.Australian Music.

Album review

Church Culture Sucks.

I take God pretty seriously, and one of the things that annoys me the most about church, is; church culture. 

Church culture is the ‘cliques’ inside a church that puts barriers between people, and pretty much completely destroys the point of having church. Within these silly cliques, most people’s focus is on being ‘christian’ rather than being ‘Godly’. There shouldn’t be a difference between these two terms, but unfortunately there is. Unfortunately, the term ‘christian’ has of late taken on a more ‘stereotypical’ role, rather than a Godly one.

When the outside world (and even inside the church) thinks of someone who acts ‘christian’, they don’t necessarily automatically associate that word with Godliness, rather they associate it to a certain personality, trait or countenance someone might possess. ‘Christian’ no longer means ‘Godly’ – the term has been perverted and now just refers to someone who appears to be acting ‘christian’. 

If you’re a christian, you’re number one focus should be on practising Godliness, and 95% of Godliness is about ‘intention’. If your heart is wrong and your intentions are corrupt, how are you growing as a christian? How are you taking up your cross? How are you being challenged? How are you growing? If all you do as a christian is act in a Godly way, then are you really being Godly?

God cares about what is on your heart. Frankly, I am a little over seeing people put up a ‘front’ at church as if to scream from the rooftops ‘I’m Godly! Check it out!’. Nup, sorry, get out of town. If you’re really striving for Godliness, that will manifest itself externally – but it all has to start internally. 

I know I’ve gone around in circles a little, but my point is, church culture encourages people to put on a facade in order to appear Godly. This is so dangerous in a church, for the following reasons:

1. If people aren’t being real with other people, what room is there to encourage or rebuke, and therefore grow as a church family and grow in wisdom?

2. People start to lose the point of salvation. They don’t understand the forgiveness they’re offered in Christ for having a sinful life. People start to believe that as long as they appear Godly – then they are. Beeeeeeep – wrong. 

3. Other people in the church are discouraged by not fitting in, or observing the supposed ‘Godliness’ of others (which in fact is a facade) and being discouraged that they do not conform to the majority of other people in the church. 

People, church culture sucks. It shouldn’t exist. If you’re finding yourself having to act Godly in order to keep people from questioning you or just to fit in – you’re not actually Godly, and your relationship with God needs an overhaul. 

This sounds like a rant from a bitter woman – and I guess I can be bitter, but that’s all part of my charm, you see? However, the words I use are just vessels that carry a message – and the message is a serious one. People need to ‘wake up and smell the roses’. If you’re serious about God, you need to get serious about this. Really. Seriously. 

More than anything, this is not a direct reflection on anyone – i mean, who am I to discern who is being real and who is not? This is something that I’ve simply observed over time and had many reservations and questions about myself, and to be totally honest, I know this culture exists because I was part of it once. 


John.

Life will always seem less than what it is, whilst in actuality it will always be more than what you wish it really was… just a thought?

I don’t know much about Frusciante, but i know his music. It’s whacked and obscure and untempo’d and messy – and i love it.

For those of you who can concentrate on one thing for a couple of hours without being distracted, you’ve got to give this album a listen. It’s like food-for-thought. It will bring up the most weird and confusing thoughts in your mind – completely unrelated to music… yet, i find it fascinating how he has shaped the sound on this album. It’s like everything i liked about the Chili Peppers in a sweaty, sealed jar.

At 26 tracks long, you really need to be dedicated to hearing this thing out the whole way through. It’s challenging… to say the least, but you’ve got to give it a chance. Some of the tracks can sound very ‘unappealing’ to begin with, but magic happens when dissonance thins out and becomes majestic when you least expect it.

So, the album is called ‘Niandra LaDes and Usually Just A T-Shirt’, by John Frusciante. It’s literally like nothing you’ve every heard before. And, just so you know if it doesn’t become apparent to you within the first 30 seconds of the album, he’s well and truly drug-fudged during the production of this album; which is quite thin and bleak.

Here’s a sneak peak. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ziwk9UVBv5E

 

 


ramblings of a really ticked off music nerd.

You know what really ticks me off? BAD FREAKING MUSIC.

I know, I know – ‘each to their own’ right? WRONG! There is such a thing as bad music. Music is an expression; a feeling in the form of sound… not a bloody corporate meat market product. What happened to the musical geniuses we used to have? The Elton Johns, the Bert Janschs, the Billy Joels, the Jeff Buckleys… seriously people, what the heck happened?!?!?! AND DON’T YOU DARE SAY THAT ADELE IS A MUSICAL GENIUS!! Have you ever even heard of Joss Stone? Have you ever bothered to check out Amy Winehouse’s old stuff?!?!

The music industry has been completely commercialised. Nowadays you have all these stupid bands and artists like The Fray, The Script, P!NK, and Kelly Clarkson that don’t write MUSIC – no no, they write products; tangible things you can sell. Their music is shallow and gross. Then there’s another category all together of artists and bands who started out with one sound, and over time as new trends emerged have changed their sound completely so that they can keep making money… you know, losers like Madonna, Kylie Minogue, Britney Spears, Chris Brown… and quite literally, the list goes on and on.

These days, half of the crap floating around in this sewerage system we call the ‘music industry’ will climax early and be forgotten forever more within a couple of years… one hit wonders? There shouldn’t even be such a thing.

The whole thing is crap. pfft.


ALBUMS – and what they should be.

Tapestry LP, Carol king.

So I just suddenly have the urge to post a blog about albums and what they should be. I know this seems weird, but this is how I see the humble album / LP…

An album is a sequential piece of art; a timeline of expression and artistry. It may or may not tell a story, but 99.9% of the time it will always be a description of some sort. I really believe that you’ve got to listen to the whole album from beginning to end to really get a grasp on what a musician is trying to portray with sound.

To put this on a deeper level, an album is a ‘journey’ – and I can see all who studied Advanced English for the HSC in 2007 cringing right now… But in all seriousness, an album is one solid hour of raw creativity which stems from a process of thought and feeling underwent by another individual or group. Besides sex, an album is probably one of the most intimate things human beings can create; it’s pure essence for anyone to discover.

I usually hate to make generalisations about music, but I will say this. Today’s pop scene is sporting some of the weakest and most shallow music I’ve heard produced from any collective period of time… ever. I mean, without trying to seem obtuse, doesn’t it all just seem the same? I’m reluctant to say that it all sounds the same, because it doesn’t, but for me all the pop songs these days carry the same shallow feel; boys, girls, clubs, boobs, booty’s, poppin’ bottles and stereotypes.

What happened to the days where a musician would work on an album for four years before it’s release; fine tuning and tweaking sounds. There’s no respect to be had for musicians who simply ‘throw together’ an album with sounds everyone has heard before. Music is a pleasure state and a spiritual experience, and to just accept any old riff-raff when there are masterpieces of pure gold floating around in the musical universe – well, this should be a crime.

I’ll be nice and give you a head start. Below are some albums you need to listen to from beginning to end with big headphones and no disturbances – they’re what I like to call ‘bug-out albums’ because you pretty much need to sit in the same position and calmly focus on what you’re hearing. I’ve tried to keep them as un-obscure as possible, but give them a go and let me know what you reckon.

1. Yellow House, by Grizzly Bear.

Now, the sounds on this album can be quite confusing at times, but for me at least that’s what attracts me to this album. Tracks like ‘Marla’, ‘Knife’ and ‘Plans’ sound quite drab with weary melodies, whilst tracks like ‘On a Neck on a Spit’, ‘Central and Remote’, ‘Little Brother’ and ‘Easier’ provide you with some very easy listening sounds to take the edge of the ‘picasso -esque’ nature of the other tracks. There are some fairly dense tracks on this album that will really demand all your attention like ‘Colorado’ and ‘Reprise’. If you hear this one out and like it, then my suggestion would be to move on to another of Grizzly Bear’s albums – ‘Horn of Plenty’.

2. Fever Ray, by Fever Ray.

Ok, this one you’re going to have to prep yourself for. I know that I previously said I would try to keep the obscurity of these albums to a bare minimum, but I just had to throw this album into the works – everyone should at least know about this album. This album is literally choc full of sound, and the production is flawless. From the very first track ‘If I Had A Heart’ to the very end ‘Coconut’, the entire album maintains quite a dark and magical feel. If you’re going to have a crack at this album, you should know that Fever Ray’s voice is quite different; strained, forced and yellow. If anything, this album will give you a greater appreciation for music at it’s most artistic. If you like this album, then I’d recommend you move on to listen to the album ‘Ring’, by Glasser.

3. The Fool, by Warpaint.

For all of you who prefer dirty, grungy rock this album is what I would recommend you hear. However, I kindly ask that you approach this album unprejudiced and without any pre-conceived ideas about chick rock bands. Warpaint are an all-female band, and whilst many chick bands have rightfully terrible reputations, these girls really know their instruments. This album is cavernous, the bass in it kicks ass – and whilst it’s not an album that sends a gigantic wall of sound screaming at you, there are enough layers on it for you to really indulge and feed off this album a good ten times at least. The whole album maintains a fairly grungy sound but brightens up somewhat for tracks like ‘Undertow’ and ‘Composure’.

4. Teen Dream, by Beach House.

This is an album that everyone should listen to. The production is incredible, and Victoria LeGrand’s vocals send you on an artificial high that has your head rolling… it’s indescribable in words, you just have to listen to it. The first three tracks ‘Zebra’, ‘Silver Soul’ and ‘Norway’ give you the impression that the album is quite gentle, but by the fourth track ‘Walk In The Park’ the more melancholy side of it emerges and sends you into a messy state of lucid drunkenness that continues through the tracks ‘Used to Be’ and ‘Lover of Mine’ before pushing you to the surface with the track ‘Better Times’ and ‘Ten Mile Stereo’. By the end of the album you’re returned to compete normality with the ballad-like track ‘Real Love’ and ‘Take Care’. This is probably the closest thing to perfect I’ve ever heard. If you like it, give Beach House’s earlier release ‘Devotion’ a listen. In my opinion, it’s not as good, but still on the same wave length.

If these are too weak for you as far as obscurity and complexity roll, try the below – these are probably the cream of the crop for me.

1. Vespertine, by Bjork.

2. Takk, by Sigur Ros.

3. Within and Without, by Washed Out – this is very ambient and electronic, but still way cool.

4. Walls, by Apparat.

5. The Way Out, by The Books.

6. Heligoland, by Massive Attack.

7. ( ), by Sigur Ros.

If you’re willing to accept any of the above challenges, let me know how you find them 🙂


I AM SMILING.

So. For my 50th post in an inconsistent stream of blogs, I thought I’d just tell you all… I am smiling – and you have no idea how fantastic it feels to really smile.

I’ve been refined by fire  – and my faith in God is strong. Looking back, I can see that God’s plan for me has been executed in my life, and it couldn’t have worked out any more perfectly. I’ve started again and I am totally ready to forgive; but my oh my did I need a good clean out. What I think is totally crazy though is that in my subconscious habit of ‘putting walls up’, I can still remember what it feels like to be at the bottom of a pit; and I think that it’s a good thing I can still feel the ‘sting’ a bit, because being me – someone who must always learn the ‘hard way’ – I need to remember why I am the way I am.  – does that even make sense? lol

It’s been a long journey, but one that was totally necessary. Now that I’m at the end of this particular march, I can see God replacing crappy things in my life with really good things – he’s taken all the crap and turned it into a goodness I never knew existed – God’s taken my Regina Spektor and turned it into Emiliana Torrini! Icelandic over Russian any day my friend… haha. Doo. Doodoo. Doodoo. Doo. Doo. Doo.

You know what else I think is amazing?!?!? I can actually see how God has operated ON my life. It’s like he was performing a double bypass on my heart and hooked me up to his ‘spirit drip’ life support to keep me alive while he cleaned me out. Geez, I can’t even begin to tell you how amazing i feel. He wasn’t just walking next to me, he was carrying me on his shoulders.

No going back now. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes it’s tempting to relive ‘the glory days’ – which is sort of a stupid term because they were anything but ‘glory days’, but I think you get the gist.

I really feel that this is a huge time for me right now, so to all my incredible friends who sat there frustrated at me while I reasoned with myself to accept the wrong things (and they all know what I’m talking about) – thank you. So much. Really truly, I love each and every one of you individually. Without your rebukes, prayers, words of wisdom, cups of tea and hugs, I shudder to think how much worse the process would have been. You were my ‘crash mat’ and clarity amongst the hardest thing I’ve ever had to go through. I love you all – nothing could be more true (except for maybe the fact that God loves you…)

You’re an incredible bunch of girls.


My God

God is faithful – totally and completely. I know it seems bizarre because it seems impossible that one could be content in not ‘getting their way’, but a believer with faith finds comfort in not ‘getting their way’ because God is at the crux of their plan.

When i look back at everything in my life, and i mean everything, i can see how God has worked in my life. I see witness of his love for me because he has spared me and protected me from my own selfish plans.

To have faith means to surrender yourself and confess that God knows better. God has offered to take care of you for eterntity, and he looks through a woder lens seeing the past, present and future.

Holy.


Interview: Victoria LeGrand, Beach House

My dreams came true all at once when I spoke with Victoria Legrand from Beach House. After a long week of rehearsing and packing, she’d finally fit me in for a quick ‘Q and A’, and can I just say now, she is probably one of the coolest, most intricate, deep female musicians i’ve ever had the honour of talking to…

You’ve got a fair few ‘complex sounding’ sounds going on throughout your newest album ‘Teen Dream’ – how do you work with these to transform them into a killer live show?

Well, it’s not that difficult for us. It’s always been very important to us that we can play our songs live. So, it’s sort of the same as it’s always been. I mean, we have a live drummer, so we don’t really find it that difficult to translate the record into a live set.

Your drummer has always remained fairly ‘under-the-radar’; is he an official part of the band or do you alternate drummers based on what sound you’re looking to achieve?

He’s an official part of the band since 2008. The primary writers in the band are Alex and I, but Dan has been touring with us and recreating the album since Devotion in 2008 – so post 2008, that’s when we started producing live percussion.

You recruited Chris Cody as the producer for your last album ‘Teen Dream’; what was it that appealed so much to you about Chris’s style of producing that you wanted to incorporate onto the album?

Well, we’ve always been our own producers, so we weren’t looking for someone to give us a sound because we already believed that we had our own sound. Chris was just really good at working with us and encouraging us to fulfil our vision. We recorded every song on a demo disc before we officially recorded it, so we already had a very clear idea of what we wanted things to sound like. But Chris is a really great engineer and he understood what we wanted and helped us get there.

Every producer is different, and we’ll probably never have any one person ‘produce’ us, you know, like somebody that just comes in and completely changes what your sound is like; that’s not what we’re looking for at the moment. Chris understood that we’re really controlling and that what we hear in our heads is what we want, not something else.

So were you worried that changing labels between your albums ‘Devotion’ and ‘Teen Dream’ from Carpark to Subpop would change your sound at all; or that the label would put any sort of pressure on you to alter your sound in any way?

Not at all. The outside world doesn’t have an effect on what sound we create; it always comes from the interior. Labels don’t affect our sound. A label is just a manufacturer of your album and a support system in certain places, so they have no say at all in what your record will sound like.

I mean, Teen Dream sounded different to Devotion in that it’s a little more Hi-Fi than the other records, it’s because we grew tired of being drenched in re-verb. I mean, we still have a lot of re-verb on this record [Teen Dream], but Alex and I have both developed as writers so we found more interesting ways to cut out some reverb. This is our third record now and we’ve also toured a lot more, so it’s safe to say that there’s a lot of growth happening.

So tell me a little bit behind the origin of the name of the band; ‘Beach House’.

I mean, the name of a band is just a window to another world, and Beach House was a set of words that we liked and we thought made sense at the time. It was all in or imagination. It has very little to do with an actual place or season or anything like that; it’s just fit for us, so we kept it. A lot of things we create kind of just jot out of our mouths and it stayed there because it felt right. There’s a lot of abstraction and spontaneity going on with a lot of our titles and things like that you know. It’s all about what it ‘feels’ like for us.

Well, you’re coming down for Laneway very soon!

We’re leaving on Wednesday, and we are just so excited to be down there again for the first time since 2008!

So now that the Australian music scene have had a few more years to warm up to Beach House, how are you hoping the Aussie crowds will respond to your live set after having received so many kick-arse reviews for your latest LP?

I’m just hoping that people are excited! I can’t put any pressure on anyone; I just want people to enjoy it and have a good time. In the two years that we’ve been away from Australia I think that there is probably a lot of crowd anticipation and excitement. I’m just really excited to be around Australians again; plain and simple. Two years has been a long time, a lot happens in two years.

So what sort of rumours have you heard about Aussie crowds?

Well my experience has been that the Australian crowds are very kind, and warm. The whole time we were there was very peaceful and fun – definitely a good experience.

Our show at City Recital Hall has completely sold out which feel great, and it was totally unexpected. I think that coming out of 2010 and into 2011 it had been a very busy year last year, so it’s great to see some momentum; it’s nice to see things grow. The fact that we haven’t been in Australia in two years and our shows are selling out… there’s nothing bad to be said about it.

So what sort of things can we expect to see and hear at the Beach House live set in Aus?

Pyro-technics! Auto-technics! And we’ll probably descend from the ceiling in a chariot or something. You’ll have to come and see the show! It will be simple yet intense; it will be many things I’m sure, but hopefully you’ll have some interpretation of your own, I don’t want to put any pressure on future events…

Is your live set standard in that you are constant and that the crowd can expect the same level of performance each time they see Beach House? Or do you alternate and mix things up depending on variables?

It’s a bit of everything. There’s a lot of control and a lot of structure, but still there is a lot of spontaneous. We just feed off the crowd and the people that you’re playing with. Every show is different – it’s wrong to say that every show is that same and boring because each gig has a different vibe to it. It’s both, spontaneous and extremely well thought-out.

Who are you most excited about performing along-side at Laneway festival?

Ariel Pink! For sure.

Will you watch them from the crowd or back stage?

I like to see performers from back stage, but I also like to be in the crowd because I like to be with people reacting to the music. So hopefully both…

The time that you’re in Australia is amid the thick of Australian Festival season, so do you think that you will check out any other festivals while you’re out here?

I don’t know! It depends on how much time we have. I mean we have days of and things like that, but I would also like to see some of the land; see all the things we didn’t get to see last time we were hear like the beaches and things like that.

If you could go back to any point in history whose gig would you go to and why?

I would probably see Michael Jackson. I would probably see Kate Bush play live – but that will never happen. I would absolutely love to see Velvet Underground, for sure. It’s a tricky question to answer because there are so many different people and bands that I would love to have seen… I can’t name them all.

Beach House are headed down under to play Laneway Festivals through the country in February, but they also have a couple of Sideshows going if you’re lucky enough to bribe someone in to selling you their ticket; they’re also making a guest appearance at Sydney Festival – so make sure you hit these guys up.