Our 10 essential Australian albums of the year (Music Insight)
As the curtain draws on a massive year for Australian music, we thought we’d take the time to stop and appreciate some of the finest album releases of 2017.
So here they are, in no particular order:
GANG OF YOUTHS – GO FARTHER IN LIGHTNESS
Where better to start than with the 2017 ARIA Album of the Year? Gang of Youths arrived in anthemic fashion with their 2015 debut, The Positions. Topping that was no easy feat, but with this sophomore effort they delivered a better, more expansive, alternative epic. Although this record presents a bleak and complex soundscape, it’s also a tribute to the triumph of the human spirit. It’s winning loads of awards and acclaim for a reason, so be sure to check this one out.
You can read more about the album in our Q&A with bassist Max Dunn.
Essential tracks: ‘What Can I Do If the Fire Goes Out?’, ‘Atlas Drowned’, ‘The Deepest Sighs, the Frankest Shadows’.
ALEX THE ASTRONAUT – TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN
Alex Lynn, better known by her stage name Alex the Astronaut, has had an absolute blinder of a year, with several EPs, shows and critical success under her belt. But it is her first EP of the year that makes our top 10. To Whom It May Concern showcases Lynn’s ability for outstanding lyrical storytelling and non-traditional songwriting. The result is a deliciously catchy blend of indie pop that is damn entertaining to listen to. She is one of the most exciting young artists Australia has to offer, you know you’ve got some talent when even Elton John is giving you shout-outs.
Essential tracks: ‘Rockstar City’, ‘I Believe in Music’.
PAUL KELLY – LIFE IS FINE
Songwriting legend Paul Kelly returned to prominence in emphatic fashion this year, scoring his first-ever number one album in Australia with his twenty-third effort, Life is Fine. The record saw a fresh update on Kelly’s style, and his decision to go back to basics was the right one. The album was one of the biggest domestic commercial success of the year – fitting for a musical legend whose work is etched into the Australian musical psyche.
Essential tracks: ‘Firewood and Candles’, ‘My Man’s Got a Cold’, ‘I Smell Trouble’.
POLISH CLUB – ALRIGHT ALREADY
The wacky, self-proclaimed ‘sweatiest band in Sydney’ certainly hit it big with their debut album this year. If there is one way you can describe this gem of a record, it’s that it’s wild. A two-piece rock ‘n’ roll band is a hard thing to master, but Polish Club nail it perfectly with solid songwriting, and confident ‘stare-you-right-in-the-eyes’ performances on this record. Sweaty rock’n’roll? Look no further.
Essential tracks: ‘Come Party’, ‘Divided’, ‘Beat Up’.
BUSBY MAROU – POSTCARDS FROM THE SHELL HOUSE
One can be drawn to many different genres of music, but nothing beats the almost universal appeal of acoustic guitar and vocals. Combine that with a relaxed, folky, campfire vibe, good songwriting, great singing and you get Busby Marou. The easy-going lads from Rockhampton scored their first number one this year with their third LP. It was an absolute knockout, a stunning example of beauty in simplicity and exhibited melodies that can touch your heart.
Essential tracks: ‘Come Back to Me’, ‘Paint This Land’, ‘Every Day In Between’
NIC CESTER – SUGAR RUSH
The debut solo effort from the former Jet frontman was an unexpected gem that slipped under the radar of many a music fan. A notable departure from the sounds of Get Born, this album retains a balance of hard rock, while throwing elements of psychedelia and jungle into the mix. As Cester steps into the next phase of his career, he’s delivered an album will please old fans and new (even if you were never on the Jet bandwagon).
Essential tracks: ‘Hard Times’, ‘Eyes on the Horizon’, ‘Psichebello’
MEG MAC – LOW BLOWS
Much anticipated by the team at MI, Meg Mac’s long-awaited debut was well worth the wait. A soulful singer with a mature head on her shoulders, Mac delivers track after track of exciting performances, both lyrically and musically. The album oozes personality, recalling the sounds of soul, Celtic music, and much more. Low Blows was certainly a high point for Australian music this year, and one well worth checking out.
Essential Tracks: ‘Low Blows’, ‘Maybe It’s My First Time’
KASEY CHAMBERS – DRAGONFLY
Released at the very start of the year, Kasey Chambers’ eleventh studio album is one of the most impressive she has put out in years. With her signature country style, Kasey delivered a cracking record that reminds us why we fell in love with her to begin with. Adding in her outstanding collaboration with Paul Kelly, and it ain’t hard to see why this record was her first chart topper in nearly a decade.
Essential tracks: ‘Ain’t No Little Girl’, ‘Pompeii’, ‘Hey’ (with Paul Kelly)
ANGUS & JULIA STONE – SNOW
Snow was (mind the pun) a real watershed moment for the Stone siblings. Angus and Julia went their own ways musically for the last few years, but this record showed us they truly are better together. The call-and-response feel of the record and the way the siblings play off each other is utterly charming.
Essential tracks: ‘Snow’, ‘Chateau’, ‘Cellar Door’
AMY SHARK – NIGHT THINKER
Gold Coast singer-songwriter Amy Shark has turned heads with her soothing, nocturnal music. Night Thinker a sparse EP filled with chilling, ever-echoing vocals and compelling instrumentation. With her blend of indie pop and slow-dance electronica, Shark has carved out a niche for herself with this compelling listen.
Essential tracks: ‘Drive You Mad’, ‘Adore’, ‘Weekends’