No Jackets

this calls for some tuneskies

Meredith 2012 Days Two & Three: Kiss My Brass

Saturday

Saturday is always my favourite day at Meredith. Even though the line-up changes every year; by Saturday you’ve settled in, partied with your neighbours, and woken up to the glory of the City of Ballarat Municipal Brass Band. The joy the band brings to the early-birds comes from their vast area of brass covers of classic pop-songs, the highlight being an Eric Clapton medley and I Will Survive. We put a lot of work into a banner for the Meredithian stalwarts, which we kindly donated at the end of their set. They seemed to enjoy our ‘Kiss My Brass’ pun.

But it was Twerps who were the first recognisable act. Making their first appearance at Meredith, the group played a disappoint set. Although their music would be almost perfectly suit for that time and place, their set was sloppy, shown by the train-smash that was their current hit He’s In Stock, which lasted only 40 seconds before grinding to a screeching halt. It was a low-point of the set which featured predominantly tracks from their LP, many of which went off to strong applause from the small crowd that were downwith Dreamin’ getting the best reception.

I took the opportunity to relax during Chet Faker, drifting in and out of consciousness, so I’m not going to comment on the set. He does have a pretty sturdy beard though, which is a definite positive. I was particularly keen for the next act though. Royal Headache have been on the scene for a few years now, and in the process of releasing their second album. Even though I had high expectations, they did not disappoint. Lead singer Shogun showed the angst and anger expected of a 70s punk group, stopping Distant & Vague after 30 seconds because he “wasn’t feeling it” and responding to the shoe-throwers with “have fun walking around on a limp you fucking dickhead”. Their rudeness made their show, and after accidentally attempting to leave the stage 15 minutes early, they played a few tracks that will be on their next album. More than a few boots were shown during Girls, but nothing compared to what would happen next.

Unfortunately, I made the stupid decision not to watch Big Jay McNeely, and I will regret it for a long time. I have heard from a few witnesses that the 85-year-old legend descended from the clouds, threw pots of gold to the adoring fans and played the sax so well that Chris Nolan himself began to weep. Maybe a slight exaggeration, but Big Jay got the first booting of the festival, and he was eternally grateful.

The slight breeze drifting through South Pines gave us some relief from the heat during the Afternoon, as a number of visitors frequented our campsite. A bloke collecting money for charity and handing out Smile stickers dropped around. This is the third time we’d met him, the other occasions being last years’ Meredith and Falls Festival, and now know his introduction word for word.

There’s been some complaints, and you’ll have to come talk with me. Apparently you guys haven’t been partying hard enough.

With his name tag he looks pretty official, and last year it’s a little nerve-wracking with the first sentence, but for the third successive time I donated and got a third Smile sticker, all of which adorn the back of my laptop.

But we headed back down for Saskwatch. The Melbourne group had bewitched the Amphtitheatre at Golden Plains earlier this year, and had nailed down the 6pm slot this Meredith. They did not disappoint. Led singer Nkechi Anele, has some classic moves that had most of the men (and women) in the crowd in adoration. Although, they have only released the one album, it is the start of something great. Blending jazz and Funk into some incredibly catchy tunes, the set peaked during covers of Robbie Williams’ Kids and Little Red’s Coca Cola, which the band completely made their own. Their was no one in the crowd who could escape the boogie that was going down.

I hung around the Amphitheatre for both Regurgitator and Turbonegro. Sitting in the Pink Flamingo for Regurgitator, we were more focussed on conversation than enjoying the sounds of one of Australia’s older acts that are still performing. I kinda feel like Regurgitator are a bit of a novelty act that got a bit too popular. But I Will Lick Your Arsehole is always fun. I would have liked to have another shot at Turbonegro. I was unfamiliar with their work, and stayed towards the back of the Sup, preferring to talk crap with my mates. But we all had a huge singalong to Killing In The Name which was played by the DJs after their set.

The festival headliners Primal Scream took the stage to cover midnight. The British stalwarts last toured here for the 2010 Big Day Out, but this set was much more suitable for them. The perennially youthful Bobby Gillespie spent most of the time perched over the front of the stage, in what was a Screamadelica-heavy set. Movin’ On Up was played early in the set, with a slightly different intro, but the epic rendition of Come Together was the set highlight. Ever the debonair, Gillespie’s spoken words ‘Be safe, motherfuckers’ launched the crowd into a final cover version of the Stone’s Rocks leaving a number of boots in the air.

The Meredith Sky Show brought a bit of a lull to proceedings. Sure it could have been fun if you’d been on some sort of narcotics, but I’m not so excited by colourful lights and while DJ Flagrant‘s Audio Visual Show was entertaining, I feel it would have been better suited to 11pm on Tuesday at The Hawthorn. I mean, Coldplay and Adele aren’t really Meredith artists and they featured too prominently. Know your audience! I stayed through Itch-E and Scratch-E, mainly because my bodies combination of energy drinks and alcohol meant I had to be moving, but it really wasn’t my cup of tea, so I retreated back to the tent for more conversations about the upcoming apocalypse.

Sunday

I made a bit of an effort to get up early and attend Master Song’s Tai Chi Masterclass. Much like the Brass Band the day before, this is an annual event at Meredith, at it was definitely worth it. Certainly made my body feel less toxic.

The only other music event for the day for me was The Murlocs. I haven’t been particularly quiet about my adoration for the upcoming coastal Victorian music scene, and The Murlocs are right at the forefront. Their mid afternoon set was well attended, helped by the upcoming Meredith Gift, but a large number were getting involved. Delusional Blues remains to be a set highlight, and their cover of The Count Five’s Psychotic Reaction got people moving. After their set, I retreated back to camp to finish packing, just as Gift participants were undressing. We elected not to hang around for the Gift, choosing to hit the road and beat the traffic.

Photo Thanks to ABC Ballarat

It takes a long time to come down from Meredith. I’m still listening pretty much solely to Meredith music. But I guess there is only four months till Golden Plains

Meredith 2012 Day One: Omar god!

Sleep was scarce, alcohol was plentiful, and more beards than a Santa Claus convention. And there was music too. That was pretty much Meredith Music Festival to the untrained eye. But for those in the know, it’s an experience you will never forget. It’s no wonder that patrons have made the annual pilgrimage to The Supernatural Amphitheatre for up to 20 years. It was only my second Meredith and my third trip to The Sup, but I’m becoming to feel a part of the Meredith life.

Part of this is organisation. For the first time, our car got out on time. 7am departure led to an easy ride down past the Geelong and to the town of Meredith. A good 30 minutes ahead of the rest of our convoy. Flying down the Princes Highway without the use of a rearview mirror due to a car full of Eskis, tents, gazebos and beer is quite a harrowing experience, so lane changing was kept to a minimum. It was quite exciting seeing cars with couches dangerously on their roofs fly past. With our convoy finally assembled and new friends made, entering the campsite was typically easy.

“Do you have any glass?”

“No.”

“Can I look in the back?”

“Pardon?”

“Ahh, don’t bother.”

The unfurling of our campsite flags, the union of the ‘Treehead’, ‘Whale’ and ‘Penguin’ sigils, and the first listen of our unofficial anthem for the weekend, The Trashmen’s Surfin’ Bird took place as Cars filtered in through the gates. Our campsite in our now customary South Pines was slowly surrounded by soon-to-be friends and people took the first afternoon to explore The Sup’s newest offerings, my personal favourite being the newest food truck Gumbo Kitchen.

But come 4pm and the countdown clock hit zero. Although often mentioned as the younger brother of Tame Impala, Pond have a strong claim in their own right. Slightly less recognisable than the former, Pond were played a strong set on such a daunting stage. I felt they were slightly better than Tame Impala were later that night, but we’ll come to that. Fantastic Explosion of Time was a huge highlight for mine.

The remainder of the afternoon was for bonding. Meeting our new neighbours and the people who would be our whole lives for the next 48 hours. Eventually, though we were due in The Sup for the gorgeous Grimes. A highly anticipated set for many attendees, the Canadian did not disappoint. With dark hair and black mascara around her eyes, Grimes looked like a Panda, perhaps acceptable because of the Panda-monium (sorry) she caused. It was the first real party set of Meredith 2012. Oblivion was ended with a dubstep outro, as other Visions tracks Be A Body and Genesis got a great reaction from the crowd.

I was pretty excited for The Sunnyboys. This year they were playing the classic Aussie rock set, which has been filled by Icehouse and The Hoodoo gurus in recent years. Unfortunately, I did not particularly enjoy their set. While their music is still enjoyable, the band seemed very dated in their performance, which was not helped by the throng of youth that were descending on the stage for Tame Impala in a few hours.

Despite the unfamiliarity of a number of punters in the crowd, Spiritualized truly were the first mind-blowing set of the festival, and drew a number of boots into the air, mine included. The quickfire start of Hey Jane, was quickly settle any nerves, while Ladies & Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space was the most beautiful song of the whole festival. Tears where shed by many. 

By the time Tame Impala  hit the stage, the anticipation was too much. The group have most of the world at their feet at the moment, and to be gracing the Amphitheatre was quite an accomplishment by Aunty Meredith. IT was an interesting set though. As brilliant as their music is, I felt standing at the barrier the band sounded a bit off. After I repositioned myself, I enjoyed their set a lot more. Their was a pretty even spread for the reactions to various songs. Of course, Lonerism singles Elephant and Feels Like We Only Go Backwards garnered the biggest applause but I personally enjoyed their earlier work better. The 10-minute-long edition of early song Half Full Glass Of Wine to close the set showed their true range of psychedelic variation, while Solitude Is Bliss and Desire Be Desire Go reminded people that they have been making good music for years.

It’s usually at this point in the night where I retreat to the upper reaches of the The Sup for a well deserved rest and feed, but not this year. I’d only just found a spot to sit when I became entranced in the magic of Omar Souleyman. The Syrian wedding-singer-cum-dance-extravaganza put on one of the weirdest, yet infatuating sets of the weekend. Dressed in a turban with dark sunglasses, Omar spent his hour walking around stage, shouting in Arabic  clapping and generally raising the roof. It’s really hard to explain why this was enjoyable, especially without the use of any party-enhancing substances, but it was definitely worth it. The extra energy I’d consumed meant I missed Four Tet up next, but I don’t regret my actions.

I’ll to get the rest of the review up tomorrow.

Radiohead Review 17/11/12

I have never really understand the motivation of anyone apart from me to do anything.  However, the attendance of the Radiohead concert by people who plainly did not want to be there confused me more that usual. It seemed that the section in which I was able to procure tickets mere seconds after 9AM that fateful weekday so many months ago was the same section in which all the ‘grown-ups’ decided to sit.  Suffice to say rocking up minutes before the band took to the stage smelling suspicious and stumbling uncoordinated over their legs made the best impression on our neighbours.  The man in front of us had seemingly every camera filter app available on his iPhone which he used to take the same blurry photo of a darkened concert hall lit only at the front by a band of Oxfordians for two straight hours.  The corporate box behind us was more focussed on conversation and cheap Chardonnay than the cacophony of beauty , sound and light in front of us. 

The lowlight must have been the middle aged couple who sat next of us for the first 13 songs then abruptly got up and left as Paranoid Android began, never to return.  I was quite pleased to have the extra seats and am an advocate of people doing whatever the fuck they want, however $130 and a $7 boags down, I would have thought they could have stayed a bit longer.  

To wit, it is probably time I began to describe the concert rather than just those around me and their behaviour.  Radiohead is band I have been waiting to see for a very long time.  Needless to say I had a certain degree of expectation I had taken considerable effort to dampen.  So when I arrived I was it was with a weird sense of anti-climax.  

The beginning of the concert was very much dominated by tracks from the latest offering from the most critically respected band still together: The King of Limbs.  Mixamatosis, The Daily Mail and Bloom were all early highlights.  The importance of the audiovisual to the band was clear; every track had a different feel  thanks to moving hanging screens and ever-changing and colourful visuals.  The general admission area, saved for those with the tenacity to camp out in the bitter cold, or those who got lucky with their broadband connection.  They oscillated between heavily involved dancing and being gently mesmerized, often in the duration of the same song, such is Radiohead’s casual approach to time-signature.  

Kid A and Weird Fishies/Arpeggi were some of my favourite tracks, both hauntingly disturbing, Thom’s soaring and wilting vocals filling the stadium with the waves of emotion and sensation.  A new song Full Stop was catchy but but with the way Radiohead had been leaking tracks from their King of Limbs sessions, it was unsurprising they were able to pull out another new track.  Following the always brilliant and thoroughly crowd-pleasing Paranoid Android the upbeat Body Snatchers finished the first half of the set on a hectic drum-rattling, guitar screeching high.  

Thom returned alone and began to gently strum the opening notes of Exit Music For a Film,  Almost whispering to the audience, he implored “breath, keep breathing.”  Seeing this was something special, as this song had only been played a handful of times throughout the entire world tour.  The special significance was appreciated by the captive audience who began to howl and heave their bodies as the song crescendoed with the return of the rest of the band and a manic display of guitar, synths and drums.

Thom Yorke introduced Planet Telex by saying ‘This is a wisened old song’  it is sometimes difficult to remember that the band put out their first studio album nearly 20 years ago.  That they have managed to not only keep up with shifting musical styles but to consistently set the standard of progressive music is a testament to their sheer talent as a group.  Needless to say the rendition of Telex sounded as well structured and prescient as always, reminding me again why I’ve loved this band for so many years.

Ending the second half of the set were the electronic stylings and synthisized reverberations of Idoteque; illustrating Radiohead’s ability to play two songs and completely different ends of the spectrum and maintain the audience’s complete adoration. Thom’s whimpered plea “Take the money and run” echoed in my head long after the band had left the stage.

The final encore was brilliant: the soft and subtle Give up the Ghost led perfectly into Reckoner, a long time crowd favourite from the adored and often under-rated In Rainbows. To end a deceptive tune on the piano introduced Everything in its Right Place which immediately had the crowd standing, and they weren’t able to find their seats again until long after the house lights had come on.

It was a rock and roll show without the crass arrogance, it was an indie gig without the pretense  it was overwhelming and enveloping at the same time, involving the audience but still demonstrating the band’s brilliant and uncompromised creativity. I will admit it is difficult to justly review the gig from an unbiased standpoint and I have not.  Such is the standing of Radiohead.  

The Hives @ Grona Lund Stockholm 21/9

I’ve written this review on my iPhone on a train between Stockholm and Copenhagen so I apologies for any spelling or grammatical errors.
“They say the definition of madness is doing the same thing but expecting a different result.” If this is true then I must be insane. We’d seen The Hives back at a Falls Festival sideshow in 2008, and twice last year at Splendour in the Grass an their Melbourne sideshow. On our current European adventure, we ventured to Sweden with the main attraction being The Hives. And although I’d seen them three times previous, I did not expect the same result.
Grona Lund is an amusement park in Stockholm. throughout the Swedish summer, they have been hostin gigs on a smallish stage in the centre of the park. The likes of Opeth, LMFAO and Iggy and the Stooges had performed, but The Hives were the last act of the summer.
A slightly different preparation for us, involving sneakily taken Jaeger shots in our Alcohol-free hostel before an hour-long walk to he venue. Being backpackers, we didn’t want to pay for public transport and Stockholm’s pretty small anyway. Unfortunately, it is autumn in Sweden so the whole night involved pouring rain. We were soaked through by the we got there.
When you add the cold, rain, Scandinavias hard rock history and The Huves together you know it’s going to be a fun night. Spending a fair bit of the mosh between a bloke with a huge blue mohawk and another with a studded leather jacket seemed suitable.
The set-list featured the majority of new album Lex Hives, opening with Come On, like they did last year. My Time Is coming was a early set highlight but the crowd really got going into classics Main Offender and Walk Idiot walk. A couple of girls had passed out by the fifth song, while circle pits were a common occurrence.
Even while Howlin’ Pelle spoke in his native Swedish, you can still follow his banter as the crowd loved the words of their local hero.
The encore included Hate To Say I Told You so, and single Go Right Ahead before they were joined onstage by some guy named Mike. I guessed he was some famous Swedish guitarists cause the crowd seem to love him. All I know is he wasn’t Lykke Li or in Abba.
Tick Tick Boom was the now customary set closer, and Pelle once again made the crowd sit in the puddles that had formed before the climactic finish.
I often seem to underestimate the hives, but I promise I will never do it gain after this gig was the best I’d seen them. The walk along soaking wet in the bitter cold was not much fun though.

The Vaccines – Come of Age

At this stage is hard to tell if The Vaccines are really just having a laugh at us all. With their debut album mercurially titled What Did You Expect From The Vaccines maybe they were making an ironic statement of sorts against the backdrop of online media hype. Anyway if you ask the question what did you expect from their second album you probably would have had a short list of maybe more complex songs that were longer than 2 minutes, perhaps a more evolved sound or at least something a bit different from their first album.

Unfortunately on all those counts The Vaccines haven’t changed much at all from their debut album. Indeed its all a bit samey. Maybe the songs are a bit longer but its hard to see any changes musically or otherwise in their approach.  The one redeeming feature of The Vaccines is that they have ridiculously catchy choruses but really we have heard all of this before and maybe the 1 year time span to spin out another album was a bit too short. It just feels like another slick production that doesn’t even seem like it’s trying. Maybe that’s what Young is going for that laconic quintessential British rock attitude of not caring about the audience and just making music for himself. That’s probably the most favourable interpretation that I can think of for this album which over promised and under delivered – not helped by the NME hype machine.

The Vaccines have fallen into that trap of second season syndrome, Come of Age is anything but.

 

Wild Nothing – Nocturne

I’ve been in that kind of mood listening to music like Youth Lagoon and Washed Out. So it’s probably no surprise that I am loving Wild Nothing’s new album Nocturne. It’s probably a bit early but this has definitely got to be up there for album of the year. Think Cut Copy’s Zonoscope but more subtle with a greater emphasis on guitar then synth. This album is a wonderful continuation of their earlier album Gemini and the subsequent EP Golden Haze it sounds a bit richer because of the greater incorporations of strings as diverging melody but it still has that Wild Nothing feel – the oh so sweet croning of Jack Tatum accompanied by catchy bass riffs.

For a dream pop group created in the college dorm rooms of Virginia, Wild Nothing have come along way. Tatum is still the sole songwriter but you can hear in this album the subtle intricacies that moving to a recording studio with the acclaimed producer Nicholas Vernhes (Deerhunter, Animal Collective) has had on the album. In particular the emphasis on arpeggio riffs I feel is something that has been brought in a bit of Deerhunter and the experimentation with sounds seems a bit like Animal Collective albeit in a less abstract way.

It’s interesting that Wild Nothing is again another example of how independent songwriters are staking their claim in the musical world. Although this time Tatum actually had a drummer rather than using programmed beats everything was conceived of by Tatum. This is probably a trend that has been exacerbated by the proliferation of home studio recording which is making everything that much more accessible. I think this makes Wild Nothing’s effort even more commendable and perhaps a bit of inspiration to us all really on the fact that you don’t really need that much fancy equipment to record some good tracks.

I highly recommend this album it’ll hook you after the first listen and even after a couple of repeats it still has moments that’ll surprise you.

Top Tracks: Shadow, Nocturne, Only Heather

No Jackets Hiatus

With Callum and Declan heading to Europe for the next few months, No Jackets will be on a short hiatus until mid-November unless Chris wants to post something. We will try to update on any gigs we see (namely Radiohead in Paris and possibly Jack White, Elbow, Bat For Lashes, Bloc Party and Tame Impala) but it is unlikely that we will get much of a chance to write a detailed piece.

If you wish to follow our travels, jump on our travel blog Cal & Dec On Tour, or follow our personal twitter accounts (@cal_max13 and @declannn)

Second Hand Heart launch Trouble video

We get a lot of emails at No Jackets and I rarely get a chance to go through them all and write about new music, especially when the email comes direct from an artist. But for whatever reason, I felt compelled to pick out an email today. And I’m glad I did because Second Hand Heart‘s new video for their single Trouble is truly stunning.

The Melbourne-based group have been in the system for a few years but until I stumbled upon their twitter account (@SHHBand) the other week I hadn’t really given them much of a listen. They say their influences are the likes of Big Scary and Sarah Blasko, but it is hard to expressly  categorise them in one genre. The best thing to do is listen and decide for yourself. And if you don’t like this version, they’ve recorded one in French as well which is available on their Unearthed page and called Tu Me Perds

They’re actually playing at The Grace Darling tonight. Even though I was looking forward to a nice night at home watching the footy, this might change my mind.

They’ll be having an official Film Clip launch at The Empress on the 8th September

Velociraptor – The World Warriors

Party starters and general bad-asses Velociraptor will are about to release their mini-Lp The World Warriors. Originally starting as a three piece ensemble starring DZ Deathrays, the group has expanded to a 12-piece known for their infectious singles and energetic live shows.

But yeah man, The World Warriors features hit singles Cynthia and Riot that have been getting radio play through Triple J and are a testament to the pop rock style that Velociraptor are trying to distinguish themselves in. In particular, Cynthia has been running through my head for about 6 months, which is why I used the word infectious above. If you haven’t heard these songs though, you just haven’t been trying hard enough. The rest of The World Warriors is a bit of a mix. Surf City Raptors sounds almost Beach Boys-like and lead singer Jeremy Neale puts his personal touch on The Walk On By. We’ve posted some of his solo work on our twitter account, but he’s just an insanely talented musician.

The World Warriors Mini-LP will be released through Create Control on September 7.

 

 

Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – Mature Themes

Ariel Pink has had a cult following for a while now. Mature Themes marks his ninth album, but importantly only his second with Haunted Graffiti. You see, Pink is an enigma. His first seven LPs were produced more or less in isolation, recording in his home and for 8 years he went about his business gradually collecting fans. In 2010, he signed to 4AD and called upon a band, forming Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti. 2010’s Before Today received rave reviews, as Pink moved to a more polished sound and Mature Themes continues this notion.

In some ways, Mature Themes is an apt title, as the album has a far more mature sound than his earlier work. Of course, this must be taken with a grain of salt as Pink maintains his quirkiness. While there is a number of great pop tunes, it wouldn’t be an Ariel Pink album without a song about Schnitzel or Nymphomaniacs. Only In My Dreams has the former covered as an unmistakable love song. The jingle-like guitar riff at the beginning masks the generally sadistic mood of the song. The socially awkward narrator of the song imagines this fantasy world were he can be with his dream girl. But while there are these sociopathic tendencies throughout the track, it is easy to just get taken away in the catchy guitar jangle that makes this a perfect pop song.

Sticking in the pop mood comes the title track Mature Themes. Sticking with a similar recipe from Only In My Dreams, Mature Themes has a similar synthesised guitar riff, with further synth parts setting the mood throughout the verses. It seems the narrator is the opposite from that in Only In My Dreams, as this one is more confident, rather seeking to please his girl, rather than simply idolising her.

The third ‘normal’ track on the album is a cover of Donnie and Joe Emerson’s song Baby and it is probably the least weird track on the album. It is a soulful arrangement that has Pink sounding like a young Marvin Gaye. It is possible that Pink takes this one more seriously because it is a cover and is required to work within a certain boundary, but it does not excite me as much as some other tracks on the album.

On to the more zany songs, Symphony of the Nymph uses Pink himself as a character with nymphomania. It’s of little surprise that Pink himself claims to be a ‘nympho.’ It suits him somewhat and it’s the sort of song that only he could pull off. Featuring a wide range of samples, includes various horse noises. The classic line ‘I don’t mean to burn any bridges, but I can’t get enough of those bitches’ is incredibly unsurprising for a person of Pink’s mental state. If it wasn’t for the strange topic covered in the song, you could draw comparisons to the likes of Pink Floyd or more succinctly, Hawkwind. The fact that Pink can write a song about Schnitzel and put it on an album is hilarious. Schnitzel Boogie  makes me question why he would order a schnitzel with lettuce, tomato and onion only. Obviously he isn’t a fan of the Parma.

It seems for this album, Pink has two ideas. First there’s the singles, the pop songs that are quite well crafted and deliver an ultimately emotional message. Secondly, the weird that he is used to. By entering into a studio to record this album, his reputation will be enhanced but he will continue to move further away from his zany past. But if this means more songs like Only in My Dreams and Mature Themes, I would be quite welcoming of that.