Almanac Music: Best Australian Albums of 2019

The year just gone was another strong one for Australian music, and one which continued to showcase a wide ranging, deep and complex array of voices, styles and talent. And with the continual flow of new stuff being produced, it is often difficult for this unabashed supporter of Australian music to keep up. It is impossible to stay abreast of all new music, whilst also continuing to play old and new favourites. As such, some music gets put on the “To be listened to” list, but alas, destined never to be listened to.


Although a subscriber to PBS, I am also a regular listener of Triple J. This station has its faults, but I generally find it to be an excellent resource for discovering new releases. And despite everything, one undeniable quality about Triple J is that it is a fine supporter of Australian music. My youngest son Luke (21), who has eclectic musical tastes and loves music even more than his father, is also firming as an important sounding board and influencer of what I listen to.


With all this in mind, choosing 10 favourite albums from the past twelve months presents as a more difficult exercise than it would initially seem to be. But, fearlessly, I have had a crack nonetheless.

1.Teskey Brothers: “Run Home Slow”. I reviewed this album a few months ago on the ‘Nac in my series on Aussie albums. It is timeless, soulful, and brilliant. Lead singer Josh Teskey has a voice to die for. This album has deserved all the awards and all the praise heaped upon it.

2.Hilltop Hoods: “The Great Expanse”. The eighth studio album by the trio from the Adelaide hills debuted at #1 on the ARIA charts, and is their sixth album to reach that peak (they are the only Australian artists to have done this). This album sees the guys at the top of their game: extraordinary riffing, catchy hooks, and the genius of inviting in talented guest vocallists (Timberwolf, Illy, Ecca Vandal etc) to round out the tracks is something at which these guys have become expert. Not all ‘Nackers will be into this musical genre, but there is no denying that the Hoods are truly giants of Australian music.

3. Thelma Plum: “Better In Blak”. A surprisingly self-assured debut from the talented indigenous performer from Queensland, this album’s depth took me by surprise. Her voice is front and centre, and rightly so, because it is a rich instrument. Plum either wrote or co-wrote all 12 tracks; although many of them are catchy, the lyrics reveal darker themes. We will be hearing much more of Thelma Plum in the years ahead.

4. Alex Lahey: “Best of Luck Club”. This album got its hooks into me from the moment I heard the opening couple of tracks. It is a strong, guitar-heavy cracker from the versatile Lahey, whom I can report is also an excellent live performer. Repeated listens will strongly reward. One thing is certain: Alex Lahey rocks!

5. David Bridie: “The Wisdom Line”. Is there a more under-appreciated Australian musical artist than the veteran Bridie? I think not. This moody, but ultimately positive album highlights his masterful ability to translate his unique way of observing life into beautiful lyrics. The spoken word pieces also add to the feel of the album, which I reckon is his best solo effort. And that is saying something.

6. Art of Fighting: “Luna Low”. I was never into this band when they were in their pomp, as I considered them to “arty” for my palette. So it was with some reluctance that I listened to AoF’s first record in twelve years, but I was pleasantly surprised. Mature, atmospheric, and beautifully put together. Maybe this all says something about how my tastes have changed?

7. Montaigne: “Complex”. I cannot overstate the brilliance of this woman’s voice, nor the uniqueness of her ability to tell a story within the confines of a four-minute track. There are songs which change musical direction in a number of different ways, songs which are anthemic, songs which are tender. But all are uniquely Montaigne, who is amazingly, still only 24 years old. What a future she has.

8. Cold Chisel: “Blood Moon”. When the country’s greatest ever songwriter is also the keyboard player in the band, any new music will always be worth a listen. Sure, the Chisels are no longer in their prime and Barnesy’s voice is not what it once was, but they still have the chops and pride to do much more than just go through the motions. Pleasingly, there is little filler, and this album delivered much more than I expected.

9. Holy Holy: “My Own Pool of Light”. This album is astonishingly good, and gets better with every listen. On the surface, it is a collection of foot-tappers that have a touch of 80’s New Romanticism about them. But there is so much more lurking beneath the surface with this duo. The tracks pack a punch musically, while containing such themes as depression and suicide, the plight of asylum seekers, and homophobia. In an interview, singer Timothy Carroll said “Each song was trying to say something”. Yes, each song does say something – and a whole lot more.

10. The Beasts: “Still Here”. Some days I love this album, and worship its might. Other days I wonder if it isn’t just a pile of shite. The highs are thrilling, whilst the lows are extremely ho-hum. But there is no denying the consistency of the grinding dirty guitar of work of Charlie Owen, who really saves the day, and elevates this from something mediocre to a record worth listening to.

The richness and depth of the Australian music scene has me looking forward to what 2020 may bring.




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About Darren Dawson

Always North.


  1. Luke Reynolds says

    Fantastic list Smokie.

    In total agreeance with your first paragraph, so much talent in Australia, making it hard to keep up. I rarely give time to any overseas acts these days purely for that reason.

    Glad you included Alex Lahey’s album, probably my favourite of 2019. Brilliant live performer, yes she rocks!

    Considered Chisel’s album for my list, good solid album, but it just didn’t grab me and have the highs I got out of their other releases this decade “No Plans” and “The Perfect Crime”, which I thought were outstanding records.

    Looking forward to seeing what 2020 brings in Australian music!

  2. Thanks, Crackers.
    I probably included Chisel more for sentimental reasons.
    Alex Lahey often gets compared to Courteny Barnett. I must say that I much prefer A Lahey.

  3. Hi Smokie

    A good set of albums to sink my teeth into. Haven’t got to Bridie’s album yet so your list is a timely reminder.

    Didn’t even know AoF had an album out so I look forward to that. And I look forward to listening to new music by artists I haven’t heard of like Holy Holy and Montaigne.

    God knows how you found anything of interest in the CC album. I really struggled. Even as a dyed in the wool fan.

    I’ll give The Teskey Brothers a good listen but as I noted on Luke’s post after listening to his playlist they are a band I want to like more than I actually do.

    Two Aussie act that caught me attention in 2019 were Charlie Collins and Amyl & the Sniffers.


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