Fabulous American alt-country act Needtobreathe are bringing their acclaimed show to Australia. The guys from South Carolina will join Third Day and our own Levi McGrath for World Vision Australia’s Make a Difference tour.

Needtobreathe’s album Rivers in the Wasteland has done great things since getting an international release in April. We’ve been a bit slow to catch on, but thankfully it’ll hit local stores on December 5, giving music lovers a few months to learn the songs before the band touches down.

Here’s a bit of a headstart for you though, the wonderful single “The Heart.” It’s got an infectious positivity about it and a great honest foot stomping appeal. That makes sense because the band reports that 90 percent of the album was recorded in live takes.

“It will be our first time in Australia and we’re really looking forward to getting down there,” explained Bear Rinehart. “We have so many fans there that have emailed us saying to come down there and when we got the opportunity to not just visit, but support a great organisation like World Vision it was too good to resist.”

The Make a Difference tour takes in the following venues next February.

11 February 2015 – Hordern Pavillion, Sydney
12 February 2015 – Royal Theatre, Canberra
13 February 2015 – Festival Hall, Melbourne
14 February 2015 – Adelaide Entertainment Centre, Adelaide
16 February 2015 – HBF Stadium, Perth
18 February 2015 – Derwent Entertainment Centre, Hobart
20 February 2015 – Brisbane Riverstage, Brisbane
21 February 2015 – Newcastle Entertainment Centre, Newcastle

Eliza Hull has teamed up with fellow Melbourne musos Texture Like Sun for her latest single “Used To,” and the results are stunning.

The way Eliza’s angelic vocals and Texture Like Sun’s more masculine tones meld is just tunning. Add layers of electronic drums, harps, and horns and you’ve got something so interesting and hypnotic.

“Used To” is our second taste of Eliza’s forthcoming debut album The Bones of Us, which is shaping up to become one of the most anticipated releases of 2015.

Baychimo Kin’s album Understood snuck up on me. I remember being sent the Soundcloud of the lead single “Marianne” a few weeks ago, listening to it, just not quite being able to get into it, so moving on. Then I was sent the video. It was animated and beautiful, but again the song didn’t quite resonate with me. Those persistent publicity folks then sent me an album stream. I know all too well not to judge a band by one song, so I slipped it on.

I still hadn’t made up my mind after the first listen, or the second, yet I found myself compelled to keep on playing it. There was something there, and somewhere around the third or fourth listen I got it. I can’t describe what “it” is, dear readers. I’m not really sure how this album got under my skin, or what it was that made the penny drop, but suddenly I found myself taking notes. I wrote down several adjectives: delicate, fragile, unique, special. The songs on Understood are all these things. You might not catch them on the first listen either, but I’m sure you will.

These songs are deceptively simple, but they get richer with each listen. The Melbourne band creates moods with the haunting vocals and beautiful instrumentation. I love the heartfelt romance of “Anna,” especially since the band can balance it with the edge of a track like “B Sting.” “Honey” might have a bit of an identity crisis, but I am right there now as it takes the listener through every movement. “You’ve Got a Hold Of Me” is such a striking closer. And “Marianne,” that song that I grappled with for so long is now one of my favourites. It was such a slow burner for me, but when I got it, boy did I get it.

I took some time to fully grasp Understood, but I think it’s one of the most original albums I’ve heard all year.

Image source: Baychimo Kin Bandcamp page

I am really digging Aussie hip hop at the moment. The latest artist to find his way onto my radar is Forbes, a talented young thing from the Goldie. His first single “Swim Better,” featuring a verse from Sydney MC Smiles Again, hints at what a special talent this guy is.

It’s really smart music, with some insightful lyrics and killer rhymes. It’s our first taste of Forbes’ debut EP, which is slated for a release early next year. After time spent supporting guys like PEZ and 360, it’s awesome to see him stepping into the spotlight.

What do you think of Forbes?

Brisbane band The Jensens serve up some dark material in an irresistible pop package with their new single “Fears.” It feels so good to listen to that it’s easy to miss the shadows, but really listen to the lyrics and you’ll gain a brand new appreciation for this cleverly layered song.

“Fears was written about the feelings of fear and anxiety I had about life passing me by. This was when I felt like I was doing nothing with my life when living on the coast,” explained The Jensens’ frontman Joseph White. “The song is about how all these things can get to a person and make them feel like they’re drowning in self pity, the only solution is to ‘say goodbye’ and move on to greener pastures, I guess.”

“Fears” is our first taste of the band’s full-length mixtape, which is scheduled for an early 2015 release. What do you think of it?

Fresh from selling out shows across the United States last month, cooler-than-cool Melbourne act Jakubi are ready to delight local audiences with their Life’s a Beach tour. The funky five-piece will play shows up and down the East Coast throughout summer, including plenty of free shows.

The tour caps off a monster year for Jakubi which saw them signed up to 7s Management in the US and Coda Agency in the UK. Everyone from Perez Hilton to HillyDilly was raving about “Couch Potato,” which really deserves another spin.

And done. Jakubi are going to be back to in the US before we know it, so make sure you catch this local success story while you can.

11 December 2014 – Moonshine Cider & Rum Bar, Manly (FREE)
12 December 2014 – Vic On The Park Hotel, Sydney (FREE)
26 December 2014 – Rad, Wollongong
27 December 2014 – Beach Road Hotel, Bondi Beach (FREE)
28 December 2014 – Cambridge Hotel (Warehouse), Newcastle
29 December 2014 – Torquay Hotel, Torquay
30 December 2014 – Westernport Hotel, San Remo
31 December 2014 – NYE On The Hill, Kernot
2 January 2015 – Beach Hotel, Byron Bay (FREE)
3 January 2015 – Solbar, Maroochydore
4 January 2015 – Sounds Of Sunday @ Broadbeach Tavern, Gold Coast (FREE)
30 January to 1 February 2015 – Cool Summer Festival, Mt Hotham

I’ve only just caught up with what down at the ARIAs last night. I have a Wednesday night date at the local RSL with the members of my trivia team Fusion, so I caught it on the DVR today.

Overall I enjoyed this year’s ceremony a lot more than last year’s. It was a joy to watch Neil Finn and Paul Kelly performing together, to be reminded of how good young things like Five Seconds of Summer and Sheppard are in the live arena, and to see Molly Meldrum and Countdown take their rightful place in the Hall of Fame. Chet Faker’s performance was also spellbindingly good. I like to think those squealing 5SOS and 1D fans in the front learned a few things watching this man play. Ditto Dan Sultan.

But I have to wonder, why do we insist on fawning over the international celebrities? Why do we hype up Katy Perry presenting an award, and give One Direction a plum spot on the running time? I’m probably more of a 1D fan than a woman in her mid-thirties should be, but it still felt a little odd to me. A show like last night reinforced yet again that Australia has such a rich, diverse array of talent. So why don’t organisers focus on that? It’s not like the addition of these big-name stars seemed to do much for the ratings after all.

Thoughts?

The Brits have largely kept John Smith a bit of a national secret, until now. The revered singer-songwriter is set to make his first visit to Australia to play some headlining shows and slots at the Woodford and Cygnet Folk Festivals.

He’s here to promote his fourth studio album Great Lakes, which features the beautiful title track amongst other gems. This is really special music. While the Brits have to see him in big venues like Shepherd’s Bush Empire, we get gorgeous intimate pubs and clubs. These are going to be outstanding shows.

27 December 2014 to 1 January 2015 – Woodford Folk Festival, Woodford
3 January 2015 – The Junk Bar, Brisbane
7 January 2015 – The Melbourne Folk Club @ Bella Union, Melbourne
8 January 2015 – Django Bar, Sydney
9-11 January 2015 – Cygnet Folk Festival, Cygnet

In an age where so much music is overproduced and overblown, it’s so lovely to find a band like Winterbourne. The fact that they’re from my part of the world, the Central Coast of New South Wales, just makes it that much sweeter.

These guys make real music that’s so organic and real and beautiful. Take a listen to their first single “Cold” and just see if it doesn’t give you chills. Can you believe that a sound like that comes from just two guys? Rest assured, I’ll be tracking down a copy of the EP All But the Sun on the strength of this single alone. Wow.

Melbourne two-piece Low Fly Incline are rocking out with their new single “Silver Cadillac.” It’s grungy and raw and has such a great energy. Just see if you’re not grooving along by the end of it.

This was actually the first song that Low Fly Incline’s vocalist and guitarist Tarek wrote for this outfit, and it was also the first song recorded when the band headed into the study to record their album. That makes a lot of sense, because there’s none of the fatigue that you start hearing in some songs as the recording process drags.

Low Fly Incline will officially launch “Silver Cadillac” for hometown fans tomorrow night at Luwow.