Review: Singer-songwriting wrapped up in the dusty acid wash denim of Americana doesn't really get more authentic than what Bill Callahan of Silver Spring, Maryland, can deliver. His latest LP, a mass saunter through 20 tracks of smokey spoken word and lightly sung lyrics, falls upon a picturesque bevvy of humble and acoustic instrumentation. Callahan's songs croon with romance, metaphor, and folky yarns that find their place among fingerpicked guitars and light melodies that enjoy a contrast with the darker musings of Callahan's own world of experience and storytelling. It presents the artist with his first studio in some five years, and a sound that is looser than a typical Bill Callahan missive but full of melodrama that centres around life and death. Our pick, Callahan's cover of the Carter Family's "Lonesome Valley".
Review: For all her otherworldly talents, even hardcore fans of Joanna Newsom will likely be relieved to hear that 'Divers' marks a very slight move back from the artistic brink compared to 2010's 'Have One On Me', an exhausting triple-album embarrassment of riches which few ever made it though in one go. Yet there's no hint of compromise on the deliriously thrilling 'Divers', despite its slightly more concise approach - the elegant yet baroque wordplay, ornate and innovative arrangements and Newsom's unique voice are all present and correct - yet more, these emotive and engaging ditties may mark the most accessible thing this iconoclastic and mercurial artist has thus far summoned from the ether.
Review: Californian Jessica Pratt may have been born in the late-eighties, but On Your Own Again, her second album to date, is possessed of a strangely timeless quality, apparently beamed in from some alternate dimension where pastoral atmosphere sashays with ethereal quietude to beguiling effect. Somewhat redolent of the sleight-of-hand of Joni Mitchell and the otherworldly subtleties of Karen Dalton, Pratt's small-hours serenades are mostly comprised of merely her guitar and voice - and recorded all-analogue to four track - yet it's testimony to her talents that these simple ingredients weave a delicate spell over the course of these nine songs that is little short of mesmerising.
Review: Who knows what Ty Segall's channeling to be quite so prodigiously prolific, yet his rate of creativity hammers powerfully on - it only seems a few months since his T. Rex covers record 'Ty Rex', yet here is another blast of raunch and rapture seemingly time0warped in from the very early '70s. Slightly less grandstanding than his breakthrough 'Redeemer', this is a still more garage-driven, raucous and eternally teenage blast of aggression, supercharged by the pedal-driven intensity that marks his aptly-monickered side-project Fuzz yet showing all the songwriting suss by which he's made his name. Petulant yet impressively potent.
Review: It would seem for all the world like Ty Segall is locked in some deathless conflict with Thee Oh Sees man John Swyer to see who can be the most prolific garage rock genius of the here and now, with this self-titled effort - a record as awash with his trademark blend of jam-kicking cheer and stylish chutzpah as ever - the latest case for this cause. But with his band The Muggers taking a more prominent role here, 'Ty Segall' is not just that same old fabulous thing - sure, there are three minutes punk gems, cocky T-Rex ramalama and head-spinning psych-pop, yet one song here hits a mighty ten minutes, hinting that there may be evolutionary pathways open to this modern-day marvel even beyond his ability to rock out like no-one else on earth.