While I was out of the country (or actually waiting at the airport) I saw an email with info about TERRY. I was salivating…Dick Diver, Total Control and UV Race members? So, excuse me if I’m a touch late, but this shit is rad. There’s a slightly surfy guitar chord being picked throughout, working against a more discordant compatriot guitar and vocal. There’s something about the attitude of the song, something saying I don’t give a shit, just going to non-chalatantly kick this song out…a rad touch. The band release their debut TERRY HQ on Upset the Rhythm on July 1st.
Year-end lists are everywhere…and I can see why they’re important to people. But, seeing as we generally walk off the beaten path more often than not, our list of the Top 50 Albums of 2015 is in no particular order, save alphabetically. It seems pointless to rank one piece of art higher than another, especially when the four of us at ATH all have varying tastes. We just put this list together of the albums we loved the most this year. Are we saying they’re better than records by Grimes or Kendrick Lamar? No, we’re just saying that these are the records we loved more than others. So, you can read on for what we thought was hot.
Also…put links to individual stores where you can buy the albums from the bands…as that’s how we all survive in this music world.
I feel like Trouble in Mind Records are trolling me lately, picking up on the talent of yet another Oceanic band, Salad Boys (after already working with Dick Diver). It’s actually a good thing, because there’s a lot going on overseas that deserves a wider audience. Take this first single from New Zealand’s Salad Boys, which has the band rocking some of the best bits of straight ahead rock n’ roll I’ve heard this year; there’s no prefab concept, it’s just strong songwriting. I particularly enjoy the way the guitar works its way right through the core of the song. It should make for a really interesting listen when the group releases Metalmania on September 18th via the TiM.
Some days you get to hit up a show, hope for huge attendance, and in the end, you’re just happy you got to be part of an intimate experience. While I wish many more people loved Dick Diver as much as I do, I was glad I got to witness the band’s first Austin gig, and can only hope that as they travel across the States that they’re convinced to come back.
Read on for a few short words and photos by B. Gray.
Are you a fan of great guitar pop? Fan of the ringing guitars coming from Australia? I know you are, which is all the reason you need to go to Mohawk tonight and check out Australia’s Dick Diver. They’ve long been part of our favorite Aussie label, Chapter Music, and recently caught on with Trouble in Mind Records here in the States…so if you’re one of those folks that assigns worth to labels, then you can’t get better than that. They’ll be touring behind the release of Melbourne, Florida, which is filled with excellent pop songs throughout, illustrating a huge step up in sound from Calendar Days. Also, they’ll be joined by Austin’s Jonly Bonly, who we’ve fawned over enough on these here pages.
It seems like the Melbourne, Australia scene is where its at these days. Dick Diver is just another band from that area carrying on the tradition of writing these incredible guitar pop tracks for the world to sink their teeth into. The opening minute of this track is instrumental, focusing on the band’s musicianship, getting that groove. They jump in soon afterwards with that swinging guitar style, a slight little bounce and the ever relaxed vocal delivery. I didn’t think I could get any more excited about Melbourne, Florida, but this new single has me ready for the LP already; look for it to come out March 10th via Chapter Music/Trouble In Mind.
Making our year-end list of Top Albums is never something we take lightly. We realize that it’s rather arbitrary in the grand scheme of things, but we realize that our role is to at least toss out our opinion, however meaningless it may be. In the long run, we had to take the tastes of several people, and whittle it into a list of 50 great albums that we think are vital to your listening experience. We know it’s a matter of personal tastes, but the records below are reflective of our tastes and our site, so don’t get mad, they’re just opinions. But, feel free to tell us where we went wrong, or what we might have missed. If you click on the album titles, you can also read our full reviews of each album, save the ones that we didn’t get to in time. Sorry we don’t like Kanye.
50 – Wampire – Curiosity
49 – Dot Dash – Half Remembered Dream
48 – Mantles – Long Enough to Leave
47 – The Appleseed Cast – Illumination Ritual
46 – Bad Sports – Bras
45 – Part Time – PDA
44 – Dick Diver – Calendar Days
43 – Math and Physics Club – Our Hearts Beat Loud
42 – Veronica Falls – Waiting for Something to Happen
41 – Eat Skull – III
40 – The Lonely Wild – The Sun as It Comes
39 – The Love Language – Ruby Red
38 – Gun Outfit – Hard Coming Down
37 – Cate Le Bon – Mug Museum
36 – Daughn Gibson – Me Moan
35 – Andre Obin – The Arsonist
34 – Arp – More
33 – Gap Dream – Shine Your Light
32 – The Black Watch – The End of When
31 – Ty Segall – Sleeper
30 – The Stevens – A History of Hygeine
29 – Of Montreal – Lousy with Sylvianbriar
28 – Mirror Travel – Mexico
27 – Local Natives – Hummingbird
26 – Girls Names – The New Life
25 – GRMLN – Empire
24 – Small Black – Limits of Desire
23 – Audacity – Butter Knife
22 – Mikal Cronin – MCII
21 – Chelsea Wolfe – Pain is Beauty
20 – Foals – Holy Fire
19 – Radical Face – Family Tree: The Branches
18 – Youth Lagoon – Wondrous Bughouse
17 – Terry Malts – Nobody Realizes This is Nowhere
16 – Shout Out Louds – Optica
15 – Kurt Vile – Waking on a Pretty Daze
14 – Braids – Flourish//Perish
13 – Crystal Antlers – Nothing is Real
12 – Typhoon – White Lighter
11 – Ski Lodge – Big Heart
Admittedly, this album makes nods to folk troubadours of Christmas’ past, but what grabbed me from the moment I heard this record was the sincerity in what’s being created. In leaving us with a stripped down listen of folk tunes and incredible poetry, we’re asked to look into the history of American songwriting tradition; it’s been awhile since it was executed so well.
9 – The Growlers – Hung at Heart
I’d put this album on any list for one song alone, “Someday.” But, it just so happens that the rest of the album maintains the sensation that’s established on the opening track. I’ve heard it referenced as a surf-psych opus, but what’s been assured in my mine is what an incredible listen we’re all be treating to when we put Hung at Heart on our record players.
Hether Fortune seems to scare people. Her work is in your face, never making an excuse for who she is or what she believes. That attitude carries on into her music, allowing listeners to experience a musical world void of any pretense. The songs on this album are angular, dark and abrasive; the vocals have Hether dominating the scene of modern lady rock warriors. If you don’t dig it, she doesn’t care, but I do because this record rules.
While many of the songs on this effort leaked out before under various EPs, the whole masterpiece exists in the way it was tied together as a complete work. It’s operatic and grand at every corner, but it’s also undeniably a pop record. The emphasis might revolve around the more artful spectrum of pop music, but this is an album you can play for everyone in your family, and they’ll all find themselves swept up in the wonderment of Privilege.
What else really needs to be said about The National. They consistently make great albums that are lauded then often overlooked, but we didn’t want to do that to one of our favorite acts. I mean, if they played 8 shows in 8 days, we’d be at every one, and the DJ set after party. Their accolades and recognition are warranted, and it’s especially clear on this, their latest release.
When listening to Pass the Ringo, I thought of one thing: this is the sort of record that makes a small label, like Loglady Records, a household name. It’s spun around garage rock and psych rock structures, whilst still maintaining an accessibility that few people working in that genre achieve. Some albums can play in the background of your house, and might be happy to do so, but Legs created something that made me stop and listen at every turn; I’m thankful for that.
Someone For You came our way in January. On my record player, it hasn’t left since. This is one of the most rewarding power-pop records I’ve gotten my hands on, and trust me, I’ve gotten my hands on a lot of great records. Each song is filled with innate hooks and garage rock grit, encouraging you to tap your toes for the entirety of the record. You’d think after a full year our interest would have waned, but with time we’ve only grown to appreciate the record even more.
At the moment, there’s not too many people releasing music that’s the quality of Mathew Cothran and Coma Cinema. There are elements of the bizarre, similar to the work of early Elf Power, yet there’s this intimacy that artists like Eliott Smith were able to create with their listeners. You wrap that up and put it in a package of pop sensibility, and you have an album that can’t be ignored.
In today’s musical climate, we buy into the fact that artists have to be doing something strange, or something that’s vastly different from their peers. But, in the grand scheme of things, we often forget what it’s like to take enjoyment out of the music. This album was one of the many reminders that music, when it’s good, can be quite special. Every song here is a single, and worth your time; it’s the best thing Laz has done, and I feel like he’s just really getting started.
This album is about Devon Welsh. From the first instant I heard his voice, it took hold of me. Throughout the year, Impersonator, consistently played on my radio. His voice was mesmerizing, captivating audiences on several occasions in Austin, convincing us to be as quiet as a mouse, so as to hear every note. The unique quality of the album will reward listeners for years to follow. It made us believe in great music again.
When you look at the history of modern music, it seems that the second album is always where bands make it or break it. You can either slide into oblivion with a mediocre effort, or you can establish yourself as a mainstay with a certified hit. Listening to Calendar Days, I think that Dick Diver is going the latter route, branching out from their already solid established sound into broader territory that’s supremely rewarding.
While their first album was filled with twinkling guitar pop, “Blue & That” opens the album with a different agenda. There’s not even a guitar on this track; you’ll find a synthesized drum track and horns. It’s a statement track, especially when considering it’s song placement. Dick Diver is growing up, and with that, their sound aims to progress as well. Still, the bright guitar pop isn’t gone completely, as you’ll notice in the following track, “Alice.” For me, the guitar sound reigns supreme on this number from the get go. It creates a swinging element that will have you smiling while you tap your toes.
It’s difficult to follow-up a statement track and a gem with another hit, but that’s just what happens on Calendar Days when the group hits their stride with the album’s title track. Steph Hughes takes center stage here, bringing in a more innocent vocal to the realm. Guitars twang and drums push the pace forward; I particularly like when the whole gang joins in to accompany Steph’s vocals. It all leads you up to what I think is the definitive track from Dick Diver, “Water Damage.” There’s a dueling guitar sound, stemming from some slide guitar and the group’s typical jangling bright guitar work. You throw that in with a trading back and forth between male and female vocal parts, and it’d be hard for anyone not to fall for this number. And, if you’re reading along, that’s 4 for 4; quite a feat.
There’s something about this album that allows you to really get lost in the music. “Two Year Lease” is one of the tunes that I’ve found myself gravitating towards as I’ve listened more and more. It’s probably the least musical track on the record, but I actually like that approach, as the trading vocal parts are really worthy of letting your heart (and ears) drift. But in just a few tracks, you’ll get one of the more upbeat tunes from the record by way of “Bondi 98.” It’s got a guitar that rings brightly and the vocal delivery adds a purity to the guitar pop the band have created this go round. It’s a casual jam, but in that casual cool sort of way that we’ve all come to find endearing. These are just a few more of the great songs that fill up this entire record.
Sure, some might say that Calendar Days is a touch to unfocused, but I think that would be an unfair assertion. Yes, the band are trying some new things out, and some new styles, but in doing so, they’re successful, which leaves the door wide open for future songwriting. It’s clear after spending days with this album that Dick Diver can write great songs, so only time will tell just how far they will go. One thing’s for sure, no matter what formula they choose to pursue (or all of the above), it’s going to be a joyous listen.
Long have we supported the good folks over at Chapter Music in Australia, who brought us the great music of Twerps and The Crayon Fields. One of their lesser-known acts has really been making huge leaps and bounds, as far as popularity goes: Dick Diver. The group is about to release their new record Calendar Days from the label in March, and we’ve got one of those new tracks for you. I dig the brightness of the twanging guitar, accompanied by spoken word interplay between the male and female vocalists. It’s a casual track, reminiscent of the relaxed pop gems from other great bands in the label’s stable. Always happy to hear anything from the CM; it’s never going to let us down.
Well well well, it’s more great news from the great folks over at Chapter Music. They’ve just announced they’ll be releasing the next great Dick Diver record sometime next year, with a teaser EP coming out next week featuring this track below. I can’t say enough about Dick Diver; their songs always sneak their way into my head at the best times, creating a stupid grin that can’t be wiped off my face. If you’re new to the band, which is okay, please check out their release, New Start Again, just as a sample of the great things about to come your way.