music / Columns

The Tracks and Albums You Need To Hear: Cardi B, The Weeknd, More

April 4, 2018 | Posted by David Hayter
Cardi B

This week was crammed full of great new albums and not so hot for singles, but lets not waste time and dive into the albums and tracks you need to check out this week.

The Albums You Need To Hear:

The Album Of The Week:

Golden Hour by Kacey Musgraves [Country]

I was extremely worried about this release, but Golden Hour puts me to shame for doubting Kacey Musgraves. Her quick wit remains in tact, but Golden Hour sees her focus switch from her immediate surroundings to her navel. This is a more reflective meditation of love, commitment and happiness, with a smattering of bad boy dissections thrown in for good measure. Look out for a full review later this week.

My Dear Melancholy, by The Weeknd [R&B]

Returning to the headspace and lurid soundscapes of House Of Ballons, The Weeknd appears to be up to his old tricks… but hang on a minute something is amiss. The Weeknd is now bruised by the kind of cheating and hedonism he once espoused. The shoe is very much on the other foot as a The Weeknd tries to fuck the pain away, what was once pure pleasure is now much needed medication for a wounded psyche and battered ego.

Combat Sports by The Vaccines [Indie]

There’s a nagging feeling that The Vaccines just haven’t earned it as they continue to shoot for the kind of iconic romanticism that defined the best releases of The Smiths, Libertines and Arctic Monkeys. The underlying narrative and songwriting doesn’t quite conjure the requisite emotion, but the craftsmanship remains excellent. The hooks are sharp, the aesthetic pleasingly ragged and the melodies greatly improved. The are some clunking failures (“I Can’t Quit’s” hopeless 90s nostalgia, for example), but they are outnumbered by shrewd and instantly addictive offerings (the tender “Young American” precedes the wild riff-a-licious “Nightclub”).

Freedom by Amen Dunes [Singer Songwriter/Indie]

At the fifth time of asking singer-songwriter Damon McMahon finally knocks it out of the park with Freedom. The album pulls off a curious a trick: it is both more expansive and more accessible than its predecessors. More remarkably still, Damon continues to yearn, gurn and force out quick narrative flourishes with a aura of piercing personal pain that should make this album uncomfortably intimate – but it’s not. The band ensure the arrangements have plenty of swing and color, no matter what rabbit hole Damon decides to dive down.

Expectations by Hayley Kiyoko [Pop]

Could the US have just stumbled upon its answer to Dua Lipa in the form of a former Disney star turned “Lesbian Jesus”? Like Lipa, expectations for this project were low despite a smattering of strong singles, but the end product, while far from perfection (and showing some hallmarks of over production) is full of charisma, dreamy sonics and plenty of snap. Pretty much everything here works as Hayley carries herself like a star and, in truth, that’s half the battle.

Liberty by Lindi Ortega [Country]

Lindi Ortega continues to work away at her sound and Liberty is her best attempt yet at merging Spaghetti Western sonics with stately country sonic writing. Not one to run from a challenge, as if merging the scope of Hollywood with the intimacy of the front porch, Liberty is divided into three conceptual suites. To be honest, the story is pretty hard to follow (apparently the physical release comes with detailed liner notes), but these songs flourish in isolation. Ortega proves wonderful dramatic harnessing 80s rock propulsion, wacky séances, handclaps, deliciously camp vocals, 60s schlock and anything else that pops into her head, thus ensuring this collection never ceases to surprise.

Nihilistic Glamour Shots by Cabbage [Punk/Post-Punk/Rock]

Rocking classic punk and post-punk sounds, Cabbage manage to retain a modern edge by exuding so much raw energy and bile. Full of dark humor and savage satire, Nihilistic Glamour Shots is a record honed on the road and it shows. Every track contains either a glorious hook or a primal outpouring of angst – and, more often than not, both (see “Arms Of Pleonexia”). The sounds of the late 70s have been back in vogue for a while now, but few employ them with this much punch or precision.

Note: This was an insane week for albums Ashley McBryde’s new album is fantastic, CZARFACE and MF Doomhave an overly long, but worthwhile collaboration out while Frankie Cosmos continues to deliver and that’s just scratching the surface.

The Best New Tracks:

The Track Of The Week:

“OKRA” by Tyler, The Creator [Rap] 

Why not? That’s Tyler, The Creator’s mantra. After Flower Boy fulfilled his potential and pointed toward maturity, surprise single “OKRA” is a wild Odd Future throwback in the form of Grammy nomination celebration. The intensity is ratcheted up as Tyler spits straight bars and punchlines for two and half  uninterrupted minutes. It’s a riot.

“Lying Next To Me In Despair” by Sorry [Indie]

Every fibre in my being wants to reject this song. It’s so knowingly undercooked, so painfully earnest, so sickly sweet and yet (mostly thanks to the video and the sad “woos”) so frustratingly laced with irony. Yet, against my better judgement, I can’t help but submit to the soft beauty of a man pleading, “[I] wish that you were here, lying next to me in despair”.

“Bad Company” by A$AP ROCKY Feat. BlockBoj JB [Rap]

Blockboy JB goes back to back on our tracks of the week list, this time he’s guesting on A$AP ROCKY’s “Bad Company”. It’s foolish to read too much into an A$AP single, but “Bad Company” seems to merge the braggadocio of his debut with the trippy expansive mind-set of his sophomore, without ever really sounding like either. Here A$AP contrasts his incredible material success with what his life style is doing to his state of mind.

“Lover Boy” by Phum Viphurit [Pop]

Part of me wants to label this track abhorrent, but Thai (by way of New Zealand) singer Phum Viphurit is so out of keeping with current pop culture trends, I ended up finding “Lover Boy” utterly charming.

“The Eye” by Empath [Noise Rock]

Well this track is an absolute winner: a melodic line somehow stands tall even as it is smothered by rabble of percussion and a crumbling wall of noise. The war between tonality and primal bluster only makes the hook more potent, as you struggle to get to grips with the sonics, you’ll find your head bobbing and you lips muttering, “You don’t have to spend all of that money on me, Bay-bee”

“Be Careful” by Cardi B [Rock]

This Friday we find out whether Cardi B is the real deal when her album drops and, to whet our appetite, Cardi has dropped “Be Careful”: a viciously direct warning to Offset. Stop scheming and respect her, because her vengeance will be swift. In some ways it’s a step back, leaving more questions than answers for her up coming LP.

“About You” by G Flip [Pop]

I’m late to the party on this one, but I’ve caught up courtesy of Pigeons and Planes. G Flip is a young Australian drummer turned singer, writer and producer and “About You” is a monstrous pop anthem hiding behind DIY veneer.

“Throw Me A Bone” by Goat Girl [Indie]

This luscious and sporadic eerie instrumental is intriguing in its own right, showing considerable poise for a band so young, but the reason this track lands on this list is because it oozes attitude: “Throw me a bone and I’ll throw back a stone”, damn.

“Lil Arrogant” by IDK feat. Joey Bada$$ & Russ [Rap]

“Trump supporters’ daughters love me so I still think we won” is just one of a plethora of stand out punchlines on the murderously moody, but surprisingly enjoyable trio cut.

“Play It Cool” by Girli [Pop]

Girli’s latest is a mess of mid-2000s influenced indie pop quirks, but that’s part of “Play It Cool’s” charm. Girli is no longer content being a “side chick” and is breaking out of a toxic relationship with a serious of deadpan put downs (“today you woke up in my bed and then you legged it”)

“Sisters” by Natalie Prass [Soul]

Well who could have seen this coming, Natalie Prass of all people has embraced mind-bending funk and neo-soul. “Sisters” is a unifying anthem for women across the world, delivered in a subtle and surprisingly sexy fashion.