Code Orange – Forever by David James Young
A recent tweet from the Triple J handled heralded their then-feature album, the debut from Australian band Ocean Grove, as ‘the first great heavy release of the year’.
While it was just a bit of puffed-up hype, there is no way that anyone could have objectively come to that conclusion with Forever looming over them. The third album from this multi-faceted Pittsburgh act is its most focused, its most structured and its overall best.
It’s a relentless assault of snarling, piercing guitar matched up to the band’s layered vocals and beatdown drums. Their metalcore roots are still very much in-tact, but songs like “Bleeding in the Blur” are indicators of how far they’ve come since their beginnings. If you’re after the first truly great heavy release of the year, then Forever is essential listening. It’s not pretty or accessible, but it might just be the punch in the face you need.
The xx – I See You by Jules LeFevre
If you’ve been unconvinced by The xx’s previous efforts – 2009’s self-titled debut and 2013’s Coexist – then you owe yourself a deep dive into I See You. Their record is their most musically engaging to date, with Jamie xx injecting some much need vitality into the mix after his successful solo outing with 2015’s In Colour. Tracks like “I Dare You” and “On Hold” are their strongest attempts at mainstream pop tracks, while “Replica” is the album’s standout – a dark and rumbling examination of vulnerability and self-awareness.
Kyle Morton – What Will Destroy You by Larry Heath
The lead singer and chief songwriter of Portland’s Typhoon released an album towards the end of 2016 that sits as one of my most listened to records of the last few months, and deserves your attention.
On first listen, Kyle’s solo debut comes across as a lo-fi version of the music of Typhoon – missing the grandeur that the 11-piece band brings to the program. But as you spend more time with the album, and delve into its lyrics, you realised that it is some of the densest music Morton has ever created.
A move away from his musings on mortality, Morton describes the album as one that deals with “the ambivalence of erotic love”. The consistency of the theme, as well as their quality, is particularly intriguing given the fact he’s on record saying most of the songs were written in little more than a day. This goes on to show the man’s songwriting talents have barely been tapped. And that excites me greatly for the new Typhoon record, due out later this year.
OMNI – Deluxe by Margy Noble
Sometimes the best songwriting is the sparsest – OMNI’s Deluxe shows us this, with angular, jaunty tracks; simple combinations that build to give one of the best albums of 2016. Deluxe is somewhere between post-punk and lo-fi pop, a danceable and hook-laden album that’s reminiscent of Television and DEVO. It’s mesmerizing and addictive, pent-up energy coming across in air-tight tracks. Chuck it a listen – this is only OMNI’s first album, I can only imagine what wondrous things are to come.
KEHLANI – SweetSexySavage by Sosefina Fuamoli
Kehlani’s 2017 release has been one of my most played new releases over the past few weeks. Pouring her efforts and focus into music despite what the media and tabloids have been generating around her personal life has resulted in an unapologetic and confidently delivered album of R&B that doesn’t need to rely on the nostalgia of your Aaliyah’s or early Destiny’s Child to get the point across. Kehlani’s vocals are great (as is the production) and excites me for the rise and revival of incredible female R&B singers coming through at the moment. God, I’ve missed it.