MATT’S FAV ALBUMS
1. Seekae – +Dome
I probably don’t need to spend too many unlimited digital column inches professing my love for Seekae. These guys are the best band in Australia. Possibly the whole world. +Dome took all of its predecessors strong points and input them into a more mature, cohesive and ambitious album. A truly stunning achievement.
2. Guerre – Darker My Love
Track: ‘Millenium Blues’
The hardest working bro in Australian music averaging 4.6 gigs per week, Guerre has burst onto the scene in a big way. Last year I was posting the tunes that this faceless dude was dripfeeding to the blogging world, and now he’s put out a truly amazing album (EP?) and has a swelling local profile. Knowing how prolific he is, I’m sure there’ll be more Guerre to look forward to in 2012 – which is great news for everyone who likes any music ever.
3. Ernest Ellis – Kings Canyon
Track: ‘New Blood’
Ernest Ellis always seemed like an odd fit for Dew Process. I liked his last album, but it didn’t sound like Ernie was being himself. The question, “who is Ernest Ellis” has been resoundingly answered with Kings Canyon and the formation of his tight new band. 10 killer ambitious tunes that have also greatly improved his live show – EE was definitely one of my fav local shows of the year as well.
4. Lawrence English – The Peregrine
[The tracks are too massive to add here in any decent quality, so please accept this Soundcloud promo instead and just got and buy the thing]
I love almost everything Lawrence English puts out. A Colour For Autumn is one of my favourite albums of all time, and the The Peregrine finds him mining territory that mixes the loose “song-ness” of that album with the dense textures of his other work. Stunning, haunting, totally engrossing. It’s not for everyone, but that doesn’t take anything away from this work of art.
5t. Jack Ladder & The Dreamlanders – Hurtsville
Track: ‘Position Vacant’
I have a photo of Nick Cave in my wallet. In front my licence. I don’t understand Nick Cave fans who don’t like Jack Ladder – but there’s plenty of them. Yes, he sounds pretty damn similar, but seriously… These songs are really special – atmospheric, moving, at times haunting. Despite opening with a comparison to Mr Cave, I’m also for considering this album on its own merits – but even in the shadow of NC it still holds its own. I don’t know anyone else who could make the line “I wanna make like a tree” sound cool. Maybe Britt Daniel, but that’s it.
5t. Royal Headache – Royal Headache
Track: ‘Down The Lane’
I’d heard great things about this album before I’d even heard the album itself, but the weight of expectations didn’t do it any harm. I was late on the Royal Headache bandwagon, but I’m on it in a big way now. A lot of lo-fi rock has come out of this country lately, but none have done it as well as Royal Headache IMO. It never relies on the aesthetic to give it cred, and the way Shogun makes some fairly plain lyrics sound so emotive is the mark of a standout frontman. Possibly the best frontman in Aus?
Honorable Mentions: Oliver Tank, Thrupence (for these amazing mixtapes), Twerps, Nakagin, Cut Copy, Total Control, Oscar + Martin, Lost Animal, Collarbones
Bonus International List
1. Real Estate – Days
2. Tim Hecker – Ravedeath, 1972
3. Bon Iver – Bon Iver
4. Action Bronson – Dr Lecter
5. Smith Westerns – Dye It Blonde
Honorable Mentions: Jurgen Muller, James Blake, Tycho, Blanck Mass, Clams Casino, Lil B, Coppice Halifax, The Antlers, Panda Bear, Lykke Li, Nicholas Jaar, Gauntlet Hair, Rangers
MEL’S FAV ALBUMS
1. Jack Ladder & The Dreamlanders – ‘Hurtsville’
Track: ‘Beautiful Sound’
Tall, brooding, baritone kinda guy comes out and themes his third record about the shitfalls of love. People were just going to take jibes at this, but you have to get past the superficial Nick Cave comparisons (music never came out of a vacuum ya know). Sure, it’s lesser a chirpy follow up to ‘Love Is Gone’, but this was never intended to be a charismatic record. From the first swell of ‘Beautiful Sound’, to the Triffids tinged ‘Cold Feet’, there’s so many reasons why this is a brilliant record.
2. Twerps – ‘Twerps’
Couldn’t put Real Estate’s ‘Days’ in here for the purposes of sticking to Aus bands, but the Twerps album is probably the next best thing. Lyrics like “we’ll get drunk, we’ll get stoned, we’ll get high, we’ll get drunk” reek of surburban precociousness on paper, but the Twerps subtle delivery makes this an earnest album at best. Matt Frawley’s vocals tend to lazily saunter off track but that’s all part of the appeal. Droney surf track ‘Dreaming’ and the gorgeous treble hooks in ‘Who Are You’ are my faves. Would make friends with this record if I could.
3. Kins – ‘Dancing Back and Forth In Whipped Cream’
A great release from one of my favourite Melbourne bands, who’ve recently relocated to the UK. The album is apparently about a guy who ‘spent $2000 at a brothel and was baffled by his wife’s lack of understanding’. Thom Savage’s fragile refrain is hard to shirk away from and Simon Lam drums like a machine. Enjoyed all the tracks on this, but ‘Lake Troposphere’ is a fave.
4. King Gizzard – ‘Willoughby’s Beach’
Track: ‘Lunch Meat’
Name a song ‘Dustbin Fletcher’ and you’ll probably wind up in this list too. An enthusiastic first LP for the 7 piece who’ve only been jamming since the start of the year. Good things happened when these kids discovered reverb. ‘Willoughby’s Beach’ packs in at a punchy 20 minutes, and with lyrics that don’t span more than a few words for most songs, this revels more in hummability than anything else. Watching these dudes fight over stage space, eat several mics, hump theremins and swing off the roof of the Tote with plenty of reptilian finesse also put them in my gig highlights this year. ‘Lunch Meat’ is my pick. Awesome cover art is also another reason to get this record.
5. Middle East – ‘I Want That You Are Always Happy”
On surface listen, this album simmers on the slow burner – but what it lacks for in cohesiveness of ideas, it makes up for as a wonderful collection of separate tracks. There were high expectations for this record, and I’m not sure if those people who were disappointed by this album were looking for more hooks or to be lulled into another emotional malaise like ‘Recordings of The Middle East’ did. Moments of cacophonic jams (‘Mount Morgan End’) against more orchestral flourishes (‘Sydney To Newcastle’) might fight against consistency, but ‘Land of the Bloody Unknown’ and ‘Dan’s Silverleaf’ offer more ground. Narrated by delicate songwriting, the album captures a great sense of warmth and open space present in that distinct ‘Australian’ sound I love. If anything, ‘Months’ is the best song that sums up this record. A fitting send off for The Middle East, this is definitely an album I’ll continue to return to in years to come.
Bonus 6-10 list!
6. Tim Fitz – Beforetime EP
7. Abbe May – Design Desire
8. Big Scary – Vacation
9. Witch Hats – Pleasure Syndrome
10. Snowman – Absence
DAVE’S FAV SONGS
Catcall – ‘Satellites’
This is taken from Catcall’s debut album which I understand is arriving very soon. The joy I felt pumping Miami Horror’s ‘Sometimes’ the year before has been replaced by the sparkle of this fantastic dance bump. I’ve seen Catcall play a couple of times and her shows are amongst the most fun, emotionally charged and uplifting experiences I’ve ever had at live gigs.
Harmony – ‘Cacophonous Vibes’
If you don’t feel something deep inside your guts when listening to this track you must be fucking dead. Great idea to join such gorgeous backing vocals with the gravel of Tom Lyngcoln’s dark vocals. Try singing this chorus out loud and not feel peace afterwards.
The Jezabels – ‘Endless Summer’
If you listen to JJJ I’d forgive you for being sick of hearing about The Jezabels but thankfully I have community radio so I’m actually sick of the sweet DIY loop pedal hoopla. This band plays a thundering set live and the ‘Endless Summer’ video actually had a narrative which considering all the pointless fluff flooding our blogs is quite refreshing.
Ernest Ellis & The Panamas – ‘Great Sky’
Ernest Ellis & The Panamas played the Toff earlier this year and it was probably my fav local show of the year. I was lost in their sound, transfixed by the presence Ellis has on stage and took some of my better photos of the year.
International: James Blake – ‘Lindisfarne’
The international bump for the year comes from the remarkable self-titled record by James Blake. The only thing better then this record was seeing him perform it live. An achingly beautiful sound and genius movement of experimental beats and vocal distortion.