10. The John Steel Singers – Tangalooma [Dew Process]
With a modest repertoire of social anthropologically-themed, indie-pop gems already in the bag, along with Robert Forster on production duties, it was no surprise that Tangalooma proved a loveable treat. However, it’s the ‘filler’ which truly impresses.
9. The Gaslight Anthem – American Slang [SideOneDummy]
Yet another group introducing Springsteen to a new generation, the Gaslight Anthem’s uncanny invocation of the classic Jersey Shore sound reached new heights on American Slang. Poetic, nostalgic and irrefutably rockin’.
8. Angus & Julia Stone – Down the Way [EMI]
The Stones endeared themselves to many with their ‘Frankie-in-musical-form’ debut A Book Like This, however it was the deeper, enchanting nourishment that Down the Way offered which cemented their status as Australian folk-pop royalty.
7. The National – High Violet [4AD]
Matt Berninger’s witty, self-deprecating lyrics seem to strike closer to the bone than ever before on High Violet. The group’s songwriting as well has never been more lovingly dark, layered or rewarding.
6. Antony and the Johnsons – Swanlights [Secretly Canadian]
Experimenting with exotic, surreal tones and even the odd slather of shoegaze-style reverb, Antony Hegarty and his group departed from the somewhat morbid, confronting themes of The Crying Light for this discernibly more hope-inspired offering.
5. Holy Fuck – Latin [Young Turks]
I usually hate any form of experimental, quasi-industrial post-rock electronica-wank garbage. …But I love this.
4. Danny and the Champions of the World – Streets of Our Time [Loose Music]
Somewhere between Dylan, Neil Young, Ryan Adams and lead singer Danny Wilson’s own Grand Drive, Streets of Our Time pays beautiful, touching, yet sprightly homage to the trials and tribulations of ageing. There’s a banjo, too!
3. Cloud Control – Bliss Release [Ivy League]
Not only the undisputed winner of the ‘most appropriate album title of the year’ award, Bliss Release’s take on The Smiths, crossed with some afrobeat chanting and beautiful Go-Betweens style harmonies revealed Cloud Control as Australia’s newest musical prodigies.
2. Grinderman – Grinderman 2 [Mute Records]
Grinderman’s first album sounded a little too similar to the Birthday Party for some Cave fans, so it was pleasing that on this, their second release, the scratchy, lo-fi guitar was toned down a little and Ellis’ notoriously haunting bouzouki was given a greater role to play. Most satisfying though is Cave’s sleazy, violent humour, which has rarely seen better days.
1. Arcade Fire – The Suburbs [Merge]
The Springsteen influences of Montreal’s finest baroque pop septet were finally placed centre stage in this earnest, bittersweet ode to life in the ‘burbs. Moving away from the epic, complex arrangements that characterised their former albums, they’ve created instead a sprawling, understated opus more consistent and ultimately more moving than their previous work.