Plus Iceage, Nancy Wilson and The Bamboos.
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 week, we’re getting stuck into the swan song from pivotal Australian hip-hop duo REMI and a frenetic full-length debut from Warp Records signees Squid, as well as the new one from Danish punks Iceage, Heart lead vocalist Nancy Wilson’s solo debut and the latest from local funk lords The Bamboos.
This week’s top picks:
- REMI – Fried
- Squid – Bright Green Field
- Iceage – Seek Shelter
- Nancy Wilson – You And Me
- The Bamboos – Hard Up
Read all the latest Music News here.
REMI – Fried
It’s hard to overstate the significance of Remi Kolawole and Sensible J’s musical partnership under REMI over the past decade. Combining J’s organic, funk-tinged instrumentation with Remi’s free-flowing cadence and colourful lyricism, the duo played a pivotal role in kicking down the door for a new era of Australian hip-hop, and their influence over today’s new school of talent is immeasurable.
Today, REMI release Fried: their third, and final, full-length outing as a duo, originally slated for release in April of 2020 and subsequently delayed by the pandemic. It marks the end of a remarkable creative run for the duo, who bow out as champions on a record that sees them navigating 13 masterfully produced grooves with style and grace.
Getting off to an explosive start with the skeletal funk of ‘Reptile’ and the record’s bouncy lead single ‘5 A.M.’, which sees Kolawole bend his flow to the limit over a Kaytranada-esque beat, Fried careens further into danceable territory on ‘The Times’ and its soulful, sparse follow-up ‘Finesse It’. Here, Remi’s introspective lyricism juxtaposes J’s polyrhythmic drumming and strategically placed bass hits, making for one of the record’s strongest moments, while the staggered G-Funk of ‘Elevate’ sees Remi loosen up and tap into the irresistibly slippery flow he first bounded onto the scene with as a teenager.
‘Uneasy’ and the sublime ‘Brain’ help add a touch of tenderness to Fried’s mid-stretch, while ‘Full Of Tar’ acts as one of the record’s best lyrical tour-de-forces. Whosane and Baasto accompany Remi for a posse cut on ‘Warrior Tribe’ before ‘Get It Right’ adds vocalist Jace XL into the mix for a fitting end to the project.
Whatever their reason for pursuing individual endeavours may be, both Remi and Sensible J can look back on their legacy as REMI with pride: their contributions to Australia’s contemporary hip-hop landscape are difficult to diminish, and Fried is one hell of a way to go.
Squid – Bright Green Field
Another stellar offering from London’s young crop of post-punk acts, Bright Green Field is the jarring debut record from Warp Records signees Squid. Drawing upon avant-garde, jazz, art-punk and Krautrock and integrating socio-political lyricism and on-the-nose cultural commentary, it’s a fascinating debut from a group who seem primed to explore unrestricted creative horizons.
‘G.S.K.’ functions as one of the record’s more conventional tracks with its glazed groove and intricate horn lines, while ‘Narrators’ almost sounds as if Antidotes-era Foals made a collaboration with Yoko Ono thanks to a knock-out performance from Martha Skye Murphy. Squid’s art-punk ethos comes out to play again in ‘Boy Racers’, which features some of the album’s most addictive guitar playing before dissolving into an anxious wash of ambient noise at the end.
‘Paddling’ sees the group tackle a motorik groove with ease and imbues some jazzy guitar chords atop for good measure, with the band’z jazz chops making an appearance on the polyrhythm-heavy ‘2010’. Meanwhile, ‘Documentary Filmmaker’ is a bizarre (but brilliant) trumpet-heavy track that makes use of a spooky analogue synth sequence, while the frenetic energy of closing tracks ‘Peel St.’, ‘Global Groove’ and the excellent ‘Pamphlet’s helps to assert Bright Green Field as a triumphant effort from one of London’s most exciting new groups.
Iceage – Seek Shelter
Danish band Iceage are best known for their scorching, sub-two minute punk songs, but on their new album Seek Shelter, they pursue a fist-pumping brand of indie rock that puts their songwriting on a pedestal to create some of their most uniquely explosive tracks to date.
The opening title track, which carries a subtle Britpop influence, sets a tone for the record that’s shortly followed by another soaring chorus in ‘Love Kills Slowly’, with the treatment to Elias Bender Rønnenfelt’s vocal’s almost making it feel like some kind of narcotic Julian Casablancas deep cut. ‘Vendetta’, on the other hand, is a straight up arena rock stomper with a blues rock influence, while ‘Gold City’ almost sounds as it could’ve dominated ’70s soft rock radio thanks to its jaunty chorus piano.
This vibe carries onto the end of Seek Shelter’s runtime, with ‘The Wider Powder Blue’ and ‘The Holding Hand’ both sharing massive chorus hooks and explosive instances of production. It might seem like a funny evolution from their earlier material, but on Seek Shelter, Iceage are sounding stronger than ever.
Nancy Wilson – You And Me
An icon of the ’70s and ’80s rock landscape thanks to her work with Heart, Nancy Wilson’s new record You And Me functions as her first-ever solo effort, and sees the accomplished guitarist and singer meld hard rock and Americana on a rather impressively written, if not slightly unpolished, record.
‘You and Me’ starts the album off with a hushed acoustic cut that spotlights Wilson’s fingerpicking ability and vocal harmonies, before ‘The Rising’ picks up the pace with a roaring distorted guitar lead and would stand up as one of the record’s best tracks, if only the snare and mandolins were mixed better. A cover of Pearl Jam’s ‘Daughter’ marks a particularly strong moment for Wilson’s vocals on the record, while ‘Party at the Angel Ballroom’ sees the Heart legend link up with Duff McKagan and Taylor Hawkins for hard-edged highlight.
Elsewhere, Sammy Hagar pops up to contribute vocals on a cover of ‘The Boxer’, while ‘The Inbetween’ is a bona-fide country rock gem. It’s on the record’s last two tracks where Wilson’s talent as a guitarist really peeks through the cracks: the fingerpicking on ‘We Meet Again’ perfectly counters Wilson’s own vocal melodies, while the instrumental closer ‘4 Edward’ creates a fitting end to the LP.
The Bamboos – Hard Up
Local funk stalwarts The Bamboos are back at it on Hard Up, blending retro soul influences with relentless breakbeats for another all-too-danceable full-length outing. With a sound similar to acts like The Dap-Kings and the Menahan Street Band, you always know what you’re getting into with a Bamboos record, and that’s what makes them such a great group: consistency is key, and when it comes to performance and groove, these guys can do it better than anybody.
‘Power Without Greed’ is ripped straight from the ’70s jazz-funk playbook with its slinky flute solos and semi-quaver guitar strums, with ‘While You Sleep’ takes cues from Wall of Sound and Motown-style production and songwriting for an early feel-good soul cut. Meanwhile, the tight rhythmic interplay and percussion of ‘Nothing I Wanna Know About’ marks one of vocalist Kylie Auldist’s best performances on record, and ‘It’s All Gonna Be O.K’ plates up some remarkable bass playing and songwriting that recalls the likes of Curtis Mayfield.
Elsewhere, Durand Jones makes a memorable appearance on the swaggering cut ‘If Not Now (Then When)’, while the Meters-esque ‘Upwey Funk’ sees guitarist Lance Ferguson and Hammond organist Daniel Mougerman’s instrumental chops shine. More than two decades into their career, The Bamboos only seem to be ageing like fine wine, and Hard Up is just the proof in the pudding.
Check out all our favourite albums from last week here.