Jaguar Jonze, Crowded House, Tkay Maidza: Australia's best new music for March

Each month we add 20 new 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

Tkay Maidza – Kim

For fans of: Kari Faux, Migos, Nicki Minaj

It’s been fun to chart the rise of Tkay Maidza. International media are flocking to praise the consistent quality and dexterity of her work; she has signed to UK powerhouse 4AD; and even had a billboard in Times Square. Kim is another step forward, as Maidza flexes over a trap beat and warped synths that sound like a melting Game Boy. In the video clip, she embodies three separate Kims – Kardashian, cartoon character Kim Possible, and Lil Kim – as she repeatedly declares “I’m Kim”. A guest verse by up-and-coming American rapper Yung Baby Tate adds variety, but despite that – and the multiple personas – this is really a Tkay showcase.

For more: Listen to her most recent EP, the Last Year Was Weird Vol 2.

Crowded House – To the Island

For fans of: Betchadupa, Elliott Smith, Badly Drawn Boy

Neil Finn has always incorporated elements of psychedelia in his work, from the quirky art student pop of Split Enz through to the eastern influences that tinged the Crowded House catalogue and his solo work – but To the Island is his strangest and darkest tune to date. The latest version of the Crowdies sees both Neil’s sons Liam and Elroy become official members, along with two original team-members: bassist Nick Seymour and Mitchell Froom, who produced the band’s first three albums. The result is a revitalised band, weirder and bolder and clearly down to experiment – with a new album, their first since 2010’s Intriguer, set to arrive in June.

For more: Dreamers Are Waiting will be out 4 June; Crowded House are touring New Zealand this month.

Hayley Mary
Jezabels frontwoman Hayley Mary’s solo work is ‘brightly produced and dripping with hooks’. Photograph: Jesse Lizotte

Hayley Mary – Would You Throw A Diamond?

For fans of: Divinyls, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, the Ramones

As frontwoman of the Jezabels, Hayley Mary made anthemic, atmospheric music that unfurled slowly and deliberately. Her recent solo work does the exact opposite: a giddy rush, all guitars and driving power pop, brightly produced and dripping with hooks. Would You Throw Away A Diamond? hits like a freight train. It’s a vicious kiss-off, a snarling and gnarly punk song, delicious in its anger.

For more: Listen to Mary’s previous single The Chain or her 2020 EP The Piss, The Perfume – or catch her touring Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney over the next few months.

Jodi Phillis – Summer of Fires

For fans of: the Clouds, Bjork, Kate Bush

Jodi Phillis’ chiming voice will be familiar to fans of the Clouds, the ethereal Canberra band she fronted for most of the 1990s – but here is a haunting, stripped-back lament in place of their lush, layered pop. Summer of Fires is a delicate funeral march for the devastation of the bushfires, and an admonishment of the human destruction that enabled it. The hypnotic plod of the vocal melody and the sweeping orchestral arrangement (artfully achieved by Melbourne musician Biddy Connor) is anchored by the underlying sorrow that seeps throughout. “Now the ship has sailed and it’s time to wake up,” Phillis solemnly sings over Disneyfied strings. This is the first single from Sound As Ever, a Facebook group-turned-label that celebrates independent Australian music from the 90s. The topical lyrics may seem at odds with that mission but, as Phillis sings, this current moment certainly makes you long for the past.

For more: Check out this single’s B-side, Song For Georgia.

Australian musician June Jones, in a PR shot for Leafcutter out February 2021. Photo by Jess Brohier
‘A downtempo dance song one minute, an art pop production piece the next’: June Jones. Photograph: Jess Brohier

June Jones – Home

For fans of: New Order, Antony and the Johnsons, Sade

This is the third single from Jones’ second album Leafcutter, and the most musical challenging of the three. Hypnotic, ice-cold production and moody bass synth make way for June’s rich voice: silky, striking and twisting emotion out of each syllable. Fans of Bjork will enjoy the quirky arrangements and flights of fancy Home takes, a downtempo dance song one minute, an art pop production piece the next as the bassline snakes along. “It’s a reflection on the idea of the body as a place that we are always arriving at,” Jones says, “a home that is both constant and constantly changing.”

For more: Leafcutter is out now.

Bob Evans – Concrete Heart

For fans of: Icecream Hands, The Sleepy Jackson, the Panics

Next month, Kevin Mitchell releases his sixth album under the Bob Evans moniker, surpassing the five albums he made with 90s rockers Jebediah. The demarcation between the sugary emo of Jebediah and his folk-influenced solo work has slowly evaporated over that time, to the point where a spritely tune like Concrete Heart could have slotted on to any of the Jebs records. Mitchell has been a top-rate songwriter since his teens and continues to sharpen his melodic senses here. A shimmering duet with Stella Donnelly, Concrete Heart is a bright blast of power pop; a summery jangle in praise of not being a cold-hearted cynic. The song gallops like an early Beatles tune, and it’s all over far too soon.

For more: The album Tomorrowland is out 16 April; a Bob Evans tour will be announced soon.

Flyying Colours – OK

For fans of: the C86 compilation, the Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, The Hummingbirds

It hass been four-and-a-half years since Melbourne shoegazers Flyying Colours released their criminally overlooked debut album Mindfullness, a beautiful swooping record that paired punishing waves of guitars with laconic melodies. OK moves slightly away from the likes of Ride, My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive, bouncing around in the sugary end of pop and echoing the type of music Sarah Records released back in the day. Which is not to say this lacks power – the guitars still whirl and tunnel, and the drums pound you into submission – but the melodies are crisper, and the song seems lighter and brighter as a whole. A fantastic headrush of a record.

For more: Flyying Colours’ new album Fantasy Country is out now.

Bones and Jones – Apples

For fans of: Wilco, the Jayhawks, Neil Young

Over the last year, Geelong revivalists Bones and Jones have been steadily releasing an album’s worth of acid-dipped Americana, two songs at a time. The material they recorded throughout the pandemic lovingly and expertly conjured ghosts of music’s past; and Apples – among the last batch released from the resultant album, Ginger Gold – is a sublime country tune. It opens with tight, bright two-part harmonies and a crisp back porch acoustic before rolling into classic rock territory, with peeling guitars and a rollicking rhythm that invites comparisons to the lofty likes of Neil Young and Creedence Clearwater Revival. Apples is a brilliant, final drop from one of the very best pandemic projects to come out of Australia.

For more: Bones and Jones are touring the east coast in April; Ginger Gold (Farm Songs) is out now.

Bones and Jones
Bones and Jones are ‘one of the very best pandemic projects to come out of Australia’. Photograph: Willem Kingma

Pierce Brothers – Brother

For fans of: Mumford and Sons, Ryan Adams, the Lumineers

It’s a shame this sweeping, huge-hearted song didn’t come along at the height of The OC, or the Pierce Brothers would have no doubt been flung all over American radio by Pitchfork and Seth Cohen. This is a mighty song, a slow galloping beast that tackles big themes without beating them to death while managing to land close to Springsteen country. It has that Wide Open Road feel of thundering drums on highways, and Arcade Fire’s anthemic ambition – and will hopefully get a Mumford level of attention.

For more: Into the Great Unknown is out now. The band are playing numerous shows throughout Victoria over the next three months.

Jaguar Jonze – Curled In

For fans of: T-Rex, Madonna, the Kills

There’s a certain futuristic glam sound that pops up throughout the works of Lady Gaga, Nine Inch Nails and many others in the vastness between. It’s defiantly digital: the guitars sound a little like computers, the keyboards sound a little like guitars, and it manages to be clubby and plastic and moody at the same time. Curled In curls into this category snugly, a massive guitar-driven juggernaut which throws one-liners like grenades (“It’s a bit of a twist for me to be a masochist”) and revels in the abandon. 2020 was an impressive year for Jaguar Jonze, with the strong Diamonds & Liquid Gold EP followed by two even stronger singles as she took on sexism and abuse in the music industry. There’s a futuristic bend to the newer material, which bodes well for the forthcoming EP.

For more: Jaguar Jonze’s second EP Antihero is out 16 April.



Contributor

Nathan Jolly and Guardian Australia

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