With their debut self-titled EP in stores now, the supremely talented Little May are preparing to wing their way around the country to bring its songs to music fans in the flesh. Those include the dreamy lead single “Dust,” which is available for your listening pleasure here.

Little May have earned their live chops playing such high-profile gigs as Splendour in the Grass, Laneways, and Big Sound, so fans are in for a real treat at these shows.

6, 7, & 9 November 2014 – Kings Park & Botanic Garden, Perth (supporting Rodriguez)
16 November 2014 – Rad Bar, Wollongong
21 November 2014 – Northcote Social Club, Melbourne
22 November 2014 – The Front Gallery & Café, Canberra
27 & 28 November 2014 – Newtown Social Club, Sydney
29 November 2014 -  Gorgeous Music Festival, McLaren Vale
5 December 2014 – Solbar, Sunshine Coast
6 December 2014 – Black Bear Lodge,  Brisbane

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With her Songs That Made Me album now in stores, Katie Noonan and some of her musical sisters are set to take the CD on the road.

Following the successful 2013 tour, Katie and other amazing local female talents have laid down tracks which pay homage to the songs that shaped their lives. Not only is the album full of fabulous music, 100 percent of the profits from sales will benefit the Cancer Council’s Pink Ribbon campaign.

I am so thrilled to be able to join with these remarkable women, utilising the Songs That Made Me concept, to raise funds and awareness for Cancer Council’s Pink Ribbon campaign,” Katie said in a press statement. “It’s not every day that you get to work with such incredibly gifted artists and contribute something meaningful at the same time.”

Featured artists Angie Hart, Melody Pool, and Sam Buckingham will join Katie for these very special shows.

30 October 2014 – Artbar, Perth
7 November 2014 – The Gov, Adelaide
8 November 2014 – Thornbury Theatre, Melbourne
13 November 2014 – Joan Sutherland PAC, Penrith
14 & 15 November 2014 – The Basement, Sydney
16 November 2014 – Lizotte’s, New Lambton
21 November 2014 – The Byron Theatre, Byron Bay
22 November 2014 – Old Museum Concert Hall, Brisbane
23 November 2014 – Soundlounge, Gold Coast

Image used with permission from Revolutions per Minute

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As part of the #HipmunkCityLove project, I have been looking at a lot of Melbourne hotels. I’ve been browsing the websites, writing up little blurbs about their lurks and perks, and drooling over the rooms. It’s been fun, and it’s also made me desperate for that getaway that my schedule just doesn’t allow right now. But I haven’t given up on that holiday, and when I take it I’m heading back here to decide where to go. Until then, perhaps you might like to book a room at one of these best Melbourne hotels for music lovers!

4. City Tempo

A hotel called City Tempo was made for music lovers! It’s got more than a musical moniker on its side though. It’s ideally located in the heart of the CDB, making it easy to get to any show you want or go pub-hopping on the lookout for the next big thing. It has apartments rather than rooms, so you can cook for yourself to save a bit of cash or simply enjoy the extra space. And each suite also has a HiFi system with a CD player, iPod dock, and digital radio so you can listen to your favourite tunes before bedtime.

3. Quality Hotel Batman’s Hill on Collins

More big name music acts are bypassing Rod Laver Arena for Etihad Stadium these days. Recently we’ve seen Eminem and Justin Timberlake rocking the venue, and One Direction will be there before you know it. But the sneaky stadium owners double the price of parking to $30 whenever there’s a show on! Why drive when you can walk? Quality Hotel Batman’s Hill on Collins is just a 13-minute walk from the stadium, but if you’re feeling lazy you could always catch a tram from nearby Spencer Street. This handy tram stop makes it easy to get to other gigs while you’re in town.

Quality Hotel Batman’s Hill on Collins has affordable rooms and apartment suites with kitchens and lounge areas if you’re looking for more space to spread out. Its onsite cocktail lounge and combination bar and gaming room gives you somewhere to hang when you’re not seeing shows.

2. Sofitel Melbourne on Collins

Sofitel Melbourne on Collins bills itself as the Hotels for the Arts. It’s not just its location in the heart of the theatre district that’s earned it the title, but also its commitment to music, theatre, and the visual arts. It sponsors the Victorian Opera, the Brandenburg Orchestra, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, and heaps more. The Sofitel also regularly offers show packages with preferential seating for theatre productions like Once The Musical and Les Mis. Its luxury rooms are a bit of a splurge, but if you feel like treating yourself it’s hard to find better.

1. Crown Towers

If money’s burning a hole in your pocket, or you just want to give yourself the chance of staying near a celeb, then book a room at Crown Towers. This opulent hotel in the Crown Casino and Entertainment Complex has hosted the likes of Katy Perry, One Direction, and the late Luciano Pavarotti. Just don’t do a Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston while you’re there; the pair were unceremoniously sent packing when they trashed one of the luxury suites.

Crown always has a jam-packed events calendar, so make sure you book tickets to a show while you’re there. Icehouse, Jon English, and Chocolate Starfish are all scheduled to play in the coming months.

Where do you like to stay when you’re heading to Melbourne for a gig? Please share your comments below!

Image source: Michael Coghlan @ Flickr

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The Short Fall have wowed me with their single “Seasons,” the lead track from their recently released EP State of Mind.

This song is superb. The harmonies from Ryan and Angelo Conway are the kind of perfect you only get when siblings perform, and the gentle acoustic guitars support their angelic voices beautiful. In short, I’m in love.

The Short Fall recorded State of Mind on the Capricorn Coast with producer Anthony Lycenko, who’s recently worked with the likes of Pete Murray, Busby Marou, and Xavier Rudd. The EP’s in a very similar vein to the acoustic folk those more established Aussie artists produce, but that’s far from a bad thing.

With such talent, you know The Short Fall are going to be able to produce the goods in the live arena. Catch them on this tour before they start playing bigger venues!

24 October 2014 – The Irish Village, Emerald
25 October 2014 – Customs House, Rockhampton
2 November 2014 – Brolga Riverstage, Maryborough (FREE)
6 November 2014 – SolBar, Maroochydoore (FREE)
7 November 2014 – The Treehouse on Belongil, Byron Bay (FREE)
8 November 2014 – The Milk Factory, Brisbane (FREE)
15 November 2014 – Noktoberfest @ Gladstone Racecourse, Gladstone
21 November 2014 – Yeppoon Town Hall, Yeppoon (ALL AGES)

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Jericco have crept under my skin with their latest single “Colour Outside the Lines.” Brent McCormick drew me in with his a capella vocals early before the band assaulted my ears with the rest. Honestly, once the sound got turned up I wasn’t sure I was going to stick with it, but by the end of the track I was loving its anthemic quality. It’s a bit heavier than the music I’m used to, but I love it when something out of the box turns my head. And it all kind of makes sense for a song called “Colour Outside the Lines,” doesn’t it?

“In a world that sets us free … ‘Colour Outside the Lines’ is about an energy that travels through us,” Brent explained.

The track comes from Jericco’s forthcoming sophomore album Machine Made the Animals, which is scheduled to hit stores in early 2015. Fans should get a taste of more songs from that release when the Melbourne band travels around the country to promote the single, kicking off with a Brisbane show tomorrow night. Tickets will be available at the door, so make sure you check them out.

25 October 2014 – The New Globe Theatre, Brisbane
14 November 2014 – Fowler’s Live, Adelaide
21 November 2014 – Musicman Megastore, Bendigo
22 November 2014 – Ding Dong Lounge, Melbourne
27 November 2014 – Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle
28 November 2014 – Transit Bar, Canberra, NSW
29 November 2014 – Factory Floor, Sydney, NSW

Image via Collision Course PR

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Music lovers heading to Melbourne tend to stay in the centre of town, but it’s worth taking a journey out of the city. The area around St Kilda Road has much more than gardens going for it. In fact, there are plenty of musical attractions that make this underappreciated part of Melbourne worth a look.

Sidney Myer Music Bowl

The Sidney Myer Music Bowl is a fabulous shell-shaped outdoor amphitheatre on the lawns of the King’s Domain. Local businessman Sidney Myer was inspired to commission the venue after attending a show at Los Angeles’ Hollywood Bowl. He established free, open air concerts with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra in 1929, and these continue to this day.

The Bowl recorded the largest crowd for a free concert on Aussie soil in 1967, when around 200,000 people turned out to see The Seekers play. It’s also hosted the likes of AC/DC, The Beach Boys, Crowded House, R.E.M., Pearl Jam, Bon Jovi, Swedish House Mafia, The Black Keys, and Neil Young. And every Christmas you can catch a who’s who of local stars spreading festive cheer at the annual Carols by Candlelight.

The Magic of Moomba

Every March, St Kilda Road comes alive with the annual Melbourne Moomba Waterfest. This free family event is the largest free community festival in the country and one of Australia’s longest running events. Kids love the birdman rally, water sports, and crowning of Moomba monarchs, but music lovers are much more interested in the top artists that play Moomba every year. And there’s been some serious talent in the past including ABBA and Neil Diamond. AC/DC, Tex Perkins, Daryl Braithwaite, and adopted Aussie Kimbra have also graced the Moomba stage.

Hamer Hall

You’ll also need to get out of the city centre to see a show at Hamer Hall, formerly known as the Melbourne Concert Hall. With 2,661 seats, it’s the largest venue in Southbank’s Arts Centre complex. However, it’s still much more intimate than seeing a show at Rod Laver Arena or the MCG. It’s home to the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and the preferred Melbourne performance venue for the Australian Chamber Orchestra. It’s also a great place to catch performances from contemporary acts like Tripod, The Gloaming, Kate Ceberano, Train, and Ben Folds performing with the MSO in the coming months.

Hamer Hall is currently receiving $128.5 million of upgrades including new and expanded foyer spaces, better disability access, and improved acoustics.

Plenty of Places to Stay

The area around St Kilda Road also has some great hotels which put you an easy walk from these great musical attractions. Bayview on the Park has exceptional views of Albert Park Lake and Golf Course, and its mid-priced rooms won’t put a hole in your pocket. The Hotel Charsfield is a bit ritzier, with a French restaurant on site and cool snooker and reading rooms. Both hotels have tram stations out front to get you into the CDB for those inner-city gigs.

This article is part of the #‎HipmunkCityLove‬ project. Which part of Melbourne do you love?

Image sources: Alan Lam @ Flickr; Rachel Hofton @ Flickr

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It occurs to me that Melbourne tends to get overlooked on my blog. Sure I’ll write about the fabulous bands that hail from the city and mention the ones passing through, but considering its status as one of the country’s music capitals, it gets a pretty raw deal. I’m on the Central Coast of New South Wales, so the shows I review tend to be in my local area or in Sydney or Newcastle. Even Brisbane gets a look in when I’m visiting friends. But I haven’t visited Melbourne in years.

It wasn’t always this way. I have fond memories of making my way to Melbourne to catch Human Nature supporting John Farnham on his “I Can’t Believe He’s 50” tour. I can’t say that I know how old John Farnham is now, but I reckon 50’s a distant memory. I was back again when Invertigo launched their awesome and underrated album Forum. Now all but a select few would ask “Invertiwho?” Melbourne, it’s been far too long.

So in the interest of levelling the ledger, and completing an assignment I have for the #‎HipmunkCityLove‬ project (yes folks, gushing about music isn’t the only writing I do), I think it was time I thrust Melbourne into the spotlight. And so I bring you, a music lover’s guide to Melbourne.

Amazing Music Venues

Scroll through the tours I’ve covered and you’ll see The Corner Hotel in Richmond mentioned time and time again. It simply gets the best bands around. Just make sure you turn up early to see your favourite, because the back of that long main room is a LONG way back.

The Tote’s story is one of survival. It’s been threatened by the establishment, but its passionate supporters ensure that this venue endures. Its sticky carpets and walls strewn with gig guides are iconic. It might be looking a little long in the tooth, but it’s still got plenty of punk attitude.

170 Russell is all about eclecticism. In just the next week it’ll host smooth U.S. soul singer D’Angelo, laid back Aussies The Beautiful Girls, and hard-rocking industry veterans The Mark of Cain. No matter what’s playing the sound is superb, and its innercity location puts rooms at the Crossley Hotel Melbourne within stumbling distance.

And I can’t forget about The Espy, the home of everyone’s favourite music quiz show RocKwiz. It’s another venue that celebrates diversity. You might hear an acoustic singer-songwriter one night and a metal act the next. It’s currently up for sale, so let’s hope the buyer keeps its rich tradition of live music excellence alive.

Fabulous Festivals

Before it took Australia by storm, St Jerome’s Laneway Festival was one of Melbourne’s best kept secrets. It all began in 2004 when just 1,400 folks turned out to see up-and-comers The Presets and Architecture in Helsinki play. The organisers have always had a knack for finding the best new acts before they hit the big time. There are more household names now, but it’s the smaller artists that provide the real surprises.

Melbourne Music Week is another local gem, a 10-day celebration of the city’s eclectic music scene. There are always stacks of free and ticketed events and performances from some of Victoria’s most well-known musicians and the next generation of superstars. The shows are complemented by panel sessions and workshops.

And why should the grownups have all the fun? Playfest is the city’s first one-site music and arts festival designed with kids in mind. Yo Gabba Gabba, Sam Moran, The WooHoo Revue, and Em Rusciano will delight the littlies. And if the sound of hundreds of screaming children starts to grate, mums and dads can visit the garden bar! It hits the Sidney Myer Music Bowl on November 21 and 22.

Awesome Record Stores

As an old school music fan, I love a city that still has proper record stores. You know the places; the ones with guys behind the counter that can turn you onto a band you’ve never heard of and stacks of imports and rarities.

Greville Records opened its doors in the late 70s, and while the musical landscape’s changed a lot since that time but you wouldn’t know it browsing the vinyl here. You can spend hours thumbing through the more than 20,000 LPs and more than 10,000 45s of every genre imaginable of almost every conceivable genre.

From Greville Records, it’s just a short stroll to Obese Records on Izett Street, which is so popular with the hip hop crowd that it spawned its own record label.

Record Paradise is another great option, no matter where your music taste lies. There’s new vinyl on one wall and classic artists on another. The store is closed from Sunday to Tuesday though, which can be a little inconvenient if you’re craving a vinyl fix.

And of course I could go on. I’m 800 words in and I know I’ve just scratched the surface. But it’s beer o’clock on a Friday, so I’m turning it over to you. Dear readers, what are your musical highlights of Melbourne?

Image sources: Remixyourface @ Flickr; Murasaki-Claire @ Flickr

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It was bittersweet driving to Lizotte’s last night. As I sat in my car outside the train station, waiting to collect my husband, I heard the news on the radio that “The Cubbyhouse” would close its doors in April. Long-term readers will know how much I adore this venue. A night out at Lizotte’s always feels like a treat. The food is amazing, the wine is good, the service friendly, and the entertainment top notch. I’ve been lucky enough to see artists like Jimmy Barnes, Amos Lee, Daryl Braithwaite, Richard Clapton, and Darren Percival there, in surroundings that are so beautifully intimate. The Newcastle arm will remain, and I’ll look forward to attending shows there, but I will miss this place terribly. How wonderful it was to have a venue which could attract such stellar talent and bring it to music lovers in such relaxed surrounds just 15 minutes from my home.

All those thoughts of how much I’d miss it ran through my head last night as I did my best to soak it all in. I savoured my wine, the crispy tempura prawn entrée, and the always impressive battered flathead and chunky chips. The combination of seafood and pinot grigio put me in a chilled space for the appearance of support act Simon Meli. I didn’t even mind that I was sitting behind a pole which prevented me taking decent photos. I was just excited to see this Voice alum stripped back with just an acoustic guitar, and performing the originals we didn’t get to experience on the show. I’m not sure if he’s improved since his time on the show or whether the TV didn’t do him justice, but his voice blew me away. There’s such a rich, warm quality to it. On The Voice I was impressed by his showmanship, but I didn’t feel he was one of the program’s strongest vocalists. After seeing what he can do just sitting on a stool, playing a guitar, I think perhaps I underestimated him. I loved his originals, but his closing cover of “Ramble On” was the highlight.

Then it was Thirsty Merc’s turn to take the stage. It’s been such a long time since I saw them play, and they took me on a real trip down memory lane with their set. It was so cool hearing how they breathed new life into their material. So often an acoustic show delivers the same songs with quieter instruments, but Thirsty Merc took the opportunity to play around and make those early songs something new. I won’t lie, it wasn’t always successful. I felt the slowed-down version of “My Completeness” was sleepy, with none of the spark of the original. But with great risk comes great reward. “Katie Q” was a bit of a filler track on the band’s first album, but the jazzier live version had me tapping my feet. “Emancipate Myself,” the song that turned me on to the band all those years ago, and “Build a Bridge” were also real highlights.

This show had me feeling nostalgic, but it was about so much more than rehashing the past. Thirsty Merc might be closing the door to the first ten years of their life, but the inventiveness they showed in this set prove there’s still plenty of life in this Aussie band.

Image source: Thirsty Merc Facebook page

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The Smith Street Band wrote songs for their new album Throw Me in the River in far-flung places including Winnipeg, Salt Lake City, London, New York, Calgary, and North Melbourne. But when it came to putting those tracks down, they looked to the solitude of the small Victorian town of Forrest.

Forrest has just 170 people, and many of them turned out to the local pub The Wonky Donkey to check out a surprise solo set from frontman Wil Wagner. On October 31, we’ll finally get to hear what they heard as Throw Me in the River hits stores. This video gives us a little sneak peek at the recording process.

I love the idea of escaping the hustle and bustle to record an album. They’ll be back in the thick of it in November though when they showcase Throw Me in the River at the following gigs.
19 November 2014 – Brisbane Hotel, Hobart (18+)
20 November 2014 –The Gov, Adelaide (Licensed All Ages)
21 November 2014 –The Hi-Fi, Brisbane (18+)
22 November 2014 –Manning Bar, Sydney (18+)
23 November 2014 – Zierholz @ UC, Canberra (18+)
28 November 2014 –Corner Hotel, Melbourne (18+)
29 November 2014 –Rosemount Hotel, Perth (18+)

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Australian-UK collaboration Slow Chase are showing plenty of swagger with their new single “Exorcism.” It’s a down and dirty slice of blues which marks a return to form for the band which haven’t released anything since their 2012 debut EP.

Slow Chase will celebrate the October 13 single release with a live YouTube show at 9pm AEST before hitting the road for a string of dates.

17 October 2014 – Musicman Megastore, Bendigo
18 October 2014 – The Loft, Warrnambool
25 October 2014 – Crown & Anchor, Adelaide
31 October 2014 – Ding Dong Lounge, Melbourne
14 November 2014 – Barwon Club Hotel, Geelong
20 November 2014 – Frankie’s Pizza, Sydney

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