Before 4ZZ could start broadcasting in 1975, a transmitter was ordered from the U.S. But after it was lost on the dock in New York, 4ZZ's chief engineer at the time Ross Dannecker built the station's first transmitter.
Top Albums of 2011
We've been canvassing our announcers for the past couple of weeks to find out what they think the best albums of the last twelve months have been and now it's time for the grand unveiling. It's been an interesting experience collating the votes and it has shown the true variety of tastes that exists at the station. Over 250 different albums made at least one person's top ten this year and styles range from pop to drone, from pysch-rock to R&B. And that's just our top-ten.
If you're curious as to what your favourite show picked or what the music department thought, you can find a selection of shows over at:
the individual show list page.
We've got all the details you could want, just below. with the 20 highest rating albums amongst all our announcers. Now, let's get to it!
n.b. all links lead to Bandcamp, Youtube, Vimeo or Soundcloud.
20. tUnE-yArDs - w h o k i l l
tUnE-yArDs - Bizness
Not many bands manage to be this blatantly experimental and this much fun at the same time. The manic exuberance of w h o k i l l is what draws you in at first; on repeated listens, you realise that all this energy comes from anger as much as joy, and that the lyrics engage with some heavy political themes. It's equally rewarding as a thought-provoking close listen, or as something to put on and dance around wildly.
19. Art Vs Science - The Experiment
Art vs Science - Magic Fountain
18. Cosmic Psychos - Glorius Barsteds
They may or may not be basterds (sic), but they sure are glorius (siccer)! The Melbourne veterans of all things heavy and groove-laden smashed back into the fray with their first album in years, and also one of the best of their illustrious 30-year career. Showing just why they were faves of the grunge gang (including Mr Cobain) back in the day, Knighty and the boys produced a set of droning, catchy-as-fuck tunes with their usual brilliantly flippant lyrics: if you can’t crack a smile at the imagery invoked by opening track Nice Day To Go To The Pub then you’re either dead inside or not a fair dinkum Aussie!
17. Twerps - Twerps LP
Twerps - Dreamin
Classic Chapter Music stuff - slightly off-key guitars and woozy singing which complement nicely the sweetly antiquated sounding guitar-pop (think Flying Nun's 80s roster). The production has worked a bit of a wonder: reining in the lo-fi aesthetic just enough to really let the melodic sweetness cut through. There's just something about their off-kilter pop which makes folks everywhere turn around and take notice.
16. The Scrapes - Kali Yuga Sunrise
The Scrapes - Ten10
2010's Electric Mourning Blues showcased The Scrapes' talents in intricate song structure. 2011's Kali Yuga Sunrise in turn shows off the duo's ability to deconstruct their songcraft. This album is an exploration of sound by two very talented musicians on a journey of self discovery. There is a rawness to this record that holds you captive for its entirety. Engulfing drones, soaring violin, crunching guitar, hypnotising tapping rhythms; there is a lot going on throughout this record and all of it fits together perfectly.
15. Black Lips - Arabia Mountain
Black Lips - Go Out And Get It
They started off as snot-nosed brats causing mayhem in the underground Atlanta rock scene, but over time Black Lips have morphed into one of the best garage bands doing the global rounds today, and their sixth studio album Arabia Mountain is a perfect encapsulation of this transformation. Short, stabby blasts of melodic, hook-laden goodness tumble out one after the other in a seemingly ceaseless cavalcade of cavalier expressionism. They may never be able to properly capture the debauched awesomeness of a Black Lips live show in the studio, but this collection of happy tracks is a bloody good attempt!
14. The Decemberists - The King Is Dead
The Decemberists - Down By The Water
Colin Meloy and gang branch out into Americana-influenced folk-rock and bring in their strongest album in years. Meloy's lyrics are still brilliantly literary, but there's a relaxed feeling to proceedings that brings back the joy of their best work and makes the songs fun again.
13. The Jezabels - Prisoner
The Jezabels - Endless Summer
12. Total Control - Henge Beat
This pooling of the talents of core members of The UV Race and Eddy Current Suppression Ring delivers above and beyond expectations. Total Control have fused kraut, post-punk, garage and new-wave on this tour of dark and cold sounds of Europe in the 70s and 80s. This record thrums with a spine-tingling energy over its entire length and the individual songs snap together to form a whole of perfect symmetry.
11. A Winged Victory for the Sullen - A Winged Victory for the Sullen
A Winged Victory For The Sullen - Steep Hills of Vicodin Tears
Stars of the Lid's Adam Wiltzie and composer/pianist Dustin O'Halloran have produced an album of beautiful minimalist arrangements with flawless instrumentation. This is a record made by two perfectionists. Strings quartets, piano and ambience so refined and expertly placed it leaves you in awe throughout. Recorded in large acoustic spaces mixed in a 17th century villa, processed completely in analogue, the end result is breathtaking dreamy orchestrations filled with subtleties, performed by musicians who know when to hold back.
10. Tim Hecker - Ravedeath, 1972
Tim Hecker - The Piano Drop
This album might at first seem like something of a departure from the harshness of some of Hecker's previous offerings. Based on a single day of recording sessions in a church in Reykjavik, these tracks explore the tension between fragility and disintegration, and at times the sonic assaults of Hecker's prior works seem to be barely kept in check. A restrained and measured album, yet no less interesting for those qualities, this collection of songs is Mr Hecker's finest release to date.
9. The Weeknd - House of Balloons
The Weeknd - High For This
This is a dark album lyrically and musically, but it’s also one of the straight sexiest releases you’re going to hear all year. Intricate production, mixed with Abel Tesfaye's stunning vocals, elevates this far above the common mass of R&B and gives rise to some perfect moments in pop music.
8. Brous - Brous
A beacon of light amongst the many sickly-sweet female vocalists of late, Melbourne-based Sophia Brous has delivered a powerful debut EP, filled with soaring vocals and delightfully jazzy arrangements. Mixing upbeat tracks with stripped back tunes that allow Brous's impressive vocals to shine, this is a great EP of jazz-influenced pop for someone looking for something a little different.
7. Ball Park Music - Happiness and Surrounding Suburbs
Ball Park Music - It's Nice To Be Alive
If you haven't heard of local six piece Ball Park Music, you must have been living under a pretty huge rock. Their debut album, released in September, is full of old classics ('iFly', 'All I Want Is You') as well as new favourites, including single 'It's Nice To Be Alive'. With a little something for everyone, it's the perfect accompaniment to Sunday afternoon ciders by the pool.
6. The Flangipanis - Cover Your Ears
The Flangipanis - My Period Is Late
The Flangipanis put plenty of fun into punk with their album Cover Your Ears - especially if you enjoy a generous helping of swearing with your music. Their joyously (rather than faux-defiantly) politically incorrect songs paint vivid (sometimes Very Vivid) word pictures, all given added punch by kick-arse tunes. Fast, frenetic and foul-mouthedly fabulous.
5. Abbe May - Design Desire
Abbe May - Design Desire
Perth blues-rocker Abbe May has once again changed-up her style, really toning down the vocal assault which was such a prominent part of Howl & Moan. Her willingness to take that risk and dial it back imparts subtlety, variation and an Allison Mossheart-esque quality of seduction and menace. Take note you world-famous blues-rockers, Abbe May has designs on your glory.
4. Feathers - Hunter's Moon
Hunter’s Moon is an often dreamy and sometimes dark release. Its hazy atmospheric sound is created through hypnotising harmonies, reverberating guitar and jangly tambourine. The psychedelic mix is rich with fuzzy layers of drone, most notably on stand-out track, Early Evening.
3. The Grates - Secret Rituals
The Grates - Turn Me On
The 3rd album from The Grates contains 11 tracks with nary a weak one amongst them. Full of powerful, energetic garage-pop songs with less of the bubblegummy undertones that flavoured some of their older tunes. The danger with music as instantly catchy as this, is that it sometimes pales after repeated listening, but I think most of the songs on this albums will still be effortlessly grabbing people's attention many years hence.
2. Royal Headache - Royal Headache
In a year where the number of garage records became so overwhelming that I swore I never wanted to hear another one, Royal Headache forced me to eat my words. Their incendiary mix of very punky garage and sweet-ass retro-pop (thanks in part to Straight Arrow's Owen Penglis behind the boards) in psychotically speedy, minute and a half long songs has pleased everyone and your mum.
1. Ben Salter - The Cat
Getting out on his own, Salter is able to excerise those things he does best and The Cat delivers a concentrated brew of really classic acoustic-pop songwriting cut with a gallows humour that is as black as the void. For extra added madness he teamed up with The Drones' lead misanthrope Gareth Liddiard to produce the record and on what must have been some bizarre whims, throws in a cornucopia of off-the-wall instrumental solos on Swedish bagpipe, hurdy gurdy and a very 80s sounding sax. It's like everything Salter does is one huge effort to stay ahead of the firmly held belief that it all must end horribly. So he races on while we get the privilege of being showered with the grim, funny and moving wreckage that his creativity hurls overboard on the way.