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Sunday, 22 September 2013

I Miss Michael Paynter.

There I said it. I miss Michael Paynter.

For those of you who don't know, Michael Paynter is an Australian singer, musician/multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, producer, all-round awesome human... And that still doesn't sum up the talent that this guy has!

Me with the lovely Michael Paynter at
The Deluxe Sessions in 2008.
Michael has been an enduring musical favourite of mine since my cousin took me to see a Shannon Noll show in 2008, and Michael was the support act. I was absolutely taken by this guy who could sing and play, and man could he sing! Since then, the only other chance I got to see MP perform was at The Deluxe Sessions - a special, intimate, rehearsal-space gig - because I wasn't old enough to attend any of his other shows. But now I'm 18, and Michael has been missing.

His stint on The Voice saw him reach audiences who had never experienced the MP magic, and I was so glad that he was reaching wider audiences. He was let go from the show far too early, (don't even get me started on that), but while all the other contestants are releasing music, MP (humble as he is) is helping up-and-coming artists to fulfil their dream of musical success on the big stage.

I have days when I play his back catalog and reminisce and remember why I love his music so much. My friends will tell you just how much! His music is just...uplifting. It tells a story. It has heart. Yes, it is unashamedly commercial pop, but it's REAL. It doesn't tell stories about getting drunk and getting with someone, it tells of overcoming hardship, of dealing with heartache and of taking chances. And yes, the music and MP himself have evolved, but everyone does over time.
I miss spending hours replaying a song like novocaine on YouTube, just so I could learn to play it and sing it myself, (and show my parents, my friends, and my school just how amazing this music is). I miss his hilarious vlogs and amazing one-take covers that were truly phenomenal.

(One of Michael's phenomenal covers).
It's not often that you find an artist that really resonates with you. I listen to so much music - I adore the stuff! - but I keep coming back to Michael Paynter. With lyrics like "There's a moment when we all, have to choose to fly or fall, here's yours," and "Before you go let me know if you're happy pretending, before you leave make believe that you know who you are," it's hard not to!

('Praying For Rain' - an original song).
It frustrates me that we have talented people like this in our own country, but can't give them the support they need and deserve. I want great things for all these striving, talented people!

So, Michael if you're reading this, your fans (and there are a lot of us!) "won't run away... We're all a little broken, hoping, to get closer."

Beth. x

Check out Michael here:

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Beach Snaps.

I recently got to spend some time at the lovely beach town of Barwon Heads.  The weather was lovely, so I dusted off my old faithful Canon 550D and headed towards the beach.
Here are some of the many photos that I took:

I love capturing sunlight and working with interesting light.

I also love photographing different textures... And this wooden wall definitely caught my eye!

And a shadow seflie never goes astray!

So although it's currently the middle of Winter here, I got to make the most of the gorgeous weather and amazing scenery to wile away a few hours. 

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Glass Towers brings Halcyon Days.

The long awaited debut LP from Sydney band Glass Towers has finally reached the ears of eager listeners, and it does not disappoint.  Halcyon Days combines the catchy drum beats, great bass lines and screaming guitars that Glass Towers has become known for.  With three relatively successful singles being released prior to the record's release, the hype was well and truly there for this indie-rock LP.

The first track on the record "In This City," is a great start to the record.  It's full-on, fast-paced and foot-tapping, and definitely draws the listener in.  The chorus has great vocal harmony lines, and the track ends with the stereotypical abrupt Glass Towers ending.

"Castles" has a sense of urgency to it, and the fast drum beat gives it a more punk feel.  This track also includes the squealing guitars that are scattered through most of the songs on this album.

"Jumanji" was the first single released off this album back in February 2012.  This track has a more tribal feel - reminiscent of Jinja Safari - during the verses, but packs a punch in the chorus, with a call-and-answer style vocal.  It's one of the less layered songs on the record, but it works really well.

"Tonight" was the second single released off the album, and is one of the standouts on this record. It's just so unbelievably catchy; it gets you in in a second.  The guitar riff, the bass line and the melody will be in your head for days without you getting sick of them.  The lyrical content is also really relatable.  This song is sing-a-long material, perfect for belting out as you're driving along.  For me, this was the song that alerted me to the amazing music of Glass Towers,  I found myself singing along whilst driving, and knew these guys were worth listening to over and over.

"Gloom" is slightly different to the rest of the tracks on the album.  It has a more dreamy style, with just the right amount of vocal editing, almost reminiscent of Tame Impala. 

Another standout off the record is "Halcyon." As the single released immediately prior to the record, it really does set the tone for what's in store on Halcyon Days.  Again, it has a lovely bass line, catchy drums and some great falsetto.  What makes this song stand out though, is the use of pauses and silence throughout the song, it just adds an extra element that keeps the listener on their toes.  But overall it's just a lovely fun indie rock track to sing a long to.

Glass Towers bring a more moody tone to the record with "Lust For Life."  This track has an almost Panic At The Disco! vibe, both vocal and musical wise.

"You're Better" brings the pace down a bit.  The instrumentation isn't as full on, but in a good way.  That is until you hit the chorus, which brings a soundscape of noise.

"Griffin" runs along the same lines as "Tonight," and is everything that Glass Towers is known for: fast drums, catchy guitar riffs sing-a-long chorus.  The vocal on this is also really interesting with lots of interval jumps throughout the song.

The second last track on the record, "Best Of Friends" hits you with drums as soon as it starts, and draws you in.  This drum and bass heavy song also has great lyrics.

The final track on the record, "Foreign Time" is a slower more reflective track, with deeper lyrics than the more acoustic sound lets on.  There are also some lovely piano lines throughout the song.  A perfect choice for the closing track.

Glass Towers have really carved out a great representation of themselves with this record.  They show influences from many people, but their own style shines through.  The fast drum beats of Daniel Muszynski, catchy bass lines of Cameron Holdstock and squealing guitars of Sam Speck are present throughout, as are the lovely (and at times haunting) vocals of Ben Hannam.  

Halcyon Days is a record that has captures your attention in seconds and has you listening for hours.  These guys are definitely ones to keep an eye on.

You can stream/buy Halcyon Days here:

You can find Glass Towers here:

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

The wonder of Woodlock.

I've been lucky enough to stumble upon the lovely boys from Woodlock performing twice while I've been in Melbourne, and both times they've had huge crowds.  No other busker in the busy Bourke Street mall could compete with the quietly confident boys from Woodlock, who thanked each person who bought their EP mid song, as well as warning the crowd to move off the tram tracks when there was a tram coming.  They let their music do the talking, and it speaks to so many people; I saw the very young and the very old enjoying every moment of the music.

With melodies and harmonies similar to that of Mumford and Sons and falsetto reminiscent of The Temper Trap, they are certainly a band to watch!  Their set contains many originals that you will be humming all day long as well as covers of some of the biggest songs at the moment.  Many bands wouldn't dare cover songs like "Resolution" by Matt Corby, "Get Lucky" by Daft Punk or "Don't You Worry Child" by Swedish House Mafia, but Eze and Zech Walters and Bowen Purcell do so with ease, reinvigorating these songs with their indie folk vibe.

Their live performance is like no other.  First of all there is a drum setup like none I've ever seen before, but also you can just see the joy on all of their faces, and that makes you love their music as much as they love it.  It seemed people only had to listen for a couple of minutes before they bought an EP, proof that they are good at what they do.  These guys aren't just buskers, they are musicians... No question about it.

The EP Lemons which features four folk/indie pop songs, has lovely melodies and harmonies, and really thoughtful lyrics. Even the title track "Lemons" which seems like just a fun song, is about "people who've gone sour" says Zech Walters.

For me, all the songs on the EP are great, easy to listen to and catchy, but the standout is "Lemons."  This track is just so infectious and joyous and the vocal loop that runs throughout the song is impossible to not sing for hours afterwards.  The drum beat, especially towards the end is also incredibly catchy, and live both Zech and Bowen play this part, which is quite exciting to see.

"The Last of Us," although slower than "Lemons" is such a beautiful song, with such lovely lyrics.  On the EP it also has a string arrangement to die for, and an instrumental passage which most bands don't do anymore.  It's the same with "Blood Brothers;" the lyrics tell a real story.

Eze Walters voice is reminiscent of that of Marcus Mumford from Mumford and Sons and Caleb Hodges of Art Of Sleeping, and combined with the more contemporary vocals of Zech, makes for beautiful harmonies.  And just when you thought they were talented enough, they swap from guitar to keyboards, to probably any other instrument you could name!  Bowen, with his crazy drum setup, has to be the most joyous drummer I've seen!  He honestly makes you happy, just by watching him.

These guys are beyond their years as far as storytelling and writing music is concerned, and are well worth a listen or hundred.

You can find them here:

Sunday, 23 June 2013

It's the small things.

As New Empire's song 'Imagination' goes: "Simply put I like all the simple things." And that is so true; sometimes it's the smallest things that will brighten up your day.

Here are some things, that make me instantly happy, because clearly I'm:

Small things that make a big difference:

  • Compliments from strangers.
  • When someone requests the song that you wanted to hear on the radio.
  • When a musician makes eye contact with you through the crowd at a gig... And no, you're not just imagining it.
  • When people actually help you in a (slightly scary) festival crowd.
  • Pretty coloured sunrises and sunsets.
  • The smell of rain.
  • Looking at the price-tag of something, and seeing that it's reduced.
  • A hot shower after a freezing day.
  • The moodiness of the sky during a storm.
  • When you get every green light when you're driving along.
Sometimes you've just got to sidestep the big picture for a moment, and seek joy in the most ordinary things.  Take time to appreciate the little joys in life, and then get back to the important stuff.

Friday, 12 April 2013

Albums That Lift My Mood.

           So I've just written an assignment for uni that has potentially fried my brain, so what is the first thing I reach for to remedy this?  Music, of course.  Music is something that I know can instantly lift my mood or help me to get over brain strain (as is the case at the moment!)  So I thought I'd introduce you to a few of my favourite albums.... Note few, I have so many LPs it's hard to choose favourites without leaving out something out!

Here goes, my brief list of favourite mood improving albums.

San Cisco - San Cisco

     The debut LP for the WA quartet starts off slow and melancholic with "Beach," but boy does it pack a punch when you get to songs like "Fred Astaire" and "No Friends," which have you bopping away without a care in the world.  The combination of Jordi and Scarlett's vocals make for lovely easy listening, and the catchy melodies have you singing in seconds.
     My personal favourites on the album would have to be the foot-tapping "No Friends" in the upbeat stakes and "Nepal" for lyrics and piano.  However all the songs are worth multiple listens.
      San Cisco's album is extra special - not just because it's signed by the lovely band themselves - but because I got to see them perform it live... Oh the nostalgia.

Motor Ace - Shoot This

   The oldest of my selections, "Shoot This" took a lot of work to find.  It's not online and CD's of it aren't printed anymore, and I was starting to lose hope.  That is until I walked into a second hand record  store one Spring afternoon... I struck gold!
    If you're after classic Aussie rock/alternative Motor Ace is your band, with classics like "Keeping Secrets," "Carry On," and "Ride The Wave" all on the one album, you're in for a great 50 minutes.  
     Favourites on this album, again, are many, but "Keeping Secrets" is definitely number one, purely for the many sing-a-longs it created in the car in the early 00's.  
   "It's the way I feel.  Speak up when you know that it's real."

New Empire - Symmetry 

    Another album of songs that really speak to you is "Symmetry" by the Sydney boys New Empire.  Hope and strength is a theme throughout, with songs varying from the pulsing "Train on Time" to the ballad that is "Ghosts" to the anthemic "Give Me The World."
    Again New Empire is a band I've seen live, and their performance is better than the album, if you can believe that!
     Favourite songs would have to be "Train On Time," "Tightrope" and "Give Me The World."  All for their amazing and melodies, which make them impossible to not sing along to!

Emma Louise - Vs Head Vs Heart

      "Vs Head Vs Heart" is the long awaited debut from Emma Louise, and I have to say it's worth the wait.  Soothing and soulful is how you'd describe it.  All the songs carry a theme of heartbreak or melancholia, but you'd never know if you just listened to the lovely melodies and Emma's voice caressing the notes.  While most of the album is fairly laid back, tracks like "Boy" and "Freedom" up the tempo a bit to a danceable pace.
       Favourites would have to be "Stainache" for it's beautiful piano, and "Freedom" for it's incredibly catchy chorus.

Gold Fields - Black Sun

     Last but not least is the infectious first album by Ballarat boys Gold Fields.  All I can say is that every song will have you nodding your head without you even realising.   Innovative use of tribal beats and harmonies make for an even more exciting experience.
     Favourites are definitely "You're Still Gone," "Meet My Friends," "Dark Again" and "Treehouse"... So most of the album basically.

So there you have it, some of my favourite albums.  Hope you can find some great new music!

Thursday, 7 March 2013

A Gig and a Half.

I flat out LOVE music; hearing it, playing it, seeing it, feeling it.  Consequently I love going to gigs - which, now that I'm eighteen, is a lot easier.  I've been to intimate "rehearsal space" gigs, I've seen bands play in theatres and cinemas, I've been to huge and small music festivals, I've witnessed bands light up a pub stage, I've even stood in a foot of mud to see a band play under a big top, but nothing can compare to the show I went to recently.  You could say I got a bit of a shock.

So, I was at Festival Hall... Which is a fairly large venue.  It was an all ages concert, and literally all age groups were covered in the congregation that arrived to see Ed Sheeran.  Waiting to get into the venue was overwhelming enough for me; for starters it was about 35 degrees, and with hundreds of excited girls and guys this made for an interesting atmosphere.  Once my friend and I got into the venue, we found a spot near the front to sit down for a while, waiting for the supports to start; that was fine.  However, once the intro music started for the first support act began...Madness ensued.  My friend and I were separated in seconds as anxious teens rampaged to get as close to the barrier as they could. (Keep in mind it was incredibly hot and there were hundreds of people in this room.)  People were pushing and shoving, and it was all getting a bit close and personal.  Now I've been to festivals before, so I can deal with a bit of pushing and shoving, and being a bit close for comfort with people I don't know, but this was different altogether... The only way to describe it was intense.  Even comparing this rampaging mosh pit group to a festival crowd is a bit of a stretch, because frankly, it was worse.

And then the music started.    The thing I was looking forward to, the whole reason I had made the trip, was beginning.  A lovely songstress by the name of Gabrielle Alpin began singing, but you couldn't really tell, because it seemed that three quarters of the punters in the venue were talking.  Now I can put up with a lot of things, but people talking while someone is performing is NOT one of them.  Honestly, how would you feel if you were on stage bearing your soul and people just talked the whole way through... Not cool.  Despite the trying conditions, Gabrielle was phenomenal.  By the end of the first support, it was starting to heat up, and people just kept getting closer and closer together.  Air was at a premium, and if you wanted water, well... that wasn't going to happen.  Passenger arrived on stage to a much more friendly welcome, and he seemed to command the audience more... Or they might have been saving their energy for Ed, (I'm not sure), but by the end of his set I had had enough hair flicked in my face, people shoving me backwards in order to get a better spot, and people talking through genuinely good music to last me for quite a while.

Long story short, I high-tailed it out of the mosh pit (before I passed out or vomited or both), and to be honest it was the best decision I made all night.  Not only could I still see the stage perfectly, (I happened to be taller than most of the people in the venue), I could hear and appreciate the music more because I wasn't worrying about starstruck teens.

Ed Sheeran, I have to say was absolutely stellar.  It was just him on the stage, but he captivated the audience.  He had them singing and dancing along, he made them quiet with a simple "shhhh," and at one point he had the crowd so quiet he was able to sing acapella with no microphone.  It was absolutely stunning.  I now have so much more respect for Ed as a performer after seeing him build backing tracks  - recording vocal/beat loops on an extra mic, using his guitar as a drum and bass - as he went, all while keeping the audience wanting more.  He literally had the audience smiling for the whole hour and a half he played for.  Honestly, a perfect end to an interesting night.  Despite the mildly shocking/overwhelming events that occurred earlier in the evening, I really enjoyed the whole show and all the performers were fantastic.

Monday, 25 February 2013

Things I Just Don't Understand.

Now, I like to think I'm a fairly intelligent individual - I know how to spell definitely, I can differentiate a quadratic equation if the need arises, and I can change a tyre if I have to - but sometimes life just throws things at you and you're left thinking "What just happened?" and shaking your head in disbelief.  So here is a small list of things that utterly confuse/irk me, by no means is this list exhaustive... But it's a start.

Beth's list of things that leave her utterly confused/mildly frustrated #1:

  1. When people post pictures with a caption such as "I'm ugly" or "#nomakeup."  Firstly, if you aren't happy with how you look in the picture, you don't have to click the upload button.  Simple as that.  With the whole "no make-up" thing... People have eyes, I'm pretty sure they would be able to tell if you're wearing make-up or not.  It just seems people who upload photos like this are fishing for compliments or reassurance - whether they know it or not - and it just confuses me that people are asking people they don't know that well (facebook friends, instagram followers etc.) for reassurance.  
  2. When people won't commit to something because they're waiting for the "better offer."  I mean, if you get invited somewhere and you say yes, bailing at the last minute because you got a better offer IS NOT ok.  At least give the first person the decency of giving them at least some notice that you can't come... Hours before the event, is a definite no no.  This actually happened to a friend of mine quite recently.  They had planned a whole birthday night out with a group of friends, and at least a third of the group said they couldn't make it ON THE DAY... No explanation  no "I'm so sorry," no "I'll get so-and-so to bring your card," nothing.  I just don't understand...
  3. When someone overtakes you when you're doing the speed limit. I mean I could understand if I was going slowly... Fair enough, but when I'm doing the speed limit... Well you're just impatient.  What confuses me even more is if I'm stuck behind someone who's going slowly and I'm being patient, waiting for the right moment to overtake, and someone who is behind me overtakes me and squishes themselves into the "safe gap" that I was leaving. Just, why?  You're not going to get there any quicker.  I just can't understand that.
  4. And last but not least, when people just talk AT you.  You can be avoiding all eye contact, not responding at all, not looking even remotely interested and they still continue to force their stories/views onto you.  It happens to me all the time... I must look like I care about often racist/sexist/unpopular views?
So there's a few of the things that just leave me shaking my head in confusion... I'm probably just being petty, but these things just get to me.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Disaster Etiquette 101.

So, I live in a small town that has just been affected by a pretty large bush fire. Now this bush fire has brought out the best in some people; I've heard of offers of food, accommodation, hygiene packs... You name it.  However, in this situation sometimes the worst in people rises to the surface; they do things not for the good of the whole community, but for the good of themselves.

The media is a good example of the villain in a situation like this.  Many people I know have had persistent calls from many media outlets, wanting their version of the story.  Some have even been quoted as saying something quite significant even though they denied to comment or denied they had any information when asked.  I myself had a call on my mobile from a journalist in Sydney - which is quite a long way away from here - asking for a local's perspective of how "hectic" it was during the fire.  When I refused to give any information, he asked me if I could give him the names of any firefighters who would be willing to comment.  First of all, I would love to know just how he came to be in possession of my mobile number - as well as many others who were called - secondly, people lost everything, it's not up to me to comment on how "hectic" it was and thirdly, most of the firefighters were fighting a fire at that point in time. When I mentioned that the firefighters were currently busy, the journalist seemed quite put out. How inconvenient of the firefighters, to be fighting a fire!

But it wasn't just the journalists who were in it for themselves, there were some residents who thought it was their time for fifteen minutes of fame.  These residents decided that - despite knowing nothing - to make up information to tell the information starved journalists.  Now that wouldn't be too bad, except the affected community and those in the wider districts then became quite distressed and worried because it seemed much worse than it was.  They start wondering, "Is it my house that has been destroyed?" "Are my relatives in the fire zone?" And it just generally ends very badly.  The best thing to do if you get hassled for information is to simply say "I don't know" or "I can't help you with that;" it would certainly save a lot of worrying.  In a disaster like this you don't need your fifteen minutes of fame.  Those that do need the praise are actually out there trying to avert or divert the crisis.

Another thing that ended badly was the community meeting.  The meeting itself was very informative, but the presence of the media vultures made for an uncomfortable morning.  The group of journalists, photographers and camera crews were hassling residents - who were clearly very distressed after losing homes and possessions - and wouldn't let up.  The worst case I saw was when a man who was burnt during the fire was trying to leave the meeting - and who was clearly distraught - had his car swarmed so he couldn't leave.  Not what you'd call a friendly interview.

As mentioned before it wasn't all bad.  Those that had lost so much during the fire had the shoulders and ears of their friends and fellow community members to turn to, and had an environment where they could just forget the tragedy for a little while.  It's amazing to see how much a community can band together after a situation like this.  And a time like this is a time where you give a friendly smile and a diplomatic view, not a  time to ask those who have been affected by the fire "how are you?," or "how much have you lost?"  And it's certainly not a time to crowd their car or chase them down for an interview when they clearly don't want to talk about it.