Bow down to Janelle Monae, one of the most vital artists of the 21st Century
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Janelle Monae – ‘Make Me Feel’
The two albums Janelle Monae has gifted us in the past decade have been nothing short of masterpieces. Yet still, that only scratches the surface of her absolute brilliance and why she is one of the most vital artists of the 21st Century.
She is a multi-disciplinary artist (and a great actress) and a champion of great creative minds. She looks at the world differently and channels that into her art. It’s what takes her from being brilliant – as a woman of her talents would always be – to something more remarkable still. A singular artist with a vision that could go anywhere.
You can’t deny that her latest single ‘Make Me Feel’ takes a great deal of influence from her friend, mentor and massive fan, Prince. There’s shades of his slinky, perfectly taut funk through its chorus and his broad, bold vision of pop music throughout the entire track. Not sure he’d love the f-bombs that Janelle throws in, but he’d love the rest of it for sure.
Janelle Monae’s new record will be called Dirty Computer, and will be accompanied by a ‘narrative film project’. It will be out on Friday 27 April and, while hyperbole helps no one, we can’t help it; mark the date on your calendar and make some time to absorb it. It’s gonna be worth it.
Wye Oak – ‘The Louder I Call, The Faster It Runs’
‘The Louder I Call, The Faster It Runs’ never quite hits the big crescendo that you suspect is always coming, but that doesn’t make Wye Oak’s new single any less enticing. In fact, the subtlety with which the band layer vocals, synths and guitars is really endearing. This beautiful downbeat track is taken from an album of the same name, which will be out in April.
Father John Misty – ‘Mr Tillman’
If you saw Father John Misty on his latest tour, you have probably already heard ‘Mr Tillman’. In it, he plays the part of a hotel receptionist taking care of a not-quite-right Josh Tillman as he checks in to their establishment.
By now, you might find Tillman’s self-awareness in song a little grating, or you might find it completely charming. If you’re in the former camp, then that’s cool. If you’re still on Team Misty ™ then there are a dozen great lines here you’ll love.
My favourite? ‘Jason Isbell's here as well and he seemed a little worried about you’. Closely followed by ‘Those aren't extras in a movie; they're our clientele. No, they aren't running lines and they aren't exactly thrilled’.
The Radio Dept. – ‘Your True Name’
Swedish group The Radio Dept. make damn good indie rock music. They’ve been doing it for years. ‘Your True Name’ very much continues in that tradition, with a little bit of that driving, 70s German kosmische vibe in the instrumentation, and a sweet vocal over the top. It feels lazy and sunny, a must-have for your Sunday driving playlist (we all have one of those, right?).
Simian Mobile Disco – ‘Caught In A Wave’
Ravers of all ages will love the way this beautiful piece from Simian Mobile Disco slowly, subtly rolls out. It’s five-and-a-half minutes of dark, kinda eerie and kinda tranquil house that will sit perfectly in the middle of a long DJ set. Their new album Murmurations will be out in May.
Totally Mild – ‘From One Another’
Another tantalising track from one of Australia’s most charming bands. ‘From One Another’ is an equally strong showcase of Elizabeth Mitchell’s brilliant voice, and the enchanting chime of the band that supports her with such understated strength. Totally Mild released their new album Her last week, and it’s full of beauties just like this one.
Holiday Party – ‘Dream State’
Holiday Party are one of the local outfits we’re most excited to see develop through 2018. This, their second single, sees them again channelling the dreamy vintage-electro of artists like The Avalanches and the dreamy indie-pop of Camera Obscura. It’s even better than their (excellent) first track and we can’t wait to hear the third. Get familiar with Holiday Party.
Donny Benét – ‘Santorini’
The man. The master. Donny Benét. What more needs to be said? The man is Australia’s best purveyor of modern soft rock.
The first time I saw the film clip, I was transfixed. The second time, I was moved to create this gif.
His new album, The Don, is out in April. You have two months to get ready.
The Bamboos – ‘Lit Up’
The brassy soul-pop from The Bamboos is enduring, as ‘Lit Up’ attests. They’re such a solid unit that it feels unfair to spotlight anyone – but, damn, Kylie Auldist really belts out the vocal on this one. Delivering a song with such power while still retaining its earworm qualities is an enviable skill and I’m sure plenty of vocalists wish they could do it with half as much class as her. The new Bamboos record, Night Time People, is out in June. It feels so far away…
Xavier Rudd – ‘Walk Away’
Fans will admonish me for this call, but I can’t believe Xavier Rudd has released eight albums. That really crept up. His ninth will be called Storm Boy and it’ll be out some time later this year. ‘Walk Away’ is the anthemic first taste of it, and hopefully it serves as an indication of the direction the record will go in. It’s a really mature pivot for Rudd and ought to have broad appeal.