Article originally appeared on The Music Jan 15th 2018
Lowtide’s latest is a feet-first affair, like a few crushing seconds of free falling stretched into an afternoon of self-reflection.
Gabriel Lewis’ chords burst into the atmosphere with cotton-wool softness, simultaneously surrounding and supporting Anton Jakovljevic’s almost-absentminded percussion and Lucy Buckeridge’s languid strumming and wistful incantations. Full of more body and texture than a luxury latte, Southern Mind is outwardly facing shoegaze at its finest, even if that feels like staring through a foggy window.
Much like meditation, it’s not about turning the volume up but rather turning everything else down and, consequently, it carries some of the same pitfalls for the perennially restless.
Article Originally appeared on The Music Jan 12th 2018
Welcome to Ayla, the Sunshine Coast sequel to Lorde and Florence Welch (sorry, but the comparisons are going to get made). Ayla exhibits one of those classically expansive voices that seems to reach five years deep into the solar plexus.
For her second EP, Ayla has revisited two of her earlier tracks and brought forth four more. Experimenting with new recording techniques, there’s salon-style volume added everywhere but most of the compositions are not rudimentary exactly just discreetly layered and somehow demure, consistently yielding to their mistress’ voice. It’s perfect in a supplicating way, set dressing for soliloquy, but it means the instrumentation never quite feels like an equal partner.
Ayla’s voice is always centre stage, yet each of the tracks has its own set of supple hooks, literal and figurative, and searches endlessly for a way under the skin. Particularly, the balladic quality of New Furniture provides some meaty emotional resonance by leaning a little into country composition and Porcelain Doll displays a cascading and hypnotic choral lilt.
Like the ball that hops across karaoke script, Let’s Talk Monday is a fun and bouncy little distraction, but no matter how high it bounces you always know where it’ll land.
Article originally appeared on The Music Nov 15th 2017
Diary Of A Thotaholic is not your average Adelaide hills skip-hop or suburban-boi cyphering, this is international grade, female-focused, dis-rap, borderline hip hop erotica from an artist pulling triple duty to rep a trio of disastrously underrepresented community facets.
It would be easy to say Miss Blanks is reading her cues from previous fem-power archetypes, but it would be reductionist in a way that runs counter to the revelrous freedom on show. DOAT basks in its explicit nature but doesn’t rely on it. While it is unabashedly graphic and deliciously brash, none of it feels excessive nor does it court pointless controversy. It doesn’t ask to be a think piece about empowerment, sexual awareness, body positivity or any other topical discourse. Instead, it straight up takes creative parity as a surety. In that regard, Miss Blanks is just doing what the bulk of her ostensibly cis peers have been doing for decades. Let her go, let her keep killing it, those misconceptions should be dead by now anyway.
Miss Blanks has her own tongue pressed firmly to cheek, it’s up to you to throw down this album and consider your own tongue placement.
Article originally appeared on The Music Oct 13th 2017
The obvious problem with The Bear Hunt’s new EP is that it’s not an LP. Any issue you have beyond that should evidently be with society, because Fallen On Deaf Ears doesn’t actually feel like an EP so much as an open letter to the See You Next Tuesday’s of the world. There’s an unrequited rage seething inside every chord, vocal or otherwise, a furious and frenetic yet thoughtful rhetoric delivered with percussive punch and incisive timing. It’s the audio equivalent of winning an argument you didn’t start and never wanted. Here’s hoping the world keeps sucking enough to get a full-blown album soon.
Article originally appeared on The Music Oct 24th 2017
By now you either like Weezer or you don’t, or you did and now you really don’t.
Their eleventh album, Pacific Daydream, sounds suspiciously young, the audio equivalent of a couple kids in a trench coat or one adult band wearing a teenager’s T-shirt. Honestly, the bulk of the tracks feel more like a Weezer musical as written by One Direction, like they were aiming for top of the pops by way of paint by numbers construction and bland overproduction.
Despite a few classic Rivers Cuomo compositions, QB Blitz and Sweet Mary through the middle, the hooks aren’t catchy so much as insidious and you could easily mistake them for any number of one-off festival headline fade-aways that dominate for a crucial week or two before dissolving back into the primordial musical ooze that spawned them. It’s not the sort of sound that usually happens at the end of a band’s lifecycle.
What was once a boyish proto-geek genuflection is now a group of 40-somethings crooning over pyrrhic rhythms about beaches and heartbreak while the world gently burns. The results feel accordingly off-putting, not nearly as vast or grand as the Pacific Ocean, roughly as valuable as a daydream and just as memorable.
Article originally appeared on 4ZZZ Sep 29th 2017
Have you heard about Twin Peaks? Well the internet has and it’s gone ahead and explained it far more lucidly than David Lynch’s shrugs ever could. It’s back, anyway, peak Peaks hype. Well, been and gone, actually, and left the soundtrack behind, a twin disc release that’s part nostalgia bomb, part zeitgeist heist, part curatorial curio. It’s an official score and a diegetic OST that hangs its entire value on the chasing and cataloguing of ungraspable Tulpa.
So, if you aren’t part of the cult then why the hell would you want to drink the Kool-Aid? Oh, maybe it’s because Angelo Badalamenti has been an instrumental composer for some of screen’s finest achievements: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Holy Smoke!, The Wicker Man, not to mention Law & Order, the film that birthed 70 years of procedural pleasure and a sting that just won’t quit. On top of that noise, David Lynch is actually a badass curator and odd little experimental artist in his own right; the kind of presence that people flock around to applaud while asking their neighbour, “What the heck did that mean?”
Well, the meaning has to be about the value in each track right? Sure. Anything that can smash around between Blunted Beatz, Eddie Veder, ZZ Top, and Otis Redding is worth at least a little look right? Yes, of course, but then maybe you get a little more curious, you’re saying, what the heck do these songs have to do with a show that everybody claims to understand but everyone including the creator is dubiously vague about even at their most verbose, then the next thing you know you’re twenty-five years deep in an unresolvable circular goddamn art piece screaming helloooooooooo at the world with a big damn smirk feeling smug that you’re in on a joke nobody gets but claims the journey of not getting it is actually the joke. So um, RIP Bowie, RIP Log Lady, RIP pop culture man, because here we are, neck deep in the event horizon with no idea what year this is and a glowing ball of light ready to burst out of our collective faces.
Bonus points for keeping your copy wrapped in plastic.
Article Originally appeared on The Music Sep 25th 2017
Singing in mixed English, French and Yoruba, Ibeyi have a unique voice, but their position as a potential voice for an ostensibly outsider perspective and the dignified potency they wield it with makes them distinct. Ash is both persecuted and powerful in equal measure, something that feels less like balancing than soaring. Sparse and otherworldly percussion interspersed with found sounds and hypnotic harmonics, it’s sonically sumptuous but thematically sharp enough to cut you from the first chord. This isn’t just good music, it’s important.
Article originally appeared on The Music Sep 25th 2017
Rolling around in their antiquated sounds, Kitty, Daisy & Lewis have landed far more than they’ve missed, and they’ve always played with distinctive mirth, but their fourth time out feels flat as hell, almost as if they had nowhere else to go after Smoking In Heaven.
Pinpointing that lack in Superscope is as easy as finding a hole in the dark, all you can do is say that something’s missing. Structurally the pieces are there, but they lock together with the dry joie de vivre of a Swedish construction manual.
Despite a few standout tracks, and the Durham girls outshining their brother, most of the songs feel dutiful rather than doting. Oh, Lewis still lets out the odd exceptional wail and there’s a whole lovesick redemption through-line to enjoy if you care to construct the narrative, but Kitty, Daisy & Lewis really make you work for that emotional oomph, then they even spoil that by serving Broccoli Tempura as the last track. It sounds roughly as delicious as it sounds and works wonderfully as something for venues to play while rousting patrons after last call.
Superscope lacks some intangible element, but still serves a small plate of passable tracks. Unfortunately just having the right ingredients doesn’t default to making meals taste great.
Article originally appeared on The Music Sep 18th 2017
If you’ve woken in a sweat worrying about Jack Johnson putting down his acoustic and picking up a Korg, don’t worry, Jordan Rakei already has you covered. After shedding his debut, Cloak, Rakei has picked up a collection of sensitivities to add to his soul style, steering away from the rougher auteur elements that originally endeared or intrigued – ambient deviations and break-beat constructions – sliding instead into an introspective funk. Rakei’s rhythms are skin-rakingly soothing and his voice is anachronistically attenuated to an evaporated era, singing Wallflower as a shy piece of work, a current-smoothed river stone sparkling in a bed of thousands.
Article originally appeared on The Music Sep 7th 2017
Where last year’s January Sun carried strange warmth wrapped in cold Siberian grit, Ariadna radiates light without giving off heat. Kedr Livanskiy’s latest is dangerously indistinct at times, walking you through a synth-based tundra where any distinguishing landmark is a meagre joy celebrated simply for being distinct in its surrounds. The halfway mark holds a small spoken word beacon that hasn’t respite, revelry, or revelation but is rather a reminder you might want to visit more hospitable climes. Maybe it takes patience to traverse, though there doesn’t seem to be enough payoff for it to matter unless your desire for indecipherable Euro-gaze pop is unusually high.
Article originally appeared on The Music 18th Aug 2017
Taking us on a tour through human atrocity as guided by thoughtful earworms, saying Shah’s Holiday Destination is politically charged is like saying batteries hold electricity – true but meaningless unless that energy is channelled. Once again, Shah shows her greatest strength is an ability to craft pieces that float high ideas above grounded musicianship without sacrificing the merits of either. Like a nightingale floor, it’s a tightly constructed artefact full of traps for the careless and meaning for the wary, an album that delicately balances its rhythmic joys against dark purpose developed in a complex climate.
Article originally appeared on The Music Aug 11th 2017
Devil Electric are dark in the same way that Venetian blinds block out the sun – it works but there are pitch black solutions out there you may prefer. Positioning themselves as purveyors of a profound doom, the songwriting is more syllogism than soliloquy and sits on a platform that panders to whatever derivation of “Put a bird on it,” plays in the monochrome twilight. They’re much more engaging when they lean into the rougher riffs and grit. Oh sure, they’ve got licks for days, and they’re very happy to show them off, but it’s more slideshow trudge than triumphant spectacle.