Amy Stroup – Helen of Memphis

Recorded partly in LA and partly in her adopted hometown of Nashville, Helen Of Memphis finds Stroup pushing her songwriting into bold new sonic territory, incorporating bright, electronic pop elements into groove and beat-driven tunes that absolutely bubble over with feminine empowerment and confidence – a concept partly inspired by her late grandmother’s love of fashion.

For a decade now, Stroup has been crafting the kind of songs that transport listeners with rich, emotional honesty and vivid storytelling. Her music has been featured in dozens of television shows, including This Is Us, Grey’s Anatomy, Parenthood, and The Walking Dead, as well major national ad campaigns for brands like Calvin Klein and Lexus. In addition to her critically acclaimed body of solo work, Stroup is also prolific collaborator, teaming up with Andrew Simple to record as Danger Twins (you’ve likely heard their songs in spots for Google, Universal Studios, and New Balance among others) and partnering with Trent Dabbs for Sugar & The Hi-Lows, a playfully retro duo that Rolling Stone said “built a bridge between the rootsy stomp of early Sun Records tunes and the harmonized swoon of old Brill Building pop songs.” The praise was universal and effusive for the Sugar & The Hi-Lows’ two LPs, with USA Today raving that “the only thing better than the bluesy, garage-rock guitars is Trent Dabbs and Amy Stroup’s vocal chemistry,” and Marie Claire swooning for “Stroup’s salted-caramel voice.”

Cat Canteri – Inner North

Singer-songwriter Cat Canteri has been slowly been building herself an impressive career that now numbers three solo albums.

The sense of patience, self-determination and the evolution and refinement of her songwriting makes Inner North her most rewarding record to date.

Canteri’s ability to drift between styles is a real strength and the way she does it so seamlessly is a testament to her versatility. Primarily this is an album of contemporary folk music, both electric and acoustic, yet it also draws on indie rock and pop, country music, jazz and languid blues. Opener The Only One is as ragged as she gets, with her ringing Ryan Adams-styled guitar balanced by her warm and rich vocal tone. Canteri’s singing is prominent in the mix throughout this album and it impresses with dips into deep soul on Remember The Time and pure, rollicking country on How Crazy I’ve Been. One of the strongest moments on the album is the exquisitely presented, heart-wrenching tale of Bridget Agnew.

Reminiscent of the sound of Joan Armatrading, Eleanor Friedberger and the occasional flash of Joni Mitchell, Canteri’s album is a wonderful sonic snapshot of Melbourne’s inner north, past and present, through the eyes of the people that inhabit these suburbs.

Christy Hays – River Swimmer

Like Lucinda Williams in a Carhartt jacket, Christy Hays works rugged metaphors into emotionally charged country folk. (Austin Chronicle). Christy Hays music has folk and country tinges, thoughtfully penned stories and a full band sound that is both driving alt country and moody folk rock.

New Album “River Swimmer” out April 27th, 2018 on Nine Mile Records.

“Christy Hays is likely the mostunderappreciated singer-songwriter in Austin. With River Swimmer, a rare combination of charming and powerful, she graciously ascends to another level.”

Charlie Jackson and the Heartland Railway – Charlie Jackson and the Heartland Railway

Singer-songwriter Charlie Jackson emerges with his debut album featuring his band The Heartland Railway.

Singer-songwriter Charlie Jackson is backed by his band The Heartland Railway. Alternative country inspired by Jason Isbell, Dwight Yoakam, and Ryan Adams among others.

Michael Wilks – Full Steam Ahead

Michael Wilks, Newcastle NSW based singer, songwriter and musician has gained a great deal of recognition and radio airplay in Australia and America with his 2015 and 2016 song releases “Back Seat of My Car”, “No More” and “City Lights”. His current single “Simple Times” is currently number 31 on the American Music Charts (as at January 26th, 2018).

Michael was signed to Winter Records in Nashville USA, where he recorded his EP “A New Direction” in March 2016, which includes the single “City Lights”. The resulting songs have earned Michael a place as a 2018 finalist for the ICMA Awards and the AAMusicLinx Awards, the winners of which are due to be announced during the (Australian) Tamworth Music Festival in January 2018. Having spent the Month of March 2016 in Nashville, Michael returned to Australia reinvigorated and inspired to pursue his love of music and write more, digging deep for the words that strike a chord. The quality of the songs and his musical ability has resulted in Winter Records inviting Michael back to Nashville.

Michael returned to America in August 2017 to record his new album “Full Steam Ahead” (yet to be released) and undertake a promotional tour of the midlands of American, crossing 8 states and covering almost 8,000km in under 2 weeks. It was a very successful tour if the popularity of “Simple Times” is anything to go by, with a return to Nashville planned either for 2019 or 2020.

Michael entertains with both his originals and cover songs engaging with the audience in a light hearted and truly Australian witty way, leaving the crowd asking for more. Combining Country, Rock, Blues and Classics with a few other eclectic elements that make his show unique. Michael loves hitting the road with his guitar and his duo partner, and with his home town of Newcastle, every point on the compass is an option, even as far east as Nashville in 2017.

ichael’s influences include Eric Clapton, The Eagles, The Beatles, Striper, Metallica and Johnny Cash, and with a classical piano background and many years playing lead guitar, his skills musically are unquestionable, and he engages the young and old and everything in between.

Great Peacock – Gran Pavo Real

Andrew Nelson and Blount Floyd make music enriched by their native South. Influenced by Pop Melody as well as Traditional Folklore. It’s old art for the new generation.

Anthemic acoustic guitar riffs mixed with contemplative finger-picked melodies. Lyrics spanning from reflective to whiskey-drunk. Dramatic vocal builds alongside gentle harmonies. Waves of folk crashing against shoals of rock and blues. Together, these traits define both the heart of Americana music as well as the soul of Great Peacock’s new album, Gran Pavo Real.

It may seem improbable how well these rising folk rockers feel the pulse of the Americana genre, yet trace their roots to an alcohol-fueled night of creativity among the band’s founding duo, singer/guitarist Andrew Nelson and fellow guitarist Blount Floyd.  Somehow the country-rock loving Nelson and the 90’s country-music-influenced Floyd hit on the idea, almost joking, of creating a folk band…with an animal in its name…thus creating the blurry vision that is now Great Peacock.  Perhaps the band’s unorthodox heritage is what allows Gran Pavo Real to stand out as its own sound in a musical landscape inundated with “authentic,” cookie cutter, offerings.

With Gran Pavo Real, the band has taken a remarkable step in the complexity of their lyrical songwriting. On “One Way Ticket,” Nelson muses about a restless spirit taking flight: “I’m a Rolling Stone/Yeah I can’t sit still/I’m a one-way ticket/heading straight downhill/ I’m a backroad Baptist with stories to tell/Got a one-way ticket to keep me out of hell.” On the album, whether pining, reflecting, or simply going on a bender, the lyrics have a poetic flow that allows them to impact with deeper meaning.

While the band’s dramatic, anticipation-charging musical builds and drops are still present on many of the songs, there are plenty of works that feature a tender intimacy that pair well with the album’s more emotional pieces. Where “Take Me Down” has all the scratchy guitar, moody organ, and rolling beat needed for a jamming, festival-ready, hazy head-nodder, “Oh Deep Water” contrasts with bright guitar accents, preaching organ, and contemplative mallet-struck drums. Where “Heartbreak Comin’ Down” features a toe-tapping, gritty, southern rock, touch of rockabilly flair, “Begging To Stay” is a lyrically sin-laden, hymn-vocal power ballad that conjures delightful images of Meatloaf making an Americana album. For an interlude, there is the lighthearted, honky-tonking, booze-dripping “Let’s Get Drunk Tonight,” which feels like a tribute to Floyd’s country music past, the band’s Nashville home, and a reminder not to take itself so seriously. While touching on abundant inspirations, the album’s tracks are bound by the band’s wide love for music.

Great Peacock allows its influences to expand the band’s sound beyond the formalistic traps of a folk identity, while still embracing enough heartfelt classic charm that even purists will embrace. Gran Pavo Real serves as a showcase of the band’s diverse style and the broad Americana landscape.