Archive for the ‘Peter Scott’ Category

Alex Griffin’s Top 10 Albums of 2014

Monday, December 22nd, 2014

Writer, musician, broadcaster and Renaissance man Alex Griffin counts down his 10 best records of the year.

2014 might be the year that the stream/feed model of perceiving the world became irremediably fixed as a part of human consciousness (and politics, and economics, and…), so less than having a list of things I’d want to tell someone else to listen to, these are some of the things I heard this year that went beyond the idea or desire to list or compare; they were the things I remembered and carried with me and learned; let other lists be a Wikipedia of shoulda-heards.

These records are like my mental map of my suburb. After all, I write this with a bruising hangover and a face like a cut of salmon after taking in Yardstock yesterday. Mitch stole a beach ball from somewhere, and we bought way too much booze from Grapeskin at 11pm after having already imbibed for seven or eight hours already. If there was a better time to write about how I approached music this year, I can’t think of it, because I barely listened to music at home – I was among music all year, not studying my own experience of it. A leaf instead of a microscope. At the same time, there isn’t a year where I’ve enjoyed music more. A lot of this maybe came from being in a different country and going to shows by myself on spec – music ceased to be something privately consumed but more communally brushed against, like a sprig of mistletoe or an office watercooler.

Really, though, a lot of the time, I just forgot. Forgot what I’d listened to, forgot what I was listening to, forgot what I wanted to hear. Adrift in feeds, in lists, in other people’s opinions, I forgot to get around to making my own up. Some I was pretty bloody certain on — Benji, for example, felt like transforming sharing into the ethic of a feed – half Lil B, half Buckley – and as such rang like a gesture towards the implausible – but many I have no idea about still, and now may never get around to.. Naturally, if you’re floating downstream, you’re likely to miss most of the driftwood, so I’m taking a swing and a miss at totality.

10. TOTAL CONTROL – Typical System
No touring? No problem. Even if the Total Control hiatus proves to be a permanent one, Typical System is the kind of shot that’ll reverberate for years to come, surpassing the still pretty amazing Henge Beat in almost every single way and maybe even being the best record to come out of the whole ECSR diaspora. ‘Flesh War’ is probably the best song of the year, marrying a shitkicking stomp to a chord progression that feels like being driven to a wake through heavy traffic, while in ‘Liberal Party’, they provide a searching portrait of the breakdown of the welfare society in about as many syllables as Abbott’s three-sentence electoral platform.

9. IAN CRAUSE — The Song of Phaethon
The Disco Inferno’s man Dude’s talent for using tumult to depict, well, tumult remains undimmed. When Crause’s gifts are in full flow, the impact is sort of like being every chime in a huge fuck-off wind chime at once, harassed and assailed by a storm. I think it’s about mythology, but I don’t care. Though Ian, if you’re reading this, give me a call; let’s talk about these cover art problems you’re having.

8. BLANCHE BLANCHE BLANCHE – Hints to Pilgrims
For a band that reveled in an almost perverse level of abstruse prodigiousness, the end was never going to come as simple as a Farnesy-style tour. Hints to Pilgrims is a terse, inflexible record, hammered out through gusts of angst, songs transmitted like the staccato of a miffed wireless operator. There’s a soft heart to unpeel, though; “when you release a lot of music/the only thing you keep is care.” Vale BBB!

7. PALBERTA — Shitheads in the Ditch
Getting your ass kicked in every possible direction but down.

6. INFINITY FREQUENCIES — Computer Decay/Computer Afterlife
Of all of the microgenres that have arisen (Pottercore?) none has more relevance than vaporwave to gaining an understanding of the present. Like, crackin’ jokes about pitching informercials down is like talking wise about Sonic Youth playing out of standard tuning – it’s not funny, and it misses the point entirely. PC Music may have come along and reified the amorphousness of into the branding logic of Planet Pop, but Infinity Frequencies drew the scared, pristine and impossibly far away anomie of the presentlessness of the internet into the clearest possible light. Computer Decay and Afterlife – parts deux and trois of an ostensible trilogy – make unfathomably depthless, affecting galaxies out of the disintegrating now in a way that no one else with Ableton and an anonymous Bandcamp has yet managed.

5. FATIMA AL QADIRI – Asiatisch
Asiatisch opens with ‘Shanzhai’, which is a woman singing the melody of ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’ in Mandarin over a queasy, heartbreaking bed of synthesized strings. Asiatisch only gets stranger, acting as a travelogue of travelogues, a reinterpretation of the myriad of fake, watered down and misdirected signals that flow between the West and East. On ‘Dragon Tattoo’, a voice veiled in vocoder implores one to “speak Chinese/if you please”, while a robotized synth melody coils like an 8-bit New Year’s Dragon buffering through the street. Here, Al Qadiri is sitting on both sides of the Great Wall, and it’s confusing both ways.

4. COUPLES COUNSELLING – Couples Counselling
When the sampler replaces the acoustic guitar once and for all, this record is going to feel like what Connie Converse was to 2018’s fuckin’ no-hoper Donovan.

3. THE SOFT PINK TRUTH – Why Do The Heathen Rage
Daniel Drew carries forward Arthur Russell’s instinctive acuity for the malleability of disco forms into a through post-structuralist critique of the homoeroticism/phobia inherent to black metal. Staggeringly wise, funny, strange and true, and never too serious to trump the absurdity of the project. Where my other Literature PhDs making music this clever? BLACK METAL/BLACK METAL BLACK METAL/BLACK METAL.

2. PLATYPUS FREAKS — Platypus Freaks EP
When this came out a few weeks ago online, I waited a few days before buying it. I had stuff to do, you know, and I knew that once I sat down to listen to it I probably wouldn’t move for a while. As a fundraiser (for a Crotch album), this sure as hell beats flogging Freddos at the office; Katherine Daly here (with a bit of singing from the lad) sings seven songs ranging from the Mayor of Vancouver (“nepotism! Nepotism!”) to Scott Morrison, and it’s just about the most fun you can have in twenty minutes short of watching Dr. Katz. “Fun” isn’t the best way to describe songs like ‘Uluru;, which moves from a reflection on parental tourism to a harrowing indictment of the impacts of the NT intervention/invasion in the blink of an eyelid, all sung a capella by Daly in a voice so tremulous, so disbelieving, that you want to flush your head down the toilet and start life all over again. You could knock me over just by saying the word feather. Beyond that, there’s ‘Holes’, which might be the most searching, tender, empathetic and pissed off ticking off of a philanderer ever written. Jesus it’s good. Even as just a taste of what one of Australia’s best songwriters can do, it’s a feast. Bloody oath.

1. PETER ESCOTT — The Long O
You know that beer ad about how when you drop something in the water in Tasmania it comes out a lot better? If you dropped The Long O in the Derwent a hundred times over, it would come back out the same.

Alex Griffin writes for Tiny Mix Tapes and plays in Ermine Coat.

Check back later in the week as our writers continue to count down their top 10 records of the year.