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Posts from the ‘Music’ Category

I wish I was the Moon

Neko Case. Blacklisted. What’s more’s there to say?

The Alabama Shakes

This four-track from new act The Alabama Shakes might just be the best US$4.00 you spend today. Listen to them in order or jump to the third if you want to head straight to the heart. Completely. Awesome.

Fitz and Dizzyspells

I love this guy.

The Curse

Much as I love some of the tracks on it I’m not sure Josh Ritter’s most recent album, So Runs The World Away, is my favourite (that honour probably goes to his 2007 album, The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter) but this video for ‘The Curse’ featuring the work of Royal City Band puppeteer Liam Hurley is a thing of beauty. There’s some info about the making of the video at NPR, otherwise just watch it.

A little music for the weekend …

Three songs from my teenage years, a reminder of just how beautiful Jimmy Barnes was and a link to a post I wrote about Don Watson Walker and his memoir, Shots, back in the days of yore. Try watching the clip for ‘Cheap Wine’ and not knowing that light and palette as Australian.

New Richmond Fontaine!

The new Richmond Fontaine album, The High Country (which interestingly seems to be a single narrative, thus further closing the gap between Willy Vlautin’s songs and his fiction) is due out in September, but in the meantime, live versions of two of the tracks have popped up, together with the news Willy’s first novel, The Motel Life, has just been turned into a motion picture directed by the Polsky Brothers and starring Stephen Dorff, Dakota Fanning and Kris Kristofferson.

Thanks to Jane Palfreyman for the heads-up.


The Ship Song Project

I’ll be back online later this week, but in the meantime, this video from the Sydney Opera House is compulsory viewing. Try not to get chills when Kev Carmody comes in.

Night Rider

I’m still deep in the hole of my edits (though I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel, which is a relief) so I’m not really able to keep things ticking over here, but in lieu of any actual content I thought I’d point you towards American Songwriter’s rather fabulous Country Way Sampler, which is available for free on Bandcamp. There’s an interesting mixture of artists represented, from Joe Pug to Matraca Berg to Caitlin Rose and Justin Townes Earle, but as usual with these things the real treats are the tracks by artists you don’t know, and to my mind the best of those is the improbably named Jonny Corndawg’s ‘Night Rider’.

Enjoy. And I’ll be back in a couple of weeks once my edits are finished.

Disco 2000

Thank God it’s Friday . . .


How do you do that? she asks, seated on the stairs to his loft, How do you know which notes to play without sheets?

Memory, he says, I do it by memory.

It is Boxing Day, and Anna has woken to the sound of the piano. Downstairs Seth seated before it, his fingers moving slowly across the keys.

What is it? I’ve never heard anything like it.

Seth smiles, his fingers continuing to pick out the notes in ones and twos, each separated by a gap, the space between them seeming as important as the notes themselves, the way they fade into it, leaving the memory of their resonance hanging. She shivers.

It doesn’t have a name, he says, An artificial intelligence composed it.

In front of her she can see the muscles in his back shift beneath his skin, the articulated cage of his ribs beneath them.

I have a recording of it, but I prefer to play it myself. There’s an alien quality to it, a sense of another way of being I can get closer to.

It sounds . . . sad. No, she corrects herself, listening to the strange, ghostly sound of the piano, the dying notes, not sad, something else I can’t quite describe, Like the sound of wind in grass or moving water, that quietness, that colourless feeling. She hesitates. Maybe I can’t find the words because there are no words.

It’s like trying to describe the sound of geometry, isn’t it? Can you imagine what it must be like to be conscious, aware, but without matter, without form? Without place. A ghost in a machine.

Anna shakes her head. But listening to the slow patterns of this music she can hear the loneliness of this thing of bits and light, this artificial mind shifting like the aurora through the circuits of some optical computer, like the siren call of a whale in the oceanic night, the long, clicking song that goes unanswered.

 From The Deep Field.

“I wish he was my boyfriend . . .”

Because it’s Sydney Writers’ Festival, it’s sunny and Sydney is just ridiculously beautiful . . .

Fleet Foxes, Blitzen Trapper and a whiff of Vetiver

I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s a little bit in love with the new Fleet Foxes album, Helplessness Blues, which combines the intense, often haunted imagery of contemporary folk with the weird, questing traditions of the mountain music so much of it draws upon, and then –so effortlessly it’s almost scary – manages to transcend both. I often worry about just how much contemporary folk is basically pastiche, and fairly reactionary pastiche at that, but Helplessness Blues certainly isn’t: it’s something strange and beautiful and entirely itself, and I can’t recommend it enough.

If you’re not familiar with Fleet Foxes, or not in a hurry to front up the dollars for Helplessness Blues, you might want to download their recent BBC 1 session, which is available for free via We All Want Someone To Shout For.

And while you’re downloading free recordings of live sets you might also want to check out Blitzen Trapper’s 2008 Daytrotter session, which features two of my favourite Blitzen Trapper Tracks, ‘Furr’ and ‘Not Your Lover’.

And finally, while poking around trying to find clips from Helplessness Blues I discovered Vetiver have a new album on the way in a few weeks. Given what a joy Tight Knit was, that’s definitely something to look forward to.

Racing in the Street

There are songs that give me chills every time I hear them. This is one of them.

Castaways, Menageries and Horses

Apologies for the extended break in transmission, which is attributable to too much travel, too much work and a week in bed with some kind of virus. Since I’m still trying to get the edits on Black Friday done and finish a story for a collection that will be out later this year, as well as trying to catch up on all the work that didn’t get done while I was away and sick, things might stay a little quiet around here for a few weeks. But I’ll definitely be getting a few things up, in particular a piece on Wayne Levin’s gorgeous new book, Akule, which I reread over the weekend, and is simply amazing.

In the meantime, you might want to check out my review of Carol Birch’s Jamrach’s Menagerie, which appeared in The Weekend Australian on Saturday. I have to confess to not having read Birch before, but there’s a lot to like in this one (not surprisingly it’s recently turned up on the longlist for this year’s Orange Prize), not least the way it manages to eschew the fairly prosaic mode of much historical fiction in favour of something much more vivid and particular. Spookily it’s also a riff on the wreck of the Whaleship Essex, a story I was complaining was following me around just the other day.

Further afield Faber have uploaded a terrific recording of Willy Vlautin reading a new story based on the characters from Lean on Pete, which comes complete with music by Richmond Fontaine. And if you’re looking for reading matter I can thoroughly recommend both Lauren Beukes’ Arthur C. Clarke Award shortlisted Zoo City (urban fantasy, set in South Africa, with gangsters, guns and muti), which is both very stylish and a lot of fun (you can read the first chapter online) and China Mieville’s new one, Embassytown, which is out soon (I’m reviewing it, so I can’t say much beyond it’s one of the best things I’ve read in quite a while). Again the first chapter is available online.

And finally, I know it’s been out for a while, but this track from The Duke and the King’s new one, Long Live the Duke and the King, still rocks my world.

Under Cover of Darkness

I am just unreasonably excited about this: