Paul McCartney, London Grammar + more: our five favourite records of the week
16.04.2021

Paul McCartney, London Grammar + more: our five favourite records of the week

Words by Will Brewster

Dip into this week's new releases.

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.

Today, we’re spotlighting a star-studded rework of Paul McCartney’s most recent effort McCartney III, plus the new one from London Grammar and three strong statements from local acts Jaguar Jonze, Billy Davis and Cale Sexton.

This week’s top picks:

  • Paul McCartney – McCartney III Imagined 
  • London Grammar – Californian Soil
  • Jaguar Jonze – ANTIHERO
  • Billy Davis – This Is What’s Important 
  • Cale Sexton – Sustain

Read all the latest music news here.

Paul McCartney – McCartney III Imagined 

On his 18th solo album McCartney III, Beatles legend Paul McCartney served up 11 impressive genre-blending, self-recorded tracks that proved he’s just as sharp a musician than he ever has been.

McCartney III Imagined takes these 11 originals and hurls them out to some of the biggest names in contemporary music – think St. Vincent, Khruangbin, Beck, Phoebe Bridgers, Radiohead’s Ed O’Brien and more – to put their owns stylistic flair onto for a smash of covers and remixes. It’s an ambitious project, but for the main part, McCartney III Imagined pays off tremendously, and ultimately serves as just another reminder of the enduring allure of McCartney’s musical prowess.

Opener ‘Find My Way’ sees McCartney duet with Beck on a Talking Heads-esque funk romp, while Khruangbin turn ‘Pretty Boys’ into a hip-shaking future dub shuffle to make for one of the record’s best moments. St. Vincent’s remix of ‘Women And Wives’ is about as bombastic and sauntering as you’d hope for it to be, and Blood Orange’s rework of ‘Deep Down’ combines house pianos and reversed guitar solos in a great psychedelic wash before Damon Albarn appears for a pleasantly surprising, skunked-out trip-hop take on ‘Late Tailed Winter Bird’.

While some of the record’s features do feel a little off-kilter – Phoebe Bridgers and Josh Homme just don’t seem to mesh well with McCartney’s style on their respective tracks, and Ed O’Brien’s remix of ‘Slidin’ is a surprising detour for him – McCartney III Imagined ends strongly with the Anderson .Paak remix of ‘When Winter Comes’ and an 11-minute rave rework of ‘Deep Deep Feeling’ from 3D RDN (Robert Del Naja of Massive Attack). It’s a true joy to hear McCartney’s songs reworked in so many creative styles, and a triumph for the art of the remix album as a whole.

London Grammar – Californian Soil

Californian Soil marks the third full-length release from British indie-pop darlings London Grammar. It marks a distinctive sonic achievement for the group, who dip into swampy electronics and atmospheric textures to pillow lead vocalist Hannah Reid, her voice sounding more confident and impacting than ever before.

An ambient introduction leads into the lumbering, trip-hop inspired title track, while Reid’s reverb-drenched vocal harmonies bloom atop of swirling electronics and chest-beating 808s on ‘Missing’. The breathtaking ‘Lose Your Head’ and contemporary electronica of ‘Lord It’s A Feeling’ both showcase the arrangement nous of instrumentalists Dan Rothman and Dot Major, while on ‘How Does It Feel’, an irresistibly groovy bassline collides with swooping Prophet pads for Californian Soil’s most danceable moment.

Last year’s comeback single ‘Baby It’s You’ still remains a major highlight of Californian Soil and one of the best produced London Grammar songs yet, and tracks like ‘Call Your Friends’ and ‘Talking’ show that the band can still do their early brand of hushed indie pop better than most. An inspiring effort from a group that continue to grow impressively as artists with each new release.

Jaguar Jonze – ANTIHERO

Following on from last year’s Diamond & Liquid Gold EP, Brisbane’s Jaguar Jonze continues her artistic ascent with a new five-track offering ANTIHERO. Thanks to Jonze’s theatrical performances, clever production and an uncanny overall aesthetic, it marks another clear win for the all-encompassing creative powerhouse, and is surely her most refined project yet.

The gnarly distorted guitars and menacing low-end cohesion of opening tracks ‘TESSELLATIONS’ and ‘DEADALIVE’ kicks ANTIHERO off to a commanding start, with Jonze’s lyricism and vocal performances making them all the more magnetising.

MURDER’ melds whiny synthesisers and industrial-tinged production aspects and ‘CURLED IN’ is almost reminiscent of golden era-Muse thanks to its thudding bassline and sing-song guitar line, while the tension and production wizardry of closer ‘ASTRONAUT’ sees Jaguar Jonze in her element with big vocal leaps and symphonic strings.

Billy Davis – This Is What’s Important

A stalwart member of Melbourne’s neo-soul scene and The Operatives collective, Billy Davis steps out with his sophomore release This Is What’s Important: a smash of soulful R&B, gospel-tinged hip-hop and future-funk. It’s a solid remember of his talent as a producer, arranger and keyboardist, and is jam-packed with impressive guest turns from artists far near and wide.

Local rapper and fellow Operatives member Jordan Dennis continues to stand out as one of Melbourne’s best MCs on cuts like ‘Headspace’ and ‘Paranoid’ – the latter of which features some impressive chord changes from Davis – while groovy numbers like ‘Shoulda Known’ with VanJess and Matt McGhee and the Phoelix and Dennis-featuring ‘Wilderness’ stand out as album highlights.

‘Dream No More’ sees Ruel and Genesis Owusu come together for one of This Is What’s Important’s most poignant numbers, one of the many songs that touches on themes of love, loss and resilience that Billy explores, with the recent loss of his mother inspiring much of the album’s direction. It’s impressive to see Davis embrace such topics through such a joyful, charismatic style of music, with This Is What’s Important easily being his most comprehensive production to date.

Cale Sexton – Sustain

Immersive and spellbindingly well-produced, Sustain is the latest release from Melbourne electronic artist Cale Sexton, who was commissioned by the City of Melbourne to create a composition for computer-controlled bells and electronics, including the city’s grandiose Federation Bells. It’s at once hypnotic and intriguing, with Sexton’s dynamic approach to hardware equipment colliding with an age-old instrument in spectacular fashion over five compositions.

The clanging bells resonate constantly across Sustain as analogue synthesisers and drum loops dip in and out in a near seamless manner, which the project’s split title tracks – both of which bookend the piece – perfectly showcase.

The record’s three middle tracks, on the other hand, are deceptively groovy, with ‘The Smell Of Dirt’ juxtaposing the bells with a resonant bass sequence and pulsating electronic twinkles and ‘Slowgear’ and ‘Refurb’ seeing off-kilter drums and darting arpeggios intuitively meld together in harmony. A wonderful collision of context that upholds Sexton’s status as one of Melbourne’s most intriguing electronic musicians today.

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