PJ Harvey – Dry – Demos
Released in 1992, PJ Harvey’s Dry is considered by many to be one of the best debuts of the ‘90s, with her idiosyncratic vocal presence and distinctive songwriting winning huge praise among critics and fans alike. As part of a series of reissues, Harvey has now shared the original four-track demos for the record, offering a rare glimpse into her songwriting process during the earliest stages of her career. Dry – Demos is fascinating from front to back: many of these versions feature no more than Harvey’s voice, an overdubbed guitar and an occasional dosage of violin, putting the focus right on the fundamentals of her songwriting. ‘Happy and Bleeding’ is blues-grunge at its best, while the original demo for ‘Dress’ is almost just as vicious and poignant as the studio version we all know today.
The Naked and Famous – Recover
After being forced to delay the original release of the album way back when COVID first hit, New Zealand indie pop mainstays The Naked and Famous have finally shared their fourth full-length Recover. The album marks a welcome return to form for Alisa Xayalith and Thom Powers, with the duo locking in their songwriting and production to make for their most focused release since 2013’s In Rolling Waves. The fist-pumping hooks of ‘Bury Us’ and ‘Everybody Knows’ act as a reminder of why this band was such a big deal in the early 2010s, while tracks like ‘Recover’ showcase a more introspective side that the group have rarely explored before to such extent.
Cub Sport – Like Nirvana
Only 18 months after the release of their widely praised self-titled release, Brisbane alt-pop collective Cub Sport have shared what might be their best artistic statement to date with Like Nirvana. Led by the sensational lead single ‘Confessions’, Like Nirvana sees Tim Nelson explore notions of identity, self-acceptance and societal tensions over a bed of washed-out, introspective soundscapes that invoke a profound sense of melancholia. The use of space, echo and reverb across Like Nirvana makes for an overwhelmingly brooding listening experience, while Nelson’s gut-punching lyricism and sublime vocal performances really go to show that Cub Sport are so much more than just another indie group.
Kamaal Williams – Wu Hen
Jazz-funk luminaire Henry Williams has returned to his Kamaal Williams moniker for Wu Hen, a ten track collection of forward-thinking fusion jams that underscore his status at the top of South London’s prosperous scene. Featuring cinematic contributions from string arranging wizard Miguel-Atwood Ferguson and some top notch saxophone work from Quinn Mason, Wu Hen is immediately more accessible than Williams’ earlier works, traversing a myriad of different genres without ever feeling too over-stuffed or busy. ‘Pigalle’ sees Williams and his ensemble work through their scales over a wildly fast bebop groove, while ‘Save Me’ and ‘Mr. Wu’ merge jazzy house with elements of disco to make for two of the record’s best songs. A worthy listen for any budding jazz instrumentalist wondering how to integrate their technical chops into contemporary styles.
George Clanton & Nick Hexum – George Clanton & Nick Hexum
While his artist name may verge dangerously close to that of a certain mighty P-Funk overlord, George Clanton is certainly no copycat. Fusing elements of wonky electronica, ambient, shoegaze and acid house, Clanton’s production has seen him become an underground darling on the internet, but it’s this unlikely new collaborative tape with 311 singer Nick Hexum that might just prove to be his mainstream breakout moment. Across nine tracks, Clanton delivers some of his most gleaming, spacious beats on record, with Hexum’s vocals proving to be surprisingly effective addition to his idiosyncratic production style. It’s quite an odd collaboration, but makes for an incredibly intriguing chill-out album – definitely a bit of a dark horse in this week’s wrap up.
Never miss a story – sign up to our mailing list for all the latest news, reviews, features and giveaways.