Here's this week's cream of the crop.
Friday has finally arrived, which means it’s release day for a bunch of artists at home and around the world. With so many hot releases out there to tuck into, we’ve compiled some of the best to present to you for the weekend.
This week, we’ve got our ears tuned to the sounds of Australian rock royalty AC/DC on their surprisingly great return, two sensational debuts from Hachiku and BENEE, a rousing love letter to the blues from Josh Teskey and Ash Grunwald and more. Happy listening!
AC/DC – PWR/UP
The boys are BACK in town!!!! Six years after the release of their last album Rock Or Bust – and three years since the death of powerhouse rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young – AC/DC have returned with PWR/UP, and what an almighty return it is.
Of course, there’s nothing in the way of reinvention on PWR/UP, but really, no-one should be expecting to hear fresh ideas from AC/DC at this stage in their career. Brendan O’Brien’s production gives the band a modern, revitalised surge of energy on tracks like ‘Shot In The Dark’, while songs like ‘No Man’s Land’ and ‘Through The Mists Of Time’ see vocalist Brian Johnson assume the spotlight and showcase his iconic screeching vocals.
On guitar duties, Angus is just as tight as ever, and newly appointed rhythm guitarist Stevie Young more than holds his own on songs like ‘Realise’ and ‘Kick You When You’re Down’, which also sees Angus turn in a killer guitar solo.
Five decades into their career, it’s amazing to hear AC/DC sounding just as tight as ever, and while it may lack the steeze of Powerage or Back In Black, it’s clear that PWR/UP will be celebrated as a late career gem for the Aussie icons.
Hachiku – I’ll Probably Be Asleep
Melbourne-based bedroom pop artist Hachiku has expanded on the promise of her 2017 EP and the singles that followed with her debut full-length I’ll Probably Be Asleep: an exuberant exploration in the psyche of what it’s like to navigate the realities of the world as a 20-something. Where her early works felt more joyous and uplifting, I’ll Probably Be Asleep sees Hachiku embrace a moodier sonic palate, employing woozy synths and dense electric guitars to work alongside her breathy vocal timbre and showcase a strikingly different side of her as a songwriter and producer alike.
‘Busy Being Boring’ stands out as an album highlight, with a drum machine providing a bedrock for Hachiku’s intertwining guitars and a melodic bassline to power the track, while ‘Bridging Visa B’ sees her lament the woes of being left in bureaucratic limbo atop of a soup of slide guitars and jarring percussion.
With only eight songs making the album incredibly easy to digest – and then rinse and repeat – I’ll Probably Be Asleep stands as a remarkable entry into the world of Hachiku, and we can’t wait to see what else lays over the horizon.
Josh Teskey & Ash Grunwald – Push The Blues Away
Two of the biggest names in Australian blues – The Teskey Brothers’ lead singer Josh Teskey and soul survivor Ash Grunwald – have linked up for one hell of a collaborative album with Push The Blues Away. Recorded to tape this year in the Teskey’s Warrandyte studio, Push The Blues Away serves as a faithful tribute to the era of the Mississippi Delta Blues, with Teskey and Grunwald showcasing their mighty voices alongside hushed percussion, howling harmonicas and rootsy slide guitars.
On ‘It Rained’, Grunwald and Teskey’s call-and-response vocals counter each other magnificently, with Teskey’s soulful ab-libbing giving the song its wings, while the boogie-woogie shuffle and hand-clap percussion of ‘Thinking ‘Bout Myself’ also stands out as a highlight.
Closing out with a cover of blues standard ‘The Sky Is Crying’, Push The Blues Away serves as a love letter to the enduring magic of the blues, and to hear the voices of Teskey and Grunwald go up against one another is truly inspiring.
BENEE – Hey u x
New Zealand’s BENEE has experienced an immense rise to fame over the past 18 months thanks to the success of tracks like ‘Soaked’ and the viral TikTok smash ‘Supalonely’, with her genre-smashing sound and all-too-accessible songwriting seeing many tout her as the next biggest name in pop music.
On her debut LP Hey u x, BENEE well and truly lives up to these expectations, delivering a project that hops between psychedelic pop, thumping electro and jittery RnB without ever losing focus or faltering to cliches. BENNE glides atop of the serene sounds of ‘Happen To Me’ and ‘If I Get to Meet You’ with ease, while the Grimes-assisted ‘Sheesh’ and the Lily Allen and Flo Milli team-up on ‘Plain’ both serve as energetic album highlights.
Bolstered by immersive production from the likes of Joshua Fountain and Kenny Beats and featuring a killer array of guests, Hey u x is all killer and no filler. If BENEE is indeed the future of pop music, then it’s safe to say that we’re in for a wild ride ahead.
The Grogans – Day/To/Day
On their sophomore effort Day/To/Day, Melbourne rockers The Grogans sharpen the chilled-out stylings of their debut to turn in a follow-up abundant in soaring hooks and dynamic instrumental chemistry. Day/To/Day is energetic, engaging and effervescent, with lead vocalist and guitarist Quin Grunden’s laid-back production showcasing the group’s penchant for ’60s and ’70s rock while hinting at a direction that incorporates more contemporary influences.
‘Woke Up Feeling Alright’ and ‘Graveyard Sleepin” sees the trio in their element over a classic ’60s surf boogie, while ‘Strange Feeling’ and the swing of album opener ‘Unnecessary’ sound in tune with the likes of Ocean Alley and Great Gable. Of course, a record like Day/To/Day is always going to sound far superior in a live setting, but you’ve got to give credit where credit is due: this is one hell of a slice of washed-out, surf-rock bliss, and there’s no denying these guys have got a bright future ahead of them.
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