Stardust Five: Live at the Annandale Hotel

Stardust Five performed on 22/04/06 at the Annandale Hotel in Sydney. It’s the new side project fronted by Paul Kelly, with Pete and Dan Luscombe, Bill McDonald and Dan Kelly, all along for the ride.

This line-up was the band behind possibly my favourite Paul Kelly album – Ways & Means. But this album is very different. It’s a monkier for their sonic experiments and soundtrack ideas. Really, these guys should be old enough to know better! Paul Kelly is right up there with Elvis Costello when it comes to a thirts for creating, and for something new.

So is it any good? Well, it’s not bad. Some of the songs on the self titled Stardust Five album sound great, but very few actual songs. It’s not something I imagine I will return to often. Live, the show was another beast. The complexity of the songs, the performances, all came through. I’ll admit, I wavered there for a bit, but watching the Luscombes go at it was pretty amazing. They also performed some material intended for the new Paul Kelly album, and a Dan Kelly sung version of the Magnetic Fields I Don’t Want To Get Over You – one of my favourite Magnetic Fields songs.

If you haven’t heard Ways & Means, then rush out and get it. It’s a double record, and it’s floating around for cheap at the moment. It’s like the best Mermaid Avenue album. Soulful and playful, a bunch of musicians on fire singing what Kelly described as “Love Gone Right” songs. I can’t wait to hear this band tackle a new bunch of ‘proper’ Paul Kelly songs.

SITE: Stardust Five – official site
SITE: Dumb Things – Official Website of Paul Kelly

MP3: Stardust Five – Things We Said In the Dark
– From the album Stardust Five (Capitol, 2006)
MP3: Paul Kelly – You Broke A Beautiful Thing
– From the double album Ways & Means (Capitol, 2003)

Darren Hanlon: Live at @Newtown

Darren Hanlon is performed on 21/04/06 at the terribly named @Newtown venue. For those unfamiliar, Hanlon is a Sydney songwriter, roughly from the same school as artists like Jonathan Richman, who first came to prominence with a couple of quirky pop songs. A witty man, a performing natural, and, as I discussed on the weekend, there is a magical shine on his first EP (Early Days) and first album (Hello Stranger).

Then came Little Chills from a couple of years ago. For a man who once said he would bring a new song to every tour, it was a long time coming, and it must be said, slim pickings on first listen. It lacked the energy of his earlier works. It was sombre. It was SERIOUS. And after a good year of still seeing shows and coming back to the record, it’s also fantastic. It’s not, say, Room On Fire.

I am a big fan, and after seeing him so many shows, it’s the Little Chills songs. Unfortunately, he only does a handful of them now. The best of the lot – I Wish I Was Beautiful For You – always gets an airing though. A beautiful paean to physical insecurites, but love anyway.

Most importantly, there was a handful of new songs performed. A song about living on people’s couches, and full band versions of two tracks on the latest Candle Records Sampler, Hamper (out now) – Happiness Is A Chemical and My Life A Blur. The album is apparently finished and will be out later this year. I also keep forgetting to purchase the Candle Records DVD with a live gig of Darren’s. It’s going straight to the want list.

SITE: Darren Hanlon – official site
SITE: Candle Records

MP3: Darren Hanlon – Beta Losers
– Original version from the compilation Banter (Candle Records, 1999)
MP3: Darren Hanlon – I Wish I Was Beautiful For You
– From the album Little Chills (Candle Records, 2004)

Beth Orton: Live At the Enmore Theatre

Beth Orton performed last night (20/04/06) at the Enmore Theatre in Sydney. She came on with a great, smooth, slow version of Absinthe, a track from her new album, Comfort Of Strangers, and it was all uphill from there.

Comfort Of Strangers is an odd sounding album. It sounds like Jim O’Rourke’s solo stuff, there’s a hypnotic steaduness, or maybe it’s just mastered badly. Butlive, the new songs pumped with energy.

I kept thinking the bassplayer looked familiar and it finally hit me a few songs in – it was Leroy Bach, formerly of Wilco.

The title track of her new album was a definite highlight. Classics like Stolen Car and Somebody’s Daughter still sounded sweet. And she was still a gorgeous human being in all senses.

SITE: Beth Orton – official site
SITE: Beth Orton @ Astralwerks

MP3: Beth Orton – Couldn’t Cause Me Any Harm
– From the album Central Reservations (Heavenly, 1999)

MP3: Beth Orton – Heartland Truckstop
– From the album Comfort of Strangers (Astralwerks, 2006)

Peabody: He’s Heading Unto Zion

l-r: Ben Chamie, Bruno Brayovic, Graeme Trewin

This email went out today:

Dear Peabody enthusiast,
Please read the following electronic mail from one Graeme Trewin.
It is with a great deal of sadness and advanced nostalgia, that I, Graeme Trewin announce my departure from the band that is Peabody.
This band has been the biggest part of my life for so long now, so to say that I’ll miss being a part of it is a huge understatement! I’m incredibly proud of the music we have made together.
To my brothers Ben and Bruno, it’s been an honour and an absolute pleasure!
Graeme Trewin
Needless to say, Ben and I are still crying into our beers and it is all still too new and sudden to know what we are going to do or what is going to happen, but a career as a covers duo in an RSL is looking likely. We will both miss our pet monkey Trewin immensely and wish him all the best in his new, humble life enriching uranium for Iran and China.
“I don’t know what to tell you. Life is absurd and it confuses me.”
-Matias Perez, Philosopher. Yadda yadda

Now. I love Peabody. Definitely one of the best Sydney bands around, and this obviously comes as sad news. They are also one of the last of the great 3-piece bands. So loud, so rock, yet only three (count ’em!) guys. They had something to say, a great frontman, awesome rhythm section, great songs, great attitude….they had it all. Apart from maybe success.

Their two albums – Professional Againster (brilliant life affirming rock with pop smarts everywhere) and The New Violence (angry, fiery, brilliant) and an EP will be the legacy of this line up of Peabody. They never put a foot wrong.

It’s sad, because the newer songs I’ve heard perform live were better still. Let’s hope there’s some life in the old girl.


MP3: Peabody – She’s Heading Unto Zion
– From the album Professional Againster (NonZero, 2002)
MP3: Peabody – Got You On My Radar
– From the album The New Violence (NonZero, 2005)

The more it shakes

I think, maybe, cos we lost two days last week to the Easter Bunny, we are all just over-eager-panicking-oh-for-god-sakes-hurry-the-crap-up-don’t-you-see-I-lost-two-days-here about where they want to be.


God’s Song (Or Why I Love Randy Newman)

Beware, digression ahead.

So, yesterday afternoon I decided to listen to some Randy Newman. I have been going back through old Mojo magazines, because I was hungry and lazy the other day, and I got off the train and decided to go to Newtown’s Happy Chef on my own. I love the place, but I like to read and had nothing, so I swung by Egg records and bought a couple of old Mojo Magazines (I think #39 and #40) and it made me take stock of what missing issues I have in my collection.

In my slow, sporadic, thumbing through of Mojo back issues on the weekend, I found a review for Randy Newman’s Songbook vol. 1 album, which I actually owned but never listened to. Which is an even longer story.

So on comes God’s Song. For those who might don’t know (as Mike Mills would say), it’s a song sung from the point of view of God, being quite taken by how gullible we humans are. How he treats us like crap, and we still love him. Kind of like Ricky Gervais in that way, really.

At this point I was cooking breakfast and there was a knock at my door. Now, there are only certain types of knocks I get on my door. There’s the soft timid rattle followed by the calling of my name that announces the arrival of Mother. There’s the ridiculously loud banging of seven year old Indy, my neighbour. But this was such a soft, hesitant bump that I ignored it. It was a late morning on a public holiday. Someone dropped a gardening tool, I assumed.

Then the knock returned.

I put a shirt on (um…) and went to the door, and THANK GOD (no pun intended) that I had my screen door closed because here I was confronted by women of the faith. Bible bashers. Well meaning middle class middle aged ladies, who, let’s face it, are nosy annoyances who badger their kids into staying in school and gives the worst presents at Christmas and still has a cassette player in her funny smelling car.

And God’s Song is still going.

“I recoil in horror from the foulness of thee
from the squalor and the filth and the misery…”

Hi, we’re here to talk to you about God

“The Christians and the Jews were having a jamboree
The Buddhists and the Hindus joined on satellite TV”

We are all looking for happiness, everyone in the world…

So at this point I would like to point out I have nothing against God generally. Contrary to poular belief, he did have some pretty good tunes. God Only Knows, God Knows It’s True, Secret God, Get Right With God. But this seemed very eery. It took a while before I fully tuned out from this lady talking to me, the godless indie heathen that I am, who reminded me a bit of the other woman in Three Men and a Little Lady, the one who works at the girl’s school and is also after Tom Sellick’s affections (and where has that man gone may I ask?).

“Lord, if you won’t take care of us
Won’t you please please let us be?”

Is this something you think you might be interested in?

Sorry, no thanks.

Another aside: there was atime in my life I would have been. I’ve kidnapped poor Mormans to my house, and made one give me their copy of the Book of Morman. I have an addictive personality, and anything that has obsessive cult status, I’m there. Bootleg records, Star Trek, Buffy, JFK’s assination, Harry Potter, Beach Boys. I eat it all up. So religion, so much to sink one’s teeth into really. Endlessly fascinating. But that time is gone

So what happened?

It’s just easy to be cynical, isn’t it? And who has time for God. I like some of things Jesus has said. Very, very much. But I guess, his core beliefs is the same as a lot of people’s core beliefs, but I’ve found later philosophers and thinkers to be more attuned to my life. No offence. It’s like, I really think Singles is a great film, but it’s kind of dated, and I’m looking for answers from a newer place.

So you’re not interested in this literature then.

No, I’m sorry. And God’s Song is playing and this is all very weird. Do you hear this song? It’s about how God is laughing at you. But it’s also about how people laugh at the religous. Which, in my godless indie heathen way, I’ve done. Those hillsong people. They freak me out. I acctack with ridicule. But in a way Randy Newman is making a fool of me, as well as you, and maybe the Big Man too. That’s what I hate about Randy Newman. Listening to him, I feel like I’m onstage with a slight of hand artist, who’s picking my pockets as the audience laughs at my confused, worry expression.

I really hate those guys. They are mean.

I hate magicians of all sorts. I think this was written about in a previous entry. This is actually very different from what happened isn’t it?

Yes it is. And you’ve barely described the other woman I was with.

I didn’t really get a good look at her. She seemed like a henchman of some sort.

“You must all be crazy to put your faith in me”

Did you plan for this piece to become a ficticious interview and a somewhat answerless ramble about God?

No, I was sort of hoping to just make fun of you.

Look, would you be interested in coming in and listening the rest of this Randy Newman Cd with me. It’s so far, quite good. Just Randy and piano. The sticker says “first ever solo studio album” – not sure if that’s true? But there’s some really good songs about racism and slavery and politics and stuff. There’s a really great song about a dancing bear that’s not on here though.

Sorry, no thanks.