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OPINION

SXSW Feature: Five lessons learned from my first week in Austin...

As I lie on a hotel bed with just the light of this computer screen illuminating a right arm which is heavily decorated with venue wristbands from seven nights of concerts, pub gigs and failed arena shows, I've had time to reflect on the whirlwind that has been my first SXSW experience. I'm not here to gloat about how many famous people we've seen walking down 6th or Red River (though there has been a lot, oh em gee), or how I like, totally came across an indie-thrash-folk-acoustic duo who are like, totally going to be on your radars soon dudes. Rather, the following are just a few things I've picked up from my multiple walks around downtown and interacting with some of the SXSW well-practiced - you will feel like a small fish in a big ocean here. As the saying goes, everything is bigger in Texas and their music festivals are no different.

Opinion: Is Kanye West allowed to be arrogant?

“Hatewagons” are not hard to understand but they still confuse me, and they always seem to snowball within those who identify as hipsters; those who disguise their cynicism as thoughtful criticism and let loose with witticisms like “douche” every time the name Kanye West is mentioned.

Hello Asia! Opinion: AKB48 - Music For Middle Aged Men?

Guest writer Yeo Xin-Yi gives her opinion on Japanese pop phenomenon AKB48.

Hello Asia! Opinion: Woe To The Ballad Fans!

I am the type of person who likes to sit in a chair at the end of the day and listen to soothing songs such as Davichi’s Two of Us or Turtle – basically songs that are great for staring into the night sky and reflecting on the day or thinking about your life and the future.

Hello Asia! Opinion: Sexy Girl Group Concepts - Are We Seeing Too Many?

Just yesterday, I came across Ga-In's teaser for her song F**K U and though I was not thoroughly shocked (I mean, the Brown Eyed Girls have been doing pretty R-rated MVs for a while), the fact that all my related videos section on YouTube all had sexy girl group teasers or MVs, ranging from Miss A's Hush all the way to Girls Day's Something.

Opinion: Shock, upsets and elation at the '14 Grammys - why we love to hate award shows.

And so it came to pass that the 56th annual GRAMMY Awards were held in Los Angeles on Sunday night (USA). The ceremony was much talked about, as it is every year, for stand out performances, memorable moments and clear upsets. 2014 was a year where there 34 couples were married onstage by Queen Latifah, Beyonce and Jay Z proved just how much of a power couple they are and Trent Reznor took to social media in launching a huge 'Fuck You' at the music institution. I have to ask though: with each ceremony (VMAs et al included) making headlines annually for some reason or another, why are we as a viewing public, so shocked and surprised?

Feature: Pearl Jam's Big Day Out tour, from the perspective of a diehard fan and AU photographer.

To say Jennifer Sando is just a Pearl Jam fan is a slight understatement. The talented Adelaide-based (and AU review) photographer is behind the Picture In a Frame book, which showed her quest to photograph the iconic frontman, Eddie Vedder, himself. A beautifully composed collection of photographs and text detailing the journey wrapped up with the pièce de résistance, a pocket of time where Sando was finally able to meet and spend time with Vedder, resulting in the portrait she'd worked hard to get. Now, a few years on, Pearl Jam are back in the country for the Big Day Out with a stomper live show and a new album. Sando gives us an insight into her experience - having travelled to Melbourne purely to be reunited with the band, before they hit her hometown this coming weekend.

Opinion: A response to Fairfax's "Calling The Tune" article.

Over the weekend, Fairfax Media published an article entitled "Calling The Tune" (read it here), which captured this moment in the Australian music industry. A moment that sees the government funded radio station triple j as the leading national voice (musically) for 18-24 year olds. With essentially no competition, no one else has the ability to break artists the way they do, in the genres and demographic they focus on. The article focuses on the criticism that the station has received as a result of all this. In my opinion, while this is an important discussion to have, I've grown tired of the negative rhetoric about a station that DOES support Australian music.

Feature: 20 tracks guaranteed to get you singing and moving at the 2013/14 Falls Festival!

Soon, thousands will be getting in their cars or jumping on planes in making the annual trip to Lorne, Marion Bay and now Byron Bay for the 2013/14 Falls Festival! There are obviously going to be a huge amount of musical highlights over the New Year's festival, but to get you keen, we've come up with a list of 20 tracks by Falls artists that are guaranteed to get bodies moving, grinding, jumping and everything else. Without further ado...

The Next Step: From Beatmaker to Producer

Right now all across the world, there are literally tens of thousands of young guns punching away at their laptops + MIDI interface of choice. Painstakingly pasting together loops, perhaps sampling some 90s tune, chopping it all together and creating exceptional track beds. I get demos from young beatmakers regularly, and am often blown away at what’s being achieved out there, and I’m also glad they’ve found a better 'distraction' than video games!

Opinion: What does the future hold for festivals in Australia?

With the recent cancellation of the second date of Big Day Out, we're once again shown that even the most ambitious of festival promoters are having to... well, reconsider their ambitions. It's more than safe to say that Big Day Out isn't going anywhere, especially with the management shuffle, but what of the rest? Summadayze doesn't look set to return, Future had to bring in Mushroom to stay alive, Peats and Pyramid aren't back for 2013 (not surprising on the former of course), there's no more Parklife or Harvest - two staples of the second half of the year - and Homebake have had to rethink the way they present the event to remain relevant and survive. And don't get me started on the hip hop festivals.

The AU Lists: 5 Australian (Music) Radio Shows Worth Listening To.

Through the evolution of podcasts, streaming services, blogs, and other ways of divulging music, radio has kept itself alive by adapting formats. For those who are music lovers who still want a good radio show to give them music content that is unique, fresh and entertaining, there are plenty of options. The below five shows are good places to head off to if you’re keen on discovering a even finer niche – Australian music.

Opinion: One Direction and the allure of the 'Boy Band' (from the perspective of a 90's child).

From September 23rd, Australia will be whipped up into frenzy when the world’s biggest boy band, One Direction, arrive for their extensive national tour. The British five-piece, who have recently picked up a VMA for their latest single, “Best Song Ever” and currently are celebrating and promoting the release of This Is Us, the first One Direction movie/documentary to be released across the globe. Many continue to criticise the band for their manufactured beginnings, whilst record sales and global popularity of the band only grows stronger.

Feature: 10 Tips to Surviving Your First Falls Festival... - Part Two

Continuing on with our guide to surviving and making the most of your first Falls Festival, the AU crew offers up some suggestions about money, checking the whole site out and avoiding the age-old vodka/water mix up faux pas.

Feature: 10 Tips to Surviving Your First Falls Festival... - Part One

Earlier this week, the first artist announcement for the 2013 Falls Festival was revealed, with The Roots, Vampire Weekend and more set to fly out to spend their New Year period with us. As it will be the first time at the festival for many of the artists and the first time Falls will be held in Byron Bay, I can only imagine there are many punters out there who'll be attending the festival for the first time in 2013. Having that cherry popped myself last year, I thought it would be a good idea to pull together tips from the AU crew in producing a little bit of a survival guide for four days of inebriation, (in some cases) freezing weather, lack of personal hygiene...and some of the best days and nights of your year.