kurt vile - The I-94 Bar

BARFLY TOP TEN: Pig City Record co-owner, journalist and author Andrew Stafford

andrew stafford 2017 top tenJen 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".

Shock! A tribute that (mostly) doesn't suck

ill be your mirrorI’ll Be Your Mirror: A Tribute to the Velvet Underground & Nico – Various Artists (Verve)

Tribute albums usually have their fair share of lowlights bordering on the "what the fucks". Worst still, their highlights usually rank at a mere meh.  At best, someone will pull off a single worthy take of something and rescue the whole project from being a waste of time. 

The first Velvet Underground album is now an unquestioned classic seen as a cornerstone of modern rock.  It does this because of, not in spite of, its "dangerous" themes and avant-garde sound.  Even the "pretty" songs seem to arrive from another world, twisted by low-fi audio recording.

Sir George Martin was not at the mixing desk. And that is why the first Velvet Underground album rules.  Oh, that and genius players and songwriting.  That didn't hurt.

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