Two years on from her critically acclaimed mixtape Telefone, Chicago artist Noname returns with her debut album Room 25. Written in the wake of her breakout success and during a time of significant personal change for Noname, Room 25 defies the pressures that come with a highly anticipated debut. Instead, the album shows Noname armed with soul-baring confidence. Sitting atop a bed of evolving and sophisticated instrumentals, her presence on Room 25 is unmistakably lucid and confessional but never overly self-serious. Filled with Noname’s insightful observation, clever social commentary and guest appearances from new-generation Chicago music luminaries like Saba and Ravyn Lenae, every track on Room 25 is distinct and captivating.
Area Famous is the highly anticipated debut album from rising Sydney hip-hop artist B Wise. With an established reputation for high-energy live shows, lyrical storytelling and sophisticated flow, this release sees B Wise solidify his place as a formidable force in Australian music. Area Famous is an honest, exciting and at times gritty reflection on the realities of youth, politics, multiculturalism and relationships in the modern age. Most of all though the album is an ode to South-Western Sydney, the area that has shaped B Wise as an individual and an artist. Sporting production from beat-makers including Uno Stereo, DOPAM!NE and Horrorshow’s Adit, as well as features from artists including Kaiit and Anfa Rose, the debut album from B Wise will ensure that he goes on to gain further notoriety and become more than just Area Famous.
Visionary electronic duo Amnesia Scanner present their full-length debut Another Life. Having relocated from Finland to Berlin to further their practice, Amnesia Scanner have spent the last half-decade creating a cross-disciplinary world of music, performance art and immersive multimedia experiences for their project to inhabit. Another Life is the result of the duo’s unique approach, playing on the hope, promise and terror that each technological leap brings about in us. Drawing from industrial techno as much as current pop trends, Another Life sees Amnesia Scanner creating music that lies in the uncanny intersection between the digital world and our physical experience.
British band Idles have released their second full-length release Joy As An Act Of Resistance. Spurred on by a time of personal turmoil, political disaffection and a struggle with alcoholism, Idles’ frontman Joe Talbot entered a period of self-reflection after the release of their last album. Joy As An Act Of Resistance is the result of this period and sees the Bristol punks unleash a scathing critique of toxic masculinity, addiction and British politics. Talbot’s attack-dog vocal delivery is underpinned by the band’s relentless and dissonant musical arsenal, ensuring that the gravity of the message won’t be ignored and cementing Joy As An Act Of Resistance as a vital and relevant second album from Idles.
Prolific New York based musician Dev Hynes returns with Negro Swan, his 4th studio album as Blood Orange. Just over a decade after his move from London to the USA, Blood Orange continues to chronicle the experiences and anxieties of queer communities and people of colour within the United States, this time including reflections on his own childhood in the United Kingdom as well. Musically the album plays on the nostalgia of classic RNB, while also marking a continued evolution in Blood Orange’s own sound. Describing the underlying thread of Negro Swan as “hope, and the lights we can try to turn on within ourselves” to overcome times of darkness, the album is Blood Orange’s most revealing and insightful release to date.
Rabbit Island is the project of Perth based multi-instrumentalist Amber Fresh, who returns with her new album Deep In The Big. The album is an 8 track exploration of her beautiful and amorphous compositions, layering music with personal field recordings as well as instrumental contributions from other Perth based musicians including Pond’s Nick Allbrook. On Deep In The Big, Rabbit Island envelops listeners in a dreamlike warmth; her piano-based soundscapes and intimate vocal delivery providing a form of reassuring escapism, showcasing her gift for creating music that walks the line between the fantastical and the everyday.
Following on from a collection of noteworthy EPs and singles over the last few years, British R&B artist Tirzah delivers her debut album Devotion. Written and produced in collaboration with her childhood friend, the experimental-pop-artist turned film-composer Mica Levi, Devotion is built around Tirzah’s low-key but alluring vocal delivery. Her earnest lyricism and eccentric ear for melody are supported by sparse, sensitive arrangements from Mica Levi. Devotion is a striking and unique debut LP; one that lives up to the reputation that Fact Magazine set for Tirzah back in 2014 as “making some of the strangest pop music around”.
Basic Volume is the first full-length release from abstract British MC, Gaika. Informed by dancehall, grime, r&b, grunge and experimental electronica in equal measures, Gaika’s musical style is fluid and hard to define. This sense of musical ambiguity underpins the lyrical themes of Basic Channel as Gaika reflects on the immigrant experience in the UK and feeling like an outsider in a country that should feel like home. Wrapped in his compellingly original blend of Afrofuturism and Gothic aesthetics, Basic Channel is a reflection of modern London; a dark, thrilling and dystopian vision that Gaika understands intimately.
Nasho’s self-titled debut album is a raucous and unapologetic response to systemic racism, colonisation and ongoing gentrification. Armed with their fierce brand of dubbed-out hardcore, Nasho crush dominant narratives of whiteness and national identity; not content just taking up space, but rather cutting through the colonial white-noise with a defiant scream and a wry smile. Featuring current and former members of Dispossessed, Royal Headache, Good Throb and BB and the Blips, Nasho’s debut LP is a fresh take on hardcore punk and the perfect antidote for anyone sick of being asked “what’s your nasho?”.
Californian rapper Buddy arrives with his first full-length album, Harlan & Alondra. Following on from collaborations with artists including Kendrick Lamar, Kaytranada and Cosmo’s Midnight, the album sees Buddy rising into his own element, demonstrating his laid-back delivery and optimistic observations atop a bed of warm old-school R&B instrumentals. In his own words: “I wanted my music to sound like the sun”. Harlan & Alondra is an album informed by Buddy’s experiences in and relationship with Los Angeles, its ups and downs and his growth through it. Strengthened by guest features from hip-hop heavyweights including Snoop Dogg, A$AP Ferg and Khalid, Harlan & Alondra is a scorching debut; a perfect antidote to defrost the midwinter malaise.