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The Best Albums of 2016

A few notes on 2016.

I pretty much didn’t hear any chart music. There’s a longer conversation to be had about the large number of people who love music, who would claim music is their lives, but don’t come across what’s trending. But another time – but this list is definitely just the records I somehow come across or knew about.

Listening habits were strange this year. I listen to more podcasts than music. But the iPhone 7’s 256GB storage meant I could finally load 130GB or so of music on there and I’ve gone back to listen to a lot of old stuff. I probably listened to more Lorenz And Hart than Wilco.

I’m not sure if this was a good year for music. For completely self-centred reasons, I found music to be largely lacking in the emotional solace I was looking for. Maybe because it has been a tough year with no easy answers. But the artists who should be providing wisdom were lacking. It ended up being personal stories, and personal records that resonated with me. It’s such a simple trick, one often forgotten, that sometimes all art is about is connecting to another human.

As usual, no friend’s albums on the list, excluding wonderful albums by Adam Gibson and the Ark Ark Birds, Bryan Estepa, Katie Brianna, Jason Walker, The Nature Strip, Fallon Cush and many more.

1. Alex Dezen – Alex Dezen

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This is supposed to be a top 10, but this album I’ve listened to more than the rest of the ten combined. This album is 2016 for me. Dezen was the frontman of The Damnwells (who made my 2nd fave album of 2011) and this is his first solo album. with no commercial restraints or ambitions, he kind of went for it here. It’s an inventive pop/singer songwriter effort, and Dezen plays just about everything.

But the songs. Dezens drags out the demons. Like Revolver, an album pinned by three gorgeously melodic ballads, this album at its heart is the three gut-wrenching ballads; ‘I Don’t Want To Be Alone’ – about how his fear of time trumps his fear of death. It is his mother’s least favourite song. ‘I Have’ – as beautiful song about (in part) not looking at your phone when a friend plays you their music. And ‘Ode To Ex-Girlfriends’ is the kind of novelist detail of stunning lines and memorable images.

There’s a failed marriage, a disappointed mother, and an absent father all taken through the wringer. From the complicated feelings about the killing of Osama Bin Laden to a guitar he shouldn’t have sold. 10 wonderful short stories that I will go back to over and over in years to come.

Songs: Ode To Ex-Girlfriends, I Don’t Want To Be Alone, I Have

2. Sarah Watkins – Young In All The Wrong Ways

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Sarah Watkins of Nickel Creek fame has released solo albums before, but this is a wonderful, rocking, fun album with plenty of heart. If there’s strands to this album it is confidence and empowerment. Watkins is pretty clear on what she wants (‘Move Me‘), which regrets to bury (‘Young In All The Wrong Ways‘) and walking away from bad situations (‘One Last Time‘). It’s an utterly charming album.

In Nickel Creek, she was already the best singer in a band of great singers. There’s not a lot of her trademark fiddle, but she translates that musicianship easily into the guitar, creating stunning moments of power and intimacy when needed. On the track, ‘Like A New Year’s Day‘, was by far the best song-for-making-me-feel-better of 2016. A simple story of a drive to a friend’s house to relax and unwind – the softest kiss of music all year.

Songs: Like A New Year’s Day, One Last Time, Move Me

3. The I Don’t Cares – The I Don’t Cares

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Paul Westerberg teams up with Juliana Hatfield on a rocking new duo, pushing Westerberg to make exactly the same kind of album he’s been making for 30 years. And god it’s a good record. It sounds like it was again recorded in Westerberg’s basement, with lyrics that sound tossed off yet impossibly cool. A heart tangled up by the opposite sex, in a teenage milkshake way. There is, kinda, nothing personal going on here. But it sure is sweet.

It’s hard to know who this album is for. It sounds like a teenage party record – but I don’t think this duo’s audience has parties anymore. So there’s a layer of nostalgia here – this is the type of music, and songs, I used to like when I was a 17 year old discovering The Replacements. A nice place to visit.

Songs: Kissing Break, Back, Just A Phase

4. John Prine – For Better, Or Worse

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John Prine‘s long career got a boost in 1999 with In Spite Of Ourselves an album of duets with the (then) hottest female singers of the alt-country set. That title track became a standard – there’s twenty couples somewhere playing the song right now. For Better, Or Worse is the sequel, with some newer country singers, alt-country but a memory.

The joy of this album is hearing (and discovering) these old duets, usually from the 1930s (‘Falling In Love Again’) to the TV honky tonks of the 1960s (‘Mr & Mrs Used To Be‘, originally by Ernest Tubb and Loretta Lynn). The songs are a snapshot of love from a different era. Married early, lots of alcoholism and fighting – you can’t help but think it’s a slightly more honest portrayal of a relationship than, say, The Bachelor.

The other real highlight from this album is how it sounds. Clear as crystal, laid back Bakersfield country. It sounds like one mic, recorded live, with great musicians. Pretty sure Hank (who has a song covered here, and whose granddaughter Holly Williams sings on a track) would have done it this way. Let’s hope there’s a third volume in another 17 years.

Songs: Falling In Love Again, Mental Cruelty, Just Waitin’

5. Emmy The Great – Second Love

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One of my favourite albums ever is Central Reservation by Beth Orton. Her album this year was a return to electronica – it was a bit underwhelming. Which is a long way around to Emmy The Great, another  British singer songwriter, who dived into electronica and came out with something dramatic, deep and lovely.

I guess she was probably on the path to being a nice indie pop person, in the vein of Kate Nash. I really loved her last album. But it seems like a break-up (with her famous boyfriend) and discovering America has made something more interesting. I always find the best electronica creates this distance between the listener, and then great songs or great ideas break through with more impact. Newly single Emmy tells fascinating tales of finding her feet again. One arresting image (one of many) is being taken to a bar where the drinks cost more than music.

Songs: Social Halo, Swimming Pool, Algorithm

6. Wilco – Schmilco

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Wilco were once my favourite band. But around 2009, after seeing about 150 shows and sitting through too many noodle-y versions of the same songs, I drifted away. I bought every record since, listened to each a few times, they were fine. I wouldn’t say Schmilco is a return to form, but it’s closer to what I like about the band – acoustic, slow, thoughtful, tender, basically American Beauty.

I’d be pretty happy if this band pumped out one of these records a few times a decade, mixed with a couple of rocking ones or whatever. It’s like Neil Young. Happy to hear what he’s up to, but I love Silver And Gold and I love Prairie Wind. Schmilco joins Sky Blue Sky as laid back hippie Wilco. It’s not their best work – but it’s what I like.

Songs: Cry All Day, North American Kids, If I Ever Was A Child

7. Teenage Fanclub – Here

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No one’s had a good year, and we’ve all needed comfort. Hello Teenage Fanclub, the biggest comfort band there is. I’m not sure this album breaks any new ground. In fact, the last three Fanclub records seem to refine what they do. There’s a song on here called ‘Hold On‘. Initially, I was disappointed – they already have a (great) song called ‘Hang On‘ – thinking the well was dry. But you can’t have too many hugs, and if anything, we need these quietly positive songs even more.

I once remarked that all my favourite songs say the same thing – life is hard, but with you by my side, we can leave this bad situation behind. Teenage Fanclub mine that idea at medium heat, and it’s the joy of slowly sinking into a warm bath. Not that the album is boring – it’s full of great riffs, great solos, and great singing. It just doesn’t feel the need to show off. Who wants to start a TFC covers band?

Songs: Darkest Part Of The Night, I’m In Love, Thin Air

8. Paul Simon – Stranger To Stranger

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I’ve always had Paul Simon. So when he sings, on this album, about looking for Proof Of Love, I feel like I’ve been looking for the same thing for decades. Through ‘Homeward Bound‘, ‘America‘ to ‘Outrageous‘ and ‘Questions For the Angels‘, his search for human connection has soundtracked my own. Which is to say – I’m utterly blind to this man’s faults. I guess I can see he’s a bit short.

The old crowd (boomer era critics) praise the latest Simon records for their adventurous sounds and strange touches. It doesn’t actually sound that much different to your run of the mill indie band, say like Magnetic Fields. The strange buzz of feedback and the odd sample are hardly adventurous. But he’s still a phenomenal writer, a cataloguer of love as it gets old and remains strong. And there’s a healthy Randy Newman-esque cynicism and quite a bit of humour – in his own way. Wristband tells the story of being locked out by security for one of his shows, but he turns it into a bigger thought like a great master can do. and how can you beat a line like – “most obits are mixed reviews.”

Songs: Proof Of Love, The Werewolf, Wristband

9. Whitney – Light Upon The Lake

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Whitney‘s debut record has made some best of lists, and yeah – it’s a bit hipster nonsense. But the album sounds amazing – and it’s very fun. It’s not a head record – it’s one for the hips and one for the feet. I know they are supposed to sound 70s, but it really sounds like a 90s band doing 70s – like Sloan or Phoenix. Or more modern precedents like Real Estate or Avi Buffalo. This was the record most likely to make me break out into a dance when on my headphones.

Maybe having something to say would detract from what this album is trying to do – it’s not a lyricist trying to get a worldview across. It’s a broadly romantic record, with more than a little sweetness. But it’s more about that trumpet, that rush of bass and that high lonesome vocal. It’s fun, and let’s hope there’s more in them.

Songs: No Matter Where We Go, No Woman, Dave’s Song

10. The Last Shadow Puppets – Everything You’ve Come To Expect

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The first album by The Last Shadow Puppets is one of my favourite albums, a perfect surprise of an album. This album, 8 years (i.e. the entire Beatles recording career) later, is like another band entirely. Gone is the heartbroken Scott Walker, and back is Alex Turner’s desperate need to be Nick Cave. Like the last several Arctic Monkeys albums, there’s a lot of dramatic and dangerous women.

This is more Bowie (they’ve been covering ‘Moonage Daydream‘) here than Bacharach, with much heavier guitars and tempos. Iggy Pop, Queens Of the Stone Age, the Bad Seeds at their baddest…all mixed in here. From their videos, they look like they may have learnt drugs. It’s a ballsy, crazy arrogant album. When Turner and Kane decide to write tunes – like the magnificent ‘Miracle Aligner‘ – the album really shines. But it’s fascinating anyway.

Songs: Miracle Aligner, Sweet Dreams TN, The Dream Synopsis

Here’s a YouTube playlist of my favourite 2016 songs that had videos. It includes tracks from the ten above.

An open letter to Sydney Boys High Old Boys Union

11091222_10153161846407177_7697898537798979903_nAs SBHS Old Boys, as well as friends and family of Old Boys, we stand in outrage and disgust at the Old Boys Union’s decision to invite Scott Morrison to speak at the Spilling the Beans function, April 15th 2015. We call on the OBU to immediately rescind the invitation so as to spare the organisation, and the school itself, the embarrassment of being seen to celebrate the achievements of a man who has so flagrantly disregarded human rights.

In his capacity as Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Morrison was at best complicit, and at worst the chief protagonist, in advocating offshore immigration detention policies that violate the United Nations Convention against Torture. In March 2015, the UN special rapporteur on torture, Juan Mendez, found that Australia’s Regional Processing Centres violated the right of asylum seekers, including children, to be free from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, as provided by articles 1 and 16 of the Convention. We note that the Convention against Torture proscribes torture as an international crime, and calls on all signatory states to prosecute or extradite individuals who have directly perpetrated or otherwise authorised torture. The UN’s Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has also condemned Morrison’s detention policy. Further, the Australian Human Rights Commission found that policy championed by Morrison and other Ministers of Immigration have caused asylum seeker children significant mental and physical illness and developmental delays.

We are ever mindful of the need for a robust public sphere, in which free political discourse, dissent and contrasting opinions are allowed to flourish. This is not a question of restricting freedom of speech, but instead reflects the desire not to tacitly endorse the actions of a man who has demonstrated callous disregard for human rights. It is cruel and insensitive for the Union to laud this man’s connection to the school, its graduates, and their families.

We call on the Union to rescind Morrison’s invitation.

If you are an old boy and want join the petition, please email oldboysagainstmorrison@gmail.com with your name and years of attendance at Sydney Boys High.

Signees (650+)

Nick Apoifis (1993-1998)
Danny Yau (1993-1994)
Ben Willing (1987-1992)
Louis Huynh (1993-1998)
Dominic Bowes (2003-2008)
Lewis d’Avigdor (2001-2006)
Osman Faruqi (2006-2007)
Miles Portek (1996-2001)
Muhilan Sriravindrarajah (1996-2001)
Deme Karikios (1993-1998)
Nic Lochner (2003-2008)
Joseph McIvor (1996-2001)
Daniel O’Keefe (2003-2008)
James Trezise (1996 – 2001)
Ashwin Thomas (2003-2008)
Ari Fester (1993-1998)
Costa Avgoustinos (1996-2001)
Slava Nossar (2001-2006)
Christopher Jahja (2001-2006)
Neal Downward (1996-2001)
Desmond Bellamy (1964-69)
Joe Blackshield (2002-2007)
Shaihan Azad (2002-2007)
Philip Tripp (2000-2005)
Craig Lundy (1994-1998)
Rafi Alam (2004-2009)
Alexander Apoifis (1995-2000)
Romesh Abeysuriya (2001-2006)
Kyle Solomon (1998-2002)
Kenny Huang (2001–2006)
Peter Yue Wang (2001-2006)
Jack Gough (2000-2005)
Benjamin Chow (2001-2006)
Alexander Vertoudakis (2002-2007)
Brynley Pfull (2003-2008)
Johan Santoso (2004-2009)
Joshua Hui (2003-2008)
James Yau (1993-1998)
James Kilburn-Watt (1996-2001)
Luke Nye (1993-1998)
Pierre Bush (1994-1998)
Eddy Blaxell (2001-2006)
David Kaldor (1997-2002)
Ben Garber (1993-1998)
Adrian Pluis (1998-2004)
Daniel Lambert (2004-2009)
Tony Zafirakos (1997-2002)
David Kelly (1966-1971)
Alex Kelly (1999-2004)
Dean Kelly (1993-1998)
Michael Tokar (1996-2001)
Joel Kamerman (2001-2006)
Avi Knoll (2002-2006)
Andrew Johnston (1992-1997)
Anthony Tuan Dao (1993-1998)
Jacob Burge (1993-1998)
Gregory Nguyen (2001-2006)
Vikram Chowdhary (1993-1998)
Zane Pearson (1995-2000)
Rory Pearson (2001-2006)
David Leon (1995-2000)
Frederick William Lee (2001-2006)
Mitchell Allen (1993-1998)
Anthony Knittel (1992-1997)
Andrew Light (1996-2001)
Martin Lunney (2001-2006)
Timothy Hunt (1996–2001)
Robert Skerman (1993-1998)
Nakul Bhagwat (2006-2011)
Phil Rigg (1998-2003)
Kim Dickson (1999-2004)
Joon Kwon (2001-06)
Sam Poulter (1994-1999)
Mack Wan (2005-2006)
Karl Grenet (1994-1999)
Geoff Ash (1972-1977)
Benjamin Wang (2003-2008)
Michael Slezak (1994-1999)
Anthony Chau (2000-2005)
Eddie Foo (1993-1998)
Samuel Faigen (1994-1999)
Andrew Hau (2006-2011)
John Wormell (2005-2010)
Jamie Croft (1994-1999)
David Harris (1999-2002)
Vincent Salomon (1995-2000)
Ziggy Harrison-Tikisci (2003-2008)
Phil Sullivan (1994-1999)
Ben Friis-O’Toole (1999-2004)
Tom Crocker (1996-2001)
Daniel Ghezelbash (1997-2002)
Mayuran Suthersan (1996-2001)
Casey Nicholson (1993-1998)
Robbie Moore (1995-2000)
Jack Clegg (1994-1999)
Alexander Reznick (1996-2001)
Rahul Dubey (1995-2000)
Thomas Diep (2006-2011)
Hal Wootten AC QC. (1935-1939)
Lachlan Brown (2004-2009)
Victor Wei (2001-2006)
Carl Warning (1994-1999)
Will Fry (1994-1999)
Benson Ou (2006-2011)
Michael Oppermann (1994-1999)
Marcus James (2008-2013)
Kevin Lin (2006-2011)
Patrick Gallego (2006-2007)
James E Menzies (2003-2008)
Daniel Smith-Light (2005-2010)
Tom Kaldor (2000-2005)
Jesse Moffat (2009-2012)
Shahar Merom (2003-2009)
Moussa Farhat (2002-2007)
Kevin Li (2006-2011)
Jack Burney (2003-2008)
Anthony Nemeth (1993-1998)
Nicholas Chew (1994-1999)
Nathan Kwok (2003-2008)
Charles Heathfield Dodgson (1972-1977)
Adam Booth (2009-2012)
Oliver Dwyer (1993-1998)
Oliver Cashman (1999-2004)
Serag Saleh (2007-2012)
Sacha Coles (1985-1990)
Isaac Eveleigh (2006-2011)
Marco Stojanovik (2008-2013)
Raphael Dascalu (1994-1998)
Jordan Rastrick (1997-2002)
Alistair Taylor (2003-2008)
James Slezak (1990-1995)
Adrien Auzou (2006-2011)
Nicholas Landreth (1995-2000)
Alex Ivanov (1994-1999)
Yoo-Chyon Lee (1985-1990)
Jacky Chen (2004-2009)
Andrew Gaffney (2006-2011)
Robert Ignjatic (1992-1997)
Francis Lin (2006-2011)
Ilya Bonch-Osmolovskiy (2006-2011)
Varan Perananthan (2003-2008)
James Lafiatis (1990-1995)
Kin Pan (2008-2013)
James Gerofi (1999-2004)
Youssef Saleh (2007-2008)
Julian Byrnes (2004-2009)
Dougall Norris (2006-2007)
Sam Marques (2007-2012)
Edwin Fernandes (1995-2000)
Andrew Bennie (1992-1997)
Chris Maltby (1968-1973)
James Elphick (1993-1998)
Ben Chesterman (1985-1990)
Andrew Lim (2003-2008)
Keegan Au (1995-2000)
Sheikh Siddiqui (2006-2011)
Robert Chen (2003-2008)
Dustin Bookatz (1996-2001)
Owen Duffy (2008-2013)
Vincent Tsui (2003-2008)
Alexander Wong (1999-2004)
David Sygall (1985-1990)
Nye Rozea (1995-2000)
Krishan Sivayogarayan (2006-2011)
Joshua Freiman (2002-2007)
Gary Lord (1976-1982)
Daniel Keogh (2008-2013)
Atif Syed (2000-2005)
Simon Tracey (1985-1990)
Terence Zhou (2008-2013)
Daniel Chen (2006-2011)
Mischa Steen (2000-2005)
Ted Popper (1973-1974)
Tasneem Choudhury (2004-2009)
John Luu (2002-2007)
Nishan Abeysuriya (2004-2009)
Benjamin Holzman (1996-2001)
Charley Liu (2004-2009)
Michael Glass (1993-1998)
Chris Evans (2004-2009)
Iliya Boulos (2001-2006)
Malik Razeen (2001-2006)
David Lumsdaine (1945-1949)
Peter Fagan (1996-2002)
Thariq Razeen (2001-2006)
Edwin Montoya Zorrilla (2003-2008)
Daniel Liu (1999-2004)
Gil Morris (teacher 1971-1980)
Sameer Al-Ameen (2002-2007)
Neerav Bhatt (1994-1999)
Stephen Conry (1977-1982)
Paul Pang (2005-2006)
Ritam Mitra (2004-2009)
Glenn Fraser (1980-1985)
Justin van Stom (1978-1981)
Lachlan Burnham (1985-1990)
Mark Matillano (1995-2000)
Chong Shao (2001-2006)
Lachlan Spark (1992-1997)
Rodrigo Manahan (2007-2012)
Bishoy Eskander (1999-2004)
Jonathan Alexander (1995-2000)
Alon Ilsar (1994-1999)
Michael Fischer (1965-70)
Shaun Walsh (1992-1997)
Peter Bazzana (1968-1973)
Sahir Syed (2001-2006)
Demitri Voulgaropoulos (1985-1990)
Cambridge Wong (2002-2007)
Nathan Guerry (1997-2002)
Ben Pearson (1981-86)
Nicholas Procopiadis (1977-1982)
Leo Byron (1997-2001)
Daniel Conway (1983-1986)
Andreas Purcal (2007-2012)
Ivan Marinkovic 1994-1999
Jim Koukouras (2007 – 2012)
Michail Schwarz (2009-2012)
Jed Coppa (2004-2008)
Patrick Locke (2003-2008)
Matt Mulroney (1997-2003)
Matthew Reid (1970-1975)
Sean Chen (1999-2004)
Phu Tang (1998-1999)
Joshua Scharfegger (2000-2005)
David Yang (2000-2005)
Aaron Shuttleworth (2002-2007)
Barry Kelly (1964-1969)
Godwin Wang (2002-2007)
Suk Hee Lee (1995-2000)
Ravi Amirthalingam (1998-2003)
Hunter Millar (1995-2000)
Michael Prior (2005-2007)
Gordon Wong (1993-1998)
David Grenet (1998-2003)
Kelvin Wong (2002-2007)
John Seroukas (2011-2014)
John Pilger (1952-1957)
Geoff Hodgkinson (1987-1992)
Nick Hannan (2005-2006)
Soon Nyean Chin (1993-1998)
John Buencamino (1993-1998)
Thomas Wai-Chun Lung (1999-2004)
Robbie Girdler (1999-2004)
Matthew Osinski (2004-2009)
Fred Kimel (1993-1998)
Jae Jung (1993-1998)
Blake Druery (1993-1998)
Paul Watzlaff (2000-2005)
Viv Paul (1997-2002)
James Vu (2005-2010)
Ben Glass (1999-2004)
Russell Ward (1983-1988)
John Hodgkinson (1958-1962)
Adnan Husaini (2002-2007)
Gabriel Knowles (1995-2001)
Conor Hannan (1998-2003)
Rupert Hoang (1995-2000)
Michael Coutts (2002-2007)
Sabeeh Hussain (2002-2007)
Ron Goldstein (1998-2004)
Phil Sloggett (1998-2003)
David Lucas (1972-1977)
Sacha Molitorisz (1981-1986)
Graeme Coss (1969-1974)
Maximus Jones (2007-2012)
Oliver Heath (1992-1995)
Anthony Xu (2006-2011)
Adam Bedford (1997-2002)
Harry Oppermann (1959-1963)
Patrick Dodgson (1964-1969)
Joshua Meyer (1993-1998)
Damian James (1983-1987)
Raiyan Khan (2007-2010)
Geoff Meers (1972-1977)
Lok So (1981-1982)
Sam Anderson (1997-2002)
Robert Simons (1990-1995)
Vincent Nguyen (2001-2006)
Ken Shao (2006-2011)
Aaron Chong (2001-2006)
David Ma (2005-2010)
Blake Angell (2001-06)
Robert Wills (1958-1962)
Alexander Pereira (2010-2013)
Arthur Manolias (1984-1989)
Stuart Cranston (1977-1981)
Monaj Bari (2000-2005)
David Farrington (1996-2001)
Arghya Gupta (2001-06)
Benjamin Agnew (1990-1995)
Justin Garber (1997-2002)
Karl Mayerhofer (1990-1995)
Justin Walls (1981-1986)
Tom Clark (1989-1990)
Harrison Reid (2003-2008)
Jason Motbey (1985-1987)
John Kampfner (1957-1962)
Alice Ferguson (1995-2000)
Paul Wong (2000-2005)
Dave Aitchison (1972-1977)
Sean Martin (2008-2011)
Masnun Kayes (2004-2009)
Robert Lu (2005-2010)
David Hills (1967-1972)
Nick Seow (1994-1999)
Suman Prusty (2007-2012)
Michael Zhang (2005-2010)
James Salter (1995-2000)
Mike Roache (1986-1991)
Rick Sinclair (1958- 1962)
Eric Chan (1993-1998)
Andric Leong (2001-2006)
William Xu (1996-1998)
Ujin Lee (1983-1988)
Adrian Kuti (1996-2001)
William Silk (1957-1962)
Marc Bennie (1992-1997)
Patrick Tooth (1974-1979)
Quoc-Hai Luu (1997-2001)
Matthew Chun-Hin So (2006-2011)
Aleksandr Yap (1986-1991)
Sebastian Oliveiro (1983-1988)
Stefan Couani (1965-70)
David Symonds (1987-1992)
Benjamin Howell (1988-1992)
Stan McDonald (1952–1955)
Henry Chapple-Cox (1996-2001)
Ben Golder (1992-1997)
Gary Stein (1975-1980)
Alex Gibbeson (1995-2000)
Simon Lee (2004-2009)
Arun Krishnan (2004-2009)
Tahmid Shahriyar (2006-2011)
James Claringbold (1958-1963)
Blake Williamson (1984-1989)
Justin Fox (1987-1992)
Leo Gordon (2005-2010)
Stephen Hansen (1964-1965)
Michael Martin (1995-2000)
Stephen Hunt (1994-1998)
Alex Whyte (1998-2003)
Robert Klein (1975-1980)
Brendan Gallagher (1995-2000)
Ram Varanasi (1994-1999)
Mark Francis (1978-1981)
Kerani Wright (1978-1983)
Edd Pearson (teacher, 2000-2009)
Paul Kim (1997-2002)
Max Koslowski (2011-present)
Dat Huynh (1999-2004)
Ishmam Bari (2006-2011)
Varun Sethi (2006-2011)
Jeffrey Klein (1972-1978)
Victor Nguyen (2002-2007)
Tony Elliott (1987-1992)
Bryant Apolonio (2004-2009)
Rex Chan (1993-1998)
James Russell (1987-1992)
Sameep Sandhu (2005-2010)
Oscar McLaren (1995-2000)
Ian Heads (1955-1960)
Nathan Frazi (2000-2005)
Jacob Stretton (2000-2005)
Michael Hughes (2009-2014)
Lalitha Katupitiya (2007-2012)
Ryan Dewan (2008-2013)
Joshua Tassell (2004-2010)
Sean Garber (1992-1997)
Mark Samarasinghe (2001-2006)
Calum York (2008-2013)
Edward Hibbert (2001-2006)
Andrew Whiley (1977-1979)
Brendan Leo (2006-2011)
Albert Nguyen (2006-2011)
Declan McCrea-Steele (2005-2010)
Adrian Bancilhon (1993-1996)
Abeer Khan (2007-2012)
Mike Harris (1997-1998)
David Chan (2006-2011)
Vineet Singh (2006-2011)
Simon Ho (1993-1998)
Ian Walsh (1961-1965)
Michael Chen (2002-2007)
Alexey Feigin (1999-2002)
Rik Jurcevic (1975-1979)
Peter Huang (2000-2005)
Will Randles (2007-2012)
Tim Molloy (2004-2007)
Karl Petersson (1998-1999)
Kyrn Stevens (1974-1979)
John Macleod (1993-1998)
Thandiwe Philips (1999-2004)
Gareth D’Souza (1990-1995)
Isnad Zaman (2006-2011)
Kanchan Bandyopadhyay (1991-1992)
Terry O’Brien (1961-1967)
Ajay Balachandran (2003-2008)
Aditya Naik (2002-2007)
David Smith (1993-1998)
Nicholas Daunt Watney (1993-1997)
Tony Maynard (1974-1979)
Eugene Schofield-Georgeson (1995-2000)
Jeremy Glass (1965-1970)
Jonathan Berengut (1992-1997)
Shanaz Razeen (2006-2011)
Gavin Angus-Leppan (1976-1981)
Alan Quinlan (1961-1965)
Riley Mansfield (1998-2001)
Tom Ryan (1992-1997)
Hugo Cottier (1982-1987)
Ben Wood (1991-1996)
Bipro Das (1987-1992)
Lloyd Weir (1982 – 1987)
Lloyd Perris (2009-2012)
Denis Stojanovic (2004-2009)
Ruark Lewis (1977-1978)
Sam Christie (1985-1987)
Andrew Stone (1999-2004)
Alvin Lung (1995-2000)
Paul Stein (1953-1956)
Richard Windsor (1952-1956)
Josh Itzkowic (1993-1998)
Martyn Green (1959-1963)
Kim Ryan (1975-1980)
Gethin Lynes (1989-1994)
Peter Slezak (1959-1963)
Gary Lee (1990-1995)
Andrew Aitchison (1977-1982)
Chris Parry (1982-1987)
Paul Crisford (1988-1993)
Paul Pearce (1968-1973)
Greg Sullivan (1977-1982)
Clayton Talbot (1990-1995)
Shay Deguara (1988-1993)
Benjaming Ng (1990-1995)
Chris Caley (1990-1995)
Peter Alsop (1985-1987)
Kevin Phan (2006-2011)
Peter Godfrey (1999-2004)
Jeff Johnson (1988-1993)
William Cate (1989-1994)
Adam Mckenzie (1999-2004)
Jason Phu (2002-2007)
Florian Honeyball (1995-2000)
Daniel Chiu (2003-2008)
Samuel Bray (1987-1994)
Jo Stewart (1976-1981)
Vitaliy Tsitalovskiy (2002-2007)
Sebastian Czernuszyn (1990-1995)
Steven Harris (1989-1994)
Randal Lawrence (1964-1969)
Biba Honnet (1990-1995)
Peter Stone (1968-1973)
David Ghezelbash (2009-2012)
Christopher Budd (2001-2006)
Albion Harrison-Naish (1990-1995)
John Prior (1972-1977)
Geoffrey Waugh (1961)
Daniel Thomson (1990-1995)
Brad Kim (1990-1995)
Clinton Garofano (1975-1980)
Matthew Cumming (1974-1979)
Jack Wachsmann (2004-2009)
Milton Baar (1969-1974)
Warren Bernhard Logge (1999-2004)
Keith O’Brien (1967-1969)
Siddharth Sethi (2008-2012)
Richard Buckdale (1958-1959)
Philip Thalis (1972-1977)
John Dempsey (1963-1969)
Bill Russo (1964-1969)
Marcus De Giorgio (1990-1995)

SGHS Old Girls
Louisa Fitz-Gerald (1997-1999)
Rebecca Reay-Young (1988)
Bryony Gerofi (2001-2006)
Skye Rose (1993-1998)
Laurajane Smith (1978-1979)
Miranda Smith (2004-2009)
Sarah Nam (1999-2004)
Lindsay Clement-Meehan (1996-2001)
Simone Krauss (2000-2001)
Melanie Ciddor (2000-2005)
Michelle Simon (1993-1998)
Arabella Lee (1982-1987)
Suzanne Dixon (1959-1963)
Jemma Hollonds (2000-2002)
Kristie Karikios (1996-2001)
Debbie Irwin (teacher, 1997-2002)
Chris McAlister (1995-2000)
Joanne Hogan (1997-2002)
Lara Goodridge (1984-1988)
Renee Boucher (1995-2000)
Shannon Longhurst (2002-2007)
Peta Longhurst (2000-2005)
Aishah Moore (1997-2002)
Holly Lam (1995 – 2000)
Samara Harris (1988-1991)
Ivana Kovac Kuti (1999-2002)
Noni Edwards (1988-1993)
Grace Leung (1995-2000)
Fiona Liang (1997-2002)
Claire Disney (1998-2003)
Jen Allison (1994-1999)
Karen Allison (1996-2001)
Bachmai Ledinh (1991-1996)
Rebecca Bowman (1988-1991)
Theodora Bowering (1993-1998)
Fifi Luong-Ward (1988-1991)
Emma Torzillo (1999-2003)
Julia Plumb (2000-2005)
Hilary Taylor (1988-1993)
Ruby Lew (2008-2013)
Lily Isabella Olsson (2008-2013)
Tracey He (2008-2013)
Elysha Clark Whitney (2008-2013)
Jessica Glass (1991-1993)
Alex Gibbeson (1995-2000)
Kelly Jeng (2000-2005)
Justine Davis (1978-1983)
Michaela Kalowski (1988-1993)
Imogene Tudor (1995-2000)
Laura Joseph (1996-2001)
Dara Read (1993-1998)
Janet Salem (1993-1998)
Charlotte Bazin (1995-2000)
Tabitha Laffernis (2001-2006)
Monica Dong-Chang (2008 – 2013)
Poppy Burnett (2002-2007)
Julia Dray (2000-2005)
Edwina Paul (2005-2007)
Katarina Bowes (2000-2003)
Heidi Tai (2001-2006)
Shivaun Conn (1993-1998)
Christine Pearson (1963-1968)
Deborah Linker (1983-1988)
Jacqueline Purcell (1996-1988)
Gelina Montierro (2001-2006)
Rosa Nolan (2003-2008)
Nina Ubaldi (2003-2008)
November Gray (1984-1989)
Katie Hepworth (1990-1996)
Elaine Lin (2001-2006)
Helen Rydstrand (2003-2004)
Kirsty Deane (1994-1999)
Navila Rahman (2007-2012)
Harriet Hope Streeter (2004-2009)
Rose Tracey (1988-1993)
Fiona Lau (1991-1996)
Laura Schmertmann (2001-2006)
Skye O’Neill (1988-1993)
Nanette Pakula (1978-1983)
Poomitta Parker Sivachandran (2003-2008)
Natalia Sen Gupta (1993-1998)
Kate Barker (1988-1993)
Bridget Martin (2001-2006)
Sophia Zou (2008-2013)
Samantha Freiman (2001-2006)
Katrina Lee (1994-1999)
Melody Willis (1998–1993)
Helena Du (2008-2013)
Alice Wu (1995-2000)
Rebecca Elwing (1983-1985)
Anthea Charalambous (1997-2002)
Cindy Lee (1993-1998)
Serena Yu (1993-1998)
Nadine Cohen (1994-1999)
Ellen Buissink (1993-1998)
Alison de Vos (1995-2000)
Alyssa Trotter (1999-2004)
Zoe Roberts (1996-2001)
Jaimie Ho (2001-2006)
Anh Tran-Nam (1999-2004)
Sally Cantelo (1989-1994)
Parima Vyas (2003-2008)
Parris Kent (1985-1989)
Beth Powditch (1984-1989)
Alena Turley (1984-1989)
Natalie O’Brien (2004-2005)
Lisa Shillan (1994-1999)
Ratna Pillai (2002-2007)
Helen MacLeod (1999-2004)
Stephanie Duong (1999-2004)
Tammi Vuong (2001-2006)
Samanta Lestavel (2005-2010)
Sarah Cottier (1976-1981)
Alexi Warn (1988-1993)
Margaret Franke (1981-1986)
Stephanie Paton (2003-2004)
Renee Wirth (1991-1996)
Naomi Hart (1991-1996)
Wenny Theresia (1997-2002)
Nancy Lovato (1991-1993)
Jesse Adams Stein (1996-2001)
Arana Parslow (1993-1998)
Danielle Gleeson (1991-1996)
Amelia Walter (1997-2002)
Alexandra Hill (1981-1986)
Lotte St Clair (1990-1995)
Maeve Marsden (1996-2001)
Elizabeth Wright (1956-1960)
Tamara Angus (1983-1988)
Emma Rennie (1978-1981)
Lucia Elliott (1977-1981)
Kaaren Peterson (1975-1978)
Ella O’Keefe (1998-2003)
Rosanna Asplet (1996-2001)
Xanthe Heubel (1993-1998)
Courtney Jacques (1998-2003)
Vanessa Sim (1998-2003)
Penelope Glass (1969-1974)
Shay Deguara (1988-1993)
Esther Lee (2001-2006)
Harriet Johnson (2001-2003)
Analiese Cairis (1976-1981)
Prue Bentley (1993-1998)
Lisa McIntyre (1996-2001)
Elena Garcia (1976-1981)
Beth Hill (1998-2003)
Alma Mistry (1998-2003)
Angela Bennetts (1994-1999)
Roslyn Ruth Blake (1961-1965)
Christina Ong (1996-2001)
Naomi Lee (1976-1981)
Tahlia Birnbaum (1998-2003)
Zoe Crane (1990-1995)
Carla La Cioppa (1998-2003)
Mary Farquharson (1955-1959)
Juliette Bates (2000-2001)
Belinda Heygate (1989-1994)
Sarah Tooth (1976-1981)
Melissa Mason (1998-2003)
Susan Shehadie (1982-1987)
Sigrid Langker (1984- 1987)
Cheryl Jones (1975–1980)
Joanne Charley (1976-1981)
Lisa Salas (1989-1994)
Leisha Deguara (1993-1995)
Jessica Jin (2007-2012)
Eleanor Bath (2001-2006)
Emily Weight (1989-1994)
Rebecca Lea Weekes-Randall (1995-2000)
Diane Sivasubramaniam (1991-1996)
Venus Yip (2001-2006)
Melissa Holmes (1980-1982)
Dinalie Dabarera (2000-2005)
Amy Persson (1995-1998)
Natalie Reilly (1989-1994)

My Favourite Album Podcast – Hourly, Daily

hourly-daily-1

I recently sat down with my friend Jeremy for his wonderful podcast My Favourite Album. I chose to talk about ‘Hourly, Daily‘, the third record by You Am I. There’s a bit about how I discovered the record, but plenty of fun little facts about this album. I once submitted a proposal to write a 33 1/3 book about this album. Maybe I will write it one day regardless.

You can listen to it here

Or better still, read about the episode, or find it on iTunes.

Top 10 films of 2013

OK. I haven’t actually seen everything. Inside Llewyn Davis, The Grandmaster, Nebraska and a couple of others could probably be here if anyone in Australia would release it. Here’s the top 10 of the films I saw.

About Time
Richard Curtis

A beautiful film. Richard Curtis uses time travel like in ‘Midnight In Paris’ – it makes no sense, but it feels right. A man with the ability to time travel goes about his normal life, falls in love and does everything with extra time. Several scenes are as inventive as anything romantic comedy, with the number one for me the Maida Vale tube station scene. A year of a relationship plays out at the same tube stop, while Bellowhead plays How Long Will I Love You? (originally by the Waterboys). It will make you cry, and love life. An unexpected delight this year.

Before Midnight
Richard Linklater

I’ve followed Celine and Jesse for almost 20 years now, so I was as excited as anyone to see this. And it exceeded those expectations. We pick up 9 years later, we’ve moved into somewhere more, of course, older and more mature. The amazing, 14 minute single cut car scene shows that there is still filmmaking ambtions – it’s not just two people talking. But the talking – heartbreaking as ever – that really makes it a classic. The only perfect trilogy.

Up On Poppy Hill
Goro Miyazaki

Studio Ghibli’s films are some of the most universally acclaimed in all history of cinema. So another good one is kind of not a story anymore. But I found myself lost in the Umi’s world, as she tries to just get through her teenage concerns. Ghibli has tried to make a down to earth teenage story before (such as Ocean Waves), but they finally nailed it. Umi is such a great character, and not since ET has riding a bike seem so exciting on film.

The World’s End
Edgar Wright

A clever inversion of the classic Edgar Wright film: Nick Frost is the hero, Simon Pegg the weirdo. It’s another great sci fi film, where someone (Wright) has built the world from scratch. A world of British pubs, and with the usual mind bending easter eggs on rewatch.

Gravity
Alfonso Cuaron

I sometimes pick up my cats and swoosh them around, and saying ‘save me George Clooney!”. Anyway, the biggest technical achievement of 2013. Plus a hugely emotional watch.

The Look Of Love
Michael Winterbottom

A fantastic, sprawling biopic about the Mayor of Soho. The right mix of sleazy and heart, with Imogen Poots stealing the show.

American Hustle
David O’Russell

Like Argo, just hugely enjoyable. The cast is so good, the Oscars need to introduce a handicap system.

Alan Partidge: Alpha Papa
Declan Lowney

My favourite pure comedy of the year. And great soundtrack too.

Side Effects
Stephen Soderbergh

A brilliant puzzle of a film. Very Hitchcock. And a brilliant twist.

Trance
Danny Boyle

Similar to Side Effects in some ways, and not as good, but 7 million times more stylish. Oh Danny Boyle. What a nutter. And James McAvoy looks very dapper.

Jolly Coppers On Parade

This morning, the Police Association Of NSW issued a statement. The statement was in reaction to a story that has been picked up on the mainstream news. At the heart of it is a video of a young man involved in a scuffle with police.

There is a lot to be said, and probably will be said in the coming days, about the content of the video. I have my opinions, sure. But reading some of the press this morning, I feel more clearly disgusted at the Police Association’s statement.

Lets have a look at the statement from Scot Weber from the NSW Police Association.

The Police Association hasn’t seen the footage from the Mardi Gras yet, but in saying that, we need to go down the proper lines of investigation

We’ve seen time and time again where footage looks very adverse, such as we saw at the Sydney Cricket Ground, but then on proper investigation it was easy to highlight that the police officer’s actions were justified.

It is, frankly, an insult.

The Police Association hasn’t seen the footage from the Mardi Gras yet.

It is the most talked about video in Australia this morning. It’s on all the major news outlets. It directly concerns you and your employer.

When do you think you might get around to watching the video? Is the Internet down at the Police Association of NSW headquarters? How much time is allowed to lapse before you get around to watching it? I would think that’s the first thing you would do. How can you make a statement with such arrogant ignorance. To be proud of it.

Of course, it’s not that simple. He didn’t want to be questioned about the content of the video, and protected himself. It is the only thing that makes any sense. Which makes Weber a clear liar. Otherwise the NSW police can’t even type YouTube into their Google.

Or worse of all, they don’t even care to watch the video. Which leads us to this….

We’ve seen time and time again where footage looks very adverse … on proper investigation it was easy to highlight that the police officer’s actions were justified

This first of this two line statement was an awful lie. The second is truly scary. They’ve passed judgement.

Go back to sleep everyone. Shut up. Turn your computers off. Move along. Fuck off.

They haven’t seen the footage, but they know how it’s going to go. Well, Mr Weber, h about Rodney King? What, there’s no correlation between Rodney King and this? My bringing it up just poisons the conversation in one particular way? Yes.

How about those hidden cameras of corrupt NSW cops taking bribes from over a decade ago? Is that relevant?

It’s different cops, different situation, different case. You aren’t even entertaining the thought of judging or investigating this on its own merits. Has the NSW Police taken a stand to disregard any consumer video footage as evidence? And is this policy? I would like these questions answered.

But I would imagine Mr Weber could be presented with the Rodney King beating and say “we’ve seen time and time again…”. And not even watch the footage. It could be a video of a police officer jerking off into the face of a puppy. How the hell would Weber know?

Our culture has a long history of people protesting films, music or more, from reactionary groups who have never even seen it. I think it’s clear that we all think that is not the best part of us as humans. An awful part of us that the NSW Police are embodying, this morning at least.

Who knows what will happen with the video. I am going to be extremely forgiving and say this. It was most likely a heightened situation. And on both sides, any wrongs, were not premeditated, likely regrettable and ultimately forgivable.

But to make a planned statement that is deliberately, wilfully and belligerently ignorant, and to pass judgement on the case already, is an insult. If there is police brutality, ever, it’s your help we, the community, need.

Haven’t you ever seen Serpico?

The Reservations – Victorias

I’ve been sitting on this album for a while. I figure putting it out there might be the thing to do. Recorded over a year ago with friends and members of what has become the loose collective of The Reservations.

The songs were written and about my time in London. It was supposed to be a very long album, but in the end became a very short album. Anyway, enjoy. For the record, I think the song Strummer has some pretty good lyrics.

[bandcamp album=2169966183  bgcol=FFFFFF linkcol=4285BB size=grande3]

Top 10 Films of 2012

1. Cabin In the Woods

Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard created a mini masterpiece. Hilarious, scary and about the art of film itself, it questions what we love about violent films. A bunch of teenagers set out on a camping trip in a cabin, and they are soon attacked….but by what? and why? It’s a horror for those who hate horror, with the two funniest performance of the year from Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford. Also two of the most holy shit moments of the year – one involving a motorbike, the other a big button. But anything more is spoiling this wonderful puzzle of a film.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eXfc12BqFkc

2. Holy Flying Circus

Another fun film with a really strong message. A BBC telemovie about the banning of Life Of Brian, it is a Monty Python film about Monty Python. It is, of course, hilarious, and the performances – Darren Boyd as John Cleese in particular – are perfect. I love letter to Monty Python, but also a stand against this culture of offense that we are trapped in. The film asks – why can’t we be offensive? In the era of oublic apologies for Tiger Woods, David Petraeus and the Jonathan Ross fiasco – should we give a shit that people get offended? Are people who get offended inherently shit? We need offensive humour more than ever, and a reminder that people are often stupid and we should rally against the idiots.

There’s no trailer so here’s a key clip.

3. Moonrise Kingdom

I love Wes Anderson, and the films that people don’t like, I love. So it’s weird to see one that everyone likes, which has all the elements of Anderson that people usually hate. It’s perhaps the sweetness of the story – two kids on island runaway and build their own fantasy life – while the adults around them fall apart. It’s high fantasy, on an Amelie-esque level, but it works perhaps it’s easier to swallow when it’s a kid’s fantasy. Anderson is on fire – the scene where Sam and Suzy write letters – is the kind of thing that only Anderson can pull off.

4. 21 Jump Street
This is the funniest film of the year. This is Zoolander/Anchorman level humour. Every second line is awesome, dozens upon dozens of laugh out loud moments. There’s no reason for this film to be this good. But every cliche is popped, but it’s a well made teen drama action thing. It doesn’t blow minds like Cabin In the woods, but it’s just funny. Channing Tataum, who I’ve never seen before, is the funniest thing in the film. And the greatest cameo of the year. Put it on, turn your mind off a little and just laugh.

5. We Bought A Zoo

I saw this on a plane, on my own, thinking a lot about people dying. And Cameron Crowe, for better or worse, can really tap into heart strings. Based on a true story about a family dealing with loss by buying a zoo, it’s a family film with cute kids and cute animals. But above all that is those moments that make Cameron Crowe such a crowd pleaser. When Matt Damon explains how he met his late wife, it’s one of the more heartbreaking and sweet scenes you’ll ever see. The film goes exactly where you expect – it’s happy, quiet heroism. But done really well and again, much better than it needed to be.

6. The Master

Long, rambling, and there’s no story to speak of. But it’s brilliant. Always captivating, every frame is a winner, and nailed down by Joaquin Phoenix, who I normally hate, and Phillip Seymour Hoffman. Phoenix in particular is totally lost in his character. For my part, it is the struggle for control – a man who wants the world to bend to his image, and the impossibility of people being tamed. As much as it’s denied by the filmmakers – it is a tale about religion, and the struggle of religion. Weird, wonderful and you hold your breath the whole time.

7. The Avengers

In a lot of ways, the fact this film exists is a miracle. It’s easy to pull apart the elements that don’t work, but it terms of pure superhero joy, it doesn’t get better than this. A big colourful spectacle, with big laughs, air punching moments and just enough sophistication to lift it above the summer blockbuster. The praise for this film mainly comes from the fact it’s not utterly terrible. I’ve never loved the Avengers, or any of the films before it, but the pay off was completely worth it.

8. The Raid Redemption

A brilliant martial arts film. A group of police men raid a slum tower, hoping to get to the boss at the top. But they are trapped and the entire tower turns against them, and they have to fight their way out – or to the top. It’s one big video game of a film, but it’s the action – old school martial arts film with some of the most inventive fight scenes you’ll see this year. It’s never indulgent, very cool characters and a great ride of a film.

9. Hugo

This probably should be higher but it came out in January in Oz, and these kinds of lists are awlays tough on January stuff. A love letter to the silent era, it’s a fairy tale of a boy who lives in a Parisian train station, trying to build a clockwork robot. But it quickly turns the magic of robots into the technical magic of film. Surrounded by fun chracters, and set in a time and place that I love, it’s just a quiet thrill of a film.

10. To Rome With Love

I love Woody Allen, and I’m utterly biased. His humour just gets me, and as soon as he’s on screen, it lights up. The film is big and silly – four stories set in Rome that have little connection – but it’s chance for Rome to look pretty, some fun escapism, people looking sexy, and killer one liners. Nothing deep – it’s a throw back to Allen’s weird, funny films.

Top 10 Albums of 2012 So Far….Part 2

5. Craig Finn – Clear Heart Full Eyes

I started off on the wrong foot with this album. What to expect from a Craig Finn solo album? Would he follow his hero Springsteen and make that deep, searing Nebraska album? Or would he follow his hero Paul Westerberg and make a play at the pop charts? It’s none and it’s both. It’s Finn’s least serious, and most fun, album.

Which I guess I miss. I love the ‘important’ songs by the Hold Steady. Initially, it made this album feel slight. But maybe it’s not all about teenagers wallowing in their own doom. How can you not love the line “It’s hard to suck with Jesus in your band”?

And it’s the songs, man. The aforementioned ‘My New Friend Jesus’, the lonely ‘Rented Room’, the wonderful ‘Jackson’ and more. Finn is at his most tuneful – he’s almost singing! But it’s a fun, relaxed record – a talented writer enjoying not rocking out and making important statements. Rather he’s just singing a tune and telling a yarn.

4. fun. – Some Nights

Well, who would have thought it would all happen for Nate Ruess? Ten years, several label label deals and bands, he finally scored big with fun. It’s mainly off the back of one track, We Are Young, currently playing over your supermarket stereo. It’s a pretty good song, with a huge chorus. In fact, every song has a HUGE chorus. Once you get your head around it, it’s a lot of – well – fun.

There’s something really exciting about this album. It’s like Ruess had something to prove and he brought his A game. The second single ‘Some Nights’ is another killer. My favourite is ‘Why Am I The One?’. There’s shadows of Graceland going on here too. Big sing-alongs with world music rhythms.

Who knows where this will go. Could well be this year’s ‘Pretty. Odd’. A wonderful, one off aberration. Because after this, Ruess has nothing to prove.

We Are Young and Some Nights are probably overplayed, so here’s an acoustic version of Why Am I The One.

3. Jack White – Blunderbuss

Thank god for Jack White. When you look around at the music world, and you wonder what will last, you know you can count on Jack White. And having worn himself thin with all the collaborations, it’s great to hear his voice on it’s own.

He’s actually reined it in a bit. It’s not that far away from later White Stripes. It drifts from piano tinkering to full rock mode, but never once losing his sense of a tune and a great lyric. I mean, it’s Jack White, the guy can do it all.

It’s worth the wait for him to get it right. And he is someone else with nothing to prove. When Icky Thump was maybe trying to hard, Blunderbuss revels in it’s simplicity. It’s a directness that White hasn’t used in years, and it’s great to have it back.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3F-DBo25dzI

2. The Shins – Port Of Morrow

He fired the whole band, and then started again. This album could have been anything. And guess what? It’s a friggin perfect album. Every track is a highlight.

It’s ever slightly more pop than ever before, but in some weird brittle 80s way. Songs like ‘No Way Down’ or ‘Fall Of ‘82’ are so pop. Then there’s the beautiful ballads – ‘It’s Only Life’ or ’40 Mark Strasse’. And some mid tempo rockers. It’s standard operating procedure for the Shins.

They haven’t reinvented the wheel but the wheel is so good, and I’m back on the ride.

1. Joel Plaskett Emergency – Scrappy Happiness

After a crazy, schizo triple album, it’s weird to get just ten songs for a Joel Plaskett album. But it’s so clear what he’s doing – making a fun guitar rock album. It’s been a long time since he’s been so fiery with his guitar. His lyrics and his voice are the best they’ve ever been. And the songs are stunning.

The album hangs off the rockiest rockers – all six-and-a-half minutes of Lightning Bolt, he’s best ever song and his masterpiece. You’re Mine, North Star and Tough Love are about as heavy and powerful as Plaskett’s ever gotten. It’s music that illicits a physical reacton – writing about it here feels odd.

There’s lovely slower songs that break it up. Each of them are lovely. But I can’t get over the rockers. And after all this time, I’m still enthralled by a fucking fun, sparkly, heavy rock record. Some things might never change.