Dan Sultan stakes his claim as one of Australia's truly great singers

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‘Hold It Together’ is one of the best new tracks added to Double J this week.

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Dan Sultan – ‘Hold It Together’

Many try, but no one in Australia is making rock’n’roll that is as soulful and accessible as Dan Sultan. His voice is a gift, but his songwriting and his choice of collaborators is something that he has refined over the years to ensure his sound remains fresh, evolving with each new release.

‘Hold It Together’ is straight down the line, a simple but soulful pop-rock gem that benefits hugely from the power of Sultan’s natural vocal. It’s both slick and gritty in all the right places and its beat will make you feel like dancing just as much as its lyrics make you feel like shedding a tear.

Make no mistake, when we look back at the great Australian rock’n’roll singers of this era, Dan Sultan’s name will be up there with the biggest and the best of them and this song is just one more piece of proof. 

Algiers – ‘Underside Of Power’

If you’ve previously found the music of Algiers to be too hard-hitting, confronting and unsettling for your tastes, then it’s hard to know what you’ll make of this new gem. It doesn’t hold back in its verses, giving off that same uncompromising, spooky vibe, but then gives way to one of the friendliest, catchiest, sweetest choruses of the year.

Of course, if you loved Algiers’ brilliant debut record, you probably already know how brilliant this band’s gruff, affecting latest take on modern soul is. And you’re probably just as enthused about it as we are. 

kate kay es – ‘Working’

 

The worldly Kate Kay Es gets super personal on working. A song this subtle and beautiful is the most amazing gift she could possibly give to the friends and family she misses so much while she’s living in New York. The self-awareness is admirable, but nothing is as impressive as that voice. If only we could bottle it. Does that sound creepy?

The National – ‘The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness’

It would be pretty funny if, after four years, The National came out with a half-baked, poorly produced, kinda scrappy first single. Of course that was never going to happen – they’re one of the biggest indie bands in the world for a reason – but it’s a comical thought.

Anyway, ‘The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness’ has a rough edge to it which is very welcome. The jagged, buzzsaw guitar motif that carries on throughout the track is simple genius, while the rest of the track is as luscious and beautiful as we’ve come to expect.

They haven’t tried to change things up too much, nor have they kept things too the same. A perfect way to return, we reckon. 

Wilma Archer – ‘Like A Hunger’

The UK’s Wilma Archer makes unsettling psych-soul that we cannot stop listening to. ‘Like A Hunger’ is deep, dark and completely unpredictable, and features a perfectly executed soulful vocal from NYC’s Amber Mark that is brilliantly understated. 

Didirri – ‘Blind You’

 

Warnambool’s Didirri has such a personable voice and ‘Blind You’ shows that he knows how to write a damn good song too. ‘Blind You’ is reminiscent of The Avett Brothers’ better work (just without the harmonies). This guy is an indie-folk star in the making. 

Slowdive – ‘Star Roving’

We’ve gone on enough about the new Slowdive record in the past week or so. So, let’s cut to the chase; it’s beautiful and you need to hear it as soon as physically possible. ‘Star Roving’ is one of the many great tracks on the album, it’s a little bit noisy and packs more of a punch than much of the record, but that underlying beauty remains as well. 

Phoenix – ‘J-Boy’

Big beats, bright synths and thumping bass. The impossibly cool delivery of Thomas Mars and bizarre, idiosyncratic lyrics he sings. A general grasp on what makes a great pop song, with a few adjustments to ensure things don’t go exactly the way we’re expecting. There are plenty of things that make Phoenix great, but there’ll always be a little something we can’t put our finger on. That’s the case here on ‘J-Boy’, let’s hope it continues on their new album Ti Amo, out in June. 

Golden Age of Ballooning – ‘Illusion Of Control’

 

Another aural wonderland courtesy of Brisbane psych exponents Golden Age of Ballooning. It’s quirky, jazzy and complex, but kinda catchy at the same time. 

Ainslie Wills – ‘Running Second’

Melbourne’s Ainslie Wills is one of the great songwriters in the country right now; the understated journey ‘Running Second’ takes us on is proof of that. As with everything she does, every sound is in precisely the right place, nothing is overplayed or over sung, and she is judicious about exactly how the song moves through its four minutes. Masterful, as always. 

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