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The wannabes and attention seekers are long gone, and Australian Idol now has a top 24. I haven’t written about this season yet, partly because the action has been so fast and furious, but now as we head towards the finals I figured I’d share my views.

There’s been some major changes this year, and so far so good. I thought it was great to tear through the auditions by screening them every night of the week. I think the top 100 night was less successful though. By cramming all that action into a single episode, rather than the usual two, we missed a lot of singing. Having said that, there were some really positive changes in the format like scrapping the group songs and bringing in a band and audience. And I love that we now know who makes up our top 24.

And it’s a really solid group of performers. They represent so many musical styles, but generally they seem to come from a really organic place. You won’t see any manufacturer pop princesses in this bunch. Many of my early favourites made the cut including Matthew Parsons, Roshani Priddis, Chrislyn Hamilton, James Spargo, and Wes Carr.

But there were a few questionable choices. I’m sure the teenage girls will flip over young Tom Williams, but his dodgy Top 100 performances tell me he’s not really ready for the comp. I’d have much rather seen his place go to Simon Phillips who wowed me in the auditions, only to be glimpsed during the Top 100 show. Such is the nature of this compressed format. He apparently didn’t crash and burn spectacularly like my other fave Casey Freeman, so his disappearance puzzles me.

Tomorrow night the semifinals start. This year we’re doing mixed groups, which makes so much more sense to me. Talent isn’t gender based, so I never understood why we needed an even mix. You can catch the semis over the next four nights and the wildcard round on Sunday.

After that we’ve got the newly revamped finals. The introduction of a “Sing for Your Life” round on Mondays should make for a much more interesting watch. Hopefully it’ll also ensure the good contestants don’t leave just because their fans thought they were safe. If only we had it last year, we might not have lost Ben McKenzie!

Click below for the Australian Idol Top 24, and the nights your favourites will sing!

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Some exciting promos ensure Coaster will be more than just another festival.

Firstly the event has its very own mascot: Coasterman. It sounds a bit naff at first, but Coasterman is anything but. Apparently punters can look forward to Coasterman performing death-defying feats on his “killer scooter.” Now that just might be something worth seeing.

Artist signings are nothing new, so Coaster has spiced things up a bit with artist meet and greets. Fans will be able to spend half an hour hanging out with The Living End, Kisschasy, Blue King Brown, or one of the other artists on the Coaster bill. Only 50 tickets for each meet and greet will be available, ensuring those who put their cash down get value for money.

Inspired by the Tour de France, Coaster plans to give their favourite fans their own yellow jerseys. The Coaster Crew will choose someone they feel embodies the Coaster spirit to receive the honour. This Coaster with the Moaster will watch the bands from the side of stage, receive drink and food vouchers, and a souvenir T-shirt. When the crew finds someone else deserving of the yellow jersey, it’s passed on to them.

All sounds like a lot of fun! The first Coaster festival will hit Gosford Showgrounds on September 20.

Image source: Ilker @ Stock.xchng

Peter Morrissey Collection During Mercedes Australian Fashion Week

The missing members of Sydney rockers The Follow have been found. Azaria spoke to his manager Gabe Deluc yesterday, saying that he is safe and “just needed to get away.”

“We’re taking a few days off to meet as a band and assess where we go from here,” Gabe said in a statement on the band’s MySpace.

“As we suspected, there was some tension in the band. Sorry for worrying everyone.”

The statement doesn’t mention bass guitarist KJ, but I assume he has also been found. Good to hear the lads are safe!

The Easybeats

Some of Australia’s finest musicians have come together to pay tribute to local rock pioneers The Easybeats. Easyfever will feature the works of new kids like Skybombers and Dappled Cities alongside industry veterans like Neil Finn and Iva Davies.

The album will also include a real treat for fans: a previously unreleased song called “Motherfigure.” Harry Vanda and George Young penned the song in the 70s, intending it to be the first single from Stevie Wright’s third solo abum. Of course that album never came. Stevie’s rerecorded the track with another of Australia’s favourite sons, Jimmy Barnes.

“The Easybeats are an integral foundation stone of Australian rock and roll,” explained Albert Music CEO Tim Prescott.

“As a band they really were the first truly ‘Oz Rock’ export; and as songwriters, performers and producers, the band became the genesis of so much amazing Australian music – with Harry Vanda, George Young and Stevie Wright in particular all writing many hits, and George and Harry playing a hand in the careers of some of our greatest artists (including AC/DC , The Angels, Rose Tattoo, John Paul Young and of course Stevie’s solo career). Despite all this history, well known to music industry pundits, with the passing of time, The Easybeats and Stevie probably haven`t received the public accolades, or broad recognition, that they so richly deserve.

“Therefore to have this tribute album, featuring these extraordinary homegrown artists, playing Easybeats songs, is really a fitting testament to The Easybeats, and their long standing influence as songwriters and performers of some of the greatest songs that shaped our industry.”

If you know the music of the Easybeats, you already know these songs are amazing. If you don’t, this is the perfect education to songs like “Friday on My Mind,” “Sorry,” and “I’ll Make You Happy.”

Easyfever will be in stores on October 4. Click the link to see the amazing track listing!

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Aussie music legend Diesel is heading out on the road for a massive tour to promote his latest album Days Like These.

The disc is a return to the rock sound Diesel’s famous for, and this back-to-basics approach will be reflected in the intimate shows.

“It was just the three of us,” says Diesel. “Myself, Richie Vez on bass and Lee Moloney on drums. I kept it really off-the-cuff. I went with the flow, where the style was going when we were jamming. It’s a new spin on old ground.”

When Diesel says he’s touring Australia, he’s really touring Australia. South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, the ACT, Western Australia, and Tasmania all get a look in. It sort of makes you sorry for the Northern Territory, doesn’t it?

Click the link for all the dates!

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Kylie MinogueKylie Minogue has announced she’s finally coming home. Our pop darling will visit Sydney on December 14 and Melbourne on December 19.

“It’s been such as joy to take this show to so many countries that I’ve never been to before, but it’s a real thrill to finally be bringing it home to Australia and to be able to share it with you all,” Kylie said in a statement.

No doubt the news is sure to upset fans living anywhere else in Australia, but some shows are better than none at all.

Tickets will go on general sale from September 8, but you can jump the queue by signing up for a free Frontier Touring membership. Frontier will start their online presale on September 4.

Image source: @ Flickr 

Snoop Dogg hopes to visit Australia for a massive tour with Ice Cube in October. But with the Aussie governmentSnoop Dogg launching a full investigation into his criminal past, it may not happen.

Snoop, aka Cordozar Calvin Broadus Jr, applied for a visa last month. Provisional approval was granted, but that doesn’t mean he’s in the clear just yet.

“That process is in line with the procedures established by the previous government on the consideration of visa applicants,” a Department of Immigration spokesman said.

“Mr Broadus has not been granted a visa, there are further steps required beyond character assessment before a visa is granted. The department has now decided to do a full assessment of the character of Mr Broadus.”

This is the same department responsible for Snoop cancelling his Australian tour plans last year, so I won’t hold my breath for them granting his visa this time.

Cancelling the latest tour would be a crushing blow to Australian urban fans still reeling from the repeated postponements of tours from Mary J. Blige and Timbaland. Can’t we let in the hip hop stars who actually want to be here?

Image source: Janet Dancer @ Flickr 

The Rocky Horror Show Opens In Sydney - Arrivals

Two members of Sydney band The Follow have gone missing in the United States. Jess Origliasso’s ex Azaria and bass player KJ were last seen in North Hollywood on Friday night.

“All of The Follow’s family and close friends have been contacted, we’ve filed a missing person’s report and have reached out to the Australian consulate for guidance,” their manager Gabe Deluc wrote on the band’s MySpace page.

He revealed the band had been experiencing personal and professional problems, and it is unknown whether this is to blame for their disappearance.

My thoughts are definitely with the remaining band members and their families at this difficult time. I’ll bring you more details as they come to hand.

Augie MarchIt’s been a long term since we’ve heard anything new from the sublime Augie March.

The lads in the band appreciate that, so they’re offering up free downloads of their brand new track!

“Watch Me Disappear” is the title song from the band’s forthcoming full length album.

It was recorded with Joe Chiccarelli, famous for his work with Beck and The White Stripes.

Get it now at Augie March’s official website!

Missy Higgins

Keep an eye out for Australia’s own Missy Higgins on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno this week. She’ll perform her amazing ballad “Where I Stood” on the show on Thursday August 28. And with timezones being as they are, that’s the following day for Aussies.

If you’re like me and still living without pay TV you can check out her performance afterwards at the NBC website.

The Leno appearance is great timing for Missy who’s just about to embark on two massive American tours. Next month she sets out with the Indigo Girls, before joining Ben Folds for his tour. What wonderful exposure for this incredible Aussie artist!

Click the link below for all Missy’s latest dates!

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