The best local albums of the year 2022
Just as 2022 has been another spectacularly unpredictable year around the world, the local music scene has remained volatile and uncertain, as successive Covid waves, urban development projects and economic instability have continued to cause hardship for musicians, artists and music spaces. However, amongst this there is a sense of turning a corner, as stalwart venues and dedicated promoters and crews have continued to push against these challenges to bring back the musical vitality of Sydney. Meanwhile, initiatives to revitalise the city continue to gather steam after a near-decade of lockdowns and lockouts.
Just as significantly, the whole of Sydney continues to be home to so many exceptional independent musicians of all styles and persuasions. From emerging cutting edge talent to veteran artists who continue to push the boundaries of their craft across decades, we are incredibly fortunate to have such a hotbed of musical excellence right here on our doorstep and it’s something everyone at 2SER is proud to be able to support and share with you.
2SER’s amazing specialist music programs have been huge champions of local music in it’s various forms, with hundreds of interviews and artist features aired throughout the year on shows such as The Band Next Door, Static, The Tuckshop, The Outpost , Down Low Disco , Departure Lounge , The Space in Between as well as of course Breakfast, The Daily, Drive and many more.
Over half of the music played on rotation in 2022 on 2SER has been from Australian artists with approximately half of that number again being music made in our city and surrounds. We have some of the best in the world right here and we love it.
The following list is in no particular order, and nor is it exhaustive: in fact, these are also the fourteen releases by Sydney artists that were 2SER Feature Album at various times throughout the year that was. Read on, enjoy, thanks for the music and see you in 2023! – Lachlan Holland (2SER Music Coordinator)
The Laurels – Homecoming Third Eye Stimuli
Following a few release setbacks in the face of the pandemic, Sydney based garage rock four-piece The Laurels came back with their first album in six years, ‘Homecoming’. Straying away from their DIY approach to recording, they laid down the ten tracks off the record at Parliament Studios in Leichhardt with the help of producer Lachlan Mitchell.
With a live focus in mind, Luke O’Farrell (Guitars/vocal) and Piers Cornelius (Guitars/Vocals) pre-recorded demos and ideas that were then developed with the whole band before heading into the studio. What culminated is an atmospheric guitar driven record that’s infused with swirling elements of garage rock, baggy Madchester rhythms and shoegaze. On the albums theme of home O’Farrell said:
“We realised that a lot of the songs kept referencing “home” in the lyrics….It feels like we’ve come to the end of a journey and things have come full circle with this record, so it felt fitting that this idea of “home” kept finding its way into a lot of the tracks.”
Homecoming is an album that was well and truly worth the wait, displaying the bands ability to present an amalgamation of sounds spanning a unique range of influences. “Homecoming” ultimately showcases their maturity and capacity to continually present quality guitar driven music.
Party Dozen – The Real Work GRUPO/Temporary Residence
Local duo Party Dozen, aka Kirsty Tickle and Jonathan Boulet, came through with their bold, brash and screaming third album – The Real Work.
Not for the faint of heart, it’s a wildly adventurous and noise charged album, with heady, demented dance grooves that scream of live-performed energy and a search for new forms, tension-ridden power jams, all underpinned by unified sax, fuzz guitar and sampled loops. The sporadic vocals are mostly recorded by Tickle singing through the bell-end of her saxophone.
This an album for which superlatives come thick and fast, but genre-definitions don’t, and experimentalism sits at it’s core:
We try not to replicate the same vibe twice. Each record is a compilation of ideas we think we haven’t explored as a band. Every time we come to jam new songs we consider how the jam might fit into our catalogue as a whole.
Their live shows are becoming legendary both here and abroad, and they’ve put down an album here that captures this spirit perfectly.
Laura Jean – Amateurs (CHAPTER MUSIC)
Her first record since the release of Devotion in 2018, Amateurs is proclaimed as an album centred around anti-art and anti-intellectual culture in Australia, perennial 2SER favourite Laura Jean explores the priority of art in her life, and questions her roles as a songwriter:
“Amateurs means to do something for love, not money, and somehow it’s become a dirty word, shorthand for a failure,” says Laura. “These songs arise from my acceptance that I will always be an ‘amateur.’ At the same time, in making this record I was fuelled by a desire to create something inordinately luxurious and beautiful.”
From the layered strings, emotional keys, pop synths and Laura’s trademark haunting vocals, Amateurs draws presents listeners with a perfect fusion of deep-synth pop as well as her longstanding folk releases, this is an album perfect for a warm morning, a cold night and everything in between.
Johnny Hunter – WANT Independent
Released in July, WANT is a stunning first album from local heroes, Johnny Hunter that quickly became a firm favourite across the station.
Their sound is powered by soaring and anthemic lyrics, that rides on strong waves of melodic guitar and their own unique drive, hitting frequent high points throughout an excellent debut LP.
Whilst couched in a poetic 80s aesthetic (and new romantic imagery) , the heart and energy make this stand out on its own, as it addresses such topics as generational shift, self-actualisation and toxic masculinity.
Key Out – Afterville False Peake Records
Key out are a Sydney-based four-piece four piece fronted by Paddy Haid and Caroline Wake. Afterville is their third album, the follow up to 2020’s Anthropomorphia (also a 2SER feature), and is an arresting trip through beautifully layered guitars and electronic synthesis.
909 drums work in with acoustic elements and songwriting that explore themes such as distance and digital connections, it’s a beautiful and warm album that sweeps one up with it’s own beautifully arranged and undulating energy.
Definitely one to hit play from the top and ride with and among the most accomplished records to drop locally this year.
Library Siesta – What you’re worth Independent
Following on from 2015’s Future Haunts, Sydney dream-pop auteurs Library Siesta dropped their second LP in August after having drawn us in all year with a handful of stellar singles.
Written over six years, and beautifully produced with an open and spacious recording style, What you’re worth on the surface is a soothing ride through sweet and open indie-pop. However, the sunny compositions give a shiny gloss that contrast with lyrical content that frequently deals with abuse, heartbreak and mental illness.
As well as the excellent playing on this, it’s that juxtaposition between the lighter pop aesthetic and a brutally honest storytelling narrative that raise this into a truly compelling listen, and it’s an album as real as they come.
Julia Jacklin – Pre Pleasure Liberation
Another long-term favourite on 2SER, Julia Jacklin released her third album at the end of August.
Recorded in Montreal with co-producer Marcus Paquin, Pre Pleasure is at turns cinematic and haunting. Orchestral overtones gel with songwriting that hinges on Jacklin’s distinct style of restrained melancholic vocals.
Pre Pleasure is refined and laid down with feeling all the way, ranging from introspective ballads to sumptuous indie-rock songs, that ebbs and swell throughout. and is a fine addition to the catalogue of a Sydney artist who is always going from strength to strength.
Loose Fit – Social Graces Virgin Records
Long known for their powerful live performances, local post-punk outfit Loose Fit came through in April with their debut album ‘Social Graces’.
Lead singer Kaylene Milner’s crooning vocals linger above an ambient bed of pulsing bass lines and spaced out guitar riffs that are infused with large doses of gorgeous reverb. The heavy rhythm section that many of the tracks carry echo the sound of modern British post bands like Dry Cleaning and Squid, while still maintaining an authentically Australian post-punk sound on the album.
“I think the album is a truthful document of a weird time. Covid-era has sucked (of course), but did give us time to explore new sounds and ways of working. It was a shit time to be a band, but it was great to have a vessel to channel all our anxieties and pent-up energy into. I think the album has all that fucked-up 2020/2021 energy in it.” Bassist Richard Martin
Social graces is an emotionally charged journey of eleven tracks that lyrically tackles the intimate struggles of human life and the anxieties that spawn from re emerging into a new social world after pandemic forced lockdowns. It’s a wide-ranging album that bears repeated listening and we’ve been loving revisiting this one all year.
Body Type – Everything is dangerous but nothing is surprising Poison City Records
May 2022 saw blistering indie rockers Body Type released their debut album Everything Is Dangerous But Nothing’s Surprising.
The local four-pieces release was entirely self-funded, and is filled with a sense of complete and absolute urgency, driven by vocals that are infused with the energy that arises after a period of extreme creative restlessness.
“What was important about Everything Is Dangerous But Nothing’s Surprising is that we got to do it the way that we wanted to do it. It brought us back to why we started the band in the first place” Cecil Coleman
This lyrical approach is underpinned by sparkling vocal harmonies and pulsating rhythm sections which drive the record along with a contagious energy.
Buzz Kull – Fascination AVANT!
As much a release for the northern winter as the southern summer, Eora/Sydney-based synth and darkwave exponent Marc Dwyer, aka Buzz Kull, unleashed his third album, Fascination, in November.
Fascination, Buzz Kull’s third album, draws aesthetic inspiration from late 80s EBM and European New Beat and electro through it’s stark and dystopian sonic template, whilst being a contemporary successor to the likes of Nitzer Ebb, Yello and Model 500.
A dance record at heart, it conjures images of sweaty bodies dancing in a hot club. Energetic synthesiser melodies brashly cut across dance rhythms and rigid arpeggios, a function of this being a solo project rooted in live performance, and the swirling electronic dance focus often gives way to introspective ambient pieces and it’s an excellent record that explores much ground from the hardworking Sydney producer.
Flowertruck – Partly Cloudy Spunk Records/Virgin
An affirming listen all the way and an excellent no-filler record.
Recorded in the beautiful enclave of Stanwell Park, on the border of the National Park south of Sydney, longtime 2SER favourites came through in September with an album that attempts to pay tribute to, and draw a line under, a decade spent in the seedier side of the live music scene.
And it’s a fantastic listen: a sublime garage-pop experience, that careens along a path of jangly riffs and fuzzy goodness, with constant warm charm and Flowertrucks distinctive sound.
Crocodylus – Muscle Memory Independent
For such a long-running local group, it comes as a surprise that Muscle Memory, the mind-blowing debut album from Northern Beaches three-piece, is in fact their first.
The album came to a start in August of 2020, in the midst of the pandemic. The title is a direct reference to the hit the music industry took during lockdowns, and the struggle and hard work that it has taken to build live music back up to its former glory.
Despite the ins and outs of the past few years, Crocodylus have emerged victorious with a stellar fourteen track document of their sound so far: a powerful fusion of alternative, indie and psychedelic rock, and one of the strongest debuts of the year.
Alannah Russack’s Entropy Band – As Memories Pass Each Other Independent
A member of the highly regarded indie pop band The Hummingbirds and more recently The Aerial Maps, As Memories Pass Each Other showcases Alannah’s musical adaptability and natural gift for melodic storytelling.
As Memories Pass Each Other is an introspective examination of memories that seem to linger around old haunts and intertwine like a tapestry of the past. Alannah provides an intricate insight into her experiences of love, loss, and much more. Each song searches for understanding and explores a new memory with an immersive and engaging musical style to match the mood and drive the story.
Beginning with with ‘Places You Love,’ a bright song that establishes the musical tone and place-based themes of the album, it’s a bittersweet reflection on our nostalgic connection to places throughout our lives. The musical contrast across the album that follows is beaten only by the vast array of lyrical themes, which collectively provide a small insight into the human condition and a longing for unattainable answers.
With songs that join disparate recollections and places, this is an exceptional debut record from a cast of Sydney mainstays that hits a sweet spot of realness and familiar jangle-pop shine.
Andy Golledge – Strength of a Queen I OH YOU/Mushroom
A long time favourite on the Sydney alt-country scene, Andy Golledge‘s Strength of a Queen brought the various strands of his sound into the one place in a colourful and lively first album.
Golledge is an artist that (along with his band) can readily be described as lifer, having been playing shows in the Inner West for the better part of 15 years prior to this debut. He already had a reputation for delivering live shows that are known for energy and drawing a local cult-like following (and the album is loaded with references to Sydney locations).
In fact, many of the songs contained on Strength of a Queen evolved as staples of his live show over many years.
His musical partnership with singer/songwriter Caitlin Harnett (of Caitlin Harnett and The Pony Boys, a former 2SER Feature Artist) further honed and developed the groups sound as their following has grown.
Despite growing up in Tamworth and a love of country music in it’s various forms, it took an extended road trip across the USA to fully grasp it’s cultural roots:
“In Australia it’s a persona or a performance, there it’s a way of life. There’s an element of danger that I learned over there that I’ve put in our music.”
And there is a travel diary aspect to be found across Strength of a Queen, as well as a rollicking introduction to Golledge’s particular brand of Australiana, and it’s a fine homegrown debut played with sincerity and rawness, filled with a cinematic openness and a fixation on scenery, while underpinned with a human sense of melancholy and confronting loss, with music as a catharsis.
Words by Bethany Tracey, Oscar Byrne, Jasmin Williams, James Sice and Lachlan Holland.