The Songs That Made My 2019 A Little Bit Less Dreadful

This year has been pretty stink. Personally, I’ve spent it unemployed, depressed and on regular occasions paralysed for a reason that my doctors haven’t yet been able to determine. So yeah, the fact that 2019 is almost in the bin is something that I’m pretty damn cool with.

Another way it has been not great is one that has plagued me for a couple of years now: I’m not as good at stumbling across new music as I used to be. The reason for this is a little bit easier to work out, since the original live music scene where I am currently living is… well, “isn’t” is probably a quicker way of putting it; and since I realised that I am officially too old for triple j, I’ve not had a radio station that I connect with enough to listen to long enough to regularly be exposed to new stuff.

All that, plus the fact I’m really just struggling to care about much at all at the moment means I’m not really in a seeking-out-the-new-and-exciting kind of headspace.

These facts aside, I’ve still managed to have a few pieces of new music really stick out to me over the last 12 months, which is nice, and so I wanted to tell you about them.

However, there are a few factors that mean I have to put in a bit of effort to share them with you. I don’t really use Spotify, so I don’t have one of those fun little infographics to share, and since most of these tunes don’t have the seal of approval of Drum Central in Ultimo, I’m not going to bother putting them in as votes in the Hottest 100, and therefore won’t have the resulting auto-compiled image to share on the socials.

But since both of those things are fun and easy content – and I’ve only posted on this blog twice this year – I figured that I’ll just do it my own way.

So here you go: Noni’s Funnest Insert-Number-Here Songs That Were Released in 2019 Or At Least I Heard Them For The First Time This Year Oh Shit Now The Title’s Too Long Shit Fuck Shit (Oh Well At Least I’m Not The Fuckwit Who Decided To Go On Holiday In Hawaii Because I Forgot I Was Prime Minister And That My Country Was On Fire).

Yeah, needs some polish. I’m sure I’ll have thought of something better by the time I post this.

Either way, here’s the rundown, in no particular order.

THE SONGS

“Hamish” – Jude Perl

Let’s be painfully honest here: we’ve all known a Hamish. Some of us have even had the misfortune of having a misguided crush on or relationship with one.

Jude Perl manages to not only completely encapsulate this kind of dude, she’s also crafted a song that is just bloody brilliant.

The chorus is 100% banger (most notably the golden line, “I liked you because you were… there”), the way she captures the moment of realisation that Hamish is a total dickhead is so incredibly true to life, and the video is just perfection, with a stellar performance from Broden Kelly of Aunty Donna notoriety.

I spotted this one on the recommendation of Matt Okine on Instagram, and from the first time I heard the synth gorgeousness of that chorus, I was hooked. I regularly catch myself singing it to myself.

It’s easily my song of the year.

“Dinner & Diatribes” – Hozier

Well, where do I start when it comes to Hozier? He has been my musical crush for the last year and a bit and I’m pretty sure it’s easy to see why. Tall, handsome, offensively talented and super into social justice? Be still, my beating heart! (Don’t be surprised if he comes up again in this list.)

He released his second album, Wasteland, Baby! in April, and while the critic in me feels that it’s not quite as all-killer-no-filler as his debut, it’s still full of incredible tracks that were quickly given a place in my high rotation list. The riff in this track in particular makes it stand out from the rest, but I also feel I need to point out how incredibly horny it is. It’s kind of like “Fast Friends” by Paul Dempsey, if the Something For Kate frontman had been quietly been concealing a significant boner. The massive drum line hits right in the guts/nethers, making this the sexiest song I’ve heard all year, and it was easily one of the highlights of his set when I saw him at the Sydney Opera House back in April.

As for the video? I’m not really certain what it all means, but I know that it’s the kind of text that would make a high school English teacher faint with delight at all that juicy symbolism.

“The Piss, The Perfume” – Hayley Mary

I’ve loved Hayley Mary’s band The Jezabels for a good… holy shit, ten years? And to be honest, when I heard she was releasing solo tunes, I had no idea what to expect, since I associate her voice so strongly with the intense drum work of Nik Kaloper (who is a certified freak on the skins).

When I heard this track, I was delighted: an unashamedly Australian rock song that harks back to the alt pub rock golden age of the 90’s, with a bittersweet love story and a title that perfectly sums up the smell and feel of the venues where this sort of music gets played. It’s a little bit Pretenders, a little bit Divinyls, and 100% danceable. (I also love Mary’s Bowie meets Chrissie Amphlett look in the video more than I can say.)

“This Is On You” – Maisie Peters

I don’t know if this was relentlessly advertised to anyone else on Instagram as much as it was to me, but I’m really glad it was, because I kept going, “Oh, I really like that snippet of chorus; I’ll have to check out the song later,” and then not following through. When I finally did, I was so glad that the tune stood up to my expectations. I love the contrast of Peters’ sweet voice with the anger in the lyrics, and the little “ooo’s” in the chorus. Plus, I’ve always been a sucker for songs by women telling their ex-partners to fuck off.

“Jungle Jungle” – Rufino & The Coconuts

I’ve been a fan of Rufino & The Coconuts for absolutely yonks, and have adored Rufino’s contributions to Mikelangelo & The Black Sea Gentlemen for even longer. This particular song was easily my favourite of all their tunes when I got to see them live, and I’d often been tempted to reference it in conversations when folks post photos of themselves in pith helmets among swathes of fake vines and other appropriately themed scenes, before realising that they likely had no idea what I was talking about.

Thankfully, Rufino and the Coconuts finally put out their debut album this year, and now I can link to this tune whenever I want. (Shaka-tooka-chaka.)

“Woman” – Clare Bowditch

Clare Bowditch is the kind of woman I wish I could be. To be an exquisite musician, broadcaster and now author: ah! What a wonder! (I think I’ve always had a bit of a crush on her too, to be frank, because she’s utterly gorgeous.)

The harmonies in this are divine, and the reflections on the (cis) female experience are poignant, uplifting and tragic at the same time. It took a little while for me to warm up to it, but now it feels like the loving hug I need most days.

“Tenderness” – Brendan Maclean

This track caught me by surprise one afternoon while I was writing. (Yes, I have been doing it on occasion, but you’re not going to see anything of it for some time yet.) While I’ve had this album on my computer for a while, I haven’t really had a chance to sit down and absorb it to the level I want to, however I have had the tracks on it in my shuffle playlist, and hearing this song properly for the first time was like a punch in the gut. The ache evident in Maclean’s vocal is heartbreaking, and the closing lines feel like something from a Joni Mitchell classic. There is no other word for it than “bittersweet”, but even that doesn’t seem to be strong enough for the feeling this song elicits. It feels like a cathartic cry, full of sorrow yet somehow tinged with relief. If there was any song in the world that seems like it just needs a gentle hug, it’s this one.

“Jackboot Jump” – Hozier

The only thing wrong with this song is its lack of a big chorus, because it really is a testament to our times that should be screamed from the rooftops at protests across the world. (Yes, Australia is no exception when it comes to the rise of authoritarianism, but I’m sure I’d just be preaching to the choir here.)

Once again, Hozier hits on a killer blues-rock riff, with the stripped back arrangement almost acting as a metaphor for how basic it should be to just stand up for what’s right. There’s anger in the drums and in the growl of the guitar, and almost a disdainful sneer in Hozier’s delivery directed at those in power, while somehow simultaneously communicating a sense of pleading and a call to arms to those who are both downtrodden, or just plain have a conscience. The intertwining of ire and optimism is really intriguing to me, just as much as the fact that Hozier managed to write, record and release this in the middle of an insane world tour supporting the album he’d released only a few months before. He’s already promised more new music in 2020, which blows my mind and delights me simultaneously. I hope he can tap into whatever it takes to write the next great protest song, because right now we need to raise as many voices and we can, and music is a unique way to do that.

It also contains the lyrics of the year: “It’s always corporate infrastructure over the structure of your face.”

“Pasta” – Angie McMahon

This is a very late addition to the list, because I literally found it hours before I started writing this entry, but I connected with it immediately. The opening line – “my bedroom is a disaster” – made me sit up and take notice straight away, because it perfectly described… well, me. Everything about this song (except the bit about the dog – ours is thankfully in very good health) feels like she’s taken my life right now and put it to music. I’ve had it on repeat for the few days it’s taken for me to get this baby out, and it still holds so much power for me, even though my bedroom isn’t quite as bad as it was when I first heard it. (It’s still not great, but I’m not afraid to let people in anymore.)

THE ALBUM THAT ISN’T EVEN OUT YET

[Unnamed and Unreleased Album] – The Burley Griffin

evan.jpg

Yeah, there’s nothing to embed here because, as you may have guessed from the subtitle, this album hasn’t hit the web yet. However, it turns out there are some perks to turning thirty, and one of them is that your incredibly talented friends send you their pre-release albums for you to listen to as a birthday present.

My mate Evan Buckley did just that, and oh my god, I’m so glad he did. I nearly wept the first time I listened to this album. It’s full of bittersweet folk tunes that are just divine. If you like Elliot Smith or Ryan Adams but are looking for someone who isn’t dead or accused of sexual misconduct, then bookmark The Burley Griffin Facebook page and gird your loins for a gorgeous collection of sweet, sorrowful ballads, with a little kick of an upbeat tune as a chaser.

YEAH, THESE WEREN’T RELEASED IN 2019 BUT I ONLY JUST FOUND THEM AND THEY’RE GREAT

“Good As Hell” – Lizzo

I was embarrassingly late to the Lizzo party, likely due to my aforementioned aversion to commercial radio at the moment. But as soon as I heard this tune, I knew I needed it in my life. I thought it was a recent release, but nope. Turns out there was at least good that came out of 2016, the year when it all started to fall apart: this song.

“Hungry & Horny” – Jude Perl

And this tune from Jude Perl was the other thing the 2016 gave us that was pretty damn good. A protest song against the beauty myth, it was featured in the body positive documentary Embrace, and came with a series of amazing videos critiquing the bullshit that is the marketing industry.

And yes, I used to work in marketing. I’m still allowed to call it bullshit.

Music From Saharan Cellphones – Various

I’ve flat out forgotten how I came across this 2011 release, but goddamn, it’s such a cool concept to start with; the sweet tunes are just a bonus.

Here’s an explanation of what it’s all about from the label’s bandcamp page, but the title is pretty self-explanatory:

In much of West Africa, cellphones are are used as all purpose multimedia devices. In lieu of personal computers and high speed internet, the knockoff cellphones house portable music collections, playback songs on tinny built in speakers, and swap files in a very literal peer to peer Bluetooth wireless transfer.

There’s a real mixture of sounds in here, mostly modern pop and electro, but there are RnB influences and a touch of the traditional to keep you on your toes. It’s a fascinating look into the sounds of a culture that seems almost as alien as another can get without being from another planet. It’s an incredibly eye-opening listen.

And that’s the lot: the soundtrack to my 2019. I think I can safely say that a lot of us are starting the new decade from behind the eight ball, but I sincerely hope that the year ahead is one of significant improvement, and that we all end up in a far better place than when we started. (I mean, I’m not optimistic, but it could happen.)

So instead of Happy New Year, I’m saying Fuck Off 2019. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

Dear Mr Springsteen

born-to-run-front-cover-only12 May 2016

Dear Mr Springsteen,

I have epilepsy, and I have spent the last month and a half recovering from a bout of seizures I suffered in the middle of March. I used to work in radio, had a reasonably happy life in a city I love, living independently and working towards becoming a freelance writer. I’d recently joined my first band (!) and was starting to engage with some of the challenges I’d been dreaming about since I was a kid.

Now I’m living at my parents’ house, in a regional area five hours from where I want to be, with a stutter that has killed any chance of continuing work in radio and significantly effected my employability across the board. Even the most basic of tasks can be incredibly tiring due to my motor skills going AWOL, and holding a conversation is a struggle most days. I’m an avid lover of live music – oh, I’m sure you’d love some of the artists coming out of Canberra at the moment – but I won’t be going to any gigs anytime soon because now loud or unexpected noises put me on edge, further limiting my speech and greatly heightening my anxiety levels, leading to an further increased risk of seizure. My doctors and neurologists have no idea why this is happening (except that it’s not a tumour, stroke or blood clot, which is a blessing) so there’s no treatment plan for me, except waiting to see if it comes good.

Cripes, that was a bit of a downer to start with. Sorry about that.

But it’s important that I break it all down, because I am in a pretty dark place right now. I have nothing to hold onto. The rewards I would normally give myself to try and feel better – a trip away from home, a night out with friends, seeing a band – are all out of reach. All the little goals I’m setting for myself? I’m missing them by a mile.

In the days after the first in my cluster of seizures, I bought your Born To Run album off iTunes at the suggestion of my aunt. (I prefer concrete copies, but I haven’t been able to get to a record store since this all hit the fan.)

Since then, your album has been what I cling to. I was never really one for much mischief, but the youthful abandon and longing to throw off the shackles of life and be free described in “Thunder Road” and “Born To Run”? I was working towards living that, taking advantage of my youth (I’m 26) and being myself and how the system can go to hell. I had felt trapped in my last job, and I’d just broken out of it, putting in my resignation two weeks before I fell ill. I was starting to feel the wind in my hair, and I was looking forward to seeing where the road would take me.

And then came the contrast. Certainly not as violent or criminal or broadly devastating as the actions and consequences of your characters, but just as desperate. Locked in, and clawing to get out, to no avail. That’s me now, stuck in a brain that feels like it is short-circuiting almost constantly. I am writing this letter in one of the few moments of clarity I have been blessed with.

Your album has reminded me of two things. The first is that I am very lucky. I don’t have to resort to cross-river deals or run from guns and cops, because I am a white, middle-class woman, living in my parents’ house in a country town in Australia. The second is that I was so close to beating this condition – I’d been seizure free almost two years before my relapse – that I should be able to do it again; I need to fire up the engines and get going. (Ironic, since my condition eliminates me from being able to drive.)

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve listened to Born To Run. It is the soundtrack to my days, my solace in the darkness, my motivator and my comfort. Though the story is different, the emotional ups and downs are calling me back to my own type of freedom. I listen to it every night as I go to sleep, willing it to imbibe me with its energy and the drive you used to make it happen, 40 years ago. (How was it that long ago? It still sounds fresh and vivid and alive.)

I’m yet to dive into your full back catalogue, although it does come highly recommended. I just don’t think I’m ready yet. If it’s alright with you, I’m just going to curl up with this album a little while longer, a little musical safety blanket to get me through the next few weeks, months, however long.

I honestly don’t know if I’m going to get through this, though. My speech was so precious to me, and now it’s barely there. I haven’t seen my friends in over a month, and the distance makes me ache. But even if I don’t, if I’m stuck in this shitty existence until I’m dead, I wanted to thank you for the little bit of peace you’ve brought to my soul and the little bit of fire you put in my belly. Born To Run is what my motor is running on right now, and I have needed every note of it.

Thank you. Thank you so much, for forever and a day.

Sincerely yours,

Noni Kuhner

*****

I initially didn’t want to post this here. I wanted to send it off into the world and never hear from it again. I wanted to send it to some vague record label address in the hope that it might one day get to the eyes I wrote it for. If it never did, that didn’t matter. It was the act of writing it, and of sending it that held meaning. It was an act of healing, where the process was more far more important than the result.

Two months later, I’m in a much better space than I was when I wrote this. I’m back in Canberra, starting to work again, and my speech has mostly recovered, though it does have the occasional hiccup. My brain still struggles a little when there’s too much sensory stimulation or I’m trying to think about more than one thing at a time, and I had another small seizure a few nights ago at band practice, but apart from that, I’m doing okay.

I’ve been taking some time off Born To Run over the last month or so, just to get back into the swing of listening to new things again. I’m loving Brendan Maclean’s funbang1, and some of the older gems in my collection from Inland Sea and Paul Dempsey. I made a mixed CD as a belated wedding present for a friend, and caught up on a whole bunch of podcasts. I finally got around to digging into some of Bruce Springsteen’s other works (Born In The USA is good, but inconsistent; Darkness on the Edge of Town is easily #2 on my list of favourite albums of his).

Right now, I’m listening to Born to Run again after a month or so’s break. I still love it. It still means so much to me. I still feel the need to say “Thank You” all over again.

It really is a great album.

Seven Songs

Seven songs. Seven stories. Some truths. Some lies.

Life On Mars – David Bowie

In bed, we’re tangled. I’ve lost count of the hours, and I’ve lost count of the number of times we’ve done our best to eat each other alive, but I know that I have heard this song twice tonight. The first time was a sub-par cover by a female artist I do not dislike, but this time, it is The Man Himself, singing it how it should be sung.

My eyes are closed, and I see a stage that isn’t there. Performers stand on invisible platforms floating through the air. A grand Grimaldi stands opposite a Pierrot, strangely confident in his stance. Lions and silks and bubbles, all swirling around me, and yet I am not there. It’s all around me, but it’s still distant. It’s like watching television, except that I am surrounded and separated by and from its wonder. I feel like I’m spinning and swirling, draped in loose fitting robes that dance as I soar upwards-

He changes the track and I’m flung out of the trance. I am bitter, but I keep it to myself. The real world doesn’t allow me to float on the wind, but there are worse ways to spend your time than this.

 

Baby I Am Nobody Now – Andy Bull

Up front. Packed in. Sold out. Who would have thought it? Everyone should have thought it – it’s a well deserved warm welcome, and the audience are rewarded with a swathe of sound that twirls softly around us like a silk scarf. I get that hit, reach the little nirvana where I’m not stuck in this clunky body, instead I’m writhing through the air like an ethereal serpent.

The melodramatic metaphors come easily as the backing vocals swoop in to fill out the chorus. The sound is massive, so dense that it feels like it could scoop up underneath us and lift us to the ceiling like a cushion filled with air.

They’re playing their way through a fucking superb album, one that’s lifted even higher by hearing it being played live. I think about hearing it and seeing it again, this time with an orchestra filling out the places where the synths have been, raising the crescendo even higher. I get chills at the thought, on top of those I’ve already got.

I open my eyes and remember it’s still happening. I drink it in, and dance.

 

Cold As Canada – Paul Kelly

In the song, she’s watching him sleep, but he left hours ago. I’m sitting on the side of the bed, and I feel the light creep in through the shutters and hit my back. I didn’t stray like the woman in the lyrics, but that’s only because I was never really here to begin with.

There is no sound, save for my deep breaths and the ensuing sighs that reveal just how deep a hole I’m in. My ears don’t need to hear it; it’s embedded itself in my heart and my head and I just want to collapse in on myself and be wiped from the memory of the world.

Maybe not from the world’s memory. Just his.

I don’t know who’s committed a greater betrayal: the woman who knows what on earth she’s done; or the woman who could do no wrong.

She needs to walk away. She doesn’t know. She doesn’t know when, but it needs to be soon, before the guilt eats her away to nothing.

It doesn’t matter how it happens. There are no winners here.

There’s no good way to say goodbye.

 

He Called Me Baby – Patsy Cline

Three times.

She had always hated the idea of being called that word. She was not a child.

But he said it, and she enjoyed it.

Three times.

She heard someone say once, “You should only use the word ‘baby’ in a song if it’s actually about a newborn.” She was pretty sure it was a bastardised David Byrne quote, but it didn’t matter where it came from. It seemed like a good philosophy.

The first time. She figured it was the heat of the moment. She tried to ignore it. Instead, she loved it. But she winced a little. Something was wrong.

The second time. Now it sounded deliberate, like they were actually going places. She felt warm, glowing despite the cold air, but something was still niggling at the back of her mind.

The third time. The last time. It hit her like a concrete slab.

She wanted to tell him: “You’re not calling me that because you care. You’re saying it because you think it’s the right thing to say, and it would be.

“But you’re not saying it to me. The woman you’re saying it to isn’t here, is she?”

Instead, she just said, “Please, don’t call me that.”

And that was the last time it passed his lips.

 

Grandma’s Herbal Cure All – Moochers Inc

The fact that she would never see these people again intoxicated her to the point that she just let it happen. She danced in the street, tearing her shoes to pieces on the cobblestones, letting her hair fly in the wind.

 

Man Like That – Gin Wigmore

She often thought about the revenge fantasies she would play out on him.

But every time she thought of one, she would find herself taking him back.

It was a dreadful waste of plotting, in her opinion.

In the end, she just threw coffee on him. Easy and effective, cheap and classic. Him and her.

 

Good Intent – Kimbra

New shoes. Black. Small heel. Buckled, not laced.

Old shoes. Black-ish. Smaller heel, more worn on the left side; wobbles when walks. Buckles are buckled, coming undone.

These things that are comfortable never last.

Hottest 10(0) Picks for 2013

Democracy is a pretty awesome thing. Sure, sometimes it doesn’t go the way you want it to (big shout out to Prime Minister Tony Abbott, and the people of Geelong), but the idea that you get to have a say in something that’s a bit of a big deal is a pretty cool concept.

And when you’re voting for songs rather than politicians, what’s not to love?

Yes, it’s time to get your votes in for the triple j Hottest 100, where the best songs of 2013 battle it out to see if they can possibly, just maybe beat Lorde1 for the coveted number 1 spot.

Most years, I get to January and find myself having completely forgotten who I loved in months previous, but this year I got myself a system – loved a song? Buy it and whack it in iTunes. When the time comes to vote, arrange by year and voila! You’ve got yourself a shortlist, with an indicator of how many plays each one got, should you need to whittle down the numbers.

Funnily enough, this year was a breeze. I picked a shortlist from iTunes before running through the list of suggestions on the voting page to make sure I hadn’t missed anything, and here’s the run of ten that I finally settled on for my vote, in no particular order.

(No pressure, but I reckon I’ve got pretty damn good taste.)

Note: Those marked with (DIY) aren’t in the suggestion list provided by triple j, so you’ll have to add them yourself through the… well, “Add Your Own” feature.

***** 

Citizen Kay – Raise A Glass (feat. BKBB)

Yes, this choice is full of Canberra pride. The nation’s capital welcomed me back with open arms in 2013, and I repaid it by getting stuck deep into its local music scene (more on that in future posts). This is undoubtedly one of the biggest songs of the year from the ACT, with Citizen Kay and The Brass Knuckle Brass Band (aka “feat. BKBB”) getting a whole lot of airplay on the national youth broadcaster, and it’s been a real delight to hear it coming out of headphones, radios, and cars over the last few months.

Plus, they’re both killer live acts. I’m still pissed that I missed seeing this in the flesh.

Dan Sultan – Under Your Skin

Ahhhhh… Dan Sultan. If there is an album I am absolutely falling over myself for in 2014, it’s the one that this track will be a part of. The growling, howling vocal in the opening bars immediately talks to my lady bits and the video clip… Excuse me. I’m going to need a moment to compose myself.

Fun Machine – Naked Body (DIY)

The first time I saw Fun Machine was in early 2012, when they were supporting Mikelangelo and the Tin Star, and to be honest… I didn’t get it. Sure, I could see why so many people had told me how awesome they were, but something just didn’t click for me. Even though they were deemed by many to be one of the acts to see in Canberra, I didn’t go in for a second dose for a long time.

It wasn’t that I didn’t want to give it another go, I was just always busy/sick/broke/lacking motivation/just too damn pretentious to go. Then this song dropped and it was like a light switch flipped in my head. I suddenly *got it*. And I loved it.

So I started to plan to go to a Fun Machine gig. Somehow, the universe had caught wind of my initial doubt and inevitable change of heart and decided that I deserved to be punished for my foolishness. Hence, I endured months of not being able to get to see Fun Machine. Stupidly heavy rain storms, seizures, clashes with family gatherings… Until I finally got to a couple of their gigs in December.

And now I have a massive crush on all the members of Fun Machine. And we all lived glitter-ly ever after.

(If you were expecting my blurb about Fun Machine to make sense, you do not understand Fun Machine and you should come with me to one of their gigs so that you can understand.)

The Preatures – Is This How You Feel?

The jangly guitars, the sultry male and female vocals, the Instagrasm-style vintage-esque video clip: there is nothing about this song that isn’t amazing. You will undoubtedly have chunks of this tune floating around in your brain for weeks after you’ve hit play on this video, and you will enjoy every minute of it.

Saskwatch – Hands

The day that Saskwatch played Transit Bar, I was a wreck. I’d had a seizure earlier in the week, I was tired and emotionally vulnerable, and in the end I couldn’t even bring myself to stand up to watch their set, choosing instead to sit and listen quietly from a nearby couch, my view blocked by all the happy punters.

As it turned out, I didn’t need to see anything. They were so good that I was entranced and delighted by just being in the same room as them and hearing them be bright and happy and funky and awesome. It took me a long time to pick between this and “I Get Lonely“, but this one seemed to have got a little bit more airplay, so I figured my vote might be better spent with it. Hopefully my cynicism pays off and it gets a spot!

Vance Joy – Riptide

For me, Vance Joy’s ‘Riptide’ is this year’s ‘Somebody That I Used To Know’. Working in commercial radio, it has been in my ears almost every day, but it’s such a great tune that I can’t bring myself to hate it. In fact, I still love it immensely, right from those beautifully chirpy ukulele chords and confessions of ridiculous phobias in the opening verse. It’s just sweetness, pure and simple.

Fun fact #1: When I first heard it on the radio, I thought it was some jaunty side-project from Alex Barnett from Sparkadia. (Come on, they sound a little bit similar…) I confused many cab-drivers with this assertion.

Fun fact #2: His real name isn’t really Vance. This still infuriates me, because people called Vance are awesome, like my great-grandfather and my 8-year-old cousin.

Twin Beasts – Badlove (DIY)

I can’t remember how I first came across The Toot Toot Toots. Maybe it was when I saw them at The Phoenix back in 2012. (Or was it earlier than that?) Maybe it was when I first heard ‘Fool’s Gold‘, off their debut album which is a gorram Spaghetti Western Rock Opera.

However, the last twelve months have meant a transformation for this delightful band, with a complete name and sound change. I’m not disappointed though – their new direction as Twin Beasts is absolutely kick-ass. Plus, the video features a guy who reminds me of Peter Capaldi flailing around in one of the best pieces of interpretative dance/acting I’ve seen in ages. Hit me right in the guts, man. Right in the guts.

The Basics – So Hard For You

Sure, 2012 was the Year of Gotye, but 2014 could well be the year The Basics, my favourite of Wally DeBacker’s projects, really come into their own. This song is absolutely killer, and now that they can count an ARIA-and-Grammy Winner among their members, their fantastic brand of retro-pop-rock might just get the attention it deserves, especially with the swell the genre is currently riding with the likes of The Preatures and Jeremy Neale.

With a new album apparently in the works, keeping an eye on The Basics should be one of your major hobbies in 2014.

Brendan Maclean – Stupid

I don’t know where to start when it comes to Brendan Maclean, because he is just a brilliant human being, even before you take into account how amazing he is at music. His songs are not only catchy and brilliantly entertaining, they’re also surprisingly raw and revealing.

And seriously, look at that face. How could you deny those gorgeous puppy-dog eyes a vote? Do the right thing, and give a tune that is unashamedly about unrequited gay love a spot in your short-list.

The Growl – Douse The Lamps (DIY)

And now we come to the song that gave me more lady-tingles than any other. Seriously, that bass line. You can feel the rhythm weaving its way into your hips. Arch your back to the gravelly-gorgeousness of Cam Avery’s voice. This song just screams “SEX”. It’s primal and gritty and just makes me want to do something my mother wouldn’t approve of.

And then you strip it all back to two guys in an alley, with nothing but a double bass and that gorgeous voice, and it still gets into your blood stream and sets your insides on fire.

Sure, Dan Sultan is sexy, but this song is just something else, to the point where I am terrified of seeing The Growl live… I’m just not sure I could control myself…

*****
What were your songs of 2013? Leave a comment below and we can create our own little “Warmest 100”.
Endnote:
1 Yes, I realise Lorde isn’t a 100% sure bet. Daft Punk are also major contenders. But even though I have come to be really sick and tired of ‘Royals’ due to hearing it all the time at work, it’s still not as infuriating as hearing ‘Get Lucky’ every two hours. 
Also, it’d be nice to have a solo female artist win the title for the first time ever, who also happened to be the first New Zealand artist to win… and the youngest winner ever.
But mostly because I want to see a young woman at the very beginning of her career kick the arse of a whole bunch of dudes, especially some who’ve been in the game for almost two decades.

A Farewell – Gigs Out West

Goodbye, Gigs Out West. It was fun while it lasted.

Today I did something that I have been putting off since I found out I had got a job in Canberra.

I closed Gigs Out West.

Hopefully someone will find it and want to give it the love and care it needs and deserves, but until then, it’s in a deep hibernation.

The blog post for today is here, and is the letter I wrote to explain why I am no longer running the site.

Excuse me. My heart hurts a little bit.