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.

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Album Review: Old Mate – It Is What It Is

Last night, I copped a lift, one of life’s simple pleasures. There isn’t anything better than thinking you’re going to have to trek it, and then someone lets you hop in the car and turn an hour trip of nail-biting depression into 15 minutes of jovial, four-wheeled harmony. Whilst in said car, I chucked on a song by Bitch Prefect, the excellent “Bad Decisions”. And the car fell silent. But it wasn’t an awkward, painful silence. It was a silence in which a simple song was appreciated in simple silence. That’s the best thing about basic music. There’s no expectation, no need to catapult and overwhelm everything. Whilst a wailing guitar solo and banshee cries can be exhilarating, sometimes all you need is a broken guitar, and an equally broken soul to hush you. Fuck love, the sobs of a shattered soul are way more realistic.

That’s what you’re getting on Old Mate’s debut LP. It’s the solo project from Pat Telfer, a member of the aforementioned Bitch Prefect. But whilst Bitch Prefect almost confine themselves to scratchy, de-tuned musings, Old Mate is more diverse in the offerings, the seafood platter to BP’s BBQ. Also, whereas Bitch Prefect like to keep things at least a little upbeat, and inject some morbid humour, Telfer is as depressed as they come. Someone, give the guy a hug.

Now, that might sound a little forward. I mean, I don’t know the guy. How can I make assumptions about his life, and about what he’s trying to say? Mr. Telfer could be a bounding lil’ ball of energy for all I know. But the Adelaide aesthetic is there, and it sings loudly, especially in the lyrics. On “February'”, Telfer opens up, “Home’s where I’ll be, if you’re not next to me. I’ll stop myself from drinking beer. I’m holding in my tears…I’m lonely, but only without you”, as miserable, rain-soaked cowboy strums resound with funeral-esque finality.

And then there’s “Requesting Permission”, which has to be one of the finest songs released from a purely Australian perspective. It showcases Telfer as a modern day Paul Kelly, a poet with a guitar, a knack for putting the guilt in our throats, and creating a chokehold of emotions. “Every day I go away, and  I wish that I could stay. Every now and then, I find that I’m going out of my mind”, points to a guy who’s tearing his hair out, and knows that he’ll never find a solution. He’s stuck in a rut, a trap of his own creation, and getting out of there is going to be harder than breaking Han Solo out of Jabba’s Palace. Throw that curveball of truth next to a brilliantly simple guitar solo, an alien whistle and more wistful regret than that shot of Patrick Swayze looking out at the Byron Bay surf in Point Break.

There are a few kinks to be worked through on the album however, namely the constant changing of tones. Although that does make for a constantly evolving record, it makes things messier than the results of giving a 2 year old a week-old, unrefrigerated chilli con carne. Don’t get me wrong, this album has more heart and originality packed into it than the majority of records, but there’s a bit of a lack of clarity and cohesiveness to the middle of the record.

However, maybe that’s the point. This isn’t a professional record. Rick Rubin didn’t twist knobs with his tentacle beard, and there wasn’t a guest verse from A$AP Rocky. It’s a vibrant mix of noise, sadness, confusion, and self-defeatism. There is so much going on in Pat Telfer’s brain, and the bloke has condensed it into something that reeks of originality. He’s taken sadness, something that at this point seems passe, and he’s made it interesting and gut-wrenching again. Like a car-lift, Old Mate is a simple pleasures that releases a lot of pain and stress. Who needs shit like Morrissey or Robert Smith when you’ve got Old Mate?

‘It Is What It Is’ is out now in SDZ Records, and the launch is happening on October 18th at Black Wire Rekkids. Supports from The Friendsters and Ghastly Spats.

New: Old Mate – Requesting Permission

‘Old Mate’ is hands down the greatest expression of all time. Like, I mean, ever. It can be used as a genuine expression of devotion, a solidification of friendship, or it can be used as a sardonic barb to kill self-esteem. I think Old Mate (the band/solo project of Bitch Prefect member Pat Telfer) combines a little bit of both. Their single “Requesting Permission” combines both a sense of dread with the uniquely Australian emotion of being down and out, and being okay about that.

Lazy guitar strums, intergalactic alien warbles and scratched snares provide the background for Telfer’s incredibly morose lyrics. “Requesting Permission” aesthetically sits somewhere around Kitchen’s Floor and Twerps , mushing the two together for the ultimate I-feel-like-shit song.

But by far, the greatest thing about this track is its natural narrative build. “Requesting Permission” starts as a morbid mumble, grows in strength, and then bursts on the line “Every now and then I find, I am going out of my…”, before spiralling downward with the help of a shockingly good guitar solo. The mantra of “Every day I go away” is the perfect way to close the song, almost like its showing a guy that has lost complete and utter faith, but has only now come to a conclusion of hopelessness.

Just like the band name Old Mate, this song is a tale so aligned to Australian culture, of being kicked when your down, and becoming utterly used to it. The fact that Old Mate manages to take that story and turn it into something completely understandable to the average human being, makes this track something worthy of being ‘Song of the Year’.