Thursday, 8 December 2016

Top 116 Songs of 2016, #50 - 41

by Olympia

The world keeps turning, safe place to fall
Hugging your shadows, up on the wall. 

While watching the music video for 'Smoke Signals', you'll probably convince yourself you're watching a famous artist from the 80s named Olympia who was obviously a huge star throughout that decade. Especially in Europe. It's all just a little bit fabulous and when I say a little bit, I mean a lot. The year is 2016 though and Olympia is well on her way to becoming a huge star throughout the world with songs like 'Smoke Signals' from her album Self Talk. 'Smoke Signals' the song is as hypnotic as the video that goes with it. One listen and you're hooked. It's like musical crack or the musical equivalent of Pringles. Once you pop, you can't stop... and this track sits alongside the very finest of Australian pop released in 2016. Olympia should throw her hat in the ring for Eurovision 2017. Those Europeans are going to love her. (Matt Bond

by Miami

And I lost you somewhere
Guess I didn't have a clue. 

Miami are like sunshine on a cloudy day and they will make your soul (make your soul) trip, trip, trip away. Well, it's true. The duo, comprised of Oliver Harlan and Louis Genet, are obviously having a lot of fun making the musics and on a song like 'Happier', that sense of fun is going to be transferred to you. You can't fight it and why would you want to? It's a sunny electronic jam that will make you want to dance. This isn't your standard dance-y pop number though and the story isn't as happy as the title would suggest, but that doesn't mean YOU won't be happy listening to it. In fact, it's going to make your day a whole lot happier. Harlan and Genet even got their dads to star in the video with them and that's just ace. How this track didn't blow up is beyond me, but it's made my 2016 all the better. (Matt Bond)

So I google the words Miami and Happier and I find a whole lot of links telling me the happiest and unhappiest cities to work in, if you happen to be in the US. Not quite what I was looking for, but Miami is the happiest, in case you wanted to know. Perhaps in Florida they like to play pseudo disco songs and people wearing ill fitting suits dance awkwardly to their jobs in offices. Yes? No? I don't know. I didn't click on the links. Good song but. (Jo Michelmore 

by MKO Sun

My heart will race, my body will sweat
My back and my face and my skin is wet. 

On a side note, I was lucky enough to see Hannah Macklin at a jazz club recently, singing some beautiful classic jazz numbers, funnily enough. That night reminded me of just what an awesome vocalist she is, and including her project MKO Sun and their track 'Boom Pow' in our little countdown is another friendly reminder of that. Also, it makes me wish it was like, the mid 00s, and that wasn't a time I reminisce about often, so it's a pretty special song that makes me want to wear a velour tracksuit and text someone in under 30 characters with my blue Nokia again. They were good times. What a good song. (Jo Michelmore)

So there was some incredibly exciting news that came out on December 3, with MKO Sun's Hannah Macklin awarded the Grant McLennan Fellowship for this year! As part of fellowship, Macklin will get to travel to New York to focus on writing some new material and as if that's not going to lead to future brilliance from Macklin and MKO Sun. NYC and MKO. That's a combination so obviously full of win and we can't wait to hear what comes from it. But how's about MKO Sun's 2016 release, 'Boom Pow'. I think we can all agree it's crazy good, capturing an energy and vibe somewhere between early M.I.A and Sleigh Bells and you know what? That's a pretty fucking cool place to be. I have a feeling that the song was produced for a campaign to get people active and if my memory's correct, MKO Sun knocked that objective out of the park because who wouldn't want to bust a move to 'Boom Pow'? More of this super soon please! (Matt Bond)

by Emily Wurramara

I would have crossed the Pacific Ocean
I would have swim all them seas to see you smile, to see you happy. 

My mighty heart is breaking and it's all because of the devastatingly gorgeous 'Blue Moon, Black Sea'. It's amazing the impact a relatively simple piano line can have, but when Emily Wurramara is telling her story over it with a voice as perfect as it is broken, of course it's going to be amazing. Wurramara has been a huge part of our 2016 soundtrack, with songs from her debut EP Black Smoke earning more plays than we could count. She's only in the early days of her career, but already expertly crafting tracks like 'Blue Moon, Black Sea' that hit you right in the chest and play over and over in your brain. You can feel the pain in lines like, "it was hard to swim, but I drowned." But it's a pain you're more than willing to bear if you get to listen to it one more time. (Matt Bond)  

Matt introduced me to the work of Emily Wurramara earlier this year and now, close to the end of 2016, I'm sure she was the greatest of my new favourites of my year. We saw her at BIGSOUND and were both absolutely blown away, only adding to the fan I had already become with a few listens of her tracks. Her humility shone through the entire performance as it does through her music and her sense of appreciation for her audience was refreshing and so very delightful. 'Black Moon, Blue Sea' is a special song that manages to transport me to places I've never been and sights I've never seen, but the need to be there is strong from the very first note. This isn't her only entrant in our countdown (spoiler alert!) and the reason for that is that her talent is immeasurable. None of our numbers can describe that. (Jo Michelmore

by Ali Barter

Give us a smile, baby
You should be happy. 

The most interesting indication as to why a song like this exists in 2016 is the fact that whether she only said it once or had to repeat herself, I constantly read about Ali Barter describing just what this song was about; the fact that it is, in fact, a rock track about who and what women are meant to be and not what parts women have. Artists like Ali Barter are the ones who are needed in some of these slightly hopeless times and songs like 'Girlie Bits' make those times so bearable. Who run the world? Ali Barter. (Jo Michelmore)

Read this. Listen to 'Girlie Bits'. And celebrate Ali Barter as the badass that she is. Because she's totally right, it is about fucking time we gave female musicians the credit they deserve. 'Girlie Bits' is a modern reinvention of the 90s pop-rock sound from the latter half of that decade and it sound oh so good. It's got the right amount of attitude, it's catchy and it's super smart. The sugar and spice and all things nice delivery of, "give us a smile, baby, act like a real lady," can barely mask the disgust. And why should Barter have to? In her Junkee article, Barter asks the question, "How will young girls learn that they are valued as artists, and that they have permission not only to sing, but to play guitar, to play drums, to play whatever they want, and make whatever music they want, if they can't learn about the long and proud history of the women who came before them?" I hope we'll see changes to the way music's history is delivered to students, but it's awesome to see that for right now, artists like Ali Barter are giving young girls exactly the type of role models they need in the music industry. (Matt Bond

by Violent Soho

Killjoy, you're like a rhinestone pick up line
My drunk guitar's more fun than you'll ever be. 

"My drunk guitar's more fun than you'll ever be". Blessing us with one of my favourite lyrics of the year, 'Viceroy' was so 90s grungy it almost hurt when it was released early in the year. Grunge used to literally hurt, with all that jumping and bashing into each other in mosh pits back in the day, don't you know. If you left a gig without a bruise or two, you didn't gig right. I'm not so keen for the bruises these days, but Violent Soho certainly make reminiscing about them fun. (Jo Michelmore) 

by Megan Washington or maybe just Washington

I do a deal with the devil
To get on your spirit level. 

I love the slow burn that comes with so many of Megan Washington’s songs. When you first hear them, songs like ‘Saint Lo’, you know you like it from the start. That serene voice, the layered atmosphere created by the music and attention grabbing lines about making deals with the devil. But you learn to love Washington’s songs over repeated listens. And you never stop loving them just that little bit more with each listen. This has never been truer than on ‘Saint Lo’, a track that is so well crafted, produced, written and performed, that still manages to surprise you after you’ve listened to it many, many times. This is only the first track of what should be a killer new era for Megan Washington. I’ll just be over here waiting patiently to hear what comes next. I also can't keep up with whether or not Megan's going by Megan Washington or just Washington as her artist moniker at the moment. It's not that big a deal, they're one and the same... would like to know all the same. Okay, bye. (Matt Bond)

by Two People 

Start looking
I need a house, not a heart. 

I so love an artist that has named themselves for exactly who they are. Two People, and electronic act from Melbourne are exactly as they should be; two people. If everyone did this it would make for such an easy search for new music. "Three girls in bad clothing singing vacuous pop" - see, not such a fan. "Four guys in ripped jeans rocking" - I might give that one a chance. "Snakadaktal" - delicious or dinosaur? I'm really not sure. "Two People" - perfect. 'Fading' is exactly what Phoebe Lou and Joey Clough's single is too; subtle, simply complex and slightly on the verge of fading the entire way through, it's perfect chill-tronica. Ooh, did I just make up a new genre? How good. (Jo Michelmore) 

by Gang of Youths 

You're so much braver than I
And so much brighter. 

No one makes the heaviest of subject material sound as heart-warming as the Gang of Youths. It’s a gift and you can’t help but whisper a little thank you to the gods of music whenever you hear one of their songs. Making waves with their ground breaking debut The Positions last year, the Sydney five-piece could have taken all the time they wanted to produce a follow up, but showed no signs of resting on their laurels with the release of the Let Me Be Clear EP in 2016. ‘Strange Diseases’ was our introduction to their latest collection and it captured the same magic of mammoth tunes like ‘Magnolia’ and ‘Restraint and Release’. You’ll want to sing, you’ll want to dance and you might even want to sit down and reflect on all the good things and the bad things life can bring. And yes, I have that song stuck in my head, I don’t know why and to get it out, I’m going to listen to ‘Strange Diseases’. It’s the perfect cure. (Matt Bond) 

And there I am again, swinging wildly between thoughts of plans and coincidence and a bigger picture and the truth be told, it all being chance because that's all it is. And I hear the words and I grapple with the thoughts of knowing there has to be more but knowing there is nothing and as always I look to the things that have always been there to give me the answers I need. I find them in the strangest and most beautiful of places and more often than not they are explanations wrapped up in sounds that I'll never understand, but have always been the saviours I need.  "Braver than I, and so much brighter..." is exactly who they are, these Gang Of Youths, and for that I am so grateful to someone, something or just them, because all that swinging wildly of my heart and mind becomes more therapeutic than terrifying with their music by my side. (Jo Michelmore

by Little May 

And I can't stop losing my mind
And I won't stop until I find you, until I find you... 

For our regular readers, welcome to the number you knew was coming. For our new readers, welcome to number 41 and a band that have featured so often over the last couple of years, we should probably add them to our list of contributors (if you could call Matt and my name a 'list'). 'Remind Me' is a perfect reminder of why we have written about them so much. Whether they be softly sobbing via strings and keys or emotional regret via guitars and drums, they always manage to speak our minds, hear our thoughts and make us sadhappysad via song. 'Remind Me' was a little step away from the rest of the tracks from For The Company, but it was a welcome addition and a promise of a Little May not afraid to experiment with their sound in order to wear their hearts on their sleeves and essentially, that is the reason we can't help but write about their talent over and over again. (Jo Michelmore)

Little May’s debut album For the Company was our favourite release of 2015. We were listening to it from last year and we’re still listening to it today because it is the best. No questions ‘bout it, it’s essential listening and one of those album where you fall in love with every single song. But if you’re like me, you’re going to spend a lot of time with some songs on an album more than others, with the songs in question changing over the years. I was immediately drawn to tracks like ‘Seven Hours’, ‘Chemicals’ and ‘Sinks’ and would go back to them a lot. Then more and more it was ‘Remind Me’ that I was heading to, especially after seeing Little May live on the Sunshine Coast earlier in the year. It really is a song that has it all. One of the more rocking tracks on For The Company alongside ‘Home’, ‘Remind Me’ greets you with a heavy guitar line and doesn’t let up until the bridge, which really hooks you in. You’ll be playing the song again and again to get to that part because it is absolutely beautiful. (Matt Bond)

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