Review: The latest essential missive on San Francisco-based Cumbia label Discos Mas comes from a previously unheard artist: confirmed vintage drum machine and fuzzy psych-guitar lover Pancrudo. The producer's vinyl debut, which has been pressed in limited numbers on gorgeous marbled vinyl, includes two impressively retro-futurist workouts. Check first languid and decidedly psychedelic A-side "Pulsatron", a hip-hop tempo kaleidoscopic dream that sounds like Harry Nillson after a few too many swigs of liquid acid and a fistful of hallucinatory chili peppers. Pancrudo returns to his cumbia roots on flipside "Maestro Del Kiosco", which wraps wonderfully fuzzy, boogaloo-era guitars round a shuffling rhythm track.
Phantom Band/Linear Johnson & The Protons - "Rush Rush"
Drums Off Chaos - "Drums Off Chaos"
Review: The sadly departed Jaki Liebezeit was the kind of drummer whose influence will be continually recognised over the decades to come. Best known for his work in Can, there are also many more sides to this singular sticksman, and Emotional Rescue has chosen to shine a light on his post-Can period living in Stollwerck. On the A side of this 7" curio is the sound of Phantom Band with Linear Johnson & The Protons. "Rush Rush" has a spiky new wave bent to it, but still Liebezeit's drumming stands out. The B side "Drums Off Chaos" need little explanation - it's the sound of one of the all-time drumming greats letting rip in a ferocious blast of percussive abandon.
Review: The latest dusted down archival dig from Emotional Rescue is by Politrio, a short-lived new wave / post punk band from Italy who released one album in the mid 80s. The focus of this release is their cover of Talking Heads' "Psycho Killer," which originally appeared on the Amnesty International P.E.A.C.E Benefit Compilation in 1987. It's a wild take full of rampant guitar wailing and limber slap bass that teeters towards the 80s funk rock of Faith No More et al, and that's no bad thing at all. On the B side of this 7" Double Wave gets busy in the edit, offering up a stripped back version for the spinners.
Review: Panda Bear aka Noah Lennox has been one of the more prolific solo artists to come out of the Animal Collective fold. Buoys presents a second album on UK independent Domino and his sixth solo album overall offers something of a new direction. Made in co-production with Rusty Santos (from The Present) the pair have delivered a work routed in hip hop and beat-making inspirations taking Panda Bear's music into a dubby and bass music realm. At times reminiscent of Ed Banger & Mr. Oizo quirkiness, alongside a trademark guitar sound and vocals drenched in reverb, the dub culture influence mixed in with the folk, and pop abnormalities, prove there's a deep layer of experimentation to Panda Bear's music yet.
Review: Having displayed a somewhat wayward and scattershot approach of late, 'Human Performance' is where Parquet Courts go right back to hitting the bullseye in extremis, using their infectious songcraft and rough-hewn charm on this collection of skewed and anthemic ditties to deliver a cocktail of equal parts mischief and malice, pop melody and DIY punk. Wry lyrical insights, incisive guitar hooks and omnipresent joie-de-vivre coalesce to provide further evidence that this Brooklyn outfit - beyond being a Pavement for millennials - are currently about as close as one can get to a new generation of indie-rock royalty.
Review: Half journeyman, half David Lynch bar scene, all twisted crooner-dom, and at least a little tongue in cheek, Mike Patton & Jean Claude Vannier are aiming straight for the alternatives with this 12-strong collection of bizarre ballads and obscure odes that will appeal to rarer tastebuds. There's the spoken word and strummed guitars guiding us through the various parts of "A Schoolgirl's Day". The Sinatra-does-sarcasm of closer "Pink & Bleue", and the way "Hungry Ghost" aurally recalls "Everybody Knows" by Leonard Cohen. Truly unique stuff, despite its debt of gratitude to troubadour totems, counterculture rock and The Rat Pack, it's as rooted in the 21st Century as anything you'll hear today. The production process involved two creators in two different parts of the world, Patton and band in L.A., Vannier with a full orchestra in Vienna. Not that you can tell considering how complete the record feels.
Review: Arriving some twenty years after the last Pink Floyd album proper, 1994's The Division Bell, this new offering - which stands to be their last ever - apparently functions as both a swansong for their enormously influential outfit and a tribute to late keyboard player Rick Wright. Constructed partly from demos for the aforementioned album, as well as recordings from as far back as 1968, it somehow manages to showcase the closest the band has come to the classic Floydian sound in decades. Indeed, replete with Gilmour's soaring leads and ambient dreamscapes, it frequently recalls the heralded days of 'Wish You Were Here' amidst an atmosphere of beatific melancholy. If this is the moment that the rock giants choose to bow out, their legions of fans can rest assured they're doing so with both grace and style.
Review: Dutch indie four piece spearheaded by its singer-songwriter Pip Blom realise their debut album, Boat. Delivered by a label associated with artists like Mattiel and Amber Arcades, Plip Blom see themselves in good company to deliver a full length LP following a run of 7" & 10" singles. The album features previously heard numbers like "Daddy Issues", a riffing example of the band's quick, almost surf rock style, with other semi-ironic titles like "Bedhead" offering something sentimental. With a host of other raucous and heavy distorted numbers too, Pip Blom's music falls somewhere between The Strokes, Hole and the best of alternative but radio friendly punk and garage rock.
Review: When the end days come and it's finally time to write the complete story of American rock 'n' roll, surely Pixies will get their own chapter. Legends of the grunge world, often known for a stylistic simplicity (quiet-LOUD anyone?) but unafraid to go out on a psychedelic limb when the moment suits, they've towered above the majority of acts for 28 years and, as "Beneath The Eyrie" proves, still have plenty to say. "In The Arms of Mrs Mark Of Cain" starts proceedings on a gothic-Western hybrid tip, setting things up perfectly for any song named "Graveyard Hill". Realistically when that track does arrive it switches the mood with a nod to the band's archetypal punk-infused sound, and that's precisely the point. Apparently betting the farm on this one, it's got everything from psych-folk to Tim Burton-ish ghoulish wit, making for the band's finest hour since their 2004 reformation.
Review: Although an outstanding pop artist, Hannah Rodger's music as Pixx sits well and truly in the alt-pop realm. Since surfacing in 2015 with Fall In - that was later followed up by her 2017 debut album Age Of Anxiety - she's continues her relationship with 4AD once more thanks to Small Mercies. This second LP sees the English artist collide future electronic pop and R&B genres with the grungy guitars and synth rock styles of yesteryear. And for this record, Pixx assumes a different persona than before, her label says, to introspectively examine the damage done by religion, gender-based power hierarchies and stereotypes. Our picks, "Disgrace" and the oh-so-grungey "Mary Magdalene".
Review: Polaroid were an Italian post-punk/new wave band, formed in Turin in 1981. The original lineup of the band consisted of Marcello Zavatto (voice, guitar), Massimo Vagnarelli (bass, drum-machine), Evandro Fornasier (guitar), Claudio Vagnarelli (synthersizer) and Marco Farano (Drums). Polaroid made their debut with the cassette 6-track EP 'Senza Respiro', self-released in 1984. Influenced by Bauhaus, Joy Division, The Cure, Pere Ubu as well as Chic and Talking Heads. The music was dark and cold, but also melodic especially with regards to guitars and voices. At the end of 1984 the band added vocalist Michele Cantoblundo while drummer Marco left and was replaced by a Roland TR-909. With Michele began a period of very dark and poetic music, influenced also by bands like Red Lorry Yellow Lorry and The Sisters of Mercy. The band peacefully broke-up in 1987. This vinyl re-issue of 'Senza Respiro' contains all 6 original songs with 4 bonus tracks from the band's later period. All songs have been remastered by George Horn at Fantasy Studios. The record is housed in custom jacket designed by Eloise Leigh and includes 4 polaroid sized postcards with photos notes and lyrics.
Review: In honour of Record Store Day 2019, French label Revenge has decided to offer up a fresh pressing of a set it first released back in 1977: an acclaimed live album by legendary garage rocker turned car insurance salesman Iggy Pop. The set was recorded at Paris' Hippodrome venue during the artist's "Lust For Life Tour" in September 1977 and appears here on shocking green vinyl, as it did on initial French pressings. As you'd expect, it brilliantly captures the energy and excitement of Iggy Pop's performances during the period, offering up a mixture of much-loved classics ("Lust for Life", "The Passenger", "I Wanna Be Your Dog" etc.) alongside album tracks and powerful cover versions.
Review: Now approaching a half-century of artistic life as the closest we have to a living personification of rock 'n' roll, Iggy Pop nonetheless also continues to carry himself with more class and style than most any lifer that springs to mind. Yet it has to be said that few were expecting the cadaverous king to make his greatest album for thirty of those years, and this is what 'Post Pop Depression' his collaboration with a dream team involving luminaries such as Josh Homme, Dean Fertita and The Arctic Monkeys' Matt Helders is exactly that - a wry, restrained and ice-cool meditation on carnality and mortality without cliche or rehash, this album is all primal satisfaction and righteous revelation.
Review: Jessica Pratt's third solo album is a blessing from the start, with opener, "Opening Night", setting the album's tone as a sojourn through a fresh but solemn memory, like strolling through a mist swept pasture. With Pratt's unique vocal ranging tied up in a mix of space, crackle and forgotten reverie, her vocals at times sounding as if they're lost somewhere in a wireless ether. With softly played chords and delicate strumming sitting in tune with dreamy interludes and folky motifs, City Slang have arguably dropped their best record for 2019 first.
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.