In 2002 the front man and creative force behind The Beautiful Girls began riding the sweet wave of success as the band's Morning Sun EP became the radio hit of the Australian Summer. In 2010, after 12 world tours, eight records and 285,000 album sales, the wave reached a musical high water mark with the critically acclaimed Spooks – a dub tour de force which peaked at number 6 on the US Billboard Reggae Charts and debuted at number one on the Australian Independent charts. The album won over critics around the world and took McHugh to the US for two national tours in the one year - the first with his band to see the old fans, the second to the church of John Butler with nothing but an acoustic guitar between him and a new cast of thousands. The latter was a watershed moment – and now the tide has receded to reveal a new world of inspiration for one of Australia's best-loved songwriters.
"Spending a year of my life working on Spooks was an amazing journey and it's a brilliant record, but The John Butler tour was as influential to me as anything in my musical career so far. It was such a grounding, emotionally fulfilling experience. I'm used to playing in a band to a few thousand people who are having a party, but playing solo to two or three thousand people, I felt connected. Music, for me, has always been about communication. It was a turning point as far as working out what I was going to do next – and that's what 2011 is about," - Mat McHugh
The result is devolution. Mat McHugh's first album as a solo artist. After a decade of striving to get bigger, better, louder and more colourful, the focus is on being transparent.
This is a roots record in every sense of the word. It's back to where it all began, albeit through the eyes of a man who has spent three quarters of the last decade sampling beats from around the globe and melting them down in his own brand of earthenware. "I want to contribute to the musical landscape in 2011 by making something more about feelings and emotions than it is about musical cleverness," McHugh says. "My favourite records, whether they're Johnny Cash or Nick Drake sound like they could have been made in 2011 or 1960. There's nothing added, it's a simple formula. They're just a little statement of what the people who created them believed to be inherent truths and that's all I'm trying to do on this record."
Mat McHugh is touring internationally in 2011.
John Butler Trio’s fifth studio album April Uprising was released in March 2010. The LP was recorded with new line up featuring Byron Luiters (bassist) and Nicky Bomba (drummer and percussionist).
April Uprising was named after Butler's voyage to find his ancestors on SBS Television’s genealogy series, Who Do You Think You Are? The first single from the album, "One Way Road", was released in December 2009. Butler described the song as being “the combination of pretty much most of my musical influences; dancehall, roots & rock. Some how we found a way to bring all these feels in a way that sounds natural and not too contrived or cerebral. I’m really happy with how we captured the vibe of this song.”
The band, according to billboard.com, recorded twenty-two songs at Butler's home based studio in Fremantle, this was eventually cut down to the fifteen that appear on the album. April Uprising debuted at Number 1 on the Australian ARIA albums chart on 5 April and whilst the first two singles from the album, "One Way Road" and "Close to You", charted at Number 15 and Number 36 on the Australian ARIA singles charts, they both reached the top five in the Spins radio airplay charts, the former reaching Number 1.
“Revolution” is the opening track and third single from April Uprising, and showcases Butler’s fiercely passionate politics. It reached number 34 on the ARIA chart and has achieved Gold sales status in Australia.
On 4 June 2010 John Butler Trio played a show at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, which was streamed live to fans around the world at Livestream. In November 2010, April Uprising, was nominated at the ARIA Awards for Best Blues and Roots Album and Best Independent Release.
John Butler Trio’s previous studio albums include John Butler (1998), Three (2001), Sunrise Over Sea (2004) and Grand National (2007).
Previous APRA Music Awards:
2004 Song of the Year Zebra
2006 Most Performed Blues & Roots Work Somethings Gotta Give
2008 lues and Roots Work of the Year Good Excuse
Ash Grunwald’s fifth studio album, Hot Mama Vibes, is neck-deep in the technological swamp of the 21st Century. Recorded at Alchemix Studio in Brisbane, DJ Debris Studio in the Adelaide Hills and The Container in Melbourne, the album features the talents of Ash Grunwald, Mr Trials, Countbounce, Chasm, Fingers Malone, Benny Owen and Kanchana Karunaratna.
"Mixing electronica with the blues was always a dream of mine," says Ash, now a 10-year veteran of live stages from Byron Bay Bluesfest to the Montreux Jazz Festival. "On the first album I was really trying to strip it back to raw elements, just be as soulful as possible. I guess every album since then has been a gradual move towards this point."
The track “Tear the Roof Off” picks up where Ash's last, ARIA-nominated album, Fish Out of Water, left off, with TZU funkmeister Countbounce chairing a raucous revival meeting in the grip of swamp fever. Three more tracks — “Walking”, “Love Me”, “Mind Playing Tricks” — were laid down in the Adelaide Hills with Mr Trials from the Hilltop Hoods' Certified Wise circle. A fourth, “Parents”, finds Trials bringing his whole Funkoars crew for a closing hip-hop face-off. The other eight full-band tracks were recorded over two days in Brisbane at the end of a tour, with results ranging from the mellow, minimal blues of “Never Let You Go” to the powerhouse work song, “Raw”.
Not least the profoundly soulful “Lady Luck”, which began with a beat supplied by Sydney hip-hop maestro Chasm, fell into place at the 11th hour when Fingers Malone emailed an exquisite synth organ groove from London. "I get a kick out of those kind of things," Ash says. "I love technology if it facilitates something that works. Musically I'm obviously very influenced by older music, but some of my most popular songs, like “Give Signs”, had beats created on GarageBand (software) and recorded through a laptop microphone." That said, "I love using junk percussion because it has that crossover with old work songs and field hollers — basically chain gang music," he adds. Hence the earthy flavour of car doors struck with hammers, cymbals made from 44-gallon drums and a hard drive loaded with a whole metal scrap yard of loops and samples.
"The thing that makes Ash unique," says Trials, "is his love for brand new plug-ins and software geekery combined with old school hardcore purist production techniques. You tell me how many musos can play the entire Howlin' Wolf and Biggie Smalls catalogues seamlessly back to back?”
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