Untitled

30 09 2013

I don’t know if I have mentioned this before, but I have been the admin of the unofficial Church fan page (yay?!) for a few months now. So this means that everything that happens on the page means I get a notification.

On Saturday morning, a link to this page was posted and made for an interesting read. With a band like The Church, there will always be contention and disagreement about which album is best. As was unsurprisingly the overall vibe in the ensuing comments. With some saying “sometimes I feel like I must be listening to some other band all together when I read reviews like that….” and “As we say in Scotland, “Opinions are like bum-holes. Everyone’s got one”” (which I ‘liked’ and put away in the memory bank).

So simply because I can, here is my list of favourite Church albums and opinions that may differ to that of Hoyer.

Number 1: Back With Two Beasts (’05)

I bought this album on the power of the cover image alone; although I saw the red and blue re-issue before I saw the original blue and yellow. This is one of only a few albums that have a cover that does justice to the music with which it’s associated. The striking red and blue of the sky tells you the best time to listen you the album; late in the evening in the summertime. It just doesn’t have the same feel to it at any other time (trust me, I know). But for me though, the stand out songs are actually ‘Snowfaller’, ‘Pantechnicon’ and ‘Ionian Blues’.

Number 2: Untitled #23 (’09)

This album provided me with one of my first memorable moments in live music; the rendition of ‘Pangaea’. One of constant on this album though is the guitar work; it is smooth and silky on every track. But as I have mentioned previously, it also has (for me) a small incorporated story in the second half of the album. Which is why my choice of standout tracks are actually ‘On Angel Street’, ‘Sunken Sun’ and ‘Anchorage’ in that order.

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Number 3: Beside Yourself (’04)

I know this wasn’t included in Hoyer’s list, but it is a collection of songs that constitute an album’s length, so I’m counting it here. From the outset, this album can be taken many different ways. It clearly states that it is mainly consistent of B-sides and outtakes from the recording sessions of the previous album (Forget Yourself), hence the name. So in that respect, you’d be forgiven for expecting something similar in sound. But the cover is an artwork by SK and is a person that appears half male-half female. Hmm… But as with BWTB, it is best sampled during the evening of a summertime. The best tracks are ‘Crash/Ride’ followed by ‘Moodertronic’.

Things I do agree with Hoyer about though include his thoughs on Magician Among The Spirits, except I’d have placed it at number 4 and given a massive mention to ‘The Further Adventures Of The Time Being‘ as the best song on the album closely followed by ‘Afterimage‘ as an fantastic closer.

About the only thing with which I agree with Hoyer is his ranking of Sometime Anywhere and his choice of ‘My Little Problem‘ as a standout song.

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SK and SUSO

23 09 2013

I have been asked to write a review of Saturday night’s performance by Steve Kilbey and the Sydney University Symphoney Orchestra. So here it is:

The venue selected for Saturday’s performance was only appropriate for such a show. The architecture of the Great Hall at Sydney University was to take a trip to a place that a lot of will have seen in movies, but may never have been to for ourselves. There were stain-glass windows (“you should’ve seen them during the day”, lighting man Trevor said), a tall ceiling, busts made out of sandstone, marble statues, angels in the woodwork and an awe inspiring organ above your head as you enter the hall. If Harry Potter had gone to school in Sydney, this is where he would’ve come.

The show, as a concept, was really enjoyable; an orchestra, just under 80 piece big, conducted by George Ellis, playing reinterpretations of songs by Steve Kilbey. All the orchestral arrangements (barring ‘Tear It All Away’) were done by Ellis and included the likes of ‘Grind’, ‘Myrrh’, ‘Everyone’ and (unsurprisingly) ‘Under The Milky Way’, with ‘Space Saviour’ as the encore.

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The orchestra entered the stage via a doorway at the back, as did George after a warm welcome from presenter Scott Bevan. So naturally then, you’d be expecting Steve to make a similar entrance, right? I know I was, which is why it was good to see Steve walking down the aisle of the hall to take his place on stage.

After more than 30 years of performing to live audiences, I don’t know if Steve still gets nervous before or during shows, but for the first half of the night, he didn’t appear comfortable up on stage, he seemed a bit unsettled about something; at least that was the vibe sitting in the front row.

SK (l), George Ellis (c) and guest vocalist Lisa Gibbs (r)

SK (l), George Ellis (c) and guest vocalist Lisa Gibbs (r)

It would be interesting to know what was going through Steve’s mind when he wasn’t singing though, as he didn’t have his bass with him, he didn’t have much room to move. Wearing a suit would’ve made any kind of interpretive dance hard to pull off too, and as a result, Steve just stood there kind of awkwardly and at over times very stiffly. After the intermission though, Steve seemed more relaxed and it was just a shame that the night was over before you knew it.

Due to advertising restrictions in place by Sydney University, the crowd wasn’t large as it could’ve, and should’ve, been, which was the biggest let down of the night. But those who did turn up were treated to a unique show that will not be forgotten any time soon.

*Pictures courtesy of Sharon Daniels





Me: Explained

20 09 2013

A quick review of what has happened/is happening since last I posted:

The Sharks beat the table-topping Roosters 32-22 (after leading 26-0 at halftime). They beat the Cowboys in week one of the finals 20-18 and were awarded the controversial 7-tackle try to Beau Ryan in the first half. And we now meet the Sea-Eagles in tonight’s do-or-die clash and will unfortunately be without key playmaker Todd Carney.

On the music scene, not much has changed. Still haven’t been to a concert since I saw the Mentals at New Years. Although tomorrow night I am going up to Sydney to see Steve Kilbey and the Sydney University Symphony Orchestra.

On the academic front though, things have never been so grim. Having struggled through my first year (which was actually all second year subjects) of journalism, I dropped back to Media and Communication (BCM) thinking “well I developed a bit of a foot hold in that last year and it still leaves me open to a few options, so I’ll slide on back to that”. Boy was I in for a shock.

Having been told upon my transfer from Shoalhaven Uni that I only needed to do well at the subjects I was told (which in scoring an average of 70% across all the said subjects, I was told that I was doing well) and then could apply to transfer straight to second year journalism.

I did that. But when I struggled with journalism, I was told I should’ve done the 1st years subjects, but some of the important ones weren’t running again until the next autumn session (i.e. – 12 months away). So I went back to BCM.

Upon my return to BCM, it dawned on me how messed up my situation was. One of my tutors asked me if I had or was currently undertaking any DIGC classes. I said ‘no’, as I was not told about them when transferring. The tutor then stressed the importance of these classes which meant that I was now both behind in journalism and BCM, and to start either again would mean another 3 years at uni, taking my total to 6 years at uni and only 1 degree. And I’d also be about 3 years older than those who were good enough to make the grade straight out of high school, but with the same or less experience. Not to mention that I wouldn’t be guaranteed a job when I left.

So is it worth starting again and staying on wasting even more money that I don’t yet have?

Which is why I can now say “I’m a uni drop-out”. And because I don’t have any foresight at all, I’m now screwed.

I am saw an ad a while back now for care workers, and since I’ve seen it, I’ve never ruled it out as a possibility. I have friends (even friends of friends) in aged care and they all tell me they love it (which is kind of encouraging for me).

But knowing my dad, he won’t be happy (as you may guess I haven’t told him yet), citing that I should’ve got a trade in the first place. Before I found myself in this situation, I’d have argued that he never really pushed me in any particular direction, but slowly and surely, some memories of him trying to do so are coming back. So I can’t use that argument when I get round to telling him.

What I might be able to do though, maybe, is say that he kept telling me things were/are easy and expected perfection on the first attempt at anything. I don’t think he quite grasps the concept of ‘this is my first time, I’m a learner’. Because I’m not the most practical person, I take a little bit longer to do things right. But that extra time and caution doesn’t cut it with my dad, so I shy away from many practical tasks around the house.

So I don’t know if a trade is right for me. What if a similar thing happens that happened at uni? About the only trade that I could see myself doing is becoming a painter (I haven’t researched it yet so this is just based on brief outside observations). You don’t have to worry about constructing anything (“Oh no! I got the angle wrong! And the planks aren’t long enough”, said no painter ever. “I forget. What do the different colours on the capacitor mean again?”, said no painter ever).

Not only that, I did get some brief experience painting a wall back in high school. We didn’t have the best brushes for the job, but I will admit, it was kind of fun. So maybe I’ll have to do some research, because I don’t know how in demand the painting profession is these days.

To sum up: this could very well be my last post, as I have deleted my twitter account and the next step is this. So thank you for reading.





It’s All A Game Of Change

1 07 2013

They say ‘never meet your heroes’; it’ll ruin your built up perception of them. But what do they say to journalism students? ‘Never interview you heroes’? If they do, “Oops”. I was lucky enough to meet Steve Kilbey in Bondi last weekend.

30 years. Kids will tell their parents that that’s a long time. But parents will retort ‘blink and you can miss it you know’. No matter which way you cut it though, a lot will change in that time. 30 years ago there was no such thing as a ‘smart phone’ or an XBOX. And 3D glasses were red and blue cellophane.

30 years ago The Church had only just released their third album, Seance. The cover of which would go on to feature in the third edition of the Album Cover Album coffee table books. “I came home one day and my brother Russell’s girlfriend, who was an art college student, had been mucking around with photography. She’d been out with a friend of hers who’d chucked on a veil and was holding a metal flower”, says lead singer-songwriter-bass player Steve Kilbey. “Not thinking much of it, she threw it on the kitchen table and as soon as I walked in, I went ‘that’s our new album cover’. When I showed it to everybody else, they were like, ‘yes, that’s it’. No argument what so ever”

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In an interview on SBS’s Rock Around The World during the same period, a softly spoken Steve said “I never sit down and think ‘I’m going to write a song for so and so and then approach them’.” This would seem a logical statement. How do you know what another person wants out of the same industry? “I’m not sure why exactly I said that stuff then, but that’s 30 years ago, I don’t know what I was thinking. [Because] I would now”, he says. “If someone asked me to write a song either for them [or] that they’re going to perform, I’m pretty happy to do that”.

But not everything changes in 30 years. Steve is still of the belief that the worst thing you can do is try and understand a song. “The more concrete facts that you know about this abstract thing, the less you will really enjoy it, even though you mightn’t think it at the time”, he says. “It’s like the documentary I made (Long Distance Century Buzzes And Fades). Some people are going ‘I want to see all the footage. If that’s 3 hours, I want to see all 16.’ They think they want to see it, but I’ve actually done them a favour by giving them what they’ve got. Just let it be an intangible, atmospheric, ambiguous thing”.

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With over 3 decades of writing music under his belt, Steve’s creative spark is all but waning. For his most recent album with Martin Kennedy, You Are Everything, Steve wrote the lyrics for all 11 tracks in two days. He even wrote them for ‘A Better Day’ on the spot. “I usually listen to it and write the lyrics in a minute. But in this case, when Martin started the song up, I said ‘is that all it does?’, because it’s just two chords”, Steve recalls. “He said ‘yeah’, and I said ‘alright, I’m not even going to write it down’. So I just grabbed the head phones and sung it”.

This isn’t the first time Steve has done such a thing though. “On solo albums I do that too, so it’s not the first time it’s happened. I often just improvise”, he says. “Grant McLennan (of The Go-Betweens and Jack Frost collaborations) is one stop better than me though. I’ll strum the guitar for a bit before getting the words where he’d strum and make up the words at the same time”, he says, playing an air guitar.

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But you know that 30 years is a long time when Steve says he’s in his 3rd phase. “The mad, energetic uncle”, he says with a laugh. Having arrived via his “heroin stage”, Steve is now more physical during on stage performances than ever before. ‘I only really started getting physical on stage 11 or 12 years ago, and that coincided with me getting hardcore about swimming and yoga’, he says. And with this new lease of life has come an increased workload. While The Church may not have put out any new offerings since 2010, Steve has been a part of 10 albums since then; either as a solo artist or in collaboration.

Apart from the music though, Steve also posts to his blog (The Time Being) daily, and paints or draws too. The normal person would love to be able to have achieved just half of all this in such a short period of time. As one DJ noted in an interview last year, to ‘research [Steve] is overwhelming, there is just so much to pick through’.

But with so much talent and energy, you can’t really fully appreciate what Steve Kilbey is like as a purveyor of art until you witness him at work for yourself. Upon walking into his workspace, a large open room with a low, angled ceiling, Steve is working on another of his drawings. And it’s not that he is detached from the interview, but he certainly has the energy and ability to focus on two tasks at once without being dull. He gives high quality answers that leave you wanting to know more, all while adding more strokes to the portrait he is in the developing stages of.

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It’s not even that long before Steve is bouncing around mocking his on stage performances. And showing a brief excerpt from the recently released documentary, he demonstrates the kind of energy that many people dream of having, let alone when they’re nearing 60.

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Steve’s band The Church have been on numerous different recording labels, and given they haven’t had a recognised hit since the early ‘90s, it’s amazing that they are still around today. What they have gone through would have been enough to break other bands long ago. But their very existence shows that while nothing stays the same forever, change isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It is also why, on a morning that is cold, miserable and drizzling, Steve is the “only person getting up and the first thing I’m thinking is ‘I’ve got to have a swim’”. How many other stars of rock would be thinking that?

*Pictures taken by Kit Q





Title (optional)

4 06 2013

“You sound emo”.

“These always offer relatable, interesting insights”

Dammit. Now I don’t know weather to keep going or stop. I was going to give up, but then I logged onto twitter this morning and saw an encouraging comment.

But I might keep this going a little bit longer yet, as I’ve thought of stuff and things and more stuff. It also keeps me sane a bit because it feels like I’m talking to someone. And I must be; because I’ve not looked at this sight over 2000 times (so thanks everyone).

I don’t know why it took so long, but I’ve just realised that I clearly have an interest in all the wrong industries. First I wanted (or so I thought) to be a journalist, which I have been told for years is a dying industry. But as one of my tutors put it: “it’s not dying, it’s adapting. Instead of reading paper, we’re reading a screen”. Hmm, makes sense.

But what about my other options(?). Selling music, simply because I have a passion for it. This clearly is not going to work. In fact, I’m suprised that stores like ‘Music Farmers’ and others that specialise in just music are still around. Because downloading seems to be the way to go. Take my sister for example. She likes music just as much as me (but worse taste) and if I open up the downloads folder on the home computer, I am literally scrolling for a good 30 seconds to get to the bottom. But me on the other hand, I’d rather the physical object (as I’m sure I’ve mentioned numerous times here).

Photography is probably a similar deal. With (nearly) everyone having a camera phone of sorts, I wouldn’t be suprised to find out that the photo industry is the most under threat compared to 15 years ago. Wow, in my head, 15 years ago sounds like a long time, but it’s actually only 1998. That’s the same year my sister was born, so it’s actually not that long ago. That’s scary.

How can people have their computer moniters turned up so bright though? Compared to the people either side of me, mine looks like it’s not even tuned on. Every time I turn my head ever so slightly it feels like I’m looking at the sun.

And now I’m going to try and bring this full circle (because apparently that’s what good writers have the ability to do). I like to think that I can offer relatable insights because I like to think (I’m doing a lot of thinking here aren’t I?) that my observations and memory of the insignificant things during the day are interesting and worth something somehow.

Obviously I’m not as good as my idol Steve Kilbey. But I’d love to be able to get there one day. He put out an album in 2009 called ‘Art, Man + Technology‘, I’d say try and buy it if you can, but I bought the last one in February and there are none on eBay. This best way to describe the album is as a kind of amalgamation of oservation, experiance and creativity rolled into heavy/reflective listening. Look at these and decide for yourself, because well that’s how I hear it.

But my observations of the small insignificant things are only good if I’m on my own. So you put me with a group of frineds and I wouldn’t have noticed that the iPhone cover of the seventh person to walk past me since I sat down was desinged to look like a cassette tape (the same as my sisters).

One thing I have noticed though is my lack of hyperlinking in these last few posts. But it’s okay, I have an explanation for that.





18 Facts About The Church

7 04 2013
  1. The band was named after the line ‘The church of man love’ from the David Bowie song Moonage Daydream
  2. Richard Ploog was NOT the original drummer. That title goes to Nick Ward
  3. The Unguarded Moment’ was not the band’s first hit. That was actually ‘She Never Said
  4. The coloured parts of the heart on Of Skins And Heart have no anatomical significance
  5. The original concept art for The Blurred Crusade was the four band member standing around an empty cage
  6. The cover of Seance was taken by Kim Sanderman (the then girlfriend of Russell Kilbey who contributed harmonica on the album)
  7. The girl on the cover of Seance is ‘Meg’
  8. Kim Sanderman also contributed the cover art of Remote Luxury
  9. Columbus’, while written on the American leg of the tour, was not actually written in Columbus. It was written in Eau Claire, Wisconsin
  10. The production team for Starfish was inspired by the bands enjoyment of the Don Henley song ‘Boy of Summer
  11. The name Starfish means absolutely nothing. The band just liked the name. None the less Steve had to write a letter to Arista (the record company they were signed to) to convince them it had a purpose
  12. The drum machine used to replace Ploog on Gold Afternoon Fix was called the Alessis HR-16
  13. Priest = Aura got its name from some miss read Spanish vocab notes. Meeting a fan back stage after a show, Steve (reading it upside down) though the paper said ‘priest = aura’. It actually said ‘priest = cura’
  14. The song ‘Two Place At Once’ was written by Marty and Steve and stitched together. Neither had any knowledge of what the other had written though, hence the title
  15. Hologram of Baal was originally going to be called Hologram of Allah. But the band feared a possible backlash by way of a fatwa
  16. Technically, all members of the current line up have sung lead vocals at some stage. Tim Powles sang ‘Take Your Place’ on the 1997 album pharmakoi/distance crunching honchos with echo units
  17. The song ‘This Is It’ is about INXS front man Michael Hutchence

18.   El Momento Descuidado means ‘The Unguarded Moment’ in Spanish. The band decided to call the album this because of a memory of seeing this as a headline in a Spanish newspaper. El Momento Siguiente means ‘The Following Moment’

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To Film Or Not To Film

8 01 2013

Yes, Happy New Year blah blah blah…. Despite this being the first post in the New Year, I actually need to start with an apology. Or do I?

Yes I do, because as you may have picked up over various posts last year, I am a massive Church fan and this post will revolve around their music as it was half the inspiration for it. The other reason I need to apologise is that I didn’t take any pictures at the time (yes there is an element of “you just had to be there” to this – ed.) because it may have ruined the image of it all.

I was sitting in what my family and I like to refer to as our ‘Slice of Paradise’; this is an awesome name because it was adopted long ago but also happens to be a lyric in a Church song. It really is a coincidence. (Riiiiiiiiight – ed.) No, seriously, it is. (Ok, whatever you say Mr. Anorak – ed.) Anyway *shoots angry glare*, I was sitting there out the back listening to the Church’s 17 and ¾ minute epic ‘So Love May Find Us’.

It’s at this point that I must apologise (again –ed.) because I can’t remember if I have previously told you that I am short sighted and need glasses (well anyway he is and he does – ed.) As I shall explain that is also one of the reasons that I didn’t take photos because it would have changed everything and thus you would not be reading this.

Right, I think I’ve covered all the details now (nah, you will have forgotten something – ed.). So there I was out the back, glasses off, listening to ‘SLMFU’. I live on a hill so have an awesome view (see, told you – ed.) all around. It had been a hot day, with temperatures exceeding 40C and the local and surrounding areas being put on a ‘catastrophic’ fire danger warning. The day had been long and clouds had started to form. The sky at this point was mostly cloud, but as I was listening to the epic, there was a break in the clouds just enough to burn a memorable image.

At the beginning of the song, as I looked out over the city lights a break in the clouds the shape of a bat on the move at a fair clap appeared. I was engrossed in the moment because most of the lyric in ‘SLMFU’ is at the beginning; and because it was written during the Global Financial Crisis, it was a strong image because since when has a bat been used as a symbol of hope and encouragement? (Batman – ed.) That doesn’t count.

As clouds do, it moved on the breeze. We have this really big native plant in the corner of our yard which hid this break from sight; but another break came along, this one in the shape of a plane. A passenger plane like an A370; but there was something wrong with this image. What was wrong was the presence of a black cloud right in the middle of this gap. Black being a sinister colour, I thought this was also chilling timing as the song has an apparent element of sinister activity in the story.

I watched with keen eyes, however blurry they may have been. As I kind of hopped, this ‘plane’ didn’t just disappear like the bat; no, it crashed. Other bits of cloud slowed giving the effect that the wings had snapped off and the nose lost its aerodynamic shape absolutely crushing any hope of surviving.

What happened next was a total curve ball though. As the ‘plane crashed’, another shape took its place; and this was no ordinary shape. It was the shape of an angry bird; No, not an Angry Bird, but just a fierce looking creature reminiscent of a bird. I didn’t know what to make of this initially, but now I think about it, it could have been representative of power and how small or little effort it takes to over throw large things/corporations/empires etc.

Think about it; a massive A380 that is a feat in engineering and taken for granted by western society, and all it takes for it to fall out of the sky is a little creature (sparrow etc.) to enter the massive turbines and break something and lives can be lost.

Another reason why I enjoyed this spectacle is because of a conversation I had with my dad only 90 or so minutes beforehand. I’m currently reading a biography call ‘Shirl’ about the life of Graeme ‘Shirly’ Strachan (time for some more background kids – ed.). During their heyday in the early/mid ‘70s, quite a few of Skyhooks’ (for who Strachan was the lead singer) songs were banned from being played on the radio; in fact on their first album Living In The Seventies, only four of the ten songs got the all clear to be played on the airwaves. One of the reasons for them all being banned is because they were very suggestive in a not so subtle (or romantic more to the point – ed.) way.

At the time, they blew a fuse when Barry White could get away with singing about wanting ‘to make love to you all night long’ and not get banned himself (I couldn’t find the actual Barry White song referenced, but here’s another one anyway). But as it turned out, this only increased the interest in their song. As I pointed out, and to which my dad agreed, it was all about image at the time, and the Skyhooks were just a little out there to be considered ‘family friendly’. One of the main stays at live shows of theirs was actually an exploding phallus.

This then got my dad and I discussing modern music and how what the Skyhooks (there was also a reference to the Rod Stewart song ‘Tonight’s The Night’) said was nothing compared to what gets bandied about on the airwaves today. I consequently spilled the beans on my stance with film clips. That is: I don’t like them. This is because every time I listen to a song, I like to make my own film clip in my head; so by watching the actual film clip with a director and cast and all the hullabaloo that comes with it, I don’t enjoy it. I feel this way because every time there after that I hear the song, I will see that film clip; and the reason I don’t like this is because it may add an extra element of meaning to the song that I didn’t pick up in the words on their own (or there could have been a really disturbing image – ed.)

Basically, while I get that other people will interpret things different to me, in the nicest possibly way, I don’t care for what you see, so unless I ask, don’t tell me what you think of a song. This is why I really liked my cloud show, because it was put on by nature, not a director, so I’m never going to know what it meant, which is how I like my music; cool, intriguing, deeply contemplative, crafty in its use of metaphors but never 100% obvious.

PS – Steve Kilbey seems to have the same belief as me with music and putting videos with them (that should read ‘I have the same belief as Steve Kilbey’, because he held it long before you were born or even considered – ed.)