Friday, 5 December 2014

Top 114 Songs of 2014, #80 - 71

Ella Hooper, Lorde, Angus and Julia Stone + Kelis!

by Ella Hooper

My love don't worry,
I'll put on my red shoes. 

Sure, it only came out late last month, but I'm still all over Ella Hooper's debut solo album, In Tongues and this week, I've been hitting up 'The Red Shoes' a lot. Hooper is completely at home here, surrounded by pop/rock guitars and percussion while she spins her take on a Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale. Hooper creates some dramatic imagery with lines about being laced up and down and dancing in her blood. But it's not all doom and gloom-y at all. There's an upbeat, singalong vibe that gives the track an anthemic edge and some suitably stellar vocal work from the tale's leading lady. It all adds up to being one mighty, magical song and that's how every fairy tale inspired track should be described, right? (Matt Bond)

There are actually a lot of things I’d like to say about Ella Hooper and who she has been and who she is as an artist, about her place in the landscape of Australian music, about the general media and the music industry that she is part of, which gives as much as it takes. I’d like to talk about how underrated she is as not only a musician but also a voice of reason in a sometimes cloudy distrustful business, but this probably isn’t the place to say all of those things. Instead I shall just mention the super catchy tune that is ‘The Red Shoes’, the instinctive need to bounce a little when I hear it and the thought I have of how awesome, powerful and emotive Ella’s voice actually is and really always has been. And I might also mention how much of a fan I am and how glad I am she finally released In Tongues after an eternity but I will also mention that it was worth the wait. Well worth the wait. And one more thing. My favourite ever pair of shoes were red. Of course I was going to like this song. (Jo Michelmore) 

by Lorde

This is the start of how it all ends,
They used to shout my name, now they whisper it. 

It wasn’t the song that really got me interested in this late year offering form Lorde, but a text message from Matt that declared his love for the clip. He described it as kind of pointless but beautifully shot and he didn’t care, he loved it all the same. He was right, that’s a perfect description for the clip and even though I replied this way via text, dare I say it publicly? I shall. That was also a perfect description of Lorde herself and I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. ‘Yellow Flicker Beat’ is one in a long line of Lorde songs that sound incredibly beautiful and are recorded perfectly, with enough emotion to keep you listening without questioning. It’s something Lorde does really well and I think I feel about the song exactly the same way Matt did about the clip, maybe it’s full of meaning, maybe it’s completely vacuous, I don’t really care what’s going on, I like it all the same. (Jo Michelmore)

I'll be honest with you... I would listen to and love anything my Lorde delivers unto us. Ya ya ya. My attempts to learn to bust a move with the same carefree spirit and uncaring sense of abandon, such as those in the clip to 'Yellow Flicker Beat' are coming along quite nicely. I will make no apologies to anyone that has to be subjected to these moves in the very near future. I'm totally rocking a Lorde 'tude. Deal with it. #yolo. Or something? Whatever it is the kids are saying these days, I just said it. (Matt Bond)

by Elliphant

Now! Now! Now! Now!

I wouldn’t be so bold as to say that Elliphant has stolen my idea, but it’s no secret that I’ve had grand plans to become the female Eminem. I’m not mad; I’m just disappointed I didn’t pull my finger out soon enough. Now she is targeting my niche market and I’m forced to live life as a corporate zombie. Touché. P.S. I actually really love this song. (Katie Langley)

It’s funny, because before knowing anything about Elliphant, I pictured her to be South African. I think I pictured her as the fourth member of Die Antwoord actually, and everyone knows I have a weird love/hate relationship with them, so I wasn’t really sure whether I liked her or not. One listen to Revolusion and all was ok; it’s smashing in your face beats and slightly threatening sound keeps me totally on my toes, alert but not alarmed, as our very own K-Tizz would say, and I like that in a song. PS She’s from Sweden, by the way. (Jo Michelmore) 

by First Aid Kit

I don't know if I'm scared of dying,
But I'm scared of living too fast, too slow. 

Things that are true... sibling harmonies are always the greatest. First Aid Kit's Johanna and Klara Soderberg are just the latest piece of evidence to support that, with silky smooth that are enough to make you think you've died and gone to vocal harmony heaven. It's a nice place. There's a never ending supply of gelato and a chocolate river and the clouds are fairy floss. You should stop by some time. 'My Silver Lining' will take you there. (Matt Bond) 

And here it is, the first driving song of the countdown. Well, I mean, in all honesty the place I listen to most of my music is in my car, so any of these could be considered driving songs by me, but this is the one that makes me want to get in my car, wind down all the windows and drive as far as my tank of fuel will get me (which at the moment might only be the local supermarket, but that’s another story). It’s those pedal steel guitars and the insistent beats that beg to be taken on the highway and the lyrics that are demanding to be sung while cruising into the sunset and possibly crying about regret and remorse and where you’ve come from and where you are driving to….and I don’t mean the supermarket. (Jo Michelmore)

by Kelis

So you keep one foot out the door,
I know I said leave but, baby, don't go. 

Our introduction to the new Kelis in 2014 came as a bit of a surprise. Long gone are the days of hating you so much right now... AHHH! As are the days of bringing boys to the yard with tasty milk-based beverages. But the last time we heard from our favourite, sometimes afro-adorned beauty, she was dipping her toes in electro-diva territory and pulling that off nicely. So when the Food era Kelis emerged earlier in the year, all soulful and making full use of those powerful pipes, yeah, it was a bit of a surprise. But one listen of 'Rumble' was all it took to make it a welcome one. I'd say she's embracing her roots, but I don't know what they are. So I'll just say... the new Kelis? Let her stick around for another album or two before she takes on another form. She's a lot of fun. (Matt Bond)

At the beginning of the year, it felt like I had waited for-ev-ah to hear something new from Kelis, which I suppose I had, because for-ev-ah can be relative, I guess. Well, I didn’t say literally, at least be thankful for that. Four years is a long time between albums, or should one say between drinks, considering the title of this year’s release; Food. Admittedly, I did find the whole 'food' concept a bit weird, good, but weird. However, this is a song countdown, we can get to the album later in the month. For now, let’s talk ‘Rumble’, which was all exes and currents and go-no-don’t-go, a set of keys I couldn’t get out of my mind and a smooth r’n’b groove that hit all the spots a good r’n’b song should. (Jo Michelmore)  

by Angus and Julia Stone

You said I move so fast,
How could you be with me? 

After some time apart, the Stone siblings reunited in 2014 for arguably their best effort yet, the self-titled third studio album, Angus and Julia Stone. The lead single, ‘Heart Beats Slow’, was a welcome reminder of how perfectly these two vocalists fit together as they traded lines back and forth, as well as singing a healthy chunk of the track at the same time. A relatively small break seems to be exactly what Angus and Julia Stone needed to come back stronger than ever. Here’s hoping they’ll be back with their next effort very soon. (Matt Bond)  

#74. XO
by Beyonce

Baby, love me lights out...

Queen Bey… she could do no wrong in 2014. Amongst the swag-tastic tracks that predominantly made up the album, Beyoncé, ‘XO’ stood out as a shining beacon of pop perfection. Yes, there’s no lines about “dranking” and it’s a pretty straight forward love-y, dove-y ballad, but that doesn’t mean it’s not amazing. It’s totally amazing. Duh. It’s Beyoncé. (Matt Bond)

In a lot of people’s eyes, Beyonce can make no mistakes. I’m not necessarily one of the people who worships her, but I do know she’s someone who interests me, not only as a musician but as an experiment in marketing and the music industry and the media and various other words beginning M. I don't know what words they are, but they may start with M. Regardless of all of that, 'XO' was a delicious little piece of pop, full of light and numerous walls of sound, some kind of fireworks in the air and a joyous little feeling of wanting to dance. It was everything that pop music should be, a little bit magical, nothing more and nothing less and that’s something Beyonce does really well, irrespective of all of those other things beginning with M. (Jo Michelmore)

by Holy Holy

All I want is to hold a little piece,
Of history between my teeth. 

My adoration of Holy Holy is well documented on this here blog and I’m quite happy to admit that I’ve declared Timothy Carroll’s voice one of the finest in Australian music, although my opinion doesn’t really stand for much. Nevertheless, I do have one that's why I write on a music blog. And you’re reading it, so maybe it stands for something. Or not. Shut up. ‘History’ was probably my favourite track from their splendid debut EP ‘The Pacific’ with its dense driving guitars and drums to be tapped to at every single beat. The song only became better and better when I found out it was a chance song, the possibility it may never have existed if the stars weren’t aligned correctly one fateful day, as they recorded it in a moment of inspiration with the drum, lead and rhythm guitar tracks played live to tape in the studio while on a break from working on the rest of the EP. Those are the kind of moments that make the greatest stories in rock n roll history (see what I did there?) and this is the kind of song we get to enjoy when those awesome moments happen. (Jo Michelmore)

by Courtney Barnett

We couldn't be more contrary if we tried...

“I say Hugh, you say Grant, I say pot, you say plant.” Simple and memorable, that’s the Courtney Barnett way. You only really need to hear ‘Pickles From The Jar’ once or twice to know these lyrics off by heart and start singing along with Australia’s bestest good with words person. Short and sweet, that’s the Courtney Barnett way. ‘Pickles From The Jar’ might run for less than three minutes, but the most is made of our short time together. But it’s probably not that short of a time together if you don’t stop listening to it. Why would you want to stop listening to it? (Matt Bond)

I don’t even know what to say about this song, it’s just so darn cute. Is there much more to say than that? I could type all sorts of words about who Courtney Barnett is and some kind of underlying meaning behind the simplicity of ‘Pickles From The Jar’, why it’s so damn catchy and why Courtney Barnett should be much more well-known than she is, but it would take me longer to type and you longer to read than the song actually goes for, so the best thing to do is just suggest you go listen to it again. It’s pretty darn cute. (Jo Michelmore)

by Ayla

 I'm not outta my mind,
But I wish I was. 

It would be easy to forgive you if you thought Ayla was older than her actual age of eighteen. With the storytelling ability and vocal talents of a more… experienced… artist, you can feel a sense of wisdom and quiet reflection emanating from the breakthrough track, ‘Wish I Was’. ‘Experienced’ might not be the best word to use, because Ayla has been busy releasing music and performing since 2011. Let’s just say her sound is far more mature than you’d expect from most young singer-songwriters and you wouldn’t want it any other way. Triple J have gotten firmly behind ‘Wish I Was’, with the track getting a ton of well-deserved airplay. With a new single set to arrive shortly and an EP coming in the New Year, 2015 is Ayla’s for the taking. (Matt Bond)

That lyric up there; “I’m not outta my mind but I wish I was” well this one hits a little close to home doesn’t it? Phew Ayla, why don’t you just get out of my mind, hey? Impressive words from an 18 year old, but I guess we’ve all felt that way at various stages of our lives, it just takes a talented musician like this one to pick them out of our heads and put them in front of our faces. Combine them with the twanging guitars, a bohemian inspired clip and a sweet and unique vocal and you have an artist I’d like to hear a lot more from. (Jo Michelmore)

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