LIST: DS Top Albums of 2012


2012 felt like somewhat of a mixed bag of musical lollies with our favourites encompassing americana, power pop, 80s synth, indie and many shades of psychedelia. The only thing that tied them all together was the strong streak of melody that each was built on. Even in the case of someone like Neil Young & Crazy Horse it was Young’s incredible weaving of musical notes on Old Black that made that record such a delight. Hopefully there will be a few surprises scattered across our list which will send you down another musical rabbit hole to find out if we are onto something… Hopefully we are.




square-600-11Charlie Horse – I Hope I’m Not A Monster

square-600-16Deep Sea Arcade – Outlands

LOWER PLENTYLower Plenty – Hard Rubbish

square-600-15Dinosaur Jr – I Bet On Sky

square-600-13Lee Ranaldo – Between The Times & The Tides

UnknownNeil Young & Crazy Horse – Psychedelic Pill

square-600-17Lawrence Arabia – The Sparrow

square-600Lambchop – Mr. M

square-600-14Suzy Connolly – Night Larks

square-600-12Father John Misty – Dear Fun

LIVE REVIEW: Iowa @ Fbi Social, Kings Cross Hotel, Sydney (16/08/12)


Iowa : photo by Chris Familton

by C. Familton

Narrow Lands were the first of the four guitar-heavy bands to grace the stage and they impressed with their aggressive, controlled playing that inhabits the dark and heavy end of post-rock. The bass-led Waste of Weekend in particular balanced groove and dissonance to great effect.

Narrow Lands : photo by Chris Familton

Lyyar also deal in grand guitar dynamics but theirs was a much more nuanced and textured approach. Quiet/loud dynamics were prevalent in many of their songs which have a way of shifting seamlessly from intimate to widescreen without feeling contrived like some other bands writing similar music. The other plus with Lyyar is that they are an interesting band to watch with each member inhabiting their own physical space differently, be it the guitarist’s loose limbed movement, the emphatic style of the drummer or the bassist’s focused demeanour.

Sounds Like Sunset : photo by Chris Familton

Sounds Like Sunset,the comparative veterans in the line-up, displayed a laid back approach and casual performance akin to playing in a lounge room. That being said they reminded the audience of their brilliant knack at nailing a dreamy, jangling psychedelic vibe without the shoegaze pretensions or twee pop tropes that too often creep into similar acts. Playing as a trio the band was kept in check by the great drumming of Tobey Doctor allowing David Challinor’s guitar free melodic rein across the top of the rhythm section. Word is the band are about to mix their new album which is great news.

Melbourne’s Iowa are celebrating their recently released album Never Saw It Coming on this tour and experiencing many of the album tracks live further enhanced the impression that these guys are one of the best new rock bands to recently emerge. Playing as a trio they had a wonderful symmetry to their performance with the drums, guitar and bass taking equal and loud prominence in the mix. The most obvious comparison is Dinosaur Jr who the trio acknowledge as a major influence but they also blend in heavy dollops of visceral shoegaze and slacker 90s rock. Same Solution and the singles Complete Control and Love Song were particular standouts with Dylan Stewart’s wounded Mascis vocals and gloriously ramshackle guitar playing the icing on the cake. It was a small audience that bore witness to Iowa’s brief but excellent set so hopefully word of mouth will ensure they can brutally caress more ears next time they visit Sydney.

Iowa : photo by Chris Familton

this review was first published in Drum Media

SONIC KICKS | Albums That Shaped Me…

In this first instalment of SONIC KICKS, Iowa’s Dylan Stewart takes us through some of the albums that shaped him.
The first album I bought was...
Chuck Berry – Greatest HitsIt was the cassette version with an orange cover.  I played the heck out of this!  Classic tunes with great blues solos.
The album that soundtracked a relationship was...
 Doves – Lost SoulsSuch an amazing record that feels like a soundtrack to your life.  Very dreamy and atmospheric!

The album that inspired me to form a band was...

Dinosaur Jr – Where You BeenWhen I heard the opening guitar chords of Out There I was hooked! For life!  Although I now think that Bug is my favourite, this record still has one great tune after another!  A classic!

The album that reminds me of my high school years is...

Beastie Boys – Ill CommunicationI loved this album and Check Your Head.  I was a try hard skater in my teens that could never skate but this record soundtracked that whole period in my life.
The album I'd love to hear played in full live is...
Iggy & the Stooges – Raw PowerI was actually lucky enough to see them play this record at ATP in New York a few years back.  It goes down as one of the best gigs I’ve ever witnessed!

My favourite album cover art is...

My Bloody Valentine – LovelessNot only does this cover look cool and psychedelic with its pink hazy guitar image, the guitar is actually a Fender Jazzmaster which is one my favourite guitars. When I lived in London a few years back, I worked at a music store in Denmark street and was lucky enough to help Kevin Shields pick out a couple of vintage Jazzmasters that he was planning to play for their reunion shows. Their show at the Roundhouse a few weeks later was absolutely mind blowing too! I think my ears are still ringing!

My guilty pleasure album is...
Wings – Venus & MarsI still think this album is a good listen when I’m in the right mood but I don’t usually talk about it in interviews. I grew up with my brother playing this record and it just rubbed off on me.  
An album I loved but now have no idea why I bought it.

Hits of 1988 – I don’t want to talk about it!
The last album I bought was...

Bob Dylan – Live at Brandeis University 1963This is a brilliant recording.  It was only recently discovered in 2009 and is a live concert of Dylan when he was hardly known. His second album was about to come out so he plays a great list of tunes.
Iowa’s excellent debut album Never Saw It Coming is out now and available from Bandcamp and all good record stores.

WATCH: Iowa | Love Song

Melbourne’s Iowa have released a new video for Love Song, taken from their most excellent debut album Never Saw It Coming. The trio are also heading out on a run of East Coast Australian dates next month.

Tour Dates:

Thu Aug 16th – Sydney FBI Social (with Sounds Like Sunset, Narrow Lands & Lyyar)
Fri Aug 17th – Brisbane X&Y Bar (with Tape / Off & Guests)
Sat Aug 18th – Brisbane Tyms Guitars Instore — Afternoon show
Sat Aug 18th – Brisbane Sonic Masala Presents — The Waiting Room (with Seaplane, Crass Creatures, El Motel)
Fri Aug 31st – Melbourne Gasometer (with Bearhug)

ALBUM REVIEW: Iowa | Never Saw It Coming

by Chris Familton

The boom in popularity of psych rock from Tame Impala to Wooden Shjips has well and truly filtered down to the emergence of new local acts like The Laurels and Melbourne’s Iowa. For a genre so firmly rooted in guitars and hypnotic rhythm sections there are surprisingly few bands who can take that simplistic template and create something unique and impressive from it. Iowa prove with their debut album that they know exactly what they are doing, from their destructive edges to the calm of the eye of the storm.

The touchstones for Iowa are generally of the American variety. From an overwhelming Dinosaur Jr feel that permeates the entire record there are also tips of the hat to Husker Du and Englishmen like Swervedriver and Ride. From the brilliant opening double shot of Complete Control and the turbo riffage of Panic Attack it is clear that the trio likes nothing more than mixing sweet melodies in a bath of distortion, an approach that builds textural depth into their songs. The drums are tight yet relaxed, the guitars chop and churn with just the right amount of jangle and crunch while the bass playing of  Jordan Barczak rolls and weaves with that melodic curiosity essential to all trios.

Vocally it is hard to discern the words and meaning from most of the songs but in the context of this type of music it is that wasted drawl and tone of Dylan Stewart’s voice that is the most important aspect. He can sound like a somnambulistic Lanegan on Good Advice and then hit sweet higher notes on Same Solution, reminiscent of a band like 78 Saab. What makes Iowa’s debut such a visceral and engaging experience is its sonic qualities. Even at a low volume the songs claw their way out of the speakers with a collision of anxiety-fueled urgency and laconic restlessness. Never Saw It Coming grabs you and never lets go.

 this review was first published in Drum Media

NEWS: Iowa release new single Panic Attack…

Iowa continue their stellar string of single releases with Panic Attack, another dose of crestfallen vocals over churn and chime Mascis guitar squalls. They have a highly anticipated debut album Never Saw it Coming slated for release in April via Aerial Mines Records. Panic Attack and b-side Same Solution will be available to download from February 20th but you can stream it over and over again right now…

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