With the weekend night, let's get straight to it. This week's new music findings include the spine-tingling croons of Ry X, a Valentine's inspired ode from Lizzo, plus the meeting Czarface and Ghostface killer and more. Find the playlist below and some of our top picks below, and don't forget to follow us on Spotify for carefully curated playlists spanning the festival circuit and beyond.
Ry X – Unfurl
If there was any doubt that Unfurl, the second full-length from New South Wales’ Ry X, would tug heavily on the heartstrings of its listeners, perhaps its lush, opening string passage provides a literal confirmation. Slow and exquisite, they bleed into the staccato electronic pops and ticks of ‘Untold’, over which the bearded Australian heartthrob announces his understated return.
Though ghostly and cathartic throughout, Unfurl has a tone and sticks to it, emitting Ry’s characteristically breathy, emotional atmosphere to create an homogenous terrain. In the right frame of mind however, the effect can be dramatic and cleansing, as in the spiritual chorus of ‘YaYaYa’ and the surprisingly Sting-like melodies of “Foreign Tides”. A top choice for those unconvinced by Valentine’s Day’s niceties. JB
Theon Cross – Fyah
Amidst the often frantic dual-drummers and exploratory saxophone on Sons of Kemet’s fantastic 2018 album Your Queen Is a Reptile was the ever-present steadying influence of Theon Cross and his tuba. Now front-and-centre, the hugely talented musician has enlisted the help of fellow key figures in London’s vibrant jazz scene, Moses Boyd and Nubya Garcia on drums and saxophone respectively, to create his debut album and own artistic vision.
Less overtly politicised and Afrocentric than Sons Of Kemet’s record, Fyah takes in elements of funk and hip-hop (‘Radiate’), smooth jazz (‘CIYA’), Afro/Latin rhythms (‘Candace of Meroe’), and the type of high-energy modern jazz that has come to define the sounds coming out of London at the moment on standout tracks like ‘Activate’. The tuba seems like an oft-overlooked instrument these days, but Theon Cross is going a long way to rectifying that. JK
CZARFACE & Ghostface Killa
Anytime members of Wu-Tang get together, people listen. One of the most enduring acts in hip hop, there’s just something about the NYC supergroup that’s timeless. Czarface is made up of producer 7L and MCs Esoteric and Inspectah Deck. They teamed up with MF Doom last year for an album and now next up in the collab series is Wu’s own Tony Starks aka Iron Man aka Ghostface Killah.
What they come up with isn’t far from what you’d expect, in that the album is permeated with killer braggadocios verses over dirty rough-and-tumble boom bap beats.
The first thing that comes to mind is how refreshing it is to hear lyricism on full display. Not in the Eminem vein of trying to pack as many words into a verse as possible, but just vet rappers putting together rhythms that aim to make you think. The next thing is that the Wu-Tang superhuman sound is so iconic that it’s become a genre unto itself. On this album 7L plays around with what you’d expect to hear comprise the beats Wu voices rap over. There’s more synths here than I’m used to, but he’s worked them seamlessly into the framework.
It’s always high stakes when Wu members put out new music, but this album is a worthy addition to the Wu-Tang galaxy. AW
Methyl Ethyl – Triage
Perth, Australia seems to be fertile grounds for solo-bedroom projects that inevitably swell to traverse loftier vistas, with Jake Webb’s third album under the guise of Methyl Ethel being his most accessible, rhythmic, and affecting yet.
Similarities with contemporaries like new wave-fixated Wild Nothing are apparent, yet Triage is a blend of groove-laden punchiness and heartbreaking melodic hooks with an evident fondness for that bygone era. It’s Webb’s intriguing, androgynous voice that differentiates Methyl Ethel from the sketchy territory of pure, unadulterated homage; effortlessly swirling boisterous tonation into balladry, standout tracks ‘Trip The Mains’ and ‘Real Tight’ hint at the pains of yearning for something unattainable, yet celebrate defiance in its absence. TC