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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Brand New Track from The Stevens

People have been listing their favorite albums of the year a lot lately, and while I get that, we haven’t even heard the new record from the Stevens. Today we have their second single from the forthcoming Good, and it’s the perfect blend of their discordant moments and their pop leanings. Twanging guitars ring, rhythms take on a dark swing and it leaves us all with a great deal of hope for a brilliant release. Chapter Music will be releasing Good on July 14th, so be on the lookout for the next hit record of 2017.

Fresh Tune from The Stevens

In case you hadn’t heard, The Stevens have a brand new album coming out this July. Why is that important? Well, if it picks up where they left off with their last album, then the band’s sure to be a household name by the end of the year. On this first single, the band are offering up a traditional guitar pop sound, though with a definite Oceanic bend; I also like that the length on this number is almost twice as long as anything on History of Hygiene. That length allows for more to sink your teeth into, be it the chugging ring of guitars are the gradual cool of the melody. Look for Good to hit in stores on July 14th via the esteemed Chapter Music.

Touch of Pop from Tam Vantage

tomThose of you in the know of the Aussie pop scene might be aware of Tam Vantage; he’s previously worked in Pop Singles and ATH darlings The Stevens.  But, he’s got a new project working under his namesake, and it’s delectable pop bliss for pretty much every listener.  I like the slight bit of inflection that’s in his voice, fitting perfectly into the light-hearted approach to his guitar work.  I swear, there’s something going on in that Melbourne water; I’m in love with everything that city produces. For now, there’s just this grand single, but I’ll keep you on the up and up with more announcements as they come our way.

Austin Spotlight: Polio Club Blew My Mind

10704175_10205008146462144_3837601728872752832_nSo, amidst all the ACL hubbub of last weekend, I was introduced to a pretty solid act I hadn’t really gotten a chance to know, and I’m hooked: Polio Club.  I caught their set on Friday night over at Hotel Vegas as I went to catch The Stevens (who killed it!). Even as I was exhausted, I was really taken aback by the group’s sound.  It’s definitely got sort of a no-wave art rock sound; I could also make a comparison to the earlier grooves of The Rapture, only spun in a more artistic manner.  As of right now, they don’t have too much recorded, other than a few great demos, so I thought I’d get them on your radar early…that way you can plan on keeping an eye about town for this group; I’ll also make sure you know when their next gig pops up.

 

Brand New Tune from The Stevens

steveIn case you were one of those unfortunate souls who missed out on the glory that was The History of Hygiene, then first listen to this delightful new song from The Stevens.  We got glimpses of this sort of pop on their debut, but this track shows such growth and perfection that it’s hard to even really see them as the same group. When the world looks back in 20 years on the history of Australian pop music, they’ll start to look at Chapter Music as the purveyors of all great things; they’re the label releasing this delectable single. Perfect way to wrap up your Friday afternoon.  Then you can also go pick up their LP; you deserve it.

Top 50 Albums of 2013

albums banner 2013 procMaking 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 – WampireCuriosity
49 – Dot DashHalf Remembered Dream
48 – Mantles  – Long Enough to Leave
47 – The Appleseed CastIllumination Ritual
46 – Bad SportsBras
45 – Part TimePDA
44 – Dick DiverCalendar Days
43 – Math and Physics ClubOur Hearts Beat Loud
42 – Veronica FallsWaiting for Something to Happen
41 – Eat Skull – III
40 – The Lonely WildThe Sun as It Comes
39 – The Love LanguageRuby Red
38 – Gun OutfitHard Coming Down
37 – Cate Le BonMug Museum
36 – Daughn GibsonMe Moan
35 – Andre ObinThe Arsonist
34 – ArpMore
33 – Gap DreamShine Your Light
32 – The Black WatchThe End of When
31 – Ty SegallSleeper
30 – The StevensA History of Hygeine
29 – Of MontrealLousy with Sylvianbriar
28 – Mirror TravelMexico
27 – Local NativesHummingbird
26 – Girls NamesThe New Life
25 – GRMLNEmpire
24 – Small BlackLimits of Desire
23 – AudacityButter Knife
22 – Mikal CroninMCII
21 – Chelsea WolfePain is Beauty
20 – FoalsHoly Fire
19 – Radical FaceFamily Tree: The Branches
18 – Youth LagoonWondrous Bughouse
17 – Terry MaltsNobody Realizes This is Nowhere
16 – Shout Out LoudsOptica
15 – Kurt VileWaking on a Pretty Daze
14 –  BraidsFlourish//Perish
13 – Crystal AntlersNothing is Real
12 – TyphoonWhite Lighter
11 – Ski LodgeBig Heart

10 – GamblesTrust

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 GrowlersHung 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.

8 – Wax IdolsDiscipline & Desire

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.

7 – Parenthetical GirlsPrivilege

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.

6 – The NationalTrouble Will Find Me

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.

5 – LegsPass the Ringo

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.

4 – Warm SodaSomeone for You

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.

3 – Coma CinemaPosthumous Release

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.

2 – Bubblegum LemonadeSome Like it Pop

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.

1 – Magical CloudzImpersonator

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.

 

New Tune from The Stevens

stevensNot too long ago The Stevens released their debut EP via Chapter Music, and now that you’ve had time to absorb that gem, we’ve got a brand new song from the Aussies.  With fresh news that the label will be releasing their first full length, A History of Hygiene, it seems only fair that we accompany such great news with this scrappy pop number. I like the bouncing rhythm that is immediately established by the drumming, and the slight bit of echo on the vocals.  When gang vocals ring, the track really hits its stride, stepping in line with the ringing guitars.  The album will be available on November 1st, finishing off a great 2013 for the band…and you.

The Stevens Sign with Chapter Music

2312597976-1I’ve had my eye on Australian band The Stevens for a bit now, and I’m really happy they’ve found an incredible home on our favorite label, Chapter Music.  In honor of the signing, the label will be releasing their self-titled six-song EP on 7″ on April 13th.  I love the way the guitars have this heavy-handed post punk feel to them, but then they take that notion and turn it into a softer little ditty.  It’s a great effect, providing you with this catchy song you’ll want to play over and over again.  Congrats to the label and the band for a perfect union!