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.

Advertisements

Album Review: Liam Kenny – A Kenny For Your Thoughts

Liam Kenny, of the stellar bands Bitch Prefect, Peak Twins, Silly Joel & the Candymen and The Friendsters, has released his first solo record. In the great tradition of Saturday night karaoke/OD’ing on saki wine, he has re-iterpretated underrated classics from the likes of Leonard Cohen, Billy Idol, and Bob Dylan, amongst others. And when I write re-interpret, I mean soulfully collapse and rebuild, and when I write underrated classics, I mean songs I wish someone had introduced me to a hell of while earlier.

Cover bands are a strange anomaly, in that they can either be a cheap way of watching someone else do a better job than the real thing could do themselves (hats off to SPOD’s Bon Voyage).  Or it can be a depressing reminder that your local pub is stocked with the desperate lameshits trying to reclaim their youth by repeatedly yelling “Born to Be Wild” into a microphone like a wildebeest has clamped its jaw around their genitals. And then, there’s that weird grey area where someone re-interprets a classic for the better, something that bands have managed to do really well sometimes (like here and here) or fuck up completely other times.

But here, Liam Kenny does a fine job of taking songs and reworking them into completely soul-shattering ballads. He’s always had a very diverse body of work, whether slyly thumping drums with sunnies adorned to slimy punk, or cranking rickety guitars to gutter-observations of Australian lifestyle, and spitting rhymes about how all music sucks. But on ‘A Kenny For Your Thoughts’, he flits between styles as organically as our government can embarrass our nation. The fact that he’s picked less obvious artists, instead of gravitating to the usual “Hallelujah” and “My Sharona”, makes it all the more worthwhile.

The thing that seemed to get a lot of people (including my stumpy, ginger self) excited was Kenny’s take on “Avalanche” by Leonard Cohen. Featuring saxophone by Al Montfort (Total Control, The UV Race, all the bands ever), the track is six-minutes of industrial, back-breaking terror, scorned guitars gnashing the flesh from your ears. It’s hollow and terrifying, staring into the eye of the beast whilst he devours your soul. It’s a mesh of colour and flavour, grinded to an almost incomprehensible carnivorous version from the original.

However, “Avalanche” and its tumultuous face-chewing is the outlier of the record. The rest of the record is devoted to mostly calmer, regarded interpretations. There’s the dainty sci-fi of “Eyes Without A Face”, a plodding unsure cover of Billy Idol, and an off-kilter “It’s All Over Now (Baby Blue)” which will make you soul crack faster than Kenny’s voice does. That finale makes you want to crawl into a fetal position and just listen to this trickling synth-laced track until you turn into the ghoul from Tales From the Crypt.

In saying all this, the themes of each song remain intact in the hands of Liam Kenny. The opener of Neil Young’s “I’m the Ocean” still retains all the hurt and power as Young had in his crackling 1995 original. The slow-build into schizophrenic noise territory just accentuates the ideas of being misplaced, and Kenny’s ability to thrust into each lyric makes them stand out just as much as when Neil Young was doing them in the first place. Whilst Kenny has taken creative liberties, he never removes the original ida from any song.

This Friday night, when you’re counting down the days until NRL season starts again, and you’re pounding a Reschs, look at the local Fleetwood Mac cover band. Then think back to what Liam Kenny has done on this LP. In his own unassuming way, he has delivered one hell of a varied, and worthy debut from such an accomplished musician.

 

‘A Kenny For Your Thoughts’ available through it Records now.

New Weird Electronic: Bistro feat. Simo Soo + AFXJIM + Liam Kenny

There’s been a whole bunch of awesome weird electronic/production stuff released as of late, that’s like, heaps fucking good hey. So check it out harder than I check out my groceries for a long night of my favourite dish of Spaghetti-4-1 aka loneliness.

Bistro feat. Simo Soo

It’s hard not to become strangely enraptured in this single from Sydney beatsmith Bistro. It’s like Flying Lotus is having a panic attack after ingesting too many Vicodin, and completely flipped his lid. The production on here is fucking solid, a brick wall of static and piercing drum beats. Also, that chorus is going to get stuck in your head faster than a Madonna song.

Pair this damn flawless hip-hop track with a video that is part vibrantly haunted television ad, part Grim Reaper hanging out on your porch, and you’ve got something indescribably good. With mushy beats as infectious as this and a uniquely freaky video to go with it, these guys might have just risen straight to the top of Australian hip-hop’s wealthiest, such as  Milwaukee Banks and Silly Joel & the Candymen.

AFXJIM – Distant

Oh. AFXJIM. Like Aphex Twin, right? Actually, that’s kinda clever and/or cool. But if Aphex Twin dialled down the alerted schizophrenia, and actually took his pills and laid down on the calmdown couch, he might morph into a little something like his Sydney counterpart AFXJIM. The songs on here are sharp and expertly produced, sliced together to form a slinky smorgasbord of songs. The offerings differ wildly, from the worldly indie-rock of the title track, to the prickly “Requiem For A Broken Discoverer”, and the hazy “Autumn Diary”. AFXJIM’s ability to combine samples and music into something strange but bright is really quite excellent.

Liam Kenny – Avalanche

Like the song, Liam Kenny’s clip for “Avalanche” is a health hazard. It’ll suck you up and spit you out like you’re a jellybean flavour that it took a while to decide that it didn’t like. It’s cruel and cutthroat, set in a world where lines and knives adorn a table where a game of who-knows-the-fuck-what is taking place. And all the meanwhile, a bespectacled Liam Kenny stares on, shades on and ready to re-interpret classics like Leonard Cohen’s “Avalanche”.

New: Liam Kenny-Avalanche

Nothing can prepare you for this. Nothing. You could’ve just done battle with a robot Elton John whilst Rob Zombie cooked falafels to sell to a drunk John Malkovich who won’t stop calling his ex-girlfriends. You could have just come from that scenario, and yet you’ll still be floored by this song.

‘Avalanche’ if the debut single from Liam Kenny, who’s a member in a shitload of great bands: Bitch Prefect, Peak Twins, Roamin’ Catholics, Silly Joel & the Candymen and The Friendsters. You might be noticing that that’s a wide variety of genres, from guitar pop to screaming punk and even hip-hop. Well, that’s because Kenny is a man of diverse tastes. You can’t nail him down and pigeonhole him.

Which is why ‘Avalanche’ lurching, disturbing, paranoid feel comes as no surprise. Originally a Leonard Cohen song (yes, you read that right) Kenny has turned it into a screeching banshee cry of electronic music, something so harsh and undulating that the brown note gets hit at least three times in the space of its hypnotising six minutes. Featuring Dick Diver/The UV Race’s Al Montfort on sax, and Zond’s Justin Fuller, Kenny surrounds himself with the best possible company to create one of the most weathering pieces of music this side of Cthulhu bellowing in your ear.

The full covers album, ‘A Kenny For Your Thoughts’ comes out soon on it Records!