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Aussie artists
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Howzat! Archive - July 4th 2012

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What happens when you combine two of Howzat!'s favourite songwriters? Well, it sounds a little like Sophie Koh's third album, Oh My Garden (out this week on Crying Ninja Records through MGM). The album features four songs that Sophie wrote with Ben Lee. "I first met Ben briefly in the green room on the set of Neighbours," Sophie explains. "We were both doing a musical cameo on the show. I gave him a copy of [my second album] All Shook Up and didn't think anything would come of it. To my surprise, he emailed a week later from LA, inviting me to co-write with him."

Ben Lee is a much-maligned artist. So what's the real Ben like? "He is the most driven person I have ever met," Sophie says. "He is the only person who replies to my emails straight away! God knows what time it is in the US; I always get a reply within 24 hours. He is an inspiration with how positive and clear-headed he is in the studio. I really fed off his 'get up and go' vibe and gained a lot of confidence watching him. His success is so well deserved, whether you're a fan or not."

Sophie made Oh My Garden with Ben's producer, Brad Wood, at Seagrass Studios in LA. "Brad [who has also worked with Smashing Pumpkins, Liz Phair and Something For Kate] is a producer dad," Sophie says, "understanding, conversational, patient and direct. Seagrass is a beautiful studio space behind his house. We drank lots of coffee, popped a lot of pistachios and celebrated with an occasional beer when we knew we'd done some good work." Sounds pleasant. "It seems that I only work with producer dads," Sophie laughs, "in leafy studios, hanging out with their kids and playing with their dogs during breaks. My last two producers, J Walker and Richard Pleasance, were similar. When Brad heard I was commuting on the LA bus, he got all concerned about my safety. He then started driving me to the train station - now that's rock 'n' roll!"

The result is a stunning record, filled with glorious, subtle touches. "Brad is the king of synthesizer hooks, " Sophie reveals. "I learnt so much just by watching how he'd manipulate sounds in the studio. A classic 10-second synth riff would suddenly change the vibe of the song. We would get so excited when we found the right sound, using all the wonderful gadgets and files he had." What else did Sophie learn in LA? "I learnt to drink a lot of coffee and to pronounce my name as 'Sooofie' so I could get that coffee. And, strangely, I learnt to love my daily walk down Hollywood Blvd and my very colourful bus ride to visit Brad. I met so many interesting characters on public transport as I soon learnt that only the poor and tourists are game enough to hop on. I stayed at a cheap and nasty backpackers in Hollywood. I think I made quite an impression at karaoke, singing Natalie Imbruglia's Torn at 3am."
Sophie launches Oh My Garden at the Northcote Social Club on Friday, 13 July (with Buckley Ward and Juan Alban). One line sums up the album: "Gotta do what makes you happy/ Gotta go when you've got that chance." Oh My Garden is the sound of Sophie Koh taking her chances.

Ask Lleyton Hewitt and David Nalbandian - a decade can slip by in the blink of an eye. Back in 2003, Howzat! saw Surrogate Turnip, Emma Heeney and Tim Reid at the Empress. Was it really nine years ago? As the Empress gets set to celebrate its 25th birthday, the three acts are having a "2003 reunion" on Thursday. Maybe they can do a medley of Delta's four chart-topping hits from that year?

AC/DC's Back In Black is the greatest Australian album of all time, according to the American edition of Rolling Stone. The magazine has issued a revised version of its 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, placing Back In Black at 77, saying the first post-Bon album "might be the purest distillation of hard rock ever." AC/DC were the only Aussie act to make the list, with Highway To Hell also making the cut, at 200.

A week is a long time in the pop world. Last week, The Voice provided 16 songs in the Top 40. This week, The Voice gets laryngitis, with just four entries.

You Won't Let Me KARISE EDEN (number five)
Sitting On Top Of The World DELTA GOODREM (25)
Into The Flame EP MATT CORBY (27)
Child 360 (30)
Do It Like That RICKI-LEE (31)
Beautiful SARAH DE BONO (37)
Hallelujah KARISE EDEN (38)

The Voice winner Karise Eden becomes the fifth Aussie act to have a number one album in 2012.

My Journey KARISE EDEN (number one, debut)
The Story So Far KEITH URBAN (three)
The Ol' Razzle Dazzle MISSY HIGGINS (seven)
Falling & Flying 360 (18)
Spirit Bird XAVIER RUDD (19)
The Temper Trap THE TEMPER TRAP (20)
Drinking From The Sun HILLTOP HOODS (35)

Top To Bottom SOPHIE KOH
I Don't Wanna Know Myself DAVE GRANEY

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