The (kinda) reformed Smashing Pumpkins sound (kinda) great again
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The Smashing Pumpkins - ‘Solara’
Part of me wants to slam this new song from The Smashing Pumpkins because they neglected to include D’arcy Wretsky in their reformation plans. But without knowing exactly what’s going on with the band in an interpersonal sense, it’s probably best that I stay completely focused on the music.
Which is probably for the best, because ‘Solara’ is honestly one of the best Pumpkins tunes in 20 years. It won’t quite move you the way Siamese Dream or Melon Collie… did when you first heard them, because music is different now, and you’re a different person too. But the guitars are big, Corgan’s hook is vicious and catchy, and… it just sounds like The Smashing pumpkins, you know?
There will almost definitely be a new album announced soon and I bet they’ll be back in Australia before long as well.
Say Lou Lou - ‘Ana’
Sisterly duo Say Lou Lou have clearly drawn more inspiration from 90s trip hop than the work of their incredibly influential father (Steve Kilbey). Everything about this song - the melodies, the big, sweeping strings, the generally dour, heart-aching mood - takes us back 20 years, and that is not a bad thing. Particularly considering they do it really, really damn well. Keep an ear out for their new album, which should be out in September.
Kamasi Washington - ‘Street Fighter Mas’
The coolest fugure in modern jazz blows our minds once again with the ultra-smooth ‘Street Fighter Mas’. A huge choir takes the main melody here, while squelchy bass keeps us grounded and Washington’s peerless sax work just soars off as if it has a mind of its own. If this is lounge music, I’m literally never leaving the lounge. I’ll die in the fucking lounge.
Jorja Smith - ‘Blue Lights’/‘Where Did I Go?’
Jorja Smith has the world at her feet right now. She’s 21, she’s one of the biggest new artists on the planet, with literally tens of millions of streams on every platform, and it’s all because she’s making music of supreme quality.
In both ‘Blue Lights’ and ‘Where Did I Go?’, it sounds like she’s singing directly from her soul. There’s a realness in her voice that isn’t easily confected. Add to that some production that might make you a little nostalgic for the 90s, and she’s clearly onto something good.
Here’s hoping she wastes no time getting to Australia to show us what she has when it comes to playing live.
Black Rock Band - ‘Bininj Kunborrk’
These Northern Territory rockers just released their debut album Struggle and are ready to show Australia that they’re one of the most exciting new bands around. ‘Bininj Kunborrk’ is a lively track that serves as a bit of a statement of intent; the band want to share their culture with anyone who will listen. With music as energetic, passionate and just plain good as this, anyone who doesn’t is seriously missing out.
Luluc - ‘Spring’
The pastoral beauty of Luluc hasn’t abated one bit in the four years since their excellent Passerby record. If ‘Spring’ is any indication of what their new record Sculptor will sound like, then we very much look forward to hearing more. We won’t have to wait long; it will be out mid next month.
DeJ Loaf - ‘Liberated’ (ft. Leon Bridges)
On ‘Liberated’, DeJ Loaf’s modern R&B gets a Caribbean workover courtesy of some sweet steel drums and a little injection of classic 60s soul thanks to a guest turn from our dear friend Leon Bridges. It lives up to the heady promise these three very exciting elements offer, proving you can never have too much of a good thing.
Villagers - ‘A Trick of the Light’
Utter class from Conor O’Brien in his Villagers project once again. But we expected no less. Perfectly considered, intelligent, sweet and precisely produced indie folk with plenty of intelligent pop songwriting touches that have always set his work apart from the many artists who tread a similar path. The fourth Villagers record, The Art Of Pretending To Swim, will be out in September.
Fraser A. Gorman - ‘Walking to Oman’s’
The ever-charming Fraser A. Gorman has just come off the road in support of Iron & Wine and is getting ready to foist a whole new bunch of music on us before the year is through. ‘Walking To Oman’s’ has Gorman back doing exactly what he does best, spinning tales with rich imagery, clever poetic flourishes and a whole bunch of down-to-earth, relatable references. He feels like a friend and we’re glad he’s back in town.
Xavier Rudd - ‘Storm Boy’
The title track from Xavier Rudd’s latest record is honestly exactly as you’re expecting from him. Great guitar work, smooth, pseudo-Paul Simon vocals and a whole bunch of lyrics that riff about our connection with the land. It’s meaningful writing, wrapped up in a very slick package.