Tag Archives: Australia

Dan Sultan – Record Store Day @ Readings St Kilda

Saturday 19th April 2014 saw punters head to their local record shop for the annual Record Store Day. Luckily, I happened to stumble upon Dan Sultan playing a live acoustic set at Readings bookshop in Saint Kilda.

Covering songs fresh off his new album Blackbird, which was released April 4, Sultan generously gave his support to Record Store Day to provide a free set for fans. And what an intimate, special gig it was – there was probably no more than 50 people squashed into the tiny bookshop amongst shelves crowded with vinyls and childrens’ books. Armed with only a Fender Tele, a basic stage mic and a stack amp, Sultan filled every corner of the room with his presence and sound.

‘Can’t Blame Me’ was a stripped back, softened acoustic version of the grungy, Nashville-twanged studio version. Sultan’s voice has a knack for finding and holding onto colourful tones; tones that wrench on the listener’s heartstrings as he wails with unbridled emotion. While the studio version of ‘Can’t Blame Me’ is an upbeat, horn-ridden rock n roll track with giddying sparkly guitars and a crisply-produced sound, Sultan’s live interpretation contains so much more magic and soul that just doesn’t seem to transfer over in the studio recording. His growling, bluesy style of singing with heartfelt emotion, coupled with Hendrix-styled bass-leading guitar accompaniment was a mesmerising sight.

It’s amazing in this day and age to see a performer who still engages with the crowd; tries to make them at ease, even cracks a few bad Dad jokes. His quiet, humble stage presence was at odds with the intensity in sound and emotion that cloaked the room when he sang. Similarly, ‘Kimberley Calling’ was another standout. Sultan’s raw, untamed voices soars across the plains of the sparse accompaniment of an acoustic guitar. There’s nothing fake or sugarcoated about his lyrical content either. With his style firmly rooted in the blues, the songs off Blackbird are from a personal perspective on life, love and country.

When you hear Kimberley calling / then you know that it’s time to get moving / I’ve been away / Oh, I’ve been away

By far and large, the standout track from the gig (and perhaps the album) is ‘Gullible Few’. Quite fittingly, this is the closing track on Blackbird; it is without a doubt the most raw and hauntingly beautiful of the collection. Sultan sings of love lost and the comfort of naivety – his pure, yet unrestrained voice screeches across the guitar and at once, the listener is transported into Sultan’s narrative to act out the story.


June will see him embark on a mammoth national tour, reaching even the farthest regional locations in Australia. Get your tickets to the Blackbird tour here to experience some of that Dan Sultan magic.

Want the album version? You can buy Blackbird on iTunes here.



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7″ review: The Putbacks ft Nai Palm – Spanish Harlem / The Worm

HS012 Pack Shot

March 10 marked the release of The Putbacks‘ new 7″, ‘Spanish Harlem‘, which features Melbourne’s hottest neo-soul voice NaiPalm. You may know her as the Headchief of future soul band Hiatus Kaiyote, but in this Hope Street Recordings release we see a different side of the talented vocalist.

This soulful, blues-ridden track is combined with the instrumental-only B-side ‘The Worm‘, which showcases the raw talent and unbridled rhythmic intensity that is the Putbacks.

‘Spanish Harlem’ is an upbeat, joyful cover of the Leiber and Spector song first released by Ben E King in 1960 (but you probably remember the 1971 rocking Aretha version that catapulted the song into the chart stratosphere), and in this Putbacks/Nai Palm recreation the vibe is chilled out to a sunday afternoon.

Also noticeably absent in this reinvigorated, freshly pressed version is the cheesy alto saxophone solo from the Ben E King version, which is definitely an added bonus.

The slightly more funk-oriented ‘The Worm’ is a salute to the 1970s, with screaming Hammond organs, garage-tinged drums and relentless pentatonic polyphony. The climatic highlight of the record is upon you now – if you aren’t getting down and groovy by this point in the record you’re clearly subject to severe emotional capacity deficits.

And as if that isn’t enough funk for your buck, the good folks at Hope Street Recordings have included a bonus track on the digital release of Spanish Harlem/The Worm entitled ‘In The Dirt‘.

The production on this record is in classic Hope Street Recordings style, with the listener getting the feeling that the entire 7″ has been soaked in a tub of hazy, summery 1960s-70s nostalgia.

This beautiful partnership between Nai Palm and The Putbacks is reminiscent of a funkier, more soulful lovechild of Hendrix and The Upsetters (Little Richard‘s group, not the reggae band).

Get your copy of the 7″ (plus a free download of all the tracks + bonus track ‘In The Dirt’) HERE!!! Do your bit to support and sustain the wonderful work of these artists and independent labels.

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The Public Opinion Afro Orchestra – Shake / The System

Australia’s very own Public Opinion Afro Orchestra are a seventeen-piece powerhouse blending elements of afro-beat from Nigeria and its surrounding neighbours with a politically-conscious funk/hip hop edge. ‘The System‘ and ‘Shake‘ were released by Melbourne’s Hope Street Recordings  as a digital-only (which you can purchase directly off the Hope Street Recordings bandcamp here for $2!!), and the result is a lush, nostalgia-soaked sound that takes you right back to the heyday of 60s and 70s afro-beat funk.

‘The System’ is an unapologetically aggressive funk track with relentless driving motion from Senegalese percussionist/vocalist/dancer Lamine Sonko and the horn section (Tristan Ludowyk, Declan Jones, Nick Lester, Peter Slipper and Andy Williamson). POAO’s MCs and backup vocalists The Public Opinionettes are complemented by a dense texture that envelopes the listener in a cloud of Afrobeat rhythms and layers of brass harmony. Fela Kuti’s influence is clear – from baritone sax to jazzy muted Wurlitzer organ, POAO brings the best parts of 70s funk to meld perfectly with traditional Nigerian rhythms and melodies.

‘Shake’ kicks off with halting horn riffs and that beautiful Wurlitzer (credit to John McAll) sweeping across the cabasa and clave rhythms, before showcasing the vocal talents of the Opinionettes (Kuukua & Lydia Acquah and Fem Belling). Everything has its place within Public Opinion Afro Orchestra – the instrumental voices take as much precedence as the vocals and rhythm section, and the result is a unique and distinctive sound that pays homage to its musical ancestry while still breaking new foreground in the Australian international music scene.

As mentioned before, please show your support for Public Opinion Afro Orchestra and Hope Street Recordings by purchasing ‘System/Shake’ from the bandcamp site here.



http://www.thepublicopinion.net/ http://www.reverbnation.com/poao https://www.facebook.com/publicopinion https://www.facebook.com/publicopinion http://www.hopestreetrecordings.com/

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