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There’s a little rumbling underground. A slight whisper in the wind. The sound of Australian folk music is slowly starting to emerge.

Some may call it by the ‘Angus and Julia’ effect, but something in the last month has seemingly shifted and the pluck by pluck, harmony by harmony, folk(ish) music is starting to carve a path in the Aussie music forest.

Most recent example to float from my speakers: Mebourne’s The Paper Kites. 100,000 views on Youtube and it seems that this has already (while I was seemingly staring off into the distance) gone beyond your standard folk(ish) audience. With good reason too. Their music is simply gorgeous.

‘Bloom’ is the key track here – a floating, occasionally swirling piece of Autumn dusk, with the sun setting gently behind some beautiful vocals and harmonies.

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Forget all the Mazzy Star comparisons floating around (not that that’s such a bad thing): the Dum Dum Girls’ ‘Coming Down’ is well worth listening to on its own terms.

It does, admittedly, sound like it has sauntered straight of 90s indie pop – but with a healthy dose of assertiveness and swagger.

“You abuse the ones who love you / you abuse the ones who won’t…”

And the best part? If you love the track, you can grab a free download of it right here.

It’s hard to believe it has been nearly/over a decade a since I first saw Sarah Blasko perform as the frontwoman for the band Aquiesce. Much has changed since those early days, and she has gone on to become one of the more definitive (and critically acclaimed) players in the contemporary Australian music scene.

Watching her perform tonight as part of “super group” trio Seeker Lover Keeper, it was clear exactly how far things have come. Despite still occasional moments of awkwardness, this was a performer almost entirely comfortable in her musicality and her role as the as the unofficial centrepiece for the group.

That aside, there were two things that struck me most about tonight’s show.

The first was the quality of the vocal harmonies. Blasko, Holly Throsby and Sally Seltmann sounded at ease, relaxed and confident working with each other’s (admittedly similar) voices. Being only their third show, they time and time again rose to the challenge laid forth by the harmonies.

The second: Sally Seltmann perhaps definitely proved herself as one of Australia’s foremost songwriting talents. Both Throsby and Blasko are, undoubtedly, excellent songwriters in their own right – but the night belonged to Seltmann’s songs, with the stirring ‘Even Though I’m A Woman’ the beating heart of a stellar set.

Sought. Loved. Kept.

One of the year’s most beautiful songs now has one of the year’s most beautiful videos. Gorgeous.

 

 

There are times when I have so much to say about a video but words probably can’t quite capture exactly what I need to express. Just know that I think I stopped breathing at one point during this, and my heart broke just the tiniest bit. One of the finest covers of the year. (And that isn’t taking into account that she is 14 years old, or something ridiculous…)

I’ll preface this piece by stating what it is not, as such. Given we are now nearing a week past the event, this is not so much a review as it is a reflection. A reflection on the fact that, even despite the said timeframe, I’m still able to care enough about this performance to attach some words to it. Such is the power of Joan Wasser.

And so it begins. “I’m looking for the magic…” Joan sung, as she introduced her smoky vocal tones to a packed Factory Theatre crowd. The Factory Theatre itself has provided many a magic moment of the years; Patty Griffin, Brandi Carlile, Imogen Michaelson are but some of the names who have provided definitive musical experiences on its threadbare stage, so Joan needn’t look much further than her surroundings to find it. Indeed, she also needn’t have looked much further than herself – from the moment her raspy groove filled the room, this was clearly going to be a performance of note.

Playing nicely off her two accompanying musicians, Joan quickly found a soulful swagger, intertwining with the backing gents to create some slightly unexpected Nu-Motown harmonies. There was something particularly confident about her ‘subtle soul’ – a younger Bettye Lavette (albeit in leather pants) is perhaps the most immediate comparison, yet with the restrained lyrical stylings of an Aimee Mann or Chan Marshall it was never anything less than contemporary. While largely a controlled and measured performer, she thankfully isn’t afraid to punctuate occasionally with a banshee wail, or brandish her guitar as a rock music weapon of choice (see: The Deep Field’s ‘Nervous’ and it’s declaration that she doesn’t “come with a manual”.)

 

Wasser used her set as an opportunity to indeed explore most of her new material, and it was a clever move: live, The Deep Field‘s songs are darker, moodier and more menacing, finding a spirit that was occasionally muted on the recordings.  The night’s most potent moment came from this: ‘Forever and a Year’ (dedicated to a recently deceased tour manager) had the crowd enraptured with silence as it shimmered darkly in the air before slowly fading into the floorboards.

 

The most striking thing about this Joan As Police Woman performance was her ability to draw the crowd to her, using a mix of raw emotion and natural sensuality. You wanted to be close to her, knowing, however, that she would ultimately cause you more harm than good. It was that slight hint of danger that made her all the more compelling and the show, ultimately, another defining show in The Factory Theatre’s repertoire.

The Deep Field is out now and is recommended by Dark Cafe Daze.

One of the best songs of 2003 still holds up remarkably well as we edge close to a decade later. Coupled with the often surprisingly good Yahoo Sessions concept, and it is will worth dusting off this fine performance. (Plus Karen’s little intro piece at the beginning is reason enough in itself!)