artists artists to watch for in 2008 digital downloads guitar music

The Sounds of London – Jack Penate and Jamie T

It’s been a while since the sounds of London caused me to become excited, but two lads are currently making enough noise to bring London to the main stage again. Those two boys are Jack Penate and Jamie Treays (aka Jamie T).

Jack Peñate

Jack Penate

Interesting side-note to begin this: Penate seems to have a problem holding onto his personal belongings on stage. Proving how harsh the British music scene is, Penate says of a recent performance:
I took my guitar off, and a kid came up and stole it. He knicked the guitar, put it under his arm and almost left before the bouncers stopped him.
At another performance at the Oxford Zodiac, a fan stole Peñate’s distortion pedal. After he’d realised it was missing he proclaimed, “D’you know what? Whoever’s got it…keep it! Just make sure you play a Telecaster through it and not a Gibson!”.

I have high hopes for Jack Peñate. If you manage to catch any clips of him playing live, you can see an unabashed enthusiasm and love for the performance in his eyes. The jangly, shimmering guitars; the breathless delivery; Jack Penate spits out rockabilly, ska-influenced, soulful pop like no one else’s business.
Jack is distinctly London; with pointed, observational lyrics, this is a lad to look out for.

The tracks are taken from his Matinee album; however, he plans to hit the studio in January to record his second album, of which he says, “I don’t want people to compare any song [on the new album] to any song on the first record. That’s my only fear. I would happily make a record that completely flopped, but showed different sides to me than one that was on a not-as-good-first-record.

Hmm. Should be interesting.

Listen: Jack Penate – Second Minute or Hour
Listen: Jack Penate – Torn on the Platform

Jamie T

Jamie T

Jamie Treays, more commonly known as Jamie T, is one of those artists that rebels against being pigeonholed. I’ve heard him being compared to Mike Skinner from the Streets, Lily Allen, and even Billy Bragg (I’m the least certain about this last one… I’d throw in Toothpick from the USA, or even Shane MacGowan of the Pogues before Bragg!). Still, none of these labels quite suit him.

There’s a bit of reggae in there; a large portion of rap; some rock; and some acoustic folk. The great thing about Jamie T, at least for me, is his ability to weave a story throughout his song. This is something that I feel justifies the comparisons with Skinner. At just 21 years of age, this kid has an amazing amount of potential… let’s see what becomes of him.

The below tracks are taken from his “Panic Prevention” album.

Listen: Jamie T – If You Got the Money
Listen: Jamie T – Sheila

artists artists to watch for in 2008 guitar music

The Wombats – Let’s Dance To Joy Division

The Wombats - Guide To Love, Loss & Desperation

There’s only a short list of songs who can immediately make me smile when I’m down. To this list, let me welcome “Let’s Dance to Joy Division” by The Wombats.

It’s too early to say how these Liverpudlians will fare; they’ve only released two albums. One of which, “Girls, Boys and Marsupials” was a Japan-only release, and their debut album, “Guide To Love Loss & Desperation” was only released in October of this year.

That said, I’m holding out high hopes for the gang. This single, “Let’s Dance To Joy Division” hints at a quirkiness that is pulled off with panache, and the irony-laden lines of “Let’s Dance to Joy Division, and celebrate the irony“, displays an ability to not take themselves too seriously… something that is sorely needed in these days of indie rock, considering the morose latter-day Borrell et al products.

Matthew Murphy’s voice certainly borrows from Robert Smith; and on this track, he gives it free reign… take it for what it is: a blistering, cracker of a fun rock song.


And, as an added bonus, here are some mp3’s thrown in for you to enjoy. Look out for these guys in the future.

Listen. Love. Support.

The Wombats – Let’s Dance to Joy Division
The Wombats – Moving to New York

artists artists to watch for in 2008 concerts digital downloads guitar music rock gods

State Radio, Roger That & The Beautiful Girls at the Tivoli.

On Friday night, I achieved one of my life’s goals (dramatic, perhaps… but nonetheless true), and saw State Radio perform live, at the Tivoli in Brisbane.
I almost cried, I was so happy.

Some background: Perhaps my favourite band of all time, was (and is) Dispatch. Darlings of the indie scene, who never caved to pressure, and always stayed true to their principles. They never signed to a major label, but despite (or, sometimes, I think because of this) their music reached around the globe and touched hundreds of thousands of people.
I won’t go into too much detail here; if you’re after more of a story regarding the trio of Pete Francis, Braddigan and Chad, AKA “Dispatch”, then I strongly recommend you take a look at the DVD, “Last Dispatch“. It’s a tale of the band performing their last show, at the Hatch Shell in Boston on July 31, 2004. “The Last Dispatch,” as it was called, is said to be the largest concert in independent music history, drawing fans in their droves… up to 110,000 of them. This came after announcing an indefinite hiatus in 2002. To most, The Last Dispatch was seen as their way of saying goodbye to the past.

There are some regrets that you could not have done anything to prevent; some people regret that they were born too late to see Hendrix live. One of my regrets, was that I was never able to see Dispatch perform live. And, when they broke up, I thought that I had lost my chance forever. The chance to see Chad Urmston play live, with State Radio, was something of a reprieve for that terrible regret.

Enough background, let’s talk about the show in question.

Roger That

Roger That
Roger That

The night was opened by a band from the Gold Coast of Australia, called “Roger That“. I was surprised I hadn’t heard of these guys before, seeing as I used to live on the GC. Turns out I was certainly missing something. Roger That describe themselves as a “reggae/psychedelia/rock influenced band”, and there’s definitely something about them. A few times during their set, I was reminded of Red Hot Chili Peppers during their bloodsugarsexmagik days.
Listening to their recorded stuff, there is an amazing energy that they display on stage that is unfortunately not really captured on their tracks… so if you get a chance to see these guys live, grab it with both hands. You’ll be impressed.
That said, here’s one of those recorded tracks:

Listen: Roger That – Jefferson Lane

State Radio

State Radio
State Radio (photo: Laura Barisonzi)

After Roger That, it was on to the second opening act (but the obvious highlight for me), State Radio.
State Radio came on, and blew me away. I wish I could give you a track by track breakdown, but I think I entered this entirely new state of bliss from their first chords. At the end of it, I was exhausted, deliriously happy, and finding myself thinking, “What the hell just happened?“.
However, what I can tell you is that Chad and the boys performed like gods up there that night. From their (extremely) fast and energetic version of “People to People“, to their hard-hitting rendition of Camilo, I think they shocked everyone in the audience. I say this, because unfortunately I think a lot of people there weren’t aware of State Radio (or perhaps even Dispatch) before that night; however, after the second song the boys were getting appreciative screams after every song.
It would be impossible for me to pick highlights from the set; State Radio played pretty much every song I wished they had that night (with the unfortunate exceptions of “Right Me Up“, and “Keepsake“), but if I had to choose my favourite performances of the night, it would have to be “Riddle in Londontown“, “Waitress“, or “Man in the Hall” (which was performed with far more anger than I have heard out of Chad in a long time).

If you’re after State Radio Material, I would probably suggest checking out their “Us Against the Crown” album, or their latest album, “Year of the Crow“.

All in all? Possibly the best live set I have ever seen, tied with Ryan Adams & The Cardinals. One day I hope to get to explain to the lads what they did for me that night.

Listen. Love. Support.

Listen: State Radio – Gunship Politico

The Beautiful Girls

The Beautiful Girls

After State Radio, it was on to the main act for the night, The Beautiful Girls. The Beautiful Girls came on to the loudest cheer I’d heard all night, and opened up their set with the beautiful “Learn Yourself“. Unfortunately you’ll have to visit another blog to get a full write-up of the Beautiful Girls set. I was still riding on a high from the State Radio set, and can’t relate too much of their set here. I can tell you though that they killed it that night, the horns and sax enticing everyone, and the reggaed-up version of “Music” going down extremely well with the reggae-loving Brisbane Crowd.
Their latest album, “Ziggurats“, is available through Amazon.

Listen: The Beautiful Girls – Learn Yourself


Update: It’s just occured to me that this will be my last post until after Christmas. So, best wishes to you and yours over the festive season. Keep on keepin’ on, and catch you on the other side.

artists covers digital downloads guitar music

Stereophonics – Best of You Cover

Stereophonics - Live Lounge Tour

Anyone who hasn’t heard of the BBC’s Live Lounge Tour, you’re too late. It just ended. But while it ran, it was one of my favourite stops online. Basically, the show was exactly as the title suggested; getting together with artists, in an informal setting, such as their home lounge, and then get them to play songs (originals and covers)… live. There was an amazing intimacy and warmth that came across on these episodes, and I’m still extremely jealous of Jo Whiley for getting to host it.

While it has drawn to a close now, I think that possibly one of the best shows of the season was saved ’til last, when the Live Lounge Tour chatted to the Stereophonics.

The Stereophonics have had their ups and downs, and their hits and misses, but I’ve always been a big fan of Kelly Jones and the boys. Strangely, while most people were turned off by their seemingly more morose phase, I thought that the “Maybe Tomorrow” times were some of their best. Regardless, I’m sure that this appearance on the Live Lounge may have swung more hearts their way.
The show started off with an interview at Kelly’s childhood home in Wales, and was then followed by an acoustic set at the Cwmaman Men’s Club, where the band had played their first show back when they were 13.

The highlight of the show, and the reason for this very post though, was their cover version of the Foo Fighters “Best of You“. Kelly’s voice has never sounded better. It has the perfect blend of world-weariness and hurt; and of hope.
You may not have the blatant Grohl anger here… but Kelly delivers this song in no less a forceful version. It’s as if he approaches it from the other side; a lonely, broken voice calling out in the darkness.

It’s one of the most haunting covers I’ve heard in ages. Good on ya boys.

Listen. Love. Support.

Listen: Stereophonics – Best of You (Foo Fighters Cover)

Update: I’ve finally managed to source this clip on youtube. Watch it, and feel the goosebumps…

Stereophonics – Best Of You (Foo Fighters) – Live Lounge Clip

artists christmas covers digital downloads guitar music

Jack Johnson’s New Album. And, another Christmas Cover.

Jack Johnson - Sleep Through The Static

So it appears that Jack Johnson’s new album, “Sleep Through The Static” should be ready for release by February, 2008. For this, his 5th album, Johnson worked with his usual rhythm section – bassist Merlo Podlewski and drummer Adam Topol – plus Zach Gill (frequent collaborater and frontman of ALO) on piano and accordion.

Jack has said of the album:

“Some of the songs on this album are about making babies. Some of the songs are about raising them. Some of the songs are about the world that these children will grow up in; a world of war and love, and hate, and time and space. Some of the songs are about saying goodbye to people I love and will miss.”

Jack’s had an amazing couple of years. From Brushfire Fairytales to the Curious George: Sing-A-Longs and Lullabies soundtrack, Jackie J seems to be on a winning streak. I have the feeling though, that this album will be his toughest yet.
The population is becoming harder to please, and the problem with gaining popularity is that – even for a surfer/singer/songwriter like Jack Johnson – a certain amount of innocence is lost. I’m hoping for a feeling like the one I had when I first heard “Flake”. That innocent joy that ran through you. Time will tell.

In the meantime, Jack has released two of the singles from the forthcoming album on his myspace page. Here is the title track, “Sleep through the Static“, below (again, for new visitors, just click on the “play” icon to listen).

Listen: Jack Johnson – Sleep Through the Static

And, continuing on from our Christmas Cover love, Jack Johnson has also released a cover of a Stevie Wonder song, “Someday at Christmas“, on his website. As Jack says:

Here is a home recording i did of a Stevie Wonder song. My parents used to play this song at our house when we were kids.

Pray for peace.

Please visit The Peace Alliance at

Sentiments after our own heart.
Listen. Love. Support.

Listen: Jack Johnson – Someday at Christmas (Stevie Wonder cover)

artists concerts digital downloads guitar music rock gods

Crosby, Stills & Nash – About time for Brisbane…

Crosby Stills & Nash - Brisbane Riverstage

On Saturday I was lucky enough to see gods in action; Crosby, Stills & Nash, performing in Brisbane at the Riverstage.
It’s been about 10 years since I last saw these guys live. The last time was in South Africa, on a night where a sudden downpour in an open arena had the sound washed away in a wall of water. Luckily, the weather cooperated with us this time, and CSN were treated to the conditions they deserve.

After the originally scheduled concert date of February was postponed, the breathless anticipation of the crowd was tangible for hours before, waiting in queue… so when the troupe walked on stage at 8.30pm, the roar that greeted them was solid.
With that said, the trio didn’t really hit full song for me in the first half. Even with the opener of “Carry On“, there was a discordant feel to the music, something which was shocking and jarring for a band renowned for their crisp harmonies and meldings.

For the men themselves, not much appears to have changed: Stills, still the cantankerous old devil, flamboyantly wrestling with the guitar as if it was a beast he needed to tame; Nash, the consummate buffer between the two titans, someone who tries to invite you into the music; and Crosby, a space-traveller who has retreated into the world of music in his head, a place that always leaves a smile on his face… however, it seems a struggle to persuade him to return to the real world.
Highlight of the first half, for me anyway, was Marrakesh Express. There was a glimpse there of time-past, and a hint that the second-half would deliver. We were not disappointed.

The band that returned after the intermission was the band we all know and love. From the beginning Nash-penned song of “Military Madness“, there was a synergy there that only the band of CSN can attain. Not only a synergy, but a renewed vigour and youth seemed to find them in the song. From there, the night was a amalgam of powerhouse rock and entrancing melodies, none of which were finer than on the song “Helplessly Hoping“.

I was surprised at the amount of Crosby-Nash material that was played, but unfortunately I think this might have something to do with the state of Stills; although he put on a stellar performace, he does not look a well man… whenever Crosby and Nash performed, he rushed to the edge of the stage, and in the darkness you could see him collapsing on a stool, seemingly exhausted.

Stills, however, was undoubtedly the cause for my highlight of the night; against all expectation, CSN performed Stills’ tune, “For What It’s Worth“, penned during his Buffalo Springfield days. I never thought I would be lucky enough to hear that performed live. It was everything I had hoped for.
Another unexpected song for the night was Stills’ solo performance of “4+20“, a song he reminded us was, “simply a passing childish phase. Don’t read too much into a fleeting phase“.

Crosby’s performance of his “Almost Cut My Hair” was a wonderful highlight as well, his voice leaping and soaring as if he was still a young man, belting out the lines:

I feel like letting my freak flag fly
Cause I feel like I owe it to someone

as if he was trying to tell us all, “You too can do this. Just believe”.

Rather than go through the wealth of material performed that night (around 2 and a half hours!), suffice to quote Graham Nash, responding to a request for a song from one of the front rows:
We’ll play all the fucking songs we can remember man… all four of them. Or, in Crosby’s case, two“.

Their interplay with the audience was wonderful; introducing the song “Our House“, Crosby stated, “University studies have shown, that in the years between 1969 to 1974, 40% of all women who gave up their virginity, did so to this song…“, to which Stills wryly replied, “Yeah. And boy was I tired“.
The reality of the humour was forced home when a member of the audience threw a bra up onto the stage during one of the final songs. The boys looked at it for a while, and then Nash placed it up on his microphone stand, saying, “Wow. It’s been a loooong time since we had one of these thrown up at us“.

There was a magic there that night. Although the first half started off slowly, it was almost as if an energy built up and built up in the venue… eventually bursting the dams and possessing each and every person there, showing them the way of the music. So, naturally, when the band retired, there was a resounding encore call; to which the boys replied (of course), with stunning renditions of both “Teach Your Children” and “Woodstock“.

I grew up listening to CSN(Y); with both my mother and father avid fans, I really had no choice. So they had a lot to live up to that night.

They blew away each and every expectation I had.

Thanks boys.

Listen. Love. Support.

Listen: Crosby, Stills & Nash – 4+20 (live at Woodstock)
Listen: Crosby, Stills & Nash – Almost Cut My Hair
Listen: Crosby, Stills & Nash – Helplessly Hoping


Update 20 Dec:
I’ve just learned via Rolling Stone that Stephen Stills has been diagnosed with prostate cancer. According to the column:

Last night on Larry King Live, Graham Nash revealed that Stephen Stills, his bandmate in Crosby, Stills and Nash, has been diagnosed with prostate cancer. The revelation followed a discussion between King and Nash about the death of singer-songwriter Dan Fogelberg, who suffered from prostate cancer for three years before passing last Sunday. According to Nash, Stills — unlike Fogelberg — caught his at an early stage, and will be operated on January 3rd, which also happens to be Stills’ birthday.

Best wishes Stephen. We need you.

authors best wishes literature sad news

Terry Pratchett diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s. Buggrit.

This is a completely unrelated-to-music post, and an extreme downer for the Christmas theme today; but I needed to post this.

One of my favourite authors of all time (along with Neil Gaiman, and Robert Rankin), the illustrious and incomparable Terry Pratchett, has officially announced that he has been diagnosed with a rare form of early onset Alzheimer’s.

Terry Pratchett

In a post entitled “Embuggerance” on Paul Kidby’s site, Pratchett writes:


I would have liked to keep this one quiet for a little while, but because of upcoming conventions and of course the need to keep my publishers informed, it seems to me unfair to withhold the news. I have been diagnosed with a very rare form of early onset Alzheimer’s, which lay behind this year’s phantom “stroke”.

We are taking it fairly philosophically down here and possibly with a mild optimism […] Frankly, I would prefer it if people kept things cheerful, because I think there’s time for at least a few more books yet :o)

PS I would just like to draw attention to everyone reading the above that this should be interpreted as ‘I am not dead’. I will, of course, be dead at some future point, as will everybody else.

Along with Gaiman, Terry Pratchett has probably been the author (bugger it, never mind author… individual) most responsible for changing my life in ways that only a true writer can. He exposes human nature for what it really is, yet always – always – offers hope and redemption, in his own inimitable fashion; with a wit and humour that defies equals.

I know that he (to quote the words of Granny Weatherwax), “aten’t dead”… but I still feel an extreme sadness here. Best wishes, Terry. We’ll all be holding thumbs.

artists christmas covers digital downloads music

It’s a Coldplay Christmas – 2000 miles. And, a side order of The Pogues.

Coldplay Christmas Message

In preparation for the Yuletide season, Coldplay is streaming a cover version of the Pretenders song, “2000 miles” on their website, along with the above note.
While Chris Martin might not be as attractive as Chrissie Hynde, they do a great version. Normally, I’m not a fan of Christmas songs (apart from exceptions such as The Pogues “Fairytale of New York”, and possibly the Killers “A Big Sled”) but when you have Pretenders material to work with, you already have a great start.

Listen: Coldplay – 2000 miles (Pretenders cover)

Speaking of The Pogues, in case you can’t read ol’ Chris’s writing up there, it says:
“Dec, 2003 – Christmas cover of 2000 miles by The Pretenders (wonderful band with fringes/bangs)
We love Christmas songs, but everytime we try and write one it’s awful. So we often cover them, well once or twice actually.
In fact, the song I would most like to have written is “Fairytale of New York” by de bloody Pogues of Ireland.”

Aah, The Pogues. I reckon almost everyone wishes they could have written that song Chris. Voted “Best Christmas Song Ever” in a VH1 poll, I don’t think it will ever be topped.
A song of youthful hopes and dreams, crushed over the span of successive Christmas Eve’s…

I could have been someone
Well so could anyone
You took my dreams from me
When I first found you
I kept them with me babe
I put them with my own
Can’t make it all alone
I’ve built my dreams around you

Cheers, Shane and Kirsty.

The Pogues - Fairytale of New York

Listen: The Pogues – Fairytale of New York


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