Ten Albums and EPs From the First Half of 2014 You Should Own

Choosing Records

We’re halfway through 2014 and it’s already shaping up to be a good’un in the world of folk, alt-country and acoustic music with some ripper albums released in the last 6 months. While we normally save our “best of” lists for the end of the end of the year we thought it might be worthwhile to give you a list of what we’re digging so far and what you should be adding to your collection (if you haven’t already).

Stay GoldFirst Aid Kit

Stay Gold

First Aid Kit’s 2012 album The Lion’s Roar took the folk world by storm and Stay Gold is more of the good stuff. Filled with lush arrangements, beautiful harmonies and their trademark cascading lyrics, Stay Gold transports you to a 70s summer somewhere on the west coast of the USA. Devine.

WanderlustDavidson Brothers

Wanderlust

Despite being a fan of the Davidson Brothers for a number of years it took me until this year’s National Folk Festival to see them live – and they blew me away. They’re not only some of the best musicians – of any genre – in Australia but they’re also amazing bluegrass songwriters. They gave me a sneak peak at Wanderlust a few days before it was released and I just couldn’t stop listening to it.

AubergineGreen Mohair Suits

Aubergine

With their new EP Aubergine the Green Mohair Suits have well and truly shaken off their original standing as a tongue-in-cheek side project for a bunch of highly respected Sydney artists and become a must seen act live. I honestly wasn’t expecting to like Aubergine as much as I do but I was so impressed with just how tight it is, how good the songwriting is and how much fun these guys are having taking Bluegrass seriously.

Any Other MorningJack McNeill and Charlie Heys

Any Other Morning

I sometimes feel like I may be the only one in Australia listening to UK duo Jack McNeill and Charlie Heys but I’m doing everything in my power to get the word out here. Any Other Morning is a another contemporary folk gem, combining fiddle, guitar and the duo’s beautiful voices in some of my favourite tracks of the year. Buy this album now.

Post TropicalJames Vincent McMorrow

Post Tropical

When a preview copy of Post Tropical landed in my mailbox last year I have to admit I was bindsided. Up until this point I had always known James Vincent McMorrow as an acoustic singer-songwriter, and here was his debut album full of blissed out synthesizers and drum samples. Is James Vincent McMorrow folk enough for Timber and Steel now? Probably not, and if he stays in this musical vein we’ll probably stop covering him in the future. But Post Tropical is just too wonderful to ignore.

Winter PickJustin Bernasconi

Winter Pick

I’m going to stop referring to Justin Bernasconi as “the guitarist and singer from The Stillsons” because with Winter Pick he’s showed himself to be a solo artist to watch. Quite simply Justin Bernasconi is one of the best folk/country/blues guitarists in the business right now and Winter Pick is full to the brim with awe inspiring instrumentals and deceptively laidback songs. The more I listen to this album the more I get into it.

First MindNick Mulvey

First Mind

When he first came to my attention as part of the UK Communion “family” of artists, I picked Nick Mulvey as an singer-songwriter to watch. First Mind is one of those albums that I feel is going to be a slow burner in this country – it’s been out for a while but people probably won’t pick up on it until after Mulvey visits our shores for Splendour in the Grass. Which is a shame because it’s such a beautiful, fully formed piece of art and deserves to be on high rotation everywhere.

A Dotted LineNickel Creek

Dotted Line

I’m not sure many people thought there’d be another Nickel Creek album. With all three members busy with multitude other projects we’d kind of assumed Nickel Creek had been left behind. So I’m glad Chris Thile, Sean Watkins and Sara Watkins decided another turn around the block was in order as A Dotted Line is a masterpiece of modern bluegrass and country music. When you get three virtuosos in a room together you can’t go wrong.

One Up, Two DownOne Up, Two Down

One Up

The self-titled EP from George Jackson, Andrew Small and Daniel Watkins is a piece of pure folk gold. It’s a shame that Small lives in the states as the opportunities to see One Up, Two Down are limited, but if you do get a chance to see them grab it with both hands. On the surface this is a bluegrass release but these guys are so well versed in the folk traditions that you can feel celtic, blues and country influences creeping in to make a wonderful, folky mess.

WhispersPassenger

Passenger

How do you follow up your last record after you went number one in over twenty countries? If you’re Passenger you do what you do best and write some stunning story songs. I feel like Whispers is Passenger’s most slickly produced album since he took the moniker solo, but it doesn’t suffer from too much sheen with his lyrics and songwriting still front and centre. It helps that “Heart’s on Fire”, my favourite live track for a while now, has made this album

Happy 4th Birthday Timber and Steel!

Bagpipe Birthday

Roland Turner: “What’d you say you played?”
Llewyn Davis: “Folk songs”
Roland Turner: “Folk songs, I thought you said you was a musician”
Inside Llewyn Davis

Late last year the mainstream Australian country music scene made the headlines with the resignation of John Williamson as the president of the Country Music Association of Australia and the withdrawal of Troy Cassar-Daley and Adam Harvey from the 2014 Golden Guitar nominations. Williamson’s resignation was accompanied by a letter published in the The Northern Daily Leader where he surmised that “it’s as though the Golden Guitar Awards are the American Country Music Awards of Australia. If we are NOT respected as a legitimate organization to promote original Australian Country Music, I cannot be associated with it any longer. Mainstream is really now American style country rock”. Cassar-Daley and Harvey’s withdrawal from the awards, where their duet album The Great Country Songbook had been nominated six times, came in reaction to Williamson’s resignation and was meant to ensure the stoush didn’t overshadow country music’s night of nights.*

American folk singer Pokey LaFarge took aim at English singer-songwriter Billy Bragg during a TEDx talk, taking offence with an article Bragg had written citing the influence of the UK’s mid twentieth century skiffle movement on the modern US Aemricana scene. Bragg, who was in Australia touring and on the same bill as LaFarge at WOMADelaide, responded via social media where the disagreement played out. Bragg and LaFarge apparently spoke backstage at WOMADelaide, although no resolution was ever reached.**

Both incidents were the result of pre-concieved ideas of what folk and country music is, that it exists as a static, classifiable entity that can be kept perfect in a box until the end of time.

But that’s not folk music.

Folk music is about evolution. Folk music is about tradition informing songwriting informing tradition. We know what folk music sounds like, what it looks like, what it feels like, but the moment you tie a string around that and say “this is what folk music is” someone else will come along and blow your preconceptions out of the water.

I’m not going to pretend I know where folk music is going to go in the next few years. There’s so much amazing music from the past, present and future that I’m yet to discover and there’s so much more still to learn about this music. I’m going to more festivals and concerts than I ever have before. I’m listening to more music than I ever have before. And I’m only just scratching the surface of this loose collections of ragtag genres that fall under the umbrella of folk.

The past four years writing Timber and Steel have been amazing and there’s plenty more to come. Seeing live music, hunting out brand new tracks, interacting with other folk fans all over the web is my passion, and while that remains a fact so too will Timber and Steel remain.

And while I can’t say for sure what I’ll be covering, what direction the blog will take in 2014, at no point will I be trying to define what folk music is, because that will be the point where I’ve lost, the point at which I’ve wrapped myself in my own comfortable blanket and shut out the rest of the world. So for now meet me up the back of the next folk gig – I’ll be the guy nodding along to the music with a smile on my face.

Happy 4th Birthday Timber and Steel!

Gareth Hugh Evans
Editor in Chief

*Read more about the John Williamson, Troy Cassar-Daley, Adam Harvey and the Golden Guitars row on the Sydney Morning Herald here
**Read more about the Billy Bragg and Pokey LaFarge saga on The Music here

The National Folk Festival: A Survival Guide

National Folk Festival

So you’ve chosen to spend this weekend at The National Folk Festival. Well done. But now the real work begins. If you ask anyone who’s ever been to The National, the festival is such a large beast that no two people every experience it in the same way. I know people who just go for the dance program and never see a single band. Some people permanently set up shop in the Session Bar or campground and spend the weekend playing music with their mates. And if you’re a certain member of my family* you’ll park yourself at one of the wine bars and let the festival come to you.

If you’re experiencing the festival for the first time (or were so overwhelmed with the event last time) let Timber and Steel take you through our step by step survival guide for the National Folk Festival.

Planning Planning Planning

Blackboard

The National Folk Festival is not a festival of headliners or big name acts and sometimes it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the artists and venues on the lineup. I recommend you take a moment to go through the program at the start, marking off artists that sound interesting and checking out where and when they’re playing. Most artists will perform two or three or even four times so with some careful planning you should be able to see almost everyone you want to. I think it’s a great idea to go and see as many artists that you’ve never heard of as possible – I can guarantee you’ll walk away with a new favourite.

Talk of the Town

Whispering

Inevitably a number of bands will build a buzz over the festival resulting in their shows later in the weekend filling up very very. It’s a good idea to keep your ear to the ground to see who’s buzzing – mainly because you might want to see them yourself and also so you know to get to their gigs nice and early.

Bringing it all Back Home

Vinyl

The festival shop is a great place to pick up albums for all the artists appearing at The National Folk Festival (especially for picking up albums that are not available in stores or digitally) but if you want an up close and personal experience most artists will sell (and sign) their albums side of stage post gig. It’s a nice way to get your hands on something to take back home and to thank the artists personally for their music.

Breakfast of Champions

Poetry

The Poet’s Breakfast at the Flute ‘n’ Fiddle each morning from 8:30am is a festival institution. If you can drag yourself out of your tent that early there’s nothing better than grabbing a coffee and a bacon and egg roll and treating your ears to some verse. Poetry is all part of a balanced breakfast.

Dance Then, Wherever You May Be

Folk Dancing

As a music lover I have to admit that I don’t spend much time on the National Folk Festival’s dance program – but I know so many people who love it. There’s a lot of opportunity to participate in the dance program as well with workshops running all day every day catering to a bunch of different styles and a bunch of different experience levels. You never know – I may just find myself at beginners swing dancing this year just for something different…

Hurry Up!

Blackboard

One of my absolute favourite things about the National Folk Festival is the blackboard stages and shows. Basically anyone can sign up (if they get in early enough) to play at one of these venues giving emerging artists a chance to flex their musical muscles as well as providing a platform for established artists to try out new material. I’ve made some amazing discoveries at blackboard shows over the years and seen some amazing “secret” performances – make time to duck your head into these venues for a truly magical experience.

Go West, Life is Peaceful There

Western Australia

Every year The National Folk Festival features artists from a different Australian state or territory and in 2014 it’s Western Australia’s turn. Make sure you check out some of WA’s best loved folkies this year including Bernard Carney and David Hyams, Damien Thornbar and the Orphans, Gina Williams and Guy Ghouse, Iris, John Bennett, Justin Walshe Duo, Kerriane Cox & Albert Wiggan, The Pepperjacks and more. There’s a bunch of WA based showcase gigs on all over the weekend so make sure you get along to one.

Our Weapons Are Our Instruments, Made from Timber and Steel

Inside Instruments

As a musician probably the most dangerous part of The National is the instrument makers tent – one of these days I’m going to walk away from the festival with a beautiful, handcrafted fiddle that I just didn’t really need. If you have more self control than me or are actually in the market for a new instrument you should definitely get lost in the instrument makers tent for an afternoon.

There is Power in a Union

Union

The folk movement and the union movement have a long and proud shared history, and that is celebrated each year at The Union Concert, a showcase of working and protest songs. This year The Union Concert takes place on Saturday 19th April in the Budawang and will feature performances from Riff Raff Marching Band , Margret RoadKnight, Danny Spooner and The Lurkers.

All Shook Up

Elvis

Now this is one you’ll definitely have to get to early. The Infinite Song Contest sees festival artists from all over the weekend putting their own spin on the songs of a single, classic artist – and this year it’s all about Elvis. There are heats at 2:10pm in the Marquee each day for the contest with the winners of each heat going on to perform in the final at The Budawang at 12:50pm on Monday. The Infinite Song Contest has been a massive success over the last few years and is always standing room only.

We Sing With One Voice

Choir

If you want to get involved in the performing side of the festival, joining the Festival Choir is a great place to start. The choir rehearses each day at 1pm in The Terrace with a final performance on Monday 21st April in the Budawang at 6:30pm – so yeah, being in the Festival Choir gets you on biggest stage at The Festival.

Workshop It

Teaching

Another great way to get involved is to check out one of the dozens of workshops going on at the festival throughtout the weekend. From songwriting to traditional music to poetry and beyond there’s workshops to suit everyone – many taken by some of the more prominent artists on the program. Check out the schedule for the Song Room, Acoustic Lounge, The Bally and even the Session Bar for details.

We Are Young, We Are Free

Child Music

The National Folk Festival is a huge supporter of the younger generation getting into folk music and a big part of that is the Folk Alliance Australia Youth Concert held in the Majestic at 10:30am on Sunday 20th April. The concert also features the presentation of the Young Folk Performer of the Year Award and is the perfect place to catch the next rising star on the scene.

Feed the Birds, Tuppence a Bag

Minstrel

Buskers are a mainstay at the National Folk Festival and it seems that by the end of the weekend every child under 12 has cottoned on to the fact that there’s money to be made by standing on the side of a pathway playing a tin whistle. But if you can wade through the opportunists there’s plenty of amazing musicians, poets and artists, both young and old, that are worthy of your spare change.

But He Took Most Delight in the Slipjigs and Reels

Session

And after you’ve done all that? Well the most important part of the festival is yet to come – The Session Bar! It doesn’t kick off properly until late in the evening and it’s loud, uncomfortable and smells a little funny, but The Session Bar is the heart and soul of The National and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Make sure you dedicate at least one night (but more likely three or four) to staying up late, taking in the wonderful music that is produced in these impromptu jams and even get involved if you’re that way inclined. It’s after midnight when the magic truly happens.

So there you go – a full weekend’s adventure is ahead of you but hopefully we’ve given you a guide to make it out the other side alive. Enjoy the festival, stay safe and let’s catch up in the Session Bar for a pint or two shall we?

For more information on The National Folk Festival check out the official site here.

Happy St Patrick’s Day – The Craic live at The Quiet Man

The Craic
Image Courtesy of the National Museum of Australia

A couple of years ago the National Museum of Australia put together a series of videos on Youtube, hosted by Jimeoin, on Irish Music in Australia. Titled “The Craic live at The Quiet Man” the series covers tunes, songs and dance and really celebrates the Irish tradition in this country.

As it’s St Patrick’s Day we thought we’d bring you the entire series to provide you with a soundtrack for the day.

The Best Folky Christmas Songs of 2013

Carol Singers

It’s Christmas Eve which means we have one last tradition to attend to – the annual Timber and Steel list of the best folky Christmas songs of the year. If you’re a constant reader of Timber and Steel you’ll know our love of Christmas music, both traditional and new and as usual there are some amazing gems this year.

We hope you have a safe and merry Christmas wherever you find yourself this year. We look forward to folking with you in the New Year!

Nick Lowe – “I Was Born In Bethlehem”
Punk and new wave legend Nick Lowe has embraced his inner folky singer-songwriter for his Christmas album Quality Street: A Seasonal Selection For All The Family. The album is a mixture of traditional and contemporary Christmas songs with this track, “I Was Born In Bethlehem”, penned by Lowe himself.

Fabian Holland – “Christmas In Jail, A’int That a Pain”
Singer-songwriter Fabian Holland has been joining the Albion Christmas Band (Simon Nicol, Kellie While, Simon Care and Ashley Hutchings) on their UK tour dates celebrating 15 years of Christmas celebrations. Holland has offered up his own Christmas song for the occasion, the bluesy “Christmas In Jail, A’int That a Pain”.

Bella Hardy – “I Would Bring You The Moon”
English folk singer Bella Hardy released her Christmas single “I Would Bring You The Moon” in November, a follow up to last year’s Christmas album Bright Morning Star. The single also comes with two other tracks – “The Christmas Waltz” and “O Holy Night”.

Bellowhead – “Christmas Bells”
Based on the words of an ancient mummers play traditionally performed around the Christmas period, “Christmas Bells” is this year’s offering from Bellowhead complete with home made video. The downloadable single for this track also comes with a version of “Jingle Bells”.

Alessi’s Ark – “Joy To The World”
The first in our picks from the annual For Folk’s Sake It’s Christmas compilation, this is a really sweet reimagining of the traditional “Joy To The World” from Alessi’s Ark.

Stornoway – “Gondwanaland”
Another take from For Folk’s Sake It’s Christmas Stornoway’s “Gondwanaland” originally appeared on their album I Saw You Blink but gets the Christmas tick of approval due to its many wintery lyrics (they are after all a northern hemisphere band).

Left With Pictures – “The Coldest Night”
For the Left With Pictures contribution to the For Folk’s Sake It’s Christmas album, “The Coldest Night”, the band have actually made a really sweet, vintage style music video with scenes of Christmas in Sweden. This track also appears on the Highline Records compilation album Festivus 2.

Laish – “Silentish Night”
The final inclusion from For Folk’s Sake It’s Christmas is the Laish track “Silentish Night”, a rewording of the Christmas classic “Silent Night”. This may be a rather bleak look at Christmas but given the scenes in our major cities in the lead up to the big day it hits pretty close to home.

Josienne Clarke & Ben Walker – “We Three Kings”
Josienne Clarke & Ben Walker have had a massive year following the success their album Fire and Fortune, especially in their native UK. As a follow up Josienne Clarke & Ben Walker have quietly released an album of traditional Christmas tracks titled Midwinter, the proceeds of which go to Unicef’s Children of Syria Appeal (you can buy it here). Every song on the album is a gem but we’ve chosen “We Three Kings” as this seems to be getting the most buzz on the blogs.

Land of Leland – “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming”
I came across the Land of Leland track “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming” thanks to the excellent Grass Clippings blog. Land of Leland is the moniker of Brooklyn based folk singer Justin Keller and the track is from his mini-album Christmas Time.

Gareth Davies-Jones – “Love Came Down”
Gareth Davies-Jones, the Northern Irish folk singer with one of the Welsh-est names I’ve ever heard, released his Christmas album Nine Lessons last year so this one sneaks in just because I’ve only just discovered it. I love Davies-Jones’ accented singing voice on this track – beautiful.

Yetis – “Do You Hear What I Hear?”
Yetis were a real discovery for me this year – I caught them at a Little Features I think and was mesmerised. They didn’t make a lot of my end of year lists because they didn’t release much music this year but I’m really hoping that changes in 2014. I love that they chose “Do You Hear What I Hear?” as a Christmas song to cover this year – so good!

Gaoler’s Daughter – “Cuddling A Cigarette”
London four-piece Gaoler’s Daughter have contributed this slide-guitar filled, indie-folk gem to the charity Christmas album It’s Coming On Christmas.

Paper Aeroplanes – “In The Bleak Midwinter”
Also from the It’s Coming On Christmas compilation, this traditional carol gets a beautiful modern take from Paper Aeroplanes – a band that is a firm favourite of Timber and Steel contributing editor KT Bell.

De Temps Antan – “Dans la mémoire longtemps”
I don’t speak French but this clip from Québécois trad trio De Temps Antan, “Dans la mémoire longtemps” or “In The Long Memory” (thanks Google translate), has a Christmas tree in it so that’s Christmasy enough for me.

Imogen Clark – “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”
Sydney singer-songwriter Imogen Clark just made the cut this year releasing her jazzy take on “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” just days before Christmas eve.

Tom Mitchell – “Fairytale of New York”
A big thank you to blog Cover Lay Down for bringing this version of the classic “Fairytale of New York” to my attention. I can’t think of a better way to cap off this year’s list. Merry Christmas!

Gareth Hugh Evans’ Top 25 Tracks of 2013

2013

Are you sick of end of year lists yet? Well stay patient because we’ve got one more for you. Our esteemed Editor in Chief Gareth Hugh Evans has picked his top 25 songs of the year.

There were so many amazing tracks released this year and so many deserving songs didn’t make the cut. Check out what 25 songs Gareth picked and then dive back through the Timber and Steel archives for more amazing music from 2013.

1. Melody Pool – “Henry”
This was the song that made me fall in love with Melody Pool when I saw her the Gulgong Folk Festival way back in January. It’s no wonder this song won Pool the songwriter award at the Telstra Road to Discovery – it really is something special. If you haven’t heard Melody Pool’s amazing album The Hurting Scene from which this track is taken then do yourself a favour and pick it up right now.
Read Timber and Steel’s Spotlight on Melody Pool here

2. William Fitzsimmons – “Centralia”
This song is so recent it hasn’t actually officially been released yet (the video is an acoustic version of the track which is due to appear on next year’s album Lions) but it’s just stunning. From the moment I first heard this on Youtube I was in love – I can’t wait until William Fitzsimmons releases an entire album full of music just like this next year.
Read details of the upcoming William Fitzsimmons album Lions here

3. Anaïs Mitchell & Jefferson Hamer – “Geordie (Child 209)”
Anaïs Mitchell and Jefferson Hamer have made traditional music cool again. Releasing Child Ballads, an album of songs collected by the great Francis James Child back in the 1800s, the two singers are continuing the folk process and reinventing these songs for another generation of music lovers. Sublime.
Read Mackajay’s review of Child Ballads here

4. Mumford and Sons – “Hopeless Wanderer”
I have to admit that “Hopeless Wanderer” was not an immediate favourite of mine from Babel. I initially found its choppy dynamics and rhythm off-putting and to me the song was only redeemed by the harmonies in the chorus. But the song has grown on me throughout 2013 and now it’s a firm favourite – definitely helped by what is probably the best folky film clip of the year.
Read Gareth Hugh Evans’ feelings on the Mumford and Sons hiatus here

5. Vance Joy – “Riptide”
“Riptide” has definitely been a slow burner for Vance Joy but it’s finished the year super strongly and scored him accolades, record contracts and any number of festival spots. And with good reason – this is a really really good song.
Read Gareth Hugh Evans’ review of Vance Joy’s Splendour in the Grass appearance here

6. The Milk Carton Kids – “Honey, Honey”
When I saw The Milk Carton Kids earlier this year I would have to say it was the funniest show I’ve ever been to. In contrast to their sweet, harmonic folk songs that have drawn them comparisons to Simon and Garfunkel and The Everly Brothers, The Milk Carton Kids’ between song banter is some of the driest, rolling-in-the-aisles funny stuff you’ll ever hear. It also helps that they write songs like this.
Read Thom Owen Miles’ Review of The Ash & Clay from The Milk Carton Kids here

7. Emma Davis – “Stand Tall”
I love this song so much. A great song by itself – that chorus is something else – it’s heightened buy the driving percussion and understated harmonies. This song draws you in and wraps you up. Thank you for making music Emma Davis – the world’s a better place for it.
Read details about Emma Davis’ “Stand Tall” video here

8. Tolka – “Dr. Gilbert’s”
I’ve been waiting for a trad band to come along and take my breath away this year, and lo and behold along comes Tolka. These guys are making Celtic music exciting again – and they’re so tight you could bounce a tenor banjo off their arrangments. Lovely stuff.
Read Bill Quinn’s interview with Tolka here

9. Sam Amidon – “As I Roved Out”
No one reinterprets traditional music like Sam Amidon. He deconstructs these songs and builds them up into something new and very very special. This track in particular will astound you – and those drums? I love those drums!
Read Gareth Hugh Evans’ interview with Sam Amidon here

10. Lachlan Bryan feat. Kasey Chambers – “Whistle and Waltz”
This clip made it’s appearance about a third of the way through the year, well after the album that it’s from, Shadow of the Gun, was released and just before Lachlan Bryan started promoting his new album Black Coffee. I love the accordion on this and Kasey Chambers’ backing vocals are superb. But it’s the chorus that makes “Whistle and Waltz” – so simple yet so perfect.
Read details of the new Lachlan Bryan album Black Coffee here

11. Laura Marling – “Master Hunter”
This is one of the first tracks that Laura Marling revealed from her 2013 album Once I Was An Eagle – taking all of the power and sweetness of her previous work and channeling it through a Dylan-esque prisim full of snarling, rhythmic, free-flowing melodies and Bo Diddley beats. She’s one of the most prolific artists we cover and everything Laura Marling produces is better than what comes before.
Read Timber and Steel’s combined review of Laura Marling’s Once I Was An Eagle here

12. Bear’s Den – “Isaac”
Finally Bear’s Den fulfilled they’re promise in 2013, releasing two outstanding EPs – Agape and Within/Without and shining a spotlight on the incredible talents of Andrew Davie, Kev Jones and Joey Haynes. It’s about time boys – keep it up!
Read Gareth Hugh Evans’ interview with Bear’s Den here

13. Rosie Catalano feat. Jack Carty – “Hearts”
Rosie Catalano sent me the unmastered versions of the tracks on her Dreams Are Just Movies EP and even in their raw form I knew this song was a standout. I love the plucked strings in the the verses, the subtle percussion and Jack Carty leaving his falsetto at the door for some pitch perfect backing vocals.
Read details of Rosie Catalano’s EP Dreams Are Just Movies here

14. Fanny Lumsden & The Thrillseekers – “Sea Elephant School”
I think this is Fanny Lumsden’s tightest track to date – dynamic, driving and definitely toe-tap worthy. I’ve liked Lumsden’s music for a while but with “Sea Elephant School” I feel like she’s really finding her stride as a songwriter and a storyteller.
Read Gareth Hugh Evans’ interview with Fanny Lumsden here

15. Boy Outside – “River Runs To The Sea”
The moment Boy Outside added a rhythm section to his dark, alt-country sound something just clicked for me. He writes songs that cry out for a band (even one as restrained as in this track) and the result is beautiful. The video for “River Runs To The Sea”, shot in Western NSW, just adds a depth to the track – really lovely music.
Read Gareth Hugh Evans’ interview with Boy Outside here

16. Volcano Choir – “Byegone”
I love the way everyone pretended they already knew that Justin Vernon had a side project when Volcano Choir released their Reprave album this year. This track snuck up on me thanks to a couple of overseas blogs but I’m so glad it stuck. There’s something epic about this track and Vernon’s voice is in all it’s Phil-Collins-double-tracked-vocals glory here.
Read more details about Volcano Choir here

17. Mustered Courage – “Cruel Alibis”
When Mustered Courage banjo player and lead singer Nick Keeling handed me an unofficial copy of the band’s album Powerlines at the start of the year I lapped it up. These guys are one of the best bands in the country and their latest long player is testament to the amazing music they’re producing. “Cruel Alibis” is a definite highlight from Powerlines and while I’ve seen them perform it live a hundred times or more I can’t help but get excited every time the full band bursts into the second verse.
Read Gareth Hugh Evans interview with Mustered Courage here

18. Arbori – “Polar Bear Swim”
I’m so glad Arbori just completed a successful crowdfunding campaign to put together a new EP next year. The speed at which these guys release music is frustrating (sorry Steve!) – but mainly because it’s so stunning. “Polar Bear Swim” is another Arbori and the contemporary dance heavy video is simply beautiful.
Read about the debut of Arbori’s “Polar Bear Swim” here

19. Boy & Bear – “Southern Sun”
I think a few people expected Boy & Bear to morph into the Australian Mumford and Sons for their 2013 sophomore album Harlequin Dream, but instead they’ve chosen to channel 70s Laurel Canyon, and to great effect. “Southern Sun” was the first single from the album and it still sounds up as one of the best.
Read details of Boy & Bear’s new album Harlequin Dream here

20. Castlecomer – “Forrest”
I think I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again – Castlecomer’s “Forrest” reminds me so much of “Life in a Northern Town” by The Dream Academy. Not that that’s a bad think – I love “Life in a Northern Town” by The Dream Academy. I love the African sounds to “Forrest” and just how uplifted it makes me feel.
Read details of the Castlecomer EP Lone Survivour here

21. Sam Buckingham – “Follow You”
In “Follow You” Sam Buckingham has crafted a near-perfect indie-pop song. The melody is catchy, the lyrics are simple yet touching and it’s just so damn catchy. There are so many folky singer-songwriters trying to achieve what Sam Buckingham seems to have effortlessly produced here.
Read Gareth Hugh Evans’ interview with Sam Buckingham here

22. Marcus Mumford & Oscar Isaac – “Fare Thee Well (Dink’s Song)”
I can’t tell you how excited I am by the upcoming Cohen Brothers film Inside Llewyn Davis, set during the 1960s New York folk revival. The film will be in our theatres next year but the soundtrack – featuring the film’s actors Oscar Isaac, Justin Timberlake and Carey Mulligan along with artists like Marcus Mumford & Oscar Isaac and Punch Brothers – is out now and is very very good. This version of “Fare Thee Well (Dink’s Song)” is probably my favourite track on the soundtrack.
Read details of the Inside Llewyn Davis soundtrack here

23. Gregory Alan Isakov – “Saint Valentine”
My love affair with Gregory Alan Isakov was solidified this year with the release of his superlative new album The Weatherman. “Saint Valentine” was the first single from the album and has managed to earworm its way into my life. A stunning song from a stunning songwriter.
Read details of Gregory Alan Isakov’s album The Weatherman here

24. The Little Stevies – “Diamonds For Your Tea”
Having gone through a bunch of changes in the lead up to their new album Diamonds For Your Tea and the result is their most mature album to date. The album’s title track and first single perfectly encapsulates the type of music The Little Stevies are producing at the moment and once again demonstrates their beautiful harmonies.
Read Gareth Hugh Evans’ interview with The Little Stevies here

25. Jack Carty & Casual Psychotic – “What Does Your Heart Say?”
When Jack Carty told me his 2013 collaboration with producer Casual Psychotic was probably not going to be folky enough for me I took him at face value and ignored the Predictable Crisis of Modern Life EP longer than I should of. When I finally got around to listening to it I realised what I was missing – and Carty’s trademark storytelling style is all over it. The EP’s single, “What Does Your Heart Say?”, is one of the folkier tracks and is the perfect way to finish this list.
Watch Jack Carty live at The Front in Canberra here

Timber and Steel’s Artists’ Top Albums of 2013

Listening to Records

In what is now an end of year tradition Timber and Steel are following up our own list of the top albums of 2013 with a piece that opens the floor to some of our favourite artists.

We reached out to musicians far and wide, from big international names to local up-and-comers, to get their thoughts on the best albums and EPs of the year and the result is once again incredible. If you ever wanted to know what the artists you listen to are listening to then look no further as we present to you Timber and Steel’s Artists’ Top Albums of 2013:

Back on the MilksThomas Busby (Busby Marou)
The Starry FieldBack on the Milks
It’s almost impossible to slot this album into a genre because it covers almost all styles yet somehow it works perfectly. Mark Myers could be from another planet, because this seems to be a soundtrack from another world.

Picture of YouDarren Cross (Jep & Dep, Darren Cross Band)
Guy ClarkMy Favorite Picture of You
Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt have to be mentioned in the same sentence. The masters of the Texan Troubadour Genre- minimal powerful melodies and stories that change your mood-help you live. Townes is no longer around – Guy Clark is in his 70s, his songs getting stronger and more powerful. These guys wrote the rule book. Guy Clark’s latest album is amazing. In a world of autotune – Racscal Flatts / Taylor Swift mediocrity – a true country artist without any of the rhinestone cowboy bullshit is still alive and kicking and relevant and still breaking our hearts. I dare you to listen to “My Favorite Picture of You” or “Hell Bent On A Heartache” and not feel something. A true Inspiration.

Sam AmidonDevon Leger (Hearth Music)
Sam AmidonBright Sunny South
Because Sam Amidon is the most visionary folk artist of his generation. He understands musical traditions deep into his bones, and though he goes very far afield in his interpretations, he’s so grounded in the traditions that his experimentation serves as a vehicle to delve farther into the source material than ever before. He’s an uncompromising artist that reminds me again why I love folk music.

Melody PoolKristy Cox
Melody PoolThe Hurting Scene
The Hurting Scene has to be one of the most amazing debut releases of an Australian artist in a long time. It’s an album that more often than not touches on the topics of hurt and sadness – yet a notion of positivity shines through each of the songs. Melody’s vocals are shine on each track, however it’s her lyrics and the melody in each song that draw you in so you have to keep on listening! By far my favourite release of 2013! This girl is amazing!

Tiny RuinsOscar Lush
Tiny RuinsHaunts
For me, this six track EP has more depth and honesty than any other full length album of 2013. Tiny Ruins is the moniker of UK born, New Zealand based, singer-songwriter Hollie Fullbrook. Following up from her 2011 album Some Were Meant For Sea, the Haunts EP is a beautifully flowing fusion of modern folk, jazz and old-school country blues. Fullbrook’s rich and captivating vocals roll so smoothly over her laid back picking style as she draws you further and further into the veil of fog that hovers over this charming collection of songs. What I love most about Haunts is the way it pays tribute to so many traditional styles, from the Townes Van Zandt style of guitar on “Cold Comfort” to Fullbrook’s flawless cover of “Rolling Mill Blues”, yet I fail to compare the sound of Tiny Ruins to anything else because it’s also completely of its own world. I promise that this one really is worth all of your time.

Daft PunkKim Churchill
Daft PunkRandom Access Memories
Whilst I’ve been dancing around possible answers in my head I really have to go for one which I’ve barely stopped playing since I bought it. I know the whole world seems to have been won over, but Random Access Memories by Daft Punk has been my favourite album this year. It has such respect for music and its evolution over the past 50 years. It also has most of my favourite session players from as far back as the 60’s as well. Using drummers like JR Robinson and Omar Hakim and experimenting with things like Gorgio Moroder’s monologue over the top of those drums was incredible. Its the kind of music I dream of hearing and the ultimate experimentation in excess. Over a million dollars, 5 years the best studios and session players in the world and the occasional full orchestral and choir movements! Finally though, what mainly draws me to an album is the songs. Though I never thought I would look to Daft Punk for inspiration, the songwriting is really exquisite. Particularly the Paul Williams collaboration, “Touch’.

StreetsMike McCarthy
Isaac de HeerStreets
I am a huge fan of Isaac De Heer, his records are on high rotation here. On Streets Isaac continues on this well built path of unorthodox folk songwriting. Again, as on his previous two records, the production captures his quirky approach to writing and performing music. The melodies are strong, the lyrics are the kind you want to pore over and try to understand. Every broken piano sound and haunting backing vocal has it’s place in a very well thought out and enjoyable EP.

The PreaturesAshleigh Mannix
The PreaturesIs This How You Feel?
I cannot tell you how may times I have listened to this EP since it’s release. Its absolute killer first single “Is This How You Feel?” still has me shamelessly breaking out in dance wherever and whenever I hear it. I actually cannot stop myself! The entire EP is filled with a catalogue of influences – Fleetwood Mac, Prince and Neil Young are a few that I immediately note. Yet at the same time, The Preatures have their own captivating sound that I personally cannot get enough of. Listening to female lead, Isabella Manfredi’s voice makes me want to put on my LBD and leather jacket and paint the town red. While the lead vocals of Gideon Benson in “Dark Times” leaves me completely devastated that I’m not single … It’s funny where music can take you. Is This How You Feel? is the sound of a band doing what they do, and doing it fecking well!

Jim JamesIsaac de Heer
Jim JamesRegions of Light and Sound of God
A couple of years back I was struck by the Yim Yames EP Tribute To which is a collection of George Harrison songs – I loved how rushed the recording sounded, full of pure longing blasted into its delivery. I hadn’t heard anything about the Regions… album but bought it on a whim when I was wandering through Polyester Records, judging from the strength of that EP. What I found was a real grower with a gospel sorta vibe, mixed with huge drum sounds and wonderful imaginative lyrics and soundscapes. The whole album has a naivety and innocence about it that is captivating, flowing from song to song effortlessly, with a great instrumental track halfway through that lets it breathe. It’s well worth a few listens!

Stolen ViolinMark Myers (The Starry Field)
Stolen ViolinTemperate touch, Tropical Tears
I don’t listen to much music outside of the studio but I spent a lot of time with this album. It might not be everyone’s thing with it’s lofi guitars and hard to hear lyrics but I had tears in my eyes by the end of it.

Jimi HendrixJustin Thurgur (Bellowhead)
Jimi HendrixPeople, Hell and Angels
My album for 2013 is Jimi Hendrix’s People, Hell and Angels a previously unreleased studio album that was supposed to be the follow up to Electric Ladyland. This album is full of refreshingly strong, raw, bluesy songs with a healthy funk influence played by instrumentalists who are true virtuosos and unafraid of expressing themselves. The soul pours out of these recordings.

Keston Cobblers ClubRachael McShane – (Bellowhead)
Keston Cobblers’ ClubA Scene of Plenty
This sounds like a really fun band to be in! The rich instrumentation featuring tuba, squeeze-box, banjo, strings, percussion and vocals, coupled with catchy melodies and massed group vocals on the song “Beam” make you want to sing along, put on your dancing shoes and join the party. Keston Cobblers’ Club have a very refreshing DIY attitude to recording and packaging. They designed their CD case as a train set with cut-out-and-stick trains, tents and animals. Well worth checking out their videos on YouTube too.

Jimi HendrixBenji Kirkpatrick (Bellowhead)
Jimi HendrixPeople, Hell and Angels
I would have to say People, Hell and Angels by Jimi Hendrix is my favourite album of 2013. The reasons being I’m a massive Hendrix fan and although there’s nothing really very new on this release it’s a great collection of Hendrix tunes and displays his fluid mastery of the guitar very well. Also some nice cameos from the likes of Stephen Stills and Lonnie Youngblood. Essential stuff for us Hendrix geeks.

Midnight Follows MeJulian Cue (The Barons of Tang)
BJ MorriszonkleMidnight Follows Me
Ridiculous and beautiful, this album is essentially the mad ramblings of a one man band let loose in a studio. I love the every changing and complex compositions, demented keyboard sounds and the delicate balance between “tongue in cheek” and sincerity. Also it seems to me that BJ Morriszonkle is one of the finest male vocalists / crooners playing around at the moment. His voice makes this album. 5 out of 5 exploding cakes

Vance JoyWoody Pitney
Vance JoyGod Loves You When You’re Dancing
Since first hearing a demo of “Riptide” in 2012, i’ve been a big fan of VJ’s music and his debut EP didn’t disappoint! James Keogh has a killer voice and there isn’t a dull moment throughout the entire 5-track EP. All of the songs are beautifully written, yet simple enough to have you singing along after one listen. With catchy melodies, slinky ukelele strumming and powerful storytelling, it’s clear to see why people compare the great man to the likes of Paul Kelly and Bernard Fanning.

Vic ManuelScott Collins (The Mid North)
Vic ManuelBury Me Deep
Vic Manuel is someone you probably would not have heard of……yet. ‘Bury Me Deep’ is his first solo album and it is a cracker. A melding of folk, old-time and Americana, with lyrics that are as good as Leonard Cohen and Dylan. He can rip your heart out and have you horny as a hound in a matter of a few words. There are road trip songs, ballads, bluegrass toe tappers and dark tales from older days. The song ‘Oh Mother’ will have the hardest of you shedding tears. As a songwriter myself, i hold Vic in awe. I am amazed by him and a little bit (ummm…..whole lot) envious of his talent, he is quite simply Brilliant.

Vance JoyThelma Plum
Vance JoyGod Loves You When You’re Dancing
Because it makes me feel sad, but good sad.

Liz StringerCara Robinson (Hat Fitz and Cara)
Liz StringerSoon
I actually have been listening to the album Soon by Liz Stringer with its powerful tales of personal experiences written so poetically that grasps my attention every time it is played. With its beautiful delicate and honest intent it is a raw masterpiece. I love this.

Abbe MayEli Wolfe
Abbe MayKiss My Apocalypse
A diverse and experimental artist from WA, with quite few different releases. This album evokes an intense feel, from a strong and highly expressive woman – cathartic in love and release – in a lemon juice squeezed on a paper cut kinda way.

Chance McCoyJimmy Daley (The Morrisons)
Chance McCoy & The Appalachian String BandChance McCoy & The Appalachian String Band
I love old time music and this album by Chance McCoy & The Appalachian String Band is packed full of it. The newest member of Old Crow (replacing Willie Watson), and educator of Old Time Music at The Augusta Heritage Centre, West Virginia, Chance McCoy really knows his stuff. He is an amazing old time fiddle and banjo player with a really sweet sounding voice to top it of. The collection of tunes here feature some of my favourite old time numbers like “Lazy John”, “Greasy Coat”, “Little Birdie” and “Gospel Plow”, while also introducing me to some great tunes I had never heard before, like “Davy Come Back and Act Like You Ought To”. That’s the thing about old time music, it’s an endless well of incredible songs, I don’t think I’ll ever stop digging through them. With fantastic playing and singing, this album has a more slick sound that what you usually get with old time music and in that sense would be a great introduction for someone looking to get into this genre.

CapercaillieEddi Reader
CapercaillieAt The Heart of it All
This is a beautiful traditional album using the tradition and bringing it right up to date. Karen is one of my favourite Scottish vocalists and this album is class as is their live performances. A little bit of Scotland for your ears.

Josh PykeChris Collins (Tigertown)
Josh PykeThe Beginning and the End of Everything
One of the best song writers that we have in Australia, Josh has been a major influence on our music since the start. All four albums are filled with honest stories so it’s cool to be able to follow someone through different stages of their life. For a fourth album, this one seems to have a certain youthfulness and energy to it, which could come from having a toddler running around in this record. It’s a very Australian sounding record which is something we love and would love to harness ourselves one day. This album makes you excited about love, life and family.

Bobby AluBrianne Curran (Takadimi)
Bobby AluTake it Slow
Refreshing, groovy and chilled out all in one. Bobby Alu’s album of 2013 just makes you feel like having a great day!

Melody PoolKevin Mitchell (Bob Evans)
Melody PoolThe Hurting Scene
This is an insanely good debut album. The lyrics and songwriting are so good it’s hard to believe they come from a someone of such a tender age. The production is subtle and honest and Melody’s voice is weighty and substantial. She must be an old soul or something. I can’t get enough of this album.

Katie BriannaAndrew Wrigglesworth and Laura Coates (The Weeping Willows)
Katie BriannaDark Side of the Morning
Katie’s voice will instantly capture you but it’s her lyrics that will hold you; one part heartbreak, two parts introspection, a dash of sass and one hundred percent original. Her tone may evoke some of the greats (Iris DeMent, Lucinda Williams, Nanci Griffith, Kasey Chambers…) but Katie holds her own and her album packs a punch. It’s definitely one of those rare finds you can appreciate from beginning to end without any temptation to reach for the “skip” button. Dark Side of the Morning is Americana at its best; at times dark and moody, other times hopeful, even audacious. Our favourite tracks are “What It Means”, “Dark Side of the Morning” and the vulnerable last track, “Risk it All”.

The VaccinesAndrew Davie (Bear’s Den)
The VaccinesMelody Calling
I bloody love this EP. We recently had the honour of touring with The Vaccines on the Mumford and Sons Full English Tour and we just had the best time. An amazing group of people and an incredible band. We listened to this EP religiously in the van between shows and I constantly had “Melody Calling” and “Everybody’s Gonna Let You Down” stuck in my head. Freddie’s guitar parts are so unconventional and interesting and the chord progressions and band dynamics flow in such a beautiful and unpredictable kind of way. It’s an incredibly inspiring piece of work and Justin’s songwriting has always been brilliant but just keeps getting better and better.

Kurt VileJordan Wilson and Benjamin Riley (Georgia Fair)
Kurt VileWakin’ on a Pretty Daze
It’s a beautiful sounding record. He’s a cool cat and has been a favourite of ours for a while. It’s a great record to get you through whatever you’ve been dealt, especially when combined with wine and cigarettes in your lounge room.

0Roscoe James Irwin
Ichiko Aoba0
A super beautiful (if not odd) collection of tracks from this Japanese alt/folk singer-songwriter. It’s strikingly bare, but really intimate as a result. You feel like you’re there with her, listening to her play her songs in your bedroom. The classically inspired nylon string guitar parts, mixed with Ichiko’s etherial vocal melodies create something really unique and honest, (even though I have no idea what she’s singing about). Track 8, “Haru Natsu Aki Fuyu” is a standout.

Ghost BoyGregory Alan Isakov
Sanders BohlkeGhost Boy
Beautiful and dark electric landscapes behind songs that make you dream, and remember how important music is.

The DronesMark “Looch” Lewis (Handsome Young Strangers)
The DronesI See Seaweed
This band is so far ahead of the pack it scares me. I didn’t think the Drones could top their last album Havilah – but they have. Gareth Lilliard’s lyrics slowly weave into your brain as always whilst the delivery and more specifically the passion in the delivery still kills me everytime. The final track “Why Write A Letter That You’ll Never Send” (all 9 minutes of it) is stunning. The best album from 2013 from Australia’s best band. Simple really.

Anna CalviBity Booker
Anna CalviOne Breath
Anna did not start singing until she was in her mid twenties. Now she is singing her hearth out. Her songs explode like colour onto a canvas. She slowly draws the listener into her world. Her guitar is like a voice, sometimes a weep, sometimes a laugh. This album makes me feel close to the beautiful beast she has within.

Josh PykeJackson McLaren
Josh PykeThe Beginning And The End Of Everything
(Ok I might be a bit biased but it’s a great album!). Josh sets the bar high and this record is an absolute cracker. Grappling poetically with legacy and morality. The BIG themes! Beautiful harmonies and clever arrangements. It sounds like Josh is having fun and that’s what I like about it.

Katy PerryGemini Downs
Katy PerryPrism
Yes I know we’re in an indie band and our taste is music is meant to be all indie and alternative – and primarily it is – but everyone has their guilty pleasures, right? For what it’s worth – chuckling at the new “Roar” film clip, feeling creative when looking at the fairyland live sets that this chick pulls off and winding up the windows in the car in order to sing along as loudly as possible was enough to bring Katy Perry to the top of the pile. Plus she got dumped by a tonne of record labels before she cracked it which makes her success all the more impressive.

Cloud ControlJosh Pyke
Cloud ControlDream Cave
I love Cloud Control, and this record really saw them push themselves, whilst still remaining true to the almost primitive innocence that their music captures for me. Al’s voice has taken on a strangled desperation in some songs that makes the whole thing a lot tougher in a very engaging way. Love it.

Sam AmidonBayden Hine (Packwood)
Sam AmidonBright Sunny South
An artist who’s work I’d been meaning to listen to for a few years dropped into my lap when I was asked to support his Australian tour earlier this year. I couldn’t have been happier! His albums are effortlessly beautiful, and his live set all the more so. Sam Amidon reworks American trad tunes from way back when into his own brand of contemporary folk. On his previous two albums he paired up with one of my favourite composers Nico Muhly (Grizzy Bear, Jonsi, Sufjan Stevens), but on Bright Sunny South he mirrored his live set – recording with minimal instrumentation as well as a few guest accompanists (most notably Jazz trumpet legend Kenny Wheeler – so, so cool). The winning track for me is “As I Roved Out” – my favourite choice for singing along to in the car when stuck in traffic. Freaks people out every time!

Christy MooreDamien Dempsey
Christy MooreWhere I Come From
A legendary Irish folk singer. 45 tracks that he wrote or had a hand in. An incredible album full of human spirit and empathy and stories and wisdom and humour, Christy is everything I aspire to be as a singer, a great role model, check out “Viva La Quint Brigada”, “Johnny Connors”, “The Boy from Tamlaghtduff”, “Lisdoonvarna”, “Whacker Humphries” or “Strange Ways”. Sublime.

The NationalIsaac Graham
The NationalTrouble Will Find Me
My brother bought me Trouble Will Find Me for my birthday this year. On his way to buy it he fell off his push bike and fractured his wrist in two places and ended up in hospital for a few days. He was all fine but the whole incident totally overshadowed my birthday. Fortunately he’d bought me such a great present so I forgave him. I’ve always had a passing interest in The National but for me this album is the perfect combination great songwriting, considered progressions, beautiful arrangements and flawless production. Not a bad song on the whole thing.

John SmithGibson Bull
John SmithGreat Lakes
There is something very honest about John’s music. You get the feeling he really believes in the songs he sings. This is certainly the case with Great Lakes. A beautiful album.

Sam BuckinghamHeyMun
Sam BuckinghamI’m A Bird
An album that tickles the senses with its dreamy folk-sical setting whilst hitting the high notes of honesty is one of the valiant traits of Sam as a musician. If she’s in love Oh, Bahbo she’ll say it’s so. If she’s got to Leave This Town, she will, but not without a song. A spirited gem in the indie music scene here in Australia, her recent live performance of this album when on tour with Buffalo Tales was a beautiful delivery of tunes that draws smiles on faces.

Kacey MusgravesFanny Lumsden
Kacey MusgravesSame Trailer Different Park
It surprised me how much I love this album so “trying to be a cool indie kid” wont fly this year for me as it’s a major label country pop album that has done it. It’s my hell yeah to “small town up-bringings” and overall is just a really well crafted album that lyrically has the right percentage of sass, apple pie and trailer parks. (Also I have serious caravan plans so it teams with the theme).

Vampire WeekendRoland K Smith
Vampire WeekendModern Vampires of the City
I’ve been pretty slack at keeping up with new music this year, but I’m okay with that, the good stuff I missed will find its way to me eventually. One record I did enjoy was Vampire Weekend’s Modern Vampires of the City. The too-cool-for-school Indie rockers seem to have made the jump out of ironic subject matter and into more emotionally effective territory. I think it works for them. The production’s great too – mixing hard blues with vocal pitch shifters in “Diane Young”, the harpsichord is put to good use in album highlight “Step”, and industrial percussion in “Obvious Bicycle”. I’ll get around to listening to more new music once Bob Dylan stops releasing his excellent Bootleg series.

Big ScaryLittle May
Big ScaryNot Art
This is an album that I can listen to on repeat for hours on end, and it reminds me of staying up until 4am drawing and drinking red wine. It is a collection of beautiful songs produced perfectly with everything in it’s rightful place.

Rhye WomanBec Sandridge
RhyeWoman
Great title, magical album cover, a beyond brilliant opening track and sob-worthy film clips. Being a sucker for tales of heartbreaking romances, understated vocal melodies and gentle synths, this Canadian duo definitely have my vote. They had me like a fool playing “Open” on repeat for weeks. (Note: I may very-well still be sobbing and smiling and listening to this track whilst typing this).

VasenGeorge Jackson (The Company)
VäsenMindset
Swedish super group Väsen have produced a new album this year featuring their trademark melodic invention and effortless virtuosity, it’s simultaneously modern while still tradition based, balancing on that fine line, like they always do, with ease. The Fiddle, Nyckelharpa and Guitar trio offers unending creativity of textures throughout the album, defying their seemingly minimal lineup, and of course, there’s plenty of Polska’s to get your feet tapping to. These guys are simply, brilliant. I’ve had Mindset on repeat in my car and on my computer and have even learnt four of the tunes already. If you haven’t heard Väsen, do yourself a favor, this is a good place to start. If you know and love them already, this new offering is another classic.

Frank SolivanMustered Courage
Frank Solivan and Dirty KitchenFrank Solivan and Dirty Kitchen
This album has everything we appreciate in modern bluegrass. Flawless three part harmonies and the kind of virtuosic pickin’ that makes you wanna sell your shit on eBay, or work a lot harder. The band has a unique and modern take of bluegrass, while still maintaining integrity to the tradition.

Buffalo TalesPerch Creek Family Jugband
Buffalo TalesRoadtrip Confessions
We first had the pleasure of meeting and hanging out with Wes (aka Mr Buffalo Tales) at Wintermoon Folk Festival in May this year. Great voice, great guy, great songs, great performer, and (you guessed it) great album! It’s a gold mine of catchy, rootsy folk gems that always end up stuck in our heads!

Volcano ChoirMatthew Oastler (Little Bighorn)
Volcano ChoirReprave
I thought my fascination/addiction to anything Justin Vernon did hadn’t carried over when I first listened to Repave by The Volcano Choir, however his genius, and the emotions that come with it are slow burning. It has now been the only thing I’ve listened to for 3 months, and I hear something new every time. It feels a lot more anthemic and hopeful than any of his previous works. Only a special few can make you feel like Vernon does, and this album is a classic example.

CirclesLachlan Bryan
Chris PickeringCircles
I got to know Chris on the road in the USA and each night he quietly blew me away with not only his songs, but the way he played and sang them. His music is subtle – delicate but nourishing – filled with the warmth and self-deprecation that are trademarks of his live performance. Whenever Circles comes on my iPod I am reminded that CP is a proper artist, and I can’t imagine paying a fellow songwriter a greater compliment. Bravo Sir!

Kurt VileEdward Deer
Kurt VileWakin’ on a Pretty Daze
Whenever I describe Kurt Vile’s music to someone, I manage to make it sound like something to be avoided. Really long, meandering songs with numerous guitar solos and a guy mumble-singing in almost a monotone. But the textures and atmosphere in his music are so rich and evocative. I kept coming back to this record this year, and it has to be one of my fave driving albums ever.

Volcano ChoirImogen Clark
Volcano ChoirReprave
I’ve never found another artist whose songwriting moves me quite as much as Justin Vernon of Volcano Choir and Bon Iver, which is why I couldn’t wait for this album’s release. I think the best songs often take a couple of listens before you say “yes, I get it, and I love it”, which is what happens to me every time I listen to a project Vernon has been a part of. In Repave, the vocals are so raw and the dynamics so great that it just builds you up and tears you down in a kind of frenzy of emotion. To me, the album sounds like how I imagine listening to someone’s soul would sound – completely pure, heart-wrenching, honest, complex and unpredictable. That’s why I think this record is magic.

Loren KateSarah Humphreys
Loren KateMoving On
Loren is a folk artist like no other, her songs punch me right in the heart til I’m crying my eyes out and her voice is like honey. A beautiful record.

Neko CaseAchoo! Bless You
Neko CaseThe Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You
We’ve both been huge fans of Neko Case for a few years, in particular her ’06 album Fox Confessor Brings the Flood, what an album. This record is just awesome as well. Her voice is beautiful as usual, and her lyrics are bad ass! “Man” is a particular fave. She writes absolute cracking pop songs, and the production of her records are always really rich and lush. I particularly love the edgier kind of grit and distortion that features a fair bit on this one, Neko gettin’ back to her punk roots via whimsical pop. So good!

Ainslie WillsAlison Avron
Ainslie WillsYou Go Your Way, I’ll Go Mine
This record gives me all I need in music: tingles and toe taps. The subtle and sexy grooves combined with the beautiful and rich tone of Ainslie’s vocals get me every time. “Weighing The Promises” and “Liquid Paper” are the standout tracks for me. Miss Wills is representing everything that is right about the Australian music scene.

NgaiireSam Buckingham
NgaiireLamentations
I can’t quite say why I love this album. I think it’s a combination of her voice, interesting production and the fact that it’s not like anything I’ve listened to before. It feels experimental but perfectly thought out, bold but humble, surprising but familiar … truly creative and original.

DaughterHayden Calnin
DaughterIf You Leave
I played this album on repeat for the few weeks after hearing it for the first time. It’s depressing, but motivating, which is totally my kind of jam. Stand out track was, and still is “Smother”, with the lyric “I wish I’d stayed inside my mother, never to come out” it pretty much sums up the whole album. Daughter’s blend of shoegazey guitar lines, slow bass and simple, yet well composed drum lines, matched up with her gorgeous vocals and lyrics, is so mature, intricate and worth a listen.

Ainslie WillsAll Our Exes Live In Texas
Ainslie WillsYou Go Your Way, I’ll Go Mine
The vocals and arrangements are incredible and Ainslie’s lyrics are so evocative. We particularly love “Liquid Paper” – such a universal sentiment. We listened to the entire album about a million times in the van on the way back to Sydney after we played a show with her in Melbourne. She also happens to be an amazingly good egg.

Mark KnopflerThe April Maze
Mark KnopflerPrivateering
This is actually a 2012 release but we only just discovered it … So it is new to us! A friend of ours who had toured with Mark Knopfler made us a mix CD for our Canadian tour and one of his songs was on there – we loved it, so we went online and bought the rest of the album. It is fantastic. It really takes you on a journey – lots of ups and downs and there are lots of goosebump moments. Our favourite tracks are “Haul Away” and “Kingdom of Gold” – these songs are super folky, just the way we like it. The production and instrumentation are spot on. This is a truly inspirational album for any songwriter. 100 stars.

JoJo SmithLucie Thorne
JoJo SmithStanding In The Lovelight
When it comes to soul not much beats being in the same room as JoJo Smith singing straight in to your heart. But this mighty collection – from one of our mightiest vocalists – comes pretty darn close. A national treasure!

Abbe MaySweet Jean
Abbe MayKiss My Apocalypse
Abbe May’s album is a blistering synth pop romp that takes you through all the ups and downs of imploding love. One of the many great things about this album is that she doesn’t “tell you about her feelings”. Instead, every song actually makes you feel something as a listener, which can be both uncomfortable and uplifting. It’s a funny, dark, smart, poignant and really well put together album.

The NationalEmily Barker
The NationalTrouble Will Find Me
I picked up this record just before heading out on a solo tour across the UK. It was a beautiful summer and I was driving myself around the country doing record shop in-stores and promoting our new record. Trouble Will Find Me quickly became my driving soundtrack. The songs are fantastic. Brilliant lyrics: a combination of abstract, ironic, heartfelt and just plain silly sometimes (ie. “I was teething on roses, I was in guns and noses”). I love the effortlessly, out-of-the-ordinary time signatures they use; the epic, but still intimate, production value; the melodies and arrangements; and Matt Berninger’s croonery, deep voice is always killer. A great record to drive to!

LordeRosie Catalano
LordePure Heroine
Given that we’re in an age where number one singles are as much about taking bootylicious selfies as writing good music, it took me a while to figure out how Lorde managed to dominate the Billboard charts, especially as my initial listen to her album Pure Heroine didn’t register highly on the excitement scale. I’ve happily eaten my words since then as Lorde and her producer Joel Little are a match made in heaven – the harmonies are beautiful, her lyrics take me to another world (albeit a teen world that I’m not sure I’d like to go back to), and I have a soft spot for Kiwis.

Mali MaliJack Carty
Mali MaliGather ’round the Goose Clock
I love this record because it feels anxious and intimate and fragile. The songs are strong, and tell their stories, but they go about it quietly so you really have to tune in to catch them. “Peace In My Chest” is the highlight for me, it feels like an affirmation.

Vance JoyPierce Brothers
Vance JoyGod Loves You When You’re Dancing
Since seeing him at The Hills Are Alive festival earlier this year, we picked up this EP. It’s a soulful and beautifully paced EP with awesome range from the indie pop rhythms of “Riptide” to the heartfelt and intimate lyrics of “Snaggletooth”. The crescendo in “From Afar” is our favourite. Well done sir. Well done indeed.

PikeletRose Wintergreen
PikeletCalluses
Entrancing from the very first listen (start with the track “Calluses”), this album still tickles my brain in unexpected and exciting ways. I’m not sure I understand it, but it’s unlike anything else I’ve heard, and I keep going back for more. YES!

Mark MoldreJessica Cassar (Jep & Dep)
Mark MoldreAn Ear To The Earth
If Tom Waits, Elvis Costello and Jeff Tweedy were pushed out to sea in a rickety old boat they’d come up with something like this. Mark Moldre’s An Ear to the Earth is a boisterous yet soulful musical journey worth the fare. You’ll be stomping and crying and laughing, and if you’re lucky to catch Moldre live, you’ll be doing all three with a whiskey in hand.

PowerlinesBeth Stephen (The Little Stevies)
Mustered CouragePowerlines
I’m a sucker for great harmonies and catchy melodies, and Mustered Courages’ album Powerlines has both, so I’m a big fan. Powerlines was produced by Jimi Maroudas, who also produced our first album Love Your Band. And for me it ticks all the boxes of a great album. The songs remind me of those off Foggy Highway, by Paul Kelly and The Stormwater Boys; strong and well-constructed, front and centre. Followed secondly by great musicianship and vocal harmony to present the full kick-ass package. And although their musicianship is apparent, luckily for these talented lads their songs don’t need to be dressed up head to toe in an overkill of instrumental licks to try and hide a weak song, but instead have successfully shown off their musicianship when it counts and in a very tasteful way. When I listen to the album I hear it as a collection of great pop songs first, and secondly as a bluegrass album. And in my opinion I think that’s clever, and the sign of good bunch of songwriters. There’s also nothing more impressive than when a group can reproduce an already top-notch studio album to an even higher standard live, and that’s what Mustered Courage can do. It’s a tasteful album, one of great energy and diversity in mood and who sings the lead on each song, and I recommend a listen to anyone who calls themselves a music lover.

ArcWhitaker
Everything EverythingArc
The perfect sophomore release, Arc built on all that was good about Everything Everything’s punchy, dramatic and down-right enviable musical style presented by their debut album three years prior. It’s the kind of record we listen to and think “Man, how did they do this? How can we do this?” as we listen through every track on repeat. Incredible production – good luck topping that one boys (they will)!

Vance JoyMark Wilkinson
Vance JoyGod Loves You When You’re Dancing
Emotive vocals and great songs. “Riptide” has obviously been huge, but the rest of the EP really stands up as well.

AgapeCastlecomer
Bear’s DenAgape
Bear’s Den produce an organic brand of music that resonates in its beautiful and powerful simplicity. Disarmingly honest lyrics accompany soaring and often haunting melodies backed by 3-part harmonies, and there are obvious folk influences to their songwriting. These guys are a must-see live act, and seem to be going from strength to strength, recently following up in magnificent style with their new EP Without/Within. There is an unassuming and captivating charm in this EP that is hard to resist.

HaimImogen Bel
HAIMDays Are Gone
There seemed to be a lot of highly anticipated releases this year, and for whatever reason, I missed out on a lot of them! One band that caught my attention early on however, was HAIM. This is a really solid album – so many hooks jam packed into each song, both melodically and rhythmically. I love that these girls obviously love pop music, but they play around with structures and mix things up to keep it fresh and surprising. They are obviously very accomplished musicians but they never let it get in the way of creating fun, interesting pop music. Standout tracks: “The Wire”, “Don’t Save Me”, “Go Slow” (no filler on this album though!).

Steal The LightKyle Vause (The Timbers)
The Cat EmpireSteal The Light
This is my favorite Cat Empire album to date. I seriously can’t fault this album, every song is a winner. My top three tracks off this album are “Still Young”, “Open Up Your Face” and probably the first single “Brighter Than Gold”.

Lucy WiseNigel Wearne
Lucy Wise & The B’GolliesWhen We Wander Far From Home
It makes me very happy to nominate this album as my favourite for 2013. The first time I heard Lucy Wise, I was struck by the originality and honesty of her songwriting. There are so many layers at work in this ten song offering. She’s included songs about organic farming and broken families, sailing, family connections, sculpture gardens and even Google Earth! Three members of the B’Gollies double in their own right as The Sting Contingent and they, with Mischa Herman on accordion, bring sophistication and tastefully woven arrangements to Lucy’s beautiful songs. “Lay of the Land” and “Mother’s Song” are stand-out tracks. A slow-burner that keeps giving.

InnocentsKate Martin
MobyInnocents
This was difficult to narrow down so I’ll say that ONE of my favourite LPs of 2013 is Innocents by Moby. Seven of the twelve tracks are collabs, it’s nice cross-pollination. The highlight track for me is a very moving instrumental called “Going Wrong”.

Step BrothersAidan Cooney (Boy Outside)
PalmsStep Brothers
A vehicle back to care free summers that lasted for ever. Yes that feeling. Play loud! Jump around aimlessly. Throw shapes at friends. A real shot in the arm. This shit works.

Josh PykeDan Acfield (Dan and Hannah Acfield)
Josh PykeThe Beginning And The End Of Everything
I must admit that although I’ve been listening to lots of music that’s new to me this year, most of it was not actually released this year! However, I have been enjoying Josh Pyke’s recent release The Beginning and End of Everything. After watching Josh Pyke perform tunes from this album from side of stage earlier in the year, I went home and immediately purchased the album. It’s deliciously folk-pop with that special (but evolved) Josh flavour which is quite difficult to not enjoy.

Josh RitterJack McNeill and Charlie Heys
Josh RitterThe Beast in Its Tracks
Josh Ritter has always been a favourite listen, he seems to grow more subtly insightful with each new album. A thoughtfully connected collection with the ghost of the Golden Age of Radio walking quietly through it. Ritter has the knack of catching you off-guard, gifted with a quiet wit, a sharper tongue than most and a real eye for the detail.

Warp and WeftEmma Davis
Laura VeirsWarp and Weft
Laura Veirs makes me happy. In fact, I think I would go as far as saying, I love her. Her unique way of phrasing things, her incredible ability to put into words the way that nature effects us, the delicate but interesting production- I couldn’t get enough. Laura’s newest release, Warp and Weft once again seems to deliver that Veirs-y charm that I have grown fond of. It is definitely a more mature album than Saltbreakers and the slightly Fleet-Foxy previous album July Flame. Some of the tracks are a little rockier with the beefy sounds of her Gibson shining through, and the arrangements are loaded full of weird and wonderful instruments, but the songs don’t seem to get lost at any point. Every little thing has its place and works together to carry her strong melodies and endearing way with words. As with her past releases, the album works well as a entire composition, so a little listening time is needed to start appreciating the tracks separately, but I think it makes this record a real grower. Overall, it’s a beautiful and carefully produced album that seems to communicate the warmth of nature and our place in it, so darn well.

Melt Yourself DownJoe Gould (The Crooked Fiddle Band)
Melt Yourself DownMelt Yourself Down
This debut is most original album I heard all year, a mix of electronics and afrobeat that is dark and danceable. Saturated sax riffs and tribal drums collide and make me feel euphoric that there’s still sounds out there I haven’t heard. What a great feeling to evoke in a listener!

LuxGordon Wallace (The Crooked Fiddle Band)
AfenginnLux
My album pick of 2013 is Lux by Danish band Afenginn. I have been a fan of the band’s “bastard ethnopunk” for a while now and their back catalog is well worth checking out. Lux is their latest offering and has quite a chilled out/ambient vibe and the most amazing fold-the-cd-digipak-into-a-lantern I have ever seen! Last year we realized we would cross paths at a festival in Sweden, so met Kim the main composer and became friends. The outcome of that is that they will be in Sydney playing at the Basement on the 16th January and Crooked Fiddle are lucky enough to be playing support! A great success of cross-continental mutual musical appreciation!

Big ScaryMark Leahy The Twoks
Big ScaryNot Art
After listening to Not Art I cannot help but walk around with a bounce in my step. This album is so confident, so diverse, so intricate and yet really simple. Fantastic production and really great songwriting. The performances have such dark commitment and awesome personality about them that I cannot help but love it.

Lucy WiseEmily-Rose Sarkova (Chaika)
Lucy Wise & The B’GolliesWhen We Wander Far From Home
I would say Lucy Wise’s newest album, When We Wander Far From Home. Her incredibly personal way of writing songs seems to capture so perfectly the very small delicate goings on of everyday life as well as the touching poignantly on deep environmental and social issues. All in a collection of songs that are truly beautiful and you cannot help but want to sing along with her.

The HeistCJ Shaw (CJ Shaw and the Blow Ins)
I have two:
Big ScaryNot Art
Beautiful and purposeful. Every nook and cranny of this album has been sculpted with the up most of care.
Macklemore and Ryan LewisThe Heist
A powerhouse. Big sound, big ego, big belief, big purpose. It is big and wonderful, makes you think and groove. It enlights and inspires.

Timber and Steel’s Top Albums of 2013

Vinyl Records

2013 has provided yet another year of amazing music from the folk, acoustic, traditional, roots, alt-country and singer-songwriter scene. There’s been a number of strong local releases this year and some definite highlights from our favourite artists from overseas.

This also feels like a year where more artists are embracing the full length album again. There have been some outstanding EPs and standalone singles of course but the album format really seems to have made a resurgence.

Once again we’ve asked each of the Timber and Steel contributors to give us their favourite albums or EPs of 2013 and the results are once again eclectic, interesting and most certainly unique.

So without further ado we bring you Timber and Steel’s Top Albums of 2013:

Gareth Hugh Evans

Melody Pool

1. Melody PoolThe Hurting Scene
At the Gulgong Folk Festival in early January I stumbled across Melody Pool and was transfixed. Pool’s music was both timeless and fresh. Her sound was a dash of Laura Marling, a smattering of Emmylou Harris and a generous dose of Joni Mitchell but all the while unique. I’ve heard people refer to Melody Pool as an “old soul” and think that captures her – there’s a depth and an age to her lyrics and her voice that you don’t hear in artists twice her age. When I picked up The Hurting Scene following its release a month or two after the festival it was put on high rotation and I was reminded just what had captured me when I saw her live. I’ve recommended The Hurting Scene and Melody Pool to everyone since, seen her live a number of times throughout the year and even awkwardly chatted to her when she support The Milk Carton Kids. I think there’s big things in Melody Pool’s future – pick up The Hurting Scene and you’ll think so too.

2. Anaïs Mitchell and Jefferson HamerChild Ballads
3. Laura MarlingOnce I Was An Eagle
4. Patrick JamesAll About to Change
5. Gregory Alan IsakovThe Weatherman

HannahA

Melody Pool

1. Melody PoolThe Hurting Scene

The song writing on this album is skillful and honest – I love that. Additionally I’m partial to a great singer, Melody has a sweet delicious voice that draws me into the song. Finally, I liked the production which had interesting space and dynamics. And those rich string arrangements are just gorgeous!

2. Mustered CouragePowerlines
3. Dan ParsonsDan Parsons
4. Rose CousinsWe Have Made a Spark
5. Matt CorbyResolution EP

Haz

The Melodic
1. The MelodicEffra Parade

This is an album that immediately brought a smile to my face. A blend of traditional folk harmonies, older (even baroque!) instruments, tied together with afro-latino rhythms and strings of the charango, and the ever present melodica of their namesake. For me comparisons include the hugely underrated Grand Union, the music of Paul Simon, the bass driven melancholy of Australia’s Sodastream, and certainly, as a number of other reviewers have mentioned, The Decemberists. All comparisons considered, this is an upbeat album, that is lyrically adventurous, and interspersed with story, without being at all heavy. Though released for the colder UK months, Effra Parade sits coolly and comfortably in the summer of the southern hemisphere, that can (and will!) accompany many a lazy Sunday cocktail or weekend roadtrip.

2. The Heavy BlinkersHealth
3. Twin ForksTwin Forks EP
4. The Avett BrothersMagpie and the Dandelion
5. Jim JamesRegions of Light and Sound of God

JDX

Laura Marling

1. Laura MarlingOnce I Was An Eagle

In this album’s first single “Master Hunter”, which is a statement in itself, Marling swaggers and snarls in front of her pounding rhythm section. “I’ve cured my skin, so nothing gets in. Nothing as hard as it tries.” A friend said she sounded kind of scary. I like that. I like to think this is a protest album against gender stereotypes, but she’s much more than a woman scorned. The music is sparse, sprawling, full of odd angles and surprises. Sometimes it’s challenging, sometimes it’s beautiful. But it’s her voice that always catches me off guard. It’s one of the most expressive instruments in music. And that’s what this is about. With all the lush musicianship stripped away, Marling proves once again that she is one of the most intriguing and independent voices in 21st century music. And if this album isn’t considered a classic, it’s only because the next one will be better.

2. The Cat EmpireSteal the Light
3. The Milk Carton KidsThe Ash and Clay
4. Mama Kinthe Magician’s Daughter
5. Brighter LaterThe Wolves

KT Bell

Mabon

1. Jamie Smith’s MabonWindblown
I came across Jamie Smith’s Mabon at a London gig earlier this year, Wales at Cecil Sharp House, and they were the stand out for me wherein I bought their latest album, Windblown, on the spot. Since then, this lyrical and lilting Welsh Folk has strummed and jigged its way in to my heart and is one of the most frequent spins on my playlist. Stu decided it’s the type of house music for a Welsh Bar, so if you see such an establishment pop up here in Australia, don’t be surprised to see us behind the bar.
2. Mike VassDecemberwell
3. Paper AeroplanesLittle Letters
4. Boy & BearHarlequin Dream
5. Josh PykeThe Beginning And The End Of Everything

Mackajay

Anais Mitchell

1. Anaïs Mitchell and Jefferson HamerChild Ballads

When I first listened to this album I was immediately impressed by the way the modern, American arrangements breathed new life into these old, old English ballads. What is far more surprising is that I am still finding the album fresh and inspiring many months later. This is my clear winner this because of it’s routinely high rotation on my stereo.

2. Vance JoyGod Loves You When You’re Dancing
3. Laura MarlingOnce I Was An Eagle
4. Laura ViersWarp and Weft
5. Boy & BearHarlequin Dream

Nikita Andrea

Jordie Lane

1. Jordie LaneNot Built to Last

Devoid of cliché, this ultimate storyteller voices lyrics of the present moment through warming crystalline vocals. This release is a welcome sound evolution of Lane’s alternative country style. I chose Not Built to Last because for one this is an EP showcasing songs that clearly prove this musician has something to say and also for the fact that I heavily dislike anything country so this man should be heavily commended for bringing such full and palatable music to the table for all tasters.

2. Bob EvansFamiliar Stranger
3. Oh Pep!II
4. Bears With GunsOnly The Quick and the Hungry
5. Sleepy DreamersCreatures

Serena Skye

Mama Kin

1. Mama KinThe Magician’s Daughter

I liked this album from the outset, when I first reviewed it, and throughout the year it has grown on me even more. Danielle Caruana’s vocal is sublime, and each track offers a different vibe both sonically and emotionally, but they still work together as a cohesive album. “Bosom of Our Bed” is still my favourite track, closely followed by “Rescue,” and I cannot wait to see their next offering.

2. The Cat EmpireSteal the Light
3. Vance JoyGod Loves You When You’re Dancing
4. Laura MarlingOnce I was an Eagle
5. Melanie HorsnellThe Cloud Appreciation Society

Thom Owen Miles

Phosphorescet

1. PhosphorescentMuchacho

Despite Phosphorescent consistently releasing album after album for the past ten years, Muchacho is the first to truly appeal to me and capture my imagination. Muchacho is a product of tall ambition, of bold choices and unfettered creative vision. For an indie-folk record, it is delightfully untraditional in its production and utilisation of mediums unfamiliar to the genre. “Song For Zula” is perhaps the best song to speak for the album, in all its poetic bliss and compositional glory.

2. Radical FaceThe Family Tree: The Branches
3. The Milk Carton KidsThe Ash & Clay
4. Brown BirdFits of Reason
5. Night BedsCountry Sleep

Bob Evans Presents Ten Non-Xmas Songs to Play on Xmas Day

Bob Evans
Image Courtesy of Bob Evans

To celebrate Christmas Bob Evans will be taking on a Wednesday night residency at the Northcote Social Club throughout December featuring some very special guests such as Ella Hooper, Ali Barter and Hayden Calnin. We thought we’d take the opportunity to ask Bob Evans for a list of his favourite Christmas songs but the man has turned things on its head providing us his top ten non-Xmas songs to play on Xmas Day. Check out the list below:

1. Lucinda Williams – “Metal Firecracker”
A “Metal Firecracker” is an old school American nickname for a tour bus and this song seems to detail a tour romance that took place on said metal firecracker. Nothing to do with Xmas but makes for a cool story over Xmas lunch and the “cracker” part always makes me think of Xmas crackers.

2. The Zombies – “Time of the Season”
This is the perfect song to put on late in the day when everyone’s stuffed full of food and feeling a little hazy from a few too many afternoon drinks. Nothing to do with Xmas but the time of the “season” could easily be.

3. Weezer – “December”
Another fine mid-tempo Weezer song full of yearning and reflection. Nothing to do with Xmas I don’t think but the story is set in December so could easily be.

4. Wilco – “Jesus Etc”
A classic song whose whoozy strings compliment a long boozy Xmas lunch perfectly. Nothing to with Xmas but apparently Xmas is supposed to have something to with Jesus isn’t it?

5. The Thrills – “Santa Cruz (You’re Not That Far)”
I love how The Thrills put Beach Boys vocals to banjo and honkey tonk flavoured indie rock. This song has nothing to do with Xmas I don’t think but it does have Santa in the title.

6. Paul Westerberg – “Waiting For Somebody”
This is off the Singles movie soundtrack. Remember Singles? No? Well then you obviously weren’t a grunge obsessed 90’s teenager then. I doubt that Paul Westerberg was singing about Santa when he wrote this song but that’s the only guy you’re kids/nephews/nieces will have been banging on about leading up to Xmas day.

7. The Ramones – “We’re a Happy Family”
This song actually does reference Xmas in what are some of my favourite Ramones lyrics of all time: “No Xmas cards to send, our troubles never end, Daddy likes men”. Let’s face it, most of us are likely to wind up spending at least some part of Xmas day pretending to like people we can’t stand all in the name of happy families.

8. 10CC – “Dreadlock Holiday”
There’s a good chance that on Xmas day you’re father in law or uncle will be more interested in what’s going to happen tomorrow in the Boxing Day test match than any of this actual Xmas malarkey. Play this classic 10CC song for the cricket lovers and everyone else who doesn’t mind a bit of reggae after a few too many Xmas drinks.

9. Tim Rogers – “Get Drunk, Ring Yer Friends”
This a is a rare gem off an acoustic bonus CD that came along with the You Am I record Dress Me Slowly. This is a great song to play to remind everyone to ring their family and friends from interstate or overseas to wish them a merry Xmas although these days you’re more likely to Skype them I suppose.

10. Spoon – “Got Nuffin'”
Spoon are the greatest so there is always a good reason to put on one of their albums but on Xmas day I would choose this classic from their Transference album and dedicate to anyone who is bitterly disappointed with their shitty Xmas haul that included nothing that they actually wanted and lots of crap they didn’t.

Bob Evans will be appearing at the Northcote Social Club on Wednesday’s in December. The full list of dates are below:

Wednesday 4th December – Northcote Social Club, Melbourne, VIC w/ Ella Hooper
Wednesday 11th December – Northcote Social Club, Melbourne, VIC w/ Ali Barter
Wednesday 18th December – Northcote Social Club, Melbourne, VIC w/ Hayden Calnin

Dan & Hannah Acfield – Album Recording Journal

Dan and I have been busy writing for an album since October last year, sending a new song to each other once a fortnight. If either of us missed the deadline, the consequence was a fortnight without coffee or tea. Excellent incentive – what’s two weeks without coffee like? Absolute hell!

I’d heard about people recording in a house and liked the ‘vibe’ these albums had, relaxed, warm and organic. All the things we wanted to achieve in our album recording. The perfect house came up through a choir I sing with – a friends family holiday house on the Mornington Peninsula. Surrounded by trees and yet only five minutes walk from the beach, 5 bedrooms, mini grand piano and different spaces conducive to recording. We couldn’t believe our luck!

We hired and borrowed recording equipment and headed down to the house with engineer Robin Mai. I think we took just about every instrument we owned including five acoustic guitars, a couple of electric guitars, two bass guitars, ukulele, cello, melodica, flute and heaps of percussion.

We spent a day setting up, double checking that everything worked and we hadn’t forgotten anything (which of course we had). Dan Parsons joined us the following couple of days recorded all the drum and percussion parts. One of the mic stands was troublesome and was threatening to tip over. After foraging around the perfect solution was a couple of massive pieces of firewood. Placed around the base of the mic stand it worked a treat!

Acoustic guitar and pedal steel were next up on the list. We used the dining room, which had lots of glass windows to get a nice sound with the guitar. I was on bird patrol (as they were very determined to sing along) on the parameter of the house to encourage them to sing quieter.

One of the highlights was getting to use the mini grand piano, it sounded so beautiful! It’s unusual to have access to a grand piano – even in a recording studio.

Outside of a conventional studio we had to be inventive (which we loved!). We rigged up a vocal booth made out of mattresses and blankets.

Dan and I made the decision to produce the album ourselves, which was a first! The reality wasn’t as challenging as we thought it might be, we had a very clear idea of what we wanted out of the songs and recording. We spent a total of 6 days on the Mornington Peninsula recording and got most of the album recorded. There is still a small way to go and we’re running a crowdfunding campaign to finish and release the album. Be a part of our album! http://www.pozible.com/acfieldalbum.

To be a part of Dan & Hannah Acfield’s crowdfunding campaign pledge here.

FBCOVER_pozible

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