Sunday, December 31, 2006

Voters' Choice Poll: Album of 2006

And the winner is...
TV On The Radio - Return To The Cookie Mountain

01. TV On The Radio - Return To Cookie Mountain
This album won by far, clearly beating every other record. Atmospheric, eerie and compelling is what it felt like seeing them in July this year (after a friend's forceful recommendation). At every moment they pounded their sounds with more clashing drum beats and vocals, then ending it with a crisp encore.

TV On The Radio Wolf Like Me

02. Thom Yorke - The Eraser
Radiohead's frontman side project has gone away this year in frenzied hype. Entirely of synthesized electronic material and dark lyrics, the album consists of no drums or guitar whatsoever but the sound is very simple to Yorke's ideas alone. Emotional and experimental as it gets, the album is voted by our readers as second best album of 2006.

Thom Yorke Harrowdown Hill

03. Sunset Rubdown - Shut Up I Am Dreaming
The rougher and rawer side of Wolf Parade's Spencer Krug, the complexity of this album reaches its peak and remains constant throughout the end of each track. You can really notice how much effort towards the production of this album. It's clever lyrics and musical arrangements perfectly composed, certains this album to be a masterpiece in its own right.

Sunset Rubdown They Took A Vote And Said No

04. Belle And Sebastian - The Life Pursuit
Stuart Murdoch still remains as one of the creative geniuses of music. Some fans may be disappointed with the lack of acoustic tracks as previous, but by the number of votes here; everyone still loves Belle And Sebastian. Looks like they are here to stay.

Belle And Sebastian The Blues Are Still Blue

05. Lily Allen - Alright, Still
Lily Allen should be crowned for everything she's done this year. Why? I have no idea. Musically her first single "Smile" shot to number one, she made a parody of 50 Cent's "Window Shopper". She bad mouthed Carl Barat (of Dirty Pretty Things/The Libertines), Luke Pritchard (of The Kooks) and Sir Geldof, calling them twats, cunts and such. But you must admit her songs are ever so catchy and funny.

Lily Allen Alfie

06. be your own PET - be your own PET
be your own PET, a bunch of privileged teenagers with known parents. This album is definetly louder and faster than their previous released singles like Damn Damn Leash, Fire Department and Extra Extra. The lyrics are demanding and make quite a stand in this album. ("I'm an independent mother fucker!"..."Give me everything and I'll brake all your limbs / And I love you so much / so you better love me!")

be your own PET Bunk Trunk Skunk

07. Grizzly Bear - Yellow House
This record was released on my birthday this year and it was certainly a treat. Similar to TV On The Radio but softer and the harmonies are blissful. The sounds just float beautifully.

Grizzly Bear Knife

08. Joanna Newsom - Ys
I'd often compare Newsom's music to a Disney soundtrack, really you can notice her music would suit very well to a lush movie. There are soft moments that rise and slowly drift down, then up again. Joanna creates this magical aurora through her music. Fantastic follow up of The Milk-Eyed Mender.

Joanna Newsom Emily

09. Tapes 'N Tapes - The Loon
I'm guessing majority of Australian bloggers had voted for this after seeing Tapes 'N Tapes earlier this month. Re-released in July by XL Recordings, The Loon is the debut record for this Minnesota band. The energy in performance of this band live is incredibly riveting, especially in the track "Insistor" with just the bass and drums acting on part of the sounds of a heart beat back and forth.

Tapes 'N Tapes Manitoba

10. Ratatat - Classics
I'm not sure how to explain Classics. I really didn't think this would make it into the list. Guitar solos over synthesizers and on top of that hip hop influences. It's quite repetitive; rock, hip hop, electronic? I'm not sure what it is.

Ratatat Lex

11. Regina Spektor - Begin To Hope
Regina's sound has some what progressed over the past albums. It still remains that sort of raw sound of just her vocals and piano but with a few additions to create more of a pop feel rather than a classical ensemble. She's quirky; she's Regina Spektor. However, I really miss that drumstick tapping on the chair.

Regina Spektor Fildelity

12. Gnarls Barkley - St. Elsewhere
Gnarls Barkley literally came out of nowhere and released the track "Crazy" which everyone either loved it or hated it. Soulful psychedelia? I really don't know what to say. Hypnotic, I'd think so.

Gnarls Barkley Smiley Faces

13. Peter Bjorn And John - Writer's Block
With the help from producer Yttling, who's worked with other famous Swedish bands such as Shout Out Louds and The Concretes, it's certainly helped this album to be a fine record. Perfect catchy summer soundtrack.

Peter Bjorn And John Let's Call It Off

14. Final Fantasy - He Poos Clouds
What a title for a record huh? The record is an ode to Dungeons And Dragons; comprises of elegantly eloquent classical pieces of string instruments. This is the second album from violin player Owen Pallett, who's worked with bands such as The Arcade Fire and The Hidden Cameras. Compared to the album "Has A Good Home", this is contains more substance and edgier effect.

Finaly Fantasy Many Lives For 49 MP

15. Cat Power - The Greatest
Most albums released in January tend to be forgotten, but by the looks of it not for Chan Marshall. The sounds on this record are smoother than ever, her vocals compliment each track to make them seem sultry in a way.

Cat Power Living Proof


Saturday, December 30, 2006

Voters' Choice Poll: Australian Album of 2006

This was a first for Off The Record so it was quite exciting yet also troublesome to come up with a list for a poll. The votes have been finalised with all the votes from our readers. A big thank you to everyone who voted, I can tell you there were a lot of close ones who didn't make the list such as Pharaohs, Howling Bells, Augie March, Eddy Current Suppression Ring, Macromantics, The Crayon Fields, Youth Group and The Panda Band. But in the end still yet saw the surprising and of course the well expected records. Majority of the artists are from Melbourne and a few others from Sydney, Brisbane, Canberra and Perth but yet all proved themselves as to also breakthrough successfully internationally or yet to in the future. This list of the top 15 Australian albums range from folk, electronica, pop to punk which shows the diversity of all these hard working albums.
To end it with the last day of the year which is tomorrow, I will announce the list of top 15 albums of 2006. So if you want to get in your last minute votes. Do so because voting lines will end when I make the post.

And the winner is....
The Grates - Gravity Won't Get You High

01. The Grates - Gravity Won't Get You High
"All of a sudden, we just looked at each other and said, "Shit, we have a career" says Paitence on their UK tour, this year. Out of the garage and into a real recording studio for this record, they've re-worked some songs and added various instruments like the banjo, trumphet, piano and various percussions creating their polished tunes. It's a fistful of fun to get you dancing, perhaps just like Paitence herself.

The Grates Nothing Sir

02. Dappled Cities Fly - Granndance
Produced in Los Angeles by Grandaddy's Jim Fairchild, this album is no doubt a huge leap for Dappled Cities Fly. Next year will only get larger with an overseas release both in the UK and US. The interchange of vocals between singers Dave Rennick and Tim Derricourt make this album a collision of brillance.

Dappled Cities Fly Holy Chord

03. Sarah Blasko - What The Sea Wants ,The Sea Will Have
Major radio stations won't touch her, Video Hits won't touch her, but somehow, this singer-songwriter has managed to capture hearts nation wide with a beautifully well structured album that will sink your heart. "Although the lyrics didn't exist before the music, I felt like I could vividly picture a landscape, time or place." explains Sarah. The record is replaced with haunting string arrangements; enchanting.

Sarah Blasko Planet New Year

04. Ground Components - An Eye For A Brow, A Tooth For A Pick
Debut album from Melbourne band, with guest appearance by Macromantics and features a cover of Bob Dylan's song “It’s Alright Ma, I’m Only Bleeding”. They've created a distinct sound with the touch of orchestra instruments heard underneath the frantic screams of singer Joe McGuigan.

Ground Components Our Sunshine

05. Young And Restless - My Knives
They won Triple J's Unearthed competition and played at this year's Homebake festival. Dangerous, brutually fast and loud is how things are for five piece Canberra/Melbourne band Young And Restless. This debut record is a killer of grinding guitars and shrieking vocals. They'll be playing some shows in Melbourne and Adelaide in January and supporting for Cansei De Ser Sexy.

Young And Restless Dirty Kicks

06. Dan Kelly And The Alpha Males - Drowning In The Fountain Of Youth
Possibly the biggest nerd going around in the music biz. Not just because of the way he looks (think Chris Isaac...but younger and sexy) but because he knows how to write a mean song. Summery pop melodies intwined with random jokes. Songs like "The Lonely Coconut", "Baby Sitters Of The World Unite!" and "My Brains Are On Fire! (Life Coach Baby)", you're probably thinking what on earth?

Dan Kelly And The Alpha Males Baby Sitters Of The World Unite!

07. Darren Hanlon - Fingertips And Mountaintops
Story telling folk-pop/folk-rock singer-songwriter Darren Hanlon returns with his third album recorded in a movie theatre in Queensland. This album delivers uplifting songs, it displays a remarkable way of putting good use of quirky lyrics and simple guitar chords to sum up Darren's style of music. Be sure to see him or the other artists at the Candle Records Farewell shows next year if you're in Sydney or Brisbane.

Darren Hanlon Happiness Is Just A Chemical

08. The Drones - Gala Mill
Absolutely no surprise what-so-ever with this entry. This Melbourne band (originally from Perth) have made one hell of a wave world wide and this album only secures them more firmly with their popularity.

The Drones I Don't Ever Want To Change

09. Gotye - Like Drawing Blood
To be honest...I didn't expect this album at all to make it. I've only heard one song from this album and I didn't like it, but obviously there are people out there who think different and have jumped straight onboard with this guy.

Goyte Hearts A Mess

10. Wolf & Cub - Vessels
Officially my runner up favorite Aussie act for the year (Sarah Blasko first of course), these guys are just way way out there. I've mentioned the fact they have two drummers many times, but by god, the two drummers justs makes this band so wonderful and refreshing.

Wolf & Cub Conundrum

11. My Disco! - Cancer
Another surprise. I don't know much about these guys, but I have seen some footage of them playing live and man do they go nuts. The guitarist almost beats the living hell out of guitar and they just go into these whacky solo parts and intense rhythm sections through their songs. A very interesting band indeed.

My Disco! Perfect Protection

12. Midnight Juggernauts - Secrets Of The Universe
If one band knows how to get a party started. These guys could be the answer. Catchy, contagious, unforgettable, so many adjectives could describe the way this band performs. Perfect blend of electronica and rock with combinations of '80s jangly beats and use of a vocoder.

Midnight Juggernauts Tombstone

13. Ned Collette - Jokes And Trials
Major surprise entry. To be honest, I didn't think there were enough people out there who have heard of this guy, but how wrong I was. City City City lead singer makes a solo record that is completely different. Acoustic psychedelic songs to die for. Sliding guitar, finger picking meshed with a choir and violin; combined with random synth beats and other electronics.

Ned Collette The Laughter Across The Street

14. Red Riders - Replica Replica
Catchy melodic rock of ripping riffs and smooth bass lines created a new sound yet typical Red Riders style for this debut album. This record has some what found itself to be quite of a singalong, with tracks like "A.S.P.I.R.N" and "What They Say About Us". The tracks vary from upbeat punk to soft ballads and instrumental. This band is amazing live. Certainly bigger things expected their way in the near future.

Red Riders Slide In Next To Me

15. The Sleepy Jackson - Personality: One Was A Spider, One Was A Bird
What can I say about this record? It is simply one of the best records I've ever heard in my life. Luke Steele has taken his music to a completely new level where there are orchestra's, choirs, and odd instruments that set a theatrical atmosphere. With the added help of Juanita Stein (Howling Bells) and Julian Hamilton (The Presets) it just makes this record even more confusing.

The Sleepy Jackson Devil Was In My Yard

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Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Off The Record Top 15: Part 3 (Grace's Picks)

Indescribably filled with wonderful records by numerous bands, 2006 has possibly been the best year of music for me. How a group of people can put together such an insanely amazing record beats me. Each album to their own, I must comment that it was extremely hard to pick 15 albums, let alone the top spot, but each one was so monumentally terrific in their own right or way, well, they just deserved a spot. Below is my list for the top 15 albums of 2006. Enjoy!

01. M. Ward - Post-War
Undeniably beautiful and soothing music thrown in a thought-provoking album title. You don't see that combination everyday! Perfection. Absolute perfection.

M. Ward Today's Undertaking

02. Love is All - Nine Times That Same Song
The 5-piece Swedish band have got me dancing to their spectacularly manic tunes. Energetic, confident and rowdy and amusing lyrics about liking the same type of cheese. They'll be in Australia in March for Laneway.

Love is All Busy Doing Nothing

03. The Blow - Paper Television
The Blow is one of the most creative duos in indie music history. What appeals to me is its quirky, enigmatic vibe and the witty, playful lyrics - which are sung beautifully. I recently saw them at Newtown Theatre, and it was an amazing experience.

The Blow Babay (Eat a Critter, Feel Its Wrath)

04. Joanna Newsom - Ys
Indulge in lesser known instruments and include a full orchestra. The finished product is eccentric and innocent; everything is whimsical and exquisitely produced.

Joanna Newsom Cosmia

05. TV on the Radio - Return to Cookie Mountain
TV on the Radio is intense and complex. Songs are epic and enthralling and layered, which is heightened further by the execution of certain sounds/effects. Simply amazing!

TV on the Radio Wash the Day

06. Camera Obscura - Let's Get Out Of This Country
I love Camera Obscura. These gentle, nostalgic melodies with melancholic lyrics and wistful vocals make for the most uplifting experience. This is by far the best Camera Obscura album.

Camera Obscura If Looks Could Kill

07. The Long Blondes - Someone To Drive You Home
The Long Blondes appeal to me in every imaginable factor. The image, musically, and the general feeling. It reminds me of the 50s so very much. All songs are incredibly catchy.

The Long Blondes Separated By Motorways

08. Camille - Le Fil
Her songs just radiate with innocence and mysteriousness. They still remain fresh and catchy after many listens and her beatboxing is used to the record's advantage so very well.

Camille J'Ai Tort

09. Belle and Sebastian - The Life Pursuit
It's really a daydream, all songs are so light. While they remain lyrically and musically sound, they have evolved tremendously. Belle and Sebastian never cease to amaze me!

Belle and Sebastian Sukie in the Graveyard

10. Islands - Return to the Sea
From the remains of The Unicorns comes Islands. They are insidiously trippy and so awesomely organic, I love listening to Islands on a sunny day. I can't wait for their second album.

Islands Jogging Gorgeous Summer

11. Nouvelle Vague - Bande à Part
Nouvelle Vague's second album is surprisingly pleasant! I usually gawk at the thought of covers, but these are so seamlessly constructed and are interpreted extremely different to the original, the pay-off is immense.

Nouvelle Vague Dancing With Myself

12. Phoenix - It's Never Been Like That
A strong return from these French gentlemen, Alphabetical was lacking from what United had left off with. Using many simple, but striking musical arrangements, It's Never Been Like That is a smooth as record. I can't wait to catch them at V!

Phoenix Long Distance Call

13. Tilly and the Wall - Bottom of Barrels
The sophomore album from tap-dancing aficionados have returned with the same fun-loving, exuberant warmth I love. Listening to their songs make me want to take up tap-dancing.

Tilly and the Wall Bad Education

14. The Pipettes - We Are The Pipettes
Oh so catchy and reminiscent of the 60s girl groups, it makes you want to dance endlessly. With choreographed dance moves, matching outfits and the cutest backing band, The Pipettes are dazzling.

The Pipettes Pull Shapes

15. Mates of State - Bring It Back
Known for the shifting rhythms, and simultaneous male/female harmonies, the duo have widened their musical palette with this album. Mates of State are still vibrant and thrilling as ever.

Mates of State Think Long


Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Off The Record Top 15: Part 2 (Sandra's Picks)

What I love about doing this part, is taking the time to recognise amazing records that have in some way made my year. I had no trouble compiling my list together but I did have trouble placing them in positions; which I still don't agree with because I'd like to think each of them are in top position in their own different ways. It's the time where I can give considerable mentions to new discoveries I've found but never found the time to make a post about because I was either too late or something. I should remind you there are few days left to vote for album of the year. Votes are still being counted and there is still time. The links are situated on the side menu. I'll announce the list some time in the next few days. For now I'll leave you with my list for Top 15 albums. Downloads are for limited time, after that do your self a favour and purchase these lovely albums.

01. Camera Obscura - Let's Get Out Of This Country
Tracyanne Campbell is certainly a lyrical genius. This is their third album release and the best yet. This is album is more of a diary set to music; every song on this record evokes a 60's feel to it; catchy and upbeat. This music is perfectly its own; bright, nostalgic, melancholic dream pop with wistful female vocals.

Camera Obscura Lloyd, I'm Ready To Be Heartbroken

02. Peter Bjorn And John - Writer's Block
These guys drove Swedish pop into a new direction. Sensitive but intense; capturing the brilliance each song. Whistling and great beats grabbed my attention and straight into my head with Young Folks and Amsterdam. Yeah, so much I made it into the layout of this site. But I must say it fits well to the purpose of Writer's Block.

Peter Bjorn And John Paris 2004

03. The Mint Chicks - Crazy? Yes! Dumb? No!
My favourite band and probably my most anticipated album of the year and I wasn't at all disappointed but rather surprised of the new sound. More pop than punk driven which gave more success to this hardworking New Zealand group. Seeing them live for the first time a few weeks ago really made it more worthy of placing them in this position. Crazy? Yes indeed. The Mint Chicks are amazingly dangerous performers.

The Mint Chicks This Is Your Last Chance To Be Famous My Love

04. Julian Nation - We Are All Writers
I do believe this lo-fi record had been one of my picks for the longest of time and well deserved it is to be on my list. Julian has come a long way of creating perfect simple pure pop tunes and this record is a sure achievement of that. His song writing is
nostalgic, open, honest and sincere, quite like a life time scrapbook with personal entries and photographs.

Julian Nation Appetite For Destruction

05. be your own PET - be your own PET
What a year for be your own PET, being signed to Thurston Moore's label Ecstatic Peace and sadly the departure of drummer Jamin Orrall. This album was definetly a one that made my year with Jemima bringing riot grrl back. Fast paced, trashy, heart pumping, sweaty and certainly not for the old or faint hearted. be your own PET just want to throw a party because us kids want to have Fuuuuun.

Be Your Own Pet Bog

06. The Grates - Gravity Won't Get You High
Alana, John and Patience...a world without them would seem uninteresting and boring. If you've listened to them, seen them live you would understand the fun The Grates deliver. Trampoline jumping, ribbon twirls, head bangs and hyperactive kids. We all need a little bit of The Grates.

The Grates Little People

07. Belle And Sebastian - The Life Pursuit
Three years for the long await for The Life Pursuit and what a record it turned out to be. Different set up to the previous Dear Catastrophe Waitress, but nonetheless another classic Belle And Sebastian record to add to the collection. I was lucky to catch them in June on their tour and amazing they were. Their live performance would among my favourite of this year also.

Belle And Sebastian Funny Little Frog

08. Dappled Cities Fly - Granndance
This is a mature sophomore record for Dappled Cities Fly, within the first few weeks of its release had receive large amounts of praise by the media being voted as Australia's #1 band. They are one my most seen live and enjoyable bands of 2006. The signature falsettos and chaotic pop have some what developed in this record, sounding less like the A Smile days and created the remarkable Granddance.

Dappled Cities Fly Vision Bell

09. Lily Allen - Alright, Still
You have to give it to Lily Allen and the crap NME gave to her. This debut record is a very personal; ranging from bad relationships to a song about her brother being a bum. The songs achieve a great rhythmic sound while the actual lyrics involve laughing at the expense of others. Reggae, soul, pop or ska. I think this is listenable to all.

Lilly Allen Everything's Just Wonderful

10. The Rapture - Pieces Of The People We Love
We all need a dance record and this is certainly my one this year. The Rapture showing us just how they do and how to move our feet once again. This record is aimed specifically at the kids who just don’t dance anymore which lyrics in Whoo! Alright-Yeah...Uh Huh suggests; ("People don’t dance no more / They just stand there like this / They cross their arms and stare you down / and drink and moan and piss.")

The Rapture Don Gon Do It

11. The Long Blondes - Someone To Drive You Home
From the early stages of countless chart topping singles in 2005; The Long Blondes finally set foot and created brilliant full length album. 50’s influence is as apparent on their music and it is in their style. English accents as they get, this album beats fellow Sheffield band Arctic Monkeys by far.

The Long Blondes Swallow Tattoo

12. Tokyo Police Club - A Lesson In Crime
One of my favourite discoveries this year. They've just signed onto Australian label Dew Process Records; home of Sarah Blasko, The Grates and Expatriate. The album is due in Australia in March next year, it's already been released in the UK, US and their home country Canada. You can't deny the hype, this stuff is actually good.

Tokyo Police Club Cheer It On

13. Phoenix - It's Never Been Like That
The ever so catchy smooth sounds of a suave French band never seem to fail me. Though they sing in English, musically they make excellent use of missed beats and pauses in this album; pure brillance. Hopefully I will be able to get my hands on some tickets soon to the V Festival to see them.

Phoenix Lost And Found

14. The Crayon Fields - Animal Bells
Another Melbourne lo-fi artist in this list. Imagine twee going into the depths of darkness. One of the fantastic bands to emerge back into 2006 with a new album. Best record of theirs!

The Crayon Fields Lovely Time

15. The Lovely Feathers - Hind Hind Legs
Quirky and eccentric is described for these insane & disorientated experimental Canadians on their second record. The lyrics are absurd ("Oh! Let’s go outside / Put the car in drive / To the cornfield side / There, / We’ll take off our pants / Kiss the corn and dance / Kiss the corn and romance"), the videos are weird (see Frantic) and well, they're plain fabulously fun. This album's hypnotic and exhilarating to listen to.

The Lovely Feathers In The Valley


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