Favourite Australian Albums 2014 by Andrew Fithall

BlackCabCrikey – it wasn’t until I started to compile this list of my favourite Australian albums of 2014 that I realised what a really good year it has been.

The realisation came by the ones I have had to leave out – Washington, Dan Sultan, Chet Faker, The Grates, Ned Collette, The Audreys; Jack Ladder, Rob Snarski and quite a few others all put out music I have enjoyed this year. I have come down to the top ten just through what I reckon I have listened to most frequently since it came into my possession.  Being old school and an avid supporter of Australian music I mean by “came into my possession” that “I bought it”. Novel approach I know. And of course, being older than 50, by “bought it” I mean ”bought the CD”. No not vinyl. I don’t understand the attraction of the labour intensity of listening to vinyl records. I buy music on CD, immediately upload to iTunes and then copy to my phone and other listening devices for playing in the office, in the car, in the kitchen when cooking dinner and when out walking the dog. And very occasionally I listen to the actual CD.

Lanie Lane – Night Shade
This came out later in the year and was a real change from the country sound of her 2011 album To The Horses. Lanie Lane hasn’t gone as far down the pop path as Taylor Swift, but it is in that direction. But I don’t mind pop music. This album has Lanie’s voice front and centre and makes for very enjoyable listening.
Augie March – Havens Dumb
After a six year break since their most recent album Augie March put this out and it carries on from where they left off. I had the single After the Crack Up on my voting list on the Triple J Top 100. It may be the only one of my votes which actually gets a look in.
Luluc – Passerby
Like Augie March, the most recent album from Luluc, Dear Hamlyn, was back in 2008. Luluc are Zoe Randell and Steve Hassett and they spend most of their time these days in the US but they have been in Australia touring this album, doing headline shows and will be supporting First Aid Kit in Australia in March. They are also doing a Melbourne Zoo Twilights show with Sarah Blasko. That would be great. I saw them at the Northcote Social Club a few weeks ago and they are as good live as they are on the album. Passerby is a beautiful album.
C.W. Stoneking – Gon’ Boogaloo
Not sure what it is about six year breaks between albums, but that is how long since we had something from C.W. He is not everyone’s cup of tea; I do sometimes wonder how contrived the whole performance is. On this album, the sound has progressed with the introduction of an electric guitar and certainly improved with the vocal support of Vika and Linda Bull and Paul Kelly’s daughters Maddy and Memphis.
King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard – I’m In Your Mind Fuzz
Being as prolific as they are, King Gizzard put out two albums in 2014. This is the second of the two and has featured in quite a few top tens around the place. It is almost a concept album with the first four songs on the album flowing on from each other. I am proud that in my solitary contribution to the 2014 Footy Almanac I was able to reference this band (it was better than talking about my football team). As a seven-piece including two drummers, they are a fantastic live band as well – they were just about my favourite at Golden Plains this year.
Laura Jean – Laura Jean
Laura Jean Englert is a Melbourne singer whose music is simple and stripped back. Prior to her 2011 album A Fool Who’ll, Laura Jean had come into possession of an electric guitar and it featured quite prominently. That has been eschewed this time around and she has reverted to acoustic, allowing the voice to come through and making for a folkier sound. The record also plays well live – I saw Laura Jean at a Chapter Music event during Melbourne Music Week where she had additional support from one of my favourite Melbourne musicians Evelyn Morris.
Teeth and Tongue – Grids
If you can label someone originally from New Zealand as a Melbourne musician, Jess Cornelius is another of my favourite Melbourne musicians. I saw her perform I think four times over the last calendar year and I still regret all the times I have missed her shows whether as headliner or as support. The report of her slot at the recent Meredith was very positive. My favourite from the album is Newborn on which she enjoys the vocal support of Laura Jean. The entire album is very strong.
Pony Face – Pony Face Presents Nebraska
This album came about as an outcome of a performance at Pure Pop records in St Kilda. It was one of a series of bands playing entire album covers. Such was the quality of the Pony Face performance that they decided to record the album and the result is fantastic. I am not a Bruce Springsteen fan so didn’t know the original. I am a fan of Pony Face and like most of the stuff they have put out and this was certainly no exception. I gave a copy to a friend who is a Springsteen fan. His verdict: needs more Bruce. The album includes four bonus tracks including a cover of Born In The USA which is not immediately recognisable!
Banoffee – Banoffee EP
There is a hint in the name of the album that it is not actually an album, but I decided to include it, partly because it is the only selection which is the actual first release from this artist. But even that is not entirely true – I have some of Martha Brown’s previous work from when she performed with Otouto. Listen to Let’s Go To The Beach and your will enjoy some delightful pop. Listen to Ohhhh Owwww and you will be looking around to see who might be offended by the language. I am looking forward to a full-length release from Banoffee in 2015 (?) as well as seeing her at Golden Plains this March.
Black Cab – Games of the XXI Olympiad
In compiling this list I haven’t made any attempt to put them in preferred order. But I have saved my favourite album ‘til last. Black Cab’s most recent previous album release was Call Signs in 2009. This 2014 album was a long time in gestation. So long that by as the release date neared, I pre-ordered my CD from the record company having forgotten that my contribution to the Black Cab Pozible fundraising campaign entitled me to a free copy of the album. Oh well. I now have the CD and can accept my Pozible “gift” in alternative medium  –  I have opted for vinyl. Principles are so easily ignored. I read recently that Black Cab have noted that their audience has decreased in age as their music has evolved into a more electronic sound. I am one who has not dropped off. although I haven’t been to any of their live shows over the last couple of years despite free tickets. This is a concept album around the 1976 Montreal Olympics, particularly the East German swimming team who had a bit of performance assistance. Some albums just have to be played loud – this one is best enjoyed in the car on my way home from work. Or home alone. Black Cab are playing at Shebeen on 25 January. I plan to be there.

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