In celebration of the original inhabitants of our country, explore this excellent list of fresh tracks by Indigenous Australian hotshots Kardajala Kirridarra, Dan Sultan, A.B. Original, Ziggy Ramo, Alice Skye, Baker Boy, and DRMNGNOW.
Kardajala Kirridarra, Ngurra (Rain Song)
Built around vocal harmonies and electronic backing, Kardajala Kirridarra’s self-titled debut made 2017 a big year for the quartet. Hailing from Malinja, NT, the record is a spellbinding mixture of English and Mudburra vocals (led by Eleanor and Janey Dixon), rapped verses (℅ MC Kayla Jackson) and found-sound beats (arranged by Beatrice Lewis, also of Haiku Hands, and Eleanor.) It might only be seven tracks long, but it was rightfully praised on release as one of the year’s most irresistible records.
Dan Sultan, Drover
Dan Sultan gets better with every record. Killer, from which Drover is taken, continued Sultan’s tradition of scooping up award noms. Now that it’s in the process of having it reworked by some of the country’s greatest musicians (A.B.Original, Camp Cope, David Le’auepepe of Gang of Youths, and Meg Mac to name a few), you ought to hear the originals – stories of Indigenous history and contemporary oppression – if you haven’t yet.
A.B.Original, Report To The Mist
January 26 and the cover of Paul Kelly’s Dumb Things broke Australian internet when the discussion to #ChangeTheDate hit the mainstream last year. But A.B.Original’s debut album Reclaim Australia, released in 2016, also covers Indigenous struggles that haven’t got quite as much shine, like Indigenous deaths in custody. If you thought police brutality was exclusive to the US, Report To the Mist would like a word.
Ziggy Ramo, YKWD
YKWD is an aesthetic smorgasboard. Bright disco chords, loungey piano runs, and a housey flavour that reiterate the sensuality Ziggy Ramo first flashed on the Black Thoughts EP. The outspoken Perth-based artist might make bangers and have a sense of humour, but don’t mistake that for being less-than-serious as a provocateur.
Alice Skye, Poetry By Text
From Skye’s upcoming record Friends With Feelings, Poetry By Text follows last year’s 60% and her previously acclaimed tracks as a delicate folk ballad. Skye grew up in country Victoria and her songs sound similarly rooted: sparse, solemn, and picturesque.
Baker Boy, Marryuna (Live At The Steps)
It was impossible to go anywhere near a radio in 2017 without hearing Darwin-born Baker Boy. Culminating in a staggering performance (ft. guest star Remi) at Live At The Steps, last year was Baker Boy’s year. Rapping in a combination of English and Yolngu Matha, he’s not only a proud representative Arnhem Land, but an advocate for the Indigenous Hip-Hop Project, connecting young Indigenous folks to expression through rap.
DRMNGNOW, Australia Does Not Exist
Pinning Neil Morris down as just one thing is tricky. The Yorta Yorta man has done everything from ecological work to community outreach, from activism to artistry. An electrifying performer in any of his projects, his first track as DRMNGNOW is a challenge to reenage with the Australian history wars and interrogate the country’s foundation.