The cream of the crop for this week.
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.
This week, we’ve got an absolute treat with the stellar new album from The Avalanches, as well as a welcome return to form from Kid Cudi, the debut mixtape from Tasman Keith, a 20 year celebration of Deftones’ White Pony and a sweet covers EP from James Blake. Let’s get it started!
The Avalanches – We Will Always Love You
With their third album, The Avalanches abandon the hype and mysticism that shrouded Since I Left You and Wildflower in favour of a gloriously indulgent, feature-packed expedition into the cosmos. Spanning a staggering 25 tracks, We Will Always Love You is without a doubt The Avalanches most ambitious effort to date, with the Australian production duo collating a fascinating smorgasbord of lucid dance, contemporary hip-hop, indie pop and lush psychedelia to reinstate their status as one of the country’s most forward-thinking musical groups today.
On ‘The Divine Chord’, The Avalanches pair MGMT with some funk-tinged guitars from Johnny Marr, while recent single ‘Interstellar Love’ sees them link up with Leon Bridges for the record’s poppiest moment. Meanwhile, enigmatic Janes Addiction frontman Perry Farrell pops up for a brief disco sojourn on ‘Oh The Sunn!’, and The Clash’s Mick Jones even makes an appearance with Cola Boy on ‘We Go On’. Although Karen O and Kurt Vile’s features are too subdued to be jaw-dropping moments on the tracklist, Tricky, Sampa The Great, Denzel Curry and Pink Siifu’s features across the album prove to be standouts, and ‘Wherever You Go’ with Jamie xx, Neneh Cherry and CLYPSO also serves as a major highlight – yet it’s on their own where The Avalanches shine best.
Songs like ‘Music Makes Me High’, ‘Born To Lose’ and ‘Weightless’ are bound to go down as some of The Avalanches’ best cuts yet, with the duo pairing relentless rhythms with immersive synths and their trademark sample trickery to sensational effect. And speaking of samples, you’re bound to find some gold scattered across We Will Always Love You, yet perhaps not in the way you expect to: this time around, they’re much more muted and complementary, reinforcing instead of interjecting. This is an album that proves The Avalanches are no longer limited to crunchy samplers and crates of 7″ obscurities to create their rich sonic odysseys – rather, they’re just another colour on the palate to paint with.
Kid Cudi – Man On The Moon III – The Chosen
Kid Cudi’s influence upon today’s downtrodden, woozy brand of melodic hip-hop can’t be ignored. Although his output over the past ten years has been patchy at best – sure, his Kanye West collaboration Kids See Ghosts was amazing, but possibly not enough to erase the woeful Speedin’ Bullet 2 Heaven from the minds of fans – the Cleveland MC has made a return to his acclaimed Man On The Moon series ten years on for a third instalment, The Chosen, marking an impressive return to form for the beloved personality.
Cudi has always opted for a moody sonic palate to pair with his introspective lyrics, and on The Chosen, he doubles down on this, teaming up with longtime collaborators Mike Dean, Plain Pat, Dot da Genius and Emile Hayne for 18 tracks packed with rumbling bass, twinkling synth arpeggios and so much humming. ‘Heaven On Earth’ and ‘Another Day’ sees Cudi dip in and out of a slippery sung/rap flow ala his protege Travis Scott, while he glides atop of a sensational beat-switch on ‘She Knows This’ – a surefire Mike Dean moment – to make for one of the record’s finest moments.
Elsewhere, an unlikely duet with Phoebe Bridgers on ‘Lovin’ Me’ proves to be an unsuspecting gem, while on album centrepiece ‘The Void’, Cudi shines a light on his own mental state, addressing the troubles he’s overcome in recent years to triumph today. Considering the impact he’s had upon the shape of hip-hop today, it’s such a joy to hear Cudi back and making music that not only affirms his influence, but reminds us that he’s got plenty more to give yet. An incredible return to form.
Tasman Keith – To Whom It May Concern
One of the fastest rising names in Australian hip-hop, Tasman Keith’s debut mixtape To Whom It May Concern is a victory lap for the Bowraville rapper. It’s short, but it’s sweet as hell, with Tasman Keith’s scattershot flows and socially conscious lyrics taking centre stage across five well-crafted tracks that’ll rattle your trunk without compromising on the message at hand.
‘THESE DEVILS’ and ‘CONFIDENT’ see Tasman Keith shine a light on systemic racism atop of hard-knocking beats, while ’65’ pairs him with Wire MC and Gamirez for a slick posse cut that sees all parties flex their rhyming prowess.
On the lucid, atmospheric project closer ‘ANSWER’, Tasman Keith laments the loss of his cousin alongside an airy vocal feature from Vallis Alps’ Parissa Tosif, showcasing his melodic prowess and knack for hard-hitting lyricism. There’s few out there today doing it like Tasman Keith does it, and we can’t wait to hear what else he’s got in store for us in the years to come.
Deftones – White Pony / Black Stallion
Half a reissue and half a remix album, White Pony / Black Stallion marks 20 years of Deftones’ nu-metal classic by offering a number of reinterpretations of the original record, featuring remixes from eclectic personalities like Robert Smith, Clams Casino, Squarepusher and DJ Shadow. Of course, White Pony is amazing, and you already know that – so let’s turn our focus to Black Stallion, an intriguing project that flips White Pony totally onto its head and revitalises Deftones’ classic for modern ears.
It’s remix albums like this that really show you how well White Pony has aged. DJ Shadow’s remix of ‘Digital Bath’ is a tremendous trip-hop journey that spotlights Chino Moreno’s impassioned vocals, while Paul Salva’s take on ‘Rx Queen’ is a glitched-out, hard-smacking journey into the Matrix.
‘Knife Prty’ gets turned into a wonky, skittish odyssey thanks to Purity Ring and their vocal treatments, while The Cure’s Robert Smith turns ‘Teenager’ into an atmospheric, pleasantly surprising ambient track. Tourist takes Deftones to the dance floor on ‘Change (In The House Of Flies), and ‘Pink Maggit’ turns into an annihilating mess of noise thanks to Squarepusher to finish the project off in fine form.
James Blake – Covers EP
After releasing one of 2019’s most serene albums with Assume Form, James Blake has spent the majority of his time in lockdown this year behind the piano, serenading fans on Instagram with gentle covers to showcase his breathtaking vocals and chordal chops. He’s now collated six of the best renditions into a single EP, fittingly titled Covers, and what a doozy it is.
Kicking off with a swooning take on Billie Eilish’s ‘when the party’s over’, Covers also sees Blake turn in a wonderfully stark cover of Joy Division’s ‘Atmosphere’, as well as Stevie Wonder’s ‘Never Dreamed You’d Leave In Summer’, demonstrating his ability to navigate changes and rip through vibrato like nobody’s business.
However, the big highlight here comes in the form of ‘Godspeed’ – a magnificent cover of Frank Ocean’s Blonde standout – it’s a total tearjerker, and Blake’s vocal performance on it is simply spellbinding. Ten points to you if you don’t choke up listening to this one.
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