Results for Australia

interviews

Jenny Hval

Jenny Hval Jim and Greg are joined this week by the talented Norwegian multidisciplinary artist Jenny Hval. After a stint fronting a gothic-metal band in Norway, she moved to Australia for college and began developing her voice as a songwriter. After returning to Norway, she released her first two albums (To Sing You Apple Trees in 2006 and Medea in 2008) under the stage name Rockettothesky. But beginning with 2011's Viscera, Jenny Hval has been recording under her own name. In addition to her six albums, she has also published two novels in Norwegian and has designed sound installations and performance art pieces.

Jenny Hval's most recent album Blood Bitch found a place in Jim's top ten list for 2016. As she explains, the record is a concept album tying together themes of vampirism, the female body, and the life of a touring musician. Jenny Hval speaks with Jim and Greg about writing the album, finding inspiration in the Arp Odyssey synthesizer, absorbing horror soundtracks, and rejecting the stereotypical persona of the female singer-songwriter.

Go to episode 600

Courtney Barnett

Australian singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett takes small moments of the every day and turns them into musical masterpieces. Barnett's writing style is conversational and chuck-full of words. She uses sarcastic, witty and genuine lyrics to set herself apart from the alternative rock pack (she even ended up on President Obama's Summer 2016 playlist!) Aside from being a unique songwriting talent, Courtney Barnett's music is punctuated by her explosive guitar playing and powerful stage presence. While performing live, Barnett frequently plays both the lead and rhythm guitar parts, and her energy is electrifying. Jim and Greg spoke to Courtney about her 2015 debut Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit, which both hosts had in their top 10 albums list of 2015. They'll also chat about her songwriting process and musical influences, plus Courtney performs an exclusive solo set live from the Goose Island Tap Room.

Go to episode 559

Tame Impala

Australian psychedelic band Tame Impala made a huge impact on the US with their 2012 album Lonerism. Jim and Greg were particularly smitten with it, as the album took top slots on both critics' Best of 2012 lists. Tame Impala stopped by our studios in 2013 for an interview and live performance. This week we're revisiting that conversation, just in time for the release of the band's new record Currents. Lead singer Kevin Parker talks about the band's influences, both expected (The Flaming Lips) and not (Supertramp), and his desire to work with producer Dave Fridmann. The musicians also debate whether actual psychedelic substances contribute to a psychedelic sound. Certainly you don't need them to enjoy the result.

Go to episode 503

Elisabeth Vincentelli on ABBA

ABBA Forty years ago this month, Anni-Frid (Frida) Lyngstad, Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus, and Agnetha Fältskog took the stage at Eurovision 1974, decked out in platform shoes and sequined suits, to perform a new song called "Waterloo." ABBA would become the first Swedish act to win the song contest. And while Eurovision winners rarely stay relevant, ABBA proved a huge exception, cranking out hit after hit in the 1970s before disbanding in 1983. But their legacy is complicated, explains Elisabeth Vincentelli. By day, she's the chief drama critic for the New York Post. But by night she's an ABBA superfan who wrote a 33 1/3 book on ABBA Gold, the group's definitive best-of collection (and one of the top-selling albums in European history).

As Elisabeth reveals to Jim and Greg, there's way more to this band than just "Dancing Queen." Both Agnetha and Frida were well-known performers in Sweden before they married Benny and Björn and started ABBA (Agnetha was also an accomplisehd songwriter). Unfortunately, the two couples struggled to maintain their relationships in the limelight, leading to a downward spiral that Elisabeth likens to Rumours-era Fleetwood Mac (with less tabloid coverage). Things finally fell apart in the early '80s. But a decade later, ABBA saw a strange resurgence among punk and gay subcultures, then among mainstream crowds, thanks to the Australian dramedy Muriel's Wedding and Broadway smash Mamma Mia!. The four members have all found success on their own, but Elisabeth has a bold prediction to make… Could an ABBA reunion could be in the works?

Go to episode 438
reviews
Some People Have Real ProblemsSome People Have Real Problems available on iTunes

Sia Some People Have Real Problems

After releasing albums by Paul McCartney and Bob Dylan, Starbucks' Hear Music label is finally putting out music by someone under 40. Sia is an Australian singer/songwriter who made a name for herself by appearing on various TV soundtracks and providing vocals to groups like Zero 7. Now she's released her third album Some People Have Real Problems. Greg is very impressed by the artist's soulful singing, but he has major problems with her songwriting. He describes the record as a boring, overproduced, tarted-up pop record with one of the worst covers he's ever seen. He gives the music and the art a Trash It. Jim completely disagrees and can't believe that a Feist fan wouldn't get Sia. He finds her lyrics to be filled with smart social commentary and gives it a Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 118
Skeleton TreeSkeleton Tree available on iTunes

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds Skeleton Tree

Australian rock band Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds are back with a new record called Skeleton Tree. The album is particularly dark, even by Cave's standards, and deals with the aftermath of the death of Cave's teenage son. Jim thinks it's a hard listen, even for fans. He wishes that the album had a moment of redemption at the end, but recognizes that perhaps Cave has not yet found it. For those reasons, he gives Skeleton Tree a Try It. Greg agrees that the record is harrowing, meditating on questions of the pointlessness of life and how to carry on after losing a loved one. The way Cave interprets these songs is tragically beautiful, with vocals unlike any he's ever provided, and Greg feels he's working toward the light. While Skeleton Tree may not be something you want to listen to all the time, he gives it a Buy It for its earnest beauty.

JimGreg
Go to episode 565
Blue Planet EyesBlue Planet Eyes available on iTunes

The Preatures Blue Planet Eyes

While Greg discovered Protomartyr at the 2014 SXSW Music Conference, Jim came back from Austin raving about The Preatures. The Australian quintet's new album is called Blue Planet Eyes, and both Jim and Greg think it's the warm, upbeat salve we need during these blistering months. The album was produced by Spoon's Jim Eno, and Greg can hear his taut, syncopated touches all over it. And while Preatures singer Isabella Manfredi is being compared to New Wave divas like Blondie and Chrissie Hynde, Jim adds another joyful influence:“Walking on Sunshine”by Katrina & the Waves. If you're making your list for Santa, add Blue Planet Eyes—a double Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 470
Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just SitSometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit available on iTunes

Courtney Barnett Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit

Australian singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett has garnered attention over the last few years on the strength of a few buzzed-about EPs. She made a big splash at this year's SXSW and now has a proper album out called Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit. Greg loves how Barnett takes everyday details and turns them into incisive songs filled with fleshed out characters. She's also a fantastic guitar player with a distinctive rhythm/lead style. It's one of the best collection of songs Greg has heard in years. Jim compares Barnett to Kurt Cobain in her ability to mix the power of rock with the intricacy of pop melodies. Like Greg, he proclaims it one of the best albums of the year so far. Both critics give Courtney Barnett a Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 488
WildflowerWildflower available on iTunes

The Avalanches Wildflower

For the first time in 16 years, electronic act The Avalanches has released a new album. Wildflower is the follow-up to the Australian group's successful debut, Since I Left You. As on that influential first record, the new album features songs seemingly built on thousands of samples. This time around, though, the group is teaming up with several collaborators. Greg enjoyed Wildflower, and pointed out that he's a fan of The Avalanches' Day-Glo, positive energy. However, he thinks the numerous guest cameos from artists like Biz Markie, Danny Brown, and Ariel Pink are hit-and-miss. Overall, Greg is a fan of The Avalanches' quirky sound, but gives this record a Try It. Jim is a little more excited about this album, and compares it to watching Saturday morning cartoons as a kid. He thinks that this record might not be for everyone, but you should Buy It and see for yourself.

JimGreg
Go to episode 555
AnastasisAnastasis available on iTunes

Dead Can Dance Anastasis

Next Jim and Greg review Anastasis, the first new record in sixteen years from longtime 4AD band Dead Can Dance. This duo began thirty years ago in Australia. Guitarist Brendan Perry got his start in punk circles, but turned in a more experimental direction after meeting vocalist Lisa Gerrard. Greg says in the eighties, no one sounded quite like Dead Can Dance. The band melded the ancient sounds of Gregorian chant and renaissance music with au courant ambient pop. Since splitting up in 1997, Gerard and Perry have pursued solo careers (Gerard composed the music for Gladiator), but recent brushfires in Australia brought the two together long enough to produce a new album, Anastasis. Are the dead still dancing in 2012? Jim says not nearly enough. He finds Perry's serious, intoned lyrics laughable and Gerrard's compositions plodding and overdramatic. He says Trash It. Greg admits to being a Dead Can Dance diehard back in the day, but even he admits the band's slow tempos on this album aren‘t doing them any favors. Not only are Perry’s lyrics annoying, he says, but they don‘t seem to have anything to do with Gerrard’s beautiful, atmospheric vocals. He gives Anastasis a Burn It on the strength of Gerrard's voice, but calls Anastasis second-rate work.

JimGreg
Go to episode 353
Time on Earth (Deluxe Edition)Time On Earth available on iTunes

Crowded House Time On Earth

Next up is the first Crowded House album in 14 years. The New Zealand/Australian pop band had two big hits in 1986-87 with "Don‘t Dream It’s Over" and "Something So Strong." The group disbanded a few years later, and then in 2005, drummer Paul Hester committed suicide. Jim and Greg discuss how much Hester's death looms over the new album called Time On Earth. In fact, this album was supposed to be a solo album from the group's front man and chief songwriter Neil Finn, but the lead singer was so moved by the death of his friend that he wanted the record to be identified as Crowded House. But, Greg questions how much Crowded House contributed as a unit. He describes the drums as completely buried and the bass playing as placid. Greg wonders if he missed the memo asking for a new Crowded House record, and gives the "mediocre adult pop sound" a Trash It. Jim doesn‘t really get Finn’s songwriting, describing it as too“fussy.”He had a really hard time not tuning out while listening to Time On Earth, and also gives it a Trash It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 84
InnerSpeaker (Collector's Edition)Innerspeaker available on iTunes

Tame Impala Innerspeaker

The Psychedelic era might've predated the boys in Tame Impala by about half a century, but it's the major musical influence on this Australian band. The brainchild of Perth's Kevin Parker, Tame Impala was discovered on MySpace. The band's debut, Innerspeaker, was mixed by longtime Flaming Lips producer Dave Fridmann. Fridmann was also on board for the band's latest, Lonerism. As its name suggests, Lonerism is about someone who doesn't fit in. But Greg says Parker cannily avoids solipsism by cloaking his melancholy songs in uplifting (and obsessively detailed) pop production. It's a Buy It record for him. Jim agrees. Tame Impala delivers psychedelic transcendence while remaining Britney Spears-catchy. Lonerism gets an enthusiastic double Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 363
dijs

Greg

“What's the New Mary Jane”The Moles

Lately Greg has been binging on the music of Australian songwriter Richard Davies. Davies has worked as a solo artist and also released an album with Eric Matthews under the moniker Cardinal. But this week Greg is especially drawn to Davies' first band, The Moles, which merged baroque pop and psychedelia with a skewed sense of melody. The Moles' 1992 single "What's the New Mary Jane" lifts its title from a famous Beatles outtake, but it's much more substantive than what the Fab Four actually recorded. It's a twisted, druggy slice of pop music unlike anything else coming out during the grunge era, so it earns its place in the Desert Island Jukebox.

Go to episode 483

Jim

“Out of Control”Lime Spiders

Usually Jim and Greg take inspiration from something in the show or something in the news for their Desert Island Jukebox picks. But this week, Jim is inspired by nothing more than a desire for an injection of high energy rock. He chooses a song by Australian garage rockers the Lime Spiders. Jim thinks their second single "Out of Control" is one of the best garage revival songs he's ever heard, and that's why he can't live without it.

Go to episode 200

Greg

“Here Comes a City”The Go-Betweens

The Australian band The Saints has been ushering in our Desert Island Jukebox segment for years. And this week, Greg wants to stay in that continent and add a song by The Go-Betweens. The band's series of albums in the '80s were wonderful, but never made a big commercial impact. They reformed in 2000 and had one of those rare successful second acts. And it's from that era that Greg culls his DIJ pick: "Here Comes a City" from 2005.

Go to episode 406
news

Music News

Last weekend was the famous Eurovision Song Contest, the“World Cup”of music. A fixture in Europe since 1968, past winners include ABBA, Celine Dion and Katrina and the Waves. Eurovision never fails to feature weird music and geopolitical controversy, and this year was no exception. Singer Jamala from Ukraine beat out Australia and Russia for the top prize. Russia was irked by Jamala's song choice, a track called "1944," about Stalin's exile of the Crimean Tatar population – with obvious connections to today's crisis in Ukraine. Better the countries fight via silly pop songs than actual guns, Jim argues.

Get your sunscreen, hats, and wallets out for the first Desert Trip! The new music festival will be held in the same location as Coachella, and with its septuagenarian lineup, it quickly acquired the nickname "Oldchella." Desert Trip will feature six major acts from the 1960s rock scene: The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, Neil Young, Roger Waters and The Who. Ticket sales have already exceeded a record $150 million – thanks to ticket prices reaching into the thousands. That's not to mention the $6,500 resort packages. Jim thinks that for that price, they ought to air condition the desert.

Go to episode 547

Music News

You can hear Katy Perry "Roar" from the mountaintop on her latest release Prism. Unfortunately, it's the world's shortest mountain. She shot to #1 on Billboard's album chart last week, but it was the worst-selling week since 1991. Perry sold 286,000 copies of her 4th album. Compare that with albums in '91 like Use Your Illusion (685,000) and Ropin' the Wind (400,000). But, on the bright side, Perry's album did earn another distinction: Biohazard. Deluxe versions of Prism came with seed paper that the singer is encouraging fans to plant and“spread the light.”But, Australian officials see it as a“bio-security concern.” That's even worse than a Trash It rating.

"Future Shock," Curtis Mayfield sings. Well, that's what some insiders say the music industry's in for if it doesn't start planning. Greg just returned from the Future of Music Summit in Washington D.C., and there heard from Tom Silverman, the founder of the New Music Seminar, who said that the digital download era is coming to an end. Rather than continue to fight piracy, the music industry needs to focus on the next stage of revenues. Another big change on the horizon? The current copyright law, last revised in 1976, is long overdue for a makeover.

Go to episode 415