Oh boy, you can smell how close we are here. Into the top 40 with a mix of American heartbreak, Australian soul-searching, New Zealand uncertainty and utter English chaos. What more could you want? As always: Make sure you’re up to date by reading parts one, two and three by clicking on those respective numbers. Alright, onwards!
40. Flume feat. MAY-A – Say Nothing
Taking the most promising young star of Australia’s pop scene and pairing her with the country’s hottest electronic producer of the last 15 years? Well, that’s like pouring petrol on a burning man, isn’t it. As such, ‘Say Nothing’ combines both the hushed awe spectacle of a towering bonfire with the cinematic cool of walking away from an explosion without looking at it. MAY-A vocally invests an injection of Gen-Z melodrama (which made it pitch-perfect for the Heartbreak High reboot), while Flume’s deft, structural peaks and valleys ensure the human touch comes rushing back to the normally-artificial environment. Enough said.
39. Gang of Youths – brothers
Alone at a piano, David Le’aupepe swears to tell the truth and nothing but… before proceeding to detail his father’s lies throughout the entire first verse. He then gives a guided tour of his siblings, including those he only found after his father’s passing. It’s a tough listen, but also one of the most stirring, impactful moments in Gang Of Youths’ entire canon. It brings entire arenas to stunned silence – quite the task when they’re being roused by the band’s usual kitchen-sink maximalism. It goes to show the power of honesty, of age-old balladry… and, of course, the truth.
38. Danger Mouse & Black Thought feat. Run the Jewels and A$AP Rocky – Strangers
When explaining hip-hop on Under a Rock, Wyclef Jean teaches Tig Notaro how to coolly respond with one word: “Bars”. It’s a shame ‘Strangers’ wasn’t around back then, as it would’ve been the perfect tester. No-one involved here has anything to prove, yet each comes at the task at hand like an up-and-comer that’s just been given their big break. Danger Mouse is back on his scrunch-face bullshit, letting Black Thought, A$AP, El-P and Killer Mike cypher in and out while mercilessly dropping… you guessed it, bars. If you aren’t fucking with this, you’ve clearly been living under a rock.
37. Tasman Keith – LOVE TOO SOON
Long before he dreamed of rap stardom, Tasman Jarrett keenly watched pop’s throne as a child. He dreamed that, one day, the star of the song would be the man in the mirror. ‘LOVE TOO SOON’, after all these years, is a fulfilment of both destiny and fantasy. With a ricocheting Kwame production that turns our hero into a lovelorn robot, this show-stopping single two-steps its way into a lit-up floor filler that gives its sizzling electro a real sense of electricity. Some artists stand on the shoulders of giants. Not Tasman Keith, though. He prefers to just dance instead.
36. Spoon – Wild
Jack Antonoff is the right-hand man of literally the most famous person in the world, and still finds the time for Austin weirdos Spoon. Not every band commands that kind of respect, so you’d best believe they’re still worth your attention after nearly 30 years and 10 studio albums. ‘Wild’ is the choice cut from Lucifer On The Sofa, pitting Britt Daniel’s gnarly howl against hammering hi-hats and off-beat piano that’s pure ‘Sympathy For The Devil’. It’s classic rock, through the lens of the producer at the pinnacle of modern music. It’s just the way they get by, after all.
35. Thelma Plum – When It Rains It Pours
Thunder only happens when it’s raining, and oh didn’t it rain in 2022. As the sky openly wept across the east coast for months on end, Thelma Plum was desperate for silver linings and a sense of belonging. ‘When It Rains It Pours’ was her attempt at navigating through this tide of emotions, concocting universal feelings even while simultaneously namechecking staples of her native Brisbane. Through the devastation, Plum’s tender delivery offers the comfort of a warm blanket. How will you know if ‘When It Rains It Pours’ starts to hit different? When the rain washes you clean, you’ll know.
34. Charlie Puth – Light Switch
There were two ways ‘Light Switch’ was experienced by fans: Piece by piece on Puth’s notorious TikTok account, or in its immediate, final form with its goofy, self-aware video. Both journeys have their advantages, but the destination is equally satisfying regardless. After a self-confessed false start in 2019, ‘Light Switch’ feels like the proper successor to his Sandra Dee-like reinvention on 2017’s game-changing ‘Attention’. Its neon-tinged pop rush recalls ‘Boys of Summer’, while also taking in the borrowed nostalgia of modern pop giants like The Weeknd. When those breathy “yeah”s hit and that ingenious chorus hook lands, though? All Puth.
33. Flowertruck – Likelihood
When he’s performing live, Flowertruck frontman Charles Rushforth possesses a particularly manic expression on his face – as if he’s simultaneously being told incredibly good and incredibly bad news. That sense of emotional extremity forms the epicentre of ‘Likelihood’, a song that puts perspective on brutal honesty through a lens of refined, slow-motion jangle rock. Its lyrical perspective feels almost nihilistic, while its tasteful rumbling drums and ringing guitar chords feel positively bohemian. Somewhere, in the midst of it, the odds of finding yourself relating deeply drastically go up. Life ain’t always flowers, folks. Sometimes, it hits like a truck.
32. Dry Cleaning – Anna Calls from the Arctic
Dry Cleaning could have easily followed up their debut album with a second album that sounded like… well, their debut album. No-one would have batted an eyelid, either – after all, they’d already carved a pretty considerable niche for themselves with their striking sprechgesang and robust post-punk. On the opening track of Stumpwork, however, the London band doesn’t double down – it side-steps. Florence Shaw’s quizzical, understated delivery remains the same, but she now finds herself in the midst of a bubbling electronic beat, slinking bass and smooth-jazz saxophone. True to its titular location ‘Arctic’ is cool as you please.
31. Sly Withers – Radio
To borrow a pop-punk album title, Sly Withers are the same old blood rush with a new touch. There’s familiarity, certainly, but also subversions of tropes. They take an extremely common song title and position it as a sentient enemy. They sing of love you can’t move on from, and surmise it with the pitch-perfect metaphor of “you are the food/that’s stuck between my front teeth”. They play emu – the beloved jargon term for Aussie emo – and make it feels as explosive as it felt circa 2005. Greatness is what they aim for, and their aim is true.
30. Florence + The Machine – Free
With nearly 15 years in the limelight, we’re still figuring Florence Welch out. When you think you have the answers, she changes the questions. When you’re expecting another fantastical voyage, she gets starkly, shockingly real about her personal life. When you figure another maximal endeavour of harps, choirs and bells is on the cards, in comes the primitive boom of an early drum machine and the rumble of the bass. ‘Free’ is one of the most un-”Florence” songs Florence + The Machine songs – which, in itself, might make it one of the most “Florence” Florence + The Machine songs.
29. David Knudson feat. Jake Snider – Jealous Time Steals
In 2002, Minus the Bear released Highly Refined Pirates – one of math-rock’s true genre-defining albums, complete with dazzling finger-tapped guitar parts and rousing emotive hooks. 20 years on, Dave Knudson (responsible for said tapping) made his solo debut – but didn’t come alone. Enlisting his former band’s frontman, Jake Snyder, to add understated vocal texture to his intricate indie arrangement is not just the perfect touch. It’s also the closest we’re likely to get to any kind of Minus the Bear reunion. Plus: When the triumphant horns kick in, it feels as warm and familiar as a Pachuca sunrise.
28. The 1975 – I’m In Love with You
Here’s the next instalment in The 1975’s endless quest to replicate the decade that started five years after their namesake. On this windows-down, soft-lens highway cruise, the band let the guitars chime and the doe-eyed hook syncopate itself directly into your conscience. It’s been a minute since they wrote a love song that was just a love song – ie. not moonlighting as a “what if phones but too much” or a “we’re living in the apocalypse” song. Much like the rest of Being Funny in a Foreign Language, The 1975 succeed when they get out of their own way.
27. Camp Cope – Running with the Hurricane
Georgia Maq, story goes, once found a song written by her dad – the late, great Hugh Macdonald – with this very title. Though she never liked the song, she always loved the titular imagery. It eventually became both its own song and the title of Camp Cope’s endearing, defiant third album. In its new life, the title becomes at one with the chaos of the world it’s inherited. Kelly-Dawn Hellmrich’s bass runs around it, Sarah Thompson’s drums power through it and Maq soars above it. Though their directions differ, they unify amidst the turmoil. Look at us now, dad.
26. Silversun Pickups – Alone on a Hill
Across 20 years together, bassist Nikki Monninger has been just as big a part of Silversun Pickups’ sound as Brian Aubert’s gender-bending lead vocals and pedal-stomping guitars. Though she’d taken centre-stage partially on 2015’s ‘Circadian Rhythm’, ‘Alone on a Hill’ marks her first-ever solo lead vocal. Glassy and timid, it boasts a stirring, emotive undercurrent with steady builds. Its subtle arrangement might pass you by on first listen, but over time you’ll find yourself entirely submerged in the mesmerising balladry on offer. In the year we all ran up that hill again, Silversun Pickups found pause in stillness and solitude.
25. Fleshwater – The Razor’s Apple
On ‘Funeral Sound’, from Vein.FM’s killer This World is Going to Ruin You, the band experimented with the spectrum between grungy alt-rock and downtuned alt-metal. Several of the band’s members then chased this rabbit even further down the hole months later with Fleshwater, giving a metallic finish to ‘Everlong’ style riffs and Throwing Muses-style vocals, care of not-so-secret weapon Marisa Shirar. Converge‘s Kurt Ballou provides production, cramming the band’s sound into a compact force while simultaneously allowing for the drop-B crunch of the triple-guitar prong to weave in and out of the splashing drums. Come, take a big bite.
24. Ball Park Music – Manny
Who is Manny? Why is the battery’s power so rapidly deteriorating? What, on all of God’s green earth, does “the last time they put us down/We had to slow down/And man, it felt good” mean? Perhaps we’ll never know – but, as Chazz Michael-Michaels once said, it’s provocative. The banner-dropping opener of Weirder and Weirder saw Ball Park Music rock out on a jangly one-chord jam that has everything you need: guitarmonies, a synth-bass breakdown and big dumb loud lyrics to sing as bigly, dumbly and loudly as you like. It’s always nice to be alive when Ball Park return.
23. The Northern Boys – Nobody Likes Me
How do you follow up a viral smash full of spit-take lyrics and a killer sample of a beloved 2000s banger? Easy: Make another viral smash full of spit-take lyrics and a killer sample of a beloved 2000s banger. Duh. What did you think we were going to say? ‘Nobody Likes Me’ is a big-budget sequel that largely follows the same plot as the original. Unlike The Hangover Part II, however, there are plenty of laughs to be had between Patrick and Norman’s entirely-unhinged bars about horny dogs, even hornier trans people and the horns of death. Keep dancing, Kev.
22. Zach Bryan – Something in the Orange
Back when country stars first emerging, you’d likely find them on some variety show. Zach Bryan came of age where no such thing existed, so he made his own must-see viewing: bare-bones YouTube videos. Years after the fact, he’s the biggest new name in the genre and, arguably, in American music entirely. You’ve got this heart-tearing confessional to thank, which TikTok’d its way into the yeehaw agenda while also pleasing elder-millennial traditionalists. With gritty vocal delivery, sorrowful fiddle and a chorus designed to be howled at the moon, ‘Orange’ is a new age of country dawning from an all-night revival.
21. The Beths – Knees Deep
For a genre literally called power-pop, The Beths sure do sing a lot about uncertainty and anxiety. For all the heft of their guitars and the rush of their arrangements, they’ll routinely contrast it with confessionals pertaining to their own shortcomings. That’s not a complaint, by the way – if anything, it makes them all the more human. Yeah, we can play crazy solos and write choruses that’ll get stuck in your head for weeks – but we’re shy! Everyone’s complicated, and ‘Knees Deep’ revels in that very fact. Antithetical to its title, however, you’ll want to cannonball directly in.
Listen to the DJY100 thus far in the Spotify playlist below: