Month: June 2020

Video premiere: ‘Honky Tonker’ by Michael Carpenter and The Banks Brothers

Carpenter Banks Bros 3‘Honky Tonker’ might be the first release from Michael Carpenter and The Banks Brothers (although very much not the first release from those artists on their own) but it sounds like the work of old friends who know exactly how to play and sing together to bring out the best in the song. Given the pedigrees of everyone involved – Carpenter is a singer-songwriter and multi-intrumentalist who also produces music for a variety of Australian acts, and it seems that there’s nothing with a steel string that The Banks Brothers, Jy-Perry and Zane, can’t master.

‘Honky Tonker’ is the first song of an album’s worth of material that the new band intends to release – and the video is having its premiere here today.

Says Carpenter, ‘The video was filmed at the tail of the COVID isolation period in Sydney and was the first time we’d gotten together in months. We were all clearly happy to see each other, and, as it was our debut video together, we kept the video simple and focused on the band members and our sartorial splendour!’

You don’t need to be a fan of traditional country music to appreciate the song – this is great music, and that always translates regardless of which genres an audience knows. Best of all, Carpenter and the Banks sound like they’re having a lot of fun together, and that is certainly evident in the video. So whether you’re after a high-quality musical experience or a pick-me-up, this song delivers all that and more.

www.facebook.com/michaelcarpenterandthebanksbrothers

 

Interview: Julian Taylor

Julian Taylor 2B4A2758The first thing to notice about Canadian singer-songwriter Julian Taylor’s new album, The Ridge, is his voice. It is crisp and clear while also being warm and inviting. The artist who immediately springs to mind as a comparison is the legendary Ella Fitzgerald – whom Taylor says is one of his favourite artists, so much so that his daughter is named Ella. Frank Sinatra is another possible comparison, although, as Taylor will explain, Sinatra is not an influence.

It’s not the voice Taylor has always had, he says: ‘When I was a teenager and I put out my first record, I was listening to a Pearl jam and I was listening to the things like that. And basically it was 90s hip hop and 90s grunge, that was my thing. And so I didn’t enunciate at all. When I was growing up, music that I did listen to was the music of Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong. Not Frank Sinatra, because my family is black and indigenous and it’s not a slight against Frank, but nobody in my family from my grandparents’ era was really into that.

‘My grandfather had huge issues with the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. It was not cool. He thought they were stealing people’s music and he was not impressed. So we never listened to that until I got out of the family dynamic and was old enough to go out on my own and listen to things. You’d hear Marvin Gaye. You’d hear Motown because of my mum and her sisters. You’d hear gospel-ly music because of my dad. He loved Andraé Crouch and Stevie Wonder specifically, but also played classical piano. So a lot of classical music was in my house.

‘And then on my indigenous side it was a lot of country music and rhythm and blues, because of that upbringing. You had Willie Dunn. Gram Parsons was pretty prevalent on people’s stereos at that time. Kris Kristofferson was there. And then on the rhythm and blues side, Buddy Guy, Junior Wells, Sonny, Terry, Brownie McGee. So American music, really.’

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Single release: ‘The Truth’ by Rory Phillips

unnamed-15One of the great things about Australian country music is that artists emerge at all ages. There is not an expectation, from the audience or other artists, that your work is only valuable if it’s produced within a certain time of your life. This means, obviously, that within the canon of Australian country music there are many different perspectives of life from the teens up, just as there are commonalities because we’re all human.

Part of the challenge for any artist is that there is so much music of high quality within the genre that, regardless of your age, you have to be good. So it’s not because Rory Phillips is thirteen years old that his new song, ‘The Truth’, is worth listening to – it’s because it’s a great song. Co-written with Roger Corbett of The Bushwhackers, who also produced the song, it is forthright, heartfelt and clear. If that sounds improbably for one so young, it’s worth bearing mind that Phillips has twice attended the CMAA Junior Academy of Country Music, is a graduate of Rock Academy Melbourne, a member of Folk Alliance Australia and of the Bidgee Blues Club. He’s twice been named in the top ten buskers at the (open age) Tamworth Country Music Festival Busking Competition (2016/2017), been a featured busker at Byron Bay Bluesfest (2016/2017), named the Australian National Busking Champion 2016 (primary-aged) and Junior Tamworth Champion of Champions in 2018 and most recently; he was a semi-finalist in the 2020 NSW/ACT Young Achiever Awards (Performing Arts Award category) and the Snowy Valleys Council Young Citizen of the Year 2020.

While the song works in and of itself, Phillips’s age gives an additional reason to listen to it because, while there are younger artists releasing music, there aren’t that many of them and his perspective on the world is important.

In writing the song Phillips – who lives in Tumut in the NSW Snowy Mountains – was inspired by the likes of Greta Thunberg and the School Strike 4 Climate movement.

‘It’s hard to explain,’ he says, ‘but I wanted to say something with this song.  Our family are very passionate waste warriors and I get so frustrated listening to world leaders dancing around climate change issues.  It seems so obvious to me that more needs to be done, before it’s too late.  I’m no Billy Bragg, but if I can influence anyone to think a little more about our environment, or to question climate change deniers with this song, I will feel like I have achieved something.’

The video for the song was produced by Red Dirt Road Productions’ Fanny Lumsden and Dan Stanley Freeman, who also live in the Snowy Mountains, and was shot around Tumut.

Listen on:

Apple Music | Spotify

www.roryphillips.com.au

 

 

Video premiere: ‘Mixed Bag’ by Innocent Eve

Innocent Eve - Mixed Bag-Single-iTunes-ArtInnocent Eve is a duo whose members are sisters Rachel and Bec Olsson, who grew up in a musical home on a farm in Central Queensland. Earlier this year they released the single ‘Viking’, which is also the title of their forthcoming album. The second single from the album is the delightful ‘Mixed Bag’, and its video is premiering on this site today.

The Olssons say the song was ‘born from observing how people make judgement and comments based on differences and stereotypes, whether it’s size, shape, religion, ethnicity, gender or whatever. We noticed children playing together and making friends with strangers while sitting in a sandpit, despite their differences, and we thought the world could use a little more of that. And since children were the inspiration, the concept of a mixed bag of lollies emerged – why can’t we love a mixed bag of people, accepting that differences can be good, sweet and beautiful things?’

The video makes the most of the central idea and was created by Duncan Toombs from The Filmery in Terrigal, NSW.

‘Filming with Duncan is always a treat,’ say the sisters, ‘it’s a creative explosion and always full of surprises. His ideas for the song were so exciting and they evolved along the way. Part of the clip was filmed last year, then it was finished during COVID-19, so he had to get really creative with some parts due to restrictions. In the end, he managed to capture the fun and cheeky side of this song, while holding onto the message of inclusion, love and diversity.’

COVID-19 wasn’t the only thing that changed the sisters’ year: their last tour was cut short after Bec was diagnosed with cancer. But they plan to play at the Wintermoon and Airlie Beach festivals later this year and in the meantime hope the message of the song will resonate with audiences. And, above all, ‘Be happy, love, be kind to one another, take risks and live a life you’ll be happy with. It may not always be pretty, but it’s about the relationships you have and pursuing your dreams and passions.’

www.innocenteve.com.au

Single release: ‘Honky Tonker’ by Michael Carpenter and The Banks Brothers

unnamed-15If you’re in need of a midweek pep-up, Michael Carpenter and the Banks Brothers have just the thing: the new song ‘Honky Tonker’, which is the most entertaining four minutes you’re likely to spend today – or more than four minutes, if you play it over again, which is likely to happen because the song is a bundle of bittersweet fun. It’s bittersweet because the song laments the loss of traditional honky tonk music, even as it acts as a statement of intent.

‘We don’t always know where we fit in in today’s music world,’ says singer/guitarist Zane Banks. ‘So we just decided to stick to our guns, play music that inspires us and have some fun, no matter what comes of it.’

The single is the first from the new collaboration of singer/guitarist Michael Carpenter – who is a producer of renown – and The Banks Brothers, featuring Jy-Perry Banks on pedal steel and Zane Banks. Jy-Perry is one of Australia’s most in-demand pedal steel players (also dobro and guitar) and Zane is a purist in the art of electric country picking, (also banjo and flat-picked acoustic guitar)

The song was originally a Carpenter solo track that featured Jy-Perry on steel, then Zane joined to share vocals and lead guitar, and the collaboration worked so well that a new band was formed. Given their mutual love of old-school country artists such as Buck Owens, Merle Haggard, Ray Price, Marty Stuart, The Flying Burrito Brothers, George Jones, Mike Nesmith, Johnny Paycheck and Junior Brown, the trio’s coming together seems like an inevitability – and they’ve now written an album’s worth of songs, with recording having commenced.

Apple Music

www.facebook.com/michaelcarpenterandthebanksbrothers

Single release: ‘Pretty Girl’ by Hannah May

Hannah May Pretty GirlOriginally from New Zealand, now based in Brisbane, singer-songwriter Hannah May released the single ‘Passenger Seat’ earlier this year and has followed up with the powerful ‘Pretty Girl’, in which May addresses the standards that female artists, in particular, are expected to meet, and that those in turn a reflection of what’s expected of women and girls generally: to be ‘pretty girls’.

May’s singing and songwriting credentials were established early on, in the duo Mae Valley – although, as the lyrics of ‘Pretty Girl’ make clear, they go back further than that. ‘I’ve been working since five years old/Earned the money in my pocket/Got a heart of gold/And that don’t mean that much in this world, I know’ sings May in this personal, affecting track.

‘I am acknowledging that I am a musician. Not a model. Not an influencer or a dancer or a comedian. I am a musician and that is enough,’ says May of the song, who worked with producers Matt Fell in Sydney and Matt Bartlem on the Gold Coast. May has excellent pop sensibilities which mean this song has the hooks to capture the listener’s attention and the structure to keep them listening.

Listen on:

Apple Music

www.facebook.com/imhannahmay

Single release: ‘You Be You’ by This Way North

image003-3Disclaimer: this is not a country music song, but the good thing about running one’s own website is being able to decide exactly what goes on it. And when a terrific song comes along that’s not country music, there’s no reason not to cover it.

‘You Be You’ by duo This Way North is a fantastic piece of alt-pop/rock that provides four minutes of being swept away and also absorbed. Guitarist Leisha Jungalwalla and drummer Cat Leahy both sing on the track, their voices swirling around each other and melding at just the right places. The song is about honouring the differences in each partner in a relationship, rather than fighting against them, and that respect for each other and actual delight in the differences can be heard in the performance of the song.

‘You Be You’ was written on the road: the duo have been living in a van for the past three years in Canada and Australia, also travelling in New Zealand. Recorded in Nashville in January this year, it’s the first single from their upcoming EP Vol. 3, the finale of a trilogy of EPs they’ve released since 2016.

 

Apple Music | Spotify

www.thiswaynorth.com

Single release: ‘Don’t Do it for the Haters’ by Jasmine Rae

unnamed-14Jasmine Rae’s last album, Heartbeat, was released in 2015. On 24 July she’ll release her new album, Lion Side, and if ever a reason were needed to preorder the album – apart from the fact that Rae has always released passionate, entertaining country music – it’s her new single, ‘Don’t Do it for the Haters’. This is Rae in spine-tingling full flight, aiming true and finding her mark.

Several years ago there was a copyright lawsuit around her song ‘When I Found You’. Rae was not involved in the legal action but she was the one whose name was most publicly associated with the song; consequently she received a barrage of negative emails, phone calls and social media commentary.

‘It was a really  confronting and confusing time for me,’ she says. ‘For a while, I didn’t want to co-write with anyone, didn’t want to put myself out there or be vulnerable and I was questioning everything. People around me actually thought that I would give up.’

However, a short tour with US country artist Granger Smith later that year reminded Rae that she loves what she does, and that the love of music brings people together. Consequently, she’s not doing it for the haters – it’s the love that does it for her, and this is made loud and clear in the song.

There is a maxim in storytelling that one should ‘show, don’t tell’. With this song Rae is showing her work: the craft, the talent and the motivation. It’s a powerful song that can apply to people in all walks of life, for all sorts of reasons – an anthem for the social media age.

 

 

Listen on:

Apple Music | Spotify

Preorder Lion Side: abcmusic.lnk.to/JRLionside

www.jasminerae.com

 

Single release: ‘Still Waters’ by The Hello Darlins feat. Matt Andersen

HDStillWaters-singlecoverThe Hello Darlins are a Canadian band with members of exceptional pedigree: Calgary-based vocalist/producer Candace Lacina and keyboardist/producer Mike Little (known as MFL). They are both in-demand session musicians, and six years after first meeting at a recording studio, they formed The Hello Darlins. The band also includes several other experienced and respected Canadian musicians.

‘We thought it would be fun to put together a band with long-time, professional musicians who are often the people “behind the songs” you hear on the radio,’ says Lacina. ‘It’s a “collective” – with friends and special guests. It’s like the Broken Social Scene of Americana.’

The Hello Darlins’ new single, ‘Still Waters’, is a slice of musical perfection. There is a finely tuned balance of elements, and of voices – Lacina along with an appearance by revered singer-songwriter Matt Andersen – that is no doubt due to the experience of the artists involved, restraint so often being the result of learning to edit your own work.

The Hello Darlins have plans to release an album but they are on hold for the time being – as so much is – but this song is so lovely it can be listened to over and over, so that may well tide fans over until the album is released.

 

Apple Music | Spotify

 

thehellodarlins.com

Single release: ‘Outback Lullaby’ by Dani Young

400x400bb-3Without much notice Sydney singer-songwriter Dani Young released a new single, ‘Outback Lullaby’, her first original since last year’s ‘Stepping Stones’ and coming after her epic cover of REO Speedwagon’s ‘Keep On Loving You’.

Co-written with Damien Leith, ‘Outback Lullaby’ is a song you can easily imagine listening to as you lie in a swag looking at the stars, and while you’re driving through bush, desert, rainforest or high country. It’s also a song perfect for doing nothing but sitting still and listening, because it is dreamy and earthy, solid and ethereal all at once, and Young’s voice is the key, taking us with her on a journey around this land and back home. It’s nigh impossible to not fall in love with this song.

Young’s first release was Desert Water, an album on which she was paired with Warren H Williams and which was nominated for a Golden Guitar. Since then she has toured with Damien Leith, and collaborated with Australian band GANGgajang. Young’s output is diverse but sense of place is strong in all of her work, as is her ability to sing from the heart.

Listen to ‘Outback Lullaby’ on:

Apple Music | Spotify

Dani hosts the show ‘Midday Muster’ each Monday. You can watch on her Facebook page.

www.daniyoung.net