Paul Kelly Announces November Tour

Paul Kelly
Image Courtesy of Paul Kelly

Following the release of his amazing new album Life Is Fine in August the incomparable Paul Kelly has just announced plans to hit the road for a national tour this November.

Joining Kelly on the tour will be a bunch of amazing guests including Busby Marou in Darwin, Cairns and Townsville, Sahara Beck in Rockhampton and Steve Earle and Middle Kids supporting the rest of the tour from Brisbane to Perth.

Check out the full list of dates below:

Friday 3rd November – Entertainment Centre, Darwin, NT
Saturday 4th November – Entertainment Centre, Darwin, NT
Tuesday 7th November – Convention Centre Great Hall, Cairns, QLD
Wednesday 8th November – Entertainment Centre, Townsville, QLD
Thursday 9th November – Great Western Hotel, Rockhampton, QLD
Saturday 11th November – Riverstage, Brisbane, QLD
Sunday 12th November – Regional Botanic Gardens, Coffs Harbour, NSW
Tuesday 14th November – Tamworth Regional Entertainment Centre, Tamworth, NSW
Wednesday 15th November – Entertainment Centre, Newcastle, NSW
Friday 17th November – Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne, VIC
Saturday 18th November – MONA Mainstage & Lawns, Hobart, TAS
Sunday 19th November – Sydney Opera House Forecourt, Sydney, NSW
Monday 20th November – Sydney Opera House Forecourt, Sydney, NSW
Wednesday 22nd November – Adelaide Entertainment Centre Theatre, Adelaide, SA
Thursday 23rd November – Adelaide Entertainment Centre Theatre, Adelaide, SA
Saturday 25th November – Kings Park and Botanic Gardens, Perth, WA
Sunday 26th November – Kings Park and Botanic Gardens, Perth, WA

Thank Folk It’s Friday – 13th January

TFIF

This Week in Folk

All the News From The Week That Was

– Indie folk duo Husky released their new video “Late Night Store”. Details here

– Sydney summer concert series Courtyard Sessions announced their 2017 lineup including Imogen Clark, Leroy Lee, Jordie Lane, Taryn La Fauci, Skyscraper Stan, The Cruisin’ Deuces and more. Details here

– Sahara Beck released her new single “Crack Bang Bang”. Details here

– Ex-member of The Middle East Jordan Ireland announced his new album Jordan Ireland With Purple Orchestra and beautiful new single “East Coaster”. Details here

– Singer-songwriter Jack Carty announced a tour through February, March and April. Details here

William Crighton released his new video “Jesus Blues”. Details here

– Indie-folk duo The Campervan Dancers released their new video “St⭐️rlight (Pickin’ Pears)”. Details here

– Canadian folk and trad trio The East Pointers have announced a massive Australian tour kicking off in March. Details here

– We posted the latest video from bluegrass duo The Weeping Willows, “Fallen Ring”. Details here

– Australia’s queen of country Kasey Chambers announced her new double album Dragonfly. Details here

– Melbourne singer-songwriter Kathleen Mary Lee released her video “Hey, Very Good Friend”. Details here

– Australian tour dates were announced for Billy Bragg and Joe Henry. Details here

Blog

With the new year upon us it’s time to look ahead at some of the great folk, roots and acoustic music that will be coming our way in 2017. We had a stab at picking 10 artists we think you should be keeping an eye on in the coming months including All Our Exes Live in Texas, Davidson Brothers, Fleet Foxes, Husky, Jordan Ireland, Laura Marling, Punch Brothers, Rhiannon Giddens, The Morrisons and Timberwolf. Blog here

Releases This Week

Flo Morrissey
Gentlewoman, Ruby ManFlo Morrissey & Matthew E. White
iTunes

Laws of Gravity
Laws of GravityThe Infamous Stringdusters
iTunes

The McClymonts
EndlessThe McClymonts
iTunes

Timber and Steel Recommends – Go To This Gig

Illawarra Folk Festival

Illawarra FF

Our favourite mid size folk festival kicks off this weekend with an amazing lineup including Andy Irvine and Luke Plumb, FourWinds, Tattletale Saints, The Whitetop Mountaineers, Tim O’Brien, Wallis Bird, Daniel Champagne, Echo Deer, Handsome Young Strangers, Lime and Steel, Mandy Connell, Martin Pearson, Nigel Wearne, Shanty Club, The Squeezebox Trio, Tinpan Orange, Big Erle, Jane Aubourg, Joe Mungovan, Kay Proudlove, Shelley’s Murder Boys, The Lurkers and many many more.

Thursday 12th to Sunday 15th January – Bulli, NSW

Gigs Next Week

Áine Tyrrell
Friday 13th January – Rosny Barn, TAS
Saturday 14th January – Waratah Hotel, Hobart, TAS
Friday 20th January – The Spotted Mallard, Melbourne, VIC

Alanna and Alicia
Thursday 12th to Saturday 14th January – Illawarra Folk Festival, Bulli, NSW

Alice Terry
Thursday 19 January – Village Stage, Meriton Festival Village, Sydney, NSW

Andy Irvine w/ Luke Plumb
Friday 13th to Sunday 15th January – Illawarra Folk Festival, NSW
Thursday 19th January – Bathurst City Community Club, Bathurst, NSW
Friday 20th January – Fairlight Folk Acoustic Lounge, Sydney, NSW

Backsliders w/ Shelly’s Murder Boys
Saturday 14th January – Milton Theatre, Milton, NSW

Banjo Jackson
Thursday 19th January – Hither & Yon, Willunga, SA

Ben Salter
Thursday 19th January – The Golden Barley, Sydney, NSW

Blue King Brown
Friday 13th January – Mona Vale Hotel, Mona Vale, NSW

Bluegrass @ Yulli’s Bluegrass Picnic
Wenesday 18th January – Balls Head Reserve, Sydney, NSW

Broads
Sunday 15th January – The Golden Barley, Sydney, NSW

Cash Savage & The Last Drinks
Wednesday 18th January – Magic Mirrors Spiegeltent, Sydney, NSW

Courtyard Sessions Presents Imogen Clark
Friday 13th January – Seymour Centre, Sydney, NSW

Courtyard Sessions Presents Leroy Lee
Friday 20th January – Seymour Centre, Sydney, NSW

Don McGlashan
Friday 13th January – Brookfields Shed, Margate, TAS
Saturday 20th January – The Wheatsheaf, Adelaide, SA
Friday 20th to Sunday 22nd January – Mofo, Mona Foma, Hobart, TAS

eüsh, Nic Cassey & Friends
Thursday 19th January – Marlborough Hotel, Sydney, NSW

Fairlight Folk feat. Andy Irvine & Luke Plumb, Seanchas
Friday 20th January – Fairlight Folk Acoustic Lounge, Sydney, NSW

Fanny Lumsden
Friday 20th January – Fanzone Performance, Tamworth, NSW

FolkSwagon feat. GG Music, Ben Camden, Julia Johnson
Wednesday 18th January – Cafe Lounge, Sydney, NSW

Fourwinds
Wednesday 11th to Sunday 15th January – Illawara Folk Festival, Bulli, NSW
Tuesday 17th January – Wauchope Arts Hall, Wauchope, NSW
Wednesday 18th January – 5 Church Street, Bellingen, NSW
Friday 20th January – The Unorthodox Church of Groove, Newcastle, NSW

George & Noriko
Thursday 12th to Sunday 15th January – Illawarra Folk Festival, NSW

Gregory Page
Thursday 12th to Sunday 15th January – Illawarra Folk Festival, NSW

Handsome Young Strangers
Thursday 12th to Saturday 14th January – Illawarra Folk Festival, Bulli, NSW
Friday 20th January – Botany View Hotel, Sydney, NSW

Hat Fitz & Cara
Thursday 19th January – Lizottes, Newcastle, NSW
Friday 20th to Sunday 22nd January – Thredbo Blues Festival, Thredbo, NSW

High and Lonesome feat. Katie Crane, Scott Collins, John Woolhouse
Saturday 14th January – The Bellingen Brewery & Co., Bellingen, NSW

Hinterlandt
Thursday 19th January – Alpha House Artist Co, Sydney, NSW
Friday 20th to Sunday 22nd January – Mofo, Mona Foma, Hobart, TAS

HONK! Oz
Thursday 19th to Saturday 21st January – Wollongong, NSW

Hootenanny feat. Mark Lucas and The Dead Setters
Sunday 15th January – Miss Peaches, Sydney, NSW

Illawarra Folk Festival
Thursday 12th to Sunday 15th January – Bulli, NSW

Jenny Biddle
Thursday 19th January – The Basement, Sydney, NSW

Joe & Harmony’s Trippy Hippy Band
Thursday 12th to Saturday 14th January – Illawarra Folk Festival, Bulli, NSW

Josh Pyke & Bob Evans
Friday 13th January – Esk BeerFest, Launceston, TAS

Kenta Hayashi
Thursday 12th to Saturday 14th January – Illawarra Folk Festival, Bulli, NSW
Wednesday 18th January – Smith’s Alternative, Canberra, ACT
Friday 20th January – Oxford Art Factory, Sydney, NSW

King Arthur
Thursday 19th January – The Rooks Return, Melbourne, VIC

Kirsty Bromley
Thursday 12th to Sunday 15th January – Illawarra Folk Festival, NSW

Kyle Taylor
Friday 13th January – The Wheatsheaf, Adelaide, SA
Saturday 14th January – The Exeter, Adelaide, SA

Lake Street Dive
Friday 13th January – Sydney Festival, Sydney, NSW

Lime & Steel
Wednesday 11th to Sunday 15th January – Illawara Folk Festival, Bulli, NSW

MANE
Sunday 15th January – Hither & Yon, Willunga, SA

Matt Henry
Thursday 19th January – Gasoline Pony, Sydney, NSW

Matt J Ward & The Rising Sons w/ Alana Jagt, Sam Newton
Sunday 15th January – The Wheatsheaf, Adelaide, SA

Melody Moko, The Wayward Henrys & Andrew Swift
Thursday 19th January – The Stag & Hunter, Newcastle, NSW

Missy Higgins
Sunday 15th January – Australian Open Sessions, Melbourne, VIC

Mofo
Friday 20th to Sunday 21st January – Mona Foma, Hobart, TAS

Nigel Wearne
Thursday 12th to Saturday 14th January – Illawarra Folk Festival, Bulli, NSW
Friday 20th January – Mountain Mumma, Sheffield, TAS

Numeralla Folk Festival
Friday 20th to Sunday 22nd January – Numberalla, NSW

Passenger
Friday 20th January – Riverstage Theatre, Brisbane, QLD

Pierce Brothers
Friday 13th January – The Grand, Morngington, VIC
Saturday 14th January – Westernport Hotel, San Remo, VIC
Thursday 19th January – Newtown Social Club, Sydney, NSW
Friday 20th January – The Foundry, Brisbane, QLD

Roesy
Saturday 14th January – Salt Contemporary Art Gallery, Queenscliff, VIC
Sunday 15th January – Long Play, Melbourne, VIC

Sahara Beck
Friday 13th January – The Rhythm Hut, Gosford, NSW

Sharon Shannon
Friday 13th January – Caravan Music Club, Oakleigh, VIC
Saturday 14th January – Spotted Mallard, Melbourne, VIC
Sunday 15th January – Spotted Mallard, Melbourne, VIC

Shelley’s Murder Boys
Thursday 12th to Sunday 15th January – Illawarra Folk Festival, NSW
Saturday 14th January – Milton Theatre, Milton, NSW
Thursday 19th January – Mr Falcon’s, Sydney, NSW

Tamar Valley Folk Festival
Friday 20th to Sunday 22nd January – Georgetown, TAS

Tamworth Country Music Festival
Friday 20th to Sunday 29th January – Tamworth, NSW

Tattletale Saints
Friday 13th to Sunday 15th January – Illawarra Folk Festival, NSW

The Outside Track
Thursday 12th to Sunday 15th January – Illawarra Folk Festival, NSW

The Porch Sessions On Tour feat. Stu Larsen, Luke Thompson, Tim Moore
Friday 13th January – Melbourne, VIC
Sunday 15th January – Bacchus Marsh, VIC
Wednesday 18th January – Wollongong, NSW
Friday 20th January – Sydney (Croydon Park), NSW

The Snakemen
Sunday 19th January – Wayward Brewing Company, Sydney, NSW

The Weeping Willows
Sunday 15th January – The Standard Hotel, Melbourne, VIC

The Whitetop Mountaineers
Thursday 12th to Sunday 15th January – Illawarra Folk Festival, Bulli, NSW
Wednesday 18th January – Yinnar Community Hall, Yinnar, VIC
Thursday 19th January – Valencia Creek Hall, Brigalong, VIC
Friday 20th January – Harvester Moon Café, Bellarine, VIC

Thompson Springs w/ Maia Marsh
Friday 13th January – The Front, Canberra, ACT
Sunday 15th January – Retreat Hotel, Melbourne, VIC
Monday 16th January – Cherry Bar, Melbourne, VIC
Tuesday 17th January – Some Velvet Morning, Melbourne, VIC
Friday 20th January – Club 54, Launceston, TAS

Thredbo Blues Festival
Friday 20th to Sunday 22nd January – Thredbo, NSW

Tim O’Brien
Friday 13th to Saturday 14th January – Illawarra Folk Festival, Bulli, NSW
Sunday 15th January – The Quarter Deck, Narooma, NSW
Thursday 19th January – The Petersham Bowling Club, Sydney, NSW

TinPan Orange
Saturday 14th and Sunday 15th January – Illawarra Folk Festival, Bulli, NSW

Vanishing Shapes
Sunday 15th January – The Milk Factory, Brisbane, QLD
Monday 16th January – Camp Davey, Lismore, NSW
Wednesday 18th January – Phoenix Rising Café, Nimbin, NSW
Thursday 19th January – Treehouse on Belongil, Byron Bay, NSW
Friday 20th January – Miami Marketta, Gold Coast, QLD

Wallis Bird
Friday 13th and Sunday 15th January – Illawarra Folk Festival, Bulli, NSW

We Lost the Sea w/ The Crooked Fiddle Band
Saturday 14th January – Northcote Social Club, Sydney, NSW

William Crighton
Saturday 14th January – Quarterdeck, Narooma, NSW

Winter Wilson
Thursday 12th to Sunday 15th January – Illawarra Folk Festival, Bulli, NSW
Thursday 19th January – Braidwood Folk Club, Braidwood, NSW
Friday 20th January – Humph Hall, Sydney, NSW

Friday Folk Flashback

“The Bonny Ship, The Diamond” – Beoga

English superstar Ed Sheeran dropped details of his upcoming album ÷. The album will include collaborations with Irish trad band Beoga so we think it’s time you got acquainted.

Listen to the New Sahara Beck Single “Crack Bang Bang”

Sahara Beck
Image Courtesy of Sahara Beck

After a huge 2016 seeing the release of her second album Panacea as well as a string of festival and tour dates Sahara Beck has treated us to her new, rollicking single “Crack Bang Bang”.

Take a listen to the track here:

Sahara Beck has also been announced on the upcoming The Cat Empire and Xavier Rudd tour – check out the full list of dates below:

Sunday 29th January – North Gardens, Ballarat, VIC
Saturday 4th February – Red Devil Park, Byron Bay, NSW
Sunday 5th February – Sandstone Point, Bribie Island, QLD
Saturday 11th February – Glenelg Beach, Adelaide, SA
Sunday 12th February – Stuart Park, Wollongong, NSW

Timber and Steel’s Artists’ Top Albums of 2016

Child Records

You’ve heard what we think the top albums of 2016 were, but lets be honest this is the piece you’ve really been waiting for.

Every year we reach out to the community of folk and acoustic musicians in Australia and around the world to ask them to pick their favourite album or EP of the year, and this year they came through in spades.

So without further waffle may we present to you this year’s Timber and Steel’s Artists’ Top Albums of 2016.

Bill ChambersEagle & The Wolf
Bill ChambersCold Trail
What a record. Bill just turns up when he feels like it and shows us all how it’s done. The title track is one of the best driving songs ever written and we’ve done A LOT of driving this year! This record has been with us on every trip and inspires us as artists of the alt. country genre to dig deep and keep being real, in life and in music. He’s the baddest and the best.

James KenyonAnna Cordell
James KenyonImagine You Are Driving
This album takes me into such a beautiful space, it is so beautifully written and produced, I find myself smiling every time I listen to it – I’m entranced and inspired.

Joe MungovanImogen Clark
Joe MungovanWay Down South
Joe totally embodies the Joni Mitchell quote about songwriting, “The closer you get to your heart is the closer you get to everyone else’s”. This EP is an evolution for him, the production is so sparse and spacey, almost Bon Iver-ish, and very different from the folky style of his first EP. But what remains is Joe’s amazing ability to capture so perfectly the melancholy of the human condition with his beautiful melodies and heart-wrenching lyrics. A big 5 stars from me. Love ya, Joe!

Piers FacciniSam Lee
Piers FacciniI Dreamed An Island
This album only came out a couple of weeks ago but I think needs mentioning in this years crop. Piers is one of the finest male singers and his musicianship is exquisite. It’s an album of great sensitivity with deep thought and poetry inside. The songs are so well formed, he has a knack at creation of timeless soundings orgs.

DD DumboDan Flynn
D.D DumboUtopia Defeated
Oliver has really found his own unique sound while incorporating some diverse influences including folk, electronic and world music. I was really impressed with his songwriting and his ability to draw you in to his strange little world. I also love the production with all those sonic layers that reveal themselves over repeated listens. Amazing debut.

Michael KiwanukaSkyscraper Stan
Michael KiwanukaLove and Hate
I got hooked on this album while touring around New Zealand. The songwriting is melodic, the dynamics are masterful and the closing track, “Final Frame”, kicks me in the guts.

William CrightonJosh Rennie-Hynes
William CrightonWilliam Crighton
I first heard William at Nannup at the start of this year and loved it. He’s a great performer and his songs are top notch. This album captures all of that perfectly. The production is spot on and is a testament to the benefits of what a more DIY approach to recording can achieve.

Bon IverTanya Batt (BATTS)
Bon Iver22, A Million
There have been a lot of amazing releases this year, Canary, Braille Face and Hayden Calnin were three I wanted to choose too. However, it had to be Bon Iver. The most highly anticipated album in my life, it did not disappoint. This album means so much to me, It’s an extremely innovative album within soundscapes and also so raw, filled with emotion. Many tears were shed when I first listened.

MoulettesClaude Hay
MoulettesPreternatural
Moulettes new album Preternatural really grabed me from the first second, Distorted Cello, Oboe, guitar bass drums and they all sing insane harmonies perfectly live….Audio candy

Bill HuntLiam Gale (Liam Gale & the Ponytails)
Bill HuntUpwey
Conversational, melodic, witty and hooky songwriting flood through the beautiful ebb and flow of Upwey, Hunt’s first of many offerings. The songs are hued by a consistent arrangement of drums, bass, violin and Hunt’s subtle and precise guitar style. But they don’t rely on these arrangements; each song a story, assisted by the swell of instrumentation to convey the tales that swing from the near Latin grooves of “Odalik” to the slow sexy grind of “Sea of Love”. At six tracks long, it leaves you wanting more. Perfect.

Childish GambinoSahara Beck
Childish GambinoAwaken, My Love!
Listening to this album is like switching off the real world and stepping into an original and new world. I find it very inspiring.

Oh PepThe Little Stevies
Oh Pep!Stadium Cake
I think the songwriting on Stadium Cake is really interesting. The songs take me to a place that I’m not expecting both lyrically and musically when I begin listening to them and they keep me guessing, which I absolutely love. The arrangements and production are also super cool, and I’m simply just a big fan of talented women and female partnerships doing great things in the arts.

Side PonyFanny Lumsden
Lake Street DiveSide Pony
It seriously makes me the most joy filled human ever. Side Pony is possibly my biggest songwriting envy of late and they just really nail that motown meets pop retro good times.

Nick CaveMiles O’Neil (Miles and Simone)
Nick Cave and The Bad SeedsSkeleton Tree
I was scared to listen to this album due to the tragic circumstances surrounding it. Finally
mustering the courage one bright morning I listened to it through while walking beside the sea.
I stopped many times during that walk to sit and, floored, marvel at the breathtakingly
sadness and beauty captured in what is, to me and I’m sure many others, a masterpiece.

Hayden CalninForest Falls
Hayden CalninCut Love Pt 1/2
Hayden is an absolute stayer of the Melbourne music scene, but it’s for good reason. This record is world-class. Sparse, rich, cinematic, and desperate in its feel, it holds on to you long after the first listen.

Button CollectiveThe Bottlers
The Button CollectiveThe Lonesome Sea
As a softly lilting mandolin emerges from the silence of the opening track, Brodie’s haunting lyrical ballad begins to unravel the story of the heartbreak of a man, torn between travelling the lonesome sea and those who he has left behind. This beautiful yet bittersweet combination of well-travelled wordsmithing and an instrumental palate carrying a nostalgically truthful warmth, could be heard in any far-flung tavern in the dead of night, as tired candles flicker. Finishing with a raucous fling titled “Adieu Sweet Lovely Nancy”, the Button Collective’s release concludes on a stirring high, twisting your arm to crave another ale. The EP’s recording, mixing and mastering add a special flair, as you hear the charismatic live-elements that give you a heart-swelling, beer-swilling singalong that you can partake in at any time. Well done fellas!

The Dreaming RoomPhia
Laura MvulaThe Dreaming Room
Her lyrics explore feminism, faith, self-worth, race, and her harmonies, arrangements and production are deep and multi-hued. One of the most exciting songwriters around, unafraid to experiment with multi-genre collaborations, like the London Symphony Orchestra and Nile Rodgers.

JoyGordon Wallace (The Crooked Fiddle Band)
The Peep TempelJoy
This is a great third album by the Melbourne based three piece that has initial flavours of 90s Aussie pub punk/bloke rock (like Cosmic Psychos) but that is just the beginning – the album is musically quite varied, with intelligent, dark, caustically humorous and often political lyrics with moments of honest beauty.

Wartime SweetheartsJoe Gould (The Crooked Fiddle Band)
Wartime SweetheartsSo Long Sparta
It’s always great when a local artist drops something as fully formed and self-assured as Louise Nutting’s second album under the Wartime Sweethearts moniker. Experimental without forgetting the songcraft, it deserves its rightful place amongst the St Vincents, Dirty Projectors and My Brightest Diamonds of the art pop world. Props to local label Art As Catharsis, whose releases in October alone spanned from Wartime Sweethearts to Hashashin’s eastern mathrock and No Haven’s dark hardcore. Eclecticism rules the day!

BeyonceTaryn La Fauci
BeyoncéLemonade
To create and release a piece of work that is so intricately linked and ordered, one you must listen to from start to finish to understand the whole was really refreshing! The film that accompanied the album was also richly interesting, deep and powerful. To address themes such as infidelity and race and then to weave them powerfully into a full album, which on release caused so much controversy and started a conversation world wide, I thought was really great.

Melody PoolKevin Mitchell (Bob Evans)
Melody PoolDeep Dark Savage Heart
Another beautiful record from the most under-rated songwriter in Australia. “Love, She Loves Me” gives me goose bumps every time.

Winter WheatFrank Turner
John K SamsonWinter Wheat
I am a long term partisan of John’s work, so it’s not surprising that I liked this record. But god-DAMN, the man just keeps delivering. This record had me in tears three times on my first listen through, and it gets better with age.

David BowieWilliam Crighton
David BowieBlackstar
My favourite album from 2016 is Blackstar from David Bowie. There were a lot of great albums but I listened to it the most.

TigallerroSteven Barnard (Arbori, Jon Cotton)
Phonte and Eric RobersonTigallerro
Smooth grooves, dope rhymes, sweet melodies. You’d be hard pressed to find another 2016 record his year that has this flow, though Anderson Paaks’ Malibu is a close second. It rolls effortlessly from track to track and the inevitable ass shaking comes with a no “slutty table top twerking” guarantee. It’s rare that a hip hop record explores what it means to be a man of sexual fidelity, a family man, and even man of faith in higher power. Getting hype or turning down, my morning wake up or my party starter, this record has been a solid find.

Julia JacklinJesse Lubitz (TinPan Orange)
Julia JacklinDon’t Let The Kids Win
This album is a gem. The more I listen to this record, the more the songs shimmer and shine with a beautiful honesty. Jacklin’s songwriting is earnest and her voice perfect – it feels like an important voice which dances delicately on a wire between mundanity and profundity.

Bon IverOliver’s Army
Bon Iver22, A Million
Although becoming more and more electronic heavy, Justin Vernon’s signature haunting melodies and dynamic vocals remain consistently endearing. I found the production to be quite bold and experimental, and I love that they’re continuing to explore their sound and push it in new directions. Sonically, it’s spacious and beautiful.

RadioheadKim Churchill
RadioheadA Moon Shaped Pool
My top album of 2016 has probably got to go to A Moon Shaped Pool by Radiohead. It really hit me at the perfect moment. I was deep in the studio and sometimes getting a bit overly flustered by how complex the process of recording can be. I think Radiohead have done something incredible in the way this album is so relaxed, so subtle, but so powerful. There is this beautiful calm confidence that I am completely in awe of. To be alive whilst their legacy is still being added to is a real treat!

Conor OberstThomas Busby (Busby Marou)
Conor OberstRuminations
Brave, personal and heart achingly real. It feels like you’re in the room with him as he’s pouring his heart out.

Iggy PopEm George
Iggy PopPost Pop Depression
It would be a total lie for me to say that I have been patiently and politely waiting for a new Iggy Pop record because I’ve been extremely impatient and downright rude, mouthing off to my vinyl copy of Lust for Life, begging to the Iggy Pop gods for a new release and then Post Pop Depression hit in March this year. Produced by Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age), the entire album is gritty and dark, sharp and tight with that small hint of sadness that lies just under the surface of Iggy Pop’s music. However in true Iggy fashion, the melodies and heavy drums lift the album into something that is hard to define, taking you to another place. My pick for 2016!

KaleoGerrit Gmel (Citizen of the World)
KaleoA/B
I came across these guys on Spotify a few months ago as they were our number one associated artist then. I had never heard of them before but their album has been on repeat ever since. Their album is incredibly varied, with high-energy songs like “Way Down We Go” and soft ballads like “Save Yourself”. An emotional rollercoaster from start to finish.

Gregory PorterJoe Glover (Shelley’s Murder Boys, Backsliders)
Gregory PorterTake me to the Alley
I watched a YouTube clip of Gregory Porter performing on NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert and watched it several times over, absolutely mesmerised. The album is just as mesmerising; full of soul, jazz and RnB, beautiful arrangements and Porter’s effortless delivery; just enough grit and soul to keep the jazz interesting! I listen to this album when I want something that will absolutely zone me out of where I am and what I am doing, Porter’s soothing voice is like being wrapped up in blanket and given a cup of hot cocoa.

Bruce MolskyShell Eves (Shelley’s Murder Boys)
Bruce MolskyCan’t Stay Here This a-Way
Bruce Molsky always manages to bring such a rich, unique sound to the old-time classics. His latest album is no exception. His fiddle-singin’ gives me warm fuzzies akin to sitting by a campfire under a starry sky.

David BowieJimmy Murray (Shelley’s Murder Boys)
David BowieBlackstar
It was hot, humid January afternoon driving through a sun-shower when I first listened to David Bowie’s Blackstar album. Released just 2 days after his death aged 69 this is an amazing final piece of work from this incredible artist. The hauntingly beautiful voice and instrumentation echos with songs about finality and death. Listening to this I was filled pure joy, sadness and reflection of this artist’s inspirational legacy.

Black Mountain String bandThe Plough
Black Mountain String BandTime Traveller
This year The Plough discovered the Canberra based Black Mountain String Band and can’t get enough of them. The exuberance and variety they bring to a live show is showcased beautifully in their recording. Their mix of traditional and original songs and instrumentals take the listener back in time through a landscape of high energy Old Time, Western Swing, triangle pumping Cajun and plucky Fiddle polkas. This CD’s been on high rotation in the Lancer’s CD stacker ever since it was launched in the bush capital on a chilly winters night.

TyrannamenFraser A Gorman
TyrannamenTyrannamen
A brilliant, gruff mixture of Memphis Garage-soul blended deep in a gravel filled, VB bottle of Australian 70’s pub rock. Eight tracks long, all killer no filler.

Margo PriceNick Payne (Dear Orphans)
Margo PriceMidwest Farmer’s Daughter
Margo is one of the first of a new breed of Americana artists to come out of the new epicentre of country music in East Nashville. Alongside Cale Tyson, Michaela Anne, Erin Rae, et al., these guys are playing authentic honky-tonk reminiscent of 1970s outlaw country, yet with their own fresh take. Midwest Farmer’s Daughter reminds me of the edgiest tracks from Dolly Parton, and the fact she is the first country act signed to Jack White’s Third Man Records is a testament to the quality of this album.

Oh PepJames Kenyon
Oh Pep!Stadium Cake
Stadium Cake is a brilliant album – brave arrangements, tight pop writing, great lyrics and Liv’s voice is a pleasure. I love the ambition of the album, and the assuredness the result. It’s an inspiring record

Julia JacklinAinsley Farrell
Julia JacklinDon’t Let The Kids Win
I’ve had the chance to see Julia perform these songs over the past couple years so I’ve been very excited for her album. She has an incredible songwriting talent topped by this powerful yet vulnerable voice that’ll break your heart and put it back together again all in one go. If you get the chance to see her and her band live I wouldn’t miss it.

Liz StringerMel Parsons
Liz StringerAll The Bridges
I have been a fan of Liz for a good few years now, I’m completely smitten with her voice – all husk, beauty and pain. I had high expectations for her new album, and All The Bridges delivers and then some, it’s been on repeat in my house since it arrived.

CanaryKathleen Mary Lee
CanaryI Am Lion
I like this because it is a celebration of very big, very beautiful feelings that I reckon have no other way of being celebrated other than through this kind of emotionally epic music. The lyrics are attempts at honesty and the music is always their non verbal emotional equivalent, making the album a very cathartic experience. If you want it to be. A bit of a masterpiece

Eagle and the WolfSam Buckingham
Eagle & The WolfEagle & The Wolf
Sarah brings out Kris’s sweetness and Kris brings out Sarah’s no bullshit strength – making this album the perfect balance of heart and “fuck you”. It just sounds like two musicians being real and having a ball. Awesome songwriting, perfect harmonies – it’s golden.

Sian EvansTori Forsyth
Sian EvansHow Time Has Treated Thee
This EP has only swept across my table recently but it is hands down a stand out. It makes me feel happy, sad and inspired all in one hit!

Songs From DanLucie Thorne
Dan TuffySongs From Dan
Aussie expat (now Dutch resident) and legend Dan Tuffy (Big Low, Wild Pumpkins at Midnight) has made one of my favourite albums not just of 2016 but of all time (seriously!). Co-produced by Melbourne’s Matt Walker, and recorded partly here in Melbourne, and partly in Holland, this album is an extraordinary collection from a true poet who sings straight to the heart of it all. Check it out folks!

Sian EvansHusky Gawenda (Husky)
Damien JuradoVisions Of Us On The Land
While this is Damien Jurado’s twelth album, it is the first I heard of him. Visions is a psychedelic, mystical odyssey, one that takes place within and without. The internal wanderings, the struggles and revelations, mirror an external landscape that is both beautiful and haunting. Each listen draws you further into these mirror worlds and all the while Jurado’s songs and sounds are immediately and undeniably striking.

Tracy McNeilLeah Flanagan
Tracy McNeil and the Good LifeThieves
Thieves is such an enjoyable record to listen to. It’s poppy and catchy yet underneath the veneer of fun singalong good times the songs themselves incredibly well crafted and arranged. Tracey writes a damn good song and if you’re lucky enough to see her band live, you’ll see them play those songs damn well too.

Adora EyeMusketeer
Adora EyeIf You Need A King, I’ve Been Prepared All My Life
This is probably the most raw and enduring folk album I have listened to all year. I am sure that this Swedish singer-songwriter was up all night writing this album in a smokey boat in the Stockholm harbour somewhere. You can almost see him clutching that ink pen with a red right hand, as his pet raven swings in a cage above his head eating dead beetles.

Hiss Golden MessengerDave Powys (The Paper Kites)
Hiss Golden MessengerHeart Like A Levee
I heard this album playing in a record store in London, and as I flicked through racks of vinyl I was drawn into the melodies and depth of his song writing. Every now and then you come across an artist who really moves you, or scratches an itch you never knew you had – this album has done both for me.

The Kill Devil HillsCatherine Traicos
The Kill Devil HillsIn On Under Near Water
This album encapsulates all that I love about the The Kill Devil Hills. A mad racket of noise, it pulses with life and is as ripe with heartfelt ballads as it is with sexy, sinister, badass, guitar driven numbers. Enjoy with whiskey.

Robert Ellis10 String Symphony
Robert EllisRobert Ellis
His first self-produced effort combines thoughtfully crafted songs with unique and interesting arrangements, expertly performed by him and his killer band. It’s the full package real deal and we love it so much.

The Dead MaggiesThe Dead Maggies
The Cloves and The TobaccoAcross The Horizon
TCATT are one of many celt-punk bands making great music in Java, and this album is a standout. It’s straight up driving celtic punk, with big powerful singalong choruses that tug the heartstrings. Good arrangements and musicianship help make this album great. We played with them in their hometown of JogJakarta, in the attic of a vegetarian cafe. The power cut out just before the gig, so the bands went ahead and played unplugged, it was a great moment of sweaty singalongs.

Howe GelbMark Moldre
Howe GelbFuture Standards
Late night meanderings. Laid back, whisky infused jazz piano. Wordplay and lyrical twists that stand alongside the wit of Ira Gershwin and Hoagy Carmichael with the quiet phrasing of Chet Baker. Gelb continues to walk to his own beat – confounding expectations whilst smashing and recreating genres. His history has always hinted towards a love of jazz and occasionally detoured into Monk style musings – here Gelb embraces it wholeheartedly.

TullaraSian Evans
TullaraBetter Hold On
Earthy folk and roots with a dash of dirty grunge, Tullara presents her debut EP Better Hold On. Featuring her superb guitar slinging and percussive finger tapping wizardry, genius pop-roots arrangements and powdery vocals; it’s as if an Aussie Taylor Swift, John Butler and Andy Mckee were entrapped in a love triangle and spawned gold threads of wild honesty weaving together this admirable little Roots record. It’ll jerk a tear and invoke a bit of primal badass equally.

TaliskJake Pember (The Button Collective)
TaliskAbyss
Ever since first hearing Mohsen Amini’s amazing concertina playing earlier this year I have been a little bit obsessed with this band. They have the perfect blend of traditional and modern styles, and each member has such command of their instruments that every track feels as natural and flowing as a conversation.

Max SavageKaurna Cronin
Max SavageTrue Believers
Max has a brilliant ability to invite his audiences into the narrative of his works. With brilliant imagery and musicianship True Believers captures a great snapshot of true Australian culture, while also creating a great sense of nostalgia by grasping that 80’s Australian rock sound perfectly. The perfect soundtrack for an Australian road trip or any suburban household.

Nick CaveAlex L’Estrange
Nick Cave and The Bad SeedsSkeleton Tree
Amongst all the huge artists that dropped albums in 2016, and the loads of Australian artists that arguably dropped career highlights (Ball Park Music, These Guy, D.D Dumbo), there was one album that I found myself frequently listening to, uninterrupted, alone on the hi-fi, and that was Skeleton Tree by Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds. It’s not necessarily my favourite, I think it’s an impossible task to name a favourite, but it was the first album that came to mind for this list, and that means more than anything. Hearing it coupled with the film One More Time With Feeling was challenging, given its subject matter. But its atmosphere was expertly executed; dynamic, fluid, smooth and heartbreaking. The rooms of Air, La Frette and Retreat studios are beautifully on display in songs like “Girl in Amber”, where the wispy backing vocals of The Bad Seeds hauntingly resonate across the walls. These contrast the desperate and almost maddening mantras of “I Need You”. What makes it a truly extraordinary album, is that it isn’t just doom and gloom. ‘Skeleton Tree’ doesn’t dwell on tragedy, it addresses it as part of the human condition, and there is an underlying beauty in that.

William CrightonClaire Ann Taylor
William CrightonWilliam Crighton
The storytelling and the whole atmosphere created by Crighton on this album is incredible. His dark, brooding voice and emotive style of delivery, commanded my attention from the first moment I heard it.

Andy ShaufWilliam Fitzsimmons
Andy ShaufThe Party
This was my favorite album of the year for one simple reason: MELODY!!! Andy is everything that’s right about classic “pop” music; never playing a note without a damn good reason for doing so, and songwriting that makes you feel something deep in your gut. He’s the worthy musical son of Harry Nilsson that we’ve longingly been waiting for.

LuciusRuby Boots
LuciusGood Grief
I have to choose this album because I’m still, since its release, pulling away the layers on it. Although it’s a predominantly pop record, the lyrical content and melodic arrangements are so intelligent and accessible all at once – a fine line that is hard to walk. The girls’ voices are otherworldly and tend to make me forget where I am and what I’m doing every time I put this album on. I still can’t get enough of it.

WetLacey Cole (Lazy Colts)
WetDon’t You
If you have a soft spot for B-grade pop ballads/R&B this Brooklyn-based three piece may just have written the soundtrack of your 90s-nostalgia drenched dreams. Their latest album Don’t You is a not-so-guilty pleasure of mine. Helmed by the stunning front-woman Kelly Zutrau, her unusual vocal inflections and impassioned delivery suggest an emotional complexity in what may otherwise be confused as banal sentiments (one song is called “Baby, You’re The Best”). Once combined with the lush production and rhythms of the band – assigned with the noble task of turning tears into toe-tappers – these songs are wonderfully earnest, rarely overwrought and exactly what you need right now.

James KenyonJoe Murphy (The Timbers)
James KenyonImagine You Are Driving
I have been lucky enough to see James play a couple of times. His beautifully crafted songs are reminiscent of great songwriters like Paul Kelly. The album is a stunning representation of his work.

JRHMabel Windred-Wornes (Charm of Finches)
Josh Rennie-HynesFurthermore
I love this album. It’s got so much warmth, it’s spacious. I listen to it late at night doing my homework and it’s so calming. It’s like the energy he captured recording it in the hills of Woodford transmits. We met him at Bendigo Blues and Roots Fest this year and felt we’d discovered a rare gem. He’s an amazing songwriter.

Tom BrosseauMatt Bauer
Tom BrosseauNorth Dakota Impressions
Beautiful storytelling, vivid imagery, and an incredible sense of place. I’ve always loved Tom’s records and he’s at the top of his game here writing about his native North Dakota.

Jim JamesTimberwolf
Jim JamesEternally Even
It’s a pretty passionate political plea and America needed a timely voice. He even released it the day before election day. I think his voice is very much from another world, so that’s an important “third person” kind of perspective. It’s a well sequenced collection of songs, and I really love the warm psych and soul inspired production/composition. Maybe I’m just biased because I know that Jim James and Blake Mills would make up my sonic dream-team.

Nigel WearneJustin Bernasconi (The Stillsons)
Nigel WearneDrawing Circles
Nigel has really forged his own fingerpicking techniques on both the banjo and guitar on this album, and his voice tenderly delivers every song with intense concern and passion. Just check out the live version of the title track.

The Kill Devil HillsMark ‘Looch’ Lewis – (Wifey/Handsome Young Strangers)
The Kill Devil HillsIn On Under Near Water
I have always loved this band. In all their incarnations and styles whether that is folk, country, gospel, rock or what I call the “WA dirge” (Kim Salmon, Drones type bass driven tunes). Hard to believe it is now 12 years since the release of their debut Heathen Songs when that “Drinkin’ Too Much” song first got my attention. And while it has been 7 years since the last studio album Man You Should Explode, the good news is that I reckon this is the most cohesive album yet. Cracking harmonies, great playing and strong tunes. Tracks like “The Nets”, “Chinese Burns” and notably “The Kid” are 3 of the best tunes they have released. Let’s hope there is more output and touring to come.

Austin LucasMatt Golotta (The Sweet Jelly Rolls)
Austin LucasBetween the Moon & the Midwest
I spend a fair bit of time on the road traveling to see my partner and this record became the perfect traveling companion for me. Took a few listens to get into and also realise it’s a concept album which draws from Lucas’ own past experiences. Without spoiling the outcome, it follows the luckless musician Richard, his partner Kristie Rae and his best friend William. It features killer song writing with pedal steel, twangy tele, country influences with punk rock subtlety, numerous guest vocals from the likes of John Moreland and Corey Brannan, and a cracker duet with Lydia Loveless “Wrong Side of the Dream”, dealing with the struggles and plights that many musicians face. My song of the record is “William”, the solo acoustic number at the end that makes you feel like you’ve just been kicked in the guts. Songwriting at its finest.

Cody JinksAndrew Cavalieri (The Sweet Jelly Rolls)
Cody JinksI’m Not the Devil
Raw, honest and heartache. That is this album! The first track really sets the mood for the rest of the album, but is broken up by “Chase This Song” which is a damn banger of a driving song! The outlaw vibe flowing from Junks’ music really prepares you for some hard times and disappointment in life. Bloody hell I love this album! Honorable mentions: Murlocs – Young Blindness, Jonny Fritz – Sweet Creep and Mudcrutch – 2.

Wartime SweetheartsLaura Bishop (Chaika)
Wartime SweetheartsSo Long Sparta
A killer voice, some super awesome writing skills, and an obsession with bodybuilders (hello Ms Olympia!) make this my favourite album of 2016. Wartime Sweethearts, aka singer-keyboardist-loop artist-songwriter Louise Nutting, signed to Art As Catharsis Records this year and released an album full of all the beats and electric piano and vocal harmony sounds that I like to hear (and I wish I could make) – and my favourite track “Figure It In, Figure It Out” has all the unexpected twistings and turnings of chord progressions that I wish I could write. One day Chaika will make sounds like this! One day…

Neil YoungTristan Goodall (The Audreys)
Neil YoungPeace Trail
Well with everyone saying we should just put 2016 behind us (although to be honest we should probably be approaching 2017 with a little trepidation too) I’ve decided not to dig too deeply into the past when thinking of my favorite record release of the year. I’ve loved many, but my recent love is the just-released 37th album by Neil Young. Peace Trail is short, musically experimental within its tight three piece band approach, and lyrically angry and poignant. I love it for the drummer’s drummer Jim Keltner and the way his delicate touch chases Neil’s quirky phrasing around the songs. I love it because it captures another freeze frame moment from a restless and undaunted songwriter, and I love it, of course, for those mighty guitar tones.

Davey CraddockLachlan Bryan
Davey CraddockCity West
2016 was a great year for my friends releasing good music. Melody Pool comes to mind, as do The Weeping Willows, Henry Wagons, Ange Boxall and Bill Jackson. It’s actually really hard to contribute to a “best of” list when you’re close to many of the artists – it’s hard to be objective – even after I rule out the records I was actually involved in making. Actually – it’s always hard to be objective, whether you know the artists or not. Furthermore, judging a whole body of work is hard – and for me, more than ever, 2016 was the year of the song (as opposed to the album or EP). And as songs go, the one that’s really stuck with me this year is the song “Number 9” by Davey Craddock. I love the cricket references. I asked Davey if he was a diehard cricket fan like me. He’s not. I was bitterly disappointed.

The Stray BirdsThe Mae Trio
The Stray BirdsMagic Fire
The Stray Birds made our fave album of 2014 and they’ve done it again in spectacular style with Magic Fire. It’s everything about this album and this band, the playing, the three part harmony and songs that are unabashed, true and unadorned. Magic Fire is a reminder of the things that matter, it’s definitely a fire and maybe a little bit magic.

Tori ForsythAndrew Swift
Tori ForsythBlack Bird
This EP is right up there as one of my favourite releases of 2016. From the moment I heard the opening title track, “Black Bird”, I knew that I was in for a treat. The diversity on display within the 5 tracks of Tori Forsyth’s debut release excites me. The songs are so well crafted and presented with such a mature sound, especially for someone so young. I’m eagerly awaiting the next release from one of Australia’s most promising young songwriters.

Hayden CalninRoscoe James Irwin
Hayden CalninCut Love Pt 1
A beautiful album from Melbourne artist Hayden Calnin. Drenched in melancholy and ambient awesomeness, this album had me at hello. (One of my favourite live shows of 2016 as well).

Jordie LaneNadine Budge (The Stetson Family)
Jordie Lane & The SleepersGLASSELLLAND
Have to say I’ve been particularly digging Jordie Lane’s GLASSELLLAND this last couple of months – with mighty input from the multi-talented Clare Reynolds. Let’s face it, Jordie’s a bit of an all-round talented guy!

Melody PoolDavey Craddock
Melody PoolDeep Dark Savage Heart
One of my fave local album’s of the year was Melody Pool’s Deep Dark Savage Heart. I’m a sucker for strings and a massive chorus and I love the way the songs build from really intimate, delicate and ornate passages into full-blown, wailing-on-a-mountain top with Stevie Nicks, 100 soaring bats and a thunderstorm moments. I saw her launch it at the Abbotsford Convent earlier this year and it was a really powerful and affecting show for me.

Methyl EthylTim Guy
Methyl Ethel – “No.28”
I know it’s not an album, but I’ve listened to this song more than any other this year, and it only came out a little while back. It has a lot going for it – great rhythm behind a smart piece of songwriting and then the whole thing is bathed in a deep silver mercury type thing. An Australian classic I swear.

DocksThe Staves
Amanda BergmanDocks
Our favourite album of 2016 is Docks by Amanda Bergman. Her voice is utterly sublime. You want to listen to every word she says. The music is dreamy, deep, soft, moody with melodies that whirr deliciously around your mind for days and weeks on end.

Katie BriannaRaechel Whitchurch
Katie BriannaVictim or the Heroine
I picked this album up when Katie and I did a songwriters showcase together. Sitting beside her listening to her songs was so magical – her voice is one of the most enchanting I have ever heard and her lyrics hit you right in the feels every time. Reminds me of a young Lucinda!

James KenyonMandy Connell (Stray Hens)
James KenyonImagine You Are Driving
James’ lyrics have that magic of time and place usually associated with voices like Paul Kelly or Bruce Springsteen. You can practically smell his scenes. You’re there. This album captures the voice but better than that, like a Tim Winton book, its a record that makes you present in Kenyon’s stories.

Jordie LaneLiz Stringer
Jordie Lane & The SleepersGLASSELLLAND
It’s no secret that Jordie Lane and I are good mates. We grew up together, musically speaking, and I am more familiar with his work than with most other artist’s. His new album, his first full-length release in five years, is called GLASSELLLAND, recorded by Jordie himself in various make-shift recording spaces in North Los Angeles and co-produced by his fiercely talented partner, Clare Reynolds, who also co-wrote half of the songs and sings and plays a heap of instruments on the record. Jordie’s songwriting and musicianship continue to evolve and stretch out with the years and these songs, and the way they’re recorded, ache with longing while driving forward with a swagger and a playful showmanship, melodically rich and hooky as fuck. I always become a bit weepy listening to Jordie sing. And, now, the combination of him and Clare ruins me every time. Beautiful.

David BowieColin Jones (Colin Jones & The Delta Review)
David BowieBlackstar
An exceptional reflection on final days and the unknown. Every note by Bowie, McCaslin and the band emphasize the chaos and fragility of life. There is no better swansong for an artist.

A Moon Shaped PoolEmma Anglesey
RadioheadA Moon Shaped Pool
A Moon Shaped Pool completely surrenders to simple truths that both lie in plain sight and in the messy tangled, kicking and screaming realities of life. The epic levels of angst in the opening track “Burn the Witch” are like an exorcism – Jonny Greenwood’s sharp string arrangement take you right to the edge – and then from there it’s like Alice falling through the rabbit hole of raw emotion and you go deeper and deeper.

DawesTim Hart (Boy & Bear)
DawesWe’re All Gonna Die
Some of the best lyric writing welded on to some pretty simple, but catchy, pop songs. Produced by Blake Mills (Alabama shakes, Laura Marling), this is a great record start to finish if you can forgive some slightly John Mayer sounding guitars that pop their head up from time to time. This I the record I keep coming back to this year

Oh PepRebecca Bastoli
Oh Pep!Stadium Cake
I don’t think I have ever been so entranced, excited or exhausted by the journey of listening to an album start to finish.

Bon IverDustin Tebbutt
Bon Iver22, A Million
Bon Iver has once again exceeded expectations on this release. It’s both familiar and foreign, delicately coloured, softly focused yet angular and stark. It’s brave, honest and all the things that I loved about Justin’s earlier works, without coming close to formulaic. It’s colloquial and conversational, yet inherently profound. Incredible stuff both musically and sonically.

Margo PriceJosie Rothwell (Peasant Moon)
Margo PriceMidwest Farmer’s Daughter
There’s something comforting about Margo Price’s debut album, almost like I’d listened to it before, but not in an overly familiar sort of way. Perhaps there’s something in her glorious voice that reminds me of my parent’s Dolly Parton records. She’s a great story teller, and I want to know more about her heartaches and headaches, particularly when accompanied by her crack band. I’m also proud to say my 4 year daughter keeps calling for “Hurtin’ (on the Bottle)” when we’re in the car – and I can’t think of anything else I’d want her to be listening to right now.

BJ BarthamHarvey Russell (Peasant Moon)
BJ BarhamRockingham
It pains me to say this but BJ Barham’s new-found sobriety has coincided with a serious coming of age as a songwriter. Taking a (very) short break from American Aquarium duties, BJ’s solo release (a genuine side-project) is seriously hard-hitting stuff. It rivals Aquarium’s 2012 release Burn. Flicker. Die. for intensity, but of a completely different nature. With sparse arrangements (often acoustic) Barham, as storyteller, gives you an uncensored and unashamed glimpse into how rural America has been left behind. Not for the faint hearted.

William CrightonSam Newton
William CrightonWilliam Crighton
I’d caught Crighton perform a bunch of times at local venues around Sydney and really dug his tune (and especially the music video) “Woman Like You” prior to this album’s release. So I was anticipating this release. Really excited for it. I was stoked when I heard that he and producer Matt Sherrod came through with the goods. Big time. Highlights for me are “Riverina Kid”, “Priest” and “2000 Clicks”. In my mind, this one is about as strong as debut albums get.

Chaim TannenbaumEliza Carthy
Chaim TannenbaumChaim Tannenbaum
The album that I have most enjoyed and most visited this year is the debut of the kind, quiet genius Chaim Tannenbaum (Storysound Records). I’ve had the privilege of working with Chaim over the years but it was only recently I realised that I have lived with his distinctive voice and gorgeous humility since I first began to love music. It’s his voice that forms the third harmony in “Complainte pour St Catherine” on the first McGarrigle sisters’ album, a song I played over and over as a child until you could almost see through the record, and he has been quiet companion and producer to theirs and their extended family’s work ever since. It’s somewhat typical of his humility that he has waited this long to make an album, produced by his dear longtime friend and collaborator Loudon Wainwright III. It’s a collection of avuncular stories told in his gorgeously expressive voice with beautiful, minimal production. Some trad, some conversational originals covering everything from the fate of the baseball stadium Ebbets Field to living in a depressing grey London in the endless rain in the 1960s. An album to listen to with your eyes closed by the fire. Again and again, and again.

PinegroveQuinton Trembath
PinegroveCardinal
The lyrics on this album read like the private diary of a well spoken (and well read) guy filled with both anxiety and excitement for life. The musicianship and dynamics complement this introspectiveness well, making it perfectly suited for intense solo listening as well as for being cranked on road trips with friends.

Sean McMahonAlison Ferrier
Sean McMahon and the MoonMenShiner
Sean McMahon’s laid back yet somehow intense vocal brings this fantastic collection of songs to life in my living room. Shiner’s ragged elegance is full of the sort of raunchy country rock I can’t get enough of. Stand out tracks for me: “Shiner” and “Here Comes the Night Again”.

WhitneyEddie Boyd
WhitneyLight Upon the Lake
This album just grew and grew on me since my first listen. Simple, catchy tunes that make me wanna dance or go driving for a long time. I think Whitney nailed everything about this album – the instrumentation, the production, obviously the songs. Also, they’re heaps good live.

Secret PathThe Once
Gord DownieSecret Path
The Tragically HipMan Machine Poem
This year was a hard year in Canadian Music. We have a fella here by the name of Gord Downie. He is a legend. He has helped raise Canadians to be more real with his music. He is the frontman for the band The Tragically Hip. There are not many people in Canada who don’t know who The Hip are. Their music has become part of our DNA. Gord, this year, made a statement saying he has terminal brain cancer so he obviously fighting for the men and women of the north. The folks that have needed a voice for far too long. He is being that voice. He is showing us how to be Canadian and that we can’t be without acknowledging the needs of all of our people, without respecting all of our people. This year, instead of succumbing to his illness, he put out two albums. One with The Hip and one solo. Here they are. They are magic and will go down in history in our great nation. It’s amazing to watch one man build his second legacy.

Cash SavageJessica Cassar (Jep and Dep)
Cash Savage & The Last DrinksOne Of Us
This has everything you want from a record. It’s dirty and beautiful, and dark as hell. Cash sings with a thunderous anguish that cracks, rumbles and echoes so perfectly any sorrow you might have ever had. And like any good storm, the album’s darkness reveals a little light, one that roars some sort of painful end, or much needed beginning. I love this record!

Tracy McNeilGretta Ziller
Tracy McNeil & The GoodlifeThieves
I’ll be the first to admit I’m late to the game when it comes to Tracy McNeil & The Goodlife. I caught their set at Out on the Weekend and was captivated! Their 2016 album Thieves is just so dang easy to listen to, I will confess it is turning into a “chilling on the deck summer favourite” of mine! Please, if you haven’t already, pick up or download a copy of this album and chill!!

Bill JacksonRosie McDonald (RAPT, Trippy Hippy Band, Seanchas)
Bill JacksonThe Wayside Ballads Vol. 2
Bills’ reputation had preceded him before I heard him at Fairlight folk with Ruth Hazelton and Pete Fiddler. I grabbed the opportunity to contribute to his The Wayside Ballads Vol. 2 crowd funding campaign to get Bill and Pete over to Nashville to record with some very fine session players. Bill kept me updated with postcards and messages so I felt like a sideline cheerer in this whole project. Then the CD arrived! Magnificent songs, co-written with Bills’ brother Ross. Bills’ time worn voice, rich and mellow, rootsy, Americana-ish but very very homegrown, local accent, stories big and small, tender and big hearted. Pete’s playing shines in amongst the session guys, a great listen. Music for travel, the cabin, the verandah, anywhere.

Kate Burke and Pete WildMelanie Horsnell
Kate Burke and Pete WildLive at St Peters
In my small town we have the most marvellous artists touring through, but I also love our sweet locals, and I adore this live record by Kate Burke and Pete Wild. Pete Wild’s “Mars 1” is a love song about a person who goes on the Mars mission leaving his forever love behind, the Martin-Martin song is an old village favourite and the last love song between Doris and Arthur makes me giggle and lament at the same time. And I adore playing Kate Burkes version of Frozen Man on repeat when everything in life gets a bit much.

MontaigneGretta Ray
MontaigneGlorious Heights
My favourite record that was released in 2016 is without a doubt, Montaigne’s Glorious Heights. What impresses me most about this record is the fact that it is rather evident that the artist went into this project with the intention of experimenting with her sound and taking risks, drawing inspiration from a range of her influences and assuring that each song conveyed a slightly different emotion from the previous track. I believe it was this approach of 20-year-old Jess Sero’s (Montainge) that resulted in the production of what I perceive to be a very imaginative and bold debut album. This record showcases the fact that Jess has, unquestionably, one of the strongest and most commanding voices in the Australian music industry, this being exemplified through the outstanding production and arrangements of the songs that make up Glorious Heights. As well as this, each song is demonstrative of Jess’ incredibly clever and unique songwriting, which I cannot wait to hear more of in years to come; the simplicity yet complexity and quirkiness of a lyric such as “when you touch my skin, I think ‘this isn’t boring'” makes one ponder on such a line, as Jess’ way of writing is different, daring and something that never fails to make me smile. Glorious Heights made me so very excited about how extravagant pop music is becoming in this day and age, and on the whole made me very proud to be a young woman in the Australian music scene.

WhitneyTreetop Flyers
WhitneyLight Upon the Lake
I first started hearing about this band online, so was waiting for the album with anticipation. When it dropped I must have played it back to back straight away, which rarely happens. They are hard to put in a genre, which is really great. No Woman is one of our faves of the year. They are great live and do a version’s of NRBQ’s Magnet, so happy campers over here.

Drive By TruckersShane Nicholson
Drive-By TruckersAmerican Band
In a year of many great records, this stands tall above the crowd. It’s everything I love about the Truckers: gutsy and raw, clever and thoughtful, sometimes irreverent and full of attitude, and sometimes tender and restrained. Imagine a bastard-child born to Son Volt, Matthew Ryan and Uncle Tupelo, but all dressed up in those well-worn and unmistakable Drive-By Truckers clothes. How could that not make for the coolest kid on the block this year?

Conor OberstJack Carty
Conor OberstRuminations
It’s bloody beautiful in its simplicity. Gorgeous songs performed honestly. It seems like every track is a complete performance and any imperfections only enhance the sincerity of it all for me. Such an incredibly good songwriter.

Hayes CarllThe Weeping Willows
Hayes CarllLovers and Leavers
Lovers and Leavers is Hayes Carll’s most personal, introspective and “exposed” album to date, both in terms of the intimate, confessional songwriting and the stripped back arrangements, reminiscent of Heartbreaker era Ryan Adams, never saying too much – or too little. This intimacy draws you in, while Carll’s vulnerability captures you and takes you on a journey through heartache and reflection. Hayes was always in good hands with dynamic duo Joe Henry (producer) and Ryan Freeland (engineer) at the wheel, steering gently towards a common, graceful goal. Henry’s arrangements are characteristically unique yet elegant and tasteful, while Freeland brings his trademark clarity and warmth. Check it out if you’re fans of the late, great Guy Clark and/or Townes Van Zandt or fellow Texans, Steve Earle and Kevin Welch. Stand out tracks: “Sake of The Song”, “The Magic Kid” and “Drive”.

Iggy PopKelly Day (Broads)
Iggy PopPost Pop Depression
Sometimes you’ll find a record that makes you feel high from the moment it begins. Iggy’s new album, channelled through the hooky sounds of Josh Homme and given a Bowie-esque lean, made me grin like a mad person. And then immediately take it for another spin.

Robert EllisMegan Cooper
Robert EllisRobert Ellis
I was waiting to go on air for an interview. While we were pfaffing around getting ready “The High Road” came on. I pretended I knew who Robert Ellis was when I was advised who the artist was that had pretty much hypnotised me in 30 seconds flat. I went out and paid cash money for the album the next day. Every song got me on first listen. Cinematic moments. Super personal bits. Non-standard approaches. Aspirational.

PassengerSam Brittain
PassengerYoung As The Morning, Old As The Sea
Mike has always had a wonderful way of crafting simple and memorable melodies. Combine this with his always captivating lyrics and you have a master songwriter who’s tunes that sneak their way into your day. Songs that sooner or later without realising you find yourself humming whilst waiting in line for your morning coffee. Although often his storytelling veers on on the darker side of heartbreak and loss this latest album has a lighter touch, proving Passenger is and a yard stick for the aspiring modern folk troubadour. A dynamic artist who’s albums have been true to his own brand since day one. Additionally his band on this record are also fantastic live. I recently caught his show to a sold out Vicar Street in Dublin, it was one I won’t soon forget.

Bon IverAde Vincent (The Tiger and Me)
Bon Iver22, A Million
Another great record from Bon Iver – I have loved all three so far. I like how it also pushes into some new and interesting territory with the production. The auto-tuned a cappella of “715 – CR∑∑KS” is a particular highlight

Margaret GlaspyMaia Marsh
Margaret GlaspyEmotions and Math
It makes me feel really empowered whenever I listen to it, as a woman myself playing music. The songs are strong, guitar tone is great and her voice has this amazing growl that cuts through a sincere sensitivy at the same time.

BlondDirewolf
Frank OceanBlond
My hat is profusely off to an artist who can seamlessly bridge so many facets of musical integrity. What I mean by that nonsensical shit is that the entire record is some kind of highly strung soundboard (literally) which either sends you flying high just to get high, or high because you’re just too fucking upset. “Skyline To” and “Seigfried” are perfect examples. The whole collective arrangement kills me too, it’s like listening to recent Bon Iver whilst playing Sega in a radio store – the musicality is superb. I could say a lot more, but I’ll safely surrender by saying it definitely influenced the direction of my mind in doing another record.

Bon IverWildwood Kin
Bon Iver22, A Million
Easily. We’ve never heard anything quite like it. It’s just genius.

Tattletale SaintsGeorge Jackson (The Company, Buffalo Nickel, One Up, Two Down)
Tattletale SaintsTattletale Saints
Nashville based, New Zealand duo Tattletale Saints released their self-titled, second album this year, and it’s beautiful. Cy Winstanley (Guitars, Vocals) can pen songs with the best of them, his offerings on this album range from self-reflective and insightful, to sometimes cynical and cutting but always with a masterful craftsmanship. Vanessa McGown (Double Bass, Vocals) provides both solid and virtuosic Double Bass playing and vintage tinged country vocals. The new album is definitely a departure from their earlier acoustic recordings – but for a new fan, like me coming along, this is a bold and engaging listen complete with a production dripping in vintage tones and depth. Listen, and enjoy!

Genni KaneBill Jackson
Genni KaneSelfies
Ex-member of seminal Australian band, The Flying Emus, Genni Kane has a voice that can’t be denied. This long awaited record shows she is also a very gifted songwriter and the opening track “Little White Dog” is the beginning of a beautiful journey that deserves your attention.

Nancy KerrRuth Hazleton (http://www.billjacksonmusic.com/, Kate Burke & Ruth Hazleton)
Nancy KerrInstar
A heady mix of poetry, politics and social commentary, Nancy Kerr’s Instar is an achingly beautiful collection of original songs framed within the landscape of traditional folk music. Beautifully performed and produced, Instar is, without doubt, one of the masterpieces of folk from 2016 and a work that will inform the tradition for a long time to come.

Fanny LumsdenThe Pigs
Fanny LumsdenSmall Town Big Shot
This album is full of great songs written from Fanny’s heart. She’s the real McCoy. Whenever we see her play live her songs get stuck in our head for weeks after. “Bravest Of Hearts”, “Soapbox” and “Don’t Let The Bastards Get You Down” are just a few of the crackers on this rekid. This is a breath of fresh air for Australian Country Music. We love Fanny! More… More…

Side PonyHannah Acfield (The Acfields)
Lake Street DiveSide Pony
Give me a bit of 60’s sounding soul any day of the week! The songs are catchy, nice melodies and make you wanna move. I’m a sucker for a sterling vocalist. This was fav album for me.

Julia JacklinWillowy
Julia JacklinDon’t Let The Kids Win
An album about the little things in life that somehow manages to sum up the bigger things as well, cutting right through the mess to the heart of it all. Beautifully written and perfectly executed. It’s lovely to see an artist from the Sydney folk music family reaching great heights with an exceptional debut album.

John FlanaganSal Kimber (Sal Kimber & The Rollin’ Wheel)
John FlanaganThere’s Another Way To Where You’re Going

Bill ChambersRicky Pann (The Willing Ponies)
Bill ChambersCold Trail
Jen MizeWarnings and Wisdom
Sam BushStoryman
Bill Chambers is an Australian Journeyman troubadour. Songwriter, producer, sideman and front man, Bills live shows have influenced many and earned him a legion of devoted fans. Cold trail is Bills first studio album in four years and reminds the rock pop acts infiltrating modern country of where the heart of country lies. Cold Trail is a collection of honky-tonk “life lived” country that is the real deal. Produced by Bill and Recorded at his son Nash Chambers foggy mountain studios, Cold Trail is a world class record that draws on many influences to deliver country authenticity with Aussie perspective. A cracker record.
It’s a long way from Jen Mize roots in the Appliacian mountains of Georgia and North Carolina as a decedent of Lumbee Tribe of native Americans to the Sunshine coast of Queensland. Jen Mize is the real deal in every respect. An American songwriter with an incredible voice delivering an album packed with dynamic, well-crafted songs that’s all killer no filler. Shane Nicholson’s earthy production, arrangments and playing provide a tastefully rich sonic pallet that does this fine singer justice. The album glides from old-timey to traditional country and honky tonk, setting a very high bar of authenticity. An absolute stand out record.
Sixty-four-year-old Sam Bush has many stories to tell as a musician, innovator, writer and singer. One of my favourite musicians on the planet, Sam is a bluegrass master and the father of newgrass music spawned from his groundbreaking band the New Grass Revival. Sam is arguably one of the most influential mandolin players in history having played with just about everyone from Bill Monroe to Leon Russell. This record is a collection of finely crafted songs with a crack band featuring vocals from Emmylou Harris and Alison Kraus. A masterful record.

The Cat Empire & Xavier Rudd Announce Co-Headline Tour

CEXR
Image Courtesy of The Cat Empire and Xavier Rudd

Two of Australia’s most loved roots artists The Cat Empire and Xavier Rudd and teaming for a co-headline tour this summer.

The tour will see The Cat Empire and Xavier Rudd perform a bunch of open-air concerts around the country supported by Sahara Beck, Ocean Valley and Harts.

“We’ve been crossing paths with Xavier Rudd at festivals in Australia and internationally for many years, and we’ve always had a great time together,” Felix Riebl from The Cat Empire explained. “Add Sahara Beck and Harts to the mix, it should be an amazing summer. We’re very excited about this one, it’ll be a full and colourful stage.”

“I’ve always had a tonne of respect for The Cat Empire guys since the start,” Xavier Rudd added. “Deadly musicians and lovely people. Over the last 15 or so years touring around the world and seeing their posters in so many different towns and countries has always brought me a smile. I guess it’s about time that we teamed up to do some shows together & I’m stoked to share a stage with these legends back on home soil early in 2017!”

Check out the full list of dates below:

Thursday 26th January – St David’s Park, Hobart, TAS
Sunday 29th January2017 – North Gardens, Ballarat, VIC
Saturday 4th February – Red Devil Park, Byron Bay, NSW
Sunday 5th February – Sandstone Point, Bribie Island, QLD
Saturday 11th February – Glenelg Beach, Adelaide, SA
Sunday 12th February – Stuart Park, Wollongong, NSW

The Mullum Music Festival Announce First Lineup for 2016

Eilen Jewell
Image Courtesy of Eilen Jewell

The Mullum Music Festival has long been held up as one of the country’s best and it has a long history supporting of folk, country, roots and Americana artists throughout the years.

It looks like 2016 is going to be another cracking festival with the first round of artists announced today. The lineup includes plenty of Timber and Steel friendly music including Eilen Jewell (above), The Harpoonist & the Axe Murderer, Julien Baker, Henry Wagons & The Only Children, Matt Andersen, Suzannah Espie, William Crighton, Lior, Bobby Alu and the Palm Royale, Sahara Beck, Hat Fitz & Cara, Jordie Lane and many more.

The Mullum Music Festival takes place in the northern NSW town of Mullumbimby from the 17th to 20th November. Tickets are already on sales – check the official site for details.

The full lineup of artists announced this morning is below:

Eilen Jewell (USA), The Harpoonist & the Axe Murderer (CAN), Julien Baker (USA), Henry Wagons & The Only Children, Olympia, Gareth Liddiard, Matt Andersen (CAN), Tash Sultana, Suzannah Espie, William Crighton, Lior, Epizo Bangoura (West Africa), The Meltdown, Bobby Alu and the Palm Royale, Sahara Beck, Hat Fitz & Cara, Jordie Lane

Folk Music on the 2016 Bello Winter Music Festival Lineup

Willie Watson
Image Courtesy of Willie Watson

After a massively successful debut last year the Bello Winter Music festival returns this July and once again the lineup is full of folky and rootsy goodness.

First of all, if you haven’t heard, the headliner this year is the fantastic Willie Watson. Watson, who was a founding member of Old Crow Medicine Show, was recently in the country as part of the Dave Rawlings Machine but will return this time around in solo mode. And we’ve also heard he’ll be a part of the Gram Parsons Project event at the festival with a bunch of other artists.

Other folk leaning artists on the Bello Winter Music lineup include Jeff Lang, Jaaleekaay, Joshua Hedley, Bobby Alu, Sahara Beck, Yirrmal, The Twoks, Miss Eileen & King Lear, All Our Exes Live in Texas, William Crighton, Inga Liljestrom, Merryn Jeann, Loren Kate, Raised By Eagles, Sweet Jean, Green Mohair Suits, Aine Tyrrell, The Mid North, Brian Campeau, Claire Anne Taylor, Tullara Connors, Madeline Leman and The Desert Swells, Diamond Duck and many many more.

The Bello Winter Music festival takes place in Bellingen, NSW from the 7th to 10th July. Check out the offical web site for more details.

The full lineup is as follows:

Willie Watson (USA), Jeff Lang, Kylie Auldist, Tijuana Cartel, Mojo Juju, L-FRESH The LION, Jaaleekaay (W Afr/Aus), Joshua Hedley (USA), Jazz Party, Bullhorn, Allensworth (US), Tora, Bobby Alu (solo), Sahara Beck, Yirrmal, TEK TEK Ensemble, King Tide, Majiwa (KEN), The Twoks, Miss Eileen & King Lear, All Our Exes Live in Texas, William Crighton, Inga Liljestrom, The Seven Ups, Desmond Cheese, New Venusians, Merryn Jeann, Loren Kate, Gyan, Jo Jo Smith, Raised By Eagles, Sweet Jean, Greg Sheehan, Brian Nankervis, Liam Power, Joel Salom, Mandy Nolan, Mae Wilde, Green Mohair Suits, Aine Terrell, The Grand Magoozi, The Mid North, Ilona Harker, Bunya, Brian Campeau, Claire Anne Taylor, Tullara Connors, Madeline Leman and The Desert Swells, Diamond Duck, Baby Blue, Levingstone, Noam Blat, Drama King, Then Joelene, STAV, The Brothers, The Spangled Drongos, Kaya Boom’s Love Songs, Fish on Fire, Tim Porter, Siobhan Corcoran, Honey & Knives, Horns on Helium, Bellingen Afrobeat Ensemble, The Cassettes, How Deep is Your Love?, Bollywood Sisters, The Amazing Drumming Monkeys, Roundabout Theatre, The BlueSkillet Rover Van, Tales & Songs

Review: 5 things we learned at Bluesfest

Kale plays at Bluesfest 2016Kaleo playing Bluesfest
Photos by Stuart Bucknell

Year after year, Bluesfest manages to bring the big names and the impressive acts to Byron Bay for the annual Easter pilgrimage. Heading to Bluesfest this year, we really didn’t know many of the acts listed on the bill and wondered just what was in store for us, Timber and Steel wise. So here’s 5 things we learned at this year’s wildly successful, ultimate music sampler opportunity that is, Bluesfest.

#1 – Peter Noble knows how to program…

One thing is for sure, Peter Noble knows how to curate an inclusive, diverse and engaging festival. The big names drew enormous crowds to all their sets. City and Colour had the crowd from the first note and Dallas Green was on form all night.  The Decemberists gave their usual charming set delving in to a fabulous back catalogue of favourites. Not to go without a bit of political comment, they also played a song they thought to offer Donald Trump as his new campaign tune, ‘The Calamity Song’. The Cat Empire delivered a solid hour and a half set jam packed with both new tracks and past hits and favourites to wow the crowd. The biggest coup was probably The Original Blues Brothers Band closing out the weekend with a stellar set of their signature blues.

The festival was dappled with big names throughout the program. Archie Roach was in fine form, weaving his musical spell over the crowd and telling the tales of the land with strength and beauty, and a focus on songs from Charcoal Lane, the title track being a particular stand out moment of the set. Jason Isbell had his one an only set up against The Original Blues Brothers Band, so splitting our time between the two was challenging but rewarding as Isbell’s enigmatic style caught watchers in it’s thrall delivering a contemporary counterpoint to the old school blues on the other stage.

Kim Churchill plays BluesfestBut one of the most notable names for me, still playing midday sets, was Kim Churchill. Getting his big break on the Bluesfest Buskers stage all those years ago, Churchill has been a staple name on the line up ever since. His absence in 2015 was noted and the crowds that gathered for this sets this year spoke strongly of his popularity for the Bluesfest crowd. Watching him command the stage, with the occasional accompaniment of a fiddle player or percussionists, was a joy to witness and testament to the following he has. It felt like he had come home, and in the process had evolved from a keen boy with a guitar to a passionate man with a solid musical career stretching before him.

#2 – It’s never just about the Blues. Folk, Country, and Americana all strongly represented in 2016

Strolling from stage to stage, the peeling licks and plucky chords of the more folky persuasion were both notable and popular with punters, letting us stumble across all kinds of gems.  LA based Lord Huron made quite the entrance with a tension building soundscape and crescendo, an upbeat strummy and infectious style, inventive percussion beneath the acoustic lead and an ability to morph between styles, from the old school feel reminiscent of the 50s and 60s summer soundtracks, through alt country and indie folk rock vibes. A particular highlight from the four-piece was ‘Hurricane’, billed as a song about “getting in trouble”, turns out it was aptly named.

Described as an Icelandic Indie pop/rock/folk band, Kaleo was a light and lyrical delight. Building from their delicate opening style to gutsy, rhythm driven choruses, through alt-country sensibilities to deep southern style blues, and a soulful cover of Bang Bang, Kaleo didn’t hesitate to transcend styles and genres to sign off with a blues rock riff and howling vocals when warranted.

The Bros Landreth, hailing from Canada, brought their alt-country and folk laden cover of Wings’ ‘Let ‘Em In’ to break the ice and then let the Americana tinged goodness flow forth. A family affair, big brother David couldn’t attend so father Wally came in his place and whipped the crowd in to a cheering craze.

The Mastersons were touring with Steve Earle & The Dukes, and made appearances both on Earle’s sets and one of their own solo shows for Bluesfest. Their lyrical country styling, featuring voices working together in diverse melodic harmony gave their day opening set a contemplative mood, transporting the crowd to simpler days. Earle’s set was one great big treat of blues soaked tunes with toe-tapping jivey bluegrass edge, all with the sweet country counterpoint of The Mastersons.

Hound mouth playing Bluesfest 2016

It seemed to be a fatherly affair this Bluesfest, with Hussy Hicks welcoming Julz’s dad Greg to their set to deliver some blistering harmonica to their upbeat tempo and at times Joplin-esque wails and passion. Indiana’s Houndmouth however had no dad’s on their line up but did have plenty of twangy blues and American drawl to open their show and unravel your soul where you stood.

#3 – Word of Mouth is King

You know when you look at a line up and you’re not really sure what acts to check out? Well Bluesfest was that way inclined for many but within the first 8 hours, gossip was abuzz with recommendations and wild tales of phenomenal shows and must see acts to catch. So here’s what we checked out based purely on word of mouth.

Steve Smyth plays at Bluesfest 2016

OK, so Steve Smyth isn’t exactly news to us, but the stir on site had his name on the tips of peoples tongues and boy did he live up to the hype. Sheer genius stood on that stage in the form of master lyricist and vibrant stage presence. Smyth’s beautiful voice and stunning vibrato was just powerful solo as with the support backing instrumentalists. His performance of ‘Southland’ blew socks off across the festival.

Shooglenifty, also known as ‘that band I can’t pronounce’, was not what you expect when you read “Celtic” on the program, but a glorious blend of traditional highland derived tunes that were heavy on the fiddle and a mandolin at the ready, intricately twined with modern rhythms, a few electric guitars and a toe tapping beat, drew punters in before they could saunter too far past the heaving tent.

Blind Boy Paxton plays at Bluesfest 2016

The was no way to walk through the site without hearing the name, Blind Boy Paxton. Listening to his set was like a walk through time, from a fiddle calling a country dance and bransles, to a lightning speed banjo frenzy, a soothing guitar tune and even a lone harmonica telling you it’s tale. All this from one man on stage – simply astonishing.

#4 – The Ladies are out in force! And you should catch all of them live

There was a lot of talk about various acts, and word of mouth certainly got us to see some great performers, but thanks to emphatic and multiple recommendations from all kinds of punters, we discovered some of the most phenomenal women who stamped their mark and left as some of the powerhouses of Bluesfest.

We caught Sahara Beck for her last set and were immediately struck by her stage presence, the smooth set up with band and back up singers added the pizazz to her swag and gave her sultry vibe a ‘pop’ on stage.

Elle King had tongues wagging as word spread that after her first, expletive laden set, her set list had to be ‘revised’. However her husky, growling vocal licks were well and truly flowing when we caught her set in a heaving tent overflowing in to the customary Bluesfest rain. Sass and attitude would be the plainest way of describing King, her vibrancy comes from her musical versatility and ability to weave country vibes and bluegrassy panache throughout her ballsy bluesy set. A chameleon of style, King bowled over crowds with big notes, fiery wit and feisty repartee.

Elle King plays at Bluesfest 2016

Hailing from Ireland, via Canada, Irish Mythen is a modern troubadour equipped with a powerhouse voice and emphatic lyrics. Mythen might have been the grittiest, most real musician seen at Bluesfest this year, armed only with her guitar and her stories, she held hundreds of people spellbound, hanging on her every word any time she took to the stage. We caught her multiple times, and laughed, cried, cheered and sung along to songs we had only heard the first time days before. She regularly had the crowd in stitches with her sense of humour and story telling capers, and woe betide any punter brave enough to heckle her! Four stand out moments stayed with me, even though I saw them all more than once. Her performance of ‘Tullamore Blues’ almost defies description, except that the crowd was with her, in that space, singing every word and feeling every sentiment. Jesus is an experience to behold, hilarious in it’s explanation and empowering in it’s performance, I sincerely hope every person gets to experience it live. Her a Capella rendition of ‘The Auld Triangle’ gives me chills and is simply astounding.  And finally ’55 Years’ had me (and most in the crowd) in tears for the beauty it captures in it’s tale. A truly moving experience. Irish Mythen is awe inspiring and we’re excited she’ll be visiting Australia again soon.

Rhiannon Giddens plays at Bluesfest 2016

And finally, probably the all-singing, all-dancing highlight of the ladies was Rhiannon Giddens. Establishing herself originally as a part of Carolina Chocolate Drops, Giddens’ solo work is a sight to behold and a treat to hear. Her stunning vocals are soulful yet soar high in beautiful arcs and trills of an almost Celtic style. The skill of her band melds electric with acoustic in wonderful instrumental breaks, bouncing off one another jamming to a crescendo and returning the spotlight to her lead when the time was right. Her banjo crept through tunes to pounce on you unawares, yet could alternate and become the hero of the song. Old Bob Dylan lyrics never previously turned in to songs until Giddens got her hands on them offered a treasure trove to discover. Doing a Dolly Parton cover can be tough, but Giddens’ rendition of ‘Don’t Let It Trouble Your Mind’ saw her own the song completely, from every element of style through to her emotive connection with both lyrics and sentiment. From start to finish and for each and every set, she wowed the crowd with fiddle, banjo, modern takes on traditional style, soul stirring lyrics and even a step back in time to the 1920s. Her fancy footwork went down a treat and her ability to connect with the audience and tether them to her tale as the most exquisite experience to behold. She could chat to the crowd but make you feel like she spoke to you and you alone, and yet at all times Rhiannon Giddens continued to exist as her own ineffable self.

#5 – Soul is in, along with BIG bands

Now strictly speaking, Timber and Steel doesn’t really cover Soul, but the prevalence of the big band style soul injections at Bluesfest is worthy of admiration and appreciation, so it gets a gong here.

Emma Donovan & The Putbacks were a sight to behold as Donovan put her own stamp on soul, with earthy tones and a voice that rolled over the crowd, calling to them, beckoning them to hear her story. The combination of her stories and passionate, soulful delivery made for a tight set and profound performance.

I wrote down 4 words when seeing The Word, and two of them were expletives… “holy f***ing sh*t wow.” The couple of songs we caught were incredible, full of funky groves and some sweet slide guitar, all topped off with an electric organ. Very smooth and cool indeed.

Ash Grunwald plays at Bluesfest 2016Ash Grunwald hasn’t moved in to soul, but his Bluesfet setup did resemble the big backing bands of the soul acts and boy did it compliment his wailing blues. Never conforming to just one genre, Grunwald drew on bluegrass vibes, some indie rock to his blues and of course his signature commentary on Australian life. Playing River from his new album, Grunwald spoke about the anti-CSG message prevalent throughout his most recent recordings and confirmed he was among friends int he Bluesfest crowd. His set was punctuated with old favourites as highlights, crowds rollicking in his passionate performance and joining in to sing along on choruses, and the utter delight when Kasey Chambers joined him on stage for a brand new song was palpable.

Another of the tongue wagging recommendations was for Vintage Trouble, and my first impression was that lead singer Ty Taylor was sex on legs, with enough swagger stuffed in to a cravat and suit to fell an army. And when the full band kicked in, it blew the show off the Richter scale. A set full of southern blues, call and response, screaming and wailing blues breaks and enough on stage antics to warrant a lie down after watching. This was my kind of place, 1950s style jazzy blues, complete with energy and onstage charisma!

Vintage Trouble plays Bluesfest 2016

Now, if you haven’t yet heard of the phenomenal popularity and praise for Bluesfest debutants St. Paul and The Broken Bones, then you haven’t been doing the internet properly. Of all the word of mouth recommendations, St Paul and The Broken Bones was THE most talked about act at Bluesfest, and not without good reason. A big band blues-laden soul outfit, oozing funk, with a big personality for a front man in Paul Janeway. Opening with an almighty wail and sliding in to a crooning style track, the crowd knew exactly where they stood and were rooted to the spot to witness the explosive show by one of the most engaging acts we’ve seen in years. Janeway, on behalf of the entire band, exclaimed that Bluesfest was the best experience they had ever had and they would definitely be coming back to Australia, to which the crowd erupted with delight. A set filled with rumbling soul, emotive ballads and big, ballsy blues, St Paul and The Broken Bones is sure to be a high rotation favourite on many punters playlists for some time to come.

St Paul and The Broken Bones plays Bluesfest 2016

Without a doubt, Bluesfest’s skillfully curated 2016 lineup was a smash hit success, sure to be spoken of for years to come. Can’t wait to see what Peter Noble comes up with for 2017!

Thank Folk It’s Friday – 1st April

TFIF

This Week in Folk

All the News From The Week That Was

Andrew Bird released his new video “Roma Fade”. Details here

Tracy McNeil & The Goodlife released their new single “Paradise”. Details here

– US singer-songwriter Ryan Bingham has announced Australian tour dates. Details here

Emmy the Great released her new video “Algorithm”. Details here

José González released his new video “With The Ink of a Ghost”. Details here

– Brisbane based singer-songwriter Sahara Beck released details of her upcoming album Panacea. Details here

Releases This Week

Andrew Bird
Are You SeriousAndrew Bird
iTunes

Sufjan
Illinois: Special 10th Anniversary Blue MarvelSufjan Stevens
Official Site

William Fitzsimmons
Charleroi: Pittsburgh, Volume 2William Fitzsimmons
iTunes

Timber and Steel Presents

The Timbers

William Fitzsimmons

Friday 1st April – Mt Gambier Hotel, Mt Gambier, SA
Saturday 2nd April – The Yarra Hotel, Melbourne, VIC

Timber and Steel Recommends – Go To This Gig

Jason Isbell

Jason Isbell

Jason Isbell could well be one of the greatest songwriters of his generation. Melbourne, Adelaide and Sydney, you’re in for a treat.

Friday 1st April – The Croxton Hotel, Melbourne, VIC
Saturday 2nd April – Silver Raven Festival, Adelaide, SA
Sunday 3rd April – Enmore Theatre, Sydney, NSW

Gigs Next Week

April Maze
Saturday 2nd April – The Rhythm Cafe, Foster, VIC
Thursday 7th April – The Toff in Town, Melbourne, VIC

Blind Boys of Alabama
Friday 1st April – Melbourne Recital Centre, Melbourne, VIC
Saturday 2nd April – Factory Theatre, Sydney, NSW

City and Colour w/ Little May
Saturday 2nd April – Sidney Myer Music Bowl, Melbourne, VIC
Monday 4th April – Enmore Theatre, Sydney, NSW
Tuesday 5th April – Enmore Theatre, Sydney, NSW
Friday 8th April – Anita’s Theatre, Thirroul, NSW

Daniel Champagne
Friday 1st April – Canberra Musicians Club, Canberra, ACT
Saturday 2nd April – Mumbulla School Hall, Bega, NSW
Sunday 3rd April – Newtown Social Club, Sydney, NSW
Thursday 7th April – Townsville Folk and Acoustic Music Club, Currajong, QLD
Friday 8th April – Visy Theatre, New Farm, QLD

El Grande
Wednesday 6th April – Rad, Wollongong, NSW

Festival of Small Halls feat. Vishtèn, The Little Stevies, Rob Longstaff
Friday 1st April – Balgownie Village Community Centre, Balgownie, NSW
Saturday 2nd April – Bloomfield Hall, Orange, NSW
Sunday 3rd April – Simpson Pavilion Grenfell Showground, Grenfell, NSW

FolkSwagon w/ Nikki Steinfeld, The Delta Revue, Liam Gale
Wednesday 6th April – Cafe Lounge, Sydney, NSW

Gordie Tentrees
Friday 1st April – Magda Community Artz, Brisbane, QLD
Saturday 2nd April – Hervey Bay Community Centre, Hervey Bay, QLD
Sunday 3rd April – Hervey Bay Community Centre, Hervey Bay, QLD
Monday 4th April – Marion’s Place, Alstonville, NSW
Tuesday 5th April – Wingham Concerts, Wauchope, NSW
Wednesday 6th April – Lizottes, Newcastle, NSW
Thursday 7th April – Billyroys Blues Bar, Goldmines Hotel, Bendigo, VIC
Friday 8th April – The Singing Gallery, McLaren Vale, SA

Hootenanny
Sunday 3rd April – Miss Peaches, Sydney, NSW

Jaron Freeman-Fox & The Opposite of Everything
Friday 1st April – Live at The Wharf, Ulverstone, TAS
Saturday 2nd April – Mountain Mumma, Sheffield, TAS
Sunday 3rd April – MONA, Museum of Old and New Art, Hobart, TAS
Thursday 7th April – Clancy’s Fish Pub, Fremantle, WA

Jason Isbell
Friday 1st April – The Croxton Hotel, Melbourne, VIC
Saturday 2nd April – Silver Raven Festival, Adelaide, SA
Sunday 3rd April – Enmore Theatre, Sydney, NSW

Jordie Lane
Friday 1st April – Music on the Hill, Red Hill, VIC

Lachlan Bryan & The Wildes
Thursday 7th April – The Retreat, Melbourne, VIC
Friday 8th April – Clancy’s, Fremantle, WA

Liam Gerner
Friday 8th April – The Wheatsheaf, Adelaide, SA

Man From Snowy River Bush Festival
Thursday 31st March to Sunday 3rd April – Corryong, VIC

Mark Lucas and The Dead Setters
Friday 1st April – The Gasoline Pony, Sydney, NSW

Mark Moldre
Friday 8th April – The Vanguard, Sydney, NSW

Mitch Power
Sunday 3rd April – Wesley Anne, Melbourne, VIC

Paddy McHugh and Andy Golledge
Friday 1st April – The Midnight Special, Sydney, NSW

Oh Pep!
Wednesday 6th April – The Jade Monkey, Adelaide, SA
Friday 8th April – Northcote Social Club, Melbourne, VIC

Riley Pearce
Friday 1st April – The Newsagency, Sydney, NSW
Sunday 3rd April – The Workers Club, Melbourne, NSW

Ruby Boots
Sunday 3rd April – The Astor Theatre, Perth, WA

Sahara Beck
Saturday 2nd April- Port Macquarie Blues and BBQ Festival, Port Macquarie, NSW

Sal Kimber & The Rollin’ Wheel and John Flanagan
Thursday 7th April – Mountain Mama, Sheffield, TAS

Sam Newton and Chris Gillespie
Sunday 3rd April – The Midnight Special, Sydney, NSW

Sian Evans
Wednesday 6th April – The Foundry, Brisbane, QLD

Sydney Bluegrass & Old-Time Music Get-together
Saturday 2nd April – Annandale Neighbourhood Centre, Sydney, NSW

The Button Collective
Friday 8th April – Howlin’ Wolf Bar, Wollongong, NSW

The East Pointers
Friday 1st April – Yamba Community Centre, Yamba, NSW
Saturday 2nd April – Old Museum, Brisbane, QLD
Sunday 3rd April – Eatonsville Hall, Eatonsville, NSW
Wednesday 6th April – Unorthodox Church of Groove, Newcastle, NSW
Thursday 7th April – Brass Monkey, Cronulla, NSW
Friday 8th April – Hotel Gearin, Katoomba, NSW

The Go Set
Friday 8th April – Southern Cross Hotel, Gold Coast, QLD

The Little Stevies
Friday 1st April – Balgownie Village Community Centre, Balgownie, NSW
Saturday 2nd April – Bloomfield Hall, Orange, NSW
Sunday 3rd April – Simpson Pavilion Grenfell Showground, Grenfell, NSW

The Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band
Friday 1st April – Railway Institute Hall, Thirroul, NSW
Saturday 2nd April – Hotel Gearin, Katoomba, NSW
Sunday 3rd April – Petersham Bowling Club, Sydney, NSW
Tuesday 5th April – Cat & Fiddle Hotel, Sydney, NSW

The Timbers
Friday 1st April – Mt Gambier Hotel, Mt Gambier, SA
Saturday 2nd April – The Yarra Hotel, Melbourne, VIC

The Weeping Willows
Friday 1st April – Harmonie German Club’s Friday Night Live, Canberra, ACT
Saturday 2nd April – Django Bar, Marrickville, NSW
Monday 4th April – Jane’s, Wollongong, NSW

Tim Guy
Friday 1st April – Vic on the Park, Sydney, NSW
Saturday 2nd April – Smiths Alternative, Canberra, ACT

Vaudevillia by Mic Conway’s National Junk Band & Guests
Friday 1st April – Camelot Lounge, Sydney, NSW

Vishtèn
Friday 1st April – Wooloongong Hall, Wooloongong, NSW
Saturday 2nd April – Bloomfield Hall, Orange, NSW
Sunday 3rd April – Simpson Pavillion, Grenfell, NSW

Friday Folk Flashback

“Rox in the Box” – The Decemberists

If you caught The Decemberists in Sydney this week you would have seen Colin Meloy forget the words to this track before revisiting it later in the set for an absolutely cracking version. I love the way “Rox in the Box” ties into the folk tradition borrowing the tune for “Raggle Taggle Gypsy” as its refrain.

Sahara Beck Announces New Album Panacea

Sahara Beck
Image Courtesy of Sahara Beck

The buzz on Brisbane based singer-songwriter Sahara Beck continues to grow with the announcement of her new album Panacea. Die on the 22nd April, the album was recorded in a week long session at the legendary 301 Byron Bay studios, right before it closed for good. The album sees Beck, along with long time collaborator and engineer Jeff Lovejoy exploring a number of influences from jazz and soul to glitchy beats.

The track listing and the first single “Here it Comes” are here:

1. Here It Comes
2. Tapping On the Roof
3. Spinning Time
4. Ooh LaLa
5. Crack Bang Bang
6. I’m In Love
7. Everyone Wants Noise
8. Sarah
9. Mother Mother
10. Don’t Hold Your Breath

To celebrate the release of Panacea Sahara Beck is heading out on tour this May – check out the full list of dates below:

Saturday 2nd April- Port Macquarie Blues and BBQ Festival, Port Macquarie, NSW
Thursday 12th May – The Gasometer Hotel, Melbourne, VIC
Friday 13th May – Sooki Lounge, Melbourne, VIC
Saturday 14th May – The Workers Club, Geelong, VIC
Thursday 19th May – Newtown Social Club, Sydney, NSW
Friday 20th May – RAD, Wollongong, NSW
Saturday 21st May – Lizottes, Newcastle, NSW
Sunday 22nd May – Brass Monkey, Sydney, NSW
Friday 27th May – The Triffid, Brisbane, QLD
Saturday 28th May – Big Pineapple Festival, Sunshine Coast, QLD
Friday 10th June – Studio 188, Ipswich, QLD

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