This Week's Must-Listen Singles: Georgia Maq, Kali Uchis, Nicole Millar + more
All that, plus brand new tracks from Jack River and Woodes.
Every week, we're hammered with tonnes of new music from Australia and afar, so much so that at times, it feels a little overwhelming and you're not quite sure where to begin. Every week, we run down this week's must-listen singles and releases, this week featuring names like Kali Uchis, Camp Cope's Georgia Maq, Jack River and more. Check out Pilerats' homepage for more brilliant music and news, or subscribe to our Spotify Office Playlist for easy listening.
Georgia Maq - Pleaser
One of last week's big - and surprising - album releases came from Camp Cope lead vocalist Georgia Maq, who in following the footsteps of the band's bassist Kelley-Dawn Hellmrich and her solo project Kelso, launched a self-titled solo alias of her own, doing so with a surprise-released debut album, Pleaser. It's a collection of intimate and personal singles for Georgia that veer far away from the blistering indie of her Camp Cope project, enlisting names including Melbourne's Darcy Baylis for a sound that moulds forward-thinking pop with house rhythms; Robyn, Charli XCX, Lorde listed amongst influences.
There's a tonne of highlights amongst the record, but one of it's most obvious shining moments comes in the album's title-track almost mid-way through, a crafty four-minutes of bursting pop that encapsulates the beauty and excitement of the greater, Georgia Maq record. It's obviously Georgia in the spotlight - her vocal is still uniquely hers, even if it feels a little more polished and euphoric on its own - but it's layered over bubbling bursts of synth and shimmering chords; the intersection of Camp Cope's intimacy and richness born into a new light with Georgia Maq in the driver's wheel.
Kali Uchis - Solita
Kali Uchis is something special. Her near-perfect debut album Isolation - a collaboration-heavy effort that arrived last year with Tyler The Creator, Steve Lacy, Jorja Smith and more in tow - placed her into the international spotlight; a moody mix of Latin-pop and gentle R&B swirling amongst moments of emotional honesty including some of the year's best lyricism. Ever since, the world has been fixated on her next project, and how Kali can embrace the globalised expansion of Latin-drawn genres in the wake of ROSALÌA, Bad Bunny and J Balvin - something that's sure to be delivered on her second record, out next year.
Solita is the album's first taste, and it's a single that takes Kali Uchis back to her pre-Isolation roots; the focus solely on Kali and her enchanting vocal undisturbed by the plethora of guests that joined her on her debut. Switching between English and Spanish, the track takes reggaetron grooves and switches them between light and heavy, contrasting them amongst Kali's vocal sway that proves just as hypnotic two years later. "For my next album, I’m really going back to my roots, experimenting more with my music, not thinking so hard and not trying so hard — just free-flowing," she says. Let's see how it goes.
Nicole Millar - Favours
Since her 2016 debut EP Tremble, Sydney's Nicole Millar has always been at the forefront of Australian pop and the many sounds it stretches over; her growth paralleled side-by-side with a growing Australian pop scene. Take her debut album Excuse Me, for example. It's a long-winding 15 tracks of sonically rich pop music that morphs between sub-genres and tastes, embracing moments of groove-filled disco (Gimme A Break) to tall-standing, chorus-built pop music in its most authentic and unashamedly brilliant; a strong leap into a bright future for a musician whose future sounds can really be anything.
Favours, her latest single and first since her debut album, is an example of exactly what we mean. Worked on alongside Kilter and Muki - two musicians who really grapple with the forward-thinking nature of Australian pop music, including Nicole's part in it from her debut album - it's a track that takes a dark, brooding turn for Nicole; the light-hearted playfulness of her past work entering a whole new era marked with confidence and focus: "Don’t let someone walk all over you and manipulate you. Do exactly what your gut says, and own it."
Jack River - Closer
Jack River is a musician who at this point, barely needs an introduction. Her debut album, last year's Sugar Mountain, was amongst the year's best regardless of genre, detailing the complexities of losing a loved one way too early as she dedicates the record to her late sister, while the time since has proved just as incredible for the New South Wales musician: Sugar (her collaboration with Peking Duk), Adolescent and Later Flight ensuring that her name doesn't leave the Australian pop canon even while she works on her next greater project.
Speaking of, last week came with the news that it'll be called Stranger Heart, a seven-track EP set to arrive via I OH YOU on Valentine's Day next year (February 14th). Following on from Later Flight, its next tease - Closer - was also unveiled, and with it, another sign that Jack River's forthcoming EP is sure to be an early highlight of the year. It's a subtle piano ballad that's rich on emotion, dialing back the maximalist euphoria of her past work for something that's still uplifting, albeit a little more gentle in doing so. "I wanted it to sound and feel like the rush of emotions that make you want to be closer and closer to someone," she says.
Woodes - Canada feat. LANKS
Last but certainly not least comes Woodes, who with a smattering of singles released since her debut solo EP Golden Hour last year, is gradually forming a story that'll become her debut album - expected sometime next year. After How Long I'd Wait and the disco-infused, Touch Sensitive-assisted How Long I'd Wait earlier this year, she last week shared two new tastes from the record, with This Is My Year and the LANKS-featuring Canada reflecting on the Melbourne-via-Townsville musician's experiences with Christmas and the holiday season - timely, considering its arrival close to the holiday season.
They're both spectacular, but there's something really wonderful in the second track Canada and the sense of warmth it excludes. Featuring good friend and close collaborator LANKS, the track is a dizzying combination of synth and swelling drums that wrap their imagined arms around you for a moment of comfort, telling a story of reflection that feels all too familiar in the family-built Christmas season. "Each year, with passing and reflection, Christmas holds a sadness and a beautiful light. I was thinking a lot about patterns in family when I wrote Canada," she says.