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Tracey Miller | Live at Warrawee

Tracey Miller is one of those people whose passion for music permeates every aspect of her life, and the happiness it brings her is tangible.

Rather than give up playing guitar after a freak accident with a louvre blind that saw her lose use of her left hand, she learned to use her hand again, and developed her own playing style. Yearly trips to Hawaii have seen her take up the ukulele and study harmony, with her accident, she says, making her a better musician.

After more than 25 years of teaching and singing in choirs, she’ll be leading the Mass Community Choir at Live at Warrawee Soul Explosion, a music festival put on by Monash City.

“There’s a lot of people out there who do community work, or help out their neighbours in some way, we should have things to celebrate in life, it shouldn’t always be about hard work. It’s a great way to get the community together,” says Miller.

“I know for a fact having taught choirs for many, many years that every single time anyone talks to me about their experience it’s just that they experience a lot of joy.” Continue reading

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Bob Evans | It’s tour time

He may have over two decades of experience under his belt, but it’s been nearly four years since Bob Evans, the alter ego and solo project of Jebediah frontman Kevin Mitchell, has taken to the stage in all his solo glory.

Having toured alongside good friend Josh Pyke in late 2016, Evans is well and truly warmed up for an extensive three-month tour across Australia, and ready to settle in to the solo-performance mindset.

“The band shows and the tour I did with Josh were both very structured shows and they had to be that way in order to work but playing on my own I have the freedom to do whatever I damn well like whenever the mood may take me and I won’t be blindsiding anyone. The whole thing rests on me, which is a good thing to do from time to time.”  Continue reading

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Kids at Midnight | Love Safari

“What’s happening at the moment, and it’s an awesome movement that needed to happen, is more and more women are taking control of their careers and opportunities, by learning to produce, by running events, by climbing that ladder to be the person that then books and mentors others. That’s how we level a playing field, by doing it.”

You may know Jane Elizabeth Hanley as Kids at Midnight, but the indie electronic artist’s passion for female empowerment in the music industry drives her to work far beyond her own music. With gender inequality remaining one of the most pressing issues on the Australian music landscape, Hanley says that female focussed events have never been so important.

“The more we see each other succeeding because we’ve worked hard, the more younger artists will see that hard work gets you somewhere, and the wave of quality will wash over the industry like a tidal wave. And if you don’t support female artists/DJs (by support I mean going to gigs, buying the music, sharing the mixes) you absolutely cannot complain there are not enough of them. The end.”

Taking this attitude on board, iconic Melbourne venue The Carlton Club is opening itself up for its first live music events, with a firm focus on female driven events and lineups, approaching Hanley specifically to curate an event.

The resulting event is Love Safari, an all day event on the Hasti Bala & Deck, featuring a mammoth indie-electronica lineup featuring some of the most exciting female artists, DJs and producers in Melbourne, including Rosaline Yuen, Aurelia, The Girl Fridas, Ruby Slippers Adriana and Whiskey Housten. Continue reading

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Northlane | Mesmer

Following a swell of curious buzz prompted by a mysterious YouTube video, a new single, and an oddly cryptic Facebook chat bot, Northlane has revealed their huge announcement to be the surprise arrival of new album Mesmer.

 

“It was meant to get people excited, but without really knowing what they’re excited for,” says frontman Marcus Bridge, of the unorthodox release. “We like a bit of mystery when it comes to starting things up again, so it was to get people talking, get people speculating, and it’s pretty funny to see the conclusions that some people have come to.”

Mesmer is a progression for the Sydney band, musically and thematically. Following on from the themes of previous album Node, the album stays true to Northlane’s traditional, heavy, metalcore, but with a fresh take of electronic elements and a new lyrical perspective.

“Jon is always moving forward and got the next thing in mind, so musically, he was always headed in this direction. I feel if anything, this is a clearer vision from our heads, because we’re more sure of what we’re trying to do. And we’re just trying to do what we like doing. Trying to express ourselves in different ways than we have before.”

In his second album as the five piece’s frontman, after joining the band alongside original members Jon Deiley, Josh Smith, Alex Milovic and Nic Pettersen, in 2014, Bridge is relieved to say he’s found a new confidence as a part of the band. A fan of a more personal approach when it comes to writing, on Mesmer he’s felt more comfortable revelling in his own personal style and voice.

“Some of these songs are a lot more personal than anything Northlane have touched on before, which is something very important to me. In terms of writing lyrics, I’m very much a writer from personal experience, I like to get feelings out, whereas Josh is a bit more worldly, out looking view of everything, and looking at the big picture of the world.” Continue reading

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The Shins | James Mercer

Though James Mercer, frontman of indie rock darling The Shins technically began work on the band’s new album, Heartworms, about two years ago, he confesses his songwriting is far from a linear process.

Mercer’s writing is a labour of love, and some songs on the record have been in the works for close to ten years.

“I’ve always done that, there’s always these ideas where I hit some sort of an impasse with the song, and I can’t figure out how to make it work, so I set it aside. There are songs that I was working on before Oh, Inverted World that I still can’t figure out, so hopefully they’ll come out one day,” Mercer says.

“Some of those songs I’ve been working on for so long. The Fear is a song I’ve had floating around for years. I remember showing Eric Johnson that song when he was in the band, so that would have been touring for Wincing the Night Away.”

Even the titular track has its roots far earlier in Mercer’s illustrious career.

Heartworms is pretty old, it’s something I was considering for Port of Morrow, but I couldn’t figure out what to do with it. Otherwise, everything is new, and I wrote it during that gap after I toured with Broken Bells.”

Despite this, it’s far from disjointed. Mercer effortlessly brings the old and new together to create a cohesive and palatable structure. However, the album is dynamic in its emotions, something that makes a lot of sense when you take into account it was written over many stage in his life. Continue reading

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Victorian Music Crawl | A journey to discover rural Victoria’s hidden treasures

What do you get when you fill a bus with the finest faces of Melbourne’s music media scene and send them on the road for three days? Well, besides hungover. You get the Victorian Music Crawl, a musical adventure like no other.

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The Second Sex at Korova Lounge. Photo: Andrew Watson

It’s no secret we are spoiled when it comes to both quality and quantity of music and arts in Melbourne. Walk down Bourke Street at 2pm on a weekday and you’re bound to hear professional quality music. From the NGV to The Tote, even the smallest of venues that line our streets are bustling, and every night there’s artists to see.

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The bus crew on a paddle boat ride along the Murray, housing a gig for Riverboats Festival. Photo: Andrew Watson

 

It’s easy, with this plethora of entertainment, to lock oneself in a Melburnian bubble, blind to the quality that exists beyond our sphere. This first-of-its-kind tour, a government initiative headed by the affable CEO of Music Victoria, Patrick Donovan, burst that bubble, by demonstrating the untapped potential of rural Victoria’s live music scene to the people on the bus, everyone from booking agents and journalists, to musicians, and allowing the artists in these towns to connect with them.

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Demi Louise serenades Sutton’s House of Music. Photo: Andrew Watson

Ballarat, Castlemaine, Bendigo, Echuca.  These four towns were the pillars on which the trip rested, and have just as much to say and give as our Victorian city centre. Read more

 

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My Beat Magazine Music Reviews 2016

LIVE REVIEWS

The Smith Street Band @ Max Watts

In Dave Grohl style, Wagner sat upon a magnificent throne decked out with flashing lights, revealed to the sweeping sound of the Game of Thrones theme. Read more

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Karnivool @ The Croxton Bandroom

There’s something hypnotic about the way the singer moves on stage. His body smoothly melts into the rhythms and riffs with an understated elegance. He’s been doing Hotline Bling style dancing long before Drake ever thought to. Read more

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Heroes @ Melba Spiegeltent

As a part of Melbourne’s Leaps & Bounds festival, Heroes was a one night only show that saw five of Melbourne’s independent singers and songwriters take to the stage and sing two songs by kickarse women that have inspired them to create their own music. Read more

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Ladyhawke @ Howler

Ladyhawke’s music is undeniably poppy and bright, with her voice a moody contrast. Though the contrast, and her self proclaimed ‘happy sad’ style is at its best, absolutely brilliant, that same style can come across as lacking effort at times. The performance was missing the depth and dynamics that could have made this a more interesting show. Read more

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Cash Savage and the Last Drinks @ The Croxton Hotel

Savage may be the frontwoman and namesake of the musical outfit, but the Last Drinks – Kat Mear on violin, Rene Mancuso on drums, Chris Lichti on bass, Joe White on guitar, and Brett Marshall on guitar and banjo – were the real stars of the show. Read more

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Wil Wagner @ The Corner Hotel

The anecdotes flowed from his mouth like the whiskey down his throat, and the room soaked in his every word, relishing the intimate moment with the beloved Melbourne musician. His sister ran on stage for a hug after he completed the song he wrote for her, My Little Sinking Ship, in just one of the highly emotional moments of the show. Read more

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DMAs @ The Croxton Hotel

Although a few people could be spotted leaving the venue after Delete, when DMA’s came back out for their encore they put those punters to shame, nailing Laced, and finally Lay Down, ending with the best tunes of the night. Read more

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Heaps Gay Heaps Yummy @ The Melbourne State Library

“We’re lucky that people of our craft and our culture can be at home here,” stated one of the artists during the night, a reminder of what made this absolutely special. One of Melbourne’s most iconic venues was filled with a community of people who historically have experienced horrible treatment, and continue to face discrimination even in 2016. Yet every attendee made their way into the hall filled with palpable joy. Read more

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Slipknot @ Rod Laver Arena

“Halloween is our fucking Christmas,” declared Corey Taylor triumphantly before launching into Before I Forget on October 31, his voice dripping with the volatile energy that makes Slipknot so intoxicating. Read more

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The Smith Street Band @ The Corner Hotel

Perhaps you don’t give a shit, but I’ve sobbed to Smith Street in the discomfort of my own room and depression more times than I can count, but this was the first time it’s happened during one of their shows. It was there, clutching my tour jumper, with tears dripping down my cheeks, that the power of the band was in full force. Read more

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Julia Jacklin @ Howler

Her voice is dreamy and gentle, her harmonies are gorgeous, her folk swagger commands the attention of every person in the room: Julia Jacklin is a force to be reckoned with. Read more

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ALBUM AND EP REVIEWS

And Then Like Lions – Blind Pilot

Nebeker’s voice is sweet and earnest, floating around the textural melodies with a gentle strength and clarity. Sharply and beautifully produced, though many of the tracks have a similar feel, the album never comes across as formulaic or repetitive. Read more

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Raleigh Street – James Moloney and the Mad Dog Harrisons

James Moloney and the Mad Dog Harrisons’ latest offering, Raleigh St manages to pin down the sound of the Northern Suburbs in which you’d find the titular street, and conjure up the nostalgia that comes with it, all in spectacular fashion. Read more

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Christmas Party – She and Him

Sweet and moreish like a Christmas dessert, Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward have created a seasonal record that hits the right notes, and manages to distinguish itself from being just another Christmas album with their signature sound. Read more

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Beat Writers Wrap Up

Highlight of 2016: I met a dreamy man, who makes me happier than my own company, and got to share many wonderful musical adventures in this wrap up with him.
Lowlight of 2016: Losing a job with no warning. But it was okay, I found my way to Beat and better things.
A Wild Prediction for 2017: Surprise posthumous release of a festive David Bowie album:  The Freakiest ChristmasRead more

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Harts Beating Alone – Beat Magazine

Everywhere you look these days in the broad, ever-growing landscape of music, there are collaborations.

One musician who has completely bucked this trend is Melbourne based singer/songwriter/producer/uber talent, Harts, real name Darren Hart, who unapologetically prefers the solitude of his spare bedroom and his own musicality to a recording studio.

“I have a very unique way of playing, and I’ve found that’s what makes my sound unique. I learnt early on that if I can do everything myself, maybe I should. I’m a control freak in a way, because I’ve found a way that works for me, and I’m not willing to give that up yet.”

I interviewed Harts for Beat Magazine. You can read the rest of the article, including his thoughts on his friendship with the late Prince and winning GQ Breakthrough Artist of the Year here.

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My Beat Magazine Features 2016

Over 2016 I had the absolute privilege of talking to many incredible figures in the music industry. From MØ to Camille O’Sullivan, Dave from Gang of Youths to the brains behind Bjorn Again, here are all the links to my 2016 feature articles for Beat Magazine.

Thom Powers talks his break up with fellow lead of The Naked and Famous.

 talks about beating the pressure that followed on from her mega-hit with Major Lazer, Lean On.

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Mick Newton, promoter and founder of A Day on the Green, talks about his new project A Weekend in the Gardens.

Love and creativity with Nothinge. Intrigued? Confused? Hungry? So was I.

Julia Jacklin, the queen of my quarter life crisis, on her critically acclaimed debut Don’t Let The Kids Win.

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Napier’s Nelson Dore on his effortless rock’n’roll swagger.

Tim Hulsman analyses addiction in all it’s forms.

HEAPS GAY. ‘Nuff said?

Natalie Rize of Blue King Brown on using music as a pathway to higher consciousness.

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Hope you’re hungry, for music, ’cause Darebin Music Feast serves it up a plenty.

You know that song you were hearing everywhere? Kylie Auldist sings that.

Alone in her room with a computer and the sound of silence, Julianna Barwick comes to
life.

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Ben Wright Smith is really fucking pretty. He also makes awesome music. We talked about it here, and I was cursing the fact it was a phone interview. Really guys. So pretty.

Camille O’Sullivan and Paul Kelly
. Guyz.

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Pierce Brothers used to be Bourke St buskers, now they play at Coachella. Fuck yeah.

Go Back to Black with an Amy Winehouse tribute for the ages.

Crying Sirens was a labour of love for Jesse Delaney.

Bjorn Again? Spicey Girls? Claire singing American Pie for impromptu drunk as fuck karaoke at Falls Festival with her boyfriend? No, go back to the real tributes for Tribute Mania, a festival for the rest of ya’ll. See what I did there?

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Deborah Conway told me homeless people are that way because they made bad choices. yeah. Probs don’t read this one.

Dave from Gang of Youths provided me with my favourite (and potentially objectively the best) interview of my career thus far. Fucking thank you, you magnificent son-of-a-gun.

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Ella Hooper talked all things Melbourne Music Bank aka, the way that awesomely talented individuals actually start a career for themselves rather than just ‘star’ in a ‘television’ ‘show’.

It’s LIVE. It’s LOCAL. It’s LIVE N LOCAL. #plsread

Stonefield, a band of fuckin’ awesome chikadees from Woopwoop, made me feel bad about myself cause they’re so much cooler than me. Also my first mag cover.

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Writing about Cool Sounds was cool. It’s also near the end of this list and I’m growing tired.

I learnt about the culture of my ancestors (Indigenous lady in the house) and was left totally in awe of Scott Darlow after this chat.

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I love wrestling. Especially Melbourne’s indie wrestling league. I wrote about it here.