Jess + Matt were my favourite act from last year’s X Factor. In fact, they might be my favourite act from the X Factor, period. I fell hard for their sublime harmonies, folk sensibility, and their genuine love story.

However, I’m not so enamoured with their latest single, the first original they’ve released since their stint on the show “Bones.” The song was co-written with DNA, the duo behind hits from The Veronicas, Dami Im, and Delta Goodrem. It sounds fresh and commercial, and like nothing I’d have imagined Jess + Matt would produce. And perhaps that’s the problem.

I first stumbled upon this song on Spotify. I didn’t get it at all. Then I played the acoustic version you can find there, and the penny dropped. Suddenly the lyrics which reflect on the feelings of new love came to the fore, rather than the production. Suddenly it seemed weightier than I’d originally imagined.

I appreciate that Jess + Matt are a duo experimenting with their sound and trying to find their place in the music industry post-reality fame. However, I just hope they don’t get too far away from what made them special in an attempt to achieve commercial success.

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Hayes Carll will visit Australia in October for two intimate shows in the major capitals.

The Texas native might not be a household name in this country, but he was nominated for a Grammy for best country song this year. His warm vocals tell moving stories from America’s South.
“The Magic Kid,” one of the songs from his new album Lovers and Leavers, gives you an insight into what this talented country-folk artist is all about.

See Hayes Carll at the following Australian shows.

14 October 2016 – Thornbury Theatre, Melbourne
16 October 2016 – Factory Theatre, Sydney

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The Delta Riggs’ brand new album Active Galactic hits stores today. Featuring the funky single “Never Seen This Before,” the album is a collection of songs guaranteed to get any party started. It was recorded in just nine days to capture the spontaneous energy of these tunes.

The Gold Coast musos will bring their new songs and some old favourites to venues all around the country over the coming months. Catch them at the following pubs and clubs.

23 September 2016 – Prince of Wales, Bunbury
24 September 2016 – The Rosemount Hotel, Perth
29 September 2016 – The Whalers Hotel, Warranambool
30 September 2016 – The Gov, Adelaide
1 October 2016 – Karova Lounge, Ballarat
3 October 2016 – SSA Club, Albury
6 October 2016 – Kay St, Traralgon
7 October 2016 – The Grand Hotel, Mornington
8 October 2016 – Westernport Hotel, Phillip Island
19 October 2016 – Academy Night Club, Canberra
21 October 2016 – The Corner Hotel, Melbourne
22 October 2016 – Torquay Hotel, Torquay
27 October 2016 – Wollongong Uni, Wollongong
28 October 2016 – The Metro Theatre, Sydney
29 October 2016 – Banana Field Music and Arts Festival, Coffs Harbour
4 November 2016 – The Entrance Leagues Club, Bateau Bay
5 November 2016 – Mona Vale Hotel, Mona Vale
10 November 2016 – The Great Northern Hotel, Byron Bay
11 November 2016 – The Triffid, Brisbane
12 November 2016 – SOLBAR, Sunshine Coast

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When you’ve got guys like Bruce Springsteen and Billy Gibbons singing your praises, you know you’re doing things right. Australia will get the chance to see why the music industry is raving about Ana Popovic when she brings her Trilogy tour to Australia next month.

These intimate shows will showcase Ana’s blend of funk, soul, and blues. Her killer vocals are only matched by her guitar prowess. Born in Belgrade but now based in Memphis, Ana worked with Grammy Award winners Warren Riker and Tom Hambridge on Trilogy, her most ambitious album to date.

Hear songs from this album and others when Ana touches down in Australia next month. Tickets are on sale from the venues.

17 September 2016 – Mitchell Creek Rock N Blues Fest, Kandanga
18 September 2016 – Beaches Hotel Thirroul
21 September 2016 – The Basement Sydney
23 September 2016 – Corner Hotel Melbourne

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Boom Crash Opera’s Peter Farnan has assembled one of the most impressive collections of Guest vocalists I’ve seen in some time for his latest musical project, Pesky Bones. Paul Kelly, Deborah Conway, Paul Capsis, Tim Rogers, Rebecca Barnard, Simon Burke, and heaps more appear on Pesky Bones – Volume One.

“Pesky Bones is like a personal music player on shuffle. Rather than one sound and point of view there are diverse musical styles and singers,” Peter explained. “The themes cover accumulated experience, memory, age, sex, family, mortality, aching limbs, regret and, above all, transcendence.”

You can help support the release through the Pesky Bones PledgeMusic campaign. Depending on your donation, you could get something as small as a digital or physical copy of the album or as impressive as a house concert, songwriting workshop, or tickets to the listening party at Ginger Studios. You’ve got until the end of September to lend your support.

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Tracy McNeil & The GoodLife are reminding me why Thieves is one of my favourite albums of the year with the release of the video for the first single “Paradise.”

The Melbourne band filmed the retro clip at the historic Winton Motor Raceway. Its vintage feel is the perfect foil for the band’s classic sound.

“Evoking images of the open road, the video was heavily influenced by Terrence Malick’s 1973 film “Badlands”. However I wanted to place our narrative in a distinctly Australian context,” explained the clip’s director, Roxanne Halley. “Allowing the camera to float along through the different spaces helped to create a feeling of intimacy, enabling us to play around with the idea of strangers locking eyes for the first time.”

What do you think of this track and the awesome music video?

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The Cat Empire, Tash Sultana, The Correspondents, and Dub FX are among the big names set to entertain crowds at the first ever The Pleasure Garden Festival in St Kilda this December.

Much more than just another music festival, The Pleasure Garden aims to be an immersive creative arts experience, with roving theatrical performances, art installations, carnival rides, and plenty of shady places for kicking back with your friends.

The Pleasure Garden Festival hits Catani Gardens on St Kilda’s foreshore on December 10. Discounted early bird tickets are available until the end of the month. Head to The Pleasure Garden Festival website to get yours.

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With The Peeks winding down their Grow Up/Grow Down tour, I figured it was about time I sat down and listened to the album that shares its name. I adored the most recent single “Wanaka,” so my expectations were high for this release. The Melbourne indie folk act does not disappoint.

I love the way the band goes beyond the usual acoustic guitar strumming we hear on so many folk albums, adding gentle strings to a track like “Postman” and some brass to “Don’t Tell Your Mama.” The latter song is a real standout, with guest vocals from the sublime Annabelle Kay. This rollicking country-folk gem compelled me to tap my toes and clap my hands in time to the beat. Annabelle returns again later in the album for the poignant “Aubergine Sewing Machine.” “Night Owl” is another master stroke. I love the way it starts so small, then builds into an almost orchestral crescendo before melting away.

Grow Up/Grow Down is full of music that feels so good to listen to. It’s calming, folky, acoustic, organic heaven, perfect for slipping on during a lazy day or when you need a break from the hustle and bustle of life. The lyrics are insightful and poetic and Fraser Henry’s voice is always on point. His soaring falsetto is especially affecting.

Grow Up/Grow Down is available now.

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Stop what you’re doing a take a little moment to watch the video for Tom Lee-Richards’ new single “Madness.” This is the sort of song and clip that deserve much more than the background for your workday or household chores. It demands your attention.

This song is so beautifully executed, delicate and tender, like nothing I’ve heard in some time. I love the way Tom’s velvety voice combines with that of fellow Kiwi Monique Shelford. The clip, which takes an unflinching look at life on the streets for Australia’s homeless, is also a masterstroke.

Tom Lee-Richards will take his very special songs to the people of the East Coast with a series of intimate shows next month.

4 September 2016 – The Gasometer, Melbourne
9 September 2016 – Ulverstone Live at the Wharf, Ulverstone
10 September 2016 – The Otis Room, Burnie
11 September 2016 – The Homestead, Hobart
16 September 2016 – Smiths Alternative, Canberra
17 September 2016 – Church on the Hill, Bendigo
21 September 2016 – Folkswagen, Sydney
22 September 2016 – Pier on Clarence, Port Macquarie
23 September 2016 – Treehouse, Byron Bay
24 September 2016 – 5 Church St, Bellingen
29 September 2016 – Milk Factory, Brisbane
1 October 2016 – Mandela Organic Arts Cafe, Mermaid Beach

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Acclaimed Irish singer-songwriter Gavin James is making his first visit to Australia for a string of shows next month.

Gavin has enjoyed a rapid rise since releasing his first single “Say Hello” in 2013. That track won the Meteor Choice Award for song of the year and other songs from his debut EP garnered radio in his native Ireland.
A chance meeting with Ed Sheeran in a Dublin pub the following year saw the pair jamming and drinking whisky all night. Ed tweeted that record labels were missing out if they didn’t sign James, and they listened. He soon found himself supporting Ed as well as Taylor Swift and Sam Smith. His live album Live at Whelan’s also became a hit in the United States, where its only cover, a stunning version of Magnetic Fields’ “The Book of Love,” became a radio staple.

“The crazy bit is that ‘Book Of Love’ wasn’t supposed to be on the album,” Gavin said. “It was just my warm-up song. But when I’d finished the encore and the crowd was leaving, for some reason, I ran back on stage, called people back in and added it to my set. It was a real ‘fate’ moment. And funny – because I said I’d quit doing covers then my only cover takes off.”

But you won’t hear Gavin complaining.“Never,” he says. “I’m loving every minute of this. It’s everything I’ve ever wanted and I can’t wait to know what comes next.”

What comes next is that Aussie tour. Tickets are available from Troubadour Music for the following shows.

22 September 2016 – Black Bear Lodge, Brisbane
23 September 2016 – Plan B, Sydney
24 September 2016 – Ding Dong Lounge, Melbourne
25 September 2016 – The Boston, Perth

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