Album of the Week
May 29, 2020
A record compelled to speak with truth and poise, Nyaaringu is the debut full-length from Central Queensland singer-songwriter Miiesha. Compiling her previous singles and new material into one, her debut collection shows the fullness of her lush style, combining the gospel influences of her childhood with hip hop and spoken word poetry, the rich, velvety smoothness of 90s R&B and the fragmented electronica of her avant-pop contemporaries. Threaded through with quiet, poignant interludes from her grandmother, Nyaaringu draws on family, story-telling and the passing down of knowledge to chronicle Miiesha’s life as a proud Pitjantjatjara and Torres Strait Islander woman from the small community of Woorabinda to a rising star of Melbourne’s bustling music scene. Taking its title from the Pitjantjatjara word for “what happened”, Nyaaringu presents a vision of history that is in constant conversation with itself, past, present and future all informing one another. Across her ambitious debut, Miiesha speaks to themes of intergenerational trauma, selfhood, community, truth-telling, survival, mass incarceration, media portrayals of First Nations peoples and the ongoing realities of colonialism in Australia. In doing so, she establishes herself as one of Australian music’s most vital new voices.
Pray For Party Dozen
May 22, 2020
Fervent, intense and crushing, Sydney duo Party Dozen stare deeper into the void of their abrasive industrial art-punk with their second record, Pray For Party Dozen. The improv-based musical partnership of saxophonist Kristy Tickle and Jonathan Boulet, Party Dozen build compositions that are utterly unhinged and technically mesmerising at the same time, with Boulet’s unrelenting breakneck drums clashing against Tickle’s visceral saxophone playing, mashed, processed guitars and sweeping synths. A vortex of animalistic energy, chaos gradually materialises into form on Party Dozen’s second LP before dissolving into anarchy once again. Overwhelming with their ability to suck everything in sight into their onslaught of sound, the duo shape-shift through a dizzying array of rock subgenres, from stoner doom, Krautrock, math rock, downtempo ambient and rave-ready electro-punk, never sure of what final form their tracks will take. Rhythmic, primal and energised by a frenzied confidence, Pray For Party Dozen carries you away with the devotion and zeal of a newly indoctrinated cult member, the mark of a group that sound unlike anyone else right now.
May 15, 2020
Moses Sumney defies boundaries and classification on his fearlessly bold second record, Græ. Across the sprawling, ambitious double LP, Sumney indulges in every whim of his singular musical palette, veering between visceral, avant-garde indie rock, orchestral jazz-pop, spiritual, folk-inflected soul, haunting, minimal electronica and spoken word. Elegant and antagonistic, his second full-length is energised by a defiant, audacious spirit, containing both ornate, maximalist bombast and sparse, shapeless reveries, carried always by Sumney’s angelic falsetto. Exploring the binaries that society imposes on individuals, Græ deconstructs and rejects ideas of gender, genre and race from within. Telling stories of heartbreak and how his individuality collides with a misunderstanding outside world, his second LP lyricism maps his journey from isolation to acceptance of his identity. Moses Sumney contains multitudes. He insists on his right to be seen in all of his polymorphic brilliance. And on Græ, he finds a musical language that embodies that complexity and moves beyond archaic binaries.
Carn the Boogers
May 8, 2020
Melburnian left-field instrumental funk outfit Karate Boogaloo arrive with their debut full-length, Carn the Boogers. Recorded live-to-tape in the group’s Collingwood studio and entirely self-produced, Carn the Boogers captures the group’s unconventional cinematic, break-heavy interpretation of funk. Combining elements of library music, deep funk, gritty soul and instrumental hip hop, Karate Boogaloo’s debut is a lived-in record that balances tight musicianship with casual, impromptu chemistry, the foursome proving themselves equally adept at cutting through with their percussive precision and razor-sharp playing as they are at carrying you away across exploratory grooves and unorthodox arrangements. Named for the vehement catch-cry that’s developed amongst their loyal live fanbase, their debut collection of original arrangements follows on from a series of mixtapes that reworked well-known hip hop samples and 80’s anthems into their uniquely suburban, zany perspective of the funk genre. It’s this idiosyncratic sense of taste and style, along with the group’s ever-present off-kilter humour, that’s differentiated Karate Boogaloo amidst Melbourne’s burgeoning jazz and soul scenes. On Carn the Boogers, they remind us of the charms to be found in always bending the rules and colouring outside the lines.
May 1, 2020
Wake UP! Is the debut record from LA-based, Melbourne-born singer-songwriter Hazel English. Fizzing with rich, outsized melodies and carried by English’s aura of airy grace, her debut full-length brings a brighter and more refined sheen to her established sound, an out-of-time synthesis that lingers somewhere between Laurel Canyon folk, mystical dream pop and modern indie. Inspired by the likes of Jefferson Airplane and Revolver-era Beatles, Wake UP! is an album draped in the sun-drenched aesthetics of the 1960s, full of slowly sweeping arrangements, playfully dreamy instrumentation and hooks that burrow their way into your memory, as if they’ve always existed. But English’s lyricism, which moves between concise honesty and poetic surrealism, grounds Wake UP! very much in our present, keeping it from ever falling into idealised revivalism or retro worship. Grappling with themes of self-image, authenticity, power dynamics in interpersonal relationships and the constant spectacle of living in a social media-saturated world, Hazel English’s debut is a reminder to be more mindful, more self-aware and kinder to ourselves.
Fetch the Bolt Cutters
April 24, 2020
Fiona Apple remakes music in her own image on her extraordinary fifth full-length record, Fetch the Bolt Cutters. Recorded entirely within her Venice Beach home, cabin fever percolates the raw, percussive sound of her eerily prescient fifth LP as Apple builds makeshift orchestras out of her surroundings. Across the record, she switches up tempos, time signatures and keys with a fearless urgency, creating bold experiments in song craft that contain almost no recognisable pop forms. Adhering to a logic that only she herself could articulate, the songs become a wild, impassioned attempt to mirror the chaos flying around in her brain. Lyrically, she details the multitude of ways that societal systems injure women and calls out the endless ways men find to fail them, with precise vignettes and conversational poeticism. It’s music which rages against conformity, the rules of songwriting and the patriarchy, not just through the deeply-felt stories she tells of young women growing up beneath these rules, but in every fibre of its being. Fetch the Bolt Cutters sounds as though it could collapse at any moment. Miraculously, it doesn’t. Amidst the record’s eccentricities, Apple produces an album which is compulsively listenable yet allergic to easy listening, full of catchy melodic hooks that gradually reveal themselves to you over time. Intense, claustrophobic, humourous, angry, heartbreakingly vulnerable, disarmingly joyous and profoundly human: Fiona Apple’s fifth album is all these things. Above all, Fetch the Bolt Cutters is a liberatory album, a refusal to be silenced anymore, an urgent desire to be heard.
April 17, 2020
Melbourne producer Roza Terenzi arrives with her futuristic and bombastic debut album, Modern Bliss. Following releases on Butter Sessions, Salt Mines, Dekmantel and more, Roza Terenzi’s first LP completes her transition from mainstay of the Australian electronic scene to ascendant star of the global underground. Transplanting the all-encompassing, genre-fluid approach of her immense DJ sets to the canvas of a full-length record, Modern Bliss is a playful yet cohesive collection that showcases Roza’s agility as a producer. Along the way, it journeys through hypnotic prog house, extraterrestrial techno and lush breakbeats amid Terenzi’s constant tinkering with unconventional combinations of sound. Simultaneously dreamy and driving, cerebral and physical, hard and soft, Modern Bliss is a study in contrasts, locating the commonalities between opposites through sound, texture and rhythm. An ethereal electronic universe suffused by her technicolour atmosphere, Modern Bliss is the most fully realised release from Roza Terenzi to date, a summary of the many diverse and evolving sides to one of Australia’s most exciting producers
WHAT WE DREW 우리가 그려왔던
April 10, 2020
Arriving in the midst of a global crisis, WHAT WE DREW 우리가 그려왔던, the first full-length project from Korean-American producer Yaeji, is a timely ode to the blisses of community and the simple joys of domestic life. Carried along by a hazy wistfulness and the diffuse energy of a mixtape, WHAT WE DREW 우리가 그려왔던 straddles the lines between dream pop, woozy hip hop and spacious, DIY house, making some surprising detours from Yaeji’s signature introverted club music into industrial, breakbeat and ambient. With its richly textured bed of chilled-out beats, sparkling melodies, Yaeji’s cozy production style and her ASMR-esque bilingual vocals, WHAT WE DREW 우리가 그려왔던 is more insular and inward-looking than her previous releases, adopting a diaristic quality that spotlights the emotionality of her songwriting. For Yaeji, making music has always been a deeply social and therapeutic exercise, and, with the help of a hand-selected cast of collaborators that reflect the communities she’s built in New York and beyond, she uses these moments of connection to counterbalance the mixtape’s moments of anxiety and loneliness, making the former all the sweeter. Ultimately, it’s Yaeji’s appreciation of community that distinguishes her debut mixtape from other prescribed self-isolation listening during this time. WHAT WE DREW 우리가 그려왔던 is her celebration of all the small pleasures we used to take for granted: family, friendship, routine.
Heaven to a Tortured Mind
April 3, 2020
Yves Tumor reintroduces themselves on their jarring and immediate fourth record, Heaven to a Troubled Mind. Stripping away the avant-garde pandemonium of their earlier work, Yves Tumor’s latest form is the most accessible incarnation of their persona yet, revealing a mercurial genius who buries brilliant pop songs beneath ever-increasing sonic tumults. With boundless creative imagination, Yves Tumor channels blues, funk and R&B into psychedelic soul and rock anthems for the chaos of the 21st century. For all its musical bedlam, though, Heaven to a Tortured Mind is a richly melodic and punchily concise record, adorned with resplendent guitar solos, dazzling brass sections and immaculate grooves. Swaying and raging, it’s the sound of pop history refracted through a contemporary mindset, earning comparisons to Bowie, Parliament or Funkadelic at their most revolutionary and whacked-out, pushing rock music to apocalyptic extremes. Emotionally and sonically, Yves Tumour’s fourth LP rarely lets up, a viscerally thrilling experience that compulsively defies expectations at every turn. In a career marked by transformation, Heaven to a Tortured Mind is their most audacious release yet, a strident move to the middle that never sounds like a compromise.
March 27, 2020
Snowy Band deliver their spacious and meditative debut, Audio Commentary. After spending the better part of a decade crafting some of the most beloved music in the Melbourne indie scene as a member of The Ocean Party and No Local, multi-instrumentalist songwriter Liam Halliwell begins afresh with his self-recorded and self-produced new project. To assist, he assembles a line-up of longtime friends and collaborators, including Emma Russack, Nat Pavlovic of Dianas and Dylan Young of Way Dynamic. The songs on Audio Commentary allow the foursome to indulge themselves in the comfort of their familiarity, flitting between tight pop structures and more protracted, exploratory passages with ease, building space for the various talents of each individual member to breathe. With swirling, subdued guitars, poignant melodies and hushed, interweaving vocals, it feels as though you’re looking in on something intensely private, as Halliwell’s sincere lyrical content touches on love, grief and the passing of time. Audio Commentary is one of those albums where every element is placed exactly where it belongs, its restrained and delicate pastoral folk counterbalanced by the strength of the songwriting. Intricate without ever feeling overwhelming, Snowy Band’s sprawling arrangements unfold elegantly and captivatingly before you, crafting a debut record that seemingly exists outside of place and time.