Yesterday was the national youth broadcaster’s annual day of self-congratulation: triple j’s hottest 100 countdown. On it was just about every song that was played on high rotation on the station throughout the year, with the quasi democractic lead up to the countdown allowing listeners to place the songs that would inevitably be included into some kind of order. Congratulations, Chet Faker, for writing the best song of ALL. TIME. The Aussie underdogs are at it again.
Anyway, while the countdown may have fooled you otherwise, there is in fact a rock/pop music scene in Australia. There’s one in almost every major city to be specific. Maybe triple j just happened to forget about this when they relegated most local bands with guitars to the occasional appearance on Home and Hosed or double j. And so, if it’s bands with guitars you’re after, here are some hottest 100-worthy songs that were largely ignored by triple j in 2014.
Geoffrey O’Connor – Her Name On Every Tongue
This song is like a snowflake; delicate, intricate, and endlessly beautiful. It represents a callback to 80s Australiana by Melbourne artist Geoffrey O’Connor, who sings about an elusive dream babe in his crystalline, accented vocals over the tune of an incredibly simple pop song. If only O’Connor had waited a few more months to release the video – he would have probably changed the subject’s kind of awkward name.
Courtney Barnett – Depreston
After ‘Avant Gardner’, ‘History Eraser’ and ‘Anonymous Club’ didn’t do so much as nudge the top 200 last year, Courtney Barnett entered the hottest 100 with ‘Pickles From The Jar’; a good song, but certainly not her best. ‘Depreston’ only exists in live form, and really, it doesn’t need to exist in any other way. The song details house shopping in the inner-northern Melbourne suburb of Preston; describing throughout in thoughtfully warm detail the little intricacies, happenings, and depressing things that can be found in the suburb that Barnett calls home. It’s a nostalgic listing of the subtleties that made, make, and will always make the inner north what it is, and nobody could have penned it more whimsically than Courtney Barnett.
(Side note: this song was not released as a single and therefore was not eligible for the countdown anyway. It’s just a really good song)
King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard – Hot Wax
2014 was pretty cool because it saw King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard release a radio-friendly pop song (in triple j terms, anyway). Nevertheless, ‘Hot Wax’ retained the band’s trademark grit, and even sounded a little bit like The Cramps playing a version of ‘My Sharona’. Given its March release on their album Oddments, the aforementioned radio love, and the fact that the song is difficult not to bop along to, it’s a real wonder this didn’t make the hottest 100. After all, a great song’s a great song.
GUNNS – The Fool
This song is probably the closest thing I’ve heard to The Beatles all year, but of course, it doesn’t actually sound much like The Beatles anyway. It’s just a masterfully written, simple pop song that incorporates little to no complexities or moments of pretense. A heavily reverberated ripper, one might say.
Mark Ronson & Kevin Parker – Daffodils
Okay, so Mark Ronson is not Australian and Kevin Parker is no stranger to the hottest 100, leading the only Australian rock band that ever enters the top 10 anymore (Tame Impala). But this should be even more reason for ‘Daffodils’ to make the hottest 100. Basically, this is a song written by Parker and spruced up by Ronson that follows the same psychedelic disco lick for most of its duration. It’s simple and it’s funky and it’s refreshingly sleazy. It had radio rotation both commercial and underground, and thus, I just don’t understand how four covers and two songs by the Amity Affliction could beat this banger to the post.
Moses Gunn Collective – Shalala
This one’s a bit like the Gunns song: spacey, simple, and sugary sweet. There’s something warm about the word ‘gunn’.
SMB – Who Do You Love?
So you think Kingswood play rock? You think DZ Deathrays play rock? Props to them for being the sole representatives of Australian rock music in the whole countdown, but nothing is more rock’n’roll than babes in antique bridal gowns doing punk covers of Bo Diddley songs. SMB are The Steve Miller Band (nup, not the other one), and are led by Steve Miller, formerly of The Moodists acclaim. This cover is a complete makeover of the original rendition, and its playful rawness is unmatched even by that of ‘Talk Is Cheap’.
Total Control – Flesh War
This song is so good that I saved it til last. Total Control are a Melbourne group who, on this single, managed to create a song that is as much of a pop banger as it is a relic from late-1970s industrial Manchester. Therefore, this is a special kind of song.
So there you have it. Eight bloody rippers that triple j and its listeners joined forces to hide from you.