Timber and Steel’s Top Albums of 2017

Merle

It’s difficult to find an overriding theme in our picks for this year’s top albums. There’s a bit of trad in there, a lot of singer-songwriter and a decent amount Americana and country music. Overall 2017 has been another amazing year for folk music and we couldn’t be happier.

As always we have more “best of” lists coming this week so please stay tuned for them. But in the meantime check out Timber and Steel’s top albums of

Offa Rex
1. Offa RexThe Queen of Hearts
When you get nostalgia right the result can be pure gold. As someone who was brought up on late-60s/early-70s English folk-rock (think Fairport Convention, Steeleye Span, Pentangle, etc) The Queen of Hearts feels like home and, as my friends and family can attest, the album has truly been on constant rotation since its release in July.

Offa Rex is the coming together of Portland nu-folk heroes The Decemberists and English folk-singer Olivia Chaney, inspired by the second-wave folk revival of the British isles. Somehow they’ve managed to capture this very distinct period of music, staying true to the instrumentation, production values and aesthetic of the time without descending into kitsch or parody (as many of the bands from the time ended up doing themselves in the 70s and 80s). Rigid rock rhythm sections over murder ballads, harpsichords and reverb-heavy electric guitars, ethereal vocals – The Queen of Hearts feels more like a rediscovered gem than an album recorded and released in 2017.

And let’s make one thing clear – it’s Olivia Chaney who makes this record. While The Decemberists are obviously the driving force behind The Queen of Hearts it is Chaney’s vocals that pull you right back into the early 70s. She somehow channels the likes of Maddy Prior, Sandy Denny, Anne Briggs, et al, while still bringing her own unique sound to the vocals. The tracks where Colin Meloy takes the lead (such as “Black Leg Minor”) or the instrumental “Constant Billy (Oddington) / I’ll Go Enlist (Sherborne)”, while still amazing in their own right, just don’t have the same impact as “The Queen of Hearts”, “Flash Company”, “The Old Churchyard” or any of the other amazing songs with Olivia Chaney front and centre.

Picking favourite songs from an album of standouts is very very hard. I love the nods to early Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath on “Sheepcrook and Black Dog”, probably the most epic of all the songs on the album. “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” is a beautiful tribute to Anne Briggs, with Chaney’s voice just resonating over the drone of a harmonium. And Offa Rex’s version of “Willie o’ Winsbury” may be my favourite of all time.

Even if you only have a passing interest in British folk music, in the second wave folk revival or in The Decemberists’ ongoing evolution as one of the most interesting folk bands in the world, give The Queen of Hearts a listen and see exactly why this is our album of the year for 2017.

The East Pointers
2. The East PointersWhat We Leave Behind
Canadian trio The East Pointers up the production ante with their new album What We Leave Behind, expanding their sound with new instrumentation, increasing their song-to-tune ratio and generally producing one of the most interesting folk albums of the year. And the best part about it is there’s still a focus on ensuring that every bit of the album can be reproduced live with just the three of them – something I can confirm is the case having caught them in Melbourne recently. What We Leave Behind sees The East Pointers grow as a band, deftly straddling the worlds of traditional and modern fold music.

The Ahern Brothers
3. The Ahern BrothersThe Ahern Brothers
Josh Rennie-Hynes and Steve Grady are two voices that seem destined to be together. The Ahern Brothers are the latest in collection of modern artists taking inspiration from close harmony singing in the vein of The Everly Brothers and Simon & Garfunkel and the result is really something special. Their self-titled debut album is a pure delight and elevates everything we’ve heard from Rennie-Hynes and Grady individually to date. There’s a reason these guys are selling out shows and taking the country by storm.

Fanny Lumsden
4. Fanny LumsdenReal Class Act
Fanny Lumsden continues her domination of Australian country music with the 2017 release of Real Class Act. The album is very strongly informed by Lumsden’s decision to live her life on the road with husband Dan Stanley Freeman rather than opting for the relative comfort of a major Australian city (where, let’s be honest, the vast majority of Australia’s country music is produced), and you can really hear the expanse of our wide brown land all over the album. With each release Fanny Lumsden’s songwriting just gets better and better, adding a modern sensibility to a genre that all to often falls into cliche or nostalgia. Real Class Act is what Australian country music should be about.

The Morrisons
5. The MorrisonsThe Morrisons
Australia’s premiere bluegrass and alt-country band The Morrisons released their long-awaited and highly anticipated debut album this year and it has fast become one of my favourite album’s of ever. No one quite takes such a quintessentially American genre like bluegrass and passes it through the Australian lens in the way The Morrisons do. And it doesn’t hurt that individually each of The Morrisons is a master of their respective instrument making the album as technically brilliant as it is artistically brilliant.

Willie Watson
6. Willie WatsonFolksinger Vol. 2
Willie Watson’s exploration of America’s rich vein of traditional folk music continues with the second volume in his Folksinger series. Somehow he finds a way to take traditional and vintage folk and blues songs and modernise them without losing what makes them great songs to begin with. Watson treats this material with respect and reverance, almost taking a step back and letting each song speak for itself. When Willie Watson left Old Crow Medicine Show he expressed a desire to find a softer side of the folk genre, and that’s something he’s truly captured with Folksinger Vol. 2.

All Our Exes Live In Texas
7. All Our Exes Live In TexasWhen We Fall
Taking out this year’s ARIA for Best Blues and Roots Album was just the icing on the cake for what has been a massive year for All Our Exes Live In Texas. When We Fall is an album of fine songwriting, pitch perfect production and a true celebration of the four part harmony. Elana Stone, Katie Wighton, Hannah Crofts and Georgia Mooney each bring a unique set of influences and musical styles to All Our Exes Live In Texas which somehow all blend together into something sublime. With the momentum on When We Fall expect All Our Exes Live In Texas to continue crushing it into 2018 and beyond

Laura Marling
8. Laura MarlingSemper Femina
Laura Marling goes deep on her exploration of the feminine and what it means to be a female artist. It’s amazing to watch Marling grow with every album she releases while never really losing track of what drew us all to her in the first place – beautifully written songs and masterful guitar work. Laura Marling truly is one of the greatest artists of our generation.

Charlie Fink
9. Charlie FinkCover My Tracks
My love for Cover My Tracks one hundred per cent stems from my nostalgia for Noah and The Whale’s 2009 concept album The First Days of Spring. Charlie Fink revisits the style and feeling from The First Days of Spring throughout his 2017 solo outing and it’s a welcome return to form for a songwriter that had definitely strayed a little far from his strengths towards the end of Noah and The Whale’s time, prefering a Springsteen-light pop sound to substantial, heart-on-his-sleeve songwriting. The album is raw, emotional, beautiful and heartbreaking – everything I want from a Charlie Fink record.

Packwood
10. PackwoodVertumnus
The culmination four seasonally focused EPs from the last couple of years, Vertumnus is a beautiful opus to the natural world. Packwood’s unique brand of chamber folk has reached its pinnacle with this record, filled with lush compositions and stunning musicianship. Bayden Hyne, along with his arrangers Tilman Robinson (orchestral) and Miriam Crellin (choral) have pefectly crafted each track on Vertumnus making the most of choirs, strings, pianos, finger-picked guitars and banjos and more to compliment Packwood’s trademark fragile vocal style. Taking this work out of the studio and onto the stage is an expensive undertaking but I still hold out hope that we’ll see Vertumnus live before too long.

Kasey Chambers
11. Kasey ChambersDragonfly
Kasey Chambers mixes things up on her latest double album working with two different producers – Paul Kelly and Nash Chambers – and collaborating with a diverse range of artists from multiple genres, resulting in one of her most interesting releases in recent years.

David Rawlings
12. David RawlingsPoor David’s Almanack
David Rawlings and Gillian Welch find a way to write original Americana songs that sound like traditional songs that have been re-discovered and updated for a modern audience – and why can’t I get “Money is the Meat in the Coconut” out of my head?

Billy Bragg
13. Billy BraggBridges Not Walls
Billy Bragg returns to his activist roots on this EP with his electric guitar turned up and his wit as sharp as ever.

Lisa Mitchell
14. Lisa MitchellWhen They Play That Song
Out of no where Australia’s queen of indie-folk delivers the sweetest covers EP of the year, with quirky takes on 90s favourites from Phantom Planet, Spice Girls, Placebo, Letters To Cleo and The Cardigans

Timothy James Bowen
15. Timothy James BowenBloom
Bloom bookends a couple of years of massive upheaval in Timothy James Bowen’s life, while capturing an artist at the peak of his powers as a singer and songwriter.

Husky
16. HuskyPunchbuzz
Husky continue to push the boundaries of their indie-folk sound with an album that borrows as much from eighties pop as it does from lyric-driven singer-songwriter music.

BATTS
17. BATTS62 Moons
Moving away from her electro-folk roots toward a stripped back sound has proven a success for BATTS who’s delivered an EP of really stunning songs.

Gretta Ziller
18. Gretta ZillerQueen of Boomtown
Gretta Ziller has delivered one of the best Americana albums of the year that deserves all the nominations, awards and accolades it will no doubt continue to receive over the coming months

Paul Kelly
19. Paul KellyLife Is Fine
After a couple of genre projects Paul Kelly returns with his most Paul Kelly album in recent memory, further cementing him as Australia’s greatest living songwriter.

Nick Mulvey
20. Nick MulveyWake Up Now
The English singer-songwriter continues to produce interesting, acoustic driven indie music full of weird guitar tunings, multi-tracked vocals and songs just waiting to hit a Hollywood soundtrack.

Emily Barker
21. Emily BarkerSweet Kind of Blue
Emily Barker deftly combines country, blues and folk styles, harkening back to a tradition while still producing a sound that is fresh and engaging.

Stu Larsen
22. Stu LarsenResolute
Australia’s favourite troubadour produces another album of straight up singer-songwriter gems documenting his travels around the world.

Lankum
23. LankumBetween The Earth & Sky
Lankum, the band formally known as Lynched, are producing some of the most raw traditional Irish music going around, complete with the thickest Dublin accent you’re likely to hear this year.

Old Crow Medicine Show
24. Old Crow Medicine Show50 Years Of Blonde On Blonde
Old Crow Medicine Show pay homage to Dylan with this live stringband version of the classic Blonde On Blonde

Johnny Flynn
25. Johnny FlynnSillion
An absolute gem of an album that sees Johnny Flynn’s distinctive voice and resonator front and centre, but a willingness to play with production a bit more than previous releases, adding more texture and nuance to each of the tracks.

Charlie Fink (Noah and The Whale) Announces Solo Album

Charlie Fink
Image Courtesy of Charlie Fink

When we first started Timber and Steel way back when Noah and The Whale were one of a handful of nu-folk bands we wanted the world to know about. In the years since Noah and The Whale drifted away from their folk roots and eventually disbanded back in 2013.

Now Noah and The Whale lead-singer Charlie Fink has returned with the announcement of his debut solo album Cover My Tracks.

“What does 10 years of being in a touring band give you permission to do afterwards?” Charlie Fink said of Noah and The Whale’s breakup. “If you decide you want a break from music, it’s not a great CV item. But the really scary thing was that at that moment I didn’t feel passionate about wanting to write.”

As well as being an album Cover My Tracks is also a play by the award-winning playwright David Greig, which will debut in London this June. The album is being likened to Noah and The Whale’s second (and in my opinion most outstanding) record The First Days of Spring in its delicate, yet expansive narrative.

“I think the sound of this record is the natural place I go to when I pick up a guitar,” Fink says. “The idea of simple, storytelling songs appealed to me. I feel like we could have followed up The First Days of Spring quite naturally with this record.”

Cover My Tracks is set to be released on the 2nd June and will feature string arrangements by Trey Pollard (Natalie Prass, Matthew White), backing vocals from The Staves, and the acclaimed classical guitarist Laura Snowden.

Check out the full track listing and the first single “Firecracker” below:

1. Firecracker
2. Anywhere You’re Going Is On My Way
3. I Was Born To Be A Cowboy
4. The End Of The Legendary Hearts
5. Give Me The Road
6. Orpheus Is Playing The Troubadour
7. The Howl
8. I’m Through
9. Someone Above Me Tonight
10. Here Is Where We’ll Meet
11. Firecracker Pt II
12.

Thank Folk It’s Friday – 9th January

TFIF

This Week in Folk

All the News From The Week That Was

Lachlan Bryan and Aleyce Simmonds have announced a collaborative east coast tour. Details here

– US singer-songwriter Sean Rowe covered “1952 Vincent Black Lightning”. Details here

– Melbourne alt-country band The Wild Comforts released their new album Silver City Sorrow this week and are heading out on tour. Details here

– Sydney’s Darren Cross released his new video “And The New York Rain Came Down”. Details here

The Pigs announced details of their new album The Pigs’ Home Brew: 13 Aussie Classics as well as releasing the video for the track “Devil Inside”. Details here

– Brisbane alt-folk quartet Elbury released their brand new video “Caught Out Alone”. Details here

Nova and The Experience released their new video “We Made” from their brand new EP Where We Go. Details here

– Perth singer Husband released his new video “The Money”. Details here

– US Americana singer-songwriter Ryan Bingham has announced a new album, Fear and Saturday Night. Details here

– Next week will see The Wild Wild Inner West Review hitting sydney featuring Michael Carpenter & The Cuban Heels, Amber Rae Slade, Fanny Lumsden and Chris Murphy. Details here

– Watch “Home”, the new single from young sister duo Charm of Finches. Details here

– Melbourne singer-songwriter Alanna Eileen is set to launch her new EP Absence next weekend. Details here

– Folk-blues artist Seasick Steve has announced details of his new album due this March. Details here

– Perth based singer-songwriter Joel Barker kicks off his national tour in Sydney tonight. Details here

Jim Lawrie (now without the Grizzly prefix) gave us a taste of his upcoming album EONS. Details here

Interviews

“We always make a new setlist for each concert, and for festivals we usually add quite a few up-tempo tunes to fire up under the dancers”Afenginn chats to Gareth Hugh Evans. Interview here

“Festival shows are always a bit special- the audiences are always a bit excited because there’s been a lot of word of mouth about us, and they’ve read about us in the program. There’s always the opportunity to bring guests up on stage too, which we haven’t had much chance to do in 2014. But ultimately I think we are always a bit excited to be at a festival and that boosts the energy of the set. We’re all festival babies and ge a buzz from the babel of culture at a big gathering- the music, food, seeing people we haven’t seen in ages- meeting new ones”Stray Hens chat to Gareth Hugh Evans. Interview here

“At Illawarra this year I will be concentrating on my audio-visual presentation The Anzacs: 100 Years On. It runs for 75-80 minutes and Nerys (Evans) and I do it together. I present, she presses the buttons. There is a great deal of audience participation and even reluctant singers find themselves joining in. Was that me singing??? I think I do Anzacs twice at Illawarra and have a couple of other “concert spots” as well. Looking forward to it as usual”Ted Egan chats to Gareth Hugh Evans. Interview here

“We are really looking forward to 2015. More touring is on the cards; new songs and a new album are on the way. Plenty of gigs and good times to be had for sure”Big Erle chats to Gareth Hugh Evans. Interview here

Blog

“I had probably my most memorable NYE a few years ago in the then Duck and Shovel, at a Beatles Singalong of all things, but this year, it was a case of same venue, completely different music on offer” – bring in the New Year again with the Woodford Folk Festival, Black Market Tune and Bill Quinn here

“I was like an excited 10yo boy. Heightening the experience just behind me was an almost two year old who was in paroxysm and frissons of delight and was joining in, improve-style, during the choral bits. Wonderful. An absolutely stunning achievement” – Bill Quinn enlightens us on the Woodford Folk Festival Fire Event. Check it out here

Releases This Week

Nova
Where We GoNova and the Experience
iTunes

The Wild Comforts
Silver City SorrowThe Wild Comforts
Bandcamp

Timber and Steel Recommends – Go To This Gig

Cygnet Folk Festival

Cygnet

Tassie’s little festival has become a must stop for many touring folk musicians and this year’s lineup is spectacular including Afenginn, Black Market Tune, Charm of Finches, Dan and Amy, Daniel Champagne, Dear Orphans, Fred Smith, John Smith, Lucy Wise, The BordererS, The Company, The East Pointers, The Mae Trio, The Spooky Men’s Chorale, The String Contingent and many many more.

Friday 9th to Sunday 11th January – Cygnet, TAS

Gigs Next Week

Archie Roach
Saturday 10th January – The Aurora, Sydney, NSW
Sunday 11th January – The Aurora, Sydney, NSW

Black Market Tune w/ Folklore
Friday 9th to Sunday 11th – Cygnet Folk Festival, TAS
Tuesday 13th January – Gaelic Club, Sydney, NSW
Wednesday 14th January – Smith’s Alternative, Canberra, ACT
Friday 16th to Sunday 18th January – Illawarra Folk Festival, Bulli, NSW

Charm of Finches
Friday 9th to Sunday 11th January – Cygnet Folk Festival, TAS

Cygnet Folk Festival
Friday 9th to Sunday 11th January – Cygnet, TAS

Debashish Bhattacharya
Thursday 15th January – City Recital Hall Angel Place, Sydney, NSW

Illawarra Folk Festival
Thursday 15th to Sunday 18th January – Bulli, NSW

Jessica Pratt
Saturday 10th January – The Famous Spiegeltent, Sydney, NSW

Joel Barker
Friday 9th January – Oxford Arts Factory, Sydney, NSW
Thursday 15th January – Bar 303, Melbourne, VIC
Friday 16th January – Smiths Alternative, Canberra, ACT

John Smith
Friday 9th to Sunday 11th January – Cygnet Folk Festival, Cygnet, TAS

Kim Churchill
Thursday 15th January – The Corner, Melbourne, VIC
Friday 16th January – The Abbey, Canberra, ACT

Lachlan Bryan w/ Jack Henderson, Sam York, Aleyce Simmonds
Wednesday 14th January – Lizottes, Newcastle, NSW
Thursday 15th January – Lizottes, Kincumber, NSW

Olivia Chaney
Sunday 11th January – The Famous Spiegeltent, Sydney, NSW

Paper Lions
Friday 9th January – Northcote Social Club, Melbourne, VIC
Saturday 10th January – Transit, Canberra, ACT

Passenger
Friday 16th January – Theatre Royal, Hobart, TAS

Slow Club
Thursday 15th January – Northcote Social Club, Melbourne, VIC
Friday 16th January – Black Bear Lodge, Brisbane, QLD

Tamar Valley Folk Festival
Friday 16th to Sunday 18th January – George Town, TAS

Tamworth Country Music Festival
Friday 16th to Sunday 25th January – Tamworth, NSW

The East Pointers w/ The Button Collective
Wednesday 14th January – Gaelic Club, Sydney, NSW

The Melbourne Folk Club feat. David Francey, James Kenyon, Lucy Wise
Wednesday 14th January – Bella Union, Melbourne, VIC

The Wild Comforts
Friday 9th January – Babushka Bar, Ballarat, VIC
Saturday 10th January – The Bridge Hotel, Castlemaine, VIC
Thursday 15th January – Brighton Up Bar, Sydney, NSW

The Wild Wild Inner West feat. Michael Carpenter & The Cuban Heels, Amber Rae Slade, Fanny Lumsden, Chris Murphy
Thursday 15th January – The Vanguard, Sydney, NSW

Thredbo Blues Festival
Friday 16th to Sunday 18th January – Thredbo, NSW

Tim Edey
Friday 9th and Saturday 10th January – Cygnet Folk Festival, TAS
Thursday 15th to Sunday 18th January – Illawarra Folk Festival, Bulli, NSW

Tiny Ruins
Friday 16th January – The Aurora, Sydney, NSW

Upstairs & Underground feat. Betty & Oswald, Jacob Pearson, Caitlin Harnett, Goodtimes She Wrote
Saturday 10th January – Gaelic Club, Sydney, NSW

Friday Folk Flashback

“Shape of My Heart” – Noah And The Whale

Noah and the Whale were always going to move away from their acoustic roots so much so that we haven’t covered their latest album Heart of Nowhere anywhere on Timber and Steel. But we still love the music these guys make and we’re sure you do too!

Thank Folk It’s Friday – 8th February

TFIF

This Week in Folk

All the News From The Week That Was

Passenger revealed his latest new track, “Staring at the Sky”, in a live video featuring Stu Larsen and the legendary Ruby Turner. Details here

Wes Carr (or Buffalo Tales as he calls himself these days) hit the road this week for a tour of Victoria, Queensland and Northern New South Wales. Details here

– Sydney duo The Falls need your help to get to North America in March for Canadian Music Week and SXSW. Details here

– Some more details on the upcoming album from American folk-rock band Dawes have been revealed. Details here

– Award winning singer-songwriter Melody Pool will be launching her brand new album The Hurting Scene this month. Details here

– The new video from Woodpigeon, “Edinburgh”, from their upcoming album Thumbtacks and Glue hot the internet this week. Details here

– Singer-songwriters Jack Carty and Jordan Millar are hitting the road together for a massive national tour this March, April and May. Details here

– The shortlist for this year’s Australian Music Prize has been announced with acoustic/folk entries from Jess Ribeiro, Liz Stringer and Grand Salvo. Details here

The Tiger and Me have released “Made it to the Harbour”, the latest single from their album The Drifters Dawn. Details here

– A couple of tracks from the upcoming Anaïs Mitchell and Jefferson Hamer album Child Ballads have found their way online. Details here

Noah and the Whale have announced plans to release their forth studio album, titled Heart of Nowhere, this May. Details here

Jordie Lane is rolling a bunch of support slots, festival appearances and headline shows into a massive tour starting this March. Details here

FrogFest, Sydney’s mini-festival of progressive folk and roots music, has announced its 2013 lineup including The Barons of Tang, Takadimi, GrandMasterMonk and Dave Bova Band: Divina Commedia. Details here

– Swedish trio Junip have revealed a bunch of details about their upcoming self titled album including the album art, track list and a teaser video. Details here

Sally Seltmann will be performing shows in Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney this March to road test material for a new album. Details here

Turin Brakes have announced a single Sydney sideshow when they’re in the country for Gum Ball. Details here

The Lumineers have changed the venue of their sold out Sydney show to The Enmore and released more tickets. The Falls have been named in the support slot for the entire tour. Details here

Brighter Later have released their new video “Come and Go” featuring footage from 1970s wildlife documentaries. Details here

– Former Charlie Mayfair front man Dave Di Marco has just released the second single, “Unfold”, from his upcoming debut solo EP Deep and Down These Walls and announced an east coast tour in March. Details here

Interviews

“Three of us are kind of the core band – that’s myself, Arlene Fletcher who plays double and electric bass and Megan Bernard on electric guitar. And then we’ve just gotten a drummer join us as well and he’s coming on all the legs of the tour except for South Australia – his name is Jordan Lockett. We’ve kind of evolved a little bit. I used to play as a solo, then it was a duo, then back to a solo. I recorded the album just myself with lots of guests – then for the launch I put together the full band and we played together for about eight months as a five piece. Then we’ve just had a bit of a lineup change in the last couple of months. I think it’s kind of found its natural settling of people who can be on the road a bit more” – Sophie Klein from Little Wise chats to Gareth Hugh Evans. Interview here

Reviews

Recordings

“Those afraid of a post-greatest-hits-lull will be disappointed, as this collaboration with master harmonica player Charlie Musselwhite carves out new sonic territory for Harper and contains some great songs to boot”Mackajay reviews Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite’s new album Get Up!. Review here

Releases This Week

Eli Wolfe
Perfect MomentEli Wolfe
iTunes

Timber and Steel Presents

Little Wise
Little Wise
Friday 8th February – The Singing Gallery, McLaren Vale, SA
Saturday 9th February – The Wheatsheaf Hotel, Adelaide, SA
Sunday 10th February – The Old Mount Cambier Gaol, Mount Gambier, SA
Thursday 14th February – The Retreat, Brunswick, VIC
Friday 15th February – The Loft, Warrnambool, VIC

Nick and Liesl
Nick & Liesl w/ Evan & Mischa and Lucy Wise
Sunday 10th February – The Workers Club, Melbourne, VIC

Gigs Next Week

Brett Winterford
Saturday 9th February – Upfront Club, Maleny, QLD

Chaika
Friday 8th February – Open Studio, Melbourne, VIC
Saturday 9th February – House Concert, Melbourne, VIC
Friday 15th February – The Merry Muse, Canberra, ACT

Deer Tick with Two Gallants
Friday 8th February – The Annandale, Sydney, NSW
Saturday 9th February – Northcote Social Club, Melbourne, VIC
Tuesday 12th February – International Arts Festival, Perth, WA

Don’t Mention The Wall
Friday 8th February – Gunnedah, NSW
Saturday 9th February – Uralla Arts, NSW
Sunday 10th February – Bellingen, NSW
Thursday 14th February – Congo, NSW (house concert)
Friday 15th February – River Music Folk, Nowra, NSW

Donavon Frankenreiter
Friday 8th February – Caves House Hotel, Yallingup, WA
Saturday 9th February – The Ocean Beach Hotel, Perth, WA
Saturday 9th February – Breakwater Hotel, Perth WA
Saturday 9th February – Ocean One Bar, Perth, WA
Sunday 10th February – Whistling Kite, Perth, WA
Friday 15th February – Woolshed Pub, Melbourne, VIC
Friday 15th February – Prince Of Wales, Melbourne, VIC

Julia Stone with Vance Joy
Thursday 14th February – St Stephen’s Uniting Church, Sydney, NSW
Friday 15th February – St John’s Cathedral, Brisbane, QLD

Justin Townes Earle with Robert Ellis
Friday 8th February – Heritage Hotel, Bulli, NSW
Saturday 9th February – Milton Theatre, Milton, NSW
Sunday 10th February – Annandale Hotel, Sydney, NSW
Wednesday 13th February – Lizottes, Newcastle, NSW
Friday 15th February – Capitol Theatre, Tamworth, NSW

Mustered Courage with Bill Jackson & Pete Fidler
Thursday 14th February – The Wesley Anne, Melbourne, VIC

Nick and Liesl
Saturday 9th February – Pure Pop Recordsm, St Kilda, VIC
Sunday 10th February – The Workers Club, Melbourne, VIC

Rory McLeod
Friday 8th February – Harvester Moon, Bellarine, Vic
Saturday 9th February – Spotted Mallard, Melbourne, Vic

Ruby Boots
Friday 8th February – Baha Taco, Rye, VIC
Saturday 9th February – The Workers Club, Melbourne, VIC
Friday 15 February – Perth International Arts Festival Gardens, Perth, WA

Sarah Blasko
Saturday 9th February – Queensland Performing Arts Centre, Brisbane, QLD
Thursday 14th February – Hamer Hall, Melbourne, VIC

The April Maze
Saturday 9th February – Kuranda Ampitheatre, Kuranda, QLD
Thursday 14th February – Townsville Folk Club, Townsville, QLD

The Wooden Music Festival feat. The Perch Creek Family Jug Band, The Quarry Mountain Dead Rats, The Bearded Gypsy Band
Friday 8th February – Diggers Club, Wollongong, NSW
Saturday 9th February -The Vanguard, Sydney, NSW
Sunday 10th February – The Clarendon Guesthouse, Katoombe, NSW
Friday 15th February – Beetle Bar, Brisbane, QLD

Wes Carr
Friday 8th February – The Brewery, Byron Bay, NSW
Saturday 9th February – The Loft, Gold Coast, QLD
Wednesday 13th February – Workers Club, Melbourne, VIC
Thursday 14th February – Baha Tacos, Rye, VIC
Friday 15th February – Wellers Restaurant, Kangaroo Grounds, VIC

Friday Folk Flashback

“Sunshower” – The Little Stevies

Next week The Little Stevies will be launching their live album Most Requested at The Workers Club, featuring their new lineup (sans Robin). We thought this was as good a reason as any to post the song that made us fall in love with the band in the first place.

Noah and the Whale Announce New Album

Noah and the Whale
Image Courtesy of Noah and the Whale

I like to think of Noah and the Whale as one of the inspirations for this blog and while they have definitely strayed from their folk roots, particularly with their Springsteen-esque 2011 album Last Night on Earth, we’ll always have a soft spot for these guys.

Noah and the Whale recently announced via their mailing list that they will be releasing their forth studio studio album, Heart of Nowhere, on the 6th May.

“Without giving too much away, we are incredibly proud of Heart Of Nowhere,” Urby from the band wrote on their recent mail out. “It was recorded live, and spending the last two years on the road with the same lineup, has greatly benefitted our collective playing. Charlie’s voice is resplendent throughout, while the band itself has honed a tighter, sparser and more muscular sound which was developing at the live shows. Ultimately though, our focus is on forever serving the songs themselves, and in this department I believe this could be our strongest and most ambitious collection yet. In short, we’re just very excited for you guys to hear it.”

We’re really looking forward to hearing what Heart of Nowhere has to offer. More news as we get it!

New Noah and the Whale Daytrotter Session

Noah and the Whale
Image Courtesy of Daytrotter

Noah and the Whale have moved far enough along the musical spectrum away from folk and closer to pop that we probably shouldn’t be covering them anymore. But when they’re writing songs as Springsteen-catchy as “L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N.” and “Tonight’s The Kind of Night” they’re really hard to ignore. Plus we have such a soft spot for the boys being one of the bands that really got us back into folk music in a big way.

The latest string to Noah and the Whale’s bow is their second Daytrotter session (you can listen to the first one from 2008 here). You can really see how much the band has grown between the two sessions. Their latest Daytrotter Session contains the tracks “Wild Thing”, “The Line”, “L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N.” and “Tonight’s The Kind of Night” – listen to it right here (after you sign up!).

Noah and the Whale’s “Waiting for My Chance to Come” Video

Noah and the Whale

A lot of the press surrounding the new Noah and the Whale album Last Night on Earth has focused on how much it draws inspiration from 80s rock, particularly that of Mr Bruce Springsteen. And no song from the album typifies that sound more that the track “Waiting for My Chance to Come” which now has its very own video, complete with 80s posturing on a boat. Watch it below:

Review: Noah and the Whale at The Factory Theatre, Sydney

Noah and the Whale
Image Courtesy of The AU Review

Noah and the Whale supported by Husky
2nd August 2011, The Factory Theatre
Sydney

There are five bands that we credit with igniting our interest in the current nu-folk scene and ultimately planting the seed that would become Timber and Steel: Laura Marling, Mumford and Sons, Johnny Flynn, Emmy the Great and Noah and the Whale. Since we started this site we can happily say we’ve seen three of the five acts live and this week we managed to cross a forth, Noah and the Whale, off our list when we caught their Sydney Splendour sideshow at the Factory Theatre.

Scoring the Noah and the Whale support slot was always going to be a massive coup for up-and-coming Melbournians Husky. The crowd at The Factory Theatre was one of the largest I had ever seen Husky play to before and they definitely stepped up to the plate. Husky’s set was tight, professional and very very well received from the audience. I have to say I’m incredibly excited about the forthcoming album from the group given how good the songs are sounding live. The absolutely cracking cover of America’s “Sandman” just added to what was a fantastic set from Husky and it won’t be long before they’re headlining shows at venues the size of The Factory.

Noah and the Whale’s latest album Last Night On Earth is by far the least folk-orientated of their career so I was a little curious whether their older material would get a look in during their first ever Sydney performance. I needn’t have worried however as the band tore through material from all three of their albums, deftly marrying their folk and pop material for one fantastic show.

Kicking off the show with “Give a Little Love” from their first album Noah and the Whale presented one of the tightest live shows I have seen in ages. Every song was pitch-perfect, the sound was amazing (possibly because I had planted myself right next to the mixing desk) and the energy on stage was palpable. Looking around me during the set I was amazed at just how many people new all the words to all the songs – and here I thought I was Sydney’s only Noah and the Whale aficionado.

Charlie Fink is not the world’s strongest vocalist (although his voice is unique) and I thought away from the tight production of a recording studio he may struggle but the man put up a hell of a performance. All rock star posturing, grandiose gestures and microphone flailing, Fink looked completely at home fronting one of the hottest bands in the world to a hugely appreciative audience. I was also impressed that Tom Hobden stayed true to his promise from our interview earlier this year staying out front on the fiddle for the majority of the set instead of hiding behind the keys (where he seemed to spend a lot of Last Night On Earth).

Probably the folkiest track from what was really a pop-rock set would have been “Rocks and Daggers” which had the band (and audience) in full hoedown mode. A rocked up version of early single “5 Years Time” was treated to whoops of excitement from the audience, probably equal to the reception greeted by recent single “Tonight’s The Kind of Night”. In fact the entire set was so well balanced with all of their most popular songs that I couldn’t help but jump up and down with excitement to the opening chords of each track.

Finishing the gig with “Blue Skies”, one of the most uplifting songs from the band’s break up album The First Days of Spring was a masterstroke, and was only topped when they returned to the stage for a two song encore including the pop masterpiece “L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N”.

As the boys waved themselves off stage and the lights came up the only words I could muster to describe the experience was “man that was tight”. And it was – Noah and the Whale put on a show that was above and beyond what I’ve come to expect from a gig. Tight, exciting, engaging exhilarating and quite possibly one of the best gigs of the year.

The Best of Glastonbury 2011

Bellowhead At Glasonbury
Image Courtesy of Folk Radio UK

We’ve had some absolutely amazing festival lineups in Australia over the years but its very easy to cast your eyes overseas, especially to the UK and US, and feel a little bit jealous of just how good they’ve got it. Case in point was this year’s Glastonbury Festival which not only finally had great weather (no mud baths this time!) but also sported a lineup you’d give a kidney to see here in Australia.

The BBC managed to capture many of the performances from the weekend to be streamed from their official Glastonbury web site but sadly those streams are only available if you live in the UK (or if, y’know, you have a UK proxy server), something that’s frustrating for fans here in Australia. But as luck would have it the BBC have very kindly let a few key performances (like the Mumford and Sons one from a couple of days ago) slip quietly onto YouTube for all the word to see.

We thought we’d assemble our favourite videos from the collection available to view outside of the UK all in one place just for you (sadly it’s not as extensive as what our empirical forefathers can see). Along with the Mumford and Sons video check out songs from Bellowhead, Laura Marling, Paul Simon, Noah and the Whale and Fleet Foxes below:

Mumford and Sons – “Roll Away Your Stone”

Bellowhead – “New York Girls”

Laura Marling – “Rambling Man”

Paul Simon – “So Beautiful Or So What”

Noah and the Whale – “L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N.”

Fleet Foxes – “Sim Sala Bim”

Noah and the Whale’s “Life is Life” Video

Noah and the Whale
Image Courtesy of Noah and the Whale

We keep talking about how Noah and the Whale have gone “pop” on their new album Last Night on Earth and I think we have the finest example of that right here. Combining eighties synths with Springsteen-esque riffs “Life is Life” is definitely not folk but it is Noah and the Whale so we still love it.

In case you missed our interview with Tom from the band yesterday check it out here once you watch “Life is Life” below:

Noah and the Whale will be in Australia for Splendour in the Grass and are playing the following sideshows in Sydney and Melbourne:

Tuesday 2nd August – Factory Theatre, Sydney
Wednesday 3rd August – Corner Hotel, Melbourne

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