the series features 20 tracks of both Australian and international artists playing covers of some of their favourite songs live on the radio station’s breakfast show. It also comes with a 14 track DVD of these live performances. While the DVD is certainly interesting, it’s not really necessary – you’ll probably find yourself listening to the CD more.

The albums starts off strongly with The Kooks covering MGMT’s ‘Kids’, an already brilliant song that they’ve managed to turn into an amazing cover. Most of the better tracks are the unexpected ones, where artists are covering a different style or genre. Urthboy’s ‘London Calling’ is extremely enjoyable, emphasizing the underlying reggae influences of the recording. Sparkadia turns The Presets’ ‘This Boys in Love’ from an atmospheric electronic track to a poignant acoustic indie song.  Philadephia Grand Jury’s cover of Jay-Z’s ’99 Problems’ is okay. It’s fun to listen to, but probably a track you’ll skip over after a few listens. Other covers highlight the musicians’ already proven talents. Liam Finn’s cover of Neil Young’s ‘Old Man’ is stunning, and probably the best track of the album and Little Birdy’s ‘Do Right Woman’ showcases Katy Steele’s amazing voice. The whole album isn’t fantastic, with a few of the tracks coming across as plain or just sounding awkward (for example, Whitley’s ‘Dancing Queen’), but if you’re a regular morning show listener, it’s a nice trip down memory lane.

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