Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Top 115 Songs of 2015, #60 - 51

Ayla, Machine Age, Passerine + Stonefox!

by The Kite String Tangle ft. Tiana Khasi

And something has changed for me
I need you to know that I'm sorry.

When I first heard the vocal duel between Tiana Khasi and Danny Harley, who is TKST, I was all like yay and whoa, so nice, the understated power of these two is phenomenal and that line at the beginning about how “I realised now that I was stone cold and you had a heart of gold” is so, so good. Then I saw the clip and I’m going to be honest, I was all like WTF? But I do that a lot, so that’s no surprise. What else is no surprise are the beautiful harmonies and quick fire beats that hold this one together, because they are something TKST is an expert at. (Jo Michelmore)

#59. ARROW
by Stonefox

I'll be there, the light of the sun
Always falling in love.

Dreamy, chilled out pop at it's very best, 'Arrow' was the perfect song in 2015 if you needed to maintain a sense of calm. I don't know about you, but sometimes I need a reminder to calm my farm and 'Arrow' became a go to song quite a few times this year. The minimal production, primarily build on simple beats, guitar and the tranquil voices of Tim Carroll, Jenna Russo and Monica Spasaro will leave you shaking your head (in a cool and calm manner) in disbelief at just how good Stonefox are when they're only just kicking off their career. We try to not make comparisons and fail miserably at it, but I don't think there's anything wrong in saying that Stonefox could be Australia's answer to The xx. (Matt Bond) 

by Bec Sandridge

Because I feel the little stains
In my heart, in my hands.

Bec Sandridge has one of those voices that make you question time and space and re-incarnation and all that shit, because you gotta wonder if she was alive another time as well, that voice is something that could sit in some impressive punk from the 70s, or some new wave from the 80s or some grunge from the 90s or something from somewhere else anyway. What I’m saying is, this part pop, part synths, part guitars, part whatever else is going on is totally now, but that voice is totally so many other things I’m not sure how she holds it all together but she does it really well. I don’t know if I’m getting philosophical or I just like music so let’s just stick with the music bit. Ms Sandridge is really good. (Jo Michelmore)

Bec Sandridge was like an artist reborn and reinvigorated upon the release of 'In The Fog, In The Flame'. Don't get me wrong, I've loved her past releases, but this is the sound of an artist that is finding her place in the music landscape. And it's a place from where you'd rather be. There's just the right amount of restraint in the vocals that draws you right in, leaving you hanging on each and every word. Little nods in the music to days gone by will leave you with a sense of nostalgia and a big smile on your face. You'll also get that feeling that starts in your toes and works its way up your body, leaving you with little choice but to shake it out. For someone that describes her music as 'Spaghetti Disco Pop', I don't think Bec Sandridge will mind. Why would she? She's the one inviting you to the party. You won't want to miss it. (Matt Bond)

by Machine Age

You left your heart in the bed of a foreign lover
Oh and I had woken from the longest sleep.

Do you suffer from a bad case of the ice-cold heart? You dooo? I have just the song that you need to melt that away. It's tailor-made to wear down those built in resistances owing to years of bitter disappointments. 'Chivarly' is the name of the track, Machine Age the artist. The project of Cairns' Adrian Mauro (now Brisbane based), Machine Age's takes experimental rock, throws in some highly romantic lyrics and makes you believe in life after love in ways that Cher only wishes she could. I don't know a great deal about Machine Age, but I was lucky enough to see him at BIGSOUND Live in September. 'Chivalry' was a highlight of not only his set, but the entire festival. Which makes it only too easy to put Machine Age into the 'Artist To Watch Very Closely In 2016' category. (Matt Bond) 

When I first heard the name Machine Age, I expected to be listening to some kind of industrial style metal, something with lots of offensive guitars and no particular rhythm and something that kind of hurts my ears but in the right setting is also kind of awesome. When I first heard ‘Chivalry’ what I got was this fabulously weird mix of folk and electronic beats, something with nothing offensive at all and so much rhythm and something that sat itself comfortably in my ears, nothing that hurt at all. The point here is that while I don’t mind industrial metal every now and then, I think I like Machine Age better. (Jo Michelmore)

#56. SINKS
by Little May

Instead I feel the weight of your stone blooded heart
See how it sinks.

Anyone who has read more than one or two of our words this year is going to already have guessed that Little May were going to make an appearance soon enough. Hell, anyone who has stood still next to me long enough this year is going to know that, because if I haven’t been humming along to a number of songs from their incredible debut album For The Company, then I would have been chatting about them in some way or another. Take a listen to ‘Sinks’ and it’s easy to see why. The harmonies are unparalleled, the unassuming chords and subtle beats draw you close and make you listen, like Liz Drummond is singing about you and only you. It is truly gorgeous, which is something their entire album was and I should stop writing now because I’m going to run out of complimentary words to say when they re-appear later on. Oops, spoiler alert! Hello, there are another fifty-five songs to go. Of course we’re going to see them again. Until next time. (Jo Michelmore)

It was only a matter of time before our favourite trio in all of the land/s made an appearance and their first in our 2015 end of year festivities is with the stunning 'Sinks'. The eighth track on Little May's debut album, For The Company, 'Sinks' lives up to its title with music that actually sounds like how it would feel to slowly drop to the bottom of the ocean. How do you even do that? Is this some kind of sorcery? Whatever it is, I'm all for it. Liz Drummond takes the vocal lead for the majority of this one, with Hannah Field making her presence felt when the track shifts gears for the bridge. Those magical Little May harmonies make an appearance, with Drummond, Field and Annie Hamilton coming together in various combos throughout. We've never been able to get enough of those harmonies. I don't see that changing anytime soon. Lyrically, you're in for a bit of a good 'ole heartbreak. But if you weren't expecting that you must be new to the Little May experience. Welcome. You're going to love all that's to come. And we'll be seeing more from these three talented performers sooner or later in this here countdown. (Matt Bond)

by The Paper Kites

Cause time is just a remedy
Covered in disguise.

It's the oldest story in the book. Wannabe writer that needs a haircut is too afraid to tell the pretty girl that's too good for him that he loves her. He shows up at a gig and she's all like, "what are you even doing here? Do you even like the musics?" And he's all like, "whatever, it's people that I hate." And then a bouncer shows up and is like, "get out, m8 or I'll bash ya." A lot of stuff happens after this and it ends with the guy unrealistically getting the girl. But yeah, oldest story in the book and The Paper Kites decided to bring that story to life in the video for 'Electric Indigo'. Which is a beauty of a track, so don't let my description of the video put you off. Lyrically, the track is one of my favourites of the year. The words under the video above are just so perfect, you wonder how no one has found them before. The Paper Kites show no signs of discontinuing their ability to astound and amaze. (Matt Bond) 

If I was that guy in the clip to ‘Electric Indigo’, I’d probably be annoyed that someone said to me, “you don’t even like music” and I’d probably leave the venue too if the regime of “dance or go” was upheld so strictly at said venue. But instead of getting out the doors, then regretting my decision and making a desperate attempt to get back in, I’d probably go home and sit alone on my couch with a cup of tea and be generally depressed about all the times I chose personal freedom over dance. What’s wrong with me? Nothing is wrong when I hear the sweet sounds of The Paper Kites, who always seem to have a way with words and instruments that make everything seem so dreamlike. The swing of ‘Electric Indigo’ is ethereal and almost fragile and certainly makes one wish their life was more like a film clip than words on a laptop. Except for that guy's hair. That can stay in music clip world, thanks. (Jo Michelmore) 

by Holly Who

Well I've been trying to fight the feeling that you're everything I needed and more
Cause once you came along here I was scared I would never ever close that door.

Yes yes and yes. You want me to say more? Um, yes again. They are the words that just keep being said over and over again in my mind when the name Holly Who. They are soul, they are rock, they are blues, they are pop and they are all round fabulous. And yes. Yes like Aretha doing ‘Respect’ in a sequined dress sometime in the 70s. Yes like that 90s power suit of Madonna’s in ‘Express Yourself’. Yes like the giant shoes of The Vengaboys. Yes like wrinkly old Keith Richards pickled rock face. Yes like Adele’s actual cockney accent. All of those yes’s and so many more. Holly Who. Yes. (Jo Michelmore)

A good time is guaranteed if Holly Who are involved. The Newcastle-based collective, led by sisters Holly and Jessica Clayton, know how to get the party started with the very best in throwback rock and roll. 'Gimme Gimme' isn't just a step back in time though. The Clayton's keep it fresh in the vocal department with soulful vocals that pack a modern punch. The band deliver funk-infused guitar lines against percussion that will make dancing an unavoidable prospect. Why fight the inevitable, right? There's something about hearing a song that automatically puts a big smile on your face that... well, it just puts a big smile on your face. And there's nothing wrong with a song that aims to bring a bit of joy into the world. Nothing at all. Holly Who love what they do and we love them for it. Here's to hearing more of this goodness in 2016. (Matt Bond)

by Ayla

Now I'm waiting all alone
Waiting for the one
I wish he'd come.

One of Australia's most intriguing emerging artists, Ayla made a huge impact in 2015 with tracks that would make up debut EP, When the World Ends. 'Waiting' found itself the EP's lead single, finding itself on high rotation on triple J and winning hearts the world over. It was the perfect follow up to 2014's breakthrough single 'Wish I Was' and as classy as it is catchy. 'Waiting' will lodge itself in your head, it'll get those feet tapping along with the percussion and it will leave you wanting to hear more from this Sunshine Coast talent. We got to hear it live at BIGSOUND and the response from the crowd was epic. If you get a chance to see Ayla live soon, don't even think twice about it. Go. Go now. Finish reading the rest of this first. Then go. (Matt Bond)

I’m admittedly getting a little tired now, but I’m halfway through a list of more than a hundred songs, so excuse my minor word exhaustion right now. The thing is, I read a comment on the youtubes about this clip and I liked it because it was such a sideways compliment which is something I’d put my foot in my mouth and say anyway. It said something about Ayla sounding like a mixture of Florence and Lorde, but she still has her own sound as well. You can go and find it if you want the exact words, but the point is, that’s exactly what Ayla sounds like; the power of Florence, the slight accent of Lorde, the haunting sounds build throughout but it's all the soul of Ayla and all of those things are stunning. (Jo Michelmore)

by Hey Lady!

If I stand here
Will I ever leave this town?

Have I ever told the story of Matt and I receiving an email titled “Hey Lady!” and me hoping it was merely a new way for a PR company to get our attention via the hundreds of emails we get every week? Alas, it wasn’t a PR stunt, but now that I know them, I'm kind of glad it wasn't. It was the name of a band that, although I have heard very little of, yet, have become one of my favourites. The rock is undeniable, the blues are unimaginably good, those crunchy guitars are absolutely everything and the drums are all consuming. This is the kind of rock I could listen to forever. While Matt and I have spent fair chunk of time over the last couple of years lamenting the loss of some of our fave girl rockers, bands like Hey Lady are keeping our hopes up for the future of incredible, filthy, awesome rock. (Jo Michelmore)  

Jess Moxey and Stef Threadgate, we are not worthy. You spoil us with your rocking greatness. You make us want to get dressed up all in black, find the nearest dive bar, consume all of the beverages and dance on tables. We should be worshiping at a totally not creepy alter with little pictures of you and candles and lace cloths that I hope don't catch fire from the candles. But if they do burn the place down, let 'Routine' play as the fire rages. The blazing guitars will be the perfect accompaniment. Newcastle's finest two-piece continues to deliver the goods. Hey Lady!, we are indeed not worthy. (Matt Bond) 

by Passerine

Couldn't feel what I wanted to feel
Could you sense it?

We have a lot of time for Passerine. All the time in the world. Their tunes have been consistently jump around and dance it out worthy, they pull off Fleetwood Mac covers and go out of their way to bring a bit of fun into their performances. There's a lot to like about the Melbourne trio. We've come to expect disco-inspired electronic jams from them over the past couple of years and they work wonders with that sound, but then 'Set Me Alight' came out and changed up everything we thought we knew about Passerine. It had a darker edge and a greater sense of mystery. Like the best 90s electronic releases, there's something a little dangerous lurking beneath the surface. But you wouldn't have it any other way and you're going to dance to it anyway. As I said, I love Passerine's sound and all of their releases to date. But there's something about 'Set Me Alight' that has kept me coming back for more and more since it came out early in the year. One listen and you'll have it on repeat too. (Matt Bond)

Passerine have already made an appearance on this little countdown way back in the 100s, featuring with Dolo Jones, but that thing I said earlier about people making an appearance twice in our (relatively) short list of songs meaning we like them lots? Well, here we go again, we like Passerine lots. And lots. Why? Because Pheobe, Alex and Ben manage to create such tight beats, the ever transcendent synths taking their listeners through pop to disco to house to dance to electro to pop again and the speedy beats and feeling of controlled mania on ‘Set Me Alight’ is a little too addictive to tear oneself away from. They are world class sounds from a trio destined for greatness. What am I talking about? They’re already great, it’s just a matter more and more people knowing how great they are. (Jo Michelmore)

Can you believe we've gotten through 65 songs already? Well, we can't... but look at us go! Get excited because it's Top 50 time from tomorrow. See you then!

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