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

ALBUM REVIEW: Those Darlins | Screws Get Loose

written by Chris Familton

Recent visitors to these shores, Those Darlins impressed with their loose and rollicking live shows and they’ve followed it up with a great sophomore album in Screws Get Loose. This time round they’ve found a better balance between tongue in cheek lyrics, rocking guitars and their blend of garage rock and country music – barn rock?

The album opens with two downright brilliant songs in the title track and Be Your Bro. The former has a head bopping feel until the harmonies hit in the chorus and it soars into one of those classic songs you’ve never heard. It even includes a delightfully wonky guitar solo that sounds like its designed to intentionally sabotage the sweet melodies but instead it enhances them even more.  Be Your Bro is a great example of the band’s irreverent side with lines like “I just wanna run and play in the dirt with you but you just wanna stick it in” in the tangled tale of lusting after friends.

If you are looking for touchstones then you can’t go past Black Lips, The Primitives and Loretta Lynn. Their sound is certainly derivative but they do it so well, both lyrically and musically. They don’t restrict themselves to churning out short blasts of garage rock either. When they tear through two and half minutes of Hives and then take a left turn into droning psychedelia with Mystic Mind it is infectious and explorative stuff and it shows they aren’t one-trick ponies.

With a healthy fixation on the seedier side of relationships Those Darlins aren’t afraid to also sing a genuine love song in the form of the swooning and devotional Boy. Live they are a much messier and chaotic proposition so this album is the perfect medium to hear the songs and the great guitar playing that peppers an album that is catchy as hell and begs for repeated listens.

this review first appeared in Drum Media

LIVE REVIEW: Those Darlins @ Annandale Hotel, Sydney 16/12/10

written by Chris Familton

A virtually empty Annandale greeted Melbourne’s Puta Madre Brothers meaning the latecomers missed out on a pretty interesting and unique trio. All seated, all playing kick drums and cymbals and all playing guitars – the three military uniform clad musicians cut a striking image on stage and their music was a mad mix of rock n roll, mariachi and country stomp. There was comedy at work too which lent an air of novelty act to their set but not enough to detract from the rollicking music.

Jeff the brotherhood took the opportunity of a small crowd to tease us with threats that they would play a cerebral set rather than a heavy rock set and thankfully they settled for the latter once the punters shuffled forward to the stage. Dialing up a weird mix of stoner rock, indie pop and grunge they hit their guitar pedals and pummeled the drum skins with a mix of wild abandon and precision. The highlight of their all too brief set was Bone Jamm with its surf pop melodies and heady guitar rush and jangle.

Those Darlins cut a path that swings from country to garage rock and everywhere in between. The good news is that they didn’t settle too deeply into either extreme, instead mixing things up with femme strut and swagger and a healthy dose of part attitude. They swapped guitars and basses throughout the set while drummer Linwood Regensburg locked down the shuffling beats and between song banter and they showed they are a well drilled and tight band. The songs came thick and fast with solo and group vocals sounding like a cross between a country hay dance and the glam garage rock of The Runaways.

With a half full venue Those Darlins did a damn good job at getting the crowd involved and though their songs did blur together at times – not helped by a harsh and vocally quiet sound mix – they showed enough across their whole set to justify the buzz that surrounded them before their Australian tour. They finished their main set with a great cover of Johnny Kidd’s Shakin’ All Over which shifted the emphasis from Elvis innuendo to a more sultry, yet still rocking mood. It was a good example of how rock, punk and country can work together without conjuring up the dreaded crossover tag.

this review first appeared in Drum Media