Briggs v Tim Minchin, Kit, Josh Pyke and others: Australia's best music for May

Each month we add 20 new Australian songs to our Spotify playlist. Read about 10 of our favourites here – and subscribe on Spotify, which updates with the full list at the start of each month

Briggs and Tim Minchin – Housefyre

For fans of: AB Original, Urthboy, Tism

Isolation has led to many creative artistic collaborations over the past few weeks but few are as searing or whip-smart as this iso-jam by two outspoken Australians. In the clip, which was released last month, they eviscerate the government’s response to the bushfires and the ongoing Covid-19 crisis from the comfort of their respective homes. Witty vitriol is blasted at Scott Morrison and Peter Dutton – the former sending “out-of-office” alohas from Hawaii while waiting for divine intervention, the latter cast as his hapless righthand man. “Everything is burning, better turn the fucking cricket on,” is only the second wittiest line in a song filled with them; the best is left to last, spat angrily by both: “Even the Ruby Princess had a fucking captain.”

For more: Briggs will have new music out in mid-2020. Minchin’s debut album will be released this year.

Vacations – Lavender

For fans of: the Mock Turtles, the Telescopes, the Cure

A skipping baggy beat and ethereal keyboards try their best to anchor a heavenly track that threatens to float into the cotton candy clouds at any moment. Vacations could easily sit alongside the many NME-endorsed UK groups of the 80s that no doubt influenced them; those who built upon Johnny Marr’s guitars and New Order’s beats to bring sunshine to any number of damp and dreary housing estates in the Thatcher era. Lavender sounds like the type of track you’d discover on an old C86 tape so it’s no real surprise to learn that Oscar Dawson – from fellow 80s revivalists Holy Holy – produced the song. The songwriter, Campbell Burns, may be a student of the indie songbook but it takes more than a keen ear and a book full of hooks to craft melodies this memorable.

For more: the album Forever in Bloom will be out this year.

Josh Pyke – Doubting Thomas

For fans of: Sufjan Stevens, Neil Finn, Darren Hanlon

Josh Pyke
Josh Pyke. Photograph: Sony Music

Over the course of five albums and seven EPs, Sydney’s Josh Pyke has maintained his signature sound as trends slide in and out of fashion, giving his 2017 best-of record a rare and easy unity. Doubting Thomas could have slotted on to any of those records, opening with Pyke’s almost whispered vocal and a steady acoustic strum before a rustic 4/4 beat and his sliding falsetto provide yet another classic Pyke chorus. Like his breakthrough hit Middle of the Hill, the familiar and familial rub up against each other, with fingers running over metaphorical scars, a farewell tinged with regret and hope, and a visit to unnamed cousins all colliding. “It’s like trying to read a book in the dark,” he sings of the shadows cast by the titular Doubting Thomases. Another brilliant and evocative song to add to a catalogue filled with them.

For more: Pyke will tour nationally in October (hopefully).

Kit – Good Guy

For fans of: Angel Olsen, PJ Harvey

A great many songs have been written about guys who are all smiles and shine until the veneer wears off and the true, ugly self is revealed. But in Good Guy, the debut single from Katie Wighton from All Our Exes Live in Texas, she isn’t after sympathy, apologies, or any form of closure; as the song proclaims, this issue is bigger than them both. A far cry from the four-part folk of her aforementioned band, this is a chugging rocker reminiscent of PJ Harvey or perhaps Ali Barter, who co-wrote it and provides the warm harmonies. Boy and Bear- and Missy Higgins-producer Dave Symes lets the guitars drive the track while ensuring that Wighton’s aching voice is front and centre. Hopefully an album is on the way.

For more: Check out When We Fall by All Our Exes – but be warned, it’s quite different!

Gum – Don’t Let It Go Out

For fans of: MGMT, Mercury Rev, the Beach Boys

Since the 2012 release of the Tame Impala hit Elephant, which he co-wrote and played keys for, Jay Watson has circled the world numerous times with Kevin Parker and co, put out four internationally acclaimed albums with his Perth band Pond, and is now gearing up to release his fifth solo album under the name Gum – an abbreviation of his childhood nickname Gumby. Opening with a gentle arpeggio that would be at home on a mid-60s Beach Boys record, Watson sings a fittingly plodding vocal melody over lightly distorted bass, dewdrop keyboards and a strolling structure that cares little for traditional verse/chorus fare. It’s a dreamy tune; a moodboard for the forthcoming album, and a gentle salve for turbulence times.

For more: Gum’s fifth album Out in the World will be out 12 June.

Yibby - No Sweat

For fans of: Anderson Paak, Big Sean, Jhene Aiko

Yibby
Australian hip-hop artist Yibby. Photograph: Collected PR

With a bedding track that twinkles like a twilight dream, keys warped beyond recognition and a dexterous and smooth vocal to bump along to, No Sweat would work as a Sunday comedown mixtape or as fuel for a Saturday night gear-up. Yibby, Ethoipian-born and brought up in south Sydney, possesses singular talent – and although the flow on No Sweat isn’t the most original, it provides a perfect template for the 20-year-old to showcase his inventive lyrical skills and his warm, welcome voice.

For more: Check out his Lost in Translation EP or his 2018 single Woah.

Lime Cordiale – On Our Own

For fans of: Holy Holy, Arctic Monkeys, M83

If you had our above playlist on random in the background, you could be forgiven for wondering how a British electro-pop tune from the 80s accidentally ended up in the mix, such is the faithful reproduction of song and style that On Our Own represents. But while such easy classification suggests pastiche, Lime Cordiale have in fact carved out fertile and original ground over their career so far, with a jumble of disparate influences that mix and mesh to form a strong and charming whole. There’s more than a touch of Alex Turner’s elongated syllabic sneer here, with bright keys that belong to an 80s sci-fi flick and militant drums that signal the anthemic chorus to come.

For more: their second album 14 Steps to a Better You will be out on 14 July.

DMA’s – The Glow

For fans of: the Happy Mondays, New Order,

Speaking of UK inspirations: to chart the course of the DMA’s storied career so far is to listen to a study of British music in reverse order – from the Oasis-aping beginnings, through to their Stone Roses shimmer and now to a beat-driven, key-drenched sound that would be at home at all-night Hacienda raves in the early 80s. Tommy O’Dell’s angelic voice is lightly distorted and pushed further back in the mix than usual, giving this song a rolling quality that makes it perfect for driving through tunnels in the middle of the night, on the way to wherever you happen to end up.

For more: DMA’s third album The Glow is out 10 July.

Bugs
Brisbane’s Bugs. Photograph: Dan Grima

Bugs – Can’t Get Enough

For fans of: Klinger, Jebediah, Kisschasy

Bugs have been Brisbane’s best-kept secret for quite some time now but last summer the band’s hooky pop anthem Seriously broke through to a national audience after some serious attention from the national youth broadcaster. Echoing the gleeful pop rock that peaked in Perth during the 90s but is at home in any city or decade, Can’t Get Enough finds the three-piece sharpening their songwriting tools and adopting a cleaner, yet still crunchy, production sound. It’s a welcome harbinger of their third album, which, if there is any justice, should dominate airways later this year.

For more: Check out their previous two albums, and their excellent cover of Mallrat’s Charlie for Like a Version.

Saint Lane – The Family

For fans of: Kendrick Lamar, Antony and the Johnsons, A Tribe Called Quest

Over haunting horns and a Shiloh Dynasty sample that seems transmitted from a crackling pirate radio station from the 40s, Saint Lane raps his most personal lyrics yet. Born to Fijian and French parents in New Zealand, and now based on the Gold Coast, he shares a story of disconnect, of fractured family relations, and of generational pain; a story he was “extremely hesitant” to release. “It feels very exposing,” he admits in the press release, “but as an artist I know vulnerability is the most honest way to present art.” The Family is a masterwork; a hypnagogic, half-remembered hymn to blood and birthright.

For more: Listen to his previous single Hickeys.

Contributor

Nathan Jolly

The GuardianTramp

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