Tag Archive: Silverchair

10 Greatest Australian Albums

As you may know, Triple J are in the process of taking votes for their upcoming Hottest 100 Australian Albums of All Time countdown. Being the semi-obsessed music lover that I am, I could not pass up the opportunity to exert my influence on the outcome. However, the task of choosing only the ten best Australian albums proved somewhat difficult, and did result in a number of excellent albums being omitted from my final list.

Anyway, for the pleasure of the two or so blog readers I have, I’ve decided to share with you my top 10 (in no particular order, except for denoting my number 1 choice) as well as a few glaring omissions that were reluctantly made due to capacity constraints.

10. Birds of Tokyo – Universes

It was impossible to pass up Universes, the Birds’ second release, and arguably still their greatest. A very solid release balancing harder alternative elements with a pop-rock sound, Universes spawned some of the best recent Aussie music releases I know of. Broken Bones is a solid track, Wild Eyed Boy was the song that got me into the band and to this day I still love, and the epic Silhouettic, my clear favourite from the album, redefines brilliant. Combine the fact that this was released as recently as 2008, and was created by a bunch of sandgropers, and it’s hard to argue that this is a masterpiece worthy of recognition.

9. The Butterfly Effect – Final Conversation of Kings

This would be a countdown by me if it didn’t include a Butterfly Effect album – these boys from Brisbane have been in my mind the best thing to come from the sunshine state ever since a certain fateful night last April (they were only second best prior). I agonised about whether this album or its predecessor Imago was more worthy of the place as the exclusive TBE album on my list (I couldn’t justify putting two from the same artist, regardless of how good I rate that artist to be). However, it was the first seven tracks of this album that swayed me towards picking their latter effort. Just incredible.

8. The Cat Empire – The Cat Empire

This one is sure to please a certain someone north of the border. I don’t know how to describe The Cat Empire, and I’d reckon neither do they. They are without a doubt the most unique band Australia has produced, and are still to this day the best live band I have ever seen (a claim I firmly stand by, and that’s in comparison to some little known bands I’ve seen like Metallica, Muse, Slash and a few others). While it was the single “Hello” that first helped them gain notoriety, it’s tracks like “The Rhythm“, “The Chariot“, “Days Like These“, “The Wine Song“, “How to Explain” and “One Four Five” that entertain me the most. And given my almost exclusive love for rock as a genre, the fact that this funk-ska-indie-Latin band even rate a mention of something of note.

7. Children Collide – Theory of Everything

The newest album on this list, and a very thankful modern addition given my fear for the lack of quality music being produced in general by the music industry in recent times. I got into this album thanks to the first single “Jellylegs” (after randomly flicking onto it when trying to find something decent on the radio – thanks Triple J). My current love for it is primarily due to my near-obsession with “Loveless” at the moment, not to mention the quality of a few others on the album like “Arrows“, “Complacency No Vacancy” and “My Eagle“. It’s good to see these Melburnians flying the flag for modern Aussie rock.

6. Flowers – Icehouse

This is the oldest album I’ve chosen, being released in 1980 here in Australia. Thanks in part to some musical influence from my mother, I absolutely love Iva Davies’ voice, and am a big fan of his music. I was determined to put an Icehouse album in this list, but it was one hell of a challenge to pick which one. While “Primitive Man” was brilliant, “Man of Colours” truly incredible, and “Sidewalk” contained my all-time favourite Icehouse song, just on the number of great tracks I had to choose their first album (despite the technicality that the band who released it weren’t actually called Icehouse at the time – they were still “Flowers”).  Sure, they hadn’t quite reached the peak of their refined sound that came in later albums, but I liked the rougher rock edge of their earliest work. And with tracks like “Can’t Help Myself“, “Walls“, “We Can Get Together“, “Sister“, not to mention the title track, I think it’d be hard to disagree.

5. The Living End – The Living End

The Living End are a band I expect to fare very well in this countdown, given they went something like 10 years without not getting a song in the annual Hottest 100 countdowns. Interestingly, like with Icehouse, it’s their debut album I’ve chosen to recognise as their greatest as it not only contained some fantastic songs (think “Prisoner of Society“, “Second Solution“, “All Torn Down” and my personal favourite in “West End Riot“, as well as many others), but it set the scene for this punkabilly-rock band from Wheelers Hill to dominate the domestic rock music scene for the next decade and more.

(Apologies about the links to the live versions of the songs – evidently there is only a filmclip for Prisoner of Society)

4. Powderfinger – Odyssey Number Five

These guys are another band I expect to feature very highly, and on the strength of some of their work deservedly so. It’s a real pity that overplaying ruined many of the singles from this album, because songs like “My Happiness” and “These Days” are brilliant in their own right, it’s just that even now no one wants to listen to them again. However, it’s not just due to those songs that I rate Odyssey as an album. “My Kind of Scene” is a fantastic song, “The Metre” is equally impressive, and “Waiting For The Sun” would probably be my favourite by the ‘Finger. Odyssey was the peak of Powderfinger’s work in my opinion, and while I’m not ridiculously obsessed with them as a band, I’ve got quite a bit of time for their melodic soft-rock sound, and in particular the sound they created on this release.

3. Silverchair – Frogstomp

Again, like the last few artists, I struggled to pick which album by these guys deserved my vote, and I think they’ll feature heavily in the final countdown (continental pun not intended). In the end, despite strong competition from a number of later releases (excluding the most recent), it was the debut album Frogstomp that got my vote (and I can hear the exclamations of disbelief coming from the south east as we speak, or at the very least I’ll hear about it Tomorrow). Given that I wrote about these guys and this album very recently, I won’t bore you again with the nitty gritty, I’ll just say that this was a very solid release, additionally worthy of praise given it was the debut recording by a band not old enough to even fornicate legally in some states.

2. The Whitlams – Eternal Nightcap

The brilliance, and equally, the depressingness of this album is truly mesmerising, and just shows off Tim Freedman‘s songwriting genius at its finest. To go from the depressing story of the Charlie trio of songs, to the upbeat sound of “You Sound Like Louis Burdett“; from the happy reflectivity of a song like “Melbourne” to the distant longing for another in “No Aphrodisiac” – I’d argue there’s no greater emotive songwriter in this country than this man. This album is a work worthy of marvel, and I sincerely hope it rates highly in the countdown like it does in mine.

Which brings me to the final choice, and my nominated “greatest Australian album of all time”. The artist won’t shock many, but is surprisingly calm for someone like me with a “heavier” taste in music.

1. Something For Kate – Echolalia

In fact, I’ll admit that I surprised myself when I decided on Echolalia as my favourite Australian album of all time. However, the reasoning was surprisingly simple – of the 13 tracks on this album, I couldn’t find a single weak one. Now if that doesn’t fit the bill as being the greatest album, then nothing will. And I’m serious too. As someone who’s listened to this album start-to-finish a number of times, there’s not a bad song. Not to mention that it contains absolute gems such as the hugely popular (in its day at least) “Monsters“, “Old Pictures” (one of my favourites, which devastatingly I can’t find an online clip for), “Stunt Show“, “Jerry Stand Up“, “Three Dimensions“, “Say Something“, “Feeding The Birds and Hoping for Something in Return” and “Twenty Years” (and yes I could go on, but I’d better stop myself), it rates very highly in my book.

Again, I agonised about whether “The Official Fiction” (the album with my absolute favourite SFK song – “Reverse Soundtrack” (sorry about the quality of the link) – as well as the very famous “Deja Vu” and “Song for a Sleepwalker“) or even “Desert Lights“, but I had to go with Echolalia for the reasons mentioned above.

So that’s the list, ridiculously incomplete as usual, and bound to upset some based upon the albums I missed out. I do apologise to the many bands whose work did deserve to be recognised, but just didn’t make the cut (and believe me, there were many). However, I’m pretty satisfied that I’ve produced a solid list. Now let the criticisms begin…


Friday Flashback #22

Back by unpopular demand, and finally a relaxed uni timetable (for now)…

Today’s Friday Flashback is inspired by the news that the band Silverchair have announced they are moving into a period of “indefinite hiberation”, which as anyone associated with music will know means that they have split. I’d like to say I’m sad to hear this, but the report goes on to say that the split occurred while the band were recording their sixth album. Short of North Korea disarming its nuclear arsenal, this means the world has dodged its biggest bullet to date.

Mind you, it wasn’t always this bad, as the above video shows. The song linked is “Anthem For The Year 2000”, from their third album “Neon Ballroom“, released in 1999. This was arguably the last album where Silverchair could claim to be a proper rock band. They got their start back in 1992 as a few high school students who jammed together. The demo of the song “Tomorrow” won them a contest on Triple J, which saw the band adopt their current name and enter a studio to record it properly.

In 1995, their debut album Frogstomp was released, first seriously putting Silverchair on the map. In addition to Tomorrow, the album contained a number of grungy gems such as “Israel’s Son” (a song with one of the most beautifully grungy bass lines ever), “Pure Massacre“, “Leave Me Out” and “Suicidal Dream“. As far as debut albums go, I’d probably rank this one up with the best of them (I’m talking Led Zeppelin I, Wolfmother and a few others I can’t think of, but must get around to doing a post on one day).

In 1997, their second album “Freak Show” was released to an arguably even better reception than their first. The big hit was undoubtedly the aptly-named “Freak” with that unmistakably brilliant riff to kick it off. Others from this album included “Abuse Me“, “Cemetery” and the rather underrated “The Door“.

Following Freak Show came the slightly different sound of “Neon Ballroom” as mentioned earlier. While tracks like Anthem retained the grunginess of their earlier albums, it was tracks like “Emotion Sickness“, “Ana’s Song (Open Fire)” and “Miss You Love” which showed a different side to the band. While still excellent songs and in at least some way still possessing the rock qualities of their earlier music, these songs were unfortunately a sign of the slippery slope into sickly pop that the band was about to make.

In 2002 came the release of “Diorama“, which confirmed the change in direction the band had started on the previous release. Although tracks like “The Greatest View” and “Without You” were still rock, songs like “Across The Night” and “Luv Your Life” showed far more elements of pop than rock, a sound that the band Frogstomp-era would have despised.

Following Diorama, Silverchair went on a brief hiatus while band members explored other projects. The most notable of these was lead singer Daniel Johns’ project The Dissociatives, which was unfortunately notable for the wrong reasons. However, even this bad music could not warn of the absolute tripe that was about to come upon their return.

Apparently at some point between 2002 and 2007 Daniel Johns and his male genitalia were parted from each other, which resulted in the rather unfortunate release of “Young Modern” in 2007. Despite this album being a complete and utter pile of felch (to steal an expression from a friend), it went on to sell hugely well and was critically acclaimed. For the life of me I still can’t figure out why. The success was largely on the back of the single “Straight Lines” (you all know it, and given how much I hate it I won’t link to it), though the equally awful “Reflections of a Sound” was also inexplicably well received.

So, based upon their last effort, Silverchair’s disbanding mid-recording does not sadden me at all. All the sadness I’d felt for losing Silverchair was felt in the years following Diorama, where the band descended from being a respectable grunge-rock band to a sickly pop outfit who played terrible music. This disbanding just grants me the relief that we won’t have to hear any more new Silverchair material anytime in the near future.

I will say one thing though – short of maybe David Bowie, Silverchair would have to be in my opinion the band whose sound has changed most dramatically over the course of their recording career. If you listened to Frogstomp and Young Modern without knowing they were both the same band, you’d probably not realise they were.

So, some fans will be sad at the loss of the former Newcastle rock outfit, but in my mind they died years ago. Let’s just hope this doesn’t mean we hear more Daniel Johns solo projects. If that happens, maybe I’ll be praying for North Korea to start firing their missiles.