Melbourne music: We review tracks from Chitra, FERLA, Birdz and more
25.11.2021

Melbourne music: We review tracks from Chitra, FERLA, Birdz and more

Melbourne music
Words by Augustus Welby

Every fortnight, we review the hottest new tracks and most interesting new music from Melbourne and VIC so you know which live acts to suss this weekend.

Last week in our best new music reviews, we had spots for HAAi, Dr Sure’s Unusual Practice and more. Check it out here if you missed it, otherwise, read on…

KYE – ‘Finest Quality’

(Sony Music Entertainment)

 

KYE’s debut EP, Good Company, deals almost exclusively in good vibrations. ‘Finest Quality’, the Zimbabwe-born and Melbourne-based artist’s latest single, carries a disco-house groove supplied by one of the best in the biz, Michael Di Francesco (Touch Sensitive).

That said, the song begins with KYE referencing her enemies and the hatred directed towards her, a thematic slant that threatens to unsettle the track’s Apollonian phiz. The threat is short-lived, however, as KYE recognises the poisoned energy to be the product of petty jealousies and insecurities.

I got what you need,” she sings in the song’s spectral chorus. “Highest pedigree, finest quality.” You’ll hear no quibbles from me.

Chitra – ‘Give Up’

(Our Golden Friend)

 

On ‘Give Up’, Chitra and her band sound more in charge of their craft than on any previous release. It’s a small song, a simple song, an exercise in saying more with what you don’t say. For instance, although it’s an indie pop and folk number in the style of Big Thief and Angel Olsen, ‘Give Up’ doesn’t even really have a chorus.

‘Give Up’ is a send-off to a ne’er do well ex (be they lover or friend). But the most savaging part is how liberated Chitra sounds while vocalising with all her might in the song’s lyric-less coda. In Chitra’s hands, the combination of three chords and a space to make noise in is made to seem like a paramount therapeutic method.

FERLA – ‘Nothing Else Matters’

(Independent)

 

A few months back, Elton John told Howard Stern that Metallica’s ‘Nothing Else Matters’ is “one of the greatest songs ever written.” It certainly is a song, so Elton got that part right. But one can’t help but wonder whether Sir Elton wasn’t actually thinking of FERLA’s new single, also titled ‘Nothing Else Matters’?

The exalting praise would make a lot more sense were that the case. FERLA’s ‘Nothing Else Matters’ is all class, no schmaltz. Singer Giuliano Ferla sets himself in a low register that aptly complements the song’s lyrical absurdity. It’s a slow moving, downtempo number. A bit wet and a bit daft. But, with lyrics like, “At the crest of my soul, a foaming hole, of rock’n’roll,” it’s a ten out of ten.

Birdz – ‘Aussie Aussie’

(Bad Apples Music)

 

Proud Butchulla man Birdz has a unique talent for making hip hop anthems out of grim subject matter. Birdz’ skill in this area brings to mind a comment from John Lennon on the success of ‘Imagine’. “Because it is sugarcoated,” said Lennon, “it is accepted.”

But to be fair, Birdz doesn’t sugarcoat his accounts of the daily struggles of modern-day Blak Australians. From a lyrical point of view, ‘Aussie Aussie’ is every bit as enraged and unforgiving as the work of Birdz’ peers, Briggs and Jimblah. “We just want our fucking land back,” goes the song’s central hook. “We still living, they can’t stand that.”

But despite these dispiriting truths, ‘Aussie Aussie’ is one the catchiest boom bap tunes in the now Melbourne-based MC’s oeuvre. If Birdz keeps this up, Indigenous hip hop might just live out its revolutionary potential.

Gabriella Cohen – ‘Just For the Summer’

(Independent)

 

The list of why Gabriella Cohen’s music deserves more attention is a long one. Right up the top is Cohen’s ability to develop clear and absorbing narratives within the bounds of conventional pop structures.

Cohen makes pop music in the style of Phil Spector’s 1960s hit factory (albeit without all the sociopathy). On ‘Just For the Summer’, producer Sam Cromack (Ball Park Music) brings a fleshiness to the song’s familiar dynamic transitions.

This leaves Cohen to relay a story of Grease­-style summer lovin’, which didn’t end as she might’ve hoped. Cohen doesn’t sound indignant, but there’s more than a smidge of nostalgia to the major key emphasis of ‘Just For the Summer’.

Partner Look – ‘Partner Look’

(Trouble In Mind/Spunk Records)

 

The four members of the newly formed indie-pop outfit Partner Look can be held responsible for turning present-day Melbourne into the 2020s equivalent of 1980s Dunedin. Seriously, has no one told the sisters Ambrin (Cool Sounds) and Anila Hasnain (Studio Magic), and their partners Dainis Lacey (Cool Sounds) and Lachlan Denton (The Ocean Party), that guitars and pop music are no longer such snug bedfellows?

But why bother? In their hands, guitar pop is a divine creation. The band gets its name from the German word “Partnerlook”, which refers to people who’re dressed in similar outfits. Thanks to the melodic effortlessness and jangly textures of the quartet’s introductory self-titled single, we’ll all be dressing like Partner Look before long.

Head here for the best new music.