Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Halloween Mix

Australians don't really celebrate Halloween.  Children down under can spend their entire childhoods without ever feeling the exhilarating pleasure of running up to a strangers door and threatening them with malicious acts unless they give you some kind delicious treat as a payoff.  Halloween is catching on here, very slowly, but I think that in the next ten years or so celebrating Halloween will be just as big here in Australia as it is in the States.  Stores are stocking some (but not very much) Halloween related costumes and decorating paraphernalia, candy is being packaged in distinctly Halloween-related themes, and supermarkets are putting pumpkins out on display, even going as far as to advertise websites to consult for help with carving, all of which seem to indicate that Halloween is on the cusp of greatness here.  Rhiannon and I are going to a party, we're going as Rick Deckard and Pris from Blade Runner, not only because it's a great film, but we were able to put the costumes together by compiling items from our own closets and the very first thrift store we stopped at.  Anyway, I compiled a Halloween themed mixtape for your consumption in a handy Zip file that contains all of the tracks listed below and the original artwork I came up with.  I like the album art you see above better, so if you prefer that one, just right-click and save as.  Enjoy the mixtape and let me know what you think of it in the comments section below!

Halloween Mix 2010
1. M83 - Car Chase Terror
2. Bat for Lashes - What's a Girl To Do?
3. Muse - New Born
4. Radiohead - Kid A
5. The Knife - Silent Shout
6. Crystal Castles - Doe Deer
7. Cat Power - Werewolf
8. Portishead - Sour Times
9. Mogwai - I Know What You Are But What Am I?
10. Dead Man's Bones - Pa Pa Power
11. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Red Right Hand
12. Jace Everett - Bad Things
13. Q Lazzarus - Goodbye Horses

Download the Halloween Mix in the "Pages" section of this site! (can be found on the right)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Holidays @ Jive 23/10/10

I caught The Holidays, an energetic foursome out of Sydney, last Saturday at Adelaide indie music mecca, Jive. I was not entirely sure what to expect from the band, as my previous exposure to them was a halfhearted listen from a friend's iTunes. Never one to turn down a show, I decided to check them out, and let me tell you that I am glad that I did. The Holidays opened the show with an upbeat tune that had both the boys and girls in the audience swaying their hips and chanting along with the chorus. After that, the band never looked back, churning out song after song of infectious guitar riffs, swirling synths, and catchy bass lines that were all neatly packaged into tropical melodies that kept the party vibe alive and well.
The Holidays somehow managed to pack each one of their songs with as much sound as possible, which was welcomed by the crowd. The vocals of Simon Jones were crisp and unbridled despite the fact that this was the last show of a fairly long tour. The Holidays are good fun, with catchy pop songs, deft instrumentation and tight band dynamics that are sure to win over fans around the globe.
 The boys from The Holidays have just released their first album, titled Post Paradise, and it is available for download from iTunes here.  Check out the promo video for the album below, courtesy of Liberation Music.

Last but not least, check out some of the other photos I snapped at the show and a great article by Jimmy Bollard at Rip It Up magazine.

If you are lucky enough to be in Australia in the next few months, you have a number of opportunities to see The Holidays live, something I would highly suggest you do.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Peppy Bismilk, or, Why is everything just a little different here?

Despite all of the similarities between the United States and Australia (including the eerily similar treatment of its indigenous peoples), there are some products that, despite their content being the same, are simply called different names.  This could be because of any number of reasons, copyright issues, rebranding in an effort to appeal to more Australians, etc.  Whatever the reason, sometimes when I see things in supermarkets, convenience stores and the like, I think of the 30 Rock episode where Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) goes down south to recruit new talent, ends up getting sick, and before trying "Peppy Bismilk" (not to mention "Schwupps Ginny Pale") to rid her of her bug, she screams, "Peppy Bismilk?! Why is everything just a little different here?!" Sometimes Lemon, I know how you feel...
Apparently Kellogg didn't feel the word "Krispies" would fly over here in Australia.  Maybe they were concerned that too many people would question the quality of the product since "Krispies" is clearly word from the land of make believe.  They are kind of like bubbles though, don't you think?  Maybe Australia is on to something here...anyway, here are some cover versions of songs since they are kind of related to what I'm talking about in the sense that it's the same content, just packaged a bit differently.

Radiohead - Ceremony (New Order)
TV on the Radio - Heroes (David Bowie)
Howie Beck - Reptilia (The Strokes)
Scarlett Johansson - Bullet (Steel Train)
Ryan (that's me) - Ayo Technology acoustic (50 Cent)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Beach @ Glenelg & consumable seasonal mixtape

For those who are geographically challenged, Australia is on the opposite side of the world from the United States. If I were back in Connecticut right now I would be experiencing the temperature drops which come with Fall, and possibly even wake up to thin layer of frost covering the windshield of my car. In Australia though, it is Spring, and my days are usually filled with sunshine and very pleasant temperatures. About a week ago, temperatures got as high as 28 degrees Celsius (approximately 83 degrees Fahrenheit), so Rhiannon and I took our first trip to the beach at Glenelg. Neither of us ventured into the water since we deduced that the water would probably still be rather cold (although that didn't stop some people), but it was a beautiful day. I figured I would post a few pictures and a lazy Summer/Autumn mix that would suit either season. I figured I would try to ride the chillwave as much as possible before it was ultimately usurped by post-chill take-a-load-off-core, so I tried to include a few songs that would be considered as such, although pickings were slim since the "genre" of chillwave (sub-genre of lo-fi chillout dream-synth pop?!) only has like five notable (buzzworthy?! Whatever.) bands.

Washed Out - Feel It All Around
Small Black - Despicable Dogs
Band of Horses - Dilly
Beach House - Walk In The Park
Christopher Willits - Colors Shifting
Benoit Pioulard - Palimend
Empire of the Sun - Half Mast
Port O'Brien - I Woke Up Today
Toro y Moi - Leave Everywhere
Wolf Parade - Ghost Pressure

Driving on the other side of the road

Australians drive on the left hand side of the road. Because of this, all of their vehicles (except for the ones imported from countries that manufacture their cars in countries that employ right hand side of the road traffic) have steering wheels on the right, as opposed to the left like in the States. Originally, most of the traffic worldwide drove on the left, however today about 66.1% of the world's people live in right-hand traffic countries and 33.9% in left-hand traffic countries. Since I don't have a car here in Australia, this is of little concern to me, however I still have to think about which way traffic is coming when I cross the street. There have been a few instances, however, that I have had to get behind the wheel. Driving on the opposite side of the road is a bit disorienting at first, especially trying to remember which side of the road you need to be on after the completion of a turn, but after a while, you get the hang of it. The only real issue I have with driving here is the lack of four-way intersections. The lack of them has become problematic for me, mainly due to the fact that Australians employ roundabouts:

Look at that diagram. The cartoonish representation of the roundabout makes it seem cute and approachable, which disguises the soul crushing reality that this bastardization of roadway has in store for unprepared motorists. It lies in wait, like a masterful predator, ready to pounce on its unsuspecting prey. In all seriousness, that diagram really does make it seem like I am either a bad driver, or complaining about something that really isn't that big of a deal, but look at this:

Seems like it would promote accidents rather than prevent them, am I right? When I brought this up to Rhiannon she shrugged it off and simply stated that when you approach a roundabout, you always give way to your right. So there you have it, a simple rule not unlike the US rule of letting whoever got there first, go first. I still contest that intersections are much easier to navigate than roundabouts.

Last but not least, I decided to post some "driving songs". I go through phases in terms of what i like to listen to while I'm driving, sometimes I like to belt out the choruses, sometimes I like to just sit and reflect and sort of zone out. Regardless of whether you listen to these songs while driving, you should check them out all the same because they are quality.

The National - Blank Slate
Tamaryn - Love Fade
Gorillaz - Superfast Jellyfish
Oasis - Fuckin' In The Bushes
Passion Pit - Little Secrets

Monday, October 18, 2010

The state of Australian beer

My brother originally introduced me to the above video quite some time ago, long before I decided to move to Australia. I believe he also showed it to my girlfriend Rhiannon, who is Australian, when she was back in the States. He also does a pretty spot on impression of the "Australian" guy in the video as well. Despite being a fairly humorous video, there are a few things I would like to clarify:

1. Not all Australians sound like the guy in the video (although some certainly do). In fact, South Australians actually sound more British than anything.

2. The quip he makes about Australian beer is actually true. Fosters beer, which is what we typically equate with "Australian for beer", is actually quite elusive down under. We can probably attribute the fact that Fosters is the most recognizable Australian beer to Americans due to a fairly successful and memorable marketing campaign (see below), although I have yet to find Fosters on tap or even on sale at a liquor store. Apparently Fosters isn't even brewed in Australia anymore, and it is generally considered a terrible beer that most Aussies look upon in shame.

There are a number of Australian beers available for consumption, however the variety and selection doesn't come close to what you can find in the US. That being said, Australian beer television ads are much, much better than those found on the tube in the States. Don't believe me? Check the videos below.

While you enjoy those ads from Australia, I'm going to sit back with a Tooheys Extra Dry and get in the mood for trivia night. If you're drinking as well, check out these tunes to get you in the mood.

Arcade Fire - Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)
We Are Scientists - This Scene is Dead
Van She - Cat & The Eye
Black Keys - Strange Times
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Weapon of Choice

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Small cars, fair trade and Sudanese rappers

One of the things that I have noticed since coming to Australia is the general population's proclivity for smaller cars than Americans. The big car craze that seemed to grip middle class America never really caught on in Australia, probably something to do with the fact that petrol (gasoline) hovers around $1.15 per liter (approx. 4 liters in a gallon, you do the math). That's not to say that all cars in Australia are tiny little Micro Machines, although people, especially younger people, tend to gravitate to smaller, more fuel efficient cars. Obviously car manufacturers cater to the preferences of a population, and a lot of the cars that are available to people here in Australia simply aren't offered in the States. My favorite has to be the Honda Jazz, although I have never driven one, their ads have won me over.

Did I mention Australians don't really buy into the whole "politically correct" thing?

Parklife 2010

So I recently went to the Parklife festival, which was incredibly enjoyable. There were four stages situated in Adelaide's Botanic Gardens, each stage showcasing a variety of different artists. The festival's website says this, "PARKLIFE is Australia's most forward‐looking music festival, bringing you a lineup of artists who completely define the moment in music." I suppose that is a fairly accurate description of the talent they had lined up. There was something like over 40 acts there, including Groove Armada, Missy Elliot, Mix Master Mike, etc, however Rhiannon and I only saw the following:

- Stubanga
- Wolf Gang
- Darwin Deez
- The Wombats
- Kele
- Holy Ghost!
- Cut Copy
- The Dandy Warhols

All in all, it was a good day. The wait for the port-o-potties was never painfully long and I was only asked if I was willing to trade drugs for a lawn chair once. The $9.50 beers were a bit of a downer though.

Wolf Gang - Back to Back
Darwin Deez - Radar Detector
The Wombats - Kill the Director
Kele - Tenderoni
Cut Copy - Out There On The Ice

It's been a long time, but in my defense, I moved to Australia

30 + hours on a plane and I landed in Australia. It is kind of weird to think that I am now halfway around the world. I am just about the farthest possible distance away from where I grew up as I possibly can be. Not bad for someone who desperately wanted to leave and try something new huh? Some quick facts about Australia:

1. Vegemite is, well, not entirely bad, but it is certainly an acquired taste.
2. I have yet to see a koala in the wild, apparently in addition to their penchant for sleep, they are extremely shy as well.
3. Since the country is on the opposite side of the world, the seasons are opposite.
4. No one speaks like Crocodile Dundee.
5. Triple J is the national radio station here and they actually play decent music.

Be back with more posts soon, but for now, here's a little tribute to Australia.

Men At Work - Down Under