Staff Picks 2017. Chris's Picks.

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Thanks everyone for supporting us this year. Our favourite part of this job is looking for and ordering new music, and its even better that it manages to pay some bills too! Thanks to all the bands, distros and labels who deliver the quality year in, year out. The 15 Years Of Repressed at Vivid was pretty sick too. Here is some of my favourite music released in 2017.

The Stevens - Good (Chapter)  Probably the most underrated band in Australia.  Expanding on their excellent debut History Of Hygiene, they move into more expansive power pop territory without being boring and slick about it. I don’t know why everyone doesn’t buy it.

Alex Macfarlane - Cassette 2017 (Hobbies Galore) Plays in Stevens, Tyrannamen, Twerps and Faceless Burial. His solo stuff is shorter and quirkier but has that Stevens style warmth to it, recalling the best bits of UK DIY like Swell Maps

Sex Tourists - Self Titled LP (Paradise Daily) Sounds like New Order from one of those depressing Aussie pubs with a vocalist who really resents being stuck there, talking shit. And who can’t relate to that? Bleak, but in a very honest, relatable way.

Oily Boys - 2017 Promotional Tape (Disinfect)   We waited for ages for something, and the new stuff on this is next level. The guitars especially sound more in your face, verging on a warped version of prime period Poison Idea.

Mikey Young - Your Move Vol 1 LP and You Feelin’ Me Cassette (Hobbies Galore)  Mikey is from Eddy Current Suppression Ring and Total Control. His solo stuff is heavily synth / electronic based, bringing to mind French prog artist Heldon combined with elements of Australian 70’s surf soundtracks and even bits of Burial. Lovely, blissful stuff.

Alex Cameron - Forced Witness (Secretly Canadian) I really liked his debut album Jumping The Shark, which I gather was a concept album about a tragic Australian TV star. The music was minimal, dark synth driven. I was doubtful he could get away with something like that again, but here he is mixing his sleazy tragedy with a more lush sound. ‘There’s this woman on the internet, even if she’s just some Nigerian guy”. He can manage to be a dickhead but still elicit sympathy and it’s such a strange balance. I like how people REALLY hate him too.

Angie - Shyness (Rice Is Nice)  I thought it was a bit strange for Angie (Circle Pit, Straight Arrows, Ruined Fortune) to do a piano based folk album, but it’s one of the loveliest things I heard all year. 

John Maus - Screen Memories (Ribbon Music)  A sweet combo of menace and irony, I listened to this album a lot this year. Goth sounding synths, simultaneously retro and futuristic and has you singing along with songs like: “your pets are gonna die”.

Princess Nokia - 1992 Deluxe (Rough Trade) I listened to a lot of hip-hop this year, and this debut two lp was fun, gritty and full of a swaggering outsider confidence that gets you onside straight away. Named herself after a brand of "Obamaphone" she was entitled to as a low income earner, a snippet of trivia I liked too.

Sleeping Beauties - Self Titled LP (In The Red)  No one really cared too much about this, but I love the reckless 70’s Iggy vibe. Features members of The Hunches, Eat Skull.

Feedtime - Gas (In The Red) I make a point of trying to avoid comebacks, but Feedtime is different ofcourse. It was never going to be a cash in or good ol’ days revival, and they step back into it the zone grumpy and rumbling with as much menace as ever.

Enderie 1 (Room 40) and Enderie 2 (Paradise Daily)   I think Andrew McLellan would be one of the most unique people making music in Australia. Industrial in a collared shirt and a fuck you edge. Dark themes you can dance too.  

Ragana - You Take Nothing LP (An Out Recordings)  Two piece all girl black metal band from Oakland, who delivered the grimmest piece of music of the year. Almost post-rock in parts without that faux drama

Impalers - Cellar Dweller LP (540 Records) From Austin, Texas, one of the wildest pieces of hardcore you’ll ever hear. Punishing, psychedelic and totally off the wall.

Sex Drive 7” (Sexy Romance)  Bratty, catchy as hell surf punk from the Gold Goast. Alienation, boredom; good punk subjects. A mix of The Adolescents rage and something newer like Condominium.

Straight Jacket Nation LP (Cool Death)  One of the best hardcore bands to ever come out of Oz. Dan Stewart oozes so much menace here and his other band Total Control for such a lovely bloke. The drumming is like a kick in the guts too.

The Necks - Unfold (Idealogical Organ) and Tony Buck - Unearth CD (Room 40) I don’t think anyone incorporates space and sound to have a more uniquely Australian feel than The Necks. From the tone of the piano to drawn out organ and the percussion sounding like wind chimes. Bit silly not going to see them live whenever you get the chance. The drummer Tony Buck put out a CD on Room 40 which was very Necks like, but a lot darker and menacing in mood.

Wonderfuls - Ruined, Done For CD (Chemical Imbalance) Every few weeks, regular as clockwork, Mitch from Chemical Imbalance comes in with his new batch of releases. This is a two cd collection of outtakes from this Brisbane duos last album “Only Shadows Now”. I prefer this for some reason. They have a genuine darkness to them that really gets under your skin and you want to give them a comforting pat on the back but not enough to ruin the music.

Slender - Walled Garden 7” (La Vida Es Un Mus) Strange, warped six track 7” of lo-fi post punk from NYC that slowly engulfs you, sounding like some unearthed Velvet Underground recordings from when they were on acid on a sunny afternoon.

Wireheads - Lightning Ears LP (Tenth Court) I’d never really given this Adelaide band a good listen before, but this album, their fourth in three years became a real favourite. I like the shambolic guitars and the deadpan vocals. Reminds me of a less smug Pavement.

Wolf Shield - Residuum Tape (Tenth Court)    Excellent electronic project from Randy Reimann of Massappeal and Tralala Blip. I read about this in The Guardian, how he warped Massappeal demos (..processing the dying moments of songs – crashing cymbals, feedback, or the room resonance as a song ended – and wrote lyrics based on a journal from the same era) and thought "awesome, i’ll try get this in the shop", then realised we already had it, which goes to show we aren’t immune to totally missing things worth listening to.

Total Control - Laughing at the System EP (ALTER) Total Control at Vivid was such a lot of fun. It was great sharing those bleak, apocalyptic vibes with the dwellers around Sydney Harbour. This EP heads off in a different direction soundwise again. I particularly like the warped, electro-psych-oi! of the title track.

Bed Wettin’ Bad Boys - Rot  (RIP Society) Sometimes I think rock music is dead, but then some bands have enough understanding of what they’re trying to do you get sucked back in and turn off Thin Lizzy for a while. As earnest as ever,  I especially like the Guided By Voices style textures in the guitars and the fact they’re not afraid to move forward and risk sounding less DIY.