Last year, Flume, probably deservedly, took home the J Award for the Best Australian Album of the Year according to triple j. Flume’s album featured one particular collaboration with fellow Aussie Chet Faker, Left Alone, which exemplified a bromance which has flourished ever since. Come 2014 and like a mother feeling sorry for the other sibling, triple j has awarded Chet Faker’s, Built On Glass, the J Award.
This means that in a year where Australia had arguably one of the most excitable musical climates in the world, Chet Faker’s was the one that stood out over all. While we aren’t arguing the fact that Built On Glass was a good debut record, great even, there were plenty of other albums that had a little more flair, originality and energy.
Also file this under our favourite Australian albums of 2014.
The Preatures- Blue Planet Eyes
The Preatures have had a massive year, not losing any of the momentum they gained from Is This How You Feel? Their debut album Blue Planet Eyes validated all the hype. It was a sexy, melodic record that smouldered with slow-burners and ate into our hearts with its catchy up-tempos. Somebody’s Talking is a cracker of a single, while the album as a whole is unmistakably Aussie. Surely that’s worth celebrating.
Sia- 1000 Forms of Fear
Sia was once a triple j darling but since she started writing for the likes of Beyonce and Christina Aguilera she’s failed to gain much traction there. That’s fair enough, it’s not like she really needed it, but nonetheless 1000 Forms Of Fear is a mighty pop record. Led by the soaring lead single, Chandelier, the album is a collection of mid-tempos that go way over-the-top with metaphors, huge chorus and billowing vocals. It would be definitely worth celebrating the success story that was Sia in 2014, particularly given her humble beginnings.
Remi- Raw x Infinity
Remi is one of the finest rappers to come out of this country in a long time. He understands the overseas flavour but also has his feet firmly planted within Australian hip-hop. Raw x Infinity was a combustion of youthful energy, with a constantly bouncing beat and effortless flow. Remi really proves his credentials when he takes to the live arena with a show that’s more impressive than any local offering this year.
Allday is one of the first Australian rappers to really admit to overseas influence over local. His debut album Cult, exemplifies that with beats that sit somewhere between Mike Will Made It and Kaytranada. The most impressive thing about Cult is his effortless feel for melody. On the lead single Right Now, he sounds almost sleepy but still manages to carve out this tune that just hovers around your head. It’s the type of aspirational record that a 23 year-old should be delivering for his debut which is a lot easier said than done.
Kimbra- The Golden Echo
She may be from over the pond, but Kimbra’s debut Vows was nominated in 2011 so surely she could have nabbed the award in 2014. The Golden Echo far surpassed her debut both in ambition and in result. It was a cosmic journey through soul, RnB and pop collisions delivered by a confident vocalist whose mind is out of this world. ‘90s Music was wildly unexpected and while the rest of the album isn’t as left-of-centre, it’s still a refreshing take on a number of genres that have been overdone. Just when you feel like you’ve got a grip of The Golden Echo it takes a sudden turn. If we’re rewarding innovation and bravery here, the prize has to be Kimbra’s.
So, if we give the award to Kimbra then we have to also consider fellow New Zealanders, Broods, who delivered a polished, pop debut this year. Evergreen was full of, excuse the pun, brooding vocals and swirling beats that came together to form expert pop songs. Songs like Mother & Father tugged at the heartstrings while those like L.A.F. dazzled in happy giddiness. They’re the newcomers most likely to do big things overseas and, while a J Award would be slightly presumptuous, it would make triple j look damn good once they finally took off.
Andy Bull- Sea Of Approval
It took Andy Bull five years to deliver his follow-up record, Sea Of Approval, but impossibly it was worth the wait. While Chet Faker erred toward electronica to deliver what is essentially a pop record, Bull dabbled in RnB. At times it’s cinematic, at times it’s uncomfortably intimate but it’s always honest. Leading the album with a one-two-three punch of Keep On Running, Baby I Am Nobody Now and Talk Too Much, shows that he’s a popstar in disguise and deservant of far more attention than he’s been dealt.
Kylie Minogue- Kiss Me Once
Oh, what a world it would be. This would never happen and if it did it would be because triple j had been bought by ARN. But if we’re talking about great pop records it’s hard to look past Kylie’s 11th album. Yeah, it was a commercial flop but it was probably one of her most left-of-centre records since her 1994 self-titled effort. Written by the likes of Sia, Pharrell Williams and Ariel Rechtshaid, Kiss Me Once was one of the tastiest records of the year and gave us I Was Gonna Cancel- a moment of pop brilliance from the princess herself.
DZ Deathrays- Black Rat
Many might be declaring rock dead in 2014 but DZ Deathrays are the best argument as to why it isn’t. On Black Rat, the duo’s second album, they’d cleaned themselves up a bit and rather than grunge gave us expansive, anthemic rock songs bound by crunching guitars and organic, thumping percussion. Northern Lights beats out any rock song released by an Australian acts in 2014. They’ve also quietly gone about their business, finding success overseas.
The Harpoons- Falling For You
Melbourne group The Harpoons quietly released their excellent, funk-tinged debut this year and while it didn’t attract the fanfare it deserved, it’s one of those records that grows with age. From sensual slow-burners to quirky electronica, Falling For You was an album for lovers, which in many ways sits in the same lane as Chet Faker’s Built On Glass. It’s as if somebody remixed The Preatures with great success and repackaged it as The Harpoons. A brilliant, low-key stunner that reveals itself with every listen.