LNWY Recommends: August’s Best New Music

Laneway Festival’s Dom O’Connor picks out the best tracks of the month – from some emerging teen prodigies to a vital new voice in Aussie guitar rock.

‘Shape Of Love’

Dreller

Thom Rawle (formerly of Papa vs Pretty and now making music as Dreller) throws in the kitchen sink on his first release in two years. ‘Shape Of Love’ layers a walking synth-bass line; vocoder-ised voices straight out of a Parliament record; Thom’s earnest, high falsetto; and a Prince-like guitar break into a coda that explodes in cathartic ecstasy. ‘Shape Of Love’ aims as high as it possibly can, and Thom (playing every instrument on the track) hits the mark.

‘Think I’m Still In Love With You’

Joyce Manor

Florida pop-punk lifers Joyce Manor can essentially write a sweetly earnest, lightly chugging song in their sleep. Whereas in the past Joyce Manor was content to thrash it out (often in two minutes or less), ‘Think I’m Still In Love With You’ takes a strong influence from Big Star, in both the gentle sway and harmonies in the song’s chorus. It’s also the sound of a band (slightly) growing up, and revelling in the contentment it causes.

'Gain Clout'

Young Thug

Young Thug’s new label compilation Slime Language isn’t all winners by any means, but ‘Gain Clout’ is the most obvious example of his singular star charisma on the record. Over a minimal beat, Thug offers some typically mush-mouthed verses, the bars less important than the percussive way he makes words sounds. ‘Gain Clout’ isn’t a remarkable, once-in-a-lifetime moment or performance from Thug, but when you’ve got enough verbal dexterity to keep up with a beat as unwavering as this, you’re on to a winner.

'Bridges'

Erthlings

Preternaturally-talented Sydney teens Erthlings have been making music together since they were nine years old. Now they’re 16, and ‘Bridges’ is the first taste of music from them. It rides a strutting bass-line to create a palpable sense of cool, with singer Issy’s airy voice coming to the fore in the song’s chorus. What were you doing when you were 16? Probably not writing songs as considered, subtle and impressive as this.

'Waste My Time'

Benefits

Mason Lewtas (aka Benefits, also of Deep Sea Arcade and Matrick Jones) has hit on a strummy earnestness of ‘Waste My Time’, an endearingly catchy first single full of open-hearted emotion and sincerity. The gorgeous slide guitar matches nicely with Mason’s easy baritone, and the songwriting takes the best of early Ryan Adams and matches it with a power-pop tempo. As the first taste of a debut EP, it’s a fully-formed introduction to a promising young songwriter who innately understands a good pop song.

'1995'

Johnny Hunter

On their second single, Sydney upstarts Johnny Hunter hit pub-punk gold on ‘1995’. Frontman Nick Hutt’s sonorous, dramatic delivery ebbs and flows with twangy, sweat-soaked riffs peppered throughout. The innate irony of ‘1995’’s lyric sheet is tempered by the ferocity of the band’s playing, attacking the song with a fiery anger. ‘1995’ asserts Johnny Hunter as an energetic, vital voice within Australian guitar music.

'When I’m With Him'

Empress Of

It’s been a minute since we’ve heard from Empress Of, and ‘When I’m With Him’ is a welcome return from the LA product. Matching Blood Orange-like guitar squiggles with a bilingual vocal take in English and Spanish, Empress Of manages to verbalise the constant inner-speak that comes with a new relationship. It’s the most immediate song she’s ever written, and it’s the way she externalises inward dialogue that makes ‘When I’m With Him’ both undeniably great instantly relatable.

'See You At The Movies'

J Mascis

Perma-mellow Dinosaur Jr frontman J Mascis has been cultivating a side hustle for the last few years making relaxed, acoustic-driven folk music under his own name. ‘See You At The Movies’ is a bit more hi-fi than recent solo excursions (and contains lots of his classic shredding) but also never loses sight of the sweet, quietly-longing melodies he can assumedly write in his sleep at this point. ‘See You At The Movies’ probably won’t convert any Dinosaur Jr/J Mascis agnostics, but for fans of his singular oeuvre it’s an example of his refusal to slow down more than 20 years into his career.

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