Album of the Week
Smiling With No Teeth
March 5, 2021
Storming in with confidence and bravado that oozes forth, Genesis Owusu drops his debut LP, Smiling With No Teeth. On his debut full length, Genesis positions himself as the motivic “Black Dog” – a multifaceted character that exists across both internal and external worlds, representing both society’s figure of an outcast and the internal demons of anxiety and loneliness that take hold within that outsider. Drawing on his personal experiences of emigrating from Ghana to Canberra as a child and growing up as a Black man within White Australia, the album represents Owusu’s choice to “wear the badge of an outcast as a badge of honour”, speaking directly to issues of mental health and race. Propelled by the energy of creating his own sound and telling his own story, Smiling With No Teeth is slathered in sharp, funky basslines, and sharpened by Genesis’ vocal delivery, which swings between honeyed, smooth singing and wildly-spat, fist-pumping, microphone-smashing lyricism. With production that sits steadfastly outside of the hip hop wheelhouse, Genesis utilises a five-piece studio band to create lush and gaudy arrangements, a collision of sounds, styles and influences that lends the record a wild, propulsive immersion. Smiling With No Teeth announces the arrival of Genesis Owusu in the most convincing and accomplished manner possible, a tour de force that deftly balances style with substance, layering its moments of self-reflection and deep-seated thematic ruminations beneath kinetic jubilation and an undeniable sense of vitality.
February 26, 2021
Full of rich, symphonic synth-pop and sparse, heartrending ballads, Melbourne artist June Jones arrives with her self-produced second record, Leafcutter. On the follow-up to her 2019 debut, Jones gives shape to how each of us attempt to make sense of our lives and our selves through looking outwards, lacing together entwined themes of humanity and technology, harmony and dissonance, intuition and uncertainty, the natural, exterior world and our own private, interior universes. Throughout Leafcutter, Jones uses these thematic tensions to explore and explain different aspects of her experience as a “deeply emotional trans woman, a lesbian with ADHD”. Overflowing with intricate details that unfurl with each listen, Jones’ second solo outing fuses contemporary production styles with centuries-old musicological techniques, placing her in the lineage of Björk, Kate Bush and Fiona Apple, artists whose atemporal, collage-like approaches to art-pop have rebuilt music in their own language. With her immersive production, open-hearted lyricism, skeletal electronic arrangements and her enthralling, dynamic vocals, Jones makes Leafcutter feel like the safest, most confessional space to nestle inside of.
February 19, 2021
Sydney folk singer-songwriter Indigo Sparke conjures up the mysteries of life on her debut full-length, Echo. With gentle guitar melodies tracing the contours between darkness and light, poetic lyrics invoking soothing and at times nostalgia-tinged atmospheres, Echo draws on deeply personal themes of dreams, queer love, addiction, heartbreak, connection, death and unfurling life. Written during her travels across America, Sparke’s debut LP captures both a sense of boundless, open skies and highways, alongside cloistered, anonymous hotel rooms and lonely hours of introspection. Co-produced by Sparke, Adrianne Lenker and longtime Big Thief producer Andrew Sarlo, Echo is a sparse affair, filled out primarily by Sparke’s ethereal vocals and accompanying guitars. It goes in search of intimacy and the vulnerability that comes from feelings of true safety, floating between the softness of her art and the grit that underlies her lived experiences, stripping the music back until, like Sparke herself, it feels humbled by life. On her debut LP, Indigo Sparke looks towards a vast sea of constellations in the desert night, drawing parallels between those heavenly bodies and the human experience. Those stars are much like ourselves: connected but apart, luminous and awe-inspiring but suspended amidst a blank, void expanse of space, all of them yearning for something greater to belong to.
Let's Not (And Say We Did)
February 12, 2021
Skuzzy and restless, Sydney noise-rock outfit Zeahorse return with their 3rd studio album Let’s Not (And Say We Did), their first new music in almost five years. The album’s title and its lyrics show the band’s sense of cynical humour and the running thread of satirical social commentary that has also marked their previous releases. With their half-shouted, heavily accented vocal delivery, the four piece harness a typically feral strain of Australian punk, while also incorporating more heavy and sludgy elements. Fuzzy guitars and a healthy dose of feedback lend a noise rock influence whilst contrasting against the tight, precise drumming, propelling the album from track to track with a fidgety momentum. The sense of noise and energy carried across Let’s Not (And Say We Did) is accented by gnarled and electrically charged guitar riffs, expanding at times out into sludgy, hypnotic, psychedelic realms. On their third full-length record, Zeahorse submerge the listener head-first into their world of hazy, slime-coated noise-rock, a radioactive return for one of the Sydney underground’s most potent acts.
Black Country, New Road
For the first time
February 5, 2021
London seven piece Black Country, New Road deliver on the hype of their early singles with their six-track debut record, For the first time. The latest outfit to emerge from the UK’s explosive scene of new rock sounds, Black Country, New Road’s twisted, gnarled compositions traverse wild changes of pace, genre and mood, taking the listener on frenetic, meandering sonic journeys that build to wild crescendos of noise that collapse jazz, hardcore, Jewish folk music, 90s post-rock and post-punk onto each other. With frontman Isaac Woods’ distinctive growled vocals and his borderline spoken delivery, For the first time matches his freewheeling, scattershot meditations on pop culture with an all-consuming, overwhelmingly dense and visceral energy, referencing everything from Kanye West to nutribullets to UE Booms, Phoebe Bridgers, Bruce Springsteen and Black Midi along the way. Described as an attempt to capture their sound as it exists in the moment, For the first time distils Black Country, New Road’s first 18 months together as a band, bottling a youthful exuberance pushing fearlessly into unknown musical realms.
Collapsed in Sunbeams
January 29, 2021
Surfing a wave of critical acclaim, British artist Arlo Parks delivers her hotly anticipated debut album Collapsed In Sunbeams. Having established herself as an artist who intimately and frankly bears her inner truths and struggles, the tantalising rollout of Arlo Parks’ debut album culminates in a listening experience which threads together her lyrical storytelling vignettes into a multifaceted, diaristic record that illuminates on her everyday experiences with poetic, detailed and visually rich songwriting. Opening with a spoken word poem, Collapsed in Sunbeams fluidly shifts between sounds, with a strong 70s soul influence as well as more contemporary RnB sounds and together with Parks’ light dreamy voice, paints a personal and deeply engaging portrait of her experiences. Touching on topics of queer love, mental health, body image, friendship and self identity, Collapsed In Sunbeams channels a youthful intensity of emotions and sense of navigating the world, yet is created with a certainty of vision which is impressive for an artist so early in their career.
Yellow River Blue
January 22, 2021
Chunky basslines, mystical synths and 80s inspired drums welcome you to the world of Yu Su, on her new album “Yellow River Blue”. The album marks her debut full length release following the widely acclaimed 2018 EP “Preparations For Departure” as well as 2019’s breakout “Watermelon Woman”. A classically trained pianist, Yu Su hadn’t delved much into the electronic music world until her move to Vancouver over 6 years ago, where she discovered local label Mood Hut and was drawn to events with them and other visiting DJ and electronic acts. You can certainly hear some Mood Hut influences in her sound, with tracks on the album leaning into their signature blissed out woozy-house sound. However, her catalogue refuses to be constrained and her new album displays an dazzling array of influences and worlds, from poppy opener Xiu, flowing to dreamy ambience on “Touch-Me-Not’, a more dancefloor beat driven on ‘Melaluca’, before moving to something more experimental and almost grunge infused on the somewhat menacing ‘Klein’. This range of sounds is informed by the globe-spanning recording process, written between Seattle, Los Angeles, Kaifeng, Shanghai, Vancouver, Mesachie Lake and Chemainus, in the period following Yu Su’s tour of mainland China in 2019. The tour was an inspiring experience, not only prompting material for the album, but also connecting her with the exploding Chinese electronic music scene, and motivating her to found Ble Records, a label focused on platforming emerging Chinese electronic talent. Despite the album being named after the world’s most silted river, its 8 tracks move fluidly between sounds, taking the listener on a captivatingly evocative journey.
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.