[REVIEW] HIATUS KAIYOTE @ 3RRR PERFORMANCE SPACE

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For those RRR subscribers who braved the sweltering heat for the cool of the Nicholson street performance space last Thursday, were sure treated with a sweet live-to-air show from Melbourne’s Hiatus Kaiyote. Introduced by soul connoisseur Chris Gill, the show kicked off with the shuffling beats of The World it Softly Lulls.

Rainbow Rhodes lead into the tight track Nakamara. The harmonies were electric in the small RRR space.The smaller and more active acoustics of the RRR space made magical moments within the set.

Nai Palm and back up singer Laura Christoforidis’s virbrato-rich harmonization on the lyric “sweet” in The World it Softly Lulls is such a epic moment in this track, and tonights rendition was full of pizaz.

Some new unreleased tracks closed up the on air segment to their set. Maybe they’ll be included on a possible album? I’m speculating here but fingers crossed the track Shoalin Monk Motherfunk makes the cut, purely for having a sick-as title.

Also the new track By Fire was promising, with the song working up to a strong mid-section with syncopated beats and Nai’s dexterous vocals.

The set continued off air with Ocelot, a track I missed the name off and, another newby Atari. Simon Mavin on the keys is also worth a mention, dropping the funky chords and swelling smooth runs, so clearly heard in tonights setting.

Hiatus Kaiyote’s debut EP ‘Tawk Tomahawk’ is on their bandcamp page. Its ten bucks; best value in town.

You can listen to Max Headroom’s soul special with Hiatus Kaiyote right here (select November 29th’s show)

 

[REVIEW] JORDIE LANE, THE PEARCH CREEK FAMILY JUG BAND & FLAP! @ THE TOFF IN TOWN

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The Australasian World Music Expo crew organized a killer lineup for their second last showcase concert. Three Melbourne acts all loosely linked as folk-esque artists under the all encompassing umbrella of world music, hit the stage of The Toff In Town.

The was a slight tinge of tension in the air, with many delegates from AWME in the crowd, bands were keen to impress. Although in regards to the order of the line-up, it must have been Opposite Day because it was the complete reverse of what it should have been.

Luckily I showed up early as FLAP! were on first. It’s the first time I’ve seen the band since they returned from touring Europe, and you can really tell they’ve grown from their travels. They hit the stage running with Tetris, Something More, and Billy Hunt; the song about a Kangaroo costumed convict. Eamon McNelis had the crowd in a frenzy, with his insane trumpet stylings and charmingly witty banter, uniting the room to flip out over FLAP.

Next up was Jordie Lane. His set was strong, well structured and glued together with long  tales of times abroad. At one point he even had the crowd screaming “Oh Jordie!”

Headlining act The Pearch Creek Family Jug Band were on around 9.30, and by now the audience had decreased significantly, with the back bar section practically empty. Their first song was not the best track to open their set, yet song after song the family band grew on me. The family connection is true it seems, except for their bassist maybe, and they well and truly play on this family link. But not in an Angus and Julia Stone way, less subtle and more jovially perhaps. More flapping ponytails, family anecdotes, and tap-dancing solos later their set came to an end and so did another great AWME.

[NEW MUSIC] BEN SOLLEE – ‘HALF-MADE MAN’

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Ben Sollee is an American singer, songwriter, political activist, and a classically trained cellist. Spending half his time touring around the states, with his cello strapped to a bike (that’s a push bike not the motor variety.) While the other half is spent dabbling in environmental and political activism, and being a doting father and family man.

I discovered his music by chance earlier in the year at Port Fairy Folk Festival. In my entire life I have never experienced the sensation that listening to Ben Sollee live conjures. I laughed, cried, danced and had goose bumps all in his one hour set. But it wasn’t just me, the entire room was a-buzz in amazement; the feeling is indescribable. This all sounds so corny, but its completely true.

Post-Port Fairy I was so deprived of Sollee’s music I found myself trawling the interwebs to find a speck of his live mastery. Solid gold was hit when I discovered some amazing human recorded the closing song from this life-changing  Port Fairy set.  Please do yourself a massive favor and watch the clip featuring the flawless Abigail Washburn and Krystal Warren by clicking here.

Since returning to the US, Sollee released Ben Sollee – live at The Grocery on HomeA gorgeous letter-pressed cover encases the CD that captures Sollee’s live brilliance. A few months later the born and bred Kentuckian released Half-made Man.

Half-made Man features a full band of guitars, percussion, violins, violas, harmonies and of course cello. Sollee’s other releases had the odd guitar, drum or fiddle part here and there, yet on Half-made Man the band remains a constant.  Its presence was strange to me at first, and something that I really didn’t expect to hear. The powerful rhythms from drummer Jordan Ellis, combined with guitar and fiddle riffs, muffle the sound of Sollee’s cello. Only when you listen closely can you hear the familiar cellos distance rich timbre. Yet after the second and third listening, the songs develop into a meaningful musical message. and the entire album comes together.

Perfectly mixed vocal harmonies between Sollee and Abigail Washburn on The Healer is a welcome addition. There are songs of love and forgiveness in Roam in the dark and Unfinished, while The Pursuit of Happiness reflects on the musicians touring lifeGet Off Your Knees is another standout track that has such a introspective lyric  and a kick-ass instrumental to finish.When he was more than a man/He was as he wished to be,’ are featured lyrics in The Maestro. This track has my favorite ending of the album, with entwining string harmonics, reminiscent of the beautiful sound of an orchestra tuning.

Unfortunately Half-mad Man is not available on Australian iTunes yet, but you can get yourself a tangible edition (CD, 12′ vinyl or both) from Ben’s website here.  If you’re lucky and they haven’t sold out yet, get yourself a ticket to his Northcote Social Club show on January 10th by pressing this here link.

[REVIEW] 24 HOURS IN LAPA @ MELBOURNE RECITAL CENTRE

I purchased tickets to 24 Hours in Lapa mainly for three reasons. One, I can’t get enough of Krystle Warren, secondly it was the most interesting show on the Melbourne Festival program, and thirdly, the name was kinda cool.

I went to the Melbourne Recital Center with a mind like a clean slate, and left feeling quite satisfied with my Melbourne Festival ticket gamble.

The piece began with projected text behind the orchestra, telling the plight of a young man on his thirtieth birthday. As the story goes, he was shot straight in the chest by a police officer for doing nothing illegal and was left to die on the streets of Lapa, Rio De Janeiro.

VCA graduate, co-composer and conductor Tamil Rogeon presented a musical gumbo of styles in the hour long performance. Forging elements of Latin samba rhythms, Western orchestral traditions, rap, electronics and synth vocal by the composer himself.

Featured musicians included vocalists Krystle Warren and Ryan Ritchie, Dan West on electronics, and Australian guitarist Doug de Vries. Warren and Ritchie’s part in this retelling seemed to represent the moral conscience of the characters in this ordeal. Warren’s deep, soulful and constantly flowing vocals were an excellent addition and a nice contrast to the jazzy, rap stylings of Ritchie.

In a way, having an open mind about this piece was a good thing, because even though some of the musical styles didn’t gel together very well, I felt it reflected the crazed hype of the 24 hours in a buzzing Brazilian city quite uniquely.

[REVIEW] JEN KNIGHT AND THE CAVALIERS @ THE JOHN CURTAIN HOTEL

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Sunday nights are notoriously ‘family roast nights’ in my house, but as the only vegetarian in the family, its always utterly disappointing. Last Sunday I wanted something fresh and new. So I grabbed a buddy and headed out for a dinner and a show. A bottle of cheap wine and 20 mushroom and vegetable steamed dumplings later, my friend and I headed north to the John Curtain Hotel.

Singer, songwriter and ukulele player Al Parkinson opened the evening. I was actually so bummed that I missed her set; dumplings took way longer than expected. We did however, arrive just in time to see The Teskey Brothers grace the stage.The long haired, skinny jean clad band of four have an pretty cool sound. Its kinda folk/blues one minute, then all out rock then next. Featuring killer electric guitar solos from Sam Teskey, jungle drum interludes, and lead singer, Josh Teskey’s mellow voice, its a winning combination.

The tunes they pumped out tonight were all quite lengthy, yet they weren’t tiring or repetitive. You sort of get caught up in their sound and become immersed in the song. Although it was challenge to actually hear the lyrics over their dominant instrumentation, I did buy their self titled album. Recorded back in 2010, it has clearer lyrics, and the band seems to have a more folk, blues inspired sound.

Front and center for headliners Jen Knight and the Cavaliers, was an energetic and beaming Jen Knight and her two harmonious backup singers. The girls three part harmonies, were tight most of the time, and when backed by the solid foundations of the Cavaliers, they present a high energy rock/soul set, full of fun, comedic banter and songs to dance too.

Their track ‘Sticks,’ which has been getting some love on triple j unearthed, was even more captivating live. Jen’s ability to deliver the emotional intensity of a song to her audience is ace, and it seems infectious amongst those who share her stage. Even branching out into some rap in ‘When the Music Stops,’ then pulling out the bluegrass-esque track, ‘Be With You’ didn’t diminish Jen Knight’s abilities.

I couldn’t think of a better way to spent my Sunday evening. An intimate little gig, good food, great company and a whole lotta good tunes. I think I’ve found my new Sunday tradition.

Get Jen Knight & The Cavaliers EP ‘Hunger’ here and make sure you check out Al Parkinson and The Teskey Brothers facebook pages while your at it.

 

[REVIEW] KRYSTLE WARREN @ NORTHCOTE SOCIAL CLUB

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Sprawled across the sticky carpet of the Northcote Social Club, the audience basked in the unbelievable sound of Daniel Champagne and his gaffer-taped guitar.

Daniel’s percussive, blues/folk style has a tinge of an ‘Aussie’ sound. Utilizing every bit of his instrument and body, Champagne taps, stomps and alters strings tuning to produce his unique sound.

His take on Willie Dixon’s, ‘Spoonful’ began the set. Leaving Champagne newbies (such as my companion for the evening) speechless. Lyrically his songs (penned by the man himself) are sweetly poetic (The Nightingale), nostalgic (Losing Home) and down to earth without being to ‘indie’.

If your familial with American Cellist Ben Sollee’s style, and match this with John Butler, you might being to get an idea of Champagnes sound. Better yet, buy his CD’s or witness him for yourself.Following Daniel’s four song set, Krystle Warren graced the stage. Dressed in a dam fine knitted vest, shirt and pants, Krystle seemed a little taken back by her reception in Melbourne town.

Technical difficulties are annoying for performer and punter. Yet can be made comedic banter, uniting the audience with each other and the performer. ‘Andy’ (aka the tech guy from NSC) probably received more attention at this gig than any before. That put aside, Krystle Warren proceeded her set completely un-miked until ‘this shit [was] sorted out.’

Playing through songs from her latest delivery, ‘Love Songs – A time you may embrace,’ and generally keeping us entertained with pub jokes and Andy related banter, it was just one big ol’ night of sharing the love really. The audience was lovin’ it, Krystle was lovin’ it, and deep down I’m sure Andy was feeling the love too.

Warren has the most inventive way to plug merch I’ve ever witnessed. A mystery envelope is given to an audience member (perhaps on entry). Then towards the end of the show, she asks them to come on stage, open up the letter, and read it line by line. Written as if it was a letter from them to her, asking do you have CD’s to sell, generally doting on her in general and ending with ‘the lion king is the shit’. Epically funny, avoids that annoying merch seg-way, and probably lifts sales too….bands take note.