Rory McCartney is one of BMA Magazine's most diligent and prolific contributors of music reviews in 2011. The man is also a fervent champion of Australian music, as you will read below - Bossman Allan Sko
10. The Vasco Era – The Vasco Era [Inertia]
Blues rockers The Vasco Era were back with a fresh dose of mayhem in their third full length release. Famed for their passionate shows and irreverent approach to normal song structures, the new material is even crazier. Vocalist Sid, with his famed raspy toned voice, celebrates the band’s ‘demolition’ approach to music. Music designed to get people to do wild stuff!
9. Dead Letter Chorus – Yearlings [ABC Music/Universal]
Yearlings is an indie-pop/folk triumph. It's outstanding feature is the beauty of the vocals, both in their quality and in the polyphonic vocal arrangements that sees voices blended to engage at a personal level. Cameron Potts dominates the opening track, but the album belongs to the soaring voice of Gabrielle Huber. Particularly terrific when harmonising with Cameron in Yellow House, and she excels in solos such as All Mine.
8. Belles Will Ring – Crystal Theatre [Inertia/Dot Dash Recordings]
Belles Will Ring have done for alternative pop/rock what The Middle East did for folk, in this creation of mystery and surprise. The honeyed, flowing vocals are pierced by music that is often deliberately jarring in its expression of anger or misfortune. The musicianship is amazing, the tracks are cleverly crafted, and the vocal harmonies are a standout feature of this album.
7. The Middle East – I Want That You Are Always Happy [Spunk Records]
The Middle East's debut is a thrilling collection of dramatic contrasts between light and shadow. With an extreme range of themes, leaping between darkness and frivolity, The Middle East’s music has a fragile quality, which can be almost overwhelmed by the background chatter at gigs, but this production has captured the full depth and richness of the sound.
6. Boy & Bear – Moonfire [Universal]
While they gained fame covering a Crowded House classic, this disc proves they should be lauded for their own songwriting skills. The music is enticing as it varies between the brisk Milk & Sticks, the slower House & Farm and the Calypso-tinted The Village. It’s the vocals of Dave Hosking that really make this record, using his incredible vocal range to warp multiple inflections into a single word.
5. The Panics – Rain on the Humming Wire [Dew Process]
The second album with the Dew Process label has moved The Panics into a bigger world. It combines brilliant musicality with the rich vocals of front man and songwriter Jae Laffer, that engulf the listener at every turn. While the consistent feel running through the album is a lushness that brings all the cosiness of a polar fleece blanket, this is an album of many moods against which to match your emotions.
4. Calling All Cars – Dancing With a Dead Man [Shock Records]
Calling All Cars have long impressed with their frequent full blooded, rock out gigs in Canberra, either in support of such worthies as The Butterfly Effect or headlining their own shows. Their sophomore effort is chockfull of great lyrics, marauding guitars and dirty riffs in a celebration of all that’s best in Aussie garage rock.
3. Trial Kennedy – Living Undesigned [MGM]
Since their formation in 2002, Melbournians Trial Kennedy have been the dark horse of Australian garage rock. Their second album should help them gain the attention they deserve. Strange Behaviour, the first single released from the album, is the highlight of a collection filled with great tracks, with its grand vocal harmonies and a super catchy melodic line that cements itself in you ear canal.
2. The Grates – Secret Rituals [Dew Process/Universal]
Churned out during a bitter New York winter, the album was the first without drummer Alana Skyring and the first to include a bass in the instrumental mix. The results reveal a band with a stronger, more developed sound. Patience’s high, sweet voice is still sending out rays of energy, but her vocals are more forceful, with the old quirkiness being replaced by a new depth and character.
1. Cilla Jane – Until Morning Comes [Green/MGM]
Melbournian Cilla Jane’s second album comes after early recognition of her talent and sponsorship through a John Butler Seed Fund grant. It is a work of great beauty, a record to make the boys sigh and the girls shed a silent tear. This girl has a voice that just has to be heard to be believed, an alluring tone which is both sweet and tinged with a certain sadness.