Tuesday, 24 December 2013


            Renowned for their chart-topping single “Two Weeks,” Indie-atmospheric band Grizzly Bear released their fourth studio album Shields in September 2012, and earlier this year released the albums B-sides. While Shields did well to live up to post-Veckatimest expectations, their B-sides release took a different approach to exploring the band’s musical complexities.

            While their previous albums were experimental in terms of musicality, their B-sides explore the other component of the band’s attention-grabbing euphony. The vagrant instrumental echoes and influential sound still manages to work well for them but were it not for the as-yet-unheard lyrics nothing would be too valuable about this release. Take this line of Will Calls: oily hands, slippery slope, pointed fangs without scope.” Compared to the chart-stealing qualities of the band’s upbeat lyrics Grizzly Bear brings an element of seriousness to the table. Defiant of their palpable indie-impressed songwriting, their B-sides are progressive in their nature and, combined with the ever-haunting vocals of lead singer Edward Droste, put together another satisfactory 8-track album.

            Contradictory in nature and theme to their ubiquitous though interchangeable sound, Grizzly Bear’s B-side release of their widely acclaimed Shields does just as well in approaching atmosphere and human qualities through their eerie melodies and excess eloquence.

            Grizzly Bear is playing at the Falls Festival, Sydney, December 28, 29 and 31

Sunday, 22 December 2013


The Citizens are an up-and-coming indie pop rock band hailing from Bondi, Sydney. They've played some exciting shows - winning Bondi's Battle of the Bands and competing in YouthRock finals - and recently released some new tracks, the aptly titled 'The Table's Not The Place' and 'Fishing In The Drought'.

Their funky new track 'The Table's Not The Place' has punchy, rhythmic - almost popcorn-like - guitar work influenced by Two Door Cinema Club and stylistic features and lyrics reminiscent of the ever-clever Isaac Brock. It's a cool, sassy track that's neat, clean and altogether pretty fun.

We caught up with the cool kids from The Citizens recently!

Who are The Citizens?

The Citizens are Lewis Clark (vocals, guitar), Sachin Burns (Lead Guitar), Joey Reinhard (Bass) and Ben Munro (Drums). We are an indie pop band from Bondi, and we were formed in 2011. 

What do you guys do at band practice?

We write our songs with strong structures and we rehearse them endlessly, for a really great live show. 

How did you guys start playing together?

We started playing together when we entered a band workshop where we were placed together and wrote good songs, so we wanted to stay together as a band. 

Best thing you've done as a band?

Our best experiences would have to be supporting The Cairos at the Metro Theatre, for All Ages Concerts Sydney's Christmas Party.

The Citizens at YouthRock

Check out their music at their Triple J Unearthed page and listen to their track 'The Table's Not The Place' below:

Sunday, 15 December 2013


Ladies and gentlemen, unless you've been living under a rock (an indie rock hopefully) and you have the social skills of a blade of grass, you will have noticed that Christmas is coming (or Hanukkah. OR DECEMBER THE TWENTY-FIFTH FOR GOODNESS' SAKES).

And with said occasion, you see, comes a variety of novelty music which is kitschy as heck with the same amount of charm as my left foot. You would think that people would get sick of celebrating Christmas the same way for twenty centuries, but hey, each to their own.

I'm allergic to sleigh bells almost as much as I'm allergic to the song 'Tomorrow' from that abominable musical Annie, and so every year when the carols come up on the radio or some random dude is singing on a street corner I just want to squash someone with a Biggest Loser contestant in a red suit.

But never fear, hipsters and closeted hipsters alike! In the light of Sydney's new 'Hipster Santa', whose band plays indie covers of carols, I've collated some alternative covers to keep you entertained this silly season (without the help of an extra eggnog, of course).


Artist Adam Horne makes various well-known novelty songs and socially idiosyncratic tunes in the styles of indie artists with tongue-in-cheek artistic stereotypes and quirks.

So this was released in 2012, but it's basically carols parodying performing in the style of some heavy weight alt and rock acts (such as Bon Iver, Mumford & Sons and The xx). 

The only fault I can find with this is that each track is only thirty-seconds long or so, but again it's just for laughs really.

The xx one is my favourite though because HIS ROMY MADLEY CROFT IMPRESSION IS FREAKING AMAZING.

Here are my top five picks for this silly season:

1. Band of Horses - The First Song

Firstly, it's Band of Horses. The new wave/dream pop revival guitar wall of sound is such a wonderful flashback to hazy 90's shoegaze and influences like The Jesus and Mary Chain and The Cocteau Twins, with dashes of Crystal Castles and even Beach House in there. Ben Bridwell's arousing crooning over the top sets the standard pretty high for indie Christmas carols - it takes the you-didn't-even-know-this-was-a-song-about-Christmas-stance. But then again, you'd be forgiven for thinking this was another indie tune with just the word Christmas thrown in to startle the discerning hipster.

2. Hey Rosetta! - Carry Me Home

We've established that Christmas celebrations get a bit icky after repetition again and again, and so eventually people hit that age where they rock up to someone's party and simply launches themselves into the nearest bottle of whiskey. This is this song.
Hey Rosetta! cleverly masquerade the drunken lyrics with their delightfully cheery disposition and stride bass. It's a celebration of a lack thereof in itself, and this song is pretty feel good and shoulder-swinging as songs about alcohol and homesickness with reference to saints go. 

3. Bright Eyes - White Christmas

I've never had a White Christmas - heck, I've never even seen snow. But I can imagine listening to this song while it snows - the music is so poignant and delicate, you could probably hear it melting if you left it out too long (weird analogy I know, but you get the idea). The beautiful acoustic picking in the background grounds the smooth vocals and I can imagine that if White Christmases are the same as on those dodgy Christmas cards, it would sound like this.

4. The Civil Wars - I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day

If I was ever stuck out in the Mojave Desert with nothing but a spile and a solar-powered iPod, I'd probably just be listening to the bluesy-folk of the Civil Wars as I drained cactuses of their juice and tried to make tequila.
Since Christmas in Australia is essentially the Mojave Desert anyway, this song will fit into festivities (or whatever you hipsters call your gatherings - "esoteric phrontisteries", you say?) with its breathy vocal harmonies and the undeniable sense of longing (probably for a decent present this year).
As usual the guitar work of The Civil Wars, no matter how simple it appears, is wonderfully crafted and serves as a solid backdrop to the golden croonings of Joy Williams and Paul White).

5. The White Stripes - Candy Cane Children

If I were reading this post I'd probably think this was some bogus post and that the writer was actually going to Rickroll somebody or other. The White Stripes made some weirdo kitschy (albeit 'alternative') Christmas song?!
Apparently they did. I was just as surprised as you lot, but it's pretty good just like all of their deliciously lo-fi, grungy I-don't-give-a-damn-we're-siblings-okay stuff.

So there we have it. Have a wonderfully alternative Christmas what with your vegan turkey and coeliac macarons and what not, people.


This is the third review in our series on the fabulous lineup of Falls Festival this summer. Another one of the fantastic acts set to perform is THE CAT EMPIRE.

I like cats. They don’t really do much unless you count humping your table lamp at 10:30 in the evening as productive,  but humans aren’t that much more advanced in the first place so we’ll try and keep it simple here. They make you happy, and Melbourne natives The Cat Empire is finally living up to their name and making me happy as well. While I can’t speak strongly of their previous releases, their 2013 Steal the Light hits you with that sexy modern ska/hipster trumpet combination that I feel they've near perfected.

            A brief recap of The Cat Empire: they're not bad. While I never found myself melting in their music they’re one of the few bands I’ve heard that understands the balance requisite in success. All they really needed was a reason to stay stuck in my head, because a lot things aren't really balanced up there, but at least what’s up there is musical. Steal the Light, however, brought with it exactly what I wanted to hear – their classically sexy instrumental blend but with a cowhide confidence and energy that was just out of reach for them before. Their 12 track release brought with it a lot of different emotions we haven't heard from them; outside the normal range of garrulously kitschy love songs, their album experiments with its emotions, and along with those its instrumentation. Say goodbye to monotonous horn section and half-hearted drumbeats, The Cat Empire is finally tapping into its own chutzpah.

            What really pulls this album together is the lead vocalists. I’m not going to be the first to say that today’s singers never give me that teenage angst inherent with songwriting; I and my fellow writers would much rather live in the time set of David Bowie and Jimi Hendrix. But finally does our cheery and lighthearted Felix Riebl and Harry James Angus reveal just a little bit of restlessness in their smooth-as-silk vocals. Listen closely and most of their songs are sticking to their guns but adding a little heat to the bullet as well, there’s definitely a little pathos to the intrinsic happiness with ska. And The Cat Empire is happy, they exude effervescence and the heartfelt balminess of Australian summers is seeping through the headsets and microphones in their latest album. But the lead singers have really perfected themselves here, there’s a lot more control that I like and while they’ve always been fluent in their songwriting their ability to balance the emotions they achieve in this new line-up deserves a hearty herald.
            Other points of focus with their new album is their lyrics, which along with the instrumentation is sounding a lot more eclectic. Their sound seems a tad influenced by the likes of Vampire weekend but their lyrics are predominantly Young the Giant meets Radiohead with the funky love song they’ve been working on for over a decade. And it’s a synergy I really enjoy listening to. If anything to spot out with them I guess I’m still somewhat put off by their inability to give us a full range of talent – you’re balanced, I’ve said this over and over again and it means that everything is remarkably cohesive and it sounds euphonic. As ironic as it sounds that doesn’t mean it is, and I love that they can work together a variety of different elements into their songs and still be the upbeat ear molesters they’re becoming, but what’s off-kilter? It isn’t that they’re un-human but there’s no imperfection that makes it sound human, there’s an edge to what they’re doing now but what about them really jumps out to your listening caves and says “I feel this bitch?” They’re not just a tepid love song anymore, but I’m waiting for the next big move. Nonetheless, their album deserves a listen to and I guarantee getting them stuck in your head will make you poop rainbow.

And they have painted eyebands.

Friday, 13 December 2013


You may remember her from 'Young Talent Time 2012' with her spellbinding cover of Alicia Key's "Empire State of Mind (Part II)," but the matured teenager is back and this time she's ready to take Australia by storm. After winning a silver medal in the Sydney Eisteddfod performing arts competition, and featuring on 'Young Talent Time', Tia Gigliotti enabled herself to blossom into a young-pop-sensation.

Following the release of her much anticipated new single "Stranded", TIA was able to make some time to talk with us here at The Optional E. This is what she had to say!

TIA, you rose to prominence after featuring on Young Talent Time 2012, how did that help you grow as a performer?

Being able to perform on YTT every week was an absolute pleasure! I got to work with many many professionals such as John Foreman (musical director), Rob Mills, Tina Arena and more. I learnt so much from being on the show, not only my voice strengthened but my confidence and performance skills did too! Being on the show allowed me to have an idea about what kind of artist I wanted to be due to the various genres we got to perform and it was great to entertain Australia while I was at it.

Who are your main musical influences?

Rihanna and Rita Ora are my main musical influences. I not only love their music but I love the way they perform! They are so confident on stage and have a unique aura about them. Their outfits are amazing

Your new sound is more techno-electric, will we be hearing any more acoustic sounds anytime soon (like your famous Empire State of Mind cover)?

My music is mainly pop dance, but as I'm writing my album I'm finding I'm doing a lot more acoustic based tracks. I play piano so that's how I start each piece I write. I am a massive fan of Alicia Keys so hopefully I can do a song influenced by that type of music.

We, at The Optional E, love your single "Stranded" - but where did the idea for the song come from? And we're most curious as to "who" you left stranded? *giggles*

THANKYOU! I like to describe 'Stranded' as a song about breaking the shackles of control! Moving on from a relationship positively... Hahaha - well, a past relationship with a guy... That was very controlling sparked the inspiration for the song, it wasn't serious but it was enough to have an effect on me!

After your recent single-release, whats next for TIA?  

After the single release it's more writing writing writing for me! I am planning on releasing an album at the end of next year so I'm busy putting my pen to paper and getting my music produced! I'm also planning to be gigging all the time at different venues around Sydney so I can't wait to be performing again. 

The Optional E would like to wish TIA great success in her music career as it starts to take her off into stardom and fame. Take a look at her new single - "Stranded" - here:

Wednesday, 11 December 2013


Emily Harley is a young teenager from Victoria who is looking to make it big in the music industry. Her enchanting voice along with her serene guitar playing provides us with a relaxing and peaceful musical atmosphere. Her fruitful covers as well as her broad and anthemic original songs will truly take her far in the music business.

We, at The Optional E, were fortunate enough to catch up with Emily, and this is what the young superstar had to say!

Emily! You have quite an angelic voice, when did you start to realise you could sing like that?

Thank you! I’ve been singing since before I can even remember, although I remember winning a school talent show in grade 4 (9 years old) and falling in love with performing. Since then I’ve been involved in everything I can, whether it be school choirs, bands, musicals, and I’ve received a good response from that, which helped/helps me believe in my singing ability.

Who are your musical influences? 

My biggest musical influence at the moment would be Daughter. I listen to a wide range of music, from bands like Northlane and Being As An Ocean to artists like Matt Corby and Snakadaktal, I find that I can draw inspiration from concepts within the ‘heavier’ genres and combine that with the sound of the other music I like to create my music.

We, at The Optional E, love your original song - "Lost Soul" - when will be able to hear a more detailed mp3 version of your brilliantly-written original songs?

I’m still in high school, so I currently don’t have the funding to produce any of my music properly, although I’m looking into getting some help recording some of my songs for the future.

The Beatles or The Rolling Stones?

Probably The Beatles, they were quite revolutionary and, although I don’t know their music well, I have a lot of respect for the songs I do know.

Will there be any gigs or live performances any time soon for your 500-odd fans to go and see you play?

Nothing that I know of yet! I’m focusing on completing my Grade 8 AMEB and VCE before I start doing gigs.

Lastly, what's next for Emily Harley?

I’m planning on completing Year 12 this coming year (2014), my Grade 8 AMEB singing exam and then hopefully beginning to look into doing live performances and finding a university with an appropriate music course for me and my future as (hopefully) an artist.

We'd like to thank Emily Harley for taking her time to speak with us and we'd also like to wish her luck as she embarks on the final year of her school life as well as taking on her Grade 8 AMEB singing exam!

Check out her youtube channel here: Emily Harley's Music Channel

This is an Optional E favourite - "Lost Soul" - Emily Harley:

Tuesday, 10 December 2013


Falls Festival this year is set to amaze with a brilliant lineup. We thought we'd review some of the artists that are performing, so after the jump, here is THE RUBENS.

Sunday, 8 December 2013



We at the optional e are really excited for the hectic lineup of the quintessential Aussie music festival Big Day Out in 2014!

We were all pretty stoked to see heavyweights Pearl Jam and Arcade Fire headlining next year's fest, but unfortunately Blur pulled out recently. However, Blur has been replaced by the talented Beady Eye, Deftones and The Hives (all of which the optional e are massive fans of).

Also, we recently launched our very own Facebook page (with the help of our newest writer Anthony!) and to celebrate, we're giving away to one lucky person two Sydney tickets to Big Day Out.

To be in the running to see Pearl Jam, Arcade Fire, The Hives, Flume (2013 ARIA award winner), Tame Impala (2013 ARIA award winner) and many more, all you need to do is head over to our brand-spanking new page, hit the 'like' button and 'like' the giveaway photo. Share it with your friends for extra fun - there are two tickets after all! :-)

This giveaway will be drawn short after the New Year.

In the meantime, get stoked for an Aussie summer full of music festivals!

On a side note, I think Kevin Parker of Tame Impala deserves some sort of medal for wearing this outfit to the ARIAs:

Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images
I'm pretty sure Kevin's shoes were virtually non-existent. In fact, these guys look like they've just stepped out of some hippy caravan. You go, guys.

Sunday, 1 December 2013


Australian prog rock duo Holy Holy caught up with The Optional E after wrapping their tour of the East Coast which started in Brisbane, went to Melbourne and finally finished in Sydney on Friday. This comes off in the wake of the brilliant reception of their debut single 'Impossible Like You' which we at The Optional E absolutely dig. 

Holy Holy - (L to R) - Tim Carroll and Oscar Dawson

Expertly welding together older prog rock influences with fresh, modern drum beats and provoking lyrical content, this Brisbane-meets-Melbourne duo of singer-songwriter Tim Carroll and guitarist Oscar Dawson is onto something remarkable. Here's our interview with their singer Tim!

What is the main inspiration for your band - do you have any musical visions?

Oscar and I come from pretty different backgrounds. He's played in some big indie rock bands  and I've done more of a country singer songwriter thing. We come together in Holy Holy to make music that reflects both these histories. We like to create songs that build and break - big full band instrumental sections that have a life of their own. We like to craft songs that create a a mood - when you hear them they make you feel something. It's a nostalgic kind of sound with a 70's guitar band feel at it's core.

Who are your main influences?

Neil Young, The National, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Bright Eyes, Band of Horses, Fleetwood Mac, Lower Dens, Here We Go Magic. 

How was it recording your debut release?

We recorded our whole debut record and then as an afterthought we recorded 'Impossible Like you' which ended up being the single. Recording is always fun. It's the ultimate luxury.  Matt Redlich's studio (Grandma's Place) is a great space in which to work and spending a few days playing amazing instruments though lovely valve amps, into vintage microphones onto two inch tape with a bunch of close friends is pretty unbeatable.

What's something about Holy Holy that nobody knows about yet?

10 years ago Oscar and I were living in a Buddhist monastery in Northern Thailand.

Thank you very much to the Holy Holy boys for the interview and their fantastic Sydney gig. Their debut album featuring their songs 'Impossible Like You' and 'The Crowd' will be released soon. Check out their songs below: