30. Pet Deaths – to the top of the hill and roll…
to the top of the hill and roll… is no brutal assault. Each track slowly unfurls, often from tentative beginnings, perhaps with softly picked acoustic guitar or a gentle piano motif. Gradually, the duo introduce unassuming drones and vocal harmonies which usher Liam Karima’s subtle vocals into focus, while swaddling them with layer upon layer of musical subtlety. The album’s concept signifies the heady beginnings, slow decline and inevitably bitter end of a relationship. Pet Deaths aren’t alone in looking to a more pastoral and folk outlook for inspiration; few acts of late however have done so in such a considered and thematic way. The stark, morose piano of The Bats in Your Hair bristles with intensity, while gentle waltz At the Bottom of the Hill provides warmer caresses. Did You Lose Your Silver Mind in Nevada distils the mood of the whole album, as Karima recounts the tale of a chance encounter with a stranger while leaving a loved one behind. Pet Deaths’ first foray is a promising one with much to commend it; there is concept, detail, imagination and experimentation on show here, with several gorgeous goosebump moments. (ID)
Check out: Wind Up Bird, Did You Lose Your Silver Mind in Nevada, The Bats in Your Hair, At the Bottom of the Hill.
29. The Japanese House – Good at Falling
28. The Faim – State of Mind
Australian four-piece have been making waves recently with their sudden careening into the musical stratosphere. After going on tour with Lower Than Atlantis, Sleeping with Sirens and Against The Current, among others, their highly anticipated debut album came out in September — and, rather thankfully, it delivers. Featuring the rock-fuelled Amelie, the heart-wrenching Where The River Runs and the fantastic closer of State Of Mind, the album holds some auditory gems well worth a listen. As al album, with its catchy hooks, a wonderfully well-crafted tone of pop-rock enjoyability and Josh Raven’s brilliant yet slightly edged vocals, it’s a great debut album and deserves its place on this list. (JOS)
Check Out: Amelie, Where The River Runs, State Of Mind, Infamous
27. Fontaines D.C – Dogrel
Dogrel unleashed little in the way of surprises, with no less then seven of the eleven tracks already released in some format, and the remaining tracks having conjoined them as the band’s established live set. Dogrel was more a consolidation than the sound of new horizons being breached, lending it the feel of a retrospective collection; albeit a mightily accomplished one. Vocalist Grian Chatten’s sardonic delivery and eloquent turn of phrase ensure that even the simplest of statements takes on a much more loaded significance. Of the previously released tracks, it is perhaps Hurricane Laughter that benefits most from its reproduced version for Dogrel. The more well-worn components of Dogrel still thrill, however the collection is at its most intriguing where the songs vary from the standard Fontaines template. Roy’s Tune, positioned as the centrepiece of the entire album is a piece of genius, Connor Curley’s jangly guitar motif circles around a beautiful melody in which Chatten unveils a new vocal versatility. (ID)
Check out: Hurricane Laughter, Roy’s Tune, Chequeless Reckless, Liberty Belle.
26. John – Out Here On the Fringes
To clear things up John are called John because there are two members and they’re both called John. Now we’ve got that out of the way, here’s the album. Out Here On The Fringes is the second release from the duo and quite frankly both their albums are blinding but the first came about before many were paying attention. However, with OHOTF after being pseudo-endorsed by IDLES reached a far greater audience. The duo achieve one of the fullest, honest sounds of a duo (yes, with Royal Blood there are more modifications than Michael Jackson) with impeccable guitar and drum tones where you don’t actually miss the lack of drums! With Motorhead, Lemmy constructed the bass sound to be part bass/part guitar and with John the sound is just as expertly worked. Analysing the drumming, it’s just as carefully worked with beats that don’t overshadow the guitars but equally are creative and imaginative. Whack this on and get ready to headbang; it’s 110% guttural riff bangers but tame enough to appeal to the mass market (insert comment of how Pigsx7 still achieved a wide audience despite being metal). (JW)
Check out: High Digger, Future Thinker
25. Adam French – The Back Foot and The Rapture
It was weird remembering that Adam French’s debut album only came out this year. Some of the songs have been so familiar for me for years; the lyrics to Wanna Be Here, for instance, I knew for two plus years before its eventual release. So it came as no surprise that when writing this list Adam French’s stunning debut flew straight to the forefront as something that had to be included. From the echoing beauty of Weightless or the sheer desperation of Wanna Be Here to the darkness of My Addiction, the album is just hauntingly mesmerising, from start to finish; Adam’s effortlessly strong vocals are ineffably good throughout, often over understated yet powerful guitar riffs, or even just a violin or piano. Listen to it — just have a tissue at the ready. (JOS)
Check Out: Wanna Be Here, Coco, Ivory, My Addiction
24. Ride – This is Not a Safe Place
Ride’s unexpected comeback album Weather Diaries was a more solid offering than we had anticipated, while last year’s more experimental e.p Tomorrow’s Shore was an even more unexpected delight. This is Not a Safe Place saw Ride returning to their psyche-gaze heartland but with renewed confidence and vigour. Kicking off with instrumental jams, throwing in singalong hit singles like Future Love and Clouds of Saint Marie while pushing the envelope with 8 minute tracks and songs like Jump Jet which are as good as anything the band have released. Andy Bell’s guitar lines and Mark Gardener’s angelic vocals resound like Oasis never even happened. To coin a phrase… effortlessly cool. (ID)
Check out: Future Love, Clouds of Saint Marie, Jump Jet, Kill Switch.
23. Jungle Brown – Full Circle
Full Circle was one of those rare albums where within the first few bars you are certain you’re on to a good thing. With it having made our end of year lists, our initial instinct was not wrong. Full Circle opens with a Jurassic 5 styled laid-back vibe but throughout the album you’re taken on a journey through a myriad of hip-hop sub-genres. With the skill learned from their previous releases and support from their label Mr Bongo, Jungle Brown manage to avoid sounding like a mess of noises and produce a cohesive album that feels like a history of hip-hop. Having chatted with beats and producing master of the trio Tony Bones, he spoke of how he tries to take the beats in a direction that Jungle Brown haven’t been before. Regardless of their musical talent, musicians are idolised for everything they do which can be at times worrying. Jungle Brown are a group that use their platform to talk to youngsters (like they were themselves not long ago) in a relatable manner. Jungle Brown are a triumph for music and for society. (JW)
Check out: Keep It Movin’, Time Ticks.
22. Periphery – Periphery IV: HAIL STAN
Hail Stan is simply bizarre. Even it’s very title seems meta-commentary to make light of the band; each song on it, some almost twenty minutes long, fluctuate between a ridiculous number of themes. Opener Reptile changes so much that it’s hard to remember it’s only one song. Yet, despite this, the band’s sheer musical genius and skill shines through. It’s heavy enough to cater to even the most die-hard metal fans while it’s relatively scream-free vocals leave it perfectly accessible to those with gentler sensibilities; all in all, it’s just a great album.
Plus, who wouldn’t laugh at the fact that the final line in the album, in closer Satellites, is “suck my balls”! (JOS)
Check Out: Reptile, Satellites, Blood Eagle, Garden In The Bones
21. Sticky Fingers – Yours To Keep
The Sydney collective marked their metamorphosis from reggae-psych hell-raisers with this literal gift to the fans who have stuck by them on the journey so far. Beset by controversy, Dylan Frost’s well-publicised battle with alcohol seemed to have jeopardised his emotional health to the point where Sti-Fi releases could no longer be taken for granted. In that context Yours To Keep was a stunning comeback album, stuffed with a platter of eclectic ideas all the way from the indie batter of Kick On to the sheen of album closer Junk. In between, Cool and Calm kept a toe-hold on the trippy Sticky Fingers vibe of old; while Not Done Yet was breath-taking. Written for a departed friend, Frost’s impassioned vocal alongside Seamus Coyle’s picked acoustic guitar displays a vulnerable beauty rarely seen in the Aussies’ formidable canon. (ID)
Check out: Cool and Calm, Kick On, Hyper, Not Done Yet.