Gretta Ray was this year’s winner of the Triple J Unearthed High comp, and it’s been a well-deserved prize.
Her winning track ‘Drive’ is delightfully sweet, and as the name might suggest, perfect for a road trip. It has lovely little melodies that go the way you want them to at first, but then twist and turn at the last second. I recently found myself listening to it on a road trip from Seattle to Vancouver and will admit, it was the perfect soundtrack for falling in love!
But just when you thought your ears couldn’t be more at ease, she’s gone and released another killer track called ‘Unwind’. It’s another beaut’ acoustic rock song – she’s got a really relaxed way of dancing about melodies that will fill you with joy, listen for yourself:
It’s January, and already there’ve been some incredible albums that have dropped (looking at you, RUFUS). But let’s be real, there’s a long year ahead, and so you’re probably wondering what surprises wait in store for you, music lovers! There are some seriously anticipated records coming soon, so I’ve together a list of some potentially ground-breaking ones, plus a few I personally can’t wait for, in chronological order. You’re welcome!
St. Lucia (South Africa) – Matter (January 29)
Been waiting for an album where you can indulge in your guilty pleasure for pop hooks and excellent dance beats? I have already had a listen to this one and can tell you that you’re in for an absolute treat from this South African muso. Spotify that ASAP.
Kanye West (US) – Swish (February 11)
Whether you love or hate his attitude, Kanye is influential. And this album could conquer or divide.
Jack Garratt (UK) – Phase (February 19)
Garratt has already released some very polished singles from the forthcoming album, and I LOVE what I hear so far. They’re catchy, modern and a mix of R’n’B, pop and electronic that you can’t put your finger on.
DMA’s (AUS) – Hills End (February 26)
This band will always have a special place in my heart, because they’re Newtowners through and through (pretty much where I have spent most of my time since I moved to Sydney). Their debut is long overdue and I bet they’ve spent that time making it a good’un.
Matt Corby (AUS) – Telluric (March 11)
There are some stunning songs waiting for us on this new album with Corby really challenging his sound in the first two singles he’s released. One thing’s for sure though, the result will no doubt be beautiful.
Flume (AUS) – Skin (TBA)
This is probably the album I’m personally anticipating most. After his self-titled debut pretty much influenced a whole generation of electronic artists in Australia, let’s just say there are very high expectations for his second. I’m not sure how he’s going to beat his first effort, but his first singles (like the most recent ‘Never Be Like You’ have built the anticipation even more – they explore his sound…but to me don’t seem to lead anywhere, so am waiting for the signature Flume drops in his new tracks.
Meg Mac (AUS) – Unknown (TBA)
She’s got big vocals and tells great stories with her work – I haven’t heard such raw soul vocals in so long so she will surely make waves with her debut album!
Big Scary (AUS) – Unknown (TBA)
One of the saddest music moments from 2015 was the end of #1 Dads! Tom Iansek left to focus on Big Scary which I guess means that they’ve got some awesome stuff planned for us in 2016 – awesome!
NGAIIRE (AUS) – ‘Diggin’ (TBA)
She’s collabed with some cool people – but 2016 could be the year that Ngaiire really makes it on her own, because she’s got an incredible voice! She’s got a new single set to be released super soon, so keep your ear to the ground.
James Blake (UK) – Radio Silence (TBA)
It’s been been less than three years since we were graced with James Blake’s new music, but it feels like a LOT longer. He’s confirmed collabs with Kanye West and Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) so it could well be a goodie.
Radiohead (UK) – Unknown Title (TBA – probably around June/July)
Rumour has it that Radiohead could be dropping their new album this year, and if so… YAY.
One more artist that I can’t wait to hear more from is Gordi, who won the Josh Pyke Partnership last year and has since signed two global booking deals. Nothing confirmed on if she will release new music this year or next, but I will be listening!
Melbourne alternative math-rock band The Valley Ends has caught our eyes and ears this week with their stunning music video release, “Aphelion”.
We’re taken into an old jazz club, but really, with the delicate acoustic guitars and warm strings, it feels like a spacious cabin in the woods. With so many musicians in the one space (the five band members and two guest strings players) there is incredible detail in their sound and it’s often hard to focus on any one instrument, as it all meshes together.
Check it out:
D’Agostino’s vocals are light and soar above the layered guitar rhythms and it’s a beautiful, complicated tune that The Valley Ends have put together this time around. It’s also awesome to see some (very pretty) Maton guitars involved in producing the sound (what can I say, I’m a sucker for Aussie guitars!).
If ever there was a soothing song for your Sunday, it might just be this startling track, “Arrival” from Japanese Wallpaper. The tune caps off the Melbourne producer’s solid five track EP Japanese Wallpaper, with some incredible collabs, including Pepa Knight, Airling and Jesse Davidson.
This particular song features vocals from one of our faves here at Vinyl Garden, Sydney artist Dustin Tebbutt. The two artists are a match made in heaven with this collab, with Japanese Wallpaper adding colour to Dustin’s wistful melodies. They are both very gentle in their songwriting and performing styles, so it really is a treat to listen to:
I was lucky enough to catch Dustin Tebbutt at the Metro Theatre on Thursday in his collaboration show with The Kite String Tangle, and one thing I really took out of it was how wonderful it is, this trend emerging in the Australian music scene of collaboration over competition. Artists helping each other out, making incredible stuff together.
Japanese Wallpaper has been very smart about this in this EP, and at only 18 years old, I’m just keen to see what he will do next, and who we might see on his next track.
When Alpine released their first album, A is for Alpine in 2012, they really burst onto the music scene in a flash of bright, shimmering pop. Now that they’ve come back with their second album, Yuck, vocalist Lou reveals that their performance and writing style has evolved over the years, bringing a new approach creatively to the same older themes that they loved exploring, like figuring life out. I got to chat with Lou about the new album and the band’s adventures touring in America, and it seems like this album is just as fun as the first…
E: Describe your new album in five words.
L: RnB, Yuck, Assured, Heartache, Courage.
E: What were the best ideas that came out of brainstorming for Yuck?
L: We finished touring end of 2013, and then we had a three month break where we went back into the studio. We knew exactly what was going on in each other’s lives, so a lot of the time in terms of what was inspiring lyrically, it was about being in your late 20s, in comparison to A is for Alpine, when we were in our early 20s. There was always kind of hope that when you get older, all these awkward feelings just kind of figure themselves out.
We noticed that from being about 27 years old, it’s sort of accepting that life is always hard and unexpected, but looking at it in a funny way. And that’s why we called the album Yuck because it’s kind of this ratty, just “Yuck!”, but it’s also kind of amazing because the more you face these challenges in life, the more you figure out about yourself, which is a really beautiful thing. I like to think of this album as a stage of our lives which is like Alpine in the truer sense.
E: What do you think you and Phoebe’s greatest strength as a team of vocalists is?
L: In terms of the writing of our vocals, I guess it’s funny – when we first started I had a very different style of singing, and now sometimes when we listen back to tracks, we can’t even tell who’s singing what! And because we’ve been together for so long, performing and always warming up, you start to create a unison sound. We’re very inspired by Kate Bush – she uses her vocal range in really different ways, and we try to push different sounds.
E: Do you prefer touring or writing?
L: They’re both so different – writing, it’s such a different part of your brain. It’s like you’re writing journal entries and trying to create a piece of artwork, and then when you’re touring it’s like bootcamp, you’re travelling around, you’re never at home, it’s quite exposing when you’re performing, and sometimes there are days where you might want to go to a friend’s party but you’re feeling really sad, and you’re like “I might just stay at home”. You can hibernate. But sometimes when you’re doing a show you feel like that but you have to do a show.
Emotionally, it’s way more challenging, but then the writing process is more therapeutic. The touring is still fun! But it’s such a different part – very yin and yang.
E: What’s your number one ‘yuck’ moment of all time?
L: I was having a long distance relationship with someone – and my reaction to anyone being in a long distance relationship was ‘yuck’, but then I ended up being in one! That was kind of unexpected. Just trying to make a long distance relationship work, and then when it ended, that was the yuckest experience. But obviously it was also the most beautiful because it was the first time I really ever felt in love.
Yuck is out now, and Alpine are touring all over Australia (including Splendour in the Grass)! They’ve got a super fun sound, so be sure to check them out.