The bubbly is chilling and folks are getting together as we prepare to bid 2010 adieu. The year our Aussie artists produced some cracking tunes which should help get your NYE party started!

Sia has been a musical force for some time, but 2010 saw her step into the spotlight with her fab album We Are Born. It spawned so many singles, including the irrepressibly “Clap Your Hands.”

Washington was this year’s breakthrough artist and with good reason. Bucket loads of charisma, insightful lyrics, and some damned good tunes are a recipe for success in anyone’s language. “Sunday Best” was the song that had me dancing around my lounge room this year.

John Butler Trio’s “One Way Road” is a bit rootsier than the other tracks, but no less fun. I am in awe of the way JB manages to get his mouth around those rapid fire lyrics!

Amy Meredith definitely didn’t get the recognition they deserved this year. I enjoyed their first two singles, but they wowed me with the nostalgic “Young at Heart.” The fun retro feel sent me right back to my childhood! This is definitely the tune to play as the evening is winding down.

What will you be spinning tonight?

Hold on to your ears and prepare to listen to the tunes from Melbourne two-piece, Leone Western. This is a band that breaks the mould, which makes their EP Hearts Still Beating a thrilling but challenging listen.

There’s a real lack of polish to these guys, which is both a blessing and a curse. There’s a certain appeal to that emotional rawness, but sometimes I wished the edges were a bit smoother. The guitars are fuzzy and dirty like some grungy garage band. Wailing chords are surprisingly paired with tinny 80s style synthesisers. The combination isn’t always a harmonious one, but I have to give the band credit for trying something new.

Clearly this is an outfit still trying to figure out their sound, but it seems like they’re enjoying doing it. “Les Vagrant” is a delightfully quirky piece of retro pop, and the darker “White Pony” features some amazing vocals. With such an eclectic collection of tunes I’m not sure anyone will like every number, but there’s bound to be something here you’ll latch on to.

That makes Hearts Still Beating a great introduction to Leone Western.  It might be a bit rough around the edges, but it shows a band with a unique sound and a lot of potential.

Image source: Leone Western MySpace

While most of us watched the Christmas Eve Carols by Candlelight concert and reveled in the festive season, key sponsor Myer was seething. The retail giant was furious because Ricki-Lee Coulter opted to wear an Alex Perry dress over one from its own stable of designers.

“On several occasions Myer, Channel 9 and Vision Australia made clear to Ricki-Lee’s manager that it was desirable that she wear a designer from the Myer stable,” Myer spokesman Mitch Catlin said. “Myer would have hoped that Ricki-Lee’s manager, who also represents Jennifer Hawkins, the face of Myer, would have had Myer foremost in his mind when it came to dressing talent.”

Apparently Carols organisers were also displeased.

But isn’t this event about raising money for Vision Australia and spreading Christmas cheer, rather than selling a few dresses? If it weren’t for Myer raising the issue I’d have been none the wiser. I might be idealistic, but it seems to me that sponsoring an event should be more about good will than capital gains. All this does is make the retail chain appear petty, which isn’t a good look around Christmas time.

Image source: The Harbour Agency

When Kylie Minogue released her single “All the Lovers” in June, we said the sexy music video was the best part about it. But it seems that several Asian countries don’t agree as they’ve banned the raunchy clip from their screens.

Television stations in several countries including Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia won’t play the music video which features “all the lovers,” gay and straight indulging in a serious make-out session.

“I think, yes, it’s sexy but I also think it’s very touching and sensual and the message is love,” Kylie told Spanish private television station Cuatro when quizzed about the controversy.

I have to agree with her. It’s sexy but hardly pornographic. This sort of thing just makes you glad to live in (mostly) open-minded Australia, and in a world with the internet where anyone can see anything they please! So if you haven’t watched it yet, here it is for your viewing pleasure!

After nipping at Bruno Mars heels for a few weeks, Guy Sebastian has finally toppled him to take the number one spot on the ARIA singles chart with “Who’s That Girl.” It’s actually the first time we’ve seen an Aussie sitting at the top of the singles chart in 2010, and I couldn’t ask for a better way to end the year!

“Who’s That Girl” is Guy’s fifth Aussie number one, which means he now has more top selling singles than any other local male artist in history. For your interest, John Farnham and Johnny O’Keefe both had four a piece. Considering what big names they are, and where Guy is in his career, that’s some achievement.

Guy’s keeping company in the singles chart with fellow Australian Idol alum Jessica Mauboy. Her new party tune “Saturday Night” sits at number seven, up three positions from last week.

Meanwhile on the albums chart, Altiyan Childs has remained rock solid with his self titled album holding on to fourth position. I remember a time when that might be disappointing for a disc spawned from a reality show, but just look at the company he’s keeping. He’s mixing it with perennial favourites Pink, Susan Boyle, and Bon Jovi, and even outselling the likes of Rihanna, Michael Jackson, and Taylor Swift. I reckon that’s a fair effort.

Meanwhile Guy Sebastian’s greatest hits CD Twenty Ten has moved up one position to number six. It’s encouraging to see that while fans are getting behind the single, they’re also spending money on the long player.

Hopefully Guy can hold on to that top spot next week. What a great start to 2011 that would be!

Click below for the complete top 10 charts.

Read the rest of this entry…

With Christmas done and dusted we’re all looking ahead to the next big celebration, New Years Eve. But before we usher in 2011 I figured it was time to pause and reflect on the year that was. Here’s what rocked my world in 2011. Of course it’s purely subjective and based on the music I consumed and my gut reaction to it, but what’s an end of year list if it’s not a bit biased? What excited you musically this year?

Top 10 Aussie Albums

  1. Seasons – The Verses
  2. Dr Dream and the Imaginary Pop-Cabaret – Emma Dean
  3. Into the Gallery – Amanda Merdzan
  4. Down the Way – Angus and Julia Stone
  5. Mousetrap Heart – Thirsty Merc
  6. Calling All Magicians – Danielle Spencer
  7. Bird of Bees – Jez Mead
  8. Walk – Israel Cannan
  9. Thirteen O’Clock – The Lucky Wonders
  10. On Broadway – David Campbell

Top 10 Aussie Tours

  1. Tears for Fears and Spandau Ballet @ Sydney Entertainment Centre
  2. Mumford & Sons @ The Enmore Theatre
  3. The Eagles @ Sydney Entertainment Centre
  4. George Michael @ Sydney Football Stadium
  5. Rob Thomas @ Hope Estate
  6. James Taylor and Carole King @ Hope Estate
  7. The Swell Season @ Sydney Opera House
  8. David Campbell @ Mingara Recreation Club
  9. John Butler Trio @ Newcastle Entertainment Centre
  10. John Mayer @ Sydney Entertainment Centre

Top 10 Aussie Stars

  1. Washington
  2. Angus and Julia Stone
  3. Powderfinger
  4. Guy Sebastian
  5. Jessica Mauboy
  6. Sia
  7. Birds of Tokyo
  8. Amy Meredith
  9. The Cassette Kids
  10. Altiyan Childs

Image source: Billy Alexander @ Stock.xchng

Merry Christmas Sounds of Oz readers! I hope you’re all enjoying the day, spending time with your families or friends, eating too much, and playing with a few shiny new toys. Unless you scored a new laptop, there’s probably no reason for you to be online reading my blog!

But if you are, thank you, and here’s some Tim Minchin for your trouble. This gorgeous Christmas tune, “White Wine in the Sun,” really captures the Aussie experience of Christmastime. It’s certainly more poignant than any songs about winter wonderlands, isn’t it? So enjoy dear readers, and have yourself a merry little Christmas!

The Church recently performed retrospective concerts in Melbourne, and they went so swimmingly the band’s decided to do it all again in the United States next February.

The Future Past Perfect shows will again see the Church performing three key albums from their career: 2009’s Untitled #23, 1992’s Priest=Aura, and finally Starfish from 1988.

Tickets for the following shows are available now through SeatGeek.

The Church

2 February 2011 – El Rey Theatre, Los Angeles
4 February 2011 –  Great American Music Hall, San Francisco
7 & 8 February 2011 – Triple Door, Seattle
11 February 2011 – Park West, Chicago
13 February 2011 – The Birchmere, Alexandria
15 February 2011 – The Trocadero, Philadelphia
16 February 2011 – Highline Ballroom, New York
17 February 2011 – B.B. King’s, New York
18 February 2011 – Showcase Live, Foxboro

Image source: Wikipedia Commons

I don’t ordinarily promote other people’s competitions on this blog, but this one was so cool that I just couldn’t resist. It’s also pretty timely with most of us gazing at empty wallets after all that Christmas shopping.

Warner Music Australia is giving one lucky person a copy of every single album released in 2011. That’s a whole lot of CDs, more than many people probably have in their entire collections!

To be in with a shot just head to Warner’s Facebook page, click on the “win” tab and leave your details. If only winning the thing was that simple! Entry is open to Aussie residents who get their entry in before the end of January 14. Best of luck everybody!

Image source: Grz3gorz @ Stock.xchng

Scott Spark’s spreading a little festive cheer with his new track “Last Christmas (What Do You Say?)”

Don’t confuse this song with the campy Wham number. It’s a beautiful piano driven tune, the kind of thing perfect for spinning late at night when you’re sipping on eggnog or brandy.

And it wouldn’t be Christmas if you couldn’t get it for free, would it? Click on the link and this lush seasonal song is yours!

Image used with permission from Other Tongues