10 Best Albums of the Year
It is with great trepidation that I approach this month’s column for I have decided to go with the “My List of the 10 Best Albums of the Year”. Whilst I think music should never be about competition or league tables, the list does give me a chance to reflect on the quality of so much music that I have listened to this year in the process of writing weekly reviews for another quality local paper.
There are so many albums made each year – where do they all end up! So much heart, soul, blood, sweat, tears, time and money put into making music and to what end? A very rich and vibrant local music scene that, yes, while not helping the national economy in that very tangible dollar sort of way the mining industry does, does feed that more ephemeral of gross domestic products – culture. Where would we be without music – with just the sweet hum of lawn mowers to stimulate our ears? Or where would we be without locally made live and recorded music – with only YouTube clips of Taylor Swift for entertainment? With this in mind I have chosen 10 albums – 3 local, 3 other Australian and 4 international – made by people who I hope don’t stop making music. In no particular order…
A magical musical journey with songs featuring an assortment of characters all sung to a rich and homely musical accompaniment. Appealing to both adults and children – my 5 year old who is a big fan.
Christian Pyle: Nothing Left to Burn.
Taking time out from his band Ghost Mountain and recorded in between recording everyone else’s album on the north coast, Christian showed what he could do pretty much all by himself. A really cohesive set of tracks with depth and swagger.
The Tendons: Cult Leader.
Not the slickest production but plenty of attitude and an old fashioned indi rock aesthetic. This album won this year’s album of the year at the Dolphin Awards and I wasn’t judging so it’s not just me who likes it!
John Steel Singers: Tangalooma.
Debut album from these Brisbanites is thoroughly delightful. Sharp, witty, bombastic and occasionally other worldly, but mostly just very clever pop writing and production.
Jackie Marshall: Ladies’ Luck.
Features the best album opening track of the year. Jackie writes very poetic lyrics, delivers them with a great emotional breadth and has a band that is tight and follows every nuance of the song. Great rock production.
Hamish Stuart: Someone Else’s Child.
A rich and earthy album featuring some of Sydney’s top jazz players that covers some dark and broody territory. Evocative acoustic grooves and a strong sense of collective improvisation.
Vampire Weekend: Contra.
I love this band. Fun, intelligent pop music with great melodies and challenging production.
The Books: The Way Out.
A great study in the potential of using samples. Really interesting music and a refreshing approach to vocals.
Keith Jarrett/Charlie Haden: Jasmine
Two ageing jazz masters with so much to say and needing so little to say it. Gorgeous music for piano and double bass.
Nina Nastasia: Outlaster
Complex and delicate orchestral folk music. Exquisite recording and a very well connected bunch of songs.
And thanks to those who gave me feedback about my rant last month on the Lismore Show – there seems to be a few musicians out there who feel they have done enough to earn a plumber’s attendance fee.