1. jezz: Against Me! are rough-as-guts punk with a touch of folk and politics: the best kind of punk.

    This record puts them under the amplifying… er… magnification… of a stadium-rock producer, and the result is a thrumming killer combo of tracks: fast, ruthless, refined, easy to listen to and bloody enjoyable.

    This one might not have that authentic, “My Life Is A Urine-Soaked Gutter” atmosphere of their previous effort, but at the end of the day it’s better music from start to finish. And who wants to feel like they’re being pissed-upon by a blind hobo after a hard day at work? Not me. Not me.

    Well. Not usually.

    grooveshark / itunes.apple

    spin: Near the end of 2005′s Searching for a Former Clarity, Against Me! frontman Tom Gabel succinctly summed up his band’s blunt message: “Don’t lose touch,” he commanded in a hoarse all-ages holler — with reality, with integrity, with one another. Gabel is a folk-punk rabble-rouser in the frayed-and-furious tradition of Joe Strummer, Billy Bragg, and Ted Leo; and for the past decade, he’s been writing songs about the struggle to stay active and earthbound in a culture hell-bent on medicated disengagement. Even more than your quintessential street rapper, Gabel is obsessed with keeping it real.

    Fortunately, he’s also as concerned with keeping it entertaining. New Wave is Against Me!’s Butch Vig-produced major-label debut, and it sounds like it: Where the band’s three previous studio albums crackled with scrappy DIY brio, New Wave stomps like big-budget radio rock, all swarming guitars and gang-vocal thrust. As he did with Nirvana’s Nevermind, Vig both sweetens and strengthens Against Me!’s attack without sacrificing the band’s innate Raggedy Andy appeal.>>

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  2. Drummo: Reminiscing through some classic albums of the past for Triple J’s Hottest 100 Oz albums got me thinking of my favourite albums of all-time (not just Aussie). This album would be right up in the top echelon for me. It probably got spun the most on my walkman, cd player and minidisc back in the day….it evens gets a fair bit of airtime now on the ipod. I dare say most of you already own it, or at least have listened to it but it’s definitely well worth a re-listen.
    Grace is the only completed studio album by Jeff Buckley, released in 1994. A re-released ‘Legacy Edition’ hit the shelves in 2004. You can listen to either. A swag of singles came off this album including Buckley’s rendition of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’ which Rolling Stone rated as the 259th greatest song of all time. Add to that ‘Grace’, ‘Last Goodbye’, ‘So Real’ and ‘Eternal Life’ , this album is full of gems. My personal favourites are ‘Lover, You Should’ve Come Over’ and the heavier ‘Eternal Life’ (which is freaking awesome live on the EP from 1993 Live at Sin-é, and both albums Jeff Buckley Live À L’Olympia and Mystery White Boy). A whole host of superstars including Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and David Bowie rate this album very highly.
    Anyway, enough from me, whip this album back out and give it a spin.

    rollingstone: Jeff Buckley sounds like a man who doesn’t yet know what he wants to be, and his uncertainty is the very thing that holds Grace, his debut album, together. It’s a ballsy kind of uncertainty, the kind you find in star high-school athletes who seem to have all the confidence in the world even as they’re straining to meet their own ever-increasing expectations. Buckley, with the help of his potent backing band, ends up pulling off some things no other young singer-songwriter-guitarist in his right mind would even try: Whatever possessed him to record the bleak, beautiful standard “Lilac Wine”? And the bigger question is, how in hell does he make it work?
    Buckley’s got huge ears and an even bigger record collection: He jumbles jazz, R&B, blues and rock references with such apparent nonchalance that he can seem like a showoff. His songs are anything but tossed off, and sometimes his meticulous arrangements sound too orchestrated, too ornate. But it may just be that movement and texture mean so much to Buckley that he sometimes gets carried away. There are worse sins.
    Buckley’s curvy, intuitive vocals tell the main story: His inflections flicker with shadows of Billie Holiday and Chet Baker. Other influences are at work, too. Anxious to make his own mark, Buckley doesn’t like to speak much about his father, the late singer/songwriter Tim Buckley. But genes tell a story: The elder Buckley’s 1972 treasure Greetings From L.A. shows that father and son share a fondness for jazzy phrasing and wraith-like falsetto effects.
    The young Buckley’s vocals don’t always stand up: He doesn’t sound battered or desperate enough to carry off Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” But his ghostly “Lilac Wine,” with its deep blush of a sound, practically adds years to his age. His voice seems weighted down with tears that just won’t come out the normal way. “I made wine from the lilac tree, put my heart in its recipe,” he sings, and his heart’s in this recipe, too. Like any singer worth his salt, he knows that “Lilac Wine” just never comes out right without it.

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    Rating: 4.7/5 (3 votes cast)

  3. Kris: Other than this album, I never really got into Modest Mouse. They are a band that I think people either know a few songs or have no desire to ever listen to. So I’m forcing you to do so.

    While their kooky/erratic/strange style is ever present, Brock’s voice is instantly recognisable and there are definite singles and hits in here… but as with all ‘well loved’ and ‘cult Indie’ bands it is the quieter/less known songs that stand out to me. It was a slow burner for me, however, I knew that it was something that would grow on me. Plenty of ‘subtle’ drug references and lyrics that don’t make sense. But it all comes together in the end.

    Stand Outs- Black Cadillacs, The View, The good times are killing me, Float On (obviously)

    It’s just good. And what else do you have to listen to?

    itunes / wikipedia / metacritic

    Pitchfork: [...] Like every other Modest Mouse full-length, Good News remains tremendously strong for its first five or six tracks. “Ocean Breathes Salty” is slightly darker than “Float On”, but remains uncharacteristically upbeat. Here, Weikel’s drumming proves particularly indispensable, his tight, regular playing adding extra emphasis to the song’s powerful dynamics changes. Lyrically, as with most resignation-themed albums by philosophically minded bands, Good News concerns itself largely with death and the afterlife. At times, Brock’s lyrics threaten to approach cliché, but “Ocean Breathes Salty” redeems itself with its strong vocal melodies and convincing delivery. “Bury Me With It”, the record’s most blistering, forceful track, is an energetic high point, putting Brock’s signature sing-screaming to great use.>>

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    Rating: 4.3/5 (4 votes cast)

  4. Scotty: I bought this album knowing only one song that I’d heard on the old wireless – Sugarcoat. Simple equation: Liked the song so I bought the album as a half punt, half support of Aussie music. Safe to say the album wasn’t exactly what I was expecting. The songs themselves are quite different throughout the album, so there’s not really a consistent “vibe” or feel. What is consistent though, are the kick ass harmonies, catchy melodies and generally angry lyrics… Which I like! I am also a sucker for multiple layers of vocal tracks.

    The album recorded by Aaron Cupples (Dan Kelly, Paul Kelly, The Drones) & Finn Keane (Redsunband), and produced by Aaron Cupples & Subaudible Hum.

    It took me a few listens to fully appreciate the quality of this album, but since then it has become a staple in the player for the past few years whenever I need something to pump me up, chill me out, or generally get lost in a haze of sound – this album seems to be able to cater for all…. Well, right up to the time Kait comes home and says, ‘are you listening to this crap again?’…

    I hope you guys enjoy this crap!

    RYM / wikipedia / jb-hifi

    Triple J: Singer Danny Griffith moved from Brisbane to Melbourne in 1999 and started to put together a band called Subaudible Hum. The line-up consolidated around 2003 and last year saw the release of their debut album. Co-produced by Aaron Cupples (Dan Kelly/The Drones), their latest album is a wonderful epic that has nailed the band’s sound and vision. “I started off with the idea that it’s spanning the world in a day,” says Griffith. “You see all sides of the story – all around the world – and it zooms out from one to the other. They’re all interconnected.” Highlights include the singles “Sugarcoat” and “All For The Caspian”.

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  5. Jezz: I didn’t want to pick a “classic”. I wanted to pick something lesser known, more recent, from a neglected era of music: neither new enough to be fresh nor old enough to be embedded in history. Listen to Joe Strummer’s later work with the Mescaleros. Listen to Rancid, especially Life Won’t Wait and Tim Armstrong’s solo album. That’s just life advice, though. It’s not book club.

    Book club is about a record you want to smash the hell out of for a week straight and I really want to smash London Calling right now.

    You might imagine The Clash as a straight punk band and they were certainly that at one point. They played a huge part in the initial punk music revolution in 70′s Britain, issuing dirty, turbocharged music as a two-fingered salute to the looming oppression of high unemployent and capitalist globalisation. It was music that was, by design, a challenge to listen to. The fight went on after that first flurry, but the music evolved.

    Though it was released just three years after the band was formed in 1976, London Calling is to this day one of the tightest, best-produced and most listenable rock-and-roll records ever released. There are 19 tracks – a double LP in its day – and every one is a corker. If you’ve never listened to it before you might awe at how poppy it is. It’s certainly up-beat. That’s Strummer’s trademark optimism you’re hearing – while he was always intensely critical, he also had a never-ending faith in the power of humans to do good and make change. “Kick over the wall ’cause government’s to fall / How can you refuse it? / Let fury have the hour, anger can be power / D’you know that you can use it?

    There’s a lot more to say. The influences are vast – it smoothly incorporates reggae and ska, brass-heavy blues and infectious rockabilly. The lyrics dance between political anthems and timeless tales of lovers and film legends. It’s an album that features probably the best song ever recorded about the humble franger.

    It used to mystify me that an album this tight, this universally appealing, this contemporary, could have been recorded so many decades ago. Since then I’ve delved into the period a bit more, and I’ve discovered that there was a hell of a lot of of incredible music coming out of the 70′s in general, stuff that hasn’t really been surpassed or beaten since. But I’m still not sure any of it is more remarkable than this. London Calling, frankly, could be the best album ever recorded.

    itunes / metacritic / wikipedia

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  6. Lovey: There have been some good albums lately… feel a bit pressured… I have chosen a solo artist for my first choice for the book club, his work is probably better recognised in the Strokes as lead vocals. The album I have chosen is Julian Casablancas’ Phrazes for the Young.

    This album is one of my favourites over the past few years. JC has a couple of really good singles on the album that are quite up beat, but in general a good mix of songs. If you are a fan of the Strokes, as I am, you will be sure to enjoy this album.

    wikipedia / itunes / metacritic

    NME: “Somewhere along the way, my hopefulness turned to sadness/ Somewhere along the way, my sadness turned to bitterness…”

    Suffice to say, the first two lines that slur out of the speakers after pressing ‘play’ on Phrazes For The Young will be instant red flags to any Strokes fan combing Julian Casablancas’ solo debut for portents of doom. As the verse progresses, his bitterness then leads to anger, his anger inextricably to vengeance and his vengeance – oddly enough – to an unabashedly euphoric, Paul Simon-esque mardi-gras gallop of a chorus that, like a lot of things about this album, you’ll never see coming. [...]

    Recorded under the radar with producer Jason Lader and Bright Eyes collaborator Mike Mogis, it’s a strange little album, just eight songs long but deceptively dense with ideas. Certain parts of it are unmistakably the work of the man who wrote ‘Is This It’, certain others you’d swear were anything but, and one part in particular – the inspired ‘Ludlow St’ – is a bawdy, boozy waltz through the Lower East Side locale that’s quite simply stark raving.>>

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    Rating: 3.2/5 (5 votes cast)