Every Friday, ‘The Album Cycle’ reviews a handful of new releases.
ALBUM OF THE WEEK
Georgia – All Kind Music
It’s hard to tell exactly what’s going on here. Are the NY-based duo improvising in real time with real instruments? Toiling away on laptops? Cutting up samples and sticking them back together? Jamming out on pots and pans with chopsticks? Whatever they’re doing, it’s working. All Kind Music combines a ‘world music’-jazz vibe, the dancier side of the early-80s NY Noise scene, some Sublime Frequencies-style field recordings sounding stuff, DJ Rupture-style globalist mix-ups and everything in between. Whatever it is, it’s fun, more listenable than my description of it, and strangely addictive. Will millions of people like it? Nope. Thousands? Maybe. Album of the week? Fuck it, why not? Miranda Lambert got single of the week, she doesn’t need to be album of the week too. – Henry Oliver
Moana (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Disney’s Moana will screen on Boxing Day in New Zealand but the soundtrack has just been released, and it’s fantastic. On first listen, I heard bits of Samoan, Tokelauan, and Māori language in the songs, as well as the staple sounds of drums and vocal percussions. Jemaine Clement and Dwayne Johnson both have amusing solo tracks, but the album is anchored by lead actress Auli’i Cravalho’s anthem ‘How Far I’ll Go’ – like Frozen’s ‘Let It Go’, but better.
From the soundtrack, there is no mistaking what Moana is about, and that’s a good thing. But it’s not all great news. At the end of the short tracklist, I heard another song. It was another version of ‘How Far I’ll Go’, presumably the radio version, only this time it was sung by pop singer Alessia Cara and it was terrible. Like Demi Lovato’s far inferior radio version of ‘Let It Go’, but even worse. Like all radio edits, I’m sure after the 100th forced listen I’ll warm to it. For now, I’ll stick to Cravalho’s version. –
Miranda Lambert – The Weight Of These Wings
The Weight of These Wings is kind of like a Nashville Tusk, a chaotic and mostly totally inspired double-album that seems to revel in defying expectations, flickering restlessly between raw, heartbreaking balladry and loose, playful country stompers. Opening track ‘Runnin’ Just In Case’ is the former, channeling that distant, haunting drone that Emmylou Harris mastered with Daniel Lanois on her career highlight Wrecking Ball album. “There’s trouble where I’m going but I’m gonna go there anyway” is a perfect first line, but it’s the closing line that pretty much defines the whole record: “Happiness ain’t prison, but there’s freedom in a broken heart.” – Calum Henderson
Masketta Fall – Golden
A pop band so desperate to not be a pop band, heartthrobs Masketta Fall are one of the newer Blink-182 tribute bands to grace the covers of teen magazines and be subjected to bad radio gags. Most of the songs are self-deprecating in a traditionally pop-punk kind of way, and centre around not being good enough for the for the intelligent, beautiful subject. The nicest surprise comes in the songwriter’s’ ability to perfectly capture a moment in time – the infatuation, the heartbreak, the angst, and the youthful optimism many of us lose when we’re faced with the realities of adulthood. Don’t worry if you reluctantly start enjoying yourself, a song called “Douchebag Love’ rolls around soon enough to snap you back to reality and make you grateful you’re not 17 again. – Kate Robertson
Kate Bush – Before The Dawn
Some thoughts on Kate Bush’s new live album: 1) If you LOVE Kate Bush, you’ll love this; 2) She’s still an amazing singer; 3) I wish it was heavier. Songs like ‘Hounds of Love’ should have a boom and a crunch to them, but here they sound a little thin, like the band is too good in a gun-for-hire kind of way so lack the bite that the best of Bush’s records have; 4) it’s very long; 5) hearing the how-many-ever-thousands-of-people sing the yeaheyeaheyeahoooo bit at the end of ‘Cloudbusting’ is surprisingly affecting for a crowd singalong on a live album, as is the big noise bit at the end. – HO
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The Spinoff Weekly compiles the best stories of the week – an essential guide to modern life in New Zealand, emailed out on Monday evenings.