Album of the Week
April 23, 2018
Embroidered onto a pair of oversized overalls, two words caught the eye of Cosima Jaala, frontwoman of Melbourne collective, Jaala: “Junior Spirit”. The phrase was etched into her mind as she donned the outfit despite it’s size and continued to ruminate over the words, eventually evolving into a point of inspiration for the band’s 2nd full-length release, Joonya Spirit. The album sees the band having experienced a transformation, departing from the terrestrial prog sounds of 2015’s Hard Hold and launching into more cosmic territory; traversing a dreamscape that sparkles with technical sophistication while maintaining the erratic and playful songwriting style that has given Jaala such magnetic appeal. Joonya Spiritexhibits a band moving as a united force through turbulent space with a mischievous grin. In the words of Cosima Jaala herself “The Junior Spirit is the part of us that remains innocent, even when old in years and especially when wearing overalls that are too big.”
April 16, 2018
Isolation is the debut album from Colombian-American singer and producer Kali Uchis. After spending her childhood moving between Colombia and the United States, her family finally settled in Virginia. After a fight with her parents, Kali left home, living out of her car and couch surfing while finishing high school. Determined to be independent, she made money by making music videos, designing artwork for musicians and as a photographer, before releasing a mixtape of her own music which caught the attention of future collaborators including Snoop Dogg, Tyler, The Creator and Kaytranada. On Isolation, Kali reflects on her childhood, toxic relationships, her experience as a first-generation immigrant and the necessity of creating her own forms of escapism. Flanked by an impressive cast of co-writers and producers including Steve Lacy, Kevin Parker, Jorja Smith and Damon Albarn, the album sits loftily above a sea of contemporary RnB and Neo-Soul releases, emboldened by Kali Uchis’ lavish vocal delivery, inspired subject matter and uncompromising resolve. Isolation is a flawlessly constructed debut release from an artist that has made her commitment to the craft, the essence of her world.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra
Sex & Food
April 9, 2018
Recorded in a variety of locations ranging from a home studio in Portland to a traditional Vietnamese music studio in Hanoi, Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s fourth studio album Sex & Food is an eclectic collection of material that showcases the band reaching new heights with their craft. Although the inspiration behind Sex & Food may not be as easily decipherable as it’s predecessor Multi Love, frontman Ruban Nielson guides us through a series of vignettes that reflect on global politics, the complexities of modern life and love; trading in his characteristically candid style for a tone of melancholic observation. Musically the album sees Unknown Mortal Orchestra retain the groove-driven warmth that has become their hallmark sound, carving it out with deeper clarity and harmonic complexity, leaving behind their days of lo-fi home recordings without losing their endearingly raw charm. Sex and Food is an album galvanised by the indulgences and pitfalls of the world, a fitting soundtrack for a world in flux that encourages us not to stall in the face of challenges, but find pleasure in our own resolve.
April 2, 2018
Having just landed back on home soil from a recent stint at SXSW, Sydney indie 5-piece Big White have stepped out with their second full-length release, Street Talk. Emerging from a dilapidated former doctor’s surgery turned artistic hub in Dulwich Hill back in 2014, Big White quickly grew into a fruitful musical team with an unstoppable DIY attitude and reputation for passionate and boisterous live shows. The seeds for Street Talk were planted while the band embarked on a 9 week self-funded world tour last year, spending large reflective stints on the open road, making new best friends out of strangers, winning over new audiences and somehow managing to fit in recording sessions in Berlin, LA and New York along the way. After completing the album in a studio amongst a stringybark forest in country NSW, Big White have gifted us with an album that, despite its vast origin story, does not fall into introspection, rather sweeping us up in an exuberant and captivating frenzy of songs that document the growth of prolific collective of artists.
March 26, 2018
Jarrow is the earnest and offbeat alias of Melbourne based multi-instrumentalist, Dan Oke. Comprised of equal parts candid observation, self-deprecating wit and astute social critique, Jarrow’s second album Expensive Hugs is packed with relatable stories of mundane disappointment, young adult confusion and shoulder-shrugging optimism. Jarrow’s signature storytelling style finds a sympathetic home amongst the soundscapes of Expensive Hugs. His music varies as widely as its subject matter – at times locking into steady sophisticated Kraut-style grooves, at other times awash in a whirlwind of prickly Garage Rock guitar tones – all the while wrapped in a sweet and undeniably well-crafted pop sensibility. Expensive Hugs is the auditory equivalent of a packet of Mega-Sour Warheads; sharp, biting, colourful and strangely addictive.
March 19, 2018
After turning away from their more traditional classical music and theatre backgrounds, Norwegian duo Smerz relocated to Copenhagen and shifted their attention to electronic music production. Armed with a fresh approach to songwriting and a love for R&B, Footwork and Techno, the duo emerged with a distinctive style that is confidently on display in this, their second release, Have Fun. Throughout Have Fun, Smerz meld obtuse percussive elements and sparse synthscapes with field recordings and a hooky yet mellow vocal style that is as apathetic as it is self-aware. The result is a series of songs that sit as comfortably amongst contemporary pop-culture as they do in a sterile technological dystopia. Exploring themes that range from seemingly vapid, immediate social interactions to more esoteric observations, Smerz have constructed a unique dome in which to house their songs. Have Fun sees the duo traversing a musical uncanny valley, existing in a world that is both alien and familiar, armed with a playful sense of humour.
How To Socialise And Make Friends
March 12, 2018
How To Socialise & Make Friends is the new album from Melbourne powerhouse, Camp Cope. Since their formation in 2015 the trio have made their mark as a crucial presence in Australian music, fusing dynamic and impassioned musicianship with refreshingly honest, no-bullshit lyricism. In a time where politically charged songwriting can be easily dismissed as cliched or oversimplified, guitarist and lyricist Georgia Maq stands out as a searingly honest voice, tackling issues ranging from entrenched sexism and misogyny in the Australian music industry to her late Father’s battle with cancer and finding a sense of resilience in the face of life’s challenges. After a prolific few years of recording and touring, the release of How To Socialise & Make Friends solidifies Camp Cope’s place as an established musical force, collecting local and international support and a devoted fanbase, in spite of whatever opposition they have faced along the way. As Maq screams in the album’s opening track “Look how far we’ve come not listening to you” – Camp Cope are a band operating completely on their own terms – a steadfast and genuine approach that is resonating with many.
March 5, 2018
Fresh out of high-school and a few months from leaving her hometown for New York to start college, American singer-songwriter Sophie Allison uploaded a handful of introspective, self-recorded tracks to the internet under the moniker Soccer Mommy. Constructed of nostalgic guitar melodies and a lyrical integrity beyond her years, Soccer Mommy’s music hit a chord with listeners and what started as a bedroom recording project has since bloomed into a critically acclaimed musical outlet with the release of her debut album Clean. On Clean, Soccer Mommy has left the confines of her cosy Nashville room for the recording studio, complete with a full band. Rather than detracting from the immediacy of her music, this change reflects the thoughtful nature of her songwriting with a newfound clarity and confidence. Full of relatable questions about personal identity, change and the complexities of love, Soccer Mommy has delivered an album that is not only grounded in youthful honesty but excitement of what’s to come.
Car Seat Headrest
February 26, 2018
Twin Fantasy is the 11th album by Car Seat Headrest– the re-recorded, re-imagined version of the 2011 self-released album of the same name. Twin Fantasy is a concept album of sorts that touches on feelings familiar to almost anyone who has experienced young desire and heartbreak. To his legion of cult-like fans, the original recording was considered Car Seat Headrest’s magnum opus, his masterpiece. But to frontman Will Toledo it was incomplete. Joined by a seven-piece band and the luxury of endless time, Toledo headed back to the studio. What resulted is Car Seat Headrest at its finest. It’s not sterile and devoid of feeling as is the fate of many a re-recorded album. Instead, Toledo has delivered a record full of wit and charm; one which perfectly encapsulates the awkwardness of teenage love. Toledo has always had a maturity and worldliness that belies his age and on Twin Fantasy this really shines through. This is the album he always wanted to make.
Divide and Dissolve
February 19, 2018
Uncompromising Melbourne duo Divide and Dissolve have just released their follow-up album Abomination. Blending Neo-Classical, Doom and Avant-Garde styles to create a unique sonic palette, Divide and Dissolve’s music serves as a vessel for their vital message of Black empowerment and Indigenous sovereignty. On Abomination, the duo challenge established colonial narratives and defy musical convention in an expression that ranges from ethereal saxophone melodies to crushingly heavy drone passages. With the delivery of this album, and on the verge of an International tour, Divide and Dissolve have cemented their place as one of the most important acts in contemporary music – not merely commanding the attention of listeners, but presenting us with the opportunity to alter our own perspectives.