Earlier this week we brought you the first part of our lil’ 2015 album and EP retrospective, where we looked at some stellar releases that may have flown under your radar amid the flurry of wonderful Australian records that made their way to music fans everywhere. Today, we take a look at the second half of our rundown – from Hein Cooper through to Mojo Juju, have a read (and then a listen)!
Hein Cooper – Self-Titled EP
Hein Cooper’s self-titled EP dropped last year off the back of a solidly built reputation as a live performer and it definitely delivered on everything we had expected. As an artist, Cooper poured some serious heartfelt lyricism into this collection of music reflective of time abroad writing in Canada and growing as a musician and young creative in general. Gorgeously textured and wonderfully arranged, this EP of Cooper’s was a wonderful way to bring his artistry to more people around the country and demonstrated some amazing potential which was then further showcased on his 2016 album, The Art of Escape.
Jeremy Neale – Let Me Go Out in Style
Brisbane favourite, Jeremy Neale, released a new EP in Let Me Go Out in Style – a shiny, 80’s inspired collection of material. The six track EP featured the memorable and catchy “Hold on Together” and “The Love Calling”, though Let Me Go Out in Style also acted as a solid follow up to Neale’s 2013 album In Stranger Times. Looking at the end of relationships and the process of moving on, the introspective nature of such a period of time and eventually coming out of it the other side is presented in some retro-soaked glory.
Jaala – Hard Hold
Melbourne’s Jaala released debut album Hard Hold to an audience that approached their music with excitement, curiosity and enthusiasm. The material comes at the listener in fast, vibrant bounds – an eccentric blend of pop and prog-soaked indie rock that whips itself up into a frenzy. Guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Cosima Jaala’s harnesses a scream that has drawn acclaim of its own and in her lyricism are some wonderfully constructed stories playing on themes of twisted love, heartbreak and obsession. The musical experimentation on Hard Hold drew comparisons to the approach Hiatus Kaiyote have become synonymous with in the past, but there’s something unique about Jaala’s album that positioned it as a record to be absorbed as a whole rather than deconstructed within an inch of its life.
Totally Mild – Down Time
Down Time. From the guitars to those trademark vocals of Elizabeth Mitchell, this album took me by surprise when I first listened to it. Totally Mild brought an emotional range and a very self-aware sense of self-deprecation to a sonic space that allowed both to flourish and become exemplified in some stellar songs. You’d be forgiven for thinking you’d hit ‘play’ on a surf-rock, guitar driven album from decades gone by – but we’re not mad at all that such influences from the 60’s and 70’s came through as they did. The album went largely ignored when it was first released in the earlier months of 2015 – although it was released to a bunch of nods and thumbs up, it seemed like Down Time was an album that continued to generate different highlights and develop with each listen. Now, roughly a year on, we’re listening to it and still loving it.
Mathas – Armwrestling Atlas
Mathas easily stood out as one important hip hop artist to be watching through 2015 and his sophomore album Armwrestling Atlas was a perfect introductory record for him to release and branch out further in reaching more fans around the country. The WA rapper displayed some fiercely talented lyrical delivery and a rapid flow and a particular skill for storytelling through his rhymes. The production was also a highlight of Armwrestling Atlas, another element Mathas was behind as well – this one was a little while in the making but the final result was well worth it.
Mojo Juju – Seeing Red/Feeling Blue
Mojo’s soulful and rich vocal talent just shines with this album – a perfect representation of an artist bringing some brilliant soul and blues traditions to a contemporary audience now. The emotional range on Seeing Red / Feeling Blue is vast and well established early on on the record; moments vulnerability are matched with effortless swag and a self-assurance Mojo bounds from track to track with. It’s a great album for newcomers to Mojo Juju’s sound to get familiar with – some awesome foundations are laid here that are only built and further fleshed out in a live capacity.