My top three album picks for the first half of 2015 could have looked very different if I’d found this self-titled album by Marlon Williams sooner. Among the releases from January to June, DC Cardwell’s ‘Pop Art’ and Brian Wilson’s ‘No Pier Pressure’ took positions 1 and 2 respectively, and Earl Sweatshirt came in at number 3 with ‘I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside’.
Augie March took the number 4 position in my 2014 list and this fantastic self-titled release by New Zealand’s Marlon Williams reminds me of some of the best Augie March material over their career – Maybe not the more poetic or lyrical-based material, but certainly the faster songs penned by Glen Richards. Think ‘This Train Will Be Taking No Passengers’ from their ‘Strange Bird’ album of 2002. I think Marlon would have beaten 2014’s ‘Havens Dumb’ if put head-to-head, too, so it would have been a very strong contender of I’d found it earlier in the year instead of via a referral from a friend in August. If I had to play hypotheticals I think it would have probably come in behind Brian Wilson to push Earl Sweatshirt out of number 3… It may have even beaten Wilson’s release thanks to the ‘honesty’ in the sound that was particularly endearing in DC Cardwell’s album which helped propel it to number 1 for the January to June list of 2015. I think DC would have survived to remain at number 1. Of course it then comes down to which album would have disappeared from the list… my guess is that Django Django would have got the chop (Shane Howard would have been the obvious choice because of the similar rootsy feel about his ‘Deeper South’ album, but there’s something about that release which I really enjoyed… it would stay at number 10). I’m sure the majority of people reading this will be from the US and have probably never heard of Australia’s Shane Howard, so now’s a good time to discover his 2015 release.
I hadn’t listened to Marlon Williams for a few months, I’m playing it again now as I write this review having gorged on The Beatles for the last week since their catalogue was released on Spotify. Listening to Marlon again I’ve realised just how much a song like ‘After All’ borrows from Lennon’s ‘Rubber Soul’ era writing, and that leads me into what is probably one of the most endearing things about this album. While the opening track channels Augie March and the second track mid-career Beatles, the next evokes Chris Isaak before drifting into Richard Hawley territory, then comes the sound of The Moody Blues to round out the first 4 tracks… Track 6 is probably ‘Desire’ era Bob Dylan and track 7 evokes ‘Sunny Afternoon’ from the Kinks. I could go on, but the album is just a stunning piece for what is essentially a pretty low budget recording. The broad choice of genres puts it solidly into the same category as Ezra Furman’s ‘Perpetual Motion People’ which came in at number 3 on my album list for the second half of 2015. Anyway… if you haven’t heard this go and listen to it, you won’t be disappointed!