In reflecting on the past calendar year of music, it became quite clear that the quality of Australia music during this time has been quite extraordinary. In fact, my top 4 albums of the year were from Australian artists. But rather than composing a list of my favourite albums of the year, I’ve decided to celebrate this great Aussie music by writing about some of my favourite 2015 Australian albums.
Tame Impala – Currents
A spectacular album. A labyrinthine of sounds hard not to get lost in, and yet navigated by Kevin Parker’s deeply honest lyrics. It’s the kind of album that offers up something new every time you listen to it; a lyric that uncovers new meaning, or an obscure layer of sound that reveals itself upon closer attentiveness. I wrote in length about it here.
Highlight: “Let It Happen”
Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I sit and think, and sometimes I just sit
Courtney Barnett is a unique cup of tea, not necessarily for everyone, despite critical acclaim. Her distinct Aussie drawl and tendency for writing about the mundane is quirky and unique, which is exactly the reason I’m drawn to her music. It’s not just delightfully mundane, it’s ironic and cleverly conceived. In “Depreston”, just listen to the way she describes a house in the outer suburbs of Melbourne and how the song evolves, forcing Barnett to confront her own trivial preoccupations. She doesn’t have to say much, but it’s all there.
Pond – Man It Feels Like Space Again
Neo-psychedelia, space rock is certainly an ultra-specific music genre, and Pond is among its finest champions. The band may be a Tame Impala offshoot and even has old-mate Kevin Parker overseeing as producer of Man It Feels Like Space Again, but Pond differentiates themselves with their own brand of sonic eccentricity and delightful irreverence. It’s a chaotic album, in the best sense; not one song commits to a consistent sound. It’s wonderfully experimental and impulsive, conjuring rhythms and grooves that are distorted to the point where they feel, as the title would suggest, unearthly.
City Calm Down – In A Restless House
Sonically textured with a classic vibe. City Calm Down borrow from the sounds of U2, Bruce Springsteen and The Cure for their debut album In A Restless House, while still managing to sound remarkably contemporary. Their synth-laden songs are perfectly balanced by Jack Bourke’s deep, soaring vocals and the ambitious melodies. For an inaugural record, City Calm Down already feel comfortably mature and In A Restless House greets you like an old-friend you never knew you had.
Last Dinosaurs – Wellness
Hit after hit. Every song is impeccably refined and a confident exercise in catchy, indie-pop music. Their vibrant soundscape relies on glistening riffs that surge through each song, accompanied by the resonating voice of lead singer Sean Caskey. It’s a youthful and optimistic sound which at times can distract from the painstaking honesty of the album’s songwriting. The result is a very satisfying listen, full of surprising maturity and complexity.
Gang of Youths – The Positions
The Positions is a deeply intimate record of self-introspection by frontman Dave Leaupepe. His lyrics drive each ballad, backed by big drums, bare guitars and sprawling sonic layers. Their songs are mostly anthemic, building slowly and naturally, eventually erupting with intensity. They describe their sound as dad rock, which sounds modest but the album is so much more cocksure and defiant than that suggests. The Positions requires some patience and careful listening, but the reward is often fascinating and fun.
The Paper Kites – twelvefour
A concept album revolving around the idea that creativity peaks during the hours of midnight to 4am, hence the title twelvefour. The result is less experimental and more focused than you would expect; it’s a hypnotic and immaculate blend of synths and alternative-country melodies, perfect for late-night easy listening. Like the album cover, a timeless brick wall illuminated with indigo neon lights, twelvefour evokes a feeling of familiarity but with a touch of vibrancy and modernity.
Highlight: “Electric Indigo”
Other notable Aussie albums of 2015:
Boy & Bear – Limit of Love
Holy Holy – When The Storms Would Come
Jarryd James – Thirty One
Methyl Ethel – Oh Inhuman Spectacle
Royal Headache – High
The Rubens – Hoops