The Big Issue : Edition 542
MUSIC 40 THE BIG ISSUE 28 JUL – 10 AUG 2017 Mellow Waves is the first new music in more than a decade from Japanese cult hero Cornelius, who has flanked his acclaimed collaborations and solo albums with remixes and soundtracks. Opener ‘If You’re Here’ indulges in smooth guitar licks and groggy ambience, before Cornelius diverts into mindboggling busyness with ‘Sometime/ Someplace’ and ‘Dear Future Person’. That, and the mostly Japanese lyrics, can make for an inscrutable listen, but patient navigating will confirm his dazzling genre-bending. And for all the bravura juggling of so many motifs, there’s a common thread of unpretentious joy through it all. That same radiant vibe ends up uniting the cosmic jazz funk of ‘In a Dream’, the lullaby folk babble of ‘The Rain Song’ and all the other intergalactic zigzagging that permeates this sumptuous return. By turns tranquil and overstimulated, it’s a mood-swinging reintroduction to a unique talent – who knows more about music’s psychedelic potential than most shaggy-haired rock bands. DOUG WALLEN M ELLOW WAVES CORNELIUS On their second LP, LA sister-act Haim polish up their sound: the melodies are bright, the harmonies sweet, the bass funky, the rhythms propulsive. The influence of Fleetwood Mac lingers in smartly produced, studio-slick songs that are never retro or nostalgic. Haim’s music is, essentially, artful bubblegum. The trio exist at an intersection of pure pop and indie: they’re members of Taylor Swift’s “squad”, the album boasts production and instrumentation from ex-Vampire Weekend member Rostam Batmanglij, Blood Orange and Twin Shadow. The songs smuggle clandestine avant-gardism into non-threatening toe-tappers: ‘Right Now’ finds prepared piano and discordant strings from composer Nico Muhly; ‘ Walking Away’ boasts blown-glass bottles and drizzles of distorted vocals. The title track is sublime, syncopated mid-tempo yearning, but for all their craft, Haim lack edge, idiosyncrasy and definable characteristics. Sculpted production and bland lyrics make this bubblegum anodyne. ANTHONY CAREW SOMETHING TO TELL YOU HAIM IN YEAR 8 at high school and on the cusp of those terrifying mid-teen years, alongside Regurgitator’s ‘! (The Song Formerly Known As)’, Grinspoon’s ‘Just Ace’ soundtracked my summer of 98. The fourth single from the Lismore band’s debut album Guide to Better Living clocked in at under two minutes, its film clip featuring a scrawny Phil Jamieson done up in crimson lippie, his ink-black hair pinned sideward with a matching clip. And it’s that image that hovers so vividly when listening to the song two decades on from its release (followed by a veritable tidal wave of awkward memories: underage gigs, first kisses, Drazic from Heartbreak High, Rip Curl neck pendants). Grinspoon have just released the 20th anniversary “deluxe” edition of Guide to Better Living, setting out on an extensive Australian tour to mark it. With many of the dates already sold out, it’s clear this set of songs – though very much of their era – still mean a great deal to a particular generation. The reissue stretches Guide’s original 16 tracks out to 49, with the inclusion of live sets from CBGBs and Falls Festival, a Groove Terminator remix of ‘Champion’ (who knew?), and a few unreleased bits and pieces. While it doesn’t really shed new light on the band’s history, it is a welcome excuse to revisit songs like ‘DCx3’ and ‘Sickfest’ and see how much of those awkward teenage years you can really remember. SARAH SMITH > Music Editor It’s easy to see why people like Megan McInerney, aka Meg Mac. Her breakthrough singles, ‘Roll Up Your Sleeves’ and ‘Never Be’, showcased distinctive soul-inflected vocals. There’s a versatility to shapeshift through genres and a penchant for catchy pop, marked by driving piano and layered harmonies. But her popularity – she was touring with D’Angelo and selling out theatres even before the release of her debut album – is sometimes hard to fathom. Not least because Low Blows isn’t a great leap forward. The record has intriguing percussive undercurrents, some sweet vocal tricks (‘Kindness’), and a sharp production sheen pleasing to the ear. When it comes to making good on Mac’s potential, however, Low Blows ultimately falls short more often than not. Given a chance to set herself apart, Mac has played it safe by releasing a good first album. It doesn’t quite hit the mark. DAVID JAMES YOUNG LOW BLOWS MEG MAC CD DOWNLOAD VINYL GRINSPOON...SUMMER OF 98.