Our selection of the best new music across a range of genres from the week ending 13 October 2023.
Lizzie Powell has always been a risk-taker. As the creative force behind the influential Canadian outfit Land of Talk, the Montreal-based songwriter has over the past 15 years amassed a catalog of four unimpeachable albums that stretch the boundaries of indie rock. But Performances, their fifth LP, feels like a total reinvention: an unflinching statement from an artist who’s not afraid to say how they feel. Though it trades muscular guitar rock for understated piano, it’s still the most urgent, cathartic, and personal release of Powell’s career so far.
The music of Ravel is especially close to Alexandre Tharaud’s heart. Now, in partnership with the Orchestre National de France and conductor Louis Langrée, he has recorded both the composer’s piano concertos, pairing them with Noches en los jardines de España (Nights in the Gardens of Spain), Manuel de Falla’s sumptuous three-movement work for piano and orchestra. All three of these works have been part of Tharaud’s life since he was a teenager. Taking his connection to Ravel a step further, in 2024 the French pianist will be seen in a film based by director Anne Fontaine on the composer’s life, entitled Boléro.
Boorloo/Perth artist Hector Morlet has shared his debut album The Variety Show, out now via AWAL. Inspired by a series of weekly shows he hosted at Mojos in North Fremantle last year, the album sonically expands from dips from funky psychedelic, to 1950’s spaghetti western anecdotes – whilst covering all grounds between.
A Nuyorican Tale is an Urban Latin-Jazz musical concept from Carlos Henriquez that sings about the Puerto Rican and Nuyorican conundrum of New York City. The tales talk about racial tension and the historically fought battles rooted deeply in areas of the city like San Juan Hill and The South Bronx, ultimately shaping the foregrounds of the many Puerto Rican families living there in the ’40 – ’50s. The social elements vocalized and explained in this album are also turning points that galvanized the community’s historical path, defining their outcome and reshaping Puerto Rican Art and, eventually, their cultural habitat in the city. A Nuyorican Tale is more than just music: It is a three-dimensional acknowledgment of souls from Africa, and our Native Taino families all blended as one. When you put all of these together, you experience a Nuyorican: one who carries the torch and bares the rhythmic souls of our ancestors.
On Song Machine, The Exbats transport us to a sonic landscape of “oohs” and “aahs” that marvelously invoke the ethos of the 1970’s. Embracing the hippie-tinged culture in the form of strikingly catchy pop songs, The Exbats have become a unique musical phenomenon. Focus tracks like “Himbo” poke fun at the stupidity of incel men, coating the old school sound with a dash of modern social commentary. Throughout the record, vintage melodies hug the listener as lead singer / drummer Inez McClain’s spunky vocals light up each track. Vocally, Exbats invoke a timbre similar to Cindy Wilson or Mama Cass, whereas production-wise they invoke the styles of The Breeders or The Kinks.
Minimal post-punk/synth pop duo The Vacant Lots have released their fifth studio album Interiors via Fuzz Club. The eight songs on Interiors synthesise all of the band’s past work while pushing forward into the future. It’s Jared Artaud and Brian MacFadyen’s darkest and most visionary work yet. Ethereal metallic synths and blistering electronics are driven by disco-on-downers dance beats lashed with gutter-rock guitar riffs and icy detached vocals with evocatively concise and lacerating lyrics.
Mutagenicos (in English, “Mutagens” …agents of change) were formed at the end of 2008, their base of operations being the wine region of Spain, Logroño in La Rioja. Influenced by traditional garage, surf and rock n roll, but with their feet firmly planted in the present. Their long-delayed, new album El Cuarto is out now. They started as a quintet playing mainly instrumental songs, but little by little, both the formation and the compositions, have been undergoing mutations, making way for other musical genres with a greater number of sung songs, although always there remains room for instrumentals.
Other reviews you might enjoy:
- New music round-up (for w/e 12 January 2024)
- New music round-up (for w/e 27 October 2023)
- New music round-up (for w/e 20 October 2023)
David Edwards is the editor of The Blurb and a contributor on film and television