Monday, January 09, 2006


Art of Fighting is just the most beautiful band. I listen to their 'Second Story' LP regularly. So soft and delicate and beautiful, and the lyrics are so senstiive. You can listen to songs (including Along The Run, some lyrics below) at their website:

"try not to feel let down
get filled up with the pouring rain
or the the wind with its awful sound
or the sun with its simple shame
you know i always will see your face
and i always will say your name
yeah i'll always remember you"

Sunday, January 08, 2006


'Sound As Ever', the first You Am I LP (though that is controversial, as there is an earlier two-EP compilation that many claim counts), was dedicated to the late Stephen Gray, better known as Goose, frontman for Sydney band Box The Jesuit (a nautical term for masturbation btw), a major influence and close friend of Tim Roger's who died of leukaemia in 1993 (while Sound As Ever was being recorded in Minnesota). He was also the inspiration behind the song Gray from Hi Fi Way.

This song on the subsequent LP is one of the most beautiful Tim Rogers songs. There is a lovely version by Tim Rogers and Wayne Connolly on the Underworld Medium Rare cd#1, a CD that came with issue #1 of Underworld Magazine in 1995. I can forward it to anyone who would like it.

GRAY - Hi Fi Way

Drunk at Cannon Falls
I never made the call
I had your number
It was chiselled on my hand and stained
Fell asleep to the line
Lyle sung "She's made up her mind"
Now I'm the twenty first descendant of the age and

I don't want it getting 'round town
'cause you'll kick my skinny ass if you ever saw me down
I can deny it 'til they all gone away
But I just don't think we'll ever get that other band together

Tried on all of your clothes
But even me and your girlfriend know
That there's only so much one guy
Can steal and so

We'll all choke on the slack
Try like hell to dream you back
Of the nothing I got
You know that you've always got half a soul

Thursday, December 29, 2005

best of 2005?

My album of the year...

Australian: She Will Have Her Way - Various artisits (an all-Australian/NZ female tribute to the Finn Brothers/Split Enz/Crowded House)
2nd: Holly Throsby, On Night.

International: Death Cab For Cutie, Plan
2nd: I'm Wide Awake It's Morning, Bright Eyes

Various Artist as #1? Who cares - it's a beautiful album.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

the last gorgeous gig

6th November at the Northcote Social Club in Melbourne.

It was the last Gorgeous ( gig in Melbourne (and second last all up - the final one will be in Brisbane some time). The reasons for the split are uncertain, though it seems that half of Gorgeous, Fi Claus, is returning to Brisbane, from Melbourne, where they originally hail from. Since Gorgeous arrived in Melbourne in 2003, their output slowed.

On the back of their first LP,'More', and the higly promising self-titled sophmore effort, they moved to Melbourne and released their third LP 'Twelve Plus One' (Thirteen is unlucky - and a Teenage Fanclub LP). 'Twelve Plus One' was a little disappointing after Gorgeous, and it was clear there was a divergence between the writing of Heeney and Claus emerging. Typically, the song writing responsilbities are split down the middle; tracks alternating Claus then Heeney then Claus then.. and so on.

Another challenge for the band, one that is arguable essential, was cracking Sydney. While Gorgeous played regularly in Brisbane, Melbourne, and even Newcastle, and was receiving airplay on JJJ, they never really established themselves in Sydney, and rarely visited.

Yet in the last two years, only two releases surfaced; an EP 'Air Balloon' in 2004 and a single in 2005, 'Big Fit Heart'. Both contain the assertive vocal workings of Fi Claus, but Heeney's soft delicate acoustic efforts shine through (and she dominates the songwriting on those two final releases).

And so to the final show, six months after 'Big Fit Heart' was released. The set was restricted almost exclusively to tracks off the three most recent releases; indeed, when an early song was requested; they laughed and said they couldn't remember it! The early tracks were played a little faster than the album versions, but once the nerves associated with a final gig settled down, so to did their rhythm.

One of the delights of seeing Gorgeous live is the intimate, two way excahnge with the audience. No mindless banter; the girls will often pause to explain what a song is, or isn't, about. For example, 'Work Your Way Down' is not the ode to oral sex that one might assume from listening to the track.

Gorgeous played for two hours - the song that received he loudest cheer, and justly so, was the beautiful and delicate 'Glock Song' (from 'Gorgeous') - it is perhaps the that most perfectly merges the acoustic harmony of Emma Heeney with the moodiness of Claus' violin and glock. They hardly touched their back-catalogue, amounting the five releases, and a cover of 'Little Suicides' on JJJ's 'Like a Version' album.

Gorgeous are a band that deserved to be more popular than they were. They wrote the right songs, they did it from the heart, and they were unashamedly original. Their last gig conveyed a sadness. Both are going on to new things; Claus has formed a new band in Brisbane, and Heeney is launching (or rather, continuing) a solo career.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

new music

The trip cut another way: music I bought while in Australia:
(ok some were bought for me)

Clare Bowditch & The Feeding Set - What Was Left
Bernard Fanning - Tea & Sympathy
Pete Murray - See The Sun
Tex, Don and Charlie - All Is Forgiven
Jebediah - Anniversary EP
Paul Kelly - Live at the Continental and Esplanade
Eskimo Joe - Girl
The Welcome Mat - Gram
The Guild League - Inner North
Grinspoon - Best In Show
Happyland - Welcome to...
The Finn Brothers - Everyone is Here
Clare Bowditch etc., - Autumn Bone
Gorgeous - Big Fit Heart
Stoneage Cameos - Various Artists
John Butler Trio - Somethings Gotta Give (for the live Oceans track)
Tim Rogers and the Temperance Union - Ghost Songs/Dirty Ron

It makes me sad that THIS was never finished:
Top 100 Australian albums of the 90's, at the Australian Music Project

What was your #1 album of the 90's?

For me it was probably Hi Fi Way by You Am I, even though it was less sophisticated than Hourly Daily; I think it struck a strong chord with my own lack of sophistication, and awkward teenagerness. When Hourly Daily came alon, I was in a suburban cultural cringe mindset, and therefore it didn't immediately grab me.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

jbt in the dc

(Cross-posted in )

John Butler Trio played in DC last night; they were amazing. After he played 'Ocean' (one of the first pieces of music he busked with way back when), the crowd roared for a few minutes before it was quiet enough to start the next song. It would have been a standing ovation were the crowd not already standing. And it seems the US crowd has really gotten into them; they sang along to 'Peaches and Cream' and 'Zebra'.

Me? I just got really homesick.

Not great pics - but what the hell.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

The life of an expat

Spreading the word about music is an important aspect of being an Aussie in America. You Am I are well received - always the first band I tell people about. Others include Something For Kate and Jebediah.

In the US, Missy Higgins and John Butler Trio are getting good airplay, and when the new Wolfmother cd comes out, I expect that will be popular here too.

Another aspect is hearing new music... unfortunately I achieve this mostly by trusting the US site as i don't listen to the radio.

But the true challenge is keeping up with new Aussie music. Most new stuff I got into back home was found at gigs. So it's frustrating. There are a few Aussie bands touring - in fact this Thursday night I'll be seeing the John Butler Trio in DC. EXciting stuff indeed.

So how do I keep track of new music? There is a sad dearth of good alternative music news in Australia - we need a pitchforkmedia equivalent actually - but I don't have the time to do it! Not the internet experties.

I listen to JJJ steraming twice a week, which helps me keep track of some new music. I also check out the websites of my favourite bands for new releases... but clearly this doesnt generate 'new' music finds for me. It's really hard to do - in fact most new stuff comes from emails from friends raving about a band.

Monday, January 17, 2005

5 random songs from my iTunes, and what they remind me of (if anything). An experiment.

Yellow, Coldplay (Parachutes, 2000, British, - I listened to Parachutes a lot while falling for a girl named Annaleise, so this reminds me of her. I think it was the soaring hopefulness of the album that I possessed a certain affinity for at the time.

Thoughts of a Dying Atheist, Muse (Absolution, 2003, British, - I actually didn't know much of Muse till the 2004 Big Day Out. I was immediately impressed, and purcahsed their album. This particular song is most appropriate, as it describes the fear of a godless man. I used to play this loud in my walkman walking home late down the alleys of Glebe from Chemistry to home. I was finishing my thesis at the time (Jan-Mar) and wouldn't get home till 1-2 am each night. Even that late, the heat of the tar and walls could be felt on my cheeks.

I'm Affected, The Ramones (Anthology, American, - Probably the biggest mistake I made at the 1994 Big Day Out (yes, I'm old) was missing the Ramones (except for a little bit). I really only appreciated them after sitting at home on my own feeling sorry for myself and watching the 'Rock and Roll High School' movie on Foxtel and realising how heart-felt they were.

Pack Yr Suitcases, Custard (Wahooti Fandango, 1994, Brisbane, Australia, - Ah, the optimism of year 12. This snappy happy little track about heading to heaven for the weekend is so Australian, and was on very high rotation at JJJ that year. Custard (and their lead singer Dave McCormack) were experts at incorporating the larrikin into their lyrics - no high-brow attitude from them. Their music regularly accompanied my frenetic and long-running study sessions in my bedroom, getting ready for the HSC. The that time of heightened mental activity, the music was seared in my mind alongside the algebra. As the eldest of four kids in a small house, that radio was needed to swamp out the screams, yells and arguments. Now I always need some sort of music to work - it's almost autism. Custard are no longer with us, though Dave McCormack and the Polaroids have moments of Custard-like zany-ness.

A.D.D., Spiderbait (The Flight of Wally Funk, 2000, Finley, New South Wales, Australia, - I first saw Spiderbait between the Mark of Cain and Primus in the Sydney Uni Refectory at an all ages gig in February 1994. The room was chockers, and a weird drummer, a female bass player with hairy legs (catholic school boy remember) and and brilliant guitarist whipped the crowd into a frenzy - indeed they eclipsed Primus for many attendees that night. The belting drums, wall of fuzz, and (back then) faint touches of folk/country rhythm were new to us all. Walking along Parramatta Rd afterwards, Janet from the band drove by and asked us what we thought. We all enthused in unison, startling her slightly, and I remember going to HMV the next day and buying all (both) of their cds and lying on bed listening to them over and over. I've seen them many times since, and every album has proved good quality and popular. Their most recent album, Tonight Alright (2004) has brought them full circle musically, as they return to the rough and fuzzy rock of their first releases.

Heh. Note how excited I get when Australian music is the topic. I liked that experiment.

Sunday, October 31, 2004

Tim Rogers from You Am I, taken at the Gaelic Club, Sydney on Friday 29th October 2004.

Had a scratch only you could itch
underneath the Glebe Point Bridge
Purple Sneakers, You Am I (from Hi Fi Way)

Surely these are two of the most fantastic opening lines to a song. Purple Sneakers appeared on one of the (if not THE) best Australian rock albums of the 90s, Hi Fi Way by You Am I (; their second album (1994), following the remarkable Sound As Ever. Recorded at Geene Street Studios in New York, produced by Lee Ronaldo (Sonic Youth) and mixed by Ronaldo and Jon Auer (The Posies) following their support slot for Soundgarden ( across the US (after being ‘found’ by them at the Big Day Out), it hit the Australian music scene with a thump. It spawned the singles Cathy’s Clown, Jewels and Bullets, and aforementioned Purple Sneakers. The Sydney band sold out six shows at the Metro Theatre (Sydney) in a row – the only band to ever do so to date.

As a Juice magazine review said at the time:
The cause behind them is the near (just for the record, "Gray" is simply good) comprehensive brilliance in conception and execution of this album. Put simply, Hi Fi Way sets a new benchmark in Australian music. 5/5
The songs hark back to lead singer Tim Roger’s childhood, and dwell on the daily grind of life and growing up in Sydney. They rock, they strum, they strut, they take hold of the foot and make it tap, tap, tap. The track Applecross Wing Commander is about pretending to be an airplane as a 9 year old (in the Perth suburb Applecross), and the tracks She Digs Her, Minor Byrd and Punkarella are inspired by people around him. Purple Sneakers was released as a single in June 1995 and reached number 24 in the 1995 Triple J Hottest 100. The song was inspired by the school-yard taunts Tim suffered after he wore purple sneakers (a twelfth birthday present from his father) to school. It also touches on the over-use of drugs to keep inattentive children at bay.

The Glebe Point Bridge, permanently swung open to allow shipping to pass through.

But, as with many of the tracks, the lyrics capture the heart of the listener, and take them on a reminisce. The Glebe Point Bridge, now decommissioned, squats insignificantly below the huge ANZAC (Glebe Island Bridge) that feeds traffic from the west into the heart of Sydney. But before 1997, the little four-lane swing bridge was an archaic (and infuriating at peak hour) reminder of a time past, when Sydney was about cans of KB lager, Fords and Holdens, and when we could play cricket on the street in bare feet and ride our BMX bikes off into the distance.

Find this song on your music-swapping programme. Listen. Love it. Then buy it.

Purple Sneakers

Had a scratch only you could itch

Underneath the Glebe Point Bridge
And now every boy in a knitted vest
Has got some precedent
So we took a personality pill
And something red to swill
And now every fire has gone out
in every heart that wanted to kill
Let's call it a day

Every thought that once had a sound
We'll have to hide 'til no one is around
'cause there ain't no room in the city today
For explanations that you just can't say
Found out what shame can mean
In purple sneakers and grey jeans
And every walked to a school that once made sense
Sure felt like an accident
Let's call it a day

For every trouble you found
There's a drink to lose it and drown
But do you need somebody, to feel somebody?

Every day that once had a sound
We'll have to hide 'til no one is in town
I don't hate I just feel better
When no one else is around
So we'll take a personality pill
And something red to swill
And now every fire has gone out
in every heart that wanted to kill
Let's call it a day

For every trouble you found
There's a drink to lose it and drown
But do you need somebody, to feel somebody?

You can shave a million ways
To make damn sure that the twelve in you stays
But do you need somebody, to feel somebody?

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Why the name?

From little things big things grow.

This is true.

It’s not just a clever reference to my aspirations for this blog, it’s also the title of a beautiful song about a beautiful moment in Australian history. In this sense, it hybridises my hopes for this blog with music (the theme of the site) and politics (a passion of mine), which often impinges on (and sometimes appropriates) the lyrics of great songs.

As you’ll hear. Because this site will discuss songs, albums, gigs and music in general that I love and enjoy. What they mean. What I think they mean. What they mean to me. Where they fit into music. In general, this will be about alternative music, and in many cases, Australian. The main driver for establishing this site is that I’m moving to America and worry that I’ll lose touch with new Australian alternative music. I also associate things strongly with the music I’m listening to, and always have. So Sydney will be appearing a lot through the songs I tap about occasionally.

And so to the song. From little things big things grow (Comedy, 1995) performed by Paul Kelly, and co-written with indigenous musician Kev Carmody (with didgeridoo at the end performed by actor and personality Ernie Dingo). Paul Kelly ( put his mark on the Australian songwriting scene with the release of the classic Australian song From St Kilda to Kings Cross – a story of his travel from the gritty side of Melbourne to its partner in Sydney. He has had a string of hits in Australia since 1984 (Before Too Long, Dumb Things, Bradman, To Her Door), and is, in my opinion, a brilliant singer-songwriter and has the rare ability to capture the essence of that which is Australian. There is little romanticism though, he is honest and does not pretend that life is easy; he exposes the difficult underbelly of society (

The story-telling them runs strong through Kelly’s songs, and the lyrics to From little things big things grow ( are no exception.

But this story is special, and the guitar melodic.

Gather round people let me tell you're a story
An eight year long story of power and pride
British Lord Vestey and Vincent Lingiari
Were opposite men on opposite sides

Indeed they were. In 1966 (the year indigenous Australians were recognized as legal citizens, counted in the census, and allowed to vote for the first time) Vincent Lingiari led his tribe on a strike on a large cattle station in the Northern Territory, demanding pay, decent work conditions, and that the Gurindji tribe have their land returned. Over eight years, their struggle gained momentum and support through across Australia, and a cry for human rights through the Union movement.

In 1972 a Labor Government was elected in Australia and it was Prime Minister Gough Whitlam ( and

Eight years went by, eight long years of waiting
Till one day a tall stranger appeared in the land
And he came with lawyers and he came with great ceremony
And through Vincent's fingers poured a handful of sand

bringing the strike to an end and restoring ownership of the land to it's traditional owners. Gough Whitlam's words at the 1975 ceremony were "Vincent Lingiari, I solemnly hand to you these deeds as proof, in Australian law, that these lands belong to the Gurindji people and I put into your hands part of the earth itself as a sign that this land will be the possession of you and your children forever." Whitlam was a leader of rare vision and clarity, who changed the face of Australia for the ordinary person.

Paul Kelly will be visited again here for sure; much more needs to be discussed; albums and discographies plugged. That is for another time. For now, it is important to showcase the song behind the web address. A song about a man who decided enough was enough a paved the way for indigenous land claims in Australia, and the man who responded and gave them the first indication that Australians could care.

That was the story of Vincent Lingairri
But this is the story of something much more
How power and privilege cannot move a people
Who know where they stand and stand in the law

From little things big things grow
From little things big things grow
From little things big things grow
From little things big things grow

Monday, October 18, 2004