2009: The Year In News Pt 2
In the final installment of our news wrap up, we take a look at the biggest stories in the last half of 2009. Part one here.
Kingsmill Defends His Corner: In an interview with Tsunami magazine, the ever-diplomatic triple j music director took a fairly uncompromising swipe at his critics: “So anyone that criticises us for not playing them – just because they’re Australian, just because they’re independent: fuck you.”
As Day Follows Night, ARIA Follows Album: Indie-pop darling Sarah Blasko speaks to M+N about the recording of third album As Day Follows Night in Stockholm. “I feel that all the songs have a real life to them that goes beyond their circumstance,” she told Adam D Mills. Robert Forster agreed, stating in his new book that she was a shoe-in for an ARIA. He was right, with the singer waking away with Best Female honours at the awards in December.
Dead Travel Further: Sydney’s iconic M Squared label hosts a reunion show at the CAD Factory, featuring Scattered Order (playing for the first time since 1982), Makers Of The Dead Travel Fast and Cult Of the Hidden Nerve. An ambitious reissue program, which will see virtually every M Squared release out on both vinyl and CD, is also announced.
Old Dogs, New Tricks: Richard Lowenstein, the director of the classic post-punk movie Dogs In Space, premieres his new documentary at the Melbourne Film Festival. Featuring both new and archival footage, We’re Livin’ On Dog Food is a companion piece to the original movie, which finally saw a much-anticipated DVD release. In an interview with M+N, Lowenstein said he hoped viewers would come away from both films with “a taste of what it feels like when a subculture appears”.
Hold Hands Helps Out: An extraordinary collection of small labels – Chapter Music, Lost & Lonesome, Mistletone, Remote Control/Dot Dash, Sensory Projects, Two Bright Lakes and Unstable Ape - come together for the inaugural “Hold Hands!” festival at The Tote. More than $6500 is raised for community radio stations in Sydney and Melbourne.
The Stems Say Farewell: The original line-up of The Stems – Dom Mariani, Richard Lane, Julian Matthews and Dave Shaw – announce their final run of shows. “It’s time to finish up,” said singer/guitarist Dom Mariani of the band’s decision to quit. Photos of the band’s final Melbourne show here.
Grand ‘End’ To A Weird Adventure: A cryptic press release hints that Augie March’s current run of show across the country would be their last: “The Forum show [in Melbourne] will be a special opportunity for fans and band to say thanks for the memes and experience many of the great songs from Augie’s rich four-album canon in full nine-piece band glory.” In an interview with M+N, singer Glenn Richards later admits to feeling “bored and tired”.
Are You Gonna Be My Nurse?: Jet frontman Nic Cester collapses onstage in the UK, requiring two days of tests and hospitalisation for what is later described as “dehydration and severe low blood pressure”. His illness was temporary, and did not delay the release of the band’s third album, Shaka Rock, which we sorta liked: “It actually sounds like they’re having fun (as opposed to just approximating it like they’ve done in the past).”
R.I.P Dean Turner: “We’re absolutely devastated.” Magic Dirt echo many fans’ sentiments following the death of bass player and founding member Dean Turner from a rare form of deep tissue cancer, aged 37. Fans and friends quickly rally to hold tribute concerts for the benefit of Turner’s wife and two daughter. The Dirt will later hit the road for an emotional run of shows in tribute to Turner’s “hard working spirit”. Photos here.
European Salvo: Following the release of his fifth album, Soil Creatures, Paddy Mann takes a leap of faith and moves to Berlin with his girlfriend. It was a move made on a whim, with no work visa in hand, and only one show lined up. As far as we know, he’s still there, so things must have worked out.
Royal Headache, Meet Pitchfork: A song “about a girl” recorded on 1/4 tape gets added to Pitchfork’s influential “Forkcast” after an email from the website’s founder Ryan Schreiber to Royal Headache member Shortty. Before sending the track, the bemused drummer reportedly asked a friend: “Do you know Pitchfork?” The band later headlines the Melbourne leg of Flip Out.
The Eggo Has Landed: Between grapefruit cocktails and bite-sized salami pizette, M+N previews Wolfmother’s second LP Cosmic Egg at an “industry only” airing at Sing Sing Studios in Melbourne. We’re not enthused: “[Cosmic Egg] is little more than a foil for Andrew Stockdale’s guitar wank dreams.”
The Young And Very Restless: Nearly five years after they kicked and screamed their way out of Canberra, Young and Restless call it quits. The former Unearthed winners confirm the news in a MySpace missive: “In the last few weeks it has become clear that this is the end of the road for our band.”
Steele Collaborates With Jay-Z: In one of the most improbable pairings since Ryan Adams and Mandy Moore, Empire of the Sun’s Luke Steele appears on Jay-Z’s new album The Blueprint 3. Singing in heavily treated falsetto, Steele is virtually unrecognisable on first track ‘What We Talkin’ About’.
Blueprint For A Disaster: What begins as an innocent post by a naive newbie named “Azza” ends in tears as the brothers Gray – Tristan and Aaron – watch their plans for an all-Australian festival go up in smoke. The Blueprint Festival in Ararat, Victoria, left the pair with angry creditors and debts totaling almost half a million. The pair are still hiding “somewhere in regional Australia”.
What’s In A Name? The Ooga Boogas play Sydney’s inaugural Flip Out Festival as “The Doors” following a legal claim by a graphic design company over the use of their name. Normal transmission resumes when the band rightly decide to call the company’s bluff.
The Herd Say ‘No’ To Coal: Hip-hop collective The Herd pull out of Queensland’s Coal to Coast festival in protest against the coal industry, which sponsors the event. The band claim they were unaware of the sponsors before they agreed to play, while concert organisers reckon they bowed to misguided online pressure.
Security Laws Threaten Melbourne’s Live Scene: Inspectors from Liquor Licensing Victoria beginning dropping in on pubs to ensure that a draconian new law, which states that a security guard must be present at all gigs, is being followed. A letter is circulated describing the new law as an “ill-conceived and a poorly thought out response” that threatens the vibrancy of Melbourne’s live music scene.
Australia Goes Conference Crazy: More than 60 bands showcase at Brisbane’s Big Sound, an inaugural event styled on Austin’s South by Southwest. Meanwhile, A.H Cayley reports on the final AustralAsian Music Business Conference, a music industry talkfest that’s been running for the past 18 years. Her conclusion: the state of the industry isn’t “all that fucked”.
Triple J Farewells The ’Buckwit’: After 11 years in the hotseat Robbie Buck announces he’s leaving triple j for a position at ABC Radio National. His departure sparks an exodus, with Marieke Hardy and Scott Dooley following him out the exit door later in the year.
Hopetoun Shuts Indefinitely: Sydney’s music community is rocked by the sudden closure of the iconic Hoey. A letter circulated by director Evangelos Patakas said the venue needed to undertake “significant works” in accordance with local council requirements. Management later assured M+N that the venue would reopen after a “minimum of three months”, but word on the street is that it’ll stay shut for good. While we hope those rumours are wide of the mark, recent attempts to contact management have tellingly gone unanswered.
Go-Betweens Bridge The Gap In Brissie: An online poll unanimously votes to rename the Hale Street Link bridge in Brisbane’s south, the “Go Between Bridge”, in recognition of the state’s finest musical exports.
Rowland’s Triumphant Return: It may have been 10 years in the making, but we declare Rowland S Howard’s second solo album Pop Crimes “well worth the wait”. The album is promptly accorded “On Rotation” status and later tops M+N’s fourth annual “Critics Poll”. Howard launches the album at an unforgettable gig at the Prince of Wales in his spiritual home of St Kilda. Visibly ill and coughing blood by the end of the set, he still puts in one of the performances of the year. Sadly, it turns out to be his last (more below).
Cave Apologies For Being A Perv: Publicity Whore of the Year Award goes to Nick Cave, who issued a public apology to Kylie Minogue and Avril Lavigne for the crude sexual depictions of the pair in his book The Death Of Bunny Munro. “I would like to publicly apologise to both of them, especially Avril Lavigne,” Cave said in a press release simultaneously spruiking the seven-CD audio version of his book. The Death Of Bunny Munro is later nominated for a Bad Sex in Fiction award.
Newcastle’s Summit Of Sound: Australia’s artistic community descends on Newcastle for Sound Summit, a week-long talkfest and series of performances that probe the very foundations of Australia's underground (there’s a panel on “Lo-fi in a Digital Age”, for God’s sake). Jon Tjhia (of Aleks and The Ramps and ii fame) gives us all the gory details.
Golden Plains Named Australia’s Best: The Nolan family were on hand to accept the award for best festival at the Festival Awards in Sydney. The event – held annually in Meredith, Victoria – was voted first out of close to 250 nominees for the second year running. It also took home the award for best management and facilities.
Spiral Stairs Is One Of Us: Scott Kannberg (aka Spiral Stairs) from newly reformed ’90s icons Pavement declares he’s moving to Melbourne in an interview with The Age. He is expected to make the move next month ahead of his upcoming nuptials to Australian partner Sarah.
Melbourne Laneway Heads West: Organisers of the St Jerome’s Laneway Festival respond to last year’s debacle by moving the Melbourne leg of the festival to the Footscray Community Arts Centre. The decision pays off, with the event promptly selling out.
NSW Govt Cuts Live Music Red Tape: The NSW Government dismantles the oppressive Place Of Public Entertainment (POP) Licence, giving a timely boost to Sydney’s beleaguered live music scene. Under the old system, venues could not provide live entertainment without the licence, which carried expensive ongoing costs.
V Festival Future In Doubt: Michael Coppel Presents officially end their three-year association with the V Festival, throwing into doubt the festival’s future in Australia. It may, however, return under the auspices of another promoter, who will hopefully book better bands.
Return Of The Weed: Ahead of their Homebake triumph (see below), Tumbleweed’s original line-up play their first show together since 1996 at Waves in their hometown of Wollongong. While billed as a “warm-up”, the show attracts 1500 fans into the “cavernous nightclub”. M+N’s Kate Hennessy was there.
Dan Luscombe Hospitalised: The rigours of a seemingly non-stop touring schedule caught up with The Drones guitarist, who was struck down with pneumonia after a show in London. The band cancelled seven dates in total, but Luscombe managed to recover in time for All Tomorrow’s Parties’ 10th birthday party in the UK in December. Meanwhile, The Drones’ ‘Shark Fin Blues’ is voted “The Greatest Australian Song Ever” by a panel of musicians in jmag.
Last Drinks For Sydney’s Abercrombie: Organisers of long-running indie dance night Purple Sneakers are forced to find a new home after news that the Abercrombie would be redeveloped in mid-January. Hipsters across Sydney weep into their schooners.
Collette Continues Euro Exodus: Ned Collette decides to follow in the footsteps of The Devastations, HTRK, Sparkadia and most recently Grand Salvo by indefinitely relocating to Berlin. “The plan is at least all of next year and then see what happens,” he told M+N.
AIR Awards Dished Out Among Trays Of Jager: M+N gets stupidly pissed on Jagermeister at the AIR Awards in Melbourne, which yields gongs for The Drones, Philadelphia Grand Jury and C.W Stoneking. The Nation Blue’s Tom Lyngcoln bemuses everyone with a tongue-in-cheek acceptance speech. “You fuck one cow, everyone calls you a cow fucker,” he told the crowd. We’re still trying to work out what he meant.
Wagons Win Big At EG Awards: Wagons’ hard-gigging ethos pays off in spades, with the band taking home publically voted awards for Best Album and Best Group for their fourth LP, The Rise and Fall of Goodtown. The night also sees a one-off reformation by punk legends Painters and Dockers. Photographic evidence here.
Sando Owner Defends ‘Pay To Play’ Policy: After copping “all sorts of flak” from Sydney’s music community, the owner of the Sandringham Hotel vehemently defends the venue’s “pay to play” policy, saying that bands who can’t bring in the numbers, shouldn’t be playing gigs. Cue more flak.
Empire Strikes Back At ARIAs: Looking like an extra from David Lynch's Dune, Empire of The Sun’s Luke Steele collects four ARIA Awards on behalf of himself and cohort Nick Littlemore, who doesn’t attend. Meanwhile, Temper Trap, who cut a European tour short to jet back for the awards, leave empty handed. Echoing our armchair coverage of the Sound Relief benefit gigs, contributor A.H Cayley tweets the awards from her loungeroom.
Homebake Notches Up A Milestone: Tumbleweed steals the show as Homebake celebrates 15 years at The Domain in Sydney. Fifteen years earlier, the band had been bumped from headlining Homebake’s main stage due to disastrous weather.
Witch Hats Make Meredith Bow: An 11th hour withdrawal by San Diego’s Crocodiles paves the way for Witch Hats’ long-awaited debut at the Meredith Music Festival. The band doesn’t disappoint, delivering an “impressively tight and powerful set”. The event also sees a stirring performance by Eddy Current Suppression Ring, during which singer Brendan Suppression parts the crowd like Moses. Full report here.
Wagons Strike Again: The Melbourne country outfit poll first in the Best Live Act and Best Album categories in M+N’s fourth annual Readers Poll. Other winners include Nick Cave (Best Reissue), Rowland S Howard (Best Comeback) and St Helens (Best New-ish Act).
Ten Years Of Spooky: Acts including SixFtHick, The Bakelite Age, The Stabs and Digger and The Pussycats pay tribute to Melbourne label Spooky Records at its 10th birthday celebrations at The Tote. To commemorate the occasion, we take a walk down memory lane with founder Loki Lockwood.
R.I.P Rowland S Howard: The year ends on a sour note with the death of icon Rowland S Howard, who loses his battle with liver cancer aged 50. In a sad twist of fate, Howard had been enjoying one of the most fruitful periods of his career. “Sometimes people are ready to go because they have been sick for a long time, but Rowland really wanted to live,” bandmate Mick Harvey told The Age. Read our last interview with Howard here.