Way back in 1996, Kiwi rockers Shihad made a splash with their self-titled debut, an album that became affectionately known as the Fish Album. Now 20 years later the band is marking the milestone.

This month a remastered version of the Fish Album was reissued on vinyl and digital. And in June, Shihad will tour Australia. The shows will no doubt include plenty of cuts from the debut album as well as more recent tracks that remind us Shihad are much more than a nostalgia band. Special guests The Grenadiers will join the band on the road.

Tickets are on sale now from Oztix for the following shows.

23 June 2016 – Settlers Tavern, Margaret River
24 & 25 June 2016 – Rosemount Hotel, Perth
26 June 2016 – Newport Hotel, Fremantle
1 July 2016 – The Triffid, Brisbane
2 July 2016 – Pigsty in July, Hunter Valley
15 July 2016 – The Factory, Sydney
16 July 2016 – The Croxton, Melbourne

Image used with permission from Secret Service Public Relations

“Heartache Blues” is one of my favourite songs from Reece Mastin’s Change Colours album. So I’m thrilled to see it’s not just the new single, but that’s got an amazing new video to match.

“Heartache Blues is a song about being away from the people, places, and spaces you miss so much when you couldn’t be further away from them,” Reece explained. “It’s a gut-wrenching feeling at the start, but on your way home there’s nothing better than the feeling of getting closer to being back there.”

This song has a great 80s pop-rock vibe, so it’s only fitting that the clip takes us back to the decade with some of the maddest hula hooping action I can recall seeing in some time. What do you think of it?

Proving that they’re one of the most consistent acts on the local landscape these days, Halcyon Drive have released another killer track, their latest single “Books for the Holidays.” It’s the latest track lifted from the band’s forthcoming EP Untethered, which is released on May 13.

“The song is about being frustrated with the state of loneliness. Part longing over unrequited feelings, part despair, part wonderment at the beauty that surrounds us everyday- this is definitely the most heartfelt tune on the EP,” Halcyon Drive’s frontman Michael Oechsle says.

I can certainly feel that frustration coming through in the heartfelt vocals and lush instrumentation, which moves from delicate and sparse to anthemic with ease.

Halcyon Drive have been touring the country virtually non-stop for the last 12 months, but they’re not done yet. Rather than resting, the band’s about to embark on its most extensive run of gigs to date. Here are all the places you can catch Halcyon Drive on their EP tour.

9 June 2016 – Rad Bar, Wollongong
10 June 2016 – The Stag & Hunter, Newcastle (FREE)
11 June 2016 – Transit Bar, Canberra
12 June 2016 – Botany View Hotel, Sydney (FREE)
16 June 2016 – Workers Club, Geelong
17 June 2016 – Saloon Bar, Traralgon
18 June 2016 – Shadow Electric, Melbourne
1 July 2016 – Cats, Adelaide
8 July 2016 – Solbar, Sunshine Coast
9 July 2016 – Trainspotters, Brisbane
10 July 2016 – Sounds of Sunday, Gold Coast (FREE)

Image used with permission from Rare Finds

Local alt-folk act The Paper Kites have just released the final video in their “midnight” trilogy for the new single “Renegade.”

Again, the clip depicts the happenings of people between 12 and 4 am, a reference to the band’s stellar 2015 album TwelveFour. This time around it follows a group of kids who break into an aquatic cinema in the wee small hours of the morning.

To celebrate the conclusion of the midnight trilogy, The Paper Kites will play some intimate shows in capital cities across Australia. They’re in fine form after playing shows across Europe in January and February. After that it’s off to Canada and the United States for more shows. Whether you’re here or stateside, make sure you don’t miss one of these gigs.

23 June 2016 – Enmore Theatre, Sydney (ALL AGES)
24 June 2016 – Athenaeum Theatre, Melbourne (ALL AGES)
25 June 2016 – The Tivoli, Brisbane (Under 18s permitted with parent/guardian)
1 July 2016 – Astor Theatre, Perth (Under 18s permitted with parent/guardian)
2 July 2016 – Norwood Town Hall, Adelaide (ALL AGES)
9 & 10 July 2016 – Winnipeg Folk Festival, Winnipeg
11 July 2016 – Triple Rock, Minneapolis
12 July 2016 – Shank Hall, Milwaukee
13 July 2016 – The Shelter, Detroit
14 July 2016 – Rum Runners, London
16 July 2016 – Ottawa Blues, Ottawa
17 July 2016 – Parc de la Francophonie @ Festival D’ete, Quebec City
19 July 2016 – Showcase Room @ Higher Ground, Burlington
20 July 2016 – The Studio at Waiting Room, Buffalo
21 July 2016 – Club Café, Pittsburgh
22 July 2016 –  Bogart’s, Cincinnati
23 July 2016 – Beachland Ballroom, Cleveland
24 July 2016 – Wayhome Music Festival, Oro-Medonte
27 July 2016 –  StageOne, Fairfield
28 July 2016 – Cape Cinema, Dennis
29 July 2016 – Port City Musical Hall, Portland
31 July 2016 – Osheaga, Montreal

I’ve been sitting on Anna Smyrk’s Song of the Silver-Tongued Magpie EP for some time. By the time listening to it reached the top of my to-do list Prince passed away, and I just wasn’t ready to hear to anything but his back catalogue. However on seeing that it’s released today, I thought I owed it to Anna to give it a spin. I’m not sure I could have found a more different recording to listen to. Its raw, folky blues numbers are a world away from the deeply-layered funk and soul songs I’ve been spinning. That’s a good thing though.

The first two tracks, “Barefoot Shuffle” and “House of Straw,” reminded me of the raw, organic power of music delivered simply, without a big studio budget. These songs were apparently recorded in the old Victorian farmhouse where Anna grew up. There’s a similar haunting quality about the tracks. Bare-bones music like this leaves nowhere to hide, and that exposure makes the songs so striking. The lilting piano melody of “Oh, the Wind” is like a big warm hug. Even though there’s a destructive force in the wind, its story is told with such irresistible tenderness. “The Murder of Alan Beyne” stopped me in my tracks. What quiet power a song gets when it’s anchored by a haunting voice and a compelling story. The harmonic layered vocals of the closing track, “Backyard Dawn” are so angelic. I love the sounds of magpies at the end of the track, a familiar sound heard in so many Aussie backyards. It ties back to the EP’s title in the most beautiful way.

While Anna’s musicianship is at the heart of Song of the Silver-Tongued Magpie, I’d be remiss not to mention Dan Musil on dobro guitar and Jimmy Power on banjo. These guys have played with Anna for years and it shows. You can hear how comfortable all the players feel together as they create these gorgeous songs.

Anna actually recorded Song of the Silver-Tongued Magpie a year ago but she postponed plans to release it when she was offered work with a Cambodian non-profit using music to help the country’s disadvantaged people. She’s back home for just two months before she commences more charity work in the Solomon Islands. During that time she’ll play just one show, at The Toff in Town on May 19 in Melbourne to support the EP’s release.

Image used with permission from Anna Smyrk

I’ve been a bit quiet over the last few days. Writing about the Australian music scene, listening to local artists, just hasn’t felt right. Because like so many music lovers, I’m grieving the passing of Prince.

When we lost David Bowie earlier this year, I was also shocked, stunned, saddened. I also felt a part of my childhood die. But I rationalised that I write an Australian music blog, and the death of a British artist was outside my scope. I found it much easier to move forward. With the loss of Prince though, I’m struggling in a way that I can’t remember.

I can’t resolve that the talented, breathtaking, unique, funny, sexy man that I saw live only two months ago is gone from us. That was such a special concert, and I knew that at the time, but right now I’m holding the memories of the moments we shared so much closer. I’m also thinking back to the wonderful holiday I had in Brisbane in 2012, seeing the Purple One live for the first time with my best friend Lisa.

It was so good on both of those occasions to be among people who really got Prince. I lived in a family where my dad made fun of him because he didn’t fit his idea of what male sexuality should be. My husband will ordinarily see any concert with me, but he’s always been happy to give Prince gigs a wide berth. To his credit he hasn’t complained once when I’ve been tuned in to Double J’s back-to-back Prince songs this weekend, or on Friday when I was transfixed by MTV Australia’s music videos. And the father who teased me and called Prince names rang me on Friday morning to check I was doing OK.

I think what hurts most is that he wasn’t done. We weren’t done. HitnRun Phase Two is a wonderful album, and there was so much more to follow. Prince was so prolific, yet the quality of the music never faltered. He was always so exciting, so original. When so many artists seem to create music by the numbers, he was special. He made me feel better about being different. He made me feel brave when I was bullied, because he seemed so fierce. When I was taught sexuality should be hidden, should be ashamed of even, his brazen cheek was a delicious counter-balance.

Prince might not be an Australian artist, but he’s touched so many of us here. For that reason, perhaps despite my earlier call, a tribute to everything he did and everything he was deserves a place on Sounds of Oz.

Prince, I love U. I will miss U terribly. Thank U for everything.

Image source: Wikipedia Commons

I still can’t quite believe that this year the Hunter Valley will host its last ever Jazz in the Vines. My favourite music festival is going out with a bang though, with arguably its best line-up. Announced today, James Morrison, Leo Sayer, Mental as Anything, John Morrison’s Swing City Big Band, Monica Trapaga, Emma Pask, and Lisa Hunt are all on the bill. And that’s just for starters!
Add some amazing wine from Tyrell’s, fantastic food from some of the Hunter’s best restaurants, and good vibes into the mix and you’ve got a recipe for a superb day out.

Jazz in the Vines hits Tyrell’s Winery in the Hunter Valley on October 29. Tickets are on sale now and are bound to sell out, so get yours via the Jazz in the Vines website today.

Image source: own photo

After cutting his eye teeth in Sydney jazz and blues clubs for the last three years, Jesse Redwing is preparing to unleash his music on the rest of Australia. The new single “Crawlin’ Up the Walls” gives you a taster of what you can expect on the EP he’s currently working on. This is old school blues, dirty and honest, with a modern swagger.

If you like what you hear, catch Jesse Redwing playing Yah Yah’s in Melbourne on 22 April or in Sydney at the Brighton Up Bar on 24 April.

Melbourne chanteuse Tanzer gives classic 60s soul music a modern twist with her delightful new single “Johnny.”

The track tells the story of a performer whose larger than life persona is at odds with the man behind the image. I love its big brassy orchestration and Tanzer’s sultry vocals.

“Johnny” comes from Tanzer’s debut EP Four Love Songs, which will drop on May 16. She’ll launch it for hometown fans at the Toff in Town on May 28.

Lazy Sundays are ideal for listening to the laidback groove of a tune like “Karma My Life,” the new single from Melbourne band The Hiding.

I just love this song’s carefree, roadtrippy vibe. It makes sense that it reminds me of travel, because the folky percussive guitar sound was influenced by the acoustic performances the lads saw in Central Park whilst living in New York.

The lyrics are also full of positivity and wisdom.

“Life can throw so many speed bumps and The Hiding has experienced its fair share of these,” explained lyricist and guitarist Anthony Salce in the press release. “It can be deflating and soul damaging, however, these are life lessons we all experience and Karma my life is about accepting these journeys, appreciating the turning point and celebrating the ‘positive experience’ that changed your life.”

And can I just take a moment to talk about the mesmerising music video? It features the work of renowned sand artist Fatmir Mura. “As Karma My Life is an honest and emotive piece, we wanted the video to represent the changing nature of the band and the need to adapt to your surroundings, which Fatmir delivers very well in his sand art,” Anthony explained. I couldn’t take my eyes off this video. It’s truly stunning.

If you’re digging what The Hiding do too, and you live in their home state, you can catch them at the following upcoming shows. Hopefully they won’t leave the rest of Australia waiting too long to see them!

29 April 2016 – Rifle Brigade Hotel, Bendigo
6 May 2016 – Mynt Lounge, Werribee
21 May 2016 – Revolver, Melbourne