Now in its 13th year, the J Awards are the pinnacle of Ausmusic Month and a chance to highlight the outstanding musical talent in our own backyard.
Judged by the music teams and presenters of triple j, Double J and triple j Unearthed, nominees are chosen for their originality, creativity, technical excellence and contribution to Australian music.
Album Of The Year
Gordi – Reservoir
The Canowindra songwriter recorded Reservoir between Wisconsin, Reykjavik, Los Angeles, New York and Sydney, blending the range of cold and warm, familiar and new influences through surprising combinations of organic and synthetic sounds. Within the expansive 12 tracks can be found everything from whispered counting, rumbling piano chords, glitchy auto-tuned vocals, and world beats. Gordi paired these daunting soundscapes with intensely vulnerable lyrics, delving into loss and recovery in moments of quiet contemplation.
“The name Reservoir, it’s that thing that you can’t describe, that space that anxious people would probably live their life in. It’s actually an expression my friend and I use. If I’m really down one day, I’ll say, ‘Oh I’m a bit in the reservoir today’.”
Gordi created a special piece of sadness with Reservoir, sometimes these quiet moments are exactly what we need.
Methyl Ethyl – Everything Is Forgotten
Featuring singles ‘Ubu“, ‘Drink Wine‘, ‘No. 28‘, and ‘L’Heure Des Sorcières‘, the Perth boys expanded on their first album Oh Inhuman Spectacle by diving headfirst into irresistible grooves and pop hooks. Still featuring feel good jangly guitars and singer Jake Webb’s aching vocals, Everything Is Forgotten steps up the snappy drumbeats, funky basslines and poppy synths in its adventurous tracks.
There’s still a handful of tickets left to catch Methyl Ethel on their Aus headline tour this November/December closing out a cracking 2017.
Double J Artist Of The Year
The 11-tracker showcases Sultan’s soulful and honey-smooth voice, as he sings of everything from joy to loss and heartbreak with rich emotion. With this magical collection, however, Sultan has escaped his roots in favour of expansive soundscapes and thick textures. Featuring surprising combinations of classic piano, twangy guitar, snappy drum machines and textured synthesisers, Killer dives into new vibrant territory for the Melbourne-born songwriter.
Sultan also used his strong voice in a different way on Q&A in August, arguing to change the date of Australia Day. Then following a huge national tour he jumped across to Africa on the Indigenous Ranger Exchange with The Thin Green Line Foundation. Whatta legend!
Debuting at number 1 on the ARIA album charts, Life Is Fine is rich with Kelly’s legendary storytelling. But this time, Kelly gathered unexpected influences from RnB and jazz, creating fresh soundscapes to weave his tales of humour and sadness over.
This week also marks the beginning of Kelly’s huge tour, which will see him take his intimate performances to cities and regional centres all across Australia and New Zealand. As if that’s not enough, Kelly has also announced a one-off Christmas show in Melbourne this December, celebrating his iconic Christmas track (albeit a song set in jail that goes for 5 minutes with no chorus) ‘How To Make Gravy‘.
He may have been delivering legendary albums for over three decades but Paul Kelly isn’t slowing down anytime soon.
Australian Video Of The Year
Client Liason – ‘Foreign Affair’
The ’80s are back and they’re cornier than ever. Dancefloor lords Client Liason released a shimmering, cheeky ballad featuring none-other than the iconic Tina Arena.
But as if the thick dance beat, classic gated reverb, edgy bass synths and swirling synth pads weren’t enough, the video is loaded with retro tropes. A nostalgic take on the luxury of air travel, the video features big hair, soft lighting, dramatic shots galore.
Jack River – ‘Fools Gold’
Directed by Matt Sav, the four minutes of colour-burst footage includes everything from Jack River bowling in a sequin body suit to a bittersweet love story between a quirky couple dancing in an empty pool. Add to this dancing men in gold body paint, someone having their head shaved in the street, burning roses and a plasma ball and you’ll begin to get the idea. Or you could just watch it.
Kirin J Callinan – ‘Big Enough’ (feat. Alex Cameron, Molly Lewis & Jimmy Barnes)
Definitely the most cooked video of the year, but could it also be the best? Aussie larrikin Kirin J Callinan and ironic crooner Alex Cameron are two cowboys, fighting for territory and love but separated by continents. Then a gigantic Jimmy Barnes appears in the sky, lets out a few raspy screams and gets the party going. Plus the whole thing is shot with impeccable cinematography. This is what music has come to, and we think we like it?
Methyl Ethyl – ‘Ubu’
Released in January this year, but still stuck in our heads, ‘Ubu‘ by Methyl Ethyl is one catchy beast. The quirky video is a beast all of its own, coming out as a stark, monochromatic nightmare. While we can’t stop grooving the band are surprisingly immune to their tune, playing their instruments deadpan while their faces swap with each other. Buildings twist and the band members distort and swirl as the trippy video plays up the band’s distinctive style of odd pop.