NATALIE Henry is in a happier frame of mind. Bubbly and excited. You can hear it in her voice when she speaks, and you can most definitely recognise it in her debut solo album Apple and Pride, out on Saturday.
"Everything has a happier vibe," Henry said. "I feel like when you listen to this album it's not so sad. Which is really nice."
It's major shift from her only other album, 2016's Cold Love, released by The Wayward Henrys, her alt-country band with her ex-husband Brock Henry.
While Cold Love was wonderfully dark and a brutally honest depiction of a crumbling marriage, Apple and Pride is a tale of renewal and self-discovery.
"It's probably reminiscent of my '90s girl-rock band fetish," Henry said. "It's still country and very Australian, but it has that rock vibe because [partner] Emily [A. Smith] plays a lot of electric guitar and it's a lot more poppy."
Apple and Pride was seemingly finished last winter when Henry released the moody first single If We Said Goodbye, but a trip to Nashville in September inspired a feverish period of songwriting and the new tracks were added to the record.
"It just came out so perfectly," she said. "I was worried it might have been a little mix-matched because I did part in one section and the rest when I got back, but it's meshed nicely."
Henry launches Apple and Pride at the Stag and Hunter Hotel on Saturday.
LAST HIT OF CATNIP
CATNIP vocalist-guitarist David Kercher hopes the Newcastle band will reunite in two years when he returns home from England.
The funk six-piece will farewell their fans on Saturday at the Cambridge Hotel with support from friends Duncan Woods & The Notable Few, Motherfunk and Spuz.
Catnip formed in 2015 and released their second EP Sketches three weeks ago, which they toured along the NSW north coast. But Kercher's decision to move to England on a two-year visa means the band is taking a hiatus to focus on university and work commitments.
"The guys in the band are like brothers to me and I really treasure everything we've done with the band," Kercher said.
KYLE CLOSE UP
NEWCASTLE fans will be the first to hear Kyle Lionhart perform his latest single So Close, after the Byron Bay indie-folk artist announced he'll begin his upcoming tour at 48 Watt Street on April 24.
Lionhart is the latest Aussie troubadour to follow the likes of Kim Churchill and Ziggy Alberts in melding indie-folk melodies, coastal vibes and environment concerns in his music. So Close will feature on Lionhart's first album, due for release later this year.
DEATH TOUR ALIVE
IF you were one of those disappointed ticket-holders left hanging when Murder By Death cancelled their 2012 Australian tour, your patience has finally been rewarded.
The Indiana-based gothic Americana band have announced they will return this winter joined by Against Me! frontwoman Laura Jane Grace and her latest band The Devouring Mothers.
The massive double bill rolls into the Hamilton Station Hotel on June 16.
Murder By Death, led by husband and wife duo Adam Turla and Sarah Balliett, have released seven albums since 2002, including last year's The Other Shore.
In 2012 Murder By Death were forced to cancel an Australian tour after the promoter Jung Hearts lost an investor just weeks before it was due to begin. The five-piece haven't returned since. Meanwhile, Grace dropped her debut solo album last year, Bought To Rot.
ANSELMO STILL ON
TWO venues in New Zealand might have cancelled shows, but Philip H. Anselmo & The Illegals' tour of Australia will proceed.
It was announced on Tuesday that Auckland's Galatos and The Club Cavern in Christchurch had cancelled the former Pantera frontman's shows next week in the aftermath of the Christchurch massacre.
In 2016 Anselmo was captured on video shouting "white power" and making Nazi salutes while on stage. He apologised and blamed the outburst on excessive drinking. The Club Cavern posted on their Facebook page that, "We do not and will not support white supremacy or racism."
Anselmo arrived in Australia on Tuesday and begins his tour on Thursday in Canberra. Anselmo & The Illegals play at the Cambridge Hotel on March 31 with King Parrot.
TOTALLY Unicorn frontman Drew Gardner has suffered some difficult times in recent years, including a divorce and substance abuse, and he's channelled that darkness into his Sydney band's forthcoming second album Sorry.
The punk four-piece are renown for doing things differently, and they kept true to their reputation last month when they pulled up in a Sydney back alley and performed out of a truck. On April 21 Totally Unicorn head to Newcastle for a conventional pub gig at the Hamilton Station Hotel.