Review: Smokey, heavy, whiskey-soaked and dramatic, Manchester's The Underground Youth provide us with a new album following the two they dropped in 2017. There's something incredibly UK about the band and their sound, which comes with a touch of Madchester about them too for good measure. Album opener "Sins" is about as drastic as anything Nick Cave could come up with, while there's echoes of Joy Division in Craig Dyer's voice throughout, while simultaneously there's something undeniably post-punk about the band's radical production. Edgy, raw and stone-faced yet full of flavour and deep seated in the malaise of melancholic shoegaze, this album title sets it all up really: Montage Images Of Lust & Fear.
Review: The New Zealand-born, Portland-based Ruban Nielson initially made a name for himself by marrying psych rock and lo-fi styles in a messy, Beefheartian manner, with jam-band wig-outs vying for attention with expressive songcraft. On 'Multi Love', however, he's both reined in the excesses of yore and sharpened up his songwriting, and the result is a veritable tour de force. Pop-tinged melody and emotional candour make for impressive bedfellows on these nine expansive and inventive ditties, which take as much inspiration from Prince or Janelle Monae as they do The Grateful Dead or Zappa. 'Multi Love' marks the place where Nielson genuinely makes his presence felt as a modern-day psychedelic visionary.
Review: The Utopia Strong might be the most unlikely combination of musical elements imaginable. Coil's Michael J. York, Kavus Torabi of Gong note, the vocals of Miranda Sex Garden's Katharine Blake (albeit rendered almost unrecognisable), a modular synth and, snooker god Steve Davis. But those who know the cue-wielding deity's reputation as a techno, soul, funk, jazz and progressive rock aficionado will understand this one has been a long time coming. So, what do the results sound like? Well, a mixed bag, but all otherworldly and surreal. "Konta Chorus" marries the whirring of machine loops with trippy guitar reverberations, timeless string arpeggios and hypnotic wind sections. "Brainsurgeons 3", running close to 11-minutes, is an epic space-age marriage of techno and sci-fi. Meanwhile, the appropriately named "Moonchild" closes the album out on lengthy refrains of disharmony and subtle, nymph-ish lyrical whispers. A trip and a half.