"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.
To expect the unexpected is a safe approach to any new Ariel Pink record. For starters Pom Pom is the first album in a highly prolific career to be solely attributed to Ariel Pink, but by his own admission it’s also the most collaborative. Spiritualized’s Jason Pierce, and famed/infamous Kim Fowley of ‘70s rock group The Runaways contribute to the collage, along with other band members (including Melbourne's own Shags Chamberlain). The result is a characteristic, unpredictable mix of wistful AM radio rock, strange tape textures, stream of consciousness skits, and stream of unconscious pop, including standout single Put Your Number In My Phone
Interstate 40 Music/Remote Control
The anticipated new album from Melbourne's Black Cab is another inspired collection of songs, this time themed broadly around the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal. Evoking the tension, exhilaration and sonic spectrum of the time, Black Cab once again prove masters of mood and narrative. Early electronic, analogue dance music, synths, and spoken word samples are all employed to craft a unified record that extends on their earlier post-punk and psychedelic styles. Crafted over several years, the LP also features contributions from Lowtide's Lucy Buckeridge, Mon Brumby, Shags Chamberlain, and former Black Cab members Steve Law, Anthony Paine, Rich Andrew and Alex Jarvis. Needless to say, it's a Gold Medal performance all around.
Chapter Music / Dopeness Galore
Café Romantica is the brilliant second record from friends and collaborators Andras and Oscar. Otherwise known as Andras Fox and Oscar Key Sung, the two Melbourne artists have spent years refining their craft, and earning a reputation for their hip hop, boogie, R&B and dance music. Their forces combine on this album to produce another collection of instant classics. The title is a nod to the after-hours eatery where the two would rest and relax following work in the studio, a place to meet friends and make memories. The music draws from early analogue house recordings, and evokes the gently melancholic, romantic haze of the early hours of the morning. There’s traces of modern soul, 80s funk, and a distinctive local vocabulary of sounds unique to Andras and Oscar.
Highway 20 Records
An extraordinary double-album from an artist whose work has been instrumental in defining and shaping alt-country and Americana music. The expansive collection presents Lucinda Williams' lyricism at its most incisive and illuminating, encompassing her personal experiences and the whole human condition. Musically the country blues, soul and rock arrangements are rich and generous in detail, with each musician performing at their best.
Two Bright Lakes/Remote Control
Melbourne four-piece The Harpoons display great versatility as songwriters, referencing and experimenting with both traditional and contemporary soul styles. Whether it’s the extraordinary vocals, the playful pop melodies, the heartbreaking ballads, the modern beats or classic R&B rhythms, The Harpoons’ debut album "Falling For You" will have you falling for them.