Baker Boy, Julia Jacklin and Darren Hayes: Australia’s best new music for July

Baker Boy ft Bernard Fanning – Wish You Well

For fans of: Jurassic 5, De La Soul, Anderson .Paak

Baker Boy was wise to recognise Fanning as a legitimate soul singer, his gravelly yet smooth tones perfectly suited to provide a vocal hook on a hip-hop track. Rather than just piggybacking upon the original song’s hit power to secure an easy victory (see: Puff Daddy), Baker Boy has forged his own creation that uses elements of the former hit to arrive at a striking summery jam a million miles away from the original. While Fanning’s classic is about heartbreak and loss, this new iteration is about celebration and good vibes, about sincere appreciation and hope, rather than being a bitter kiss off. Instead of dwelling on his own heartbreak, Baker Boy is offering love to someone else going through a hard time – a simple flip that makes all the difference in the world.

For more: Listen to Baker Boy’s excellent debut Gela.

Darren Hayes – Poison Blood

For fans of: MGMT, James Blake, Savage Garden

It’s been more than a decade since Hayes released an album, but his status in the musical world has only grown since. A lot of this is due to the enduring love for Savage Garden, an act who scored two No 1 singles in the US and more “best of” compilations than studio albums. While Hayes’ solo work has moved well away from Savage Garden, his ear for a melody and superior songwriting skills shining through, no matter which genre he takes his hand to. Poison Blood is quite an experimental tune, with dark lyrics that hint at inherited addiction and trauma, and a spooky staccato synth. This a slow-burning piece of art-pop, with Hayes’ incomparable falsetto lifting the chorus. The bridge is where the song launches into hyperspace, with a breathtaking vocal that reaches Mariah levels. What a masterstroke!

For more: Hayes has announced an Australian tour for January and February 2023.

Related: Sampa the Great on success in Australia, Africa – and beyond: ‘It feels good to show younger Zambians they can do this’

Julia Jacklin – I Was Neon

For fans of: The Dandy Warhols, the Modern Lovers, Courtney Barnett

Jacklin’s last single was a meditation on religious indoctrination, one of a number of heavy subjects she has delved into over her impressive songwriting career. Here she puts the pedal to the floor with a few chugging power chords and a hypnotic refrain: “Am I gonna lose myself again?” “I quite like the person that I am,” she protests, one of a sparse set of lyrics that sees her try to avoid her wild, “neon” youth. The simple, repetitive structure makes this song the perfect festival set closer.

For more: Pre Pleasure is out 26 August.

RY X – A Thousand Knives

For fans of: Sleepy Jackson, Bon Iver, Rhye

Ry Cuming grew up just outside of Yamba, NSW, and remains mostly unknown in his home country. Yet somehow, he entered the rader of bowerbird superstar Drake and produced the song Sticky off his new album, which entered the Billboard Hot 100 at No 6 a few weeks back. Those looking to explore RY X records based on this unlikely connection will be in for a shock, for the lush harmony-drenched folk of A Thousand Knives belongs less in a sweaty Florida nightclub and more in a cabin in the mountains. This is a truly transcendent single from his fourth full-length album, the equally tranquil Blood Moon. Just put on this song, relax and float downstream.

For more: Blood Moon is out now, or check out his equally great album, 2019’s Unfurl.

Stella Donnelly – Flood

For fans of: Missy Higgins, Ben Folds, Alex G

Donnelly said her latest single, written in the rain-drenched depths of a Melbourne winter lockdown, is a “sad little adventure”. While lyrically this may be true, the actual tune belies any morose inception the song may have had, with a jaunty drumbeat, sparse twanging guitars and a plunking piano accompanying a merry little melody. Donnelly’s charming ocker vocal is well suited to pocket-sized tales like this, the lack of pretence perfectly rendered in one-liners such as, “I’m a drop stitch on your new scarf, holding on hope.”

For more: Her second album Flood is out 26 August. Listen to the first track, Lungs.

Ryan Sterling – How Time Flies

For fans of: David Crosby, the Jayhawks, early Wilco

The passage of time is one of the more well-worn songwriting tropes, due to the simple fact that it’s the most universal experience known to humankind; memories fade, people leave, songs are written. Sterling has an impressive backlog of albums and his latest, Specks of Golden Dust, is out on legendary Sydney label Half a Cow, a very apt place for this 1960s-leaning folk to land. How Time Flies is the opening track on his new album, and despite the title, Sterling is in no hurry to rush through this laconic tune, his unique fingerpicking style and warm voice as comforting as a lazy day spent on the lounge, while dive-bombing slide adds a country twang to proceedings.

For more: Check out Specks of Golden Dust, then go backwards throughout his entire catalogue.

Ben Lee ft Washington – Parents Get High

For fans of: Architecture in Helsinki, K Records, She & Him

Early last year, Lee and his wife, the actor Ione Skye, hosted a series of ramshackle evenings in Sydney, appropriately titled Weirder Together. Between standup and improv theatre, Lee would perform a new song inspired by the “weird” parties his parents threw when he was a child, where all the normally sensible adults would get giggly and a bit too loud, much to the kids’ bemusement. It’s safe to say Lee has since hosted his share of similar soirees, and this charming, relatable song stems from both of these experiences. Megan Washington provides soothing backing vocals that add a lovely tonal quality to this plonky ode to drug taking and childhood wonder, two things that seemingly don’t need to be mutually exclusive.

Related: Spacey Jane: Here Comes Everybody review – painfully sophomoric indie rock

For more: Ben Lee’s album I’m Fun is out 19 August.

Kav Temperley and Katy Steele – Graduation Day

For fans of: Little Birdy, Eskimo Joe, End of Fashion

As two of Perth’s finest songwriters and singers, it comes as some surprise that Eskimo Joe’s Temperley and Little Birdy frontwoman Steele had never collaborated until this romantic, nostalgic ode. Temperley is stuck in stasis, doing the same small-town things he did as a teenager, while Steele has long flown away. Musically, it’s a driving pop tune, lush and layered, with more than a passing resemblance to the latter half of the Eskimo Joe catalogue. Their two voices complement each other nicely, and it’s a joy to hear Steele’s stunning vocals for the first time since her 2016 solo record Human.

For more: Kav Temperley hits the road this month for a regional tour, starting on 14 July at Froth in Exmouth, Western Australia.

Waax – Read Receipts

For fans of: PJ Harvey, Placebo, Belly

Drake’s new song Texts Go Green chronicles the particular heartache of having your iMessage texts blocked. Likewise, WAAX’s explosive new single refers to being “left on read” – when a missive has been seen by its recipient, who hasn’t replied. It’s a very modern problem, and one that will seem as baffling to future generations as the floppy disk “save” icon must feel to kids now. Waax’s slightly retro sound adds a pleasing juxtaposition to what is otherwise a straightforward pop-rock tune in the vein of PJ Harvey et al.

For more: WAAX’s album At Least I’m Free is out 5 August.

Phil Jamieson – Lights On

For fans of: Grinspoon, Even, Tim Rogers

Even as the wild teenaged frontman for Triple J favourites Grinspoon, Jamieson had an inescapable grasp of melody, whether chirping a bouncing tune in mockney or screaming over distorted wah guitars. Lights On is the third single from his forthcoming solo debut, and it is the strongest offering he has released yet. With a stuttering guitar riff that belongs on a 1990s Hottest 100 compilation, and an irresistible chorus of handclaps and falsetto, it would be a shame if this tune isn’t rewarded with heavy commercial airplay. There’s even a shalala outro to really hammer home that this is a classic Jamieson number, to hoist in the rafters alongside Busy, No Reason, and Just Ace.

For more: Somebody Else is out 29 July. Jamieson is touring nationally throughout July and August.