New music round-up

Our selection of the best new music across a range of genres from the week ending 22 January 2021.

Wide, Wide River is the new album from James Yorkston in collaboration with The Second Hand Orchestra. James writes “This beautiful album I made with The Second Hand Orchestra, a Swedish band ran by Karl-Jonas, a man I have known for a few years now. The Second Hand Orchestra hadn’t heard any of these songs before the sessions. I flew to Sweden and said my hellos, then we all sat round and set up our instruments. I would run through a song, once, perhaps twice, and simply encourage the musicians to react to what they were hearing. The engineer would press record and – voila – we’d have a song down. This here album is the result of eight such castings of the net. We all love it – it was a joy to make and is fresh, spontaneous, and full of life.”


Australian Romantic & Classical Orchestra – Australia’s champion of historically informed performance – returns to the live concert stage in February with the first of its 2021 offerings. Illuminate features the music of Bruch and Tchaikovsky and welcomes back soprano Jacqueline Porter to perform Britten’s remarkable song cycle Les Illuminations, with text by French poet Arthur Rimbaud. The February concerts also feature the first of the year’s popular Voyage of Musical Discovery education series – equal part concert and demonstration – this time focusing on ‘motivic development’. Australia’s consummate saxophone virtuoso Nick Russoniello features with Suite for Saxophones & Loop Station.

Illuminate performances

Tuesday 16 February | 6.30pm | The Hills Grammar School | 43 Kenthurst Road, Kenthurst
Thursday 18 February | 7.30pm | Newcastle City Hall | 290 King Street, Newcastle
Friday 19 February | 7.00pm | City Recital Hall | 2 Angel Place, Sydney
Monday 22 February | 7.30pm | Melbourne Recital Centre | 31 Sturt Street, Southbank

Voyage of Musical Discovery “Motivic Development”

Wednesday 17 February | 6.30pm | City Recital Hall | 2 Angel Place, Sydney


Two years removed from Roach Going Down (2018), Palberta are returning to deliver their fifth album, Palberta5000. This collection of adventurous, hyper-melodic songs will excite their devoted following while welcoming new fans along for the ride. While long heralded as one of the most original and idiosyncratic bands in the East Coast DIY scene, on Palberta5000, Ani Ivry-Block, Lily Konigsberg, and Nina Ryser max out traditional pop forms—creating hits that catch in listeners’ brains while blowing the genre out into lush, kinetic extensions that morph into absurdist outros and haptic breakdowns—to create their own hardcore style of popular music. In doing so, they have made their most accessible album by a far measure—one that is bursting at the seams with vocal hooks and exuberant playing.


Welcome To The Hills is Yussef Dayes’ new live experience LP. The British drummer is accompanied by Rocco Palladino (bass) and Charlie Stacey (keys/synthesis) in a work recorded in concert. Welcome To The Hills was recorded in Copenhagen in 2019, in what was to be the trio’s final performance: “There was something special about this performance … The raw energy, focus, determination & freedom to take our music to the next level. It feels more right than ever to release this live recording, as there have been no shows this year … So we want to give you, the listener, the chance to participate and enter the Yussef Dayes trio live experience.” explains the group. In this 12-track project (soon to be available on vinyl), Yussef Dayes declares: “These songs are the spirituals I swam with against the waves.”


Buildings burning in every direction; macabre unknowns in your friendly neighbor’s basement; undecided voters sharpening their pencils: you could call Kiwi Jr’s Cooler Returns “timely.” But what year is it, again? On their sophomoric smash-up released world-wide by Sub Pop Records, Kiwi Jr cycle through the recent zigs & looming zags of the new decade, squinting anew at New Year’s parties forgotten and under-investigated small town diner fires, piecing together low-stakes conspiracy theories on what’s coming down the pike in 2021. Put together like a thousand-piece puzzle, assembled in flow state through the first dull stretch of quarantine, sanitized singer shuffling to sanitized studio by streetcar, masked like it’s the kind of work where getting recognized means getting killed, Cooler Returns materializes as a sprawling survey from the first few bites of the terrible twenties, an investigative exposé of recent history buried under the headlines & ancient kings buried under parking lots.


The Luxurious Faux Furs are an enigmatic rock duo based in New Orleans. They are beloved, mistrusted, idolized, ignored, puzzled over, and derided for their conceptual marriage of quasi-European glamour and droning, swampy rock n roll. On their new LP, Like a Real Shadow (Mandinga Records), the pair maintains their garage squall and dives even further into hypnotic blues riffs and throbbing insistent drum pulse—what one listener called the “car with one square wheel” rhythm. Their choice of cover songs—obscure blues and sanctified numbers—show them moving even further from anything like “listener expectations.”

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