Jen Cloher - “Jen Cloher” The Australian album of the year, and in many years. Name-dropping heroes who have gone before her – from the Saints to the Go-Betweens to the Triffids – Cloher proved herself the equal of any of them.Peter Perrett - “How the West Was Won” This album was miraculous on two levels: one, that Perrett was still alive to make it, two, that Perrett’s gift for droll wit and languid melody remained perfectly intact. His band includes his two sons, and they did the Only Ones proud.Neil Finn - “Out of Silence”In a good year for old stagers, Finn’s album was among his finest. Ten tiny, perfect pocket symphonies in the mould of the Beach Boys and late XTC.Paul Kelly - “Life Is Fine”Another old stager. Kelly returned to the charts – his first number-one, in fact – with an album that summoned the ghosts of his old band the Coloured Girls/Messengers.The Dream Syndicate - “How Did I Find Myself Here”Next to Peter Perrett, the year’s best and most unexpected comeback. The Dream Syndicate’s first album in nearly 30 years was as bracing as their celebrated debut "The Days of Wine and Roses".
Not As Bad As It Could've Been - Scarth Hog (self-released) Mystery Train - Chickenstones: (Crankinhaus Records) Away from the Sun - Majestic Horses (Kasumuen Records) Yes, dear reader, I too wondered what a scarth was. Well, Scarth is a family name, and 'is of Anglo-Saxon origin and came from when the family lived in the county of Yorkshire, where they held the manor of Scarborough. This place-name was originally derived from the Old English Skaroisburg, which was brought into England during the Norman Conquest of 1066.' But Scarth is also Yorkshire dialect for a rough, bare rock. No-one ever said Bill Bostle (whose band this is) ever lacked a sense of humour.
I used to know Bill a little, back in the days when 205 was a conglomeration of interweaving bands rather than a street number, and when Bill played (drums) in King Snake Roost with, among other interesting ingredients, the late Charlie Tolnay. I recall one visit to his house (in a quiet inner Adelaide ‘burb) during which he boasted of being “the loudest bastard in the street” which, given that he had the Grateful Dead on 11, was patently obvious.