wowz. This has been so amazingly difficult. It’s been a year of evolution in regards to my music taste – a year when maamf featured perhaps more local stuff than ever before, and a year when the local scene in general was pretty freaking strong. It’s also been a year where my taste has gotten even broader…I don’t know how, but it has.
Attempting to dwindle this down to 10 was so hard. Others aren’t doing a top 10, but are instead doing a top 50. That be cray cray is you ask me.
I’m also too lazy.
So, like other years, a bit of an honourable mention section. The peeps that so nearly made the top 10 were:
Big Scary – Vacation, Feist – Metals, M83 – Hurry Up We’re Dreaming, Seekae +DOME, Toro Y Moi – Underneath The Pine, Total Control – Henge Beat.
There were also a whole heap of albums that made a super long list of about 48 albums or so – you can check out those on our facebook.
Anyway, from 1-10, these are my fave albums of 2011. Complete with a stream of a track from each. If you dig, you should get them out again. If you don’t have ‘em, grab ‘em!
1. Twerps – Twerps
From that opening riff, you know that this is going to be an amazing album. I guess time will tell, but to me, this album is already an Australian classic. Sounds super wanky, but it sounds Australian – I think it’s those big sweeping guitars and the strong bass lines. And it’s the fact that it straddles that line between sounding big and grand but still sounds like it’s just a few mates messing around.
Twerps – Who Are You
2. Adalita – Adalita
An album pretty heavy with emotion is Adalita’s debut. Dean Turner, bass player with Adalita’s old band Magic Dirt helped in the production of some of this album before he passed away two years ago. The album itself sounds quite restrained and considered – Adalita super strong vocals doubled up with a solo guitar full of distortion is almost haunting.
Adalita – The Repairer
3. Oscar + Martin – For You
This was so close for my album of the year. The thing I love the most about this disc is the beats. And the vocals. And that pretty Melbourne sounding floor tom. And the 90′s r’nb influence. But nah, yeah, it really is the grooves that get me on this.
Oscar + Martin – Do The Right Thing
4. Gotye – Making Mirrors
It would be stupid of me if I didn’t include this on the list. People are calling this album of the year, and you can see why. The amazing production on this album will ensure it has it’s place as a bit of an Aussie classic. Wally is an incredible musician and such an amazingly great songwriter. There isn’t a bad song on this disc.
Gotye – State of the Art
5. The Middle East – I Want That You Are Always Happy
Perhaps one of the most anticipated local releases of the year, this, as an album, is a bit of a work of art. The shear emotion that builds right across the disc is moving. Sure there are the sometimes out there lyrics (jesus you’re a fire in my foreskin everyday - Merry Christmas everyone!), but yeah, all together, it’s an album that evokes such clear imagery – and I don’t necessarily mean the lyrics. These guys definitely went out on a high note.
The Middle East – Ninth Avenue Reverie
6. Cut Copy – Zonoscope
When this album finally dropped I was initially a bit disappointed. It’s definitely no In Ghost Colours, but after a few more listens, it’s actually a pretty solid release. There are definitely some great tracks on here and I really like the way it all somehow melds together. It’s no secret that I absolutely love these gents!
Cut Copy – Pharaohs & Pyramids
7. Oh Mercy – Great Barrier Grief
Yeah, so bad puns aside, I really like the work of Alexander Gow. I think their first album was a bit of a sleeper hit – flew under the radar a bit. This disc definitely has had a lot more promo, but i think there’s a real sound that comes through on this record. hearing interviews with Gow, he’s quite romantic about the idea of Australia and the shear vastness of land in this country. I think the record has captured that pretty nicely.
Oh Mercy – Doldrums
8. Single Twin – Marcus Teague
To me, this was an album that I gave one listen and then it gathered dust, well, it gathered digital dust. There were one or two tracks on there that I knew were great, well crafted pop songs, but man, I’m so glad I went back. All the tracks on this album are so well crafted. But easily, I think the thing that makes this go from a good album to a great album is the bed of noise that sits beneath each track – the samples, the slight distortion. They sound quite separate, but they seem to compliment each other really well.
Single Twin – The Blow (Fell Out The Window)
9. Step-Panther – Step-Panther
This is a disc that holds one of my fave tracks of the year. My Neck is such a killer, sweet, smack in your face packet of slacker-kid goodness. But then, so is the album. I never really expected this disc to be near the top for me, but after giving it a few listens, man, it’s just a heap of fun.
Step-Panther – Rock And Roll Alien
This is seriously one of the albums that gives me tingles. Warm lovely nostalgic tingles. English peeps Yuck, do fuzzed out indie pop goodness – sure, some of the stuff sounds the same, and it is massively tinged with 90′s fuzz stuff like Dinosaur Jnr, but the sounds that they do produce, to me, are some of the best.
Yuck – Georgia
ok. So, for the second time in as many years, a new Avalanches album has made the Home & Hosed‘s Album’s of the new year list.
And here’s hoping that they actually do put out a new album this year, some 11 or so years after their debut.
Anyway, enough of the Avalanches anxiety. There are some pretty exciting albums on this list.
The ones I’m looking most forward to are:
FEB – Cut Copy - Zonoscope (Modular/Universal)
MAR – Collarbones - Iconography (Two Bright Lakes/Remote Control), The Little Stevies - Attention Shoppers (Independent), Oh Mercy - Great Barrier Grief (Capitol/EMI)
APR – Mike Noga - The Balladeer Hunter (TBC)
JUNE – Nick Huggins – TBA (Two Bright Lakes/Remote Control)
AUG - Big Scary – TBA (Independent)
NO MONTH YET – Alpine – TBA (Ivy League), The Avalanches – TBA (Modular/Universal), Jonathan Boulet – TBA (Modular/Universal), Geoffrey O’Connor – TBA (Chapter Music), The Grates – TBA (Dew Process/Universal), Gotye – TBA (Independent/Eleven), Jack Ladder – TBA (Spunk/EMI), The Middle East – TBA (Spunk/EMI), No Device - The Devil Makes Work For Idle Hands (Independent), Pnau - Soft Universe (Warner Music), Rat Vs Possum – TBA (Sensory Projects), Seekae – TBA (Rice Is Nice), The Twerps – TBA (Chapter Music), World’s End Press – TBA (Love & Mercy)
You can access the full list here.
And of course, some music, to get you in the mood.
The Little Stevies – Feel It
Seekae – Blood Bank
Oh Mercy – Keith St.
World’s End Press – Faithful
ok. Laneway Festival was a festival I’d been looking forward to for quite a while. I hadn’t been before, and after the much publicised ‘outcry’ about last year, it was great to see it moved to the nice open Footscray Community Arts Centre. The lineup itself was impressive. I remember writing a while ago that it was a music bloggers ‘wet dream’ or something along those lines…and I think I was kinda right. There were some bands I wish I saw, but I’m really glad I did see the bands that I did.
Local fellas Oh Mercy were first up, playing on the river stage. They did a nice solid set. Tracks like “Seemed Like A Good Idea” (which was introduced as something about sleeping with cousins…) and Can’t Fight It were big standouts. Nice indie pop for what was a pretty warm afternoon.
Next up, we headed over to the carpark stage to check out Portland, Oregan based Hockey. When I first started writing this blog, these guys were one of the first bands I really discovered. I’ve only just bought their album though…and that was purely due to how bloody impressive they were at Laneway. They got into it massively. Great electro pop. Work was a definite standout, as well as Song Away. They played a pretty short set, but it was sweet. Short and sweet…get it?
After Hockey, we walked up the bridge to the Moreland Street stage to check out another local band, Bridezilla. One of the dudes I went with argues that everything sounds better with ‘Zilla’ at the end of it…and well…i’m not too sure if that fits. Bridezilla are an interesting band – One vocalist/guitarist/keys player, another guitarist, a violinist, a saxophonist, and a drummer. Interesting sound, and they are all mega mega mega talented ladies…and man (the drummer is a dude, the rest are girls). I’m just not sure if it’s my kinda sound. My friend loves them, we both checked them out a few months ago supporting Decoder Ring…and I think they improved from then. Maybe it’ll take me a few listens before I get into them.
Next up, we got some food. There was such a surge for Mumford & Sons that we decided to give them a miss…although we did check out the end of their set…after they blew a speaker! They were ok. Not sure if the festival experience was the best way to see them though. Next up, it was a toss up between Sarah Blasko and The XX. I went for Sarah Blasko. I’m not that much of a fan of The XX…sound a little too depressing for me. I like Sarah Blasko. She’s got a good voice and all that…but her songs kinda sound the same. To me, they just don’t stand out. I’ve heard only good reviews about The XX though, so maybe I got it wrong on that one.
Fifth on the list was one of my favourite bands, Midnight Juggernauts. I was freakin excited when these guys were announced…and only a day before the gig! Echo & The Bunnymen lead singer Ian McCulloch missed his flight…so Juggers were announced as replacement. And fuck they were good. I’d never actually seen them live before, and as Laneway organiser dude Jerome Borazio said, they are one of the best live bands around. Absolute standout for me was a personal fave, 45 and Rising. Went off. Newy This New Technology was also a standout. Although it was too hot to go completely nuts, the whole crowd did a pretty good job of it.
Next up it was more food time…although after waiting in a line going for about 100 metres for about 20 minutes we found out that they had actually run out. But that was really the only negative about the day. After deciding icecream was a good substitute, we headed back up and caught the end of Dirty Three. These guys have been around for ages – big early nineties instrumental folk noise rock kinda band. One of those bands that I’d heard the name of but never really checked out before. We caught the end of a song called Indian Love Song, an epic massive long piece, as well as a really nice mellow track called Everything’s Fucked (real mellow.) . The guys themselves comprise of only violin, guitar, and drums. But they have the sound of about 15 people on stage. Warren Ellis creates such a heavy level of distortion on his violin that it just goes nuts.
Last set of the night we checked out was The Middle East. I personally have a massive softspot for these guys. Their track Blood came in at #2 on my best tracks of 2009 list, and they were just awesome. Great solid set, nice and chilled. Great way to end what was a pretty bloody good day. You can check out some pics from the day over at the maamf facebook page.
There were other bands I wish I did see though. Eddy Current Suppression Ring, Dappled Cities, Whitley, Philly Jays, NASA, The Very Best. This is how good the lineup was though, it was impossible to not miss a good band because another good band would be playing at the same time! So, minus the food hickup, it was definitely a great day. They always seem to have a solid lineup every year, so if you’re around late Jan next year, definitely check it out!
I’ll leave you with a few tracks. Some Oh Mercy, some Hockey, some Juggers and some Dirty Three.
K. That’ll do the ramble for now
ok. So last night we checked out Lisa Mitchell play at the Corner Hotel. All in all, was a good show. I was a little skeptical about how Miss Mitchell would be able to pull it off live, but her voice sounds bloody great. So, it was probably great production as well.
She opened with Heroine. If you have the album, or have heard the track, you’ll know that it’s a strange kinda track. But yeah, back to the live show. Heroine started to play and the curtains opened…and nothing. No-one was on stage. I thought, shit! She’s got the wrong night! Ha…or shit! she’s doing this all with backing tracks? But I was wrong. Thankfully. Lisa jumped on stage singing heroine and slowly, one by one, the band members joined her tapping away at different percussion instruments. Jumping around, Miss Mitchell gave the show a really fun opening vibe.
One of my favourites, So Jealous came a few songs later. Pulled off really well live I must say. Has such a great vibe that track. Much love for it. Other standouts were Coin Laundry (complete with a story about how punters have begun piffing dollar coins at her during the line “Do you have a dollar? Do you have a dollar?”), the smooth Pirouette (written in spite of her not being a ballerina…), Red Wine Lips was awesome too. Stevie was also great – had the crowd singing along. She chose to end with Neopolitan Dreams in the same way as Heroine began: with the band members, as well as the support acts Oh Mercy and White Birds & Lemons coming on, singing along, and playing an assortment of percussion instruments. Great vibe with the audience singing the “Ba da da da da da da” line. Good way to finish up!
The absolute standout though was a track that I overlooked when I initially reviewed her album. Oh Hark! was easily the best of the night for me. Once again, had a great fun vibe (they seem to be her best songs.), and the jungle style drums keep it rollicking along.
If there was one thing that I didn’t think was so amazing, it was Lisa Mitchell’s piano playing. She can play, that’s for sure. But when she hits the low keys, it’s as if she’s trying to deafen us. It kinda made Love Letter, which is such a beautiful song (the opening line is one of the best), a little difficult to digest. I had the same problem when I was learning piano, and especially if you’re singing (something I could never ever do), it’s a bloody hard thing not to do. But, for her first headline tour, she’s shown that she has got the beginnings of some pretty good chops.
Oh, and just one last thing. She speaks so softly!!! I mean, she is really cute and presents herself as a pretty softly-spoken kinda lass, but it wasn’t until some dude at the back of the room yelled out “we can’t hear you Lisa!” that she spoke up and we could understand her word for word. But yeah, wow, I feel as though I’m being really really harsh on her!
She does put on a pretty darn good show. Her voice sounds great live. She jumps around a bit on stage too which adds to the fun of it all.
To leave you with, my new fave.
K. That’ll do the ramble for now.