Every month, we round up our favourite recent releases from local acts and explain why you should get them around them.
Last month, we reviewed new tracks from the likes of Dorsal Fins, Amaru Tribe and King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard, you can check that article out here. Otherwise, read on for the hottest new music this month from Melbourne and regional Victoria.
Keep up with the latest music news, features, festivals, interviews and reviews here.
Romero – ‘Talk About It’
(Cool Death Records)
‘Talk About It’ is the opening track on Romero’s debut album, Turn It On! The Melbourne outfit are still relative unknowns, but the lived in, bullish sound of ‘Talk About It’ is an apt set-up for what’s to come. ‘Talk About It’ begins with blazing electric guitars, sounding not unlike The Strokes circa Is This It (or is it Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers circa ‘American Girl’?)
Turn It On! is out via local indie label, Cool Death Records, who’ve put out records by Tyrannamen, Power and Low Life – all bands who made statements about contemporary psychic squalor while borrowing freely from rock music history. Romero follow suit, though the most salient point of comparison is Royal Headache.
According to an interview with Pitchfork, the album’s production aesthetic was influenced by the sound of Royal Headache and the first two Strokes albums, as well as Philadelphia hard rockers Sheer Mag. But the quintet of vocalist Alanna Oliver, guitarists Adam Johnstone and Fergus Sinclair, bass player Justin Tawil, and drummer Dave Johnstone, make the throwback sound come alive on ‘Talk About It’.
Oliver’s lyrics are directed at someone who’s struggling to talk about how they’re feeling. It’s hard to tell whether she’s gentling prodding them to speak or mocking them for their paranoia. Either way, the song’s “Do you wanna talk about it?” chorus hook will jam itself into your brain.
Zretro – ‘Superpower’
Tell me, is beginning a song with a chorus a good idea? Zretro’s ‘Superpower’ argues the affirmative. “Tell me, why is understanding me your superpower?” sings Zima, one half of Zretro, at the top of ‘Superpower’. Zima, an acolyte of nineties and early noughties R&B, continues, “You know what I’m thinking even by the hour.”
These lines, which comprise the first of the ‘Superpower’ chorus, are repeated many more times before the song’s conclusion. The wonder and sense of disbelief in Zima’s voice never fades. “This song represents the fire and the passion I enter my interactions with and how I knew love when I was young,” Zima said in a statement.
Zima and his partner in crime, producer 2nd Thought, are joined on ‘Superpower’ by Sengambian Jazz band guitarist, Luke Kozanski, and bass player Horatio Luna. 2nd Thought dials in an MPC drumbeat with a firm kick drum sound and adds some atmospherics keys. Most importantly, the three accompanists succeed in staying out of Zima’s way.
Zima recently appeared on Triple R’s The Score, where he was asked what Usher song he would cover. ‘Superstar’ was his answer, referring to a lesser-known track from Usher’s commercial mega-success, Confessions (the album with ‘Yeah!’, ‘Burn’ and ‘Caught Up’). He proceeded to sing it live on air. It was great, but ‘Superpower’ guarantees the next time he’s in a radio studio, the focus will be squarely on Zretro.
Teether – ‘One Layer’
(X Amount Records)
Teether can do no wrong at present. ‘One Layer’ is the lead single from MACHONA: Afar, You Are an Animal, the Naarm-based MC’s upcoming fourth solo album, due on May 27. MACHONA follows last year’s Glyph, a collaboration between Teether and producer Kuya Neil, which reached a wider audience thanks to support from Chapter Music and Triple R Album of the Week honours.
In March, 2022, Teether linked up with jazz and funk bass player, Don Glori, on the comically braggadocious jam, ‘Dizzy’. Meanwhile, Teether self-produced, recorded, and mixed MACHONA during a three-month stint of lockdown solitude. Teether was also without an internet connection during this period, but the literal disconnection has not hampered the MC’s knack for drawing in listeners to follow his every word.
‘One Layer’ runs for just one minute and twenty seconds, during which time Teether’s flow is practically uninterrupted. The scratchy electric guitar instrumental sounds more like Yves Tumor than the Soulquarians vibe of ‘Dizzy’, and it’s a perfect fit for Teether’s sort of anxious, sort of don’t give a shit rhymes.
“Internet ancient,” he says, early in the track. “Preaching to a valley of anxious faces.” What might be causing the anxiety? Some suggestions: “My ni**as got Centrelink payments,” Teether says. He adds, with a knowing grin, “I’m essential to the State / Still, I played chicken with the pigs on the way.”