The 30 best albums to come out of Melbourne in 2020, part two

The 30 best albums to come out of Melbourne in 2020, part two

Gordon Koang and Hachiku
Words by Tom Parker

We spotlight the second 15 albums of the two-part feature, ranked in no particular order.

Here we go with part two of our feature spotlighting the 30 best albums to come out of Melbourne in 2020. Part one of the piece shined a light on stellar records from Andras, Sweet Whirl, Vintage Crop, RVG, Simona Castricum, Silentjay and more.

While 2020 has been an absolute fiasco, music lovers have had their ear to the ground more than ever, looking for releases that catch their ear or strike a chord with the difficulty and annoyance that has underlined the last nine months.

Through the below releases, punters have maintained their sanity and escaped the commotion. So what are we waiting for, here’s the next 15 albums to come out of Melbourne in 2020.

The Meanies – Desperate Measures

Man-o-man was it great to have a new album from Melbourne favourites, The Meanies, in 2020. Recognition for old favourites, for rock bands that forged their reputation in the 20th century, is few and far between in the contemporary music landscape, but for Desperate Measures, The Meanies deserve all the recognition they can get. The LP is highlighted by lead single, ‘Cruel To Be Caned’ – a hectic punk track that saw bassist Wally Meanie assume lead vocals duties for the first time ever.

JK Group – The Young Ones

One name on this list you might not recognise is that of JK Group, a rising Melbourne outfit made up of members of 30/70, Zeitgeist Freedom Energy Exchange and Sex on Toast. Saxophonist and 2019 PBS Young Elder of Jazz, Josh Kelly, leads the way here delivering syrupy, smooth jazz music that’ll have you flocking to the dancefloor. In 2020, JK Group released their debut album, The Young Ones – a record that saw the band nominated for Best Jazz Album at the 2020 Music Victoria Awards.

Floodlights – From a View

A conversation about Melbourne’s most exciting artists can’t be had without mention of Floodlights, a band who released their stellar debut album, From a View, in 2020. The Australiana dripping from Louis Parsons’ voice is one of the most idiosyncratic things I’ve heard in music over the last few years – this band have found their own space and it’s only up from here.

Permits – Time Permits

Permits comprises members of Melbourne bands, The Shifters, Pop Singles, Dag and Chook Race and to this point has been largely a live band apart from an appearance on Anti Fade’s fantastic 2018 compilation record, New Centre of the Universe, Vol. 3. Yet 2020 saw the project spring to life with the release of their debut album, Time Permits – a collection of ten intrinsically guitar-pop tunes summoning the smarts and prior experiences of the band’s four music journeyman. But there’s more to it than that – synthesiser, saxophone and backing vocals broaden the palate making for an immersive listen.

GL – You Read My Mind

After rapidly rising to the Australian music forefront following the release of their 2016 LP, Touch, GL had to take some time to unwind and destress. After taking taken time to free themselves of other people’s expectations, GL returned in glistening, pop-tastic form on 2020’s You Read My Mind. It’s an upbeat, extroverted release with squelchy synths, deep funk and disco grooves and a heckload of pop melody.

King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – K.G.

I know, I know, just another accolade to King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, but I wouldn’t have included them in this list if I didn’t think their 2020 album, K.G., was any chop. Yeah, there’s so many reference points now that it’s difficult for King Gizz to remain fresh and original but with every new release, they find a way to evolve. Take ‘Intrasport’, track seven of K.G., a track which forms from some hell-bound synth pop nightmare, and bounces around through a disco-style drop. It’s like nothing Gizz have ever produced.

The Grogans – Day / To / Day

Melbourne surf rockers The Grogans released their sophomore album, Day / To / Day, in mid November. Coming just 12 months after their debut LP, Just What You Want, much of the record had already been written before COVID hit. As Victoria navigated the virus, opening up momentarily before being locked down again, The Grogans nipped down to guitarist Angus Vasic’s grandparents to put all the pieces together. What resulted was a record steeped in nostalgia and ’60s influences. It’s great, give it a spin!

Gordon Koang – Unity

The Gordon Koang story is quite remarkable – originating from the Nile Valley in what is now South Sudan, Koang was born blind and began playing music from an early age, busking on the streets of Juba and producing his own self-released CDs and cassettes. Migrating to Australia as a refugee, after six years of waiting, it didn’t take long for Koang’s music ingenuity to permeate the contemporary music consciousness.

After releasing a string of buoyant, danceable singles that caught the attention of music lovers across the country, in 2020, Koang released his first album since he made the brave move to Australia. Unity is a beacon of hope and togetherness and solidifies Koang as one of Australia’s most treasured musicians.

Big Yawn – No!

Back in March, Melbourne’s Big Yawn arrived with their debut album, No!, a 13-track electronic music adventure. Cross-genre harmony appears to come naturally for Big Yawn and on No!, the band showcase their affinity for experimentation. From ‘Attaboi’, a punching opener strewn with infectious deep house characteristics to album highlight ‘For Whomst’, a track that reinjects fresh energy into the album just before its halfway mark, No! will take you on an odyssey to some other galaxy.

Hachiku – I’ll Probably Be Asleep

Released in mid November, the debut album from Melbourne’s Hachiku, aka Anika Ostendorf, breaks like a lush summer storm. For a city that was recently trapped in a 111-day lockdown, the record seems like a vivid memory of everything Melbourne left behind, and with its sun-drenched instrumentation, is surely destined to become the soundtrack to a well-deserved summer. Stellar work.

#1 Dads – Golden Repair

#1 Dads’ 2020 album, Golden Repair, is the perfect soundtrack for contemplation and introspection. His third album under the #1 Dads moniker, Golden Repair sees Tom Iansek solidify his creative intellect. It presents an innovator who’s in tune with his strengths – pop craftmanship and production whimsy – and one who’s discovered the emotional stimulus to put his skills to work. What’s next, Tom?

Cry Club – God I’m Such A Mess

Another release to emerge in November, Cry Club’s much-anticipated debut album God I’m Such A Mess comes from a brave and impassioned duo using music for emotional release. Made up of vocalist Heather Riley and guitarist/backing vocalist Jonathan Tooke, Cry Club are intrinsically vulnerable, wearing their heart on their sleeve, providing a sanctuary for anyone who ever feels down, or anxious, or vulnerable themselves. God I’m Such A Mess is just the start of this intriguing journey.

Love Above Records – LAD004

Love Above Records is quickly becoming one of Melbourne’s most exciting electronic music stables and on December’s LAD004, they assembled some of music’s most exciting DJs and producers for an intrepid 16-track compilation. Appreciating house music in all its forms – exploring everything from dreamy breaks to UK Garage – the release features excellent productions from Primitive Needs, Kayroy & Friend, Delonte Rivers, DJ Chrysalis, Zepherin Saint, Marli, Baby G, Dawn Again, Priya and many more.

Agung Mango and Nikodimos – SON OF AGUNG

Recruiting local jazz wunderkind Nikodimos (Proto Moro), Agung Mango’s new collaborative record SON OF AGUNG is a textural hip hop release filled with wandering instrumentation. Across nine tracks, SON OF AGUNG celebrates the longstanding affinity between jazz and rap and produces some absolute stompers – try the bouncy, on-the-edge ‘SHE’S DANGEROUS’, or the outspoken ‘YO EL REY’, what about serene closer ‘NEPTUNE HILLS’?

Leah Senior – The Passing Scene

Last but certainly not least, Leah Senior’s 2020 album The Passing Scene is not only a capstone moment for an inimitable music talent but for an entire music scene. Released in June, The Passing Scene was welcomed with open arms by music faithful all across Melbourne. Battling through the drudges of COVID-19, punters revelled in The Passing Scene‘s sense of adventure and escape. It’s music brain food and provided an exploratory outlet for those struck down by the pandemic’s ceaseless monotony.

Check out the first 15 albums of the feature here.

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