Track By Track: The Ahern Brothers – The Ahern Brothers

The Ahern Brothers
Image Courtesy of The Ahern Brothers

The Ahern Brothers is the new duo project from Josh Rennie-Hynes and Steve Grady which has been garnering all sorts of praise since they emerged on the scene earlier this year.

Last week The Ahern Brothers released their self-titled debut album and we sat down with the boys to get a run down on each of the tracks, with Rennie-Hynes and Grady taking a side each:

Side A by Josh Rennie-Hynes

1. “Comb That River” – This is the first song Steve and I ever wrote together. We’d played a lot together in the past few years on our own solo stuff but for some reason never sat down to write something. We flew into San Francisco from Melbourne at around midday, jet lagged as hell. Our friend Moose’s apartment is in the Castro district and out of his windows you can see San Francisco; it’s a beautiful view. That afternoon we pulled out our guitars and started jamming. This song idea came and within a few hours we pretty much had the whole thing down. It’s loosely based around the show ‘Stranger Things’ and the story of a child who’s friend has disappeared. This song sets the tone for the rest of the record and once we’d written it we both realised we’d stumbled onto something cool.

2. “When the Rains” When The Rains was written directly after “Comb That River” that same afternoon, somewhere in the midst of the jetlag and the euphoria of waking up and being in another country. I don’t know where this song came from. Again, we just started jamming on ideas and an hour or two later we had a gospel song. When you listen to the recording you can hear my voice get croakier as it goes on. It was late at night when we recorded it and I was a little tired but it ended up being our favourite performance. That’s what I love about this album; it wasn’t about perfection or polish first and foremost. It was about capturing a true performance of the songs.

3. “Today’s The First Time” – After a few days in San Francisco we headed north to the stay at our friend’s lodge in a place called the Russian River. It is nestled in the hills among the giant redwoods and is just beautiful. We’d sit on the deck most days and write. Steve had a rough verse melody for this song buzzing around in his head for the previous few weeks but no lyrics. So it was just a matter of nutting it out. It’s one of those songs that almost feels like it’s already been written; you just need to sit down with it, pay attention and let it tell you what it wants to say. For me it’s about being in the present; experiencing things and travelling while also missing a loved one. Steve had earlier said to me that day something along the lines of “This is the first time I’ve truly missed someone” and the chorus came from that.

4. “Bury Me Here” – There was a meadow just below the lodge that we’d often go to. One morning we woke up and wanted a change of scenery and perspective for the day so we grabbed our guitars and headed down. I was messing around with this chord progression and we jammed on ideas until the song started to come. There was a dog buried in the meadow clearing and a grave marked with stones. Some turkey vultures circled high overhead. We were sitting there playing with ideas when this old cat suddenly slinked across right in front of us, stopped to take a look then continue on about it’s day. Steve immediately turned to me and said ‘We should write this song from the cat’s perspective’ and so it was. It’s got a darkness and eeriness to it that gets under your skin and the melody doesn’t stop moving. It’s written about an old cat and it’s close friend, death.

Side B by Steve Grady

5. “8 Years On The Run” – This is definitely the oddball song of the album. It’s the most Australian and country of the lot. We had just written four songs that were heavily influenced by our surroundings and time in California, therefore we were probably searching for a new perspective. I’d heard this story of Australian father and son fugitives – sort of modern day bushrangers – Gino and Mark Stocco. For eight years they went on the run, changed their names, stole and burnt down farms, even killed an innocent man, all the while hiding from the law. It’s a pretty amazing story especially in this age of technology and surveillance. In saying that, we certainly don’t want to glorify their actions. They were eventually caught and thrown in jail, but we thought it’s a crazy enough story and worth writing about.

6. “Call, My Lover” – We wanted to bring it back a notch with this song and get back to something a little more honest and closer to home. The structure and mood of the song began sitting around a campfire with our guitars in a forest somewhere near Portland, Oregon. It’s definitely the most straightforward and conversational type of song on the album. We purposely didn’t add any tricks or metaphors, nor did we try to pretty it up with harmonies. It has a great jam out section and a mood of loneliness and longing to hear the voice of the person you love and miss back home. In my eyes it’s like ‘Today’s The First Time’ part two.

7. “Your Name” – We had just arrived back in San Francisco, a little weary, and again found ourselves on the roof trying to come up with ideas for a song. We had a melody but no substance. We really wanted to say something important. This was when our dear friend who we were staying with shared a story about his younger brother and the tragedy that unfolded when they were kids. Without going into any more detail, we knew this was a song that needed to be written. The words came fast, and what I love about it is Josh and I share the lead vocals from each brothers perspective, only joining together for the second half of the song. The recording is perfect and it’s definitely my favourite song on the album. Songs like Your Name is why I do this.

8. “Our Last Day” – The title says it all. We had packed in so much within our three weeks of America – the heights of San Francisco, lodging in the redwoods, Yosemite, road trips, hanging in Portland, writing a bunch of songs. So we thought it would be fitting to sum it all up in one song. It’s light and fun. We wanted it campfire style, with the two of us singing in unison together for the whole thing. I hardly even knew the words when we recorded it, so you’ll notice I’m always just a millisecond behind Josh. It’s a great documentation of the trip and the perfect way to end the album.

The Ahern Brothers is available now – check it out in iTunes here

The full list of upcoming tour dates for The Ahern Brothers are below:

Thursday 29th June – Treehouse, Byron Bay, NSW
Friday 30th June – 5 Church Street, Bellingen, NSW
Saturday 1st July – Royal Mail Hotel, Ipswich, QLD
Friday 7th July – Woodford Open Space, Woodford, QLD
Friday 14th July – Flow Bar, Old Bar, NSW
Thursday 20th July – Django Bar, Sydney, NSW
Saturday 22nd July – The Wesley Anne, Melbourne, VIC
Friday 28th July – Green Door Wines, Ferguson Valley, WA
Saturday 29th July – The Church, Donnybrook, WA
Sunday 30th July – The Pottery-Restaurant, Bridgetown, WA
Thursday 3rd August – Secret Show, Mandurah, WA
Friday 4th August – Wild Vinegar, Bunbury, WA
Saturday 5th August – Secret Show, Fremantle, WA
Sunday 6th August – Secret Show, Perth, WA

Track By Track: Bloom – Timothy James Bowen

Image Courtesy of Timothy James Bowen

A couple of weeks ago Sydney based singer-songwriter Timothy James Bowen highly anticipated new EP Bloom. Bowen describes the EP as bookending everything that’s happened to him in the last year – much of which he spent fighting a type of blood cancer.

We asked Timothy James Bowen to take us through Bloom track by track.

1. “Magnolia Tree” – I wrote “Magnolia Tree” with my sister, Clare Bowen, in the middle of 2015. It was the first single off the Bloom EP. This song is a simple love song about marrying the one you love. We wrote it one night at Clare’s farm just outside of Nashville. I had been circling a melody for six months prior and hadn’t been able to find the right lyrics to go with the tune – all I knew was that I loved the melody. I played it for Clare and after one pass, she sat up, with eyes widening and excitedly said while running into the other room, “Keep playing! I think I have something for that!!!”. What she came back with after a bit of rummaging was a yellow post-it note with most of the chorus scribbled down in black ink. We went on to play it for the first time later that week to 5,500 people at the Grand Ole Opry.

2. “The Last Time” – I wrote this song with two friends of mine, Andrew Alberts and Stephanie Lambring, who are both exceedingly talented, Nashville based songwriters. We based this song on a cyclic relationship that too many people are familiar with – one that you know is bad for you, but for whatever reason, you keep circling back to that person again and again, regardless of the inevitable anguish that comes along with being with them. The main chorus tag “For the first time, it’s the last time…” is about the ultimate realisation and acknowledgement of the need to break the cycle in order to be free.

3. “Let’s Not Talk About Today” – This was one of the hardest songs I’ve ever had to write, purely because of its content. At the end of 2015, I was diagnosed with a type of blood cancer. Days before Christmas, I was given two weeks to live and urgently started an intense chemotherapy regime. I was one of the lucky ones, and the chemotherapy put my cancer into remission. This song begins at my quarterly specialist check up, when after progress scans, I was told that there was a 95% chance that my lymphoma had returned. I was going to need to have several operations and months more of intensive therapy in an effort to beat it. We left the hospital that day completely deflated. We went back to my family home to sit in front of the fire with my parents to try and digest the unimaginable. My Dad, forever the optimist, was trying to make what light he could of the situation and the only words that came to mind were “… Can we just not talk about today, please?”. From then on, the title and a few scattered diary entries stayed with me until I made my first trip back to Nashville in October of 2016 after being given the all clear for the second time. I finished the song over many cups of tea and through many tears with my sister, Clare, and her fiancé, Brandon Young. Writing this song has been the most cathartic experience I’ve ever had as a songwriter.

4. “The Greatest Love” – “The Greatest Love” is about the woman that literally saved my life, Christina Mullany. Before I even thought about going to see a doctor when I started to get sick, my guardian of a girlfriend, now fiancé Christina, saw all the red flags and raised the alarm well before anyone else could even think the thought. She brought me (and dragged me, in some cases) to the doctors office on multiple occasions to be checked out and she was there by my side through the entirety of this journey so far. Christina wrangled doctors when they needed wrangling, explained medical jargon to my family, stayed with me in hospital for a month when I began my treatment and was, quite simply, my greatest support during one of the most challenging experiences I’ve ever endured. I literally owe her my life and after 8 years of the most beautiful relationship I could ever imagine, to me, this truly is the greatest love I have ever witnessed.

5. “Hold My Heart” – I wrote “Hold My Heart” with my guitarist, Paul Mason. Paul is one of the most talented guitar players I have ever had the pleasure of meeting, let alone sharing a stage with. His knowledge and use of complex harmony and chord structures is what really brought this song to life. We wrote this song about his struggle of being able to find balance in his relationships and learning at what point you have to let your guard down and just go with it. People tend to put up so many walls when they get burnt that it can jeopardise any new relationships that might begin because of pretences set by those that are now long gone. This song is about acknowledging everything you’ve been through and realising that each beginning is a new one and should be treated just as that. This song also has the added bonus of being the only song I’ve ever written where both writers were wearing animal onesies at the time of creation. I was a puma. Paul was a tiger. We both had tails. It was a great day.

Bloom is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes here.

Timothy James Bowen will be joining Clare Bowen on her East Coast tour this July. Check out the full list of dates below:

Monday 3rd July – Her Majesty’s Theatre, Adelaide, SA
Tuesday 4th July – Hamer Hall, Melbourne, VIC
Wednesday 5th July – Canberra Theatre Centre, Canberra, ACT
Friday 7th July – Anita’s Theatre, Thirroul, NSW
Sunday 9th July – Enmore Theatre, Sydney, NSW
Monday 10th July – Civic Theatre, Newcastle, NSW
Tuesday 11th July – Blazes at Wests, Tamworth, NSW
Thursday 13th July – Empire Theatre, Toowoomba, QLD
Friday 14th July – The Star, Gold Coast, QLD
Saturday 15th July – Pilbeam Theatre, Rockhampton, QLD

Track By Track: Good Days, These Days – Quinton Trembath

Image Courtesy of Quinton Trembath

Avid journaler, constant traveller and part time accordionist, Quinton Trembath, has returned to punk influenced acoustic guitar to chronicle his stories of friends and places. Just six months after releasing his first EP, Tuns of Fun, Trembath is back with new EP Good days, These Days, recorded in Hobart with the help of Cal Young and Hannah Morrell.

For some added context to the new songs, he has provided us with a photo and anecdote for each song.

1. “Glenorchy” – Glenorchy is a suburb fifteen minutes north of Hobart where I was blessed to spend a week sharing a lounge-room floor with these ten smelly punks. The friendship was cemented one stormy night when Elliott rescued me from the rushing storm-water I had fallen into while we drunkenly explored Hobart’s underground rivulets.


2. “Footscray” – Footscray is a suburb fifteen minutes west of Melbourne where I have spent the past three months making friends, writing songs and sleeping on couches. The few uninspiring months I spent working in Coffs Harbour at the end of last year filled me with a craving for a life more inspiring and I am stoked to be now living in a place where I can see my all my favourite bands both on stage as well as in the local Savers store.


3. “Hazelbrook” – Hazelbrook is a suburb twenty minutes east of Katoomba in the Blue Mountains where my friend Maizy keeps herself busy with a myriad of jobs, bands, studies and other things. We often try to catch up, but due to her unaccommadating schedule of endless commitments and my penchant for constant travel, we’ve found writing letters to be by and far the sweetest way to keep in touch.


4. “Bonville” – Bonville is a suburb 15 minutes south of Coffs Harbour, where on a particularly depressing afternoon in December, my long time friend Rae and I were lucky to find that sometimes all it takes to lift a horrendous mood and derail a suicide pact is an old friend, a case of cheap tins and a rickety swinging garden chair dumped on a curbside.


5. “Glebe” – Glebe is a suburb ten minutes out of Sydney’s CBD where my bicycle frequently spent the night locked up to the front railing of my friend Ellen’s charming terrace home last year. I wrote this song in Vietnam after spending a number of days with her in Indonesia where she nursed me back to health from a bad case of food poisoning.


Good Days, These Days can be downloaded for “name your price” at Quinton Trembath’s Bandcamp.

Quinton Trembath has a number of New South Wales gigs coming up this week – check out the full list below:

Thursday 27th April – Get Folk Punked @ Lazybones, Sydney, NSW
Saturday 29th April – Station Bar, Katoomba, NSW
Sunday 30th April – The Hamilton Station Hotel, Newcastle, NSW

Track By Track: The Morrisons – The Morrisons

The Morrisons
Image Courtesy of The Morrisons

The long awaited debut album from The Morrisons launched this week full of songs we’ve come to love from their live show over the last few years. James Morrisons, Jimmy Daley and Anna McInerney took some time out to run through the tracks on The Morrisons and give us an insight into the stories behind the songs.

“Cumberland Plain” – [Jimmy Daley] An old friend of mine from the mountains once told me a story about how when he was young they used to sing “Cumberland Gap” (one of my favourite old time folk songs) and change the lyrics to “leaving Balmain for the Cumberland Plain”. At that time (50’s/60’s), he told me that Sydney was changing, becoming more expensive and people who couldn’t afford it were getting forced out, much like what is going on now. Using his story as its genesis, the song deals with class divide between east and west in Sydney.

“Ruby” – [Jimmy Daley] I wrote this song a long time ago for my old band Bellyache Ben & The Steamgrass Boys. At the time I was listening a lot to the Osborne Brothers and The Country Gentleman. Those bands were so good at merging the sounds and traditions of bluegrass with pop sensibility, songs like ‘Rocky Top’, ‘Matterhorn’, ‘Fox on the Run’. It’s my favorite period of bluegrass music.

“Sugar Cane” – [Jimmy Daley] Another old one from the Steamgrass Boys days. I wrote this song when I was traveling around North Queensland. I was listening to Uncle Dave Macon – in particular his classic tune “Way Down The Old Plank Road” – and wanted to write something like that. In old-time music the hook that just goes ’round and ’round ’til your feet drop off. It’s so infectious. I love it. The claw-hammer banjo intro is a nod to Uncle Dave.

“Two Years In The Mines” – [Jimmy Daley] This song is about Gyzele Osmani, a refugee who came to Australia in 1999 during the Kosovo crisis. I have vivid memories of watching the crisis on the news as a young boy but having no idea of the gravity of what I was seeing. Gyzele’s story was the subject of an award winning essay and radio show. It’s a truly remarkable story of courage and determination in the face of terrible adversity (well worth a read). Unfortunately our own government created a significant amount of that adversity. She was held in detention in Port Headland for 7 months, with her 5 children. One of them had a broken leg and was denied adequate medical treatment. Gyzele was brought to Australia as part of our humanitarian response to the crisis and this is how we treated her, it’s absolutely disgraceful. The thing that made me really angry when I read about her story, was that our government talks about detention centres acting as deterrents to people who come here illegally, but here’s a woman who was brought here by the government under the banner of humanitarianism and she was kept in detention with all her children. It’s absolute bullshit! Thankfully though this story has a happy ending and she now lives and works in Canberra.

“Melina (Not For Long)” – [James Morrison] While in a low point in an in-between, on-again off-again, post separation/pre reparation stage relationship, I fell for a girl. She would remind me intermittently that she knew it wouldn’t be a forever relationship (although I don’t think I was aware of that at the time) because of my mess. She was right, and she was amazing.

“Whisky on the Brain” – [James Morrison] For three hours every Tuesday night for a year (2013-14), our band would wedge ourselves into the corner of Corridor in Newtown. We had to stack our instrument cases on the awning above King St to make space, and even then the room would be full with 50% band members. We would sweat, sing too loud and drink a lot, and this song is the memory.

“Route March” – [Jimmy Daley] As soon as I read Lawson’s poem “The Route March” the rhythm and melody started to form in my head, it just reads like song lyrics. A lot of his poems are like that, I’ve actually been working on a side project of writing an album of a capella music for a bunch of his poems, but knowing how long it takes me to finish stuff I’ll probably have that out in 2030.

“Good Christian Man” – [Jimmy Daley] This is a deeply personal song about doubt, self-reflection and religious contradiction, and about how in the absence of belief we try and find ways to be moral and decent to each other.

“Emmeline (Deeds Not Words)” – [Jimmy Daley] In her mid 30’s my grandmother decided she wanted to become a school teacher. She hadn’t had the opportunity to get much of an education as a child so she had to go back and do her HSC. So as a 30-year-old mother of two she donned the school uniform and did it! She then went to uni and became a primary school teacher. By this time she was married to my grandfather and thus had taken his last name, Pankhurst. The local paper did a story on her saying something like “The ghost of Emmeline Pankhurst rides again”. The surname is no coincidence either; my grandfather is a distant relation of Richard Pankhurst, Emmeline’s husband. The Pankhurst women, Emmeline, and in particular her daughter Sylvia, are some of the most important and inspirational historical figures I have ever encountered. In my mind they should occupy the same space in our cultural psyche as people like Martin Luther King and Ghandi. One thing we are really proud of is that we will be releasing the song as a single in conjunction with the UN Women Australia Group on 8th March, International Women’s Day. It will be a pay what you want thing with all the proceeds going towards UN initiatives to help disenfranchised women around the world. The theme for the day this year is “empower a woman, empower a nation”, very appropriate when speaking of Emmeline Pankhurst.

“Rabbit Skin Cheques” – [Jimmy Daley] My Grandfather grew up on a farm in Tamworth. They didn’t have much money and they also had a problem with rabbits. So he would kill the rabbits, skin them and then sell the skins to a shop in town to make some extra pocket money. What a great topic for a country song!

“Turn the Light On” – [James Morrison] This was one of our first songs, but was long forgotten and buried. After a cathartic moment walking home between recording sessions, it seemed relevant again, not as the lighthearted song about being in the doghouse, but now as a plead to not be shut out of a relationship.

“Wild Eleanor” – [Jimmy Daley] Another old one from The Steamgrass Boys, we released this as a single last year and won an award at the Australian Song Writers Association for folk/acoustic song of the year. We also played it on The Bachelor, ha. It’s been such a staple song for The Morrisons that we decided to record it again and chuck it on there. It’s very live, warts and all. That is a reflection of how we recorded the whole album really. We tried to do it as live as possible, without overdubs etc. That means you have to accept a few mistakes here and there but the spirit and intensity of your performance stays intact, which is much more important than your ego staying intact. Multi tracked, slick folk/bluegrass recordings for me miss the point of what is so powerful about this kind of music.

“Long Time Traveling” – [Jimmy Daley] I love harmony singing! It’s my favourite thing to do in music. If I could, I would sit at my computer all day every day writing, arranging and recording vocal harmonies. I wrote this song whilst traveling around China. I’m not sure where the tune came from but I’d just been humming it to myself the entire trip. The melody has a very pentatonic “asian” quality to it, perhaps it just seeped into my subconscious. We then went up to Inner Mongolia and the lyrics just poured out. It’s an incredible landscape but at the same time it’s marred by destruction and rapid urban development. Like the rest of China it’s a place of insane contrast. I remember sitting waiting for a bus and looking around me at this desolate construction site wasteland and seeing that just over the horizon cows and horses were roaming across the stunning Mongolian steppe the same way they had for centuries. The same grasslands on which Genghis Khan rode his horse. It was bizarre.

“Southern Flavour” – [Anna McInerney] A classic instrumental tune by the father of bluegrass Bill Monroe, “Southern Flavour” is a favourite of The Morrisons and has been in our set list for a long time. It wasn’t originally scheduled for the studio but the idea came up, we did a few takes and we had our album closer.

The Morrisons is available now from all the usual outlets. Download on Bandcamp here. For details of their upcoming tour check out the dates here as well as our review of the album here.

Track By Track: The Lonesome Sea – The Button Collective

Button Collection
Image Courtesy of The Button Collective

This Thursday 7th January Australian folksters The Button Collective will be releasing their brand new EP The Lonesome Sea. The EP was recorded by producer Steve Law at Sunroom Studio in Northern NSW and features two traditional and two original tunes.

After spending a couple of years in Sydney The Button Collective have traded in the security of the inner-city life to live on the road, travelling from festival to festival. As the name of the band would suggest the band is more of a collective, with members based up and down the east coast of Australia.

The Lonesome Sea features the entire Button Collective including Brodie Buttons (Vocals, Guitar), Quinton Trembath (Piano Accordion), Jake Pember (Double Bass), Ben Wilson (Banjo, Harmonica), Andrew Rickert (Violin), Christina Langham (Drums) and Jennifer Hankin (Flute).

The Button Collective’s frontman Brodie Buttons has kindly given Timber and Steel a little insight into each of the tracks on The Lonesome Sea.

“The Lonesome Sea” – I wrote this song aboard the 107ft two mast banks schooner that The Button Collective help crew every couple of months or so. Inspired by the hunger pains I was suffering after forgetting to bring any food aboard with me, I wrote about sailors suffering from scurvy and starving at sea while they reminisced about love left behind.

“The River, Pt. 2” – This song was written as a sequel to the song “The River” from our first album A Ship Sails. The original tells the story of a man who sails along his favourite river every day and learns to love it as a woman. After leaving the river to ramble the earth by land, the river becomes jealous and drowns him upon his return. This second part of the story is his apology to the river and tells of his newfound insight to its vulnerability and the damage it suffered due to his leaving.

“Paddy’s Lamentation” – This is an irish traditional about a “poor paddy” who flees his country of Ireland, leaving his farm and love to find a better life in America. Upon his arrival he is conscripted to the Union Army and sent to the battlefields of the American civil war. The chorus of this song is a warning to his pals back home not to make the same mistake as him.

“Adieu Sweet Lovely Nancy” – This traditional song of the sea is a sailor’s last words to his love before embarking on a long voyage. He tells her of the perils he will face at sea to earn their wage. He finishes with the cruel irony of the hardships they still endure upon his return due to him having spent all his wages at the bar drinking to his wife and family back home, forcing him to once again return to sea.

The Lonesome Sea is available for streaming on Bandcamp and will be available for pre-order through Folk Til Ya Punk Records later this month. The Button Collective will be launching the EP at a bunch of gigs over the next month, including a massive show this Thursday in their hometown of Lismore. Check out the full list of dates below:

Thursday 7th January – Rooftop, Lismore, NSW
Sunday 10th January – The Union, Sydney, NSW
Thursday 14th January – Gaelic Club, Sydney, NSW
Friday 15th to Sunday 17th January – Illawarra Folk Festival, Bulli, NSW
Friday 22nd January – Smiths Alternative, Canberra, ACT
Saturday 23rd January – Swamp Collective, Newcastle, NSW
Sunday 31st January – Black Wire Records, Sydney, NSW

Track By Track: Air & Sea, Ainsley Farrell

Air and Sea
Image Courtesy of Ainsley Farrell

Sydney based singer-songwriter Ainsley Farrell releases her highly anticipated new album Air & Sea today and we’re very excited to debut it first on Timber and Steel. Farrell has a unique voice and this album is just spectacular.

We sat down with Ainsley Farrell ahead of today’s release to go through the story behind each track. Listen to Air & Sea accompanied by Ainsley Farrell’s thoughts below:

“Salt / Swallowing Sea” – The idea came to me from a reoccurring dream, in which I’m diving under waves as they gradually get larger and stronger; except in my dream I somehow manage to end up safe on the shore every time the waves get too big. “Salt / Swallowing Sea” is about surrendering to the sea and letting its powers swallow you. It also plays on blind love and tragic romance.

“Milk” – “Milk” is about being absolutely consumed by a relationship and then spit out. It’s about always putting the one you love first and loosing yourself through that process.

“Teeth” – I had a dream where all of my teeth fell out (apparently it’s a pretty common dream I’m told). “Teeth” can signify strength and health and without them one might feel a bit defeated. I think of little teeth bandits every time I sing this song.

“Bones” – Don’t drown in your hardships. Keep on moving on.

“Carried On” – I wrote this one about eight or nine years ago. It’s about never acknowledging the elephant in the room and just carrying on with life while the elephant continues to take up the best spot on the couch and insist on brushing its hair a hundred counts in the bathroom so that you miss your bus and are late to school everyday.

“Vegetables” – I originally set out to make a grocery list album, but things didn’t really go to plan. Maybe one day Fruit or TP will make it to the list.

“Air & Sea” – “Air & Sea” is about looking back to the beginning at the end of a long relationship. It’s about remembering how good it was and wishing it could have stayed that way forever.

“Honey” – “Honey” is about trying to run from the things that are difficult to face, but realizing they’ll all catch up to you at some point.

“Sleeves” – This is part of an instrumental piece I put together my first year in Uni (about seven years ago). My good friend Lachlan McCarthy plays a beautiful acoustic number over the top of it.

“My Man” – I think it’s pretty obvious what this one’s about so I won’t go into it too much. Part of the song is about the initial fantasy of being in a relationship with someone you like and holding that person up on a pedestal; then actually being in a romantic relationship with that person and realizing its not all you hoped or dreamed it would be.

“Threads” – Moving on and cutting ties (threads).

“Mahead” – “Mahead” is about the anger that first comes with heartbreak and betrayal and trying to show that you are strong and unbroken.

“Dream” – This dream starts out with me stealing all the free samples in a chocolate shop. A lady sees me, gets very angry and chases me out of the store. This doesn’t really have anything to do with the song. The song is about being chased around by tigers, lions and bears, but I’m starting to think that the lady at the chocolate shop was an Animorph.

“Charlie” – Charlie was my mom’s pet parakeet. Mom would take him out of his cage each night and let him sit on her shoulder while she taught him new sayings. I’m sure it also gave him a good chance to ponder about the meaning of life or whether or not his sunflower seeds were gluten free. Anyway, my mom also has two dogs, who have always gotten along with Charlie alright. However, one night Charlie got spooked and flew down to the floor and that was the last of him. I think he was a very misunderstood bird and no one gave him the time of day except for my mom. Hopefully he has found his keys in bird heaven. “Where’s my keys?” – Charlie R.I.P.

“Silent Woods” – Some songs are left better unexplained 😉

“Owl” – I once read how seeing an owl in your dreams signifies something in your life you no longer need.

“Home” – This song is about the comforts of home.

Air & Sea is available now via Bandcamp here. Ainsley Farrell will be launching the album at Hibernian House in Sydney tonight with Georgia Mulligan and Catgut – for more information check out the official Facebook event here,

Track By Track: Graceful Mistake, Tomas Strode & The Tour Guides

Graceful Mistake
Image Courtesy of Tomas Strode & The Tour Guides

Melbourne six-piece indie-folk band Tomas Strode & The Tour Guides recently released their brand new album Graceful Mistake. Lead singer and songwriter Tomas Strode has taken the time to take us through the album for a very special Track by Track.

“Graceful Mistake” – The title track was one of those songs that pretty much wrote itself. During the pre-production phase of recording process I sat down to write a song that outlined all the themes on the album, and this song was what came out. The song focuses on the constant motion of time, the need to always reflect on the past and the lessons learnt with growing up. I think it introduces a more mature sound for the band.

“Bella” – This song came together while experimenting with open tunings on the guitar. It’s a pretty common story about a girl and the end of a relationship. The production on this song was a lot of fun, the choice to use handclaps and beat-boxing for the percussion really landed this song in a great space!

“A Thousand Voices” – This would definitely be one of my favourite songs on the album. When I listen to it I hear everything I wanted the album to be. The mood of this one, set by Melbourne ladies Aluka, builds slowly to a big sound in the final section. The song itself is quite an old one of mine, a reflection of love lost…

“Don’t Be Offended” – Writing this song was the first step towards the bigger production you can hear on the album. Before the lyrics or melody took shape, I had already come up with horn lines and arrangement ideas for the song. The first demo of this one was a lot heavier, with a strong rock beat and distorted guitars, when we came to record the album we decided a more delicate approach would suit the overall vibe a lot more.

“Loaded Gun” – I wrote this song as a duet for myself and fellow Melbourne singer-songwriter/bandmate Amy Alex. It’s a classic boy/girl duet really, and maybe as close to pop song as I’ll ever get! In production it didn’t seem like it was going to be a highlight, but I think once we had finished the album it had become a stand out.

“The Sword” – This track was the lead single off our album and the first taste of what was a new sound for The Tour Guides. It was written around the idea of blame and how certain events can’t ever be the responsibility of just one person. The horns in this one really add to the upbeat 70’s style production, even though it’s probably one the of darkest themed songs on the album.

“Bible Learned” – As the title might suggest, this songs tackles the idea of religion. I wrote this song quite a while ago, so when we got to the the pre-production stage it was really nice to work this onto the album. We let the arrangement for this song write itself. While in the studio we recorded a number of different takes of everything then pieced it together while mixing it. It was a real pleasure to watch it grow over the six months of recording.

“Broken Road” – This song surprised me, being the favourite of nearly every person I spoke to. I didn’t start off liking this song a whole heap, but it started to grow on me once the band pushed it for the follow up single. It was such a pleasure having the Aluka girls feature on this album, I think they really made this song special … We also have a cool little video clip for this one, you should check it out!

“Saved By The Bellé” – When it came to recording, we decided we would reinvent this song and feature it as part of the album, even though it was on our original EP The Cat & The Fiddle. It was one of the first songs I wrote as a songwriter and because of that it has stuck with me. Simply put, it’s about growing up.

“Too Busy Digging” – This one almost didn’t make it onto the album, it was problematic right from the start, I don’t think any of us had really settled on a solid idea. After piecing it together in the studio, we decided it would be a nice way to finish the album. I’ve always had a bit of a love/ hate relationship with the lyrics of this track, I think maybe because I never saw myself writing politically themed songs. It turns out, in fact, that people really love this song.

Graceful Mistake is available now via Bandcamp or iTunes.

Track By Track: All About To Change, Patrick James

All About To Change
Image Courtesy of Patrick James

The long-awaited EP from Patrick James, All About To Change, was finally released a couple of weeks ago and the reaction so far from the Timber and Steel bullpen has been ecstatic to say the least. The EP may only be 5 tracks long but it’s 5 tracks that perfectly capture an artist that has come into his own as a songwriter. We asked Patrick James to take us through each of the tracks and he helpfully sent over some lyric videos as well. Check out the All About To Change Track by Track below:

“Brighter Lights” – This is the first track off the EP. I originally wrote this song on guitar and tried to incorporate only a little piano/keyboard line. After recording that version we decided it didn’t work for us in that form and we chose to experiment with how we could change the song up and build on the layers throughout. We had a lot of fun adding the 2 main piano lines and vocal swells and we really wanted to make the recording represent the “wall of sound” that we were going for. This song wasn’t heavily focused on lyrics but rather the production and instrumentation.

“All About To Change” – This song is the title track on the EP. I wrote this about the idea that everyone at some stage is lost or struggling with something in their lives but find a way to turn that around and move on. People can make what they want of the lyrics though. It was a very fun song to record with the country drums and many underlining instruments throughout. We even had some sneaky blues guitar solos going on!

“Golden Sun” – A few years ago I was very inspired by a movie call Morning of The Earth. Its basically a film about surfing in the 70’s and the lifestyle that goes with it. Not to mention the soundtrack is incredible. With a surfing background I really related to this so I wrote this song with that idea in mind, to try and create a vibe that reflected a retro feel but also the times now. Also, the chorus harmonies and instrumentation were influenced by a lot of Elton John and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young songs that I love.

“Burn Away” – When I listen to the EP, it feels like this song is almost the turning point in the mood. It’s a very simple song but again we wanted to create a build up in sound and production, this time in a more gentle way. The song it self is written as a sort of meditation which just flows along and grows at its on pace. The recording features a choral vocal part which was a lot of fun. We went to our old school and got a bunch of kids to sing a line towards the end of the song which is essentially the climax. We got to test out our conduction skills!

“Stay” – I wrote this a little different to other songs on the EP. I had these lyrics floating around but no music, it was just a simple poem. Normally, I tend to write songs through melody first and then lyrics but I was interested by the simplicity of the words so I came up with the chord progression to match after that. It features a vibe motif and electric guitar to create the darker mood. As the last track of the EP, I think it sits nicely and rounds the project off.

All About To Change is available on iTunes here. Patrick James is supporting Emma Louise (along with Thelma Plum) on her national tour – remaining dates are below:

Thursday 9th May – The Yarra Hotel, Geelong VIC
Friday 10th May – Corner Hotel, Melbourne, VIC (SOLD OUT)
Saturday 11th May – Karova Lounge, Ballarat, VIC
Thursday 16th May – Great Northern Hotel, Newcastle, NSW
Friday 17th May – Metro Theatre, Sydney, NSW
Saturday 18th May – Zierholz @ UC, Canberra ACT
Sunday 19th May – Heritage Hotel, Bulli, NSW
Thursday 23rd May – Woombye Pub, Sunshine Coast, QLD
Friday 24th May – Hi-Fi, Brisbane, QLD
Saturday 25th May – Paradise Room, The Arts Centre, Gold Coast, QLD
Sunday 26th May – Great Northern Hotel, Byron Bay, NSW
Friday 31st May – Tanks Arts Centre, Cairns QLD
Saturday 1st June – Flinders Social, Townsville, QLD
Tuesday 4th June – Corner Hotel, Melbourne, VIC
Friday 7th June – Darwin Railway Club, Darwin, NT
Thursday 13th June – Prince of Wales, Bunbury, WA
Friday 14th June – Fly By Night, Fremantle, WA
Saturday 15th June – Amplifier, Perth, WA

Track By Track: Reckless, Kathryn Rollins

Kathryn Rollins
Image Courtesy of Kathryn Rollins

Fremantle based singer-songwriter Kathryn Rollins released her brand new EP Reckless late last month and it’s been seeing a decent amount of buzz since. We asked Kathryn Rollins to take us through the songs on Reckless for the latest in our Track By Track series:

“Courage” – I wrote “Courage” at a time in my life where I was having an epiphany about my own ability to push through difficult and uncomfortable situations and emotions. I was learning how to endure hardship in a new way and it was a powerful realisation. I wanted to write a song that reminded me of that feeling and illustrated the contrast between the dark times and the discovery of my inner courage. It’s a very hopeful song.

“Who Shot The Bird Down?” – This song is all about contrast, vulnerability and rage. It’s a song about being taken advantage of, both as an individual and on a larger scale. The bird represents innocence, glory and beauty and then someone comes along and shoots it. I was channeling some anger from past hurts when I wrote it.

“Reckless” – I wrote “Reckless” when I was 18 or 19, it’s the oldest song on the record. Looking back I was in the midst of a transformation from my teenage self into my adult self and was struggling with some difficult emotions. I was in a relationship where I felt like I couldn’t control my actions, I was too overcome by subconscious needs that I didn’t know I had. They translated as neediness and intensity, whereas I wanted to just be cool, calm and understanding of the other person. Reckless is about that self-induced pain that’s especially true when you’re a teenager and you have all these expectations of who you should and shouldn’t be.

“Cold Water” – This is probably my favourite song on the record at the moment because of its simplicity and clarity. All of the other songs are a lot more conflicted and dark whereas Cold Water to me is an admission of the basic need for other people in your life to love you and bring you comfort. I love its purity in terms of arrangement as well, it very much represents my sound from before the EP was recorded.

Reckless is available on iTunes here. Kathryn Rollins will be appearing at the Grace Darling in Melbourne on Thursday 9th May

Track By Track: Before the Morning, Tigertown

Before the Morning
Image Courtesy of Tigertown

Sydney’s very own indie “family band” Tigertown recently released their brand new five track EP Before the Morning. We asked the guys from Tigertown to talk us through each of the songs from the new EP in the latest Track by Track. Here’s what they had to say:

“Morning has Finally Come” – We wrote this just after we finished our first EP. I think after about a year of writing together, we finally felt like we had found our sound and it was also the time that the rest of our brothers and sisters were joining the band so there was an over all feeling of anticipation. It was a year later that we recorded it but it still marks the start of being a band. We had just been to Peats Ridge Festival and were pretty inspired so I think everything we did in this song we imagined playing it at a festival.

“Lions and Witches” – We are big fans of C.S.Lewis. His stories were a big part of our childhood and the idea of brothers and sisters running through another world resonated strongly with us as a band, being all related. Making music that creates another world to go to is pretty important to us so we went all out in this one. The film clip was actually just us reliving our childhood in dress ups and home made props. It’s a pretty big sound, and it only came out of playing together more as a six piece through out the end of last year.

“All We Stand On” – We had a picture of two people stranded in the Arabian desert and this song is really just trying to paint that picture. The desert represents a situation in a relationship. One character wants to move on while the other is being held back by something. The end section always gets intense when we play it live so we were happy with how we captured this in recording. Fun fact: We weren’t able to finish this song until we had dressed ourselves up in scarves and saris and danced around the house.

“After Hours”Chris: This song is about three years old. I wrote this song when I first met Charlie, and we hadn’t even started dating. I guess I wasn’t in a place to be dating someone and was trying too stall things a bit, but pretty soon we were married. I think those first couple of weeks of meeting someone are really intense and we’re glad we have a record of that time on this EP. The drum sound in this recording is my favourite drum sound ever. Kurt’s a monster when it comes to snare sounds and Jimi, our producer, captured it perfectly.

“Monsters”Charlie: Chris bought me the book Where the Wild Things Are for Christmas. It made me feel like a little kid again and I got lost in it. We tried to make the song a journey like the book. The way it starts, it could be just me in my bedroom. It builds its way into a pretty big world but just like the book, it ends the same way it starts. The crickets in the recording are from our original demo that we recorded at home. Cronulla crickets are pretty loud in summer.

Before the Morning is available now. Tigertown have two more dates on their national tour this weekend – and keep an eye out for the band on the festival circuit over the summer:

Friday 26th October – Barsoma, Brisbane, QLD
Saturday 27th October – Bon Amici Café, Toowoomba, QLD

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