Weekend Wind Down
I don’t know if I’m getting older or smarter (though only one of those is objectively true), but I am really giving up on waiting. I won’t wait for anything anymore. When I saw that the Game of Thrones exhibition was coming to Sydney, for a mere five days, I immediately abandoned any notion of trying to attend. Despite enjoying the series, despite reading the books and feeling inspired by George R.R. Martin’s eloquent speech and the carefully constructed character voices chapter to chapter. Despite the excitement of feeling I’m part of a pop culture franchise again since Buffy’s end, since Harry Potter’s end. (What can I say, I relish in the fact that after watching an episode of Game of Thrones I can watch the Gay of Thrones recaps and the fans’ dismay at yet another demise.)
While I didn’t go to the exhibition, I must admit I took a sick joy in reading the public outcry of the poorly organised event. It was almost like an experiment: “How badly do you want it?” Of all the friends of mine who went, none made it inside.
I find I’m like this with live music now. I remember seeing Radiohead some years back and it didn’t wow me. It was good, but not memorable. We waited to get in and see them from afar. I still sooner recall seeing Fionn Regan at the Basement with my friend Jess. It was a cheap gig, it was intimate, easy to get in, no waiting around, and we politely asked our way to the seated area in front of the stage and watched the folk gypsy pluck and strum at the rate of knots. And so, today I write about artists whose performances retain that unique intimacy. No more waiting.
I saw this fella last summer, busking the streets of Newtown on a sunny sundry Sunday. He has a voice like honey and malt, served in a warmed mug of milk in deep winter. Huckleberry deploys stripped back folk because he can. And I don’t say that lightly. There are a lot of overzealous electro “wizards” whose voices need drowning out and who might very well soar to chart topping heights for their fifteen minutes. There are sadly fewer and fewer folkies in this internet consumerist reality. More Hastings, less waste!
I’d say “speaking of folk” but Aldous Harding is probably more country than folk. My sister and I used to confidently agree that we loved every kind of music except country. But we still liked Fleetwood Mac, and while country may be, as Xander from Buffy puts it “the music of pain”, some of it really is beautiful. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed Sharon Van Etten’s new release and Angel Olsen, who borders on country. Aldous Harding is bound to be played on repeat.
I remember Clare B was a frequent in my disc playing days, back in 2003, when it seemed I listened to a lot of female Aussies like Katie Noonan/george, Sarah Blasko and New Buffalo. What happened, then? Where did they go? They’re ALL still performing. I nearly saw Katie Noonan with my sister this month, but that gig sold out quickly. And anyway, Noonan has become someone else, producing a less grunge-y fun style, and playing a style which probably better demonstrates her voice but doesn’t really resonate with me.
But I just realised Clare Bowditch has retained beautiful uplifting soul. Oh man, the last album was really great and that release was two years ago! Are people seeing her live much these days? Is she still touring? I’ve got to look into this.
The piano sounds familiar, and I don’t think it’s coming from the original song by War on Drugs, but I can’t quite place it. While I was disappointed with War on Drugs’ album, I am loving every song Alice Boman has released. Oh, to see this Swedish princess live! Like Hastings, Boman relies on her vocals and musical ability over electro wowing. Maybe that’s why she’s been flying under the radar a bit.
While I feel I should be, I’m not the least bit sick of the eighties sound, the Pretty in Pink, Breakfast Club, Siouxsie and the Banshees-esque leg warmers stuff. While slow folk might wind down our weekends, who’s to say we don’t also need the soaring sound of this woman’s voice? And while I don’t have any leg warmers (honest!), my feet haven’t been sock free in ages. With Ballet School I feel inspired to take up power sliding.
Josh Record is almost sickly sweet pop. I was kind of surprised to see Tom Vek remixing his stuff. In fact, I discovered Josh Record while exploring Tom Vek and his new album. There is something innocent and naive here, and for most, I think that can turn music superficial. But Record plays enough with his sound to come across more James Yuill than John Mayer. And Tom Vek has given him a sexy little beat here.
Normally I don’t read Pitchfork reviews. Mainly because they can be over-intellectualised and esoteric, when they’re just bloody reviews. I can’t pretend I know what I’m talking about on this blog. I never learned an instrument (I would like to). I share what I like and I can’t always peg why I like it, with heavy-laden descriptors. Sometimes I’ll love it when the lead singer can’t really sing, but happens to lead a punk band that fucking goes off.
Anyway Pitchfork’s review of Tomas Barfod was fair and well written. The reviewer referred to this song as a slow-burn ‘With Every Heartbeat’, which perfectly captures the mood of Aftermath; Beautiful vocals, and a to-die-for sad-as-hell string arrangement strikes right to the heart.