Shortlist CD reviews: July 25-31

Cookin’ on 3 Burners

Blind Bet (Independent)

3.5 stars

With the influx of young funk and soul acts coming out of Melbourne over the past few years, it’s sometimes easy to forget there have been groups doing the same thing for years. Cookin’ On 3 Burners are one, and with the release of their sixth studio LP, Blind Bet, they clock up a decade and half of funk, jazz and boogaloo.

Helmed by The Bamboos’ Lance Ferguson and original members Ivan Khatchoyan and Jake Mason, Blind Bet is a stone cold schooling in groove, from instrumental opener Skeletor, with its shimmering keys and heavy, heavy bass, all the way through to closer Of Dice & Men, which brings to mind a slightly more sedate Budos Band.

In between, guest vocalists abound – Tex Perkins lends a very Tom Waits-esque growl to Flat On My Back, local soul queen Kylie Auldist colours a couple, while Daniel Merriweather surprises with a solid belting of Losin’ Streak. All these young bands are solid, but they could still learn a thing or two from Cookin’ On 3 Burners.


Samuel J. Fell

Melissa Oliveira

In My Garden

3.5 stars

How’s this for cosmopolitan: singer Melissa Oliveira was born in Oz, moved firstly to Portugal then the Netherlands, and then attended Berklee College of Music in Boston, where she recorded this album with mainly American musicians – and a Russian. Out of all that emerges Brazilian-flavoured jazz, with her voice floating or riding more forcefully atop buoyant rhythmical updrafts. She has had a hand in penning most of the material, as well as setting convincing lyrics to standards by Wayne Shorter and Clifford Brown. She evades the mannered improvising that afflicts so many singers, and there is more substance than mere prettiness at work. The players are expert at making the music breezy and open (a quality further aided by the fact pianist Alexei Tsiganov also plays vibraphone), and none other than Greg Osby is guest saxophonist on two tracks. Fans of Flora Purim should have a listen, and you can hear Oliveira live at Foundry 616 on August 8. melissaoliveira.com 

John Shand


CLPPNG (Subpop)

3 stars

Noisy, difficult and angsty hip-hop has officially become ‘a thing’. This second record from Los Angeles hip-hop trio Clipping swims in the wake of recently-split noise-rappers, Death Grips, who also took hip-hop into atypically abrasive terrain.

Static bursts and machinery groans make up some of this record’s ingenious beats, evoking the harsh sounds of early Public Enemy. But the beats’ cutting edge is dulled by the clinically spat and cliched rhymes of rapper Daveed Diggs – think homies, bitches, guns, clubs, pussies and choruses like “get money or die” – whose flow sounds like the result of hard work rather than born talent. While Diggs matches Andre 3000 in crisp lyrical complexity and says something of merit when he strays from the wordplay of ghetto street thuggery, as on Dream, CLPPNG is still at its best when Diggs just lets the beat ride.

Kate Hennessy


Fractures (Create/Control)

3 stars

You are a Melbourne singer/songwriter/producer, playing electronic-based, but not exclusively electronic/soul influenced songs, sung in a sometimes high/always intimate voice, about the vulnerabilities of a modern man. Well, yeah, you are going to be compared with Chet Faker. Still, after recovering from a fractured neck to record this mini-album, that's probably the least of the complications for Mark Zito. The seven tracks are probably as much in line with a warmer post-Kid A Radiohead crossed with a less intense Bon Iver: ripples of sound emanating from a core built on voice and vocal melody. It’s a very attractive listen, easy to sink into and meant for dark more than daylight, though maybe a little too subdued on repeat listens. For the moment, while Won’t Win comes close in its groove, the previously released single, Twisted, is the most dynamic and engaging track here: it has momentum and tenderness in equal measure.

Bernard Zuel