Category Archives: psuedo-muso-journo articles

R.I.P. Rave

Rave Magazine 2

As a teenage music nerd, my bedroom walls were perennially populated by posters featuring various scowling dudes with guitars looking down on me lying on my bed losing myself in my headphones whilst devouring Rave magazine. Growing up I always thought that being a music writer would be the most inconceivably, unbelievably, incontrovertibly cool job imaginable. Years later, I moved into my first Brisbane sharehouse with two wonderful girls, one of whom was just starting to pick up speed as the lead singer of now superstar act the Grates. Her then boyfriend wrote for another local music mag, and it occurred to me for the first time that music writers were actual people who existed in the real world and breathed and ate and drew on the fridge and used the bathroom when you really, really needed it. 

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It wasn't until late last year, when I'd accomplished the infinitely more arduous task of having my first novel published that I got around to signing up with Rave. In the short time since then I've reviewed countless gigs and albums and squeezed in just a handful of interviews. As a writer, it's been a fun challenge to pump out tiny bite sized non-fiction pieces at a high rate of frequency, as opposed to my primary concern of churning out massive 80 – 100k word fictional behemoths every few years (if that.)

RaveMagCover    Rave-Mag


I was devastated when I received news that Rave was shutting down, and not only because of the fact that I will now have to start PAYING for gigs like a total loser. Rave provided valuable exposure for local bands and artists, great opportunities for local writers and photographers and, perhaps most importantly, was an entirely independent operation. Independent media is important; the beauty of working for Rave was that we didn't have to serve anyone's agenda. My editors would occasionally ask me to change a few things here and there, but this was more for content quality than because we were beholden to some corporate giant with vested interests (just look at the whole Rinehart/fairfax debacle at present). Clearly music journalism is nowhere near as important as political journalism, but journalistic integrity is of fundamental importance in terms of filtering what and how information reaching the masses and and we are currently seeing a dangerous erosion of its values which the loss of important independent media sources will only exacerbate. Thank Christ operations like New Matilda and The Conversation are still afloat.

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Here are a few highlights from my time with Rave; bands I would never have otherwise heard of, concerts I might never have gone to, interviews with amazing people I would otherwise have never met. Thanks to all the wonderful writers, editors and photographs and bands that I've worked with. This city is filled to the absolute bursting point with obscenely gifted artists and it's been an absolute blast working with a team dedicated to celebrating this this talent. See you at a gig sometime!

INTERVIEW with Jo Nesbo

GIGS 

Cut chemist

Bright Eyes

2011 Poetry Slam

Ball Park Music

ALBUMS

WILLIS EARL BEAL – acousmatic sorcery

 

BIG DEAL – Lights Out

 

STEVE SMYTH – self-titled

 

People often ask me: “What is the worst album you’ve ever reviewed?” Here is the answer.

 

Fenix

Amazingly, appallingly, astoundingly terrible

The cover of Tenacious D’s Rize Of The Fenix (and yes, that is how it’s spelt) features a picture of a penis stylized into the form of a phoenix with flaming wings. If you’re thinking ‘well, that sure as heck doesn’t bode well…’ then you can tell where I’m going with this. It’s honestly almost impressive how terrible this album is. And yes, it’s supposed to be a comedy album, but that’s the other problem. It just isn’t funny. There’s toilet humour galore, which would be fine if the jokes landed once every 20 minutes or so, but the truth is that the whole thing’s about as funny as the Armenian genocide. Even the dialogue interludes are appalling. They sound like a couple of stoned middle-aged men trying to re-enact scenes from Saturday Night Live. The whole shtick of having Tenacious D almost exclusively write songs about what it’s like to be in Tenacious D was entertaining enough on the first album, but on album #3 they are really just flogging a dead horse. And then kicking it. And then piling beer cans on top of its rotting corpse. To top it all off, album closer 39, which basically spends 317 seconds mocking women for being beholden to the passage of time, sounds as though it’s been written with the specific intent of pissing off feminist groups. This album gets one star for the sole fact that it features Dave Grohl on drums.

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orginal Rave article here 

Interview with Jo Nesbo

original Rave article here

ImageJOSH DONELLAN speaks with JO NESBØ about the film adaptation of his book HEADHUNTERS and what it’s like to be labeled ‘The next Stieg Larsson.’

You probably haven’t heard of the pop group Di Derre, but in the band’s native Norway they’re kind of a big deal. However, their lead singer Jo Nesbø, better known for his career as an internationally best selling crime novelist, didn’t always plan on becoming a famous practitioner of the musical and literary arts. Or taking calls from Martin Scorsese for that matter.

Nesbø started out his professional career as a successful stockbroker. It wasn’t until two years after the death of his father, who held lifelong literary aspirations that were never acted upon, that Nesbø decided to become an author. “I realized I had to write and in order to do that I had to quit my job. I summed up the money I had, I mean, you’re overpaid as a stockbroker so I knew I had enough to be a writer without income for quite some years and I didn’t really want a yacht or a big summer house. It didn’t feel like taking a risk it just felt like something I had to do. There was no way around it.”

Nesbø’s books have been a runaway success both in Norway and all over the world. So much so that when his books were first translated into English, some bright spark at his publisher’s marketing department decided it’d be a smart move to bill him as ‘the next Stieg Larsson.’ Nesbø, in a sardonic Scandinavian accent, comments “Well you know, it was the stickers on my books in the UK. I just saw the sticker, and I thought, ‘well, okay, they say I’m the new Stieg Larsson and … it could have been worse. I could have been the new Dan Brown.’”

 The snowman
The film adaptation of his 2008 novel Headhunters is on screens now. Like most well executed film adaptations, it’s an almost page for page translation of the novel (although it does tragically omit references to the brilliant Norwegian rock group Turbonegro). The story follows a successful corporate headhunter, Roger Brown, who also dabbles in the hazardous extracurricular activity of high stakes art theft. When Brown meets the former CEO of a high profile GPS company, Clas Greve, he thinks he’s not only found the perfect client, but also a chance to nab his treasured Rubens masterpiece. However, it soon becomes clear that Greve has sinister intentions and that the hunter is about to become the hunted.

With Headhunters recently released and Martin Scorsese having just announced that he will film Snowman, the seventh book in Nesbø’s hugely popular Harry Hole series, I ask Nesbø how he feels about the translation of his stories from page to screen. “I think the thing I’m worried about is more to do with how I feel about the story as a writer,” he replies. “If I’m finished with the story, I’m finished with the story. If I see a talented director wanting to tell a story, I’m happy to provide them with material. But I didn’t want to sell the rights to the Harry Hole series because I was worried it would impact on the series that I was still writing. So I said for many years, ‘I don’t want anyone to make a film of it, but if Martin Scorsese calls I might reconsider.’

“So that was a sort of joke,” he laughs, “but as it turned he called and he wanted to make a movie, so I sort of caved in and sold out.”

HEADHUNTERS is in cinemas now, rated [MA15+]. The HEADHUNTERS novel as well as the HARRY HOLE series are available now through Random House. www.jonesbo.com

 

Cut Chemist @ BNE Hi Fi reviewed for Rave magazine

Cutchemist


After the debacle surrounding D12’s non-appearances at the disastrous Heatwave festival it would seem that American hip hop acts are starting to garner a reputation as being unreliable. Continuing this trend, tonight’s opening time has been shifted back an hour and there seems to be a great deal of confusion as to what time the performers are actually hitting the stage. Nevertheless, once local wunderkind Sampology starts warming up the crowd everyone seems indifferent to the confusion and ready to shake that which their matriarchal progenitors gave them and raise their hands in an upwardly fashion like they just don’t have a particular preference on the issue.

After a brief intermission, Cut Chemist strides onto stage along with accompanying VJ and launches into a rap mash-up intercut with bizarre psychedelic visuals. All of this occurs behind a slew of turntables, loop pedals and MPCs that has gearheads drooling in awe. The crowd tonight is lively and enthusiastic, but surprisingly sparse for such a renowned international act. The benefit of this is that the dance floor actually has some space to move, meaning no one has to resort to the all too familiar arms-up-head-nod-shuffle-dance that has to be regularly employed at packed hip hop shows.

Cut Chemist’s set tonight mixes classic hip hop joints like Sound Of The Police with music from Colombia and Brazil interspersed with classic J5 tracks and of course selections from his forthcoming album. During all of this he uses a variety of cameras to zoom in on his various feats of technical wizardry ranging from his trademark virtuoso cutting to mixing whilst operating loops via foot pedal to his fingers dancing over the MPC. Chemist is clearly a man who loves what he does and does it better than almost anyone else. Between samples he air guitars, pantomimes and lip-syncs in a manner that manages to be both adorably goofy and, when interspersed with prodigiously expert scratching, pretty damn incredible.

 

 

 

Exit Stage Zed

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If you'd like to listen to my voice as well as read my words (although I'm not sure why you would, I have to listen to my voice all the time and it's pretty damn annoying.) You can check out the new show I'm doing on 4zzz with Darragh and Jodi. Exit Stage Zed runs from 4-6pm every Saturday. We'll be focusing on playing live recordings and music from bands gigging around town each week. 

You can check out our 4zzz page here facebook here and twitter here.

Hit us up on the facebook page if you have any suggestions for live albums to play or if you want to throw us demos and such. Also 4zzz is running a drive to raise money for a new transmitter and you should probably donate between nine and ten million dollars.

BNE artist interviews #1: Erica Field

Today’s entry is part of a new monthly series where I will be interviewing artists from Brisbane. For the first installment I sit down with my good friend Erica Field as she talks about transforming herself into a boy, bleeding on stage and falling in love with the audience.

Goneril
photo: Sean Young


JD: I’ve heard it said that you hate hypothetical questions. If you had to choose
 between answering a hypothetical question and getting repeatedly hit in the face with a pillow at 5am what would you do?

EF: I would prefer being hit in the head with a pillow. 

JD: You’ve worked with a number of creatives from around Australia and overseas. Do you have an organization or show that is on your wish list?

 EF: Top of my wish list would be doing Six Women again. We had offers from various places but because we couldn’t fund it, it just never happened. I think it should be seen all over the world. Seen AND felt.  I absolutely believe in that show.

Six Women Standing In Front Of A White Wall from Little Dove Theatre Art on Vimeo.

 JD: You’ve studied and performed in Edinburgh, Berlin and all over Australia. What makes you keep coming home to Brisbane?

 EF: I just think that Brisbane is really starting to get going. I feel like there’s a generation of artists that are starting to really develop a very strong creative and  artistic voice. And I’ll be here as long as I can be part of that!

LVH003photo: Fenlan Chuang

JD: What is the weirdest theatre piece you’ve ever seen?

EF: The most full on piece that I’ve seen was by a guy called Ron Athey. Does a lot of
  stuff where he cuts himself. In this one particular piece…maybe I won’t go into it. Do you want me to?

JD: Yeah!

EF: He had all these barbs in his head and he took them out one by one so that streams of blood were pouring down his face. He smeared blood all over the set.

 JD: I can just imagine the risk assessment form for that show…

EF: And then he covered himself in a kind of milky lubricating substance and fisted himself. And then he was rained on by rock salt.

JD: Why art?

EF: What else would I do? It just makes sense to me. I guess…I don’t know how else to understand the world. Or find beauty in the world.

_DSC8683 - 2010-06-30 at 19-22-02photo: Morgan Roberts

JD: You’re well known for having a highly immersive research process for your performances. For Room 328 you dressed as a boy and during this time you started eating protein powder. What else did you do to prepare for this role?

EF: Yeah, it was different each time. The first time I didn’t quite know how to just be comfortable and for the qualities of that character to become really part of me. The first time round I just spent a lot of time wearing boy clothes and just trying to eliminate I guess all the…ah…it’s dangerous territory but ‘feminine’ things out of what I did. I spent a lot of time with Liesel Zink, who was our movement consultant, just watching the young punk kids that hang outside Rocking Horse.  Just looking at the way they behave and their movements.

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photo: Mircha Mangiacotti

JD: Your performances such as six women and room 328 tend to be interactive and participatory pieces which involve everything from being slapped by audience members to dancing with them. Do you have a favourite moment of audience interaction?

EF: Yes. One of them was a guy during the season of Six Women in Edinburgh. This guy came up to touch me and I was crying and I had a bit of snot and he wiped away the tears, stroked my face and just very, very gently put his hand on my side and then we just stood there together really close. And in that moment I thought we could be lovers. He was amazing and then he left, and I fell in love with him just a little bit. It was a very tiny moment but just the quality of it was so beautiful.

  Up-All-Night-3-copy-2

photo: Adam Sebestian West

JD: Tell us about your upcoming show the Raven. Are you going to punch anybody?

EF: I’m not going to punch anybody. BUT it’s immersive. It’s going to be a really beautiful meditation on the kind of fear of letting go, particularly of someone you’ve loved and you now need to let go of and the kind of loss and sadness that is involved with that and being alone in the world.

THE RAVEN, inspired by the works of Edgar Allen Poe, runs from the 7th until the 31st of March at Metro Arts Theatre and you should definitely go becuase it will be amazing. 

 

Regurgitator superhappyxmasfuntimes @ the Zoo reviewed for rave magazine

original article HERE

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Photo: David Burness

Regurgitator’s idiosyncratically titled SuperHappyFunTimes celebration kicks off with local group Cannons. The punk rock five-piece appear to be playing music that is intended to be a joke that regrettably isn’t very funny. Their songs are short, fast, loud and yet somehow still manage to be dreary and monotonous.

Fortunately, second act Ouch My Face manage to lift the standard dramatically from the moment they step on stage. Pint-sized singer-guitarist Celeste Potter packs an impressive size-to-attitude-ratio and commands the stage with a series of screamed vocals and angry chords. Meanwhile the rhythm section (featuring recent recruit Ben Ely on bass) holds down a tight, driving backbeat and occasional gang vocals. Their music sounds like a grenade going off in Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory; violent, chaotic and delicious.

After a brief interlude, tonight’s hosts Regurgitator step up onto a stage that they have graced countless times before. They launch straight into Blood And Spunk and then proceed to tear through a retrospective of their extensive back catalogue ranging from Tu-Plang’s I Sucked A Lot Of Cock To Get Where I Am to No Show from their recent release SuperHappyFunTimes. Tonight’s crowd is clearly comprised of long-term fans that are delighted to be able to singalong to Polyester Girl, bounce to Drop and do their best imitation of Animal from the Muppets during I Wanna Be A Nudist. Tonight’s set highlights the Gurge’s freakishly varied output, taking in everything from tongue-in-cheek hip hop to dirty punk to tongue-in-cheek synth pop and everything in between, above, underneath and slightly over to the left hand side.

The band finish up with an encore set showcasing Black Bugs and The Song Formerly Known As from their classic LP Unit, reminding us all exactly why it was recently voted one of the best Australian albums of all time.

 

 

Chali 2na at the BNE hifi reviewed for Rave magazine

original article HERE.

Chali 2na

 

Criminally underrated local act Coalition Crew are the first of four obscenely impressive lists of performers representing three different continents this evening. They deliver a solid set of tight, clever rhymes over golden era-influenced beats and bass.

Bankrupt Billionaires, a recent addition to the local scene, are next up on stage. Their soulful hip hop-influenced sounds pack a hell of a punch. Lead singer Kel Timmons has enough sass and swagger to power a small island nation, and with a little help from Laneous and Hannah Macklin, tonight the Billionaires make a real impact. Recent Triple J unearthed single Daze Of The Dead is a highlight, but their whole show is pretty much start to finish flawless.

Lotek swaggers onto stage suited and booted and backed by Rudekat Sound. By this time the whole evening feels more like an Island Vibes sampler rather than an international headliner show with a few supports. The entire assembly of the Hi-Fi, from the front of the stage to the back of the bar, is dancing and shaking like the world is about to end. Lotek’s ska/funk/soul/reggae-influenced hip hop goes down a treat, with songs like The Rudest Dude and Paid working up plenty of crowd participation.

 

 

Chali 2na and his band take the stage a little after 11pm, greeted by a crowd that is soaked in sweat and booze and smiles. His set tonight is framed around the idea of ‘Chali 2na radio’, featuring selections from his solo work and Jurassic 5 interpolated with a bizarrely diverse selection of medley covers. Classic cuts like What’s Golden? and Freedom are satisfyingly brilliant, even without the rest of J5 in tow. The backing band tonight is phenomenal, the keyboardist/vocalist showcasing an impressive falsetto and the seven-string (yes, that’s right SEVEN) bassist really brings the house down. 2na certainly knows a thing or two about crowd participation and has the audience doing everything from clapping to introducing themselves to strangers to playing Simon Says (which turns out to be incredibly fun when played with several hundred people and a live hip hop band). The one problem with the two-hour-long ‘radio show’ format is that it leans a little towards the self-indulgent side, mixing in sections from Rock Lobster and playing a huge selection of little known songs detracts from what could otherwise be a near perfect shorter set. That said, however, when you see a guy crowd surfing in a wheelchair, you know something good is going on.


Bright Eyes @ the BNE Hifi reviewed for Rave magazine

 

Just a quick sidenote: If any crazed stalker fan wanted to murder Connor Oberst, it would be really hilarious to creep up behind him and sing the line "turn around bright eyes…" from this song before getting all Charlie Manson. Original article HERE.


Bright-eyes

The Hi-Fi – Thu Nov 17

Darren Hanlon’s story songs, presented here in simple format with just guitar and drums, are an excellent start to the evening. Kevin Devine, a surprise last-minute addition to the bill, launches into 30 minutes of captivating songs that are delivered in everything from a whisper to a primal scream and leaves the surprised crowd spellbound.

Connor Oberst and the accompanying six musicians that compromise the Bright Eyes cohort walk on to rapturous applause and launch straight into Four Winds. Oberst and co. present the bulk of the songs tonight in a majestic, almost gospel format, playing a slew of their better-known tracks and a few hidden gems across a massive two and a half hour set. The band gives the impression that they are having a brilliant time on stage (with the exception of the keyboardist who looks about as thrilled as a hung-over misanthrope filling out a tax return). Their performance is somewhat grandiloquent, Oberst at times getting his Bono on and reaching out to the hands of the adoring crowd, but this has never been a band to do things by halves. They close with an epic rendition of Road To Joy and an almost religious performance of One For You, One For Me.


They Will Have Their Way BNE review for rave magazine

view and comment on the original article HERE.

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Photo: Rebecca Reid

QPAC – Mon Nov 7

 

A well-dressed, predominantly middle-aged crowd takes their seats facing the massive stage backdrop of intertwined red and blue trees that looms over two drum-kits and an extensive array of instruments. Sally Seltmann opens with a haunting, loop-driven rendition of Four Seasons In One Day. Lior steps up next for Into Temptation before Clare Bowditch strides on stage to make the first use of the complete backing band tonight (two drummers, guitar, bass, keyboards). The singers who make up Seeker Lover Keeper then join her for a breath-taking interpretation of Fall At Your Feet. When you’re singing with Sarah Blasko, Holly Throsby and Sally Seltmann on back-up vocals, you know you must be doing something right.

Throughout the evening the performers seem to be absolutely reveling in the chance to be performing these timeless songs with such an incredible cast. There are a handful of by-the-book covers (like Lior’s pedestrian performance of Mean To Me) that don’t really cause much of a stir. But the real joy tonight is seeing Neil and Tim Finn’s body of work re-imagined by such incredible talent. Alexander Gow delivers an excellent rendering of I Feel Possessed, Blasko’s self-described ‘Tom Waits-y’ version of My Mistake is pure mischievous genius and Bowditch’s leading of the crowd in a mass multi-part sing-along for Better Be Home Soon is an undeniable highlight. Paul Dempsey, however, is an absolute show stealer. He gives Chocolate Cake a solid workout and his frenzied version of I See Red sees him running off stage in front of the audience like a man possessed. The full cast, complete with a total of four guitars, two drums, a slew of tambourines and a sonic wealth of voices, concludes with It’s Only Natural and Weather With You before a standing ovation brings the evening to a close.

JOSH DONELLAN