Almanac Music: Top Albums, EPs and gigs of 2018

 

The Living End- Wunderbar
Recorded in Berlin, the eighth album from The Living End is more upbeat than it’s slightly dark predecessor, 2016’s “Shift”. A mature yet still furiously rocking album. From catchy lead single “ Don’t Lose It”, war ode “Too Young To Die”, the thumping rock of “Proton Pill” to the surprising “Amsterdam”, a song featuring only Chris Cheney’s vocals and guitar, “Wunderbar” is as diverse an album as TLE have released, yet as listenable throughout as any in their back catalogue. Cheney’s songwriting continues to reach new highs. My favourite tune on the album, “Love Won’t Wait”, contains my favourite line of the year, “And the Punt Road traffic crawls…but love won’t wait”. Indeed.

 

 

Perry Keyes- Jim Salmon’s Lament
This album tells the tale of a family living in inner Sydney, a family getting by, not always making the right choices. City-based Australian storytelling in song done as well as anything released by Paul Kelly or Stephen Cummings. Music journalist Jeff Jenkins describes Perry as what Springsteen may have sounded like had he grown up in Redfern. I was totally hooked on this album for months in 2018. If you haven’t heard “Jim Salmon’s Lament”, hunt it down. You’ll be rewarded time and time again.

 

 

Marlon Williams- Make Way For Love
27 year old New Zealander Marlon Williams has a way with words that belies his youthfulness, and simply the most timeless, exquisite voice you’d hear anywhere in 2018. The album centres on the break up of his relationship with fellow Kiwi artist Aldous Harding. Incredibly, Harding joins him to duet on “Nobody Gets What They Want Anymore”. Williams has toured the world this year on the back of this, his second album. A star has been born.

 

 

The Aints!- The Church Of Simultaneous Existence
While I was well aware of the work of The Saints, I’m forever indebted to fellow Almanacker Mark ‘Swish’ Schwerdt for introducing me to the solo work of Ed Kuepper, and in turn this magnificent 2018 album. All songs were unrecorded/unreleased 1970’s songs from The Saints that Ed’s band have given enormous energy to. A pulsating brass section makes it’s mark throughout, perfectly complementing Kuepper’s gravelly vocals and superb band.

 

 

Jim Moginie and the Family Dog- Bark Overtures
The involvement of Jim Moginie pretty much ensures there will be quality attached to any project. No exception here. Moginie has assembled a band that delivers a strong mix of rock and jammin’ instrumentals. While the Oils’ sound is certainly present, there’s plenty here to keep you engaged if you’re after something new from Moginie and his exceptional band.

 

 

Dan Parsons- Sunday Morning Cinema
The third sublime album from the wonderfully talented Dan Parsons. Dreamy, crisp vocals and superb songwriting highlight these laid back tunes. A young Australian star very much on the rise.

 

 

Cacartu- Habitat
Debut album from Macedon Ranges product Cacartu. Wonderful soul sound, magnificent bass lines and great guitar work. Plus the truly incredible voice of singer Kaitlyn Secker. The smoothest release of 2018.

 

 

Luca Brasi- Stay
Tasmania’s Luca Brasi released their fourth, and best, album in 2018. Big riffs, catchy hard rock and the very Aussie rock voice of singer/bassist Tyler Richardson. An album about responsibility and growing up. Luca Brasi have certainly matured into one of Australia’s best rock bands.

 

 

West Thebarton- Different Beings Being Different
Debut album from this Adelaide 7 piece band. A full on, flat out energetic album that gives no rest or respite over 11 tracks. A rocking, Australian sound that harks back to the likes of AC/DC (Bon Scott era) and Rose Tattoo while still sounding fresh and new.

 

 

Neil & Liam Finn- Lightsleeper
Had long looked forward to this project being a huge fan of both father and son. While it doesn’t hit any great heights compared to both Neil & Liam’s previous work, “Lightsleeper” is a lush album full of magnificent Finn harmonies. Features Neil’s youngest son Elroy on drums, wife Sharon on bass and also making an appearance is Mick Fleetwood from Neil’s new band.

 

 

Missy Higgins- Solastalgia
The first new album of original songs from Missy Higgins since 2012, “Solastalgia” is her most varied release yet. A thoroughly listenable, mature album from one of the pre-eminent voices in this country.

 



The Silverbeets- Stay Tuned
The second Tasmanian band to make this list, “Stay Tuned” is the debut album from The Silverbeets, following on from their excellent 2016 EP “Purple Stems”. Clearly influenced by 1970’s progressive rock, there’s plenty of layers to this record that are enhanced by multiple listens. Really hoping these guys cross Bass Strait soon for some Victorian gigs, would love to see these songs live.

 

Paul Kelly- Nature
Last year I included Paul Kelly’s album “Life Is Fine” on my list of best albums, noting that it was his best album for years and right up there with his best work. “Nature” is not far behind. Meaningful songs about life and our country. May PK’s career spike continue.

 

 

Shiva & The Hazards- Future Cult Classics
Had never heard of these guys until I heard them play at the event I was working at, the Brewers Feast at the Abbotsford Convent in February. The hypnotic “East India Empress” drew me right in and remains one of my favourite songs of 2018. “Future Cult Classics” is extremely diverse for a four-track EP. Look forward to seeing what they do next.

 

Shiva & The Hazards live at Brewers Feast, Abbotsford Convent, February 2018

 

 

Baby Blue- Do What You Like
The second EP from Melbourne’s Baby Blue. Slightly darker than their 2017 EP “In My Mind”, still a fun garage rock record. Another of my favourite lines of 2018, “You’ve got a dirty mind, but I don’t mind, it’s just like mine” features on the track “Dream Life”. Singer/songwriter/guitarist Rhea Caldwell is an immense talent. More please!

 

 

Live Album Of The Year-
The Living End- Live in Europe 2018
Vinyl only limited release sold at their gigs on the Wunderbar tour. Not cheap but to have the magnificence of a live TLE show on (purple) vinyl, signed by the band, is essential for a fan. Of course, it sounds great.

 



Cover Album of the Year-

The Screaming Jets- Gotcha Covered
While this yearly review normally wouldn’t consider a covers album, special mention needs to be made of The Screaming Jets 2018 album of Aussie rock classics. Dave Gleeson and his incredibly tight band absolutely nail Australian songs such as “Overkill”, “Wedding Ring”, “Errol”, “Purple Sneakers” & “Darling It Hurts”. Perfect soundtrack for your Sunday BBQ.

 

Gigs of the Year-

Slightly down on gig going in 2018, but two shows certainly stood out.

 

Alex Lahey at the Barwon Club Hotel 22/04/2018
Packed house in Geelong for her “I Love You Like A Brother” album tour. The whole crowd singing along to every word. Rocking show, Alex is certainly making an impact.

 

 

The Living End at The Forum
I can’t and won’t stop raving about how good The Living End are live. Boy do they put on an entertaining show, flat out all the way through. A big thanks to my mate Jamie who was on steering duty for this gig, allowing a few beers for myself. Wonderful mix of classics and new album songs. Long live The Living End.

 

Re-visit Luke’s top albums from 2017

Click here to re-visit Luke’s top albums from 2016

 

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About Luke Reynolds

Cricket and Collingwood tragic. Twitter: @crackers134

Comments

  1. Dennis Gedling says:

    The Chills album ‘Snowbound’ was a winner among many others.

    They’re undergoing a bit of a renaissance with this album and the last one ‘Silver Bullets’. Martin Phillips really went through a dark period for a long time of depression which led to drug use which led to hepatitis that almost killed him. Now recovered and this album reflects it.

  2. The best music I heard for the year came from some ones veranda on a radio show.Seriously Luke huge respect for how much work and detail you go to each year

  3. Luke Reynolds says:

    Thanks Dennis, I will check ‘Snowbound’ out.

    Cheers Malcolm. There was some great music that night on the deck, Dan Parsons, whose album ‘Sunday Morning Cinema’ is featured above, was absolutely superb live that night.

  4. Luke – have a listen to a CD by The Melting Pot called “Why Be”. Some great stuff on there, particularly a track called “Boy at the bus stop”.

    Don’t have as much time (or inclination) for new music these days. Too much tripe to wade through. So thanks for this condensed list!!

  5. Hi Luke , this is a great overview as my playlist is getting tired and in need of some new and fresh tunes. I’m going to check them out especially those I’m not aware of…
    Ed Kueper is a fave of mine but don’t have the one you mention above.
    Living End! They’ve played a few times at Caulfield after the Cuos.. this year they were sensational. (the live stage..a great addition to cup carnival MRC)
    Introduced to the music of Finley Quale by a friend this year,, he has in interesting unique sound.
    And the Beatles White album I’ve enjoyed in parts.
    Music with brisk walking pace always a bonus to keep daily step count up too.
    HNY

  6. DBalassone says:

    Excellent work Luke. You are an Aussie music guru & make me realise how much I’m missing out on. I do have the Perry Keyes album ‘Johnny Ray’s Downtown’ – one of my favourite CDs. Perry is our Bruce Springsteen. I think he toured recently with Tim Freedman (who is surely one of our greatest songwriters too).

  7. Luke Reynolds says:

    Djps-I’ve searched extensively online for The Melting Pot, plus the song and album you mentioned. No luck. Keen to hear it.

    Kate- HNY to you too. Found a Youtube clip and not much more else on Finley Quale, I liked the sound, where is he from?
    The Living End are truly magnificent live. White Album is wonderful, how well does The Beatles music stand the test of time?!!

    Damian- ‘Johnny Ray’s Downtown” is a great album. “Jim Salmon’s Lament” is by far Perry’s best album. Do yourself a favour.

  8. Rick Kane says:

    Hi Luke

    Thanks for this wrap up, some things for me to chase down, particularly the Perry Keyes album. Probably not The Screaming Jets!

    I never really got The Living End (love a couple of the singles but not moved to listen to albums). I will see them on the bill at the Joan Jett concert in a couple of weeks so I look forward to seeing them deliver live.

    Marlon Williams album is definitely up there in my Top 10 albums, can he do no wrong?

    Two albums I notice not in your list. Courtney Barnett and Kasey Chambers. Thoughts? Kasey’s performance of Aint No Little Girl at the Americana show at the Thornbury Theatre in October was one of the highlight concert moments for me.

    Cheers

  9. Luke I’ll get a CD for you

  10. Luke Reynolds says:

    G’day Rick, as we’ve discussed at an Almanac lunch or two, Marlon Williams is a sublime talent.
    Reckon you’ll love the Perry Keyes album.
    Kasey Chambers “Campfire” album is very good and one of the few albums I couldn’t quite squeeze in.
    As for Courtney Barnett, gave “Tell Me How You Really Feel” several listens upon release, found it a solid, ok record but just couldn’t get into it anywhere near as I did much her magnificent debut album.
    Hope you enjoy The Living End!

    Dips- thanks!

  11. Thanks for your annual list Luke. Always look forward to it. Whilst it has some great moments I’m with you on C. Barnett as I found it too polished and safe.

    Anticipating the 2019 releases from Julia Jacklin, Ali Barter, Gang of Youths and Vampire Weekend.

    Back to the cricket. Ouch.

  12. John Butler says:

    Onya Luke. I’m so out of touch with the current scene now that your annual wraps serve very well as a tip sheet for what I should chase down.

    I reveal my age and inclinations when I say the only two albums I’ve heard on this list are the Aints! and P. Kelly. Both are real growers, particularly the Aints. Ed Kuepper has a body of work that stands easily with any group of artists.

    You’ve tempted me to give a few of the others a listen.

    Cheers

    PS: Randall, no need to bring us down by mentioning the cricket!

  13. Luke Reynolds says:

    Mickey- agree with your assesment of C.Barnett’s album.
    Also looking forward to new albums from the four artists you mention.
    Ouch indeed in regards to the cricket.

    JB- if you liked The Aints! and Paul Kelly’s albums, I really recommend you check out Perry Keyes’ magnificent “Jim Salmon’s Lament”. Another real grower.

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