The second night of the Australian Idol semis opened with the announcement of our first two finalists. It looks like I was right. Australia fell in love with the soul stylings of Stan Walker and country girl Kate Cook.

Ashleigh Toole opened the show with Christina Aguilera’s “Hurt.” I’m not a fan of Christina, especially when done on the Idol stage. But wow. She made me forget about all the people who’ve performed this song in an overly emotional and cloying way. It was vulnerable and believable and lovely.

Adam Eckersley was up next with the big rock chick anthem, “All Fired Up.” It was a solid rendition, but it didn’t really take off beyond that for me. And at this point of the competition, I think you really need to break into the stratosphere to distinguish yourself. It needed a little more grit and passion. And perhaps a guitar would have helped. Security blanket or not, he seemed a little aimless up there without it.

Marijana Topalovic
took on one of my favourite songs, “It Must Have Been Love” by Roxette. I’ve said many times that Idol needs more power ballads, but not like this. I’m not sure how she managed to suck all the power out of the power ballad, but she did it. Instead of being forceful and gutwrenching, it was simply pleasant. That also equates to boring. She hasn’t had a lot of screen time, so she really needed to pull something out tonight. And she didn’t.
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Hoodoo Gurus guitarist Brad Shepherd has revealed he’s recovering from surgery for cancer.

“It has been said that chicks dig scars – so I’m hoping that’s true,” he joked.

The Aussie rock legend says the operation to remove cancerous cells was a success, and he will be “knee-dropping and windmilling better than ever” at the band’s next show.

That performance will be the first iTunes Aussie Legends concert at Sydney’s Apple store on September 4. The band promises to play some of their old favourites, and a few new tunes. Hoodoo Gurus will release their ninth studio album early next year. The concert is free to attend, but as access is limited fans are encouraged to get their early for the 9 pm start. Or you could win a special double pass by e-mailing and telling them why you love the band in 25 words or less!

The Hoodoo Gurus show is the first in a series of shows featuring some of Australia’s most enduring talents. Mental as Anything, Jimmy Barnes, Diesel, and Ian Moss will also take the stage during September. The shows are on every Friday. Each live performance will be recorded and made available as an exclusive EP available through iTunes.

Image source: The Harbour Agency

The new and improved, Jay Dee Springbett judging Australian Idol competition really kicked off tonight with the first semi final. With the no talent losers out of the way, we could all sink our teeth into the really good stuff. And there was certainly some of that.

Hayley Warner started the show with Diesel’s “Cry in Shame.” It was an interesting choice, a little less contemporary and a little more soulful than we’ve seen her. I always find it intriguing when women cover male songs. It definitely works for her. She’s got a masculine energy that’s exciting, and she’s a born performer. It wasn’t her best performance, but it’s so refreshing to see a genuine rock chick in the mix.

Seth Drury was up next with his take on The Fray’s “You Found Me.” I really wanted to like Seth’s performance. He hasn’t received a lot of screen time, but what I’ve seen from him has been really cool. He’s from my home town of Newcastle. And he’s pretty cute. But his performance felt really pedestrian for me. There was none of the spark I’ve seen in the past, and with such a tough group of individuals I’m not sure solid is quite good enough.

Jamila Ioane took on Stevie Wonder’s classic “For Once in My Life.” She sang it well, but I honestly hated it. The arrangement stripped away all of the bounce and passion, so we were left with lounge music for the better part of the song. It picked up towards the end, but at this stage of the competition you don’t have very long to impress. I want a whole song of great, not just a snippet of one. I also felt like she was singing pretty rather than really connecting with the lyric. Jamila’s a real talent, but right now she’s not offering me anything I haven’t seen before.
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Heartbreak Club is back, with a new single ‘Are You Leaving Me?’ hitting stores in September and their debut album on the way. To celebrate, the lads will give their fans a sneak peek of the new songs at shows around the country. I recently caught up with the band’s lead singer to chat about the tour, the single, and what comes next.

You’re heading back on the road again to promote your new single and forthcoming album. Are you looking forward to road testing your new material?
Actually, we road-tested the new material before we went into the studio with a regional mini-tour of places we didn’t make it to on our last national tour. The experience was really beneficial as we got a lot of feedback (both directly from fans, and also from general reception and spontaneous reactions). We felt that having already bounced the songs off of a live audience we could arrange them appropriately in the studio, rather than record the album first and then regret the arrangements if/when people thought they sucked.

The short answer however is we’re absolutely champing at the bit, as it were, to get back on the road an tour the new material

You’re touring for a massive nine weeks this time. How on earth do you amuse yourself travelling all over the country for that long?
You know, I really don’t know how to quantify that fully! I mean, the nine-weeks-on-road thing says it all. Are we stupid? Are we stubborn? (Probably a little of column A, a little of column B). Playing a good show to a responsive crowd is always ‘enough amusement.’ That and each tour we do, we try and get to at least a couple of places we’ve never played or been before.

What do you miss most when you’re on the road for an extended period?
Depends what kind of travelling we’re doing, but usually it’s in a van, so we miss our own beds and not having to constantly have the aroma of dudes around you.

You’re playing plenty of capital cities and regional centres in that time. Are there any places you’re particularly excited about visiting?
We’re headed to Townsville and Cairns, which is the furthest north we’re been before, so that’s grouse. Also, regional Victoria we haven’t explored enough of yet, so I’m looking forward to the Warrnambool gig.
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Many have challenged the late great Michael Jackson, but it’s taken a bunch of Central Coast teens to bring his reign on the charts to an end. Short Stack have knocked Jacko off the ARIA charts top spot this week with their debut album Stack is the New Black.

It was another impressive debut for Paul Dempsey, who’s sitting at number five with his sophomore solo effort Everything is True. Meanwhile Lisa Mitchell has slipped down a couple of notches with her debut effort Wonder. It’s sitting at number eight.

Kate Miller-Heidke is leading the Aussie charge in the singles charts. Her latest track, “The Last Day on Earth”, is holding steady at number three. She’s just edged out Guy Sebastian, who jumps two places to sit at number four with “Like it Like That.”

Click below to see the complete top 10!
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Magic Dirt bass guitarist Dean Turner has lost his battle with tissue cancer. He was just 37 years old when he passed away on Friday night.

Dean formed the indie rock outfit in 1992 with his then-girlfriend Adalita Srsen. Their albums What Are Rockstars Doing Today and Tough Love both gained top 20 status on the ARIA charts thanks to singles “Dirty Jeans” and “Plastic Loveless Letter.”

Dean Turner is survived by his wife Linda Bosidas and their two daughters, Charlie and Evie.

The band was on tour at the time of Dean’s death. A spokeswoman for the band says they are unsure whether two Sydney concerts, scheduled for next weekend, will go ahead.

Image source: The Harbour Agency

Melbourne’s own The Temper Trap has cracked the UK Top 40 with Conditions. The band’s debut long-player sits at number 32 in its first week.

The Temper Trap relocated from Melbourne to London this May to generate some buzz. It looks like that worked. The BBC has also voted the band as one of the Top 15 Sounds of 2009.

The album’s success has been buoyed by the singles “Sweet Disposition, “Fader” and “Science of Fear.”

With such a solid debut, the only way is up for this homegrown success story!

Image source: The Harbour Agency

The well-dressed lads from Click on Colour are hitting the road to celebrate the release of their debut EP.

The five-track EP Colours By Numbers was produced by Luke Gerard-Webb of Kisschasy and Faker fame. The band says music fans can expect “unrestrained guitar solos roaring on for three minutes at a time, melancholic piano chords, a chorus of female soul singers, experimental instrumentals, conceptual lyrics, digital sequencing thirty years ahead of its time, oh wait, that’s Dark Side of the Moon.”

The first single “Stay Starry Eyed” isn’t about “what’s witnessed in certain Looney Tunes characters after copping an anvil to the cranium.” Instead it’s about “unwavering optimism and sheer determination against all odds.”

The EP reflects a band with a maturing sound, with tunes which mark “the pivotal break from our pubescence into manhood.”

With the EP hitting stores on September 11, Click on Colour will jumpstart the celebrations with the tour kicking off in Melbourne on August 28.

“Expect drums that will make your heart explode, bass that makes your bowels rumble, guitars that will pierce your flesh and smooth melodies bound to make any girl climax … and a few guys too.”

Oooer. Join in the fun at the following venues around the country.

28 August 2009 – The Arthouse, Melbourne
4 September 2009 – The Chilli Lounge, Wyong
5 September 2009 – Ballina Hotel
9 September 2009 – The Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle
19 September 2009 – Uni Bar, Adelaide
30 September 2009 – The Toff In Town, Melbourne
2 October 2009 – Hard Rock Cafe, Gold Coast
3 October 2009 – Home Tavern, Wagga Wagga
4 October 2009 – The Hive, Brisbane
8 October 2009 – Ettamogah Pub, Albury (All Ages)
9 October 2009 – Ettamogah Pub, Albury (18+)
16 October 2009 – The Castle, Dandenong (All Ages)
30 October 2009 – The Pub, Bendigo

Image used with permission from AAA Entertainment

Sydney’s Cassette Kids have just finished their debut album, so they’re ready to blow off some steam. And what better way to do it than to team up with their mates Grafton Primary for one massive tour.

Opera Bar Launches New Beer Garden

The much anticipated debut album was produced by the super-talented team of Richard Wilkinson (Hot Chip, Adele, Magic Numbers, Carl Cox) and Michael Di Francesco aka Mikey from Van She (Ladyhawke). We’ll have to wait until early next year to see it in stores, but this tour will give fans a taste of what’s to come.

To celebrate the tour and the completion of the album, Cassette Kids are offering fans a free download of a brand new song “Freaky Sweetie.” To get it just head to the Cassette Kids website! Here are all the dates for the double-header shows!

22 August 2009 – Uni of Tasmania, Hobart (with Grafton Primary)
29 August 2009 – Capitol, Perth (with Grafton Primary)
30 August 2009 – Norfolk Basement, Fremantle WA (Headline show)
2 September 2009 – Uni of New England, Armidale (with Grafton Primary)
3 September 2009 – Uni of Wollongong, Wollongong (with Grafton Primary)
4 September 2009 – Metro, Sydney (with Grafton Primary) (All ages)
5 September 2009 – The Zoo, Fortitude Valley (with Grafton Primary)
11 September 2009 – Governor Hindmarsh, Adelaide (with Grafton Primary) (All ages)
12 September 2009 – Rocket Bar, Adelaide (Headline show)
17 September 2009 – Uni of Newcastle, Newcastle (with Grafton Primary)
18 September 2009 – Macquarie Uni, Sydney (Conception Day)
25 October 2009 – Fat As Butter Festival @ Wickham Park, Newcastle (with Hilltop Hoods, Grinspoon)
21 November 2009 – Track Side Festival @ Canberra Racecourse (with Hilltop Hoods, Midnight Juggernauts)
29 November 2009 – Open Arms Festival @ Coffs Harbour Showground (with Hilltop Hoods, Children Collide)

You may not recognise the name Karen Jacobsen, but chances are you’ve already heard her. She’s the one telling you to turn left in 100 metres on your GPS. And now, she’s released an album. meltingmoments

It may seem a little unexpected for a GPS voice to launch a singing career, but Karen’s actually a seasoned professional. She’s shared a stage with the likes of Norah Jones and Cyndi Lauper, and sung anthems at major sporting events across the United States. Now Karen’s stepping into the spotlight with the release of her album Melting Moments.

Karen’s voice is pure and sweet. Listening to her, I was reminded of The Corrs; there’s that same joy and optimism to the songs. There are very few edges here, although the opening track “Kissing Someone Else” does hint at a darker side. To some the lack of grit may seem like a flaw, but I think there’s something lovely about an album which lifts you up rather than dragging you down. The playful “Merry Go Round” is particularly captivating, while “So Fast” is another folk-tinged pop standout.

This is a really polished album. I was impressed to see Karen didn’t just add her pretty voice, but her production skills and songwriting prowess as well. Both are excellent. With Melting Moments, Karen Jacobsen shows us that her talents go far beyond directing traffic. Look out for the album in ABC shops from August 28.

Image source: ABC