Let’s make like a boomerang and circle back to the biggest and best records of 2018 – our choice cuts – by way of impressive stats, STACK reviews, and from STACK‘s conversations with the artists themselves.

Michael Bublé, Love (Warner)

buble love“There’s something ultimately comforting in new songs sung in an old fashion, with Bublé returning to classic anchors (romance, family, stress) to find his place in the world.” – Jake Cleland


A Perfect Circle’s Billy Howerdel on the wonky piano in track Get The Lead Out:

“I just purchased a 1909 Steinway upright and when it was delivered to the house, I tracked the first pass while it was out of tune, and then took a second pass after it had been tuned. I used both tracks. It seemed to need a different colour from the precision of the col legno [perfect strike].” (Eat The Elephant – Warner)


Muse, Simulation Theory (Warner)

“Ultimately, if there’s anything you take away from Simulation Theory it’s that no one does epic stadium rock quite like Muse.” – Holly Pereira


John Butler Trio, Home (MGM)

Home isn’t a radical new direction so much as a refreshing change of course… But wherever it goes, it’s tied together by Butler’s knack for finding the hook.” – Jake Cleland


Cher, Dancing Queen (Warner)

cher“The Beatles. Elvis Presley. Public Enemy. ABBA. Some artists are so legendary, so iconic, that nobody else could possibly capture their energy and spirit with a cover. The only exception is when another legendary icon turns their eye towards such an endeavour. Can you imagine anyone but Cher paying tribute to ABBA like they deserve?” – Jake Cleland


The Living End’s Chris Cheney on recording Wunderbar:

“I was writing as we were recording. It took a lot to get there; it was a lot of work. But the pressure, I think, is good for me.” (Wunderbar – Warner)


Kasey Chambers on Emmylou Harris:

“Her voice is one of the earliest and most beautiful sounds to my ears, from my dad playing her songs to me as a child – often around a campfire – so it made perfect sense for our collaboration to be on this record… It became one of the highlights of my career.” (Campfire – Warner)


Paul KellyPaul Kelly on noticing nature:

“I’m probably becoming more attuned and curious about nature as I’ve got older, I notice. I never used to notice birds, until the last few years, and now I find I’m looking at them more and more.” (Nature – EMI)


Jimmy Barnes on personal evolution:

“The message I’ve carried around is: if you can pick yourself up, say you’re sorry, and change what your actions are, things can get better. They might not be the same, they might not go back to the way you want them, but they will get better.” (Working Class Boy: The Soundtracks – Bloodlines)


Alison Wonderland on the secret details:

“I like to bury little Easter eggs in my songs. For me, it’s like back in the day when some painters would put a piece of their hair in their painting… I like to do that because it’s real, it’s this element of when it was being recorded, because really, it’s the recording of my life.” (Awake – EMI)


Disturbed, Evolution (Reprise)

disturbedIN NUMBERS

3: Debut ARIA chart position for seventh album Evolution

7.8 million: Number of views on the band’s Roboshobo-directed video for single Are You Ready

5: Number of consecutive #1 albums on the Billboard charts

1: Number of other heavy rock/ metal bands who have achieved this feat (Metallica)


DMA’s’ Johnny Took on working with The Presets:

“We’re going to write music together in the future, you know, the four of us. It’s just a nice friendship that’s been made from a really rewarding experience, for everyone involved.” (For Now – IOHYOU)

Courtney Barnett


Courtney Barnett on found percussion within Tell Me How You Really Feel:

“We spent an hour going through each kitchen mug to find one that was in the right key; we put water in and out of it, so it would pitch up or pitch down. Yeah, it was a whole process.” (Tell Me How You Really Feel – Milk!/ Remote Control)


Hockey Dad’s Zach Stephenson on writing lyrics:

“I like to leave an ambiguous ending to lyrics in songs, so that maybe there’s a part two, somewhere out there in the world. You don’t want to open and then close a book straight away. I like to keep it open-ended.” (Blend Inn – Inertia)


Liam Finn on his father Neil Finn’s most-spun genre:

“Dad probably listens to more hip hop than he ever did, because it’s kind of the only music that’s pushing the boundaries, in both of our opinions.” (Lightsleeper – PIAS/Inertia)


troye sivanTroye Sivan, Bloom (EMI)

“Sivan, now on stronger footing, asserts himself in a record that’s equally sexy, sensitive, and ideal for the strobe-lit rooms in which he came into his own.” – Jake Cleland


Matt Corby, Rainbow Valley (Island)

Rainbow Valley is confident and assured and, indeed, a better record than his debut… [it] shows that he’s a master craftsman.” – Jeff Jenkins


Thundamentals’ Tuka on the band’s goal:

“We come from a pretty humble place in the Blue Mountains, and my dream – our dream – was just to live off this. We don’t want to have huge mansions, though of course that would be nice, to be rich. I just want to wake up every day and be able to write songs.” (I Love Songs – Island)


To A Stranger OdetteOdette on learning the piano:

“To know that I had the power to create things from my mind, and not rely on anyone else, was very empowering. It’s an addictive feeling; I think that’s why I’ve never stopped.” (To A Stranger – EMI)


Kylie Minogue, Golden (Liberation)

IN NUMBERS

4: Number of countries Golden debuted at #1 (including Aus and UK)

2: Number of ‘fastest-selling’ UK records Golden claimed (fastest-selling vinyl and fastest-selling cassette of 2018)

50: Minogue’s age this year, which she celebrated by filming the album title track’s clip in Cuba


The Presets’ Julian Hamilton on how to create gang vocals:

“I’d do one take in front of the mic and then one take standing about three feet away, and then another one where I’m doing a funny voice and another one where I’m trying to sound like a drag queen. Then hopefully you’ve got eight sounds that sort of sound a bit different. It’s amazing how easy it is to make it sound like a soccer stadium full of people.” (HI VIZ – EMI)

Middle Kids


Middle Kids, Lost Friends (Domino)

“Arriving fully-formed and swaggeringly assured, this is epic indie rock.” – Jeff Jenkins


Missy Higgins, Solastalgia (Eleven/EMI)

Solastalgia is the sound of an artist pushing her boundaries, thematically and musically. The result is a triumph.” – Jeff Jenkins


Keith Urban, Graffiti U (EMI)

Keith UrbanIN NUMBERS

6: Urban’s number of #1 US Country Chart albums (Graffiti U being the sixth)

2: Graffiti U’s debut on the Billboard 200

2: Number of foundations Urban’s guitar line products’ proceeds benefit (Mr Holland’s Opus Foundation and Grammy Foundation)

1: Number of CMA nominations Graffiti U received (for Album of the Year)


The Rubens’ Elliott Margin on cross-pollinating genres in LO LA RU:

“We love R’n’B and hip hop. It’s still an evolving thing, where you find things that you’re allowed to do and push the boundaries. You want to be able to make just the kind of music that you want to make.” (LO LA RU – Ivy League)


CHVRCHESCHVRCHES’ Lauren Mayberry on sticking to your guns:

“I have learned that everyone has an opinion about you and they are going to tell you whether you like it or not, so you just have to try as much as possible to block that out, and remember why you’re doing what you’re doing.” (Love is Dead – Liberation)


Vance Joy on communication:

“I feel like you put something out into the world, and there will be some kind of response – a sweet little connection.” (Nation Of Two – Liberation)


Troy Cassar-Daley, Greatest Hits (Bloodlines)

“Heartfelt and honest, Troy Cassar-Daley is one of the great Australian country writers.” – Jeff Jenkins


Jack River Sugar MountainJack River on including elements of ‘00s pop music into her debut album:

“I was like, f-ck it, I love this so much, I don’t care what anyone thinks. This is going in.” (Sugar Mountain – IOHYOU)


5 Seconds of Summer, Youngblood (EMI)

IN NUMBERS

26: Number of intimate venues 5SOS played across the world during March-June ‘18, to show fans new material prior to Youngblood’s release

210,000: (triple Platinum): Accredited sales status of the album’s title track

1: Youngblood’s ARIA chart debut


Arctic Monkeys, Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino (Domino)

Tranquillity Base feels like a cigarette smoke-filled cabaret club, where Alex Turner reflects on lost love and mistakes, and ponders the future.” – Tim Lambert

Tash Sultana


Tash Sultana on self-care:

“You go through periods of your life where you’re not nurturing yourself and your surroundings – maybe physically, emotionally, spiritually, mentally. If you’re not nourishing your own garden, it’s just gonna grow weeds, get out of control and get messy.” (Flow State – Sony)


Various, The Greatest Showman Reimagined (Warner)

IN NUMBERS

18: Number of artists who contributed to the album

58 Million: Number of views Anne-Marie and James Arthur’s cover of Rewrite The Stars has reached

7: Age of P!nk’s daughter Willow Sage Hart, who sings the reprise version of her mother’s cover A Million Dreams


Amy SharkAmy Shark on her collaboration with Blink-182’s Mark Hoppus:

“Mark came out of nowhere. He just wrote to me on Twitter and said, ‘I really like what you’re doing. Next time you’re in LA we should have a coffee.'” (Love Monster – Sony)


Tonight Alive’s Jenna McDougall on owning her appearance:

“To be ‘more feminine’ is something that’s always been pushed on me, and coming from a major label background and fairly conservative family, I am really familiar with what’s ‘safe’ and ‘conventional.’ I have slowly reclaimed my image over the years.” (Underworld – UNFD)


Camp CopeCamp Cope’s Kelly-Dawn Hellmrich on playing at the Sydney Opera House:

“That was so surreal. I wonder sometimes if maybe it was more surreal for me than the other two, ‘cause I grew up in Sydney. I just never imagined that I would be playing at the Opera House in a band. When we got there, it was just so beautiful. Everything about it was perfect.” (How To Socialise & Make Friends – Poison City)


Passenger, Runaway (Black Crow)

“Mike Rosenberg summons folk magic once again, in this superb assemblage of bewitching soundscapes.” – Adam Colby