I first fell for the tunes of Mark Boulle through his work with the Haba Dudes, so I approached his solo effort So She Says with great interest. Happily this solo endeavor doesn’t disappoint.

With this album Mark’s been able to flex his creative muscles in a new way. You can’t completely take the gypsy out of his sound. “Gold Coast” in particularly feels like it could have been lifted from a Haba Dudes record. But in general the sound is a bit more mainstream with its blend of pop, rock, and blues.

At his heart Mark is a songwriter. His vocals aren’t the prettiest, but the truth in the words he writes give the songs a real beauty. I loved the relatable story of “On the Brink,” which tells the tale of a girl feeling like her life just isn’t what she wants. I felt the heart in “Sweeter Deeper,” and found the jaunty melody of the title track irresistible. The Tender “Hold Your Head Up” is a beautiful closer with a great take home message of keeping courage when you’re feeling up against it all.

These heartfelt tunes are matched with a bare bones treatment. It was cut at Mark’s Gold Coast home, and that lack of studio frills really serves the songs well. That rawness allows the lyrics to come to the fore, and that’s where he really excels. I think a studio might swallow these songs up. So She Says is an album with some rough edges, but that’s one of its real strengths.

Image source: CD Baby

Gotye has scored a chart doubler, taking out the top spots on both the ARIA singles and albums charts.

His single “Somebody That You Used To Know” doesn’t show any sign of budging, taking out the number one possie for the third consecutive week. The album Making Mirrors zoomed into the top spot on the album charts on its debut after selling a massive 35, 000 copies. It’s the first album to achieve these kind of weekly sales all year, and has deservedly received gold status. Something tells me it won’t be too long til it breaks platinum.

An Australian act hasn’t achieved the double since Silverchair did it back in April 2007 with “Straight Lines” and Young Modern. Congratulations Gotye on breaking the drought!

This week isn’t all about Gotye though. After the album charts were looking a little bare, it’s now crowded with Aussie talent. Australia’s Got Talent winner Jack Vidgen achieved an impressive number three debut with his album Yes I Am, beating out Josh Pyke’s newie Only Sparrows which sits at number four. And Boy & Bear are still hanging in there; Moonfire sits at number 9.

Now if only some of those albums can spawn some charting singles! Gotye is currently keeping company with Jessica Mauboy in the top 10. Her latest track “Inescapable” has slipped one and sits at number 5 this week.

Click below for all the chart action.

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I came to Eskimo Joe a bit later in the game. I was always aware of their music through the radio, but it wasn’t until the release of Inshalla that I really connected with the band. So I was pretty excited to see what they served up with their newie, Ghosts of the Past. The single “Love is a Drug” set the bar high, but sadly I’ve got mixed feelings about the disc.

It’s really hard to put my finger on exactly why I haven’t connected with this recording. It sounds gorgeous. Eskimo Joe are a talented trio, and they’re probably incapable of making bad, or even mediocre, music. This disc is really piano rich, and that gives the album an epic feel. It helps the music soar and elevates it beyond the guitar-rock the band used to deliver.

And there are some really great songs here. “Gave it All Away” is such a strong opener, with its big rock sounds and crashing drums. I loved the quirkyness of “Echo,” which has one of the most unusual and compelling melodies I’ve heard in some time. The title track seems destined to become a single. It’s got just the right combination of rocking riffs and melodic hooks to appeal to the MMM set.

A lot of the disc is quite big, but I prefer it when it’s less grandiose. The alt-country feel of “Just Don’t Feel,” with its acoustic guitars and rich strings, was like a breath of fresh air. And I was initially struck by the simplicity of the closer “Sky’s on Fire.” The initial portion feels like it was recorded on an eight-track in a bedroom. That lack of polish gave it a real truth, so I was disappointed when this track too became big.

Frankly I could listen to an album of the small stuff, and that might be where my problem with Ghosts of the Past lies. This album sounds incredible, but such refinement comes at the expense of some soul. The lyrics are really strong, but it’s difficult to focus on them with so much else going on. It’s interesting that Eskimo Joe gave fans a preview of this album with an acoustic tour. Personally I think that stripped back delivery would have made these songs much more compelling than the wall of sound the band’s offered here. Ghosts of the Past is far from a bad album, but it’s not quite the record it could have been.

Image source: Eskimo Joe website

Sydney quartet New Empire seem to have a taste for touring. They’re preparing to head out on the road to support Simple Plan, and they’ve just announced they’ll embark on a headline tour once that wraps up.

The band are working hard to support the release of their new album Symmetry, which will hit stores on September 16. Their frontman Jeremy Fowler promises a tour like no other they’ve undertaken.

“For us, it feels like the live showcase of everything we’ve been working towards for the past two years,” he explained. “We’ll be pulling out everything we’ve got for this tour, it’ll be full of surprises, it will be … epic!”

You can see New Empire giving everything they’ve got at the following shows.

30 September 2011 – The Tivoli, Brisbane (with Simple Plan)
1 October 2011 – Enmore Theatre, Sydney (with Simple Plan)
4 October 2011 – Palace Theatre, Melbourne (with Simple Plan)
14 October 2011 – Powerhouse Theatre, Brisbane
15 October 2011 – Centenary Lakes Festival, Caboolture
22 October 2011 – Prince Bandroom, St Kilda (Afternoon)
22 October 2011 – Royal Melbourne Hotel, Melbourne (Evening)
28 October 2011 – The Maram Hotel, Canberra
29 October 2011 – Factory Theatre, Sydney
4 November 2011 – Fowlers Live, Adelaide
5 November 2011 – Cockburn Youth Centre, Cockburn (Afternoon)
5 November 2011 – Norfolk Basement, Fremantle (Evening)

Image used with permission from Revolutions Per Minute

Melbourne singer Levi McGrath has been a busy man since releasing his debut album Move two years ago. He’s toured New Zealand and the United States, worked with World Vision in Uganda, and visited Compassion projects in Thailand. Clearly this is a performer who cares about more than the music.

After jetsetting around the world, Levi’s returned home to launch his new album Children of War. The disc contains a powerful collection of songs inspired by his aid work abroad.

“I want for my music to impact people’s hearts and change people’s lives,” he said in a press release. “I want to be a voice of challenge to inspire people to open up their hearts to a bigger world.”

Levi will bring the recently released album to a wider audience when he plays the following shows in Victoria and New South Wales in September and October.

29 September & 1 October 2011 – Seraphim Upstairs @ Melbourne Fringe Festival, Fitzroy
2 & 3 October 2011 – Blackstump Music Festival, Appin
30 October 2011 – Wallan Gateway Church, Wallan

Image used with permission from AAA Entertainment

If you missed out on those Falls Festival tickets, don’t despair. The folks at Pyramid Rock are serving up a very enticing New Years Eve alternative.

More than 50 international and local rockers will descend on Victoria’s Phillip Island from December 29 to January 1. The penguins better find some ear plugs, because Scissor Sisters, The Living End, Grandmaster Flash, Ash Grunwald, Gotye Boy & Bear, Drapht, Spiderbait, Bluejuice, Calling all Cars, RocKwiz Live, and more will be taking the stage. And that’s all just in the first announcement!

Two and three day passes are available including free camping to get you into that festival spirit. Tickets go on sale on the Pyramid Rock Festival at 9 am on September 14.

Image used with permission from Shiny Entertainment

Perth indie duo Voltaire Twins have released their new single “Anamalia” and its more than a little creepy accompanying film clip.

This upbeat melodic electro gem gives us out first taste of the band’s forthcoming second EP Romulus, which is due to hit record store shelves in early October.

If the song floats your boat make sure you head to the band’s Facebook page. They’re giving away a free download of the track, plus a bunch of remixes, to anyone who “likes” it!

Once upon a time Australian hip hop was a bit of a joke. But the times they are a changing, as they say in the classics, and now we have the launch of the Sprung Festival to celebrate the best local hip hop talent.

The line-up claims to bring together the cream of Aussie hip hop, and while there are some notable omissions it’s still quite impressive. Drapht ,Illy, The Funkoars, Phrase, Resin Dogs, Lowrider, Diafrix, and more will take to Brisbane’s Riverstage on October 15. If it goes off the way I think it should, perhaps Bliss N Eso and Hilltop Hoods will want to be involved next year!

The event is open to all ages but it is licensed, so it should be stacks of fun for everyone. Tickets are a very reasonable $66 and are currently available through Ticketmaster.

Image source: Premier Artists

As London rebuilds, Australian Idol alum Jacob Butler has paid tribute to the city which has influenced his sound with his new single “UKOK?”

The film clip features footage of the chaos we saw the riot-gripped city experiencing just weeks ago, and some royal wedding footage for good measure! The video is an ideal backdrop for this single, which sees Jacob rocking much harder than he did in his last release “Coma.”

“UKOK?” is the lead track from Jacob’s much anticipated debut album Reason, which we should see in stores later this year. If you can’t wait that long you can download the song from iTunes.

Ben Salter headed to his local railway station to record the film clip for his brand new single “The Coward.” The location isn’t very rock and roll, but it’s perfect for this song which deals with approachable universal topics like mental health, share housing, and love. The track’s the first single from Ben’s new released solo debut The Cat, but it was actually written ten years ago. I guess it’s better released late than never!