Short Cuts: A music blog

Short Cuts blog

Author: Created: 3/22/2007 4:23 PM RssIcon
A place to theorise and philosophise on the role that popular music and movies plays in my life... and now that I'm living in Australia, I'll try to distil the best Aussie music for you all to try.
By Stephen McNulty on 10/6/2009 5:48 AM
Firstly, apologies for the quietness on the Blog front of late - partly general busyness but also partly due to Short Cuts' wedding plans in the New Year!

But... I've been listening to a record that I just have to share. Soulsaver's latest, called Broken. It features the talents of Will Oldham, Mike Patton and Jason Pierce but, crucially, the record absolutely belongs to Mark Lanegan who reigns over 10 of the tracks on the album. Even though Soulsavers have produced some down-tempo electronica in the past, this record is soulful with some Neil Youngish guitar breaks.

And it includes a brilliant cover of Some Misunderstanding from Gene Clark's classic No Other,...
By Stephen McNulty on 2/23/2009 3:22 AM

From here on in, Short Cuts is going to change tack a little... as well as bringing you the good stuff that bubbles up here in Oz (I see that NME gave Empire of the Sun 8/10 earlier this month... see this earlier blog), I'll be providing a First View on some of the premier releases of the year. 

And what better place to start than U2's new release, No Line on the Horizon.

By Stephen McNulty on 2/3/2009 1:38 AM

What a week. Short Cuts managed to score tickets to the Sydney Entertainment Centre to see these living legends within 5 days of each other, supported by US reverb-rockers My Morning Jacket (Neil) and Australian singer-songwriter, Paul Kelly (Leonard). The proximity of both events to each other presents an opportunity to compare the late career trajectories of these extraordinary men - probably a flawed premise, I accept!

By Stephen McNulty on 1/23/2009 7:56 PM

The last festival Short Cuts attended was so long ago that I'm not even sure what it was! I suspect it might have been Feile, 1995, when the sadly missed Irish festival moved to Cork City. My abiding memory of the event was feeling sorry for Kylie Minogue (who was mid transition from teenie bopper to dance icon and performing her first open-air festival). Her microphone didn't work for her first few tunes, but she battled on, manfully ignoring the crowd's cry of "Show us your arse!"...

By Stephen McNulty on 12/19/2008 9:17 PM

Prompted by French Letter, here are some of Short Cuts' favourite "newly discovered" Aussie bands.

By Stephen McNulty on 12/7/2008 5:53 AM

Firstly, apologies for the fact that the blog has been rather inactive of late. Many reasons, of course, but that will change!

This is a quick one. Regular readers will be well aware of Short Cuts love of bluegrass (as evidenced by my choice of the best record I bought in 2007 - link here).

From producing Loretta Lynn to swapping riffs with Keith Richards, Jack White as always worn his influences on his sleeve. Well add bluegrass to the list!

Just watch this wonderful clip...


By Stephen McNulty on 8/25/2008 10:27 PM

Can MGMT be influential? Already?!

This is by Empire of the Sun who are a collaboration between Sleepy Jackson (who made the rather wonderful Lovers) and PNAU (read more about them in a previous blog here).

An album is due soon and if it's as good as this lead-off single, we are in for a treat! Also reminiscent of Phoenix, I think? 

By Stephen McNulty on 8/25/2008 8:53 PM

All of us have people who teach us about music. Mat was one of those people for me and, upon the shocking news of his untimely death on Sunday morning, I present to you all some of the music that he led me to.

By Stephen McNulty on 8/14/2008 5:10 PM

Pivot, an experimental post-rock instrumental 3-piece, have been selected by Sigur Ros to support their latest tour (see the CLUAS review of Sigur Ros' latest album here).

By Stephen McNulty on 6/19/2008 10:13 PM
Forget the cliched image of Australian pub rock. There is a burgeoning (and actually quite enjoyable) electro-pop scene. Here's some of the best tunes I've heard recently.

The Presets are a rather avantgarde Sydney duo who make music that meshes the Pet Shop Boys with Nine Inch Nails (if the mood takes them). This video for their Girl And The Sea tune is fabulous - unfortunately I can't embed it but I urge you to check it out here. Their new record, Apocalpso, got this rather rave review in the Guardian today.

Pnau have been on the scene in Oz for 10 years or so and have consistently produced some compelling electronic music. Their debut, Sambanova, won an ARIA (Australia's top music gong) in the late 90s but this poppy little number (which was used as the soundtrack...
By Stephen McNulty on 5/6/2008 10:09 PM
It was the summer of 1987. I'd just turned 13 and I was working for my father as a labourer, mixing cement and carrying blocks on a building site on an orchard farm in County Armagh. I was earning 10 quid a week. I was working with grown men for the first time, trying to appear worldly and mature. That didn't last long once my uncle found out that I fancied the orchard owner's daughter and that I was too scared to do anything about it. (I found out that she fancied me too. That scared me even more.) I remember being glued to the Wimbledon tennis championships as a I was a rabid Stefan Edberg fan (so was the orchard owner's daughter...). But mostly I remember attending my piano lessons on a Thursday evening when Victor, my piano teacher, would spend most of the lesson playing records - The Alex Harvey Band, Led Zep, The Pet Shop Boys (!)... The summer of 87 was great, I was growing...
By Stephen McNulty on 4/27/2008 10:29 PM
 The Eels Setlist - 27th April 2008 Sydney

Are the Eels a power pop band? Or a string-laden chamber pop band? Or are they an acoustic duo? Or a three piece punk band? The reason I ask is that I’ve seen this band play 4 times in the past 5 years and, on every occasion, they’ve been a completely different live proposition. They are, without doubt, the most schizophrenic of live bands. And that’s one of the many reasons why I love them to pieces. It seems as if Mark Oliver Everett (or Mr E or just plain E to everyone bar his bank manager) hears many voices in his head and listens to the loudest when he’s planning his world tours. It must be a kind of madness. Which, with is family history, kinda makes sense… Last night’s show in the Enmore theatre in...
By Stephen McNulty on 1/6/2008 9:55 PM
Firstly, Short Cuts apologises for the length of time between this and the last entry - a situation which will hopefully be remedied by a New Year's Resolution (!).

As is now customary in the 00s (the decade of lists?), Short Cuts has, at last, decided to reveal its releases of 2007 in descending order. But first, let's discuss the disappointments of the past 12 months. There were two that hung over the year like stale smoke.

After a blistering gig in the Enmore theatre as documented by Short Cuts back in April here, Wilco released the MOR Sky Blue Sky. Moving from alt to schmaltz, the record was lazy and confined. Impossible Germany, the only classic song to be added to the Wilco canon, shone like a beacon. What that record could have been... In addition, Short Cuts noted the enmity between 50 Cent and Kanye West...
By Stephen McNulty on 11/4/2007 1:30 AM
The ARIAs are the Australian equivalent of the BRITs - when all the great and good in the Australian music industry indulge in a night of backslapping and self-aggrandising. I watched the show principally because the legend that is Nick Cave got inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame. But, unexpectedly, the highlight of the evening didn't involve the long-haired Grinderman. The organisers of the BRITs tend to throw a strange collaboration into the mix - remember Tom Jones and Robbie Williams, or Bjork and PJ Harvey, surely one of the more bizarre and well worth another look. Well the ARIAs chucked hippy John Butler and country singer Keith Urban together for a "jam". And it was surprisingly...
By Stephen McNulty on 10/1/2007 6:45 AM

Isn't it quite outstanding news? A new Radiohead album, called In Rainbows, due out in 10 days in digital format... and it's free! Or extremely expensive. It's up to you, faithful music lover.  If a digital download doesn't float your boat, you can fork out 40 quid for a hardbook package with 2 CDs and a Vinyl album too and wait until early December for delivery.

Just bizarre! The Guardian have, conveniently, listed the known tunes with some quite dubious YouTube links.

1. 15 Step

2. Bodysnatchers

3. Nude

4. Weird Fishes/Arpegii

5. All I Need

6. Faust Arp

By Stephen McNulty on 9/30/2007 9:49 AM

I came across Angus and Julia Stone when I was chatting a record store guy in Bondi Junction and I asked him to put a CD in my hand that he thought I would love. That CD was a compilation of the 2 EPs they had recorded to date - Heart Full of Wine and the charming Chocolates and Cigarettes.

I was completely hooked. One of the key characteristics of this Sydney North Shore sibling band is that each one writes songs that are instantly identifiable - Angus is more a strum-a-long Elliott Smith type whilst Julia veers from acoustic Bjork to a kind of breathy Joanna Newsom...
By Stephen McNulty on 8/27/2007 4:03 PM
Those of you who've been with CLUAS for a while may remember that I was an Adams evangeliser. I reviewed his first two solo records for these hallowed pages - Heartbreaker and Gold. These records, alongside the final Whiskeytown album Pneumonia, represented Adams at his most vibrant and vital. Acclaim was immediate and fulsome. Over time, Gold has tarnished but the other two represent an early 21st Centuty zenith in singer songwriting. The stage seemed set for Adams to achieve superstardom. 

Except things have not gone quite according to plan. Adams has dated famous actresses, developed a proper drug habit,...
By Stephen McNulty on 8/18/2007 2:05 AM
For those of you 'down with the kids', this will be old news. 50 Cent and Kanye West are releasing their new albums (Curtis and Graduation respectively) on on the same day in the US - September 11th. A rather entertaining war of words has now escalated to the following sensible conclusion: they'll be debating who has the best album live on television. As you do.50 Cent

Fiddy's somewhat baffling response to West's TV debate request closed with "Just don't be asking me if I am a conscious rapper. I know exactly what I am saying - so I am conscious". I read this imagining Fiddy in baby oil placing his finger on his chin and pursing his lips a la Dr Evil.

Kanye's somewhat more reasonable...
By Stephen McNulty on 8/4/2007 6:49 PM
As I've been in Australia for a while now, I've been assimilating the local Aussie music scene. One band has stood head and shoulders above the rest and I feel it's now the time to introduce Ireland (and the world) to the genius that is Augie March.
By Stephen McNulty on 6/16/2007 1:23 AM
Astral Weeks - cosmically over-rated?Earlier this week, the Guardian asked a number of credible musos du jour (Mark Ronson,  Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand, Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips et al) to talk about a "classic" album that failed to light their fire. The article here delivers a masterclass in Sacred Cow slaying. Everything from Nevermind to Pet Sounds to The Stone Roses gets it in the neck.

Whilst I disagree wholeheartedly with Alex Kapranos slagging off Marquee Moon (how could he?!), I must admit that I found myself nodding vigorously...
By Stephen McNulty on 5/31/2007 11:02 PM
"My candidate for the worst movie-star director of all time has to be Clint Eastwood. Because he's still a big star and he stays on budget, Hollywood continues to indulge his directorial fantasies, yet in nearly 40 years of half-assed attempts at directing he has never developed a style of his own. Every directorial chop Eastwood displays was stolen from Don Siegel or Sergio Leone - real filmmakers who taught him what little he knows. Clint's only original theme, present from Play Misty for Me all the way to Million Dollar Baby, is that of a paternalistic white male who exercises the power of life or death over a woman: invariably, he chooses to kill her." Alex Cox, May 25th 2007

Isn't that one of the best Hollywood Sacred Cow assassinations of all time?

It's from a recent Alex Cox...
By Stephen McNulty on 5/24/2007 4:10 PM
Richard and his hairOnce in a while, stuck on the other side of the world, I envy the quality TV that you lot get in the Northern Hemisphere. One of the shows I miss most is Later with Jools Holland.

And tonight's show has a simply brilliant line-up. Bloc Party, LCD Soundsystem, Joan Armatrading, Wilco and my hope for breakthrough of the year, Richard Swft.

The last, and only, time I saw Richard Swift live was on a visit to see our esteemed editor in Brussels. As is his wont, Eoghan organised that we, with our better halves, would go see a gig that he had picked out. Swift made up one of two relativlely obscure singer-songwriters - the other being Baxter Dury, son of the late Ian Dury. Dury's rather predictable reggae-like urban dramas were completely obscured by Swift's dramatic, almost vaudevillian, chamber pop. Swift had a memorable head of hair (!) as well as a tight, funky band. His melodic delivery perfectly suited his songs. I bought a double CD that was available on the night - a compilation his previous two albums, the Novelist / Walking Without Effort.

By Stephen McNulty on 5/8/2007 4:31 PM
True living legend Prince has announced a 21 date residency in London later this year. The details known to date can be found here. 21 shows!!

What's interesting about Prince's escapade is that he has fixed ticket prices at £31.21 in tribute to his latest (and really rather fine) album 3121 - ticket buyers will also get a copy of the album (I'm assuming a digital download). The price means many of his fans can now afford to see the man credited with some of the most spectacular stage shows of the 20th century. Prince claims to have prepared over 150 songs for the shows and that he will play a different set list each night. He's bringing the symbol shaped stage that was showcased during the Superbowl half-time show. Seeing such a spectacle for that price must count as one of the bargains of the year (though cynics might snort that this ploy is designed to guarantee a full house for a fading musical force).

By Stephen McNulty on 4/30/2007 10:43 PM
Rosario Dawson - sawn off at the thigh...During the utlimately rather forgettable 300, I found myself thinking about the trailer I'd just seen for Grindhouse, a double bill directed by Robert Rodriguez (who made the heroic Sin City) and Quentin Tarantino (do we need to list his triumphs?). The gorgeous Rosario Dawson as a stripper with a machine gun for a leg. A grizzly looking Kirk Douglas wearing an iconic eye patch. Again. The trailer was so gloriously over the top - a quick scan round the audience revealed many a popcorn muncher elbowing his partner or mate, mouthing "what the f*** is this?!".

I've been annoying my partner about this film for months.

And, now, the release in Australia (and Ireland) has been postponed. Indefinitely. The box office takings of the movie in the US have been disastrous - a measly $12 million in its opening weekend (over Easter - traditionally a strong...
By Stephen McNulty on 4/29/2007 11:45 PM

... can be heard here. The Stripes are even more Led Zep than ever. Magnificent!



Short Cuts is authored by the CLUAS writer Stephen McNulty.

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