Review: Say the words 'soft rock' to most people and they won't necessarily conjure images of cool bands making edgy statements with sophisticated sounds. And that's why most people are wrong, or have at least failed to strike up a relationship with Montreal outfit Tops. Since 2012 the troupe have been making music exactly like that, and with 'I Feel Alive' the recipe proves particularly potent. You could identify shades of Fleetwood Mac on more than one occasion here - the disco hues of 'Direct Sunlight' is one example, while 'Colder & Closer' makes light work of throwing some synth pop into the mix further down the line. Ultimately, though, it's as much about sharp lyricism as anything else, with tales of adultery, the relentless drag of casual sex and more making for quite the poignant take on modern life.
Damaged Eyes Squinting Into The Beautiful Overhot Sun
Call On Thee
Review: Experimental rock deities Deerfhoof ensure something will survive with their latest, adding gems to an already-bejewelled crown by way of innovation and chaos, not to mention doe-eyed beauty if you listen hard enough. A testament to the power of paring back, and the band's ability to follow their deeply textured and melodic 'Mountain Moves' album with something completely different, its among their best work to date. At least part of the aesthetic comes down to recording process - in this case the use of a built in laptop mic. Its limitations afford a distorted quality to the more intense tracks, not least those Commander-in-Chief riffs of 'Ye Saddle Babes', and the mangled drum rolls on 'Sympathy For The Baby Boo'. A trippy, rhythm-heavy and rough and ready guitar triumph.
Review: Ryan Kattner fronts a Man Man album for the first time in seven years, and there's a lot going on. Within the first two tracks alone, 'Dreamers' and 'Cloud Nein', we've had a sultry evening's jazz warm up and a rollocking, boozy, piano rock stomper of the early-Cold War Kids variety. Off we go. 'Goat' is a curious epic that has more than a shade of gypsy funeral punk to it, long brass notes somewhere between exoticism and blues, chorus rooted in folk song. Eyes grow more like saucers when 'Unsweet Meat' unfurls its seductive and increasingly frantic groove, erupting into stepping rhythm and closing chant. Elsewhere, 'Inner Iggy' is a jangling rock 'n' roll classic, and 'Swan' is a broken and honest but sweet piano solo. The point being, you won't hear much like this again for a while.
Review: It might just be us, but the third record from Spanish garage guitar wielders Hinds feels like a marked change of path for the rightly acclaimed outfit. It's certainly an altogether less growling and bloody-nosed affair than their first record, and to a lesser extent 2018's 'I Don't Run'. Which isn't to say this development is a negative thing. Of course not everything here sounds like the retro-pop of 'Good Bad Times', which is a colourful, upbeat and synthy introduction to their new work. 'Just Like Kids' is a far more raucous and unconventional stomper. 'Take Me Back' shows the power of pared back arrangements, echoed riffs accentuating the feeling of space. And 'This Moment Forever' is a low slung, downtrodden delight. Altogether sweeter, but still capable of knocking anyone out, if Hinds weren't already close to your heart they should be after this.