Dinosaur Jr., Carla Geneve + more: our five favourite records of the week
23.04.2021

Dinosaur Jr., Carla Geneve + more: our five favourite records of the week

Words by Will Brewster

Plus Alfa Mist, The Mars Volta and Mike Dean.

Friday is here, 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 the new one from alt-rock royalty Dinosaur Jr., plus a commanding debut from Perth’s Carla Geneve and the latest from UK jazz talent Alfa Mist, plus an unearthed early rarity from The Mars Volta and iconic producer Mike Dean’s sequel to last year’s hazy synth odyssey, 4:20. 

This week’s top picks:

  • Dinosaur Jr. – Sweep It Into Space 
  • Carla Geneve – Learn To Like It 
  • Alfa Mist – Bring Backs
  • The Mars Volta – Landscape Tantrums (Unfinished Original Recordings of De-Loused In The Comatorium)
  • Mike Dean – 4:22

Read all the latest music news here.

Dinosaur Jr. – Sweep It Into Space 

For their first full-length release in five years, alternative rock legends Dinosaur Jr. recruit the production nous of Kurt Vile and play to their strengths to offer a strong record that showcases their studio chemistry. Sweep It Into Space is essential Dinosaur Jr. – there’s fuzzy guitar solos galore, addictive choruses in abundance and a crunchy production value that makes it feel all the more familiar and comforting.

‘I Ain’t’ kicks off the record in fine fashion with its thick guitar tone and chorus harmonies, while ‘I Met The Stones’ and ‘To Be Waiting’ both provide quintessential J. Mascis shred moments – the latter in particular also featuring a killer drum performance from Murph.

‘I Ran Away’ sees Mascis and Vile trade guitar lines on a jangly, Thin Lizzy-inspired cut, and serves as one of Mascis’ best vocal and lyrical moments on the album. ‘Garden’, meanwhile, sees bassist Lou Barlow assume songwriting and lead vocal duties – as is the norm for two songs on every Dino release – and potentially could be his best songwriting contribution to the band yet, with ‘Hide Another Round’ and ‘I Expect It Always’ following up with more fuzz-heavy riffage.

On ‘Take It Back’, Mascis implements a jaunty piano line to make for one of the record’s most effervescent moments before the record ends on a high with ‘N Say’, ‘Walking To You’ (a masterclass in effects pedal stacking on behalf of Mascis) and Barlow’s ‘You Wonder’. Decades after their cultural prime, Dinosaur Jr. are sounding just as tight as ever, and Sweep It Into Space is just the proof in the pudding.

Carla Geneve – Learn To Like It 

Carla Geneve might just be one of Australia’s most exciting young songwriters. Her songs are scarily relatable and jam-packed with life experiences and metaphors, and on her new album Learn To Like It, she hones her craft further as she writes of personal growth, discovery and mental health. It’s a stellar listen, and poises Geneve as an artist on the cusp of exploding globally.

‘Don’t Wanna Be Your Lover’ is delightfully spacious in its production, giving ample room for Geneve’s vocals to take the spotlight for extra emphasis. Similarly, ‘The Right Reasons’ features hushed guitar and subtle bass and drum performances, with Geneve delivering a vocal performance that’s drenched in melancholy and heartache. It’s moments like these where Learn To Like It hits the hardest emotionally and sonically, proving testament to both Geneve’s own songwriting chops and the tasteful playing of her counterparts.

In stark contrast, recent single ‘Dog Eared’ offers a much more alt-tinged take on Geneve’s sound, contrasting her rediscovery of screamo classics with a recount of a self-doubt heavy breakdown, with other tracks like ‘I Never Noticed The Weight’ and ‘Residue’ delving into similar topics. It’s evident that Geneve is a deeply self-referential songwriter and much of Learn To Like It possesses a uniquely cathartic quality, making for one of the most impacting Australian releases so far this year.

Alfa Mist – Bring Backs

A key figure in London’s currently flourishing jazz scene, Alfa Mist is a talented producer, pianist and MC with an excellent sense of timing and groove and a knack for recruiting musicians with creatively elevating tendencies. He puts these strengths out to play on his fourth solo album Bring Backs, teaming up with Jamie Leeming (guitar), Kaya Thomas-Dyke (bass and vocals), Jamie Houghton (drums) and Johnny Woodham (trumpet) for a fully realised effort that flows freely with spontaneous flourishes and moments of true virtuosity.

‘Run Outs’ sees Mist and Woodham enter conversation with their respected instruments over a head-snapping contemporary groove from Thomas-Dyke and Houghton on a particularly exciting moment, while Leeming’s soloing atop of Mist’s changes on opener ‘Teki’ is eye-poppingly good. Bassist Kaya Thomas-Dyke also lends her vocals to ‘People’ for a low-key Brazilian-tinged affair, and on ‘Coasting’, Woodham douses his trumpet in effects and channels the raw energy of electric-era Miles Davis with his spectacular horn playing.

Ending strongly with the spacious ‘Attune’ and ‘Organic Rust’, which sees Mist don the mic and lay down memorable verses atop of an off-grid Dilla drum groove, Bring Backs just underscores the incredible versatility and creative energy breaming from London’s emerging jazz scene today. What are they feeding these kids??

The Mars Volta – Landscape Tantrums (Unfinished Original Recordings of De-Loused In The Comatorium)

Released as part of their mammoth 18xLP reissue, Landscape Tantrums offers a rare insight into the early stages of The Mars Volta’s modern classic De-Loused In The ComatoriumIt’s rough around the edges – as one should expect from the title – yet offers an invaluable depiction of the pivotal ’00s progressive rock group at the apex of leading duo Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and Cedric Bixler-Zavala’s creative hot-streak.

Differing from a conventional demo album, many of the cuts on Landscape Tantrums bear incredible semblance to the ones heard on De-Loused: the album has a uniquely live feel, and it times, it feels almost like you’ve stumbled upon some Mars Volta bootleg by chance. Tracks like ‘Roulette Dares’ and ‘This Apparatus Must Be Unearthed’ are fuelled by Jon Theodore’s thunderous drumming with Rodriguez’s frenetic guitar playing, while the Hammond and Rhodes flourishes from the late Isaiah ‘Ikey’ Owens throughout ‘Eriatarka’ and ‘Inertiatic ESP’ are duly noted.

Cedric’s vocals are often bathed in and manically treated with effects courtesy of sound engineer Jeremy Ward, who passed away shortly after the recording of De-Loused. On Landscape Tantrums, interestingly, Ward’s effects contributions are much more apparent in the mix, and possibly even for the better – you really hear the band’s early dub influences right at the forefront here. An excellent behind-the-scenes insight into one of the most loved prog releases this side of the 2000s.

Mike Dean – 4:22

Mike Dean is one of hip-hop’s most noted sonic architects of the past decade. He’s worked alongside some of the best in the business for the better part of thirty years, most notably lending his instrumental and engineering abilities to the likes of Kanye West, Travis Scott, Beyonce, Madonna and Frank Ocean. Publicly, Dean is not just renowned as a masterful producer, but also as an absolute synth guru and a keen stoner, and it’s these two interests he leans on for his new release 4:22: a synth-heavy space odyssey released to coincide with everyone’s favourite weed holiday.

Spanning a whopping 28 tracks and almost two hours, 4:22 is best attacked in moderation, and Dean’s echo-soaked Moog noodling mightn’t be everybody’s cup of tea. That being said, for fans of his output or producers in general, it’s absolutely essential: Dean’s ability to coax out incredibly synth sounds is unfathomable, and the album is mixed wonderfully to boot – ‘Ruin’, ‘Nothing Yet’ and ‘Pangaea’ all serve as great examples of this, and should be an easy point of reference to get you started as you spark up and embark on this sprawling synth odyssey.

Catch up on last week’s release wrap-up here.