Darren Hayes, Lisa Mitchell and Hatchie: the best new Australian music of February | australian music
The Black Cardinals – Broken Man
For fans of: The Black Crowes, Audioslave, Myles Kennedy
If you’re the kind of music fan who keeps the dial locked on Triple M and has the Four symbols tattooed on your skin, you might be a bit perplexed by recent reports of guitar music drifting away from the culture, pop stars and hip-hop producers invading the charts.
If that’s you, the Black Cardinals are your new favorite band – a roaring, roaring rock ‘n’ roll beast on stage, possessing all the swagger of Jagger and none of the credentials of Maroon 5. Built on a distorted oriental guitar riff which falls somewhere between Audioslave’s Cochise, Silverchair’s Israel’s Son and the Party of Five theme, vocalist Craig Cassar roars like Third Brother Robinson, alongside a band that dole out a steady bluesy backbeat. You better believe it all leads to a thrilling wah-wah-assisted shredding solo. Lighters off, please.
For more: Catch the Black Cardinals with Wolfmother and Shihad in March and April at Uncaged Festival in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.
Hatchie – Quicksand
For fans of: Charli XCX, Solange, Madonna
After years of jangle pop melodies and sugary shoegaze, Harriet Pilbeam has turned to the dance floor, with Quicksand sounding eerily like the pop music of 2022. It’s quite a change of style from an artist whose music used to fall somewhere between twee songs from Sarah Records and pedal-powered shredders like Ride and Slowdive, but it works like a charm. Quicksand packs the same scintillating joy of Madonna’s William Orbit tunes, with an underwater reverb swimming to a euphoric chorus that just might cross into So Fresh territory. Despite her claims in the chorus of sinking into quicksand, Hatchie soars high above the ground on this celestial gem.
For more: The album Giving The World Away is released in April. Until then, discover his first album of 2019 Keepsake.
Darren Hayes – Let’s Try To Be In Love
For fans of: Human League, Tears For Fears, Savage Garden
It’s been 10 long years since Darren Hayes last released music, and given that Bruno Mars, the Weeknd and a host of other artists have since claimed his disco brand 1985 AM to the eye- liner – scoring billions of streams in the process – it’s high time the Brisbane lad returned to show recent challengers what a hearty drum machine and his fantastic falsetto voice can really accomplish.
As befits the man who might write a Savage Garden radio hit in his sleep, it takes five seconds for the song’s hook to come up and slip into your brain, after which it hits it again and again, like if it triggered a soul sample. While Hayes’ version of EDM doesn’t involve a pre-programmed beat spinning soullessly to a predetermined drop, he achieves a similar effect in the bridge with a congo beat that sprints with wide-eyed childlike excitement towards the hook.
For more: Hayes headlines the Sydney 2022 Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade on March 5.
Methyl Ethel and Stella Donnelly – Proof
For fans of: MGMT, Avalanches, Empire of the Sun
A hypnotic call-and-response track that sees vocalist Jake Webb and guest Stella Donnelly nearly stuck in a state of echolalia, the trance-like repetition of words and phrases creating a perfect rhythmic device. After the pair spend a merry few moments bouncing syllables over a stabbing backing track, the track turns into a dreamy interlude that sounds like Luke Steele has been tasked with soundtracking a remake of NeverEnding Story. It’s an extremely weird pop song, but it’s so catchy that its quirks will go unexplored by many. Give it 20 plays and you’ll still notice cool little production flourishes buried in plain sight.
For more: New album Are you haunted? releases February 22.
A Place in Heaven – The Cradle
For fans of: Teenage Fanclub, Big Star, the Springfields
With a built-in swagger that sits at a slightly off beat (similar to a walk in a pool in jeans), The Cradle kicks down the door and cruises around confidently with the jangle and glee of a Teenage Fanclub song and a laconic antipodal drawl to boot. Sydney-based one-man-band A Place in the Sky is the product of Gavin Angus-Leppan’s lockdown malaise, with the haze of shoegaze-style production gloriously at odds with the bright vocal harmonies, melodic leaps major/minor and the jingle jangle of a sunny morning peering through the curtains. It’s deceptively layered, with pitch-perfect vocal harmonies allowed to trail lightly, lazily draped over the main melody as if recorded in one take by a motley psychedelic collective.
For more: The Isolation EP is out.
Grace Cummins – Always New Days Always
For fans of: Augie March, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Anohni
Always New Day Always radiates like a sepia-stained standard, the type of full-bodied record that would crackle on old gramophones as couples slow-dance as heartbroken tearfully fight back in the corner. Cummins’ voice is a truly arresting instrument – warm, deep, vulnerable and imbued with a timeless quality – which is good, given that it takes center stage on this strikingly rendered ballad, with carefully crafted acoustics. scraped, the only thing competing for space. A fanfare of choirs rush towards the end and take this criminally short song to the skies as a stillness descends upon the world.
For more: The entire Storm Queen album is just as wonderful.
Tasman Keith – 5FT FREESTYLE
For fans of: Baker Boy, Kendrick Lamar, Anderson .Paak
First Nations artist Tasman Keith begins 2022 thanks to a collaboration with Midnight Oil, an impressive team with rapper Kwame and a new contract with Sony. You’d be forgiven for thinking Keith is ready to celebrate his recent victories; his laid-back flow certainly suggests he’s having a relaxed time. But listen closely to 5FT FREESTYLE’s lyrics and you’ll see heaps of bodies lying in its wake, as it kills time and time again, rhyme after rhyme, with some of the most deft reprimands since Eminem decided to harbor a grudge against Moby. “[I] swim well, be Frank,” he begins, checking the name of his new label mate Frank Ocean, in the only complementary scream on this track. I won’t go through all the one-liners, it’s more fun to go blind, but rest assured, these are just warning shots.
For more: Keith is touring the east coast in March.
Lisa Mitchell – I believe in kindness
For fans of: Holly Throsby, Big Scary, Judy Collins
With all the stress of a dying planet, uncertain financial markets, a budding civil war, the unending pandemic, and executives scoring brownie points on social media platforms owned by evil corporations – and the sale of Wordle – n isn’t it time we all took a breath and turned to something a little sweeter? I Believe in Kindness is a hazy melody, functioning much like Savage Garden’s Affirmation: A Wish List for a Broken World. Mitchell believes that kindness, nurturing, silence, conversation and love are an integral part of human nature. It’s a good start. “Can you feel it?” she asks, and I almost can.
For more: Lisa Mitchell will tour nationally from May to July. His fourth album A Place to Fall Apart will be released in 2022.
Confident man – feels like a different thing
For fans of: Technotronic, Snap!, C&C Music Factory
In the early 90s, when Sydney’s Central Station dance label was churning out faceless, swappable Eurotrash dance singles, hoping one would land on the charts and make a fortune out of it, they allegedly jumped at the chance to release Feels Like a Different Thing. An anthemic dance floor filler anchored by bright, plastic piano sound and a drum machine breakbeat too obnoxious to argue with, Confidence Man seems to rip lyrics straight from an Aerobics Oz Style VHS and drench the chorus in vocals. life-affirming gospel. As they say, it’s different.
For more: Confidence Man’s album Tilt is out April 1st.
Camp Cope – Running with the Hurricane
For fans of: Jen Buxton, Tim Rogers, Lincoln Le Fevre
Camp Cope slips into alt-country territory in a big way with Running With the Hurricane, the second taster of their third album after recent single Blue. Beginning, like all good depressions, in a hole it cannot climb out of, songwriter and singer Georgia Maq details her relentless and brutal self-examination. Luckily, the Melbourne trio also deal in hope, with hard-earned feelings like “the only way out is up”, “break these chains” and “I’m going through the pain” cried hopefully towards the end of this hook, heartfelt ode. It turns out that movement is key – “moving with the bodies moving to a different sound” helping to overcome the angst. Luckily, with such a killer bassline, the movement is irresistible.
For more: Listen to the recent single Blue. The album Running With the Hurricane is released on March 25.