Saturday, November 23, 2013

Music, Melbourne + Me

This afternoon I had the pleasure of checking out the Music, Melbourne + Me exhibition at the RMIT Gallery.  It not only celebrates 40 years of Mushroom Records but also the Melbourne music scene.  As an added bonus a group of us got a guided tour through the exhibition by Peter Green, who has worked with many Mushroom artists including Skyhooks, Split Enz and Crowded House.

As you enter the lobby you see the Pegasus horse from Kylie Minogue's Aphrodite tour.  The first room we went into had various concert posters on the wall along with a huge Skyhooks stage backdrop and a sculpture hanging in the middle of the room that had assorted videos and album covers projected on it.  Along with some old Crowded House and Split Enz posters was a wooden Crowded House burning building with wings sign, which is one of two in existence.

The next room was dedicated to the Melbourne music scene and lists every single music venue past and present on the walls.  There are posters and live photos from different local gigs throughout the years, including the SLAM rally sign.  Another room in the exhibition is dedicated to Michael Gudinski and Ian "Molly" Meldrum with a wall of gold records, some really rare memorabilia from both their collections and a replica desk so the room looks like Michael's office at Mushroom.

The best space in the exhibition though is the costume room, which has lots of great pieces from Kylie Minogue, Skyhooks, Split Enz and Crowded House.  It was such a privilege to see them up close, especially Nick Seymour's artwork on the Crowded House items.  My favorite was probably the iconic red jacket that Neil Finn wore on the cover of Crowded House's debut album.  The other really amazing item was the original album artwork for Conflicting Emotions by Split Enz, which was painted by Noel Crombie.  I had no idea it was such a big painting.

Overall it was a great tour and entertaining to hear all of Peter's stories around working with the artists and the history behind some of the pieces in the exhibition.  If you are in Melbourne check it out (especially if you are a Split Enz or Crowded House fan).  Music, Melbourne + Me runs until 22 February 2014 and it's free!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Gotye and the Night Noodle Market

Today I escaped work early and headed down to ACMI in Fed Square to meet up with Tash and Mary for the Gotye and His Collaborators event as part of Spectacle: The Music Video Exhibition and Melbourne Music Week.  It was a nearly hour and a half conversation with Wally De Backer (aka Gotye) and some of the people he has worked with on his videos hosted by film and music critic Megan Spencer.  After a short intro of the panel they discussed the ideas behind the videos done for songs off the album Making Mirrors and the processes they went through to make them, including some amusing behind the scenes "making of" clips.

First up was director Natasha Pincus of Starkraving Productions, who made the video for the worldwide smash hit "Somebody That I Used To Know."  She discussed the importance of giving your full attention to those first couple of listens of a song in order to get inspiration for a concept for the video.  Wally talked about his admiration for her previous work with Paul Kelly and Sarah Blasko and the emotive performances she gets from artists she works with.  The video was shot over a couple of very long days with Emma Hack doing all the body painting of both Wally and Kimbra.

Next up was Andrew Goldsmith from Oh Yeah Wow who did the video for "Easy Way Out."  He spoke about the 9 month process it took to make the video, which included building the sets and stop motion animation.  Wally felt he got off light in this video, only being on set for a total of four days compared to the rest of the crew.  His bits were recorded to the song being played at a quarter of the speed, which it gives it that jerky motion look.

The last of the collaborators were Ivan Dixon and Greg Sharp from the animation studio Rubber House.  They worked with Wally on the videos for "State Of The Art," "Don't Worry, We'll Be Watching You" and "Seven Hours With A Backseat Driver" off the album Like Drawing Blood.  Wally spoke about his love of animation and puppets stemming from a childhood watching cartoons and Sesame Street, as well as the freedoms you have due to the limitless story possibilities with animation.  Wally also really admired the amount of work that was put in considering some of the tight timelines he gave for these clips, which have been used as visuals for live shows as well as official videos.  Both Ivan and Greg talked about the constraints of animating a song within the parameters of what is requested.  They will often try to fit in traditional story arcs while at the same time trying to ensure they hit the beat at certain points in a song.

Overall it was quite an interesting conversation with the panel and very informative about the creative process behind making a music video.  All of them really enjoyed working with Wally and it has given them more exposure for their work and led to other projects over the last couple of years (especially with the success of "Somebody That I Used To Know").  Wally was asked about how he goes about picking people to do clips and most of the time he will have someone in mind for a song.  He has found that asking for pitches doesn't really give him the result he desires and he'll often end up approaching and asking someone to do the work instead.

After the event finished we headed out into the glorious sunshine and walked down to Alexandra Gardens to have dinner at the Night Noodle Markets, which is part of Good Food Month.  It seemed as though most of Melbourne had the same idea because the opening night was absolutely packed.  As we did a lap of the grounds to check out what was available all the various food booths had massively long lines.  Considering most of them were restaurants you would have been better off going to the place itself!  Not wanting to wait for over an hour for food that may run out by the time we got to the front, we headed back to the entrance where the food trucks were parked and lined up for Lil' Nom Noms who I have been wanting to try out.  I had the steamed pulled pork bao and lemongrass chicken bun cha, which were both very good.  The Night Noodle Markets runs nightly until the end of November, so check it out if the weather is nice (and hopefully the crowds will calm down a bit).

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Major Tom And The Atoms- Heroes, Villains, Boom Boom Boom! Album Launch

It was busier than normal on Brunswick Street last night as Mary and I drove around trying to find a park (we later realized it was because the Johnston Street Fiesta was on).  We finally made it to The Evelyn Hotel for Major Tom and The Atoms' album launch just as The Dyson Wyatt Polyamorous Tryst were finishing up their set.  The second act of the night was dixieland/jazz 8-piece band The Royal Jellies, who I really liked.  They were very impressive and reminded me of Squirrel Nut Zippers.  Featuring songs off their debut album Burrows St. Poolside, the highlights of their set were "Place In My Head," "Sweet Papa Joe & Maestro Julio" and "Shoot You Down."

It's been a long time coming but I'm so glad Major Tom and The Atoms have finally released their debut album Heroes, Villains, Boom Boom Boom!  Tom Hartney came out onto the stage in a black and white striped jacket and launched into "Merri Creek (Dead & Gone)."  They played the majority of the new album throughout the night and Tom added theatricality to the set with his costume changes.  He donned a red robe for "Confusion" and later changed into a plaid suit and hat for "Sherlock Holmes."  The band were on fire with "Boom Boom Boom," "Wishing Well," "Evil Angel" and "The House That Love Built," which had Sean playing the saxophone from the floor.  The band finished up the night with "Mockingbird" and had the whole crowd dancing and clapping along.

Here's the video for the first single off the album "Confusion," which was shot in Chinatown in Melbourne

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

New Music From Neil Finn

On 1 November Neil Finn did a webcast from his studio previewing some new songs from his upcoming solo album Dizzy Heights, as well as playing some old favorites such as "Private Universe" and "Kare Kare."  It was great to get a first listen of "Dizzy Heights," "Impressions" (which has a hint of the Finn Brothers' "Gentle Hum" in it), "White Lies and Alibis" and "In My Blood" complete with a nine piece string section.  This album should be amazing if the webcast is any indication.

Neil has also released a couple songs from Dizzy Heights to preview the album.  The first was a video for "Divebomber," a song which is proving to be a bit polarizing among fans.  I think it fits in alongside his work on the Rain soundtrack and Pajama Club.  Personally I love the cinematic quality of the video and song and find it quite evocative.  It was inspired by the 1941 Errol Flynn film of the same name and was shot by Neil on his recent holiday in Greece.

The second song, which he premiered this week, is "Flying In The Face Of Love" which sounds much more like a traditional Neil Finn song.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Melbourne Cup 2013

Photo: The Age
It's Spring Racing Carnival time again and today is the Emirates Melbourne Cup horse race.  The field was wide open this year but the favorite with the punters actually ended up being the winner- Fiorente, trained by Gai Waterhouse and ridden by jockey Damien Oliver.  Red Cadeaux came in second, with Mount Athos finishing in third place.  After all of Gai Waterhouse's years in racing this was her first Melbourne Cup win, and Fiorente made up for last year's second place finish.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Boy & Bear- 16 Days Under A Southern Sun Tour

It's been over a year since I last saw Boy & Bear play live.  Last night was the first show of their three night stand at The Forum in support of their latest album Harlequin DreamTash and I got there in time for the opening acts Dustin Tebbutt and Battleships, both from Sydney.  I really liked Battleships as they had a bit of a dark and industrial sound with hints of Interpol, and the drummer was an absolute machine.

Boy & Bear came onstage to the sound of ELO's "Evil Woman" before launching into their current single "Three Headed Woman."  The mix of songs throughout their hour and a half set was equal parts old and new.  It was great to hear "Rabbit Song" and "Mexican Mavis" off the first EP although I was a bit surprised quite a few people in the crowd didn't seem to know them.  "Lordy May" and "Big Man" off of Moonfire were lovely, and "Milk & Sticks" got a huge reaction from the sold out crowd.  The songs from the new album were also great and often included the backing of two violinists.  The stand out tracks for me were "Southern Sun," "Old Town Blues," "A Moment's Grace," "Back Down The Black" and "Real Estate."

The guys were grateful and appreciative of the Melbourne audiences that keep coming back to see them play.  There was also a running gag throughout the night about Killian's alter ego Neil Moon, named after his moon boot as he broke a toe right before the tour started.  "Harlequin Dream" featured a saxophone solo and the guys joked that it was a lot of pressure on the guy for those 20 seconds of work each night.  Dave warned the crowd about band's policy of not doing encores before launching into "Golden Jubilee" and the closing song "Feeding Line" which had everyone singing and dancing along.  It's always great to be able to see Boy & Bear live and watch as they become more popular each time they return to Melbourne.

Here's the video for the fabulous "Southern Sun"

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