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Album Reviews

Posted 11 Jan 2017 @ 12:21pm

7.5

 

Another degustation of boundary-bending electronica from dance chef Arbez-Nicolas, AKA Vitalic. There's some interesting, hip-dipping, foot-stepping fare between the lively amuse-bouche of opening track, El Viage and the syrupy celestial chillaxing of the last track, Don't Leave Me Now.   
 
Waiting for the Stars (featuring David Shaw and The Beat) is the chart-...

Posted 11 Jan 2017 @ 12:18pm

8

 

Anyone familiar with Tim Evans’ work with Sea Scouts, Bird Blobs and Degreaser will be well versed in his particular brand of fetid psych-swamp nastiness, a style that can be traced back to the ‘80s and Australia’s rock underground.
 
This time, accompanied by his finger-picked acoustic guitar, Wretched Wings embraces another direction, while retaining much of his...

Posted 11 Jan 2017 @ 12:17pm

8

 

With I See You, The xx come soaring back into our collective consciousness with their first album in almost five years.
 
There’s a great mix of the calm, reflective xx of old, and a new, more upbeat sound which permeates through the whole album, and showcases just what Jamie xx was talking about when he said this album was going to be "more outward-looking, open...

Posted 11 Jan 2017 @ 12:07pm

8

 

Why would the Stones release another album after 11 years, and risk the band’s legacy?  Because the Stones still care about the blues. 
 
Blue & Lonesome is the Rolling Stones’ Zen album, the recording that sends the band back to where it all began: to the dirty blues of the American south.  Along the way the Stones check in on Howlin’ Wolf (Commit a Crime),...

Posted 11 Jan 2017 @ 12:06pm

6

 

Unlike most artists his age, Neil Young has a lot to show in terms of new material output in the 2010s alone. Not all of it's great, given – in fact, some of it is flat out bizarre – but it's also brought us such fascinating ventures as a 30-minute Crazy Horse song and a covers LP recorded entirely within a 1940s recording booth (2014's A Letter Home). You have to hand it to...

Posted 11 Jan 2017 @ 12:05pm

8

 

The release of Chisel’s third and arguably best, studio album, East, heralded the band’s evolution from Adelaide boogie-blues outfit to hard-edge rock’n’roll band.  It was this incarnation of Cold Chisel that graced the stage of the Manly Vale Hotel on Saturday June 7, 1980. 
 
The setlist ranges across the band’s three studio albums.  There’s the obligatory...

Posted 11 Jan 2017 @ 12:04pm

9

 

Swim Team’s debut, Holiday, is a fitting soundtrack with which to banish the dismal fog of twenty-sixteen. And who couldn’t use a smidgen of ‘90s lo-fi indie pop about now, amirite?
 
Holiday is an exuberant affair infused with bold self-reliance, bruised romanticism, and a palpable sense of frustration. The EP benefits from the energetic live recording as it...

Posted 2 Jan 2017 @ 12:01pm

There were many great albums to come out in 2016, but the Beat team have cut down the list to pick our favourites. 

It was tough, but someone has to make the big decisions.

 

Album Of The Year:

Big Smoke : Time Is Golden

Editor's Note: In the face of tragedy, Time Is Golden shines —...

Posted 21 Dec 2016 @ 1:19pm

7

 

‘Tocka’ is a Russian word for which there is no direct equivalent in English, designed to describe the strange feeling you get when you start missing something you never actually had – that odd, confused absence that nothing seems able to satisfy.
 
Anatomy Class’ Tell Me What You See is the melodic translation of that phrase, a record defined by an inescapable...

Posted 21 Dec 2016 @ 1:17pm

8.5

 

Underground metallers Devilskin capture everything great about the genre in their second studio release – sultry vocals, bittersweet lyrics of the dark variety, and everything else you’d expect from a band of this ilk.
 
Only there’s something different about them – they’re shockingly addictive. The structure of their songs is like a drug, giving you the best of...

Posted 21 Dec 2016 @ 1:14pm

8.5

 

In the wake of Leonard Cohen’s death it might be looked upon as a commercial move to re-release this live collection at this time – suspiciously and simultaneously – with Leonard Cohen’s final release. Fragments of a Rainy Season contains the definitive cover of Hallelujah (there’s a new video to go with it) and is a song that should now be confiscated from every busker...

Posted 21 Dec 2016 @ 1:13pm

6.5

 

The Baudelaires take their name from French poet and essayist Charles Baudelaire.  To generations of university students, Baudelaire cloaked alcoholic indulgence in poetic elegance, “It is the hour to be drunken. To escape being the martyred slaves of time, be ceaselessly drunk.”
 
Baudelaire also said that “To handle a language skillfully is to practice a kind...

Posted 21 Dec 2016 @ 1:12pm

8

 

Nostalgia shits me. Rose-coloured musings on a confected world that never was, self-indulgent reflections to affirm contemporary cultural prejudice. Margaret Thatcher ignored rampant poverty in her call for a return to Victorian values, Happy Days diverted American attention from the tragedy of Vietnam and corruption of Watergate, and The Strokes disguised the flaccid...

Posted 21 Dec 2016 @ 1:10pm

6.5

 

Lurking somewhere in the shadowy, liminal space between Portishead and Chvrches are New York duo Phantogram, dipping deep in their own darkness while continuing to pump out pop you can really feel.
 
As soon as the glitchy synth bass of Funeral Pyre kicks in, vocalist Sarah Barthel stretches to the height of her range as she eulogises herself. Guitarist Josh...

Posted 21 Dec 2016 @ 1:02pm

7

 

An EP exploring the notions of numbness and disconnection, the name of Mcrobin’s Shallow Diver seems fitting. As it begins, you are softly introduced to the sounds of fluttering finger picking and a smooth melody, almost resembling the sensation of being submerged underwater. Everything sounds calmed and echoed, yet you can see rays of light shining through the glistening...

Posted 14 Dec 2016 @ 12:47pm

8

 

Probably one of the highlights of Scary Movie 2 was a brief, though magnificent scene advertising the fictional masterpiece, A Hip Hop Christmas. The anti-hero to the Carey and Buble compilations of the world, the album promised hits like Jingle Balls and All I Want For Christmas Is The Charges Dropped. For those champing at the bit for a real life copy, we’ve uncovered the...

Posted 14 Dec 2016 @ 12:45pm

7.5

 

Star Slinger is the nom de plume of a white geezer from Nottingham who manages to bring out the best elements of US pop to the usually unwelcoming UK gloom. A little bit of colour, flare and fluid groove augers well for this project. Not barnstorming enough to have you collecting your jaw from the pavement, it has plenty of variety and encouragement to suggest even better...

Posted 14 Dec 2016 @ 12:43pm

8

 

She & Him’s second Christmas offering is filled with Christmas classics just waiting to be played over a Christmas lunch, or in the sleepy depths of the food-coma laden afternoon.
 
Sweet and moreish like a Christmas dessert, Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward have created a seasonal record that hits the right notes, and manages to distinguish itself from being just...

Posted 14 Dec 2016 @ 12:42pm

8.5

 

Emerson Snowe is the moniker of Jarrod Mahon, best known for being one of the founding members of Brisbane hit-makers The Creases.
 
This Is Baby Blue is one of two EP’s released by Mahon in the same week and much like its companion, strings a narrative of grappling with emotions in an earnest and heartfelt way.
 
Maple Leaves is a tender number that...

Posted 14 Dec 2016 @ 12:41pm

7

 

“I used to do a lot of blow,” coos Martha Wainwright in Around the Bend, the lush opening number of her fifth solo album, amidst quaint acoustic arpeggios and a gentle shuffle of jazz brushes. It pierces through in a way that reminds you of why you fell for Wainwright originally, when she was a firebrand twenty-something that not only turned  “bloody motherfucking arsehole”...

Posted 7 Dec 2016 @ 12:53pm

7

 

Metallica have been around for so long that unfortunately they’re always going to fall into the trap of having their new material being compared to their back catalogue. That means that any decent new album (like this one) is always going to be compared to a masterpiece like the Black Album.
 
Hardwired is exactly what you’d expect, a Metallica album that sounds...

Posted 7 Dec 2016 @ 12:52pm

8

 

With Nullarbor local experimental/concept/dance duo friendships have released one of the boldest musical statements since Preset’s Blow-Up EP.
 
While due to the deeply fragmented and cashless local industry, friendships' Nic Brown and Misha Grace will never rise to the same ARIA-laden stratosphere as Kim Moyes and Julian Hamilton, yet both acts abilities to...

Posted 7 Dec 2016 @ 12:51pm

8.5

 

Sydney four-piece DEN wield a significant sonic clout on their debut self-titled EP; a pummelling barrage of modulated guitars and sinister synth replete with melody that brings nuance to the bruising assault.
 
Life In Chains opens with a militant drum beat and from sparse beginnings builds to grandiosity with haunting keys and swirling synth surrounding the...

Posted 7 Dec 2016 @ 12:50pm

5

 

Bleach Girl’s presser declares that the group is a bratty two-piece, imbued with the themes of “garage, lo-fi, indie, punk, pop and surf rock”. Judging by the sheer volume of bands who indulge in these worn motifs the band’s debut EP Hi! will undoubtedly appeal to masses of punksters who are jonesing for a good time in the sun.
 
What they lack in uniqueness and...

Posted 7 Dec 2016 @ 12:49pm

7.5

 

If you’re expecting the creators of an album called Reclaim Australia to hold anything back, you’re in for a wild ride.
 
Long-time friends and musicians Briggs (Album of the Year recipient at the National Indigenous Music Awards 2015) and Trials (ARIA-winning producer for Drapht, Seth Sentry, Illy and Hilltop Hoods) have teamed up as A.B. Original to put...

Posted 7 Dec 2016 @ 12:48pm

7

 

It’s fitting that Redspencer’s debut album Perks arrives right on the cusp of summer, evoking the warmth and haziness of the season in effortless fashion. Beyond their shimmering guitar pop is an exploration of existential themes that come together to create an album of great depth.
 
On opening track G-Talk, Dave McMillan’s laconic vocals sing of “smoking durries...

Posted 7 Dec 2016 @ 12:47pm

9.5

 

Graciously sharing this tasting plate of tracks that were written around the same time as those that made it onto Skin, Flume keeps fans’ hunger for new music satisfied with an aural smorgasbord of decadent and cerebral ear-candy.
 
Opening with Trust, there's a dreamlike nostalgia and memories of childhood in the use of the Kalimba sample that weaves its way in...

Posted 30 Nov 2016 @ 12:56pm

7.5

 

The Festival Records vault has been scraped bare for this cut-price primer of coolness for all those with more than a passing interest in punk and allied rock. The comprehensive nature of the selection guarantees that those professing a vast and intimate understanding of this music will now increase disproportionately.
 
The usual suspects are present - New...

Posted 30 Nov 2016 @ 12:54pm

7.5

 

Lewis Cancut’s newest release Indoor Rainforest is pristine, tropical house music from a rave inside a video game.
 
The influence of Japanese and anime culture is strong throughout the record (the cover art is perfect) and the bouncing synths, treated Japanese woodwind sounds and kicking percussion only compound the eccentric high-energy.
 
 Cancut...

Posted 30 Nov 2016 @ 12:54pm

7.5

 

It’s around Belconnen in the suburbs of Canberra when the news started to come through: Trump was winning the election. The air was thick with hyperbolic predictions and apocalyptic economic scenarios. On the Internet, embarrassed political commentators tried to slash through the impossible hubris of imperial promise, while grinning ideologues declared the triumph of normal...

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