Thursday, 3 December 2015

Top 115 Songs of 2015, #100 - 91

MKO SUN, Big Scary, Alabama Shakes + FKA Twigs!

by Mansionair

Come and keep the dialogue
Will it ever be enough?

It was devastating to hear about Snakadaktal's split last year. Easing that pain was an introduction to the music of Mansionair, who create the same kind of perfectly chilled and atmospheric indie tunes that make you want to get in your car, drive to the beach and watch the waves rolling on in. Unless you live across the road from the beach and you can just walk over. Good for you. 'Speak Easy' won the Sydney trio a ton of fans the world over, with a lot of love coming from punters that got to see Mansionair supporting Chvrches on their recent European tour. Not a bad gig at all, I'd say. (Matt Bond)

This one is one of those ones that hit you right at the very beginning. Maybe it’s just me, but those first sounds make me wonder what’s coming and those words are far too relatable to let this one pass by. The massive chorus sits perfectly side by side each restrained verse and I kind of wonder how an act can come up with a song that sounds so natural, like they’ve been playing together for a hundred years. Maybe a hundred is an exaggeration. But about a hundred years is how long I could listen to these kinds of tunes. Looking forward to following Mansionair’s career for the next hundred. Maybe a hundred is an exaggeration. (Jo Michelmore)

by Alabama Shakes

Why can't I catch my breath?
I'm gonna work myself to death.

I love this band. They’re not one of the ones that I scream from the rooftops about, but they are one that I am always excited about, one that make me rush to download whatever it is they’ve released, one that I wait for the next project from, one that make me stop in my tracks whenever I hear their incredible sounds. They are a band that defy the norms of the craziness that the music industry seems to be, because they just play their rocky blues in the heartfelt way rocky blues should be played and they keep on doing their thing (not literally) quietly, while the crazy world of all the others rushes by them. I love them because they are here for the music. How do I know that? There’s only one way to tell; press play. (Jo Michelmore)

Alabama Shakes launched their second LP Sound and Colour with their funkiest jam yet, 'Don't Wanna Fight'. It would take the album straight to the top of the US Billboard 200 and it only takes one listen to understand why. Brittany Howard kills it with a vocal performance that falls somewhere between Stevie Wonder, Erykah Badu and latter-day Prince. But we already knew Howard had one of the best voices in the business going in, right? While listing off all the reasons she doesn't believe she can fight anymore, it's the performance from Howard and the rest of Alabama Shakes that shows they've still got a few more rounds in them. (Matt Bond)

by Bright Spark

All around
They're all the same and we've got no one to trust.

Stepping into the solo spotlight in 2015 was Melbourne's Steven Clifford. Best known for his work as the front for The Hello Morning, he emerged under the moniker Bright Spark and released a couple of tracks he collaborated on with producer Oscar Dawson. Dawson's done wonders with artists like Holy Holy and Ali Barter over the past couple of years and he continues the trend with Bright Spark. 'Head In The Sand' is like an Australian reinvention of that classic Americana sound and there isn't a better dude for the job than Steven Clifford. We were only treated to two tracks this year from Bright Spark. Hopefully there'll be a whole lot more coming soon. (Matt Bond)

So this guy that is Bright Spark has one of my very favourite voices in all of Australian music. Seriously. You know those people that just have voices made for music? He has it. Who is he? Steven Clifford, who also happens to be the vocalist for a band I fell in love with a couple of years ago; The Hello Morning. And ever since I found them, I have declared Mr Clifford to have the voice of a gravelly voiced angel. With his solo project, Bright Spark, he explores a slightly lighter side to his musical journey but that voice is what holds it all together. Just awesome and yep, still one of my favourites in all of this big country of ours. (Jo Michelmore)

by Asta ft. Allday

Been taking my time not thinking about you
Just walking my mind, walking my mind.

Now, I don’t mean to turn this all around and focus on us for a minute, but you know what makes me happy about this little blog of ours? The teeny tiny part we’ve played in hearing artists like Asta, whether that is through an email we’ve received or (more often than not) trawling the internets in search of magic, and then writing about them and therefore making other people hear them too. Asta was always going to be popular, that voice of hers was destined for pop greatness and her ability to make stand out super catchy tracks like ‘Dynamite’ means she has a long, fabulous career ahead of her. When this blog is long gone, it’ll be nice to leave a little electronic footprint of loving artists like Asta along the way. (Jo Michelmore)

Love a bit of Asta. And I say a bit, because it feels like 'Dynamite' came out seventy-five years ago (March 2015) and I'm dying to hear more from her and I know she's been busy recording new material but I want to hear it nowww. What? I'm a product of the world we live in now and it's not my fault I'm impatient. Part of the problem is, Asta's music is really, really good. Music like 'Dynamite'. And I want to hear more music like 'Dynamite' and more music from Asta. Now. Please? At least I'm polite, jerks. (Matt Bond)

#96. FIGURE 8
by FKA Twigs

You're so fucking fake that it's hurting me
I'm just jealous cause you're more alive than what I'll ever be.

I love songs that make me slightly uncomfortable, that make me want to explore them and figure them out like a good little mystery. FKA Twigs ‘Figure 8’ was one that required commitment, but that’s kind of what I liked about it, it’s sparse production and un-natural twists and turns made it one I liked to get inside and claw my way out of, not what I was expecting from her but not surprising either. She’s one of those artists who is always going to get my attention with tracks like this and moves like that, because I always like the artists who push the boundaries, but only just slightly.  (Jo Michelmore)

FKA Twigs might get written off for being a bit of a weirdo, but who would she be if not the fabulous weirdo she is? She has a unique way of taking conventional R'n'B and Hip Hop motifs and masking them behind gritty and dark beats of a more trip-hop design and this shines through on 'Figure 8'. Take away the distortion and all of the electronic bells and whistles and focus on Twigs' vocal lines. Gorgeous. But what's the fun in being conventional? FKA Twigs is certainly not looking for any association with the word. I'm sure her fans are most appreciative. (Matt Bond)

by Mio ft. Erik Lindestad

Take me to the sea let me rest my head
All my burdens lifted or so I, so I pretend.

There are songs that make you stand up and dance and there are songs that make you sit goddamn down and listen. ‘Back To You’ sits in the latter camp; it is understated and delicate and somehow strong and forthright in the same few minutes. Its synths are subtle but its vocals are strong and its production is absolutely spot on. There are songs that make you sit down and listen and then there are songs that make you get up and hit repeat, because a couple of minutes of this much goodness is nowhere near enough. (Jo Michelmore)

by Zella Day

Magnetic everything about you
You really got me now.

I can't stand the video for this song. Had to get that out early. But the song, oh... the song. It really lives up to its name. Confident, catchy and chock full of repeat value. Zella Day is still building her pop profile and gems like this are going to go a long way in establishing the Arizona artist as one of the next big, bright and young things out there. (Matt Bond) 

If you’re like a modern day cowgirl and you wear backless tops and you meet a modern day cowboy with hair blowing in the wind and a bare chest, riding a white horse through the desert, beware that A) the horse he is riding will be tired and thirsty and want to drink from your bathtub later on, which is gross and B) tell your cowboy friend to leave his hat on. He’s more attractive with headwear. I’ve got absolutely no idea what’s going on in this film clip, but one thing is for sure, if you wear that few clothes in the desert, you’re likely to get sunburnt. Good song though. (Jo Michelmore) 

by Big Scary

Always hoping that you combat distraction
So I can distract you.

After spending last year as a #1 Dad, Tom Iansek got the band back together in 2015. And by band, I mean he grabbed Big Scary's other half, Jo Syme and the two got started on making people smile and love their lives and this all resulted in 'Organism'. Which totally made people smile and love their lives. Not only the song, but the clip too. Pay close attention to the stellar choreography. So stellar. While I can't say for sure, my poor attempts at research (aka Facebook stalking) have led me to conclude that Big Scary will be releasing a new album in 2016. If it's in line with 'Organism', I'm already on board. (Matt Bond)

by Quintessential Doll

Saccharine, does the sweetness make you sick
I'm so tired of all the lies, of all the lies.

The orchestral sounds in this track by Brisbane’s Quintessential Doll are really what make it everything it is, because there’s always something effective about placing sounds together that don’t naturally seem like they’ll fit. Like salt and caramel. Who would have thought? Steph Lindsell, that’s who. Great production, some interesting lyrical themes and a slightly spooky film clip make Q Doll one to watch in 2016. (Jo Michelmore)

Brisbane's Steph Linsdell (the Quintessential Doll herself) delivered the good on more than one occasion this year. First there was her collaboration with Clio Em, 'Thunder Gods' that we couldn't get enough of and then along came her rework of 'Saccharine'. It's one mighty fine slice of dark electronic pop. If it was a cake, it would be a black forest cake. Why? Um... because it's dark and sweet and delicious and because it just is. It's also criminally under-appreciated in the cake world and Quintessential Doll is in the same position in the music world. Extraordinary talent and a hard work ethic will make sure that it's only a matter of when, not if, for Quintessential Doll. (Matt Bond)


Let these bleeding, crying eyes
Show the pain I keep inside.

Once upon a time (in the years 2013 and 2014), I loved this Brisbane group called MKO. Hannah Macklin, Steele Chabau and Myka Wallace had it going on with breezy, electronic numbers dripping in soul. Macklin's voice was most pleasing to the ear. Then, 2015 came along and MKO decided to become MKO SUN. MKO SUN decided to say, "fuck it, let's be superstars!" They leveled up to 99 and started slaying left, right and centre. First would come 'Black Seaweed'. It is, how does one say, all kinds of amazing? Yes. Yes that's it. There's nothing else quite like it out there in the music landscape. If you think the MKO/MKO SUN story is good, wait until you hear the music. Words do not do its wonders justice. (Matt Bond) 

MKO SUN is someone from our hometown that we’ve loved for a while and I’ve liked pretty much everything she’s been playing with over the last few years, but this track is the one that really made me think “I knew it! I knew that girl was capable of greatness!” The orchestral arrangements, the strings and the chorus of melodies offering a safe place for that incredible vocal of Hannah Macklin create a beautiful piece of experimental pop slash part 90s r’n’b slash electronica slash amazingness. And I haven’t even mentioned the delightfully weird clip. Amazingness. All of it. This girl is capable of so much greatness and this is still only the beginning. (Jo Michelmore)

*pew pew* We're back again tomorrow to send you into the weekend with #90 - #81! *pew pew*

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