The Cribs @ Manning Bar, SYDNEY 19-02-2010 Review + Rant

Posted in Music, Review by jukeboxparables on February 20, 2010

I don’t want to start reviewing live shows on here really, but last nights show will be the exception because, well I need to get this rant about this band off my chest. So let me indulge;

I was actually pondering if me and my drunken posse of friends were going to be the only people turning up to this show. The general rule of thumb is if a band is Indie and British they usually carry a truckload of hype wherever they may travel, in most cases un-deserved. As far as The Cribs go, it’s quite astonishing to me they’re not filling 5,000 “seat” venues. There is no hype, It’s beyond me how they’ve managed to fly under the radar in Australia and many other places. The Manning Bar being a small-mid sized venue (capacity 900) and It wasn’t sold out last night.

Sure they’ve had a bit of exposure in the UK, but it took 2 full-length albums for the mainstream media to START to take notice. It’s probably a combination of various factors varying from indifference; people simply ‘not listening’ and painting them with the brush of ‘just another brit-pop band’ to the ignorant and mind-numbingly stupid; per PITCHFORK MEDIA and their review of second LP “The New Fellas” which stated the band were essentially a rip off of The Strokes. This is a fundamental and glaring mis-understanding of the history of music. The Strokes didn’t invent Garage Rock. It’s the equivalent of saying The Ramones are a rip off of The Sex Pistols (with UK v USA rivalry noted, hence the analogy) The Cribs have their own list of classic garage/punk/post-punk influences however varying from understated bands Orange Juice and Comet Gain to Johnny Thunders, The Ramones and Nirvana to name just a few.

Not many bands/people understand those latter artists for what they were, most see/hear/think ra-ra-ra + violence mixed in with leather jackets / tight jeans or flannel. A band like The Ramones were really about; 1-2-3-4 cover up our inner frailties and love of classic melody/pop/hooks with an assault of raw energy, Nirvana likewise.

The Cribs get this, it comes naturally.

The greatness of “The Strokes – Is This It”, noted (and voted album of the decade by NME) “The Cribs – The New Fellas” is just simply a better album. It does everything “Is This It” does (down to it’s raw, lo-fi and real ‘splashing in the sun’ innocence) and then just does so much more. The Strokes could never write a song like “The Wrong Way To Be” let alone anything like the songs off The Cribs third LP “Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever” which is testament to the growth of the band. Any similarities with other classic lo-fi garage/punk rock bands was left behind with the release of MNWNW. Hit Single “Men’s Needs” gave the band real exposure and is a staple on Indie dance-floors the world over, the problem being most DJ’s have NFI and don’t play anything else by the band and hence most Indie hipsters I talk to either say Who? or “Oh yeah that Men’s Needs song”. The Cribs are so much more.

Take track “Be Safe” off MNWNW for example, the track features a collaboration with Sonic Youth guitarist/vocalist Lee Ranaldo, who contributes a chilling and blunt spoken word lamentation about modern day living. It’s 6minutes long and has a building drumroll leading to a final chorus near the end that can only be described as ‘epic’. Hold on? Weren’t The Cribs a lo-fi innocent raw melody pop garage band. Where the hell did this come from?

It’s called progression and growth without loosing your core sound/values and without completely abandoning your original style. The amount of bands that have pulled this off in ALL of music history I can honestly count on one hand. Think about this… think about one of your favourite ‘big’ bands and compare their first album to their most recent/last. Either it’s the same or it’s unrecognisable. I’m not saying bands don’t grow, I’m saying they grow and essentially sound the same, or grow and completely shift away from their early sound.

When The Cribs latest LP came out late 2009 I thought my little theory as stated above had been shattered. Sure they managed to pull it off after 3 albums, maybe it was a fluke, maybe it was all ex- Smiths/ModestMouse guitar god Johnny Marr’s fault?

Their 4th LP “Ignore The Ignorant” is altogether more clean and neater sounding than MNWNW. So have they broken my little ‘growth rule’ and abandoned their raw low-fi history? Well yes and no. MNWNW was already a step-up from purposely going for a lo-fi sound but it still had that rawness and more growth than a pumpkin on steroids. Johnny Marr joined the band officially in 2008/09 this automatically broke the rule of the ‘classic’ 3 piece band formula. But how did that change effect the sound?

On the first few listens, it all sounded ‘too safe’ for me. The clarity and neatness of the songs seemed to me like they’d gone too far away from their previous album. Or so it seemed, perhaps it was just the production? Perhaps it’s just the next logical growth step-up. I wouldn’t know until I saw it all come together.

Well last night, along with my apprehension of me/friends being the only people there due to everyone seemingly not knowing much about the band. I was also wondering if the band would sound “too safe” if the new songs would stand out like sore thumbs. If Johnny Marr’s well known docile stage presence had rubbed off on the band?, had they forgotten how to be punk? Forgotten how to turn a standing crowd into a chorus chanting riot? Or was that riot chanting chorus?

They kicked off with Ignore The Ignorant opener We Were Aborted and pretty much all I can conclude after that was people yelling at their top of their lungs, dancing, shouting, people crowd surfing and falling happily to their deaths over the barrier arms in the air… still singing. It was an utter fucking blur. I then noticed near perforated ear drums, these guys were loud. I then noticed Johnny Marr swooning about the stage like a possessed mad-man guitar in awkward positions aimed at the sky, or some random point in the crowd. We’ve all seen him in Smiths footage, I’ve seen him live in Modest Mouse… it was nothing like this. The Jarman brothers have rubbed off on Marr rather than the other way around. He’s apparently 20years their senior, but last night he looked their age easily matching the energy levels. We’d later joke that he’s a superhero whose super-power is un-aging immortality.

Hey Scenesters!, the crowd goes into sing-along overdrive and its only their 2nd song. It’s a lament about one of the bands early-on fascinations; Interacting with the pretentious scenester-crowd.

Then it hit me, It was utter consistency. Somehow those previously thought ‘safe’ sounding songs were now ‘full’ sounding raw numbers that slotted in the set perfectly. Old raw-riot offkey distorted song Direction slots near reserved clean-tone newy We Share The Same Skies and it works? How does it work!? Gary and Ryan (who share vocal duties) shout at their mics as if the inanimate objects themselves are their own worst enemies.

Drummer Ross stands up on the seat of his drumkit to the close of various songs making sure he can hit the crap out of those cymbals as hard as physically possible. The timing of the songs is perfect, none too slow and with the energy of some of the numbers you’d think The Cribs would get carried away and speed through things. Not a chance, they play like they’ve been doing it for decades with the energy of a band whose just kicking things off. In a way they kind of are, Johnny Marr onboard is a kick up the butt to any stale thoughts of repetition the Jarman’s might have started to aquire after doing this for eight years or so.

Interestingly Last Years Snow is played early in the set, I pictured it more of a ‘hold lighters to the sky moment’ but it yields a strong singalong with kids still ready to mosh about. Continuing the theme from Hey Scenesters! is Mirror Kissers “You aren’t allowed to say that you’re better. You aren’t allowed to say that cos you’re the hipster type” This is a straight out dig at the hipsters of the world; pretentious self obsession is everything this band is against. I’m reminded of the popular film clip for the song which is pure parody. By the time this song started, I couldn’t hear the vocals. The crowds combined singing got so loud and the crush to get to front reminded me of attending crazed metal gigs as a kid. This was Intense.

I then wrongly thought that would be the highlight and couldn’t be topped. When MNWNW opener Our Bovine Public kicked in people really did lose their shit; people began jumping the barriers to get on stage, weave between the band and launch themselves superman style into the crowd for a surf. I’m reminded of some of the better/crazy punk shows I used to attend as well some footage of fans incessantly doing this at Nirvana shows.

A break in the songs and one of the Jarman’s get on the mic to talk about something I can’t make out because Im deaf. But I do catch something along the lines of; “this next song was written over 8years ago and thousands of miles away” the crowd reacts with cries of “Wakefield, Wakefield, Wakefield” (the bands rough and tumble blur-collar hometown in Yorkshire England where they grew up, where according to an interview people would start fights with them just because they’d be carrying a guitar to practice) This band has literally fought people to do things their own way. Debut self-titled album song Another Number then kicks in. It’s utter simplicity and pop perfection is one of my favourites.

By the time Be Safe rolls around, I’m stepping away from the second row towards the back to take in the sound from a different perspective. Lee Ranaldo’s giant head is projected onto a screen behind the band leaving them in silhouette for his spoken word. Pretty good value; The Cribs an ex-Smith and a member of Sonic Youth in one night. I then realise there is actually a half-forming circle-pit starting from row 4 or so back. What the? Kids are still crowd surfing. I actually didn’t mind one bit at the several kicks to the head I copped. So many venues have banned crowd surfing, despite people normally acting like dickheads or what you might think of it. It was great to see people just completely lose it.

I’m pretty sure they closed with Ignore The Ignorant or was it City Of Bugs? which screeched to an end with waling feedback and drum crashes. I could be wrong as I’ve said it was an utter blur, even when I stepped back to try and get some air the sound was full on and completely overwhelming. There’s no getting away from this band when they’re on, the energy radiates to all corners of the venue.

Then it was all over, my friend copped a drum stick square in the forehead as people scurried to pick it up. No souvenirs for us and no-bullshit-cliched-pretendwalkoff-encore. The Cribs are the real deal and I’m going to go home and listen to Ignore The Ignorant having settled it in my mind, it is yet another level of growth for the band with no compromises.

Setlist? (from drunk memory, I’m actually certain it’s way off in bits including omissions) So leave a comment if you remember better.

We Were Aborted
Hey Scenesters!
We Share The Same Skies
Hari Kari
Last Years Snow
Mirror Kissers
Our Bovine Public
Another Number
Be Safe
Men’s Needs
Cheat On Me
Ignore The Ignorant
City Of Bugs

Movie Review: Avatar

Posted in Film & TV by jukeboxparables on December 30, 2009

What. I’m reviewing Movies now? No, not really but Avatar is worthy of an attempt. More of a rant probably.

So people have been raving about James Cameron’s Avatar, especially the 3D screenings. So what It’s like? I’ll start by saying; I now know how cinema goers must have felt watching Star Wars for the first time in 1977. It is honestly that BIG of a leap from everything that’s been released recently. It makes George Lucas’ last effort (Revenge of The Sith) almost laughable in its effects and most certainly in it’s scope.

This was my first experience with this ‘new’ 3D business as opposed to the shoddy blue/red cardboard glasses of the 90’s. The latest technology (My screening was in an Event Vmax 3D cinema) retains colour and is completely engaging rather than the distraction of old.

Anyway onto the movie; I saw the teaser trailer of Avatar on it’s release and immediately sent the link to a few friends. I wanted to go along with the story, but there was something off about the trailer. I made the call then; It was either going to be the best or worst movie of the year. So I thought I’d shake off the hype and wait a bit after it’s release before watching.

Browsing over some reviews from various critics and endless forums. The world has become a league of critics hasn’t it. This movie is like that movie, it’s stolen plot pointers from movie X, Y, Z.

“Ferngully” and “Dances with wolves” has been sited again and again.

Which one of those movies was set on another planet? Which one had mech-warriors and mercenaries hired by a dying planet (Earth) to mine minerals and then turn it into an all-out war between planets/races? And most importantly which one of those introduced the MAIN plot trigger of this movie. The idea of Avatars? Amazing new Science that lets humans remotely drive bodies of half-breed Na’vi (the native race on Pandora) that are 10ft tall?

I must have missed that bit in “Dances with wolves” where Kevin Costner goes to sleep in a Teepee and remotely controls a 10ft Wolf in his sleep which he then uses to battle his own race?

My point here is; James Cameron makes us feel and believe wheel-chair bound Jake Sully when he sheds his chair, climbs into the Avatar control pod and then awakes in a foreign alien body. He awakes disoriented, humans desperately trying to control him. But it’s too good to be true, not only is he a 10ft tall blue super strength alien, but he can walk. He can run!

Somehow we’re engaged in this? A triumph for the director and the writing.

“Oh but cmon it’s; Protagonist turns to Natives, learns their ways… joins them and has inner conflict” It’s Last Samurai, Ferngully, Pocahontas, Lawrence of Arabia, Dances with wolves, Point Break and say The Fast & The Furious.

I hope I just highlighted my disdain for base-plot comparisons. If you reduce yourself to that level, as many people do how could you possibly enjoy cinema ever again? Every episode of Star Trek across all series and movies is then basically the same. Every Prison movie, every war movie, every love story. Why watch both the Shawshank Redemption and The Great Escape? same movie. Why watch Saving Private Ryan and Apocalypse Now? same movie. Why watch anything with Meg Ryan?

My long-winded point. It’s ALL in the details and Avatar is a movie of fine combed detail, the scope of the world James Cameron has created. Pandora and it’s culture, it’s biology, it’s people. It’s totally compelling. Anthropologists would be proud.

I found myself not wanting it to end.

Every time Jake Sully awoke from his avatar pod. Leaving the world of the Na’vi behind; a world of running amazing speeds, jumping from tree to tree in amazing bio-luminesence forests, flying on winged dinosaur-esque creatures whilst dodging waterfalls only to find himself almost hung-over and back in a wheel chair, back in dreary corporate military reality. Completely tied down as a slave to modernity. It all somehow felt familiar.

Perhaps Cameron was aiming for something deeper? Is the link Sully shares with his Avatar our link with our dreams? Or perhaps it’s a metaphor for our day to day lives with respect to our distant human history. Once upon a time we freely roamed the plains and the forests of Africa, in fear of lions, in the hunt for buffalo, in awe of the night sky and the magic of the jungle. Running as fast as our feet would take us.

That was so long ago that it doesn’t seem real. As I’m stuck here in this chair, at this laptop bound. Back to reality.

Bravo James Cameron.

Review: Sonic Youth – Daydream Nation

Posted in Music, Review by jukeboxparables on December 1, 2009


Ever since I decided I’d start reviewing music on this blog, Daydream Nation was in the back of my mind. Why? Simply because the mere prospect of trying to put this album into words is a salivating challenge. I’ve long thought that words are inadequate to describe music, which seems like an obvious thing to say. But not many albums out there truly convey the shortcomings of literary prose more;so than Sonic Youth’s Daydream Nation.

What is Indie?, What is New-wave?, What is No-wave? And what about that much used Umbrella term to seemingly describe everything since the 1980’s –Alternative? Most people you speak to would attribute different meanings (or at least bands) to those categories, some of which you and I would vehemently disagree with. You don’t really have to have a debate with them about it because It’s all summed up by one band on one album.

In 1988, Sonic Youth released their fifth studio album; Daydream Nation. In retrospect it’s been given shiny reviews and has a long list of accolades appearing on many ‘must have’ and ‘best of’ lists over the decades. The album was not an immediate success however as their label at the time went bust and the album was out of print for some time.

What’s going to make describing this album well so darn hard is that I feel an almost nostalgic need to delve into the history of the band, the ‘scene’ and happenings surrounding the band not only in 1988 but from their inception, if anything to highlight their growth from their self titled debut EP in 1982. But I’m going to put the burden on me; I’ll try and review it without going into all that.

But what I will delve into briefly is references; Daydream Nation connects together various themes from an expansive artistic world (the band’s various influences) weaving them into a complex magic-eye decorated woolen sweater. When you let your ears blur ever so slightly; things begin to jump out at you.

“Teenage Riot” is the opening track, it was also the bands first single off the album. It’s allegedly about an alternate dream-world where the lead singer of Dinosaur Jr; J Mascis is President. It goes on to give a nod to The Stooges track “We will fall”. It kicks off with this slow, clean slightly haunting yet completely disarming guitar riff with lyrics being delivered by bassist Kim Gordon in a spoken word stream of consciousness style. And then suddenly it picks up as if a strong gust of wind has filled the sails and the boat is on it’s way.

Everybodys talking bout the stormy weather, And whats a man to do but work out whether its true?
Looking for a man with a focus and a temper, Who can open up a map and see between one and two

Third track “The Sprawl” has particular influence alluding to influential author William Gibson’s SCI-FI Trilogy (the trilogy features famed book Necromancer) Amongst other things Gibson wrote the short-story Johnny Mnemonic (later adapted to film) The 3rd book from the trilogy ‘Sprawl’ is titled ‘Cyberspace’ Gibson coined the term and the resounding theme is one of a world in the near future where dark corporations rule and technology via AI becomes something sinister.

By the time you reach fourth track “‘Cross The Breeze” you start to feel a shift in your mood, your overcome by this kind of up-beat numbness; It’s a combination of the previous tracks working on your psyche and the intro guitar picking of this one. It’s an urgency to do something profound, but alas your caught in a siren song of sorts. It’s all akin to something like being in a mosh pit, staggeringly drunk, falling over and just not bothering to get up again, watching yourself get trampled in slow motion; you’ve ceased to care. The Intro’s repeated heavy 8-chord attenuation coming like blows to the head. Then it all ‘seems’ to clear up and all you hear is Kim Gordon incessantly repeating “I Wanna know…” That memorable 8-chord repeating thud comes back towards the end and leads into a sweet clean outro only outdone by track “The Sprawl” before it which can’t be described without going into passe’ metaphors about use of illicit substances. It’s really …that good.

Track five “Eric’s trip” is a nice break from the previous two songs (all 15minutes of them.. almost) in that its short and to the point, leaving your head time to recover; the ending line being one of note. It’s hooks are out-done by the following track however. The 7minute:33sec “Total Trash” Sonic Youth don’t let up for long. This isn’t a pop album, use your head. Concentrate.

If anything though. By the time you’ve reached the end of the eighth track “Providence” you either begin to see the ultimate brilliance of this album or you’ve been lost in it all and you see its downfall, more on that later. On the track in question, Mike Watt; Iconic bassist of the mid 1980’s band Minutemen (amongst various other projects) is heard calling Thurston Moore and leaving a late night phone Message. This message is blended into the track’s eerie echo piano intro and layered with what is apparently the impromptu recording of one of the bands amps in melt down amongst what sounds like recorded wind distortion/interference. The amp’s valves have given all they can and will never make music again. It’s actually my favourite track on the album.

[Mike Watt]
“Thurston! Watt! Thurston! I think it’s ten thirty, we’re calling
From Providence, Rhode Island. Did you find your shit? You gotta
Watch the motin’ Thurston, your fuckin’ memory just goes out tha window.
We couldn’t find it in the van at all, we wonderin’ if you looked in
That trash can. When we threw out that trash, man, was the bag in
Your hand, did you dump it? Call later. Bye.”

I did say the intro piano sounded eerie but that’s not quite right. The track captures a desperate sort of sentimentality. It’s at this point you realise your listening to the avant-garde. And now to that downfall I was mentioning earlier. It’s more of a paradox than anything else. Daydream Nation, or any other brilliant album that pushes the boundaries in such a way can never really be given a 10/10. It’s completely inaccessible to the average-joe music listener. The musician in me say’s who gives a damn, such people don’t deserve to listen to this because they won’t appreciate it. I think Art should be hung on a wall for all to see sure, but the question remains can a piece of art with references and themes so deep really be as appreciated and engaging as say; the traditional pretty picture? It all depends on the listener of course.

Rating: 9.2/10


1. “Teen Age Riot” – 6:59
2. “Silver Rocket” – 3:48
3. “The Sprawl” – 7:42
4. “Cross The Breeze” – 7:01
5. “Eric’s Trip” – 3:49
6. “Total Trash” – 7:33
7. “Hey Joni” – 4:24
8. “Providence” – 2:42
9. “Candle” – 4:59
10. “Rain King” – 4:39
11. “Kissability” – 3:09
12. “Trilogy (The Wonder – Hyperstation – Eliminator Jr.)” – 14:04

Sonic Youth
Daydream Nation
Released: 1988
Label: Enigma

Review: Shugo Tokumaru – Exit

Posted in Music, Review by jukeboxparables on March 11, 2009


So I was tallying up a score for this album and thought to myself, Oh my is it really that good? So I went back and tried to fault it, again and again but failed. The goal of most album reviews is to dissect an album and strenuously try to put how great (or bad) it is into words that convey the actual output of the sound qualitatively.

Fifteen seconds of the first track and you will know exactly what this album is about. It’s zany, in your face, bizarre circus-style Japanese Folk music and I love every second of it. No over the top in-depth stern talking to required on my part.

Shugo Tokumaru is definitely not a house-hold name to most. Though the young Japanese artist has been releasing music since 2004. This, his latest offering was released in Japan back in 2007 but us gaijins didn’t get it until September 2008.

Exit is a lesson in Indie-Pop-Folk. It’s sung entirely in Japanese, normally foreign albums tend to be grating and quickly lose their novelty but that’s not the case here; I’d happily place Exit amongst my best albums of 2008. The opening track “Parachute” sets you off down an Anime inspired skip and hop through the backstreets of Tokyo whilst warm dazzling lights eventually knock you over and then your falling; out of a plane; towards the city; you spot a circus tent and it breaks your fall. You’ve hit your head and you shake it off and try and come to your senses but track2 “Green Rain” grabs you and shakes you back to your odd dazzling adventure.

The actual music is by no means standardized, the chord progressions of various layered instruments such as: piano, acoustic guitar, drums, synths, flutes and any number of other devices create a brilliant texture of borderline horror-movie insanity but instead of making you feel ostracized as if on a certain illicit substance plagued by paranoia you feel a certain warmth. It’s infectious and catchy yet complex but subtle.

Shugo apparently bases his songs off a dream journal. This explains a lot. After subsequent listens of Exit you feel distinctly that if that vivid colourful dream you had last night had audio; this would be it’s soundtrack.

This album is east meets west in a way also. Traditional Japanese movements are mixed with Indie-pop rhythms. It’s a bit of everything without leaning too much in one direction to be easily pigeon holed. Comparisons could be made with fellow Japanese artist Cornelius, at least when tracks swing over to the electronic side of things more-so than usual. Shugo himself however claims influence on this album came from Japanese Pop and a pile of old Beatles cassettes. No doubt that analog sound of those cassettes transfused themselves onto Exit.

I’ve already mentioned that this is sung entirely in Japanese, no track better illustrates how much the language barrier is broken by this album than the sing-along “Button” You’ll be singing “Hey yay yay” in no time, even though I’m almost certain that is not what is being said. It somehow doesn’t matter though. This album let’s you go with the flow.

Things get minimalist on “La La Radio” and you get the feeling Sigur Ros is being channeled. A banjo with a traditional Japanese instrument and xylophone? Perfection! Up to 50 different instruments were used on this album along with household items such as cutlery, an ashtray, a doorbell and wind-up toys.

I wish I had a list of translated lyrics so I could comment on lyrical prose but It just doesn’t even matter. To say that it breaks those barriers is an understatement. If there’s a bad point to this album besides it possibly being Schizophrenia inducing (You lose contact with reality, forget your name and perhaps even forget where you are) Is that it’s so solid it’s hard to go back and pick a stand-out track and say I want to put that on repeat. It’s 4stars across the board, all tracks have that special something.

Subsequently, this all adds up to an album with that special something. It’s even more special when you come to realise Shugo produced the album himself on his own laptop.

Rating: 8.3/10


1. “Parachute” – 3:04
2. “Green Rain” – 4:53
3. “Clocca” – 3:27
4. “Future Umbrella” – 2:04
5. “Button” – 4:02
6. “Sanganichi” – 2:37
7. “D.P.O” – 1:51
8. “Hidamari” – 4:37
9. “La La Radio” – 5:28
10. “Wedding” – 3:16

Shugo Tokumaru
Released: 2008
Label: Almost Gold Records

Review: The Go-Betweens – 16 Lovers Lane

Posted in Music, Review by jukeboxparables on March 7, 2009


I’m going to come straight out with a ‘big call’ there is probably no more an authentic Australian album than this 1988 release by Brisbane band The Go-Betweens, their 6th and final album (with an original lineup) Of course that’s as subjective as statements come. But put aside AC/DC’s Back In Black for one moment and let me continue, traditionally speaking the world thinks of Australia through the eyes of our biggest musical export’s visual imagery. Thunder, dust, breaking out of gaol (gaolbreak damnit!) blue singlets and probably utes doing burnouts. All of those things are completely absent from a band like The Go-Betweens. This album is a culmination of sorts for them and It’s a different yet equally valid perspective on things.

What does that even mean; authentic Australian album? Well at first listen 16 Lovers Lane projects tales of love, loss, reserved regret, melancholy moments and fiery proclamations. Those things aren’t exclusively Australian no, but the way these stories are told and crafted are exclusively Australian, they’re instinctively the work of The Go-Betweens.

Each subsequent listen drags you further and further into the scenes of the album. You get the distinct feeling of driving in an oldschool kingswood not-so-hurriedly as to miss passing scenery; tall golden grass plains and country cow pastures roll by yet with pertinent swiftness as if to make some pressing meeting in inner-city Brisbane, A pressing meeting to sort out matters of the heart even.

The opening track “Love Goes On!” with apt use of the exclamation mark, Grant McLennan almost cheekily delivers a line that could well be a book-blurb summary for the album.

There’s a cat in my alleyway, Dreaming of birds that are blue
Sometimes girl when I’m lonely, This is how I think about you

After only a few listens of this album initially. I found myself making comparisons with bands like The Smiths. It was the only thing in my mind that I could strike a comparison too either them or rather more loosely The Pixies. I still think there is a hint of London love and longing etched throughout this album. Although less urban, more acoustic and slightly more oddball-folk-Australian. This may be a bit of an unfounded comparison musically. But If your one for comparisons there are certain ‘quips which you’d pick Morissey as having penned. The album was recorded in Sydney at Studio 301 and written in Australia shortly after all of the members returned from a tough time in London, England where they were for several years. You get the impression that the memory of time over there was hovering over them and set the scene for part of the mood of this work even though its themes are universal.

You get the distinct impression this is Art, it’s not intended to be a pop album, it flows more like a short novel or a collection of short-stories; cut scenes from a life of living with love and all it’s shortcomings/glory. Yet pop sensibilities do indeed shine through.

Take the grab-you-first sing-along “Streets of Your Town” probably the bands most famous tune. It’s simple and yet paints a clear picture of it’s intention. A place where every landmark is a reminder of someone and something special.

Round and round up and down, Through the streets of your town
Everyday I make my way, Through the streets of your town

While its easy to hear this track as a stand-out. After subsquent listens it isn’t. The album has so many stand out songs it’s hard to chose a favourite they’re more a collective of parts that function to create a mood and I probably shouldn’t be talking about them individually. But this mood is two sides of a coin.

At the time one half of the songwriting duo; Grant Mclennan was in a relationship with fellow band member Amanda Brown the exclamation on the opening track now resonates what Grant was writing about though it is best expressed on “Quiet Heart” the love-struck feel of the strings backing the track having been arranged by Amanda, whilst other half of the songwriting duo Robert Forster penned more introverted outside-looking-in tunes “Love is A Sign”

I’m ten feet underwater, Standing on a sunken canoe
Looking up at the waterlillies, They’re green and violet blue
Still the sun it finds, A place to light me

Nearing the tail-end of the album another of Robert Forster’s tracks “I’m Allright” grabs every lover that has ever dealt with broken hope and replaces any remaining melancholy angst and leaves listeners incessantly repeating I’m allright…

A personal standout however comes from Mclennan’s “Was There Anything I Could Do? The rhythmic driving acoustic guitar gets your feet tapping whilst the lyrics tale a tale of confusion and bemusement.

She went out with her paint box, Paints the chapel blue
She went out with her matchsticks, Torched a carwash too
I don’t know where she’s living, All I’ve got is a card
A picture of her at the pyramids, A knife held to her heart
Was there anything I could do?

16 Lovers Lane is a bit of an enigma; It’s pop album yet at first listen its hard to really ‘hear’ it’s hooks. It’s a bunch of great songs penned by a duo sitting at opposite ends of the table of life’s luck in love. Yet somehow it’s all perfectly intertwined. It somehow is the perfect soundtrack for both driving in that kingswood on a sunny day in the suburbs or country Australia happy and content yet equally valid for a dreary rainy Melbourne (or perhaps London?) day when everything has gone wrong.

Rating: 8.5/10


1. “Love Goes On!” – 3:19
2. “Quiet Heart” – 5:20
3. “Love is a Sign” – 4:12
4. “You Can’t Say No Forever” – 3:57
5. “The Devil’s Eye” – 2:05
6. “Streets of Your Town” – 3:36
7. “Clouds” – 4:02
8. “Was There Anything I Could Do?” – 3:06
9. “I’m Allright” – 3:10
10. “Dive for Your Memory” – 4:17

The Go-Betweens
16 Lovers Lane
Released: 1988
Label: Beggars Banquet Records / LO-MAX Records (2004 Reissue)


Revewing music; a method?

Posted in Music by jukeboxparables on March 6, 2009


So I’ve vaguely mentioned reviewing cd’s and whatnot. Why? Well there is an endless amount of albums out there that make me feel a certain way and I want to describe that. So instead of me using this blog as some sort of stereogum wannabe site reviewing ‘the hottest new shit’ I’ll probably just go over my back catalog.

But the question is, how to review them? Should I use the passe 5-star system? Or be totally hipster post-modern and not use a rating system at all? Let the words and music speak for themselves? Although I admit I like that a tad… I’ve instead devised this ad-hoc approach.

Rate each track out of 5, divide the total by the possible total (total tracks x 5) Then use the percentage as a score out of 10. This though makes it almost impossible for an album to score above 9 so on my own terms there’s bonus points (because an album is more than the sum total of its individual parts)

0.4 originality – Something new?!
0.3 diversity – Monotonality? (Is that a word?)
0.2 coherence – It has to flow!
0.1 mood – If it achieves its desired goal.

I like it because its fairly harsh. Reviews these days are far too optimistic. And those bonus points will be used at discretion, eg: not all of them have to be used

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