Despite the pandemic and all the uncertainty it’s engendered, Australia’s music release calendar for 2020 continues to look strong and healthy. We’re well into the second half of the year, and there’s an exciting number of EPs (from Tkay Maidza, Troye Sivan and Elmo Aoyama, just to name a few) and LPs to wrap our ears around.
Of the latter, NME is looking forward to anticipated comebacks from Cut Copy and Megan Washington, not to mention debuts from Alex The Astronaut and Great Gable. Here are the Australian records that we recommend you get across in August 2020.
This Perth four-piece began to attract attention earlier this year with singles ‘All My Friends’ and ‘Blur’, which have received regular airplay. Their debut album ‘Tracing Faces’ – recorded in Byron Bay with producers Alex Henriksson and Matt Corby – offers a fuller, more coherent picture of the captivating, sun-drenched guitar-pop they captured early on, richly textural while undeniably hooky and upbeat.
There’s an earnestness to what Great Gable do that makes them difficult not to find charming, with singer Alex Whiteman’s from-the-hip reflections on love, loss and mental health feeling like an authentic snapshot of a period in the band’s lives. Alex Gallagher
Great Gable’s ‘Tracing Faces’ is out via ADA Worldwide on August 7.
Husky wrote and partially recorded ‘Stardust Blues’ at the Westbury Hotel, a “1920s mansion” that served as an artist commune and home for the band and other artists up until 2019 – when it was demolished to make way for units. Fitting, then, that the album circles themes of rebirth after a long night.
Through a rambling yet introspective narrative inspired by James Joyce’s Ulysses, the album follows its central character over 24 hours, through the course of a personal odyssey in Melbourne. Recorded live to tape, Husky Gawenda and co’s latest is a warm, winding album full of lush arrangements that capture the band at their most eclectic – and interesting. AG
Husky’s ‘Stardust Blues’ is out via Ditto Music on August 7.
When Tom Lyngcoln makes solo records, he means it in the most literal possible sense. After decades forging ahead at the helm of bands like The Nation Blue and Harmony, Lyngcoln offered up the stark and menacing solo record ‘Doming Home’ in 2018.
Two years on, ‘Raging Head’ follows suit with no overdubs or bells and whistles, just a blunt-force singer-songwriter with an electric guitar in hand that expands Lyngcoln’s sparse dystopia to great effect. It may seem backhanded to observe that the album directly mirrors its predecessor, but that’s a full-blown compliment considering how excellent ‘Doming Home’ was. David James Young
Tom Lyngcoln’s ‘Raging Head’ is out via Solar/Sonar on August 14.
Though his 11th overall, ‘Unity’ is the first new album from the South Sudanese ‘King Of Music’ since he sought asylum in Australia half a decade ago. Singing in Nuer (his first language), Arabic and English, and playing the thom – a traditional Nuer stringed instrument – Koang crafts a vibrant and joyous collection of songs that makes an impassioned call for connection.
Joined by a band of collaborators that includes his cousin Paul Biel and local musicians through the Music In Exile project, Koang combines a diverse array of sonic influences to create a truly special record, one that underscores his profound belief in music as a means for bringing people together. AG
Gordon Koang’s ‘Unity’ is out via Music in Exile on August 14.
Alex The Astronaut
‘The Theory Of Absolutely Nothing’
Alex The Astronaut’s story is that of a true underdog. A queer kid with little more than three chords and the truth, her conversational and effortlessly charming folk-pop rose through the ranks in the late 2010s and quickly made her a festival and triple j favourite.
A string of singles have already shown great promise for Alex’s debut full-length, from the sweet-natured ‘I Think You’re Great’ to the unexpectedly dark ‘I Like To Dance’. Expect a pensive yet colourful effort from one of Australia’s most beloved young songwriters. DJY
Alex The Astronaut’s ‘The Theory Of Absolutely Nothing’ is out on August 21.
The debut album from Pop Filter – made up of members from The Ocean Party, Snowy Band and Cool Sounds – is testament to the virtue of not overthinking things. Recorded over four days in the South Coast town of Broulee, its jubilant pop sensibilities envelope jangly, languorous indie rock in a way that feels raw and organic.
Pop Filter play off one another with the kind of ease that comes only with shared, collective history and true creative freedom. The term “supergroup” feels ostentatious even at the best of times, and it particularly doesn’t do the job in Pop Filter’s case – “community” feels far more apt. AG
Pop Filter’s ‘Banksia’ is out via Spunk! Records on August 21.
After back-to-back successes ‘In Ghost Colours’ and ‘Zonoscope’, Cut Copy fell off the radar in the 2010s. Their releases became more sporadic, more introverted and experimental by design; the former chart-toppers showed no interest in ascending the pop mountain once again.
Instead, they doubled down on exploring the outer reaches of electronica and seeing exactly where it lead them. ‘Freeze, Melt’ marks album number six from the Melbourne outfit, and while you shouldn’t expect a ‘Hearts On Fire’ moment you certainly shouldn’t dismiss it out of hand either. From all reports, things are about to get very interesting for them. DJY
Cut Copy’s ‘Freeze, Melt’ is out via Cutters Records/The Orchard on August 21.
Twisting its underground club and dance influences, the new album from Canberra-born, Sydney-based producer Gus McGrath resists easy categorisation. Practically dripping with sweat, ‘Beat Boy’ takes a raw, decidedly punk approach to the typically glossy pop machine, using its hallmarks as cues for experimentation as McGrath howls over a bed of frenetic percussion and throbbing electronics.
Just as 2016 debut ‘Desire’ used its nostalgic synth-pop as a vehicle for examining ideas around romance, ‘Beat Boy’ uses its warped, esoteric pop as a means of dissecting identity and selfhood. Its bare, confessional nature offers a result that’s both incredibly intimate and cathartic. AG
California Girls’ ‘Beat Boy’ is out via Dero Arcade on August 21.
They call it “flower doom”. Imagine the airy, psych-tinged sound of Tame Impala or a mellow King Gizzard record suddenly sent straight to hell by ways of a brutal, bellowing Sleep or Sabbath riff.
You’re on the right path, but not even that dizzying imagery can really prepare you for the eclecticism and musical versatility that Turtle Skull offer. Their second studio album ‘Monoliths’ is a vast, exploratory and adventurous LP – the kind you never really know what turn it will take next, but you’re on the edge of your seat waiting to find out. DJY
Turtle Skull’s ‘Monoliths’ is out via Art As Catharsis on August 28.
It’s been six years since Megan Washington last released a studio album. The intervening years have not been spent idly, though: the Brisbane-born singer-songwriter became a mother, dropped a few excellent stand-alone singles and even scored gigs on both Bluey and Play School.
With pop mastermind Sam Dixon once again serving as co-writer and co-producer, ‘Batflowers’ is both Washington’s most ambitious and intriguing effort to date, if the neon-lit ‘Switches’ and the forlorn ‘Kiss Me Like We’re Gonna Die’ are anything to go by. DJY
Washington’s ‘Batflowers’ is out via Island Records on August 28.