Another year is winding down, and we’re all looking forward to the next one. I’m not making any resolutions, because I figure I’ll have my hands full with house renovations and the concert plans already on the horizon. I’ll do my best to be nice to folks and remember to keep calm in a crisis, but there’ll be no grand promises. But before we break out the bubbles, let’s take a look back at 2013. I bought my house, but really that was one of the few sunny spots for my family. My mum had a hip replacement, my dad had a hernia operation, and we lost my last remaining grandma. But thankfully there was music to get us through. These were the best of 2013 as I saw it.

Top 10 Aussie Albums

1. The Magician’s Daughter – Mama Kin
2. Farewell Fitzroy – Busby Marou
3. Roadtrip Confessions – Buffalo Tales
4. Cold Lights on Curious Minds – Jordan Millar
5. Songbook – Katie Noonan
6. Chapter Seven – Damien Leith
7. In Rico Glaciers – Sons of Rico
8. Wake – David Bridie
9. A Tribute to Ray Charles – Darren Percival
10. Gofer Land – Mark Boulle and the Haba Dudes

Top 10 Aussie Tours
1. Idina Menzel
2. Keith Urban
3. Carole King
4. Counting Crows
5. Tony Hadley
6. Molly Ringwald
7. Jake Shimabukuro
8. Darren Percival
9. Mitchell Anderson
10. Richard Clapton

What did you love in 2013?

Image source: M Hooper @ Flickr

Supergroup The Dead Daisies put all their starpower to good use with their latest single “Washington.” With Jon Stevens signature raspy vocals and some killer instrumental backing by Charley Drayton (The Divinyls), David Lowy (The Angels), Darryl Jones (The Rolling Stones), and Guns N Roses’ Richard Fortus and Dizzy Reed, the song sounds like an instant rock classic. Perhaps the international artists make it a little difficult to claim this band as our own, but when they sound this good I reckon we can bend the rules.

Already “Washington’s” earned critical acclaim in America, where the band recently shared stages with the likes of ZZ Top, Jane’s Addiction, Alice in Chains, and Aerosmith. They also headlined a show in Israel and toured the United Kingdom with The Black Star Riders. Aussies will get a chance to see what this band with a strong Australian core can do when The Dead Daisies release their debut album in early 2014 and play homegrown shows with Jimmy Barnes.

Image used with permission from Jaden Social

Melbourne metal masters Sydonia have given fans an early taste of their long-awaited sophomore album Reality Kicks. The follow-up to 2006’s Given to Destroyers will hit stores and the digital marketplace on February 7.

Sydonia know their fans have been patient, and they’re rewarding their loyalty with the release of a CD/DVD combo pack. The DVD will also be available online via iTunes.

This video doesn’t give too much away, but we’ll learn a bit more when Sydonia releases the feature single on January 8. They’re also promising to tough both the east and west coast through May and June, so there’s plenty of excitement to come.

Melbourne abstract pop muso Lester the Fierce floored me with her track “Howl” a few months ago, so I’m thrilled to hear she’s officially launching her self-titled EP.

“The EP was a cathartic experience that I didn’t know I needed,” she explained. “Playing live has lit a fire under what I’ve written and has taken it to a new level in my own mind. I dream about it now. I’m swimming in this crazy world that music has made. This is the murky water I’ve been waiting for my whole life.”

You can get a taste of Lester the Fierce’s creative process and what the EP offers in part one of a documentary which takes you into the studio.

Lester the Fierce will launch her EP for hometown fans at The Worker’s Club on January 3, ably supported by local talents Eliza Hull and Al Parkinson.

Like so many other Aussies, Busby Marou are heading to the coast for their summer holidays. Happily for them, their sun-seeking is a tax write-off as they’ll be playing shows supporting their stellar sophomore album Farewell Fitzroy along the way.

British singer-songwriter and keen surfer Ryan Keen will join the Queenslanders for the run of shows in Australia’s best beachside locales.

Busby Marou’s Going Coastal tour will kick off in Bomaderry on January 2.

2 January 2014 – Bomaderry Hotel, Bomaderry
3 January 2014 – Captain’s @ Mariners, Bateman’s Bay
4 January 2014 – Milton Theatre, Milton
10 January 2014 – Torquay Hotel, Torquay
11 January 2014 – The Loft, Warrnambool
12 January 2014 – The Westernport Hotel, San Remo
16 January 2014 – The Northern, Byron Bay
17 January 2014 – The Pacific Hotel, Yamba
18 January 2014 – The Hoey Moey, Coffs Harbour
19 January 2014 – Pier One @ Panthers, Port Macquarie

Image used with permission from Footstomp Music

After a festive season filled with too much family drama, I needed to hear some great music today. Thankfully I found it in the form of Melbourne’s Pierce Brothers and their single “Tallest Teepee in Town.”

The duo’s name should give you an idea of their complete lack of pretension. There are no bells and whistles here, just good honest, organic, foot-stomping folk music. They’ve started to create a name for themselves here and in Europe, but they continue to busk in Melbourne’s Bourke Street Mall as they have for years. It’s little wonder that they’ve sold more than 12,000 EPs from busking alone.

Like a breath of fresh air, this is exactly the song I needed to hear today.

Image used with permission from 123 Agency

Sunnyboys bass guitarist Peter Oxley shows he’s a man of many talents with the release of his brand new book Teenage Kitchen Rampage. This cookbook would make the ideal gift for those notoriously tricky teens on your Christmas list.

It covers the basics like boiling an egg and mashing potatoes and shows teens how they can use these simple techniques to whip up tasty salads, pastas, and desserts.

Peter should know about this kind of thing, as he left home at the age of 18 with nothing more than $10, his bass guitar, and his mum’s recipe for lamb shank soup. He also opened Newtown’s Wedgetail Woodfired Pizzeria in 1994.

Teenage Kitchen Rampage is available for $24.95 through good bookstores and the Love Police online bookstore.

Image used with permission from Shows in Space

Can you believe it’s one week until Christmas? I hope most of you aren’t working as hard as I am. It’s a time of year when we should all be winding down, yet it seems so many people I know are operating on hyper speed.

If you’re feeling a bit ragged, give yourself just a few minutes to listen to “Apocalypse,” the sublime debut single from Melbourne’s Anna Smyrk and the Appetites. She’s got the voice of an angel and it works so beautifully in this moving song. And isn’t it wonderful to hear a modern song with a saxophone in a starring role?

Anna will launch the single with a string of intimate shows dubbed The Garden Party at the End of the World. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that, but at least there’ll be good music at the end, right?

22 December 2013 – Open Sesame Festival @ Bar Open, Melbourne (4 pm til midnight)
3 January 2014 – Treehouse, Byron Bar (FREE @ 7:30 pm)
4 January 2014 – Sol Bar, Maroochydore (FREE @ 6 pm)
5 January 2014 – Queen Street Mall (FREE @ noon)
6 January 2014 – The Cave, Gold Coast (8 pm)

I have had one of those weeks. There seems to be far too much to do and nowhere near enough time to do it. That’s why this blog’s been a bit quiet, but I was determined to carve out a bit of time this afternoon to listen to some music and kick back.

Happily the first song I fired up with “Break the Ice,” the delightfully upbeat new single from Sydney band King Colour. It takes us back to the surf rock’s heyday with its strong bass line and crunchy electric guitars. It’s a real charmer and perfect for summer.

“The best thing about ‘Break The Ice’ is how simple it is,” says the band’s drummer Josh Pearson. “It’s cheesy, its naïve, its ridiculously poppy, and people get really into it at shows. We wondered what it would sound like if we put a modern spin on all the cool 60’s pop stuff like the Beatles, Beach Boys, Animals, etc, and it came out sounding pretty sweet.”

Indeed it did! If you get your skates on, you can see the King Colour launching the band at Sydney’s Oxford Art Factory tonight.

Image used with permission from the A&R Department

Taylor Henderson has done the unthinkable, knocking boy band of the moment One Direction off the top of the charts and claiming the number one spot with his self-titled debut. His single “Borrow My Heart” is also at number ten this week. I’m also pretty sure it’s the first time an X Factor runner-up has gone to number one on debut, so he deserves serious props!

His X Factor competitor Dami Im continues to sell truckloads with her self-titled debut. The platinum-selling album sits at number seven this week.

Billy Birmingham’s also doing big business with his latest effort. Willy Nilly – The 12th Man’s Biggest Hits climbs one position to land at number three this week.

Human Nature have also jumped one position. They sit at number five with their festive offering, The Christmas Album.

Guy Sebastian is the best of the Aussies on the singles chart this week. “Like a Drum” is holding steady at number six. Justice Crew also haven’t budged. “Everybody” sits at number nine.

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