Congrats to DRMNGNOW, Ferla, Honey 2 Honey and Sampa the Great for the delivering the four best Australian singles this year.
DRMNGNOW feat. Kee’Ahn – ‘Ancestors’
The late-Jan release of ‘Ancestors’ was a timely reminder that the legacy of January 26 is one of shameful brutality, meaning it’s no occasion for misguided patriotism. Naarm MC Neil Morris makes no bones about his position with lyrics like, “Never forget or deny that anguish, the cries, the ongoing genocide/The devastation, theft and wiping out of tribes.” Morris’ flow is even-paced and restrained, ensuring the gravity of each line sinks in. Sovereignty was never ceded.
Ferla – ‘I’m Fine’
In the early months of the year Melbourne band Ferla brought us ‘I’m Fine’, a dynamic rock song with a belting chorus fit for ‘80s pop radio. Giuliano Ferla is figuring out to cope in the aftermath of a breakup. The subtext is that, really, he’s not coping at all. It’s an emotional and defiant power pop number in the vein of Hunters & Collectors. Ferla’s vocals take us on journey from affected calm to bleeding heart longing.
Honey 2 Honey – ‘Under the Hangar’
One of the year’s great discoveries was Canberra-via-Sydney trio Honey 2 Honey. That the band’s first releases came via indie gurus Chapter Music is a testament to their high quality individualism. Preceding the trio’s A Taste Of EP was ‘Under the Hangar’, which betrays their affection for Arthur Russell’s Buddhist bubble gum pop. It’s rooted in off-kilter dance beats, artsy instrumental decoration and Rory Stenning’s understated baritone. It’s now a confirmed addiction.
Label: Chapter Music
Sampa the Great – ‘OMG’
Sampa Tembo’s excellence has been irrefutable since 2015’s The Great Mixtape. She began 2019 having already won the Australian Music Prize despite not having an official album out. She ends the year as an ARIA-winning, internationally acclaimed artist responsible for the double LP, The Return. The album’s standout track is ‘OMG’, which pairs Sampa’s unapologetic rhymes with Kwes Darko’s world-building beats. The self-belief that permeates the Melbourne-based MC’s vocals is outrageously inspiring.
Label: Ninja Tune