My Favourite Albums of 2015

AUTHOR’S NOTE: Well, finally… This post has been 3 months in the making, haha. Alas, here it is…

I was really disappointed with this year’s triple j Hottest 100. For a supposedly-prestigious countdown of the year’s best alternative tracks, this year’s edition consisted almost entirely of EDM. I find it saddening that this is what triple j (previously huge supporters of our local alternative scene) has come to – a stream of soulless, forgettable club music, that, in the end, is really ‘pop’. To quote The Church’s Steve Kilbey’s article on the 100 for The Guardian, “I thought triple j would have a lot more edge than this smooth, manufactured fare.”

I don’t, however, feel that this accurately represents the year that was. For in my opinion, 2015 was the greatest year for music since at least the mid-’90s. Though my thoughts that the EDM trend had faded were obviously incorrect, there were plenty of inventive, affecting releases to make up. The keyboards and synths of 2014 faded a little – guitars making a triumphant return to the alternative arena in their place; the ‘album’ made a huge comeback, so many of the following carefully sequenced as only the greatest pieces of musical art are; many now-“retro” genres (psychedelia, grunge, old-school punk and folk) experienced perhaps their greatest rebirths in recent years, creating work easily as good as those of their predecessors. And while my faith in the current music scene was thrown into jeopardy a good number of times, the following 10 albums (and so many more, too!) more than reassured me. Perhaps 2015 will go down in history as my generation’s ‘1967’ – for I know that so many of these albums will be seen as classics and will change lives in years to come. So here goes…

(I should also mention that this list is by no means complete. There’s still a lot of albums from last year that I haven’t yet been able to listen to! Perhaps there will be a follow-up to this post at some point…)

10. Currents (Tame Impala)

currents tame impala

Currents was easily the album I anticipated most on this list. However, I was a little disappointed. Though I remain a fan of Kevin P. & Co’s work, the swirly guitars that had drawn me to their discography had been replaced by club-worthy synths and drum machines. Their fascinatingly-weird brand of psychedelic rock was now pop.

Despite this, I still loved Tame Impala’s latest effort. Kevin Parker far from neglects the idiosyncratic, kaleidoscopic edges of Lonerism and Innerspeaker, each track still sounding as hypnotically psychedelic and, well, a little out of place as the work that preceded it. Each track swirls through your mind, a showcase for Parker’s incredible musicality, his voice sounding like John Lennon on Revolver, the synths a suprisingly-earcatching hybrid of Spiritualized and pop music. It is just so much more inventive and weird than so much of the stuff it is lined up against! Currents proves Parker’s status as music’s residential genius right now is more than deserved. His work truly is among the greatest of our time.

START WITH: ‘Cause I’m A Man’

[BUY]

SEE ALSO: I Went To See Tame Impala!

9. Depression Cherry (Beach House) 

depression cherry beach house

After a 3-year break, Beach House were famously prolific in 2015 – following up August’s Depression Cherry with October’s Thank Your Lucky Stars. And perhaps it was just the anticipation (and the velvet cover…), but the former wins out for me.

Depression Cherry is exquisitely delicate and positively other-wordly from its first chord. Listening to it is like being caught in the most beautiful dream – the instrumentation subtle yet lush, spellbinding, ethereal. The synths, like sonic gossamer, flicker and swirl around your mind, embellished with jangly lead guitar, sheer bells and dreamy vocals. It is so calm, so gentle, so warm, and will undoubtedly leave you spellbound after the first listen…

START WITH: ‘Beyond Love’

[LISTEN/BUY]

8. Slow Gum (Fraser A. Gorman)

slow gum fraser a gorman

Good news – there’s more where Courtney Barnett came from! Fraser A. Gorman is an artist signed to Milk! Records (the record label Barnett and her partner Jen Cloher began in 2012), and his 2015 debut – though not receiving the same incredible success of hers – is just the best, too!

Slow Gum is steeped in old-school folk and Americana (the cover even evoking The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan!), also taking cues from – as his bio notes – artists like Transformer-era Lou Reed and Big Star; yet it doesn’t rehash the past. In true Milk! Records style, his lyrics are charming and quirky, telling stories reflecting love, life and what it’s like to be a young Australian right now. The music is equally charming and quirky – it’s laidback, slightly sleepy, nostalgic yet anticipates what’s to come. It’s driven by the greatest acoustic guitar, a fiddle (!), surprisingly rock’n’roll drums, glowing electric organ, lead guitar that goes from Neil Young to Courtney Barnett in the space of a song, pretty harmonies, and his vocals are like a sweeter, Australian Bob Dylan. It’s just so great – the kind of thing you’d listen to as Summer comes to its end, that you’d sit in the sun on Sunday morning and sing along to over coffee and toast. A painfully-underrated cut from last year that deserves your attention!

START WITH: ‘Shiny Gun’

[LISTEN/BUY]

7. b’lieve i’m goin down… (Kurt Vile)

blieve im goin down kurt vile

I’ve never previously counted myself as a fan of Americana music, but as soon as I heard the beginnings of b’lieve i’m goin down…‘s ‘Pretty Pimpin’, this was completely irrelevant. Maybe it’s the song’s guitary stomp, which makes you want to immediately get up and dance, or Vile’s idiosyncratic vocals and rambling lyrics, or something else entirely – but I found it deliciously addictive, and have barely stopped listening since.

This brand of quirky, introspective folk rock is just as great throughout the remainder of b’lieve i’m goin down. The music is raw, welcoming and hooking – boasting some incredible fingerpicking, a lead guitar that sometimes lays in its country roots but more often finds itself in territory dominated by tougher rock’n’roll – that goes from wailing to stabbing between tracks, subtle keys, a banjo. Vile’s voice is delightfully unusual and slightly deadpan in its stylings, yet the melodies he sings are the kind you’ll be humming for days to come. The lyrics he writes are wonderfully rambling and contemplative, recounting an inner monologue in his fascinating manner. Another record that you’ll fall in love with on the first listen, and one that won’t leave your turntable/MP3 player for weeks to come!

START WITH: ‘Pretty Pimpin’

[BUY]

6. Quarters! (King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard)

quarters king gizzard and the lizard wizard

Beach House weren’t the only overly-prolific band of 2015. In fact, last year’s release schedule for infamously-prolific psych rockers King G & Co. was fairly normal! True to form, the band released two albums last year: Quarters! in May, and Paper Mache Dream Balloon in November… Unlike the latter album (which was announced to much fanfare and met with great anticipation), Quarters! came out quietly in late Autumn, not even released on CD. The album only contains four tracks – each of them precisely 10 minutes and 10 seconds long! – and is a lot simpler than the Tame Impala/POND cuts to which they’re compared. But this does nothing to diminish its undeniable greatness.

Quarters! consists of some kind of dreamy, psychedelic magic, the kind that will leave you spellbound with its incredible beauty. It’s not overpowered by outlandish busy-ness, like POND and Tame Impala, instead celebrating its weirdness in a starker – yet just as satisfying! – manner. Jangly jazz chords play softly throughout each of the four cuts, paired with soulful vocals, hazy guitar arpeggios, gentle reverb, shimmering keys – making for space-agey doo-wop tunes and giddy, experimental freak-outs and foggy folk tracks, the kind of things fit for the fading warmth of Australian Autumns… And while it’s still heaps of fun (KG&TLW have always been unapologetic about the fact that they’re among the silliest bands around), the album is perhaps more affecting than its successor – the kind of music that digs deep into your mind, that becomes a favourite that you’ll play until it wears out, that makes you want do stuff yourself. It quietly accepts its freakishness, and celebrates this – and that’s why it’s so good. The album is so brilliant, so strange, so fascinating – you’ll never get tired of it!

START WITH: ‘God Is In The Rhythm’

[LISTEN/BUY]

5. Man It Feels Like Space Again (POND)

man it feels like space again pond

POND have always garnered a number of comparisons to Tame Impala, not least because 3/5ths of its current lineup have been touring members of the latter act. But although POND’s 2015 effort did not receive the accolade of Tame Impala’s, I have to say that I prefered it – considerably.

Man It Feels Like Space Again is a delightfully spacey, exciting affair, stumbling from track to track in a hazy, psychedelic dream. Each is drenched in effect – dreamy reverb, unsettling synthy strings, chugging phasers, erratic fuzz -, driven by brilliantly eccentric drums, layered with floaty vocals (mixed lower than usual – sometimes practically inaudible – but to great effect!), embellished with the prettiest, spaciest guitar, echoing – and even rivalling – the madly psychedelic moods created by many artists in the late-’60s. It’s unpredictable – ranging from glammy disco cuts to foggy waltzes – and so weird, so much more experimental than many of its contemporaries. Dominated by a ‘more is more’ philosophy, it swirls from the speaker, bursting at its sonic seams with with its bizarreness. With each listen, you’ll notice something new – it really never gets old. Man It Feels…, despite its relative obscurity in comparison to Currents, is just so much more weird, more interesting, more unpredictable, more fun. And that is why I’m still listening to it so much, over a year since its release…

START WITH: ‘Elvis’ Flaming Star’

[BUY]

4. Feels Like (Bully)

feels like bully

Listening to Feels Like is a little like running back to the ’90s, when the majority of alternative bands employed guitars to play their brands of punk and grunge instead of poppy synths, and when the most acclaimed female musicians were more Kim Gordon than Beyonce. But that’s kind of simplistic – for Tennessee punk band Bully’s debut LP sounds too fresh, too great to be but a mere throwback.

Feels Like begins with the visceral, thrilling ‘I Remember’, which rips through your speakers with its ferociously loud guitars, whirlwind drums and singer Alicia Bognanno’s howls and screams. The rest of the album is the same – a collection of impassioned punk anthems, ready-made for playing on constant repeat. The music is fierce and relentless, thrashing itself through each song, reminiscent of Sonic Youth, Pixies, early Sleater-Kinney. It is inaccessible, yet kind of anthemic, and it’s punk – refreshingly hard and edgy, and just as good as the bands that inspired it. Alicia Bognanno’s voice is just the best, too…  And Bognanno’s lyrics are undeniably brilliant – like the Slits before her, she writes relatable lyrics that effortlessly capture the thoughts and anxieties of so many girls, the kind an introverted, teenage music-geek would scribble all over their schoolbooks and quietly quote to themselves in their bedrooms. And Feels Like is the kind of record that celebrates what it’s really like to be a teenager in this world, painfully relatable, and why I, for one, love it so. It is one for playing on constant repeat until you wear it out, and one for quietly sneaking onto a party playlist to prove that you’re cooler than everyone else. And one that once you start, you won’t be able to get enough of…

START WITH: ‘Trying’

[LISTEN/BUY]

3. Ivy Tripp (Waxahatchee)

ivy tripp waxahatchee

Listening to Waxahatchee’s Ivy Tripp is like crowding around a fire on a particularly cold Winter’s day. It is warm and inviting, quirky and impossibly pretty. Waxahatchee (aka Katie Crutchfield) compiles each instrument – the guitars, keys, synths, drums – in a delightfully “DIY” manner, the kind of thing you’d record with your newly-formed indie band in your bedroom (but in the greatest way possible). It seems so delicate, fragile, yet leaks with passion and independence. And her vocals – so strong, yet so flowing – must be among the most beautiful I’ve heard. The kind of record you’ll fall in love with as soon as the first chord begins, and that demands to be played on repeat for years to come.

START WITH: ‘La Loose’

[LISTEN/BUY]

2. No Cities To Love (Sleater-Kinney)

no cities to love

2015 marked the return of the incredible Sleater-Kinney, a band of three immensely talented women whose mix of scuzzy guitars, powerful vocals, catchy melodies and confident lyrical matter have continually inspired and reassured many a girls’ (myself included) love of rock’n’roll, as well as establishing themselves as among the greatest rock bands of our time. No Cities To Love not only reiterates these statements, but establishes itself as among the band’s best records yet.

Cities flings itself from track to track with an incredible excitement and energy, almost never matched by newer bands. Carrie Brownstein’s and Corin Tucker’s guitars thrash at each song with a fuzzy, murky dissonance that barely anyone else bothers to create these days, and Tucker screams her vocal lines with a phenomenally ferocious passion (think X-Ray Spex’s Poly Styrene). Each song is raw and raging, possessing an energy – a fire – reminiscent of the ’70s greatest punk albums; yet each is anthemic, too, prime for party playlists and bedroom sing-alongs. Cities is an incredible rock record: a piece of raucous, fast-paced rock’n’roll that never fails to satisfy, that raises your adrenaline as soon as the first chord lifts off. A set-to-be classic.

START WITH: ‘Price Tag’

[LISTEN/BUY]

1. Sometimes I Sit and Think and Sometimes I Just Sit (Courtney Barnett)

sometimes i sit

It would easy to suggest that my love of Courtney Barnett’s Sometimes I Sit and Think and Somtimes I Just Sit lies mainly within its obvious homage to ‘retro’, guitar-driven rock, but this would be lazy – for it is so great on so many levels. Barnett slays her debut LP, laden with the wittiest lyrics, a voice among the uniquest in music today and tight, tough instrumentation, creating what is undeniably now a modern classic.

Barnett’s music is so incredibly refreshing in a world where Justin Bieber and gone-solo boyband members top the charts. Her lyrics are astute and entertaining, ramblingly poetic, simple and humble yet funny and smart. She manages to turn the most mundane of human experiences into interesting and often hilarious stories, penning lyrics you’ll sing until you can quote them at a second’s notice. She sums up what it means to be a young Australian in an almost disturbingly-accurate manner, recounting scenarios we know all too well with her proudly-displayed accent – so while Barnett has achieved international success, her work perhaps means most to all the young Australians who identify best with it. It is nice to hear your own accent, to hear slang you use every day in music you love, rare in a world ruled by America and Britain. She has easily become among the most important voices in music today.

To boot, Sometimes‘ incredible lyrics are backed by an equally-great band. The music crackles with such a rich exuberance, bursting with fun and fuzz-pedals. Barnett plays a mean guitar, thrashing it just like her grungy heroes. And paired with the help of drummer Dave Mudie and bassist ‘Bones’ Sloane, she creates a brand of indie rock so much rawer than that of those around her, echoing Australia’s longstanding love of garagy guitars, yet creating her very own sound at the same time. Think Nirvana, but funnier. But Sometimes isn’t retro, outdated – it’s fresh, made for the 21st century, and unlike most music out now, inventive and original. It is this – Barnett’s originality, her quirks, her (as SPIN put it) “low-key brilliance” – that has already cemented her debut as a classic, alongside Horses and Violent Femmes. And it is this that will ensure that it remains so, for years to come…

START WITH: ‘Pedestrian at Best’

[LISTEN/BUY]

SEE ALSO: I Went To See Courtney Barnett!

Albums I’m particularly anticipating this year include Iggy Pop’s Post Pop Depression, The Drones’ Feelin Kinda Free, Sunflower Bean’s Human Ceremony, Glitterbust’s (Kim Gordon’s new band) debut, Adelaide noise-rockers Horror My Friends’ Stay In, Do Nothing – but I feel that Bowie’s Blackstar may have already taken out #1… (I guess we’ll have to wait and see!)

Did you listen to any new music in 2015? What were your favourites? Be sure to tell me in the comments!

(Also, if you’re viewing this on the site, you may notice that I’ve made a few cosmetic changes! Hope you all like them! The drawings in the header are ones I’ve done myself over the past year…)

I went to see Tame Impala!

tame impala 3

Tame Impala.

On Thursday the 19th, I had the pleasure of seeing one of my favourite bands live: Tame Impala! The Western Australian psychedelic rock band have been touring their home country in support of their latest album, Currents, and I managed to catch the second gig they played in my city, Adelaide, at one of my favourite venues, the Thebarton Theatre. In short, it was an absolutely amazing night!

Tame Impala are an anomaly in the current music industry: their albums are created by just one member (Kevin Parker), the rest of the band only joining for the tours; they play a unique brand of psychedelia that sounds somewhere between an early Pink Floyd album and a modern dance record; their popularity appears only to continue to rise, despite their alternative credentials. They’ve been a staple on the Australian music scene since their debut EP was released in 2008, and each of their three albums – 2010’s Innerspeaker, 2012’s Lonerism, July’s Currents – have garnered mass acclaim, from fans and critics alike. They’ve been one of my favourite bands for about a year, and I’ve wanted to see them almost since then, after reading a number of rave reviews of their live shows.

tame impala 2

More Tame Impala.

I arrived at the theatre about an hour before the show began, and bought a poster beforehand, but it didn’t seem take long for the support act to take the stage for their half-hour set. The support band were named Mini Mansions, and are perhaps most famous for being the side-project of Queens of the Stone Age bassist Michael Shuman. Their music was similarly psychedelic to that of Tame Impala’s, but bass-ier and more catchy – I really enjoyed it! I had not heard of the band before the gig, but I have since enjoyed listening to some of their stuff.

A little while later, the sold-out theatre finally filled up  and Tame Impala took to the stage! Parker and his band played most of Currents, plus many tracks from Lonerism and a couple from Innerspeaker. I found it mesmerising to see a band I admire so much playing their music live, and it was amazing to hear songs I have listened to dozens of times over played in person!

tame impala 1

As mentioned before, I had read masses of reviews lauding Tame Impala’s live show – not only for their musical chops, but also for their impressive lighting – so I had particularly high expectations. These were well exceeded – certainly, in part, due to their light show! Throughout the gig, lights in shades of every bright colour imaginable flew, throbbed and flashed across the stage and over the crowd, illuminating suitably psychedelic backgrounds projected onto a screen behind the band. The pictures throughout this post are among my attempts to capture their beauty, but I feel they are something that needs to be seen in person to experience their true impressiveness.

Musically, among the highlights of Tame Impala’s show was a version of one of their better-known songs, ‘Elephant’. A stomping, fuzzed-up blues track, the song’s electrifying atmosphere seemed to project onto the audience, the entire moshpit seemingly swaying to the beat. But I felt every song was played well – it is clear that the band consists of incredibly good musicians, and this was perhaps even more obvious live than on their records. One thing I noticed was how close each song sounded to its studio counterpart, a feat all the more impressive due to the lack of 4/5ths of the touring band on each cut’s official version… Both musically and visually, the band were amazing.

It was wonderful to see Tame Impala live – their shows are definitely more than worthy of the accolade they receive! You can visit their website here.

tame impala 4

I went to see Courtney Barnett!

IMAG0157

Courtney Barnett

Last Thursday, I was lucky enough to see one of my favourite artists live; Courtney Barnett! She was playing a venue called The Gov, which is a bit famous in Adelaide. My parents bought me a ticket just under a day before the show, so thank you so much!

Me before the show

Me before the show

Courtney Barnett is an Australian indie singer, songwriter + guitarist. Her lyrics are marvelously witty and honest and funny, and she sings with her Australian accent. A lot of her songs are a little bit grungy, but a lot of them are softer, too. She and her partner Jen Cloher run an indie record label called Milk! Records. Courtney designs all her album art, too. She released her debut album, Sometimes I Sit and Think and Sometimes I Just Sit in March this year.

The Gov opened its doors at 7:30 and Mum + I arrived not long after. But as we were waiting, somebody walks past us and into the beer garden. And that somebody was Courtney! So after a few minutes, I plucked up my courage and went up to her. I introduced myself and told her that I’m a huge fan. She introduced me to her drummer, Dave, shook my hand, and asked if I was from Adelaide. Dave then took a picture of Courtney and me! They both said they hoped I would enjoy the show. Both Courtney and Dave were really nice, and it was amazing to meet someone I really look up to as an aspiring musician! A memorable start to a memorable night! Courtney actually watched the supports in the audience, which I thought was cool.

Courtney and me!

Courtney and me!

Soon after, the first support band started. They were called The Yabbies, and they were okay, but I thought the second support band were really good! They were called Teeth and Tongue, and played a certain style of half-synth-y, half-guitar-y indie pop which is just pleasing to the ears. Their frontwoman — Jessica Cornelius — also had great stage presence, which is always a plus. I loved dancing to their beats, and got some good photos of them, too.

Teeth and Tongue

Teeth and Tongue

Finally, at around 9:45, Courtney and her band came on! She launched into ‘Elevator Operator’, the first song on her new album, and sung the words in her signature Aussie voice. Everyone stood up, and I took prime position on top of a booth seat so I could see!

Courtney

Courtney!

Courtney and her band then played ‘Lance Jr’, a song from her first EP. ‘Lance Jr’ was in fact the first song of hers that I heard. Courtney then talked to the audience for a bit and played a few more songs from her latest album, like ‘Aqua Profunda!’, ‘Dead Fox’, ‘Small Poppies’ and ‘Nobody Really Cares If You Don’t Go To The Party’.

IMAG0136

A lot of people who go and see Courtney live comment on how her live performances are a bit heavier than the studio versions of her songs. And they’re right. Courtney, Dave and her bassist (a dude called Bones!) absolutely rocked The Gov! The walls and floors were quite literally vibrating! Her voice was a little bit sweeter live than it is on her studio songs — but then, she almost screamed a few of the songs live, too. There was such an air of excitement and energy buzzing throughout The Gov that night…

IMAG0154

Courtney then played a few more songs. One of these was the B-side of her latest single, ‘Depreston’, which is all about house-hunting in a suburb in Melbourne called Preston. (Courtney, who lives in Melbourne, often references the city in her songs.) She also played a song called ‘Kim’s Caravan’, which is about the decline of the Great Barrier Reef and climate change in general. ‘Kim’s Caravan’ is one of the softer songs on Sometimes I Sit…, but it certainly wasn’t live. Courtney’s guitar was feeding like mad during the outro, and it sounded awesome! After a bit over an hour, Courtney, Dave and Bones finished the set with the gritty A-side of her latest single, ‘Pedestrian at Best’, left the stage…

IMAG0143

…And then came back! Courtney announced that she would play a cover of The Lemonheads’ ‘Bein’ Around’. She then dedicated a song to her Adelaide audience — one called ‘Pickles From The Jar’! The song mentions Adelaide a few times, hence the dedication… Finally, Courtney and her band finished off the encore with a heavy version of ‘I’ll Make You Happy’ by The Easybeats. And so she and her band finished her show a little bit after 11:00.

IMAG0152

I really, really enjoyed seeing Courtney Barnett live! Though I couldn’t see very well, and my ears rang for a while, I had an awesome night! Courtney really is amazing live, and is definitely a must-see. (And meeting her and Dave was a huge plus!) You can listen to Sometimes I Sit and Think and Sometimes I Just Sit here, and you can buy it here.

I didn't take this picture. All credit goes to The Gov!

I didn’t take this picture. All credit goes to The Gov!

My 5 Favourite Albums of 2014

Or my opinion, anyway...

Or my opinion, anyway…

I thought I’d do a non-Beatley post today, and focus on some of my favourite music of last year. Last year was the year that I started to get into contemporary music, and I now foster an intense love of  modern indie music of all kinds, as well as my great passion for classic rock. (Though The Beatles will always be my favourite band.)  I’ve been meaning to do this post for a couple of months, but I’ve really only found a chance to write it now! (Next year, I will try not to do this post 2 months into 2016…) So today, I will list my five favourite albums — whether I judged them via an LP or a YouTube playlist or something in between — of the year that was. And let the list begin!

5.  Lost In The Dream, The War on Drugs

lost in the dream

This is The War on Drugs’ third album, and it was apparently recorded over two years and was rewritten many times! But it resulted in this wonderful album… According to main songwriter Adam Granduciel, Lost In The Dream was basically like a solo album for him. Some of the main influences for the album include Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and synthy ’80s pop, which I can definitely hear. A wonderful album!

FAVOURITE SONGS: ‘Lost In The Dream’, ‘Eyes To The Wind’, ‘Disappearing’.

4. Morning Phase, Beck

beck morning phase

As I’m sure most people have heard by now, Beck’s latest effort won Album of The Year at The Grammys, and deservedly so! (And as for that Beck/Kanye West rubbish, Kanye is definitely the person who needs to “respect artistry” here.) I am very happy that it won! I only listened to this album a short while ago (on a plane, in fact), and it instantly became one of my favourites. I love the folky, “soaring” feel of the album, and Beck’s vocals are gorgeous! As written above, very much the deserved Album of The Year winner in a very mainstream-orientated Grammys night.

FAVOURITE TRACKS: ‘Morning’, ‘Say Goodbye’, ‘Unforgiven’, ‘Waking Light’, ‘Blackbird Chain’

3. Angus and Julia Stone, Angus and Julia Stone

angus and julia stone

According to my faithful triple j 2014 Annual (triple j is Australia’s radio station for all things left of mainstream. Also the home of the triple j Hottest 100, which you have probably heard of.), Angus and Julia Stone — two indie-folk-orientated siblings from Sydney — had decided to never play together again in 2012. But then, an American producer named Rick Rubin heard one of the duo’s songs and was determined to do whatever it took to work with the two. He managed to get them back together, and this piece of indie perfection was the result!

I particularly love the beautiful guitar-work, the keyboards/synths, the chiming indie-pop feel, the album’s air of danceablility and of course the exquisite vocals from both parties! (The familiar accents are also nice.) A great album to come out of a great country…

FAVOURITE SONGS: ‘Get Home’, ‘Death Defying Acts’, ‘Other Things’, ‘Do Without’, ‘All This Love’

2. Alvvays, Alvvays

alvvays alvvays

I discovered the debut album of Canadian indie-pop band Alvvays (pronounced ‘always’) after reading an interview with their vocalist and guitarist Molly Rankin in my favourite magazine. I checked them out on SoundCloud, and after listening to ‘Adult Diversion’ (one of the “better-known” tracks on the album) on repeat for months, I decided to listen to the actual album. Laden with jangling guitars, synths, thumping drums, a touch of distortion and beautiful, quintessentially indie vocals, I have a feeling that Alvvays will quickly become the next big thing in indie pop! I can’t wait for their second album.

FAVOURITE SONGS: ‘Adult Diversion’, ‘Dives’ and ‘Atop A Cake’. (Another song — ‘Underneath Us’ — was included in Australia as a bonus track. I would also include this song in here, if it were part of the core album.)

And, my favourite album of 2014 is [insert drum roll here]…

1. Turn Blue, The Black Keys

black keys turn blue

The recording of garage/blues/indie duo The Black Keys’ eighth studio album began in early 2013, during a break from the world tour corresponding with their previous album, El Camino. As with their previous album, Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney (guitar/vocals and drums respectively) had not written any of the songs before recording, and simply wrote them on the day of recording. The album was to be produced by Brian Burton (aka Danger Mouse). But Auerbach and Carney had different ideas on how the album was to pan out. Things got a little tense between the two and recording was put off for a few months. Later in the year, the duo recommenced recording in California, and until about March 2014, they — along with Burton — created what would be the most psychedelic, sprawling and self indulgent (in the best way possible!) album of their career. The album is based around the theme of a difficult breakup, which reflected the nasty divorce that Auerbach was experiencing in 2013.

This was the first Black Keys album I bought. In fact, it was the first album less than 30 years old that I had bought at all. I love it for it’s sprawling nature, the searing guitar solos on ‘Weight of Love’, the spiky synths on ‘Fever’, the chiming bells, the ringing falsetto counter-vocals, just everything… And it introduced me to one of my very favourite bands. So that, my friends, is why Turn Blue is my favourite album of that great big year that was!

FAVOURITE SONGS: ‘Weight Of Love’, ‘Fever’, ‘In Our Prime’, ‘Gotta Get Away’, ‘Bullet In The Brain’, ‘Waiting On Words’…

And my award for best film soundtrack of 2014 goes to…

Boyhood, various artists

boyhood music from the motion picture

Boyhood is definitely my favourite film at the moment, and its awesome soundtrack is good enough to rival the film itself. As the film was made over 12 years — spanning the life of main character Mason from ages 6-18 — there’s music from all the periods included in that time frame (plus more)! Whether it be a party backed by The Black Keys’ ‘She’s Long Gone’, or a six year old Mason trying his hand at graffiti to The Hives’ ‘Hate To Say I Told You So’, visiting a club to Gotye and Kimbra’s ‘Somebody That I Used To Know’, or the end credits rolling to Arcade Fire’s ‘Deep Blue’, with some Cat Power and Vampire Weekend in between — even a Beatle-related scene backed by ‘Band On The Run’ (!) — the soundtrack is perfect in every way. (Except for maybe the inclusion of ‘Good Girls Go Bad’. I hate that song.) A soundtrack-made-in-heaven to supplement a film-made-in-heaven, in my humble opinion.

FAVOURITE TRACKS: The entire thing (except for ‘Good Girls Go Bad’ and ‘Crazy’ by Gnarls Barkley)!

And so, what were your favourite albums of 2014? Please send me a postcard or drop me a line, stating your point of view!

A few contenders  for my favourite album of this year have already come up! I have a feeling that Pond’s Man, It Looks Like Space Again will make my shortlist, and the tracks I have heard on triple j from Twerps’ Range Anxiety sound pretty good, too. But Tame Impala are releasing a new album this year. Though no-one except for Kevin Parker has actually heard it, I think I already have a possible Number One on my hands…

And we have an important Beatle-y celebration coming — it would have been George’s 72nd birthday this Tuesday! Happy birthday, Georgie! I shall post my birthday post for him probably on Tuesday (if I get a chance)! But until then, good day sunshine 🙂