THE SMITH STREET BAND: Favorite Albums of 2014

While most of you will likely have The Smith Street Band‘s new album Throw Me In The River on YOUR personal favorite albums of 2014 lists (as you should), you might be surprised to see some of the stuff that wound up on their list! We asked drummer and all around wonderful human being Chris Cowburn to tell us what he loved in 2014 and man, he listened to a lot of great records, that’s for sure.

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1. PUP – s/t – Technically released in 2013 I think, but whatever. This album grew on me slowly and very steadily, until all of a sudden I couldn’t get the fucking songs out of my head, even when I wanted to! So many vocal hooks, great backing vocals, interesting angular lead guitar, creative drums – these dudes are fucking incredible musicians! Can’t wait to get schooled by them on tour in 2015!


2. Against Me! – Transgender Dysphoria Blues – A bunch of people have said it, and I’m gonna join them… A return to form! The album was a long time coming, but Laura Jane’s transition and a couple of line-up changes over the last couple of years have reinvigorated this band in my opinion. There’s a rawness and honesty that has returned within the lyrical content that is as good and as powerful as anything Against Me have ever done.


3. Luca Brasi – By a Thread – Not as immediate as their first album, but a huge step in maturity for my best Tassie bros. Like a lot of the stuff I love, lyrically it tends to have a “hopeless, but hopeful” outlook. Tyler’s lyrics are honest, personal and inspiring. Busby’s lead guitar work is out of this world. Pat’s vocal range is incredible and his harmonies add so much depth. And Danny’s drums are absolutely rock solid. Love you Luca.


4. Pinch Hitter – When Friends Die In Accidents – What a fucking beautiful and heartbreaking record! But still somehow remains happy and hopeful! It’s really well recorded, uses a huge variety of interesting instrumentation and expands on their live show so much that I was blown away on first listen. Side B, track 2, “All Of a Sudden” is just about my song of the year and sums up this band and album to a tee.


5. Cloud Nothings – Here and Nowhere Else – My most anticipated album of this year, and it did not fail to deliver. Fuzzy, poppy guitars, amazing drumming. I read that they intentionally left a lot of the songwriting for this album unfinished until they were in the studio, which I reckon gives it all a cool rawness and immediacy. Feels like the whole thing is a brooding build up to the “I’m Not Part Of Me” release at the end.


6. Joyce Manor – Never Hungover Again – Originally criticised this album for it’s length (or lack thereof), then my good pal Jeff pointed out that it’s as if they wrote a 45-minute album and then removed ever part that wasn’t a hook. And stupid me, I should’ve known that and appreciated it for what it was, because that’s what Joyce Manor do! And when I listened to it with fresh perspective…Holy shit… Jeff’s right, literally all of the 19 minutes are hooks (beginning to sense an obvious theme in my taste in music).


7. Hard Girls – A Thousand Surfaces – I was first played this album by Wil from our band after he kept yelling “SPACE!” repeatedly, haha. I fucking love this album and find it’s sequencing very interesting… Starts out with a succession of the most upfront, catchy, fist-pumping, “fuck yeah” moment songs you’ll ever hear, then takes a huge dip to slow, sombre and roomy, only to bring it all back and resolve itself by the closer “Eddie Vedder.” Had the pleasure of meeting and watching these dudes in the USA. Lovely guys and killer live band! Screw that shit to the wall!


8. The War on Drugs – Lost in the Dream – This was the album I had on heavy rotation for the majority of the time I was doing the artwork for our latest album. The melancholy tinged with hope suited the Australian winter perfectly. It has a sound from my childhood so familiar, that I couldn’t put my finger on for ages, until I realised that’s because it takes influence from SO much stuff; Bob Dylan, Dire Straights, Bruce Springsteen, etc. They’re all there. And it rules!


9. Ceres – I Don’t Want To Be Anywhere But Here – Super simple, catchy and extremely hook-laden songs played by very lovely dudes. Tom from this band is an awesome lyricist and does heartbreak, self-deprecation and self-doubt so well!


10. La Dispute – Rooms of the House – Could never really get into this band, until I saw them live at the Corner Hotel in Melbourne, and whoa – I was hooked. Not just the energy, passion and story-telling, but how great they sound. The way the almost-clean guitar sits above the fat, roomy drums is absolutely killer. And it translates so well on this album. It’s like the music is a soundscape for the stories told in the lyrics.


Special Mentions

Menzingers – Rented World

Manchester Orchestra – Cope

Restorations – LP3

Andrew Jackson Jihad – Christmas Island

Real Estate – Atlas

Modern Baseball – You’re Gonna Miss It All



The Bennies – Heavy Disco

Apart From This – Spinning

Oslow – Days Are So Bright Now

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