Well here we are again and it’s all about the music…part 2!. This week I’ll round out the special mentions, the records including my favourite new releases for the year, the playlists, the rediscoveries and…Radio!
Special Mentions (part 2):
Justin Townes Earle – I saw JTE with my friend Ed, in August at the Spotted Mallard, touring on the back of new release The Saint of Lost Causes and my goodness, his style definitely hits you in the face. His banter with the audience didn’t pull punches and he is certainly not shy of calling out social and political injustice. He spoke candidly about the difficulties following in the shadow of his father; his marriage breakdown and struggles with depression and substance abuse, as well as the joy of becoming a dad. Playing solo he filled the room with great music on the strength of just one guitar and his voice. He’s not everybody’s cup of tea, but I’m sold – I love his brand of blues infused folky Americana, and his ‘in-your-face’ style!
The Teskey Brothers I saw twice at The Forum on their Run Home Slow tour and boy oh boy…what a load of talent in this band, and doesn’t the whole world know it too! The boys are very laid back, each exceptionally gifted, and seriously…just where does that voice come from Josh Teskey??? Highlight of these two shows for me was ‘Hold Me’ off the new album, which they performed A cappella on the Wednesday night (13 Nov), stepping off stage and into the audience, Josh hoisted on the bands shoulders with the crowd joining in the chorus – this song is made for crowd participation, and the band managed to make it feel very intimate and personal. No doubt that version will make it to the DVD they are producing of the tour so keep any eye out!
The Temper Trap also at The Forum playing their Conditions album from start to finish on their 10thanniversary tour of that album in December, and they were fabulous, much better than last time I saw them at Festy Hall (I blame this bleurgh venue not the band!) Jonny Aherne is always a big, bouncing bundle of joy, Dougy Mandagi seems so comfortable in his skin these days, and that voice…still gives me chills! Was also nice to see Loz Sillitto join his former bandmates for the tour. They paid homage to long-time fans, playing some unrecorded numbers from their early days. Still my favourite Indie band, I sure hope they’ve got plans for a new album soon!
Nick Cave …oh Nicky, so much of my late seventies and very early eighties spent watching Nick and Boys Next Door, Birthday Party at divey little clubs in Melbourne, later of course with the Bad Seeds (slightly bigger, equally divey venues). A seminal part of my teen & young adult development, and partly responsible for my early anti-establishment views, politicisation, and also err, experimentation with various substances. Two VERY different gigs this year; the first an interactive conversation, plus a few tunes on piano. Nick answered questions honestly, sometimes tongue in cheek, others impatiently and spoke candidly about grief and his son’s death. I love the obvious need he feels to connect with his fans, audience on a deeper level with this conversation series. If you want a taste of what this experience was like , check out The Red Hand Files (the inspiration for the ‘Conversation’ series) and if you get a chance to go to one of these shows – DO IT!! The second show was with Warren Ellis and Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, showcasing the film music of these two artists. Honestly from my perspective– this gig was all about Warren. Nick was the drawcard and though heavily involved creatively, it was clearly Warren who shone here. A very different performance, but I loved it, as I do pretty much all of Nick and Warren’s collaborations.
Russell Morris Another incredibly talented artist from my past I had the privilege to see perform twice this year. Russell continues to astound me with his voice and music, his new tunes sit seamlessly with the old, his songwriting is just fabulous. I will go and watch him again and again, just brilliant. Loved him at the Spotted Mallard in July with loads of great friends, and again at Memo Music hall in December (with Kerrie, Gavin and Kathy) on a bill including ever loveable, Broderick Smith.
Alex Smith – A fantastic Aussie talent with a new album out in 2019. Yes, he of Moving Pictures fame, with a solo album The Thread – startling in its purity, honesty and stellar songwriting. I saw him at the Spotted Mallard (another favourite in case you hadn’t noticed!) and he was just…WOW!! Such a great storyteller and musician, Alex has a voice that beyond the technical excellence is saturated with emotion, helping convey the stories in his lyrics every bit as much as the words. He’s another I will always have on my list of ‘must see’ whenever he’s in town…all too infrequently since he now calls Italy home.
I had the chance to see Mick Pealing sing a couple of times in one of his other projects, Raw Brit and…Lord almighty what a whole lot of rockin’ that was!! He really belts out those 60s-70s Brit power rock numbers that are the staple of this band. If you’re a fan of this music (and who isn’t!!) they really do it best…not surprising when you add the combined talents of Dave Leslie (Baby Animals) and Boom Crash Opera rhythm section Peter ‘Maz’ Maslen (drums) and John Favaro (bass) to Mick’s incredible vocal range.
I know Mick is a huge Free and Bad Company fan, and he certainly gives Paul Rodgers a run for his money belting out the hits these two bands are famous for. Maybe he should have replaced Paul in Bad Company #2 instead of Brian Howe. He certainly has the pipes to back it up, and I’m sure Ralpher and Simon would have preferred him to Mr Howe!
Anyway…back to Raw Brit, they don’t play very often, so if you get the chance to see them…snap it up, there’ll be no regrets trust me!
Another great band featuring music from the same era, but with an Australian focus, is Stepback, featuring my long time mate David Zerafa. I’ve known Dave since we were wee tots at primary school, right the way through high school – Dave with guitar in hand the whole journey! Some great memories, including jam sessions when we should have been in class, our singing emboldened with liberal doses of wine (Coolabah cask, naturally!) and also ahem, the odd ‘herbal’ cigarette. We thought we sounded fabulous – Dave at least really did! These guys are great – and along with Raw Brit, top the list of a very small number of tribute bands I’d recommend.
Aaron Schembri – A new discovery this year – what a fabulous night my friend Yasemin and I had at Aaron’s ‘City Lights’ album launch @ Memo in September. A stellar cast of Australian music royalty turned out to support him and his band – one of the best nights I’ve had in a while. Check out the impressive cast featuring on his album in Aaron’s Spotify bio and sample one of the songs ‘Good Enough For You’ while you’re there.
I obviously saw a lot more than I’ve highlighted here, a lot of really fantastic local gigs, and the odd miss as well, though they were far and few between. Some of the other acts I saw in 2019:
|Richard Clapton||Kevin Bennett & The Flood|
|Mike Rudd||Sarah Storer|
|Billy Miller & the Love Brothers||Boom Crash Opera|
|Tim Scanlon Trio||Bloom (Linda Ronstadt tribute)|
|Joe Creighton (Van Morrison tribute)||The Whitlams|
So that’s the gigs people, and while they took up a lot of my spare time in 2019, they weren’t the only musical something I had a lot of enjoyment from…
I mentioned in my first post ‘2019 – my year of Yes’ about the joy of rediscovering vinyl and also of trawling through collections at Crate Digger Fairs (Howler) and The Basement Discs. It all started with the return (mostly) of my record collection after a long and bitter custody battle, and that led to a turntable (birthday gift from my lovely daughter Gabby) and then searching out missing pieces in my collection. I had a lot of fun looking, chatting to fellow collectors and vendors at Howler – and I picked up some GREAT albums. Really hard to pick a favourite, but if I had to…there’d be two: Free Story (Free…duh!) and 2 Miles From Heaven by Mott the Hoople.
Favourite new Release(s) 2019:
I tried REALLY hard to pick one, and narrowed it down to three, sorry but it’s the best I could do –
Read my comments in last weeks all about the music (Part 1) for why, OR…have a listen for yourself via the links above! PS…if you like them…be sure to go out and BUY people (Support the ARTIST, BUY the music!)
I’m mostly a Spotify girl, although I occasionally I do dip into iTunes. I’ve put a number of lists together based on favourites generally, Australian bands, older stuff, my dad’s favourites, and then I came up with the concept of ‘Current Obsessions’. This list was meant to contain, well as the name suggests – my current obsessions – new tunes, old favourites, random stuff suggested by Spotify radio, whatever I liked, and wanted to hear over and over. Two simple rules:
- I had to keep it to about 30 songs (or just long enough for my daily walk!) and
- once I started skipping a song…banished from the list!
I broke rule no.1 in the first month…I have a lot of obsessions, apparently!
Anyway, if you want to know what songs I’m listening to on repeat – littlebird current obsessions playlist has my current faves which I’ll be culling come Jan 31! Never fear though, all songs end up on littlebird past obsessions, so you can still have a listen there…beware it’s a very lonnnng list! You can follow me on Spotify find my public playlists (and some of my kids – eek!) at limetyger. All of my playlists are prefixed ‘littlebird’.
I’ve also found myself listening to radio more this year. ABC 774 Melbourne is a favourite, and I do like Brian Nankervis & Richelle Hunt (Jacinta Parsons in 2020) on Friday Revue at 2:00 pm. They have great guests and Brian does stellar interviews – very natural.
Breakfast shows are often hard work, because – morning – but I have tuned in to Mick Pealing’s Breakfast show on 96.5 Inner FM 7:00-9:00 am Thursday. Mick covers a very wide variety of genres and eras – you never know what you’ll get…could be a laid back easy listen or a BAM!! wake you up with sound at the strength of 7 espresso coffees back to back!
Another favourite is Henry Wagon’s Tower of Song on Double JJ Monday nights at 8.00 pm great tunes on the periphery of several genres peppered with great banter, and well…Henry who of course, is always a delight.
My favourite for the year would probably be ‘County Miles’ (on Inner FM again) which sits comfortably in the Monday 8:00-10:00pm timeslot. This show kind of took me by surprise because I’ve never really considered myself a big fan of country. Remember that statement from last week’s blog, about not knowing I liked something until I found myself listening to it? Well here we are!
I like a lot more country than I thought I did, mostly on the fringes admittedly, and I’ve discovered a lot more mostly thanks to our erstwhile host (Mick Pealing again) who puts together interesting playlists spanning the depth and breadth of the genre, interspersed with interesting facts and humorous Facebook banter between Mick and his listeners. As Mick himself says’ if he can put ‘country’ in front of it – he’ll play it! I may have tested that theory once or twice…I’m fairly sure my requests for country flavoured Zeppelin or Mott the Hoople may have had our host face palming in the studio!
So that about wraps it up folks, my 2019 year in music. I could keep going on and on, and no doubt I’ll be revisiting music as a topic throughout 2020, which is shaping up already as another outstanding year! But for now I’ll sign off until next week saying a huge thank you and sending much love to all the people I gigged with in 2019 …here’s to 2020! See you next week with a fresh bunch of words on…something.
PS – I’ve created a Links page which contains a lot of the artists I’ve featured or mentioned here, as well as all my littlebird playlists; do check them out and…ENJOY!
Peace and love