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Howzat! Archive - September 26th 2012

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It's a crowded marketplace and if you're not on The Voice or The X Factor, it's hard to break through. There are no tricks or gimmicks when it comes to Andrew McDonald's debut solo album. It's simply world-class music. Melancholic and moving. When Howzat! reviewed our notes about the record, one word kept recurring: Beautiful.

The album is called The Fugitive Assembly. "Originally, I wanted to start a band rather than do the one-man acoustic thing and I was actually thinking of a band name," Andrew explains. He then saw the 1932 movie I Am A Fugitive From A Chain Gang. "I liked the word fugitive and pieced it together with 'assembly' after listening to the band Frontline Assembly." Andrew's solo sound is less frenetic than his previous band, Tiltmeter. "I do occasionally miss being in a band," he admits. "I miss the camaraderie and sharing the highs and lows. If I have a good gig, I can't exactly high-five myself, or if I'm having a bad run, I can't really talk it out with band mates. The best thing has probably been the freedom of writing something different and not becoming conditioned to any one way of writing. The worst thing is money, unfortunately. In a band situation, it's like, 'Right, everyone cough up a buck to pay for this', whereas now it's just me."

When Howzat! gave the album's opening cut, The Soaring General, a spin on the radio, listeners compared it to Elliott Smith, Josh Pyke and The Beach Boys. "There's one particular line in that song that made me think Josh Pyke when I first heard it recorded," Andrew agrees. "To be honest, no one's really told me that I sound like any one particular artist, which I guess is good. Indirectly, I'm sure I'm ripping off tons of songwriters." Who are Andrew's songwriting heroes? "I'd be lying if I didn't mention Something For Kate. I've been watching them since before they even released albums and I've kind of grown up with them. I also liked the way Paul Dempsey would transcribe the songs onto acoustic and play shows, which gave me the same idea when I was playing in a band. Plus I still marvel at the arrangements, the hidden noise tracks and the often slow build to an emotional peak."

Andrew sings about "landing soon", but The Fugitive Assembly has taken a long time to arrive. "Yeah, it's been an awfully long process. In fact, I hit another snag when trying to press CD copies - which I'm still going to do. But in the meantime, I got so frustrated I just made the album available online (at There's just been a series of minute details that have held it up, especially artwork. At one stage, I was content to just take a photo of myself wearing a towel and say, 'Done!'"

One track is called What Scares You Most. Andrew still shudders when he thinks of Amityville II: The Possession. "It's probably not that scary now, but I saw it as a kid and it kept me awake for years. I'd have to sleep on the couch until ushered to bed for fear I'd be possessed the same way as the boy in the film." In the song, Andrew sings, "At this late stage, I feel my age." But The Fugitive Assembly shows there's a lot of life left in this artist. "The finish line's nowhere in sight, it's still not over yet."

Fancy having a kick of the footy with Even? It's one of the many packages on offer at, where the band is celebrating its first 18 years by asking fans to pick their 18 favourite Even songs and help fund a new compilation. Meanwhile, Ben Lee is getting his fans to finance his forthcoming album, Ayahuasca: Welcome To The Work, at Ben explains that Ayahuasca is a South American jungle vine, used as "a visionary, healing medicine I only hope the music contains some small portion of the deep nourishment that I have experienced from the plant medicine." Howzat! has already signed up for the vintage Ben Lee beanie and signed CD - a bargain at $35.

Happy birthday to arguably Australia's most influential artist, Olivia Newton-John, who turns 64 today (Wednesday). Greg Arnold's The Swamp Dandies, who released a tribute to Livvy last year, called Olivia, are launching their new single, Tomorrow, at the Northcote Social Club on Sunday afternoon with Carus Thompson.

It's six weeks on top for Guy Sebastian.

Battle Scars GUY SEBASTIAN (number one)
Boom Boom JUSTICE CREW (seven)
Set This World On Fire THE JANOSKIANS (22, debut)
Run Alone 360 (29)
When The Lights Go Out HAVANA BROWN (30)
Domino THE COLLECTIVE (35, debut)

The Rubens arrive at number three.

The Rubens THE RUBENS (number three, debut)
This Was Tomorrow SETH SENTRY (six, debut)
The Sapphires soundtrack (seven)
Pacifica THE PRESETS (10)
The Winter I Chose Happiness CLARE BOWDITCH (11, debut)
Chasing Ghosts THE AMITY AFFLICTION (15)
The Ol' Razzle Dazzle MISSY HIGGINS (23)
My Journey KARISE EDEN (27)
Falling & Flying 360 (30)
The Story So Far KEITH URBAN (31)
The Temper Trap THE TEMPER TRAP (34)
Timomatic TIMOMATIC (39)

What Scares You Most ANDREW McDONALD
I Still Can't Find Her HENRY WAGONS
Why Don't We Just Stay Home SARAH HUMPHREYS

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