Saturday, 12 December 2015

Top 115 Songs of 2015, #30 - 21

Adele, Okenyo, Grimes + Holy Holy!

by Holy Holy

You cannot ask for love, it may come
If you wait year after year after year.

Not quite psychedelic rock and not fully alt-country, Holy Holy exist in some magical place in-between. We've been following them closely the past couple of years, not close enough to watch them in the privacy of their own home, but still closer than we would the average band. Because watching them in their homes would be totally wrong, right? Ha. Yeah. It's not like they're home much anyway, since they're touring all over the place with one of the best live shows you'll be able to take in. One of the highlights of their sets will be 'You Cannot Call For Love Like A Dog', which unsurprisingly is also the highlight of their debut album, When The Storms Would Come. There's a Dylan-esque sense of wisdom in Timothy Carroll's performance as he becomes your new love Yoda. Like a dog call for love you will not. Oscar Dawson shares the spotlight with guitar work that is pure electric gold and we finally get a guitar solo. Where did the guitar solos go in 2015? Anyway, if you haven't already seen them, you've got to get to a Holy Holy live show as soon as possible. And as luck would have it, you'll be able to see them live all over Australia in January '16. (Matt Bond) 

Well, it’s certainly true, isn’t it? I mean, you could, but pretty sure you wouldn’t be getting anything but a few sniffs and some filthy fur if you do. Gross. I love Holy Holy. I love Timothy Carroll and his shaggy beard and the rock like voice of his that I still call one of the best in this little country of ours. I love Oscar Dawson and that mad hair of his and his mean guitar skills that always shine. Their skill of pulling together a musical tale and turning it into a dramatic story is unparalleled and in this tale, it’s the intense bass that keeps you intrigued. Holy Holy are indeed what their name suggests, something sacred, twice over indeed and they are definitely one of the finest rock acts Australia has to offer. (Jo Michelmore)

by Okenyo

Walk down the path and slide the slope
When this all passes it will be just a story.

There has been some hype over Okenyo the last couple of years and if you haven’t heard anything else yet, one listen to ‘Just A Story’ explains why. A catchy little indie pop tale of a suffocating love, she has a way of making you think it can be about whatever you want it to be; the words so, so true, because yes, everything will be just a story someday. That’s what it a magical song, its honesty is something to be treasured. She’s an artist who I want to invest time in, because I’m so looking forward to the hype becoming tangible, the talk about her becoming plays on all the radio stations, sales all over the internets and gigs in all the venues. I’m just going to keep adding to the hype so all of those things become reality and the times that little blogs wrote about her become just a story someday. (Jo Michelmore)

Ooooh yes. Yep. Ok, yes. So, each time I hear the start of 'Just A Story' I get that same excited feeling I got the first time I heard it, like, seven/eight months ago. This was the first song in 2015 I felt I needed to hear all the time. The tune was stuck in my head forever. It still pops in there. I'll be walking down the street, minding my own business with this weird limp thing I've got going on because my jeans are too tight and I'm too cheap to buy new ones and then lines like, "clinging to a rolling stone, no matter how the weather goes, nobody gotta feel this low," will be all up in my mind space and I've got to find 'Just A Story' on my phone and listen to it another thousand times. You know what? It's worth every single listen. With one song, Okenyo quickly became one of my favourite emerging artists of the year. There's were whispers of a debut EP by the name of Mirage, but so far it has yet to surface. With any luck, we'll get to hear a full collection of tracks like 'Just A Story' in 2016. (Matt Bond)

by Our Man In Berlin

I know you'd like to rule the world
I talk in minutes and that's my curse.

'Spirit Down'? More like 'Spirit Up', am I right? Our Man In Berlin have kept many a spirit on the up and up since their very first single, 'Temaze'. It feels like a million years ago we first heard them, but it was only 2013! I think that feeling of long-term familiarity comes from their music really making you stop and pay attention to it. Even though it feels like the year has flown by, a song like 'Spirit Down' forces you to stop for a minute (or three and a half) and take in everything on offer. And what's on offer is quite excellent. Trevor Shotam's tranquil guitar work as the song begins, alongside Cain Munns' beats and Dan Hawtins' 'soundzz' (their description), could calm the most troubled of minds. Haydn Mansell's voice was made for the music backing him; controlled, but not without getting a glimpse into the person behind it. Our Man In Berlin keep on doing their thing. In this instance I would classify 'doing their thing' as 'being awesome'. (Matt Bond)

No surprises here, we all knew Our Man In Berlin were going to appear a couple of times and here they are again, this time with the title track from their incredible EP released earlier midway through this year. When I first hit play on this one, I can remember trying to close all the tabs on my laptop, there are so many layers of sounds I thought I must have been playing two songs at once. I should have known that’s the way of OMIB, their talent for bringing unexpected sounds together and making them sound superb has been appreciated by us so many times over the years it’s hard to even know how to say how I much I like them anymore without sounding like I’m getting paid. Alas, no pay here, just a whole lot of love, but the music is so much more than enough. (Jo Michelmore)  

by Highasakite

Some were born to be a hunter
Some were born to move away and never come back.

I can remember googling SXSW as it happened last year, wishing I was there, watching the gigs and looking for the names that I would learn to love throughout the year. Even though it took me a couple of minutes to read this Norwegian bands name as Highasakite as opposed to Hig Has A Kit E (well I don’t know Norwegian, it could have been a word that meant something great, or tasty whale or something) their music stood out immediately. I knew they were going to be someone I liked and not just because I have a slightly unhealthy obsession with Norway, it’s royal family and great green landscapes and damn those crazy light up skies, but because of songs like this one. Dreamy, wistful, engaging and truly delightful, sometimes I don’t even know what’s going on, I just know it’s delicious and those soaring vocals give me the goose bumps almost every time. Their unique blend of pop and dance is something I think I will always be a fan of. Also, for those still confused, their name is actually four English words about kites, not Norwegian tasty whales. (Jo Michelmore) 

Norway. Known for its terrifying crime fiction and the music of A-Ha. And a whole lot more I guess, but right now you only need to know that Highasakite are from the city of Oslo in Norway and they are the reason why Norway has just become your new favourite country. You'll only need to listen to 'Keep That Letter Safe' once before you find yourself planning to move away to Norway and never come back. Because it has to be like the song. It has to! And if you think like me, which I'm fairly certain no one does (#notcrazy), you'll think that Norway is a land of lush, green forests that are home to woodland creatures that will befriend you Snow White style and brush your hair and stuff and everyone gets a cottage with a fireplace and some lumberjack delivers the firewood to you because, who are you kidding, you ain't going to be about that labouring life even if you are in beautiful Norway and during the week everything is perfect and you never have to work, you just read books on your front porch and on the weekends you go on grand adventures and you'll never be sad again. Sure, that sentence was ridiculously long, but doesn't 'Keep That Letter Safe' make you think all of those things? Well, spoiler alert, I've been to Norway and while beautiful, it's nothing like that previous dream scenario description and they eat whale there. Despite everything that has come before this sentence, this is a truly beautiful song that makes me dream great, big dreams. (Matt Bond)

by Hopium

Tell everyone I lied to you
When they're the ones you're lying to.

Hopium were a little mystery that came to our attention last year with ‘Cut’, a dramatic declaration of the darkest kind of attention. That was one we couldn’t get enough of and made us wonder who this Hopium was, and if they were that good with a debut, then what could they possibly follow with? Our questions were answered this year with that dreamy(!) track ‘Dreamers’ and then this delicious piece of almost 80s influenced electronica. ‘Right Now’ is all simple hooks and tight production, its lyrics gloriously bold, sometimes slightly unnerving which is something they seem to have a talent of delivering and the clip is an unpretentious masterpiece. Did anyone ever find out who Hopium are? I’ve just been so busy being lost in the sounds I’m not sure I even care. (Jo Michelmore)

#25. HELLO
by Adele

Hello, it's me
I was wondering if after all these years you'd like to meet.

Adele. Is there anything she can't do? She's the biggest artist in the world, with the new album 25 finding its way into more homes around the world than any other album this year. And it's only been out, for what, three weeks? Her music is universal and speaks to essentially every single person on the planet. Adele's instrument, a voice that is hopefully insured for the billion dollars she's expected to be worth before she's 30, can run a full rollercoaster of emotions in the space of one line of lyrics. Sure, it skews itself in a 'you will start ugly crying now' direction more often than not, even on the 'happy' album 25 is supposed to be. But that's why we love it, right? The backlash that comes with the level of popularity Adele is currently enjoying is due any second now (it's possibly already beginning), but you can't tell me you weren't peeing your pants with excitement the first time you heard that beautiful voice return with the simple and totally perfect line, "Hello, it's me." It might not be her best song, but even Adele at her worst would be better than the vast majority of what's floating around there on the charts today. And 'Hello' is hardly Adele at her worst. She doesn't even have a worst. All hail the voice of her generation. (Matt Bond) 

I really, really hope someone, anyone notices what number we placed Adele in this little countdown and I really, really hope no one knows how much this amused both Matt and I when we placed it there. Simple things you know. Adele’s current reign as queen of….everything can’t be denied and although her album sales probably have more to do with an anti-streaming policy than actual interest, she is undoubtedly one very talented lady. However, pretty sure if you’d broken my heart, dear Adele, then after all these years, no, I wouldn’t want to meet to go over anything, because I’m over you and really, it’s just too bad if you’re still wallowing in self-pity. And also, yes, you do always talk about yourself, if you weren’t so self-centred you might find yourself less heartbroken and sad all the time. But you know, beautifully composed song and all. And since Adele can do no wrong right now, I guess no one cares that calling someone a thousand times would probably be considered stalking. Just saying. (Jo Michelmore)

by Ali Barter

Never felt younger now that you're gone
Don't have your second hand smoke corrupting my lungs.

When Matt and I saw Ali Barter at BIGSOUND earlier this year, I can remember telling him that she was not what I expected, but she was really, really, really good. Then we were both distracted by the creature that sat atop her guitar players head, which turned out to be the hair of Oscar Dawson, which also appeared earlier in this list with Holy Holy, but I digress. The same things could be said of the clip to ‘Hypercolour’ which is not what I expected, but really, really, really good. The 80s guitars sitting in juxtaposition with Ali’s quiet but powerful vocal make me wish I knew where that Chinese Restaurant was, because if Ali was playing there at lunch, I’d be there, taking the business cards and ordering the dodgy sweet and sour crispy chicken every lunch time. (Jo Michelmore)

The first version of ‘Hypercolour’ I listened to was the live clip Ali Barter uploaded and I was in LOVE with, well, everything about it. Its sorta passive-aggressive nature really spoke to me. Then I heard the recorded version and loved everything about that one too. A little bit bouncier for sure, but with that same subdued anger. Like the narrator can’t even be bothered with being all cut up about the inspiration behind words like, “never felt lighter, now I can see, don’t have that angel of darkness, clutching on me.” We were lucky enough to have a chat with Ali ahead of her BIGSOUND showcase earlier in the year and she described ‘Hypercolour’ as coming, “from times of madness and despair. Which is always a bit of fun!” She makes it very hard to argue that point when the music’s as fun as ‘Hypercolour’. (Matt Bond)

by Chvrches


So please say you'll meet me
Meet me halfway.

“This is a deceptively sad song.” I told Jo that was going to be my whole review for the third single from Chvrches emotionally charged sophomore album, Every Open Eye. Sure it’s accurate, but it’s also the exact opposite of the complexity that can be found in Lauren Mayberry’s lyrics, so maybe I should put a little bit of effort in and write four to five more sentences. Why is ‘Clearest Blue’ a deceptively sad song? I was so distracted by the energy, the upbeat vibe and Mayberry’s super cute/endearing performance for the first hundred or so listens that I wasn’t paying attention to the track’s actual message. It’s especially hard to think anything other than happy thoughts when that explosive breakdown hits. How could you ever think a song that makes you want to dance like you’ve never danced before could be filled with anything other than hope and joy and dreams and LIFE IS FOR THE LIVING and so on and so forth. Then I got to listen, I dunno, 457. “But it’s not enough, it’s not enough, not enough.” What’s that all about though? What’s not enough, Lauren?! Everything is happy, HAHAHA, right? Why are you making me question things now? There’s just too many questions. When you say, “tell me, tell me you’ll meet me, tell me, tell me you’ll keep me, tell me, tell me you’ll meet me, will you meet me more than halfway?” is that more of a like desperate pleading or just a hopeful wish for the future? Urgh… so good. So happy. So sad. So everything. (Matt Bond)

This is exactly everything I love about Chvrches. It’s everything I love about all the music I love the most, but especially everything I love about Chvrches. You can dance, you can jump, you can call them electronica, you can call them simple pop, you can say they sound like a bazillion others or they sound just like their first album, or even worse than their first, or better, or you can whinge about Lauren Mayberry having an actual opinion because she’s a girl and how dare girls have an opinion, or you can talk about how poor Iain Cook and Martin Doherty don’t get enough attention because Lauren is an attention seeking whore, but if you think any of those things, you can fuck right off actually. Because while the people thinking those things have been busy being annoying, Chvrhces have been busy been writing music that can either make you throw your head back and dance like everyone is watching, or crouch on the floor with tears in your eyes, because words like this “If I ever try to push away, you can just keep me, tell me tell me you’ll keep me….please say you’ll meet me halfway” make me wonder how they manage to turn the very worst of emotions into some of the very best. I’m not sure, but it’s everything I love about them. (Jo Michelmore)

by Grimes


If you don't need me
Just let me go.

While it’s likely untrue, there’s always going to be a part of me that believes Grimes created ‘Flesh Without Blood’ as the perfect fuck you to all of her too cool for school “fans” that couldn’t handle the deliciousness of last year’s ‘Go’. *whinge* Grimes sold out *ugly cry* sah mainstream. ‘Go’ was hardly bubblegum, but if it was the cause of some millennials’ sadness then ‘Flesh Without Blood’ must have given them a heart attack. It’s one of the best pop songs of the year, or any year. Sugary sweet vocals and music that will take you back to the glorious days of 90s alt-pop. ‘Flesh Without Blood’ might not be exactly the same as what Grimes has released in the past, but why would you want it to be? YouTube commenters have jumped on board this time around, with a much more positive reception to the lead single from Art Angels. As we all know, the YouTube comments section can make or break an artist and is the go-to place for intelligent discussion about the musics and cats and stuff. (Matt Bond)

#21. DRIVE
by Ainslie Wills

I don't want to fight you in my mind
So many things I hide behind.

I’m a bad person. Because Ainslie Wills has been releasing all of this amazing work for some time now and I’ve been sweating up here in Brisbane without her music in my life. Someone should have told me about her sooner. Why didn’t any of you tell me about her? Because Wills is all kinds of awesome. A confident songwriter with a voice to match, her songs make you feel perfectly at ease. I love the opening of the song. “I don’t want to fight you in my mind, so many things I hide behind.” With that… driving… beat behind it, you feel ready to get on out there and take on whatever life has to throw at you. ‘Drive’ soars high and dips low, always looking ahead to the next great moment of the song that will steal your heart and navigate the deepest parts of your mind. It’s catchy and thoughtful pop, charming in every single way. I’m a bad person for not knowing of Ainslie Wills before I heard ‘Drive’. But I’ll be making amends for this and staying up to date with anything new she has coming our way from here on in. (Matt Bond)

People seem to have been talking about Ainslie Wills for a long time, before I had ever bothered to hit play on any songs, because whenever I heard her name I thought of Wesley Willis, who is, shall we say, an interesting musician who sang songs in the late 90s about rock and roll McDonald's and whipping Spiderman's ass, amongst other things. You can google that yourself should you be inclined. I also once knew a large man called Ainsley, who was a character with bad dress sense, a mean disposition and no manners. This is obviously an indication of my subconscious and a troubled singer and a man I once knew who shared a similar name have absolutely nothing to do with the Ainslie Wills we speak of here; her with the magnificent voice and wonderful layered melodies and pure pop magic that she has created in ‘Drive’. I wish I'd got over my subconscious and investigated this Ainslie earlier. She seems to be exactly as the title suggests; a dynamic, motivating force that moves in solid ways and makes me want to forget that large man from my past who clearly doesn’t deserve to share a name with someone so brilliant. (Jo Michelmore)

Two days left to go... and we're heading into Top 20 territory!

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