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By Nathan Jolly and Australia’s Guardian
River Pnau ft Ladyhawke –
For the following fans: Paul Young, Neneh Cherry, Kygo
Pip Brown (Ladyhawke), a New Zealand singer, lent her voice to Pnau’s single Embrace in 2007.
In the short-lived side band Teenager, she had previously collaborated with Pnau’s Nick Littlemore before they split to return to their respective musical day jobs. Thirteen years after Embrace, for the Happy River, the two are reunited, the perfect song to wash down not only the past year, but the last EDM decade. For the festival season we were denied, this resolutely mid-00s sounding dance track is tailor-made; ideal for once-frequented nightclubs that now seem like a distant fever dream.
Can you imagine dancing so tight and openly sweating? The frenetic, melodic vocals of Ladyhawke have something of a Pacific island feel, with 16-bit bleeps and vibrant keys that add to the sound of the tropical club. It’s almost possible to taste Kahlua.
For more: listen to the first two singles from Pnau’s forthcoming sixth album, Solid Gold and All Of Us.
Dannika – I’m not going to be with someone
For fans of: Lower Plenty, The Twerps, Courtney Barnett.
You can detect a certain shrill sound coming from bedrooms and practice rooms in downtown Melbourne if you listen closely.
With an aversion to distortion, Spidery electric guitars spin webs around laconic vocals that speak of the Australian experience without really being precise. The origins go back to Brisbane’s poetic Go-Betweens singles and the Lucksmiths CDs that turn up from time to time in op shops.
The new single by Dannika Horvat is about such a sound, a lovely ode to the desire to be with someone even if they do not live up to expectations. The voice of Horvat wrings various emotions and strength levels from the repetitive second verse that spans almost half the song, “it’s just you and me, baby”.
Four years have passed since the release of her debut EP For Peaches – an eternity in the world of music, sure, but who said anything about being in a hurry?
For more, Dannika’s Gems album is out on January 29th.
AC/DC – Fire of the Demon
For lovers of: Vivaldi, Bach, Beethoven
The first 10 seconds of “Demon Fire” mark perhaps the first time in AC/history DC’s that they have deviated from the formula that has made them one of the greatest rock bands in the cosmos, at the risk of being slightly biased about a band that has sold 200 million records in 45 years.
We are greeted, instead of the anticipated scream, by deep, threatening voices coming from the beast’s belly. It’s back to business as usual, then.
And business is steady; it’s good business. Like bassist Cliff Williams and drummer Phil Rudd, singer Brian Johnson has returned to the fold for the band’s new release. Having co-written this song with his brother Angus, also the late Malcolm Young is in the mix.
It’s reassuring that AC/DC is still peddling their distinctive high-voltage rock ‘n’ roll brand in a year when almost all has changed.
For more: check out their newest album, Power Up, where Malcolm Young co-wrote every song.
Masterpiece of The Rubens –
For fans of: Foals, The Weeknd, Charli XCXX
About the time of their Powderfinger- and Hottest 100-conquering single Hoops, if you last paid attention to the Rubens, you’ll be surprised at the sonic terrain they’ve traveled in the five years since.
The fourth single and opening track from their forthcoming album 0202, Masterpiece, features “pouring 40s” and chewing Valium, all set to a groove and moody synths ready for a club. They’ve come from Menangle a long way, that’s for sure.
Like the three previously released 0202 songs, Masterpiece is based on minimal backing tracks and Sam Margin’s earworm-worthy vocal hooks, which often come very close to hip-hop without sounding forced. This track comes closest to living up to its titular assertion when, before flowing into a wordless chorus, it slips from the rhythmic chorus into a beautifully melodic bridge.
Impressive material, a smorgasbord of influences and styles that nestle beautifully together.
0202 is out Feb. 12 for more, which includes the Live in Life, Heavy Weather and Time singles