IT'S summertime. You've loaded up the surfboards, packed the tent and those beers are chilling in the esky.
COVID-19 might mean flying interstate is out, but the highways and beaches are open. It's time to hit the open road and chase those summer vibes. All you need is the most important part - the playlist.
While the majority of 2020 is worth forgetting, here's a selection of Australian tracks that made last year memorable in a positive way.
Situation Room - Something For Kate
Fans of Something For Kate were forced to wait eight years for new material from the iconic alt-rock band who have delivered classics like Monsters and Three Dimensions over their 25-year career.
It was worth the wait. Situation Room, the first single off their seventh album The Modern Medieval was among Paul Dempsey's greatest ever compositions.
"Man, I got the jump on jumping too soon/ I pulled the rug from the situation room/ I climbed right out to the edge/ To where the guide books end," is among Dempsey's most cerebral lyrics.
I Missed Out - Hockey Dad
From the opening riff and frenetic drums to the catchy chorus of "I missed out on so much", this song was custom made for cruising down a coastal road in search of waves.
The Wollongong garage rockers are keen surfers themselves and spent much of 2020 on the waves when their touring plans were grounded. Still they managed to deliver their best album to date in Brain Candy.
Batflowers - Washington
Another Australian artist to end a sabbatical from releasing new music in impressive style was Megan Washington.
Batflowers was the Brisbane art-pop singer-songwriter's fourth album and first since 2014 and the title track was alive with pure and delightful pop vigour. Washington's pledge of "I want to bring you good luck" and breezy melody was the perfect tonic to the negativity of COVID.
Summer is about having fun and Batflowers is blooming with it.
Fierce - Fanny Lumsden
Undoubtedly the finest country album released in 2020 was Fanny Lumsden's powerfully poetic Fallow.
The album was recorded on Lumsden's Snowy Mountains property prior to last summer's horrendous bushfires which encircled her farm.
The cheeky Peed In The Pool and the drought-flavoured This Too Shall Pass showcased Lumsden's full talent and range as a songwriter, but for mine, Fierce is the album's signature moment.
The track was inspired by women who have influenced Lumsden and the upbeat alt-country guitar is perfect road music.
Cars In Space - Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever
Nostalgia for summers past is an intoxicating mix. Melbourne indie-rock band Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever tap into that emotion with their jangly guitar music which takes inspiration from some of Australia's finest ever bands in The Go-Betweens, The Triffids and The Hoodoo Gurus.
Rolling Blackouts' stunning second album Sideways To New Italy might have been released in the midst of a dark Victorian COVID winter, but the album is pure summer sunshine.
You need to listen to the entire album, but if you're gonna choose a single track then the summer go-to is Cars In Space with the band's trademark duelling guitar.
Twisting Words - Miiesha
Torres Strait Islander woman, Miiesha Young, hails from the remote Central Queensland town of Woorabinda, but she announced herself to the mainstream with her debut album Nyaaringu.
Miiesha's lyrics are imbued with community, self-determination and respect and her music blends gospel, pop, soul and hip-hop.
Twisting Words features a Prince-like liquid guitar and a compelling soul-pop chorus that will have you dancing and thinking in unison.
Good Grief - Spacey Jane
Unfortunately the summer music festival season has been practically non-existent for most of us, because Spacey Jane would been in high demand. The Perth band's album Sunlight was among the most impressive debut albums to be released in 2020.
The songwriting and arrangements are simplistic, but the hooks are undeniably hummable. Good Grief begins slowly, but once you reach the chorus the whole family will be singing along on those long car trips.
Running Red Lights - The Avalanches
American pop-punk band Weezer have produced plenty of summer classics over the years like Island In The Sun and Buddy Holly and frontman Rivers Cuomo lent his vocal talents for The Avalanches' hypnotic Running Red Lights.
It's one of the most conventional tacks on The Avalanches' most song-based album to date, We Will Always Love You. The repetitive chorus and twinkling synths will lure you in before rapper Pink Siifu takes over.
Screw Loose - Lime Cordiale
The ARIA Awards left Lime Cordiale as the disappointed bridesmaid, rather than a beaming bride, when the Sydney indie-pop band won just Breakthrough Artist from their eight nominations.
However, 2020 was undoubtedly Lime Cordiale's year. Their second album 14 Steps To A Better You cracked No.1 and their shows were in high demand.
Lime Cordiale, just like the sweet beverage, is made for summer consumption. The pop melodies and the ska and funk influences, are all so chilled. Screw Loose is among Oli and Louis Leimbach's funkiest numbers, driven by the dirtiest of bass lines.
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