The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'ninetynine'
On occasion of a Women In Rock mini-festival on Melbourne radio station 3CR, Mess+Noise got Ninetynine's Laura Macfarlane and the members of the all-female rock trio Dead River to interview each other:
Laura: Overall I think things with gender equality in music have improved slightly but it still needs more work. There could be more female presence in the technical side of music. For instance there aren’t many female masterers still. It also varies a lot between countries. Ninetynine has played in countries and cities where being a female musician is still a novelty. Those shows always stick out in my memory because usually one female person in the audience will come up and tell you that they really appreciate seeing female musicians. Maybe they were thinking of starting their own band, but hadn’t seen a live band with women in it. It is always special to feel like maybe you have helped encourage other women in some small way.
Laura: Although Ninetynine does not exclusively reference Get Smart, we do like a lot of things people relate to the name, including agent 99. She’s great. We also wanted to use a number as a band name because it can work well in countries where people don’t speak a lot of English. I think the The Shaggs would be my favourite ’60s girl group.
Dead River: Despite plenty of evidence that women are capable and creative masters of their instruments and gear (PJ Harvey, Savages, Kim Gordon, to name a few), there are prevailing paternalistic attitudes that continue to undermine women in music. I’m sure many female musicians can relate to the experience of a male mixer walking on stage and adjusting her amp or telling her how to set her levels. Or being asked if you’re the ”merch girl” or “where’s your acoustic guitar?” after you’ve just lugged an entire drum kit or Orange stack through the door.Meanwhile, the members of Ninetynine have recorded a song to raise funds for protests against the East-West road tunnel, under the name “Tunnel Vision Song Contest”. It sounds like Ninetynine at their most Sonic Youth-influenced, though is a bit light on the Casiotone and chromatic percussion.
Your humble correspondent spent the past two weeks in Melbourne, on family business.
Whilst in Melbourne, I learned that long-time blog favourites Ninetynine have recorded a new album, and decided to release it for free. (I was actually contacted by Lachlan, a regular contributor, who was helping to put it online.) Anyway, the new Ninetynine album is now online; it is titled, perhaps ironically, Bande Magnétique, and may be downloaded here.
And Bande Magnétique is Ninetynine in fine form; it starts off with the sort of angular pop they do so well (the opening track, Guest List Girls, featured on a compilation last year), and goes on from there, with echoes of Stereolab and Sonic Youth. Interestingly enough, a few of their tracks feature string arrangements of all things, which work surprisingly well. The effect is somewhat akin to another veteran Melbourne band who recently released a record, The Paradise Motel.
If you want to buy a physical copy of Bande Magnétique, there will be CDs at gigs, and possibly in record shops. Though in either case, you can get it online for free, with the band's blessing. And I'm told that the rest of the back-catalogue will follow in due time.
Melbourne casiopunk combo Ninetynine recently played a live-to-air performance at Melbourne radio station PBS. The performance (which was quite good; including Wöekenender and The Process and some promisingly angular-sounding new songs) may be streamed from here (or, if you view the source, you can find the RealAudio file here.
Mess+Noise has a short piece on local band Ninetynine, which mentions their future plans and their surprising popularity in Finland:
Having been back in Melbourne for three months now, waiting for the album to be reissued, Ninetynine have been rehearsing, writing new material (some of which will be heard on their upcoming dates) and commissioning a series of low-budget videos for album tracks with the simple proviso that the band don't have to appear in them.It's good to hear that they're working on new material.
And a few video fragments from the weekend's Ninetynine gig in Reykjavík:
(They look a lot less blurry in real life. Or, indeed, in the video before it went through the YouTube process.)
Anyway, they're playing Spain this week, and in London on the 31st. More details on their web site.
Ninetynine have just posted their upcoming European tour dates. They're playing Finland (13-15 October), Russia (17-19), Iceland (22nd), then a five-day tour of Spain (24th to 28th), and ending the tour with a London date on the 31st.
Their new album, Worlds Of Space, Worlds Of Population, Worlds Of Robots, has just been released in Australia. More details on that when my copy arrives.
I just saw this on the ninetynine website:
- A brand new ninetynine song "Repitition" appears on the German Kultur Shock double LP alongside tracks from Citizen Fish, Sin Dios, Oi Polloi, Guts Pie Earshot and others. A celebration of the yearly festival that takes place in Berlin's Eastern suburbs Details about where you can get the album from to follow soon.(Hmmm.. ninetynine + the name "Repetition" + a German art-rock/punk/something festival; it sounds like it could be rather motorik, especially if it's similar to their last EP.)
Is this a festival they've played at before, or one they're going to do? If the latter, than I guess I'm off to Berlin...
Casiopunk art-pop band ninetynine have a new best-of compilation out; titled Chapter Ninetynine, it has most of their essential tracks (Wöekenender, Super 8, Polar Angle, The Process and Cois Il Hamdu Lilah make it on), a few tracks from their last record-club-only EP, and a few more obscure gems (I'm glad to see that the sublime 180 Degrees (from the Anatomy of Distance compilation) made the cut); there are only a few omissions of note (one of Mesopotamia or Kinetic Factory would have been good, as would have The Specialist and, indeed, Popemobile).
Chapter Ninetynine is out on Strange Ones, a Barcelona-based indie label. No word on whether there will be an Australian release (or, indeed, whether it'll be through Chapter Music).
A big page of Ninetynine lyrics, transcribed with varying accuracy, for those having trouble figuring out what Laura's singing. As far as figuring out what the words mean, however, you're on your own.
I went to the Make Mixtapes Not War benefit at the corner this evening, which was quite good.
I walked in halfway through the Jihad Against America set. They were loud; they're basically hardcore punk/metal played by people some 10 or so years older than the usual hardcore punk/metal band (hi Ben!), and with a sense of irony. They were rather loud, and played fairly tightly, though some of their material (especially the bits with the growly metal vocals) is a bit too close to Filthy Maggoty Cunt territory for my taste. Still, to each his own; the kids in the studded bracelets seemed to like them.
Keith's Yard were fairly good; they were very much in a post-punk vein (think the Melbourne little-band scene), with droning guitars (two or three in each song), bass and drums, and the odd repetitive vocals delivered with a sneer; I imagine that that's the sort of thing one could have seen at the Seaview Ballroom in 1978 or so. (Ben Butler compared them to the Happy Mondays, in their combination of strong rhythm and nonsensical lyric fragments and getting the crowd dancing; though the key difference would be that the Mondays combined indie rock and house/dance music, whereas Keith's Yard are pure post-punk classicism. Still, in the age of punk-flavoured house music, is there really so much of a distinction?)
The Bird Blobs couldn't make it, on account of Ian Wadley being overseas with another project, and so were replaced by an outfit named SNAP! CRAKK!. They were also in a new-wave/post-punk vein, only this time with drum machines and synth keyboards (as well as chaotic guitarwork and random lyrics). The vintage Korg keyboard they used was, amusingly enough, plastered with Burzum stickers.
Love of Diagrams played their classics from The Target Is You, as well as some new songs, some of which have vocals. Other than that, they're doing much the same sort of thing; guitar/bass/drums and lots of energy.
The Bites were OK, and had some good songs. Sinking Citizenship, however, didn't grab me; they sounded like fairly rote post-grunge rock.
The Ninetynine set was interesting; Amy is still in Berlin, so they made do without her (and without her songs, of course; there was no Great Escapes or Highway Delights in the set); however, they had three guest musicians, including a bloke in a pinstripe suit playing cello and an accordionist. They played two new songs, both by Laura; one (called something like Bridge) was in a similar vein to Mesopotamia or Kinetic Factory, with a vibraphone and vocals, gradually building up, and the other (Red Card Yellow Card) being a bit more upbeat. They finished with a rocking rendition of Wöekenender, one of their classic crowd-pleasers. Oh, and Iain had since cut his hair really short, with a slight quiff at the front, which, with his glasses and anorak, gave him a slightly Morrisseyish air. This was the first Ninetynine gig in something like seven months, and (from what I heard) may well be the last one for equally long.
In 1996, a number of Australian indie bands recorded covers of TV show themes for a tribute compilation named Box; this was released on cassette; I recall seeing a copy in PolyEster records back when Paul Elliott ran it. Now, it's available in MP3 form. Hear Wank Engine's cover of the Mr. Squiggle theme, Ninetynine's version of Blake's Seven, New Waver's characteristically Darwinian take on the Four Corners theme and some outfit named Pigshit doing the Degrassi Junior High theme, among others. (Thanks to Greg Wadley for the heads-up.)
In the early 90s, the Spill label (which seemed to have been connected to the Fortitude Valley indie scene in Brisbane) released 3 compilations of songs by Australian indie bands. These compilations have now been made available in MP3 format; they include tracks by Minimum Chips, Clag, Clowns Smiling Backwards, New Waver, and The Sea Haggs (which was Laura/Lora Macfarlane's old band), as well as less-known bands with intriguing names like Volvox, Wank Engine and Farfisas In Exile. The MP3s are of fairly low quality (22kHz sample rate, and 56kbps bit rate), but they're better than nothing. (via Rocknerd)
And if you like the Clag tracks there, you can find some more Clag MP3s here.
The Null Device's top 8 records of 2003:
- 8. Yo La Tengo - Summer Sun. A nicely laid-back collection of grooves from Yo La Tengo, and more than a worthy follow-up to And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out.
- 7. Martin L. Gore - Counterfeit2. Covers of acts including Nick Cave, the Velvet Underground and others, done in glitchy, electronic fashion, with the characteristic Depeche Mode formula of aching humanity and cold electronics. Note: the Australian release is corrupt; the US release isn't.
- 6. Ninetynine - Receiving the Sounds of Science Fiction EP. A five-track taster of their upcoming album, available only through a singles club in the US. Has some good new tracks, though I still think they shouldn't have taken the guitar line out of San Pedro.
- 5. The Postal Service - Give Up. Indie synth-pop from Seattle; intelligent and well arranged, even if some of the love ballads may be a bit too perky.
- 4. Radiohead - Hail To The Thief. This could possibly have been album of the year, or close to, had it not been for EMI deciding to release only defective versions in most markets (the US being an exception). In any case, the set of MP3s leaked onto the internet prior to release was actually slightly better than the released version (for example, The Gloaming lost its third verse before making it to CD). NOTE: The Null Device does not advocate violating copyright laws.
- 3. Belle & Sebastian - Dear Catastrophe Waitress. The Glaswegian indie-pop collective's latest album, produced by Trevor Horn, and bouncing all over the place, from rock to pop to retro. A bit fey in places, but then again, you'd sort of expect that.
- 2. Minimum Chips - Gardenesque. Three tracks they recorded for SBS and a longish studio arrangement. Good, if a bit short. Maybe one of these years they'll record a full-length album?
- 1. Spearmint - My Missing Days. Spearmint probably have the best songwriting of any English indie band these days. Their songs are very much about subjective experience, and don't confine themselves to the usual romantic-relationship clichés that sell well, but cover other things, like accumulating too much stuff as one goes through life, or the process of really getting into a book. Their music is pretty good too, reminiscent in places of Pulp or someones.
(A number of albums were disqualified for not being available to the public in non-defective CD format; being available on import from the United States or similar was sufficient. These include albums by David Bridie, The Thrills and Client.)
My copy of the new Ninetynine EP, Receiving the Sounds of Science Fiction just arrived. I've posted a brief write-up to ninetynine_fan. I'll probably write something more detailed later, possibly for Rocknerd.
Executive summary: it's all good.
Today's InPress has a piece about Ninetynine, which reads much as the one before the Process launch last year did (and appears to have the same publicity photo). Though, interestingly enough, they refer to their upcoming release, Receiving the Sounds of Science Fiction (due out in Australia next year), as their "forthcoming album". Which makes one wonder exactly how many extra tracks the Australian release will have on top of the 5 that the US release has.
(The Beat piece on Ninetynine, in contrast, doesn't even mention Receiving the Sounds, but talks about their most recent album The Process, and its impending vinyl rerelease.)
Looking at the temporary page on the Ninetynine web site; apparently there is a video for The Process, but it's in streaming Windows Media only. (The XML-like file linked to also says it's copyrighted by Festival Mushroom Records, which sounds a bit odd, given how the band like to own all their own masters, unless News Corp. commissioned the video themselves or something.) Anyway, whuffie to the first person to send me a HTTP, FTP or BitTorrent link to a file of the video. (Preferably in MPEG4 or some good-quality format. Windows Media 9 and below is OK as long as there's no DRM involved; i.e., as long as mplayer on Linux will play it.)
And here are their Australian tour dates:
Fri 19th Sept - Annandale Hotel w/ The Devoted Few + Disaster Plan. - 8:30 Start $8
Sat 20th Sept - Pop Frenzy Presents.. @ The Taxi Club, 40 South Dowling St, Darlinghurst w/ Disaster Plan - 9pm Start
Sun 21st Sept - All Ages Show @ The Club House, Jubilee Park (under land bridge) Glebe w/ Pure Evil. 2pm - Donation
Fri 26th September - Rob Roy Hotel w/ Pink Stainless Tail (CD Launch) + Jihad Against America
Sat 27th September - Rob Roy Hotel w/ Love of Diagrams + Because of Ghosts
And apparently there's vinyl of The Process coming out too. (Which stands to reason, as labelmates Architecture In Helsinki have been doing the vinyl thing too.)
The new Ninetynine mini-CD is out, and it's called Receiving the Sounds of Science Fiction (how's that for a cool title?). So how do you get it? Well, you can't buy it, but you can get it by joining the Dark Beloved Cloud singles club. No, it's not a dating service. To join, you send your details and six hand-decorated 3"x3" cards (which will become the artwork for other people's singles) to a PO box in New York.
If your creative skills aren't up to it, you can always wait for the UAR Australian rerelease next year, which apparently will have bonus tracks. (I wonder what those will be; new original material, remixes, live tracks, or multimedia content?)
(Thanks to Leigh for the heads-up)
I'm currently listening to Jelly CD, a compilation (released around 1995) of EPs from various projects one Lora (now Laura) Macfarlane was involved in in the early 90s (notably the Sea Haggs, Keckle and some of her solo material). It's rather interesting; it's similar, in places, to the first Ninetynine album (funny, that), all jagged guitars, garage-rock vocals and power-pop songwriting, though with a few oddities thrown in (quite a few of the tracks end with the sound of a radio being tuned between channels), and the odd cute indie melody here and there. There's a bit of chromatic percussion (often sounding rather discordant), though no Casio keyboards. The most interesting tracks, though, would be some of Lora's solo pieces; in particular, Boot, which eschews the pop-song format for thrashy acoustic guitar chords and abstract soprano vocals alternating between pretty and deranged. This is immediately followed by a pop song about the theft of a woollen beanie.
Keith Urquhart's remixes of the last Ninetynine album are online in convenient MP3 format. Check them out. (The Kinetic Factory one is my favourite; and the Cleaner one is also pretty interesting.) (via Rocknerd)
Update: There now appear to be MP3s on the Ninetynine website; also worth checking out. You haven't lived until you've heard Wöekenender.
A rather unusual object fell into my hands today: an unreleased album of electronica remixes of the last Ninetynine album. They vary from plausible dance mixes to some quite interesting experimental IDM (think somewhere between Björk and the FourPlay remix album from a few years back). A full review
will be posted shortly has been posted here.
I just came back from the Heligoland CD launch, which was pretty good. The DJ (Electric Sound of Jim) actually played some Field Mice (Missing The Moon, actually) which made my day. Too few of us Mice fans in Australia.
I also got a look at a copy of the newly-pressed new Sir album, titled Trapped In A World Of Make-Believe, that Jesse had with him. It looks quite promising; the artwork looks very crisp, and the track listing has various songs they've been playing since The Night I Met My Second Wife. I look forward to hearing it, and probably spinning it in a DJ set or three.
(And speaking of DJ sets, hopefully there'll be some good news about those in the not-too-distant future. Watch this space for details.)
Oh, and Ninetynine have a new 4-track EP coming out. (Yay!) Unfortunately, it's only coming out in the US and UK; Cameron says it's because nobody's interested in putting them out in Australia. I wonder why that is; whether it's scene politics rearing its ugly head, the local market being too conservative to accept casiopunk as a valid genre, or collateral damage from the Back-To-Basics Rock Revival. Anyway, time to keep checking Twee Kitten, I think.
And the Heligoland gig was good. They played some new tracks and some older ones, in their usual æthereal style, and as an encore did their cover of Kraftwerk's Neon Lights.
Notonova is a site in Germany which has a lot of pictures of recent Melbourne indie band gigs; including a few of which I've been at. (I see someone else has followed Ninetynine halfway around the world with a camera.)
Apparently he'll have videos up soon too; hopefully they'll be longer than the 30-second clips my Canon Powershot makes. (What the world needs is a good Ninetynine live DVD or three.) (via Rocknerd)
Btw, the new Chat et Fille T-shirt they have looks pretty doovy, in a Belle-et-Sebastien sort of way.
I just came back from the Ninetynine gig at the Rob Roy. There's some good news: they're playing again in late June before Laura moves back to Perth. Oh, and they're touring Europe (again) in October.
The gig was brilliant, btw. The Ninetynine set included the 3 new songs they have been playing the last few gigs, and rocked. The Grey Daturas were also pretty cool, in a Mogwaiesque sort of way. Though I must admit I'm not a huge fan of the Bird Blobs; they're a bit too pub/blues-rock for my taste.
Tonight's Ninetynine gig was fun. The Process sounds interesting with the Polar Angle drum loop. Their new material is also quite good (the sort of New Order/Stone Roses/Blur-sounding song which keeps changing its name (it was called something like "Look Out For Trams" tonight) is very cool, as is Red Weed (i.e., the one in 15/16 time).)
(The support, Royalchord, were entertaining, in a slightly retro-kitschy tex-mex way, too. If they release an album, they should try to get it out in 8-track format. Even though most people won't have a means of playing 8-tracks, it'd be a pretty doovy collectible/conversation piece.)
Btw, next Friday at the Rob Roy is Ninetynine's last gig in Melbourne before Laura moves (temporarily) back to Perth. By coincidence, the next night at the Tote is the last local gig for local all-girl power popsters Bidston Moss before BeTh moves to her newly-acquired dream home in Queensland.
Local music scene news/gossip: apparently Ninetynine won't be playing around town much in the future, as Laura is moving back to Perth (where her family live). Though they're playing at the Love of Diagrams CD launch next weekend, and possibly a few shows after that. Or so I'm told. (I hope this isn't the end for them; if they broke up after the tour de force that was The Process, it'd be a shame.)
Meanwhile, Sir's new album will be released on local indie Unstable Ape, who are also home to local post-rock/grindcore fusion outfit The Night Terrors. The title won't be "Only Lonely", as previously suggested, but something else.
One of Melbourne's most original and consistently rocking indie bands, Ninetynine, have a new website, including tour dates (they're coming to Adelaide and Sydney soon) and a lot of MP3s. (Personal recommendation: start with Polar Angle, The Process, Wöekenender, and perhaps Baluchistan or Cois Is Hamdu Lilah, and take it from there). And apparently videos will be up soon too. Excellent...
For those reading this up in Sydney, I just heard that the mighty Ninetynine will be in town tomorrow (Saturday) night, playing at some place called the Spanish Club. No idea where that is, I'm afraid. Though if you can't make it, word is they're doing a gig at the Hopetoun in a month's time or so.
Apparently they'll also have a new website up and running in a few weeks, run by some guy in England. Hopefully this one will actually be up to date.
(I went to their gig at the Tote tonight, which was quite doovy (despite a minor sound problem during The Cleaner); they played a rocking rendition of Wöekenender as an encore. Though it seems they're not any closer to giving the new song a proper name. And DJ Low Sperm Count's DJ set wasn't too bad, in an electro-hiphop-meets-trashy-pop sort of way. Oh, and Tatu don't sound as dire as I feared. (I suppose having Trevor Horn on board made the difference.))
I finally went to see Dirty Three tonight, and I don't see what the fuss is about. Yes, there is dionysiac energy in his violin playing, but the arrangements seemed fairly bland, and a bit on the random side; not as emotive as, say, the Bad Seeds, or as intense as someone like, say, Mogwai. IMHO, as far as string-based live acts go, FourPlay do a better job. (I'll probably get death threats over this, I know...)
One thing I noticed: Warren Ellis the violinist has a lot more hair on his head than Warren Ellis the sequential-art writer.
Oh yes, and Black Heart Procession were quite good too; they started with a prerecorded video with some English-accented Nick Cave lookalike announcing that Black Heart Procession are dead, having all been gruesomely murdered, and that the musicians playing tonight are merely their restless spirits in borrowed bodies. As the two musicians played (guitar, keyboards and theremin), videos of the band were projected behind them (some of them looked a bit Lynchian, and others had that surreal, and vaguely macabre, quality favoured by certain San Franciso hipster types; the Lomo-style split screen on the first one was kind of doovy though).
(And apparently the new Ninetynine song is titled "My Hobby Is Better Than Your Hobby". I wonder if this title will stick, though.)
Ah yes; the Architecture in Helsinki gig last night was good. They played most of the songs off Fingers Crossed, including a longer version of One Heavy February with actual vocals. (That song will undoubtedly be an enigma to those who haven't seen them live.) They also had an assortment of hand-made merchandise, including a surfeit of button badges. (For AUP10, you could get a set of badges of Macintosh icon renderings of all the band's members; though I just got the two "Fingers Crossed" badges.)
(The support set by Ninetynine rocked hard, but you knew I was going to say that. And the dance number by those two birds with funny wigs and party poppers was somewhat amusing, in an art-schoolish post-ironic-hipster-kitsch sort of way; well, what I could make out of it over the heads of the crowd from the front of the other stage.)
This afternoon, I made my way down to the Fitzroy swimming pool. Why, you ask? No, not to do a few invigorating laps of the pool, nor because of any sort of aesthetic liking of the smell of chlorine and the sounds of children running around and splashing, but because today was Rockpool, the annual daytime-concert-at-the-pool event. No major international artists, but local acts (like B(if)tek and Architecture in Helsinki) came along to give something back to the community.
In particular, I showed up just in time to see the Ninetynine set; the first one of the year, I believe, and the first time I had seen them since London. The sounds wasn't ideal, but the energy was there and it rocked. (Incidentally, they seemed to rely on a MiniDisc for a lot of the rhythm loops; perhaps they're running out of Casiotone keyboards or something?) They did a new song, with Amy singing; it sounded a little New Orderesque, at least to my ears. (Occasionally I wonder just how much they were influenced by New Order/Joy Division; that and the guitarwork on Woekenender and Laura's lyrics sounding just a tad Barneyesque in places.) Anyway, they rocked.
The audience was full of pale indie types who don't usually go in the sun; some were looking a tad awkward in bathing costumes, others came wearing band T-shirts and shorts and such. (I was the guy in the Gentle Waves T-shirt and brown cords, looking rather out of place in the sun.)
Last year, I saw an amusing indie duo from London named Partition at the Empress. I recently found out that they were back in Melbourne and doing more gigs, so I went to see them tonight at Good Morning Captain.
It was a fairly good gig; about 2 parts indie-pop and 1 part comedy. They did a number of good songs, the one about fancying some bird for 10 years and then going out with her for 2 weeks that they did last year (apparently it's a true story, too); one titled Emigrating Next Week, about the perils of falling in love with someone when you're about to move overseas, a few mildly political numbers (about war being bad and bigotry against deinstitutionalised mental patients; don't expect bolshy agitprop on the level of Jihad Against America or Stereolab or someone), and some rather amusing and deliberately daft interludes, in between dancing around bozotically.
They were joined on cello by one Sheila B, who's in a band named Fosca (think sort of like Baxendale only not quite as zany); she did a good job accompanying them.
Anyway, it emerged that the guys from Partition were at the Ninetynine gig in London in October, but we didn't run into each other. Probably because darkened caverns with loud music and black-painted walls aren't the best place to recognise someone you spoke to half a year ago in a different country; unless you expect them to be likely to be there, that is.
I wandered down to PolyEster this afternoon, and saw the new Massive Attack CD. Nice packaging; though pity it's not available on a CD (only on one of those copy-restricted non-Red-Book-compliant CD-like things). Bugger that then.
(The label on the packaging says that it works with Windows, presumably in some "secure" DRM mechanism. I can understand us Linux-using nonpersons being snubbed by the recording racket ("get a copy of Windows, you bum!"), but EMI's big fuck-you to the Macintosh-using audience, especially on a Massive Attack disc, is harder to justify. Let's hope they change their minds before releasing the next Morrissey record.)
(Btw, is 100th Window released in Red Book-compliant, non-"copy controlled" CD format in any other territories?)
I did, however, pick up the new Architecture in Helsinki album, Fingers Crossed. The packaging is very cool, and on first listen (six tracks in), it sounds pretty good, in a garage-indie-pop-meets-electronica vein. Some of the tracks sound a bit unpolished (though that's probably deliberate), though there are some real gems; especially Scissors Paper Rock; expect to hear that in one of my DJ sets, possibly next to some Stereolab or something.
(Btw, what is it about Casio-wielding indie bands naming songs after games? You had Lacto-Ovo's Bingo, Ninetynine's Cluedo and Uno, and now AIH have joined the trend.)
I also picked up Stereolab's Cobra and Phases Group... while I was there. With that, my Stereolab collection has doubled in size over the past week.
4 1/2 hours remaining: Favourite CDs of 2002:
- Club 8, Spring Came Rain Fell. Very nice indie-pop from Sweden, with just enough electronica.
- Victor Lancaster, Mr. Mention Yes, the guy who plays the plastic bucket drums in Melbourne. And, with the attention of local remixers, this disc is better than you'd expect.
- New Order, Here To Stay (single). New Order back in fine form.
- Ninetynine, The Process. Their best album so far; quirky, sophisticated and with all the energy of their live sets.
- Parsley Sound, Platonic Rate (single). Very laid-back and mellow.
- Stereolab, Sound-Dust. It's Stereolab. Naught More Terrific Than Man is probably my favourite cut.
- Various Artists, Can't Stop It! Australian Post-Punk 1978-1982. Contains a wealth of stuff from proto-synthpop to Dadaist noise to jangly guitar-pop.
Honourable mentions: Sigur Rós, (), Letraset, Snowy Room, Architecture in Helsinki, Like a Call (single) (especially Jeremy Dower's remix), Qua, Forgetabout (the title track is great, though much of the rest is a bit too generically laptop for my tastes), Season, 2,551,446 seconds, Pipas, A Cat Escaped, The Flaming Lips, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots.
CDs I meant to get but didn't manage in time for this list: Happy Supply, Crucial Cuts, GY!BE, Yanqui U.X.O., Ivy, Guestroom, some local spoken-word/electronica thing titled Every Third Breath.
Older CDs I listened to a lot in 2002:
- Belle & Sebastian, The Boy With The Arab Strap
- The Field Mice, Where'd You Learn To Kiss That Way (yes, again; I just can't leave it alone, honestly I cannot...)
- FourPlay, The Joy Of
- Hope Sandoval & the Warm Inventions, Bavarian Fruit Bread. Very nice.
- Lush, Split.
- Mogwai, My Father My King. Intense, immersive noise.
- Radiohead, OK Computer, and I Could Be Wrong
- Slowdive, Pygmalion. I travelled a bit, and it made excellent music for journeys.
- The Smiths, The Queen Is Dead. This is becoming my favourite Smiths album.
As promised, here are a few photos from the Ninetynine gig at the Metro Club, a black-painted, mirror-lined cavern beneath Soho:
I went along to the Ninetynine gig in Soho this afternoon, partly to see them and partly for the supports (it's always interesting to see what supports a band has in a different city).
The first band was meant to be a C86-ish outfit named Kicker; but they pulled out, and so were replaced by a band called The Projects. They were fairly typical indie-pop; guitars, keyboards (a Casio and, adding that particularly English touch, a Novation analogue synth), and punchy short songs with indie-pop sensibility. They were OK; pleasant enough, though they didn't stand out much.
Next up was a punky outfit named The Lollies. Comprised of two Canadians and an American who met up whilst in London, the band consisted of a punk rocker girl with pigtails, fishnets and a Powerpuff Girls T-shirt playing guitar (with lots of jagged chords), another girl in a white singlet playing bass (quite nimbly and melodically), and a guy with sideburns and black-framed glasses behind the drums. They were sort of power-pop, alternating between punk numbers and wry pop ballads (such as Office Romance); think something not far from Bidston Moss, perhaps. Anyway, I ended up shelling out the ten quid and getting their CD.
Then Ninetynine came on. They played with a 3-member lineup, without Iain (that's the anarchist hipster guitarist). They had a few technical glitches early on, and the PA/mixing was a bit muddy in places, but they rocked and the audience picked up on that, applauding wildly after each song. (Mind you, Laura said at the end of the show that about half the audience were from Melbourne.)
I did manage to get some photos (my camera sort of works), but this laptop's rather slow at editing them and it'd take me all night to get some thumbnails ready, and I'm too tired. Maybe later.
And a big hello to all my readers in the international indie-pop underground; in particular, to the Japanese indie kids coming here via this bulletin board. I don't know Japanese, but it appears to be some sort of indie-pop-related web BBS, with a rather twee colour scheme, some very kawaii-looking cat cartoons and some intriguing fragments of English text
The show starts at 8 p.m. MINISKIRT will play roughly 12 songs including their classics "Blue Contact Lenses" and "No Jesus No Coffee No Coffee No Jesus" and some new songs which they never played live before.
(I'm wondering whether "win a sheep free" is the name of a band, and if so, what they sound like).
The Babelfish translation sheds slightly more light on it, not to mention a few particularly doovy turns of phrase, such as "super luxurious gorgeousness".
Btw, if you came here looking for the photos from last weekend's Ninetynine CD launch, they're here.
Tonight I went to the Corner Hotel to the Ninetynine album launch. First up was Max, a local singer/songwriter/accordionist whom some describe as "Björk meets Tom Waits. I got in as she was playing her soprano-klezmer number; she did a few more songs after that, mostly with her Little Ensemble.
Next up were another local band, Love of Diagrams. This outfit have been around for maybe a year or so; they played with Ninetynine and Sir at the Punters Club on Valentine's Day, and have played around town a few times since then. Anyway, they're a band worth keeping an eye on; guitar, bass, drums, and they can certainly fill a space with sound and get the crowd moving. I'll probably put the video I got of them online in the next few days.
Finally, Ninetynine came on, and put on a terrific show, even by their standards. They played for about an hour, doing pretty much all the songs from The Process, and a few older ones too. Cameron was in particularly high spirits, playing like a demoniac, interacting with the crowd and throwing himself into the show. (At one point he announced that Synthetic was about the Pepsi commercial in which Michael Jackson's hair caught fire and the experiments that continued from that; though that doesn't sound much less plausible than the official line about it being about the Assyrian empire.) Towards the end of the set, a guest (Hi Ben!) joined them, adding some extra guitar riffs to The Specialist (their Northern Soul number). The set ended with The Process; the audience went wild calling for an encore, and the band obliged, coming back on stage and launching into Polar Angle, playing until Cameron collapsed. Now that's showmanship.
(I also liked their new merchandise; in particular, the fluffy llama logo adorning it looks quite doovy.)
(Update: photo links now go to images from the photo gallery page for this gig, which also has other images.)
This week's street press has some interesting articles; InPress has interviews with members of Saint Etienne (who say their new album Finisterre is a concept album about London, and that they have a set of short films that goes with it), Mogwai (who once printed T-shirts reading "BLUR ARE SHITE", and then found out that Japanese and US fans tend to be people who are into all British indie/alternative music as a genre), and Ninetynine, talking about the odd varieties of bands they've been booked to play with on their various tours (i.e., in Europe they have played with hardcore/metal bands a lot, not because they're metal as fuck but because of the pop bands all being signed to labels and them being independent). And there's another Ninetynine interview in Beat as well, which makes a Krautrock comparison; hmmm...
(I've noticed the Mogwai thing, about non-British UK-indie fans clustering into "Anglophile" subcultures, as well. Take for example Steve Wide's show on 3RRR, which plays everything from Oasis/Radiohead-wannabe bands to pill-popping dance grooves to French/Icelandic bands liked by UK-pop fans; or a UK-indie list I lurked on once which was mostly wannabe-Mods exchanging trainspotter-like lists of classic swingin'-60s movies and talking about their scooters. Or cliques of US-based "Anglophile" kids exchanging in-jokes on band-related mailing lists.)
A short (30 second) video fragment I took at last night's Ninetynine performance. The bad camerawork is mine. (5.5Mb; AVI format, with somewhat dodgy sound).
Hmm... Ninetynine's The Process comes out on Monday, and chaosmusic.com already have a page for it. The track listing looks very promising (and the excerpts I've heard on 3RRR do too). The artwork doesn't seem to have the same indie-geeky quality of previous albums (they've ditched the graph paper, I see, along with the numerical album title thing), but it's probably appropriate, as their sound has become more fluid and organic and, dare I say, more mature.
Right now, I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of this disc.
3RRR just played the title track from (a sampler of) the upcoming Ninetynine album, The Process. Hmmm... on first impression, it sounds impressive. It has a lot more energy and punch than most of their earlier recorded material (which tended towards the meandering in places, at least in my perception). Of course, the songs sound different in a studio recording than in a live show; it doesn't have quite that reverberating adrenaline rush of seeing them live, but I could hear a finer, more layered quality to it. If the title cut is representative of the album, it's set to be impressive indeed.
As the last entry suggested, I went to the RMIT film department stolen-gear fund-raising show at the Corner tonight; or at least to part of it. First up I saw part of The Night Terrors' set; they didn't have the trademark fluoro lights, but did do a set of their usual unrelenting onslaught of grinding bass guitar, buzzsaw synths and theremin, like some mutant gothic hot-rodders from hell. Or about as metal as you can get without being Metal (or using guitars), as the case may be. (Though the frontman could probably pass for a Scandinavian metalhead.) Ninetynine played a set with lots of energy, doing many old songs (starting with Wöekenender and ending with Polar Angle), and a few newer numbers (though the triptych they started their other shows with was there only in part). Then came La Scimmia, who played various brooding minor-key things (mostly instrumentals, apart from one anti-US rant at the start). The Grey Daturas then played a half-hour set consisting of sheets of guitar feedback, with drums kicking in in the middle. I left shortly after George W. Bush started playing as they seemed like fairly uninteresting pounding-drums-guitar-riffs-and-screaming hardcore punk.
Some photos from tonight's Ninetynine performance, courtesy of my new(ish) digital camera:
Ah yes; I've started working on a proper photo content system. Not quite up to Cos's level yet, but give it time...
(Note that the photo URLs will probably change from returning an
image/jpeg to sending back a HTML page for the image in question.)
Update: the photo URLs have now been changed to point to images in the more recently uploaded photo gallery for this gig.
I went to the Rob Roy tonight to see some bands. First up were La Scimmia, who were a sort of cinematic jazz instrumental thing; perhaps a little similar to Dirty Three. They were followed by Ninetynine, whom it appears most of the people came to see. The crowd got really packed. And the band rocked, playing all new songs and doing a great job of them.
(Aside: I can't remember ever seeing a Ninetynine show that didn't rock. I remember seeing them once many years ago and not paying much attention, other than "hmmm, vibraphones and toy keyboards.. interesting", but that's because I went there to see The Paradise Motel (IMHO, perhaps the greatest Melbourne band ever), and because I didn't really "get" the indie/garage-band/casiopunk aesthetic back then. And/or because their style has evolved a lot since then.)
Then the Night Terrors, whose CD launch this was, came on. A screen was set up behind the stage, and films were projected onto it (one of the first was Un Chien Andalou, and a lot of the audience weren't expecting the eye-slicing scene at the start). Fluorescent lights were placed against the back walls of the stage, and switched on and off during the performance, adding an eerie, backlit effect to the guy playing the theremin. In one word, the performance was electric.
Afterwards, Cameron Ninetynine took on DJing duties and entertained the remaining people with his rather odd record collection. (He seems to have a thing for that Star Wars disco theme piece.)
In live music news, Ninetynine have completed recording, mixing and mastering their new album. It'll be titled The Process and should be out in 3-4 weeks.
(I dragged myself along, doped up on pseudoephedrine, to see them tonight. They put on an intense show; more so than you'd expect from a group of people who had been up for 48 hours putting the finishing touches on an album. And they're playing in about 2 weeks' time at the Rob Roy.)
I had a fairly busy evening tonight (in a good way). Readers of my blog may remember my dilemma from a few days ago. To whit; two shows worth seeing, both unlikely to be repeated, on the same night. Firstly, American indie singer/songwriter Jen Turrell was playing at the Empress, in her last tour of Australia before she and Stewart have to stay in the USA for two years (it's a permanent residency requirement, I believe); secondly, the ever-rocking Ninetynine were set to play at the Tote, in possibly their last gig before their world tour. If I missed them, my next chance to see them would probably be in Reykjavík in November.
And then I realised that (a) Jen was playing a support set, while Ninetynine were headlining, and so if I went to see Jen, and then rushed down to the Tote, I had a good chance of catching them. Which is exactly what I did.
I got to the Empress shortly after 9. Jen was the first act on, and went on stage at 9:30, playing about a dozen short, sweet jangly-pop songs, accompanied by Stewart on bass and their TR-808 on Minidisc. It was a very nice set, with a lot of lovely harmonies and classic chord progressions, and a bit more than a touch of fey sensitivity.
Then I made my way to the Tote. I got there halfway through the second band's set. The band room was quite full, and I recognised a number of the people there (Jesse from Sir, Sarah-Jane from I Want a Hovercraft, a girl who followed Ninetynine all the way from Sweden, and a guy who collects Casio keyboards were some of the people I ran into.)
Anyway, Ninetynine came on, and they rocked hard. They had a lot of kit with them (vibraphone, glockenspiel and three Casios), swapped instruments a lot, played with great energy, doing a lot of new songs and finishing with an intense version of Polar Angle. Their new material is very strong; sophisticated and layered, and yet with a spiky edge and punk energy, and their next album (due in 3 or 4 months) should be something to look forward to.
It was a good night.
I just realised that this Thursday night, Jen Turrell is playing at the Empress (on tour from the US for the last time for a few years, most probably), at the same time that Ninetynine are playing at the Tote. It's things like this that make me wish I could be in two places at once.
This coming Saturday at Pony looks like being another great electro-pop night, with quite an impressive lineup. New Buffalo, Letraset and Laura McFarlane of Ninetynine are all playing on the night.
The Ninetynine show tonight rocked. They played mostly new material. Their first song was in three parts, with an instrument swap in the middle of the song. Kind of like Stereolab, only without the pretentiousness. Other new pieces showed a more layered, textured sound, though with no lack of punk-rock energy. (During one of Cameron's intense, violin-based pieces, I was reminded of Fourplay's Gypsy Scream.) And they successfully managed to make Casiotone keyboards sound unironic, which is quite a feat. It looks like the next Ninetynine album (hopefully out before they set off for their tour in October) is set to be quite doovy.
Oh, and Preston School of Industry weren't bad either. They played a tight wall-of-noise rock/pop, with driving basslines and jangling guitars, and the odd My Bloody Valentine moment or two. Since this was at the Tote, Collingwood's premier hardcore/metal venue, someone in the audience kept calling out "PLAY SOME SLAYER" and such.
Splendid reviews the most recent retrospective EP by Ninetynine (who, I think it can now be announced, are supporting Preston School of Industry at the Tote tonight; Shhh! it's a secret...)
Tonight was a good night; I went to Pony, to see a number of bands play. First up was Midstate Orange (a project of Tim from Lacto-Ovo), who were good (perhaps a bit Cure-inspired in places, almost shoegazer in others, and they did one song which was best described as Northern Soul with Casios). Then Lacto-Ovo came on, and did a great set, playing various album and non-album tracks; people started dancing at this stage. Finally, an act named Winterville played; they consisted of 2 guitars, drums and a double bass, featured Michelle formerly of Ninetynine in their lineup, and sounded a bit Dirty Three-inspired.
I met a number of people I knew there; Peter from FourPlay was down from Sydney, and Nick and Naomi from Dandelion Wine also came along. A bit later, I ran into Cameron from Ninetynine, and talked with him a bit. Apparently, Ninetynine have signed a distribution deal with News Corp. "indie" subsidiary Trifekta (though retaining their own copyrights and creative control, so they won't end up being turned into the next George), and at the end of the month depart for some 3 months' touring overseas.
The show at the Punters was OK. Love of Diagrams was a guitar/bass/drums
outfit who played a really tight, energetic instrumental set.
Then Sir came on, doing a number of songs (topically enough, they played Handsome first); they were good, though let down a bit by problems with the sound.
Anyway, they played their new songs, which was good.
Finally, on came Ninetynine, who rocked. They played various old and new songs
(including the old one with the Casio VL-1 drum loop; a real touch of class,
that), with tremendous energy (as usual, Cameron went berzerk on the drums),
swapping instruments between songs as they usually do.
They also mentioned that they're supporting Stereolab when they tour, though I
think that's at the Prince of Wales show, not the Corner one
(to which I'll probably be going).
Pity I couldn't be in two places at once, because Partition were doing a support set at the Dan O'Connell at the same time. I really wanted to hear what their Field Mice tribute song was like...
Tonight I went to the Ninetynine CD launch at the Corner Hotel. It was excellent. The first support band was Baseball, a side project run by Ninetynine's drummer, the mad-haired Cameron Potts. It was an interesting set; with Cameron, another guy and a girl who looked a little like Laura from Ninetynine (but wasn't), playing an eccentric assortment of instruments, including an accordion, a small drum, a violin and various shakers, and performing a number of quirky songs and melodies. Baseball are certainly a band to look out for. Then came a punkish band named Flesh Vs. Venom, which apparently features members from defunct punk-popsters The Vivian Girls. They were OK (one of the songs they played sounded like Joy Division's Interzone, albeit with different lyrics, and in other places they sounded a bit like PIL or someone).
Finally, Ninetynine came on, and put on a characteristically brilliant show, swapping instruments in between shows, and playing with much energy. Not surprisingly, Cameron stole the show, flailing about behind the drums like a man possessed. The audience loved it, and at the end, called for more. (And Ninetynine obliged, playing one of their older songs (the one with the bleepy Casiotone drum loop that probably comes from a pencil-case-sized toy keyboard.)
Tonight I went to the Corner Hotel to see Scottish punk-pop combo Life Without Buildings, supported by New Buffalo and Ninetynine. I actually went mostly for the support acts, and wasn't disappointed.
First up, New Buffalo played a short set on the side stage; the lineup consisted of Sally Russell on vocals and keyboards (and occasionally guitar), backed up by a drummer and bass player. Unlike the show at Revolver, this time the sound guy got the mix right, and it sounded quite good.
Then Ninetynine came on the main stage and put in a characteristically frenetic performance. The members kept swapping instruments (two xylophones, a stack of Casiotone synths, guitar, bass and drums), and doing it with a lot of energy and a sense of humour. The drummer, in particular, stole the show, pounding at the drums frantically and generally jumping about like a maniac. (He's the guy with the vaguely Robert Smith-esque hairdo.)
Then New Buffalo played another set, which was also good, except for the two airheads behind me loudly catching up on the latest gossip, oblivious to the fact that there was a show on. (I'm Wayne Kerr, and if there's one thing I hate, it's idiots who talk loudly at band venues. If you want to catch up on the latest social chitchat, do so outside.)
Finally, LWB came on; at this stage, I was quite far from the stage, and could barely see them (the venue was packed, mostly with fresh-faced indie kids). They played an energetic show, with singer Sally Tompkins (a cute ickle punkette) bouncing around and singing/shouting her stream-of-consciousness lyrics. Not bad, though it only got really tight towards the very end, and all their songs sound rather the same.
Tomorrow night, I'm going to see Prop at Revolver; and on Saturday night I may be going to see Down Town Brown at the Dan O'Connell. (Hmmm; I should really set up an upcoming-events page of some sort to list all this stuff.)