My first year at Wall of Sound saw me getting to know the small but tightknit music community in Darwin (which was where I spent most of the year), but it also saw me getting to know Brisbane because if you know me, I just can’t stay away from the international bands (like Beartooth) and Darwin doesn’t get a whole lot of that. I did get to cover the Top End’s biggest music festival Bass in the Grass (great practice for Good Things 2019) and experienced upcoming act Tapestry in their hometown while also finding some other great bands in the process (We Burn Bridges and Draftday).
Towards the end of the year though, Brisbane just kept calling my name and the Top End dry season was coming to an end, so I packed up life, quit my job in tourism and drove across two states, the outback and down the coast. That road trip was my biggest achievement of the year (yeah, I survived Wolf Creek!), until I interviewed my favourite band in the whole world, Simple Plan at Good Things Festival, and nothing will ever top that. Those two achievements hands down unlocked a self confidence in myself I’ve never had before.
Top 10 Albums
While I’m first and foremost a pop punk kid at heart, musically the year 2019 saw me discovering and enjoying the more melodic hardcore side of the musical spectrum, from I Prevail, Ocean Sleeper, Windwaker and Issues’ fantastic return in Beautiful Oblivion. However, pop punk did also reign throughout the year in acts like Yours Truly, Woes, Sleep On It, and even upcoming Aussies Nautical Mile, who all came out swinging on top with badass debut releases!
1. Sleep On It – Pride and Disaster
2. I Prevail – Trauma
3. Ocean Sleeper – Don’t Leave Me This Way
4. Yours Truly – Afterglow EP
5. Issues – Beautiful Oblivion
6. Blink-182 – NINE
7. Nautical Mile – The Only Way is Through
8. Woes – Awful Truth
9. The Bottom Line – No Vacation
10. Sleeping With Sirens – How It Feels To Be Lost
Top 5 Songs:
1. ‘Where I Belong’ – Simple Plan/State Champs/We The Kings
(such a wholesome anthem about finding your place in the world and in music, which definitely rang true to me this year!)
2. ‘Hold Your Breath’ – Sleep On It
3. ‘Real World’ – State Champs
(they absolutely nailed this Matchbox Twenty cover!)
4. ‘Hate Me (Sometimes)’ – Stand Atlantic
5. ‘Ask For The Anthem’ – Ocean Grove
Top 5 Music Videos:
I feel like music videos don’t receive as much attention these days (since MTV turned into “reality TV central”), but I guess I chose these videos out of pure enjoyment, and I feel like the videos complemented the overall vibe of the song itself.
1. ‘Darkside’ – Blink-182 (will probably get much disagreement here, but look, those kids made that video entertaining, it’s a typical Blink-182 music video and the song is easily the catchiest single they released in the lead up to the album!)
2. ‘Bow Down’ – I Prevail
3. ‘Leave It All Behind’ – Sleeping With Sirens
4. ‘Hate Me (Sometimes)’ – Stand Atlantic
5. ‘Hold Your Breath’ – Sleep On It
Top 5 Gigs:
While there were indeed some enjoyable gigs in the Top End this year (Tapestry’s massive farewell show was a biiiig night), it was the shows I travelled interstate for that obviously won me over, in particular the emerging alternative music festival culture Australia now has.
1. Good Things Festival – Brisbane/Melbourne (it only just happened, but everything about GTF 2019 trumps everything this year. I finally found the music festival that fills the void from the Vans Warped Tour ending, which I dedicated six years of my life to.
2. Beartooth @ The Triffid, Brisbane (the tooth guys finally got their headline tour of Australia and fucking hell, it was the must-see tour of the year.)
3. UNIFY Gathering 2019 (the heavy music community finally has its own camping festival, which I finally got to be in the country this year to experience it. I’m all for it – as long as the pop punk doesn’t get left behind!)
4. Heaven & Hell Fest, Brisbane (The Amity Affliction’s equivalent of ADTR’s Self-Help Fest in the USA. I really hope this gets a 2020 edition, it helps put Brisbane on the musical map so hopefully we can get included on a Download Festival itinerary one day!)
5. Simple Plan @ CBD Live, Gold Coast (my last show of the decade with my all time favourite band, couldn’t think of a better band to end 2019 on!)
Fav Band Discovered in 2019:
Sleep On It. I first came across this band at the end of last year/early this year through their song ‘Disconnected’, and then came across ‘Fireworks’ because Derek DiScanio from State Champs featured on it! Their latest album, Pride & Disaster, came out in September and straight from the first listen, I fucking loved it! I had high expectations for this album, and they didn’t disappoint me at all. 10/10 for this album (review here) and I have a feeling their latest album is going to lead the way for the pop punk genre into the new decade, much like State Champs, Neck Deep, Good Charlotte and Simple Plan have done for the last two decades. Australian shows next year please!
Honorary mentions: Windwaker, Nautical Mile, We Burn Bridges, Homestate
Next Big Band To Watch in 2020:
Besides Sleep On It, you mean? Stateside. They were my fave new discovery last year, but they’ve kept things on the down low for much of 2019, until they did a brief tour with With Confidence and then a support slot with Simple Plan this December. However, I reckon things are heating up in 2020 for this young Brisbane pop punk act, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see them earn an official gig on next music festival season!
Most Looking Forward To in 2020:
New albums from Simple Plan and A Day To Remember, Set It Off FINALLY making their way to Australia, the pending announcements of I Prevail‘s and State Champs‘ Australian tours and Sleep On It‘s first-ever Australian shows. With As It Is, Boys Like Girls and Marianas Trench already announced to head our way next year, the outlook for pop punk tours looks pretty fucking good for 2020. I’m also excited as hell for where Year 2 with WOS will take me because I honestly did not expect to do so much in 2019, but now I feel like things are definitely gonna be next level in 2020!
Words by Tamara May @citylightsTAM