Tag Archives: FBi 94.5

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.

Genius.

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: Walker Takes Five

Some Fun Facts About Sydney musician/writer/party boy Jason Walker

*His album Ceiling Sun Letters is excellent
*He’s the walking wiki of all things country music
*If you are at a party with him and there’s a guitar around, you can request almost any song and there’s a 99.9% chance he knows how to play it
*If you risk going for a beer with him at the Townie until closing time, there’s a 99.9% chance he will drink you under the table
*He was a recurring extra in the popular Australian soap E Street
*He put together this week’s Mid-week Mixtape
*And (here’s the plug) he’s joining Perry Keyes, Bek-Jean Stewart and a whole bunch of other talented musicians from the Laughing Outlaw Records roster on stage tomorrow night at Notes for a festive extravaganza

Judee Sill – Jesus Was A Crossmaker

It’s possible to write reams about the Californian music scene of the early 1970s – a time when songwriters openly experimented with spirituality, psychedelic drugs and blending a number of musical ideas. In Judee’s case, she embraced Christian mysticism, folk and country, a healthy dose of romantic longing and a passion for the music of Bach. This song is an ode to the dashing troubadour JD Souther, who stole then trampled Sill’s heart. A beautiful and haunting ballad for a heartbreaker.

Gram Parsons with Emmylou Harris and the Fallen Angels – Return Of The Grievous Angel

Sort of an obvious choice, this. It’s been described as an icon of ‘new’ country music or alt.country or whatever you want to call it. Not because it was written for any one audience, I would imagine. It’s better to imagine that it unifies the intricacy of the personal singer/songwriter ethos with a traditional country melodic structure. It’s a pretty stunning song lyrically too, though the lyrics were written by a Boston poet named Tom Brown. Gram wrote the tune and with the help of Emmylou Harris (and Elvis Presley’s band), he navigates the ironic depths the lyrics suggest without being too heavy on the melancholy. Ultimately, it’s just a cool country song.



The Jayhawks – Waitin’ For the Sun

I first stumbled across this Minneapolis group in 1989 while leafing through the reviews in Rolling Stone. They said The Jayhawks were the band for anyone who loved Neil Young and Crazy Horse and the Flying Burrito Brothers. I nipped out and bought it and loved it. By the time the album that this song came out on (Hollywood Town Hall, 1991) was released, the Jayhawks had become my favourite band. Fun fact: the guy who made this video later directed a video for a band that I used to be in, Golden Rough. I thoroughly recommend their later albums, Tomorrow The Green Grass, Rainy Day Music and Sound of Lies.



Wilco – Impossible Germany

This group has, despite criticism from die-hard fans who think they should have stuck to the style of their first two albums, musically transcended any notion of shitty genre restrictions. They rock. And no, they’re not the “American Radiohead” either.



The Band – King Harvest (Has Surely Come)

King Harvest is essential North American music – rural, funky and soulful. I can’t think of many bands from this era or the current crop who have three amazing lead singers with such knowledge of blues, country, rock and pop styles. Their songs are genius and the musicality of Garth Hudson and Robbie Robertson is astonishing.

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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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And Three Makes It A Hat-Trick: In The Pines expanded edition, vol. 3

I’ve stepped up my daily caffeine intake and it looks to be yielding positive results in the field of post-radio blog writing – WOOT WOOT! My sanity, heart rate and yellow-tinged eyes are other matters for another time…

For those of you who listened to FBi 94.5 tonight – big thanks of course. Now let’s unpack this sucker.

We ripped into the show with a track from 19-year-old songwriter Marcus Gordon, aka Spookyland. His debut EP, Killing One Bird With Two Stones is released this Friday and is being launched at the Sandringham Hotel in Newtown on Saturday night. It’s a solid effort, bolting out of gates (apologies, it is Melbourne Cup Day) with a couple of rousing, noisy openers (‘An Eroding Song’ and ‘Eight Split Knuckles’) before moving on to more pensive folk ballads.

I played ‘Failures’, which I can’t seem to find online… So you’ll just have to trust me on this one and go to the gig on Saturday and fork out some coin to hear the lovely bitter verses build into an aching, desperate departure. But you can hear the other songs I have title-dropped on Spookyland’s myspace.

And here’s a re-working of ‘Walk On The Wildside’ for coverz loverz.

We also heard new music (read: newly released in the Land of Oz) from the world’s most morose baritone, Micah P. Hinson. Album #4 from the Tennessee-born troubadour, is a predictably but oh-so-rewardingly dark meditation on the death of the American dream inspired by Walt Whitman’s “Pioneers! Oh Pioneers!”:

All the hapless silent lovers,
All the prisoners in the prisons, all the righteous and the wicked,
All the joyous, all the sorrowing, all the living, all the dying,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

I played ‘Take Off That Dress For Me’ because I’m easily wooed by a good juxtaposition of sweetness and dignity lost/never had. You can find out more about the record by heading here.

And although there’s no actual vision, you can make up your own mind about the sweetness/dignity lost dichotomy by having a listen to this.

And if that’s not enough deep-voiced heartache for you in one setting, check out this awesome footage from a recent concert in Paris.

Other highlights from the show included the sweet sorrow of Californian freak-folk soprano, Sea Of Bees. Julie Baenziger has a wail that could stop time. Check her out below…

Next up on the blog, I’ll be posting a fresh Midweek Mixtape courtesy of Sydney songwriter Matt Corby. And I’ll also do a wrap of this Thursday night’s ARIA awards. Best Country, Adult Contemporary, Classical and Comedy release for 2010 are all being announced at a pre main-event event that I’ve somehow managed to weasel an invite to. It’s an outdoor gig and it’s forecast to rain, so if you know where I can get some high heel gumboots from, be sure to get in touch beforehand!

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From the Vault Friday: Tom Waits

On the city end of Oxford Street, just down from the inglorious glow of the Gloria Jeans coffee shop, just up from the fluorescent fervour of the IGA supermarket, lies my favourite Sydney restaurant, The Falconer. The food is great, the staff are knowledgeable (and bearded) and there’s a record player that spins old school records of the Neil Young variety all night long. Good times! I try not to go there too often because I don’t want to sabotage the joy I feel when dining there by making it too much of an everyday occurrence, and also, I am all too aware that I need more whiskey sours in my life like… you know where I am going…

Anyhow, last Friday, my gal pal Anna and I polished off two delicious mains and a bottle of plonk and were considering our late night dancing options when the dessert menu so politely placed on our table started to woo our already bloated bellies.

Alongside a fairly forgettable, though I’m sure delicious selection of classic after dinner sugar hits, there was one dessert singing to us in a gravelly, come hither, what you don’t really want but what you really, desperately need voice: The Tom Waits. What a name! And ingredients to match! It was a dark chocolate mousse with tobacco syrup, whiskey ice-cream and meringue powder.

Over more wine, Anna and I shared Tom Waits. He was delicious. I’ve thought about him non-stop ever since. And so here he is again, on a Friday, in fine but not food form.

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Bustin’ Outta Nashville

What can I say, I’m easily distracted. It’s been some months since I gave the blog the love it aches for. We took a holiday from each other. In the downtime, I managed to visit New York, start a new job and indulge in more pints than a pint-sized lady should be able to. But it’s time for a return to writing. My restless feet, twitching fingers and aching liver say so. In the next few weeks I will share my thoughts on seeing Willie Nelson play at the Manhattan Center Grand Ballroom, rant about some new records and post interviews with James Murphy, The Yearlings and Ruth Moody. So that’s all in works. But in the meantime… can I direct you to something I’m going to shamelessly rip-off in the near future?

American music critic Nathan Rabin writes a wonderful blog for the website avclub.com. It’s called Nashville Or Bust and if you haven’t had a chance to check it out, it’s definitely worth a squizz. Basically, Rabin is a hip-hop writer who had grown tired of writing about hip-hop and decided to go on a rather epic exploration of country music. For just over a year Rabin has written tender, sad and amusing musings on country artists past and present (mostly past) in a way that has totally reinvigorated the way I think about music writing. He’s up to Week 42 in a series of 52 entries so there’s plenty of previous posts to trawl through, but I thought I’d point In The Pines listeners/readers to some of the gems I’ve enjoyed the most before I embark on my rip-off project.***

Check it out:

Townes Van Zandt


Waylon Jennings

Gary Stewart

***Okay, so it’s not a full-blown rip-off and you’ll see why soon but credit where credit’s due, eh?

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Fly away songbird: Sui Zhen heads OS

After a huge twelve months including an inspiring stint at London’s prestigious Red Bull Music Academy, Sydney songstress Sui Zhen is about to leave our shores once more. The singer, also known as Becky Freeman, has decided it’s time to pack her bags (and an acoustic guitar) and embark on a lengthy stint overseas ahead of the release of her two-years-in-the-making debut album.

Keen to take flight from the heavy heartache of a recent break-up and also keen to re-examine her approach to songwriting post-London, Becky flies out of Australia tomorrow. But she’s reassured In The Pines her jet setting ways won’t delay her debut record too much longer.

Speaking on FBi last week, Becky said the long-awaited debut had hit a few snags in the past because of a niggling perfectionism, but her time at the Red Bull Music Academy has inspired a more carefree approach.

“I guess I was just really obsessed with the technical aspects and perfect sound, when now I don’t so much care about perfect sound. I think the most interesting music has so many imperfections in it and that’s why it’s interesting.”

The carefree approach isn’t just limited to recording either. Becky has been gung-ho in her approach to song writing lately and has been sharing many of her new tunes (recorded on garage band) online. Her latest efforts are a series of love songs imaginatively titled according the order in which they were written.

Here’s Love Song 005 performed live on FBi.

Sad as it is that Becky won’t be playing shows in Sydney for a while, there is one last chance to see Sui Zhen in action and that’s tonight. She’s playing at Raval alongside Leroy Lee and Emma Davis. Tickets are available on the door.

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