Keeping up with any kind of news this year can be tough. Even music news is getting stranger and harder to track.
Rather than exhaust yourself trying to swallow an endless stream of push notification updates, MTV Australia have knocked up a bite-sized rundown of the most important happenings in the Aussie music biz this week, and why they matter.
The Avalanches have announced their third album, We Will Always Love You
The Avalanches have officially announced their third album We Will Always Love You, a surprise to fans readying themselves for another 16-year wait. The Melbourne plunderphonics group have drip-released singles with big name features throughout this year, including “Running Red Lights” with Rivers Cuomo, and “Wherever You Go” with Jamie XX, Neneh Cherry, and Vashti Bunyan. They’ve also unveiled the album cover for We Will Always Love You, featuring an ethereal blue image of Ann Druyan – the creative director of the Golden Voyager Project – filtered through a spectrograph, turned into sound, and then back again. According to a typically hippy-ish post from the band, Druyan’s “cosmic love” inspired the music of the forthcoming record. It’s supposed to be up for pre-order from next week – we should also expect a release date and tracklist, with a few New Age-promo stunts.
We Will Always Love You won’t have the same mythical value that Wildflower did, coming 16 years after The Avalanches’ epochal debut Since I Left You. They’re also a very different group these days, with most of the original members gone and a new focus on feature vocalists rather than sample-based soundscapes. Still, it’s likely to sound like nothing else released this year – we could all do with a bit of “cosmic love” at the moment.
Isol-Aid announce Accessible All Areas edition for deaf, disabled musicians
Online music festival Isol-Aid, now in its 26th consecutive week, has announced a very special lineup this weekend spotlighting deaf and disabled musicians from around the world. The livestream event, dubbed Accessible All Areas, was curated by Eliza Hull – musician and disability advocate – with lyrics translated into Auslan and closed captions and video description. In addition to Hull, UK and US musos James Holt, Ruth Patterson and Gaelynn Lea will perform for Accessible All Areas from 8pm AEST on Saturday September 19.
Accessibility is one thing Isol-Aid founder Emily Ullman has come to think about often in relation to her livestream initiative – last month she told MTV Australia live streams could and should serve a purpose past the pandemic for those with “physiological and psychological barriers” that might prevent them from attending live music. With limited-capacity gigs in some parts of Australia returning while the coronavirus pandemic continues – barring those most at risk due to age or immunodeficiency – it’s clear more work like Accessible All Areas needs to be done to help raise awareness of accessibility issues in live music.
Are Limited-Capacity Gigs Worth It? - MTV Australia
Powderfinger Are On Track To Hit Number One, 20 Years Later
A reissue of Powderfinger’s classic album Odyssey Number Five is battling to hit number one on the ARIA Albums Chart for the second time, 20 years after its first release. Per midweek chart data hinted at by ARIA and reportedly seen by The Music Network, the reissue is up against San Cisco’s latest Between You And Me for a high debut.
In speculative terms, it looks like Powderfinger will earn the top gong. Thanks to the stagnation that has characterised 2020, nostalgia for a simpler time has been in high demand, and the beloved Australian rock band has capitalised upon it. This year has seen Powderfinger reunite on livestream, host an official quiz night, knock back an offer to play the AFL Grand Final, and announce a forthcoming album of unreleased material. The 20th anniversary reissue of Odyssey Number Five, the album which features the ballad behemoths of “These Days” and “My Happiness”, then has the popular and nostalgic momentum that San Cisco might have trouble beating on their fourth album – particularly without an “Awkward”-sized single.
National Live Music Awards Nominations announced, led by Tropical Fuck Storm, Sampa The Great, Ball Park Music
The National Live Music Awards announced its 2020 nominees this week, with Sampa The Great, Tropical Fuck Storm, Ball Park Music, Genesis Owusu and WAAX all up for the top award – Live Act Of The Year. But it’s unclear whether those nominated have been done only on the basis of performances done in the pre-pandemic months of January to mid-March. The awards are going to be a strangely somber event this year in light of the industry’s collapse since the introduction of public gathering bans from March 13.
The event will go ahead in a hybrid online-socially distanced event on October 20, with winners announced on livestream and special performances to go down in person at a “gala” at The Triffid. Public voting for the awards opened on Tuesday September 8 and will run ‘till September 24 here. It’s worth voting as a sign of solidarity to the industry, with categories open for each state, as well as those for best live guitarist, voice, bassist, drummer and instrumentalist. This year also sees the introduction of the best Live Music Journalist category – something for the scribes!
The Griswolds’ Chris Whitehall admits to multiple cases of sexual misconduct
The Griswolds’ vocalist Chris Whitehall released a statement this week confirming “multiple” allegations of sexual misconduct. In his statement, he did not specify which allegations he had read and confirmed as true, instead writing “I am here to take full responsibility and ownership of my actions”. He continued: “To the women that have come out, I support your statements and I am so deeply sorry that I hurt you and disrespected you. I am sorry for the damage I have caused you. You did not deserve any of this”. Whitehall also encouraged women to continue to share their stories, and said he “want[ed] to be held accountable”.
It follows allegations made earlier this week made by a woman named Kelly Blaus, who claimed Whitehall had groomed her from the age of 16 until just before turning 18 and labelled him a “sexual predator”. Another woman with the Twitter handle @GabbraCadabra reshared her own allegation of sexual misconduct by Whitehall, originally posted in July with her account on private, to “stand in solidarity” with Blaus. Read their accounts and further details in MTV Australia’s report below.
Aussie Album Of The Week: SUGGS - We Suggs
You might not know Zak Olsen’s name, but if you’re a Melbourne psych rock fan you’ve likely heard his music, working as a member of no less than Flightless Records’ ORB, (formerly) The Frowning Clouds, Thibault and Heirophants in addition to his solo project Traffik Island. This week Olsen has changed skins again as one half of SUGGS, a new collaborative hip-hop duo with Atlanta rapper Sheldon Suggs. Olsen’s production is a half-sampled, half psych-rock maelstrom, while Suggs’ rhymes are glossy and braggadocious – if you’re a fan of Earl Sweatshirt’s more abstract output or Madlib’s production, you’ll love this.
Aussie Track of the Week: NO ZU - “Talking To A Stranger” (Hunters & Collectors cover)
“Talking To A Stranger” is far from Hunters & Collectors’ most popular song, but there’s certainly a case to be made for it as their most influential. The gothic, almost dance-punk song has received plenty of indie do-overs in the decades since its release – most notably by The Avalanches (“Stalking To A Stranger”) – and now Melbourne dance collective NO ZU. Licked with gospel, fleshed out with rude ‘80s synths and pitched down vocals, NO ZU’s rendition removes the song’s sinister edge and gives itself over to dance.
Aussie Music Tweet of the Week:
Aaron Gocs imagines a parallel universe.
Coming Soon on MTV Australia:
Struggling? Feel like today’s advice columns don’t speak to you? Tropical Fuck Storm’s Gareth Liddiard hears you. He’s taking questions as MTV Australia’s new advice columnist – send Gaz a question via our Twitter DMs and he'll answer them right here on mtv.com.au.