Top 20 Australian Songs of 2014

It’s that time of year, when I sell my soul, and conform to the expectation that all blogs, no matter how small and shitty (of which Soundly Sounds is both) needs to compile an end of year list, summarising all the great things that have been accomplished by the fair artists of the year. Now, if you’ve ever been on this blog, or heard words out of my mouth, it becomes apparent that I have a habit of hyperbole, and describing everything as “my favourite” or “the best thing ever”. Well, now it’s time to pay up, and show what I, King Deadshit, reckons is the best of the best this year.

Fuck, this shit is really hard. One of the hardest things I’ve had to do. As opposed to the Best Videos of the Year, and the Best International Records,  this list has taken me days to put together, as I’ve been more indecisive than a newspaper editor trying to decided the front page between a story in which David Beckham and Ryan Gosling have constructed the world’s most beautiful baby, or an exclusive interview with Clive Palmer’s fourth chin. A toughie, that’s for sure.

Anyway, here are the picks of the year – Aussie songs that have made people turn their heads, jaws drop in astonishment, and allow for spines to be frozen over in fascinated horror. The list was torturing me, so it’s been lengthened to 20. Also, songs that were just released as singles got preference over stuff that was on albums, simply because those are coming in the next list! OH FUCK, CAN YOU EVEN WAIT THAT LONG, OR ARE YOU GOING TO CRYOGENICALLY FREEZE YOURSELF UNTIL IT COMES OUT, WALT DISNEY STYLE?

Honourable Mentions: Step-Panther (Parallel) Solid Dad (Kewl December), Jack Ladder (Her Hands), Andras & Oscar (Looking Back), Babaganouj (Bluff), Disgusting People (I Wanna Ctrl Alt Delete My Life), The Stevens (Thirsty Eye), GL (Won’t You See), Wives (Buried), Day Ravies (Hickford Whiz) Dead Set Ledger (Buddy’s Kickin’ Screwies on the SCG).

20. Miss Destiny – The One

A lambasting surge of sound from Melbourne’s Miss Destiny, this song is like Courtney Love being thrown in a blender whilst The Donnas and The Darkness throw down.

19. White Hex – Paradise

White Hex released a badass synth record earlier this year, ‘Gold Nights’. Dangerous seduction was the game, the kind that Michael Douglas would engage in, and White Hex won. Jimi Kritzler, former Slug Guts member, also released a fantastic book this year, “Noise In My Head”, but “Paradise” makes a case for being Kritzler’s no. 1 achievement of 2014.

18. Bachelor Pad – Fried

Bachelor Pad’s garage rock enthusiasm is irrepressible – it is actually impossible to stop them. Sounding like the bratty, cone-smoking kid of Ty Segall, “Fried” is as infectious as those warts that have started collecting themselves between your legs.

17. Postblue – Ugly

Poison City Records had a fuckn’ year didn’t they? Between the release of The Smith Street Band, The Bennies and re-releasing old Screamfeeder records, they found time for Postblue’s “Ugly”. On a record that’s full of affable, catchy rock tunes, Postblue especially stuck out on “Ugly”, an early Jebediah track that went through the digestive system of Steve Albini.

16. Total Giovanni – Human Animal

“Human Animal” makes me do weird things with my arms, but I like it.The bastard child between Daft Punk and LCD Soundsystem, Total Giovanni have a feverish cult of personality surrounding their music. It’s alluring, funky-as-swinging-leather-pants music that PT Anderson wished was around for the soundtrack of ‘Boogie Nights’.

15. Nun – Evoke the Sleep

Easily the most ferocious synth-punk released this year, Melbourne’s Nun provided a storming debut LP earlier this year. “Evoke the Sleep” makes the case for these guys to be considered amongst the likes of DEVO and Depeche Mode.

14. Old Mate – Requesting Permission

On the more heart-breaking end of the scale, there’s Old Mate. A member of Bitch Prefect, Pat Telfer’s “Requesting Permission” will make you start jabbering about all the random dust that’s flown in within the last 30 seconds.

13. Hockey Dad – I Need A Woman

South Coast-muzzas Hockey Dad provide a slab of feel-good surf rock that’s lathered affectionately in pop and fuzz, drives school-girls crazy, and is really fucking great. Hockey Dad just need to stop wearing their damn trousers so low, and they’ll be well on their way to success.

12. Dorsal Fins – Monday Tuesday

Pop music so good Madonna would want to rip it off. Beginning with urgent piano and stomping bass, Dorsal Fins turn things into up a dramatic notch for an 80’s singalong straight from the stolen brain of Debbie Harry.

11. Bad//Dreems – Dumb Ideas 

When the opening notes of “Dumb Ideas” ring out, it becomes fairly obvious that Bad//Dreems are going to provide another stomper of a track. A flippant flipping off, “Dumb Ideas” is a confident, surly piece of rock that Angus Young would want to call his own.

10. Liam Kenny – I’m The Ocean 

Fairs fair, when you’re covering Neil Young, you’re headed straight to the top of a best-of list. But when Liam Kenny (Peak Twins, Bitch Prefect, The Friendsters, Roamin’ Catholics) does it, it turns into a squalling guitars, and heart-clutched vocals.

9. Tempura Nights – R.I.P Chix

Brisbane’s on a roll right now, with Velociraptor, DZ Deathrays, Babaganouj and Major Leagues all kicking major goals this year with releases and singles. But Tempura Nights, a lil’ suprgroup, kicked the most amount of ass with “R.I.P Chix” a sweet garage sprinkled with Deal sister guitar and the kind of head noddin’ you’d expect from a Brissy pop band.

8. Peter Bibby – Hates My Boozin’

Peter Bibby is a moper amongst mopers, a bloke who paints his own portrait with a bottle constantly in one hand and an impossibly perfect rolled cigarette in the other, carefree and full of whimsy on the outside, but burning up within.

7. King Single – Restart Newstart Allowance

A certain Bare Grillz/Lenin Lennon member changed things up by providing gorgeous guitar-pop and glassy drum sounds that create only one reaction in all within earshot: *SWOON*.

6. Richard In Your Mind – Hammered

Richard In Your Mind say it best when they swing drunkenly upon the line “Me and my baby get hammered in the daytime”. From their latest record ‘Ponderosa’, it’s a honeyed trip into the tastily warped senses of Richard In Your Mind.

5. The Harpoons – Unforgettable

As far as breaking up goes, no one seems to have hit it on the head harder than The Harpoons. What a bunch of sultry crooners! It’s a jam that’s part Caribou, part TLC, and part doe-eyed wistfulness that feeds upon your heart like a piranha of romantic longing.

4. FLOWERTRUCK – I Wanna Be With You

Speaking of romantic longing, the best band that seemingly came out of nowhere was FLOWERTRUCK. Bursting forth from the same scene that’s brought Big White, High-tails, and New Lovers, FLOWERTRUCK make the descriptor ‘infectious’ cower in fear. They’re Sydney’s own version of Blank Realm. If David Byrne and Bryan Ferry exploded into fit of joyous crooning, amid slashing puffs of synth and guitar, it’d be about as great as this.

3. Donny Benet – The Edge. Feat Kirin J Callinan

Donny Benet. The man. The legend. The myth. There ain’t nobody like this feller in the universe, mainly because there can only be one moustache-weilding, impressively groomed prince of seduction in the world. It’s a Highlander thing. On, “The Edge” Kirin J Callinan and the Don do battle over five minutes of exhausting sexual healing.

2. Weak Boys – Hangovers

“Hangovers” sort of set the staple for what my 2014 was, along with many other budding attendees of whatever Inner West domain Weak Boys have been fortunately dominating. I’ve listened to this song more times than I’ve asked for a jug of Resch’s at the Lansdowne. My intimidatingly large beer belly nods in agreement.

1. Constant Mongrel – New Shapes

In 2014, no single came close to the grisly terror imagined on Constant Mongrel’s “New Shapes”. Melbourne’s most ferocious unleash a bass-driven hellscape that indulges primal and carnal desires. As far as finale’s go, Constant Mongrel went for an ending more taut, nail-biting and mentally draining than the conclusion of ‘Heat’. A blood-caked knuckle-duster ride into a starved post-punk oblivion, “New Shapes” is the kind of thing post-apocalyptic hero would throttle in their car as they ravaged a scorned landscape in survival mode.

New: Cedie Janson – Light Curve

It’s been a while since you had a sonic head-fuck in which your mind is swallowed by a black hole of lush sound, right? Like, ‘Interstellar’ was meant to appease that scenario, but it didn’t really.

Enter Cedie Janson, member of Naked Maja, and collaborator with Workshop, a Brisbane’s best post-punk hero since Bernard Fanning. “Light Curve”, his debut release, is a strange orgy of melted sounds, acidic and metallic , moulding themselves around your head in a form that isn’t natural. Damn fine, an epileptic mixture of threatening and calm.

New: Plum – Pavement

Emerging as a solo project from The Cathy’s, a Sydney band that wants to re-create the sounds of Santa’s Sleigh with guitars, Plum has a name as simple and tasty as the music that comes forth from the project.

“Pavement” is as close to the Elliot Smith renaissance as any Australian artist has come this year. There’s a chorus that goes, “Let the pavement be your friend”, which is damn suitable for a song that deflates you, and forces you into a reclining position. It’s mopier than an afternoon with Eeyore, and has all the drenched, grey beauty of a model out in the rain.

New: Modest Mouse – Lampshades On Fire

Modest Mouse are the elder statesmen of indie rock – not quite godfathers like Yo La Tengo, but too old to be considered ‘upstarts’, like Arcade Fire and Dashboard Confessional. Whatever, Modest Mouse are often held up as a band that suck, but people who say they suck haven’t heard ‘The Lonesome Crowded West’ or ‘No One’s First And Your Next’.

However, as far as “Lampshades On Fire” goes, it’s pretty standard Modest Mouse fare. I was speaking in cliches before, but at this point Modest Mouse are kind of just parodying themselves. “Lampshades On Fire” isn’t bad, per se, but it begins and ends like most Modest Mouse songs do, with Isaac Brock having a grumble, stringent guitars and drums that thwak like sheets of bamboo,

Top 10 International Albums of 2014

It’s that time of year, when I sell my soul, and conform to the expectation that all blogs, no matter how small and shitty (of which Soundly Sounds is both) needs to compile an end of year list, summarising all the great things that have been accomplished by the fair artists of the year. Now, if you’ve ever been on this blog, or heard words out of my mouth, it becomes apparent that I have a habit of hyperbole, and describing everything as “my favourite” or “the best thing ever”. Well, now it’s time to pay up, and show what I, King Deadshit, reckons is the best of the best this year.

With part one of the ‘Best of 2014′ thankfully out of the way (musings on the best music videos of 2014 this way), it’s time to turn our attention to the best international releases of 2014. As one ARIA red carpet attendee so accurately put it, Australian music sucks shit, and the only good music comes straight from our brothers n’ sisters of the USA! YEAH! ‘MURICA. And look, whilst The Clean and Cosmic Psychos didn’t release anything new this year, there have been some great releases. From Flying Lotus, to Caribou, to Sharon Van Etten, a wealth of talent was dumped on our ears in 2014. Here’s the best:

Honourable Mentions: Ty Segall (‘Manipulator’), Flying Lotus (‘You’re Dead!’), Schoolboy Q (‘Oxymoron’), Sharon Van Etten (‘Are We There’), The War on Drugs (‘Lost in the Dream’), Mogwai (‘Rave Tapes’), Ex Hex (‘Rips’), Golden Pelicans (‘S/T 12″).

10. Caribou – Our Love

A big toss-up between this record and Ty Segall’s ‘Manipulator’. Both are extensive leaps forward from established artists with near perfect track records. But it was Ty Segall’s inability to self-edit his 17-long tracklist that pushed Caribou into adoration. ‘Our Love’ is swirling, mystifying romance that is impossible to not get caught up in. Plus, “Can’t Do Without You” is a smoothie of Taylor Swift’s pop supreme, Spiritualized’s piercing gaze, and the best production this side of ‘Endtroducing…’.

Caribou is coming to Aus in February for Laneway, and a show at the Sydney Opera House, February 3.

9. The Men – Tomorrow’s Hits

2014 has been the year of The War on Drugs, and whilst ‘Lost in the Dream’ is a superb album, it seems unfairly raised above another working class band. But then again, that’s the curse of The Men. For too long, they have been serving up stone cold cult classics, from ‘Leave Home’, to ‘Open Your Heart’. On ‘Tomorrow’s Hits’, they almost completely erase their sludgy-punk/noisy past, and embrace country and the kind of rock ‘n’ roll that was deemed raunchy, but acceptable in the 1950’s. You can sing the praises of how great the lyrics and progression of “Red Eyes” and “Under the Pressure” are, but in turn, you’d have to say that about “Settle Me Down”, and “Different Days”. As far as Bruce Springsteen-love goes, The War on Drugs take the pain, but The Men preserve the joy. (Album Review)

8. Todd Terje – It’s Album Time

Speaking of joy, nothing came even close to the maniacal fun of Todd Terje’s debut album, a perfectly honed magnum opus. ‘It’s Album Fun’ seems like something Dan Aykroyd  and Bill Murray would’ve cooked up in the 80’s, but only if Barry Gibb had possessed their souls.  Deep, sultry cuts of synth-led party jams, Todd Terje never misses a beat. What’s more, he occasionally ramps things up into a sentimental overload, with the Bryan Ferry-assisted tear jerker “Johnny and Mary”. But never fear, Terje’s classic ability to spice things into a frothing paste of swooning, electronic, Cantina-band-esque lushness  is always around the corner, as “Inspector Norse”, “Delorean Dynamite” and “Strandbar” easily attest to.

7. Liars – Mess

Once again, very hard to pick between Liars’ new record and Mogwai’s brilliant ‘Rave Tapes’. Both records had a hard-edged zealot-ness to them, but Liars simply harnessed and appropriated it more. Liars showed they weren’t afraid to plunge into the obtuse, as their insanity and demented nature ramped to new heights. Their music has always bordered on paranoid, but now it became frighteningly so, a schizoid mixture of frightening, alien sounds munching on gnashing lyrics. For sheer animated terror and cartoonish slasher value, Liars’ ‘Mess’ was a helluva album. (Album Review)

6. Die! Die! Die! – SWIM

Hailing from New Zealand, it feels like this shouldn’t be an Internationally Acclaimed Album (TM), but rather one of our own. Alas, New Zealand have different accents and laws, and as such, we can’t claim an act like Die! Die! Die! as one of our own in the same way we can with Russell Crowe.

On their fifth record, Die! Die! Die! maintained the ferocity and biting cynicism that would seem appropriate for a band with their name. The friction caused between the power trio that is Andrew Wilson, Michael Logie and Michael Prain is enough to power a town to the same capacity of a nuclear reactor. As soon as someone can figure out how to harness this, the global energy crisis will be over. Until then, let’s just enjoy the beautifully pure punk explosion that is ‘SWIM’. (Album Review)

5. Shellac – Dude Incredible

The almighty Shellac returned this year, and delivered a brutal heap of music that hate-shamed most of the rock music released this year. Powered as always by Bob Weston’s inhumanly powerful bass, Steve Albini’s serrated lyrics and Todd Trainer’s consistently vile drumming, ‘Dude Incredible’ is a bile-spewing, looming work of the Gods of the music industry. You want affirmation in a world full of 5SOS and neutered indie acts that think a fuzz pedal is a nickname for an electric razor? Chuck on ‘Dude Incredible’, and allow yourself to whisper those same words over and over again, as each crushing song belies your idea of awesome. (Album Review)

4. Eagulls – Eagulls

Depressingly good, Eagulls have painted a picture of a visceral England so much more brilliantly than any Arctic Monkeys record ever could. Their debut self-titled is raw power, in the Stooges sense of the word. It pulsates and breathes, each song a punch in the guts whilst a bellowing drill sergeant insists you surge onwards. It is a sensational experience to put on this Eagulls record, a face-melting treatment of pop smudged and bludgeoned by teeth-baring, white-knuckled frenzy. (Album Review)

Eagulls are coming to Aus in February for Laneway Festival, and play a show at OAF on Friday 30th January.

3. King Tuff – Black Moon Spell

Probably the most perfect party rock record since Judas Priest’s ‘British Steel’ (“BREAKING THE LAW, BREAKING THE LAW, DUH DUH”). Coincidentally, “Headbanger” begins with a line that swoons over a girl’s record collection: “You had Sabbath, and Priest and Number of the Beast, it was heavy metal perfection”. Indeed ‘Black Moon Spell’ excels at just being a really fun record to rock out to. From the Marc Bolan-isms to the Slash-levels of gratuitous guitar solos, King Tuff revels in an  unparalleled love of classic rock with a modern flair, laying down the tastiest jams since Ozzy was in Sabbath. (Album Review)

2. Spoon – They Want My Soul

There’s a reason Spoon are the most consistently rated band of all time – they’re really fucking good at being an indie rock band. Believe it or not, being an indie band is hard. People, like me, will hate you for no other reason other than you have a trendy haircut, which means YOU’RE MUSIC SUCKS SHIT! But with Spoon, there’s nothing to hate; Britt Daniel simply aches with great songwriting. Catchy melodies snared by heartbroken lyrics on “Rent I Pay”, “Do You” and “New York Kiss” are too much. (Album Review)

1. Cloud Nothings – Here And Nowhere Else

Ahhh, Cloud Nothings. Over the course of four albums, they’ve gone from a solo project of fun, if not particularly memorable, lo-fi pop jams, to throttling, fearsome snaps of exhilaration. When the Steve Albini-produced ‘Attack on Memory’ came out a few years ago, everyone was thinking that there was no way it could be topped. Enter ‘Here and Nowhere Else’, a challenger with balls and a willingness to show them (that sounds fucked up).

The lyrics of ‘Here And Nowhere Else’ are deceptively simple, but nonetheless powerful. They’re bolstered even more so by some of the most brilliantly scathing music of the last few years. But most memorable is the way Dylan Baldi, a bearded and bespectacled fellow of an unassuming nature, belts and inflects his words with whipping fury. There is something in his throat which carries through onto record that is completely unexplainable. Pair that with vicious ability and concentrated aggression that wouldn’t be out-of-place on a  Fugazi record, and you’ve got Cloud Nothings at their jaw-dropping finest. (Album Review)

New: Shit Narnia – Claremont Boy

“Claremont Boy” is the debut single from Perth’s Shit Narnia, and begins with blood-curdling screams. It then divulges into something you’d probably expect from a band called Shit Narnia – putridly good punk. Fuelled by a hellraising bass line, like something pulled from Spawn, Shit Narnia spew a snarling monologue on the assumedly pieces of shit that call Claremont home. Look, I’ve never been there, but “Claremont Boy” makes a day at Stereosonic look decent. Or maybe it’s just a really bitter guerilla anti-tourism campaign from Mosman Park.

New: Chook Race – Dentists

Chook Race, after years of teasing the minds of everyone within earshot with perfect two minute jangle-pop sensations, have announced their debut LP { wait, whilst people applaud }

Their first track is “Dentists”, a tight number that sounds like Chook Race have been dusting off their Flying Nun Records. The Clean has fingerprints on this, what with jangle sounds bolstered with lyrics like “You’re always so inviting, but I just feel like having fondue”. Those lyrics aren’t irreverent, those are the words of Camper Van Beethoven from a parallel universe.

New: Dick Diver – Waste the Alphabet

Earlier this year, at one of the best gigs of the year (more on that later) Dick Diver headlined a mini-festival of enormous proportions. Dick Diver are fantastic, but are they fantastic enough to be memorable amongst a day of performances from the likes of Day Ravies, The Ocean Party, Holy Balm and Dag?

Long story short, yes Dick Diver were everything you could hope for in a band and more. They’ve got songs that present suburban meandering as the the most gorgeous thing in the world. They played “Waste the Alphabet” at both shows, and the song was an easy standouts, glistening and brave colloquialism charm mingling with bristled guitars. On record, the song shines even better, because you can play it over and over again instead of Dick Diver launching into the next song of their set.

“Waste the Alphabet” is the first pop masterpiece to emerge from ‘Melbourne, Florida”, Dick Diver’s third album, which will be out in March. That’s about it for this week’s edition of “Fuck Yes, That’s Heaps Good News”.

New Electronic Music: PILERATS + Oisima + Stax Osset

Serious talent packed into a whole bunch of new releases for you to read/listen to.

Pilerats – Rat Pack Vol #2

Pilerats are the all-conquering lords of electronic music, surveying their domain of popularity from a home base in Perth. They’ve covered artists like KUCKA, Indian Summer, Hayden James, Basenji, and pretty much any enormous and talented electronic artist you’ve been enjoying over the past forever.

Earlier this year, they released a compilation of content that introduced Australia to ODESZA, Ryan Hemsworth, and Young Franco, amongst others, on their record label, which has seen fantastic releases from Sable and Willow Beats. They’ve unveiled round #2 just before Christmas, and there’s a whole bunch of treats in here to feast on.

Sable’s “Burfday” is a guilty-pleasure complex wrapped in sirens and piping hot steam, Moon Boots provide a sultry, minimalist disco outing for fans of Bonobo, but who need a bit more flair, with “There’s No Love”, and Catlips provides a track that will jerk your limbs harder than any Disclosure track could.

Although more hit-and-miss, and with less star power than their previous compilation, Pilerats still know who to pick for talent better than anyone, and prove why you’re better off chucking this on the stereo at your next party, rather than letting your mate who goes by the name DJ iTitties to massacre a pair of decks.

Oisima – Sun of Truth feat. Mei Saraswati

Adelaide’s bearded master of fusion is back, kicking into a sensual new groove with the help of Perth vocalist Mei Saraswati. Whilst her vocals are laid-back and fashionable, Oisima’s beat takes the stage, shuffling kegs of flutes and saxophone mingling amongst jungle atmosphere. It’s like The Jungle Book got a remix.

Stax Osset – Symmetry

“Symmetry” has been out for two weeks, but it’s been getting pumped on the speakers for that entire duration. It’s got great vocals, sultry romantic Grimes-esque pop, but with pipes on par with something as intimate and frank as Banks crossed with Karen O at her most revealing. The production is thrilling, bolstering the track to closed-eyes, flickering smile, hands in the air levels of tranquility.

New: The Gooch Palms – Trackside Daze

After creating some of the most brutally loveable performances of the year, with shows at The Lansdowne, Oxford Art Factory and Fishbowl shattering expectations and OH&S standards, The Gooch Palms have announced that they’re fucking off. Being one of Australia’s most lively bands, and compromised of one’n’only characters, Kat and Leroy will be sorely missed.

But they’re not pissing away without leaving a few skidmarks first. They’ve announced a new 7″, with the first track “Trackside Daze” promising itself as a stadium belter that Cheap Trick forgot to record in the 80’s. Although Gooch Palms have their trademark speedball guitar and thumping tom ‘n’ snare combo, you can definetely see Robin Zander throwing his hair every which way to “Trackside Daze”‘s affirming chorus.

If The Gooch Palms are truly leaving us behind, at least it’s with the knowledge that America will be getting its assumptions of the Aussie garage band shattered beyond repair. If The Gooch Palms can continue in the vein of “Trackside Daze”, then America is sorted for pants-shittingly good music.

Make sure you catch El Goocherama at their final shows in Australia ever. 20th of December at Brighton Up Bar (with Bowl Cut), MATES at The Lansdowne (with Palms, Straight Arrows, Bad//Dreems,  DJ Sunburnt Ginger) and the 21st of February at Newtown Social Club.