Tag Archives: Best Albums

The 2010 Music Round-Up

Hi kiddies!

It’s that time of the year again. Time to round up the last 12 months of music and collate some sort of obligatory list that gives you all my musical impressions.

It’ll either make me come off as a music-snob, a music-nerd or a music-wannabe-nerd-snob. Take your pick 🙂

As any avid reader of my blog would know (Hi LaLa), I delight in making the end of year Top 10 Album list. I also delight in ranting about the music that I love. Note that the music I love generally gets played on the one and only Triple J and usually blasted through my car radio (thanks LaLa) or through my speakers at work.

I also like to play whole albums when I can, either at work, at home on the weekends or in the car on the way to Sydney.

Although playing whole albums gets to be a harder and harder task nowadays. Firstly. They’re too freaking long! Who has 45+ minutes to listen to an album from start to finish. Who listens to an album from Song 1 to song 10 in one sitting?

We all know that if you like the first 4 or 5 songs on the album you’re going to play them at a ratio of 4:1 over the rest of the album.

Regurgitator have taken the right approach. Screw ‘The Album’. There is no place for 10 track albums in todays society. Flick out a few songs as you write them here and there and let the public digest them regularly rather than waiting 3 years for 3 great songs, 3 decent ones, 2 ok ones and 3 fillers.

Having said all that, I love albums. Actually, let me rephrase that… I love GOOD albums. The albums that you CAN listen to from start to finish and not want to change to some schlock 90’s grunge. That is the all important criteria here (thanks to Triple J’s Zan for the inspiration).

So here we go. The List, in no particular order because it changes in my head every 15 minutes.

Children Collide – The Theory of Everything

This 3 piece Melbournian band takes me back. Yes, all the way back to 1991, reminding me of a little band known as Nirvana. The talented blonde erratic guitarist lead singer. The long haired tall bassist with strange moves. The hard-hitting drummer. It’s all there and these guys aren’t a one album wonder. Their sophmore album is every bit as good as their debut, if not better. They play a mean live set and they consume everyone in their path. These guys should be huge, but ironically their path to hugedom entails appealing to the commercialist public which probably means losing their edge. I’m happy for them to stay on the edge. It’s where they sound best

Tame Impala – Innerspeaker

What can be said about this band that hasn’t been said by everyone else that has picked them in their Top 10 list? Tame Impala have taken a direct path to stardom.

Sign an international deal with Modular before you even release anything. Check.
Release a debut self-titled EP to critical acclaim. Check.
Cover a corny 90’s pop song (Remember Me) and land in the Hottest 100. Check.
Support the hottest new US act’s tour around America (MGMT). Check.
Release debut album and win The J Award. Check.

This year has been their year with a psychodelic, 70’s-esque wah-fest album that somehow feels right at home in 2010. I love the way this album feels when I listen to it. It surrounds you with warm colourful sounds that make you wish you were old enough to appreciate the first time this sort of music came out. Listen if you haven’t..

Angus & Julia Stone – Down The Way

This one is too easy to pick. Yet another Australian band that is making it massive overseas and at the same time making us proud to own them. Haunting alternate vocals from the sibling duo give this album a dual layer of listenability with each one’s vocals adding something different to their song.

The words, the melodies and those damn fine voices make this an unforgettable album which somehow eclipsed their debut. Getting to see them live at a festival in London was also pretty damn special.

Sia – We Are Born

Oh Sia, your album title is poignant as it is like you have been born again. Your time with Zero 7 and your more soulful jazzy days have passed and you are re-born as a pop queen with amazingly catchy melodies, pulsing beats and very cutesy video clips. You’ve reshaped yourself and I defy anyone to be upset by that. I admire your will to turn against your record company and make the album you wanted. Surely they would be regretting their decisions now.

I love the fact that Sia does what she wants, says what she wants but still comes out smelling like roses.  Highlights of this album have to be ‘Bring  Night’ and ‘Clap Your Hands’ (both favourites for my kids), but the whole album has a happy feel to it.

Yeasayer – Odd Blood

This band came out of nowhere for me. I heard snippets of  ‘Ambling Alp’ near the start of the year and thought it sounded cool. Sort of an MGMT-esque, electronic/rocky pop sound. And then ONE came out and we all blew our collective loads. 4 months later I would be front row at the Latitude festival in London watching their amazing set. One of the real highlights of the year for me and a fantastic album to boot with enough good vibey catchy tunes to keep you coming back

Mark Ronson & the Business International
– Record Collection

I was a minor fan of Mark Ronson from his previous album but I was never convinced that he could pull off an album of music that I would listen to. I was wrong!

This album pulls amazing melodies, marching band drums and smooth lyrics together to make a completely addictive album. ‘Bang Bang Bang’ and  ‘Lose It (In the End) are standouts on this album that makes you feel good when you listen to it. He collaborates with some random artists on this album as well.  Ghostface Killa, Simon Le Bon, The Drums, Boy George. He doesn’t hold back. Somehow this mish-mash of songs just works.

Eddy Current Suppression Ring – Rush to Relax

I discovered this band about a century after everyone else. A small stage at Homebake in 2009 whilst Powderfinger drew the majority of the audience in the main arena.  There we were, my mate and I, about 3 rows back watching a front man(with a glove) singing in fits and starts while jumping about the stage in some sort of spasmodic fashion. A guitarist with an intense love of speed riffs and a non-plussed bassist banging out fast rocky punkish 3 minute songs.

I was blown away! 2010 saw a new album from this Melbourne 3 piece and it picks up from their previous work. Edgy, raw and ready rock that has to be seen to be believed. Anxiety ranks as one of my favs of the year, but you can listen to this whole album again and again and feel like you are there…without the glove.

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Now, I know that’s only 7 albums, but I have a confession to make. I didn’t listen to a whole lot of albums that blew me away this year. I listen to the radio predominantly. If I hear a couple of songs from the same artist that I like, I source the album. These are the 7 that I really enjoyed from this year.

I also enjoyed Koolism, Two Door Cinema Club, Surfer Blood, Little Red, LCD Soundsystem, Illy, Gorillaz and Vampire Weekend, but couldn’t say that I listened to their albums enough ALL THE WAY THROUGH to include them in the list.

So should I be making more of an effort to listen to full albums, or should I just keep listening to Triple J, letting them create a compilation album for my listening pleasure?

A lot of Top 10 Album lists have included albums from The National, Arcade Fire, Kanye, Deerhunter, Sleigh Bells and Parades to name a few, but a lot of it just isn’t my bag…. ESPECIALLY Arcade Fire, which was ironically selected as the No. 1 album by Triple J listeners.

I just don’t get them at all. I sat through their set whilst waiting for RATM at the 2008 Big Day Out and I was less than inspired. Is something wrong with me or do others share in my ‘meh’ feeling for them?

Almost time to think about my voting for the Hottest 100 as well. I think that will be an easier list to collate….


Top 10 Albums of 2009

Hey there peeps.

My blogging may be pretty sporadic nowadays, but how can I miss a chance to share my opinions on the years best music?

It’s time for my top albums of 2009!

Check out past years here – > 2004, 2005, 2006???, 2007, 2008

It’s been an interesting year in music. The past couple of years has seen music shift from the serious and emo  to the chilled out and fun. I tend to think that as the world leaders change, so does the musical landscape. When the world was condemned to bearing with leaders like Bush and Howard, it was up to the artists in the world to defend our rights with hard-edged and thought-provoking music. As the world starts to collaborate more and head towards a common goal, music becomes more optimistic and also less hard edged.

I go browsing other people’s best of lists and quickly start to realise that I seem to be missing out on a lot of stuff. Bands like ‘The xx’, ‘Animal Collective’, ‘Grizzly Bear’, ‘Future of the Left’.

Why haven’t I heard these albums? Sure, I have heard some of their songs around the place, but have never been inspired enough to hunt down their album. Does this make my list less about musical aptitude and more about mass consumption?

I know it’s all just opinion and personal taste, but I guess it comes down to the fact that I have listened to the albums below the most this year and hence they are my favourites. (in no particular order)

Silversun PickupsSwoon

I missed their intial album, but glad I didn’t miss this one. Sounding suspiciously like Smashing Pumpkins from 1995, their full sound fills your ears with a wall of wholesome guitary goodness. I was immediately hooked in by ‘There’s No Secrets This Year’ and then the album just delivers punch after punch.

Sarah BlaskoAs Day Follows Night

Sarah Blasko improves with every listen. Her unique nymph-like voice can take a little getting used to, but once you do, it’s like listening to a pixie sing. Coincidentally she also looks a bit like a pixie. A pixie with awesome talent. The hypnotic violin on ‘All I Want’ is my highlight on this album. Unfortunately I was listening to it in the car on the way back from Sydney the other day and nearly drove into a truck. Let this be a warning for you.

Them Crooked Vultures Them Crooked Vultures

How do you react when you hear that Dave Grohl is teaming up with Josh Homme and a guy from Led Zep? “Fuck Yeah!” is suitable. This album is everything you’d expect it to be. Arsekicking beats from Grohl, roaring guitars from Homme and powerful driving bass lines from John Paul Jones. A super group seems to be a lacklustre description of this band. ‘Mind Eraser, No Chaser’ is a standout for me as well as  ‘Elephant’. Man, they just plain rock.

Lily AllenIt’s Not You It’s Me

My opinion of Lily Allen has changed a lot over the last few years. A couple of years back she was seen as little more than an internet sensation/one schtick wonder. Her first album was good, but couldn’t really been seen as musically impressive. Whilst her 2nd album doesn’t hit the dizzying heights of musical prowess, the song-writing has improved a lot. And so has she. LaLa and I had the chance to sit within about 3 metres of her earlier this year having already listened to and loved her new album. Hearing her sing acoustically in front of us definitely made us appreciate her talents go beyond dating older men and dressing badly. My highlights would be “Chinese” and “Everyone’s at It”.

MuseThe Resistance

How does a band top an album like ‘Black Holes and Revelations’? Well, when you’re a band li ke Muse, you just take it up a notch. Record some majestic Queen like song, a couple of stadium rock anthems and a 3 part classical masterpiece and you have ‘The Resistance’. This album is unlike most things you would hear and the eclectic style of it adds to it’s impact. You would be excused in thinking that the real Muse is contained in the powerful first 4 songs of the album, but you have to go deeper in to find out that Muse are more than just a rock band. They are a deep, soulful and infinitely talented trio.

The Temper TrapConditions

This is one of those bands that came out of nowhere for everyone I suspect. I suddenly heard the name of this band bandied around in the middle of the year but had not really noticed which song they sang. It took me until seeing ‘500 Days of Summer’ to notice the song ‘Sweet Disposition’. I thought, hey, that’s a top song, but then I forgot about it….until just recently when I listened to the whole album once, and then again..and then again. I am officially addicted. This band is a perfect example of that feel good relaxed and chilled vibe that really works at the moment. Expect massive things from these guys.

PhoenixWolfgang Amadeus Phoenix

LaLa helped me get on to these guys a few years ago, and they have been popping up with tunes for quite a while now. The difference with this album is that they have smashed through the ‘little french band/huge international act’ barrier with their song ‘Lisztomania’. It’s definitely one of the songs of the year for me and catapults this album into a new level of Phoenix excellence.

The Whitest Boy AliveRules

Similar to Phoenix, this band lends itself to infectious little grooves and pithy melodies about love, forgiveness and rollercoasters. The lead singer, Erlend Øye, is better known from his part in ‘Kings of Convience’, but he lends his voice to this album and it became one of my more popular albums of the year. It suits a Sunday arvo, chilling out on the couch and thinking about trips to Europe in the summer..

WolfmotherCosmic Egg

Wolfmother’s first album is a musical standout for me this decade. They blasted out of the blocks with their self-titled album, but early on there was a mountain of expectation for album No. 2. What happened next surprised even me. Guitarist Andrew Stockdale split from the original bassist and drummer and Wolfmother, or at least 1 third of it continued with a new rhythm section (+ new guitarist). This change has resulted in ‘Cosmic Egg’, which whilst not as exceptional as their debut, has a lot to like about it. Ignoring Stockdale’s attitude problems including ever increasing ego, he manages to bring so much power to his songs. Soaring guitars, screaming vocals and trippy lyrics. I’m hoping they don’t split again before the next album, cause maybe they could improve more.

KarnivoolSound Awake

Prog-Rock, Indie-Rock, Alternative-Rock, I dunno what you call it, but Karnivool have it. They plummeled our ears with their debut album, ‘Themata’ and now they’ve kicked it up a notch with this one. Ian Kenny’s side-step into Birds of Tokyo has given Karnivool a slightly more melodic feel, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The musicality of this album really stands out. Can’t wait to see them live at the BDO in January!

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Phew… so there we go. My top albums of the year. I think it’s a pretty diverse list, but probably not as obscure as some. I feel like I should have listened to a lot more albums this year and am definitely going to check out Kasabian’s new one, as well as Mumford & Sons and Calvin Harris. Gotta get up to speed with the acts playing the Big Day Out!

So, do you have a list?

Link in comments!


Top 10 Albums of 2008

I did it in 2004

2005

2006???

2007

It’s that time of the year again.

My Top 5 10 Albums of 2008!

I have decided that picking 5 this year was just too hard, so here’s 10 of my fav’s!

It’s been another great year of music. From the Electronic goodness of Cut Copy and MGMT to the Rockelicious  licks of The Living End and Cog, I feel that 2008 is probably going to be remembered for the domination of a little Sydney duo called The Presets.

They played in Washington DC a couple of times when I was over there and I didn’t ever catch them. I am regretting that now as they have become one of the biggest Aussie bands in ages.

2008 will probably also go down as the year that the ‘new’ Guns ‘n Roses album Chinese Democracy somehow finally got made, and then Axl Rose went missing. (Yes I bought it. How could I not??)

As far as touring bands went, my favourite gig of the year would have had to be seeing Rage Against the Machine at the Big Day Out in January. Just amazing to finally see them live after falling for them in my impressionable teens, and getting a potty mouth in the process.

So here it is, my 10 favourite albums of the year and why!

Breed Obsession10. Gyroscope – Breed Obsession
This 11 year old Perth band blasted through the gates at the beginning of this year with Snakeskin which was actually in last years Hottest 100. I love their live show, which I have seen twice this year. My favourite on the album has to be All In On One which has a great hook and made me listen to the rest of their album. Unfortunately I have a feeling this album will be hard to top after it’s taken them a few tries to get this far, but here’s hoping they can stick around a while yet. I think they just have to stop taking themselves quite so serious as well. Lighten up fella’s!

Death Magnetic

9. Metallica – Death Magnetic
New albums from Metallica and Guns n’ Roses in the same year? What, are we back in 1991? Anticipation for the new Metallica release was probably just as big as the gunners hype, but the end result was worth the wait for these ageing rockers. The Day That Never Comes was the fist single I heard of this album and it’s 8 minute running time was enough to make me relax. Metallica are back. Let’s just delete Load, Reload and St. Anger from the annels of time and we have our Metallica back. There’s enough old school Metallica on this album to keep you going including All Nightmare Long, My Apocalpyse and Judas Kiss. The only song you really need to skip is Unforgiven III. What were they thinking?

weezer-red_album-cover8. Weezer – The Red Album
They are back! Not that they really went anywhere. Weezer just seem to pop up every year or 2 with another catchy, fun, rocking album. Troublemaker starts this album in tradition Weezer fashion. Would you call it Pop-Rock? Alt-Rock? Grunge-Rock? They have never really departed from their grungey early 90’s roots. Their roots are even documented in the cute little tune, Heart Songs.
“Back in 1991/I wasn’t havin’ any fun/Till my roommate said/Come on and put a brand new record on/Had a baby on it/He was naked on it/Then I heard the chords/That broke the chains/I had upon me”
Pork & Beans, Everybody get Dangerous. 2 more songs that really put this song in my favs of the year. Check it out. Tell me you don’t smile!

Summerland7. The Herd – Summerland
As soon as Howard and his reign of terror ended in this country I eagerly awaited the next ‘Herd’ album. Being the political beast that they are I expected something punishing and we got it with The King is Dead. That song is probably in my Top 10 of the year, but it’s not just the parochial soap-box songs (ie. 20/20) that make an impression on this album. I loved Zug Zug and Toorali. The premier Hip Hop troupe in this country keep plugging on and with the inclusion of Jane Tyrrell on vocals makes them all the stronger in my opinion.

Sleep Through the Static

6. Jack Johnson – Sleep Through the Static
Have you ever been lying by a pool in Mexico soaking in the ozone covered rays intoxicated with beer, tequila and sunburn whilst listening to Jack Johnson on your iPod? Well, my friend, you are missing out. There is NO better sun soaking, beer drinking, chillaxing music than our Hawaiian friend Jack Johnson and this album is no different. I love the title track, and even though a lot of his songs seem to blur into one after a while, there is a distinct feeling that this man just doesn’t give a crap. He’ll be happy to keep doing what he’s doing whilst surfing and living it up with his bucket of money in Hawaii. I mean, damn, I would.

Sharing Space5. Cog – Sharing  Space
When I was invited to see Cog live earlier this year I wasn’t expecting a whole heap. I didn’t really know their first album that well, and I had never really thought about seeing them before. I went along not expecting too much, but I was BLOWN AWAY. I immediately got their first album, played it to death and then yearned for the new stuff. Their 2008 effort just blows their debut out of the water in my opinion, but that’s not saying their first effort wasn’t great as well.  Get this. The opening song, No Other Way,  goes for 10 minutes, but not once are you hoping for it to end. Then you get pelted with Are You Interested?, What If and Bird of Feather before you even get to take a breath. Man it’s good, and seriously, see them live if you can. I just hope they don’t wait another 3 years for the next one.

In Ghost Colours4. Cut Copy – In Ghost Colours
Electronic music was something that infiltrated my iPod a lot this year. Cut Copy is something that slithered into my head more and more as the year went on, culminating with seeing their show at Trackside last month. Heart on Fire woke me up to this album, but there are so many more great tunes that gnaw away into your head the more you listen to it. When I saw them live, I saw people with their hands up dancing away that I never thought would dance. They just get you moving like that. Unfortunately for Cut Copy, they have been in the shadow of The Presets for much of 2008, but they have combined to make this year a great one for nerdy electronic keyboardists.

White Noise3. The Living End – White Noise
The Australian music scene would have mourned the passing of this great band if they’d gone through with their splitting up before producing this album. Don’t get me wrong, I have loved every Living End album that has been made, but this one stands out above the last couple as a Rock n’ Roll masterpiece. They still have the ability to rock out with every song they write. Solid writing, amazing musicianship (Chris Cheney has been voted Australia’s best axe-man) and never taking themselves too seriously make The Living End endearing to the Australian public. White Noise has been their flagship song of 2008, but seriously Raise the Alarm and Moment in the Sun are superior songs and are probably up there with some of their debut album stuff. You’ll even hear a Billy Joel-esque ranting tune (a’la We Didn’t Start the Fire) in 21st Century. Top stuff!

Apocalypso2. The Presets – Apocalypso
What can be said about 2008 for The Presets. They smashed through the commercial radio and tv barrier with My People which was nowhere near their greatest song on this album. They probably even got under people’s skin with that song, but you just had to listen to This Boy’s in Love and Yippyo-ay to discover how good these guys yet. I didn’t even believe the DJ’s on JJJ when they were sucking the cocks of Julian and Kim earlier in the year, but once you put this album on repeat for a week or so you’ll figure it out. I even got my daughter singing along to them after 10 minutes in the car!

Oracular Spectacular1. MGMT – Oracular Spectacular
I already went on about these guys earlier in the year, but they were worthy of it. For me, 2008 was the year of MGMT. Don’t get me started on the fact I couldn’t get tickets to see them TONIGHT. *Sigh*. If you don’t know who they are, they are from New York, they fiddle on keyboards but play with a full band in concert. They have a distinctive sound that may turn you off at first, but just listen a little more. Listen to the layers and the sounds that they mix together. Listen to Time to Pretend and tell me it’s not a great song. Listen to the piercing keyboards on Kids and tell me you don’t hum that tune in your head all day. Then there’s Electric Feel which is best played in a dark room very very loud. Dang. Why didn’t I pay $150 for an ebay ticket tonight??

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There you have it, my top 10 albums of 2008. Honourary mentions have to go to Josh Pyke for his new opus Chimney’s Afire,  The Raconteurs (Saboteurs in Australia) for Consolers of the Lonely, The Ting Tings for We Started Nothing, The Grates for Hearts Lost, Teeth Won and the Kings of Leon for Only By the Night.

Unfortunately Chinese Democracy just misses out.

Maybe next time Axl….


Frivolous Friday – Top 25 Albums of the Last 25 years

I like that. Frivolous Friday. No-one wants to work on Fridays. We all know this.

So, thanks to LaLa, here’s a little SMH  music survey to wile away some time

My choices are:

1982Thriller, Michael Jackson (Well, it is still one of the best albums of ALL time)

19831999, Prince (Prince and Jacko were IT when I was 7)

1984Stoneage Romeos, Hoodoo Gurus (Amazing First Album from these classic Aussie Rockers. The Yanks still love it)

1985The Dream Of The Blue Turtles, Sting (First solo album. Lots of great hits. Good pedigree)

1986Raising Hell, Run DMC (It’s Tricky! I didn’t know what real rap was until I heard that)

1987Appetite For Destruction, Guns ‘n’ Roses (A no-brainer, although it’s a good year for albums. I loved Sign O’ The Times too)

1988It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back, Public Enemy (Pretty crap selection, but You gotta love the Flav!)

1989Straight Outta Compton, N.W.A. (Rap galore. It was tight between this and Paul’s Boutique. Fuck Da Police gets them over the lin)

1990The Good Son, Nick Cave (My First experience with Nick Cave. Many more to come)

1991Nevermind, Nirvana (Cliche it may be, but it’s an album that helped shape my life)

1992Automatic For The People, R.E.M. (I jumped on the R.E.M. bandwagon after this, along with the rest of the planet. ‘Drive’ is still my favourite R.E.M. song ever)

1993The Honeymoon Is Over, The Cruel Sea (Beasts of who? This was my first taste of Tex. I listened to this album a LOT)

1994Grace, Jeff Buckley (He may be a whiny and he may be dead, but I guess this album is good. I must admit, I have never been a big fan. I nearly voted for Portishead, but Grace has had more of an impact)

1995Hi Fi Way, You Am I (Screw Radiohead, this album is classic. Cathy’s Clown, Purple Sneakers, Jewels and Bullets. Love it)

1996Hourly Daily, You Am I (Double award for Tim Rogers! Mr Milk, Good Mornin’, Soldiers. Wow they have a lot of cool songs)

1997The Boatman’s Call, Nick Cave (Aussie, Aussie, Aussie! Even though he’s hardly ever here. Such a beautiful album)

1998Moon Safari, Air (They French. They smooth. They sexy (boy). This music started getting me into more electronica stuff)

1999Play, Moby (An amazing album. Porcelain is still one of my favourite songs ever)

2000Odyssey Number 5, Powderfinger – (By this stage the Brissy boys were well on their way to Australian rock legend status. Awesome album)

2001Is This It?, The Strokes (These youngsters came out of nowhere to give us this bit of slap and tickle and introduce us to NY garage rock)

2002Strange Bird, Augie March (Before Moo, You Bloody Choir, we had this one. It’s good. Listen to it)

2003Speakerboxx/The Love Below, Outkast (Sometimes double albums work well. Sometimes they work amazingly. This one was outstanding. Best thing they will ever do)

2004Chutes Too Narrow, The Shins (They make some beautiful music these boys. Whoever picked these songs has a thing for soulful music. . . Not that there’s anything wrong with that)

2005Illinois, Sufjan Stevens (I listened to this a lot in the States. Not only is ‘Chicago’ a fantastic song, this whole album is perfect for a lazy Sunday, but it’s pretty strange in parts..)

2006Moo, You Bloody Choir, Augie March (Yeah! I totally missed this album when I was away last year, but picked it up when I got back. Good stuff!)

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Ok, so this guy’s taste is a little strange and not very mainstream, but hey, neither am I.

I think I’d rather go through and work out my own favourite albums from the last 25 years myself.

But that would take time….and effort, and is not very frivolous.

Enjoy your Friday 🙂