Friday, December 30, 2005

The Stems
(Bands from Perth, Australia)

The Stems

The Stems were considered by many to be the most seminal rock band of the 1980`s to emerge from Australia. They were formed in Perth in 1983 by Dom Mariani and Richard Lane, with a musical (and sartorial) style initially influenced by sixties garage punk and later by power pop.

Playing such local legendary (and now long-gone) venues as The Wizbah, The Old Melbourne and The Shenton Park Hotel on a regular basis, the group built up a substantial following in Perth.

In mid 1985 a trip to Sydney to meet up with their new label Citadel and to promote their first single Make You Mine b/w She’s A Monster was perfectly timed with the Sydney inner city scene rediscovering 60's music and fashion.

The Stems completed several Australian tours and were perhaps one of the first bands to gain national success while remaining in Perth, and despite never having toured internationally (until their reunion) they are held in high esteem in Europe and the US amongst fans of classic 1960's inspired rock 'n' roll.

The Stems released a total of 5 singles, an E.P. and a full length album, and set an impressive record with each release reaching No 1 on the Australian alternative charts. It was their debut album though, "At First Sight … Violets Are Blue" released in 1987 that received national and international critical acclaim and would be one of the best selling Australian albums of that year, despite the lack of commercial airplay in the corporate FM dominated 1980's. The album has been named in the top 100 Australian albums of all time by Rolling Stone magazine. The Stems also appeared on one of the last episodes of Countdown.

Unfortunately their success was short lived when at the height of their powers and on the eve of a 6 week European tour they mysteriously disbanded.

The Stems epitomised 80's indie rock and are one of only a handful of bands, including the Hoodoo Gurus (half of the original line-up of the Hoodoo Guru's also came from Perth) and The Sunnyboys that cracked the mainsteam Australian charts with an indie approach in the 1980's.

The Stems reunited for a tour in early 2003 and played a number of very well received gigs and they are still gigging today, including playing festivals such as Little Steven's Underground Garage Festival.

The Stems have a new album due in 2006.

Dom Mariani has also performed solo as well as in such acclaimed bands as The Someloves, DM3, Dom Mariani & the Majestic Kelp and The Stoneage Hearts, amongst others.

The Stems - Can't Forget That Girl [Original Demo]

The Stems - At First Sight

Watch the video for Tears Me In Two:-

The Stems - Tears Me In Two (Video)

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Something Old, Something New considers 2005

Arcade Fire - The Band of 2005 ?

I don’t agree with the concept of “scoring” bands, albums or songs as “best, second best …” or “number 1, number 2 …” like they are contestants or sporting teams.

But I do have favourites for the year that have particularly taken my attention or that I have enjoyed playing repeatedly.

So here are some of my current favourites for 2005.

As usual, don't forget to check out the artist's web sites for mp3s and the latest information on the bands.

Something Old, Something New’s 15 Favourite Albums of 2005 (listed in alphabetical order):-

Arcade Fire – Funeral (This brilliant album had a 2005 release in Australia!)

Beck – Guero

Bloc Party – Silent Alarm (both the original version and the remix version make this list)

dj BC – The Beastles (OK, I realise that this was released in 2004, but I only discovered it in 2005 and I have been playing it all year, so it makes my 2005 list!!)

Doves – Some Cities

Eels – Blinking Lights and Other Revelations

Elbow – Leaders Of The Free World

The Futureheads – The Futureheads

Gorillaz – Demon Days

The King Of France - The King Of France

LCD Soundsystem - LCD Soundsystem

The New Pornographers – Twin Cinema

Sigur Rós – Takk

Teenage Fanclub – Man-Made

Wolf Parade - Apologies To The Queen Mary

Special mention also goes to The Cure’s remastered first 4 albums with bonus unreleased, demo and live tracks.

Something Old, Something New’s 10 Favourite Live Musical Events of 2005 listed by chronoligical order:-

Tortoise @ The Zoo, Brisbane, Australia - January 2005

The Black Rider @ The Sydney Theatre, Sydney, Australia – January 2005

The Volcanics and M-16’s @ The Amplifier Bar, Perth, Australia - February 2005

Doves @ The Arena Brisbane, Australia - July 2005

Splendour In The Grass @ Byron Bay, Australia - July 2005

Sigur Rós @ The Tivoli, Brisbane, Australia - August 2005

The Special Beat @ The Waterloo, Brisbane, Australia - August 2005

San Francisco Electronic Music Festival @ the SomArts Cultural Center, San Francisco, USA – August 2005

Doveman, The Silent League, The King Of France, Alec Ounsworth & The Pelican Picnic @ The Mercury Lounge, New York, USA – August 2005

The Fabrique/Room 40 events (especially Tujiko Nuriko) @ The Powerhouse and other venues, Brisbane, Australia throughout 2005

Something Old, Something New’s 5 Favourite Music DVDs of 2005:-

Dig! - The Dandy Warhols & The Brian Jonestown Massacre

End of the Century - The Ramones

The Fearless Freaks - The Flaming Lips

Festival Express

Punk Attitude

And here are some favourite tracks from some of my favourite albums of 2005:-

The Beastles (dj BC) - Tripper Trouble

Bloc Party - Banquet

The New Pornographers - Twin Cinema

The King Of France - Mexico

Sigur Rós - Glosoli

Wolf Parade - Shine A Light

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Rolf Harris
(Bands from Perth, Australia)

The Seeds

I hope that everyone celebrated and survived Festivus.

Rolf Harris is an Australian icon, the boy from Basso (Bassendean is one of the older suburbs of Perth, located along the Swan River) grew up about 5 minutes from where my house is in Perth.

Rolf has lived in the UK since 1952 in which time he has forged a very successful career for himself as a musician, entertainer and artist, most recently having painted a rather controversial portrait of the Queen.

But I have memories growing up as a kid in Perth at christmas hearing "Six White Boomers" as well Rolf's version of "Rudolf The Red Nosed Reindeer".

I am aware of a cover version of "Six White Boomers" by the great Melbourne indie-pop outfit Bidston Moss on the 7" vinyl release 'A Very Steady Christmas', but I have been unable to track down a copy of this, so sadly I won't be posting something old and something new. If anyone has a copy of this track which they are happy to send my way, then I will be more than happy to include that cover version here also.

To celebrate the end of the festive season posts, and christmas day itself, and the start of my new theme, bands from my home town of Perth, I present this West Aussie Christmas Treat.

Rolf Harris - Six White Boomers

Sunday, December 18, 2005

The Ramones

Simpsons and Ramones

and now for something completely different, but still within the xmas theme, here's the video for The Ramones' Merry Christmas (I Dont Want To Fight Tonight)

make sure you check out the excellent Ramones documentary End Of The Century for a brutally honest depiction of the life of one of the bands (the band?!) responsible for the punk scene

also check out The Ramones web site to stream some mp3s

and if you like that, consider the ultimate Ramones box set, Weird Tales of the Ramones

The Ramones - Merry Christmas (I Dont Want To Fight Tonight)

Saturday, December 17, 2005

The King Of France

The King of France

I don't normally do these posts, but The King Of France were one of my favourite new bands of 2005, I was especially happy to just stumble across these guys at the Mercury Lounge in New York while on holidays earlier this year.

The King Of France consists of vocalist/guitarist Steve Salad and drummer Michael Azerrad (who literally wrote the book on indie rock, Our Band Could Be Your Life) plus an irregular, identity changing keyboard player. The guys are gearing up to take to the road in February with Nada Surf.

I think everyone should check these guys out if they like their indie pop quirky and their pretensions left at the door.

But don't take my word for it .... what do the critics say??

"More lovable with every listen … celebratory, instantly engaging"

"The King of France writes catchy, intelligent, highly melodic pop-rock songs with a strong and welcome dose of Midwestern angst"
The New Yorker

"With plink-plonking keyboards, vocals that waver between Leonard Cohen smooth and Jeff Mangum frantic, plus the occasional lap steel, this New York trio are such blithe troopers that they'll even whistle to win you over"
Spin Magazine

"In an age of overwhelmingly derivative rock music, the King of France is simply a great rock band, one that draws extensively and subtly on the great rock bands of the past without ever allowing the weight of history to overwhelm its singular vision"

So here are the The King Of France Tour Dates:-

Wed 2/8/06 Eight By Ten Baltimore MD
Thu 2/9/06 Starr Hill Music Hall Charlottesville VA
Fri 2/10/06 Cats Cradle Carrboro NC
Sat 2/11/06 Loft Atlanta GA
Sun 2/12/06 Exit / In Nashville TN
Tue 2/14/06 Blue Note Columbia MO
Wed 2/15/06 Granada Lawrence, KS
Fri 2/17/06 Trees Dallas TX
Sat 2/18/06 Emo’s Austin TX
Mon 2/20/06 Clubhouse Tempe Az
Tue 2/21/06 House of Blues San Diego CA
Wed 2/22/06 Henry Fonda Theater Los Angeles CA

Sadly they aren't coming to Australia, yet. So I'll just have to make do listening to their their debut album (that is if you don’t count the previous release “Salad Days” which is a selection of some of front man Steve Salad's pre-band recordings), “The King of France”.

And just in case you need more incentive to go see these guys, here are some mp3's

The King of France - White Confection

The King of France - Mexico

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Frank Black Francis

frank black francis

This months Mojo magazine CD celebrates the great American songbook and this month it even comes in two volumes, the first concentrating on the pioneers of American music and the second hilighting some of the performers who have emerged more recently.

Frank Black was known as Charles Thompson until he formed The Pixies in Boston in 1986 when he dropped out of college and convinced his friend and college roommate Joey Santiago to do the same. The two recruited bassist Kim Deal, who had been playing in a group called the Breeders with her twin sister Kelly, and drummer David Lovering. Thompson adopted the stage name Black Francis and the group named themselves the Pixies.

The band went on to release an EP "Come On Pilgrim" in 1987 and four albums; "Surfer Rosa" in 1988, "Doolittle" in 1989, "Bossanova" in 1990 and "Trompe Le Monde" in 1991 after which they split. The Pixies could reasonably be considered to be one of the most important american bands of the alternative music scene and were frequently stated as being hugely influential on numerous bands, most famously one Kurt Cobain. The Pixies reunited for a world tour in spring of 2004 and are still happily touring together.

After breaking up the Pixies in 1993, Black Francis emerged as Frank Black and has gone on to release a huge collection of ecletic solo albums.

Pixies leader Frank recorded his latest solo LP "Honeycomb" in Nashville with seasoned session musicians from Stax and Muscle Shoals studios. A sage nod to America's roots.

Frank Black - I Burn Today