Archive for October, 2008

Luka Bloom - Bush Hall, 23 October, 2008

October 26th, 2008

I managed to catch Luka Bloom on stage at Bush Hall, Shepherds Bush last week for the start of his tour promoting his new record Eleven Songs. While I was looking forward to hearing some of his new stuff, as I’d enjoyed much of his early 90’s albums, I was looking forward to hearing some old stuff too… Sometimes, the words that come out of Luka Bloom’s mouth sound like a rolecall of cliche’s - but thats kinda the pure nature of his songwriting - its simple, and direct. His delivery is always so believable, they dont stick out, and you’d almost think he coined the phrases in the first place.

Luka is one of those people who has a true - dare I now use a cliche - lust for life, and a yearning to experience all the world has to offer, and his music reflects it - he sings of people and places from around the globe. In performance, too, he plays with energy and life, and its quite infectious - Even Bush Halls rather civilized audience were buzzing early on, and became more raucous as the night continued.

I had the strange experience of introducing Luka Bloom to an irish mate of mine back in Australia. Which, is odd not only for the fact that he hadn’t heard of him, but also because my friend was very much in the same kinda place as Luka Bloom, as someone who was a real traveller, and craved a good craic. He’s since found the love of his life, and they’ve recently married, back in Ireland. So, I’d like to dedicate ‘You Couldn’t Have Come at a Better Time’ to Steve and Caroline, and let them know we think of them still. Enjoy!

Photo (removed) from: http://flickr.com/photos/10938860@N03/2739883912/

Tracks:
Luka Bloom - Tribe.mp3
Luka Bloom - Dreams In America.mp3
Luka Bloom - Everyman.mp3
Luka Bloom - Couldnt Have Come At A Better Time.mp3

M83 - Scala, 22 October, 2008

October 26th, 2008

Photo by Adman JamjarM83 have lost it - or so my similarly music nerdy workmate seems to think. Of course, this theory is a subject of much conjecture at the office, but happily, having seen the live, I can totally refute it.

I suppose the debate actually starts with how you define M83. To pigeonhole them, you’d probably use words like ‘Shoegaze’, or ‘ambient’. Fortunately, their latest foray in music, the album ‘Saturday = Youth’, is not really either of these things. Perhaps this is why my colleague dislikes it. It diverges from M83’s roots, and expands into what could be considered mainstream, with more use of melody, and vocals than any of previous M83 records, resulting in quite a satisfying mixture of wholesome synthy-ness, pop, and rock. Without resorting to comparisons, or name dropping, I can really see the influence of the producers Ken Thomas (who produced the likes of Sigur Rós, and Cocteau Twins), and Ewan Pearson (Ladytron).

M83 where nothing short of epic tonight - all of these new aspects of M83 were evident, plus the old stuff my workmate yearns for. Their set was most of their new album, interspersed with their more cinematic instrumental tracks, but even the new stuff had the gradual build and climax of their more common to their old stuff. Their playing was so intense at times that it seemed like Anthony Gonzalez was almost making love to his keyboard. He really enjoys the music, and it really shows in both his composition and performance.

My workmates says ‘Kim and Jessie’ is the epitome of how M83 have changed, So without further-a-do - Stefan - ‘Kim and Jessie’. For you. enjoy :)

Tracks:
M83 - Moon Child.mp3
M83 - Kim and Jessie.mp3
M83 - Highway of Endless Dreams.mp3
M83 - Skin of the Night.mp3
M83 - We Own The Sky.mp3

Photo by Adman Jamjar - Check out his flickr page.

Sia - Shepherds Bush Empire, 9 October, 2008

October 13th, 2008

Sia, Shepherds Bush Empire, 9 October, 2008

I have a pre concert habit of listening to the artists latest album - sort of like a warmup, to get my ears back into the music prior to the show. This time around, I found myself struggling to get interested, and began wondering if I was actually going to enjoy the concert.

As the show started, apprehension gave way to suprise as I realized was was at least in for an interesting night - The lights went down, and Sia and band all walked on stage wearing black clothes and masks covered in multi-coloured flourescent paint, making each of them look like giant hand drawn stick figures, which looked quite spectacular as they moved around stage in the dark. And then Sia opened her mouth… and all concern floated away with her beautiful singing, as I remembered the reason I wanted to see her in concert.

You see, I initially fell in love with Sia’s music through live recordings. She always sounded so vivacious, and organic with her music and singing, and her songs virtually sang themselves they were so catchy. But this is where it also ends - while her studio albums are great, and are indeed one representation of her music, they fall short in my eyes. I’m not saying its the music thats the issue here - what I really mean to say is: some artists are worth seeing live more than heard on a record. Call them true musicians, or whatever you like, these artists transcend their recordings when seen live - Heck, anyone can sound good in a studio - but live? now thats the truth of an artists music and vision laid bare.

Sia is fortunate to be one of the lucky few to rise above. Others I’d include in this small group include Jeff Buckley, Eva Cassidy, Bon Iver, Ani Difranco, The Waifs, John Butler, Missy Higgins, and Paul Kelly. (I’m sure there are also many others that I havent heard about yet) What I’m talking about is live music, performed in such a way that it simply takes you somewhere special - those goosebump kinda performances.

Not satisfied to just perform the audience (who seemed already very much in love with her), Sia had other party tricks to enhance the night - from bribing us by throwing out sweets, to 2 extra large balloons, filled with glitter both of which bounced endlessly up and around the venue. In one of the last tracks of the set, she slipped off her shoes, stepped back from her microphone, and danced around the stage with a total abandonment that we all secretly wish we could also do (if, only in our bedrooms when no ones home). But there she was, centre stage in a major london venue, watched by thousands, but dancing as if no one was watching. Its no wonder that everyone there seemed to be in love with her, as her live show really lived up to her music, and what I’d visualized about it in my head.

So, I must give Sia a hearty thanks for such a lovely show - for showing me that some people are happy being utterly themselves, and are loved for it, and for refreshing my memory about what live music should be like.

here are some tracks from the night:
Sia - Death by Chocolate.mp3
Sia - The Pageant of the Bizarre.mp3
Sia - Soon We’ll be Found.mp3
Sia - Breathe Me.mp3

… and here’s a flickr set by Preamble

Ladyhawke - Scala, 7 October, 2008

October 10th, 2008

photo by Simon Leak - http://flickr.com/photos/simonleak
Ladyhawke are the new retro-electro-80’s-pop (take your pick) sensation of the moment, and having tweaked my interest with their scorchingly good self titled debut album ‘Ladyhawke‘, I went to see them live with a few workmates. Pip walked out on stage a picture of retro, in a Homer Simpson tee 2 sizes too big, and rolled up at the sleeves. As the album is fairly heavy on the electronic side, I was quite suprised when I realized she had a full band with her. (unlike one man band Gotye, who I saw last week)

While the band played well together, the beginning of the set felt like it lacked abit of energy. This probably wasn’t helped by how shy Pip appeared to be, but I’m sure this is something that will improve as Ladyhawke get some touring experience behind them. Of course, after a few songs, they seemed to all warm into it and Pip relaxed abit, giving the crowd good reason to mosh out to a few of their better known tracks.

so! heres a few tracks to have a listen to, and dont forget - if you like it, go buy it, and see them live too! :

Ladyhawke - Dusk Til Dawn.mp3
Ladyhawke - Magic.mp3

Gotye - Bush Hall, 2 October, 2008

October 6th, 2008

photo by Tom Armitage - http://flickr.com/photos/infovore/

My recent hunting to satiate by thirst for aussie music lead me to discover Gotye’s new album ‘Like Drawing Blood‘. Yes, I know he’s Belgian born, but since he’s living in Australia now, he’s been hastily adopted as aussie (not unlike some other great music I can think of… Crowded House, and Benfolds). Needless to say, he’s done quite well there, with a large fanbase, alot of playtime on Triple J and Aria nominations.

So what’s all the fuss about? Well, his music is quite eclectic, and seems to draw influence from various interesting places to make quite a satisfying amalgum of sound. There are tracks like ‘Night Drive‘ which remind me of the textures and vocals of David Bridie, the use of strange samples in ‘The Only Thing I Know‘ and ‘The Only Way‘ are abit Vast like, ‘a Distinctive Sound’ has loops and editing very much in the vein of The Avalanches, and ‘Learnalilgivinanlovin‘ even sounds abit motowny… Then you see him live, and you realize that the drums, vocals, and melody - in fact the whole sound - is actually uniquely his.

I also tend to agree with another recent review I read of his last London performance - get the man a band! I understand he’s abit of a one man show, but you feel kind sorry for him watching him scurry around stage from vocal mic to vocal mic, or from drumkit to keys and back again. He obviously loves playing everything, but I’d love to have seen him with a drummer or perhaps a bass player to lighten the load and add some depth to the sound.

Over all I enjoyed the performance, surrounded by a rather noisy and somewhat unappreciative crowd, who seemed more interested in chatting than listening… This was the last part of his European tour, and he admitted he was feeling abit down after a strong start to his tour, but I’m sure he’ll be back to fine form once he gets back home… It still think it was good - have a listen and decide for yourself!

Here are a few tracks from the night:
Gotye - The Only Way.mp3