Tag Archives: Godspeed! You Black Emperor

All Tommorrow’s Parties… Crime and the City Solution

Another sleeping behemoth has awoken, to step out onto the ATP stage next weekend… Crime and the City Solution. After a hiatus of two decades, the band are back with a line up that boasts driving force and Crime mainstay Simon Bonney along with members of the legendary 1987 – 1991 line up, Bronwyn Adams and Alexander Hacke as well as newcomer… drummer extraordinaire, Jim White (Dirty Three).

Crime’s incendiary live performances are the stuff of legend; their music skirting the gothic edges of blues and gospel. At times dark, cacophonous and fuzzed out, Bonney’s theatrical voice always cut through to give the band a chilling, melodious sound. Like Godspeed You! Black Emperor, this is a band I never dreamed that I would see live, having been too young to catch the band in their prime.

Excited, doesn’t even begin to describe how I am feeling…

Here they are at their peak, performing The Dolphins and the Sharks (click the pic below).


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All Tomorrow’s Parties… Godspeed You! Black Emperor

Well, I am getting match fit for next weekend’s epic feast of music. I will be trekking off to Melbourne to have my ears gloriously melted at All Tomorrow’s Parties: I’ll Be Your Mirror festival, curated by The Drones. This is festival brings together bands that I never dreamed I would see live… bands that have had a profound influence on me as an artist and a human being.

First and foremost, there is Godspeed You! Black Emperor (who I will also get to see next Wednesday night in Brisbane before flying down). This band is a monster… and their latest album, Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend! is up there with their finest releases. They make noise that is raw and graceful. Here’s the explosively beautiful, We Drift Like Worried Fire.

More than any other band, they have provided a soundscape to my writing for the past two decades; their sound is for me, like a wave… always building. With each listen, their albums reveal new layers, reach new heights. And the only real way to appreciate the music they make is to stop everything… I am looking forward to stopping the world alongside the thousands of other fans when they reach our shores next week.


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Sounds of 2011 #5: Sing High Gospel

Founding member of instrumental innovators, Godspeed You! Black Emperor & Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-La-La Band, Efrim Manuel Menuck released his debut solo album, Plays High Gospel, this year and while it may not have made a splash on the charts, it has remained on high rotation in my waters since picking up a copy at Amoeba Records in San Francisco. Efrim’s voice is an incredible instrument, a blast of anguish from the depths of the human well. His lyrics, explore the loneliness of the road, urban and physical decay and recently, fatherhood. For me, Heavy Calls & Hospitals Blues is the track of the year… in the blues tradition, listening to it fills the chest with the sweetest ache.

And for those looking for some other fine listening from the year, here’s another handful of (in my opinion) wonderful releases:

X: X-Spurts – the first official release of Australian rock’n’roll misfits 1977 recordings.

Explosions in the Sky: Take Care, Take Care, Take Care – Texan instrumentalists broaden their sonic landscape

Okkervil River: I Am Very Far – Lyrically, this is singer/songwriter Will Sheff’s crowning glory

William Elliot Whitmore: Field Songs – A farmer and an acoustic guitar… doesn’t get more real than this

Steve Kilbey & Ricky Maymi: The Wilderness Years – The creative minds of The Church and Brian Jones Town Massacre team up

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Songs To Write To

There has been some talk lately about getting people to post the songs/albums that they listen to while writing, so I thought I would lead off by posting five of my current favourite artists and links to some of the sounds that are currently helping me put pen to paper. Hopefully this inspires a few others to make a similar post (or leave a comment with links to your fave writing music) so that we can all broaden our musical palette and get a sense of the music that makes our writing tick.

Balmorhea – All is Wild, All is Silent

Balmorhea’s third album is a swirling masterpiece. The musical landscape these Texan’s create slowly draws you in and then let’s the fireworks ignite. And importantly there is enough silence to let the words come freely. Here’s links to two songs from the album – Remembrance and Settler (a great live version)

Tortoise – Beacons of Ancestorship

Tortoise’s latest blends scrappy rock, cool jazz and fuzzed out synth-pop… sometimes all in the one track. They are band that never let you get too comfortable… each change in dynamic making your blood surge and hopefully the words along with it. Check out Prepare Your Coffin and album opener High Class Slim Came Floatin’ In.

Because of Ghosts – This Culture of Background Noise

Recorded at the legendary Hotel2Tango in Montreal, the Melbourne 3-piece have taken their spidery melodies and scratchy percussion to new heights. While their crescendos may make your limbs buckle (in the best kind of way), the journey to the top and down again is studded with beauty. Just watch the clips for “…in 2050 when we know we’ll all be dead anyway” and Dreaming is Essential.

Explosions in the Sky – The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place

I saw this band a while ago and they made my ears melt. Their blistering guitar attack and percussive drive is both melodic and angular. This album has been on regular rotation in my house since its release in 2003 and it has lost none of its shine. Get a taste here: First Breath After Coma and The Only Moment We Were Alone (live… where they are at their absolute peak!)


Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven

For me, the band that started it all… I discovered Lift Your Skinny Fists through a review in The Big Issue and it changed the way I listen to music. Their sprawling instrumentals blend rock, chamber music, samples and field recordings to create some of the most cinematic music of our times. My writing would not be the same without them. So to finish, here’s Antennas to Heaven pt 1 and Antennas to Heaven pt 2


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Vic Chesnutt – Everything I Say

Since the tragic loss of Vic Chesnutt on Christmas Day 2009, I have been delving deep into his albums, and with each listen they uncover greater musical and lyrical depth… as it says on the A Silver Mt Zion website, one of the greatest ever is gone.

This track from his 2007 album North Star Deserter, showcases Vic teamed up with members of A Silver Mt Zion, Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Fugazi and captures the power of their wildly successful collaboration. Vic’s incredible take on folk/blues has never sounded more impassioned…

Listen to this as loud as your computer speakers will allow and let the genius of Vic Chesnutt kick your Saturday into another dimension.

                                                              Everything I Say

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The New Folk VI

 Well, this may possibly be my last post until December 29, as I am jetting off to Tasmanian waters for a few days and may not get near enough to a computer to make an update… so to sign off on what has been an amazing year, here’s a handful of songs to soundtrack these glorious summer days. To all of the people who have read this blog – whether you be a regular, a sporadic visitor, or a fly-by-nighter – thank you. I am already looking forward to an exciting 2010 as there are many projects bubbling away. Big love to you all…

Orenda Fink: That Certain-Something Spring

Orenda Fink’s sophomore solo album blends her love of traditional American folk music and Gothic literature. Recorded live in a basement and a lounge room , the album has that wistful melancholoy that has become the trademark of quality home produced folk. Orenda’s thick as honey voice sails in and out of the mandolin, accordion and saw that give this album a southern tinge. The perfect music to slow time… most definitely an album to curl up with.


Port O’Brien: My Will Is Good

Taken from their third longplayer, Threadbare, this showcases a stripped back sound for Port O’Brien. The album swells like a lung full of salt air, not surprising given Van Pierszalowski spends much of his year working on a salmon fishing boat. This album is making lots of the Best of 2009 lists, and for good reason. It is elegant in its simplicity, dramatic in its craft and brings a pop sensibilty to the folk tradition.


Vic Chestnutt – Coward

Lyrically, there are few singer/songwriters with the literary prowess of Vic Chestnutt and he doesn’t disappoint on his latest release, At The Cut. Released earlier in the year, At The Cut sees Vic team up for the second time with members of Montreal collectives, A Silver Mt. Zion and Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Fugazi. Its a darkly explosive combination, blending Chestnutt’s distinctively simple vocals and guitar playing style with the often mesmeric wail of strings and guitars that Godspeed and Silver Mt. Zion have made their own.


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For the love of lyrics – Jamie Hutchings & Vic Chestnutt

For those with a love of great lyrics, there are some incredibly talented artists coming to Brisbane in the next few months. Two acts particularly have got this Lost Shark in a frenzy.


Jamie Hutchings live at QPF 2007

Jamie Hutchings live at QPF 2007


First up on Thursday July 11 is Jamie Hutchings and His Imaginary Choir at The Troubadour . Jamie Hutchings is the softly-spoken, thoughtful son of a jazz musician, bitten by the bug of rock ‘n’ roll. His life-long passion is and always has been music, the creation of music, the joy and pain of it all. And like so many great Australian artists he has never truly received the attention he so richly deserves. The songs on His Imaginary Choir are a departure from the angular, more aggressive material he is best known for, fronting indie-noise pioneers Bluebottle Kiss. This time around he is in acoustic mode, creating a record that has a pastoral, summery feel, tinged with 1960’s exotica. Lyrically, Hutchings is ahead of the pack. Take these lyrics from Slow Train to a Comfy Jail (from Come Across) for example:

and only heaven could taste as good as this
but there’s no room for our fractured fists
scrawled my name on the wall with a piece of rusty wire
and felt the night extinguish me with its cool cool fire
I spent seven years without my good wife
til I found her laundering incarcerated bed clothes
found her eyes had to censor a smile
and had to go the gods would know
and I don’t know how cold it gets
do you wanna come home?

Yes, this is a show, as anyone who caught him at Queensland Poetry Festival in 2007 would attest to, is one not to be missed.

Here’s a link to the clip for After the Flood, the lead single from the new album.


And for a bit of fun, here is a link to a poetry game on the Bluebottle Kiss site:



Vic Chestnutt


Then when July rolls around, American folk-rock innovator Vic Chestnutt hits town with Victoria Williams. Since the late 80’s Chestnutt has been perfecting his curiously aching stream of consciousness lullabies. He sums up his uncompromising lyrical style perfectly when he says, Other people write about the bling and the booty. I write about the pus and the gnats. To me, that’s beautiful. Like Hutchings, Chestnutt is one of those artists who while never breaking into mainstream consciousness has earned the deep respect of his musical peers. He has recorded with artists as diverse as A Silver Mt. Zion, Michael Stipe (REM), Lambchop and Van Dyke Parks and had his songs covered by everyone from Madonna to the Smashing Pumpkins. Simply put, he is an extraordinary talent and this is his first ever Australian tour, so make sure you catch the magic when he plays the Troubadour on Saturday July 11.

Here’s a link to Chestnutt playing live with members of Godspeed! You Black Emperor, A Silver Mt Zion and Fugazi.



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