Sink into the best releases of the week.
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 spotlighting The Weather Station’s sensational new full-length effort Ignorance and the heartache of Melbourne singer-songwriter Sarah Mary Chadwick’s Me and Ennui Are Friends, Baby, as well as a hip-shaking double album from afrobeat royalty Femi and Made Kuti, the fuzzy sounds of Perth’s Psychedelic Porn Crumpets and a sinister soundtrack from the master of horror, John Carpenter. Dig in.
This week’s top picks:
- The Weather Station – Ignorance
- Sarah Mary Chadwick – Me and Ennui Are Friends, Baby
- Femi Kuti & Made Kuti – Legacy +
- Psychedelic Porn Crumpets – SHYGA! The Sunlight Mound
- John Carpenter – Lost Themes III – Alive After Death
Missed last week’s hot picks? Catch up here.
The Weather Station – Ignorance
On previous releases under her The Weather Station moniker, Tamara Lindeman has pursued a style akin to folk, country and Americana, with her eponymous 2017 release seeing her condense the toils of her past projects into a watertight full-length that seemed to define her sound. On her new album Ignorance, she’s totally smashed that sound apart in favour of driving rhythms and serene chordal arrangements that draw upon new wave and post rock, with Lindeman’s urgent narratives of climate anxiety and the woes of commercialisation making for her best album to date.
Part of what makes Ignorance such a joy to listen to is the sheer fluidity of its sonics. Each track, written by Lindeman around a keyboard and fleshed out by her band’s improvisational flourishes, explodes in technicolor; the gorgeous opener ‘Robber’ sets a marvellous tone for the album, while ‘Loss’ and ‘Parking Lot’ prolong the party well into its track-list.
Lindeman’s lyricism also seems sharper and more poignant than ever. On ‘Tried To Tell You’, she laments the exhaustion of finding meaning in life (‘I’ll feel as useless as a tree in a city park / Standing as a symbol of what we have blown apart’), while on ‘Atlantic’, she bats off the anxiety of living on a dying planet (‘Thinking I should get all this dying off of my mind / I should really know better than to read the headlines’) as flutes zig-zag behind her.
It might be too early to call for an album of the year contender, but I daresay we’ll be hearing a lot more about Ignorance towards the pointy end of the year. Lindeman’s knocked this one for six.
Sarah Mary Chadwick – Me and Ennui Are Friends, Baby
Melbourne-based, Wellington-born artist Sarah Mary Chadwick has topped off an astounding trilogy of records with Me and Ennui Are Friends, Baby, an album that’s as instrumentally bare as the stories it carries.
In contrast to 2019’s The Queen Who Stole The Sky, performed on the Melbourne Town Hall Grand Organ and the fleshed-out sounds of last year’s Please Daddy, Me and Ennui Are Friends, Baby sees Chadwick lay her trauma on the table with naught but her own vocals and a piano, making for one of her most sobering releases yet.
On ‘At Your Leisure’, Chadwick dances around the intersection between normal life and art and its spillover into one’s mental wellbeing, with the creaking of her piano stool in the background adding a haunted ambience.
The album’s jarring title track, meanwhile, sees her reminisce on an attempt to end her own life in 2019, while ‘Full Mood’ possesses an intimate quality with its tender chords and hushed vocal take, with the sonic and thematic fluctuations in the album elevating it to a fascinating new level.
Femi Kuti & Made Kuti – Legacy +
On Legacy +, Femi Kuti and Made Kuti – the son and grandson of legendary Nigerian Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti – come together for a double album that serves as both a tribute to their game-changing forefather and a statement of the duo’s intentions to continue as torchbearers for the genre today.
The Kuti family have always been outspoken in their criticisms towards the abuse of power in Nigeria, and Legacy + continues this lineage, particularly in the wake of the country protesting against the brutality of the SARS police group. Tracks like Femi’s ‘You Can’t Fight Corruption With Corruption’ and the swagger of ‘As We Struggle Everyday’ address issues of corruption and protest, while on Made’s ‘Blood’, the younger man ponders on the usefulness of violent protest atop of a contemporary Afrobeats rhythm.
As to be expected, the grooves across Legacy + are sensational, with both Femi and Made taking a forward foot in the double album’s production and arrangement and making their chops known through immense saxophone and bass solos. In short – another reminder of how dynamic and important the Kuti family is within the story of Afrobeat.
Psychedelic Porn Crumpets – SHYGA! The Sunlight Mound
Perth cosmic slop lords Psychedelic Porn Crumpets are back with another big dollop of fuzzy, freaky rock with SHYGA! The Sunlight Mound. It’s jam-packed with crispy riffs, rollicking rhythms and screeching vocals, and showcases the lads at their most frenetic ever.
It’s tough to listen to records like these and not just want to be thrashing about the mosh pit, but there’s enough going on throughout SHYGA! The Sunlight Mound to ensure your attention doesn’t waft away to green pastures and sweaty tents. On ‘Mango Terrarium’ and ‘Sawtooth Monkfish’, the band toy with a colourful chord progression that dips and weaves behind a wave of glitchy synths, while ‘Glitter Bug’ serves up a plateful of sparkling melodies and coats them in gritty fuzz for a spicy contrast.
As to be expected, there’s plenty of stoner jams across SHYGA! The Sunlight Mound – ‘Tally-Ho’ and ‘Tripolasaur’ are both obvious examples – but underneath all those chunky drums and eastern guitar licks, it’s clear that Psychedelic Porn Crumpets are at the top of their game.
John Carpenter – Lost Themes III: Alive After Death
A master film director, actor and composer whose work on Halloween, The Thing and They Live made him a master of the horror genre, John Carpenter has shared his 21st full-length album Lost Themes III: Alive After Death. It’s a soundtrack album of sorts, co-written with Cody Carpenter and Daniel Davies, with sinister synths, drum machines and harmonised electric guitar coming together for a moody soundscape that’ll please aficionados of both horror and electronica alike.
Opening with the screaming guitar-led ‘Alive After Death’ and dipping into Stranger Things electro-sequence territory on ‘Weeping Ghosts’, Lost Themes III offers everything you could ever want from a Carpenter project. Meanwhile, the brittle chords of ‘Turning the Bones’ should please any ’80s synth fetishist, while ‘The Dead Walk’ sees Carpenter take on a Nine Inch Nails-styled industrial slammer and imbues it with a classical piano interlude – just for good measure.
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