Album of the Week
Broken Hearts & Beauty Sleep
June 18, 2021
Visionary rapper and performance artist Mykki Blanco returns with their audacious new album, Broken Hearts & Beauty Sleep.
With New York producer FaltyDL jumping on production duties, Broken Hearts & Beauty Sleep sees Mykki continue to push the bounds of hip-hop, with nods to jazz, house, punk and even bossa-nova and showtunes peppered throughout.
The record boasts collaborations with the likes of Big Freedia, Jamila Woods and Blood Orange but Mykki‘s voice and style remains singular. From loneliness to flirtation, grief to catharsis, Blanco balances vulnerability and reflectiveness with their trademark swagger.
Broken Hearts & Beauty Sleep marks a new chapter for Mykki Blanco, showcasing their refined artistic vision and sound, while retaining all the vibrancy and fun that they have come to be recognized for.
June 11, 2021
Sunny guitars, chirpy flute melodies and ensemble vocals adorn Alasitas, the newest album from Sydney oddballs Shrapnel. A warm and weird redux of tripped-out optimism.
Initially starting in 2013 as the bedroom project of Sam Wilkinson (Day Ravies, Mope City, and Beef Jerk), over the last decade Shrapnel have evolved into a fully fledged six-piece band.
Shrapnel’s new endeavour sounds more vivid and colourful than ever before. Alasitas marks an aesthetic shift for the band, venturing into decidedly more psychedelic territory with picked guitar riffs and modal melodies underscored by fuzz, hazy vocals and a whimsical woodwind section.
A distinct move away from the looser and louder punk sounds explored in their previous release ‘Wax World 5’, Shrapnel’s more meandering and expansive new direction on Alasitas leads us through extended instrumental segments into a hypnotic sense of freedom.
June 4, 2021
Japanese Breakfast returns with her third full-length release Jubilee, a distinctly joyful album. Where her first two albums charted more melancholy ground – reflections on mortality, her mother’s failing health and eventually grief – this album brings a new found optimism. In her own words, hinging on the “pure, unadulterated joy of creation”. Having released her memoir ‘Crying In H Mart’ in April 2021, which tells of her journey to connect with her Korean heritage while processing the loss of her mother, this album acts almost as an accompaniment to the book. Soundtracking her search for contentment, with washed-out guitars, disco inspired synthscapes and sweeping orchestral arrangements. Japanese Breakfast’s path to happiness is a relatable and complex one. Jubilee showcases an artist that is not afraid to confront her own darkness and vulnerability in order to eventually embrace joy.
Good Thing They Ripped Up The Carpet
May 28, 2021
Melbourne’s EXEK return with their new album Good Thing They Ripped Up The Carpet, a disorienting and entrancing new iteration of the band’s unique sound. On this, their fourth LP, the band continue to captivate through their hallmark blend of post-punk, dub and krautrock atmospheres; filled with strange echoes, juddering feedback, ephemeral samples and melodically compelling guitar parts. Released via Lulu’s Sonic Disc Club – the new imprint from iconic Melbourne underground record store Lulu’s – Good Thing They Ripped Up The Carpet is an album in two parts. Part A comprised of material written and recorded over the course of 2020, with Part B made up of re-interpreted EXEK material from past releases.
Peppered with the absurdist observations, wry humour and nonchalant drawl of singer Albert Wolski, EXEK’s new LP further cements their place as one of the most eccentric and exciting acts in Australian punk.
Erika de Casier
May 21, 2021
Erika de Casier returns with her signature smooth-as-silk RnB on her second studio album, Sensational. Leaving behind the sweet naivety of her widely acclaimed 2019 debut Essentials, de Casier brings a moodier maturity to Sensational, while retaining her hushed vocals and masterful pop melodies. The charm of de Casier’s delivery lies in her evocative, tongue-in-cheek lyrics – painting a portrait of an empowered young woman navigating the often-toxic dynamics of modern dating.
Melding 90s and 00s pop production with a current techno and ambient sensibility, Sensational sees Erika de Casier pluck inspiration from all over, ultimately transforming it into something completely her own.
Bright Green Field
May 14, 2021
British five piece Squid deliver a topsy turvy ride on their debut album Bright Green Hills, conjuring both real and imagined worlds through their eclectic musical stylings. Amongst a fanfare of jazz horns, unearthly medieval instruments, intricate guitar riffs, skipping percussion, church bells, sounds from honeybees and suspended microphones swinging around a room of amps, the band’s boundless sense of creativity is encapsulated in a sound that is jaunty and capriciously experimental. Arguably the band’s most notable feature is lead singer Ollie Judge’s wildly inflected vocals – mostly spoken, sometimes barked, but sometimes sliding up an octave mid phrase, creating an unpredictable and cheeky sense of unhinged narration. Bright Green Hills draws on each corner of the band’s shared musical history, pulling from their formative passion for ambient and jazz on the atmospheric drones of ‘Boy Racer’ and the propulsive, hypnotic krautrock of ‘Paddling’’s chunky drum machines and synths. Steering clear of the gloom-ridden fervour of other British post punk contemporaries, Squid instead paint a more exuberant and frolicking sense of their ‘imaginary cityscape’ and ‘the places, events and architecture that exist within it’, imbuing their debut LP with a push-pull flow energy that ramps up as easily as it dissipates. Despite their often cynical themes, and tendency towards ferocious delivery, the sound of Squid is ultimately an uplifting expressive statement, making for an exhilarating listening experience throughout Bright Green Field.
May 7, 2021
Abrasive and disorienting, Melbourne trio Too Birds channel a headbanging energy with a dissonant blend of influences in their second album together, Melbourne 2. Comprised of rapper-vocalists Teether and Realname, and producer Mr Society, the trio have been collaborating since they emerged in 2016 with their debut mixtape, Where My Jacket, helping to explore and expand the forefronts of heavy, experimental hip hop in Australia through their joint record label and collective, X Amount Records. Melbourne 2 continues to push these bounds, dialing up the cacophonic dissonance, pounding electronics, filtered vocals and distinctive, twisted rapping. Filled with grinding low frequency bass and jarringly chopped samples, the production of Melbourne 2 looms over the horizon like an imposing vortex of sound, blurring industrial electronic and trap-inflected hip hop with metal and noise as it moves closer and closer, inevitably swallowing you up. With Melbourne 2, Too Birds create their own world of chaos and originality from the depressed, apathetic existence of an urban wasteland, flexing an impassioned middle finger to all that is left in their incendiary wake.
April 30, 2021
Experimental electronic-pop auteur KUČKA arrives with her debut full-length, Wrestling. Self-written, -produced and -recorded, KUČKA’s debut LP binds together autobiographical stories on love, growth and journeying, circling around an informative period of personal transition, spanning love, conflict, sexuality and maturity. The result is an honest, disarmingly intimate depiction of KUČKA’s lived experiences set to a thrilling suite of electronic tracks that meld the futuristic, saccharine sheen of pop and R&B with the complex musicality of her jazz and new age influences, all while harboring and cultivating a mesmerising weirdness at their very centre. Evoking early-90’s Björk, Wrestling takes on the deeply personal nature of its subject matter with an insular and introspective bed of sound, where textural layers melt into one another, unpredictably catchy melodies prove impossible to pin down and KUČKA’s distinctive, crystalline vocals veil themselves within the mix. Propelled by dark-hued bassline grooves, glitchy samples and detuned synth tones are stitched together in atmospheric, ASMR-like arrangements with fractured and delicate digital percussion programmed into wild, intricate patterns. KUČKA’s Wrestling is not the birth of some newfound popstar nor is it the stepping-out of a previously shadowy collaborator. Instead, it’s a revelation of KUČKA’s full scope and breadth as an artist – in total control of her craft, ahead of any curve, and taking her place amongst the most essential artists working in the margins of pop music today.
April 23, 2021
London pianist and producer Alfa Mist returns to mine his multifaceted approach to contemporary jazz with an album that traces his musical origins to the current moment, his third studio LP Bring Backs. One of many breakout artists to emerge from the thriving, youthful UK jazz scene, Alfa Mist brings the community’s sense of hybridisation and spirited, expansive revitalisation to his latest LP, playing on the line between jazz and hip-hop, layering freewheeling improvisation atop low slung beats and intricate grooves. Recalling 90’s beatmakers J Dilla and Madlib, Bring Backs traces Alfa Mist’s musical upbringing, from his early days of self-taught sampling to his adolescence producing grime and hip hop in his bedroom to his maturation in jazz. Described as a “sonic trip”, Bring Backs reflects on Alfa Mist’s artistic development in uniquely satisfying manner, folding his influences together in a sort of constant, nonlinear conversation with ruminative, looping lo-fi beats and rap verses and spoken word fragments that float in and out of ethereal, transcendent improvisation. Weaving together warm threads of nostalgia, Alfa Mist’s reflective third record is an ode to resilience and growth, balancing his experimental stylistic fusion with an aching awareness of the traditions to which he is indebted.
April 16, 2021
Noise rock four-piece Repo Man stake their claim to the title of Sydney’s heaviest purveyors of all things dark and twisted with their voracious self-titled debut. Having established themselves in the local scene across an EP and slew of standalone singles, Repo Man’s debut full-length takes this embeddedness and enters their own name into the pantheon of fellow boundary-pushing Sydney rock outfits. Appropriately, the tracks on Repo Man share a lot with these luminaries – combining the teeth-bared, white-knuckled intensity of DEN and White Dog with the abrasiveness of Behind You and the skuzzy, riff-laden appeal of Zeahorse, swaying with the brooding, gothic atmospheres of Mere Women. A warped amalgam of grunge, industrial, post punk and art rock, Repo Man feels like a slow descent into the sludgy underbelly of a psyche. Guided by the entrancing, half-murmured vocals of lead singer Josh Duffy, Repo Man immerse you within this gloom – track by track, from head to toe, until this ominous, foreboding malaise overwhelms. Troweling through classic post-punk themes of isolation, alienation and misery, Repo Man exists at the edges, the line between base primality and civilised exterior, the margins of all that we see, hear and feel, those sensations that we know are there but would rather not acknowledge. Repo Man’s debut reflects that sediment back at us and urges us to give in, if only for the course of an LP.