END OF YEAR REVIEW 2020

TOP 100 ALBUMS

After the Twilight Zone of 2020, we’re here with the last vestige of the old normal - the Piccadilly Records End Of Year chart. Reliably packed with an abundance of audio excellence, this list represents the albums which have provided reassurance, escapism and enjoyment in an otherwise difficult year.

The sleek, sequinned and sophisticated disco of Rheinzand ruled the roost in store this year, keeping us moving and grooving through lockdown and beyond. The timeless songwriting and soothing sounds of Jim Noir sit a close second, while the propulsive sounds of Roisin Murphy, The Orielles and Working Men’s Club round out an exceptional top five.

As ever, whether you dig on hip hop or punk rock, synth or psych, jazz, funk, folk or indie, your new favourite record lurks somewhere within this list…

Piccadilly Records Compilation 2020
Vinyl fans rejoice! We’re delighted to announce that we’re once again releasing a compilation LP, jam-packed with 12 tracks cherry picked from this year’s Top 20 albums. All for the bargain price of £9.99 again!
'Piccadilly Records Compilation 2020' is available to order here now.

Check out these links to see our other Best Of 2020 Charts:
Click HERE for the Piccadilly Top 20 Compilations 2020
Click HERE for the Piccadilly Top 20 Reissues / Collections 2020

And don't forget our super deluxe perfect bound 92 page full colour End Of Year Review Booklet is available now too, beautifully designed yet again by Mark Brown Studio, you can pick up a physical copy here, free instore or view online here.
THE PICCADILLY RECORDS ALBUM OF THE YEAR 2020.

After much anticipation, our Belgian disco diamonds Rheinzand present their debut full-length album. On their self-titled record, The Belgian trio wraps the human heart in synthetic threads of modular electronic disco. 9 songs writhing on timeless dancefloors, morphing in and out of shapes of luxuriant melody and vivid instrumentation.

The album is full of classic disco and electro sounds, wielded with imposing prowess by multi-instrumentalist Reinhard Vanbergen. It’s both an exploration of dance music’s electronic genealogy and the vintage cool that has defined its different eras. Still, an organic atmosphere pervades as the blend of real instrumentation fixes a sort of retro-futurism, imagining an alternative timeline that’s a bit more exciting, more sensuous and libidinal, maybe more human, too, than our current outlook.

We start the engines with Break of Dawn, a compelling beat rises from the basement and soon we’re submerged by the pulsing bassline. Dark sunglasses on, we cruise through the night, letting flashing city lights flow into unbroken torrents of color. Blind awakens us, a splash of handclaps in the face, vivid strings and Charlotte’s trademark slick vocals enter the stage. Tantalizing sunbeams power up circuits of electronic synths blipping and beeping away.

Later down the road, we hit the Latin part of town. Porque fits enchanting vocal spells in beautiful Spanish on playful flamenco rhythms. Fourteen Again is a throwback to early electro, playing around with knobs and buttons. An oscillating synth imagines new worlds of plastic emotion. Still disco and still very cool, though. A constant velocity is sustained throughout the album by this recurring locomotive synth, trudging away beneath the action. Once in a while, we hear the deep, mighty, trembling voice of Mr. Rheinzand speaking to us in incantations. Someone’s pulling the strings here. On Slippery People, the trio cover the Talking Heads classic in a characteristic procedure of bouncy funk. We’re swirled around by the delirious glasswork of You Don’t Know Me into the hypnagogic funk noir of Strange World. Drifting through the house of mirrors after the fourth mojito.

Obey collects all these threads in a full-bodied future classic disco anthem, before Queen of The Dawn wraps up the show with a sky-bound epic of operatic choirs and ceremonious drums that lands somewhere between Kate Bush’s Aerial and Peter Gabriel’s most bombastic.

STAFF COMMENTS

says: Bringing groove, gloom and glamour aplenty, Belgian mavericks Rheinzand have crafted a powerhouse of a disco album, dragging even the most rhythmically challenged of us onto the metaphorical dancefloor.

‘Rheinzand’ had hardly been out a week before Mine and I founded The Rheinzand Alliance: an intra-Piccadilly splinter group hell-bent on securing the band a spot in our coveted top 10. We played the album a lot, and watched as our Piccadilly pals were drawn in by the seductive synths, smart bilingual lyrics and ethereal grooves. Fast-forward five months, and ‘Rheinzand’ has marched into our Album of the Year spot with practically the whole shop united under its dark and sparkling banner.

Released on the much-loved Music for Dreams label, ‘Rheinzand’ is as atmospheric as it is insistent; behind the four-to-the-floor beats, funking basslines and slick Balearic production sheen, something sinister lurks. Monstrous synth-basses squelch and stomp while distant choruses yell and clamour for our attention. Old Testament logic is carried out to its perverse conclusion on the stellar “Blind” with singer Charlotte Caluwaerts imparting that “an eye for an eye will make you blind”, while the album’s more pensive moments, “Porque'' and “You Don’t Know Me”, see Caluwaerts evoke the spirit of Julee Cruise. There’s something very Twin Peaks about the album as a whole too - ‘Rheinzand’ is like a David Lynch wet dream recorded straight to tape (or vinyl, or whatever else you're into…)

There’s bangers in them hills, too. “Fourteen Again” puts a nostalgic singalong chant over a rugged DFA-style backdrop (expertly crafted by producer Reinhard Vanbergen), while “Obey” combines batshit grit with pop brilliance, in part thanks to the sub-Iggy Pop growl of Mo Disko in the vocal booth. Rheinzand’s distinctive brand of nu-disco is ballsy and joyous - an album to celebrate and savour in a year that’s been anything but.

FORMAT INFORMATION

2xColoured LP Info: Red coloured vinyl edition exclusive to Piccadilly Records.

Ltd CD Info: CD exclusive to Piccadilly Records.

A record to be enjoyed to its very last second AM Jazz is set to place this songwriter where he just might, finally, receive the recognition he deserves; from unsung hero to a truly worthy candidate for being called up to join the City of Manchester’s ranks of great musical icons. Whether you prefer to know him as Mr. Roberts or simply call him Al, it’s time to become acquainted with the real Jim Noir.

Tossing his bowler onto the hat stand and sliding on his slippers, AM Jazz sees ‘Jim’ putting his feet up whilst Alan Roberts takes the lead. A creative masterpiece for the record player and the mantlepiece, it’s a multi-layered album that features close friends including those dearly departed, and is his truest record to date, by a songwriter painting his own hypnotic Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.

“I haven’t 'felt' like Jim Noir for a long time. I’m not sure I ever did; it was a construct of other people’s imaginations,” reveals Al. “AM Jazz is definitely the kind of music I make generally. It harks back to when I started making music years ago and didn’t worry about capturing a particular style. It will be nice to show people more of that. It's the best album I've written; real hypnotic minimalism, the good stuff!”

15 years since he recorded the first ever 'Jim Noir' EP, AM Jazz is the record all Noirheads won’t be surprised Al had inside him. Letting the Beatlesesque stylings of his most recent album Finnish Line be (5 years ago no less), AM Jazz suits the Noir repertoire of his catalogue so far and is another homegrown offering which sees the Daveyhulme composer tinkering in his suburban Manchester studio once more, with the magic of his computer work sorcery, analog and tape recordings. “For this I went back to the slightly more haphazard way I wrote my first album, Tower Of Love, wherein I’d use things in front of me, or a bit wrong like headphones for a microphone, to make the most Hi-Fi Lo-fi album ever.”

Whilst a brief disappearance of Jim’s online persona may have provoked bleak theories as to his whereabouts, Al had little time for digital distraction. Whilst writing and creating with friends, he has worked on electronic pet project, FAX with former Alfie guitarist, Ian Smith, and the vintage analogue house meets electro sound of his own solo EP Granada Personnel Recovery, as well as producing local band, Shaking Chainsor, and helping long-time musical colleague, Aidan Smith with his long-awaited 'The Planets' project; “I’ve been writing in dribs and drabs when I feel like it,” Al says. “I used to write all day everyday but it’s a lot harder now I’m (feeling) over 100 years old.” Never not sonically exploring or being inspired by the sounds around him, there was even a red-carpet moment when he appeared as a film premier guest after a couple of his songs were selected for the OST of director Jason Wingard’s film Eaten By Lions.

Performing all AM Jazz’s instrumental parts himself but also, at the right moment, bringing in present and past pals along the way, sexy lounge song, ‘Hexagons’ features 'Phil Anderson' and Mark Williamson singing and playing “legendary OTT guitar solo” respectively. Meanwhile the orchestration of ‘Peppergone’ waltzes like a beautifully romantic ode to Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata – a tribute to dearly departed best friend 'Batfinks' who originally wrote the chords in his song 'Peppercorn.' “I hope he doesn’t think it’s shit,” Al jests. Listen closely and you may even find a few unsuspecting celebrity guest appearances as, perhaps, it could be the very first album to feature soundbites of podcasts sneaking onto the recordings. “I will have a podcast on if I’m recording; Adam Buxton, Athletico Mince, Frank Skinner or Richard Herring… I’m sure some mics will have picked them up, like in the old Tower of Love days,” he says referring to his breakout debut.

Culled from around 50 tunes AM Jazz moves like the time of the day, from dawn to night, stirring from the pop of ‘Good Mood’ and ‘Upside Down’s Beta Band groove. “As the album was playing, I imagined this smoky backstreet with all those neon signs outside clubs at about 4am,” Al says. Mellow ‘TOL Circle’ is like Percy Faith’s Theme From A Summer Place synthesized, capturing the style of TV library music or movie soundtrack obscurity that has always stirred Al’s curiosity, and the album plunges into a vast chasm of instrumental exploration with ‘Mystermoods,’ visiting Japan’s funky synth whiz duo Testpattern and Hakabashi Sakamoto. Darkening and deepening in intensity, ‘Eggshell’ is like an undiscovered gem from Angelo Badalamenti’s cutting room floor, the Panda Bear shimmer of ‘Lander’ is where blissful positivity and sadness meet, about another of his friends who left the world too young. “By the album’s close, its nearly time to let go and enter the ether,” he says of the album’s story. “Like one would do when they take their final sigh on this earth.”


STAFF COMMENTS

says: It’s 14 years since Jim Noir’s debut album and the way the music scene works (chew them up spit ‘em out, next!) you could be forgiven for heaving an almighty shrug. Playful, whimsical (his stage name is derived from a Vic Reeves character!) quirky Mancunian, songs used in adverts and video games, cute, charming, retro sounds, etc etc; all kinda true, but only half the story. This guy, real name Alan Roberts, is a genius songwriter, for whom the notion of pop “relevance” should not apply. His way with melody is right up there with the very best, and these harmoniously overlapping songs actually remind me of a Paul McCartney or Brian Wilson.

This record is quite simply beautiful. Forty one minutes of lush, blissed-out, mesmerising song craft. It starts with a Fanclub-style classic, moves through upbeat Super Furries fun then slides into three Air style velvet funk groovers, including album highlight “Hexagons” which is the best song I’ve heard all year. Then a nine minute mid record three song instrumental passage (a dream!) sets you up perfectly for Side 2 where Alan revisits that stunning opener but with added melancholy, before drifting off into second big standout “Lander” where swathes of shoegaze distortion, heavenly keys and percussive beats provide chillwave vibes as the chords shift gorgeously underneath. All that remains is for the record’s fourth instrumental and title track to play you out; high, lonely, but fuzzy and still beautiful. It’s a trip.

"Róisín Machine" is the culmination of a rich, decades long partnership between Murphy and one of her most trusted collaborators Crooked Man aka DJ Parrot. Although packed to the rafters with masterclass singles, including “Simulation”, “Jealousy”, “Incapable”, Narcissus” and “Murphy’s Law”, it is also an ingeniously and seamlessly edited listening experience, designed to be listened to in one uninterrupted sitting, from start to dazzling finish.

From the intoxicating disco-funk of “Incapable”, to the quintessential “Narcissus” which crystallised New-Disco and established a high watermark for the genre, to “Murphy’s Law”, a 70s inflected stomper, “Roisin Machine” offers up everything you could ask for on an exquisite plate. Added to the familiar tunes are five new songs, including the Dalek-funk of ‘We Got Together’ and the fantastical “Shellfish Mademoiselle”. An album that works perfectly on the home sound system but also comes alive in a basement sweatbox, it impeccably sits alongside Murphy’s stellar cannon of work released across 25 boundary pushing, trailblazing years, a career encompassing iconic music, directorial, art and fashion moments.


STAFF COMMENTS

says: Róisín Murphy has always had that certain indefinable something; a self-assured demeanour that although grandiose never seems pretentious. Perky and eccentric, but always charming - someone you can look up to in an artistic way but equally just want to take out for a pint and a bit of banter. Add to her showmanship, incredible voice and pop sensibility the musical genius of long-time collaborator Richard Barratt aka Crooked Man / DJ Parrot and you end up with an irresistible mix of shimmering disco strut, pulsating synths and thumping club beats.

‘Róisín Machine’ seems like the culmination of and logical conclusion to Murphy's 25-year career - from her time as one half of Moloko through to collaborations with the likes of Boris Dlugosch, Maurice Fulton and Crooked Man - but at the same time feels new and exciting and oozes with confidence, as if Murphy is only just getting started. “I feel my story is still untold, but I'll make my own happy ending...” are the revealing opening words of the album which has been a decade in the making.

Even though every song on the record is a standalone winner that would feel at home on most dancefloors, the album also works extremely well as a whole, with one track seamlessly blending into the next. It therefore equally lends itself to an afternoon on the sofa - headphones on, choice of drink in hand and dreaming of a time when we can finally hear it blasting through the speakers of our favourite clubs. Luckily, there is a wealth of lockdown video content by Murphy herself that will keep us entertained until then!

FORMAT INFORMATION

2xColoured LP Info: Limited edition transparent double vinyl with zine and signed photo.

2xLtd LP Info: Standard heavyweight vinyl.

CD Info: Digipack CD.

Defiant in the face of existential dread, The Orielles were always going to approach their second album with nothing but stellar levels of intent. Disco Volador sees the 4-piece push their sonic horizon to its outer limits as astral travellers, hitching a ride on the melodic skyway to evade the space-time continuum through a sharp collection of progressive strato-pop symphonies.

“Its literal interpretation from Spanish means flying disc but everyone experiences things differently. Disco Volador could be a frisbee, a UFO, an alien nightclub or how you feel when you fly; what happens to your body physically or that euphoric buzz from a great party,” suggests bassist and singer, Esme. “But it is an album of escape; if I went to space, I might not come back.”

Voyaging through cinematic samba, 70s disco, deep funk boogies, danceable grooves and even tripping on 90s acid house, Disco Volador is set to propel The Orielles spinning into a higher zero-gravity orbit. Written and recorded in just 12 months, it captures the warp-speed momentum of their post-Silver Dollar Moment debut album success; an unforgettable summer touring, playing festivals like Green Man and bluedot, and deepening their bond whilst witnessing the sets of their heroes Stereolab, Mogwai, and Four Tet. Disco Volador’s library catalogue vibes stem from a band lapping up and widening their pool of musical discovery whether nodding to Italian film score maestros Sandro Brugnolini and Piero Umiliani, or the Middle Eastern tones of Khruangbin and Altin Gün. “All the influences we had when writing this record were present when we recorded it, so we completely understood what we wanted this album to feel like and could bring that to fruition,” tells drummer, Sid. “This is the sound of where we are at, right now.”

Returning to Stockport’s Eve studios where the band cooked together, went swimming, took walks, and relaxed in the soundwaves of an occasional gong bath, Henry, Sid and Esme called a family reunion under the watchful whisker-twitching of studio cat, Adam (“He was probably a producer in a past life,” they say). With keysman Alex now adding texture through his classically trained know-how, they re-joined engineer Joel, and producer Marta Salogni (Liars, Björk, The Moonlandingz) whose vast expertise of drones, delays and mad effects were so intrinsic to their Disco Volador vision – sketched out by the band in Sharpie doodles on the studio wall. “Marta is so positive, she has a great way of getting the best out of us,” guitarist, Henry tells. “Marta is the 5th Orielle,” affirms Sid. “Because we’d worked together before, we were even tighter; it’s a shared mind-set.” For Marta, the feeling is mutual; “It’s sonic tidying really, the band just do their thing and I work with that.”

Built from instrumentals around the concept of “boogie to space, space to boogie,” Disco Volador’s energy comes from the melodic fission of tension and release. Recurring motifs explore space, not only of earth’s celestial atmosphere, but also what happens within the gaps and how sound manipulation has the power to carry, or displace, its listener. “We like throwing in wide curveballs by taking the music somewhere different then figuring our way back… like jumping off,” says Henry. “Jez from ACR taught us about pauses and that’s massive on this record; space can be the most beautiful part of a song.” In fact, by unleashing the tension with their own smattering of esoteric noise through delay pedal fuckery, the layered poetics on ‘Whilst The Flowers Look’ and ‘Memoirs of Miso’s saxophone stylistics (loaned by Glasgow band Lylo’s Iain McCall), filling voids is exactly what gives the album its magic. “Those unplanned moments are great,” Sid says, “mistakes can become something special. For these next shows we’ll have to change our tech spec up so much!”

At times haunting and unsettling, Disco Volador’s film-like structure flows from fact to fiction. Its tales are culled from waking life as easily as they become a soundtrack for lucid dream sequences. Watching Foley-inspired 70s thriller Berberian Sound Studio whilst recording may account for the album’s dynamic sound effects – created with Eve’s array of instruments plus Henry’s flexatone - a Secret Santa gift from Esme. Lynchian outros capture the album’s thematic dread as they spiral into infinity and pave the way for potential loops, imitating the fades between the songs of the band’s summer DJ sets. Brian Eno-inspired dreams about a rocket-fuelled mission may or may not have inspired ‘Rapid’ or ‘Come Down On Jupiter’ after ideas sunk deeper into their subconscious. “I’d been reading about phenomenology and Czechoslovakian writer Milan Kundera’s ideas about existence; the weight of your own body, what you feel and how that interacts with your surroundings,” hints Esme, at possible inspiration behind the lyrics.

Whilst the future of the world and its current cosmic wasteland might be up in the air, The Orielles’ new album has its feet beating out a much-needed four to the dancefloor. Welcome to Disco Volador; time really does fly when you’re having this much fun.

STAFF COMMENTS

says: Wow, no second album worries whatsoever for The Orielles, then! Crashing into our hearts with their supernaturally energised blend of psych, post-punk, dream pop, disco, Tropicalia and good old fashioned indie-pop, this record absolutely does it all. Some of the baggy grooves on their debut have been whipped up to speed; this is a taught, funky, crisp and punchy sound. I’d say it's also a more experimental record, definitely more challenging, but that doesn’t mean the tune count is any lower: these are massive, dead catchy pop songs, designed for the dancefloor but especially the live experience; what a shame that’s been denied them (and us!) in this annus horribilis.

Opening track “Come Down On Jupiter” is a heavily phased and flanged waltz before its driving middle section and grooving outro, whilst elsewhere there’s saxophone, congas, handclaps galore, and an ever burgeoning love affair with Manchester’s very own A Certain Ratio. Lead singer Esme has such a sweet, unaffected voice in which a tiny sense of longing can be detected, though not in any navel gazing way, she’s probably pining to meet somebody out on the astral plain or she’s dreaming of space travel, cosmic connectivity or just another dimension altogether! This is music to get you off your arse alright, the drums and percussion are just incredible throughout, as is the overall production, so tasty, so nuanced, so many flavours. I really think they’re one of our best bands right now.

5 - Working Men's Club

Working Men's Club

    A rumble on the horizon. Gritted teeth, nuclear fizz and fissured rock. A dab of pill dust from a linty pocket before it hits: the atom split, pool table overturned, pint glass smashed — valley fever breaking with the clouds as the inertia of small town life is well and truly disrupted. Here to bust out of Doledrum, clad in a t-shirt that screams SOCIALISM and armed with drum machine, synth, pedal and icy stare are Working Men’s Club, and their self-titled debut album.

    It’s hard to believe that the three fresh-faced music college kids who bounced out of nowhere and onto the 6 Music playlist with the sweet-but-potent, twangy guitar-led ‘Bad Blood’ (Melodic Records) in 2019 are the same band who clattered back there with maddening techno-cowbellpuncher ‘Teeth’ less than half a year later — and that’s because for the most part, they’re not. Having signed to Heavenly and with the hype around them building, underlying tensions came to a boil a mere five days before the band’s all-important first London headline show, and wunderkind frontman Syd Minsky-Sargeant was left high and dry; guitarist Giulia Bonometti had decided to focus on her blossoming solo career, and drummer Jake Bogacki was against the new electronic direction Minsky-Sargeant saw Working Men’s Club taking. (“I guess WMC started off as a bit more guitar-based, tryna copy stuff in our own way, like the Velvets and stuff like that, but I didn’t want it to be that anymore. It became dancier and dancier as I tried to experiment”, he explains.) All that remained of the outfit was Minsky-Sargeant himself, recently recruited bassist Liam Ogburn, and — given the band’s indebtment to wood panelled, community-run venues for an early leg-up — a rather pertinent name. But with staunch determination burning in his belly, Minsky-Sargeant quickly assembled a lineup consisting of himself, Ogburn, and Mairead O'Connor (The Moonlandingz) and Rob Graham (Drenge, Baba Naga) — both of whom he had met at the Sheffield studio of producer Ross Orton (The Fall, M.I.A., Arctic Monkeys) — replaced the live drums with a drum machine, and rush-rehearsed the new setup before going ahead with the show. “If it wasn’t for Sheffield then we probably wouldn’t have played that gig” he says. “I was shitting myself, because I didn’t know what would work or not.” Luckily, something stuck: “After about three gigs with that lineup it was already way better than what we’d had before.” Two original members lighter and three new ones the richer, Working Men’s Club took on a new hard-edge permutation, their shows becoming ever more sweaty, pulsating and rammed to the rafters; their energy raw; their vigour renewed; their interplay as musicians growing ever-more intuitive and elastic. Their eponymous collection of songs is equal parts Calder Valley restlessness and raw Sheffield steel; guitars locking horns with floor-filling beats, synths masquerading as drums and Minsky-Sargeant’s scratchy, electrifying bedroom demos brought to their full potential by Orton’s blade-sharp yet sensitive production.

    It was at home in the town of Todmorden in the Calder Valley, West Yorkshire, feeling hemmed in, that 18-year-old Syd Minsky-Sargeant first began assembling these 10 songs. “There’s not much going on, not much stuff to do as a teenager” he says. “It’s quite isolated. And it can get quite depressing being in a town where in the winter it gets light at nine in the morning and dark at four”. It is this sense of cabin fever, of “thinking that you will never escape a small town in the middle of nowhere” on which the album opens, with the boredom-lamenting and rave-reminiscent ‘Valleys’. In a post-punk talk-sing over an old-skool beat, Minsky-Sargeant begins:

    Trapped, inside a town, inside my mind

    Stuck with no ideas, I’m running out of time

    There’s no quick escape, so many mistakes, I’ll play the long game

    This winter is a curse

    And the valley is my hearse, when will it take me to the grave?

    Fortunately for Syd and a thousand other bored-shitless, dark-dwelling teenagers, the Calder Valley boasts a burgeoning grassroots music scene, chiefly centred around The Golden Lion in Todmorden, and the Trades Club in Hebden Bridge — both of which were instrumental in the early life of the band. “Without those venues we probably wouldn’t have been able to get into playing live music”, Minsky-Sargeant reflects. Working Men’s Club’s first ever gig, at The Golden Lion, was self-booked and self-promoted, landlord Waka having allowed the band to use the 100-capacity room above the pub for free. Even before booking himself onto the stage though, Minsky-Sargeant regularly snuck into the venue to watch the internationally renowned DJs, like Justin Robertson and Luke Unabomber, who passed through its doors. This, combined with the discovery of 808 State, his stepdad’s extensive afrobeat record collection, YouTube videos of Jeff Mills making beats on a Roland TR-909, and a chance festival encounter with Soulwax, provided sustenance and inspiration for Working Men’s Club’s developing sound. Though it is songs almost entirely written and sung by Minsky-Sargeant that appear on the record, he is quick to point out the influence of the other members of his band on the record too; that “everyone that’s been involved in this band, from the old lineup to the new lineup, played on the record, contributed and shaped it in some way, through the phases”, wheedling in and around Minsky-Sargeant’s songs, embellishing them with their own bass, guitar, key or backing vocal parts. And without Orton, “it wouldn’t have been half as good a record.” Working with the producer radically changed MinskySargeant’s songwriting practice — “I tried to replicate what he was doing in his studio in my bedroom, and think more about drum sounds and making them more complicated and messing around with synths and stuff like that. It made me think about more components than just a guitar.”

    The songs following ‘Valleys’ come fast and relentless — momentum ever increasing, mission well and truly stated as the frenetic, pew-pewing ‘A.A.A.A’ speeds through to nonchalant existential groove ‘John Cooper Clarke’ — centred around the realisation that yes, even the luckiest guy alive, the Bard of Salford himself, will someday die.

    Hard holds hands with soft, and rough with smooth. On washily-vocalled, Orange Juicily-guitared ‘White Rooms and People’, there are simultaneously beautifully blooming flowers and ‘people talking shit about you’, and the hazy, ricocheting ‘Outside’, the gentlest track on the album, flips straight into the tough-as-shit, industrially-geared ‘Be My Guest’, which opens the second half of the record with markedly E. Smithian brio. The opening bars of ‘Cook A Coffee’ are momentarily reminiscent of ‘Bad Blood’, but spiral into direct and uncomfortable eye contact in song-form; a lost Joy Division number from an alternate universe, about taking a dump live on the telly. ‘Tomorrow’ glitches and glimmers, whilst outro track ‘Angel’ moves between psychedelic languidity and hardcore thrash, the album playing itself out on a 12-and-a-half-minute noodle.

    It is with war, free-fall, and re-birth already behind them that Working Men’s Club emerge, resilient; inspiration from across breadth of eras, genres and tour-mates merely strata in their very own indie-cum-dance-cum-techno niche in the crag.

    Diva Harris, February 2020

    STAFF COMMENTS

    says: It's perhaps unsurprising that a band from the Calder Valley on the edge of the Pennines draws on influences from both sides of the hills. Todmorden’s WMC have done just that, splicing the synth led sounds of 80s Sheffield with doomy Mancunian post punk stylings to create a forward thinking monster of a debut album. The acidic synths and pulsing beat of album opener “Valleys” encapsulate the claustrophobia of growing up in a small town and the smothering intensity is maintained through the industrial clatter of “A.A.A.A.”. With its funk fuelled grooves, nonchalant vocals and bitter sweet chorus, “John Cooper Clarke” could easily be an undiscovered classic from early Factory days. As side one draws to a close, the mood is lifted with the choppy guitar groove of “White Rooms and People”, and on “Outside”, it feels like they’ve escaped the town for sun kissed wide open spaces. Side two reverts to pounding industrial grooves and distorted guitars on “Be My Guest”. “Tomorrow” marries monotone vocals with a super catchy chorus while “Cook a Coffee” takes a cheeky snipe at a certain TV presenter. “Teeth” is aimed squarely at the dancefloor with its relentless synth stabs interwoven with doomy guitar riffs and “Angel” brings the album to a triumphant close: Jangling guitars and crashing cymbals over a driving rhythm that morphs into a sprawling psychedelic wig-out.

    They set out to make a dance record that wouldn’t be pigeonholed as a dance record. I think they’ve nailed it.

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    Love Record Stores LP Info: Picture Disc. Includes a "Live In The Northern Quarter" bonus CD while stocks last.

    LP Info: Includes a "Live In The Northern Quarter" bonus CD while stocks last.

    CD Info: Includes a "Live In The Northern Quarter" bonus CD while stocks last.

    Cassette Info: Clear shell + neon yellow slip-case. Includes a "Live In The Northern Quarter" bonus CD while stocks last.

    6 - Fontaines D.C.

    A Hero's Death

      Barely a year after the release of their hugely acclaimed debut album 'Dogrel', which earned a Mercury Prize nomination and Album of the Year 2019 at both BBC 6Music and Rough Trade record store, Dublin’s Fontaines D.C. have returned with an intensely confident, patient, and complex follow up album. 'A Hero's Death' arrives battered and bruised, albeit beautiful - a heady and philosophical take on the modern world, and its great uncertainty. 

      STAFF COMMENTS

      says: Following the moody brilliance of the universally lauded ‘Dogrel’ was never going to be easy. Such a weight of expectation! Add to that a relentless schedule that goes with maintaining the momentum of success and a lifestyle that stretches minds and bodies to the limit (all too often beyond) and Fontaines D.C. could well be forgiven for buckling under the pressure. They certainly weren’t immune. Instead of blunting their creativity however, they channelled the world weariness and cynicism into their music, giving darker breadth and depth to the snarl and vigour of their debut. Grian Chatten is as poetic and articulate as ever, his wry observations irreplaceable, but here they are shot through with defiant nihilism and a wish for independence, from everything and everyone.

      They cite the Beach Boys as an influence on this album, but, while their chopping, post punk growl certainly has added harmony and changes of pace for sure, this ain't surfing weather. Where they do throw in a ballad, the gorgeous drunken drawl of “No” that closes the record, it's under leaden Dublin skies. The glorious, rolling sneer of “Televised Mind” and the tortured glam of the title track are perhaps other standouts, but then this album is full of them. All killer, certainly that.

      ‘A Hero's Death’ is absolutely and identifiably Fontaines D.C., it couldn't be anyone else, but it’s a leaner, more layered and brooding upgrade. If ‘Dogrel’ was a victory, ‘A Hero's Death’ is a reflection on the cost. It’s just magnificent.

      Kelly Lee Owens' masterful second album "Inner Song" finds the convention-blurring techno producer and singer/songwriter diving deep into her own psyche—excoriating the struggles she's faced over the last several years and exploring personal pain while embracing the beauty of the natural world. It's a leap in artistry from a musician who burst forth on the scene with a confident, rich sound, and "Inner Song" is endlessly enticing when it comes to what Owens is capable of.

      "Inner Song" follows the star-making debut of her 2017 self-titled album, a quixotic blend of body-moving beats and introspective songwriting that garnered numerous accolades from the music press. Owens has indeed come a long way from her background as a nurse, since then she has remixed Bjørk & St Vincent, released an indelibly clubby two-tracker, 2019's "Let It Go" b/w "Omen," and teamed up with likeminded auteur Jon Hopkins on the one-off "Luminous Spaces."

      Her latest album also comes off of what Owens describes as "the hardest three years of my life," an emotionally fraught time that, in her words, "Definitely impacted my creative life and everything I'd worked for up to that point. I wasn't sure if I could make anything anymore, and it took quite a lot of courage to get to a point where I could make something again." So while the lovely cover of Radiohead's "Arpeggi" might strike some as an unconventional way to open a sophomore effort, to Owens the winding take on the classic tune—recorded a year before work on "Inner Song" properly kicked off—represents the sort of sonic rebirth that's so essential to Inner Song's aura.

      "Inner Song" was largely written and recorded over a month last winter. As with her debut, Owens holed up in the studio with co-producer and collaborator James Greenwood —and letting loose in the studio and being open to whatever sonic whims emerge was essential to Owens' craftwork. The evocative title of the album is borrowed from free-jazz maestro Alan Silva's 1972 opus, which was gifted to Owens by Smalltown Supersound's Joakim Haugland for her 30th birthday: "I'm so grateful for him and his perspectives—he's always thinking outside of the box. Those two words really reflect what it felt like to make this record. I did a lot of inner work in the past few years, and this is a true reflection of that." The hair-raising bass and tickling textures of "Inner Song" drive home that, more so than ever, Owens is locked in to delivering maximal sonic pleasure—as evidenced by the decision to make the album's vinyl release a sesqui album, or triple-sided album: "I'm still obsessed with frequencies that don't do well on vinyl if they don't have the space."

      "The power of conceptualizing who you are has really informed this album," Owens states about Inner Song's essence, and her second album is truly a discovery of self— the latest statement from a fascinating artist who continues to surprise, gesturing towards a rich and varied career to come.


      STAFF COMMENTS

      says: Three years on from her championship season and KLO returns to the long format with a deeper, more refined distillation of her trademark techno pop style. If her debut album delivered on the promise of those early singles, ‘Inner Song’ offers us a dizzying premonition of just how far she could go.

      By her own admission, this album emerged after the hardest three years of her life, and even a cursory scan of the lyrics hints at a little darkness before the dawn. “‘On” and “L.I.N.E.” explore the end of a troubled relationship, “Melt” references the climate crisis and “Wake Up” warns against extended screen time. Rather than wallowing in the melancholy though, Kelly strikes an optimistic tone, serving a resilient reminder that we all have the power to overcome adversity, mirrored in the vital beats and healing frequencies which underpin her emotive songwriting.

      Much like Arthur Russell, an early inspiration, Owens revels in the space between genres, providing a fresh perspective on established styles. Crystalline electronics sit beneath a shoegaze shimmer on “Night”, the bastard offspring of the Cocteau’s and Kraftwerk in a fresh pair of dancing shoes. “Re-Wild” splits the difference between futuristic RnB and taut Detroit techno, a new Minimal Nation woozy on lean, while “Jeanette”, a celebration of the life of her nan, renders an organic landscape in precise electronics.

      On this complex yet cohesive album, Owens tackles serious subject matter with poetic sensitivity, pop hooks and thunderous beats, all the while retaining the ethereal beauty of her Welsh heritage.

      FORMAT INFORMATION

      2xLove Record Stores LP Info: LRS Purple Vinyl.

      2xColoured LP Info: White vinyl edition.

      8 - Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever

      Sideways To New Italy

        After years spent looking out at landscapes and loved ones and an increasingly unstable world, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever have turned their gaze inward, to their individual pasts and the places that inform them, on their second full-length, Sideways to New Italy.

        Led by singer-songwriter-guitarists Tom Russo, Joe White and Fran Keaney, the guitar-pop five-piece returned home to Australia after the relentless touring schedule that came following their critically regarded 2018 debut Hope Downs. Feeling the literal and metaphorical ground under their feet had shifted, the band began grasping for something reliable. For Keaney, that translated into writing "pure romantic fiction" and consciously avoiding the temptation of angsty break-up songs, while Russo looked north to a "bizarre place" that captured the feeling of manufacturing a sense of home when his own had disappeared.

        The New Italy of the new album’s title is a village near New South Wales’ Northern Rivers – the area drummer Marcel Tussie is from. A blink-and-you'll-miss-it pit-stop of a place with fewer than 200 residents, it was founded by Venetian immigrants in the late-1800s and now serves as something of a living monument to Italians' contribution to Australia, with replica Roman statues dotted like alien souvenirs on the otherwise rural landscape. The parallels to the way the band attempted to maintain connections and create familiarity during their disorienting time on the road was apparent to Russo. "These are the expressions of people trying to find a home somewhere alien: trying to create a utopia in a turbulent and imperfect world."

        The record's geographic identity emerged from the band losing their grip on their own, whether that was through the pressure of touring, the dissolution of relationships, a frustrating distance from their daily lives – or some combination of all three – that came from being slingshotted all over the world, playing sold-out headline tours and festivals including Coachella, Governors Ball, Primavera Sound, All Points East, and Pitchfork Music Festival.

        The notion of crafting, in Russo’s words, “a utopia of where your heart’s from,” permeates Sideways to New Italy, in which early attempts at writing big, high-concept songs about The State of the World were abandoned in favor of love songs, and familiar voices and characters filter in and out, grounding the band's stories in their personal histories. There’s something comforting, too, in knowing the next time they’re buffeted from stage to stage around the world, they’ll be taking the voices of their loved ones with them, building a new totem of home no matter where they end up.

        STAFF COMMENTS

        says: It’s been well documented that we love the sunshine rich sound of The Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever here at Piccadilly; two EOY Top 10 entries with 2018’s ‘Hope Downs’ and 2017’s mini-album ‘The French Press’ speaks for itself. And now the Australian quintet have returned with ‘Sideways To New Italy’, a superbly crafted and exceptionally well produced album that’s easily on par with their previous releases.

        Kicking off the album with the timeless “The Second Of The First” it’s clear that they’ve lost none of their songwriting wizardry, all the key RBCF elements are here; interlocking jangling guitars, pristine melodies, a driving rhythm section and hooks that’ll earworm their way around your head for months on end.

        Track after track of effortless sunkissed indie-pop follow including the standout “Cars In Space” where the intertwining triple guitars really hit their peak, layers upon layers of blissful golden soundz over an infectious motorik beat. This is RBCF at their best, where all five members click into a groove that you’ll never want to end.

        ‘Sideways To New Italy’ is the sound of a band that’s happy to be back in the confines of their studio again having spent around 18 months touring the world; finding warmth in the familiarity of their setting, but wiser for the adventures and tribulations that they’ve encountered so far. Here’s hoping the next album is just as good!

        FORMAT INFORMATION

        Love Record Stores LP Info: Rose coloured vinyl.

        Coloured LP Info: Loser edition sky blue vinyl.

        9 - Sufjan Stevens

        The Ascension

          Sufjan returns with the long awaited follow up to Carrie & Lowell, featuring some of his most confident and varied work to date. We kick things off with the unassuming beginnings of 'Make Me An Offer I Cannot Refuse' before launching into a deeply electronic but airy Thom Yorkey vocal workout. It's this sort of rapid switch and thematic flexibility that both characterises the album and leads to the most surprising and satisfying moments of his career. 

          'Video Game' sees some haunting organy synth leading into a deeply rythmic and pop-led verse, showcasing Stevens' iconic voice, and dedication to variety in songcraft.  

          there are some more ambient moments at play, with 'Die Happy' and 'Gilgamesh' trading on the ambient electronic backdrop, but with long tailed reverbs and soaring echoes working their way around the stereo image. 

          Possibly the most satisfying moments on this collection comes as the flow of the album quietens down into the euphoric redux of the latter third of the album. 'Sugar' could easily have been the background to some of the earlier, skittering electronics of Múm or the Rós, while the title track encompasses everything we love about Stevens, but imbued with a mildly melancholic but wholly relaxed atmospherics. 

          It's a beautiful LP, and one that only goes to prove how essential Stevens continues to be on our musical landscape. 

          STAFF COMMENTS

          says: From the opening choral glitches to the sea of ambience which sees the album out, ‘The Ascension’ is a patchwork of electronic experimentation, distorted lamentations, and intimate confession.

          Sufjan Stevens has long been a musical chameleon: from the alt-folk expression of ‘Carrie & Lowell’, to the meticulously-researched bombast of ‘Illinois’ and digital catharsis of ‘The Age of Adz’, he’s proven time and time again that whatever the instrumentation or subject matter, he can write rich, personal, spiritual songs like no one else. ‘The Ascension’ draws on all these and more, to create an album as fragile as it is grand, as despairing as it is defiant, and as inspired (if not more so) than anything he’s done before.

          ‘The Ascension’ is a predominantly electronic affair: huge, distorted drums pulse throughout the album, underscoring hordes of ghostly voices and shifting synths. Celestial car alarm effects argue with auto-tuned vocal cries, while album highlight “Landslide” sees Sufjan bow to a guitar solo, of all things, teetering in-between The Durutti Column’s understated beauty and wild math-rock frenzy. Lyrically, Sufjan seems desperate for a response, making demands and pleading with us, the listener, to soothe his anxieties. Faith and certainty are out; desire and anxiety are in. Nowhere is this more apparent than on the penultimate and titular track, which sees Sufjan explore those thoughts he “couldn’t quite confess” to gut-wrenching effect.

          Like Dante’s Inferno reimagined as a tour of purgatory, ‘The Ascension’ is a deeply conflicted, gloriously lost, and tentatively comforting album. It’s Sufjan’s finest hour (and twenty minutes) yet.

          FORMAT INFORMATION

          2xColoured LP Info: Limited edition clear vinyl.

          10 - Andrew Wasylyk

          Fugitive Light And Themes Of Consolation

            Fugitive Light And Themes Of Consolation is the third in a trio of records by Andrew Wasylyk which unearth and reshape the landscape of Eastern Scotland as shimmering and inventive instrumental music. Where Themes for Buildings and Spaces (2017) toured the architecture and industry of Dundee, evoking a place caught between decay and regrowth, the Scottish Album of the Year Award shortlisted The Paralian (2019) explored the littoral exchanges between sea and shore on the North Sea coastline.

            Fugitive Light And Themes Of Consolation carries a trace of this arc on a return upriver, drifting back inland along the River Tay's inner estuary: a record of the low light on winter fields, empty suburban streets at dawn, the deep clear waters of the quarry excavated to build the city. Ten songs circling landscapes for meaning, channelling half-heard melodies and misremembered memories; caught somewhere between settling down and setting out towards the shining levels of the estuary and beyond.

            The record is threaded with the influences of people, place and musical lineages – David Axelrod, John Barry, Virginia Astley, Mark Hollis, Alice Coltrane – yet as with all of Andrew's solo work it has a deft, clear voice all of its own. Recorded between Summer 2019 and January 2020, Fugitive Light… displays his talent as a multi-instrumentalist and composer: all hushed drum grooves, rolling waves of plucked acoustic guitar, cascading upright piano, Bob James-inspired Fender Rhodes, rippling clàrsach harp, and ECM-worthy electric guitar motifs. As on The Paralian, string arrangements are by fellow Tayside musician Pete Harvey, known for his work with King Creosote, Modern Studies and The National Theatre of Scotland.

            This is a record scored through with patterns of light: the song titles evoke last sunbeams, the fugitive light of water, the violet hour of autumn, cemetery silhouettes, and the half-light of the moon; the arrangements aglow with subtle shifts of texture and refractions of melody. Fugitive Light… is an atmospheric (in both the sonic and elemental sense) evocation of the ebb of the world, something that Andrew describes as, "simultaneously about knowing loss and accepting love, the optimistic and the downhearted, where the lightness and dark gather together." 

            Andrew has a knack for writing melodies that seem at once timeless yet entirely individual: emerging somewhere between spiritual jazz, neo-classical and library music, diffracted by the blues and greys of the wide Tay firth. The instrumentation has a soft-focus glow of its own: piano keys gently pressed, the metronomic click of analogue drum machines, the well and wash of strings and brass, a singing saw whirring into the heavens. Fugitive Light And Themes Of Consolation is another Wasylyk song-cycle wonder; a wander through glimmering internal and external landscapes.

            STAFF COMMENTS

            says: Despite the times we live in, there remain beacons of musical light in an otherwise shadowy world. It's my hope that people will hear Andrew Wasylyk's latest outing and like me, be taken away on a dreamlike bed of carefree strings and soaring plucked harps. On his second album for Athens Of The North, Andrew takes the sound of his previous album, 'The Paralian' and injects those stories with a little more of everything, more ambient joy, more curative groove and more heart. As the equal and opposite to this, we get the meditative lows and mournful minor-key intersections that make the bliss seem all the more profound.

            For the soaring, sun-dappled morning of “Last Sunbeams Of Childhood” we get a thoughtful and pensive “In Balgay Silhouettes”. It's this sense of balance that really sets this music apart, with elements of jazz and folk tempered by an ambient leaning persuasion akin to the sleeper Prefab Sprout hit of 2003/2019, ‘I Trawl The Megahertz’. It's no easy feat to take in all this breadth of sound and to make it your own, but ‘Fugitive Light And Themes Of Consolation’ couldn't have seemed any more effortless, with restful interludes and seismic emotional shifts taking place seamlessly in the blink of an eye. It's an organically growing whole, cohesive and emotional without being overblown or pretentious. A true treasure.

            Back in January, Cleo Sol emerged from her winter cocoon with a stirring acoustic ballad entitled "Butterfly." We suspected that a new project would follow, and the London singer-songwriter has delivered exactly what we were hoping for with her new album Rose In The Dark. Comprised of 11 tracks stitched with threads of '70s jazz and '90s neo-soul, Cleo offers the soothing calm that we need in these chaotic times.

            Rose In The Dark opens with the harmonic mantra "One Love" before the jazzy bass line and drum knocks of "Why Don't You" entice us to settle in for a cozy listen. With dulcet horns and doo-wop vocals, the reggae-tinged "Young Love" is a whole mood. Meanwhile, "Rewind" and title track "Rose In The Dark" are steeped in nostalgic overtones. Cleo then proceeds to hypnotize the listener in two different ways – with the seductive sultriness of "When I'm in Your Arms" and the heartfelt devotion of "Sideways."

            "Butterfly" passes the acoustic baton to the album's next two tracks – "Sure of Myself," a down-tempo ballad with lush harmonies, and "I Love You," an aching, Rhodes-driven tune that seamlessly segues from sparse to layered composition. The vintage jazz-soul vibes of closing track "Her Light" deliver a cinematic finale to this incredible selection of authentic soul music.

            It's hard to believe Cleo had doubts about releasing the project. In a transparent post, she admits, "I've been going back and forth with whether there will be a right time to release music this year, as I always go with trusting my heart and it hasn't felt quite right." She continues, "But this is bigger than me, and I always have to remind myself I'm simply a vessel...so my album is here for u to listen to, to uplift you, move you or be your backing track vibes whilst we are all moving through this moment."

            STAFF COMMENTS

            says: Finding peace of mind amidst the constantly shifting background of apocalyptic news and mounting uncertainty has been quite the challenge this year. Thankfully, London based singer-songwriter Cleo Sol has created a sonic antidote for our pervasive lockdown induced malaise. Her debut album has proved to be a perfectly timed blessing - one that contains a collection of tender musings on love, faith and finding strength in moments of darkness.
            ‘Rose in the Dark’ is mostly pared back and organic in feel, with orchestral flourishes weaving in and out at just the right moments. Sweet, self-soothing vignettes are framed by rolling Shuggie Otis style grooves and sultry Badu inspired backing vocals. Yet perhaps the most rousing moments of the album are heard in the simple gospel influenced tracks where Cleo’s effortless vocal agility takes centre stage. It’s a compelling debut which carries a fitting message for our times: “Do you know, do you know, do you know that things get better?”

            12 - Zara McFarlane

            Songs Of An Unknown Tongue

              Brownswood are delighted to present Zara McFarlane’s, Songs of an Unknown Tongue a masterful work that underlines her continuous growth as an artist. Zara’s fourth studio album pushes the boundaries of jazz adjacent music via an exploration into the folk and spiritual traditions of her ancestral motherland, Jamaica. The album is a rumination on the piecing together of black heritage, where painful and proud histories are uncovered and connected to the present.

              Partnering with cult South London based producers Kwake Bass and Wu-lu, Zara has created a futuristic sound palate, electronically recreating the pulsing, hypnotic rhythms Kumina and Nyabinghi – and the music played at African rooted rituals like the emancipation celebration Bruckins Party, and the lively death rites of Dinki Minki and Gerreh. These richly patterned electronic rhythms are balanced throughout by McFarlane’s distinctive, clear vocal tones, and vivid song writing.

              Zara’s critically acclaimed third studio album ‘Arise’ met with universal critical praise, and was supported by an impressive live tour performing at festivals such as Love Supreme, Field Day and SXSW. Zara is the winner of multiple awards including a Mobo, 2 Jazz FM Vocalist of the Year Award (2018 & 2015), an Urban Music Award, and Session of the Year at Worldwide Awards. Drawing respect from a wide range of artists, Zara has collaborated with Gregory Porter, Shabaka Hutchings, Moses Boyd and Louie Vega.

              These new sonic explorations signal an exciting direction of travel for this innovative founding member of the UK’s vibrant homegrown jazz scene.

              STAFF COMMENTS

              says: Zara McFarlane’s striking album ‘Songs of an Unknown Tongue’ is a reflective, hypnotic release filled with rich tones of roots-reggae, futuristic soul and rapid jazz tempos. The standout track for me is “Future Echoes” beaming with vibrancy and paired alongside a deep bassline, its soaring highs accentuate her stunning vocals and lyrical song-writing prowess. This genre-fusing album is a work of art, accentuating her personal growth and reflective aura through captivating storytelling.
              McFarlane’s rich and vivid vocals project a soothing, cathartic atmosphere, as though being awoken from a deep slumber – it feels warm and personal. Her vocal range is what takes your breath away, from steep impactful high-notes then fluctuating to deep, profoundly rich soft presence. It’s clear to see why Zara McFarlane has been highly regarded on the Brownswood label as one to watch, well here she is.

              13 - Baxter Dury

              The Night Chancers

                Failed Fashionistas, Instagram voyeurs, jilted Romeos, reeking insecurity, the willingly self deluded, the comically unware, the Night Chancers… “Baxter Loves You” The album was co - produced by long time collaborator Craig Silvey (Arcade Fire, John Grant, Artic Monkeys) and Baxter, and was recorded at Hoxa studios West Hampstead in May 2019.

                From thrilling affairs that dissolve into sweaty desperation (Night Chancers) to the absurd bloggers, fruitlessly clinging to the fag ends of the fashion set (Sleep People), via soiled real life (Slum Lord) social media – enabled stalkers (I’m not Your Dog) and new day, sleep – deprived optimism (Daylight), the record’s finely drawn vignettes, are all based on the corners of world Dury has visited.

                Baxter says “Night Chancers is about being caught out in your attempt at being free”, it’s about someone leaving a hotel room at three in the morning. You’re in a posh room with big Roman taps and all that, but after they go suddenly all you can hear is the taps dripping, and all you can see the debris of the night is around you. Then suddenly a massive party erupts, in the room next door. This happened to me and all I  Could hear was the night chancer, the hotel ravers”.



                STAFF COMMENTS

                says: Over a pulsing beat, Baxter drawls "I’m not your fucking friend” and with that the tone is set for his sixth album, ‘The Night Chancers’. Since his gently psychedelic Velvets tinged debut, ‘Len Parrot’s Memorial Lift’ back in 2002, Baxter has been gradually honing his style and here amongst the shady, louche characters of ‘The Night Chancers’ he’s hit his stride. His nonchalant downbeat delivery is engaging throughout, as he tells their wayward tales and is countered perfectly by female vocals that at times echo and at others act as a kind of opposing view to his narrative. The whole album is driven by slow-mo beats, languid, meandering basslines and lush strings that create a perfect noir-ish backdrop to the lugubrious tales. You can almost smell the cigarette smoke and cheap aftershave as the neon reflects on the rain soaked pavements.

                14 - Khruangbin

                Mordechai

                  Khruangbin has always been multilingual, weaving far-flung musical languages like East Asian surf-rock, Persian funk, and Jamaican dub into mellifluous harmony. But on its third album, it’s finally speaking out loud. Mordechai features vocals prominently on nearly every song, a first for the mostly instrumental band. It’s a shift that rewards the risk, reorienting Khruangbin’s transportive sound toward a new sense of emotional directness, without losing the spirit of nomadic wandering that’s always defined it. And it all started with them coming home.

                  By the summer of 2019, the Houston group—bassist Laura Lee Ochoa, guitarist Mark Speer, drummer DJ Johnson—had been on tour for nearly three-and-ahalf years, playing to audiences across North and South America, Europe, and southeast Asia behind its acclaimed albums The Universe Smiles Upon You and Con Todo El Mundo. They returned to their farmhouse studio in Burton, Texas, ready to begin work on their third album. But they were also determined to slow down, to take their time and luxuriate in building something together. Musically, the band’s ever-restless ear saw it pulling reference points from Pakistan, Korea, and West Africa, incorporating strains of Indian chanting boxes and Congolese syncopated guitar. But more than anything, the album became a celebration of Houston, the eclectic city that had nurtured them, and a cultural nexus where you can check out country and zydeco, trap rap, or avant-garde opera on any given night.

                  In those years away from home, Khruangbin’s members often felt like they were swimming underwater, unsure of where they were going, or why they were going there. But Mordechai leads them gently back to the surface, allowing them to take a breath, look around, and find itself again. It is a snapshot taken along a larger journey—a moment all the more beautiful for its impermanence. And it’s a memory to revisit again and again, speaking to us now more clearly than ever.

                  STAFF COMMENTS

                  says: The international peddlers of smooth, stylish grooves are back, and this time they’ve returned with a slightly revamped sound. They haven’t stopped trawling the globe for sonic inspiration and this could be some of their most eclectic work to date, adding elements of East and West African music to their already diverse sound palette. The vocals are far more present on ‘Mordechai’ than previous albums, but Khruangbin haven’t completely abandoned the deep instrumental format that they started out with. There is plenty of stripped back Cymande style elegance to be enjoyed in tracks like “If There is No Question” and “Father Bird, Mother Bird”. Perhaps one of the prettiest tracks is “One to Remember”, a shimmering dub incarnation of “So We Won’t Forget” which makes for a satisfying self-referential moment. Let’s hope their winning streak endures until they’ve distilled the essence of the entire globe into their singular soundworld.

                  FORMAT INFORMATION

                  Love Record Stores LP Info: Black vinyl with signed insert.

                  Coloured LP Info: Limited edition translucent pink coloured vinyl.

                  Coloured LP includes MP3 Download Code.

                  LP includes MP3 Download Code.

                  Sault make a stunning return after placing pretty much the whole world into a frenzy following their two mysterious and incredible debut LPs “5” and “7”.

                  Still shrouded in secrecy as to its members, what we do know now is that it’s produced by Inflo, the London producer who has so far worked with Michael Kiwanuka and Little Simz.

                  “UNTITLED (Black Is)” arrives as an expansive double LP, affording longer track lengths and a greater diversity of tracks than their quick-fired debuts. Characterized by an honest and soulful production aesthetic throughout, the previous melting pot of gospel, Afro and funk soul influences are reassuringly present; while lyrically the album contains a much more serious and urgent message about the current state of modern society. Touching on systemic racism, injustice and police brutality, whilst celebrating triumphantly in its own self, it’s a hard hitting and at times stark revelation set to a backdrop of effortlessly suave instrumentals that pour off the record with an abundance of style and confidence.

                  There’s a reason Sault are so eagerly championed in the hypesphere right now: they’re unashamedly proud, unreserved and informed. Their musical message and sentiment is real; and by so far escaping any proper identification this has only added to the poignancy and impact that “UNTITLED (Black Is)” is likely to have over the next few months…


                  STAFF COMMENTS

                  says: Following up the jaw-dropping impact of ‘5’ and ‘7’ was never gonna cause the biggest band in the hype-mosphere any issues. You get the impression that the (frustratingly still anonymous) collective have musical ideas and modern philosophy pouring out of their backsides, drip feeding us genius and revolutionary sentiment as and when they deem us ready. Gifting the 6Music demographic with an empowered, self-assured and identity-defining document wrapped in a mellifluous tapestry of Afro, gospel and soul-indebted influences; the pure, transparent production style only serves to juxtapose the often hard-hitting lyrical content against this rich musical backdrop brilliantly. Sault highlight disparities, discrimination and disadvantage in Black society in much the same way as Gil Scott-Heron or Kendrick Lamar. Amongst the vitriol however, is an album of uplifting, tender and intimate moments, immediately reflective of our current times, especially poignant for 2020, and seeking to create a brighter future for everyone.

                  16 - Four Tet

                  Sixteen Oceans

                    The flag bearer for dancefloor-orientated electronic music has come up with something rather special for, what I think, is his twelfth proper studio album to date. Reaching, through his ever-forward-glancing soundscapes, to even deeper levels of intimacy, intricity, abstraction & intrigue. Four Tet continues to usher in the Now; way before you even knew it existed.

                    Utilizing a beguiling and enchanting array of patches, synths, DSP units and the latest computer technology to yield a decidedly humanoid (read: cybernetic) approach to modern commentary and body movement through sound; our trusty technician has once again proven why he's the go-to tastemaker across the dance music global village, whatever particular camp you chose to shake your boots in.

                    Housed in a fractal-psychedelic sleeve which upon first inspection reveals very little, as the first utterances begin to emanate off the record it's clear Hebden is painting a multidimensional canvas of our current world. Musically and visually it resonates with current moods and emotions, especially as technology continues influence and interact with our daily lives.

                    After a crystalline and atmospheric opening track, "Baby" rushes through our senses at 5G; a track so quintessentially Four Tet yet unfathomably beautiful you'll curse the producer for not gifting it to us sooner. "Teenage Birdsong", a previously released single relishes in its languid, BOC-esque downbeat electronica while "Romantics" closes off the opening side with a warped but elegant moment of transcendence.

                    "Love Salad" smothers us delicate rhythmic glitches and morphed pianos, "Insect Near Piha Beach" deploys the mangled electro-acoustic palettes that garnered much of Hebden's early works while "ISTM"'s gentile flurries and ASDR-enveloped stimulation propels us off into dreamlike fantasy worlds unknown to our consciousness.

                    Side C is a somewhat nocturnal and tranquil affair, with obvious stargazing references contrasted with the whispering fairylike lullabies beamed down from the heavens.

                    After treating us to such a glorious three sides, Four Tet then leaves jaws floor bound by gifting to us an entire side of locked grooves straight from the stems of the album!!! - Honestly, this is some real treasure folks, ready to mined by Ableton heads, mixed and juggled by 3-deck wizards and used as DJ tools across other tracks; it's an unfathomably classy and fortunate touch that closes off one of the producer's most essential albums to date. 10 / fu**ing 10. Essential.


                    STAFF COMMENTS

                    says: All of the whimsy and unmistakable glee that comes from Four Tet's music is here on ‘Sixteen Oceans’. We get the blipping off-kilter synth stabs and dusty nu-rave percussion of ‘Rounds’ or ‘Ringer’, brought together with a smattering of vocal samples (Ellie Goulding on “Baby” is a particular highlight) and the organic, swung congas of the more recent output. “Teenage Birdsong” was an excellent choice for a single, as not only is it the most Four-Tetty cut on the album, but leaves it as a nice surprise for those fans of 2015's 'Morning / Evening' when “Insect Near Piha Beach” emerges as an unsung pick of the crop. As if that wasn't enough, side D of the vinyl pressing has a number of beautiful locked loops, these vignettes beautiful mini-songs in their own right. Never one short of surprises, Hebden once again blows it out of the water.

                    FORMAT INFORMATION

                    2xLove Record Stores LP Info: LRS exclusive pressing: 5-colour splatter with clear base.

                    17 - BDRMM

                    Bedroom

                      Hull/Leeds based five-piece bdrmm release their much anticipated debut Bedroom on July 3, via Sonic Cathedral. The 10-track album was recorded late last year at The Nave studio in Leeds by Alex Greaves (Working Mens Club, Bo Ningen) and mastered in Brooklyn by Heba Kadry (Slowdive, Beach House). It’s a hugely accomplished debut and a real step up both sonically and lyrically from their early singles, which were rounded up on last year’s If Not, When? EP. Musically, there are nods to The Cure’s Disintegration, Deerhunter and DIIV, while the band reference RIDE and Radiohead. There are also echoes of krautrock and post-punk, from The Chameleons to Protomartyr, plus the proto shoegaze of the Pale Saints’ The Comforts Of Madness, not least in the cross fading of some tracks, meaning the album is an almost seamless listen. As a result, Bedroom becomes an unexpected and unintentional concept album, running through the different stages of a break-up set against the backdrop of the ups and downs of your early twenties. “The subject matter spans mental health, alcohol abuse, unplanned pregnancy, drugs… basically every cliché topic that you could think of,” reveals frontman Ryan Smith. “But that doesn’t mean they ever stop being relevant. It’s a fucker growing up, but I’m lucky enough to have been able to project my feelings in the form of this band, surrounded by four of the best people I’ve ever met.”

                      And that band name, in case it needs explaining, is pronounced the same way as the album title. “I never thought I’d get to the stage where I would have to explain it so much,” says Ryan. “We have been pronounced as Boredom, Bdum and my old boss thought we were a ska band called Bad Riddim. We’re all sarcastic cunts, so Bedroom spelt correctly seemed like the perfect title.” He’s right. The perfect title for the perfect debut album.

                      STAFF COMMENTS

                      says: The hugely anticipated debut album from the Hull based five-piece led by Ryan Smith. Released on the ever reliable Sonic Cathedral, ‘Bedroom’ takes its cues from the early 90s shoegazing scene but magnifies it in the huge expanses of their widescreen sound. The effortlessly gorgeous instrumental “Momo” sets the scene as the guitars ripple around a taut rhythm section before the hypnotic opener cross fades into the glimmering introspection of “Push / Pull” with its Chameleons-esque chiming guitar chugs and soft-focus vocals of Smith.
                      Throughout the album the shimmering soundscape pulses along with hypnotic chiming guitars, doomy bass sounds, and dream-pop vocals, all perfectly illustrated on mid-album highlights such as “Gush” and “Happy”. The colossal “If…” dominates Side 2 with huge peaks of crunching fuzz riffs and euphoric vocals, before the album drifts out with the lilting mellowness of “Is That What You Wanted To Hear?” and album closer “Forget The Credits”.
                      Who knows where their next album will take them but with ‘Bedroom’ they’ve created a modern day shoegaze classic.

                      FORMAT INFORMATION

                      Coloured LP Info: Green vinyl edition.

                      18 - Matthew Halsall

                      Salute To The Sun

                        Composer, trumpeter, producer, DJ and founder of Gondwana Records, Matthew Halsall has always worn many hats. But at the heart of everything that he does Halsall is first and foremost an artist and a musician. A trumpeter whose unflashy, soulful playing radiates a thoughtful beauty and a composer and band-leader who has created his own rich sound world. A sound that draws on the heritage of British jazz, the spiritual jazz of Alice Coltrane and Pharoah Sanders, as well as world music and electronica influences, and even modern art and architecture, to create something uniquely his own. A music that is rooted in Northern England but draws on global inspirations.

                        Salute to the Sun is his first album as a leader since Into Forever (2015) and marks the debut of his new band. A hand-picked ensemble featuring some of Manchester’s finest young musicians: Matt Cliffe flute & saxophone, Maddie Herbert harp, Liviu Gheorghe piano, Alan Taylor drums and Jack McCarthy percussion as well as long-time Halsall collaborator, bassist, Gavin Barras who has been at the heart of Halsall’s bands for over a decade. For Matthew it was important to have a band based locally and able, pre-Covid, to meet and play each week, and who also performed a sold-out monthly basement session at Yes in Manchester. The album draws energy from these sessions and inspiration from themes and ideas that have inspired Halsall through the years (on albums such as Oneness, Fletcher Moss Park and When the World Was One) ideas of ecology, the environment and harmony with nature.

                        “I feel Salute to the Sun is a positive earthy album. I wanted to create something playful but also quite primitive, earthy and organic that connected to the sounds in nature. I was listening to lush ambient field recordings of tropical environments such as jungles and rainforests and found myself drawn to percussive atmospheric sounds which replicated what I was hearing (bells / shakers / chimes / rain sticks) and I started to experiment with more wooden percussive instruments such as kalimba and marimba”.

                        STAFF COMMENTS

                        says: After a year in which most of us had plenty of opportunity to reconnect with nature, Manchester’s pre-eminent jazz musician returned with this lush tribute to the living world. ’Salute To The Sun’ is Halsall’s first album as a leader in five years, and finds him fronting a new band cherry picked from the next generation of Mancunian musicians as well as long time collaborator Gavin Barras.

                        Halsall’s spent much of the last decade reinterpreting spiritual jazz for the 21st century, and there’s been a consistent focus on ecological influences. On ’Salute To The Sun’ however, Halsall looks far beyond Fletcher Moss, instead exploring the humid sounds of the tropics across seven immersive compositions. Placing a greater emphasis on percussion than on previous works, Halsall lets his expressive tone soar over the woody rhythms beneath, the marimba and kalimba adding pitched nuance to the primal drum patterns. This album is as rich, warm and rewarding as the life giving orb which inspired it.

                        FORMAT INFORMATION

                        2xColoured LP Info: Limited edition double clear vinyl.

                        2xColoured LP includes MP3 Download Code.

                        2xLP Info: Double black vinyl.

                        2xLP includes MP3 Download Code.

                        19 - Coriky

                        Coriky

                          For anyone who’s been hoping Washington DC's post-hardcore legends Fugazi might at some point emerge from their long haitus, this might well be the next best thing.
                          Coriky is a trio consisting of Amy Farina on drums, Joe Lally on bass and Ian MacKaye on guitar, with all of them sharing vocal duties. Formed in 2015, Coriky didn’t play their first show until 2018 and now finally, they release their debut album.

                          As you’d expect, it’s the perfect mix of melody and intensity. Lally’s dubby basslines, rumble over rattling snares and although all three share the mic, it’s MacKaye’s distinctive vocal that gives them their edge.

                          Idles might have borrowed the politically charged punk mantle for a while, but MacKaye and co are here to win it back.

                          STAFF COMMENTS

                          says: From the first few seconds of the album opener, “Clean Kill” it's clear that the Fugazi spirit is alive and well. Moving away from the baritone guitar and jagged anti-folk of Farina / MacKaye's previous project The Evens, they've brought Fugazi bassist Joe Lally in to the fold too, only helping to strengthen the dedication to rhythmic drive and jagged, angular edges; “'Say Yes” is an excellent example of this, with the dual vox of Farina and MacKaye drifting atop a jazzy, funk shuffle. Later, things get a bit more minimal with “Last Thing” epitomising the wandering, hypnotic groove that we'd expect. This isn't to say any of the material here is reductive, quite the opposite in fact, they manage to retain the sound of each individual musician while making it clear why every instrument and every melody is present. An essential purchase.

                          20 - Tim Burgess

                          I Love The New Sky

                            How inspiring it is to hear Tim Burgess conjuring up exciting and life-affirming sounds as he, almost inconceivably, enters his fifth decade on public duty. Frontman, singer, label boss, DJ and author, he’s been instrumental in so many great records over the years, always bringing enthusiasm, positivity and diversity of influence, which altogether light the way for those who hold him dear.

                            While in The Charlatans, Tim’s indefatigable energy has been a consistent fuel for the band across thirteen high-charting albums, his solo adventure has been no less extraordinary, scaling new heights in 2020 with his fifth solo release to date: ‘I Love The New Sky’. Released on Bella Union, it features wonderfully connective songs of everyday minutiae and universal experience, of love and anger, of loss and belonging, all united by elaborate yet natural arrangements and an effortless but deceptively expert way with melody.

                            ‘I Love The New Sky’ differs from its predecessors in that all twelve tracks were self-penned. “In the past, I've written collaboratively,” says a characteristically, but rightfully excited Burgess. “(2012's) ‘Oh No I Love You’ was written with Lambchop’s Kurt Wagner in Nashville, and then ‘Same Language, Different Worlds’ was a collaboration with Peter Gordon who had worked extensively with Arthur Russell.”

                            The spark for ‘I Love The New Sky’ came after a year of touring another album, ‘As I Was Now’, which he’d made in 2008 but had a belated release ten years later. “That one was made in three days, just friends getting together”, he says – the amigos included Josh Hayward from The Horrors, Primal Scream Keyboard player Martin Duffy, Ladyhawke and My Bloody Valentine's Debbie Googe.

                            “I didn’t realise the album hadn't actually come out as I had a copy of it on my ipod so I figured that maybe everybody did. So, all those years later I thought it would make an interesting release for Record Store Day. It did really well, so I was approached to tour it for Independent Venue Week and after that a load of festivals asked us to play too. Average Sex were the support band that then became my band so it was a brilliant little tour. After that, I was really energized, and I thought, Right, I'm going to do another album, but really concentrate on making it a solo record, where I write everything on my own and all the songs are the very best I can make them.”

                            “I’d been listening to a lot of Isaac Hayes, Olivia Tremor Control, Carole King, Todd Rundgren, John Maus, Weyes Blood and Kevin Ayres - I’m not sure how much they have influenced the album but they were the impetus and inspiration.”

                            The twelve tunes of ‘I Love The New Sky’ were authored, he says, “in Norfolk, in the middle of the countryside, with the nearest shop eight miles away. There are no distractions, and I guess that way things happen. I wrote everything on acoustic guitar, and the chords were really considered. The guitar lines would lead the melody, and the melody would inform the lyrics – just dreaming away with music.”

                            So far, so Laurel Canyon, though ‘I Love The New Sky’ would end up sounding anything but hippie/folkie, thanks to a connection Tim made while living in a warehouse space in gritty Seven Sisters in North London, before heading to Norfolk.

                            “The Quietus had their office there,” he recalls. “I used to know pretty much all the stuff they were writing about, but then their album of the year for 2013 was ‘Glynnaestra’ by Grumbling Fur, and I really fell in love with it. I started talking to the band about working together. To cut a long story short I recorded a song with Grumbling Fur, they remixed two Charlatans tracks and a couple of Daniel O'Sullivan's solo albums came out on my label.”

                            As well as bass and drum duties on I Love The New Sky, O’Sullivan plays piano on much of the album, from the bouncing chamber-pop chords of ‘Sweetheart Mercury’ and the punchy chorus of ‘Empathy For The Devil’, through to ‘Comme D’Habitude’’s juxtaposition of blissfully rolling West Coast singer-songwriting and a complex Sparks-y Broadway-esque bridge, to the Velvets-y ramalama moves on ‘Warhol Me’ and ‘Undertow’’s sombre balladry.

                            The album was arranged and recorded quickly but not rushed: “Ideas happen fast, don’t they?” Tim reasons. The first sessions at Eve Studios in Stockport were with long-serving Charlatans engineer Jim Spencer. Tim, Daniel and Nik Void cut three tracks in two days, with Nik layering up modular synths in line with her previous day job in Factory Floor.

                            A third keyboard maestro entered the picture when Thighpaulsandra, a maverick musician and producer, came into the frame, best known for his work for Julian Cope, Coil Spiritualized and Elizabeth Fraser. I found out that he was based at ‘Rockfield’ [legendary residential facility near Monmouth, South Wales]. So I said, ‘Okay, that’s where we’re going to record the rest of it’.” As well as enlisting his know-how as an engineer, the cosmically-inclined Welshman also applied vintage synths and what Tim hazily calls “wizardry”.

                            For Burgess himself, the return to Rockfield was meaningful: “I hadn’t been there since we recorded ‘Tellin' Stories’” he says. “It was a matter of ending this long period of not going there, because after Rob died we couldn’t face it again. So nearly 25 years later, we returned and the positive feelings came back. Mark Collins [Charlatans guitarist] came down to play on ‘Empathy For The Devil’ and ‘Sweetheart Mercury’, and he actually had the same room as he had in 1996. It was like no time had passed at all.”

                            “I was in search of a certain sound there,” Tim adds, of his overriding motivation for returning. “I couldn’t exactly put my finger on what it was I was searching for, but I knew if it was there that I’d be able to find it”.

                            The results are nothing short of astounding. ‘I Love The New Sky’ has landed somewhere between Paul McCartney's ‘RAM’ and Brian Eno's ‘Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy)' and certainly that recipe covers both the all-pervasive tunefulness and high quality. Stylistically, though, it runs the widest gamut, from 'Empathy For The Devil's gospel style rockabilly skip, through to the sophisticated song-craft of ‘Sweetheart Mercury’ and the Nilsson-esque ‘Sweet Old Sorry Me’, with the angst-y gravitas of ‘Undertow’, which Tim describes as “a mood-changer, influenced by 10cc.”

                            Lyrically, this might almost be a defining collection from Burgess after thirty years honing his craft. There’s plenty of typical lightness of touch of ‘Only Took A Year’s joking reference to the album’s twelve-month gestation period, and the quip, “what’s your favourite Cure LP? I like ‘Pornography! But it could be any one of three.”

                            Equally amusing in its self-referencing is ‘Warhol Me’ set to a soundtrack of New York bubblegum pop. ‘Sweet Old Sorry Me’ finds Burgess reminiscing on his former life in Los Angeles, but drolly updating the Steely Dan vernacular for the social-media era with the line, “I had to unsubscribe from that particular tribe”. ‘Lucky Creatures’, meanwhile, follows Tim on his day back in LA on tour, as he enjoys “tacos on the underground”, revisiting his old everyday haunts in Hollywood.

                            ‘The Mall’, too, revels in its everyday setting: “it’s an ordinary feature of everyday life. I’m pretty sure that the ‘escalating drama on a moving staircase’ bit happened at Boots in Piccadilly Circus. Maybe they'll put a blue plaque there one day. I love it round there, it’s like the whole world is happening – but it’s taking a small idea and trying to make it into something more universal.”

                            ‘I Got This’ has the line “the future is friendly”. Says Tim: “Everyone’s been going through a lot of tough times. And the future is uncertain. But you have to have that optimistic outlook – like, waking up in the morning and feeling that it’s gonna be a good day.”

                            There is a sense of community within this solo venture, which is emphasised when Tim and Nik’s six year old son joins in on ‘Comme D’Habitude’, and with the assembly of what Tim calls a “gang chorus”, in the spirit of Dexy’s Midnight Runners’ ‘Plan B’, for the closing chant of the album title on ‘Laurie’. This song is particularly heartfelt, as Tim mistily reveals, written for “someone I love who I never met”. The end section happened spontaneously at Rockfield: “Everybody that came into the studio, I asked them to sing, so there are about 20 people doing that vocal – Mark Collins, Daniel, our friend Ally, Nik, Thighpaulsandra – everybody singing it, and for this spirit that is loved.”

                            The final stages of the album’s year-long narrative arc were enacted at Jet Studio in Brussels, with the Echo Collective string section. Burgess looked on “mesmerised at what was happening to the songs, taking an even more magical turn.”

                            With that icing on the cake, Tim is in no doubt that he has his finest solo record under his belt. On this occasion, it’s coming out on time, and he’ll be touring it with a live ensemble featuring Daniel O’Sullivan, Thighpaulsandra, another O Genesis artiste called Keel Her, and renowned avant-jazz violinist Peter Broderick, who plays on ‘’Empathy…’ and will recreate the Echo Collective parts, too. So, the community will grow. Just like Tim says, “the future is friendly.”


                            STAFF COMMENTS

                            says: Tim’s fifth solo album is his best by a mile and what’s even sweeter is that he wrote every song totally by himself. It’s the quintessential Tim experience; warm, open-hearted, playful and experimental, but absolutely always with a catchy pop hook at the centre of everything. There’s a sense of wonder and a carefree spirit at play, but don’t be fooled; these twelve ditties have sophisticated arrangements and are expertly embellished with sax, strings and piano, the latter provided by Grumbling Fur’s Daniel O’Sullivan. You could call this soft psyche or indie easy listening except Tim always throws a spanner in the works, a mad detour or delightful quirk. It’s a record full of surprises. Having warmed the hearts of a nation with his wonderful listening parties this summer, Tim has made the kind of album we’ll all be pouring over ourselves for many years to come.

                            FORMAT INFORMATION

                            Love Record Stores LP Info: 180g transparent splatter vinyl with DL + exclusive signed art print.

                            Coloured LP Info: 180 gram LP.
                            Transparent splatter vinyl with download code.

                            'Dark Matter’ is a landmark record, a producer album by a young auteur, threading several thrilling musical traditions into a bold new tapestry: the raw energy of grime and afrobeats and the rolling club rhythms of the London underground, combined with the freewheeling creativity and collaborative spirit of his jazz training. With that mentality in mind, it’s no surprise that his talents have trickled over into fashion, producing original compositions for the Louis Vuitton Foundation x MoMa Archive film (2017) and most recently scoring the Men's Dunhill Paris Fashion shows in both 2018 and 2019.

                            A double MOBO & Jazz FM Award winner, Boyd’s live and studio collaborations have been as varied as they have been prolific, from touring with Sampha & Kelsey Lu, to drumming on Sons of Kemet’s Mercury-nominated album, to his recent collaboration with South African Gqom king DJ Lag, which made its way onto Beyonce’s official soundtrack for The Lion King. He produced Zara McFarlane 's 2017 full-length, Arise, in its entirety, for Gilles Peterson’s Brownswood label, and released several acclaimed solo projects though his Exodus record label. Boyd has produced original scores for major Paris fashion shows, and with saxophonist Binker Golding, he’s co-leader and co-producer of the ferocious semi-free group Binker and Moses.

                            STAFF COMMENTS

                            says: Sitting at the heart of the British Nu-Jazz scene, Moses Boyd steps forward to bring us ‘Dark Matter’. An upbeat album with amazing depth and complexity, featuring the likes of Nathaniel Cross, Joe Armon Jones, Theon Jones, Nubya Garcia and Ife Ogunjobe.

                            22 - Protomartyr

                            Ultimate Success Today

                              Following the release of Relatives In Descent, the band’s critically acclaimed headlong dive into the morass of American life in 2017 (featured on myriad “best of” lists, including The New York Times, Esquire, Newsweek, Loud & Quiet and more), Ultimate Success Today continues to further expand the possibilities of what a Protomartyr album can sound like. 

                              “There is darkness in the poetry of Ultimate Success Today,” says punk legend, founding member of The Raincoats, and friend of the band Ana da Silva. “The theme of things ending, above all human existence, is present and reminiscent of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. Our world has reached a point that makes us afraid: fires, floods, earthquakes, hunger, war, intolerance…There are cries of despair. Is there hope? Greed is the sickness that puts life in danger.”

                              "The re-release of our first album had me thinking about the passage of time and its ultimate conclusion,” says singer Joe Casey of Ultimate Success Today. “Listening to No Passion All Technique again, I could hear myself hoping for an introduction and a long future, but also being cognizant that it could be ‘one and done’ for us. So, when it came time to write Ultimate Success Today, I was reminded of that first urgency and how it was an inverse of my current grapple with how terribly ill I’ve been feeling lately. Was that sick feeling colouring how I felt about the state of the world or was it the other way around?”

                              “This panic was freeing in a way. It allowed me to see our fifth album as a possible valediction of some confusingly loud five-act play. In the same light I see it as an interesting mile marker of our first decade of being a band - a crest of the hill along a long highway. Although just to cover my bases, I made sure to get my last words in while I still had the breath to say them.”

                              “There are exquisite, subtle gifts from other instruments that always heighten the guitar, instead of fighting with it,” explains da Silva. “They help to create a harmonious wall of sound all of its own. This was intentional. Greg Ahee wanted to use different textures other than pedals, and the drone quality of some of those instruments colours the guitar and the whole sound with a warm, rich in reverb, yet all-consuming landscape for Joe Casey’s voice.”

                              Protomartyr is Joe Casey (vocals), Greg Ahee (guitars), Alex Leonard (drums), and Scott Davidson (bass guitar). Ultimate Success Today was recorded at Dreamland Recording Studios, a late 19th century church, in upstate New York and co-produced by the band and David Tolomei (Dirty Projectors, Beach House) with mixing by Tolomei. Featured guest musicians on the album include Nandi Rose (vocals) a.k.a. Half Waif, jazz legend Jemeel Moondoc (alto sax), Izaak Mills (bass clarinet, sax, flute), and Fred Lonberg-Holm (cello).


                              STAFF COMMENTS

                              says: 'Ultimate Success Today' is a superb, burning fire of an LP from start to finish. Dark and foreboding while somehow managing to elicit a headnod from even the most stationary of listeners, this is Protomartyr's finest moment yet.

                              FORMAT INFORMATION

                              Love Record Stores LP Info: 140g Brick Red coloured vinyl.

                              Coloured LP Info: 140g transparent blue vinyl with 24"x24" poster, 'zine' booklet and download card.

                              LP Info: 140g black vinyl with 24"x24" poster, 'zine' booklet and download card.

                              When Mildlife’s debut album, Phase, was released in 2018 it didn’t so much explode on to the scene as ooze. Their mellifluous mix of jazz, krautrock and, perhaps more pertinently, demon grooves, was the word of mouth sensation of that year among open-minded DJs and diggers searching for the perfect beat.

                              Their emergence was backed up by European tours that demonstrated a riotously loose-limbed ap-proach to performance that was every bit as thrilling as Phase’s tantalising promise. What was more impressive was how lightly they wore influences that took in Can, Patrick Adams and Jan Hammer Group, while primarily sounding precisely like Mildlife.

                              By the end of 2018 they’d been nominees for Best Album at the Worldwide FM Awards (World-wide’s Gilles Peterson was a notable champion) and won Best Electronic Act at The Age Music Victoria Awards back home in Melbourne. Their progress post-Phase was cemented with a UK deal with Jeff Barrett’s Heavenly, who released How Long Does It Take? replete with Cosmic doyen Baldelli and Dionigi remixes, while last year they were officially anointed by DJ Harvey when he included The Magnificent Moon on his Pikes compilation Mercury Rising Vol II.

                              With Automatic, the band have made a step-change from their debut. It’s more disciplined, direc-tional and arguably more danceable. As on Phase, they are unafraid to let a track luxuriate in length without ever succumbing to self-indulgence. The arrangements, tightly structured thanks to Tom Shanahan (bass) and Jim Rindfleish’s fatback drumming, permit space for the others to add spice to the stew, topped off with Kevin McDowell’s ethereal vocals as Mildlife effortlessly glide between live performance and studio songwriting. “The recorded songs kind of become the new reference point for playing the songs live,’ says Kevin. “They both have different outcomes and we make our decisions for each based on that, but they’re symbiotic and they both influence each other. It’s usually a fairly natural flow from live to recorded back to live.”

                              With the current climate as it is, opportunities to take this album out into the live arena where the band truly come alive, might well be scant, but they are working on ways around this. “We were hoping to visit new places with this album but that’s required a bit of rethink. We have a lot more videos planned for this year and we’ll be doing shows in Australia when things re-open but it’s still all just wait and see for now.” One thing’s for sure, post-lockdown will be one hell of a party.

                              The centrepiece of Automatic is the title track where the band sound like Kraftwerk and Herbie Hancock on quarantined lockdown in Bob Moog’s Trumansburg workshop. It’s both a departure and quintessentially Mildlife. This is music you can dance to rather than ‘dance music’ and it’s all the better for it.

                              - Bill Brewster

                              STAFF COMMENTS

                              says: Mildlife's first LP 'Phase' wowed us all at Picc HQ and their subsequent live shows sent all and sundry into utter rapture. Their second LP takes a little side step away from the more cosmic moments of their debut, leaning into a more sleek and streamlined discoid style which could elicit a wiggle from even the most ardent wallflower.

                              FORMAT INFORMATION

                              LP Info: Black heavyweight vinyl with locked groove.

                              Being the humble guys that they are, Surprise Chef aren't going to admit they have something very special going down. However, there must be some magic in their studio, or maybe in the fact they all share a house and have formed close bonds, or perhaps from absorbing the DIY ethos of running their own record label that has culminated in such a unique and enchanting sound.

                              'Daylight Savings' is the follow-up to the group's debut album 'All News Is Good News’. That album earned the band a much-deserved following across the world and triumphantly marked their arrival onto the international stage. Their new album was recorded in Spring 2019, almost exactly a year after they recorded ‘All News Is Good News’. It was the weekend that daylight savings time started in Australia, and the studio was filled with the smell of the towering Jasmine bush on the exterior back wall of the house. The record is subsequently filled with the optimism that comes with the impending warmer months and longer days in Australia.

                              Recorded in their own home studio in Melbourne, the production approach for 'Daylight Savings' is a big step up from their debut. Engineer, Henry Jenkins, created enormous-sounding space within this record, using a great deal of creative analogue recording techniques and working in an expansive recording environment. The results are a sound that emulates the massiveness of the late-60s Capitol Records.

                              ‘Daylight Savings' was written collaboratively by the whole band and features the core Surprise Chef rhythm section. It expands upon where their debut left off with a leaning more towards 70's jazzfunk than soul and a stronger focus on the rhythm section. There’s the epic drama, ebbs and flows of a vintage David Axelrod or Alain Goraguer cinematic production, plus the influence of El Michels Affair and Melbourne bands Karate Boogaloo and The Putbacks, yet it still sounds uniquely Surprise Chef. You get a sense of that rare attribute of being both a contemporary band and a band you expect it won't be too long before other producers start sampling them.


                              STAFF COMMENTS

                              says: Sunny Melbourne soulsters Surprise Chef return for another LP of sunshine groove and jazzed out instrumentals. Toeing the line expertly between frenetic, percussive mayhem and Khruangbin-esque downbeat business, they have crafted a uniquely innovative and sun-dappled sound. Another perfect pick-me-up.

                              25 - Idles

                              Ultra Mono

                              Following Brutalism (2017) and Joy as an Act of Resistance (2018), two releases that garnered global critical acclaim, IDLES return with their highly anticipated third album – Ultra Mono. Sonically constructed to capture the feeling of a hip-hop record (including production contribution from Kenny Beats), the album doubles down on the vitriolic sneer and blunt social commentary of their past work. Not far beneath the surface of their self-admitted sloganeering lies a deeply complex and brutally relevant album that chews up clichés and spits them out as high art for the masses. This is momentary acceptance of the self. This is Ultra Mono.

                              STAFF COMMENTS

                              says: Including guest performances from David Yow, Jenny Beth, and Warren Ellis, their third album is an exhilarating punk tour-de-force. Bludgeoning drums, pummelling bass and searing guitars combine with wry social commentary for their most assured album to date.

                              FORMAT INFORMATION

                              Coloured LP Info: Limited edition Vortex vinyl.

                              Deluxe LP Info: Black vinyl in deluxe gatefold packaging with 28 page debossed Ultra Mono catalogue.

                              26 - The Avalanches

                              We Will Always Love You

                                Building on the sample-based approach of their classic albums "Since I Left You" and "Wildflower", but stepping boldly into new terrain, "We Will Always Love You" is the new full length masterpiece from The Avalanches. Check the cover for a photo of Ann Druyan (Director of the Voyager Golden Record Project), her cosmic love story with Carl Sagan inspiring this body of work.

                                An exploration of the vibrational relationship between light, sound and spirit, We Will Always Love You doubles as “an exploration of the human voice” and a spiritual reckoning via the big questions “who are we really? What happens when we die?’”. So says Robbie Chater, who alongside bandmate Tony DiBlasi and collaborator Andrew Szekeres has moved beyond the party-up exuberance of The Avalanches’s youthful music to a tender, reflective sound infused with hard-earned life wisdom.

                                If there’s a single spark for We Will Always Love You it’s the story of the love affair between Ann Druyan and Carl Sagan: “science communicators” whose writings and TV programs brought the ever-deepening mysteries of astronomy and astrophysics to the mass audience. Chater was profoundly moved by the fact that the couple’s romance was captured and carried into space, thanks to the Voyager Interstellar Message Project. Druyan served as Creative Director in charge of curating the Golden Record: earthling music and assorted terrestrial sounds gathered for the contemplation of any alien civilisations that might be out there and be advanced enough to construct a playback system.

                                Originally, Druyan was set to be a presence on We Will Always Love You: a studio was booked to record her telling her own story. That never transpired, but Druyan “gave us permission to use her photo on the album cover,” says Chater. “We photographed it off a static-y television set and ran it through a spectograph to make the cover image. So that was a beautiful way that Ann could still be part of the record. We turned her into sound and back again”

                                Sampling remains at the core of The Avalanches sound, but alongside all of the sample ghosts, We Will Always Love You features an array of living guests who contribute vocals and lyrics: Blood Orange, Rivers Cuomo, Pink Siifu, Jamie xx, CLYPSO, Denzel Curry, Tricky, Neneh Cherry, Sampa the Great, Sananda Maitreya and Vashti Bunyan and many more exciting collaborations to be revealed over the coming months. The Avalanches’s music has always dripped with melody, but because of this expanded role for guest singers and writers, We Will Always Love You is their most song-oriented album yet.

                                “For us, to make the same record again, no matter how well executed, wouldn’t have been satisfying," says Chater. "We were looking to do something that would open up possibilities for the future. Take a bit of a left turn that frees us up to do whatever we want to next.”


                                STAFF COMMENTS

                                says: Inspired by love, humanity, space and at least 6,000 sample-able records, 'We Will Always Love You' sees The Avalanches return in record time for a third album The album dips into hip hop, disco, house and electronica with all the warmth, wit and wanderlust we've come to expect from the Aussies.

                                FORMAT INFORMATION

                                2xColoured LP Info: Indies Exclusive.
                                Double 180 gram coloured vinyl, COLOUR IN COLOUR Configuration - Coke Bottle Green & Kelly Green.

                                2xDeluxe LP Info: Double 180 gram coloured vinyl, A SIDE / B SIDE Configuration - Doublemint & Electric Blue.

                                2xLP Info: Double 180 gram black vinyl.

                                27 - The Lovely Eggs

                                I Am Moron

                                  It’s a very busy time in Eggland right now. Since the release of their last album ‘This Is Eggland’ in 2017, The Lovely Eggs have sat back and watched the world mutate and slowly eat itself. However, rather than remaining frozen in despair, they have used their relentless analysis of a modern culture that is bringing the world to its knees and poured every bit of inspired anger, contempt and hysterical laughter into new album ‘I am Moron’.

                                  We got to hear the first results of their observations as 2020 lurched into life from its seasonal slumber, in the seething two-minute-and-fifty-seconds of rage in ‘This Decision’ and its accompanying mind-scrambling video, signaling the return of the Lancaster psych-punk duo. The single reached number #1 in both the physical and vinyl charts and was hammered by DJs at BBC 6 Music including Iggy Pop, Marc Riley, Steve Lamacq, Chris Hawkins, Gideon Coe, Tom Robinson and John Kennedy at Radio X. Not a bad start to their year, at all.

                                  ‘I am Moron’ is their second album to be co-produced and mixed by Dave Fridmann (The Flaming Lips, MGMT, Tame Impala) and continues their journey through Eggland into the unknown, with artwork by genius artist and video director Casey Raymond, who has the unbridled talent to perfectly visualize The Lovely Eggs sound, spewing Eggland out in a swirling whirlpool of dayglo colours, melting faces and symbols.

                                  Throughout their 13-year career, The Lovely Eggs have embraced isolation. Both metaphorically and geographically the married couple have chosen to shun the social conventions of normal life and dedicated their band and their life to the pursuit of what feels right.

                                  Operating out of their hometown of Lancaster, The Lovely Eggs are lonely pioneers and self-confessed kings of idiocy. Working in an industry whose currency is money, success and nepotism, The Lovely Eggs want none of it. They call out everything fake and plastic about the music industry and demand you to re-evaluate on their terms.

                                  ‘I Am Moron’ was self recorded by the band in Lancaster (“The Twin Peaks of Northern England”) between Lancaster Musicians Co-op and their home. During the recording, Lancaster Musicians Co-op was threatened with closure, so the band put their album on hold to fight the eviction.

                                  While the band were writing the album, they became fascinated by the Mars One program- a global project which aims to establish a permanent human settlement on Mars. Applicants are offered a one-way ticket- never to see earth again. This fascinated Holly and David who drew parallels between this mission and their own isolation as a band.

                                  Continuing the heaviness of ‘This is Eggland’. ‘I am Moron’ brings more depth to their sound bringing with it a mix of heavy psych, pop and strangeness. Some songs flicker between an earthly realism and the otherworldly loneliness of a one-way space mission. While in contrast, ‘Insect Repellent’ launches a gonzo-style attack against the middle classes and Bearpit questions the essence of working-class freedom.

                                  With no booking agent, manager, record label or publisher The Lovely Eggs are truly independent. And this isn’t due to economics. This is by design. From day one. And support for them is snowballing. They are selling out bigger and bigger venues and more eggheads are joining them in their crusade against bullshit.

                                  Welcome to their world. This Is Eggland!

                                  STAFF COMMENTS

                                  says: Even a global pandemic can't stop the infectious punk drive and soaring snarling groove of Lancaster's The Lovely Eggs from taking your worries and smashing them into a thousand pieces, as 'I Am Moron' deftly illustrates. Rawkous, wry politicism, chanting punk-rock ethics and HUGE sounds, defying all the odds with only two people in the band.

                                  Tame Impala (Kevin Parker) has officially announced his fourth studio album, The Slow Rush out via Fiction Records. The Slow Rush was recorded between Los Angeles and Parker’s studio in his hometown of Fremantle, Australia. The twelve tracks were recorded, produced and mixed by Parker. The Slow Rush is Parker’s deep dive into the oceans of time, conjuring the feeling of a lifetime in a lightning bolt, of major milestones whizzing by while you’re looking at your phone, it’s a paean to creation and destruction and the unending cycle of life. Parker told the New York Times earlier this year, “A lot of the songs carry this idea of time passing, of seeing your life flash before your eyes, being able to see clearly your life from this point onwards. I’m being swept by this notion of time passing. There’s something really intoxicating about it.” The album cover was created in collaboration with photographer Neil Krug and features a symbol of humanity all but swallowed whole by the surrounding environment, as though in the blink of an eye.

                                  Tame Impala is Kevin Parker. His last album Currents was released in 2015 earning him a BRIT Award for Best International Group, a second GRAMMY nomination and went platinum in Australia, Gold in the USA, Canada, UK, France, Netherlands and Belgium, and enjoyed word-wide critical acclaim. The New York Times labeled it a "a tour de force" and Pitchfork said, "nearly every proper song on 'Currents' is a revelatory statement of Parker's range and increasing expertise as a producer, arranger, songwriter, and vocalist while maintaining the essence of Tame Impala." NPR noted, "[Parker] advocates for constant reinvention... That commitment to evolution helps make Tame Impala an unlikely but worthy candidate for major stardom."


                                  FORMAT INFORMATION

                                  2xColoured LP 2 Info: Limited edition cream coloured double vinyl (180 gram).
                                  Colour print gatefold sleeve, printed inner sleeves.

                                  2xLP Info: Standard double black vinyl, includes folded A3 poster.

                                  29 - Doves

                                  The Universal Want

                                    In a tumultuous 2020, the re-emergence of Doves with new music has provided a shaft of light in an otherwise brooding sky, finally landing their fifth album, The Universal Want, after an eleven-year artistic break.

                                    The equally ecstatic and relieved response from fans and critics to the first track to emerge, Carousels, during the final, confusing throws of the UK and Europe’s strict COVID-19 lockdown in June, proved how desperately their idiosyncratic sense of euphoric melancholy was, and is, needed. Catching many off-guard, Doves unleashed a track of unfathomable depth, unfurling rich and unpredictable pockets of sound, twisted round a sample of the great Tony Allen at his very best.

                                    “This place is wild at heart and weird on top, you just couldn’t make it up,” said Jimi Goodwin, surveying the world through his window while a global pandemic was taking root in late-March 2020. Paraphrasing Laura Dern’s character, Lula Pace Fortune in the 1990, David Lynch film Wild At Heart, Goodwin hits on the Lynchian-obsessions shared by all three Doves. Himself, Andy (drums/vocals) and Jez Williams (guitars/programming/vocals) would often find themselves hosting impromptu post-rave, home screenings in the early 1990s.

                                    By quoting the film, the lead singer and bassist of the twice Mercury-nominated band also, accidentally, expresses what everyone else was feeling at the time of disorientation, fear and hope. Doves have a longstanding habit of doing just that.

                                    First emerging in 1998 with the release of their debut, vinyl-only Cedar EP, Doves’ first album, Lost Souls (2000), received both press and award-panel praise, before Number One follow-up, The Last Broadcast (2002) provided the trio with a major breakthrough, offering with the hit singles, There Goes The Fear and Pounding. Straight-to-Number One follow up, Some Cities (2005) and the difficult birth of the much-loved Kingdom of Rust (2009) appeared to complete a perfect legacy if the hiatus the band called in 2010 lasted longer than anyone hoped. It certainly lasted longer than the band had expected. “It’s bizarre how quickly life just passes,” says Goodwin, reflecting on the years that turned into a decade.

                                    The story of The Universal Want, the title itself and other tracks such as Prisoners giving an impression of the band’s disdain towards the consumerist illusion, starts in a rented house in England’s Peak District during secret, unintended writing sessions in 2017. Joining the dots, band historians note that it came a full year before announcing their live return and 18 months before they appeared together publicly. That they were a creative force once more was a near impossible secret to keep, as they worked between studios in the North West and the Midlands.

                                    Andy Williams describes the excitement of the sessions, saying: “There were times when we felt an indescribable buzz. It was a breeze compared to ‘Kingdom Of Rust’, with one of the nicest things being just hanging out. We were never that far apart; I’d call Jimi every month. We’re too closely tied to have lost contact; I’d miss them.”

                                    Refusing once more to fall into predictable, guitar-bass-drums, ‘plug in and play’ dynamics, The Universal Want’s overwhelming sense of intrigue owes everything to Doves’ three decades experience at the wheel of their band (a lifespan going back to their time as dance band, Sub Sub), and an autobiographical trip through the sounds of their own lives. From seaside amusements (Carousels) and the remembered heat of acid house (Universal Want) to the aimless summer days of youth (Forest House), each song sets a new reel running to show fragments of their lives and, in turn, those of their listeners. Shadows of Bowie, rare 70’s soul, Detroit House and Afrobeat are cast subtly across the shapeshifting album.

                                    Cycle Of Hurt’s, disembodied mantra of ‘it’s a trap’, finds the band once more concerned with finding freedom in a cynical, aspirational age. A band that respects creativity itself, allowing the process to meander, it wasn’t, and isn’t their intention to write a manifesto rallying against vapid consumer culture. “When it comes to themes,” says Jez “we always find a very collaborative way forward. It’s all quite subconscious. It’s only when you look back that you can see the threads linking the songs.” 


                                    STAFF COMMENTS

                                    says: It's been plenty long enough since a new Doves album, and this one hits all of the high notes we'd expect. Superb melodies, brilliant songwriting and a crystal clear narrative throughout. It's a brilliant return after eleven years, and one we've been sorely needing.

                                    FORMAT INFORMATION

                                    Coloured LP Info: Indie stores exclusive white coloured vinyl, gatefold sleeve, printed inners and download card.

                                    LP Info: Heavyweight black vinyl, gatefold sleeve, printed inners, download card.

                                    CD Info: Minpack, 16 page booklet.

                                    Ltd Box Set Info: Lenticular Cover of album artwork on box.
                                    Ex Picture Disc LP
                                    Cassette (limited to box set only)
                                    High quality 12 x 12 prints (art)
                                    Digital Download Code
                                    Numbered Limited Edition
                                    Set of 5 postcard prints using album/single artwork
                                    Remix LP - 12” LP featuring two Doves Remixes (A/B)

                                    30 - Widowspeak

                                    Plum

                                      With Plum, the songwriting partnership rooted in the creative rapport between bandleader Molly Hamilton and guitarist Robert Earl Thomas continues to expand on shared visions, delving deeper into what was always there: dusty guitars, ear-worm melodies, warm expansive arrangements. Each entry to their catalog has marked a subtle reimagining of Widowspeak’s sound, though perennial points of reference remain the same: 90's dream pop, 60's psych rock, a certain unshakeable Pacific-Northwestness. Speaking to the timeless feeling of each, the albums continue to be discovered well beyond their respective PR cycles, made beloved by new listeners through word of mouth.

                                      The band’s fifth album feels comfortable and lived-in: humble in structure, heavy on mood. Perhaps that came taking time off from the touring grind, instead working full-time jobs and settling into the rhythm of daily life in a small upstate New York town. Plum was recorded over a handful of weekends last winter by Sam Evian (Cass McCombs, Kazu Makino, Hannah Cohen) at his Flying Cloud studio in the Catskills, and was mixed by Ali Chant (PJ Harvey, Aldous Harding, Perfume Genius). In addition to Hamilton (vocals, guitar) and Thomas (guitars, bass, synth), it features instrumental contributions by Andy Weaver (drums), Michael Hess (piano), and Sam himself (bass, synth). Plum nestles into the band’s canon like it was always there, but with new textures coming to the fore, like the polyrhythmic pulse of "Amy" and "The Good Ones", or the watery, Terry Riley-influenced track "Jeanie".

                                      Plum navigates the spaces between the lesser emotions of modern life. Hamilton’s lyrics speak to the unique turmoil of anyone who creates as their work, who must somehow survive off such "fruits of their labor." Yet, Widowspeak have always made a bitter pill much easier to swallow. The majestic "Breadwinner", the luminous "Even True Love" – these songs here were made to be listened to, enjoyed. "Money" is particularly hypnotic, built around a repeating, cyclical motif that serves as both skeleton and body. "Will you get back what you put in?" Hamilton asks over an insistent guitar riff. The line is delivered with a knowingness that transcends its surface critiques of late-stage capitalism, asking both herself and the listener whether this is, in fact, the world we want to live in. Through Plum, Widowspeak have brought something into the world that seems to know its own worth, even as it wonders aloud about what is to come. What value and meaning do we assign ourselves, our time, and how do we spend it?

                                      STAFF COMMENTS

                                      says: Widowspeak mix the swooning, airy aspects of country with drifting melodic twists and a gorgeous, heady production aesthetic. A rewarding and heartening experience, exactly as you'd expect from such stellar talent, and a perfect fit for Captured Tracks.

                                      FORMAT INFORMATION

                                      Dinked Edition LP Info: • Exclusive Green LP.
                                      • 2 x exclusive art prints 2 by illustrator Nick Dahler.
                                      • Signed & numbered.
                                      • Limited pressing of 400.

                                      Coloured LP Info: Limited Edition White Vinyl.

                                      English songsmith Douglas Dare returns with his third and most stripped back studio album to date, "Milkteeth". Produced by Mike Lindsay - founding member of Tunng and one half of LUMP with Laura Marling - in his studio in Margate in just twelve days, "Milkteeth" sees Douglas become confident and comfortable enough with his own identity to reflect on both the joys and pains of youth. In doing so, he has established himself as a serious 21st century singer-songwriter with an enduring lyrical poise and elegant minimalist sound.

                                      Douglas Dare grew up on a farm as the youngest member of a large extended family, where he was often found in his own private world, dancing in his mother’s pink ballet dress. 'Only now do I feel free to express my inner child again, and am giving myself permission to play dress up,' says Dare of Milkteeth’s cover shot, in which he wears soft makeup and is draped with layers of white linen, acting the part of a Greek muse. 'I never felt like I fit in. I was different, odd. I wanted to dance and sing and dress up and on a small farm in rural Dorset that really stuck out.'

                                      Where previously he has been known as a piano player, for "Milkteeth" Dare picked up a new instrument, the autoharp, and as soon as he sat down with it, songs poured out – he wrote the album’s first single "Silly Games", in under an hour. 'Instinctual feelings about childhood and innocence were the catalyst,' he explains. 'Then with the autoharp, it all just clicked – I could see the album laid out ahead of me.'

                                      Dare’s music speaks of his own experiences of universal themes like love, loss, and childhood. Perhaps most importantly, his music gives a voice and a sanctuary to anyone who’s ever felt unusual or out of place. Whether he’s singing of the pain of those in the Magdalene Laundries as on Whelm, describing coming out to his parents on Aforger, or processing his own childhood isolation on Milkteeth, Dare has a graceful honesty and an abiding clarity of vision in his simple and distinctive sound.


                                      STAFF COMMENTS

                                      says: Tender ballads of loss and hope, brittle instrumentation and Dare's rich syrupy vocals combine into an atmospherically rich but instrumentally minimalistic suite of heartfelt ballads and hypnotic, swimming bliss.

                                      FORMAT INFORMATION

                                      Love Record Stores LP Info: Limited edition with an alternative sleeve.

                                      Dinked Edition LP Info: Limited to 300 copies.
                                      Alternative cover art.
                                      Numbered.
                                      Coloured Vinyl.

                                      Indies Exclusive LP Info: Ltd 500 indies only clear vinyl.

                                      32 - Sports Team

                                      Deep Down Happy

                                        Here’s the thing…Sports Team are a band of six singular characters who have been variously described as one of the most raucous, electrifying and chaotic acts in the UK. Today the band announce their debut album Deep Down Happy. The highly anticipated record, out on 3rd April, follows the acclaimed EPs, Winter Nets and Keep Walking!, and is their first release on the legendary Island Records label.

                                        Sports Team came up on the back of word of mouth live hype, drawing round the block queues to chaotic early gigs at The Five Bells and Moth Club before releasing any music. Recording their first EP (Winter Nets) in a converted Timberyard in Hammersmith, the band have consistently set themselves apart from the acts they came up playing with, showing an intoxicating ambition, and their debut album Deep Down Happy, looks set to deliver on all bold claims, and confirm their place at the head of a group of young guitar acts.

                                        Talking about the record charismatic frontman Alex Rice says: “I don’t think we were conscious of doing it but the album maps the journey of moving in together in Harlesden, moving back to home towns to sleep on floors for 18 months, then coming back to London, weighing up whether being in a band with your mates, being young in London is still the best thing in the world. I think it probably is.”


                                        STAFF COMMENTS

                                        says: Ace raucous indie-pop, London based six-piece Sports Team finally release their debut album after a plethora of singles, and it doesn't disappoint. Spiky indie guitars, furious driving rhythms and off-kilter melodies.

                                        33 - Other Lives

                                        For Their Love

                                          The much loved Portland band Other Lives return after five years away following 2015’s ‘Rituals’.

                                          Recorded at their own Cooper Mountain Sound studios, ‘For Their Love’ is a ten track collection that nods to the past whilst progressing positively towards the future.

                                          The band have a loyal following across the UK, as seen by their social engagement.


                                          STAFF COMMENTS

                                          says: Other Lives return with their fourth and greatest record yet. ‘For Their Love’ combines their dark and doomy, widescreen baroque rock with the best set of songs they’ve written so far. Well worth the wait.

                                          34 - Silverbacks

                                          Fad

                                            With taut rhythms of 70s punk and the freak-outs of NYC no-wave, Silverbacks craft a signature sound spiked with triple guitar riffs and on-the-pulse lyrics.

                                            Silverbacks are a 5-piece band from Dublin, Ireland. Taking their cues from the taut rhythms and urgent drive of late 70s punk and the discordant, unpredictable freak-outs of NYC no wave, they craft a signature sound spiked with triple guitar riffs, a motorik rhythm section and on-the-pulse lyrics.

                                            The band have independently released a string of singles produced by Girl Band bassist Daniel Fox, beginning in 2018 with Dunkirk and Just In The Band, each of which drew support on both sides of the Atlantic. 2019 saw the arrival of follow-up tracks Pink Tide, and then Sirens, which was part of a double A side 7-inch released with second single Drool by UK independent label Nice Swan Records in January 2020. These single releases were backed by festival appearances at Simple Things, Swn, Eurosonic and Electric Picnic, headline shows in the UK and Ireland and supporting Girl Band on their sold-out UK tour dates.

                                            Debut album Fad represents the sound of a band trying to make sense of a noisy and disjointed world - one that competes for your attention at every turn. For them, it has come to be a symbol of what it feels like to try and absorb the world through both fleeting moments in front of screens, and prolonged obsessive periods filled with focus. They pull apart pop-culture in search of new meaning, whether it’s a nod to The Simpsons (Fad 95), imagining a lost John Hughes film (Klub Silberrücken), spiralling downwards into youtube deep-dives (Pink Tide), or making sense of youth culture through The Urban Dictionary (Grinning At The Lid). Much in the same way that modern life can be defined by its unpredictability, Silverbacks colourful, vivid and exuberant songs dismantle their source material and end up in places that you don’t think they will.

                                            It can be heard in the spidering guitar lines of opening track Dunkirk, or Pink Tide’s Thin Lizzy-aping riffery, Fad 95’s overt Pavement influence, Up The Nurses’ Blondie injection or Last Orders’ The Fall-inspired tale of escapism. Grinning At The Lid’s huge gang vocal chorus even recalls New Fellas-era The Cribs. Elsewhere Just In The Band draws on tales of Bowie and Iggy Pop’s friendship, and Muted Gold – having sprouted from a time spent practising Afrobeat and highlife guitar techniques – shines a light on situations in which women are continually inundated with unsolicited advice.

                                            All over Fad are the fingerprints of a band clawing their way through the remains of the day, seeing what there is to uncover.

                                            STAFF COMMENTS

                                            says: There's a definite NYC vibe to their sound: Television, The Strokes and Parquet Courts all spring to mind as reference points, but there's more to them than just that. The shared vocal duties and interplay of their three guitarists (yes three!) creates a unique and compelling sound that might draw on art-rock, post-punk, math-rock or whatever else from the past but gives them a sound all of their own.

                                            FORMAT INFORMATION

                                            Coloured LP Info: Limited blue vinyl is for indies only.

                                            35 - BC Camplight

                                            Shortly After Takeoff

                                              “This is an examination of madness and loss,” says Brian Christinzio, the inimitable force behind BC Camplight. “I hope it starts a long overdue conversation.”

                                              Fired by his ongoing battle with mental illness, Shortly After Takeoff is the final, and finest, chapter of what Christinzio calls his “Manchester Trilogy”, following 2015’s “How To Die In The North” and 2018’s “Deportation Blues”. All three albums were created after the native Philadelphian had moved to Manchester. Like Deportation Blues, Shortly After Takeoff spans singer-songwriter classicism, gnarly synth-pop and ‘50s rock’n’roll, with Christinzio’s similarly distinctive, flexible vocal carrying a fearless approach to lyrical introspection, but the new album is a major leap forward in songwriting sophistication and lyrical communication.

                                              “It’s important to stress that this isn’t a redemption story,” he says. “I'm a guy who maybe lives a little hard and I’m in the thick of some heavy stuff. But as a result, I think I've made my best record.”

                                              The “heavy stuff” has come thick and fast for Christinzio. Just days before How To Die In The North was released, he was deported and banned from the UK because of visa issues. Estranged from his new home, his girlfriend and his dog, unable to promote his album and back home with his parents, Christinzio sunk deep into the dark. An Italian passport, care of his grandparents, eventually allowed him to re-settle in Manchester, but then just days before Deportation Blues was released, his father Angelo unexpectedly died.

                                              “I went into a spiral that was worse than any time since my twenties,” he recalls. Hence the title Shortly After Takeoff: the feeling of being suddenly thwarted by what life throws at you. Making matters worse was a neurological disorder that returned after years in remission: “I see TV static, and it messes with how my brain interprets everything from sound to my own feelings.”

                                              One way to process tragedy is comedy, which elevates Shortly After Takeoff to a heightened plateau, from grief-stricken vulnerability to armoured bravado, from the black dog of depression to gallows humour. None more so than ‘Ghosthunting’, which opens with an extraordinary (fabricated) passage of Christinzio doing a stand-up routine, centring on the memory of hallucinating his father’s ghost. “I want to drag the listener into this world and hopefully they question why they feel uneasy,” he explains.

                                              “I also wanted to make a record totally free of whimsy and irony, that was just clear and open and honest. I don’t think you really heard the chaos in Deportation Blues, but in Shortly After Takeoff, I can hear I’m finding undiscovered places to go, only because I was so lost. Lyrically, I wanted people to hear and understand me this time. Before, if I would have written about my father dying, I would have made up some weird bullshit, like an analogy about a tree shedding leaves or something. That Brian is gone. I have a direct line to the listener now. I have a direct line to myself too. It’s a benchmark moment for me.”

                                              Shortly After Takeoff ends with the gorgeously tender 93-second ‘Angelo’, “a little fleeting moment for my dad. I wanted his name on the album, and something that sounded like a goodbye. It ends with the drums, like a heartbeat stopping…”

                                              That’s Christinzio and Shortly After Takeoff: his best, most honest, open and frequently heartbreaking record.

                                              STAFF COMMENTS

                                              says: Surely this must finally be the record which brings Brian Christinzio the attention he deserves. He is simply an incredible melodicist and creates tracks full of surprising twists and unusual turns. Dark, crazy but funnily inspirational lyrics are offset against the sweetest voice and catchiest songs you’ll hear all year. Just brilliant.

                                              FORMAT INFORMATION

                                              Love Record Stores LP Info: Red coloured vinyl.

                                              Coloured LP Info: Clear vinyl.

                                              Coloured LP includes MP3 Download Code.

                                              36 - Andy Bell

                                              The View From Halfway Down

                                                Ride guitarist/singer Andy Bell releases his debut solo album The View From Halfway Down on October 9. The product of a gradual, four-year process and finished during lockdown, the album was entirely written and recorded by Andy, engineered by Gem Archer and mastered by Heba Kadry.

                                                Back in 2016, Andy was inspired by David Bowie’s death to be more proactive about finishing his songs, more confident about sharing them and to channel all of this into finally making a solo album. He laid down some tracks in former Beady Eye and Oasis bandmate Gem’s studio, but got diverted when Ride’s live reunion blossomed into a full return. A run of two albums, an EP and two world tours later, it would take a pandemic to give Andy the space to complete The View From Halfway Down.

                                                “I’ve always wanted to make a solo album, I’ve always said I would do it, although I never imagined it happening like, or sounding like, this one does,” explains Andy. “I’d been sitting on this pile of almost finished tracks, along with all the other hundreds of ideas that had fallen by the wayside since I’ve been making music. Lockdown gave me the opportunity to find a way to present it to the world.

                                                “The album is not about songwriting. There aren’t many verses or choruses, because this album is about sounds, a listening experience.”

                                                From the ecstatic psych pop of ‘Love Comes In Waves’, to the heady loops of ‘Indica’ and deeply groove-led ‘Skywalker’, the eight tracks mix summery melodies with soundscapes and studio experimentation. The end result sits neatly between Ride’s widescreen shoegaze and GLOK’s textured electronics, variously inspired by The Stone Roses, Spacemen 3, The Beatles, The Byrds, The Beta Band, Stereolab, Neu!, Can, John Fahey, The Kinks, The La’s, The Who and the United States Of America.

                                                As for the album title, it comes from a particularly dark episode of BoJack Horseman and a poem that scriptwriter Alison Tafel wrote for the penultimate show. The spoiler-free version of the story goes like this: “The poem describes someone committing suicide by jumping to their death and the regret the protagonist experiences when he sees ‘the view from halfway down’. Although, of course, it’s too late to change what’s going to happen. I read this poem as having a message of suicide prevention: if you could see the view from halfway down, you would never go through with anything that would end your life. I’ve never been suicidal, but I felt really moved by this brilliant poem when I watched the show during Ride’s US tour in Autumn 2019. It’s an incredible message.

                                                “There was a small kind of a parallel with me, sitting at home in London in March 2020. In the early stages of lockdown, you could feel the tension in the air, causing what felt like a global panic attack. But, in common with what I’ve heard from others who can experience anxiety for no reason in their everyday lives, I felt strangely calm in the midst of all of this, seeing things in my life very clearly. Such clarity allowed me to finally compile this record. In a way, to see my life flash before me and be able to curate moments of it into a 40-minute listening experience, then find a title that would fit.

                                                “My upcoming 50th brought everything more sharply into focus. If you imagine that my entire life was a freefall jump to my death, and you were feeling optimistic about me reaching 100 like my Gran did and getting a telegram from the Queen, this album would be ‘the view from halfway down’.”

                                                So there you have it. The near death of a cartoon anti-hero and the actual death of a music legend, feeling the calm within a global pandemic and a musical turning point halfway through life all add up to one glorious, technicolour whole.

                                                STAFF COMMENTS

                                                says: 'The View...' is a beautifully meditative, slowly unfolding journey from the mind of Andy Bell. Layers of reverb and delay follow the carefully picked riffs and shifting walls of sound. It's an album for really sitting down and listening all the way through, and in the current climate, that's a perfect thing. Lovely stuff.

                                                FORMAT INFORMATION

                                                Coloured LP Info: Blue vinyl.

                                                37 - Rose City Band

                                                Summerlong

                                                  It is impossible to talk about modern psychedelic music without mentioning Ripley Johnson. As bandleader of Wooden Shjips and half of Moon Duo, Johnson has continually charted new cosmic paths that expand on the language of the genre. With Rose City Band, Johnson’s songwriting and beautiful guitar lines take center stage. While his vocal treatment would be recognizable to any Wooden Shjips fan, the sparseness of the instrumentation lays bare the beauty of his writing. Shimmering guitar lines are free to shine, buoyed by driving rhythms. New to the mix are arrangements and instruments drawn directly from classic country, resulting in songs with more than a hint of twang. Buoyant and joyous, Summerlong is a captivating listen that leaves the listener yearning for more. The record is an ode to freedom, born of a musician stepping out of all routines and whose own liberation is communicated so completely in his music. Summerlong is a record that, taken in its entirety, is an emphatic statement on the songwriting power of Ripley Johnson. Johnson’s joy in every aspect of this album is delightfully infectious.

                                                  Rose City Band started purely as a recording project, with Johnson’s role mostly obscured for the self-titled debut album. Released with no promotion, in the style of private press records, it was a liberating, a focus on music without any expectations. With a chuckle, Johnson elaborates, “I always would threaten to my friends that I’m gonna start a country rock band so I can retire and just play down at the pub every Thursday night during happy hour. I love being able to tour and travel, but I also like the idea of having a local band … more of a social music experience.” Freedom from expectation and obligation gave Johnson the space to experiment. The introduction of lap steel, mandolin, and jaw harp enhance Johnson’s lean guitar work with radiant overtones, placing Summerlong more overtly within the country tradition than its predecessor. Work on the album began at Johnson’s home studio in Portland during the summer, but, interrupted by touring, was not be finished until winter. The dark isolation of winter and the pining for summer’s easier days can be felt in the album’s few quieter moments. Summerlong was mixed by John McEntire (Stereolab, Broken Social Scene, Tortoise) at his newly minted Portland Soma Studios and mastered by Amy Dragon at Telegraph Mastering, also based in Portland.

                                                  The aptly named Summerlong, born of Johnson’s own fondness for the season, delivers an emotional lift—an expression akin to the joy of getting out there on a warm day, be it gathering for a BBQ, hopping onto a bike, leaping into a swimming hole, or simply reading in a park.

                                                  STAFF COMMENTS

                                                  says: Ripley Johnson once again brings the good stuff for his second album under this moniker. Swooning guitars and hazy atmospheric ambience underpin the solid backdrop of Ripley's sweet vocal delivery and syrupy, languid melodies. It's an enchanting and evocative collection, and one that continues the (very high) reputation set by last years' eponymous debut.

                                                  FORMAT INFORMATION

                                                  Love Record Stores LP Info: Buttercup Colour vinyl.

                                                  Coloured LP Info: Clear / orange / blue vinyl.

                                                  "I feel like 'Home' is a second part of the same book, that the start was in 'Esja', a musical prelude to a real plot. I feel Home is a story with an ending, so the next book can tell a totally different one. I am constantly looking for new ways of expression. I am curious where 'Home' will lead me and my music". — Hania Rani

                                                  Hania Rani is a pianist, composer and musician who, was born in Gdansk and splits her life between Warsaw, where she makes her home, and Berlin where she studied and often works. Her debut album 'Esja', a beguiling collection of solo piano pieces on Gondwana Records was released to international acclaim on April 5th 2019 including nominations in 5 categories in the Polish music industries very own Grammys, the Fryderyki, and winning the Discovery of the Year 2019 in the Empik chain's Bestseller Awards and the prestigious Sanki award for the most interesting new face of Polish music chosen by Polish journalists. Rani also composed the music for her first full length movie "I Never Cry" directed by Piotr Domalewski and for the play "Nora" directed by Michał Zdunik. Her song "Eden" was used as a soundtrack of a short movie by Małgorzata Szumowska for Miu Miu's movie cycle "Women's Tales"

                                                  If the compositions on Esja were born out of a fascination with the piano as an instrument, then her follow-up, the expansive, cinematic, 'Home', finds Rani expanding her palate: adding vocals and subtle electronics to her music as well as being joined on some tracks by bassist Ziemowit Klimek and drummer Wojtek Warmijak. The album reunites her with recording engineers, Piotr Wieczorek and Ignacy Gruszecki (Monochrom Studio) and the tracks were again mixed again by Gijs van Klooster in his studio in Amsterdam and by Piotr Wieczorek in Warsaw ( Ombelico and Come Back Home). Home was mastered by Zino Mikorey in Berlin (known for his work on albums by artists such as Nils Frahm and Olafur Arnalds).

                                                  For Rani, 'Home', is very much a continuation of the work she started on 'Esja', "the completion of the sentence" as she puts it. The album offers a metaphorical journey: the story of places that become our home sometimes by chance, sometimes by choice. It is the story of leaving a place that is familiar and the journey that follows it. Home opens with the fragment of the short story "Loneliness" by Bruno Schulz, which can be seen as a parable of a journey that does not necessarily mean going beyond the physical door but can signify going beyond the symbolic limits of our knowledge and imagination.

                                                  "One can be lost but can find home in his inner part - which can mean many things - soul, imagination, mind, intuition, passion. I strongly believe that when being in uncertain times and living an unstable life we can still reach peace with ourselves and be able to find 'home' anywhere' This is what I would like to express with my music - one can travel the whole world but not see anything. It is not where we are going but how much we are able to see and hear things happening around us". — Hania Rani

                                                  Home is also about the inevitability of change. We never find places exactly how we left them. Time flies and life with it. Just like art and music. Once you started the trip, you will never be back really to the place where you started with. It is a sentiment that is at the heart of Home, not just its themes, but at the heart of Rani's music too. Following the success of Esja it would have been easy for her to stick to the same solo piano formula, but while Rani expresses her surprise and gratitude for the success of Esja, "I wasn't sure how this album - based on Piano and silence - will be received by the audience. The reception was a big surprise to me" it has also given her the confidence to express more of herself as an artist. On Home Rani steps into more of a producer's role, adding strings, bass and drums where needed, exploring the sounds of synths and electronica, but also creating textured layered songs made from acoustic samples, mostly from piano recordings. "I try to explore new genres and discover new artists, I don't want to be stuck in things that I know, I want to learn about things that are still new to me". But perhaps most notable is her singing, Rani has a fragile, beautiful voice, both pure and expressive. Long a feature of her live shows she uses it as another instrument, adding extra layers of melody and emotion to her already deeply expressive music.

                                                  "I consider voice as another instrument. Maybe if I wasn't so often alone on the stage, I would take another instrument to play the melody that I have in my mind. But while I am alone, singing allows me to have more possibilities at the same time. The human voice has a real magic, nothing carries emotions as easily and powerfully as the voice, and I think being able to bring this atmosphere on stage opens up new possibilities of expression for me". — Hania Rani


                                                  Home also features Rani's new band, bassist Ziemowit Klimek and drummer Wojtek Warmijak who appear on some of the albums stand out tracks, the beguiling single 'Leaving', the title track 'Home', atmospheric 'Tennen' and the beautiful 'I'll Never Find Your Soul'. After working and touring alone Rani begin to feel stuck with her own ideas and thoughts, and sounds. It was a prolific period for her compositionally, writing the music on Home, but also a film score and music for the theatre, but she felt that someone else's vision might bring new ideas to things that she already knew. Shortly before she was about to record Home she attended a concert of the young Polish jazz trio, Immortal Onion, in Gdańsk, her hometown. She liked what she heard and sked the double bassist and a drummer if they wanted to meet and something clicked. They spent most of the next week improvising and jamming on her music. This gave a whole new insight for some of the songs and brought new ideas for arrangements. And having enjoyed working together on the album Rani is looking forward to touring with the boys.

                                                  "Touring with band is a totally different thing, way more challenging technically, but it also brings a new energy and new sound possibilities. I am very curious how we will manage to bring the album to life. I would like to keep the show balanced - mixing the new textures of Home with the atmosphere of minimalistic songs from Esja." — Hania Rani

                                                  For Rani, this sense of exploring is a key part of her art. But it isn't only the music, Rani is keenly interested in art and architecture (as anyone who follows her exquisitely curated Instagram feed will know) and how her music works in the wider world.

                                                  "I try to keep my eyes and ears wide open. What I want to master in my art is how to build the right atmosphere on stage, in recordings. To do this you need to be aware of many aspects - not only music, but also the full range of gestures, acoustics, visual aspect. I want to learn how to bring particular atmosphere and bring people to a specific space. I observe how music works in different contexts, how the feeling of sound changes in different acoustics, space, light conditions. The same thing happens with artwork that I share. I feel like everything of what I am bringing to the the world and sharing with others has an impact of reception my music. If we are an inseparable part of the ecosystem, then the music should be considered similarly." — Hania Rani

                                                  The album's distinctive cover artwork was designed by the architect Łukasz Pałczyński, who combined his sketches with the stills from the music video for the song Leaving shot by her regular collaborators Mateusz Miszczyński and Jakub Stoszek in Greece and together with Rani's music and vision it is this sense of collaboration that gives Home it's power as Rani starts to give full expression to her own unique vision and perhaps the most exciting thing is that it is just another step on her journey, one that we are all lucky to be a part of!

                                                  STAFF COMMENTS

                                                  says: Rani adds ghostly vocals, subtle synths and a healthy dose of echo to her already-distinctive neo-classical soundscapes, creating something as haunting as it is heartbreaking.

                                                  FORMAT INFORMATION

                                                  2xColoured LP Info: Limited 500x only edition on Clear vinyl, printed in reverse board wide spine sleeve with printed insert

                                                  2xLP Info: Double black vinyl, printed in reverse board wide spine sleeve with printed insert

                                                  39 - Nadine Shah

                                                  Kitchen Sink

                                                    Kitchen Sink follows up Shah's Hyundai Mercury Prize nominated 2017 album Holiday Destination which received critical acclaim including AIM Awards 'Independent Album of the Year', a #7 'Album of the Year' from BBC 6 Music and #5 from The Quietus as well as prominent positions in lists from Loud and Quiet and The Line of Best Fit.

                                                    With the same ferocious determination and distinct voice Shah now turns her sights closer to home with an album that explores her own story as a woman in her 30's and the societal pressures and expectations that come with that. Jovial and playful at times, unblinkingly daring at others - Kitchen Sink is bursting with Shah’s beloved personality while simultaneously refusing to compromise on the social commentary that she continues to deliver so fearlessly. Once again produced by Shah’s long time collaborator Ben HillIer.

                                                    STAFF COMMENTS

                                                    says: Nadine's superb fourth album is an atmospheric blend of warm PJ Harvey style vocals, moody guitars and groovey rhythms. The album is an razor-sharp observational piece on the expectations of a woman in her 30's and all the pressures that come with it.

                                                    FORMAT INFORMATION

                                                    Indies Exclusive LP Info: RSD Stores exclusive Orange LP.

                                                    40 - Grasshopper

                                                    Scuttle

                                                      Salt-bitten post-punk and ethereal introspection from Brighton's grasshopper (small ‘g’).

                                                      The culmination of eight years of playing together, 'SCUTTLE' features nine blistering and beautiful tracks filtered through the well-reverbed ears of Cure producer David M Allen. Ranging from the urgent and growling - as on 'I Think It's Time to Wake Up Now' and live favourite 'Backwards' - to the almost supernatural melancholy of album closers 'Hymn' and 'The Great Unravelling', 'SCUTTLE' is every bit as vital, original, and distinct as the seminal post-punk albums preceding it.

                                                      STAFF COMMENTS

                                                      says: Stylish post-punk with noir-ish and gothy undertones, Grasshopper’s blanket of sonic claustrophobia impresses and arrests. Though sporting technicoloured hair, lead singer Javi’s lyrics are shaded with multitude blacks and greys; vivid, existential and inner-gazing, with stark and sharp motifs and phrases that’ll circulate your mind long after the album’s completion.

                                                      FORMAT INFORMATION

                                                      LP Info: LP includes booklet and download code.
                                                      Second pressing.

                                                      41 - Richard Norris

                                                      Elements

                                                        Hypnotic sequences, majestic drones and deep listening ambience collide on a new album from Richard Norris entitled ‘Elements’.

                                                        The five long tracks use warm, pulsing electronics and washes of synthesiser to create an evocative and widescreen sound.

                                                        Electronic Sound magazine called Richard “the electronic musician’s electronic musician’, whilst Time Out New York referred to him as an ‘unhinged sonic magician’ He has a deep and broad history spanning decades of electronic culture, which serves him well on ‘Elements’.

                                                        His background includes working alongside Soft Cell’s Dave Ball in the Grid, alongside Erol Alkan in Beyond The Wizards Sleeve, and collaborating and mixing countless artists including Brian Eno, Sun Ra, Robert Fripp, Warpaint, Tame Impala, Joe Strummer, Yello and many more. He has also recently released two deep listening ambient albums entitled ‘Abstractions’ on the Group Mind label, as well as a series of weekly 20 minute pieces called ‘Music For Healing’ during lockdown.


                                                        STAFF COMMENTS

                                                        says: Now THIS is exactly up my street. Slowly morphing arpeggios and modulated filters work their way around a solid rhythmic backbone, bringing to mind some of the early pioneers of Kosmische synthesis, or more recently, Panabrite. Beautiful.

                                                        FORMAT INFORMATION

                                                        Dinked Edition LP Info: • Exclusive picture disc.
                                                        • Gatefold sleeve.
                                                        • Hand Numbered.
                                                        • Limited to 300 copies.
                                                        • Custom Dinked sticker.

                                                        LP Info: Black vinyl edition.

                                                        42 - Craven Faults

                                                        Erratics & Unconformities

                                                        Erratics & Unconformities is the first album by Craven Faults. It follows three EPs: Netherfield Works, Springhead Works and Nunroyd Works. Long-form analogue electronic journeys across decades and continents, and swathes of post-industrial northern Britain.

                                                        The journey on Erratics & Unconformities picks up where Netherfield Works left off. We take the canal towpath out of the city. We fork north shortly afterwards. Is this where it started? The terrain gradually becomes more rugged. Familiar. Wild. Evidence of human activity is less immediate in this glacial landscape. It’s there if you seek it. But easy to ignore. If you listen carefully, you can still hear the weight of the ice-sheet carving its way through the rock.

                                                        Everything in its own time. The output from the old textile mill Craven Faults calls home is no longer as linear as it once was. There was no clear start point for the project, rather simply rediscovering the joy in experimentation with no material goals. Some of the recordings that make up Erratics & Unconformities go back almost seven years. Tracks have come and gone in that time. They don’t leave until they’ve undertaken a stringent quality control process. It started slowly, but has picked up momentum in the last eighteen months. Recorded and re-recorded to the correct level of imperfection, and then left to breathe. Mixed and re-mixed. Carefully compiled when the time was right.

                                                        The journey is just as important as the destination.


                                                        STAFF COMMENTS

                                                        says: In a kinda Will Bevan / Burial type fiesco, Craven Faults has got us all eagerly scratching our heads trying to work out who this post-industrial-obsessed Northerner could possibly be! The music is phenomenal, glacial electronics conjuring desolate sonic canvasses of a forgotten North.

                                                        FORMAT INFORMATION

                                                        Love Record Stores LP Info: Love Record Stores exclusive double black vinyl LP in gatefold sleeve with 20-page 12” square photography booklet to mark 'Erratics & Unconformities' inclusion in LRS’s Albums of the Year campaign. Limited to 250 copies.

                                                        43 - Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs

                                                        Viscerals

                                                          “I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig” reasoned George Bernard Shaw. “You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.” True to form, Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs have left the wiser of us aware that they are no band to be messed with. This is made manifest on ‘Viscerals’, their third proper, and an enormous leap forward in confidence, adventure and sheer intensity even from their 2018 breakthrough ‘King Of Cowards’.

                                                          Incisive in its riff-driven attack, infectiously catchy in its songcraft and more intrepid than ever in its experimental approach, ‘Viscerals’ is the sound of a leaner, more vicious Pigs, and one with their controls set way beyond the pulverising one-riff workouts of their early days. Yet Pigsx7 have effortlessly broadened their horizons and dealt with all these new avenues without sacrificing one iota of their trademark eccentricity, and the personality of this band has never been stronger, whether on the Sabbathian and philosophical warcry of ‘Reducer’, the debauched, Jane’s Addiction-tinged swagger of ‘Rubbernecker’, the Melvins vs Sonic Youth demoltion derby of ‘New Body’ or even the demented MBV-meets-Twisted-Sister party-banger from hell that is ‘Crazy In Blood’.

                                                          “We’re a peculiar bunch of people - a precarious balance of passion, intensity and the absurd” notes vocalist Matt Baty. Such is the unstoppable character of this unique and ever-porcine outfit; still the hungriest animals at the rock trough.

                                                          STAFF COMMENTS

                                                          says: There's little more fitting for our times than the grooving, distorted assault of Pigsx7. Encompassing the political leanings of hardcore and punk with the crisp, glacial distortion of more modern metal and the snarling vox of garage rock, all imbued with the cleverly written and melodically astute compositions of perfect rocking indie, the Pigs have once again proven that they have something to say, and you'll hear it whether you're listening or not (you should be listening).

                                                          FORMAT INFORMATION

                                                          Indies Exclusive LP Info: 'Blood And Guts vinyl' (Blood Red / Guts Yellow Swirl vinyl).

                                                          44 - Greg Foat

                                                          Symphonie Pacifique

                                                            Foat has become a versatile mainstay in UK jazz through an acclaimed series of albums on Jazzman and Athens Of The North, moving from soul-jazz workouts to library music to cinematic, haunting compositions and pastoral acid folk. ‘Symphonie Pacifique’ goes expansive and widescreen, building a lush soundscape using choral textures, harp and tubular bells on the atmospheric ‘After The Storm’ alongside sensual groove-based tracks like the undulating ‘Anticipation’, the album title track and Groove Merchant-channelling ‘Nikinakinu’, all driven by Phil Achille on bass, Eric Young on congas and Moses Boyd’s crisp, flowing breakbeats. Other tracks include a moving tribute to KPM library legend Duncan Lamont on the reflective ‘Lament For Lamont’ and the languid, simmering ‘Island Life’.

                                                            The album is a truly international collaboration, recorded analogue and produced by Greg Foat at London’s Fish Factory studios with strings recorded in Edinburgh and choir in Gothenburg. The album was mixed by Mattias Glava at Kungsten Studios in Gothenburg. Cover artwork is based on a painting by early 20th Century Algerian / Parisian artist Henry Valensi.

                                                            STAFF COMMENTS

                                                            says: Greg Foat has always had a firm place on the shop stereo, and 'Symphonie Pacifique' cements that likelihood with a swaying, filmic mash-up of syncopated hooks, frenetic percussion and effortless, jazzy cool. As perfectly redolent of the genre's past as it is it's future.

                                                            FORMAT INFORMATION

                                                            2xLP includes MP3 Download Code.

                                                            Wu Hen is the sophomore album from Peckham visionary Kamaal Williams -- an invitation to elevate to a higher state. Cinematic strings from Miguel-Atwood Ferguson and virtuoso saxophone from Quinn Mason are textural additions that make for a deeper, multi-layered experience than previous releases.

                                                            Bringing groove back to the forefront, Wu Hen oscillates between celestial jazz, funk, rap and r&b reinforced with the rugged beat-heavy attitude of grime, jungle, house and garage – a self-styled fusion Kamaal describes as Wu Funk.

                                                            New players on this record include LA’s Greg Paul on drums (of Kalayst Collective), Rick Leon James on bass, Quinn Mason on saxophone alongside a vocal feature from Kaytranada collaborator Lauren Faith. Multi-talented renaissance musician Miguel Atwood-Ferguson (who has worked with Ray Charles, Flying Lotus, Dr. Dre, Mary J. Blige, and Seu Jorge) contributes signature strings, which add vivid colour and rich depth, evoking vintage David Axelrod.

                                                            Kamaal rose to prominence with the hugely acclaimed Yussef Kamaal alongside drummer Yussef Dayes and a catalogue of 12”s for imprints such as MCDE, Eglo, and Rhythm Section as Henry Wu that became essential DJ tools. In 2018 he launched Black Focus Records with the Kamaal Williams debut The Return, which charted in the UK and saw sold out shows and festival appearances across Europe, North America and Asia.

                                                            STAFF COMMENTS

                                                            says: Frankly exceptional stuff here from Kamaal Williams on his sophomore album, 'Wu Hen'. I'm gonna drop that F-bomb (fusion...) but don't get it twisted, Henry blends jazz, soul, funk and r&b with the bottom end and rugged beat of grime, jungle, house and garage to create a little thing he likes to call 'Wu Funk'.

                                                            46 - Nils Frahm

                                                            Empty

                                                              To mark this year’s Piano Day and as an acknowledgement to these unprecedented circumstances we find ourselves in, Nils Frahm surprised the world with a collection of eight solo piano pieces, titled Empty, made available digitally on March 28. The highly anticipated physical editions on vinyl and CD are set for release via Erased Tapes on October 23, 2020.

                                                              Conceived of just before Nils broke his thumb and composed the similarly intimate solo piano album Screws, Empty is a soothing vessel of eight simple and serene pieces originally recorded as the music to a short art film he shot with his friend and film director Benoît Toulemonde. Drifting through emotions from the stark and sobering opener ‘First Defeat’, to the gently euphoric ‘No Step On Wing’ and the contemplative but hopeful closer ‘Black Notes’, with its poignant minute of silence, Empty is a comforting score for these turbulent times.

                                                              “When I came back from the hospital with a broken thumb and listened to the recordings, I felt they were unfinished. I decided to put them aside and started to work on my small album, Screws.

                                                              Many many other notes of the piano have been struck since these days, and before we all forget about this, I thought it would be a good moment to share these lullabies with you. I hope they help you stay all strong and calm in these days of solitude – despite the hardship, we can discover introspection and reflection unexpectedly. Who knows what it is good for.
                                                              Much love, Nils”

                                                              STAFF COMMENTS

                                                              says: Frahm is back! Returning to his much sought after piano-forte after a fruitful foray into synthland. ‘Empty’ is a hushed affair, gorgeously plaintive and brimming with the sort of atmospheric recording and room sounds which made 'Felt' such a beautiful success. Gorgeous.

                                                              47 - Thundercat

                                                              It Is What It Is

                                                                “It Is What It Is” was produced by Flying Lotus and Thundercat and features musical contributions from Ty Dolla $ign, Childish Gambino, Lil B, Kamasi Washington, Steve Lacy, Steve Arrington, BADBADNOTGOOD, Louis Cole and Zack Fox. The album follows his game-changing third album “Drunk” (2017). That record completed his transition from virtuoso bassist to bonafide star and cemented his reputation as a unique voice that transcends genre. “This album is about love, loss, life and the ups and downs that come with that,” Bruner says about “It Is What It Is”. “It’s a bit tongue-in-cheek, but at different points in life you come across places that you don’t necessarily understand… some things just aren’t meant to be understood.”

                                                                The unruly bounce of new single ‘Black Qualls’ is classic Thundercat, teaming up with Steve Lacy (The Internet) and Funk icon Steve Arrington (Slave). It’s another example of Stephen Lee Bruner’s desire to highlight the lineage of his music and pay his respects to the musicians who inspired him. Discovering Arrington’s output in his late teens, Bruner says he fell in love with his music immediately: “The tone of the bass, the way his stuff feels and moves, it resonated through my whole body.”

                                                                ‘Black Qualls’ emerged from writing sessions with Lacy, whom Thundercat describes as “the physical incarnate of the Ohio Players in one person - he genuinely is a funky ass dude”. It references what it means to be a black American with a young mindset: “What it feels like to be in this position right now… the weird ins and outs, we’re talking about those feelings… Part of me knew this [track] was where Steve [Arrington] left us.”

                                                                For fans of Kendrick Lamar, Childish Gambino, Flying Lotus, Kamasi
                                                                Washington, BADBADNOTGOOD.

                                                                STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                says: Thundercat is the definition of cool, I think we can all agree. ‘It Is What It Is’ confirmed this with the blend of funk, streaked with an electronic-fusion and unique boldness. Characteristically fast, energetic and unrelentingly stylish.

                                                                FORMAT INFORMATION

                                                                Love Record Stores LP Info: Picture Disc repress + Mac Millar poster.

                                                                Coloured LP Info: 140g red vinyl, housed in a 3mm spined sleeve with OBI strip.

                                                                Coloured LP includes MP3 Download Code.

                                                                Deluxe LP Info: 140g transparent clear vinyl, housed in a 6mm spined gatefold sleeve with gold foil detail and OBI strip.

                                                                Deluxe LP includes MP3 Download Code.

                                                                Indies Exclusive LP Info: 140g cream vinyl, housed in a 3mm spined sleeve with OBI strip.

                                                                Indies Exclusive LP includes MP3 Download Code.

                                                                CD Info: CD softpack.

                                                                48 - Tom Misch & Yussef Dayes

                                                                What Kinda Music

                                                                  “What Kinda Music” is an astonishing collaboration between two artists of very different disciplines, and one of the most unique and seamlessly original projects of its ilk to date. Moving fluidly through sleek electronica, avant-garde jazz, vintage hip hop and so much more, Misch and Dayes take you on a journey that is by turns surprising and spontaneous, heady and head spinning, and nothing less than compelling – a singular vision which fuses the DNA of both musicians with spectacular results, as can be seen in the title track, which comes backed by a gorgeously atmospheric video by XX.

                                                                  Even though the fundamental bones of this project came together very quickly, its actual provenance stretches back much, much farther back, with the pair not only growing up in the same area of South East London, but Misch actually seeing Dayes play on drums in the school talent show for the first time when he was roughly 8 or 9. They both kept tabs on each other – Misch becoming a fan of Dayes’ act YussefKamaal, Dayes clocking his videos in 2014 – but it was only when they met at a launch party for Misch’s debut LP “Geography” in 2018 that the proverbial creative sparks began to fly. “As a musician you’re always looking for contemporaries who can push you and challenge you and make you better”, says Dayes. “I instantly felt that with Tom – he was such a gifted musician, and so prolific”. That summer they decided to go into the studio together, jam a little, and see what happens, with no other expectation placed upon it.

                                                                  As it turns out, the music came fast and furiously. Two initial tracks were suddenly followed by a handful of others, and the pair found themselves contemplating what to do next. “Pretty soon, we knew that something was gelling”, Dayes says. “It didn’t feel like a one-off collaboration, it felt like a body of work”. What made the pair click, according to Misch and Dayes, were the exact same factors that meant it shouldn’t, by all rights, work. Misch says, “Yussef comes from a more experimental background, and he has a lot of loose, crazy ideas. I know how to write a catchy melody, but with interesting chords and have a good understanding of popular song forms, so I think I streamlined those ideas and made them accessible”. And certainly, in “What Kinda Music” you can sense the DNA of both musicians, but fusing so effortlessly and beautifully that it creates something else entirely, the appropriately named “Lift Off” sending goosebumps with its jazz flecked crescendo, and “Night Rider” hynotising with its deeply mesmeric grooves. “I have a love for harmony and chords”, Misch adds. “Working with someone like Yussef, who has such a gifted sense of rhythm allowed a perfect balance”.

                                                                  Throughout the record, there is an utterly joyful feel of two musicians at the top of their game sparking off one another, picking up ideas and running with them – zigging where the other zags, ebbing where the other flows, with Misch producing the majority of the record and both having a hand in the overall sound and feel of the record.

                                                                  “Working with Yussef has actually changed the way I work as a musician”, Misch muses. “He’s pushed me and unlocked a more experimental part of me that I hadn’t really allowed myself to explore before. I think we really did impact each other in a fundamental way”. Dayes is similarly effusive in his praise for Misch. “A musician like him, who’s at the top of his game, he doesn’t need to do this”, he raves. “He can just keep doing the same thing and why not? He’s killing it. The fact that he’s so humble, that he’s so curious about everything and open to collaboration, speaks a lot to him as an artist, because it’s not easy finding musicians who want to collaborate. Something always gets in the way, whether it’s ego or their team or whatever. But with Tom it felt like the intention was purely creative, and that’s what made it exciting”. In fact, Dayes says that the intentions of the record go even deeper than just music. “Both our parents who’d never met each other before, are now best friends as a result of this, they now see each other more than we do! I’d like to think, in some small way, that this album has a similar impact for people too – everything feels so divided these days, it would be nice for people to hear the record and hear two very different musicians coming together and realise it doesn’t have to be that way”. 


                                                                  STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                  says: The fertility stemming from the collaborative nature of the South London jazz scene is beautifully illustrated by ‘What Kinda Music’, Yussef Dayes' deeper and darker rhythms acting as perfect counterpoint to Tom Misch's clean, exquisitely rendered pop leanings.

                                                                  FORMAT INFORMATION

                                                                  2xLP Info: 180g vinyl, gatefold sleeve.

                                                                  49 - Trees Speak

                                                                  Shadow Forms

                                                                    Absolutely stunning second album from Trees Speak, new on Soul Jazz Records.

                                                                    Trees Speak’s new album ‘Shadow Forms’ is a blend of 1970s German electronic and ‘motorik’ Krautrock instrumentals (think Harmonia, Can, Cluster, Popul Vuh, Neu!), haunting and powerful 1960s and 1970s soundtracks (think Italian prog rock Goblin and John Carpenter horror movies, Morricone and existential John Barry spy movies), together with a New York no wave electronic synth and guitar analogue DIY-ness (think Suicide, anything on Soul Jazz’s ‘New York Noise’ series or Eno’s ‘No New York’).

                                                                    Trees Speak segue together all these elements into ‘Shadow Forms’, which follows on from their critically acclaimed debut album ‘Ohms,’ released on Soul Jazz Records less than six months ago.

                                                                    Trees Speak are Daniel Martin Diaz and Damian Diaz from Tucson, Arizona and their music often draws on the cosmic night-time magic of Arizona’s natural desert landscapes. ‘Trees Speak’ relates to the idea of future technologies storing information and data in trees and plants - using them as hard drives - and the idea that Trees communicate collectively.

                                                                    STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                    says: 'Shadow Forms' is a perfectly balanced juxtaposition of grooving, angular kosmische and haunty, soundtrack sort of business. We get little bursts of jazzy instrumentation and smooth-flowing psychedelia, all brought together with a deftness of touch and a keen ear for melody.

                                                                    FORMAT INFORMATION

                                                                    Ltd LP Info: Includes bonus 7".

                                                                    50 - Georgia

                                                                    Seeking Thrills

                                                                      Georgia’s new album, ‘Seeking Thrills’, is a musically daring story of hedonism, self-discovery and, above all, the transcendental power of the dancefloor.

                                                                      The North West Londoner has been on a long, dazzling journey since the release of her critically acclaimed debut album in 2015. Her first self-titled collection of percussive, punk-inflected pop songs was lauded by The Guardian, Vice, The FADER and others - but nobody predicted the about turn she would make when she returned with two rough-hewn diamonds of house music in 2019.

                                                                      STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                      says: I was a huge fan of the superb album from Georgia a few years ago, and if anything, the crystal clear production and effortless absorption of dancefloor influence and soulful 80s groove in 'Seeking Thrills' is even more satisfying. Ram-packed with day-long earworms.

                                                                      FORMAT INFORMATION

                                                                      Love Record Stores LP Info: 140g Neon Orange coloured vinyl.

                                                                      51 - El Ten Eleven

                                                                      Tautology

                                                                        RIYL: Explosions in the Sky, Sigur Ros, Do Make Say Think, Mogwai, Russian Circles, Minus the Bear.

                                                                        Experiencing an unexpected tragedy or loss often provokes a period of self-reflection, a time to contemplate one’s own place and purpose in the world. That was true for El Ten Eleven’s Kristian Dunn. When a beloved family member passed, Dunn found his own reflections on life emerging in the music he composed. Those expressions led to the creation of Tautology a sonic meditation on the arc of human life, composed in three parts.

                                                                        Over the course of three discs, Tautology is, in Dunn’s words, “a representation of life from the teenage years, through middle-age, until the end of life.” The sounds on the album echo Dunn’s own experiences, veering from aggressive metallic riffs to blissful ambient soundscapes. And while there are shared melodies and harmonies through all three records, each one has its own distinct qualities: Tautology I, which represents adolescence, is angsty, aggressive and occasionally depressive; Tautology II is head-noddy and mid-tempo, and represents middle age; while Tautology III, quiet and ambient, represents one’s golden years.

                                                                        Tautology is not a typical rock album, and El Ten Eleven are not a typical rock band. For seventeen years the instrumental duo of Dunn (bass/guitar) and Tim Fogarty (drums) have flourished outside the accepted norms of rock orthodoxy, releasing eight full length albums and four EPs, and performing over 750 live shows. Utilizing inventive arrangements and a masterful use of looping, El Ten Eleven create a sound much bigger than the sum of its parts. Joyful Noise Recordings will digitally release each of Tautology’s three discs, individually and in sequential order, beginning May 1st, with a physical 3LP release on September 18, 2020.

                                                                        Dunn explains there’s no right or wrong way to listen to Tautology, suggesting that a deep dive into the full project will yield rewards. “I think someone could listen to any one of the discs by themselves and have a really great experience—even if they didn't know about the others. But if they do want to go deeper, I think there will be a lot of interesting stuff to discover. It works symbolically and it all connects. I think this is the best record we've ever done.” 

                                                                        STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                        says: Having been at the forefront of two-man post-rocking for some time now (their self titled debut was, and still is one of my favourite albums), it was a delight to see this triple LP covering all the ground they've touched on in the past 10 years or so. Starting off a lot more driven and gradually rolling towards tender, shimmering post-rock,this is a true impression of just how varied El Ten Eleven can be. Lovely.

                                                                        FORMAT INFORMATION

                                                                        3xColoured LP Info: Limited to 1000 Ultra Clear Vinyl is for Indies only. Deluxe triple Gatefold packaging and comes with a download card.

                                                                        52 - Woods

                                                                        Strange To Explain

                                                                          “Dreaming doesn’t come easy these shadowed days, which is why Strange To Explain by Woods is such a welcome turning of new colors. It presents an extended moment of sweet reflection for the 15-year-old band, bouncing back to earth as something hopeful and weird and resolute. Like everything else they’ve recorded, it sounds exactly like themselves, but with subtly different shades and breaths and rhythmic feels and everything else that changes, the natural march of time and the intentional decisions of the musicians moving in what feels like an uncommonly organic alignment.

                                                                          “Strange To Explain trades in a different kind of dependability, maintaining a steady connection to the voice on the other side of the record needle. After quickly recording and releasing 2017’s Love Is Love in response to the tumultuous events of their (and our) 2016, Jeremy Earl and company took their time with what came next. Parenthood arrived, as did a short songwriting pause. The band went bicoastal when Jarvis Taveniere headed west. And when they returned to their posts, there on the other side of this particular mirror, they made this, an album that not only catches and holds and shares the light in yet another new way, but recognizes that there’s still light to be caught, which is also no small thing.

                                                                          “A bend beyond the last bend beyond, Woods keep on changing, thoughtfully and beautifully. The colors were always there, like trees blossoming just slightly differently each season, a synesthetic message coded in slow-motion. Recorded in Stinson Beach, the kind of place that seems like an AI simulation of an idyllic northern California coastal escape, the familiar jangling guitars recede to the background. John Andrews’s warm keyboards and twining Mellotron rise around Earl’s songs and dance across the chord changes like warm sunlight off the Pacific. The music feels a karmic landmass away from the creepiness of the uncanny valley.” - Jesse Jarnow.

                                                                          For almost a decade, Agnes Obel has been one of the most independent and original artists in contemporary music. Now she has returned with new music, releasing the enchanting single “Island Of Doom”, ahead of the release of her highly anticipated new album Myopia–through Deutsche Grammophon, Universal Music Group’s prestigious Yellow Label, and Blue Note in North America.

                                                                          Following the same principles as with her previous albums (Philharmonics, Aventine and CitizenOfGlass), which she completed as a one-woman project in her own Berlin home studio, Obel has been under self-imposed creative isolation with the removal of all outside influences and distraction in the writing, recording and mixing process. “The albums I’ve worked on have all required that I build a bubble of some kind in which everything becomes about the album.”

                                                                          “For me the production is intertwined with the lyrics and story behind the songs,” says Obel. This is precisely what makes her music so compelling and the same is true with Myopia. “Paradoxically, for me I need to create my own myopia to make music.” Obel was experimenting with techniques of recording processing, warping and pitching down vocals, strings, piano, celesta and lutheal piano, finding ways to melt these elements together to become one and twisting them in a way that you feel at home within the sound she conjures throughout the record.

                                                                          Although Obel’s music can often curate a monologue of modern-day dystopian-esque news stories that we are all now subject to, the contents of “Island Of Doom” are much more personal, as she explains: “The song is made up of pitched-down piano and cello pizzicato and vocals, all choirs are pitched down and up… In my experience when someone close to you dies it is simply impossible to comprehend that you can’t ever talk to them or reach them somehow ever again. They are in many ways still alive because in your consciousness nothing has changed, they’re still there with everyone else you know.

                                                                          “For me Myopia is an album about trust and doubt. Can you trust yourself or not? Can you trust your own judgments? Can you trust that you will do the right thing? Can you trust your instincts and what you are feeling? Or are your feelings skewed?” – Obel.

                                                                          STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                          says: Obel's latest opus challenges the backdrop of beautifully played modern classical instrumentation and meditative, soaring strings with a decidedly modern focus on vocal manipulation and production trickery, crafting a delightfully immersive and stunningly beautiful whole.

                                                                          54 - Pottery

                                                                          Welcome To Bobby's Motel

                                                                            Who is “Bobby,” you ask?

                                                                            Enter Pottery. Enter Paul Jacobs, Jacob Shepansky, Austin Boylan, Tom Gould, and Peter Baylis. Enter the smells, the cigarettes, the noise, their van Mary, their friend Luke, toilet drawings, Northern California, Beatles accents, Taco Bell, the Great Plains, and hot dogs. Enter love and hate, angst and happiness, and everything in between. Beginning as an inside joke between the band members, Bobby and his “motel” have grown into so much more. They’ve become the all-encompassing alt-reality that the band built themselves, for everyone else. So, in essence, Bobby is Pottery and his motel is wherever they are.

                                                                            But really, Bobby is a pilot, a lumberjack, a stay at home dad, and a disco dancer that never rips his pants. He's a punching bag filled with comic relief. He laughs in the face of day-to-day ambiguity, as worrying isn’t worth it to Bobby. There’s a piece of him in everyone, there to remind us that things are probably going to work out, maybe. He’s you. He’s him. He’s her. He’s them. Bobby is always there, painted in the corner, urging you to relax and forget about your useless worries. And his motel? Well, the motel is life. It might not be clean, and the curtains might not shut all the way. The air conditioner might be broken, and the floors might be stained. But that’s okay, because you don’t go to Bobby’s Motel for the glamour and a good night’s sleep, the minibar, or the full-service sauna. You go to Bobby’s Motel to feel, to escape, to remember, to distract. You go for the late nights and early mornings, good times and the bad. You might spend your entire life looking for Bobby’s Motel and just when you think you will never find it, you realize you’ve been there all along. It’s filthy and amazing and you dance, and you love it.

                                                                            The 11 songs on ‘Welcome to Bobby’s Motel’ don’t just invite you to move your body; they command you to. Fusing reckless, manic energy with painstaking precision, the record is part post-punk, part art-pop, and part dance floor acid trip, hinting at everything from Devo to Gang of Four as it boldly careens through genres and decades. The music is driven by explosive drums and off-kilter guitar riffs that drill themselves into your brain, accented with deep, funky grooves and rousing gang vocals. The production is similarly raw and wild, suggesting an air of anarchy that belies the music’s careful architecture and meticulous construction. The result is an album full of ambitious, complex performances that exude joy and mayhem in equal measure, a collection that’s alternately virtuosic, chaotic, and pure fun." 

                                                                            FORMAT INFORMATION

                                                                            Love Record Stores LP Info: Special limited edition obi strip, designed by the band’s artist / drummer Paul Jacobs.

                                                                            Coloured LP Info: 'Hot Dog yellow' vinyl.

                                                                            Coloured LP includes MP3 Download Code.

                                                                            55 - Sorry

                                                                            925

                                                                              Together with co-producer James Dring (Gorillaz, Jamie T, Nilüfer Yanya), best friends Lorenz and Louis O’Bryen have woven 925 like a dreamscape in which idyllic and hellish scenes intermingle, forcing the question of what is real and what is make believe. Inspired by everything from Hermann Hesse to Aphex Twin and old-school crooner Tony Bennett, their experimental and holistic approach marks them out as a thoroughly 21st century band; from their open-minded approach to genre to their creativity allowing them to self-produce the music and direct accompanying videos.

                                                                              Joined by drummer Lincoln Barrett and Campbell Baum on bass, Sorry emerged from a thriving scene of bands in London, and though 925 is their debut album, it is by no means their first statement. It follows a series of mixtapes, released sporadically and used as a way to experiment with the disparate influences and sounds that give 925 its distinctively modern and apocalyptic sound.

                                                                              Where previous singles and mixtapes earned the band their status as one of the most vital and relentlessly creative new British bands of the moment, 925 is a record which will undoubtedly cement their status as true originals and cross-genre innovators in 2020 and beyond.

                                                                              FORMAT INFORMATION

                                                                              Love Record Stores LP Info: 140g Gold coloured vinyl.

                                                                              Coloured LP Info: Indies exclusive silver vinyl.

                                                                              56 - Moaning

                                                                              Uneasy Laughter

                                                                                What happens when an abrasive rock trio trades guitars for synths, cranks up the beats and leans into the everyday anxieties of simply being a functioning human in the 21st century? The answer is Uneasy Laughter, the sensational second Sub Pop release from Los Angeles-based Moaning.

                                                                                Vocalist/guitarist Sean Solomon, bassist/keyboardist Pascal Stevenson and drummer Andrew MacKelvie have been friends and co-conspirators amid the fertile L.A. DIY scene for more than a decade. They are also immersed in other creative pursuits — Solomon is a noted illustrator, art director and animator, while Stevenson and MacKelvie have played or worked behind the boards with acts such as Cherry Glazerr, Sasami and Surf Curse. On Uneasy Laughter, they’ve tackled challenges both personal and universal the only way they know how: by talking about how they’re feeling and channeling those emotions directly into their music.

                                                                                “We’ve known each other forever and we’re really comfortable trying to express where we’re at. A lot of bands aren’t so close,” says MacKelvie. Adds Solomon, who celebrated a year of sobriety during the Uneasy Laughter sessions, “Men are conditioned not to be vulnerable or admit they’re wrong. But I wanted to talk openly about my feelings and mistakes I’ve made.”

                                                                                Moaning’s 2018’s self-titled Sub Pop debut featured songs mostly written in practice or brought in already complete by individual band members. It garnered acclaim from Pitchfork, Stereogum and Los Angeles Times, who observed, “Moaning craft anxious music for an increasingly nervous local scene.” But Uneasy Laughter is a collaborative breakthrough which significantly brightens Moaning’s once claustrophobic sound, again abetted by producer/engineer Alex Newport (At The Drive-In, Bloc Party, Melvins). The trio points to first single “Ego,” which features a costume-heavy video directed by Ambar Navarro, as an embodiment of this evolution.

                                                                                Solomon admits Uneasy Laughter could have gone in quite another direction had he not gotten sober and educated himself on such core subjects as gender and mental health. “I did a lot of reading in the tour van — authors like bell hooks, Mark Fisher, and Alain de Botton, all really inspired me. I don’t want to be the person who influences young people to go get high and become cliche tragic artists,” he says. “What I’d rather convey to people is that they’re not alone in what they think and how they feel. ‘Ego’ specifically and the album overall is about those themes — letting go of your bullshit so you can help other people and be present.”

                                                                                “We want to be part of a community,” he adds. “I wrote online about being sober for a year, and I had kids from all over writing and asking for advice. One of them said, ‘For the first time I can remember, I didn’t drink last night.’ I thought, for once, maybe we did something besides sell a record. That’s a win. That’s incredibly exciting.”



                                                                                FORMAT INFORMATION

                                                                                LP Info: Single-pocket jacket with spot-gloss and custom dust sleeve

                                                                                LP includes MP3 Download Code.

                                                                                CD Info: Digipack with spot-gloss and custom dust sleeve.

                                                                                57 - Bing & Ruth

                                                                                Species

                                                                                  Bing & Ruth, the ever-evolving project helmed by New York composer David Moore, has announced details of a new album, scheduled for release this summer. While on a surface level, Species is an exploration of the sonic possibilities of the Farfisa organ, aided only by a clarinet and double bass (played respectively by founding members Jeremy Viner and Jeff Ratner), the title Species is a nod to both humanity and humility – a devotion to the godly intuition with which we are all endowed, and the humbleness required of us to perceive it. It’s also about suspended time and trance; not just a steady movement from A to B, but as something that flows, meanders and eddies, like water.

                                                                                  Species, and the transcendental state it embodies, was inspired by two recent loves of Moore’s: the desert and long-distance running. Briefly relocating from his New York base to Point Dume, between the Pacific Ocean and the desert, Moore was able to indulge in both passions, which in turn provided stimulus for new work. He says, “I’d found myself in places unfamiliar enough that I could easily lose all sense of direction, size and, more than anything, all sense of time. The music I was making became a kind of reflection of these intentional detachments - and a place to mirror that feeling of trance that had pushed them out in the first place.”

                                                                                  STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                  says: Shifting swathes of reverberated electronics, bright echoes and soaring synths slowly evolve into euphoric slo-mo key changes and aquatic phrases. It's an ambient lovers dream, and one that will be on my stereo for some time to come.

                                                                                  58 - Fuzz

                                                                                  III

                                                                                    One only knows one. Two is balanced therefore stagnant. III both active and reactive. Charles Moothart, Ty Segall and Chad Ubovich are Fuzz. Fuzz is three. And III has returned. Songs for all, and music for one. III was recorded and mixed at United Recording under the sonic lordship of Steve Albini.

                                                                                    Keeping the focus on the live sounds of the band, the use of overdubs and studio tricks were kept to a minimum. Albini’s mastery in capturing sound gave the trio the ability to focus entirely on the playing while knowing the natural sounds would land. It takes the essential ingredients of “guitar-based music” and “rock and roll power trio” and puts them right out on the chopping block. It was a much more honest approach for the band—three humans getting primitive, staying primitive. The goal was never to reinvent the wheel. Sometimes it’s just about seeing how long one can hold on before getting thrown off. Three points reflected in three mirrors; a pyramid of sonic destruction and psychic creation. Nothing people feed the roots while the freaks fly free in the treetops—blind to vines, eyes closed, stuck in spit, triumphing the returning of beginnings and ends returning while beginning to see the time collapse. Love is the only way to annihilate hate, and sketchy freaks live to bleed. All shades of color, truth and lies, III is the pillar of unity and singularity. All is nothing, and only nothing can generate everything. Log out, drop thought, turn up.

                                                                                    STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                    says: An absolutely essential meeting of the minds here from some of the most talented voices in psych rock royalty. Fuzz have always been a perfect melting pot of the talents of their respective members, and the aptly titled 'III' is no different. Pummelling, grooving and huge. A triumph.

                                                                                    FORMAT INFORMATION

                                                                                    Love Record Stores LP Info: Super limited green vinyl edition.

                                                                                    Coloured LP Info: Indies exclusive blue coloured vinyl. Very limited!!

                                                                                    Coloured LP includes MP3 Download Code.

                                                                                    LP includes MP3 Download Code.

                                                                                    59 - Your Old Droog

                                                                                    Jewelry

                                                                                      Inimitable rap musician Your Old Droog is back. After recently releasing the acclaimed projects "It Wasn't Even Close" and "Transportation", the prolific artist is returning with the brand new album "Jewelry". The album is a celebration of YOD's Jewish heritage, which he is now officially revealing to the public for the first time. "Jewelry" features guest appearances from the likes of Matisyahu, MF DOOM, and Mach-Hommy (who also wears the hat of executive producer on the project), with beats by Quelle Chris, Tha God Fahim, Edan, Preservation, and more. "I'm a Jew in America", says Droog. "This is my story. Shalom." 

                                                                                      60 - Sonic Boom

                                                                                      All Things Being Equal

                                                                                        It’s auspicious that Sonic Boom—the solo project of Peter Kember (Spectrum, Spacemen 3)—returns in 2020 with its first new LP in three decades. Kember’s drawn to the year’s numerological potency, and this intentionality shines into every corner of All Things Being Equal. It’s a meditative, mathematical record concerned with the interconnectedness of memory, space, consumerism, consciousness—everything. Through regenerative stories told backwards and forwards, Kember explores dichotomies zen and fearsome, reverential of his analog toolkit and protective of the plants and trees that support our lives.

                                                                                        Sonic Boom’s second album and first for Carpark began in 2015 as electronic jams. The original sketches of electronic patterns, sequenced out of modular synths, were so appealing that Stereolab’s Tim Gane encouraged Kember to release them instrumentally. “I nearly did,” confesses Kember, “but the vibe in them was so strong that I couldn't resist trying to ice the cake.” Three years later, a move to Portugal saw him dusting off the backing tracks, adding vocals inspired by Sam Cooke, The Sandpipers, and the Everly Brothers (which he admits “don’t go far from the turntable pile”), as well as speculative, ominous spoken word segments. His new home Sintra’s parks and gardens provided a different visual context for Kember’s thoughtful observations, and he thematically incorporated sunshine and nature as well as global protests into the ten resulting tracks. “Music made in sterility sounds sterile,” he says, “And that is my idea of hell.”

                                                                                        Over the vivid, calculating arps of opener “Just Imagine,” Kember nudges listeners to do as the title suggests. It’s based on a story he read about a boy who healed his cancer by picturing himself as a storm cloud, raining out his illness. “The Way That You Live,” a rollicking drone powered by drum machine rattles and bright chord beds, morphs political distrust into a revolutionary mantra about ethical living. “I try and live my life by voting every day with what I do and how I do it, who I do it with and the love that I can give them along the way,” offers Kember.

                                                                                        An unusually curated gear list accompanies each song, unexpected layers reinforcing the monophonic skeletons. Mystery soundscapes and grinding sweeps were teased from EMS synths, synonymous with and evocative of ‘60s BBC scoring and ‘70s Eno. Pacing basslines oscillating into warbling heartbeats came from a cheap ‘80s Yamaha. A modern OP-1 generated subtle kicks and eerie theremins, while his toy Music Modem—an unused holdover from sessions Kember produced for Beach House and MGMT—finally found its recorded home.

                                                                                        It’s rare to see liner notes where synthesizers rather than humans are credited (other than guest vocal stints from “co-conspirators

                                                                                        FORMAT INFORMATION

                                                                                        Indies Exclusive LP Info: Limited LP comes with foil single sleeve jacket, inner sleeve with lyrics, 12”x12” foil insert with artwork, 12”x19” poster, black vinyl & download – Indies only.

                                                                                        LP Info: Standard LP comes with single sleeve jacket with matte coating, inner sleeve with lyrics, 12”x12” foil insert with artwork, black vinyl & download.

                                                                                        CD Info: Gatefold case, 12pg/6-panel insert with lyrics on front, poster on back.

                                                                                        61 - Wajatta

                                                                                        Don’t Let Get You Down

                                                                                          Wajatta (pronounced wa-HA-ta) - aka Reggie Watts and John Tejada - return on Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder imprint. Coming from different worlds but sharing a passion for the rich history of electronic music, beat-boxer / comedian / musician Watts and electronic music artist / DJ / producer Tejada bring out the best in each other’s formidable skill sets. Exploring the intersection between influences and innovation, the two describe Wajatta’s music as ‘electronic dance music with its roots in Detroit techno, Chicago house, ‘70s funk and New York hip hop.’ It’s a sound that is both familiar and wholly original and, like all great dance music, ultimately life-affirming. As a result, the 11 tracks on “Don’t Let Get You Down” crackle with the energy of fresh ideas captured at the moment of inspiration. It’s electronic music made organically, from two masters at the top of their respective games.

                                                                                          For fans of HNNY, Caribou, Ross From Friends, Jacques Greene, Channel Tres.


                                                                                          STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                          says: It would be hard for anything to get you down after listening to the title track of this killer collaboration, and the rest of the album only continues in the same vein. Owing as much to early instrumental hip-hop as it does modern soul and electronica, this is a rich and varied outing and one you have to hear to believe. Grooves for DAYS.

                                                                                          This is Thurston Moore’s seventh solo album, and features musicians Deb Googe (My Bloody Valentine) on bass and backing vocals, Jon Leidecker aka ‘Wobbly’ (of Negativland) on electronics, James Sedwards on guitar, and Sonic Youth’s Steve Shelley, as well as Jem Doulton, alternating on drums. ‘Hashish’ is the first single from the album to be released and is described by Moore as “an ode to the narcotic of love in our shared responsibility to each other during isolation." The song includes a video with footage from The Thurston Moore Group’s tour in early 2020 in Europe, as well as footage of Thurston quarantined in his home during the past few months “with respect to the sacred healing truth of nature.”

                                                                                          Prior to isolation during the COVID pandemic, Thurston worked in recording studios in North London until the third week of March 2020 to complete this album for release on September 5, 2020. While the musicians may not immediately tour, Thurston was adamant to release BY THE FIRE in 2020, and with Daydream Library, has released this quote: ​BY THE FIRE is music in flames.

                                                                                          2020 is our time for radical change and collective awareness and Thurston Moore has written nine songs of enlightenment, released to a world on fire. Taking a cue from Albert Ayler's "music is the healing force of the universe", this recording offers songs as flames of rainbow energy, where the power of love becomes our call. These are love songs in a time where creativity is our dignity, our demonstration against the forces of oppression. BY THE FIRE is a gathering, a party of peace—songs in the heat of the moment.

                                                                                          Some of the songs feature all of the musicians whist a few are solo guitar and vocals.

                                                                                          BY THE FIRE is released on The Daydream Library Series record label which was founded in 2018 especially to release London Afro-punk feminist trio Big Joanie’s debut album ‘Sistahs’.

                                                                                          FORMAT INFORMATION

                                                                                          2xColoured LP Info: Indies exclusive transparent orange vinyl.

                                                                                          2xLP Info: 180 gram audiophile black vinyl.

                                                                                          63 - International Teachers Of Pop

                                                                                          Pop Gossip

                                                                                            Music and dancing is one of the last great unifiers that we have. It doesn’t discriminate, it doesn’t care about race, sexual preferences, religion or what side of the fence you are on politically. Music chooses you and you just have to submit yourself to its peculiar yet tender headlock! ‘Don’t Diss the Disco’ is about that. It references Studio 54, Grace Jones & Bianca Jagger on a White Horse - but it’s mainly about clubs where we and our friends frequent like ‘Homoelectric in Manchester. This is a song for our kind of freaks and miscreants and the incessant snobbery faced by them for liking good pop music, good disco, genre’s that on the surface might not be deemed cool, but actually save souls. Says ITOP founder Adrian Flanagan (The Moonlandingz/ Eccentronic Research Council/ Adult Entertainment).

                                                                                            Singer Leonore Wheatley adds.
                                                                                            We wanted to capture that sweaty, hazy, manic, exciting mess in a song, that captures those halcyon days of Clubbing in Sheffield & Manchester, that moment the adrenaline kicks in and everyone in the room is your brother or sister.”

                                                                                            Talking about the album, Adrian said:
                                                                                            We recorded it all and produced it all ourselves at Dean’s Bowling green studio in Sheffield, it’s the best thing we’ve done since the last thing we did, which I know sounds unbelievable, but it really is! We also included Katie Mason on this record who sings live with us as a double pronged two headed front person with Leonore - and their voices together work like a harmonious dream. Katie & Leonore have been friends since primary school so you can’t fake that dynamic, it’s unbreakable) .

                                                                                            Leonore adds:
                                                                                            We decided to go deeper into the club realm. We wanted the record and live shows to go hand in hand, bringing the spectators more into becoming part of the performance. Dean Honer who mixed the album and who has worked with everyone from Jarvis Cocker to Britney Spears said:
                                                                                            I like that we have a disco song about fillicide commited by the Queen. (The Tower) I wonder if Meghan and Harry heard our early demo?


                                                                                            STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                            says: ITOP return with their newest LP of thumping basslines, sparkling arpeggios and stone-cold groove. It's a heady combination that really captured our attention on the self-titled debut but goes even further this time. Neon grooves, huge monophonic basslines and all of the heart of the debut. Incredible record.

                                                                                            FORMAT INFORMATION

                                                                                            Coloured LP Info: Indies exclusive bubblegum pink vinyl, limited to 500 copies worldwide.

                                                                                            In 2014 Dan Snaith aka Caribou released "Our Love" to overwhelming critical acclaim and massive fan support. Now Caribou returns with his seventh studio album "Suddenly", an album about family and the changes we go though as those relationships evolve. "Suddenly" is the most surprising and unpredictable Caribou album to date. Though it retains the trademark Caribou warmth and technicolour, this album is littered with swerves and left turns, and amazes with its yet unheard nuances, samples and hooks. As Snaith puts it, “these albums are like photo albums for me – when I look back at the old ones, they’re a snapshot of my life at that time, full of people who are close to you”. This is the drive to continue to make Caribou albums. Full bodies of work where Snaith is able to evaluate things, look at those around him and celebrate them. As his passion and joy in music making remains as fresh as ever, "Suddenly" is the purest example of this yet.

                                                                                            STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                            says: Exciting times! Dan Snaith is back in the Piccadilly house with a brand new Caribou LP, infusing hook-heavy house jams, hip hop curveballs and sweet synthpoppers with the signature warmth and space of his previous work. I would imagine festival goers of all ages will enjoy losing their proverbials to this in the coming months.

                                                                                            Harmonious Thelonious is the solo project of the Düsseldorf musician Stefan Schwander. His works combine American-influenced minimal music with African rhythms and European melodies.

                                                                                            "I was busy experimenting with noisy rhythms when Bureau B asked me if I would like to release an album on their label. I was aiming for a more industrial sound; backwards cymbals, loops generated from non-musical sources such as slamming doors, and had the feeling that this would align nicely with Bureau B’s own story." Stefan Schwander’s new album Plong is something of a hybrid in the discography of Harmonious Thelonious, drawing on his existing strengths plus a sense of adventure in a mix of all his musical predilections. Dipping into the music, Middle Eastern elements can be heard on "Original Member Of A Wedding Band" and "Mumba", whilst tracks like "Höhlenmenschenmuziek" are characterized by more pronounced bass structures. Tuned down xylophones, evocative of ritual drums, sub bass and electrifying basslines catalyse the idiosyncratic sound of Plong: hypnotic, danceable, irresistible. A powerful head of steam builds across the nine tracks, with subtle changes in harmony ("Geistertrio Booking") or unexpected cameos such as a new wave bassline on "Abu Synth" shaking things up before the album hurtles onward with renewed force. Take "Interpretation de reve" as a case in point – floating sequences and themes sweep ashore in wave after wave of melody; analogous to dreams which enter the subconscious in episodes, their apparent randomness gradually shifting into a correlative pattern. "Totentanz" closes the album in a homage to the Basle club of the same name, a place which played a decisive role in Schwander’s musical socialisation: "I was lucky enough to see bands like Liquid Liquid, Gun Club, Jonathan Richman and a very young Aztec Camera there".

                                                                                            Harmonious Thelonious comes off with an exceptional work in the genre of electronic music, successfully embracing the physical power of a club night soundtrack whilst exploring the dramatic depths of sonic worlds to create an intensive listening experience in total solitude.

                                                                                            STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                            says: Durian Bro and Dusseldorf sorcerer Stefan Schwander gets industrial and middle eastern on this Bureau B LP, translating his usual sonic manipulations into a hypnotic set of trance dancers for the alternative club kids. I'm gonna buy like 5 copies of this!

                                                                                            66 - Lianne La Havas

                                                                                            Lianne La Havas

                                                                                              ‘Lianne La Havas’, Lianne’s third album and her first in five years and is an album of startling beauty and insight—made entirely on her own terms which has been quite a journey. In one sense, geographically: La Havas spent a lot of time moving back and forth between the UK and the States working on writing and exploring her own identity. As a result, ‘Lianne La Havas’ feels spacious and luminous. Its sunbaked sounds recall, in places, the Brazilian singer, songwriter, and guitarist Milton Nascimento (on “Seven Times”). You might also hear the curveball chords of Joni Mitchell and Jaco Pastorious’s jazz explorations (“Green Papaya”), or the puttering drums and inviting warmth of golden-era Al Green (“Read My Mind”). And throughout the record, there’s a sense of empowerment that has its roots in the crisp ‘90s R&B of Destiny’s Child.

                                                                                              ‘Lianne La Havas is ten songs that span the arc of a love relationship. The album’s opener, ‘Bittersweet’ functions as a kind of an overture, setting out what follows, before the giddy, love-struck rush of ‘Read My Mind’. If these first few songs suggest a flower opening its petals, that’s no coincidence: “What plays a big role in the album is the idea of the life cycle of plants and nature—equating this journey with a seasonal thing that blooms, thrives, goes away, and comes back even stronger,” La Havas says. Over the five years it took for the album to come together, she found herself watching the changing foliage outside her window in south London, struck by how she was growing and changing herself—not always comfortably. “A flower has to dry up and die in order to be reborn,” she says. “You have to get to the rock bottom to rebuild yourself.”

                                                                                              After relentless touring and promoting of her first two albums as well as personal and emotional events in her life, it was becoming increasingly difficult to find time, inspiration and confidence to get back in the studio for a follow up. As it came about, the recording process of album number three began in earnest by accident; returning from a glorious, sunny Glastonbury festival performance in June 2019, La Havas and her core band decided to see if they could nail their lithe live version of Radiohead’s ‘Weird Fishes’ in the studio. “I had the most wonderful, nourishing experience recording that,” she says, “And that’s where I decided: the rest of the album needs to be like this. It’s got to be my band, and I’ve got to do it in London, whenever people have time.” By October, she had all ten songs, and by December, everything was recorded—mainly in London, and also in Bath and New York. In keeping with the album’s intimate feel, everyone who contributed to the record is a trusted collaborator, including long-term songwriting ally Matt Hales, co-producer Beni Giles, and guest co-producer Mura Masa.

                                                                                              The confidence that La Havas has cultivated, both personally and creatively, is audible in the fact that ‘Lianne La Havas’ is a record that feels utterly real—a living, breathing thing. It hasn’t been polished to a squeak in favor of a “clean” recording; La Havas followed her gut on this album, going with what feels good.

                                                                                              Beauty never really goes by the book, and ‘Lianne La Havas’ is a breathtaking example of this. Now thirty years old, she is excited about playing these powerful songs live. “The best part is that I own them, and really believe in them,” she says. “And, you know, it’s me. So I can’t be afraid of doing what I do, and being who I am.”

                                                                                              ‘Lianne La Havas’—an exquisite, rich, and tender expression of love, loss, and rebirth that marks a new era for the British artist.

                                                                                              STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                              says: Rich, warm vocals meet with grooving keys and flickering guitars. Unmissable brilliant new LP from La Havas here, and the perfect counterpoint to these stressful times. A tonic if ever there was one. Beautiful stuff.

                                                                                              FORMAT INFORMATION

                                                                                              Coloured LP Info: Indie exclusive limited mint coloured vinyl.

                                                                                              67 - GoGo Penguin

                                                                                              GoGo Penguin

                                                                                                When a musical ensemble chooses to self-title an album mid-career, it usually signifies their conviction that they’ve struck upon the motherlode, hit the jackpot, stepped up and generally arrived at a point they’ve always striven for but never quite attained before.

                                                                                                Coming from GoGo Penguin at this stage in the game, it’s quite a bold statement: the instrumental trio from Manchester, England have fielded plaudits and rave reviews for inspiration and originality at every turn since 2013,when they settled on their dream line-up of Chris Illingworth (piano), Rob Turner (drums) and Nick Blacka (bass).

                                                                                                Fusing jazz, classical and electronic influences(amongst others) with a thirst for innovation, they’ve been garlanded as makers of one of the Mercury Prize album of the year (in ’14) and have enjoyed success on record and in the live arena matched by precious few vocal-free groups post-millennium.

                                                                                                FORMAT INFORMATION

                                                                                                2xColoured LP Info: Indies exclusive double clear coloured vinyl.

                                                                                                68 - Run The Jewels

                                                                                                RTJ4

                                                                                                  Run The Jewels, the lauded duo of El-P and Killer Mike, have shared the long-awaited details of their feverishly anticipated new album, Run The Jewels 4.

                                                                                                  This eleven song, 40 minute powerhouse is their most ferocious and focused effort to date, and sports a lineup of all-star guests including Pharrell Williams, Mavis Staples, 2 Chainz, Zack de la Rocha, Josh Homme, DJ Premier, and Greg Nice. Recorded primarily at Rick Rubin’s Shangri-La Studios and the iconic Electric Lady Studios in NYC, RTJ4 represents two years of intensive writing, recording, distilling, and amplifying the most potent elements of their music.

                                                                                                  The result is a collection of wall-to-wall bangers illuminating the group's unique ability to straddle the worlds of pointed social commentary and raw, boisterous fun.


                                                                                                  STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                                  says: Bombastic, aggressive, assertive, political and absolutely effin BANGING, RTJ are back to save you from whack MCs and company stooges. Fire from start to finish here, but I'm advising you to bump "Ooh La La", the prescient "Walking In The Snow" and the trapping "JU$T" featuring RATM's Zack De La Rocha.

                                                                                                  69 - Kaytranada

                                                                                                  Bubba

                                                                                                    Sophomore release on RCA Records from DJ & Producer Kaytranada. The critically acclaimed follow up to debut "99.9%", this is a 17 track album, which features collaborations with Pharrell Williams, Tinashe, Goldlink, Estelle, Kali Ushis & more... 

                                                                                                    70 - Lanterns On The Lake

                                                                                                    Spook The Herd

                                                                                                      It’s strange – not to mention fundamentally disconcerting - to live through turbulent times. Yet as many feel like the world is slipping out of control, artists are enlivened as they seek to make sense of the shifting sands. Hazel Wilde of Lanterns on the Lake is now a songwriter necessarily emboldened. On Spook the Herd, the band’s fourth record, her voice and preoccupations rise to the fore like never before. In tandem, the band break new ground on a set of songs that are direct and crucial.

                                                                                                      Wilde does nothing less than dive headlong into the existential crises of our times. Beginning with the record’s title - a pointed comment at the dangerously manipulative tactics of ideologues - its nine songs turn the microscope to issues including our hopelessly polarized politics, social media, addiction, grief and the climate crisis.

                                                                                                      The world is brought into focus, but Wilde’s style is not declarative. She also proves herself a songwriter possessed of a rare talent for finding the personal contours to contemporary issues, fully inhabiting them to make them real. Recorded as live where possible, the band’s natural touchstones of gauzy dream-pop and monumental post rock still float in the air, but listening to Lanterns on the Lake now feels like actually sitting in the corner of the room as they play. As guitarist and producer Paul Gregory says of approaching their fourth album, “There was a sense of release in terms of what kind of music we felt we could make. The idea of what kind of band you’re supposed to be really disappeared. It was great; you felt you could do whatever you like.”

                                                                                                      FORMAT INFORMATION

                                                                                                      LP Info: 180g black vinyl housed in a gatefold sleeve.

                                                                                                      LP includes MP3 Download Code.

                                                                                                      71 - Autechre

                                                                                                      Sign

                                                                                                        Autechre, masters of uncompromising glitched-out electronic business return with a new full-length for the titans of 'leccy music, Warp. 

                                                                                                        From the blistering VHS-saturated beginning of 'M4 Lema', we're taken on a ride through fractured nu-rave, 90's influenced braindance and flickering barely-connected electrical circuits. 

                                                                                                        The more choral moments (the beautiful, Hecker-esque 'esc desc' for example) help to make things a little less frantic by soothing the glitch-addled mind with some swells of organ and reverbed synth wisps.  

                                                                                                        This is as uncompromising and skilfully collated as any of Autechre's work thus far, and further cements their reputation as the ultimate Enfant Terrible of electronic music. 

                                                                                                        STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                                        says: Shit the bed, it's a new Autechre record! Famously someone once told me that my CD was skipping back in the day, but the joke was on them, because it wasn't. One of the masters of the genre returns, and I genuinely couldn't be more excited. HUGE news.

                                                                                                        FORMAT INFORMATION

                                                                                                        2xLP includes MP3 Download Code.

                                                                                                        Since the release of II, Lindstrøm and Prins Thomas have remained more than busy with their respective solo careers, but work on III was taking place behind the scenes the whole time—slow and steady by sending files back and forth. "There's a different process with every album," Thomas explains. "With the first two albums, we had a door between separate rooms in the studio, so I could open my door and play him something. We also toured together a lot after the first album, and after that experience we realized that we work better together at a distance. We're doing our best work by not worrying too much about what the other one of us is doing."

                                                                                                        Eventually, the bulk of III came together over the last year, as Lindstrøm and Prins Thomas teamed up to craft a lush and lovely work that recalls the hazy atmospherics of Air, the loose-fit jazz of Lonnie Liston Smith, and the genreresistant electronic music that both artists have made their name on over the course of their impressive careers. "Our partnership is very democratic—we never turn down each other's ideas. And if it goes wrong, we blame it on the other guy," Thomas says with a laugh. "The tracks that Lindstrøm sent me this time were almost like standard house tracks. I already had an idea of what I wanted to do, so I forced those tracks into new shoes and dresses."

                                                                                                        Above all else, III is a testament to the adventurousness of Lindstrøm and Prins Thomas when it comes to soundcraft. Both artists have established separate careers on bodies of work that feature infinite twists and turns, thrilling their audiences with the suggestion of where they've been and where they're about to go. Together, they've crafted what might be their most beguiling and inviting work yet, a jeweled box of electronic music ornately crafted but never losing the sense of playfulness that so many have come to love from them.

                                                                                                        STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                                        says: There are few better collaborations I could imagine than these two veterans of the electronic music landscape. We get the housey styling of Lindstrom perfectly invigorated with the beachside balearic groove and airy ambient bliss of the Prins. Exacty as gorgeous as you would expect.

                                                                                                        73 - Thee MVPs

                                                                                                        Science Fiction

                                                                                                          Thee debut longplayer from Thee MVPS, on their own label, taking cues from all of their favourite labels…Influenced by SST, In The Red, Au Go Go, Goner, Stiff, Castle Face, Dischord etc. (you know, the good ones!!).

                                                                                                          The band lives in the same house in Leeds, they have a whole slew of 7” records out all over the world, some sold out, some, not, they are steeped in music, playing live and this album shows that: Thee MVPs (Most Valuable Players) love music a whole bunch and hope they made a record that shows that.

                                                                                                          Thee MVPs believe you can do a band just as well as anyone else

                                                                                                          Thee MVPs ran in to quite the hurdles trying to do make this album, a good few Gs sank in the wrong places and to say bad luck follows them would be an understatement

                                                                                                          Thee MVPs have already done 350+ shows all over the world.

                                                                                                          Thee MVPs have played with all your favourite bands.

                                                                                                          Thee MVPs mastered the record in Chicago with Bob Weston of Shellac.

                                                                                                          Thee MVPs wanted the first record to be 10 songs, Blue Album style.

                                                                                                          Thee MVPs think some of the guitar solos are like J Mascis.

                                                                                                          Thee MVPs think the bass is the best sounding instrument on this album.

                                                                                                          Thee MVPs like Hot Snakes, The Stranglers, Sleep, Meatbodies, Marked Men, Quelle Chris, CAN, Black Sabbath, Black Flag and Super Furry Animals. Please add on whatever else that makes them sound like they have cool influences.
                                                                                                          Thee MVPs ditched the reverb and space echo on the vocals and traded it for better lyrics.

                                                                                                          Thee MVPs consider this album part concept - tying in references and homages to Sci Fi with themes of difficulties all of us face as we get a little less away from youth. Some themes include always having camaraderie in the face of any dire straight, how being contactable 24/7 probably isn't best for any of us and how really we're not any more different/cooler/better/worse/charming/narcissistic than anyone else because we do a band

                                                                                                          Thee MVPs were lucky enough to have Edd's mum Sahrah, an architect student to design the cover based off Joel's readings of polymath Walter Russell.

                                                                                                          This is the best MVPs record until the next one is out.


                                                                                                          FORMAT INFORMATION

                                                                                                          Dinked Edition LP Info: ● Super exclusive “super-on-the-nose-sci-fi-warpspeed-hyperspace” Splatter blue.
                                                                                                          ● Dinked X MVPs Slipmat.
                                                                                                          ● Hand- numbered album art insert.
                                                                                                          ● Exclusive label sticker.
                                                                                                          ● Limited 350 pressing.

                                                                                                          74 - Darkstar

                                                                                                          Civic Jams

                                                                                                            Darkstar announce their fourth album ‘Civic Jams’ for release on Warp.

                                                                                                            On their most personal record to date, Darkstar counterbalance observations of their home with those of the community surrounding it. ‘Civic Jams’ is a photonegative of a dance record shaped by a dialogue between shoegaze atmospherics and UK bass music’s ‘hardcore continuum’. Darkstar find themselves at once looking homeward and venturing further into their own psychic hinterland with each record.

                                                                                                            They’ve covered a lot of ground from the introspective expanse of their debut ‘North’ [2010], to utopian visions of society in ‘News From Nowhere’ [2013] and the unique dynamics of a pre-Brexit northern England on ‘Foam Island’ [2015]. On their latest offering, home is within reach.

                                                                                                            Inspired by the intervening years, Darkstar (aka Aiden Whalley and James Young) show how the personal can be political and reveal more of themselves than they’ve ever done before. Imagine emotional realism built from spectral rave echoes, anchored in timeless songs of love and loss in the digital now and you’ve got it. Patterns of isolation are increasingly easy to fall into, especially when public spaces where people play, socialise, dance and protest are closed. ‘Civic Jams’ is about reminiscing over loss, whilst moving forward with those we love. It offers an abstract look at life’s nuances and the search to find something to hold on to and enjoy.

                                                                                                            75 - Juniore

                                                                                                            Un Deux Trois

                                                                                                              The “yéyé noir” of Juniore has always been rooted in the cinematic as much as the musical. The Paris outfit’s blending of 1960s French pop, hazy psychedelia, seamless pop, surf grooves and lush orchestration feels as intertwined with big screen aesthetics as greatly as it does being found in the grooves of vinyl. So it makes perfect sense that the band would sooner or later find themselves appearing on more film and TV soundtracks, including the universally lauded drama Killing Eve.

                                                                                                              It marks a period of continuous upward trajectory and forward momentum for the band who, since the release of their acclaimed 2018 album Magnifique, have been exposed to more people all over the world via stages and screens. From playing huge venues to thousands of people opening for the likes of the Dandy Warhols, to “corners of dive bars with duct tape holding the stage together” the band have been solidifying their sound, approach and relationship by playing extensively. “We’ve become more connected and better musicians,” Says the band’s songwriter and singer Anna-Jean. “I think the new songs are full of that wonderful conversation we have with each other on stage.”

                                                                                                              It’s this sense of deeper understanding that the band have reached between one another that has allowed them to record an album that sounds as natural, graceful and seamless as this one. “We are now even more who we are than before,” she says of their musical and personal bonding. “And yet we still don’t really know who we'll become next. I know it sounds absurd but it's a very nice feeling.” It’s a feeling that is mirrored in the music too. There is a sense of familiarity, a retro pop flourish – filled with infectious rolling bass lines, razor-sharp guitar lines, dense atmospheres and immersive melodies – yet predicting where the album will go remains a constant impossibility.

                                                                                                              The album’s title Un, Deux, Trois is another nod to the tight unit of the group. Swanny Elzingre and Samy Osta make up the trio, with the former on drums and the latter sharing guitar and keys along with Anna-Jean. It was in Samy’s cosy Paris studio that the album was recorded. The finished tone of the album - recorded often live to a 16 track - sounds like an amalgamation of their favourite French 60's muses like Françoise Hardy, Brigitte Bardot and Anna Karina with the new wave spark of Devo and the B-52's. While that cross-pollination between sultry, sophisticated pop and good-time energy and vibrancy is certainly present, there’s also a wealth of other touching points that underpin the record. So much so that Anna-Jean says of the themes that run through the album: “It’s a mix of everything we have loved and watched and felt in the last few years. It's like a laboratory of feelings – not really my or our feelings but more universal feelings and emotions – it's like a nonsensical Frankenstein’s laboratory."

                                                                                                              However, as fun as this record is, much like its predecessor, there's an underlying lyrical message that remains a key part of the band’s identity as they push forward equality-based principles. “It's the same as we've been trying to state since the beginning,” Anna-Jean suggests. “The importance of being independent, of counterculture, humour and poetry. Of not taking ourselves seriously but being very serious about it and fighting against sexism, ageism, racism, consumerism – all the worthwhile fights.”


                                                                                                              76 - Field Music

                                                                                                              Making A New World

                                                                                                                Field Music’s new release is “Making A New World”, a 19 track song cycle about the after-effects of the First World War. But this is not an album about war and it is not, in any traditional sense, an album about remembrance. There are songs here about air traffic control and gender reassignment surgery. There are songs about Tiananmen Square and about ultrasound. There are even songs about Becontree Housing Estate and about sanitary towels. 

                                                                                                                The songs grew from a project for the Imperial War Museum and were first performed at their sites in Salford and London in January 2019. The starting point was an image from a 1919 publication on munitions by the US War Department, made using “sound ranging”, a technique that utilised an array of transducers to capture the vibrations of gunfire at the front. These vibrations were displayed on a graph, similar to a seismograph, where the distances between peaks on different lines could be used to pinpoint the location of enemy armaments. This particular image showed the minute leading up to 11am on 11th November 1918, and the minute immediately after. One minute of oppressive, juddering noise and one minute of near-silence. “We imagined the lines from that image continuing across the next hundred years,” says the band’s David Brewis, “and we looked for stories which tied back to specific events from the war or the immediate aftermath.” If the original intention might have been to create a mostly instrumental piece, this research forced and inspired a different approach. These were stories itching to be told.

                                                                                                                The songs are in a kind of chronological order, starting with the end of the war itself; the uncertainty of heading home in a profoundly altered world (“Coffee or Wine”). Later we hear a song about the work of Dr Harold Gillies (the shimmering ballad, “A Change of Heir”), whose pioneering work on skin grafts for injured servicemen led him, in the 1940s, to perform some of the very first gender reassignment surgeries. We see how the horrors of the war led to the Dada movement and how that artistic reaction was echoed in the extreme performance art of the 60s and 70s (the mathematical head-spin of “A Shot To The Arm”). And then in the funk stomp of Money Is A Memory, we picture an office worker in the German Treasury preparing documents for the final instalment on reparation debts - a payment made in 2010, 91 years after the Treaty of Versailles was signed. A defining, blood-spattered element of 20th century history becomes a humdrum administrative task in a 21st century bureaucracy.

                                                                                                                FORMAT INFORMATION

                                                                                                                Love Record Stores LP Info: Transparent 180g red vinyl gatefold LP with signed print.

                                                                                                                Coloured LP Info: Limited transparent red 180 gram vinyl housed in a gatefold sleeve.

                                                                                                                77 - The Flaming Lips

                                                                                                                American Head

                                                                                                                  American Legends The Flaming Lips announce the release of their 21st studio album, American Head via Bella Union. The album is comprised of thirteen new cinematic tracks, produced by longtime collaborator Dave Fridmann and The Lips. Among them, “God and the Policeman” featuring backing vocals from country superstar Kasey Musgraves. American Head takes on a welcome temporal shift that occupies a similar space to that of The Soft Bulletin or Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots and just may be their most beautiful and consistent work to date

                                                                                                                  American Head finds The Flaming Lips basking in more reflective lyrical places as Wayne Coyne explains in a longer form story titled “We’re An American Band.”

                                                                                                                  Excerpt below:
                                                                                                                  “The Flaming Lips are from Oklahoma. We never thought of ourselves as an AMERICAN band. I know growing up (when I was like 6 or 7 years old) in Oklahoma I was never influenced by, or was very aware of any musicians from Oklahoma. We mostly listened to the Beatles and my mother loved Tom Jones (this is in the 60’s)... it wasn’t till I was about 10 or 11 that my older brothers would know a few of the local musician dudes.

                                                                                                                  So... for most of our musical life (as The Flaming Lips starting in 1983) we’ve kind of thought of ourselves as coming from ‘Earth’... not really caring WHERE we were actually from. So for the first time in our musical life we began to think of ourselves as ‘AN AMERICAN BAND’… telling ourselves that it would be our identity for our next creative adventure. We had become a 7-piece ensemble and were beginning to feel more and more of a kinship with groups that have a lot of members in them. We started to think of classic American bands like The Grateful Dead and Parliament-Funkadelic and how maybe we could embrace this new vibe.

                                                                                                                  The music and songs that make up the AMERICAN HEAD album are based in a feeling. A feeling that, I think, can only be expressed through music and songs. We were, while creating it, trying to NOT hear it as sounds... but to feel it. Mother’s sacrifice, Father’s intensity, Brother’s insanity, Sister’s rebellion...I can’t quite put it into words.

                                                                                                                  Something switches and others (your brothers and sisters and mother and father...your pets) start to become more important to you…in the beginning there is only you... and your desires are all that you can care about...but... something switches.. I think all of these songs are about this little switch.”




                                                                                                                  FORMAT INFORMATION

                                                                                                                  2xColoured LP Info: 2 x 180g heavyweight tri-colour vinyl.

                                                                                                                  78 - Floodlights

                                                                                                                  From A View

                                                                                                                    ‘From a View’ is the debut album from Melbourne’s Floodlights.

                                                                                                                    'From a View' explores themes of identity, personal cross-roads and the misuse of power.

                                                                                                                    The bands first exploration into proper studio recording with a well regarded sound engineer. It was recorded over two days onto a 24 track tape machine at Head Gap studios in Preston in November.

                                                                                                                    Floodlights are made up of members Louis Parsons, Ashlee Kehoe, Joe Draffen and Archie Shannon. They present a distinctly Australian perspective, with a shambolic, catchy sound that melds 80s Indie-Rock rock with 90s New Zealand jangle-pop.

                                                                                                                    Following a tour of Australia’s East Coast in October last year the band began working on “From a View”. The songs were arranged and performed as a band, but often began from Louis or Ash presenting ideas to the group and building on them from there. The songs themselves were written over various points in the bands short career, yet come together very fittingly to show their distinct sound.

                                                                                                                    Lead single Thanks For Understanding is about two lives going in different directions. It describes the complicated process of growing apart from someone, even though you still care for them.


                                                                                                                    STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                                                    says: Great debut album from this Melbourne four piece. They have a distinctly Antipodean sound, that draws on 80s and 90s indie rock with a nod to Flying Nun records in it's prime.

                                                                                                                    FORMAT INFORMATION

                                                                                                                    Coloured LP Info: Indies only yellow ochre coloured vinyl.
                                                                                                                    Limited to 400 copies.

                                                                                                                    79 - Daniel Avery + Alessandro Cortini

                                                                                                                    Illusion Of Time

                                                                                                                      Renowned UK producer Daniel Avery and acclaimed experimental musician and Nine Inch Nails synth artist Alessandro Cortini announce their debut full-length collaboration, ‘Illusion Of Time’, set for release on Phantasy.

                                                                                                                      Beginning as a collaborative experiment before the pair had even met, Avery and Cortini then worked remotely and free of concept or deadline over several years. The result, finally completed when both artists were touring with Nine Inch Nails in 2018, is a quietly powerful album rooted in trust, process and experimentation.

                                                                                                                      “It was very much a shared process,” notes Avery. “I would like to credit Alessandro with his belief that music has a life of its own, as well as the importance he places on the first take... That even something that may be considered out-of-step by some should be respected. Some of the tracks were borne simply out of a tiny synth part, or a bit of tape hiss that we had recorded. And that approach taught me a lot. It’s a record that’s been worked on hard, but not laboured over.”

                                                                                                                      “I was a big fan of Daniel’s, and his work always spoke to me in a certain way,’’ explains Cortini. “Then, when we started working together, it just clicked. It’s very hard to explain, but I can always hear the love in his work, and that is true on this record. After our first collaboration, we just kept sending each other music and maintaining that dialogue. Next thing you know, we’re sitting in a hotel room in New York and had finished the record in three hours.”

                                                                                                                      FORMAT INFORMATION

                                                                                                                      Love Record Stores LP Info: Clear blue vinyl edition.

                                                                                                                      80 - Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith

                                                                                                                      The Mosaic Of Transformation

                                                                                                                      West coast composer, artist, and producer Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith has chartered a pioneering career with multiple critically-acclaimed albums since 2015. Following the release of The Kid in 2017, Smith focused her energy in several directions. She founded Touchtheplants, a multidisciplinary creative environment for projects including the first volumes in her instrumental Electronic Series and pocket-sized poetry books on the practice of listening within. She’s continued to explore the endless possibilities of electronic instruments as well as the shapes, movements, and expressions found in the physical body’s relationship to sound and color. It is this life-guiding interest that forms the foundational frequencies of her most recent full-length, The Mosaic of Transformation, a bright, sensorial glide through unbound wave phenomena and the radiant power discovered within oneself.

                                                                                                                      “I guess in one sentence, this album is my expression of love and appreciation for electricity,” says Smith. While writing and recording, she embraced a daily practice of physical movement, passing electricity through her body and into motion, in ways reflecting her audio practice, which sends currents through modular synthesizers and into the air through speakers. Not a dancer by any traditional definition, she taught herself improvisatory movement realizing flexibility, strength, and unexpectedly, a “visual language” stemming from the human body and comprised of vibrational shapes. Understood as cymatics, as Smith says, “as a reference for how frequencies can be visualized,” much like a mosaic.

                                                                                                                      Smith describes her first encounters with this mosaic; “the inspiration came to me in a sudden bubble of joy. It was accompanied by a multitude of shapes that were moving seamlessly from one into the other...My movement practice has been a constant transformation piece by piece. I made this album in the same way. Every day I would transform what I did yesterday...into something else. This album has gone through about 12 different versions of itself.” As it has arrived, in a completed state, The Mosaic of Transformation is a holistic manifestation of embodied motions. Smith’s signature textural curiosity that fans have grown to adore pivots naturally into a proprioceptive study of melody and timbre. Airy organ and voice interweave with burbling Buchla-spawned harmonic bubbles.

                                                                                                                      “The Steady Heart” quivers to life, peppering blasts of wooden organ between winding vocal affirmations. As with a body, moving one portion requires a balance and counterbalance; here, subtle tonal twitchy signals fire in conjunction with coiling arias to create a mesmeric core. When the beat arrives at the midway mark, a swooping and jittery waltz, a sense of stasis in motion, a flow state, is sonically achieved. As soon as it syncs, it disappears back into the swirling ebbs of electric force. Other tracks stray into more ruminative physical realms. “Carrying Gravity” is built around string-like pads that expand and contract like a solar plexus, becoming taught and then loose.

                                                                                                                      If the record could be summarized in a single movement, it is the 10-minute closing suite, a rapturous collage called “Expanding Electricity.” Symphonic phrases establish the piece before washes of glittering electric peals and synthesized vibraphone helix into focus. Soon, Smith’s voice grounds it all with an intuitive vocal hook, harmonized and augmented by concentric spirals of harp-and-horn-like sounds. Smith’s music doesn’t capture a specific emotion as much as it captures the joys of possessing a body, and the ability to, with devotion and a steady open heart, maneuver that vessel in space by way of electricity to euphoric degrees. 


                                                                                                                      STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                                                      says: It's sometimes hard to listen to electronic music that has no real basis in rhythm or melody, and while the Buchla modular synth has produced some pretty 'out-there' albums, KAS is not one of those artists. She's created some mind-blowingly beautiful meditative ambient albums, but it's not one of those either. This is a wildly creative, beautifully accomplished coherent stream of gorgeousness, and shows just how diverse a modular synth album can be.

                                                                                                                      FORMAT INFORMATION

                                                                                                                      Coloured LP Info: Transparent coloured vinyl.

                                                                                                                      LP includes MP3 Download Code.

                                                                                                                      Wire exhibit little inclination to look back - rather they remain resolutely focused on producing music which is smart, vital and defiantly modern. Mind Hive is the group’s first newly recorded material since 2017’s Silver/Lead. That album garnered rave reviews and career best sales. Yet, if Silver/Lead set the bar pretty high, Mind Hive seems to have no problem vaulting over it.

                                                                                                                      Be Like Them is a super-angular composition, utilizing a recently rediscovered Wire lyric from 1977. Colin Newman and Matthew Simms’ guitars constantly mesh and diverge, whilst the rhythm section ensures the song prowls forward with an unstoppable menace.

                                                                                                                      Cactused is the first of Mind Hive’s pop moments. The vocal is wide eyed and wired, with effects-heavy guitar work creating a bright web of noise, with the song’s stop/start moments providing a series of precise energy bursts.

                                                                                                                      Primed And Ready rides out on a tightly pulsing synth sequence punctuated by icy slivers of guitar. This is Wire at their most compressed yet propulsive.

                                                                                                                      Off The Beach is another prime pop song. With its breezy, optimistic melody, and blend of electric and acoustic guitars, the song initially sees the group seemingly celebrating the joys of everyday life but things are destined to turn a shade stranger.

                                                                                                                      Unrepentant explores the kind of bucolic soundscape early Pink Floyd would have been proud to call their own. Boasting one of the album’s finest texts, the song radiates out into a shimmering sonic heat haze.

                                                                                                                      Shadows pulls the classic Wire trick of placing a dark and cruel lyric in a musical setting of tender beauty. Never has the recounting of atrocity been so seductively pitched.

                                                                                                                      Oklahoma is the muscular and dramatic joker in the pack. Lewis’ dark vocal swims through a rich compound of guitar textures and synth tones, building into a masterclass of tension and release.

                                                                                                                      Hung is the album’s centrepiece. This 8-minute excursion matches a brief but evocative lyric with a dense, mesmeric guitar grind. Simms and Newman’s keyboards add a plaintive note, as the song moves through a series of sections, each with its own distinct atmosphere.

                                                                                                                      Humming is a beatless autumnal drift fashioned from delicate keyboard textures and rich soaring guitar tones. Newman delivers a state of the world lyric with a touching sense of innocence, whilst the piece ends with Lewis’ husky baritone listing locations and their difficult associations. An elegiac end to a supremely confident album.

                                                                                                                      Mind Hive arrives at a time when Wire are being cited as an influence by yet another generation of bands. A career spanning feature documentary called People in a Film is due for release late 2020. Quite how a group that has been operating for such a long period is still able to produce such exciting and essential work is difficult to understand. And yet here we are…

                                                                                                                      82 - Jónsi

                                                                                                                      Shiver

                                                                                                                        Shiver is the exciting and beautiful second record from LA-based Icelandic musician Jónsi. Recorded in Berlin, Reykjavik, London and Suomenlinna and available exclusively on heavy weight vinyl for the indies.

                                                                                                                        Not too long ago Jónsi was traveling through London, where he met up with iconoclastic producer A.G. Cook, who he admired for his boundary-breaking work with the PC music collective. He had no expectation for the meeting, but the more they talked, the more he realized they might be perfect collaborators. “I’ve been doing this for 30 years,” Jónsi says. “I get tired of everything really easily. I always want things to be fun and exciting and fresh, and doing another album...I just wanted to have a different approach.”

                                                                                                                        Jónsi had made a career on sweeping music that plumbed the depths of the human experience and our connection to the natural world. Cook’s production exists at the opposite end of the spectrum: synthetic, sometimes abrasive, and often on the cutting edge of experimentalism. On paper, their collaboration is surprising, but Shiver is a beautiful record that pushes Jónsi’s otherworldly voice into startling new territories.

                                                                                                                        STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                                                        says: As frontman of Sigur Rós, Jonsi has been responsible for some of my favourite moments in music of the last 20 years. While things have definitely changed for his solo material (aside from 'Riceboy Sleeps' with partner Alex Somers, which was a very gorgeous ambient affair), this retains the slo-mo ambient aesthetic we've come to know him for, but imbued with some of the more upbeat moments from his previous outing, 'Go'.

                                                                                                                        FORMAT INFORMATION

                                                                                                                        2xIndies Exclusive LP Info: 2 x vinyl LP.
                                                                                                                        Heavyweight 180gm black vinyl indie exclusive.
                                                                                                                        Gatefold sleeve with spot varnish.
                                                                                                                        Limited to 500 copies for the UK.

                                                                                                                        2xLtd LP Info: 2 x vinyl LP.
                                                                                                                        Standard weight 140gm black vinyl indie exclusive.
                                                                                                                        Gatefold sleeve with spot varnish.

                                                                                                                        83 - The Cool Greenhouse

                                                                                                                        The Cool Greenhouse

                                                                                                                          Those in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones, but The Cool Greenhouse are about to shatter glass ceilings with their self-titled debut LP.

                                                                                                                          “I wanted to hear repetitive music that wasn’t pretentious” tells the band’s voice Tom Greenhouse of his personal agenda to inject some pop sentimentality into the rock’n’roll textbook. “The mission was to make long, repetitive pop music that wasn’t boring. I soon realised I could do that through focusing on the lyrics.”

                                                                                                                          With phrases culled from the pages of his many notebooks, Greenhouse has a way with words. Exploring Rotary Club jumble sales and mausoleums or making futuristic voyages into musical VR, his songs dig at the gammon classes and scoff at the stupidity of society alongside pop punches about female harassment. Inspired by conversations and magazine articles he narrates upon the world as he sees it, preferring wise-cracks and judgement to merely passing comment. “At school I wrote a story about a whale that fell in love with a submarine and tried to have sex with it which almost caused a serious nuclear meltdown; it won a prize. As a teenager I thought I was Arthur Rimbaud so moved to Paris and wrote terrible poetry.”

                                                                                                                          Down and out in Paris and later, in London, Tom got skint fast so headed to the sticks of Norwich. Sitting in his garden, inspired to turn scripture into song and record it on a friend’s tape recorder, he began penning the album between writing clickbait articles to get by and turned to humour to express his deeper thoughts; “A lot of punk is on the nose like “fuck the Tories” but I’m not that hardcore. Humour is good for talking about serious things without getting too sentimental.”

                                                                                                                          Encouraged by The Shadow Ring’s Graham Lambkin (“I wrote to him asking whether it was worth the bother. He sent a really nice reply. He probably doesn’t remember, but it spurred me on.”), Tom took to the live circuit, but his solo backing track performances needed a fuller sound. Ahead of securing a show with The Stroppies, he turned to the talent of guitarist Tom O Driscoll, bassist Thom Mason, drummer and percussionist Kevin Barthelemy and Merlin Nova on keys and synths, harmonium, melodica, violin and backing vocals. “We practiced the songs and played that first show; we did a good job and Melodic signed us! Those guys are crazy,” Tom says. Perhaps not; also championed by DIY it could be a sign of things to come as the band prepare for their Great Escape debut.

                                                                                                                          Discovering The Cool Greenhouse’s first 7” (which coincidentally mentioned his own surname) ace producer, sound engineer and mixer Phil Booth (Sleaford Mods, Jake Bugg) invited the group to his JT Soar studio in Nottingham. The old potato-packing warehouse offered an idiosyncratic working method for the band, who recorded the album over 7 days as live between kipping on its couches, 4am whiskey-soaked sessions and Mario Kart ’64 on demand. “Phil’s got all the kit and know-how, but the studio is rough around the edges with great character,” Tom tells. “There were weird little synchronistic miracles… discussing a song then seeing its title on a shop window, finding things in pubs straight out of our songs… these zapped me onto some sort of Jungian plane where I didn’t need sleep and knew just what to do.”

                                                                                                                          Blissfully instinctive, Tom’s lexicon flies across the album with the agitation of an internal monologue that won’t quit. From pop culture to cautionary tales, anything deemed too musically extravagant was swiftly removed before being mastered by Mikey Young (Bodega, Amyl and the Sniffers); “we added a tympani and clarinet but ended up taking it all off again” At times the Truman Show-trappings of ‘Trojan Horse’ or ‘Gum’s unsettling cowbell hint at the motoric. For now, whatever it is that gets you going, let’s just call it The Cool Greenhouse effect.


                                                                                                                          FORMAT INFORMATION

                                                                                                                          Dinked Edition LP Info: • Exclusive Dinked ‘Ultra Clear’ colour vinyl.
                                                                                                                          • Exclusive signed and numbered postcard.
                                                                                                                          • Exclusive Dinked Colour OBI strip.
                                                                                                                          • Includes download code containing two bonus tracks exclusive to Dinked.
                                                                                                                          • Reverse Board Outer Sleeve.
                                                                                                                          • Matt Black Inner Sleeve W/ Centre Holes.
                                                                                                                          • Matt Art Paper Two Sided Insert.

                                                                                                                          84 - Luke Abbott

                                                                                                                          Translate

                                                                                                                            'Translate' is the first solo artist album in six years from Norfolk synthesizer specialist Luke Abbott: a strikingly direct and assured return to the solo music-making game following a productive diversion into live improvisation with his experimental jazz trio Szun Waves.

                                                                                                                            At times dark and ominous, others bright and welcoming, these eleven electronic vignettes form a dramatic and undeniably cinematic body of work which functions as a fitting widescreen soundtrack to our new now.

                                                                                                                            The lumbering rhythms, strident synths and distinctive touchstones of 'Translate' represent a musical reconciliation with the directness of the wave-making rolling synth-kraut of Abbott’s forthright debut 'Holkham Drones'.

                                                                                                                            Newly-reinvigorated and with a new sense of musical purpose, this is Luke Abbott’s sound fully realised and never so sure of itself.

                                                                                                                            STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                                                            says: 'Holkham Drones' was one of my favourite albums for many a year, and still gets a good playing nowadays but nothing has come close to the mind-melting electronic bliss-blanket of 'Translate'. Perfectly split between hypnotic electronic counterpoints and synthy, IDM levity.

                                                                                                                            FORMAT INFORMATION

                                                                                                                            2xDinked Edition LP Info: • Audiophile-friendly double crystal clear vinyl.
                                                                                                                            • 15cm die-cut vinyl sticker insert.
                                                                                                                            • Numbered Edition.
                                                                                                                            • Limited to 300.
                                                                                                                            • Download code.

                                                                                                                            2xLP Info: Black vinyl edition.

                                                                                                                            2xLP includes MP3 Download Code.

                                                                                                                            85 - Carlton Melton

                                                                                                                            Where This Leads

                                                                                                                              Agitated is more than pleased to announce the long over-due return to wax (and CD) by Carlton Melton, the new album from San Franciscan / Northern Californian space-trippers is here, and its ready to tune you out and turn you on.

                                                                                                                              Nestled deep in the forests of Mendocino County in Northern California, huddled under the protective shade of towering redwoods and within earshot of frothy waves crashing against the Pacific coastline, squats a geodesic dome that has served as crucible for the experimental genius of Carlton Melton. Nature and Man operate under different logics. But here, Carlton Melton wholly entrusts this idyllic environment with the task of inspiring and guiding their musical improvisations.

                                                                                                                              The Dome has been the ideal setting to facilitate their creativity. Without forcing a specific dynamic or theme, the band inhabits its womb-like confines to improvise, explore, dream. Their music draws on psychedelia, stoner metal, krautrock, and ambient atmospherics to convey, above all else, a mood.

                                                                                                                              A prickly guitar melody will float lazily, a wall of dissonant feedback will resolve into a hypnotic drone, or a colossal riff will exhume the soul of Jimi Hendrix. One hears Hawkwind or Spacemen 3 jamming with Pink Floyd at Pompeii.

                                                                                                                              Indeed, Carlton Melton have one foot in the ancient world and one tentacle in deep space. They are both the pack of proto-humans drumming with femurs in Kubrick’s 2001 and the film’s inscrutable monolith hinting at the universe’s mysteries. The “Stoned Ape” theory holds that early hominids ingested psychedelic mushrooms that provided an evolutionary boost to their brains, helping them blossom into Homo Sapiens. Imagine such cavemen trippin’ balls, their nightmarish visions sending them into feverish bouts of rage and then gentle moments of introspection. They very well could have heard the music of Carlton Melton rattling inside their skulls, first driving our ancestors mad then upward into a higher realm.

                                                                                                                              Andy Duvall (drums, guitar), Clint Golden (bass), and Rich Millman (guitar, synths) have yet to play Pompeii, but they have already wowed crowds at European festivals such as the Liverpool International Festival of Psychedelia, Roadburn, and Desertfest Antwerp. Live, they are jaw-dropping. On record, mind-altering.

                                                                                                                              In fact, with each album, Carlton Melton adds a subtle new element, synapses firing new neural connections. In 2020, they release new full-length Where This Leads, marking ten years of the band’s working relationship with their UK label Agitated Records and five years of recording with Phil Manley in his El Studio in San Francisco. With Where This Leads, the band rewires the listener’s mind. “Smoke Drip Revisited” is a ticklish acid flashback, “Porch Dreams” a dabbling in country psych, and “Closer” a driving, freak-out of guitar heroics.

                                                                                                                              One senses that the group is conveying a message that cannot be expressed verbally but only suggested through synth sighs, walloping rhythms, and soaring solos. Would Carlton Melton therefore be a group of stoned apes dizzily grasping for meaning or telepathic futurists communicating to us through crude man-made instrumentation?

                                                                                                                              Well, lower the stylus to find out.
                                                                                                                              - Eric Bensel, Paris July 2020

                                                                                                                              FORMAT INFORMATION

                                                                                                                              2xColoured LP Info: Indies Vinyl Colourway:
                                                                                                                              Disc 1 Green Transparent
                                                                                                                              Disc 2 Marbré Opaque

                                                                                                                              86 - Suzanne Vallie

                                                                                                                              Love Lives Where Rules Die

                                                                                                                                After a hard spell, heartbroken and drifting, Suzanne Vallie aimed to make a driving record rich with sympathy, high romance, and dedicated to the magic of good-timing. Other themes on the album include dogs, surfers, and the supernatural.

                                                                                                                                Vallie, a sorta-recluse living in rural Big Sur, California, is known for her improvisational performances where she freestyles lyrics and tells stories, both mythical and rowdy. She wrote the bulk of Love Lives Where Rules Die during the bummer summer after a breakup. It was a time when she drove up and down Highway 1 trying to blow out the speakers of her 94’ Honda. (bummer summer playlist).

                                                                                                                                The 11 songs of Love Lives Where Rules Die were largely live-tracked over five days. Suzanne Vallie and a core band of California col-laborators flew out to upstate New York during the last warm days of September 2019. Vallie and her producer, Rob Shelton, chose Dream-land Recording in Hurley, New York, for many reasons. The analog signal flow sounded embracing. The studio, a hundred-some-year-old church, had room for the whole crew to live-track. Some said a ghost might come around. What’s more, much of the band was already on tour out East, playing a run of shows with both Luke Temple and Meerna, double duty every night. They were plenty warmed-up.
                                                                                                                                Opening with “Ocean Cliff Drive”, Vallie sings of driving on the winding cliff side of Highway 1, blinded by fog and rain, all the same singing, “I can't see the road ahead of me, but I’m coming.”

                                                                                                                                The title track, "Love Lives Where Rules Die", begins with baritone guitar calling in a story of a broken heart among good company. With no way out in a three-day storm, Vallie asks friends to sing her love songs, and flies "on a wild light" with a “heart on borrowed wings.”

                                                                                                                                The party anthems, “Morro Bay” and “High With You”, celebrate friendship and the delicious urge for fun with Springsteen length lyric sheets. For Vallie, recording the sing-along "High With You" was also a “high” point in the making of Love Lives Where Rules Die. “It was midnight. We were real loose. Everybody got a tambourine!”

                                                                                                                                The album features production and keys by Rob Shelton (Meernaa, Sis, Luke Temple, Kacey Johansing), guitar by Blake Kennedy (The Range of Light Wilderness), guitar and vocals by Carly Bond (Meerna, Sis), guitar and bass by Doug Stuart (Meerna, Brijean), percussion and drums by Andrew Maguire (Mirah, Vetiver, Meerna) with contributions from violin virtuoso, Edwin Huizinga (Acronym, Dark Watchers), percussion by Mark Clifford and Bob Ladue, and backing vocals by Paul Spring, Emily Ritz (Yesway, Honeycomb), and Molly Sarle´ (Moun-tain Man).


                                                                                                                                STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                                                                says: Shimmering folky ballads, rich with glowing strings and slide guitar, all topped with Vallie's softly enunciated vocals. A perfect mix of haze and melody.

                                                                                                                                FORMAT INFORMATION

                                                                                                                                Ltd LP includes MP3 Download Code.

                                                                                                                                87 - I Break Horses

                                                                                                                                Warnings

                                                                                                                                  If I Break Horses’s third album holds you in its grip like a great film, it’s no coincidence. Faced with making the follow-up to 2014’s plush Chiaroscuro, Horses’s Maria Lindén decided to take the time to make something different, with an emphasis on instrumental, cinematic music. As she watched a collection of favourite films on her computer (sound muted) and made her own soundtrack sketches, these sonic workouts gradually evolved into something more: “It wasn’t until I felt an urge to add vocals and lyrics,” says Lindén, “that I realized I was making a new I Break Horses album.”

                                                                                                                                  That album is Warnings, an intimate and sublimely expansive return that, as its recording suggests, sets its own pace with the intuitive power of a much-loved movie. And, as its title suggests, its sumptuous sound worlds – dreamy mellotrons, haunting loops, analogue synths – and layered lyrics crackle with immersive dramatic tensions on many levels. “It’s not a political album,” says Lindén, “though it relates to the alarmist times we live in. Each song is a subtle warning of something not being quite right.”

                                                                                                                                  As Lindén notes, the process of making Warnings involved different kinds of dramas. “It has been some time in the making. About five years, involving several studios, collaborations that didn’t work out, a crashed hard drive with about two years of work, writing new material again instead of trying to repair it. New studio recordings, erasing everything, then recording most of the album myself at home…”

                                                                                                                                  Yet the pay-off for her long-haul immersion is clear from statement-of-intent album opener ‘Turn’, a waltzing kiss-off to an ex swathed in swirling synths over nine emotive minutes. On ‘Silence’, Lindén suggests deeper sorrows in the interplay of serene surface synths, hypnotic loops and elemental images: when she sings “I feel a shiver,” you feel it, too.

                                                                                                                                  Elsewhere, on three instrumental interludes, Lindén’s intent to experiment with sound and structure is clear. Meanwhile, there are art-pop songs here more lush than any she has made. ‘I’ll Be the Death of You’ occupies a middle ground between Screamedlica and early OMD, while ‘Neon Lights’ brings to mind Kraftwerk on Tron’s light grid. ‘I Live At Night’ slow-burns like a song made for night-time LA drives; ‘Baby You Have Travelled for Miles without Love in Your Eyes’ is an electronic lullaby spiked with troubling needle imagery. ‘Death Engine’’s dark-wave dream-pop provides an epic centrepiece, of sorts, before the vocoder hymnal of closer ‘Depression Tourist’ arrives like an epiphany, the clouds parting after a long, absorbing journey.

                                                                                                                                  For Lindén, Warnings is a remarkable re-routing of a journey begun when I Break Horses’s debut album, Hearts (2011), drew praise from Pitchfork, The Guardian, NME, The Independent and others for its luxurious grandeur and pulsing sense of art-pop life. With the electro-tangents of 2014’s Chiaroscuro, Lindén forged a new, more ambitious voice with total confidence. Along the way, I Break Horses toured with M83 and SigurRós; latterly, U2 played Hearts’ ecstatic ‘Winter Beats’ through the PA before their stage entrance on 2018’s ‘Experience + Innocence’ tour. Good choice.

                                                                                                                                  A new friend on Warnings is US producer/mixing engineer Chris Coady, whose graceful way with dense sound (credits include Beach House, TV on the Radio) was not the sole reason Lindén invited him to mix the album. “Before reaching out to Chris I read an interview where he said, ‘I like to slow things down. Almost every time I love the sound of something slowed down by half, but sometimes 500% you can get interesting shapes and textures.’ And I just knew he’d be the right person for this album.”

                                                                                                                                  If making Warnings was a slow process, so be it: that steady gestation was a price worth paying for its lavish accretions of detail and meaning, where secrets aplenty await listeners eager to immerse themselves. “Nowadays, the attention span equals nothing when it comes to how most people consume music,” Lindén says. “And it feels like songs are getting shorter, more ‘efficient’. I felt an urge to go against that and create an album journey from start to finish that takes time and patience to listen to. Like, slow the fuck down!” Happily, Warnings provides all the incentives required.


                                                                                                                                  FORMAT INFORMATION

                                                                                                                                  2xColoured LP Info: Clear vinyl.

                                                                                                                                  2xColoured LP includes MP3 Download Code.

                                                                                                                                  88 - Holy Wave

                                                                                                                                  Interloper

                                                                                                                                    Holy Wave is an experimental dream-pop band originally from El Paso, Texas. After seeing a life-altering performance by My Bloody Valentine in 2008, the band moved to Austin to pursue their own vision of Texas psych, their sweet melodies dyed in carefully constructed noise.Over the course of four albums, the band have cemented themselves as a staple force in the international indie scene, with key performances at Levitation, Desert Daze, and nearly every psych gathering on the planet. They’ve toured the world, and shared the stage with heroes such as Slowdive, Spiritualized, Hope Sandoval and The Black Angels. Their body of work has received critical acclaim from Pitchfork, Consequence of Sound, Paste Magazine and countless others, and in 2020 they are prepared to release their latest body of work.

                                                                                                                                    Interloper sees the band adding new layers to their lush and mesmerizing songwriting style. Written about the duality between life at home and life on the road, it sees the band expanding on their most esoteric and thought-provoking themes. “I’m Not Living in the Past Anymore” is a mantra about breaking the cycle of the mundane, “Escapism” is a dream-like meditation. “Interloper” serves as the centerpiece for this self-expanding record, asking, what happens when the world beneath your feet changes so much that you feel like a stranger in your own shoes? The band turns inward, to blissed-out moments on album opener “Schmetterling”, the saccharine haze of “R&B”, and the freak-out catharsis of live favorite “Buddhist Pete”.

                                                                                                                                    With Interloper Holy Wave weaves together a contemplative tapestry that can serve as a road map for the diffident, a soundtrack to self-realization, or simply an invitation to escape.

                                                                                                                                    STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                                                                    says: Holy Wave have done it again. Our favourite psych-pop Texans deliver another hazy, reverb laden trip. One for the dreamers!

                                                                                                                                    FORMAT INFORMATION

                                                                                                                                    Coloured LP Info: White vinyl edition.

                                                                                                                                    89 - Shabaka & The Ancestors

                                                                                                                                    We Were Sent Here By History

                                                                                                                                    Shabaka Hutchings is a British-Barbadian jazz saxophonist, clarinetist and band leader. He leads the bands Sons of Kemet and Shabaka and the Ancestors. He is also a member of The Comet Is Coming, performing under the stage name King Shabaka. S&TA project was formed in early 2016, leading to their debut album later that year ‘Wisdom of Elders’; a document of sessions combining Hutchings with a group of South African jazz musicians he’d long admired. His connection to the group was Mandla Mlangeni (bandleader of the Amandla Freedom Ensemble), whom he’d flown there to play with over the past few years. ‘We Are Sent Here by History’ is a meditation on the fact of our coming extinction as a species. It is a reflection from the ruins, from the burning. A questioning of the steps to be taken in preparation for our transition individually and societally if the end is to be seen as anything but a tragic defeat. For those lives lost and cultures dismantled by centuries of western expansionism, capitalist thought and white supremist structural hegemony the end days have long been heralded as present with this world experienced as an embodiment of a living purgatory. 


                                                                                                                                    90 - PINS

                                                                                                                                    Hot Slick

                                                                                                                                      Bold post-punk, female trio, PINS release their third full-length LP Hot Slick via their own Haus of Pins label. The vibrant album is filled with neon synths, loud guitars, and cheeky melodies that mirror the group’s new boldly-hued imagery and create the sound of a girl gang refreshed and amplified. Hot Slick features a trio of recently released singles: the glitchy and cathartic title track (produced by Jamie Hince of The Kills) and anthemic “Bad Girls Forever” (produced by Rich Woodcraft) as well as the high-heeled skittering beat struts of “Ponytail”.

                                                                                                                                      The 10 new original tracks found the trio of singer/guitarist Faith Vern, guitarist Lois MacDonald and bassist Kyoko Swan welcoming a rotating cast of collaborators following the departure of their original rhythm section. Rich Woodcraft oversaw the entire project as producer and engineer, while Jamie Hince and Dean Horner contributed additional production and Nathan Saoudi of Fat White Family lent his talents on the keys. The resulting album highlights an expanded soundscape with nods to influences such as Soulwax, LCD Soundsystem, Suicide, and New Order.

                                                                                                                                      Since the release of Girls Like Us in 2013, PINS has exuded strength in their danceable alternative post-punk transmissions and earned the trust, endorsement, and creative blessings of rock royalty such as Iggy Pop, with whom they collaborated on 2017’s The Bad Thing EP. 2015’s Wild Nights earned widespread critical acclaim including an Album of the Week nod from Stereogum and profiles in Harper’s Bazaar, Interview Magazine, The Guardian, DAZED, and i-D.

                                                                                                                                      FORMAT INFORMATION

                                                                                                                                      Coloured LP Info: Indies exclusive transparent orange vinyl.

                                                                                                                                      The brand new album delivers the band’s most inspired and self-aware set of songs to date, created over the course of a year at upstate New York’s Marcata Sound. Following his work on 2011’s Days, engineer Kevin McMahon returns as producer, and, for the first time ever, Real Estate have brought in outside instrumentalists and special guests like Sylvan Esso, whose vocalist Amelia Meath features on first single, “Paper Cup.”

                                                                                                                                      Across the album’s 13 interrogative tracks – as full of depth, strangeness, and contradictions as they are lifting hooks – the band balances existential, environmental, and political anxieties with fatherly sentiments, self-satirizing lyrics, forever-lively guitar lines, and shimmering strings.

                                                                                                                                      The Main Thing arrives with a fresh commitment the members of Real Estate - Alex Bleeker (bass), Martin Courtney (vocals, guitar), Matthew Kallman (keyboards), Julian Lynch (guitar, vocals), and Jackson Pollis (drums and drum programming) - have made to each other, 10 years and 5 full-length LPs into a career spent crafting unmistakable and influential palettes of sound. The band underwent a collaborative evolution for this album, which saw each member experimenting in new roles, and alongside Sylvan Esso’s Amelia Meath, Matt Barrick of The Walkmen, Aaron Johnston of Brazilian Girls and a string quartet all play on the record.

                                                                                                                                      STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                                                                      says: Real Estate have always held a special place in our hearts, and certainly our racks, and 'The Main Thing' is just further unnecessary evidence that they will remain just as beloved for years to come. Soaring, hazy guitars and shimmering psychedelic progressions make the perfect backdrop for Courtney's longing vocals, forming a cohesive and immersive blanket to keep you warm. Lovely.

                                                                                                                                      92 - Ghostpoet

                                                                                                                                      I Grow Tired But Dare Not Fall Asleep

                                                                                                                                        The two-time Mercury Prize nominee Ghostpoet (aka Obaro Ejimiwe) follows up 2017’s acclaimed 'Dark Days + Canapés’ with a record which couldn’t feel more prescient, a dystopian snapshot of the universal unease and anxiety we feel as we enter into this new decade, an uncertain future distilled across these 10 vital tracks.

                                                                                                                                        The bluesy, gritty ‘Concrete Pony’ is the perfect entry point to the record – in Obaro’s own words; “It’s a snapshot of where we’re at as a society I feel, we seem to have everything and nothing at all. Infinite possibilities and choices galore but we seem set in stone, frozen in place, oblivious to the storm clouds in the distance…”

                                                                                                                                        Recorded in London and written, arranged and produced by Ghostpoet, ‘I Grow Tired But Dare Not Fall Asleep’ incorporates a myriad of sounds and styles but is anchored by the more alt-rock sonics presented across his last two records. It features guest vocals from an eclectic mix of artists; Art School Girlfriend, Skinny Girl Diet’s Delilah Holiday, SaraSara and Katie Dove Dixon. Obaro has always had a keen ear for collaboration, having worked with the likes of Massive Attack, Nadine Shah, Melanie Di Biasio, Maximo Park’s Paul Smith and Damon Albarn’s Africa Express amongst others across his distinguished career.

                                                                                                                                        93 - Nubya Garcia

                                                                                                                                        Source

                                                                                                                                          'Multi award-winning saxophonist and composer Nubya Garcia is back with her much anticipated debut album, "Source". Her first release on Concord Records, under the iconic Concord Jazz imprint. The album follows her 2018 self-released EP, "When We Are", the title track of which was described as “effervescent” by The New York Times and named one of NPR’s Best Songs of 2018. Her debut EP, "Nubya’s 5ive", released in 2017, was hailed as “exceptional” by The Vinyl Factory and sold out on vinyl within 24 hours. In 2018, Garcia also featured on five of the nine tracks on "We Out Here", the Brownswood compilation project celebrating London’s young and exciting jazz scene.

                                                                                                                                          She won the Jazz FM Breakthrough Act of the Year Award and the Sky Arts Breakthrough Act of the Year Award in 2018, and the Jazz FM UK Jazz Act of the Year Award in 2019. A collection of sonic mantras to live by, "Source" is a deeply personal offering in which Garcia maps cartographies around the coordinate points of her identity, her family histories, grief, afro-diasporic connections and collectivism. "Source" is fundamentally about getting grounded within yourself, so that you can be present with others. It's about a realization of personal and collective power: the evolution of the saxophonist’s values as she re-connects with herself, her roots and her community. Garcia digs deep to present an album with a global outlook: from London to Bogota, Caura to Georgetown, it's a record drawing inspiration from the many places Garcia calls home. 

                                                                                                                                          STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                                                                          says: Nubya Garcia has been leading the way in the nu-jazz world, her incredible new album Source is uplifting and powerful and has been one I’ve been looking forward to for a long time now – the wait is over!

                                                                                                                                          FORMAT INFORMATION

                                                                                                                                          LP Info: Black vinyl edition.

                                                                                                                                          A new project by Chicago-based drummer/producer Makaya McCraven. An addendum to his critically-acclaimed 2018 release Universal Beings, which The New York Times said "affirms the drummer and beatsmith's position as a major figure in creative music," Universal Beings E&F Sides presents fourteen new pieces of organic beat music cut from the original sessions, prepared and produced by Makaya as a soundtrack to the Universal Beings documentary film.

                                                                                                                                          Directed by Mark Pallman, the Universal Beings documentary follows Makaya to Los Angeles, Chicago, London and New York City for a behind the scenes look into the making of the artists breakthrough album, taking the viewer through the story of Makaya's life, his process and the community of musicians that helped bring this project to life. The Universal Beings documentary and Universal Beings E&F Sides album will be released on International Anthem.

                                                                                                                                          Named one of the best jazz albums of 2018 by The New York Times, Rolling Stone, NPR, Stereogum, Billboard, SPIN, The Wall Street Journal, The Chicago Tribune, and more, Universal Beings was recorded at four sessions in New York, Chicago, London and Los Angeles, and features some of the best "new" jazz players from those hot bed cities: Brandee Younger, Tomeka Reid, Dezron Douglas, Joel Ross, Shabaka Hutchings, Junius Paul, Nubya Garcia, Daniel Casimir, Ashley Henry, Josh Johnson, Jeff Parker, Anna Butters, Carlos Niño and Miguel-Atwood Ferguson - all of whom are on the forthcoming Universal Beings E&F Sides.

                                                                                                                                          Whyte Horses, whose sound is at once timeless and thoroughly modern. With a back-catalogue of multi-faceted jewels that gleam with a blinding, intoxicating light, Whyte Horses’ reputation is one of being able to piece together gloriously individual pop strands in an endlessly creative fashion.

                                                                                                                                          If the music seems passionate, then that’s precisely because the people behind it are passionate. Fronted by Manchester’s Dominic Thomas - who moonlights as founder of the vinyl reissue label Finders Keepers - Whyte Horses often operates as a welcoming revolving door for talented vocalists in their own right, but on ‘Ça Plane Pour Moi’ we get to glimpse pure Whyte Horses performing within their own capabilities and hinting at the album to come names ‘Hard Times’ and scheduled for release next year.



                                                                                                                                          STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                                                                          says: Feel-good Piccadilly pop favourites Whyte Horses return with an instantly satisfying and beautifully produced suite of swooning jangles and glittering harmonies. Reminiscent of 60's sunshine psych and classic Britpop, 80's synth and a tasteful touch of everything inbetween, and now with a host of top guests too. Unsurprisingly brilliant.

                                                                                                                                          96 - Badly Drawn Boy

                                                                                                                                          Banana Skin Shoes

                                                                                                                                            Banana Skin Shoes is Damon Gough's ninth album and is comprised of 14 tracks including previously released track 'Is This A Dream?'.

                                                                                                                                            Always one to wear his heart on his sleeve, Gough's ninth album is a truly personal & heartfelt collection of songs, a huge statement of intent & the most glorious, colourful warming, honest pop record you'll hear this year.

                                                                                                                                            97 - My Morning Jacket

                                                                                                                                            The Waterfall II

                                                                                                                                              Out via ATO Records, The Waterfall II was massively inspired by the band’s idyllic surroundings in Stinson Beach, CA — and a sense of charmed isolation that frontman Jim James likened to “living on our own little moon.” There, the Kentucky-bred five-piece ended up creating over two dozen songs at the mountaintop studio known as Panoramic House. Though they flirted with the idea of putting out what would have been a triple album, the band ultimately decided that less would be more at the time and divided the project into two halves, releasing the first segment as The Waterfall: a 2015 full-length that earned a Grammy Award nomination for Best Alternative Music Album. 

                                                                                                                                              As James reveals, the decision to unearth The Waterfall II was sparked from a bit of serendipity in the early days of self-quarantine. While out on a walk, he placed his music library on shuffle and soon stumbled upon “Spinning My Wheels,” a tender rumination on the struggle for presence, its lyrics confessing to feeling “hypnotized from doing the same old thing.” Struck by the song’s enduring relevance, James revisited the other tracks reserved from the Panoramic House sessions and found that they invited a welcome moment of self-reflection—an outcome perhaps even more perfectly suited to the chaos of the current day than the circumstances of their recording. Like its predecessor, The Waterfall II mines its mood of dreamy contemplation from certain heartbreak James had recently experienced, including the demise of a monumental relationship. Unfolding in a loosely threaded narrative of loss and recovery, the album conjures an indelible pain but never drifts into despair, gracefully conveying James’s message that “there is hope beyond the pain and loss, if you learn to flow with life like water.” Even in its most heavy-hearted moments, The Waterfall II radiates an undeniable sense of wonder, a testament to the wild-mindedness that’s long imbued the music of My Morning Jacket.

                                                                                                                                              With their unabashed curiosity infinitely stirred by their time at Stinson Beach, the band hopes that the album might lead others to look beyond what’s human-made in the search for solace and renewal. “As so many of us feel out of tune and long for the world to be a better place, we have to look to nature and the animals and learn from them: learn to love, accept, move on, and respect each other,” says James. “We gotta work for it and change our ways before it’s too late, and get in harmony with love and equality for all of humanity and for nature too.” My Morning Jacket will perform two songs on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on Wednesday July 15, one for broadcast and one exclusive online only.

                                                                                                                                              FORMAT INFORMATION

                                                                                                                                              Coloured LP Info: Limited Clear LP.

                                                                                                                                              Deluxe LP Info: Deluxe indies only vinyl - iridescent / mirror-board jacket, 180 colored gram w Zoetrope label.

                                                                                                                                              98 - Deftones

                                                                                                                                              Ohms

                                                                                                                                                Recorded at Henson Studios and Trainwreck Studios, Ohms is an other-worldly body of work meticulously crafted by the 5 piece band. It is a magnificent tour de force and their first album in 4 years since the critically acclaimed Gore LP in 2016. The band, which includes Chino Moreno, Frank Delgado, Stephen Carpenter, Abe Cunningham, and Sergio Vega, has produced a dense LP with every member firing on all cylinders. The album also boasts a familiar collaborator in veteran producer and engineer Terry Date, who worked on 1995’s Adrenaline, 1997’s Around the Fur and 2000’s White Pony. All of the above assembles and sets the stage to deliver Ohms; 10 tracks of raw escapism and unparalleled grooves that have made Deftones' sound singular for over two decades.

                                                                                                                                                This year also marks the 20 year anniversary of Deftones' monumental album White Pony. In a virtual press conference for the 20th anniversary of the seminal body of work, the band announced that they would be releasing a companion remix album titled Black Stallion, an idea conceived during the original album’s creation.

                                                                                                                                                FORMAT INFORMATION

                                                                                                                                                Coloured LP Info: Limited edition gold coloured vinyl.

                                                                                                                                                99 - The Phoenix Foundation

                                                                                                                                                Friend Ship

                                                                                                                                                  The Phoenix Foundation have lived many lives. From high school distortion addicts to indie folk trippers to masters of motorik dream pop. It’s been five years since their last album, Give Up Your Dreams, but that downtime has been well spent. The New Zealand outfit have been writing, recording, touring with a Symphony Orchestra, creating the acclaimed soundtrack for Taika Waititi's Hunt For The Wilderpeople, building shrines to light, creating scores for VR, producing other bands and, that most lockdown-friendly activity, baking sourdough.

                                                                                                                                                  Slowly, when they could, the six old friends found time to work together in studios, garages, forests, and sheds to put together the concise ten song set of that is Friend Ship. “We took such a long break after Give Up Your Dreams that when we did decide to make a new record we all felt it needed to be in some esoteric sense different,” says co-lead singer Samuel Flynn Scott. “To me that meant returning to something more focused. Honing in on the songs before we went deep into the arrangements and freaky sounds.” And the results reflect this approach too. Whilst Friend Ship, as you would expect, weaves seamlessly between dreamy introspective pop, stretched out grooves and psychedelic rock, it also exists as a collection of masterfully crafted songs.

                                                                                                                                                  Friend Ship features vocals from Nadia Reid, Tiny Ruins’ Hollie Fullbrook and Anita Clark aka Motte plus sumptuous string arrangements performed by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.


                                                                                                                                                  STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                                                                                  says: Phoenix Foundation present a widescreen look at the blurred peripheries between dream pop, synthwave and good old fashioned indie music here with their latest outing, Friend Ship'. Beautifully smooth, soaringly melodic and deeply comforting, The Phoenix Foundation have done it again.

                                                                                                                                                  FORMAT INFORMATION

                                                                                                                                                  Dinked Edition LP Info: • Dinked Exclusive Turquoise Vinyl *
                                                                                                                                                  • Alternate Screen-printed Edition, artwork by Raissa Pardini *
                                                                                                                                                  • Includes exclusive 2 bonus flexidiscs *
                                                                                                                                                  • Numbered Edition *
                                                                                                                                                  • Limited to 500 *

                                                                                                                                                  *exclusive to Dinked

                                                                                                                                                  Dinked Edition LP includes MP3 Download Code.

                                                                                                                                                  Coloured LP Info: Pink vinyl.

                                                                                                                                                  Coloured LP includes MP3 Download Code.

                                                                                                                                                  100 - Sébastien Tellier

                                                                                                                                                  Domesticated

                                                                                                                                                    An electronica album that buzzes with humanity, his most melodically refined work to date and a joyous Franco-pop fantasia.

                                                                                                                                                    The parisian pop genius took one of his famous leaps into the unknown with the release of his recent single ‘a ballet’. Sonically it was full of the character you’d hope for him to deliver - dreamy French electronica, classic pop songwriting and yacht rock-style sax. Thematically, however, it played with the unlikely parallels between music and the never-ending routine of domestic life. As he questions, “maybe the key to happiness is there, hidden under a dirty laundry basket?” setting himself apart from an ocean of beat-makers, Tellier wrote the vocal melodies first and then arranged the instrumentation around them. His surge of inspiration was such that he wrote 200 songs for the project, yet he also possessed the discipline to keep the final album to a taut and concise eight tracks.

                                                                                                                                                    FORMAT INFORMATION

                                                                                                                                                    Coloured LP Info: Yellow translucent vinyl.


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