The Brag (Reviews)

The Brag

Matt Corby, Into the Flame EP

Into the Flame is an EP by Australian singer-songwriter, Matt Corby, released on November 11, 2011. He may have been a runner up on 2007’s Australian Idol, but rather than offer a flash-in-the-pan career based on his good looks and charm, this Sydneysider has stayed true to his heart. Having spent the last few years developing his sound overseas, he has triumphantly returned to Australia with his latest EP.

Produced by Tim Carr at Studios 301, this release is a move towards indie rock by the self-described folk singer. Into The Flame opens with ‘Brother’, which has experienced a meteoric rise in popularity (thanks to support from FBi 94.5 and triple j), and it’s still crack for the ears.

‘Soul A’Fire’ is a strong, whisky-soaked muddy blues ballad, and then there’s ‘Untitled’, a song with harmonies so gentle and lyrics so soulful it could easy pull the heartstrings of the toughest brickie. The angelic Bree Tranter (ex-The Middle East) lends keys to the whole album, and her haunting vocals on the beautiful ‘Big Eyes’ are perfectly matched to Matt’s own surprisingly powerful set of pipes.

This is the third release from Matt Corby, whose recent series of Secret Garden shows have connected his music with his fans in an intimate local setting – and in doing so have helped him build a cult following that will outlast all the Idol fanatics. Penning all the songs on Into The Flame (no karaoke here), Corby is proving himself to be a serious songwriter who is not afraid to take his listeners on a deeply personal journey.

Displaying maturity beyond his years, Matt Corby’s big vocals overflow with heartfelt, raw emotion, making Into The Flame an honest and uncompromising delivery.

Originally published by The Brag, Issue 440 (November 28, 2011)

Husky, Forever So 
Album of the Week

I am not the kind of person who defines something as ‘perfect’ recklessly. For instance, I’m yet to find the perfect jeans, the perfect vanilla scented candle or the perfect hair conditioner – but I think I’ve found the perfect album. It seems almost impossible that Husky’s debut, Forever So, could really be their first offering. Or that something this good was recorded in a makeshift studio in Northcote, after a few nights watching ‘how to’ sound-proofing videos.

Winners of triple j Unearthed, this indie folk four piece have recently returned from the US where they were working with Noah Georgeson (Devendra Banhart, Joanna Newsom, Os Mutantes). Superbly engineered, Forever So transports you through time and space while invoking vivid imagery and stirring emotions. Lead vocalist Husky Gawenda delivers believable and enchantingly poetic lyrics to accompany sublimely crafted instrumentals: ‘Tidal Wave’ draws you in and sweeps you away like a gently rolling sea; ‘Animals & Freaks’ is both a heartbreaking and aching beautiful track; ‘History’s Door’ conjures up images of pretty young things clad in Wayfarers hitting the open road in an old Valiant to play guitar by a bonfire on a beach.

There is nothing fake or forced about this album; there are no fillers or B sides. Each song is a flawless combination of acoustic guitar, refined percussion and harmonious vocals. These Melbourne boys have done so well with their debut, that it will be interesting to see what they come up with next.

Unpretentious, dreamy and ambitious, Husky’s debut is a masterpiece of cohesive, fluid energy that draws on the strengths of each band member to create something which, if it’s not perfect, gets very, very close.

Originally published by The Brag, Issue 437 (November 7, 2011)

Emma Davis single and video clip launch ‘Feel a Thing’
Supported by Patrick James
Hibernian House
Friday November 25, 2011

Wandering through the graffiti coated corridors of Hibernian House, we eventually locate the sold out Emma Davis single and video clip launch for ‘Feel a Thing’. But we are early- or they are running late- and we have time to admire the street art. Soon enough everything is ready and we are greeted at the door by the singer-songwriter herself. Apologising for the delay she invites us to help ourselves to the cookies and alcoholic milk provided. Entering the gig space there are cupcakes, tea lights and the floor is scattered with pillows. Waiting for Emma to begin her set a photographer drops a tripod on me and I experience firsthand the seesaw effect of the wooden crate I’m sitting on. But I’m undeterred.

It’s a sold out show and the crowd, made up of friends, family members and fans, are enjoying their BYO beverages when support act Patrick James takes to the stage (joined by Scotty Stevens on banjo). Patrick’s acoustic indie/folk is well received; he’s a superstar in the making.

Emma appears a little after 9.30pm and by then my splinter-pricked arse is numb. First up is the debut of the ‘Feel a Thing’ video clip and it’s worth the wait. Conceived by filmmaker and writer Byron Quandary it stylishly depicts the night time wanderings of a sleepwalking family. It’s haunting, in brilliant juxtaposition to the optimistic ukelele. Emma starts her set with ‘Losing Faith’ dressed in a white shirt and pant pajama combo. Mark Stevens, also in his jammies, join her on double bass and vocals. There are a few technical difficulties but it adds to the charm and intimacy of the venue. There is nothing more boring than a gig that sounds the same as the album. Another pyjama buddy, Leroy Lee (clad in plaid), offers up some expert banjo and harmonica. The crowd is buzzing and transfixed by the time Emma performs her second single ‘Machines’ and it results in Emma being showered with bras from the audience members.

The gig finishes with an impromptu encore cover of ‘I Like You So Much Better When Your Naked’ and there is more disrobing and clothes throwing. Emma is funny, a little shy and very sweet, and there is nothing forced or dishonest about her collection of upbeat break-up songs and tales of disillusionment, which she performs skilfully and earnestly. The show comes to an end and once again Emma is at the door thanking everyone for coming- which isn’t necessary; it was our pleasure.

Originally published by The Brag, Issue 441 (December 5, 2011)

Jinja Safari 
Supported by Megastick Fanfare, Pluto Jonze and Elizabeth Rose
Metro Theatre
Friday November 11, 2011
With no jungle readily available, under a full moon I enter the Metro Theatre for the sold out, all ages Jinja Safari gig. I’m eager to experience their ‘forest rock’ live and once inside there is an electric vibe in the air. I soon find myself surrounded by feathered head dresses and animal masks on an already crowded dance floor. First up solo female artist Elizabeth Rose has the crowd arm waving and clapping early into her set. Her dark electronica and Bjork like vocals are stylish and she is definitely an act to watch. Next, Pluto Jonze delivers a short, sharp performance that is heavily reliant on a Theramin and I’m scared I might not hear certain frequencies anymore. Indie rock band Megastick Fanfare take to the stage last and while there is some good percussion and bass their sound is a bit repetitive and never goes much beyond being noise.

With the support acts done and the red curtain closed, the tension builds and the excitable crowd are silenced as distant drumming begins and Jinja Safari appear at the back of the theatre dancing their way through the crowd in a procession of afro beat percussion before taking to the stage now adorned with Tibetan prayer flags, flickering candles and a giant backdrop painted with the Jinja Safari symbol. Armed with guitars, a sitar, drums, bass, keys and a glockenspiel the band dance barefoot with frightening energy, building the crowd into a jumping, singing frenzy with the very popular ‘Mud’ and ‘Peter Pan’. Occasionally the vocals get a bit lost by the mixing desk but halfway through their set lead singer Marcus yells “eleven, eleven, eleven, eleven” in honour of the landmark day.

Jinja Safari knows how to delight an audience with their antics. At one point Marcus and Pepa climb simultaneously onto the speakers on either end of the stage. With Marcus blowing on a vuvuzela, Pepa leaps up and swings precariously like a baby orang-utan across the light rig to join Marcus on the other side. Jumping down from a height that made my ankles shriek, he is up and dancing merrily through the haze of an overzealous smoke machine. They concluded with ‘Mermaids’ and as a group of dancers stormed the stage, Pepa, unable to be constrained any longer, throws himself into the crowd and surfs over a sea of hands. Theatrics aside they delivered a great performance. If you catch a Jinja Safari gig you are in for one wild time. Just don’t forget your animal mask.

Originally published by The Brag, Issue 439 (November 21, 2011)
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