On Tour: Machine Translations

Machine Translations/Bank Holidays/Autumn Isles
Amplifier Bar
Friday 30th September 2005
Review by Rohan Hewson

I went to see Machine Translations at the Amplifier Bar last night, and bloody hell, it was awesome. The best gig I’ve been to in a while; $13 for the ticket + $15 for beer = money well spent.

The set list:

——-
Holiday In Spain
Love On The Vine
A Ghost Rides
A Most Peculiar Place
Scretch
Miss China
Makers 1
The Real You
She Wears A Mask
Poor Circle
Walt Must Die
Venus Traps Fly
——

I got to the Amplifier at about 9pm, on a train full of people going from the Showgrounds to Northbridge. I waited around for a while, the the Autumn Isles came on. I didn’t know they were going to play, as the Bank Holidays were the only support advertised. I always love seeing them, they play great songs; especially ‘Drastic Change’, ‘Piece of Your Mind’ (if that’s its real name) and the mostly instrumental piece they did at the beginning. Unfortunately this was Erik the guitarist / keyboardist’s last gig with them… I hope they find someone else quick and come back soon.

Erik got a (hopefully) unintentional sendoff just after the set finished… the fire alarm went off and the automatic fire doors slid shut. The loud siren went on for a few minutes, but nothing else happened; with the intermittent rain through the night, I’d be surprised if there was a fire anywhere. After those fun and games, the Bank Holidays came on. I like the Banks, but tonight they seemed a bit flat. I was tired, very tired, and that might had something to do with it, but I don’t think they’re as much fun as they used to be. ‘Tread Easy’ is still a great song though. I watched them for a bar stool up the back; I was very tired all night, the bite back from too much caffeine inspired wakefulness during the week. The Autumn Isles had that special something that made me stand up there (or at least lean on a pillar), the Bank Holidays just didn’t tonight. It’s a pity, I quite like them.

After a bit of a wait, and no fire sirens, Machine Translations came on. The main singer and songwriter in the band is J Walker, but some of the other players were better or at least more interesting than him, especially the shit hot guitarist with the 70’s porno hairdo. The first song they played was ‘Holiday In Spain’, a bit of an oldie, but second up… ‘Love On The Vine’. If there’s a more beautiful song realeased in the last couple of years then I haven’t heard it; they could have played it all night for all I cared. I was mesmerised. After that was ‘A Ghost Rides’, one of the songs off their new EP ‘Wolf On A String’, and then an incredible 15 minute improv version of ‘A Most Peculiar Place’. The song sounded a lot different from on ‘Happy’, and wasn’t as delicate, but then there was 10 minutes of quite intense instrumental jamming that completely left the recorded version of the song behind. Incredible.

They played a couple more songs off their new EP, and also ‘Scretch’ off their last full-length album, ‘Venus Traps Fly’. Someone in the crowd yelled out, ‘Play Amnesia!’ J said no, they weren’t doing that one tonight, and they played another oldie off the ‘Holiday In Spain’ album, which faded into ‘She Wears A Mask’. On the album Happy, ‘Mask’ is a beautiful pop song; live, its effect is diluted somewhat, due to distortion and other fun stuff that happens when you play live. I was singing along anyway because I love the song but I’m not sure what somebody who was hearing the song for the first time.

J did the next song solo (complete with someone yelling out for ‘Tinsel Town’). He didn’t do that one, said something about the last time he played it being a disaster, but he played another song off ‘Bad Shapes’ instead – ‘Poor Circle’. The band came on again for the last two songs, ‘Walt Must Die’, another song off ‘Bad Shapes’ that’s not so unpleasant as the title might make you think, actually quite a nice song; and they finished the night with ‘Venus Traps Fly’.

Machine Translations played plenty of old stuff at this gig, off their last four albums. That’s the advantage of a tour to support an EP rather that a full-length album; there aren’t so many new songs to play and that makes room for the good old ones. Some of the songs sounded quite different than on record, but they still sounded pretty good, with flashes of absolute brilliance (‘Love On The Vine’ and ‘Walt Must Die’ particularly). And there weren’t so many people there that it was uncomfortable. Now that’s the advantage to liking music that doesn’t get played on commercial radio.

Now if only I had another $20. I’m betting the Norfolk show’ll be just as good, possibly a bit more intimate than the Amplifier. Ah well…

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Cd Review: Sic Squared Live CD


Sic Squared Sessions Volume One
Review by Brooke Anderton

Out of the three bands, I preferred Subtruck. Their smacky drum rhythms and sexy guitar riffs are catchy and have grunt. Some great, angry and also playful, sounding tunes. There are variations in speed and timing and pauses to make song structure interesting, but don’t break the flow and they don’t drag each variation out too long which is good. I like that you can hear Phil Bradley’s Australian accent. The drum, guitar and bass parts are different enough and similar enough in places to keep the music intellectually stimulating. I would like a little bit more singing, but this band does have a sense of knowing who they are and it works well.

Headshot has some great lyrics and the syncopated guitar riffs are awesome. There is a lot of drama and build up and the recording sounds in places like it has a “hollow room” feel about it. The vocal chanting style is a little bit boring after a while; there is not enough variation in pitch and rhythm in the vocals for my musical tastes. I just felt like I was being yelled at. Shame, because I really like the lyrics and the riffs have the rockingness of Rage Against the Machine. Technically, very talented musicians.

The most melodic of the three, is Heavy Weight Champ. Their chord progressions and vocals are haunting. Grant has opera potential with that upper register! (No, seriously, he has fantastic projection when singing those high notes) I couldn’t get over the lower stuff though, I hate it when people who are Australian sing with an American accent and there was a touch of that that annoyed me. The changeovers from softer to heavy sections seemed a little repetitive and this meant that some songs dragged on a little too long for me. But the chorus from Breach has been stuck in my head and that is a good sign. Love the emotional stuff!

On Tour: Josivac


Down South with Josivac

Reviews by Leo Abbs
Photography by Danielle Griffin

Friday 23rd September
Prince of Wales Hotel, Bunbury

The night before the grand final was always going to be a hard gig for an original band in a town like Bunbury, with most people having an early one in preparation for the big game and associated schnegians the following day.

Speaking of the Football, Nigel, the drummer from Josivac a diehard dockers fan, walked onto stage to realise someone had played a practical joke on him by placing the letters ‘WCE’ on the front of his bass drum.

It turned out to be a very casual set for Josivac tonight and it had plenty of improvisation thrown into the mix, mainly on the behalf of guitarist Simon and his multi fix pedal. The wah pedal in particular was used frequently during the night and it gave the impression at times that Josivac were more of a funk band.

While it was good to see the band play 2 sets of original songs, (bar 2 covers) it may have been appropriate to have a few more covers. It was good however to see Jodie talking more between songs which is normally left to Novac and when you have two lead singers, it’s important that one doesn’t dominate.

While not the best Josivac gig ever, and a pisspoor turnout, the band had fun on stage. Perhaps if they had flogged the idea that they were launching the cd tonight a little more they wouldhave sold a few more cds.

Saturday 24th September
Cape Wine Bar, Dunsbrough

Novac described this venue when signing a poster after the show ‘The Cape Wine Bar is the classiest venue in the South West’ and I reckon that’s a good description of this venue. Well worth a visit when you’re in Dunsbrough.

A very narrow room, the band area is out in the small courtyard, with no stage. Josivac’s show tonight was different to the previous night. A quieter ‘acoustic’ affair it was perfect for the setting. Unfortunately for the first two sets, it was largely unappreciated, but just when the last set could have been potentially playing to bar staff, a decent crowd showed up and the few people who had been there all night, got up and danced.

In a weekend where they were overshadowed by Footy, it was a great way for the band to finish Saturday Night. They sold a few cds as well.

Live Review: Kav Temperley @ The Norfolk Basement

Kav Temperley / Steve Parkin / Leena / Paul Wood
Norfolk Basement
Thursday 22nd September 2005
Review by Leo Abbs

The Norfolk Basement is fast becoming a popular spot for Freo music fans as there has been great lineups of late. Tonight was no exception, an acoustic lineup headlined by Kav Temperley from Eskimo Joe.

Woody (Paul Wood from Red Jezebel) was playing when I came down the stairs into the venue. Perched on a stool, He quietly made his way through his set. I couldn’t but help think of his early days in Red Jez, with his high pitched girly sounding vocals and compare it to the present where his voice with age was considerable deeper. As far as his music went I didn’t see enough of Woody to have a strong opinion in fact it felt a bit boring but my German Friend Jan seemed to like it.

Leena was the next performer and the immediate difference was noted when she chose to stand. An energetic performer, she has been gigging frequently around town of late and this experience showed tonight in a strong performance. She has a liking to explain the songs, and when one of them finishes by her saying ‘that song nearly makes me cry’ it makes the listener appreciate the effort she puts into her songs. Her lyrics and guitar playing is simple but the honesty she puts into her performance is worth seeing.

‘I’m playing scotch and dry interpretations of the songs from my album tonight’

Was what Steve Parkin said to the crowd after his first song. Steve has a lot of charisma on stage and watching him solo is a great way to hear his work. He introduced himself as ‘Thirsty Steve’ and took a sip of his drink and then played ‘golf ball on the moon’. Could someone explain what that song is about?

He is sounding a lot less like the Beatles these day and more, Parkin like. Lyricwise he has some interesting point of views about the world and even when chooses to cover songs he gives them his own stamp.

Kav was dressed in a Skeleton top tonight which was ironic as tonight he would be exposing the bare bones of the new Eskimo Joe songs. I expected all the songs to be new tracks, but he played 4 songs off ‘A Song is a City’ opening with ‘Come Down’.

Armed with a fantastic voice, it’s great to see he and his band ditched the joke band idea long ago as the songs are so much better these days. When he introduced one of the new songs, he also invited the two other members of his band, Joel and Stu to join him. So we were treated to Eskimo Joe unplugged for only six bucks.

Some of the possible new album tracks played tonight were ‘New York’, ‘Pressure’ (co written with friends in the Freo music scene), ‘Suicide girl’ and ‘Black Fingernails, red wine’. The night finished off with Steve Parkin joining Mr Temperley for a rendition of ‘Car Crash’.

Once again, a fantastic way to spend a Thursday night at the Norfolk.

Live Review: ‘Lost Highway’ gig @ Rosemount

‘Lost Highway’ Showcase
The Rosemount

Sunday 25th September 2005
Review By Dylan McArdle

I went along to the “Lost Highway” showcase night at Rosemount on Sunday. Not often do I walk out of a gig really surprised, but tonight I did – surprised because all three acts I saw were of the highest quality.

I unfortunately missed all but the end of Andrew Ewing’s set, so the first band that filled my senses were Schvendes. Sporting a strange name and a very retro and unique look about them, I was keen to check them out, though they failed to impress last time.

Not sure what has changed in three weeks, maybe a better set list or maybe just better acoustics – but tonight I was captivated for most of the 40 minute set. It seems that Rachael Dease has a great voice and stage presence too, and tonight that was put to good use. She’s been labelled as overpowering, but I think it’s just plain powerful…I wasn’t quite sure how she held some of the notes without turning blue in the face. I don’t know the name of the second last song in the set, but it was way more upbeat then the rest (with a great guitar line) and it showed they had some variety in the set list. It was quite a shame that there weren’t more punters there to watch on.

The big voices continued when One Horse Town took the stage. I’ve raved about this band before and once again they didn’t disappoint. There was still a smallish crowd, though towards the end of the set they got more vocal (and more appreciative). There’s not much to say I haven’t said already, but I do like the newer tracks “Information”, “On the Patch” etc where there is more keyboard influence. Yes, as Sascha promised, they did stuff up their new track, but I DO like to see bands adding fresh, new tracks to their setlist. I was glad they managed to squeeze one more song into the set, as “Holiday” (no resemblance to the old Madonna track) is one of my favourites that the band haven’t yet recorded. It really makes me want to tap my feet to the beat…“na na na, na na na na, na na

Once the Kill Devil Hills got on stage, the crowd was of a decent size, presumably they’d all flooded in from the beer garden. It was a night of unique acts, and Kill Devil Hills are probably as unique as they come. A six piece with a violinist and a banjo/mandolin player, they are a strangely infectious country rock sound. It may not sound recipe for popularity, but tonight they had a decent turnout.

There’s actually quite a lot to like about the band…they have good vocals (and the guitarist and drummer both take turns at lead vocals) and the violin adds quite a lot to their sound (once they turned the violin up). Having the drummer stand up gave the drums a much more “powerful” sound and as Leo has said before “Drinking Too Much” with the drummer singing, is the most memorable of their tunes. The whole atmosphere from the set felt like I was at a Saturday night dance, as there were people jumping around and twirling arm-in-arm.

Cd Review: One Horse Town – Information


One Horse Town – ‘Information’ Single
Review By Dylan McArdle

Information is the new single from One Horse Town. It’s been out a couple of months and it’s a great release. I bought both this and their original, self-titled release at the same time, and you can see the progression of the band between the two releases.

The bass is bassier, the drums are more prevalent and the keyboard more noticeable and spontaneous too. In fact it’s the use of keyboard that sets this release apart from the first EP. Not that the original release is poor, it’s just this one is better and the band seem more confident in the sound they want to achieve…it is a more “fuller” sound. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I really love Sascha Ion’s voice and guitar.

I guess the biggest shame is that there are only two tracks on this disc. I am really looking forward to more from this band in the near future.