"Slow Gum" is the debut from Melbourne-based Fraser A Gorman. Having already performed and recorded with artists including Courtney Barnett, King Gizzard, Jen Cloher and Davey Lane, Fraser is an accomplished artist with a singular style and exceptional skill. His lyrics are poetic, poignant, and keenly observant. Some of the song arrangements are rich in detail - supported by an ensemble of musicians - and others strikingly sparse, guided by Fraser's memorable acoustic melodies and vocal delivery.
The debut album from Texan artist Leon Bridges feels like an unearthed gem from a former decade, perfectly preserved in time. Each song is impeccably constructed, drawing faithfully on traditional soul, boogie and blues. Leon's voice soars and dips through tales of heartache and redemption. There's a gentle, dusty vinyl crackle that seems to settle on the album, a subtle reminder of the vintage recordings that have inspired Leon Bridges in his songwriting.
"When We Talk About Love" is the latest chapter from Melbourne's celebrated band Oh Mercy. The title seems to refer to Raymond Carver's collection of short stories, and certainly it hints at the themes of the songs here: relationships, connections lost and gained, and an attempt to articulate this elusive subject. Oh Mercy excel in refined pop songcraft, and this is arguably their strongest work to date. The melodies are clear, and there's both a warm familiarity and a fresh invention to the arrangements. Alex Gow is questioning and comforting in his lyrics, as he offers more personal takes on the infinitely varied topic of love.
Lost Highway Australia/Universal
"Solitude" is the debut LP from Ruby Boots, the recording alias of Perth’s accomplished singer songwriter and instrumentalist Bex Chilcott. The album demonstrates Ruby Boots' extraordinary versatility as an artist, spanning rock and roll, Gospel, country and folk music traditions to create a fresh and memorable collection of songs.
XL Recordings/Remote Control
Jamie xx is well known as one third of London group The xx, but has also earned a strong following for his solo output as a producer. A few years ago his album of Gil Scott Heron remixes was widely praised, and his DJ sets and remixes have also been critically acclaimed for their inventiveness. "In Colour" is his debut full length, and covers a broad spectrum of modern dance music. Inspired heavily by the history of the UK club scene and pirate radio, the album spans underground beats, modern soul, R&B and electronic pop styles.
"Janus" is the debut solo album from the extradinarily talented and extremely prolific Ella Thompson, well known for her other projects including GL, Dorsal Fins, Axolotl and The Bamboos. "Janus", named for the Roman god of beginnings, is indeed something of a new start, but also builds on Ella Thompson's extensive catalogue, blending soul, synth-pop, ballads, electro, and boogie styles.
"Multi-Love" is the third album from Ruban Nielson's Unknown Mortal Orchestra; a characteriscally vibrant mix that represents a new stage in the artist's evolution. There's the lo-fi breakbeats, affecting vocal performances and fuzzed out guitars that marked the earlier records, and there's also the addition of more instruments and a richer range of pop, prog and soul songwriting. Serving as something of a new blueprint for psychedelic funk, "Multi-Love" is an expansive record that's equally introspective in its explorations of life and relationships.
Melbourne outfit Hiatus Kaiyote continue to innovate and captivate with their second album. Having already impressed local and global audiences with their Tawk Tomahaw album and extensive touring, Hiatus Kaiyote demonstrate once more their extraordinary strength and versatility as performers on record. The music presented covers a wide spectrum of styles, blending soul, jazz, funk, electronic, beats and even arcade game soundeffects amongst other hybrid forms.
"The Magic Whip" marks the anticipated return of Blur. The iconic English group rose to prominence during the Britpop era of the 1990s, but remain a vital force in contemporary music. These new songs serve as a reminder of Blur's unique skill for pop and rock writing, and also demonstrate the band's continued drive toward experimentation in their arrangements.
The self-titled debut from Marlon Williams is an exceptional album of soaring soul and rock and roll. The New Zealand born, Melbourne-based artist has earned a reputation for his captivating live shows, and the same emotive vocal delivery and skilful balladry are on full display across this collection of songs.
Rough Trade/Remote Control
A kaleidoscopic rock and psychedelic soul record from the American outfit led by Brittany Howard. Heavy rhythms, soaring vocals and rich instrumentation combine to produce a compelling, and unique listening experience.
Bedroom Suck Records
Down Time is the debut LP from Melbourne four-piece Totally Mild, led by Elizabeth Mitchell; a captivating album of blues-inflected rock and atmospheric pop that draws on classic songwriting yet feels completely new. Down Time transports the listener with its impressive performances and spacious production, creating a rich listening experience of vivid melodies, crisp percussion, hazy textures and beautiful harmonies. The songs linger like a blissful daydream.
"Carrie & Lowell" is a softly spoken album with immense emotional impact. Over his career Sufjan has demonstrated great versatility, capable of producing grand orchestral compositions as well as more intimate folk recordings. This record returns to those sparse acoustic sounds, offering an affecting backdrop to Stevens' lyrics. The songs themselves are a deeply personal exploration of grief, relationships, family, love and loss.
The third album from hip hop artist Kendrick Lamar has already been acclaimed as a masterpiece and instant classic. To Pimp A Butterfly is a detailed narrative journey and meditation on contemporary American society and history; it’s a personal and universal account, covering politics, race, and religion. Musically the record is also complex, drawing from numerous sources including P-Funk, jazz, spoken word and soul.
XL Recordings/Remote Control
Ibeyi is the recording project of French-Cuban fraternal twin sisters Lisa-Kaindé and Naomi Díazan. Their debut self-titled album is a fascinating hybrid, filled with music that draws upon their Yoruban heritage as well as their love of hip hop, electronic pop, soul and jazz. The result is a collection that's beautiful, haunting, personal and powerful.
Marathon / Remote Control
Courtney Barnett is a unique voice in modern rock; a master lyricist and musician who draws from every aspect of life to compose songs that are as playful as they are profound. Previous EPs and singles have all become cult classics, and this album - filled with more eloquent observations and subversive garage rock, blues and pop jams - is destined for the same status.
Dick Diver return on their third album with another show of inspired songwriting. The Melbourne band's inimitable style of classic guitar pop is on full display, a musical backdrop to musings and deep lyrical reflections on life, memory, place and relationships. There's some subtle, and also some dramatic shifts from previous records here as well; contemplative ballads and bold rock arrangements filling the album with varied pace and sonic texture.
Dot Dash / Remote Control
Pretend You're Mine is the anticipated debut album from Melbourne three-piece Pearls. Formed in 2011, the group have spent the past few years refining their distinct musical identity in the studio and on the stage, drawing from and building upon a number of rock traditions. The result is a collection of bold musical arrangements as well as subtle and seductive melodies, combining elements of glam, shoegaze, psych and classic guitar pop.
Jessica Pratt's debut album was a pure revelation when it arrived in 2012. Like an undiscovered folk masterpiece of the late '60s or early '70s, the record was a perfect showcase for Jessica's compelling voice, acoustic melodies and melancholic stories. The recordings were homemade, and exhibited an uncommon warmth and intimacy in their gently faded, tapeworn state. Jessica's second album On Your Own Love Again is eagerly anticipated, and provides another glimpse into her unique songwriting world. Plaintive, contemplative, uplifting and inspiring, the album shows how very much can still be produced with the essential elements of songcraft and a subtle ear for melody and atmosphere.
Panda Bear Meets The Grim Reaper is a vivid showcase of the distinctive psychedelic sound that Noah Lennox has pioneered and perfected during his career. It's a unique musical experience with layered and looping melodies, percussion, synths and vocals. As always there are elements of rock, folk, hip hop, electronic and abstract pop, as well as undefined and unexplored styles. It is also a philosophical experience, as Panda Bear shares reflections on life, mortality and identity.
Riot-grrrl legends Sleater-Kinney surprised all with the sudden release of their first studio album in ten years. It's a passionate, powerful and concise set by songwriting pair Corin Tucker and Carrie Brownstein, along with drummer Janet Weiss. No Cities To Love is full of the bristling energy, complex post-punk melodies, and searing lyrics that made the Olympia, Washington trio an icon of '90s alternative rock.
Chapter Music/Merge Records
Twerps' second full-length is laced with seemingly effortless melodies and some of their most immediate pop hooks to date. Range Anxiety, the band's follow-up to their 2011 self-titled debut and first release since signing to US label Merge Records, is a deceptively simple guitar-pop record, which sees the Melbourne band further refine their jangly and familiar sound. With this album, recorded in 2013 before last year’s Underlay EP, Twerps continue to expand their repertoire of timeless Australian pop songs.
Enjoy the Holidays!
After another incredible year of music, Triple R's Album Of The Week will return in 2015.
"The Hum" is a confident return for Leeds-based band Hookworms. The album draws from a rich history of punk, noise, psychedelic pop traditions, propelled in parts by strong motorik rock rhythms. There's a variety of pacing too, with meandering melodies and gentle drones forming the basis of absorbing songs such as "On Leaving."
Cut Copy have spent years producing and performing cutting edge dance music but they are also discerning DJs and selectors, a fact fully displayed on "Oceans Apart". The 19-track release is an impressive survey of some favourite Melbourne producers, and a celebration of this city's club culture and influential dance music scene. The vinyl/digital compilation features a range of leading artists including No Zu, World's End Press, Andras & Oscar, Speed Painters, Tornado Wallace and many others.
"Playmates" is perhaps the most definitive statement of intent yet from Sydney's Jack Ladder. A master of melodrama and intrigue, Jack Ladder is here accompanied by his all-star cast of Dreamlanders, the exceedingly talented Kirin J Callinan, Laurence Pike and Donny Benet. Production is handled by Kim Moyes of The Presets, and the sum of these parts adds to an emotionally engaging and musically adventurous trip. There's elements of cold wave, 80s synth pop, country, and rock ballads, all anchored by Ladder's distinctive baritone.