Tune into this week's best albums.
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.
To get stuck into the first week of March, we’re spinning the electrifying debut LP from young Canberra artist Genesis Owusu and a captivating return to form from Scotland’s Arab Strap, as well as offerings from Kings Of Leon, Mere Women and Jesswar.
This week’s hot picks:
- Genesis Owusu – Smiling With No Teeth
- Arab Strap – As Days Get Dark
- Kings Of Leon – When You See Yourself
- Mere Women – Romantic Notions
- Jesswar – Tropixx EP
Revisit the best albums from last week here.
Genesis Owusu – Smiling With No Teeth
An expansive, ambitious debut from Canberra multi-disciplinary Genesis Owusu, Smiling With No Teeth might just be the best Australian album released so far this year. Across 15 tracks, Kofi Owusu-Ansah traverses everything from gritty industrial, jarring post-punk, jazz-funk and slow-burning folk and wraps it all up in a neat package to totally redefine just what Australian hip-hop can be.
Opening with the jittery, Death Grips-esque ‘On The Move!’, it’s apparent from the get-go that Kofi is cut from a different cloth. Previously released singles like ‘The Other Black Dog’ and ‘Whip Cracker’ are imbued with lively post-punk instrumentation – courtesy an all-star band featuring Touch Sensitive and Kirin J Callinan, who also duets with Kofi on the masterful new-wave cut ‘Drowning’ – while Owusu-Ansah’s abrasive vocals and metaphor-heavy lyricism on tracks like ‘I Don’t See Colour’ and ‘Black Dogs!’ help to showcase his uncanny artistic vision.
‘Gold Chains’ and ‘I Don’t Need You’ both serve as a fine entry point into the album, while the Harvey Sutherland-produced jam ‘Easy’ and the bizarrely pretty soft-rock cut ‘A Song About Fishing’ ensure that Smiling With No Teeth ends on a high. This one’s an album that commands your attention and seeks to challenge you at every turn, but man, is it rewarding!
Arab Strap – As Days Get Dark
16 years after their last album, pivotal Scottish duo Arab Strap are back with As Days Get Dark. Touted as one of the year’s most anticipated releases, it’s an album that’s dark, deranged and insanely unique, and it might just hold up as the band’s best effort yet.
Built around a palate of atmospheric strings, acoustic guitars and analogue drum machines, As Days Get Dark is certainly the most sonically ambitious record to carry the Arab Strap name-tag, yet the expanded sonics do nothing to detract from the captivating vocal performances of Aidan Moffat. With his classic half-sung-half-spoken performance style, Moffat carves out a new lane for himself as a songwriter across the record, with cuts like ‘Fable Of The Urban Fox’ and ‘Another Clockwork Day’ showcasing his twisted approach to poetry and storytelling wonderfully.
Other cuts like ‘Kebabylon’ introduce screeching jazz saxophones into the Arab Strap canon, while penultimate track ‘Sleeper’ makes for a winding journey through Moffat’s mind. Despite their 16 year absence, it seems crystal clear that Arab Strap have still got their craft down pat – this one’s definitely a winner.
Kings Of Leon – When You See Yourself
Sure, Kings Of Leon might have lost the same oomph-factor that they had 15 years ago – you know, back before ‘Sex On Fire’ and ‘Use Somebody’ went on to rule the airwaves – but don’t let that detract from the fact that these guys still know how to knuckle down and churn out a good track or two. Arriving today, the band’s eighth album When You See Yourself marks a considerable return to form for the Followills, and holds up as the band’s best album since 2008’s Only By The Night.
Although the record gets off to a bit of a slow start with ‘When You See Yourself, Are You Far Away’ and ‘The Bandit’, When You See Yourself starts to really kick off in the mid-stretch with ‘Stormy Weather’, spotlighting Jared Followill’s irresistibly groovy bass playing and featuring some gnarly slide guitar. The hot-streak is continued with ‘A Wave’ and ‘Golden Restless Age’, the latter being reminiscent of Future Islands’ synth-heavy take on indie rock and making for one of the album’s best tracks.
While tail-end acoustic cuts like ‘Claire & Eddie’ and ‘Fairytale’ do end the album on a sombre note, When You See Yourself nonetheless shows that Kings Of Leon still have a few good tricks up their sleeve after all these years – don’t write them off just yet!
Mere Women – Romantic Notions
On their fourth LP Romantic Notions, Mere Women tap into themes of despair, control and anxiety and wrap them into bounding post-punk jams that go frighteningly hard. The album, recorded last March as the world began to go into lockdown, carries a foreboding sense of dread that makes it all the more unique, with the Sydney band going to new efforts to expand their sonics and make Romantic Notions stand up as an essential entry into their discography.
‘Someone Loves You’ and ‘W.Y’G’ sees the band experiment with glistening ’80s synths to exciting effect, while the raucous drums and angular guitars of ‘Heights’ and ‘As You Please’ make for one of the album’s most dizzying moments. Elsewhere, ‘Spell’ and ‘Imperfectly’ each act as a scathing hot injection of textural post-punk fuckery, while ‘It’s All out Now’ ends the record with a slow-burning piano ballad, showcasing Amy Wilson’s soaring vocals to make for a killer grand finale.
Jesswar – Tropixx EP
Marking her first ever EP and her inaugural release on Inertia Music, Tropixx sees Fijian/Australian rapper Jesswar line up her rivals and aim for the neck with six high octane cuts that spotlight her vicious energy, cadence and a knack for subwoofer-rumbling beats.
The project kicks off with the aptly-named ‘Hit Em With Bass’, which sees the Sydney-based MC float on top of a destructively minimal instrumental with the assistance of Kobi Spice. ‘Laylow’, meanwhile, makes mean use of an accordion sample and one of the hardest flexes of all time as Jesswar stakes the claim to being ‘the first one to say c*nt on Triple J’. Hard!
‘Medusa’ packs a hard-hitting instrumental that could have come straight off the hard-drive of Hudson Mohwake or RL Grime, while ‘Saucy’ and ‘Venom’ keep the energy high as Jesswar comes through with the goods in the lyrical department, oozing confidence at every possible turn. If these six tracks are anything to go by, Jesswar is on track to be one of Australia’s next biggest names in hip-hop, and we can’t wait to see what else she’s got in the works.
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