Thando wants everyone to know the difference between tolerance and acceptance
Thando – ‘NUMB.’ (ft. Remi)
Let's start with the basics: 'NUMB', by Melbourne singer Thando and featuring renowned Aussie rapper Remi. is nothing short of world class. Deep, smooth and sleek in all the right places, cutting and powerful when it needs to be.
It's musically challenging, immediately appealing and just straight up killer from start to finish. Good luck to any other Australian artist trying to release a better hip hop track this year.
But it's also important to go a bit deeper and hear directly from Thando about what the song is all about.
“Numb is a song written about my experiences trying to confront feeling ostracized. Lyrically, I took the approach of having to be wasted to get along with people I have nothing in common with (and we’ve all been there).
“On a personal level however, I’m addressing being an ‘African Youth’ who has grown up in Australia. Topics concerning ‘belonging’ and ‘race’ have been focused on by mainstream media, (especially as of late) and this had me reflecting on my place in this country and where I truly belong.
“The title references the struggle of realizing how displaced I feel when I’m being my truest self, instead of a watered-down version that’s easier to get along with… and in turn, numbing myself to how hard it actually is to do that.
“My hope is that taking this track around the country will start a conversation amongst listeners and their peers about the difference between tolerance and acceptance, and how psychologically taxing it can be as a minority to have to assimilate.”
Hers is the kind of voice we need in Australia today. It's not sensational, it's sensible. And it's the sign of a woman who's generally trying to do good in the world.
Emily Wurramara – ‘Ngarrukwujenama’
Emily Wurramara has been a favourite of ours for quite a while now, but 'Ngarrukwujenama' feels like a considerable step up. Her voice is more assured than ever and the band is so laidback you can practically see them lounging in hammocks as they play. Wurramara's chorus is an absolute earworm, so it's a good thing you'll never want it to leave your head. The whole thing just oozes with a refined, breezy class.
Lucy Dacus – ‘Addictions’
Lucy Dacus brings us close with this grungy confessional. And it feels good. She's an open book, yearning after a lost love, and her sense of detail makes her story so relatable. The music's just as good as the lyrics, fuzzy guitar, horns and a handful of other little quirks that lend a touch of levity. It's made us very excited to hear her new record Historian, which is out in March.
Lowtide – ‘Elizabeth Tower’
There aren't many bands who can claim to having as strong a handle on the sound of shoegaze as Melbourne's Lowtide. Their dreamy pop melodies brighten the whole thing considerably, proving that the genre doesn't have to be so gloomy.
Everything Is Recorded – ‘Bloodshot Red Eyes’ (ft. Infinite & Green Gartside)
Every song we've heard from Richard Russell's Everything Is Recorded project has been on point, so there's no surprise that the super soulful 'Bloodshot Red Eyes', featuring Scritti Politti's Green Gartside and Canadian singer Infinite, keeps the standard high. It's smooth, unassuming modern soul that doesn't try and do anything but be simple and beautiful.
Young Fathers – ‘In My View’
Former Mercury Prize winning Scots Young Fathers prove yet again that they are one of the most exciting groups in any genre right now. ‘In My View’ is a typically warped piece of pop that incorporates R&B, art-rock, hip hop and presents them judiciously. One of the great acts of our time.
Fizzy Milk – ‘Make Me Feel’ (ft. Jarryd James)
Caleb Nott is one half of kiwi group Broods, but we've recently learnt he also makes woozy electro pop as Fizzy Milk and 'Make Me Feel' is his first irresistible contribution in that guise. Aussie Jarryd James sounds typically lush over the top - it's a damn good match.
Eels – ‘The Deconstruction’
E is back and his Eels are sounding as sweet as ever. ‘The Deconstruction’ is the title track from Eels’ forthcoming 13th album (more details here) and it's about as beautiful as you'd expect.
Speaking about the record E was open about how current events have impacted on his writing.
“The world is going nuts. But if you look for it, there is still great beauty to be found. Sometimes you don’t even have to look for it. Other times you have to try to make it yourself. And then there are times you have to tear something apart to find something beautiful inside.”
Tune-Yards – ‘Heart Attack’
It feels like we've been waiting for Tune-Yards' fourth record I Can Feel You Creep Into My Private Life for an eternity. As 'Heart Attack' attests, it's got the same manic, exciting energy to it, and Merrill Garbus' voice is as astounding as ever. But it's got a little less African influence, a little more orchestral flourish and a slight electro-pop edge that means it's not merely more of the same.
Tim Hart – ‘A Long Way’
You may or may not recognise Tim Hart's name, but you'll surely be able to place his voice. Hart's work as drummer and vocalist of Boy & Bear cemented him as one of the country's most revered musicians and he doesn't let the quality drop when it comes to his solo material either. This is warm, inviting and wonderful contemporary folk.