Nathan’s Favorite Oceanic Albums of 2017
For the 8 or so people who read this blog on the regular, you’ll likely be aware of my affection for all things Oceanic, primarily New Zealand and Australia. So, with year end lists in mind, I thought I’d offer up my personal takes on the best tunes to come out of the area in 2017. There’s no particular order, just my sixteen favorites of the year.
There’s even a fun little playlist at the bottom for you to enjoy!
The Stevens – Good (Chapter Music) – You might not find a better opening track than “Chancer” on any album this year. It sets the tone for an album that improves upon the band’s highly regarded A History of Hygiene.
Last Leaves – Other Towns Than Ours (Lost & Lonesome/Matinee Recordings) – Really, all you need to know is that this band features 3/4 of the Lucksmith’s…a guaranteed winner in my book before I had even given it al listen. Luckily, it fulfills expectations on every turn.
The Ocean Party – Beauty Point (Spunk/Emotional Response) – The prolific group have a handful of songwriters in the group, and they all take a stab at crafting hits for the group, leaving listeners with a collection of Australia’s most diverse pop songs.
Alex Lahey – I Love You Like a Brother (Dead Oceans) – Looks like Dead Oceans is raiding Australia for their pop gems; this is the sugary, hook-laden record that was hinted at with B Grade University. Every track gives back, and you’ll want to sing along until you’ve got no voice left.
Milk Teddy – Time Catches Up With Milk Teddy (Lost & Lonesome) – As far as Aussie band’s go, this might be one of the most overlooked acts that won me over last year. Lives somewhere between all the melding genres of the region, with “Sweet Bells Jangled” remaining one of my favorite tunes of the year.
School Damage – s/t (Chapter Music) – Thirteen songs of energetic art-pop. Leans towards the punk realm, with the wonky synth work building infectiousness into the record. Be sure to jam the track “The Bus That Couldn’t Slow Down.”
Fazerdaze – Morningside (Flying Nun Records) – Admittedly, this list is weighed heavily by Aussie acts, but this record might just be the LP that I come back to the most often. Amelia Murray knocked it out of the park with her debut on this one.
RVG – A Quality of Mercy (Our Golden Friend) For all of the Go-Betweens imitators that exist, this group seems to come closest, though it also seems to be spun through the lens of Talking Heads and social awareness.
Bed Wettin Bad Boys – Rot (RIP Society/What’s Your Rupture) – Energetic rock n’ roll of the straight-forward sort. Good songs for every day listening. Rewards your ears again and again, as one would expect from a band with ties to Royal Headache.
Tam Vantage – Show Me to the Sun – (self-released) The former Pop Singles member continues his solo endeavors by delivering his most complete work to date. A range of emotions crosses the album, from solemn numbers like “Grey Skies” to the hope of promise in “Song from a Black Hole.”
Kane Strang – Two Hearts and No Brain (Dead Oceans) – This album is undefinable. Every song offers a different vibe, enjoyable form start to finish. Bits of Weezer and Pinback, crafted in a fashion that seems purely Oceanic at heart.
Girlatones – Fitting in Well (self-released) – This record is one of those albums built for longevity, and long car rides. Jesse somehow manages to bring in classic rock n’ roll sounds from the 50s into a modern era through a DIY aesthetic.
Beaches – Second of Spring (Chapter Music) – This is the heaviest record on the list, and undoubtedly the longest. You need endurance on this epic listen, but with such, you’ll find a fuzzed out psychedelic trip that makes this an instant Aussie classic.
Small World Experience – Soft Knocks (Tenth Court) – An affinity for lo-fi aesthetics is only meaningful if you’ve got the songs to execute, and SWE definitely has the songs. Felt like of all the albums on this list, this one has the feeling of that secret record you want to keep all to yourself.