New Music Monday – 26th August

Hayden Calnin
Image Courtesy of Hayden Calnin

Bear’s Den – “Hiding Bottles”

For the video for their new single “Hiding Bottles”, English indie-folk band Bear’s Den tackle the very confronting reality of living with an alcoholic parent. It’s a confronting track but tackled deftly by the band with their usual high standard of songwriting and musicianship. “Hiding Bottles” is taken from the album So That You Might Hear Me.

Bon Iver – “Naeem”

In a surprise move Bon Iver released their new album i,i digitally almost three weeks earlier than was originally announced, delighting fans worldwide. Alongside the album release was the new single and lyric video “Naeem”. The track is more vocally driven than a lot of the other music from i,i, featuring Justin Vernon’s voice driven by a soulful piano and softly strummed acoustic guitar. But of course the experimentation and glitchy instrumentation we’ve come to expect from Bon Iver isn’t far away, and the combination makes this one of my favourite songs from the new album.

D.C Cross – “Presslufthammer Catfight”

D.C Cross is the latest moniker from Sydney based singer-songwriter Darren Cross (Gerling, Jep & Dep, Darren Cross Band) covering his latest foray into instrumental folk guitar. In the single “Presslufthammer Catfight” Cross appears to have moved on from the alt-country of his recent output to embrace the type of fingerpicked folk guitar popular with practitioners of the Anglo-Celtic tradition. His playing is full of open-tuned resonance and interesting chordal and finger-picking choices that come together in a really special piece of instrumental music.

Harvey Russell – “Please Don’t Pretend”

Sydney based alt-country singer-songwriter Harvey Russell has been making quite a splash since launching his solo project – and that’s set to continue with the announcement of his debut album Liquid Damage to be released this Friday 30th August. His latest single “Please Don’t Pretend” borrows heavily from traditional country, with its heart firmly planted in the artists of yesteryear.

“Traditional country is pure in the sense that it seems to be able to tap into universal truths and themes which have always appealed to me.” Harvey Russell explained. “Although country songs can sound simple, writing quality country songs is far from easy! I guess that’s a challenge I’m attracted to; refining my songwriting in a genre to which I’ve always been drawn.”

Harvey Russell will be launching in Sydney this Saturday as well as a handful of shows through September:

Saturday 31st August – The Newsagency, Sydney, NSW
Friday 13th to Sunday 15th September – Nimbin Roots Festival, Nimbin, NSW
Sunday 22nd September – Hamilton Station Hotel, Newcastle, NSW
Thursday 26th September – Midnight Special, Sydney, NSW

Hayden Calnin – “Warm with You”

“Warm With You” is the latest single and video from ambient electro-folk singer-songwriter Hayden Calnin, taken from his upcoming EP A Life You Would Choose which is due for release on the 13th September. The track is classic Hayden Calnin, combining his folk sensibilities, indie influences and production skills to build a beautiful song and an equally beautiful video.

“”Warm With You” is a song about escapism,” Calnin explains. “It’s an expression of wanting to run and get away from everything, live off of the land if you will and start a life with someone. But as life goes on, things change, and those dreams start to take a turn and sometimes it never really happens. I ended up recording 9 different versions of the song before I finally settled on a final version which I think is a record number for me. I’ve never really been that particular about a song before.”

Joe Mungovan – “Be With You”

South Coast based singer-songwriter Joe Mungovan has just released “Be With You”, an etherial indie-pop track full of deep emotions written raw all of his incredible voice.

“I had been living and recording in the bush by myself for a long time when I wrote this song,” Mungovan explained. “It came about because I was in such a beautiful place and having a wonderful time and I wanted to share the experience with another human. The natural environment that surrounded me and the sense of solitude I felt inspired me to write this song.”

Joe Mungovan has a handful of upcoming dates:

Sunday 8th September – A Day On The Hill, Gerringong, NSW
Friday 13th September – Some Velvet Morning, Melbourne, VIC
Sunday 15th September – Lazybones Lounge, Sydney, NSW

Lost Ragas – “Keeping Up With Yesterday”

“Keeping Up With Yesterday” is the brand new, trippy single from Melbourne four-piece Lost Ragas, taken from their upcoming album This Is Not A Dream, due on the 2nd September. The trippy chord progression and bendy slide guitar gives the track a psychedelic quality which seems to be the sound we can expect from This Is Not A Dream if their last single “Just Wastin’ Time” is anything to go on.

Pieta Brown feat. Mark Knopfler – “The Hard Way”

American singer-songwriter Pieta Brown has teamed with the legendary Mark Knopfler for her latest single “The Hard Way”. The track is taken from her upcoming S.Carey produced album Freeway, due on the 20th September, and perfectly combines Brown’s songwriting talents with the laconic guitar style that is so distinctly Mark Knopfler.

“I kept sonically envisioning, ‘If I could just get Mark Knopfler on there…’,” Pieta Brown told Billboard, who featured the track. “Mark is a very sweet, amazing musician and has become a friend through music. So one day I just wrote him a message and asked if he would consider taking a listen to this track. I said I felt like it wasn’t quite done yet, but I wasn’t sure what it needed. I said, ‘I’m hearing the sound of you or something like what you do, and I can’t give you specifics beyond that.’ And he said, ‘Yeah, of course,’ and came up with a great part that made the song undeniable.”

The Lumineers – “Leader Of The Landslide” & “Left For Denver”

We’re now up to the fifth and sixth videos in the series from The Lumineers ahead of their new album III, due on the 13th September. The band are describing “Leader Of The Landslide” as their folk “Starway to Heaven” due to the epic quality of the track whereas “Left For Denver” is a lot more straightforward and stripped back.


Tori Forsyth – “Be Here”

For “Be Here”, the first single since her debut album, Hunter Valley based singer-songwriter Tori Forsyth has shrugged off the alt-country sound in favour of a blistering, grunge inspired track. “Be Here” is crunchy snarly and full of attitude – definitely a new and welcome side to Forsyth’s music.

“Recording this song was one of the smoothest recording sessions I’ve ever done,” Explained Forsyth. “We went in and left five hours later with the song near finished. We knew before we went, where it was going and the influences behind it, PJ Harvey, Soundgarden. It was pretty magic how it just came together so easily. I’ve never been so inspired coming away from the studio. ”

Tori Forsyth is heading out this October and November for an east coast tour:

Friday 18th October – The Milk Factory, Brisbane, QLD
Saturday 19th October – The Imperial Hotel, Eumundi, QLD
Sunday 20th October – Vinnies Dive Bar, Gold Coast, QLD
Friday 25th October – The Stag & Hunter, Newcastle, NSW
Saturday 26th October – The Union Hotel, Sydney, NSW
Sunday 27th October – Frank’s Wild Years, Wollongong, NSW
Friday 1st November – Workers Club, Geelong, VIC
Saturday 2nd November – Wesley Anne, Melbourne, VIC
Sunday 3rd November – Smith’s Alternative, Canberra, ACT

Bluesfest Review: Monday Monday

St Paul & the Broken Bones at Bluesfest. Photos by Stuart Bucknell Photography

It’s the final day of Bluesfest and emotions are a mixed bag of excitement for what ahead, sadness that it’s ending and a bit of relief from the continual stimulation and inspiration from so many amazing artists.

We have to see Blind Boy Paxton again after last year’s show, so we’re here at 1:30pm at the Delta stage as Paxton starts on the keyboard with a sound sentimental to the golden age of Hollywood, a delightful dash of honky tonk and and old times blues sensation. With a dextrous trill of the keys, he has us all enthralled. Paxton says he’s starting off easy “as you all partied to hardy at the festival” last night, and we all laugh, evidence of how he easily builds rapport with the crowd with delightfully timed jokes and comments. He quips “Y’all let me sit off centre [of the stage] and not tell me. Is there anything on my face!?” and breaks in to a huge grin, we chuckle and settle in to enjoy his acoustic guitar dripping in old time blues. The twinkle of his eye matches the twinkle of the guitar strings before he pulls out the harmonica for a spirited performance with rhythm sticks, which keep the momentum going as he sings the refrains.

As fans of early 2000s rockers, Jet, we thought we’d better check in at Crossroads stage to see where the band’s Nic Chester is at these days, and for a 2:15pm chill out, we’re not disappointed. A delicious blend of indie rock and blues soaked riffs greets. His signature vocals hammer home his comfort and familiarity on stage, bringing the crowd in to the fold of his stories.

At 3pm we wander to the Jambalaya stage for Tony Joe White and the crowd erupts in applause as the legend takes to the stage. It seems appropriate at Easter to have a voice as deep and smooth as chocolate smother you in blues, and we all revel in its seductive tones. White rumbles along like percolating coffee, earthy, enticing and altogether satisfying with tones and tales.

After yesterday’s teaser, we decide to head to Delta stage at 4:30pm to see more of Lloyd Spiegel than a passing glimpse. It’s clear pretty quickly that Spiegel is a tongue in cheek wit as he jests that he “might as well tune my guitar on stage” before showing off fingers moving so fast there we half expect to see smoke rising from the fast finger friction! Clearly this set should have come with a warning sign! Amazing sounds stream out of one guitar, the likes equivalent of multiple guitars, and a stomp box the stamp out a hectic beat. Just as we think it’s reached it’s peak, Spiegel unleashes a laconic voice that dances with his guitar string. Ever the comedian, stories are told between songs making us all laugh. Did you know “the Queen thinks he world smells like fresh paint? Because everywhere she goes has been freshly painted!” And blues isn’t safe as he declares “Jeff Lang has never seen a guitarist play to their full capacity because they all shit themselves when he walks in!” His infectious sense of humour has the crowd in stitches and his ferocious fret work has us all in awe. If you want a real laugh, ask his about the guy who “won” the guitar in the raffle – the story is a corker!

As 5pm rolls around we dash to see St Paul & The Broken Bones at the Mojo stage. Their set flawed us last year and this year they’re up there as a must see! With a pre-recorded intro like something out of old Hollywood, but overtaken by old soul, the melody acts like siren song luring people in to join the crowds eagerly anticipating their show. After their 2016 roustabout style performance, this year they deliver a much more soulful and serene performance. The crowds are absorbed, transfixed and transported to another time through the multilayer musings, the sultry, emotive dalliances, and the standing ovation inspiring instrumentals. As we’re all lulled in to their rhythm, they segue in to an upbeat and energetic full band piece laden with funk, just to wake up all of our senses and have us all moving to the beat!

Noticing a name we recognise, Ashleigh Mannix, as part of the folk-grunge duo line up for Little Georgia, we head to Juke Joint to catch their 6pm set. We’re greeted with “This Old House” in sublime harmonised vocals and one-two combination of an acoustic and an electric guitar working together like the best sweet and sour you’ve ever tasted. Delivering an electrified indie vibe with a side of dirty grunge, the duo still trips lightly along the line between acoustic sensibilities and a fully electric sound. The instruments sonically dance together rather than battling for supremacy and a gutsy, punchy opening cements them within the minds of the crowd. Mannix’s vocals offer a depth of tone and nuance, highlighted by Carter’s higher pitched twang. Together they have an intimacy on stage that connects the two yet invites the crowd in to fully experience the counterpoints of lyrical progression. As they both switch to acoustic guitars, the difference has a significant change to their sound and vibe creating a very upbeat and organic sound. Their set wanders deeply in to the folk and indie realms, revels in its joyousness, crosses in to mournful lament, a sentimental melancholy with the sweetest treatment musically, and dives back in to the grunge element seamlessly. Definitely an act to keep an eye on!

We decide to venture to the Craft Beer Bar and grab a stool out the front to catch some of Kasey Chambers‘ 6:45pm set at Crossroads stage. She has everyone singing, even the guy in the crowd sporting a full beard and passionate rendition of “Not Pretty Enough”. Chambers charms the crowd with her deliciously harmonised songs where country meets blues and spell binding rendition of crowd favourites.

Since it’s the last night, and we saw Sir Rosevelt the other night, we figure we should go and catch Zac Brown Band at 8:15pm on the Mojo stage. Our first reaction? “Holy shit!” That rumbling guitar opening and a whole bunch of country style toe tapping, hand clapping, clear plucking, good-time hoe-down style cacophony hits us like a wave, picking us up and taking us on a wild ride. There is wild fiddle tearing the house down with an electric boost smashing “Whiskey’s Gone” in to the ether. Lead singer Brown has the crowd in palm of hand, we’re cheering at the intro and singing along in a heartbeat, whether we know the words or not. A full spectrum performance where we traverse the upbeat, the solemn, the optimistic, heartfelt and the lamentful touch points of life. And to top it off, for the second time this festival, we are treated to a spirited cover of Bohemian Rhapsody.

To finish the night, and bring our festival to an end, we swing by the Delta stage at 9pm to witness The Record Company. Reminiscent of Ash Grunwald’s vigor with harmonica, distorted mic but with a kicking bass guitar and hefty drums backing up. As a delectable counterpoint, the fine harmonica trills are the main instrument when lead singer Vos is not singing. A powerful rock crescendo to finish our Bluesfest experience.

If you think you’d like to head to Bluesfest 2018, early bird tickets are now available to buy at heavily discounted prices. Essentially, every time we’ve ever been, it’s guaranteed a great line up and festival. If you’ve never been, do what you can to make it one year!

Trip back over our full weekend at Bluesfest:

5 Things We Learned at Bluesfest 2017
Bluesfest Review: Good Friday is a fine day!
Bluesfest Review: Saturday Celebration
Bluesfest Review: Sweet Sunday

Head to our Facebook Page to see our full collection of photos from the festival

Highlights from Monday at Bluesfest

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