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Howzat! Archive - February 23rd 2011

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"Taking chances is an art of looking good even when we're failing." So sings Sydney's Bryan Estepa on his third album, Vessels. "That's probably one of my favourite lines that I've written," Bryan tells Howzat! "It's basically the old adage of taking a dive in the deep end, of taking a risk but almost not caring what the end result is. Just as long as we know we have experienced and lived. It's one of the life philosophies I've happily taken on."

It seems to be paying off - Bryan has had success in Spain and plans to return there for some shows later this year, and one of his songs, Myself, has been featured in Degrassi: The Next Generation. "That was a pleasant surprise as I remember watching the original Degrassi High as a kid."

Bryan is a brilliant pop songwriter, with Vessels swinging from power pop to alt country, with magical melodies. "I like the incongruity of the word 'vessels'," he says. "It has so many different angles and its meaning can be read in so many ways. I also just like the word, just like I liked the phrases 'All the bells and whistles' and 'Sunday best' and ended up using them as album titles. Something about this word just seemed to fit this record." Vessels is all bright and breezy, the perfect summer album, though Bryan sings, "Had enough of the summer, baby/ I am missing the winter cold". "I consider myself more an in-between person," he says, "give me autumns and springs any day. The extremes tend to mess with me."

After two albums with Popboomerang, this is Bryan's first release for Laughing Outlaw Records. "I've always been a fan of the label and have known the owner, Stuart Coupe, for a while," Bryan explains. "He happened to like the record a lot when I offered it to him and, now, here we are." Vessels is released on Friday, and Bryan is playing at Pure Pop on March 19.

It was a year ago today (Wednesday) that more than 20,000 people marched in the SLAM Rally. Howzat! spoke to a cross-section of musicians and fans this week and asked: One year on from the rally, what can be done to improve the live scene for bands and punters? Here are six of the ideas:

Cheaper beers. "$8 for a stubby?!"

All international acts must have a local support. "Social Distortion, The Gaslight Anthem and Feeder are playing at the Palace next month. It's a great bill, but where's the local band?"

Earlier starting times for bands. "We might be old, but we still like to see bands. But we can't wait up till 11.30pm for the band to start, and afford to pay the babysitter."

More Sunday arvo shows: "We love the family-friendly Sunday afternoon gigs at the Northcote."

Better riders for bands. "We've just packed out your venue and we get a six-pack?"

More all-ages shows. "Being under 18 shouldn't mean you miss out on big gigs. It should be easier for pubs to de-licence and put on shows for under-18s."

Of course, money is needed to support a thriving music scene. How 'bout a levy on all tickets for international acts? A 50 cent levy on each ticket sold for Pink's 2009 Melbourne shows would have raised $120,000. This money could go to organisations such as Music Victoria, ensure ongoing funding for programs such as Vic Rocks, and establish a Hall of Fame in Melbourne.

The great Died Pretty are celebrating some big anniversaries this year: It's 25 years since their debut album, Free Dirt, and 20 years since their classic Doughboy Hollow. The band is celebrating by headlining CherryRock011 on May 1.

You could call it Super Friday. March 4 will see a stack of important local releases. Out on that day are the self-titled solo debuts for Adalita and Special Patrol's Myles Mayo, second albums for The Little Stevies (Attention Shoppers) and Oh Mercy (Great Barrier Grief); The Waifs' new album (Temptation), and the debut solo EP for Epicure's Juan Alban (Too Long In Flight). Also on March 4, Wagons launch their new single, Downlow, at the Corner.

The thinking man's favourite pop band, The Fauves, will celebrate their 23rd birthday this year by releasing not one but two albums. "It's our version of Use Your Illusion," smiles singer Andrew "Coxy" Cox.

Just four homegrown hits in the national Top 40.

Who's That Girl GUY SEBASTIAN (number 19)
Friday To Sunday JUSTICE CREW (20)
Rapunzel DRAPHT (27)
Saturday Night JESSICA MAUBOY (40)

A new Hillsong release leads the way on the album charts, while Cut Copy slip from three to 13 in Zonoscope's second week.

Aftermath, HILLSONG UNITED (number four, debut)
Down The Way, ANGUS & JULIA STONE (eight)
Twenty Ten, GUY SEBASTIAN (11)
Zonoscope, CUT COPY (13)
Birds Of Tokyo, BIRDS OF TOKYO (17)
Altiyan Childs, ALTIYAN CHILDS (20)
Running On Air, BLISS N ESO (25)
Get Closer, KEITH URBAN (33)
Gilgamesh, GYPSY & THE CAT (34)
Immersion, PENDULUM (36)
He Will Have His Way, VARIOUS (37)
Midnight Remember, LITTLE RED (40)

Purple Patch, BRYAN ESTEPA
Downlow, WAGONS
Crazy Like Me, MYLES MAYO
Stoneage Cinderella, DIED PRETTY

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