CD Review: Birds of Tokyo

Birds of Tokyo – Stay/One Way (single)
Review by Leo Abbs

When I reviewed the Birds of Tokyo EP last year I concluded by saying that they were either going to take their songs to the next level or turn really bland.

Now some would disagree, but I believe this taken to a higher level of songwriting compared to their previous release. It opens with ‘One Way’ and even though you’re perhaps confused what one way is about (it’s a love song) and the guitar might make you yawn if you’re a dream theater fan, the vocals and melodies carry this tune well.

The problem with double A sides, is that one is always better. In this case ‘Stay’ is the stronger of the two. This easily could find itself on commercial radio and stay (boom tish) there for a long time.

The final track is one of those acoustic tunes that will mostly like turn up on the album anyway in electric mode, but for now it’s a soppy tune about a relationship falling to bits. Still it’s a good one. Rose is the name of the person, not what Kenny is giving someone, right?

All in all, this is a quality release.

Interview: College Fall

College Fall
Interview by Leo Abbs

So Jodie, what do you know about the world, now you are leaving your home for a big trip?

Well I guess the question is what am I going to learn about the world as I endeavour to travel around Europe for four months!! There are going to be so many valuable experiences and so many wonderful places to visit. But I must say I am very ready to be embarking on such a journey – I have been quite settled in Perth for the last five years playing in josivac and college fall/showbag and have been bursting to experience such hard core traveling overseas as this!

Glenn, what is your favourite college fall lyric and what is it about?

I don’t like to play favourites Leo… but if forced at gun point I’d say it is from the track “This Direction” – “We greet the new year with a red wine, I’ll meet you here at the same time, next year” – it’s a line that I think people with a tendency to cloud their pain with alcohol, will relate to.

Jodie, what is your favourite college fall lyric and what is it about?

My favourite at the moment (it changes!) is from our song ‘Gravity’
‘When I said I love you, I meant do you love me?’ because it’s a simple line but it says so much.

Both: How do you write your songs? Is there a set process?

The beauty of creativity for us means that there is no process. All our songs are created by inspiration, of our own lives and what we see around us in the crazy little world. We both write religiously (probably over 200 songs this year so far) and the songs that we are happy with tend to get the ‘royal treatment’ where we analyse them and re-analyse them until they sound brilliant and unique to us.

Glenn, if someone wrote a song about you, what would it be called and it’s theme?

Jodie’s written a few about me… so I suppose the song “Closer” which is coming out on the new album sums my last few years up… well from another person’s point of view any way!

Jodie, where in Europe are you most looking forward to playing? And visiting as a tourist?

I think playing in Scandinavia is going to be great. Some of the festival shows we have booked are going to be wonderful and such a great place to meet other bands and musicians. But I think the most interesting thing for me personally is the opportunity to visit my family in Italy (which I have never met before). I am going to see the small village my family originated from so that will be very exciting. I hear it is extremely old and historic and still quite primitive!

Glenn, what is your favourite College Fall/showbag memory? Actually give me your top 3.

Geez that is hard…. There are plenty mate… Last nights farewell at the Hyde Park sticks in my mind for obvious reasons… but given that it is so fresh and that I don’t have the benefit of hindsight to put that night in perspective… my top 3 is:

1 – Recording the college fall album. The only reason I am in a band is to release an immense creative pressure valve that is always tempting to explode in my head… Getting to spend three weeks in a studio recording an album that I believe is my finest achievement was truly incredible. And getting to share it with Jodie made it just unbelievable.

2 – the Showbag album launch and national tour with the mountain goats… In many way’s it was the best and worst time of my life. So many things were fabulous but so much went wrong which was heart-breaking. As time goes by though the memories are becoming sweeter, there is something amazing about being with your best mates playing shows and then getting to sit back and watch one of your favourite acts of all time play with you. I learnt so much from that tour and it basically inspired the creation of college fall and the up-coming European tour.

3 – Showbag’s first gig at the Loft way back in 1999. We were scared shitless… and Mike Wafer from X-Press was coming down to review it aaarrrggh! None of us knew Mike but we had heard about him having a penchant for scathing bands and being our first show we were sure he’d make sure we never would play in this town again! Being young and impressionable it was like playing to an audience of 100,000. As it turned out Mike loved us and gave us a glowing review saying “best band in Perth for ten years” or something equally as sensationalised! Thank god he did though because it really set us up in Perth. I’ve had an on-going love affair with Mikey ever since.

Jodie, tell me a little about the album. How did the recording go and what is the inspiration behind the album. Is there a concept like the last one?

The recording process was fabulous! We worked with producer/engineer Michael Carpenter in Sydney (who we worked with on the Showbag album) and we have such a great working relationship that the whole experience just thrived. Glenn and I were both more confident with the process and creating that we really feel like this album is the best thing we have created so far.

We are planning on naming the album ‘Eleven Letters’ because all of the tracks are based on a series of letters written between Glenn and myself that have inspired us to write these songs. They tell a story of two lovers apart who are somewhat sad and heartbroken.

Glenn, How many of the college fall songs are personal and how many fictional?

Well I pour my heart and soul into my music. Writing songs that are personal and honest is something that I need to do in order to keep kind a level headed and happy in day to day life – so the simple answer is that all of the songs are personal. There are moments of metaphorical imagination but they all come from a place of inherent truth.

Jodie, what’s the best part about being in a band?

I have wanted to be in a band and be a singer for as long as I can remember so the reality that I am actually in two bands is quite special to me. The best part I would have to say is the writing and recording of music. The actual creating is so amazing for me. The next best thing is the wonderful friendships I have made in josivac and the partnership I have made with Glenn from College Fall.

Glenn, is it true that you are fussy about the beer you drink? If so, why?

VEGAN VEGAN VEGAN. One day when I am rich and famous I am going to start a new country in the middle of WA and call it Vegan… (I might hyphenate it or put one of those French squiggly lines above the a to make it sound more exotic!) There will only be beer on sale there that does not contain fish enzymes. I will be the president and my good mate Gav (he’s just a vego but that still qualifies!) will be the secretary of state. Jodie will humbly sit in the back-ground but in reality she will be running the entire show! Only vegan bands can play in our town… and all vegans can come watch for free (non-vegans will have to pay $50 and be only allowed a six hour visa). The first concert will include college fall, magic dirt and frenzal rhomb… there will be tofu aplenty at that show!

Jodie, what are the differences of being in college fall compared with josivac?

Well, it is a really different experience working with different people. Each person has a unique style when creating so it makes for a new experience.

Glenn, Is there going to be a lead single off the album? What’s the story behind it?

We don’t know yet… Before we release we are waiting for a multi-national conglomerate record label to come and take over the band, change our hair and clothes, make us re-record the album to sound more like the arctic monkeys, lobotomise us, and then force us to tour with a whole bunch of ‘lets all play the same riff’ emo-pop bands until we are so suicidal that we both top ourselves. Only then will the first single finally come out to multi-million sales upon which our family will receive a bill for the costs of re-production and re-mastering of the record.

We haven’t decided yet but I think it might be “Built An Empty Home” which was the last song we played at our farewell show last night.

Both: Where are you headed in Europe and where are you playing?

We are heading to the UK first up and will be playing a series of pub and café gigs around London, Manchester, Brighton, Plymouth, Cornwall, Oxford, and Liverpool. Then we head to Scandinavia for some festival shows and some more intimate shows too. After that it’s down to Germany, France, Spain and Italy.

We are hoping to release quite soon after we return from Europe. Maybe a single in November, album in January…

Next Big Thing 2006

NEXT BIG THING EXTENDS CALL FOR ENTRIES DEADLINE!

The deadline for entries in WA?s richest and best band competition – The Next
Big Thing – has been extended!!

YOU NOW HAVE UNTIL MAY 24!!

The Next Big Thing, presented by Healthway and Drug Aware, has been scouring the
state for the Next Big Thing in original music.

NBT has kick-started the careers of numerous WA artists. Previous winners
include the mighty John Butler, Snowman and Fourth Floor Collapse. Last years
finalists are already getting spun on radio stations across the nation.

This year?s prizes are worth over $60,000! All heat winners get two days with
a professional record producer PLUS one day FREE recording at Satellite
Recording Studio AND a song included on the Next Big Thing Compilation CD.

The state winner gets a career ?Starter Pack? including
? Guaranteed gigs at the BIG DAY OUT, WAMIs and RTRFM?s IN THE PINES
? PLUS more free recording at Satellite Recording Studio
? CD production and distribution
? A music video clip produced by www.nextworldstudios.com
? Media promotion package including photos, website, RTR & Xpress promo
? Insurance coverage from Action insurance

The Next Big Thing (WA) 2006 is open to all original bands and solo muso?s of
any musical style! To enter you must be able to play 20 minutes of original
music and not be signed to a major record deal.

Sound too easy? It is! Grab an ENTRY FORM available inside Groove Magazine, at
WAM or at music stores around the state. Or download one from our website
www.nextbigthing.net.au

For further information contact Ali (Marketing) 0424 362 661, Andrea (Events)
0439 945 698 or Antonella (Regional) 0414 070 680 or email us at
info@nextbigthing.net.au

Cd Review: Dusk

Dusk – Fragile Escape/ Butterflies EP
Review by Leo Abbs

The debut EP from dusk is a close reflection of the current Blues’n’Roots sound. Which is both a positive and negative. The songs are well written, but seem to be too familiar, not straying too far from the style. Each track is helped by the variety of extra instruments with lap steel guitar, harmonica and trumpet, changing from song to song. Overall the playing on the cd is of a decent quality.

A highlight of the 5 track EP is the second song ‘butterflies’ one of the two lead tracks of the disc (which comes across more as a double A side). However the chorus seems to lack the punch it could have, leaving the track to fall short of being a great single, and instead, just sounding nice. Which is a common theme throughout the disc.

One point the band puts across well is a love of the genre. There’s no particular artist that you could compare dusk to, but at the same time, it’s a recording of a band that hasn’t quite found it’s own unique sound yet. With more influences in the music and some hard work, Dusk could well reach their potential and produce something of a higher level.

Cd Review: Homocides

Homocides – Give Some More…Cd
Blazing Strumpet Records
Review by Leo Abbs

I tend to hate punk music. I generally dislike the singing, and usually find the guitar playing pretty average and the songs short, fast and uninteresting. So when I got sent the homocides cd I went ‘meh’ and added it to my pile of cds that will be reviewed one day.

One day I decided to give it a go. After all, short cds take less time to listen to and review. As I listened to it, it appeared very raw and rock’n’roll, (as opposed to just a punk sound) a bit of which I don’t mind

Starting with the song that the ‘press release’ recommended listening to – ‘Lipstick’. While the verse was nothing special, the chorus was memorable and catchy
‘I can tell by your lipstick,
I can tell your lipstick
you’ve been fucking up,
fucking around’

(Please excuse me, if they aren’t the exact words.)

Elsewhere on the disc, ‘I’m on drugs’ standout merely for the fact it’s not just a flat out assault, as the vocals come across warped – obviously to reflect that drugged out feeling. Also,‘red room’ (apparently a tale about the band room at the Hydey?), comes across as one of the better tracks.

Overall, The Homicides is the kind of group if you stumbled across them playing live at a pub, you’d probably enjoy it, in the right frame of mood, but this cd didn’t quite meet the ‘would I buy this?’ standard for me.