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December 20, 2021

Adelaide’s best music releases of 2021

We’ve been rounding up our favourite singles from Adelaide artists for the last five months. These are our absolute favourites.

Angela Skujins’ picks:

Tkay Maidza — ‘So Cold’


Brimming in downtempo, bubbly beats, ‘So Cold’ is a billet-doux penned by Tkay Maida about not falling in love, and also a simultaneous musical representation of her effortless meteoric rise and how much the world has fallen head over heels for her. As my editor presciently put it back in July, Tkay will take over the world. And she has.

Pinkish Blu — ‘Old Blue’


As quickly as Pinkish Blu burst onto the scene, their bubble burst. The four-piece indie-pop band announced via Instagram in October that three years after forming they would break up. ‘Old Blue’ is everything the band was – an emotional, sweet narrative, distilling the zeitgeist of young people swimming against 2021’s tumultuous tide.

Strict Face — ‘Tasteflash’


It’s no secret. We at CityMag are Strict Face stans. When we heard ‘Tasteflash’ for the first time, it immediately sliced through our consciousness with its razor-sharp licks and samples. Were we in outer space, partying with Bjork? No. We’re in Adelaide! (And later at a rave under a tunnel where this song was played on blast.) Bring the ferocity this track is saturated in into 2022 and you’ll conquer anything.

Frankie Sunwagon — ‘Fall’


As our radios and music streams are increasingly saturated in electronic music, grunge (affectionally known as guitar music) offers a welcome break. Local garage-rock four-piece Frankie Sunwagon are at the forefront of this renaissance, with this moody, abundant and angsty single a reminder of why we love the ‘90s in the first place.

Jackulson — ‘Tracy Hill’


‘Tracy Hill’ is hard to write about. It’s a concoction of different textures, dynamics and colours, and smacks with alt-rock and post-punk sounds. This is precisely what makes it interesting. So rather than attempt to write poorly about what makes this single so intriguing, give it a listen.

SO.Crates — ‘Beaut-i-full World’


South Australia is lucky to have Cazeaux O.S.L.O. In September we highly rated the song he and Melbourne producer Skomes released under their hip-hop moniker, SO.Crates. Three months later, ‘Beaut-i-full World’ still slaps. There’s something about the refrain ‘The world is on fire’ we can’t get out of our heads. Maybe it’s this era of the Anthropocene we’re living through. Or maybe it’s just a contagious earworm. Nonetheless, we’re still obsessing over it. To quote the duo, “press play or get out the way”. Damn!

Wanderers — ‘Nothing in This World’


Rooted to an infectious bassline and four-to-the-floor beat, ‘Nothing in this World’ is a danceable spin on all the things that get you off – uppers, downers and emotions that make life blurry. Despite the heavy subject matter, you can’t resist the urge to boogie to this mezze platter of funk, disco and neo-soul flavours.

Ricky Albeck and the Belair Line Band — ‘Against the Wall’


This is the third time I’ve written about how much I love the first single off Ricky Albeck and the Belair Line Band’s new EP. Rather than risk repeating ourselves, just treat yourself to this glistening alt-country song by one of Adelaide’s best – and most gloriously mulleted – musicians. It will put you against the wall and keep you there.

Ricky Albeck and the Belair Line Band — ‘That’s How I Wanna Be’


Ok. I know. This is now the fourth time I’m declaring my love for Ricky Albeck and the Belair Line Band’s music. This time, however, it’s for the swooning, slow-moving ballad ‘That’s How I Wanna Be’, which features some of the best lyricism this side of the city has seen in a long time. I’ll give you five dollars if you somehow manage not to get emotional when the debonair musician croons ‘I won’t cry until I hit the ground’.

Electric Fields — ‘Gold Energy’


We don’t know what Zaachariaha Fielding has done, but the Mimili-born musician – and visual artist – sounds like Rihanna on ‘Gold Energy’ and we are infatuated. But something that Zaachariaha and producer Michael Ross achieve brilliantly, over a catchy riff, is something even Queen Rhi can’t achieve. They’re tapping into 60,000 years of continuous living Aboriginal culture, with Zaachariaha singing in both English and Aṉangu. Not only do they walk both worlds, but they do it impressively well.


Johnny von Einem’s picks:

Motez feat. Lauran L’Aimant — ‘Gone’


After damn near two years without a nightclub dance floor to move upon, this clubby track from Motez was quite the tease. It is just one element of an incredible EP released by the musician this year, titled ReSet. Keep it on repeat this summer.

St Jacques — ‘Another Sense’


Sometimes you need a song to take you onto the grass, sitting in dappled light on a warm afternoon, enjoying the luxury of time spent daydreaming and letting the clock tick as it may. From its breathy lyricism to twee xylophone notes, St Jacques will take you far away from the city bustle.

Surahn — ‘Weather Man’


Luscious ‘60s-style production and beautiful harmonies, there is so much to dive into in ‘Weather Man’. Pop in year headphones, head to the beach and soundtrack your next sunset with Surahn.

Haliday — ‘Phase Me’


There are a lot of things best left in the 1990s – American Pie-style gross-out films, for example (no matter how much the TV streaming algorithms might try to convince you they’re worth revisiting). The pop-punk ferocity Haliday brings to this track, though, is very welcome. Play it loud.

Jess Johns — ‘Flicker (Burn)’


The combination of dark country waltz and Jess John’s soaring sadness is unmatched anywhere else in Adelaide’s music scene. ‘Flicker (Burn)’, to CityMag’s ears, is the sound of holding a loved one close you know you’re very soon going to have to let go of forever.

Tiles — ‘Sleep In’


If you’re looking for a beautiful pool of sparkly production to jump into, rack up ‘Sleep In’ and let Katie Pomery and Matt Schultz’s dreamy collaboration wash over you.

Groovy Daughter — ‘I Don’t Care’


Over understated production, Groovy Daughter (aka Nicole Carr) delivers a searing rebuke to a former love – one lost, seemingly, for the better.

Naomi Keyte — ‘Greenhill’


There is no better feeling that travelling up or down Greenhill Road, the portion beyond Hallett Road, leading into the Adelaide Hills. You’re either on your way to a nice time, or returning home having spent an evening submerged in the Hills environment. Pair this experience with Naomi Keyte’s ode to this exact feeling.

Elsy Wameyo — ‘Nilotic’


We didn’t make enough noise about this at the time – Elsy Wameyo’s recent single ‘Nilotic’, was produced by the artist herself. This makes for an additional layer of Elsy debuting a voice, tone and cadence through the single, which we hope we can expect to hear more of soon. It’s exciting time to be an Elsy Wameyo fan.

Katie Aspel — ‘Chewing Gum’


What a debut from Katie Aspel! Tight production referencing ‘90s-era bubble-gum pop and contemporary R&B, with the singer bringing a calm assurance to a song about finding the self-confidence to leave a toxic relationship.


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