Month: November 2019

Single release: ‘Southern Christmas Stars’ by Treehouse Music and Aly Cook

Southern Christmas Stars Itunes cover .jpgThere is a subgenre of Christmas carols that belongs to Australian creations, such as ‘Three Drovers’ and ‘Carol of the Birds’, to go along with Christmas-adjacent songs such as Tim Minchin’s ‘White Wine in the Sun’. What doesn’t come to mind is a joint Australian and New Zealand Christmas song – but now there is one, thanks to NZ artist Aly Cook and Kay and Buzz Bidstrup, who have created ‘Southern Christmas Stars’.

The song depicts the experience of Christmas in warm weather, as well as the joy of reuniting with loved ones. The lyrics were written by Kay Bidstrup to celebrate the Christmas homecoming of her son after a year living abroad, and Buzz Bidstrup and Cook put the music together while Cook was in Australia promoting her latest album, Caught in the Middle.

While December isn’t yet upon us, this song is a lovely way to ease into the festive spirit – and, perhaps, it will become your new Southern Hemisphere Christmas anthem.

Listen on:

Apple Music | iTunes | Spotify

Single release: ‘Late Night Letter’ by Andy Nelson

unnamed.pngAndy Nelson is a singer-songwriter from Bathurst, in the central west of New South Wales. Earlier this year he released his debut album, Man on the Mountain, which followed his debut, self-titled EP and appearances at festivals such as the National Folk Festival, The End Festival, Inland Sea of Sounds, Festival of Small Halls, Gympie Music Muster and Majors Creek Music Festival.

‘Late Night Letter’ is the second single from the album and it takes about three bars to establish that it’s likely to be devastating and unforgettable, and so it proves. The song tells the story of an adolescent boy growing up in small regional community where there was once a thriving industry that provided work and security. But – as happens all over the world – the work ends, or the industry moves elsewhere, and the people who relied on it are left behind because they can’t or are unwilling to move with the industry. (If you’re interested in an Australian perspective on this, I recommend The Death of Holden by Royce Kurmelovs.)



This is sparse instrumentation on this track, as befits the subject matter, and it’s incredibly effective, while Nelson honours the story and his lyrics with his delivery. For those who haven’t yet listened to Man on the Mountain, ‘Late Night Letter’ will provide the persuasive reason to do so immediately.

Listen/buy on:

Apple Music | Artist’s website | iTunes | Spotify




Video premiere: ‘The Drovers’ by Emma Dykes

Emma EP-26When I covered ‘The Drovers’ by Emma Dykes earlier this week, I had no idea that I’d be offered the chance to premiere the video – but it’s such a great track, how could I refuse?

This special song was inspired by a special service: the Westpac Rescue Helicopter. The helicopter team worked with Sam Davison at Two Digital Media to put the video together.

‘I’m very grateful.’ says Dykes, ‘because I wanted the clip to show a day in the life of the rescue staff.  To show the important tasks they complete and just how emotionally invested they are, in a broader sense, both the song and the video are about the emergency services in general.  They’re from all walks of life and do an incredible job.  I also noticed they included a quick shot of me!’

Watch the video below.


Listen to ‘The Drovers’:

Apple Music | iTunes | Spotify

Interview: Rory Ellis

b-W1sicmVzaXplIiwxNDE3XSxbIm1heCJdLFsid2UiXV0=.jpgRory Ellis is a singer-songwriter from Newcastle, New South Wales, who has been performing for thirty years. His outlaw Americana style has won fans all over the world, with Ellis touring in Europe as well as Australia. His new album, Inner Outlaw, is his ninth. It showcases his impressive voice and masterful storytelling. And, as it turns out, the twelve songs on the album are just a sample of what Ellis has stashed away. He writes songs constantly, saying, ‘There’s always something that happens every day, really. Since that album I’ve sat out at my little table there and probably written another twenty-four [songs].

‘Little ideas pop to mind or thoughts or things you see or hear,’ Ellis goes on. ‘You can always write a song about something. It doesn’t need to be the biggest thing in the world. It can be the smallest thought in the world. In fact, the song “The Letter”, off the Inner Outlaw album, I was sitting here thinking about my grandfather sitting around his table out in the backyard in Porter Street, Prahran. There’s a little chess table made out of marble and concrete by my uncle Jimmy, who was my godfather. I just started to write about the backyard. It was incredible little place in Porter Street and had a loft, a horse stable, the cobblestones and the big gates out the back. Of course it’s not there now. My dad used to say, you know, there’s people there like Bob Hawke and Arthur Calwell sitting around Uncle Jimmy’s table. So I wrote a song called “Uncle Jimmy’s Table”.’

It is obviously wonderful for an artist to be open to those ideas coming, but there’s a great deal of skill involved in taking that inspiration, that fleeting thought, and turning it into a song. Ellis explains the craft of this by saying, ‘I think the thing is to take a small idea and paint a really big picture in not a lot of words. At the end of the day being a storyteller more so than a pop stylist, you tend not to do the total repetition on everything. So you’re actually telling a story, you’re painting a picture for people so that they can put themselves in the situation, you know, or relate to it somehow. And that’s the skill to it, in my opinion.’

Continue reading “Interview: Rory Ellis”

Fanny Lumsden releases ‘These Days’ and announces new album

Fanny.jpgFanny Lumsden – an unstoppable, inspirational singer-songwriter who is in the middle of her latest Country Halls Tour – has released a new song, the bittersweet ‘These Days’, and announced that her third album, Fallow, will be released in March 2020.

‘These Days’ is about the stretch of time between Christmas and New Year, when not much happens but so much matters. The song is bittersweet because, as the song says, she waits all year for these days but, as she said on stage the other night, these days can contain sadness even while you’re experiencing them, because you know they’re about to be over. Given that many Australians spend that stretch of the year in the same state – going to the beach, hanging out, taking the opportunity to do not much of all but knowing it’s all so fleeting – there is much to relate to. And, as is so often the case with Lumsden’s songs, it’s also musically memorable.


Fallow is available to preorder on CD and vinyl as well as digital, and if you order from Lumsden she’ll send you an email to access lots of behind-the-scenes content, which will be added to as time goes on.

‘These Days’ is out through Red Dirt Records and Cooking Vinyl Records.

Apple Music | iTunes | Spotify

Single release: ‘The Drovers’ by Emma Dykes

The Drovers - Single Art Final - White.jpgEmma Dykes is a singer-songwriter from Port Macquarie, New South Wales, who carefully crafts heartfelt, articulate songs about a range of different human experiences. Dykes is unafraid of emotion, detail or reality, and the specificity of her lyrics brings the listener closer.

Her latest single, ‘The Drovers’, comes from Dykes’s own experiences. She has worked on mine sites and learnt about rodeo first hand as the president of a local rodeo committee in Cape York – and has also worked as an emergency nurse in rural and remote towns. It’s the latter occupation that has seen her rely on the Westpac Rescue Helicopter to transport seriously ill patients. She

Dykes once asked to take part in a fundraiser as the performing artist for the event, which was a 4500 km off-road 4WD adventure named ‘The Drovers Run’ was raising money for the rescue helicopter. She wrote the song ‘The Drovers’ in Arkaroola, South Australia, on the back of a restaurant menu while on that tour. With co-writer Matt O’Leary she asked each of the people on that tour to write down what the rescue chopper meant to them, and those responses inspired the song.

The track was produced by Matt Fell at Love Hz Studios and unites the hard yakka of the fundraising Drovers with the importance of the Westpac Rescue Helicopter itself. It also draws on the work of the drover as we usually know it, mustering cattle across expanses of countryside.

‘The rescue service is there when it is needed, free of charge, all thanks to these fundraising efforts,’ says Dykes. ‘It’s a worthy cause and one that we want to be ready and waiting, though we hope we’ll never need to use it.’

Listen to ‘The Drovers’:

Apple Music | iTunes | Spotify

Single release: ‘Speechless’ by Kora Naughton

unnamed-6.jpgLast year singer-songwriter Kora Naughton released her debut album at the age of eighteen. This year she has completed high school – and managed to create another album, working with producers Rod Motby and Shane Nicholson. Naughton has now released ‘Speechless’, the first single from that new album. It’s a song about writing a song – which is not as ‘meta’ as it sounds. Rather, it’s a song about the work of songwriting and an insight to the creative process, married with an infectious country pop sound.

Says Naughton of the song’s creation, ‘I was sitting around in my lounge room and I had this melody that I really wanted to use stuck in my head but I had a bit of writers’ block, so as a joke, I literally wrote about having a catchy tune and a melody and no words to go with it and it ended up being the first verse!’

Given Naughton’s work rate, it’s no surprise that her writers’ block lasted only long enough to inspire her to write a song … and ‘Speechless’ is not only a great song but an upbeat tune for the summer months.

Listen on:

Apple Music | iTunes | Spotify

See Kora Naughton live:

Sat 21st Dec – Woonona Bulli RSL, Wollongong NSW 8:30PM
Sun 22nd Dec – Appin Hotel, Appin NSW 2PM
Sat 18th Jan – Imperial Brew House Red Door Cafe, Tamworth NSW 10AM
Mon 20th Jan – Songwriters In The Round, Services Club, Tamworth NSW 9AM
Mon 20th Jan – Rebel Country Showcase The Albert Hotel, Tamworth NSW 5PM
(with Darlinghurst, Chloe Styler, D Henry Fenton & Zac and George)
Mon 20th Jan – Imperial Brew House Red Door Cafe, Tamworth NSW 6PM
Tues 21st Jan – Hungry Jacks Stage, Tamworth NSW 1PM
Tues 21st Jan – James Blundell & Friends, Moonshiners, Tamworth NSW 7PM
(with Andrew Farriss, Catherine Britt, Andrew Swift, Kristy Cox, Chloe Styler, Darlinghurst & more)
Wed 22nd Jan – The Atrium, Tamworth NSW 2PM
Wed 22nd Jan – Imperial Brew House Red Door Cafe, Tamworth NSW 7:30PM
Thurs 23rd Jan – Ben Ransom & Friends, Wests Diggers, Tamworth NSW 7PM
Fri 24th Jan – The Atrium, Tamworth NSW 2PM
Fri 24th Jan – Hungry Jacks Stage, Tamworth NSW 5:30PM
Fri 31st Jan – Dandaloo Hotel, Dapto NSW 8PM

Single premiere: ‘Blue Light’ by August River Band

Single Artwork 2.jpgSometimes when you hear a really driving, punchy drum beat you do not expect to hear a violin right alongside it and weaving in and out of it, making it sound as though they should never be apart. Add a guitar track that enhances both of those instruments and you have August River Band, a three-piece band from Brisbane consisting of Eev Ferreira, Lil Burrows, and Gerard Kerr.

Their new single, ‘Blue Light’ – which has its premiere on this site today ahead of general release tomorrow – is a reflection on the contemporary habit of spending far more time looking at a screen than at each other. Lead singer Eev Ferreira implores us to look up from the blue light of that screen and connect with others. It’s a love song not to a person but to human connection, a plea, in some ways, to not forget that we’re not machines.

Drummer Gerard Kerr is a veteran performer from Brisbane bands such as RadioStomp and Snatch, while Ferreira and vioinist Lil Burrows are both South African expats. Burrows performed as a violinist in the South African National Youth Orchestra and played with several artists whilst moving around Australia, finding Eev once settled in Brisbane. As August River Band they have distinctive, powerful sound that has already won over audiences in their home town and at festivals around the country.

Listen on:

Apple Music | iTunes | Spotify


Single release: ‘Polka Dot Dress’ by Katie Bates

unnamed-5.jpgKatie Bates is a Melbourne-based singer-songwriter who is twenty years of age and has been performing live for over a decade and writing songs from the age of eleven – which explains why this may be a single from a debut album (forthcoming) but sounds like a sophisticated piece of music and lyric.

Bates is inspired by the music of the classic and alternative country artists from the 1960s and 70s, and she has found a home in Melbourne’s dynamic alt-country/Americana scene, performing as a backing vocalist and occasional opening act for artists such as Lachlan Bryan and The Wildes and Ben Mastwyk, as well as opening for Andrew Swift, Kristen Lee Morris, Tracy McNeil and Suzannah Espie.

‘Polka Dot Dress’ is sultry, intriguing and provocative, with a sound that turns satisfyingly, defiantly snarling, evoking another of Bates’s influences: PJ Harvey. The song was produced by Lachlan Bryan and Damian Cafarella and features Patrick Wilson from Georgia State Line on drums, Tom Brooks on guitar and Cafarella on bass.

The song is available from Social Family Records.

Listen on:
Apple Music | iTunes | Spotify

Single release: ‘I Still Close My Eyes (and See Your Face)’ by Brooke Taylor

std_30465.jpgBrooke Taylor is a singer, songwriter and guitarist from Melbourne whose style has influences from folk, rock and country. Over the past few months she’s played shows and festivals around Australia, including St Kilda Music Festival, Adelaide Fringe Festival, The Taste Of Tassie and Swagger Music Festival. In 2017 she released her debut EP Two and in 2018 the single ‘Your Side of Our Bed’.

Taylor’s latest release is the single ‘I Still Close My Eyes (and See Your Face)’ and, in short, it’s a cracker. Taylor has a beautiful deep tone to her voice that conveys warmth as well as hard-won wisdom, and the longing and loss in this song are completely plausible because you can hear them in that voice. What’s also plausible is a sense of picking herself up and carrying on, acknowledging that loss and learning to live with it.

Musically this is one for those who love classic country that sounds like it’s being sung in a dark bar to that one person in the corner who really needs to hear it. Taylor has the gift   of communication and she uses it so well in this song.

Taylor will launch the single on Friday 15 November at the Fyrefly in St Kilda, Melbourne, with support from Hana and Jessie-Lee’s Bad Habits.

Listen on:

Apple Music | iTunes | Spotify