Review: The latest Emotional Response release provides something very special indeed, in the form of a new track from under the radar psychedelic rock musician Nick Nicely. Nicely has been making music from the 70s onwards, but his music has recently undergone something of a critical reappraisal, with the likes of Robert Wyatt and Robyn Hitchcock supposedly inspired by his work; "Wrottersley Road" provides the ideal entry into his music, a masterful piece of shoegaze pop filled with fuzzed out guitars and Eastern psychedelic tones. Remixes are provided by Invisible Hands, who provide a minimal 80's inspired electro-pop version, which comes saturated in radiophonic textures, and The Oscillation, who take the track into even more abstract ambient territory than the original, deep into a place where time seems to stand still entirely, drawing its rich textures out into infinity.
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: It's fair to say that when The National release an album the Cincinnati originating supergroup garner the same type of attention that Radiohead once drew. With some futuristic production techniques creeping its way into the band's engineered sound, a new expressionism in the group's sound on "I Am Easy To Find" makes its way into the open, if only subtly. With the opening passages of "You Had Your Soul With You" sounding something like Battles' "Atlas", the music breaks down into a fanfare of traditional yet supercharged folk instrumentations; with drums, spoken word, strings in all their various forms, and the familiar smokey drawl of Matt Berninger's voice sitting snugly on top of subtle drum machines and synthesisers. Super ballads and sincerity.
Review: Be With Records look to continue a consistent run of reissuing important rarities by unearthing this gem from Arthur Russell's discography. This debut from the short-lived New York outfit The Necessaries is a key moment in the city's early 1980's art-rock/new-wave movement. Led by artist and composer Ed Tomney and formed of members of East-Coast tastemakers such as The Modern Lovers & Red Crayola, 'Event Horizon' sounds both of its time and forward thinking - playing with angular garage abrasion, jangling oddball art-rock and pop warmth. Russell's involvement, a year after forming respected disco group Loose Joints and just prior to writing his experimental solo cello work, is testament to his broad versatility and voracious love of music. This is an essential album for both Arthur Russell enthusiasts and collectors and lovers of East Coast new wave.
Review: The 21st Century has been quiet thus far for New Order, with only two full albums to date, and only an out-takes compilation in the last decade. Moreover, 'Music Complete' marks their first album to date without founding bassist Peter Hook, and the return of Gillian Gilbert to the ranks. Yet from this turbulence and inertia they've somehow managed to create a collection of songs that rank as their strongest set since 'Technique' in 1989. VIbrant, upbeat and colourful, yet driven by the same mix of electronic experimentation and effortless pop suss that characterised their '80s heyday, 'Music Complete' is the sound of a timeless and unique force newly revitalised.
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: Introducing the dirty psychedelia rock of Seattle's Night Beats. At a glance you could be forgiven for mistaking them as a new formation of a swinging '60s inspired Arctic Monkeys. But, really, sometimes someone comes along that just does the old fashioned right, and after eight years of releasing a constant stream of music, Daniel Billingsley, the leading force behind Night Beats along with a host of other musicians who made the record possible can be held in a high regard. Let's say something in a spectrum somewhere between Eddy Current Suppression Ring, Tame Impala - Kasabian - and The Black Keys - contemporarily speaking of course.. With more mic techniques strewn across the album than a burgeoning sound student could bare to fathom, it's quality songwriting with subtle production graces to boot - and what more else can you say about a classic, rock, pysch, surf and funk album done well. Rock on man.
Review: Three studio albums in, Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds have managed to distance themselves from their frontman's legacy enough to become a household name in their own right. 'Who Built The Moon' sees Gallagher continue to assert his famed song-writing prowess whilst pushing his band in new directions with bluesy-rock anthems, smoky and atmospheric interludes and the satisfying electronic pop of tracks like 'She Taught Me How To Fly'. It's this willingness to explore and experiment that makes this album his most ambitious to date, and the finest post-Oasis work that either of the Gallaghers have produced.
(Hope) Is Just Another Word With A Hole In It (5:47)
Review: Death metal, sludge to post-rock and synthwave specialists Relapse deliver a third album from the shoegazing Nothing. With artwork to challenge anything conjured up by Aphex Twin or Bjork, Nothing's sound was captured and produced by John Agnello (Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr.) at Dreamland Studio in Woodstock and it's an album that will send you spiralling back towards what the band call "stories of self-loathing, self-destruction, and a general disdain for humanity." Yep, the '90s; time to lose your job, fall out with your friends, get that eviction notice, and listen to this on a bean bag watching Reality Bites on mute. Let it rain.