Despite the endless disruptions, lockdowns, gig cancellations and postponements, there were still plenty of excellent albums released here in Australia in 2021. Most of them had their own unique sound too – drawing from folk, country, psych, blues and indie to differing degrees. There were established artists who continued to mature and evolve as well as some newcomers who have hit the ground running. Here’s to a new year and the chance for people to hear these songs live on stages around the country!
I’d love to hear what some of your favourite alt-country, Americana, folk, blues and rock ‘n’ roll albums were in 2021.
20. Jeb Cardwell – My Friend Defiance
19. Mylee Grace – Whiplash In The Moshpit
18. Ben Mastwyk – Livin’ On Gold Street
17. Justin Bernasconi – Sleeping Like A Maniac
16. Alex Hamilton – Sweetest Wine
15. Lachlan Bryan & The Wildes – As Long As It’s Not Us
14. Matt Ward – If I Was In Dallas Tonight
13. Kyle Jenkins – Lost Love, Lost
12. Riley Catherall – When I Go
11. Charm of Finches – Wonderful Oblivion
10. Georgia State Line – In Colour
9. Katie Brianna – This Way Or Some Other
8. Liz Stringer – First Time Feeling
7. Mitch Dillon’s Compulsive Ramblers – Mitch Dillon’s Compulsive Ramblers
6. Kyle Jenkins – Love, Lost Love
5. T. Wilds – Ten Songs
4. Bob Weatherall & Halfway – Restless Dream
3. Eagle & The Wolf – Two Lovers
2. Family Jordan – Big Grass
#1 Suicide Swans – Reservations
The latest album from the prolific Queensland alt-country band led by singer-songwriter Kyle Jenkins continues their stunning and world class run of releases. It’s also their last album under the SS name. From now on the band, now a quartet, will be known was Mt. Morning.
Each of their albums takes a different dusty back road or inner city laneway through confessional songs of people and places. Here they frame their songs with tough and tender instrumentation. One minute there are gnarled electric guitars, the next a mournful violin or a tapestry of piano notes. Stylistically, think Dylan and Paul Kelly jamming with the Felice Brothers and you’re close to the mark as the band blend nervy, wordy analysis and introspection with woodsy, lilting folk and melancholic, ragged alt-country.
Reservations feels like the most balanced of their albums, a sonically and poetically consistent set from start to finish. At its mid point is the thrilling and taut scattershot country shakedown of ‘13th Floor (Alabam)’, It’s followed by the exquisite and churning ‘Wish Bone’ a song that seems to search for identity and one’s place in the world. Opener ‘You Should’ve’ is a raw assessment of a friend or lover at fault, while ‘Breathe’ flips the coin from blame to encouragement over a beautiful cornucopia of plucked strings and the heady, swaying rhythm section. This is an album that seems to question and accept the contradictions of the world and affairs of heart, and keep moving on, eyes to the horizon with a soul full of good intent.