BEST OF / LISTS

Here are my top 25 Albums released in 2020 and some words on the choices, diversity in music and why “genre-defying” is the theme of the year.

As a year, 2020 has been truly genre-defying. In music however this trend has been a steady beacon marking creative evolution despite the despair and degeneration of the present moment. As discussed below, musicians of diverse backgrounds are increasingly prominent and visible, bringing an arson of intersecting influences. Alongside an information age of bottomless digital libraries and heady interconnectedness it is hardly surprising the correlation is diversity in sound, making genre wobbly and ushering in an exciting surge of works which resist categorisation. This year there are those albums that glide between schools of style like Touché Amoré, Jyoti (Georgia…


NEW MUSIC / LISTS

August’s edition of Fresh Picks expands my usual three recommended albums of the month to five. Phil Elverum returns as The Microphones on his new avant-folk release, No Joy stretch their boundaries with an eclectic new record, and Georgia Anne Muldrow as Jyoti solidifies her place in jazz history and Black history. Also featuring are Australia-via-South Sudan refugee Gordon Koang and the DJ/producer Haruka fusing club-ready electronic hits on her debut EP as Haruka Salt. Enjoy!

The Microphones, “Microphones in 2020"

Phil Elverum of Mount Eerie has revived his moniker of The Microphones to release Microphones in 2020. It is The Microphones’ first record…


NEW MUSIC / LISTS

Albums that I have been listening to in July seem to capture the displacement of current times, but my top three highlight the most fun and vibrant sounds. Dehd’s “Flower of Devotion” is instantly captivating, SPARKLE DIVISION is a luscious blend on “To Feel Embraced” and illuminati hotties leave no holds barred on “FREE I.H: This Is Not the One You’ve Been Waiting For.”

July is a wrap and it seems that my personal highlights in new music trend towards electronic and post-punk releases. As the world firmly settles in to pandemic routine and is ever more digitally attached, perhaps it is the futuristic or dystopian feel of electronica and the contrasting immediacy of assertive punk indignation that resonates most right now. Whether it is an artist-lead trend or a listener’s interpretation, a lot of new music seems to speak to themes of distance or digitalisation or doubt. There has also been a steady stream of surprise releases, including many of this week’s featured…


New Music / Lists

Reviews of new and noteworthy albums from June 2020: Sault are suave and meditative on “Untitled (Black Is),” Arca contorts with transformative electronic avant-pop on “KiCk i” and Run The Jewels’ sharp irreverent rap on “RTJ 4” is a surefire protest classic.

June’s best albums are all timely exaltations of diversity, in a historical moment where the fight to justly honour the spectrum of identity buzzes with the possibility of becoming a watershed. These three albums are exceptional even disregarding the fact that they speak so directly to the current zeitgeist. It is just even more special that we get to enjoy them right now, within nucleus of social change. Get excited.

Sault, “UNTITLED (Black Is)”

Sault released their masterful LP on Juneteeth, with a notorious absence of fanfare now typical from this elusive band. The record is a deeply moving and personal journey into…


Music / Playlist

From Tchaikovsky to Talking Heads to Tame Impala, here is a playlist that offers light in loneliness, solidarity in solitude and a listening guide for what these songs represent to me.

In the words of Aliaume Damala Badara “Akon Thiam, borrowing the words of Bobby Vinton: “Lonely, I’m Mr. Lonely, I have nobody, I’m on my own.” Whether the subject matter is relationships or depression or alienation, the theme of loneliness inevitably finds expression in music. Prima facie, being alone = bad. But Akon and many others may have oversimplified the sentiment of isolation. While there is undeniably comfort in connecting with songs that languish in loneliness, music often celebrates introspection and may even find peace and wonder in being alone. …


New Music / Reviews / Features

Apple’s acme arrives, in a sharp, honest, funny and warm flurry. Here are the thoughts I arrive at on life, death, gender and belief.

Fiona Apple’s new album Fetch The Bolt Cutters might well be the most critical and essential album of this year. Critical, in the sense of the acclaim and adoration which has been universal. Essential, in the sense that it boils concepts and sounds down to their most elemental. Both those words, in terms of importance, necessity, relevance.

Fetch The Bolt Cutters has already been labelled a masterpiece. Pitchfork has awarded it their first 10/10 in 10 years (the last being Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy — which is okay because Yeezy has confessed to being a massive…


New Music / Lists

New and noteworthy of the first half of April include Heaven To a Tortured Mind by Yves Tumor, Agitprop Alterna by Peel Dream Magazine and Longest Slow Dance EP by Ferrari Garden

We’re halfway through April and here are my records on high rotation so far this month. As the planet holds its breath in isolation it’s the perfect time to tune in to the music world that might often feel hard to keep up with. There’s an endless library to adventure into now — art and culture stop for nobody! Whether you find comfort in relatability or escapism, here are three of my personal favourites to wrap yourself in.

Longest Slow Dance EP, by Ferrari Garden

In her new EP, Longest Slow Dance, Ferrari Garden (Sophia Ruby Katz) delivers a delightful, self-assured and eclectic insight into the…


New Music / Reviews

Nostalgia and hope collide as an exceptional narrator welcomes all with open arms.

“The Garbage Man” is the opening track of Hamilton Leithauser’s fourth solo album The Loves Of Your Life. It begins with a foggy and cinematic old-Hollywood swoon. You can hear the swarm of flies distinctly drone in the ebb and flow of the string section. These strings draw a slow motion ballroom while simultaneous giving a sticky, oleaginous quality. The atmosphere is immediately set for this picturesque album, of the metropolis of New York City and its inhabitants, revealing that “The rainbow’s in the gasoline”.

The rainbow unfolds in the episodic chapters of this record. Leithauser chronicles each track upon…

Joy Qin

Meanjin/Brisbane, Australia. Law/History graduate. I love music, culture, critical theory and the feel of a really good hand sanitiser!

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