Triple R Soundscape: 27 April 2020

Soundscape is a weekly look at local and international releases making an impression on our musical radar. The list offers a cross-section of EPs and albums arriving at the station.

We have been busily scouring the Soundscape! Check out some of our favourite finds for this week 27 April 2020

Fiona Apple - Fetch The Bolt Cutters (Epic/Sony)**Album of the Week

Fiona Apple’s fifth album was recorded and produced entirely within her own Los Angeles home, and the effect is immediately discernible, not just for the occasional dogs barking in the background. There is a boxed-in, banging-on-the walls, domestic energy here, especially pertinent for it’s release in the midst of a global pandemic for which Fiona Apple could never have anticipated, but provides an apt soundtrack for none-the-less. Thematically, Apple explores the idea of personal liberation: as Apple has said “It’s about breaking out of whatever prison you’ve allowed yourself to live in.” Her urgent lyrics are backed by her at times frantic piano style, improvised instruments, found sounds, and a woozy and reliable rhythm section who keep a certain momentum to the proceedings.

Lido Pimienta - Miss Colombia (ANTI-)

Three years after winning Canada’s highest musical honour - the Polaris Music Prize - Lido Pimienta returns with Miss Colombia, named for the 2015 gaffe which saw the Columbian contestant in the Miss Universe mistakenly awarded the top prize moments before having it revoked, live on international television. This is a fitting reference as she uses her new album in a large part to explore the intersection of the deeply personal and the universal, particularly in terms of race and gender politics. Pimienta takes both of her countries to task on these concerns - her birth place of Columbia and her residence of Canada - offering a blistering critique sung mostly in Spanish, utilising traditional Columbian instrumentation with slick, club-friendly production.

Claire Birchall - Running in Slow Motion (IT Records / Redeye Worldwide)

The long-standing mainstay of the Melbourne DIY scene (Paper Planes; The Phantom Hitchhikers) returns with her latest solo release; a darkly emotive, introspective, bedroom synth-pop record. Birchall performed and recorded entirely by herself, exploring themes of disconnection and loneliness over crunching drum machines, hazy synths, guitar licks, and disconcerting waves of drone. Running in Slow Motion channels sounds reminiscent of a lost 80s dystopian sci-fi.

Lucinda Williams - Good Souls Better Angels (Highway 20/Cooking Vinyl)

Good Souls Better Angels is the latest entry in a remarkable catalogue from the American folk and country singer/songwriter. Williams’ appeal has long been rooted in relatability and familiarity; her songs and turns of phrase are constructed with such care and skill that the listener immediately feels like they’ve heard them before. Long known for exploring universal stories of unrequited love and personal growth, Williams here takes a sharp left turn to channel the protest music of the 60s and 70s and challenge the American political establishment, tellingly summarising her new albums place in the context of her career with the line “I get angry, too.”

Various Artists - Sounds of The Kimberley (West Australian Music)

Songs of the Kimberley is the second of nine new recording projects funded by the State Government of Western Australia’s Contemporary Music Fund, which focuses on providing a platform for regional artists and developing the skills of local producers and sound engineers. This release builds on the long history of song in the nations and cultures of the remote and stunning northernmost region of WA. Showcasing ten acts, the compilation reiterates that the Kimberley remains fertile ground for songwriting talent.

X - Alphabetland (Fat Possum)

Alphabetland is the first studio release in over three decades by the original line-up of the American punk rock band X. After recording the album over the last 18 months, the band and record label pushed out the release online as quickly as possible as the band realised how timely the songs were for the current moment. The Los Angeles quartet return to their lyrical and musical roots with Alphabetland, showing closer comparisons with their debut Los Angeles and its 1981 successor Wild Gift than later releases. Like their early works, Alphabetland explores romantic dysfunction, revolutionary rage and class consciousness over 30 minutes of short, tight and urgent punk songs.

KeiyaA - Forever, Ya Girl (FOREVER RECORDINGS)

Forever, Ya Girl is the latest of a long line of critically acclaimed, independently released American R&B albums over the last decade, which have challenged the traditional dominance of the major record labels in the genre. Working entirely within her own community, KeiyaA has created a sound which is singularly and authentically her own, pulling influences from grime, club, psych and funk. Lyrically, KeiyaA laments on loneliness and isolation, hurt and longing and seeking emotional protection in self-empowerment.

Soft Rubbish - Millenial Pink (Independent)

Soft Rubbish’ debut drops with a fully formed idea of what it wants to be. Frontwoman Julie Montan has said of the release: “For five years, I've been making an opus that encapsulates rage against late-stage capitalism and regressive patriarchal systems.” This clear-eyed vision is matched by muscular post-punk and power-pop from the four-piece, assembled from members of Melbourne acts Love of Diagrams, Ciggie Witch and Lovers of the Black Bird. There is an experimental and conceptual aspect to the record too; when the LP arrives, it features seven songs on Side-A, with the same seven songs flipped and played in reverse on Side B; a metaphor, as Montan has said, for the “reflexive necessity to expirate after our so-called great civilisation has ceaselessly breathed capitalism and industrialisation IN for so many years of exponential growth without factoring in entropy or the transformational state of the out breath to restore balance.”

Hazel English - Wake UP! (POD / Inertia)

The thematic core of Hazel English’ debut album is succinctly summarized in it’s fittingly unsubtle title. Wake UP! Is about opening our eyes, being present, and asking difficult questions of ourselves. “Sometimes I feel we’re just sleeping through our lives... we’re not really present,” English has said of the concept of her new record. The California based, Sydney singer-songwriter creates shimmering bed-room pop, with tinges of jangling psych, and beach-pop, befitting the sonic-landscape of her birth-place and adopted home.

Laura Marling - Song For Our Daughter (Partisan / Inertia Music / Bossy Music)

Laura Marling has described her latest album as a rumination on modern femininity. Dropping her seventh studio album weeks after her 30th birthday is a remarkable achievement, and Song For Our Daughter shows all of the hallmarks of an artist who, through work and trial, has mastered her technique and refined her sound. The arrangements here are simple and starkly beautiful, focused on acoustic guitar and Marling’s direct lyricism, cradled by the occasional backdrop of gentle synths, restrained electric guitar lines and tight drums.