Critics Poll 2011: 50-21
You’ve had the chance to tell us your favourite local albums of the year in our sixth annual Readers Poll. Now, it’s our critics’ turn to weigh in. Here’s the first installment (50-21) of our selections for Album of the Year 2011. Tomorrow, it’s the Top 20.
50. Nick Huggins
(Two Bright Lakes/Remote Control)
Key notes: First solo album in four years for the Melbourne-based producer (Otouto, Kid Sam) and Two Bright Lakes Records co-founder. Follows 2007’s Shipwreck
More reading: Interview – Nick Huggins
49. Mick Harvey
Sketches From the Book of the Dead
Key notes: First “fully self-penned album” for the iconic former member of the Bad Seeds and the Birthday Party/Boys Next Door. Recorded and mixed with David McCluney at Atlantis Sound in Port Melbourne with additional recording at Harvey's own Grace Lane music room.
More reading: Interview – Mick Harvey
48. The Singing Skies
Routine and War
Key notes: Debut album from Kell Derrig-Hall, who’s played with the likes of Jack Ladder, Rand and Holland and Seaworthy. Features backing vocals from partner and Moonmilk bandmate Lia Tsamoglou (aka Melodie Nelson). Recorded by Simon Grounds in Melbourne.
What we said: “Routine and War is an album difficult to take lightly; one that invites the contemplation of life's bigger questions. Scaled back and not needing any fanfare, these songs are strong enough to simply exist.”
More reading: Track By Track
Key notes: Debut album for New Zealand-born, Melbourne-based solo artist Kimbra Johnson. Co-produced with Franc Tetaz and M-Phazes. Features ‘Cameo Lover’, which came in at #16 in our Track of the Year for 2011.
More reading: Interview – Kimbra
46. The Paradise Motel
I Still Hear Your Voice At Night
Key notes: Fifth studio album for the Melbourne-based seven-piece. Recorded before last year’s Australian Ghost Story, but put on hold following the death of drummer Damien Hill. Recorded at Sound Park studios in Melbourne in January 2008.
More reading: Interview – The Paradise Motel
45. The Vasco Era
The Vasco Era
Key notes: Self-titled third album for the Apollo Bay-born trio. Recorded at Sound Park Studios in Melbourne with Steven Schram (The Devastations, Little Red). Follows 2009’s Lucille.
More reading: Interview – The Vasco Era
44. Golden Staph
Key notes: Debut album for Perth five-piece fronted by Amber Gempton.
What we said: “This is the sound of being young, punk, smart, poor, lazy and talented. The sound of a band at the early stages of the typical new act cycle: make songs, record them, release them, go on tour, repeat until burnout.”
43. Kitchen's Floor
Look Forward To Nothing
Key notes: Second full-length from the Brisbane outfit fronted by Matthw Kennedy. Follows 2009’s Loneliness is a Dirty Mattress.
42. Panel Of Judges
Moods On The Move
Key notes: Fourth album by Melbourne outfit featuring dual vocalists Alison Bolger and Dion Nania, drummer Paul Williams and guitarist Martin Frawley (Twerps). Follows 2008’s Bad Vibrations.
What we said: “If Bad Vibrations was Melbourne’s Panel of Judges most ‘fully realised’, then this fourth album is the nebulous indie four-piece at its zenith.”
41. No Anchor
Real Pain Supernova
Key notes: Third studio album for the Brisbane-based trio: bass players/singers Donovan Miller and Ian Rogers and drummer Alex Gillies. Follows 2009 LP Steam and last year’s live album Press Start And Wait For Drone....
40. Mr. Maps
Key notes: Debut full-length by Brisbane-based instrumental ensemble. Follows last year’s EP Nice Fights.
What we said: “Wire Empire is an immersive listen. These are complex arrangements that demand full attention – lest you miss the finer points – but it works just as well in the background, as the subconscious mind happily rides out the peaks.”
Key notes: First album by Melbourne “supergroup” comprising members of Scott and Charlene’s Wedding, Beaches, ZOND and The Spazzys. Produced by Jack Farley.
Key notes: Debut solo album for South African-born producer and Odd Future collaborator Jonti Danilewitz aka the artist formerly known as Danimals/Djanimals. First Australian signing to Stones Throw Records. Features ‘Firework Spraying Moon’, which came in at #15 in our Tracks of the Year.
What we said: “With Twirligig, Jonti Danilewitz has a delivered an album with nary a dull moment … He also establishes, without a shadow of a doubt, that he is the best hip-hop producer to have come out of Australia in recent memory.”
More reading: Interview – Jonti
37. The Middle East
I Want That You Are Always Happy
What we said: “It’s frustrating but also somehow admirable. Instead of simply writing a record of first-listen love affairs like ‘Blood’, the band is making us work. Making us actually listen hard, take our time, and scan the back pages for whatever meaning we may find.”
More reading: Interview – The Middle East
Kingdom of Fuzz
Key notes: Debut album for Melbourne three-piece. Recorded/mixed by Paul Maybury (Rocket Science) at A Secret Location in Fairfield, Victoria, in September 2010.
35. The Grates
Key notes: Third album for the Brisbane-born, New York-based duo of singer Patience Hodgson and guitarist John Patterson (drummer Alana Skyring left the band last year to embark on a career in the culinary arts). Follows 2008’s Teeth Lost, Hearts Won. Features ‘Turn Me On’, which came in at #10 in our Tracks of the Year.
More reading: Interview – The Grates
34. Ben Salter
Key notes: Debut solo album, more than a decade in the writing, from Gin Club frontman. Recorded with Gareth Liddiard and Robert F Cranny in Haviliah, Victoria.
More reading: Track By Track
33. The UV Race
Key notes: Second album for the Warragul/Melbourne punk collective. Follows 2009’s self-titled debut full-length. Recorded and mixed by Mikey Young (Eddy Current Suppression Ring, Total Control).
32. Mike Noga
The Balladeer Hunter
Key notes: Second album for Noga, best known as sticksman for The Drones. Follow-up to 2006 debut Folk Songs. Recorded in an old warehouse on the outskirts of Melbourne over two nights, with each song captured in the first or second takes.
More reading: Interview – Mike Noga
31. Dereb The Ambassador
Dereb The Ambassador
Key notes: Debut album for Ethiopian-born singer Dereb Desalegn. Backed by a seven-piece band featuring members of The Strides and Deep Sea Arcade and recorded by producer Tony Buchen using only pre-1970s equipment.
What we said: “What results could be pegged as a beginners-guide to ethio-jazz for uninitiated listeners. It's more than that though, because Desalegn's voice – capable of straddling a myriad fervently felt emotions at once – is breathtaking.”
30. Pets With Pets
Saturday Aquatic Pixie Acid
Key notes: Debut album for Melbourne duo comprising Zayd Thring (guitars, vocals, keyboards, samples) and Jonathan Edmonds (drums, percussion). Recorded March 2009 to May 2010 by Shags Chamberlain (Lost Animal, Pikelet). Features ‘Pixie Child’, which came in at #18 in our Tracks of the Year.
What we said: “Saturday Aquatic Pixie Acid is an album in every sense of the term: its force is communicated by the way each climax, each invigorating pop pulse, emerges from the sea of noise that cultivates it.”
29. Jane Badler With Sir
Key notes: Second collaborative album from Melbourne-based American actor Jane Badler (V, Neighbours, Fantasy Island) with SIR (aka Jesse Shepherd). Follows 2008’s The Devil Has My Double. Produced and arranged by internationally-acclaimed composer Paul Grabowsky.
More reading: Track By Track
28. Oh Mercy
Great Barrier Grief
Key notes: Second album for the Melbourne-based four-piece, following 2009’s Privileged Woes. Recorded in Los Angeles with Mitchell Froom (Crowded House). Features ‘Stay Please Stay’, which came in at #20 in our Tracks of the Year.
Key notes: Third album for the Melbourne-based solo artist. Follow-up to the platinum-selling Like Drawing Blood (2006). Features top 40 hit ‘Somebody That I Used To Know’, which came in at #17 in our Tracks of the Year.
More reading: Interview – Gotye
26. Abbe May
Key notes: Third album in four years for the WA-born singer. Follows 2009’s Hoodoo You Do.
25. The Panics
Rain On The Humming Wire
Key notes: Fourth album for the Perth-born, Melbourne-based outfit. Follows the ARIA-winning Cruel Guards (2007). Recorded in Woodstock, New York, with producer John O’Mahony (Metric, Alberta Cross, Coldplay). Features ‘Majesty’, which came in at #12 in our Tracks of the Year.
What we said: “In paying penance to nostalgia, The Panics exist in a vacuum of creative allusion. They’ve been unafraid to cite their references and celebrate the naively hopeful influences of a past when rock and folk music was more than a genre, but a movement and a way of life.”
More reading: Interview – The Panics
24. Richard In Your Mind
(Rice Is Nice)
Key notes: Third album for Sydney five-piece Richard In Your Mind. Follows last year’s Australian Music Prize-nominated My Volcano.
More reading: Interview – Richard In Your Mind
23. Ron Peno and The Superstitions
Key notes: Solo debut for the legendary Died Pretty frontman in collaboration with guitarist and composer Cam Butler (Silver Ray).
More reading: Icons – Ron Peno
22. Architecture in Helsinki
Key notes: Fourth studio album for the Melbourne-based collective, following 2007’s Places Like This. Recorded over a two-year period in the band's studio space with the help of Francois Tetaz (Sally Seltmann, Gotye). Features ‘Contact High’, which came in at #3 in our Tracks of the Year
21. Melodie Nelson
Mediations On The Sun
Key notes: Solo project of Lia Tsamoglou, one half of now defunct Sydney experimental drone duo Moonmilk and ex-bassist for alt-folk group Rand and Holland. Recorded with Tony Dupe (Holly Throsby, Jack Ladder).
More reading: Track By Track
TOMORROW: Our critics’ top 20 albums of the year.