I must admit, I approached this week’s X Factor with some serious trepidation. Dance music really isn’t my thing. I don’t mind some old school disco, but I can take or leave the Rihannas, Beyonces, and Lady Gagas of this world. And considering the trend in recent weeks, I wasn’t feeling optimistic that the judges would head back to dance music’s heyday. But this is X Factor so I found myself tuning in in spite of myself.

Reece Mastin gave me the old school dance I was craving with a rock edge with a really cool version of “Staying Alive.” I’m not sure the mash-up of the Bee Gees track and “Kashmir” was completely successful, but it was really interesting. I think it’s smart to play with the songs and make them fit the artist. You wouldn’t ask an established musician to step outside their genre, so why should he?

Guy got song choice right again in giving Declan Sykes some Empire of the Sun. Sure the falsetto was thin and not always on the money, but on the whole this was still gorgeous. Declan doing dance could have gone all wrong, but with Guy guiding him Declan got it so right this week.

I expected a predictable modern dance song from Christina Parie, and I got it with David Guetta’s “When Love Takes Over.” Mel B really needs a few song choice pointers. I was nervous as so often this song gets screechy when performed. She managed to avoid that, but in doing so it seemed a bit under. Perhaps there’s just no pleasing me when it comes to this track.

I was hoping to hear Andrew Wishart busting out some old school funk. Sadly it didn’t happen but Nat Bass still got it right with David Guetta’s “Titanium.” It had the emotional heart that is missing in so many dance songs. He came through this week surprisingly well.

Johnny Ruffo again turned to one of his idols with Usher and David Guetta’s “Without You.” Again the vocals were under and again I was bored. He’s a lovely chap but I feel like his time is up.

Three Wishez made this child of the 80s very happy with their mash-up of Chaka Khan’s “I Feel for You” and Salt N Pepa’s “Push It.” They slayed it. I am so glad they did this instead of the Black Eyed Peas Mel B suggested. What a way to end the show?

We’re getting down to the nitty gritty now. I feel Johnny’s been biding his time for a while so he’s the obvious choice for the bottom three. He might be sharing the spotlight with Christina or Declan, but surely the judges have to send him packing this week, right?

Australia’s festival calendar is always crowded, but every year I make time to take in at least one: Jazz in the Vines. Anyone who’s been knows why. You can always count on exceptional tunes, superb food and wine, and some of the friendliest music lovers you could ever meet. This year’s was a little greyer than usual, but that did nothing to dampen the spirits of all involved.

I arrived to the traditional jazz stylings of the NSW Police Band. They were such a tight outfit, and perfect for easing us in to the day. Their classic jazz tunes were a natural warm-up for Feel the Manouche featuring living legend George Washingmachine. Again this was a classic jazz set punctuated by the tunes of Cole Porter and the like. However the unlikely blend of violin, double bass, and piano accordion brought a lovely gypsy flavour to the music. It was mellow but stunning, a great backdrop for a casual lunch and a few glasses of wine.

The intensity picked up with Weird Assembly, an exciting ten-piece who played big brassy soulful grooves. I really enjoyed their sound, particularly the gutsy rasp of vocalist and sometimes saxophonist David Weir. Sadly his enthusiasm came off a little desperate at times. The Jazz in the Vines crowd certainly isn’t too shy to dance if they want to. The repeated pleas for more participation started to grate.

Lisa Hunt proved that when the moment is right, the punters will groove. She closed the festival a few years back, and with Saturday’s set she proved that excellent set was no fluke. She had the throng on its feet with her Motown and disco heavy performance. Perhaps The Four Tops and Thelma Houston numbers weren’t jazz, but no one seemed to mind one bit. While she performed admirably as a solo act the moment when she called on three audience members to serve as her Supremes was a real highlight. One girl’s killer vocals even threatened to upstage Ms Hunt’s!

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A whole lot of time in the recording studio is making Leek & The War Wick Tragedy stir crazy. And so the Melbourne band are busting out and traveling around the east coast next month.

This isn’t simply an excuse to get up on stage though. The band have a new single, “Beg & Plead” to promote, the first from that album they’ve been working so hard on.

Fans probably won’t get another opportunity to see Leek & The War Wick Tragedy live this year as they’ll be jumping back in the studio once this tour is out. So catch them while you can at the following shows.

17 November 2011 – Port Macquarie Hotel, Port Macquarie (Free 18+ Show)
18 November 2011 – The Brass Monkey, Cronulla (18+)
19 November 2011 – The Patch, Wollongong (Free 18+ Show)
20 November 2011 – Mars Hill Café, Parramatta (All Ages)

Image used with permission from Rawr Music

They might hail from Brisbane, but it seems that Melbourne has made a big impression on Fushia. The colorfully named pop rock quartet are about to release their brand new single called “Brunswick St.”

The pop-punk song is an ode to the Fitzroy street’s club and café culture, and all the hijinks that typically accompany an evening out in Melbourne’s inner northern suburbs.

To celebrate “Brunswick St’s” November 4 release, Fushia will play launch shows in Queensland and Sydney starting with a hometown gig.

4 November 2011 – Alhambra, Brisbane
12 November 2011 – The Loft, Gold Coast
17 November 2011 – The Spotted Cow, Toowoomba
25 November 2011 – Oxford Arts, Sydney

Image source: Starving Kids website

Rogue Traders are closing one chapter and beginning the next with the release of The Sound of Drums.

The double disc features a greatest hits collection, which features songs from Rogue Traders’ first three albums, and the band’s brand new studio album, Night of the Living Drums.

“Ten years is a huge milestone for any band,” said Rogue Traders’ creative force James Ash. “This record sums up what we’ve done so far – and also lays down our plans for the future!”

The Sound of Drums hit stores on November 11. Ash and Rogue Traders frontwoman Mindi Jackson will hit the promotional trail next month to support the release ahead of a full-scale tour in the New Year.

Image used with permission from Revolutions Per Minute

Melbourne band Snowy Belfast have really impressed me with their latest single, ”Stones.” It’s a country-infused slice of folk music driven by banjos and sublime harmonies.

The track builds on the sounds they showcased on their debut EP Odds and Ends, but also offers a new intensity. We should see more of that when Snowy Belfast release their debut album early next year.

You don’t need to wait that long to see Snowy Belfast in the flesh though. They’ll launch “Stones” at The Espy on November 11, playing alongside Tessa & The Typecast, The Tiger & Me, and Howlin’ Steam Train. Tickets are absolutely free, so you’ve got no excuses Melbourne!

Image used with permission from Show Off Services

Chinese indie rockers Carsick Cars are bringing their sophomore album You Can Listen, You Can Talk to Australia with a new Aussie tour. The band will play Geelong tomorrow night before making their way up the east coast.

You Can Listen, You Can Talk shows the way the band has matured since the release of their debut Panda Noise. It’s got more complexity than that original release, with greater balance between the angry bits and more delicate, melodic notes.

Here are all the places you can catch the exciting Carsick Cars while they’re in town.

27 October 2011 – The Barwon Club, Geelong
28 October 2011 – Pony, Melbourne (2 am set)
29 October 2011 – Cornish Arms, Melbourne
30 October 2011 -The Toff, Melbourne
31 October 2011 – The NOWnow, 402 @ Hibernian House, Sydney (Zhang Shouwang solo experimental set)
2 November 2011 – Croatian Club, Newcastle
3 November 2011 – FBi social @ Kings Cross Hotel, Sydney
5 November 2011 – Woodland Bar, Brisbane

Image used with permission from Riot House

Following on from The Vines’ appearance earlier this year, Eskimo Joe and PNAU will play the next Russian Standard Vodka Live at the Chapel show. The Aussie acts will rock St. Stephen’s Anglican Church in the Sydney suburb of Newtown on November 23.

This is the first time the Live at the Chapel series has delivered a double act, and it’s sure to be a great night with both acts enjoying great success with recent releases.

Eskimo Joe are at the top of their game, having just scored six ARIA Award nominations, they are the finest rock act in the country, and PNAU are smashing it overseas, they look destined for global success,” said MCM media’s chief exec Simon Joyce. “To be able to present them on the same stage is a defining moment for Live At The Chapel, we’re in for a very special evening.”

As always this Russian Standard Vodka Live at the Chapel show is only for competition winners. For your chance to be amongst them head to the Live at the Chapel website.

Image used with permission from Beam Inc.

The X Factor has been a bit heartbreaking in recent weeks, with several of my favourite acts sent packing. However this week I think Australia got it right as Johnny Ruffo and Mitchell Callaway sat in the bottom two.

Johnny’s vocals haven’t been up to scratch in recent weeks. In fact, the only thing harder to hear has been Mitchell’s bad attitude. Clearly Australia’s had enough of his bitching too.

Mitchell was finally given the chance to sing in his genre with Rascal Flatts’ “I Won’t Let Go.” It’s funny how when you’re waiting so long for something it can often disappoint. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t a patch on the original. The vocals didn’t always stick, and again performance let him down. He might have been singing country, but he still seemed uncomfortable.

Again Johnny Ruffo came off as imitative with Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean.” It was fun and with the exception of the falsetto the vocals were actually impressive considering his fancy footwork. However I’m still not getting a sense of who he really is. I know the music he enjoys, but where’s Johnny in it all?

Frankly I didn’t care which way it went this week. The judges were split and so the decision was made by the public. It seems Mitchell’s bad attitude has grated on them too, because despite better vocals last night they sent him packing. At least he went out doing what he loves. Now if he could just find a little humility perhaps he can continue to do so in the industry.

Slow Chase deliver a tune with enough swagger to impress The Stones with their new single “Algernon.” It’s a sexy, dirty rock number that raises my expectations for the band’s forthcoming EP Blind Spot. I love the way it channels 70s rock sounds with its sing-along hooks and bluesy groove.

If you love the song make sure you head to Slow Chase’s website for your free download.

Image used with permission from Show Off Services