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Reviews

The Best Australian and New Zealand Music of 2015

It's been a big year for Aussie and Kiwi music, here are our top picks.

by Noisey Staff
08 December 2015, 3:06am


While some may think differently, we believe 2015 was a pretty great year for music. There was certainly a bunch of awesome Australian and New Zealand music produced over the last 12-months. We had a hard enough time narrowing our list down to 21 so there’s no way we were going to try and rank it. Let’s just say that these are some of favourite albums, songs, music videos and performances of the year.

Air Max 97 – “Passage”
One of the free download tracks to come from Nina Las Vegas’s new label, NLV Records, “Passage” from the young Melbourne-producer named after the classic Nike shoe design is lean, dark and dense. His self-described “oblique club” is perfect for 3am, whether you are in the middle of the club or a bedroom staring at a screen. - Reese Witherspoon


Angie – “Down For the Count”
The Sydney-based musician who has been involved in Circle Pit, Southern Comfort, Ruined Fortune and Straight Arrows, returned with her second solo album Free Agent. The second single, in which Angie plays every instrument but drums, has a droning but bluesy swagger. It's like the weariness and cool of someone who is well travelled but still searching. - Travis Notts

Courtney Barnett - Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit
2015 was a big year for Courtney Barnett that included ARIA awards, US talk show appearances, opening for Blur at the Hollywood Bowl and selling out the Forum in her hometown of Melbourne. But the appeal to Courtney’s music still lies in the simplicity and folksiness of her songs. They are homesupn that never fall too far towards whimsy or mawkishness. The reason Ellen loves her singing about Preston bungalows is the same reason as everyone else does. - Jose Bautista

Donny Benet’s Absolute Mastery of the Big Sound Festival
Donny Benét is a Sydney based solo recording artist known for his anachronistic musical style. He went to Brisbane during the Big Sound week and destroyed the joint. Read about the carnage here.

Blank Realm – “River of Longing”
Taken from the Brisbane band’s fifth album Illegals in Heaven, this track is a joyous and cracking celebration of messy and frantic noise. There is little in the way of melody but it brims with a deliriousness that is infectious. When Daniel and Sarah Spencer sing “"meet you on the other side/ and we’ll make up for stolen time” you'd be hard pressed to find a song as jubliant or rough and tumble. - Reese Witherspoon

Brando's Island - Autism Vision / Auto Warfare 7”
Out of the ashes of legendary anti-punks The Zingers come Brando's Island, a band that is wallowing in the fringes of new wave in much the same way that Zingers did punk. The four piece is comprised of drums, vocals, synthesiser and vibraphone, (no gee-tar, no worries), and the songs themselves are drenched in unease; paranoid mantras full of tics and spasms. “Autism Vision” leads this, their first single, and is a mutant jerk that falls into a heavy heap half way though and crawls across the finish line. The B side is the undeniable banger though, a groovy, unhinged screed warning the dangers of drone warfare and our impending loss of humanity. Inspired. - Sam Eckhardt


Lucy Cliché – Drain Down EP
Lucy Phelan has long been a part of the Sydney DIY music scene as one half of the longstanding Naked on the Vague, Knitted Abyss and the droney Half High. As Lucy Cliche she steps out solo in a more direct electronic dance direction with driving synth bass and heavily manipulated vocals without losing any of it’s bouncy dance. A mix of 808 patterns, claps, housey good times and sweaty punky tekkers. Don’t go home yet. - Dr. Doom

The Dance Asthmatics – Lifetime of Secretion
Another killer release from the great Melted Icecream camp/tape replicators sees this Christchurch band continuning their warped and munted take on punk Repetition seems the key and they filter an original style of punk, post punk, no wave and noise rock. One of them is named Brian Feary. This is the music I imagine Sun Ra would have produced if he lived in a Christchurch punk joint called Pagan House. - Tim Scott

Dick Diver – “Tearing the Posters Down”
When Dick Diver were touring the US earlier this year they stopped at Rockland, Maryland to visit the grave of F Scott Fitzgerald, the author of Tender Is the Night, a novel that features a character that they took their name from. Later that night they would have played Baltimore or Washington DC and mostly probably blasted out a speedy version of their power pop nugget "Tearing the Posters" down. That’s what I love about Dick Diver, they are literary but still write songs that sound like the Byrds appearing on a Teenline Comp. - Dr. Doom

Hierophants - Paralax Error
The Hierophants album has been number one on my most anticipated list since I snuck into a dingey basement club in Geelong to see them as a teenager. That was some years ago, so it's been quite a long and nervous wait. It's all been worth it though because they've delivered the holy grail of jerk 'n' groove punk rock. I could list you a bunch of obscure but amazing new wave touchstones, but why bother? – if you were familiar with them, you're no doubt familiar with this album. If you're not familiar with this album, change that quickly. - Sam Eckhardt

Orb – “Migration”
This sounds a lot like Black Sabbath but Black Sabbath are the greatest band ever. Drop that tab and take a walk down the back paddock but not too close to the dam. - Kyle Martin


Power – Electric Glitter Boogie
A brilliant debut that wraps 70s proto-punk and no frills Aussie pub rock up like a greasy Chico Roll. The sound is simple but loud as vocalist Nathan Williams howls and strains to produce a menacing and snarling rock played with chest puffed. As he said in our interview back in October, "Electric Glitter Boogie is “tough, sexy and fun”. Bloody oath! - Tim Scott

Royal Headache – “Love Her If I Tried”
Shogun sings one of the saddest songs of the year. - Kim Beazley

Salad Boys Metalmania
Christchurch’s Salad Boys took their name from a misheard line in The Feelies song "Fa Cé La" and there is a strong 80s college pop vibe on Metalmania. Think the Feelies and REM and the Clean but also throw in some Dick Diver as well. They’re from New Zealand and they’ve spent some time as David Kilgour’s touring band, but screw it, Kiwis belting out quality and jangly pop music is never going to get tired and this trio continue this tradition of wry and casual melody. - Kim Beazley


Sampa The Great - The Great Mixtape
Sampa The Great came out of nowhere in 2015. It’s hard to blindside an audience in a climate fuelled by hype and conceit, but somehow the Sydney-based rapper managed to take us all by surprise with the resounding statement that is The Great Mixtape – a title that acts as understatement, not braggadocio. It’s empowered and powerful, backed by live shows that somehow eclipse the promise of these recordings. Beyond 2015, Sampa The Great’s potential is infinite. Take notice. - Lachlan Kanoniuk

Sex Tourists – Demo
Sex Tourists is Darius and Ewan who also plays in the excellent Aloha Units. Like fellow Sydney act Orion or some of the solo work of Merchandise’s David Vassalotti, they produce a dark but hypnotic synth pop. They told us earlier in the year that it’s inspired by Goth music and recording in the rain. You can't get much darker than that. - Tim Scott

The Shifters – “Creggan Shops”
Of all the 2015 songs about Northern Irish paramilitary punishment involving kneecappings, “Creggan Shop” was by far the most beautiful. - Tim Scott

Tame Impala – Currents
A friend claims that Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker is some musical auteur and even goes as far as comparing him to Prince. I’m not sure if I entirely agree but there is definitely some genius at work in Currents. From 80s funk to hazy hazy electropop, Parker and his studio wizardy can make everything sound like a blissed out and weightless. So Currents may be getting played in hotel lobbies around the world the fact remains it’s a damn good album. - Kyle Martin

Terry – “Talk About Terry”
“When I’m here and I’m sitting still you think I don’t care/ But I’m here all freaking night and I’m sitting tight it’s because I do care”. Relationships can be fraught. The charmingly simple pop of Terry captures this. The band contains members of Mick Harvey Band, Total Control, Eastlink and Constant Mongrel. All four members sing. The song is sunny and cheery but the fast guitar and vocals give it an edge. Like a pulse that’s beating a little too quickly. - David Shapiro

Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Multi Love
The Portland-via-New Zealand psych rock band led by Ruban Nielson, hit all the marks on Multi Love, their third studio album. While a lot of the focus around the album centered on Nielson’s polygamous relationship (hence the name) the songs pile on the vintage keyboards and disco rhythms while the front man riffs about the ups and downs of three-way love. - Travis Notts

Karli White - “Feel Less (This Dull Headache)”
This is a dark and ominous track not only because of lyrics such as, “I was found in a state, eyes locked forward, my back cooled by the tiles of the shower floor”. White specialises in dark electronic experimental pop that gets under the skin. When we premiered her video for “Focus” back in September she told us about the making of her “post-apocalyptic RnB”. “I spent a few weeks locked in my bedroom listening to Chicago house belting out diva vocal melodies and I'm pretty sure my housemates were equal parts irritated, confused and intrigued. - Claire Jones