Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Tinpan Orange

Emily Lubitz is as laid back as you'd expect the singer of a band christened Tinpan Orange to be. She's bubbly, offering up an apology for our interview's delayed start before just as quickly shifting into storyteller mode. It's immediately apparent why Lubitz is a singer-songwriter; she has a lot too say, but the sort of voice you want to listen to. Tinpan Orange are in the final days before the release of their fifth studio album Love Is A Dog and, not even five minutes into our interview, I'm already sure that a great deal of their success is owed to Lubitz's infectious nature.

"It was kind of like, 'let's start a band.' 'Cool, we need a name.'" Tinpan Orange, Lubitz explains, scored its name after Lubitz's grandmother. was named the same way a group of twelve-year-olds might discover their 'porn name'. Or basically, random words were called out until something sounded good enough to pass as a band name. 

"I used to just make shit up. Eventually we stopped though, I was scared they'd find me out!"

To begin with, the 'band' was just a brother-sister duo. Or "we started as little ragamuffins just busking in Darwin" as Lubitz puts it. But unlike most sibling duos, Emily and Jesse stuck it out, met violinist Alex and that, Lubitz says, is "the real beginning". 

"We played all these terrible pub gigs. No one was even really listening to us!"

That was a decade ago.

Love Is A Dog is set for release on April 8, the fifth child in Tinpan Orange's ever-expanding brood. The number a feat for any band, Lubitz explains it as simply as anyone could. "There's always more songs to be written." And Tinpan Orange have always been an album band. Their music works as a whole, with Lubitz easily admitting they don't, and have never aimed to have, chart-topping singles. But album after album has been warmly received by both fans and critics alike.

"It's not an autobiographical album. Some [of the songs] are fictitious, but you'll never know."

Despite her obvious distaste for choosing a single, Lubitz has outdone herself with the latest one. Rich Man is the story of material wealth but relationship poverty. The ethereal, defiant music video attached follows this idea. With a wealthy housewife, depicted by Lubitz herself, being dolled up in pearls and satin clothes before finally ripping back the layers in defiance.

When I asked why she chose to be the clip's subject, Lubitz's answer was another of her trademark simple truths. "It was my concept," she explained. "It had to be me."

Tinpan Orange are heading back out on tour, hitting all the capital cities and playing as many house shows as possible. Fans are in for a treat with the trio's intimate venues and acoustic sound. Opting to tour without drums or bass, Lubitz says some of the songs have had to be adapted for the shows.

"We obviously wouldn't play Rod Laver Arena. We're just playing venues we want to play."

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Monday, March 28, 2016

No end in sight || Forever Ends Here

Fresh from finishing their acoustic Parks N Parties tour, which saw the guys of Forever Ends Here play a string of east coast shows. The boys also gave fans amble chance to say goodbye to bandmate, Jackson, with meet-and-greets throughout the tour.

The latest track, Chapters, continues to show off their new sound. Although the boys admit they were initially nervous to share the new "jumpy pop vibe", if the reaction to their Park N Parties tour is anything to go by, they have nothing to worry about.

Obviously you release music that you guys think is pretty ace (and I have to agree) but do you actually listen to your own tracks once they've been released?
We never used to, but I think we're all so happy with the new music we've recorded that we've all been caught out time to time. We mostly listen to it to come up with video clip ideas, live intros or anything else of the sorts - but if we didn't enjoy the music we're writing then there'd be no point releasing it, right?

Send Me Crazy was released to an extremely warm welcome, why was Chapters the perfect follow up?
I think Send Me Crazy was a bit of a bridging single for us. We didn't want to scare fans away with the jumpy pop vibe of Chapters, so we eased them into it. We were all a little nervous to hear what people thought of the new sound but the response has been overwhelming.

The Parks N Parties tour is well underway. How's the reception been to your acoustic sets?
They've exceeded our expectations by miles. Everyone seems to be having a great time. The fans love that they get to hang out in a much more casual environment, and we love getting to thank each and every one of them personally for their support. It's cool to play the new songs acoustically too for something a little different.

You've recently announced that Jackson is moving on from Forever Ends Here, what does this mean for the music here on in?
As sad as it is to see Jackson go, we can guarantee that we'll be continuing to release new music very shortly. We're in the process of locking in a new guitarist and already have music at the ready. We'll still be the same old FEH, just with a new friendly face to get used to.

Is there anything exciting coming up that you can give your fans a little sneak peek as of yet?
We've definitely got some exciting things up our sleeve but unfortunately we can't give away anything yet. You'll have to keep up to date with our social media to be the first to find out.

I also hear you've had a fair share of arguments about which One Direction member is the best. Care to share the winner of the argument?
I don't think we've ever come to an agreement. The conversation usually ends in Kane having a mental breakdown about Zayn leaving.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard || Review

Title: Beautiful Broken Things
Author: Sara Barnard
Release Date: 11th February, 2016
Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Buy the book: Book Depository 

I was brave...
She was reckless...
We were trouble...

Caddy and Rosie have always been inseparable. But that was before Suzanne. Now Caddy wants to be more than just the quiet one. She wants something to happen.

Suzanne is trying to escape her past and be someone different. Someone free

But sometimes downwards spirals have a momentum of their own.

And no one can break your heart like a best friend.

This book had everything that you could possible want for in YA Contemporary: heartache, friendship, trauma, family dynamics, and a whole bundle of tears and laughs and I-wish-I-could-hug-her moments in between. The dynamics between Caddy, Rosie and Suzanne were so honestly written that it honestly was a more interesting subject then the typical romance-inspired novel. It was a refreshing change to read a novel that truly grasped the difficulties of female friendships when you're in high school.

Caddy is a particularly interesting character to read about and I really enjoyed reading the book from her point of view. However she was also one of the most frustrating characters I have read. I emphasised with her feeling of being pushed aside in her friendship with Rosie (who hasn't felt like this at some point?) but she often came off as, well, kind of bratty to be honest. Her dislike of Suzanne felt baseless and undeserved.

Although what happened to Suzanne wasn't revealed until later in the book, I found her the character I was really rooting for. I wanted her to get through everything that had been thrown at her. Her ending left me wishing there were extra chapters - I really needed to know what happened to her. Without giving too much away, it was a realistic ending but I do wish it were happier.

Sara Barnard has crafted a story that so raw and honest and real that I couldn't put it down. The relationships and characters felt like they could've lived in the house down my street. And I'm positive that if you've lived through the trial of high school friendships, you'll fall in love with this story too. I wish I could reread it again for the first time, but I'm leaving that up to you instead.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

In Real Life || Blog Tour

Title: In Real Life
Author: Jessica Love
Release Date: 1st March, 2016
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books

In Real Life playlist - listen as you read!
"The story manages to find its heart when it focuses on Hannah and Nick's relationship. The warmth and intimacy of their friendship is convincing, and readers sighing over their long history will root for their relationship." Kirkus Reviews

"My best friend and I have never met.
We talk every day, on the phone or online, and he knows more about me than anyone. Like, deep into my soul. But we've never actually seen each other in real life.
Sometimes, when I'm talking to Nick, I wonder how we managed to get ourselves into such a bizarre, complicated friendship. At first glance, our relationship probably doesn't seem all that odd. Like right now, it's the Friday afternoon that kicks off the spring break of my senior year. I'm lying out next to my pool with my feet dangling in the chilly water, my back flat on concrete, and I'm talking to him on the phone. This is how I spend pretty much every Friday from 3:30 to 4:25-ish, before he goes off to band practice and I have one of my various school or family obligations. Sounds pretty normal.
But the thing is, Nick lives in a different state, 274 miles away. Yes, I looked it up.
"Ghost," he says, because he never calls me Hannah, "you know I will do anything for my best friend, and this is no exception. I'll have this girl killed for you without a second thought. Just give me twenty-four hours."
I laugh as I swish my feet back and forth in the pool. "There's no need to resort to murder. It's just a stupid student government trip. I'll be over it by the end of the week."
As tempting as it is to plot Aditi Singh's violent end, the only reason she applied to go to the national leadership conference when it should have been a given that the senior class president (aka me) was going was because I got into UCLA and she didn't, so a big ol' middle finger to her. But she can't see my middle finger, because she's in Washington, D.C., for spring break and I'm at home with no plans like a big loser.
"Well, if you change your mind," Nick says, "just let me know. That's how much our friendship means to me. The code word is 'Platypus'. Just say it, and - poof! - I'll make her disappear."
I sit up and pull my feet from the pool, crossing them in front of me. "And how can you do that?"
"Hey, I live in Vegas. I have connections to the mob. Everyone here does."
"You're a senior in high school, and you live in a tract home in Henderson. You're not exactly Al Pacino."
"You don't know. Everything I've told you for the past four years could be a front. I need to have a cover. No one suspects the quiet, nondescript white boy."
"You're right. There is a lot I don't know about you. I mean, there are any number of huge secrets you could be keeping from me." I say it just because I'm playing along, but it's not true at all. I'm pretty sure I know everything there is to know about Nick Cooper.
I know when my sister met his brother at a concert four years ago and they told us we should start talking online, he thought I was one of his brother's friends playing a joke on him until I e-mailed him a picture. I know in the middle of junior year, he shaved his head when his favourite English teacher started chemo. I know the gravelly scratch of his voice when he wakes up in the middle of the night to answer one of my random "I'm bored, talk to me" phone calls. I know the hole in the sleeve seam of the lucky Rage Against the Machine t-shirt he inherited from his brother, Alex, since I've seen so many pictures of it. I know his middle name (Anthony), the date and time he was born (September 24 at 3:58 A.M.), and his favorite color (gray). And he knows more about me than absolutely anyone else, even the über-embarrassing stuff. We've IM'd, texted, sent a million pictures, mailed each other packages, video-chatted, and talked on the phone.
We've just never been in the same place at the same time.
I don't think it's strange to be so close to someone I've never met. Yeah, he's in Nevada and I'm in Southern California, but I talk to him more than to people I've been in classes with since kindergarten. I do wish we could go to the movies together or something normal like that, but we watch the same movies at the same time and mock them over video chat, which is pretty much the same thing.
On the other end of the phone, his laugh abruptly and his voice changes. "Secrets? What kind of secrets could I have?"
"Who knows!" I try to sound shocked and serious, but I can't keep a laugh from creeping in. "For all I know, you do have a secret mob life. Do you have some sort of gangster name I'm supposed to call you?"
His voice lightens again when he realizes I'm joking. "Oh yeah. Knuckles Nick. Or, no. Wait. Nick the Click."
"What does that even mean?"
"I know nothing about mob names, Nick the Click. But rhyming names do make mobsters seem a bit less murder-y."
There's a shuffle, a thump, and a squeak on his end of the phone, and I imagine him collapsing backwards onto his twin bed. "I just hate that you're still bummed over missing out on the trip."
"It's not that I'm bummed, it's just...I followed all the rules, Nick. I did exactly what I was supposed to do. Serving four years as class president means I go on that trip, not Aditi Singh. Onetime vice-presidents don't get to go! It's supposed to be my year. She broke the rules, but she got picked. How do you break all the rules and get what you want like that? It isn't fair."
"Well, you know what they say...'Life's not fair?'"
"Well that, too. But I was thinking rules are made to be broken."

CREDIT: In Real Life by Jessica Love; Courtesy of Thomas Dunne Books

Friday, March 11, 2016

A Tangle of Gold || Book Review || Blog Tour

Title: A Tangle of Gold
Author: Jaclyn Moriarty
Release Date: 23rd February, 2016
Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Buy the book: Book Depository

The Kingdom of Cello is in crisis. Princess Ko's deception has been revealed and the Elite have taken control, placing the Princess, Samuel and Sergio under arrest and ordering their execution. Elliot is being held captive by the Hostiles and Colour storms are raging through the land. The Cello Wind has been silent for months.

Plans are in place to bring the remaining Royals home from the World but then all communication between Cello and the World will cease. That means Madeleine will lose Elliot, forever.

Madeleine and Elliot must solve the mystery of Cello before it is too late.

Jaclyn Moriarty's Colours of Madeleine series is one that I fell in love with slowly. Although the first two books (A Corner of White and The Cracks in the Kingdom) at times felt like they dragged and at points I did nearly pop them both back in to my TBR pile. Luckily for me I persevered, and I was rewarded with this final, stunning installment, A Tangle of Gold.

A big criticism I have with lots of books is that I have them figured out before the twist is revealed. This was completely the opposite with A Tangle of Gold. I definitely didn't expect the story to head in the direction that it did. A massive kudos to Moriarty for this, you got me good with this one.

Every character in this book was so realistic and well-rounded. I felt like I, too, had fallen into the world of Cello. My personal favourite to read about was Princess Ko. Not only did she run the Kingdom of Cello single-handedly, she was also a fiery young woman. Throughout the books, I felt the frustration towards her from the other characters, but when it was revealed what her plan was my reaction was simply 'of course'.

Elliot, although one of favourite characters throughout the first two installments, felt different for a majority of this book. It made me feel unsure about him and confused, such a big change in his personality appeared unnecessary. However this is eventually resolved.

This was by far my favourite of the three books in this trilogy. It had everything I could possibly wish for in a concluding novel. I've heard it said that novels in a series get worse, but this is absolutely not the case with A Tangle of Gold. If you are, like myself, struggling with either of the first two novels keep going. I promise, it will absolutely be worth it. A Tangle of Gold is the perfect, if slightly neat, ending to a world that I wish I could visit for the first time all over again.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

A Tangle of Gold || Blog Tour

The Kingdom of Cello is in crisis. Princess Ko's deception has been revealed and the Elite has taken control, placing the Princess, Samuel and Sergio under arrest and ordering their execution. Elliot is being held captive by the Hostiles and Colour storms are raging through the land. The Cello Wind has been silent for months.

Plans are in place to bring the remaining Royals home from the World but then all communication between Cello and the World will cease. That means Madeleine will lose Elliot, forever.

Madeleine and Elliot must solve the mystery of Cello before it is too late.

What is it about colours that inspire you to write a trilogy based on them?
Colours are underrated. They are fragments of light, the visible part of the electromagnetic spectrum, pieces of flying energy. They can have a profound effect on your mood and emotions and are used in therapy. They can also have physical and biological effects: factory owners have painted the colours of their walls a rich orange and found that the workers feel warmer. So they saved on heating bills. When we're kids we are surrounded by colour: crayons, toys and blocks. As we get older, we write in black and white, and often dress in greys and blacks. We lose the power and creativity of colours. (But the original inspiration came from looking down at the coloured textas on my table in a café and deciding they could be the monsters in the Kingdom of Cello.)

Is there a colour that you feel now should have made an appearance but didn't?
That's an interesting question and makes me wonder if your own favourite colour was missing from the books? If so, do not worry, it is somewhere in the Kingdom of Cello. There were a lot of colours that missed out: I drew up a giant table with as many colours as I could think of and all their forms and effects, and there wasn't room for all of them in the books. I definitely wanted to include Cobalt Blue as that was the colour of the small bowl of fruit and chocolate that I always had beside me when I was writing. But I think it missed out.

Do you have a favourite colour?
My favourite colour is yellow, so I was disappointed when Lemon Yellow turned out to be lethal.

Was Madeleine's story one that required a lot of planning on your part?
Yes. I had Madeleine and the Kingdom of Cello in the back of my mind for years before I started planning, and then I spent about a year planning the whole trilogy. Between books 1 and 2, I spent a year refining the plan. I probably went a bit mad planning this.

Which character do you have the biggest soft spot for and why?
I like Samuel because he's so hopeless and well-meaning and I like his Olde Quainte accent. But I always feel most protective and fond of the flawed characters - the one who make readers mad - so I would choose Princess Ko and Belle. (I can never just give one answer, sorry.)

Describe the final book, A Tangle of Gold, for me in a sentence?
This is a really good book: the author must be lovely and she is hopefully getting a lot better at not losing her keys and her phone.

What do you think is the most important part to get spot on when writing a novel?
The ending. Even if it's not spot on, it should make sense and (this is controversial) shouldn't suddenly kill off the main character in an avalanche. The reader has invested a lot of time and emotion into the main character and will feel cheated by the avalanche even if it's true that avalanches sometimes come along out of the blue. I've read a few novels that I found dazzling, breathtaking, magnificent as I was reading them and then, in the last two pages, something went awry, or askew, and I completely turned against them. I might be a bit ruthless, I guess, but I feel like a bad ending has a retrospective effect undermining all the good before it.

Is Madeleine's story finished now or is there a chance that you may revisit her in the future?
I definitely like the idea of returning to the Kingdom of Cello one day. I've spent so much time there in the last few years that it seems like a betrayal of the place not to return. But I've started four different books and I just have to quickly finish them all before I do that.

Jaclyn Moriarty grew up in Sydney's north-
west and studied Law and English on three continents - at Sydney University in Australia, Yale in the US and Cambridge in England. She spent four years working as a media and entertainment lawyer and now writes full time so she can sleep in each day. She lives in Sydney with her son Charlie and is learning the cello.