Ollie Brown has already won Australia’s Best Busker competition with ‘Bedford Avenue’, supported Thirsty Merc frontman Rai Thistlethwayte, and been announced in the line-up for this years Bluesfest, yet you may not have even heard of this folk rocker.
I caught Ollie Brown at the Oxford Art Factory last week supporting The Firetree and the 21 year old Novocastrian really impressed me. Armed with an acoustic guitar and a backup guitarist/keyboardist (apparently called Kurt), Ollie Brown delivers a pretty awesome live performance.
Since listening to his tracks on his unearthed page, I have to say that the recordings (whilst still good) do not do his voice true justice, and hearing him live is something special. His voice is crystal clear, super smooth, and projects like nobody else I have heard – it instantly grabbed everyone’s attention at his gig at Oxford Art Factory. He just hits his notes perfectly and so sweetly every time, the chorus of ‘Bedford Avenue’ and ‘Midnight Call’ are especially inspiring.
Instrumentally, the acoustic guitars really support Ollie’s voice well and the inclusion of keyboards on some of his tracks help to mix things up. In fact Ollie Brown’s sound reminded me a lot of the acoustics on Evermore’s first album ‘Dreams’, and it did make me wonder if the song ‘These Dreams’, although a common theme of inspiration for musicians, was perhaps a bit of a shout out to the Melbourne based rockers.
Altogether Ollie Brown is perhaps best described as Australia’s answer to John Mayer – minus the bigotry and arrogance. The lyrics are well written, instrumentally solid and performed exceptionally well. Ollie Brown makes for a very entertaining and relaxing listen.
With Ollie Brown having already released his debut 8 track EP ‘Moving On’ which you can download at iTunes, and having been announced to play Bluesfest later this year, I’m sure his days of playing free gigs are definitely numbered.
Chris Gillespie and supporting musicians Matt Luciano and Ben Hazlett (aka the Wandering Hands) are a Sydney threesome producing some very mellow Australian roots tunes and just released a new album ‘Unnatural Light’ last November.
With a title that reads like a dodgy newspaper article, I can understand why Chris Gillespie dropped the support band from their name since their last release. Luckily, despite the name change their sound is still as mellow as ever and the new album is simply awesome.
Lead singer Chris Gillespie delivers a great solo performance on the vocals throughout the album. His crisp clear voice is really easy to listen to, and the evident ‘occa’ twang adds some character that allows you to feel a bit more of a connection to the music. His lyrics are very realistic, mainly about the struggles of life, and with no disrespect are slightly depressing at times.
Instrumentally, the band keeps most tracks nice and simple, usually just some percussion and a guitar/mandolin and is more than effective. Having said that, they do mix it up with an awesome harmonica work, some finger clicking, and the impressive harmonies by Luciano and Hazlett. In fact, purely relating to the music, it reminds me a bit of the simple tracks that underpinned Hank Williams amazing voice only 70 years earlier.
‘Autumn Winds’ is the track that stands out the most to me. It also illustrates my point about the depressing lyrics about life’s difficulties, and manages to convey both the amazing harmonies by Luciano and Hazlett and the use of harmonica. The best thing about this song is the guitar work by Luciano, who plays a plucky enjoyable solo around the 1 minute mark before the harmonica kicks in for some support. Its just a simple and effective little number, that I can almost envision being used in advertising. Just a great chilled listen.
‘Unnatural Light’ is out now, and you can listen to it in full on their bandcamp page, or catch them live in the Blue Mountains next month.
The Black Catapult are a punk rock four piece from Brisbane that have already achieved much success in the music industry, being the only Australian Punk band to make the International Emergenza Grand Final . In addition the band also have the top three songs in the Triple J punk charts with ‘Get it Up’, ‘Just Like You’ and ‘Where it Ends’.
Whilst on the heavier side of what I usually listen to, Black Catapult have made a fan out of me, and I think this is largely due to their ability to ensure the rampaging drums played by Peter Hart don’t drown out the vocals of lead singer David Reynolds. In fact Reynolds vocals also deserve a special mention as they are actually enjoyable to listen to, compared to a lot of rock bands where the music is awesome, but the vocals let them down – a problem The Black Catapult don’t have.
Their most popular song, ‘Where it Ends’ has a sweet time change in the first 10 seconds, before delivering a fast paced, tight sound that with no disrespect shows shades of old school ‘Good Charlotte’ – before they married celebrities. At the same time, the band also shows metal influences with the screeching back-up vocals which definitely adds some aggression to the already energy laden track. The simple bass backs up the guitar and drum work well, with the vocals (as I mentioned) not being overpowered at all.
Whilst you might not have heard of The Black Catapult yet (they haven’t received any airplay on Triple J – probably because they are not hipster enough), their plans to return to the recording studio in 2012 and push out a new album is definitely going to increase their presence in the Aussie music scene. So watch out and rock on…
Cub Scouts are an energetic Brisbane 5 piece that have received some airplay for ‘Evie’ and are sure to be blazing the airwaves around the country when their EP drops later this year.
‘Evie’ is both the Cub Scouts first single and preview to their upcoming EP to be released in this half of 2012. It combines well characterised lighthearted indie-pop with some rather novel steel drums to create a real calypso sound that helps to distinguish the Cub Scouts from the plethora of indie pop bands coming out of everywhere. The song lyrically appears to be of the stalkerish ‘I like this girl, she doesn’t know me’ theme, with phrases such as the opening line “I know a girl who is a puzzle of a thousand pieces” illustrating the point. However in a humourous twist the song is actually inspired by a dog called Evie, which is the title picture – courtesy of pianist and lead singer Tim Nelson via twitter (Follow us @aussieplaylist and @cubscoutsmusic).
The best bit is that you can download ‘Evie’ for FREE at their bandcamp page, such generous people.
With the Cub Scouts rocking the steel drums better than any other band, I can’t wait to hear their latest installment when their EP drops. I will keep you all up to date on the new releases page. Until then enjoy the video below and check out some of their other youtube covers.
West Australian six-piece ‘Ruby Boots’ definately have a unique sound, one that I haven’t heard in the Australian music scene before and released their second EP ‘At Last’ in October 2011, a follow up to their self titled debut EP released one year earlier.
They describe their sound as “Knee Slappin, Toe Tappin’, Heart Pumpin’ music you’d dance to with your Mum” and they definitely got the first part right, as for dancing with your mum I’m not to sure.
The music sounds like its out of a western and whilst I love its sound, in all honesty would probably be best appreciated when played in a saloon. Whilst the fast paced drums and the plucky banjo provide a great country vibe, it is the angelic vocals of Bex Chilcot that really makes the song so good to listen to. This point is demonstrated perfectly in their track ‘Devil’ which is an absolute ripper of a tune, mixing Chilcot’s vocals, pacey percussion and banjo plucks with the soft strums of the acoustic guitar.
The other great thing about this song, and all of Ruby Boots tracks in general, is that unlike most western/country music which tends to whine and be quite melancholy, their songs are so aggressive and upbeat. Even the more subdued ‘Wise Up’, maintains the energy with the heavy drumming and Chilcot’s vocals which simply put, sound as though she is enjoying herself.
With the band announcing on twitter that they intend to tour the USA during the Australian winter, the chance to visit Nashville, Tennessee and play in a legitimate saloon may not be far away. Until then ‘Ruby Boots’ will continue to work on new tracks and light up the blues/roots circuit in WA.
Despite only released a debut EP in 2010, Melbourne band Red Ink have already established themselves on the Australian music scene with their electrifying rock and scintillating live performances.
Whilst the band has been criticised for citing “Melbourne’s street violence” as an inspiration/influence in some of their music, it is easy to see the effect this theme has had on their music. Red Ink deliver a tough, loud and confident rock sound that feels reminiscent of a warning signal to stay away. Yet the music is not just a rambling of drums and guitars, being well organised and combined with the vocals of John Jakubenko, delivers an awesome and somewhat catchy sound.
Their breakthrough single in 2010 ‘Battlescars’, epitomises the bands tough feel and confidence whilst being a great listen. It has a catchy as hell chorus with some good hi-hat work by drummer Aaron Sim, a solid guitar hook by Brendan Jones, and the aggressive vocals of Jakubenko mixing so well. The other thing I love about this track is the large bass presence, particularly between the choruses which is able to both diffuse the last chorus and provide a platform to leap into the next one.
The good news is that Red Ink have announced the release of abother EP called ‘The Colour Age’ which comes out this March (All March releases can be found here). Pretty exciting stuff, and an album that I am sure will be infused with the same style of aggressive Aussie rock. I cannot wait to listen to it!