AHLIA Williams wasn't going to release a debut single that merely floated over the ears of the listener. It had to jolt them. Make a statement.
Indeed, the 20-year-old Newcastle singer-songwriter achieved that goal with I'm Your Man. The primitive and provocative slice of garage rock rails against gender imbalance as the woman in the song dresses like a man to be treated equally. It's capped off with a dramatic Williams vocal that channels the PJ Harvey and Patti Smith.
Williams described the punchy three-minute track, featuring Reuben Alexander (William Crighton, Ratcat) on drums, like "a quickie in a porter loo at a festival."
"It's a childish and bratty approach to having a voice and doing whatever you can to make sure you do," Williams said. "That's the importance of why I released that one as a single.
"I didn't want to tip-toe around the fact that I was ready to do something now."
In fact, there's plenty of new material set to explode from Williams in 2019, including more singles and a possible EP.
I'm Your Man and bunch of other tracks were recorded at Sawtooth Studios in November after Williams bonded with Alexander over a shared love of Iggy Pop at Dashville Skyline.
Williams first started performing sporadically two years ago when she was 18, but it wasn't until she became friends with Alexander that she felt ready to launch her music.
"I've been a full bedroom rock star, playing in front of the mirror," she laughed. "Then Reuben came along and said, 'let's do it'."
Ahlia Williams will support Nicholas Connors at his Strange Dreams EP launch at the Cambridge Hotel on March 22.
THIS weekend is like Christmas for music fans, in what is undoubtedly the biggest couple of days for gigs this year in the Hunter.
On Saturday The Drop festival, headlined by Angus and Julia Stone, makes its debut at King Edward Park, while the baby boomers party with Leo Sayer and Kate Ceberano at Live At The Foreshore.
Meanwhile, out in Pokolbin's wine country, the princess of pop Kylie Minogue will do the locomotion in front of a sold out Bimbadgen.
If you're still wanting to party, electronic dance festival Up Down makes its debut on Sunday at the Newcastle Foreshore.
DEF FX RETURN
AUSTRALIAN industrial-rock pioneers Def FX are reuniting for their first shows in two years this winter and will kick-off the tour at the University of Newcastle's Bar On The Hill on June 21.
Def FX broke through in the early '90s on the alternative scene through their combination of industrial beats and heavy metal-influenced riffs.
They cracked the ARIA top-50 with Psychoactive Summer in 1995 and recorded four albums before disbanding in 1997.
Frontwoman Fiona Horne later gained a mainstream profile through modelling, acting and writing and arguably became Australia's most famous modern witch. Def FX later reformed for tours in 2012-13 and 2017.
NEWCASTLE Americana troubadour Ben Leece and Melbourne's Lachlan Bryan have struck up a firm friendship in recent years treading the same Australian alt-country circuit.
Both also released celebrated albums in 2018 in No Wonder The World Is Exhausted (Leece) and Some Girls (Quite) Like Country Music (Bryan).
So Leece and Bryan decided to unite with their respective bands Left Of The Dial and The Wildes for an extensive co-headlining Friends and Acquaintances tour. The tour passes through country towns likes Gunnedah and Tamworth, plus capital cities.
Leece and Bryan bring the tour to the Stag and Hunter Hotel on May 24, before playing Wollombi's Paddock Sessions on May 25.
MEANWHILE, Paddock Sessions has released the first announcement for this year's festival line-up.
So far the bill includes the aforementioned Leece and Bryan, plus German Eurovision entrant Lilly Among Clouds, Kurri Kurri alt-country songstress Tori Forsyth, This Way North, Imogen Clark & Band, Mark Lang, Weeping Willows, Piper Butcher, Darcy Fox, Elyssa Faith and Twin Willows.
DECADE OF BURN
PENNSYLVANIA metalcore heavyweights August Burns Red will celebrate 10 years since the release of their album Constellations by touring Australia next spring. The Cambridge Hotel will host the band on October 13.
PALS DROP IN
NEWCASTLE grunge revivalists Pals will open The Drop music festival on Saturday at King Edward Park after being selected as the local Triple J Unearthed winners.
Pals have been a mainstay of the Newcastle underground scene in recent years, but Saturday's Surfest event is expected to be the four-piece's largest ever audience.