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Album Reviews

Posted 17 May 2016 @ 4:16pm

★★★☆

 

Corinne Bailey Rae’s new album – her first in six years – opens with a false start.

 

‘The Skies Will Break’ melds harp flourishes with noncommittal dance production, and its single-line chorus against this backing makes for an unconvincing result.

 

Following this opener, however, The Heart Speaks In Whispers improves dramatically. Bailey Rae...

Posted 17 May 2016 @ 3:55pm

★★★★☆

 

James Blake can’t stop cutting closer and closer to the quick.

 

For all its surface-level beauty and power, The Colour In Anything is a pulsing wound, as confessional as pop records come. It’s a mosaic of mirrors – a thousand unobstructed views of Blake reflected back.

 

There’s a kind of neutered horror to this record. Blake sounds like a man...

Posted 17 May 2016 @ 3:45pm

★★★★

 

When The Living End released the first single from Shift, there was a small ‘backlash’ from fans.

 

The defiant slow burn of ‘Keep On Running’ somehow left a bad taste in a few fans’ mouths – did they just hear strings on a Living End record?

 

Of course, what they wanted was ‘classic’ Living End – fast-paced action with more guitar riffs than...

Posted 11 May 2016 @ 2:01pm

★★★★☆

 

Despite their recent digital sabbatical, Radiohead have not deserted us. A Moon Shaped Pool, the band’s ninth studio album, brings with it a sharper focus than 2011’s experimental The King Of Limbs.

 

Radiohead are a band in constant motion; nothing remains the same for too long. This remarkable record is despairing, delicate and desolate in equal measure –...

Posted 11 May 2016 @ 1:51pm

★★★★

 

Melody Pool’s poetic-but-straightforward storytelling shoots through each track of Deep Dark Savage Heart like the strong core such a bold title suggests.

 

Her vocals guide the listener through scenes vivid and personal; there’s absolutely nowhere to hide with this collection of unblushing vignettes. After 2013’s The Hurting Scene, Pool hits on some more...

Posted 11 May 2016 @ 1:08pm

★★★★

 

Happiness is as hard to embrace in music as it is in life.

 

The pleasant makes us uncomfortable. The unashamedly uplifting feels trite. Singing effectively about the pie cooling on the windowsill is harder than it is about the body decomposing in the well. Good things are embarrassing. Talking about them even more so. 

 

Major Leagues’ Dream...

Posted 11 May 2016 @ 12:33pm

★★★

 

“The lyrics are quite surgically precise,” says Paul Dempsey in the promo notes for his second solo album.

 

It’s a strange phrase, strangely put. Surely either something is surgically precise or it’s not. That’s like being absolutely almost exactly near enough. What a clanger, Paul!

 

After listening to Strange Loop, however, I’m pretty sure the...

Posted 11 May 2016 @ 12:17pm

★★★

 

Much like the awakening feeling conveyed in the aptly titled opening track of Ry X’s debut album (also named ‘Dawn’), this release feels like the Australian expat is just beginning to explore his potential as a musician.

 

‘Shortline’ is where we get the first glimpse of Ry X’s vocals. They’re dark, pained and mysterious – and this is the general sentiment...

Posted 11 May 2016 @ 12:17pm

★★★★

 

Kaytranada is the name behind some of the most exciting hip hop of the past few years.

 

The Montreal-based producer has steadily developed his reputation, going from SoundCloud celebrity to studio staple, and now brushes shoulders with the likes of Anderson .Paak, The Internet and Freddie Gibbs. 

 

His debut album, painstakingly created between...

Posted 11 May 2016 @ 12:05pm

★★★☆

 

Perhaps it’s with a touch of irony that Gordi dubbed her debut EP Clever Disguise, for under all the electronic embellishment, shrouds of delay and vintage layering of these six tracks peeps an achingly authentic sound.

 

It’s also a familiar sound. Homegrown electro-folk musician Sophie Payten was the most played triple j Unearthed artist last year and many...

Posted 11 May 2016 @ 12:01pm

★★★★☆

 

There’s something to be said about bands like Twin Peaks who start their career from scratch (AKA Chicago’s DIY garage scene) and work their way up the musical ranks.

 

A certain unbridled spirit becomes engrained in their music early on, then as they grow, so does the integrity of their work, culminating in an album like Down In Heaven.

 

The...

Posted 4 May 2016 @ 2:27pm

★★★★☆

 

Tassie four-piece Luca Brasi have found the formula on their third LP, If This Is All We’re Going To Be, cementing the sound they have been working on for years on stages across Australia.

 

The album doesn’t let up, with ten fist-in-the-air anthems that feature all the cornerstones of their sound. The solid production only serves to make sure that the drums...

Posted 4 May 2016 @ 12:57pm

★★★☆

 

Adelaide’s master of the pitched-down bassline and 4/4 party vibes, Motez, has dropped his new four-track EP, appropriately named The Vibe, and it comes stacked with some of his biggest local and international collaborations to date.

 

Leading the charge is first single ‘Down Like This’, with fellow Adelaidean and future rap superstar Tkay Maidza providing...

Posted 4 May 2016 @ 12:54pm

★★★★☆

 

If relocation was the reason behind the intricately woven maze of musical poetry coming from Jaye Bartell’s third record, Light Enough, then I definitely want to move house.

 

Coming together in Bartell’s Brooklyn bedroom, the relatively sparse production, melancholic melodies and Leonard Cohen-esque voice give this album a unique and spellbinding edge....

Posted 4 May 2016 @ 12:51pm

★★★½

 

Maybe you’ve heard of Anohni, or maybe you’re more familiar with Antony and The Johnsons – either way, you’re still listening to the intense vocal stylings of Antony Hegarty.

 

Hopelessness is the latest project from Hegarty, and the first to be released under her new moniker.

 

Hegarty’s vocals are the kind that seem to come from another place...

Posted 4 May 2016 @ 12:48pm

★½

 

Pity Sex is as pity sex does, and the band’s second record is exactly the kind of limp, regrettable affair that its moniker hints at.

 

It’s the perfect example of first world problems writ large, all set to the kind of lo-fi guitar buzz a litany of bands perfected almost four decades ago. 

 

There is, after all, a difference between homage and...

Posted 4 May 2016 @ 12:37pm

★★★★☆

 

Crab Day isn’t an album.

 

It’s a cathedral, at once intensely solid and yet utterly without weight – a stone hand reaching up to God. It also happens to be the most perfectly articulated record Cate Le Bon has yet turned in, a sterling work that comes replete with its own fully internalised logic.

 

Better still, nothing about it is obvious or...

Posted 4 May 2016 @ 12:33pm

★★★★½

 

We can usually find them freaking out in Northern California alongside Thee Oh Sees and Ty Segall, but new synths, soaring Moogs and recurring motifs tell us King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard have travelled to late 1960s England for a ritualistic slaughter with Hawkwind on their new LP, Nonagon Infinity.

 

On opener ‘Robot Stop’, Stu Mackenzie sings punk (“...

Posted 27 Apr 2016 @ 3:01pm

★★★★☆

 

It should come as a surprise to no-one that a genre as abstract and oft-inacessible as post-rock has its fair share of elitist fans.

 

To them, enjoying Explosions In The Sky – perhaps the best known perpetrators in North America – is more or less on par with liking the Foo Fighters, for all of their broad-reaching appeal. 

 

That said, the...

Posted 27 Apr 2016 @ 11:30am

★★★½

 

Ever been in a rage so potent you became almost incoherent? Welcome to The Peace & Truce Of Future Of The Left.

 

Andrew ‘Falco’ Falkous’ wordplay still comes as thick and fast as ever, but for the most part his punches are short and sharp on this brutish new record. In its second crowdfunded and self-produced album, the whole outfit has doubled down on...

Posted 27 Apr 2016 @ 11:23am

The legacy of J Dilla has echoed brilliantly since his unfortunate passing in 2006.Credited for his extraordinary work and influence – both in and outside the hip hop industry – Dilla was a priceless contributor to music.

 

Having originally been recorded in 2002, The Diary was shelved by MCA Records at the time and lost in the late artist’s vault, only to have his estate begin...

Posted 27 Apr 2016 @ 11:20am

★★★½

 

Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros have reinvented themselves over the last few years, and their latest album, PersonA, is a far cry from their earlier cutesy, ramshackle, ‘let’s all have a sing-along’ sound.

 

Recorded in one room in New Orleans, which would have been a feat in itself given the size of the band, PersonA sees frontman Alex Ebert’s powerful...

Posted 27 Apr 2016 @ 11:15am

★★★☆☆

 

Why is it that great artists of a certain age always decide to release themed albums that are – let’s face it – a bit pretentious?

 

Sting had his lute album. Paul McCartney did a latin oratorio in four movements. Lou Reed’s 19th solo album drew from the poetry of Edgar Allen Poe.

 

It’s with a muttered “typical” that we find out Paul Kelly,...

Posted 27 Apr 2016 @ 11:10am

★★★★☆

 

I kid you not, from the moment the needle drops on Melbourne Ska Orchestra’s second record, you’re up and running.

 

Frontman Nicky Bomba is a seasoned hand at crafting a catchy tune, and his encyclopaedic enthusiasm is infectious; to hear him discuss the raucous ramblings of the band is enough to convince you to throw away your daily life, grab a horn and...

Posted 27 Apr 2016 @ 11:00am

★★★★☆

 

There are at least two very distinct sides to Melbourne indie-punk trio Camp Cope. One is bruised and broken, while another is defiant and angry, and it’s this juxtaposition that makes their debut record so captivating.

 

Spawned from singer-guitarist Georgia Maq’s musical outlet for social commentary and her take on relationships, misogyny and the...

Posted 20 Apr 2016 @ 2:57pm

★★★★½

 

There are some days when you just don’t want to leave the house.

 

Locked in with the clutter, the dust and inanimate objects, slowly succumbing to a Fantasia-type cabin fever, you’re left in the mindset of being the king of your own box of broken toys. Parquet Courts have always been exceptional in expressing rambling, chaotic and stream-of-consciousness...

Posted 19 Apr 2016 @ 3:33pm

★★★★½

 

Not since Refused’s The Shape Of Punk To Come has there been as prophetic an album title as Sturgill Simpson’s Metamodern Sounds In Country Music.

 

With his breakthrough second album, Simpson established himself as one of the genre’s most progressive minds, blending the grit of its traditional origins with psychedelia, blues and rock’n’roll. The best part?...

Posted 19 Apr 2016 @ 3:28pm

★★★★☆

 

Releasing their soundtrack for the documentary film Atomic as a standalone record shows the kind of confidence that Mogwai have in their composition, and that confidence is well placed.

 

The Scottish powerhouse have stripped back for this cinematic effort, emphasising keyboard and orchestrals over their post-rock format, and created an evocative soundscape...

Posted 19 Apr 2016 @ 3:14pm

★★★½

 

As nostalgia continues to overwhelm every artistic medium, even the most forward-thinking musicians prove they are not immune.

 

French awe-inspirers M83 are back with their first studio album in five years and brand new musicians in tow, both of whom make strong contributions to a record themed around old-fashioned TV shows.

 

New vocalist...

Posted 19 Apr 2016 @ 3:06pm

★★★½

 

The Dandy Warhols have returned with one of the more inspired and diverse records in their recent years.

 

2012’s This Machine was a similarly solid exercise in fine form, if only mired by the frequent lyrical touchstone that was ageing gracefully as a band. Not a taboo topic at all, of course, but its frequent reference made it feel that way – the results...

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