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.

Timber and Steel’s Top Albums of 2015

Record Player

If anything has characterised 2015 for me in terms of new albums it’s that we finally saw debuts from some of our favourite artists. So many bands these days are serial EP releasers so it’s great to see the likes of Patrick James, Falls Marlon Williams and more knuckle down and get into the studio. It’s also great to see the return of firm favourites after time away and an explosion of traditional music that pushes boundaries and challenges our perception of what trad music can be.

Coming up with a top 25 list is always a challenge (let alone putting them in some kind of order) but I think what we’ve come up with is a wonderful cross section of all the genres of “folk” music we cover on Timber and Steel – from singer-songwriter to Americana to indie folk to traditional and beyond.

So without further ado here it is – our top 25 albums and EPs from 2015!

Kate and Ruth

1. Kate Burke & Ruth HazletonDeclaration

What a year 2015 has been for traditional music. Maybe it’s just me but it seems like a lot more trad is breaking through at the moment and the icing on the cake this year has been the incredible new album from Kate Burke & Ruth Hazleton, Declaration.

This is the duo’s first album in about eight years and their return to the studio has been a welcome one. Once again teaming with producer Luke Plumb, Declaration is loosely themed around traditional music from the female perspective with a few contemporary tracks thrown in for good measure.

The tracks are rich, heartbreaking, emotional and beautiful. So many of the songs deal with pretty heavy themes such as domestic violence (“Bleezin’ Blind Drunk”), false accusations of adultery (“Waly Waly”) and the disintegration of a woman’s public reputation (“Katy Cruel”) and these are conveyed with resonance by Burke and Hazleton. Hearing these two singing together again reminds me of why I fell in love with their harmonies all those years ago.

The two originals on the album – “The Freeze” and “Hearts Of Sorrow” – are two of my favourites and they make me wish Kate Burke & Ruth Hazleton were more prolific as songwriters. Maybe one day we’ll get a full album of self penned tracks?

I love how much Kate Burke & Ruth Hazleton have matured as performers over the last 15 years. Gone is the rigid need to stick 100% to the tradition and instead we have a fluid take on the material that draws as much from contemporary music as it does from Anglo, Celtic and American music. A simply wonderful album

Sufjan

2. Sufjan StevensCarrie & Lowell

Touted as the return to Folk Music for Sufjan Stevens, Carrie & Lowell is in fact the next step in his musical evolution. Rather than shrugging off the electronic chaos of his recent albums, Stevens has merely toned it down and brought back his acoustic guitar to dive into the complex relationship with his mother following her passing. This album is so raw, so nuanced and deserved of every bit of praise that has been heaped upon it.

Fanny Lumsden

3. Fanny LumsdenSmall Town Big Shot

I’ve always predicted big things for Fanny Lumsden ever since I saw her perform at a rooftop bar in Sydney many moons ago. Small Town Big Shot is the album that is currently turning Lumsden from Sydney’s alt-country darling to a favourite of the Australian country scene. The album is full of Fanny Lumsden’s true-to-life accounts of growing up in rural Australia while never straying into the Americanised, dust kicking ideal of country life so often portrayed by Australian country artists. Not to be ignored, Lumsden’s band The Thrillseekers add a rich musical tapestry to her songs and really seem to have gelled as group. Only released in September there’s a lot of life in Small Town Big Shot so we’ll continue to see Fanny Lumsden riding high off it’s ever growing success in 2016.

Paper Kites

4. The Paper Kitestwelvefour

The Paper Kites have produced what has to be one of the most interesting concept albums of recent years. twelvefour was written exclusively between the hours of 12am and 4am as frontman Sam Bentley believed this is when people are at their most creative. The result is stunning – a patchwork of eighties electro influences and the band’s trademark indie-folk – and will no doubt go down as a high watermark in their career. twelvefour feels very deliberately structured moving from the straight up electro of “Electric Indigo” and “Relevator Eyes” to more folky numbers in the second half of the album (“A Silent Cause” is a standout for me). I’m interested to see where The Paper Kites take their sound next.

Packwood

5. PackwoodAutumnal

This year chamber-folk artist Packwood released four seasonally themed EPs as part of his Vertumnus album project. The first of these was Autumnal which has remained my firm favourite through all of the subsequent releases. Gone is Packwood’s trademark sparsely plucked banjo (don’t worry, it returns in later EPs) and instead we get delicately fingerpicked guitar accompanied by choir and chamber orchestra. The songs are delicate and sumptuous and Packwood has really come a long way as a songwriter since his debut. Put on Autumnal, close your eyes and let the world fall away.

Laura Marling

6. Laura MarlingShort Movie

We’re now five albums into Laura Marling’s career and her songwriting has never been stronger. On her latest release Short Movie Marling’s songwriting takes on a freeform, Dylan-esque mode only hinted at on previous albums and it takes her into some very ineteresting places. There’s a lot more electric guitar on Short Movie and at times she descends into beat-poet-like spoken word phrases (like on the amazing “Gurdjieff’s Daughter”) yet no one is crying that Marling’s turned her back on her folk roots (like Marling’s old band Mumford & Sons). Instead Short Movie is being praised as an evolution of her sound and while it is miles away from her 2008 debut Alas, I Cannot Swim, both musically and stylistically, this is 100% a Laura Marling album.

Pittsburgh

7. William FitzsimmonsPittsburgh

In his ode to his recently passed Grandmother and her home town of Pittsburgh, William Fitzsimmons has created a delicate, beautiful piece of magic. This is his first self-produced album since 2006’s Goodnight and it does feel markedly different from his recent releases – the production is not a slave to his voice and guitar, instead it sits more comfortably as part of each song. At only seven tracks long Pittsburgh leaves you warm and fuzzy and wanting more.

Outlier

8. Patrick JamesOutlier

It seems like 2015 saw a lot of long time favourite Timber and Steel artists finally got around to releasing their debut album – and one of the debuts we were most excited about was from Patrick James. Over the course of a bunch of EPs Patrick James has refined his James Taylor-esque folk songs and Outlier is the culmination of years of solid songwriting. The production on Outlier makes the most of James’ unique voice and elevates his solo singer-songwriter roots into a rich, luscious landscape.

Wilder Mind

9. Mumford & SonsWilder Mind

With all of the attention on Mumford & Sons “ditching the banjo” and turning their back on folk music when Wilder Mind came out very little attention was paid to the album itself. Which is a shame because it’s another solid outing for the boys. If you push through the electric guitars and drums you discover that Wilder Mind is unmistakably a Mumford record with big choruses, melodies dripping with four part harmonies and festival ready lyrical hooks. And anyone who has seen Mumford & Sons this year will know they have in no way ditched the banjo – Wilder Mind sits perfectly within their entire catalogue.

Omaha

10. FallsOmaha

It took Falls moving to LA 18 months ago (and dropping the “The”) to produce their gorgeous debut album Omaha. Falls have expanded their two-voices-and-a-guitar sound to an almost orchestral level, but at the forefront is still their lyrically driven melodies and beautiful harmonies. I’m actually really impressed that all of the tracks on Omaha having seen them perform almost exclusively from their Hollywood EP before their big move Stateside. Now we just need a national Australian tour off the back of the album!

Omaha

11. TolkaOne House

The stunning result of trad band Tolka’s trip to Belfast last year to write and record a new album – one of the tightest trad bands in the country.

Limit of Love

12. Boy & BearLimit of Love

Boy & Bear return with a 70s vibe and a bunch of new tracks that saw the band collaborating on the songwriting duties.

If I Was

11. The StavesIf I Was

The Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) production on The Staves’ debut elevates their sound from simple three part harmonies to full blown indie-folk goodness.

Secret Victory

12. The East PointersSecret Victory

The result of writing sessions on their summer tour of Australia, The East Pointers have written 10 original tracks that sound as if they’ve been ripped directly from the tradition.

Monterey

13. The Milk Carton KidsMonterey

Monterey is the closest The Milk Carton Kids have come to capturing their mesmerising live show on record – this is something special.

Freewheeler

14. Dougal Adams, Ado Barker & Ben StephensonThe Freewheeler

Instead of complaining that it’s been too long between albums for Trouble in the Kitchen get your trad fix with the debut album from Dougal Adams, Ado Barker & Ben Stephenson.

Solitude

15. Ruby BootsSolitude

The Perth songstress has nailed down an amazing band and has produced one of the best alt-country albums of the last few years.

Tomorrow Is My Turn

16. Rhiannon GiddensTomorrow Is My Turn

In her debut solo album Rhiannon Giddens has built on the trad and old time of her work with the Carolina Chocolate Drops and spun it into something new and very exciting.

Marlon Williams

17. Marlon WilliamsMarlon Williams

With a voice that has reduced grown men and women to tears, there’s a lot to love about Marlon Williams’ debut record – this man is taking country music back to its roots and winning fans every step of the way.

Inside Llewyn Davis

18. VariousAnother Day, Another Time: Celebrating the Music of Inside Llewyn Davis

The folk and Americana industry’s best come together for a night of music inspired by the 60s folk scene and to a lesser extent the Cohen Brothers’ film Inside Llewyn Davis.

Dream's End

19. Matt BauerDream’s End

On his latest album Matt Bauer has upped the production stakes, forgoing his normally sparse folk songs and the result is wonderful.

Punch Brothers

20. Punch BrothersThe Phosphorescent Blues

I think it’s time to stop referring to Punch Brothers as “bluegrass” or “nu-grass” or anything at all – with The Phosphorescent Blues they have proven they are undefinable.

WHITE LIES

21. Mustered CourageWhite Lies and Melodies

Mustered Courage have always been the most polished bluegrass band in Australia but they’ve upped the ante with their new album adding a pop sheen to their sound.

Hell Breaks Loose

22. Shane NicholsonHell Breaks Loose

The godfather of the Australian Americana scene released one of the year’s best country albums – all heartbreak and whisky and everything that’s good about this kind of music.

The Decemberists

23. The DecemberistsWhat A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World

A welcome return to the studio from The Decemberists to follow up their amazing 2011 album The King Is Dead – a little less folk, a little more rock and all sorts of goodness.

Josh Pyke

24. Josh PykeBut For All These Shrinking Hearts

Australia’s premiere troubadour delivers yet another stunning album with his trademark wry lyrics and hooky melodies.

S

25. Emmy The GreatS

Emmy The Great slides into electro music while maintaining the folk-inspired melodies she’s become known for.

Americana Australia, Post to Wire, Unpaved & Timber and Steel Present The September Sampler

Americana Australia

This month the good folks behind online community Americana Australia asked Timber and Steel along with our fellow roots bloggers Post to Wire and Unpaved to contribute tracks to their monthly playlist sampler. The result is a wonderfully eclectic mix of tracks that is the perfect playlist for the first day of spring.

The three tracks selected by Timber and Steel are pulled from what’s on high rotation here – “Travelling Shoes” from Jack Carty’s recent free live album, “Waly Waly” from Kate Burke and Ruth Hazleton’s amazing new album Declaration and the brand new Packwood track “My Fair Life” which is taken from the album Vernal, released today.

Take a listen to the full playlist below:

A breakdown of who chose which track is below:

Post to Wire:
1. James Thomson – “Highway Nights (I Wanna Be)”
2. HT Heartache – “Cowboy Poetry”
3. Will Wood – “Quiet Night”

Unpaved:
4. Suzannah Espie — “I’m Sorry”
5. Damon Smith and the Quality Lightweights — “The Sun And The Moon”
6. Alison Ferrier — “Be Here Now”

Timber and Steel:
7. Jack Carty – “Travelling Shoes (Live @ The Front)”
8. Packwood — “My Fair Life”
9. Kate Burke & Ruth Hazleton – “Waly Waly”

Americana Australia asked Timber and Steel:
10. Raised By Eagles — “Waterline”
11. The Heggarties — “True to You”
12. Ben Bunting — “Don’t You Ever Speak My Name Again”

Thank Folk It’s Friday – 14th August

TFIF

This Week in Folk

All the News From The Week That Was

– We very proudly premiered the new video from Fanny Lumsden, “Soapbox”, along with announcing the full dates for her Country Halls tour. Details here

Patrick James officially released “Bugs” as his new single and video. Details here

– The Gold Coast Folk Festival announced their 2015 lineup featuring Perch Creek as the festival headliners. Details here

The Waifs added a whole bunch of East Coast, SA and NT dates to their Beautiful You tour this October and November. Details here

– We premiered the new Packwood single “We Drink Light” from his upcoming EP Vernal. Details here

– Sydney’s Katie Wighton announced details of her EP launch show at the end of the month. Details here

– The Mullum Music Festival announced their 2015 lineup with plenty of folk leaning artists including Ron Sexsmith, We Two Thieves, Ben Ottewell, Suzannah Espie, Harry James Angus, TinPan Orange, All Our Exes Live in Texas, Hat Fitz and Cara, Lucie Thorne and Hamish Stuart, Starboard Cannons, Sweet Jean, Oh Pep!, Raised By Eagles, Loren Kate, The Button Collective, Fred Smith and many many more. Details here

Bluegrass @ Yulli’s is this Wednesday and features Dear Orphans and Ben Wilson. Details here

– There’s a new album on the way from Dave Rawlings Machine, Nashville Obsolete. Details here

– Central Coast country blues singer-songwriter Kris Morris released his new video “Bury My Bones”. Details here

The Mae Trio announced their new EP September which is due for release in September and will be accompanied by a tour through September. Details here

– Electro-folk singer-songwriter Dustin Tebbutt has announced plans to release his new mini-album Home. Details here

Releases This Week

Kill It Yourself
Kill It YourselfJess Ribeiro
iTunes

Katie Wighton
oh-dark-hoursKatie Wighton
Bandcamp

The Waifs
Beautiful YouThe Waifs
iTunes

Timber and Steel Recommends – Go To This Gig

Mustered Courage w/ Ayleen O’Hanlon, Mr Alford Country

Mustered Courage

Mustered Courage kick off their “Honesty” single launch tour with a massive gig in their home town of Melbourne next Friday

Friday 21st August – The Northcote Social Club, Melbourne, VIC

Gigs Next Week

Adam Young, Sam Shinazzi
Sunday 16th August – Proper Music Social, Union Hotel, Sydney, NSW

Aldous Harding
Friday 14th August – Finbox (Upstairs), Thirroul, NSW

Bluegrass @ Yulli’s feat. Dear Orphans, Ben Wilson
Wednesday 19th August – Yulli’s, Sydney, NSW

Bones Atlas, MVRKS, Underground Architects
Thursday 20th August – Proper Music Social, Union Hotel, Sydney, NSW

Brendon Moon and Oliver Proudfoot
Friday 14th August – Upstairs Lentil As Anything, Sydney, NSW

Brisbane (Fringe) Bluegrass Festival feat. The Company, Starboard Cannons
Saturday 15th August – West End Sessions, Brisbane, QLD

Day Ravies, Wireheads, Thigh Master, Weak Boys
Friday 21st August – Proper Music Social, Union Hotel, Sydney, NSW

Eddie Boyd & The Phatapillars
Friday 14th August – Baha Tacos, Rye, VIC
Saturday 15th August – The Penny Black, Melbourne, VIC
Sunday 16th August – The Loft, Warrnambool, VIC

El Grande
Friday 14th August – Moonshine, Manly, NSW
Wednesday 19th August – Bar on the Hill, Newcastle Uni, NSW
Thursday 20th August – The Pier, Port Macquarie, NSW
Friday 21st August – The Pacific Hotel, Yamba, NSW

Fairlight Folk feat. Liz Frencham, Mythra Ensemble
Saturday 15th August – Fairlight Folk, Sydney, NSW

Fitzroyalty feat. Kurt Gentle, Oscar Lush
Tuesday 18th August – Little & Oliver, Melbourne, VIC

Immigrant Union
Friday 14th August – The Lass, Newcastle, NSW
Saturday 15th August – Oxford Arts Factory, Sydney, NSW
Sunday 16th August – The Junkyard, Maitland, NSW

Jack Carty and Jordan Millar
Friday 14th August – The Milk Factory, Brisbane, QLD
Saturday 15th August – Rous Mill Hall, Rous Mill, NSW
Thursday 20th August – Grace Emily Hotel, Adelaide, SA
Friday 21st August – Grace Darling Hotel, Melbourne, VIC

James Teague
Friday 14th August – Soundlounge, Gold Coast, QLD
Thursday 20th August – Tree House, Byron Bay, NSW

Jane Cameron
Friday 21st August – The Wesley Anne, Melbourne, VIC

Jed Rowe
Friday 21st August – Ararat Live, Ararat VIC

Jesse Witney
Friday 14th August – Batch Brewing, Sydney, NSW

Kelly Country Pick
Friday 21st to Sunday 23rd August – Beechworth, VIC

Little Features feat. Nick Orton, Chris Rogers, Leroy Lee, Eddie Boyd
Wednesday 19th August – Cafe Lounge, Sydney, NSW

Mustered Courage w/ Ayleen O’Hanlon, Mr Alford Country
Friday 21st August – The Northcote Social Club, Melbourne, VIC

Quarry Mountain Dead Rats, The Morrisons, Catgut
Saturday 15th August – The Annandale, Sydney, NSW

Sian Evans
Friday 14th August – The Bearded Lady, Brisbane, QLD
Friday 21st to Sunday 23rd August – Townsville Culture Fest, Townsville, QLD

The Daphne Rawling Band, Carl Manwarring
Saturday 15th August – Proper Music Social, Union Hotel, Sydney, NSW

The Scrimshaw Four w/ Chaos Magnet, The Horns of Leroy​
Monday 17th August – The Workers Club, Melbourne, VIC

Timberwolf
Friday 21st August – Newtown Social Club, Sydney, NSW

Xavier Rudd & The United Nations
Friday 14th August – The Venue, Townsville, QLD
Saturday 15th August – Magnums, Airlie Beach, QLD
Sunday 16th August – MacKay Entertainment Centre, Mackay, QLD
Tuesday 18th August – Pilbeam Theatre, Rockhampton, QLD
Wednesday 19th August -Moncrieff Theatre, Bundaberg, QLD
Thursday 20th August – The Tivoli, Brisbane, QLD=
Friday 21st August – Coffs Ex Services, Coffs Harbour, NSW

Friday Folk Flashback

“Rocky Road to Dublin” – The High Kings

Timber and Steel Premiere: Packwood’s New Single “We Drink Light”

Packword
Image Courtesy of Packwood

Another day, another premiere! We’re so proud to bring you “We Drink Light”, the brand new single from Melbourne based chamber-folk artist Packwood. Before I go on you have to start listening to this right now:

“We Drink Light” is the first single taken from Packwood’s upcoming EP Vernal, the third in his four part seasonal epic album series Vertumnus. The track is the embodiment of the spring to come, bursting forth with orchestra and choir performances that have become Packwood’s trademark. You can pick it up already on iTunes here.

Vernal is scheduled for release on the 1st September and follows on from Packwood’s recent releases Autumnal and Hibernal. The full track listing is below:

1. We Drink Light
2. How Many Rivers
3. Hollow
4. Another Day Spent
5. My Fair Life

Ten Albums and EPs From the First Half of 2015 You Should Own

Bob Dylan

We’ve hit the halfway point of 2015 and already we’ve been treated to some very very fine music of the folk, acoustic and roots albums from some of our favourite artists. When I was sifting through the releases so far this year whittling it down to just ten records was almost impossible. But this is the challenge I’ve set myself and ten albums I have chosen – with honourable mentions to of course go to William Fitzsimmons, Passenger, Lucy Wise Trio, José González, Catgut, Punch Brothers, The Decemberists and many many more. So prepare to discover some amazing music, revisit some amazing music or hotly debate what’s missing from our list of the top ten albums and EPs from the first half of 2015.

DeclarationKate Burke & Ruth Hazleton

Declaration

The return of Kate Burke & Ruth Hazleton to the studio with their fifth album was welcomed with open arms from everyone in the folk scene. I’ve said it many times before but Kate Burke & Ruth Hazleton’s music in the early 2000’s is what solidified me as a life long fan of folk and traditional music and having them back in my earbuds with brand new music is simply wonderful. This album is everything you want from Kate & Ruth – beautiful harmonies, stunning renditions of traditional songs and some contemporary music added in for good measure.

Short MovieLaura Marling

Short Movie

Five albums in seven years is no mean feat, but what is truly amazing about Laura Marling is how much she has grown as an artist over that time. Not content to just present the same idea over and over again Laura Marling has become more than the sum of her influences, more than just a sweet folk singer from London, and has truly become one of the most exciting and important artists of her generation. Short Movie is the most lyrically and melodically raw album of Marling’s catalogue – all electric guitars and Dylan-esque spoken lyrics – yet it also manages to be her most seamlessly produced work to date, which is yet another achievement given the record was completely self produced.

Marlon WilliamsMarlon Williams

Marlon Williams

Where did you come from Marlon Williams? By this time last year I’d only heard rumours of this alt-country singer from New Zealand who was taking the folk scene by storm. Since then I’ve seen the man live more times than I can count, watched him literally reduce audience members to tears with his voice and have had his self titled album on repeat since its release. Williams has been described as harkening back to the country music stars of old, but I think there’s something thoroughly modern about his music – taking his cue the best of the golden tonsiled singers of the 50s and 60s and updating that sound to a new generation.

MontereyThe Milk Carton Kids

Monterey

When you listen to a new Milk Carton Kids album you pretty much know exactly what you’re going to get – two part harmonies over lead and rhythm guitar. But what makes Monterey stand out to me is the production. For the first time I feel like The Milk Carton Kids’ live sound has been captured on a record, although I can’t quite put my finger on why that’s so – on the surface the presentation is not that much different to The Ash & Clay. Maybe it’s just the “feeling” of the songs – but whatever it is this is definitely an album to have in your collection.

AutumnalPackwood

Autumnal

I’m kind of glad it’s taken three years for Packwood to release new music since his incredible debut self-titled album. In the intervening years Packwood has developed as a songwriter, adding a lyrical depth to his beautifully arranged chamber-folk music that was a little lacking on the first release. Autumnal is the first of two mini albums that Packwood has already released this year (with two more to come) but is by far my favourite with its choral arrangements, sweeping orchestras and nods to contemporaries like Sufjan Stevens and Sam Amidon. I’m going to revisit Packwood’s entire seasonal concept album Vertumnus as a whole once all four mini-albums are released, but for the moment I’m thoroughly enjoying Autumnal as a standalone release.

Tomorrow Is My TurnRhiannon Giddens

Tomorrow Is My Turn

2015 really been the the year of Rhiannon Giddens. Her successful collaboration with superstar producer T-Bone Burnett on the Inside Llewyn Davis concert Another Day, Another Time as well as the Lost on the River: The New Basement Tapes has lead to the outstanding Tomorrow Is My Turn, Giddens’ debut solo album. The record takes traditional and contemporary music and reimagines it for Giddens folk-blues-jazz-old-time voice with amazing results, elevating her beyond her work with The Carolina Chocolate Drops. I feel like Tomorrow Is My Turn is destined to be an album that influences folk singers for years to come.

SolitudeRuby Boots

Solitude

When we picked Ruby Boots as an artist to watch in 2015 we suspected that come July we’d be talking up her new album Solitude. And that prediction has come true as Solitude is one of the alt-country albums of the past few years. Ruby Boots’s trademark big country voice is all over this record but what really makes it for me is just how tight she’s sounding with her full band – in fact I’d almost say that Solitude is the first time I’d describe Ruby Boots as a “band” rather than the solo project of frontwoman Bex Chilcott. When you add that dynamic to Ruby Boots’ masterful songwriting you’ve got an instant Australian country music classic.

Carrie & LowellSufjan Stevens

Carrie & Lowell

While I’ve enjoyed almost everything Sufjan Stevens has produced in the last five years his move away from his experimental electro music and back to his folk roots for Carrie & Lowell got me extremely excited, and the album itself has not disappointed. Here is a fragile, sumptuous, personal, raw piece of art that may well be Sufjan Stevens’ best album to date. I’m glad that Carrie & Lowell isn’t just Seven Swans revisited and that despite it being very much a folk album you can still here the echo of Stevens’ electro dalliance. This is Sufjan Stevens moving forward with his music and we’re all going on the journey with him.

If I WasThe Staves

If I Was

I feel like The Staves have always been destined for greatness since they burst onto the UK nu-folk scene almost six years ago. But it’s taken their Justin Vernon produced album If I Was to bring them to the attention of the wider folk community. In the past The Staves have leant on their three part harmonies to drive their music, and those harmonies are all over this album, but the inclusion of Vernon as producer has brought with it a full compliment of drums, guitars, horns and more. This adds a wonderful fullness to If I Was and only enhances The Staves’ stunning singing and songwriting.

One HouseTolka

One House

Tolka really are on the cutting edge of traditionally inspired music in Australia right now. Their latest album One House is almost entirely original music that draws so heavily on the tradition that you’d assume all of the tunes have existed for millennia. The production is pretty spot on and I love the use of samples dotted throughout – it adds an extra element to the music and makes One House stand out from its contemporaries. I can’t wait to see what Tolka have in store next.

Thank Folk It’s Friday – 29th May

TFIF

This Week in Folk

All the News From The Week That Was

– It looks like Bon Iver will return for their third cycle with Justin Vernon confirming their headline spot at the first annual Eaux Claires Music Festival. Details here

– Sydney indie-folk night Little Features celebrate their 3rd Birthday tomorrow with appearances from Justin Robinson, Charlie Gradon, The Button Collective and Ed Wells. Details here

– Canadian alt-country singer Lindi Ortega announced her new album Faded Gloryville. Details here

Jed Rowe and Alison Ferrier have announced a joint tour this July. Details here

– Singer-songwriters Jack Carty and Jordan Millar have announced a joint tour this August. Details here

– The Top Half Folk Festival announced their full lineup including Fanny Lumsden & The Thrillseekers, Ted Egan, Colin Lillie, Barry Skipsey, Sally Balfour, Margaret Walters, Bob Sharp, Scott Balfour, Dave Oakes, Don Bruce, Neil & Mel Phillips, Rusty & The Infidels, Malarkey, Watershed Players, Edan Baxter, Chris Pemberton & Tony Suttor, Peter Bate, Paul Stewart, South Of The Berrimah Line, Phil Beck, Phil Gray, Kirsty Evans, Ted & Carolynne Burns and the-band-that-became-a-blog Timber & Steel. Details here

– Melbourne band Husky released their new video “Drunk”. Details here

The Milk Carton Kids released their new video “Poison Tree”. Details here

– London folk-rock five-piece Feldspar released their new single “Five Years”. Details here

Xavier Rudd & The United Nations released their new video “Flag” and announced a national tour. Details here

Packwood released his stunning new video for “Obstinate”. Details here

– Melbourne’s Sal Kimber and the Rollin’ Wheel have released their new video “Stumble in the Dark”. Details here

Releases This Week

Cold Moon
Cold MoonJames Thomson
iTunes

Jed Rowe
The Last Day of WinterJed Rowe
iTunes

Timber and Steel Recommends – Go To This Gig

Little Features feat. Justin Robinson, Charlie Gradon, The Button Collective, Ed Wells

Button Collective

This Sunday Sydney indie-folk night Little Features celebrates it’s third birthday with a lineup that includes American singer-songwriter Justin Robinson, Little Features mainstay Charlie Gradon, local folk heroes The Button Collective (above) and the buzzworthy Ed Wells.

Saturday 30th May – Hibernian House, Sydney, NSW

Gigs Next Week

Ben Howard
Friday 29th May – Tivoli Theatre, Brisbane, QLD
Saturday 30th May – Hordern Pavilion, Sydney, NSW
Monday 1st June – Margaret Court Arena, Melbourne, VIC
Wednesday 3rd June – Fremantle Arts Centre, Fremantle, WA

Davey Craddock & The Spectacles
Friday 29th May – Petersham Bowls Club, Sydney, NSW

Direwolf and Willowy
Friday 5th June – Rad, Wollongong, NSW

Iris DeMent with Pieta Brown
Friday 29th May – Factory Theatre, Sydney, NSW

James Kenyon and Tobias Hengeveld
Friday 29th May – The Spotted Mallard, Melbourne, VIC

Little Features feat. Justin Robinson, Charlie Gradon, The Button Collective, Ed Wells
Saturday 30th May – Hibernian House, Sydney, NSW

Planet Dungog Music Festival
Friday 29th to Sunday 31st May – Dungog, NSW

Ruby Boots
Friday 29th May – Black Bear Lodge, Brisbane, QLD

The Pigs
Friday 29th May – The Spirit, Traralgon, VIC
Saturday 30th May – The Flying Saucer Club, Melbourne, VIC

Timberwolf
Saturday 30th May – Big Pineapple Festival, Sunshine Coast, QLD

Top Half Folk Festival
Friday 5th to Monday 8th June – Glen Helen via Alice Springs, NT

Friday Folk Flashback

“Sister” – Sufjan Stevens

“What the water wants is hurricanes, and sailboats to ride on its back”. Could those hushed opening lines, over 4 minutes into the track, be some of the best in modern times? I saw Sufjan perform this in Sydney this week and it was magic.

Watch the New Packwood Video “Obstinate”

Packwood
Image Courtesy of Packwood

Melbourne based singer-songwriter Packwood released his new video “Obstinate” this week and I am simply lost for words. The painstakingly animated video from animator Robert Jarvis captures the track perfectly, adding an entrancing visual element to Packwood’s chamber folk music.

Check out the video here:

“Obstinate” is taken from Packwood’s upcoming mini-album Hibernal, due for release on the 1st June.

Thank Folk It’s Friday – 22nd May

TFIF

This Week in Folk

All the News From The Week That Was

Packwood announced details of Hibernal, the second album in his seasonal series Vertumnus. Details here

Marlon Williams, Husky Gawenda (Husky), Jordie Lane and Fergus Linacre (Kingswood) will be taking to the stage to pay tribute to The Beatles’ albums Rubber Soul and Revolver. Details here

Richard Thompson has announced plans to release his new Jeff Tweedy produced album Still. Details here

Releases This Week

Milk Carton Kids
MontereyThe Milk Carton Kids
iTunes

william fitzsimmons
PittsburghWilliam Fitzsimmons
iTunes

Timber and Steel Recommends – Go To This Gig

The Good Ship

Good Ship

Folk favourites The Good Ship bid farewell with their final show in their home town of Brisbane. This is bound to be a rollicking affair!

Saturday 23rd May – The Zoo, Brisbane, QLD

Gigs Next Week

Ben Howard
Thursday 28th May – Tivoli Theatre, Brisbane, QLD
Friday 29th May – Tivoli Theatre, Brisbane, QLD

Brad Butcher
Friday 22nd May – The Singing Gallery, McLaren Vale, SA
Saturday 23rd May – Royal Oak Hotel, Launceston, TAS
Sunday 24th May – The Homestead, Hobart, TAS

Dan Parsons and Steve Grady
Friday 22nd May – Babushka Bar, Ballarat, VIC

Davey Craddock & The Spectacles
Friday 29th May – Petersham Bowls Club, Sydney, NSW

Direwolf and Willowy
Wednesday 27th May – The Front Gallery, Canberra, ACT
Thursday 28th May – The Spotted Mallard, Melbourne, VIC

Elwood Myre
Sunday 24th May – The Retreat, Melbourne, VIC

Forest Falls
Wednesday 27th May – Workers Club, Melbourne, VIC

Iris DeMent with Pieta Brown
Friday 22nd May – The Gov, Adelaide, SA
Saturday 23rd May – Lizottes, Newcastle, NSW
Sunday 24th May – Old Museum, Brisbane, QLD
Thursday 28th May – Thornbury Theatre, Melbourne, VIC
Friday 29th May – Factory Theatre, Sydney, NSW

James Kenyon and Tobias Hengeveld
Friday 29th May – The Spotted Mallard, Melbourne, VIC

Liam Gale & The Ponytails
Saturday 23rd May – *Secret Show*, Sydney, NSW

Peasant Moon w/ Katie Brianna, Lisa Caruso
Sunday 24th May – Petersham Bowling Club, Sydney, NSW

Planet Dungog Music Festival
Friday 29th to Sunday 31st May – Dungog, NSW

Ruby Boots
Friday 22nd May – Howler, Melbourne, VIC
Saturday 23rd May – Major Toms, Kyneton, VIC
Sunday 24th May – Westernport Hotel, San Remo, VIC
Friday 29th May – Black Bear Lodge, Brisbane, QLD

Sufjan Stevens
Friday 22nd May – Sydney Opera House, Sydney, NSW
Saturday 23rd May – Sydney Opera House, Sydney, NSW
Sunday 24th May – Sydney Opera House, Sydney, NSW
Monday 25th May – Sydney Opera House, Sydney, NSW

The Good Ship
Saturday 23rd May – The Zoo, Brisbane, QLD

The Pigs
Friday 22nd May – The Basement, Sydney, NSW
Saturday 23rd May – Katoomba RSL, Katoomba, NSW
Friday 29th May – The Spirit, Traralgon, VIC

Friday Folk Flashback

“The Way It Goes” – Gillian Welch

Packwood Reveals Details of New Mini-Album Hibernial

Packwood
Image Courtesy of Packwood

Having already wowed us with his amazing mini-album Autumnal (review here), Packwood returns with the next instalment of his seasonal epic Vertumnus, the winter themed Hibernal.

Due for release on the 1st June Hibernal promises to be more expansive and theatrical than the previous release with layered orchestral and choral arrangements. Packwood is already offering a taste of the album with the track “Obstinate” – listen to it below:

For more information on Hibernal, including how to order it, check out Packwood’s Bandcamp here.

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