The Preatures – Blue Planet Eyes
Getting plenty of people plenty excited, Isabella Manfredi and co. are not-so-quietly breaking across the international market, and with due cause. This year's Blue Planet Eyes brings forward a powerful mix of rock, Stones-esque guitar riffs and catchy pop. Also interesting is the bands ability to mix things up. Whilst gaining regular time on radio, songs like "Is This How You Feel?" and "Somebody's Talking" have a different sound to the deeper tracks on the album - like "Two Tone Melody" and "Rock and Roll Rave."
Perhaps the band is benefitting from recording with Spoon drummer Jim Eno, or perhaps they're just getting the hang of this.
Chet Faker – Built on Glass
Chet Faker has been everywhere in 2014, and you can expect him to list multiple times on next year's Hottest 100. Let's be honest, he'll probably win. Built On Glass plays like a modernised Bond soundtrack - with singles like "Gold" and "Talk Is Cheap" getting more air time on the radio, many might've missed the slower tracks on the album, like "Dead Body." Also of note is the subtle – and amazing – saxophone that seems to carry on throughout the album, reminding you that it's there only every so often. This is such a great, great album. So great you probably already have it.
Sia – 1000 Forms of Fear
Sia's 1000 Forms Of Fear debuted at number one - largely because of her ridiculously catchy and clever "Chandelier." The Aussie has been semi-renowned in Australia for songs like "Buttons" – which btw has a crazy cool film clip – but this album saw her crash into the international market in a massive way. It's important to note that 1000 Forms Of Fear doesn't confine itself to pop hits, though, with guitar riffs throughout, and Sia's voice changing from the blasting chorus in "Chandelier" to the skatty, almost ska "Hostage." We're glad Sia has focussed on herself more in 2014, instead of writing for other artists, and hope that 1000 Forms Of Fear is a flag of more to come.
Flight Facilities – Down to Earth
Flight Facilities released "Crave You" in 2013, an awesome single mixing together the smooth vocals of Giselle with disco-electronic beats. That's how a lot of people were probably first introduced to them – and the album has a version of the song with KYLIE FUCKING MINOGUE stepping in for Giselle.
There's no need to wax lyrical about that song, though, with the whole album standing up and delivering a healthy mix of sampling and groovy beats. Suited for sitting down and relaxing or standing up and dancing, Down To Earth took a while to record but definitely delivered.
Fishing – Shy Glow
Only slightly similar to Flight Facilities in electronic style, Fishing's Shy Glow lends itself moreso to the Animal Collective / Panda Bear / Noah Lennox school of sampling – in other words, it's crazy, wild, and super fun.
They've mostly made their name on the indie circuit - nominated for an FBi SMAC award for Record of the Year – but don't think that doesn't mean their music isn't accessible and fun for all.
The Veronicas – Sanctified
The Veronicas say it best when they declare: "Back with a vengeance, back with a song, all you motherfuckers got it wrong," on their track "Did You Miss Me? (I'm A Veronica)." After seven long years embroiled in creative differences with their former label Warner Music, The Veronicas returned in 2014 with one of the strongest pop albums of the year, cementing themselves as one of Australia's biggest forces to be reckoned with. A fresh and eclectic album that mixes the pop, rock and electro sounds familiar to The Veronicas with elements of blues and country twang, hip hop beats and everything in between. Singles aside, tracks to look out for include "Cruel," "Always" and "Cold." - Stephanie Anderson.
Jack Ladder & The Dreamlanders – Playmates
Jack Ladder & The Dreamlanders must be sick of all the comparison to Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds they get – but it's an easy comparison to make at first listen. Both have a frontman man with a low, drawling voice - who isn't afraid to get heavy duty with his lyrics - and both have a band (The Bad Seeds, The Dreamlanders) who don't seem to get any attention or recognition when they really, really should.
Still, Jack Ladder & The Dreamlanders seem to step more into an '80s inspired, rhythmic tone at times, and a dark, thrashing rock 'n roll at others. The album is a great listen to from start to finish (without shuffle) but it does take a few listens to get into the zone. Once you're there though, it's worth it.
Caitlin Park – The Sleeper
Caitlin Park is just so, so, sooooooooo great. Comparisons have been made to Megan Washington, but they are only similar in vocal sound, Park experiments more with instrumentals and sampling - layering her voice on occasion and achieving a dreamy, wonderful album filled with folktronic jams. Her debut EP, Warriors With Wild Hearts, was out in 2010, and was followed the next year by her debut album, Milk Annual, so we've all had to wait a while for 2014's The Sleeper.
The wait, though, has led to a maturing in her sophomore album - something many artists struggle with - and Park has created an album that, with songs like "Lemonade," "Hold Your Gaze" and "Wake Up In A Whirr" demonstrates her range. Think Fiona Apple, but Australian and jolly and less about sex.
To watch in 2015...
Meg Mac's self-titled EP was released in September, and it bodes well for the new year. Electronic, blues and pop come together, as Mac manages to continue to remind people that piano is cool dammit and that there is a large presence of female musicians in Australia breaking through.
You'd be forgiven for confusing Meg Mac and George Maple - although where Mac walks the tightrope of Blues-Elctronic, Maple isn't afraid to experiment with effects and her voice. Her EP, Vacant Space, was released only this month - and is a great listen through of Chet Faker-esque beats (is it too early to use him as a reference?) and smooth vocals, changing in both tone and tempo.
Mansionair have only really released two songs – their Hold Me Down EP being made up of "Hold Me Down," "Second Night" and a host of remixes – but their two main singles are most certainly ~bangers~.
Early reviews with compare lead singer Jack Froggatt's voice with Jeff Buckley, a tired comparison to make given the difference in style the bands seem to have. Mansionair are nominated for awards all over the place - and if they can achieve that much with two songs, 2015 should be a very, very big year.