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Sampa the Great, Paul Kelly and Genesis Owusu: Australia’s best new music for August | Music


Violent Soho – Kamikaze

For fans of: Grinspoon, The Screaming Trees, Dinosaur Jr.

Mansfield’s keepers of the grunge flame have announced an indefinite hiatus, which is rock speak for an early retirement, a slumber that can only be stirred with promises of sold-out stadiums and expanded anniversary reissues far, far in the not-so-distant 2030s . As a signoff, Kamikaze is a perfect amalgamation of everything that makes the band so beloved: a spidery guitar part that echoes Covered In Chrome, a quiet/loud dynamic, a face-melting down-tuned riff, and a chorus that screams in your face and compels you to scream back. After 20 years of stinky vans and sweaty fans, Violent Soho say they have moved on somewhat from their early years. Musically, however, they remain on the exact same setting – the quality and volume of their passionate tunes sitting firmly at 11. It’s been a great ride.

Formore: Violent Soho play one final show 10 September at Fortitude Music Hall in Brisbane, with DZ Deathrays.

Paul Kelly – Northern Rivers

Paul Kelly performing at the One From The Heart benefit concert on 15 May in Lismore. Photograph: Dan Peled/Getty Images

For fans of: Archie Roach, Don Walker, Perry Keyes

Paul Kelly wrote his deceptively jaunty new single Northern Rivers late last year and describes it as “a love song set in contrasting landscapes”. Since then, the region has been twice decimated by floods. Images of recovery continue to beam into our living rooms, and Kelly’s song, an ode to a woman who “can tell the coming weather in her bones, her body and her blood de ella” has grown more poignant. This is a song about nature in its wildest form.

Kelly wouldn’t be the first to like an unknowable woman to a tempest; in fact storms and waterways feature so heavily in her work that Northern Rivers acts as the lead single for a new compilation that trawls his storied career for songs that address watery themes. Sonically, this song sounds a lot like Kelly’s 90s output; warmly sung, crisply produced, and with an ear locked to the FM dial.

Formore: Rivers and Rain is out now, and follows a similarly themed collection Time.

Alannah Russack’s Entropy Band – Movement

For fans of: Aerial Maps, The Clouds, The Hummingbirds

As a key member of indie stalwarts the Hummingbirds, Alannah Russack has contributed more than her fair share of earworms to the Aussie musical canon over the years. Like the very best fuzzy pop from that aforementioned group, Movement hits instantly. There’s a giddy rush of Hammond organ, crunchy guitars, and wordless harmonies which crash through the speakers before dropping away in favor of Russack’s unmistakable voice from her, which still sounds as fresh and inviting as ever. All the pop pep disguises the serious subject matter of Movement, written about a friend who died from motor neurone disease, and the hopeless acceptance one is forced to reach in the face of such a cruel fate. Another great mid-career song from Russack.

Formore: Listen to previous single Tend Your Fire and Places You Love.

Kasey Chambers – Lose Yourself

For fans of: Peter, Paul and Mary, Janis Joplin, the real Slim Shady

One of the more unlikely upsides of the recent pandemic was that it gave Kasey Chambers ample downtime in which to perfect her long-postponed banjo cover of Eminem’s hype-up anthem Lose Yourself. She has been treating audiences to this set highlight of late, now seeing fit to release this towering eight-minute version recorded at Newcastle’s ornate Civil Theater as a single. While on the surface this reeks of mere novelty, to laugh at then move on, Chambers instead treats the source material as gospel, moving from a 60s folk reading towards barn burning blues.

As she belts “success is my only motherfucking option, failure’s not” after six-and-a-half minutes, you feel ready to go 10 rounds with Apollo Creed. With all its talk of growing old in Salem’s Lot, and paying the Pied Piper, the lyrics actually translate well to Chambers’ Southern gothic reading. It is a testament to the power of a perfectly performed cover song.

For more: Chambers plays the Gympie Music Muster from 25 to 28 August.

Richard Cartwright – Seaweed

For fans of: Brian EnoThe Flaming LipsPink Floyd

As the frontman of psychedelic wanderers Richard In Your Mind, a band who slide from peyote-infused ragas to VHS-plundering beats within the space of a single album, you’d think that Richard Cartright would have an ample outlet for his musical experimentation. But on his debut solo album, Daisy Lion, Cartwright finds further sonic avenues to stroll down. This is instantly apparent on lead single Seaweed, a shimmering slice of nautical nonsense that was originally written and rejected for a SpongeBob SquarePants movie. Not surprisingly, given this cinematic brief, this song floats along in endless bliss, a mid-point between Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robot, and the progigest Pink Floyd jam. As 1970s synths chirp inoffensively and Cartwright’s washed-out falsetto drags the gentlest melody across the surface, you could do worse than close your eyes, and drift downstream.

Formore: Daisy Lion is out now.

Workhorse – Darkness

For fans of: Julee Cruise, Cocteau Twins, Slowdive

While fans of the aforementioned acts will have already cued this song up to play, those less seduced by a dreamy vocal reverbed to infinity, and laconic tremolo guitars will still find much to love from South Australian multi-instrumentalist Harriet Fraser-Barbour’s Workhorse project. A truly breathtaking piece of music, Darkness veers away from David Lynch’s dystopian American dreamscapes, often aped by the likes of Lana Del Rey. It is instead a true mood piece that could be at home between My Bloody Valentine and Enya on a Pure Moods new age compilation.

Formore: Debut album No Photographs is due out 12 August.

Genesis Owusu – GTFO

Genesis Owusu performs during the Future of Fashion show
Genesis Owusu performs during the Future of Fashion show on 11 May. Photograph: Stefan Gosatti/Getty Images

For fans of: David Bowie, Childish Gambino, Anderson .Paak

A lot has happened since Genesis Owusu released his debut album Smiling With No Teeth last March. Four Aria awards, Triple J’s Album of the Year, European tours, a rousing debut on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, and a nod from President Obama, who included album highlight Gold Chains in his favorite music list of 2021. It’s fair to say there’s a lot riding on the success of returning single GTFO, and not surprisingly, Owusu has hit another home run.

Opening with a creepy, muffled gospel choir, Owusu skips syllables across the top of a dreamy musical bed before the song breaks down into a stomping, chanting chorus of “Get The Fuck Out” quite at odds with the rest of the tune. Sounding like the bastard child of Marc Bolan and Tricky, this is a dense but beautiful listen.

Formore: Owusu supports Tame Impala on their Australian tour throughout October, before playing at Spilt Milk, Lost Paradise and Falls festival.

Hockey Dad – T’s To Cross

For fans of: Crowded House, Jebediah, You Am I

As long as there is a 9-to-5 culture, there will be songs bemoaning the quiet desperation of the rat race, the coffee gulping, train catching annoyances of earning a crust. Three albums in, Wollongong’s Hockey Dad aren’t so removed from this lifestyle that they cannot conjure the perfect anthem for this pointless daily grind. As the band matures, they seem to lean more into classic Australian songwriting, echoing the likes of Woodface era Crowded House and golden era You Am I with this wonderful ode to that ever-niggling “is this it?” feeling. As many of us return to skyscrapers in the city, to waste away behind ever-upgrading computers, this song takes on a particularly urgent meaning.

Formore: Hockey Dad play This That festival at Brisbane 29 October, and Newcastle 5 November.

The Buoys–Red Flags

For fans of: Jimmy Eat World, Lit, Hayley Mary

I sincerely hope that when Zoe Catterall sings “you bathe in your own waste” at the start of The Buoys’ incendiary new single Red Flags, this is a metaphor for how a lover is the architect of their own downfall, and not a troubling sign of poor hygiene. Whatever the sorry case, Catterall sees the red flags all too well, but she is choosing to postpone any decisive action. Musically, Red Flags is sugary pop punk, production clean as a whistle, wound tighter than a Swiss watch, with melodic guitar lines weaving throughout any vestige of sonic space. A tambourine brightens the chorus as Catterall’s voice lifts in concert, and we have yet another winner from one of Sydney’s fastest-rising punk bands.

Formore: Listen to 2021 EP, Unsolicited Advice for Your DIY Disaster.

Sampa The Great–Bona

Sampa the Great at Lollapalooza in Chicago
Sampa the Great at Lollapalooza in Chicago, 28 July. Photograph: Rob Grabowski/Invision/AP

For fans of: Yeezus-era Kanye, Jamila Woods, REMI

Sampa The Great’s 2018 banger Energy featured in President Obama’s recent summer playlist, alongside luminaries such as Miles Davis, Joe Cocker, and Beyoncé. It’s the perfect summer anthem, a bouncy, horns-driven bomp for summery times. In Australia, however, it’s winter. Sampa’s new single, Bona, is a claustrophobic club tune, with a stalking bass line, breathy percussion, and creeping vocal harmonies. While Barack may not be bumping this tune, it’s a far more accomplished creation than Energy – and while it’s pointless to make such comparisons, at this rate, Sampa might find that she is her only decent competition from her.

Formore: Album As Above, So Below is out 9 September.

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