Review: Falls Festival Downtown 2020

John Farnham-17

Photos by Stuart Bucknell Photography

For years, the Timber and Steel team have headed to the Falls Festival – hallowed ground for the annual New Years Eve Revelry. We’ve been to Lorne, Marion Bay and Byron. Ever since the festival branched out and added a fourth show to the tour, the team have been keen to head to Fremantle, WA to check out the latest iteration.

Falls Downtown is a whole other world from the East Coast festivals – the theme and look is the same but the vibe is different, unique to it’s location and style. Paired down to a two-day festival, set at an oval in the midst of a tourist town, it felt like a relaxed Big Day Out or summer stadium festival, with the enthusiasm and energy of a dance party.

Since it was not a camping event, patrons were more able to fully express themselves and their festival style. People would pop back to their accommodation between sets, or take some downtime when the schedule allowed, or nip back to make that all important costume change from day festival, to night fabulous. We can only imagine the crazy sunburn lines people were sporting after some revealing and eye catching outfits sparkled through the oval.

Jack Davies and the Bush Chooks-1

We kicked off the weekend with the stylings of local Jack Davies and the Bush Chooks (and a local tip, turns out ‘Bush Chook’ is the nickname for the local brew, Emu Export). It’s always tough to be one of the first acts to open at a festival, but Jack and crew had their fans in tow and a growing crowd lifting their already excellent set. Kicking off with a ballad steeped in folky know how, a great meld of acoustic guitar and violin with a lash of electric to straddle the genre threshold. Their set rambled through a perfect collection of larrikin lyrical, slyly local, Australiana laced, satirically soaked tunes working through a range of styles and tempos. Who knew that the very first act of the festival would stand out as one of our favourites of the whole festival? We won’t be surprised if we see Jack Davies on larger folkier festival lines ups in the very near future.

We caught Vera Blue opening her set with haunting lyrically driven tones, melding acoustic prowess into poppy beats, carrying the crowd on an emphatic journey. As far as festival line ups go, Blue clearly attracted crowd to arrive in time for her set, and programmatically her performance was a perfect bridge from Baker Boy‘s hip-hop energy to John Farnham’s nostalgia, while recognising a powerhouse talent in her own right.

John Farnham-7John Farnham, what can we say? He does still have it, and we were delightfully surprised at just how many people of all ages not only knew, but sang along emphatically to his epic back catalogue that both transported us back in time, but was also poignant and timely for the current political climate. Favourites abound, Age of Reason, Chain Reaction, Touch of Paradise, Two Strong Hearts, Sadie the Cleaning Lady, That’s Freedom all rolled across the stadium to collective delight. A fantastic line up of backing singers made for glorious harmonies, and Farnham’s fine voice and high spirits showcased his huge personality. And of course, You’re The Voice was THE anthem of the stadium, sung wholeheartedly, in unison. A defining moment of Falls Downtown.

Milky Chance delivered a moody and emotive set with a deep rhythm that had the power to move your body from within. Earthy xylophone melded with a solid beat, and sheer joy. They delivered the perfect set for a summer evening, punctuated with their own panache. Any act that can use a harmonica as a rhythmic sound deserves to have the crowds dancing and singing along word for word.

Of Monsters and Men had the crowd singing and dancing along instantly, with favourite hooks and big faves ringing out across a rambunctious crowd. Followed closely by Lime Cordiale whose brassy and bold musical statements had us all hooked, lapping up their infectious vibes that had an air of The Cat Empire, and delivered a whole lot of fun.

Of Monsters and Men-6

Parcels was fun to catch with harmonised, mysterious opening to their set, that gave way to an 80s pop vibes, laden with funk and escalating their synched harmonies. Vocally moving into a higher register, a comforting melody emerged that was easy to lose yourself within.

Sunday’s line up was as exciting as the Saturday, and the festival’s adaptability was on show as the venue layout had been tweaked overnight, providing a better experience for punters, relieving a key bottleneck and allowing better flow for excited crowds to move between stages.

The Japanese House-3

The final day of the Falls Tour cruised in to hearts and minds thank to The Japanese House. Their smooth harmonies and soaring synth delivered a cruisey pop melody to get everyone in the right mood.

We know him from his duo outfit with his sister, but Angus Stone’s Dope Lemon was a highlight for the team where musically we’ve reached new terrain – not folk, not country, not blues, and not pop, but a soothing balm of them all in just the right blend lingering on a sunny afternoon over an eager crowd. A modern day Woodstock vibe ensued.

Hitting our stride with a definite theme for the day – relaxed and chilled – #1 Dads didn’t fail to deliver with strummy chilled goodness, reminiscent of an evening on the beach with a hint of Beach Boys. The indie vibes were strong and the crowd was committed to enjoy every ‘holiday-like’ moment of the set. A mix of old favourites, and new tunes to test, it was a set not to be missed.

Lewis Capaldi-43

Golden boy Lewis Capaldi did not disappoint the crowds who gathered with a glint in their eye and the intent for fun. He opened with raucous energy that wowed the crowds, yet managed to tame the wildness and calm the beasts within by moving in to sentimental ballads. A masterful performer, he had the growing audience in the palm of his hand, tantalising and thrilling them with with popular hit after hit, maintaining his stoic charm throughout.

Matt Corby-1

Joining the Falls line up only for the Downtown leg was Matt Corby. We’ve seen him in action many times but Falls seems to be a place of calm joy as his relaxed and confident manner held the crowds transfixed. Pulling glimpses of gospel and flashes of falsetto, his meld of music and stories wound through the audience, drawing them closer and holding them up together until his hits had them enraptured with delight.

We rounded out our Falls with solid festival favourite, Thelma Plum. Her high energy set was packed full of hits laced with her genuine charm and shining with Aussie pride. She delighted throughout her performance, caught off guard when a song ended in spite of being so whisked away with it that she didn’t want to stop. A delectable cover of The Captain felt like Chambers herself could have stepped on to stage to join them, lapping up Plum’s edgy emphatic delivery. Plum’s hits rang out across the oval as the temperatures dropped, the stars came out and the Falls Festival concluded for another year.

Check out our whole gallery of photos by Stuart Bucknell Photography on our Facebook page.

Thelma Plum-1

Thank Folk It’s Friday – 19th July

TFIF

This Week in Folk

All the News From The Week That Was

– Our latest New Music Monday featured new songs and videos from the likes of Bon Iver, Boy & Bear, Great Aunt, Josh Rennie-Hynes, Matt Corby & Tash Sultana, The Maes and The Teskey Brothers. Listen and watch them here

Releases This Week

Better Grow Up
Better Grow UpAngharad Drake
iTunes
Bandcamp

Joe Pug
The Flood in ColorJoe Pug
iTunes

Timber and Steel Recommends – Go To This Gig

The Lumineers

The Lumineers

Friday 19th to Sunday 21st July – Splendour in the Grass, Byron Bay, NSW
Monday 22nd July – Enmore Theatre, Sydney, NSW

Gigs Next Week

19-Twenty
Saturday 20th July – Jamberoo Music Festival, Jamberoo, NSW
Thursday 25th to Sunday 28th July – Echuca-Moama Winter Blues Festival, Echuca, Victoria

Adam Eckersley Band
Friday 26th to Sunday 28th July – Groundwater Country Music Festival, Gold Coast, QLD

Amber Lawrence
Friday 26th July – Gunnedah Hotel, Gunnedah, NSW

Andrew Swift
Friday 19th July – Captain Cook Holiday Village, Seventeen Seventy, QLD
Friday 26th to Sunday 28th July – Groundwater Country Music Festival, Gold Coast, QLD

Angharad Drake
Wednesday 24th July – The J, Noosa, QLD

Because The Night feat. Sean Simmons, Jessica Cassar
Thursday 25th July – The Midnight Special, Sydney, NSW

Big Sky Mountain
Friday 26th July – Gasoline Pony, Sydney, NSW

Bonnie Kay and the Bonafides
Thursday 25th to Sunday 28th July – Echuca-Moama Winter Blues Festival, Echuca, Victoria

Bonniesongs w/ Elizabeth Fader, Ollie Thorpe
Thursday 25th July – The Vanguard, Sydney, NSW

Brad Butcher
Friday 19th July – Milton Theatre, Milton, NSW

Brad Cox
Friday 19th July – The Foundry, Brisbane, QLD
Thursday 25th July – The Lansdowne, Sydney, NSW

Busby Marou
Friday 26th July – The Fortitude Music Hall, Brisbane, QLD

Casey Atkins & his Press Studs
Sunday 21st July – Shady Pines Saloon, Sydney, NSW

CJ Shaw
Tuesday 23rd July – Smith’s Alternative, Canberra, ACT

Courtney Barnett
Friday 19th to Sunday 21st July – Splendour in the Grass, Byron Bay, NSW

Dan Sultan presents Nali & Friends
Saturday 20th July – The Melba Spiegeltent, Melbourne, VIC
Saturday 20th July – The Melba Spiegeltent, Melbourne, VIC

Daniel Champagne
Saturday 20th July – Railway Club, Darwin, NT

Davidson Brothers
Friday 19th July – True Brew, Bendigo, VIC
Saturday 20th July – St Ambrose Hall, Woodend, VIC
Sunday 21st July – The Curtin, Melbourne, VIC

Dean Lewis
Friday 19th to Sunday 21st July – Splendour in the Grass, Byron Bay, NSW

Echuca-Moama Winter Blues Festival
Thursday 25th to Sunday 28th July – Echuca, Victoria

Ettalong Jazz Festival
Saturday 20th July – Galleria, Ettalong Beach, NSW

Fanny Lumsden
Friday 26th to Sunday 28th July – Groundwater Country Music Festival, Gold Coast, QLD

Felicity Urquhart
Friday 19th July – Milton Theatre, Milton, NSW
Friday 26th to Sunday 28th July – Groundwater Country Music Festival, Gold Coast, QLD

FolkSwagon feat. Blain Cunneen, Georgia Mulligan, Daniel Cherote
Wednesday 24th July – Cafe Lounge, Sydney, NSW

Freya Josephine Hollick
Friday 26th to Sunday 28th July – Groundwater Country Music Festival, Gold Coast, QLD

Gary & James Daley
Saturday 20th July – Seymour Centre, Sydney, NSW

Genevieve Chadwick & The Stones Throw
Friday 19th July – Music at Street Market, Sydney, NSW

Great Aunt
Saturday 20th July – Hardy’s Bay Club, Hardy’s Bay, NSW
Sunday 21st July – Little Alberts, Bathurst, NSW
Thursday 25th July – Temperance Society, Sydney, NSW

Gretta Ziller
Friday 26th to Sunday 28th July – Groundwater Country Music Festival, Gold Coast, QLD

Grizzlee Train
Saturday 20th July – Jamberoo Music Festival, Jamberoo, NSW

Groundwater Country Music Festival
Friday 26th to Sunday 28th July – Gold Coast, QLD

Honky Tonkin’ feat. King Arthur
Thursday 25th July – The Rook’s Return, Melbourne, VIC

Ireland Rocks featuring Ciaran Gribbin
Saturday 20th July – The Brass Monkey, Cronulla, NSW

Jamberoo Music Festival
Saturday 20th July – Jamberoo, NSW

Jeff Lang
Sunday 21st July – Newport Bowls Club, Newport, VIC
Friday 26th July – Milton Theatre, Milton, NSW

Jess Ribeiro
Friday 19th July – Franks Wild Years, Wollongong, NSW
Friday 26th July – Northcote Social Club, Melbourne, VIC

Jesse Younan Tribute Show
Friday 19th July – The Newsagency, Sydney, NSW

John Schumann and Shane Howard
Friday 26th to Sunday 28th July – Groundwater Country Music Festival, Gold Coast, QLD

Kay Proudlove
Saturday 20th July – Jamberoo Music Festival, Jamberoo, NSW

Little Georgia
Sunday 21st July – Smith’s Alternative, Canberra, ACT
Friday 26th July – The Lennox Sessions, Lennox Head, NSW

Little Quirks
Saturday 20th July – Jamberoo Music Festival, Jamberoo, NSW

Magpie Diaries
Friday 19th July – Wheatsheaf Hotel, Adelaide, SA
Saturday 20th July – The Gem Bar, Melbourne, VIC

Mandy Connell & Liz Frencham
Sunday 21st July – Wesley Anne, Melbourne, VIC

Mark Oats and Matty Zarb
Friday 26th July – Django at Camelot, Sydney, NSW

Matt Corby
Friday 19th to Sunday 21st July – Splendour in the Grass, Byron Bay, NSW

Mick Hart
Friday 26th and Saturday 27th July – Winter Blues Festival, Echuca, VIC

Montgomery Church
Friday 26th to Sunday 28th July – Groundwater Country Music Festival, Gold Coast, QLD

Mustered Courage
Friday 26th to Sunday 28th July – Groundwater Country Music Festival, Gold Coast, QLD

Nathan Seeckts
Saturday 20th July – The Fitzroy Pinnacle, Melbourne, VIC

Paddy McHugh & Andy Golledge
Friday 26th July – The Railway Club, Darwin, NT

Queen Porter Stomp w/ Michigan Waters
Friday 19th July – The Gasoline Pony, Sydney, NSW
Saturday 20th July – Galleria, Ettalong Beach, NSW

Round Mountain Girls
Friday 26th to Sunday 28th July – Groundwater Country Music Festival, Gold Coast, QLD

Sahara Beck
Wednesday 24th July – The J, Noosa, QLD
Friday 26th July – The Fortitude Music Hall, Brisbane, QLD

Scottish Trad Session
Saturday 20th July – The Pipers Inn, Halls Head, WA

Sea Shanty Session
Wednesday 24th July – The Brother’s Public House, Melbourne, VIC

Sean McMahon and The Owls
Thursday 25th July – Edinburgh Castle, Melbourne, VIC

Skyscraper Stan
Friday 19th July – Four5Nine, Perth, WA
Saturday 20th July – Prince of Wales, Bunbury, WA
Sunday 21st July – Caves House, Yallingup, WA
Friday 26th July – Bridge Hotel, Castlemaine, VIC

Smith & Jones
Saturday 20th July – Hardy’s Bay Club, Hardy’s Bay, NSW
Sunday 21st July – Little Alberts, Bathurst, NSW

Splendour in the Grass
Friday 19th to Sunday 21st July – North Byron Parklands, Byron Bay, NSW

Taste Of Tamworth feat. Carter & Carter, Lyn Bowtell, Jayne Denham, The Weeping Willows
Friday 19th July – Burrinja, Upwey, VIC
Saturday 20th July – Gateway Hotel, Geelong, VIC
Sunday 21st July – Wonthaggi Union Community Arts Centre, Wonthaggi, VIC

Tessa Devine
Friday 19th July – The ORB, Atherton, QLD
Thursday 25th July – Elixir Music Bar, Cairns, QLD

The Bushwackers
Sunday 21st July – The Junkyard, Maitland, NSW
Friday 26th July – Outback Queensland Masters, Mount Isa, QLD

The Little Lord Street Band
Friday 19th July – Four5Nine Bar, Perth, WA
Saturday 20th July – Settlers Tavern, Margaret River, WA
Sunday 21st July – Clancy’s Fish Pub, Fremantle, WA
Friday 26th July – Grumpy’s Music Bar, Perth, WA

The Lumineers
Friday 19th to Sunday 21st July – Splendour in the Grass, Byron Bay, NSW
Monday 22nd July – Enmore Theatre, Sydney, NSW

The Slowdowns
Friday 26th July – The Unicorn Hotel, Sydney, NSW

The Teskey Brothers
Friday 19th to Sunday 21st July – Splendour in the Grass, Byron Bay, NSW

The Water Runners
Saturday 20th July – Jamberoo Music Festival, Jamberoo, NSW

The Weeping Willows
Friday 19th July – Burrinja, Melbourne, VIC
Saturday 20th July – Gateway Hotel, Geelong, VIC
Sunday 21st July – Wonthaggi Union Community Arts Centre, Wonthaggi, VIC

Thelma Plum
Friday 19th to Sunday 21st July – Splendour in the Grass, Byron Bay, NSW
Friday 26th July – The Fortitude Music Hall, Brisbane, QLD

Tori Forsyth
Friday 26th to Sunday 28th July – Groundwater Country Music Festival, Gold Coast, QLD

Vardos Trio
Friday 26th July – 24 Moons Bar, Melbourne, VIC

Witches Leap
Friday 19th July – Tintenbar Up Front, Tintenbar, NSW
Saturday 20th July – Studio Folk Club, Armidale, NSW
Sunday 21st July – House Concert, Maitland, NSW

Woman Enough feat. Catherine Britt, Melody Moko, Natalie Henry
Wednesday 24th July – The Stag & Hunter Hotel, Newcastle, NSW
Thursday 25th July – Lazybones Lounge, Sydney, NSW
Friday 26th July – Great Northern Trading Post, Laguna, NSW

Ziggy Alberts
Friday 19th to Sunday 21st July – Splendour in the Grass, Byron Bay, NSW

Friday Folk Flashback

“Blue Mountains” – Sam Amidon

New Music Monday – 15th July

The Maes
Image Courtesy of The Maes

Bon Iver – “Jelmore” & “Faith”

The internet lost its mind this week with Bon Iver not only dropping two more songs, but also announcing their new album i,i, due on the 30th August. After releasing “Hey, Ma” and “U (Man Like)” last month, the new Bon Iver tracks are the glitchy “Jelmore” and the anthemic “Faith”. Justin Vernon’s sound continues to evolve away from the gentle folk of his earlier work with him fully embracing samples, loops and more on his new music. But front and centre is still Vernon’s amazing voice and pitch perfect songwriting and that’s what makes anything new from Bon Iver something to get excited about.


Boy & Bear – “Hold Your Nerve”

Since “Hold Your Nerve” was released in the last couple of weeks I’ve been hearing it all over the radio. It’s great that a band like Boy & Bear is still able to pump out songs that get the radio listening public excited. And “Hold Your Nerve” deserves the success its been getting – the track is classic Boy & Bear, combining their love of 70s folk-rock with the anthemic indie-pop they’ve becoming known for.

The track is taken from Boy & Bear’s newly announced album Suck On Light which will hit our ears on the 27th September. They also have a bunch of shows announced in August with tickets selling fast:

Thursday 15th August – The Tivoli, Brisbane, QLD
Friday 16th August – The Forum, Melbourne, VIC
Saturday 17th August – Enmore Theatre, Sydney, NSW
Friday 23rd August – The Astor, Perth, WA

Great Aunt – “FOMO”

Melbourne based folk and Americana duo Great Aunt tackle the modern anxiety of missing out on their latest track “FOMO”. with bluesy slide resonator guitar and thumping bass, the vocals in this track are actually more understated than you’d imagine. This is a very modern folk song that pays tribute to the roots of the music it draws from.

“FOMO” is taken from Great Aunt’s upcoming album So Not Right Now which is due for release in November. The duo are currently on tour – check out their upcoming dates here:

Tuesday 16th July – BUG Acoustic, Brisbane, QLD
Wednesday 17th July – Element Bar, Coffs Harbour, NSW
Thursday 18th July – The Middle, Mullumbimby, NSW
Saturday 20th July – Hardy’s Bay Club, Hardy’s Bay, NSW
Sunday 21st July – Little Alberts, Bathurst, NSW
Thursday 25th July – Temperance Society, Sydney, NSW
Sunday 28th July – The Cambus Wallace, Gold Coast, QLD
Friday 4th and Saturday 5th October – Deni Ute Muster Festival, Deniliquin, NSW
Friday 15th to Sunday 16th November – Healesville Music Festival, Healesville, VIC

Josh Rennie-Hynes – “Chapter”

Australian singer-songwriter Josh Rennie-Hynes has just unveiled his latest solo single “Chapter”, his first since his work as one half of The Ahern Brothers. Josh Rennie-Hynes moved to Nashville to write and record his upcoming album Patterns, due on the 27th September, and you can hear that towns influence all over “Chapter”. This is straight up Americana songwriting, with Rennie-Hynes voice accompanied by a cracking band.

Matt Corby & Tash Sultana – “Talk It Out”

Australian roots music darlings Matt Corby and Tash Sultana have come together for an amazing collaboration in “Talk It Out”. The funky, soulful track is very smooth and plays on the unique voice of both artists.

“I wrote the song during the sessions for Rainbow Valley, but in a different way to the rest of the album,” Corby explains. “It didn’t feel like it was a fit for the record so I revisited it with Tash recently. Tash has a giant musical beast living inside of her, so I knew she could deal with whatever I threw at her. It was amazing to collaborate with someone like that, and have her throw her musical styling’s over the song.”

“We originally started having a jam in early 2017, then life came between making music together,” Tash Sultana adds. “This track came about because Matt didn’t include it on Rainbow Valley. He sent it to me to fill in the blanks, and it’s the first collaboration I’ve done with another artist that I’ve released. Matt is an amazing songwriter and instrumentalist. He’s also an absolutely awesome guy with a huge soul so it was a privilege to be a part of this project.”

Matt Corby plays Splendour in the Grass this weekend.

The Maes – “Treat You Better”

I know it’s pretty early to call, but “Treat You Better” from Melbourne duo The Maes is close to being my favourite song of 2019. Taken from their self-titled album, “Treat You Better” is some absolutely fine songwriting, with sweet harmonies entwining themselves around guitar, bass and mandolin. The song’s storytelling lyrics are deceptively simple (as all great lyrics are), but have a depth to them that grows on every listen. But where “Treat You Better” really shines in the chorus, which builds to a chant as the track crescendos and lodges itself firmly in your head for days to come. The Maes have released the official video for “Treat You Better” featuring live footage from festivals and shows from across the world and it’s a wonderful accompaniment to amazing song.

The Teskey Brothers – “So Caught Up”

And so we have yet another single and video from The Teskey Brothers’ upcoming album Run Home Slow, due on the 2nd August. This time it’s the soulful “So Caught Up”, described by the band as the centrepiece to the upcoming album. The track has a pop sensibility without losing The Teskey Brothers’ innate love of the blues, soul and gospel music that’s inspired them.

Thank Folk It’s Friday – 24th June

TFIF

This Week in Folk

All the News From The Week That Was

– Sydney singer-songwriter Jordan Millar returns after a year long hiatus with his new single “Run Away, Runaway”. Details here

– Nu-folk duo Bear’s Den released their new video “Auld Wives”. Details here

The Little Stevies’ side project Teeny Tiny Stevies released their video “On The Toilet”. Details here

Dashville Skyline dropped its first lineup for 2016 including Brian Cadd, The Brothers Comatose, The Wilson Pickers, Melody Pool, Raised by Eagles, The Hello Morning, Jess Ribeiro, Davey Craddock & the Spectacles, Karl S. Williams, Skyscraper Stan and the Commission Flats, Irish Mythen and Andy Golledge Band. Details here

The Avett Brothers released their new single “Satan Pulls The Strings”. Details here

– Adelaide based singer-songwriter Todd Sibbin released his new single “Firetrain”. Details here

– The Adelaide Guitar Festival announced a lineup that includes Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn, Punch Brothers, Daniel Champagne, Genevieve Chadwick, Matt Walker, Slava Grigoryan, The Panics, Dr Zane Banks (The Morrisons, Cruisin’ Deuces) and many more. Details here

– As well as being announced for the Adelaide Guitar Festival, Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn have Australian tour dates in Melbourne and Sydney. Details here

Bob Evans announced a bunch of August tour dates with Melody Pool in support. Details here

– Two of Australia’s hottest singer-songwriters, William Crighton and Claire Anne Taylor, are heading out on tour this July and August. Details here

– Alice Springs based singer-songwriter Colin Lillie is heading to NSW and QLD to launch his latest singles. Details here

– Irish troubadour Glen Hansard has announced an Australian tour this October. Details here

Matt Corby released his video “Oh Oh Oh”. Details here

Releases This Week

Avett Brothers
True SadnessThe Avett Brothers
iTunes

Felice Brothers
Life In The DarkThe Felice Brothers
iTunes

Timber and Steel Recommends – Go To This Gig

Tracy McNeil & The GoodLife

Tracy McNeil

Tracy McNeil & The GoodLife will laucnh their brand new album Thieves in Melbourne tomorrow night before heading out on tour

Saturday 25th June – Bella Union, Melbourne, VIC
Thursday 30th June – Union Hotel, Sydney, NSW
Friday 1st July – Stag & Hunter Hotel, Newcastle, NSW

Gigs Next Week

Áine Tyrrell
Friday 24 June – The Front Gallery, Canberra, ACT
Saturday 26th June – Cobargo Pub, Cobargo, NSW

Batch Sessions feat. The Sweet Jelly Rolls
Wednesday 29th June – Batch Brewery, Sydney, NSW

Bill Jackson
Thursday 28th July – The Spotted Mallard, Melbourne, VIC

Brooke Russell and Megan Cooper
Wednesday 29th June – Some Velvet Morning, Melbourne, VIC
Friday 1st July – The Skylark Room, Upwey, VIC

Citizen of the World
Friday 1st July – Oxford Art Factory, Sydney, NSW

Colin Lillie
Wednesday 29th June – Gasoline Pony, Sydney, NSW
Thursday 30th June – Triffid, Brisbane, QLD
Friday 1st July – Night Quarter, Gold Coast, QLD

Coopers After Dark feat. Ash Grunwald
Wednesday 29th June – The Great Northern, Byron Bay, NSW
Thursday 30th June – The Tote, Melbourne, VIC

FolkSwagon feat. Merpire, Renetta Joy, The Delta Revue
Wednesday 29th June – Cafe Lounge, Sydney, NSW

Green Room Banjo Sessions
Wednesday 29th June – Petersham Bowling Club, Sydney, NSW

Hayden Calnin
Friday 24th June – Jimmy’s Den, Perth, WA

Hootenanny feat. Mark Lucas & The Dead Setters
Sunday 26th June – Miss Peaches, Sydney, NSW

Joe & Harmony’s Magic Carpet Ride BE-IN #6 feat. Jeremy Smith, Ionia, Catgut
Saturday 25th June – Newtown Neighbourhood Centre, Sydney, NSW

Joe Mungovan
Friday 24th June – House Concert, Perth, WA
Saturday 25th June – Good Nights, Bunbury, WA

Josh Pyke w/ Jack Carty
Friday 24th June – Chelsea Heights Hotel, Chelsea Heights, VIC
Saturday 25th June – Village Green Hotel, Mulgrave, VIC
Sunday 26th June – Westernport Hotel, San Remo, VIC

Justin Bernasconi & The Chocolate Lilies
Friday 24th June – St Margaret’s Anglican Church, Melbourne, VIC

Kaurna Cronin
Friday 24th June – Hibernian House, Sydney, NSW
Saturday 25th June – Hotel Steyne, Sydney, NSW
Sunday 26th June – Smith’s Alternative, Canberra, ACT

Little Features feat. Bonniesongs, Nick Kingswell, Michael Duschesne
Saturday 25th June – Hibernian House, Sydney, NSW

Lloyd Spiegel
Friday 24th June – The Agrestic Grocer, Orange, NSW
Saturday 25th June – The Camelot Lounge, Sydney, NSW
Sunday 26th June – Canberra Blues Society, The Harmonie German Club, Canberra, ACT
Friday 1st July – The Piping Hot Chicken Shop, Ocean Grove, VIC

Matt Glass and the Loose Cannons
Sunday 26th June – Nauti Studios, Sydney, NSW

Mic Conway’s National Junk Band
Friday 24th June – Camelot Lounge, Sydney, NSW

Richard Cuthbert
Friday 24th June – Oxford Circus, Sydney, NSW

Roadhouses w/ Lisa Caruso
Thursday 30th June – Freda’s, Sydney, NSW

Sam Brittain
Sunday 26th June – The Milk Factory, Brisbane, QLD

Skyscraper Stan
Friday 24th June – Farmer’s Arms Hotel, Creswick, VIC
Sunday 25th June – Baby black Café, Bacchus Marsh, VIC

Sweet Jean
Friday 1st July – Music on The Hill, Red Hill, VIC

Swerve Society feat. Jack Elias, Darren Cross, Luke O’Farrell
Monday 27th June – Newtown Social Club, Sydney, NSW

The Beards
Friday 24th June – The Barwon Club, Geelong, VIC
Saturday 25th June – Corner Hotel, Melbourne, VIC
Thursday 30th June – Beachcomber Hotel, Toukley, NSW
Friday 1st July – The Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle, NSW

The Bottlers (Acoustic) w/ Jim Mongrel, Olivia McAuliffe
Thursday 30th June – The Hideaway Bar, Sydney, NSW

The Paper Kites
Friday 24th June – Athenaeum Theatre, Melbourne, VIC
Saturday 25th June – The Tivoli, Brisbane, QLD
Friday 1st July – Astor Theatre, Perth, WA

Tom Dockray, Mitch Power
Friday 24th June – Six String Brewing Company, Erina, NSW

Rechords w/ The Cruisin Deuces
Friday 24th June – Hamilton Station Hotel, Newcastle, NSW

The Weeping Willows
Tuesday 28th June – Jane’s, Wollongong, NSW
Wednesday 29th June – Smith’s Alternative, Canberra, ACT
Thursday 30th June – The Gasoline Pony, Sydney, NSW
Friday 1st July – Flow Bar, Old Bar, NSW

Timothy Bowen w/ Jorja Carroll
Thursday 30th June – The Brass Monkey, Cronulla, NSW

Tracy McNeil & The GoodLife
Saturday 25th June – Bella Union, Melbourne, VIC
Thursday 30th June – Union Hotel, Sydney, NSW
Friday 1st July – Stag & Hunter Hotel, Newcastle, NSW

Vanishing Shapes w/ The Squeezebox Trio, Ess-Em
Friday 1st July – The Gaelic Club, Sydney, NSW

Winterbourne
Friday 24th June – Shebeen Bandroom, Melbourne, VIC
Friday 1st July – Black Bear Lodge, Brisbane, QLD

Woody Pitney w/ Rowena Wise, Lachie Ranford
Wednesday 29th June – The Workers Club, Melbourne, VIC

Yarramundi Music Club feat. Kit & Cub, Two Doors Down
Wednesday 29th June – University Of Western Sydney Hawkesbury Campus, Richmond, NSW

Friday Folk Flashback

“Barrett’s Privateers” – Stan Rogers

You know when you come back from a festival with a song stuck in your head? This song has been on a constant loop since Top Half Folk Festival – with thanks to Dave Oakes for continually requesting it at sessions and for Phil Beck for acquiescing and singing it even while losing his voice.

Watch the New Matt Corby Live Video “Oh Oh Oh”

Matt Corby
Image Courtesy of Matt Corby

Matt Corby is not known for his music videos so when one appears (usually a live cut from a recording session or sound check) you just need to share share share.

The latest live video from Matt Corby is “Oh Oh Oh”, taken from his debut album Telluric. The video was recorded during a sound check at the Palais Theatre in Melbourne – check it out below:

A Folky Guide to the 2016 Spledour in the Grass Lineup

Splendour
Image Courtesy of Splendour in the Grass

After a couple of years of slim-picking for indie-folk fans today’s massive Splendour in the Grass lineup announcement came as a pleasant surprise to Timber and Steel. In amongst massive headline names like The Strokes, The Cure, Flume, The Avalanches and James Blake is a bunch of folk-leaning artists you should be getting excited about.

  • Matt Corby – The singer-songwriter released his debut album Telluric this year chich has been getting plenty of air time on national radio.
  • Boy & Bear – No strangers to the Splendour stage, Boy & Bear have already toured their latest album Limit of Love with a bunch of sold out shows at the beginning of this year.
  • Jake Bugg – I first discovered Bugg at Splendour in 2013 and I was impressed with the singer-songwriter’s ability to command an audience with just himself and a guitar.
  • Leon Bridges – American gospel and soul singer returns to Australia with a bunch of buzz behind him.
  • James Vincent McMorrowSplendour will be McMorrow’s only Australian show this time around. It’s been a while since he could be considered a “folk singer” having gone down an electronic route in recent years, but there’s no denying how amazing this man is live.
  • Michael Kiwanuka – The UK soul-folk singer has a brand new album, Love & Hate, produced by Danger Mouse and Inflo due in May. We have a feeling it’s going to be huge.
  • Marlon Williams – Our love of Marlon Williams is well documented. Splendour will no doubt open the alt-country singer-songwriter up to a whole new fanbase.
  • Kim Churchill – A longtime favourite of Timber and Steel, Kim Churchill’s rootsy sound was built for festivals.
  • Little May – The indie-folk trio have an epic sound that is just made for the Splendour stage.

Splendour in the Grass 2016 will take place from Friday 22nd July to Sunday 24th July at the North Byron Parklands, Yelgun. Tickets will go on sale on the 21st April.

Thank Folk It’s Friday – 12th February

TFIF

This Week in Folk

All the News From The Week That Was

The Lumineers announced details of their new album Cleopatra which is due this April. Details here

Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings Machine will perform together with Willie Watson and Haas Kowert Tice at Dream A Highway in Melbourne this month. Details here

The National Folk Festival has programmed a number of events to celebrate the 100 year anniversary of the Ireland Easter Rising. Details here

– Justin Vernon from Bon Iver released a live video covering Sharon Van Etten’s “Love More”. Details here

– The Meatstock festival in Sydney this weekend has a great musical lineup including Adam Eckersley Band, Mustered Courage, The Snowdroppers, The Beards, Henry Wagons, Davidson Brothers, Big Blind Ray, The Buffalo Grass Boys, The Punk Rock Hillbilly, Sahara Beck, Hussy Hicks, Roy Rose and more. Details here

– The brand new Summer Hill Folk Festival announced its lineup including Pat Drummond, Catgut, Brian Campeau, Fanny Lumsden, The Tawny Owl String Band and many more. Details here

Matt Corby released his new single “Knife Edge” and announced a national tour in April. Details here

– Sydney artist Willowy released her new album and has tour dates in NSW, VIC and SA. Details here

– Melbourne duo Oh Pep! have announced a national tour this April. Details here

Miss Peaches in Sydney has announced a new folk themed night on Sundays titles Hootenany. Details here

– Gold Coast duo Hussy Hicks released their new album Lucky Joe’s Wine (and other tales from Dog River) today. Details here

Interviews

“For the first visit there, I think it’s a lot of fun to try to hit all the records. Of course for me personally, the newer songs tend to be closer to where I’m at emotionally. But there’s this cool thing that happens when you revisit a song you haven’t played in several years. You start to hear it in a different way, almost like it’s not even your song. I have this personal rule that I’ll only play songs which I have a strong emotional connection to at a given time. Old or new, doesn’t matter. If I can’t mean what I’m singing I won’t do it”William Fitzsimmons chats to Gareth Hugh Evans. Interview here

Releases This Week

Applewood Road
Applewood RoadApplewood Road
Bandcamp

Yesteryear
YesteryearAriela Jacobs
iTunes

Henry Wagons
After What I Did Last NightHenry Wagons
iTunes

Hussy Hicks
Lucky Joe’s Wine (and other tales from Dog River)Hussy Hicks
iTunes

Pocket Fox
The Brightest LightPocket Fox
Bandcamp

Button Collective
The Lonesome SeaThe Button Collective
Bandcamp

Timber and Steel Presents

The Timbers

William Fitzsimmons

Friday 12th February – Tanswells Hotel, Beechworth, VIC
Saturday 13th February – Smiths Alternative, Canberra, ACT
Sunday 14th February – Braidwood Hotel, Braidwood, VIC

Timber and Steel Recommends – Go To This Gig

Heartbreaker Sessions feat. A Man Called Stu, Dan & Dan

A Man Called Stu

Regular Sydney night Heartbreaker Sessions returns for 2016 with a new night (Thursday!) and the same heady mix of Americana, alt-country and singer-songwriters. The first Heartbreaker Sessions features local favourites A Man Called Stu and Dan & Dan (Oh Willy Dear) along with DJ sets from Post to Wire and Daz.

Thursday 18th February – Freda’s, Sydney, NSW

Gigs Next Week

Andrew Phelan
Saturday 13th February – The Grand Junction, Maitland, NSW

Bluegrass @ Yulli’s feat. The Sweet Jelly Rolls
Wednesday 17th February – Yulli’s, Sydney, NSW

Boy & Bear
Friday 12th February – Horden Pavilion, Sydney, NSW
Saturday 13th February – Riverstage, Brisbane, QLD

Dave Rawlings Machine
Friday 12th February – The Triffid, Brisbane, QLD
Saturday 13th February – A&I Hall, Bangalow, NSW
Tuesday 16th February – Enmore Theatre, Sydney, NSW
Wednesday 17th February – The Playhouse, Canberra, ACT
Friday 19th February – Palais Theatre, Melbourne, VIC

Elwood Myre
Thursday 18th February – The Junkyard, Maitland, NSW

Fairlight Folk feat. David Bridie, Jed Rowe
Saturday 13th February – Fairlight Folk Acoustic Lounge, Sydney, NSW

Folkswagon
Wednesday 17th February – Cafe Lounge, Sydney, NSW

Heartbreaker Sessions feat. A Man Called Stu, Dan & Dan
Thursday 18th February – Freda’s, Sydney, NSW

Hootenany feat. The Sweet Jelly Rolls
Sunday 14th February – Miss Peaches, Sydney, NSW

Hussy Hicks
Friday 12th February – Beaches, Thirroul, NSW
Saturday 13th February – Lazybones, Sydney, NSW
Sunday 14th February – Meatstock Festival, Sydney, NSW
Sunday 14th February – Brass Monkey, Cronulla, NSW
Friday 19th February – Seaview Hotel, Woolgoolga, NSW

James Thomson
Friday 12th February – The Rails, Byron Bay, NSW
Saturday 13th February – Junk Bar, Brisbane, QLD
Sunday 14th February – The Rails, Byron Bay, NSW

Jess Ribeiro
Friday 12th February – Newtown Social Club, Sydney, NSW

John Flanagan and Sal Kimber & The Rollin’ Wheel
Friday 12th February – Alexandra Town Hall, Alexandra, VIC
Saturday 13th February – Live at the Bundy, Bundalaguah, VIC
Friday 19th February – Belbrae Hall, Belbrae, VIC

Josh Pyke
Friday 12th February – Melbourne Zoo Twilights, Melbourne, VIC
Saturday 13th February – The Wool Exchange, Geelong, VIC
Friday 19th February – Her Majesty’s Theatre, Adelaide, SA

José González
Friday 12th February – Perth International Arts Festival, Perth, WA

Kate Miller-Heidke
Friday 12 February – Ipswich Civic Centre, Ipswich, QLD
Sunday 14th February – The Triffid, Brisbane, QLD
Thursday 18th February – The Factory Theatre, Sydney, NSW
Friday 19th February – Laycock Street Theatre, Gosford, NSW

Lucy Wise and Justin Bernasconi
Saturday 13th February – House on the Hill, Melbourne, VIC

Mark Lucas and The Dead Setters w/ Buck Loner Revue
Sunday 14th February – Marrickville Bowling Club, Sydney, NSW

Meatstock
Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th February – Sydney Showground, Sydney, NSW

Missy Higgins
Saturday 13th February – Twilight at Taronga, Sydney, NSW
Sunday 14th February – Twilight at Taronga, Sydney, NSW

Patrick James
Friday 19th February – The Foundry, Brisbane, QLD

Phia w/ Ka-Tya
Wednesday 17th February – Some Velvet Morning, Melbourne, VIC

Pocket Fox
Saturday 13th February – White Eagle Polish Club, Canberra, ACT
Friday 19th February – Gasoline Pony, Sydney, NSW

Riverboats Music Festival
Friday 19th to Sunday 21st February – Echuca-Moama, VIC

Ruby Boots
Friday 19th to Sunday 21st February – Riverboats Festival, VIC

Sam Newton
Friday 12th February – The Yarra Hotel, Melbourne, VIC
Saturday 13th February – Aireys Pub, Aireys Inlet, VIC

The Audreys
Friday 12th February – Speigeltent, Adelaide, SA

The Beards
Saturday 13th February – Meatstock, Sydney, NSW

The Timbers
Friday 12th February – Tanswells Hotel, Beechworth, VIC
Saturday 13th February – Smiths Alternative, Canberra, ACT
Sunday 14th February – Braidwood Hotel, Braidwood, VIC

The Weeping Willows
Sunday 14th February – House Concert, Melbourne, VIC

Vin Garbutt
Thursday 18th February – The Governor Hindmarsh, Adelaide, SA

William Fitzsimmons
Sunday 14th February – Chevron Festival Gardens, Perth, WA

Willowy
Friday 12th February – The Rhythm Hut, Gosford, NSW
Friday 19th February – The Eastern, Ballarat, VIC

Friday Folk Flashback

“Letters” – Matt Corby

Possibly one of my favourite Matt Corby tracks of all time – this is the singer-songwriter at his folky best.

Matt Corby Announces National Tour and New Single “Knife Edge”

Matt Corby
Image Courtesy of Matt Corby

From what we’ve heard from Matt Corby’s upcoming album Telluric (due Friday 11th March) the singer’s debut long player is going to be eclectic. The latest single “Knife Edge” just adds to that with a bunch of influences – folk, psychedelic, blues and rock – smashing together on the track.

Take a listen to “Knife Edge” here:

To celebrate the release of Telluric Matt Corby has announced a national tour kicking off in April. The full list of dates are as follows:

Tuesday 12th April – Enmore Theatre, Sydney, NSW
Wednesday 13th April – Enmore Theatre, Sydney, NSW
Wednesday 20th April – QPAC Theatre, Brisbane, QLD
Thursday 28th April – Thebarton Theatre, Adelaide, SA
Sunday 1st May – Palais Theatre, Melbourne, VIC
Monday 2nd May – Palais Theatre, Melbourne, VIC
Thursday 5th May – Riverside Theatre, Perth, WA

Ten Artists to Watch in the First Half of 2016

Bob Dylan

Following the success of last year’s “Ten Artists to Watch in the First Half of 2015” article we thought we’d try our hand again at picking which bands and singers you’re going to be hearing a lot from over the next 6 months. This list is by no means exhaustive (I had to whittle it down to just 10) but I think it’s a nice mix of artists, old and new, to keep an eye on this year. It’s 2016 – let’s get excited about new music!

All Our Exes
All Our Exes Live in Texas

While it’ll be tough to top a 2015 that included supporting The Backstreet Boys on their Australian tour I reckon All Our Exes Live in Texas are set to have a massive 2016. Having hit their crowdfunding target to record their debut album late last year the girls have been busy running between festivals, recording studios and music video locations throughout January – and they’ve just been announced as the supports for Passenger’s Australian tour. Expect All Our Exes Live in Texas to be everywhere you look this year.

Bon Iver
Bon Iver

It’s been five years since Bon Iver’s last album. It’s been four years since Bon Iver last toured Australia. In fact most people had written them off, assuming Justin Vernon was moving on to other projects, until mid last year where Bon Iver played the Eaux Claires Music Festival in Eau Claire, Wisconsin and Vernon told Consequence of Sound that this was the start of the band’s third cycle. Now they’re heading to Asia for shows in Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea, China, Japan and Taiwan this February and March bringing them very close to our shores…

Eagle and the Wolf
Eagle & The Wolf

Two of Australia’s finest singer-songwriters, indie-pop goddess Sarah Humphreys and alt-country troubadour Kris Morris, met, fell in love and now they’re making they’re making beautiful folk music together as Eagle & The Wolf. The project is in its infancy but they’ve already secured a tour with Kasey Chambers, wowed crowds at the Tamworth Music Festival and have an album coming out in February.

Imogen Clark
Imogen Clark

If the buzz from Tamworth is anything to go by 2016 is going to be huge for Imogen Clark. Signing to the coveted Lost Highway label late last year and recording her debut album in Nashville (release date to be announced), Clark has been going from strength to strength – and it couldn’t happen to a nicer girl!

John Flanagan
John Flanagan

John Flanagan is one of those artists that manages to straddle the fine line between country and folk music and as such has been embraced by both scenes. His new solo album There’s Another Way To Where You’re Going hits stands next week and he heads off on a tour with alt-country Sal Kimber & The Rollin’ Wheel throughout February and I have a feeling that Flanagan will gain a whole new legion of fans around the country before the year is out.

Matt Corby
Matt Corby

The two songs we’ve heard from Matt Corby’s debut album Telluric so far couldn’t be more different – the gospel infused “Monday” was followed up with the psychedelic “Sooth Lady Wine”. Exactly what the rest of the album will hold remains to be seen but you can be pretty sure Matt Corby’s amazing voice and solid song writing will shine through.

Matthew and the Atlas
Matthew and the Atlas

Another artist that has been too quiet for too long UK nu-folkers Matthew and the Atlas revealed their new song “Elijah” earlier this month with the news they’d been in the studio late last year. We don’t have any more details on what will be the result of those recording sessions but if you’ve heard “Elijah” you’ll be very very excited.

Radical Face
Radical Face

After almost a decade American artist Radical Face will finally release the third album in his The Family Tree trilogy this March. Radical Face first crossed our path when “Welcome Home” was used for a Nikon commercial a few years back and I’ve devoured everything since. The one track we’ve heard from The Family Tree: Leaves is “The Road To Nowhere” which sees Radical Face up the ante production wise boding well for the rest of the record.

Rowena Wise
Rowena Wise

There was so much buzz surrounding Rowena Wise’s solo music last year which seemed to die down somewhat as she ducked into the studio to record an album. Now there are some rumblings of a return with Rowena Wise and her new band The Guys booking gigs in February. Prepare to have Rowena Wise win your heart all over again.

The Timbers
The Timbers

Adelaide’s kings of the folk-stomp The Timbers will be releasing their first true studio album Restless in February and are following up with a huge national tour. These guys have built a reputation as an amazing live band and are set to become a festival favourite as they jump from Port Fairy to The National and beyond.

Gareth Hugh Evans’ Top 25 Tracks of 2015

2015

Ok, so we have one final best of list to round out the week and then I promise you we’re done. Our illustrious Editor in Chief Gareth Hugh Evans has sifted through the wealth of music that’s been released this year and whittled it down to his top 25 tracks of 2015. Some of these are album tracks that haven’t been released as singles, some are singles from albums that were released last year and at least one or two have only seen light as live versions – but one thing that’s certain is that this is a pretty good snapshot of all of the music we’ve been loving throughout the year.

So without further ado please enjoy Gareth Hugh Evans’ Top 25 Tracks of 2015.

1. Sufjan Stevens – “Should Have Known Better”
While I loved the direction that Sufjan Stevens took with his Age of Adz album, when “Should Have Known Better” dropped earlier this year I almost wept. This was Stevens leaning back into to his acoustic roots without denying where his sound has evolved in recent years (the electronic middle eight in the track is a nice nod to Age of Adz). Despite the heavy subject matter of the track (“When I was three, three maybe four, She left us at that video store”) it is overwhelmingly uplifting and I can’t help but smile as I let the melody wash over me. It’s good to have you back Sufjan!

2. John Flanagan – “The Last of the Cassette Men”
A core element of “folk music” as an overarching genre is the story song and John Flanagan has written the best story song of the year, recounting the time Flanagan was tasked with driving his songwriting hero Paul Kelly to a show. John Flanagan’s easygoing, personal narrative style works perfectly in this track, almost aping the songwriting style of Kelly without descending into parody. With this track John Flanagan has proven himself a songwriting force to keep an eye on.

3. Packwood – “All Smoke Must Find Its Way Home”
With four EPs released this year there’s a wealth new Packwood material to choose from, but I can’t help but come back to “All Smoke Must Find Its Way Home”, his first single from 2015. The track is everything I want from a Packwood song – soaring melodies, delicate finger-picked guitar, orchestral arrangements (including a choir!) and Bayden Hine’s vulnerable vocal style. Another work of genius from Australia’s king of chamber folk.

4. Patrick James – “Bugs”
“Bugs” has been a standard of Patrick James’ live set for much of his career, including his time as a busker, but it’s only in 2015 that it’s been released as a single thanks to his debut album Outlier. What makes “Bugs” such a great song is hands down the chorus: a catchy, loopy piece of music that always stimulates a sing along. With live versions of “Bugs” available on the internet for years now I’m glad James has not gone crazy on the production of this track, keeping the arrangement subtle and familiar.

5. The Morrisons – “Wild Eleanor”
Despite being probably the most recognisable Bluegrass band in Sydney the amount of recorded music available from The Morrisons is pretty light on the ground. Which is why I’m so chuffed they’ve chosen to record and release one of my favourite of their tracks, “Wild Eleanor”. The frantic single shows off just how skilled each of the members of The Morrisons are. And yes, I even like the hokey clip shot at Sydney’s Hibernian House.

6. Laura Marling – “False Hope”
This is Laura Marling’s Dylan-going-electric moment. When “False Hope” hit earlier this year the first thing that fans noted was just how rock driven it was- Marling has swapped the acoustic guitar for a choppy electric and surrounded herself with a traditional rock lineup. But Laura Marling’s lyrical style and vocals shine through – you know this song is unmistakably a Laura Marling track despite the instrumentation and for that reason alone it’s something special.

7. Kate Burke & Ruth Hazleton – “Waly Waly”
I was trying to put my finger on what it is about “Waly Waly” that stands out for me on the excellent album Declaration from Kate Burke & Ruth Hazleton and it hit me – about halfway through the song Ruth Hazleton brings in this minor led banjo lick that just, well, grooves. It’s that lick, and the minor arrangement over the chorus, that gets my toe tapping and my head bobbing every time. It’s not often that you mention the word “groove” in reference to a Child Ballad but that’s how clever Declaration from Kate Burke & Ruth Hazleton are.

8. Mumford & Sons – “Ditmas”
“But this is all I ever was, And this is all you came across those years ago, Now you go too far, Don’t tell me that I’ve changed because that’s not the truth, And now I’m losing you”. Could this be the catchiest chorus of 2015? Forget that Mumford & Sons ditched the banjo and the acoustic guitar – what they’ve created in “Ditmas” is the perfect Mumford & Sons song. Restrained verses, blistering choruses and lyrics you want to sing along to at the top of your lungs.

9. The Paper Kites – “A Silent Cause”
To be honest “Electric Indigo” has been the track on highest rotation from twelvefour for me this year, but every time I’m listening to the album from start to finish I always have to go back and listen to “A Silent Cause” again and again. It’s such a simple song – lead vocals, guitar and subtle vocal harmonies – but it’s just mesmerising. It’s a nod to The Paper Kites’ earlier work and there’s a real Paul Simon feel to the way its been written. “A Silent Cause” has not (yet) been released as a single from twelvefour but it’s definitely the standout for me.

10. Fanny Lumsden – “Soapbox”
Fanny Lumsden’s incredibly catchy single “Soapbox” is the driving force behind the success of her album Small Town Big Shot. The track’s driving back-beat courtesy of the clapping percussion drives the song forward and that banjo riff is so hum worthy. I love how crisp Lumsden’s vocals are on this track – you get to follow the narrative elements of the song without having to distance yourself from the rest of the instrumentation. It’s a great track to see live as well!

11. William Fitzsimmons – “Pittsburgh”
There’s such a lean-in quality to William Fitzsimmons’ voice – it’s so delicate over the top of his acoustic guitar and the result is beautiful. The album version of this song is supplemented by subtle piano, electric guitar and backing vocals but if you’ve managed to hear any of the live versions floating around Youtube you’ll know just how good this song is with just Fitzsimmons and his guitar.

12. Matt Corby – “Monday”
The first new music from Matt Corby in quite a while ends up being classic Matt Corby. That layered, looped vocal and hand percussion. The blues inspired melody. That voice. It’s good to have you back Matt Corby.

13. Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats – “S.O.B.”
The transformation of Nathaniel Rateliff from sensitive acoustic singer-songwriter to full blown gospel-blues master has been one of the unexpected joys of 2015. Together with his outstanding band The Night Sweats, Rateliff released one of the year’s catchiest tunes in “S.O.B.” complete with a Blue Brothers inspired video.

14. Bellowhead – “Roll Alabama”
Bellowhead tempered the news that they’d be wrapping things up this year with the release of their new single “Roll Alabama”. The track is filled with Bellowhead’s usual bombast but also manages to balance this with fine arrangement – at no point is the song overwhelmed by the instrumentation. The clip for “Roll Alabama” is a loving ode to Bellowhead as a live band, making me wish they’d made the trip to Australia at least once.

15. The East Pointers – “The Drift”
I love that the tenor banjo, after being maligned by its five stringed cousin in recent years, is making a bit of a resurgence. And Canadian trio The East Pointers are leading the tenor banjo charge. I love the way “The Drift” plays with tempos and instrumentation, building and dropping throughout, providing texture to the traditionally inspired music. A highlight from Secret Victory which is stuffed full of amazing tracks.

16. Yetis – “Luckiest Guy Alive”
Yetis were another band that we said goodbye to in 2015 but who left us with an amazing goodbye track. “Luckiest Guy Alive” is beautiful – five part harmonies over a solo piano – and it just seems to sore. I’m not sure Yetis every really reached their full potential and I would have loved to have seen more from them before they went their seperate ways – but “Luckiest Guy Alive” is a nice way to say goodbye.

17. Boy & Bear – “Walk the Wire”
Boy & Bear have embraced the 70s and early 80s on their new album Limit of Love and the greatest example of this is “Walk the Wire”. Embracing synths and crisp guitars, “Walk the Wire” still has that undeniable Boy & Bear groove to bop your head along to. The video is also hilarious – don’t just listen to this track on YouTube in the backgound, make sure you give it your full attention.

18. Ruby Boots – “Wrap Me In A Fever”
No this is country music. Ruby Boots’ big voice just powers through this track as the drums shuffle, the steel guitar twangs and an organ adds just a touch of class. “Wrap Me In A Fever” is a song full of heartbreak and lonliness but Ruby Boots also imbues a sense of strength into it with her big voice.

19. Gurrumul & Paul Kelly – “Amazing Grace”
The moment I heard that Gurrumul was turning his voice to gospel music for his latest album my first thought was “why hasn’t anyone thought of this before?”. The fact that he’s joined by Paul Kelly on possibly the most iconic gospel song of all time is just incredible. Here are two artists at their best breathing life into a classic and reinventing it for an Australian audience.

20. Passenger – “Fools Gold”
The ever prolific Passenger this year released an album (Whispers II) and then a series of videos for brand new songs that were shot while he toured the world. To be honest I could have picked any number of the songs that Passenger released this year but this is the one that stuck in my head. The song is textbook Passenger – delicate vocals over finger-picked guitar – but that little lick at the start and the “Hey-ey-ey” of the chorus are what gives “Fools Gold” the ear-worm quality.

21. Josh Pyke – “Hollering Hearts”
From the opening ukulele to the “oh oh oh” backing vocals there’s something insanely catchy about this song. No one quite writes folk-flavoured pop music like Josh Pyke and “Hollering Hearts” is pretty much a perfect Josh Pyke tune. I’m not sure how I feel about the lyric video (if you’re going to go to that much effort animating it why not just make a video?) but at the end of the day this is all about the music.

22. Falls – “When We Were Young”
I chose to post the live version of this song purely for the nostalgia of it. This is Falls performing at the Hotel Hollywood in Sydney during one of their rare visits back to our shores – and for these guys this is where it all started. I love how infectious this song is, almost willing you to clap along and stomp your feet. Of all the new material on Omaha this is the track that really captured me – I feel like it’s the bridge between their Hollywood EP and the tracks they’ve been writing since they’ve relocated to the USA.

23. Sam Amidon – “Blue Mountains”
“Blue Mountains” is not taken from Sam Amidon’s 2015 album of home and field recordings Home Alone Inside My Head but is rather the final single from his amazing 2014 record Lily-O. This is Amidon at his most coherent and accessible – the track has a pretty conservative structure and vocal line which is something he’s not always known for. I love the 6/8 drum beat that comes in about half way through this song giving it that extra drive, and of course Amidon’s meandering fiddle lines are just beautiful.

24. We Banjo 3 feat. Sharon Shannon – “The Fox”
This is traditional music at its most polished, with none of the rough edges you’ll find on other versions of this classic track. But that’s not a bad thing – We Banjo 3 have perfectly captured the rollicking fun of “The Fox”. Strangely Sharon Shannon’s accordion seems to be relegated to the back of the mix until they break into the reel two thirds of the way through (known as “Clumsy Lover” for those of you playing at home) – but I guess that’s why this is We Banjo 3 featuring Sharon Shannon and not the other way around.

25. Nick Payne – “Old Sydney Town”
I’ve had the pleasure of watching Nick Payne workshopping his convict folk song at jam sessions and festivals over the past 18 months and what he’s managed to capture on tape is pretty bang on what you’ll get live. I love the old time feel of this track and the fine group of musicians he’s managed to amass to accompany him (including many members of his band Dear Orphans) elevate the song to another level. I love the “behind the music” style of the video as well – very nice.

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