Tag Archives: Johnny Took

Whiskey Dreaming: Adventures in Kings Cross: Episode One

There will be bands. There will djs. There will be FBi presenters doing their best to lose their dignity. There will be a trip to Pie Face on the way home. Come and sing and dance and play with us tomorrow night. Kings Cross Hotel, 8pm sharp. Whiskey, good times, dancing provided. BYO debauchery, cowboy boots, parental consent form.

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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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At the fall of the leaf…

Although I hoped it would never end, Sydney has bid adieu to another blessed summer. Fare-thee-well sand between my mangled toes, exposed bra straps and ever faithful denim cut-off short shorts, I’ll see you towards the end of 2010.

Autumn is here and although my heart breaks to say goodbye to bright blue skies and cotton candy clouds, I’m reluctantly welcoming the golden crunch of fallen leaves beneath my cowboy boots, the opportunity to show off my ever expanding collection of vintage scarves and the resurrection of black opaque tights to go with every single ensemble. I guess you could say I’m not a fan of cooler weather. But there is a certain poetry to the harvest season, and an undeniable melancholic shift that makes me think there’s no better time to indulge in the more pensive side of alt-country music.

With seasonal change in mind, here’s a list of up-and-coming artists whose songs of wilted desire and wistful yearning make me think it’s not so bad that the weather has started to shift.

Johnny Took

Armed with a handful of bedroom demos, Johnny Took wandered into FBi radio in January and quietly stole the space in my heart usually reserved small puppies and porcelain trinkets. The 20-year-old Sydneysider writes pretty folk melodies with a soft melancholy beyond his years. His demo ‘Honey I Get Bored’ echoes the influences of writers like Ryan Adams and Jeff Tweedy, which is an instant win in my book. You can check out his bedroom recordings here.


Golden-haired, freckle faced Lissie has a voice that stops time. It’s sweet and sad and thoughtful all at once but also disarmingly strong. It’s a welcome relief from the baby-voiced folk that seems to be saturating the Australian scene at the moment. I first heard the LA based songstress while blog-trawling in January as part of my research for In The Pines. I later found out she’s a mate of an old friend, Andy Clockwise (see below) who has been making music in the City of Angels since relocating from Sydney about two years ago. It’s a small world and I’m glad Lissie is a little closer than I thought.

Lissie – Everywhere I Go

Andy Clockwise

It’s hard to pin this Aussie ex-pat living the dream in LA to any particular genre, especially anything remotely related to alt-country music. The multi-instrumentalist is probably best defined as an eclectic eccentric who flirts with a range of genres in search of the perfect pop song. But he does wear the pensive folk troubadour hat comfortably for his latest single ‘Remember Love’. References to whiskey and gin? Check. Forlorn harmonica instrumental? Check. Token beard for the video? Check. Nice one, Andy.

Sarah Jaffe

This lovely Austin native has just wrapped a highly successful tour of the U.S. with Midlake, who have been on the road spruiking their critically acclaimed third album The Courage of Others. Her support slot has received rave reviews all over the web and looking at this video it’s easy to see why. So pretty, so melancholy, so in-the-moment. Watch this space.

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