Favourite Albums of 2015

DS FAVE ALBUMS 2015

Another year comes to a close and it’s time for the end-of-year lists to be revealed. Here at Doubtful Sounds we’ve had another 12 months deeply immersed in Americana music (alt. country & folk) so you’ll find plenty of albums from that genre on the list below. That’s not to say we didn’t listen to plenty of other styles of music. As usual we wrapped our ears around plenty of post-punk and indie rock with doses of jazz, electronic and psych rock. Read on to see what we rated as our favourite albums of 2015 and let us know what your top selections were.

a0486859370_101. James McMurtry – Complicated Game

McMurtry was a new discovery for me in 2015, despite Complicated Game being his tenth studio album. I was immediately floored by the storytelling, the vivid and heartbreaking prose that cut straight to the core of the story at hand and by using the fewest words possible he drew me into his characters, predicaments, heartache and troubled times. His closest contemporary is Willy Vlautin (Richmond Fontaine, The Delines) who he shares a fascination with the downtrodden and struggling. Complicated Game was the most consistent and exquisite example of songwriting, complete with restrained and emotive playing, that I heard in 2015.

timthumb3.php-52. Marlon Williams – Marlon Williams

“Though this solo debut has been a long time coming he has toured and built a strong reputation as a live performer across Australia and NZ and that experience has filtered through on this superb album that never falters or loses its sense of wonderment across thirty-five playing minutes.”

james_thomson_cold_moon-23. James Thomson – Cold Moon

“The balance and symmetry of Thomson’s writing is a standout facet of his music. From blues to country, folk to New Orleans flavours, through the positive vibe of love songs to the darker desolation of characters at the end of line he nails them all in mood and lyrical imagery”

courtneyb-560x5604. Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit

“Barnett often gets pegged as quirky yet her musical approach ticks most alt. rock and indie boxes. The joy and achievement of Sometimes I Sit and Think… is how she has married that with her inimitable knack for lyrics that will draw attention from even the most staunchest of listeners who would normally pay little attention to words. Like a more impressionistic pop-art take on the skilful writing of Mark Kozelek, Barnett is leading the way in literate songwriting without any hint of pretension.”

tah-cover-jpeg5. Lost Ragas – Trans Atlantic Highway

“That ability to hammer out a brisk honky tonk rhythm one minute and then craft a late night whisky-sodden ballad of heartache highlights the band’s magic. Combined with the way they apply tonality to their songs, both vocally and instrumentally, Lost Ragas have created an album of timeless quality, full of dark and graceful beauty.”

30f02ea86. The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion – Freedom Tower: No Wave Dance Party 2015

Spencer, Judah Bauer and Russell Simins get back to what they do best; incorporating no wave funk, rock ‘n’ roll, blues and garage rock into one hollering’ and testifyin’ primal groove soundtrack. This was a palette cleanser after all the generic psych rock and faux electro-soul that permeated the airwaves in 2015.

Dogs At Bay WEB7. Bad Dreems – Dogs At Bay

“This feels like an important album, a statement born of experience, countless hours spent in the practice room and driving to shows. It rocks in a primitive fashion and it takes up residency in your short term memory. It sounds like the country and people that it chronicles and it never loses sight of the power of simplicity in rock n roll.”

Gold Class-28. Gold Class – It’s You

“Gold Class wear their influences on their collective sleeve yet they’ve corralled them into their own sound. The sheets of guitar, cold rhythms and that dark poetic howl are a breath of fresh air on this highly accomplished and compelling debut album.”

protomartyr_the_agent_intellect_10159. Protomartyr – The Agent Intellect

“Primal rhythms with wire-brush screes of guitar and the distinctive disaffected howl and Mark E Smith-styled rant of frontman Joe Casey. The way they sonically blend beautiful and bruised sounds is what makes their music so appealing. It sparks and spits, Casey’s black humour lyrics are both catchy and provocative but above all, in 2015, Protomartyr are a breath of dissonant fresh air.”

10. Infinity Broke – Before Beforea4111469137_10

Though mostly born from the same sessions as last year’s River Mirrors album, these nine songs operate on a different plane. More concise and song-based, yet with a broad range of moods and levels of intensity, the quartet conjure up caustic distorted storms of guitar over measured rhythms.

11. Nadia Reid – Listen to Formation, Look For The Signs

12. Royal Headache – High

13. Houndmouth – Little Neon Limelight

14. Father John Misty- I Love You, Honeybear

15. Blank Realm – Illegals In Heaven

16. Tami Neilson – Don’t Be Afraid

17. Kurt Vile – B’lieve I’m Goin Down

18. Sleater-Kinney – No Cities To Love

19. Destroyer – Poison Season

20. Twerps – Range Anxiety

21. Ryan Bingham – Fear And Saturday Night

22. Lindi Ortega – Faded Gloryville

23. SJD – Saint John Divine

24. Faith No More  – Sol Invictus

25. Bob Dylan – Shadows In The Night

26. Pokey LaFarge – Something In The Water

27. The Holy Soul – Fortean Times

28. The Phoenix Foundation – Give Up Your Dreams

29. Ryley Walker – Primrose Green

30. Perry Keyes – Sunnyholt

31. Tame Impala – Currents

32. Raised By Eagles – Diamonds In The Bloodstream

33. Lucero – All A Man Should Do

34. Jason Isbell – Something More Than Free

35. Sam Hunt with David Kilgour & The Heavy 8s – The 9th

36. Bill Ryder-Jones – West Kirby County Primary

37. Neil Young + Promise Of The Real – The Monsanto Years

38. John Moreland – High On Tulsa Heat

39. Kamasi Washington – The Epic

40. Beach House – Depression Cherry

41. Sleaford Mods – Key Markets

42. Dan Kelly – Leisure Panic

43. Moon Duo – Shadow Of The Sun

44. Ruby Boots – Solitude

45. Mark Lucas – Little Town Blues

46. Malcolm Holcombe – RCA Sessions

47. Django Django – Born Under Saturn

48. Jamie XX – In Colour

49. Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly

50. Chastity Belt – Time To Go Home

 

REISSUES/LIVE/BEST-OF

  •  Bob Dylan – The Cutting Edge 1965 – 1966 The Bootleg Series Vol. 12
  • The Velvet Underground – The Complete Matrix Tapes
  • Drive-By Truckers – It’s Great to Be Alive!
  • The Jean-Paul Sartre Experience – I Like Rain: The Story of the Jean-Paul Sartre Experience
  • John Prine – September 78
  • Mogwai – Central Belters
  • The Rolling Stones – Sticky Fingers
  • Ryan Adams – Live at Carnegie Hall
  • Sly and The Family Stone – Live at the Fillmore East: October 4th & 5th, 1968
  • Townes Van Zandt – The Nashville Sessions
  • Various – Ain’t Gonna Hush: The Queens of Rhythm & Blues
  • Various – In a Moment: Ghost Box
  • Various – Ork Records: New York, New York
  • Various – Punk 45: Extermination Nights in the Sixth City – Cleveland, Ohio: Punk and the Decline of the Mid-West 1975-1982
  • Various – Remembering Mountains: Unheard Songs By Karen Dalton
  • Various – Buried Country 1.5: The Story of Aboriginal Country Music

ALBUM REVIEW: Bad Dreems – Dogs At Bay

Rating8.5Dogs At Bay WEBIt’s been a slow-build for the Adelaide quartet since they first emerged with the near perfect jangle pop of single Chills in 2012. After the Badlands EP of the following year it was assumed a debut album was imminent yet what followed was a two year wait punctuated by a slow drip feed of sublime singles. Now the highly anticipated full length has finally arrived and it’s all the better for its long gestation. The rawness has been matched by brawn and polished production that enhances the band’s characteristics rather than muting their personality and rough edges.

You can hear the ghosts of melodic rock music coursing through the dozen songs on Dogs At Bay. From The Smiths to Nirvana, The Stooges to The Bats, The Pretenders to The Angels, they cover many bases yet the common thread is the interplay between the chiming, sparkling and riffing melancholic guitar of Alex Cameron, the rhythm section that can switch from primal thunder to post punk angles in a heartbeat and the untethered larrikin howl of a voice that barks, screams and sometimes croons forth from singer Ben Marwe’s lungs. Producer Mark Opitz (INXS, The Angels) has harnessed all these elements and beefed up the sonic qualities considerably from their earlier recordings. It was a gamble of sorts to recruit one of the recording architects of 80s Oz rock, his signature is all over the album, but it works exceptionally well. The songs often sound like lost gems from another time while remaining current with their themes of small towns, disaffected youth and the navigation of today’s cultural landscape.

It must have been hard for the band to pick singles, pretty much any of the twelve tracks would get the nod. ’Bogan Pride’ bristles with an uninhibited urgency and the attention grabbling lyric ‘Big muscles pumping out of my sweatshirt, big muscles pumping in my dreams’. ‘My Only Friend’ counters that with its swaying tale of personal nostalgia while ‘Hiding To Nothing’ hits like an anthem for lost kids facing adulthood.

This feels like an important album, a statement born of experience, countless hours spent in the practice room and driving to shows. It rocks in a primitive fashion and it takes up residency in your short term memory. It sounds like the country and people that it chronicles and it never loses sight of the power of simplicity in rock n roll.

Chris Familton

http://rd.io/x/QUN9AiIFgxE/

NEW MUSIC: Bad Dreems | Caroline

baddreems

We’ve been talking up Bad Dreems since they first emerged and they’ve just posted a stream of their forthcoming single Caroline which is due out April 6th and is the first taste of their new EP which will be out soon. Caroline sees them hitting The Soft Pack meets Nirvana territory with a tumbling rhythm section and vocals that shift gears from ambling to shredding and back again in a nanosecond before loving and leaving you just as they hit their stride. Put it on repeat and let it sink deep…

SONIC KICKS | BAD DREEMS

DS Featured Imageskbaddreems

Bad Dreems are one of the essential bands emerging out of the growing Adelaide scene with their lo-fi, melody-rich guitar songs. 2012 was a big year that saw them release the brilliant single Chills and before dropping Tomorrow Mountain with its darker and moodier undercurrent and the infectiously melancholic Too Old. We caught up with guitarist Alex Cameron to find out some of the albums that shaped his musical life so far.

 

The first album I bought – Nirvana | From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah

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The cool high school kids were either into Guns ‘N Roses or Nirvana. I took a punt and bought this because the ones that were into Nirvana seemed cooler. It was a good punt I guess. This is still my favourite Nirvana album. A lot of their studio recordings don’t really float my boat. I prefer the US punk bands that preceded them like Black Flag, The Minutemen and other SST bands, The Replacements and Husker Du.

 

The album that soundtracked a relationship – Bob Dylan | Blood On The Tracks

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If ever I feel down about this type of thing I always listen to this album. It has a song for every sort of broken heart. I think it is the Dylan album that offers the best glimpse behind the shades. Hard to pick favourites but I love Shelter From the Storm, If You See Her Say Hello and Idiot Wind – “You’re an idiot babe, it’s a wonder that you still know how to breathe”

 

The album that inspired me to form a band – Scott and Charlene’s Wedding | Para Vista Social Club 

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I moved back to Adelaide from Melbourne after 7 years. All my old friends had gone and I spent a long summer working in a hospital in an outer suburb, on the way to Snowtown. Sort of near Para Vista actually. I bought this album and listened to it ever morning and night on the drive there and back. It’s honest and unpretentious but really powerful songwriting and anyone that’s lived in Melbourne with little money and big hopes can relate to the subject matter. It reminded me of what I really liked about music so I found some new friends and we started a band. We did our first recordings with Jack Farley who recorded Para Vista Social Club along with heaps of amazing records out of Melbourne over the past few years. He’s best pals with Craig Dermody and they used to live in his warehouse together. Jack has big hands and a big heart.

 

The album that reminds you of my high school years – Patti Smith | Horses

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I was lucky to inherit my parents’ record collection as I got more and more into music. It got me into stuff like MC5, The Rolling Stones, Roxy Music and Tom Waits – and so all this music still reminds me of that time. The album that I probably played the most was Horses – I couldn’t believe that my dad was ever into anything so cool!

 

The album I’d love to hear live and played in full – Sea Scouts | Beacon of Hope

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I love the aura that surrounds this band. Despite their relative obscurity, everyone who knows them holds them in such high regard. Bird Blobs were also great, as well as Degreaser. As much as I would have liked to watch Sea Scouts I’m sure that the legacy is best kept alive by the recordings and grainy super 8 footage. My friend Darren Cross toured with Sea Scouts and he has awesome stories about Tim Evans’ homemade guitar and the amps that he made out of cardboard boxes to take on tour.

 

My favourite album cover art – Roxy Music | Country Life

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Another album from my parents’ collection. This appealed to me as a 15 year old (and still does) for obvious reasons.

 

My guilty pleasure album – Bruce Springsteen | Born To Run

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The screen door slams, Mary’s dress waves, the magic rat, wrap your legs round these velvet rims, a real death waltz, show a little faith there’s magic in the night. It’s a town full of losers and i’m pulling out of here to win. THE BOSS!!

 

An album I loved but now have no idea why I bought it – Dylan & The Dead

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For completists only.

 

The last album I bought – Blank Realm | Go Easy – Woollen Kits | Four GirlsThe Mark of Cain | Songs of the Third and Fifth

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There is so much good music being put out on Australian independent labels like RIP Society, Bedroom Suck, Negative Guestlist and Chapter. Blank Realm’s album is awesome psych-pop with Berlin-era Bowie, Flying Nun and Fleetwood Mac influences. Woollen Kits write amazing garage guitar pop songs. I saw them supporting Home Blitz last year in Melbourne and they stole the show. The Mark of Cain are our heroes from Adelaide. Their new album is awesome. Mathematical outsider rage.