Between the newfound commercial appeal of Tame Impala, the multiple identities of King Gizzard, the singer/songwriter tradition of Courtney Barnett, and the occasional oddball anomaly like Tropical Fuck Storm, the current moment in rock belongs to Australia. Amyl and the Sniffers re-entered the conversation back in July with the announcement of their sophomore album of garage punk that falls somewhere between the heavier iterations of King Gizz and the penchant for all-things-weird embraced by TFS. Comfort to Me is a return to the riffs-and-snarls-to-the-front, hardcore-minded punk of 2019’s self-titled debut with subtle forays into post-punk and surf rock (not to mention a new-wavy track about really, really wanting to go to the beach)—all informed by the reclusive reality we underwent in 2020.
“All four of us spent most of 2020 enclosed by pandemic authority in a three-bedroom rental in our home city of Melbourne,” frontperson Amy Taylor explains, introducing the playlist the band threw together to commemorate the release. “We’re like a family: We love each other and feel nothing at the same time. We had just come off two years of touring, being stuck in a van together eight hours a day, and then we’re trapped together for months in this house with sick green walls. It sucked but it was also nice. We spent heaps of time in the backyard listening to music, thrashing around in shorts, eating hot chips. The boys had a hard time being away from the pub and their mates, but it meant we had a lot of time to work on our new record, Comfort to me. Most of the songs were really intuitive. Main thing, we just wanted it to be us.”
She continues, “In the small windows we had in between lockdowns, we went to our rehearsal space, which is a storage locker down the road at National Storage Northcote. We punched all the songs into shape at Nasho and for the first time ever we wrote more songs than we needed. We had the luxury of cutting out the songs that were shit and focusing on the ones we loved. We were all better musicians, as well, because that’s what happens when you go on tour for two years, you get really good at playing. We were a better band and we had heaps of songs, so we were just different. The nihilistic, live in the moment, positivity and panel beater rock-meets-shed show punk was still there, but it was better. The whole thing was less spontaneous and more darkly considered.
“This playlist is not about that,” Taylor concludes. “It’s just a bunch of shit we like. Enjoy.”
AC/DC, “Shoot to Thrill”
Dec Martens: This is the best song for burnouts ever, speaking from experience.
Soggy, “Waiting for the War”
Amy Taylor: I love this song because it’s pure and rowdy.
Choirboys, “Run to Paradise”
Dec Martens: This song used to always play at the WACA (Western Australian Cricket Association Ground) when I was a kid. It’s catchy as and should only ever be played loud.
Spiritual Mafia, “Bath Boy”
Gus Romer: Makes me want to take a bath.
Rose Tattoo, “All the Lessons”
Amy Taylor: The lyrics to this one, OMG. I like running to it.
Coloured Balls, “Human Being”
Bryce Wilson: Best boogie song I know. Sunbury ’73, baby!
Exek, “Elevator Etiquette”
Gus Romer: Makes me want to dance.
Lynyrd Skynyrd, “Gimme Three Steps”
Bryce Wilson: I’ve been pumping Lynyrd Skynyrd heaps. This song makes me feel like I’m in a dark Texas bar.
INXS, “Don’t Change”
Dec Martens: This song always used to play at Wanneroo Raceway when I was a kid. Doesn’t sound that tough but has an epic feel to it.
Shuggie Otis, “Purple”
Bryce Wilson: I’ve been bingeing a lot of Matthew McConaughey movies in lockdown. This song was in Dallas Buyers Club, which is a sick flick.
Low Life, “Down at the Dogs”
Gus Romer: Makes me want to drink.
Nancy Sinatra, “In My Room”
Amy Taylor: We’re still in lockdown. Say no more.