ALBUM REVIEW: STONEFIELD – SELF-TITLED

STONEFIELD

Ever since they won Triple J’s Unearthed High in 2010 the four gorgeous Findlay sisters known as Stonefield (and previously Iotah) have had to face their fair share of criticism over their image and being discounted as a “teenage gimmick”. The quartet was surrounded by lots of hype as the band is made up of four sisters who range in age from being teenagers to in their early twenties. They also got to play Glastonbury festival quite early but they do have the talent to back it all up. On their eponymous, debut record they continue to thumb their noses at their detractors as they offer one solid and promising effort.

The album was 12 months in the making and was produced by Ian Davenport (Band Of Skulls). The ten tracks feature a darker sound than the music offered on their previous EPs. These young women also dig deep on this effort by describing the transition they’ve either made or are making from being children to adults. Once again, they are making old-school, seventies inspired psychedelic and rock sounds with an added modern twist. It means they can hold their own alongside the retro leanings of bands like The Strokes, Jet and Wolfmother.

“C’Mon” is a song that could’ve appeared on either of their EPs. It also sounds like it could’ve been written by Deep Purple because loud, crashing drums are coupled with a big, organ sound and a dirty, killer guitar riff. It ensures that things open with a bang and this energy also carries through into “Love You Deserve”. The latter is a catchy number that teases the listener while also offering copious amounts of wisdom and perspective. It’s about realising the need for self-respect and growth and how you should ultimately trust your instinct.

Their first single, “Put Your Curse On Me” is easily their best track. It features Melbourne’s Mass Gospel Choir and is some powerful, Aussie rock. Its biggest drawcard is front woman, Amy Findlay’s powerful vocals. In some ways Findlay is like Suze Demarchi in that she can hold her own amongst a loud band by rocking and rolling and she can also show raw emotion when she needs to.

The girls don’t just create head-banging tunes. On “To The Mountains” they show a greater sense of maturity as they explore the pop genre in more depth and craft something that has a few things in common with Fleetwood Mac (who they’ll shortly be supporting). It’s also about realising and learning about what’s important in life and placing a greater emphasis on this rather than what’s trendy at any given moment.

“Diggin’ My Way Out” is also a little more experimental. In this song these lovely ladies journey like The Doors into the desert and then segue off into space. It’s a quieter sound and a vibe that is also replicated at the beginning of “To Whom It May Concern”.

Stonefield know how to write a decent tune and even at their age, they have the musical smarts not to go and create an album that’s just a grab-bag of beats, riffs and harmonies. Their debut effort will not win any prizes for its simple and repetitive lyrics but the intensity of their live sound compensates for the holes that exist in this regard. The group are ultimately so young and so talented and have created one helluva album that’s best played loud, because its sheer feistiness, power and organic energy hints at even more good times to come from the family Findlay.

Originally published on 24 October 2013 at the following website: http://lifemusicmedia.com/album-review-stonefield-stonefield-debut-album/

Visit Life Music Media’s homepage at: http://lifemusicmedia.com

ALBUM REVIEW: GEORGIA FAIR – TRAPPED FLAME

georgia-fair-trapped-flame

The fact that Sydney duo, Georgia Fair sound like a bunch of young Americans is hardly a new or revelatory observation. On their debut album they impressed fans and critics alike with their folk and Americana sounds. On their sophomore record, Trapped Flame, there are some aspects that appear to be cut from the same cloth while other musical elements are new and ultimately rewarding.

The boys recorded in LA at East West Studios on Sunset Boulevard. It’s quite possible that this change of scenery along with working with producer, Ted Hutt (Dropkick Murphys, Gaslight Anthem) made them make a more raw and rocky album. This was certainly the vision the duo had initially because they have described how they wanted things to be really raw but still beautiful and focused in various articles. A lot of this work involved stripping away the musical fat; or retaining minimal instrumentation, which despite a lack of layers still sounds rather full.

“Gloria” opens the proceedings and is not a giant leap away from their old sound. It is almost hymn-like with its repeated title forming a refrain while the guitars are distorted and take their cues from Neil Young’s “Southern Man”. Single, “Love Me Free” boasts the kind of harmonies that Boy & Bear and Mumford & Sons do so well. But the music also soars to a Ben Lee-esque mantra of sorts, consider: “I am love/I am free/I am me”.

The pair boasts their fair share of quieter moments on this record, which allows the listener to have moments of intense contemplation. A perfect example of this is “The River” where you can imagine the two artists with their mates in a big group staring intently at the embers of a campfire. This gentle hush doesn’t always work though, because “Old Friend” is painfully slow, whiny and languid in its attempts to be an epic, piano ballad.

Trapped Flame sees the boys diverge somewhat off the well-worn, indie folk track. It means they go on an expressive journey where their ultimate goal is to get us to heal when we were pained and to live and party through some rocking moments. At times this makes for energetic and jangly listening, before they strip it all back to the core feeling, heart and soul.

Jordan Wilson and Ben Riley have seized the best live moments at times on this record and on other occasions they soothe us with a sound that’s not unlike modern, indie folk bands and troubadour singer-songwriters that are immensely popular.

Ultimately, this sophomore album is a love letter to the boys’ American influences and strikes a good balance between the moments where you have to dance and those other times where you’re forced to stop and think.

Originally published on 23 October 2013 at the following website: http://thedwarf.com.au/album_review/17186/trapped-flame

Visit The Dwarf’s homepage at: http://www.thedwarf.com.au/

ALBUM REVIEW: ALEX LLOYD – URBAN WILDERNESS

Urban-Wilderness aLEX LLOYD

It has been five years since Alex Lloyd released a solo album but in that time he had a break like John Lennon. He was busy caring for his brood of children (he now has four) and was busy writing music for other acts (like Passenger) plus producing and working on soundtracks (including collaborating with the Pigram Brothers for the Mad Bastards OST). This period – like much of his career – has been a rich and varied one and this is also the most striking element on his sixth studio record.

Urban Wilderness was written in a piecemeal fashion with one of the tracks dating back as far as 2008. It covers his time spent living abroad in Queens Park in the UK and his return home to the Central Coast in 2012. The title hints at being lost in a sea of uncertainty and this is reflective of Lloyd’s initial mindset with regards to returning to solo music. This changed though, when he shared his demos with artist and producer, Shane Nicholson (who is famous for his collaborations with his then-wife, Kasey Chambers). Nicholson pushed Lloyd and insisted that he had an album and the rest is all history.

Lloyd would also enlist the help of some other famous friends including Declan Kelly for the groovy, “Good Thing” (a song about a man who takes leave but doesn’t realise his sweetheart still cares for him). Drummer, Josh Schubert (Josh Pyke) also contributes here along with Jim Moginie on the guitars. Kasey Chambers also appears on the duet, “Honestly”, a melancholy and lovelorn song where Lloyd apparently paid her in butter.

When Alex Lloyd first won over critics and fans with his stellar debut, Black The Sun, he looked at embracing new technologies and pairing this with traditional instruments. This is hinted at on some of the 12 songs here, but there is also an expansion of his core sound. It makes for rather varied output, meaning Lloyd can flirt with a country twang on one song; then do a loud and proud soul number in between moments of pure pop, blues and contemplative folk tunes.

Alex Lloyd knows a thing or two about experimenting with sounds and the best example of this is in “Black Cat”. It uses the Black The Sun approach by coupling some polished rock swagger with fuzz and an alien-like voice. This means there are punchy moments that could make it pass for a Regurgitator song and other times where it’s more like José González’s band, Junip. “Waterfall” is some groovy pop mixed with soul and soaring vocals, which makes it resemble Dan Sultan’s work, before there’s a return to form with some Crowded House-inspired pop on “Bring It On”.

There’s the gentle piano ballad, “Wait Too Long Song” before Lloyd sings a hooky refrain to a reggae melody on a crystalline island in “One Trick Pony”. On “Anie” Lloyd decides to take a different approach yet again, this time writing from a woman’s perspective, just as Alexander Gow from Oh Mercy did in what is ultimately a chiming pop track. There are also moments where Lloyd plays it safe and doesn’t divert too far from the well-trodden singer-songwriter route like in “Turn the Light On”.

Urban Wilderness is a varied affair which means there are moments where it feels more like a compilation or soundtrack than a solo artist’s album. It’s obvious that Alex Lloyd has matured and been affected by a change of scenery and perspective and this has coloured his work, even if the main aim was to continue writing heartfelt songs about his family and love in general. Lloyd crowd-funded this album because he wanted to have complete creative control and this has seen him open his wings and flourish because at it’s best Urban Wilderness is like the greatest elements of human nature, it’s confident, unpredictable and full of purpose and emotion.

Originally published on 22 October 2013 at the following website: http://lifemusicmedia.com/album-review-alex-lloyd-urban-wilderness/

Visit Life Music Media’s homepage at: http://lifemusicmedia.com

THEATRE REVIEW: DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS @ THEATRE ROYAL, SYDNEY (FROM 17.10.2013)

dirty-rotton-scoundrels

In 1988 the film, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels was a box office smash thanks to its leading funny men, Steve Martin and Michael Caine. It’s unsurprising that the stage adaptation has also been successful. It has been nominated for 11 Tony Awards including best musical. It’s also been viewed as a hilarious riot that is as funny as the film version and Sydney’s production at the Theatre Royal is no exception.

The story is set on the French Riviera in the small town of Beaumont sur Mer and stars two conmen. There’s the suave and sophisticated, Lawrence Jamieson (Tony Sheldon who brings a newfound, camp-quality to the role) who meets his match in small-time crook, Freddy Benson (Hugh Hetherington who evokes Steve Martin beautifully). They say if you can’t beat them, then join ‘em and initially the latter character is instructed by the former in learning the “art of the con”. But the two will eventually fight it out and bet on who can get $50,000 from the young, soap heiress, Christina Colgate and the loser will be forced to leave town.

The musical is a battle of wits and is true to the movie in that it retains the funniest jokes, like the scene with the socially-challenged, Ruprecht asking to go to the bathroom; Benson being examined (read: hit) by his rival/Dr. Emil Shuffhausen and the My Fair Lady-like makeover and transformation of Benson. The stage version also explores some minor characters in more depth, like the policeman, Andre Thibault (ably played by John Wood with a French accent) and another one of the Prince’s victims, Muriel Eubanks (Anne Wood who is also a very strong thread in this story).

The writers, Jeffrey Lane and David Yazbeck have done an excellent job with the original material by Dale Launer, Stanley Shapiro and Paul Henning. The best jokes are delivered and woven in well with the plot, while newer and more contemporary quips are also offered (in both song and in lines). These include digs at Donald Trump, Lady Gaga’s meat dress and a hovercraft, giving it a more modern slant.

The first act is the stronger of the two as it introduces all of the characters (the cast on-stage on Saturday night totalled 22). Many of these actors also sang and danced in an ensemble along with an 18-strong orchestra conducted by Guy Simpson. The pacing of the show was fast and the energy was high. The colour, flamboyance and visuals were perfect and hooked you in along with the excellent writing and left you questioning what was going to happen (if you hadn’t already seen the film).

The second half of the musical was a little more padded and focused on the power battles and struggles between Jamieson and Benson. The lead actors were excellent; Katrina Retallick was as American as apple pie in depicting the southern belle and oil heiress, Joelene Oakes. Amy Lehpamer had one of the more difficult jobs and she played Colgate as a sweet young thing where butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth. The actors occasionally broke down the fourth wall, making asides to the audience that also helped draw people in. The best example of this was when Anne Wood paused and asked, “Is there anybody else?” during her song, “What Is A Woman To Do?”

The play was colourful. The backdrop was a crystal, blue sky with interiors and exteriors added as necessary. Some aspects of the set also served dual purposes, including the stairs that doubled as a balcony. The proceedings were also quite over-the-top, which suited the story, so if a prop like a pot plant had to be shifted, it was done in the most grandiose of gestures (like being swept away when the ensemble were dancing in all sorts of different costumes including ladies as maids, men in suits, cowboys and cowgirls, showgirls and general holidaymakers).

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is a large and funny play that is the exact opposite of a shrinking violet. The songs and dialogue are loud and fill up every inch of the room while the sets and costumes are a visual feast in that they’re colourful and flamboyant. Along with the excellent writing which boasted so many witticisms and observations, this particular trip to the Riviera proved a delightful and hilarious romp, lead by some of the most charming scoundrels you’ll ever encounter.

LIVE REVIEW: DIESEL & TIM CHAISSON @ THE BASEMENT (11.10.2013)

DISEL TIM

Diesel, aka Mark Lizotte, has got to be one of this country’s most versatile artists. Earlier this year, he entertained a large crowd at Stone Music Festival with a greatest hits set. At the Vanguard a month later, he was pairing these same songs back and throwing in some quieter covers for a solo show. And by October, Diesel was at The Basement launching his 13th solo album, with a band that featured his daughter and an artist he’d recently produced.

Tim Chaisson was – like at his Vanguard show – the support for the evening. He has also recently collaborated with Diesel for the Last Shower EP. Chaisson was yet again an excellent choice of support as he played a selection of solo songs and others he’d written with his band, The Trews. The music was mainly of the folk variety and there were a few sweet songs about love, including “Wherever You Are” which he’d written for his girlfriend and was also one she had told him she didn’t like!

“The Other Side” saw Chaisson playing acoustic guitar and stomp box as he sang about seeing his love on you guessed it, the other side. It was a gorgeous number, just like his other cuts, “The Healing” (one that had been promoted by Leann Rimes on Twitter) and “Slippin’ Away” (or a nice, simple ditty that even his young niece could sing along to).

He would also whip out a fiddle (first picking this like a ukulele, and later on playing it in a more traditional manner that evoked the spirit of The Chieftains). Chaisson was a pure folk troubadour, even if the fiddle seemed at odds with the whole ‘three chords and the truth’, he had been playing earlier. Chaisson is a great violinist and his playing even encouraged a few brave souls to do an Irish jig or two in the middle of The Basement. He had entertained us with his pleasant music and had us all eating out of his hands with the violin which prompted me to think, ‘Eat your heart out André Rieu!’.

Diesel’s Let It Fly album is his most country music-infused work-to-date. The guitar virtuoso had recently learnt to play the banjo and mandolin (adding to an already-lengthy list of talents) and these were used on a few tracks on the record and made it a quieter effort than his previous works. He would play these new instruments tonight as well as the electric and acoustic guitars. He lulled the audience in first by playing a new song that suits his blues rock catalogue best, “Moneymaker”. It had a big, ballsy sound that worked well with the band format.

The group were quite loud considering at first Diesel was only joined by a bassist and drummer. But what the trio lacked in numbers they made up for in sheer quality and skill in filling the room with sounds. Diesel knows his instrument back to front and uses so many great effects pedals and really gets the most out of it. This can mean starting out with an acoustic sound and amping things up mid-way to an electric (as happened in “One More Time”).

“Man Alive” had a funky bassline that was as twisted as the one Neil Finn had once sung about. For “Cupid’s Embrace”, Diesel was joined by Chaisson on the fiddle before the former swapped his guitar for a banjo for “By Your Throne”. Lizotte would kid that we must all be Tasmanians, seeing as we were all enthusiastic to hear this instrument.

These two musicians have certainly become very closely lately, touring and recording. They pair are almost like family and for “When It Rains”, Diesel was joined by his actual daughter, Lila Gold, on backing vocals. She returned during the encore for “If You Let Me Give”. The latter was a duet, where Gold did an excellent job of adding her sultry vocals and backing dancer moves to the number, giving it a great, pop edge.

Chaisson and Lizotte’s song, “Last Shower” saw some excellent acoustic guitars (6 and 12-strings) creating a relatable story. It was a chiming effect not unlike the melodic “Fifteen Feet Of Snow”, which was especially dream-like towards the end. But it was Diesel’s big hits like “Never Miss You Water” and “Tip Of My Tongue” that received the biggest reactions for the night. There was some daggy, dad dancing from people who weren’t gonna let a little thing like age stop them from having some fun.

In the encore the group offered a faithful version of “Wild Horses”. It was a tighter rendition than the one performed live by The Rolling Stones. The latter play it more haphazardly and in a way one writer described as ‘Unprofessional professionalism’. Diesel and ‘family’ would then bring it home with “Cry In Shame”, where many solos and jams were offered and where the star of the evening even got up on the table, before the audience were left to ponder the lyrics of ‘Goodnite Sweetheart, Goodnite’.

The evening had been a groovy one filled with excellent blues, rock and pop tunes from a guy that makes it look so effortless and cool. It’s no surprise that Diesel has boasted a long and fruitful quarter century in the music business. In 2013, Diesel knows how to keeps things fresh so that at times it feels like he’s just starting out listening to records and serving his musical apprenticeship, such is the power, musicality and passion he continues to bring to the table.

Diesel’s Sydney set list:
1. Moneymaker
2. One More Time
3. Man Alive
4. Cupid’s Embrace
5. By Your Throne
6. When It Rains
7. Last Shower (by Diesel & Tim Chaisson)
8. I Don’t Need Love
9. Days Like These
10. Dig
11. Fifteen Foot Of Snow
12. Never Miss You Water
13. Come To Me
14. Tip Of My Tongue
15. The Miles

————

16. If You Let Me Give
17. Wild Horses (Rolling Stones cover)
18. Cry In Shame

Originally published on 13 October 2013 at the following website: http://www.theaureview.com/sydney/diesel-tim-chaisson-the-basement-sydney-11-10-13

Visit The Au Review’s homepage at: http://www.theaureview.com/

LIVE REVIEW: GRAPHIC FESTIVAL SYDNEY – RADIO WITH PICTURES FEAT. DON WALKER, CLAUDIA KARVAN, FENELLA KERNEBONE AND MORE @ SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE (06.10.2013)

theiris

 

Last year’s instalment of Radio With Pictures at Sydney’s Graphic Festival sold out and it’s easy to see why. The 90 minute show at the Sydney Opera House saw a group of compelling storytellers come together over a mutual love of radio, writing and graphics. It was a multimedia show that fed all the senses.

This year the show was hosted by Fenella Kernebone. The theme for the night was ‘The Things You Do’ whether it be for ‘love’, ‘fun’ or some other unspecified reason. The stories ranged from comedy to drama to satire and just about everything in between. There were eight presentations in total and the evening saw the likes of actor, Claudia Karvan and musician, Don Walker (Cold Chisel) share a stage with artist, Gria Shead; animator Marieka Walsh; comic artists Sam Wallman and Bailey Sharpe; radio maker, Gina McKeon; producer, Jane Ullman, writers Lorlei Vashti and Patti Miller; and illustrator, Grace Lee.

The evening commenced with one of the most fun and entertaining stories of the night. It was a tale taken from a newspaper advertisement circa 1875 where a bookshop owner advertised for a wife. It was a progressive idea for the time (things like Farmer Wants A Wife and RSVP didn’t exist) but it was ultimately a relatable anecdote that encouraged us all to take risks and be bold in our quests for love.

One of the weaker stories of the night was ‘Teach Us Pet’, which saw black and white cartoons of a young boy who wakes up to hear his mother killing off some of his pets. It was redeemed by the story that followed, ‘Like An Animal’. The sound in this latter one was amazing and it was easy to see how Jane Ullman is an award-winning sound effects artist. Her sonic arrangements really helped compliment the idea of young children connecting with and learning about animals.

Don Walker’s fans would’ve enjoyed hearing samples of his Shots book coupled with animations. It was a very different feel to the sombre, ‘Gay Enough’, which followed. This was the tale of a refugee seeking asylum in Australia and how they had to prove their sexuality to the authorities. It was jarring to go from his to the funny, cheekiness of Lorlei Vasthi’s ‘Nobody Is Making You Do This’. The latter was named after a Margaret Atwood quote and was the light-hearted recount of an epic battle with writer’s block that stretched out over a year.

Once again the mood shifted for Patti Miller’s ‘The Mind Of A Thief’ which had parallels to Kate Grenville’s The Secret River novel. It was also the winner of the Premier’s history award while Pat Grant’s closing story – a love letter to his recently departed father – was highly intense and personal and was probably not the right platform for such an emotionally-charged story.

Radio With Pictures was one fascinating and interesting night. There were stories to make you laugh, ones to make you cry and others still that made you think. In future, a rethink of the theme may be in order to allow things to run more smoothly and cohesively but there was no denying that the 2013 edition had a little gift or two for people to take home from such wild and varied proceedings.

 

Originally published on 9 October 2013 at the following website: http://www.theaureview.com/sydney/graphic-festival-radio-with-pictures-ft-don-walker-claudia-karvan-fenella-kernebone-and-more-06-10-13

Visit The Au Review’s homepage at: http://www.theaureview.com/

TV REVIEW: MASTERS OF SEX

MASTERS OF SEX (SEASON 1)

 

It’s hard for us to contemplate a world where sex was a giant mystery. But in the late fifties the word “pregnancy” could be censored from television, Elvis caused a stir by shaking his hips and married couples often slept in separate, single beds. Welcome to 1957, the year when two pioneers, William Masters and Virginia Johnson took sex out of the bedroom and into the laboratory for a probing look under the microscope.

Masters Of Sex is a 12-part, fact-based drama series based on Thomas Maier’s 2009 biography of the same name. Like the book, the television program tells the real-life story of Masters (Michael Sheen (Twilight, The Queen)), an American gynaecologist who conducted ground-breaking research work at Washington University. Masters started off his studies by talking to prostitutes. The primary working woman is played here by Shaun Rylee as a burping, beer-swilling, straight talker who convinces the stuffy, straight-laced Masters to get a female research partner after he shows his ignorance regarding the female perspective.

Enter Johnson (Lizzy Caplan (True Blood)), an ambitious, twice-divorced mother of two who was hoping to gain a degree in sociology. The show depicts Masters and Johnson’s professional and personal relationship as they try to debunk myths and misinformation about sex in an ultra-conservative era. It was one that would see them garner opposition and branded all sorts of things like “perverts”, “unscientific” and “pornographers”.

The pair was passionate about their work and they took their cues from Alfred Kinsey who had interviewed people about their sexual experiences in the forties and early fifties. But Masters and Johnson pushed the envelope further in trying to dispel copulation’s mysteries. They observed, measured, recorded and quantified things like heart rate, metabolism and the brain activity of hundreds of men and women while they masturbated or had sex. They would discover the four stage model of human sexual response (excitement, plateau, orgasm and resolution) and explore topics like: intimacy, behaviour and desire in depth.

The TV show is like Mad Men in that it is faithful to the era and is a well-acted period drama. The costuming is perfect for the late fifties with well-coiffed men in suits and women dressed exclusively in dresses and skirts. The soundtrack also supports this period with jazz and pop tunes from the time. It is occasionally rather risqué, revealing and no holds barred in portraying the polygraph-like instruments the pair designed and their uses. This included a large phallus that contained a camera and there is naturally a fair bit of nudity.

Masters Of Sex shows two contradictory and complex characters and pioneers working hard against the restrictive social conventions and norms at the time. They faced controversy head-on as they got underneath the sheets and their opponents’ skin in order to challenge previously-held taboos and debunk what were once widely-accepted myths.

The research by Masters and Johnson would eventually be one crucial piece in the puzzle that kick-started the sexual revolution. The show isn’t just a product of the period, as it does have some parallels with the contemporary documentary,The Sex Researchers. Masters of Sex is ultimately like the two therapists and main subjects themselves in that it is interesting, ambitious and a tad clinical. But it is also a rewarding and revealing look at the world before Sex In The City, Viagra and porn became mainstream.

 

Originally published on 30 September 2013 at the following website: http://iris.theaureview.com/2013/09/30/tv-review-masters-of-sex-usa-season-1-episode-1/

Visit The Iris’ homepage at: http://iris.theaureview.com/

ALBUM REVIEW: BABY ANIMALS – BABY ANIMALS & SHAVED AND DANGEROUS REMASTERED

BABYANIMALSDEBUT

 

Baby Animals are a band that knows quality over quantity. Prior to their reunion in 2007 their discography consisted of two studio albums, their eponymous debut and Shaved & Dangerous, which are now available in a handy 2CD package for the first time.

Both albums contain their fair share of fist-in-the-air rock mixed in with catchy pop melodies.

A big drawcard for this band was always Suze DeMarchi’s powerful rock chick voice which saw her hold her own alongside the Chrissie Hyndes and Chrissy Amphletts of the musical world.

There was also Dave Leslie’s excellent guitar playing that sometimes rocked and occasionally veered off into blues territory while allowing moments for shredding and for quieter flourishes, and their rhythm section were also very tight.

Baby Animals is considered one of the greatest Australian rock albums of all time. It was the highest-selling debut record by a group until Jet released Get Born and it spawned four top 20 singles including “Early Warning”, “Rush You” and “One Word”.

The album wasn’t just about hard rock and gritty guitars, however, as “Make It End” was a soft and overblown power ballad that sounds rather dated.

The group’s follow-up wasn’t as impressive and doesn’t fare much better.

DeMarchi’s voice was still powerful but the band was pressured by their label to write “hits”. They would enlist the help of Extreme guitarist, Nuno Bettencourt (who DeMarchi would marry and divorce) to help with co-writing duties and play guitars on the unnecessary Free cover, “Be My Friend” .

Suze DeMarchi one said that the Baby Animals were all about raw, rock music and four-on-the-floor, simple fun and never was this more apparent than on their first two offerings.

Baby Animals and Shaved & Dangerous each contain some fast-paced, sweaty rock that was rough-around-the-edges but not so coarse that they couldn’t go and embrace a good pop melody or two.

 

Originally published on 7 October 2013 at the following website: http://www.tonedeaf.com.au/reviews/new-music/351942/baby-animals-shaved-and-dangerous-remastered.htm

Visit Tone Deaf’s homepage at: http://www.tonedeaf.com.au/

ARTS REVIEW: MARK TEDESCHI & CLEO GARDNER IN CONVERSATION ABOUT EUGENIA FALLENI-HARRY CRAWFORD @ EMPIRE HOTEL, ANNANDALE (03.10.2013)

EUGENIA

In 2013 the Annandale’s Empire Hotel has been decorated with ornate furniture, flowers and candles. In 1920 it was an arguably different place, the scene of the arrest of Eugenia Falleni AKA Harry Crawford who was working there as a general rouseabout. It was also where Falleni met her second wife, Lizzie Allison and the pair were spouses when Falleni/Crawford was arrested for the murder of her first wife, Annie Birkett.

On this particular evening, the hotel was the environment for a lively discussion and Q&A with two people who are very passionate about the Falleni-Crawford story. Cleo Gardiner is a queer, interdisciplinary-media artist who has created the work “Harry Crawford” about this individual. The work is now owned by the Empire and is a screen-print that’s filled with important symbolism. The word “Fallen” is coloured red in her name, while a halo has been placed around her head in a photograph taken from her mug-shot. Falleni was named after a saint but her trial was more a witch hunt that saw her branded a pervert and deviant, among other things.

Senior Crown Prosecutor, Mark Tedeschi is very knowledgeable about Falleni’s story, having written the book, Eugeniaa bout her life and trial. He was prompted to write about her story as he shares an Italian heritage with the subject and he also lived near Lane Cove River Park as a boy (and this is the place Birkett’s body was found). The 1920 trial was also conducted by William Coyle KC, the very first senior crown prosecutor for NSW and Tedeschi’s predecessor and the trial was conducted in court room five at Darlinghurst Court House, Taylor Square where Tedeschi has been involved in defending and prosecuting numerous cases himself over the years.

In 1920 the whole of Australia knew about the Falleni-Crawford case. She was outed in the media as having been born a female but who lived as a male for 20 years and was branded a “she-man”, “sex deviant” and “circus freak”. The media sensationalised the case so she was basically tried by them before the actual two-day case had even begun (these days Tedeschi estimates that such a complex matter would take upwards of three months from start to finish).

The trial was one of the most significant ones in the history of NSW. It’s one that Tedeschi refers to as being about the “Quintessential outsider”, a person who was different from the mainstream community and who ultimately suffered a miscarriage of justice. The case also proves how things have changed and the areas where there is still room for improvement.

The conversation between Tedeschi and Gardner was an interesting one as they each offered up snippets of the subject’s history plus their own opinions about the legal and gender identity issues that are thrown up by the story. The pair was articulate and knowledgeable and the night was highly informative. It was also very clear that the topic is an important one for the two of them.

The Falleni-Crawford trial was and still is a very significant case. It’s something that still resonates today, especially in cases like the transgendered individual who recently made the news after she opted for euthanasia as the result of a botched sex change. The story highlights the problems with the prudishness of the past and the lack of support for LGBTI individuals and is something we should all take a leaf out of a book and learn from.

 

Originally published on 4 October 2013 at the following website: http://www.theaureview.com/sydney/mark-tedeschi-qc-cleo-gardiner-in-conversation-about-eugenia-falleni-harry-crawford-empire-hotel-anna

Visit The Au Review’s homepage at: http://www.theaureview.com/

EP REVIEW: DAVEY LANE – THE GOOD BORNE OF BAD TYMES

daveylane

 

He’s You Am I’s guitarist, so most people would probably bet that Davey Lane’s first solo output would be guitar-based and probably rock. But they’d only be half right. His debut EP, The Good Borne Of Bad Tymes has guitar pop sure, but he’s also added another feather to his cap with vocal effects and spacey keys punctuating these proceedings.

Lane is taking a bit of a risk here. There are psychedelic hooks and even moments that are almost electro but the fact is it’s all very smart, sharp and varied pop music. He is clearly a fan of a few different genres and this rings true not just with his compositions, but in the collaborations and work he’s done over the years with artists as varied as Barnsey, Crowded House, Chris Cheney and the list goes on.

These five tracks are produced and written by Lane. They’re also released on his own label, Field Recordings. The mood is upbeat and joyous. It’s like he’s looking for the good in every situation, even the sad ones. And perhaps he put it best when he joked in two different interviews that it’s mostly “Just me dicking about in my boffin cave” and that it sounds like “Whatever’s rattling ‘round inside my head”.

It should come as no surprise that single, “You’re The Cops, I’m The Crime” has become a Triple J favourite. It’s some cosmic pop filled with reverb and fuzz, making it sound not unlike a Tame Impala track. “Sinking May” on the other hand is more toe-tapping and optimistic, just as you would imagine Lane to be. The guy seems like such a cheerful fella so he had no shortage of famous friends helping out with the recording process with Nic Cester, Kat Spazzy, Jade Macrae and his The Pictures bandmate, Brett Wolfenden all lending a hand.

A curveball is thrown by Lane in the cleverly-titled, “Comfortably Dumb”. It’s glamorous and dolled up to the nines and is a melodic and futuristic musical nod as Lane sings from outer space. It’s the same venue of choice for the closer, “You Got Me On Side”. The latter is a pop opus that sounds like a tea party where Split Enz and David Bowie are guests of honour and they feast away on mooncakes.

Davey Lane’s The Good Borne of Bad Tymes is an honest and organic record from one underrated musician. Lane may have taken a chance here and there with some sonic diversions but it’s all paid off. His debut EP will appeal to the pop fan in all of us because this guy is easily one of the biggest aficionados of said genre.

Originally published on 3 October 2013 at the following website: http://thedwarf.com.au/album_review/16933/the-good-borne-of-bad-tymes

Visit The Dwarf’s homepage at: http://www.thedwarf.com.au/

Previous Older Entries