“Less is more” – Sometimes this is true for certain musicians, and this is certainly the case for Matthew Colin, a solo acoustic musician whom I had the pleasure of seeing at the Junk Bar, Ashgrove. These days, especially in the current artistic climate, I have become weary of the “one man band”, so to speak. Only one other solo act has really stirred anything within me and that is George Higgins (another talented Brisbane musician). Some of these lone musicians fall into one end of the spectrum: socio-political narratives against the backdrop of a harmonica and acoustic guitar, or, the other end of the spectrum: breathy, folkish, hippie, lovelorn, waif-like indie kids (male and female) spewing the kind of passive-aggressive diatribe about heartbreak that bores me to no end. I can’t take it. It does nothing for me. Then you have someone like Matthew Colin – a tall, long haired, bearded, spectacled man who likes to talk to you. Not AT you, but TO you. I dig his candour very much. He is a well travelled guy who writes songs predominantly about his journeys, the people he has met along the way, how he lives, and to me there is nothing better than the simplicity in which he doles out these stories – there are no complicated metaphors, vocal aerobics or intricate guitar techniques. I think this is how true storytelling is done.

He does not have an air of pretentiousness, rather, he projects confidence because he has lived the things he writes and sings about, as opposed to some songwriters who are very hard to believe or relate to. In between songs he speaks to us about the meaning behind each song, the way in which it all came about and offers up humour which I think comes naturally to him. He does not need to try. There are songs about living in a van, a friend who pisses himself before jumping into a river and maybe even falling in love in a foreign place. Listening to Matthew play, I almost felt transported to the places which he has been. That’s not an easy feat. Even the older couple watching him clasped at each other’s hands and swayed and watched. It was cool to see. My favourite song is called The Vulture, and if I remember correctly it is a song he wrote about having disagreements with a close friend, but what a beautiful and honest way to capture that than in a song which made me feel like I was given a birds eye view of the human condition. It is real, rustic, hearty stuff.  Check out his music here:




There’s a Brisbane duo that goes by the name of The Con & the Liar. You might have heard of them. Quoted as being “a two man rock duo who take a minimalist approach to styles like Blues, Rock, Punk and Indie”, these two lads definitely succeed in stirring up a melting pot of genres to deliver a brand of Rock that they should be proud of, especially as it isn’t easy being a duo. Having listened to their new album “Deserters”, I can honestly say that I identify with their sound more than I thought I would. Being a fan of desert-inspired landscapes as well as Stoner, Blues, and anything raw and heavy, I’m smitten with the diversity of emotive tones on this album. So I’m going to thank them for creating this. Who are The Con & The Liar? Or who IS The Con and who is The Liar in this duo? They are Callum Halstead (Guitar/Vocals) – who is also a member of The Skinnie Finches – and Alex Marzullo (Drums). Now, I can’t remember having met Alex before, in fact I don’t think I have, but I’ve met Callum on a few occasions and it is always a joy to see this chaps happy and cool demeanour. Certainly not one for pretension. So you’ve gotta believe it’s all about the music. With influences that flicker between Jack White, Nirvana, Johnny Cash, British India and DZ Deathrays (to name a few), it would be amiss to say that they sound exactly like their influences. Everyone does, in one way or another, but as I’ve mentioned before, there is a very diverse synchronicity in their music. To be honest, I had no idea there would be an album. I’d heard bits and pieces of info here and there, and finally Callum approached me with the finished product. Mind-lovingly-blown. So I finally have been able to give the album a good and proper listen in its entirety over the last week (more so the last few days), and this is an album that I can listen to on repeat. In fact, I have done so at work and on the train. This is a feat for me! How can I describe the album as a whole? I don’t even know where to start. Sometimes I like to view albums as stories – if I really feel the album, that is. I view this album as sort of a journey in towards maturity. If you think of a young boy or girl growing up in the deep murky South in an age of blues crooners like Ledbelly, Howlin Wolf etc, in an age of traditional Rock n Roll, trying to find his or her path in all of it and experiencing the extreme highs and lows – that’s what I feel and think of when listening to Deserters. The album opens up with brilliant tenacity – good over-driven minimalist simplistic Rock – which is evident in track 1 “Like Velociraptors”, and track 2 “Magic Show at the Match Factory.” This second track is actually a lot darker and is one of my favourites on the album. Then the album flows nicely through to tracks like “Love You (like a dog)” and “Bringing Me Down”, songs that really showcase their Blues appreciation and prowess. When I spoke of maturity before, I think in terms of the narrative context it’s a bit like that character in the deep South has experienced the life of a wannabe Blues gypsy, trying to get their grasp on whatever it is they’re searching for, considering a deal with the devil perhaps. For the sake of comparison, think of Bob Dylan’s journey from youth onwards. The close of the album is fucking brilliant with songs like “Believer” in which the lyrics include “I’m against the grain” and “I’m not a believer anymore”. Sort of a coming of age, actualisation and realisation of who one is and what one accepts to be in life. You can really hear the shift in the thought processes – the instrumentation is darker and more assertive. Here are a few of my favourite tracks:

1. NEVER YOU: God, this song is so beautifully written and played. The intro instantly hits you with a haunting bittersweet punch. Guitar effects are subtle but kind of play my heart like a fiddle, and I dig that the drums aren’t too subdued. Although I’m not sure what the song is about, lyrics like “You walk around slowly like you own the room, and you need all eyes on you watching everything you do” and “but it’ll never be you, you’ve got no value of your own – no one will miss you when you’re not around”, brings about thoughts of resentment, existential loss, insecurity of the character, conforming and looking like a jerk when you know you’re not one. The bridge in this song has this gorgeous little build-up which reminds me of PJ Harvey. There’s just something about that sorrowful twang of the guitar coupled with low crooning vocals that drives an arrow through my chest. Someone slow dance to this song with me someday please. Thanks.

2. MAGIC SHOW AT THE MATCH FACTORY: I want to say sex. And boots. And disarray. Entanglement. If you could combine grunge with voodoo, I reckon it would sound like this. It’s a warning siren and a siren song all in one. There is a good amount of growl in the vocals – not overdone. I have actually listened to this beast of a song 6 times now.

3. BELIEVER: Straight up rock and or roll. Fuzzy over-drive, John Bonham-like drums which is probably why I’m reminded of Led Zeppelin. Transported to the end of an era i.e. 1969 and onto the 70’s and dealing with the aftermath of having too much of a good time. Riffage like you would not BELIEVE!! (see what I did there).

Basically, this album is one that I shall have in my car and in my house. It’s one of the best examples of following music wherever it takes you. Two words: Riffage and Raw. The Con & The Liar are officially launching their album this Friday 3rd October at The New Globe Theatre. Joining them for this auspicious occasion are The Bear Hunt (another fave Brisbane band), Lusique and Love Hate Rebellion.