Month: August 2016


Seja VogelSeja Vogel is solo artist from Brisbane, well known for her love of the synthesiser. You may recognise her from her former band Sekiden and as a member of Regurgitator. More recently she has released a couple of great solo records under her own name ‘Seja’. Check out the tracks “When You Said You Were Mine” from 2013’s All Our Wires, and “I’ll Get To You” from 2010’s We Have Secrets But Nobody Cares. Speaking with Seja, I mentioned (referring to her ELO album selection) that I’m a big fan of Jeff Lynne’s work, to which she replied “I could write about how much I love him ALL day”. Which left me recalling an episode of The Simpsons where Homer asks Lisa, “Who’s your favourite Travelling Wilbury Lisa, is it Jeff Lynne?” I’m confident Seja would agree.


GRANDADDY Under the Western Freeway (1997)

seja-grandd-underI remember the first time I heard “A.M. 180” – it was at a small café in Brisbane that used to have all ages solo shows on a Tuesday night or something every week. It was just around the time I started to play in bands and this song was so inspirational in its melody, lyrics and energy. The whole album is really special – so many great keyboard parts, perfect pop guitar riffs and cynical lyrics. It also sounds really wonky, out of time and noisy in parts, which is something I was really drawn to instantly. This album also had that beautiful thing where just when you think you know where a song is going, it takes a turn and goes to a minor or a seventh chord and it really hits you in the guts in a good way. And then it ends with a few minutes of crickets. Perfect.



seja-humanl-dareMy husband and I own about 5 copies of this album on vinyl because it’s too special to walk past when we see it in a thrift store. There’s nothing I don’t like about it. Sweeps up to every chorus, drum machines, synth programming, their cool-but-untrained voices. This album is so much more than “Don’t You Want Me”. Like when you notice some of the more obscure lyrics such as “Alsatians fall unconscious at the shadow of your call”. Also – Roland System 700 modular, Jupiter 4, Korg 770, Korg Delta, Yamaha CS15, Casio VLT1, Casio M10 and Linn LM1 – these are the things, these are the things, the things that dreams are made of.



Seja-ELO-NewWRI probably could have put ten ELO records in here as my favourite and most influential, but that’s another list for another time. The production on this album is so over-the-top it borders on ridiculous (what AREN’T you good at Jeff??). The intro is so dramatically orchestral and works up to a powerful crescendo, only to turn into a completely hilarious ‘dumb rock/pop’ riff.  I love how most the songs on this record are super-complicated and intricate, with the perfect amount of delay on the vocals in all the right places (I’m taking a dive, dive, dive, dive) and then this album, as well as all his others, has one of those whamma lamma bamma lamma songs on it that make you question why you liked this band in the first place. You can see why John Lennon called them ‘son of Beatles’, and a lot of his songs are obviously influenced by the melodies and sentiment of that band, which in my book has never been a bad thing.


BECK Mellow Gold (1994)

seja-beck-mellowI’ve probably listened to this album more than any other album. I know it back to front. I discovered this album on a bus heading to Falls Creek for a school ski trip in 1994 or 1995. I remember finding a tape on the bus that someone had left in the seat pocket. I put it in my Walkman and “Beercan” came on. And my little mind was blown. I think the tape had a bunch of other songs on it by bands like the Butthole Surfers and stuff, but I kept rewinding and listening to the Beck songs (just “Beercan” and “Pay No Mind”) on the tape until I wore it out. The first full songs I learnt how to play on the guitar were “Pay No Mind”, “Nitemare Hippy Girl” and “Truckdrivin Neighbors Downstairs”. Funnily enough, this record also got me more into hip hop because I loved (still do!) his weirdo apathetic rhymes like “I got bent like a wet cigarette, and she’s coming after me with a butterfly net”. I wish he would do more of that now.


HARRY NILSSON Aerial Ballet (1968)

seja-harryn-aerialThis album is a masterpiece of orchestral pop. Again, I could have put 5 Nilsson records on this list. I love this one in particular because it’s full of so many effervescent and cleverly beautiful songs. It’s also packed with his trademark silly nonsense sounds (doowakkadoo) and some fantastic whistle solos. I always thought it was a shame that the most successful song on this record wasn’t written by him (“Everybody’s Talkin’”), because it takes the focus off what a lovely songwriter he is. Apart from the obvious “Everybody’s Talkin’” and “One”, songs like “Good old Desk” and “Together” strike some kind of nostalgic chord in me that feels a bit like home.  And that voice!


THE CARS The Cars (1978)

seja-the-carsThis album was very influential to me and how I play keyboards. I remember the first time I heard “Just What I Needed” I knew I wanted to play synth lines just like that, and I’ve pretty much spent my whole musical career trying to replicate/channel them. “Good Times Roll” is such a great opener and sets the tone for the whole album. Other stand-out parts for me include that backwards drum bit in “Just What I Needed” and the outstanding solo on “Bye Bye Love”. What’s phenomenal about this album is that almost all 9 tracks are still played on the radio to this day. That’s pretty rare. Overall I find the whole record a perfect mix of sleazy and cool.


CHILLY GONZALES Solo Piano (2004)

seja-chillyg-solopI suppose this has been compared to Erik Satie a bunch, but I love this album because to me it seems way more modern and pop. And contextually, the thought of the same guy whose usual shtick to my knowledge was being a maniac electro dude, singing about how he has an extra testicle, playing these beautiful songs is something really special. Stand-outs for me are “Gogol”, “Bermuda Triangle” and “Basmati”. This album also reminds me of my grandmother playing piano to us as kids which is a happy memory.



DEVO New Traditionalists (1981)

seja-devo-newtradThis record is interesting to me as it was the first of Devo’s I bought. I instantly loved its sarcasm and social commentary (which seems to still be applicable today). The synth patches are something to behold (“Race of Doom”, “Love Without Anger”) and the counterintuitive arrangements made it stand out to me from other records I was listening to at the time. People say this is their angriest album, a result of being misunderstood by the mainstream. It was funny for me to get familiar with this one first, then later go back and listen to their pop classics. Whilst listening to this in high school, I did feel like Devo and I had a sort of kindship, an understanding of what was good and bad in the world. I think this is why I love this album so much – it’s like an old friend who’s always in your corner.


STEREOLAB Emperor Tomato Ketchup (1996)

seja-stereol-emperIt’s a risky move to put an eight-minute song first on a record, but Stereolab can get away with that kind of thing. This album makes me want to filter all my instruments and vocal tracks through synthesizers for the rest of my life. Every keyboard on this album gloriously squelches, splats and squirts in a way that massages my brain. I love a band whose harmonies are out of the box and percussive. Stand-out parts for me include the running bass line for “Percolator”, “Noise of Carpet”’s frequency and resonance sweeps, and the synth blips in “Motoroller Scalatron”. This album sounds like the music in my head.


WEEN Chocolate and Cheese (1994)

seja-ween-chocolThis is another album that I discovered in that magical time when I was about 14 or 15 when everything was cool and exciting.  Another album I learnt all the words and chords to. I remember playing guitar and singing “Beuenas Tardes Amigo”, “What Deaner Was Talkin’ About” and “Don’t Shit Where You Eat” around my school to my friends, trying to be cool. (Did people think I was cool? No, but at least I was playing Ween and not Crash Test Dummies or something). This more easily palatable record than their previous was the beginning of my love affair with Ween that continues to this day. Even though I was embarrassed buying it because of its slightly naughty album cover (I was a kid!), the songs were definitely JUST offensive enough for it to strike a chord in my adolescent self. Bloody love this album. Bloody love this band.


Laura-Imbruglia-300x199We are rapt to have this fortnight’s top ten from the amazingly talented Laura Imbruglia. You can see Laura on her brilliant new show “Amateur Hour”, the first season is out already and thankfully there’s another on the way. You must check it out, it’s gold. Also, on the musical side of things, go on the hunt for a couple of my favourite tunes of Laura’s “When It All Falls Apart (And It Will)” from 2010’s The Lighter Side Of... and “Limerence” from 2013’s What A Treat. Oh and here’s Laura’s top ten.


LIZ PHAIR Exile In Guyville (1993)

laura-lphair-exileiThis is apparently a song-for-song response to The Rolling Stones’ Exile on Main Street album. I own both albums, but I never really listened for the inter-album conversation. I just love this album cos Liz is such a bad-ass. Her lyrics are funny, brash, sarcastic, brutally honest (see “Fuck and Run”)…all the things I love. Musically, it’s low-fi and rough around the edges – she sometimes sings below what sounds comfortable for her range, which is refreshing. I miss the days before recordings were polished within an inch of their life. I can’t really recommend this album enough – it has 18 songs, which sounds ridiculous, but as far as I’m concerned it’s all killer/no filler and stands up to endless repeated listens. Sadly, nothing else she did comes close to the perfection attained on this album. Indie Queen of the 90s, I salute you!


MAGNETIC FIELDS 69 Love Songs (1999)

laura-magnet-69loveIf you thought 18 songs sounded like overkill, THIS album has 69 songs (so it’s not just a clever title!). The Magnetic Fields are led by the curmudgeonly, highly intelligent and prolific songwriter Stephin Merritt. His lyrics are simultaneously touching, hilarious and downright dark. Their music sounds from another time really, he’s into the Great American Songbook school of songwriters (George and Ira Gershwin, Rodgers and Hammerstein – very carefully selected words and rhymes, classy melodies). If you are a person who can’t appreciate musicals, you may not like this music. I’m talking musicals like “Singin’ In The Rain”, not musicals like “Fame” – these songs are classy in an indie pop way. Can you handle that? You should learn. Anyway, this is the album that got me into their music and specifically into Stephin’s wonderful lyrics. The songs are spread over 3 discs, just take it 1 disc at a time so it’s not so intimidating. Before long, you (like me) will know all 69 songs off by heart. I LOVE THIS ALBUM WITH ALL MY HEART.


BOB DYLAN Bringing It All Back Home (1965) 

laura-bdylan-bringiThis album bursts out of the gates with “Subterranean Homesick Blues” and it only gets better from there. I love that it kinda covers all the sides of Bobby in good measure – political, romantic, angry, abstract, ridiculous. The musical performances are nice and loose, as Bob’s way of recording is to pretty much record the band as they’re learning the song. It creates a really cool freshness and encapsulates that really cool sweet spot that happens when a band are just starting to gel on a song. My favourite of the tunes is “She Belongs to Me”, although I disagree with the misogynistic-sounding title. I guess it’s a common feeling to want to hold onto the person you love and keep them all to yourself…just sounds wrong! “Love Minus Zero” – also a deliciously gentle love song. I have many of Bob’s albums, but this is the one I always come back to. It makes me swoon.


THE SHAGGS Philosophy Of The World (1969)

laura-shaggs-philosLook – this album isn’t for everyone. I can’t even listen to it all in one sitting. But it’s still in my top ten albums, because it’s so amazing to me that it exists in the first place. Not only that, but it actually challenged my opinions about what makes music good and beautiful. This is a band of teenage sisters from New Hampshire, USA in the 60s. Their Dad bought them instruments and paid to record them “while they were hot” (I don’t think he meant “hot” in the sexy way – I hope not). It sounds like 3 people playing 3 different songs at once without listening to each other. The first time I heard the title track, I was filled with anger – how dare they record this racket?! However, the following week, I found myself googling the band and eventually buying the album. The lyrics are simultaneously naive and profound, and it’s actually difficult to play the same melody that you are singing, which is what the lead singer is often doing. I rate them, and I enjoy that their Dad backed them passionately. Frank Zappa called them “better than The Beatles”.


THE TRIFFIDS Born Sandy Devotional (1986)

laura-triffi-bornsaThis classic Australian album sounds like my childhood looks like in my memory. These guys were really good at word-painting, which is when the music and lyrics match each other evocatively. When David McComb sings “Wide Open Road”, the combination of music and words makes me feel like I’m in a car driving through the outback watching the heat rise from the bitumen.
This album is a beautiful time capsule of 80s Australia. I love it.



QUEEN Greatest Hits (1981)

laura-queen-greateI know, I know, I know, you can’t select a greatest hits album on one of these music nerd blogs! The fact is that this album fucking rules, and it remains the BEST SELLING ALBUM OF ALL TIME IN THE UK. I have Freddie tattooed on my arm, own most of Queen’s albums, and I could sing the praises of Jazz or The Works or actually most of them, cos I love Queen but this album is what sold me on them when I was a teenager. If you don’t own any Queen albums or are unconvinced of their brilliance, for godssake, start here and learn in a nice and concise manner exactly why they’re so beloved. And you know what? I want you to also watch their Live Aid performance on YouTube before you come at me with your “they’re too camp and bombastic” noise. If you already know Queen are wonderful and want to know which albums to check out for more wonder, my fave era is 1975-1985 – so any albums released in that period (A Night At The Opera through to The Works). The earlier stuff is also good, it’s just a bit dungeons and dragons lyrically, which I find kinda dull. The later stuff is a bit naff for my liking.


THE CARPENTERS A Song For You (1972)

laura-carpen-songfoI could easily just recommend a Greatest Hits album for The Carpenters too, but this album is actually pretty solid. The cover art also has a classic vibe about it. Side A is all 100% killer, Side B not as strong. I can sing the guitar solo on “Goodbye to Love” note for note, it’s a great time! The title track is heartbreakingly beautiful too. Look, just listen to Side A (the first 5 songs) and if you dig it, get a good compilation of singles. The problem is that this album is missing “Calling Occupants”, “Rainy Days and Mondays”, “For All We Know”, “Yesterday Once More” and a bunch of others. BUT “Song For You” is AWESOME and it’s not on many of the compilations. So you need this album and a tidy “Singles” one – . If you get a compilation that is too exhaustive, you’re gonna have to sift through a lot of dodgy early 80s songs. This one is pretty cool. I was raised on The Carpenters, and Karen is my ALL-TIME fave female singer. If you can’t appreciate a bit of cheese, you need to step back. Sonic Youth covered “Superstar” though, so The Carpenters are totally legitimately cool now.


FLEETWOOD MAC Rumours (1977)

laura-fleetw-rumourYeah, totes obvious selection. I DON’T GIVE A SHIT. Have you listened to it? Walking around? Several times every year? In the car? At home? Have you noticed how Mick Fleetwood hits the cymbal a few more times in the second chorus of “Dreams” than in the first one? It’s the little things like that that you notice when you really love an album. I love this album so much. Make sure you get the reissue, cos they added the beautiful track “Silver Springs” onto the reissue, and it always should have been on the album. It was a b-side, and the fans loved it so much that the band eventually added it to newer pressings of the album. Not as a bonus track, they actually added it into the middle of the album somewhere like it was always there. Absolutely dreamy.



laura-danielj-whymeThis is a live album, and I love it because it captures Daniel’s great fragility in an unedited manner. I also like the little bits they kept in, like when his mic cuts out for a bit and he keeps singing. It just really moves me. He’s a beautiful pianist, and even though he’s kinda shoddy on the guitar, the purity of his songwriting is what shines through. My fave track on this album is “Silly Love” – it’s really good to listen to when you’re heartbroken. Fragile optimism distilled. If you can’t see past his imperfections to the beauty of his writing, maybe you should go to the doctor and find out if you’re dead inside. If you like what you hear on this, there’s SO MUCH MORE that awaits you – he was really prolific in the 80s. I also love Yip/Jump Music, Songs of Pain and Artistic Vice. If you like his writing, but you really can’t handle the lo-fi nature of his recordings, give Fun a go. And also – buy direct from his website, as his family facilitate it and the money goes into paying for Daniel’s carer I believe (you can buy his art on the website too – I have some – SO THERE!). M Ward does an awesome cover of Daniel’s song “Story of An Artist”, which is actually what made me seek out more Daniel songs.


THE DICTATORS Bloodbrothers (1978)

laura-dictat-bloodbThe word “thrilling” should come with a picture of this record next to it in the encyclopedia. It’s just fucking perfect, what more do you want? The Dictators are a punk/metal kinda band (proto-punk) with melodies and hooks coming out of every orifice. I love the New York sass of lead singer Handsome Dick Manitoba – his lyrics are hilarious and this album just makes me excited, goddamn it! The lead guitarist Ross the Boss went on to found Manowar. I also really love Cheap Trick and found it hard not to include them in this list, but I just think this album is a better collection of songs (and captures the band better) than any Cheap Trick album. Although Cheap Trick Live At Budokan…GET THAT TOO!