From the quirky to the poignant to the sinister, here's a selection of some of our favourite new songs from local artists.
If two EP's weren't enough for one year, Brisbane-based trio Babaganouj (pictured) are driving home a third, Clarity Restored, in February 2017. After their previous records Pillar of Light and Hard To Be caught the attention of Japanese label 2670 Records, 'Nouj have been selling out in stores across Japan, including at Tower Records in Shinjuku.
New single "Star" — the first taste of the new EP — is classic Babaganouj: a 90's grit-pop tune with breezy melodies, crackling electric guitars and rolling percussion. In a nod to fellow-Queenslanders Iron On, Flying Nun and early Tegan & Sara pop experiments, "Star" resonates with a distinguished jangle. Clarity Restored is due for release in Japan in February, with a Japanese tour to follow.
To accompany their track "Fire and Ice", rap duo Spit & Mac have released a music video that grapples with issues surrounding ice addiction, a reality they feel profoundly in their hometown of Geelong. Teaming up with film production company Up Creative, the clip was written and executed by Will Cook and features emerging actors Jesse Morton and Tara Vagg.
Both the video and song puncture a familiar comfort established at the beginning, whether in the sharp lyrics that thwart lilting vocals, or the candid urgency of the clips that unsettles quiet suburbia. As Spit says, "for us, it's a topic that's impacted us through family and close friends. We're not trying to preach or give advice, it's just basically stating what's going on and what it's doing to people".
Wistful, expressive and dreamy, Alex L'Estrange's new video "Nothing to Hide" delves into quiet spaces with oddball details. Sustained harmonies settle underneath carefully defined drums, whilst L'Estrange's voice both soars and growls.
The lyrics tell stories in uncertain phrases — while the chorus feels like a stretch of mild insomnia ("how could I sleep at night/the mist and the moon on my head"), the verses hint at something more nostalgic ("they knew me for years by another name/and I'll override myself"). In the video too, up-and-coming actress Celia Griffiths swaps between pensive stares into foggy city-scapes before engaging wearily with the mannequins — she is the one who's focused, intimate and alive.
L'Estrange says about the song: "It was written on one of those strange days that felt more like a dream... I didn't find out about what that [song] really meant until later that night. That evening, a stranger visited me at the house I was living at in Auchenflower. I ended up going back to her mansion that she lived at alone. She divulged her life story. When I finally got back home, the song made sense. It was for her.”
Structured in synth movements that pulse and taper, the song glides from verse to chorus, and although "Stay" feels minimalist, the collection of percussive snaps and tinkling riffs create light layers that fill out the song. But it's Isabel's vocals that demand attention — broody and dynamic, her tone shifts from pure, to breathy, to emboldened, with effortless grace.
Amid electric slides, solid bass riffs and a smattering of soul lies some light psychedelia and a penchant for madness in Castlecomer's "Judy" (from their recently released EP All Of The Noise).
Coy, dark and endearing, "Judy" is accompanied by a cheeky video, directed by Ben Sheen (Polish Club, winner of Triple J Unearthed NIDA competition) that feels as playful as it does reckless — the song explores power play in a relationship, written from the perspective of the weaker party. Lead vocalist Bebe says of the clip "'Judy' is the most sinister tune on the EP. There's a bit of Stockholm Syndrome in there, a bit of unrequited love."
Castlecomer kicked off their All Of The Noise tour in November and are set to play Sydney, Brisbane and Byron Bay this month.