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Music Wrap: The must-listen tracks from August

IMAGE VIA @thymcqueen/INSTAGRAM

WORDS BY ELIZA SHOLLY

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As we plunge further into a locked-down abyss, I am having fewer articulate thoughts about anything. Music very much included. It’s hard to reconcile with the fact that I feel so removed from my passion; my passion of engaging with music in tangible ways. I hate that this has been taken away from me. If I think about it too much I’ll cry.

Rarely do I get ~in my feelings~ on the internet anymore. “I’m too old for that shit”, I nonsensically tell myself. I compare my hesitancy to applying a thick sunscreen to your face – you aren’t sure whether it’s all rubbed in. You’ll turn to the closest friend for assurance, affirming whether or not you’re all good. That’s how I feel when I write into the void – like there is no one around to tell me if the sunscreen is all rubbed in.


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When I articulate my misaligned thoughts in person, I can gauge an immediate reaction. If it seems at all disinterested or burden-inflicting, I move on. It’s why I don’t really muse in first-person anymore – I can’t see the landing.

When I write about music, however, I feel educated. I don’t care how well it’s received because eh, it’s subjective and I am an informed (chaotic) genius. And yet, now more than ever, I feel disengaged. COVID hath stripped me of my confidence. I care more than ever if someone is reading this. What do they think of it? Of me?

I would hate the idea of complaining about something we’re all going through, as if my woes are any more important than someone else’s. But I have this opportunity that’s all mine, and I want to use it to feel closer to my passion. While a niche aspect of suffering, who are we without our passions? Hopefully, I will never know.

May-A – ‘Central Station’

A few weeks ago I borrowed my best friend’s car to pick up a table on Facebook Marketplace. She had the radio set to Triple J, where I heard Bridget Hustwaithe premiere this new track from Sydney artist May-A. The song, called ‘Central Station’, serendipitously played as I was driving in Surry Hills and told the all-too-familiar tale of falling in love with a stranger on public transport. The accompanying video was directed by Claudia Bailey and stars May-A herself, alongside Zoe Terakes.

‘Central Station’ was track number three off her debut album, Don’t Kiss Your Friends. I may not agree with the title but I very much agree with the subject matter. One of my favourite Australian projects of the year thus far.

Bliss n Eso ft. Dizzee Rascal & Kings – ‘On One’

This one is for the people who say I only recommend top-tier music. The inclusion of this song proves I also recommend horrendous and culturally significant songs too. I have no idea who thought this was a good idea, but listening to it simply makes me shudder. Get it in your ears if you want to feel something for the first time in months; even if that feeling is a specific form of trash-induced retching.

NYT Popcast – ‘Billie Eilish’s New Pop Perspective’

I knew I wanted to say something about the new Billie Eilish record, but I didn’t know how to adequately address a project of this scale and context with a limited word count. My favourite podcast did a pretty good job. Jon Caramanica and Joe Coscarelli are the pop criticism dream team from The New York Times. Many of my well-articulated thoughts about music have been learned via the language of these two.

In this episode, they are joined by the equally intelligent and informed Lindsay Zoladz. These three have been writing about Billie’s career since her SoundCloud days, and do a great job of dissecting her sophomore album, Happier Than Ever. What they don’t mention is that I literally predicted the resurgence of bossa nova via this very music column. An overlooked injustice.

A TikTok song obsession

Women fucking kill it on TikTok – simple as. The app would be nothing without them, particularly the women/non-binary people of colour who provide soundtracks for the entire bloody thing. I could dedicate an entire thesis to this topic, but it’s not my place. Plenty of intelligent WOC have done the legwork, and reading dues must be paid accordingly. Check some out here, here and here.

What I will use this platform to highlight, however, are some absolute ripper TikTok songs by POC that are doing it for me at the moment. A resurgence of Meg Thee Stallion’s song ‘Cognac Queen’ has left me feeling nostalgic for her 2018 mixtape, Tina Snow. It just proves that Miss Meg was doing it to us years before she was picked up by the normies. Second is PinkPantheress, the 20-year-old British lass who twists old school samples of drum, jungle and funk with her own high-pitched voice. Jungle is coming back to radio, I can feel it.

I’ve also been rinsing Azealia Banks’ ‘Luxury’ thanks to the Nightcore version on TikTok. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was my top played song of 2021. Lastly, ‘FVN!’ by non-binary Spanish artist LVL1 gets me, for lack of a better term, wet. I am going to kiss a hot stranger to this song post-lockdown, just you wait.

Teenage Joans – Taste of Me

The first time I heard about Teenage Joans was when I saw some of their stickers plastered on the traffic poles of King St in Enmore. I love me some old school music marketing. I subsequently learned of their Triple J adoration and realised I was extremely late to the party.

Riding (and pioneering) the wave of the femme pop-punk resurgence, Teenage Joans are like an older, more practised version of The Linda Lindas. They’re a duo from Adelaide who found success with their first single, ‘Three Leaf Clover’. Taste Of Me is their first EP execution. It came out in May and finds confidence in five new tracks. ‘Wine’ is far and away the best in my book. Enjoy.

Still Woozy – If This Isn’t Nice I Don’t Know What Is

I legitimately cannot stop listening to Still Woozy, but I don’t know why. I can’t really imagine him on mainstream radio, but equally cannot believe he isn’t huge. His voice is King Krule in its distinctness but gives the angelic tones of Glass Animals. And although they sound nothing alike, the album reminds me of something from Rufus Du Soul – all the tracks bleed into one.

It makes it hard to differentiate them from each other, but also hard to turn off. ‘Window’ is the song I have been rinsing for about a year now, and plonked between the others it stands apart, yes, but not alone. No real articulation to add, this is just very nice music.

Emma-Jean Thackray – Yellow

Bandleader, multi-instrumentalist and producer, British Emma-Jean Thackray’s Yellow is where contemporary jazz fans should assemble. Without naming names, it would be remiss not to acknowledge that this genre has long been gatekept by men. Often mediocre, often overplayed. Emma-Jean Thackray flies the flag for talented jazz instrumentalists who happen to be women. Traditional in brass band arrangements and contemporary in its spirituality and psychedelic approach, Yellow stands in its own lane.

Lorde – Solar Power

I can’t really be bothered saying anything unique about this project. I found it, for lack of a better word, boring. After mentioning so many incredible, boundary-pushing female musicians already, I don’t really see it fit to celebrate mediocrity from someone who used to be one of them.

Complaining about fame is so yawn – particularly from someone whose first celebrated single was about the juxtaposed pursuit of being ‘Royal’. Perhaps it’s because I adore Pure Heroine (her first album) so much, or perhaps I just don’t really find its subtlety as ‘intimate’ as others do. Can we just dethrone Jack Antonoff already? My boredom is palpable.

Skepta – All In

Skepta’s 2020 project (a collaboration with Young Adz and Chip) tied for my favourite album of the year. In 2021, he’s released a five-track EP called All In. I’m not sure whether this release was just a way to flex on the fact he can collaborate with any industry heavyweight of his choice – J Balvin, Kid Cudi and Teezee feature on the project – but all in all it’s not bad. I’m glad it wasn’t a solo album because it neigh compares to his last, but it’s a nice way to hear some new Skeppy without committing to a full tracklist.

Honourable mentions:

‘Silver Lines’ – IAMDDB

‘Nobody’ – Nas ft. Ms Lauryn Hill

‘Billie Bossa Nova’ – Billie Eilish

‘Claymore’ – Isiah Rashad ft. Smino

‘Coming To Meet You’ – The Cat Empire

‘Fast Car’ – Syd

‘Help Yourself’ – Jitwam, TEYMORI, Atjazz

‘Better’ – Joy Orbison, Lea Sen

‘Strong Enough’ – Approachable Members Of Your Local Community

‘Bebey’ – Theophilus London

‘We’re All Alone’ – Dave

‘Left To Write’ – Juno Disco

‘Prada Bae’ – Young T & Bugsey ft. Nafe Smallz

You can keep up with Eliza here.

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