Ball Park Music – Manny
For fans of: the Dandy Warhols, Oasis, the Warlocks
Ball Park Music’s sixth album Weirder and Weirder does what it promises on the tin, crashing down with the India opener via Madchester Manny, a paisley-print raga that invites you to slow down and live a life without a screen. There’s more than a little play in the delivery, but it retains a serious message and provides the perfect entry point for the psychedelic, twisted album that follows. Another win for Brisbane’s top artistic pop band.
For more: Bizarre and Bizarre is out now. The group is on tour in June and July.
Local the Neighbor – Point Guard
For fans of: M83, Ash, Arcade Fire
David Quested grew up in Darwin and his music has an innate sense of the great outdoors. Point Guard is a bright, catchy pop track reminiscent of Springsteen if he was backed by the Stone Roses. This song is about wanting to open up and show someone the true self, taking a chance and letting your guard down. The guitars have that underwater sound, his whispery voice telling you to pay attention, while a drum machine keeps the catchy melody on cruise control. One of the benefits of being a wallflower is that you can recognize when it’s time to bloom.
For more: Listen to the previous single Cancel Me.
Montaigne – Make me feel if…
For fans of: Imogen Heap, Bjork, David Byrne
Montaigne’s alliance with Eurovision continues to pay off, as she teams up with fellow Icelandic artist Daði Freyr for this slice of unearthly pop music. Lyrically, this song is all about emotion, highlighting a newfound love that makes it “feel” a lot: home, loved, adorable, normal. Musically, however, it sounds like the output of a newly sentient computer programmed across Bjork’s entire discography. Montaigne uses his voice here in many wonderful ways: it’s operatic, but with a rhythmic, robotic quality, as it ticks like a clock and sounds like a cash register. It’s a singular production, and when Freyr enters, it’s like an unsettling disembodied voice. Montaigne recently collaborated with David Byrne, and it’s his blend of heart and machine that this track most resembles. A strange pop journey.
For more: Watch the appropriate Sims-esque music video from Thomas Rawle, once of the underrated band Papa Vs Pretty.
Astronaut Alex – Haircut
For fans of: Guided by Voices, Mika, Courtney Barnett
“New hair, new you” goes the saying and although it’s a rather mundane sentiment, it rings true most of the time. Astronaut Alex tells of the empowerment that comes with a change in image, bringing a person closer to their true self. She does it with the happiest, most effervescent track she’s released to date: it’s a car dance tune, unashamedly edging into new territory with mentions of Uno, hot chips, Grey’s Anatomy, his girlfriend Gina. (I swear there’s even a whistle in the mix somewhere.) Haircut celebrates the simple, messy joy of discovering who you’re meant to become — or at least feeling closer to them.
For more: Astronaut Alex’s next album, How to Grow A Sunflower Underwater, will be released on July 22.
Johnny Hunter – Dreams
For fans of: Echo and the Bunnymen, Tears For Fears, Faker
The frontman of this Sydney quartet, Nick Hutt is clearly indebted to British post-punk singers of the 1980s, and sometimes borders on histrionics, but that can easily be forgiven by anchoring a tune as strong as Dreams. With a timeless chorus that might skip exams and go straight to WS-FM, shimmering choral guitar and that city street propulsion you find in the best British pop, this song will hopefully find some acclaim. fans who still listen to the Donnie Darko and breakfast club soundtracks. A powerful tune, expertly performed and delivered with heart. What else is there, really?
For more: The first album Want is released on June 24. Listen to the previous single The Floor and Life.
Party Dozen feat. Nick Cave – Macca the Pooch
For fans of: Kirin J Callahan, the birthday party, the liars
Nick Cave’s first gigs with the birthday party were filled with slap-fueled, dissonant, nasty, and uncompromising violence. The group was expected to end up in the abyss, but instead they transformed into Bad Seeds and slowly became aged statesmen, artisans of lingering gothic piano ballads. about love and death. If he started now, Cave would produce songs like this track from Party Dozen (Kirsty Tickle and Jonathan Boulet’s new project), with bursts of screaming sonic assault, barely discernible vocals sung through the pavilion of a saxophone and neurons – Dull rhythmic tracks. Cave’s vocal presence would go unnoticed were it not for her credit, but her sonic influence is omnipresent in this track – in the uncompromising vision, the waves of noise and the breakdown she will cause you.
For more: The album The Real Work is released on July 6. Party Dozen opens for Spiritualized on June 16 as part of Vivid Sydney.
The Whitlams – The day John Sattler broke his jaw
For fans of: Perry Keyes, Paul Kelly, Maurice Frawley
Three decades after forming one of Australia’s most beloved boozy bar bands, Tim Freedman suddenly found the Whitlams in regular rotation on country radio. Rather than the result of a late career right turn, it was this golden cover of a Perry Keyes classic that got him there. Keyes is one of the country’s most underrated songwriters. Freedman has been singing his praises for a long time and is now singing his lines (sorry!). This rambling folk tune references the legendary 1970 rugby league incident when Rabbitohs captain John Sattler broke his jaw three minutes later and refused to leave the pitch, leading his team to a victory against Manly on the bridge. It’s the kind of bad luck morsel Freedman has proven himself with, the social commentary comparing the Redfern of old to the new gentrified, where new Labor sits in a mid-west terraced house watching – gasp – the AFL.
For more: The Whitlams recently released Sancho, their first album since 2006, and are touring the country.
Thelma Plum – Backseat Of My Mind
For fans of: Rihanna, Sia, the killers
After delivering one of Australia’s finest albums in years with 2019’s Better In Blak, Plum returned with a richer, more satisfying sound without betraying what made her debut album such a landmark release. Rightly so, given the heavy use of driving metaphors, Backseat of my Mind is a propulsive track, striking that happy medium between piano ballad and road trip anthem. It’s the perfect return to the spotlight. “I could hold the wheel forever if I knew you would be there too” is also a brilliant saying.
For more: Thelma Plum is on tour with Vance Joy from September and will also perform at the Kingscliff Beach Hotel, NSW on June 10.
Luke Steele – Gladiator
For fans of: MGMT, country Bob Dylan, George Harrison
After circling the cosmos on his Empire Of The Sun project, Luke Steele returned to Earth with a set of soothing songs on his debut solo album. Gladiator is the most gorgeous track on the album, a harmonically rich balm that floats slowly, leaning on timeless hooks, and a wah-slide that would be at home in the lobby of a day spa. “No one wants ruins, everyone wants the gladiator” is a fitting lyric for our action time regardless of the consequences. Steele’s voice has never sounded so good either, the robotic nasal replaced with a Lennonesque delivery that feels much more natural to him. Steele’s mature phase is welcome.
For more: Listen the water is out now.
Julia Jacklin – Lydia carries a cross
For fans of: James Blake, Beth Orton, Massive Attack
The ability of a minor chord or a well-placed key change to elicit emotion is one of the world’s few mysteries, and one that can easily be corrupted in order to indoctrinate young people into religion. After all, if you can feel a power rising within you when you listen to the Jesus Christ Superstar soundtrack — as Jacklin does in this dark, clever song — well, it might just be God. This song tells of the confusion of the Catholic school, where prayers for Princess Diana are fused with the songs of Andrew Lloyd Webber and the silent judgment of a teacher. It’s yet another masterclass in narrative songwriting from one of our best.
For more: The album Pre Pleasure is released on August 26.