April album reviews

Father John Misty – Pure Comedy

“The comedy of man starts like this / Our brains are way too big for our mothers’ hips / And so Nature, she divines this alternative / We emerged half-formed and hope that whoever greets us on the other end / Is kind enough to fill us in / And, babies, that’s pretty much how it’s been ever since”

33c

Father John Misty’s wit is endless and he’s tied a tonne of poignant humour with stirring musicality on third outing, Pure Comedy. There’s a swag of great lines on this album and it’s hard to pick a favourite. Tillman commentates on our woeful political state, God’s misjudgement, and our own selfish stupidity (I like ‘Ballad of a Dying Man’ lyric: “Eventually the dying man takes his final breath / But first checks his news feed to see what he’s ’bout to miss / And it occurs to him a little late in the game / We leave as clueless as we came”) throughout a series of well-worded lines, verses and even one 13 minute essay (‘Leaving LA’). I’m happy to leave any major interpretation to the smarty-pants folk; but it does seem to me that Pure Comedy is designed to set us up – smirk if you like at his witty lines, we really should be crying. The words throughout are accompanied by understated arrangements (strings, piano, acoustic guitar) and the occasional soulful outburst (‘Pure Comedy’, ‘Ballad of a Dying Man’), all tying in to form the exceptional country-tinged indie folk of Tillman’s preacher moniker.

Polish Club – Alright Already

A gritty and mean cover of Flume’s ‘Never Be Like You’ pricked my ears on Like a Version one week and drew my attention to one slick, yet unashamedly wild band. There’s only two guys in Polish Club, but that’s far from a detriment. They’re in good company, with the likes of duos Royal Blood or King of the North proving that two blokes can smash out a lot of sound. But Polish Club are a soul act at heart, and with Novak’s dominant, belting voice being their cherry on top, they set themselves apart from their contemporaries. Their first album is also pretty damn rad. Alright Already is quick, brash and frenetic. It’s like they made up their mind and raced out an album. But despite the rush of it all, or perhaps thanks to it, Alright Already sounds bloody fun. When these guys describe their sound as soul, there’s no safe sense to the description. It’s an amped up, rock’n’roll version of soul, the kind you’d get punched in the head in a mosh pit listening to, yet not really care about. It’s soul to be enjoyed loud and preferably live. But you’ve got to get to know the songs first, right? So get on this disc.

33d

Cold War Kids – LA Divine

Cold War Kids haven’t made a record like Robbers & Cowards since Robbers & Cowards. That was more than 10 years ago. If you claim they’re not the same as they used to be, get over it – you should have been saying that circa 2008. To get on with it then, LA Divine is bloody great. CWK quickly developed a big sound, shaped for stadiums but concealed in clubs. This album, then, is another example of rousing, raucous work intended to lift spirits and heart rates. There’s no mistake who you’re playing as ‘Love is Mystical’ kicks off – that piano, that voice and that chorus you wanna belt out are fell like classic CWK. Welcome additions to the catalogue include the familiar (‘Can We Hold On?’ feels much like ‘First’) and the varied, with a White Stripes feel on ‘No Reason To Run’ and CWK’s Cake moment as Willett speaks his way through ‘Wilshire Protest’. LA Divine is heavy and fast, with the exceptions quite odd; like slow ballad ‘Camera Always On’ only clocking in at half a minute long and the calm twist of ‘Free to Breath’ used to conclude the record rather than pace it. In its real body, ‘Ordinary Idols’ and ‘Part of the Night’ sound huge, while ‘Invincible’ glides and ‘Open Up The Heavens’ offers something growly, gritty and sexy. Altogether, this album is overwhelmingly blues and gospel laden stadium rock, with many great moments.

Future Islands – The Far Field

I’m more than happy to admit that I’m a recent Future Islands convert and lay no claim to diggin them before that demonstration of sheer brilliance. This means I’m also not across their long term growth. But I’m pleased to have heard them, and very pleased in their latest, The Far Field. This is a solid album lifted greatly by an symphony of arcade sounding synth, but most heavily by Samuel T Herring’s unmatchable voice. ‘Aladdin’ not only opens The Far Field, but it highlights it too. That’s not to say there’s no room to move, with ‘Ran’ and ‘Cave’ also early standouts, the latter of those teasing toward a death-growl from Herring that sadly doesn’t eventuate. Later on, ‘Candles’ and ‘Shadows’ act as the albums “twists”. The first is a wooing love song that changes the mood of the record, the second a cool duet with Blondie’s Debbie Harry that flicks back and forth. They’re strangely out-of-place among the more mutual material, but each is a welcome divergence none-the-less. What Future Islands lack in recorded form is Herring’s signature dance moves. I cannot wait to see The Far Field performed live, as these guys are easily one of the most exciting live indie band out there.

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2015 in review: Top albums and gigs

Below are two lists: my top 10 favourite gigs of the year, and top 10 favourite albums.

Top 10 gigs

1. Pokey Lafarge – Corner – 9 April – Brilliant stage presence, such a tight band and so, so much fun! Pokey was my gig of the year for many reasons, but mostly because it caught me off guard (going in with little idea what kind of show it would be). He is such a great performer with an endless, genuine energy, his band was spectacularly good, and the show kept a solid dance party going without a moment’s rest.

2. Paolo Nutini – Palais – 1 April – ‘Iron Sky’ gave me shivers and ‘Pencil Full of Lead’ had me dancing – such was the versatility in Paolo’s theatre show. This performance showed an evolution to headliner status, with huge stage presence and the songs to back it. This one also had some of the funniest heckling.

11.4 PAOLO

3. Florence + the Machine – Sidney Myer – 10 November – No one receives a crowd quite like Florence. She brought everything to this show, embracing the crowd both figuratively and literally. How anyone can run and dance so much while singing like that is incredible.

11.1 FLO

4. Father John Misty – Meredith Music Festival – 12 December – Pipping his own sideshow for a place in my favourites, the reception Father John Misty (rightly) received in the Sup played a big part in this rating so highly. Hilarious, sarcastic, soulful and what great hair…

5. Marlon Williams – Corner – 3 July – The most memorable encore of the year. Marlon loves a few covers, but the double of The Zombies ‘Time of the Season’ and Screamin Jay Hawkins’ ‘Portrait of a Man’ was perfect.

6. Montaigne – NSC – 6 November – Another real surprise of a gig. I knew Montaigne had a cool voice, but wow can she sing. This felt like the start of something massive.

7. The Basics – NSC – 24 February – 3 hours of tunes and silliness and working on the spot with occasional sheet music from the crowd, this was one of the more memorable Basics gigs I’ve attended.

11.3 BASICS

8. Flight Facilities & MSO – Sidney Myer – 17 October – This was a special and unique event, with the MSO breathing new life into the electronic numbers. Katie Noonan’s soaring vocals and Reggie Watts’ hilarious cameo were my highlights.

11.5 FLIGHT

9. Mumford & Sons + Future Islands – Sidney Myer – 12 November – Future Islands redefine rock performance with dancing like this show, while Mumford & Sons brought some of the loudest and most glorious singalongs I’ve heard.

11.2 MUMF

10. Jordie Lane – Toff in Town – 18 April – Jordie continues to develop as a poignant storyteller, through songs and banter. An intimate performance of one of our recent greats.

Top 10 albums

10 Maccabees - Marks to Prove It
10. Maccabees, The – Marks To Prove It

09 The Wombays - Glitterbug
9. Wombats, The – Glitterbug

08 Mark Ronson - Uptown Special
8. Mark Ronson – Uptown Special

07 Father John Misty - I Love You, Honeybear
7. Father John Misty – I Love You, Honeybear

06 Marina and the Diamonds - Froot
6. Marina & The Diamonds – Froot

05 Calexico - Edge of the Sun
5. Calexico – Edge Of The Sun

04 Marlon Williams - Marlon Williams
4. Marlon Williams – Marlon Williams

03 Everything Everything - Get to Heaven
3. Everything Everything – Get To Heaven

02 Florence and the Machine - How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful
2. Florence + The Machine – How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful

01 Lianne La Havas - Blood
1. Lianna La Havas – Blood