Nas, Barney McAll + more, our favourite records of the week

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Nas, Barney McAll + more, our favourite records of the week

Words by Sam McNiece

Also new ones from Geoffrey O'Connor and Billie Eilish.

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.

Billie Eilish returns with a masterclass in pop music, Nas collaborates with HitBoy for a killer follow up in King’s Disease II, Geoffrey O’Connor displays his subdued side with For As Long As I Can Remember and Barney McAll impresses with forty minutes of improvised jazz, interacting with a public sculpture.

 This week’s top picks:

  • Billie Eilish – Happier Than Ever
  • Nas – King’s Disease II
  • Geoffrey O’Connor – For As Long As I Can Remember
  • Barney McAll – Transitive Cycles

Read all the latest music news here.

Billie Eilish – Happier Than Ever

Thrust into pop stardom over the past few years, Billie Eilish has delivered a second extraordinary album with Happier Than Ever. The sophomore effort, produced by her brother Finneas in its entirety, has a unique character that has been lapped up by millions the world over.

‘My Future’, released a year ago is probably the best track on this record. It sounds incredibly personal and allows Billie’s voice to sit front and centre as she sings about being in love with herself with the same vocal delivery style as heard on Christina Aguleira’s ‘Beautiful’.

‘Therefore I Am’, is still in her subdued style but with some spoken word pieces throughout the verses talking to critics and people chatting about her. Other standouts include ‘Your Power’ which is an emotional ballad cast over acoustic guitar and ‘Lost Cause’ which features a really tight bass line around a minimal arrangement.

Check out ‘My Future’ from the record below.

Nas – King’s Disease II

One of the absolute kings of rap, Nas, follows up from his first grammy award winning album Kings Disease with the sequel, King’s Disease II. As with the previous record, this work is completely produced by Hit-Boy leaning into both boom bap and trap production styles.

It’s interesting to note that this record is produced by one person, as Nas was originally the one who broke the mould of rappers having a producer they worked with exclusively with on arguably, the best hip hop record of all time, Illmatic.

The star studded roster of features includes Eminem, Charlie Wilson and even Lauryn Hill, which is one of the best tracks on the record. ‘Nobody’ leans into a soulful boom bap production style which suits both Nas and Hill, with raps floating effortlessly over the wurly keys and intermittent horns.

Other standouts from the record include ‘No Phony Love’, ‘Death Row East’ and the lead single ‘Rare’.

Check the music video for ‘Rare’ below, welcome back king.

Geoffrey O’Connor – For As Long As I Can Remember

Melbourne based indie pop artist Geoffrey O’Connor ebbs and flows with collaborators on this collection of duets, For As Long As I Can Remember. O’Connor, who has been in the indie music scene for decades now, explores late night intimate moments with his slew of featured artists including Jonnine (HTRK), Sarah Mary Chadwick, Laura Jean and one of Australia’s if not the world’s best experimental pop musicians, Sui Zhen.

‘What A Scene’ featuring Sui Zhen, is a duet of 80s esc synth-pop class. The lyrics are at odds with the soft arrangements here as they speak of love but in a more nonchalant tone. ‘Foolish Enough’ is upbeat compared to other tracks here, a soft disco vibe featuring Laura Jean, with just the right amount of cheese to make it sit within nostalgia and understated enough to suit the vibe of the record.

Check out ‘What A Scene’ featuring Sui Zhen below.

Barney McAll – Transitive Cycles

Now, this record may not be for everyone, but if you’re into experimental jazz and cosmic prog, you’re in for a treat with this one. Enchanting through and through on Transitive Cycles, Barney McAll whose resume spans playing with Roy Ayers and Gary Bartz, experiments with public sound sculpture Federation Bells in Melbourne on this live recording.

Captured during the Melbourne International Jazz Festival, McAll’s composition is a moving and stunning piece that has to be heard to be believed. Led by his keys playing and self-made instrument “Chucky”, which is a combination of music boxes, glockenspiel, kalimba and electronics, the two recordings are of particular importance.

Check them this record out on Bandcamp below.