While 2017 was a year that many would have preferred to have flushed down the toilet, it was a great 12-months for Australian music. From hip-hop, punk, techno, EDM and ambient oddness we were constantly reminded of the talent and diversity of music across the country.
Here are the tracks that we couldn’t get off our turntables, playlists, radio shows and car stereos. Enjoy.
1. Alex Cameron – “Stranger’s Kiss”
The song of the year comes with its own dance move. In the Jemima Kirke directed video for Cameron’s duet with Angel Olsen, Kirke and Cameron jimmy and shake their scuffed boots like a greasy mix of Fred Astaire and River Phoenix’s My Own Private Idaho character Mikey Waters. It’s a move that oozes style and sass and the song, a beautiful and real exploration of failure, hasn’t left our playlists since August.
2. Orion - “Sexy Alien”
Punks playing melodic and electronic goth was nothing new in 2017 but few delivered the gloom as well as Orion. Taking some of the pop magic of the Pet Shop Boys and New Order and mixing it with a dark Sydney cool, the four-piece created a stylish sombreness. All tracks on their debut hold a level of brilliance but “Sexy Alien”, one of the first the band wrote, stands out as vocalist Yuta Matsumura pleads “Why do I care?” over lush synth and drum beats.
3. Alex Lahey - “Everyday's the Weekend”
Lahey may claim to be “just some random from Melbourne” but she’s a random who can also write some pretty fine pop tunes. As she seemed to appear on every music publication’s ‘rising’ or ‘next big thing’ sections, Lahey was happy to let her punchy and wry, three-minute songs do the talking. A good example is “Everyday's the Weekend” the opening track on her album Love You Like a Brother.
4. Genesis OWusu - “Sideways”
Inspired by his African heritage and the music of Nigerian performer William Onyeabor, Genesis OWusu’s “Sideways” is a catchy piece of Afrofuturism that’s sprung from possibly the least Afrocentric city in Australia, Canberra. Produced by Hiatus Kaiyote's Simon Mavin and Perrin Moss, the track starts with a unique piece of creaking percussion that buries into your head and sets up shop for a number of days.
5. UV Boi - “Bleeding Out”
UV Boi فوق بنفسجي ‘s debut EP cracked last year’s Noisey 100 top ten and he’s followed up with an even better record in Returned Alone. This, the opening track, proves that the young Brisbane producer and vocalist is one of the most talented in Australia as he blends soft beats and lushly textured and sensitive R&B. When he sings “I think it might be my time now”. We scream, “Damn straight it is!” And we aren’t bullshiting when we say that we’re really looking forward to his upcoming full-length debut.
6. Divide and Dissolve - “Black Power”
Heavy comes in many forms but when Divide and Dissolve turn up the volume on their monstrous low-end doom, the weight of injustice and systematic oppression comes crashing down. Liberation, black empowerment and indigenous movements are present in the minds of Sylvie and Takiaya when they write music and none more so then on “Black Power” one of many powerful instrumentals on their album Basic. Starting with a beautifully haunting solo the track rises to become a ferocious epic. There may be no words but the song has a lot to say.
7. Miss Blanks – “Bread”
In hip-hop parlance, ‘bread’ is a euphemism for cash money. For Miss Blanks it’s a symbol of where she’s come from and where she wants to get to. It also happens to be her straight up boss track that will knock you on your sweaty ass. Taken from the Brisbane rapper’s debut EP D.O.A.T (Diary of a Thotaholic) and featuring Queens rapper Dai Burger, it’s a track that pushes Blanks’ agenda in stepping over all the basic bitches.
8. Carla dal Forno - “The Garden”
In 1996 experimental Berlin band Einstürzende Neubauten released the album Ende Neu which contained the haunting track “The Garden”. Carla dal Forno, a Berlin-based Australian has paid tribute to the song on her EP of the same name. A beautifully dark take, the track is built around dal Forno’s striking voice that is mediative and melodic. Full of eloquence and ambience this is a flawless piece of dream pop.
9. Lil Spacely - “You Know It”
Lil Spacely is proud to rep Blacktown, 2148. His experience living in the Western Sydney suburb shines through his music including on the fence shaking hype of “You Know It”. Confident and polished, it brings the aggressiveness of American trap but rinses it through a Greater Western Sydney reality. It may be a little too early to be asking if Manu Crooks has a contender for Sydney’s best MC but Lil Spacely is definitely on the rise.
10. Sex Drive - “Hate Home”
There’s a look that comes over Beau Kearsley when he’s fronting punks Sex Drive that’s reminiscent of old footage of Bon Scott in peak form. It’s a look that spells mischief and a snarling agitation. On “Hate Home” the Gold Coast band capture the same energy found in some Aussie pub rock greats and kids throwing rocks at cars. It’s a messed up and busted song that comes with a distinct rage.
11. Michael Beach - "I Never Had Enough Time With You”
When we premiered “I Never Had Enough Time With You” in July we described it as one of the best songs of 2017 “that not nearly enough people have heard”. More people have heard it since but it’s still one of the most underrated songs of the year. Yes, describing the ‘arrangement’ of a song makes you sound like a tosser, but in this case the driving melody, rhythm and changing pace have helped make it a 2017 classic.
12. Jikuroux – “Themed Break”
Whether listening to it played through a club PA or your small earbuds when scanning groceries, the lead track from Sydney-based producer’s Jikuroux Cradle Bay EP makes your head nod. We swear, the warm ambience that drops at around the 30-second mark is the sonic equivalent of the 5am sunrise peeking through the curtains. From there it jitters and moves through various movements and moods. Forward moving club music that is both serene and anxious, it's stuff we want to hear more of.
13. RVG - "A Quality of Mercy”
2017 was a breakout year for Romy Vager and her band RVG. The Melbourne act’s debut album A Quality of Mercy shone with melody, emotional intelligence and the kind of pop oriented darkness found on much of the early 4AD catalogue. On a lyrically brilliant album, the title track stands out for it’s powerful call for empathy. As Romy sings “You won’t find what you are looking for, there’s no evil in me”, the song builds into a powerful piece of honest and emotional storytelling.
14. LiL BO WEEP - "Less Power More Control"
There’s a lot to love about Lil Bo Weep. There’s her unique style for one. We love that she’s down with Tweety Bird and Lisa Frank backpacks, we love her prodigious Soundcloud output and of course we love her lo-fi, emo hip-hop. Originally from Adelaide, she now spends most of her time on the road but still finds time to release amazing music like “less power more control”. A jazzy piece with horns, acoustic guitars and her beautiful vocals, it comes across as some amazing mix of Elliot Smith, cyber goth and Lil Peep.
15. DIN - “Uh”
Sydney’s DIN is a collaborative project between Rainbow Chan and Alex Ward aka Moon Holiday. Together they produce dance music built around creative freedom, or as they put it, "a project born from a weariness of having to be the 'face' of a creative project.". Their debut “Jinni” was one of many standouts on Fantastic Effects, Body Promise’s compilation of experimental club leanings.
16. Lonelyspeck - “Settle”
A strong sense of vulnerability and intimacy shines through Lonelyspeck’s “Settle”, a track of dreamy experimental R&B that appears on the Adelaide producer’s second EP Lave. Things move at an unhurried and relaxed pace and when Sione Teumohenga sings “You can’t tell me what I ought to know” it brings to mind the hushed and delicate melody of acts such as Majical Cloudz and How to Dress Well.
17. Hatchie - “Sure”
Harriette Pilbeam has been playing in Brisbane band’s like Go Violets and Babaganouj for years. As Hatchie she steps out on her own to produce some shoegazy pop perfection. Her track “Sure” reminds us of early Juliana Hatfield or The Sundays or just really good guitar harmonies that makes you feel better about life and your shit job.
18. Kirkis - "Our House”
There are many facets to Melbourne artist and musician Kirkis. That he’s worked with UK producer Floating Points and has made a video based on a 1990 riot at Manchester’s Strangeways prison are just some that may pique your interest. But we find that his own album, self-released on his MODED label, is among his most interesting creative pursuits. “Our House” is a track that is experimental, fun and more than a little odd. At times it sounds like early Ariel Pink at others like early Pink Floyd. It’s different.
19. Blank Statements - "Building a Ramp”
We don’t really understand why we love this so much. There’s nothing really to it, just a simple bass line melody, a drum beat that’s in serious need for some CPR, and a weary vocal delivery that borders on straight up indifference. But after playing the heck out of the Melbourne band’s track on Bandcamp we actually shed a tear after receiving the "the time has come to open thy heart/wallet" pop up.
20. Kira Puru – “Tension”
A heavy 80s pop funk flows through “Tension” and when the Melbourne singer drops, “Is something on your mind? Where there's smoke, there's fire” just before the chorus, it’s like a memory from 1985, a fine year for pop music.
21. Kardajala Kirridarra — “Young Girls Song”
Kardajala Kirridarra's name translates to ‘Sandhill Women’ and relates to the mysterious bush woman who inhabit the sandhills outside the remote Malinja community in the Northern Territory. This beautiful song, sung in both Mudburra and English, tells the story of the connection between Aboriginal women and country and are reminders of the importance of women as creators.
22. The Stevens - “Chancer”
A song made for driving at night. Preferably in your housemate or Mum’s car with the dodgy fuel gauge. As you cruise the streets this song pops and buzzes with massive hooks and melodies. Singing along with Travis MacDonald as he pleads “Give me a chance to be forgotten / I want to know if you’ll be pleased to meet me” you won’t even care about the family in an opposite car laughing at you as you wait for the traffic lights to change. Yes, it’s that kind of song.
23. Sex Tourists - “Disconnect”
‘Disconnect’ could be one of the words of 2017. With a world seemingly run by clowns and overrun with shysters, the urge to tap out becomes more real. Sydney three-piece Sex Tourists nail this sense of awkwardness and vulnerable despair on “Disconnect” a track from their 12" LP that was released on the excellent Paradise Daily label. You can almost feel Ewan Finley’s creaking fatigue as he dolefully sings, "I've heard you've had a minor car crash" over ominous synths and drum machines.
24. Roza Terenzi - “World Off”
Float with Roza Terenzi, aka Katie Campbell, on this blissed track that combines some weird house, ambient type breaks and sounds that make you want to dance closer to the DJ booth. The Perth DJ and producer who made a name as Catlips is now based in Melbourne but continues to experiment with some unique sounds and rhythms.
25. Publique - “Axe of Love”
Burning Rose is a label pushing some of the more interesting sounds from the Australian underground and Publique is one of the best acts on their already exciting roster. “Axe of Love”, the first single from the Sydney/Melbourne band’s debut album Outlying Self is raised with moody aggression and ragged post punk melody. While their sound has drawn comparisons to early Psychedelic Furs and UK goth, here it seems more in line with the terseness of Austin punks Institute.
26. Total Control - “Future Creme”
27. Baker Boy - “Cloud9”
28. Penthouse - “Last Night”
29. Party Dozen – “The Living Man”
30. Buzz Kull - “Youth”
31. 3NDLES5 - “Polyester"
32. Phile ft. Karina Utomo - “Abhor”
33. Camp Cope - “Footscray Station”
34. Amyl and the Sniffers- “Westgate”
35. Two Steps On The Water - “Sword I”
36. Tropical Fuck Storm - “Soft Power”
37. Time for Dreams - “Lighthouse”
38. Cable Ties – “The Producer”
39. Stella Donnelly “Boys Will Be Boys”
40. Mod Con - "Do It Right Margo”
41. Beaches - “Void”
42. Bed Wetting Bad Boys -“Thing Called Love”
43. Hexdebt - “Jobhaus/Deathcard”
44. Emma Russack - “Everybody Cares”
45. Jen Cloher - “Kinda Biblical”
46. Alex McFarlane - “Under Anvil Clouds”
47. Blank Realm - “Jesus Part Two”
48. Jess Locke - “Better/Bitter”
49. Crop Top - “Sad Lover”
50. Air Max '97 - “Reduct”
51. Mikey Young - “You Feelin Me?”
52. HTML Flowers - “God On My Hitlist”
53. A. Swayze & The Ghosts - “Smooth Sailing”
54. Girl Zone - “Skating For Eva”
55. Terry - “Take Me to the City”
56. Kirin J Callinan - "Family Home”
57. Nasho- “Black Star Flies Free”
58. These New South Whales - "Meat Hook"
59. Batpiss - “Weatherboard Man”
60. Parsnip- “Dummkopf”
61. Multiple Man - “Power Fantasy”
62. Miss Destiny - “Randy”
63. Bitumen- “Honey Hunter”
64. Christopher Port - “Uppers”
65. HVNCOQ - “Blackout”
66. Andy Garvey - “Club Music [Tool]”
67. Angie - “A Ring”
68. Kllo -”Virtue”
69. Baro - “Pretty”
70. Gussy - “In Order to Love”
71. Imbi the Girl - “VIP”
72. Blanket - “South East”
73. Mezko - “Steady On”
74. Body Type - “Silver”
75. Wireheads - “Technical Man”
76. ALTA - “Sentiment”
77. Dag - “Guards Down”
78. Rebel Yell- “High Authority”
79. SHOUSE - “Without You”
80. Death Bells - “Alone, Into an Empty Building”
81. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard - “Rattlesnake”
82. Ciggie Witch - “Meet Me in the Middle”
83. Spike FUck - “Greatest Hits (Suicide Party)”
84. Lakes - “Silver Thorns”
85. The Living Eyes - “Spring”
86. Fair Maiden - “Coal”
87. Cult Shotta - “Cheat Code”
88. School Damage - “Tall Poppies”
89. Mere Women - “Big Skies”
90. Montero - “Vibrations”
91. Rolling Blackouts CF - “French Press”
92. Kandere - “BB GOY”
93. Roland Tings - “One Hundred”
94. Spotting - “Good Job”
95. ORB - “You Are Right”
96. Suss Cunts - “Newby”
97. The Stroppies - “Production Lines”
98. Trevor - “Sensual Meditation”
99. George Michelle - “Drive It like a Rental”
100. Fortunes - “Daddies”