Over the last four years Melbourne band The Ovals has built a steady following for their brand of psychedelic rock. That attention is only bound to intensify with the release of the band’s new EP Into The Eyes of Those Who Sleep.

The band is clearly comfortable in this genre; they create the kind of kaleidoscopic atmosphere that takes us back to the mid-60s. They understand about light and shade, they know how to build and song and move us just where they want us.

But I can’t help feeling like I’ve heard it all before, like I’m listening to a band that spent too much time listening to early Pink Floyd records. Perhaps I’m a bit biased as I always found those early Syd Barrett recordings lacking, but I hear the same aimlessness in The Ovals music. It’s almost as if they’re also trying to figure out exactly who they want to be, just like Pink Floyd were all those years ago.

And similarly, I can hear great potential there. In places there’s the magic that comes from four musicians that really know how to play. I can imagine that’s only heightened when the Melbourne act takes to the stage. Into The Eyes of Those Who Sleep is a good stepping stone for a band that could be something special.

The Ovals will launch their new EP at The Cherry Bar before taking it to the other East Coast capitals. You can see them at the following venues.

25 March 2011 – Cherry Bar, Melbourne
1 April 2011 – X&Y Bar, Brisbane
8 April 2011 – Oxford Arts Gallery, Sydney

Image used with permission from Show Off Services

Western Australian music royalty came together last night for one amazing show at Newcastle’s Civic Theatre. This grand old theatre was made for the intimate music of artists like The Waifs and Mama Kin, and the attentive crowd lapped it up.

I put Mama Kin together with The Waifs in my introduction because her set never felt like mere support. I’m used to crowds chattering away as support acts desperately try to capture the attention of someone in the audience, but not last night. All eyes were transfixed on this spirited performer, who so effortlessly fused blues, roots, folk, and soul. The crowd even complained when she announced her last song. She cheekily told the audience they needn’t pretend they were there to see her. A fair call perhaps, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t savouring her every moment on stage. I know I was; hanging onto every lyric, singing and clapping to the beat when she encouraged us to, laughing at the stories that punctuated the songs. Mama Kin definitely made a few new fans last night, and I’m amongst them.

As The Waifs began their set I was again struck by how attentive and receptive this Newcastle crowd was. Just as Mama Kin was supported, so were The Waifs’ new songs. Their set drew heavily from their soon-to-be-released new album Temptation, but the audience didn’t seem to mind one bit. Of course songs like “Lighthouse” and “London Still” received a rapturous reception, but the crowd patiently waited until they came, content to let the new material wash over them.

Of course, all credit can’t be given to the crowd. The Waifs’ new material also stacks up against their familiar hits nicely. The songs tell stories which suck you in, compelling you to listen even if you don’t know the words. Add in the vivacious personalities and exquisite harmonies of sisters Donna and Vikki, and the gorgeous meshing of the band’s instruments, and you’ve got an act that you’d happily hear perform anything they desired.

The Waifs are one of those bands I’d always meant to see but never quite gotten there. After enjoying a night in their company I can see why their fans are so passionate, and why they return for each and every tour. Next time I’m sure I’ll join them.

Image used with permission from Stephen Green Consulting

Award winning singer-songwriter Alex Lloyd has teamed up with indigenous outfit the Pigram Brothers for the soundtrack to local drama flick, Mad Bastards.

The album has a rootsy feel with nods to country, blues, and even a dash of calypso. It’s so great to see our local artists scoring our films with such exciting, original music. The Mad Bastards soundtrack hits record stores on April 8, ahead of the film’s release on May 5.

The newly formed Mad Bastards Trio will showcase their new tunes around the country in April and May. This is such a rare collaboration and the concerts are in such intimate venues that they’re sure to be something special. Tickets go on sale from the venues on March 10.

25 & 26 April 2011 – Byron Bay Bluesfest, Byron Bay
19 May 2011 – The Zoo, Brisbane
20 & 21 May 2011 – Notes Live, Newtown
25 May 2011 – Northcote Social Club, Melbourne
26 May 2011 – The Governor Hindmarsh, Adelaide
27 & 28 May 2011 – Mojos Bar, North Fremantle

Image used with permission from AUM PR

Watussi are back, and just a little bit full of themselves. The fun loving Aussie lads are gearing up for an East Coast tour to promote their new EP, 1000% Handsome.

Acclaimed producer Joel Hamilton (BlakRoc, Tom Waits, Talib Kweli) has injected Watussi’s new EP with some old school Latin rock flavour and an infectious energy. 1000% Handsome hits record stores on March 11.

Watussi are a real party band, so the best way to experience them is on the stage. Prepare to have a ball at the following shows.

10 March 2011 – The Brass Monkey, Cronulla
11 March 2011 – Oxford Art Factory, Sydney (EP Launch)
19 March 2011 – Theatre Royal, Castlemaine
20 March 2011 – Northcote Social Club, Melbourne
23 March 2011 – UNE Bistro, Armidale
24 March 2011 – The Step Inn, Brisbane
25 March 2011 – Great Northern Hotel, Byron Bay
30 March 2011 – ANU Bar, Canberra
31 March 2011 – Heritage Hotel, Bulli
1 April 2011 – Baroque Bar @ Carrington Hotel, Katoomba
2 April 2011 – Beach Rd Hotel, Bondi Beach
3 April 2011 – Queen’s Wharf Brewery, Newcastle

Image used with permission from Positive Feedback

Australia’s biggest hip hop act Bliss n Eso will head out for one big tour in May and June to promote their number one selling album Running on Air.

This tour takes a pretty unusual path, but it’s the result of a Facebook competition where fans helped to decide the route. That accounts for the bizarre venues like the Old Mt. Gambier Gaol and City Hall in Hobart!

Some of those venues might be small, but Bliss n Eso are still promising “one of the largest scale tours from an Australian act in years.” That’s not bad considering all tickets will give you change from a fifty!

Horrorshow and Big B will join the Sydney band at the following shows. Tickets will be available from the venues from March 7.

6 May 2011 – University of New England (The Stro), Armidale (18+)
13 May 2011 – The Mangrove Hotel, Broome (18+)
21 May 2011 – Challenge Stadium, Perth (All Ages)
28 May 2011 – Hordern Pavilion, Sydney (All Ages)
3 June 2011 – Festival Hall, Melbourne (All Ages)
10 June 2011 – Riverstage, Brisbane (All Ages)
11 June 2011 – Lake Kawana Community Centre, Sunshine Coast (All Ages)
12 June 2011 – Showground, Coffs Harbour (All Ages)
17 June 2011 – Entertainment Centre, Adelaide (All Ages)
18 June 2011 – Old Mt. Gambier Gaol, Mt. Gambier (All Ages)
24 June 2011 – The Warehouse, Devonport (18+)
25 June 2011 – City Hall, Hobart (All Ages)

Image source: Bliss n Eso press kit

I was saddened this week to hear of the death of 21-year-old soldier Jamie Larcombe in Afghanistan. He’s the 23rd digger we’ve lost in the country since 2002, and it makes me wonder why we’re still there protecting a nation with which we have little real ties to.

Brisbane’s Evil Eddie seems just as frustrated as I do, because he’s just released a cover of the Geto Boys’ 1991 underground hit “Fuck A War.” I could have added those polite asterisks I saw in the press release, but we all know what the song’s called!

If your ears aren’t too delicate, you can own a copy of this foul-mouthed protest song for free. Just sign up to Evil’s mailing list by March 11 and he’ll send the MP3 straight to your inbox!

Such generosity isn’t very evil, is it?

Image used with permission from Reckoning Entertainment

Tour buddies Guy Sebastian and Lionel Richie have recorded a new version of Lionel’s dance-tastic 80s smash “All Night Long” to benefit Australian flood victims.

The soulful pair laid down the tune in Los Angeles this week, and have pledged all money raised will reach the Flood Relief program.

I love the concept, but as an old school Lionel fan I’m also a little nervous. Apparently the new version was produced by RedOne, the man behind Lady Gaga and that awful Richie-sampling Enrique Iglesias tune “I Like It.” Here’s hoping they ease up on the electronics and preserve the fun of the original!

I can’t wait to hear the song, and am also kicking myself for not getting tickets to this upcoming tour. No doubt Lionel and Guy will perform it for fans at their Day on the Green and theater shows!

Image source: Dwight McCann @ Wikipedia Commons

With elements of jazz, classical, and modern electronica, Brisbane quintet Topology truly serve up something original with their seventh studio album, Difference Engine.

The band’s illustrious resume has seen them work with Katie and Tyrone Noonan, Savage Garden, Kate Miller-Heidke, and even Geoffrey Rush. But this adventurous ensemble deserves to step into the spotlight. Expect big things from Topology this year as they tour Singapore and Europe. Shows in India next year are also on the agenda.

I love the way this band takes the stuffiness out of classical music and plays with genre to create something timeless but exciting. It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you have an appreciation for instrumental music, Topology’s stuff is definitely worth a listen.

Topology will launch their album Difference Engine at The Visy Theatre at Brisbane Powerhouse this Sunday. Tickets are available from the venue.

Image used with permission from Heapsaflash

I wrote recently about my excitement about the release of Griff the Invisible, and the film’s soundtrack penned by Sydney band Kids at Risk. So I was thrilled to recently catch up with Sep Caton to talk about his band’s involvement with the movie, the lead single “Doing The Best That We Can,” and the upcoming tour.

Kids at Risk

You’ve just written the soundtrack for the upcoming Aussie film Griff the Invisible. Why did you want to be involved with this movie?
The filmmaker Leon Ford, who wrote and directed the film, and also the producer Nicole O’Donohue are friends of everybody in the band, and we had known about this film coming for quite some time. And anybody who had heard about it, no matter what sort of field you were in, you just wanted to be a part of this film. Every actor in town wanted an audition, anybody who’s on a crew just wanted to be a part of it. It was something special, and you could tell that by the very first time you read the script.

So at first I was at a party with Leon and he was talking a little bit about the music and just some songs by some other Australian bands that he wanted to put in there, and I said about one of the songs he wanted to put in there “Hey, I do a really good cover of that! How about I whack something down for you, you can have a quick listen, and if you like it you can use that; might be a bit cheaper” and yada yada, it just kept going on and on.

And eventually we went in for a meeting with the filmmakers, and they showed us the set and everything. We were just so excited. And they said “Well we also need a score” and we said “We’ll do that!” “And we need some other songs …” “Oh we’ll do that!” And by the end of that meeting we walked out with the soundtrack in our hands basically. So yeah, it was a great opportunity.

Is there any difference approaching writing a film soundtrack compared to a regular band recording?
Oh definitely. When you’re doing something for yourself you basically write for you, but when you’re writing for a film there’s a certain part of you that says “I need to put myself into the head of that character,” and that’s what we did. We basically with this movie approached it “What would this character, what would the song be in his head as he’s walking down the street?” or “What would she be hearing and humming to herself as she’s going about her business?” And that’s what we sort of did; we put ourselves in the minds of the characters and that’s where it came from.

The first single “Doing the Best That We Can” sounds great. Was it as much fun to record as it is to listen to?
It was. It was fast and furious, I’ve got to say. I think we did the whole recording for that song in around 45 minutes, at the very end of the recording process. It was just something we went “Here we go” whack-whack-whack-whack-whack. It didn’t have a place in the film at the time; it was just something we’d been working on that sounded great. We just had a lot of fun with it. Originally it wasn’t going to be a single or anything but it was one of those songs that if anyone’s heard it, 10 minutes later you hear them humming it, then an hour later they’re still humming it, then the next day walking down the stairs still humming it. So we went “Oh right, hello, we’d better do something with this song.” So yeah, eventually it became the single.

This movie’s picking up some real global buzz after being accepted into film festivals in Toronto and Berlin. Are you guys hoping to capitalise on that international attention and take your music overseas?
We’d be crazy not to, wouldn’t we? We originally had plans to go to Berlin; not to play or anything but to be there for the film. We were really just so proud of it, we wanted to be there for the filmmakers. But we’d like to capitalise on this however we can overseas, and here at home as well. We’re certainly hoping to make the most of it.

You’ll be appearing at local film festivals and premieres to promote the movie and your work with it. That’s a very different scene for musicians. Are you looking forward to it?

Yes, we are actually. They’re related worlds, but they’re certainly a bit different. The funny thing is with Kids at Risk, is that many of us have a film or television background, whether in front or behind the camera. So it’s not exactly a new world to us, but it is fun to collide our two worlds together.
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Few artists invest as much in their creative vision as Israel Cannan. We saw him write, engineer, and play all the instruments on his sophomore album Walk. So now it’s out, you’d think the hard work would be over, right? Not a chance.

Israel’s just released a new single “Set Me Free” and to promote it he’s made this music video. For most artists that simply means time in front of the camera, but that’s too easy. Israel actually directed and edited the film clip too. Is there anything he can’t do?

Apparently not, because now we’ll see him setting off on his first national tour. It all kicks off this Friday in Adelaide. Tickets are available now from the venues for the following shows. If he puts as much work into those gigs as he does everything else, they’re going to be pretty spectacular.

25 February 2011 – Fringe Festival, Adelaide
26 February 2011 – The Exeter Hotel, Adelaide
27 February 2011 – La Mar Sundays, Adelaide
1 March 2011 – Mojo’s, Fremantle
3 March 2011 – The Raval, Sydney
18 March 2011 – The Front Gallery, Canberra
19 March 2011 – Bertha Brown, Melbourne
25 March 2011 – Gallery, Forster
26 March 2011 – The Loft, Gold Coast
15 April 2011 – The Entrance Leagues Club, Bateau Bay