So here it is, my last post for 2014. Time for me to grab a glass of champers and get the party started away from my computer. But I felt it was fitting to leave you with a little something. So in case you missed it when it was on Triple J recently, here is the final Like a Version for the year, Bluejuice and a host of special guests (including Ngaiire, Elana Stone, the guys from The Griswolds, and Andy Bull) covering “End of the Road.” It’s amazing. Farewell 2014 and bring on 2015!

It’s that time again folks, time to look back on the year that was before ringing in the new one. I glanced back over my similar entry for 2013 and realised that 2014 has been pretty kind to me. No deaths in the family, relatively little drama, just plugging along. I rediscovered roller-skating and discovered that I am capable of doing some home repairs, even if I leave the heavy lifting to my husband and dad.) And of course there was music, my constant in an ever-changing world. Here’s the best of 2013 as I saw it.

Top 10 Aussie Albums/EPs

1. All But the Sun – Winterbourne
2. David Campbell Sings John Bucchino – David Campbell & John Bucchino
3. Demokracy – Citizen Kay
4. Time Has Come – 1200 Techniques
5. Local Football – Sleepy Dreamers
6. First Light – The Twoks
7. Acoustic Anniversary Album – Thirsty Merc
8. Echoes in the Aviary – Jane Tyrell
9. Sucker – Pluto Jonze
10. Understood – Baychimo Kin

Top 10 Aussie Tours

1. John Mayer
2. Tori Amos
3. Melanie Safka
4. Glen Hansard
5. Tim Freedman Does Nilsson
6. Queen & Adam Lambert
7. Day on the Green 100th Anniversary
8. John Farnham and Lionel Richie
9. Josh Pyke
10. Thirsty Merc

What did you love in 2014?

Image source: Rob & Jules @ Flickr

I love the Christmas holiday break, but I hate the things that I miss while everything shuts down. I’ve resorted to asking my husband random questions to make up for the lack of pub trivia in our lives, and I’ve had to take to the streets while I’m waiting for my Tuesday RollerFit classes to resume. My bruised and battered knees are not impressed with the change, and I’m yet to find an area large enough for me to practice my tricks, but it will have to do.

One advantage that street skating does have is that I can program my own playlist. One that’s definitely made the cut is “Rollin’ On” by Sydney songstress Eleanor Dunlop. While I’m sure she didn’t write the song with roller skating in mind, it’s working for me!

“Rollin’ On is about not wanting a good thing to end. Similar to when you’re at a party or out with someone really great and you don’t ever want that moment to end,” Eleanor explained. “When I was writing it I was in need of some motivation and this song was a kind of kick up the butt for me. Dancing and moving helps motivate me so I was half writing half dancing – it got the song-writing ball rolling again for me.”

This is our first taste of Eleanor’s sophomore EP, which will be released sometime next year. It’s much rockier and more danceable than the piano-driven numbers we used to hear from her. What do you think of the change?

With killer tunes like “Heartbreak (Number One)” in her repertoire and Grammy Award winner Michael League (Snarky Puppy) in her corner, it was probably just a matter of time before we lost Brisbane girl Bec Laughton to the bright lights of the United States. Bec has offers on the table from producers in New York and Los Angeles, so she’s packing up her stuff and relocating to pursue R & B on the big stage.

Before she does though, Bec will say au revoir with a national tour all around the country. There’s no telling when she’ll be back, so make sure you don’t miss these farewell gigs.

29 January 2015 – Hugs & Kisses, Melbourne
31 January 2015 – The Motor Room, Brisbane
6 February 2015 – Price of Wales, Bunbury
7 February 2015 – Settlers Tavern, Margaret River
8 February 2015 – Four5Nine, Perth
12 February 2015 – Brighton Up, Sydney

Image used with permission from Mucho Bravado

Sheppard has made us all smile this year, so it’s only fitting that their final single release of 2014 is called “Smile.” It’s a summery, frothy, poppy little number that should warm even the hardest heart. Its simple romantic lyrics aren’t going to set the world on fire, but the song’s so endearing that you’d have to be a real misery guts to hate it.

Does this song make you smile?

The Horns don’t have the brassy sound I expected given their name, but the Melbourne dup have really impressed me with their debut single “Play with Fire.”

All the right elements are there: beautiful harmonies, a singalong chorus, and inventive layered instrumentation. It’s a really great track. No wonder they drew a big crowd to the Railway Hotel for the recent launch!

Hopefully we’ll hear more from this talented act really soon!

It’s Christmas! It’s Christmas! I hope you all have an amazing day filled with fun, family, food, and other festive goodness. To set the mood I figured I’d share with you Gurrumul and Delta Goodrem’s twist on “Silent Night.”

I really love this. I thought their voices blended so beautifully when they recorded “Bayini” together in 2013, and it’s wonderful to hear that magic breathing new life into the Christmas classic.

You can find the track on this year’s Myer Spirit of Christmas or the So Fresh Songs for Christmas album. It’s worth buying a copy of both, as the Myer release raises money for the Salvos while So Fresh is helping out the Gurrumul Yunupingu Foundation.

I consider myself to have such eclectic musical taste that picking a favourite genre seems akin to choosing a favourite child. However, if I was pushed, gun to my head, I think folk would win out. I’m certainly looking at the summer line-up at the Melbourne Folk Club with some serious envy.

If you are a bit closer to the Bella Union, which hosts the club every Wednesday night, you can catch some of Australia and the world’s finest folk acts over the coming months. I’m talking about Jeff Lang, Shane Howard, Kim Richey, David Francey, Jordie Lane, and heaps more. We’re sure to see many magical moments like this performance of “Open Book” from our own Melody Pool recorded in August.

If that’s inspired you, browse the program and see some mid-week folk!

7 January 2015 – John Smith (UK) & Caitlin Harnett
8 January 2015 – The East Pointers (CAN) & Tolka (Unplugged Show)
14 January 2015 – David Francey (CAN), James Kenyon & Lucy Wise
21 January 2015 – Oh Pep! & Open Swimmer
28 January 2015 – Darren Hanlon, Laura Jean & Single Twin
4 February 2015 – Jeff Lang, Emma Swift & Matt Langley
11 February 2015 – The Mae Trio & The Once (CAN)
18 February 2015 – Machine Translations & Broads
25 February 2015 – Shane Howard (Album Launch) & Skyscraper Stan
4 March 2015 – Ruth Moody & Band (Canada), Scott Cook (Canada) & Nadia Reid (NZ)
11 March 2015 – Jordie Lane (In Conversation + Concert)
18 March 2015 – Breabach (Scotland) & Stray Hens
25 March 2015 – All Our Exes Live in Texas & Kim Richey (US)

Perth singer-songwriter Husband has released the title track from his debut album The Money and it’s a cracker. It’s got such wonderful dark, brooding lyrics but a great melody that really soars for balance.

“’The Money’ expresses my frustration about how money and happiness are so closely linked for so many people,” Husband explained. “One night I found myself walking through Perth’s financial district. It felt so dead … its sole purpose is to make money 9-5. The emptiness I felt inspired this song.”

Husband’s debut album The Money will hit stores on January 23. He’ll play the following shows in his home state to support its release.

23 January 2015 – Mojos Bar, Fremantle
30 January 2015 – The Prince of Wales Hotel, Bunbury (FREE)
28 February & 1 March 2015 – Nannup Music Festival, Nannup

Christmas is rapidly approaching, but before we break out the roast it’s time to usher in the festive season with Carols by Candlelight, which is celebrating its 76th year. If you want to experience it live, these four festive tips will help you make the most of the event.

1. Get Your Tickets ASAP

Great tickets are still available but the selection is becoming limited, especially if you want to sit in the stalls. They’re not cheap at $180 for adults and $90 for concession holders, but knowing the money’s supporting blind and low vision kids should make it easier to part with your cash.

Lawn tickets are the most budget-friendly, especially for families. Adults cost $70, concessions are $40, and two adults and two kids can enjoy the show for $180. Arrive early though, as these tickets are unreserved. Gates open at 4:30, but many keen carollers camp out all day to claim the best piece of grass.

Carols tickets are available from Ticketmaster outlets and online.

2. Book an Innercity Hotel

It’s just not worth driving from the suburbs in to the Bowl. Traffic is usually bumper to bumper, and when you get there the parking on Linlithgow Avenue and St Kilda Road is very limited. You could utilise the parking spaces at the back of the nearby Arts Centre, but that’ll cost you $25 for the night. And with a projected finish time of 11 pm, you’ll face a really late night if you’re driving home.

Instead it’s smarter to make a night of it and book one of the innercity Melbourne hotels. I love the historic Hotel Charsfield, which boasts old-world perks like snooker and reading rooms. Catch the number 3, 5, 6, 8, 16, 64, 67 or 72 tram from just outside its doors and get off at either stop 16 or 17. Both are just three minutes’ walk from the Bowl’s main gates. Then you can indulge in some Melbourne sightseeing the next day!

3. Bring Your Camera

Carols by Candlelight is always a star-studded affair and this year’s will be no different with David Campbell, Harrison Craig, Anthony Callea, Kate Ceberano and heaps more on the bill. If you’ve splurged on stall seats, make sure you bring your camera to catch performance snaps. If you arrive early you might also meet one of the stars arriving before the show, and your friends will never believe you if you don’t have the photographic evidence!

4. Brush Up On Your Carols

There’s nothing worse than catching your mug on TV as you stare blankly through those lesser known verses of “Oh Come All Ye Faithful.” Songbooks will be distributed on the night of, but these become increasingly difficult to read as the evening wears on. Start brushing up on the classics now and you’ll be in fine voice on the big day.

The 76th Carols by Candlelight hits the Sidney Myer Music Bowl on December 24. If you can’t make it to Melbourne you can catch the broadcast on Channel Nine. This post was written as part of the #HipmunkCityLove project. What do you love about the carols?

Image source: DocklandsTony @ Flickr