Deaf Ambitions is the story of a “blog done good”, from humble musical blog beginnings that simply wished to celebrate and support Independent Australian Music, has led to these folk presenting this event. Tonight, Deaf Ambitions host the first of a four week residency at Melbourne’s increasingly popular The Gasometer Hotel, featuring the bands they love and support. This is a modest Tuesday evening celebration of Deaf Ambitions committed efforts to support some unsettlingly great bands/artists such as Crepes and Sleep Decade.
With thanks to the team at Deaf Ambitions, we were invited to be part of the surprisingly busy crowd (it is Tuesday night!) who are gathered at this great little venue to celebrate. A venue that has a retractable roof that tonight allows the earlier bands to play under this evenings overcast sky and beaming billboard sign promoting a worthy cause of ”helping people with disabilities to swim”. It’s odd but special too.
Shuffling in a little after 830pm we missed Mallee Songs, who although not part of Deaf Ambitions were added to the bill as “special” guests. We read that Michael Skinner, the singer/songwriter who began writing as Mallee Songs a few good years back has now formed a band to support his talent. A real shame that we missed these guys, we did a bit of investigating and discovered yet another talented local songwriter and band. The least we can do is share a track to help support this Melbourne band.
Zig Zag epitomise perfectly the ever popular sounds of slacker indie pop hanging from the same tree as Real Estate and Kurt Vile, where the songs unfold like they don’t want to be there, but equally written with sincere passion and melody. This four piece seem vulnerable and uncertain as they commence their set, perhaps nervous by their buddies in the audience, a few yelling out a few words in support, brought upon by a few too many pots. There is a real effortless 60s sound to Zig Zag, which is surprising considering that they would not have even been an idea in the evolution of life. Tonight they progressively build confidence and by the time we get to a track called I’m Already Falling Far Behind, we realise that Zig Zag, have the right to gain a nice little following. For us older sorts, there were some real moments (comparisons) to Teenage Fan Club that had us looking to the stars above and remembering “those days”.
Sleep Decade are part of the Deaf Ambition gang, a band that can play so sporadically that some songs can has the audience wondering nervously whether the song has finished to raise an applause. (Applauding before a song is over is very uncool, and tonight The Wandering Lamb did just that.)
There is such a fine line between music that is sparse and bare. Like the art of modernism, it may appear easy to create but when you do it, the challenge of not appearing, or in this case, sounding bare, can be a problem. This is not the first time we have seen Sleep Decade play live, each experience brings something a little different, and this in itself makes them interesting. Their approach to music is considered and each note played when required. There musical talent is all about quality over quantity so there is a lot of “space” in their music, with moments of The American Analog Set (great band!) and the idea of The XX, without the underlying groove and extreme melancholic emotion. Their album Into Spinning Lights is an excellent release, the instrumentation is clear and the vocals clean, a band that is all about good production. Great band but would love to see them in the right venue with the right atmosphere and mix.
Crepes, Crepes, Crepes, how we think, every time we see you play live we know that you are on the cusp of something exciting. These (far too) young Melbourne chaps have all the makings to lead the way in fresh new Australian music and it is still only early days for them. Having first heard the band broadcasted through the now sadly defunct Swedish Internet Radio Station Gimmer Indie, it was assumed that they were from some town along California’s Pacific Coast Highway, not from our magnificently cultured city of Melbourne.
Spurred on by the two drunk girls swaying at the front with the wine bottle perched on the edge of the front stage, the band play a more relaxed set tonight, to an eager crowd, who Tim Karmouche , the charming front man, thanks us for coming out. Pleasure is all ours, now show us that you have been busy writing new material, to which the instant response is the band testing out the wheels of a new track.
Instead of following the direction of their very successful single Cold Summers, the band have written a track that is quirky and laid-back in vibe with moments of The Whitest Boy Alive, a great sound for the band. The stage is a little tight for 5 growing men so it all felt a little claustrophobic but the band always appear to have a great time, and tonight was no different. With ongoing heckling by the now pickled girls at the front, the band played most of their EP and a few tracks we couldn’t recognise, either way, all great in sound and vibe.
Tim made a funny comment tonight about his matching blue T-shirt with drummer Nick Robbins, and that he tried to get the band to follow suit. You know what, this is exactly what they need, a formula, something to bring them all together like a gang. They need a look, they need an attitude and jokes aside, if the band were all in blue T-shirts, the subtle contrived nature will give them something a little different. A gig should be more than just a delight to the ears, it should be a complete experience and perhaps a visual layer is just what these guys need. Chaps, if you are reading this, I may just go out to Uniqlo and by 5 matching over-sized t-shirts. Seriously!