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!

 

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Fazerdaze Signs with Flying Nun Records

Flying Nun Records continues their run of really great female-fronted guitar pop this year by signing Fazerdaze for the release of her debut Morningside. Honestly, this might be the best thing they’ve got on the books this year (that includes new music from The Bats and The Courtneys). This single coming with the announcement has a rather dreamy quality to it, especially in the way that there’s a coat on the vocals. But, in the music, you can hear the guitar being strummed way up in the mix, which adds a great balance to the track. This definitely sounds like something we’ll all agree is great…look for it on May 5th, just in time to help craft a great summer playlist.

More New Music from The Courtneys

Looks like Flying Nun is going to be on a run this year, bringing new music from The Bats…and this much anticipated album from The Courtneys. From the sound of it, The Courtneys II is going to be filled with dreamy harmonies and classic guitar pop sounds; I haven’t heard a song on the album I don’t like yet. This one stays in one place for most of the track, using ringing guitars to create a bit of distorted melody, while the anthemic style of vocals gives hope to us all that we, too, can be huge rock stars! Look for the record on February 17th.

Start Your Day Off with The Bats

batsFriday’s got some great tunes for you, including this new one from legendary Flying Nun act, The Bats. Apparently the band are prepping a brand new record for 2017, and your first listen should be one that puts the LP high on your anticipation list…it is for me. Their style has this playful guitar ring to it, with the slightest hint of a bounce in there. While the majority of this track has a deepened tone, but I love the turn at the 3 minute mark where they get drawn out with the phrase “don’t want to fall on the antlers.” This is lovely, and the perfect way to begin a Friday.

Ghost Wave Brings You a Light Psychedelic Jam

11146495_10153285912809496_8047713030380912306_nGhost Wave are a two piece out of Auckland who are making psych rock that will have you jamming hard. They released this track, “All U Do is Kill” a short while back, but we somehow missed it, so it’s pertinent that I share it with you. I’m loving the way this track unwinds as it goes, with psych synths streaming in and out of the mix while the vocals are fuzzy and falsetto, adding a breezy feel to the otherwise grungey and gritty funk-rock. Take a listen and watch out for the impending music video for this song, which should be out sometime soon.

New Music from Tiny Ruins

tinyruinIf you’re looking for a lady with some pipes, you need look no more.  Hollie Fullbrook has a set of pipes that’s going to win your heart, and it makes listening to her project Tiny Ruins something quite special. The band is fleshed out with a bass and a drum, but for all intents and purposes, the show is stolen completely by Fullbrook’s voice and her gentle strumming.  You need to sit back and let this song wash over you; you’ll be grateful that you did.  The band’s new record, Brightly Painted One, will be out on May 13th via the heralded Flying Nun Records.

New Indie Pop from the Bats

New Zealand has long been home to some of the greatest pop music created, and The Bats have been around for a great bit of that, with their career coming up close on 30 years of brilliant LPs, EPs and singles.  Now, the band is soon to release Free All the Monsters, which you can find on Flying Nun Records. On the title track you’ll find bright guitars, and even a little male/female vocal performance; it’s a simple study in basic indie pop–the kind those who hold this genre dearly will be sure to enjoy.  Give this track and the record a go, if you know what’s good for you.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/03-Free-All-The-Monsters-Album-Version.mp3]

Download: The Bats – Free All the Monsters [MP3]

Surfer Blood – Astrocoast

surfer blood

Rating: ★★★★½

Over the last year, people have been suggesting that Surfer Blood might be the biggest band we hadn’t come across, leaving the band in the spot for breakthrough artist of 2010.  On Astrocoast, they live up to the hype, and in most cases, they far surpass what expectations we all had, creating one of the most colorful, yet playful, debuts we’ve come across in quite some time.

One would be hard pressed to pigeonhole this band at all, as they seemingly bounce from one spot to another throughout this 10 song debut.  For this listener, it sounds as if someone is channeling a Floridian soulmate of James Mercer of Shins fame.  There is something in the pitch in songs like “Floating Vibes” or especially in “Twin Peaks.” It’s not just the delivery of the lyrics, or the way the melody is approached, but it really feels as if the spirit of Mercer lies in there somewhere. “Twin Peaks,” by the way, is one ridiculously good song; you can listen to it on repeat, as I did, and never grow tired of it.

“Swim,” the album’s second track is such a bright moment that you can’t help but be won over by the fervent approach to bringing about swelling guitar waves and vocals that seem to echo through the room of your favorite local venue.  It’s this feeling of rawness that doesn’t seem forced, or steeped in some historical infatuation with bands of days gone by, though undoubtedly it does come from such moments.

“Take It Easy” comes like a close cousin to many of the songs of New York new wonders The Drums. Both bands have a club appeal that still seems rooted in the hallowed grounds of surf rock.  Like those New Yorkers, there is a certain vibrance to the writing itself, which moves it beyond pastiche, bringing a refreshing approach.  At this point, three songs in, the band should have completely won you over.

Near the end of the record, the boys slow it town just a hint, but the jangling of their guitars brings to mind a great deal of the work that came out of the Flying Nun label of New Zealand.  Perhaps the band is unaware of this, but that’s a sure-fire way to get straight into my heart, which allows me to look beyond the fact that the two 6 minute jams at the end, “Slow Jabroni” and “Anchorage” lag a little bit as far as pace goes.  Using time, these songs unfold into powerful pieces all their own.

All in all, this a sparkling debut from a band we know little about.  It’s full of playful tunes, whimsical lyrics, and load upon load of melodic hooks driving straight for your ears, and your heart. It’s refreshing to hear such a solid album arise beyond the hype, and fulfill on all the promise, which is precisely what Astrocoast does.  Based on this, Surfer Blood surely will be the breakout band we all heard they would be, and its deservedly so.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/02-Swim.mp3]

Download: Surfer Blood – Swim [MP3]