Hiya. Longer between updates than I thought (back to college is the excuse I’m giving). Tonight the first ARIA was supposed to be awarded on 7pm Project.. I’m still not sure if they did. Some dude who was on JJJ a few years back interviewed Dan Sultan, perhaps he won something? It was handled poorly, as it looks like the awards may be altogether this year. Powderfinger doing their final performance at the ceremony though.
Recently, a lot has been made over a new book about the best 100 Australian albums. I haven’t looked through it yet, but I’m guessing the ordinary suspects will pop up again. Probably an interesting read, but it may not leave you with too much stuff you haven’t heard before.
With this in mind, I thought I’d let you all in on my 10 favourite Australian albums. I’m not going to order it, or I will never be happy with the order.
New Buffalo – Last Beautiful Day
Look, okay, this is my favourite album of all time. I’ve listened so many times, but each listen still thrills me. From the wonky pop of ‘Recovery’ to the sparse, haunting ‘Come Back’, this album, to me at least, doesn’t have a dud note. I could have put all her albums in this 10, but I’m sticking to one album per artist. Even then I wanted to cheat and list the Sally Setlmann album as well. ‘I’ve got You and You’ve got me’ should have been a huge hit, on par with ‘1-2-3-4’, which she of course wrote with good friend Fiest.
Talkshow Boy – Watch as I perform my own tracheotomy
When I first saw TSB, it was a revelation, unlike anything I heard witnessed before. So bombastic and over the top, his equipment (a sole laptop) broke (twice, although the second time it turned out he had somehow just muted it) all the while feeling like it could be part of the show. But it goes a lot past the live performance, the 19 songs on this album perfectly demonstrating his glitched out production, ear for a hook, but most importantly, genius lyrics. From dealing with heartbreak (‘Being Heartbroken is Way Cool’) to fashion (‘Freaky Teen Fashion – Time for A makeover!’) to technology (the now somewhat dated ‘OMG I <3 href="http://www.pocketclock.org/talkshowboy/waipmot.html">http://www.pocketclock.org/talkshowboy/waipmot.html and I strongly advise you grab it.
Magic Dirt – Roky’s Room
This shit is brutal. No vocals. No melody. No percussion. No song titles. Just heavy as fuck drone. This was Dean Turner’s love letter to the noise music he always found so much inspiration in, and stands as possibly their best release (even if it was never really billed as Magic Dirt, just Roky’s Room). Magic Dirt were at a time of change. Having left behind the poppier sounds of their last few albums, they had just released the also excellent mini-album Beast, which saw them return to their rawer roots, but nothing like this. This album might remain their most obscure, and most ‘difficult’, but it deserves to be remembered.
Go Betweens – 16 Lovers Lane
Was hard to work out which GB’s albums to slot in here, but in the end, it had to be 16LL. Right from the opening of ‘Love Goes on!’, through to ‘Dive for your Memory’, it feels like the definitive statement of these two young men from Brisbane, the love, the loss, the boredom, the kinda wishing you lived somewhere else, all themes many Brisbanites still click with today. It of course features ‘Streets of your Town’, their most popular release, which later got used in an ad for the local paper (albeit, not using THAT line). A fine album in every regard, its nice to know that Australia sometimes doesn’t let their treasures be forgotten.
BIGSTRONGBRUTE – Gardens in the Gutter
Ah, the first Brisbane entry on my list. Paul Donoughue is BIGSTRONGBRUTE, a lo-fi, folk-pop maestro. Like Go-Betweens before him/them, this album is a local masterpiece, unfortunately not as recognized. It sways from Beirut-esque pop, through to an almost country and western feel, but never feels disjointed or schizophrenic. A worthy listen if you can find it, hopefully one day it will be remembered in the same vein as GB’s. (sorry, this was really poorly written, and doesn’t do the album justice)
Architecture in Helsinki – In case we die
Schizophrenic may be a mission statement for AiH. A natural progression of their whimsical debut, this album was bursting at the seams with horns, strings, percussion, all things musical. It took AiH to a new audience, but unfortunately, they haven’t yet been able to recapture the feeling and excitement of this album. The title track is in 4 parts, with the melody swinging crazily, and 4 completely different moods being completely fleshed out in the space of 3 minutes (altogether, not each). The most ‘fun’ album on this list.
My Disco – Paradise
The cover of this album portrays My Disco’s three members, dressed in black, against a stark Southern Australian outback landscape. You can see miles around (the album even folds out to see more landscape) but for the most part, its just these three men dressed head to toe in black. It sums the album up better than any other cover I have encountered. Look at any review for this album, and one word keeps coming up – minimalist. Clocking in at under 40 minutes, this feels so complete, every beat feels justified, like if it wasn’t completely necessary it wouldn’t be on the record. Albini’s production shines, but that isn’t the point, this is My Disco’s work, and theirs alone.
Something for Kate – Echolalia
Probably not the most obvious of their albums for me to choose, but it’s my favourite, and has always held a very special position for me being the first cd I bought myself. ‘Monsters’ was a killer single, but the entire album was worthy. They acted as something of a gateway band for me, and I assume many others, taking me away from the realms of Triple J, and into discovering more ‘alternative’ stuff, and lead me to begin listening to 4zzz, which obviously informs a lot of this list (I did almost include Veronicas though). After this, I felt the band kind of lost it a bit, but Dempseys solo album was great, and felt like a successor to Echolalia.
Sleepy Jackson – Lovers
Luke Steele. What a wanker right. The most frustrating thing about his huge ego has always been that he makes the music to back it up. Bands have formed from members he has turfed, but after hearing their output, he was probably right to kick them. This is his masterpiece though. Switching genre from song to song, it hits alt-country, psychedelic rock, folk pop, and never has a dull moment. This deserves a spot in any collection, and stands up even today in a post Empire of the Sun world. Still a wanker though.
Ambitious Lovers – Stranger, Can I touch you?
This is like nothing I have ever heard. A junkyard, ukulele tribute to boredom, loves, and everyday life. ‘Wine’ could be the best song to ever come out of this city. I will never understand why they didn’t become synonymous with Brisbane, many who saw them became devoted fans. The album is available for download from www.incrementalrecords.com and if you don’t download it, you’re doing yourself a disservice. This album becomes a good friend.
Well, I rambled on for too long again. Hopefully the albums here help you understand the type of music this blog will discuss. The only other thing I have to say this week is that Deadshits #1 is on Friday at Woodland in Brisbane, features Bitch Prefect, Blank Realm, Teen Ax and more, and you should probably go.