australian

Just Yesterday

Waiting for a cab
to travel for hours
just to see your face
a smile melted
sunny side up
on a plate
of glass
through a window
eyes will meet
but they will be hollow
as I watch you laughing
sipping your coffee
made just how you like it
by some other girl.

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Tender

Tender is a short film written and directed by Australian filmmaker Jessica Redenbach. I had the good fortune to catch it one night on SBS Shorts on Screen. It is the story of Max and Cate. They meet, forget to exchange names, they fuck. After what could easily be dismissed as a one night stand they meet again. They chat. Max is an artist. Cate is funny and charming. They fuck. There is no restraint. It’s just sex and Cate appears to be in control. Then something changes. Cate’s bravado begins to waiver. Somewhere in amongst the casual sex, fun conversations and laughter a need for intimacy invades Cate. She begins to appear clingy. Her repeated phone calls a little desperate. Her daily life seems like a robotic forced distraction from her thoughts of Max. As Cate falls in love, Max remains distant until the final moments of the film when things become too familiar. The fantasy is replaced with harsh reality and Cate is left despondent.

This is such a subtle, delicate film. I was blown away by the performances and progression of the story. I had never seen Angus Sampson in a dramatic role before but he is perfectly cast as Max, a fairly uncomplicated, happy go lucky guy. Katie-Jean Harding brings something very special to the seemingly carefree Cate. Her descent into disconsolateness could easily be dismissed as the actions of a wild and naive woman but instead her forlornness cuts through you like a knife. Her eyes, once so alive and playful, are now sad and clouded with an unsatisfied longing. You want her to receive the love she desires. You want Cate to succeed in her quest. This is what makes this film so brilliant, so tangible. You are drawn into the world of these characters and left wondering about their fate long after the credits.

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[image courtesy of Darley Street Disco]

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)

The Snap

The bathroom door slammed shut.
     What am I going to do?
     Sandra pleaded at herself in the mirror. Her lips were twisted tightly together, her face a stark white, her eyes frightened and wild looking. She was shocked for a moment by the unfamiliarity of her own reflection. Then she noticed she was naked. She didn’t have her towel anymore having dropped it in the bedroom when that thing had leapt at her. Sandra felt a deep uneasiness. She felt vulnerable and self conscious. She wished desperately she had brought her pyjamas into the bathroom so she had something to wear. Anything to put a barrier between herself and that thing. The dirty sock hamper offered no solution. Neither did the soaking wet bathmat.
     The hand towel? There was no point.
     BANG!
     Sandra shrieked as something violently struck against the bathroom door.
     BANG!
     Jesus! Find something to defend yourself!
     Sandra’s eyes raced around the small, windowless, square bathroom but there was nothing. Turning towards the mirror again she opened the doors of the medicine cabinet. Rummaging through it she desperately searched for some kind of weapon. She found a cardboard nail file, tweezers, cotton balls, lipstick, roll on deodorant.
     Nail scissors or safety razor?
     Neither offered any real protection but Sandra grabbed the three inch nail scissors.
     BANG!
     Sandra jumped and with scissors in hand she backed away from the door.
     BANG!
     It hit even harder that time. The door jumped on its hinges and suddenly seemed very flimsy and useless.
     BANG!
     God! It’s going to get in!
     Sandra tried to control her breathing but her panic was building up to hysteria.
     It’s going to get me!
     In the few seconds she had seen it Sandra knew that thing meant her harm. Real, actual harm. She didn’t just sense it. She knew it. Knew it wanted to hurt her. Make her bleed. Slowly shred her flesh and play in her blood. Her mind screamed at her to think of something.
     BANG!
     The small lock jutted open.
     Christ!
     Sandra grabbed the lock and swiftly threw it back in place.
     It’s going to get in! I need a plan! What should I do? Hide behind the door and when it opens I can throw the shower curtain over it and stab it? Yeah right. These scissors barely cut my nails! Besides I’m not going anywhere near that thing!
     Sandra stepped out of the shower and wrapped the blue towel around her midsection. Wiping the steam from the fogged up mirror she had briefly admired her reflection. Barely thirty, she could easily pass for twenty five with her clear skin, full lips and big blue eyes. She picked up her plastic comb and ran it through her long blonde hair.
     Thump!
     Sandra cocked her head to the side.
     “Mike?” she called.
     All she heard was silence. It was a little early for her boyfriend to be home. His shift at the hospital didn’t usually end until midnight and it was only just after eleven. Sandra listened. All she heard was a strange scraping followed by a hiss and a snapping sound.
     “Mike?” Sandra called louder this time.
     There was no reply.
     Damn it.
     Sandra would never admit it but she hated being in the apartment alone every night. Ever since they had moved to the three story brown brick two months ago, she always felt a little creeped out.
     THUMP!
     This time Sandra jumped. Throwing the comb into the sink she looked at herself in the mirror. Her eyes were wide for a moment and then she smirked.
     You’re such a chicken shit.
     Sandra spun around and confidently opened the bathroom door. Without another thought she stepped across the hall and into her bedroom. The room was illuminated by the streetlamps outside.
     Didn’t I leave the light on?
     The curtains were drawn back. Sandra thought for a second that the window was open ever so slightly. Something moving in the room caught her eye. Something faced away and bent over in the corner. For a moment she thought it was Mike playing a prank. Instead that thing, crouching on all fours, slowly turned around and started creeping its way towards her. It’s back hunched up awkwardly it sort of resembled a man. An oddly deformed man with a slick, pale body that was too thin. The face was half covered by stringy twine-like hair. The yellow glowing slits of its eyes completely unhuman. The pine needle like teeth suddenly stretched out unnaturally in a demented grin. The long talon claws made a scraping sound across the floorboards. She saw it preparing. She heard it hiss and flinched at the loud snap of its jaws. She saw it had an erection. When it leapt at her Sandra was sure she saw it. That terrifying, revolting thing had an erection. As it pounced Sandra lunged backwards instinctively and found herself back in the bathroom where she quickly slammed the door.
     The memory made Sandra’s whole body shudder.
     BANG!
     She screamed and saw the door jump again but somehow it held shut. A hiss came from the other side and then silence. Sandra strained to hear. Nothing.
     Sandra stood for a second listening but all she could hear was her own rasping breath and the pounding of her heart. Sandra’s ears were still straining when her eyes wandered up the bathroom wall and came to rest on the air conditioning vent above. It was more of a manhole actually. Man sized.
     It would fit! It could get in!
     Panic flew through her like an electric shock. A scream curled up out of her chest but refused to push its way past her lips. It sat in her throat choking her.
     FUCK! What do I do? Should I run for it? What if it was waiting? Should I stay here? What if it was coming?
     A loud scraping sound came from the vent above her. Sandra gasped. She tore open the bathroom door and bolted. Just in time to feel something tug at her hair. She felt the tension. Heard the hair audibly rip out of her head and then heard the SNAP! She cried out at the pain but didn’t dare stop. Sandra sprinted through her apartment and flung open her front door, slamming it hard behind her. Naked and hysterical she ran down the hallway.
     It’s behind me!
     She was sure of it. Almost tripping Sandra scrambled down the three flights of stairs and only stopped when she reached the front door of the building. Sandra’s wet body slapped hard against the glass.
     Where am I going? Should I run out naked into the street?
     The whole block was security apartment buildings. She wouldn’t even be able to get into a lobby. Her hand let go of the silver door knob and she spun herself around bracing her back up against the door. There was nothing there.
     Maybe it didn’t follow me. Maybe it’s still in the apartment? I shut the door didn’t I? Maybe it’s trapped.
     BANG!
     High above her Sandra heard an apartment door close. Whimpering, her breathing was unnaturally fast. The light in the entrance hall was dim. The globes were set on power save at night. She looked hard towards the staircase. For nearly a minute she didn’t blink. Her eyes stung as she searched the darkness for any movement. Nothing. Dragging her eyes away she scanned the foyer. She could make out the stairway she’d come down, the pattern of the tiles and the door just beyond the stairs.
     Mr Janz! He was always home!
     The building manager was a fit and sturdy sixty year old widower. Handy with a hammer. Sandra tried to inch her way towards his apartment but she felt paralysed. Her bare feet were firmly stuck in place and she couldn’t move. Her back was pressed so hard against the door that her skin was stinging. She wondered for a moment what she must look like from the other side, her wet bare buttocks pressed against the glass. Willing herself Sandra slowly peeled her back from the door and began inching her way along the wall. The wall was covered in course concrete that gravel-rashed her skin. Terrified, she kept staring up into the stairwell. Blackness filled the space at the top. She couldn’t tear her eyes away but she kept moving. She had made it halfway when she heard a sound on the wooden stairs above. The unmistakable scraping of claws. She was sure she heard its jaws snapping. Sandra ran and crashed so hard against Mr Janz’s door she was surprised she didn’t go right through it. Desperately she pounded on the wooden surface.
     “Mr Janz!” she frantically screamed. “Please let me in! Mr Janz! PLEASE!”
     Sandra tried to turn the knob.
     “Mr Janz!”
     Suddenly the door gave way and she fell forward landing with a hard smack on the floor in front of her. Her whole body aching and the wind knocked out of her Sandra struggled to her feet. Slamming the door behind her she latched the safety chain. She spun around quickly and tried to locate Mr Janz.
     Did he let me in?
     She peered into the darkness of the apartment.
     “Mr Janz?” she whispered. “Mr Janz?”
     Nothing.
     Where is he?
     She couldn’t make out very much around her. The only real light source seemed to be coming from a room directly in front of her. Down the hall and off to the right.
     Is that the bedroom?
     She imagined the layout was the same as her apartment. Her eyes adjusted slightly to the dark and she could now make out a little more clearly a gap in the bedroom door with a vertical beam of light shining out. Carefully Sandra made her way towards the light source. As she moved she listened intently for any sounds of movement especially from behind her. When she reached the half open door she heard only her own breathing and her heart threatening to bust out of her chest.
     Mr Janz?
     She wanted to whisper but the words wouldn’t form in her dry mouth. She slowly pushed the door open the whole way and saw a lamp on the floor near the outline of a bed. Sandra’s hand searched the wall for the light switch but all she felt was smooth painted plaster. The rest of the room was dark. The curtains must have been closed. Crouching low, Sandra crept over to the lamp. Picking it up she rested it on the nightstand where it illuminated half the room. Half of the bed. Half of Mr Janz. His broken, torn up, naked body lay in two pieces on the bloodied sheets. His intestines trailed out of his stomach cavity onto the floor. Both they and his face looked chewed on. One dead, blank eye stared up at her. The other eye was missing. Sandra stumbled backwards into the hallway, a scream about to escape her lips when she heard the scraping of claws. She heard the loud SNAP! Only this time she felt the teeth biting down and penetrating the flesh of her neck.

Original published by Death Head Grin, Anthology of Horror 1.