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

If you’re stuck for Christmas gift ideas, either for your nearest and dearest or for yourself as a reward for all that time spent shopping, then consider some Paul Kelly swag. He’s about to release The Merri Soul Sessions, a soul and gospel album which sees Paul performing with some of his best friends in the business including Dan Sultan, Vika and Linda Bull, Kira Puru, and Clairy Browne. It’s something new for Paul, who’s better known for his folkier leanings, but with such talent on board you can’t go wrong.

The Merri Soul Sessions, Paul’s 20th studio release, is currently available for pre-order through his website, ahead of its December 12 release. However, if you really want to get something special I suggest heading to the PledgeMusic site where you can secure a 7” vinyl box set or 12” vinyl deluxe box set.

If you feel like buying a good night out, then why not grab some tickets for Paul’s national tour, happening this January? They’re on sale now.

9 January 2015 – Opening Party of Sydney Festival, Parramatta
10 January 2015 – Summer of Soul Festival, Mossvale
16 January 2015 – MONA FOMA @ Princes Wharf, Hobart
17 January 2015 – Sundown Sessions @ Scarborough Park, Scarborough
21 January 2015 – Tamworth Regional Entertainment Centre, Tamworth
22 January 2015 – The Tivoli, Brisbane (seated)
23 January 2015 – The Tivoli, Brisbane (standing)
31 January 2015 – Norwood Concert Hall, Adelaide
6 February 2015 – Taronga Zoo, Sydney NSW
7 February 2015 – Melbourne Zoo, Melbourne VIC
10 & 11 February 2015 – Darwin Entertainment Centre, Darwin

If you’re seeing Nahko & Medicine for the People on their upcoming shows, I recommend arriving early. I’ve just been listening to the support act Trevor Hall’s latest album Chapter of the Forest, and he’s outstanding.

I’ve had a lot of turmoil going on around me of late. Sisters feeling out of sorts, parents overseas so I’m the one hearing it from both sides, persistent illness, all general ickiness. So listening to something like this album which is so spiritual, so grounded, so organic, is just what I needed. I only wish I didn’t already have plans when they’re all in Newcastle, or I’d be there with bells on. I’ll just have to be content with listening to Trevor’s wonderful songs, but honestly if you get a chance, these shows are going to be killer.

22 November 2014 – Tanks Art Centre, Cairns
23 November 2014 – Mullum Music Festival, Mullumbimby (Nahko solo)
25 November 2014 – The HiFi, Sydney
26 November 2014 – Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle
29 November 2014 – Queenscliff Music Festival, Queenscliff
02 December 2014 – The Governor, Hindmarsh
04 December 2014 – Settlers Tavern, Margaret River
06 December 2014 – Fly By Night, Fremantle

Image used with permission from Heapsaflash

Pepa Knight, the co-frontman of Jinja Safari, is stepping out solo with the forthcoming album Hypnotized Vol. I. The album doesn’t drop until November 28, but you can get a taste of it with the original and totally gorgeous new single “Coyote Choir.”

I love the way this song comes together. It’s a little Hari Krishna, a little hanging out on the beaches of Byron, a little Summer of Love. Neon Gold called it “highly original tipi-pop,” which sounds as good a label as any. Or maybe we just forget about categorising it and enjoy it for what it is.

And if you are enjoying it, make sure you get along to the remaining shows Pepa’s performing along the East Coast this month.

27 November 2014 – The Small Ballroom, Newcastle
28 November 2014 – Baker St, Gosford
29 November 2014 – Milk Factory, Brisbane (FREE)

Image used with permission from Rare Finds

Kim Churchill will be spreading good vibes across Australia this summer as he sets out on his Single Spark tour. The shows will celebrate the recent release of the feel-good song “Single Spark,” the opening track from his latest album Silence/Win.

Kim’s been having an amazing ride for someone who grew up in coastal Merimbula. At just 24 years old he’s already played Glastonbury, the Montreal Jazz Festival, and the intimate Telluride Blues and Brews festival in the US. He’s also opened for the lines of Billy Bragg and Michael Franti, and been the headliner on tours across the United Kingdom, Europe, and Canada.

After all that it’s a thrill to have him back on home soil sharing his music with us all. You can catch him play at the following venues in the coming months.

15 January 2015 – The Corner, Melbourne
16 January 2015 – The Abbey, Canberra
17 January 2015 – Karova Lounge, Ballarat
21 January 2015 – Birdhouse Bar, Wagga Wagga
22 January 2015 – Anita’s Theatre, Thirroul
23 January 2015 – The Cambridge, Newcastle
24 January 2015 – Oxford Art Factory, Sydney
29 January 2015 – The Beach Hotel, Byron Bay (FREE)
30 January 2015 – The Zoo, Brisbane
31 January 2015 – Solbar, Maroochydore
1 February 2015 – Festival of King Island, Currie
5 February 2015 – Jive, Adelaide
6 February 2015 – Amplifier Bar, Perth
7 February 2015 – City of Stirling Summerset Arts Festival at Stirling Civic Gardens, Scarborough

Conor Oberst is another of those incredible American musicians I only discovered because I learned he was touring and figured I better do a little research. I’d heard of the band Bright Eyes without ever hearing any of their stuff, and I certainly didn’t know his name, but wow. We live in a time that is just rich with phenomenally talented singer-songwriters. Of course our own musicians are writing some superb material, but if you want to expand your horizons I definitely recommend checking this guy out.

As a little taster, check out this performance from Letterman a couple of month back. How good is that song? It manages to balance light and shade so beautifully. It had me tapping my toes and punching my fists in the air by the end. I’m so impressed.

If you are so, make sure you check out Conor when he visits Australia next year to support the relatively recent release of his solo album Upside Down Mountain. He’s also bringing along fellow Americans The Felice Brothers to sweeten the deal.

25 February 2015 – The Triffid, Brisbane
26 February 2015 – Corner Hotel, Melbourne
28 February 2015 – Melbourne Zoo, Melbourne
4 March 2015 – Metro Theatre, Sydney
5 March 2015 – Anitas, Thirroul
6 March 2015 – Taronga Zoo, Sydney
8 March 2015 – Golden Plains Festival, Meredith

The Basics have come out swinging with their scathing new single “The Lucky Country.” It’s a damning commentary on Australia’s age of entitlement and the political circus we’ve been subjected to of late.

“We’re songwriters, but we’re not just here to talk about love, heartbreak and getting drunk,” explained Kris Schroeder. “We believe in reflecting something of the society we live in, and right now there are a lot of people who seem to think that they’re better off sticking our heads in the sand and pretending the rest of the world isn’t there. It’s about time someone stood up and said that valuing education and believing that being aware and informed is important, doesn’t make you a ‘hippy’. Wanting to leave the planet in better shape for our children doesn’t make you a ‘bleeding heart’. Thinking that respect for other cultures enhances our nation rather than diminishes it doesn’t make you unpatriotic.”

“Whether it’s politicians, newspapers or ‘shock-jocks’, we’ve got this toxic culture that has been fostered on “what’s in it for me” – it’s as if this ‘Doctrine of Prosperity’ that’s been preached in churches for years has filtered down to the rest of us. It’s been encouraged for so long for quick votes and ratings – like “You’ve only got two cars? You should have six!” – and maybe someone needs to take Australia by the wrist, give it a shake and say “WAKE UP”. And why not a bunch of musicians to do it?”

The Basics will spend the festive season taking their message to the people with their The Lucky Country tour.

16 & 17 December 2014 – Newtown Social Club, Newtown
19 December 2014 – Sol Bar, Maroochydore
20 December 2014 – Old Museum, Brisbane
27 December 2014 – Corner Hotel, Melbourne
31 December 2014 – Princes Wharf 1 “A Taste of Tasmania NYE”, Hobart
1 January 2015 – Cataract Gorge “The Basin Concert,” Launceston
3 January 2015 – Rosemount Hotel, Perth
4 January 2015 – Mojos, Fremantle
13 February 2015 – Aurora Spiegeltent @ The Garden Of Unearthly Delights, Adelaide

Songs like “What Am I Gonna Do With All Of My Love Now?” are exactly the reason why Jack Carty is one of my favourite Aussie musicians. The third single lifted from his third LP Esk, it’s another moving, exquisitely crafted slice of pop-folk.

If you love it too, remember Jack’s currently on the road supporting the release of Esk. Here are all the places you can still catch him live.

13 November 2014 – Lizotte’s, Dee Why
14 November 2014 – The Commons, Newcastle
16 November 2014 – Flow Espresso Bar, Old Bar
20 November 2014 – The Pier, Port Macquarie
21 November 2014 – 5 Church Street, Bellingen
27 November 2014 – Brass Monkey, Cronulla
28 November 2014 – Captains @ Mariners, Batemans Bay
29 November 2014 – The Front, Canberra
30 November 2014 – Birdhouse Bar, Wagga Wagga
4 December 2014 – Howler, Melbourne
5 December 2014 – Kay St Saloon Bar, Traralgon
6 December 2014 – Montrose Town Centre, Montrose
7 December 2014 – Bended, Geelong
11 December 2014 –The Grace Emily, Adelaide
12 December 2014 – Mars Hill Café, Parramatta
13 December 2014 – Venue 505, Sydney
14 December 2014 – Heritage Hotel, Wollongong

Brisbane band Love Like Hate have just returned from a European tour where they performed to rave reviews and inked an exclusive signing deal with Rough Trade Publishing, the same company that represents Violent Femmes and Le Tigre. Now back on home soil they’re celebrating with an Aussie tour to promote their new EP Unnoticed.

Unnoticed features the single “Electric Ships,” which got them noticed by music fans here and across the pond, and the latest single and the EP’s title track, “Unnoticed”. It’s got an upbeat pop core but a darkness that I really like. The film clip also gives us a bit of an insight into their recent international travels.

If you’ve noticed how good Love Like Hate are, make sure you don’t miss their Unnoticed EP shows.

20th November 2014 – B East, Melbourne
21st November 2014 – The Homestead, Hobart
24th November 2014 – The Public Bar, St Kilda
28th November 2014 – Union Hotel, Newtown
6th December 2014 – Treehouse On Belongil, Byron Bay
17th January 2015 – Bearded Lady, West End

Awesome American alt-country singer Sharon van Etten has announced sideshows in the East Coast capitals to coincide with her visit for Golden Plains. I must admit, I wasn’t aware of Sharon’s music until I caught her performance of “Every Time the Sun Comes Up,” from her most recent studio album Are We There, on Letterman.

Something tells me it’s only a matter of time before Sharon enters the mainstream consciousness, so if you love her music make sure you catch her playing intimate venues like these while you can.

1 March 2015 – Factory Theatre, Sydney
3 March 2015 – The Hi-Fi, Melbourne
4 March 2015 – The Zoo, Brisbane
7 March 2015 – Golden Plains Festival, Meredith