This year marks the 10 year anniversary of Australian music for me. In early ninth-grade I befriended a new kid at school who lent me some great Australian hip hop records, which swiftly led me to discovering Australian music outside of that genre. By this time of year I was regularly scrolling through triple j Unearthed finding new music to download, and discovering young artists who would soon become some of the country's best (like Courtney Barnett in 2012 and Hockey Dad in 2014).
But one artist I missed out on at the time was somewhere else releasing what would soon become everyone's go-to DIY record to listen to. And it was on this day 10 years ago the world was given something special from Newcastle's Jen Buxton.
This year I want to take a look back at some iconic, defining records that shaped my music tastes 10 years ago, and even the albums that I didn't know back then but later on would be living in a special place in my life. And what better album to begin with than 'Don't Change Your Plans'.
I first heard this album sometime probably in the past 3 years. Jen was one of those artists that, while not actively releasing new music, came up regularly in any conversation. People spoke about her music, her live sets, and her influence across the music community. I remember walking to work one day listening to the record for the first time and it was here that I understood why.
I could hear the artists that I loved today in the music. The melancholic sound built on raw vocals, storytelling lyrics, and an acoustic guitar was so familiar upon first listen. In Jen Buxton's songs I can hear, as DJY pointed out, the likes of Bec Stevens, Georgia Maq, and Nothing Rhymes With David. I knew their songs better than the back of my hand, and I could see so clearly how they all triangulated back to 'Don't Change Your Plans', making this my own go-to DIY record that would find it's way at the top spot of all my playlists celebrating the genre and community.
The one that found its way on regular rotation that I instantly fell head over heels for was the album's title track. This felt like the song everyone was talking about as a defining moment that influenced many who listened, including myself. I mean, I'm not a songwriter and probably never will be, but if I did try I would want it to sound like this.
What I loved so much about this song was the emotional impact it carries and how it can draw any listened to a sudden halt. I imagine at the time it was the one that brought the audience to their knees and silenced anyone with the audacity to talk during the set. On top of that is the Like...Alaska singer-songwriter's self-reflective lyrics that pierce through the ears on the layered vocals and guitars, sitting so comfortably somewhere between folk and punk.
It came to me like the missing puzzle to my playlist's collection, like I knew there was an important Australian song out there that I was yet to discover, and this must have been it. And it certainly felt like it. Ever since it's shone out brightly, and proudly holding its place in the Australia DIY community. And so it should, and sometime three years ago I saw exactly why.
From the acoustic structures of this Poison City-released album to the small urban-living words, to the black and cream album cover, 'Don't Change Your Plans clearly changed a lot for anyone living in this part of the music world in 2011, and continues to do so today. I still go to it when I don't know what else to listen to, and I still try to play the title track on guitar when I don't know what else to do.
It clearly holds a special place in everyone's hearts, as it does for mine even though for me the album is three years old. But for those who have been there from the beginning, I can't imagine how special it must be seeing 'Don't Change Your Plans' turn ten. And I know this record will hold the same place when we celebrate it in ten years from now.