Top Ten things I enjoyed in 2017, in no particular order and randomly numbered:
5. Tenebrous Liar - The Cut (Album) I have faith Tenebrous Liar can save us from the Indie-pocolypse. I don’t know how to describe this album - the sounds and mood is as wonderfully textural and emotive as frontman Steve Gullick’s photographs (which he is better known for). Highlights “Alienation”, “Lowlands”, “Swing For Me”... all of it. Bandcamp.
4. Chelsea Wolfe - Hiss Spun (Album) This entry is more for Chelsea Wolfe’s catalogue than just this one album. I was late on the uptake and only discovered her music this year. Albums “Abyss” and “Unknown Rooms” have been on repeat, though Hiss Spun also has plenty of charms too. Website. Listen on Spotify.
We Are The Plague - Suzie Stapleton (Negative Prophet)
Suzie Stapleton is a lifer: a singer songwriter guitar, violin and piano player and a rare breed of musician. She is the complete package. From the angular arrangement of melodies to the blues that float around her head, music is a 24/7 occupation..
Originally from Sydney, this artist knew that Melbourne was where she needed to be to develop her craft and skills by playing solo, and with all sorts of musicians, both live and in the studio. She became highly respected in that town.
I first saw her at the Prince of Wales in Melbourne with a cellist accompanying her, and Suzie completely claimed the room as her own. Even the most ardent St Kilda, beer-in-hand, rock pigs were blown away Two EPs were released and licensed in Europe, where word soon spread about her atmospheric vocal, guitar playing and original and dark arrangements.
Australian alternative artist Suzie Stapleton is heading back home in 2018 for a long overdue homecoming tour.
This is Stapleton’s first time back to Oz since relocating to London in 2015 and she'll perform solo shows in hometown Melbourne and Sydney in March with more to be announced.
Over the past three years Suzie has been captivating audiences with her electric live performances, midnight vocal, and guitar-driven noir soundscapes whilst touring the UK and Europe with artists such as Mark Lanegan, Mick Harvey, and Jim Jones & The Righteous Mind.
In 2017 she appeared as guest vocalist on Lydia Lunch & Cypress Grove’s unlikely album “Under The Covers” - a continuation of Stapleton’s collaborations with Cypress Grove on "The Jeffrey Lee Pierce Sessions Project", featuring Iggy Pop, Nick Cave and Debbie Harry.
"Yesterday’s Town" is huge. You think you know where she’s going, but she doesn’t take you there. The lyrics are like a stripped-back novella. Suzie really nails the slow/uptempo dynamic with her romantic guitar and sweet and smoky (by turns) voice.
Suzie’s been going about her career the right way (photos, film clips bios and downloads
). She's moved from Melbourne to London and is building a profile. Her production on "Yesterday’s Town" is superb, and the song itself begs for mainstream airplay, and I can only assume the majors are scampering with intent toward her right now.
So why is a free downloadable single such a significant item?
Because it’s not just a cheaper snapshot into an artist’s work. It can be an Instagram into an imaginary, lush and extraordinary world. The single worships the song itself, transforms it from one more song in a sequence (as with a CD or LP) and one more song in a set, and draws the song into greater, more concentrated focus.
Which means, when you hear something labelled a single, if it’s an old single, like from before the 1990s, you really do have to imagine the new owner playing the song over and over.