As we transition into a new season (goodbye winter – hello spring!), it’s time to introduce a whole new heap of music to accompany the change. In the following weeks, gear up for comebacks and discover new releases from exciting fresh acts.
This month’s list features the return of familiar faces including San Cisco, The Apartments and Mildlife, but also long-awaited debuts from A. Swayze & the Ghosts, Thibault and many more. Here are the Australian records that NME recommends you get across in September 2020.
‘Between You And Me’
San Cisco are at their best when they’re dishing out deceptively buoyant, hooky meditations on the pitfalls of human relationships, and their fourth full-length outing sees the Fremantle band lean largely into that impulse. On ‘Between You And Me’, the group take another satisfying step into their bright – occasionally maximalist – jangle-pop, ornamented as always by their sugary vocal harmonies.
Though they’ve gone from a quartet to a trio since last album ‘The Water’, San Cisco are nevertheless a well-oiled machine on their latest, playing off one another with the kind of musical simpatico that’s evidence of their decade-plus tenure together. Alex Gallagher
San Cisco’s ‘Between You And Me’ is out via Island City Records/Nettwerk on September 4.
‘Or Not Thibault’
A decade and a half after their only studio album, Minimum Chips’ Nicole Thibault returns with a brilliant debut solo record. Featuring contributions by members of ORB, Parsnip, The Ocean Party and Minimum Chips bandmate Julian Patterson, the melodic avant-pop on ‘Or Not Thibault’ is equally captivating.
With its modestly-constructed yet warm, layered palette of analog sound and baroque-psych arrangements, the album’s immediate charm underscores its heart: Thibault’s softly sung reflections on often painful circumstances are tender, direct and refreshingly real. In their day, Min Chips were thoughtful and deliberate in their movements, releasing their debut full-length some 11 years after forming. Thibault’s debut feels similarly unhurried – and it’s well worth the wait. AG
Thibault’s ‘Or Not Thibault’ is out via Chapter Music/Inertia Music on September 4.
‘In And Out Of The Light’
Five years ago, Peter Milton Walsh’s sprawling chamber-pop ensemble returned with their first album in 18 years, the quietly devastating ‘No Song, No Spell, No Madrigal’. Its follow-up – eight songs situated around the aftermath of grief and heartbreak – arrives a little sooner but is no less special nor impactful.
Walsh’s greatest strength has always been telling intimate, affecting stories that feel tender without bordering on mawkish, and ‘In And Out Of The Light’ is no different. If ‘No Song…’ captured the immediate ache that comes from loss, the band’s latest paints the first steps that come after, buoyed by lush, gorgeous arrangements that organically unfurl around one another. AG
The Apartments’ ‘In And Out Of The Light’ is out via Riley Records on September 18.
Melbourne’s Mildlife serve as one of Australian music’s great contemporary chameleons. Not only do they seamlessly weave their collective magic across genre boundaries, their acclaimed live show has helped them win over crowds at trippy dance festivals and mosh-ready rock venues.
On ‘Automatic’, the quartet expand their horizons even further beyond that of their previous LP, ‘Phase’. It’s jazzier, groovier and harder-hitting, but somehow also softer to the touch. ‘Automatic’ keeps you guessing right up to the final seconds of each song. David James Young
Mildlife’s ‘Automatic’ is out via Inertia Music on September 18.
Women still don’t have it easy in pop-punk, a genre where they have been either lyrically or literally victimised, or “comParamored” (that is, the reduction of their work to where it stands in relation to that of Hayley Williams and co). But there are plenty of women still ready and eager to take the scene by storm.
Exhibit A: Yours Truly arrive primed and ready on the cusp of their all-important debut. Armed with a string of slick, effortlessly catchy singles and a fresh Like A Version appearance, the Sydney band prepare their immaculately crafted album ‘Self Care’ – a record wholly confident in its approach and subsequently impressive in its execution. DJY
Yours Truly’s ‘Self Care’ is out via UNFD on September 18.
‘Everything Is Fine’
The moniker is simply explained: A phonetic spelling of singer-songwriter Lauren Tarver’s initials. El Tee’s music itself, however, takes a little more elaboration. It’s centred in the realm of indie-rock, but creates an atmosphere that immediately deviates from the norm. Tarver’s vocals know their way around arresting melodies, her words striking a chord with each line pulling at the heartstrings.
Comparisons to Julia Jacklin and Stella Donnelly are inevitable on ‘Everything Is Fine’, but considering how excellent they’ve been of late, it’s worth keeping an eye on El Tee. A similar trajectory to stardom isn’t out of the question. DJY
El Tee’s ‘Everything Is Fine’ is out on September 18.
A. Swayze & the Ghosts
Watching A. Swayze and the Ghosts live is what you’d imagine it was like to see The Saints or Midnight Oil in their hungry, pre-fame pub-gig days. Unapologetic, forthright and fucking loud to boot, the Ghosts quickly established themselves as ones to watch when they emerged in 2017.
For long-awaited debut album ‘Paid Salvation’, they venture to capture lightning in a bottle – and, for all intents and purposes, succeed. It’s an exhilarating listening experience, with the Ghosts providing ample noisy musical foil to Swayze’s bitter lyrical sermons. If you’re not already paying attention, ‘Paid Salvation’ will force you to. DJY
A. Swayze & the Ghosts’ ‘Paid Salvation’ is out via Ivy League Records on September 18.
Sleeper And Snake
Between them, Al Montfort and Amy Hill’s joint resumé includes Total Control, Terry, Primo! and Dick Diver, among others. The duo’s second album as Sleeper And Snake is a homemade patchwork that eschews bloated flashiness for genuine substance.
Gently strummed acoustic guitars and strings are ornamented by fluttering keyboards and freewheeling saxophone, creating a sonically diverse but coherent assemblage of off-kilter folk that goes far deeper than its lo-fi foundations. Their voices overlapping, Montfort and Hill use the project as a means for insightful examination of their surroundings and its broader political context, such as on excellent lead single ‘Flats’. AG
Sleeper and the Snake’s ‘Fresco Shed’ is out via Lulu’s Sonic Discs on September 25.
Multi-instrumentalist/producer James Mangohig has never been one for the spotlight. He’s worked with many big names – Briggs, Daniel Johns and the late, great Gurrumul – but has, characteristically, always remained off to the side.
That’s all changed with the project Kuya James, which merges Mangohig’s Filipino heritage with his love of hip-hop and electronica to create something unique and entirely intriguing. ‘ISA’ translates to “one” in the Tagalog language. The title reflects the album’s nature as a debut, but can also be a metaphor for starting again at square one after a decade-plus in the industry. DJY
Kuya James’ ‘Isa’ is out via Settle Down Records on September 25.
At the end of 2017, the Melbourne audio-visual duo of Misha Grace and Nic Brown quietly split and stopped talking to one another, only reuniting by chance eight months later. The resulting project – ‘FISHTANK’ – is an ambitious exploration of embodied identity, self and rebirth; its individual elements respond to and wrap around each other, ultimately coalescing in this genuinely experimental project.
As Brown builds an immersive soundscape that oscillates between abrasive noise and poignant, sombre piano lines, Grace’s visuals twist and distort its subjects until a clear image ultimately emerges. ‘take no prisoners’, which features Grace’s first vocal contribution to the project, is a standout. AG
friendships’ ‘FISHTANK’ is out via Dot Dash Recordings / Remote Control on September 30.