Favourite Songs of 2011

So many people are starting to base their listening on songs these days, such is the reduction in attention spans, the proliferation of YouTube browsing and the ease of compiling ones own playlists featuring the best stuff you want to hear. Separate to my Top 50 LPs of 2011 I’ve also put together a list of songs that caught my ears and became hard to shake. There were of course dozens of others that could be included here but this is a lucky dip of sorts into some of my favourite tunes of 2011 that might lead you further into the artist’s work if you havent checked them out yet…

In no particular order as they are all great…

Dick Diver – On The Bank

Those Darlins – Screw Get Loose

J. Mascis – Not Enough

Total Control – One More Tonight

Light Asylum – Dark Allies

The Strokes – Under Cover of Darkness

Iron & Wine – Tree By a River

Timber Timbre – Bad Ritual

Little Dragon – Ritual Union

Wilco – I Might

Two Tears – Eat People

The Pains of Being Pure At Heart – Belong

Iowa – Complete Control

The Laurels – Black Cathedral

The Adults – Nothing To Lose

Austra – Lose It

Atlas Sound – Te Amo

Twerps – Dreamin

Royal Headache – Really In Love

Melodie Nelson – Waiting

Black Lips – Spidey’s Curse

Crystal Stilts – Shake The Shackles

Jamie XX – Far Nearer

The Felice Brothers – Ponzi

The Paper Scissors – Lung Sum

Robag Wruhme – Thora Vukk

Wavves – I Wanna Meet Dave Grohl

Wild Flag – Romance

Leader Cheetah – Crawling Up A Landslide

DS Top 50 LPs of 2011

2011 has been another massive year for music, at least it feels that way. Invariably the availability and access to recorded music is easier and greater than ever with streaming and file sharing available at the click of a button. Each year I seem to increase the size of my list, purely as a result of the volume of stuff I get to hear. The more I hear, the more I like which is a good thing but it makes year end lists a real brow furrowing exercise – painful but fun for a music obsessive such as some of us are.

This year threw up some new albums from favourites of recent years like Girls, Wild Beasts and Wooden Shjips  – all groups that seem to be refining and improving their music with each album they release. I’ve also been listening to a lot more electronic music reflected by appearances from The Field, Robag Wruhme, Gui Boratto and Zomby. Check out our list over at Komputer Music for more great electronic releases. I’ll also be publishing a list in the coming days of some of my favourite songs from 2011. To the list…

Pure X – Pleasure [Review]

Girls – Father, Son, Holy Ghost

Wild Beasts – Smother

Kurt Vile – Smoke Rings for My Halo

Destroyer – Kaputt [Review]

Wooden Shjips – West [Review]

Gillian Welch – The Harrow & The Harvest [Review]

The Felice Brothers – Celebration, Florida [Review]
Wilco – The Whole Love

Royal Headache – Royal Headache [Review]

Leader Cheetah – Lotus Skies [Review]

J. Mascis – Several Shades Of Why [Review]

Okkervil River – I Am Very Far

Zomby – Dedication

The Field – Looping State of Mind

The Low Anthem – Smart Flesh

Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues

The Field – Looping State of Mind

Bill Callahan – Apocalypse

Melodie Nelson – Meditations on the Sun [Review]

Zola Jesus – Conatus [Review]

Tom Waits – Bad As Me

The Black Keys – Camino

Iron & Wine – Kiss Each Other Clean

Gui Boratto – III

Dick Diver – New Start Again [Review]

Nils Frahm – Felt

Radiohead – The King of Limbs

Real Estate – Days

The Horrors – Skying

Thurston Moore – Demolished Thoughts

Neil Young – A Treasure

Robag Wruhme – Thora Vukk

Jack Ladder – Hurtsville [Review]

Step-Panther – Step-Panther [Review]

James Blake – James Blake

Twerps – Twerps [Review]

Austra – Feel It Break [Review]

Eleanor Friedberger- Last Summer

The Bats – Free All The Monsters

Those Darlins – Screws Get Loose [Review]

Ryan Adams – Ashes & Fire

British Sea Power – Valhalla Dancehall [Review]

Mogwai – Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will

Black Lips – Arabia Mountain

Tiny Ruins – Some Were Meant For Sea [Review]

Anna Calvi – Anna Calvi [Review]

PJ Harvey – Let England Shake

Bon Iver – Bon Iver

The Necks – Mindset

NEWS: Classic Talk Talk/Mark Hollis albums reissued on vinyl…

Mark Hollis and Talk Talk underwent a fascinating transformation from the synth pop of It’s A Shame and Dum Dum Girl to their exploratory and sparse sound on albums like Laughing Stock and Spirit Of Eden. Now labe Ba Da Bing are reissuing Laughing Stock and Mark Hollis’ subsequent solo record.

Here is what Boomkat have to say about Talk Talk’s Laughing Stock:

One of the most influential albums of the last 20 years available on vinyl for the first time in a generation* It’s impossible to overstate the love felt by so many for the two “experimental” Talk Talk albums – ‘Spirit of Eden’ and ‘Laughing Stock’. Basically, following the commercial triumph of their singles “It’s My Life”, “Life’s What You Make It” and album “The Colour of Spring” Talk Talk retreated back into the shadows and produced two albums that defied categorisation. Recorded in near-mythical conditions, Mark Hollis is said to have demanded the band work in almost complete darkness, improvising for hours to produce complex, multi-layered and ultimately completely groundbreaking material. “Laughing Stock” was to be their last album – but its legacy seems to grow in stature with every year that goes by. You can easily see the stylistic and conceptual markers left by Talk Talk in the way that bands like Radiohead went on to explore more open-ended and diverse sound sources and stylistic shifts – as if it were the most normal thing in the world for a band with considerable chart success to do. “Laughing Stock” is a quiet, contemplative album – and it hasn’t aged a day since it’s release over 20 years ago. If you own it – we’ll be preaching to the converted. If you don’t – we envy you for being able to hear it for the first time. In short – it’s just completely unmissable.

ORDER

NEWS: Australian Independent Music Awards – and the nominees are…

The nominees for the 2011 Jagermeister Independent Music Awards have been announced with a date for the awards still to be advised. Last year Cloud Control took out the Independent Album award – who will it be this year? Our money is on Seekae but hey that’s just our fave. Check out the other previous category winners HERE.

BEST INDEPENDENT ARTIST
Abbe May
Adalita
Art Vs Science
Seekae
The Jezabels

BREAKTHROUGH INDEPENDENT ARTIST OF THE YEAR
Adalita
Big Scary
Busby Marou
Emma Louise
Oscar & Martin
The Holidays

BEST INDEPENDENT ALBUM
Abbe May: Design Desire (Source Music)
Adalita: Adalita (Liberation Music)
Art vs Science: The Experiment (Independent)
Drapht: The Life Of Riley (The Ayems)
Seekae: +Dome (Rice Is Nice/Popfrenzy)

BEST INDEPENDENT SINGLE OR EP
Adalita: Hot Air (Liberation Music)
Emma Louise: Full Hearts and Empty Rooms (Independent)
Illy: It Can Wait Featuring Owl Eyes (Obese)
Stonefield: Through The Clover (Shock Entertainment)
The Jezabels: Dark Storm (Independent)

BEST INDEPENDENT BLUES AND ROOTS ALBUM
Blue King Brown: Worldwize (Part 1, The North and South) (Lion House Records)
Bonjah: Go Go Chaos (Shock Entertainment)
Busby Marou: Busby Marou (Footstomp)
Gurrumul: Rrakala (Skinnyfish)
Jordie Lane: Blood Thinner (Vitamin)

BEST INDEPENDENT COUNTRY ALBUM
Davidson Brothers: Here To Stay (Independent)
Halfway: An Outpost Of Promise (Plus One Records)
Kasey Chambers: Little Bird (Liberation)
Shane Nicholson: Bad Machines (Liberation)
Wagons: Rumble Shake and Tumble (Spunk)
Troy Cassar-Daly: Live (Liberation)

BEST INDEPENDENT HIP HOP ALBUM
Bliss N Eso: Walking On Air (Illusive Sounds)
Drapht: The Life Of Riley (The Ayems)
Illy: The Chase (Obese)
Joelistics: Voyager (Elefant Traks)
Sietta: The Seventh Passenger (Elefant Traks)

BEST HARD ROCK AND PUNK ALBUM
Cosmic Psychos: Florious Basterds (Missing Link/Fuse)
Front End Loader: Ritardando (Weeping Anus Records)
Harmony: Harmony (Casa Del Disco)
My Disco: Little Joy (Shock Entertainment)
Trial Kennedy: Living Undesigned (Independent)

BEST INDEPENDENT DANCE / ELECTRONICA ALBUM
Art Vs Science (Independent)
Pnau: Soft Universe (Etc Etc)
Seekae: +Dome (Rice Is Nice/Popfrenzy)
The Aston Shuffle: Seventeen Past Midnight (Downright Music)
The Potbelleez: Destination Now (Vicious)

BEST INDEPENDENT DANCE / ELECTRONICA OR CLUB SINGLE
Collarbones: Don Juan (Two Bright Lakes)
Pnau: Solid Ground (etc etc)
Seekae: Blood Bank (Rice Is Nice/Popfrenzy)
Tommy Trash and Tom Piper: All My Friends Featuring Mr. Wilson (Ministry Of Sound)
Tonite Only: We run The Night (Ministry Of Sound)

BEST INDEPENDENT JAZZ ALBUM
Allan Browne, Marc Hannaford, Sam Anning: Shreveport Stomp (Jazzhead)
Daniel Gassin Sextet: Daniel Gassin Sextet (Which Way Music)
Elixir featuring Katie Noonan: Fist Seed Ripening (ABC Music)
Mark Isaacs Resurgence Band: Aurora (Gracemusic)
Sandy Evans: When The Sky Cries Rainbows (ABC Music)
Shannan Barnett Quartet: Country (Which Way Music)

NEWS: Meredith Music Festival line-up announced…

It is the 21st anniversary of the festival and this year on 9-11th December it’ll feature Grinderman playing during a lunar eclipse – what the?

GRINDERMAN  *  CUT/COPY  *  KURT VILE & THE VIOLATORS  *  MUDHONEY  *  ICEHOUSE  *  GANG GANG DANCE  *  EXPLOSIONS IN THE SKY  *  LADYHAWKE  *  BLACK JOE LEWIS & THE HONEYBEARS  *  OFF!  *  ADALITA  *  FUTURE OF THE LEFT  *  FRANK FAIRFIELD  *  HARMONIC 313 (DJ SET)  *  JOELISTICS  *  BIG FREEDIA  *  UNKNOWN MORTAL ORCHESTRA  *  GRAVEYARD TRAIN  *  TIM SWEENEY  *  OSCAR + MARTIN  *  CASH SAVAGE & THE LAST DRINKS  *  ANGUS SAMPSON  *  BARBARION  *  KING GIZZARD & THE LIZARD WIZARD  *  JUICEBOXXX  *  VIRGO FOUR  *  EAGLE & THE WORM  *  THE RECHORDS  *  DAVE GRANEY & THE LURID YELLOW MIST  *  MATT SONIC & THE HIGH TIMES  *  THE TOWN BIKES  *  CITY OF BALLARAT MUNICIPAL BRASS BAND  *  MASTER SONG TAI CHI  *  SILENCE WEDGE  *  A TOTAL LUNAR ECLIPSE  *  Very Special Guest MC DENNIS COMETTI

DS… BEST OF 2011 SO FAR

In no particular order here are some our favourite albums we’ve heard so far in 2011

  • J. Mascis | Several Shades of Why

  • Bon Iver | Bon Iver

  • Yuck | Yuck

  • John Maus | We Must Become The Pitiless Censors Of Ourselves

  • Robag Wruhme | Thora Vukk

  • Eleanor Friedberger | Last Summer

  • Gillian Welch | The Harrow & The Harvest

  • Pure X | Pleasure

  • The Horrors | Skying

  • Mogwai | Hardcore Will Never Die But You Will

  • Those Darlins | Screws Get Loose

  • Low | C’mon

  • Fleet Foxes | Helplessness Blues

  • Bill Callahan | Apocalypse

  • Cut Off Your Hands | Hollow

  • Destroyer | Kaputt

  • The Felice Brothers | Celebration, Florida

  • Iron & Wine | Kiss Each Other Clean

  • The Low Anthem | Smart Flesh

  • James Blake | James Blake

  • Neil Young | A Treasure

  • PJ Harvey | Let England Shake

LIVE REVIEW: Big Day Out 2011, Sydney Showground 26/01/11

written by Chris Familton

As with last year’s Big Day Out the weather gods decided to test the endurance of the masses with another hot and sweaty day in the concrete sauna of the Sydney Showground. The event that is as much a rite of passage for teenagers as a music festival had this year gone with somewhat of a best-of lineup that glanced back at some of the festival’s more memorable acts like The Stooges, Tool, Rammstein and Aussie perennials like John Butler.

Naked and Famous are Kiwi kids making waves and they had the opening honours up in the smaller dual stage area. On the surface they are another electro-tinged pop group but beneath the shine they clearly also draw influence from less mainstream acts like My Bloody Valentine and New Order and they started the day off with a strong, well received set.

Down in the main arena The Vines were kicking things off and sounded remarkably together for a band that is notorious for erraticism, mostly from frontman Craig Nicholls. New songs showed he still has that magic touch with melodies as well as the bratty punk side that came out in the guitar smashing conclusion. The hits like Get Free all got aired and the first mass sing-a-long of the day came with their cover of Outkast’s Ms Jackson which suited the summer vibe perfectly.

Newer kids of grunge – Children Collide – did their best to whip up a storm of distortion and they certainly had the front rows bouncing along but they quickly showed the limitations of their form when Jim Jones Revue followed them with one of the highlight performances of the festival. Jones is a testifying frontman in the vein of Cave and Jagger and his dedication to the cause in a three piece suit was something to be admired. The band looked like South London thugs, po-faced and gritty while Jones sweated and hollered out blues-drenched exhortations of love, sex and revenge.

Rock of the hard kind was also echoing around back at the main stages with AC/DC replicants Airbourne taking things back to the solid and simple school. It was all about sex, rock n roll and highways as they chugged along in front of a wall of Marshall stacks. Joel O’Keeffe did his usual scaffolding climb, this time all the more spectacular with the sheer height of the climb and a guitar hanging from him.

Washington predictably drew a large crowd following on from her massive success in 2010 and she worked the outdoor vibe well for the Triple J demographic For those who found her pop songs a tad uninspiring there was always CSS over at the Boiler Room; whipping up a humid frenzy with their electronic funk and the relentless work from singer Lovefoxxx.

The Boiler Room soon became a chance to get out of the sun but not the heat, especially with the arrival of Die Antwoord, a band that probably puts more effort into their style and performance than they do their music – think Prodigy for a new generation. The buff boys and denim cutoff/bikini brigade loved them and there was no denying the fun aspect of what they do. Another pint-sized frontwoman followed when Crystal Castles brought industrial screes of digital noise to the room. The initial impact of their coruscating sound wore off quickly on some punters, especially with Alice Glass restricted to crutches after breaking her ankle in Japan.

Of the Boiler Room acts, the one that seemed to best master the human/machine connection in their music was LCD Soundsystem. Drunk Girls in some ways typified the day and when the whole room sang along to the line ‘where are my friends tonight’ during All My Friends you knew that many were actually asking that question in the haze of the festival.

The inclusion of the Annandale Stage provided the opportunity for a couple of much loved Sydney bands to return to the Big Day Out. 90s indie popsters Knievel showed they still know their way around a light and artful melody with a few new songs. The same stage was also graced by the 30 year old Hard-ons who sounded like a tornado touching down as they sped through a set of characteristic thrashing punk pop. Rounding out the resurrected locals was Smudge who played to a pitifully small crowd including a few who chose their set to have a quick nap. Regardless, the band seemed to enjoy themselves, playing classics like Outdoor Type to the rewarded few.

Also playing to a small crowd at the seemingly always sparse Hot Produce stage were The Greenhornes who impressed many when they played the BDO in the early 2000s. Featuring the rhythm section from The Raconteurs they didn’t let a dead keyboard deter them as they cranked out  their bluesy garage rock with ease and a precision unmatched at the festival.

As the evening descended the big names took to the main stages. John Butler capitalised on a busy and successful 2010 with a set that showed the full extent of his musical abilities – from folk to funk to roots and rock he was a perfect choice to farewell the sun before bands more akin to the darkside appeared.

Iggy Pop has been doing the same show for decades now but for first timers it must always surely be a thrill to see an aging legend of punk rock still giving his all. With James Williamson back on guitar they felt like a tighter and more adventurous band and songs like Raw Power and Kill City’s Beyond The Law provided a more diverse setlist this time. The obligatory stage invasion is a tad contrived when you know it happens every show and it backfired when some of the fans were manhandled from the stage once the song was over. Iggy though was in fine form, giving the crowd a taste of why he is so special.

In stark contrast to The Stooges’ down to earth rock, Rammstein used every trick in the stadium/rock opera book – employing fireworks, breathing fire, treadmills and make-up in their set. They really were ridiculous though hilarious and highly entertaining and probably a necessary injection of drama to the festival. Tool followed and they too were high on visual enhancements with massive screens overpowering any sense of a band playing live. Maynard James Keenan has always played in the shadows but his lack of interaction added to the distance between band and audience. While the bulk of their set explored their last album and its more wandering, prog sound they did remind us why they are one of the great art metal bands with a closing cluster of songs that included Forty Six & 2 and the crowning glory of AEnima.

Those that chose Grinderman over M.I.A. to round out their day were treated to a truly wired and unhinged Nick Cave. Flailing limbs, flying mic stands and ventures into the audience were all part of a brutally primal performance and now they have two albums to draw from and who they are they were simply astonishing. One of the definite highlights of what was another well organised and successful Big Day Out.

Check out some more photos from the day HERE

this review first appeared in Drum Media