Album of the Week

BAYANG (tha Bushranger)

Antarctica
December 1, 2023

Antarctica is the culmination of a big year for the Sydney rapper BAYANG (tha Bushranger). Its his debut mixtape, but it feels less like an introduction and more like a victory lap – a toast to the vivid musical scope and love for collaboration present throughout his music.

 

Many of the themes that have characterised his work are present throughout: working class grind, the contradictions of music as a passion and as a career, the sometimes oppressive nature of Sydney city. But Antarctica filters these ideas through a new lens, thawing the fiery rage of REDBRICKGOTHIK (BAYANG’s album with noise group Bract), into a frostier, at times more melancholic sound.

 

A star-studded line up of producers help shape this vision, including Ninajirachi, Grasps and Ryan Fennis, bouncing BAYANG between glitchy cloud rap, plugg and drain. The feature list is similarly stacked: Sevy, FRIDAY* & Lil Pixie & stealthynoob are some of the many talents BAYANG taps on Antarctica, giving it the feel of an exclusive, leaked hardrive of late night studio sessions and off-the wall ideas.

It’s a show of BAYANG’s unending sense of community, conscious of and eager to build the ecosystem of both local and interstate talent. Antarctica is proof of BAYANG (tha Bushranger) as a musical project that’s chameleonic in all the best ways; never one note, complex and always authentic.

Beryl

Dry Peel Crack
November 24, 2023

On their debut album Dry Peel Crack, Beryl emerge as one of Sydney’s most impressive indie rock acts. On it, duo Gabriela King and Alex Jasprizza construct songs that are both intimate and emotionally charged. 

 

Dry Peel Crack builds on the folk sound previously developed on their debut 2022 EP, Keeping Score, but with an even richer soundscape. Dense layers of saxophones, flutes and clarinets add atmosphere and, at times, a quiet intensity to the personal ballads across the record.

 

But it’s Beryl’s newer forays into indie rock that sets Dry Peel Crack apart from earlier releases. Tracks twist and turn in unexpected directions, with skillful rhythmic flexibility. They’re also dynamically inventive, fluttering between softer and louder moments, or devolving into occasional noisy crescendos. 


What makes Dry Peel Crack so compelling is the uniqueness of Beryl’s songwriting. Confident in their distinct vision, it’s a launching pad for what’s hopefully many more releases to come.

 

Keanu Nelson

Wilurarrakutu
November 17, 2023

Wilurarrakutu, the brilliant debut from Keanu Nelson, is an exercise in storytelling and reflection. It’s an emotionally effective synergy of words and sound, a snapshot of a particular place, time and collection of memories.

Taken from the pages of his personal notebook, Keanu Nelson’s vocal meditations on his home town of Papunya are transposed onto a sonic canvas that uniquely captures these recollections. Influenced by the strong local church community and DIY reggae beats that are often shared throughout the town, Wilurarrakutu explores the possibilities of minimal musical beauty, whether it be the pensiveness of a Casio Gospel keyboard, or the steadiness of dubby drum machines.

The record was assembled through collaborative sessions with esteemed Sydney musician Yuta Matsumura, who met Keanu on a chance meeting in Papunya. Wilurarrakutu is a product of their jamming sessions, in all its simple but stirring chord progressions and synth layers. Most importantly, Keanu Nelson sits at Wilurarrakutu’s beating center, with his compelling, melancholic longings for family and for home.

R.M.F.C.

Club Hits
November 10, 2023

R.M.F.C. are a staple of Sydney music. There’s no beating around it. Buz Clatworthy is the brains. Club Hits is their debut album. A five-year collation of the Rock Music Fan Club, the album features some familiar classics that we would have heard time and time again, this time with titles– tracks like ‘Introduction’, ‘Spectrum’, ‘Rock Tune’, et cetera. Other new tracks are expansions of snippets you’ve heard before – a one-off in a live set, slipped in with no context. These are the menial riffs that tie together tracks, the ones that didn’t register as a song but a harmless bit in the break for tuning, drink-sipping, or laughing at a bandmate during the set by the Rock Music Fan Club. These songs are no secrets, and why should they be? Club Hits is the flourishing of these moments. Trudging through each track, R.M.F.C walk the line of rock and divinity – not in a religious sense but a hint at a prophetic genius that could help us find our way towards an optimistic future, strengthened and fortified. The tongue-in-cheek-ness of having an abbreviated band name is a gag that doesn’t escape them – R.M.F.C. are not just a Rock Music Fan Club, but Finesse Club, Football Club, and Freak Club too. Club Hits is the natural progression of the rock canon. That it’s a 2023 release makes you sit in disbelief, for the simple reason that we’re so used to observing this level of quality at decades’ distance but how lucky we are to live in it.

 

Tkay Maidza

Sweet Justice
November 3, 2023

Sweet Justice is the assured sophomore record from Tkay Maidza. It’s a showcase of Tkay’s dual strength as a songwriter and rapper;  gritty, hard-hitting bangers sharing the stage with slinking, neo-soul tinged RnB. Sweet Justice also leans into a Soulection-esque bounciness that carries the record through its many sonic deviations. In a way, it feels as though Tkay is picking up the baton from the pioneers of the genre (Kaytranada himself is featured on the record), and breathing new, dynamic life into it.

 

The album also feels like a culmination of the ideas and sounds Tkay explored across her Last Year Was Weird EPs. The series dealt with the turbulence of both the world around her, and her own complex personal relationships. Sweet Justice is the clear-eyed resolution of that turmoil, an ode to finding new clarity of what relationships and values are important, and striking a confident new path forward. A statement piece for her career thus far, Sweet Justice may just prove to be a launching pad for Tkay Maidza’s path towards superstardom.

 

F'tang

Plot, thus
October 27, 2023

Released after a ten year hibernation, Plot, thus is the debut album from Sydney instrumental project F’Tang. Showcasing an impressive level of instrumental mastery, the project dips into and amalgamates the sounds of post-rock, midwest emo and math rock in a comfortable half an hour. On it, delicious licks of guitar fold over each other, washing and collapsing into calculated and careful rhythms, accented snares and gentle rides. Synths thoughtfully pad out each track, inviting listeners into a different soundscape, each time tinged with a different mood. Featuring a mixed lineup of artists from Loose Fit, Ted Danson with Wolves, Burlap and Ghost of Television, the record leaves little to be dissatisfied with– what there is is confident musicianship and a broad and delightful sound.

Sampha

Lahai
October 20, 2023

Lahai is the healing, careful and tender new album from London artist Sampha. Following his 2017 debut album Process, his signature sound evolves further on this new release. For Sampha, the piano becomes a percussive vessel for unutterable confessions and introspection – a way of admitting to fears before moving forward through grief. This release blends notes of electro-soul and jazz, manipulating vocal tones and string soundscapes on top of vibrant and dazzling beats. Scattered with thoughtful contributions from artists including Yaeji, Yussef Dayes, and Lea Sen, the album is a testament to the broader influence of Sampha’s sound and collaborative touch. The album lingers on a feeling of optimism and closure, driving most songs in a euphoric sense of freedom that can only come from acceptance.

Mope City

Population: 4
October 13, 2023

Population: 4 is glum, overcast, and sepia-toned. Leaning into slow tempos and lethargic vocals, Sydney’s Mope City are the ones spinning the tape back to the simplicities of 90s slowcore and grunge. On Population: 4, tracks are blemished with small scratches, taps, dissonant strums and a tempo conducted by its own emotion, in a way that makes you feel as though the tracks were a product of accidentally hitting ‘record’. Lyrics are humble observations, mindless thoughts that echo honesty and autumnal introspection. Weighed down by muddy, static chords, clarity comes in moments of thinner texture, whining guitar bends and steady beats. On this release, Mope City is unassuming, candid and imperfect, collaging a sad and eerie intimacy that can only come from being the band rehearsing down the road.

Loraine James

Gentle Confrontation
October 6, 2023

Loraine James says her new album Gentle Confrontation is music she would like to have made as a teenager. Naturally, it’s influenced by the emotion of your adolescent obsessions – math rock and emo electronic among them. It opens with its namesake – a lavish texture of strings, undercut by a skittering mesh of the analog and the synthesised. It encapsulates what the UK experimental musician has long defined her creativity with: an uncanny ability to harness IDM glitch aesthetics to tell a story. Never more than on this album especially, where James vocally steps into the light, offering vulnerable grapplings with emotion. Driven by a sense of improvisational jazz, the album then stays true to James’ strength – a freeform approach to club-ready IDM, RnB, and ambient. As much as Loraine James expresses the inscrutability of emotion, so too is listening to this album. Gentle Confrontation is unpredictable and absolutely compelling.

yeule

softscars
September 29, 2023

softscars is yeule’s lush, introspective, and melancholic ode to themselves. The album gels together in sounds of fuzz guitars, static, and synths in the most beautiful rushes and driving licks. Shifting focus from glitch to grunge, the release remains glossy and at times, sheer, taking cues from soft bedroom pop DIY in fleeting doses. Per the title of the album yeule proves themselves to be as tender as ever, peeling themselves back in acoustic strums, lowercase tracks titles and lonesome reverb that echoe even the most hushed confessions –  the post-human ghost within the machine. The album is expansive, and continues yeule’s dip into a cyber realm grounded in reality and nostalgia.