Single release: ‘Only Highs’ by Brendan McMahon

400x400bb.jpegIt’s good to have certain songs in mind for certain occasions. There are the songs that help you rev up for a night out; there are the ones that can help you wallow when that’s what you need. There are also songs that you can rely on to make you smile, whether you are feeling sad or not. If you’re feeling sad they can shift your mood; if you’re not, they will enhance a day this is already pretty good. Those songs, therefore, tend to be played more often because you can rely on them – however you feel before you start listening, you’re going to feel better, or even better, after listening.

In that respect the new single from Melbourne singer-songwriter Brendan McMahon, ‘Only Highs’, is going straight to the pool room. From the opening bars it’s impossible to not feel reassured, and soothed, then appreciative that the song exists. It’s a really lovely expression of love and joy, and of recognition for the important details of life that can be overlooked if we don’t pay attention.

McMahon has a long musical history, from playing in cover bands in his teens and twenties to releasing solo albums in 2015 and 2016 under the moniker Satellite Gods, and another album in 2017 called This Fine Occasion. Yet ‘Only Highs’ is the first duet he’s ever recorded, and he shares the vocals with Amber Ferraro, who leads Melbourne disco-house band Honey. It is not, however, the first time the two have worked together, as Amber has provided backing vocals on all three of Brendan’s albums, and their comfort with each other makes for a seamless blend on ‘Only Highs’.

The song is taken from McMahon’s forthcoming album In the Moment, to be released in November. You can watch the video below or listen to the song on:

Apple Music | Artist’s website | Spotify

 

 

 

www.brendanmcm.com

Interview: Whistle Dixie

WD Album Cover.jpgNewcastle, NSW, band Whistle Dixie have a wonderful new album, Blast Off, that captures their old-time sound and wonderful harmonies. But while the band’s sound is firmly in the country music pantheon, they are now known to all sorts of audiences, having appeared as a support act for artists such as Diesel and The Whitlams. This year they’ve appeared at the Groundwater Music Festival and this weekend they’ll be at the  Gympie Muster, and the Deni Ute Muster in October. I found out more about the band recently by talking ot multi-instrumentalist John.

How did the band form? I did my research but could not find that story.

We formed about five years ago. I met Sheldon first. We were friends through church and then both had a love to for this style and genre [of music]. We got together and played and it worked really, really well. We then started auditioning a few years later for a new singer and Sheldon had grown up with Kyla. Kyla was singing with Seven Sopranos. We contacted her to see if she’d be interested in auditioning. She was the last interview out of a whole bunch and she blew us away, and the rest is history. It just really blended beautifully.

So you said you and Sheldon had a love for this kind of music. Where did that start for you? What’s your musical background?

My dad used to listen to country music while I was growing up and had a brother who was spinning records and playing fifties rock and roll record. So I guess I never had a chance! As I got into my teenage years I got into rock, as you do, and country wasn’t even a thought. But then I heard a song called ‘I Found Jesus on the Jail House Floor’ by George Strait. I was with some friends and heard this song on the radio and I told them basically to be quiet. I remember listening to the guitar and the music. That moment changed my life, I guess. It was just one of the defining moments. I later found out the guitar player was Brent Mason, who is one of the most recorded guitar players in the country. So I kind of fell in love with it from that point onwards. It comes down to a single song and, and now it’s just how we are and how we live.

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Album review: Driving Out of Eden by Corey Legge

713+0RpD3ML._SS500_Corey Legge is a singer-songwriter originally from Bega on the south coast of New South Wales, now residing in Wollongong. His debut album, Driving Out of Eden, was actually released in February – but in these days of independent releases and so much good country music to discover, it can sometimes take a while for news to filter out. Still, despite the lateness of this review, this album is worth writing about.

Legge has been performing for several years, supporting Australian acts such as The Angels and Brian Cadd, appearing at the Cobargo Folk Festival in NSW and Nukara Music Festival in WA. He’s also been the recipient of a Young Regional Artist Scholarship from CreateNSW. Intriguingly, he decided to record Driving Out of Eden in New Zealand with producer Ben Edwards, who has worked with Marlon Williams, amongst others.

This kind of background suggests a steady accumulation of skills and knowledge – a patience, perhaps, in the development of the art and craft of songwriting and performance. It’s the sort of information that’s always useful to have about an artist if you’re going to listen closely to the work, because it suggests the lineage of that artist, and it’s always interesting to try to detect that in the work. And it’s there in Legge’s highly accomplished debut release.

There are nine songs on this album and they are all very, very good. Legge’s background is in folk and Americana, and that can be heard in the musical style. But no amount of lineage or influence, really, can determine how an artist is going to connect with their audience and the key to the beauty of this album – for this listener, at least – is in Legge’s voice. There is a lot of nuance and awareness in its ravines, and light and hopefulness in its mountain tops; it brings wistfulness and sometimes an appropriate weariness to the lyrics, which are reflective and regretful in places, and which also grab the listener’s attention from the first song.

Legge has emerged relatively quietly onto the national music scene, although this is not the album of a quiet artist – an unassuming one, perhaps, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t deserve or demand your attention.

Driving Out of Eden is out now.

Apple Music | Artist’s website | Spotify

www.coreylegge.com

Single and video premiere: ‘Please Don’t Cry’ by Copperline

image003.pngCopperline are an alt-country band based in the beautiful Blue Mountains of New South Wales. Earlier this year their video ‘King of This Country’ had its premiere on this site, and today it’s the premiere for their wonderful new single, ‘Please Don’t Cry’, and its video.

The single – which is a bit of a heart-string-puller, but you’ll have to listen to find out why – comes from their album Rusty Fords and Weatherboards and was produced at Soundhole Studios by Shane Nicholson. The song was written for a friend of the band who shared a house with Copperline’s lead singer, Brad Christmas; The video was produced by Jess Gosling and shot in both the Blue Mountains and Sydney.

See Copperline live:

Thursday 29th August – ‘Please Don’t Cry’ Single Launch – Moshpit – Newtown, NSW
Thursday 26th September – Midnight Special (duo show) – Enmore, NSW
Saturday 19th October – Country Rocks Under the Stars Festival – Braidwood, NSW

Listen to Rusty Fords and Weatherboards on:

Apple Music | Bandcamp | Soundcloud | Spotify

www.facebook.com/CopperlineMusic

 

Album review: Fever Dreams by Mark Moldre

Fever Dreams Artwork.jpgIt can take a while to write an album review – not the writing itself, necessarily, but the listening. One listen to the album is not sufficient, ever. Nor is two. It’s also not appropriate to play the album in the background, not when there are lyrics involved. And certainly not when things get interesting almost immediately and there is absolutely no way that you can not stop what you’re doing and listen.

In the case of Fever Dreams, the new album from northern New South Wales singer-songwriter Mark Moldre, I made that attempt to play it in the background. Conscious that the album had been out for a few days, and wanting to write the review amidst ticking off other things on the great to-do list of life, I put it on then started addressing that to-do list. Started being the appropriate verb because the other activities were not finished, and Fever Dreams is the reason why.

This album can’t be described in a straightforward way, even if Apple Music calls it ‘alternative folk’. It’s not folk, really; it’s not country, either, or rock. That is, it’s not exclusively those things. It is all those things, and more, and has been described as ‘genre-hopping sonic bedlam, fractured Americana-hued ballads, jazz-tinged standards, old-school Jungle Book style reggae and ramshackle/rollicking noir blues’. Of course, saying it’s not one thing or another can make it sound like it’s all over the place. But it is not. It is arresting, compelling and brilliant. Lyrically, it is rich and rewarding. Stylistically, musically, it takes the listener on an exhilarating journey that has been ably handled by producer Jamie Hutchings, which will be no surprise to fans of his band Bluebottle Kiss, itself an exercise in compelling music that could not be easily labelled.

So the short message is this: Fever Dreams can’t be easily explained, nor can it be easily ignored. For the country music audience (and this is a country music website, after all), it is rich in storytelling and steeped in authenticity, elements that appear in all great country music. But it’s not country, as previously mentioned. It’s many different wonderful things, all of them worth investigating – just be prepared to devote your time and attention to this singular work, and push all thoughts of doing other things aside. You won’t regret it. Indeed, as a certain Australian music industry personality might say, you’ll be doing yourself a favour.

Fever Dreams is out now on Yellow Moon Records.

Apple Music | Artist’s website | Bandcamp | Spotify

markmoldre.com

Single release: ‘Navigate’ by Sophia Chesworth

unnamed.pngThe first time I covered Sydney singer-songwriter Sophia Chesworth on this site, she was fifteen and already a graduate of CMAA Junior Academy of Country Music and winner of the Gympie Muster Junior Talent Search, as well as of several songwriting awards, including the ‘Youth’ Section of the ASA (Australian Songwriters Association) National Songwriting Contest, ‘Youth’ Section of the TSA (Tamworth Songwriters Association) National Songwriting Contest, Open Lyrics of the Songsalive! Australia Song Comp and the Junior Songwriting Section of the CCMA (Capital Country Music Association).

Earlier this year Chesworth released her debut EP, Replay. ‘Navigate’ is the third single. It is, she says, ‘a song I wrote about a really hard choice I had to make. For me when I’m feeling confused about something I’ll turn to songwriting, and it always helps me show the way, and that’s exactly what this song did for me.’

The whole EP, produced by Matt Fell, is an example of Chesworth’s already well-developed skills. She has a wonderful voice and her lyrics reveal a clear-eyed view of the world that makes her songs relatable to audiences of all ages.

Apple Music | Spotify

www.facebook.com/sophiachesworthmusic

Interview: Lucille

Lucille 02.jpgMelbourne singer-songwriter Lucille has released two fantastic and very distinct singles, ‘The Killing Season’ and ‘Best of Me’. The first was inspired by an ABC TV series about the internal ructions of the Australian Labor Party. The second is a ballad with more romantic tones. Lucille was born in Berlin and raised in Germany, the UK, New Zealand and Australia, and she has been steeped in music since childhood. It was wonderful to have the chance to talk to her recently so I could find out more about her musical past and her eclectic present.

 

Your musical background was folk, gospel and classical. Was there anything in particular that you loved growing up or did you love it all?

It was very much a mixture of everything. What I really loved about it and what I guess is really the underlying passion all the time, regardless of the particular genre, was the playing and singing with other people. And that’s where that sort of roots music hooks you in because it’s very much about the interaction with other people and creating music together. So that’s where my bedrock is, in a way.

 

And so that was with your siblings initially?

Yes.

 

Did it strengthen your relationship as siblings to have that together?

It totally did. And even when you go through teenage years – which are sometimes eventful – we as a family, the four of us, would bond through song and we would often just spend time singing together, learning songs together, whether that was Simon and Garfunkel or a gospel song, and just have so much fun with the harmonies. So it definitely strengthened us in our relationships and I think it’s carried on till now. My younger brother, he’s a full-time musician. My older brother sings with the Melbourne Symphony Choir. So it’s carried on through.

 
Continue reading “Interview: Lucille”