Author Mandy Stefanakis

Mandy Stefanakis lectures in music education at Deakin University. She has authored books and articles and loves composing. She is a life member of the Association of Music Educators, a member of The Music Trust Advisory Council and conducts interviews with musicians and filmmakers for the National Film and Sound Archive.

Roll Back the Stone: 1985 – 2016

Artist/s: Mark Seymour and the Undertow. Mark Seymour (vocals and guitar), Cameron McKenzie (guitars), Peter Maslen (drums), John Favaro (bass), Scott Griffiths (keyboard and guitar)
Category: Contemporary, Rock
Label: Liberation LMCD0310
Reviewed by

“Mark Seymour is, at heart, a storyteller and the wonderful traditions of Australian folk music are effusive, stripped of the aerophonic hardware prevalent in his Hunters and Collectors persona.”

Music, Evolution and the Harmony of Souls

Author: Alan Harvey
Category: Books, Music and the Body
Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2017. 304 pages.
ISBN 9780198786856 (hardback)
Reviewed by

In 1997, the cognitive scientist, Stephen Pinker, stated in his seminal book, How the Mind Works, that music served no evolutionary purpose and described it as ‘evolutionary cheesecake’. Sometimes such catch phrases can set off a hive of activity by…

The Rhapsody Tapes

Artist/s: Ocean Grove. Luke Holmes (vocals), Sam Bassal (drums, production), Mathew Henley (guitar), James Hall (guitar), Dale Tanner (clean vocals and bass), Running Touch (sampling, production, vocals)
Category: Contemporary
Label: UNFD075
Reviewed by

“If this is the calibre of their first album, one wonders how Ocean Grove cannot become a formidable force into the future.”

Reclaim Australia

Artist/s: A. B. Original. Adam Briggs (Briggs), Dan Rankine (Trials), also Dan Sultan, Thelma Plum, Archie Roach, Gurrumul, others
Category: Contemporary, Hip Hop
Label: Bad Apples Music
Reviewed by

“A. B. Original’s inaugural album is a statement of identity that will resonate broadly in the decades to come.”

Alternative Rock

“Brace is relentlessly bleak lyrically, but to counter this, the music, though much heavier than on earlier albums, can be uplifting: music’s medicinal instincts twinkle in the shadows.”

Electronic Music

Artist/s: Tangents. Adrian Lim-Klumpes (keys and melodic percussion), Evan Dorrian (drum kit and percussion), Ollie Bown (computer), Peter Hollo (cello and effects), Shoeb Ahmad (guitar and pedals)
Category: Electronic Music, Experimental Music, Improvisation, Jazz, Minimalism
Label: Temporary Residence TRR267
Reviewed by

“Sydney-based outfit, Tangents, is a fascinating group, a hybrid of individuals who source their musical experiences from incredibly diverse places.”

Sin Will Find You

Artist/s: Storm the Sky. William Jarratt (vocals), Andy Szetho and Lachlan Avis (guitar), Benny Craib (bass), Alex Trail (drums)
Category: Contemporary
Label: UNFD 072
Reviewed by

“Storm the Sky’s second album, Sin Will Find You, is dark; dark to the point of nihilism, with no let up.”

Mozart’s Last Symphonies

Artist/s: Richard Tognetti and the Australian Chamber Orchestra
Category: Classical
Label: ABC Classics 481 2880
Reviewed by

“One feels like a glass bubble (fragile, transparent, vacuous) in even attempting to add to the many already inked pages on Mozart’s three last symphonies, but here is an interpretation by the Australian Chamber Orchestra on the occasion of its 40th anniversary celebrations and Tognetti’s twenty-fifth anniversary as Artistic Director.”

Indigenous Australian

Artist/s: Paul Grabowsky, Daniel Ngukurr Boy Wilfred, David Yipininy Wilfred, Monash Art Ensemble
Category: Indigenous Australian, Jazz
Label: ABC Jazz 479 6386
Reviewed by

“Contemporary Indigenous music takes a multitude of forms, from fusion hip hop to anthemic ballad often incorporating aspects of traditional Songlines, the heritage of individual families and clans. But the kind of fusion on Nyilipidgi is quite different to anything I have ever encountered before.”

Songlines on Screen

Category: Documentary, Film, Music
Label: Currently screening on NITV through SBS on Demand or at the website shown here.
Reviewed by

The significance of the new series of short films, Songlines on Screen cannot be overestimated. Insight into the priorities of Aboriginal cultural heritage through a senory feast is on offer to all Australians in this series of profiles.

Seven Sonnets & A Song

Artist/s: Paul Kelly, with Peter Luscombe, Bill McDonald, Cameron Bruce, Vika and Linda Bull, Alice Keath, Ashley Naylor, Lucky Oceans, Aaron Barnden, Leah Zwick, Charlotte Jacke, Dan Kelly, J. Walker
Category: Contemporary, Country
Label: Universal GAWD024S
Reviewed by

“I once met a person whose occupation was the translation of the works of Jane Austen into German. I couldn’t imagine how that could possibly end well.”


Artist/s: Matt Corby, singer/songwriter
Category: Contemporary, Rock
Label: Mercury 4770072
Reviewed by

“Telluric, Matt Corby’s first album, is testament to the reputation he has built for himself as one of the country’s finest singer/songwriters.” First achieving notoriety at the weary age of sixteen as runner-up in the Australian Idol juggernaut, Matt Corby…

Blackwattle Caprices. Music by Malats, Walton, Ross Edwards, JS Bach, Takemitsu, Tom Waits

Artist/s: Jacob Cordover, classical guitar
Category: Classical, Contemporary, New Music
Label: Cala Records CACD77017
Reviewed by

“Jacob Cordover is an exceptional guitarist and part of his measure is his ability to keep the customer waiting in order to keep the customer satisfied.” This is particularly the case in the well-known Serenata Española originally composed by Joaquín…


Artist/s: Hands like Houses. Matty P Cooper, lead guitar; Joel Tyrrell, bass; Trenton Todd Woodley, lead vocals, keyboard, programming; Alex Pearson, rhythm guitar and backing vocals; Matt Parkitney, drums
Category: Contemporary, Experimental Music, Rock
Label: Rise Records
Reviewed by

With their third album Dissonants and eight years under the belt, Canberra-based band Hands like Houses have well and truly ‘arrived’. Hands like Houses have toured extensively over the last couple of years, boosted by the support of the Oregon-based…

Making Signs

Artist/s: Syzygy. Laila Engle, flutes; Blair Harris, cello; Leigh Harrold, piano; Robin Henry, clarinets; Jenny Khafagi, violin; Guest: Daniel Richardson, percussion
Category: Classical, New Music
Label: Self-release
Reviewed by

In my early days of teaching, an inquisitive thirteen year old trying to swim in a sea of peers already world-weary, said to me, ‘Miss, did you know that syzygy is the only word in the English language which has…


Artist/s: Vince Jones and Paul Grabowsky
Category: Jazz
Label: ABC Jazz 475 3486
Reviewed by

For some, the passage of time leads to the solace of entrenchment. But for others an accumulated wisdom entices them to succumb to the persistent eddy of creation. Vince Jones describes it so beautifully, ‘A person who doesn’t create is…


Artist/s: Dead Letter Circus. Kim Benzie (vocals), Luke Williams (drums), Clint Vincent (guitar), Luke Palmer (guitar) and Stewart Hill (bass)
Category: Contemporary
Label: UNFD 070-A
Reviewed by

Well, I’m locking my gun in the cabinet with the Wedgwood china and discarding the key just to ensure that my penchant for political, environmental and social activism does not lead to a drift from the lagoon of pacifism to…

Film Music
The Secret River. Film music by Burkhard Dallwitz

Artist/s: Erkki Veltheim, Ceridwen Welsh, Charlotte Jacke, Jon Heilbron, Yinuo Mu, John Barrett, Rebecca Simpson, David Herzog, Burkhard Dallwitz, The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Jan Chalupecky. TV miniseries of the novel by Kate Grenville
Category: Film Music
Label: ABC Classics 481 1824
Reviewed by

The Secret River is a two-part television series based on the novel of the same name by Australian author Kate Grenville. It provides a devastating account of the brutality of life for first white settlers in Sydney and along the…

Paper Planes. Film score by Nigel Westlake

Artist/s: Melbourne Symphony Orchestra conducted by Westlake. Performers include Michael Keiran Harvey, Riley Lee, Hannah Coleman, Cold Chisel, Lior. Film directed by Robert Connolly, starring Ed Oxenbould, Sam Worthington.
Category: Classical, Contemporary, Film Music, New Music
Label: ABC Classics 481 1477
Reviewed by

Based somewhat loosely on a true story, Paper Planes is a film for children scored by Nigel Westlake. It’s the highest grossing Australian children’s film ever. The original true account described on the ABC’s Australian Story (see link below) is…

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