Sunday, August 31, 2014

Slow Dancer- Surrender Album Launch

To celebrate the release of his debut album Surrender, Slow Dancer (aka Simon Okely) did an album launch over the past two Sunday evenings at The Workers Club.  Last week the opening act was DXHeaven, featuring Nicholas Lam on vocals, keyboard and samples.  The group had an electronic/R&B sound to them which I enjoyed, and for one song they invited Eliza Lam and Simon on stage to play with them. Next up was Melbourne indie six piece band Ciggie Witch, which contains two-thirds of The Ocean Party (Zac, Lachlan and Liam) and sounds a bit similar but less polished than them.  Unfortunately they seem to be contributing to an annoying trend I've noticed at gigs over the past few months: having multiple people in a band on lead vocals when not all of them should be.  If you can't sing in tune, please spare the audience having to sit through it.

This week's show opened with Dr. Doctor, a four piece band featuring Eliza Lam on lead vocals. The songs were really driven by the groove of Eliza's bass lines, and it was good to see Rohan Sforcina out from behind the drum kit and playing guitar (an instrument he has only picked up in the last few months).  Next on stage was singer-songwriter JP Klipspringer (aka Jack Poulson).  He started solo on electric guitar and then invited his band on stage, playing songs from his recent EP as well as some new ones.

It's been a while since I last saw Slow Dancer play and I was excited to get to see him live again as I love Simon's guitar playing and the general chill vibes of his songs.  His set lists over the two Sundays included some of my favorites such as "Too Great," "We All Make Mistakes," "Home," "Leave It To Me" and "Cornerstone."  Simon invited many of his musician friends up throughout the evening to play with the band, which led to the funny comment "I'm collecting Lams and Woottons" as siblings took over the stage.  The final song for each night was a cover of Womack & Womack's "Teardrops."  Do yourself a favor and buy Surrender- I promise you won't be disappointed.

Here's the video for the latest single "Took The Floor Out" (which I think is a secret tribute to Body Balance):

Sunday, August 17, 2014

MIFF- Advanced Style

I've been a complete failure at attending the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) this year, only managing to catch a film on the last day of the festival.  However, it was one I was really interested in seeing- the documentary Advanced Style.  Based on Ari Seth Cohen's blog of the same name, it focuses on some of the stylish older women from New York City that he has photographed for his blog.  I found it interesting to learn about their backgrounds and how their personal style has developed and evolved over the years.  The film also challenges the notion that fashion is only for the very young.  These women have a wonderful spirit and are a true inspiration to live your life the way you want to no matter what your age.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Italian Masterpieces and New Gods

Only in Melbourne will you find a major art exhibition combined with local bands playing.  After a quick dinner from the Mr Burger food truck at Fed Square (and avoiding swooping seagulls as we tried to eat), Mary, Belinda and I headed down to the NGV for Friday Nights at Italian Masterpieces.  The exhibition features paintings and drawings of Italian art from the 16th - 18th centuries that were collected by Spain's Royal Court and are part of the Museo del Prado's collection in Madrid.  There are some beautiful paintings within the 7 rooms of the exhibition, and growing up Catholic was definitely an advantage to understanding what was portrayed as many of them contained religious imagery.  Italian Masterpieces closes on 31 August so try to check it out if you can.

Another fun exhibition currently on in Federation Court is Paola Pivi's You Started It... I Finish It which features eight life size polar bear sculptures in different poses covered in colorful feathers.  The playful bears definitely are a sight to behold, and I'm sure little kids would absolutely love them.

Of course we were excited to get the opportunity to see New Gods play in the wonderful acoustics of the Great Hall, which is why we chose to come this week.  The set started with their more introspective indie songs before segueing into the dance style music they've been creating as of late, which had people bopping along.  It will be interesting to see what musical direction they end up taking, with even Dom admitting it would be easier to just be an indie rock band.  They finished their hour long set with an impassioned version of "Eyes Of Love" off their debut album Beloved.  All in all it was a great night and another fun experience at the NGV.

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Greenline Grooves

The Thin Green Line Foundation is an amazing organisation that protects nature's protectors: the park rangers who are on the front line in the battle to protect animals from poachers.  Founded by Sean Willmore, the foundation provides rangers with essential anti-poaching equipment and training, as well as financial support to the widows and orphans of park rangers killed in the line of duty.  I would never have been able to see the number of animals I did on my African safari trip in Kenya and Tanzania last year if it were not for the conservation efforts of the rangers in the national parks.

Greenline Grooves has become a bit of an annual event to benefit the foundation and celebrate World Ranger Day.  All of the artists on the bill at the Melbourne Town Hall last night donated their time to perform.  First up was singer-songwriter Damian Howard on acoustic guitar, who's set was filled with country-tinged songs.  Next was Makana, a Hawaiian slack key guitarist who was amazing to watch play.  He joked that he was enjoying the cold Melbourne weather because it allowed him to wear layers.  He sang "The Ranger Song" which he wrote a day or two beforehand after hearing Sean speak about the foundation, as well as a cover of James Taylor's "Fire and Rain."  The last of the warm up acts was Melbourne roots/folk band Tinpan Orange, who played a lovely set of music.

Sean Willmore then came out onto the stage to speak about why we were there, inviting all the artists on the bill to stand behind him.  Tex Perkins told a story about how his mum had watched the Australian Story episode about Sean a couple weeks ago and was so impressed that she wrote a $200 check to the foundation, which Tex then presented to Sean.  Sean also spoke about the number of park rangers who have lost their lives this year and requested a moment of silence before a bagpiper came out to play.

After everyone exited the stage is was time for the main event- The Thin Green Line Ambassador All-Stars featuring Gotye, Tex Perkins, and Nicky Boomba (along with members of the Melbourne Ska Orchestra).  Each of them took turns singing songs from their own catalogues as the others joined in.  Mary and I were really there to see Gotye and Wally did not disappoint as he sang the beautiful "Hearts A Mess," "Learnalilgivinanlovin," which featured the Melbourne Ska Orchestra horn section and a dual drum solo by Nicky and Wally, and of course his worldwide smash hit "Somebody That I Used To Know" where he turned the mic toward the audience to sing Kimbra's verse of the song.

The set also contained some great covers.  Tex sang lead vocals on The Specials' "Ghost Town" and Blondie's "The Tide Is High," complete with an audience sing along.  Wally absolutely slayed it vocally with his versions of Paul McCartney's "Maybe I'm Amazed" while playing piano and The Beatles "Oh! Darling" while on drums (I think he may have been inspired by his recent recording session at Abbey Road with The Basics).  For the encore all the band members returned to the stage in animal onesies and they closed the night with Nicky singing lead vocals on Bob Marley's "Three Little Birds."  It was a pretty amazing evening and a very entertaining concert for such an excellent cause.

Here's the World Ranger Day message from HRH the Duke of Cambridge:
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