The cream of the crop for this week.
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.
To kick off this week, we’re exploring two extraordinary live albums from two of the most inspiring acts of the past decade – Arctic Monkeys and Deafheaven – as well as a ripper effort from Sydney indie stars STUMPS, a revisited EP of material form Mia Dyson’s ARIA Award-winning record Parking Lots and the new one from Maryland rapper Rico Nasty. Let’s dive on in!
Arctic Monkeys – Live At The Royal Albert Hall
Few groups have shaped the course of indie rock over the past 15 years quite like Sheffield’s Arctic Monkeys have. From their raucous up-strummed stylings of their iconic debut and its all-too-underrated follow up Favourite Worst Nightmare through to their explorations into desert rock, smouldering balladry, hip-hop and lounge music in the decade that followed, the band – bolstered by the ever-fascinating penmanship of Alex Turner – have blazed a trail for dozens to follow, and it’s this legacy that they aim to cement with the release of Live At The Royal Albert Hall: an electric live album with a career-spanning setlist that sees the band at the peak of the powers.
Recorded on the band’s Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino tour in 2018, Live At The Royal Albert Hall is jam-packed with 20 songs that see the Monkeys at their finest. Matt Helder’s drumming is explosive on early cuts ‘Brianstorm’ and ‘Crying Lightning’, while bassist Nicholas O’Malley’s muted playing on AM tracks ‘Arabella’ and ‘Knee Socks’ injects a subtle hip-shaking funk into the band’s sound.
The band’s expanded ensemble help to bring tracks like ‘Star Treatment’ and ‘Four Out Of Five’ to life in a manner many would have missed on the studio versions, while the unflappable Alex Turner is in top-notch form across the performance as he croons, growls, shouts and shreds his way through the band’s discography, making for a sumptuous experience that any indie fan will thoroughly get behind.
Deafheaven – 10 Years Gone (Live)
Deafheaven are a force to be reckoned with. Fusing influences from black metal, shoegaze and post-rock, the San Fransisco band are among one of the most critically acclaimed metal acts of the 2010s, with their now-legendary 2010 demo and their spellbinding sophomore effort Sunbather asserting them as one of the most dynamic bands going today.
On 10 Years Gone, Deafheaven celebrate their massive decade with an immense live album that sees them perform the set they intended to perform on their now-scrapped 10 year anniversary tour, delivering eight visceral, explosive tracks for fans to devour. With a wide ranging setlist that includes their first ever song ‘Daedalus’, fan favourites ‘From the Kettle Onto the Coil’ and the immense Sunbather closer ‘The Pecan Tree’, 10 Years Gone is the ultimate chronicle of just how great Deafheaven truly are.
As expected, George Clarke’s vocals across the record are simply mind-boggling, while the textural guitar arrangements of Shiv Merhra and Kerry McCoy on tracks like ‘From the Kettle Onto the Coil’ and ‘Vertigo’ are as pristine as they are brutal. Chris Johnson’s melodic basslines stand out across 10 Years Gone more than ever before, and of course, Daniel Tracy’s drumming is totally punishing. There’s no denying that 10 Years Gone is a record that’ll go down as a defining document in the story of Deafheaven, and with the band already working on new material for 2021, it seems like that story won’t be ending too soon yet.
STUMPS – All Our Friends
All Our Friends, the debut LP from Sydney indie outfit STUMPS, positions them as one of the country’s most exciting groups of their calibre. Drawing influence from the likes of Bloc Party and Phoenix, the trio channel an electric palate of angular guitars, driving disco rhythms and anthemic hooks to stake their case as the next big thing from down under.
Album opener ‘Mt. Pleasant’ carries all the potency of Bloc Party’s own electric debut Silent Alarm, while the chorus-soaked guitars and guitarist/vocalist Kyle Fisher’s sing-shout baritone on ‘Laugh About It’ brings back all the sonics of a dirty 2009 dance floor in a spruced up manner for modern ears. Meanwhile, the bouncy bass groove and catchy hooks of ‘Suburbia’ and ‘Mouth Static’ stick out as album highlights, with their subtle synths and relentless drums further asserting the Sydney trio’s instrumental prowess.
While there may be a few sonic elements of All Our Friends that will never not be tethered to mid-’00s indie, it’s the exuberance and energy that STUMPS bring to the genre on their debut that pulls it across the line. A wonderful, nostalgic listen for any indie purist.
Mia Dyson – Parking Lots (Revisited) EP
Mia Dyson’s Parking Lots was a tremendous release in 2005, fusing rootsy blues rock stylings with heartfelt arrangements and spotlighting Dyson’s talent as a vocalist and songwriter alike. 15 years on, Dyson has released a new EP of reworked tracks from the record in the form of Parking Lots (Revisited), shining a new light on the record and offering a fascinating listening experience for die-hards of the original release.
Based around a stripped-down sonic palate, the brunt of Parking Lots (Revisited) sees Dyson paired with nought more than the bare essentials, putting the focus straight on her storytelling and strong vocal inflections. The scuzzy garage blues of ‘Roll Me Out’ is replaced with a tender arrangement led by plucked guitars and pianos, while ‘Parking Lots’ stays relatively faithful to the original arrangement, save for a plinky honky-tonk piano and foot stomping groove to power the tune.
Dyson’s vocals across Parking Lots (Revisited) are pristine, with her delivery on tracks like ‘I Meant Something To You Once’ and the Hammond-accompanied ‘Choose’ standing out as major highlights on the tracklist, making for a fantastic reinterpretation of an already brilliant album.
Rico Nasty – Nightmare Vacation
A dynamite presence in today’s hip-hop landscape, Rico Nasty has stepped out with her latest full-length Nightmare Vacation: a hard-knocking collection of impeccably produced and written trap, drill and contemporary hip-hop that sees her in peak form for a thrilling 16 song effort.
For fans of her earlier works, ‘Candy’, ‘OHFR?’ and ‘Check Me Out’ see Rico Nasty lay down her aggressive vocal inflections and high-energy over obnoxious trunk-rattling 808s that are bound to spark any festival crowd into a seething moshpit.
Nightmare Vacation also sees Rico explore different styles and put her own colourful spin on them to varying effect: the soaring, Amine-assisted ‘Back & Forth’ is without a doubt one of the record’s best tracks, whereas the AutoTune-drenched ‘Loser’ with Trippie Redd comes off as awkward and forced.
Nevertheless, Nightmare Vacation is a thoroughly enjoyable and unique rap release that solidifies Rico Nasty’s spot as one of the brightest talents in hip-hop today, and there’s no denying that this album is going to go hard as hell when played out onstage – whenever that may be.
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