Listened Charli (album) – Wikipedia from Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.
This is one of those uncanny albums. One minute it hooks into you, only to then shock you back to your senses. In some respects, it is the album that I could not imagine someone Taylor Swift making.

Robin Hilton describes the album as ‘future pop’s:

Charli XCX makes wildly warped, genre-bending songs that are artful and adventurous but can still top the charts. On the English singer’s latest album, Charli, she collaborates with Troye Sivan, Lizzo, Haim and more for a sound that moves pop firmly into the future.(source)

While Debbie Carr suggests:

Charli may be laced with all the screeches and squelches of everyday life in one giant sensory overload, but at its core the album is a snapshot of the experimental era pop is moving into.(source)

For me, this album has the feel of speculative pop. It is true that many of the elements of pop are still present. However, the speculation comes in the way of form and production.

Place between St Vincent and Montaigne.

Listened Montaigne – Complex from triple j

Nailing her distinct brand of art pop, Complex is the second album for Montaigne.

Montaigne’s voice holds together an exploration of electronic and acoustic sounds and rhythms. Complex is an album that continues marching on, celebrating some of life’s sharper sides.

Place between Megan Washington and Bjork.

Listened With ABOUT US, G Flip finds comfort and growth in exploring dark emotions through music from triple j

Flitting between melodies drenched in sadness and slap-in-the-face wake up call drum fills that have become her trademark, G Flip stretches her wings and flies from falsetto to direct yearning.

For me G Flips debut album is a demonstration of balances. It carries a certain pop subtlety. She could easily have gone overboard with the production, but instead holds back, providing just enough.

Place between Lorde and Maggie Rogers

Listened Lover (album) – Wikipedia from Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.

Lover is the seventh studio album by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift. It was released on August 23, 2019, by Republic Records. As executive producer, Swift worked with producers Jack Antonoff, Joel Little, Louis Bell, Frank Dukes, and Sounwave on the album. Described by Swift as a “love letter to love”, Lover celebrates the ups and downs of love and incorporates brighter, more cheerful tones, departing from the dark sounds of its predecessor, Reputation (2017). Musically, it is a pop, pop rock, electropop and synth-pop record that contains influences of country, dream pop, pop punk, funk and R&B.

I find Lover an intriguing album. What does one expect from a Taylor Swift album? How much can it really break ‘new’ ground? I think Nick Catucci captures the feeling best by describing it as an “evolutionary rather than revolutionary.” There are moments when it feels like a cover of Ryan Adam’s covering Taylor Swift, other times it feels like continuation of the pop journey of 1989. I am not sure if the album is ‘good enough’ to paper over the cracks in her persona. However, I feel that how one responds to music is somewhat personal. Overall, I think Kitty Empire sums the album up best when she suggests that, “an album so long is bound to be a mixed bag.”
Listened Norman Fucking Rockwell – Wikipedia from Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.
Rather than hooking the listener in with sweet choruses and succinct pop songs, Norman Fucking Rockwell is an album which washes over like waves lapping the beach. Before long, you are lost. I think Sam Sodomsky sums it up best, saying,

The album weaves love songs for self-destructive poets, psychedelic jam sessions, and even a cover of Sublime’s “Doin’ Time” through arrangements that harken back to the Laurel Canyon pop of the ’60s and ’70s. Throughout, Lana has never sounded more in tune to her own muse—or less interested in appealing to the masses.

In an interview with Joe Coscarelli, Del Rey provides some insights into the choice of Jack Antonoff and why it is time for protest songs. There is something ironic about Antonoff’s inclusion. Some may call out another failure to present anything original, yet Del Rey’s raw honesty seems prime for collaboration with the ‘superproducer’ (what is a superproducer?) As Antonoff once stated in an interview with Zane Lowe:

I want to work with people because they think that they are geniuses, not because I want make the albums that they have already made

Ann Powers provides a more critical take on the album and Lana Del Rey.

Listened Twenty-five years later, Sleater-Kinney are still making vital music from The Economist

“The Centre Won’t Hold”, their ninth studio album, is their most experimental yet

There were two things that led me the to Sleater-Kinney’s new album: Song Exploder0 and St. Vincent’s production. I have never really listened to Sleater-Kinney before. I really like this album sonically. There is a fine line between the blend of clean and dirty sounds.

I would place this album between Depeche Mode and St. vincent

Listened Sigur Rós presents Liminal Sleep, by Sigur Rós from Liminal

9 track album

Described as a ‘playlist’, this album feels more like an experience than anything that you can necessarily put your finger on. As the website describes:

Liminal, both live and locally, takes the listener to a place neither here nor there; a “liminal” space.

Place between Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works Volume II and M83’s soundtrack for Oblivion.

Listened Of Monsters and Men – ‘Fever Dream’ album review from NME

Of Monsters and Men are clearly so capable of creating glorious tunes that are brimming with life, yet they seem to have resorted to mimicking a sound because its fashionable. Their clear talent is masked by trendy production and unimaginative writing. That’s not to say the album is bad, just disappointing as it feels like they have so much more to give. ‘Fever Dream’ is perfectly listenable, but missing the magic spark that made them smash successes when they first emerged.

When I heard the first single, Alligator, I was intrigued about Of Monsters and Men’s third album. I wondered about the new sound and feel to the music. It probably did not follow through with what I thought it might promise, but it is still a good album.

On first the use of electronics and distortion feels uncanny, but after a few listens it finds its place. I had a similar experience with The National’s I Am Easy To Find.

Listened Better In Blak: Thelma Plum transforms trauma into triumph from triple j

Across the board, it’s a drastic step-up from 2014’s Monsters EP and the folksy strumming she uploaded to Unearthed back in 2012. But it isn’t a complete departure, it’s an evolution, you can hear traces of her earlier work in the songs that deal, like those releases, with love that’s not gone right.

This is an interesting album. Produced by Alex Burnett, it has the hooks and smooth production that drags you in. Once there though it challenges the listener. As an album, Better in Blak asks questions through song that left me thinking.

For something different, here is Plum covering Bruce Springsteen’s Dancer in the Dark:

Place between Sarah Blasko and Maggie Rogers.

Listened Various Artists: The Lion King: The Gift from Pitchfork

In her ongoing quest to both pay homage to a black cultural history and contextualize herself within it, she took advantage of her role as Nala in the super-CGI remake of The Lion King and hired a swath of African artists and producers for a new album inspired by the movie. The Gift is an extension of Beyoncé’s work and its themes of ancestry, self-love, spirituality, and family. But its main purpose is to showcase today’s African musical stars, putting their sound on an enormous platform using the commercial reach of one of the world’s biggest pop titans and Disney’s highest-grossing franchise.

Similar to Kendrick Lamar’s Black Panther-inspired album and other recent globe-trotting works like Drake’s More Life and GoldLink’s DiasporaThe Gift is thrilling because of the diasporic connections being made through collaboration.

This album pays tribute to the Lion King by breaking up the various tracks with moments from the film. I am not sure I ever realised how political Beyonce is, a point that comes through in the Homecoming documentary too.
Listened Banks: III from Pitchfork

While the brooding pop singer can’t always shake the anodyne songwriting that plagued her past work, III is still Banks’ best album to date.

What I like about this album is how the production compliments the lyrics. The brooding angst is as much carried by the blips and beeps as it is by Banks’ voice.

Place between Carly Rae Jepsen and Lorde.

Listened Art Of Fighting – Luna Low from Double J

Ten long, beautiful songs that show that Art Of Fighting have plenty left to give.

I recently relistened to Wires wondering whatever happened to Art of Fighting. I discovered that the band has not released anything since 2007’s Runaway and Ollie Browne created a new group Parrallel Lions. It was therefore a bit of a surprise when Luna Low came into my music feed. As with all their albums, Luna Low is a bit of a slow burn. It is one of those albums that given time and patience grows.

Place between The Triffids and The Panics.

Listened Late Night Feelings – Wikipedia from Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.
Mark Ronson’s Late Night Feelings is one of those albums where the whole is greater than the parts. It has the usual hooks and catches that you would expect from Ronson, however it success is its overall feel. It can be easy to get confused at supposed fillers like Knock Knock Knock, but like Fitter Happier on Radiohead’s OK Computer it serves a wider purpose within the album as a whole.

When discussing the making of Covers, Ronson once stated that his intent was to make music to DJ to. This album is a continuation of that. In some ways it is a set in its own right. Although it isn’t as blended as something like Madonna’s Confessions on a Dancefloor, moments like the bridge in Late Night Feeling or the constant of the bass throughout give the DJ feel.

Place between Stuart Price and Robyn

Listened Kirin J Callinan on stunts, exhibitionism and being misunderstood: ‘Is this who I want to be?’ from the Guardian

‘Art should be amoral,’ says Callinan. But after a few controversies – including being charged with obscene exposure – he’s thinking hard about where to next

Kirin J Callinan provides a collection of covers to explore the question of identity. As always, there uncanny experience where the music balances between being both accessible and alienating in the same breath. There is a part of this that reminds me of the fractured genius of Roland S Howard.

Place between Client Liaison and Pulp

Listened The Road: Part II (Lost Highway) – UNKLE | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic from AllMusic

Find album reviews, stream songs, credits and award information for The Road: Part II (Lost Highway) – UNKLE on AllMusic – 2019 – The reanimated UNKLE’s second album in three…

James Lavelle has described this album as something of a mixtape. I remember struggling to get the first album in this series and wonder if I was simply looking for something different, maybe something with a clear narrative. For me, this is one of those albums that is easy to drop in and out of. A soundtrack to everyday life?

Place inbetween Massive Attack and DJ Shadow.

Listened Nick Murphy has made an album that Chet Faker never could from triple j

Run Fast Sleep Naked is the result of Murphy’s four-year spiritual journey of self-discovery and musical evolution.

I have really enjoyed Nick Murphy’s latest album. It is a real slow burn. The longer you listen the more it seems to entrance.

Sure, if you’re looking for the simpler seductive pleasures of a ‘Talk Is Cheap’ or ‘I’m Into You’, prepare to be disappointed. Run Fast Sleep Naked is more spiritual than it is sensual, and while it demands more of you, Nick Murphy’s evolution from the slinky electro-soul that first gained him attention is part and parcel with his own journey of self-discovery since ditching the Chet Faker stage name.

Place between Snow Patrol and Guy Pearce

Listened Methyl Ethel – Triage from triple j

Two years on from their breakthrough hit ‘Ubu’, Methyl Ethel return with their third album, Triage.

I love stumbling upon an artist by chance and just diving in. I did this over summer with Client Liaison and I have done this recently with Methyl Ethel. I came upon the music while watching Rage one night and was hooked. There is a slickness to the production, whilst still maintaining space to move. I would place Triage somewhere between Twin Shadow, Sarah Blasko and Miike Snow.
Listened Dave Harrington: Pure Imagination, No Country from Pitchfork

With a group behind him that recalls the electronic jazz splatter of ’90s New York, Dave Harrington’s guitar work becomes a psychedelic, soft-hued quest for transcendence.

One half of Darkside, Dave Harrington’s instrumental outing feels very much like a spacial experience. My highlight is the cover of Pure Imagination from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I would place this album somewhere inbetween Pink Floyd and Tortoise

Read Jesse Jarnow’s review for a further breakdown of the album.