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February 2, 2023

Adelaide’s best new music

We've rounded up Adelaide's best new music for December and January, including WaiKid, Glowing, Jamie Lena and more.

  • Words: Angela Skujins and Johnny von Einem
  • Graphic: Tom Aldahn

WaiKid — ‘Down Low’

It’s the cocktail of warbling steel drums, falsetto vocals and lascivious lyrics that makes ‘Down Low’ by WaiKid a heater. The Sierra Leone-born musician WaiKid, real name Francis Murana Wai, may be one of the best musicians making Afro-pop and RnB in metropolitan Adelaide right now, and seems to be unstoppable. Seven months ago, WaiKid released ‘Be Your Man’, which had a Drake kind of romanticism to it. (The photo for the song literally has him holding a massive toy rabbit). This new work is less tender and more upfront — drop your body on the floor and let me explode”, he purrs in the chorus, and from this new single, we get a feeling WaiKid probably gets what he wants. (AS)


Listen to this playlist on Spotify or Apple Music.

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

Instant Classic & Waikid — Hibachi

This song is straight-up hip hop, and combines the rappers’ do it for my city” ethos with a sense of competitive, never lose showmanship. Over a bed of fat beats and crisp drum claps, an (un)holy trinity of rappers — Harry Sharma, WaiKid and Instant Classic — lend their vocals to their war cry for the postcode 5000. (AS)

Laitsi — 21 (remix) ft. Truelove

Laitsi (pronounced light-see) just released a boisterous party anthem, ‘21’ the remix. Possibly an ode to hitting another milestone, or simply gassing himself up about having $21,000 in the bank — there are bars referencing both – we get the idea that this young rapper is on the cusp of getting into his flow. With a video clip filmed at the foreshore on a janky handheld camera, aesthetically riffing on videos uploaded to WorldstarHipHop, it rings with rawness. We also prefer the remix to the original, which among other differences has the updated version replacing the lyric “bitch’ with “pretty women”. (AS)

Estée — Moonbeam

‘Moonbeam’ has big Ariana Grande energy. On this clear pop bop, the Filipino-Chinese but Adelaide-based musician’s vocals effortlessly slip between twinkling vocal harmonies, synthesised smacks and textural interest that would look like a constellation when laid out visually. Estée (real name Estee Evangeline) released another single ‘twenty eight’ a year before in December 2021 – maybe this time of the year has some kind of solar power — but this new work shows a little more bravado by not hiding behind lo-fi production. We’re here for it. (AS)

Jamie Lena — ‘Love in Flowers’

A slow and soulful waltz, Janie Lena’s voice in ‘Love in Flowers’ feels like a tight embrace with someone you love, head buried gently in their chest. (JVE)

Southpaw — ‘GameBoy’

Southpaw is prolific. She first teased In Good Company, the album this single will appear on, by releasing an entire other album, Field Notes – ostensibly filled with B-sides that weren’t quite up to snuff for the later release. You could’ve fooled me. That said, ‘GameBoy’ is a beautiful and quietly menacing ode to calling out an emotionally distant lover, detaching rather than romanticising their actions: “Play me like a game, boy / Now you’re just a lame boy to me”. (JVE)

Junk Harmony — ‘Say It All’

This song sounds a little different to the usual Junk Harmony we’ve got to know over these couple of months. Junk Harmony — led by band brainchild Tom Matheson with a changing carousel of supporting musicians — released the eight-track EP Old Chords in September, which reached its high points with jangly, lo-fi songs such as ‘Tunnel Vision’ and ‘Pony’. This new song ‘Say It All’, released quietly in December, is just as weird and wonderful, but sounds slightly pitch-shifted, fuller and slower. Near the end, too, it almost goes into Twin Peaks territory with vocals venturing into almost a reversed, chipmunk fever dream. A wonderful array of samples, guitar licks and strange sounds. (AS)

Champ — ‘The Grind’

You don’t need much to make an old grunge head like me happy. A four-chord riff, some fuzzy distortion, lyrics in lament of the grind and a singer willing to shred their vocal cords for my enjoyment. (JVE)

Glowing — ‘Coming Home’

Under threat of implied violence from a masked and North-Faced maroon Toyota driver, vocalist Finn Cameron sings about being pulled out of a depressive mood by the good people around you. Fans of Colourblind (myself included) will be familiar with Finn’s tendency for emotional exposure, but in Glowing it’s wrapped up in a more conventional record – driving rhythm, crunchy guitars and, as a Triple J Unearthed reviewer has pointed out, a well-employed cello. By the time of the final chorus, when Finn is pushing his voice to its limit, you’ll be ready to yell along with him. (JVE)

The Empty Threats — ‘Boys in the Gutter’

‘Boys in the Gutter’ sees The Empty Threats brush off their stadium rock instincts for post-punk grime. Inspired by the right-wing movement in the States against women’s right to abortion, the song’s message is clear: “If it’s not your body then it’s not your rights… So fuck off”. Shouts also to the team behind the video, which has moments of stunning and sometimes horrifying imagery. (JVE)

Farhan Shah — ‘Banjaray’

If all this very self-serious and emotional Adelaide music is getting you down, pop on some Farhan Shah. You’ll never not feel better after some Fanrah Shah. Banjaray is a huge collaboration project, featuring vocals from Farhan and local folk artist Naomi Keyte, alongside musicians Alain Vãlodze, Lazaro Numa, Ravi Madhawan Dholak, Satomi Ohnishi and Ajay Harry. Farhan was the 2020 winner of the SAM Awards’ UNESCO Best International Collaboration Award, and he seems intent on taking it out again. (JVE)

DJ Chemtrails — ‘3/4’

The first release from new Adelaide-based record label Slip System comes from bedroom producer DJ Chemtrails. ‘3/4’ is an eight-minute, meditative trancey house track, and the opener of the artist’s two-track EP Spare Time – so named for the way Chemtrails created the work. As per Slip System’s explanation of the release on Instagram, ‘3/4’ will keep dance floors moving “from sunrise to dusk”. (JVE)


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