Listened https://montaigne.lnk.to/makingit from montaigne.lnk.to
I feel that Making It! is one of those albums whose whole is greater than its part. I remember hearing always be you a few months ago. I enjoyed it, but to hear it within the breadth of the album gave it different perspective.

I was intrigued that even with its liberal spray of sugar, Cerro is adamant it is not hyperpop. However, it is clearly inspired by the genre. Maybe what Montaigne is not is simple and straight-forward. That I found interesting is that although the album is not very long, its frenetic nature means that there is so much to dig into.

Stepping comfortably into somewhat new territory for the-artist-also-known-as Jess Cerro, leaning more to a kind of burbling, low impact electronica intersecting with shiny floor pop that doesn’t so much sprinkle the sugar as spray it liberally (in other words, a kind of hyperpop), these songs have the kind of in-built momentum that make actual tempos secondary.

Where on Cerro’s previous records, the music would serve to uplift their vaudevillian prose, here it’s just as crucial. The bitcrushed percussion and wonky keys on ‘SickCryDie’ let the listener feel the pangs of anxiety Cerro depicts in their lyrics, reckoning with the impact trauma has on a blossoming relationship. And without its angular collision of wonky tropical house beats and garish brightness, ‘JC Ultra’ – a biting critique of major label ethics in the form of an instructional guide on becoming a “vessel for the pro-alien agenda” – would just feel cheesy.

Cerro has called making it! “neurotic computer music”. In fact, they were largely inspired by their beloved video games. “I really wanted to have that influence the sounds that were chosen on the record.” But, working closely with producer Dave Hammer (Lime Cordiale), Cerro similarly latched onto the exploding hyperpop genre, citing SOPHIE, Charlie XCX and Caroline Polachek. “Both of us were really excited by those sounds and found them really addictive and really good to listen to.”

Place between Charli XCX and Architecture in Helsinki.

Listened Eighth studio album by synthpop band Hot Chip by Contributors to Wikimedia projects from Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.
There is something comforting about a new Hot Chip album.

Freakout/Release constitutes a reset. Much of the album is outwardly about pleasure: of dancing, of togetherness, of physical contact and sex. Recorded in the London studio that Al Doyle set up during the pandemic, it’s the first Hot Chip album to be written from scratch by the full band all in the same room, and its sound reflects that pooling of energies, full of exuberant dance rhythms and arrangements that burst at the seams.

Listened Flood, by Stella Donnelly from Stella Donnelly

11 track album

I really like how Giselle Au-Nhien Nguyen captures Stella Donnelly’s album:

Flood is an album that requires patient and careful listening, peeling back the layers in each song to find the pulsing heart beneath. There’s nothing as immediate as the songs on Donnelly’s debut, but that’s not a bad thing – these 11 tracks ebb and flow like water, washing into and over one another to create a sense of something pure and boundless.

This feels like a different sort of COVID album, written while traversing around Australia.

Stella co-produced Flood alongside Jake Webb and Anna Laverty (whose award-winning CV features Camp Cope and Courtney Barnett), and opened up her co-writing credits with her touring band.

The more spontaneous process resulted in Stella trying on a lot of different personas. She ended up penning 43 tracks as she moved around the country mid-COVID, passing from Fremantle to Margaret River to Melbourne and beyond.

Place between Courtney Barnett and Megan Washington

Listened Muse | Will of the People from Muse | Will of the People

Enter the Muse Will of the People Experience

The Will of the People is a return to the tried and trusted sounds. As they have explained in interviews:

It’s a montage of the best of Muse. It’s a new take on all of those types of genres that we’ve touched on in the past.

However, this reference to the past comes across as somewhat problematic at times. As Paolo Ragusa touches on:

The fact that our global political crisis has given Muse’s audience more context for a dystopian record means that the band needs to be very careful about how it addresses these woes, the way it poses solutions, the specific problems that Bellamy is choosing to investigate. And unfortunately, Will of the People is — perhaps on purpose — not very careful about such things.

Whereas Arcade Fire’s return to the past seems somewhat comforting, I am not exactly sure how I feel about Will of the People.

Place between Queen and Rage Against the Machine.

Listened Sons Of, by Sam Prekop and John McEntire from Sam Prekop and John McEntire

Prekop and McEntire’s Sons Of is a thrillingly diverse journey and a masterclass in longform music that reveals nuance at each listen. By concentrating their considerable skills as both creators and curators, the duo have crafted an album abundantly vibrant, an intoxicating exploration of pure inspiration and intuition.

I really like how although these tracks are quite lengthly, they never feel overly repetitive or boring. This is something that Philip Sherburne captures in his review:

Every few bars, there’s a new sound clamoring for your attention; the chords gradually become more enveloping, radiant, even sentimental. The drifting harmonies echo the Sea and Cake at their balmiest and most bucolic, where even the slightest effort melts beneath the glow of the endless summer; the tumbling groove exemplifies the ramshackle, improvisatory spirit that’s at the heart of modular synthesis.

Place between Prop and Jono Ma.

Listened Giving The World Away, by Hatchie from Hatchie

12 track album

I love when I stumble on a new find like Hatchie. It came up in my new releases and I gave it a listen. It is one of those albums that draws you in with each listen.

‘Giving the World Away’ reflects Hatchie’s wide-ranging influences, as she blends elements of shoegaze and electronic pop to further fortify a sound of her own. Songs like ‘This Enchanted’ and ‘The Key’ feature the singer’s trademark jangly guitars and big drum fills (played by Beach House percussionist James Barone), sounding big enough to fill a stadium, while closer ‘Til We Run Out of Air’ echoes the sweeping sonics of dream pop pioneers such as Cocteau Twins.

While her influences are not hard to spot – Sky Ferreira, La Roux (on the title track particularly), Mazzy Star, Carly Rae Jepsen – they are configured in imaginative and distinctive new combinations, with lush production care of Jorge Elbrecht.

Listened 2022 studio album by Florence and the Machine from Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.

Dance Fever is the fifth studio album by English indie rock band Florence and the Machine, released on 13 May 2022 by Polydor Records. Work on the album was originally scheduled for early 2020 in New York City; however, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, recording took place in London instead. Frontwoman Florence Welch has cited Iggy Pop as the biggest musical influence on the album which features a variety of styles, ranging from progressive pop to indie pop, disco, and industrial music.

The title and concept of Dance Fever originated in Welch’s fascination with choreomania, a social phenomenon in early modern Europe that involved groups of people dancing erratically.

Although much of the album feels like it is referencing the pandemic, many of the tracks were actually written before. Florence suggests that music has a way of tapping into things before they are present, like testing for an earthquake. Discussing the album, she states:

Anxiety never goes away, we just need to learn to dance with it.

In regards to production, I love Jack Antonoff’s conitnual exploration of the more suitable side of music.

Listened 2022 studio album by Arcade Fire from Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.

We (stylized as WE or “WE”) is the sixth studio album by Canadian indie rock band Arcade Fire, released on May 6, 2022, through Columbia Records. Produced by Nigel Godrich and band members Win Butler and Régine Chassagne, the album was recorded in New Orleans; El Paso, Texas; and Mount Desert Island in Maine. The album takes its name from the Russian dystopian novel We by Yevgeny Zamyatin.[1] It is the final album to feature multi-instrumentalist Will Butler, who departed the band in 2021 shortly after its completion.

It has been interesting to read some of the reviews of WE, stating that the album abandons their experimentation, for the familiar.

They remain epic on We, but more in the way that The Suburbs (2010) and Neon Bible (2007) felt so big. They’ve gone back to the sound that won them legions of fans, perhaps to placate those who weren’t prepared for the creative leaps on their past two records.

A part of me was left wondering if maybe a return to the familiar was simply what the situation called for?

Listened A Light for Attracting Attention, by The Smile from The Smile

The Smile will release their highly anticipated debut album A Light For Attracting Attention on 13 May, 2022 on XL Recordings.

The 13- track album was produced and mixed by Nigel Godrich and mastered by Bob Ludwig. Tracks feature strings by the London Contemporary Orchestra and a full brass section of contempoarary UK jazz players including Byron Wallen, Theon and Nathaniel Cross, Chelsea Carmichael, Robert Stillman and Jason Yarde.

The band, comprising Radiohead’s Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood and Sons of Kemet’s Tom Skinner, have previously released the singles You Will Never Work in Television Again, The Smoke, and Skrting On The Surface to critical acclaim.

There are some albums which gel straight away, while others take there time to sink in. It took a few listens to settle into this album. In the end, like Chris Deville, I was left wondering how this was not a Radiohead album.

The more I heard from A Light For Attracting Attention, the more the question gnawed at me: Why isn’t this a Radiohead album?

Listened FutureNever from Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.

FutureNever is the second studio album by Australian musician Daniel Johns, released on 22 April 2022 through BMG Music Australia. It was announced in December 2021 and initially scheduled for release on 1 April 2022[3] until it was delayed to 22 April to include the song “Emergency Calls Only”.[4] Johns stated that he did not want to release any singles before the album as he intended it to “be enjoyed as an album”.

FutureNever is Daniel Johns’ new album. His latest since Dreams with Luke Steele. It continues with his break from expectations and desire for a past, while also celebrating that which makes Johns’ the artist he is. As Johns shared in a letter written prior to the release of the album, it is a collision of the past, present and future.

FutureNever is a place where your past, present and future collide – in the FutureNever the quantum of your past experiences become your superpower

Michael Dwyer suggests that FutureNever has more darkness, less varnish and more stylistic confusion.

Manic may be the best single-word answer to describe his new album. FutureNever has some of the whimsical, baroque threads of his last few albums – The Dissociatives with Paul Mac, his own Talk, DREAMS with Empire of the Sun’s Luke Steele – but a lot more darkness. There’s more purge, less varnish, more stylistic confusion and a default pitch that seems to come from the thick of struggle rather than the bliss of creative liberation.

While Andrew Trendell argues that what makes FutureNever ‘unmistakably Johns’ is the sense of vulnerability, curiosity and adventure.

While there’s a lot of Daniel Johns at his best here, this isn’t ‘The Best Of Daniel Johns’. There’s rock bravado throughout, but you won’t get a whiff of ‘Frogstomp’. Styles and eras clash, but ‘Neon Ballroom’ it ain’t. There is, however, a vulnerability, curiosity and adventure that makes ‘FutureNever’ unmistakably Johns. That kid who once asked you to wait for tomorrow is living in it today.

Nathan Jolly explains how the album sounds like a ‘number of separate projects played on shuffle’.

FutureNever feels like a number of separate projects played on shuffle. There are four songs that seem like offcuts from an aborted operetta, a few dance collaborations that belong on Ministry of Sound mixes, and a handful of tracks that split the difference between the slinky electro of his debut solo album, Talk, and his bright and loopy Dissociatives work with Paul Mac. There’s also a lot more guitar shredding than expected, despite this being very much not a guitar record.

Tyler Jenke elaborates on this in a Rolling Stone profile, in which he explains how the album is a combination of three different ideas.

Never one to stop writing or composing (he admits to having thousands of demos around the place), three separate records (which will remain unheard) had managed to make themselves apparent over the years. One, dubbed “The Modern Punk Record”, featured an electronic punk sound; another—”The Opera Record”—was self-explanatory; while “The Modern Electronica Record” featured the sort of futuristic R&B sound he had ventured into with 2015’s Talk.

Johns explains that he is not cohesive and that the album reflects who he is.

“I’m sure I’m going to get slayed in the press, because it doesn’t sound cohesive,” he admits, casually brushing off memories of past criticisms. “But I’m not cohesive.

“Some people are going to be perplexed because it’s not an experience of a record that I’ve ever done before. It’s more a collection of stuff that I’ve been doing while everyone thought I was dormant.”

At the end of the day, writing for Johns is about figuring things out.

I write music because I’m trying to figure out ways to get the shapes in my head into a sonic form. I don’t think I’ll ever stop because I don’t think I’ll ever get what I want.

Watched Are You Haunted?, by METHYL ETHEL from METHYL ETHEL

9 track album

Are You Haunted? is something of a haunting experience in itself. On the surface, it is an infectious album with beautiful production and rich hooks. However, the more you listen, the more the deeper messages within come out. There are plenty of anchovies to be had.

The references to memories and ghosts reminded me of The Avalances’ We Will Always Love You. I am left wondering if one of the general consequences of the pandemic will be a dive into memories and the haunting past seemingly taken from us?

I also enjoyed the love performance of the album shared on Youtube.

Place between Talking Heads and Beach House.

Marginalia

“What I’m interested in when it comes to writing music are ideas of memory – how you split as a person and live parallel lives,” he says. “Your past, present and future selves are like ghosts of ourselves – somehow you are this already long dead person, walking through a world that you are not really materially even present in at the time.”

“To me, the record is this one solitary person sitting down at a piano and all of the songs are played out in this person’s head,” he says. “But I thought of all the chorus for all these songs being sung quite literally by a chorus, like in those old ancient Greek plays, [where] there is quite literally a chorus of people who are the moral compass. I tried to make most of the chorus have this ‘big group’ sound to them.”

Some tracks compel introspection, others make you prance around the room, while still others encourage intimate activities. It’s goth without the glower, and it can be spooky but never spectral. That’s a hard line to walk, especially when your art rejoices in creating emotional connections with its listeners.

But from the beginning of the album to the sweeping instrumental epics of “In a Minute, Sublime” in the album’s final moments, the message of Are You Haunted? is clear: In the face of your ghosts, dance them away.

Combining (often) dark and (always) thoughtful lyrics with unexpected instrumentation or obscure samples, Methyl Ethel’s music reflects the claustrophobic experience of our contemporary living. Notably, “Neon Cheap” sees richly textured ear-wormy melodies hint at the rife restlessness and angst of the modern, overstimulated world. 

Listened 2022 album by The Weeknd from Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.

Dawn FM is the fifth studio album by Canadian singer-songwriter the Weeknd, released on January 7, 2022, through XO and Republic Records. It features narration by Jim Carrey, guest vocals from Tyler, the Creator and Lil Wayne, and spoken word appearances from Quincy Jones and Josh Safdie. As the album’s executive producers, the Weeknd, Max Martin and Oneohtrix Point Never recruited a variety of other producers such as Oscar Holter, Calvin Harris and Swedish House Mafia.

The Weeknd described the album’s concept as a state of purgatory—a journey towards the “light at the end of a tunnel”, serving as a follow-up to his fourth studio album After Hours (2020). Musically, Dawn FM is an upbeat record containing dance-pop and synth-pop songs that are heavily inspired by the 1980s new wave, funk and electronic dance music styles. The album received widespread acclaim from music critics, who complimented its production and melodies.

It has been interesting reading some of the reviews of Dawn FM.

The radio-station conceit does enhance the album’s nostalgic, one-step-removed feel, much the way an early 2010s-mixtape concept did for last year’s Tyler, the Creator album; Tyler guests here (somewhat forgettably) on the very yacht-rock-ish track, “Here We Go … Again.” Perhaps most valuably, the format gives Tesfaye and his producers—primarily his longtime collaborator Max Martin and more recent helpmate Daniel Lopatin (a.k.a. Oneohtrix Point Never)—greater license to indulge their throwback sonic instincts, as well as to transition seamlessly, DJ-style, between tracks. The sudden, always belated realization that the previous song has already ended and a new one begun brings on a pleasantly startled frisson, almost as one might hope about the transition between one plane of reality and another.

I wonder if The Weeknd has been panned for experimenting with a different way of presenting his music. For me, I think Jim Carrey’s commentary help make this album flow together. In some ways it reminded me of Madonna’s Confessions on a Dance Floor mixed with Oneohtrix Point Never’s  Magic Oneohtrix Point Never.

Listened Fix Yourself, Not the World (The Wombats) from Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.

Fix Yourself, Not the World is the fifth studio album by British rock band the Wombats, released on 14 January 2022. It was preceded by the singles “Method to the Madness”, “If You Ever Leave, I’m Coming with You”, “Ready for the High”, and “Everything I Love Is Going to Die”. The album will be supported by an America, Europe and Australia tour throughout 2022.

I was always intrigued by what music the pandemic would throw up. Fix Yourself, Not the World speaks to the moment in more ways than one.

Pieced together over distance, as so many have this last couple of years, the band have swapped plans and files between Oslo, London and Los Angeles to create these songs, and then fired them off to an impressive list of producers to mix them. So this album finds them working with the likes of Jacknife Lee, Gabe Simon and Mark Crossey amongst others, and the result somehow hangs together surprisingly well. Distance, it seems, is no barrier, when there’s something special happening and there’s a drive and determination to make it work.

Described as a “self-help manual for the domesticated malcontent,” their fifth album ‘Fix Yourself, Not The World’ has a recurring theme of fixing throughout. The remarkably cohesive, inventive and forward-thinking guitar pop record finds frontman Matthew Murphy turning a psychological corner and highlights the bands bond and experience to power through such setbacks.