The Spectrum Now ANZ Blue Stage Series Announces Artists

Lissa
Image Courtesy of Lissa

The Spectrum Now festival hits Sydney from this week showcasing some amazing music, art and culture for the next couple of weeks. Along with big name acts like Calexico and Missy Higgins, Spectrum Now will also showcase a bunch of unsigned artists.

The ANZ Blue Stage Series will take place through out Spectrum Now showcasing 24 of NSW’s most outstanding unsigned artists performing in Pitt St Mall and Martin Place. These artists will be performing for a panel of judges for the chance to win $15,000 and a spot on the Spectrum Now closing concert at The Domain.

The amazing artists being showcased on The ANZ Blue Stage Series include Borneo, Lissa (above), Dog the Duke, James Englund, Rachel Fahim, Ainsley Farrell, Ella Freestone, Ginger & Drum, Adam Harpaz, Martin Hulbert, I Am Apollo, The Khanz, Christie Lamb, Jaime Lindsay, Mabel, Nova and the Experience, Jarryn Pheagan, Aimee Lou, Planet, Lane Sinclair (Say My Name Band), Sabrina Soares, Tenderfoot, Ed Wells and Dylan Wright.

ANZ will be announcing the lineup each day via their Facebook page – although a lot of the artists are already promoting their spots via their own social media pages. For more information on The ANZ Blue Stage Series check out the official Spectrum Now site here.

Thank Folk It’s Friday – 15th January

TFIF

This Week in Folk

All the News From The Week That Was

– Sydney singer-songwriter Lissa released her first new music in ages, the single “Run”. Details here

– New Sydney chamber-folk project OM Collective released their cover of Taylor Swift’s “I Knew You Were Trouble”. Details here

Catherine Traicos released her new video “Stolen Wings”. Details here

– Central Coast based band Elwood Myre have announced a full band tour. Details here

– The Cobargo Folk Festival announced its 2016 lineup including The Rambling Boys, The East Pointers, Beth Patterson,Nicola Hayes & Hélène Brunet, Kirsty Bromley, Alistair Brown, Vin Garbutt, Truckstop Honeymoon, Trouble in the Kitchen, Fred Smith & Liz Frenchman, The Backsliders, Daniel Champagne, Danny Spooner, Old Empire Band and many, many more. Details here

– Newcastle duo The Wayward Henrys released their new single “Early Grave”. Details here

– The final artists have been added to the WOMADelaide lineup including De La Soul, Asha Bhosle, Ainslie Wills, Ajak Kwai, Alpine, Apy Choir, Eska, Marcellus Pittman, Sarah Blasko, 숨[su:m] and Tek Tek Ensemble. Details here

– The Top Half Folk Festival have announced their 2016 headliners including Kate Burke and Ruth Hazleton, Bill Jackson and Sonsy. Details here

Reviews

Gigs

“Upon arrival, the utter beauty of the organisation struck us plain and simple – from excellent signage on the roads leading to the venue, through to the process of getting in to the festival, it was all sweet and no fuss. We had wondered how a 3 day festival, that is usually a build up to the penultimate celebration on New Years Eve, would fare when the night in question was in fact the first night of the 3 day affair. It seems that for Byron Bay, the crowd for New Years was good, but instead the numbers grew significantly for the 1st and 2nd January days”KT Bell gives us an overview of this year’s Falls Festival in Byron Bay. Review here

“Over in Lola’s Bar, on New Years Eve, we stumbled upon a likely scene of rag-tag musicians and a tent full of eager punters. It was 2pm but the Button Collective soon had the dance floor packed with joyful revelry. Appearing as a 6-piece line up each day of the Byron stint, the sheer energy and cheer emanating from the stage was infectious”KT Bell chronicles her highlights of this year’s Falls Festival in Byron Bay. Review here

“I feel like I have waited my entire adult life to see a collaboration like Paul Kelly presents The Merri Soul Sessions. On the first day of the new year, I lined myself up in the perfect spot to soak up their entire Valley Stage show. From the get go, it was clear this is a slick set of friends who can bounce off each other and share the stage equally. A cool, soulful beat introduced the ladies and gents to the stage, Vika and Linda Bull, Clairy Browne, Kira Puru and Dan Sultan! The Bull sisters took the reigns with their contributions What You Want and Smells Like Rain that held the crowd captivated. I’ve never seen Dan Sultan as a backup singer but he took to the role well and provided his beautiful timbre to the depths of the harmonies”KT Bell reviews the unmissable acts at this year’s Falls Festival in Byron Bay. Review here

“I think my favourite find for the whole of Festival has to be Oh Wonder, a London-based duo who were performing in Australia for the first time thanks to the Falls Festival. You’ve got to love a band who brings their own stage backdrop, a 2-metre-tall set of light up initials for their band name… which read ‘OW’, It’s probably an appropriate sentiment for the level of hangovers, hair of the dog’s and sunburns that were evident post NYE celebrations”KT Bell recounts the artists she discovered at this year’s Falls Festival in Byron Bay. Review here

“A very special moment was when Out of Abingdon joined Honey on stage for a set including the beautiful rendition of “Blue” by Vince Jones sung by Elizabeth Walton and a haunting stirring version of “Amazing Grace” with Tina from Out of Abingdon’s arced bass. An audience member Craig from Mudgee remarked it was the most moving part of the whole event” – we review Mudgee Music Festival’s Mudsling event. Review here

Timber and Steel Recommends – Go To This Gig

Deep Down South feat. Lachlan Bryan, Les Thomas, Mr Alford Country, Jemma Nicole, Andrew Swift, Brooke Russell, Tom Dockray, Gretta Ziller

Deep Down South

The best of the Melbourne alt-country scene meander their way up the east coast before arriving in Tamworth for the Tamworth Country Music Festival

Friday 15th January – Hotel Nicholas, Beechworth, VIC
Saturday 16th January – Encore, Wollongong, NSW
Tuesday 19th January – The Family Hotel, Tamworth, NSW
Wednesday 20th January – The Tudor, Tamworth, NSW
Thursday 21st January – Dag Sheep Station, Tamworth, NSW

Gigs Next Week

Allison Forbes
Friday 15th January – Tudor Hotel, Tamworth, NSW
Friday 15th January – Imperial Hotel, Tamworth, NSW
Saturday 16th January – Tudor Hotel, Tamworth, NSW
Sunday 17th January – Albert Hotel, Tamworth, NSW
Sunday 17th January – Toyota Star Maker Final, Town Hall, Tamworth, NSW
Monday 18th January – The Pub, Tamworth, NSW
Monday 18th January – The Albert Hotel, Tamworth, NSW
Tuesday 19th January – Longyard Hotel, Tamworth, NSW
Thursday 21st January – Tudor Hotel, Tamworth, NSW
Thursday 21st January – Southgate Hotel, Tamworth, NSW
Friday 22nd January – Tudor Hotel, Tamworth, NSW
Friday 22nd January – The Pub, Tamworth, NSW

Andrew Swift
Sunday 17th January – Tudor Hotel, Tamworth, NSW
Monday 18th January – Tudor Hotel, Tamworth, NSW
Tuesday 19th January – Post Office Hotel, Tamworth, NSW
Tuesday 19th January – Family Hotel, Tamworth, NSW
Wednesday 20th January – Albert Hotel, Tamworth, NSW
Wednesday 20th January – Tudor Hotel, Tamworth, NSW
Thursday 21st January – Dag Sheep Station, Tamworth, NSW
Thursday 21st January – Tudor Hotel, Tamworth, NSW
Friday 22nd January – Hogs Breath Stage, Tamworth, NSW

Beth Patterson
Tuesday 12th to Sunday 17th January – Ilawarra Folk Festival, Bulli, NSW
Friday 22nd to Sunday 24th January – Newstead Live Folk Festival, Newstead, VIC

Bluegrass @ Balls Head
Wednesday 20th January – Balls Head Reserve, Sydney, NSW

Boy & Bear
Friday 22nd January – Odeon Theatre, Hobart, TAS

Cake & Cordial Sessions ft. Paddy McHugh, Megan Cooper, Gretta Ziller, Andy Golledge, Brad Butcher
Friday 22nd January – St Paul’s Anglican Church, Tamworth, NSW

Dana Hassall
Friday 15th January – Tudor Hotel, Tamworth, NSW
Saturday 16th January – Tudor Hotel, Tamworth, NSW
Sunday 17th January – Tudor Hotel, Tamworth, NSW
Sunday 17th January – Country Turns Pink, Blazes @ Wests, Tamworth, NSW
Monday 18th January – City Plaza, Tamworth, NSW
Monday 18th January – Songhouse Sessions, Tamworth Services Club, Tamworth, NSW
Wednesday 20th January – This One’s For The Girls, South Tamworth Bowls Club, Tamworth, NSW
Thursday 21st January – Writer’s in the Round, Tamworth Services Club, Tamworth, NSW
Thursday 21st January – Late Night Alt, Tudor Hotel, Tamworth, NSW
Friday 22nd January – City Plaza, Tamworth, NSW
Friday 22nd January – FanZone, Tamworth, NSW
Friday 22nd January – The Songwriters Round, Capitol Theatre, Tamworth, NSW

Deep Down South feat. Lachlan Bryan, Les Thomas, Mr Alford Country, Jemma Nicole, Andrew Swift, Brooke Russell, Tom Dockray, Gretta Ziller
Friday 15th January – Hotel Nicholas, Beechworth, VIC
Saturday 16th January – Encore, Wollongong, NSW
Tuesday 19th January – The Family Hotel, Tamworth, NSW
Wednesday 20th January – The Tudor, Tamworth, NSW
Thursday 21st January – Dag Sheep Station, Tamworth, NSW

Dirty Three
Friday 15th January – State Theatre, Sydney, NSW

Eagle & The Wolf
Wednesday 20th January – House Concert, Tamworth, NSW
Thursday 21st January – The Pub, Tamworth, NSW
Thursday 21st January – The Pub, Tamworth, NSW
Friday 22nd January – The Longyard, Tamworth, NSW

Elwood Myre
Sunday 17th January – Union Hotel, Sydney, NSW

Fanny Lumsden
Monday 18th January – Frog and Toad, Tamworth, NSW
Monday 18th January – Fanzone Stage, Peel St, Tamworth, NSW
Tuesday 19th January – The Family Hotel, Tamworth, NSW
Tuesday 19th January – Frog and Toad, Tamworth, NSW
Wednesday 20th January – Late Night Alt at the Tudor Hotel, Tamworth, NSW
Thursday 21st January – Blazes Showroom at Wests, Tamworth, NSW
Friday 22nd January – Capitol Theatre, The Songwriters Round, Tamworth, NSW
Friday 22nd January – Longyard Deck, Tamworth, NSW

FolkSwagon feat. Mystery Guest Headliner, Elliot Maginot, The Campervan Dancers
Wednesday 20th January – Cafe Lounge, Sydney, NSW

Illawarra Folk Festival
Thursday 14th to Sunday 17th January – Bulli, NSW

Imogen Clark
Sunday 17th January – Tudor Front Bar, Tamworth, NSW
Monday 18th January – Songhouse Sessions @ Tamworth Services Club, Tamworth, NSW
Thursday 21st January – Capitol Theatre, Tamworth, NSW
Thursday 21st January – Americana in the Park, Tamworth, NSW
Thursday 21st January – The Pub, Tamworth, NSW
Friday 22nd January – Tudor Upstairs, Tamworth, NSW

Irish Mythen
Thursday 14th to Sunday 17th January – The Illawarra Folk Festival, Bulli, NSW
Wednesday 20th January – The Brass Monkey, Cronulla, NSW
Thursday 21st January – Lizotte’s, Newcastle, NSW
Friday 22nd January – The Django Bar, Marrickville, NSW

Joanna Newsom
Thursday 21st January – Sydney Opera House, Sydney, NSW

John Butler Trio
Friday 22nd January – Belvoir Amphitheatre, Upper Swan, WA

Julia Jacklin
Monday 18th January – Brighton Up Bar, Sydney, NSW
Tuesday 19th January – Old Bar, Melbourne, VIC

Kev Carmody
Sunday 17th January – The Famous Spiegeltent, Sydney, NSW

Lachlan Bryan & The Wildes
Friday 22nd January – The Tamworth, Tamworth, NSW

Late Night Library: Library Folk feat. Alex Guthrie, Taryn La Fauci
Wednesday 20th January – Hyde Park North, Sydney, NSW

Liam Gale & the Ponytails w/ Direwolf
Thursday 21st January – The Union Hotel, Sydney, NSW

Matthew E White
Friday 15th January – Magic Mirrors Spiegeltent, Sydney, NSW
Saturday 16th January – Lennox Theatre, Parramatta, NSW

Megan Cooper
Saturday 16th January – Tudor Hotel, Tamworth, NSW
Tuesday 19th January – TSA Awards Show, Longyard Hotel, Tamworth, NSW
Wednesday 20th January – Richo’s Roundup, Dag Sheep Station, Tamworth, NSW
Friday 22nd January – Cake & Cordial Sessions, St Paul’s Anglican Church Hall, Tamworth, NSW

Melody Feder
Sunday 17th January – South Tamworth Bowling Club, Tamworth, NSW
Sunday 17th January – Cafe Retro, Tamworth, NSW
Sunday 17th January – Country Turns Pink, Blazes @ Wests, Tamworth, NSW
Wednesday 20th January – Pig & Tinder, Tamworth, NSW

Newstead Live! Music Festival
Friday 22nd to Monday 25th January – Castlemaine, VIC

Numeralla Folk Festival
Friday 22nd to Monday 25th January – Numeralla, NSW

One Up, Two Down
Tuesday 19th to Saturday 23rd January – Andrew Clemont’s Supper Club, Tamworth, NSW

Out of Abingdon
Thursday 14th to Sunday 17th January – Illawarra Folk Festival, Bulli, NSW

Peasant Moon, Ben Horder, Matt Ward
Friday 15th January – The Gasoline Pony, Sydney, NSW

Ryley Walker
Friday 22nd January – The Famous Spiegeltent, Sydney, NSW

Sir Richard Bishop and Daniel Bachman
Sunday 17th January – St Stephen’s Uniting Church, Sydney, NSW

Songhouse Sessions feat. Luke O’Shea, Felicity Urquhart, Darren Coggan, Michael Bryers, Katie Brianna
Tuesday 17th January – Tamworth Services Club, Tamworth, NSW

Tamar Valley Folk Festival
Friday 15th to Sunday 17th January – Georgetown, TAS

Tamworth Country Music Festival
Saturday 15th to Sunday 24th January – Tamworth, NSW

The Beards
Wednesday 20th January – West Tamworth Leagues, Tamworth Country Music Festival, NSW

The Button Collective
Friday 15th to Sunday 17th January – Illawarra Folk Festival, Bulli, NSW
Friday 22nd January – Smiths Alternative, Canberra, ACT

The East Pointers
Friday 15th to Sunday 17th January – Illawarra Folk Festival, NSW
Monday 18th January – Bagdad Community Hall, TAS
Tuesday 19th January – Sulphur Creek Hall, TAS
Wednesday 20th January – Wynard Wharf Hotel Theatre, TAS
Thursday 21st January – Longford Town Hall, TAS
Friday 22nd January – Chudleigh Community Hall, TAS

The Franklin Electric
Friday 15th January – Oxford Art Factory, Sydney, NSW
Saturday 16th January – Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle, NSW
Tuesday 19th January – Fly By Night, Fremantle, WA
Wednesday 20th January – Indi Bar, Fremantle, WA
Thursday 21st January – The Rosemount, Perth, WA
Friday 22nd January – The Fat Controller, Adelaide, SA

The Plough
Sunday 17th January – The Coach and Horses, Sydney, NSW

The Wayward Henrys
Friday 15th January – Tudor Hotel, Tamworth, NSW
Sunday 17th January – The Pub, Tamworth, NSW
Sunday 17th January – FanZone, Tamworth, NSW
Monday 18th January – Dag Sheep Station, Tamworth, NSW
Wednesday 20th January – Post Office Hotel, Tamworth, NSW
Thursday 21st January – Courthouse Hotel, Tamworth, NSW
Thursday 21st January – Cafe Retro, Tamworth, NSW
Friday 22nd January – Hogs Breath Cafe, Tamworth, NSW
Friday 22nd January – Tudor Hotel, Tamworth, NSW

Thredbo Blues Festival
Friday 15th to Sunday 17th January – Thredbo, NSW

Friday Folk Flashback

“3 Slip Jigs” – Planxty

Watch the New Lissa Video “Run”

Lissa
Image Courtesy of Lissa

Sydney singer-songwriter Lissa has been keeping a pretty low profile over the past couple of years after releasing a series of EPs between 2010 and 2012. But it looks like we’re going to be hearing a little more from Lissa in the coming months with news that she’ll be releasing a brand new EP, Tahloumbi, soon.

The first track to emerge from Tahloumbi is “Run”, which has a beautiful live video shot by Nicole Robinson. Check it out below:

Little Features Announces August Lineup

Mimi Gilbert
Image Courtesy of Mimi Gilbert

If you live in Sydney and you’ve yet to get down to a Little Features show you need to stop what you’re doing right now, walk over to your calendar and mark a huge X on Saturday 30th August. Done? Good.

Because Little Features really is one of the most special monthly nights in Sydney and everyone should go to it at least once. This month Little Features will play host to New Zealand/Australia based, Americana born singer-songwriter Mimi Gilbert, local songstress Lissa, up and coming troubadour Brendon Moon, live visual artist Sarah Dahl and poet James Griffin.

As always Little Features will take place at Hibernian House in Sydney’s Surry Hills. The music and art will kick off at 7pm with tickets just $12 on the door (and it’s BYO so you’ll save money on food and drink as well! For more information check out the official Facebook event here.



Artists For Sydney’s Folk Club This Wednesday 6th June

Patrick James
Image Courtesy of Patrick James

The best thing about Sydney’s Folk Club announcing their lineup a week at a time is that we get to be surprised and excited every time. And this week is no different with Folk Club playing host to some of Timber and Steel’s favourite local artists.

Headlining this week is the one and only Patrick James (above) who will also be the night’s interview subject – if you’ve ever been to Folk Club you’ll know that the beautiful Emma Swift (from FBi Radio’s In The Pines) hosts the night and discusses the delicate art of songwriting with the night’s feature artist. Joining Patrick James with be regulars The Falls and the excellent Lissa.

Folk Club takes place in The Gallery Bar at the Oxford Art Factory and is free (although monetary tips for the artists are welcome). Doors open at 7:30pm – Check out the Facebook event for more details.

Folk Club Artists for May

Patrick James
Image Courtesy of Patrick James

And so we continue our trend this week of daily news related to The Falls. This time around the duo have announced the artists for the first three weeks of May’s Folk Club at Sydney’s Hotel Hollywood. Folk Club takes place every Wednesday night and features music from The Falls and their friends as well as an interview with the feature artist on their songwriting process and a video of the night which is uploaded to the world wide webs (check out previous vids here).

May’s artists so far include Patrick James (above), Lissa, Evan & the Brave, Griffith Goat Boy, Lily So & Co. and Boy Outside. The music starts at 8pm each week with full details on the Folk Club facebook page.

The current lineup for May (with more to be announced soon) is below:

Wed 2nd May – Patrick James + The Falls + Lissa
Wed 9th May – Evan & the Brave + Griffith Goat Boy + Lily So & Co.
Wed 16th May – Boy Outside + The Falls

New Single From Lissa “Dreams of You and I”

Lissa
Image Courtesy of Lissa

We’ve been quietly following Sydney singer-songwriter Lissa’s career for some time now and have always been pretty impressed with her wonderfully sweet folk music. But when her latest single “Dreams of You and I” dropped in our inbox we were literally blown away by just how good it is.

“Dreams of You and I” is taken from Lissa’s brand new EP Small Steps – Part Three and features guest vocals by the equally talented Patrick James. Listen to it below and see exactly why we’ve fallen in love with this song:

Lissa will be launching Small Steps – Part Three at The Basement in Sydney on the 1st March where she is supporting Mark Wilkinson. Check out more details here.

Timber and Steel’s Artists’ Top Albums of 2011

Records

Every music blog, website and magazine (including us) spend their December frantically trying to distill the year into a “best of list” that is ultimately redundant given the subjectiveness of the artform. But we still do it because a) people read these publications because they trust the writers’ taste and b) everyone likes a list (usually so they can disagree with them).

But we realised that very rarely does anyone ever ask the artists – the very people who are making the music – who they’ve been listening to throughout the year. So we thought we’d buck the trend and asked a bunch of the bands and solo artists we’ve been following this year for their favourite album or EP of 2011.

The most common response was “do I have to pick just one?” or “just publish this before I change my mind!”. Despite the countless sleepless nights the artists no doubt spent agonising over their decisions we think we’ve managed to amass a pretty eclectic list from a group of people we absolutely admire. A big thank you has to go to all the artists who took the time out to contribute (as well as the patience of the various press contacts we pestered) – I think you’ll agree that this is a hell of a list from the national (and international) Timber and Steel alumni.

So without further ado we give our artist albums of the year:

Wild Beasts SmotherEmmy The Great
Wild BeastsSmother
One of the biggest growers in my record collection. Took me three listens to understand it, and all of a sudden I was in love. Truly, madly, deeply wonderful. Sexy. I bought it twice. And yes, I own it on vinyl, and yes, it sounds amazing

Laura Jean A Fool Who'llJen Cloher
Laura JeanA Fool Who’ll
LJ is a great lyricist, musician and singer but what I love about her most is that she doesn’t sound like anyone else. In fact the whole album has its own identity, which is as rare as hens teeth these days. It’s a folk rock album where Laura trades in her acoustic for a Gibson electric but the band (Jen Sholakis & Biddy Connor) have their own thing going on too. Alongside Gareth Liddiard (The Drones) Laura Jean is an uncompromising artist, whether you listen to her or not, she’ll keep making some of the best albums in Australia.

Penny Larkins and Carl Pannuzzo The CradleFred Smith
Penny Larkins and Carl PannuzzoThe Cradle
I liked this album and not just ’cause they cover one of my songs, but also for its stripped back and interesting arrangements and tender delivery of a considered collection of songs.

The Middle East  I Want That You Are Always HappyTim Hart (Boy & Bear)
The Middle EastI Want That You Are Always Happy
Beautiful production and songwriting. A very inspiring record and a real shame that they finished up just as they were getting started.

Lanie Lane To The HorsesNikki Thorburn (ILUKA)
Lanie LaneTo The Horses
Channeling early rock ‘n’ roll, blues, and rockabilly To The Horses is one record that I found myself listening to over and over and still enjoying each time. Such catchy tunes and something refreshingly different. And oh what a voice has miss Lanie!!

The Perch Creek Family Jug Band - Tall TalesJordie Lane
The Perch Creek Family Jug BandTall Tales
A beautiful example of great bluegrass and ol’ time standards coming from this quirky Australian ‘real’ family band. With the Hodgkins kids of all different ages sharing the singing duties and some of the best players guesting. Listen out for the secret track – its a cracker!

Noah and the Whale Last Night on EarthPearl Button (Ruby for Lucy)
Noah and the WhaleLast Night on Earth
This album makes me want to write joyful songs – songs that put a spring in your step. And Charlie’s storytelling is at its best here, I think. Plus, I love a concept album. And this one was released at a time when I needed to hear that starting again is both brave and beautiful. Last Night on Earth is full of wonder. It makes me happy.

Husky Forever SoMatt Amery (Tin Sparrow):
It is a toss up between HUSKYForever So and The Middle EastI Want That You Are Always Happy.
I think that both of these are amazing albums. They are both so organic and meticulously crafted. I see these albums as one long song or journey rather than a compilation of their songs as they flow seamlessly from one song to the other. That being said i still have favourites songs from both albums but they frequently change, which I think is another sign of a great album!

Real Estate DaysMark Piccles (Tin Sparrow)
Real EstateDays
Can’t stop listening to it. Their first album was great but this is for me the most solid, straight up pop record of the year. Some of the simplest songs you will hear all 2011, and some of the best.

Alexander AlexanderFanny Lumsden
Alexander EbertAlexander
This album makes me feel like I am sitting in the sunshine eating figs straight from a fig tree … which incidentally was what I was doing the first time I listened to this album.

Build a Rocket Boys ElbowRobin Geradts-Gill (The Little Stevies)
ElbowBuild a Rocket Boys!
Not surprising that it’s a great album, as the Manc lads have outdone themselves with every release to do date. But what’s so surprising is how stripped back, ambient and almost hypnotic the album is, with stripped back song structures that play on simple riffs and melody cycles. Yet at the end of a listen, you’re left as fulfilled as can be – it feels so much bigger than it sounds.

Eddie VedderNardi Simpson (Stiff Gins)
Eddie VedderUkulele Songs
When my sister told me Eddie Vedder did a cd of ukulele songs I thought she’d got her wires crossed or lost her marbles or something…Eddie Vedder, THE Eddie Vedder, a uke? I listened to his music, that gravelly, stony, sandpaper smooth delivery, floating over that dreamy, creamy ukulele and remembered why I got into music in the first place, not only to sing, but to find ways to be different, to challenge myself and to have fun. Eddie Vedder reminded me how to have fun with sound again, how to be playful and exposed and brave all at the same time. I had got a uke earlier in the year for my birthday but the real present was from Vedder

Manchester Orchestra Simple MathShane Graham (Holland)
Manchester OrchestraSimple Math
This was a highly anticipated record for me. After their second album Mean Everything to Nothing I was curious as to the progression … It was the perfect blend of cinematic beauty and rootsy, raw down to earth rock songs

The Middle East  I Want That You Are Always HappyJordan Wilson (Georgia Fair)
The Middle EastI Want That You Are Always Happy
Some of the most beautiful and classic songs I’ve heard from a young band. “The Land of the Bloody Unknown” hit me straight away.

Beirut The Rip TideBrianne Curran (Takadimi)
BeirutThe Rip Tide
Enjoying the fresh new sounds and composition ideas that are present on Beirut’s new album The Rip Tide. Being a Beirut fan ever since a friend at uni put me onto them, I was keen to see what they would come up with next after listening to their previous albums way too many times!

The Harrow and the HarvestPete Uhlenbruch (Owls of the Swamp)
Gillian WelchThe Harrow & The Harvest
There’s something frustratingly undefinable about this album that grabs me from the very first note. The synergy between Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings is sublime on these recordings, crystallized as a marriage of yin-yang acoustic guitars and a celestial cascade of vocal harmonies. I love the sense of space and minimal arrangements, which give room for the hypnotizing melodies and lyrics to soar before sinking deep into your skin.

The King of LimbsDaniel Lee Kendall
RadioheadThe King of Limbs
I actually haven’t listened to that many new albums this year, I’ve been listening more to older stuff. But of what I have listened to, I quite liked King of Limbs. I really enjoyed the landscapes they created in this. Also that video where Thom is just dancing the whole time is brilliant. I want to dance in that room in slow-mo.

Noah and the Whale Last Night on EarthHelen Croome (Gossling)
Noah and the WhaleLast Night on Earth
It’s got a great mix of slower tracks that you can happily let wash over you, as well as the joyous up-beat songs like “L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N” that can instantly pick up your mood. The arrangements and production are crazily addictive.

Ben Salter The CatThomas Busby (Busby Marou)
Ben SalterThe Cat
This is an intelligent, passionate and more importantly, a complete Album. It is one of the very few records that I have to listen to from beginning to end – no track skipping forward or back. The songwriting is just like Salter’s live show – fearless, melodic and real. I can’t stop listening to this Album and I don’t think I will ever get tired of it!

The Middle East  I Want That You Are Always HappyStu Larsen
The Middle EastI Want That You Are Always Happy
For the first 3 weeks I listened to the entire album every night before I slept. It’s still one I go back to constantly. Beautiful songs beautifully recorded, a real journey album for me. I’m sad that these guys are no longer a band, but I’m happy they’ve left us with some amazing music.

Bon Iver Bon IverLissa
Bon IverBon Iver
My favourite album of the year has been Bon Iver’s self-titled album. As soon as I put it on for the first time, my eyes closed and I knew I was in for an absolute treat. This second album has much greater depth and breadth with a myriad of sounds and instruments, yet still maintains that expanse and space that I love floating around in. Vernon’s melodies and lyrics are beautiful, intriguing, captivating as always. Each track being a place name merely reinforces that you have to journey through this album as a whole. When I arrive home after a hectic day, this album is the perfect antidote.

Seeker Lover KeeperRoss James Tipper and Ash Steel (Achoo! Bless You)
Seeker Lover KeeperSeeker Lover Keeper
We can both remember quite clearly the day we first found out about the formation of the ultimate Australian folk female super group, Seeker Lover Keeper. It was as though things in the world had just become ‘right’ again. Holly Throsby, Sarah Blasko and Sally Seltman, what an absolutely perfect combination of delicate, sultry voices and sheer brilliant, sensitive songwriting talent! The sudden formation of this group had Ross secretly wishing he was a woman so he could leave Achoo! Bless You and make the Seeker, Lover, Keeper trio a quartet. What we love most about this album is the way the girls wrote the songs for each other’s voices, not their own, as per their solo material. The stand out track of the record is definitely Sally Seltman’s ‘Even Though I’m a Woman’, but it is Holly’s raw, emotive lead vocal that really brings this song into its own. And Aden Young’s performance in the accompanying video clip to this song is spot on (that little head turn at 0:11 melts Ash’s heart every time). One would expect nothing less that this brilliant, thoughtful album from three of Australia’s best singer-songwriters.

Penny Larkins and Carl Pannuzzo The CradleLiz Frencham
Penny Larkins and Carl PannuzzoThe Cradle
I love Carl & Penny’s new album The Cradle. Such a complete experience – a piece of their lives captured in a bottle for us to share. Carl’s voice is like an ecstatic angel and blends with Penny’s so beautifully. But I’m torn. I am also really loving Lucie Thorne’s new album Bonfires in Silver City. Her voice just takes me somewhere beautiful and her songs never disappoint. Either way, Aussie indie’s all the way!

Wits EndJack Carty
Cass McCombsWit’s End
I accidentally saw Cass play whilst overseas in 2010 (I was at the show to see Lightspeed Champion who was supporting) and he blew me away. He seems to have a real enigmatic swagger (or is it an aloofness?) that allows him to deliver every single line with conviction, feeling and weight, but without sounding to sorry for himself. I still have trouble finding others that know about his music here in Australia though. This album came out in April and is beautifully and subtly put together. He uses space beautifully to create a kind of edgy longing and loneliness that lasts the whole record long in a way that comes across as both strangely creepy and strikingly beautiful. Occasional interjections by woodwind instrumentations such as bass clarinet or chalumeau help add texture sparingly and effectively and his lyrical turn of phrase is dense, melancholic and thoughtful, firmly remaining so on consecutive listens. This is no doubt a sad record, but a very very beautiful one. This guy is the real deal.

Ashes and FireCorey DiMario (Crooked Still)
Ryan AdamsAshes & Fire
I love the stripped down production of this album. It is edgy enough to be compelling but not so volatile to make it unlistenable or uncomfortable. The songwriting is sweet and low key and as always his singing is fantastic. There’s also great playing from his backup band that includes Norah Jones and Benmont Tench on keyboards.

Helplessness BluesSteven Barnard (arbori:)
Fleet FoxesHelplessness Blues
It’s not often you press play on a new record and the opening line echoes your exact thoughts from earlier that week. To then find this existential empathy throughout the record is what makes Helplessness Blues my favourite of the year. Musically it took a while to sink in my skin. I found myself returning to it several times through the year as it’s resonance and relevance for me became more evident. I imagine it’s the kinda music monks would be making: deeply existential and harmonic – “monk rock”.

100 Acres of SycamoreFaith Lee
Fionn Regan100 Acres of Sycamore
If you’re a fan of Fionn’s earlier albums, you may really struggle to get into this one … I know I did. Lyrically it kills me (in the best way) and even though I was expecting a full blown folk album, what I now know as Fionn Regan is a sound that some may say is even better than before. It’s a very dark version of Fionn and a completely matured sound.

Other Lives Tamer AnimalsNick Hemming (The Leisure Society)
Other LivesTamer Animals
I was a latecomer to this band, but Tamer Animals has become a bit of an obsession. The arrangements are incredibly detailed and yet subtle, if you immerse yourself in them it’s an intensely rewarding experience. The songs are beautifully written and, although singer Jesse Tabish delivers them in quite a downbeat manner, his voice drips with pathos. If you don’t like this album then you probably don’t like music.

Lykke Li Wounded RhymesPhia
Lykke LiWounded Rhymes
It’s a darker, sexier album than her first, the production is great (she teamed up with Bjorn Yttling from Peter, Bjorn and John again) and it is an intriguing, danceable LP from an artist with fantastic pop-writing instincts and tonnes of charisma.

Laura Jean A Fool Who'llJulia Johnson (Julia and the Deep Sea Sirens)
Laura JeanA Fool Who’ll
Hearing rumours that she would be playing electric guitar and saxophone, I was unsure what to expect after Laura Jean’s distinctly folky previous album, Eden Land. Upon hearing A Fool Who’ll, it became clear to me that Laura Jean is in a rare category of artists which I haven’t added to in years in the music on my computer – Artists Who Always Release Albums Which Astound Me And Will Never Make The Same Album Twice. The only other artists I have in there are PJ Harvey and The Shins.

Three Trapped TigersJoe Gould (Crooked Fiddle Band)
Gillian WelchHarrow and the Harvest and Three Trapped TigersRoute One or Die
In true Crooked style, there are two wildly different albums that I think sum up the year perfectly. Welch’s album took a little while to grow, but once it hit me, I was floored at the way she and Dave Rawlings strip things back – two voices and two guitars is pretty much all you get – and settle you into a mood across the whole album, pure country songs that transcend the need for frills. Three Trapped Tigers played before us at a festival in the UK and I was amazed at the sheer energy this band has. Over-the-top, bombastic, brash and yet still with moments of real beauty, this has to be the best instrumental album of the year.

nullBayden Hine (Packwood)
Ólafur ArnaldsLiving Room Songs
Listening to this incredibly spacious album you would never think that it was recorded in the teeny tiny living room of Icelandic native Ólafur Arnalds. Aptly named Living Room Songs, Ólafur wrote one song a day for one week (a process he has followed previously on an earlier record, Found Songs), Ólafur encompasses all that I admire in an artist; he is incredibly creative, resourceful and the album reflects this. His spare arrangements and sombre (not in a bad way, mind you) melodies are truly spectacular to behold. Iceland really seems to be a hotbed for creativity these days!

Kurt Vile Smoke RingLeroy Lee
Kurt VileSmoke Ring For My Halo
I feel stoned just thinking about this album. I think it’s a great soundtrack for a Great Depression: sitting on a bean bag wondering whether to have Cornflakes again for dinner, “Ghost Town” streaming from an old YouTube playlist.

Tell MeEmma Swift (49 Goodbyes, In The Pines)
Jessica Lea MayfieldTell Me
There’s no doubt 2011 has been a great year for twang. Emmylou Harris’ Hard Bargain and Lucinda Williams’ Blessed both made high rotation on the Swift Stereo early in the year. Jim Lauderdale’s Reason & Rhyme and Steve Earle’s I’ll Never Get Out Of This World Alive – I yearn to give you a bunch of gushing superlatives but we just don’t have enough word count. And Gillian Welch! If I owned Harrow & The Harvest on vinyl I would have worn out the grooves by now. Of course, looking at this little list thus far, it would seem that the life assessment I said/slurred to my pal Dobe over a few white wines last week still rings true – “Musically, I’m just a middle-aged man trapped in the body of an almost 30 year old woman.” However, if I’m wanting to fight this … Am I wanting to fight this? No, I don’t give a damn at all really. But if I’m looking to give Timber and Steel readers a heads up on something that’s younger, cooler and still blowing my tiny mind after almost ten months of non-stop play, Jessica Lea Mayfield’s Tell Me is brilliant, assured, sexy as fuck and has been criminally overlooked in Australia. If I were Santa, I’d be putting it in Christmas stockings the world over.

Wednesday Nights At The Hollywood: November

Packwood
Image Courtesy of Packwood

It may be controversial but we’re going to come right out and say it – November’s lineup for Wednesday’s Nights at the Hollywood Hotel in Sydney may be the best yet. No disrespect to those amazing artists that have come before (and there have been so many) but just looking down the names of returning favourites and new additions gets us more excited than a banjo player at a hoedown.

Joining The Falls’ Wednesday night residency at the Hollywood this month are arbori:, Lissa, Jack Carty, Evil J & Saint Ceceilia, Brendan Maclean, Packwood (above), and Mustered Courage. We told you it was amazing! As usual entry is free and the music kicks off around 8PM. For more information (and lineup changes) make sure you RSVP to the official Facebook event here. The schedule for the next five weeks is below with arbori:, The Falls and Lissa taking to the stage this Wednesday the 2nd November.

WEEK 1: Wed 2nd November – arbori:, The Falls, Lissa
WEEK 2: Wed 9th November – Jack Carty, The Falls
WEEK 3: Wed 16th November – Evil J & Saint Ceceilia, The Falls, Brendan Maclean
WEEK 4: Wed 23rd November – Packwood, The Falls
WEEK 5: Wed 30th November – Mustered Courage, The Falls

Wednesday Nights At The Hollywood: July

Lissa
Image Courtesy of Lissa

In the immortal words of Sandy Denny: “Who knows where the time goes?” We woke up this morning and suddenly realised it was July, and had been for almost a week now. Last we checked it had just been Easter – I think we need to pay more attention to such things.

One fantastic thing about it being July though is we have the new lineup for The Falls’ Wednesday night acoustic/folk residency at The Hollywood Hotel in Sydney. If you haven’t managed to catch one of these nights yet we really suggest you do – it’s probably the best regular folk night in Sydney and it’s absolutely free.

Tonight is the first in their July program and features Fergus Brown, Lucy Hall and of course a set by The Falls themselves (definitely worth the price of admission). The full program for the month includes John Vella, Ryan Nico, Whiskey Indian November, Johnny Took and Lissa (above) and is below. Make sure you RSVP to the Facebook invite so you can keep up to date with any additions and changes. Happy folking!

WEEK 1: Wed 6th July – Fergus Brown, The Falls, Lucy Hall
WEEK 2: Wed 13th July – John Vella, The Falls, Ryan Nico
WEEK 3: Wed 20th July – Whiskey Indian November, The Falls, Johnny Took
WEEK 4: Wed 27th July – Lissa, The Falls

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