Friday, 12 December 2014

Top 114 Songs of 2014, #20 - 11

Lykke Li, St Vincent, Grimes + Beyonce!

by St. Vincent

What's the point of doing anything?
This is no time for confessing. 

I'm sitting here watching the music video for 'Digital Witness' for what must be the 347th time and I still can't get over how ridiculously cool St. Vincent is. A total weirdo, yes, but it's that total weirdness and quirky nature that makes her the coolest. Annie Clark commits 100% to her performance and the 'art' of it all, which is what makes her such a fascinating, believable character. 2014 was St. Vincent's biggest year yet, with her self-titled, fourth studio album released to critical acclaim. NME even named it the album of the year. It's hard to disagree when you've got songs like 'Digital Witness', which like the performer herself is totally weird, highly quirky but ridiculously cool. The brassy sounds driving the piece along seem to get stuck in my head for days and days when I hear the track. An unexpected pop smash? Maybe. But you should always expect the unexpected with St. Vincent. (Matt Bond) 

by Kingswood

I feel the fire, your heart is deafening,
What have you done, my dear? 

Kingswood. They do that rock and roll thing exceptionally well, don't they? On their debut album, Microscopic Wars, they more than proved that the future of Australian rock is in safe hands with songs like 'Suckerpunch' available as supporting evidence to this fact. This is a balls to the wall, party starting rock anthem that will have you moshing around your living room like all the punters in the accompanying video. I can't get over how good Kingswood's dude harmonies are either. They make an already amazing song even more so. (Matt Bond) 

Here’s something special for you. It’s a piece of Australian rock that is all dirty guitars, strong vocals, driving drums and a whole lot of beard and hair. This is rock and roll and Australian rock music at its best. And for those of you who were more than a little upset at the thought Of Kingswood appearing so low in our countdown way back at number 107? Bam! Suckerpunched. (Jo Michelmore)

by Dear Plastic

Where ever we go,
I won't fall to sleep because there's no way to know. 

You've hopefully seen Dear Plastic pop up on this blog thing here over the past couple of years. Our lovely Lou checked out their EP last year, Nayt and Jo had a review/debate over the clip for the single 'Buck Up and Pay The Reaper' (which you read about earlier in the countdown) and I was completely blown away by their 2014 debut album, The Thieves Are Babes. I love it and it's definitely one of my favourite albums of the year. A permanent fixture on our weekly Top 25 since the album's release was this track, 'Epic Delay'. When you listen to it, I hope you understand why. It's a perfect three minutes and forty seconds of music in which Scarlette Baccini, Josh Moult, Danny Cox, Cory Mollison and Nathan Clark hold your heart very delicately in their hands, coming very close to the point of crushing it. Baccini's vocal performance is one of the finest of the year and you can't help but hurt for the heartbreak and loneliness that's coming across. I'm going to go listen again now. What? I've told you before, I'm a sucker for a sad song. (Matt Bond)  

And most the award for most controversial amongst us IMKOS bloggers this year goes to….Dear Plastic. But that song happened way back at number 82. Go back and read that. That was a good ten. We’re only at the top twenty and I’m already reminiscing, so I digress (sorry, I say that a lot. I digress a lot. This is a nasty cycle).  Melbournians Dear Plastic are a little fave of some of us here at IMKOS and while they seem to be labelled trip hop amongst some, I feel like that doesn’t do them justice. There’s more to their talent than one meek little genre, this is a band that are a little bit more than that, simultaneously a little dark and moody and then sometimes so cute I wanna grab them by the cheeks and go “you’re so cute!” (but I wouldn’t actually do that, that’s just weird). In our number 18 song ‘Epic Delay’, the power of singer Scarlette Baccini’s voice is completely unrecognized and unappreciated; when she really kicks in midway through I kinda think there’s an epic delay in the general public knowing who Dear Plastic are (see what I did there? I may have written too many reviews in the last few days. Apologies.) The end of all these words? I like Dear Plastic. (Jo Michelmore) 

by tUnE-yArDs

I can't seem to feel it, I can't seem to feel it,
I can't seem to feel, I'll kneel,
I'll kneel, I'll kneel the cold steel. 

I still can’t comprehend how good this song is. Everything about it makes me happy. Ev-er-y-thing. It makes me smile in the biggest way with its quick fire words and singsong rhythm, which reminds me of all the good things from my childhood – the giggles with friends, the self-choreography before I was too embarrassed to dance, the ability to sing without fear of being ridiculed (although that fear never seemed to develop too much). I could get all technical about how impressive tUnE-yArDs are with minimal instruments and how much I love the harmonies and vocal gymnastics, but I don’t really want to, because what better review can you say than this song make me smile, every single time? (Jo Michelmore)

What's a tUnE-yArDs? I still don't really know, but I know it's the brainchild of Merrill Garbus and if 'Water Fountain' is anything to go by, you want to be best friends with her. I think life with Merrill would be a whole lot of fun and that's something I never thought I'd say about someone with a name like Merrill. 'Water Fountain' should have been a #1 hit around the world. It's head-scratching pop that you can't help but dance along to. There's lyrics about a two pound chicken tasting better with friends and there's a healthy appropriation of black culture on display. If 'All About That Bass' can be a #1 hit, why can't 'Water Fountain'? Not that 'All About That Bass' isn't alright and positive body image message blah blah blah... but you'd rather be dancing to 'Water Fountain'. The crazy gets ramped up throughout the song before things completely break down in a dance frenzy that you want to be a part of. So go be part of it. Now. (Matt Bond)  

by Lykke Li

Even though it hurts, even though it scars,
Love me when it storms, love me when I fall... 

So Matt has spoken about the ballad/love song of the year during this countdown, but if I had to name one for myself, this one could be it. We’ve already covered my strange psyche in this countdown, my comfort in depression, my happiness at the sad song and this one is the ultimate in that experience, having a moment with ones watering eyes and moving on…or pressing the repeat button because you can’t get enough of the perfection. Lykke’s almost trembling voice, full of emotion and betrayal is so affecting, just her and guitar putting their hearts on the line in the most innocent and daring of ways. If the oh so simple clip and the words “Even though it hurts, even though it scars, Love me when it storms, love me when I fall, Every time it breaks, every time its torn, Love me like I'm not made of stone” don’t give you goosebumps, then you might want to check yo self. Your heart could be made of stone. (Jo Michelmore)

We move from one of the most upbeat, exciting tracks of 2014 to one of the saddest, total downers of the year. Hopefully they sort of cancel each other out and your mood remains average. Not good, not bad... average. You're welcome. I say 'Love Me Like I'm Not Made Of Stone' is a bit of a downer, but really it's a beautiful piece of songwriting, expertly performed by Lykke Li. She's asking, in the form of a heartbreaking ballad, for the same thing everyone else wants; to be loved. How could you say no to her after listening to this? (Matt Bond) 

by Beyonce ft. Jay-Z

Then I fill the tub up halfway then ride it with my surfboard, surfboard, surfboard,
Graining on that wood, graining, graining on that wood... 

Drank. Surfbort. Oh, Bey... you've done it again. Well, you and the eight other listed writers. One of which is Timbaland and now I know where the surfboard bit came from. 'Drunk In Love' sort of became a pop culture phenomenon after the release of Beyonce, teaming the superstar wife/husband pairing of Beyonce and Jay-Z for something new, something different. The new would be Beyonce's totally swag-tacular performance. The different would be one of Jay's laziest raps, but it's always nice to see these two crazy kids together. 'Drunk In Love' might not be one of the 'best' songs of the year, but it's one of the songs that defined the year. And when it comes on when you've been dranking... life = complete. (Matt Bond)

I think it’s really nice that Beyonce chose to feature the trophy she received for placing number 15 on the It’s My Kind Of Scene 2014 Countdown in her clip for ‘Drunk In Love’. Well, if we were to give out actual awards, who’s to say they wouldn’t look like that? They’d probably actually be A4 pieces of paper, with Matt and my handwriting scrawled in texta across them, but we’d draw a pretty picture too for extra special effect. I might even get the glue pen and some glitter out, if I was feeling extra crafty. Also extra crafty are Beyonce and Jay-Z, who seem to manage to like each other, be married and be able to work together too. Kudos to them. ‘Drunk In Love’ seems to naturally be the sequel to ‘Crazy In Love’, except this one is a little hotter, a little more mature, a little more swag than bounce and a little more hot than not. Beach scenes in clips are always hot. The reality of rolling around sand and water is generally far from hot in my opinion, but the slow groove, Beyonce’s growling voice and Jay-Z’s quirky but not awkward rap keeps my mind from reality, so it’s all ok. One more thing though, if this is the sequel, what will the third instalment be called? And is there a prequel; ‘You’re Alright But We’re Not In Love’? (Jo Michelmore)  

by Our Man In Berlin

Just a little more time,
Just a bit of control. 

One of my live music highlights of 2014 would definitely be seeing these five boys from Perth play live in my hometown back in June. After loving them from a distance for what seemed like forever, it was such a pleasure to witness the amazing sounds they make being played in the actual flesh and to know that this wasn’t a trick or some kind of quirky magic, these guys were and definitely are as talented as I had hoped they were from hearing their recorded sounds. I fell in love with their EP is it right? this year too and that means it makes me really, really happy to say they feature in our top twenty songs of 2014. ‘Cirrhosis’ is an adventure in everything I love about this band; Trevor, Justin, Cain and Dan’s skills are shown off in every way, the restrained beats driving the song forward with the slightest  force, more like a gentle nudge and Hayden’s voice as beautiful as always, the feelings and soul never in doubt. He has a certain way of being angsty enough to be noticed, but gentle enough to be somehow comforting and hearing all of that is just inconceivable, in the best way. I hear there are brand new songs on the way from OMIB (facebook is a fountain of knowledge) and that makes me squeal a teeny bit. Can’t. Wait. (Jo Michelmore)

by Tkay Maidza

I don't know why they think we're alike,
When I win it's like I give them life. 

You didn't think you had seen the last of Tkay Maidza on this countdown, did you? Get out of town... there's always room for more Tkay. Her latest single, 'Switch Lanes' totally gave us life, but it's ok, I don't think Tkay and I are alike because she's a boss rapper, undeniably cool and a young lady. I'm only one of those things. Try to guess which one, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised with the answer. On 'Switch Lanes' we not only get to hear Maidza throw down those rapid fire rhymes like only she can, we also get to hear some of her serene vocal stylings. And we get to hear all this over some steel drum beats that make the track even more fun than it already is. We're hoping this blows up huge for our fave new rap superstar. And we're hoping to hear a debut album in 2015 too. Plz? Ah, and you're dying to know which of the three options makes me and Tkay alike. Yes... I am also a boss rapper. (Matt Bond)  

Every time she releases another song that little teenage part of me that isn’t so cynical and hardened about…everything…gets really excited and there’s a possibility I may have let out a little “YES!” when I first heard ‘Switch Lanes’ from the fabulous Tkay. I haven’t always been the biggest fan of Australian rap, but then Tkay comes along and makes me wonder why, because honestly, this is so good I’m not sure why all Aus rap doesn’t sound like this. Well, it doesn’t because not everyone can be this awesome. I suppose things might be kind of boring if they were. And then I’d just be saying ‘Switch Lanes’ was kind of average, which it’s so far from. It’s about as far from average as you can get. It’s extraordinary. (Jo Michelmore)

#12. GO
by Grimes ft. Blood Diamonds

And I'd like to think that we don't dream just to dream it off...

There were a lot of complaints from people on the interwebs about Grimes' new 'style' or whatever when 'Go' was released. Seriously, do that thing you should never do and look at the YouTube comments on the video. No, wait... don't do it. You don't need to torture yourself today. Anyway, there's people calling Grimes' Claire Boucher a sell out, calling 'Go' a terrible song and a lot of non-PG rated stuff too. Now, people are entitled to their opinion, especially when it comes to music because it's a very personal yada yada yada. Yep. You get where I'm going with all that. Anyway, my opinion is that the haters (gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate) are having a hipster #wankwankwank cry because Grimes didn't keep on releasing the same music as she did before. So what if she got a bit 'pop-ier' and took some tricks from the dubstep crowd? 'Go' is still a gorgeous piece of electronic music and it's one of the year's greatest songs. (Matt Bond) 

First up, let me say that Grimes is probably my least favourite name of an artist on this here countdown. It just is. You're going to have to accept that. Second up, let me say like Amy Shark’s ‘Spits On Girls’ back at number 94, I learnt my lesson and don’t judge books by covers, songs by title or artists by name anymore, which is lucky, because otherwise I might not have appreciated the work that is ‘Go’. It’s weird, starting perfectly pop, the sweet vocal, the mild synths lulling you into a sense of comfort and then suddenly we turn all a bit dubstep and I can’t ever imagine Rihanna doing this the justice it deserves, so I’m actually really glad she didn’t take the song that was written for her. I'm also really glad of my whole non-judgmental philosophy these days. Unless I'm judging just how good Grimes is, which is really, really good. (Jo Michelmore)

by Thelma Plum

'Cause we once were in love,
And I once was all yours. 

There's no such thing as too much of 'Young In Love'. When Thelma Plum's Monsters EP came out in the middle of the year, I was traveling through Europe and had the song on repeat for weeks. When the video came out last month, I just sat there watching it over and over. And then that had me listening to the song on repeat again on my music listening contraption device. Also known as an iPhone. The move away from her acoustic sound to this electronic one (with production handled by M-Phazes) was the right move when you get a song like 'Young In Love' which benefits from the warm, digital touches that surround Plum's voice, on point as always. This track stands with last year's 'Breathe In, Breathe Out' as Plum's emotional gut-punch to the listener and I mean that in the best possible way. Beautiful in its ability to break your heart and put it back together all in one go, you won't forget 'Young In Love'. (Matt Bond) 

Have you ever been? Maybe you have, maybe you haven’t. If you have, you’ll know it. The beats, like your heart so heavy in your chest. The strings, like the never ending thoughts of that someone, gentle and sweet, strong and never ending. The keys, a constant but quiet reminder of what it was and is like. How Thelma Plum has the ability to take her heart out and lay it out for everyone to see in song is such a talent and so beyond what I’ve ever been able to face in my life, but I’m so glad she has the skills, because it’s her talent that makes facing your own existence so much easier. And if you haven’t been young in love, you only need to hit play once to know how it was, how it is and how it can be. (Jo Michelmore)

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