Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Top 114 Songs of 2014, #40 - 31

Jessie Ware, Harts, I Know Leopard + Kimbra!

by Harts

Red and blue, here in my place,
The sad look upon my face. 

There’s a lot of hype surrounding the artist claiming our number 40 spot. A lot of it involves talk of Prince and what Prince thinks of Harts and the fact that Prince thinks anything of Harts at all (Prince likes Harts, just so you know). All of this hype is all well and good, but some cynical types might use the words of Public Enemy in the late 80s; “don’t believe the hype”. I may often be cynical, but that saying doesn’t apply here. Harts deserves all the hype and more. While his previous singles were all funk and disco and dance driven goodness, ‘Red And Blue’ gave us Harts from a different perspective, all dirty guitar and gravely voice, proving a boy who knows his funk can also be really good friends with the blues. I love this track as I do Harts himself and this is one of those rare cases where the hype is well deserved. The hype? Believe it! (Jo Michelmore)

We love some sexy, funk-infused guitar work around these parts and Harts continues to deliver all that and more in spades. 'Red and Blue', taken from the (incredible) debut album Daydreamer, took very little time to win us over with the heavy, bluesy vibes and Harts' charismatic vocal performance. It really is little wonder that Prince is such a huge fan. (Matt Bond)

by Michelle Xen

Struggle 'gainst the power and the bland of the white bread man.

Michelle Xen is a quiet achiever. I hope that doesn't come across as condescending, as that's really not what I'm going for here. Xen is an artist that keeps putting out quality track after quality track, often without the attention she really deserves, but she keeps on keeping on. Which makes me positive that it's a case of 'when' not 'if' for Michelle Xen. I mean, you've got a track like 'Short Term Plan' that completely grabs you from beginning to end in a way that only the most perfect pop tracks do. So I'm just here thinking, this should be huge. Why isn't this huge? This has got to be huge. Because it's a huge, monster hit just waiting to happen. And I've got a sneaky suspicion that Xen will have a few more of those up her sleeve when she releases her 2015 EP, DYNAMIC$ of DI$OBEDIENCE. (Matt Bond)

by Holy Holy

Out here I can taste the salt,
It's in the air. 

More music goodness coming to us from Brisbane and this time it's thanks to Holy Holy. We checked in with them earlier in the countdown with the track 'History' and now we're lucky enough to say, "hey, what's up?" to them again with the just a little bit more amazing (in my humble opinion) song, 'House of Cards'. The partnership between Timothy Carroll and Oscar Dawson has seen them find a niche in the sort of nu-folk scene that can't be emulated. Carroll's voice is too distinct, Dawson's guitar work too ingrained in the performer. And the sound, bolstered by Ryan Strathie and Graham Ritchie, finds Holy Holy a unique, awesome outfit that has a very bright future ahead. (Matt Bond)

I said it back in March, Imma say it again now, I love a good driving song. It’s those twanging guitars that bring it on, the picture of the open road to everywhere but here and they continue all the way through, taking me on a journey of adoration of this band that I’m not likely to get over any time soon. Timothy Carroll has one of the strongest and one of my favourite voices in Australian music and Oscar Dawson has one of the most attractive faces in Australian music…I mean, is one of the greatest guitarist in Australian music (well, both of those things are true, shut up) so you stick them together and Holy Holy is a magical combination. The country-twinge and the rock feel of ‘House Of Cards’ builds to a point of drama that makes you want to experience it all again once it’s done…and yes, that’s something I’ve done over and over and over again this year. (Jo Michelmore)

by Torres

Lay off me would ya,
I'm just trying to take this new skin for a spin. 

Can you believe that Torres is only 23 years old? I couldn't when I first read it and after listening to 'New Skin'. I was thinking... but, you're like a wise, sage storyteller that's lived a full life and you've got all these lessons to teach and knowledge to impart on your listeners. Then when you're listening to her sing about being a tired woman and not yet quite being 23 you feel like giving her a hug and quietly letting her know that feeling's not going to be going away anytime soon. Which creates this complex relationship between artist and listener where you're left wondering who's got their shit sorted. Unless you're younger, in your teens or something. If that's the case, um, life will always be awesome and you feel better the older you get about everything. Ha! Anyway, 'New Skin' features some instrumental back-up from two other acts that have already places on our countdown this year, Sharon Van Etten and The War on Drugs. Along with Torres' Mackenzie Scott, that could be the most amazingly depressing collection of indie musicians together in a room, drinking whiskey and writing songs like 'New Skin'. Oh and the answer to that question about who's got their shit sorted... the listener or the artist? The answer is no one. (Matt Bond)

Well well well, here we have a song that features two other acts who’ve already appeared in this countdown so this countdown is getting all sorts of creepy now, isn’t it? Is it? I don’t know. I do know that Torres delivered an emotional roller coaster with ‘New Skin’, the smoky vocals grabbing one by the throat and the wall of instruments creating such intense feelings of desperation and hidden power that it’s a song you need to hear numerous times to really, truly appreciate, without wanting to do something semi dramatic, like run onto the street and kick a bus stop or go to a bar and drink until you dial an ex under the influence. Don’t do that kids. And have you figured out who the other acts are? Sharon Van Etten who broke our hearts at number 57 and The War On Drugs who rocked us at number 55, that’s who. Stick ‘em together and look what happens at Number 37. Goodness. That’s what. (Jo Michelmore) 

by Holly Who

In this crazy world, that we try to survive,
Hear people say all the time, can we get back to that simple life. 

And the surprise of the year goes to…..Holly Who. This certainly wasn’t what I was expecting to hear from the traditionally rock epicentre of regional NSW, but what a beautiful surprise it was! Soul soul soul, rnb, a little bit bluesy and a whole lot more soul, Holly Who gave us a song that could be at home in a collection from somewhere in the soul heartland of the 60s and sits just perfectly in our countdown of 2014. I’m hoping they sit somewhere in the 115 of 2015 as well. (Jo Michelmore)

Newcastle is where it's at. We've been loving so many acts to come out of Silverchair's hometown in 2014 and one of our absolute favourites has been Holly Who. You might be sitting there asking yourself, "Holly who?" You might think you're hilarious. I might have made a similar lame joke when a lovely email from the band found its way to us. And then I listened to 'Get A Little More' and wanted to make sure I knew a whole lot more about this soulful, rocking and rolling outfit. They're definitely owning that 'soulful' definition, but 'Get A Little More' is also a whole lot of fun and I actually mean fun, like you will have a good time with this music. You'll want to dance, sing along and have FUN. And really, if anything seems to have been misplaced in music in 2014, it's fun. Holly Who and their revival sounds are bringing it back and we are all for that. You should be too. (Matt Bond)

by Asgeir

Death cannot take hold,
If I can keep momentum. 

The beautiful Lou who used to write with us here on this little blog was a big, big fan of Asgeir (and when I say was, I mean probably still is) and I can understand why she loved him so much. With the press of play his smooth sounds glide in an out of your atmosphere, sometimes tapping you on the face, sometimes resting on your shoulder just reminding you they are there. While I (mostly) have no idea what he’s singing, the gentle rhythms of ‘King And Cross’ build to a nice beat that induces a head nod, a sway and a hum along, all the while distracting me from trying to remember how to pronounce his name. One day I’ll learn Icelandic. Until then, Asgeir will keep me company. (Jo Michelmore)

Iceland. Known for its mountainous regions, lack of an army, Bjork and now Asgeir. One in ten Icelandians reportedly own a copy of Asgeir's native language debut, which was subsequently recorded in English as In The Silence. A wise move for anyone with global ambitions that saw him garner support from triple J in Australia and exposure to a whole bunch of new fans that fell for tracks like 'King and Cross'. The video definitely has that "classic" Icelandic quirkiness to it, don't it? Maybe Asgeir and Bjork are more alike than I originally thought. But the song... 'King and Cross'. It's just really great indie pop that I've been getting more and more into all year. Hopefully this is just the start of a long and successful career for Asgeir. (Matt Bond)

by Megan Washington

My heart is a lonely hunter...

Speaking of great indie pop music, we've got Megan Washington's 'My Heart Is A Wheel' and it's more than just great, it's an amazing little slice of 80s by way of 2014 deliciousness. It's another one of those tracks that if I heard someone say they didn't like it, I would have no choice but to throw whatever 'shade' is via an extremely disapproving sideways glance. A little something like this...

... just a little more fierce. And from a much older male. Do you get where I'm going with this? 'My Heart Is A Wheel' is way too good for me to deal with anyone not liking it. That is all. (Matt Bond)

Well hello again there Megan, isn’t this a nice surprise? Not really, I’ve seen the whole countdown. I decided on some of it. I even know what’s number one. I’m not telling you, yet. Nice try though. (Sorry Megan it’s not you. Spoiler alert?) ‘My Heart Is A Wheel’ was the third single from Megan’s sophomore album There There and like much of that album it’s another flawless little pop song; another visit to the 80s with quick beats and a film clip full of pinks and reds and guns and ice cream and something about her heart being a wheel (I actually have no idea what all of this means, unless you want me to get all wanky and discuss symbolism and other boring things, however, this is pop music, so let’s not) but this all makes me angry about the fact that when I start typing ‘Megan’ into google to the name ‘Trainor’ comes up first instead of ‘Washington’. Why don’t more people appreciate Megan Washington? I don’t know but we do. (Jo Michelmore)

by Kimbra

But from the moment I met ya,
I ran into fate, I ran into a brighter day. 

I must confess that I am only very new to the Kimbra appreciation society. Is it a thing? Well, I guess it is now. The Presidents of this association would definitely be Matt and Jo, long-time supporters and lovers of Kimbra. I’m at a loss as to really explain how I’ve taken so long to join this elite group. I could offer some suggestions, like the fact that I spend most of my time on the Internet searching for luscious beards. In any event, I’m up to speed now, which is nothing short of a miracle. Badoom-tish. (Katie Langley)

Yep, I’ll quite happily put myself at close to the top of the Kimbra fan list along with Matt, especially when she sings songs like this and makes clips like the one she made for ‘Miracle’. Along with her deliciously charming vocals, it’s like the hand of disco came down (from wherever the hand of disco lives) and tapped her gently on the forehead, which gave her magical powers to create the catchiest of disco-dance-pop-rnb anthems and the hand of style came along (from wherever the hand of style lives, somewhere near my place) and tapped her on the shoulder and said, yes, you are doing fine, here have this super cute red outfit and matching backpack. Watching her bounce around the street to one of the bounciest tracks of the year has been a highlight of my fandom and made me think; I wonder if she’s this cute all the time? I don’t know, but I imagine so. (Jo Michelmore)

Kimbra Johnson... is there anything she can't do? Look, I'm sure there's maybe one or two things she can't do, but when it comes to making the bestest music around, there's no stopping her. 'Miracle' was a track from Kimbra's mind-blowing second album The Golden Echo that took no time to ease into. There was only love. Oh, so much love. Riding a Jackson 5-ish wave of joy, Kimbra sets out to wash all of your worries away with one of the happiest tracks of 2014. It's way more happy than that other track that topped the charts that was supposed to make you happy and kind of did the opposite. Just take a look at that smile at the start of the 'Miracle' music video. Pure. Happiness. Don't fight it, just go with it. (Matt Bond) 

by I Know Leopard

All my friends and I,
We own the night... 

While we all struggle to find and keep our one perfect soul mate and get along with our respective families, it’s the family we choose that generally means much more than a lot of us give them credit for. That family is made up of your friends, the ones who can see you in your pjs, unwashed and unfed, the ones who you can insult without a single loss of love, the ones who share your love of whatever comfort food it is you choose, the ones who share a bazillion in jokes and references, the ones you can sing along to crappy pop songs, the ones who you'll be hiding with when the zombocalypse begins and most importantly the ones you can call in the middle of the night when your world is crashing down. They’re the people who will follow you through all stages of your life yet are so often overlooked, but are the most important to your existence. So when a song like I Know Leopard's ‘Hold This Tight’ comes along with its drifting keys and layered guitars and gentle vocals that celebrate those special relationships, of course I’m gonna like it. In fact, I’m not gonna like it, I’m gonna love it, just like I love my friends. Lots. (Jo Michelmore)

As "writer" type people, we tend to repeat ourselves every now and then and maybe use certain words more than we should. One of the words I drop like it's hot, is 'dreamy'. It's just that there's a lot of music coming out, particularly from Australia, that's oh so flipping dreamy. And seriously, it doesn't get more dreamy than 'Hold This Tight' from Sydney-based five-piece, I Know Leopard.  The music? Dreamy. Luke O'Loughlin's vocals? Dreamy. Even the video is shot in such a dreamy haze that you can't help but scream, "DREAMY!" So it's all very dreamy. I wouldn't have it any other way. Would you? (Matt Bond)

by Jessie Ware

'Cause I don't wanna fall in love,
If you don't want to try... 

I'll try keep this one short and sweet... the love ballad of the year. No doubt about it. Disclaimer, it doesn't have to be a happy love story for a song to be the love ballad of the year. (Matt Bond)

“Say you love me, to my face” – oh my. Way to start a song Jessie Ware. I can’t get enough of this song. It’s like a screaming whisper, a desperate quiet demand for attention and when it builds to that spot just after three minutes where the choir kicks in, all I wanna do is learn every single word and sing sing sing with a whole bunch of people or alternatively, become a pop star myself so I can make other people feel that way. The latter is probably not going to happen any time soon, so perhaps I should look at the choir option. Either way, this is a pop song that gets me in that great place that the power ballads of the 80s and 90s do, even though it actually doesn't sound like a power ballad of the 80s or 90s. I’m just rambling now, but that’s just because I’m a big fan and words are hard when you like something so much. Oh Jessie, I’ll tell you I love you. I love you. There you go. (Jo Michelmore)

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