Peabody – The New Violence

04. Peabody – The New Violence

The highest charting album on this list. Easily the heaviest album I liked in any capacity. Rock music is in terrible shape. As a genre it has absolutely nothing to say. Even up until the early 90s, rock expressed the furious anger of the marginalised. In the last few years of international torment, rock music has completely let us down with protest music. Rock music is a cartoon of itself. It’s like someone took the most vibrant, energetic and rebellious form of self expression, and trapped it in a jar. It looks kind of the same through the glass, but it generates no heat.

And after that long ramble, we come to Peabody’s the New Violence. Full of anger, accusation, fire, heart, feeling, meaning and all those things that would never occur to a band like the Killers. Witness Wrecking Ball, which climaxes with the scream “My generation is decline!”. I have a lot to say about this shithole of a country that I live in, but I won’t do it here. But Peabody helps me focus my angry energies.

It’s not all preachy. But it’s all uncompromising. But some of it is pure ear candy. First single Got You On My Radar is perfect pop, just turned up really loud. I Don’t Know, the most mellow moment moment on the album, is sweet and affecting. But it’s the rockers that really make the album take flight.

It’s hard to say who Peabody sound like nowadays. There’s definitely a jaggedness to their music, but also hardcore element (especially on Don’t Lose It, all one and a half minutes of it) and some truly strange things (Got Your Hooks In sounds like New Order with balls – perhaps Primal Scream then). Of all the albums on this list, I’m finding it hardest to describe and compare Peabody’s music.

But forget it all. From opener Synaesthesia, this album grabs you by the scruff of the neck and doesn’t let go. This album, and the next three, arte pretty much interchangeable for number one, depending on my mood. Thank god that it has only made number four today.

05. The Magic Numbers – The Magic Numbers

Inspired by Tim Byron (, I will wank on about my top ten favourite albums of the year in backwards order.

05. The Magic Numbers – The Magic Numbers

So fully formed for a debut. Two sets of siblings, singing in such sweet voices. Oh and the love. Can’t forget the love.

The Magic Numbers was played a lot when I was working at JB Hi Fi. And it was perfect, because in a way it is so bloody middle of the road. Witness the similarity between I See You, You See Me and Don’t Know Much, the soppy but great power ballad performed by Linda Ronstadt and Aaron Neville.

It’s of course, very pop. Very Belle And Sebastian. It’s full of energy, full of spirit, and most importantly, it is the album most this year that fits into my theory that love songs are the first songs you love. As I get older, and slowly the treble, the cheap rhymes, the simple themes are being weeded out for more ‘mature’ music, the Magic Numbers completely make me feel like I’m 17, or maybe even 12.

Let’s look at the evidence in the song titles – Love Me Like You, Love’s A Game, This Love… how long has it been since a band was willing to be so overtly sweet? And that’s how they get across…simply, and sweetly. “She don’t love me like you”, “Darling when I see you, you see me”, “Don’t let the sun be the one to change you, baby”… all nothing lines that can mean everything when you are even feeling the slightest bit emotional, which I often am.

The album doesn’t cover a lot of ground. I’m afraid it will date quite poorly. There are upbeat pop stuff, and some really, really, no, really slow stuff. But that’s not the point. This is one long aching love letter. It’s an audio snapshot of the out of control emotions you feel at 17, when you’re falling out of love every week, and in love every hour. And that part of you is still in there, and will love this album.

I don’t know what else to say about this album. The production, performance, instrumentation, harmonies etc…are all top notch. But it’s the mood and feel of this album that makes it what it is. It also supports another theory, that a song is not finished until it’s heard. The Magic Numbers hit you in the gut or not at all. You can’t take apart the chords and see how it works. You just have to let love in.

06. Supergrass – Road To Rouen

Inspired by Tim Byron (, I will wank on about my top ten favourite albums of the year in backwards order.

06. Supergrass – Road To Rouen

Listening to this album again, after many months of background listening that proceeded some fairly intense getting to know eachother stuff, it’s hard to see why this is such a big departure. Touted as an acoustic departure, or in some circles, a goodbye to commercial relevance and the catching of a train to adult contemporary land. But all the classic Supergrass elements are here, just in slightly different measures.

Bob Dylan has said Nashville Skyline is sho short because that’s all the songs he had. I wonder if this is the same for Road To Rouen. Under 36 minutes, one instrumental, it seems a bit lacking. Luckily every note of the album is well conceived. You can’t really count on over 30 minutes of greatness anymore, even over albums that go for 80 minutes.

There are the funky prog moments (set out years ago by tracks like Moving), given very prog rock names like Tales Of Endurance Parts 4, 5 &6. There is dreamy ballad pop (much like Mama & Papa) in something like Fin. Even the title track is close to a home ground stomper for the lads. So what’s the big deal?

There is a looseness to the album that’s new. Supergrass albums are usually frenetic affairs, built on nervous energy. That’s gone. This is a mature, thoughtful work. It’s also the most simply beautiful Supergrass album ever. Written and made in a time of great personal difficulty, the album is bare but inviting. Yes there are lots of acoustic guitars, and it the soft grooves and beautiful pianos that take you away. Witness the mix of sounds on Low C, or the single St Petersburg. It’s interesting to hear well constructed acoustic music, without it being twee, country, or Nickelback.

Highlights are abound, but I think I might have mentioned them. Like I said, the album’s short. It does it’s job, then it lets you go. Much like Chutes Too Narrow, every track is great, and the fact there are so very few of them just serves to show that even more.

07. Josh Rouse – Nashville

Inspired by Tim Byron (, I will wank on about my top ten favourite albums of the year in backwards order.

07. Josh Rouse – Nashville
Ryko Records

This album hit so late that it didn’t even make my best of the year compilation. And it was the follow-up to the flawless masterpiece that was 1972 and at first listen all I could hear were the flaws. Bit samey, except a bit jazzier. Lyrics are kind of crap. It’s kind of cold and closed in.

I first discovered Rouse with Under Cold Blue Stars, the first of two flawless albums by my count. It was one of the brightest pop albums I’ve ever heard, just bubbling confidently with ideas and sounds. 1972 took it to a 70s groove. And Nashville simply, at first listen, lack the hooks and energy of those two albums.

Which is completely the point, I now guess. It’s another cold, late night album. The groove is even more laid back. A layer has been taken off, and a lushness has been put in place. The beautiful Streetlights sounds like song from a movie adaptation of a musical.

Thing is, there’s not a bad song on here. The hooks do get to you, it just takes months. Winter In the Hamptons is as upbeat as anything Rouse has performed (with great ba-ba’s). Life and My Love Is Gone are some of his best acoustic ballads, and the masterful Sad Eyes starts as a solo piano performance for half the time before the band joins in for a killer groove, and is Rouse’s most ambitious work to date.

It is, in fact, Sad Eyes that got me. Other random tracks would come on the ipod and they would always be enough to make me look twice at it, but the part when the band came in made me give this entire album another chance. I’m glad I did. It’s already like an old friend, it’s on par with what I expected – it’s just I like to be surprised.

That said, the lyrics are solid but, being a divorce album, kind of morbid, but worse, clichéd. And with the steady progression of his last few albums, this minor step forward can’t help but be disappointing.

Maybe this is Rouse’s Help! Five albums in and the template is wearing thin. Word is his new album will be a departure in world music. We’ll see. But if you get past the fact there are no easy singles on here, that every song is a self contained thing, and the whole package never reaches great heights or falls to great lows, then it’s great.

08. Modern Giant – Satellite Nights

Inspired by Tim Byron (, I will wank on about my top ten favourite albums of the year in backwards order.

08. Modern Giant – Satellite Nights
popboomerang records

For me, the fundamental thing about music can be summed up in one line – ‘what are you trying to say?’. And I know that most topics in the known universe have been written about already. But what hooks me every time is someone with a new take and a new perspective. Which is why a band like Modern Giant are so wonderful.

Modern Giant are from Sydney and I’ll say right up front that I’ve had the pleasure to share many a stage with them this year. And I’ve watched as they slip a new song into the set every few gigs or so, and then having the pleasure of hearing the songs on CD.

There are three types of Modern Giant songs really – Andy’s wonderful rock songs (the man plays a flying V for god’s sake), Ginny’s melancholy pop songs, and Adam’s spoken word dramas. This is a huge generalisation, but like the best albums with multiple songwriters, all they all rise to the occasion on this album.

The album opens with a gorgeous ballad, I’m Not Broken and from there it’s game on. “People are snapping all over the place…I’m not broken/I just fell apart”, hitting straight onto discomfort from modern life. Work, people, the pace…and finally coping or perhaps escaping. Where as Ginny is regretful about it, Andy comes on angrier and more directly with the single Hell Is Other People, and finally Adam finds the poetry and romance of it.

The spoken word pieces, of which there are three, are all great. All epic story songs, about escaping, either through fantasy (Angie Hart) or on a real bus (Heartbeat). Lyrically, they are some of the best things you’ll hear this year, but they also fit perfectly with what the band is doing. This isn’t Lou Reed reading the Raven.

To top it all off, there are some just corker pop songs, amongst them I Thought You Were Somebody Else, the best song on the album. What let’s the album down at times is the production. I wish I could have heard these songs with a crispness that comes with a Pernice Brothers album, or at least the rawer sound of Badly Drawn Boy. The same old trap (I’ve fallen for it too), of capturing the live sound. The arrangements, especially the drums, do such interesting things, but sound somewhat samey over the album. Also, the repeating of songs from their first EP. Always a bad move.

Finally, the album cover is also fantastic. As a fan of a new band, you always wonder how they will represent themselves on paper, and the cover is just great. One of the best this year.

But this is a great start. The newer songs in their set sound fuller. More lush. There is definitely a lyrical agenda. A great band. A real life poet (and a good one). Can’t wait for the next move.

09. My Morning Jacket – Z

Inspired by Tim Byron (, I will wank on about my top ten favourite albums of the year in backwards order.

09. My Morning Jacket – Z

Part of my enjoyment for this album was completely ruined the copy protection on this disc. It prevented it me from listening to it on my ipod, or at work through my computer. Which means until I finally decided to buy a newer, un-copy protected version (so yes I bought this album twice) it was pretty much December.

That all said, I’m thoroughly enjoying the album, and of all the albums on this list, I’m still getting to know this album, and still excited to get to know it. It’s a great air guitar album, and much more upbeat and less spooky than It Still Moves.

Wordless Chorus sounds like nothing else. The vocals are familiar, but that spooky atmosphere echo thing, the rhythm, it’s all weird, catchy, awesome. Personal highlight is What A Wonderful Man, which fits right in with classic southern rock, just pounds you down about 2 seconds in and doesn’t let up. Squealing classic rock riffs everywhere. And the middle bit…solo and drums only! The scream in the middle. How rock!

This is MMJ’s straightest album by far. With something like Off the Record, heck it’s bordering on pop. The album ends with the gentle Neil Young-esque (of course) Dondante, all seven and a half minutes of it, and it’s spooky and eerie and brilliant.

I have no idea what the band is singing. All I know is that they’ve taken what makes them different (the reverb, the south, the beards) from most bands, and focused it and made it great with this album. It’s a shorter album, more focussed. Less jamming overall.

It’s been a while now and it looks like this album has really broken their career wide open, but they are recording a DVD where they invited the crowd to dress up as goblins and such. Let’s hope that they have the moves to match the riffs.