Best Tracks of 2016

Abraham Tilbury

It’s difficult to choose between two amazing tracks Abraham Tilbury released last year: an addicting “Morphine” and this new song brought to us just before the end of 2016. If there’s a reason we picked “California”, it’s just because we haven’t played it a hundred times yet like its predecessor.

In both of these songs, Melbourne’s super talented singer-songwriter and producer constructs little hymns to fragility, with tender electronic arrangements, well-acted hesitation in the vocals and lyrics like “I’m a piece of you that could fall off, at any point.”

Abraham Tilbury on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Facebook, Twitter.

Amanda Merdzan

Australian songwriter and producer Amanda Merdzan brings her own version of atmospheric electronic pop on her debut mini-album, “Commands”.

The record apparently took shape when Amanda was moving from her homeland to London. Listening to the five tracks comprising the EP – “dark electro pop”, as she calls it – it’s quite hard to believe that her first instrument was the guitar. And when she started exploring music, punk and grunge were her main focus.

While you can already stream the EP here, our favourite track is this slow-burning modern ballad called “Glow”.

Amanda Merdzan on Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud, www.

BANFF x Caitlin Park
“My Love, My Lover”

These two voices go together like no other do, and we can only wish we’ll keep seing an “x” between Banff and Caitlin Park in future.

“My Love, My Lover” itself is a little comeback song from Benjamin Forbes. This young singer-songwriter started his solo career back in 2015 with a four-track EP, “Future Self“, and has played some intimate shows around Australia quite like in the video for this new song.

And just like people in the comments below this clip, we can’t wait for Banff’s first full-length hopefully coming this year. And by the way, a long-awaited new release from Caitlin is also in the making.

Banff on Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud, www. Caitlin Park on Facebook, Twitter, www.

Big Scary
“The Opposite of Us”

Ever since “The Opposite of Us” came out in mid-2016, it’s been coming back to us again and again. It first brings you joy when the characteristing drum beat and piano theme start, and then again when Tom Iansek’a distinctive vocals come in.

Big Scary is a Melbourne-based group led by Iansek – singer, pianist and guitarist – and the drummer Jo Syme. They can sound like a jazz collective, a rock band, or like one of those modern R&B artists who sound so big while using so little means. Even the string quartet they brought to the studio seems hesitant.

The best news is that “The Opposite of Us” is just one of 13 tracks you’ll find on Big Scary’s new album, Animal“. A diverse and intense experience, just like this unforgettable single.

Big Scary on Facebook, Twitter, Bandcamp, www.

Golden Vessel
“Wave” (feat. OK Badlands)

OK Badlands have been one of our favourite acts in the Australian scene for quite a while and seeing Sally and Kat in the company of Golden Vessel made our heart beating faster even before checking out the results. And there’s more to come.

Last year, the young Brisbane-based producer was working with OK Badlands on their first EP (scroll down this list a bit for a sample). “Wave” seems like a little gift in return – and what a gift it is.

The song is a part of Golven Vessel’s recent EP, “Before Sleep“, which features a few more talented guests and is about “capturing the creativity that can happen between certain individuals during small amounts of time.”

Golden Vessel on Soundcloud, Facebook, Twitter.

“Junior Spirit”

In just three and a half minutes the Melbourne-based group led by guitarist and singer-songwriter Cosima Jaala take us through a kaleidoscope of emotions worth at least an EP.

They’re one of those fantastically errating and impatient bands that have to invent something new with every bar of the song, and fortunately they’ve got enough good ideas for such wastage.

“Junior Spirit” is a great first taste of the band’s upcoming new album, a follow up for their acclaimed 2015 debut “Hard Hold”.

Jaala on Facebook.

King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard
“Robot Stop”

The standard punchline “keep it on repeat” doesn’t fit in here well.

First, the laudest track in this list is supercharged by a catastrophic animation by Jason Galea and playing it in a loop might be risky. And second, they want you to keep their whole new LP on repeat, so they synched the closing track with this opener.

The Melbourne psych/prog/noise/pop seven-piece have been experimenting with different concepts since their 2012 debut album. But “Nonagon Infinity” is King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard’s master work, worth the grandiosity of their name and the biggest prog bands you can associate it with.

The album took a few years and could take another few to digest properly. But hey, they’re can’t stop and are releasing a new album called “Flying Microtonal Banana” on February 24th.

King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard on Facebook, Bandcamp.

“Their Own Storm”

Kimberley Hunter (or km for short) is a young singer-songwriter from Townsville in north-east Australia who’s been exploring the beauty of minimal acoustic songwriting for the last five years or so.

On her 4-track EP, “More Me Than You“, she demonstrated the power of a simple melody when you find the right one, and km does have a talent for that. She dedicated this album to “the misfits, all those people who don’t fit into the social norms of life, or who have had it tough”.

“Their Own Storm” is the shortest and our favourite song off this mini-album. Apparently, it also has a special meaning for km. “It still plays in my head as a backing track,” she told us, “when I’m around the couples that don’t make sense but fit so well.”

km on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Facebook.


“Holla” stands among the best-produced tracks of the last year, with a collection of little sounds which – in the juggling hands of Lanks – grow into a little electronic symphony.

Students of music composition could use this song as an example of how to translate minor changes in the arrangement into a great emotional effect. Actually, Lanks – real name Will Cuming – does know a lot about music theory, having studied jazz guitar and produced a couple of beautiful EPs already.

“Holla” comes off the Melbourne musician’s latest mini-album titled “Viet Rose”, which you can stream right here.

Lanks on Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud, YouTube, www.

Lupa J

Lupa J is the nickname of Imogen Jones, a young Sydneysider who writes, sings and produces her music, and even co-directs her videos. In spite of her age, she can be already called one of the most intriguing names in the Australian alternative scene.

Although she’s a classically educated violinist, among inspirations she rather mentions artists like Grimes, FKA Twigs, Lorde and Radiohead. And somehow you can hear it in this fantastic single “Numb” off her recent album, “My Right Name“.

“Look into yourself / What do you not know?”, she asks in the song, which she describes as “the older more mature me singing to a younger more naïve representation of me”.

Lupa J on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Facebook, Twitter.

Natalie Carolan
“She’ll Know How It Goes”

After such great singles like “Time” and “Vices“, the jazz-educated singer brought us this four-minute beauty “She’ll Know How It Goes” produced by James Saunders.

The moment she starts, “So the story goes / Again, again,”, you can feel she knows where she wants to take you precisely, and the story grows gradually from a delicate intro to this grand culmination at the end.

But the Melbourne-based is careful enough not to overdose the main theme to make you play it, just like she predicted, again and again.

Natalie Carolan on Soundcloud, Facebook, www.

“Spirit Beat”

Probably the weirdest and most intriguing piece in this list, “Spirit Beat” is a perfect example of the Melbourne eight-piece collective NO ZU’s “Antipodean zonked heat beat”, quoting the band themselves.

Last February, they released their new album “Afterlife” via Chapter Music. And this joyful funky hymn to the goddess Athena was the first single off this record.

It’s accompanied by an appropriately weird video directed by Jack Peddey, together bringing one of the most memorable experiences of the last year…

NO ZU on Soundcloud, Facebook.

OK Badlands
“Dust & Gold”

We haven’t heard any music by the Brisbane-based duo of Sally Latter and Kate Gurren yet that we wouldn’t love. So it’s hard to understand why they’ve removed their debut single “Good Logic” or a more recent “Online TV” from their Soundcloud.

Fortunately, you can still hear the summery single “Cheap Tuesday” and this beautiful new song called “Dust & Gold”. It was produced by the young studio master Golden Vessel, who’s been working with OK Badlands on their upcoming first EP – as well as his own material (scroll up this list a little bit).

This latest piece from OK Badlands is also their most focused and mature yet, with exceptional vocal harmonies and an unhurried atmosphere. Hopefully, it stays online for a while, and brings the long-awaited debut album soon.

OK Badlands on Soundcloud, Twitter, Facebook.

“Smoke Signals”

One of the memorable releases of the past year came from Melbourne’s Olivia Bartley, better know as Olympia. Her debut LP “Self Talk” puts her on the top of almost any music category, and already brought her nomination for the Australian Music Prize.

The single “Smoke Signals” alone shows how agile and smart this young singer-songwriter is. Every bar of this song grows out of the previous one organically, and if you ever deconcentrate you’ll regret the second you missed as every one of them matters.

The video directed by Alex Smith is a masterpiece on its own terms. Using “a tube based Sony broadcast camera from the early Eighties”, he brings Olympia back to early 80s, making the whole experience even more extraordinary.

Olympia on Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud, Instagram, www.

OM Collective
“Psilies Kite”

It’s been a while since psychedelia sounded as fresh as on “Psilies Kite”, the first single of OM Collective. Contrary to what the name suggests – a solo project of Sydney producer Tim Ferson.

It took him seven long years to finish this single, but first – there’s been a hard drive crash on the way that swallowed half of the material he had already recorded. And second, those 5 minutes will give you more experiences to digest than most full-length albums.

“Psilies Kite” features James Blackwood on lead vocals with Holly Martin and Ferson himself backing him up. The song is supposed to remind us that music is not just music – but could and should be a spiritual experience. Let’s pray.

OM Collective on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Twitter, Facebook.

Tash Sultana

It’s been a quick rise for Tash Sultana, who in spite of her young age has been gaining (well deserved) attention internationally and with such songs as “Notion” you can easily understand why.

The Melbourne-based multi-instrumentalist seems to know the dear secret of some of the best singer-songwriters in the rock music history: which is about combining incredible charisma (that keeps you enchanted) and fragility (that keeps you close to the artist).

Jeff Buckley keeps coming back to mind when listening to Tash’s chants, and this one time it’s not an exaggerated comparison.

Tash Sultana on Soundcloud, Facebook, Twitter, www.

Tiny Little Houses
“Milo Tin”

It’s just over two years since we first heard about Melbourne’s Tiny Little Houses but for many they’re among the bands to watch most closely right now in the Australian scene. So they keep singing about how does it feel to (think to) be a loser.

This lovely guitar piece “Milo Tin” came out with a simple video shot in a convenience store, and along with the shiny arrangements and Caleb Karvountzis’s vocals it makes a perfect demonstration of the band’s laid-back attidude, as if they’ve never left the bedroom.

Tiny Little Houses on Bandcamp, Soundcloud, Facebook, Twitter.

Twin Haus
“Synthetic Egg”

With a pair of about ten-minute semi-suits and two shorter tracks on their new EP “Nothing Lavish“, Twin Haus presented themselves with impressive versatility married with a talent for memorable themes and – we should mention it first – atmosphere building.

Whether you’re a fan classic 70s progrock or current experimental indie/post rock heroes like Radiohead, you’ll find the majestic opener “Synthetic Egg” difficult to stop. But as thrilling as the whole EP is, it seems the best from this four-piece is still to come.

Twin Haus on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Facebook, Twitter.