Whilst most of the weeks this year have been really easy to find great stuff for the playlist, I actually found this week a little trickier. The standard of Australia music has been so great so far this year (and that hasn’t changed) that I haven’t ventured into overseas music too much at all, but this week there were a few OS songs that I couldn’t resist. As always, please feel free to send through links to any tunes that you think I should check out! (email me at mick (at) mickrad.com)
A six-piece from the Northern beaches of Sydney, Ocean Alley, have been working their way around the traps for a few years, but last Friday they dropped their second album, Chiaroscruro, and it’s jumped out at me with it’s smooth guitar licks and groovy af rhythms. You might recognise The Comedown from the Hottest 100 last year, but their latest track, Confidence, is the one I’ve popped in the list today. Love the bass, love the groove and even though summer is at its end, it makes me want to cruise around the streets with my windows down. Check ‘em out at Groovin’ the Moo if you’re heading out, but there’s also a few big headline shows as well.
Back in 2005, a young talent from UK released a song on My Space that caught the world’s attention. It was was called Smile and she was called Lily Allen. Now, officially Lily Rose Beatrice Cooper, but still releasing music as her maiden name, she returns with a couple of new tracks to come from just her fourth album. One, called Higher is a soft little electro-pop number, but the one I’ve gone with is a beautifully versed little piano ballad called Three. Sung from her daughter’s perspective, it’s a cute little track and one that shows her tender side. I’m looking forward to this new album and the new direction she’s heading.
BLESSED is a Ghanese born Sydneysider that has been slowly working his way to this release after a great EP, Love Letters, last year. His single, My World made everyone turn and notice him, but this new track is sure to give him some extra exposure. Superfly is a low-key funk-tinged alt-hip-hop track that is hard to pigeon-hole. It’s what makes it so unique though. The booming bass drum underlies some clever and intricate production including guitar licks and positive lyrics, it’s a tune with a lot to like. Sounds like he’s coming into his own.
Having already featured the first track from The Venus Project, I couldn’t resist adding another one from the new project, instigated by Brood’s Georgia Nott. It’s especially important, with International Women’s Day just passed (and it’s release day), that this album is made entirely by women, from its inception, writing, production, mastering to release and marketing. Numb is a cracker of a song. From it’s self-affirming lyrics to the building, pulsing drive of the verses, it’s a powerful tune and one that really stood out for my on the album, Vol. 1.
This next track was a gimme. It’s the new one from Luca Brasi called Let It Slip, and do they ever make a bad song? Sure, there’s a bit of a formula to their track, interesting lyrics, a tight rhythm section and belting chorus, but, well, that’s not a formula, that’s just great song-writing. This track, not one of their rockier numbers, coincides with a more intimate tour (Lansdowne this Saturday!) and raises the possibility of a new album this year. Any year there’s a new album from the Taswegians is a good year!
If Luca didn’t do it for you, then you’re hard to please, but here’s something even more feel-good. Just add the letter I to the start and you get ILUKA! This Sydney artist has been creating soulful tunes for a number of years, but as she prepares to release a new EP, she has dropped the title track, Ritual. With her powerful voice driving the bouncing track, it’s the combination with the band that I really like. The track was apparently melancholic and sad originally, but it’s transformed into somewhat of a carefree soul-dance tune. The EP is out on the 6th of April and feels like it could be a destination of smiles and joy.
As a child of the ‘90s, I was especially a fan of Aussie alternative acts like Automatic, Bluebottle Kiss, Ammonia and later Eskimo Joe and Kisschasey; so when I heard a track from Slowly Slowly last year called Aliens, it took me right back to those old bands and made me smile, because it made me realise that music always comes back around. This brand spanking new track, Alchemy, from the Melbourne four-piece is a rocky little number that makes me want to jump stupidly around a crowd with a smile on my face. There’s a punky feel to the track (and yes, the comparisons to Blink 182’s guitar can’t be denied), but it’s nicely sung, produced and makes you want to yell, “We’re making goooooooold!” This is sure to set the band up for a huge 2018.
Hinds seemed to come out of nowhere in 2016. This Spanish (yes… from Madrid) four-piece burst onto the international stage with Leave Me Alone, so anticipation was high for their follow-up. It seems that it’s just a few weeks away and this tune, The Club, teases where they’re headed. It’s an up-beat little indie tune that will start the album and the band are calling it their ‘Presentation Card’ as a perfect example of who Hinds are. Just like handing out your company card at a mixer, right? Their second album, I Don’t Run, is due out on the 6th of April and damn, I think it’s going to fun as hell!
Ok, let’s take a down a little, shall we? Beach House released two albums in 2015, a b-sides album the year after and then took a deserved break before this, their new release in a few years. Dive is an atmospheric, slow-burning dreamy track, for most of it. When it hits half-way, it goes double-time, the drums amp up and you could almost dance to it. It’s probably the most electro-rock, the group have ever gone and I dig it. There’s still those dreamy vocals and a mess of guitars, but it’s a cool change. Their 7th album is actually called 7 and it’s out on the 11th of May through Sub Pop Records.
If you know me, you know I dig a bass line. When I was looking for one last track for this playlist, I heard the first 20 seconds of this track and bass drum pulled me in, but the bass line grabbed me…but also… that voice. With this track, Colours (spelt the proper way), this duo, known as Thunder Jackson, from Los Angeles now have a total of two songs released and if this is any indication of their direction, there’s a future here. (Their first song is a doozy as well). I love the energy of this song with it’s pop sensibilities, but funk-infused rhythms. I’ll be watching these two with interest.