Album of the Week

death's dynamic shroud & galen tipton

You Like Music
May 24, 2024

You Like Music is a controlled explosion, a collision between two artists both inspired by the possibilities of technology and the internet for modern music making. death’s dynamic shroud, with their hauntological, nostalgic vaporwave, and galen tipton’s distinctly tactile bubblegum bass combine for a supremely maximalist experiment. The title could be read almost as a teasing prompt – “Oh, you like music? Well here you f**king go!”

It’s foot on the gas from the very start, an ultimate auditory overload of chattering samples, skirting synths, and an array of rubbery squelch-adjacent sounds. The latter are likely directly from galen tipton, who has a history of exploring hyper-physical ‘brain scratch’ textures (in 2022 they released an album designed to be played with your phone inside your mouth). 

The overwhelmingness of You Like Music could easily prove to be too much – giddily though, it’s anchored with a propulsive sense of rhythm. It’s the fringes of the internet meeting the peak time of the club. These songs kick hard: chopped vocal samples flutter alongside breakneck jersey club, hopeful synths stomp alongside kickdrums that are as full and tall as the sky.

The second half of the album builds on that sense of possibility, of high drama. It corresponds to the genuine wonder in death dynamic shroud’s music, transcending the (at times) hopeless nostalgia of vaporwave to instead suggest something beyond, towards new utopias. It’s an ethos of paradigm shifting that the band takes even with regard to the distribution of their work. You Like Music was originally available exclusively as part of a monthly mixtape club shared with the bands fans, an attempt to foster genuine community and non- transactional/platform-capitalism-defined musical commerce.

For all its technical brilliance and cheeky obtuseness, You Like Music works because it understands why we do like music. It’s a physical experience, an emotional experience – best made with others, best shared with others; whether on the dancefloor, over the internet (or on the radio! 🤭)

00_

May 17, 2024

The new 00_ is a whirlwind, fitting to the symbol that represents the album. ∞ is their first extended release since their debut Ca\yptra, and with it, 00_ certainly have a way of making me more familiar with my keyboard and question my pronunciation. Poking fun, though they care very little in reality.

This sophomore release is everything to love about DIY experimental sound – guitars, strings, melancholic moments and abrupt, unexpected thrashes – as I stated, a whirlwind. The album encapsulates a sense of impulsivity. It is non-conformist and tumultuous in every sense of the word – whining, tossing, twisting, turning. The way in which each song rolls into one another errs on improvisational, an immediate expression that collapses into the next and onwards. In fleeting sections of the album, everything locks together in a groove –like on the latter half of ‘Fainting at a Punk Squat’ and ‘Thin-film interference.’ 

00_ are exceptional at instrumentalising vocals, accenting and articulating vowels, verbally dotting “i”s and crossing “t”s, with the effect of making lyrics feel the most alive. In the latter half of the album, 00_ dabble in the electronic. On singles ‘Bath Water Baby’ and ‘Ivy (crystallised damage)’ lazy drawls and delays echo as a spectre of their earlier sound., After all this, I’m not sure I really know what ∞ is about – regardless, 00_ raise a beautiful ruckus.

Milan Ring

Mangos
May 10, 2024

Mangos is a crowning moment for Sydney RnB, and one that arrives with the triumph of an artist that has long been a master of her craft. Milan Ring has been undeniably woven into the fabric of this city, and so FBi sounds the way it does because of her. The trajectory of being named Independent Artist of the Week in 2019 to winning the SMAC Award for Best Live Act in 2021 shows how much her music has meant to this city. This connection continues with Mangos, an outpouring of emotion. 

It’s an album grounded in her trademark instrumentation – percussive in a way that’s organic, melodic in a way that’s euphoric, every element injected with emotion. It elicits an intimacy that feels as if Milan was playing the record for you by candlelight in her home. There are songs grounded in forthright declarations of love, liminal instrumental moments afloat with spoken word recordings, flirtatious groove-driven numbers, and of course, Milan Ring guitar lines – soaring. You need only recall the beautifully expansive pink sky backgrounding Milan’s street stage set at FBi Turns 20, the sun setting on a perfect day, but forever rising for a Sydney artist whose music is made for the world.  

 

Bladee

Cold Visions
May 3, 2024

If anyone is to make me believe in God, it’s Bladee. His latest album Cold Visions is a surprise album that isn’t a surprise at all; quite fitting really. It’s a final victory lap, an ode for all there is left when there’s nothing left at all, expelling every little terrible thought into a flickering nightmare, a plea for atonement.

The album plays like an infinite scroll, reference after reference, after reference after reference… punctured only by echoes of depression, anxiety, paranoia, overthinking but also thoughtless dissociation. Vapid comments that usually feel extraordinarily empty are shared in such a way they seem extraordinarily profound. At some point, Bladee’s collaging of designer brands begins to exceed my vocabulary. G-Shock, Eastpak, Havianas, Prada Sport – that scrapes only the first half of the album.

Cold Visions is a blurring together of fleeting scenes, so you hear everything but remember nothing. Though a second hour committed to the album reveals a little more by way of narrating a familiar doom-soaked human decay – high buying smurfs off eBay, sponsored video ads and YouTube Shorts (‘ONLY GOD IS MADE PERFECT’), McDonald’s Happy Meals (‘SAD MEAL’), and cyclical isolation (“I don’t like people, I really don’t like people”). Perhaps also a few moments of intertextuality weaved in; Blade (1998) samples, and lyrics about shopping in Gucci stores.

To make a one hour album split into thirty tracks is to bid farewell to traditional song structure, favouring tracks bleeding into one another, only marked by redeclarations of “cold vision” echoing over rage beats, gritty mumbling, sweet samples, and soul-sinking hollow laughter. A minute passes and I’m already ten tracks deep, and peaking at the twentieth. Bladee’s back-and-forthing between sincerity and ludacris humour suspends Cold Visions in perfect uncertainty. Vocals, as tuned as they are tinged with an flawed off-centredness, aching for a little empathy in his one-liners. The production credits on the album are endless and, as expected, flawless – F1LTHY, Whitearmor, Yung Sherman, Skrillex all contribute, and the album is scattered with (multiple) verses from Yung Lean and members of Drain Gang.

Cold Visions is Bladee’s plunge of a cliff or leap of faith (two sides of the same coin), an unfaltering example of silly dry humour soaked in chilling fear. Bladee is entering Revelations, coping, grounded, either to ascend or to fall.

Still House Plants

If I don't make it, I love u
April 26, 2024

The cover art for If i don’t make it, i love u, the third record from London band Still House Plants, is somewhat amorphous. A rorschach-like blob of warm yellows, oranges and browns, it gives the impression, somehow, of moving, flowing outwards. It’s apt, because the songs it contains don’t always feel like songs, but more like sonic pulses; a jagged riff, a repeated drum pattern, a mantra-like phrase sent out across the canvas of the record. Carefully, patiently they’re built upon, until something closer to a “song” takes place, slowly unspooling itself.

But these songs never stay completely still. They take surprising left turns, slipping into uncertain trapdoors. The three members of Still House Plants sometimes bump and trip over each other – not messily, but almost deliberately. In these moments If i don’t make it, i love u feels closer to jazz than rock in spirit. Vocals, guitar and drums are all their own main character, telling their own story; combining in an interlocking, somehow congruent chaos. 

When viewed in full, back cover and all, that pulse-like cover art takes a more obvious shape: a heart. If i don’t make it, i love u is, yes, challenging, but also deeply sensitive. There’s an obvious beauty to singer Jess Hickie-Kallenbach’s voice. It’s soulful in the most literal sense of the word, as if she’s conjuring her entire body and soul; excavating both its deepest recesses and most immediate human thoughts. “I just want my friends to get me / I just want to be seen right.” But this beauty also manifests more subtly in David Kennedy’s hypnotic, heartbeat-like drumming and Finlay Clark’s quivering guitar: a minor chord often teetering forebodingly at the end of a longing riff.

It’s not so much that Still House Plants walk a line between aching love and anxiousness, but that the sum of these feelings is their constant. If i don’t make it, i love u is strange and at times confusing, but also warm and comforting. Ultimately, and most importantly, it evades real description. The music itself is its description. Like all great music, isn’t that the point?

1300

GEORGE
April 23, 2024

1300 need little introduction when it comes to their place in Sydney music. Since the release of their earliest singles ‘Brr’, ‘No Caller ID’ and ‘Smashmouth’ in 2021, and their Foreign Language mixtape in 2022, their latest mixtape GEORGE follows in natural progression and marks their first full release since signing to Eastern Margins. Three years has done a lot for the five-piece – Rakoh, Nerdie, Goyo, DALI HART, and pokari. sweat – but the mixtape offers everything you would expect from a perfect 1300 classic: unrelenting, furious energy and production that seeks to give a taste of every genre.

At just under half an hour, GEORGE is a tongue-in-cheek tape that offers a bit more edge than past releases and a release that keeps you catching your breath. Each track offers a new beat and genre, spinning variations of hip-hop, industrial and trap at each drop and featuring talents of sokodomo, EK, Easymind, and oddeen. The singles – ‘Ape Shit’, ‘GANTZ’ and ‘Lalaland’ – are now contextualised by their surrounding songs: ‘Follow Me’ is a slick, darker synth driven track, providing steady repetition – a welcome break from an exhilarating start. ‘Rock Lee’ leans into an earlier sound, grounding the mixtape firmly as a 1300 release. Spinning industrial, trap and K-pop is nothing new for the group however ‘Levitate’ stands as a remarkable highlight on GEORGE. Adding distorted, thrashing kickdrums to the mix, the track leans into gabber to take the tape through to an all-or-nothing, euphoric finish. 1300 are, at once, both a staple of hip-hop and a glimpse into its genre-bending future.

 

Nia Archives

Silence Is Loud
April 12, 2024

On Nia Archives’ debut album, Silence is Loud, she’s taking cues from the past – Britpop, punk, pop artists, and Amy Winehouse, to name a few. The album art itself – close up portrait, bright lids, union jack grills peeking out from behind glossed lips – puts a face to jungle music in a way it hasn’t had in a very long time. 

Despite this being her first full release, Nia Archives has long been one to watch. It’s been a steady incline for the Bradford artist since the release of her debut track ‘Sober Feels’ and the support it garnered over lockdown. Since then, she’s openly shaped dance and electronic music appreciation on an institutional level with MOBO awards, released two exceptionally-received EPs and, most recently, has added opening for Beyonce as one of her accolades. There’s much to love.

Opening Silence is Loud is its title track: a frantic energy of breakbeats with a note of loneliness makes its entry and is carried throughout the record. Tracks like ‘Cards On The Table’ and ‘Out of Options’ are earnest and easy-going surprises, marrying poppy acoustic guitar and piano progressions with relentless breaks that push and pull at the same time. Nia’s vocals are bright, almost scatting lightly over breaks and sometimes indulging in more soulful harmonies. Production remains exceptional across the album. Sounds ranging from synths, guitars, vocal lines, and every percussion remain articulate, never hidden. 

Silence is Loud is timeless and a testament to the impact Nia Archives is having and has already had over the past four years; an incredibly promising debut album.

GAUCI

Growing Pains
April 5, 2024

GAUCI is a spectacle. The band consists of Antonia Gauci, Grammy-nominated producer who has worked with the likes of Troye Sivan, 700 Feel and Kesha, David Gauci, member of Flowertruck and formerly Hatchy and finally, Felix Lush who’s written with JamesJamesJames and Brooke Candy. Between the trio’s variety of production and live experience, they leave little to no room for flaws. They first released their debut disco track ‘Hurry’ in 2016 – an unsurprisingly strong song, incredibly produced and thoughtfully written. 

GAUCI’s background in disco has aided them well in their transition into the vastness of indie electronic pop. On their debut mixtape Growing Pains, the trio balance layered sonic textures without muddying the clarity that makes pop so delectable. Letting go of self-doubt, fears, loss and longing are some of the few themes that bleed across tracks. On Growing Pains, beautiful production elevates the telling of a familiar coming-of-age tale. The mixtape follows singles ‘Growing Up’ and ‘Come Around’, which introduced us to this  new sleek, sweet and synth-laden sound, each track expanding upon and simultaneously stripping as the mixtape progresses. The vocals are an easy highlight of the album, phasing between gentle echos and perfectly harmonised, powerful choruses. Growing Pains revives the charm of pop ballads from a decade ago. Dipping deep into the pot of honey sweet pop hooks, GAUCI have, for now, retired Italo disco for lovable and lush crystal clear pop. And they do it so well. 

T Breezy & Walkerboy

Souths Most Wanted
March 29, 2024

There’s a reason T Breezy and Walkerboy’s debut mixtape has been long anticipated. From the very beginning, the Gamilaraay rappers have done things differently, ignoring musical trends and carving their own path. It marked a space in local hip-hop that’s since not been filled until now. Souths Most Wanted is their debut collaborative mixtape, an ode to their home, the ‘Sapphire City’ of Inverell.

The mixtape is both a landmark release and a full circle moment. It’s released through influential Sydney label TRACKWORK, now well-known for launching artists such as VV Pete, BAYANG (tha Bushranger) and Sevy. But the label’s first release came in 2019, with T Breezy’s debut EP 2360, made in closer collaboration with label-head and producer Utility.

Souths Most Wanted continues along this ground first paved back in 2019, a crisp blend of trap and drill – but also uniquely incorporates the sampling, booming bass and cowbells of Memphis hip-hop.

It’s a gritty but sonically lush canvas for both rappers to explore; T Breezy’s laidback but pointed recollections perfectly balancing Walkerboy’s cascading, rapid- fire flow. Both explore ideas of authenticity and loyalty- to close friends, and to a sense of place, of home. And this is Souths Most Wanted summed up – totally genuine, and effortlessly original.

Itchy and the Nits

The Worst Of
March 22, 2024

The Worst Of opens with a ‘Theme Song’ – “Itchy and the Nits! Itchy and the Nits! Scratch your head and scratch your bits!” – as if it were the opening to a scrappily animated, not so child friendly cartoon. It’s the kind of tongue-in-cheek irreverence that punctures the catchy lyricism and chomping power chords of the Sydney band’s debut album.

Bethany, Eva, and Cin dance laps around a crowd, around their instruments, and around each other, playfully back and forthing as if they were singing over a car stereo with the windows down. You only need to see the vibrancy of their cover art to piece together their love of Nikki & The Corvettes, invoking the dawn of late 70s powerpop. 

It adds a brightness to the burgeoning DIY scene of Sydney, where bands burst out of the garage and onto bandroom floors across the city. The Worst Of captures the liveness of these shows in a polished (as polished as DIY punk can get), re-recording of seven tracks we already loved as demos, alongside a handful of new favourites. It’s rat girl summer surf punk, delivered with a dry, call-it-how-you-see-it joy; odes to sneaking past $10 door charges on Enmore Road and flicking away boring, brickheaded dudes. Oh, and there’s like three songs about different types of tiny insect parasites.