Young Turks/Remote Control
Heaven and Earth is the latest from acclaimed tenor saxophonist and bandleader Kamasi Washington - a Los Angeles figure who has united listeners across the globe with his ambitious and extraordinary music. The project is conceived in two halves. As Kamasi explains: “The Earth side of this album represents the world as I see it outwardly, the world that I am a part of,” and “The Heaven side of this album represents the world as I see it inwardly, the world that is a part of me. Who I am and the choices I make lie somewhere in between.”It's a characteristically vivid vision of tradition and futurism, exploring spiritual, soulful, orchestral styles, soaring from big band and hard bop to hip hop, funk and beyond. There's even Washington's own triumphant theme song 'Street Fighter Mas', designed to play when the skilled gamer steps up to the controls. Whether in the arcade, on stage or on record, it's always a perfect knock out performance. Washinton's transcendent talents shine across the two halves of Heaven and Earth accompanied by his band, The Next Step, as well as members of the long running collective The West Coast Get Down.
Ecstatic Arrow is the third album from Virginia Wing, the musical project of Alice Merida Richards and Sam Pillay. Recorded high in the mountain ranges of Switzerland, it's a towering record that draws together sounds and inspirations from experimental pop, vintage folk, modular synths, disco and motorik rock. The band themselves place it in the "late-70s, early 80s cross-section of pop meets conceptual art", a time when groundbreaking work was made by artists such as Lizzy Mercier Descloux, The Flying Lizards, Yellow Magic Orchestra and Brian Eno.
In a statement that accompanies the release Richards describes the origins and nature of the album in more detail: "In this past year, I have felt the weight of my gender so acutely that it has become inescapable. I have become aware of it in every moment..I feel confined in my body, constantly observing myself, judging pre-emptively the judgement of others. I feel exhausted by the way my experiences are mirrored over and over in the experiences of other women.
"As a musician, these experience are compounded by the subtle but pervasive misogynist attitudes prevalent within the culture. Women are so often viewed as a mirror reflecting men’s creative desires, as opposed to autonomous beings with an inner world just as vast and as rich.
"I wanted to write an album as a means of escape. I didn’t want to express only these feelings of frustration and exhaustion because to write only about the pain is to live inside that pain. Instead, I am attempting optimism; to write about support and friendship and endurance but mostly to imagine being released from this weight - of wiping the slate clean of learned behaviours and inherited oppression and to indulge in a moment of respite"
"Childqueen" is the second album from Los Angeles-based multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter, and producer, the follow-up to her critically acclaimed 2016 debut album The Visitor.The record offers an exceptional and original collection of songs that span psychedelic, soul, pop and ballads, with elements of vintage '70s funk and jazz amidst the contemporary arrangements.“Childqueen”, the phrase, is described by Kadhja as the “innermost self that you were truthfully and instinctively before the weight of the world came crashing in.” These songs explore themes of awakening, becoming, and self-discovery.
Laura Jean is a master storyteller, her songs trace the outlines of our inner lives with rare precision. Where previous albums explored folk and rock arrangements, Devotion reveals Laura Jeans's affinity for atmospheric R&B, timeless pop and evocative synth tones. New Zealand artist Lorde praised first single Touchstone as "maybe the sharpest communication of the spooky, all-consuming nature of feminine love i’ve ever seen." Devotion looks at the connections that span distances and time. Laura explains: it's "about how a lonely coastal childhood filters into a contemporary adult life...I wrote this album for my mum, middle sister and myself as we were at that time –– eccentric, romantically-unfulfilled teens and a stressed out single mum trying to have a love life."
"An Angel Fell" is the latest cosmic jazz odyssey from veteran San Francisco-based outfit Idris Ackamoor & The Pyramids. The group was formed over 35 years ago by saxophonist Bruce Baker, a student of the legendary Cecil Taylor. They travelled widely, released three acclaimed records during the 1970s, and then disbanded, only to return several decades later on the back of growing interest and demand from jazz audiences and vinyl collectors.
Produced by Malcolm Catto of The Heliocentrics, "An Angel Fell" combines a signature mix of dub reggae, Afro-Cuban, psychedelic rock and exploratory jazz, all unified by the chanting singing style that Sun Ra specialised in. The combination is deeply rhythmic, with melodic drive provided by Ackamoor and violinist Sandra Poindexter.
Speaking about the record's themes Ackamoor says “I wanted to use folklore, fantasy and drama as a warning bell...The songs explore global themes that are important to me and to us all: the rise of catastrophic climate change and our lack of concern for our planet, loss of innocence and separation... but positive themes too, the healing power of music, collective action and the simple beauty of nature.”
Milk! Records/Matador/Remote Control
American author Jacqueline Woodson expressed it well when writing "the more specific we are, the more universal something can become. Life is in the details. If you generalize, it doesn't resonate. The specificity of it is what resonates."
Tell Me How You Really Feel reflects the truth of that statement with a sharp storytelling instinct for small, crucial details. These songs document our everyday and eternal struggles and celebrate the triumphs in between, exploring life, love, friendship, self-imposed and societal pressures. The music resonates deeply too, Courtney Barnett and her band (Bones Sloane, Dave Mudie and Drones’ guitarist Dan Luscombe) perform soaring punk anthems and reflective rock ballads with precision. They're also joined by pioneers and peers Kim and Kelley Deal on 'Crippling Self Doubt and a General Lack of Self Confidence.'
New Vietnam is the debut record from local punk rock masters Civic. The 12” released via Anti-Fade is a concise, compelling showcase of a band in full command of their powers, filled with all the chaos and control of Civic’s celebrated live shows. Triple R's own Tim Scott writes on music site Noisey: Civic "mix loud 70s gutter rock and hardcore aggression to create a squalling hot mess. Late last year, they all crammed into a small radio studio to perform a hustling live set on my radio program Teenage Hate. It was wild... and I’ve been eagerly awaiting some recorded material since." The energisied performances and focused songwriting on New Vietnam underline links to forerunners The Saints and the Dead Boys, but also point to a new chapter in the ongoing punk r/evolution.
Jon Hopkins' last album Immunity featured the extraordinary single 'Open Eye Signal'. A hypnotic masterwork of dynamic dance music and experimental electronic production, it was accompanied by a video that saw a lone skateboarder cross the landscapes of America's west. Suburban scenes race by as we follow to the desert and coastline - one continuous journey that explores the known and unfamiliar. So it is with Singularity, the latest album from the acclaimed London artist. It's a transporting record that explores a wide spectrum of sounds and human experience: conflict and harmony, cities and nature, order and chaos. Songs glide through techno, ambient, instrumental, choral and psychedelic spaces: a singular continuous journey into the infinite.
Tropical F*ck Storm is Gareth Liddiard, Fiona Kitschin, Lauren Hammel and Erica Dunn, and A Laughing Death in Meatspace is their debut album. It rages with an elemental force that's been gathering across a series of 7" singles and live shows over the past 8 months or so.
The band name invites metaphors because they feel so accurate when listening to the record. These are wildly unpredictable cyclonic songs: charged with electricity, delivered with a galeforce strength. The lyrics rain down with stories of our nature. Tales as old as humanity, current as today's weather forecast, and prophetic as tomorrow's outlook.
Isolation is the debut full length release from Colombian-American artist Kali Uchis. The kaleidoscopic record spans hip hop, Reggaeton, modern soul, funk, R&B, bossa nova, experimental pop, jazz and more. Kali Uchi's supreme skill in songwriting and performance brings these many influences together into a focused and captivating record. Featured on the expansive LP are guest appearances from Bootsy Collins, Steve Lacy, Reykon, Jorja Smith and Tyler, The Creator as well as production from BadBadNotGood, Gorillaz, Greg Kurstin, Kevin Parker, Dave Sitek, and Thundercat.
Gurrumul's Djarimirri (Child Of The Rainbow) presents traditional songs and harmonised chants from Gurrumul's Yolngu life with minimalist orchestral arrangements performed by the Australian Chamber Orchestra and Sydney Symphony Orchestra. It's a monumental album five years in the making, completed just weeks before Gurrumul's passing in 2017. The songs are powerful, moving and utterly unique, a transcendent gift of insight and inspiration to the listener from an Australian icon.
Djarimirri (Child of the Rainbow) arrives ahead of the cinema release of GURRUMUL, a documentary of his life and achievements, written and directed by Paul Williams.
A NOTE FROM SKINNYFISH MUSIC: The final funeral ceremony for Gurrumul Yunupingu occurred on Friday November 24, 2017 at Galiwin’ku, Elcho Island. The passing of any Yolngu person is usually accompanied by strict traditional protocols which preclude the use of the deceased’s name. The immediate family of Gurrumul have been clear throughout the grieving process that the contribution he made and continues to make to Australian and Yolngu cultural life should not be forgotten. The family has given permission that following the final funeral ceremony, his name and image may once again be used publicly to ensure that his legacy will continue to inspire both his people and Australians more broadly. The family thanks the media and the Australian public for their support and respect throughout this period.
Invada Records/Remote Control
Space Invadas are a powerful force in soul music, formed by super duo Steve Spacek and Katalyst.
Steve Spacek is Steve White, a pioneer whose career spans the early '90s through to present day. Over the years he has released music for some of the most forward-thinking labels: SPA, Eglo, Ninja Tune, Warp, K7, Island Universal, Exit Records and collaborated with many artists including J Dilla, Mark Pritchard, Mos Def, among others.
And Katalyst is producer Ashley Anderson whose ARIA nominated albums have been released via Stones Throw and Invada Records, a label he runs in Australia with Portishead's Geoff Barrow."Wild World" is their second album together, featuring contributions from Natalie Slade, REMI and MC Guilty Simpson. The songs span a broad sonic spectrum: classic and modern soul traditions are explored, along with futuristic R&B and carefully crafted sample-based hip hop.
Poison City Records/Future Popes
Mod Con is Erica Dunn, Sara Retallick and Raquel Solier – Melbourne artists well known for extensive solo and group work over the years (Palm Springs, Golden Syrup, Various Asses, Jimmy Tait, Fatti Frances, Harmony and Tropical Fuck Storm, to name just a few). Here they combine their peerless skills into a record that friend and collaborator Gareth Liddiard places somewhere “between the Bangles and Black Flag.” Erica Dunn describes the music as “faster and louder” than earlier Palm Springs material, with “duo vocals, tough bass and syncopated drums at the core.” It’s a foundation they build upon to create towering tracks filled with energy, ideas and surprises.
John Sharp Toro is the fourth album from Tasmanian band The Native Cats, released on iconic Sydney label R.I.P Society. Each song shakes with post-punk rhythms, energetic performances, compelling lyrics and original rock arrangements - an astonishing collection of work from an extraordinary band. The Native Cats describe it best themselves though: "(John Sharp Toro) merges the chaotic urgency of Swell Maps and The Fall with the idiosyncratic production and labyrinthine album concepts of Blood Orange and Kendrick Lamar. There are recurring lyrics, haunting reprises, codes upon codes, foreign voices, personal archive recordings, distorted synths that arrive without warning like floodlights cutting through fog. It's about queer isolation and loneliness, transfiguration, the ways that lives and relationships continue after they've been altered; it's also about digital spaces, the US Republican Party in the second half of the 20th century, and James M. Cain's opera-scene noir Serenade, the origin of the album's title."
Melbourne four-piece Mildlife began making music years ago, bonding through a shared love for exploratory art, of all forms. Listeining to Phase it's clear the friends are keen music students who take inspiration from pioneers in all genres.Their debut album LP is the result of dedicated work and tireless experimenting, fusing traditions of jazz, disco, psychedelic, rock, electronic and more to produce a wholy original hybrid. First single 'The Magnificent Moon' is truly out of this world, a perfect launching point for the spacious grooves, cosmic beats and interstellar sounds that follow.
"You shoulda seen his book collection/ It was all ‘how to socialise and how to make friends’/ Yeah I guess we both got our problems /And areas to improve / And I know one of mine is to go a night without sympathising with you"- How To Socialise and Make Friends by Camp Cope
"How to socialise and Make Friends" is the second album from Camp Cope, the Melbourne trio comprising guitarist and songwriter Georgia Maq, bass player Kelly-Dawn Hellmrich and drummer Sarah Thompson. It begins with "The Opener", an anthemic takedown of double standards and sexism embedded in the music industry. As Georgia Maq expressed to Pitchfork in an interview: "It was so cathartic to release that and be validated by people being like, “This is my experience!” I needed to do it, especially after the last year and a half. Since the last record was released, we just got criticized about everything." The catharsis is mirrored in the music - punk and folk infused arrangements that sweep, soar and strike with profound impact. These new songs are personal, filled with keenly observed and deeply felt experience. And they are universal, with the strength to connect and empower.
All Nerve is the first studio album in a decade from iconic rock outfit The Breeders. It's also the first time Kim and Kelley Deal, Josephine Wiggs and Jim Macpherson have been reunited on record since 1993's Last Splash (a high water mark of the era that remains an influential release). First single Wait in the Car begins with the playful cry "Good Morning!" and it's clear The Breeders are back full of energy and in complete command of their powers. Layered harmonies, crunching rock riffs, energising noise andand potent lyrics that challenge, uplift, and take down their targets. All Nerve also includes contributions from friends and collaborators Courtney Barnett and Steve Albini.
Her is the second album from Melbourne four-piece Totally Mild, led by Elizabeth Mitchell. Their debut Down Time offered a rich combination of vivid melodies, crisp percussion, hazy textures and beautiful harmonies. These new songs also captivate, showcasing an even greater range of blues-inflected rock, orchestral synth, piano ballads and atmospheric pop styles. Elizabeth Mitchell provides great insight in an album statement, saying "Her is a record of failure and victory, new desire, stale romance, queer domesticity and what comes when the party is over. I was torn between a new domestic life and the impulse to tear it all away with bad choices. I fell in love, but I wrestled for independence. I was always trying to prove that I didn’t need anyone; my wife, my friends, my band. Her is a document of a woman struggling with the idea of potential. We are told that we could be limitless, but we wrestle with unseen personal and structural walls." In processing these tensions and reconciling these conflicts, Her becomes a transcendent document of discovery, reflection and love.
Dero Arcade/Super Duper
Last year Divide and Dissolve arrived with an earth-shaking debut called 'Basic'. Heavy, complex, and compelling, it was the work of Melbourne duo Takiaya Reed and Sylvie Nehill, performing on saxophone, guitar and drums with live effects. The message behind it was clear: these are songs designed to decolonise, dismantle white supremacy, and empower people of colour and indigenous people around the world.Less than a year later, Divide and Dissolves's second album 'Abomination' arrives with a growing sense of urgency and intensity. The record is largely instrumental, with vocal contributions on Reversal from Minori Sanchiz-Fung. Each piece flows seamlessly to the next, even as the moods, textures, melodies and rhythms shift, collapse, and reconfigure. 'Abomination' draws inspiration from the band's ancestors and from the nautral world. Songs vibrate with an elemental force, evoking stillness and radical change. To listen to the album, carefully, is to be both transported and transformed.
Los Angeles, October 31, 2016. After a week of frustrated songwriting attempts, Marlon Williams steps out alone to watch a scary film: Nosferatu, a favourite of his, with live score by LA Opera.In the mood for mischief Marlon finds a convincing vampire costume, races to the screening but arrives minutes too late. The film has begun, and failing to find a seat Marlon quietly reclines in the staircase. When the lights are finally raised Marlon quickly slips away, followed by whispers and astonished stares. Marlon remembers it as a pivotal moment, the start of a new chapter in his life and one referenced in non-album single Vampire Again. It's also perhaps a symbolic gesture by a prodigy wholly committed to his craft. Humour, pathos, intrigue and poignancy are everywhere on this second album. Songs span the two years he's been away, touring with artists like Bruce Springsteen, and mirror some of the self-reflection that follows in the wake of break up. Former partner Aldous Harding appears on the stunning duet Nobody Gets What They Want Anymore. The soulful songs all deal in heartbreak and hope. They're haunting and unforgettable, like a half-glimpsed vampire seen leaving a film screening on Halloween.
Ben Montero is a musician and an artist. Born in Melbourne, now based in Athens, he's also known as an explorer. His music and drawings are like maps revealing vivid scenes of the everyday and uncharted parts of the mind. New album 'Performer' finds the artist in full flight, piloting listeners in his personal airline through time and space. Seatbelt signs are off as Montero glides through clouds of 70's prog, soft-psych pop and glam pomp sounds.
Khruangbin is the Texan trio of Laura Lee on bass, Mark Speer on guitar, and Donald “DJ” Johnson on drums. Their records reflect a passionate, shared love of psychedelic soul, R&B, dub and blues traditions, all combined in fresh ways. Devoted crate diggers, the band's debut 'The Universe Smiles Upon you' was especially inspired by instrumental and emotive elements of the Thai Molam musical tradition, discovered through cassettes, dj mixes and dedicated blogs. 'Con Todo El Mundo' expands upon this further. It reflects some of the sound and and spirit of Middle Eastern, Caribbean, and South American soul and scenes, present and past, and seeks connections and exchanges across time and space. The result is a globally minded LP that sounds otherworldly: a perfect soundtrack for flights of the imagination and journeys of discovery.
FatCat Records/Cooking Vinyl Australia
'The Official Body' is Shopping's third album, following the release of 'Consumer Complaints' in 2013, and their 2015 FatCat Records debut 'Why Choose'.
Guitarist Rachel Aggs explains some of the new song lyrics on their bandcamp site: 'Suddenly Gone' for example refers to "feeling used and undervalued as a queer and/or person of colour making music or art." 'Wild Child' views the distance between the image and reality of our idols: “I was specifically thinking about the way some drag queens do this really well,” explains Aggs; “It's about projecting the persona of someone who is always free, always partying and you can't imagine them ever worrying about their work rota or buying cereal. It's important to see through it, to know it's fake but at the same time, it's so intriguing and seductive. I think this anarchic, flamboyant spirit is really important to queer culture.” The social and political changes faced in a post-Brexit Britain are also represented in the music and lyrics.
As always Shopping deliver anthemic post-punk dance anthems, but there are noticeable shifts and changes in the sound here. For the first time Shopping worked with legendary UK artist and producer Edwyn Collins, and the core elements of drums, vocals and guitar are extended with electronics and synths.
Before recording drummer Andrew Milk relocated to Glasgow, and their usual rehearsal and writing space Power Lunches (a hub for the city’s DIY scene) closed down, creating pressures that are perhaps reflected in the urgency and energy of the songs.
Mother is the third in a trilogy of albums exploring and redrawing the Cretan folk tradition. In this memorable conclusion, George Xylouris and Jim White again combine their names and their formidable skills to craft immense and immersive musical landscapes.
Xylouris is a member of one of Greece's most celebrated musical families, and certain passages on Mother evoke ageless folk traditions; atmospheric lullabies and love songs set to Cretan lute melodies. His storytelling style is matched by the expressive percussive prowess of White, whose own talents are well known from work with Dirty Three, Nick Cave, PJ Harvey, Cat Power, Will Oldham and others. The record balances playfulness with complexity, and plenty of surprise. Songs shift and evolve, responding to the improvised interplay of the two masters at work.
Enjoy the Holidays!
After another incredible year of music, Triple R's Album Of The Week will be back in 2018.
Wondercore Island/Good Manners
Grant Gronewald is an exceptional artist: a prolific and profound music maker, illustrator and zine creator.
With long-time friend Oscar Key-Sung, Grant formed Brothers Hand Mirror and Lossless, two projects known for artful and abrasive beats and lyrics. As HTMLflowers Grant has made many solo tracks over the years, and 'Chrome Halo' is his debut full-length under the name. It's a powerful reflection of Grant's craft and life, with subjects ranging from love, friendship, sacrifice, and isolation - all examined with piercing insight. His experiences living with chronic illness are referenced in the title of the album, an image of the metallic illumination found in hospitals where Grant spends an increasing amount of time.
Chrome Halo is a transfixing record, rich in detail. Grant has written about each track in a feature for Sydney's FBi radio: in the song Sleep Good for instance, Grant sings "I can see the sun upon your back", a Kazakh phrase which means "thank you for being you, I am here because of your help." Written for a specific someone, it also signals a greater interconnectedness at the heart of the album, an honouring of relationships. Significantly, contributions to the record arrive from close friends and collaborators Oscar Key Sung, Becky Sui Zhen, Marcus Whale, Banoffee and Felicity Yang.