Before diving into the ten songs I loved the most this year, I want to thank everyone for your continued support for Homegrown Sounds. This project started as pretty loose idea at a friend's garage sale a few years back - one of those on-the-spot "lightbulb" ideas that I figured I'd never give another thought towards. But two-and-a-half years later it's evolved primarily into this music blog where we get to share some amazing songs and artists from across this country's indie and DIY community.
In 2021, we kickstarted Sounds from the Suburbs - a monthly evening of local live music from the comfort of everyone favourite suburban venue Gang Gang Cafe. While our twelve-month plan was cut short due to an August lockdown, we still achieved so much in those shows, and I want to thank you all for supporting that. You all performed beautifully, and you all came out in wonderful numbers. Seeing you all lose your shit during Helena Pop's set was, and still is, a special memory that I'll keep with me from this year.
Away from the stages, we got to do some more cool things on the page. We premiered some great new music, and interviewed some fantastic people. And in and amongst that we got to share lots and lots of new music with you all, most of them still ringing loud in my car stereo.
But below I'm sharing with you ten of them that stood out for me. Ten that stuck with me over the year, and introduced me to new artists, and kept me company in lockdown. Ten that meant something special to me, and ten that I think you should all listen to.
Middle Kids - Questions
I remember sitting in my new share house on a hot day and seeing the news of new Middle Kids. It was mid-January and bands were just starting to release new music again after the holiday period, and I was hungry to find my first love of the year. I saw Middle Kids were sharing Questions, the next single off their (at the time) upcoming new album, and thought "yeah maybe this could be the first song I love for the year".
And that's exactly what happend. I became obsessed for this song the day it was released. The bass, guitar tones, horns section, and the hand claps all came together seamlessly and laid the perfect foundation for lead-vocalist Hannah's words. This became a staple in my playlists, and I can't not think about hot summer days walking to my hospo job when I hear this song. I knew from day one this song would would make it to this list and I'm so excited it did. It's a glorious song.
Coconut Cream - Your Drug on Computers
I think the thing that drew me so this song in the first place was its name. Your Drug On Computers. What does that mean? Are my drugs on computers? Is it about buying drugs on the internet? Is it about the internet being a drug? What's is all about? - Well, don't think too much about it. I looked into it. It's about listening to Your Drug by Saskwatch on your laptop. But to be honest that makes for an amazing song name - for an equally amazing song.
Coconut Cream were introduced alongside the song as the first signing for Broth Records, the new label from Joji Malani (outgoing Gang of Youths), and you can hear why he made them his first. Listening to the hazy guitars soar over the catchy-as-hell chorus "Listen to 'Your Drug' on computers, I was enough to be your muse" is enough to make my knees wobble and my heart cry out for more. I adore this track a lot, and I'd love to share it with you again.
The Buoys - Lie To Me Again
Okay. This is possibly the catchiest song of the year? Maybe? The Buoys are known well for their punk rock tracks and explosive live sets, but Lie To Me Again came as a new direction for the band. The more pop-rock leaning track deserves to be recognised as a breakup anthem and one to scream to if you're in such a situation.
The hook for this song is second-to-none and I constantly looked forward to it for the three-odd weeks I listened to this song on repeat. "You could never stay just like you said, nothing that you did was what you meant. Lie to me again". That's good stuff, and I think a whole lot of people would agree, seeing that this song has launched nearly a half-million streams as of writing this. Lie To Me Again came with a great EP from The Buoys, but also a promise that the band have a lot of tricks up their sleeve and I think this is just a taste of it.
EGOISM - Lonely But Not Alone
2020 was the year of EGOISM for me. You You was one of one of the best of the year, and Here's The Thing was one of my favourites, followed soon by a the On Our Minds EP that sealed off my year. So it's no surprise really that I really loved the single they shared with us in 2021.
The duetting vocals between Olive and Scout is once again welcomed with open arms as they do so magically time and time again. The crunching break half-way through the songs is a stark contrast to their vocals, mirroring the contrast felt in the song's theme and title. But whatever the theme is to any given EGOISM song, this duo are heard like hearing the voice of an old friend - comforting and warm.
So maybe that's my takeaway from Lonely But Not Alone. Even at my loneliest times, I won't feel alone as long as I have bands like EGOISM to keep me company.
Check out their live set they did at the Sydney Opera House, with this track timestamped above. Immerse yourself in the sounds and colours of their performance and you'll see why so many people hold them dear to heart.
Genesis Owusu - A Song About Fishing
It's hard to pick out a favourite track from Smiling With No Teeth, the monster debut album from Genesis Owusu. Set aside the 2020 singles Don't Need You and The Other Black Dogs, the rest of the fifteen-track record is littered with hits that makes it the most challenging task to pick out one that stands out.
But for me, A Song About Fishing did come as the beginning of a beautiful finale to the album. The piano/bass/drum mix leading delicately into the chorus of "Rise and shine to dawn I wake to cast my net in a fishless lake" and for the soulful vocals to layer in the outro made this a track that's hard to ignore and easy to adore. Genesis Owusu is a smart and talented writer and it shows.
Ruby Gill - You Should Do This For A Living
Ruby Gill has been on everyone's radar since her 2018 single Your Mum, which left us hungry, nay, starving for more. After sharing Borderlines late last year, the Melbourne/Naarm singer-songwriter gave us something big to talk about this year by teaming up with an all-star choir for You Should Do This For A Living.
The track is a huge call-out from Ruby, who sings about how often and common it is for women to be taken advantage of in the music industry, and how much of the industry is still such a boys club. The weight of the song is reinforced by an all-female team working on the track, from recording, mastering, mixing, choir, photography, album art, and PR.
It's a breathtaking and amazing song, so it should come as no surprise that it's Ruby Gill painting the canvas. I say this over and over again whenever I talk about Ruby, but I'll repeat it because it's true - Ruby's up there with the best songwriters around right now and I think this is just the beginning of something real special from her.
PS. The live version of the song above is *kisses fingers* chef's kiss
NIDALA - One Of Those Days
One Of Those Days came just in time to keep me company during lockdown and to remind me that it's okay. I recall having a very busy weekend planned, and leading up to it I just was not in the mood. I wanted to stay at home and do nothing instead. Lockdown hit just a couple of days beforehand, and I was relieved to see those plans canceled.
But NIDALA taught me in this incredible song that it's okay to not want to go to these things anyway. You don't need to justify yourself and you don't need an excuse. It's okay to wake up and take things slow.
NIDALA sends this song with soaring soulful vocals that build up to the song's final drive home. The climax of One Of Those Days is what makes this such a special song for a truly special singer. This was my introduction to NIDALA and what an introduction it was. This song hit different for the time and it's stuck in my mind since.
Droves - View
2021 felt like a big year for Droves with new music. They shared some great new singles, including a re-mastered version of Time, and collected everything into a very neat self-titled EP. I write this looking back at the year for this band and think "holy shit, what a great year for Droves".
View was one that stood out a lot for me. It wakes you up with an immediate drum into, launching into a synth world that I can't get enough of. Every time I listen to this this song while driving I can't help but turn the volume dial up by a few extra marks and clap twice before belting out the chorus "You'll resign another piece of you, give up a memory enjoy the view".
Droves promised a lot in their music prior to 2021, and they definitely delivered on it. But in that itself, I think the new music we heard from them this year is promising a lot for what's to come, and I can't wait to see that soon.
Carousel Club - Calling You
One of the later songs to be delivered to us this year, Carousel Club blew me away with this summer anthem. Hidden amongst a sea of unread press releases in my inbox, I clicked this one at random and damn am I so glad I did. Marking the first release for the new Squinked Records, Calling You came with a hook that I was undeniably obsessed with. You can ask my housemate, he's an eye witness to me playing this song like 100 times in a row.
So if you're a fan of flowery, summer indie guitars and vocals akin to Spacey Jane, then you'll adore this. And if you love eating mangos for breakfast, watching test cricket, and caking yourself in mosquito repellent, then you'll love this as your soundtrack to the holiday season.
True Vibenation & A.GIRL - More Than You'll Ever Know
A song so memorable I honestly thought it came out last year. I saw this on one of my yearly playlists and thought "hold up this isn't a 2021 song?". True Vibenation and A.GIRL left such an impression on such a timeless sounding song that I was convinced this must have been around before the new year. But no, More Than You'll Ever Know blessed us in February and so it's a must have on my end of year recap.
True Vibenation are known mainly for their hip hop sounds and their vital place in the Sydney scene, going back to my college days when 90% of my music taste came from Big Village and Elefant Traks releases. But this time they teamed up with fellow Sydney-sider A.GIRL and served us a dinner-sized plate of soul food.
It's a classic sound and they perfected the soulful love song. "I can't promise fame and fortune, a big house with a little porch. I promise I'll love you though, more than you'll ever know" rings in the chorus and makes me feel like I'm falling in love again. In the year that we had, we needed a lot of love, and True Vibenation and A.GIRL delivered just that.