Review:Riverboats Music Festival

Brian Nankervis-7
Photos by Stuart Bucknell Photography

Here at Timber and Steel, we’ve been to a fair few festivals. From huge national events, to small and intimate gatherings celebrating local. For quite some time, The Riverboats Music Festival on the Victorian border has been on our radar, and 2020 was the year we made the trek.

We are used to Folk Festivals being set on gorgeous land with camping facilities and asense of remoteness. The Riverboats Music Festival however is nestled in the center of bustling Echuca in a natural reserve come ampitheatre. With modern accommodations surrounding the venue, a strong local supporter base, and performer curation to die for, the festival clearly is on a winning ticket. See our full gallery on our Facebook page, and read on for our full review.

Welcome to Country-3

We were welcomed on Friday with the caress of the afternoon sun and a Welcome to Country that gave a great account of Yorta Yorta country and its history, delivering a friendly warm welcome in local language. The festival kicked off with the Americana stylings of charismatic Matt Joe Gow. He wowed the crowd with an assortment of pieces, changing pace and rhythm to mix things up, sliding some blues in and telling great stories and tales of how songs came to life between. Amongst his tales, the truth behind Break Rattle and Roll lit up the crowd as the favourite track echoed across the space. A perfect opening to a weekend of great music.

 

Dyson Stringer Cloher-11

Next was a delight, surprise, and treat wrapped in one – Dyson Stringer Cloher, the trio made up of Jen Cloher, Mia Dyson, and Liz Stringer. Dusting off their 2013 collaboration project, and bringing recent debut album to life on stage, the exceptional trio were a vision in technicolour. In fact, if The Wiggles were an all female indie band, this would be it. Their clever multi-layered vocals complimented the inspired guitar, creating rich captivating aural textures. Their beautiful harmonies reflected the beauty of the setting sunbeams shining through the leafy green glen. Sultry harmony soaked ballads slipped innocently between upbeat indie fun times, and the stage was set for the night.

To round out the opening night of the three-day festival, Country star Troy Cassar-Daley made his own dreams come true, finally taking to the Riverboats stage. He was at once friendly, yet charismatic, filling the stage with his presence. The set revolved around his storytelling prowess, drawing upon his family heritage to weave musical magic. He played both instrument and audience perfectly, switching from country to blues, kicking up in to higher gears, bringing the tone back down with harmonica trills, and the audience singing along.Troy Cassar-Daley-2

Saturday morning brought a number of options for festival goers – the morning was full of sideshows on the water, with one-hour riverboat cruises. But the main gates and festival tunes kicked off in the early afternoon with delightfully insightful Ainslie Wills. Performing as a 3 piece, the clear, scintillating harmonized duet reached out grabbed attention. Storytelling intertwined with her own musical style uncovered tricky relationships past, fear of missing out, and treated the crowd finishing with Triple J hit favourite I Blame Society.

Hailing from Go-Betweens fame, Robert Forster’s presence on stage filled the ampitheatre with an indisputable warmth. Working alongside talented musicians, the troubadour was revealed as tales tall or true build vivid imaginings whether a scandal or a flood, a secret rendezvous, the stories unraveled in front of a willing crowd, with a big  city dreams flowing.

Horns Of Leroy Feat. Thando-9Switching gears, the Horns of Leroy, featuring Thando turned the energy up to 11. With their own take on nostalgic track Dancing in the Moonlight, they serenaded the newly wed couple who chose the Festival as their wedding reception location! The party was truly started as combos of instrumentals, smooth vocal tracks, sassy blues, hit covers, hip hop and rap, soul, blues and more and big booming voices got the crowd up and grooving. They delivered a toe tapping, head nodding good time from start to finish. The clincher was the finish, a rendition of I Wanna Dance with Somebody, and the entire festival singing along word for word.

Mama Kin Spender-7

Two long-time friends made their festival debut together as Mama Kin Spender. Mama Kin, and Tommy Spender have a stripped back duo style that allows music to rattle, roll and tremble forth. They knew how to whip up a crowd, bringing a soulful opening, punctuated with clever harmonies and snippets of sass. Their spellbinding on stage rapport was elevated by the amazing 15 piece choir on stage throughout to bolster and support their music to deliver moving moody melodies alongside a playful, eclectic, inclusive and engaging repertoire of rejoicing in song.

As the night set in, Something for Kate took to the stage amongst rapturous applause. Opening with Electricity, it was an apt description as the crowd quickly swelling to see nostalgic favourites and Paul Dempsey in the lead did not disappoint. They kept the energy going, moving in to Echolalia much to everyone’s delight, and then delivering new album tracks that had the unmistakable, iconic sound and emotive edge we’ve come to know and love from Something for Kate. Using a haunting red stage lighting, Stop had the crowd enraptured, before rounding out their set with a rousing performance of Captain.

Something For Kate-15

As the night came closer to an end, the much anticipated performance of the night was finally here. Bernard Fanning took to the stage to huge applause and enthusiastic crowds waiting to sing the night away. He was in fine form, warm yet rugged, and a knowing look in his eye, ready to take us all on a journey. A robust musical tone, strong and vibrant, built an anticipation and eagerness as the musicians melded their prowess in to an all round satisfying and comforting blanket of music. Highlights of course included an emphatic Songbird, the set was a walk down memory lane as Day You Come, and Wish You Well particularly carried the crowd on a tide of good wishes.

 

 

Mama Kin Spender-16

Sunday morning saw the customary festival breakfast treat the crowds who snapped up tickets to see some of the festival acts do it all again in a more intimate setting offsite.

As the Festival proper kicked off late morning, the somewhat smaller crowd (perhaps some sore heads from the night before) gathered to appreciate the dulcet tones of Jess Locke. Her mellow tunes were a perfect, lilting, comforting way to wake up to the final day, her style not dissimilar to Julia Jacklin (appropriate given she toured with Jackiln), had an understated passion and vibrancy to enliven the day.

Bob Evans-7

Bob Evans received a very warm welcome from the crowd as he took to the stage, his set eagerly anticipated. His quintessential rapport with the audience, with nothing but his acoustic guitar and wit set his charisma filled set on fire. With backing from violin punctuating through the gum-scented air, the singalong was strong and a happy crowd lapped up every reminiscent note that hung in the air.

Australian music royalty took to the stage, filling the audience with reverence and anticipation. Archie Roach’s magical storytelling took the crowd on a journey through different times, both dreamtime and modern, with dreamlike qualities to transport the mind, heart and soul. A passionate and engaged crowd lapped up every moment, giving Roach attention and energy to uplift his voice. It’s no surprised his set ended to a standing ovation.

Kate Miller-Heidke-5As the sun started to shine through the trees, signaling the impending sunset, the final act of the festival, probably the most anticipated performance took to the stage. Kate Miller-Heidke, to rapturous applause took her place on stage and beamed just as brightly as the sunbeams soaking her in gold hues. A lively set full of energy to the biggest crowd really was the most magnificent end to a weekend full of mirth and joy. Miller-Heidke’s set was laced with all the big songs you wanted to hear, and her genuinely delightful demeanour and powerhouse performance had every set of eyes glued to the stage. Her set transitioned from slow and insightful to upbeat and poppy, adding a lively breath of fresh air to the ampitheatre and every attention was captured by her mesmerizing vocals. Zero Gravity was of course the finale and was every bit as breathtaking as the audience had hoped. A stellar performance that absolutely stole the show.

All in all, Riverboats Music Festival is probably the most comfortable festival to attend – accommodation is nearby, the venue is easy to navigate and facilities excellent. The curation of the line up ensures a great variety of complimentary acts. MC Brian Nankervis of RocKwiz fame kept acts rolling and entertainment between sets going – never have we seen so much dedication from a crowd to either quiz answers or a Frisbee competition.Brian Nankervis-3

With programming allowing late starts so festival goers can appreciate surrounding businesses is a great way to integrate the local community in to the whole weekend vibe, it’s like all of Echuca is the festival, not just the grounds. No doubt the 2021 line up is going to be just as great (but we won’t know what it looks like until 12 October), and the die hards with their chairs for the central ‘island’ will be there bright and early each day to secure their best position – so be sure to get your tickets early, make your way along to pick a spot, set yourself up for a full weekend of great music, no matter who is on stage.

 

New Music Monday – 24th June

Sarah Humphreys
Image Courtesy of Sarah Humphreys

Bryan Estepa – “I’m Not Ready For This”

Prolific Sydney-based singer-songwriter Bryan Estepa channels classic Americana and rock with his new single “I’m Not Ready For This”. Taken from his upcoming album Sometimes I Just Don’t Know, due on the 23rd August, “I’m Not Ready For This” sounds like classic Tom Petty – lyrically driven rock music with a pop sensibility.

Emma Russack – “Be Real”

Melbourne based singer-songwriter Emma Russack released “Be Real”, the newest single from her upcoming album Winter Blues, due on the 5th July. Channelling 90s grunge and indie rock, “Be Real” is Russack’s reaction to the selfie culture.

“[“Be Real”] is about my frustration with phone obsession, social media, hype and trend – the phoniness that I see all over the place (and actually buy into),” Emma Russack explained. “I’m really trying to emphasise the importance of being true to yourself and being ‘real’ – whatever the hell that means. The video is a snapshot of how insular and isolated people have become as a result of technology. I just wanna connect irl.”

To celebrate the release of her new album Emma Russack has a bunch of tour dates in the second half of the year.

Wednesday 7th August – The Jazzlab, Melbourne, VIC
Friday 9th August – Sideway, Canberra, ACT
Saturday 10th August – Golden Age Cinema & Bar, Sydney, NSW
Friday 13th September – Major Tom’s, Kyneton, VIC
Saturday 14th September – Macedon Railway Hotel, Macedon, VIC
Sunday 15th September – The Taproom – Shedshaker Brewing, Castlemaine, VIC

Greta Stanley – “Follow Suit”

Queensland based singer-songwriter Greta Stanley released her new single “Follow Suit”. With gorgeous production from Mark Myers (The Middle East), “Follow Suit” explores what it’s like to go from youth to adulthood in isolated Far North Queensland. I like the way the song meanders through different production styles while keeping Stanley’s voice front and centre – the production almost feels like a stream of consciousness, kept in line by the conventional structure of the song’s lyrics and phrasing.

“Follow Suit is about wanting to pull away and wanting to feel something more but not knowing how, or when, or where to go,” Greta Stanley explains. “It’s a song I wrote when I was questioning my reasons for continuing to do things I didn’t want to do, and a lot of my friends were too. Because we were afraid of change and the unknown. It’s about how quickly your mind can change – to being sure and moving forward, to feeling like time is slipping and you’re stuck still – full of uncertainty.”

“Follow Suit” is taken from Greta Stanley’s upcoming EP Sun In My Eyes which is due for release on the 26th July. Upcoming tour dates are below:

Saturday 29th June – Neck of the Woods Festival, Townsville, QLD
Friday 23rd August – Darwin Festival, Darwin, NT
Friday 13th September – Corner Hotel, Melbourne, VIC
Saturday 14th September – Tank Arts Centre, Cairns, QLD
Thursday 19th September – The Tivoli, Brisbane, QLD
Friday 20th September – The Factory Theatre, Sydney, NSW
Saturday 21st September – Byron Bay Brewery, Byron Bay, NSW

Passenger – “Let Me Dream A While”

Any day with new Passenger music is a good day. His latest video “Let Me Dream A While” was filmed and recorded at Abbey Road complete with a string quartet. The track is taken from Passenger’s latest album Sometimes It’s Something, Sometimes It’s Nothing At All and is exactly what you’d expect from the UK based singer-songwriter – beautiful fingerpicked guitar, emotionally driven melancholic lyrics and Mike’s unique voice.

Sarah Humphreys – “Slow Dance”

Central Coast based singer-songwriter Sarah Humphreys has returned with a really sweet new song and video, “Slow Dance”. Humphreys is the queen of this understated style of indie-folk and her voice in the track is perfectly matched by the simple arrangement of acoustic guitar, bass, pedal-steel and trumpet (not to mention the obligatory toy piano). Lovely stuff

The Avett Brothers – “High Steppin'”

New York’s indie-folk favourites The Avett Brothers have released their new single “High Steppin'”, taken from their upcoming album Closer Than Together, due on the 4th October. The track takes country music conventions (including a spoken word interlude!), couples it with a straight rock beat, synths and some swirling guitars and creates something that feels familiar and new at the same time. It’s kind of odd but I kind of like it for being odd.

The Teskey Brothers – “Man Of The Universe”

As The Teskey Brothers gear up to release their new album Run Home Slow on the 2nd August, we’ve been gifted with another new track from the Melbourne based band. Following the gospel of “Hold Me”, the band’s latest single and video is the soul driven “Man Of The Universe”. This track feels like it’s been ripped directly from the 70s with its distinctly retro sound.

Tully John & Liza-Jane – “Embers”

Gold Coast duo Tully John & Liza-Jane have released their new single “Embers”, a mixture of indie-folk storytelling with more pop sensibilities. The way Tully John & Liza-Jane’s vocals intertwine over the pulsing melody of “Embers” is beautiful and is further heightened by the shimmering guitars and keys.

“The song begins with two souls divided before they begin to interweave and come together again,” Liza-Jane explains. “In the end it is a song of resolution and solace. The ember is the hope to which we cling when things are just a bit wobbly.”

Tully John & Liza-Jane have a handful of tour dates in South East Queensland and Northern New South Wales next week:

Wednesday 3rd July – House Concert, Gold Coast, QLD
Thursday 4th July – The Junk Bar, Brisbane, QLD
Friday 5th July – Dust Temple, Gold Coast, QLD
Saturday 6th July – House Concert, Byron Bay, NSW

Wallis Bird – “As The River Flows”

It’s easy to see why Irish artist Wallis Bird has such a following in Australia when she’s releasing music like her latest single “As The River Flows”. The first taste of her upcoming album Woman, due on the 27th September, “As The River Flows” is a frantic, visceral song with Bird’s lyrics tumbling over a cacophony of sounds and music. Intensely mesmerising music from Wallis Bird

Winterbourne – “Too Many”

“Too Many” is the third single from the upcoming album Echo Of Youth from Winterbourne, due on the 23rd August. The duo have transitioned seamlessly from their original indie-folk sound to take on a more synth-driven context which is seeing them win the hearts and minds of their fans.

“”Too Many” is a slow build from one point to another with a bunch of ramblings that rhyme over the top,” James from Winterbourne explained. “Much like when you’re staring out into the distance and all the things that are making you feel overwhelmed are adding up in your head but then some thought or chemical brings you comfort, and you revel in that while you walk home listening to music.”

Winterbourne are heading out on tour this October, playing some of their biggest headline shows to date:

Friday 25th October – Mojos, Fremantle, WA
Saturday 26th October – Jive, Adelaide, SA
Friday 8th November – The Brightside, Brisbane, QLD
Saturday 9th November – Howler, Melbourne, VIC
Saturday 16th November – The Metro Theatre, Sydney, NSW

New Music Monday – 10th June

Bon Iver
Image Courtesy of Bon Iver

Andrew Swift – “Ball & Chain”

“Ball & Chain” is pure country. Golden Guitar winner Andrew Swift has unleashed this latest track ahead of a massive Australian kicking off this July.

I’m loving the instrumentation on this one, with fiddle and lap steel soloing over the top of Swift who is in-turn accompanied by a choir. Check out his upcoming tour dates and the video for “Ball & Chain” below:

Friday 5th July – The Bridport Hotel, Bridport, TAS
Saturday 6th July – The Royal Oak Hotel, Launceston, TAS
Sunday 7th July – Longley International, Longley, TAS
Wednesday 10th July – Peppertown Jam, Stag & Hunter Hotel, Newcastle, NSW
Friday 12th July – Desk & Studio, Sydney, NSW
Saturday 13th July – Flow Bar, Old Bar, NSW
Sunday 14th July – Wests Leagues Club, Tamworth, NSW
Thursday 18th July – Oodies Café, Bundaberg, QLD
Friday 19th July – Captain Cook Holiday Village, 1770, QLD
Tuesday 23rd July – Mackay Masonic Temple, Mackay, QLD
Friday 26th to Sunday 28th July – Groundwater Country Music Festival, Broadbeach, QLD
Saturday 3rd August – Braidwood Theatre, Braidwood, NSW
Friday 16th August – The Wesley Anne, Melbourne, VIC
Saturday 17th August – The Grand Ridge Brewery, Mirboo North, VIC
Saturday 24th August – Noojee Hotel, Noojee, VIC
Saturday 28th September – C2C Country to Country, Sydney, NSW
Sunday 29th September – C2C Country to Country, Brisbane, QLD
Friday 18th October – Wingham Akoostik Festival, Wingham, NSW

Bon Iver – “Hey, Ma” and “U (Man Like)”

Out of nowhere beloved indie-folk legend Bon Iver has dropped two brand new tracks, “Hey, Ma” and “U (Man Like)”. The tracks see Justin Veron and co continue their musical evolution, layering electronic music, samples, loops and more with folk sensibilities. “Hey, Ma” is the most similar to previous Bon Iver work, while “U (Man Like)” takes us down a neo-soul route that feels ripe to be sampled by Kanye.


Gareth Leach – “Better or Worse?”

Victorian alt-country singer Gareth Leach tackles anxiety and depression with the release of this new single “Better or Worse?”.

“Without tiptoeing around the subject, “Better or Worse?” is about personal anxiety and depression, something that I have personally been struggling with for as long as I can remember,” Leach explained. “It’s about dealing with living with your own high expectations of what life is supposed to be.”

The heavy subject matter on the track works really well with the shimmering guitars and Gareth Leach’s emotional vocal delivery. This is country music at its deeply personal best.

Harrison Storm – “Falling Down”

I’m always excited for new music from singer-songwriter Harrison Storm and with his latest release I’ve not been disappointed.

“Falling Down”, taken from the upcoming EP of the same name due on the 26th July, is the type of epic indie-folk that Australian artists do so well (and which always proves to be very radio friendly). I love his finger picked guitar throughout and the soulful resonance of his voice.

“Falling Down is a song about those times in a relationship where there seems to be a shadow looming overhead and you’re desperately trying to see through it and hang on,” Harrison Storm explained. Full dates for his upcoming Australian tour are below:

Thursday 8th August – Grace Emily, Adelaide, NSW
Friday 9th August – Four5Nine, Perth, WA
Saturday 10th August – Grace Darling, Melbourne, VIC
Friday 16th August – Heya Bar, Brisbane, QLD
Saturday 17th August – The Vanguard, Sydney, NSW

Lachlan Bryan & The Wildes – “The Road”

My deep affection for the songwriting of Lachlan Bryan continues with the release of “The Road”, the latest single with his band The Wildes. Tackling a tried and true subject, “The Road” is beautifully put together with Bryan’s finger-picked guitar and vocals front and centre, adeptly accompanied by subtle base and lap steel.

“I’m a kind of restless person,” Lachlan Bryan explains. “and in my adult life I’ve chosen the road – both literally and figuratively, over just about everything else. Of course I’ve always felt that this probably isn’t a healthy thing, but I’ve come to accept that it is who I am. That’s really what this song is about – it’s kind of a meditation for all of us restless spirits out there.”

This Way North – “Night Terrors”

Indie duo This Way North explore sleeping disorders and the “intersection between dreams and reality” with their rocking new single and video “Night Terrors”. The pounding track is relentless in its driving rhythms and the vocals are next level.

This Way North are launching “Night Terrors” on Friday 14th June at Stay Gold in Melbourne.

New Charlie Mayfair Video, “Waste Me”

Charlie Mayfair
Image Courtesy of Charlie Mayfair

Charlie Mayfair have gone all historical for their lastest video “Waste Me”. Shot in an actual settler’s cottage in the NSW southern highlands the clip follows “the gritty story of an isolated married couple during the turn of the century”. The indie-rock-leaning “Waste Me” is taken from Charlie Mayfair’s upcoming EP Fall in Time which they will be launching in The Gold Coast, Byron Bay and Brisbane over the coming week.

Check out the video below along with details of the upcoming EP launch dates:

Thursday 7th June – The Loft, Gold Coast, QLD
Saturday 9th June – Railway Friendly Bar, Byron Bay, NSW
Sunday 10th June – Black Bear Lodge, Brisbane, QLD

New Art of Sleeping Video “Empty Hands”

Art of Sleeping
Image Courtesy of Art of Sleeping

We first heard the track “Empty Hands” from Art of Sleeping as part of Dom Alessio’s wonderful triple j Unearthed Five podcast a few weeks ago. And then we heard it on triple j. And then again. And again. And now it’s everywhere and we’ve been wondering – just where did these guys spring from?

Drawing obvious comparisons with the likes of Boy & Bear and Matt Corby, albeit with a much more indie-rock vibe, the Brisbane five piece has been kicking around for a while now but has managed in the last month to score a support slot with Owl Eyes, a signing to booking agency Select Music and “Empty Hands” was the seventh most played on triple j for four weeks in a row in April.

Check out the video for “Empty Hands” from Art of Sleeping below and see just why they’re going places:

Juno Award Nominees- A Folk Lover’s Guide

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Image courtesy of Basia Bulat

Those who read Timber & Steel religiously would know that we tend to follow the Canadian music scene pretty closely. It’s not just the quality of music permeating the great northern land that we’re interested in, it’s the fact that there’s an overwhelming proportion of musicians blending folk influences amongst others, and creating new, however less traditional, breeds of folk. Although the majority of the exciting movements in Canadian music aren’t so much recognised in the mainstream frontier (which is no doubt the same in every country), the Juno awards aren’t completely void of excitement, as we hope to show. Check out a full list of nominees here.

Arcade Fire

There’d be very few readers out there now that aren’t well versed in Arcade Fire. If you hadn’t heard of them before, you’d have probably heard their name connected with their recent Grammy success. There’s no doubt that these guys are indie-rockers first and foremost, but their weaving of traditional influences and instrumentation into their music has made them a T&S friendly act, right from the get-go. This year they’ve been nominated for Album of the Year, Group of the Year, Songwriter of the Year and Alternative Album of the Year.

Basia Bulat

This young lady might just be the most exciting artist on this list. As an old-time folk lover, you can easily hear a traditional Irish-like sound in there, which is only thinly veiled by a more contemporary and alternative exterior. She has a fantastic voice, and is one hell of an autoharpist. She’s been nominated for New Artist of the Year.

Broken Social Scene

Broken Social Scene are in the same boat as Arcade Fire, being an outright indie-rock group with a folky twist. This collective is undoubtedly Canadian music royalty, including members of Stars, Apostle of Hustle, The Weakerthans, Metric, Jason Collett and Feist. They utilise strings, woodwind and brass instruments to achieve large, glorious and layered sounds. They’ve been nominated for Group of the Year and Alternative Album of the Year.

Del Barber

Del Barber is a roots artist with a strong American folk influence, and enough of an indie stripe to have been pedalled by younger audiences. He has a couple of albums, but to be honest, this is the first time I’ve checked him out. I’ve been very impressed with what I’ve heard so far, and intend to keep a close eye on him. He has been nominated for Solo Roots & Traditional Album of the Year.

Hannah Georgas

This Vancouver-based acoustic singer-songwriter is making really interesting pop songs with lavish arrangements. Her fresh interpretation of Tori Amos-like alt-pop is really refreshing, and has earned her nominations for New Artist of the Year and Songwriter of the Year. Definitely T&S friendly. Earlier in the week, editor Evan Hughes credited me with publishing the first female nipple on Timber & Steel, so by posting the video below, I’m really hoping to build somewhat of a rep. for “bringing the sex”, so to speak. It’s a great song, though…

Justin Rutledge

We’ve been covering Rutledge’s goings on here at Timber & Steel ever since he won my heart with the live version of “Don’t Be So Mean, Jellybean” on his myspace (seriously, go check it out!). He’s signed to Six Shooter Records, who give us some great Canadian acts, and you won’t regret spending the time to get to know him, especially his latest album The Early Widows, for which he’s been nominated for Solo Roots & Traditional Album of the Year. He’s made a couple of short films/acoustic performance videos. An older one is embedded below, but follow this link for another really good one.

Le Vent Du Nord

This is a really cool act, and I’m glad I came across them. They play traditional Quebecois folk music, and yes that’s exactly how it sounds- French, Celtic music. Confused? Canada loves them. They’re nominated for the Group Roots & Traditional Album of the Year.

Luke Doucet

Luke Doucet is a country styled singer-songwriter who has been a landmark on the Canadian roots-music landscape for some time. He’s released 8 records on Six Shooter Records (solo and with his band Veal), the latest of which has been nominated for Adult Alternative Album of the Year. Watch him perform a song about an ex-girlfriend with his wife, Melissa McClelland, below. So awkward.

Old Man Luedecke

Old Man Luedecke has recently finished a decent tour of Australia which saw him wowing crowds across the eastern states and Tasmania with his traditional, quick-picking banjo stylings. I’ve heard people say that he was one of the highlights at Woodford Folk Festival, and I’m not surprised. Old Man Luedecke‘s laid back country charm allows him to really engage with the listener. He’s no stranger to the Juno Awards either, taking out the Solo Roots & Traditional Album of the Year in 2009. And he’s been nominated for the same award again for his latest album, My Hands Are On Fire and Other Love Songs.

Owen Pallett

Owen Pallett is a very rare talent. His brand of indie-folk is often compared to Andrew Bird and Sufjan Stevens, and with good reason. Pallett is a fantastic instrumentalist and vocalist who masterfully uses loop-pedals to create swirling layers of full and textured compositions that have all the power of a small orchestra. He has recently toured Australia as well, and played alongside Sufjan Stevens as part of Sydney Festival at The Opera House. His first release under his name (he previously released material as Final Fantasy), Heartland, has been nominated for Alternative Album of the Year. I hope he wins.

Royal Wood

Royal Wood is a creator of classic, organic, and usually acoustic pop music.  From what I’ve heard of him, he favours the piano as his fundamental instrument. He’s a little bit Lior, in that his sound is obviously very derivative, but unique and personal enough to an extent that allows people to become very loyal to it. He’s been around for a while, and i look forward to checking out his past works. He’s been nominated for the Songwriter of the Year award.

Said The Whale

I was surprised to see Said The Whale nominated for New Group of the Year, mainly because I thought they were already an established act. They’ve certainly been gracing my iTunes for some time. Regardless, they do deserve some accolades swung their way. They’re an indie-rock band, who utilise acoustic instruments a lot of the time. I’m a folk lover, and they do something for me. Embedding is disabled for my favourite folk track of their’s, but you can follow this link to view it, or take your chances on the video below.

Spotlight On: Autumn Gray


Image courtesy of Autumn Gray

I have been a fan of Autumn Gray for sometime and have neglected to share the love with Timber and Steel. What better time to spotlight Autumn Gray than on the eve of the launch their latest single and filmclip, Love Handles?

This Melbourne based seven piece isn’t strictly folk, in fact they’re way over on the Indie end of the range, but they do have a wonderful sound that lends itself to a folk appreciating ear. One of the most intriguing aspects of this band is that they have not one, but two lead singers. The band has experienced some line up changes and is now made up of Jim O’Neill on vocals, guitars, piano, iphone, flute and harmonium, Matthew Watson on guitars, John Paterson on vocals, guitars and piano, Damien Langley on drums, percussion and programming, Jeff Clementson on keyboards, piano and programming, Greg Foletta on trumpet, guitar and backing vocals and James Rogers on bass. Their repertoire is rich in layered sound with an occasional melancholy tincture that carries listeners along through what has been a two year self-recording and ultimately characterising experience.

With influences including The Decemberists and Augie March, their debut album Diary of a Falling Man leads you through a range of emotive moments and delightful crescendos that linger long after the music ends. The album brings strings, trumpets, a garage-sale harmonium, flute, piano, mobile phone, glockenspiel, synths, electronic drums, hammond organ and timpani together with the standard array of rock instruments.

Having built a strong fan base in Melbourne through social media sites, they’ve bitten the bullet and after their Melbourne launch tomorrow night at The Toff in Town, they are venturing north to unleash their indie rock storytelling (and I can only hope their delightful Ukelele Song) on the Sydney music scene.

Check out their latest single Love Handles below or head to one of their single launches:
Saturday 22 January – The Toff in Town, Melbourne
Friday 11 February – Lewisham Livehouse, Sydney

Country of Origin: Australia (Melbourne)
Sounds Like:
Augie March covering the Decemberists
File Under:
Indie
Myspace:
myspace.com/autumngray
Official:
autumngray.com

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