I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It (6:25)
The Sound (4:11)
This Must Be My Dream (4:11)
She Lays Down (3:38)
Review: That title is an eyebrow-raiser, yet still more surprising about this second album are the chances that cocky, controversial 1975 frontman Matt Healey has been prepared to take with the sound that his band rode to enormous success on via their debut. Certainly this album may largely sound custom-designed for radio airplay, yet within this framework Healey has moved from the guitar band swagger of yore to a more emotionally charged reinvention that throws '80s-style hooks, innovative production trickery and his mixture of chutzpah and charm into the fray to create a vibrant and unexpected art-pop melange.
Review: This New York City based duo comprises Che Chen and Rick Brown, largely on guitar and drums respectively, and their inspiringly unclassifiable sound, influenced by Indian music and Mauritanian guitar work alongside the likes of The Velvet Underground and Bert Jansch, weaves a mantric tapestry that's as minimal as it is expansively majestic. These four lengthy excursions whir the listener into a drone-fuelled and raga-infused frenzy that's as likely to appeal to fans of Sun City Girls and Tony Conrad, packing an elemental charge that's as richly invigorating as any summer soundtrack you care to mention.
Review: Ziggy Stardust's yet unheard instrumental album after he returned from a trip on his Gemini spaceship. Not much is known of the shadowy producer (yes, despite the compelling pitch we gave you before!) as yet, but this just adds to the mystery surrounding the release as a whole. From hazy balearica to blunted hip-hop beats, deep country-infused exotica (if we've ever heard such a thing!) to lo-slung psychedelia - it's a captivating journey from start to finish. Will certainly appeal to fans of life in the slow lane, best presented recently by Marcus Worgull and Motor City Drum Ensemble's Vermont project or pretty much anything on London's Claremont 56 imprint. Highly recommended. Tip!
Review: Fiercely righteous, intensely passionate and politically driven, the Atlanta-birthed Algiers are carving out a unique niche for themselves with a brand of gospel-punk that is as experimental as it in incandescent. Noiserock shapes, electro grooves share space with startlingly rich and powerful vocals from Franklin James Fisher. Emotionally charged ditties like 'Blood' and 'Black Eunuch are as influenced by Nina Simone as industrial hip-hop troupe dalek, and the resulting record makes Algiers a powerful argument against anyone who claims that modern music is apolitical and the art of the protest song is dead.
The Cycle/The Spiral: Time To Go Down Slowly (5:41)
Review: Anyone bemoaning the lack of ire-igniting political invective and potent protest records amidst the tension and uncertainty of 2017 should look no further than Algiers, whose follow-up to their blue-touchpaper igniting debut is a thing of floor-shaking intensity and cerebrally stimulating potency. A electrifying and diverse musical palette that extends from post-punk and gritty Gun Club-esque rock 'n' roll to soul, hip hop and even John Carpenter style soundtrack stylings acts as a backdrop to the feverish diatribes against oppression and injustice of vocalist Franklin James Fisher. Defying expectation to stand proud as a genre-elusive and fiercely uncompromising call to arms, 'The Underside Of Power' is a forward-thinking work of maverick malevolence and thrilling intensity.
Review: With a momentum built initially by word-of-mouth alone and further abetted by a surprise Mercury win, Alt-J have built a formidable reputation for themselves as no less than a Radiohead-in-waiting, with a melodious sleight-of-hand allied to a questing and mischievously experimental side. This Is All Yours, despite seeing the band slimming down from a four-piece to a three-piece after the departure of bassist Gwil Sainsbury, sees their fresh and inventive approach showing no signs of abating, with vocal textures and rhythmic invention locking horns with samples and melancholic charm to create an arresting yet nuanced record with its gaze firmly set forward.
Cameron Allen & Graham Bidstrup - "Bikini Atoll" (3:40)
Foot & Mouth - "I Want My Mummy" (4:15)
Review: An intriguing confection put together by two Antipodean crate-diggers with an ear for the eccentricities and heroic creative travails of a generation of yore, 'Midnight Spares' chronicles a predominantly '80s era in which bedroom musicians took a post-punk DIY sensibility to create work that still rings out with originality and ingenuity decades on. Collected from manifold unusual sources, this compendium takes in early synth-pop, menacing lo-fi soundtrack work, a stray emigre member of The Flying Pickets, and even an early foray into recording from the members of legendary Ozpunk scamps God. Lurking somewhere between the spirit of John Peel and the world of outsider art, the resulting assemblage is a must-have for chroniclers of the weird and wonderful.
Hjalmar Larusson & Jonbjorn Gislason - "Jomsvikingarimur - Yta Eigi Feldi Ror." (1:15)
Julianna Barwick - "Forever" (5:30)
Koreless - "Last Remnants" (4:22)
Odesza - "How Did I Get Here" (instrumental) (2:00)
Anois - "A Noise" (4:10)
Samaris - "Gooa Tungl" (4:08)
Olafur Arnalds - "RGB" (4:36)
Rival Consoles - "Pre" (5:14)
Jai Paul - "Jasmine" (demo) (4:11)
Four Tet - "Lion" (Jamie Xx remix) (6:52)
James Blake - "Our Love Comes Back" (3:39)
Spooky Black - "Pull" (4:13)
Colin Stetson & Sarah Neufeld - "And Still They Move" (2:55)
Olafur Arnalds - "Say My Name" (feat Arnor Dan) (5:38)
Kiasmos - "Orgoned" (5:57)
Olafur Arnalds - "Kinesthesia" (1:44)
Hjaltalin - "Ethereal" (6:32)
David Tennant - "Undone" (3:51)
Review: Icelandic classical, experimental and soundtrack composer Olafur Arnalds steps away from the loops and Broadchurch OSTs to conjure yet another sublime LNT saga. Carefully balancing between contemporary odysseys ("Jomsvikingarimur"), dense futuristic electronic weaves ("Last Remnants"), fuzzy 22nd century pop ("A Noise") sludgy cosmic funk ("Jasmine") and introspective soul ("Our Love Comes Back"), Olafur blows wave after woozy wave of soft sonic conjurations in a way that's broad, detailed and cleverly considered. Good night.
Review: Arte Moderno was a short-lived outfit from the Canary Islands who scored an underground dancefloor hit in 1982 with the spaced-out punk-funk/new wave/dub disco grooves of "Ninette En New York" before all but disappearing. Here, we finally get a chance to hear what else they were up to, as Musica Cabeza - the debut album they recorded but then shelved in 1982, finally gets a release. It's a quietly impressive set, all told, offering up tracks that doff a cap to the likes of Talking Heads, Woo, Konk and Bauhaus, while also offering a fresh take on electric/electronic post-punk fusion. Had it been released when it was recorded there's no doubt it would have become an underground classic; now that it's finally seen the light of day, we can confirm it's every bit as good as we'd hoped for.
Review: The Wigan-birthed sage Richard Ashcroft has taken his fair share of flak over the years for his messianic tendencies, unflinchingly epic songwriting style and fervent self-belief, yet when it's in the service of albums like 'These People', it seems more than a little churlish to object to any of these attributes. Displaying an electronic freshness that finely complements the string-swathed widescreen sweep for which he's become known, these impassioned ditties are rarely notable for their subtlety, yet Ashcroft's rich baritone and raw charisma serve to elevate them to new plateaus of emotion and intensity. Write this fella off at your peril.
Review: Celebrating 50 years of one of the most definitive fusion records ever made, Now Again present the most fitting remaster Axelrod's critically acclaimed debut album Song Of Innocence has ever had. An immense piece of work that pays homage to William Blake and brought together nodes and notions of rock, classical, funk, psychedelic and boogaloo, this reissue comes straight from the original masters with engineering and consultation from Axelrod's production partner H B Barnum, original keyboardist Don Randi, his widow Terri and producer T-Ray. Still as complex and cosmic and sounding better than ever.
Review: Julien Baker's debut 'Sprained Ankle' garnered critical acclaim on its release last year for its impressive writing. Considering Baker's age, at only 22 years old she's already creating worlds of stunning dream-pop with a craftsmanship that could stir envy in more experienced songwriters. 'Turn Out The Lights' showcases her talent even further, exploring a melancholy world against a backdrop of sparse echoing instrumentation. The moments of subtle intensity are striking, such as the album's cinematic opening 'Over', whose stirring strings and sparse piano pour seamlessly into the next track 'Appointments. Baker's voice is controlled and her harmonies are arresting, and she uses expansive vocal layering to build intensity, pulling back just before it overbears the listener. This impressive second milestone in Baker's work is heartfelt, cathartic and more than impressive.
Review: Lewis' gentle and bewitching L'Amour, which came complete with a bizarre backstory involving the disappearance of the blonde-haired would-be-matinee-idol on its sleeve, was one of the surprise delights of the year. Yet the release of the hitherto unsuspected follow-up Romantic Times, which was originally recorded in 1985, only adds to the mystique surrounding this off-kilter auteur. The abstract croon and expressionistic mood may remain, yet the pastel shades and beachside calm of his earlier effort are gone, replaced by brooding atmosphere and vocals that betray a troubled soul beneath the luxurious veneer. Residing somewhere between lounge lizard thrills and outsider art chills, Romantic Times is a portrait of a true one-off.
Review: Don't believe everything you read - the fifth Bat For Lashes album confirms this girl (or woman) found herself musically and thematically some time ago, freeing up creative energy to explore new approaches to deliver her often mournful, always heartfelt songs inspired by personal crises and private longings. On this outing there's more than a hint of 1980s pop evident in the mix. Shades of Prince ("Feel For You"), Madonna ("So Good"), Bowie's Berlin days and electro-era Gary Numan (the stunning, infectious instrumental "Vampires") cast the record in a nostalgia that suits the sense of yearning that always seems to pervade Natasha Khan's work. Simply name-checking reference points is lazy and unfair, though. This is an incredible collection of tracks moulded in the artist's own image - bold, beautiful and instantly captivating. Then again, it would be surprising if anyone had expected anything less.
Review: As Zach Condon prepares to embark on a mass trans-atlantic tour in support of this Gallipoli LP as Beirut, all the fanfare of his horns, bells and whistling croons are once again to be enjoyed in full for a fifth time. Debuting back in 2006 with Gulag Orkestar, Gallipoli adds to the band's stream of albums these past 15 years and presents the singer-songwriter's second appearance on London's great 4AD. Inspired by a chance encounter with a brass band procession on the fated Turkish peninsula which reminded him of the Italian films from his childhood, he named the album and title track after small, coastal town in Apulia, southern Italy. These influences can be heard across Gallipoli alongside the sweet screams of synths and chimes that adorn the others, to spates of bluesy tropicana and the sweet, melancholic and trumpeting tones the band are most cherished for.
Review: Stephen Wilkinson has now made some seven albums under the auspices of Bibio, all the while notably avoiding any kind of genre restrictions in his pursuit of a unique and affecting style that somehow embraces glacial ambience, folk, jazz, reggae and '70s rock along its path. 'A Mineral Love', meanwhile, takes a nature-inclined theme and uses it to create a delicate and seductive record that is as engaging as it is stylistically elusive. At all times though, a flair for melody and texture prevails throughout these ditties, ultimately creating something not unlike an imaginary John Martyn as produced by Four Tet in 1982 - and as strange and beguiling as that sounds.
Review: There's plenty of anticipation around Big Thief's third record U.F.O.F., and we can say with confidence that it delivers on every front. A solid expansion of their last record, Capacity, U.F.O.F. for the most part goes deeper into diverse sonic territories that's emotionally raw and rich, calling to mind Elliott Smith, Joni Mitchell and various other accomplished singer songwriters especially in songs like "Contact" and "Cattails". Elsewhere, "Strange" and "Orange" provide a backing that seems more upbeat on the surface, yet the varied vocal technique of Adrianne Lenker, ranging from a whisper to a vulnerable bellow keeps us firmly captivated. The album really shines through when it reaches for slightly louder soundscapes, best heard on "Terminal Paradise" and "Jenni" (with the latter reminding us of "Washer" by Slint). All in all, U.F.O.F. will be a record that entrances you with its subtle yet haunting charm.
Review: It's not hard to understand why people so often ignore album release blurb. Sales-y, hyperbolic, and on more than the odd occasion rather poorly written, it's hardly required reading in order to get the most out of the record. That is unless it's Big Thief's 'Two Hands', a collection of music that genuinely makes more sense when you know the back story. For one thing this long form offering is arriving just months after its predecessor, which is always either the sign of a band that don't need big ideas to facilitate rapid-fire output, or a band that have so many big ideas they literally can't stop the momentum. This is a case of the latter. Timescale aside, "Two Hands" genuinely feels as though it was born in the Badlands, epic songs that invoke endless vistas across barren settings in a way that makes you feel as small as you actually are in a global context. Like cosying up in a log cabin away from the chilly endless dark of a desert night.
Review: This is a reissue of Bikini Kill's second EP, "Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah". Recorded in 1992 with Tim Green (Nation Of Ulysses) at The Embassyia group-house in Washington, DC, it was the first Bikini Kill release to feature the band's song, "Rebel Girl." Originally a split EP with the Brighton, UK-based band, Huggy Bear, the B-side now features seven previously unreleased Bikini Kill songs drawn from era-appropriate live shows and practice tapes. The artwork has also been updated to include archival photos and liner notes from the Bratmobile's Erin Smith, Comet Gain's David Feck, and the members of Bikini Kill.
Bikini Kill was a feminist punk band based in Olympia, WA and Washington, DC, forming in 1990 and breaking up in 1997. Kathleen Hanna sang, Tobi Vail played drums, Billy Karren (aka Billy Boredom) played guitar and Kathi Wilcox played bass. Bikini Kill is credited with instigating the Riot Grrrl movement in the early '90s via their political lyrics, zines, and confrontational live performances. This EP is the second release in a larger campaign to reissue the complete Bikini Kill catalog on vinyl and CD.
Review: Icelandic music producer Bjork, who requires absolutely no introduction given her massive contribution to electronic pop music over the last twenty years, finally returns with her new album Vulnicura on One Little Indian Records. Although the LP represents her breakup with Matthew Barney, there are vivid rays of light nested among the more dreary-eyed vocals and melodies. As per usual with her work, there is a distinctive personal touch to her songs. This is most vividly characterised by the droning style of her singing, a sort of juxtaposition when combined to the music below it. Expect an intricate blend of sci-fi electronics, break-ridden power beats and of course, plenty of hard ambience. Bjork's ninth studio album is another winner. This deluxe edition comes with a download code!
Review: It's been a solid five years since the epic sounds of America's best plugged-in rock duo last electrified our ears. And be it a reference to the Rolling Stones or even Scorsese, the album turns it up from the start with "Shine A Little Light". Big time rhodes and bluesy folk mentalities are then wrapped up in a low-slung ballad that is "Walk Across The Water". Some fans may still be yearning for the raw energy that catapulted the duo into the limelight with Magic Potion, however high voltage sounds can still be found on tracks like "Under The Gun" and "Lo/Hi" - with gospel elements in this case edging to the fore. Overall there's a slight dance element protruding from this LP in comparison to previous records, begging the question: Can you dig it!
Review: The best thing since the Klaxons or Bloc Party have arrived. black midi! The student art rock band are bringing a new youthful energy and slight of malice back to the arena of post-indie inspired alternative guitar and synth music. They make this overtly known from the start with the supercharged opener that is "953", introducing an album that is said to have laid down eight of the record's nine tracks in just five days. Drums are fast and skittering, rhythms are dancey and guitars keep it Madchester jangley. "Speedway" (is that a wry Prodigy reference?) is among the album's highlights alongside the punk-funky "bmbmbm" and the short but trippy "Years Ago". With a 100 per cent backing by UK music institution Rough Trade: meet this generation's newest sensation.
Review: When it comes to plugging in mega stacks of amplified prog-rock, Vancouver-area band Black Mountain deliver a retro-futuristic sound that's as large as any Godzilla soundtrack. With Destroyer presenting a fifth LP on Bloomington label Jagjaguwar, Black Mountain go someway in delivering a bold cross reference of only the best and most legendary points of 60s, 70s and 90s rock n roll regalia. With keys and piano mixed with guitars, distortion and vocoders giving the band a futuristic, krautrock (Deutsche elektronik musik) edge, British psychedelic and raw but atmospheric arrangements give the band their own undeniable identity. With songs passing the bottle from slow dancing rock, flashy hair metal, to synthy guitars and cosmic arpeggios, the best metal of today is still way up there, on Black Mountain.
Review: The evolution of Justin Vernon from the broken-hearted, falsetto-voiced troubadour who emerged from his cabin to deliver his debut eight years ago to the here and now may seem downright implausible, yet the facts of the matter are this - '22, A Million' is proof positive that he is one of the most multi-faceted and enigmatic and inscrutable artists we have at our disposal, still capable of delivering heart-rending beauty in song form yet also of marrying it to wilful abstraction in a way that not only offers emotional resonance yet reflects and refracts its surrounding era to offer succour and salvation. Sing it from the rooftops, this is little short of a complicated modern masterpiece.
Review: A year on from the untimely demise of arguably the most influential British musician of the last fifty years, and on the eve of what would have been his seventieth birthday, here we have the opportunity to view his whole jaw-dropping career across the course of two slabs of wax. From the cosmic dread of 'Space Oddity' all the way to the reflective melancholy of 'I Can't Give Everything Away', it's a magnificent testimony to a restless muse that never stopped moving into unchartered territory in search of new adventure. These songs will outlive us all.
Review: Surely not even the most ardent Bowie fan saw any of this coming. Yet to offset the justified grief and mourning at the most otherworldly and mercurial of all musical icons departing our realm, he's left us with one of his greatest albums to date and certainly his best in a full quarter century - one that returns him spiritually to the dizzying collision of bracing experimentation and melodious drama that typified the so-called Berlin trilogy of the '70s yet transplants that ambience to a new more complicated age. Jazzy inflections, electronic filigree and stark soundscapes collide elegantly amidst that stentorian voice, and whether or not Bowie put this together as a farewell, he couldn't have done it better if he'd tried. We'll truly never see his like again, alas.
Young Person's Guide To The Orchestra, Op 34 (17:12)
Review: This recording of the Philadelphia Orchestra performing Sergei Prokofiev's 1936 story and orchestral score Peter and the Wolf was recorded in 1977 and was originally released in 1978. The role of the narrator on the recording was initially offered to both Peter Ustinov and Alec Guinness who both turned it down, before David Bowie agreed to take on the role, supposedly as a Christmas present to his son. On the B-side is another equally as charming piece of recent classical history, Benjamin Britten's Young Person's Guide To The Orchestra as narrated by Hugh Downs.
Review: This deliberately mysterious outfit hailed from Italy, and this, the first of two previously ultra-rare and highly collectible LPs, is no less than a psychedelic classic, chock full of wild keyboards, fuzz guitar rampage, blissed-out trance states and fearful avant-garde trickery. It's been ascertained that Braen's Machine was the work of heralded soundtrack composer Perio Ulimani, as well as Morricone collaborator Allesandro Allesandroni, and this would make perfect sense, as "Underground" is very much in the metier of Italian soundtrack legends Goblin, and bound to appeal to fans of the widescreen psych sweep of Aphrodite's Child. Bellisima.
Review: Avant-garde composer and guitarist Glenn Branca appears on the archival-focused Superior Viaduct, a label based out of San Francisco that trawls deep to release rare recordings from the likes of Devo, Talking Heads and Ramones affiliate Craig Leon, and San Franciscan punk band The Avengers. This release from Branca, whose label Neutral Records released the first few tracks by Sonic Youth, provided Superior Viaduct with three jangly guitar tracks of his own, spread across two discs. "Lesson No 1 For Electric Guitar" has the slightest of Celtic touches (and Cagean titles) in a progressive and emotionally strummed guitar-lead composition, while "Dissonance" almost sounds like a cheeky reinterpretation of the Batman theme. It's "Bad Smells", though, that will strike a familiar chord with fans of Silent Servant to the aforementioned Sonic Youth. Rock on.
Like Describing Colors To A Blind Man On Acid (3:01)
Lunar Surf Graveyard (3:34)
The Sun Ship (3:57)
Review: No longer simply the nearly-man egomaniac chronicled in the movie Dig, Anton Newcombe is now viewed with the kind of reverence he probably always felt he deserved, a modern master of classic psychedelia with a glint in his eye, having carved out a trademark sound that transcends retro trappings by its constantly questing and adventurous nature. The Spacemen 3-referencing sleeve of this new effort - his third work in the last two years and 15th BJM album in total - somewhat belies a sound that could come from no other maverick, its widescreen sweep locking horns with synapse-shredding experimentation.
Review: 1981's An Eye For An Eye is, to this day, the only LP produced by Byrne & Barnes together, and it's as playful and fresh as the first day it came out. While it's a little more on the synth side of things, it reminds us of other blue-eyed soul artists such as Ned Doheny, and throughout its eleven tunes, there's plenty of romance, mystique and soul-ridden funk. Think of it as the prototypical bridge between a 70's jazz-funk LP and the beginning of pop music as we know it today. Blue-eyed soul at its finest!
Review: 'American Utopia' is the first solo record in 14 years from iconic polymath David Byrne. The album comes as part of a larger project entitled 'Reasons To Be Cheerful' - a series of works that strives to antidote pervasive social and political anxieties. In keeping with this, 'American Utopia' questions realities of contemporary culture with playful writing that shifts perspectives and favours optimism over despairing pessimism. Being the product of working with 25 collaborators, 'American Utopia' feels like something of a sonic patchwork, but doesn't ever feel sprawling, neatly tied together by Byrne's inimitable sense of melody and harmony. 'American Utopia' doesn't offer any transcendental conclusions on how to save the world, but advocates positive and unusual ways of looking at the world around us, and with a career underpinned by a singular and indescribable quirkiness, Byrne is the ideal candidate the job.
Review: Originally released in 1979, Francesco Cabiati's Mirage is a classic slice of holy grail electronic prog that has been searched for and fawned over for years by avid collectors. Now Galaxy have scored the record as their opening gambit, which should satisfy more than a few second hand vigilantes out there. It's a bombastic offering rich in Moog lines and dramatic themes, much like all the great instrumental synth offerings of the era. From the faithful treatment of the cover and labels to the quality of the remastering, it's everything a classic reissue of a hidden gem should be.
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".
(Joe Gets Kicked Out Of School For Using) Drugs With Friends (But Says This Isn't A Problem) (5:35)
Not What I Needed (4:32)
Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales (6:10)
1937 State Park (4:00)
Unforgiving Girl (She's Not An) (5:16)
Cosmic Hero (8:31)
The Ballad Of The Costa Concordia (11:34)
Connect The Dots (The Saga Of Frank Sinatra) (5:58)
Joe Goes To School (1:11)
Review: Will Toledo has quickly made his presence felt as a witty, playful yet poignant chronicler of the disenfranchised, and this first full-lengther for Matador - following the earlier re-released 'Teens Of Style' - displays a rare ability to combine indelible songwriting chops with ornery attitude and a pleasing sense of the ridiculousness of one's youth. This is a fitting label for him to be on, given the influence that the gentle melancholia of Yo La Tengo and the salty guitar-rock sarcasm of Pavement have clearly had on this oeuvre, yet 'Teens Of Denial' remains evidence of a brand new and engaging talent in full flight.
Review: Some four years after Swims brought the work of Dan Snaith to the attention of a whole new audience, the London-based Canadian artist returns with a sixth Caribou album entitled Our Love. Staunch followers of Caribou will know that Snaith tends to adopt different sonic approaches with every long player (compare the psychedelia of Up In Flames with the more spaced out Andorra) but this latest album feels like a natural development of the club influenced sounds of Swims. City Slang call it Snaith's most soulful set yet, and that's certainly helped by the presence of compatriot Jessy Lanza, and like all Caribou albums there is something new that appeals with every listen.
Review: It seems everyone has their own story when it comes to Cat Power; from first albums purchased, to seeing her perform live on stage with a broken ankle, all the while never ceasing to maintain her blissful air of elegance and withdrawn charisma. Chan Marshall's latest album, six years from her last, provides her debut on Domino, bringing with it three defining aspects, most notably a collaboration with Lana Del Rey on title track "Woman". A Rihanna cover version of "Stay" also makes an appearance mid-way through while tinges of auto-tune inside "Horizon" only add to her continuous extension of folky, blues & roots Americana.
Review: If this is the first time you've stumbled upon Chastity Belt we implore you to look back on their previous three albums. That should confirm how much the band have grown, although in this case rather than reaching for higher heights the development is like the roots of a tree. Here they're pushing deeper, and leaving the listener more nourished than any previous encounter. Poor analogies aside, dark undertones marry a sense of strange tranquility. The sort of feeling you get after suffering great loss and finally having a moment to reflect without that freight train of grief. There's sadness, or at least a subtle mood of lamentation to "Elena", but it also packs love at first sight melodies. "Effort" builds a tension from beneath, as though that aforementioned great oak were trying to burst from the earth itself. Alternative, detailed rock? Perhaps, but we prefer to simply say "stunning".
Review: Sporting something of an appearance that looks like it could have come out of Harmony Korine's Gummo, Cherry Glazerr reappear once again on their homely label Secretly Canadian. There's a mass of pop culture appeal to band, and considering they surfaced early on [Adult Swim] it's no surprise maybe to see everything from mid-western emo to punk motifs alongside more cosmo R&B beats. It's an album that wears its hair up or down, experiencing softer and more introverted moments to thrash guitars and punk stances. With angst and distortion never far from earshot, the album's flex is acoustic and electronic with the imaginations of talented kids dosed up on MTV Americana coming to the fore.
Review: The last ten years have seen no shortage of bands with their delay pedals set to stun intent on capturing an aura of dreamlike radiance. Yet Texas 'pop-noir' troupe Cigarettes After Sex are no ordinary shoegazers, for a variety of reasons - frontman Greg Gonzalez' androgynous and dulcet tones may be part of the appeal, yet moreover it's the quality of the songwriting here, which never falls prey to the style-over-substance traps of their peers. Indeed, this debut is more than enough to justify the considerable hype around this outfit, being a collection of ditties as sultry as they are atmopsheric.
Blood & Rockets: Movement I, Saga Of Jack Parsons/Movement II, Too The Moon (6:28)
South Of Reality (3:28)
Easily Charmed By Fools (5:09)
Amethyst Realm (7:49)
Toady Man's Houe (3:13)
Cricket Chronicles Revisited: Part I, Ask Your Doctor/Part II, Psyde Effects (6:25)
Like Fleas (3:25)
Review: Les Claypool and Sean Lennon as you may suspect are The Claypool Lennon Delirium; the former being slap bass aficionado of the band Primus, and the latter of course the son of Beatle, John Lennon (& Yoko Ono). It presents the pair's second LP after a handful of EPs for ATO Records (Think Alabama Shakes, Ben Kweller, and Kaiser Chiefs) and it's a '70s futuristic embrace of psychedelic rock and funk cosmosis. Across nine virtually instrumental tracks - if there are vocals they're sung in a freakish "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" tone which sounds best on "South Of Reality". It's very much an album of hallucinogen, experimental, preamped and acoustic skill, with Pink Floyd and BBC Radiophonic Workshop semantics abound! A good one for that next trip, space bugs, grand canyons, interzone, and all.
Review: This September 21st, Leonard Cohen hit 80 years of age, and what better way to enter his ninth decade on earth than with another reliably dark and insightful series of grave reflections on the human condition. And indeed, with his stark ruminations backed with skill and taste by arrangements from erstwhile Madonna collaborator Patrick Leonard, he arguably hasn't sounded better in around half that time. Popular Problems is as witty, as wry, and as eternally affecting as we've come to expect from this troubadour. Indeed, while Cohen continues to make records as fine as this one, balancing out taste and refinement with gravitas and humour, we'll be forced to agree with his assertion herein: 'The party's over, but I've landed on my feet'.
Review: Previously spotted changing hands for over L300, the mysterious Argentinian band's one and only album from 1973 gets a long-awaited reissue and the moment you put the needle on it, you can hear why it's been in such demand. A frenetic, fiery instrumental saga that brings Latin, Afrobeat and funk together in one thick, spicy brew that ranges from poignant introversion ("Evenescente") to pure duelling guitar theatre ("Colision") Not dissimilar to acts such Azymuth, this really is a remarkable piece of work. Significant props to Pharaway Sounds for the excavation.
Review: Thirty years plus from the moment they left their goth fleapit origins to become full-fledged leather-trousered rock gods. there remains something strangely ageless about The Cult. Built since time immemorial on the chemistry between shamanic vocalist Ian Astbury and legs-splayed axeman Billy Duffy, there remains a spark and prowess to the band's sound that renders them way more than mere nostalgia act or cliche-perpetrators. Benefitting from a surprising taste and understatement of arrangement closer to Nick Cave than Velvet Revolver, even whilst dependent on bluesy hollering and Marshall stack deliverance as ever, 'Hidden City' is a thoughtful yet engagingly vibrant collection that displays plenty of life in these fine old hounds yet.
Review: Back in 2011, Nicolas Jaar joined forces with fellow Clown & Sunset contributor Dave Harrington for the Darkside EP, an impressive trio of untitled tracks that pitted the formers scratchy, near-paranoid production style against the latter's penchant for lo-fi indie-rock inspired fuzziness. Here, the duo dusts down the Darkside alias once more for a first collaborative album. Predictably, it's an impressive set, offering a collection of downtempo tracks that shuffle between crackly, out-there atmospherics ("Sitra", reminiscent of much of Jaar's Space is Only Noise album), echo-laden alt-rock experimentalism ("Heart") and heart-aching fragility (the James Blake-ish "Greek Light").
Review: The legendary Dead Can Dance return with their first studio album in six years! Coming from a school of Australian music pioneers that include Severed Heads and Essendon Airport among their class, this latest missive sees the duo maintain their psychedelic, exotic and mystic sound, with hints of witchcraft and ritualisms eternally abound. The album pays homage to Dionysus, Greek God of wine, fertility and religious ecstasy, and naturally the album oozes these qualities itself. Across the LP Brendan Perry plys his hand to a mass of instruments heard as otherworldly to the west, with a specific set stemming from the Balkans with an ensemble use of zournas, gadulkas and gaidas. Meanwhile Lisa Gerrad's exquisite voice remains as haunting as it ever was, be up front in the mix or lurking amongst the album's lush atmospheres. The Dead Can Still Dance.
Review: Swedish duo Death and Vanilla, who apparently take their name from a Nick Cave song, are purveyors of a very particular kind of psychedelia, one that takes its cues from the more exotic, esoteric and experimental strains whose lineage began with United States Of America and Silver Apples and later found powerful adherents in Broadcast. As rich in celestial arrangement and atmosphere as it is in melody and instrumentation, 'To Where The Wild Things Are' is possessed of a sepia-tinted melancholy and a narcotic charm. A better display of sonic super-8 B-movie radiance would be hard to find in 2015.
Review: Are you a dreamer? Swedish band Death & Vanilla ask across eight contemporary takes on German Krautrock, French Ye-ye pop and 60s psychedelic. Vocals are breezy, their moog synths fat, with guitars drenched in reverb and delay. At times the band's sound aligns with other kindred groups like Goldfrapp, Portishead or even Bjork (with "Vespertine") through their subtle take on downbeat, alternative '90s pop and this is heard most in "Let's Never Leave Here". "Are You A Dreamer?" delivers the Malmo trio a fifth studio LP following last year's conceptual soundtrack for stage and screen entitled "A Score For Roman Polanski's The Tenant", and this time around, our highlights include the spacey western riffs of "Eye Bath" and the ever-so dreamy "The Hum". Esoteric modern pop for sure.
Review: Despite a number of significant personnel changes since the release of their previous album (the departure of founder member Chris Walla being the biggest), Death Cab For Cutie still seems to be in rude health. Now two decades into their ongoing career, the American band is still capable of producing glistening indie-pop brilliance, heart-aching torch songs and anthem-like festival sing-alongs. There's plenty of goodness to be found, then, on ninth studio album Thank You For Today, a set bristling with classic Death Cab For Cutie moments - not least the tactile bliss of "When We Drive", boisterous "Gold Rush" and chiming "You Moved Away".
Review: Jean Pierre Decerf's records have been sampled by top talent in the game (Wu-Tang Clan's RZA) and have also been massively inspirational to the likes of indie talent such as Air. However, the Parisian has always been something of a recluse and it's only now that his best moments have been collected into a definitive compilation by Born Bad Records. As both the cover and title suggest, this stuff is pure psychedelia from start to finish and tracks like "Like Flight" are simply stunning, where freaky guitar riffs meet with twisted synth patterns, funky percussion swings and seductive vocals. Not to exaggerate or anything but this LP might well be the best thing that's landed here at Juno HQ this week and you'd be silly not to pick it up. Essential electronic and discofied innovations.