The new album from Stephin Merritt contains one song for each of the first 50 years of his life. It's an extraordinary project for an artist already known for ambitious feats of conceptual songwriting, most notably his beloved 69 Love Songs album. Despite what the title suggests, the album isn’t a traditional autobiography; Merritt’s own life is abstracted through the context of world events, or social and cultural developments of various eras. Certain personal details are omitted, and instead songs return to themes, loves and memories that form constants in the shifting boundaries of his life. The instrumentals explore a range of genres that served as musical backdrops to each decade of Stephin's life, yet always manage to sound like signature Magnetic Fields material.
Rough Trade/Remote Control
English Tapas is the ninth album from Nottingham duo Sleaford Mods, and their first for iconic Rough Trade record label. For years the duo of Jason Williamson and Andrew Fearn have honed a signature brand of minimalist rock and staccato punk poetry. No syllable is wasted and no beat is missed in their pointed skewering of contemporary society. The subjects of their satire vary, from politics, business and corruption, to lifestyle, consumer trends or anything else that captures their keen attention: Brexit, Supermarket Sweep, Snapchat and patriotism and organic pub food to name a few.
Sacred Bones/Rocket Distribution
Blanck Mass is the solo project of Benjamin John Power, also known as one half of electronic duo F**k Buttons. The noise, abrasiveness and intensity of that project is present in Blanck Mass, yet there’s strong undercurrents of quietness and light. The “World Eater” title and menacing bared teeth of the cover are clear indicators of the horror and upheaval Power perceived in his surroundings while recording, but he’s also been quoted describing the album as “pure countryside”. His new rural home environment is captured in field recordings of waterfalls, birds, and church choirs, and carefully introduced into the dense, widescreen vistas that populate the album. Tense industrial sounds, elevating pop melodies, shimmering shoegaze and experimental electronic passages all find a home on "World Eater"; contrasting passages of terror and uneasy peace.
'Not Even Happiness' is the second album from US artist Julie Byrne. It's an arresting album of sparse folk songs that offer new interpretations of Americana, blues and Laurel Canyon ballads. The record arrives after years of exploring the country, living and working elsewhere, but was written and recorded back in New York state in her childhood home. All the experiences gained and lessons learned from the journey are reflected in the poetic observations and insights of the songs' lyrics.
"A Quality of Mercy" is the debut album from Melbourne’s RVG, led by songwriter Romy Vager: a powerful LP of emotionally engaging work that draws inspiration from post-punk and new wave pop styles.The album title makes reference to an episode of cult TV show The Twilight Zone, which in turn relates to a Shakespearean speech from The Merchant Of Venice. Both the episode and the original quote reflect on concepts of empathy and finding alternative perspectives, key to the philosophical core of this RVG record.
Independent/Penney & Logan
Broads is the recording project of Melbourne duo Kelly Day and Jane Hendry, two artists also known for their work in vintage vocal pop group The Nymphs. Vacancy is the anticipated debut album, a showcase of the duo's virtuosity as singers, songwriters and arrangers. The cinematic set of the illustated cover seems to hint at the film-noir world within: a collection of songs that draw on traditions of country, folk and soundtrack scores.
Cool Death Records
Sydney quartet Orion formed in 2013 and have since accrued a loyal following for their live shows and cult cassette tape demo on Paradise Daily. Their debut arrives on acclaimed local label Cool Death, home to bands such as Power, Tyrannamen, and Tommy T and the Classical Mishaps, and like those other groups, Orion are uncompromising in the execution of their musical vision: strong pop songs suffused with punk intensity, shadowed by the tones and textures of No Wave. Elements of synths, guitars, bass drums and vocals blend to produce a compelling new sound with faint echos of the past.
Japanese film maker Kore-eda offers a vision of heaven in his 1999 film After Life. Individual souls who have passed away are given a week in a transitional building to reflect on their lives and select one memory they wish to save for eternity. Staff at the home recreate those times as best they can, and the soul lives within their happiest memory forevermore. Biscotti - the project of Carla Ori - presents a similar experience of bliss on her debut album. It's an auditory heaven drawing on the best of synth pop, disco, film scores, hip-hop and funk.
Run The Jewels is the project of Atlanta's Killer Mike and Brooklyn's El-P. Both artists have a long history of incisive, thought-provoking music and their third album together is arguably their most powerful. Incendiary raps are delivered over explosive beats as the duo confront pressing political and social issues. It's been termed "rap as resistance", and the urgency of their message could hardly be more timely. Joining the hip hop duo are guests including TV on the Radio's Tunde Adebimpe and Kamasi Washington.
Running Back/Waving At Trains
Tornado Wallace is the recording alias of Lewie Day, a global ambassador for dance music in its manifold forms. Originally Melbourne based, now located much of the year in Berlin, Tornado Wallace is known for legendary DJ sets, progressive parties, and studio productions. After years of causing chaos in clubs, "Lonely Planet" is his debut album - an immersive adventure in sound that accomodates dancefloors as well as more meditative moments of listening. On the course of the journey Tornado Wallace explores new wave and new age, early synth music, dub, and disco, and modern electronic styles.
Enjoy the Holidays!
After another incredible year of music, Triple R's Album Of The Week will be back in 2017.
Liberation / Mushroom
The tenth album from legendary Australian singer songwriter Archie Roach is a sincere, soulful, sorrowful and spiritual call for love. It's a meditation on love's sustaining power, and healing power, in a time when we need it more than ever. The songs are imbued with gospel, jazz and rock traditions, carried by Archie's impassioned vocals and commanding, humanist lyrics.
Celebrated band The Dacios are back with an eagerly anticipated second album 'Beyond the Bottom Hour'. The current Dacios line up sees the return of original member Robert ‘Pops’ Johnson on drums, the introduction of noise guitar maestro Bonnie Mercer and the reunion of bass player Mindy Mapp with Bean and Linda J - who previously played together in Little Ugly Girls. Everything adds up to an enthralling rock'n'roll record, with shades of the blues, that builds on the band's already towering status.
Bad Apples Music/Golden Era/Mad Dog Publicity
A.B. Original is the collaborative project of hip hop artists Briggs and Trials, friends and collaborators from the Yorta Yorta and Ngarrindjeri nations. Reclaim Australia is their debut together, an essential album of incisive lyricism and incendiary beats."Reclaim Australia" is a powerful musical statement, alive with modern beatcraft and references to the '90s West Coast era. And it's an essential political statement, beginning with a foreward by Archie Roach who places the record in the context of an ongoing historical campaign for Indigenous rights. Injustice, brutality and racism are pulled into focus, called out and challenged with sharp wordplay. Other collaborators include Dan Sultan, Gurrumul, Thelma Plum and Caiti Baker.
Dot Dash/Remote Control
Intrigue begins with the album title. Perhaps a reference to the iconic Victorian mountain range? Or maybe a hint at yin and yang, describing opposite and interconnected aspects of the natural world? The traditional Chinese characters translate as: yin “dark side of a hill” and yang “light side of a hill”. The precise meaning might be unclear, but listening to "You Yang" (like the "Ex-Tropical" LP before) it’s certain Lost Animal knows how to harness opposing forces in music. Elements of post-punk, funk, dub, disco, jazz, r&b, rock, calpso, and blues are all recast, seen in new light, thrown into shadow. And like the granite ranges of the title, songs take shape and change and evolve, revealing themselves over time.
A Tribe Called Quest are hailed as one of the most important and influential of all groups in hip hop, rising as part of the Native Tongues collective that also included Jungle Brothers and De La Soul in the late ‘80s. Pioneering in their eclectic sampling and jazz-influenced beats, they also became known for progressive, inventive, philosophical, Afrocentric lyricism. Phife Dawg, who sadly passed away earlier this year, Q-Tip and Jarobi all contributed something unique that was heightened in their interplay. "Love Movement" LP from 1998 was long considered to be their last, but "We Got It From Here…Thank You 4 Your Service" represents the very welcome return of all three artists to the one record. The album is especially timely, addressing divisions and inequalities deepened in the recent U.S presidential campaign. It's a powerful final statement, a tribute to Phife Dawg, and a call to new generations of hip hop makers. Contributions also arrive from familiar friends and new collaborators Consequence and Busta Rhymes, André 3000, Kendrick Lamar, Jack White, Elton John, Kanye West, Anderson Paak, and Talib Kweli.
Leonard Cohen is known and revered for his contributions as a novelist, poet, singer and songwriter over decades of acclaimed output. In 2008 he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. At the time his friend Lou Reed offered an elegantly succinct tribute: “We’re so lucky to be alive at the same time Leonard Cohen is.” Following the sad news of his passing, manager Robert Kory wrote "unmatched in his creativity, insight and crippling candor, Leonard Cohen was a true visionary whose voice will be sorely missed..He leaves behind a legacy of work that will bring insight, inspiration and healing for generations to come." You Want It Darker is the fourteenth and final of Cohen's recordings, reflections on spirituality, desire and suffering, their ambiguities and intersections. The music is relatively sparse but reflects all the folk and blues, religious and romantic traditions that Leonard Cohen spent a lifetime studying and mastering. The album was produced by Leonard's son Adam, and features contributions from the Shaar Hashomayim Synagogue Choir and Cantor Gideon Zelermyer from Cohen's hometown of Montreal.
Weyes Blood is the recording name of Californian artist Natalie Mering and "Front Row Seat to Earth" is her latest album, a superlative collection of modern folk and chamber pop orchestrations.The LP evokes a perfectly preserved world of '70s Laurel Canyon anthems and forgotten West coast soul, all created with a precise palette of instruments: subtle percussion, piano, muted brass, acoustic guitar and Mering's voice. A sublte layer of static and electronic manipulation serves as a prism to amplify the timeless quality of the songs, bathed in hazy ambience. Lyrics reflect both a state of harmony and discord. The Earth of the title is described at a distance and felt at close quarters, varying perspectives on connectedness and change.
Barely Dressed Records/Remote Control Records
“Time Is Golden” is a profound testament to the gifts of its author, Adrian Slattery, and the extended family around him. A singularly talented songwriter and singer, Adrian was an integral member of Melbourne’s music community, known also for his work with Major Major, and involvement in the scene surrounding The Smith Street Band and Yeo among others. Adrian passed away in May this year, a year after being diagnosed with terminal cancer. "Time Is Golden" stands as a legacy, but as Adrian himself said: “this is not the story of heartbreak or of illness, it is the story of living and all that it entails.”
The songs - produced over an intensive four-month recording period - draw upon years of craft and creativity. Anchored in soulful country sounds, they reflect a love of any music that moves you, whether it be a waltz, a rolling rock ballad, or soaring pop melody. Each composition is intricately detailed and beautifully realised, carrying a spirit that reaches far, along roads, across distances and stretches of time. It concludes with the astonishing “Honey, I”, an urgent, propulsive rhythm that builds to a chorus that catches your breath, the depth and tone in Adrian's voice as he sings the lyric of the title expressing everything that cannot be said.
Wing Sing / Redeye International
The Peep Tempel return with their third album 'Joy', a peerless collection of punk rock narratives offering a full spectrum exploration of the human psyche. Amidst the uncompromising riffs and rallying rhythms are songs about tragedy, romance, hubris and hope, and neuroplasticity. In describing the album, lyricist and guitarist Blake Scott cites inspirations from Australia's history, the filmography of Yorgos Lanthimos, and made-up melodies from dredged-up dreams.
"A Seat at the Table" is the third album from Solange Knowles: a singular artistic achievement that encompasses soul and R&B traditions, but also paves new paths through modern hip hop, pop and rock. Solange explores numerous themes in her powerful lyrics, providing perspectives and insights on gender and race, politics and identity, injustice and healing. The album is released via her own platform for pushing progressive and experimental musical ideas - the Saint Records label - in conjunction with Columbia records. As the album developed Solange invited contributions from a range of collaborators. Early recording sessions took place with Melbourne's Midnight Juggernauts, and later Solange worked with David Andrew Sitek of TV on the Radio, Patrick Wimberly of Chairlift, and David Longstreth of the Dirty Projectors. Rap/soul pioneers Q-Tip, Questlove, and Raphael Saadiq feature on the final mixes, alongside likeminded innovators Kwes, Kindness, and Sampha.
Three years ago D.D. Dumbo released his Tropical Oceans EP, a striking collection of original material featured alongside a beautiful re-working of Roy Orbison's "Crying". Utopia Defeated is the long awaited follow-up, and debut LP from the Castlemaine-based artist. It's a powerful, inventive, and distinctive collection of experimental pop, regional blues, folk and electronic styles. Artful arrangements, immaculate sound design, and imaginative multi-instrumental melodies all reflect different elements of D.D. Dumbo's skill as a songwriter and producer.
Dot Dash/Remote Control
The Nullarbor plain occupies a unique place in the Australian consciousness: a vast, arid region entirely devoid of trees; the world's largest limestone bedrock plain that stretches for hundreds of thousands of square kilometres. It's a harsh territory that must be crossed when making the journey from the west to east coast of Australia. It's significant in the history and identity of friendships, the audio visual project of Nic and Misha. Nic grew up in remote Western Australia, and made the journey to Melbourne where he was introduced to the artworks of Misha at a gallery opening. A creative partnership was formed: Misha's projections and paintings combined with Nic's productions to form intricate installations and hyperkinetic live shows. Expressionism and rave, internet art and drum n bass, regional dance music styles and Australian gothic ideas all intersect. The results are personal, universal, beautiful, brutal, expansive and immersive. Nullarbor 1988-1989 is the debut full length from friendships, and represents an immense territory to be lost and found in, a journey that rewards the intrepid.
Dot Dash/Remote Control/Captured Tracks
Teeth & Tongue is the recording project of Jess Cornelius and her band, and "Give Up On Your Health" is the title of their fourth record. It's also possibly a wry warning to those who would commit themselves wholeheartedly to creative pursuits: they can quickly become all-consuming. The risks may be great but so are the rewards, a fact reflected perfectly in this adventurous and accomplished album of smart, sophisticated pop. In comparison to earlier Teeth & Tongue records there's a noticable shift toward dance music tempos and electronic production techniques, new facets of Jess Cornelius' songwriting and arranging skills.
Efficient Space/Noise In My Head
In a time of greater access to more music than ever before, Midnite Spares delivers a rare degree of surprise and discovery. Andras and Instant Peterson are Triple R broadcasters and renowned music minds with highly attuned detective skills and a heightened sense of curiosity. They've spent countless hours searching stores, discount bins, personal record collections and Triple R's own vinyl library to uncover the obscure and compelling musical moments on offer here. Midnite Spares is the second release on Efficient Space, fast becoming a premier go-to label for unearthed archival gems. Expect eveything from new wave, post-punk, dance, soundtrack cues, early electronic pop, funk and strange dub experiments.
Bad Seed Ltd
The release of NickCave and the Bad Seed’s new album Skeleton Tree is accompanied by a feature-length film, 'One More Time With Feeling'. Initially intended to capture a series of live performances , it became a document of the time in which the album took shape, one filled with unspeakable grief and a struggle to cope with great personal loss. The songs on Skeleton Tree are visceral missives of all that can’t be said or understood, communicating both profound suffering and love. The arrangements are sombre and deeply moving: NickCave’s lyrics are direct and oblique, literary and literal, haunting and heartrending and beautiful.