Thursday, July 25, 2013


Northcote Social Club  
Those who don't care for musicianship or dancing in their live music stay away in droves from tonight’s single launch for one of the city’s most hyped ‘new’ bands Sex on Toast. Those without prejudice however settle in for a consistently impressive night of deft chops and butt-shaking rhythms. Kicking off with more fluid noodling than Chinatown is guitarist Kumar Shome and his Punkawallahs. With source of inspiration including his cat (El Gato) and familial incontinence (Desperation Dance) Shome can basically write about anything he chooses to, you can be guaranteed he’ll express it via about 40000 notes played in around five minutes. Bouncing off the rhythmic prowess of Bamboos’ bassist Yuri Pavlinov and drummer Graeme Pogson Shome’s tone is warm and drips with sustain, while his solos take flight with John Scofield-like levity and move with a deft ease between any definable genres.

'Mid band entertainment' consists of DJ Lovely Clear Water, who is actually none of these things but is incredibly entertaining and wears a wig backwards and plastic sunnies. Hi-NRG techno and death metal vocal meets in karaoke takes on the Power Rangers theme, Toto and Lionel Richie, the crowd is content to stare agape at this

Boasting a sweet line in elegant funk and boasting a formidable vocal powerhouse in Audrey Boyle, The Do Yo Thangs are a revelation. Songwriter and drummer Hugh Rabinovici leaves the fun to Boyle and co-vocalists Nkechi Koo and Georgie Darvidis whose harmonies drive the sunshine-y funk. Like a summer festival in a band, Rabinovici’s songs have a fresh Lauren Hill/early Lenny Kravitz feel to them and the band’s glorious balance of songwriting skills, musicianship and passion really comes to life in their finest tracks; Indecisive, Make it Real and I Would Follow You. Boyle’s trumpet playing is another weapon in their funky arsenal. Highly recommended.

By the time Sex on Toast pull back the curtain after screening the film-clip for Takin' Over tonight’s launched single, the room is packed solid and chattering happily. In fact, regardless of the nine-strong eighties funk rocket taking off on stage, people chat happily throughout the set. More importantly, who knew there was this many ways to be simultaneously dapper and sexual? Singer Angus Leslie's falsetto, Louis King’s slinky guitar, Gareth Thomson and Marty Holoubek’s seductive rhythms and James Bower’s strangely sensual auto-tuned backing vocals are just the first wave of the charm offensive. With the collective confidence of a frat house and a similar agenda, Sex on Toast take Cat Empire’s conservatorium proficiency and party vibe but wind up somewhere between Prince and DiG. So insane and unpredictable are Leslie and co’s antics and so tight and funky are the songs that by the time the cross-dressers on rollerskates arrive it almost seems a continuation of a theme. Songs or rather, party jams, Potential Sexy, a storming cover of Michael Jackson’s Remember the Time and blinder of a new single Takin’ Over leave no doubt that their time has arrived.  

Sunday, July 14, 2013


Northcote Social Club 
Tonight’s lineup could have gotten Arts Victoria funding for a ‘live exploration and reassessment of masculinity and electro rock’; each act taking inspiration from looking inward and exploring what a man is in modern Australian society. Each act also happens to kick arse.

Stripping off within the opening seconds of the first song. Jonny Telafone, eyes closed, standing amidst small bursts of dry ice, occupies a bizarrely perfect balance between the seductive and the aggressively intimate. Though he seems wholly engaged when performing, the second he’s not singing his sometime-secular paeans to the spiritual and the physical, it’s like he thinks he’s invisible; swigging beer, stoking his dry ice machine, freezing in poses. It’s captivating stuff, until his final two songs Stay Strong For Me and The End in which the audience (mostly men in glasses, trimmed beards and with swept back hair) get noisy in their appreciation.

Opening with clouds of choked synth atmospheres, Standish/Carlyon's arresting set builds on crisp, distant drums and overt sexuality oozing from every plucked bass note and barely discernible vocal. In lesser hands, it would be easy for this to turn into a prematurely disappointing mess, but so confident and self-assured are these men, we’re instead privy to a seamy sub-urban pleasuredome. Focusing on the creation of mood seems to be their drive, and songs seem to explode unexpectedly. When melodies surface, as on Nono/Yoyo and Subliminally, they shine brightly. Closing song Gucci Mountain is introduced as 'A terse psychological thriller taking place over several continents', its ricochets of sparse slap bass and vocal refrain sending us to our own dark places.

Equally adept with sound and mood, and probably the only Australian act to generate more hyperbole in recent months, is Kirin J Callinan. Entering the room to silence, he arranges himself amidst two microphones, adjusts his headset microphone, and kicks into gear. Blasting us with strobes and lasers, and instantly hitting all the high-mid frequencies that Standish/Carlyon missed, opening song Halo and title track of new album Embracism is galvanizing stuff. Instantly showing us his mastery of production, Callinan is meticulous in his control of sound, unusual for a performer so associated with the unpredictable; even the humility of his banter seems designed to offset the ambition on show. Regardless of hype and filmclips, the sonic impact here is massive and brilliantly constructed. His guitar sounds are often deftly tight bursts of chaos, conversely, his voice a hoarse and often limited (perhaps due to recent overuse) instrument. Chardonnay Sean follows and allows his excellent three-piece backing band to stretch out.
Moving from furious blasts of keys and guitar as on Come on USA to near-shoegaze splendour of Victoria M. and Landslide, Callinan’s set is well-paced and seems to build to the closing epic Love Delay that leaves Callinan’s voice at its most ragged. Returning to the stage alone to display his astoundingly proficient guitar layering, he closes the set with a wave and leaves to wild cheers. Three bands with a theme, captured at exactly the right time; tonight is a gig for the time capsule.

Friday, July 5, 2013


John Curtain Hotel
Always a hard room to fill, and with wildly variable acoustics, the John Curtain is tonight host to three of Melbourne’s brightest up-and-coming bands. Though few arrive in time for the glowing opening set from the mysteriously titled Velma Grove, the nattily dressed sextet play as though it’s packed.

Boasting violin, trumpet, banjo, mandolin, harmonica and whatever else they could manage, the crowded stage is soon in throng to their chiming harmonies, whistling solos, stomping washboard-rhythms and blustering enthusiasm. Amidst songs full of Arcade Fire-like bravado, the band crack gags, call out for Band-Aids (presumably the medical not Almost Famous type), and perform with impressive confidence. Despite a proclivity to build every song to an acoustic-driven crescendo, and singing in voices that don’t always sound like their own, there is enough talent here to make their forthcoming debut album worth seeking out.

As the crowd fills the room and the chattering grows louder, Winter Moon open to a warm reception. Pushed along by nimble drumming, forcefully trebly bass and distortion-saturated guitar lines, the five-piece immediately impress. With no small boost from phenomenal singer Milly Moon - who channels Karen O and Janis Joplin while still cracking a smile – the band leap from one driving rock number to another. For all their obviously arresting qualities, flautist and vocalist Chloe Faith is the band’s secret weapon. Lending strangely soft yet piercing melodies to the furious energy the band exude, her adeptness makes a powerful counterpoint to Moon’s belting. While an occasional tendency to overplay undercuts the songs’ inherent drama, tracks like Hitting Home show the talent here is undeniable, the charisma magnetic and future success is all but inevitable.

You and the Colonies are on especially impressive form tonight. With some of the finest harmonies this side of wherever Fleet Foxes currently are, the band dispatch majestic arrangements with no pretense or grandstanding. Sounding as if they’d be equally at home at Woodford or on the bill of Pitchfork Festival, it’s hard to believe this is their first show in seven months. Songs like I See Ships and the closing If You Insist wrest attention from the packed room. Songwriters David Scarr and Tim Steers are perfect foils for each other and when the voice of Cynthia Sear joins, it’s a rare bliss.