Gareth Hugh Evans’ Top 25 Tracks of 2014

2014

Ok we promise one more list and then we’re done. For the second year in a row our illustrious editor-in-chief Gareth Hugh Evans has picked his top 25 tracks from the entirety of 2014.

Most of these tracks were singles although some are just taken from albums released this year and others are previews of releases due next year. But if this list proves anything folk music is a wide and varied genre that is going from strength to strength. We hope you enjoy – let’s do it all again next year!

1. Passenger – “Heart’s On Fire”
“Heart’s On Fire” has been my favourite Passenger track live for many years so it’s fantastic to see it finally “officially” released. I’ve seen this song silence a sold out, 1,000 capacity crowd at the HiFi in Sydney and it sent chills down my spine. I love the simplicity of this song, the way the fiddle dances over the finger-picked guitar, the rousing harmonies in the chorus, the subltle strings and mandolin – it all comes together to create something magical.
Watch an early video of “Heart’s On Fire” here

2. Nick Mulvey – “Meet Me There”
To be honest I could have picked any of the tracks from Nick Mulvey’s album First Mind for this list so picking just one (to give tracks from other artists a chance) was agonising. I chose “Meet Me There” because I think it showcases Mulvey’s unique guitar style as well as the gorgeous production that’s all over First Mind. I’m so sour I missed Nick Mulvey when he was in the country earlier this year and just hope he’ll be back soon.
Learn to play all of the songs from First Mind here

3. Bellowhead – “Jack Lintel’s Jig”
First of all this is not a jig, it’s a hornpipe. Secondly it’s not commonly known as “Jack Lintel’s…” – most people probably know it as “Cam Ye O’er Frae France”. But when you listen to the way Bellowhead have constructed this track as a round that builds and builds on the hornpipe’s three parts before abruptly halting leaving the rhythmic fiddle hanging in the air you can forgive all this. It makes me wish Bellowhead did more instrumentals.
Watch Bellowhead take you through their album Revival track by track

4. James Vincent McMorrow – “Gold”
I saw James Vincent McMorrow at the Sydney Opera House earlier this year and it was one of the most spellbinding performances I’ve seen in years. “Gold” is a highlight from his album Post Tropical showcasing his rich falsetto, punctuated by harps and horns and backing vocals. Is this folk? Probably not in the strictest sense but it’s a definite evolution of James Vincent McMorrow’s sound from his earlier incarnation as an acoustic singer-songwriter.
Watch James Vincent McMorrow’s latest video “Look Out” here

5. Oh Pep! – “Rest Assured”
There’s something insanely catchy about the syncopated melody of this mandolin driven folk-pop song. It’s just so listenable and is definitely one of my favourite songs to see them perform live. The clip for “Rest Assured” is a little surreal but there’s something I like about it – it has a quirky appeal.
Read our interview with Pepi Emmerichs from Oh Pep! here

6. Pepa Knight – “Rahh!”
I love the fact that Pepa Knight’s solo effort feels like he’s taken all the world music influences of his band Jinja Safari, thrown them into a big pot, distilled them into something pure and then produced what is one of the most unique releases in 2014. “Rahh!” packs such a musical punch and is the perfect addition to any mixtape or playlist to make your listener sit up and take notice.
Find out more about Pepa Knight’s EP Hypnotized here

7. Husky – “I’m Not Coming Back”
“I’m Not Coming Back” announced Husky’s triumphant return to our eardrums and heralded the coming of their amazing new album Ruckers Hill. This track is classic Husky, all interwoven harmonies and intricate melodies. I especially love the bridge, which has almost a call-and-reply gospel feel to it. Superb.
Find out more about Husky’s new album here

8. Patrick James – “Message”
“Message” continues Patrick James’ winning streak as far as I’m concerned. James consitently writes some of the best indie-folk tunes in Australia and with astounding frequency as well. The clip for “Message” is one of my favourites of the year as well.
Find out more about Patrick James’ EP Broken Lines here

9. Gregory Alan Isakov – “Amsterdam”
The Weatherman was one of my favourite albums of 2013, and “Amsterdam” is one of my favourite tracks on the album, having been released as a single this year. I love the lo-fi sound of this track – the whole thing feels like it was recorded in an echo chamber which gives the song a real ethereal feel.
There’s more information on the animated video for Amsterdam here

10. Dan and Amy – “Pretend”
This song transports me back to the sounds of the 60s and 70s English folk revival with its medieval melodies and liberal use of woodwind. Again, the bridge of this track is what makes it with Dan’s gregorian vocals and strange time signatures driving the song forward.
Find out more about Dan and Amy’s EP Sometimes Life here

11. Jack McNeill and Charlie Heys – “A Hymn to the Wolves”
I’ve said it before but I love what Jack McNeill and Charlie Heys are doing with for contemporary folk music in the UK. Songs like “A Hymn to the Wolves” are just stunning – taking the tradition well and truly into the twenty-first century on the backs of guitar, fiddle and their stunning voices.
Listen to more tracks from Jack McNeill and Charlie Heys’ new album Any Other Morning here.

12. Missy Higgins – “Shark Fin Blues”
It was Julia and the Deep Sea Sirens who first introduced me to “Shark Fin Blues” (check out their version here) and I immediately fell in love. However when I hunted out the original version from The Drones I have to admit I wasn’t too impressed – unlike a lot of music lovers I just can’t get into Gareth Liddiard’s distinctive voice. This didn’t diminish the song however and as Missy Higgins’s version proves it is one of best Australian songs ever written.
Find out more about Missy Higgins’ covers album and book OZ here.

13. Bear’s Den – “Above The Clouds Of Pompeii”
The new Bear’s Den album Islands really stretches the UK trio, seeing them move beyond the indie-folk of their earlier EPs. But it’s the indie-folk sounds that I love about Bear’s Den so I’m glad there’s a couple of gems like “Above The Clouds Of Pompeii” on Islands – this is the band at its best.
Read our interview with Kev Jones from Bear’s Den here

14. Jordan Millar – “If Only…”
Every time I play “If Only…” on loud speakers anyone who is within earshot immediately looks up from whatever they’re doing and enquires who is singing. It goes to show just how catchy Jordan Millar’s single is. This is probably my favourite Jordan Millar song to date, and it can be picked up for nothing as part of the free EP The Wheel.
Stream and download The Wheel EP online here.

15. Lisa Mitchell – “Wah Ha”
“Wah Ha” is Lisa Mitchell’s return to acoustic, folk-inspired pop music and I love it. The track seems to take its cue from 70’s Burt Bacharach tracks in its writing, arrangement and production. I really hope that Lisa Mitchell has a lot more tracks like this in her because it’s this kind of music that I love hearing her produce.
The full dates for Lisa Mitchell’s 2015 acoustic tour are here.

16. Kim Churchill – “Window to the Sky”
Ah, the song that brought Kim Churchill to a wider audience. I’ve been a fan of Churchill’s since Timber and Steel contributor KT Bell first badgered me to listen to his music a number of years ago but honestly I think “Window to the Sky” is his catchiest track yet and deserves all the attention it’s been getting. The track sits somewhere between the roots of the John Butler Trio and Xavier Rudd and the indie-folk of Matt Corby and Boy and Bear and will definitely get stuck in your head when you press play.
Check out the full dates for Kim Churchill’s 2015 tour here

17. Kasey Chambers – “Wheelbarrow”
My favourite albums from Kasey Chambers’ back catalogue are those she recorded with then husband Shane Nicholson, Rattlin’ Bones and Wreck & Ruin. I feel like “Wheelbarrow” takes a lot of their rootsy Americana elements and layers them with some of the crunchiest guitar I’ve ever heard on a country track. Kasey Chambers has never been a conventional country songwriter but with tracks like “Wheelbarrow” she’s challenging all expectations and is producing some of her best music to date in the process.
Listen to Kasey Chamber’s duet with Bernard Fanning, “Bittersweet”, here.

18. The New Basement Tapes – “Spanish Mary”
What happens when you take the “forgotten” lyrics of 1967’s Bob Dylan and give them to a supergroup made up of Elvis Costello, Rhiannon Giddens (Carolina Chocolate Drops), Taylor Goldsmith (Dawes), Jim James (My Morning Jacket) and Marcus Mumford (Mumford and Sons) plus super producer T Bone Burnett to put to music? Pure magic. This is by far and away my favourite track on the album from The New Basement Tapes – part old timey picker (courtesy of Rhiannon Giddens’ beautiful vocals), part psychedelic romp, the track feels as much 1867 as it does 1967 or even 2014. Love it!
Check out full details of The New Basement Tapes project here.

19. First Aid Kit – “My Silver Lining”
“My Silver Lining” transports you back to the 70s, invoking early Neil Young mixed with a heavy doses of Emmylou Harris. The lush strings and reverb heavy melodies wouldn’t be out of place in a Western movie and I love the way First Aid Kit pace their lyrics throughout the track – at some points they manage to fit more words than should be possible into a phrase, at other points they drag a single word out over an entire melody. It’s amazing that some of the best Americana in the world is coming out of Sweden.
Check out the full 2015 Australian tour dates for First Aid Kit here.

20. Jack Carty – “What Am I Gonna Do With All Of My Love Now?”
You’d be hard pressed to find a Timber and Steel “Best of” list without some mention of Jack Carty. And there’s a reason or that – Carty is the master of the story song and Timber and Steel loves a story song. “What Am I Gonna Do With All Of My Love Now?” is just one of the many gems on the new album Esk and only really pipped songs like “Be Like The Water”, “The Universe” and “The Joneses” at the post because of the Lord of the Rings reference.
Listen to Jack Carty’s duet with Katie Noonan, “The Universe”, here

21. All Our Exes Live in Texas – “Tell Me”
“Tell Me” is what happens when four of Sydney’s best songwriters – Elana Stone, Katie Wighton, Hannah Crofts and Georgia Mooney – get together and write a folk song. The track is insanely catchy and makes the most of All Our Exes Live in Texas’ stunning four part harmonies. If “Tell Me” is a taste of what we can expect from All Our Exes Live in Texas in 2015 then I’m very excited.
Read our interview with All Our Exes Live in Texas here.

22. The Staves – “Blood I Bled”
I’d argue that “Blood I Bled” is The Staves’ most traditional-folk inspired track to date. The melody sounds like it could have been written 100 years ago. And the production is exquisite – which it should be considering it was brought to life by Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon. I love the way this song builds from a picked ukulele to driving horns, all the while never overpowering the vocal harmonies. I’m so excited about the releae of If I Was next year.
Find out more about the new album from The Staves If I Was here.

23. Ruby Boots – “Oh, Lover”
When Ruby Boots asked Timber and Steel to debut the video for “Oh, Lover” I was overcome by just how good the track was. I love Ruby Boots’ music live but “Oh, Lover” is just on another level – the unconventional verse structure, the Spanish inspires rhythm section, the surf-guitar riff. The video is wonderfully surreal as well with Ruby Boots floating on a bed through a flooded forest. You’ll want to listen to this song over and over again.
Stream Ruby Boots’ self titled EP here.

24. Stu Larsen – “San Francisco”
“San Francisco” is what pop music should be. A simple melody. A story told through verse. Stu Larsen (with Mike Rosenberg, AKA Passenger, and Chris Vallejo on production duties) has produced a little bit of magic with this track. There’s something effortlessly classic about the song from beginning to end and it’s the perfect accompaniment to long drives on hot summer days.
Watch Stu Larsen’s latest video “King Street” here.

25. Vena Portae – “Flames & Fury”
This is probably the newest song on the list, having only been released in the last few weeks, but when I heard it I couldn’t stop playing it over and over again. I guess it’s kind of country music. It’s kind of folk. It’s kind of pop. But whatever it is it’s super catchy and Emily Barker’s voice is in fine form. Listen to this song twice straight through and I can guarantee by the third time you’ll be singing along.
Read our interview with Vena Portae’s Emily Barker here.

Timber and Steel’s Top Albums of 2014

Records

It that’s time of year again when we sit down and wade through the wealth of amazing releases from throughout 2014 and try to put them into some sort of order. For the past few years we’ve asked Timber and Steel contributors to list their top five albums or EPs from the past 12 months, but this year we thought it was time to provide a single, consolidated list.

It was another cracker year for folk and acoustic music and putting this list together was so difficult – you’ll notice that there’s a few omissions that were on our Ten Albums and EPs From the First Half of 2014 You Should Own showing just how strong the last six months were.

So here it is, our top 25 albums and EPs from 2014. Hopefully your favourite is here or you’ll discover some of the fantastic music from the year that was.

Nick Mulvey

1. Nick MulveyFirst Mind
While Timber and Steel skews towards Australian music I’m always interested to see what’s happening in the folk scenes around the world, in particular the UK and USA. The amount of music from overseas can be overwhelming so I usually go to sources I trust – and the top of that list is the Communion community which is where I discovered Nick Mulvey.

There’s something really special about the way Nick Mulvey approaches songwriting – manipulating his guitar into non-standard tunings with multiple capos, building rhythms and riffs on top of each other and layering in his understated vocals. The entire album is insanely listenable and while highlights are hard to pick the singles – “First Mind”, “Fever to the Form”, “Cucurucu” and “Meet Me There” – always stand out.

I hope that when Nick Mulvey visited our shores earlier this year he gained more than a handful of Australian fans because I’d love to see him back here at some point. His music is simply magical.

Caitlin Harnett

2. Caitlin HarnettThe River Runs North
Where did you come from Caitlin Harnett? Well, I know where you came from. I’ve seen you a number of times over the years in and around Sydney. But when The River Runs North came out it completely blindsided me. Here is one of the most powerful, sensitive, eloquent and strong releases of the year. Caitlin Harnett has a clear musical voice that shines through on the most exciting debut in Australia in 2014.

Sam Amidon

3. Sam AmidonLily-O
2013’s Bright Sunny South was such a revelation for me, the way Sam Amidon was able to reinvent traditional music. I thought it would be impossible to top but then Lily-O came along and all my epectations were blown out of the water. Maybe it’s his work with jazz guitarist Bill Frisell this time around. Or that Lily-O is a little more rhythm section driven than Amidon’s previous effort. Whatever it is, this album is a masterpiece that I just can’t stop listening to. Can’t wait to see you try and top this one Sam Amidon!

Husky

4. HuskyRuckers Hill
“I’m Not Coming Back” announced Husky’s triumphant return with their second full length album Ruckers Hill, giving us another slice of indie-folk goodness. Husky Gawenda’s songwriting is at its best with gutsy melodies and sweet harmonies all over this album. I feel like Husky’s sound has been cemented here – they’ve grown up without losing their essence, without feeling the need to reinvent. I was lucky enough to make it to the Sydney launch of Ruckers Hill and I can say that all of the tracks translate really well live which is just the icing on the cake.

Sweet Jean

5. Sweet JeanGreetings From Goodbye
Sime and Alice from Sweet Jean refer to Greetings From Goodbye as their “folk album” – a strange turn of phrase considering folk is at the heart of pretty much everything they produce. But when you sit down and listen to Greetings From Goodbye you understand exactly what they mean. Recording in the duo’s converted-laundry studio and featuring traditionals, covers and originals, the album is a laid back, stripped back, heartbreaking masterpiece that sucks you in and leaves you wanting more (seven tracks is never enough).

Bears Den

6. Bear’s DenIslands
When I asked Kevin Jones why he and Andrew Davie ended their original band Cherbourg to only then start Bear’s Den he said “It was quite a set formula with Cherbourg and I think we’re all multi-instrumentalists in Bear’s Den and it allows us to be a lot more fluid with the sort of sounds we can make and what we choose to do with them”. And this fluidity has culminated in Islands. The album has some really touching folky moments in tracks like “Elysium”, “Above The Clouds of Pompeii” and “Isaac” but is not afraid to embrace the rock side of the spectrum as well with the likes of “Think of England”. A wonderful album that I just can’t put down.

JVM

7. James Vincent McMorrowPost Tropical
Post Tropical would have made my best of list last year if its release wasn’t delayed until January – even though I had an advance copy at the end of 2013 I still consider this a 2014 release. Post Tropical is the evolution of James Vincent McMorrow from acoustic singer-songwriter to synth-driven, pop purveyor. This will likely be the last album of McMorrow’s that we cover – there’s an essence of folk in tracks like “Look Out”, “Gold” and “Red Dust” but it feels like he’s saying goodbye to the genre. As a transitional record I couldn’t have asked for anything more.

OCMS

8. Old Crow Medicine ShowRemedy
When this album came out I listened to it non-stop for two weeks. Everything else fell by the wayside as I found myself transported to Tennessee and beyond, travelling with the world’s best string band. Sure, some tracks are silly (“Brushy Mountain Conjugal Visit”, “8 Dogs 8 Banjos”) and their latest Bob Dylan collaboration on “Sweet Amarillo” is no “Wagon Wheel”, but the album as a whole is one of my favourites to date from Old Crow Medicine Show and is well worth investing time in. In fact I might go and listen to it right now.

Passenger

9. PassengerWhispers
Passenger has faced down the pressure of following up the massive international success of All The Little Lights by producing another classic in Whispers. It’s a little more slickly produced than his previous work but at the core of Whispers is the solid songwriting and storytelling that Passenger is renowned for. And the more I listen to it the more I’m convinced that “Heart’s on Fire” is my favourite Passenger song to date.

Bellowhead

10. BellowheadRevival
I love Bellowhead dearly but sometimes their bombasity makes it difficult to make it through an entire album in one sitting. But with Revival this all changes making it their most listenable album to date. Jon Boden’s voice is still in fine form (and fast becoming synonymous with modern English traditional music) and the arrangement of each track is pitch perfect. I love their version of Richard Thompson’s “I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight”, the only contemporary song amongst eleven traditionals but its the instrumental “Jack Lintel’s Jig” that is by far and away my favourite.

Jack and Charlie

11. Jack McNeill and Charlie HeysAny Other Morning
A contemporary folk gem, combining fiddle, guitar and the Jack McNeill and Charlie Heys’ beautiful voices in some of the best music of the year.

Jack Carty

12. Jack CartyEsk
Jack Carty finally seems happy in his 2014 offering, but don’t let that scare you away – Esk is his most mature record to date and confirms Carty as one of the finest songwriters in the country.

First Aid Kit

13. First Aid KitStay Gold
Filled with lush arrangements, beautiful harmonies and First Aid Kit’s trademark cascading lyrics, Stay Gold transports you to a 70s summer somewhere on the west coast of the USA.

Patrick James

14. Patrick JamesBroken Lines
Patrick James’ output is consistently brilliant and Broken Lines sees him continue to shine as a songwriter creating little drops of folk gold with every lyric, chord and melody.

The Staves

15. The StavesBlood I Bled
It may only be a precursor to their upcoming Justin Vernon produced album If I Was, due in January next year, but Blood I Bled is three songs of pure harmonic wonder and joy that you need to buy right now.

One Up Two Down

16. One Up, Two DownOne Up, Two Down
On the surface this is a bluegrass release but One Up, Two Down are so well versed in the folk traditions that you can feel celtic, blues and country influences creeping in to make a wonderful, folky mess.

Davidson Brothers

17. Davidson BrothersWanderlust
The Davidson Brothers are not only some of the best musicians – of any genre – in Australia but they’re also amazing bluegrass songwriters – I just couldn’t stop listening to Wanderlust when it was released this year.

Jordan Millar

18. Jordan MillarThe Wheel EP
The song “If Only…” sucked me into this EP early and I stayed because I love the way Jordan Millar writes pop music – although I suspect he’s a folkie at heart.

Kasey Chambers

19. Kasey ChambersBittersweet
There’s so much to love about Bittersweet, from its old-timey Americana influences to the collaborations with Bernard Fanning, Dan Kelly, Bill Chambers and more, that I reckon it could be Kasey Chambers’ best solo effort yet.

Stu Larsen

20. Stu LarsenVagabond
Travelling the world, playing to thousands of people every night – none of this deterred Stu Larsen from creating an intimate, stripped back album with Vagabond, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

New Moon

21. Sarah HumphreysNew Moon
This has been a big year of change for Sarah Humphreys and this has bled into her music – the cutesy pop-folk princess has been dismantled and in her place a confident, mature singer-songwriter has emerged.

Emma Swift

22. Emma SwiftEmma Swift
There’s nothing technically amazing about Emma Swift’s self titled EP, but its simple, stripped back, three-chords-and-the-truth style harkens back to country music of old and is one of the most honest releases of the year.

Little May

23. Little MayLittle May
Epic indie-folk from the Sydney trio whose star is most definitely on the rise, the EP is full of hamonies, building crescendos and catchy melodies.

Winter Pick

24. Justin BernasconiWinter Pick
Justin Bernasconi is one of the best folk/country/blues guitarists in the business right now and Winter Pick is full to the brim with awe inspiring instrumentals and deceptively laidback songs.

Aubergine

25. Green Mohair SuitsAubergine
I honestly wasn’t expecting to like Aubergine as much as I do but I was so impressed with just how tight it is, how good the songwriting is and how much fun The Green Mohair Suits are having taking Bluegrass seriously.

Thank Folk It’s Friday – 18th July

TFIF

This Week in Folk

All the News From The Week That Was

– Sydney based singer-songwriter Darren Cross has released his new video “Slings and Arrows” and is heading out on tour this August. Details here

Nick Mulvey has announced a single Melbourne headline show when he’s in Australia for Splendour in the Grass. Details here

– The new video from Bear’s Den, “Elysium”, deals with a group of students in the four days surrounding a shooting at their university. Details here

– Sydney roots singer Steve Smyth has announced details of his new album Exits plus his new single “Written or Spoken”. Details here

Jeanette Wormald has revealed the lyric video for her new track “No Tumbleweed”. Details here

– Looks like another great lineup for Little Features this month with Jake Nauta, John Flanagan, J A Santosa and With Fox. Details here

– Check out the new video from Sydney folk-pop four piece Nova and the Experience, “Jennifer Lawrence”. Details here

Vance Joy has finally revealed details of his debut album including the first single “Mess is Mine”. Details here

– Sydney singer-songwriter Patrick James is heading out on tour this August and September and has released his new video “Message”. Details here

– A brand new Americana festival, Out On The Weekend, was announced for Melbourne this October featuring Justin Townes Earle, Henry Wagons, Ryan Bingham, Robert Ellis, Lindi Ortega, Nikki Lane, The Delines, Jonny Fritz, Emma Swift, Chris Altmann, Raised By Eagles and The Morrisons. Details here

– My mission to get Australian’s loving Jack McNeill and Charlie Heys continues with their new video “A Hymn to the Wolves”. Details here

Timber and Steel’s favourite little bluegrass festival JamGrass in Melbourne has announced its first round of artists for 2014 including Mustered Courage, The Perch Creek Family Jugband, Sal Kimber & the Rollin’ Wheel, The Morrisons, The Seals, Tattletale Saints, One Up, Two Down, Annie Lou and The Stage Hogs

John Flanagan is heading to Sydney for shows at Menagerie and Little Features. Details here

Trampled By Turtles have released their new video “Wild Animals” from their album from the same name. Details here

Kasey Chambers released her rocking new video “Wheelbarrow”. Details here

– Sydney folk-rock band Castlecomer have announced tour dates for this September. Details here

Angus and Julia Stone have released their new video “A Heartbreak” and have announced more shows in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane for their September tour. Details here

– Bi-state sibling duo The Achfields released the video for their track “Grabbed Me By The Heart”. Details here

– Sydney’s Spookyland release their new EP Rock and Roll Weakling today and are streaming the title track online. Details here

Todd Sibbin and The Acadian Driftwood have just released their new video “Man Made Hurricane” and have announced tour dates in August. Details here

– We premiered the new video from Sydney’s Yetis, “Dangerous”. Details here

Releases This Week

Rock and Roll Weakling
Rock And Roll WeaklingSpookyland
iTunes

Timber and Steel Presents

Husky

Husky

Friday 18th July – Northcote Social Club, Melbourne, VIC
Saturday 19th July – Jive Bar, Adelaide, SA
Thursday 24th July – Rosemount Hotel, Perth, WA
Friday 25th July – Mojos, Fremantle, WA

Timber and Steel Recommends – Go To This Gig

Imogen Clark, Darcy Fox and Paige Renee Court

Imogen Clark

It’s the final stretch of the A Tale of Three Cities tour from singer-songwriters Imogen Clark, Darcy Fox and Paige Renee Court with the girls making their way from Adelaide to Sydney. All reports are that the shows have been pretty special so far so make sure you catch the final dates for this tour!

Friday 18th July – The Singing Gallery, McLaren Vale, SA
Saturday 19th July – Hibernian House, Sydney, NSW
Sunday 20th July – Fitzroy Hotel, Windsor, NSW

Gigs Next Week

Ben Howard
Friday 25th July – Astor Theatre, Perth, WA

Busby Marou
Friday 25th July – Brolga Theatre & Convention Centre, Maryborough, QLD

Clare Bowditch with Adalita
Friday 18th July – The Corner Hotel, Richmond, VIC
Friday 25th July – The Gov, Adelaide, SA

Elbury
Saturday 19th July – Oscar’s Alehouse, Belgrave, VIC
Sunday 20th July – Some Velvet Morning, Melbourne, VIC

Fanny Lumsden and the Thrillseekers with Ruby Boots
Friday 18th July – Eastern Riverina Arts, Wagga Wagga, NSW
Friday 18th July – Tooma Hall, Tooma, NSW
Saturday 19th July – Rand Hall, Rand, NSW
Sunday 20th July – Jugiong Hall, Jugiong, NSW
Friday 25th July – Weethalle Hall, Weethalle, NSW

Husky
Friday 18th July – Northcote Social Club, Melbourne, VIC
Saturday 19th July – Jive Bar, Adelaide, SA
Thursday 24th July – Rosemount Hotel, Perth, WA
Friday 25th July – Mojos, Fremantle, WA

Imogen Clark, Darcy Fox and Paige Renee Court
Friday 18th July – The Singing Gallery, McLaren Vale, SA
Saturday 19th July – Hibernian House, Sydney, NSW
Sunday 20th July – Fitzroy Hotel, Windsor, NSW

Jeff Lang
Friday 18th July – Williamstown RSL, Williamstown, VIC
Saturday 19th July – Street Theatre, Canberra, ACT
Sunday 20th July – Beavs, Geelong, VIC

Jen Cloher
Friday 18th July – Newtown Social Club, Sydney, NSW
Saturday 19th July – Shebeen, Melbourne, VIC
Sunday 20th July – Wheatsheaf, Adelaide, SA
Friday 25th July – Skukum Lounge, Junk Bar, Brisbane, QLD

Jep and Dep
Sunday 20th July – Welcome Hotel, Sydney, NSW

Lachlan Bryan and The Wildes, Dan Waters and The Weeping Willows
Friday 18th July – Holgate Brewery, Wooden, VIC
Saturday 19th July – Barwon Club, Geelong, VIC
Thursday 24th July – Music Man Megastore, Bendigo, VIC

Little Bastard
Sunday 20th July – Newtown Social Club, Sydney, NSW

Mark Wilkinson
Saturday 19th July – Fly By Night, Perth, WA

Melody Pool and Marlon Williams
Friday 18th July – Leaps & Bounds Festival, Fitzroy Town Hall, Melbourne, VIC
Saturday 19th July – Caravan Music Club, Oakleigh, VIC
Sunday 20th July – Major Tom’s, Kyneton, VIC
Thursday 24th July – Grand Poobah, Hobart, TAS
Friday 25th July – Royal Oak Hotel, Launceston, TAS

Mikhael Paskalev
Friday 25th July – 170 Russell, Melbourne, VIC

Peasant Moon
Sunday 20th July – Menagerie at The Welcome Hotel, Sydney, NSW

Rose Wintergreen
Sunday 20th July – The Grace Emily Hotel, Adelaide, SA
Wednesday 23rd July – The Toff In Town, Melbourne, VIC

Splendour in the Grass
Friday 25th to Sunday 27th July – North Byron Parklands, NSW

Taliska
Thursday 21st August — Mamma Vittoria, Fitzroy, VIC

The Beards
Friday 18th July – 170 Russell, Melbourne, VIC
Saturday 19th July – Theatre Royal, Castlemaine, VIC
Sunday 20th July – Spirit Bar, Traralgon, VIC
Wednesday 23rd July – Bar on the Hill, Newcastle, NSW
Thursday 24th July – Entrance Leagues, Central Coast, NSW
Friday 25th July – Fitzroy Hotel, Windsor, NSW

The Man in Black feat. Tex Perkins
Friday 18th July – Sydney Opera House, Sydney, NSW
Saturday 19th July – Sydney Opera House, Sydney, NSW
Sunday 20th July – Sydney Opera House, Sydney, NSW

The String Contingent
Sunday 20th July – House Concert, Marrickville, NSW

The Yearlings
Friday 18th July – Smiths Alternative Book Shop, Canberra, ACT
Saturday 19th July – Candelo Arts Society, Candelo, NSW
Sunday 20th July – Paynesville Wine Bar. Paynesville, VIC
Wednesday 23rd July – Melbourne Folk Club at Bella Union, Melbourne, VIC
Friday 25th July – Basement Discs In-store, Melbourne, VIC
Friday 25th July – The Main Bar, Ballarat, VIC

Tom Stephens
Friday 18th July – TBA, Byron Bay, NSW
Saturday 19th July – Taps, Sunshine Coast, QLD
Sunday 20th July – Room 60, Brisbane, QLD

Tracy McNeil
Friday 18th July – Baha Taco Joint, Rye, VIC
Saturday 19th July – Bridge Hotel, Castlemaine, VIC

Friday Folk Flashback

“Cam Ye O’er Frae France” – Steeleye Span

I’ve been listening a lot to Bellowhead’s new album Revival and noticed that their instrumental “Jack Lintel’s Jig” (which is actually a hornpipe) is basically the same tune as “Cam Ye O’er Frae France”, which in turn sent me down a Youtube rabbit hole listening to different versions of the Jacobite song. This was probably my favourite, and there’s not much that beats Steeleye Span live (and Maddy Prior dancing!)

Watch the New Jack McNeill and Charlie Heys Video “A Hymn to the Wolves”

Jack Mcneill and Charlie Heys
Image Courtesy of Jack McNeill and Charlie Heys

In my Ten Albums and EPs From the First Half of 2014 You Should Own piece from earlier this month I said “I sometimes feel like I may be the only one in Australia listening to UK duo Jack McNeill and Charlie Heys“, but I’m determined to change that, one post at a time.

And I’m hoping Jack McNeill and Charlie Heys’ brand new video “A Hymn to the Wolves” gains them a few more Australian fans as it’s just beautiful. The track is taken from their new album Any Other Morning – check out the video below:

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

Choosing Records

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

Stay GoldFirst Aid Kit

Stay Gold

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

WanderlustDavidson Brothers

Wanderlust

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

AubergineGreen Mohair Suits

Aubergine

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

Any Other MorningJack McNeill and Charlie Heys

Any Other Morning

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

Post TropicalJames Vincent McMorrow

Post Tropical

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

Winter PickJustin Bernasconi

Winter Pick

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

First MindNick Mulvey

First Mind

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

A Dotted LineNickel Creek

Dotted Line

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

One Up, Two DownOne Up, Two Down

One Up

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

WhispersPassenger

Passenger

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

Thank Folk It’s Friday – 13th June

TFIF

This Week in Folk

All the News From The Week That Was

Melody Pool has released her new video for “Somebody You’ve Never Met Before”. Details here

Clare Bowditch has announced details of her annual Winter Secrets tour with special guest Adalita. Details here

– Brisbane’s Drawn From Bees have released their new video “Calling You Out”. Details here

David Gray has released the new video for his track “Back in the World”. Details here

– As well as giving away a couple of tickets for tomorrow’s Sydney show, we also posted the new Wagons video “Beer Barrel Bar”. Details here

– Perth singer-songwriter Sean O’Neill has released his new single “Vienna”. Details here

– The new Jack McNeill and Charlie Heys album, Any Other Morning, came out this week and we have a stream of the track “A Hymn To The Wolves”. Details here

– Melbourne singer-songwriter David Blyth has released the video for his track “A Place To Call Home” featuring TinPan Orange’s Emily Lubitz. Details here

Jen Cloher has announced her only headline shows of 2014. Details here

– Having released his new album Whispers last week, Passenger has now treated us to his new clip “Scare Away The Dark”. Details here

– After making a big splash on the UK folk scene in 2013, Josienne Clarke and Ben Walker have announced plans to release a new album this October and have given fans a taster with the live video for “Silverline”. Details here

– Sydney’s Oliver Downes is streaming his new EP At The End online and will be launching it at a show this August. Details here

Caitlin Park is taking her new The Sleeper on tour with dates planned in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. Details here

– The official launch of the new Little Wise EP Sweet Rain Falling is this Sunday at the Northcote Social Club in Melbourne. Details here

Emily Barker revealed her new songwriting project with Dom Coyote and Ruben Engzell, Vena Portae, with their first single “Summer Kills”. Details here

– Melbourne based singer-songwriter Tobias Hengeveld has released the video for his track “Fools Rush In”. Details here

– Another single from Dom Flemons has made its way online, “Hot Chicken”. Details here

The Green Mohair Suits have released their new EP Aubergine along with a video for the title track. Details here

Releases This Week

On So It Goes
On So It GoesBrianna Carpenter
iTunes

Stay Gold
Stay GoldFirst Aid Kit
iTunes

Walking on Skin
Walking On SkinMonument Valley
iTunes

Sam Lee
More For To RiseSam Lee & Friends
Official Site

Favorite Waitress
Favorite WaitressThe Felice Brothers
iTunes

The Yearlings
All The WanderingThe Yearlings
Official Site

Timber and Steel Recommends – Go To This Gig

The Davidson Brothers w/ Fanny Lumsden, Sweet Jean

Davidson Brothers

The Davidson Brothers will be launching their brand new album Wanderlust at a very special show in Melbourne this Thursday. The album itself is due on the 20th June, so this will be your chance to get a sneak peek at what’s bound to be a cracking record.

Thursday 19th June – The Corner, Melbourne, VIC

Gigs Next Week

Chaika
Friday 13th June – The Foundry 616, Sydney, NSW
Saturday 14th June – Red Rattler, Sydney, NSW
Sunday 15th June – River Music, Nowra, NSW

Christopher Coleman Collective
Friday 13th June – Brighton Up Bar, Sydney, NSW

C.W. Stoneking
Friday 13th June – St Michael’s Uniting Church, Melbourne, VIC

Daniel Champagne
Wednesday 18th June – Howling Wolf Bar, Wollongong, NSW
Thursday 19th June – Bluebird Sessions, Milton, NSW

Graveyard Train
Friday 13th June – The Zoo, Brisbane, QLD
Saturday 14th June – The Brisbane, Hobart, TAS
Sunday 15th June – The Brisbane, Hobart, TAS
Thursday 19th June – The Barwon Club, Geelong, VIC
Friday 20th June – 170 Russell, Melbourne, VIC

Isaac de Heer
Thursday 19th June – Grace Darling Hotel, Melbourne, VIC

Jackson McLaren
Sunday 15th June – The Bearded Lady, Brisbane, QLD

Jeff Lang
Friday 13th June – The Tanks Arts Centre, Cairns, QLD
Saturday 14th June – The Heritage Hotel, Bulli, NSW
Sunday 15th June – Dark MOFO, Hobart, TAS

Josh Pyke
Friday 13th June – Fannie Bay Gaol, Darwin, NT
Sunday 15th June – Divers Tavern, Broome, WA
Friday 20th June – Empire Church Theatre, Toowoomba, QLD

Justin Bernasconi
Friday 13th June – The Bendigo Folk Club, Bendigo, VIC
Friday 20th June – Newport Folk Club, Newport, VIC

Kate Bart with Sarlin
Saturday 14th June – The Dancing Dog, Melbourne, VIC

Little Bastard
Friday 13th June – Newtown Social Club, Sydney, NSW
Saturday 14th June – Small Ballroom, Newcastle, NSW
Thursday 19th June – Prince Of Wales, Bunbury, WA
Friday 20th June – Settlers Tavern, Margaret River, WA

Little Wise with Susannah Coleman Brown
Sunday 15th June – Northcote Social Club, Melbourne, VIC

Melbourne Folk Club feat/ Jack Carty, All Our Exes Live In Texas, Grizzly Jim Lawrie
Wednesday 18th June – Bella Union, Melbourne, VIC

Mustered Courage
Friday 20th June – Turner Bowls Club, Canberra, ACT

Spookyland
Friday 13th June – FBi Social, Sydney, NSW

The Acfields
Saturday 14th June – Mars Hill Cafe, Parramatta, NSW

The April Maze
Friday 13th June – Dundurrabin Community Centre, Dundurrabin, NSW

The Audreys
Saturday 14th June – Ormond Hall, Melbourne, VIC
Thursday 19th June – The Byron Theatre, Byron Bay, NSW

The Beards
Friday 13th June – Kyneton Town Hall, VIC
Saturday 14th June – Ormond Hall, Melbourne, VIC
Sunday 15th June – Golden Vine Hotel, Bendigo VIC
Friday 20th June – Sound Lounge, Gold Coast, QLD

The Davidson Brothers w/ Fanny Lumsden, Sweet Jean
Thursday 19th June – The Corner, Melbourne, VIC

The Paper Kites
Friday 13th June – The Northern, Byron Bay, NSW
Saturday 14th June – The Hi-Fi, Brisbane, QLD
Thursday 19th Jun – Artbar @ Art Gallery of WA, Perth, WA
Friday 20th June – The Prince of Wales, Bunbury, WA

The Pierce Brothers
Saturday 14th June – Westernport Hotel, San Remo, NSW
Friday 20th June – Golden Vine Hotel, Bendigo, VIC

Todd Sibbin and the Acadian Driftwood
Friday 13th June – Jade Monkey, Adelaide, SA

Tracy McNeil
Friday 20th June – Basement Discs, Melbourne, VIC

Wagons
Friday 13th June – Yours & Owls, Wollongong, NSW
Saturday 14th June – Factory Theatre, Sydney, NSW
Sunday 15th June – Lizottes, Newcastle, NSW
Friday 20th June – The Zoo, Brisbane, QLD

Friday Folk Flashback

“Our Sunshine” – Paul Kelly & Uncle Bill

I think I have seen this song covered by Australian bluegrass bands more often than any other song, which must cement it as a modern Australian bluegrass standard. “Our Sunshine” is taken from Smoke, the 1999 album Paul Kelly collaborated on with Melbourne bluegrass band Uncle Bill.

Listen to the New Jack McNeill and Charlie Heys Track “A Hymn To The Wolves”

Jack McNeill and Charlie Heys
Image Courtesy of Jack McNeill and Charlie Heys

The new album for Jack McNeill and Charlie Heys, Any Other Morning, hit stores last week (you can buy it on iTunes here) and it’s already received a couple of glowing reviews. I love McNeill and Heys’ interpretation of English folk music – the tunes are modern but they sound timeless and the combination of Jack McNeill’s vocals and Charlie Heys’ fiddle is simply perfect.

We thought we’d share one more track from Any Other Morning before you rush out and buy it, the stunning “A Hymn To The Wolves”. Check it out below:

New Material from Jack McNeill and Charlie Heys

Jack McNeill and Charlie Heys
Image Courtesy of Jack McNeill and Charlie Heys

Over the last couple of months English folk duo Jack McNeill and Charlie Heys have been teasing new material on the webs – material that will appear on their recently announced 2014. album Any Other Morning.

The album was recorded and produced last year with Calum Malcolm (LAU). To get the Any Other Morning released Jack McNeill and Charlie Heys have just announced details of their crowdfunding campaign – you can check out everything you need to know over at Pledge Music here.

To get a taster of what’s in store for Any Other Morning check out some of the videos that Jack McNeill and Charlie Heys have been releasing online:

Timber and Steel’s Artists’ Top Albums of 2013

Listening to Records

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Album From Jack McNeill and Charlie Heys Two Fine Days

Jack McNeil & Charlie Heys
Image Courtesy of Jack McNeill and Charlie Heys

Jack McNeill and Charlie Heys’ album The Northern Road has been on constant rotation on my iPod for the last couple of years. It’s one of those albums I can reach back to at any time, no matter what mood I’m in, and always enjoy. So I was pretty excited to learn that the UK duo have just released their brand new long player Two Fine Days.

McNeill (guitar and vocals) and Heys (fiddle) have a real timelessness to their music. On Two Fine Days they are joined by Hannah Phillips on Scottish harp, Sean Law on Double Bass and the renowned percussionist Tom Chapman. Check out the live video for the track “Last Orders” below and a sample of a few more songs, along with details on how to get your hands on the album, on the official Jack McNeill and Charlie Heys website.

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