arch is an unmistakably huge month for Australian releases, thanks in no short part to Camp Cope (the most recent NME Australia cover stars), Andy Golledge, Mossy, Xavier Rudd and the Hoodoo Gurus.
But it’s also prime time for tomorrow’s legends to make their mark on the scene: this month, we’ll see debut full-lengths from the likes of Dallas Woods, PLANET and The S-ft F-cus, as well the first solo record from The Waifs’ Vikki Thorn.
Elsewhere in March, we’ll hear politically charged retro-pop from FERLA, a poignant new character study from Alex Cameron, a wallop of incendiary social commentary from Pinch Points, and a vicious take on trap-metal from Zheani.
“The future’s too dark to see, but love is still a triumph,” Giuliano Ferla declares above dramatic retro synths on ‘I’m Pulling Weeds’, the existentialist spoken-word monologue that comes midway through FERLA’s second album ‘Personal Hotspot’.
- READ MORE: FERLA: “I’m not Atlas, y’know? I don’t want to try to shoulder the burden of the entire world”
That’s really the guiding principle of the band’s latest – a search for glimmers of hope among chaos, tragedy, dread, banality; an appeal to the human capacity for collective feeling – all underpinned by lightning sparks of brilliant, buoyant late-night pop. Alex Gallagher
FERLA’s ‘Personal Hotspot’ is out March 3.
No one paints a desperate character like Alex Cameron. Album four sees him navigate that role with more genuine reflection than ever before, turning down his more sardonic impulses for a poignant — but always, despite everything, celebratory — portrait of addiction and a meditation on a time when real-life connection is increasingly difficult to find.
That’s counterbalanced by some of his most crisp, glistening synth-pop yet, exemplified best by the deceptively euphoric title track, assisted by Sleaford Mods‘ Jason Williamson. AG
Alex Cameron’s ‘Oxy Music’ is out March 11 via Secretly Canadian.
With ‘Julie’s Boy’, Dallas Woods has well and truly arrived. Take the Jerome Farah-produced standout ‘Grime’, an explosive burst of rapid-fire bars and tenacity, or ‘Colorblind’, which sees the Noongar rapper eviscerate colonial injustice with sobering conviction and wit.
After a string of deservedly hyped standalone singles and collabs with Baker Boy and Kee’ahn, Woods’ powerhouse mini-album more than cements his quickly rising status. AG
Dallas Woods’ ‘Julie’s Boy’ is out March 11.
Steeped in blissful nostalgia and carefree youthfulness, PLANET’s debut album is well suited for its autumn release.
There are parallels between this record and the early works of DMA’S (frontman Matty Took is, after all, the younger brother of the latter’s Johnny). But enriching their sun-kissed Britpop with atmospheric grooves, playful keys and just a touch of distortion where it counts, PLANET prove here that they’re undoubtedly unique. Matt Doria
PLANET’s ‘Information Overload’ is out March 11 via Modern Sky Entertainment / Dew Process / Universal Music Australia.
The S-ft F-cus
‘Lousy w/ Love’
Danny Lee Allen isn’t a newcomer by any means, but he’s typically been seen at the back of the stage, bashing away on a drum kit. The S-ft F-cus’ debut EP, though, puts him square in the spotlight – as well as playing every instrument, the Youth Group mainstay wrote, recorded, produced and mixed every song himself.
It’s a woozy and warbly tribute to loved ones he’s lost, promising fuzzy melodies drenched in equal measures of colour, reverb and charisma. MD
The S-ft F-cus’ ‘Lousy w/ Love’ is out March 11.
Best known for the clean, bristly plucks of her hollowbody guitar and folky vocal twang in The Waifs, the debut solo effort from Vikki Thorn – here reborn as ThornBird – shows a bolder, more roughed-up side to the WA songwriter.
Steered by its barn-stomping blues-rock flair, the record shines with a loveably raw, dirty and unshackled feeling, as though it was plucked right from the soundboard of a late-night bash at an outback pub. MD
Vikki Thorn’s ‘ThornBird’ is out March 12.
Pinch Points don’t fuck around. The rising Melbourne four-piece’s incendiary second album situates their forthright, socially-guided songwriting – pulling apart overlapping structures of consumerism, systemic inequality and mental illness – with frankness and empathy in equal measure.
It’s anchored by the band’s bouncy, locked-in post-punk and a direct vocal delivery that borders on sprechgesang, altogether resulting in a record that’s as thrillingly fun as it is razor-sharp. AG
Pinch Point’s ‘Process’ is out March 18 via Mistletone Records / Exploding In Sound Records.
“Bedroom pop” has become an increasingly nebulous term, but Liv Jansz’s debut solo album as Punko – primarily self-recorded at home over three months in 2020 – captures the genuine, intimate brilliance still being produced under its banner.
Jansz’s gossamer vocals are foregrounded throughout by lush, hypnagogic arrangements of layered synths and reverb-heavy guitar. But the economical approach taken throughout is a testament to her songwriting, no element ever feeling superfluous. AG
Punko’s ‘Plants Singing’ is out March 18.
‘I Hate People On The Internet’
Somewhere between the visceral grit of Death Grips and the blindingly bright, Auto-Tuned sheen of 100 gecs, there’s a hyperpop/trap-metal goldmine dying to be tapped.
On this wonderfully discordant, boundary-pushing EP (and her Dirty Hit debut), Zheani digs into that mine like she’s got a body to bury in it. ‘I Hate People On The Internet’ is simultaneously cutesy and convulsive, melding sharp pop melodies and tight production with jarring electronic juts, percussive wallops and gnarly screams. MD
Zheani’s ‘I Hate People On The Internet’ is out March 23 via Dirty Hit.
For their third album, Bugs refine their unparalleled blend of punchy pub-rock and bouncy pop-punk into their tightest, most hook-laden opus.
Singles like the summery, fuzzed-out ‘In The Middle (Of It)’, the strikingly emotive ‘Decisions, Commitments & Plans’ and the downright explosive ‘Diamond’ paint a solid picture of what to expect. But it’s the deeper cuts, like the soaring ‘Alone Again’ and Kisschasy-channeling ‘Microwaver’, that make ‘Cooties’ such a riveting listen. MD
Bugs’ ‘Cooties’ is out March 25 via Community Music.