Andrew Samuel’s new single “Hissing Bitterness” is an exercise in restraint. With simmering lyrics given space to breathe, this song from the Sydney singer-songwriter is achingly raw.

“Hissing Bitterness” is the title track from Andrew’s recently released EP.

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It seems I’m not the only one who thinks Anthony Callea’s new album Backbone is pretty amazing. It’s debuted at number one on the ARIA charts this week, giving Anthony his second number one album 11 years after the release of his self-titled debut.

Backbone unseated last week’s number one, Skeleton Tree by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, which is now at number three.

Divas and Demons, the sophomore album from Melbourne rapper REMI, rounds out the top 10 albums.

Meanwhile on the singles charts, Sia’s collaboration with Kendrick Lamar, “The Greatest,” is at number four. After nearly three months on the charts, “Papercuts” by Illy featuring Vera Blue is at number 10. Talk about staying power!

Take a closer look at this week’s top 10.

Top 10 Albums
1. Backbone – Anthony Callea
2. Suicide Squad: The Album – Soundtrack
3. Skeleton Tree – Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
4. My Dear Companion: Selections From the Trio Collection – Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt, and Emmylou Harris
5. Hard II Love – Usher
6. Encore: Movie Partners Sing Broadway – Barbra Streisand
7. Bridget Jones’s Baby – Soundtrack
8. 25 – Adele
9. Mount Ninji and da Nice Time Kid – Die Antwoord
10. Divas and Demons – REMI

Top 10 Singles
1. “Closer” – The Chainsmokers feat. Halsey
2. “Dancing on my Own” – Calum Scott
3. “Side to Side” – Ariana Grande feat. Nicki Minaj
4. “The Greatest” – Sia feat. Kendrick Lamar
5. “Starving” – Hailee Steinfeld
6. “Heathens” – Twenty One Pilots
7. “Let Me Love You” – DJ Snake feat. Justin Bieber
8. “Cold Water” – Major Lazer feat. Justin Bieber and MO
9. “Sucker for Pain” – Lil Wayne, Wiz Khalifa & Imagine Dragons, X Ambassadors, Ty Dolla $ign, Logic
10. “Papercuts” – Illy feat. Vera Blue

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It’s been seven years since Melbourne-based singer-songwriter Matt Joe Gow released his first solo album The Messenger. He joined a band and suffered some health complaints that took him away from the industry for a while, but now he’s back with a collection of solo songs penned during his hiatus, appropriately called Seven Years.

Seven years is a long time for an album to gestate. The luxury of time has allowed Matt Joe to put together 12 beautiful songs. There are no filler tracks or numbers that don’t feel like they fit. This is quality work that is instantly accessible, with a great Americana feel that puts you right at ease. Think Ryan Adams meets Bruce Springsteen with an Aussie bent.

The first song and lead single “I’m Your Man,” charmed me, raising my anticipating for what was to come. The following song “Running on Time” is a great upbeat number which had me tapping my feet. It’s the ideal song for a Friday, making me think of raucous nights out in bars with great bands and beer flowing.

While Seven Years has its fair share of positivity, Matt Joe Gow has a knack for creating heartbreakers. “Bottle It Up, Pass It On,” is a stunning song about the end of a relationship where both parties still feel so much. The raw power of “Right By You” also packs an emotional punch. I love the poignant way the closing track “Bye” captures a moment.

Ordinarily when I’m listening to albums for review I comment on the handful of songs that really move me. As I listened to Seven Years I noticed I was taking notes about every song. That’s a testament to just how special this album is.

Seven Years will be released on October 20. He will play the following upcoming shows in Australia and New Zealand.

14 October 2016 – Rochester Hotel, Fitzroy (Ryan Adams Tribute Night)
15 October 2016 – Out On The Weekend Festival, Melbourne
20 October 2016 – Melbourne Festival, The Toff, Melbourne (supporting Grant Lee Phillips)
22 October 2016 – Melbourne Festival, The Toff, Melbourne (supporting Grant Lee Phillips)
5 November 2016 – The Spotted Mallard, Brunswick, Vic (Album launch)
18 November 2016 – Cromwell Gold n’ Notes Hoedown, Cromwell
19 November 2016 – Dog With Two Tails, Dunedin
20 November 2016 – The Starfish Cafe, Dunedin
2 December 2016 – Unicorn Hotel, Sydney
16 December 2016 – Ric’s Bar, Brisbane

Image used with permission from Matt Joe Gow

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Fresh from touring her single “Chills,” Leah Flanagan is preparing to hit the road again to celebrate the release of the album it comes from, Saudades.

“Chills” is one of those songs that gets under your skin with its emotional lyrics and vulnerability, and there are more of those feels on the album. The tracks explore all those emotions we carry through to our relationships, romantic and otherwise. Leah’s sultry voice is perfectly set for the songs which play with jazz and blues.

Catch Leah performing songs from her new album at the following shows.

1 October 2016 – Dashville Skyline Festival, Hunter Valley
14 October 2016 – Basement Discs, Melbourne
15 October 2016 – Whistlewood Art Gallery, Main Ridge
20 October 2016 – Black Bear Lodge, Brisbane
21 October 2016 – Lismore Showgrounds, Lismore
29 October 2016 – Marrickville Bowling, Marrickville
4 November 2016 – The Bella Union, Melbourne
5 November 2016 – Narana Music Festival, Geelong
12 November 2016 – Candelo Hall, Candelo
19 November 2016 – Darwin Railway Club, Darwin

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It might be Humpday and relatively early, but I’m feeling better about this Wednesday than most. This is my first day working in my brand new office, a magnificent bright purple space with a Prince canvas on the wall watching over me. It’s heavenly.

So the funky grooves of Castlecomer’s new single “Judy” are really hitting the spot. The track is an absolute ear-pleaser, but it’s got a darker side with its lyrics exploring a taboo relationship from the side of the weaker party.

“Judy” comes from Castlecomer’s new EP All of the Noise. The Sydney band will tour the East Coast this November to celebrate its release.

17 November 2016 – Rad Bar, Wollongong
25 November 2016 – Transit Bar, Canberra
26 November 2016 – The Reverence Hotel, Melbourne
2 December 2016 – Manning Bar, Sydney
15 December 2016 – The Brightside, Brisbane
16 December 2016 – The Northern Hotel, Byron Bay (FREE)

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If there’s one thing I love just as music, it’s beer. Not your run-of-the-mill Toohey’s New or Carlton Draft mind you, but a good craft beer that’s more complex, interesting, and downright delicious than the average. So I was interested to hear that Boy & Bear have joined forces with Akasha Beers in 5 Dock to create a signature ale.

So where can you taste this delicious drop I hear you ask? Well you’ll need to get to one of Boy & Bear’s upcoming regional Limit of Love shows. It’ll be served on tap at most venues on this run of dates. And if you need another reason to choose the Boy & Bear beer over your usual lager, then you might be interested to hear proceeds are benefiting Buy a Bale, a charity which helps out drought-stricken Queensland farmers.

If you’re heading to one of these Boy & Bear shows and make sure to buy a beer or two. The farmers will thank you!

9 Nov ember 2016 – Regent Theatre, Ballarat
10 Nov ember 2016 – Ulumbarra Theatre, Bendigo
11 Nov ember 2016 – Costa Hall, Geelong
12 Nov ember 2016 – The Cube, Wodonga
16 Nov ember 2016 – C.Ex Coffs, Coffs Harbour
17 Nov ember 2016 – Miami Marketta, Gold Coast
18 Nov ember 2016 – Beach Hotel, Byron Bay
19 Nov ember 2016 – Lake Kawana Community Centre, Sunshine Coast
20 Nov ember 2016 – The Mills Precinct, Toowoomba
23 Nov ember 2016 – Pilbeam Theatre, Rockhampton
24 Nov ember 2016 – MECC, Mackay
25 Nov ember 2016 – Tanks Arts Centre, Cairns
27 Nov ember 2016 – The Venue, Townsville
2 December 2016 – Albany Entertainment Centre, Albany
3 December 2016 – 3 Oceans, Margaret River
4 December 2016 – Fremantle Prison, Fremantle
7 December 2016 – Orange Ex-Services Club, Orange
8 December 2016 – ANU, Canberra
9 December 2016 – Waves, Wollongong
10 December 2016 – Wests City, Newcastle

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Jimmy Barnes is the type of singer who can sell out entertainment centres, so it’s always a thrill when he decides to put on a more intimate show at a venue like Lizotte’s. It’s been far too long since I’ve made the trek down the Pacific Highway to the only remaining Lizotte’s venue, but the promise of “hits and rarities” was too appealing to resist.

Jimmy’s daughter Elly-May Barnes warmed up the crowd with her star-studded band, The Ragged Company. With The Superjesus’ Sarah McLeod on tambourine and The Art’s Kara Jayne and X Factor winner Reece Mastin on acoustic guitars, this act was always going to impress. Their set was made up of covers destined to please the mostly baby boomer crowd, including cuts from David Bowie, The Everly Brothers, and Neil Young. I was a little concerned at first, with Elly-May’s vocals clearly showing nerves. However, a couple of songs in she seemed to find her feet and sing with sweetness and surety. The band’s harmonies were gorgeous and their organic arrangements of these classics allowed them to shine. The quartet seemed to be having such fun together, and the crowd responded in kind.

While Elly-May and her crew were well received, her dad was the man we were all here to see. The atmosphere when he took the stage was electric. We hung on his every word as he delivered an empassioned version of “Trouble of the World,” a song Mahalia Jackson sang in the classic film Imitation of Life. After he was done Jimmy told us about watching the movie with his dad as a young boy, thinking little of the film but being so blown away by Mahalia’s performance that he decided to bestow the name upon his daughter. She was there to his left, supporting his rich, raspy voice with her own throughout the show.

And what a show it was. I’ve seen Jimmy Barnes so many times over the years. He was actually my first concert all those years ago. Most times I’ve seen Jimmy he was rocking out with the sound turned up to 11, delivering the kind of hits that have become Aussie radio staples. This was a different kind of show, one that allowed Jimmy to celebrate favourite songs from his own back catalogue and the world of music that wouldn’t fit at those other gigs. I never would have expected to hear Nat King Cole’s “Around the World” at a Jimmy Barnes gig, but he performed it beautifully. Flesh and Wood was a favourite album when I was growing up, and I loved hearing cuts from it like “Brother of Mine” and “You Can’t Make Love Without a Soul” that rarely make the live set. No doubt with the stories contained in his upcoming book Working Class Boy fresh in his mind, Jimmy punctuated his songs with tales of his childhood and relationship to music.

I heard a few grumbles about the notable absence of hit singles, but I didn’t mind doing without them. While a ballad like “Flame Trees” made sense on a night like this, Jimmy’s more raucous numbers would have seemed incongruous. I’ve heard those songs so many times before anyway, so getting the chance to hear other tracks provided a welcome change of pace. Where he might ordinarily close the night with “Working Class Man,” we heard a flawless rendition of “Love Me Tender” instead. It was the perfect way to close this very different and very special Jimmy Barnes show.

Image source: own photos

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Life’s been far too busy for my liking of late. I feel like I’m living in The Block, with my husband and I renovating half my house (along with the generous contributions of my parents). Those parents have been down to my place three days already this week and we’ve all been slapping paint around like people possessed in preparation for laying carpet tomorrow. On Tuesday I headed to Newcastle a little after lunch to visit the dentist, call in to my sister’s place to help her with her tax, then catch the wonderful Jimmy Barnes at Lizotte’s (more on that later).

Needless to say, today is the first day all week I’ve felt I could just “be.” Deadlines are looming of course, but there’s something about the calm that comes from an empty house and a day inn pyajamas that makes those deadlines a bit more bearable. In this rare moment of calm I’ve discovered the latest track from Rowena Wise. With her angelic voice and whimsical charm, she’s just what I needed to listen to right now. If your week has felt far too long too, you need to listen to her new single “Hollow Hearts.”

This divine song comes from Rowena’s self-titled album, which she recorded with celebrated Melbourne producer Nick Huggins. Rowena is currently touring on the back of its release. You can catch her at the following venues.

16 September 2016 – Smiths Alternative, Canberra
17 September 2016 – Wheatsheaf Hotel, Adelaide
23 September 2016 – Junk Bar, Brisbane
24 September 2016 – The Grace Darling, Melbourne
25 September 2016 – The Homestead, Hobart

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Songs that romance sentimentality can easily become schmaltzy and sugary sweet. But Bloods manages to get the mix just right with its brand new single “Bring My Walls Down.”

This is a killer pop-punk cut, with an infectious melody and a little fuzzy edge. But its lyrics are vulnerable and romantic. The Sydney band’s lead vocalist MC says the track “looks at love as a disease, a kind of infection that infests your mind and body without you having any control over it; something that breaks through uninvited and reminds you that you’re an animal.”

“Bring My Walls Down” is the first cut from Bloods’ forthcoming sophomore album.

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Outstanding American indie-folk songstress Angel Olsen is visiting our shores later this year to promote her brand new album My Woman. She’ll play some of the country’s most respected festivals and headline her own shows in key locations around the country.

The tour announcement coincides with the release of Angel’s brand new single “Sister.” It’s an epic ballad with a beautiful clip filmed at Joshua Tree National Park.

If you like what you hear, make sure you don’t miss Angel Olsen on her Aussie tour.

26 November 2016 – Grand Poobah, Hobart
28 November 2016 – Corner Hotel, Melbourne
1 December 2016 – Lismore City Hall, Lismore
2 December 2016 – Brightside, Brisbane
2 & 3 December 2016 – Fairgrounds Festival, Berry
5 December 2016 – Sydney Opera House Studio, Sydney
7 December 2016 – Grace Emily Hotel, Adelaide
8 December 2016 – Badlands, Perth
9-11 December 2016 – Meredith Music Festival, Meredith

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