Tijuana Cartel are celebrating the release of ”Offer Yourself,” their first single of 2012, with a month long tour.

It’s a far cry from the three-month mission they embarked on late last year, but it should see the Gold Coast act fresh faced as they stop in on capital cities and regional centres.

It’s also the perfect warm up to pending international dates, which include a slot at America’s acclaimed Burning Man Festival and Germany’s Fusion Festival.

See Tijuana Cartel off in style at the following shows:

12 May 2012 – Bay View Hotel, Batemans Bay
18 May 2012 – Soundlounge, Currumbin
19 May 2012 – The Great Northern, Byron Bay
24 May 2012 – Northcote Social Club, Melbourne
25 May 2012 – Oxford Art Factory, Sydney
26 May 2012 – The Great Northern Hotel, Newcastle
31 May 2012 – Prince of Wales, Bunbury
1 June 2012 – Settlers Tavern, Margaret River
2 June 2012 – White Star, Albany
8 June 2012 – Divers, Broome
9 June 2012 – Hotel Kununurra, Kununurra
15 June 2012 – The Bakery, Perth

Image used with permission from Shiny Entertainment

Last week David Campbell took me back to my childhood when his Let’s Go tour touched down in Newcastle. I expected big things from the show. I knew I’d be treated to songs from my favourite decade of music, and I’ve never left a DC show without a big smile on my face. Predictably he didn’t let me down.

As the lights came up we were instantly transported back to the 80s. The band wore more neon than I’ve seen for years, and the lights were straight out of the period. It was perfect. He opened with the title track, “Let’s Go” and barely took his foot from the throttle as he treated us to songs from the album and other 80s favourites. As a child of the 80s those unexpected gems were some of the night’s highlights for me. His stripped back version of “Every Time You Go Away,” beginning with an a capella section, was breathtaking. His take on “Knew You Were Waiting,” with back-up singer Josie Lane stepping into Aretha Franklin’s shoes was so much fun. And his version of “Power of Love” was even more awesome after hearing his story of performing it as a teen beginning his journey as a musician. Those tales really made the night for me, the reminiscing about buying Smash Hits magazine and recording songs from the radio using the old two-fingered method. They were probably lost on certain sections of the audience, but as a 30-something I was right there with him.

I’ve always loved seeing shows at Newcastle’s Civic Theatre. It’s such a beautiful venue, so intimate and so well appointed. But it may not have been the best place to see David Campbell. I spent so much of the night dancing in my chair, dying to do more. As he started “Goody Two Shoes” it all got too much and Mum and I jumped out and found a quiet corner to dance. The theatre’s not really the place to do that, but who can sit down with that sort of music?

The show was brilliant but it probably wasn’t the right venue. Thankfully David’s announced some more dates later this year. I think I might have to go back for a second helping!

Image source: own photos

The Aves will whip crowds into a frenzy when they take their new EP Panic on the road next month.

The Adelaide outfit will play dates in Victoria and New South Wales before returning to the City of Churches. It’ll be a short homecoming though, as the band are slated to appear at Canada’s NXNE Festival in June.

The Aves will treat audiences to their gritty brand of garage pop at the following shows:

9 May 2012 – Yours and Owls, Wollongong
10 May 2012 – Lansdowne Hotel, Sydney (Free)
11 May 2012 – World Bar, Sydney
18 May 2012 – The Gasometer, Melbourne
18 May 2012 – Pony, Melbourne (2 am)
1 June 2012 – Worldsend, Adelaide

Image used with permission from Show Off Services

Sydney singer-songwriter Andrew Drummond charmed me this week with his new EP The Grey Pelican.

There’s nothing fancy here, but the five tracks are beautifully crafted. Andrew’s voice reminds me a little of Tim Freedman’s, although the anchoring presence of the acoustic guitar gives the music a very different feel from The Whitlams back catalogue.

The strong lyrics really struck me. I was so glad they were printed in the liner notes so I could pore over them. The words aren’t particularly pretty, but there’s an honesty about them that helps the songs pack a real emotional punch. The subject matter is very dark at times but it’s framed in such a clever way that we never feel bogged down.

The opening track “Morning Light” is a gentle introduction to Andrew’s music, beautifully built but paled by the haunting “Solitary Space” that followed. “I Can Feel You” is a particularly poignant name for the third song, as I truly could feel all the emotions that come with losing a loved one as Andrew sang about it. “Wander Aimless” was perhaps the weakest track, with repetition that started to feel tired towards the end rather than driving the point home. However the EP was definitely redeemed with the closing number “Northern Poet.” It’s such a gentle and poignant song, but sometimes the best numbers aren’t the ones that scream the loudest.

The Grey Pelican isn’t perfect, but it moved me. Andrew Drummond should be proud of these five songs. I look forward to seeing what comes next.

This concert review is way overdue. There were birthdays, a few days away in Port Stephens, and a nasty cold I’m still fighting, so it’s only now that I’ve had time to cast my mind back and reflect on the wonderful music I heard in Lizotte’s on April 12.

It was a stormy miserable night, the kind of night that tempts even the most serious music lover to pike on the cheap tickets they’ve already bought and rug up in front of the television. After all, we bought the tickets for Annabelle Kay’s show after hearing just one song, her cover of “The Real Thing” on Adam Hills’ In Gordon Street Tonight. But I didn’t pike, and once I was toasty warm in “the cubby house,” with a full belly, and being soothed by some gorgeous music I was glad I’d made the effort.

Dominique Morgan and two of the members of her outfit The Six Dollar Shoes kicked off the night with some bluesy folk music. I loved Dominique’s sultry, husky voice, and the stripped back sound of her band. I’m not sure what they sound like when they’re full strength, but the acoustic mode really allowed their songs to shine through. I want to make special mention of the drummer, who provided the backbone of the songs by banging on a box with his bare hands and feet. Their originals were surprisingly tight for an outfit that had only worked together for a few months. I also appreciated the covers that peppered their set. Their takes on “Steal My Kisses” and “Purple Haze” showed this is an act with real diversity.

Then it was time for Anabelle Kay, the local girl who’d captivated me with her unique voice and folky sound on television. As a newcomer to her music I didn’t know any of her songs, but this was the perfect setting for an introduction. In such intimate settings with stripped back instrumentation, often just Anabelle herself on a guitar, ukulele, or mandolin, I could hear each and every lyric and truly appreciate the melody behind them. I was a little disappointed she didn’t play more songs with the mandolin, the instrument that first attracted me to her, but it was a minor quibble on a night of such glorious music.

As my husband and I looked around the crowd it felt like we were surrounded by the friends and family of the artists that appeared. It’s encouraging to see musicians so well supported by their loved ones, but I hope it’s not too long before these two awesome acts earn some mainstream recognition.

Image source: own photos

In the early naughties Adele Pickvance and Glenn Thompson were rocking Australia as part of the reunited Go-Betweens. These days they’re back together as a duo dubbed, what else, Adele&Glenn. With a new single gracing the airwaves, an album release looming, and a national tour booked in, it seemed like the right time to catch up with one half of the twosome, Adele Pickvance.

You worked together before in The Go-Betweens. What inspired you to create this new double act?
We wanted to do this years ago. Our first attempt was around  2005, but geography got in the way. We’ve been a rhythm section, or ‘engine room’ as one might say, together for around 17 years and this just felt like the right time to do it, to step out to the front together.

What does your previous experience in the industry bring to this new band?
I think the industry is still trying to work itself. I have learnt it all comes down to ‘the song’ at the end of the day. Good songs remain in the hearts and minds of folk.

You’ve just released a new single “I Dreamt I Was a Sparrow.” What was it about that song that inspired you to unleash it on the masses?
It wasn’t until we had finished recording the album that ‘I Dreamt I Was A Sparrow’ just leapt out as a great first single. It’s a pop song and a nice intro into the album.

It sounds really different from the music you made with The Go-Betweens. How would you describe your current sound?
This is just how we sound. We basically went about the recording process as we used to with Robert and Grant. We were lucky that we had a lot more time in the studio and we were able to experiment.

The single comes from your forthcoming album Carrington Street. What can you tell me about it?
I moved from Brisbane to Sydney (Glenn’s home town) a couple of years ago and as I had mentioned before, we had attempted to record previous to that, but now the geography was right, and now was the right time. We spent a lot time arranging the songs, then commenced recording in Glenn’s studio, Horses Of Australia in Marrickville. We were in a lovely situation of having no deadline, and as we both love the recording and mixing process, we could have kept going and going … but we decided to pull the baby out of the bath water late last year. The name Carrington Street is inspired  by the location of the studio.

You’ve announced some shows to launch the album. Are you looking forward to playing these songs for the people?
We are indeed. It will be the two of us on stage. No loop pedals, machines … just us two and the songs, and alittle bit of charm.

Those local shows are only along the East Coast. Will the rest of Australia get the chance to see you live soon?
We hope so. We don’t have anything in the pipeline as yet, but we hope so soon.

I believe you’ve also got some shows coming up in Germany. What inspired you to take the album that far afield?
The label is ‘Glitterhouse Records’  They asked us, and that was a wonderful surprise as this means we are able to tour Carrington Street in Europe this year. Germany and Australia have a kinship when it comes to music which is a wonderful thing.

Have you got anything else in the pipeline you can share?
New videos, still trying to embrace Facebook and Twitter. Any tips gratefully received with thanks.

Catch the technologically-challenged twosome as they travel about the country launching Carrington Street at the following shows next month.

23 May 2012 – The Standard Hotel, Fitzroy
24 May 2012 – The Vanguard, Newtown
31 May 2012 – Black Bear Lodge, Fortitude Valley

Image used with permission from Footstomp Music

After catching up with his touring buddy Phia yesterday, it only seemed fair to talk to another Aussie ex-pat Mez Medallion. Read on to learn about his new life in Berlin, his shows with Phia, and of course, his music!

You’re living in Berlin, which is a long way from your Melbourne home. What made you leave Australia behind?
Well I guess you can never fully leave Australia, not that I would want to anyway, because the internet, especially Facebook, keeps you connected with friends, family and fans. But in terms of the timing of leaving Australia for a while, I had come to a point where I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do with music and my creativity. I had so many ideas, half finished songs, half recorded songs but I needed a clean canvas and to separate myself from all my home comforts to distill my ideas and take the good bits of my past and fuse with the freedom and fire that comes from living in a fresh vibrant cultural capital like Berlin.

I was drawn to Berlin having visited before and drawn to the rich cultural/artistic activity. There is just so much happening all the time and being able to cycle between all of it is an added bonus. I love having the opportunity to refine my vision in this fresh environment and having the whole of Europe at my doorstep. For example, last year I did a tour of Iceland and as you know, now we drive only three hours and we’re at our first stop in Poland.

You’re touring Poland with Aussie girl Phia who’s been there before. Did she given you any indication of what you can expect?
I heard from Phia and a few other friends (also Australian) that Poland is a really cool and beautiful place to visit and the audiences are keen to hear fresh new music, very open minded.

What is it about Phia that made you want to join forces with her?
Well, I think we both bring a very contemporary version of the solo artist to our shows. People can often think of solo artists as being a person and their acoustic guitar, which is a totally cool and valid way to express yourself. But with my own background in live looping and now moving into the use of Ableton/laptop on stage with my guitar and voice I’m creating a big package but it’s my vision. Phia too has her unique way of storytelling, building textures and grooves with the most minimal of gear a Boss looper, kalimba and an octave pedal with voice and vocal percussion. I mean for a package of instruments that fit in a bag there is something intimate, sophisticated, honest and very cool coming through. So, yeah, we sound quite different but we are part of a new breed, I think.

The tour is well timed as you’ve just released your debut single in Europe, “Move Towards the Light.” What can you tell me about the song?
Well it’s got big beats, swirly synths, jangly guitars, and a friend of mine said it has “toms that would make Phil Collins envious.”  I think it is a really great balance between the familiar and unfamiliar both in its textures, catchy melodies and in the story behind it. When you see those movies like Close Encounters of the Third Kind, the kid is drawn to the unfamiliar which then subsequently becomes the familiar. I just launched the film clip which you can check out on YouTube, which was filmed before I went away in an old farm in the Victorian countryside with the additional props of tennis balls and kerosene. I don’t want to give too much away to your readers but in the clip, there is a sport to it, an avoidance, a battle, but in the end the person submits to this light and is embraced by something quite alleviating and beautiful.

If you like what you see you can download the song for free here.

The track comes from your forthcoming EP. How’s that recording shaping up?
Well, actually I just got the final master last week and it’s six really fantastic tunes I’m very excited about sharing. The sounds are really cohesive despite reflecting my varied influences and point in the direction of where I’m going (album?). It moves from Fever Ray-esque slow tempo synth worlds, to Coolio in the Bermuda triangle, a bit of LCD Soundsystem meets Grizzly Bear and New Order melancholia. A friend who came to a show recently said that it was “thought-provoking pop but you can dance to it”. I like that.

I draw my sounds from a variety of sources in trying to paint just the right vision; some of it was over-driven drums recorded in a lounge room on my laptops in built mic, to phat analog synths, ’80s/’90s drum machine samples, lots of guitar pedals. I try to build something quite epic, yet somehow retain the intimacy of the songs’ bedroom workshop beginnings. I’ve been collaborating on the production of the EP with the Todd Brothers: Joe Franklin and Oscar Dawson from Planet Love Sound and previously Dukes of Windsor. We started working together when we were all in Berlin and then finished it off via the interwebz when they moved back to Melbourne.

I decided to release the single first and when the time is right release the full EP. I’m already brainstorming the next film clip with a friend of mine here in Berlin and hoping to find a label that understands where I’m coming from and what I want to achieve. If not I’ll just release it myself.
Read the rest of this entry…

Melbourne born and German based singer-songwriter Phia is showing she’s truly a citizen of the world as she tours through Poland this month with fellow German based Aussie Mez Medallion. I caught up with her recently to chat about the European dates, her love of pop music, and life away from Oz. Tune in tomorrow for an interview with her touring partner Mez!

You’re currently based in Berlin, which is a world away from Melbourne. What inspired you to make the big move?
It was partly based on timing – I wanted to have lived some of my life in Europe, and suddenly it just seemed the right time. I didn’t have anything tying me down in Melbourne – no full time job, or mortgage, or university! It was also a career thing; I wanted to explore opportunities over here for my music. Berlin seemed an obvious choice: it’s cheap, there are heaps of artists here. I also have a German passport as my grandfather was born here, so that makes the visa side uncomplicated!

How does life in Berlin compare to living in Australia?
I find it hard answering this question. A lot of answers that I come up with, I wonder whether they are concrete differences, or rather, changes that have come about because my mindset/attitude has changed somewhat from moving overseas. There are some obvious differences of course. I love the travel I’ve done over the last eight months as everything is so close and affordable! I’ve been to Iceland, Poland, around Germany, the UK. In fact, last month someone from the south of France was in Berlin and saw one of my shows and invited me to play at their birthday party. That was fun! I also love not owning a car. It’s an easy city to get around. I ride my bike a lot, and also ride my bike to gigs which is so great. Now that I always play solo, I can fit my gear in a backpack. I’ve had some beautiful serene bike rides home at 3 am on a weeknight, riding down cobble-stoned roads, past canals and bridges, and some seriously old buildings.

You call your music pop, which is a term that’s almost fallen out of favour in recent years. Why do you embrace it?
Because I love pop songs! I grew up mainly listening to the Beatles and then got into contemporary music in the late ’90s, a really great period of mainstream pop music, in my opinion! Those early Britney Spears songs, the Spice Girls, early Destiny’s Child. They had some great songwriting teams. Now I listen to tune-yards, Lykke Li, Fleet Foxes, Grizzly Bear. Pop is such a broad church, and, at least, the first two have a hint of some of those ’90s influences. I’m not aspiring to be Lady Gaga, but a pop song is defined by being catchy, having a clear message and a hook.

Also as I was writing this I realized another reason I love pop is the diversity of great female artists who are out there making pop music, so inspiring.

What makes your pop music different from the stuff that made the term such a dirty word?
When I’m describing my music to people, I do always feel the need to add a precursor to the word “pop” with another, like “experimental-pop”, or “art-pop”. People often hear “pop”, and think you mean disposable music, or at least heavily produced. The songwriting of my music is pop, but the sounds I use are more diverse and intimate, a bit playful. I loop my kalimba on stage and layer my voice, which includes beat-boxing, hand claps and finger clicks, so it’s a bit DIY and a bit experimental at the same time.

Read the rest of this entry…

Buckley Ward will take their new album So Pretend to the masses this month.

The follow-up to Something in the Night is jampacked with perfect pop music with heart. The layered organic sounds and pitch perfect harmonies are what the genre should sound like. The singles “Into the Darkening Blue” and the title track sit amongst new favourites.

So Pretend hits stores on April 20, which gives fans at the first show in Adelaide a little more than a week to learn the words! Here are all the shows on Buckley Ward’s album tour.

28 April 2012 – Edinburgh Castle, Adelaide
11 May 2012 – X&Y, Brisbane
19 May 2012 – The Toff, Melbourne
27 May 2012 – Pure Pop Records, Melbourne
2 June 2012 – FBi Social, Sydney

Image used with permission from Show Off Services

I’ve just returned home after a few days away, so I haven’t had time to weigh into the Prince ticketing debacle. That might be for the best, as it allowed me a few days to cool off!

You’ve probably already read about the dramas in the news, but I thought I’d chime in with my own perspective. I was nervous about scoring these tickets. It’s unusual for concerts to go on sale without a presale these days, and I was concerned about the volume of prospective purchasers flooding the site. I’d read the stories about Ticketek’s system crashing for other popular concerts, and I was anxoius I’d encounter something similar here. It turned out my fears were true.

The site was painfully slow from the get go, but eventually it spat out some great tickets. I attempted to pay for them, only to be told there was an “unspecified error.” And again, and again as the site’s timer counted me down before logging me out and releasing those coveted tickets back to the masses. And so I remained logged out, seeing only a message telling me of high traffic, for another 15 minutes. I called frantically on the phone at the same time with no success. Finally I was in the site again. And along it crawled until it spat out some nosebleed tickets. Disgusted, I threw them back and persevered until at 10:30, an hour and a half after my Prince concert ticket buying adventure began, I secured two reasonable tickets to the Brisbane show. They’re not as good as the ones I was first told were mine, but after reading some horror stories I feel like one of the lucky ones. My gal pal Lisa and I will undoubtedly have an awesome time at the show.

What troubles me most is the lack of responsibility Ticketek’s taken for the whole affair. Its managing director said “We are aware that some customers experienced a ‘timed out transaction’ and whilst we understand this can frustrate eager fans, it is important to understand that a limit on the time allowed per transaction is one of the key measures put in place to ensure fair access to as many fans as possible.” Fair call, but it says nothing of the way the site crawled and refused to accept the payment of countless fans. We all were doing our level best to complete our transactions in a timely fashion, but the site glitches made it an impossibility.

While Ticketek refuses to take any responsibilitybfor the whole affair it seems little will change. I’m admittedly a tech novice but it seems the site needs an upgrade to cope with those high demand days. Presales help ease the demand, but where there isn’t time to allow one offering different sale times for different cities seems a sensible measure. It’d also be nice to somehow see scalpers stamped out. I hated thinking they were buying the good seats while I was locked out of the site. eBay seems to suggest they were.

Infuriated fans have suggested a boycott, but while Ticketek continues to sell for some of the biggest local and international touring acts such measures seem like cutting off a proverbial nose. And so I’ll persevere, but I really hope Ticketek gets its act together soon. Music fans deserve better.

Image source: Scott Penner @ Wikipedia Commons