Ten Favourite Australian Albums 2016
Having read and enjoyed Luke Reynolds contribution to music review on the Footy Almanac site (http://www.footyalmanac.com.au/almanac-music-best-albums-eps-of-2016/) I thought I would also have a go.
I most recently did this in 2014 and, as is my wont, I am limiting myself to Australian albums. And there is a bit of overlap with Luke’s list – because we both have impeccable taste. The albums are presented in no particular order.
Olympia – Self Talk
When I first heard Olympia’s album Self Talk, I thought it might have been a little over-produced. On subsequent hearings, and believe me, there have been many, I have rescinded that first observation. This is an excellent album – consistent throughout. Olympia (real name Olivia Bartley) toured this album to acclaim in 2016. I am looking forward to seeing her at NGV Friday Nights on February 3.
The Goon Sax – Up To Anything
Yes they have drawn comparisons to The Go Betweens, and yes one of their members is Louis Forster, son of Robert, but this young trio is here on their own merit. From Brisbane, they have a sound that wouldn’t be out-of-place in the Melbourne jangle scene. They had an early spot on the Saturday at the recent Meredith and played well live. Getting some international attention as well.
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Skeleton Tree
Nick hasn’t lived in Australia for many years, but he was born in Warracknabeal, so still qualifies. I have never bought a Nick Cave album – this one came into my possession when a friend bought the vinyl and had no use for the accompanying digital download. The downbeat theme is understandable given the context of the album – the recent suicide of Nick’s son, but I have enjoyed this album more than I expected. Seeing the full band live on 15 January at an outdoor event in Ballarat.
Teeth and Tongue – Give Up On Your Health
I am so often surprised when artists aren’t getting as many accolades as I think they deserve. Teeth and Tongue are a case-in-point. Evidence of my fanboyism can be found here http://www.footyalmanac.com.au/music/ when I made an effort to arrive early at the 2010 Laneway Festival in order to see this up-and-coming act. Since then I have seen Teeth and Tongue live many times, most recently at an event called Hush – part of the 2016 Melbourne Music Festival – held in the unlikely environs of the Victorian Parliament building. Jess Cornelius has taken the band though various iterations in that time – I think it is currently a 5-piece.
King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard – Nonagon Infinity
A bit of overlap with Luke Reynolds. Another band I have been following since their early days, they are prolific in the album output, but only one album in 2016. It needs to be played loudly and sequentially – and on continuous loop. Something I didn’t actually get around to doing until driving to funeral in Ballarat, which was a bit weird. They were given a headline Friday night spot at 2016 Meredith, and their performance was eminently worthy.
The Peep Tempel – Joy
This is the band’s third album, but I knew nothing of them until I heard the song Carol on the radio. That was enough to send me out to buy the album – and then find out that Carol wasn’t actually on it. Oh well; what is included is a great listen of grungy rock. Have never seen them live, but from what I have seen on video, I think I would enjoy it. A lot.
Loose Tooth – Saturn Returns
Personal biases and infatuations mean I like most things that come out of Milk! Records – the record label (more like a family than a label) of Courtney Barnett and Jen Cloher. This is lovely Melbourne pop, with vocals primarily by Etta Curry, and some wonderful harmonies. It is promoted as an EP, but at 8-songs, I have slotted it in this list as an album. I have never seen them live – something I will rectify in 2017.
The Drones – Feelin Kinda Free
A slight change of pace from Loose Tooth, if you don’t mind an understatement. This is some heavy shit. The first song, which runs over 7 minutes, sets the tone. My highlight on the album is the relatively tuneful To Think I Once Loved You. With front-man Gareth Liddiard at full-throttle throughout the album, it is something best enjoyed with others who are like-minded. I have seen them live many times, most recently at 170 Russell. I will confess it was almost too much even for my well-conditioned ears, and I had to move towards the back of the venue. Bloody hell.
Melody Pool – Deep Dark Savage Heart
I am with Luke Reynolds on this one. While I don’t have Melody Pool’s 2013 album, 2013 is when I first saw her – in a small venue at Queenscliff Music festival. This 2016 album is a great leap forward from then, and has been on high rotation (it is an album I feel I can play in the office without too many co-worker complaints). Melody was another who played at Hush in parliament house, but it was a very stripped-back presentation. As Luke said, and commenters supported, an artist with a lot of potential. I hope it is realised.
Luca Brasi – Is This All We’re Going To Be?
This is one of those bands that I first saw live, and then had to go and chase down their music. The venue was New Year’s Eve On The Hill, a “boutique” festival just near Loch in Gippsland, at the end of 2015. Luca Brasi, named after a character from The Godfather, are from Tasmania. Their punkish rock sometimes has a bit of the Brit-pop sound about the vocals. A little bit of same-same with some of the album songs, but worth a listen.
Other Australian albums that came close to making the list:
Big Scary – Animal
The Grand Magoozi – The Grand Magoozi
Mike Noga – King
Little Wise – Silver Birch
Orb – Birth
Lost Animal – You Yang