Nick Cave & Warren Ellis, Julien Baker + more: our five favourite records of the week
26.02.2021

Nick Cave & Warren Ellis, Julien Baker + more: our five favourite records of the week

Words by Will Brewster

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.

This time around, we’re checking out the surprise drop from Nick Cave & Warren Ellis, as well as Julien Baker’s spellbinding new studio effort, another dose of psychedelic slop from King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard and new ones from Melbourne shoegaze outfit Flyying Colours and Ohio punks Cloud Nothings.

This week’s hot picks:

  • Nick Cave & Warren Ellis – CARNAGE
  • Julien Baker – Little Oblivions 
  • King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard – L.W
  • Flyying Colours – Fantasy Country 
  • Cloud Nothings – The Shadow I Remember 

Check out last week’s round-up of new releases here.

Nick Cave & Warren Ellis – CARNAGE

Making good on their quarantine promise, dynamic duo Nick Cave and Warren Ellis have released CARNAGE – their first non-soundtrack collaborative album – unto the world. Spanning eight eclectic tracks, it’s a smorgasbord of electronic-based productions coated with Cave’s signature melodramatic presence and Ellis’ awe-inspiring string arrangements, and serves as a fascinating insight into the duo’s uncanny creative process.

‘Hand of God’ kicks the record off with a driving pulse and sweeping strings as Cave’s contorted vocals hit a peak overhead, while ‘Old Time’ layers sinister synths and pianos atop of a subtle breakbeat, snarling guitars interjecting Cave’s lucid storytelling at random points throughout the song. ‘White Elephant’, meanwhile, verges on trip-hop territory with its rumbling sub bass and skunked out drum loops, with Cave sounding as menacing as ever as he growls death threats – ‘I’ll shoot you all for free / If you ever think about coming around here / I’ll shoot you in the fucking face’ – before the track explodes into a Flaming Lips-like psych ballad.

As far as spontaneous lockdown albums go, you’d be hard-pressed to find anything more fascinating than what Cave and Ellis have got to offer on CARNAGE. 

Julien Baker – Little Oblivions

Perhaps one of the most captivating songwriters today, Julien Baker is back at her melancholic best on new album Little Oblivions, a record that expands on the sonics of Turn Out The Lights and Sprained Ankle and presents Baker at her most vulnerable and endearing yet.

In contrast to her first two releases, Little Oblivions sees Baker join up with a live band to colour the space around her songwriting, and the extra instrumental contributions work a treat. The syncopated drums and driving synth bass on ‘Bloodshot’ make for one of the record’s most poignant moments, whereas on ‘Hardline’, Baker’s pained vocals are backed by a hotbed of ebbing strings and synths to transcend what would have been a sparse ballad into a great wash of colour.

Elsewhere, Baker’s trademark guitar plucking and breathtaking harmonies pepper tracks like ‘Relative Fiction’ and ‘Favor’, with the lyrics of each song proving to be consequentially devastating as the album goes on. As to be expected, another sensational effort from the acclaimed Tennessee artist.

King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard – L.W

Yep, they’re back at it. Only months after dropping K.G in November, Melbourne’s favourite psych-rockers King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard have unleashed a sequel to the album in the form of L.W. Another chapter in the band’s ever-growing fascination with microtonal instruments, L.W is a record that sees the band toying away with new concepts with reckless abandon, for better or worse.

‘If Not Now, Then When?’ starts the album with a flush of noise before jolting into a jaunty Clavinet groove, with off-kilter vibraphones and a relentless breakbeat driving the song. ‘O.N.E’ sees the band whip out the Microtonal Banana for another psychy slog that blends beautifully into the jammy ‘Pleura’, while ‘Supreme Ascendancy’ features some of the best drumming on the record by a mile.

Although L.W does lose its momentum as it goes on – ‘East West Link’ and ‘Ataraxia’ are both basically stock-standard Gizz numbers, and ‘K.G.L.W’ sounds more like a doom parody if anything – it’s nonetheless another interesting addition to the band’s catalogue, and we already know that it’ll be a treat to see them play it in the flesh.

Flyying Colours – Fantasy Country 

Five years on from their impressive debut LP Mindfullness, Melbourne shoegazers Flyying Colours are back with Fantasy Country, a killer collection of cosmic rock tracks that asserts the band as one of the best in their scene today.

Opening with the one-two punch of ‘Goodtimes’ and ‘Big Mess’, Fantasy Country is jam-packed with golden moments of songwriting and sonic wizardry alike. ‘OK’ is a beautifully melancholic note to depression and despair, while ‘It’s Real’ carries all the hallmarks of a cinematic indie banger with its hushed vocals, melodic bassline and ethereal synth pads.

‘White Knuckles’, meanwhile, sees Flyying Colours at their shoegazey best with its swooping guitars and pounding drumming, with ‘This One’ and ‘Boarding Pass’ ending the record off in sensational fashion. All-in-all, a sophomore effort that’s panned out to be well worth the wait.

Cloud Nothings – The Shadow I Remember 

On their eighth full-length outing The Shadow I Remember – which also acts as their second album in eight months – Ohio indie-punks Cloud Nothings play to their strengths and deliver a short, sharp dose of rollicking bangers that speaks volumes of the band’s evolution over the past decade.

Assembled over email and pieced together with the assistance of Steve Albini, The Shadow I Remember may lack the energy and immediacy of a traditional Cloud Nothings LP, but there’s still much to be excited about this time around. The duelling guitars and stirring vocals of ‘Open Rain’ match that of ‘The Spirit Of’ and make for a strong moment in the album’s mid-stretch, while the chainsaw riffs and darting drums of ‘It’s Love’ are complemented by one of the record’s most passionate performances from the band.

Ending on a high with ‘A Longer Moon’ and ‘The Room It Was’, The Shadow I Remember mightn’t be the raucous album some Cloud Nothings fans would hope it to be, but there’s still enough carefree punk rock peppered across this one to make it more than just a pleasant listening experience.

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