The return of Beat’s singles column: Spotlighting the best (and worst) new tracks this fortnight
16.04.2021

The return of Beat’s singles column: Spotlighting the best (and worst) new tracks this fortnight

Words by August Billy

Featuring new releases from Gwen Stefani, Tkay Maidza and Luke Steele’s new project, H3000.

After an extended period of hibernation, our singles column returns giving you the best and worst new tracks from the last fortnight. We’ve split the column up into four categories to give you something more to sink your teeth into, and to clearly detail what you’re reading and how things are structured.

Let’s do this!

Best

Music Yared – ‘Sindayo’ (Mikey Young’s Masinko Remix – Radio Edit)

Mikey Young’s career arc is utterly fascinating. After making his name with back-to-basics punk band Eddy Current Suppression Ring and existential post-punk act Total Control, Young has become Australia’s most in-demand mixing engineer and produced choice remixes for the likes of Black Cab and Jess Ribeiro.

Here, he sinks his teeth into ‘Sindayo’ from Melbourne-based East African duo, Music Yared. The original is an almost-meditative invocation that revolves around the Ethiopian and Eritrean string instruments, krar and masinko, and minimal percussion that evokes rituals of manual labour. For this special remix, Young rejigs the groove and adds an immediately uplifting bassline without sacrificing the spirit and urgency at the song’s core.

Catch up on the latest music interviews, news and reviews here.

Worst

H3000 – ‘July Heat’

Oh the spectacular fall from grace of one-time wunderkind, global popstar and increasingly plastic religious zealot, Luke Steele. Spoiler: H3000 – Steele’s new project with producer Jarrad Rogers – does nothing to cushion the severity of said fall. Our first glimpse of the duo’s desire to “tune the heart to a Year 3000 frequency” is ‘July Heat’.

That fairly meaningless mission statement notwithstanding, you can almost respect how aimless ‘July Heat’ sounds. It essentially goes without a chorus, while the verses have a vaguely romantic understated quality, a la M83. The climax, however (and the element designed to evoke the sound of Y3K), is little more than some ugly synth programming that’s neither hooky nor fated to retain relevance beyond the end of the month.

Surprise find

Gwen Stefani – ‘Slow Clap’ (with Saweetie)

It’s surely been suggested before, but Katy Perry is really just the neo-Gwen Stefani, no? Both artists specialise in a tight, Lego Movie brand of pop music and will be outlived by multiple excellent songs with “girl” in their titles.

On ‘Slow Clap’, Stefani returns to show Perry how it’s done – almost literally. The hook and fast-paced vocal phrasing of ‘Slow Clap’ are glaringly similar to Perry’s ‘Never Really Over’, yet the overall impact is somewhat more satisfying. California rapper Saweetie joins Stefani for this reboot, and her appearance helps to temper some of the original’s anodyne characteristics.

Artist on fire

Tkay Maidza – ‘Syrup’

With her cover of Pixies’ ‘Where Is My Mind?’ continuing to dominate Melbourne community radio, Tkay gets back to dishing out teasers for what one hopes is a new solo LP. ‘Syrup’ is Tkay’s third single of 2021, combining with the Pixies cut and January’s ‘Kim’ to remind us of the dynamism that made Last Year Was Weird (Vol.2) one of 2020’s strongest releases.

A dab hand at just about any genre she tackles, be it party pop, neo-soul or R&B, ‘Syrup’ spotlights Tkay’s traffic-stopping MC chops. It’s a minimal affair with no guest spots, no big melodic hooks and rooted in an untrammelled, downtempo boom bap groove. It’s a song about status and desire; avarice, if you will. But more significantly, it’s an exhibition of talent and technique, of what’s required to attain the material abundance it gestures towards.

Keen on another fun read? Check out our piece on the modern day hustle of working within Melbourne’s underground music scene.