The Purple Sneakers Ten Best Songs Of The Year

moktar

After a whirlwind year, we’ve broken down our favourite songs of the year. If there are many massive exclusions, have no fear, this list was created in order to have minimal overlap with our albums of the year list, which will be published next week.

10. Skeleten – Live In Another World

Russell Fitzgibbon cut his teeth in Sydney’s tight-knit electronic community just as the city itself was forging its own identity. Now in his most evolved project to date, Skeleten, he creates an ode to dance floors and Sydney’s party scene alike. No track exemplified this more than his single, ‘Live In Another World’.

With a classic Detroit techno influence, Skeleten combines a looped drum pattern, tapping melodies and his eerie vocal to create an all enveloping and entirely unique sonic experience. As the track enters its second half, the melodies are pitched up, creating a sense of lifting euphoria. Tension builds and releases via the tracks percussive elements, with all the tracks individual pieces combining in its final third. The track’s been released with an incredible visualiser made by Skeleten himself, matching the tracks hypnotic qualities.

9. Felix Lush – Hits The Floor

An active member of electronic trio Gauci, Felix Lush is a familiar name in the Eora/Sydney underground scene, having contributed through an array of musical outfits and genres. Earlier this year he presented to the world an extension of the already adored Gauci sound, highlighting his incredible strength as a multi-faceted producer, bringing that pop centric, electronic sound into his own unique lane. 

He distills these distinct influencers into an extreme electronic form, toeing the lines between energetic and bratty pop. The end product is a stunning double single release, ‘Hits The Floor / Something Unique’. The top side of the release is ‘Hits The Floor’. A pop fuelled, hyperpop jam full of glitzy production tropes and an infectious vocal delivery.

8. DoloRRes – D.T.R

DoloRRes is one of our favourite up and coming artists. Based in Naarm, the multi-talented, multi-instrumentalist is creating music that is truely singular. Between touches of alternative hip hop, glimpses of electronica and experimental rock sits DoloRRes. This year he released his long awaited debut EP, ‘It’s All Happening Somewhere Else’.

The EP was created over a three year period, constantly tinkering with his sound to create a product that was holistic to his wide musical influences. The tracklist includes indie cuts, ‘How It Feels’ and ‘Subdivide’, bar and rap heavy cuts including, ‘Heelys’ and ‘Bitter Cold’ ft. Manny Müla & Savage The Girl) and a ballad number to see off the tracklist titled, ‘Overkill’. No track better describes his sound than ‘D.T.R’, an introspective and deeply emotional cut about communication in relationships. It’s slowly plucked guitar, inspired by Lauryn Hill’s ‘I Gotta Find Peace Of Mind’ sits perfectly underneath electronic percussion, pitched vocals and glitchy synths.

7. 1300 – Smashmouth

Eora/Sydney based Korean rap supergroup, 1300 (pronounced one-three-hundred) have taken the Australian music scene by storm with their short yet expansive discography. Following their breakthrough March single, ‘No Caller iD’, the group returned with yet another banger, this time by way of ‘Smashmouth’. 

The track showcases rappers rako, goyo, DALI HART, producer-singer Nerdie, and producer pokari.sweat’s unmatchable chemistry, creating a heavenly “clusterfuck” of incredible energy. With ‘Smashmouth’, they mould genres of trap fused hip hop and an electronic house bridge beneath multi-lingual vocal performances.

6. Ajak Kwai – Red Sands

Ajak Kwai is a name well known to the airwaves, stage, and broader Australian music community for her powerful performances and strong messages that call for inclusion and celebration of the diversity found throughout Australian society. Taken from her ‘Red Sands’ EP is the incredible title track. 

Thematically, the track highlights the similarities between the vast natural landscapes of her South Sudanese heritage and the land of First Nations people in Australia. It is not just the sand that the comparison is made for, rather she presents a broader, reflection on the systematic mistreatment and discrimination experienced by minority groups in Australian society, particularly for First Nations peoples.

5. Sycco – Past Life

Highly talented Brisbane based First Nations singer and songwriter Sycco (pronounced ‘psycho’) released her debut EP, ‘Sycco’s First EP’ this year. Defined by characteristics including catch hooks, psychedelic pop production all wrapped with a dance-inducing energy. With every twist and turn in the tracklist, comes a glowing radiance.

‘Past Life’ manifests this perfectly, Theres a sense of joy in its unique creative maneuvers, shifting through sonic territories with a sense of maturity and bliss. Despite its hopeful prospects, the tracks sentiments are raw and candid, acting as a release of bottled up emotions for the 19 year old artist.

4. Miiesha – Price I Paid

Miiesha is one of our favourite names in Australian Music. From the small, remote Aboriginal community of Woorabinda, Australia, Miiesha demanded attention from the moment that she stepped onto the Australian R&B landscape. The third single taken from her two EP project, ‘Smoke & Mirrors’ is one we absolutely fell in love with. 

‘Price I Paid’ is another emotional vignette into Miiesha’s journey in healing from past trauma. Her vocal delivery carries this pain and the power and strength that comes with it, creating an all encompassing, epic and emotional R&B banger.

3. B Wise – Ezinna (feat. Sampa the Great & Milan Ring)

With the release of his sophomore album, B Wise has solidified himself as one of Australia’s most prominent hip-hop figures. The record acts as a landmark moment, not just for his career, but for South-West Sydney, for kids of migrant backgrounds and for many people who have previously felt displaced by Australia’s music scene.

Our favourite track off it is it’s closing track, ‘Ezinna’ a double collaboration with Queen of Australia Sampa the Great and the great Milan ring. On the track Wise comes into his own, touching on finding his own personal identity and reconnecting with family.

2. Pretty Girl – Sun Phase

Pretty Girl is a name that rose to the top of Australian underground dance music this year, releasing her ‘Middle Ground’ EP on Gallery Records. What came before it though, was one of the most emotive singles of the year, ‘Sun Phase’.

‘Sun Phase’ acts as an ode to her home town of Naarm (Melbourne). A melting pot of vast and distinct sonic influences combine together to create a warm and soulful house groove. Ambient fused synth chords similar to the likes of Andras combine with an all enveloping percussion section, creating a headphone or sound system escape route from the happenings of the world. Her vocal acts as the glue to the tracks elements, chopping up spoken word syllables and melodies alike to give the track a personal, reflective and nostalgic feel.

1. moktar – Silk

Earlier this year, moktar released his debut EP on Steel City Dance Discs. The first offering from the project was the incredible, ‘Silk’, which is the best song of 2020. With ‘Silk’ and his project holistically, he combines dark sounds of club and underground techno with traditional Arabic instrumentation, emphasising his Egyptian Australian identity. With it, he’s breaking the repetitiveness of traditional club percussion with complex and traditional rhythmic ideas.

‘Silk’ starts as a club tool and banger. Gorgeous percussion sections combine with a slamming kick drum and an eerie melodic line. As the beat builds a vocal sample enters the mix, with each individual element serving an efficient and effective purpose. As the track builds, so does its meaning. It’s latter half features a mega-euphoric synth line, evoking more than just a club banger. It’s reflective, it’s gorgeous and hits in all the right places.

Words by Parry Tritsiniotis

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Parry Talks, and also writes.