2007 Releases artists artists to watch for in 2009 digital downloads guitar music Under The Radar

Nathaniel Hoho… Under The Radar.

So quite often, people will email me about an artist that I “absolutely need to hear”. Some are… well, ok. Some are good. Some are great. And some are special. And if it wasn’t for the fans emailing me, I might have missed out and never heard these tunes.
So that’s the reason why I’m starting a new column today on this blog: “Under The Radar”.

Under The Radar

“Under The Radar” is a column for those treasures that might have somehow passed unknown, were it not for the fans and their emails alerting me to their favourite artists. In other words… keep those emails coming!
Today, for the inaugeral column, we’ll be featuring the – quite frankly – fantastic Nathaniel Hoho.

Nathaniel Hoho
Nathaniel Hoho (Image Credit: Rachel Leah)

Nathaniel Hoho is doing it the old-fashioned way, and paying his dues. Constantly gigging for pretty much two years now – packed in a tiny car with suitcases on the road – he’s spreading the good word about his tunes to anyone who will listen; and it’s obviously working, as evidenced by this post.

The first thing I noticed when I was exposed to Nathaniel’s music is the sheer versatility; not only as a songwriter, but also as a performer. As Nathaniel himself said:

“I’ve been playing music since I’ve been about 10 years old. As a musician I can always recreate who I am and how the world perceives me.”

Nathaniel has the type of voice that seems to be comfortable with whatever you can throw at it. Sometimes soft and tender; sometimes manic and desperate; there really is a strength to his voice that pulls you in and holds you. The songs themselves have a habit of sinking deep under your skin… the more you listen to them, the more they connect, slowly but surely becoming “must-haves” on your playlists.

I had some major troubles trying to decide on which songs of his to showcase in this post, as pretty much all of the ones I heard, I fell in love with. So eventually, I decided to settle on three songs; each very different in terms of style and feel, but with one common factor… they absolutely kickass. After getting in touch with Nathaniel, I asked him for a bit of a background on each of the songs…

Listen. Love. Support.

Nathaniel Hoho – Nightmares

The first song is Nathaniel’s “Nightmares”. Written in 2005, “Nightmares” has possibly my favourite progression of any of Nathaniel Hoho’s music that I’ve heard to date. I defy you to listen to this song and then not be humming that chorus later in the day. It truly is an infectious tune. In Nathaniel’s words:

Nightmares was written in 2005 . I lived with a photographer, screen writer and another musician at the time. People were always creating and the air was filled with inspiration and art. I couldn’t sleep so I rolled out of bed and started playing the progression on my guitar. I wrote down the first two verses and a chorus and went back to sleep. When I woke up i saw my note book lying beside me with the song written. I finished the song that day and it’s been a favorite of mine since […] That night I played it for a party of people. A cop showed up because the window was open. Everyone who was underage split. I was standing in the back letting the owner of the house resolve the issue… the officer said he wanted to talk to the kid that was playing the guitar… I walked out nervously. He
shook my hand and told me to keep up the good work that i had a great voice. Then he walked out the door and left. Talk about relief.

Listen: Nathaniel Hoho – Nightmares

Nathaniel Hoho & Rachel Leah – What’s On Your Mind?

Nathaniel Hoho and Rachel Leah
Nathaniel Hoho and Rachel Leah

The second song, “What’s On Your Mind?”, is a duet with Rachel Leah. A sultry song that hearkens back to smoky jazz clubs – the kind where the barman knows your name and choice of poison – there is a chemistry in this song that is impossible to ignore.
The first time I heard the tune, I thought to myself that Nathaniel and Rachel must have some history, at least. Chemistry like that you simply can’t fake, no matter how good you are at performing. So it was a pleasant surprise to learn that I was actually right…


Aside from being an amazing songwriter Rachel Leah is also my girlfriend.
I had been playing the progression and humming the melody over and over in my head. I wanted the song to reflect the early 1900’s , I thought it would be cool to base the lyrics off of what could be a scene in Citizen Kane. It was perfect… Rachel and I could each sing and tell a story through hearing our banter, just like a scene in a movie. I told her the idea and she was really excited… a few weeks later we sat down and wrote the song straight through. A few weeks from that point we made a video. The song has yet to be offically released and may just remain a B-side. For now we the song and video are available at both her and my myspace.

I sincerely hope that “What’s On Your Mind” gets an official release one day. A song as hot as this one needs to be heard. Tell me that you aren’t snapping your fingers when you listen to this.

Listen: Nathaniel Hoho – What’s On Your Mind? (with Rachel Leah)

Nathaniel Hoho – Sir William

The third and final song is again completely different to the previous two. “Sir William”, penned in 2006, sounds like a track that would be comfortable on a Fall Out Boy or Panic at the Disco release. An angry song, it’s one that I really connect with. So what was it inspired by?


Sir William was written in the Summer of ’06. I had been playing in a band, and they kicked me out. I was fighting with my girlfriend. That’s where the first two verses came from.

“Alexiandra, Queen of Freedom play me your piano song.
Criminal Cravings Creeping Conniving to get whatever you want.
You’re such a pretty girl.”

… being my girlfriend troubles and then…

“Sell me sir William, you can use us we are all just thieves at heart.
I once was chasing, now you’re trailing me along side of your gentle knights .
You’re such a lazy boy.”

I lived with the guy ( sir william)… I was in the band with him and two other guys. I took the band really seriously and was pretty worked up when they threw me out. It was my way of saying, “You’ll regret this. I’ll show you I’m going to do more with my music.
The rest of the song is a reflection of me feeling like they did something wrong and that what comes around goes around. I kind of masked this with the metaphor of a king and queen who treated their people badly and were then taken over and justice was served. “Freedom is Free”

Listen: Nathaniel Hoho – Sir William

Nathaniel Hoho
Nathaniel Hoho (credit Jess Davis)

So, what’s the “Under The Radar” wrap-up then? Well…

There are times in this gig when I hear a cat’s music, and I just know he’s going to go places. I get that feeling about Nathaniel Hoho. There’s a sincerity to his tunes that you don’t often hear these days. While it’s still early days for him – and I have no doubt that he’ll only continue to grow – I have a feeling that there’s still potential unleashed here. I’m not sure that he’s quite reached “that point” yet… but he’s certainly well on his way.

So I have no doubt that his songs will be given major releases one day. Major releases. Until that time, however, I’m happy to keep spreading the word about him one-by-one, the old-fashioned way.
After all, that’s the way it should be. Nathaniel Hoho is paying his dues. And, let’s be honest…. One day I’m going to be able to look back at this post, and say, “I told you so”.

Nathaniel’s debut EP, “Wait Until The Story Ends” is now available (check out the link for a list of retailers, and don’t forget to hear and download more of his songs at his Myspace page), and he’s currently working on his full-length debut album. Needless to say, I’m definitely going to be waiting for that with much anticipation.

2007 Releases 2008 releases artists artists to watch for in 2008 concerts digital downloads guitar live songs music music videos

Mr A to the Z and Friends… at the Tivoli.

So last night, I went to another show.

If I was to give you clues as to the show, I would probably say:

1) The performer absolutely wails on guitar.
2) The performer has probably the most pure voice you’ll ever hear. Able to leap and soar in ways uncommon in contemporary music.
3) The performer has some of the best grasp of wordplay this side of Speechwriters LLC.

Of course, by the third clue – and of course the title of the post – you would know that I’m talking about the one and only Jason Mraz. Last night, Jason performed at the Tivoli, along with opening acts Hayley Sales and Gregory Page. And man, was it a killer night.

Hayley Sales

Hayley Sales
Hayley Sales belted out and awesome set at the Tivoli in Brisbane

Hayley Sales opened up the night, at about 8pm. This was a tough slot, as most people there – me included – had not heard Hayley before, and a number of people seemed impatient to jump straight to Jason’s slot. So when Hayley started out with her first tune, the floor wasn’t exactly what you’d call packed. That all changed when her first chords struck out on the guitar.

(Aside: I have to apologise here. I didn’t manage to make notes for last night, as I did with my Jack Johnson recap, so I’m not 100% sure of the opening songs, or the order. I’m pretty sure that she started out with Jailcell Mind, but if anyone else was there feel free to correct me. Throughout this entire entry, I’m sure.)

Hayley has one of the most powerful voices I think I’ve heard in years. There’s a real versatility to it as well; one minute it can be a husky whisper, sexy as all hell… the next a powerful, intimidating force. She also has this really fun vibe up on stage; I think that while most people were a bit skeptical at first of this lone girl up on stage, after a few minutes under her sunny smile and contagious grooves, you couldn’t help but get into the joy of the set.

Hayley didn’t perform the entire set alone though. She called up Toca Rivera – the percussionist/singer from Jason’s band – to perform with her for about 3 or so songs. And she also called up Jason to finish the set, with an absolutely amazing performance of “Keep Driving“.

Hayley Sales, Jason Mraz and Toca Rivera - The Tivoli
Hayley, Jason and Toca perform “Keep Driving” at the Tivoli

(Aside #2: Excuse the “phone-camera” quality pictures. They look like that because… well… they were taken with a crappy phone).

The performance of “Keep Driving” had the entire crowd singing along. And anyone who was there will be able to attest to the fact that Hayley’s closing note, held with clarity and power, was undoubtedly one of the highest notes we’ve ever heard at the Tivoli. There was a shocked silence before outrageous clapping and cheering. Nice one Hayley.

Highlights? “Jailcell Mind”, simply because it took everyone by surprise. “Keep Driving”, for that stunning last note and great interplay between Jason and Hayley. And also the cracking tune, “Only What You Want“. All in all, a great set, and someone I’ll be sure to keep an eye on in the future.

Listen. Love. Support.

Listen: Hayley Sales – Only What You Want
Listen: Hayley Sales – Keep Driving

Gregory Page

Gregory Page - The Tivoli
Gregory Page performed perhaps one of my favourite sets at the Tivoli

Next up was Gregory Page. Now, unlike Hayley, I had actually heard of Gregory Page before. But I was unsure how his minimalist style would go down with this crowd. Gregory’s music is a strange creature; obviously there’s the well-known minimalist feel to it, but it’s a deceptive minimalism… there’s so much more going on under the surface that you sometimes feel you could drown in it.

I think some people were bewildered by Gregory, but these people were certainly in the minority, as there was a great feeling about his set. He opened with perhaps my favourite song of his, “Sleeping Dogs“. There’s a pain in this song that simply does not let you go, while at the same time an aching beauty to it. Sleeping Dogs was possibly my favourite song of the night, point-blank… all songs included.

“It’s so cold here, in my bed without my love
I cover my emotions, I’m half dead
And the hours laid as the memories still haunts me, and it’s tearing me apart
There are fireworks exploding in my heart”

– Gregory Page, “Sleeping Dogs”

Gregory Page and Jason Mraz at the Tivoli
Gregory Page and Jason Mraz at the Tivoli in Brisbane

Gregory also called Jason up for a tune. I learned later in the night that Gregory Page had actually given Jason Mraz his first break, when he invited Jason to open for him; and this long-time partnership was clear in their synergy that night. Truly, a great performance. There is a phone-quality vid of the performance; but I warn you: I include this here solely for those die-hard fans who need to see this kind of thing. The sound and picture quality is terrible, so skip this if you aren’t one of those die-hards. The song only actually begins in earnest around 1:00 in.

Highlights? Obviously the aforementioned “Sleeping Dogs”, and the stunning “Knife in My Chest“. While I’m sure that Gregory’s music is not for everyone, he certainly has a stalwart fan in me.

Listen. Love. Support.

Listen: Gregory Page – Sleeping Dogs
Listen: Gregory Page – Knife In My Chest

Jason Mraz

Jason Mraz
Jason Mraz performed to a great crowd at the Tivoli.

By the time Jason and the full band made it onto the stage, the crowd was absolutely rabid. Launching straight into a killer rendition of “Mr Curiosity“, Jason had them eating out of his hand from the get-go. The thing that always astounds me about Jason, apart from the stunning wordplay of course, is the clarity in his voice. There is a purity there that I find hard to give a comparison point; simply because there is no comparison. This is a voice that truly can fly at the drop of a hat. And it never gets any less amazing. And Jason showed it off in fine form with this song, slipping between operatic and playful towards the end. It really was a great way to start off the set.

Jason Mraz and band at The Tivoli in Brisbane
Jason Mraz and band at The Tivoli in Brisbane

About 3 songs in, Jason and band launched into “Cannabis College“, and of course the crowd exploded. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a live show where this song hasn’t had the entire joint jumping. Funniest point of the night? When the dude next to me leaned in to his mate – with about 30 seconds of the song left – and said to him: “This song is hilarious mate. It’s all about smoking weed!!“. Thank you, Captain Obvious, for the hilarity that ensued.
Of course, that excitement was only carried through when the obligatory, “The Remedy” made it’s appearance.

The rest of the set was, as usual, polished brilliance. From the tender rendition of “Love For A Child“, through to the duets with Hayley, and later Gregory, the night was a true conversation between artists and audience.

My friend managed to snag a few seconds of “Sleep All Day” on his phone… although it’s only 58 seconds of the song, I’ve included it below as the sound and image quality is far better than the clip I posted above; that, and also it’s simply a cracking tune that went down a storm on the night.

Again; highlights of the set? Tough to say, but if pushed I would say the following songs were standouts, for me at least:

“Mr Curiosity”, “Love For A Child”, “Tonight, Not Again“, “Sleep All Day”, “Live High” (which I posted a video of here), and the closer, “I’m Yours“, which also went into medley including Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds”, and it’s refrain of, “Don’t worry about a thing, ‘coz every little thing gonna be alright!”.

It certainly seemed that, at the end of the night, everyone agreed that everything was, in fact, more than alright. It was perfection. The only thing that I was hoping for, that never transpired, would have been a performance of “The Dream Life of Rand McNally“. But hey, you can’t have everything.

Thanks Jason and Co, for sharing the night with us. It was awesome being involved.

Listen: Jason Mraz – I’m Yours (live)
Listen: Jason Mraz – Dream Life of Rand McNally (live)

2007 Releases artists live songs music music videos

Yeasayer – No Need To Worry/Redcave… I was wrong.

I’ll admit it. I haven’t been a fan of Yeasayer at all. Don’t get me wrong, there’s definitely talent there; intelligent lyrics, great harmonies… I’m not denying that’s there. But, listening to their recorded material, it’s just always been too much for me. Those were my exact words: “Too much”.

So it was great to see that Vincent Moon, of the always impeccable La Blogotheque, had the same reaction. As he stated:

When I saw them in Brooklyn, Yeasayer puzzled me, weird outfit, gimmicks from the 80s, crazy flights, it was all too much. When I listened to the record, it was worst: I couldn’t bear the layers, synthesizers, exaggerated reverberation. That evening, I hardly regretted missing the show, despite the amazed faces of those who were leaving the venue.


However, as oft happens with La Blogotheque’s “Takeaway Shows“, seeing the band perform live and impromptu might just have changed my – and Vince’s – mind.
Take a look at the below video, of them performing “No Need To Worry” and “Redcave“. “No Need To Worry” – which only actually kicks in about 1:30 into the video – is, quite simply, sublime.

While the video’s included below, I would really suggest you click through on the link above, to read Vincent Moon’s – he’s the director of the music video – account of the night. It’s inspiring. There’s also a second video there, with a stunning performance of their track “2080“.

I’m not about to buy any of Yeasayer’s albums. At least, not just yet. But this has certainly changed my view of them.


2003 releases 2005 releases 2007 Releases 2008 releases artists concerts digital downloads guitar live songs music

Jack Johnson and Friends… at the Brisbane Riverstage.

As mentioned yesterday, on Sunday I headed across to the Brisbane Riverstage, for an evening with Jack Johnson, Matt Costa, and Will Conner. And – despite my longtime love affair with Jack Johnson, and my (extremely) tenuous connection with him via my friend Farryl Purkiss (Farryl and Jack once composed a song together, a fact that all of us local musos took pride in repeating… every chance we got) – this was to be my first time actually seeing him perform live.

Well, ok, that’s not strictly true. I had seen him perform live once before, with Ben Harper on his “Both Sides of the Gun” tour of 2007. In fact, it was at the very same stage, the Brisbane Riverstage. Jack was invited on stage to join Ben for a song, and, while for the life of me I can’t remember which tune it was now, I’m fairly certain it was for their rendition of “High Tide or Low Tide”. However, this was to be my first time watching him perform his own set, at his own concert. And I was certainly not disappointed.

There’s a lot to get through from the night, so I’ll just jump right in…

Will Conner and David Rastovich

Will Conner
Local boy Will Conner definitely impressed…

“We don’t need more stuff,
Just need each other and that’s enough”

– Will Conner, “Stuff”

As the sun started setting over the Riverstage, the first act came onto stage: Will Conner and David Rastovich. While I’d heard “Rasta” before, this was my first time hearing Will Conner, and I was really impressed. A local boy – well, Byron Bay local, anyway – I was surprised that I hadn’t heard much about Will before. I mean, he’s also apparently toured with one of my absolute musical crushes, Tristan Prettyman, so it really was surprising.
Will’s tunes are pretty much what you would expect for an opening act for Jack. Laid-back, coastal tunes, which are extremely easy to groove to. Underneath, there’s a strong eco-conservation focus – in fact, this was true throughout the entire night – that was perfectly complemented by Will’s plaintive voice and Rasta’s awesome percussion. On that note, David Rastovich plays some of the best “cheek percussion” I’ve ever heard. Seriously.

Crowd at the Brisbane Riverstage
Crowd at the Brisbane Riverstage, as the sun was setting

“Is it easy to change the world?
Where do we sign up, to help change the world?”

– Will Conner, “Herd”

Perhaps the highlight of the set, for me at least, was Will’s tune, “Home”, describing Byron Bay. It’s a song that simply gets in your head. With it’s refrain of “Home is where I started from/And home is where I wanna be when I get old”, and imagery that I could really relate to, I was sold on this talent. While the recorded version has a fairly tame harmonica solo, in the live version Will was blowing an absolutely mean harp. Here’s to hearing more of this from Will.

Jack Johnson, Dave Rastovich & Will Conner
Dave Rastovich, Will Conner & Jack Johnson

Another high point of the set was when Jack Johnson was called up on stage to join both Will and David Rastovich for a medley of “Plastic Jesus” and “ Fall Line”. I was disappointed that they didn’t go into “Spring Wind”, as I was expecting, but it was still a great moment. The three seemed to have a real synergy up on stage, which was absolutely awesome to witness.

Below, the song, “Home”, by Will Conner. Listen. Love. Support.

Listen: Will Conner – Home

Matt Costa

Matt Costa
Matt Costa performed an incendiary set at the Riverstage

Next up on the bill was Matt Costa. Now, I’ve been a big fan of Matt Costa since the days I first heard his EP with “Astaire” on it, back in (I think) 2003, so I was pretty excited to see him perform live, as it was another first for me.
I think the one thing I was most surprised by was the absolute abandon with which Matt seems to play. From the first song, “Yellow Taxi”, with those opening lines of “Can you spare some conversation?” you could tell that the night with Matt was going to be interesting.
I don’t know what it was, but there seemed to be an underlying anger behind his performance on Sunday night. Sure, it was tempered in some songs – most notably in his performance of “Astaire”, which was as tender a rendition than I’ve ever heard – but the remainder seemed full with an energy that I didn’t expect from Matt.

“You gave me your word
Then you flew like a bird
Never looking back”

– Matt Costa, “Ballad of Miss Kate”

One song where this was most visible – and most welcome – was an absolutely incendiary version of “Ballad of Miss Kate”. Performed with more force than I’d heard before, the song was certainly a major highlight of the night for me, and I’ll remember it for a long time to come.

Following that was “Mr Pitiful”, which the crowd went absolutely crazy for. With Matt at the keyboard, jiving around as he pounded out the chords, he had thousands of people eating out of his hand, and clamouring for more. And rightly so. It’s a killer tune, and if the conversation around me was anything to go by, certainly gained Matt a lot of new supporters that night.
Next up? “Behind the Moon”. I can’t say much here. It was the one song (apart from “Astaire”) that I was really, truly praying he would play. He did. And it was everything I’d hoped for. Absolute bliss on my part. The problem was, it was so much bliss, I kind of blessed out after that, so the rest of the set passed in a blur for me.
I can say that, while I wasn’t previously a fan of “Cigarette Eyes”, I am now. “Lilacs” also was a cracking tune, and the closing song, “Emergency Call” went down extremely well, with more than a few people in the crowd yelling out “Doctor!” along with Matt… a perfect way to close a stellar set.

Matt Costa
Matt Costa on the Brisbane Riverstage

I was torn on which song to include for Matt, but ended up deciding upon “Ballad of Miss Kate”, from his “Elasmosaurus” EP. Listen. Love. Support.

Listen: Listen: Matt Costa – Ballad of Miss Kate

Traditional Blessing

Traditional Blessing
Before Jack came on, there was a traditional blessing of the concert.

After Matt’s set, and before Jack came on, there was the traditional blessing of the concert by a representative of the original aboriginal owners. I’ve been to countless concerts at the Riverstage before, but it was the first time I had seen this take place, and I thought was a great sign of Jack’s respect towards the land’s traditional owners.
The speech went on for a while, and there were a few concert-goers that complained at first; but after a while and everyone settled down, it became a really great experience. People were celebrating the diversity of the land, but also paying tribute to the tradition; and it set a great atmosphere for Jack to enter…

Jack Johnson

Jack Johnson
Jack Johnson performed to a sell-out crowd at the Brisbane Riverstage.

After much – and I mean, much clamouring from the crowd… these guys were rabid – Jack Johnson came on to a roar of screams that were picked up by the stage microphones and broadcast around the arena. I almost felt like I was at some kind of boy-band concert… it was that kind of squeal. Responding with a casual grin and shrug, Jack and Co. launched right into a tune from the new “Sleep through the Static” album, “Hope”. I thought that the tune would be an interesting indicator of the night ahead; the reception to the new album in Australia so far has been fairly mixed. The supposed “older” crowd of fans seem to hanker for the Jack of old, while there is a whole new crowd of fans who have been attracted to the music.

There shouldn’t have been a question in my mind.

The crowd absolutely erupted. And you knew it was going to be a great night. There was a girl in front of me with “Your shadow walks faster than you” plastered all over her arms in permanent marker, and I honestly thought she was going to start hyperventilating when those first chords rang out.
As if reading my earlier thoughts, instead of continuing with another track from the new album, the band then went straight into “The Horizon has been defeated”, from the “On and On” album. And on this track, I managed to see what I had been hoping we would be privy to…

Zach’s chicken dance. And man, was he on fine chicken dance form that night.

Jackie J
Jack, Adam, Merlo and Zach on the Brisbane Riverstage

After a great performance of “Staple it Together”, the song “Sitting, Waiting, Wishing” had the crowd screaming out the lyrics along with Jack, and it was a great feeling. In all of the live performances I’ve seen of Jack captured on video, he always seems to have the same reaction: an incredulous shake of the head, a little joyous laugh, and then picking it back up again. And it was great to be a part of that.

After that, it was back onto the new material: the single, “Sleep through the Static”, and then the song “Go On”, which Jack mentioned he had actually written on a previous plane trip to Australia… which of course the crowd responded to. “Go On” is a tune that I really like. The bass line, the melody, and obviously the lyrics… they all combine to create this really powerful, uplifting track about letting go, and it’s one that I’m sure will stand the test of time when it comes to Jack’s track record in the future.

After that it was back to the older stuff; “Taylor” which – as always – had the crowd surging and grooving; “Bubble Toes”, and then “Wasting Time”, which was one of the highlights of the night for me. There was a real conversation going on between the band and the crowd, and it really felt as if everyone knew it.

After that Jack invited Matt Costa and his guitarist, Mitchell Townsend back onto stage for “Let It Be Sung”, which appears on the “Brokedown Melody” soundtrack. Really, this should have been obvious, considering that Zach, Jack and Matt were all together, but for some reason it hadn’t occurred to me. Needless to say, it was awesome. A lot of people have told me that they’ve struggled to find this song, so I’ve included it below.

After a Jane’s addiction cover (sorry, I’m not sure of the song’s title… if anyone else was there and knows, then drop a comment below), the band moved into “What You Thought You Need”, which Jack coupled with a very funny story about translation problems. Suffice to say, if a French speaking friend hadn’t stepped in, this song about Jack travelling in a van through Europe with his wife might have included a line claiming that a well-known “transvestite forest” held all the answers that Jack and his wife needed. Personally, I thought that would have been pretty cool, but each to their own. Heh.

Banana pancakes. Man, Zach excelled himself on this, his own song, not only in the absolutely killer accordian playing, but also in the dancing. The guy has this incredible energy about him that you simply cannot help but like; as if he’s the best friend you just haven’t met yet. So thanks, Zach, for giving that to us.

Jack Johnson & Co.
Jack Johnson & Co.

After “Banana Pancakes”, it was back to a new tune, with “Same Girl”, and then another trip back to the previous album with “Breakdown”. “Breakdown” was another song, much like “Sitting, Waiting, Wishing”, where the crowd almost drowned out the band with it’s singing.
Following that, there was a barrage of songs played, without much chatting between songs. The songs that followed were, “Good People”, “Monsoon”, “Mudfootball” (can I get a “hell yeah!”?), and “Flake” (again, another hell yeah. No matter how many times I’ve heard that song over the years, I needed to hear it live. And it was awesome). The final song, at least for the band as a whole, was the current single being played in Australia, “If I had eyes”… and the fact it was currently receiving a lot of airplay showed.
As Adam, Merlo, Zach and Jack raised their hands in goodbye, there was a real feeling of accomplishment in the air; and it was as if it had been accomplished together. And that’s always a sign of a great concert.

Jackie J & Co closing the set
Jackie J & Co closing the set

After the lights dimmed, and the obligatory “encore period” had elapsed, Jack came back on stage, solo, for an encore to close the show. With the backdrop changing to a “starry night”, Jack launched into a solo rendition of the first song off the new CD, “All at Once”. This song is easily my favourite off the new album. There’s just something that recalls the song, “It’s All Understood” to me. I mean, I have no idea why that is, and I can’t explain it at all, but it does. But I absolutely loved that song, so take it as a good thing.
After that was the bonus track off “Sleep Through The Static”, “Home”. I’m not a huge fan of this song, but my girlfriend is, and seeing as she was the one who managed to score us tickets, I was happy as a pig in mud with the choice.
Jack prefaced the next song by explaining that recently his son had asked him why everyone has a “mommy and daddy”. And Jack started to explain how a “mommy and daddy” have to create a child together. And when his kid, like all kids, pressed for more, Jack ended up spinning a long, nervous yarn about how we “multiply”.

“You’ve got to be careful when you’ve got good love,
‘Coz them angels will just keep on multiplying”

– Jack Johnson, “Angel”

And, as he said, really that’s what the song is about. Love and multiplication. The tenderness with which this song was performed had the crowd silent. And I mean silent. I’ve never heard that many thousands of breaths being held. But they were.

And then it was time to end. And what song did Jack end with? Another song for all the lovers out there, “Better Together”. It was a great song to cap off a great night, and a really positive feeling around the crowd.

Listen: Jack Johnson, Matt Costa and Zach Gill – Let it be Sung
Listen: Jack Johnson – All At Once

And that was it. So, for those keeping count out there, here’s the setlist:

  • Hope
  • Horizon has been defeated
  • Staple it together
  • Sitting, Waiting, Wishing
  • Sleep through the static
  • Go on
  • Taylor
  • Bubble Toes
  • Wasting Time
  • Let it be sung
  • Jane’s Addiction cover?
  • What you thought you need
  • Banana Pancakes
  • Same girl
  • Breakdown
  • Good people
  • Monsoon
  • Mudfootball
  • Flake
  • If I had eyes


  • All at once
  • Home
  • Angel
  • Better together

All in all, it was an amazing night.
Will Conner and David Rastovich definitely started it off on a great note (heh, no pun intended), and Matt Costa and band carried that through. And then Jack and Co themselves… well, I think that in terms of my reaction to the night, they were labouring under a huge amount of pressure. After all, the problem with being a fan of a musician for years, yet never managing to see them live, is that the expectations are raised higher and higher, for years on end. The one quibble that I suppose I might have with the night, is that it might have been too polished. When Jack and Co were up there, it was as if you were listening to the CD. Which is great, but at a live concert you’re also hoping to see a bit more adaptation… a bit more jamming, really. But again, that might be those damn lofty expectations again.

So, that said, did they meet those expectations? Hell no.

They passed them.

2003 releases 2007 Releases 2008 releases artists artists to watch for in 2008 digital downloads guitar music

Tuesday Trio – BARR, The Broderick & The Low Life

So, it’s Tuesday, and we all know what that means… time for another Tuesday Trio! A bit of a mixed bag this week, we have a not-so-new song, a new release, and an old song. Why? Because I roll that way, and it’s what I’m listening to this morning.

So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the tracks:

BARR – Untitled.

BARR - Untitled
BARR – Untitled

Now, I know I’m going to get crucified for this, but believe it or not, I just stumbled across BARR in the last few days. I’m not quite sure how he’s managed to escape my radar until now, but I’m glad that that’s been rectified. Brendan Fowler (aka BARR), releases what are ostensibly spoken word tracks, over looped instrumentation. For some reason, he brings to mind – for me, at least – a mixture of Mike Skinner and Ben Folds.
This track, “Untitled“, is taken from his 2007 “Summary” album, which is an intensely personal experience. “Summary” seems an apt title; filled with pain, redemption, and utlimately realisation, the album really does seem a “summary” of the human experience.

You say that you wondered about the darker place
And I think we all do
But you’ve wandered too far
And it has you
– Barr, “Untitled”

“Untitled” is depressing, and redemptive all at once. Dealing with a suicidal friend, it’s a song about fighting to hold on; and sometimes, fighting for other people.

Listen: BARR – Untitled

The Broderick – Bells

The Broderick - Bells
The Broderick – Bells

I’m not sure what it is about this tune that resonates with me. Perhaps it’s the slightly “Stranglers-esque” feeling to it; perhaps it’s the unsettling, disjointed tune. Or perhaps it’s the fact that four guys, all under 21, could produce such a complete, mature sound.
Whatever it is, the song is playing pretty much constantly the last few days. I’m not sure it will be for everyone, but I certainly think that The Broderick are a band to watch out for.

Listen: The Broderick – Bells

The Low Life – Fiona

The Low Life - Fiona
The Low Life – Fiona

You know, a few years ago (before I grew up and got a “real job”), I used to work at a video store. And it was an awesome gig. One of the best parts was that I could pump whatever music I wanted, as loud as I wanted. And a lot of people actually started liking the playlists I was spinning. I still remember when a guy first heard “Choir Vandals“, by Ben Gibbard, over the store’s speaker system. He put down all the DVD’s, walked over to the counter, and just listened. Afterwards, he looked up at me and smiled. I could tell he was hooked. Actually, I think I might need to put up a “Video Store Music” post one day.

Anyway, what that was, was an extremely long preamble to the fact that this song, “Fiona”, by The Low Life, always used to put a smile on people’s faces when they walked in. The track, off their 2003 release, “Thixotropic”, exemplifies the bouncy tunes and engaging lyrics that made them one of my all-time greats. Lead singer Evan Bliss just had this truly great voice that connected with the breezy reggae beats in a way that I hadn’t heard since the heady Bradley Nowell days.

Unfortunately the band went their separate ways a few years ago… but I’m feeling nostalgic today, so here you go…

Listen: The Low Life – Fiona

2007 Releases artists artists to watch for in 2008 digital downloads guitar music music videos

Bon Iver – The Wolves (Act I & II)

There’s a new Bon Iver video out, and it’s story is – quite frankly – inspiring. First, I think I should note that my love for all things Justin Vernon (aka Bon Iver) related is no secret. The guy’s voice, phrasing, and touching lyrics were some of the best that I heard in 2007. So it was with much excitement that I heard about a new video being released, for the outstanding song, “The Wolves (Act I & II). What I wasn’t prepared for, however, was the backstory to it.

The video for the song (which can be found on the album, “For Emma, Forever Ago“) was directed by Matt Amato, and filmed on location in Fall Creek, Wisconsin. I think the video description says it best, so I’ll let those words to the talking:

This is by any description, a project that almost never happened. Rushing to get to Wisconsin for fresh snows and still frozen air, Director Matt Amato arrived in Eau Claire, hometown of Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, in late January. In the midst of warming up after a long journey and excitedly telling Justin about all the projects he had on the horizon, Matt received a phone call. One of his best friends had suddenly and tragically passed away. All logic and reason were thrown out. Nobody knew what to do. Matt didn’t know whether to stay or go, or how he would even manage to get back to the airport in his state of shock. Justin just tried to stay calm. Between a flurry of phone calls and attempting to contact some of Matt’s family to accompany him home, night fell. Almost by default, Matt remained in Eau Claire in the company of his newest acquaintance. Something about it was safe, and that was enough. The next morning, Matt read the lyrics to “The Wolves” and felt as if those were the exact words he needed to hear from his departed friend. That pretty much sealed it. Matt would stay and work, even as the thought of making a video became the last thing on their minds. They built a bonfire and just let it burn all day and into the night, and Matt filmed. The weight of the circumstances propelled the collaboration to a place these sort of projects don’t often go. The cathartic spirit of Bon Iver’s music had found its kindred spirit in imagery.

Now, let me be clear here: the video itself is amazing, and would stand as a great piece on it’s own, regardless of the story behind it’s creation. That said, the history behind it communicates the power that Bon Iver’s music has; it truly is a cathartic experience, and one that becomes shockingly personal to each person who listens to it.

The songs may become a different experience in your head than it is in mine, but to each person who hears it, it’s a unique, beautiful, fragile – and still, conversely – strong, masterpiece.

It’s music. And it’s beautiful.

Below the video, and below that, the song in audio format.

Listen. Love. Support. And stay strong.

Listen: Bon Iver – The Wolves (Act I & II)

2007 Releases artists artists to watch for in 2008 digital downloads music

Julian Velard – Jimmy Dean and Steve McQueen & A Dream

Julian Velard
Julian Velard

You know, I came across Julian Velard very late in the game; in fact, it was only through a passing comment a few months ago by Alex Dezen of The Damnwells that I learned of his name. Of course, anyone who knows of my love for all things Damnwells-related wouldn’t be surprised to know that I headed straight over to Julian’s site, to see what the fuss was all about.
I certainly wasn’t disappointed.

Julian Velard has one of the most enticing voices I’ve ever heard, with a sound that is difficult to pigeonhole. Not only is there a jazz slant (Velard trained as a jazz pianist under Kirk Lightsey), there is also a strong pop-rock feel there. The more tracks you listen to of Julian Velard’s, in fact, the more you begin to think that this guy could do… well, pretty much anything he wanted to, really.

“Believe in the little demons
’cause I know they believe in you”.

– Julian Velard, “Little Demons”

Velard, like Alex Dezen, a New York boy, seems to draw much inspiration from Americana when it comes to his lyrics.Nowhere is this more apparent than in the track below, “Jimmy Dean and Steve McQueen“. Once you get past the desperately cheesy Grease-like screeching tyre opening, you’re left with one of the catchiest, most upbeat songs about mourning the way things have turned out that I’ve ever heard.

The second track, “A Dream“, breaks me everytime I hear it. Who else can honestly say they haven’t had a dream like that?

Last night I had a dream I was dead
Somebody shot an arrow through my head
They were aiming at the apple
But I guess that they missed
Couldn’t help be reminded
Of the first time we kissed

– Julian Velard, “A Dream”

Listen. Love. Support.

Listen: Julian Velard – Jimmy Dean and Steve McQueen
Listen: Julian Velard – A Dream

While Julian’s certainly been around more than a while, I think 2008 might just be his year, as he’s finally been picked up by a major label, EMI (the UK branch, of all places). Add this one to your “Artist to watch for in 2008”.

2007 Releases artists digital downloads guitar live songs music

The National – Slow Show (live on Fair Game)

Just a quickie post today; but thought I would delight you all with another offering from The National.

Despite the constant blogosphere hype about this group (which seems to have been going on for years now) that plagues them, The National continues to deliver on their initial promise.

The National - Slow Show
The National performed “Slow Show” live on “Fair Game”


They recently appeared on PRI’s “Live on Fair Game” show, and performed four tracks live in studio: “Fake Empire,” “Slow Show,” “Start A War,” and “You’ve Done It Again Virginia”.

The track I’ve included below is the haunting “Slow Show”.

I wanna hurry home to you
put on a slow, dumb show for you
and crack you up

Matt Berninger’s voice? Man, it still gets me every time. With such a distinctive tone, you might think it’s efficacy may wear off in time; you’d be wrong.

To hear the other tracks (and more releases from Fair Game), head here.

Listen: The National – Slow Show (live on Fair Game)

I know, I know, this is short. But hey, with a cracking tune like that I couldn’t let it slip by. Regular posting will resume once things quieten down at work.

Tomorrow? A band I love has reformed. And my thoughts…