sjh - mountain biking running linux vegan geek spice - mtb / vegan / running / linux / canberra / cycling / etc

Steven Hanley hackergotchi picture Steven
Hanley

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Fri, 09 Dec 2011

Artists and analysing their music - 10:23
Mikal wondered if others had noticed how depressing the song Brick by Ben Folds Five is. Although I like Ben Folds Five, I can not say I had noticed this due to listening to the lyrics as a) I didn't really listen to the words so much, and b) I heard about the basis of this song to some extent before I gave the lyrics any thought. So I can say I know the lyrics are depressing, not that I had noticed.

I have not researched this to check my memory is correct, however Ben Folds has talked about this in interviews in the past. If my memory of these interviews is correct, the song was to some extent based on a harrowing experience he had when he was around 18-20. He and his partner at the time went through the process of having an abortion and all the emotions and the shit that happened around the event weighed heavily on him, this song is an outcome of the experiences surrounding that event.

However Ben Folds is to a large extent not alone among musical artists saying, on the whole, over analysing lyrics in his work is not what he intends or expects, many artists seem astounded by the amount of analysis that goes into lyrics they write, often according to them written simply for the rhyme, or to work with the song and containing no deeper meaning. The fans doing the analysis may of course argue the subconcious has other ideas, who knows.

[/leisure/music] link

Fri, 25 Feb 2011

The Waifs live - 11:59
I was able to go out and see The Waifs live show at the Canberra Theatre last night. They still play together really well, play off each others strengths well and seem to be enjoying their time on stage a lot which was great to see. The Audience of course really got into the few classic songs they played. The new album content was interesting, I think I will need to buy it and have a listen for a while to see if it grows on me (being released on March 4).

Vicki performed an awesome version of Sun, Dirt, Water with just her and the upright bass player on stage. Josh took the lead in some of the new material with a kind of gospel bent. Throughout the gig I thought Donna's voice often seemed to be overpowering the rest but it did not sound that strong during her songs. Still an excellent night of live music, such a shame we do not get to see them more often in Australia now (like we used to when they were at the national every year or other similar appearances). They celebrate the 20th anniversary of The Waifs next year which is pretty impressive just to think about.

[/leisure/music] link

Tue, 24 Nov 2009

Kate Miller-Heidke live in Canberra last week - 11:29
What with my love of female folk singers, and especially of Missy Higgins piano work and what my sister refers to as my predictable enjoyment of female pop sort of music I guess it comes as no surprise I am a huge fan of Kate Miller-Heidke. She started an Australian tour recently and one of the gigs was in Canberra. Last Tuesday night at the Hellenic club I managed to catch the gig with my sister and her partner. The support act was Washington, I enjoyed their music and thought it a fitting support act for this gig. The song How to Tame Lions was very good, and I agree with the lead singer if everyone at a gig had one of the face masks on it would be even cooler. Thought neither Jane or I listen to radio much currently we both recognised a few other songs sung by the group.

The main act was of course Kate Miller-Heidke and her band, they came on and got going on some really good renditions of her songs, she also tended to talk a fair bit between songs and had some good amusing stories and anecdotes. Such as telling about the recent US tour, where they played the Facebook song on college radio stations a lot. However due to the fact they are publicly funded you can not swear, so they had to be rid of the obvious swearing "fucking fucking kidding me" etc, however the next when she sings "narcissistic arsehole", at one station they had a list of banned words, and said you can not say "ass" (American spelling and pronunciation) so she asked can we say "arse" (Australian spelling and drawled out) and he said it is not on the list so sure go ahead.

As much as I love the music some of the lyrics have been hitting a bit close to home for me, even though it has been almost a year the whole facebook song reminds me I am still trying not to remember a lot of last year so as not to be depressed, and of course the line in "Space they cannot touch", "I just hope I am good enough to keep you" still preys on my mind a lot as I wasn't. Still so long as I do not dwell on such thoughts I had a good time there and was definitely impressed by the live performance. They work hard to choreograph their performance on stage with movements and dancing and have a lot of energy. When the amps were playing up for a while Kate and Keir played 4 songs with just an acoustic guitar and singing which was a great recovery for the equipment problems.

[/leisure/music] link

Fri, 16 Oct 2009

A new discovery, ninja music - 13:25
Last night I was reading AFP's second recent on the issue of artists making money in the Internet enabled world, something she refers to as Virtual Crowdsurfing, all that makes a lot of sense to me, however I happened to note her mentioning doing an online performance with a musician named Matthew Ebel.

Out of interest I followed the links and then looked up youtube to learn about him. One of the first youtube videos I stumbled upon was Everybody Needs a Ninja, which is awesome beyond words. Go watch it now, anyway I listened to some other stuff on youtube, however mostly on the strength of the Ninja song alone I bought copies (mp3 download and two physical copies, all from cdbaby) of his album Goodbye Planet Earth. Listening to it on rotation in my ipod today and it really is pretty awesome. Creative amusing lyrics, good piano and other instruments/effects. I had a bit of a listen to the samples of his older albums, however they are a bit more main stream and less amusing/clever seeming, though still good I was not in the mood to buy them.

[/leisure/music] link

Sun, 30 Aug 2009

Kate and Ruth at the Folkus - 23:29

Kate and Ruth(fullsize)
On Friday night after getting home from another day doing World Champs work at Mt Stromlo I had the rather enjoyable opportunity to see Kate and Ruth playing live at The Folkus Room. They do not often play in Canberra outside the folk festival and they really are a wonderful pair of performers. My housemate Matt who is also a fan of their work came along with me and we got to enjoy a spectacular evening of music.

Early on they played Cindy Cindy which was wonderful. Kate played a cover of the Joni Mitchell song A Case of You which was really amazing, what an evening. I thought it was a little disappointing how few people were there as they are popular in Canberra. Though an amusing aspect of this is that most of the people in the audience were close friends of theirs and both there mothers were (eventually) at the gig and they had played in groups with some of the audience members.

I have been taking photos while working out at Stromlo on the worlds, however have not had much time in front of a computer recently so have not had time to upload them and comment on them. It will happen at some point soon.

[/leisure/music] link

Mon, 02 Feb 2009

Ani Difranco back in Canberra, what a great gig - 22:22
I knew she had not toured Australia, and especially to Canberra for a while, however I just checked back through my email and I discovered it has indeed been 5 years since Ani was last here. I saw her in the Canberra Theatre back on February 28th 2004.

Today I was lucky enough to see Ani perform again, once more in the Canberra theatre. What a fantastic concert it was too. Her opening act was Mike Kelly from a group in Melbourne (I can not find any more information online). He had a good voice, looked some what Johnny Deppish and on was a good opening act.

I may be biased, heck I know I am, Ani is always fantastic to see live, tonight was no exception. She had her current backing band of Allison on drums, Todd on upright bass (and a miniature Piano tonight also) and Mike on percussion.

The set list was really good from my viewpoint, opening with Little Plastic Castle, also including later on two other songs from LPC (still my favourite Ani album) which were Gravel and Swan Dive. She closed the night with Both Hands which of course is the opening song on her first album (which she also used to close her last concert in Canberra back in 2004). She played a song celebrating the Barack Obama election which I had not heard but had a good vibe and showed how happy she seems to be to be rid of Shrub.

A number of songs from the latest album (Red Letter Year) worked really well, Present/Infant, Alla This, The Atom (which she stopped during without remembering the lyrics or something, which had some happy cheers and lots of support from the audience), Way Tight and Red Letter Year.

A few other songs were played, such as Names and Dates and Times from Puddle Dive, Shameless from Dilate, Evolve from Evolve, lag time and modulation (one of her two songs about forgiveness she claimed on stage, rather than her more normal song saying you fucked up to herself or someone else) from knuckle down, Swim from Educated Guess and You Had Time from Out of Range. Ani also was responding to the audience well, joking around, telling stories, interacting really well and impressing the heck out of us all. I almost wish I had done what I used to whenever she toured Australia and bought a ticket for the Sydney gig also. I just did not have the time to get up there tomorrow. This was however most excellent tonight. Also reminding me I have not spent enough time with the latest album to really get to know it as well as some of the older stuff.

One of the more amazing things about this concert was I had not been checking Ani's website every month or two like I used to, she had not toured Australia for so long I must have not kept it in mind. I had no idea she was touring until I opened my Christmas present from my sister Jane and found the concert tickets. Jane of course was worried thinking I had already purchased 18 tickets and was hell bent on being there. What a fantastic gift and most appreciated. Thanks Jane, surprising me with tickets to see my favourite artist performing here for the first time in 5 years, way to go.

[/leisure/music] link

Mon, 03 Nov 2008

Stonefest was fun - 15:28
As I mentioned, on Friday and Saturday I headed out to Stonefest at UC. The best acts I saw, IMO, were The Grates (wikipedia) and rather surprisingly for me (as I tend to dislike hip hop sort of stuff) TZU (wikipedia). Other good performances were Regurgitator (wikipedia) (they played a really good set of their music), Faker (wikipedia) (because their lead singer (Nathan?) is a really lively and charismatic performer) and of course what was really the headline act of the festival The Dandy Warhols (wikipedia) were good.

Patience had a lot of energy on stage during The Grates set, also she did some crowd surfing and seemed to be having a lot of fun. TZU had a really interesting feeling of energy and enjoyment about what they were doing. Also a rather cool sense of humour came through in their playing and lyrics I thought. Though I did not cotton on to the music played by Faker much I was amazed by the antics the lead singer got up to and it really made their set fun. The crowd was a bit rude on Friday night (no idea why, they seemed much better behaved by Saturday), so there were some unfortunate things that happened, such as some heavy object being thrown into Quan's head during the Regurgitator set, frankly I would not have blamed him for stopping and walking off stage when it happened as it seemed to knock him around pretty badly. I did see a number of other objects in the air, such as a shoe narrowly missing the Faker singer while he was up on a stage support pylon and a number of cans of drink thrown toward the bands or over the top of the stage.

However if I simply ignore the annoying incidents the festival was fun and you were able to get remarkably close to the front without being mauled much when compared to the squash that may be experienced at bigger festivals.

[/leisure/music] link

Tue, 14 Oct 2008

An excellent Mal Webb gig - 13:09
I have not been to the National Folk Festival for a rather long time now, largely because there almost always is some mtb or similar event on at Easter I tend to be somehow involved with. This may explain why I had never seen Mal Webb, or maybe he was there last time I was and I missed him. Anyway I was able to rectify my lack of knowledge about Mal Webb when I saw him at the Folkus room in Mawson on Friday night.

This man is an incredibly talented musician who also happens to be really funny and a fantastic performer, he also seems to understand use of sound and instruments better than almost any performer I can think of. The performance was a lot of fun, and seeing him use his repeat loop box, drum beats form his mouth, pygmy yodeling and a lot of sampling of sounds plus really funny lyrics was worth far more than the entry fee to see the gig of $15.

I ended up getting both the cds he had for sale at the gig, his new album "Dodgy" and his second album "3 Cheers for Peace and Quiet", I have had them both on repeat on my ipod yesterday and today. (I was working out at the 24 hour mtb race at Stromlo all weekend so could not listen to them there). Anyway I have to highly recommend all of his music, and suggest trying to catch him if he plays near you. My favourite song by far is "Your One Drop" though I am sure that will chop and change as I listen to his stuff more. Anyway you can hear that song on Mal's Myspace page. While you are there listen to Carrot, URFES and anything else you can too.

I suppose you could almost expect me to love this music, after all as they quote on his website, Ani Difranco's assessment of Mal is "You're a freak".

On a side note related to this performance, I have never been to the Folkus room before, so when we sat down I was looking around at the decorations and what do I see but a curtain with a large black and white photo of Robert Johnson on one of the curtains hung up in the venue. Earlier on Friday I had read/heard about Robert Johnson for the first time reading an article in Vanity Fair about a potential 3rd photo of him that has now been seen publicly.

[/leisure/music] link

Wed, 28 May 2008

The Donnas live (oh and some Melbourne Bands) - 18:58
Last night at the ANU Bar The Donnas played as support for Kisschasy, the first support act of the night was The Getaway Plan. As you may already be able to tell, I like The Donnas, they put together some great modern catchy rock tunes. The Donnas set really did rock out the venue in my opinion, however The Getaway Plan were a bit heavy and a bit grungy sounding and not something I would listen to more of. The same sort of applies to Kisschasy, I had not knowingly listened to them until last night. After the gig was over I realised I have heard some of their songs on JJJ and around the place.

Still it was a reasonably good evening out and it is healthy for me to expand my music horizons from time to time. On an entertainment note I am however looking forward to next Tuesday night a lot more, I am going to see Keating the Musical, which should be highly entertaining and a lot of fun.

The worst thing about the entire evening was how late it ran and how slow things moved between sets. In the past I have been to gigs in Sydney and other places where the doors open at a given time, I thought I could leave it a little while and still see the first act. This has caught me out some times, and I have missed half sets or entire sets a few times. Thus with the tickets saying the doors opened at 7pm, I was worried last night we would miss something when we rocked up at 7:40pm. This did not happen, instead they had us all outside in the thick cigarette smoke (alas people are still allowed to smoke outside in crowds) until the line started moving a little bit at 8pm. The first act played at 8:30pm, finished by 9pm and then there was over half an hour of getting bored (or drunk in many cases there it seems) until The Donnas came on just before 9:40pm. There was another really long break between before Kisschasy also, we ended up going over and sitting down near the pool tables while we waited.

[/leisure/music] link

Tue, 06 May 2008

Fun music - 12:59
I just wandered down to the pickle to grab a coffee, they have recently installed a flat panel tv screen on the wall and keep it playing channel v music videos. (though we offered them a purple pickle peddlers slide show, they did not want it, no idea why <g>). Anyway the song playing when I walked in was the Foo Fighters, Learn To Fly which I think on top of being a catchy tune is a hilarious video clip. Seeing Dave do all the different characters and the others also in there with the humorous somewhat cliched (think Airplane movies) movements and story line. Lots of fun that clip.

This of course reminded me of another highly entertaining Foo Fighters clip, their Footos (Mentos style) Candy that appeared in the Big Me music video was also a highly amusing romp to a good tune. Speaking of the Foo Fighters, Danielle and Ben went to their concert in Sydney on Friday night. Both said it was a very good gig, it sounds like the audience got their moneys worth as they played a two and half hour set. Speaking of amusing video clips, I still wish I could remember the name of the Cruel Sea clip from around 1999 in which Tex Perkins and the rest of them did a fantastic piss take of boy bands, wandering around in white linen suits singing in harmony.

[/leisure/music] link

Fri, 07 Mar 2008

YACOH (Yet Another Cover Of Hallelujah) analysis - 12:11
I feel the need to link to this analysis of some of the history of the song Hallelujah (from kottke1), the many recordings of the song and the rise of the song in popularity and how it has changed.

I adore this song (which means I am in agreement with a lot of people if the article is correct), though I have never seen the OC, I remember watching the west wing episode in season 3 when this played and thinking it worked well. It is interesting to see how the song people know tends to be the Jeff Buckley version, even though now days other covers are getting more notice. The section in the article that points to the longevity of this song best I think is

This is the beauty of the pop song: it's an artistic hooker with a heart of gold, always willing to be used. It can become a tool, but a song isn't a Matisse - if it's used as a washcloth, just wring it out and it's good as new. We may call something the "definitive version," but it's not, not really. It's just the temporary consensus, a beautiful beach house built always within reach of the next great flood. There's a blaze of light in every word, it doesn't matter which you heard, and every song contains a thousand possibilities - or, at least, the great ones do. Hallelujah's place in the pantheon was assured only by the song's mutability; were it not open to change, it would have remained an ignored album cut.

The many different verses available for use when covering, the different Hallelujahs you can interpret, these have made the song last so well and enter our collective conscious so deeply. I also like to see the commentary in the article and some of the comments about the musical structure of the song and how Buckley's cover in particular really used that well with the notes and chord structure. As I have previously mentioned, I really like the Clare Bowditch cover, oh and the KD Lang one.

Oh and Jane, if you are reading this post, I think you will really enjoy the analysis.

1: I found this and a few other links interesting on kottke today, which just proves it is a great site, even at times such as now when it is not really kottke (the status of which changes, obviously).

[/leisure/music] link

Tue, 06 Nov 2007

Another song that stops me like a brick wall - 16:57
Though the title references the lyrics of Asking Too Much I commented on a while back I am not talking about that song. Ani recently released a retrospective album containing a collection of her work spanning her career (The album is a double called "Canon"). As I already have all the songs on other albums you would think it may not be worth buying. However two things change this assumption, first I am a bit of an addict (of the 210 or so albums I own, 29 of them are Ani Difranco, more than 10%), however the main reason is there are some new recordings of some of her songs on each of the discs.

This is too much to resist for me, after all, the new version of Not A Pretty Girl on Girls Singing Night redefined that song for me. So when I had to get some stuff from the Righteous Babe store recently (some of the official bootlegs and another 32 Flavors t-shirt as Bruce's never arrived last year) I bought the album Canon.

What do you know, she did it again, not with all of the songs, but the new version of Napoleon is amazing. This however is a bit different to Not A Pretty Girl. I have always loved the song Napoleon, listening to the Dilate album this is a song I have often put on repeat, or while driving along in the car listening put the volume up stupidly loud and sung my voice off to. But oh my god this new version is incredible, it has a much more electronic rock sort of feel to it, it is a bigger feeling song, but whatever combination of things in it to change it has made it another amazing Ani experience.

[/leisure/music] link

Tue, 08 May 2007

A concert I have been waiting 12 years for - 12:19
On Saturday night my sister and I went and saw the Dave Matthews Band live at the Hordern pavilion in Sydney. I was hell keen as I have been an avid fan of them since I first heard Ants Marching way back in 1995. I guess you could say this is one gig I have been hanging out to go to ever since, strangely I did not hear that they were touring Australia in 2005, though they did. Thus my first chance was this year, I had not heard about this gig either until I was driving to a mountain bike race with a friend and she told me the gig was on and she was heading up to Sydney for it.

It was a fantastic performance, with classic DMB style, lots of solos from all the performers: Boyd Tinsley on Violin, reminiscent of a dreadlocked muppet in his on stage antics, look and style, but man can he jam on a violin, LeRoi, Stefan, Carter and the rest. (7 all up). The crowd was really enthusiastic and danced a lot which was fun. Interestingly the tour was not really very heavily promoted in Sydney and yet it still sold out, a lot of Americans were there to see the performance. This makes some fair amount of sense as DMB are huge in the US and have consistently been in the top 5 selling groups there for over 10 years now. It almost makes me wonder why they are not more popular here (the lack of Australian tours could have something to do with it).

Anyway it was one hell of a good performance and I would like to see them again sometime. It has also crossed one of my must see acts of the list of those I had not yet seen. I still really want to see the Counting Crows live one day though. I hope they can tour Australia sometime.

[/leisure/music] link

Mon, 30 Oct 2006

Interesting lyrics from another pianist. - 10:25
One of my house mates had a cd playing the other day with a really great sounding voice coming out of it. I asked who it was and was given a name I had not heard of, Regina Spektor who apparently is part of the Anti Folk scene (what ever the heck that means).

Regina has a really fascinating voice and ways of using her voice, bouncing around the spectrum a lot and really using it as a central instrument, then to the lyrics in a lot of her songs are fascinating. Full of jokes, literary references or just strange ideas and imagery. I guess I can see where the Anti Folk label may come from with the poking fun at herself and her music and many other targets.

Anyway I have to say I am hooked. I say "from another pianist" above largely due to th fact Missy Higgins is a pianist and good lyricist. As for the fun and interesting lyrics from Regina Spektor this is a good example:

And then i fill the sink to the top with bubbles of soap
And then i set all the bottle caps i own afloat
And it's the greatest voyage in the history of plastic
Music Box - Regina Spektor

[/leisure/music] link

Sat, 20 May 2006

Perceptions coloured by what we see and our preconceived notions - 17:47
So for a number of years now I have discounted the artist Pink as some music industry produced typically crap pop artist (maybe not as bad as Britney or Christina, but of a similar vein). I had done this simply because glancing at the occasional video clip of hers I had seen, she was a blonde, polished looking glitzy sort of current music artist.

I never really thought more of it until I read Danah Boyd's take on Pink back in April. With someone like Danah suggesting her lyrics were: smart, hard hitting, sensible, and "incredibly beautiful"; I thought it may be worth more thought than I had expended so far. I bought the new album last night and have been listening to it on repeat since getting home from the road ride this morning.

Danah was right, there are some absolutely amazing lyrics here, good sound on the whole with a lot of the music and I just saw the video clip for "Stupid Girls" on the Pink website and it really is a fantastic piss take of the typically crap produced pop artists I had previously passed Pink off as one of. Almost as much fun as the Cruel Sea Boy Band piss take (I can not remember the song title so can not link to it, anyone remember it?)

The wikipedia entry on Pink may give a hint on why she was so easy to pass off as produced crap, with the claim that she gave up a lot of creative control on her first album and other early work, which though popular she disliked what was happening at the time with her music.

[/leisure/music] link

Wed, 10 Aug 2005

More of that folk music stuff... - 17:40
I just got hold of 4 new albums, 3 by Lorna Bracewell and 1 by Deborah Smith.

Last week someone on one of the planets I read (Linux Australia, Debian or Gnome) mentioned a cdbaby sale, selling a lot of their stock at USD $5 per album. I have purchased music from cdbaby a few times in the past, all my Kathleen (Bird) York and Melissa Ferrick albums come from them. They retail many lesser known artists that would otherwise not have much of a presence in global retail chains or outlets.

So I wandered over to the site and browsed around for a while, listening to a bunch of the samples with some of the albums I decided on buying 3 Lorna Bracewell albums. "Don't Stop Now", "Little Miss Obvious" and "God Forbid". I also bought an album by Deborah Smith, "Stay Awake". So far I have listened to the Deborah Smith one once, last night, however most of the listening I have been doing has been to the three Lorna Bracewell albums.

The albums arrived yesterday, freedb did not recognise any of the albums, I have since attempted to submit freedb updates so hopefully that will be fixed soon. Last night and today at work I have had all three albums on repeat play.

So far I really like the sound of the first two albums, "Don't Stop Now" and "Little Miss Obvious", though as I start to get used to Lorna's singing style and am able to listen to the lyrics better I notice the lyrics on "God Forbid" are, unsurprisingly (it is a more recent album, with more experience behind it), better on the whole, though strangely the sound still does not appeal quite as much as that of the two earlier albums. An interesting sound and voice, I am definitely happy to have purchased these three albums, I suspect as usual this stuff will grow on me more over the next few months too.

Before looking around cdbaby last week I had never heard of either of these artists, it is always a good thing to find more music you enjoy.

[/leisure/music] link

Fri, 29 Jul 2005

A sentence, that stops me like a brick wall - 15:44
With the Ani random quotes in my email signatures I am often stopped by the brilliance of a quote on outgoing email, I definitely make the effort to read them when I send email because they are so good. Today I was stopped by how much I love this quote:

i want somebody who can hold my interest, hold it and never let it go
someone who can flatten me with a kiss, that hits like a fist
or a sentence, that stops me like a brick wall
   Asking Too Much - Not A Pretty Girl - Ani

Whoever/whatever Ani may have specifically been singing about here I can not help but think how true it is, friends who can make you think, those who do indeed say things that stop you like a brick wall are important and valuable. I love the imagery Ani uses at times like this.

Still on the subject of music, I have a compact flash based mp3 player which I listen to while riding some times. Most of the music on it is Ani, Missy Higgins, Jodi Martin, Dave Matthews Band, so on the whole folky/cruisy. As much as I love all this music it does not exactly get the blood pumping for high paced riding or anything like that. Often in mtb videos and such there is music that definitely would get you psyched for going faster.

I was listening to a Bare Naked Ladies album (Stunt) and a Mighty Mighty Bosstones album (Let's Face It) the other day at home and though both groups sound very different, both albums have a great feel for cycling especially if you are out for a hammer session, maybe I should load these up on the mp3 player and give them a go.

[/leisure/music] link

Fri, 17 Jun 2005

I no longer have to kill for Moses - 19:05
As previously mentioned I would love to get hold of a copy of the Missy Higgins cover of Moses by Patty Griffin, I have cause to celebrate as I have now got a copy. Last night while googling around for more information on this track I discovered Triple J have recently released an album, Like A Version, that contains this song.

The recording is from the live recording Triple J did, that I heard on the radio a while ago, the album as a whole is pretty good too, a collection of artists and groups performing covers of songs they really like. I still have never actually heard the original version of the song Moses by Patty Griffin, however I have a Melissa Ferrick cover of it on Valentine Heartache, and though Melissa does this well, I adore the Missy cover.

For the first few hours I had the one song on repeat play, eventually I decided I should listen to the rest of the album. On the whole the album is pretty neat. Jebediah singing "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head" is cool, Little Birdy with "These Boots Are Made For Walking" is fun, The Cat Empire doing "Hotel California" is interesting and definitely engaging. Though I have sort of become bored with listening to John Butler Trio in the last two years, their version of "Message In a Bottle" had me hooked somewhat. Clare Bowditch singing Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" is incredibly similar to Jeff Buckley covering the song and comes out well.

[/leisure/music] link

Wed, 15 Jun 2005

Light and fluffy salt - 16:27
On BoingBoing Sunday June 5th there was a link to some Nina Gordon music and to her website. I had a listen, clicked around and thought this sounds good. Nina was one of the lead singers and song writers of Veruca Salt. I quite like a lot of Veruca Salt music, though found it was a bit inconstant, some brilliant tracks, some I didn't like much at all (Nina is no longer a part of the group, they are however releasing another album soon, who knows how it will sound). Anyway Nina Gordon released an album in 2000 called "Tonight and the rest of my life", there were samples on her website of all the tracks on the album, that along with the sample suggested by BoingBoing interested me enough to get a copy of the album.

Looking around on Amazon I saw the album for sale on the Amazon used retail thing for USD $3.77, so that with a shipping cost of USD $5.49 meant I could get a copy of the album for about AUD $12, rightio then.

So the album arrived around lunch today and I have had it playing in my office since then. Initially (remember it often takes me weeks or a few months to really grow into an album) I like it, more consistent lyrics and sound than Veruca Salt I think, a bit fluffy (lyrically) in places, and definitely soft female vocal rock (Jane often accuses me of being an excessive fan of this style of music (Leonardo's Bride (Abby Dobson), Rebecca's Empire (Rebecca Barnard), Sleeper (Louise Werner), etc). Anyway I like it, lets see how it grows on me.

[/leisure/music] link

Wed, 13 Apr 2005

Missy Higgins first headline tour, Canberra gig - 23:48
Tonight I went and saw Missy Higgins and two support artists (Dave Macdonald and Serena Ryder) at the Canberra gig of her first headline Australian tour. I went with Prue, her friend Liz and Rob Parnell (long time friend of mine, who I rang this morning to see if he was keen as some other friend had dropped out)

I have been a huge fan of Missy Higgins ever since hearing her unearthed performance on Triple J 3 or 4 years ago. Until her self titled EP was released I was subsisting on the recording of "All for believing Triple" J had for download and the few real audio files of one or two other tracks. When the EP was released I was so excited I talked a friend at Triple J into getting me a copy a month before it was released, then I bought a copy as soon as I could anyway. Needless to say I am an avid fan and love the fact Missy is getting so much popular recognition in Australia (and the US too I should note).

Before going in to the seats I saw Chris, Kelly, Martin (BCG) and Mel. As I have no idea about music and BCG does I suggest reading what he writes about the gig if he does a review. I had a chat to them about the impending gig, how excited I was, what the hell I was doing slacking off from organising lca, etc. I forgot to thank Martin for getting me hooked on Jodi Martin, I am sure I will remember one day. I was telling Martin about a brilliant cover I had heard Missy perform on Triple J one day but could not remember the details. The song I heard covered was Patty Griffin's song Moses, I adored the Missy Higgins cover and would love to get hold of a copy somehow, it has not yet been released on any album so I can not buy it alas. Heck I would even like to hear the Patty Griffin version as I have not heard that (I have a Melissa Ferrick album with a cover of Moses which is why the lyrics were familiar)

I really should start talking about the gig I suppose, after all, sleep beckons. The opening support act was Dave Macdonald (spelling?), who I found unexciting. He was a very good guitarist, in his playing you could hear some really interesting techniques and combinations of ideas. He meshed his voice very well to his guitar music, however I found his voice completely uninspiring and uninteresting. Many of his tracks had a common sounding basic melody going, however he added some rather cool bits on top of it in different songs to differentiate. It sounded like he had some switch or similar on the guitar to change tuning or acoustics easily as it seemed to switch from a deep hollower sound to a higher pitched squeakier sound a few times. As for his voice, as I said it did not interest me, he had one lyric that really stood out in my mind which was great. "the junkies in the subways are the canaries of our souls" which has some good imagery and language use.

The second support act, Serena Ryder, can be summed up in one word I think. Brave. Serena opened with a vocal number that came off brilliantly, if the rest of her set had continued in that vein it would have been amazing. After this though she picked up a guitar and it started going downhill. For an artist with such an amazingly capable voice it was a shame she did not have the guitar skill or some other instrument with which to back it up. Especially following a guitar player as good as Dave Macdonald, Serena's lack of guitar ability shone through. Worse yet she had some tuning problems and eventually requested another guitar from backstage, seemingly one that was not her own. I was interested a fair bit in Serena's music mostly because of the capability of her voice as she used it in most of the tracks she played. If anything though she overused her voice, using it at times as some form of instrument with which to hit you over the head, going from quiet to loud within words of the lyrics for no real apparent reason.

This reminded me of an mp3 John Zigman told me about a few weeks ago, some friend of his had sent it to him, it starts of really quiet for a few minutes, so much so that you need to turn your speakers way up to hear anything. Then a few minutes in this voice says really loudly "stop looking at porn at work and spying on your co workers" or something along those lines, basically designed such that if played at work it will be heard by everyone on the floor due to having your speakers turned up so high. I am however probably going off on a tangent here, the comparison did however make me giggle. Speaking of amusing tangents, this is a good sig as used by Dave@

Never go off on tangents, which are lines that intersect a curve at only one point and were discovered by Euclid, who lived in the 6th century, which was an era dominated by the Goths, who lived in what we now know as Poland. - Nov. 1998 issue of Infosystems Executive.

I may however have become sidetracked once more, I liked Serena Ryder's voice, but agree with what Rob suggested,she really needs to go away and learn to play some instrument really really well in order to use it in support of her voice.

Most of us were of course there to see Missy Higgins perform, and I am glad to say she did not disappoint. Missy herself did a stunning job. Opening with a new (unreleased) song and then continuing with a fairly good range of tracks, almost half the material she performed was unreleased which I personally enjoy (woohoo new stuff). My favourite Missy Higgins song, Special Two, was performed last of the night and I enjoyed it, Scar was in there somewhere. Ten Days and Nightminds came across differently, as did a few of the others, which gets me to the part of the performance I struggled to get used to or enjoy. There was a largish backup band playing with Missy, some features of it were cool (as suggested by Missy herself) such as an Accordian. However there was a bit much backing music noise at times I thought. Somewhat drowning Missy and her wonderful piano playing out, or sometimes simply being too loud and solid for the song being performed. Part of my problem here I am sure is being unused to hearing some of those tracks with all the extra instruments, however I really would like to see the volume or noise level altered a bit.

This is Missy Higgins' first headline tour, and it appears she is handling it well, at times Missy did seem somewhat overwhelmed to be the headline act and on stage wowing so many people, however at the age of 21 I think she is handling this amazingly well. I look forward with much anticipation to seeing how Missy Higgins music develops over the coming years.

To conclude (for now) Missy Higgins rocked and fun was had.

Update: BCG has yet to put a review up, however Michael Neuling has mentioned the gig, and he reminded me of something else, Josh from The Waifs was playing guitar for Missy, which is pretty cool. I remember when Missy introduced the band and I thought, is that the same Josh Cunningham, I was too far away to see him clearly obviously it was (I guess there are not huge numbers of capable folk guitar players named Josh Cunningham in Australia so the odds were good anyway)

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Mon, 07 Mar 2005

Missing the point. - 11:42
This is not negative post, despite the title, this is about how incredible the Jodi Martin song by that name is. It can take a few months for an album to grow on me, and often even longer for a new artist. There are of course occasions when a particular song will just open up to me and I will fall in love with it however.

As an example of an album or an artist taking a while to mesh with me, lets use Ani Difranco. When I first started listening to Ani it was due to hearing some of the Little Plastic Castle album played on Triple J back in 1997 or so. I thought at the time that it sounded kind of neat, so bought the album, at first I did not listen to the album much. A few months later I put it back on and started playing it a fair bit more, not long after that I was hooked, something about the whimsy in some lyrics,the poetry in others, the amazing guitar work, the subject matter, whatever. This started my love of Ani Difranco music and lyrics, from then on I was hooked, however it definitely didn't happen immediately.

It still takes a month or two to get hooked on most new Ani albums (though I am, a year later, still not much of a fan of listening to Educated Guess), of course once in a while a song hooks me immediately, such as the new version of the song Not a Pretty Girl that was released on the live double album So Much Shouting, So Much Laughter, that song had me hooked almost from the first note, Ani, in my opinion nailed that song this time round. (before this I liked it enough on the Not A Pretty Girl album, but it was just another reasonably good Ani Difranco song).

I am sure I am no different to many people in how my music taste is caught, or how it evolves over time, enough talking about Ani for now though. I have mentioned Jodi Martin once or twice, I have her live album "Twenty One Stairs".

Now I am not a muso, so unlike BCG I am unable to comment on musical elements with any real knowledge of what I am talking about. (speaking of BCG, I remember one of the cool things about having him as a lecturer in a First Year Computer science subject was he would have Counting Crows, or Van Morrison or other good music pumping through the theatre before the lectures started while we all arrived) I will simply say what I think filtered through my listening capabilities.

After about two weeks, I have to say I like Jodi's music. It is not a simple guitar and singer folk music, there are elements of Reggae and of Blues in the sound she produces and the music. On the whole I think this album will continue to grow on me for a while yet. However one song suddenly hit me, knocking me over and leaving me most pleased to have purchased the album. Track 3 on the album, "Missing The Point" is pretty amazing, opening with solid beats from an Organ or similar, Jodi starts singing and this sounds like some sort of church choir, deep and rhythmic music similar to what you may remember hearing in movies such as Sister Act. The choir feel stays there throughout the song, largely due to the Organ and the rhythm to the lyrics at times. Jodi does however vary her voice and use of lyric delivery bit such that it stays interesting and forceful throughout. I was sitting in my office one night listening to the album about a week after getting it, and this track really did make me stop and listen. Magic stuff.

Update: thinking about it, I am often amused that the Ani album that hooked me was Little Plastic Castle, this is the album was the point at which, if you speak to many of the die hard fans from the early 90s, Ani Jumped the Shark, for so many early fans complained she no longer sounded the same and that they did not like the way her music was evolving. I just don't see the problem, sure it sounds different, but it is still incredible from a lyrics, guitar or simply listening perspective. Ahh well some people will not put up with change easily.

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Tue, 01 Feb 2005

Ani going for another Grammy? - 12:14

Front coverfull size

Backfull size

Sleeve offfull size

Lyric book/insidefull size
Ani's album Evolve won a grammy when it was released for "Best Recording Package". Basically for having a really cool jewel case and song book. It was of course not an actual Jewel case but something different.

The new album that was released 2 weeks ago, Knuckledown arrived in the mail early last week. I wonder if the rbr people are trying for another Grammy, well probably not trying, but who knows they may win it. I really like the new album case. The scribbles around the hand that move away when you slide the cardboard out, the different sort of song book inside, the look. All good.

As for the album, so far I like it alright, however I know from experience it usually takes at least a month of extensive listening to any new Ani album for it grow on me.

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Wed, 05 Jan 2005

One great song left, but oh so depressing - 15:02
For a change from listening to Ani, Dave Matthews Band, Missy Higgins, Counting Crows, Penguin Cafe Orchestra, Melissa Ferrick, Joni Mitchell and Leonardo's Bride all of which tend to be on my standard play list at work and home. I put some of my Pearl Jam albums (Vitalogy, Ten, Vs) on to play at home last night while rebuilding my road bike back wheel. I recall enjoying Pearl Jam a lot back around 1995, now however almost none of their music really excites me that much.

From listening to these albums again a lot of it, to me sounds too similar and I do not discern the lyrics well. The only song I really still love is Betterman from the Vitalogy album, I find this kind of freaky/scary due to the subject matter of the song. On a Pearl Jam performance that was televised about 8 years ago (MTV Unplugged or something, I remember Eddie did a Pro Choice (abortion) protest thing in the performance, which, when you consider how messed up the right wing religious anti abortion stuff in the US is is a good thing to encourage your fans with I reckon) before playing Betterman Eddie said "this is for the bastard who married my mama".

Listening to the lyrics of Betterman you can see how it is about abusive relationships and how some women are unable to get out of them. So although I adore the song and how it sounds, it is sort of depressing when you think about the subject matter. Admittedly I also sort of still like the songs Daughter and Rearviewmirror, both off the Vs album, these songs are about child abuse or child learning difficulties according to many interpretations, so yet more depressing subject matter. At least Rearviewmirror is possibly about escaping from those situations/difficulties.

Of course maybe I should just continue listening to the music and stop thinking so much about the meaning, almost the over analysis of which I accused some fans of engaging a while back. However all I really wanted to say was the only Pearl Jam song I still love is Betterman.

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Tue, 21 Dec 2004

Poetic Ani Sigs - 14:51
To further my point about Ani lyrics being an eminently readable form of poetry or similar, I should talk about my email signature.

From around 1996 until April 2002 my email signature was the same few lines of text

Look Up In The Sky
    Is it a bird?   No
        Is it a plane    No
            Is it a small blue banana?
Yes
Which was deliberately obscure and strange, anyway I finally got around to changing my signature in April 2002 to the following Ani Difranco quote.
You are subtle as a window pane standing in my view
but I will wait for it to rain so that I can see you
   Anticipate - Ani
Which is as you can see the opening of the song Anticipate, I love the quote, and I like the double meaning of the song title by saying "Anticipate Ani".

Not long after Sam (Reinhardt) returned to work in January 2003 after time off following the birth of Maxine (notice the Righteous Baby t-shirt <g>), Sam suggested she was bored with my signature and that I should change it. Obviously not realising my previous tendency to keep an email signature for many years. Anyway I gave it some thought at the time and decided one thing I could do is go through all of Ani's lyrics from all her albums and select at least one quote from each song or poem. Using this I could have random signatures generated from the selection of quotes.

The idea behind this was to show how good Ani's lyrics are due to the fact there is some good quotable snippet from every one of her numerous songs. Anyway I extracted the quotes (in a format that is pretty trivial to parse) and since then have not used them in my signature. I guess for now Sam will just have to put up with the fact my signature doesn't change much.

I did however I think prove the point of the exercise. Though there are a few songs I did not collect quotes from, generally due to them being too short, I did collect quotes from almost all of the approximately 180 songs released by Ani since 1990.

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Mikal is not over analysing. - 10:52
Yesterday I commented on the Ben Folds Five song Brick after seeing Mikal ask a question about how other people perceive the song. Mikal thought I may have been criticising him for over analysing the lyrics, I really wasn't. I mentioned I had not listened to the lyrics of Brick properly until after I heard Ben Folds talking about the song in interviews. I did also say some fans seem to over analyse songs, I don't think Mikal has, listening to lyrics and noticing what they are about is not the freaky analysis I was thinking of. I was thinking more of this sort of thing.

I agree with Mikal that the lyrics in songs are important and can be a form of poetry, heck this is something I constantly point out with Ani Difranco lyrics, they are a form of poetry and worth reading in their own right. I guess I was not so much commenting on Brick, or Mikal's interpretation so much on how some fans may take analysis well beyond what artists ever saw in their own music.

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