Happy Listening celebrates the best in this week’s new releases from Pop Filter, Alex the Astronaut, and Pharrell Williams.
As some of us prepare to be hit with a mammoth cold front, it’s important to get your tunes in order. Here are the best new releases to prepare for a weekend threatening to throw anything our way.
Each Friday, Happy Listening provides you with a succinct list of the best new releases that have been slapped up onto the internet this week. Packed into this week’s edition, you can find sunny indie rock, heartfelt folk, and a powerful collaboration between two of hip-hop’s biggest names.
my new music friday mood board (aka what the inside of my brain looks like rn) pic.twitter.com/taTQc1DbjI
— kel (@xkellyjung) August 21, 2020
Pop Filter – Banksia
A perfect soundtrack to sitting in the sun with a cup of tea, Banksia is the debut album for Pop Filter, a new collaboration between members of The Ocean Party, Snowy Band, and Cool Sounds. Recorded in a family holiday house in the NSW South Coast, the album is a sonic journey through empty days away from the pressure of life.
Lyrically, Pop Filter isn’t afraid to approach heavier topics, but they always find a way to make it relatable. Even after the more melancholy tracks like Open House and Romance at the Petrol Station, there’s a sense that everything’s going to be ok.
The album chugs along with the confidence of a band who feel at home in their music. It’s laid-back and honest; the calming influence we all need in 2020.
Pharrell Williams – Entrepreneur feat. Jay-Z
Any time these two come together, you better stop everything and take notice. Whether it’s a classic 2000s track like Frontin’, or recent highlights in the Jay-Z discography like Oceans or APES**T. Entrepreneur is the latest meeting point for the two. Announced with less than a day’s notice, it’s without doubt the freshest of the new releases.
Musically the track is exactly what you’d expect. Over a beat that’s pulled straight from the latest N.E.R.D album, Pharrell switches between a whispered flow and his iconic falsetto before Jay-Z arrives with all the confidence in the world. Lyrically, however, this is the pair’s most passionate collaboration to date.
The track addresses racism in the US and promotes black excellence, reframing Jay-Z and Pharrell‘s braggadocio as a message of hope for Black American’s to overcome society’s oppression and succeed despite it.
Watch the video featuring Tyler, the Creator, Issa Rae, and Beatrice Dixon below.
Cut Copy – Freeze, Melt
Three years on from their last album Haiku From Zero, Melbourne’s electronic darlings Cut Copy are back with Freeze, Melt. Gone are the days of dance-floor fillers like Lights and Music, but in their place are mature tracks filled with synths begging you to sink into them.
Freeze, Melt draws on a range of electronic trends from throughout Cut Copy’s nearly two-decade long career. LCD Soundsystem, Four Tet, and RÜFÜS all feel like reference points across the albums 8-track, 40-minute run time.
Float along with what is possibly the band’s best album since Zonoscope.
Alex the Astronaut – The Theory of Absolutely Nothing
Believe it or not, this is the second of the new releases to reference Banksias, Alex the Astronaut‘s debut album delivers on the potential she’s always promised. The heart-on-her-sleeve lyrics and earworm hooks are here in spades.
When an artist releases too many singles before the release of an album it can sometimes ruin the surprise, but despite 7 of the albums 11 tracks already floating around streaming services, each song on The Theory of Absolutely Nothing feels heartfelt and meaningful as you journey through the album.
Read our interview with Alex the Astronaut about the album and the storytelling central to it.
I floss two times a day
— Alex the Astronaut (@AtheAstronaut) August 14, 2020
Briggs – Always Was
If Briggs‘ collaboration with Thelma Plum, Go To War, hasn’t been on repeat daily since its release two weeks ago, you’ve been missing out. It’s a perfect piece of Australian hip-hop from two of the country’s faves.
Today Briggs drops Always Was, a new EP featuring Go To War, as well as initial single Extra Extra, and four new tracks. Each song comes equipped with a booming trap beat for Briggs to be Briggs all over.
As with a lot of Briggs’ music, whether it’s solo or as part of A.B. Original, the songs on Always Was draw from old school hip-hop with an invigorated energy and a passion to push Australia forwards towards equality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.