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September 2, 2021

Adelaide’s best new music

We've rounded up Adelaide's best new music for the month of August, including a club drop from Strict Face, the debut solo single from Pinkish Blu-affiliated Haliday, and some sunny pop from Surahn.

  • Words: Angela Skujins and Johnny von Einem

Haliday — ‘Phase Me’

CityMag is calling it – pop-punk is back. To be honest, it never left our hearts.

We believe it’s once again proliferated because the genre perfectly captures the anger many are feeling right now. Particularly young people. Combine a sulky vocalist, raging about love, school or general life, with a turbo guitar riff, and you’ve got a heated musical moment.

‘Phase Me’ is the only single released by Adelaide-based musician Haliday – real name Sebastian James, of Pinkish Blu – and it totally fits the pop-punk brief.

According to his Triple J Unearthed profile, the charged track, bursting at the seams with big electric guitars and drums, was written in a moment when Sebastian had no clue what he was meant to do in his early twenties “while failing uni, not being able to find work, and having a terrible time with relationships,” he says.

“I knew that my mental health was a complete mess but I wasn’t doing anything to fix it, and was just acting like everything was fine, which frustrated my friends at the time who were only trying to help.”

‘Phase Me’ is a fitting antidote to the frustration experienced by many during the pandemic. (AS)


Listen to this playlist in full on Spotify.

If you’re a South Australian band or musician with a new release, let us know about it.

Koleh — ‘Maze’

‘Maze’, by Borneo-born, Adelaide-based musician Koleh, is South Australia’s answer to ‘Solar Power’ by Lorde.

Koleh – who also performs in local bands Saint Jacques and Bermuda Bay – traded in the electric guitar for the sampe on this song. The result is a breezy blend of indie-pop with a smattering of rainforest samples.

Sonically, it’s a welcome reprieve from the doom and gloom of COVID-19, transporting listeners to a beach only accessible by a small boat, populated by happy inhabitants wearing relaxed expressions and living on rubber time. (AS)


Surahn — ‘Weather Man’

Find ‘Weather Man’ in the Funk section of your local iTunes Store. The song drips with lusty ‘60s folk pop, with the vocal production offering a layer of contemporary crispness. Surahn, who also happens to be a Willunga-based almond farmer, has a history playing live for Empire of the Sun and has a writing credit with Usher. In ‘Weather Man’, he is channelling lazy summer days spent lazing in long grass. (JVE)


Strict Face — ‘Tasteflash’

The only thing missing from this song is a sweaty basement heaving with dancers to experience it from. ‘Tasteflash’ was released midway through August and is the first slice of local beat-maker Strict Face’s upcoming EP, titled Pulsers.

Armed to the teeth with samples, Strict Face – real name Jon Santos – whipped out a Swiss Army Knife of production tools for this Vogue-dance inspired song.

Sharp snares slice through a badgering bass kick, while a weird pinging sound is dropped haphazardly throughout. ‘Tasteflash’ reminds this journalist of all the received text messages that go unnoticed on the dancefloor. (AS)


Frankie Sunwagon — ‘Fall’

Megan Girdler’s bellowing vocals have enough force to bowl you over.

The latest single from new-on-the-scene Adelaide four-piece Frankie Sunwagon is ‘Fall’ and for us, it’s all about Megan’s impressive pipes. The track was released just a few days ago, and is rooted in a stop-start guitar riff coupled with croons about love lost. The alt-rock outfit only has one other song released, so we will be watching this space. (AS)


Contract Love — ‘Should Have Known’

Vocalist Jamilla Xujali takes listeners through the lows and lowers lows of a crumbling relationship. Starting soft and meditative, ‘Should Have Known’ opens with a warning: “I’m gonna ease you into this story, because I’m afraid it paints me in a dark light.” As the sparse production builds, the singer dives into the crushing internal shame of rejection, before trying to pry from their interlocutor a better version of themselves. It’s the familiar dawning of false reality descending upon an abandoned heart: “I don’t know how to be a better version of a shambles that stands for you. I’m desperately trying to be good enough for you.” (JVE)


B.Z.A — ‘Same Road’

I first saw B.Z.A perform at a warehouse rap show in the southern suburbs. It went off. From memory, she delivered a high-octane set riddled in upbeat rap.

The postcode 5000 rapper has dropped a new single titled ‘Same Road’ that’s a smidge different from her usual sound. Although she doesn’t stray too far from the hip-hop narrative of the hard-done hero, B.Z.A – with her big beats and big braids – injects some freshness into the cliché.

The song lyrically traverses the often-rocky path of family issues and self-medication. It’s a touch formulaic, but there’s no denying the satisfaction once the accompanying clip wraps up with a hug. (AS)


Erin Buku and Jonny Faith — ‘Tomorrow’

Adelaide-based vocalist Erin Buku – formerly of hip-hop dance duo Planetself – has teamed up with a UK producer Jonny Faith to release a scintillating neo-soul number titled ‘Tomorrow’.

The song gives off big YOLO vibes, with Erin Buku’s prescient lyrics, such as ‘don’t get stuck waiting for tomorrow / when you might only have today’, serving as a timely reminder for anyone RN. (AS)


Raccoon City — ‘Mortality’

In 2021, it’s easy to feel nostalgic for halcyon days of summer festivals. Although this particular writer has aged out of Warped Tours, Raccoon City has CityMag wanting to be up against the crowd barrier one last time. ‘Mortality’ lays an expansive wall of sound, with huge verses punchy bridges and scream-a-long choruses. The song comes from their sophomore album For Nobody, Nowhere, released in early August. (JVE)


Smudge Stain — ‘Swan Song’

Psych three-piece Smudge Stain’s searching ‘Swan Song’ will take you to the Dark Side of the Moon and back. The song hits the notes of classic head tracks – spacey fuzz and noodling solos – and perhaps only falls short in its vague lyricism. Either way, it’s a trip. (JVE)


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