Jen Cloher - “Jen Cloher”
The Australian album of the year, and in many years. Name-dropping heroes who have gone before her – from the Saints to the Go-Betweens to the Triffids – Cloher proved herself the equal of any of them.
Peter Perrett - “How the West Was Won”
This album was miraculous on two levels: one, that Perrett was still alive to make it, two, that Perrett’s gift for droll wit and languid melody remained perfectly intact. His band includes his two sons, and they did the Only Ones proud.
Neil Finn - “Out of Silence”
In a good year for old stagers, Finn’s album was among his finest. Ten tiny, perfect pocket symphonies in the mould of the Beach Boys and late XTC.
Paul Kelly - “Life Is Fine”
Another old stager. Kelly returned to the charts – his first number-one, in fact – with an album that summoned the ghosts of his old band the Coloured Girls/Messengers.
The Dream Syndicate - “How Did I Find Myself Here”
Next to Peter Perrett, the year’s best and most unexpected comeback. The Dream Syndicate’s first album in nearly 30 years was as bracing as their celebrated debut "The Days of Wine and Roses".
Jen Cloher - “Jen Cloher”
Penny onstage with Dimi Dero, Vinz Gulluliy and Johnny Casino at Andoaingo Rock Jaialdia in Basque Country.
In no particular order:
1. GUITAR WOLF (Japan) and Mach Pelican at The Bendigo Hotel, Melbourne
Ah! Guitar Wolf! Boy, can these guys fly! Liberating and exhilarating to listen to and watch. Every now and then I go to a gig and get a guitar lesson for the price of the entrance fee! This is the second time I have seen these guys, and there I was, right up the front again, with my comrade in arms, Julian Wu, protector of rock ’n’ roll women in volatile crowds.
2. CHARLIE OWEN at The State Library of Victoria, Melbourne
Charlie melded instruments - electronic, electric and acoustic - in a way only Charlie knows how. Situated in the Reading Room of the State Library of Victoria, a tremendous building built in the gold rush era of the 1850s, the setting was opulent and reverential. Charlie had his very own pulpit/stage so to speak and kept us spellbound for an hour or so.
1. PAUL MCCARTNEY LIVE SYDNEY 12 DECEMBER, 2017
2. KING GIZZARD AND THE LIZARD WIZARD - “Sketches of Brunswick East"
3. RESIDENTS - “The Ghost of Hope”
4. Sólstafir - “Berdreyminn”
5. MELVINS - “A Walk with Love & Death”
6. FRENZAL RHOMB - “Hi Vis High Tea”
7. DEAD - “Unpopularity Contest”
8. MYRKUR - “Mareidt"
9. MASTODON - “Cold Dark Place"
10. DAVID BOWIE - “No Plan"
OK, in no particular order - and probably not 10 of them either
Råttens Krater “URRAH!” (Conquest Of Noise)
Stoked to release this gem. Slightly demented noisy punk rock from Sweden. Thankfully none of these blokes are parading fucking mullets. You can hear plenty of different influences from The Misfits, The Wipers to The Hives
Marvelous Mark “Buzzin’” (Drunken Sailor)
A bunch of unreleased demos & ep’s combined to make this great album from ex Marvelous Darlings guitarist. He’s a power pop writing machine. This is no pedestrian piss poor pop effort, which I see plenty of. Plenty of 90’s influence going on here from Dinosaur Jr, Teenage Fanclub to Big Star.
The Cowboys “Volume 4” (Drunken Sailor)
Killer lo-fi garage punks from Indiana. There’s some real bangers on this one. A total grower. All kinds of shit going on here from The DK’s, Thee Mighty Caesars to Devo. Make your own mind up.
This year was returning to my childhood and gromit years - teenage times as well as inner-city music, alternative and garage rock, beer-soaked pubs and the alternative. Namely the Beatles, Midnight Oil and Patti Smith.
Patti Smith and Paul McCartney get the guernsey for the best gigs of the year. And for the same reasons. Both artists are incredible live and these final tours were a massive thank you to the fans…
1 Macca at Suncorp Brisbane
Sir Paul delivered on all fronts. With the most thoughtful visual show and a hit every minute over those three hours and ten minutes, it ranged from pure, four-on-the-floor garage rock with guitars sonically attacking to more mellow stuff.
From “I Want To Be Your Lover” which would have made the Stones sound like a get-together at a nursing home to “Helter Skelter”, to the bombastic, “Live And Let Die” which inflamed the stadium, the cheesy “Mull of Kintyre” with a 25-piece pipe band, to the solo acoustic moments with “Blackbird”, this was gold. Macca’s voice, his insights, wit and humility, and his guitar playing were magnificent; 42 songs played. I won’t forget it a hurry.
1 Patti Smith at the State Theatre and spoken word at Sydney Opera House
Another pair of gigs where Patti gave 300 percent. Patti engaged us with insights, stories and, as with Macca, showed a great deal of humility. The band, led by Lenny Kaye, at times still had the intensity of 1975 CBGBs Patti, yet with overtones of a grandmother and an earth mother.
It could have been called “Short Lives Of The Poor and Obscure”.
Like Reals, Negatives, Young Charlatans and News/Babeez, The Fiction is but a footnote in Melbourne punk’s earliest days, briefly existing from 1978-79. They released a posthumous EP under the name Little Murders, kickstarting that enduring brand and the career of its leader, Rob Griffiths. They also enjoyed the patronage of the rightly-lauded Melbourne punk mover and shaker Bruce Milne and Pulp, the zine he ran with Clinton Walker.
The Fiction had a loose affiliation with those glam-sheep- in-punk-wolves clothing, La Femme, sharing a practice space and a manager. Musically, The Fiction seems to have been drawing more from bands like The Who and the Small Faces, although there’s undoubtedly a bit of Bowie in there, too.
“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” ― Upton Sinclair
Some chipper go-getter types, reportedly, have had wonderfully gratifying early educational experiences, they seem to remember fondly. They are most often, obedient Ken & Barbie yearbook committee types with prominent last names, from bigass two storey homes nestled behind many old trees, and have nice cursive handwriting and strong math skills, own a lot of golf shirts in at least 31 various shades of Baskin Robbins, dutifully participate in sports, roller-skate, cheer-lead, earned many merit badges, and have already memorized the entire big bamboozle bullshit whitewash Murkkkan history that photo-shops all the hard and painful facts about this violent blood soaked empire settler colony that was built on the genocide of natives with the labor of slaves.
The Aints, the powerhouse vehicle of singer-guitarist Ed Kuepper, bassist Peter Oxley, drummer Paul Larsen and keyboardist Alister Spence, will encore in Sydney and Melbourne in March, ahead of new recordings with producer Phil Punch.
The band will be joined by the three-piece brass section to play material by Kuepper’s adolescent band The Saints (’73-78).
Underground legends feedtime are on the undercard in Sydney (The Manning Bar on March 9) and Melbourne psychedelic five-piece Sand Pebbles will complete the line-up in the southern capital (Thornbury Theatre, March 23).
Looks like I was premature the other week when I listed my fave ten or so for 2017. “Cordyline Australis” should have been there.
And I have to say I envy all of you - you haven’t heard this yet. The first listen - if you put aside the hour and turn it on - you’ll be damn impressed. This is one hugely groovy disc.
You don’t know Michael Canning from a bag of chops, of course; he’s on Facebook as Michael Sea, and I did a review of his band’s last EP, “Mass Spectrometer”; I should also point out that Canning has released one earlier solo LP, and a slew of other music with other bands. Hassle the man on FB, but also go here.
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