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.

 

Thank Folk It’s Friday – 26th August

TFIF

This Week in Folk

All the News From The Week That Was

– Sydney singer-songwriter Patrick James announced a solo tour this Spring. Details here

William Fitzsimmons announced details of his first live album. Details here

– A new folk-punk festival, the Cutthroat Folk Festival, has been announced for Sydney featuring Cutthroat Folk Fest will feature the likes of The Bottlers, Scarlet’s Revenge, Sailors Grave and Medusa’s Wake. Details here

Jen Cloher & The Endless Sea will be celebrating the 10th anniversary of the album Dead Wood Falls with shows in Sydney and Melbourne. Details here

– So many new artists added to the Mullum Music Festival lineup including Yirrmal, The Wilson Pickers, Jordie Lane & The Sleepers, Julia Jacklin, Áine Tyrrell, Ethno Folk Orchestra, Claire Anne Taylor, Sal Kimber & The Rollin’ Wheel, Liz Stringer, The Button Collective and many more. Details here

Bluesfest announced the first round of artists for their 2017 lineup including Zac Brown Band, Patti Smith, The Lumineers (above), Buddy Guy, Bonnie Raitt, Mavis Staples, Billy Bragg, Jethro Tull, Trombone Shorty, Gregory Porter, Snarky Puppy, St. Paul and The Broken Bones, Beth Hart, Laura Mvula, Roy Ayers, Booker T Jones Presents The Stax Records Revue, Andrew Bird, Rickie Lee Jones, Joan Osborne, Turin Brakes, The Strumbellas, Jake Shimabukuro, Dumpstaphunk, Nikki Hill and Irish Mythen. Details here

– Sydney singer-songwriter Eddie Boyd released his new video “Stoned”. Details here

– Sydney four-piece All Our Exes Live In Texas announced a massive national tour. Details here

– Swedish folk singer The Tallest Man On Earth announced a handful of Australian tour dates. Details here

– Legendary folk rock band The Levellers will be touring Australia in October to celebrate 25th anniversary of their seminal record Levelling The Land. Details here

Passenger released his new video “Anywhere”. Details here

Releases This Week

Josh Rennie Hynes
FurthermoreJosh Rennie Hynes
iTunes

Phia
The Ocean Of EverythingPhia
iTunes

Taasha
Taasha Coates & Her Melancholy SweetheartsTaasha Coates & Her Melancholy Sweethearts
ABC Shop

Wilson Pickers
You Can’t Catch Fish From a TrainThe Wilson Pickers
iTunes

Timber and Steel Recommends – Go To This Gig

Nick Payne

Nick Payne

To celebrate the successful crowdfunding of his solo album Nick Payne (Dear Orphans) is putting together a very special intimate show in his home town of Sydney tonight

Friday 26th August – The Newsagency, Sydney, NSW

Gigs Next Week

Áine Tyrrell
Friday 26th August – Boo Radley’s Hall, Glenreagh, NSW

All Our Exes Live In Texas
Friday 2nd to Sunday 4th September – Lorne Festival of Performing Arts, Lorne, VIC

Roadhouse feat. Andy Baylor’s Juke Joint Jumpers
Thursday 1st September – Miss Peaches, Sydney, NSW

Corey Harris
Friday 26th to Sunday 28th August – Blues & Roots Stage, Gympie Muster, QLD

BANFF x Caitlin Park
Friday 2nd September – Black Bear Lodge, Brisbane, QLD

Dustin Tebbutt w/ Robbie Miller, Woodes
Friday 26th August – Jack Rabbit Slims, Perth, WA
Saturday 27th August – Jive, Adelaide, SA

Eddie Boyd
Friday 26th August – The Loft, Warrnambool, VIC
Saturday 27th August – Leadbelly, Sydney, NSW

Fanny Lumsden & The Thrillseekers
Friday 2nd September – Ladysmith Hall, Ladysmith, NSW

Folk In The Blue feat. The Flash Coves, Tony Eardley, Francesca Sidoti, Paddy Cavanagh
Sunday 28th August – Hotel Blue, Katoomba, NSW

Folkswagon
Wednesday 31st August – Cafe Lounge, Sydney, NSW

Gympie Muster
Friday 26th to Sunday 28th August – Gympie, QLD

Hootennany feat. Elwood Myre
Sunday 28th August – Miss Peaches, Sydney, NSW

Jack Carty, Emily Barker & Jordan Millar
Friday 26th August – Shebeen Bandroom, Melbourne, VIC
Saturday 27th August – The Grace Emily, Adelaide, SA
Sunday 28th August – Mojos Barm Fremantle, WA
Friday 2nd September – The Milk Factory, Brisbane, QLD

Joe & Harmony’s Magic Carpet Ride BE-IN #8 feat. Sarah Hoggard, Keely Denham, Paul Hayward and the Sidekicks, Michael-John Azzopardi
Saturday 27th August – Newtown Neighbourhood Centre, Sydney, NSW

John Flanagan Trio
Friday 26th August – Suttons House of Music, Ballarat, VIC
Saturday 27th August – The Old Church On The Hill, Bendigo, VIC

Key To The Highway w/ Bree De Rome
Friday 2nd September – Gasoline Pony, Sydney, NSW

Lazy Colts
Saturday 27th August – Franks Wild Years, Thirroul, NSW
Sunday 28th August – The Oxford Circus, Sydney, NSW

Little Features Presents The Barber Shop Series
Saturday 27th August – Bourke St. Barbers, Sydney, NSW

Little Wise w/ Alana Bruce, Sam Newton
Thursday 1st September – Gasoline Pony, Sydney, NSW

Liz Stringer
Wednesday 31st August – Club Mullum, Mullumbimby, NSW
Thursday 1st September – Junk Bar, Brisbane, QLD

Lorne Festival of Performing Arts
Friday 2nd to Sunday 4th September – Lorne, VIC

McMahon, Young & Daley
Friday 26th August – Marrickville Bowling Club, Sydney, NSW

Nick Payne
Friday 26th August – The Newsagency, Sydney, NSW

Not Good With Horses w/ Bree De Rome
Sunday 28th August – Union Hotel, Sydney, NSW

Redfest
Friday 2nd to Sunday 4th September – Redlands Showground, Brisbane, QLD

Shady Pines Rhinestone Gala feat. Papa Pilko And The Binrats, Key To The Highway, Satellite V, The Daphne Rawling Band, Extension Chord, The Sweet Jelly Rolls
Sunday 28th August – Shady Pines, Sydney, NSW

Sweet Jelly Rolls
Thursday 1st September – Leadbelly, Sydney, NSW

The Dead Maggies
Friday 26th August – Psyfari Festival, Capertree Valley, NSW

Illawarra Folk Club Concert – Music & Friendship, A Special Fundraising Event
Sunday 28th August – City Diggers, Wollongong, NSW

Wirrina Bluegrass and Acoustic Roots Festival
Friday 2nd to Sunday 4th September – Wirrina Cove Holiday Park, Wirrina, SA

Friday Folk Flashback

“Under African Skies” – Paul Simon

Today is the 30th anniversary of the release of Graceland. I think that’s as good an excuse as any to fall down a Paul Simon Youtube rabbit hole.

Jen Cloher Announces Dead Wood Falls 10 Year Anniversary Shows

Jen Cloher
Image Courtesy of Jen Cloher

It’s been 10 years since Melbourne singer-songwriter Jen Cloher and The Endless Sea released their debut album Dead Wood Falls. The acoustically tinged album is getting an anniversary treatment with a new vinyl pressing and a couple of very special shows. And even better Jen Cloher is getting the The Endless Sea back together for the performances.

If you’re in Sydney or Melbourne we recommend getting along to one of these shows which promise to include performances of Dead Wood Falls in its entirety as well as some Endless Sea classics.

The full dates for the shows are below:

Friday 14th October – Newtown Social Club, Sydney, NSW
Saturday 15th October – Northcote Social Club, Melbourne, VIC

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.

Jen Cloher Announces Her Only Headline Shows for 2014

Jen Cloher
Image Courtesy of Jen Cloher

Respected folk, country, blues and rock singer Jen Cloher had a really busy 2013, releasing her latest album In Blood Memory, touring with the three piece Dyson Stringer Cloher and working on her workshop series I Manage My Music, so it’s no wonder that she’s been laying low so far this year.

However in a treat to fans Cloher has announced a small headline tour this July, her only shows planned for 2014. The shows will take Jen Cloher to Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane – check out the full dates below:

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

To coincide with the tour Jen Cloher and her band (Courtney Barnett on guitar, Bones Sloane on bass and Jen Sholakis on drums) have recorded their take on The Loved Ones’ “Sad Dark Eyes” which you can listen to here:

Thank Folk It’s Friday – 29th November

TFIF

This Week in Folk

All the News From The Week That Was

Mike McCarthy has announced plans to release a new surf-folk compilation CD next month titled Seaside. Details here

– The National Folk Festival has announced the first lineup of artists for 2014 including Eleanor McEvoy, Rose Cousins, Jordie Lane, Kate Fagan, Bernard Carney, The Mae Trio, The Davidson Brothers, Luke Plumb (Shooglenifty), Trouble In The Kitchen and more. Details here

– The new video for “Billy” from Sally Seltmann has been released. Details here

– Watch the new video from Eli Wolfe, “Dante”. Details here

– The Port Fairy Folk Festival have revealed their second round of artists for 2014 including Breabach, Damien Dempsey, Love Over Gold, Hanggai, Mama Kin, Oh Pep!, Sásta, Shane Nicholson, Tolka, Totally Gourdgeous, The Twoks and many many more. Details here

– Watch “Grace”, the new video from Adelaide’s Timberwolf. Details here

– Sydney’s All Our Exes Live In Texas have a new EP on the way plus a couple of shows to launch it. Details here

Jen Cloher has released a beautiful new video for the very personal song “Hold My Hand”. Details here

– The final MoFo at The Gaelic Club takes place next week featuring The Bearded Gypsy Band and The Tiger and Me. Details here

Jake Bugg has announced sideshows while he’s in the country for Bluesfest. Details here

Micah P. Hinson is releasing a charity Christmas EP, Wishing for a Christmas Miracle, with the Yellow Bird Project. Details here

– Melbourne based singer-songwriter Woody Pitney is the latest folk artist to cover the INXS track “Don’t Change”. Details here

The Lumineers have announced a handful of headline shows when they’re out here for The Big Day Out. Details here

Communion Melbourne have announced the lineup for their January show including The Staves, The Hello Morning, Jimmy Tait, The Phoncurves and Colourwheel. Details here

Blog

“To celebrate Christmas Bob Evans will be taking on a Wednesday night residency at the Northcote Social Club throughout December featuring some very special guests such as Ella Hooper, Ali Barter and Hayden Calnin. We thought we’d take the opportunity to ask Bob Evans for a list of his favourite Christmas songs but the man has turned things on its head providing us his top ten non-Xmas songs to play on Xmas Day”Bob Evans picks his top 10 non-Xmas songs. Blog here

Releases This Week

Catherine Traicos
The Earth, the Sea, the Moon, the SkyCatherine Traicos
iTunes

Timber and Steel Presents

Susy Blue
Susy Blue with Anne of the Wolves, Oh, Deanna
Sunday 1st December – The Workers Club, Melbourne, VIC

Gigs Next Week

All Our Exes Live In Texas w/ The Phoncurves, Richard Cuthbert
Thursday 5th December – The Factory Floor, Sydney, NSW

April Maze w/ Benny Walker
Tuesday 3rd December – The Toff in Town, Melbourne, VIC

Bob Evans
Wednesday 4th December – Northcote Social Club, Melbourne, VIC

Busby Marou
Friday 29th November – Fowlers, Adelaide, SA
Saturday 30th November – Fly By Night, Freemantle, WA

Dyson Stringer Cloher
Friday 29th November – Barossa Regional Gallery, Tanunda, SA
Saturday 30th November – Wheatsheaf Hotel, Adelaide, SA
Sunday 1st December – Singing Gallery, McLaren Vale, SA
Thursday 5th December – Fremantle Arts Centre, Fremantle, WA
Friday 6th December – The Bakery, Perth, WA

Festival of Small Halls w/ Jordie Lane and Rose Cousins
Friday 29th November – Sandgate Town Hall, Sandgate, QLD
Saturday 30th November – Wolvi and District Hall, Wolvi, QLD
Sunday 1st December – Eudlo Hall, Eudlo, QLD
Thursday 5th December – Eulo Hall, Eulo, QLD

Georgia Fair
Friday 29th November – Howler, Melbourne, VIC
Saturday 30th November – Hibernian House, Sydney, NSW
Sunday 1st December – Hibernian House, Sydney, NSW

Hayden Calnin
Friday 6th December – The Workers Club, Melbourne, VIC

Passenger
Sunday 1st December – Thebarton Theatre, Adelaide, SA
Wednesday 4th December – Palais Theatre, Melbourne, VIC
Friday 6th December – The Tivoli, Brisbane, QLD

Perch Creek Family Jugband
Friday 29th November – The Small Ballroom, Newcastle, NSW
Saturday 30th November – Diggers Tavern, Bellingen, NSW

Kaurna Cronin
Friday 29th November – The Aztec, Forster, NSW
Sunday 1st December – The Arts Factory, Byron Bay, NSW

Sal Kimber & The Rollin’ Wheel
Friday 29th November – The Northcote Social Club, Melbourne, VIC

Sam Buckingham and Buffalo Tales
Wednesday 4th December – Revolver, Melbourne, VIC

The Crooked Fiddle Band
Saturday 30th November – Settlers Tavern, Margaret River, WA
Sunday 1st December – Clancy’s Fish Pub, Dunsborough, WA
Friday 6th December – Polish Club, Canberra, ACT

Timberwolf
Friday 29th November – The Junkyard, Forster, NSW
Sunday 1st December – The Brewery, Byron Bay, NSW

Whitaker
Friday 29th November – Revolver, Melbourne, VIC

Whitley
Friday 29th November – Woombye Pub, Sunshine Coast, QLD
Saturday 30th November – Coolangatta Hotel, Gold Coast, QLD

Friday Folk Flashback

“Cruel Sister” – Pentangle

Following on from last week’s “Riddles Wisely Expounded” we thought we’d offer up another Child Ballad (number 10) for FFF – one with the same melody and same refrain (“Lay the bent to the bonny broom”) but with a completely different story. The folk process at work!

Watch the New Jen Cloher Video “Hold My Hand”

Jen Cloher
Image Courtesy of Jen Cloher

For her latest single Jen Cloher has chosen “Hold My Hand”, a song that’s very very personal. The song was inspired by Cloher’s Mother’s battle with Alzheimer’s and the the relationship between her mother and father. The clip, directed by Christopher Dudman, was shot at Bethells Beach in New Zealand and stars acclaimed Kiwi actor and national treasure Ian Mune. Check it out below:

“Hold My Hand” is taken from Jen Cloher’s 2013 album In Blood Memory. Jen Cloher is currently on tour with Mia Dyson and Liz Stringer as part of their Dyson Stringer Cloher project – the remaining dates are below:

Wednesday 27th November – Red Hot, Devonport, TAS
Thursday 28th November – Grand Poobah, Hobart, TAS
Friday 29th November – Barossa Regional Gallery, Tanunda, SA
Saturday 30th November – Wheatsheaf Hotel, Adelaide, SA
Sunday 1st December – Singing Gallery, McLaren Vale, SA
Thursday 5th December – Fremantle Arts Centre, Fremantle, WA
Friday 6th December – The Bakery, Perth, WA
Saturday 7th December – Quindanning Inne, Quindanning, WA

Thank Folk It’s Friday – 4th October

TFIF

This Week in Folk

All the News From The Week That Was

Nick Mulvey debuted his brand new video for the track “Nitrous”. Details here

– The new video from Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, “Life Is Hard”, shows the band doing what they do best – playing live. Details here

– Singer-songwriter Cass McCombs, who will be in the country next year for Laneway, has released his new single “Brighter” featuring Karen Black on vocals. Details here

– To celebrate the release of his new album Country Mile this week Johnny Flynn has released the title track as his new video. Details here

– Two of Timber and Steel’s favourites, Sam Buckingham and Buffalo Tales, are heading out on tour together. Details here

– Melbourne’s Kate Martin has released her new single “Awaken” and will be touring this November. Details here

Arbori have released their new single “Flannelette and Feather Beds” ahead of their tour for Timber and Steel. Details here

Mark Moldre has a new video, “Four Winds”, and a free NSW south coast tour with Sarah Humphreys. Details here

Tomas Strode and The Tour Guides are streaming their new album Graceful Mistake online before the official launch in Melbourne this Wednesday. Details here

Mia Dyson, Liz Stringer and Jen Cloher are teaming up to tour as Dyson Stringer Cloher this October, November and December and are streaming a stunning tour EP to get you in the mood. Details here

– The Illawarra Folk Festival revealed the first artists for 2014 including Andy Irvine, The Beez, Dom Flemons, Whitetop Mountaineers, The Miss Chiefs, The Timbers and many many more. Details here

– This month’s MoFo at The Gaelic in Sydney will feature All Our Exes Live in Texas and Oh Pep! Details here

– We exclusively debuted “Feet In The Sand”, the new video from Rose Wintergreen. Details here

– The new single from The Head and the Heart, “Another Story”, is just stunning. Details here

– Two of the Falls Festival’s more folky acts, James Vincent McMorrow and Tom Odell, have announced sideshows. Details here

Interviews

“I do feel joy in my life. I don’t live in that place of my music all the time. Even though, it’s totally always just under the surface. It’s just here (touches chest under vest) and it can come out very easily”Scott Matthew spends an evening with Janine Estoesta. Interview here

“I stopped listening to the album a little while ago. Occasionally I’ll see it there and spin one or two tracks but I want to start again with everyone else. When it [comes out] I’ll start listening with everyone else to feel like it’s new for me as well” – Thomas Busby of Busby Marou chats to Gareth Hugh Evans. Interview here

“The first reason why I started to do the house concert tours is because I just wanted to be able to play more and I felt like I was exhausting all my options around the country. The size of venue that I was playing at at the time and how I was doing things meant I couldn’t necessarily go to Melbourne and play three or four gigs and actually make that work for me. I thought what if I did one gig in Melbourne and a couple of gigs in people’s homes around Melbourne so that I could spend three or four days there, I could play to more people and potentially not lose money by doing that”Sam Buckingham chats to Gareth Hugh Evans. Interview here

Releases This Week

Busby Marou
Farewell FitzroyBusby Marou
iTunes

Rosie Catalano
Dreams Are Just MoviesRosie Catalano
Bandcamp

Crooked Fiddle Band
Moving Pieces of the SeaThe Crooked Fiddle Band
Bandcamp

Little Stevies
Diamonds For Your TeaThe Little Stevies
iTunes

Afterdust
AfterdustWoody Pitney
iTunes

Timber and Steel Presents

Arbori
Arbori
Friday 4th October – Some Velvet Morning, Melbourne, VIC
Saturday 5th October – Revolt Studios, Melbourne, VIC
Tuesday 8th October – The Front, Canberra, ACT
Friday 11th October – Triple Menace Studio, Sydney, NSW

Gigs Next Week

Foy Vance
Thursday 10th October – The Basement, Sydney, NSW

Jack Carty
Friday 4th October – The Clarendon, Katoomba, NSW
Saturday 5th October – The Heritage, Bulli, NSW
Sunday 6th October – The Front, Canberra, ACT

Jinja Safari
Friday 4th October – Settlers Tavern, Margaret River, WA
Saturday 5th October – The Astor, Perth, WA
Sunday 6th October – Prince Of Wales, Bunbury, WA

Liz Frencham
Friday 4th October – Humph Hall, Nth Sydney, NSW
Sunday 6th October – The Clarendon Guesthouse, Katoomba, NSW

Loren Kate
Thursday 10th October – Kidgo Arthouse, Fremantle, WA
Friday 11th October – Nanga Music Festival, Dwellingup, WA

Mark Moldre and Sarah Humphreys
Thursday 10th October – Bottlerocket Bar & Cafe, Nowra, NSW
Friday 11th October – Shellharbour Workers Club, Shellharbour, NSW

Matt Corby with Bear’s Den
Wednesday 9th October – Wollongong University, Wollongong, NSW
Thursday 10th October – ANU Bar, Canberra, ACT
Friday 11th October – Hordern Pavilion, Sydney, NSW

Nigel Wearne
Friday 4th October – Harmonie German Club, Narrabundah, ACT
Saturday 5th October – St Leonards Vineyard, Wahgunyah, VIC
Saturday 5th October – Tanswells Hotel, Beechworth, VIC

Olivers Army
Friday 4th October – The Spotted Mallard, Melbourne, VIC

Oscar Lush
Thursday 10th October – Sofar Sounds, Sydney, NSW

Potato Potato
Friday 4th October – Brunswick Hotel, Brunswick Heads, NSW

Roscoe James Irwin
Thursday 10th October – The Wheatsheaf Hotel, Adelaide, SA

Rose Wintergreen with Rosie Catalano
Friday 4th October – The Hideaway, Brisbane, QLD
Thursday 10th October – The Oxford Arts Factory, Sydney, NSW

Takadimi
Friday 4th October – Paris Cat Jazz Club, Melbourne, VIC
Saturday 5th October – Ceres Markets (morning), Brunswick East, VIC
Saturday 5th October – Secret House Concert, Brunswick East, VIC
Sunday 6th October – Popup Gig, Melbourne, VIC

Tanya Batt
Saturday 5th October – FBi Social, Sydney, NSW

The Bon Scotts
Thursday 10th October – The Front Bar, Canberra, ACT
Friday 11th October – Grand Junction, Maitland, NSW

The Lamplights and Buffalo Tales
Friday 4th October – The Soundlounge, Gold Coast, QLD
Saturday 5th October – Greenslopes Bowls Club, Brisbane, QLD

The Stillsons
Friday 4th October – 5 Church St, Bellingen, NSW
Saturday 5th October – The Wickham Park Hotel, Newcastle, NSW
Sunday 6th October – The Junkyard, Maitland, NSW

Tomas Strode & The Tour Guides with Aluka, Amy Alex
Wednesday 9th October – The Toff in Town, Melbourne, VIC

Whitley
Friday 11th October – Hotel New York, Launceston, TAS

Xavier Rudd, Donavon Frankenreiter and Nahko and Medicine for the People
Friday 4th October – Big Top, Sydney, NSW
Sunday 6th October – Caloundra Music Festival, Caloundra, QLD
Monday 7th October – YAC Ampitheatre, Byron Bay, NSW
Tuesday 8th October – The Tivoli, Brisbane, QLD

Friday Folk Flashback

“October” – Tunng

Can you believe it’s October already? My how the year flies.

Listen to the New Dyson Stringer Cloher Tour EP

Dyson Stringer Cloher
Image Courtesy of Dyson Stringer Cloher

Three of Australia’s most celebrated sing-songwriters, Mia Dyson, Liz Stringer and Jen Cloher, have come together this month for a massive tour that will see them performing songs from across their respective catalogues as well as collaborating in what’s bound to be one of the highlights of 2013. To celebrate the tour the trio have released a limited tour EP which you can listen to below:

Pretty special right? You can pick up a digital or physical copy of the EP here. The full list of dates for the upcoming Dyson Stringer Cloher tour are below:

Thursday 24th October – Spotted Cow, Toowoomba, QLD
Friday 25th October – The Sound Lounge, Currumbin, QLD
Saturday 26th October – Judith Wright Centre, Brisbane, QLD
Sunday 27th October – Woombye Pub, Eumundi, QLD
Thursday 31st October – Byron Bay Brewery, Byron Bay, NSW
Friday 1st November – Panthers, Port Macquarie, NSW
Saturday 2nd November – Lizotte’s, Newcastle, NSW
Sunday 3rd November – Lizotte’s, Kincumber, NSW
Tuesday 5th November – Brass Monkey, Cronulla, NSW
Wednesday 6th November – Clarendon Guest House, Katoomba, NSW
Thursday 7th November – Lizotte’s, Dee Why, NSW
Friday 8th November – Factory Theatre, Sydney, NSW
Saturday 9th November – Heritage Hotel, Bulli, NSW
Sunday 10th November – The Abbey, Canberra, ACT
Wednesday 13th November – Ararat Hotel Red Room, Ararat, VIC
Thursday 14th November – Caravan Music Club, Oakleigh, VIC
Friday 15th November – Theatre Royal, Castlemaine, VIC
Saturday 16th November – Thornbury Theatre, Melbourne, VIC
Sunday 17th November – Beav’s Bar, Geelong, VIC
Friday 22nd November – Balnarring Community Hall, Balnarring, VIC
Saturday 23rd November – Butter Factory, Mornington, VIC
Wednesday 27th November – Red Hot, Devonport, TAS
Thursday 28th November – Grand Poobah, Hobart, TAS
Friday 29th November – Barossa Regional Gallery, Tanunda, SA
Saturday 30th November – Wheatsheaf Hotel, Adelaide, SA
Sunday 1st December – Singing Gallery, McLaren Vale, SA
Thursday 5th December – Fremantle Arts Centre, Fremantle, WA
Friday 6th December – The Bakery, Perth, WA
Saturday 7th December – Quindanning Inne, Quindanning, WA

Timber and Steel’s Artists’ Top Albums of 2012

Listening to Records

Not satisfied with just providing you with our own opinions around the best albums of 2012 we have once again put the call out to some of our favourite artists to find out what they’ve been listening to this year. And the response to this call has been simply astounding – over 90 artists sent us their number one album of 2012, along with a couple of sentences as to why it’s their number one, almost tripling the amount of submissions from last year and demonstrating once again just how personal and diverse everyone’s relationship to music can be.

Once again a big thank you has to go out to all the artists who contributed along with the dedicated managers, publicity people and record labels we pestered to get this piece across the line – you’re all amazing, dedicated, wonderful people who keep this great national (and international) beast that is the music industry alive.

And now it’s time for the blogger to pass his keyboard over to the blogged as we present to you Timber and Steel’s Artists’ Top Albums of 2012:

The Lion's ShareSarah Humphreys
Mike McCarthyThe Lion’s Share
Mike has a beautiful way with words and melodies, he can stir up feelings of love, loss, mystery and hope all in one album. Sometimes in one song! There’s a gentleness in this record, I can hear more love in his voice than ever before.

God Bless You AmigoRoland Kay-Smith (Roland K Smith and the Sinners)
Felice BrothersGod Bless You Amigo
After the brave, but often confusing album that was Celebration Florida, The Felice Brothers return to more familiar territory with God Bless You Amigo. “Her Eyes Dart Around” is a tear-jerkingly beautiful ballad, the off-kilter harmonies in “Lincoln Continental” blow my mind every time I hear them, and “Dream On” is a fantastically melancholic retelling of the Stagger Lee story. At 20 tracks it’s overlong, but the porch-strumming charm of the album makes each song a joy to listen to, and I should know, I’ve listen to this album plenty.

The AnecdotesSam Lee
Seamus Cater & Viljam NybackaThe Anecdotes
English Dutch duo based in Amsterdam who have written this chronicle of biographic songs based around cultural figures and steeped in folklore and alternative experimental theatre sound art. They have created this soundworld that is both sepia toned in 70s fender rhodes and melodic drum work and captures the sounds of revival and the monologues of obscure historical figures. A work of touching depth and simplicity.

Who's Feeling Young NowChris Stone (The String Contingent)
Punch BrothersWho’s Feeling Young Now?
Outrageously virtuosic instrumentalists, with super strong musical vision, brilliant execution, and a work ethic like no other … they are the tightest, most polished band around, and given the technical and musical complexity of there music, is both depressing and inspirational.

Carry Me BackBen and James Daley (Bellyache Ben and the Steamgrass Boys, The Daley Brothers)
Old Crow Medicine ShowCarry Me Back
This album has all the Old Crow trademarks: hard hitting blues, fast pickin bluegrass, honest singing and lyrics, great harmonies, and most importantly brilliant songwriting. The title track and “Levi” are both contenders for song of the year. This album (and Old Crow’s ever growing and ever impressive body of work) confirms them as one of the great modern American bands. I dare say when they are done they will be remembered as one of the great all time American bands.

Who's Feeling Young NowClaude Hay
SoundgardenKing Animal
This is easy for me: Soundgarden, King Animal, quiet simply my favourite singer of all time. I’ve been waiting for this release for ever, some classic dirty guitar and pure rock the world’s been missing.

The Lion's RoarTodd Sibbin (Todd Sibbin and the Opposite Ends, Traveller and Fortune)
First Aid KitThe Lion’s Roar
Besides the blatantly obvious reasons (fantastic singing, fantastic songwriting), Mike Mogis (of Bright Eyes fame) has nailed the “atmospheric moodiness” vibe in his production techniques. It’s got that unmistakeable old school Bright Eyes sound, with slightly more polish

Into The BloodstreamWarren Fahey
Archie RoachInto the Bloodstream
I was never a hooked Archie fan but this new collection of very personal and aspirational songs really grabbed me emotionally. Archie has seen a lot of shit in his life including the loss of his partner Ruby Hunter and, over the past couple of years, some shocker medical hurdles yet he writes and sings in such an uplifting manner you feel the joy. It is also a craftily assembled album with a great choir, really tasty musicianship and some vocal acrobatics from Archie that I just wasn’t expecting. At one stage he produces a growl befitting the blues and soul and then his voice soars to the rafters. This is a really fine album

Carried in MindHat Fitz and Cara Robinson
Jeff LangCarried in Mind
This album of 2012 is one of those albums that more than manages to carry you away into another time and world. That’s what I love about a great album, it switches off the mind and lets the imagination take over and it does that completely. One song in particular is track 3, “Fisherman’s Farewell”, co written with his wife Alison Ferrier, a truly exquisite piece of writing.

LeelanauMatt Bauer
Dana FalconberryLeelanau
It’s rare when an album is as fully realized as this. It has everything I want in music: great lyrics and melodies, strange harmonies, beautiful arrangements, unexpected rhythms, a specific sense of place, an air of mystery, and just some kind of undefinable magic. Perfect from start to finish.

Mid AirMatt Walters
Paul BuchananMid Air
Paul Buchanan is the lead singer of one of the world’s most important and underrated bands, The Blue Nile. The lead singer’s first solo offering is a quiet masterpiece. Comprised almost completely of subdued piano, and smoky, hushed vocals; this is one of the most transformative, beautiful records I’ve ever heard. Buchanan, now in his late 50’s, croons like a more poetic and mournful Sinatra – reminiscing, regretting and reconciling through some of the most poignant and intimate songs ever recorded.

Born and RaisedAshleigh Mannix
John MayerBorn and Raised
Truthfully I’ve only listened to it a few times, but it was the first album that came into my head when asked about my favourite album of the year – and for good reason! Mr Mayer always surprises with the twist and turns he has taken when recording his albums. He’s playing with more of a country vibe in this one. In the second single “Queen of California”, there’s a lyric that says “Looking for the sun that Neil Young hung/After the gold rush of 1971”. There’s definitely a Neil Young-esque vibe throughout the album. I love it! It will be my soundtrack for hungover weekend’s in the sun!

HereTigertown
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic ZerosHere
A perfect way to follow up their first album Up From Below, they have captured the large group sound that they have live while still leaving enough space for Alexander Ebert’s genius song-writing and lyrics to shine through. This record always makes a loud appearance on our touring mix tape.

Farthest FieldMike McCarthy
Daniel Martin Moore & Joan ShelleyFarthest Field
Farthest Field sounds like an album recorded in a hall, live, with four beautiful microphones between two great songwriters. Sparse and incredibly beautiful is how I would describe it.

Mad BastardsJeanette Wormald
Alex Lloyd, The Pigram Brothers, Kasey Chambers and Shane NicholsonMad Bastards: Music From the Motion Picture
I found this late in 2011 and haven’t stopped listening to it. Great colours, great artists and oh so Australian. It’s fresh and it’s interesting and I really enjoyed the collaborations between Alex Lloyd and The Pigram Brothers. The movie is incredibly compelling too. A must see for people wanting an insight into the challenges of Australians living on the fringe.

DeathFrank Turner
Jim Lockey & The Solemn SunDeath
I’ve known Jim for a while and loved his work, but I always suspected he had a record in him that would take what he did from being good to being truly great. It was with great satisfaction, then, that I listened to this one for the first time. It’s everything I was hoping for, a perfect blend of country, rock, folk and something heavier and darker. Brilliant.

The Lion's RoarCallum Adamson (ahab)
First Aid KitThe Lion’s Roar
I’ve chosen First Aid Kit’s record for a few reasons.
1. The record is nothing more than great country songs beautifully produced
2. They are one of the few bands that are just as good live as on record
3. One of my “goosebumps” moments of this year was when I first heard “Emmylou” – I really really wish I’d written it.

DearEmily and the Woods
Keaton HensonDear
Keaton’s voice and lyrics cut through whatever is happening, wherever I am. There is an immediacy and strength to his words and his delivery is so full of emotion that it makes me want to cry with him. I believe in his heartache; it feels raw. This album truly reminded me how powerful it is when you tell it how you feel it. That’s my favourite kind of songwriting, and it feels exemplified in the way he phrases and sings some lines. My favourite song on the album is the closing track, “Party Song”; which is unashamedly bleak.

Stars and SatellitesThe Quarry Mountain Dead Rats
Trampled By TurtlesStars and Satellites
We were waiting for this album to be released and it didn’t disappoint. Got a good mix of slower songs and and the usual kick ass ones. Ear f*$#ingly good!

Trains I MissedNick Keeling (Mustered Courage)
Balsam RangeTrains I Missed
Balsam Range deliver straight up modern driving bluegrass at its best. They are world class pickers, songwriters and boy can they sing. The harmonies are super tight and I love how the vocals are mixed. It gives you that baseball bat of three part harmony hit, straight in the face.

Stars and SatellitesCoty Hogue
RodriguezSearching for Sugar Man Soundtrack
Okay, so maybe all these songs were originally released in 1970-71, but considering most all of us (at least over here in the States) had never heard of Rodriguez before this film, and the fact that these songs are absolutely BRILLIANT and beautiful, makes this my must listen to album of the year! (I should also include the original two albums that these songs come from)

Warm in the DarknessNadine Budge (The Stetson Family)
Liz StringerWarm in the Darkness
From the multitude of reasons why this is my favourite album this year, the overarching one is that Liz Stringer is authentic – the real deal. This album serves up some of the melting beauty of Liz’s slower songs that she has shown herself to be a master of – then whacks it for a six when she pulls out some big guns and rocks it out! It’s the triple threat of great songwriting, sublime vocals and kick-arse musicianship.

Hard RubbishLouise O’Reilly (Laneway)
Lower Plenty – Hard Rubbish
It’s stony dreamy domestic. We found it driving from Melbourne to Adelaide on our tour and it took us all the way home.

Off We GoDesert Rat Shorty (The Lurkers)
Jess and Richard ArrowsmithOff We Go
This year I have a toddler, and as a consequence, I’ve spent most of the year listening to my favourite kids CD. It’s real music for kids. No autotune, no synthesisers and no politically correct rewriting for kids (the pirates in the songs still drink rum!). The songs are all old English nursery rhymes played on traditional instruments. And our one-and-a-half-year-old loves it.

Black Vat TrioWeary Hobo and Rocky Mountain Slim (The Lurkers)
Black Vat TrioBlack Vat Trio
They are a Sydney-based trio with Rishin (trombone), Rascal (violin) and Bones (piano accordion plus drums) who play Klezma and Romani inspired originals and Eastern European Classics. Songs and tunes they perform from other traditions they acknowledge openly unlike some Australian bands in the same scene. What Black Vat Trio create themselves are soundtracks to my dirty old Sydney town. Songs like “Rapscallions” are reminiscent of Waiting for Guinness and the genuine, straightforward production of the album brings it out on top of the new releases of the year for me. This album keeps toddlers of all ages laughing and dancing!

Court The StormJeremiah Fraites (The Lumineers)
Y La BambaCourt the Storm
It’s a terrific album. Is it folk, is it world, is it singer-songwriter? I don’t know. And personally, I don’t care. Talking about music is like dancing about architecture. Just listen to the damn thing.

Spirit BirdNardi Simpson (Stiff Gins)
Xavier RuddSpirit Bird
I first heard Xavier Rudd perform over twelve years ago. I knew nothing about him but watched as he played and stomped and sang the young audience into waves of inspired frenzy. He was on the way up, he sounded great, the kids loved him and he had his own unique sound. He also played the yidaki or didjeridoo. Now as blackfullas we regularly walk around festivals and see masses of people dancing and trancing out to the sound of yidaki – but most times it is not being played by a black musician. And so we carry this with us a little bit, well I do anyway. I sat there and listened to Rudd and looked at the crowd and thought of all the brothers I knew who would never get the same chance or attention if they did. Ten years later an ‘Indig’ stage was funded at Bluesfest. We had got a gig and walked around starry eyed, shyly watching legends from the wings and spinning out on the greenroom facilities. We walked past dressing room doors…Blind Boys of Alabama, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Jason Mraz, Angelique Kidjo, and as we came up to Xavier Rudd’s room out popped his head: “Brother, come and be part of this smoking ceremony”, he asked my partner. I can only guess he didn’t see or recognise me. So in he went, into this stranger/stars dressing room and did ceremony. Four months ago I saw Xavier Rudd had a new album out. I assembled together all the little pieces of him I knew and I bought it. I wanted to understand something more of the man. I listened to his songs and let them soak into me and it was at that point that our worlds collided. Where first I was a young musician, starting to sing of my world and my special place in it – and compete with all those who were doing the same, now I was a searcher of stories and of deep, and meaningful connections. I had come to the place that perhaps Rudd was at all those years ago- creating narratives to forge and maintain relationships with people, place and country. As a musician Rudd has consistently taken steps towards the place that I too now wish to explore. To show others how beautiful it is when country sings back. I still haven’t met Xavier Rudd, I doubt whether I will but I think I am a little closer to understanding him and his music. And so I see this album Spirit Bird as more than a collection of songs, it’s a story about a man on a journey. And as he walks, so do we.

BlunderbussHenry Wagons
Jack WhiteBlunderbuss
Following the epic legacy of his other bands, there is no doubt the pressure was on, whether Jack admitted it to himself or not. All the publicity said this album was kinda throwaway, recorded when another artist cancelled his session at Third Man Records. Yet, when you tune in to the opening riff of the album’s opener “Missing Pieces”, you immediately realise this album is about to deliver in spades to all those curious ears pointed towards it. It sounds so smooth, rockin’ and analogue … and seems it would have been a blast to put together. Its sense of spontaneity and creative freedom translates through to the listener. A bluesy, garage masterpiece, gloriously thrown together.

Me and MoonHannah Acfield (Dan and Hannah Acfield)
Lydia ColeMe & Moon
As I suspected, iTunes confirmed this was my most played album of 2012! I met Lydia at the APRA Song Summit earlier in the year and she was so lovely it prompted me to buy her album. Me & Moon is a stunning collection of songs, the production is delicate and raw, yet so beautiful and clever. In this case, less is certainly more. Lydia has an exquisite voice that captured me straight away. The songs are well written, am honest tale of heartbreak and loss. I had an immediate connection with this album and have not stopped playing it. Beautiful.

BlunderbussDave “Christo” Christensen (Charlie Mayfair)
Jack WhiteBlunderbuss
By far the most soulful and energetic album of the year from a man that understands the effect that the women in his life have had on his personality and the insecurities it hides. Through big speakers this album is louder than anything else out this year.

Young Man in AmericaEmily Barker
Anaïs MitchellYoung Man in America
I love the mood she creates straight from the outset; pensive and alluring. Lyrically I think it’s phenomenal – it has a stream of consciousness element and repetition of themes: childhood; parenthood; growing up in America; stories we inherit. Instrumentally it’s killer too – I love the combination of woodwind instruments, mandolin, guitars, layered vocals, such rich textures always serving the songs. I get more and more from it every time I listen to it – there is so much depth in this record.

There's No Leaving NowLittle Bastard
Tallest Man on EarthThere’s No Leaving Now
It’s great to see a modern day artist maintain the quality of songwriting up to his fourth release. He has also manage to arrange and produce the music that keeps the listener interested and shows growth from previous albums.

The Burgh Island EPHeidi Waddell (Cordial Factory)
Ben HowardThe Burgh Island EP
All I want to do is sit in a cool, dark room with my eyes closed and breathe in the sounds of this EP. Since I heard Ben Howard’s song “Depth Over Distance” last year, I had been waiting and hoping that his new EP would be much the same and it is. I love that he’s not afraid of combining stillness and passion. He’s created something really unique; it’s deep and full and haunting.

Back at the Quonset HutKetch Secor (Old Crow Medicine Show)
Chuck Mead & His Grassy Knoll BoysBack at the Quonset Hut
About 20 years ago, while Nashville was perfecting it’s recipe for the blandest batch of country music yet, a band called BR-549 was serving it up raw seven nights a week on the freaky streets of Lower Broad. This year Chuck Mead, BR’s longtime frontman, released Back At The Quonset Hut – 12 classic cuts backed by Nashville’s A-Team of sessions players, the color guard of pickers, the very men who made country music what the world knows it to be – true. It still is, and Chuck Mead proves it.

Race the LoserJohn Spiers (Bellowhead, Spiers and Boden)
LauRace the Loser
It’s got everything going for it. It’s hugely complex and experimental with some superb playing yet it bears up to repeated listening incredibly well. For me, the ability to listen to it on lots of different levels makes it the perfect album.

Adventures in Your Own BackyardPete Flood (Bellowhead)
Patrick WatsonAdventures in Your Own Backyard
Eerie, lush, cinematic and full of intriguing twists and turns – it’s like walking through a sunlit wood in late autumn. Pretentious but true.

GossamerSam Sweeny (Bellowhead)
Passion PitGossamer
It’s a perfect pop record. It combines musical simplicity with awesome technical complexity. Each track has new layers that keep jumping out at you at every listen, and to top it all, there isn’t a duff track on the album. It’s sublime music.

Time As We Know ItAdam McGrath (The Eastern)
Todd SniderTime As We Know It: The Songs of Jerry Jeff Walker
We spend at least 100-150 days a year sucking up bitumen, roadside pies (best one in six years is the fish pie from wairoa on the bottom of the east cape of the Nth Island of NZ), junk from junk shops, and lung disorders from the air con, in all manner of wheeled transport around New Zealand, Australia and parts and ports beyond. There are basically three rules in the van, 1) Only let Flora the fiddle player drive when no one else can possibly manage it 2) Adam must listen to Waylon Jennings on any post 1am drives (and be allowed to sing along with gusto and a slight edge of drunken melencholy) 3) and when the shit gets bad, hard, or both then we must listen to Todd Snider bootlegs (Tales From Moondog Tavern Vol. 1-5 are particular faves) or Jerry Jeff Walker, they are our road guards. This year Todd Snider released Time As We Know It an album of Jerry Jeff Walker covers, it wouldn’t have mattered if it sucked (it doesn’t) the idea alone would have made it our album of 2012. If next year he does an album of Thin Lizzy songs our lives would indeed be complete.

The Idler WheelTexture Like Sun
Fiona AppleThe Idler Wheel…
Although I haven’t listened to too much new music this year this album is one that recently came to me, and floored me. It’s dark, melancholly and sparse, about what I’d excpect from a Fiona Apple album. Love the additional instumentation in some tracks (you can hear lot of things clanging in the background) – and her voice! This music makes me feel something more than most.

I've Got a Friend Called Emily FerrisJen Cloher
Courtney BarnettI’ve Got a Friend Called Emily Ferris
The debut release from Melbourne based singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett was recorded in a friend’s lounge room in Thornbury. A lo-fi seven song collection of pop gems with plenty of psych-rock wig outs to boot. Original, often humorous lyrics tumble effortlessly over catchy-as-hell melodies. The first song, “Lance Jnr” opens with the lyric “I masturbated to the songs you wrote”. Nuff said.

The Stars Are Indifferent to AstronomyKevin Micthell (Bob Evans, Basement Birds)
Nada SurfThe Stars Are Indifferent To Astronomy
I’ve been a fan of this band since their seminal album Let Go around 10 years ago and they’ve barely put a foot wrong since. Their new album is another perfect template on how to write glistening power pop with intelligent, poetic lyrics. Underated? I think so.

A Different ShipHusky Gawenda (Husky)
Here We Go MagicA Different Ship
Interesting, infectious songs. A diverse album, but one that flows nicely from start to finish. Spoke to me immediately, before I had a chance to consider why – as all good albums do.

All The Little LightsHelen Croome (Gossling)
PassengerAll The Little Lights
A beautiful album with sweet and heartbreaking stories. Mike is an incredible story-teller who manages to find the perfect balance between memorable melodies and a descriptive tale. A favourite track would be “Let Her Go” with it’s beautiful lyric imagery. And the live version of “I Hate” is another favourite for it’s humour and honesty.

Out of FrequencyNikki Thorburn (ILUKA)
The Asteroid Galaxy TourOut Of Frequency
Danish psychedelic pop band The Asteroid Galaxy Tour are in a class of their own, and their second studio album Out Of Frequency proves just this. With more attitude and swagger than their debut album Fruit, this record is as innovative and refreshing as it is inviting. Drawing on array of eccentric, hypnotic and inviting sounds, they create a fantasy world that is deeply potent and entrancing. Chicago blues on “shrooms” and film noir on acid, it’s truly a case of the sum being greater than its parts.

Mirage RockMark “Looch” Lewis (Handsome Young Strangers)
Band of HorsesMirage Rock
On first listen its hard to believe this is the same band who put out the excellent Everything All The Time album back in 2006. Raw, loose and stripped back, Mirage Rock is everything that their debut was not. Folk purists may baulk at the move in a popier direction on some tunes and whilst I agree that it is not all an easy ride, stand firm! Because with repeated listening this record will reward you if you invest the time. As all great records should.

An Awesome WaveHayden Calnin
Alt-J (∆)An Awesome Wave
This is one of those albums that you tend to pick up and chuck on pretty much every day. In my eyes (ears?) Alt-J have delivered not only the most original sounding record of the year with their very infectious compositions and hauntingly fragile yet powerful vocal style, but also the best written as well. My personal favourite “Ms” off the album takes the cake for being my favourite track of the year as well.

Mirage RockGeorge Jackson
Brittany Haas and Dan TruemanCrissCross
Here’s something you don’t hear every day, unless you have the album like me. Appalachian fiddle goddess Brittany Haas meets Norwegian style fiddler and modern composer Dan Trueman. There is no music I’ve heard before that sounds quite like this, and to top it off the performers achieve that oh so important mix of stimulating both the body and the mind! This project is full of beautiful and mind bending new compositions by both Brittany and Dan. Mix in Natalie Haas on cello + guitarist Jordan Tice along with Brittany’s Crooked Still comrade Cory Di’Mario on Double Bass = a stellar line up. The tunes literally criss-cross the complimentary fiddle styles of Norway and Appalachia, developed with masterful ensemble arrangements and some demanding modern harmony.

JerildereeLachlan Bryan
Bill JacksonJerilderee
It’s actually pretty hard to write convincingly about Australia – most people end up stumbling over the awkward sounding place names, or struggling to extract poetry from our often brutal, frequently covered-up history. Bill and his brother Ross are exceptions to the rule. They write stunning songs together, and microphones just seem to love Bill’s warm, weathered voice. Jerilderie is full of great stories, and was my favourite record this year.

PrisonerEli Wolfe
The JezabelsPrisoner
Driving on tour we have been listening to The Jezabels Prisoner, which fits the landscape perfectly. Though it was released late 2011, I only bought Prisoner this year. It’s a great vibey album and Hayley is an amazing front woman.

How About I Be MeDamien Dempsey
Sinead O’ConnorHow About I Be Me (And You Be You)?
A blinding return to form by a fearless warrior woman who is my favorite female singer. Her song “Take Off Your Shoes” makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck every time I hear it, breathtaking.

Fear FunTom Busby (Busby Marou)
Father John MistyFear Fun
This album reminds me of why I love listening to music – it makes me so happy! The songs are cheeky and full of swagger, and somehow steers away from sounding arrogant. I love the production, including the small imperfections which are clearly intended. It is obvious that there were no rules when recording the record and this is probably why I can’t stop smiling each time I hear it.

Toward The Low SunAidan Cooney (Boy Outside)
Dirty ThreeToward the Low Sun
Choose your time wisely because I cried like a mother fucking bitch recently on a long haul flight listening to this album. Melancholy to get lost in and the dirtiest violin sound known to man give you an album that should be sold with a warning.

Music From Kennedy's PoolCourtney Barnett
Merri Creek PickersMusic From Kennedy’s Pool
I have seen the Merri Creek Pickers play live about 80 times. I’ve heard them rehearsing about 400 times. I adore the gentle genius of Alex Hamilton’s songwriting, the all-inclusive yet sometimes argumentative arrangement process and the fact that it was all recorded by the band themselves live at a farm in the middle of nowhere. This is a classic album that should transcend our generation.

Warm in the DarknessCat Canteri (The Stillsons)
Liz StringerWarm in the Darkness
Beautifully tasty arrangements, playing, sounds and songs across the whole album.

HereSam Buckingham
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic ZerosHere
It’s so full of joy and somehow, every time I listen, manages to remind me to stop and enjoy the simplest and most beautiful things the world has to offer, and I have to offer the world. I love the songwriting, the production is unique and brilliant but I think, more than anything, it’s the feeling of hope and beauty that sits inside every song.

El CaminoCat Colman (Billygoat and the Mongrels)
The Black KeysEl Camino
So many albums to choose from!! The Black Keys scraped in at number 1, mainly because it has such a full solid and infectious sound.

Carry Me BackJohn Flanagan (John Flanagan and the Begin Agains)
Old Crow Medicine ShowCarry Me Back
Having just traveled to the US this year for the first time I’ve fallen in love with the mountain music that is so prominent in North Carolina and Virginia. Old Crow Medicine Show clearly draw on a wide range of influences though I love the old-timey core to their music with the claw-hammer banjo and fiddle. There are a lot of references to places we recently visited: Virginia, the Shenandoah river, etc, so for many reasons the album brings back fond memories of traveling through the South.

The Lion's RoarElla Hooper
First Aid KitThe Lion’s Roar
First Aid Kit are so full of potential it hurts. I don’t think they’ve quite revealed all they will in years to come but Lions Roar boasts great lush production from Mike Mogis (a modern master) and the girls’ tight folk pop songwriting is just my kind of teenage day dream, sorry Katy Perry, but This is talent.

PackwoodJulia Johnson (Julia and the Deep Sea Sirens)
PackwoodPackwood
In all honesty, I spent much of 2012 rediscovering old favourites. I re-arranged my bedroom, which inadvertently meant it was much easier for me to use my record player. Dad’s impeccable record collection has been liberated from the garage and given a healthy airing this year. There is one 2012 release that has had a particular impact on me musically though, so that automatically catapults in to becoming my favourite release of 2012. Early in the year I supported Packwood and The Falls in Canberra, at The Front Gallery. Probably one of the loveliest gigs with some of the loveliest musicians I’ve played with all year, but I digress. I’ve never heard such an ambitious EP as Packwood’s. Simply a man, his banjo, and an orchestra. Yup, a 50 piece orchestra. With a banjo. I’ve been messing around with my banjo for a few years half-arsedly, but since hearing that EP I haven’t practiced my guitar at all. I can’t put my banjo down. So thank you Packwood, for re-invigorating my love for banjo, and sorry housemates and neighbours, I’m not going to stop playing my banjo any time soon.

Baby We Were Born to DieRosie Catalano
Jen CloherBaby We Were Born To Die
Each song on this 3-track EP is so special. “Call If You Need Me” has an incredible ability to transport me to a whole other world every time I listen to it, “Baby We Were Born To Die” leaves me awed by Jen Cloher’s way of looking at the world and the hand she has been dealt, and the lyrics in her duet with Courtney Barnett always manages to catch me by surprise and make me laugh.

Love This GiantSarah Blasko
David Byrne & St VincentLove This Giant
It’s a collaborative album that really works and feels very cohesive. The arrangements are really imaginative and it has the freshness of not sounding like anything else that’s out at the moment. The brass arrangements are fantastic. It’s a classic sounding record, it’s beautiful and rich and full.

A Creature I Don't KnowLiam Gale (Liam Gale and The Ponytails)
Laura MarlingA Creature I Don’t Know
I spent this year listening to some not-so-current music, and it seems I’ve got some catchng up to do considering the snippets of albums I’ve heard over the last twelve months. Of 2012’s offerings, Laura Marling’s A Creature I Don’t Know was one that caught my ear. It had a lilt toward that concept-album-feel, some tracks outright flowing into the next, like Floyd with banjos or something. There was this poem she’d written that came out shortly after the album was released that seemed to explore the record’s protagonist character; the Beast. It’d come up every now again, like it was teasing the other characters on the album. Trippy.

Phaux CiscoSivan (The April Maze)
VariousPhaux Cisco
It astounds me that some of the greatest songwriters of all time remain relatively unheard. James Cisco is one of them. This album was produced as a surprise gift for the songwriter and includes some great Melbourne musos doing versions of his wonderful songs. The album features versions from Jeb Cardwell, Dan Lethbridge, Jed Pickett & Kate Walker, Kate Crowley, The Shivering Timbers, Simon Hudson & Anita Quail, Adrian Whitehead and more. The songs are in chronological order of when they were written, from 1988 to 2012. Its a real genre journey and wanders through folk, rock, country, punk, soul and blues. We love it and listen to it on the road all the time.

The Great DespiserFanny Lumsden
Joe PugThe Great Despiser
To me his songs are like stories from those who don’t usually tell stories. This album feels like I’m moving forward on a monster of a drive where one has very minimal encounters with anything man made and at the same time feeling settled. Good one JPUG.

An Awesome WaveBity Booker
Alt-J (∆)An Awesome Wave
Driven by Joe Newman’s haunting melodies, vowel-curling words, heart breaking notes; each song on this album is an independent masterpiece: cohesive and scrupulous. Every track is rich in layered detail, synthesizing meticulous sounds of pianos, guitars and xylophones. “Taro” is a wonderful story and an adventure in itself. I can’t get enough of it’s obsessive melody, which reaches a haunting climax when Newman’s voice breaks in the refrain, missing the crucial note, but making it that much more important in its absence.

The Only PlaceEmma Davis
Best CoastThe Only Place
This album really just came at the perfect time. I had just returned from a long trip overseas and having had a few changes along the way I took some time out to live by the beach and write. There’s nothing really ground-breaking or creatively astounding about this record, it’s just a great record. Solid, well-constructed pop songs all the way through. It’s a more positive sounding album than the last, with cleaner production and perhaps less raw emotion but to me still has that distinct ‘Best Coast’ sound that I first fell in love with. The lyrics are beautifully simple to the point where I’m not sure sometimes how they get away with it, but they do. Overall, it simply made me feel good, and at a time when I needed it. I’ve listened to it so much that I wouldn’t be surprised if a few subconscious references to “waves” or “babes” make it into my next record.

The Money StoreMark Piccles (Tin Sparrow)
Death GripsThe Money Store
Possibly the most intense, in-your-face hip hop record I’ve ever heard, but it’s endless originality and almost tangible persona is undeniable. It’s not for everyone but if you can withstand the brutality of the initial listen, there is much to be discovered on second venture and beyond.

LonerismDean McLeod (Tin Sparrow)
Tame ImpalaLonerism
Some killer overseas albums this year but Lonerism is by far my favourite. It’s texturally amazing which is really important for me and I love Kevin’s song writing. It also expands the sound they crafted on Innerspeaker. Almost perfect psych pop. Plus after seeing them at Splendour this year I reckon they are one of the best live bands going. Conclusion: instant froth.

The Year of HibernationBen Cooper (Radical Face)
Youth LagoonThe Year of Hibernation
I’m never good at these lists. I’m almost always a year or two behind, as I tend to stop hunting new records while recording and then play catch up when I’m not. So this album was late 2011, but I was told that’s okay. Anyway, this is one of those records that feels like it was made in a bedroom and is all the better for it. It’s a record that makes me smile, and as the lyrics slowly became discernible I found I really liked them. I don’t often describe records as charming, but this one I do. And it’s good walking music. I like it a lot

Spring and FallJack Carty
Paul KellySpring And Fall
I got myself into a tis trying to choose between a bunch of amazing releases this year by First Aid Kit, The Falls, Leroy Lee, Tim Hart and Packwood (just to name a few) but when I stopped thinking too much about it and just went with my gut, I had to go with Paul Kelly’s Spring And Fall for my favourite album of 2012. I am not sure if it’s because I grew up listening to my Dad singing along to his records or just because of the beautiful, simple honesty with which he writes, but I find something about Paul Kelly’s records incredibly comforting, and Spring And Fall is among his best. Each song is a story in itself, and a paragraph in the bittersweet tale the album as a whole tells. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, just says it plain and true … Music for everyone.

Unfinished BusinessJessica Cassar and Darren Cross (Jep and Dep)
Wanda JacksonUnfinished Business
It was on our way back from our Jep and Dep tour of Germany, cheap flights with Air China, that we spent our last night in Frankfurt. With a giant stroke of luck, Wanda Jackson was performing a stones throw away from our crappy fluorescent pink hostel. After one song she blew us away. The devil’s girlfriend. Queen of Rockabilly. She is Rockabilly (no visible tattoos by the way). Her 2012 album, Unfinished Business, is mixed a saddlebag of rock, blues and country covers and originals that doesn’t try to be anything that it isn’t. It’s a fun and sassy album that pays tribute to the era the 75-year-old pint-sized, tassle wearing old school banshee reigned in. Listen to it.

SomethingEdward Deer
ChairliftSomething
For me the realm of intelligent and visceral pop music was completely owned by the ladies in 2012 (see also the exceptional recent records from Bat for Lashes, Cat Power, First Aid Kit and Sharon Van Etten, to name just a few). But the album I listened to more than any other this year was probably Chairlift’s Something. It’s full of thrilling juxtapositions – spontaneous and energetic performances meet painstaking songcraft, super hooky 80s-inspired pop melodies sit alongside bizarre sounds you’ve never heard before in your life. Caroline’s angelic, crystal clear voice is used to deliver wounded and often darkly comic lyrics, while Patrick’s bass lines are just plain killer. The band has just released some early demos from this album and those bare bones recordings reveal just how much work went into making the finished product so great.

Summer SongsJake Holmes (Merri Creek Pickers)
My Left BootSummer Songs
This is the coolest album I’ve heard in such a long time, absolute stoner heaven. “Sharks in the water” will make your hair stand on end. Roll up and just put it on.

The LumineersAchoo! Bless You
The LumineersThe Lumineers
I (Ross) heard the single “Ho Hey” in about July, and it was love at first listen. Catchy, awesome americana-folk-pop. There’s a massive scene they are championing, and they’re doing it real well.

MuseumPatrick James
Ball Park MusicMuseum
I often love albums where you can discover something new in the music every time. For me, this is one of them. I happened to catch a Ball Park Music concert at the Metro Theatre in the latter part of the year and was blown away. Since then, I keep going back to this band and especially this record, even to the point of covering one of their songs at my own live show. The songwriting is so left of field and it never fails to surprise me. Every time I listen to this album, I feel it moves me in a different way and keeps me intrigued about their music.

HypnotisedThe Twoks
Pony FaceHypnotised
Mature, fuzzy, warm and dark. The sound of three lads who know exactly how their music should sound, but (having mastered the art of subtlety) don’t shove it down your throat. Hypnotised has beautiful layers and textures. Not only does the album creep up and grow on you, but each song does. Highlights are the amazing “Alabama” (featuring the coolest laconic percussive vocal) and the spirited “Holly Said”.

Who's Feeling Young NowJane Hendry (The Tiger and Me)
Punch BrothersWho’s Feeling Young Now?
I’ve been a big fan of these guys for a few years now and this album shows just how talented they all are. I love the way they are bringing together traditional bluegrass instrumentation and techniques with songwriting that is much more indie-pop. This particular album does this probably more than their previous releases, but their complex and intricate arrangements are still there in spades, coupled with some heartbreakingly good melodies. There’s quite a bit of swagger too! Top track (changes regularly for me) – “Hundred Dollars”, where Gabe Witcher (fiddle) takes the lead vocals and swaggers all over the place.

The RubensSally Balfour
The RubensThe Rubens
Soulful, rockin’ blues; can’t get enough of The Ruben’s debut album. This album stirs something new within me each time I listen to it, especially their single “My Gun”. That track always cuts straight through to my heart. It is no wonder The Rubens are this year’s triple j Unearthed Artists of the Year.

Seven DaysAndrew Drummond
Emmy BryceSeven Days
The songs are fun and catchy and full of 90s pop influenced goodness! The EP also showed what an artist (and team) with drive and vision can achieve in a short period of time, with numerous TV show appearances (both live and soundtrack) and a national tour. Seven Days by Emmy Bryce inspired me to keep dreaming.

Ashes & FireStu Larsen
Ryan AdamsAshes & Fire
I know it was released pretty late in 2011, but all year long I just always went back to it. A classic easy listening album. I love the simplicity, I love the instrumentation and I love the way Ryan Adams’ imagery takes me some place else. My favourite track off this album at the moment is the opener, “Dirty Rain”.

Warm in the DarknessLeah Flanagan
Liz StringerWarm in the Darkness
Liz is one of my favourite Australian songwriters. The quality of musicianship and songwriting on Warm in the Darkness is incredible and it’s nice to hear her rocking out with full band and horn section. There are moments when listening to this record that I suddenly get goosebumps. They remind me of how truly beautiful her voice is. Buy it. Favourite songs are “High Open Hills” and “Warm in the Darkness”.

Slay Me In My SleepPiers Twomey
Grand SalvoSlay Me In My Sleep
The paradox about Paddy Mann – aka Melbourne’s Grand Salvo – is how he’s both adored and celebrated while also being overlooked and unsung. His critically acclaimed albums come across (to me) like profound, melodically gorgeous, yet slightly awkward museum folk songs: pure and emotionally charged vignettes from another era. Enough has been written about 2012’s Slay Me In My Sleep being one of his very best. I’ll just add that the record’s “The Boy’s Story Of His Faithful Family Dog” reduces me to tears. If you’ve ever loved and lost a family dog – and if you let it – the song may evoke the same consequence in you.

Over The SunCountry Town Collective
Tinpan OrangeOver the Sun
We love Tinpan Orange’s new album. It’s quirky, unexpected and eerily beautiful. A bit like Portishead but more organic sounding, it could be the soundtrack to an old movie, a bit James Bond theme even? It’s definitely got some magic to it.

Swing Low MagellanSteven Barnard (Arbori)
Dirty ProjectorsSwing Lo Magellan
I was surprised and satisfied by the peculiar and purposed brilliance of this record. It satisfies so many corners of my affection as it effortlessly showcased a band that are so deliberate and intentional. From the intricate electronic sounds scapes, to the biting crunch of guitar riffs, to the sweet and often bitter harmonics, dull acoustic tones, manic riffs, intimacy, mania … Lyrically prophetic both socially and emotionally and musically nostalgic yet completely original. I listened to it over and over as it continued to claimed my satisfaction.

Odd SoulPaul Brown (Arbori)
MutemathOdd Soul
This album came as a bit of a surprise to me. Mutemath have been a favourite band of mine for a while and they always do something different with each album, yet manage to create a sound uniquely theirs. Odd Soul is a masterpiece of musicianship which in my mind brings together the Mutemath feel to a very 60s soul and psychedelic sound. It is a fresh sound (albeit retro) in a market saturated in same sounding music! Fav tracks: “Cavalries” and “One More”.

RedJames Hutchinson (Arbori)
Taylor SwiftRed
We’re forgetting the biggest album of the year, the one that defines this generation and will go down in the annals of history as a watermark in the second decade of this century – Taylor Swift’s Red. It is my emotional comfort when I’m home crying myself to sleep over a lost boyfriend at night and the musical incentive to get me through the day.

Born and RaisedSibylla Stephen (The Little Stevies)
John MayerBorn and Raised
First let me say, I haven’t heard many new albums this year as I gave birth to my son in June. And like many first time mums I’ve just been tumbling my way through his first year trying to keep my head above water. It sure has been fun though, and one new album that we have sung, danced and gone to sleep to is the new John Mayer, Born and Raised. I know it’s cheesy, and it’s not all that “cool” to admit it, but I’m a big fan of his. I’ve always loved his lyrics, he had me at “I’ll never let your head hit the bed without my hand behind it” … Swoon … And on this new album he’s done it again. It’s full of songs I can’t stop humming and lyrics I wish I’d come up with. And he seems to have taken a little turn towards a more alt-country sound in some songs which I love. But all-in-all its just a great pop record, my favourite. Don’t judge me!!!

Young NorthZoe Elliot
The Paper KitesYoung North
The Young North EP has managed to stay true to the Paper Kites sound while still feeling fresh. My two favourite songs are “Leopold Street” due to the romantic nostalgia I hold onto of my grandparents, and “Paint” as its beautiful simplicity brought me to tears when I first turned it on sitting alone in my car – it takes a strong lyric to break me.

Goat Rodeo SessionsBayden Hine (Packwood)
Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer and Chris ThileGoat Rodeo Sessions
Of all the albums that I heard over the course of 2012, the one that really stood out for me was Goat Rodeo Sessions – a collaborative album put together by Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer and one of my musical heroes Chris Thile. I first heard the album by way of a buddy, who told me I “had to listen to this”. Naturally I didn’t, until several months later whilst sitting in a car listening to The Punch Brothers’ latest album – at which point I remembered. The album’s title refers to a chaotic ruckus of sorts, a big ol’ mess that somehow just … works out in the end – exactly what this album is. I absolutely adore blended genres – especially blends of classical/folk/bluegrass – and so this album has been on high-rotation ever since! The stand out track for me is “Attaboy”, but if you can’t stand instrumentals and harmonies are your thing – “Here and Heaven” is sure to please.

TempestNigel Wearne
Bob DylanTempest
Yes, I’m another songwriter who’s a Bob Dylan fan but I had to choose this album because he’s still got it in spades. It’s more of a poetry reading these days but his phrasing is as good as it’s ever been. It’s pretty hard to beat a nasty 8 minute murder ballad and a beautiful 15 minute epic about the Titanic sinking. The man still has something to say!

The Rip TideJesse Lubitz (TinPan Orange)
BeirutThe Rip Tide
I started my year off with a live Beirut show in early 2012 and it’s stayed with me as one of the best shows I’ve seen all year. The songs on The Rip Tide seem effortless and the album flows as an album should flow. I love the quirky instrumentation and clever arrangements – it’s an album from a band who don’t sound like they are trying to sound like anything other than themselves.

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