As founder of the AU review, most weeks I'm invited along (or I invite myself along) to a variety of musical and arts based events around Sydney. Some weeks I take up these offers, while other weeks I stay at home like a hermit, going through the hundreds of daily emails we receive here at the AU. #thuglife. Last week saw me fit into the former category, so in celebration of tomorrow's public release of our Australia's Year in Music coffee table book for 2011, here now is a look back at my week in music: July 7-13, 2011.
July 7 - Lime Cordiale at The Standard
Things kicked off with the debut EP launch of Sydney band Lime Cordiale, who will be playing as part of our Beatles ensemble on August 3rd. The band played tracks off the EP, Faceless Cat, as well as some old favourites and some newer numbers.
The sound in the venue wasn't the best, but the band didn't let that stop them, showcasing off their unique sound to the packed room. They're a band who have yet to make "the" song that will break them, in my opinion, but as they continue refining their sound and making some fantastic tunes along the way, they are certainly on the right track.
What tonight showcased more than anything was that this is a great BAND. A group of respectable musicians who work together as one unit with skill and gravitas. They showed this off the best when they jammed, and with the inclusion of instruments like the trombone and the clarinet, there's nothing keeping this band for setting up a residency as part of Byron's Bluesfest in the years to come. Definitely a band to watch.
July 8 - 50 Million Beers at the Annandale Hotel
The 12th birthday celebrations of the Annandale Hotel continued on Sunday afternoon with two sets from legendary Sydney group 50 Million Beers, alongside a party to celebrate the sale of the venue's 500th brick (go on, purchase one for yourself!). I can't say I was familiar with the band before tonight, but I left with a good taste of what they're all about - and there were plenty of people in the room who knew them well indeed. They are veterans of the Sydney pub scene after all. And in that you kind of know exactly what to expect - some great, classic, Aussie pub rock. And to that they certainly delivered. Not a bad way to spend an afternoon...
July 12 - Iluka and Castlecomer at FBi Social
Sydney five piece Castlecomer had just started playing when I arrived, playing folk music with those sort of sweet harmonies that are all the rage at the moment. They make no apologies of this, taking the genre back to its origins with a beautiful a capella cover of "Amazing Grace", before they started throwing in influences from bands such as Coldplay, Counting Crows, Barenaked Ladies (possibly the only Australian band I've ever said that about) and even Radiohead (they snuck in a brief cover of "High and Dry" which they rhymed with "FBi"). They even took us into Jinja Safari territory by the end of the set.
As you can see, the upbeat music of this tight, talented group of young musicians holds a massive amount of influences and though they pull it off, this also works against them. It's just unclear how to categorize the band or know what direction they'll end up heading in. This is far from a bad thing for such a new band, however, as they'll slowly develop their direction and given their talents, this will be a exciting journey to see them undertake. Stay tuned!
With a wonderful opening act (and an earlier set from the always phenomenal Eliza Hull who I unfortunately missed), it was headliner Iluka's turn to hit the stage, as she launched her new single "Paper Doll". Her beautiful guitar (named Dusty) and stunning voice were supported by a four piece band. The music was upbeat, the performance wonderful and there was a certain sense of magic about it all.
Iluka, the project of Nikki Thornburn, brings together a great mix of blues, swing and even jazz to make something definitely worthy of a listen. She looks fine against her contemporaries and comparisons to Lanie Lane aren't unfounded. She's a great performer who, like the band before her, continues to grow and develop, and I would be very surprised if the whole country wasn't listening to her fine music before too long...
Given the date of the performance, her song "12th of July" was particularly poetic, with a great beat and an 'epic' sensibility. A new track was quite funky, while "Dear Mr. Earl" - which was performed by Nikki, her guitar and her keyboardist - was musically simplistic but strikingly beautiful. Also performed was "Roll Me Like a Stone", the single we were there to celebrate, "Paper Doll" and "Brave Like a Lion", which ended the set. A wonderful evening showcasing some great up-and-coming local talents, as FBi Social so often does.
July 13 - The Mess Hall and Regular John at Annandale Hotel.
My week in music ended with a night of pure rock and roll indulgence at the Annandale Hotel, still celebrating its 12th birthday. Regular John were well into the swing of things when I arrived, ready to remind the crowd why we fell in love with the band in the first place, perforating a few ear drums along the way. Putting it bluntly, the band took the sweaty mass that was their crowd and gave them one hell of a rock show. I think it's fair to say they're sounding better than ever. Bring on the next record!
But it was the brief return of The Mess Hall we came to see, playing their only Sydney show this year - and I don't know how they did it, but in spite of the band's relative silence of late, and the multiple projects they're working on individually, the all-too-brief set was possibly the best show I've ever seen the boys put on. The energy in the room was fierce as they rammed out favourites like "Pills" and "Keep Walking", seeing the crowd sing and dance along with what little room each individual crammed into the Annandale had at their disposal.
It was a truly special evening of rock and roll put on by two of Sydney's finest bands. A mere reminder of how great they both are, we look forward to seeing them both back on the touring circuit with new music to boot... hopefully sooner rather than later!
If you would like to find out what we at the AU review got up to collectively in 2011, pick yourself up a copy of our annual coffee table book Australia's Year in Music, available exclusively through print-on-demand service Blurb from tomorrow - with the 2010 edition re-released in a special new edition by August 1st.
Visit http://www.australiasyearinmusic.com/ for all the details. Special discounts may be available for friends of the AU - for more details please email firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know what you're after!