Your Guide To The QMA Album Of The Year 2016 Finalists

1 March 2016 | 3:40 pm | Steve Bell

Everything you need to know about the five stellar records

Last week Q Music released the short-list of music-industry selected finalists for the 2016 Album Of The Year in the annual Queensland Music Awards (QMAs), the prestigious ward which has been won in the past by acts such as Violent Soho, The Middle East, Ben Salter and Emma Louise.

We’ve asked former Time Off/The Music editor Steve Bell – these days still a Senior Contributor to The Music but also a proprietor of new record store Sonic Sherpa, located in the bustling Brisbane suburb of Stones Corner – to take us through the five nominated finalists:


Illegals In Heaven

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This hard-working local four-piece have been making increasingly large waves both at home and abroad in recent years, and their slew of independent releases galvanised with their 2014 breakthrough album Grassed Inn (which was shortlisted for both the 2014 Australian Music Prize and QMA Album Of The Year). They’ve built thrillingly upon this promise with Illegals In Heaven, which saw them team up with iconic Brisbane sound artist Lawrence English and record in a proper studio for the first time – the results drag their idiosyncratic style of rock’n’roll firmly towards the pop realm, accentuating the innate grooves and melody which have long been their stock-in-trade and furnishing them with a newfound sense of accessibility.



The young Brisbane indie outfit Last Dinosaurs smashed onto the Australian scene with all guns blazing back in 2012 with their 2012 debut In A Million Years (which peaked at #8 on the national album charts) – consolidating this with years of touring both throughout Australia and increasingly overseas, including extended visits to esoteric locales in Asia and South Africa – and last year they upped the ante significantly with their sophomore effort Wellness. Helmed by acclaimed producer Scott Horscroft, the album takes something of a tropical detour, with its dance-heavy grooves offsetting their trademark shimmering guitars and resulting in a fun and dreamy collection of infectious pop that’s rife with positivity and possibility.


Songs To Play

As one of the founding members of Brisbane-bred legends The Go-Betweens Robert Forster should need no introduction, but his recent sixth solo album Songs To Play (his first long-player in almost seven years) represents his poppiest and most playful collection in many moons, full of innate melody, memorable hooks and those wry, inventive lyrics that Forster has long done so well. Forster’s songwriting is as unique and mildly eccentric as ever and he’s assembled a tight and united band (featuring members of locals The John Steel Singers) making this one of the strongest and sprightliest releases of his exceedingly excellent solo canon.



Despite Achievement being The Stress Of Leisure’s fifth album they’ve flown somewhat under the radar until recent times. The Brisbane band started as a bedroom project for frontman Ian Powne’s peculiar worldview and powerful, classicist songwriting chops, gradually picking up members over ther journey and turning into a fully-fledged rock band. Originally taking their cues from legendary local outfits like The Go-Betweens and The Apartments, Achievement finds them taking on more of an ‘80s post-punk vibe with its angular guitars, robust basslines and Powne’s typically artful lyrics about the vicissitudes of life in the suburban sub-tropics.


Freedom Ride

Queensland veteran Troy Cassar-Daley is a giant of the Australian country scene – he’s won over 30 Golden Guitars (including five at the most recent Tamworth Country Music Festival) and racked up numerous gold albums – and on his eleventh solo studio album Freedom Ride he collaborates with fellow mainstays Paul Kelly and Jimmy Barnes (among others). The title track Freedom Ride is a Cassar-Daley/Kelly co-write looking at the famous NSW civil rights bus ride from the 1960s, this issue of segregation obviously hitting home hard for the Indigenous Cassar-Daley who was raised in rural towns during this same period. Other tracks like Black Mountain, This Old Hat and Since You Left This Town also speak genuinely to the Australian experience, Cassar-Daley at both his most personal and his most populist.

The awards ceremony is set to go down at Brisbane Powerhouse on Monday 21 March and will feature performances from The BelligerentsAyla, Astro Travellers and more, with tickets on sale via the event's website.

For more information, see theGuide or check The Music App.