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 time around, we’re diving into the new one from alt-rock trailblazers The Smashing Pumpkins, as well as checking out new material from Powderfinger, Plini, Tired Lion and Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong. Bon apetite!
1. The Smashing Pumpkins – Cyr
With original members Jimmy Chamberlain and James Iha back in the fold and a whole heap of new songs to boot, ’90s alternative titans The Smashing Pumpkins are back with their 11th studio release Cyr. While the prospect of a reunited lineup hinting at a return to their past sound, Cyr sees the Pumpkins deliver one of their most pop-leaning efforts to date, and while it’s not without its flaws, it’s certainly a commendable effort to push things in a new direction.
On ‘Ramona’, William Patrick Corgan (remember when he was just called Billy?) layers his distinctive vocals with darting synthesisers and acoustic guitars to make for a gleaming synth-rock anthem, while the thumping drums of Jimmy Chamberlain make a notable appearance on the Mellotron-tinged ‘Birch Groove’.
Album highlights come in the form of ‘Wyytch’ and ‘Anno Santana’, which merges the band’s past alternative roots with their newer contemporary direction most effectively, and features some mean fretwork from Iha to boot. Cyr won’t go down as a Smashing Pumpkins classic, but the prospect of most of the group’s original lineup making music together again is certainly exciting.
2. Powderfinger – Unreleased (1998-2010)
The boys are back in town! Powderfinger have today shared a new treasure trove full of unheard goodies from their golden era, with Unreleased (1998-2020) offering fans with ten rarities to devour in the lead up to the silly season.
Even though it’s a collection of lost and unreleased tunes, there’s no filler to be found on Unreleased (1998-2010), which speaks volumes of the Brisbane band’s consistency throughout this era. ‘Diamond Ring’ pairs a raucous mid-range guitar tone with Bernard Fanning’s soaring chorus vocals for a fist-pumping tune of anthemic proportions, while ‘Daybreak’ serves up a classic Powderfinger singalong for the masses.
Of course, these kind of albums are often best suited to super fans, but with the amount of quality tracks hidden across Unreleased (1998-2010), it’s fair to say that even the most casual of Powderfinger fans will get a kick out of this one.
3. Plini – Impulse Voices
Australian instrumental wizard Plini has launched his second full-length project today with Impulse Voices, a record that’s packed full with virtuosic solos, surging grooves and enough intricate arrangements to make any music nerd stop flat in their tracks.
Enlisting the likes of Chris Allison, Simon Grove, Dave Mackay and John Waugh to back him, Impulse Voices sees Plini further assert himself as one of the country’s best electric guitarists today, with his fretwork on tracks like ‘I’ll Tell You Someday’ and the chug-worthy title track being of considerable note.
This time around, Plini untethers himself from traditional structure and timing, combining his technical ability with tasteful melodies and clever use of effects, while the record’s tendency to hop between genres like prog-rock, jazz and metal only proves testament to his insane versatility as an instrumentalist. For any budding super-shredder, Impulse Voices is a must-listen for instant inspiration.
4. Tired Lion – Breakfast For Pathetics
After the release of 2017’s Dumb Days established Tired Lion as one of the country’s best new rock acts, Tired Lion’s new album Breakfast For Pathetics seeks to tread a different path, with front woman Sophie Hopes transitioning the band into a solo vessel for her brand of cathartic indie rock.
Featuring production from Violent Soho’s Luke Boerdam, Breakfast For Pathetics stands up as as sensational follow-up to Dumb Days, with the gritty timbre of the record and Hopes’ own songwriting making the act sound tighter than ever before.
‘~Cya Later~’, written in the wake of Hopes moving from Perth to Brisbane, serves as a nostalgic ode to a past life, while on ‘Waterbed’, an unlikely kazoo helps to take the song’s late ’90s fuzzy-rock sound to new heights. Meanwhile, Hopes’ lyricism on ‘Diet Sick’ and ‘Lie To Me’ is classic punk attitude at its finest, while the scant 30 minute runtime of the record makes Breakfast For Pathetics a breezy listen to suit any scenario.
5. Billie Joe Armstrong – No Fun Mondays
On No Fun Mondays, Billie Joe Armstrong compiles a series of cover songs recorded over the COVID-19 lockdown period onto a single record, serving as the ultimate coronavirus project for the enigmatic Green Day frontman.
Featuring songs originally penned by Prince, Billy Bragg, John Lennon and more, No Fun Mondays serves as an interesting snapshot into the creative process of Armstrong. A cover of Kim Wilde’s exuberant 1981 classic ‘Kids In America’ could have very well appeared on any Green Day studio album, while ‘Amico’ puts a power pop twist on Don Backy’s original tune, with Armstrong even singing the lyrics in Italian for extra authenticity.
For a covers record made throughout one of the most turbulent periods in recent memory, No Fun Mondays is actually a pretty commendable effort, and shows that when push comes to shove, Billie Joe has still got the magic touch.
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