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40 Most Anticipated Oz & NZ Albums of 2018

New music from Camp Cope, Vance Joy, Sarah Blasko, Dead Letter Circus, Briggs, The Presets and many more.

Barely has the ink dried on our Best of 2017 lists when we start looking forward to what’s next. For local music, 2018 is gonna be a big one, with imminent releases from pop heavyweights such as Kimbra, Sarah Blasko, Augie March and current cover-story subject, Vance Joy, as well as much-loved veterans such as the Living End, Dead Letter Circus and the Presets plotting new releases. At the other end of the spectrum, there’s debuts from some the hottest emerging local talents, including Thelma Plum, Jack River, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, Alice Ivy, Middle Kids, Joyride, Press Club and many more, while others will take on that difficult second album, including Camp Cope (pictured), Hockey Dad, the Bennies, DMA’S and City Calm Down. Here’s a rundown of everything we know about what’s on the way.

By Rod Yates, Matt Coyte, Jonny Nail, Michael Dwyer, Emily Swanson, Simon Jones and Stephen Lynch.

Tonight Alive

Album: Underworld
Release Date: January 12th

When you look at Tonight Alive’s successes both at home and abroad — the Sydney outfit enjoyed ARIA Top 10 debuts, major label backing, sold-out tours and coveted festival slots — it’s easy to see why vocalist Jenna McDougall looked like she had it made. An inspirational musician in her own right, she was navigating a persistently masculine industry with what seemed like a perennially sunny disposition. But at a crucial time in her life she found herself bombarded by a chorus of voices that weren’t her own.

For the better part of a decade, McDougall learnt first-hand what it was like to have middle-aged label execs commenting on everything from Tonight Alive’s sound to the way she presented herself. “There was always a running commentary from the outside,” she says. The artistic cost of showing off her bright green box braids in the “Human Interaction” film clip was the insistence on a full-blown pop radio affair complete with back-up dancers (“Drive”).

With the band’s shift to indie label UNFD in Australia and Hopeless Records elsewhere in the world, and the announcement of Underworld, their fourth record, McDougall has finally been able to find her voice. “I feel like no one’s ever trusted my ideas until now,” she says. “I’m encouraged as an artist to write whatever I want.” E.S.

Read the full interview with Tonight Alive.

The Bennies

Album: Natural Born Chillers
Release Date: February 2nd

Melbourne punk-ska-psychedelic rock dogs the Bennies have a pretty straight-forward approach to making music. In a world increasingly full of bummers, they just want people to have a good time.

Guitarist Jules Rozenbergs is living up to the new album’s title. “This is the best part of the process, when the album’s all done and you’re waiting for it to come back from the pressing plant,” he smiles.

Rozenbergs says NBC is a slight departure from 2016’s Wisdom Machine. “This album’s a bit more raw and rough around the edges. With past releases we’ve produced them within an inch of their life, so coming into this album it was nice to have a bit of fun and trash it up. Some of the songs have got a bit more of a rock vibe, but it’s still within the framework of what people have gotten used to.”

Another thing that’s different is that Rozenbergs gets some time on the mic. “I sing a little bit more on this album! It’s nice to get the guernsey.”

Thematically, the Bennies stick with what they do best. “I think we’ve established by this stage that our general platform is having fun.” Fun that’s aided by one of the gigantic, sticky looking buds that graces the album cover? Rozenbergs chuckles, “That wouldn’t be a long bow to draw.” M.C.

DZ Deathrays

Album: Bloody Lovely
Release Date: February 2nd

DZ Deathrays guitarist/vocalist Shane Parsons has a very simple explanation for the hard-rocking duo’s new album title, Bloody Lovely. “My girlfriend’s father says it all the time, whenever he eats something that’s delicious or tries a drink, and I just thought it was a really funny term. A really Australian way to describe something passionately. Also, all of our albums have started with the letter B.” Parsons also likes the juxtaposition of the two words. “Part of our thing is to sound really fun and evil at the same time, and that phrase sums up that position.”

With the record in the can, Parsons and drummer Simon Ridley are currently on tour in South America. “It took longer than we wanted to get this album done. We did singles ‘Blood On My Leather’ and ‘Pollyanna’ that were originally meant to be on the record, but we just took so long to finish it and we felt like it was too far between releasing them for them to go on the record.” Other singles “Total Meltdown” and “Shred For Summer” have already gone down well, the latter heading in a more melodic direction than 2014’s Black Rat. “Vocally Jane’s Addiction were a huge influence on me,” says Parsons. Bloody Lovely was recorded with Burke Reid (the Drones, Peter Garrett). “He pushed us out of our comfort zone on Black Rat, but for this one we were ready to do things his way,” says the singer. M.C.

Alice Ivy

Album: I’m Dreaming
Release Date: February 9th

Despite sessions in London, Sydney, Hobart and at her home in Melbourne’s Brunswick, Annika Schmarsel says the focus of her debut album was contiunity, saying “it’s structured to flow from start to finish with interludes and a few hidden moments along the way. I’m a true believer in listening to records in full.”

The album will also feature guest spots from Bertie Blackman and Georgia Van Etten, with the 24-year-old saying it includes a combination of some of her earliest songs with new ones, penned in the past six months: “I feel like this album is the good example of how far I’ve progressed as a self-taught producer.” J.N.

Hockey Dad

Album: Blend Inn
Release Date: Feburary 9th

To make their second album, the NSW indie-rockers decamped to Seattle’s famed Robert Lang studios, the same place Dave Grohl laid down the initial Foo Fighters demos, and the last place Nirvana ever recorded.

“We spent a few weeks there and had a blast in that amazing studio,” says vocalist/guitarist Zach Stephenson. “The album has a bit of a darker and heavier feel to previous things we have released,” he adds. “Lyrically I think the record explores the last couple of years for us and what we have gone through on the road and growing older whilst touring.”

The 12 songs set for inclusion — “All bangers,” smiles Stephenson — feature first single “Homely Feeling” and another called “Sweet Release”. “It’s about letting it hang out and releasing the sweetness inside of you,” says the singer. R.Y.

Ruby Boots

Album: Don’t Talk About It
Release Date: February 9th

Bex Chilcott’s second album finds the Perth singer-songwriter upping the rock factor and breaking out of the Americana mould. “I wanted a lot more rock & roll in my live set and in my songs,” she says. By contrast, the album features one of Chilcott’s most stark, stripped-back songs in “I Am a Woman”, a raw track that is “very important to me”. R.Y.

Marlon Williams

Album: Make Way For Love
Release Date: February 16th

Marlon Williams’ second album comes with a warning of unstoppable emotional momentum in its title. “I’ve never used music as therapy,” the honey-voiced crooner from Lyttelton, New Zealand, says of his California-made album. “It’s always been cathartic in some ways, but I’ve never needed to have it as a vehicle to work things out. Until now.” The album comes in the ache of a break-up with fellow Kiwi singer Aldous Harding — which might just be idle gossip if she didn’t play such a key role in the healing. Their long-distance duet, “Nobody Gets What They Want”, “was well and truly a part of the process”, Williams says. “It’s a really great feeling that music can have that sort of functionality.” M.D.

Augie March

Album: Bootikins
Release Date: February 23rd

The follow-up to 2014’s Havens Dumb promises to be another varied affair. “Augie March have always been five handsome, rich young guys seeking direction but finding none,” says frontman Glenn Richards. “Our songs and our albums reflect this meandering state. Bootikins is another work of heightened imagination, conceived and played in dark rooms, with instruments.” R.Y.

Vance Joy

Album: Nation of Two
Release Date: February 23rd

With the worldwide success of his 2014 debut album, Dream Your Life Away — led by the history-making “Riptide”, which to date has racked up over a billion streams on Spotify — James Keogh would be forgiven for feeling the pressure for his second hit out, but the 30-year-old Melbourne musician seems unfased. “I guess I’m not worried about trying to keep at a certain level or go to another level or whatever it is,” he told Rolling Stone Australia in our current cover-story interview.

Alongside the anthemic lead single, “We’re Going Home,” earlier this month Keogh shared the album’s artwork and tracklisting, as well as some insight into the central theme behind the LP, saying Nation of Two documents the lives of a “perfectly self-contained couple; their world beginning and ending at the bed they share, the car they ride in, or any other place where they’re together.”

Sarah Blasko

Album: Depth of Field
Release Date: February 23rd

Two years after the top 10 Eternal Return, Sarah Blasko is set to release her sixth album, Depth of Field. Recorded in “many studios” around Sydney — including “bits and pieces” in her own home and bass and drums at Jim Moginie’s Oceanic studios — and produced by Blasko, the Sydney singer-songwriter penned between 25 and 30 songs for the record, with 10 making the cut.

“I feel that it follows on from Eternal Return but it is certainly not the same,” considers Blasko. “There are far less keyboards for starters, as that album was kind of a keyboard love affair. But it’s always important to me to pick up from where the listener saw or heard me last, so there are connecting sounds, but this is a little grittier in my opinion. Much of that probably comes down to some of the guitars and the subject matter. The last album was nestled in the bosom of what it means to love and be loved; this is probably more concerned with identity and purpose. How we cope with crisis, how differently things can look depending on where you’re standing, how you choose to look at things — hence the title.”

The album opens with the slinky, synth-and-piano-led “Phantom”, of which Blasko says, “It’s about the feeling of carrying the people you love — alive and not with us anymore — with you wherever you go and how that sustains you. You can feel them even when they are not there in the flesh. It’s sort of a supernatural experience.”

Other songs set to be featured include “Everybody Wants To Sin”, “Making It Up” and “Never Let Me Go”, of which Blasko says: “That has a darker mood, but it’s also a little tongue in cheek. I’m fascinated by bridezillas, people that lull someone in with love and then trap them in a relationship, thinking they can behave however they want behind closed doors. The melodrama people play out in everyday life.” R.Y.

Camp Cope

Album: How To Socialise & Make Friends
Release Date: March 2nd

On “The Opener”, the fiery, chorus-free introduction to Camp Cope’s forthcoming sophomore LP, How To Socialise & Make Friends, vocalist/guitarist Georgia Maq takes aim at the systemic sexism within the music industry, snarling: “It’s another man telling us we can’t fill up the room. It’s another man telling us to book a smaller venue.”

“I’ve been quite unapologetic,” Maq explains, adding that on the Melbourne punk trio’s new album she’s “not afraid to say what I have to say. I feel more confident this time.”

How To Socialise & Make Friends was recorded in October over “no more than two days” at South Melbourne’s Holes & Corners studio, with the band reuniting with producer Sam Johnson, who worked on their 2016 self-titled debut and the “Keep Growing” 7-inch follow-up. While some of the songs were written just “a couple of weeks before we started recording them”, others date back several years, with Maq explaining that there’s “not a theme to the album, it’s just like my life since the first record”.

Alongside “The Opener”, that two-year snapshot covers a wide topical spectrum, including celebrations of independence (“Animal and Real”), an analysis of friendship (“Anna”), a confronting recall of sexual assault (“The Face of God”) and Maq’s current favourite, the “nice and hopeful” title-track, which serves as a homage to “being in a band, ’cause that’s how we make friends”. The nine-track release closes out with “I’ve Got You”, featuring Maq in solo-mode, opening up about the relationship with her father (Hugh McDonald from folk-rock group Redgum) who passed away in late-2016 after a long battle with cancer.

“He was in remission, then the cancer came back in 2014. I wrote that song then,” Maq explains of the poignant closer, the recording of which features one of her dad’s guitars. “It just kind of came out of me. I hadn’t ever recorded it or really played [it], but now is the time.” J.N.


Album: Thou Shall Be Free
Release Date: March 2nd

Melbourne’s Quang Dinh, formerly of indie rock-pop band, Little Red, revealed his trippy, psych-folk solo project via a slow-drip of songs over the past twelve months — most recently, the adventurously quirky, “Queen of Sheba”. True to his name, the release of the record (as with all preceeding singles) will coincide with a lunar phase, arriving the same day as a full moon. J.N.

Gin Wigmore

Album: Ivory
Release Date: March 23rd

The New Zealander’s fourth album was recorded in Los Angeles with Steve Rusch (Letlive., Solange) and, says Wigmore, “most definitely follows the eclectic nature of previous albums, however this album feels a lot more ‘at peace’ than previous records. I felt very little pressure to appease anyone on what kind of songs I wanted to write or how I wanted to produce it.” The 11-tracker features the ballad “Cold Cave” as well as the defiant “Hallow Fate”. “I was pretty pissed at the state of things going on with my career and the letdown I felt with the people I had trusted to help me in the music industry. This song discusses these sentiments and was a very therapeutic release for all those feelings.” R.Y.

Mia Dyson

Album: If I Said Only So Far I Take It Back
Release Date: March

Mia Dyson’s follow-up to 2014’s Idyllwild is very much a collaborative effort. “This is the first full-length album of mine entirely co-written with my husband Karl Linder,” she explains. “We started writing together a few years ago when I tried putting some of his poetry to music. We then tried writing together from scratch and loved the process and the result. I mostly write the music and we write the lyrics together, and he brings a very esoteric, poetic style where I am more direct and plain-spoken.”

Musically, Dyson says the album covers a lot of ground, from the “experimental, aggressive guitar” of “Open” to the “very sweeping, delicate singing and playing” of opener “Being Scared”. “It’s under the banner of rock music, but we push out a little into soul and punk,” she adds.

Dyson fulfilled something of a lifelong ambition with the new LP, recording in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, with Ben Tanner of Alabama Shakes producing. “I had heard about Muscle Shoals as a kid listening to records by Aretha Franklin, Percy Sledge and Otis Redding and had dreamed of going to these places in the U.S. that this music was made,” she says.

The album is rich with positive themes. “There’s so much about self-acceptance, courage, themes of recognising the beauty and abundance that we are surrounded by.” R.Y.

Press Club

Album: Late Teens
Release Date: March

Melbourne’s Press Club seemingly burst out of nowhere last year with the killer punk-buzz of “Headwreck”. Now they’re set to unveil their debut full-length, which guitarist Greg Rietwyk produced and engineered at The Aviary in Collingwood. “Sonically I hear a theme of pent up frustration and tension,” says bassist Iain Macrae of the record, which will feature 12 of the 38 songs they penned. R.Y.

City Calm Down

Album: Echoes In Blue
Release Date: First Quarter

City Calm Down vocalist Jack Bourke says their second album is “balanced between expanding on what we’ve released previously and being a lot more experimental”. He also adds: “For the first time in my life I feel proud about something I’ve done or created — that something being the album. It’s a feeling I didn’t get with our last record.” R.Y.


Album: Sunrise Chaser
Release Date: First Quarter

As a founder of the popular One Day block parties and one half of the Meeting Tree, Rowan “Joyride” Dix has been a prominent figure on the Sydney music for some time. In 2018 he’s ready for his own spotlight moment, set to take his unique combination of smirking larankism and silky R’n’B to a far wider audience. Last year’s pair of preview tracks — the pig-nosing protest anthem, “Kings and Queens” and cooked-as celebration, “Aunty Tracey’s Cookies,” — set the tone for an eclectic debut, which is also set to feature guest spots from Hermitude and Kingswood’s Alex Laska. J.N.

Oh Mercy

Album: Cafe Oblivion
Release Date: First Quarter

The songs on Alex Gow’s fifth album are, he says, “more playful than anything I’ve ever done. I was 29 when I wrote and recorded the album. With that comfort came the desire and ability to be more playful, lyrically and musically. It still sounds like me. Just my favourite version of me. I’m not trying to prove anything to myself.” S.L.


Album: Primal Heart
Release Date: April 20th

“The move to New York was very much for myself. It had nothing to do with my career,” Kimbra says of the change of scene surrounding her imminent third album, Primal Heart. That said, a celebrated pop star choosing to leave Los Angeles signifies more than a zip-code switch.

The mercurial New Zealand expat found herself at the centre of her own glittering music biz galaxy at the time of her last record, 2014’s The Golden Echo. The Gotye thing, 2011’s blockbustin’ Vows debut and a sneaky pair of Grammies conspired to create a bona fide soul-funk epic teeming with guests from Daniel Johns to John Legend; Matt Bellamy to Thundercat.

“So much of my life turned upside down around that time that I wanted to make use of every opportunity and kind of delve into imagination,” she reflects. “So I guess it’s a natural turning point for me to want to try a new avenue and strip things back a little… but not too much. It’s certainly not a stripped back album in terms of sound. It’s more of an electronic experience, more physical and visceral.”

An ecstatic full house at Melbourne’s Supersense Festival heard that vision come to life in August. The previewed songs from Primal Heart packed a wallop of sound and vision: a full-tilt electro-pop explosion that Kimbra danced through beaming in platform boots, flanked by two synth accomplices while tweaking her own beats and vocals on the fly. M.D.

Read the full interview with Kimbra.

The Living End

Album: TBA
Release Date: May

“I want it to have the ‘guns blazing’ of the first record,” says Chris Cheney from the Living End’s Melbourne rehearsal studio, where the trio are currently writing songs for their eighth album. “The last couple of records we’ve probably been guilty of being a little tame here and there and trying to put too much emphasis on crafting the song too much as opposed to just plugging in and fucking bashing out some noise. So there’s a lot of noise on this record already. The shackles have been pulled off.”

With Cheney now living in Los Angeles, the three-piece reconvened in Melbourne in November and spent three weeks “throwing around” some of the “100 ideas” the frontman had accumulated on GarageBand, followed by another 10 days in December. This month they leave for Berlin to record the follow-up to 2016’s Shift with producer Tobias Kuhn (Die Toten Hosen, Milky Chance). Working song titles include “Wake Up the Vampires” and “Teeth”, with the frontman determined to capture the raw sound of the three-piece at work. “We’ve been guilty of saying that in the past and we go and put a full string section on things, but we’re not going to do that this time,” he says. “There’s no time to second guess things and spend too long trying to write a magnum opus. It’s just like, fuck, put it down, if it works it works, if it doesn’t move on.” R.Y.

The Rubens

Album: TBA
Release Date: Second Quarter

For their third album, the Menangle quintet have teamed up with Run the Jewels producers/collaborators Wilder Zoby and Lil’ Shalimar and recorded in a renovated WWII communications bunker. First single “Million Man” was released in October. “What they’ve helped us create in the bunker is a fun vibe,” says frontman Sam Margin of the producers. S.J.

The Funkoars

Album: Yeah, Nah
Release Date: Second Quarter

A few years ago, the Funkoars were mixing what was scheduled to be their fifth album, then-titled In Case of Emergency. But all was not as it should be. “The great unsaid in the room was, this is not good enough,” recalls MC Dan “Trials” Rankine. “It didn’t sit with us as, this is the [album] that we’re happy to be our all-encompassing [vision], we’ve distilled our creative process down to this. It was a solid, OK record.” And so despite having the LP and artwork completed, the trio opted to start again. “We just sat back down, took a completely fresh break from everything we heard, immersed ourselves in new bits and pieces of gear, really tried to figure out what our sound was going to be for the album and just locked it in,” says Trials.

This false start, combined with Trials’ increasingly hectic schedule with A.B. Original, accounts partly for the seven-year gap between 2011’s The Quickening and this follow-up (with 2014’s Dawn of the Head EP in between), now called Yeah, Nah.

The album features a collaboration with Dune Rats called “Your Dad’s a Dickhead (And So’s His Son)” — “That should give you a good idea of what the album’s going to sound like,” chuckles Trials — as well as one with DJ Premier (“That’s a big bucketlist thing”) and Tash from West Coast group tha Alkaholiks. Produced by Trials and MC Adam “Sesta” Baker, and recorded in Adelaide, the album also features a four-piece brass section and guitar work from Ash Grunwald, which was recorded in Byron Bay. R.Y.

Read the full interview with the Funkoars.


Album: TBC
Release Date: Mid-Year

Even though Adam Briggs’ schedule of late has been dominated by his work with A.B. Original and TV duties on The Weekly with Charlie Pickering (not to mention a plum writing job on Simpsons creator Matt Groening’s new show), the rapper has still found time to work on the follow-up to 2014’s breakthrough solo LP Sheplife. Or, as he puts it: “I never stopped working on the record.”

“I’ve got 10 songs I like,” he explains. “But how they fit together I’m not sure. When I make an album I like to make it from start to finish, as one continuous piece. So from the conception of it to the album artwork to the layout to even the videos, I like to link it all together, just for myself. So I’ve got these 10 songs, but I’m not sure what I want to do with them. I’m not sure if it’s an album, but they’ll make their way out for sure.”

Briggs has been working with producers P-Money, SmokeyGotBeatz, REMI’s Sensible J Smith and Jaytee from Last Kinection. Lyrically, he says the new material veers away from the overtly political focus of A.B. Original’s album. “Not to say I’m making strip club anthems,” he laughs, “but I needed to take a back step and think about other parts of my brain and personality.” R.Y.


Album: TBC
Release Date: Mid-Year

For their fourth record, Sydney hardcore band Hellions “have set out to make people laugh, cry, smile, get angry, be happy, feel uncomfortable and feel unstoppable”, says drummer Anthony Caruso. The band recorded the follow-up to 2016’s Opera Oblivia with Shane Edwards at Karma Sound Studios in Bang Saray, Thailand, whittling down 16 songs to a final tracklisting of 11. Songs set for inclusion are “Harsh Light” (which “is full of funk and almost guaranteed to make you dance”, says Caruso) and “Furrow”, which is “an emotionally driven epic that sounds as desperate as the story it tells”.

“The last record was a big change compared to the two it followed,” says the drummer. “This one takes what we had learned and introduced throughout the Opera Oblivia process and transcends it.” R.Y.

Middle Kids

Album: TBC
Release Date: Mid-Year

Sydney trio Middle Kids had a busy 2017, releasing their self-titled debut EP, supporting Ryan Adams and Paul Kelly on their national tours, and spending three months playing in the U.S., during which they performed on late-night TV show Conan. While in the States they also spent a week in Connecticut with Peter Katis (the National, Interpol) mixing their debut album, which they recorded prior to the tour. “He’s got a pretty specific sound with those very big drums, which is great for us,” enthuses singer-guitarist Hannah Joy. “He’s very good at helping moments come out. We really love all the extra guitar noodle parts, and a lot of atmospheric parts around the songs, and he’s really good at having those in and just being able to hear all those nuanced bits and pieces.”

Produced by multi-instrumentalist Tim Fitz, who helmed the EP, the guitars were recorded in the house he shares with Joy, while the drums were captured in a house they rented in the rural New South Wales town of Portland. “We wanted a lot of space and we wanted to be in a beautiful place,” explains Joy. The 12-track LP will feature 10 new songs and two carry-overs from the EP, “The Edge of Town” and “Never Start”.

“I would say the album is quite ambitious in sound, and I think so much of that comes from the energy of releasing the EP and all the touring we were able to do,” says Joy. “It’s still very guitar based, that classic melodic rock,” she adds, while also pointing out that the record has “some songs with more space in them, that breathe a little more”. Lyrically, there are themes of human connection throughout. “That’s a really strong thing we explore in terms of intimacy with people, and when it’s lost how do we get it, and the beauty of it when we have it. That’s one of the strong themes.” R.Y.

Tash Sultana

Album: TBC
Release Date: Mid-Year

Tash Sultana’s summer schedule is looking pretty set. Alongside plans to “just go surfing every day”, the 22-year-old multi-instrumentalist will spend the majority of January and February in the studio working on her as-yet-untitled debut full-length.

“I’m pretty fucking keen. I’ve had these songs in my head forever,” Sultana drawls down the line from Fremantle, where she’s just hours ahead of another sold-out show (“Tonight is 4000, tomorrow is 4000, the day after 5000,” she nonchalantly explains). It’s one of the final stops on her 18-month globe-trotting run, which has seen the Melbourne ex-busker play festivals and theatres from Brooklyn to Belfort, all off the back of just a solitary release, her 2016 debut EP, Notion.

“I’m not playing the stuff on the album [live] just yet, I wanna run the course with [the EP] and then start fresh,” she explains of her set. For that fresh start Sultana plans to produce the album herself, as she did with Notion, with just a hired engineer to “help out in the studio”. And that’s about as far as plans have progressed, Sultana saying that she prefers to keep everything as fluid as possible. “I’m a pretty theme-less person,” she chuckles. “I just do whatever happens, and when it’s out, it’s out. I don’t listen to myself again, only when I play [the songs] live.” Even the songs themselves are at this stage “all pretty nameless”, with Sultana saying that — following the same trend as breakout tracks “Jungle” and “Notion” — she prefers to select a single word from the lyrics as the title once it’s recorded. Similarly, she’s still a fair way off having a set album title. “I’ll probably just name it the night before I launch it.”

At odds with this insouciant attitude is the relatively fixed schedule that surrounds the release. There are already plans for the first single to drop in March, alongside a run of announced international dates — including a slot on the Lollapalooza festival tour through South America — circling the LP’s scheduled mid-year release. Sultana, however, seems completely unfazed. “Yeah man, that’s all I can do, really. Write an album? All right, sweet. Get up and work in the office? Fuck that.” J.N.

Thelma Plum

Album: TBC
Release Date: Mid-Year

Bouncing between studios in New York, where she’s been working with producer David Kahne, and Sydney with local producers Ross James and Alex Burnett, Thelma Plum has almost finished her debut LP. “I’ve spent the best chunk of this year on it,” she says. She was inspired to work with Kahne because of his involvement with Lana Del Ray’s pre-fame albums (released under the name Lizzy Grant). “Some of my favourite songs ever are on those records. Then I realised that he’s worked with the Strokes, another band that I’ve listened to for years.”

Lyrically, Plum has felt empowered to become more political. “When I released my first EP, I was 16 and a lot of it was about where I was at at that time. I was heartbroken, my first love had just ended. I’ve tried to step away from just writing about heartbreak. It’s still there a bit though, because I do love writing about heartbreak!

“I think I was protecting myself [in the past], I was avoiding opening my beliefs up to public debate. There’s a song on the album, ‘Love and War’, that’s really special to me, that I wrote with Dave Le’aupepe from Gang Of Youths which he features on. That’s the most political song I’ve ever written.”
Le’aupepe isn’t the only guest to feature on the record. “I wrote a song with Paul Kelly on the album called ‘Made For You’ which I’m so excited about!” M.C.

Confidence Man

Album: TBC
Release Date: TBC

Having been (controversially) dubbed “the best up-and-coming live band in Australia” by Triple J, the Brisbane outfit’s debut album will feature a bunch of the songs they’ve been charming audiences with here and overseas, such as “Boyfriend”, “Bubblegum”, “Try Your Luck” and a re-worked version of “Don’t You Know I’m In a Band”. “The album is ironic, self-deprecating and has some badass basslines,” says vocalist Janet Planet of the 11-track effort. “We think our album sounds like what you’d want a Confidence Man record to sound like.” S.J.

Courtney Barnett

Album: TBC
Release Date: TBC

Courtney Barnett may have only recently released her full-length collaboration with Kurt Vile, Lotta Sea Lice, but she hasn’t been resting on her laurels — it seems the follow-up to her breakthrough debut album, Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit, is almost finished. In a recent interview with Beats 1 DJ Zane Lowe, Barnett revealed that she’s “trying to come up with a title for my new album… It’s all one sentence thoughts, you know, trying to come up with something clever.” Upon being quizzed if it’s finished she said it’s “getting close”. S.J.

Dead Letter Circus

Album: TBC
Release Date: TBC

At the start of 2017, Dead Letter Circus set themselves a goal of recording two albums in the year. “There was a joke, as if we’d get that together,” chuckles frontman Kim Benzie. In May they ticked off the first part of that equation when they released The Endless Mile, featuring acoustic reimaginings of earlier material. Then Benzie had what he refers to as a “massive download from the ether of new music”, and by September the band had entered Studio Circuit on the Gold Coast with producers Forrester Savell and Matt Bartlem to record the proper follow-up to 2015’s Aesthesis.

“I’d say it’s a bit heavier than [that record],” says Benzie of the as-yet-untitled album. “[The Endless Mile] created a pendulum effect where we were just so hanging to do some super upbeat pumping music after existing in that world; it probably contributed to it being a heavier album. Some of the ideas were born at the tailend of that [process]. I was like, ‘I can’t stand the thought of another violin or piano!'”

Songs set for inclusion are “The Real You” and “The Armour You Own”, which Benzie says is “probably the fattest song that DLC has ever written”. Lyrically, the singer calls the record “super positive”, with one yet-to-be-titled track inspired by the deaths of Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington. “I’m hoping it’s uplifting, and if someone’s in a moment where they need to know someone else understands, they can find it in the music.” R.Y.

Dean Lewis

Album: TBC
Release Date: TBC

“With the EP going so crazy, it’s meant every day there’s something on, so finding time has been the hardest thing,” says Dean Lewis of recording his debut album. The Sydney singer had a giant 2017, with his debut single “Waves” going triple platinum in Australia, being streamed more than 45 million times, and used in high profile TV shows such as Suits and Riverdale. When not touring his first EP, Same Kind of Different, he’s been busy recording his as-yet-untitled full-length in London with the team behind the EP, Edd Holloway and Nicholas Atkinson. Sixteen songs have been laid down, “and then about 20 more almost made it”. “I’m trying to write little movie scenes or little worlds, and by using that technique you can bring people into your world,” says Lewis of the new material. R.Y.


Album: TBC
Release Date: TBC

Sydney indie pop kings DMA’S wasted no time starting work on the follow-up to 2016 debut Hills End, setting up camp with the Presets’ Kim Moyes in their H.Q. above the Lady Hampshire Hotel in Sydney. Album two promises to be a different record to their rough-hewn debut. “We’re just getting the final mixes back,” says guitarist Johnny Took. “It’s really exciting. For years we’ve been doing that washy, Nineties lo-fi guitar thing. It happened organically because Hills End was recorded in my bedroom, but I think that sound is done now.”

Took thinks the rough edges on Hills End inspired them to reach further on their follow-up, especially as the songs from their debut sounded “so much bigger [live] than they did on the record”. The band locked in Moyes, who has worked on records by Beni and Kirin J. Callinan, to bring some polish to the new material. “Kim wasn’t that familiar with the band, but we sent him demos of songs like “Dawning” and “In the Air” and he fell in love with them.”

Took says it’s easy to make a lo-fi, garage-sounding record. “The hard thing to do is to step up to the plate and make a really serious rock album that can compete with the rest of the international output. We’re feeling pretty good about this one. They’re pop songs but we’ve still got our guitar tones — they’re just recorded well this time.” M.C.


Album: Djarrimirri (Child of the Rainbow)
Release Date: TBC

Artists measure success in all kinds of ways. Opening the world’s ears to a sound it’s never heard before; one that moves it in profound, seemingly ancient but unforeseen ways, might be a good enough legacy for most singers. “What Gurrumul sees of success,” says the late Yolngu singer’s friend and collaborator Michael Hohnen, “is when his family recognises what he’s doing is most representative of them, their culture and their music.”

He makes the comment in Gurrumul: Elcho Dreaming, a stunning film by Paul Williams that its subject approved just days before his passing in July. Central to the narrative is the making of the Arnhem Land prodigy’s final album, Djarrimirri (Child of the Rainbow). It will surely be judged as his ultimate success.

“This is kind of the big one,” Hohnen says, “and it’s beyond him, really. It’s more about Yolngu in general. He’s the voice for it. We’ve been trying songs from this album with five or six symphony orchestras for the last couple of years. We hoped to have it out [in 2017]. But G beat us.” M.D.

Read our full interview with Michael Hohnen.


Album: TBC
Release Date: TBC

After three EPs, E^ST (aka Mel Bester) is prepping her debut full-length. “This album will be a collection of songs from all over the world, written at different times with different people,” she says. “It’s a big collaborative effort.” Adds Bester: “You’ll be able to link it back to my past work, but it will be a step forward. It’s a little more adventurous.” S.L.

Eves Karydas

Album: TBC
Release Date: TBC

The last time we heard from this songwriter she was called Eves the Behavior. Since moving to London in 2015 she’s adopted her given surname and spent the past few years crafting more than 50 songs for her debut album, working with people like Stella Mozgawa. “These songs are far more positive and fun, very much reflective of the natural changes in my personality,” she says. S.J.

Jack River

Album: TBC
Release Date: TBC

Holly Rankin, AKA Jack River, is putting the finishing touches to her debut album, and though she won’t reveal its title will say, “It’s named after my favourite Neil Young song.” Recorded and written over five of the “hardest, craziest years” of her life, she says: “With this album I have felt less inclined to fit in and more inclined for the songs and project to reside in its own space.” The singer describes the track “Confess” as “the song where I have tried to perfect my vision of early 2000s pop meets grit folk. It’s Alicia Silverstone meets Oasis meets Natalie Imbruglia.” R.Y.

The Presets

Album: TBC
Release Date: TBC

Judging by some of its guest performers, the new album by Sydney electronic duo the Presets will have something of an international feel to it. “We recorded an African choir in regional Victoria and a Caribbean choir in LA,” says Kim Moyes. “There are vocal contributions from singers all over the globe who worked remotely to get us parts for songs, some of whom you may be familiar with and others who might be a fresh discovery.”

Also adding their talents to the album — the duo’s fourth, and the follow-up to 2012’s Pacifica — are Shane Parsons from DZ Deathrays, who plays guitar on one song, as does Kirin J. Callinan, while “old mate” Touch Sensitive is also involved with a couple of tracks. R.Y.

Read the full interview with the Presets.

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever

Album: TBC
Release Date: TBC

“They’re not wildly different from our earlier EPs,” says Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever singer-guitarist Tom Russo of the songs on their debut LP. “But for the first time we were conscious of putting together a cohesive collection.” Songs include “Bellarine”, “Time In Common” and “Exclusive Grave”. “We’re trying to make it a neat little package,” says Russo. S.J.


Album: TBC
Release Date: TBC

The Canberra electro trio are in the middle of creating the follow-up to 2016’s Internal, which they’re producing, recording and mixing themselves. They have 20 songs fleshed out, and “have been putting a lot of extra emphasis on taking as much out of the computer as we possibly can without detracting from our electronic roots”, says vocalist Ben Woolner. S.J.


Album: TBC
Release Date: TBC

The follow-up to the Brisbane outfit’s 2014 debut Bombs Away — home to the ubiquitous “Geronimo” — is almost upon us. The band wrote 40 songs, of which 12 will be on the record. “We’ve really thought about how this album is going to translate to a live setting,” says frontman George Sheppard. Songs set to feature on the LP include “Castaways” and “I Was Lost”. R.Y.