Midnight Oil – Gadigal Land
For fans of: Cold Chisel, Dragon, 80s pub rock in general
This is the first new Midnight Oil song in 18 years, and we’ve never needed them more. With racial unrest, mass paranoia, and Australia plunging into a recession the likes of which we haven’t seen since the second world war, Midnight Oil come charging out of the gates with a monster riff and a simple, true proclamation: “Welcome to Gadigal land, welcome to Gadigal country.” Peter Garrett’s lead and Rob Hirst’s harmonies sound plucked from the band’s Blue Sky Mining era, while horns blast urgently, overwhelming even the distorted drive of the guitars. The band are joined by vocalists Kaleena Briggs, Bunna Lawrie, Dan Sultan, and Gadigal poet Joel Davison, who delivers a striking lyrical breakdown. It’s the first shot from The Makarrata Project – an EP of collaborations between the Oils and Indigenous artists, with all proceeds going to reconciliation charities. Forget the national anthem, let’s blast this at every sporting match in Sydney and beyond.
For more: The Makarrata Project is out in late October.
End of Fashion – BreakThru
For fans of: Motor Ace, Oasis, Richard Ashcroft
End of Fashion went from a Sleepy Jackson side project to a Triple J sensation, back in those mid-ought days when every band seemed to come from Perth and every song seemed to feature Katy Steele. They haven’t released a note for eight years, and haven’t troubled Triple J airwaves for 15, but anyone expecting an EDM reboot or something similarly troubling can rest easy. End of Fashion sound like they always did: big guitars, a sweeping Gallagher-esque chorus and Justin Burford’s impressive vocal reach driving the whole thing. This is all despite a complete lineup reboot, including Vanessa from Jebediah on bass duties. But with Burford’s soaring voice, this is unmistakably the same band that had you singing “Oh yeah” way back when.
For more: Check out their three studio albums, especially deep cut Oh Strain from their self-titled debut.
Kim Salmon and the Surrealists – Burn Down the Plantation
For fans of: Sonic Youth, the Birthday Party, the Drones
Kim Salmon’s CV is about as good as one gets. He can claim the likes of Kurt Cobain and Sonic Youth as his musical students and Bono as a tour-mate; he has added glorious noise to the world through seminal punk bands the Scientists and Beasts of Bourbon; and he has led the Surrealists through 33 years of uncompromising racket. Burn Down the Plantation is an untamed beast of a song. Opening with a guttural guitar riff and a messy shredding solo, and collapsing into Salmon’s off-key howling about our shameful history, this is a wholly improvised, chaotic dirge over five-and-a-half minutes and not at all for the faint of heart. It was written and recorded in the time it takes you to listen to it, one slither of a double album which came fully formed, ripped from the belly of the beast – or simply a product of 45 years of hard work.
For more: The double album Rantings From the Book of Swamp is out now.
Troye Sivan – Rager Teenager!
For fans of: Drake, Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber’s good stuff
It’s always interesting when someone young perfectly articulates the feeling of not being able to articulate what they are feeling. The need to escape in a sea of strangers, to misbehave for no reason, to give action to thoughts still unclear. Sivan is 25, so he isn’t quite the rager teenager highlighted in the song, but he is close enough to those teen emotions to recall them vividly, while having enough space to parse out some of what he was feeling at the time. Or perhaps it’s just a great club song. Either way, this fits in the pocket with all those other “seize the night” songs that mask depression with decadence. Interestingly, the hook of the song hangs off the word “you”, much like Drake’s Hotline Bling. But he follows a strong lineage: after all, both the Beatles and Nirvana’s best choruses are just the word “yeah” repeated. Sometimes words just don’t cut it.
For more: His six-song concept EP, In A Dream, is out now.
Briggs ft Thelma Plum – Go to War
For fans of: Public Enemy, Migos, AB Original
This is not a love song. Two of Australia’s finest, smartest voices team up for this aural assault on anyone who attempts to push against them. Over a relentless beat provided by producer Jayteehazard, Briggs wrote this song about frustration and fearlessness wholesale in the booth, dreaming up the lyrics as the emotion pulsed through him. In the press release, Briggs explains it captures that point “after every avenue is exhausted and every word has been said, every bridge has been crossed or burnt”. You can hear all of this and more on this visceral track.
For more: Briggs’ EP Always Was is out now.
Kit – King Size Bed
For fans of: PJ Harvey, Bully, Weezer
Fans of Katie Wighton’s band All Our Exes Live In Texas may detect a slight sub-audible country twang here, but for the uninformed, this is an unabashed rocker. King Size Bed is about when, as Joni Mitchell once sang, “the bed’s too big, the frying pan’s too wide”. But while Joni was pining for an absent lover, Wighton seems to be craving closer comfort from someone already lying next to her – when you cannot get near enough to a loved one, such is the intensity of feeling. It’s a particularly poignant track to release at this particular moment, given the physical touch we’ve all taken for granted is no longer available to many of us. Propelled by glistening guitars, and co-written by Jake Sinclair and Jenny Owen Youngs – both of whom have added their songwriting sparkle to Panic! At The Disco hits – this song starts at 11 and never lets off the gas.
Vera Blue – Lie to Me
Celia Pavey has just signed to Republic Records in the US, the label that turned Lorde and the Weeknd into mega-stars. It’s the perfect fit for her, given this song straddles the claustrophobic club songs of Lorde’s Melodrama, and the swoony R&B of the Weeknd’s After Hours. Lie to Me chronicles those tentative first steps into a new relationship: the war within your head, the second-guessing of yourself and your significant other. It’s anchored by a tropical beat that speaks of summers, while the lyrics paint in a moodier palette. These are also the best vocals Pavey has committed to tape thus far, strong and fearless, and showing none of the timidity of her earlier releases. If there is any justice, this will be an international hit.
For more: Listen to her previous single Rushing Back, with Flume.
Tim Minchin – Apart Together
For fans of: Randy Newman, the Whitlams, Ben Folds
Fastball’s The Way was a plaintive song about an elderly couple who simply upped and disappeared into the desert, which seemed like odd subject matter for a pop song back in 1998. The Way, like Tim Minchin’s latest, was inspired by a heartbreaking news story. Minchin’s tale is, unfortunately, a lot more common, detailing an elderly couple who froze to death in their trailer, the power having been cut off some time ago. Like Eleanor Rigby, it zooms in on the lonely forgotten people; like the Lovers of Valdaro who were found 6,000 years after freezing to death, Minchin posits that it may have taken until spring for their thawed-out bodies to be discovered. As with all Minchin’s stuff, it’s a little bit funny, it’s a little bit sad, and it finds the beauty and romance in even the most tragic of circumstances.
For more: The album Apart Together is out on 20 November. Listen to the first two singles, Leaving LA and I’ll Take Lonely Tonight, now.
Ball Park Music – Cherub
For fans of: The Shins, Simon and Garfunkel, Vampire Weekend
This is such a beautiful and delicate song that it’s no surprise to learn that Ball Park Music frontman Sam Cromack came up with the melody while gently rocking his baby off to sleep. The wordless falsetto hook recalls the first time you heard The Shins’ New Slang (or at least the first time Natalie Portman did) – it’s so wistful and lovely that it seems to have floated into the room on the afternoon breeze, much like the garden butterflies that feature on the single art and in the hypnotic video clip for the song. Then, the last 90 seconds of the song breaks, euphoric walls of guitar wash in and drown the fragile tune. Like a butterfly with the dust rubbed off its wings, it plummets into the earth. But we remember what it once was.
For more: Listen to the band’s recent singles Day & Age, and Spark Up!
Wolf and Cub – Blue State
For fans of: Primal Scream, Kasabian, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds
Adelaide band Wolf and Cub have skipped the psychedelics on their first track in seven years, and have delved into something darker and heavier. Yet the Hacienda beat still goes on, courtesy of new drummer Jonathan Boulet, who certainly knows his way around a thumping club rhythm. While Wolf and Cub previously dealt in dynamics, the lift and pull of most pop music, this track just builds and builds, a cacophony of guitars and everything else that isn’t meant to be listened to quite this loud. This song is a creeper though; much like the static at the end of Karma Police, you don’t quite realise until it envelopes you. A fine return.
For more: The band’s fourth album NIL is out soon.