As we start to knock on the door of summer, it’s time to take a look back over some of the ecclectic songs we’ve heard over the past couple months that have flown under the radar. Below is a dive into some of the best Aussie tracks that you might not have heard yet but you really really need to. All genres welcomed!
Joel James Live - 'A Little Heavy on the Nevermind'
While some states have started to re-experience the taste of freedom over recent months, Melbourne have only just escaped the clutches of lockdown, and Joel James Live gives us an absolute quarantine anthem with ‘A Little Heavy on the Nevermind’. Accompanied by a cheekily shot home video clip, Joel James hits a pop-rock groove that is dripping with charisma, happiness and talent. The lyrics stem from a craving for human contact and affection as James pleas ‘Give me a reason to apologise’. Joel James is a complete musician, skilled with multiple instruments and can even sound engineer as well, it’s very easy to hear that making music is what he’s supposed to be doing. James plays around with the song structure and instrumentation to really make the song feel like a full fleshed out experience, similar to ‘Never Enough’ by Rex Orange County or ‘All These Things I’ve Done’ by The Killers. Any Melbournian who hears this track will be counting down the days till they can catch him at a gig and anyone else in Australia will immediately begin advocating for the borders to open.
Aydin Sayar x Montgomery - 'Missed Calls'
The dreamy synths and butter smooth vocals are enough to get you instantly interested in this track, but around a minute into the track when Sayar’s vocals melt into featured vocalist Montogmery’s gentle croons, it gets really special. You can almost picture the movie montage, two sides of a couple both pacing around their bedroom, equally willing themselves to have the pride to pick up the phone and the willpower to put it down. The song was born out of a shared experience between the artists of, in Sayar's words ‘messy and ungraceful endings to relationships’. The tone of the track almost seems to mirror so much of what modern dating is so often about. It’s a cruisey sounding track, you can feel the reluctance to confess to holding any true feelings, as well as the frustrated undertones of not knowing where you stand with someone. Sayar and Montgomery’s vocals mesh together gorgeously and the track is every bit as danceable as it is relatable. Definitely one for the late night drives.
Melissa Ramsay - 'Free'
Have you ever looked up at the birds in the sky, and more than anything else, just felt a tinge of jealousy? Melissa Ramsay has. Luckily for us she’s also packaged up some of these emotions and put them into the wonderful track ‘Free’. The vocals have an instantly endearing honesty to them. You can hear the genuine plea for wanting a little more out of life. ‘Free’ wouldn’t sound out of place on a playlist with artists such as BANKS and City and Colour but Melissa Ramsay definitely doesn’t drown in her influences and you can hear her unique artistic identity all over the song. She sings of viewing the world through a pane of glass or a window, as her vocals echo a discontent at the detachment she feels from her surroundings. It’s a touching, emotionally engaging and beautifully honest piece of songwriting.
RISSA - 'Hold Up'
With a bassline that will make you miss live music and drums that will trick you into thinking you can pop n’ lock, ‘Hold Up’ is three minutes of effortless groove. RISSA is one of Sydney’s many rising R&B stars and ‘Hold Up’ might just be the best of her three releases so far. With an Anderson .Paak or Jorja Smith-esque style RISSA recounts a messy, undefined romantic entanglement as she sings ‘Why you trying to play me like that?’. She’s joined by a head bobbing rap verse from Sydney rapper Zyad, who continues to explore the theme, ‘We lovesick and can’t stand it’. RISSA impressively manages to make this track dancefloor ready without sacrificing any lyrical substance and while she’ll have your hips swaying, there’s also a strong emotional quality to the vocals as her R&B cadence shines through. Sydney has a plethora of Hip Hop and R&B talent coming through and ‘Hold Up’ is the perfect exhibition of this. For a live rendition of the track, check out @moodontheroof on Insta.
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Arrowbird - 'Hands of the Unknowing'
Some songs sound like a journey and this one sounds like an eight night jungle trek. With all the instrumentation of a Björk track and the vocal dynamism of Nai Palm, Arrowbird creates a complete odyssey with ‘Hands Of The Unknowing’. With more instrumental layers than I have fingers, Arrowbird throws some folk, electronic and indie into a Nutribullet and blends it into this delicious track. Sonic similarities can also be drawn to the melodramatic song structures and echoing falsettos of FKA Twigs’ 2019 album MAGDALENE. Arrowbird describes the song as ‘a hopeful reminder to use yourself as a source of good in a world swollen by its own self harm’. The track delivers on this descriptor, it exudes an enchanting and hopeful energy. You’ll want to go running into a forest or diving into a deserted lake, ready to refresh yourself before stepping back in the real world. Arrowbird is obviously exceptionally talented and it will be very exciting to continue to watch her artistic vision come together.
Yellow The Sun - ‘La Luna’
It wouldn’t be an Aussie summer night without laying down on some sand while a half-broken speaker blares a track with abstract lyrics, searching guitar notes and vocals washed in reverb. Yellow The Sun are here to be your soundtrack for these summer nights and even listening in my bedroom I can practically feel the cold beer in my hand and see the sun retreating back into the sky. Having said this, ‘La Luna’ definitely captures an energy I haven’t quite felt in a while, it's laid back but there’s a groove infused within that makes it difficult to sit still to. It’s definitely one for fans of Tame Impala and Mac De Marco, but it’s hard to imagine anyone hearing this without being at least a bit entranced within the hazy melodies. This is only Yellow The Sun’s second track but you get the sense there’s a lot more to come and once you hear ‘La Luna’ you’ll be hanging on for whatever they do next.
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Liyah Knight - 'Better Unsaid'
Sometimes you hear a voice and straight away you know that person is just meant to sing, when you hear Liyah Knight’s voice the first thing you’ll want to do is just thank her for her service. Her sultry, honey-dipped vocals will have you wrapped around her finger as she sings of some things are ‘Better Unsaid’. While her voice is somewhere in outer space, the lyrics are grounded and human, as she recounts intimate events of a relationship. You can hear similarities to R&B stars like Ari Lennox, Summer Walker and SZA with Liyah Knight also citing influence from artists such as FKA Twigs and Frank Ocean. Layered vocals cascade on top of one another as the vocal tracks glide over neo-soul-esque production. The second half of the song really breaks down into a lush soundscape, with the production really setting a lovely podium for Liyah’s gold medal voice to shine all over.
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Bughunt - ‘Second Date’
It’s been a bit of a disaster of a year, but is it so bad to just want to smile? Bughunt speaks of how their favourite songs in the 70s and 80s ‘all seemed to have a sense of optimism, a sense that the music was inclusive and belonged to everyone’. ‘Second Date’ pays tribute to this era with a positive sounding track, featuring a sax solo, Motown influenced instrumentation and lyrics about acceptance and moving on. Bughunt are based in Fremantle and have members from Australian music legends The Sports and AC/DC. You’ll hear influence from Talking Heads and Elvis Costello, but Bughunt are definitely doing their own thing, and succeeding in getting the smiles they’re aiming for. Even in a gloomy year, there is absolutely always time for songs that get you moving, sweating and smiling and that’s what Bughunt are bringing us.
Evoletah - ‘Lucky Star’
The type of track that makes you miss someone you’ve never met, Evoletah’s track ‘Lucky Star’ was written after a break up from a partner of many years. ‘Lucky Star’ is a sonic search for solace, an exasperated reach for a silver lining where there may or may not be one. Performed by Matt Cahill, a long time vocalist and guitarist for Australian band The Violets, it’s a track that’ll have you calling a 3AM Uber to where you shouldn’t be going, as Cahill poetically muses on the world he longer shares with his partner, ‘Lucky stars turn it back to the day before’. Cahill wrote the song after an evening sipping shiraz and reminiscing and you can hear all this rawness in the track. It’s a humanising reminder that reflection doesn’t necessarily mean weakness, and you can allow yourself to reminisce without running back to what didn’t work. It’s always special to hear a seasoned musician release something so intimate and there’s a feeling in this song that anyone could latch onto.
Ayesha A. Madon - 'Outside of the Party '
Gentle guitar chords light the stage for Ayesha A. Madon to shine on her debut single ‘Outside of the Party’ and she is clearly ready for the spotlight. After a quick light hearted spoken intro, we hear Ayesha settle straight into her outstanding vocals that sound somewhere between Ariana Grande and Alessia Cara. The minimalist production keeps the focus on Ayesha’s stunning voice and cheeky storytelling, as she lets someone know that she’s perfectly comfortable without them. She flaunts her vocal range and control without breaking the song's tempo and her personality shines through with tongue-in-cheek ad libs and the aura of confidence in her voice. It has that bedroom pop energy of being playful yet vulnerable as Ayesha lets us into her world, you can feel her singing into a hairbrush while dancing in the mirror. Ayesha is instantly likeable and outrageously talented and you already know she’ll have a sea of people closely watching all her next moves.
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Eliza Joan - 'Let Me In'
Just as you start to think you’ve got this track figured out, the drums hit and you realise it’s far from over. Eliza Joan belts out her musings, inspired by her lost mind moving to a new city a couple years ago. Her vocals are searching, echoing a sense of longing as she sings of loneliness, discontentment and detachment. As the song picks up tempo, Joan’s vocals easily keep pace as she hits her notes with a renewed intensity, even coasting through some extraordinary high notes towards the end of the track. Eliza Joan’s been around the Melbourne gigging scene for around two years now but ‘Let Me In’ is her first official release, and it’s a spectacular way to introduce herself. She hasn’t yet placed the song on streaming services but you can find her on Soundcloud and Bandcamp. With a seriously special and very distinctive voice, let's hope the wait for Eliza Joan’s second release isn’t too long.
Lawson Hull - 'Honey'
After listening to this track, I think if I could have anyone break up with me, I would want it to be Lawson Hull. His vocals could sweep anyone off their feet but on this song he seems to be doing the opposite as he softly confesses ‘How much pride did I need to know/She was too much for me?’ and ‘How do I say it to you nicely, I don’t want you around’. However, the words don’t come off as cruel, as between the words you can hear the crushing reluctance of accepting a relationship is beyond repair. Hull explores an interesting theme on this track, saying that ‘Honey’ is written about ‘the blindness you have during your first, big long-term relationship’. He seems to be singing of the tunnel vision so many of us experience from our first true dose of infatuation, but eventually reaches some closure that ‘there’s more to life’ than this person and trying to heal things with them. Lawson Hull tells an honest and intriguing story with ‘Honey’ and has gorgeous vocals to match. An acoustic guitar offers the pulse of the track and Hull’s writing and voice will keep your heart beating through the rest of the song.
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We're very excited for the upcoming Summer Season in music!