ustralia may be cooling down for a bit, but our musical talent sure as hell aren’t. This month, we’ll be properly introduced to The Barnestormers – the supergroup of Cold Chisel‘s Jimmy Barnes, The Living End’s Chris Cheney and a veritable who’s who of rockabilly virtuosos – and reacquainted with our old friends Alex Lahey and Bad//Dreems (both of whom are dropping their first albums since 2019).
We’ll also hear new full-length efforts from Naretha Williams, Fascinator and The Murlocs, plus EPs from Aya Yves, LOSER and NME 100 alumnus Surusinghe. One notable release, too, is Milk! Records’ first volume of official remixes, where songs by the likes of Courtney Barnett, Jen Cloher, Hachiku and Mess Esque are given trancey re-dos by stalwarts like Banoffee, California Girls, The Merindas and Simona Castricum.
There’s plenty more for us to explore in May, but for now, let’s explore these 10 ripping new records.
‘Serotonin & Forget Me Nots’
Aya Yves‘ second EP takes the foundations of conventional pop structures then twists and subverts them at every turn, punctuating shimmery, atmospheric synths with glitched-out stabs and clubby machine drums. Those rapidly evolving soundscapes create a compelling backdrop for Yves’ vocals to soar above, elevating their impact and drawing out raw, human emotion from even the most futuristic-sounding electronics. Alex Gallagher
Aya Yves’ ‘Serotonin & Forget Me Nots’ is out May 5.
Children Collide‘s Johnny Mackay takes his Fascinator project on its third voyage, a collection of tender, introspective meditations on love and loss that prioritise connection and immediacy over experimentation.
While woozy, kaleidoscopic textures weave underneath, the best moments on ‘Lovesongs’ are sparse: Mackay’s vocals and gently-reverbed guitar strums, as on the slow-burner ‘I Got You’. If you like your psych-pop with heart, it’s well worth sinking into these songs. AG
Fascinator’s ‘Lovesongs’ is out May 5 via Spinning Top Records.
Earlier this year, Surusinghe appeared on the NME 100 list of essential emerging artists for 2023. In just three tracks and 13 minutes, the Melbourne-born, London-based producer and DJ’s turbo new EP delivers on all that hype and then some.
Led by the bass-heavy breakbeat banger ‘Likshot’, the songs on Surusinghe’s latest project are at once hypnotic and exhilarating, taking sharp turns at any point things get a little too comfortable. AG
Surusinghe’s ‘Get Flutey’ is out May 18 via Steel City Dance Discs.
‘Milk! Records Remixed Vol 1’
Belatedly celebrating 10 years of the renowned Melbourne label (co-founded by two of its biggest stars, Courtney Barnett and Jen Cloher), this 13-track collection reimagines indie-rock favourites as woozy and transcendent IDM numbers.
- READ MORE: Courtney Barnett: “I was trying to retrain my brain to not get hung up on certain things and to see the beauty in those moments”
It leans heavily on atmospheric trance and downtempo – highlights in this realm coming in Banoffee’s smoky and croaky spin on ‘I’ll Probably Be Asleep’ by Hachiku, and the cruisy California Girls remix of ‘Sweetspot’ by Mess Esque – but there’s plenty of flavour in this Milk!-y treat. The Merindas, for example, re-do Barnett’s ‘History Eraser’ as a plucky club number, while Simona Castricum makes ‘Anonymous Club’ spacey and soaring for her remix. Ellie Robinson
‘Milk! Records Remixed Vol 1’ is out May 12 via Milk! Records.
‘The Answer Is Always Yes’
For her long-awaited third album, Alex Lahey brought in a suite of collaborators – including new faces like Jackknife Lee (a favourite of R.E.M. and U2), Brad Hale (of Now, Now) and Jenny Owen Youngs, plus longtime mates like Oscar Dawson (of Holy Holy) and John Castle (who Lahey worked with in her Animaux days) – making this her most expansive and experimental solo effort.
‘The Sky Is Melting’ and ‘Permanent’ shine as the album’s most “out-there” tracks, the former a wistful ballad (about greening out on pot gummies) and the latter a warm acoustic tune that erupts into a soaring, almost triumphant climax. The title track follows the same formula, but flips the script with twinkling synths and warbly atmospherics. So should you listen to this record? Well, the title says it all. ER
Alex Lahey’s ‘The Answer Is Always Yes’ is out May 19 via Liberation Records.
A lot of brutal shit has gone down in the past four years, so it’s no surprise that Bad//Dreems are more restless than ever on this comeback album. Tightened production and more dynamic songwriting makes songs like ‘No Island’ and ‘Godless’ feel like they come from an evolved version of the Kaurna/Adelaide pub-thrashers (albeit one still hellbent on slaughtering the status quo).
And frontman Ben Marwe has become viciously sharp with his quippy and barbed lyrics: ‘See You Tomorrow’ tackles the moral ambiguity of modern living, while ‘Mansfield 6.0’ rips on the anti-lockdown protests of 2021, and ‘Jack’ shines a light on the continued erasure of First Nations culture and history in so-called Australia. There’s a lot to unpack here, but Bad//Dreems do a stellar job of making sure none of it goes ignored. ER
Bad//Dreems’ ‘Hoo Ha!’ is out May 19 via Farmer & The Owl / BMG.
‘Stadium Dreams On A Bedroom Budget’
LOSER’s first record as a two-piece doesn’t compromise on fierceness, packing its six tracks with lashings of crunchy and convulsive guitars, belting drums and instantly gripping vocal hooks.
Named for the motto they’ve lived by since day one, ‘Stadium Dreams On A Bedroom Budget’ is aptly reflective of LOSER’s toolbox, hitting every beat from frayed acoustic balladry to powerful wallops of ‘90s punk-pop (with guitar solos bordering on glam-metal). It’s half as long as an album of theirs would be, but loaded with colour and catchy as all get-out, this EP very much deserves to sit alongside LOSER’s full-length efforts. ER
LOSER’s ‘Stadium Dreams On A Bedroom Budget’ is out May 19 via Domestic La La Records.
‘Calm Ya Farm’
Uncle Murl go country! Well, kind of. After the buzzy, frenetic garage-rock of last year’s ‘Rapscallion’, the band – featuring King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard‘s Ambrose Kenny-Smith and Cook Craig – take their cues from The Byrds for this rollicking new record.
Some songs lean into the brief more than others here: opener ‘Initiative’ and the freewheeling, harmonica-driven ‘Superstitious Insights’ best capture the band’s sonic detour, with plenty of their distinctive brand of psych-blues to be found throughout. AG
The Murlocs’ ‘Calm Ya Farm’ is out May 19 via Uncle Murl.
Jimmy Barnes is a rockabilly king in his own right, but united with some of the hard-hitting heavyweights in the game today – The Living End’s Chris Cheney, Stray Cats’ Slim Jim Phantom, Kevin ‘Caveman’ Shirley and Jools Holland – that royal might is taken to striking new heights.
While it’s the Cold Chisel frontman’s soulful tenor that piques curiosity at first, that’s just one piece of a much more complex and dynamic puzzle: Cheney’s rollicking riffs gel wonderfully with Shirley’s groovy low-end, while Holland adds some brightness and flare on the piano. This is ‘50s jukebox jamming at it’s rockin’ and rollin’ best. ER
The Barnestormers’ self-titled album is out May 26 via Bloodlines.
‘Into Dusk We Fall’
Naretha Williams‘ 2020 debut, ‘Blak Mass’, was an impressively expansive work, built around droning, avant-garde compositions performed primarily on Melbourne Town Hall’s nearly 100-year-old grand organ. Her new record channels that experimentation and boundless ambition through searing, industrial-tinged synth-pop, with brilliant results.
Highlights like ‘Kairotic’ and ‘Wind You Up’ are made for broody, darkly lit dancefloors, and see Williams introduce a new sonic element in the form of her vocals. Altogether, ‘Into Dusk We Fall’ presents a more accessible entry point into a truly unique and challenging artist. AG
Naretha Williams’ ‘Into Dusk We Fall’ is out May 26 via Groundstar Music.