The Big Issue : Edition 530
MUSIC 40 THE BIG ISSUE 10 – 23 FEB 2017 On their fourth record, Everyone We Know, Thundamentals prove that socially conscious rap can coexist comfortably alongside straight-up party tracks. Blending R’n’B harmonies with their signature flow, the Blue Mountains crew manage to push their sound forward while retaining the feel-good attitude of their earlier work. Over a trap beat, ‘Reebok Pumps’, a nostalgic ode to slick kicks, conjures up images of teenage boys hanging out at shopping centre food courts. It’s so vivid you can almost smell the wafts of Lynx. This effortlessly bleeds into ‘Ignorance is Bliss’, a tight three-and-a -half minute lesson on privilege. Later ‘Milk and Honey’ cleverly dissects the Australian dream. In different hands the messages here could weigh down the music, but Thundamentals have a canny way of keeping their lyrics tight and their beats big. A natural evolution from their last record So We Can Remember (2014), Ever yone We Know articulates big ideas while bringing the party. HANNAH JOYNER THUNDAMENTALS EVERYONE WE KNOW From the demos he recorded as a teenager in an Ohio basement to the full-band screamo of breakout record Attack on Memor y (2012), Cloud Nothings frontman Dylan Baldi has been devoted to songcraft. His style is as much power pop as post-hardcore, channelling both the frayed, melodic indie of early Merge Records with the wounded existentialism of Dischord. Life Without Sound, the band’s fourth LP, is even more accessible. “ Feel right/Feel lighter,” he intones in a pop-punk mantra on the album’s bright second number. Written and recorded in short bursts between touring, the band’s previous two records came out vicious and raw. Life Without Sound is their most deliberate effort so far – a studio record, honed and rehearsed for almost two years. The results are steadier, more focused, Baldi singing with control, foregrounding harmony and guitar over the band’s formidable rhythm section. Taking their time with this album, Cloud Nothings achieve directness by means other than sheer force. ANNIE TOLLER CLOUD NOTHINGS LIFE WITHOUT SOUND WHAT HAPPENS WHEN you put 16 people in a small room and ask them to come up with a list of the best Australian records of 2016? Well, a lot of swearing to start with. But also some really intelligent, funny and insightful conversations about music. Last month I sat in such a room in Sydney with a group of journalists, broadcasters, musicians and retailers to help decide the shortlist for the Australian Music Prize. This involved listening to a record number of 364 albums between us. Which, while daunting, was also somewhat of an indulgence. With the rate at which new music is released it’s often hard to find the time to just sit with an album, letting it really get under your skin. And it’s fascinating what you discover when you do: a clever lyric here, a cool baseline there. One of my favourite parts of the whole process was seeing what happens when a record or song really connects with a judge; the kind of passion music can inspire. Last year was an especially rich year for Australian music, and it was painful to see some records not make the final nine. But those that did sure are something special. There’s a scorching debut from “scummy punks” Camp Cope; the incendiary hip-hop collaboration of A.B. Original; and The Avalanches’ long- awaited comeback. Alongside Nick Cave, DD Dumbo, King Gizzard, Olympia, The Peep Tempel and Big Scar y. I can’t wait to spend the next month connecting with them all over again. SARAH SMITH > Music Editor Double albums aren’t in vogue these days but Kasey Chambers, Australia’s queen of Americana, isn’t one to shortchange her muse. Dragonfly covers two recording sessions, one helmed by Paul Kelly and the other by her brother Nash Chambers. The first half covers a range of styles, from the throwaway ‘Talkin’ Baby Blues’ to lead single ‘Ain’t No Little Girl’ – a slow blues ache featuring devastating vocals from Chambers. There are also string-laden ballads, bluegrass get-downs, acoustic folk and soulful rock excursions. The second half is a more cohesive set featuring duets with Keith Urban, Harry Hookey and Vika and Linda Bull. It’s the more traditional rootsy songs that have the greatest impact. It’s a stretch to take in all of Dragonfly in one sitting and, although it flits about stylistically, there are plenty of songs that match Chambers’ finest compositions, especially when she lets fly vocally or hangs her heart out on the line. CHRIS FAMILTON KASEY CHAM BERS DRAGONFLY CD DOWNLOAD VINYL “SCUMMY PUNKS” CAMP COPE.