In the hubbub of year-end lists we’re keeping it simple with 10 great tracks released over the past 12 months. This list does not attempt to be definitive in any way, it is simply a bunch of great tunes created by some amazingly talented artists. If you’re not familiar with any of the music listed, do yourself a favour and give it a spin, consume it in your preferred method and hold it forever in your heart/mind/soul/other intangible essence incomprehensible to human beings.
Mere Women – Big Skies
Mere Women’s album Big Skies is a more sombre affair than its predecessor, the darker mood giving their distinct brand of post-punk a rich new depth. While tracks like ‘Tin Rooves’ and ‘Curse’ saw the band exploring a more spacious, restrained sound, the title track finds them in full flight. Murky guitars, driving rhythm, and a commanding vocal delivery which charts the full gamut of Amy Wilson’s range, from brooding baritone to urgent caterwaul.
Kirin J Callinan – Friend of Lindy Morrison
Kirin J Callinan delivered (at long last) his divisive second album, Bravado. Equally complex and simple, Bravado was an assured statement from an artist not content with repeating himself. While the tongue-in-cheek humour throughout the album makes it difficult to embrace at times, there are moments of sheer brilliance which transcend any questions of the artist’s intent.
‘Friend of Lindy Morrison’ is a stone cold classic. The music could be ripped from a 1980’s pop songbook with Callinan and guest Weyes Blood trading vocals in spine-tingling fashion.
Yon Yonson – Pattern Recognition 1
Yon Yonson’s quirky and eclectic blend of electronic indie pop hit a new high point with the release of their cracking album Yes No Sorry earlier this year.
One of the edgier moments from the album comes in the form of ‘Pattern Recognition 1’, with its sleek synth bass line and tough hip-hop beat giving Andrew Kuo a chance to deliver a punchy vocal performance.
Lovely head – Show Up (Rebel Yell remix)
This dream pairing fully lived up to expectation with Rebel Yell transforming Lovely Head’s dark experimental pop track ‘Show Up’ into a pulsing industrial stomper.
Rebel Yell and Lovely Head have each had a pretty flawless strike rate to date and the future certainly looks promising for both artists.
Shady nasty – Upwardsbound
Equally influenced by post-punk, hardcore, and jazz, Sydney-trio Shady Nasty make heavy, cathartic music punctuated by the searing vocals of front man, Kevin Stathis.
Lead single, ‘Upwardsbound’, is more melodic than the rest of the trio’s self-titled EP. Cascading guitar, crawling tempo and dramatic, soaring vocals. Exciting stuff from these newcomers.
Phile – Deadzone
Phile are Sydney duo Hannah Lockwood and Gareth Psaltis, whose harrowing techno creations are not for the faint-hearted.
‘Deadzone’, the final track from their self-titled EP, begins with a squelching, syncopated acid rhythm, but just as you start to get comfortable you enter the darkness. Sinister synth chords envelop the rhythm providing a suitably haunting end to the duo’s killer debut.
Total Control – Laughing at the System 2
In the death throes of the year Total Control managed to sneak a new (mini) album into the world. Much like 2014’s Typical System, the band continue to laugh in the face of conformity jumping from insistent post-punk, to modular synth experiments, to more conventional (in Total Control terms) garage rock.
The album is bookended by alternate versions of the title track, the opener a brash cacophony of clanging chimes, fuzzy guitar and synthetic drums. But it’s the album closer which finds the band at their scuzzy best. Urgent, scrappy and loads of fun.
Jikuroux – Cradle Bay
Hot on the heels of her Ruptured Pulse EP, Sydney producer Jikuroux aka Jess Lavelle returns with another solid effort on Cradle Bay.
There is something exotic about the music of Jikuroux, the melodic elements coming off like some mutant new-age music, while the hard-hitting beats keep it firmly rooted in the modern-day bass music landscape.
The title track captures this fusion nicely with sharp synth stabs and tight rhythms counterbalanced by a smooth melodic undertone.
Setec – Cotton Bones
The first single from Setec’s forthcoming album (due out next year) further refines the delicate intimacy of his debut, Brittle As Bones.
The melancholic ‘Cotton Bones’ opens on a minimal piano loop, with spectral echoes dispersed among pitter-patter rhythms. The song gradually blooms into a bright singalong moment, as vocal layers are added atop a typically gauzy and nostalgic sample.
Ptwiggs – Exuviae
Ptwiggs’ debut EP, Purge, is a provocative and uncompromising take on bass music. A white-knuckle ride through fierce sonic territory.
The second track, ‘Exuviae’, steps up the anxiety factor with a propulsive urgency that could soundtrack some futuristic chase scene, a scene where there is little reprieve for the poor soul being chased.