Category Archives: NEW MUSIC

In The Pines: A Whole Lotta Catching Up To Do

ImageSweet, sweet neglected blog, how I’ve missed you! I know, I know, I have been terribly absent this year, despite the fact that the show has continued to air every week on FBi 94.5. Now that we have hit June (without a single post…eek…) I am making a mid-year resolution to get back to writing more, so here is the first of (hopefully) many posts about new music and program highlights.

First things first, in case you didn’t know – FBi now has STREAMING ON DEMAND. 

This means that you can listen to In The Pines whenever you want. It’s a huge and exciting step forward for the station. You can listen to the program here. Without forcing you to make an extended trek through the archives, let me tell you it’s been a super busy year. Our international studio guests have included Nashville legend Jim Lauderdale, Canadian harmonisers Madison Violet and UK five-piece AHAB. Ex-pat guests Audrey Auld and Fiona McBain (Ollabelle) have also joined the show, with Ms Auld contributing to an incredible International Womens’ Day special. We have also been joined by local artists Suzy Connolly, The Falls, Jack Carty and Liz Martin. All of these shows are there in the archives. Go check ’em out.

Secondly, In The Pines has a facebook page. 

If social networking/ procrastinating is your thing, join us on Zuckerbook. The In The Pines page is regularly updated with the latest info on program special guests, touring artists and retro videos I obsess over and feel the need to share (More vintage Linda Ronstadt anyone?)

Thirdly, tomorrow night’s show is going to be AMAZING. 

Earlier this year, Australian music lost a true legend: Jimmy Little. This Tuesday I have invited Jimmy’s friend and collaborator Brendan Gallagher (Karma County) to share stories and the musical history of Jimmy’s life from late 1950s onwards. Jimmy Little was the first indigenous Australian to have a number one single, 1963’s ‘Royal Telephone’. He was a wonderful singer, inspirational musician and was also an ambassador for Aboriginal culture and health. In The Pines tomorrow night will be dedicated entirely to celebrating his life and contribution to Australian music. Tune in.

xxx Emma xxx

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Beat the Drum: Americana adventures at triple j

Last week I had a great surprise. No, I didn’t win Lotto or wake up with the sudden ability to tap-dance. Fingers crossed those surprises are still to come. But I was asked to guest program an alt-country special for triple j’s Roots N All program. Going to air every Thursday night from 10pm, Roots N All is a three-hour specialist program that is broadcast nationally. It was a huge honour to be asked to host the show and putting it all together was a blast, so big love to the wonderful folk at triple j who made it happen and also to all the listeners who tuned in on the night.

If you missed the show, you can stream it here up until this Thursday July 28.

Additionally, you can also check out the playlist on triple j’s website.

Some highlights from the show included brand new music from Wilco, Dawes, Vetiver, Those Darlins and Tiny Ruins. I also played some old favourites like Ryan Adams and Silver Jews, country covers legends The Pigs reworking Beyonce and two songs with ‘Motherfucker’ in the title. Good times.


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The Very Thought Of Yesteryear: Gregory Page joins In The Pines

Born in London in 1963 and coming of age in the United States in the late 1970s, Gregory Page, against all generational odds, is an old-school style crooner with a tender fascination for the music of the 1930s. With bittersweet lyrics and melodies drenched in nostalgia, Page’s songs pay loving homage to his musical heroes: dance hall favourites and jazz legends like Cole Porter and Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong, Harold Arlen and Al Bowlly.

He joined me on Pines recently to chat about his Australian tour, play some live music and soak the program in sepia. Stream away.

Gregory Page’s latest album is called My True Love and you can pick it up here.

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I’ve Loved Dolly Just As Long As You Have: Unpacking The Pines, June 7

Just when I thought I’d blogged my last about Dolly Parton, everyone’s favourite Tennessee mountain blonde decided she would do the almost unimaginable and tour Australia for the first time in 30 years. And so, just quietly, tenderly and in the most dignified way possible… I’VE BEEN GOING CRAZY WITH EXCITEMENT. Folks who’ve seen my strange collection of Dolly stuff will know that I am a huge fan. I’ve got the Playboy issue with her on the cover, I’ve got the Dolly doll, I’ve got pictures of her in frames on my wall and I have even decided to revoke my long-term philosophy on marriage (not really my thing/ don’t believe in it/might be getting too old to go to my grave married as many times as Liz Taylor so what’s the fucking point) for the suitor who proposes with/ already owns one of these:

I know, I know, my claims to sanity are getting more and more dubious… With the upcoming tour weighing heavily on my mind, there was never any doubt that tonight’s In The Pines would have a Dolly flavour. We heard: Dolly and Porter Wagoner’s I’ve Been Married Just As Long As You Have, Justin Townes Earle and Dawn Landes’ excellent cover of Do I Ever Cross Your Mind? and Allison Moorer’s re-working of Light Of A Clear Blue Morning which was released back in 2003 on the Parton tribute record Just Because I’m A Woman.

Dolly is playing shows across Australia in November and tickets will be available through the good people at Chugg Entertainment on June 20.

I promise not to play anymore Parton for a while now… Maybe… Probably… Perhaps… No really, the point of the program is to play brand new tunes of the Americana/folk/alt-country persuasion and if you tuned in tonight then you will know that against all odds I did manage that brief. Here are some highlights.

Thurston Moore, ‘Benediction’

Sonic Youth frontman goes acoustic on his Beck produced solo record Demolished Thoughts.

Jessica Lea Mayfield, ‘I’ll Be The One That You Want Someday’

I’ve already spun the single from JLM’s second LP Tell Me twice this year so tonight we had an album track.

If you’re not over ‘Our Hearts Are Wrong’ (and why would you be, it’s perfect) here’s a link to the Letterman performance from a few months back.

Dawes, ‘If I Wanted Someone’

California’s Dawes released their much-anticipated sophomore album Nothing Is Wrong today. I played the album version of ‘If I Wanted Someone’, which is golden and glorious can be downloaded here. I must have listened to it forty times today. When I finally stopped, I revisited it acoustic.

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Over & Out, Autumn: Post Pines May 31st

The Cowboy & The Lady

Walking home in the pissing rain last night it felt strange to think that we hadn’t yet reached winter in Sydney. My cowboy boots have been soaked for days. My hair has been a windswept mess for weeks. A recent trip to Canada’s East Coast prepped me for the unseasonable autumn cold, though my uniform of floral dresses and opaques and not much else would suggest otherwise. My drinking habits have been more of a revelation. I haven’t drunk white wine for almost a month. It’s strictly red wine and dark ales and cinnamon whiskey. And listening habits… well, here’s at look at what has leaked across the airwaves.

This week on Pines we explored the very new and the very old and a few songs in-between. Aside from brief sixties flirtations via Lee Hazlewood and Anne-Margret, the nostalgia fest of last week (on account of Bob Dylan’s birthday) was mostly swept aside for more contemporary sounds. And so it was that we slow-danced into the program with one of the more pensive tracks from New Orleans based Hurray For The Riff’s ‘I Know You’. It’s an album track and therefore impossible to find online but if you want a taster of the their sound, try this on for size:

Hurray For The Riff Raff, Too Much Of A Good Thing

From perhaps the best kept secret in Louisiana onto a band who are more or less the most popular folkies on the planet, Fleet Foxes. All beards, all harmonies, all the time. Here is their recent performance on Jools Holland. Check out Robin Pecknold’s sweet Gibson. I don’t care how cute they all are, it’s the guitar I’m lusting about.

The latest offering from sisters/brother trio Kitty, Daisy & Lewis helped to break up what was close to becoming an overly earnest program. The trio wooed Australian audiences in January and are set to be back here a little later this year following the release of their latest album, Smoking In Heaven.

But… never one to stay with upbeat sounds for too long, we also heard an old mournful favourite from the fantastic Gillian Welch in the form of ‘ Time (The Revelator)’. I had the fear that her contribution to The Decemberists single ‘Down By The Water’ might be her only foray into new sounds for 2011, however, it’s been confirmed that Welch will release a new album on June 28. The album is called ‘The Harrow & The Harvest’. I’m pretty much counting down the days.

I haven’t been able to play this next song on Pines on account of it never having been officially released, but if you’re a Gillian fan and you haven’t heard ‘Throw Me A Rope/ The Way It Would Be’ prepare for some achin’ and breakin’. Complete with a Townes Van Zandt mention at the end…

And that pretty much wrapped it. However it must be said, although I only played Lee Hazlewood and Ann Margret’s spectacular ‘You Turned My Head Around’ once, I must have thought about it a thousand times this past week. So in love.

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Unpacking the Pines: May 24, 2011

Soon, soon, very soon FBi Radio will have the ability to stream content ‘on demand’. For listeners, it’s an exciting development because it means that if you miss an episode of In The Pines you will be able to stream it at your leisure whenever you get the yearning for some americana/alt-country/folk/sadcore goodness. For broadcasters, it’s exciting too because it means that what once used to disappear into the airwaves gets to live on. That makes it a little bit terrifying too. Mistakes on demand! Flirtations with guests on demand! Accidental swearing on demand! The joys of live radio. What the hell, I’m looking forward to it.

In the meantime however, if you missed the show all I can offer up is the playlist and a re-cap of some of the highlights. So without further ado….


Bob Dylan’s milestone 70th birthday was all over print, online and radio this week and Pines was no different. I started the show with ‘I Threw It All Away’, later played ‘One Of Us Must Know’ (Sooner Or Later) and also shared Micah P. Hinson’s version of ‘The Times They Are A-Changin’ from his excellent covers album All Dressed Up And Smelling Of Strangers. Cat Power’s bittersweet hymn to her hero, ‘Song To Bobby’ rounded out the birthday celebrations. After the show, I managed to muster a few thoughts on Dylan for the blog, so if you’re interested you can check it out here.


For those who have exhausted all possible plays of 2008’s beautiful For Emma, Forever Ago and it’s all too brief follow-up Blood Bank , there is much joy to be had in the knowledge that a new release from Justin Vernon is just around the corner. Due for release on June 20, early reports suggest the sophomore effort Bon Iver, Bon Iver is an extension of the first album but with sporadic bursts of electronic experimentation. I played the first single ‘Calgary’ on the show this week and also directed listeners towards this recent appearance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon in the US.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love Justin Vernon’s voice… But his marriage of early 90’s Bonnie Raitt with Leon Russell’s ‘A Song For You’ doesn’t leave me aching for more and I kind of wish he’d performed one of his own songs. Why does it disappoint me so? In unabridged versions of the Russell classic, there’s a line Listen to the melody/ ‘Cause my love is in their hiding . I must have marvelled over its simple beauty a thousand times. To my ears, Vernon hides nothing. Check out this Willie Nelson video here if you’re interested something more subtle.

And if you want to hear Bon Iver doing what Bon Iver do best, you can download ‘Calgary’ here.


I’m a big believer that almost every song could be improved with a little more twang. As such, I’m pleased to say that the ethereal voiced Boston-based folk singer Marissa Nadler has taken that route with her latest single ‘The Sun Always Reminds Me Of You’. The demo version of the song has been doing the rounds for about six months but with her self-titled album due for release next month, we now have the legit version, complete with loads of pedal steel.

And to round things up, a promise I’m bound to regret…

I would be the first to admit that become a bit of a broken record with my on-air adoration of Bill Callahan in recent months, so on Tuesday I committed to taking a break from playing tunes from his latest release Apocalypse for at least a little while. If you haven’t gone out bought the album yet, I will no longer urge you to do so. I will save my adjectives and adorations for other artists and other LPs. But as I’m heaping praise on other tunes, I’m sure if you listen closely, in the silent seconds you will hear something like “It’s good but it’s not ‘Riding For The Feeling’.”

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In The Pines reviewed with added unnecessary anecdotes…

Yesterday on the walk home from the office, my office, which bears an uncanny resemblance to The Office, I had the iPod blaring and not a care in the world. So carefree was I that at some point on the homeward trail I lost all sense of time and place and found myself belting Bruce Springsteen’s Prove It All Night as I powered up the hill toward Erskineville Road, proving nothing really except that I can walk and sing simultaneously. In an ever-so-slight embarrassment, some guy at the lights made some comment I couldn’t quite catch and I quickly realised that I’d been putting on an impromptu neighbourhood concert. Prove It All Night? Really? I should have known that one would get out of hand. Went home pretty red-faced and forgot about it. Until the lights guy revealed himself today at work.

Co-worker: “You know Emma, that was some pretty good singing on the street yesterday…”
Me: “Oh dear…” (Note to self: when you think you might be singing in public without realising and in the presence of co-workers, try to choose something less primal)

Baby, tie your hair back in a long white bow /Meet me in the fields out behind the dynamo

I have theory about singing and fucking but I’m not going to write it here. It’s something I only share with other singers. Email me if you really want to know. I might tell you. But I probably won’t. And that ends this week’s confession. Now, to this week’s radio program.

In The Pines tonight was a much more wholesome affair than my opening paragraphs might suggest. I was joined in the studio by Adam Gibson from Sydney band, The Aerial Maps. The band blends indie folk instrumentation with spoken word poetry. It’s a unique sound that recalls themes of classic Australian bands like The Triffids and Weddings Parties Anything, except that the extended use of poetry lends the songs a more narrative impulse. If you caught the interview and you liked it, be sure to catch The Aerial Maps this Saturday night at The Basement in Circular Quay for the Popboomerang Records label night. They will be playing alongside The Bon Scotts, Russell Crawford and more.


I resisted the urge to play two tracks from the new Emmylou Harris album and instead opted to go with the title track ‘Hard Bargain’, which was penned by the criminally under-rated Ron Sexsmith and originally released on his 2004 album Retriever. Once again, Harris has proved herself to be a masterful interpreter of song, bringing her trademark ache and subtle genius to every phrase. If you are wondering what I’m getting at here, get the album and listen closely for the variations on the way ‘hard bargain’ is sung and you’re more than half way there. Because it’s so new, the song isn’t on youtube for me to share, so I guess the blog is going to for the two-song option tonight.

Here is Hard Bargain performed at the Bowery Ballroom in New York last week:

And here is ‘Darling Kate’, the beautiful tribute Emmylou penned in honour of her friend and collaborator Kate McGarrigle, which also features on the album:

After seeing Emmylou Harris in Sydney earlier this year at the State Theatre and reviewing the show for FBi, I feel like I might have used up all the adjectives I could possibly adorn her with so I will restrain myself from writing anymore here. At least for this week. If you caught those January shows and you want to relive it, or if you’re the self-punishing ‘what have I missed?!’ kind, the review is on The Flog.

Other highlights from tonight’s show included new music from Grey Reverend (Brooklyn), Anabelle Kay (Oklahoma via the Central Coast!) and Alela Diane & Wild Divine (Portland).

And as promised last week, we heard more from two of this year’s stand-out releases, Steve Earle’s I’ll Never Get Out Of This World Alive and Bill Callahan’s Apocalypse.

Last but not least, since Mother’s Day is just around the corner, I managed to sneak in the Paul Kelly classic ‘When I First Met Your Ma’ to close the show:

It worked on two equally pleasing levels for me: perfectly timed cheesy gesture and also, PK happens to be my Ma’s favourite singer. But more on that later. I hope you’re getting your parental music this Hallmark holiday.


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Eternal Return: I Still Call FBi Home

With my recent trip to Canada and the United States done and dusted, and my epic jet lag almost entirely over, it’s time to return to the blog and catch up on a few thoughts I’ve been too tired/ hung over/ lazy to write down over the past few days. Without going into too much travel narrative, let’s just say that the pull of North America remains strong. Every time I go I find new things to fall for. In Canada, it was the cherry blossoms in Vancouver in the spring, the impossibly cool French chic of the good citizens of Montreal and the quaint beauty of Charlottetown, a place where the homes look like doll houses and the cobbled streets recall a time and a place where it would have been totally appropriate for me to dress like this:

In New York, on my third trip there in as many years, it was the grandeur of it all coupled with the small things… I’m just as thrilled and humbled and awed in front of the Dylan Thomas plaque outside the Chelsea Hotel as I am in front of a cheeseburger and tater tots at the The Trailer Park Lounge across the road. I know, I know, I know, I know, I know. There is poetry in everything. Even the deep-fried.

Though they sink through the sea they shall rise again;
Though lovers be lost love shall not
And death shall have no dominion

All up, I covered four cities in fifteen days and only the ghost of Gary Stewart would know how much alcohol I consumed in that time. But I am back in Sydney now and back to the task at hand: In The Pines. In a few weeks time I will be presenting two Canadian music specials on FBi focussing on some of the great music I uncovered on my many nights out. This week however, was just a chance to be back at home behind the microphone, over-sharing a little and playing some of the great new music that has been released over the past few weeks. And so, without further ado…

Bill Callahan, America!

The artist formerly known as Smog has released Apocalypse, the third studio album under his real name. Perhaps not for the faint of heart or the first-time Callahan listener, the record is a seven song Expressionist masterpiece loosely based on the idea of a cattle driver moving through the ‘wild, wild country’. I can see why those who loved the swirling, painterly beauty of 2009’s Sometimes I Wish I Were An Eagle might struggle with this latest effort from the lanky King of Lo-Fi. And yet I am enraptured by it, constantly returning for repeated listens, marvelling at his ability to oscillate between softly sung meditations on the self to rousing recollections of what makes his homeland so great and grand and yet so flawed.

Josh T. Pearson, Sweetheart I Ain’t Your Christ

I’m not so sure that artfully crafted seven song albums will be an ongoing theme for 2011, however, this week we managed to make that seem so. Last Of The Country Gentlemen is the long-awaited debut from Josh T. Pearson. It was released back in March and I don’t know why it took so long to get to FBi but I am thinking it was fortuitously timed to collide with the Easter long weekend just so I could play this track and marvel how much Josh T. Pearson gives off a Jesus vibe despite his declarations otherwise.

After the recent Fleet Foxes special we had on In The Pines a few weeks back I thought I might be well and truly over earnest sounding bearded men for the year but perhaps a few repeated listens to Last Of The Country Gentlemen will change my mind.

And last but not least…

Zoe Muth & The Lost High Rollers, If I Can’t Trust You With A Quarter

A woman after my own heart, Zoe Muth captures a problem felt all too often by music snobs across the globe: the despair and disappointment of realising the person you’ve been flirting with has terrible taste in tunes.

‘When I heard that jukebox start/ I knew that cupid’s dart had missed its mark/ If I can’t trust you with a quarter/ How can I trust you with my heart?’

Needless to say, I felt an immediate affinity with this track. Stream it here. And if the song hits you where it hits me, you buy the album Starlight Hotel here.

And because I know you only read this blog for tenuously related and somewhat dubious confessional asides, my cousin Kate tells me that if I’m to avoid a lifetime of rearing kittens on my own and watching re-runs of A Star Is Born while fantasising about slow dancing with a circa 1976 and preferably shirtless Kris Kristofferson, I really need to drop the music checklist that’s become a dating pre-requisite. But I could care less. And I’ve already named the cats just in case. Conway Kitty, Kitty Wells, Catsy Cline, Johnny Cat, June Carter-Cat and personal favourite, Tabby Wynette.

Oh dear. I think I’ve said enough. Tune into Pines on FBi 94.5 this Tuesday for an interview with Adam Gibson from The Aerial Maps about their soon-to-be released sophomore album, Sunset Park. And there will be new music from Emmylou Harris, more from the excellent Courtney Tidwell and Kurt Wagner collaboration ‘KORT’ and whatever else I happen to fancy. Most definitely that will include Steve Earle, Mark OlsOn and more. Over and out!

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Just Another Torrential Tuesday…

Actually, today was quite the perfect Sydney autumn special after yesterday’s overwhelming downpour. I sure hope you kept your thirst quenched and your feet dry in the manic Monday rain. Me? Well I’m still recovering from this cursed cold that’s been keeping me down. Contrary to popular belief, epic use of whiskey only works wonders when you’re intoxicated. And to think it was only a month ago I was blogging about my February detox!

If you caught tonight’s In The Pines, hopefully you heard the first half of the program, which featured the lovely sounds of San Diego crooner Gregory Page. He is in Sydney after playing the super drenched but wonderful Blue Mountains Folk Festival on the weekend. I will endeavour to get the interview up online as a stream shortly but for now I can tell you that we discussed Al Bowlly, songwriting in Hyde Park and retro microphones.

You can catch Gregory Page at the soon to be closed Raval this Wednesday March 23 and at the Shire’s finest music venue, The Brass Monkey on Thursday.

Also featured on tonight’s show was another of the highlights from the Blue Mountains Folk Festival, Frank Yamma. Frank’s debut album is called Country Man and has just been released by Wantok Musik. His voice is golden. Soak it up.

And we heard from Middle Brother (that’s two weeks in a row, this could get dangerous) and revisited one of this year’s more experimental folk albums, Destroyer’s Kaputt. Good times.

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Achoo! Achoo! You’re listening to FBi radio

I’ve been hit with the dreaded cold. Not enough to keep me away from work, radio, gigs or hard liquor but enough to keep my pockets stuffed with tissues and enough to keep me sneezing through the night. It’s true I’m probably in need of some rest, rejuvenation and top-quality pharmaceuticals. But in the absence of all three possibilities at this second in time, I’ll happily dose up on meds of the musical variety. How convenient then that ‘Codeine’ is the new single from Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit!

If you were listening to In The Pines tonight you will have heard me give ‘Codeine’ a big wrap. And I won’t hesitate to write it down and thereby put it on the record, it’s my pick for the best song of 2011 thus far. Not only because I love the quality of Isbell’s voice (the half-rasp, the mix of hurt and tenderness, the subtle way the word ‘hate’ is sung sad rather than angry) but also because the lyrics are damn fine.

Some highlights:

‘If there’s one thing I can’t stand / It’s this bar and this cover band/ Trying to fake their way through ‘Castles Made of Sand’/ Well that’s one I can’t stand’

‘If there’s two things that I hate/ It’s having to cook and trying to date/ And busting ass all day to play hurry up and wait/ That’s a few things that I hate’

The single is from the upcoming album Here We Rest and is currently available as a free download from Lightning Rod Records. Or you can have a listen here:

Other highlights from tonight’s program included a live performance from Sydney songwriter Bryan Estepa, who is launching his third record at the Annandale Hotel on Thursday night.

Bryan played ‘First Impressions’ from the album and also gave us a tear-jerking cover of the Danny Whitten classic ‘I Don’t Want To Talk About It’.

And I also played new music from Baltimore’s Wye Oak, The Low Anthem and gave y’all a taste of the J. Mascis’ solo debut, Several Shades Of Why.

Good times, not so classic hits.

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