Ordinarily I find myself dragging my feet on a Monday, lamenting how quickly the last two days have whizzed by and the deadlines I have looming. However, this week I’ve got a spring in my step thanks to Blues Arcadia’s new self-titled debut EP.

I instantly connected with the music from this soul act from Brisbane. While it’s a debut, these guys, including past members of The Bella Reunion, are no strangers to the music scene. Listening to the seven tracks that make up this EP, you feel you’re in good hands. The numbers were recorded live to tape at The Barn Studios, giving them an energy and emotional intensity other studio recordings often lack.

I love the melancholy of “Corner Girls.” I can imagine hearing it in a smoky jazz club late at night after one too many glasses of scotch. After the raw ache of that song, the easy, playful groove of “Take the Money” gives the heart some respite. “Miss Lonely” is pure joy, the kind of track that gets everyone in a club up on their feet and dancing. “Here Comes the Rain” sees Blues Arcadia in performers its most sombre mode. It’s heartbreaking, with crying guitars adding pathos to Alan Boyle’s stunning vocals. The upbeat “Operator Please” brings the mood up before “Time and Again” reminds listeners just how good this band is at crafting a song about loss. It’s a powerhouse, with a rollicking piano, driving drums, and those meaty vocals. The upbeat “Rockin’ Chair” closes the EP with a bang. It’s got a great political message, but with its beefy sax line and danceable beat that message goes down easy.

I don’t ordinarily write about every song on a recording, but there are no filler tracks here. Blues Arcadia has such a great sound, with all the players pulling their weight. Big brass sounds meld beautifully with more delicate instruments like the guitars and piano. Everything works. And with Alan Boyle’s soulfully raw vocals on top, it’s heaven. I’m so glad this is a longer-than-average EP, because I didn’t want it to end. Excuse me while I hit play again.

Blues Arcadia’s self-titled EP drops on November 14. They’re playing the following shows around Queensland in the coming months. Hopefully they won’t leave the rest of Australia waiting too long, because I need to hear these guys live!

12 November 2016 – Lefty’s Old Time Music Hall, Brisbane (FREE)
13 November 2016 – Secret Show – email thebluesarcadia@gmail.com for details
18 November 2016 – The Walrus Club, Toowong (FREE)
19 November 2016 – BASEQ 21st Birthday Bash @ Lefty’s Old Time Music Hall, Brisbane (FREE for BASEQ members)
26 November 2016 – Sonny’s House of Blues, Brisbane (FREE)
2 December 2016 – Sonny’s House of Blues, Brisbane (FREE)
3 December 2016 – The Walrus Club, Toowong (FREE)
10 December 2016 – Lefty’s Old Time Music Hall, Brisbane (FREE)
31 December 2016 – The Royal Mail Hotel, Goodna
14 January 2017 – Lefty’s Old Time Music Hall, Brisbane (FREE)
21 January 2017 – Wolvi Heads Shed, Wolvi
27 January 2017 – Queen Street Mall, Brisbane (FREE)
28 January 2017 – Sonny’s House Of Blues, Brisbane (FREE)
17 February 2017 – Lefty’s Old Time Music Hall, Brisbane (FREE)
25 February 2017 – Sonny’s House Of Blues, Brisbane (FREE)
10 March 2017 – Sonny’s House Of Blues, Brisbane (FREE)
11 March 2017 – Palmwoods Hotel, Palmwoods

Image source: Blues Arcadia Facebook page

It’s been a little while since I’ve heard any really great new blues music. You know the stuff, the music that feeds you soul and bubbles over with passion and heart. So I was really excited to stumble across the self-titled EP from Sydney’s Gareth Jay.

The opening track “Fiend” had me from its intro with its acoustic guitar and rich harmonica. Once his husky voice entered the mix I was sold. This song just oozes sex.

The follow-up number, “Crave,” kept me enamoured. If the lost love this song was written about didn’t go back to Gareth after hearing it she’s crazy. I think I’d forgive almost anything if anyone was inspired to write a song like this for me.

The heartbreak continues with “It’s Not Me, It’s You.” It covers familiar ground but Gareth is so talented that it feels fresh.

“Why Don’t You Just” feels like it’s come out of America’s Deep South rather than the streets of Sydney. It’s swampy and raw and oh so good.
The closing track “Tempt Me” has a real organic, spontaneous energy. It feels like the sort of thing you might expect Gareth to improvise on stage with his bandmates, unpolished and honest.

After listening to all five tracks I had to play them again. And then again. What a wonderful introduction to this talented musician. I expect massive things when Gareth Jay releases his first full-length album this May.

When I reviewed Winterbourne’s single “Cold” last month I swore that I’d track down a copy of the EP All But the Sun. I was so impressed with that song that there was a part of me that worried that perhaps I’d be disappointed. Winterbourne had set the bar so high. I needn’t have fretted. All But the Sun may be the best thing I’ve heard all year.

The EP opens with “Cold,” which was every bit as epic and beautiful as I remembered it. The energy was turned up several notches with “The Boy Prince,” a raucous number with a deliciously dark edge that reminded me a lot of something Mumford & Sons might release. I couldn’t help but thing of the English band from time to time as I listened to the rest of the songs, as there are a few similarities in the way their music builds, their lyrical sensibilities, and the lush harmonies. I could hear the longing in “Steady my Bones.” There was real palpable sadness in “Leaves” too. After so much sorrow the light of “Sunrise,” the closing track (or so I thought) was such sweet relief. It’s jubilant and uplifting, a dazzling conclusion.

I instantly ran to my stereo and started the EP again. And again. It reminded me of when I got Sigh no More, than first Mumford & Sons album, and I couldn’t stop listening to it. I’d play it in my home, need to go out and take it to my car stereo, bring it back in with me and whack it on again. Something tells me this EP is going to be much the same.

In my enthusiasm for these songs I didn’t actually realise that in a throwback to the ‘90s, there’s a hidden track. It’s wonderful too, full of spirit and folky energy. But of course.

EPs might be much smaller than full-length albums, but even so, there are usually weaker tracks. Not here. Every single song on All But the Sun is so very good. Winterbourne are such a quality band and I can’t wait to hear more from them.

Image source: Winterbourne Facebook page

With their debut self-titled EP in stores now, the supremely talented Little May are preparing to wing their way around the country to bring its songs to music fans in the flesh. Those include the dreamy lead single “Dust,” which is available for your listening pleasure here.

Little May have earned their live chops playing such high-profile gigs as Splendour in the Grass, Laneways, and Big Sound, so fans are in for a real treat at these shows.

6, 7, & 9 November 2014 – Kings Park & Botanic Garden, Perth (supporting Rodriguez)
16 November 2014 – Rad Bar, Wollongong
21 November 2014 – Northcote Social Club, Melbourne
22 November 2014 – The Front Gallery & Café, Canberra
27 & 28 November 2014 – Newtown Social Club, Sydney
29 November 2014 -  Gorgeous Music Festival, McLaren Vale
5 December 2014 – Solbar, Sunshine Coast
6 December 2014 – Black Bear Lodge,  Brisbane

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.

British-born, Sydney-based singer-songwriter Boy Outside will release his self-titled debut EP tomorrow, August 9.

The EP features the gorgeous folky single “River Runs to the Sea” and five more stellar songs recorded at Linear Studios late last year.

Boy Outside will celebrate the EP’s release with launch shows every Thursday in August at Redfern’s Arcadia Liquors. The first show’s tonight, so make sure you don’t miss it!

Melbourne act Elephant Eyes are preparing to celebrate the release of their debut EP with a launch show for hometown fans next week.

I’m thrilled to see more from this outfit who thoroughly charmed me with their single “Mother Said” last year. Apparently chronic illness, line-up changes, and the nine-to-five drudge made producing something else a bit slow, but I for one am glad they took the time. The single “India” gives us a beautiful taste of the EP. Lead singer Kate McMahon positively soars on this number about globetrotting from the comfort of your armchair.

The launch is a double headliner show with Susy Blue at Fitzroy’s Workers Club on August 11. Doors open at 1:30 pm, and Elephant Eyes will take the stage at the very civilised time of 3.

Inland Sea cofounder Jeremy Hunter is stepping out on his own with the recent release of his debut self-titled EP. The EP is a collection of acoustic guitar-driven folk-rock tunes that should delight fans of the genre. It includes this gorgeous single, “Picking Up the Pieces”.

Less than a month after touring the United Kingdom with Inland Sea mid-2012, Jeremy holed himself up in the mountains outside Brisbane with his pal and producer Konstantin Kersting. They spent three days out of the bustle of the city, crafting the five songs that would become this release. Jeremy impressively played every instrument on the recording to ensure the tracks captured exactly what he hoped to express. Some might call him a control freak; I think the approach is genius.

Jeremy will launch the EP with a show for hometown fans at Brisbane’s Black Bear Lodge on May 26, and another at St Kilda’s Prince Public Bar on May 31.

With the release of their latest EP Swamp Love imminent, The Owls are preparing to soak up the sunshine of the East Coast on a launch tour.

The disc celebrates The Owls unmistakable blend of dirty blues and Southern rock music. It features the single and fan favourite “Better Off Deaf,” as well as two more tracks destined to become live hits.

The Swamp Love EP tour will kick off in The Owls hometown of Newcastle on November 9, which is not so coincidentally the day the EP hits stores. It will then take in other key locations in New South Wales, Queensland, and the Australian Capital Territory. Tickets are on sale from the venues now.

9 November 2012 – The Great Northern Hotel, Newcastle
14 November 2012 – The Patch, Wollongong
22 November 2012 – Transit Bar, Canberra
30 November 2012 – Goodgod Small Club, Sydney
19 December 2012 – Black Bear Lodge, Brisbane

Image used with permission from Reckoning Entertainment

Multi-award winning Canadian rock band The Trews are frequent visitors to our shores, and they’re planning a return visit next month.

The upcoming tour celebrates the release of …thank you and I’m sorry, The Trews’ latest extended EP. It will feature eight tracks including the lead single, a cover version of Paul Kelly’s “Leaps and Bounds,” and a new recording of their song “Poor Ol’ Broken Hearted Me” featuring Shannon Noll. Shannon and the Canucks are great mates, so it’s only fitting they’ll join forces during this tour for a show in Melbourne.

…thank you and I’m sorry will get a digital release on October 22 on iTunes before it hits stores on November 2. Tickets to the following shows are on sale now. For an extra $10 you can enjoy a pre-sale bundle which includes a copy of the EP, a two-track download card, Australian tour sticker, and badge. Sounds like a good deal to me!

24 October 2012 – The Brass Monkey, Cronulla
25 October 2012 – Upstairs Beresford, Sydney
26 October 2012 – Terrey Hills Tavern, Terrey Hills
27 & 28 October 2012 – Sydney Blues and Roots Festival, Windsor
28 October 2012 – Beaches, Thirroul
1 November 2012 – Ding Dong, Melbourne
2 November 2012 – The Loft, Warrnambool
3 November 2012 – Jive, Adelaide
5 November 2012 – Hallam Hotel, Melbourne (with Shannon Noll)

Image source: Lildreamer22 @ Wikipedia Commons