Category Archives: OPINION

Mid-week Mixtape: Piers Twomey

This week’s mixtape has been lovingly put together by Sydney songwriter Piers Twomey. Piers’ sophisticated new album of modern folk – Strange Advice – has seen him likened to Kings Of Convenience and Grand Salvo. He has performed alongside Preston School of Industry, Ben Sollee, Krystle Warren, Dappled Cities and Jack Ladder. This week, as well as sharing these lovely songs with us, Piers is performing at ‘Don’t Think Twice’ a new folk music night presented by Timber & Steel from 6pm on Sunday at the Annandale Hotel.

Go along to the gig and check him out! And check out Piers’ brand new video for ‘Mountain Song’, which has just been updloaded here.

Bill Callahan – The Wind and the Dove

I think listening a lot to Bill, who was once Smog, has taught me not to be overly self-conscious about whether I sing “correctly”. His lovely, deep, rich voice is just perfect to my ears, though I imagine some first-time listeners would find his deadpan delivery a little lacking. This song is a quiet, personal, complex and unassuming little “relationship” number from Bill’s Sometimes I Wish I Were An Eagle album from a few years ago. I think it slipped under the radar a little bit to be honest, but most Bill fans I’ve come across cherish the album with its curious folk and soft-rock with string section production! The man is certainly adored far and wide, and I do think he’s one of the greatest living songwriters. What about this line from the same album?

Love is the king of the beasts
and when it gets hungry
it must kill to eat.


Ryan Adams – She Wants To Play Hearts

First off, I’m not really the hugest Ryan Adams fan (sorry to those who are!) But, at a friend’s house a few years ago, this song sort of stopped me in my tracks. It makes me feel nostalgic, and reminds me of listening to those warm Don Maclean ballads when I was a kid from my parent’s record collection. Somehow, it reminds me of Don’s version of Roy Orbison’s ‘Crying’ – one of the all time songs, I think it’s the tempo… anyway. I love the bare minimum arrangement and super intimate but very unaffected vocal and the way his natural vibrato rings out the emotion from every note. I think I like my Ryan Adams heartbroken and confused. So thank you Ryan – even if just for this song.

Red House Painters – Have You Forgotten

OK, well, more wistfulness here. I only heard this a year or two back, but it reminds me of living in New England in America as a teenager for three years with my family, with that weird new-person isolation, the huge seasonal changes, beautiful forests, eventually making close friends, crushes and kisses… and
all that kind of normal stuff. Mark Kozelek’s voice is just one of those instantly haunting and heart- aching things – no pretensions, it just is. Like many of Mark’s songs, this seems to be very nostalgic as he looks back on the simplicity of his own childhood and remembers Spring and October autumns and the
magic of looking out the window at “frozen farmhouse landscapes” at Christmas time. But I think there is something even stronger here, something to do with the purest kind of love and something about healing. Who is he speaking to when he asks “When you’re older your heart turns to ice… have you forgotten how to love yourself?” My guess is the question is directed straight at himself.

The Strokes – Hard To Explain

Alright enough melancholy! When it’s time to jump around – this is one of my favourite ways to do it. The way this somewhat bratty track effortlessly cruises along busting out a simple beat, slinky guitar riffs and crazy good vocal melodies like that’s the easiest thing in the world to do… well, it just blows me away. Of course Julian Casablancas is an alluring gentleman and that helps; his lazy voice drips graceful cool without even trying, and that high vocal he hits a couple of times (“was an honest man!”) in the song plus the “I don’t see it that way” hook, well it makes the whole thing 3:48 of guitar pop perfection. I once heard a really great 50’s style rockabilly guitarist exclaim, “This isn’t music!” about the lo-fi sounding ‘Hard To Explain’. When he was a kid, I’m sure his parents said the same thing about Little Richard.

Grand Salvo – Bend In The River

No rest for the wicked, so it’s back to the broken and bruised! Australia’s own Paddy Mann, aka Grand Salvo is a huge favourite of mine. When I first started listening to his albums – again on a vocal level – I was stunned by the simplicity and the softness of his delivery. Of course Paddy is a stunning lyricist, story-teller and musician, and uniquely Australian too – I actually think of him as a bush poet who loves acoustic and orchestral instruments. His arrangements and melodies seem perfectly formed to me, like if it were somehow up to me, I wouldn’t touch a thing, I’d keep everything exactly as it is. I saw a short interview online today where Paddy described his music with a smile as, “slightly depressing folk music” which is spot on I guess. This song from one of his earlier albums I included as it was the first Grand Salvo song I ever heard – and it affected me greatly. Seek it out and give it a go – it’s hopelessly beautiful, sad and romantic.


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Mid-week Mixtape Redux: Jack Carty

One of the great delights of hosting a radio program like In The Pines is that I get to talk with a lot of musicians about their craft, as well as find out what songs/ artists/ albums make them tick. As a lifelong sufferer of Obsessive Compulsive Song Disorder (that would be – the repeated listening to one song over and over and over and over, so as to get inside and know it and breathe it) I am fascinated to learn the songs that other songwriters have an enduring affection for. With that in mind, I’m reviving a long forgotten but much loved section of the blog that asks songwriters to write about five of their favourite tunes: The Mid-week Mixtape. 
Our first contributor is an impressive young troubadour from Sydney, Australia: Jack Carty. He writes beautiful,  thoughtful folk songs with the slightest hint of country thrown in for good measure. His latest album, Break Your Own Heart is, literally, a heartbreaker. 
Here is Jack performing the album’s title track:
And here is the mix he kindly put together for In The Pines this week. Cue heartbreak (again). 
The Predatory Wasp Of The Palisades Is Out To Get Us! – Sufjan Stevens
I can’t even remember how I found out about Sufjan Stevens. But it was sometime in 2008 or early 2009 and I remember listening to the album Illinois every time I could for the next year solid. I love the instrumentation and the epic scope of the arrangements. It’s bombastic but still classy and so full of feeling. I don’t think there is anywhere on the record that this is is better exhibited than right here… Gotta love the counterpoint.
Left & Leaving – The Weakerthans.
I first heard this song on a live album recorded at The Burton Cummings Theatre in their home town of Winnepeg, Manitoba. It has one of the most biting lyrics I have ever heard and John K Samson’s voice always sounds really sincere to me. He uses amazing imagery to describe his inner and outer environment in a really engaging and moving way. It’s so sad, but so resigned… “I wait in four/four time, count yellow highway lines, that you’re relying on to lead you home” – that line has swum around in my head for days at a time.
Gillian Welch – Wrecking Ball
I love pretty much everything Gillian Welch does. This track has so much attitude (from the sloppily played drums and fuzzbox guitars to the scratchy fiddle soloing in the right channel throughout its entirety) that it would be cool even if it didn’t have one of the best journey(wo)man lyrics I ever heard. She makes it sound easy, like she isn’t even trying, it’d almost be frustrating if it wasn’t so good.
Elliott Smith – Pitseleh
I love the way this song is simultaneously filled with so much sadness and so much love. It drips with doubt, loneliness, pain and an honest, quiet, beautiful affection. I have always loved the way Elliott seems to play the guitar like you would a piano, with a heavy emphasis on a constantly moving and repeated “bass line”  underneath delicate ornamentations on the higher strings. It seems to lend a timeless, almost baroque feel to an already gorgeously timeless and moving sentiment. This song has helped me through a lot.
Bright Eyes – Classic Cars
Connor Oberst’s ultra poetic turn of phrase, Mike Mogis’ guitar flourishes, a rad bass line, Hammond organ, honky-tonk piano, a great story, some questionable backing vocals and most of all those buildups in the chorus! The first time I heard this I listened to it 5 times in a row, the opening stanza of the opening verse had me hooked. It is delicate, angry, political, upbeat and incredibly deep all at once. It’s a classic, man.

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From The Vault: Country Music Confessionals

Next year marks my 10th anniversary with what has become a full blown love affair with twang music. It started as a crush, I swear. I’m currently working on a long form piece about the albums that came out in 2002 that sent me down the wayward path towards three chords and the truth, but in the meantime, here is something I first published as a response to the Kasey Chambers album ‘Barricades and Brickwalls’ when I was editing Sydney University’s student paper Honi Soit. I later re-worked it into this format (as in, I edited out the album review and wrote strictly memoir) for the lovely gals at Frankie magazine.

Obviously I’ve come a long way since the article was first published, in terms of what I’m listening to and loving and other things as well. Writing this from the United States (where I am hastily typing in a pink cashmere sweater and my underwear) it should be noted that the music that I love would only really be described as Americana here (check it, it’s in the dictionary) though in Australia we still have so far to come in terms of creating a definitive definition and so I have kept the ‘country’ in. Happy reading.


Flannel shirts, failed romance, heartache, heartbreak and sad, sad songs. I might live to regret putting this in print, but I have a confession to make… I like country music.

I know it isn’t fashionable. Country is just about the daggiest style of music an otherwise self-respecting young woman could have chosen to embrace. It’s tragic – like being a 24 year-old collector of Tupperware or VIP customer at Copperart. It’s the soundtrack of choice for dingy American diners and dimly lit highway truck stops. It doesn’t have the brazen rebelliousness of punk, or the art school precociousness of indie rock or the forthright sexuality of pop. The genre is defined by the nasal twang of the singer and slow walking swagger of the band. It’s country music – it’s about loneliness, loss, and line dancing. And I like it.

My music tastes have not always been this way. I have not always been a fan. I used to be one of those cynical cool kids who thought that country music, littered with hideously sequined Tammy Wynette clones and silver bearded Kenny Rogers types, was not for me. Sure I liked the bedazzlar, stone-wash denim and spiral perms as much as any child of the eighties, but I was never going to listen to Dolly Parton. No amount of Billy Ray Cyrus mulletude could make me trade ballet for boot scooting. For me, country music was always considered tacky and trashy. Even my parents – whose tastes included a passion for Australiana decor and home-made Jenny Kee knitwear – had the good sense to be fans of other musical genres.

As a kid, I spent most my childhood living in small rural areas, so most people make the assumption that it must have been the seventeen years I spent in towns without traffic lights that secured a love for country music. This is not the case. In my formative years I was a full-fledged pop fan with the Kylie Minogue cassingles and the ra-ra skirt to prove it. Growing up, the only hints of the country enthusiast within was a fairly well rehearsed cover version of the Alannah Myles song “Black Velvet” and a one time yodeling gig in my primary school eisteddfod where, armed with a hot head of freshly crimped hair and some seriously disturbing white patent leather cowboy boots, my attention seeking soul got the better of my good taste. Now, these are the embarrassing details of decidedly naff childhood, but they could belong to any performative ten-year old growing up in the early nineties.

No, this love for country music is something relatively new – something that didn’t hit me until my early twenties, when I started listening to the moderately successful new generation of artists now widely referred to under the sub-genre of “alternative country”. In the alt-country world performers like Ryan Adams, Jeff Tweedy and Lucinda Williams wooed their audiences with harrowing harmonicas and harmonies and tales of eternal heartbreak. They labelled themselves “country” but were a dark contrast to the more popular country stars like Shania Twain or Keith Urban. Archetypal alt-country bands like Wilco and Whiskeytown represented a seedier side to country – less spray tanned, less gaudy, more Neil Young than Nashville factory line.

And so I became a fan. And the more I listened to alt-country, the more I grew to accept other types of country. And the more I came to accept country music as a whole genre, the more I realised I had crossed a neon lit, barn dancing, gin swilling point of no return, signified by a proposed road trip to the Tamworth music festival and the needless ownership of three pairs of cowboy boots.

Perhaps it is because I now live in the city and the music is a nostalgic reminder of home – a place of open landscapes and dusty paddocks and tumbleweeds. Perhaps it is because I am steadfastly heading towards my mid-twenties and my taste has been blurred by the onset of premature wrinkles and a career crisis. Perhaps. I know on some level I could try to justify my love, try to defend the genre from accusations of hillbilliness, try to make it worthy, trendy, ironically cool. But I know in my heart, I cannot and do not want to. It’s country music – it’s music that by very definition is quintessentially uncool. And even though I am often embarrassed to admit it – I have to write it down… I like it.



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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A Night Without Gin or Chicken: Valentine’s Day Is Over

Ah, Valentine’s Day. A couple of months ago I blogged about a rather undignified February 14 a few years back that involved over-indulging on gin and chicken, recalling that it was probably the best Valentine’s I’d ever had. Perhaps disappointingly, perhaps unsurprisingly, as yet another February scrambles past the half-way point, I can assure you that the gin and chicken Valentine’s remains the best one yet. Which is not to say I didn’t have a lovely time yesterday. I did. But it was mostly unremarkable. I stayed true to my February detox (yawn), finished my book (next!) and took Archie the spaniel for a stroll down King Street.

Archie raced out into the night with his usual goofy enthusiasm, dragging me reluctantly behind in my less than glamorous stretch pants and Hall & Oates t-shirt combo. Making a cracking pace in the Carlisle-esque summer rain, we passed restaurant after restaurant, packed with couples young and old, cute and not-so-cute, making declarations of love over three course meals, moderately priced white wine and tasteful bunches of flowers.

It was sweet. It was heart-warming. It was kind of cheesy. I should have been hating every second of it. I should have been sorting a playlist of heartbreaking classics in my head to remind me of why I like being single. But who am I kidding? While I do like being single, I also like a bit of sap. My favourite movie (after Sex, Lies & Videotape) is Gone With The Wind. My favourite country song is ‘Always On My Mind’ and I’ve read way too much poetry to pretend I don’t care about romance.

Which is why, instead of compiling a list of tunes more fitting of my current ‘status’ (think Pernice Brothers ‘Not The Loving Kind’, Neko Case ‘Hold On, Hold On’ etc) I’ve put together some of my favourite duets for the blog this week. Some of them are by real couples and some of them are by mere singing partners… but they’re all good. And they all make me wish I could teach Archie to bark in tune.

Waylon Jennings & Cheryl Ladd – Mama Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys

He was an outlaw. She was one of Charlie’s Angels. The dialogue at the beginning of this video makes it pretty much my favourite clip on the internet.

Waylon Jennings & Jessi Colter – Storms Never Last

If I were Jessi Colter and I’d been side of stage to witness Waylon’s outrageous flirtation with Cheryl Ladd in the previous clip, I’d have created a mighty big fuss. And then looked at what a dreamboat he is and gotten over it. Storms never last.

Rita Coolidge & Kris Kristofferson – Help Me Make It Through The Night

If he’s not standing impossibly close with an open neck navy shirt and a look of total adoration, he’s just not that into you. I take back what I said about Cheryl & Waylon. This is my favourite clip on the internet.

June Carter & Johnny Cash – Jackson

It would be plain wrong to document country duets without Johnny and June. You’ve seen the movie. Enough said.

Linda Ronstadt and Hoyt Axton – Lion In The Winter

I love this song. I love Hoyt’s awkward arm over Linda’s shoulder. I love the way she sings ‘ca-all’. Consider yourselves lucky I love y’all enough to spare you Aaron Neville.

Donovan & Crystal Gayle – Catch The Wind

Just because I’ve spared you Aaron Neville, it doesn’t mean I’m going to spare you a dose of Donovan. This video is worth it for Crystal Gayle’s hair alone. I would tell you this is as sappy as it’s going to get but there’s still a Kenny Rogers video to come.

Conway Twitty & Loretta Lynn – You’re The Reason Our Kids Are Ugly

Unfortunately there’s no video for this one. But I really like the ugly pink jacket Conway is wearing on the vinyl that has been used as the graphic. And teamed a white skivvy! I think we all know the reason the ‘kids’ have terrible dress sense.

Sheena Easton & Kenny Rogers – We’ve Got Tonight

I know it seems like a glaring omission to leave out Dolly & Kenny’s ‘Islands In The Stream’ but I have blogged about it before, and it doesn’t feature a creepy/cringeworthy/awesome bit of play acting from Kenny that comes across as him pressuring a young Scottish pop star to start a family.

Happy February 15 everybody xxx

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Mid-week Mixtape with Johnny Took

You know something that bugs me about living in Australia? We have many, many great bands but not nearly enough troubadours. Going out on your lonesome, writing songs and then getting on stage and playing them bare bones style just doesn’t seem to be the done thing. More often than not, it feels like everyone wants to be in a band. Which is fine. But sometimes I get a craving for something a little more raw. Which is why I am a big fan of this week’s Mid-week Mixtape contributor Johnny Took.

I first came across Johnny when his demo cd arrived at FBi in early 2010. Back then, I’d just started hosting In The Pines and was thrilled to hear such a young voice singing such old school heartache. And now I’m equally thrilled to say that some twelve months on he has released Built For Destruction, a five track e.p. that shows off his lovely voice, tender lyrics and mature approach to songwriting. You can check out some of the tracks from here. In the meantime, check out some of Johnny’s influences below.

Little River – Tallest Man On Earth

I think this guy is great. He records his music by himself in a log cabin in Sweden. This song like all his recordings have great guitar tunings, clever lyrics, simple but cohesive chord changes, a unique voice and is an amazing guitar player. I picked this song in particular because of the melodic hook in the chorus. I could put this song on repeat for a long time because I hear something new every time I hear it.

Long Time Coming – Bruce Springsteen

Springsteen played this with just an acoustic guitar in an interview in his apartment which came with the CD. It’s off his 2005 album Devils and Dust which consists of real simple songs with great stories. I love that with his age his songwriting keeps getting better.

Way Over Yonder in the Minor Key – Billy Bragg, Wilco & Natalie Merchant

This whole Mermaid Avenue sessions album were based on Woody Guthrie lyrics that were found by his daughter Nora Guthrie. They were gives to Bragg and Wilco to write music and record with. Great lyrics, great harmonies, awesome fiddle and I love the tone of Billy Bragg’s voice…

Tennessee Blues – Steve Earle

Steve Earle released his first album in 1986 and hasn’t really stopped since. ‘Tennessee Blues’ was the opening track on his 2007 Washington Square Serenade album. Mix of drum machine, country picking and good lyrics and melody and still writing good songs 12 albums in and 57 years old!

Hi-Fi – M. Ward

Over the last few years I have been discovering more and more great albums by M. Ward as well as records that he’s been producing with other groups such as She and Him and Monsters of Folk. This track has some great production aspects, lyrics and melody in all its simplicity.

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From the Vault Friday: You Will Hear The Locust Sing

It took five hours in the car, four aspirin, three stops along the way (a petrol station, a roadside diner, a driver reviver), two cans of Coke Zero and one excellent cassette collection to get my sister and I back to Wagga Wagga in time for Christmas. A sleepy city in south-west New South Wales, the place my family call home boasts sixty thousand residents and the state’s highest rate of teen pregnancy. And on this particular visit home, the second of my bi-annual stopovers to coincide with religious holidays I don’t actually celebrate, Wagga Wagga was also boasting a plague of locusts and a generous number of mosquitoes the size of cats. Happy times! Pest-ridden times! Family times!

With presents unwrapped, mosquitoes swatted and crackers cracked, I’ve made it back in Sydney in time to encounter pests of another kind for New Year’s Eve. But it has been so long since I made a From the Vault post I thought I’d share with you some of the classics from the aforementioned excellent cassette collection.

Waylon Jennings, ‘Ladies Love Outlaws’

Nothing says road trip like the sweet wail of Waylon Jennings as you wind down the highway. The cassette I packed was actually a Waylon/ Willie combo, which to my ears is the best of both worlds. It kicked off with this beauty, ‘Ladies Love Outlaws’.

More than any other Outlaw, Waylon had the combination of charmer/pervert perfectly balanced. Have a listen to the half-smile in his voice as he sings

Ladies touch babies like a banker touches gold
Outlaws touch ladies somewhere deep down in their soul

Smooth driving, ladies.

Kris Kristofferson, ‘Loving Her Was Easier’

Ah Kristofferson, the ‘intellectual’ Outlaw. With both of us nursing hangovers, it was important to allow for some quiet time in the car. Someone to lull us into the rhythm of the road and reflect on the year that had so quickly passed us by. Someone to make us think of past loves and future loves. Someone who I could fantasise was a past or future love…

If you doubt the worthiness of my declarations of lust for Kris Kristofferson, do yourself a favour and check out some youtube clips from A Star Is Born.

Hell, if KK was good enough for Joan Baez, Rita Coolidge, Babs Streisand and Janis Joplin, he’s good enough for me.

Beaches / 100% Hits Vol. 14

We’d just past Goulburn (home of Australia’s ‘most secure prison’) when it was decided we needed a break from country music for a while. And who better to change the vibe than Bette Midler? We could laugh as she sang about tit-slings and cry as she sang about sickly best-friends.

It was a ladies only road trip.

Do not judge us.

But just as we were gearing up for some quality power ballad sing-a-longs, I opened the cassette case to discover that some joker at St Vincent De Paul had replaced Beaches with 100% Hits Vol. 14. Lucky we both love early ’90s Top 40 as much as we love The Divine Miss M!

This cassette gifted us with many great surprises, including ‘Dreams’ by The Cranberries, R.E.M.’s ‘What’s The Frequency, Kenneth?’ and ‘100% Pure Love’ by Crystal Waters, which disturbingly, I still know all the words to.

But the car favourite was definitely Warren G (featuring Nate Dogg) ‘Regulate’.

Gang violence, horny bros, slutty hos, Michael McDonald… Bette who?

Conway Twitty, ‘Heartaches By The Number’

On the homeward stretch it seemed only fair to end the journey as it began: country style. So it was Conway Twitty who serenaded us into town, just as a swarm of horny locusts hell bent on crop destruction flew towards the car windscreen as fast as their tiny wings could carry them.

Although I found it intensely amusing to be going home to a natural disaster of biblical proportions (I spent much of the road trip penning a new festive bush ballad called ‘There’s A Locust In My Chardonnay’), the reality for local farmers was not at all funny. Just weeks after torrential rain turned the former drought zone into a muddy brown waterworld, in buzzed the locusts for round two of farm sabotage.

Heartaches by the number indeed.

Catch y’all in 2011 xxx

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“I Got Drunk & I Ate A Chicken…”

On a winning Valentine’s Day a couple of years ago, with no date scheduled and no dog to give all my undivided love and attention to, I decided to indulge in two of my favourite past-times: getting drunk and eating chicken. It was a whole barbecued chicken, with succulent herb stuffing and crispy charcoal on the wings. It was a whole bottle of gin, of the Bombay Sapphire variety, served with generous amounts of tonic in a tall and seemingly bottomless glass.
Depressingly, and I’m probably propelling myself towards a lifetime on the shelf by admitting this, it’s the only memorable February 14 I’ve ever had… Oh, romance! But I do love gin. And I really love chicken.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, I also love Tennessee’s Those Darlins and especially this song:

Why am I telling you this? Those Darlins stopped by Sydney earlier this month and blew my tiny mind. With three girls out front and a boy on the drums for good measure, the band are the perfect combination of garage rock, trailer park harmonies and finger lickin’ good times. I meant to blog about it at the time but their Sydney shows coincided not only with a hectic schedule of festive boozing but also with my birthday. So basically what I’m saying, is that from mid-December until now I’ve been too intoxicated to blog about how good they were and how you were a damn fool if you missed the gig. I have sobered up now, sigh, and am happy to let you know that the band have plans to release their sophomore album in 2011. Woo-hoo! As a preview to the record, they have released a 7 inch of their newest song, ‘Nightjogger’. Feel like buying a belated Christmas gift? You can pick it up

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Pines #6: Don’t Smoke Weed With Willie

The Happy Confessor Spills Again

It’s no secret that I’m a huge Willie Nelson fan. The silver plaits, the ranch, the legend status: he’s the dreamiest 77-year-old walking the planet. If I were the tattooing type (don’t fret Ma, I’m not!) I’d get something crass like this on my inner thigh in perverse tribute:

But since I’m not too keen on getting inked up, and since I do not care for living with jokes about having Willie between my legs for eternity, I’m left with little option but to show my adoration in other ways. Like by playing him on a new music focussed radio station in Sydney, in celebration of his recent arrest for marijuana possession.

As the daughter of a massive stoner (don’t fret Ma, I don’t mean you!) I find Willie’s lifelong love affair with weed kind of endearing in my own creepy, Oedipal way. EEP. Oh dear, I think I just felt the collective shudder of my six horrified siblings. Anyhow, where was I? Willie Nelson, pot, arrested, released on bail, what a dreamboat….

I’m a bit sad that the outlaw was handcuffed this week. But like most Willie fans, kind of amused and just a little bit thrilled to find that he still goes On The Road Again with his stash. So sandwiched in between all the new releases on In The Pines tonight, I played this duet he recorded with Waylon Jennings many, many decades ago.

Destroyer, You Destroy Me/ Forgive Me Father etc

Just over half a decade ago, I spent way too much time trapped in the musty, underground office of Sydney University’s student paper, Honi Soit. It was a strange and awkward year, not just because I spent most of it holed up in a two metre by two metre space with a bunch of bickering student politicians, aspiring Christopher Hitchens types and drama geeks, but because my aforementioned pot smoking father had recently died and I was doing my best to make Sylvia Plath look like Shirley Temple.

You have no idea how happy I am to repeat that it was more than half a decade ago.

Anyhow, in between wallowing in self-pity and learning how to binge drink,
I buried myself into two contradictory but complimentary tasks: editing the student paper with Ita Buttrose like dedication, and avoiding my university course work with a passion I’d previously reserved for poetry readings in the quad. Like I said, strange times.

What’s the point of all this incessant over sharing, say you?

It was in this miserable context that I first discovered Canadian musician Dan Bejar’s dream-fused melodramatic folk pop. His over-wrought, post structural masterpiece (Oh! To be back in a Cultural Studies tutorial!) Your Blues had been sent to the paper as a review copy. I snapped it up eagerly and for better or worse, listened obsessively as though his haunted, synthesised despair was my own.

Feeling fine/ Well it must be the wine/ ‘Cos It’s April 27/ And my baby’s still dying on me

Many years, beers, tears and fortunately a whole lot of good, happy times later, Destroyer has returned to my stereo, this time in the form of tonight’s In The Pines playlist. Tonight we heard ‘Chinatown’ from the upcoming album Kaputt.

I’m pleased to observe that despite his continuing association with the reasonably straight up New Pornographers, Dan Bejar still makes solo music of the decadent, sadcore variety. And equally pleased to discover he’s unafraid of the saxophone.

Pipe Down With Your Confessions, Sylvia

It’s just past two a.m. and although I’m currently experimenting with a writing philosophy I’ve dubbed ‘What Would Helen Garner Do?’ I think enough memoir has been shared for this week, so I’ll quit with the prose and leave you with a few clips of other songs that also featured on tonight’s show. And just in case you’re going nineties on the gig front this week, if you’re going to see The Lemonheads at the Metro in Sydney on Wednesday, I’ll be the one in the floral dress and docs. Likewise, if you’re going to see Nic Dalton at the Petersham Bowlo on Thursday, I’ll be the one in the floral dress and docs. And if you’re going to see Mick Thomas & The Sure Thing at the Vanguard on Friday, I’ll be the one in the…

Peace out, y’all xxx

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Tash Parker’s Top Five

Most of the time I call this section of the blog the ‘Mid-week Mixtape’ but alas, it’s Friday, so I’m a little late off the blocks…

Tash Parker writes tender, sweet folk ballads inspired by singers like Joni Mitchell, Suzanne Vega and Feist. With this in mind, it would make more sense to say I first met her at the Woodford Folk Festival or Peats Ridge, but no, we met at the Tamworth Country Music Festival. We were watching a rollicking good country covers band playing classic tunes on the back of a truck. I liked her instantly.

Raised in WA but now living and making music in Victoria, Tash will venture to Sydney this weekend to launch her sophisticated debut alongside Ed Deer, Cogels and Jess Chalker at the Vanguard. It promises to be a great show and y’all should come down for some fine Sunday evening serenading. In the meantime though, check out her fine taste in tunes as she presents this week’s mix.

Kings of Convenience – 24-25
The album Declaration of Dependence is my standout record for the last two years. This song is the opening track and it reminds me of my Christmas holidays in Broome when I was a child because it has this somewhat sleepy tropical feel. It’s an absolutely divine recording and the songwriting and performances are so inspiring.

Suzanne Vega – Song Of Sand
Suzanne Vega has been a huge inspiration for me for the last two years. I discovered 99.9 F in a friend’s collection when I was house sitting and I now listen to it once a week. Her songs are intricate tales poetically poignant and timeless. The more I listen to her the more I feel inspired to write simple melancholy melodies but she also has some really quirky production on this record, even though it’s not on this track, that encouraged me to think outside the square when I was recording mine.

The Cars – Drive

There are so many great eighties pop classics in our record collection but this band in particular reminds me of raiding my Dad’s collection as a child. I recently re-discovered Heartbeat City when a friend was shocked that I had The Cars on my iPod and bought me the cd. This track is just a great pop song. Everything is epic and emotional and covered in massive reverb. I can’t get enough of it.

The Flaming Lips – One More Robot Sympathy 3000-21

I only discovered the Flaming Lips on this album, I know a late starter. Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots is now a staple in my house when I’m at home doing admin for my music, oh and when I’m spring cleaning. This song has all the right elements – a really hooky synth bass line, space ship noises, double time high hats in the chorus… and it’s about a robot with feelings. What more could you ask for?

Dolly Parton – Here You Come Again
The most incredible female vocalist of all time. A total inspiration. I used to put this song on when I was a teenager and sing my little heart out. Of course everyone knows Jolene but this song really summed up my life as a young woman who fell in love too easily with the wrong kinds of guys. Here You Come Again is also the title of the album and it is 15 songs of pure country gorgeousness. a must have in everyone’s collection.

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