Archive for 2013
It’s been a really tough year for Australian records this year. Singles out the backside but strong releases have been very few and far between. A large percentage of what would have been in my end of year list dropped in the first three months of the year. What have I done for the remaining nine, I wish you’d ask? Honed my talent, mates. I’ve become the third best semi-cynical, beats based wordpress blog run out of Sydney. “How does one reach such great heights?”, I ask once again on your behalf. Well, first off, you write a piece. Usually at that point, it’s good enough for for my emotions based Live Journal. We call that ‘LJ Level’. After that, I’ll usually rewrite that article and throw it in the bin. That’s called ‘Bin Level’. At this stage we’re almost at Sound Doc level which is marginally above bin level but not so much so that it sticks out at you, it still feels relatively binnish. Then I just go live on it and hopefully there aren’t any spelling errors and the bits that I copy/pasted out of the press release make sense where I’ve inserted them. So that’s largely what I’ve been upto fifty or sixty times over.
Here we are at the end of the year, and also finally arriving at the inevitable conclusion to the Sound Doctrine story arc. We’ve reached the point at which my apathy is so present that I’ve opted not to write my own end of year list and enlisted Australia’s best musicians to write it for me. They aren’t writers though, you hear me? So if you happen to see a confused your/you’re situation will you kindly just shut your damn trap and let it lie? Will you kindly do that for me? Will you, kindly? They’re music types and if you’d care to glance through the list you’ll recognise that you’re looking at the next wave of Australia’s sonic cream. Imagine that, a creamwave. In my head it’s either a genre or a dense, rancid body of rolling dairy. Anywho, all in all, some bloody fantastic music sorts in the list of contributors here and all freely contributed so benevolent souls to boot. There’s also some neat cross-pollination among the choices too, so stay sharp.
I assigned each artists a marking rubric with judgments to be based around:
· Length of song
· Quality of cover art
· File size weighed against number of instruments on the track
· Whether or not it’s already been featured on mess + noise
· Median Triple J unearthed user rating
· Total streaming service income divided by number of letters in artist name
If it managed to come through that trial by fire unscathed then it was a bonafide hit and I need not remind you that I only deal in hits which is exactly where my famous “I deal in hits” motto came from.
So, without further adieu, here are the hits as decided by their peers. Hitpeers.
“Choosing one song for 2013 is a difficult task. I have gone through my iTunes, through soundcloud, through Facebook and blogs trying to remember what was released and trying to pick between so many amazing tracks and artists. Chela stands out for me because the type of music she’s making is uniquely her own. This song excited me because its great intelligent pop. Australia is in the spotlight at the moment, and for all the right reasons: we are taking what we love to dance to, what we know people can relate to and what cuts people to the quick and its spreading over the internet like vegemite. This has caught the worlds attention for sure. The chorus of ‘Romanticise’ makes me swing my head and look up to the sky like I’m dancing to Kylie or Madonna. Chela brings grit to her own version of pop, and just like her effortless eclectic style she layers her music with freckles of satisfying vocal licks, bursts of disco synths and satisfying beats. As IF anyone has listened to this song and not wanted to grab a hairbrush to sing into?! For these reasons I’ve picked ‘Romanticise’ as my favourite release of 2013 – a powerful woman at her best, singing her heart out in a way that makes everyone feel like they’re in love.”
“This songs buried melody is great, reminds me of grouper with an Australiana tinge, and the surrounding layers of swirling guitars and distorted strings (?) kills me. Great song.”
“most definitely ‘split’ by ocean party. Written and sung by Zac “Ciggie Witch” Denton (his first time writing for ocean party). The track is a pretty simple song about the annoyance of responsibility, but the intertwining melodies of the three guitars adds a layer of un-follow-able jangle and reverb that soothes the brain. 5/5 goon-bags.”
“Cape North is a friend of mine who has just started putting out some lo-fi piano ballads, but that needn’t mean anything. The EP it’s from, Break (on Valley Spirit Records) is something of a digital, infinitely replicable equivalent to Daniel Johnston’s boombox-recorded output, which he famously would palm single-edition copies of to uninterested strangers. Like Johnston, Cape North’s songs are almost uncontrollably wrought, a feeling amplified by its lo-fi mediation. In “I Live In Fear” it seems as if we are the ghostly voyeurs to his outpourings, confined to a piano, a laptop, a voice, and a head full of R&B affectations. The opening (“I was waiting for night to come on the day I told you you were the one”) is not a capella, but rather a voice embedded in a sea of static – the artefact that links us to one lone boy, in one night, singing from the heart.”
“These guys are kind of really doing it for me and have been for a while. I’m worried Day Ravies are starting to recognise me. I’ve spent so much time lurking as close to the sweet spot of venues they’re playing that it’s probably inevitable, but I don’t want to creep them out so I try to stay hidden. My car is perpetually parked in the sun so their LP Tussle is probably melting in my car’s cd player, just waiting to be replaced with another copy. So I’m a good fan, right? Their track “Staring is Caring” aligns with my personal interests the most. While being a slowburning and soothing number, it manages to bite aggressively with bursts of fuzz guitar that waver up and down with Sam’s trem-bar. That fuzz isn’t the prettiest of fuzzes either – it’s serrated and harsh – like if you recorded a chainsaw with a early-2000s laptop’s inbuilt mic. Inside a fire. Add in a pile of interesting gazey guitar work, you’ve got one of the best tracks of the year.”
“Blown away with this track/album. Free your mind, massive tip to the 90s Brit baggy Manchester sound. Love that Cut Copy have made an album that is first and foremost- fun, …and a really funky listen. Lots of solid cuts, and Free You Mind the title track is a good one. Great listen on headphones too, if you’re into Hi Fi audio nerd vibes. Free your ears.”
“Killing two birds with one stone here, because I adore both these guys. Had some moments seeing them live too. Hard choice though; it was actually between a couple of Kane Ikin remixes (and Friendships, which is more-so my album of the year anyway). Incredible track, this just really stuck out for me.”
“My favourite Aussie song of the year would have to be Is this How You Feel by The Preatures – this is sweet, pure pop at it’s greatest and what a gem it is!”
“I would have been happy to pick any of Oscar’s songs really, but this is the obvious one. Anything with his voice on it will usually push the right buttons for me personally, his delivery is so soulful without any unnecessary embellishments and he somehow gives what is essentially a four to the floor feel a much more unique groove. And above all, it sounds fantastic, Very much looking forward to the EP.”
“Hunter Gatherer have been putting out forward thinking and impressive electronic music all year. Cassius Select AKA Guerre is at the forefront of this school of thought, being, in our opinion, one of the most under-rated artists in Australia. Lavurn creates impressive, unique and boundary pushing electronic music.”
Industry Role: Teenage Laptopoftheworld
Song Choice: Oscar Key Sung – All I Could Do
“Hearing it for the first time, I already knew it would be one of my favourite tracks of the year. The pulsating drums, glitchy synths and oscar’s smooth-as-a-baby’s-bottom vocals make for a joyful, exuberant 3 minutes of summer goodness.”
Industry Role: The Most Popular Man In QLD / Hoops Dreams All-Rounder
Song Choice: The Preatures – Is This How You Feel?
“Besides the parts of the year that were blacked out due to obsessive listening of the Ramones, Phil Collins and Iron Maiden’s respective back catalogues there was a bunch of cool stuff happening in new music. Working in music retail also let me hear a whole lot of completely shit house new releases too. So I totally have perspective maaaaan. Narrowing it down to my favourite Australian song of 2013 is tough though. I mean. I still love The Preatures’ “Is This How You Feel” even after *google searches release date* wow. 8 months. That’s more power than even Venger would know what to do with. Violent Soho’s Hungry Ghost gave us the most triumphantly powerful “Covered In Chrome” and it makes me wish I had long hair and that I made heavier music. The Gooch Palms told it how it is in the title track to their record “Novo’s” like nobody else had the guts to do and for that I am thankful. So it’s somewhere between these. Due to a tried and true test over time though…
Is This How You Feel.”
The Kite String Tangle
Industry Role: Soundcloud Glutton
Song Choice: Movement – Us
“My choice for this year is ‘Us’ by Sydney band ‘Movement’. This is a stellar track that really stood out to me; and for obvious reasons. It seems like Movement are one of the few Australian acts tackling this sound currently. The tune is an airy, floaty and silky smooth production with vocals that somehow melt somewhere between the speakers and your ears and leave the listener as a puddle on the floor (much like Alex Mack). I had the pleasure of supporting these guys early in 2013 and am pleased to report that they kill it live too making them a complete package deal. I think there’s only a matter of time before ‘Movement’ become well respected players amongst their peers in this genre internationally.”
Nick Allbrook (POND+more)
Industry Role: Psych-Lord
Song Choice: Ngaiire – Around
“Oh shit, i am so glad i get to tell err’body about this one song i love! It’s called around by Ngaiire. I dont really know anything about her except that she is a total babe and obviously splendidly talented, considering all the amazing music she’s made in the last couple of years. I dunno, this song is just a heart crushingly beautiful gumbo of everyones favorite bits of music. It’s ass-grindingly danceable and honest and emotional and sentimental and uplifting and yeah. Around by Ngaiire”
The Ocean Party
Industry Role: Jangle Bell Rock
Song Choice: Nathan Roche – Sailors into Wooloomooloo
“Sydney via North Queensland musician/author Nathan Roche is a legend. Formerly and currently of Marf Loth, Camperdown & Out, Nathan Roche & The Wentworth Avenue Breeze Out, Home Run, The Revisionists and Disgusting People, his most recent output simply under his own name is his best to date, and this track: ‘Sailors into Wooloomooloo’ is the best of an album without a bad track. Starting out simply enough, after 17 whole seconds the sing-along, children’s song-esque verse breaks into the chorus of the year: “They’re gonna fuck, they’re gonna fight, they’re gonna drink for the night…” and the warped and distorted good vibe keep up for the whole three minutes. Effortlessly charming. Great guitar solo too. ”
Industry Role: Gareth Liddiard 2.0
Song Choice: Pond – Midnight Mass (At the Market St Payphone)
“Mine would be Pond’s Midnight Mass (At The Market St Payphone). Maybe it has something to do with how Nick sings about getting drunk in my favourite chair before the boiz crack into one of the tastiest drops ive ever heard, or maybe its cos it made me like synthy drone out shit again, or maybe its because I’ve made some seriously fucked phonecalls from the Market St payphone, some life saving, others, damning. Maybe its because I just saw them make people shit all over the place on the Hobo Rocket tour over the last week with this song. Whatever it is, this song blew my dick out of my face in a really pleasant way when I heard it in 2013. I’m just stoked my dick replenishes itself everytime a great song blows it out of my face.”
Industry Role: Political Censorees
Song Choice: Cloud Control – Scar
“This song is just sick. The bass drop into the chorus is just a few wub wubz away from punching a hole clean through the dancefloor. Plus a totally singable chorus harmony that I can actually hit. Which is rare.”
Industry Role: Tumblr Bragaddocio
Song Choice: N’fa Jones – Once Again For The First Time
“For a rap song anywhere in the world, it’s just bumping, the production is of the chain and the raps are fire, it gets me hyped to do music which I usually take as a sign of a good song hahaha”
Industry Role: Man of Many Bands
Song Choice: The Starry Field – All Of My Love
“It isn’t really fair to pick just one song from this great Australian album. I love that it is simultaneously earnest and self-mocking. Love the progression in the verses, and it is some of the most interesting pop production I’ve heard in a song this year. I really like that it sounds unashamedly (and even courageously) Australian.”
The Trouble With Templeton
Industry Role: Seattle-Come-Brisbane
Song Choice: Emma Louise – 17 Hours
“What a way to start an album! This song an Emma’s voice and lyrics completely encapsulates me and draws me in… A fantastic journey and wonderful beginning to a beautiful, thoughtful album.”
Oh readership… this is pretty. You’ll like this, I’m confident. I know we sort of lost you a little with that new jam from Kirkis but I have a steady optimism that bids me hope you’ll come around yet. By contrast, Skinny Legions is very, very palatable. Harsh snare sounds and thundering bass drums worry you? No need, it’s all out the window. This is a kitless, bassless, keyless affair, all strum, string and sing and vastly peaceful. Skinny Legion is the moniker under which Glenn Hopper performs and harkens from the Blue Mountains, featuring on the geographically specific mixtape ‘Tangible‘ that also offered up Spoonty and Wheat Fields last year.
Readership, if you’re anything like me then you’re actually a pretty big fan of Christmas. We put a tree up, hung some Christmas lights around our window, wrapped some present, did all the mandatory stuff and I’m feeling jolly as heck right now so I thought it would be a good opportunity to share a couple of little Aussie buddos who have dropped Christmas tracks over the past few. I don’t have the audacity to call this a best of Australian Christmas list since it’s the entirety of the Australian Christmas songs I was able to find but to be fair I didn’t look all that hard.
Babaganouj got into the spirit of things, with their Shitty Christmas which may not have upheld the same ideals as Little Drummer Boy but they haven’t completely forgone the sweet sanctity of the December communion with the chorus ‘I don’t mind having a shitty, shitty Christmas… as long as it’s with you.’ It’s a lovely sentiment and probably not all that far from the reality plenty the world over. Also, if it’s your first exposure to Babaganouj (it’s mine) then I do say, not a bad start. For those hoping for a more stripped back rendition, get at this.
Jesse Davidson has been pedaling this one at his shows with Mac Demarco so if you’re lucky then maybe you’ve already sorted yourself a 7″, replete with hand drawn sleeve art in a series of variations. It points once again to what is an effortlessly strong voice and he pretty gloriously restructures a classic here. Also, please note new name ‘Last Chrimbles’. Full disclosure, I’m now working with Jesse in a “bizness” sense as part of my 9-5 so if y’all are worried about my partiality then you must not even know how little that matters to me. Lots of love for you still, just lots of love. Remember the Jimmy Eat World version of this’n? I do.
Slumdog Sociallaires released an EP to critical acclaim in November this year which turned at least one head and added to the rich compendium of great EPs to offset 2013′s failure to launch with albums. They’ve backed that doozey up with a seasonal number to demonstrate that they know the true meaning of Christmas, which apparently is reverb and choral sampling. Who knew!?
Sleepyhands even gifted us with an entire Christmas EP though it’s hard to believe that was all of two years ago now. If you’ve never heard of them it’s because they unofficially called it a day before things ever took off. They featured members of Jonathan Boulet (not Jonathan Boulet though) as well as Sures & Nantes. I’ve always had a but of a soft spot for them by virtue of their many part harmonies and I’m getting strong waves of nostalgia just listening to this. Feelings.
I’ve been devoting all my time and attention to two things, readership, the construction of an extremely powerful end of year list, capable of destroying all other end of year lists and full of songs and albums so potent that most of them will ruin the careers of the artists who penned them them by growth of the crippling terror that they’ve peaked and may never again match the intensity of their release. That sentence kind of ended in a reasonably gross climax, didn’t it? No matter, don’t worry about it, there’s new B-side and a new single from Guerre (in that order) launched last week. I can’t say why but it always seems that Guerre’s B-sides are better than his A-sides. Not that J U D G E / L O C K isn’t a bloody beautiful piece from one of the few true bassmen Australia possesses. He manipulates the low end gloriously putting it through constant programmed runs and my word, he knows EXACTLY how to add weight without over thickening the cream on the beat end.
If you’re listening through a laptop or your iphone headphones then this is your official cease and desist. There is absolutely no point hearing this song unless it’s through any half decent+ system. You won’t hear any of the lows because they’re as subtle as Shackleton’s own tribal manoeuvres which is high praise and something not worth missing. It’s not the sort of sound you’ll see appearing in Triple J’s Next Crop but it’s more modern than the artists in said list combined. He’s demonstrated a profound ability to generate three dimensional soundscapes through clever levelling and sharp, thought-out production choices (see A M O N G from a few months back) but J U D G E / L O C K sees him penetrating particularly British territories.
He’s got a full record out via bandcamp and a number of other singles that you need to be across as well work within Black Vanilla and under the moniker of Cassius Select and that’s probably about enough conjunctions for one sentence.
New music is being churned out all the time. I don’t know if you guys know this but every minute, somewhere in the world, 46 terrible albums are given the tick of approval by fat men smoking cigars. What’s the only thing that can save us from this nightmare combination of bad tunes, lifestyle disease and mouth cancer? If you know the answer to this, be sure to get in touch with any remaining members of Sticky Fingers in about 20yrs. In the meantime, THIS REMAINS OUR ONLY HOPE: huge new jams from avante-garde musical futurist Kirkis.
At first, it might feel like chaos. A synthetic kick-drum pounds out an irregular pattern, sometimes anticipating, sometimes a little late, sometimes spot the beat. Over this, a synth stutters out a melody in triplets. Each note of the sparse-yet-effective vocal line is positioned on the off-beat. This might give us a clue as to why the opening of this piece seems so rhythmically chaotic, as almost nothing is happening on the counts of ’1, 2, 3, 4′. These beats are implied, but are largely ignored by the tune itself. THE SCIENCE OF MUSIC! To make sense of it, we need to become little metronomes, keeping the time in our heads. Helpful hint: try tapping your pen on the desk. Another hint: if you’re working in an office, to keep noise levels to a minimum, you could tap the pen on your leg instead.
Some heavy side-chain compression synth swells begin that will make us think “Hey, is this a gig at Sydney venue ‘Tone’ circa 2011?” Alas though, ‘Tone’ is now ‘The Soda Factory’, Jarred Beeler is no longer curating musical events and Flume has 4 Arias. We’re none of us getting any younger.