New Music Monday – 20th May

Kate Miller Heidke
Image Courtesy of Kate Miller-Heidke

Elephant Sessions – “Colours”

If you’ve managed to catch Scottish trad-fusion band Elephant Sessions on one of their trips to Australia, most recently for this year’s Bluesfest, you’ll know that you’re no doubt already a fan. The band released their sophomore album What Makes You last week and have also given us their latest single “Colours”, a driving instrumental which perfectly captures their unique sound.

Rumours are that Elephant Sessions will be returning to our shores in 2020 so keep an eye out for more news soon!

Harmony Byrne – “Smoke Inside”

“Smoke Inside”, the crunchy blues waltz from Australian singer-songwriter Harmony Byrne, is definitely worth a listen this week. The track is taken from Byrne’s upcoming album Heavy Doors and features her amazing voice alongside some really slick production.

“As a child I was told that I was a drama queen,” Harmony Byrne says of the track. “Initially, I mistook this as being a negative aspect of my personality and struggled to express myself. But thankfully, I was also taught to have self-worth, honesty, integrity, and that I only ever need be myself in a world full of frauds. “Smoke Inside” is all about valuing who you are, no matter how wild or tame, and that if someone you love doesn’t let you light up inside, then they are not the match for you.”

Kate Miller-Heidke – “Ernie”

If you’ve been devouring all the media surrounding Kate Miller-Heidke and the Eurovision Song Contest you may have caught her on the ABC’s Australian Story program last week. Which means you probably also heard her gorgeous new song “Ernie”.

The track, which is dedicated to Miller-Heidke’s son, is the singer-songwriter at her stripped back best. “Ernie” stands in stark contrast to the bombast of her Eurovision song “Zero Gravity” but the thread that ties the two together is just how intensely personal and vulnerable Kate Miller-Heidke’s songwriting can be.

Kaurna Cronin – “Gotta Get Outta This Place”

Singer-songwriter and Timber and Steel favourite Kaurna Cronin has just released his gorgeous new single “Gotta Get Outta This Place”. The track is the perfrect example of Cronin’s trademark emotive songwriting and also features a groove that definitely sucked me in.

“This song is one I’ve been wanting to write for a long time but had never really managed to get the tone quite right,” Kaurna Cronin explained. “It’s a song about internal battles of a sense of belonging and love for the idea of ‘ones home’ and the ongoing feeling of needing to get away from home to experience the unknown to be inspired by different places, people and ideas. It was important for me to try and capture the sense of passion and inspiration in ones home and not dismiss that – it’s about the conflict of urges that one can associate with not wanting to feel ‘comfort’ anymore.”

Cronin has managed to find some time this June for some Australian shows before he heads out on a national tour – the full list of dates are below:

Thursday 6th June – The Toff In Town, Melbourne, VIC
Saturday 8th June – Low 302, Sydney, NSW
Saturday 14th June – Chateau Apollo, Adelaide, SA

Little May – “As Loving Should”

Having just released their new album Blame My Body, indie-pop duo Little May have treated us to their latest single “As Loving Should”. The folk and acoustic influences on Little May’s music are still very much a part of the sound of this new track and I’m loving the retro aesthetic of the video.

Missy Higgins – “Song For Sammy”

For Mother’s Day last week Missy Higgins released her beautiful new song “Song For Sammy”. Written for her son Sammy, the ukulele driven track is classic Missy Higgins, stripped back to basics and lyrically driven. Beautiful stuff.

Neil & Liam Finn – “Meet Me In The Air”

Father-son duo Neil & Liam Finn have released the dreamy new single “Meet Me In The Air”. The video takes the family band vibe even further feating appearances from Sharon Finn and Elroy Finn and was shot after soundcheck at a show in London. If you’re after some transcendent pop music today this could be your jam.

Simon Imrei – “Stand Still”

Melbourne based Americana singer-songwriter Simon Imrei has just released the new single from EP due later this year, the very catchy “Stand Still”. I’m particularly loving the subtle pedal steel spread throughout this track and I can definitely see it making its way onto a bunch of driving playlists with its laidback grove.

Takadimi Launches Debut CD at The National

Takadimi
Image Courtesy of Takadimi

Last year at the National Folk Festival I stumbled across Sydney based folk-fushion six piece Takadimi at a blackboard session and was absolutely blown away. Fast forward a year and Takadimi used the 45th National to launch their debut album New Common Sense.

I managed to catch Takadimi at two of their three scheduled shows at this year’s National (missing only their late night/early morning album launch on Sunday/Monday). They’ve lost none of their youthful exuberance but their stage show seems a tighter and well practiced than before – Takadimi are well on their way to becoming a formidible live act.

Have a listen to “Gone Swimmin'” below (from Takadimi’s Unearthed page) for a taste of what you can expect from New Common Sense and if you like it contact the band for a copy or chase one down at one of their live shows – it will definitely be worth you while.

Gone Swimmin’

New Music From Takadimi

Takadimi
Image Courtesy of Takadimi

Timber and Steels’ favourite discovery of the 2010 National Folk Festival and all round cool kids Takadimi have just recorded four new tracks and uploaded them onto their Myspace. The tracks, recorded in violinist Brianne Curran’s basement by Fito include:

“Plans” by James McKendry arranged by Takadimi
“You Know, You Know” by Brianne Curran arranged by Takadimi
“Nothing Matters” by Curtis Argent arranged by Takadimi
“Leaves to Fall” by Brianne Curran arranged by Takadimi

Head over to Takadimi’s Myspace and check them out now.

Spotlight On: Béla Fleck

Bela Fleck
Image Courtesy of Béla Fleck

There was a time when being a banjo player was not something you admitted in polite company. The fact that the instrument has made a renaissance is probably due in some small way to one man: Béla Fleck

Béla Fleck is probably a name that’s familiar to anyone who’s graced the East or West Coast Blues and Roots festivals in the past few years. Whether as a solo artist, with his band The Flecktones or as part of his latest Africa Project, Béla Fleck has always left Australian audiences wanting more.

When one normally thinks of banjo music bluegrass, trad or even barbershop spring to mind. And while Béla Fleck touches on all of these genres in truth he transcends them and turns the banjo into truly classical instrument. More similar to a concert pianist or virtuoso violinist, Fleck is truly in a league of his own.

Béla Fleck and the Flecktones first came to prominence supporting the Dave Matthews Band on their numerous tours around America and has appeared as a guest musician on their albums. He has also recently written and released “Danse Macabre” a piece of music to accompany Neil Gaiman’s latest novel The Graveyard Book. Having just visited our shores with his African Project at Easter we are unlikely to see him here again soon, although don’t be surprised if he pops up on the lineup for festivals next year.

Country of Origin: USA
Sounds Like: The Yo Yo Ma of banjo music
File Under: Trad, Bluegrass, Fusion-Folk, Blues
Official site: www.belafleck.com
Myspace: myspace.com/belaflecktones

Spotlight On: The Crooked Fiddle Band

The Crooked Fiddle Band
Image Courtesy of The Crooked Fiddle Band

I first saw The Crooked Fiddle Band completely by accident at the 2008/9 Peats Ridge Festival. I was just coming down off dancing like a maniac to the sounds of Sydney’s The Bakery as we saw in the New Year and had decided it was time to call it a night and head back to my tent. But before I had a chance to make it across the river to the camp ground I was captivated by this amazing sound emanating from one of the marquees. I stepped in and was immediately blown away – here was one of the best instrumental bands I had ever seen.

Self-described as chainsaw-folk vigilantes, The Crooked Fiddle Band’s music is a melting pot of various Celtic and European traditions mixed with a healthy dose of jazz, funk and hardcore rock. Their sound is challenging, familiar yet implacable and always energetic. They transport you through gypsy to Irish to jazz with ease and in doing so have created a sound unlike anything out there. If you see The Crooked Fiddle Band and don’t want to dance then there’s something wrong with you.

Made up of Jess Randall (fiddle, vocals), Gordon Wallace (guitar, bouzouki, mandolin), Mark Stevens (double bass, charango) and Joe Gould (drums, percussion), The Crooked Fiddle Band are based out of Sydney but can be found regularly at festivals around the country. They are about to head over to the UK and Ireland to immerse themselves in the folk-festival scene there so there’s only a couple of chances to see them locally before they go, your best being at this year’s Snowy Mountains of Music festival. Check the gig guide for other dates in Sydney and Canberra before they leave these shores for a while.

Country of Origin: Australia
Sounds Like: Gypsy-jazz with a healthy dose of thrash
File Under: Trad, Gypsy, Celtic, Fusion-Folk
Official site: www.crookedfiddleband.com
Myspace: myspace.com/thecrookedfiddleband

Spotlight On: Takadimi

Takadimi
Image Courtesy of Takadimi

I first saw Takadimi completely by accident at this year’s National Folk Festival. I found myself caught in the rain and ducked into one of the smaller tents to get dry just as they were getting on stage. By the time the rain stopped outside I was transfixed and just couldn’t leave, especially when Mal Webb joined them on stage for an impromptu jam.

Takadimi are Curtis Argent (bass), Jeffrey Argent (percussion), Brianne Curran (violin), James McKendry (guitar) and Kieran Ryan-Colton (guitar). Their instrumental sound has been described as “folk-fusion” and it’s easy to see why – the music melds genres from folk to jazz to blues to rock and back again. Their tunes are explorations into the possibilities of music with a heavy dose of improvisation.

The talent in each of the members of Takadimi is astounding. James McKendry and Kieran Ryan-Colton play guitar like it is an extension of their bodies. Curtis Argent pulls his bass out of the rhythm section and places it firmly up front with the rest of the lead instruments. Jeffrey Argent’s drumming is just out of this world. But it’s the beautiful Brianne Curran on violin who really steals the show. Her violin is simply wonderful to behold and she channels Stéphane Grappelli at the height of his powers.

What the band lacks in confidence (they’re young and when i saw them they were playing with one of their heroes) they definitely make up for in pure talent and enthusiasm. Based in Sydney they seem to be doing their best to be present at most of the major folk festivals around the country. If you get a chance to come out of the rain and experience Takadimi you won’t ever look at folk music the same way again.

Country of Origin: Australia
Sounds Like: Stéphane Grappelli and Django Reinhardt meet Jimmy Page in a folk club
File Under: Folk-Fusion, Jazz
Myspace: myspace.com/takadimiplace

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