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TONY HILLIERMusical suggestions for the gift giving season from Tony Hillier – one of Australia’s finest music writers and a first rate musician. Tony’s been active in the far north Queensland music scene for decades now, in much-loved bands Snake Gully and Kamerunga.

Tony’s informed and insightful coverage of music from all over the world features in The Weekend Australian and Rhythms magazine

You hear Tony talking about and playing the best new music on my Friday afternoon show on ABC Far North. And you can stay in touch with the FNQ music scene with Tony at

Every year, Tony Hillier listens to hundreds, probably thousands of new releases. Here’s his top ten for 2012.



 Ondatropica Ondatropica

A stunning re-interpretation of Colombia’s musical heritage, conceived by Colombian musician Mario Galeano and English producer Will ‘Quantic’ Holland. The word is this will do for Colombian music what Buena Vista Social Club did for the music of Cuba.

2. In My Skin Buika img02

Buika is the daughter of political refugees from the African nation of Equatorial Guinea. She grew up on the Spanish island of Mallorca. A unique blend of flamenco, jazz, soul and blues.

Bellowhead-Broadside-artwork3. Broadside Bellowhead

Tony says of this album “the English folk canon has been catapulted into the 21st century on the back of a bodacious behemoth. With a blend of bravura playing and bravado arranging, a score of different instruments and a range of styling, Bellowhead has blown away cobwebs and all vestiges of chunky sweaterdom to reawaken a slumbering giant of a genre.”

4. Cosmic Waves Sandy Evans & Friends 3989896-1x1-340x340

Inspired Indo-jazz fusion from saxophonist Sandy Evans and Indian music champions Sruthi Laya.

Brother-Sinner-And-The-Whale5. Brother Sinner & The Whale Kelly Joe Phelps

Kelly Joe Phelps poignant solo gospel-inflected album brims with magical finger-picking and slide guitar work.

6. Concerto of The Greater Sea Joseph Tawadros 3836482-1x1-340x340

Egyptian-Australian composer and Arabic lute virtuoso celebrates his deep connection with the ocean in this collaboration with brother James, pianist Matt McMahon, viola player Christopher Moore and violinist/orchestrator Richard Tognetti and the Australian Chamber Orchestra. Well deserved winner of the 2012 ARIA Best World Music album award.

491853-120417-rev-cd1 7. Tra Parole e Silenzio Mara! & The Martenitsa Choir

Long-time champions of “world” music in Australia, Mara! deliver songs, in Italian, based on the poignant poetry of late human rights lawyer Edoardo Di Giovanni.

8. The Tel Aviv Session Touré-Raichel Collective 2539412797-1

A chance meeting in a German airport led to this collaboration between Israeli superstar Idan Raichel and Malian guitar virtuoso Vieux Farka Touré́.  Israeli bassist Yossi Fine and Malian calabash player Souleymane Kane add spice to an inspired work.

bending-the-dark-the-imagined-village9. Bending The Dark The Imagined Village

Renowned English folkies Eliza & Martin Carthy are part of this often-changing line-up, guided by Afro-Celt Soundsystem founder Simon Emmerson.Tony calls this a master stroke – age-old tunes such as Cuckoo’s Nest and The Bedmaking set adrift in a serpentine sea of swirling sound and rhythm that incorporates Asian chants, sitar, east European Gypsy-klezmer fiddle, Martin Carthy’s distinctive acoustic guitar, a drumming duel and other seemingly disparate elements.

10. Into The Bloodstream Archie Roach330895-121110-rev-cd3

Gospel, blues and soul inspire this reconnection with Archie’s creative spirit. A joyous celebration of resilience and the power of the spirit. Paul Kelly contributes a song and duets on another.


And you can listen to Tony via podcast. Search for Tony Hillier in your podcast app or at the iTunes store.

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