Against all odds, we’re reaching the mid-point of the year. Yes, although time under quarantine has become a flat circle, the world is days away from June – and the new music releases roll on.
Next month doesn’t look too shabby for Australian artists, with fresh and exciting records from beloved bands Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever and Ocean Alley, debuts from e4444e, Georgia Marley and Stevan, and much more. Here are the Australian records that NME recommends you get across in June 2020.
Rolling Blackouts CF
‘Sideways To New Italy’
On their second album, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever expand and improve on the format they took with ‘Hope Downs’. Bright, buoyant melodies underlie thoughtful reflections about place; the album is narratively situated around the Melbourne quintet’s long stint on the road touring their debut. Guitars lock together and play off one another, while dynamic, steadfast rhythms string everything together.
Here, Rolling Blackouts present themselves as a robust, well-oiled machine of a band. Standouts like lead single ‘She’s There’ validate the frequent and complimentary comparisons to The Go-Betweens and demonstrate that, while they may not be the first band to play this particular brand of indie rock, they’re one of the best doing it right now. Alex Gallagher
Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever’s ‘Sideways to New Italy’ is out via Ivy League Records on June 5.
It was around this time last year that Western Sydney singer-songwriter Georgia Marley began releasing music in earnest. She has since received support from both triple j Unearthed and FBi Radio, as well as accumulating a following within her city’s immediate DIY scene.
We now arrive at ‘Yearning’, the young artist’s debut studio album. It encapsulates where she’s come from, with previous singles ‘I Hope This Feeling Doesn’t Last’ and ‘I’ll Believe It’ being included in the tracklist. So too, however, does it indicate as to where Marley is headed: open-book autobiographical songwriting, endearing by nature and heartfelt in its execution. David James Young
Georgia Marley’s ‘Yearning’ is out via Hungry Time Records on June 5.
‘Out In The World’
Multi-instrumentalist Jay Watson – best known for his work in Tame Impala and Pond – returns to his solo vehicle GUM with a swirling, spacious record. Crafted at his Fremantle home studio in between other projects, ‘Out In The World’ moves effortlessly between hazy, textural ambience (‘Many Tears to Cry’) and groove-laden, retro psych-rock (‘Alphabet Soup’).
Nestled among the lush sonics are reflective meditations on both Watson’s internal world and the one around him. Combined, these songs showcase Watson spreading his wings as a considerate, imaginative songwriter, doing his own thing without any sense of urgency. AG
GUM’s ‘Out In The World’ is out via Spinning Top Records on June 12.
2019 began with the name Spacey Jane barely inciting a murmur of interest. It ended, however, with them being one of the great hopes of Australian indie rock. Their aptly titled debut ‘Sunlight’ basks in the warmth of an endless summer, but contrasts with lyrical vulnerability that cuts through even the poppiest of moments.
The Fremantle band previewed ‘Sunlight’ with a string of killer singles, all of which get better within the long-player context. Tracks like ‘Head Cold’ and the triple j Hottest 100-placing ‘Good For You’ are complemented by fresher cuts such as ‘Trucks’ and ‘Booster Seat’. Expect their rise to be stratospheric. DJY
Spacey Jane’s ‘Sunlight’ is out on June 12.
He’s got the most unpronounceable name in Australian music. Thankfully, the music Romy Church makes as e4444e is more accessible in nature. Experimenting with various soundscapes and instrumentation, Church has already assembled an intriguing and diverse body of work in the last few years.
‘Coldstream Road’ is the second studio album from the Newcastle-based project. On the new, 10-track effort, Church expands on e4444e’s musical spectrum, aiming for something more melodic yet simultaneously dissonant. The end result is his most ambitious and challenging release to date. DJY
e4444e’s ‘Coldstream Road’ is out via Spunk Records on June 12.
‘The Passing Scene’
Leah Senior recently remarked that she writes her best when she’s “swayed by whimsy”. Her new album is testament to that impulse: the Melbourne folk artist trades sparse, finger-picked acoustic guitar for freewheeling piano chords, jangly electric and full band arrangements on the triumphant, joyous ‘The Passing Scene’.
While there are flashes of the gorgeous, ethereal folk that categorised her earlier work, the record shines brightest with the whimsical pop of tracks like ‘Evergreen’, ‘Dreary Day’ and ‘Ocean Quilt Lady’. It’s easy to categorise music like this as nostalgic, but here, there’s a powerful marriage of Senior’s influences and her own distinctive, idiosyncratic songwriting. AG
Leah Senior’s ‘The Passing Scene’ is out via Flightless Records on June 12.
At 19, Stevan has notched the kind of musical achievements some artists won’t reach till they’re far older. His 2019 single ‘Timee’ has been streamed over two million times, his blend of modern R&B and hip-hop landing him enviable festival slots, and shows with the likes of Omar Apollo and Montaigne.
‘Just Kids’ is his debut mixtape, some three years in the making and well worth the wait. It sees him learning more from his key influences, ranging from Frank Ocean to the late Bill Withers. Conversely, it also paints Stevan as an idiosyncratic creative force. DJY
Stevan’s ‘Just Kids’ is out via Honeymoon/Astral People Recordings on June 12.
Simona Castricum oscillates between soaring new wave, dark and driving techno and many places in between for her new record, ‘Panic/Desire’. A “soundtrack” to the Melbourne synthesist’s PhD in Architecture, the album examines urban and digital spaces through the lens of gender and sexual nonconformity, proposing empathy as a means of resistance and imagining communal queer futures.
The nature of its subject matter makes for an album that’s at once deeply personal and necessarily political, resulting in a profoundly cathartic release about the search for belonging and connection – with one’s outer world, with the people around them, and with themselves. AG
Simona Castricum’s ‘Panic/Desire’ is out June 19.
Ocean Alley have always worn their influences fairly proudly on their sleeve, and that’s no different on ‘Lonely Diamond’. On the band’s third, most ambitious record, they give themselves the space to step into themselves in a way that feels both organic and a lot of fun.
The end result is a sprawling yet cohesive release that’s thoroughly enjoyable to get lost in: a rich, expansive universe that’ll delight longtime fans and newcomers alike. With a confident liveliness and shredding galore, ‘Lonely Diamond’ brims with a kind of electricity that’ll make for huge on-stage moments once those are allowed again. AG
Ocean Alley’s ‘Lonely Diamond’ is out June 19.
‘Our Two Skins’
In 2017, Sophie Payten – better known as Gordi – released ‘Reservoir’. The culmination of years of work and a radical reinvention of her indie-folk upbringing, the album would go on to be one of the finest Australian releases of the decade. Needless to say, a lot rides on ‘Reservoir’’s all-important follow-up.
Recorded in her rural hometown of Canowindra, ‘Our Two Skins’ sees Gordi once again turning her vulnerability into a creative strength. It explores her coming out, her state of mind and the grief that comes with the loss of a loved one. Throughout, it also remains identifiably hers. DJY
Gordi’s ‘Our Two Skins’ is out via Liberation Records on June 26.