While the band may be based out of Montreal, blues/psych-rock outfit Alexei Martov is undeniably Australian thanks to the talents of frontman Martin Bradstreet. The gifted vocalist and guitarist (he also plays piano) is joined in the group by two brothers, Matthew and Jonah Dorfman, who hold things down as the band’s rhythm section.

They have been kicking around for several years with releases such as Scent of a Wolf and Way of the Crow, but it feels like they’re due for a breakthrough soon with the recent release of their self-titled EP. And there’s a good reason for that, beyond the fact that the music on the eight-track project is some of their best to date. Bradstreet seems to be focusing more on the band than he had in the past, something that’s become evident through digging into his history.

The Australian native’s background doesn’t only include playing music since his teenage years; it turns out the guy has been pretty involved in online poker too. Bradstreet claims that he took on the pseudonym for musical reasons, according to the band’s Facebook. But it turns out that he also frequently used it as his online poker handle, along with the name MagicNinja, since sometime in 2007.

Instead of playing the wildly popular Texas Hold’em—the poker variant that led to the game’s online boom in the early aughts—Bradstreet sticks to the somewhat-lesser-known Pot Limit Omaha. As it turns out, though, it’s apparently a lot like its much more popular cousin. As pointed out by Betfair Poker, “Pot Limit Omaha is structured exactly the same as Texas Hold’em–but players are dealt four cards instead of two.” And if you’re wondering just how he’s faired in playing the game, it looks pretty good for Bradstreet. Although he lost several hundred thousand playing under the MagicNinja name, he looks to be doing just fine as Alexei Martov (per his profile on HighStakesDB).

As for that aforementioned focus shifting solely to music, the proof is all on the web. According to the aforementioned HighStakesDB page, he hasn’t played online since the summer of 2013. Although, to be fair, it’s hard to say if he’s completely kicked poker to the curb. Chances are he’s introduced his bandmates to the game and the three are enjoying some Pot Limit Omaha in their downtime between shows and recording sessions.

You can listen to Alexei Martov’s new self-titled EP below and buy it on iTunes.

Image used with permission from Total Marketing

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Are you dreaming of a Melbourne holiday but wondering how you’ll swing it after the Christmas splurge? Never fear Sounds of Oz readers. I’ve put together a guide to enjoying a musical getaway in Victoria’s capital on the cheap.

Choose Accommodation Carefully

Accommodation will probably be your biggest expense, so it pays to think carefully before you jump in. Of course a real cheapskate would choose somewhere like Nomads All Nations Hostel or Ritz for Backpackers. But if you’re anything like me, you’d rather book a more upmarket hotel that gives you bang for your buck.

Hotel Charsfield is one of my favorite Melbourne hotels. It has fancy-pants features like reading and snooker rooms, but because it’s out of the city center it costs less than comparable four-star hotels in the CDB. It doesn’t feel like a compromise though because there’s a tram stop right outside the door.

It’s all a matter of personal taste of course, so think about what you want from your accommodation. If you’re going to spend a lot of time in your room it’s probably worth a splurge, but if you just need a bed don’t be afraid to go cheap and cheerful.

Get Cheap Tickets

Concert tickets in Australia are far too expensive, but as all of us know catching a show is a big part of the holiday experience.

If you want cheap music, head to the city’s pubs and clubs. Melbourne has one of the richest live music scenes, and on any night of the week you can discover up-and-coming acts for free or close to it. The Labour in Vain Hotel, The Rainbow, The Drunken Poet, and The Gem always have awesome free acts.

If you insist on seeing a big show, head to a website like TiqIQ. It has big discounts on tickets to shows at Etihad Stadium and Rod Laver Arena. Just don’t make the mistake I did and get excited about artists touring around Melbourne, Florida rather than Melbourne, Victoria.

Travel during Free Festivals

I know the feeling of wanting to go away and wanting to go now all too well. But if you time your holiday to coincide with one of Melbourne’s cultural festivals you’ll have more to see for less. I’m not talking about the big festivals mind you. Events like the Melbourne Festival and Moomba bring so many tourists into the city that the hotel prices soar. Instead think about visiting during the quiet achievers.

During January, Fitzroy Gardens hosts the Sunset Series. On the second and third Saturday of the month you can soak up the sun while enjoying four great Aussie bands for free. The event also has food trucks, which are always good for a cheap feed.

If you fancy yourself a singer check out the Melbourne International Singers Festival, a four-day event which brings together choirs and singers from around the country. It’s a great opportunity to work with leading conductors and composers and have a lot of fun.

This post was written as part of the #HipmunkCityLove project. Which city would you love to holiday in this summer?

Image source: Alandot @ Flickr

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I know that not everyone loves Christmas as much as me. Some folks out there are just gritting their teeth trying to wait it all out. So this song is for them. The bah-humbuggers as my mum likes to call them. Davey Lane’s spoken for you all with his new single “Wake Me Up When Christmas Ends.” The song might be a bit grinchy, but Davey’s showing he’s got some Christmas spirit by giving it away!

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To celebrate the forthcoming release of his sophomore album EONS, Jim Lawrie is getting into the Christmas spirit and giving away two singles for free.

They’re both excellent, but “Just Like Normal’s” really bowled me over. What an amazing song that is. With songwriting skills like this, he was really wasted behind the drums of Eagle and the Worm. I’m so glad that he’s gone solo so we can hear songs like that.

If you’ve got tickets for Falls or the Southbound Festival in Busselton, make sure you don’t miss the talented Mr Lawrie’s sets!

Image used with permission from Remote Control Records

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We’re officially in the home stretch. Can you believe that this time next week, Christmas will be done and dusted for another year? Right now I’m turning into the Christmas Monster, cranking carols and wrapping gifts and getting far too excited for someone my age. The thing is though, there are only so many versions of “Winter Wonderland” you can hear. So I’m always excited when something new crosses my path, especially something Australian. And if it doesn’t get overly sappy and sentimental, so much the better.

So without further ado, I bring you “Cold Turkey on Christmas Day,” the new track from Melbourne’s Central Rain. It name checks Santa and the turkey, but it’s not your run-of-the-mill song for the season.

“Cold Turkey on Christmas Day” is the lead single from Central Rain’s debut EP, which is slated for a 2015 release. What do you think of it? If you love it, check out Central Rain’s Bandcamp page for a free download.

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From the ashes of Hungry Kids of Hungary, Sans Parents have come to be. The trio features former Hungry Kids Kane Mazlin and Ryan Strathie and Sydney session player Alex Bennison.

The guys originally planned to assist one another on new post-band solo projects, but they worked so well together that they put together almost enough material for a new album in no time at all. Sensing that the stars had aligned they decided to stick together, and Sans Parents was born.

“Coming Back to You” has a melodic core wrapped up in a big ball of aggression. It’s fast and furious and so much fuzzy fun. What do you think of it?

Image used with permission from Rare Finds

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I haven’t written in here about the Sydney siege. At the time it was all unfolding, I was a bit conflicted actually. This is a music blog, not a political or news outlet. Was it my place? And if I should write about it, what should I write?

I spent the day terrified for the people involved, while thanking my lucky stars that my husband no longer worked in the centre of the city. I remember hearing something about how Americans should keep a low profile during the ordeal, and begging him to stay in his office and come straight home when he was finished. I shed tears watching the terror on the faces of the escapees, and again the next day hearing the stories of those who lost their lives. When something happens so close to home, getting emotional is inevitable.

Still I stayed silent here, deciding this blog wasn’t the place to open up about it, until I heard “Under One Sun” from Perth soul songbird Shameem. It’s a beautiful song about seeing the similarities between us all rather than the differences. It’s so appropriate for this time when Australians from all backgrounds are coming together trying to make sense of it all.

“Under One Sun” comes from Shameem’s new album The Second City, which will hit stores on January 16. She’ll promote it with a national tour next year. I probably won’t get to the shows, but I’m so grateful that I stumbled on this song at a point in time when I really needed to hear it.

17 January 2015 – Subiaco Arts Centre, Subiaco (ALL AGES)
19 February 2015 – Paris Cat, Melbourne (18+)
20 February 2015 – The Basement, Canberra (18+)
21 February 2015 – Gingers, Sydney (18+)
22 February 2015 – Lass O’Gowrie, Newcastle (FREE 2PM SHOW; KIDS WELCOME)
23 February 2015 – Bar on the Hill @ University of Newcastle, Newcastle (FREE 12:30 PM SHOW; ALL AGES)
27 February 2015 – Ric’s Bar, Brisbane (FREE; 18+)
28 February 2015 – Treehouse, Byron Bay (FREE; ALL AGES)
1 March 2015 – Ukiyo @ The Royal Croquet Club, Adelaide (ALL AGES)

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The Griswolds have released “If You Wanna Stay,” the feel good second cut from their debut album, Be Impressive. Impressive it is too, with playful synthy hooks that take me right back to the pop heyday of the ‘80s. God it’s fun.

The Sydney band has been conquering America of late, but they’ll be back in January to support British indie gods The Kooks. Following that they’re returning to the US for a mammoth 40-date tour supporting Walk the Moon, so if you don’t see them in the New Year there’s no telling when you’ll get another chance.

Image used with permission from SCG Media

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Melbourne quartet The Colour Code have bound out of the gate with their debut single “Alibi,” a killer combination of fuzzy guitars, tribal beats, and powerhouse vocals.

And then there are those lyrics which speak of being displaced in your world, going through the motions as you struggle with those feelings of isolation and disconnect. It’s so relatable and so so good.

The Colour Code are doing a quick tour to promote the single kicking off tomorrow night. Be There or be square!

19 December 2014 – Yah Yah’s, Fitzroy
2 January 2015 – Brighton Up Bar, Sydney
12 February 2015 – The Espy, St Kilda

Image used with permission from 123 Agency

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Art of Sleeping impressed me with their single “Crazy” recently, so I was happy to hear that they’re taking it on the road. The Brisbane band will use upcoming performances at the Falls Festival as a warm-up for an east coast tour which takes in the capitals over summer.

Art of Sleeping will offer a sneak peek at their forthcoming debut album, which hits stores in mid-2015, as well as taking us back to where it all began with gems from the 2012 EP Like a Thief. Sydney’s phenomenal The Lulu Raes will serve as support for the following shows.

23 January 2015 – Northcote Social Club, Melbourne
24 January 2015 – Newtown Social Club, Sydney
6 February 2015 – Black Bear Lodge, Brisbane

Image used with permission from Dew Process

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