Saturday, 16 December 2017

Top 117 Songs of 2017 - #50 to #41

by Alex Lahey

I kinda like you, but I don't like you
You like yourself too much.

Anyone who knows Matt or I, will have guessed there's another Alex Lahey song coming up later on. Anyone who knows anything about Alex Lahey will know there's another Alex Lahey song coming up later on. But enough about later on. Here we have a brilliant indie rock pop song from a brilliant indie rock pop artist, it's 60s arrangement feel a stark contrast to it's "I don't wanna see where this could go" this is not a love song theme, and having taken many listens to her debut album I Love You Like A Brother, that juxtaposition is no accident. It's brilliant is what it is. (Jo Michelmore

'Let's Call It A Day' had me hooked from the wonderful opening lines, "you're on my nerves and I'm three drinks in." Alex Lahey has a way with words that has you feeling everything she's feeling and in this case you feel like you're right there with her on one of those dates you can't wait to be over. You're sitting there and forcing your face not to scrunch up in pain because of every unnecessary word pouring out of the mouth of the creature sitting opposite you. You might disassociate and think about all of the Netflix you're going to watch when you get home. You might knock back those drinks a little bit faster in the hopes that the sweet, sweet alcamahol will make everything better. But you've already made your mind up... you don't want to see where this could go. Because you already know. This is going nowhere. Fast. (Matt Bond

by The Presets

I'm feeling technicolour
Oh, go on, have another.

So I see on The Presets' Facebook page that they've just finished up a new album, so 2018 is looking better already knowing that. With The Presets you always know what you're going to get. Fun music to dance to that's got just the right amount of darkness lurking under the surface... perfect for those nights you find yourself out and about in the seedy parts of town at some ungodly hour. Also perfect for the gym, the car, walking to work, eating a sandwich or cleaning the house. The Presets know what they're about, they've been around long enough to know what their fans want and they deliver again and again. 'Do What You Want' follows The Presets formula in line with what's come before, but really, would you want it any other way? (Matt Bond

I feel like I wrote my review of this song via text to Matt at the beginning of November, when this was first released. It was simple; "The Presets play The Presets really well". Harsh? Well I've always been known for my lack of subtlety, but harsh was never my intention. The Presets do play The Presets very well. They call it pub rock techno, I call it a masterpiece of their electronica; a thumping, pounding three minutes that is bound to get stuck in your head, it's exactly as The Presets have always been and should be, and that's a Presets I'll always really like. (Jo Michelmore)

by Basenji ft. Tkay Maidza

Falling out of place never felt so good 'till I met you.

Tkaaaaaaaaaaaaay. Slay. Basenjiiiiiiiii. Word that rhymes with Basenjiiiiiiii. Tkay took over the music world's consciousness in November, dropping 'Bom Bom' and 'Mistakes'. Both collaborations that are hopefully just a warm up for what's in store for Ms Maidza next year. While 'Bom Bom' was the reminder that Tkay is one mighty fine rap superstar, 'Mistakes' reminds us once more that she's no slouch in the singing department either. Another ready for the floor banger that will only serve to win her even more fans around the world, because this has worldwide club hit written all over it. Basenji delivers his best production yet with 'Mistakes' and if he wants to bring back Maidza for rounds two, three or four over the next couple of years, I'd be all for that. And I don't think I'd be alone there. (Matt Bond

by Kingswood

You took my love and you took it all
How can you be so big and yet you feel so small?

I love it when this happens. A song that sounds like the country; that brings visions of long lonely roads, sunsets over deserts and sitting on steps in front of houses in the middle of nowhere and yet the clip inspires a whole different set of images in my mind. New Yorkers being New Yorkers, in the city of millions of stories, shot with a sepia tone to match the sounds Kingswood have made of yesterday. Apparently they have a way with visuals as well as sounds that I haven't appreciated until now, but I'm going to be making up for lost time and watching over and over again. (Jo Michelmore

#46. SAY SO
by Ariela Jacobs

I've got a one way ticket and a one way flight
For I got high hopes for you and I.

Things that should be studied; the way Ariela Jacobs' music can walk the finest line between heartbreaking and heart warming, finding the perfect balance of both that leaves you in awe of her talent. 'Say So' is another addition to a catalogue full of tunes that pulls this feat off. You can feel as hopeful as Jacobs does as she sings about journeying into the unknown with a belief that everything will work out. At the same time you'll find yourself thinking about the odds of this happening. More often than not, things don't work out the way we want, especially when it comes to love. But you've got to take the risk, right? While we as listeners don't know how this particular risk paid off for our leading lady, we can only hope the best for her. (Matt Bond

by Lorde

Baby really hurt me, crying in the taxi, he don't wanna know me
Says he made the big mistake of dancing in my storm...

There is a person. A person with a heart bigger than you can imagine, a mind deeper than you have seen, a story more intense than you suspect. There are the invitations, there are the memories, there are conversations, there is rejection, there is a heart, lying on the floor. There is a piano, there is a voice, there is Lorde, telling tales, asking a question and saying the words. And the answer is that anyone who tells you that you are a liability is probably actually the liability themselves. (Jo Michelmore

Don't you wish you could write a song like 'Liability'? Seriously, the lines about going home to the only person Lorde can depend on and dancing with them, but to a stranger all they'd see if a girl dancing alone and your head explodes as you scream, "SHE'S DANCING WITH HERSELF BECAUSE SHE IS THE LOVE OF HER LIFE," are as good as it gets. I also wish I could find whoever hurt Lorde enough to write something so dangerously reflective on her life and make them pay. Who hurt you, Lorde? Where do they live? What's their pattern of life? What would hurt them the most? Okay... going too far haha. Totally wouldn't hunt them down and make them suffer in the name of our Lorde. Ah well... another supporting piece of evidence to make the case that Lorde will be knocking our socks off for a long, long time to come. (Matt Bond)

by Kimbra

We go so good together
Search all my life to find better.

Yes, Kimbra... get it! Take us all to the top, to the top, to the top of the wooooorld. If this didn't get you so pumped for the release of Kimbra's third album, Primal in 2018, I just don't know what to say to you. I'm sorry? I'm disappointed? Who hurt you? Why you gotta be like this? 'Top of the World' is ambitious, out of this world pop that shows one of our fave Kiwi songstresses is showing no signs of slowing down when it comes to exploring and developing her sound. I genuinely love it more and more with each listen and maybe we're going to have to put it in next year's list too, because give it a couple more months and this is going to be one of my most listened to and loved songs of... well, ever. Don't even get me started on the video. Daaaaaaamn girl. LOVE. (Matt Bond)  

The first time I heard this song, I'm going to admit I had no idea who it was. I had visions of hearing something new, discovering some sounds by some up and coming. But then something clicked, something sounded strangely comfortable and I actually looked at my phone to find that so familiar name... Kimbra. Ah yes, I should have guessed, because these days, one doesn't hear her voice on all the radios like we did five years ago, one finds Kimbra experimenting and playing with her sound, forging new and alternate paths to where her previous incarnation was leading her. I'm still happy to follow her along, because her confidence in her ability is so alluring and while her sounds seem to be slightly different with every new release, they've all got the stamp of Kimbra amongst them, which makes new discoveries wonderfully comfortable. (Jo Michelmore)

#43. RUN
by Foo Fighters

They say that nothing's free, you can run with me
If you wanted to.

It's funny, because every now and then for the past hundred (give or take a few) years, the cool music people and the words I read about all the songs and the bands (and maybe because I have an opinion) all the people make me feel like I should always be on the lookout for new things, or indie things, or cool things when sometimes the thing I like is right in front of my face, being pushed down my throat by the TV and the radio and the record company with all of the ads. And even though the members of the Foo Fighters don't need another two hundred of my dollars to fill a stadium, does that mean I shouldn't like them? No, it doesn't. Because even though they have all the luxuries and all the commercial success, they still write music I like, and I'll never apologise for what I like. And this? I don't just like this, this is rock and I fuckin LOVE this. (Jo Michelmore

#42. GHOST
by Husky

It's these moment in-between that I need the most.

Who doesn't love a bit of Husky on the daily? The Melbournian indie outfit returned earlier in the year with their third album, Punchbuzz, with 'Ghost' earning a ton of well deserved play on the j's. It could be the group's best track yet and certainly their catchiest. 'Ghost' has been a bit of an ear-worm for me since first hearing it and I'm really not complaining about that. I'd rather have this than 'Coco Jambo' or Paris Hilton's 'Nothing In This World'. With smart writing and a very nice blend of rock and light electronic touches, 'Ghost' gives us a Husky at the top of their game. Surely there's a place in the Hottest 100 for this one? (Matt Bond)

by Holy Holy

And I couldn't find the words I needed
I needed nothing.

Think of a list of all the greatest Australian bands you know. There are hundreds of them, thousands, and a lucky few have made it into the echelons of legendary status. They've played and played and played and if you're lucky enough, you will have seen some of them in tiny clubs or bars and if you're really lucky you'll have seen them grow with thousands of others at festivals and stadiums. Some cities claim them as their own, some cities name bridges after them, some cities steal them from other cities. Now name those bands. And place Holy Holy right at the top of the list. Amateurs they are not, legendary is what they will be. (Jo Michelmore)


Thursday, 14 December 2017

Top 117 Songs of 2017 - #60 to #51

by Ainslie Wills

Running on empty, should pull over
But there's no time for that. 

Does any song sum up the feeling that comes with all of the realities of adulthood more than Ainslie Wills' 'Running Second'? The pressure you find yourself under that's largely self-imposed, the belief that you're losing a race you didn't even know you're in... but there's also that little voice in your head telling you to calm your farm, it's not so bad. "There's nothing to be scared of," sings Wills as she tells you to enjoy the view. That voice might not pop up as often as you like, but in the moments where it might be quiet or gone altogether, just pop on some Ainslie Wills and that's guaranteed to put a smile on your face. (Matt Bond) 

by Babaganouj

What are you like when you're not with me?
How does it feel to not be lonely? 

So technically 'Would You Like Me' was released in 2016, but it was released as the lead single of a vinyl collection that combined all three of Babaganouj's EP's from last year. So if it was released in 2017 as the lead single for something then it counts as a 2017 release. Logic. The 'Nouj (Nouj, Nouj, Nouj) deserve all the attention in the world for their brilliant garage pop, that gets better and better with each release. The Brisbane based three-piece have a knack for creating music that asks some big questions against angsty pop and 'Would You Like Me' is no exception. Like the Harriette Pilbeam led single 'Bluff', this track (also Pilbeam led) brings up some questions that have been on anyone's mind that's tried out that crazy little thing called love. The repeated lines asking a certain someone to promise never to leave are a little hopeful, a little desperate and more than a little heartbreaking. (Matt Bond)  

by Ecca Vandal

Are you happy with your status, status
But what's your return? 

Yes. This is a song title I relate to. Ecca V gives us all the ferocity she can muster, all the manic beats she can create and then she throws some vicious vocals in and suddenly we have a song made to be played on stage, made to be heard with flashing lights and lots of uncontrollable thrashing. It's fun but it's angsty, it's unapologetic and it includes possibly the greatest scream of the year. There's absolutely nothing subtle about it and that's what makes it another perfectly Ecca Vandal track. (Jo Michelmore)  

by Avicii ft. Rita Ora

And I know and I know and I know and I know
That I can't be your friend. 

Like Little Mix before her, I did a complete 180 on Rita Ora. Well, not 180, because that would imply I disliked her when honestly I didn't have an opinion of her one way or another. She existed, but could I name you one of her songs? Probs not. But this year I was screaming along to 'Your Songs' because I didn't wanna hear sad songs anymore etc. etc. and then this little team up with Avicii came along and I knew. I had become a fan. I had an opinion of Rita Ora. A highly favourable one even. 'Lonely Together' is what you might call a banger. A song that if I had possibly consumed a beverage or seven at the local discotheque with all the other young thangs (I can't keep this up, I'm old), I might be so inclined to head on out to the d-floor and bust a move. Okay I'll stop. But I would totally dance to this on a table at 2am. Slay, Rita. Slay. Oh yeah, Avicii is a thing too. Yay? (Matt Bond)

Ohmygod it's like Inception, or something; two people who I'm not sure actually exist, together, in one song! While it's become apparent and well documented that no one (being me) really knows who Rita Ora is, has anyone anywhere actually ever seen Avicii? Is he a he? Why do I assume that? Is he that guy in the white suit bouncing around on a boat in the Mediterranean in some random clip? Or is she one of those people in the helmets that used to appear at the award shows? No one (being me) knows who he or she is, even though we all know the name. So are they actually featuring Rita, or are Rita and Avicii the same person? No one (being me) knows, but it seems apt that he/she/they perform a song 'Lonely Together', because it must be hard being so un-famously famous. Good song but. Excellent clip too, featuring someone no one (being me) knows. (Jo Michelmore)  

#56. J-BOY
by Phoenix

Do you remember the last time you laughed
And I laughed and you left and I left? 

I read a review of Phoenix's sixth album 'Ti Amo' which described it as "summer and Italian discos" which pretty much sounds like almost the perfect thing to me, so it's no wonder 'J-Boy' is such an awesome little summer song to dance to, preferably in a Italian disco. I'd take any European disco at this point, but that's a whole other story about my lack of overseas holiday right now. Until I'm exactly there, I just have to settle for the irresistible synths and the feel good feel of 'J-Boy'. (Jo Michelmore

Hey, Phoenix are still kicking about. Would you look at that. I'm joking but I'm not, because Phoenix were kind of a big deal back in 2009 when Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix came out. They were big on the Hottest 100 at least and every frat boy's fave band. Like the mythical creature they take their name from, the French indie music makers have risen triumphantly from the ashes with 'J-Boy', which is really quite good. It's very good. Lyrically their best work and as shiny and vaguely dreamy as anything that's come before. Hopefully they'll stick around in the public consciousness for a bit longer this go around and not take a four year break between albums. (Matt Bond)

#55. EVEN
by Julien Baker

It's not that I think I'm good, I know that I'm evil
I guess I was trying to even it out. 

Julien Baker takes you down a dark road on 'Even', a track that is right up there with her best work like 'Go Home' and 'Something'. How someone can do so much with so little will always blow my mind and have me coming back for more and here we have Baker accompanied by only a guitar as she details the shitty situation she's found herself in. This is where love can take you, kids. Take a good listen and learn! I'm kidding, I'm kidding. I'm not. 'Even' is musical storytelling at its best. Just a very talented singer pouring her heart out and inviting you to take a look at something most people will never share with another. It's intimate, devastating and worthy of more repeated listens than you can count. (Matt Bond)   

by The Jungle Giants

You could be my nightmare
And you'd still be my love. 

Well look here, the way kids talk about things these days I can't keep up with what's good, bad or indifferent. One minute things are cool and the next they're talking in letters, codes and eggplant emoji. So if someone says "you could be my bad dream" are they terrified of you or are they declaring their undying love for you? The pulsating beats don't give me any clearer indication and I can't work out whether the eerie sounding chorus or the clip are more terrifying, in a really good way. I guess that means being a bad dream is a good thing? The song certainly is a good thing. (Jo Michelmore)  

by Gordi

How do you give yourself to me?
I send you my words silently. 

Songs like this, that bring the questions and the thoughts, they are the ones I love. How do you do the days? How do you stand up with the desperation standing right beside? How do you walk with the clouds, how do you talk without screaming, how do you smile without crying and how do you know who knows about it all? You do it with knowing glances and hugs, you do it with coffee and wine, you do it with chats about nothing and laughs about everything. You find the ones who let you say everything when you don't need to say a thing. You find the ones who let you sit in silence when all the other sounds are creeping in. "I can't, I won't, I tell you that I don't, but I need you on my side..." You do it with the ones you trust, the ones who know you know, and you do it all with songs like this, the ones that bring the questions and the thoughts and the answers, and they are the ones I love. (Jo Michelmore)  

I have a secret playlist of songs that sometimes I need to listen to for a pick-me-up. Not so secret anymore, but the songs that make up that list will be a secret. Now, to make your own Pick-Me-Up Playlist it can't be comprised of sugary pop or songs that come from a place that isn't genuine. You want songs that make you happy because they remind you of what's important, they put things in perspective. They remind you of the important people that have come and gone, the ones that stayed when it really counted. You want songs that make you want to sing along just as much as they make you want to listen and appreciate every word you're taking in. If I can recommend one song to put on your own list, how about this one. 'On My Side' by Gordi. What a song and what a talent. (Matt Bond 

#52. RENEW

Always so soon
I'm calling out for you. 

Just on a side note, there's an awful lot of artists featuring in our list this year who like to declare themselves in all CAPS. I tend to yell their names in my mind as I'm typing, just to provide you with a peek into my slightly odd psyche. On another note, BANFF has created a sweet song with 'Renew'; facing his own insecurities as an artist and working with them through his dreamy, electro sounds. So let me describe how I feel about his work in a way I know he'll understand. LOVE (all caps). (Jo Michelmore)  

It wouldn't be a year in music anymore without a release from BANFF, another Brisbane favourite of ours that never fails to brighten up our day. Even if it's a released that's tinged in just the right amount of confusion and longing, it's still brightening our day. Because BANFF has become very, very good at making songs that you can't get out of your head and leave a lot of room for interpretation. Which is a good thing, because songs like 'Renew' get stuck in your head and you get to listen to them over and over again and debate in your mind what he really means, you know. I am not crazy. I just like music and I like BANFF. (Matt Bond)  

#51. FIRE
by Beth Ditto

Ain't got an honest feeling in my bones.

There was a period of time earlier this year when I listened to literally nothing but Beth Ditto for 48 hours. Considering there is rarely a moment I'm not listening to something, this is an achievement for any artist. One hit of play on 'Fire' and I'm pretty sure if I didn't have to write about another 50 or so songs, then Beth would be back on high rotation in my world. On the first single from her first solo album Fake Sugar, she managed to capture some rock, some soul, her magnificent vocal and and a whole lot of retro into three minutes of magic. It ignited a fire of obsession for Ms Ditto that I'm still not quite over, and once these 117 songs are written about, I'm pretty sure hers will be one of the albums I return to experience all through next year as well. (Jo Michelmore)


Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Top 117 Songs of 2017 - #70 to #61

by DZ Deathrays

I have something simple
To make you feel good.

Oh I love this. I love everything about it. I love that it sounds like if I was in a band in the mid 90s this is what I would have been writing. I love that if I was in my 90s band I'd be wearing the most floral of dresses and the most doctored of Doc Martens. I love the psychedelically lo-fi clip and I love that it's about guitar shredding, not the other type of shredding often performed at this time of year. Is it? I love that it's not even close to the 90s and DZ Deathrays are just doing their thing and I love that I get to love it. (Jo Michelmore

DZ Deathrays take on shredding for the summer is much better than the standard fuck boi's shred for Stereo, yes? Not that Stereosonic is a thing anymore. I don't know Shane Parsons and Simon Ridley personally, so who knows, maybe they enjoy getting ripped for a festival. But on 'Shred For Summer' they're happy to just get a good shred going on the guitar and beat up some drums instead of each other in a steroid-fueled testoster-rage. I'm all for that and I'm all for hearing more from DZ Deathrays in a world where Stereosonic and the Future Music Festival are not a thing. Everyone's a winner. (Matt Bond)  

by Jessie Ware

Darling, you do it too
You tell me lies and I bend the truth. 

Just when you thought Jessie Ware couldn't get any more musically stylish and intriguing than she already is, she drops the sleek and seductive 'Selfish Love' and takes it one step further by recording the track in Spanish as 'Egoista'. Take your music to the masses while I applaud you, Lady Ware! Given that the song genuinely feels like it belongs in a really smart film where the leading lady takes a trip of self discovery to some beautiful beach-y location in Spain, it should come as no surprise that the beautifully cinematic accompanying video is perfectly suited to the song and pretty much follows that storyline. With the bonus, murderous twist at the end. The lessons we can take away from this are... 1. Don't mess with Jessie Ware. And 2. Jessie Ware can do no wrong and is the musical genius we don't deserve and should be thankful to have. Absolutely stunning in every way. (Matt Bond)  

by The xx

I've been a romantic for so long
All I've ever had are love songs. 

So you take a sneaky day off school, you meet up with a boy you like and show up to some random event with a pool and The xx are playing beside it...and you don't completely lose your shit?!?? Like, that's The xx at the end of that pool guys! Seriously! Stop staring at each other please and start looking at The xx!! Clearly my world is not in an xx clip, but regardless, as frustrating as that clip is, the song is equally fabulous. Doing what they do but with every release just that little bit better, The xx prove that you can change and stay the same and still be fabulous and low key as well as totally danceable at the same time. Now stop staring and start dancing you fools! (Jo Michelmore)

by St. Vincent

New love, wasn't true love
Back to you love. 

Contrast is key to the artistry of St. Vincent. And there's something oh so gorgeous about the stark difference between the brightly coloured music video for 'New York' and the shades of grey that make up the reserved heartbreak in the music. If you have ever felt like you've settled in your life, and I don't mean feeling settled and content, I mean it in the way that you've settled for something when you know it's not right or you deserve better, that's what it feels like listening to 'New York'. Running on back to something familiar that you know isn't going to work. And the lights of the city can't be big or bright enough to make it any different this time around. Even if that city is NYC. (Matt Bond

If you feel like being hopeful and anxious at exactly the same time, and if you want to feel empowered and emotional all at once, then hit play on St Vincent's 'New York' and you'll find a New York not as often represented in song, one that's much less my way and much more anyway, and while it steers a little different from some of her material, there's no doubt with that perfectly placed line in every chorus, this is the razor sharp St Vincent I like and New York is a razor sharp city I'm definitely going to have to visit one day. (Jo Michelmore)

by Lana Del Rey ft. Stevie Nicks

Blue is the colour of the planet from the view above
Long live our reign, long live our love. 

Lana Del Rey and Stevie Nicks, together at last, a combination that seems like such a fantasy pairing and sounds just as fantastic when actually paired together. I imagine getting the Stevie Nicks stamp of approval in the form of a duet would be a career highlight for many an artist. I also imagine many artists have tried and failed to make this happen, so it has to be a huge feather in Lana Del Rey's cap that the original sister of the moon would agree to collaborate with her. 'Beautiful People Beautiful Problems' blends the musical stylings of an icon and megastar is such an easy way. It's not flashy, but it doesn't need to be. These are artists that have made their names on the equally romanticized and honest stories they tell. They're also just a little bit crackers, as evidenced by their discussion regarding which letter of the Hollywood sign they'd live in over at V Magazine. I think that makes me love them even more. (Matt Bond)

by Ball Park Music

You are not a little fish
You don't have to swim upstream to find their praise. 

You know Mr. Sheeran released this really sweet song this year that said something about someone being perfect and I know we're all going to be hearing that one at weddings from now on in, which is nice, it's a lovely song, but should I ever choose to marry someone, something like Ball Park Music will be more likely the ones receiving the royalties from me and I don't care who doesn't like that first line. It's so great. Blunt, beautiful, sweet and straightforward with a melody that feels like summer, this song is perfect. In a Ball Park Music way, not a Sheeran way. (Jo Michelmore)

by Royal Blood

I can feel it rushing under my skin
You're a cage won't you let me in? 

Ooh yes, here we are. Rock. One listen to those filthy guitars and one could even call this an anthem of sorts. Stop start, drums, pounding, gritty lyrics, guitar guitar guitar, I'm pretty sure that's all one needs to make a rock anthem. Then again, I'm writing about rock songs while sitting in my pjs with a cup of tea, so do I know anything about rock? I know I like it. I know I like the English version of it, therefore, Royal Blood, yes, rock. I know it. I likes it. (Jo Michelmore)

by Kesha

But some things only God can forgive.

What's there to say, really? Kesha's battles over the past couple of years have played out in the public domain so everyone should know her story. Everyone should also be celebrating her musical comeback that saw her leave the party girl days behind her in pursuit of something more raw, something stronger and something undeniably inspirational. This is a young woman that went through the shittest time imaginable in front of the eyes of the world to confront and label her abuser and came out the other side in one piece. Even if you don't like the music of Kesha Rose Sebert, you should have a ton of respect for her. It just so happens that I really do like 'Praying'. The subtle build to the choir's entry, Kesha's moving performance and the reach for that epic high note. Pop music's comeback and reinvention of the year. (Matt Bond

Regardless of your thoughts on Kesha, her previous incarnation and back catalogue, there's something about something you need to know. It's the people like Kesha, with the determination and the perseverance and the strength to stand up for themselves, and stand up for all the others who can't, they are the reason. The people like Kesha who have the ability to have the thoughts and the words and turn those into things like this for the people who can't, they are the reason. The people like Kesha who bring the thunder and bring the burn for the people who are still going through hell; they are the reason music will always be important, they are the reason music has always and will always be part of the human experience and ultimately, they are the reason for all of the music. (Jo Michelmore)

by The National

So blame it on me, I really don't care
It's a foregone conclusion. 

Facts are you got me at the first note, you National people. I'm happy to admit I'm a total sucker for a piano track, but it's even nicer when they're as stunning as this one. It's oh so melancholy, it's oh so bittersweet, a so very dark chorus "blame it on me I really don't care..." with a hopeful guitar layered on top, this is The National in all their emotional glory and I suggest you check your heartbeat should you not feel some feelings with this one. (Jo Michelmore)

Can you feel it right from the start? Your heart slowly breaking into pieces as Matt Berninger takes some more self-deprecating shots at himself. "I was a worm, I was a creature, I get on the ground the second I'd see you." And still the lovely Carin went on to marry him. Yes, that's right. The lovely Carin at the liquor store is the lovely wife of the man calling himself neither a catch or a keeper. Taken at face value, 'Carin at the Liquor Store' is a gloomy piano ballad (an extremely beautiful one at that), but it's really a love song from a man to the love of his life. In all honest, I'd rather a significant other write a song as perfect as this for me, one that expresses how unworthy they are, than something bright and boppy. With extra emphasis on how unworthy they are. (Matt Bond)

by Sampa the Great ft. Estelle

Straighten up your posture
An imposter, got a cape.

Sampa the Great had a huge 2017. It ended with the release of Birds And The Bee9, a hype mixtape of sorts to get us pumped for her debut album which is expected to come out in 2018. One listen and you'll practically be willing it in your mind to be release day for what's already going to be one of the best LPs of next year. Birds And The Bee9 wasn't StG's only 2017 release though. Nahhh, that would be too easy. Why not drop a three track EP teaming up with she who wants you to take her on a trip she wants to see L.A. (Estelle, obviously) that is soul infused hip-hop perfection. That would be the HERoes Act 2 EP, which had this gem right here, 'Everybody's Hero'. It's this track that confirms what we already knew. Sampa The Great is AUS music's next big export, a talent that simply won't be denied many moments on the world stage. And she's totally everybody's hero. (Matt Bond)

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Top 117 Songs of 2017 - #80 to #71

by Jessie Ware

I'm losing sight of you
A stranger simply passing through again, again, again.

Hearts aren't supposed to break like that, Jessie Ware. Sing it loud! Or sing it in an emotionally vulnerable way, infused with soul and passion and heartbreak like you're doing here. Whichever you prefer. Ware's third studio album, Glasshouse, is somehow even better than the high standards she set with what has come before. Seriously though, those standards were hiiiigh. Tracks like 'Hearts' place Ware in a league of her own, unlike anything else that's out there in the music world right now. How many pop artists can you say are offering up mature, sincere and heartfelt tracks like this? Shhhh... Adele's on a break. There's a poetic strength to Ware's words though that make her distinct even from Queen A. FYI, the acoustic take is even better than the album cut. (Matt Bond)

When our list of 117 songs was finalised, I started to listen to a long playlist of them all to give myself a kind of general overview, to see what I would be writing about as I went through. When Jessie Ware appeared, so sublimely singing that line "hearts aren't supposed to feel like that..." repeatedly, I crossed three rooms to see who it was. Some songs grab you by the throat and demand you hear them. This is one of them. That's why it made the list. Simple and stunning. (Jo Michelmore

by Mark Harding

Will you stop saying you're alright...

I didn't want to mention it, but admittedly I thought "No!"'when I first found out that Mark Harding had released a track, because Mark Harding is not just Mark Harding, but Mark Harding of Little May, which meant the possibility of one of my favourite bands from the last couple of years not releasing any new music anytime soon, became a devastating reality. Well, that thought was pretty daunting, but I'll be honest and say it only took one listen of 'Thorn In Your Side' for me to hope Little May had found themselves a new band mate because I wanna keep this one for myself. A shockingly stunning lyric and a beautiful restraint in sound made Mark Harding quickly become one of my favourites of this year, all on his own. (Jo Michelmore

Speaking of talented songwriters, say hello to Mark Harding. Speaking of talented vocalists, say hello to Mark Harding. Speaking of talented multi-instrumentalists, say hello to Mark Harding. I imagine you could actually say hello to Mark Harding on the street and he'd be totally cool about it. 'Thorn In Your Side' is only the second single to be released by the former (current?) Little May member, which might come as a surprise given the many layers, lyrical and musical, that you'd expect from a seasoned artist many years into their career. I don't know a better word to describe this track than beautiful, so we're just going to commit to that and say 'Thorn In Your Side' is a really, really beautiful song. Lines like, "you don't want love but hate to be alone, will you stop saying you're alright," carry a depth you can only appreciate getting to listen to. And we certainly appreciate the music of Mark Harding. (Matt Bond)

#78. TRY
by Hatchie

Yeah I know you want to try
I can feel it in your sigh.

The solo debut from Harriette Pilbeam, she of former Go Violets and (current?) Babaganouj fame, is as dreamy as her starring moment in Jeremy Neale's 'In Stranger Times' would suggest. So dreamy. 'Try' is most excellent and perfectly encapsulates the sunny side of Brisbane's alternative scene. Like a lot of music that comes out of the Sunshine State capital, there's a hefty 90s influence present, but it still manages to be modern and ready made for whatever Looking for Alibrandi style film is out at the movies right now. There's just that liiiittle bit of angst shining through the dreamy (so dreamy) world that's Hatchie has created for us and that's what will have you coming back for more. More Hatchie please! (Matt Bond)  

by Cloud Control

How would I know he's gone?
How would I carry on?

How long have Cloud Control been doing their thing? It seems like they've been hanging about since the beginning of time. It's apparently only been ten years, but I guess that's a lifetime in some band's lives, and even with the departure of their bassist in 2015, the trio managed to find their feet again this year and release one gorgeous sound in 'Rainbow City'. The distorted guitars in combination with their dreamy aesthetic make it a comfortable Cloud Control moment, and an indication that one is hoping Cloud Control hang about until the end of time. (Jo Michelmore

Cloud Control followed up the brilliant 2013 LP Dream Cave with the equally impressive Zone this year, which was led by the rocking and rolling 'Rainbow City'. Expectations were high after the success of tracks like 'Dojo Rising' and 'Scar', which catapulted the group to indie fame around the world. 'Rainbow City' would have appeased many a Cloud Control fan with Alister Wright howling his way through a three minute roller coaster ride, probably to somewhere called Rainbow City that you know you want to go to, even if it sounds like somewhere you'd drive though on a Mario Kart racetrack. (Matt Bond)

by Sigrid

Just had a breakthrough
I'm used to being your number two.

Best opening lines of 2017? Maybe, maybe not. Definitely up there with the best. They're a little kick to the heart courtesy of Norway's Sigrid. But it's not all doom and gloom and being sick of running with fake friends. Sigrid's also here to shut down, maybe emotionally I don't know with these Norwegians, and when she "shuts down" the music explodes as 'Fake Friends' transforms into one of the finest pop songs of the year. How this wasn't released as a single blows my mind. This has chart topping, monster hit written all over it. (Matt Bond)

First up, I knew nothing of Sigrid before I heard this track. I've since found out she's Norwegian (tick), she was going to study law but liked music better (tick), she's only 20 and so talented already (tick), she's a bit Lorde-y but with a super healthy dose of Scandinavian pop influence (tick), she's got a fabulously fiery voice (tick), with a knack for telling it like it is in her lyrics "no use for excuses so bad things come to an end.." (tick) and she's taking no grief from anyone along the way (big big tick). If I was giving things marks, Sigrid would be getting a giant ten out of ten from me. (Jo Michelmore) 

by Lanks

Why didn't you call me when you fell apart?
You know I need you like a light in the dark.

A little bit of googling over this song bought to my attention the fact that LANKS worked with his grandmother, an accomplished artist herself, in a collaborative exhibition to support his EP, Viet Rose. This clearly makes me an ever bigger fan because grandmothers are cool, but also, what a sweet little song, filled with LANKS typical layered sounds and emotion. I bet his Grandmother likes it. I do too. (Jo Michelmore)

by Cub Sport

I only do this with you, you see
You make this mania seem serene.

Cub Sport cracking the Hottest 100 with 'Come On Mess Me Up' in a big way this past 'Straya Day was one of the true highlights of a countdown that could have only been topped by Amy Shark smashing Flume on her way to a number one victory. The Brisbane-based band have been working hard for years now and to see them hit it big at number 24 ahead of acts like The Avalanches, Hilltop Hoods and Beyonce (because, Beyonce) put a big smile on this guy's dial. So what did they do to follow up on such exposure? Release their best album yet, Bats. With shimmering electronic tracks like 'Temporarily', you'd be hard pressed finding someone that won't fall in love with Cub Sport's latest offering. Hottest 100 2017? Here they come. (Matt Bond

#73. HONEY
by Jessie Frye

Boy, never had a lover quite like you
I can feel it in the way we move.

When we first heard Jessie Frye, it was the booming rock of 'Dear' that caught our attention. Circling guitars and beating drums were backing the Denton, Texas singer back then. When next we checked in, Frye was heading down the pop road with 'One in a Million'. Now, almost four years later and with the track 'Honey' we're introduced to a new side of Jessie Frye... the electronic chanteuse. Unsurprisingly, she pulls off her latest incarnation with the same success as what's come before. Maybe even more so. 'Honey' finds Frye at her most confident and polished, ready made for the radio with catchy hooks and a singalong chorus the young ones will eat up like... honey? Nah, candy. Let's say candy. (Matt Bond)    

by Tash Sultana

You don't even know me
Come closer to the knife.

Some of my biggest achievements of 2017 involve getting out of bed on my (first) alarm and getting to work less than five minutes late. Tash Sultana spent 2017 selling over 100,000 tickets to her shows (with a debut album yet to be released) and she is Australia's third most streamed artist on Spotify. So you know; we've both achieved things. 'Mystik', filled with her trademark guitar loops and an epic sax solo is apparently about her ego and it's demise, which I relate to, because you know, we can't all be morning people all the time. Tash Sultana's life on the other hand, only goes from strength to strength and songs like this one are why. (Jo Michelmore)

by Alexander Biggs

The more I try to run and hide
The more you're running through my veins.

I would like to mention the swinging folksy guitars on Alexander Biggs track, but the thing that struck me most was the clip; Alex's lemonade stand is his representation of the music industry itself, and you're going to have to watch this one yourself to see what the music industry can do to it's artists. What a strange beast it is, but that's a whole other conversation. Also, please note, I got no customers when I had my lemonade stand back in my day and I may have reacted in a similar way. You're not alone Mr Biggs. (Jo Michelmore)


Sunday, 10 December 2017

Top 117 Songs of 2017 - #90 to #81

by Taylor Swift

I don't like your perfect crime
How you laugh when you lie.

The big wheel that is Taylor Swift's mission to become the most polarising figure in all of the music lands kept on turning in 2017, and I don't know about you, but I found it fascinating. Whether you believe the "feuds" are real or manufactured, they certainly lead to some expert manipulation of the masses by Swift's camp. Every line in 'Look What You Made Me Do' is designed to be critically analysed. Is this line about Kanye Kardashian? Is this one about Calvin Harris? Surely that one isn't about that dude that plays Loki in the Marvel movies. Or is it? They spark debates between rabid fans of Kimmy K, apparently in emoji form where Team Swift uses the rat emoji because rats eat snakes and the Kardashian clan think Tay Tay is a snake and I can't keep up. Or care. But I do like my catchy pop tunes and this right here is catchy. And made for those moments when you're at the fridge getting your midnight snack on and as you put that fourth row of chocolate into your mouth you start singing to the darkness, "look what you made me do, look what you made me do, look what you just made me do." (Matt Bond)  

by DZ Deathrays 

You know that when you are feeling down
Someone else is always feeling more.

When you read words about DZ Deathrays, the description that pops up over and over again is 'party-thrashers', which suggests they are the words used in their press releases, or they are actual thrashers of parties, which could be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on said party. 'Total Meltdown', released late this year, is probably more a raw rock gathering than a thrashed party; its smashing drums and dirty guitars drive it straight into a summer rock sweaty mess. Also, how can you not love a band that name their album exactly as it will be described when it's released in February next year? 'Bloody Lovely' mate! Bloody lovely. (Jo Michelmore)  

by Vance Joy

Everything we've done, is there on our faces for anyone willing to
Read between the lines.

So this is pretty much a wet dream for whoever the people are that pick songs for TV shows (side note, that is my dream job and if anyone in the "biz" wants to offer me one of these positions I'll take it right now thanks) and Vance Joy knows it. He's got a knack for making these types of songs that are made for those moments when Drama with a capital d is unfolding for all of your favourite characters and in the final three to four minutes of an episode you get to check in like the five main characters as they look all reflective and a couple breaks up or something. Anyway, I look forward to hearing this on Grey's Anatomy. Let's not get me started on Grey's Anatomy... (Matt Bond)

Is Vance Joy Australia's Ed Sheeran? Quietly charming, a master of eloquently humble lyrics and delightful folky pop melodies, as well as being king of the awkwardly cute curly haired market, Vance Joy can do no wrong. This makes me like him as much as I dislike him, much like Ed. That's a compliment though, so fans of mild mannered catchy pop can settle down. 'Like Gold' is the perfect summertime singalong song, it's designed for reminiscing and reliving long days and old times over summer sunsets, and it's just another reason he will be revered as one of Australia's greatest, now and for years to come. (Jo Michelmore

by Eves Karydas

It could be, it could be a waste of time
But it's gonna be, gonna be worth the fight. 

Hannah Karydas may be Hannah Karydas one minute and then Eves The Behaviour the next and then reappear a couple of years later under supposedly her real name Eves Karydas, but we're going to forgo asking any questions about this and just focus on the fact that no matter what name this young music maker is going by, that music is always of a consistently excellent quality. That was quite the sentence. 'There For You' keeps Karydas on the electronic indie path that brought her a whole lot of attention as Eves The Behaviour and keeps her in standing with contemporaries like Vera Blue and Wafia. Romantic in an almost naive, youthful way, 'There For You' will work its way into your head and have you singing along before you're even through the first listen. It will be the first of many listens. (Matt Bond

by British India

If everything could stay the same as it is right now.

Six albums in and British India continue to be one of the hardest working and most reliable acts in Australian music. Now, some might think 'reliable' is a lame compliment. I happen to think being reliable is a huge compliment. You don't get disappointed by someone that's reliable. Someone reliable will put in effort. And British India are yet to disappoint and always deliver the goods. One might say they're precious but that would just be ridiculous given the name of the song, right? Right? Doesn't mean it's not true though. Stellar rock from a band that remains very, very good at doing their thing. (Matt Bond

#85. HOTEL
by Kita Alexander

One day you'l meet me and you'll know it's not a dream
It won't be hell or heaven, we'll be somewhere in-between.

Let's just get straight to the point. This is a stunning piece of music. Kita Alexander has created a dreamy piece of desperation, a subtly strong but sombre sound, that gently swings from synth pop glory to total introspection, and all of this while having her first baby, travelling and she's only in her early 20s. I'm going to sound like an old person now, but I don't care. 20s? In most of my early 20s I was busy eating junk food and attempting not to be hungover. My gosh I'm glad for people more productive than me. (Jo Michelmore)    

This should have been a big hit for Kita Alexander. It's genuinely pop perfection. Gorgeous vocals, dreamy musical soundscapes and lyrics that send your imagination into overdrive. What more do you want? The answer should be nothing. You want nothing more than what Kita Alexander is giving you right here. "Someday you'll find me where the champagne's always free, when you check into the hotel where the skyline meets the sea." Lana Del Rey, eat your heart out. Kita Alexander might just have you beat on the Americana (or in this case I guess Australiana) dreaming lyrical front. I see that Apple Music are loving 'Hotel' on their new music lists, so there's still time for this to hit it big on the charts. If not, it's only a matter of time before Alexander takes off. She's far too talented not to. (Matt Bond)

by Justin Bieber

Know you wondering why I been calling
Like I got ulterior motives.

It's finally happened. There's a Justin Bieber song that I like and the world hasn't ended and everything is how it should be (except for like so many things). So that's something. I guess. Maintaining my immense dislike of all things Bieber has been a thing since the 'Baby' days. Yeah, I didn't like 'Sorry' and I'm not even sorry about it. But then 'Friends' came along and maybe I'm just tired these days and I can't resist the pull of a damn good dance track. I don't know what it is, but I don't hate this and maybe I hate myself a little bit for that instead? Okay, I'm being over the top (or OTT as the kids would say lolz), but this is for real the first Bieber track I'm able to get through from start to finish and enjoy. Is it because he's being the ultimate fuck boy on this track? Probably. You don't agree? You don't think he's got ulterior motives? Enjoy fantasy land you sweet, sweet fool. (Matt Bond)     

Don't worry, we've got 80 odd songs to go, there's still time for 'Despacito'. I was joking about hell freezing over back at number 95, but I'm pretty sure that's exactly what's happened now at number 83, because a few years ago I'm sure the ice would have had to have started forming for Bieber to have been included in one of our end of year lists. I guess that's one of the things Matt and I love about music though, you can just never tell which beat is going to get you, which voice is going to get stuck and which song is going to become a favourite. Sometimes it takes one listen, sometimes it takes a hundred. However many Justin had to release, it's nice to finally have him here. Yes JB, we can still be friends. (Jo Michelmore)  

by Kimbra

I was young and gullible, but baby I grew
Now the whole world's watching you.

It's so nice to have lil Kimbra here in our list, as she's appeared on and off for years now. What a wild ride it's been for her, a super pop start turning into a couple of minutes of real life superstardom and then an artist of super talent who I think is sometimes now a little overlooked and misunderstood, but I'm using those words in an incredibly complimentary manner, because they so often describe an artist dedicated to their craft and a sound dedicated to its listener. 'Everybody Knows' is a gloriously slow burn and just another piece of Kimbra's story, which is nothing less than super. (Jo Michelmore

by Amanda Palmer

South by south west, two miles from town
I can't get out, I can't look down.

"You worship the sun...but you keep feeding the dark" I write all these words about all of this music, and in one song, in one lyric, Amanda Palmer describes how I came to start writing all these words on the internets all those years ago, why I came back to writing about another 117 songs this year, and why I have spent all my life listening to, loving and needing all the music. (Jo Michelmore)   

Sometimes it's hard to listen to a song and not take it for what it is. Usually there's a lot of bullshit and metaphors and delusional lines of what love is and you can critique it, love it or hate it. But then sometimes one of your favourite artists is singing lines about watching everyone she loves drowning in the sound and that just makes you sadder than you expected. And then you remember this is Amanda Palmer and she has this way with words that can sometimes make you feel like you've actually been punched in the face. Take it as a metaphor for the insanity in the world around us or as a reflection for the victims of Hurricane Harvey (which profits of the track went to) or take it however you want. That's the fun thing you get to do with music. Take from it what you will. And Amanda Palmer always gives so much. Here's hoping there's much more to come in 2018. (Matt Bond)

by Gin Wigmore

Do I pretend to play your ways
That I always stay inside the lane.

Ms Wigmore has had a big year. She created a much needed female focussed art and music collaboration project called GIRLGANG, she worked on creating her fourth album and she created a new human, her first baby Ivory, which is a person as well as the title of her next album. Amongst all of that, she released this haunting little track 'Hallow Fate', her super sweet gravelly vocal as strong as ever, her sense of soul as important as ever and her general fabulousness is as fabulous as ever. It will never feel good to be without you Ms Wigmore. (Jo Michelmore)