Thursday, 11 December 2014

Top 114 Songs of 2014, #30 - 21

Jack Ladder, Lana Del Rey, The Griswolds + FKA Twigs!

by Jack Ladder and The Dreamlanders

If tomorrow never comes, I wouldn't care at all.

If I have the radio on in the car, as opposed to one of those old CD things, it's because someone else is in the car with me and I can't handle their judgment of the likely depressing music I'm currently listening to. So the first time I heard 'Come On Back This Way' I was driving along with a friend and there's me screaming at her to, "Shazam the sh*t out of this!" And Shazam she did, even though an equal parts delightful/dour triple J presenter would say the track was by one Jack Ladder and The Dreamlanders right as the song ended. I guess the point (?) of this story is I'm glad I had the radio on that day, because I wouldn't have wanted to miss hearing 'Come On Back This Way', a song that I've loved just a little bit more with each listen to the point that, hey, here it is as one of the year's best tracks. The driving beat, Ladder's fantastic speak/sung qualities, the 'caught on the wrong side of the tracks' tale and, of course, the total budget video clip. There's a whole lot to love. (Matt Bond)

HashtagohmygodI’mnotsureIcancopewiththerestofthiscountdown. Seriously. When number 30 is this good, how good can the next twenty nine songs be? Quite good it seems. I told you, I know what the rest of them are and trust me, they’re good. No, I’m still not telling you what number 1 is. Right now, Jack Ladder and his dreamlanding friends. And here we have the third appearance from Sharon Van Etten, which means we should give Sharon some kind of honorary award, I think. (There’s a handmade certificate in the mail, Sharon) Jack takes us through his strange little world in ‘Come On Back This Way’, which is actually not that strange, after all, it’s just the story of a person who wants another person and that person isn’t reciprocating their affections and everything is so dark and depressing and realistic and poor and alone and a little bit Jarvis Cocker but about a thousand times better. This song is so goddamn depressing it makes me insanely happy and there’s a little sight into my psyche. Shut up. You don’t know me. (Jo Michelmore)

by Big Smoke

'Cause I wanna dance, I want to dance with you.
And I want to see you smiling, when I'm smiling too. 

So in that last one where I said I couldn’t cope with how good this countdown was getting? Example number two. This song came into my world midway through the year and in the way things are when you meet your first love, I couldn’t imagine my world without it once it was here. It’s just so extraordinarily adorable, I was completely taken in by its charms, so simple, so cute, stripped back sounds and such a delightful little story all I wanted was for the person of little Adrian’s dreams to come running into his arms for the rest of eternity and everyone lived happily ever after etc. This doesn’t often happen in real life, so it’s really nice to imagine it when the sweetest songs like this one come along. (Jo Michelmore)

Romance in song form, thy name is 'Colours'. Look, I know I said that Jessie Ware's 'Say You Love Me' is the love ballad of the year, but if there was a best song that's actually about L-O-V-E (love), it's got to be this little ditty by Big Smoke. Adrian Slattery pours his heart out in the bestest, not-cheesiest way on a track that when I find my way back to it, I just can't stop listening. Listen. Repeat. Listen. Repeat. This continues for quite some time, but hopefully you get where I'm going here. A beautiful piece of songwriting and a truly memorably performance. We want to hear a lot more of this from Big Smoke very soon. (Matt Bond)

by FKA Twigs

I know it hurts,
You know, I'd put you first. 

I know someone who absolutely loves FKA Twigs. Like, absolutely LOVES FKA Twigs. I’d say it was to the point of pathetic, but then I don’t want to use a word like pathetic in the same sentence as FKA Twigs, because she’s anything but pathetic. She is like a breath of fresh air in an electronic landscape that’s getting overcrowded with similar sounding and sometimes average beats. She’s also an artist who knows who she is, makes the music she wants without apologies and takes no prisoners in her understated take-over of English electronica this year. That person I know who loves FKA-T is going to love me saying that. ‘Two Weeks’ is the simplest, sexiest song this genre and that country produced this year and also contains one of my favourite lyrics, ever. You’re going to have to guess what that line is. But let me just say, it’s a really, really good one. (Jo Michelmore) 

Oh my... this countdown just got awfully steamy and just a little bit dirrty. Does anyone else feel like they need a shower after listening to 'Two Weeks'? After a banner couple of years for British electronic artists, FKA Twigs proudly kept the flag flying with the Mercury Music Prize nominated killer debut, LP1. This sexy little encounter, 'Two Weeks', saw FKA Twigs, aka Thaliah Barnett, go from 'next big thing' to just 'big thing' with its fierce presentation of an artist demanding to be recognised and because she could do certain things to you better than someone else could. Ahem. All I'll say is I'm sure she can. Is that the lyric that's your favourite, Jo? It's like the non-angry, totally in control, sex as power, British electronic, inverted version of Alanis Morissette's 'You Outta Know'. Don't question how I look at things. (Matt Bond)

#27. BONES
by Little May

There was this boy I fell apart to... 

Look, I can't say for sure I can feel in my bones how Little May did, falling apart to a boy in the backseat of a car. What I can say with all certainty is that when I'm listening to Little May's music, the feeling in my bones is one of immense happiness. Liz Drummond, Hannah Field and Annie Hamilton built on their many successes in 2013 with the release of their debut, self-titled EP which featured 'Bones', a song that stands tall as one of the best pop releases of the year. And it really is a fantastic 'pop' song, which might seem a bit off given that we're usually throwing indie-folk-rock labels at Little May, but what is 'Bones' if not a brilliant pop song? It's got all the hallmarks of what make a memorable pop track with the added bonus of lyrics coming from some of the finest storytellers in the country and those beautiful Little May harmonies they're now renowned for. When I saw a write-up on Little May and 'Bones' on, I'm pretty sure I turned into that dancing lady emoji and then the smiley face with love heart eyes, but not the person... the cat. (Matt Bond)    

I love writing on this blog because I get to write about one of my true loves in life, music, and I get to do that with my friends. One of those friends and my fellow blogger Matt introduced me to Little May last year. It's well documented on our blog that I’m a sucker for the story telling song, just like him. I cried a little the first time I heard this song. Sometimes I still do. I never told Matt, or anyone else that, but essentially, since he introduced me to Little May, it’s his fault I cried. (Thanks, you’re a jerk Matt) But I cried because it reached into my life, into a part I don’t visit often and told the story of a portion of what makes me who I am today and it’s only the best life defining songs that do that. With its heart wrenching lyrics, interweaving guitars and sweet intricate melodies, it became one of my very favourite songs of this year, so I have to thank my fellow blogger and friend for that introduction. (Thanks. You’re a jerk, but you’re a great fellow-blogging-music-introducing friend, Matt!) This year, quite simply, my friends, Little May and 'Bones' are some of the (many) reasons I have loved writing on this blog. (Jo Michelmore)

At number 65 I marvelled at the ability of Our Man in Berlin to unite all of the It’s My Kind of Scene-rs. Well, guess what? Here’s another one of those rare and wonderful gems. While we spend our time arguing about who is for and against Kanye West and whether or not I could actually ‘make it’ as an international rap superstar, there’s no denying our love for Little May. Matt’s obsession knows no bounds; Jo has been recognised at the front of their show, and me… Well, I leave hash brown themed song titles on their Instagram account. While we may show our love in different ways, we all feel it in our bones. (Katie Langley)

My so called obsession falls outside the legal definition of stalking. What? (Matt Bond)

by Howling Bells

I've got patience,
Patience it seems, ain't got time for me... 

It always seems like far too long between visits when we get to hear a little something-something new from Howling Bells, but we were in for a treat this year with the rocking and rolling 'Slowburn'. Easily one of our defining rock numbers of the year, 'Slowburn' shows us there's no signs of slowing down for Howling Bells and that Juanita Stein is still the most perfect front for a band in ever. I wouldn't blame you if you thought 'Slowburn' was actually a classic rock track from the late 60s/early 70s. It's not just good, it's THAT good. (Matt Bond)

#25. DEAR
by Jessie Frye

Slow motion lover, we die with no last words,
Here I am, grieving you tonight. 

Did I tell you I stumbled upon the music of Jessie Frye on The Wall Street Journal website? Yeah, it's true. The Wall Street Journal knows good music. And I know this, because they introduced me to one of our favourite new singers of the year, Jessie Frye, who hails from a place called Denton which is in the state of Texas in the U.S.A. I can't say I know much about Denton, but I know that "you don't mess with Texas" and I'm going to extend that to "you don't mess with Jessie Frye". On 'Dear' she is a bonafide rock star, absolutely owning the moment and backed up by roaring guitars and rocking drums. It was a standout moment on her 2014 album, Obsidian and if you're loving this (and why wouldn't you?) you should definitely go give that album a listen. (Matt Bond)  

The thing is, I live in Australia and although I’d be quite happy to travel almost anywhere in the world, I never really had a reason to go to Texas until this year. This year was the first time I heard the tremendous sounds of Jessie Frye who gave me every reason to want to fly all the way over a big ocean and visit her homeland. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not thinking of stalking, I just love the idea of knowing where these sounds came from, the huge chords and solid guitars, the driving percussion, the perfectly positioned keys and that voice, oh that voice! Everyone I know is aware of my secret not so secret dream of being an angry rock girl and ‘Dear’ is like all of those dreams rolled into one. And it’s a really angry, really awesome dream that one. (Jo Michelmore) 


Only one that makes me feel this crazy,
You are the one. 

Speaking of going places, I must have judged Canberra too quickly. I’ve been there a couple of times and while I enjoyed my stays, this is not the Canberra I found. Safia, hailing from our nation’s capital, give a really, really good name to what is often a harshly judged metropolis. ‘You Are The One’ is an upbeat little adventure, bright synths and quirky little beats and with its build from a tragic tale into a super bouncy little dance number it’s like if Australia had a Eurovision this would win and that’s everything electronic pop music should be. I might like Canberra, but I love Safia. (Jo Michelmore)

by Lana Del Rey

But you've got music, you've got the music in you,
Don't you? 

The thing I like about Lana Del Rey is that Lana Del Rey knows who Lana Del Rey is and she ain’t messing with the Lana Del Rey formula. While the song is almost split in two, with the typical breathy Lana cooing about alcohol and addiction and everything slightly tragic that Lana has a love of and then the ultra cruisey Lana kicks in channelling the sounds of Stevie Nicks in a not so subtle and strange way, but amongst all the sounds there at the heart is exactly what should be: Lana Del Rey being the dramatic Lana that she is. It may have been the only taste of Lana that we got this year, but for fans of Lana, it didn’t disappoint. (Jo Michelmore)

If there's one thing Lana Del Rey proved with her sophomore album, Ultraviolence, it's that she's got staying power. I hate to admit it, given my now crazy-fan level adoration of my floral headpiece adorned princess, that even I thought the success of Born To Die would be a one time thing. But I think she went out of her way to mix it up (at least a little) from what we had already heard and she stepped down a way more alternative track with songs like 'West Coast'. Thematically it might not be stepping outside its comfort zone, but the music and the more restrained vocals keep things interesting. Apparently what hasn't changed is her need to be all over some creepy, old dude in her music video. Perhaps she'll move away from that for album number 3. Perhaps not. As a final note, remember that time I got to go to Glastonbury this year? Well I did. And Del Rey's performance of 'West Coast' was a highlight, even if she was sort of just zombie walking around the stage with a durrie in her hand and no shoes on. (Matt Bond)

#22. ABCD
by Ngaiire

Tell the others, that I'm so sorry,
I had to leave. 

"We only die once, not twice." Sometimes I think that a song is actually too powerful for the masses to handle, which is why it sort of remains a hidden gem and doesn't break out to get the success it deserves. Like, if it got out and the whole world heard it, the outpouring of emotion would just be too much to handle. There'd be too many people in the world experiencing the beauty of such a stunning track and nothing would get done, the trains wouldn't run on time and so on and so forth. You're probably sitting there thinking I'm a crazy person, but I think it's just easier for me to think like that as opposed to accepting a song as amazing as Ngaiire's 'ABCD' just simply didn't get the attention it so richly deserved from a huge audience. I know I'm part of a small audience that will love this track forever, but at least I can genuinely say that I will love this song forever. (Matt Bond)

Ngaiire, Ngaiire, Ngaiire, oh how I wonder of your talent, your imagination, your way of being. How I wonder how you can be so talented and yet not the name on everyone’s lips when one speaks of talent in this country we share. How I wonder how much your heart must have felt to be able to sing so gorgeously, painfully, gloriously in what is possibly my favourite song of yours and how I wonder just where the inspiration for such a song visits, because if listening is this moving, then I can’t even imagine what it must have been like to create. Oh Ngaiire, how I could listen to this song a million times and it still wouldn’t be enough. (Jo Michelmore)

by The Griswolds

You hate so much and you're better off alone.

This is the face of Australian indie pop party rock in 2014 and what a charming little face it is. ‘Beware The Dog’; with all it’s lovely little “whoah’s!” and sing-a-long lines and cute little hooks and drums like that busker that has played in the same part of my city every single night for what seems like a hundred years, all of that and the punch your hand in the air carelessness of this song which hides its true meaning, its not so far underlying themes of friendship and addiction and lives lived and lives changed. The Griswolds are the face of Australian indie pop party rock and what a pleasant surprise, what an intelligent little face it is, hiding behind all that party pop charm. (Jo Michelmore)

The Griswolds' plans for world domination are coming along very nicely. They were busy teaching us to Be Impressive with album cuts like 'Beware The Dog' that make you want to head on down to the beach for a summer party. They're quietly doing their thing, building up a solid fan base in America and at home and given the fun qualities of their music, it's no wonder. What I've been loving about The Griswolds is they mask some dark material in the guise of upbeat, summer-time party music. Listening to the story can make you look at the song in a whole new light. And you can flip back and forth between those views at your leisure. It's smart that is. It's only up and up from here for The Griswolds. (Matt Bond)


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