Something for Nothing
Melting Pot – Caroline Perks
Caroline Perks recently launched her new CD Melting Pot at
SCALA. I was lucky enough to be the first paying customer on the
night and was rewarded with a copy of the CD. Such a windfall
deserves nothing less than a review for SCALA News, so here
The CD was recorded at Horrastudios, home of Horrahedd (Glenn
Wagland). I only discovered Horrahedd last year, and flogged the
Terra Muzick CD whenever I was programming the SCALA on AIR
radio show. After listening to this CD, I think the combination of
Caroline's warmth and Glenn's inventiveness gives a quality to the
music that is rare and also engaging. Not that I doubt that Glenn is
warm and Caroline is inventive you understand...
The CD opens with Moonbeams, where an almost waltz-like acoustic
guitar rhythm is accompanied by delightful keyboard playing.
Caroline's voice has an instant familiarity and I found myself
getting into the whole thing effortlessly. After two minutes or so,
the strummed rhythm gives way to a new tempo, with keyboards and
bass guitar coming to the fore as Caroline slows the mood and gives
a more serious aspect to the song. A great opener for the CD,
previously achieving Highly Commended status in the FOOM 2001 Demo
Dancing dwarfs is next up, and within ten seconds of the intro I
am sold. A tiny voice sings of dancing with rabbits and eagles in
the forest, and I have a perfect picture forming in my mind of this
scene. A growing number of people and animals joining hands/paws -
whatever - frolicking in the early morning light. The "vocals"
between verses three and four are perfect. So Horrahedd...
images of a dwarf exhorting me to dance in the long grass.
Track three is Grasp a hand, the straightest song so far in terms
of arrangement, and an extreme contrast to Dancing dwarfs. The
double-tracked vocals add a different quality to Caroline's voice,
as she invites us all to be a little more open and friendly towards
one another. Something the world could do with a little more of...
Next comes Million miles, a song about leaving. The mood of the
lyric matches the arrangement quite neatly. The heavily effected
Where are you? refrains help to paint the picture of distance. The
song changes into a less sombre shuffle after a couple of minutes,
picks up pace and - perhaps it was just me - but I could align the
rhythm with Caroline's "morning train" as it makes its way to a
destination unknown, but a long way away.
You win, we win is a song about making the effort to change things
for the better. Layered vocals interweave and Caroline makes the
point that we need to "be brave to make a change; to change the
world we live in". It's not a question of being right or wrong, more
about taking steps to actually do something.
The CD closes with Something for nothing, the rockiest song, which
features some nice funked up wah-guitar. I think we are talking
about using our love to help the world here. The song ends, as it
begins, with snippets of taped conversations.
After reading a recent interview with Caroline (SCALA News #92), I
was concerned when getting the CD that it would be a disjointed
affair, representing songs from different periods of her life. I
found that although each song is quite different, there is
still a fluency to the CD and I continue to enjoy it whenever I put
it into the CD player.
Overall this disc offers the listener something different in every
track, hence the title Melting Pot. The musicians involved
(Caroline, Glenn, Kevin Perks and Adrienne Sheerin) have combined to
make some great music. The Horrahedd influence is prevalent on some
of the songs, and this only serves to augment the interesting lyrics
and vocals. Caroline's songs are both accessible and interesting, a
rare combination in my experience.
My only criticism is that it isn't enough! I am very keen to hear
more of Caroline, and I look forward to seeing her at SCALA again
Buy this CD.
SCALA News #93
Having never seen the musical version of The Producers, I
wasn’t sure what to expect from this production of one of my
favourite films. I needn’t have worried.
Director Glenn Vallen and his cast & crew have done a great job in
bringing the show to the Adelaide stage.
The Producers tells the story of declining Broadway producer
Max Bialystock (Matt Byrne) and his accountant Leo Bloom (Michael
Williams), who devise and execute a cynical and foolproof
moneymaking plan. Of course, things don’t go quite as planned...
Byrne and Williams are well suited to their roles, and are very well
supported by a talented cast. Swedish bombshell Ulla, played by
Rebecca Payne, sings, dances and paints her way into the lives of
the two principles. Crowd favourites on the night included Carmen
Ghia (Dirk Strachan) and crazy German playwright Franz Liebkind
(Angus Smith). Kim Clark was superb, especially in the production
number Springtime For Hitler, which was a highlight of the
There were very few signs of opening night troubles. Some of the
vocals could/should be louder but I expect this will right itself.
Similarly, the task of aligning recorded sound effects with on-stage
action proved difficult to perfect. Some songs were stronger than
others, but I suspect that lies in the writing rather than the
The audience had a great night, and would have happily stayed for
another rendition of ‘Springtime’. Bravo!
Rip It Up magazine, 2007
Harmony of One
Andy Armstrong & Marta Bayly
I have spent many nights watching Andy Armstrong &
Marta Bayly performing for appreciative open mic audiences over the
last couple of years. The duo has also held down a regular spot at
the Lady Daly Hotel, and has appeared at a range of other Adelaide
venues. Their talents were recognised during this year’s Festival of
Original Music competition, and it seems timely that we should now
see the release of their first album, Harmony of One.
The CD contains 15 original songs and, with a running time of just
under 50 minutes, the listener is presented with a hefty slice of
Andy and Marta’s body of work.
The selection of songs included on the disc is close to what I
expected to hear after seeing Andy & Marta perform, with the added
bonus of all the compositions being original. Musically, the album
covers a range of styles and tempos without ever straying too far
from the predominant flavour of North American-influenced acoustic
country/folk. Listeners will enjoy the jazzy feel of It Was You,
the skilled finger-picking in Take Me To The River, and the
rockabilly leanings of No One To Blame.
The songs are well crafted, making the most of the vocal harmonies
for which Andy and Marta have become known around town. Simple yet
evocative lyrics throughout the CD augment the accessibility of the
music. This is not an album designed to change the world, but it
will have you tapping your foot.
It is difficult for me to single out any particular songs as
standouts, because the disc is a consistently good effort. I suspect
that each one of the songs included on this album will become
someone’s personal favourite. Highlights from this listener’s
perspective include the award-winning Honey Bee, the
heartfelt Love At First Sight and Whatever The Hell I’ve
Got. The coupling of The Lion And The Lamb and
Tomorrow is inspired; two great songs complementing each other.
The musicianship is top notch, and a number of familiar names crop
up in the guest list. Stuart Day lends his talents on many of the
tracks, as do Steve Fleming (bass) and Liv Bafile
(drums/percussion). Darren Zaza, Tim Irrgang and Corey Stewart
appear on Since I Met You, one of Marta’s two compositions
that grace the CD. James Evan Jones pops up a couple of times. Phil
Cuneen, who played on Andy’s album Before I Forget… plays
keyboards on Tomorrow. On top of all this, we get Andy and
Marta’s guitars, in addition to their rather wonderful vocals.
The album was recorded at Back Beat Studios by Dave Gully, who also
assisted Andy and Marta with the production. The finished product is
of excellent quality, with all the instruments being discernable
while still blending to make a “complete” sound.
This album will be enjoyed by many, many people. Don’t be the one
who misses out.
SCALA News #120
Dunstan Playhouse, Adelaide, Sat January 30
Michael Gow’s Toy Symphony, directed by Geordie
Brookman, is playing in Adelaide after enjoying a successful
pre-Christmas season in Brisbane. This joint production between the
State Theatre and Queensland Theatre Companies marks the beginning
of the former’s 2010 season.
The play is ostensibly a story of a writer who, for reasons not
immediately apparent, has lost his ability to write. Seeking
professional help, without really being sure if he wants or needs
it, Roland Henning slowly opens up to his therapist. Once the
surface is scratched, the audience is taken on a journey through the
conscious and subconscious moments that have shaped Roland’s life.
The simple but effective set serves as consulting room, office,
classroom and more, all skilfully augmented by the subtle lighting
and audio effects. There is the odd spectacular moment when the
stage bursts into colourful, fantastic recollections of episodes
from Roland’s life.
Adelaide actor Chris Pitman is Roland and, quite impressively,
features on stage for the duration of the show. He is well supported
by the small cast, some playing multiple roles. Lizzy Falkland is
Nina, the psychologist who helps Roland explore the reasons behind
his creative impasse. Daniel Mulvihill does a great job as both
Nick, Roland’s Latvian school friend, and also as aspiring actor
Daniel. Ed Wightman is memorable as the copyright lawyer and the
(rather too) animated drug dealer, Tom. Mrs Walkham, played by
Barbara Lowing, conjures up memories of matronly 1960s primary
school teachers, resplendent in big yellow frock.
The action jumps back and forth through the various episodes that
have delivered Roland into his current malaise. Most of the scenes
are entertaining and powerful, although the amount of time spent
describing Como and its history was perhaps disproportionate in
terms of its importance to the story.
Ultimately, this is a sometimes oblique journey through the mind and
life experiences of a troubled individual. It provides moments of
levity, in fact there are plenty of laughs. However, it also hints
that the heart of the creative process can sometimes be a cold, dark
and lonely place. It is an unflinching look at the things that shape
us; the things that never quite go away.
Toy Symphony continues at the Dunstan Playhouse
until February 14
Rip It Up magazine
#1071, 4-10 Feb 2010
Cosmic Room, Festival Centre, Adelaide, South Australia.
Saturday Apr 10, 2010.
Surrounded by a few hundred of their friends, fans
and family members, Cosmic Storm presented a showcase of their new
album, Nobody’s Fool, in the suitably monikered Cosmic Room
on Saturday night. Street magician James James and singer/guitarist
Steve Lennox provided some early entertainment which was
appreciated, but it was clear as to what the audience really wanted
to see. The band received a warm welcome upon taking the stage and
immediately set to work giving the expectant crowd what it wanted.
The songs had an immediately familiar feel; heads were bobbing and
feet were tapping from the outset. The band roared through their set
playing well-crafted originals, most securely set within their
rocky, bluesy influences. The six-piece ensemble combined so that no
one musician dominated, yet each was given the opportunity to shine.
High points for this listener were the show opener (and CD title
track) Nobody’s Fool, the pace-changing delight of Nothing
to Say and the straight up rock of Bring It To Me. The
band left the stage after a rapid fire set comprising 15 songs,
returning for a crowd-pleasing encore that doffed its cap to its
Iron Horse origins, and threw in a drum solo for good measure.
Cosmic Storm’s live credentials are myriad. If they are good enough
to play with Deep Purple, Thin Lizzy and Paul Stanley, then I
suspect that they are good enough for you. Keep your eyes peeled for
SCALA News #122
Nobody’s Fool is the debut offering from
local outfit Cosmic Storm. It serves as a fine example of what
happens when talented musicians get together, and work to deliver a
set of well written songs.
You know what you are getting with Cosmic Storm; mature rock-pop
that has its foundations in electric blues and boogie. This album
announces itself with the bluesy title track, a powerful foot-tapper
that provides a new spin on a familiar riff, and sets the scene for
the remainder of the disc.
Although this album treads fairly familiar ground in a musical
sense, there is a thoughtfulness and craft in the lyrics that is
worth paying attention to. Vocalist Judy Higgins has a hand in most
of the lyrics, and her turn of phrase is generally well suited to
the musical mood of the song.
The songs of bassist Kevin Perks provide some deviation from the
musical norm of the album. His Nothing To Say provides a
contrast in both musical and lyrical mood, and My Way offers a
similar, albeit heavier, variation.
Other high points on the CD include the aforementioned Nobody’s
Fool, the upbeat Shining Down On Me, the multi-faceted
Bring It To Me, and the slow-burning Trust Me Baby.
This is a well recorded and well executed album. The band are tight;
there’s some lovely touches from Matt Williams on guitar, and John
Yacka’s drums give the songs plenty of drive. Nobody’s Fool
will please fans of North American-oriented AOR and anyone else who
enjoys sitting back and listening to well-crafted music.
SCALA News #122
Shimmering West. Light Square, Adelaide, South Australia.
Thursday Feb 25, 2010.
I went down to Light Square last Thursday for the
opening night of the Shimmering West series of outdoor gigs. I
wanted to get a taste of a different sort of Fringe offering, and
get my first look at Satan’s Cheerleaders.
Despite the name, these guys are not a blood-spewing death metal
band. Rather, they a quartet of very capable musicians who have
conspired to play irreverent, intelligent and, importantly, very
enjoyable music. Not a drop of blood in sight.
The band announced itself with Kingpin – a rocking aural
assault which left me wondering what I was in for. The second song
immediately changed the vibe. A Tip of the Hat is slower, and
gentler, than Kingpin. It is a worthy song, both musically and
lyrically, and proved a perfect counterpoint to the opener. I
immediately realised that it would be a brave journalist indeed who
dared assign any particular genre to this group’s musical style.
100% Sold on Jesus kicked of with big drums and some mad
riffing from the guitar and sax, sounding a little like a 1920s
dance band on crack. Eventually the song settled into a fifties
rockabilly groove; yet another musical dimension...
And so it went. Kricfalusi and SS are epic
instrumentals that, I think, come from the heart and soul of the
band. This is the music of insane circus clowns with attitude.
Venturing into comedy polka while retaining just a hint of menace,
this just could be the signature sound of Satan’s
These guys don’t seem to take things particularly seriously, and
seem very comfortable with that approach. They skip from rock to
vaudeville to ska to lounge without ever looking like it is anything
less than a perfectly natural way to make music. Simon Ridley
(vocals, keys and guitar), Jarrad Payne (drums), Derek Pascoe (sax)
and Jamie Mensforth (bass) have combined to bring to life a band,
and a sound, that will please those who like to listen to music that
deliberately contains a bit of everything. Whatever that means.
It was all over far too soon. Great fun, with hefty portions of
smarts thrown in for good measure. People around me were making
comparisons with Mr Bungle but I thought that, somewhere amongst the
calculated chaos, I could hear the ghost of Frank Zappa and the
I hear that these boys are off to Europe soon so my advice is to go
and see them while you still can.
The golden north
Six Bags to the Acre – Stirling North & the Serious Lack of Rainfall
I very much like it when a CD comes my way, unannounced,
and manages to capture my attention. Something that’s a bit
different; something that stands out from the dross. Six Bags to
the Acre, by Stirling North & the Serious Lack of Rainfall,
might just be one of those albums. I wasn’t sure what I was getting
into when I first listened, but this collection of six songs has
crept into my head and stayed there.
This ensemble began life as a side project of Adelaide
folk-punker outfit OneDogOneBone. It is, as yet, of undetermined
longevity. The four-piece core of the band comprises Peter Wilson
(vocals), Paul Mead (bass, drums, harmonica, vocals), Steve
O’Donoghue (guitar) and Robert Williams (guitars, vocals). On this
recording, Machael Bahlij (keyboards, banjo, steel, vocals), Rachael
Maxwell (mandolin,vocals) and Marie DeLint (flute, harmonica) lend
their considerable talents, augmenting the guitar and drum sound
without diluting the joyous roughhousing that is present throughout.
Many of the small towns dotted around South Australia’s
rural north (and beyond) are referenced throughout this disc. Paeans
to the joys of Laura’s ice cream, evening barbecues in Saddleworth,
and sprawling night skies are all featured. The apparent folly of
attempting to farm and grow crops beyond Goyder’s Line is also
highlighted. Stirling North (get it now?) and his mates seem to have
a liking for our northern climes.
Because of these lyrical themes, the CD might be
construed as some form of country and/or western. But that would be
drawing a long bow. It’s got more in common with The Pogues than it
has with anything twangy.
Laura in the Golden North is a great opener, and
will hook the listener with its wonderfully ramshackle singalong
chorus and range of instrumentation. A lurching waltz, chock full of
evocative lyrics, this track sets the scene for the rest of the
Outback Stars and the bovine-oriented Sit
Around the Pail are less conventional numbers musically; the
former celebrates the wonder that is the unspoiled country night
sky. It features some sublime piano from Bahlij. The latter is built
around a relentless, almost clockwork rhythm and contains some
inspired flute playing.
Saturday Night in Saddleworth sticks in the
memory; it is one of the more commercial songs on the disc. The song
paints a vivid picture of beer garden barbecues, evoking
rose-coloured images of mates, drinks and the joys of electric light
The affectionate remembrance of pubs as they were, before
the twin blights of oversized plasma screens and pokies imposed
themselves, is perfectly presented in the beautifully-entitled
lament Where Will the Derros Drink, another foot-tapper.
Goyder’s Ghost is a memorable closer; this tale of
the ruined towns north of Goyder’s Line features layers of vocals
and instrumentation that are delightful – it gets better with every
It’s hard to tell if the band is taking the mick, or are
genuinely affectionate for the things they are singing and playing
about. Either way, it seems that a good time was had by all when
making this record. It makes for very enjoyable listening.
At just under 25 minutes long, the CD should leave the
listener keen to hear more. The songs are consistently interesting,
both lyrically and musically. It is a great melding of the simple
and the complex, the rough and the smooth. This disc came to me out
of nowhere, and has stayed in my player for weeks. It’s not coming
out anytime soon, either.
A book for us all
This Could Be Big: Thirty Years
at the Dag End of the Australian Music Industry – Don Morrison
One-time Bodgie, present-day Prawnhead, and seemingly perennial
staple of the Adelaide music scene, Don Morrison has forgotten more
about the harsh realities of the music business than most of us will
ever dare experience. Or maybe he hasn’t quite forgotten
them. This book, a memoir of his “thirty years at the dag end of the
Australian music industry”, provides a host of tales from Morrison’s
colourful career; looking at the highs and lows of embracing the
life of the troubadour. More importantly though, This Could Be
Big will make you smile, sometimes knowingly. You will enjoy the
ride as you eagerly turn the pages, without ever dismissing the
realistic slice-of-life that this book offers the reader.
The dubious joys of touring far and wide, the dealings
with managers, agents and other sharks, the drab reality of the day
job and the succour & solace of crafting guitars are all recanted
with a disarming honesty and good-natured humour that will resonate
Morrison documents his travels through the good, the bad
and the ugly aspects of his struggle to make ends meet as a jobbing
musician. Sharing stage space with Midnight Oil, attempting to
translate the humour behind the name “Thunderbox Carbunckle” to a
Japanese backpacker, and the joys of intra-band relationships are
just some of the tales he shares. There are plenty more besides…
One of the prevailing themes of the book is that, more
often than not, the differences between being big and
remaining a struggler aren’t that huge, and that luck and
circumstance are major players in a game that has slaughtered so
many wide-eyed aspirants. Morrison also clearly articulates the
differences between the joyful process of making music, and the pain
and hassles that go with attempting to turn that same music into a
This book is the perfect Christmas gift for anyone even
vaguely involved in the world of music. No matter what stage
of your career you think you are at, or with which particular genre
you have chosen to align yourselves, you should all read this.
Morrison writes earnestly and sometimes critically, but he has a wit
and a way with words that show that, despite all the crap, it’s
still a great ride.
Here’s to you Don, I reckon you’re doing just fine.
of the book are available around the traps. See
www.donmo.com for details.
I’ve known Harald Shulten for a good few years now.
Harry, as he is better known, has been a regular performer on the
open mic circuit and this is where we have gotten to know one
another. His preference is to perform fairly early in the evenings,
and he has consistently helped to get proceedings off on the right
foot with his agreeable style of guitar playing. He writes and sings
his own songs, performs them alongside the odd cover, and also finds
time to teach guitar to a few lucky students. Harry is no stranger
to SCALA performance evenings and songwriters’ workshops; many of us
would know him from our regular weeknight ventures into Higher
Recently he gave me a copy of a CD he released in 2007, a
nine-track effort curiously entitled Nice Music (but it’s only
average). This phrase was once used rather bluntly by a film
producer to describe some of Harry’s music, and has never been
forgotten. Rather than take offence at the remark, Harry chose to
use it as the title of his album.
The songs contained on the disc also have intriguing
names, such as Why Do You Think You’re a Can of Spaghetti and
Meatballs? and I Can Only Remember 4 Latin Words, and the
themes behind the selections (and titles) are explained by Harry in
the accompanying liner notes.
Nice Music (but it’s only average) is, in Harry’s
words, “an unfinished and under-produced” effort but, when listened
to in this context, provides an interesting aural excursion.
The CD features Harry playing guitar with his usual
gentleness and skill, and he provides vocal accompaniment on the
first and last numbers. There are no other musical augmentations -
what you get is pure Harry, just voice and guitar. The tracks are
concise pieces, with the longest coming in at 3:13, and are usually
based on fairly simple progressions. The music is, on the whole,
very pleasant and stands up well. The guitar is his strength and, if
I was to offer any constructive comment about the disc, it would be
that it would be a stronger effort if it were limited to the
My two favourite tracks are Sometimes I’m Happy,
which I have heard Harry play live on numerous occasions, and Sad
Songs. He says “I tried to write a sad song without any minor
chords in it but couldn’t manage it”. Minor or not, there’s some
lovely chord changes in this one.
There’s just over 20 minutes of music on the CD and,
within the limits of the style and arrangement, some nice variations
are to be heard. Given the final mix and the packaging - “no glossy
sleeve, only 10c photocopies” - it would appear that this effort is
something of a first draft, a product to be built upon, yet it still
marks a moment in time.
“I’ve sold about 100 copies, and given a similar number
away in more recent times” he says. It’s fair to say that Harry
isn’t overly enamoured with the music industry and its trappings,
and isn’t bothered about fame, fortune and the attendant excesses.
He would be happy to be remembered for writing a single classic
song. Well, wouldn’t we all…
I asked Harry if he has any material aspiration for his
future musical endeavours. “I’d like to make enough money to be able
to leave something for my nieces, and for any sponsors I may get.”
he replies, with his usual engaging honesty.
you’d like to hear Harry’s music then ask him about Nice Music
(but it’s only average) next time you see him. You might get
Greet the Sun
The Timbers greet the world with their debut release, an
attractively packaged six-track EP entitled Greet the Sun.
Launched back in March, this CD is sure to please both ardent
Timbers’ fans and first-time listeners.
The disc offers a very listenable collection that
showcases the songwriting talents held within the band. Simon Basey
writes interesting, thoughtful and intelligent songs, and Benjamin
Roberts’ lone effort, The Traveller, holds its own in terms
of craft and style.
The musicianship is top-notch, hardly surprising given
the range of talent on show. Each member of the quartet is given
space to shine at various points, which creates a dynamism that is
palpable throughout. Basey’s vocals are well suited to the style,
self-assured and expressive. Craig Atkins percussion work is nothing
short of inspired, a kind of carefully managed chaos. Sarah
O’Brien’s violin lifts the songs, and she also adds important, yet
understated, harmonies here and there. Basey’s and Roberts’ guitars
are at the centre of most of the music, whether driving the songs
percussively or providing the memorable riffs dotted throughout.
Although the overall vibe is reminiscent of familiar Celtic/Irish
folk bands and sounds, there’s enough on show here to suggest that
The Timbers are willing, and able, to stand on their own eight feet.
The recording, engineered and mixed by Matt Hills at Hillside
Studios, is also excellent.
Of the songs included on the disc, Creeping Shade
is probably my favourite. It makes for a great opener, and is the
most original sounding of the six offerings. The lively Let Your
Hair Down is a lot of fun, and includes a great singalong
chorus. All Your Say initially provides a (slightly) gentler
insight into the band, before returning to more familiar Timbers’
territory. Greet the Sun is an almost perfect closer, rising
from humble beginnings to deliver a mighty pay-off, courtesy “The
It strikes me that significant attention to detail has
been paid to all aspects of this recording. Whether this is down to
finely honing nuances over the course of months of live performance,
or is the result of inspiration in the studio, or perhaps because
these are simply intelligent musicians, I don’t know. Maybe it’s all
elements of all three. In any event, the songs are filled with
strong choruses, rousing tempo changes, musical flourishes and
disc comes in at a shade over 20 minutes, so this is something of a
fleeting pleasure. I look forward to hearing more.
Rehab and Camel – Mick Kidd
Mick Kidd’s latest CD, Rehab & Camel, offers up a dozen
songs that are best defined as ‘blues’, but demonstrate that this
particular genre is indeed a broad (blue) church.
There’s no shortage of open string, slide guitar
foot-stompers, but Kidd is not afraid to dip into more traditional
blues forms in the shape of the title track and Cut You Loose, and
also with the inclusion of two notable live covers – John Brim’s Ice
Cream Man and Robert Johnson’s legendary Cross-Roads. Three live
tracks are offered in total, interspersed with the studio songs, and
there’s no appreciable change in sound quality or energy.
The album opens with a surprise. Short Fuse Blues sounds
to me like Kidd is channelling a singer from one of my old
Mississippi Delta blues records, before transforming into the vocal
style to which we are used. These “two” vocalists trade blows
throughout the song, supported by wailing harp, courtesy the
fabulous Tim Sheehan. The track certainly sets the scene for the
album, but the versatile Kidd has many dimensions to his bluesman
It is the guitar that underpins this album. Kidd’s work
is distinctive; live or on record, you know when you are listening
to Mick Kidd. This is not a guitar album though; the songs
are fully-worked arrangements that feature stompbox, harmonica and
the odd backing vocal, all of which support the primary vocal and
Given the appreciable skill of the guitar, it would be
easy to overlook the quality of Kidd’s vocals. This is a genuine
blues voice; Kidd’s voice isn’t affected, nor is it a caricature –
it’s legitimate and deserves recognition as an equal player.
There is a skill and wit in much of the lyrical content,
notably the female name-checking in So Many Women, and in the
world-weary sentiment of Complete Unknown. The paean to the idyllic
lifestyle of Semaphore is also creditable.
There are plenty of things to like about the album. It
combines the worldliness of the blues with the earnest observations
of a local boy. It blends new and old, and is in equal parts serious
and cheery. I think my favourite songs are Rehab & Camel and Crash
and Burn, a couple of the more traditionally structured numbers. The
guitar on Cut You Loose, especially the opening section, is
is a solid record that will please blues’ fans, and will help to
bring Mick Kidd to the attention of a wider audience. And why not?
Seeing is believing...
Unknown Believer CD launch – The Informers
I arrive, late, at The Promethean, and the
first thing I notice is the crowd. The place is heaving with
punters. This is obviously the place to be. After checking my name
off the list, the girl at the door asks me where I am from. “I’m not
really from anywhere” I reply. Truer than you might imagine…
I’d seen The Informers a couple of times in the
middle of the year. It’s fair to say that I was impressed by this
four-piece outfit, so I was delighted when I heard that a CD launch
was planned for September.
The band members take the stage for a quick
soundcheck before launching into their set in earnest just after
11.00. It’s a five-piece tonight; the inclusion of irregular member
Nathan Carger on keyboards will no doubt boost the sound. Frontmen
Josh Greeneklee and John ‘JB’ Broadbent dabble with keys and
percussion as part of the usual performance so it will be
interesting to see how things mesh.
The Road comes first; a song that grows in
magnitude as it moves along from its understated beginning. The
spiritually-themed lyric has me wondering if I have missed something
The standout song in the live set, and on
Unknown Believer, is Any Who Any How. This song, the CD’s
opener, is a well-crafted, busy-yet-tidy pop song that contains more
than a faint echo of late-sixties swirl. Underpinned by Dan
Deblasio‘s big bassline, the band soars. This one is a winner from
start to finish.
The pacy and punchy Desert Creatures is
destined for crowd favouritism; it ebbs and flows as it moves
between hippy-like ponderings and the more familiar territory
traversed by recent Australian guitar-based indie bands. It is held
together by Israel Amoy’s prominent drumming, which sets the scene
from the get go. There’s some decent lead guitar too.
First Is Worst follows, and slows the pace a
little. The crowd catches its collective breath. What begins as a
seemingly unassuming effort turns on its head with the delivery of
the sublime melody of the two lines of the chorus. Sometimes, that’s
all a great song needs…
I Got Mine - a Black Keys single from 2008 - is
included in the live set. Cited as an influence by the band, I’m not
surprised that they’ve thrown this one in. It seems to fit.
The last song of the show, Finding You,
evidences the benefits of displaying a measure of restraint. This
adds light and shade, and therefore depth, to both the song and the
set. Finding You is also the closing number on the disc.
The band rattles through the set, playing all
of the songs from the disc, a cover, and also some interesting
musical links, codas and segues. Whether these minor musical
excursions are a calculated part of the performance, or are simply
there to pad out the set a little, it doesn’t matter. It works.
In any event, the show is over in a tick over
35 minutes. When these guys develop their repertoire to the point
where they are regularly playing hour-plus sets, they will be a very
attractive option for punters. I’ll see you there.
Unknown Believer matches the live shows
for energy, with each of the five songs offering something slightly
different while still remaining part of a vibe that spans the disc.
Recorded locally, and mastered at Studios 301 in Sydney, it’s a
worthy debut. It just about captures the energy that the band exudes
when playing live, and offers five tight, catchy songs written by
Buy this disc, see The Informers live. I doubt
you’ll regret it.
Memories of The Grace Emily – Kirk Watt
Regular patrons of Adelaide’s vibrant singer-songwriter
venues will have probably seen and heard Kirk Watt do his thing over
the course of the last few years. Kirk is an interesting performer;
his compositions have an idiosyncratic style and he presents them in
a distinctive manner. After watching him hone his songs in recent
live performances, it was with some interest that I listened to his
debut CD, Memories of the Grace Emily.
The album has a fresh, homespun, sunny Sunday morning
feel throughout. The passion is certainly there; the layers and
layers of overdubs are not. All of the instruments can be heard
clearly – probably because of the somewhat simple arrangements - and
it is a refreshing change to listen to something so uncomplicated.
To these ears, the recording possesses elements of Nick Drake, Jeff
Buckley and George Harrison in terms of the music, the vocals, and
It feels wrong to single out particular tracks as
favourites, as the album has a continuity about it, but Doing Fine,
Sit and Wonder and Use Someone Like Me are strong points of
Memories of the Grace Emily. They come one after the other in
the middle of the disc, and demonstrate the strength of the
songwriting that is present throughout. Lyrically and musically,
there is a maturity about this record. The last song, All Things
Possible, makes for a beautifully understated closer.
Watt sings and plays all of the instruments on the CD,
and produced the disc in collaboration with Chris Foster.
All up, this is an enjoyable collection that ought to be
Stars in his eyes...
Seeing Stars – Corey Stewart
Corey Stewart’s debut CD has been a long time
in the making. Some would say that for an artist of his considerable
talents and indefatigable work ethic, Seeing Stars is
overdue. No matter, it’s here now. Surrounded by some of his most
trusted musical cohorts, Stewart has released an album chock-full of
assured, mature and enjoyable compositions.
The musicianship on the disc is, as one would
expect, top-notch. Stewart is a brilliant singer, and no slouch with
his instruments either. Darren Zaza (electric guitars), Tim Irrgang
(drums and percussion), Stig Lindell (keyboards) and Alex Frost
(backing vocals) all make vital contributions to the consummate
nature of the final product. The sound of the ensemble is whole, and
listeners are also occasionally treated to some fantastic flourishes
eg Zaza’s lead work on Just One Kiss.
Given the strength, passion and volume of
Stewart’s writing, it comes as no surprise that the final songs
selected for the CD display the full range of his work. Elements of
so many genres are melded with great skill and thought in order to
provide a outstanding showcase of songwriting talent.
Personal favourites include Back Of My Mind - a
song that provides the perfect entrée into the album - Leave It All
Behind and the straight-from-the-heart Missing You Already. Having
said that, the album is a consistently impressive effort from start
to finish. Most of the songs deal with affairs of the heart, and
there is a prevailing air of adult-oriented rock throughout the
recording. Within these precincts, however, there is a variety of
pace and mood; obviously a good deal of thought has gone into
ordering the dozen tracks, so as to provide the most appealing
Recorded and co-produced (with Stewart and Zaza)
by Anthony Stewart at Red Brick Music and mastered by Neville Clark,
the CD is an aural delight.
Seeing Stars – definitely worth the