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.
For this week, we’re spotlighting three brilliant local releases from Something for Kate, King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard and Nick Cave, as well as a jarring avant-garde metal epic from Liturgy and an incredible live album from The War On Drugs. Tuck in – the weekend is right around the corner.
Something For Kate – The Modern Medieval
Perhaps one of the most consistent Australian rock groups of the past 25 years, Something For Kate are a true national treasure: I’m still under the impression that Paul Dempsey has never written a bad song, and alongside the rhythm section of Stephanie Ashworth and Clint Hyndman, the band form a sonic force that’s nothing short of perfect.
On The Modern Medieval – the band’s first full-length in eight years – the trio return for a ten-track affair that showcases everything that made them great in the first place. On ‘Supercomputer’ and ‘All The Great Minds’, Dempsey’s songwriting sounds just as sharp as it was on Echolalia and The Official Fiction, and his guitar playing on ‘Our Extinguished Colleague’ is frenetic as hell. As always, Ashworth and Hyndman’s work on bass and drums is just as rocksteady as ever across the album, and Bernard Fanning even pops up for a duet on ‘Inside Job’.
After eight years away from the grind, it seems like Something For Kate have managed to recharge their batteries and come back swinging on The Modern Medieval, making for one of the most fulfilling Aussie rock records released this quarter.
King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard – KG
Globetrotting Melbourne psychonauts King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard are back with KG; their sixteenth (!!!) album in just ten years. Dubbed as a sonic sequel to their acclaimed Flying Microtonal Banana – the first album in the band’s mighty five record run of 2017 – KG sees the band whip out their modified microtonal instruments yet again for another bash-about, delivering a fun ten-track offering that sees the band hopping between genres with reckless abandon without ever compromising the album’s sonic cohesion.
Recent single ‘Automation’ pairs a classic fuzzy rock riff with a quirky narrative about the impending robot takeover from Stu Mackenzie, while the jarring rhythms and keyboards that comprise ‘Some Of Us’ help to make for one of the record’s weirder moments.
Meanwhile, ‘Ontology’ pairs a Clavinet with a driving Afro-Cuban rhythm for a bizarre shot of funk in the middle stretch of the album, and on ‘Intrasport’, the band even try their hand at squelchy acid house, complete with airy disco strings and microtonal wah-wah guitar before closing things out with the doomy, feedback-drenched freakout of ‘The Hungry Wolf of Fate’.
It’s unlikely to top Flying Microtonal Banana or Nonagon Infinity in the pantheon of the Gizzverse, but nonetheless, KG proves that King Gizzard are still right up at the top of their game. At this stage, they’ve got nothing else they need to prove – so why not just have some fun?
Nick Cave – Idiot Prayer
Initially released as a concert film from London’s Alexandra Palace earlier in June, Nick Cave’s Idiot Prayer has today received an official release, with the 22-song record being available on streaming services as well as CD and vinyl.
Paired with just a piano, Cave is left to wax lyrical atop of a barebones instrumental palate, with his set-list featuring cuts from Grinderman, early Bad Seeds and his most recent effort Ghosteen. Here, Cave is in his element, with renditions of ‘Palaces of Montezuma’ and the live debut of ‘Euthanasia’ both stacking up as album highlights thanks to the Australian polymath’s nimble piano playing and lyrical conviction, while the back-to-back versions of ‘Into Your Arms’ and ‘The Ship Song’ towards the final stretch of the album is certain to draw a few tears.
While its piano-only format may lend it more towards the ears of Cave super-fans and not the average listener, Idiot Prayer nonetheless presents an enchanting snapshot of one of the country’s most compelling songwriters.
Liturgy – Origin of the Alimonies
Black metal outfit Liturgy are renowned as one of the most challenging, pencil-pushing acts in the heavy-sphere today, and on their new album Origin of the Alimonies – derived from the band’s opera of the same name – they demonstrate exactly why this is the case.
Adorned with rich orchestral arrangements, church organs, eardrum-obliterating instrumental passages and unsuspecting flourishes of hip-hop, Origin of the Alimonies is as unsettling as it is awe-inspiring. On ‘Lonely OIOION’, Hunter Hunt-Hendrix’s growls and yelps are paired with glitchy stop-start electronics and soaring strings for a sensational hybridised affair, while the piano and 808-inflected Djent cut ‘SIHEYMN’S Lament’ makes for an absolute show-stopper of a tune.
Of course, this record’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea: avant-garde metal isn’t known to be a genre that’s very easy on the years, and it’s probably not one you’ll want to play over a social dinner. However, if you’re up for a challenge, Origin of the Alimonies is right up there with one of the year’s best experimental efforts.
The War On Drugs – LIVE DRUGS
On LIVE DRUGS, Adam Granduciel and co. deliver a sublime live album that takes the studio-centric of The War On Drugs and fleshes them out into bona-fide stadium rock anthems. Instead of featuring an entire recording of a singular concert, LIVE DRUGS acts as a compilation of recordings from over 40 hard drives from a number of past tours, capturing the band’s evolution over the course of a decade and resulting in an album that’s all killer and no filler.
On ‘Pain’ Granduciel’s fretwork is simply mind-boggling, while an early rendition of ‘Strangest Thing’ hints at just how much of an anthem the song would soon evolve into on 2017’s A Deeper Understanding. Elsewhere, a pleasant cover of Warren Zevon’s ‘Accidentally Like A Martyr’ is thrown into the mix for good measure, while in the extended guitar solo of ‘Under The Pressure’, the crowd can be heard in the background screaming out Granduciel’s guitar solo to make for a moment that’s sure to cause some goosebumps.
As The War On Drugs continue to toil away in the studio on album number five, LIVE DRUGS is a wonderful salve for those fans eagerly awaiting new material. It’s sonically rich, technically proficient and rousing as ever, and acts as yet another reminder of the band’s status as one of the best American rock groups of the past decade.
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