That 1 Guy – Packs A Wallop!
Heavy metallic beats, rocking guitar, gravel filled voice – there’s no mistaking this for anything other than That 1 Guy‘s latest album.
Unlike his previous albums, which consisted of songs that had been performed and refined in front of audiences, Packs A Wallop! was composed and constructed entirely in the studio, “I went in there with zero – nothing finished – and I lived there for a month. It was really hard work, really long days, and I forced myself to craft some stuff.”
As it turns out, this was a good plan. It opens with the heavy Modern Man, and meanders its way through various styles, eventually winding up at Stones Throw, one of the chillest tracks I think I’ve ever heard. When I copied the CD to my iPod, the genre field gave an excellent one word description of this album – Unclassifiable. That’s always been That 1 Guy’s modus operandi, and I’m happy to hear it continuing.
He’s also renowned for putting on a great show, and just happens to be in the middle of an Australian tour right now, playing Melbourne tonight and Sydney tomorrow. You should probably check him out.
Brandon Flowers – Flamingo
As the distinctive voice of Brandon Flowers wafts around the room – a little bit nasal, a little bit clean, strangely hypnotic – one is forced to consider how much of The Killers personality is made by Flowers alone. The style is very much like where The Killers having been heading (not that this is a bad thing).
In case you forgot (hardly likely), Flowers is a Las Vegas boy, he reminds us all with the opening track, Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas. This sets the tone for the entire album, the glitz of Vegas is almost overwhelming.
I enjoyed this album immensely, as will any fan of The Killers. If I were allowed one complaint, it would be that this album is a little too Killers-esque, I really would have liked to hear Flowers experiment some more. Certainly, his voice ties him strongly to The Killers, but that doesn’t mean he can’t mix things up – compare Bernard Fanning‘s solo album Tea & Sympathy to his work as lead singer of Powderfinger.
Finally, the album art: if you need a reminder that Flowers is quite a pretty man, you need look no further than here. Consisting of photos in and around Vegas, Flowers looks at home in a 70’s themed hotel, surrounded by showgirls, or out in the desert. You have to hand it to a guy who can pull off the “double denim” look without looking like someone who escaped the purge of early 90’s fashion.
Billy Corgan – The Future Embrace
Billy Corgan – his name can’t be mentioned without bringing up certain associations. Brilliant musician. Artist. Egomaniac. Bald. The Future Embrace is a few years old now, I just happened to have gotten around to picking it up recently. I’m happy to report, it ain’t half bad.
Like Brandon Flowers, Corgan struggles to separate his style from that of The Smashing Pumpkins (We’ll pretend that Zwan never existed). That said, his cover of To Love Somebody is worth the price of admission alone.
On a mostly unrelated note, Billy Corgan is also the source of one of my greatest regrets. Allow me to construct a scene for you:
You’re sitting at a table in a smoky, dimly lit bar. In a nearby corner, a small stage is illuminated by a single spot light, a high stool and a microphone stand all that’s on display. You cough, and take a sip of your drink as a shadowy figure approaches the stage and seats himself, starting pensively at the floor for a moment. The beret stops most of the glare of the light reflecting off the bald head underneath. Slowly, he looks up, and launches into the most pretentious poetry you’ve ever heard in your life.
And now for the back story: whilst walking around Bologna one day, I noticed a poster on a wall for a poetry reading by a Mr B. Corgan, his unmistakable dome hiding behind the large title text. Unfortunately, in a daze of imagination, conjuring images of how wonderfully terrible it would be, I wandered off forgetting to note down the date and venue. When I went back the next day the poster was gone, no doubt souvenired by an enthusiast fan. To this day, I’ve been left wondering what it would have been like to listen to a recital of the poetry of B. Corgan.
Grinderman – Grinderman 2
Oh, Nick Cave. I try hard to like your music, I really do. But I just can’t get into it. Don’t get me wrong, I like the stuff that ends up on radio, and Into My Arms playing at the end of He Died With a Fellafel In His Hand is one of my most memorable movie moments. But every time I listen to one of your albums, it just grates against me. It’s cool, I still like you – I just didn’t really like this album.
The Key of Sea
This is an album of pairs. Australian music and World music. Popular Australian musicians and unknown musicians from around the world, who’ve come to live in Australia. A great CD and a great cause.
Amongst many others, there are two styles of music I like: modern Australian indie, and world music. As luck would have it, the good folks behind The Key of Sea project were kind of enough to provide us all with exactly that combination. The idea of this project was to pair “artists that you already know and artists who have brought their incredible musical skills and cultures to Australia. It represents the efforts of an entire community who joined together in search of a common goal.”
From Australian music main stayers like Tim Rogers, Blue King Brown and The Cat Empire, through to some of the newest popular bands like Oh Mercy, Urthboy and Philadelphia Grand Jury, this album has something for everyone. Combined with the talent of international artists like Group 120, Diafrix and Yousif Aziz, you get a bit of a strange mix that just happens to work really well.
For this album, I can only recommend that you go out and buy it – there’s great music, and you’re supporting an excellent cause.