This week's must-listen singles: Cry Club, Ngaiire, REMI + more
Plus, new singles from Kota Banks, Maddy Jane and Georgia Maq.
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 Cry Club, Kota Banks, REMI and more. Check out Pilerats' homepage for more brilliant music and news, or subscribe to our Spotify Office Playlist for easy listening.
Cry Club - Obvious
If you were to tell us last year - when we placed Cry Club on our ones to watch in 2019 list - that the Melbourne-via-Wollongong two-piece would become a duo at the forefront of Australia's next-generation musically, we would've believed you but we definitely would've been surprised. Over the last two years, the pairing have showcased the ability to take every sound - from the gritty pop-punk of Walk Away the angry and anthemic brat-pop of tracks like DTFM and Robert Smith - and twist it into something captivatingly remarkable and theatrical, finding their own lane and playing around within it in the process.
2020 is gearing up to be their biggest year yet, and if the string of singles that brought them to this point didn't convince you of that, then maybe their new one Obvious has a shot. It's a track that sits somewhere in between the glitzy pop of tracks like Two Hearts and the brashness of Robert Smith, positioning these dramatised cut-through vocals - Heather Riley is, as usual, on top of their game here - alongside a flurry of instrumental layers that span from softly-strung together shoegaze guitars to crunchy percussion, with a whole lot more in between. Stay tuned on more to come though, because Obvious is just the start.
Ngaiire - Boom
One of last year's most exciting returns came from Ngaiire, who after three years of musical quietness in the space since their incredible, career-defining second album Blastoma, made a comeback with Shiver. It was a track that reminds you why Ngaiire is such a rich, potent treasure to Australian songwriting, with the Papua New Guinea-born musician creating an indulgent return that showcases her strengths in high-tier pop songwriting and Ngaiire's distinct spin on that, lush with the almost-inexplainable qualities that make Ngaiire's music such a step up from those that surround her.
Her second single since Blastoma and her first for 2020, Boom, is one that solidifies this into place. It's ethereal yet incredibly rich and decadent; the now-Sydney-based musician's vocals in the centre spotlight once again as a howling opening makes way for a soft combination of synth, percussion and sampling underneath. Its instrumental is intricate to the point where it feels like everything's been placed perfectly where it needs to be - any more, and the song would shift off-balance - and Ngaiire's vocal complements this perfectly. With plenty more to come, Ngaiire's reckoning as Australia's most treasured musician is primed to return again in 2020.
REMI - Elevate
As we were reminded at the tail-end of last year, REMI's imprint in Australian hip-hop hasn't been lost despite a few years of one-off, stand-alone singles - the thando-featuring My People and last year's 5 A.M. two highlights of them - with his trademark combination of old-school rap, soulful funk and shimmering R&B finding its way through many of Australian hip-hop's next generation. In saying that, it's been great to have REMI at his strongest back in the foreground once again, with last year's double-punch of 5 A.M. and Brain seemingly preluding the release of a returning record for REMI expected sometime this year.
Now, we have confirmation. Armed with Sensible J's consistently brilliant productions, the next REMI album Fried will see its release on Friday, April 24. With it, is bound to be more tracks that solidify REMI's place as one of the country's best names in hip-hop, and his new two-side release Elevate / Get It Right is a release that basically confirms that for us. The first track, Elevate, is personally the strongest of the two, with REMI throwing it back a touch to the slick, early funk sounds that underlay his swerving vocal above - which yes, is as strong as ever.
Kota Banks - Italiana
If Kota Banks' ambitious cover of SICKO MODE on triple j's Like A Version segment wasn't enough to convince you that the pop forward-thinker is one of the genre's most daring names, then Italiana might be the track that does it. Since her early break-out back with 2017's glam-pop banger Holiday, Kota Banks has consistently proved herself as a force in the left-field of Australia's pop stage, whether it be teaming up with Swick for a ten-track collection of tracks that showcase her club-centric experimentalism within pop, or everything she's done since - there's been no stopping Kota Banks.
Italiana, her new single, takes things to the next level. It's a daring, left-field swipe at Australia's pop sphere that plays with Banks' Italian heritage - hence the name, and lyrics such as "Shut up and give me pasta / Penne penne lasagna / Side of focaccia," which is honestly the best chorus I've heard in years - and doubles down on her creative approach to pop. Italiana has it all: pasta name-drops, theatrical break-downs, playful drops and more drama than you can poke a stick at. There's no-one doing it like Kota after all.
Georgia Maq - Cold Summer
One of last year's best albums came from Georgia Maq, who aside from releasing a debut solo EP back in 2015, is more recognisable for leading Camp Cope - the Australian indie duo who have blossomed to become one of the country's most incredible and important groups in the last decade, whose work has become somewhat synonymous with a growing representation of females, non-binary and trans musicians in the Australian music industry, particularly on stage. A large part of the band's dominance is thanks to Georgia's potent songwriting, and that found itself in the spotlight on her Pleaser album last year, albeit in a more electronic-centric spotlight.
Her new single Cold Summer distances itself from the intoxicating, dance-aligned trance of her debut solo record, placing the emphasis back on the guitar as she shares a powerful, breath-taking new ballad that hits incredibly hard on the heartstrings. Cold Summer is a song that encapsulates Georgia Maq's strengths in simplistic, but incredibly effective songwriting. There's a certain power in having your heart on your sleeve musically, and despite the shit this can bring in the public eye - something Georgia knows all about - it's so powerful to see it continue to blosom; nothing should be holding her back.
Maddy Jane - Perfection's a Thing and You're It
Speaking of incredibly powerful women in Australian indie-rock, it'd be a disservice to not mention Maddy Jane, who also shared new music this week. Over the last five years, the Tasmanian musician has consistently proved her place in the Australian indie-rock elite, with her five-track 2018 EP Not Human At All, for example, showcasing the charm of Maddy Jane's work and the many forms it can take - from subtle, stripped-back tracks that venture near ballad territory, to gritty and anthemic alt-rock that punches with a certain ferocity that has become distinct to Maddy Jane, and has stuck with her over the years.
Perfection's a Thing and You're It continues a string of singles shared last year, showcasing the ruckus-inducing anthems that Maddy Jane has come to make hers over the years, and will no doubt continue to make across 2020 - the announcement of her forthcoming debut album, Not All Bad Or Good, arriving on May 1st to prove this. Perfection... is a track that does its job perfectly, placing Maddy Jane's guitar-backed songwriting in the spotlight and places her forthcoming album as one of the year's most anticipated.