The Big Issue : Edition 574
MUSIC 38 THEBIGISSUE.ORG.AU 2–15 NOV 2018 The debut LP from instrumental Melbourne ensemble The Putbacks unspools like a far- ranging highlights reel. There’s surf-waggled soul (‘Oranges’), sultry 70s funk (‘No Bench’), string-fluttered jazz (‘No Man No’), brooding cosmic blues (‘Straight’) and the most delicate meandering of guitar (‘Little Flower’). The record often resembles a well-oiled audition for some off-stage singer, though at times it renders the idea of a singer unnecessary altogether. That said, the band have done fantastic work in the past backing Emma Donovan, and this time American neo-soul singer Bilal lends a woozy warmth against the dank psych- rock flourishes of lead single ‘The Ways’, marking the record’s only inclusion of vocals. The Putbacks prove nimble and gnarly at every turn, riding along on a seasoned snap and sizzle learned from the funk/soul masters. The album may drift and drag a bit in its second half, but even that is part of an extended comedown intended to reiterate the players’ prodigious range. DOUG WALLEN TH E PUTBACKS TH E PUTBACKS Initially set for release in 2014, Tha Car ter V is the anticipated record from hip-hop’s prodigal son, Lil Wayne. A lengthy and publicised dispute between Lil Wayne and Cash Money Records co-founder Bryan “Birdman” Williams over the release of the record led to an ugly $51 million lawsuit. While his album was held hostage, Lil Wayne continued to make music, releasing mixtapes and making guest features. “ Time is a thief that robs us of our former selves,” and Tha Carter V comes when Lil Wayne has passed his peak. Four years ago, this album might have been his biggie, but at 23 songs his bars become repetitive, homogenous and tired. Guest appearances by Nicki Minaj, Travis Scott and Kendrick Lamar are highlights, but the addition of the now deceased XX XTentacion seems redundant. The mere existence of Tha Car ter V deser ves a celebration, but it doesn’t mean the music is good. “ Thank God Weezy back,” Lil Wayne says, referring to himself, on ‘Dope New Gospel’. “Order is restored, all is right with the world.” KISH LAL THA CARTER V LIL WAYNE FANS HAVE ALWAYS been a bit suss on actors who turn their hand to music, which seems strange given that there are countless examples of musos testing out their acting chops. Who could forget Beyoncé’s star turn in Dreamgirls, Justin Timberlake’s late-noughties shift to film, or the reinvention of Mark Wahlberg (nee Marky Mark) as a Very Serious Actor, just to name a few. For some reason, though, the transition from singer to thespian has always been a little smoother than the converse. Russell Crowe has long been roasted for his country-blues band 30 Odd Foot of Grunts; Robert Downey Jr’s debut album The Futurist was widely panned; Jada Pinkett Smith was dragged relentlessly for fronting nu-metal band Wicked Wisdom; and even Scarlett Johansson’s record of Tom Waits covers – Anywhere I Lay My Head (2 0 0 8) produced by Dave Sitek and featuring a guest spot by David Bowie – divided critics, despite having all the makings of an indie hit. But there are some exceptions to the rule: Juliette Lewis, Jason Schwartzman, Miley Cyrus and, it seems, Bill Murray. In this issue [see p20] Doug Wallen interviews Murray about his new live show – part poetry recital, part chamber concert – with German cellist Jan Vogler. Murray and Vogler speak with Wallen of their creative chemistry and how much fun it is to perform. The show has been described in reviews as passionate, silly and surprising. Adjectives that could well apply to Murray himself. SARAH SMITH > Music Editor Los Angeles songwriter, composer and artist Julia Holter has released her fifth album, and it’s big in every sense of the word. At 15 songs and nearly 90 minutes long, Aviar y is simultaneous beauty and catastrophe. The album takes its starting point from a line in an Etel Adnan story: “I found myself in an aviary full of shrieking birds.” In both sound and title, songs are somewhat erratic – ‘Shall I Love 2’ precedes ‘Shall I Love 1’ for example. But this turbulence brilliantly captures the uncertainty of our times that Holter seems so determined to convey. ‘Chaitius’ and ‘Colligere’ pay homage to classical greats like Vaughan Williams and Handel, and from opening to end Aviary expands and grows, momentum building despite its sonic diversity. More an immersive soundscape than an album, in Aviary Holter has created something esoteric, full of worldly interpretation, honesty and amid all this, genuine hope, ready for those willing to seize it. IZZY TOLHURST AVIARY JULIA HOLTER CD DOWNLOAD VINYL THIS IS THE FACE OF A VERY SERIOUS ACTOR.