THE PAPER KITES
On the Corner Where You Live (Sony/Wonderlick)
The Paper Kites have had more than 250 million streams on Spotify and most folk don’t even know them or that they’re from Melbourne.
Half of those streams come from a beautiful 2010 song called Bloom which, like them, exists under the radar but those who know, know — on a global scale. They’re touring the US before announcing local dates. After 2015’s ARIA Top 10 twelvefour, they’ve released two albums this year. On the Corner Where You Live, their fourth album, is the companion to On the Train Ride Home. They’re linked by people watching lyrics but Train was mellow; Corner is about mood.
Mistakenly called a folk band, this establishes their lush pop sound that has no concern for what’s charting today.
Scene-setting opener A Gathering On 57th (the album was written in New York) is full of plaintive piano, sirens and jazzy Sinatra-era saxophone.
The cinematic Give Me Your Fire, Give Me Your Rain is Nick Drake meets The Sundays
Deep Burn Blue taps into Scottish act The Blue Nile, whose 1989 classic The Downtown Lights is even namechecked in the lyrics. That mix of synths, guitar and harmonies has become timeless for a reason. See also the excellent When It Hurts You.
Sam Bentley handles most vocals but bandmate Christina Lacy sings slow burner Mess We Made and when they team up (like Red Light) it’s magic.
Flashes is minimal sound, maximum impact, On the Corner Where You Live is fast but still soft. Does It Ever Cross Your Mind is just a voice, a piano and a major emotion.
It’s not full of radio hits. Some people will find it dull, but the Kites are now transmitting to a frequency of people, worldwide, who are about to fall in love with this album./ CAMERON ADAMS
Try this if you like: The Blue Nile, The Sundays
CASH SAVAGE & THE LAST DRINKS
Good Citizens (Mistletone/Inertia)
Cash Savage is feelin’ kinda free. Her last record, One Of Us, was shrouded in tragedy, this time she’s preaching empathy with the wind at her back, mad as hell and she’s not gonna take it anymore. Savage savages the dumbed-down pack mentality of mainstream Australia on Pack Animals, Sunday resurrects a love story on an anguished violin, the title track lampoons people swearing at MasterChef on the TV in the ‘burbs./MIKEY CAHILL
Try this if you like: Nick Cave, Tim Buckley
No One Defeats Us (EMI)
THESE are the things that Dreams are made of — two Australian music icons who will happily sabotage the easy option rather than rely on selling themselves on what they’ve done before.
Daniel Johns outgrew rock decades ago and Luke Steele has always walked on the wilder side. Here they are together in (very) electric Dreams. It’s not a huge leap from Steele’s work with Empire Of the Sun —
but taken somewhere a little more twisted.
Single and rally cry No One Defeats Us was the perfect introduction — divisive and distinctive. Equal parts The Clash and LCD Soundystem. Total effs given: zero.
Numbers On the Board is full of Johns’ falsetto robotic vocals and cash register rings.
Movies, about watching films, throws in percolating synths with a solo that sounds like it was played on video game Guitar Hero.
Young Minds is Empire Of the Sun on Quaaludes — blunted beats with the pair sharing vocal duties, Dreams is straight ahead Empire Of the Sun — sun-kissed electro pop with ’80s guitars and synths.
California pinpoints one of their influences — Daft Punk — with digital funk grooves and cut up autotuned vocals.
Odd Party indeed sounds like an odd party at Jabba the Hutt’s hut, while anyone triggered by Daniel Johns’ electronically altered vocals should avoid Always. It’s one of the album’s best moments, but he sings pretty much gibberish over mystic Frankie Goes To Hollywood meets Mike Oldfield electro-folk vibes.
For all the experimentation, the pair are bonded by their love of a great pop song. And if there’s going to be a commercial hit, here it’s Love To Live. And
if it doesn’t connect with the masses, they’ll just Dream it all up all over again./CAMERON ADAMS
Try this if you like: LCD Soundsytem, Kraftwerk
Clare Bowen (BMG)
Australian singer Clare Bowen hit big via US country music drama Nashville. She’s sold out global tours playing songs from the TV show and now finally releases her own record. It’s modern country, but defies pigeonholing. Let It Rain is Dolly Parton gone blues, Tide Rolls In sounds like Mumford & Sons covering Proud Mary and Lijah and the Shadow is like Radiohead transplanted to Nashville. Best is Doors & Corridors, which recalls the haunting beauty of Springsteen’s I’m on Fire./ CAMERON ADAMS
Try this if you like: Etta James, Loretta Lynn
THE GOON SAX
We’re Not Talking (Chapter Music)
Loving the trajectory of this literate Brisbane indie-pop trio. “I’ve got issues I don’t wanna be seen with,” sings James Harrison on Love Lost, conjuring There She Goes. Main singer Louis Forster recites his diary entries on Make Time 4 Love, We Can’t Win and Get Out. Losing Myself mixes blunted dub with a down-in-the-doldrums drum-machine as the three sing sweetly about low bank accounts/self esteem. All 12 songs earn their place here. The Jangle Giants!/MIKEY CAHILL
Try this if you like: Snout, the Fauves, the Triffids
My Mind Makes Noises (Sony)
Pale Waves, fronted by the gothy Heather Baron-Gracie, are surely the breakthrough band of 2018. They evoke a jangly Paramore while referencing MTV-era synth-rock faves Tears For Fears. This debut (which includes singles There’s a Honey and Television Romance, helmed by Matthew Healy) brings more hooky and heartfelt songs that transcend easy emo tagging. One More Time could be Pale Waves’ biggest anthem yet./CYCLONE WEHNER
Try this if you like: The Naked & the Famous, Taylor Swift