Album of the Week
Drunk Tank Pink
January 15, 2021
Drunk Tank Pink is the frenzied and brooding second album from British post-punk rockers Shame. The title of the album comes from a bubble-gum colour discovered by scientists in the early 1980’s to have a soothing and physically weakening effect on people, leading many prison containment cells in the UK to be painted the colour. Band Frontman Charlie Steen wrote parts of an album while confining himself in a room that he nicknamed ‘The Womb’ with walls painted in the same shade, and decided to give the album the same name. But the name also works as a metaphor for the whole band’s mental state, in their struggle to readjust mentally and physically to confinement and their seemingly imprisoned existence after returning to London and a COVID lockdown compared with the whirlwind of almost two years of constant touring. It’s an album which is bristling with a restless energy, relying less on catchy melodies and more on crescendoing riffs and sharp agitated drums, punctuated by rhythmic changes. The band’s feeling of agitation spurred a deep dive of experimentation in their writing and production process, seeing them play with more unconventional guitar tunings and textured duelling parts. Drunk Tank Pink captures a dark feeling of agitation, and brooding moods which build and grow into explosive outbursts of reckless energy, marking an evolution since their raucous and critically acclaimed debut Songs of Praise, and sees the band moving towards a more viscerally moody sound, filled with charging riffs, energetically barked backing vocals and clattering drums. Displaying more refined and complex textures, an at times more funky sound and a wider array of vocal stylings, nonetheless the band still delivers with their signature exhilaration and gusto, capturing their spirit of youthful anxiety and rebellion.
December 18, 2020
Sydney electronic duo 700 Feel make an impressionable introduction with their self-titled debut album. On their debut project, the two-piece, comprised of housemates and childhood friends Jonny Reebok and Myspace Juan, bring channel the organic electronica of Four Tet and Nicolas Jaar’s ability to shift from ambient soundscapes to bass-heavy club edits and back again, threading together UK garage, hip hop, dub, and house with subtle shadings of footwork and jazz interspersed throughout. Raised in Ipswich and North Carolina respectively, the 700 Feel’s music is as much a product of global movement and cultural interconnectedness as they are themselves, evincing a deep appreciation for genres and styles which are rooted in the places and communities that birthed them. Pulling from London, Chicago, Kingston and Bristol, 700 Feel is ultimately a project grounded in the duo’s hometown of Western Sydney, an affectionate homage to the community and collectivism of the area, the exchanges of ideas, influences and cultures that could only happen there. Guided by feeling, 700 Feel reaches towards a blissful, transportative state of electronic music that’s as human as it is synthetic, equally at home in the headphones as it is in the club.
THE ANGEL YOU DON'T KNOW
December 11, 2020
THE ANGEL YOU DON’T KNOW is the vivid and wonderfully inventive debut record from Ghanian-born, New York-based singer Amaarae. From Accra to Atlanta to the Bronx, Amaarae distils her diasporic existence into an idiosyncratic fusion of sounds and styles that brings a newly American bent to the global-reaching Afropop landscape. Omnivorous in appetite, effortless in execution and limitless in scope, THE ANGEL YOU DON’T KNOW places Amaarae’s multidimensionality and her innate skills as a genre-blending innovator front and centre. Seemingly pulling from wherever she finds her latest inspiration, her debut LP threads together slinky, sultry R&B, free-spirited Alté, mainstream Afrobeats, rattling Southern trap, empowered punk and more. Guided by the distinctive, whisper-thin airiness of Amaarae’s cherubic voice and brimming with affirmations of sensuality, sexuality and confidence, THE ANGEL YOU DON’T KNOW is a dreamlike trip through the future of Afropop.
December 4, 2020
Just over a year after their second record, Sydney instrumental collective GODTET complete their self-titled triptych with the textural and sinorous GODTET III. Helmed by formidable multiinstrumentalist and producer Godriguez, the latest iteration of GODTET pieces together an ensemble of the finest talent drawn from Sydney’s new generation of funk, jazz and instrumental hip hop scenes. Where GODTET II saw the group strike a balance between improvised ensemble and beat production, GODTET III moves away from the sample-based foundations of its predecessor, entirely improvised and recorded live with no overdubs. The third and final installment in the GODTET trilogy is, appropriately then, a full-circle moment for the group, returning to the artistic methods that helped spawn their 2017 debut LP. In its spontaneous creativity, you can hear years of intensive, far-wandering playing, painstaking recording and prodigious gigging. Organic and radiant, you can feel the emotional bonds formed between members and the musical language shared by its disparate creators shining through. The final installment in the GODTET trilogy caps a period of time in which the group found and defined themselves, producing a standing achievement in Sydney music along the way.
Music is the Medicine
November 27, 2020
Ghana-born, Western Sydney-raised singer, producer and songwriter BLESSED deconstructs genre barriers and challenges the traditional ideals of a rockstar with his debut mixtape, Music is the Medicine. Channeling his peerless productivity and prolific past output into a more expansive format, Music is the Medicine applies BLESSED’s polymath approach to genre and style across a full-length canvas that threads together hip hop, punk rock, R&B and alt-pop. Evading labels and categorisations, what brings together the oft-undefinable Music is the Medicine is BLESSED’s guitar playing, which ranges from crunched-out, emo-inflected riffs to shifting, melancholic layers of atmospherics. Above all, BLESSED’s debut is his own paean to the uniquely redemptive powers of music, charting a journey of introspection, self-discovery and heartbreak as mediated through the solace and healing provided by art.
Caitlin Harnett & The Pony Boys
Late Night Essentials
November 20, 2020
Late Night Essentials is the aptly-named debut album from alt-country quartet, Caitlin Harnett & The Pony Boys. Having built up a rapturous following around their highly-buzzed-about, award-winning live show, Late Night Essentials captures the foursome in all their live glory, translating it into a full-length document recorded over a single day in the living room of producer, The Middle East’s Jordan Ireland. Following her 2014 solo LP, Late Night Essentials is Caitlin’s first album recorded alongside her backing band, The Pony Boys, who move with the intimate alchemy of a single, seamless unit, allowing their individual and collective talents to simultaneously shine through at any given moment. Folding notes of Americana and 70’s radio rock into their whisky-soaked alt-country, the four-piece evoke the oppressive, windless days and long, sticky nights of summertime with lush melodicism, soaring saxophones and twangy guitar licks. Coloured by a warm resiliency and an aching tenderness, Caitlin’s vocals cut through the band’s backdrop with a tactile sense of honesty and a slow-burning emotional acuity that consoles the heart while also pulling it apart, surveying regret, relationships and trying to find a way to a better you.
Send Them to Coventry
November 13, 2020
British-Gambian rapper Pa Salieu caps a breakout 2020 with his debut mixtape, Send Them to Coventry, confirming himself as UK rap’s brightest new star. Lurching between afroswing, dancehall and drill, Send Them to Coventry differentiates itself amidst a crowded field of UK rap through its own inventiveness and originality. Building bleak soundscapes of murky bass, ghostly synths and muted, minor-key dub, Pa Salieu’s debut shines a light on his interminably malleable voice, oscillating between understated flows, spirited dancehall toasts and a venomous, imposing bellow. Full of unsparing tales of life growing up in his maligned hometown of Coventry, Pa Salieu’s debut mixtape is devoid of the lush melodicism found in other afroswing releases, instead chasing an impression which is rawer and more visceral while just as infectious and anthemic.
Oneohtrix Point Never
Magic Oneohtrix Point Never
November 6, 2020
Onoehtrix Point Never surveys a decade-long career of entrancingly odd, beautifully challenging output with his latest full-length, Magic Oneohtrix Point Never. Structured to mimic the experience of listening to the radio from morning to night, Magic Oneohtrix Point Never sounds as if it’s constantly stuck between the dials, full of unstable tracks that are caught in an endless process of becoming and disintegrating. At the same time, this all-over-the-place album is Oneohtrix’s smoothest and most polished release to date. Executive produced by The Weeknd and featuring collaborations with Caroline Polachek, Arca and others, Magic… represents the high point of Oneohtrix’s long move towards more traditional song structures. Compressing all the eras of his career into one record, Magic Oneohtrix Point Never flits between vaporwave plunderphonics, warped R&B and unnerving cinematics, coloured by an opulent, exceedingly pretty palette of sounds that blur the line between fake and real. Threading his usual themes of nostalgia, memory and cultural taste with a more accessible spirit and a pervasive sense of melancholy, the ninth studio record from Oneohtrix Point Never showcases a remarkable talent for shaping the incomprehensible into something far more beautiful.
Lous and the Yakuza
October 30, 2020
Congolese-born, Brussels-based singer Lous and the Yakuza takes her place among a new wave of global popstars with her debut full-length, Gore. Referencing the bloodstained camp of horror movies, Gore distils a lifetime of pain and trauma – from Lous’ family fleeing a worn-torn Congo as a child to growing up in a violent Brussels neighbourhood to a period spent living homeless – with elegance and serenity, a testament to Marie-Pierra Kakoma’s continued survival. Produced entirely by El Guincho, the Spanish producer best known for his work on Rosalía’s breakthrough 2018 LP, El Mal Querer, Gore mixes Lous’ lace-like flows and hypnotic sense of melody with skittish trap beats and holy, reverential electronic arrangements. Her genreless, borderless sound reflects the international conditions of her upbringing, while her lyrics speak to the conditions that have shaped her life as a Black woman in modern Europe: colonialism, colourism and the contradictions of existing in between cultures.
Grew Inside the Water
October 27, 2020
Melbourne singer-songwriter Mimi Gilbert outs herself as one of Australian music’s best kept secrets with her debut full-length, Grew Inside the Water. Having toured with Angie McMahon, Nadia Reid, Julia Jacklin and others, Mimi Gilbert’s career has, until this point, been spent mostly in isolation, patiently honing her craft and recording tracks alone in her house. The songs on Grew Inside the Water shatter these walls of privacy, dissecting Gilbert’s life with gentle production, muted guitars and softly rumbling floor toms. A suite of delicate and spare folk ballads that channel the airiness of Laurel Canyon with the heartrending confessional lyricism of Adrianne Lenker, Grew Inside the Water is a remarkable debut record. Ultimately, the album lives out Mimi’s own process of thawing out, waking up to real pains and working to heal, forgive and grow again.