2022 YEARBOOK: SYDNEY RECAP
December 23rd 2022
We’ve said it once, we’ll say it again: Sydney was back in a big way this year.
Don’t believe us? Take a look at these notable local records that came out in 2022 – from long-awaited debuts to flooring newies from some of the city’s most prolific.
And if this somehow isn’t enough to convince you how much incred talent is thriving on our shores, here’s a list of top-notch independent artists we were blown away by this year.
VARIOUS ARTISTS – Pure Space: Proximity II (Compilation)
Iconic Sydney electronic music label and radio show Pure Space release the second instalment of their annual compilation series, Proximity II. Spanning from ethereal ambient soundscapes to rave-ready trance anthems and slick drum & bass cuts, Proximity II celebrates an impressive and wide array of local producers and styles. Featuring artists including electro stalwart Reptant, hard-dance proponent SLAMROSS1000, hybrid-club producer Moktar and cosmically inclined duo IN2STELLAR (among many others), Proximity II is a cerebral collection of intricately crafted tracks that are as suited to the dancefloor as they are for deep listening at home.
HYCHE – exhaust
Exhaust is the second album from Sydney bedroom indie experimentalist hyche. Blending math rock guitars and fuzzy shoegaze textures with tightly cut, jungle-inspired breakbeats, hyche has created a fresh and unorthodox sound that still evokes a warm nostalgia. Written, recorded and produced in hyche’s bedroom during lockdown – between moving house, Uni work, endless Wikipedia scrolls and monotonous visits to Ashfield Mall – exhaust is an album as inspired by the restlessness and stagnation of life indoors, as it is the vicarious freedom of hearing someone chucking burnouts down the street.
NICK GRIFFITHS – Something I Once Heard
Something I Once Heard is the sophomore record from singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Nick Griffith. A playful and pliant reflection on its conceptual beginnings, Something I Once Heard carries forth a sunny European motif of the hotel rooms and cobblestone streets from which it was first forged. Yet the record’s lyricism is steeped in an unashamed frankness, discussing the transformative experiences of serious illness, relationships and the personal growth needed to overcome the in-betweens. Glistening moments of synth-pop, melodic percussion, and upbeat indie rock give way to Nick Griffith’s DIY prowess, with live drums and a wash of guitar blurring the boundaries of lo-fi pop and classic songwriting. Something I Once Heard affirms Nick Griffith’s skills as a talented writer and producer, projecting his honest but ultimately optimistic observations on a tumultuous period of his life.
NEW WEIRD AUSTRALIA – Collapse Theories
Prolific experimental music label New Weird Australia release their newest compilation, Collapse Theories. Featuring new and unreleased works from 28 different artists, Collapse Theories includes tracks from the likes of experimental spoken-word duo jobfit, industrial, hardware-sorcerer Horse Macgyver, post-classical collective Haunts and avant-pop producer Aphir. All proceeds from the release will be donated to Bundjalung Community Flood Relief, providing direct financial support to Bundjalung First Nations communities affected by the devastating impacts of the recent flood disaster. Continuing New Weird Australia’s long history of platforming local music that exists on the fringe, Collapse Theories highlights underground talent across a broad sonic palette; traversing the worlds of DIY electronics, ambient, experimental soundscapes and realms beyond conventional classification.
1-800-MIKEY – PLUSHY
1-800-MIKEY fluffs the pillows and makes a warm, fuzz-laden bed on his new album PLUSHY. 13 tracks of bedroom-punk bliss, written and recorded by the Eora/Sydney based artist throughout 2020-2021. Also known for his more melancholy and self-reflective output as Dying Adolescence, on his 1-800-MIKEY project he embraces more playful songwriting. PLUSHY is padded with cute tracks about Snoopy and playing on Claw Machines, all infused with infectious power pop energy.
1300 – Foreign Language
Trailblazing Eora/Sydney collective 1300 release their debut mixtape Foreign Language. 13 exhilarating tracks showcasing the Korean-Australian crew’s trademark bilingual hip-hop prowess, encased in bass-heavy production informed by the electronic and club underground. Having built a reputation for their rowdy and high-energy live shows, 1300 not only deliver on the enormous critical anticipation, but brush it off with style. Shattering genre-limitations and featuring hot guest performances from contemporaries including Raj Mahal, Agung Mango and Qim Isle, Foreign Language is a game-changing release from 1300.
BODY TYPE – Everything Is Dangerous But Nothing’s Surprising
Eora/Sydney-based four-piece Body Type release their raucous debut LP Everything Is Dangerous But Nothing’s Surprising. Established favourites of the city’s live scene, Everything Is Dangerous But Nothing’s Surprising reflects Body Type at a riotous high. The band recorded the album over 8 days with Jonathan Boulet of Party Dozen, just before the global pandemic placed a dampener on touring and recording. Everything Is Dangerous But Nothing’s Surprising showcases the band’s searing guitars, cathartic choruses, lyrical sourness and justified rage; all sugar-dusted with wry humour and wrapped up in catchy hooks, creating a record that is both biting and empowering.
SPEED – Gang Called Speed
Sydney collective SPEED release their debut EP Gang Called Speed through Last Ride Records and Flatspot Records. After years spent cultivating a strong community as members of various different projects in the local hardcore and metal scenes, the five members of SPEED joined forces in 2019, quickly developing their staunch and uncompromising sound. SPEED’s no-holds-barred approach comes through – not only sonically but also lyrically – throughout the 6-track release; tackling issues of misogyny, masculinity and racist hate crimes, elevating the importance of authenticity and taking ownership of your identity. Gang Called Speed presents a contemporary take on classic mosh-ready, thrash-infused hardcore. Sporting molten riffs, wailing guitars, and a pummelling rhythm section, all combined with a powerfully charged vocal delivery. Through their music and presence in the local scene, SPEED unapologetically showcase the power of resilience and community, with the release of Gang Called Speed realising the bands mission to put local hardcore back on the map.
TASMAN KEITH – A Colour Undone
A Colour Undone is Tasman Keith’s highly anticipated and triumphant debut album. A profound and soul-baring journey, the record deeply explores multitudinous experiences of love; whether that be the romantic or familial, as well as love for community and self-love. The record sees Tasman Keith as his most vulnerable self, undoing ego, envy, self-expectation and intergenerational trauma, eventually leading to a true and fulfilled understanding of self. Despite its earnest themes, the record emphasises Tasman Keith’s self-assurance, by exhibiting the growth of an artist who has not only tirelessly honed in on their craft for many years, but is also willing to take new steps forward both lyrically and stylistically. A Colour Undone is a 14 track odyssey that is sonically Tasman Keith’s most far-reaching effort yet, ranging from stripped back ballads through to auto-tuned R&B, bass-heavy hard rap to jazz and gospel-influenced hip hop and beyond. Stacked with features from local artists including Genesis Owusu, Kwame, Jessica Mauboy, Thandi Phoenix and Phil Fresh, A Colour Undone effortlessly traverses genre limitations and proves itself as one of the most musically and thematically vital albums of the year.
PARTY DOZEN – The Real Work
Experimental icons Party Dozen release their monumental third album The Real Work. The prolific duo of Kirsty Tickle and Jonathan Boulet have developed a cult following for their distinctive, improv-driven sound; drawing from a bevy of stylistic touch points including doom, jazz, noise, punk and industrial music. The Real Work sees Party Dozen branching out further than ever before, delving into Kirsty Tickle’s unconventional sax-filtered vocal approach, exploring venturing into kitsch 50s movie soundtrack references, and even featuring a guest vocal adlib from Nick Cave. Having already proved on their previous LPs that the duo can go larger, wilder and more inventive than many bands triple their size, Party Dozen take a quieter, more considered and at times tongue-in-cheek turn on the album. The Real Work showcases Party Dozen as the unparalleled masters of their own bizarre and magnificent corner of the musical universe.
JULIA JACKLIN – PRE PLEASURE
For the first time in her musical career, Julia Jacklin stepped away from the guitar, and wrote at her keyboard. There she created her new album PRE PLEASURE, nestled in an apartment in Montreal with walls covered in butcher paper, sprawling with lyrics and ideas. PRE PLEASURE is a quintessential Julia Jacklin album; it is at once starkly intimate, and completely universal. Drawing on the generational gap between mothers and daughters, rekindling friendships and navigating the meaning of true love – there’s always been a sense of knowing and quiet observation in the music of Julia Jacklin. Set to delicate arrangements – at times sparse and at other times playful – PRE PLEASURE is a generous and welcoming collection of songs that marks a confident metamorphosis for one of the country’s most beloved songwriters.
FLOWERTRUCK – Partly Cloudy
Partly Cloudy is Flowertruck’s first full length record since 2018, released just in time for the turn of the season. An optimistic and sunny album, it serves as a poignant reminder of appreciating the everyday beauty of life as it passes by, and sees Flowertruck musing on life as a band after their successful debut album. The record also explores the messy experiences that come with being an adult; heartbreak and self-preservation, hopeless wanderlust, graduating from institutions and social circles and moving forward with self-assurance are all explored in Flowertruck’s usual lively and tongue-in-cheek style. With twangy guitars and a characteristically buoyant rhythm section, the band’s unique take on classic guitar balladry is terrifically framed by singer Charles Rushforth’s signature animated vocal delivery. Partly Cloudy is a romantic and bright-eyed tribute to the microcosmic and everyday moments of chasing dreams and forging relationships, tinged by a sweet sense of innocence and longing.
SCRUFFS – We Outside Now
We Outside Now is the new mixtape from prolific Sydney producer and multi-instrumentalist Scruffs. A wavy, late night expedition through dusty hip hop, mellow neo-soul and even the occasional foray into footwork. Despite being created during bouts of lockdown, the EP offers light and escapism “for us to find our way out of the dark”, and provides a warm and generous soundtrack to our daily lives. Featuring guest appearances from the likes of Melbourne rap heavyweights Savage The Girl & MAMMOTH., as well as Sydney synth master thedieyoungs, We Outside Now is an essential release from a well-respected mainstay of the Sydney underground.
NINAJIRACHI – Second Nature
Second Nature is the vast and impeccably crafted debut mixtape from Sydney artist Ninajirachi. Exploring futuristic and ecstatic club sounds, Second Nature showcases Ninajirachi’s talents as a producer, with a precise ear for detail and a singular ability for immersive world building.
YAWDOESITALL – Life I Chose
YAWDOESITALL releases his bold and exciting debut project Life I Chose. A mainstay in Sydney’s music community for years, the Ghanaian-Australian artist has earned a reputation as a talented lyricist, rapper and producer, and as a magnetic performer.
Life I Chose is unbridled by stylistic expectations, with each track differing from the last. Gliding 808s, organic percussion, searing guitar passages, gospel samples and addictive vocal hooks come together with expert precision across the EP’s 8 tracks.
A product of the risk-taking and musical devotion that defines YAWDOESITALL, Life I Chose is a significant marker in the career of one of the city’s most charismatic and commanding voices.