The Big Issue : Edition 572
MUSIC 38 THEBIGISSUE.ORG.AU 5–18 OCT 2018 With fans including the legendary John Dwyer (Oh Sees) and Henry Rollins, Sydney’s Straight Arrows have made a considerable impact on the garage/ punk world. Here, on their third LP, the band are as sharp as ever, shooting straight out of the cannon with blistering opener ‘Nothing to Me’. But the introduction of a dreamy psychedelic element to their sound proves they are even more than just a scrappy punk band. Tracks such as ‘Bound to Lose’ and ‘The One’ emphasise the melodic over the reverb, each instrument paced with careful precision. Lead singer Owen Penglis has perfected his angst-fuelled vocals on this album, with his exasperated delivery on ‘Out and Down’ a particular stand-out. ‘I Don’t ’ brings a more blues-inspired sound to the fore, while ‘Headache’ detours into frenetic rock territory. With plenty of bands working within a safe and comfortable formula, Straight Arrows set themselves apart with their willingness to shake up, and lean into, their more experimental inclinations. HOLLY PERIERA ON TOP! STRAIGHT ARROWS Jason Pierce is one of rock’n’roll’s most ardent acolytes, embracing its spirit, lore and clichés with devotion. His music employs spiritual imagery, summons the grandeur of gospel, and carries a sense of communal celebration. Spiritualized albums are sincere places of worship, where rock’n’roll is religion. This conceit succeeds due to Pierce’s sincerity. And it finds profundity due to the songwriter’s studies of mortality: from flirting with drug-addled, live-fast-die- young imagery in his swaggering youth, to exploring his brushes with death on later records. And Nothing Hur t, the eighth Spiritualized LP, is intended as a swansong for the 52-year-old; a grand sign-off written in effects-lashed guitars, vintage organs, woodwinds, strings and choral vocals. Befitting what may be a “ final” album, it’s a study of mortality – the arrangements’ brightness, holiness and grandeur contrast with the darkness of the themes and Pierce’s meek voice. It’s huge-sounding and hugely effecting. ANTHONY CAREW AND NOTHING HURT SPIRITUALIZED CHICAGO RAPPER NONAME produced a cult classic with legs when she dropped her 2016 mixtape, Telefone. Coming in at just over 30 minutes, the soulful debut from the then 24-year-old Fatimah Warner showcased her dextrous flow and ear for sunny melodies – the same attributes that made her guest spot on fellow Chi-town alum Chance the Rapper’s Coloring Book an album stealer. Telefone was confident and radiant, Noname rhyming about the easy-breezy minutiae of early-twenties life. On her debut album proper, Room 25, Noname returns to the bright R’n’B sounds that were so compelling on her first release, digging even deeper into the jazzy shuffles and liquid rhymes. While her flow is still deceptively airy and malleable, more melodic than rhythmic, it is the content that has taken a more personal, and at times darker, turn. Room 25 measures up the inner world of Fatimah Warner against the chaos of America in 2018. On album opener ‘Self’, she asks with a smirk: “Y’all really thought a bitch couldn’t rap, huh?” facing off with her critics, before telling us that in fact “Nah actually this is for me.” What we have here is a supremely poised performance. There are few rappers who could thoughtfully land a punchline after describing a mother’s fight with cancer, but on standout ‘Don’t Forget About Me’, Noname does just this. Room 25 is a stunning return, and well worth the wait. SARAH SMITH > Music Editor Dev Hynes is masterful in his ability to bend indie rock guitars around R’n’B’s delicate cur ves. As Blood Orange, his fourth album Negro Swan explores his “own and many types of black depression and the ongoing anxieties of queer people of colour”. The record is as thoughtful as it is unpredictable. Guests like The Internet’s Steve Lacy and activist Janet Mock share a mutual flirtation with the sophisticated layered jazz horns, while A$AP Rocky takes an uncharacteristic turn, deftly purring his bars on ‘Chewing Gum’. Multiplicity is the theme of Negro Swan. Sonically, the album acts as an extension of Hynes’ back catalogue and showcases an evolution of his strengths. It’s music for any mood, any time and any place, yet it will resonate the most with those it was made for. Ultimately, Negro Swan teaches us to appreciate beauty in things that don’t belong to us without needing to possess them. KISH LAL NEGRO SWAN BLOOD ORANGE CD DOWNLOAD VINYL NONAME, MAKING A NAME FOR HERSELF.