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My favorite albums are always the ones I can never find the words for. Where I can’t really describe anything about it apart from “it’s so awesome, you have to listen to it.” These are the albums that made me feel this way this year, in no particular order.

 

St. Vincent – Strange Mercy

If I had to pick a favorite of the year, I’m sure this would be it. I love the way Annie Clark contrasts Disney-like strings with dark lyrics, not to mention her voice is amazing.

Standout Track: Surgeon

 

Wild Beasts – Smother

The sweet combination of Tom Flemming and Hayden Thorpe’s vocals –  breaths and sighs – over dreamy, layered music is pretty much heaven.

Standout Track: Bed of Nails

 

James Blake – James Blake

Apparently classified as post-dubstep, I really recommend just listening to it instead of trying to categorise it. Blake’s voice is simply amazing and the combination of electronic elements was fascinating to watch when I saw him at Splendour in the Grass earlier this year.

Standout Track: The Wilhelm Scream

 

Battles – Gloss Drop

I was initially a little disappointed with this album, especially after how much I loved Mirrored, but it ended up growing on me. I still think the lead single ‘Ice Cream’ is a bit tacky and it is certainly a bit less showy than Mirrored but I eventually became thankful that they didn’t just try to recreate the same sound.

Standout Track: My Machines (feat. Gary Numan)

 

Destroyer – Kaputt

I’ll be honest, the first I had heard of this album (and Destroyer for that matter) was only a few months ago, this album hit me pretty much immediately though and I’ve listened to it almost every day since.

Standout Track: Chinatown

 

Bon Iver – Bon Iver

Well it’s no surprise this is on my list really, or anyone else’s list. And I think I’ll just leave that at that.

Standout Track: Holocene

 

Yuck – Yuck

Mmmm…fuzzy. The problem with having an album released so early in the year is that by the time the end of the year rolls around, most people have forgotten about it. Some could argue that it means the album doesn’t have staying power, but they’re just so catchy and fun.

Standout Track: Georgia

 

Mogwai – Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will

There really isn’t anything about this Mogwai album that makes it stand out from the rest, but the Scottish band have crafted what they do so well by now that it doesn’t really matter.

Standout Track: Mexican Grand Prix

 

The Antlers – Burst Apart

I caught a glimpse of these guys at Laneway at the start of the year and made a mental note to research further after the lead singer’s voice absolutely blew me away. Lucky for me an album came shortly after…

Standout Track: Corsicana

 

Explosions in the Sky – Take Care, Take Care, Take Care

Similar to the Mogwai album, there isn’t a lot new happening here but it shows Explosions doing the things that they do well.

Standout Track: Last Known Surroundings

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Pete Uhlenbruch, better known as Owls of the Swamp, has been showing off his folk stylings around the southern states for a little while now, steadily making a name for himself. Go with River is the sophomore album from Uhlenbruch after 2007’s Smoky Bay, and has a similar inception to that of Bon Iver’s debut. Uhlenbruch holed himself up in a little house in Inverloch for five weeks while he wrote and recorded most of the music on the album. The end product is a warm folk-pop offering that leans more towards the folk end of the spectrum than pop. It’s a sound that’s easily comparable to that of Iron and Wine or Bon Iver, but I wouldn’t necessarily say that they are similar.

Go with River heavily features a gently plucked guitar accompanied by Uhlenbruch’s melancholy voice, enhanced by gorgeous light layers and textures. ‘Tricks and Turns’ is the absolute highlight of the album though, with a catchy melody and bittersweet lyrics; one of the few songs that will instantly catch you. First single ‘So Far Away’ is of course a stand out track as well, and one of the poppier on the album. There are snippets of songs that could have potentially been greater than what they are, opener ‘43’ for example has a nice chord progression that doesn’t progress any further than a minute long instrumental and ‘Praying Mantis’ which is at 45 second scoundscape. The album as a whole is extremely cohesive and flows easily, but can seem quite simplistic or sparse at times. For the most part it isn’t immediately striking, but after a few listens the nuances begin to shine through.

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Who is he? Ernest Ellis

Where is he from? Sydney

What does he play? modern folk

You’ll like him if you like: Bon Iver

Ernest Ellis has been a bit of a buzz name since his album dropped a few weeks ago. The guy has managed to make a gorgeous, modern folk record. Much more than just vocal and guitar, Ernest has embraced modern technology to include reverb and layering to make a pretty unique sound. As you would gather from a quick Google search, Ellis wrote the album while holed up in the Blue Mountains by himself and I would say that this had a definite impact making the tracks quite intimate to listen to.

He’s playing this Saturday at the Troubadour – I’ll be there so much sure to come over and say hi if you see me!

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