Every month, we round up our favourite new releases from local acts and explain why you should get them around them.
Dallas Woods – ‘Grime’
Pop history includes a number of excellent songs with musicologically descriptive titles. Elliott Smith’s ‘Waltz #2’ is a waltz; R.E.M.’s ‘New Orleans Instrumental No. 1’ is an instrumental recorded in New Orleans; and Kano’s ‘New Banger’ is, indeed, a banger. We can add Dallas Woods’ ‘Grime’ to the list, as the song’s energy, production and rhymes are all E3 AF.
Grime is distinguished from hip hop not just for its Britishness, but for the fact that it didn’t evolve out of funk, jazz and soul, but from UK garage, jungle and Jamaican dancehall. Woods’ ‘Grime’ so convincingly echoes the sound of London pirate radio circa early-00s that producer Jerome Farah deserves an artist credit. That said, rapping on an old school grime beat is a high intensity work out, and Woods proves his match fitness.
Allara – ‘Birthing the Resistance’
Yorta Yorta musician Allara created the new multi-artform project, diyalana, with her yamak (cousin), visual artist Coree Thorpe. ‘Birthing the Resistance’ is the final track on the diyalana EP, each of which is paired with an original painting by Thorpe.
Allara, a double bass player and songwriter, dedicates ‘Birthing the Resistance’ to the “strength, resilience, fight and straight up deadliness” of the Yorta Yorta mob. It’s an instrumental piece that revolves around a gliding, minimal jazz groove, in four-four time, spliced with recordings of bird calls. Rather than being disruptive, the alternating textures are entirely transportive.
Allara shared a statement along with the project, explaining “We do not accept ignorance, therefore we hope that this project inspires you to learn about the Country where you live, and the people that came before you.”
Ferla – ‘Too Dark To See’
Giuliano Ferla is a dependable shapeshifter. He and his band stick to a core sound that’s built on tinny guitars, cheeky synth patches, soft disco grooves and a vocal croon saturated with feeling. It’s a bit ’80s but in a decrepit way, like Spandau Ballet covered in cat scratches. But on each new outing, Ferla’s objectives seem somewhat altered.
On ‘Too Dark to See’, his vocal posture is more Jarvis Cocker than Tony Hadley. He sounds both complicit and disturbed by the woes of the world. “How many people did my people have to kill / Just so I could Netflix and chill?” Ferla asks in one the song’s goofier, but no less effective lines.
It’s rich, generous pop music. The band’s new album, Personal Hotspot, is out on Thursday March 3.
The Teskey Brothers (feat. Emma Donovan) – ‘Get Back to the Land’
(Ivy League Records)
The purpose of music criticism is not to explain the ins and outs of your taste to the reader, but one’s biases do inevitably play a part. The Teskey Brothers are a bunch of white beardy guys from Warrandyte who call themselves a soul band, and that’s just never sat right with me.
But the band’s new single includes two things I absolutely love: it’s a cover of Archie Roach’s ‘Get Back to the Land’ and it’s performed as a duet with Emma Donovan. Credit to the Teskeys: it’s terrifically executed, tender enough to encourage reverie and sufficiently heartfelt to tickle the tear glands. It’s neither schmaltzy nor overplayed. It’s a real beauty.
Camp Cope – ‘Running With the Hurricane’
(Poison City Records)
In retrospect, Camp Cope’s previous single, ‘Blue’, was a bit of a “F-you, we won’t do what you tell us” moment. Not in terms of political intent or any explicit sloganeering; it was an alt-country number, low key and entirely hummable. But the subtext seems to have been, “Think you know us? Well you don’t.”
By contrast, ‘Running With the Hurricane’ reacquaints the band with the emo garage pop sound they’re best known for. Kelly Hellmrich is at her excitable best on the bass guitar, while vocalist Georgia Maq (who twilights as an electronic pop musician under the same name) declares, with patent relish, “Look out boys / I’m on fire and I’m not going out.”
Grace Cummings – ‘Raglan’
(Sugar Mountain Records)
Grace Cummings chooses her words carefully on ‘Raglan’, a slow folk song from the Melbourne artist’s new album, Storm Queen. But Cummings’ literary economy is in service of evocation, and not explication.
We’re left wondering, could Raglan be the street that runs through Preston, from Moon Dog World to High Street? And is “Buddy”, who Cummings addresses in the song’s first line, a dog? A friend? A shadow? Finding the answers isn’t particularly urgent as ‘Raglan’ captivates on repeat listens even as the mysteries go unexplained.
One line that requires little decoding, however, is a reference to “watching the record spin.” On the turntable, it’s “Highway 61 again,” sings Cummings. Bob Dylan might’ve been on Cummings’ mind when writing the song, but the arrangement, with its injection of fiddle and duelling acoustic guitars, recalls heroes of the English folk-rock revival, such as Richard & Linda Thompson and Sandy Denny.
Partner Look – ‘Geelong’
We’re still a week or so away from Partner Look’s debut album, By the Book, but it’s a shoo-in for the indie pop album of the year conversation. The Melbourne band, comprising members of the Ocean Party, Cool Sounds and various other projects, have already shown they’re experts in the field.
The band’s latest single, ‘Geelong’, is simple, but insistent. It consists of just two parts – a verse and a chorus – but it’s not by-the-book pop-rock. The chorus sounds like a pre-chorus, climbing to a peak, but never offering a yummy slice of resolve. Meanwhile, the verse sounds like krautrock for kids, playful, repetitive and hopeful.
Check out Partner Look in more detail here.