Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Album of the Year?

Ok, I'll start by saying any opinions I may have on this album may be skewed. I'm a huge fan which may distort my opinion, but only after 2 days of listening, I must say that this is one of my favourite albums. The artist is Sarah Blasko and the album is: 'What the Sea Wants the Sea Will Have'. Unfortunately I missed the signing she did at JB-Hifi last Sunday, however I had already pre-ordered an autographed copy from the online site. I didn't really have any pre-conceived ideas about the album and I enjoyed the first single [explain]. In an interview with Triple J, she mentions that this was not the resounding opinion of others to be the first single, however she decided to go ahead, create the video clip and release it. It's a fantastic clip, inspired by 'Watership Down' and is a great fit for a great first single.

Onto the album. There's a great mix of catchy choruses and slow thoughtful lyrics. In contrast to the previous record, there seems to be a much greater variety in the pitch at which she sings at within the songs. Also I notice that there are few songs with fantastic piano which I don't recall being too prevalent if at all previously. Most notably 'Queen of Apology' which just has a couple of piano notes throughout, but, accompanied with a similarly constant drum rhythm and nicely timed lyrics it results in a really good song. I would love to see this live, as I'd appreciate how hard it would be to pull off!

For me the standout from the album has to be 'Always On This Line'. Just something slightly different to the others, sung in a lower key with a catchy chorus. Similarly 'The Garden's End' has a great couple of constant guitar 'plucks' (Sorry about the terminology) almost throughout, a technique that I really like in songs. It's also interesting to hear 'The Woman By The Well' which I think was played back at the POW gig last year and the lyrics on a piece of paper. It's good to see that it made it onto the album. 'Showstopper' is one of those songs that grows on you with each listen, while I see 'Planet New Year' as the 'Always Worth It' of this album, with the distinction of having a Toy Piano listed as one of the instruments used.

Just on that, another great aspect of the album is the diverse use of accompanying instruments. Just look on the inside of the CD cover to discover the instruments used on each song. The CD is nicely packaging, with a little photo album with some snaps from the recording studio. With the production of the album's songs as a guide, its not unexpected that physical package appears to have been meticulously put together.

In short, there are a diverse range of songs on the album and overall its something I know I'll come back to many times. I hate people who review albums who say that artists produced something too similar to their previous ones. Honestly if it sounds good who cares? In this instance however, in my opinion, the second offering by Sarah Blasko is a contrast to the first in subtle ways and explores different musical avenues. Its a shame that there aren't more radio stations like Triple J that help discover and promote these artists. Good on them for naming this the feature album of the week - and understandably so.

People of Australia, get out and get some tickets to the live performances as she's touring in the next few weeks. I have my tickets and will be at the Forum. I saw her last year and thoroughly enjoyed the show with 'Flame Trees' and 'At Your Best' being favourites. If you don't believe my thoughts, the beauty of the internet showcases the songs on her website. Don't miss out on this one...

Monday, October 16, 2006

Run the Gauntlet

I'm not sure where it went, but it appears that Melbourne has gone from winter straight into summer. Since when is it mid to late 30's in October? Anyway, Saturday night I ventured out to drinks for a mate's birthday in the city. The folks that catch the train usually keep you amused for the ride in for the most part, however I always take some music to listen on the trip in. You usually get a mix of people ranging from those that find the fluorescent lights of the train overbearing and requiring sunglasses, to those guys whom for some reason have pants half way up and their jocks hanging out. This is finally mixed with those getting an early start with the 'Jim Beam and cola' cans, and the polo shirt with the 'collar up' crowd. Ironically a guy whom I went to high school with, wrote an article 'To pop or not' on this very subject, however I'm of the opinion that there is no place for 'popped' collars other than for Elvis impersonations or legitimately to block the sun. (Also see Seinfeld for the 'Pretty boy Tony' line for a funny impression.)

In the city at around 7 and there's surprisingly a scant amount of people about. We decided to venture through Hardware lane for some food and that's where the fun begins. Much like Lygon st (little Italy for those not from Melbourne) each restaurant has their over-friendly staff attempting to woo you in. The only difference is that this is a narrow lane no wider than a few metres so you'll get hammered by dueling restaurants on either side. The trick is to gather some momentum and if you're going to stop to read menus, do so behind a couple that's already getting the 'array of fancy cheeses' speech. Our first run through, we were unfortunately without a battle plan, walked through, acknowledged the 'Evening gentlemen' but pretended to be passing through to get to the other end of the lane... Then comes the slightly embarrassing part; The double back. A slightly slower pass and we urked of uncertainty as many started to taste blood, starting to give the 'Each meal comes with a complimentary beer!' to win our business. But, when in doubt head back to a place you know best, so we ventured off to a place we'd been before. Some satisfying mains and desserts later it was time to head off.

We were off to Bambu which is a small bar on Flinders Lane. As my mate mentioned as we walked in, its like a scene from 'Fight Club' a couple of flights of stairs down into the unknown, opens up to a long array of couches on the right with a path leading up to a bar at the end of the room. We were in early, so there were only a handful of people around, but this at least enabled us to reserve a couch. The drinks flowed and I was satisfied with mates and actually able to hear conversations. I tried a new 'low carb' dutch beer which tasted nice enough, but I don't really have to worry about the extra carbs I'm getting from my beer... As the night ventured on, I was surprised at how quiet the place was. At its maximum there were probably only around 20 people in the whole place with a capacity of around 100 or so. I find this ridiculous. Not only was this a Saturday night, but it's a classy bar, with cool surrounds and a great setup. We were understandably ushered out around 1am to seek an alternative source of poison. It must've been one of those nights, as the city streets were also quite empty. We started back through the city, walking past Icon bar where the obligatory bar dancing was taking place (is there so little room in there or is it just something that happens?) and ended up at Misty Place on Hosier lane. Some of these places you feel like you need to push a secret brick where a trap door opens for you to wander in. Its a neat little bar with the great idea of a free jug of water to help balance out a big night of drinking. Hint: this is a great place to have some pre-drinks if your off to a gig at the Forum. A few last drinks there and it was time to call it a night.

Hailing a cab is always an interesting proposition. Half the lights are on, off or not working. Therefore I run the principle of hailing any cab that approaches. We encountered a gold digger cab driver. With ipod headphones in tow, he queried where we were going to. We mentioned our destination and he drove off; Obviously he thought he could better the eventual >$50 fare. Perhaps if we mentioned we needed to get to Alice Springs he would have picked us up... We hailed one down eventually and after some maniac driving in the middle of the road and a stop for a can of V (A sobering thought for us if the driver needs to be kept awake) we all made it back in one piece. The downer for the night was after I was dropped off he threw his can out of the window. Man I hate people that litter... Apart from that it was a great night...

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

50 Things

50 boring, stupid rambling things about me. I can only muster 50... I guarantee the next post will be more interesting.... It has to be...

001 - I want to be taller. At 5-7 I can't see the stage at gigs and my friends are over 6 feet tall. And no I'm not wearing heels...
002 - I have 2 brothers both older.
003 - Everywhere I go I have to have music. I can't stand being on a train without a book or music
004 - I enjoy reading but don't do it enough because I have to drive to work now
005 - My first job was in a toy store
006 - I can't stand hoons and people who don't wave when I give way on the road (go out of my way)
007 - I have an ipod but I hate the white headphones
008 - I played the bagpipes in highschool
009 - I've also learnt the piano and recorder
010 - I work in IT
011 - I hate the stereotype that IT people all know how to 'fix' computers. I work with financial IT systems and not hardware... Eg if I want to put stuff into the financial general ledger via a file what do I have to do? (*spins propeller*)
012 - I'm 26 years old
013 - I hate and like being asked for ID. (I can count almost on 1 hand how many times that hasn't happened) It means I look young which is bad now, but will be good later I'm told
014 - My favourite beer is Hoegaarden
015 - I once stole a Hoegaarden glass
016 - When I'm drunk I tend to say the things that I'm thinking that I shouldn't say out loud (Is that confusing?)
017 - The most money I've found is $20
018 - The most money I've won gambling is ~$300
019 - I've bungy jumped and skydived twice
020 - I have a recurring nightmare that I've forgotten to submit a VCE assignment - I finished highschool 9 years ago
021 - I was on the front page of the local newspaper in 1984
022 - I only learnt how to ride a bike a year and a half ago
023 - The latest I've slept in to is 3.oopm
024 - The longest I've stayed up for is 25 hours
025 - I can't grow a mustache
026 - Likewise with a beard
027 - I've had my legs waxed for a dare
030 - I've never had my hair dyed
031 - I've only been overseas twice
032 - When I first worked I used to eat 'fish and chip shop' style hamburgers for breakfast
033 - I think Godzilla was better than ID4. But neither was any good.
034 - I hate waiting in queues and find old people are most likely to jump them
035 - I've learnt French, Italian and Chinese and can't remember much of any of the languages now
036 - I had braces as a kid
037 - I've been given a forced, free manicure
038 - The only cities outside of Victoria in Australia I've been to are Sydney and the Gold Coast
039 - I own 14 business shirts -My goal is to only iron once a month
040 - I've once eaten an entire chocolate teddy bear packet in one sitting
041 - I don't understand how George Bush gets elected, but am knocked over to know how he can be re-elected
042 - I've never watched a Hugh Grant movie from start to finish or watched the Titanic
043 - I'd rather deal with things than complain.
044 - I missed uni graduation with food poisoning
045 - I boycott places that provide poor service (Or fire employees that I fancied)
046 - I can't stand people with poor manners
047 - I only own 177 CDs
048 - I've had a broken arm and fractured elbow
049 - I've been involved in only 1 car accident -touch wood- a hub cap came off an oncoming car and cracked my windscreen from left to right, top, down
050 - I've never had the chicken pox

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Current Affairs?

As a kid, I watched the drivel known as commerical channel current affairs basically because it was the family tv. I don't really recall too much of it as I'd probably be waiting on Beverly Hills 90210 or whatever was cool back in the late 80's early 90's. It's funny to see the state of current affairs in this country at the 6.30 timeslot and how absolutely disgraceful and commercial it is. No wonder people have no idea what's going on locally or internationally when there's the constant stream of new weight loss cures or shonky tradesman stories going around. Its interesting that one week I'll be told by mum: 'Don't use the internet to do any online shopping they steal identities!', followed by the next week being advised to do all you buying on the internet because that's where the bargains are. Unfortunately my parents watch either of the 2 commercial current affairs programs, despite protests by their offspring on an equally constant frequency.

I decided to take a look on the websites of the respective shows to see what stories had been screened in recent times (basically because I couldn't stomach watching them for a week).

Here are the stories from the A Current Affair website:
-Why new mums go mad
-A weight loss role model
-Head start for baby
-Magnetic beauty
-Credit cards: is yours mean?
-Perils of online banking
-Rich kids: making money from a young age
-Bills, bills, bills: how to reduce them
-Women working their way up from home
-Looking for a sea change?
-Man shortage: where to find one
-Winter holiday specials
-Factory outlets: grab yourself a bargain
-The great grocery rip-off
-Kids lingerie incenses parents
-Bad-smelling bargains
-Fruit and vegies: making kids naughty?
-Fergie praises weight loss star
-Make-up tips from the experts

I'm no intellectual giant, but none of the above really is above the level of a National Enquirer story. Not to be outdone, Today Tonight had the following at their site:

-Kickboxing off the kilos
-Some muesli bars have no benefit
-The migrant test top 10
-Easy fixes for clothing problems
-Five steps to a healthy life
-The odds of gambling
-Tips to make a good career
-Sacked for being 'too fat'
-Testing new Australians
-Migrants forced to learn English
-Too fat for the catwalk
-Psychic problems
-Bottled water bonanza
-Is it a ghost?
-Microwave your flab goodbye
-Slimming down on a patch
-The truth about speed cameras
-Treatments for acne
-Cleaning your carpet
-Your rights: shopping returns
-Alternative pregnancies
-Easing pain
-Sleeping off the kilos
-Driving well for a free car
-Best of the bargain websites
-Online bargains: find the freebies
-Mortgage insurance cash backs
-Looking 10 years younger
-Saving money at the bowser
-Peeling away the years
-Rent a handbag

The best from the above have to be:
Microwave your flab goodbye
The latest overseas treatment aimed at trimming waistlines has arrived. It claims to be as easy as microwaving off those excess centimetres.

-I'm sure the next thing they'll plug is: 'Microwave off those pounds while cooking a roast for the family!'

Magnetic beauty
While women across Australia spend millions of dollars on creams or plastic surgery to improve their looks, a new product is claiming to remove wrinkles and lines just by applying gold-plated magnets to their skin.

-This can be used in conjunction with the 'wrinkle roller' which also doubles up to flatten any dough in the kitchen.

For starters I can't believe people watch these shows, and secondly I can't believe Neighbours is probably the most informative show on at 6.30 on the commercial networks... The 'reports' are recycled in regular intervals with different angles and the presenters are more suited to host 'Ripley's Believe it or Not'.

Please watch the 7.30 Report, Foreign Correspondent or listen to Hack on Triple J at 5.30