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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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Hell Hath

     “You are lucky to be alive”, the nurse told her.

     “Can you describe him?” Asked the policeman.

     “Describe who?” The woman asked.

     “The intruder. The person who attacked you.”

     Had she said that? Had she really said there had been an intruder? The woman could barely move on the hospital gurney. The stitches pulled with each breath and she was thirsty. She watched news reports about a young woman who had been attacked in the kitchen of her home and was now recovering in hospital. She didn’t realise at first they were talking about her. Her work colleagues sent her flowers and her mother visited every day. He came too of course with false sincerity and crocodile tears in his eyes. Not for a second did she doubt that after he left each night he went to ‘her’. He and his slut were free to roll around on the 1200 count Egyptian cotton sheets all night if they wished, now that she was conveniently confined to a hospital bed.

     It took a little while for her to realise that the physical description she had given of the intruder matched her husband perfectly. The police noticed it sooner. When they questioned him he denied it of course but then she played them the voice message from his whore telling her was a terrible wife and that she should “just drop dead”. She had her phone in her hand when the maid found her outstretched in a pool of blood on the marble kitchen floor. Her husband turned up much later at the hospital with no alibi. Naturally his fingerprints were all over the knife. It was the one he used to cut up meat when they had barbecues. She didn’t exactly say he had tried to kill her but for some reason any effort to protest his innocence refused to push past her lips.

     The lawyer told her it was an open shut case. They were even considering a charge against his bitch for conspiracy. Of course she didn’t tell anyone the stab wound was self-inflicted. That she had listened to the voice message, walked calmly into the kitchen and grabbed the knife. She had fully intended to bury the cold steel blade deep into her heart but filled with misery the poor organ must have retreated to the size an acorn. When she plunged the sharp edge into her chest she missed her heart completely. A full recovery was expected. With the attempted murder charge against her husband, she was sure she would get to keep the house. She made a mental note to burn the sheets.

© JULIETTE GILLIES

The Unfinished

Yesterday I died. I wasn’t murdered. No one stole my life away. I wasn’t run over by a car. I didn’t drown. I wasn’t in a plane crash. I didn’t stand on the edge of a cliff and wish everyone goodbye or wash down 30 pills with vodka and choke. It was nothing like that at all…
     It was my Dad’s birthday. He wanted a book by his favourite author and I had to import it from overseas. I was so glad it arrived in time and I picked it up at the post office before choosing him a card and some nice wrapping paper. I walked home from the shopping centre, enjoying the sun on my face. The day had been so calm. Not too hot and not windy. The few clouds that scattered lightly along the sky were fluffy and white. Birds chirped playfully in the trees above my head. When I got home I went about wrapping my father’s gift and spent about 20 minutes trying to think up something clever to write on his card. I decided on wishing him a Happy Birthday with all my love. It wasn’t as creative or original as I would have liked.
     I checked my email quickly before my shower and John had finally messaged me. He had just gotten back from Bali and wanted to catch up. I was ecstatic and replied immediately suggesting next Friday at the café on King Street. We had spent so many late nights there amongst the tattered cushions, art students and organic coffee. I quickly went into the bathroom and got ready for Dad’s dinner. I had chosen a bright pink dress to wear, probably because my own heart was so happy. I checked my email again before leaving, but John hadn’t replied yet. On the way to the restaurant I thought about all the time John and I had known each other and how many missed opportunities we’d had. I hoped that this time it would be different. I couldn’t help but smile as I thought of his handsome face.
     When I arrived at the restaurant my parents were already there. We had seen each other only two days before, but greeted like long lost friends. Bear hugging and laughing we sat down to our meal. We cheerfully ate our Italian food and enjoyed one of my Dad’s infamous wine choices. We chatted happily about our lives and joked about Mum’s latest conspiracy theories regarding grocery prices. Dad loved his present. After dinner we relaxed over coffee and I talked excitedly about my email from John. Mum reacted encouragingly. Dad wanted me to take my time and be careful with my heart. We all knew how badly broken it had been just before John left 6 months ago. I promised to be guarded while all the time knowing I wouldn’t be and would throw myself heart and soul into a relationship with John, if that was what he wanted. It was my fate in life to love big and risk falling hard.
     Outside the restaurant we hugged again near our cars and I watched my parents drive away. I remember thinking how in love they still were and how very much I loved them. I drove home singing along to my stereo. When I got to my apartment I hopped into bed with my cat Charlie at my feet. I felt warm and safe. I was happy. I think I may have even had a small smile on my lips as dreams started to dance in my head. My last clear thought wasn’t of John. It was my Mum’s face. It was like I remembered it from my childhood. Everything about her was soft and hopeful. There was that special sparkle in her eyes that said, “All the very best of everything in the world, is what I want for you my love”. I went to sleep soundly. And I never woke up.
     It was an aneurism. I never had any symptoms. Not even a headache. I didn’t feel any pain. I didn’t feel anything. It was like I just fell asleep, forever. Like Snow White only with no prince to ever wake her. I’m sure people are sad that I’m gone. I know Mum will never really recover but I hope Mum and Dad can endure it and eventually laugh at all those silly things we used to laugh at together. I wonder if John is sad. I don’t suppose it matters now that I am gone, but I think I would prefer it if he was sad. Just for a little while anyway. I hope he doesn’t bring a date to my funeral.
     I hope someone takes good care of Charlie cat. All he needs is a warm lap and a can of fish. Even if he misses me he won’t ever show it. Cats are like that. I think what I will miss most, other than my family and friends, is my future. My hopes, dreams and the plans I had made. The husband I will never marry. The children I will never have. All the things that will never be but could have been are just forgotten now, blown away like dust by a careless wind.
     People are born into this world every day. Yesterday I died. My name was Michelle. I was twenty years old.

Original published in Luna Station Quarterly, Issue 11.