Darren Hanlon is an Australian singer/songwriter with five albums and a small handful of EPs under his belt. He will be touring New Zealand in March of 2016 with Anthonie Tonnon and Nadia Reid. Here are five albums he’s loving right now…
1 – The Grand Magoozi, The Grand Magoozi: This album isn’t officially out yet but I’ve got my hands on a sneaky copy from when these guys toured around with me recently. Playing in both cities and country towns, it’s been great watching them connect with audiences of all walks of life. Suzie’s song writing is clear and economical and she’s an entertaining front woman. Her voice is rich and playful. These songs sound like old standards already.
2 – The Honeys, Goddess: The album that saw me through my senior years at High School. I found it on one of my first unsupervised trips to the big smoke of Brisbane. Every record store seemed to be playing it at the time. I come back to it every few years or so and bolts of nostalgia shoot through me. A band that came from Fremantle on the Australian West Coast, a place that seemed to me like the other side of the planet. I couldn’t even image it. So I guess you’d call this urban country or something now? I just thought it was pop. A guy called Bruce Begley wrote the songs and singer Andrea Croft conveyed them in a kind of Australian twang. Wild slide guitar and booming drums abound. I love every song. Just lately I’ve got the haunting Wood for the Trees on repeat.
3 – Dick Diver, Melbourne Florida: Boisterous, erudite, effortlessly idiosyncratic. All four songwriters share an aesthetic of detailed suburban minutiae and find poetry, humour and melancholy in the commonplace. This album feels like such an important beacon of light in Australian music at the moment, so therefore it’s criminal that they don’t play live more.
4 – Abner Jay, True Story of Dixie: One of the many LPs I’ve lugged back on the plane from Portland OR’s best record store and label Mississippi Records. This album is definitely a jewel in the crown of their catalogue. Abner Jay, known as the black Bob Dylan, even had the man himself contacting the store looking for a copy. I’m told Abner Jay roamed the land playing medicine shows as a one-man-band. He’d strum the banjo and blow the harmonica behind the drum kit, and rattle the bones… actual animal bones! As raw and powerful and emotional as you’ll find, and the song I’m so Depressed has to be one of the best ever written! How can a song so bleak make my soul rejoice so?
5 – The Georgia Sea Island Singers, Join the Band: Another on the Mississippi label, I was surprised to hear that this was a slow seller. It’s one album I can’t stop listening to since I discovered it in a pile of scratched up vinyl and a trailer park I was staying at. The Georgia Sea Island Singers have been released on Rounder before I think but I’d never heard of them. These are field recordings by Alan Lomax. The sound of many voices, unaccompanied except maybe for a few handclaps, this is a vocal tradition harking back to the early 1900s. Hypnotic and hymn-like, these are heavy Old Testament vibes with lashings of death and redemption.