New music round-up (for w/e 21 June 2024)

Our selection of the best new music across a range of genres from the week ending 21 June 2024.

Lake Street Dive have pushed the possibilities of pop music as a unifying force, not only through their eclectic sound—a boldly original cross-pollination of soul, folk, jazz, classic pop, and more—the five-piece’s all-embracing ethos has also made them a beloved live band known for building a potent connection among every crowd. In the making of their new album Good Together, vocalist Rachael Price, bassist/background vocalist Bridget Kearney, drummer/background vocalist Mike Calabrese, keyboardist/vocalist Akie Bermiss, and guitarist/background vocalist James Cornelison reinforced the deep sense of purpose behind their output, often turning their attention to the many factors driving us apart today (e.g., unchecked technological growth, culturally imposed isolation, the cult of relentless self-optimization). Born from a mindset they refer to as “joyful rebellion,” Good Together arrives as a body of work both gloriously defiant and primed to inspire unbridled dancing and ecstatic singing-along.

The Healer is the new full length from SUMAC – consisting of guitarist/vocalist Aaron Turner, bassist Brian Cook and drummer Nick Yacyshyn. On this record, the group deepens its multi-faceted exploration into the parallel experiences of creation and destruction. Over the course of 4 tracks in 76 minutes, SUMAC presents a sequence of shifting movements which undergo a constant process of expansion, contraction, corruption and regrowth.

Three substantial sets of variations – by Glazunov, Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov – plus a delightful amuse-bouche from John Field, who settled in St Petersburg in the early years of the nineteenth century, make up Piers Lane’s attractive and virtuosic programme, Russian Variations. It’s out now on the Proper Music label.

Continuing their winding musical journey, Restless Leg offer another twist of sparky indie pop on their fourth album Dance Around My Head. It walks the line between light and shade, fast and slow, loud and soft with the confidence of a band at the height of its powers and which comes from years of friendship and fun making music together. Produced by Jamie Hutchings (of Bluebottle Kiss and Infinity Broke fame), Dance Around My Head was recorded in late 2023 at The Pet Food Factory, Marrickville by Jason Whalley of Frenzal Rhomb and at Tempe River Studio, Marrickville with longtime friend and engineer Tim Kevin.

Celebrating the life and resilience of his 88-year-old mother, composer Dr. Anthony Branker’s 10th Origin release is a gift to Joan Branker who has been mightily challenged by the ongoing cognitive decline of dementia. Conceptualized after witnessing how her face would brighten and her body would start to move when listening to his earlier music, he was driven to re-imagine 11 of these compositions, along with “If,” written by his daughter at 11, for his brilliant ensemble, Imagine. Saxophonist Donny McCaslin, trumpeter Philip Dizack, pianist Fabian Almazan, bassist Linda May Han Oh, drummer Rudy Royston, guitarist Pete McCann, and vocalist Aubrey Johnson, each bring inspired musicianship and deep soul to the lyrical flow, ingenious rhythmic interplay, and spirited performances that have come to define Branker’s projects.

The Aerial Maps have released their new album, Our Sunburnt Dream. This is the fourth from the Sydney band, bringing together their unique blend of song and storytelling in a widescreen collection of songs recorded at Sydney’s Oceanic Studios. Every Aerial Maps album has a concept underpinning it – their first In The Blinding Sunlight (2008) was about memory and a sense of nostalgia, the second The Sunset Park (2011) was a “novel in song” about crossing Australia, the third, Intimate Hinterland (2021), the intimate connection of people with the Australian landscape. Our Sunburnt Dream is a combination of all these ideas brought together, a dreamlike vision in which personal experiences and more fictional stories are presented as a widescreen collection, all infused with the bright sunlight of Australia. .

Blending wistful folk, alt-country rhythms and mellow twang, The Wicked Messenger is a collaboration of Meanjin/Brisbane musicians – Jimi Beavis (The Holy Rollercoasters, Jimi Beavis) and Janey McEniery (The Good Ship, Doch), who draw on a cast of local musicians to bring their songs to life in the studio and on stage. Melody is a key to the songs on their new album, Corner of Hampstead & Dornoch. It was something that Jimi consciously focused on during the songwriting, and coupled with concurrent listening habits that included Richmond Fontaine, Teenage Fanclub, The Velvet Underground and Belle & Sebastian, the songs are bursting with melodic musings that range from reflective and melancholic to catchy and optimistic.

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