Archive for August, 2011

August 20, 2011

Washed Out add some chill to the new wave

From Acid house to Math Rock there are a myriad of musical styles and genres, each and everyone invented by a journalist or blogger trying to create a new musical scene by vaguely connecting small threads of similarities between a selection of bands.

One of the latest genres to emerge, Chillwave, the titles seem to get increasingly half-baked, came out of the American summer of 2009 with Animal Collective’s, Noah Lennox’s side project, Panda Bear leading the way for synth heavy washes of chilled psychedelia. Many of the bands that followed, Neon Indian, Toro Y Moi and Memory Tapes mirrored a sound that owed as much to the late 80s & early 90s shoegaze movement as much as to Animal Collective’s own take on ambient, dreamy pop.

One of the main protagonists of the fledgling scene, Ernest Greene, under the moniker, Washed Out, has just released his debut LP, Within and Without. Encapsulating the blissed out sound perfectly while incorporating a bigger groove than many of his peers. A magnificent melange of Sigur ros, Cocteau Twins and the Orb. This is probably the finest example of Chillwave.

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August 12, 2011

Soundwave Revolution sounds death knell for the golden age of music festivals

When Michael Eavis announced the demise of his own Glastonbury Festival, in an English newspaper last month, many thought he’d jumped the gun, believing that his forecast was the ramblings of a man who had lost touch after 41 years in the business. With further poor sales and what seems like a festival going under every week maybe the 75-year-old will prove himself as the industry prophet after all?

Soundwave Revolution is the newest kid on the chopping block, cancelled due to the withdrawal of a major headliner.  But surely there is more to it than meets the eye?   Usually one headliner does not make a festival?  There are plenty of bands that would be itching to step up and fill the void.  Recent ticket sales of rival festivals suggest that lack of interest and low sales are probably closer to the mark.  This year’s Splendour in the Grass failed to sell out for the first time in its decade long history, while last year’s Big Day Out second day in Sydney offered 2 for 1 ticket sales and they still fell short of maximum sales.  Good Vibrations had such bad returns Justin Hemmes has decided to put the festival on ice until the end of next year.  In another new twist and more evidence of dwindling sales, Parklife announced today that they have exclusivity over all their acts, meaning there will be no sideshows from any of the main headline acts.  With less than two months until the festival opens its gates the announcement hints at sluggish sales and the anxiety to inject a USP into the marketing.

According to The Music Network there are over 55 registered mainstream music festivals in Australia, which actually doesn’t seem that many compared to a staggering 300+ in the UK.  So congestion and competition doesn’t seem to be a primary reason for such disinterest in the Australian festival season, not compared to the clogged up circuit in Britain.  Which means the root of the cause is the combined effect of high costs, large travel distances and festival fatigue.

August 1, 2011

Elbow delight Sydney Theatre

Elbow – Enmore Theatre, 29 July 2011

In the slightly ragged glory of Sydney’s Edwardian theatre there was a warm, homely glow emanating from the stage.  Often cited as ‘The People’s band’ in the UK, the five men from Manchester categorically proved this beyond reasonable doubt as well as confirming themselves as the most laid-back, professional and delightful bands covering the circuit.  Lead singer Guy Garvey, curator, raconteur, and master conductor – everyone’s favourite uncle or older brother, never put a foot wrong.  Backed by a band who have matured with a delicate balance of power and poise, the Enmore was putty in their hands.  Garvey is both humility and sensitivity personified, teasing the crowd with witty banter, ‘Can I call you Syd – are we on those terms yet?’, but never presuming anything.  The spatial and poignant, ‘Lippy Kids’ is punctured by excitedly mispitched crowd whistling towards the end, poorly mimicking Garvey’s own, to which he admonishes, ‘Proud whistlers you are Sydney’.  

Having recently become festival favourites, voted best band at this year’s Glastonbury, and regularly featuring high up the festival bills their sound has taken on a more stately and well-rounded dynamic.  Second song in – ‘The Bones of You’ rumbles and swells, while ‘Neat little Rows’ muscular blues riff, stomps.  This is a sound that’s been honed on the road of large arenas and festival crowds, for the small, intimate surrounds of Enmore it’s exhilarating.  Although they are just adept at adding lightness and nuance, including a mid-gig lull, where  Garvey gathered around Craig Potters piano delivers a stripped back and plaintive, ‘The River’.  For the following song, ‘Perfect Weather to Fly’, this hushed intimacy is repeated with full band, imagining old friends jamming fireside in the comfort of each others company.  It is this relaxed demeanor, at ease with themselves and with the world that radiates from the stage and gives bonhomie to all.

Inevitably they save their uplifting, life affirming anthems for last.  Full voiced and rousing, ‘Open Arms’ closes the main set while predictably, every brides and TV Execs favourite tune, ‘One day like this’ becomes the show-stopper to end all shows.  After that there’s know where to go but home, with a spring in the step of course.

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