This Week's Must-Listen Singles: Jack River, Ngaiire, King Princess + more
Plus, brilliant tracks from George Maple and Angie McMahon.
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 Jack River, Ngaiire, George Maple and more. Check out Pilerats' homepage for more brilliant music and news, or subscribe to our Spotify Office Playlist for easy listening.
Jack River - Later Flight
At this point, Jack River has to be amongst the most-treasured of Australia's songwriting future. Her debut album, 2018's Sugar Mountain, is top to bottom brilliance marked by devastating loss and aching, contrasted by soaring melodies and euphoric choruses amongst the year's most catchy, while the time since has seen her become an in-demand collaborator - assisting Peking Duk with their hook-centred Sugar - as she deepens her discography with Adolescent, her first single since Sugar Mountain last year.
Now, as our eyes set on a new decade, Jack River isn't slowing down. Later Flight is a look into the future for Jack River (in contrast to Sugar Mountain, which largely reflected in the past), finding a middle ground between the hook-ridden indie of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and the newfound explosion of brilliant, Australian pop; marked with a distinct local touch that somehow, elevates it to an entirely different level. "Later Flight is a song about freedom," she says on the track. "I’ve always danced around writing an honest love song, but Later Flight is a direct and candid world of big feels, big highs and big hopes."
Ngaiire - Shiver
In the realm of big Australian comebacks, Ngaiire is one we weren't quite expecting to see arrive this week. The Sydney-via-Papua New Guinean musician has been quiet on the music front since her defining 2016 record Blastoma, refining her craft and as it appears, building work which eclipses her discography thus far; a difficult feat, considering the brilliant artistry of her second album and her constant evolution as a musician amongst Australia's best.
Her new single, Shiver, almost feels like a work of art you'd expect from a complex artist akin to Solange and Sampa The Great. Rich with her Papua New Guinean roots, it contrasts light and dark - life and death, she says - through haunting rhythms and aptly-shivering melodies that intertwine itself with Ngaiire's vocal, which after three years of quietness, is a welcome return. She has a pair of east-coast shows in November to welcome her live return as well, but in the meantime, Shiver is an incredible display from one of Australia's most enchanting artists.
King Princess - Hit The Back
As she moves towards the release of what's bound to be one of the year's best debut albums, King Princess is proving that she's an act here to stay. Once a stan-driven moment of virality, the musician is now one of indie-pop's most masterful musicians, whether it be evident on her rich debut EP Make The Bed last year, or the plethora of work she's put out since: collaborations with Mark Ronson, remixes for Perfume Genius, and a string of excellent singles - Cheap Queen, Useless Phrases, Prophet and Ain't Together - included within that.
Her latest single, Hit The Back, is a seductive queer anthem - "the anthem for bottoms everywhere," she described it on social media as she teased its release - and it's another slice of King Princess' brilliance, balancing her expert songwriting with off-kilter lyricism that's become an attraction of King Princess over the last few years: "And I need you to be my motor/And run me ’til I can’t go further," she sings in its first verse. "Ain’t I the best you had?" Cheap Queen is out October 25th.
George Maple - Superhuman
After the release of her long-winding, sound-rich debut album Lover, it kind of felt like George Maple had explored all her facets as a musician. Arriving three years since her dizzying welcome to Australian pop, the record's long duration meant that George Maple was able to flesh out a collection of sounds - her anthemic pop side; her hip-hop roots; tender ballads and the list goes on - so much so that her future felt uncertain - we knew that she would continue to grow and mould into an Australian pop force, but we weren't exactly sure what sounds she'd use to do that (which, to be honest, is a good thing - it keeps us on our toes).
As it turns out, she's going for the empowering pop route, as displayed through two singles thus far which pair George Maple's catchy hooks and shimmering soundscapes with powerful, commanding lyricism: Champion and Magic Woman. Her latest single, Superhuman, is another. It's infectious and addictive, taking a southern US house beat and flipping it on its head for a punchy affair that reinforces Maple's uplifting cry; this time, about letting your flag fly and being yourself: "This song is basically a reflection of where I'm at in my life at the moment," she says. "It's about new romance and being open to new opportunities. Let your super-freak flag fly."
Angie McMahon - Take It With Me
If there's one thing we've learnt from 2019, it's that Angie McMahon is capable of making us cry - again, and again, and again. Her debut album, this year's Salt, is rich with potent emotion and masterful songwriting that amplifies it; tender, guitar-backed ballads brimming with this powerful punch - And I Am A Woman, for example, is one of this year's most powerful tracks to-date - that sets the album apart from the rest, encompassing McMahon's growth through dizzying singles over the last two years while also looking forward.
Her latest release, Take It With Me, isn't exactly a new single. It's her first piece of work since Salt, but it's a cover of Tom Waits' single of the same name, to be released as a part of a greater package that features female musicians - Corinne Bailey Rae another act on the compilation - covering long-time Tom Waits favourites. Angie's cover of Take It With Me, as expected from a songwriter like McMahon, is lush with this longing emotion that's come to define her debut album, pinpointing the moments of richness in the original and fleshing them out into a slow-burning work of art.