Welcome to the Piccadilly Records End Of Year Review 2021 Top 100, a celebration of the sonic artistry, and audio expressions of the year. Whatever your mood, mindset, taste or temperament, you’re sure to find your new obsession within this chart.

Click on these links to see our other EOY Charts:
HERE for the Piccadilly Top 20 Compilations.
HERE for the Piccadilly Top 20 Reissues/Collections.
Piccadilly Records Sampler
Important FREEBIE info!! Our ever popular sampler CD is back once again for 2021, bursting with 19 top tracks from the last 12 months, including the likes of John, The Charlatans, White Denim, Space Afrika, Teenage Fanclub and many more.
It’s free with the Top 20 Albums, Top 20 Compilations and Top 20 Reissues (whilst stocks last!)
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.

1 - Mogwai

As The Love Continues - Piccadilly Exclusive Edition


“To The Bin My Friend, Tonight We Vacate Earth'' seems an overwhelmingly prescient phrase to begin an album with, almost as if Benjamin John Powers knew Mogwai would use it for what is certainly their most celestially euphoric and soaringly majestic album to date. It's taken 25 long years since their first single, but it's entirely unsurprising that the people have recognised As The Love Continues as a masterpiece worthy of a UK No.1 album spot, and I would absolutely hasten to agree. Turns out the rest of the staff did too, so here we are.

From the first moments of “To The Bin My Friend..”, it's clear that Mogwai's melodic blend of instrumental rock has undertaken a significant shift towards brighter climes in this instance, with gigantic walls of distortion piercing through the flickering percussion and synth swells below, bringing to mind the tectonic heft of Young Team but with the pop sensibilities brought about on Happy Songs.. or the unbelievably brilliant Mr. Beast.

We've described this album as a 'Best Of' a few times, but that's clearly not in the traditional sense, it's not a compilation by any means and flows like a well sequenced album, but the themes explored are in every way the pinnacle of their sound and encompass everything that Mogwai fans love to hear. The difference here is that EVERYONE is welcome, with the more pop elements like “Ritchie Sacramento” (my song of the decade without a doubt) taking the heavy hitting instrumentals and injecting them with a moody, spine-tingling vocal melody. Later, pieces like “Fuck Off Money” bring things down a little before hitting us with the punky octave athleticism and rolling bass of “Ceiling Granny” or the cinematic orchestration of “Midnight Flit”. It's an absolute triumph, and in my opinion, the most worthy end of year winner yet.


1. To The Bin My Friend, Tonight We Vacate Earth
2. Here We, Here We, Here We Go Forever
3. Dry Fantasy
4. Ritchie Sacramento
5. Drive The Nail
6. Fuck Off Money
7. Ceiling Granny
8. Midnight Flit
9. Pat Stains
10. Supposedly, We Were Nightmares
11. It's What I Want To Do, Mum

After several singles were dropped in the lead up to this album it’s safe to say this was my most anticipated release of the year. Little Simz has really come through with her most raw and personal album to date. The opening track “Introvert” is a theatrical masterpiece which gives you goosebumps within the first ten seconds, from the cinematic brass accompanying the rolling snare drum. It feels like an anthem of a generation, fearless and vulnerable, “Introvert” bares all in its strength, openness and fluidity.

Little Simz’ ability to perform and put into words personal pain is so emotive and taps into something powerful to make you feel every word in the track, particularly in “I Love You, I Hate You”. Her immaculate flow paired with orchestral strings and beats highlights her incredible songwriting and fire.

Don’t be under the misconception that this is only a hip-hop album. Soulful energy in “I See You”, Nigerian and cultural influences in “Point And Kill'' and a hint of trap and incredible change of flow in “Rollin Stone” set her apart in this cohesive masterpiece of an album.

The intertwining of interludes frame the album to create an otherworldly and cathartic experience, like in the track “Gems”. The combination of orchestra, children’s choir and the actress Emma Corrin’s spoken word are just magic. The end of the album holds just as many jewels like “How Did You Get Here” and “Miss Understood”; lyrically the most poignant piece which powerfully bookends the album with reconciliation and a self-awareness of how far she’s come.


Barry says: Little Simz returns for the much anticipated follow-up to the superb 2019 LP 'Grey Area', this time clearly showing the meteoric trajectory of her songwriting and lyricism. There's vital, fiery rap and deep instrumentation that quickly switch into rich soulful R&B, flawlessly and seamlessly. An undeniable force in the future of hip-hop.


Woman (feat. Cleo Sol)
Two Worlds Apart
I Love You I Hate You
Little Q Part 1
Little Q Part 2
Standing Ovation
I See You
The Rapper That Came To Tea
Rollin Stone
Protect My Energy
Make Promises
Point And Kill (feat. Obongjayar)
Fear No Man
The Garden Interlude
How Did You Get Here
Miss Understood

One of the North-West’s finest exponents of otherworldly pop has landed back on earth with an album of shimmering space age bliss. Elements of disco, new wave and krautrock are undoubtedly present in Flock, but Jane never relies on genre tropes to carry her work. Instead, she harnesses familiar rhythmic devices and choices of instrumentation in her own distinctive way. And while comparisons could be drawn between Jane and contemporaries like Vanishing Twin and Gwenno, she has undeniably staked out her own domain within the realm of off-kilter synth pop.

Throughout Flock Jane demonstrates her delicate vocal agility over a series of hypnotic loops and clever synthesis. The lazy disco strut of “The Revolution Of Super Visions” sets up a jangling interplay between Jane’s sweetly sung declamations, new wave style guitar interjections and Cowley-esque synth squelch. While “Modern Reputation” is propelled forwards by a Broadcast style motorik rhythm with electronics whirring in the background and mantra-like vocal loops swirling in a strange ecstasy.

In the title track Jane’s gauzy vocals reverberate over the ebb and flow of a loose knit groove, while in “Sunset Dreams” ornate guitar riffs weave in amongst a haze of twinkling chimes and fizzing sawtooth synthesis. The album culminates in a moment of escapist pop euphoria with final track “Solarised”, laden with cascading arps and irresistible vocal hooks. Once again Jane has succeeded in creating something playful, fresh and unpretentious which is in equal parts a fun and intelligent listen. All hail the cosmic synth queen! 


Barry says: This new outing from Jane Weaver sees Jane and co skirting the outer reaches of Disco, Synth-pop and ambient to stunning effect, rich with hooks but unmeasurably deep, it's one that will reveal more and more with each listen. Unsurprisingly superb.


Side A
A1 Heartlow
A2 The Revolution Of Super Visions
A3 Stages Of Phases
A4 Lux
A5 Modern Reputation
Side B
B1 Flock
B2 Sunset Dreams
B3 All The Things You Do
B4 Pyramid Schemes
B5 Solarised

Manchester’s LoneLady has been a firm favourite with most of our rotating assembly over the last decade. Her infectious mix of kinetic drum rhythms, thin and funky, picked guitar lines and completely distinctive vocal style has proven a winning formula for lovers of post-punk, (any)wave and electro-indie hybrids alike. Her intrepid DIY approach sees her writing and playing all instrumental and vocal parts herself, furthering her credentials as an all-in-one modern studio songstress. On Former Things the blueprint reaches its natural zenith – seeing her galvanized grooves emanate from a modest arsenal of instruments with a spontaneous magic. Whereas previous outings were inspired by the industrial Victorian warehouses which once populated the Manchester cityscape, this new set sees her move location to a shooting range in Somerset, offering up expansive, shiny, dare-I-say-it, playful territories within her music. There’s a degree of sonic affluency which reflects her journey from urban to rural.

A detailed equipment list accompanies the LP, going someway to explain how she creates these twangy, bass-banging, arp-studded mechanics. Each arrangement evolves from a basic beat to an unignorable earworm within a typical 16-bar period; the familiarity of her solid construction meaning every single track on the album gets its hook right underneath your skin. Her nonchalant yet candy-covered yearnings remain anthemic across every track; there’s no denying Julie Campbell’s mastery of the chorus!

Huge with indie disco heads AND electronic aficionados this LP has remained a constant feature of my record bag throughout 2021 and garnered rightful accolades from the sincerest corners of the creative community.


Barry says: An absolutely top tip for any fans of machine funk or disco, this newest LoneLady outing sees Campbell brilliantly offsetting the more hefty synth grooves with an acoustic levity and lightness of touch. It's dynamic and exciting, filled with moments of clever production and every bit the deserving follow-up to 2015's 'Hinterland'.


Vinyl Tracklisting:
Side A
A1. The Catcher / (There Is) No Logic
A2. Former Things / Time Time Time
Side B
B1. Threats / Fear Colours
B2. Treasure / Terminal Ground

CD Tracklisting:
1. The Catcher
2. (There Is) No Logic
3. Former Things
4. Time Time Time
5. Threats
6. Fear Colours
7. Treasure
8. Terminal Ground

Musically, Dry Cleaning have been compared to the likes of The Fall and Sonic Youth as well as their contemporaries Squid, Shame and Yard Act, who are only some of the bands that have been riding the waves of the recent post punk resurgence. The London band combines repetitive bass lines with moody yet catchy guitar riffs and lecturer and visual artist Florence Shaw’s dry, monotone Sprechgesang.

Seemingly samey at first listen, it’s a record that keeps revealing more with each play. No matter how often you think you have shelved it, it will always make itself known again. Dry Cleaning’s lyrics are a combination of Shaw’s own writing and snippets of other people’s reflections she has come across - be it via real life conversations or on the internet, e.g. in the Youtube comment wormhole. Like a stream of consciousness they make for an interesting read / listen, with highlights aplenty. “I think of myself as a hardy banana with that waxy surface and the small delicate flowers / A woman in aviators firing a bazooka” reads one line. Complete absurdity or the mundanity of everyday life? Tongue in cheek or absolutely serious?

Whichever you think it is, you can’t help but be charmed by her deadpan attitude. One thing I can’t get on board with, however, are her outrageous nutritional opinions. “That seems like a lot of garlic” she muses in ‘Strong Feelings’. There’s never enough garlic.


Barry says: Dry cleaning's wry humour and impeccable grasp of rhythm and mood permeates the entirety of their newest outing, 'New Long Leg'. Driven bassy groove and melodic guitar licks perfectly accentuate the sultry spoken word vocals, resulting in an impactful and dynamic whole.


1. Scratchcard Lanyard
2. Unsmart Lady
3. Strong Feelings
4. Leafy
5. Her Hippo
6. New Long Leg
7. John Wick
8. More Big Birds
9. A.L.C
10. Every Day Carry

6 - Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders & The London Symphony Orchestra


Promises is the result of three distinct musical worlds colliding. Pharoah Sanders’ jazz improvisation and Flo Po’s twinkling electronics are layered over the string section of the LSO, bound together by a loose symphonic structure. These are textures that rarely sit together in a single composition, yet somehow they seamlessly knit into a cohesive whole. It’s quite a feat, one that could only be pulled off by artists as accomplished as these.

The entire album revolves around a recurring phrase played by Sam Shepherd on the piano, harpsichord and celesta. This phrase becomes the central pulse around which the other textures float, suspended in the space inbetween. The loose tempo allows for the improvised saxophone passages to flow freely and for Pharaoh to lean into the most tender moments of his performance.

At the beginning of the album the string section gradually emerges like a delicate silver thread before building through a series of sweeping chord progressions and moments of bittersweet dissonance. This leads into the third movement where Sam Shephard’s deft synth arrangement becomes the focal point. And later on we hear a hushed vocal performance from Pharoah. It’s one of the most touching moments of the album, with years of lived experience seeping through every crack and bend of his voice in a captivating way.

Promises is an album of subtle expression which invokes a feeling of boundlessness. It’s a wide open sonic space where each note is allowed to resonate to its full conclusion. There’s a constant feeling of push and pull, of tension and release, though it never really resolves fully. Something is always left hanging in the air - a question, a prayer, an inexplicable feeling. It’s perhaps one of the most surprising and profound releases of the year. 


Matt says: A beautiful orchestral piece that while both resplendent with FP's and PS's wonderful idiosyncrasies; recalls the gorgeous depth of Prefab Sprout's "I Trawl The Megahertz" but without the vocal parts! Epic!


Side 1
1. Promises (Movement 1) (1:16)
2. Promises (Movement 2) (3:56)
3. Promises (Movement 3) (3:16)
4. Promises (Movement 4) (3:39)
5. Promises (Movement 5) (6:06)

Side 2
1. Promises (Movement 6) (8:25)
2. Promises (Movement 7) (3:26)
3. Promises (Movement 8) (9:57)
4. Promises (Movement 9) (5:43)

A lot’s happened since W.H. Lung’s debut shot to the top of our hallowed chart in 2019, not least my high definition fade (courtesy of the good people at Rusholme’s New Style Barbers*), and the Mancunian unit wear the changes well on their sophomore album. Brewed under the expansive skies of the Calder Valley and the mind expanding experience of the mighty Wet Play, Vanities marries the confidence of Incidental Music with a new found maturity, dialing back on the tension to deliver a series of optimistic electronic anthems rendered in a high gloss sheen.

Driving their DeLorean from 70s Düsseldorf to noughties Cologne, motorik rhythms evolve into the sleek beats of micro-house, deftly repurposed into the firm foundations of a festival-sized sound. Gone are the angst-laden yelps of their debut as vocalist Joe explores the full versatility of his range, building from a tender coo to ecstatic outpouring on the gospel flecked “Gyd Time” or taking a brief diversion into Jimmy Sommerville register on accomplished opener “Calm Down”. There’s still a little post punk grit lurking in the glitter though, most notably in towering single “Showstopper”, an astounding new-new wave masterpiece which propels the thrust of Grauzone’s “Eisbar” into the skyscraping grandeur of Depeche Mode’s ’87 vintage.

But Vanities is unashamedly ecstatic, and as such is expressed in the language of the hedonist, whether it be Bobby Orlando melodies, Michael Meyer sequences or the unbridled exuberance of highlife guitars, all lovingly referenced and reimagined by the group’s Tom Sharkett. Sinbad from Brookside once said “escapism is the elixir for uncertain times”, and that’s certainly the case here. W.H. Lung may be Manchester’s third best Chinese superstore, but they’re still the city’s best band.

*Piccadilly Records does not condone or approve this product placement.


1. Calm Down
2. Gd Tym
3. Pearl In The Palm
4. Ways Of Seeing
5. ARPi
6. Showstopper
7. Figure With Flowers
8. Somebody Like
9. Kaya

On the back of 2017’s Come Play The Trees and 2019’s superb Stunning Luxury Snapped Ankles return with the utterly brilliant Forest Of Your Problems.

Growing out of the bohemian East London art performance scene the band have previously cited influences as diverse as Fela Kuti, Morris dancing, Old Norse texts, Jean Luc-Godard, and Lightning Bolt. Whilst playing warehouse and squat parties the self-confessed “forest folk” kept their identities secret by taking to the stage in shamanistic costumes, ghillie suits being the attire of choice in the past. A few line-up changes later and this still mysterious band continues to baffle and enthrall in equal measure.

On their third album Snapped Ankles descend from the trees once again but the forest is not what it once was, the ancient woodland of Come Play The Trees is now awash with filthy money and gentrification. With guitars set to stun and synths in tow, the four piece tells the story whilst getting your feet shuffling and your body moving.

“Rhythm is our business, and it’s time to get down to business!” is their mantra throughout Forest Of Your Problems and they thoroughly oblige with tribal beats, propulsive kosmische grooves, electronic pulses, and raucous half-spoken / half screamed post-punk vocals.

Imagine a paganistic brew of Goat’s woodland psych, Can’s motorik beats, Gang Of Four’s punk-funk and Mark E. Smith’s snarling vox riding over the top of it all. The forest has a new soundtrack, it’s time to get down there and dance to the beat.


Laura says: A perfect amalgamation of 70's post punk, Fall-esque ramblings, tribal beats and driving Krautrock grooves. We like!!!

Barry says: Snapped Ankles are back! Their first two outings went down super well in the shop, and this latest offering moves even further down the post-punk wormhole, but maintaining their bang-on dedication to a riff. It's a delicate mix, balancing the rawkous fire of their previous LP's while maintaining a cohesive audio narrative but is pulled off with aplomb here.


1. A1. Forest Of Your Problems
2. A2. The Evidence
3. A3. Shifting Basslines Of The Cornucopians
4. A4. Undilated Lovers
5. A5. Susurrations (In The Forest)
6. B1. Rhythm Is Our Business
7. B2. Psithurhythm
8. B3. The Prince Is Back
9. B4. Xylophobia
10. B5. Forest Of Your Problems (Outro)

When did Tony Allen’s There Is No End become my album of the year? July 24th, Night & Day cafe, DJing. I had just put needle to groove on “Rich Black”, naively unprepared for the bass to meet the bar’s booming soundsystem - and then it HIT! The dancefloor was probably fearing for its life, but I was in love.

A collaborative hip hop masterpiece, There Is No End has a real exploratory feel to it, which (as Allen’s spoken word introduction points out) is the whole purpose of the album - to push, to innovate, and to move, through music. With various up-and-coming singers, rappers, and poets lending their talents to each song, the tracklist reads like a supergroup of Next Big Things: there’s Lava La Rue’s no-nonsense flow and controlled beauty, The Koreatown Oddity’s comic images and hard-hitting home truths, Ben Okri’s inspired mess of creationist myths, fairytale tropes, and apocalyptic visions, and Sampa the Great’s unnerving, vocoded whisper loops - and that's just a fraction of the mavericks on mic duty here.

All this is to say nothing of the drumming. “Brilliant” would be a gross understatement of just how diverse and original Allen’s beats are - by turns claustrophobic, metronomic, wild, and stuttering, the drums make each song as distinct and… well, brilliant, as the vocals do. Throw swampy bass synths, thickly affected backing vox, and a smorgasbord of tuned percussion into the mix, and what you get is There Is No End: a dizzying swan-song by one of music’s great innovators, and a glimpse into hip-hop’s bright, bright future.


Barry says: There are very few drummers (no shade on drummers here) that would be well known of their own accord like Tony Allen is. Having been consistently inventive and undeniably brilliant throughout his life all the way up to his 2020 masterpiece with Hugh Massakela, 'Rejoice', it's really no surprise that this Posthumous release is chock-full of wonderful rhythmic surprises, and has a lineup of perfectly chosen guests. A fittingly wonderful album from one of the greatest (and original) Afrobeat drummers of all time.


CD (14 Tracks)
Tony’s Praeludium
Tony Allen

Stumbling Down
Tony Allen Featuring Sampa The Great

Crushed Grapes
Tony Allen Featuring Lord Jah-Monte Ogbon

Très Magnifique
Tony Allen Featuring Tsunami

Mau Mau
Tony Allen Featuring Nah Eeto

Coonta Kinte
Tony Allen Featuring Zelooperz

Rich Black
Tony Allen Featuring Koreatown Oddity

One Inna Million
Tony Allen Featuring Lava La Rue

Gang On Holiday (Em I Go We?)
Tony Allen Featuring Jeremiah Jae

Deer In Headlights
Tony Allen Featuring Danny Brown

Hurt Your Soul
Tony Allen Featuring Nate Bone

My Own
Tony Allen Featuring Marlowe

Tony Allen Featuring Ben Okri + Skepta

There’s No End
Tony Allen

2LP (12 Tracks)
There Is No End
Tony Allen

Rich Black
Tony Allen Featuring Koreatown Oddity

Coonta Kinte
Tony Allen Featuring Zelooperz

One Inna Million
Tony Allen Featuring Lava La Rue

Stumbling Down
Tony Allen Featuring Sampa The Great

Crushed Grapes
Tony Allen Featuring Lord Jah-Monte Ogbon

Gang On Holiday (Em I Go We?)
Tony Allen Featuring Jeremiah Jae

Mau Mau
Tony Allen Featuring Nah Eeto

Très Magnifique
Tony Allen Featuring Tsunami

Hurt Your Soul
Tony Allen Featuring Nate Bone

Tony Allen Featuring Ben Okri + Skepta

My Own
Tony Allen Featuring Marlowe

In spring 2020, having been forced to postpone any live action due to lockdown, John set to work on the follow up to their Out Here On The Fringes album. It seems that the enforced confinement allowed them time to fine tune both their songwriting and sound and produce their best LP to date. The album opens with “Return To Capital” a brooding, slow-build instrumental that’s escalating nicely until it suddenly plummets head first into “Sibensko Powerhouse”, a ferocious collision of distorted guitars, pounding drums and snarled vocals, which kind of sets the tone for the rest of the album. Being a two piece, they operate with limited tools: drums, guitar and vocals, but that doesn’t in any way limit their sound. Seeing them live reminded me of seeing No Age play live for the first time and being blown away by how much noise two people could generate. And they’re creative with that limited palate too, this isn’t all a 100mph dash for the line, it’s a very nuanced sound, there’s plenty of texture. Idles have been an obvious reference point in recent reviews, but to me their sound is rooted in the US hardcore scene of the 80s: The kind of stuff that was being released by the likes of Touch And Go and Dischord Records. (There are definitely echoes of Mackaye / Picciotto in the dual vocals at times.) That’s not to say their sound is dated, far from it, they’re one of the most vital bands around at the moment.


Laura says: Ooof! This is just awesome! Intense, dynamic guitar noise that has more in common with the likes of Jesus Lizard or any number of bands from the 80s DC scene than any more contemporary noisemakers. (The dual vocal on Šibensko Powerhouse in particular brings to mind Mackay / Picciotto.) That's not so say their sound is dated, far from it, this is the most vital noise around right now.


1. Return To Capital
2. Šibensko Powerhouse
3. A Song For Those Who Speed In Built-Up Areas
4. Haneke'd
5. Austere Isle
6. Jargoncutter
7. Stadium Of No
8. Power Out For The Kingdom
9. Northwood Turret
10. Nonessential Hymn

On La Vita Olistica (their second-and-a-half album!?), The Orielles take last year’s stellar Disco Volador and bring it back down to earth, reimagining it as a soundtrack which draws as much from la nouvelle vague as New York’s new wave music scene. Full of instrumental detours, maverick synth-led twists, and more pop hooks than you can shake a disco stick at, it’s a less “produced” affair than its shimmering predecessor - those virtuosic guitars, drums à la Can school of jazz-punk-groove, dream-laden vocals, and understated bass gymnastics are all still here though, just clearer and tighter than ever before. There’s something so classic and charismatic about the way they write songs too, calling to mind - but never imitating - the greats of indie songwriting: Edwyn Collins, Laetitia Sadier, Bradford Cox, et al. La Vita Olistica shows the mighty O’s at their most inspired yet - and it’s a beautiful thing to watch.


Barry says: Eschewing the more dancefloor-ready elements of last years' 'Disco Volador', the Orielles return with the lysergic smudged atmospheres and hazy psychedelic groove of 'La Vita Olistica'. A brilliantly immersive and impeccably performed outing from a band showing their wide range of influence, as well as their deftness crafting those influences into something new and exciting.

If the album’s title conjures tranquil melodies evoking some misty pastoral idyll, that impression isn't immediately dispelled by the dark rock ambience of opener “Resolution Square”. That is abruptly followed, however, by a series of dystopian dreams strewn across a bed of staccato post punk-funk with more in common with The Fall, Gang Of Four and punk cacophony than Vivaldi. There isn’t necessarily a single coherent centre to the album, either musically or thematically, both subject matter and genre co-opted and discarded with abandon, but there is an obvious dig at cold corporate capitalism in “G.S.K.”, inspired by the monolithic slab that is GlaxoSmithKline’s HQ in Brentford and “Global Groove”, a swipe at the detachment of newscast war voyeurism. Alongside these Bright Green Fields presents clipped portraits of modern life’s grinding banality, but it really needs to be experienced as a whole to appreciate its exquisitely crafted and well targeted power. 


Barry says: I can't think of a single band that sound like Squid. Four or five maybe, but no other single band could sound this varied, this coherently i'm sure of it. Meandering math-rock, snarling post-punk and arrythmic indie business coalesce into a wildly inventive and completely unique whole. Staggeringly brilliant.


1. Resolution Square
2. G.S.K.
3. Narrator Ft. Martha Skye Murphy
4. Boy Racers
5. Paddling
6. Documentary Filmmaker
7. 2010
8. The Flyover
9. Peel St.
10. Global Groove
11. Pamphlets

Remember Wu Lyf? We do! Out of nowhere and straight back, they exploded onto the (Mancunian) scene with magic and mystery, here today / gone tomorrow, as much an “idea” as a band. Bass player, Tom McClung, could not be any more different if he tried. This is a record of exquisitely crafted pop music; gentle, vulnerable, honest, and pure. Recorded in Wales and with every instrument, bar strings, played by himself, this is a deeply personal, introspective yet wonderfully open-hearted record. The songs here are of the very highest calibre. Beginning with the Beatles and moving through Elliott Smith, Big Star (broken heart emoji!) and even Teenage Fanclub, Tom wears his influences on his sleeve, but the 18 carat melodies are all his own. He’s clearly one of the best songwriters in the UK at the minute, and I reckon he’ll go on to become a bit of a star.


Barry says: What an enchanting LP this is. Taking in facets of classic rock, psychedelia and folk rock of the late 60's, while remaining true to the sunshine indie-pop roots. Wry observations and even a Vonnegut reference! this is clever songwriting that's easily accessible and endlessly reveals elements the more you listen. Absolutely essential stuff.


1. Intro
2. Bad Hair Day
3. Blondes Have More Fun
4. Miracle
5. Empty Playgrounds, Broken Swings (Demo)
6. Don't Call Me Baby
7. Say So
8. Southern Skies
9. Want 2 Want U
10. Comedown (Again)
11. Uncommon
12. Lonesome No More
13. The Let Down

As is my taste for the tardy, I was a couple of weeks late to this particular party, belatedly tipped to “that goth disco LP” through an overheard conversation between Mine and Matt. As a first class graduate of the “indie dance” era, I was naturally intrigued and promptly took the plunge into this monochrome masterpiece.

While her Sink Ya Teeth project with Maria Uzor takes a bite out of the Big Apple’s no-wave and post-punk era, Cullingford’s solo-debut splits its time between the steely synth-pop of Sheffield, Chicago’s house heritage and the unapologetic electroclash of Millennial Berlin. This travelogue translates to a sleek set of taut techno pop, topped with zero-fucks speak singing and utterly arch asides. A lesser LP would sink under the stature of single “Wide Boys”, a fleet-footed and flute-led floor burner, but Let Me Speak is made from only the finest ingredients – pass the biscuits please.


Barry says: While Sink Ya Teeth definitely took influence from the dancefloor, it's Cullingford's solo output that really pays homage to the sweaty peak of industrial and techno clubgoing with it's own particular brand of momentous rhythm and rich, chest shaking bass hits. Wildly immersive and wonderfully satisfying,


Side A
1 The Lizard
2 Sight For Sore Eyes
3 Wide Boys
4 Racer
5 Let Me Speak

Side B
6 Queen Bee
7 Chase The Beat
8 I Like You
9 Ode To Billy Joe
10 Fatal Embrace

15 - Anika


    A good 10 years after her first solo LP, Annika Henderson of Exploded View fame has created the perfect album. One that is great from start to finish and steeped in the scope of human emotion. Change combines goth disco© (“Critical”, “Rights”) and synth stompers (“Finger Pies”, “Naysayer”) with eerie, haunting songs (“Sand Witches”, “Freedom”) and heartfelt melancholia (“Change”, “Never Coming Back”, “Wait For Something”). The tracks are gloomy yet catchy and with its industrial feel and Anika’s Nico-esque voice the album sounds both moody and empowering. The title track “Change” and my personal favourite “Never Coming Back” in particular have me in awe of her songwriting abilities and pop sensibility. Anika has written an album that contrasts darkness and hope and brilliantly covers a broad range of sentiments. It's an experimental synth pop masterpiece that deserves to be heard by a much wider audience.


    Mine says: It's been a while! Anika is back and I'm sure everyone who's enjoyed her outings with Exploded View will dig her (equally dark and moody) solo stuff too. Very excited about this one!


    1. Finger Pies
    2. Critical
    3. Change
    4. Naysayer
    5. Sand Witches
    6. Never Coming Back
    7. Rights
    8. Freedom
    9. Wait For Something

    16 - Godspeed You! Black Emperor

    G_d's Pee AT STATE'S END

    It's almost as if after naysaying for 25 years, GY!BE have proven that the car is indeed on fire, and resolutely driverless, resulting in one of their most unhurried and jubilant offerings yet. There are moments of spine-tingling beauty, coated in a lacquer of hazy field recordings and snappy militaristic percussion.

    As with a lot of their releases (including my “favourite album in the world ever”, Lift Yr Skinny Fists….), the pieces here are crafted from a number of sections and listed in parts, leading to a cohesive and developmental audio narrative, lurching from shadowy glitched shortwave radio noise to crashing waves of orchestral chaos. There are very few moments where you aren't overcome with emotion, it's as bold and as beautiful as anything they've ever done, and has rare moments of true joy. An unendingly superb outing, and a brilliant return for one of the greatest bands around.


    Barry says: There’s a lot to be stressed about isn’t there? The ongoing climate crisis, an unprecedented pandemic and a worrying spate of governmental and social trends all coalescing into a time of undeniable reflection. It seems like GYBE would fit right in then, with cars on fire (and the lack of drivers therein) and the suchlike being canonically, their bag.

    It might come as a surprise then, that while the classic themes of corruption, capitalism and greed are sewn into the fabric of this Canadian dectet, the accompanying music in this case is (to these ears), wilfully jubilant.

    You’ll have to bear with me on the track titles, because much like the actual titles of confirmed ‘Best Album In The World’ (Barry, 2000 - present), ‘Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven’, the tracks here are broken down into their constituent parts, and named individually, and sequentially.

    We kick things off with the first side of the 12” for you vinyl folk or what I believe they call ‘Track One’ for the CD crowd. ‘A Military Alphabet…’ begins with the newly fired up shortwave radios (for any of you that don’t listen to Set Fire To Flames a lot / at all, a brilliantly immersive and perfectly transportive collage of found sound and radio hiss), and slowly morphs into a similarly textural swell of strings and slowly trembled guitar. It’s really very reminiscent of the growing militaristic stomp of ’09-15-00’, the introductory piece from their last LP before their long Hiatus, ‘Yanqui U.X.O’, and is an undeniably necessary dipping of the toes before the full-spectrum swell and spine-tingling weight of the rest of the piece kicks in. It’s on the final movement of this 20-minute opus that carries all of the weight of the previous, bringing with an almost unbelievable levity. It’s an ode to a lost world, and a mournful but resigned grasp at the vestiges of a crumbling society.

    ‘Fire At Static Valley’ (the first piece from the 10”, or ‘Track 2’) is a shimmering, minor-key walk through the crumbling ruins, with tenderly strummed guitars and the ever-present strings both pulled and plucked, lending a sense of airy ambience and momentum to the rumbling bass boom, and culminating in a nigh-dissonant treble-heavy scree. It’s beautiful and mournful in equal measure, perfectly offsetting the uncharacteristic jubilance of the opener’s final movement before beginning our next selection of radio chatter and crackling hiss.

    ‘Government Came’ begins once again with the whirring crackle and oscillating drone of shortwave radios before a towering bass boom rises from the riotous audio throng. This is soon joined by a noticeably majestic sounding distorted guitar and monolithic percussive swells, drenched in reverb and delay, and alternating between barely noticeable melody and barely noticeable anything else. It’s not long before this characteristic unease lifts into a cathartic and intoxicating melodic counterpoint, rising into what is possibly the thickest wall of sound I’ve ever heard from them (and I’ve heard a LOT), and ending in organic panned sweeps of breathy instrumentation (didgeridoo?), and meandering guitar.

    We end with the stunning ‘Our Side Has To Win (For D.H)’, an undeniably atmospheric number, rich with incidental harmonics and a perfectly balanced suggestion of exultation and resignation. Slow chord changes gently growing over a background of flickering strings and shimmering pizzicato.

    It’s an album that takes their rightful anger of the early years, their moments of latent melodicism and tentative unease and brings them into one entirely cohesive and triumphantly essential album. A stunning, devastating return for one of the greatest bands of all time.


    12a [20:22] A Military Alphabet (five Eyes All Blind) (4521.0kHz 6730.0kHz 4109.09kHz) / Job’s Lament / First Of The Last Glaciers / Where We Break How We Shine (ROCKETS FOR MARY)
    12b [19:48] “GOVERNMENT CAME” (9980.0kHz 3617.1kHz 4521.0 KHz) / Cliffs Gaze / Cliffs’ Gaze At Empty Waters’ Rise / ASHES TO SEA Or NEARER TO THEE

    10a [5:58] Fire At Static Valley
    10b [6:30] OUR SIDE HAS TO WIN (for D.H.)

    It is frustrating that in a country beset by unfolding social and economic trauma, caused in large measure and plain view by an entitled elite in service of their own ambitions and with a population gaslighted by their friends in the media, that there has been little or no kickback from what has, in the past, been a reliable source, contemporary music. That it's taken a couple of fortysomethings to pick up punk's combative baton and run with it is telling, but at least someone is doing it. It's a testament to their energy and commitment, and the biting wit with which it is delivered, that Spare Ribs, their 11th album, still sounds this sharp. With its broader palette adding funk and hip hop influences to the paired back bleep punk, and the scathing social commentary accompanied by childhood hurt and recovery, it is also, maybe, their finest hour. So far. 


    Barry says: Sleaford Mods have one of the most rabid fanbases of all and 'Spare Ribs' is further proof as to why. Wry takes on modern issues and the politics, pitch-perfect commentary and delivered in their usual no-holds-barred way. Every bit the continuation of their rightfully enduring legacy.


    The New Brick
    Nudge It (feat. Amy Taylor)
    Out There
    Top Room
    Mork N Mindy (feat. Billy Nomates)
    Spare Ribs
    All Day Ticket
    Thick Ear
    I Don't Rate You

    A message from an old friend earlier this year: “I heard an album yesterday and thought: I bet Laura likes this”. It wasn’t a record I knew, but one look at the record’s sleeve and I was pretty sure he’d be right - It looked like an album I’d love! (We’ve all bought an album ‘cos we love the artwork right?) He was talking about this, the third LP in as many years from San Francisco resident Glen Donaldson. Self recorded and self produced, this collection of 13 succinct, super melodic, understated pop songs has a lovely warm, hazy feel to it. With song titles like “A Kick In The Face (That’s Life)” and “I Hope I Never Fall In Love” you can guess there’s a heavy dose of melancholy in the songwriting, but the gorgeous guitar jangles that chime through the low-fi haze lift the spirit, like the sun breaking through the clouds on a summer's day. 


    Don’t Ever Pray In The Church On My Street (02:46)
    I Hope I Never Fall In Love (02:56)
    The Biggest Fan (02:47)
    Uncommon Weather (01:54)
    A Kick In The Face (that’s Life) (02:01)
    I Wouldn’t Die For Anyone (02:35)
    I’m Sorry About Your Life (02:05)
    The Record Player And The Damage Done (02:22)
    Pictures Of The World (03:11)
    Life At Parties (02:52)
    Sing Red Roses For Me (03:54)
    The Songs You Used To Write (02:49)
    Sympathetic (03:11)

    19 - Black Country, New Road

    For The First Time

    Born from the Brixton Windmill scene that has seen the likes of black midi, Squid, Fat White Family and Shame rise to prominence, Black Country, New Road now take up the mantle and release their debut album.
    The seven piece kick off proceedings with the aptly titled “Instrumental”, a maelstrom of sounds and influences including the post-rock mastery of Slint, the Klezmer style folk of Beirut and dapples of free-jazz improvisation.
    Throughout the album’s six tracks those themes continue along with a simmering sense of drama and intensity. The best example of this occurs on the monolithic last track “Opus”, clocking in at just over 8 minutes it locks the listener in with a sprawling sonic soundscape of plateaus and troughs that recalls the mighty Godspeed You! Black Emperor.
    For The First Time is an ambitious and intelligent album that stands out as one of the best debut releases of 2021.


    1. Instrumental
    2. Athens, France
    3. Science Fair
    4. Sunglasses
    5. Track X
    6. Opus

    Goat Girl's latest offering lets off the distortion pedal just enough to make room for a more electronic pool of inspiration. It's delightfully wonky at times and tracks like “Jazz (In The Supermarket)” explore tempo changes and chord progressions that 2018 Goat Girl wouldn't dare consider. This doesn't mean they've held out on pure melody though, “P.T.S Tea” is satisfyingly poppy and “Sad Cowboy” breaks off into a New Order-esque sci-fi trip only after first smashing out four and a half minutes of delicious guitar twanging.
    There is (to my delight) an overarching melancholy present throughout, keeping the pop at bay. Sadly, this might be because the album was put together during uncertain times for guitarist Ellie Rose Davies who was diagnosed with blood cancer. Now in remission, one can’t help but think that facing mortality changes everything and perhaps the band, as a whole, have been left feeling these shockwaves.


    Barry says: Goat Girls' swooning jangle takes a step into the future with their newest outing, adding moody synths and angular changes to their already impressive foundations. It's a brilliantly refined forward step, and shows that great things will come from Goat Girl in the future.


    Jazz (In The Supermarket)
    Once Again
    Sad Cowboy
    The Crack
    Closing In
    Anxiety Feels
    They Bite On You
    Where Do We Go From Here?

    21 - Darkside


      DARKSIDE is an American rock band formed in Providence, Rhode Island in 2011. The group consists of Chilean electronic musician & vocalist Nicolás Jaar and American multi-instrumentalist Dave Harrington. Jaar and Harrington first met while studying in Providence through their com- mon friend and saxophonist Will Epstein. In the summer of 2011, they toured Europe and Australia in support of Jaar’s breakthrough debut album Space Is Only Noise.

      Upon returning to Providence, they continued to write together, releasing their self-titled EP in 2012 and their critically acclaimed debut album Psychic on Matador Records in October 2013. The album was met with glowing reviews, including a 9.0 from Pitchfork and The New York Times calling it “the soundtrack to a lost David Lynch sci-fi movie.”

      In the summer of 2018, Harrington and Jaar rented a small house on Lenni-Lenape territory, which is present-day Flemington, New Jersey. The group spent a week there, making a song a day. While it would take another year and a half to complete their second album, six songs from the band’s new record Spiral were written and recorded during this initial session.

      “From the beginning, DARKSIDE has been our jam band. Something we did on days off. When we reconvened, it was because we really couldn’t wait to jam together again,” says Jaar. Harrington echoes this, “It felt like it was time again,” he said. “We do things in this band that we would never do on our own. DARKSIDE is the third being in the room that just kind of occurs when we make music together.”


      Barry says: Jaar & Harrington's Darkside project has never quite gone with convention, and their latest outing 'Spiral' brilliantly toes the line between drone music and gothic, eastern-influenced folk with ease, via all manner of geographical pit stops. Otherworldly vocals seamlessly ride atop grooving percussion in some places and in others, eschewed entirely for a focus on shifting drone and tectonic modulation. As baffling and brilliant as ever.


      Narrow Road
      The Limit
      The Question Is To See It All
      I’m The Echo
      Liberty Bell
      Inside Is Out There
      Only Young

      22 - Apta

      Rainbow Islands (NG+)

        Next up on Polytechnic Youth, comes the long planned and completely fabulous debut full length from Manchester based solo artist APTA. The wonderful “Rainbow Islands” follows its initial cassette only release from last year on “With Bells Records” which piqued the interest of PY head, Dom- via pointers from mutual friends….

        The album comprises 8 killer tracks of crystal clean, melodic electronica- rich in subtle layers, seemingly simple and precise yet with hooks aplenty and incredibly rewarding. In Barry APTA’s own words: “'There’s something that triggers when we see or hear something that held an important place in our childhood; and a recent article about arcade games like ‘Bubble Bobble’ reminded me of the playing Rainbow Islands on the Atari ST in the 90’s. The clash of colour and sound, the shape of the character models and the enemies and the overall feel of the experience is something that came out easily in the studio. Rainbow Islands (NG+) isn't a re-soundtracking, it's a representation of the ‘feel’ I get when I think about it. Calming and synthetic, upbeat but with moments of frenetic activity. It's a wistful, musical representation of my childlike patience and rose-tinted memories."

        Following last year’s 5” lathe cut 45 on PY, and releases / appearances on offerings from the likes of Woodford Halse, Black Beacon Sound, Castles in Space; The LP is expanded (by one track) from the cassette version and is released on yellow vinyl in a pressing of 300 whilst APTA himself handle digital via the bandcamp page. Strongly recommended!


        Matt says: Fetishizing over technicoloured 16-bit soundscapes while your favourite C64 video game characters appear like entities thru a rose-tinted lucid dream? Look no further! Our in-house modular technician and computer game soundtrack composer extraordinaire, Barry is here under his APTA alias to whisk you away on a Tamagotchi canoe. All aboard the Atari-ST express!


        1. Loading
        2. Act One
        3. Putty's Party Video
        4. Simulated Space Video
        5. Reloading
        6. Retry?
        7. 10CC
        8. Putty's Party (Slumber)

        23 - Parquet Courts

        Sympathy For Life

          Parquet Courts’ thought-provoking rock is dancing to a new tune. Sympathy For Life finds the Brooklyn band at both their most instinctive and electronic, spinning their bewitching, psychedelic storytelling into fresh territory, yet maintaining their unique identity.

          Built largely from improvised jams, inspired by New York clubs, Primal Scream and Pink Floyd and produced in league with Rodaidh McDonald (The xx, Hot Chip, David Byrne), Sympathy For Life was always destined to be dancey. Unlike its globally adored predecessor, 2018’s Wide Awake! the focus fell on grooves rather than rhythm.

          “Wide Awake! was a record you could put on at a party,” says co-frontman Austin Brown. “Sympathy For Life is influenced by the party itself. Historically, some amazing rock records been made from mingling in dance music culture – from Talking Heads to Screamadelica. Our goal was to bring that into our own music.”


          Laura says: While album opener "Walking At A Downtown Pace" is about as Parquet Courts sounding as you can get, Sympathy For Life sees them taking a broader more experimental approach to their sound. It’s still unmistakeably them, the chugging post punk grooves and catchy hooks are still there, but it’s a more expanded, adventurous sound that works brilliantly.

          Barry says: It's been a long wait for the new Parquet Courts LP, and this one follows 2018's highly regarded 'Wide Awake', which is never going to be an easy task. Fortunately for all involved, this one takes the incredibly successful formula of that banger and streamlines it into a wonderfully precise and soaring pop-redux of their already sleek sound. A brilliantly catchy, wonderfully written opus.


          Walking At A Downtown Pace
          Black Widow Spider
          Marathon Of Anger
          Just Shadows
          Plant Life
          Homo Sapien
          Sympathy For Life
          Zoom Out

          24 - Arlo Parks

          Collapsed In Sunbeams

            Highly anticipated debut from 2020 breakthrough artist, London-based musician and poet Arlo Parks Speaking about her LP, Arlo says "My album is a series of vignettes and intimate portraits surrounding my adolescence and the people that shaped it. It is rooted in storytelling and nostalgia - I want it to feel both universal and hyper specific." 

            STAFF COMMENTS

            Barry says: As a debut album, ‘Collapsed In Sunbeams’ is about as perfect as you're going to get. The breadth of talent and refined groove present throughout is astounding, and perfectly measured. A beautifully soulful and comfortingly modern endeavour.

            TRACK LISTING

            1. Collapsed In Sunbeams
            2. Hurt
            3. Too Good
            4. Hope
            5. Caroline
            6. Black Dog
            7. Green Eyes
            8. Just Go
            9. For Violet
            10. Eugene
            11. Bluish
            12. Portra 400

            25 - Lost Horizons

            In Quiet Moments

              In 2017, Simon Raymonde and Richie Thomas had both abstained from making music for 20 years until they united as Lost Horizons and released a stunning debut album, Ojalá - the Spanish word for “hopefully” or “God willing.”

              “These days, we need hope more than ever, for a better world.” Thomas said at the time. “And this album has given me a lot of hope. To reconnect with music.... And the hope for another Lost Horizons record!”

              Thomas’ hopes had a mixed response. On the plus side, the new Lost Horizons album In Quiet Moments is an even stronger successor to Ojalá with another distinguished cast of guest singers and a handful of supporting instrumentalists embellishing the core duo’s gorgeously free-flowing and loose-limbed blueprint that one writer astutely labelled, “melancholy-delia.”

              On the minus side, any hope for a better world, as Earth continues to freefall toward political and social meltdown. Then, to make matters worse, as Raymonde and Thomas buckled down to create the improvised bedrock that Lost Horizons is built on, the former’s mother died. At least Raymonde had a way to channel his grief. “The way improvisation works,” he says, “it’s just what’s going on with your body at the time, to let it out.”

              Raymonde (bass, guitar, keyboards, production) and Thomas (drums, occasional keys and guitar) forged ahead, creating 16 instrumental tracks to send to prospective guests. When he did, Raymonde suggested a guiding theme for their lyrics: “Death and rebirth. Of loved ones, of ideals, at an age when many artists that have inspired us are also dead, and the planet isn’t far behind. But I also said, ‘The most important part is to just do your own thing, and have fun.”

              And then Covid-19 hit. Half of In Quiet Moments’ lyrics were written after lockdown, but Raymonde saw a silver lining: people were slowing down and taking stock of their lives. Hearing a lyric written by veteran singer Ural Thomas, known as “Portland's Pillar of Soul", who fronts the title track, Raymonde singled out the phrase “in quiet moments” and made it the album title. “It just made sense,” he says. “This moment of contemplation in life is really beautiful. The title also went with the album cover, a photograph by Jacques-Henri Lartigue from the 1940s of a woman and dog on a beach, captured as if in flight.” 

              STAFF COMMENTS

              Barry says: There are a frankly dazzling array of guests on this beautiful collection of slow-motion psychedelic drifts from Raymonde & Thomas, and each one seem to effortlessly glide into the instrumental core of ambient swells and subtle strings. A perfect tonic to the strains of a day.

              TRACK LISTING

              1. Halcyon - Lost Horizons Feat. Jack Wolter
              2. I Woke Up With An Open Heart - Lost Horizons. Feat. The Hempolics
              3. Grey Tower - Lost Horizons Feat. Tim Smith
              4. Linger - Lost Horizons Feat. Gemma Dunleavy
              5. One For Regret - Lost Horizons Feat. Porridge Radio
              6. Every Beat That Passed - Lost Horizons Feat. Kavi Kwai
              7. Nobody Knows My Name - Lost Horizons Feat. Cameron Neal
              8. Cordelia - Lost Horizons Feat. John Grant
              9. In Quiet Moments - Lost Horizons Feat. Ural Thomas
              10. Circle - Lost Horizons Feat. C Duncan
              11. Unravelling In Slow Motion - Lost Horizons Feat. Ren Harvieu
              12. Blue Soul - Lost Horizons Feat. Laura Groves
              13. Flutter - Lost Horizons Feat. Rosie Blair
              14. Marie - Lost Horizons Feat. Marissa Nadler
              15. Heart Of A Hummingbird - Lost Horizons Feat. Lily Wolter
              16. This Is The Weather - Lost Horizons Feat. Karen Peris

              Gleefully jumping between late 80s synth-pop, the new boogie sounds purveyed by Gulf Point and People’s Potential Unlimited, with touches of insouciant Francophone pop and modern indie-dance, “Private Sunshine” bursts into our headspace this Autumn.

              The London native first made her mark professionally as keyboardist for New Young Pony Club, one of THE bands at the epicentre of the white hot day-glo nu rave scene alongside the likes of the Klaxons and Test Icicles in 20060. This particular offering is much more indebted to Hayter's adolescent diet of Bowie, Prince, Human League and Madonna whilst hanging loose with a plethora of modern day contemporaries (listed below).

              Full to bursting with evocative electro-soul love letters to her home town of London, alongside addictive bubblegum flavoured bursts of indie-disco. It’s like Kylie meeting Mr Fingers or Tom Nobel producing Peggy Gou – something beautiful and melancholic yet sharply modern and new.

              From the warm, woozy, lysergic harmonies of opener “Cherry on Top”, which sound like a beloved old cassette unravelling, to the fizzy, infectious “Cold Feet”, which calls to mind Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam at their most heartworn, taken in toto the album perfectly nails the essence of gorgeously nostalgic synth-pop with a twist; crisp, stylish and sophisticated music which heralds the next chapter of Lou Hayter quite nicely, actually. Her retro-futuristic results will give 2021 the pop fix it so desperately needs and if you're looking for stuff that'll coexist happily alongside Silver Linings, The Orielles, Lonelady & Crazy P on your next mixtape, then this is the surely the ticket. 

              STAFF COMMENTS

              Matt says: Lou Hayter's "Private Sunshine" thankfully arrives just in the nick of time, preventing Crazy P from getting a restraining order out on me for over-obsession and repeat listening. If you like pop-flecked & electronic indie-boogie-disco laced with sweeteners and dressed to impress – this is for you!

              TRACK LISTING

              Side 1
              1. Cherry On Top (3:19)
              2. Telephone (4:22)
              3. My Baby Just Cares For Me (4:56)
              4. Time Out Of Mind (3:37)
              5. Private Sunshine (4:04)
              Side 2
              1. Cold Feet (3:35)
              2. What's A Girl To Do? (4:10)
              3. Still Dreaming (4:27)
              4. This City (3:54)
              5. Pinball (3:35)

              First Word Records is extremely proud to welcome back Children of Zeus with their sophomore album, 'Balance'.

              Following the release of their debut album 'Travel Light' in 2018 (which featured in numerous 'Album of the Year' lists), Tyler Daley and Konny Kon spent the next two years extensively touring the UK, Europe, Australia and South Africa.

              With shows on ice over the last 12 months, Children of Zeus took the time to mature their sound; 'Balance' is 50 minutes of future-classic British soul music encompassing hip hop, neo-soul, gospel and r&b. Konny's laidback flow once again merges with Tyler's unmistakable buttery vocals across a set of bass-heavy backdrops and smoothed-out keys, taking the blueprint from their debut and evolving it into a deeper, more-refined sound.

              As with previous material, the album is largely produced by the duo themselves, though we also see the return of Grammy-winner Beat Butcha, whose previous production credits include Jay Z, Beyonce, Nipsey Hussle, & Griselda (one of Butcha's productions graces first single 'No Love Song'). Title track 'Balance' comes from upcoming producer & Soulection regular, cay caleb and also features the only vocal feature on the album, from rising UK soul talents Akemi Fox and Georgie Sweet.

              The Children of Zeus journey began with a mutual love of 90s Manchester pirate radio; consuming hip hop and beats, r&b and street soul, lovers rock and dancehall, garage and bass music. Then followed decades of performing, creating and collaborating in different guises. Over the past few years, the hip hop soul duo have garnered props far and wide; from Jazzie B to Jazzy Jeff. They've done performances for the likes of Soulection and BBC, in addition to hosting their monthly NTS Radio show and collaborating with artists like Black Milk and Goldie.

              From travelling light, to travelling nowhere, it's been a time where we've all had to reflect on the lives we lead. This album is about equilibrium; walking the thin line of life and striving to keep your footing firm at all times, ever pushing forward. Balancing the rough with the smooth and the work with the play.

              The Children of Zeus sound is now fully grown. It's time to bring 'Balance' into the universe. This is unashamedly big people music to be played out of big speakers. The definitive sound of UK street soul in 2021. The story continues..

              STAFF COMMENTS

              Millie says: Super smooth soulful grooves and pristine production isn't beyond what we've come to expect from the great Children Of Zeus, but 'Balance' sees them refining their already lauded sound to a whole new level. Languid grooves and woozy beats perfectly coalesce into a wonderfully satisfying and genre-defining whole.

              TRACK LISTING

              1. Sunrise
              2. No Love Song
              3. I Know
              4. Be Someone
              5. I Need You
              6. Nice & Sweet
              7. Balance (feat. Akemi Fox & Georgie Sweet)
              8. Cali Dreams
              9. 42Long
              10. The Most Humblest Of All Time, Ever
              11. What I'm Seeing
              12. Love Again
              13: Sunset

              28 - Nick Cave & Warren Ellis


                Carnage is a new album by Nick Cave & Warren Ellis, recorded over a period of weeks during lockdown.

                Although the pair have composed & recorded many soundtracks together, and Ellis is a long-term member of The Bad Seeds, this is the first time they have released an entire album of songs as a duo.

                Cave describes the album as "a brutal but very beautiful record nested in a communal catastrophe."

                "Making Carnage was an accelerated process of intense creativity," says Ellis, "the eight songs were there in one form or another within the first two and a half days."

                Cave & Ellis' sonic and lyrical adventurism continues apace on Carnage, an album that emerged almost by accident out of the downtime created by the long, anxious, global emergency.

                Carnage is a record for these uncertain times - one shot through with moments of distilled beauty and that resonates with an almost defiant sense of hope.

                STAFF COMMENTS

                Barry says: Ellis and Cave go together like chips and gravy, there's no doubting that, but until now, they've not done a full album together that isn't a soundtrack. Now here we get the unmatched songwriting capability of both parties fully focused on an album in which they're allowed free reign and it's BEAUTIFUL. Cinematic in parts, but imbued with the melodic sensibilities that are generally missing from soundtrack work. A brilliant document of two of the greatest musicians in the business, and together, a force that simply can't be bettered.

                TRACK LISTING

                Hand Of God
                Old Time
                White Elephant
                Lavender Fields
                Shattered Ground
                Balcony Man

                29 - Public Service Broadcasting

                Bright Magic

                  An album in three parts (Building A City / Building A Myth / Bright Magic), it is their most ambitious undertaking yet, bringing you to Europe’s heart and de facto capital, the cultural and political metropolis that is the ‘Hautpstadt’ of the Federal Republic of Germany – Berlin.

                  “Doing this felt inevitable, somehow,” muses J.Willgoose, Esq. “In my head, it was whirring and pulsing away for a long time, even before Every Valley - this fascinating, contrary, seductive place. I knew the album was going to be about the city, and its history and myths, and I was going to move there. So it’s quite a personal story. It’s become an album about moving to Berlin to write an album about people who move to Berlin to write an album…”

                  Though PSB’s use of electronics and surging guitar rock remain familiar, Bright Magic uses samples, and the English language, sparingly. It differs from their previous albums in other ways: less linear and narrative, instead it’s an impressionistic portrait of a city from the ground up. A Eureka moment of sorts came in November 2018 when Willgoose heard Walter Ruttmann’s radical Berlin tape-artwork Wochenende (or Weekend), which is sampled on three of Bright Magic’s tracks. Created in 1928, the piece collaged speech, field recordings and music into a sonic evocation of the city. Resolving to integrate these long-gone fragments with new manipulated sound sources, he set about making his own Wochenende, a narrative drama for the ears which decodes and realises the dreams of Berlin he’d constructed in his mind.

                  J.Willgoose, Esq. said “I started to get a feeling for where the title of Bright Magic wanted to take me, towards ideas of illumination and inspiration, electricity and flashes of light and colour and sound (all the tracks would eventually be colour coded). I sent it to the rest of the band, and said, I know it’s going to change, but we’ll see how the city itself colours that.” J.Willgoose, Esq moved to Berlin from April 2019 to January 2020. Combining sound archaeology and the flâneuring of the psychogeographer, one street-level pursuit of the city’s energy involved Willgoose walking the Leipzigerstrasse, site of the city’s first electric streetlight, using a wide-band electromagnetic receiver from Moscow’s Soma Laboratories. “I walked up and down recording electrical currents and interference,” he laughs. “You can hear a few of these little frequency buzzes, clicks and impulses in Im Licht (a song inspired in part by pioneering lightbulb manufacturers AEG and Siemens). It’s what I was trying to do in the wider sense, I suppose – to capture those tiny little pulses you pick up while walking through a city.”

                  He wrote and recorded in Kreuzberg’s famous Hansa Tonstudio recording complex. This brought closer several inescapable musical touchstones: Depeche Mode’s classic eighties triumvirate, U2’s Achtung Baby and, crucially, Bowie’s “Heroes” and Low. “The whole shape and structure of the record is very much in debt to Low,” says Willgoose. Indeed, the Warszawa-evoking “The Visitor” – whose designated colour is the particular Orange of that album’s sleeve – was initially intended to feature a sample of Bowie reflecting, says Willgoose, on “how he viewed himself as this vessel for synthesizing and refracting other influences, and presenting avant-garde influences to the mainstream. We tried to absorb a bit of that spirit.”

                  As well as EERA, the album’s other guest voices include Blixa Bargeld, veteran of The Bad Seeds and Einstürzende Neubauten, who becomes the voice of Berlin’s industry on the robo-teknik “Der Rhythmus der Maschinen”. Andreya Casablanca of Berlin garageistes Gurr stands in for Marlene Dietrich in “My Blue Heaven”, an anthem of proud self-determination.

                  A very pro-European record, Bright Magic is ultimately not just about one city, but all centres of human interaction and community which allow the free exchange and cross-pollination of ideas.

                  STAFF COMMENTS

                  Barry says: PSB are back! It's been a long wait since their last full-length in 2017, but 'Bright Magic' has every one of the standard PSB tricks we love them for plus a few more. Filmic electronic groove, kosmische library-tinged synthplay and instantly addictive melodies. No doubt this will excite the earholes of new listeners and existing fans of the band alike, and shows a new progression of this already formidable musical force.

                  TRACK LISTING

                  ‘Bright Magic’
                  Der Sumpf (Sinfonie Der Großstadt)
                  Im Licht
                  Der Rhythmus Der Maschinen (ft. Blixa Bargeld)
                  People, Let’s Dance (ft. EERA)
                  Blue Heaven (ft. Andreya Casablanca)
                  Gib Mir Das Licht (ft. EERA)
                  The Visitor
                  Lichtspiel I: Opus
                  Lichtspiel II: Schwarz Weiss Grau
                  Lichtspiel III: Symphonie Diagonale
                  Ich Und Die Stadt (ft. Nina Hoss)

                  ‘Bright Magic (Demos)’
                  (Bonus CD With PIASR1230LPBK Only)

                  Der Sumpf (Sinfonie Der Großstadt) (Demo)
                  Im Licht (Demo)
                  Der Rhythmus Der Maschinen (Demo)
                  People, Let's Dance (Demo)
                  Blue Heaven (Demo)
                  Gib Mir Das Licht (Demo)
                  The Visitor (Demo)
                  Lichtspiel I: Opus (Demo)
                  Lichtspiel II: Schwarz Weiss
                  Grau (Demo)
                  Lichtspiel III: Symphonie Diagonale (Demo)

                  30 - Amyl And The Sniffers

                  Comfort To Me

                    Already renowned for a ball-tearing live show, The Sniffers made their international debut as one of the hottest tipped acts at The Great Escape in 2018. Soon afterwards, they signed deals with both Rough Trade Records and ATO Records, made a massively hyped appearance at SXSW, and finally released their self-titled debut album in 2019, landing them an ARIA (Australian Recording Industry Association) Award for Best Rock Album, capping off a wild year for the lunatic, likeable punks.

                    Late in 2020, Amyl and The Sniffers went into the studio with producer Dan Luscombe to record their sophomore album, Comfort To Me. Written over a long year of lockdown, the album was influenced by and expanded on a heavier pool of references - old-school rock’n’roll (AC/DC, Rose Tattoo, Motörhead and Wendy O Williams), modern hardcore (Warthog and Power Trip) and the steady homeland heroes (Coloured Balls and Cosmic Psychos). Lyrically, the album was influenced by Taylor’s rap idols and countless garage bands and in her words ‘I had all this energy inside of me and nowhere to put it, because I couldn’t perform, and it had a hectic effect on my brain. My brain evolved and warped and my way of thinking about the world completely changed.’

                    Seventeen songs were recorded in the Comfort to Me sessions and the top 13 made the cut. They were mixed long-distance by Nick Launay (Nick Cave, IDLES, Yeah Yeah Yeahs) and mastered by Bernie Grundman (Michael Jackson, Prince, Dr Dre).

                    Comfort To Me demonstrates the same irrepressible smarts, integrity and fearless candour as their debut but as you’d expect of any young band five years on, their sound has evolved, in Amy’s words it’s ‘raw self expression, defiant energy and unapologetic vulnerability.’

                    STAFF COMMENTS

                    Barry says: An expectedly hefty new one from Amyl And The Sniffers sees the Melbourne four-piece continue their brutal domination of the modern punk scene with this wonderfully acerbic, incendiary slice of slashing modern punk rock. There's a reason the band have garnered such a following, and this LP shows everyone why.

                    TRACK LISTING

                    Guided By Angels
                    Freaks To The Front
                    No More Tears
                    Don't Fence Me In
                    Don't Need A Cunt (Like You To Love Me)

                    A Winged Victory for the Sullen, the composer collaboration between Stars of the Lid founder Adam Wiltzie and L.A. composer Dustin O'Halloran, release new album ‘Invisible Cities’, the stunning score to the critically acclaimed theatre production directed by London Olympics ceremony video designer Leo Warner. Released on their own Artificial Pinearch Manufacturing label, the album comes as part of an agreement with A Winged Victory for the Sullen’s current label, Ninja Tune.

                    Premiering in July 2019 at the Manchester International Festival, the duo was commissioned by Warner’s 59 Productions to score the music for the 90-minute multimedia theatrical stage show, adapted from Italo Calvino’s 1972 novel, ‘Invisible Cities’. Described by The Sunday Times as “a beautiful frenzy of movement”, it fuses theatre, music, dance, architectural design and visuals and brings to life a series of fantastical places and disparate worlds, centred on the tense relationship between Kublai Khan, the volatile head of a vast empire, and explorer Marco Polo. Originally conceived as a touring project, it’s last performance was in Brisbane, Australia before COVID-19 changed the world as we know it.

                    “Four months is not a lot of time to create 90 minutes of music for a production using classical theatre, dance, & high res video mapping on a stage the size of 2 football pitches. It was a pleasure to work with 59 Productions, unlike other producers, they left the micro-managing at home, and let us get on with it. Early on in discussions with director Leo Warner it was realised that the human voice would take a central role in the score as it was essentially the only instrument we could see evolving over 600 years with a storyline that would not have the listener screaming “its Zimmertime”…,” says Wiltzie.

                    Transformed into 45 minutes of breathtaking beauty, ‘Invisible Cities’ opens with the numinous ‘So That the City Can Begin to Exist’, as Wiltzie and O'Halloran draw breath from distinctively enthralling and vastly expansive worlds. The ominous soundscapes of ‘The Dead Outnumber the Living’ contrast with the new beginnings that are presented in ‘Every Solstice & Equinox’, while the jagged and uneasy ‘Thirteenth Century Travelogue’ is one of tension and dread.

                    Elsewhere, ‘The Divided City’ captivates and intrigues while ‘Only Strings and Their Supports Remain’ and ‘There Is One of Which You Never Speak’ are bold roars for survival before the choral ambience of ‘Desires Are Already Memories’ and piercing drones of ‘Total Perspective Vortex’ bring down the curtain on a spectacular and incredibly emotive body of work.

                    Releasing their self-titled debut album in 2011 (Erased Tapes), A Winged Victory for the Sullen has developed something of a cult status over the past decade and alongside artists such as Max Richter, Hauschka, Hildur Guðnadóttir and Tim Hecker, are the vanguard of the neoclassical and ambient world and can count the likes of Jon Hopkins as fans.

                    The duo has gone on to release two further studio albums; ‘Atomos’ (Erased Tapes, 2014) and most recently ‘The Undivided Five’ (Ninja Tune, 2019) and were asked to perform at the BBC proms in 2015 by 6 Music presenter Mary Anne Hobbs. A Winged Victory for the Sullen also scored the music for the independent film ‘Iris’ (2016), directed by Jalil Lespert.

                    Wiltzie is best known as founding member of drone legends Stars of the Lid, The Dead Texan and Aix Em Klemm and has scored multiple film projects including ‘American Woman’ (2019) starring Sienna Miller, ‘Salero’ (2016) and The Yellow Birds (2017). In 2018, he also scored ‘Whitney’ (2018), the estate-approved documentary about the life of the late Whitney Houston, directed by Kevin Macdonald. Elsewhere, his original music has featured in Hollywood films including ‘Transformers: Dark of The Moon’ (2011), ‘Godzilla’ (2014), ‘Like Crazy’ (2011) and acclaimed TV shows including ‘House M.D’, ‘Nip/Tuck’ and ‘Top Boy’. He also collaborated with the late Jóhann Jóhannsson on his scores for ‘The Theory of Everything’ (2014) and ‘Arrival’ (2016).

                    O'Halloran, a self-taught pianist from the age of 7, began his musical life as a guitarist and formed the much-loved indie rock outfit Dévics with Sara Lov, releasing four albums on Bella Union. As a solo artist, he has composed music for numerous film and television projects including Sofia Coppola’s ‘Marie Antoinette’ (2006) and Drake Doremus’ ‘Like Crazy' (2011) starring Felicity Jones. Demand for his film scores is high and in 2015, he won an Emmy for theme music for the Golden Globe-winning Amazon series ‘Transparent’, starring Jeffrey Tambor. He has also collaborated with film composer Hauschka on numerous films, including ‘Lion’ (2016), with the score nominated for an Oscar, BAFTA and Golden Globe. Most recently, he co-composed the music for the film ‘Ammonite’ (2020) with Volker Bertelmann, directed by Francis Lee and starring Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan.

                    STAFF COMMENTS

                    Barry says: There are few experiences I treasure more than popping some slow moving ambient business on the stereo and sitting down, and there are few bands that do that exact business better than AWVFTS. One of my all-time favourites return for another gorgeous suite of swelling pads and tentative piano.

                    TRACK LISTING

                    1. So That The City Can Begin To Exist
                    2. The Celestial City
                    3. The Dead Outnumber The Living
                    4. Every Solstice & Equinox
                    5. Nothing Of The City Touches The Earth
                    6. Thirteenth Century Travelogue
                    7. The Divided City
                    8. Only Strings And Their Supports Remain
                    9. There Is One Of Which You Never Speak
                    10. Despair Dialogue
                    11. The Merchants Of Seven Nations
                    12. Desires Are Already Memories
                    13. Total Perspective Vortex

                    32 - Madlib

                    Sound Ancestors (Arranged By Kieran Hebden)

                    Gil Evans to Miles Davis…. Holger Czukay to the ensemble known as Can….Jean Claude Vannier to Serge Gainsbourg on Histoire de Melody Nelson. That’s the only way to explain the specificity of Four Tet and Madlib’s collaboration, in this special album that showcases a two-decade long friendship that has resulted in an album that follows Madlib’s classics like Quasimoto’s The Unseen, Madvillainy and his Pinata and Bandana albums with Freddie Gibbs.

                    “A few months ago I completed work on an album with my friend Madlib that we’d been making for the last few years. He is always making loads of music in all sorts of styles and I was listening to some of his new beats and studio sessions when I had the idea that it would be great to hear some of these ideas made into a Madlib solo album. Not made into beats for vocalists to use but instead arranged into tracks that could all flow together in an album designed to be listened to start to finish. I put this concept to him when we were hanging out eating some nice food one day and we decided to work on this together with him sending me tracks, loops, ideas and experiments that I would arrange, edit, manipulate and combine. I was sent hundreds of pieces of music over a couple of years stretch and during that time I put together this album with all the parts that fitted with my vision.” Kieren Hebden AKA Four Tet.

                    STAFF COMMENTS

                    Barry says: There's no denying that both Madlib and Hebden are two of the most renowned musicians on the scene, and 'Sound Ancestors' does exactly as you'd expect, cementing their reputations and collaborative capabilities with a rich and soulful fusion of IDM and shuffled beatplay.

                    TRACK LISTING

                    A1. There Is No Time (Prelude)
                    A2. The Call
                    A3. Theme De Crabtree
                    A4. Road Of The Lonely Ones
                    A5. Loose Goose
                    A6. Dirtknock
                    A7. Hopprock
                    A8. Riddim Chant
                    B1. Sound Ancestors
                    B2. One For Quartabê/Right Now
                    B3. Hang Out (Phone Off)
                    B4. Two For 2 -For Dilla
                    B5. Latino Negro
                    B6. The New Normal
                    B7. Chino
                    B8. Duumbiyay

                    33 - Ducks Ltd.

                    Modern Fiction

                      Toronto’s Ducks Ltd. (formerly Ducks Unlimited), the bright jangle-pop duo of Tom McGreevy (lead vocal, guitar, bass, keyboards) and Evan Lewis (guitar, bass, drum programming), accomplish the impossible. The pair craft songs that play to very specific inspirations without drowning underneath them—immediately evidenced on their critically acclaimed EP, Get Bleak, and sharpened on Modern Fiction, their debut LP. “The Servants, The Clean, The Chills, The Bats, Television Personalities, Felt,” Evan rattles off. “Look Blue Go Purple is one I reference a lot with our production.” Echoes of ‘80s indiepop abound, but they never overwhelm. This is not a nostalgic record, after all, nor is it a derivative one. Instead, across 10 cheery-sounding songs, Ducks Ltd. explore contemporary society in decline, examining large scale human disaster through personal turmoil (hence the title, taken from a university course called Gnosticism and Nihilism in Modern Fiction, influenced by Graham Greene novels. Bookish indie fans, look no further.)

                      Writing the album was intimate. Tom drafted the nucleus of a song on an unplugged electric guitar and brought it over to Evan’s apartment, where the pair sat in his bedroom, placing percussive beats from a drum machine under nascent melodies, passing a bass back and forth, adding organs and bridges where necessary. “It’s computer music trying extremely hard not to sound like computer music,” Tom jokes. Fearful that limited and expensive studio time would kneecap the project creatively, eroding their charming naivete, the pair re-recorded the album in a storage space owned by Evan’s boss. Ornamentation through collaboration followed: there’s Aaron Goldstein on Pedal Steel in the Go-Betweens’ “Cattle and Cane”-channeling interlude “Patience Wearing Thin,” Eliza Niemi on cello (“18 Cigarettes,” a song loosely inspired by a 1997 Oasis performance of “Don’t Go Away”), and backing harmonies from Carpark labelmates The Beths (on an ode to friendship at a distance, “How Lonely Are You?,” “Always There,” and on the sped-up Syd Barrett stylings of “Under The Rolling Moon.”) While in his native Australia due to covid-19, Evan worked closely with producer James Cecil (The Goon Sax, Architecture in Helsinki) on Modern Fiction’s finishing touches—at one point, in the mountains of the Macedon Ranges in Victoria, recorded a string quartet (featured on “Fit to Burst,” “Always There,” “Sullen Leering Hope,” “Twere Ever Thus,” “Grand Final Day.”)

                      It’s danceable, depressive fun, with some relief: in “Always There” and “Sullen Leering Hope,” Modern Fiction’s faithful heart. “There’s a tendency in my writing, because of my world view, to be very bleak.” Tom explains. “A quality I don’t always see in myself and really appreciate in others is the courage to go on.” And yet, the record manages resiliency—enough for pop fans to fall in love with. 

                      STAFF COMMENTS

                      Laura says: Ducks Ltd, the duo of Tom Mcgreevy and Evan Lewis formed in Toronto, Canada and are now based between there and Geelong, Australia. Channelling 80s UK indie pop and weaving in some antipodean charm, this is perfect sun-kissed jangle pop with a heavy dose of melancholy. An absolute delight. For fans of McCarthy, Flying Nun Records, RBCF, Horsebeach, Goon Sax....

                      TRACK LISTING

                      1. How Lonely Are You?
                      2. Old Times
                      3. 18 Cigarettes
                      4. Under The Rolling Moon
                      5. Fit To Burst
                      6. Patience Wearing Thin
                      7. Always There
                      8. Sullen Leering Hope
                      9. 'Twere Ever Thus
                      10. Grand Final Day

                      34 - The Go! Team

                      Get Up Sequences Part One

                        On “Get Up Sequences Part One” Ian, Ninja, Nia, Simone, Sam and Adam have created a musical world distinctly of their own making. A place where routine is outlawed and perfection is the enemy. Where Ennio Morricone meets the Monkees armed with flutes, glockenspiels, steel drums and a badass analogue attitude. We’re talking widescreen, four- track, channel hopping sounds that are instantly recognisable.

                        In The Go! Team's world, old’s cool, the future's bright and melody is the star. Just check the second cut “Cookie Scene” with a bouncing flute and junk shop percussion it introduces guest rapper Indigo Yaj who delivers an old school vocal that continues this sonic trip. Pow channels Curtis Mayfield and enter stage centre, the inimitable Ninja in full flow and you don’t stop, you wont stop to this flute driven free for all.

                        By way of demonstrating The Go! Team’s old school manifesto, comes the 'needle-in-the-red' “I Love You Better” a defiant message to an ex love, spelling out exactly how he’s fucked up – and then there’s those steel drums. Following that comes the soda fountain soul courtesy of “A Bee Without Its Sting”, a groovy protest song that makes its point with a tambourine – hey only The Go! Team.

                        The musical wagon train then takes you into the wide screen, windswept western that is Tame the Great Plains heading off into a polyrhythmic panorama that’s full of hope. Slappin’ you back to reality comes “World Remember Me Now”, a timely reminder that when you’re lost in the routine of life, you can always count on The Go! Team.

                        STAFF COMMENTS

                        Barry says: It's exactly what you'd expect from the Go! Team, this it's bright and bold and chaotic and absolutely on-brand. Summery steel drums and syncopated percussion, offset tinny melodies and jangling percussion, topped with jubilant vocal swathes. Brilliantly bright and wonderfully fun.

                        TRACK LISTING

                        1. Let The Seasons Work
                        2. Cookie Scene
                        3. A Memo For Maceo
                        4. We Do It But Never Know Why
                        5. Freedom Now
                        6. Pow
                        7. I Loved You Better
                        8. A Bee Without Its Sting
                        9. Tame The Great Plains
                        10. World Remember Me Now

                        35 - Hiatus Kaiyote

                        Mood Valiant

                          Hiatus Kaiyote is comprised of Naomi “Nai Palm” Saalfield (guitar, vocals), Paul Bender (bass), Simon Mavin (keys), and Perrin Moss (drums)

                          The new album has been in the making for six years, but that interval reflects more hustle than hiatus. The result is an album that relaxes into a groove: sunlit, sublime, masterful. Behind everything is Hiatus’ familiar sense of musical adventure, their knack for making the complex sound simple.

                          The six year journey of the album originally began on the road, as they began to add new material to their live sets in while touring in support of Choose Your Weapon. By the fall of 2018, backing tracks had largely been laid, ready for Nai’s vocals. Then, during a brief swing through the U.S., Hiatus’s frontwoman was diagnosed with breast cancer. “That was a massive scare,” recalls Nai. Her mother’s death from the same disease was never far from her mind. Nai rushed back to Australia and into the hospital, where she underwent a life-saving mastectomy. As Nai recovered, the band turned back to their work with altered perspectives. Her lyrics, even those written before her illness, took on a prescient quality. It wasn't until a trip to Rio de Janeiro in late-2019 to work with legendary Brazilian arranger Arthur Verocai on "Get Sun" that the vibe of the entire album shifted.

                          STAFF COMMENTS

                          Matt says: Staples of the modern funk and soul scene, HK return with, surprisingly, only their third album to date. A hard touring schedule combined with impeccable quality control has restrained (read: distilled) this act into only releasing their most quality of jams. For this we must thank them - presenting their sound as high quality, easy to digest dishes of soul food.

                          TRACK LISTING

                          Side A

                          1. Flight Of The Tiger Lily
                          2. Sip Into Something Soft
                          3. Chivalry Is Not Dead
                          4. And We Go Gentle
                          5. Get Sun (feat. Arthur Verocai)
                          6. All The Words We Don’t Say

                          Side B
                          1. Hush Rattle
                          2. Rose Water
                          3. Red Room
                          4. Sparkle Tape Break Up
                          5. Stone Or Lavender
                          6. Blood And Marrow


                          1. Flight Of The Tiger Lily
                          2. Sip Into Something Soft
                          3. Chivalry Is Not Dead
                          4. And We Go Gentle
                          5. Get Sun (feat. Arthur Verocai)
                          6. All The Words We Don't Say
                          7. Hush Rattle
                          8. Rose Water
                          9. Red Room
                          10. Sparkle Tape Break Up
                          11. Stone Or Lavender
                          12. Blood And Marrow

                          36 - Lucy Dacus

                          Home Video

                            This new gift from Dacus, her third album, was built on an interrogation of her coming-of-age years in Richmond, VA. Many songs start the way a memoir might—“In the summer of ’07 I was sure I’d go to heaven, but I was hedging my bets at VBS”—and all of them have the compassion, humour, and honesty of the best autobiographical writing. Most importantly and mysteriously, this album displays Dacus’s ability to use the personal as portal into the universal.

                            “I can’t hide behind generalizations or fiction anymore,” Dacus says, though talking about these songs, she admits, makes her ache. That Home Video arrives at the end of this locked down, fearful era seems as preordained as the messages within. “I don’t necessarily think that I’m supposed to understand the songs just because I made them,” Dacus says, “I feel like there’s this person who has been in me my whole life and I’m doing my best to represent them.” After more than a year of being homebound, in a time when screens and video calls were sometimes our only form of contact, looking backward was a natural habit for many.

                            If we haven’t learned it already, this album is a gorgeous example of the transformative power of vulnerability. Dacus’s voice, both audible and on the page, has a healer’s power to soothe and ground and reckon.

                            STAFF COMMENTS

                            Barry says: While 'No Burden' and to a lesser extent 'Historian' dealt with undoubtedly serious events with a certain levity, 'Home Video' hits as hard as is possible while still retaining Dacus' melodicism and wit. 'Thumbs' gives me genuine shivers every time I hear it, and the rest of the LP isn't far behind. An absolutely stunning LP, again vying for high up the Barry EOY list.

                            TRACK LISTING

                            1. Hot & Heavy
                            2. Christine
                            3. First Time
                            4. VBS
                            5. Cartwheel
                            6. Thumbs
                            7. Going Going Gone
                            8. Partner In Crime
                            9. Brando
                            10. Please Stay
                            11. Triple Dog Dare

                            37 - White Denim

                            Crystal Bullets / King Tears

                              What Denim have pulled off a brilliant stunt today, one which I don't think anybody else has done before! What was meant to be a two track 12inch of 2 sublime new songs, turns out to be a full 9 track proper album, housed in the 2 track sleeve with basically 7 extra untitled songs. These songs are NOT AVAILABLE ON STREAMING SERVICES, only on this most beautiful of all formats, the vinyl LP

                              What's even more exciting is that this record is brilliant! No odds'n'sods here at all, this is a brand new album with not one duff track; in short, a proper new, secret LP! This unique band have released 10 records since their debut in 2008 but non as luschious as this: gorgeous slinky grooves  topped with jazzy, funky moods and spacey, dreamy vocals. Imagine Steely Dan meets Little Feat!!! A marriage made in heaven you'd think? You'd be right!

                              What a band.

                              STAFF COMMENTS

                              Andy says: Incredible new album disguised as a 12 inch single. The rogues! Funky, lush, intricate and mellow, a masterstroke by this most unique of bands!

                              ‘Still Slipping Vol.1’ is the debut full length project from Joy Orbison. Fans of Joy O’s DJ sets and radio shows will already be aware of his diverse tastes and inspirations, represented here through a roll call of delicately curated, mainly UK, collaborators that include Herron, James Massiah, Bathe, Léa Sen, Goya Gumbani and TYSON.

                              Just as important are the voices of Joy Orbison's family - mum, dad, sister Sarah, uncle Frankie, uncle Keith (recently departed), auntie Helen and cousins Lola and Mia, as well as Leighann, who was the first person to introduce him to drum and bass and garage as a kid and stars on the mixtape’s cover art.

                              They appear throughout the record via a series of voice notes, his only contact with his family during this year of worldwide lockdown and an intimate, vicarious glimpse into the personal world of an artist who has generally side-stepped the public gaze. 

                              It's a long time coming since 2009's "Hyph Mngo" revolutionized and married the worlds of bass and techno together. Instrumental in advancing dance music and merging tribes of different electronic genres together, his Sunklo items have become treasured artifacts of dance music lineage and it seems utterally bewildering that it's taken him until now to release a full length album.

                              Painfully succinct, delicately poised and highly advanced; all the trademarks that mark this singular and innovative producer / DJ. Sequenced to perfection and playing more like a mixtape tape than a collection of individual tracks, you'll struggle to take the needle off the record until its completion I can assure you! Highly recommended!  

                              STAFF COMMENTS

                              Matt says: Can you believe this is Joy-O's first long player?! His tracks seem to have influenced and soundtracked the better dancefloors of the last decade on a near-permanent basis. Over a transient, constantly-morphing LP we get the skitty, advanced kinetics; emotive washes and his shadowy, blurred vox all showcased at their most intimate and astonishing. One of our royal treasures of electronic music.

                              TRACK LISTING

                              W/ Dad & Frankie
                              Sparko (feat. Herron)
                              Swag W/ Kav (feat. James Massiah & Bathe)
                              Better (feat. Léa Sen)
                              Rraine (feat. Edna)
                              Glorious Amateurs
                              S Gets Jaded
                              Froth Sipping
                              Layer 6
                              In Drink
                              Playground (feat. Goya Gumbani)
                              Born Slipping (feat. TYSON)

                              39 - Lucinda Chua


                                Lucinda Chua is a singer, songwriter, composer, producer and multi-instrumentalist based in South London. Primarily using her voice, a cello, and an array of effects units, Chua writes ambient pop songs that are intimate, atmospheric, and totally enchanting.

                                Whilst studying photography at university in Nottingham, Chua took an elective course in music production and the resulting experimental tracks she created and uploaded online caught the attention of US label kranky. Before long she was touring with Stars of the Lid as a cellist and string arranger and went on to release two albums with her first band Felix – all while barely into her 20s. After Felix broke up, Chua spent a few years in London exploring the city’s creative scene and began experimenting with the cello. Those explorations became her 2019 debut EP Antidotes 1 which flitted between hushed songwriting and expansive textural soundscapes and was released shortly before she joined FKA twigs’ live band for her Magdalene tour. Earning praise from Pitchfork, The Guardian, Dazed and gal-dem, Antidotes 1 led to Chua participating in NTS Radio’s Work In Progress scheme as well as performing one-person shows across the UK and Europe including Red Bull Music Festival London, MUTEK Barcelona, Tate Modern and Somerset House.

                                A sister release to Antidotes 1, Antidotes 2 expands Chua’s unique sonic vocabulary, with subliminal textures that bleed into each other before fading away. If Antidotes 1 was Chua building the landscape and scenery for her music, then Antidotes 2 is her living within it. Some of the songs were written during the same period whilst others, like EP opener ‘Until I Fall’, are brand new.

                                The vinyl edition of Antidotes will include both EPs.

                                STAFF COMMENTS

                                Barry says: Having played with ambient luminaries Stars Of The Lid as a cellist, it's no surprise that Chua's work is very much in the slow-moving ambient vein, but on 'Antidotes' we see her wonderful ear for production and singularly unique ambient talent come shining through. It's beguiling and emotive avant-classical with subtle elements of slow-moving synth, and is a sound all of her own.

                                TRACK LISTING

                                Feel Something
                                Whatever It Takes
                                Somebody Who
                                Until I Fall
                                An Avalanche
                                Torch Song

                                40 - Hannah Peel

                                Fir Wave

                                  The new album, a sonic shimmer of textures and pulses that switches between raw atmospheric edges and environments, arrives with a fascinating history. As Peel explains, “The specialist library label KPM, gave me permission to reinterpret the original music of the celebrated 1972 KPM 1000 series: Electrosonic, the music of Delia Derbyshire and the Radiophonic Workshop.” This process of re-generation and finding fresh inspiration in pioneering, experimental electronics from the early 1970s is at the core of the album. Peel has made connections and new patterns that mirror the Earth’s ecological cycles through music.

                                  Peel explains, “I’m drawn to the patterns around us and the cycles in life that will keep on evolving and transforming forever. Fir Wave is defined by its continuous environmental changes and there are so many connections to those patterns echoed in electronic music - it’s always an organic dis-covery of old and new.” As Delia Derbyshire revealed in 2000 to BBC sound engineer, journalist and academic Jo Hutton: “I like new things that don’t seem new . . . as though they’ve always been there.”

                                  Known more recently for curating and presenting on BBC Radio 3’s Night Tracks, the Northern Irish Emmy-nominated composer and producer’s work is ambitious and forward-looking, adapting and re-inventing new genres and hybrid musical forms. Recent albums include the solo electronic and pop work of Awake But Always Dreaming, which became an ode to her grandmother’s mind as she lived with dementia; the electronic ruralism of Chalk Hill Blue, an album recorded with the poet Will Burns; and the space and the unparalleled vastness of Mary Casio: Journey to Cassiopeia, scored for synthesisers and a 30 piece colliery brass band. In 2019 she composed and recorded the soundtrack for Game of Thrones: The Last Watch which earned her an Emmy nomination for ‘Outstanding Music Composition For A Documentary Series Or Special (Original Dramatic Score)’. 

                                  STAFF COMMENTS

                                  Barry says: While i'm a big fan of archival synth business, it's often hard to really listen to it in any other situation other than chin-scratching synth-nerdery. I know, i'm a fan of that and while the more esoteric synth explorations are great fun, they have nowhere near the amount of sheer depth and replayability that you get with 'Fir Wave'. A dynamic and cohesive set of rhythmic electronic pieces, moulded with the legendary influence from KPM. Stunning.

                                  TRACK LISTING

                                  Side A
                                  1 Wind Shadow
                                  2 Emergence In Nature
                                  3 Patterned Formation
                                  4 Carbon Cycle

                                  Side B
                                  1 Ecovocative
                                  2 Fir Wave
                                  3 Reaction Diffusion 

                                  Jungle’s new album ‘Loving In Stereo’ is the soundtrack for a summer quite unlike any other with their completely unique and soulful sound.

                                  The British producer duo have created a huge disco record for the post-social distancing age, with a life-affirming, dancefloor-igniting, sun-kissed celebration of all the things that make music irresistibly joyful. What’s not to love, get stuck into the thickest juiciest tunes to come out this year. The feeling of europhia seeps into every corner of Loving In Stereo and it’s not enough to have it continually on repeat.

                                  ‘Romeo’ has the most laid back - back of the car with the windows down vibe ever, whereas ‘Talk About It’ is the epitome of Jungle in a nutshell, fired-up synth beats and backing vocals you can only dream of. Not forgetting Bonnie Hill for a quick feel-good hit, instant joy!

                                  Jungle have created the only album you need this summer to brighten up those long sunny days and light nights. Repeat, repeat and then repeat again. 

                                  STAFF COMMENTS

                                  Millie says: Jungle treating us with the stunning new album Loving In Stereo, this needs to jump to the top of your listening pile. ‘All of the Time’ and ‘Bonnie Hill’ are a permanent favourite of mine, get on this album for an instant mood booster this summer!

                                  TRACK LISTING

                                  1. Dry Your Tears
                                  2. Keep Moving
                                  3. All Of The Time
                                  4. Romeo
                                  5. Lifting You
                                  6. Bonnie Hill
                                  7. Fire
                                  8. Talk About It
                                  9. No Rules
                                  10. Truth
                                  11. What D'You Know About Me?
                                  12. Just Fly, Don't Worry
                                  13. Goodbye My Love
                                  14. Can't Stop The Stars

                                  42 - White Flowers

                                  Day By Day

                                    RIYL: Beach House, Cocteau Twins, Cigarettes After Sex, Slowdive.

                                    For songwriting duo Joey Cobb and Katie Drew of White Flowers, one of the most exciting young bands in the UK right now, it was only on leaving London to return to their native Preston that the dark-hued dreampop of their debut album, Day By Day, began to crystalize.

                                    "There’s something uniquely bleak about the North,” says Joey, speaking from the abandoned textile mill that White Flowers call home, “but in that bleakness there’s a certain beauty.”

                                    The pair had left Preston for London to study at art college, and it was there that they first began to explore the nascent psych scene bubbling under in the few remaining arts-orientated spaces in the east of the city. It soon inspired them to begin work on music of their own.

                                    “We didn’t want to be a psych band,” explains Katie, "but discovering that music gave us both energy and focus. We’ve spent so many years developing these songs, because I think it was important we waited until White Flowers became its own defined thing."

                                    The pair found that by using equipment they barely understood, they produced their most innovative work. Beginning on GarageBand, they crafted loops that turned into songs, and by the time they’d worked out how to use it, they’d graduated to a drum machine.

                                    Now very much in control, and with a clear and determined focus, the pair began producing music that, whilst leaning into the North’s post-punk past, possessed a vision and depth informed by their own post-industrial Preston experiences. Creating all of their artwork, visuals and overall aesthetic, they began building a world that stretched beyond the music alone – in an unusual circular fashion, this auteurist-like approach became a way of translating their environment and experiences into a form of escapism from the very place that inspired them.

                                    “We’ve always taken care to control every aspect of the White Flowers ‘world’, and because we’ve developed this over time, it feels to us like there’s a separate realm for White Flowers music to exist in,” observes Joey. “More than anything, the isolation that a place like Preston provides means that what we do is very much its own, separate thing”.

                                    That ‘thing’ is the sound of the North at night; the unglamorous North, caught in the hinterlands that divide the main cities, a monochrome psychedelia formed in Preston and the imposing Lancashire hills that envelop them. As if always waiting there for them, in returning to their roots, White Flowers found themselves.

                                    Nonetheless, it was shortly before leaving London that another creative breakthrough occurred. While performing a small show as a support act, a fan in the audience, impressed by the wall of noise that would frequently extend for minutes at the end of tracks, suggested they work with a like-minded friend. Within weeks, the pair were recording at the Manchester studio of Jez Williams, erstwhile member of Doves.

                                    Williams and Manchester immediately made sense, and it’s that industrial gothic that White Flowers were able to tap into as they built the album during on-off sessions across two years – sometimes leaving the studio for a couple of months to work on ideas, other times crafting the minutiae of details across all-night studio sessions.

                                    The access to flexible studio time was telling, and the band were able to develop an aesthetic that, whilst indebted to the various sounds that defined their youth, also leaned heavily into Kevin Shields’ droning wall of noise guitars, the palimpsestic hauntology of early Burial, and the ghost box sampleadelia of Boards of Canada.

                                    “We like the more alien sounds” explains Joey, “where the focus is on creating atmosphere.” This is perhaps most obvious on the album title track, one of the more sonically enticing tracks on the record with its pulsing drone and Portishead-esque rhythm, or even ‘Night Drive’, a live favourite that the pair take pride in building into a monstrous wall of sound.

                                    ‘Daylight’ pushes forward with a prettiness matched by Katie’s oblique, near-glossolalia vocal. “We don’t like it when things are clean or overproduced” explains Katie, “and there’s something interesting in the instinctive nature of the first thing you sing, because you don’t really know what you’re singing until it comes out and it makes sense.” That psychographic-style process to writing informs a collection of songs that are at once both intuitive and fully-formed.

                                    The oldest song on the record, ‘Help Me Help Myself’, bears witness to this approach. Perhaps their most direct and perfect ‘pop’ song to date, it suggests these songs were always there within, just waiting to be divined. "We’d just started using drum machines and there’s something of a naïve quality to it,” explains Katie, though its naivety has now been augmented by Jez Williams’ impossibly diaphanous production.

                                    The constant upheaval of, well, everything has fed directly into Day By Day. “The songs on the album were written from when we were teenagers up to our early 20s, so it’s come of age in this weird apocalyptic time,” says Katie.

                                    “Everything’s surrounded by uncertainty” notes Joey, "but it isn’t all doom and gloom, there are positives, rules are out the window and you can do what you want. There’s some hope in there.”

                                    STAFF COMMENTS

                                    Darryl says: A gorgeously plaintive mix of post-rock quiet/loud instrumentation, shimmering walls of sound and tender, delicate vocal accompaniment. A rich and sumptuous swell of talented songwriting and emotional delivery.

                                    TRACK LISTING

                                    1. Intro - (02:25)
                                    2. Night Drive - (04:57)
                                    3. Daylight - (03:45)
                                    4. Stars - (03:35)
                                    5. Tried To Call - (04:26)
                                    6. Help Me Help Myself - (04:43)
                                    7. Day By Day - (06:07)
                                    8. Different Time, Different Place - (04:16)
                                    9. Portra - (04:03)
                                    10. Nightfall - (03:23)

                                    43 - Slowthai


                                      "TYRON" is a tale of two halves exposing human complexity. Just as with the narrative of his own life, there are always two sides to every story. Side one re-introduces us to the classic hubris, machismo, and braggadocio typical of rap music. Side two takes what you thought you knew about slowthai and flips on its head. ‘feel away’ and ‘nhs’ go some way to dip a toe inside the complexities of his mind but delve deeper and you’ll be left with a clearer understanding of who he truly is. Honesty is paramount as ultimately Ty wants listeners to know that “it’s ok to be yourself”.

                                      "TYRON" was formed against the backdrop of an unforgiving climate where judgement, shaming and underdeveloped and simplistic conceptions of other people are fashionable. Instead of succumbing to such simplicity, "TYRON" presents an artist who is unabashedly complicated and willing to explore themes of loneliness, identity, self-acceptance, and the difficulties in becoming an individual. Unlike the political overtone of slowthai’s debut album ‘Nothing Great About Britain’ which took listeners on a journey through slowthai’s turbulent upbringing and his stance on British life – this self-titled follow up, "TYRON" is a melodic dive through the expansive landscape of his feelings. His ability to bear his imperfections and contradictions makes "TYRON" an album that is the antithesis of a culture of purity. A resistance to the rising tide of moral one-upmanship and the pervasive self-righteousness that blinds us to our own fallibility.

                                      STAFF COMMENTS

                                      Patrick says: After a career threatening display of pissed up lechery at the NME awards, Slowthai returns with a redemptive sophomore LP centred on his emotional journey through regret, shame and judgement. A conceptual game of two halves the LP offers middle-finger waving bravado on an unapologetic first disc, before taking a deep dive into the feels on the second disc. A mature and vital release which surpasses the political aggression of his debut.

                                      TRACK LISTING

                                      1. 45 SMOKE
                                      2. CANCELLED
                                      3. MAZZA
                                      4. VEX
                                      5. DEAD
                                      7. PLAY WITH FIRE
                                      8. I Tried
                                      9. Focus
                                      10. Terms
                                      11. Push
                                      12. Nhs
                                      13. Feel Away
                                      14. Adhd

                                      44 - TV Priest


                                        It’s tempting to think that you have all the answers, screaming your gospel every day with certainty and anger. Life isn’t quite like that though, and the debut album from London four-piece TV Priest instead embraces the beautiful and terrifying unknowns that exist personally, politically, and culturally.

                                        Posing as many questions as it answers, Uppers is a thunderous opening statement that continues the UK’s recent resurgence of grubby, furious post-punk music. It says something very different though – something completely its own.

                                        Four childhood friends who made music together as teenagers before drifting apart and then, somewhat inevitably, back together late in 2019, TV Priest was borne out of a need to create together once again, and brings with it a wealth of experience and exhaustion picked up in the band’s years of pursuing ‘real life’ and ‘real jobs’, something those teenagers never had.

                                        Last November, the band – vocalist Charlie Drinkwater, guitarist Alex Sprogis, bass and keys player Nic Smith and drummer Ed Kelland – played their first show, to a smattering of friends in what they describe as an “industrial freezer” in the warehouse district of Hackney Wick. “It was like the pub in Peep Show with a washing machine just in the middle…” Charlie laughs, remembering how they dodged Star Wars memorabilia and deep fat fryers while making their first statement as a band.

                                        Unsurprisingly, there isn’t a precedent for launching a band during a global pandemic, but among the general sense of anxiety and unease pervading everything at the moment, TV Priest’s entrance in April with the release of debut single “House Of York” - a searing examination of the Monarchy set over wiry post-punk and fronted by a Mark E. Smith-like mouthpiece - served as a breath of fresh air among the chaos, its anger and confusion making some kind of twisted sense to the nation’s fried brains.

                                        It’s the same continued global sense of anxiety that will greet the release of Uppers, and it’s an album that has a lot to say right now. Taking musical cues from post-punk stalwarts The Fall and Protomartyr as well as the mechanical, pulsating grooves of krautrock, it’s a record that moves with an untamed energy. Over the top of this rumbling musical machine is vocalist Charlie, a cuttingly funny, angry, confused, real frontman. Uppers sees TV Priest explicitly and outwardly trying to avoid narrowmindedness. Uppers sees TV Priest taking musical and personal risks, reaching outside of themselves and trying to make sense of this increasingly messy world. It's a band and a record that couldn’t arrive at a more perfect time.

                                        STAFF COMMENTS

                                        Barry says: The latest in a long run of bands riding the new punk revival, TV Priest mix the breathy off-kilter vocal musings of idles with the machinated percussion of the Sleaford Mods and add a healthy dash of grungy dissonance. A heady concoction indeed.

                                        TRACK LISTING

                                        The Big Curve
                                        Press Gang
                                        Leg Room
                                        Journal Of A Plague Year
                                        History Week
                                        Fathers And Sons
                                        The Ref
                                        Powers Of Ten
                                        This Island

                                        45 - Low

                                        Hey What

                                          Focusing on their craft, staying out of the fray, and holding fast their faith to find new ways to express the discord and delight of being alive, to turn the duality of existence into hymns we can share, Low present HEY WHAT. These ten pieces—each built around their own instantaneous, undeniable hook—are turbocharged by the vivid textures that surround them. The ineffable, familiar harmonies of Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker break through the chaos like a life raft. Layers of distorted sound accrete with each new verse - building, breaking, colossal then restrained, a solemn vow only whispered. There will be time to unravel and attribute meaning to the music and art of these times, but the creative moment looks FORWARD, with teeth.

                                          HEY WHAT is Low's thirteenth full-length release in twenty-seven years, and their third with producer BJ Burton.

                                          STAFF COMMENTS

                                          Barry says: 'Hey What' follows on nicely from 'Double Negative', continuing the dedication to avant-noise drone tempered with the majestic vocal accompaniment of Parker and Sparhawk. This time they move the sound forwards with a clever and unique mixture of that shadowy drone and the more pop-focused melodies of their early work. Stunning.

                                          TRACK LISTING

                                          White Horses
                                          I Can Wait
                                          All Night
                                          Days Like These
                                          There's A Comma After Still
                                          Don't Walk Away
                                          The Price You Pay (It Must Be Wearing Off)

                                          Jon Coley is something of an underground figure in Manchester's music scene. Combining soul and folk with intelligent original songwriting, and admired for his unique guitar playing (taking influence from performers such as Nick Drake, Bert Jansch, Wizz Jones and especially John Martyn) and for his passionate vocal performances, reminiscent of Van Morrison and Amos Lee.

                                          "If All I Ever Wanted Was All I Ever Needed" is his strikingly pure, heart-wide-open debut album. Opening with the Tracey Chapman-esque, "Higher Ground" it's obvious from the start there's a warm and healing magic to Jon's voice; the mere sounding of the record certain to rekindle forgotten memories of happy times like flames around a campfire.

                                          Jon's guitar and voice seem unseperable throughout; symbiotically elevating each other beyond their instrument's solo limitations. And his vocal range - wow! - I mean, Jon where were you hiding such an angelic falsetto?! Like golden honey flowing over polished leather, the slight gravly inflections like proplis in this sonic royal jelly.

                                          Accompanying Jon, a beautifully intimate team of backing muscians and vocalists (all credited on the record's sleeve) which add finedrawn, unforced dynamics to this otherwise one-man operation which in parts drifts in to Mazzy Star-esque depths of emotion.

                                          If you're looking for a charismatic and heart warming troubadour to keep you company over the coming Autumn months then look no further! Highly recommended by us all here at Piccadilly Records.

                                          Jon has played alongside John Renbourn, Blind Boy Paxton, Michael Chapman, Ralph McTell, Jon Gomm, Wizz Jones, Dylan LeBlanc, Chance McCoy and shared a stage and billing with many more, including Foss Patterson and Danny Thompson of John Martyn's band at venues as varied as New York's Bitter End Club, and Liverpool's Echo Arena. 

                                          STAFF COMMENTS

                                          Matt says: Whispering sweet nothings like warm treacle across a rich tapestry of English Americana; the only drinking partner you need this Autumn! Manchester's Jon Coley is an absolute joy on the ears. Debut album from this star destined for supernova status.

                                          TRACK LISTING

                                          Side A
                                          Higher Ground
                                          Sympathy For Juda
                                          Sweeter State Of Mind
                                          Can't Blame A Boy For Trying
                                          Last Words On A Caged Mocking-Bird
                                          In The Night Time 

                                          Side B
                                          Beat Up Inside
                                          Watch The World Burn
                                          You Can't Make It Rain
                                          The Easy Life
                                          Only Call Me When You're Ready
                                          Bigger Than Both Of Us
                                          Blue Eyes, Whiskey And Wine

                                          47 - Greentea Peng

                                          Man Made

                                            “Man Made” feels like the perfect statement of intent and presentation of Greentea’s world - meditative, experimental, political, medicinal, trippy, humorous, and brimming with rich and varied influences.

                                            Set against the backdrop of one of the most turbulent years in recent memory, Greentea and her band The Seng Seng Family retreated to the country last summer where the alchemy of “Man Made” took place, bringing a live element to the album, and chose to record the record in 432 Hz frequency, a pitch that falls a semitone below music industry standard, which is thought to vibrate healing energy. Executive-produced by long time collaborator Earbuds, Greentea worked with an incredible roll-call of producers; the likes of Swindle, long-standing collaborators Samo & Kiko, and Mala (part of the legendary dubstep production duo Digital Mystikz and the founder of the iconic DMZ dubstep label). The album was then mixed by the legendary Commissioner Gordon. The record seamlessly weaves genres from hip-hop to jazz, neo-soul, trip-hop, ragga, rock, dub and drum & bass, all anchored by signature sage vocals. At 18 tracks, “Man Made” is a true opus, a fluid and transportive listening experience, channelling deepest inner-thoughts and exploring different states of being, segued to be enjoyed in full. It encourages repeated revisits to fully explore the magic at work.

                                            Greentea shares her manifesto:

                                            "Man Made” an exploration of self and sound. A product of shifting paradigms both inner and outer.
                                            An ultra sonic trip. This album is an offering of healing, a provocation of Hu Man spirit soul.
                                            Out of tune with the industry and in tune with the universe, this is a 432hrz production.
                                            Deliberately detuned out of any Babylon standard! It is to be felt…like a buzzing bee, in one's chest. A vibration. A jambalaya of expression, this project fits no genre, not to be digested easily by everyone.
                                            However for those occupying the same space right now, upholding the frequency at such a transformative and challenging moment in time…I trust THIS SOUND will find you.
                                            Dedicated and inspired by the late Jimtastic, join me and my boys as we travel the Sonicsphere on the way back to centre, through the depths of apathy and the heights of interconnection through surrender…
                                            I offer you Man Made.”

                                            STAFF COMMENTS

                                            Barry says: Greentea Peng has a sound all of her own, happily sitting between the super-smooth soul of the 70's and modern hip-hop, stopping at every stop along the way. An eminently listenable and hugely enjoyable journey, enriched with crystal clean production and perfectly penned songs. A delight all round.

                                            TRACK LISTING

                                            1) Man Made
                                            2) This Sound
                                            3) Free My People Featuring Simmy And Kid Cruise
                                            4) Be Careful
                                            5) Nah It Ain’t The Same”
                                            6) Earnest
                                            7) Suffer
                                            8) Mataji Freestyle
                                            9) Kali V2
                                            10) Satta
                                            11) Party Hard
                                            12) Dingaling
                                            13) Maya
                                            14) Man Made
                                            15) Meditation
                                            16) Poor Man Skit
                                            17) Sinner
                                            18) Jimtastic Blues

                                            48 - Sufjan Stevens & Angelo De Augustine

                                            A Beginner's Mind

                                              A Beginner’s Mind began when the two musicians and Asthmatic Kitty labelmates decamped to a friend’s cabin in upstate New York for a monthlong songwriting sabbatical. Watching a movie to unwind after each day’s work, they soon found their songs reflecting the films and began investigating this connection in earnest.

                                              The resulting album is 14 songs (loosely) based on (mostly) popular films—highbrow, lowbrow and everything in between. They wrote in tandem—one person writing a verse, the other a chorus, churning out chord progressions and lyrics willy-nilly, often finishing each other’s sentences in the process. Rigorous editing and rewriting ensued. The results are less a “cinematic exegesis” and more a “rambling philosophical inquiry” that allows the songs to free-associate at will. Plot-points, scene summaries, and leading characters are often displaced by esoteric interpolations that ask the bigger question: what does it mean to be human in a broken world?

                                              Stevens and De Augustine wrote everything with a deliberate sense of shoshin—the Zen Buddhist concept for which the record is named and an idea that empowered the pair to look for and write about unlikely inspiration without preconceived notions of what a film had to say (The I-Ching and Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategies also served as incentives along the way). The movies became rhetorical prompts, with the songwriters letting their distinct reactions and creative instincts govern their process. The underlying objective was empathy and openness, absent of judgment: to observe with the eyes of a child.

                                              The album’s artwork comes courtesy of Ghanaian artist Daniel Anum Jasper. In Ghana during the late ’80s, a novel “mobile cinema” culture emerged when enterprising film fans screened Hollywood blockbusters in the backs of pick-up trucks using portable generators. To advertise the movies, artists painted alternate posters inspired only by the scant information they had about each film. Sufjan and Angelo commissioned a pioneer of this form—Jasper—to paint a series of new works for A Beginner’s Mind (including covers for three 7-inch singles). Information about the project was deliberately kept vague so that Mr. Jasper could work without restraint.

                                              Sufjan Stevens is an artist, songwriter and composer living in New York. He has released nine widely lauded studio albums and a number of collaborations with fellow musicians, choreographers and visual artists from the New York City Ballet and the celebrated director Luca Guadagnino to his stepfather Lowell Brams and noted dancer Jalaiah Harmon.

                                              Angelo De Augustine is an artist and songwriter living in Thousand Oaks, California—a suburb north of Los Angeles, where he grew up. He has released three albums including his self-released debut, Spirals of Silence (2014), and two for Asthmatic Kitty Records, Swim Inside The Moon (2017) and Tomb (2019).

                                              STAFF COMMENTS

                                              Darryl says: Beautifully combining the distinct voices and instrumental styles of both performers into an intoxicating juxtaposition of folk and tenderly plucked indie balladry. It's haunting in parts, and elsewhere wonderfully melodic, a perfect outing for both performers.

                                              TRACK LISTING

                                              1. Reach Out 3:43
                                              2. Lady Macbeth In Chains 3:42
                                              3. Back To Oz 4:25
                                              4. The Pillar Of Souls 4:04
                                              5. You Give Death A Bad Name 5:11
                                              6. Beginner’s Mind 2:36
                                              7. Olympus 3:07
                                              8. Murder And Crime 3:43
                                              9. (This Is) The Thing 3:13
                                              10. It’s Your Own Body And Mind 2:27
                                              11. Lost In The World 3:20
                                              12. Fictional California 3:03
                                              13. Cimmerian Shade 5:01
                                              14. Lacrimae 2:05

                                              49 - Du Blonde


                                                Du Blonde is back with new album ‘Homecoming’ and with it, her own record label, clothing brand and all-round art house Daemon T.V. Written, recorded and produced by Du Blonde (aka Beth Jeans Houghton), ‘Homecoming’ is a refreshing taste of pop-grunge finery, featuring guests including Shirley Manson, Ezra Furman, Andy Bell (Ride/Oasis), The Farting Suffragettes, and members of Girl Ray and Tunng among others. The album began as a few songs hashed out on a porch in LA in early 2020, and as Houghton’s desire to create something self-made and self-released merged with the then incoming pandemic. Admirers of Du Blonde’s previous two studio albums (2015’s ‘Welcome Back to Milk’ and 2019’s ‘Lung Bread for Daddy’) might be surprised to find that ‘Homecoming’ takes on the form of a pop record. The garage rock, grunge and metal guitar licks that have come to define Du Blonde are still there in spades, but as a whole the direction of the album is pop through and through.Houghton’s freak flag is still flying high however, a fact that’s no more apparent than on ‘Smoking Me Out’, a bizarre mash up of 80’s shock rock, metal and 60’s pop group harmonies. This defiant and energetic attitude can be heard throughout ‘Homecoming’, whether writing about her medication (30mg of citalopram, once a day), her queerness on 'I Can’t Help You There' (“I’ve been a queen, I’ve been a king, and still I don’t fit in”), to the joyous and manic explosion of 'Pull The Plug' (“say that I’m deranged, but I’ve been feeling more myself than ever”), Houghton is nothing if not herself, full force and unapologetic in her approach to writing, playing and recording her music.

                                                TRACK LISTING

                                                1. Pull The Plug
                                                2. Smoking Me Out
                                                3. I Can't Help You There
                                                4. Ducky Daffy
                                                5. Medicated
                                                6. I'm Glad That We Broke Up
                                                7. All The Way
                                                8. Undertaker
                                                9. Take One For The Team
                                                10.Take Me Away

                                                50 - Field Music

                                                Flat White Moon

                                                  "We want to make people feel good about things that we feel terrible about." says David Brewis, who has co-led the band Field Music with his brother Peter since 2004. It's a statement which seems particularly fitting to their latest album, Flat White Moon released via Memphis Industries.

                                                  Sporadic sessions for the album began in late 2019 at the pair's studio in Sunderland, slotted between rehearsals and touring. The initial recordings pushed a looser performance aspect to the fore, inspired by some of their very first musical loves; Free, Fleetwood Mac, Led Zeppelin and The Beatles; old tapes and LPs pilfered from their parents' shelves. But a balance between performance and construction has always been an essential part of Field Music.

                                                  By March 2020, recording had already begun for most of the album's tracks and, with touring for Making A New World winding down, Peter and David were ready to plough on and finish the record.

                                                  The playfulness that’s evident in much of Flat White Moon's music became a way to offset the darkness and the sadness of many of the lyrics. Much of the album is plainly about loss and grief, and also about the guilt and isolation which comes with that.

                                                  Those personal upheavals are apparent on songs like Out of the Frame, where the loss of a loved one is felt more deeply because they can't be found in photographs and compounded by the suspicion that you caused their absence, or on When You Last Heard From a Linda, which details the confusion of being unable to penetrate a best friend's loneliness in the darkest of circumstances.

                                                  Some songs are more impressionistic. Orion From The Streets combines Studio Ghibli, a documentary about Cary Grant and an excess of wine to become a hallucinogenic treatise on memory and guilt.. Others, such as Not When You're In Love, are more descriptive. Here, the narrator guides us through slide- projected scenes, questioning the ideas and semantics of 'love' as well the reliability of his own memory. For the most part, the album has fewer explicitly political themes than previous records, though there is No Pressure, about a political class who feel no obligation to take responsibility if they can finagle a narrative instead. And there's I'm The One Who Wants To Be With You which skirts its way around toxic masculinity through teenage renditions of soft-rock balladry.

                                                  On Flat White Moon Field Music take on the challenge of representing negative emotions in a way that doesn't dilute or obscure them but which can still uplift. The result is a generous record of bounteous musical ideas, in many ways Field Music's most immediately gratifying to date.

                                                  STAFF COMMENTS

                                                  Laura says: I'm a bit late to the Field Music party, I have to admit. Always quite liked them when I heard them, but never really got into them properly, despite people telling me I should (yes Marc Riley, you were right!)
                                                  But I thought the last album 'Making A New World' was amazing and this one is equally as good.
                                                  Flat White Moon is full of intricate, multi-layered songs. They're arty and clever (but not in an annoying smart-arse way) and they know how to write a pop song too!

                                                  TRACK LISTING

                                                  1. Orion From The Street
                                                  2. Do Me A Favour
                                                  3. Not When You're In Love
                                                  4. Out Of The Frame
                                                  5. When You Last Heard From Linda
                                                  6. No Pressure
                                                  7. In This City
                                                  8. I'm The One Who Wants To Be With You
                                                  9. Meant To Be
                                                  10. Invisible Days
                                                  11. The Curtained Room
                                                  12. You Get Better

                                                  A warm welcome back to cheeky downtempo twosome Bent, who hear offer up their first studio set for 14 years. Up in the Air is full of neat reminders that what made them so popular first time round, namely a seductive, slinky, atmospheric, sample-heavy sound that tended towards the tongue-in-cheek and was more likely to draw influence from dodgy, radio-friendly 1980s soft-rock singles and vintage easy listening than obscure Balearic beats or austere electronica. There are of course a few differences - it's far more polished than their early works, and even more musically detailed - but for the most part this is vintage Bent. Given how miserable the world is right now, it's rather nice to listen to an album that prioritises cheeriness, quirkiness and musical colour above all else.

                                                  TRACK LISTING

                                                  A1. Take 15
                                                  A2. Come On Home
                                                  B1. When You Come By
                                                  B2. Eagle & Swan
                                                  C1. A Girl Like You
                                                  C2. Misty
                                                  D1. Remove All Clocks
                                                  D2. Friends

                                                  Since their founding in 2015, Swedish post-punk band Viagra Boys have made a name for themselves burning up stages around the world. There's a little Iggy Pop spit and seethe, a David Yow drunken stumble, and a bite of Nick Cave's haunted bark. Add a dash of motorik groove, a pinch of post-punk grime, and a dose of no wave howl. For every gruff and gritty croak in the outfit's catalog, they come back with a pair of bongos, squared-off synths, and a squonky saxophone, with songs that deftly lay waste to society's normalization of toxic masculinity, racism, misogyny, classism, and self-obsession.

                                                  Viagra Boys' Sebastian Murphy dreams about everyone hating his guts. A lot. "I kept having this recurring nightmare where my mom was crying and my friends were all pissed off at me," he recalls, almost reverently.

                                                  The band's new album, Welfare Jazz, doesn't bargain with the anxiety in that defeated feeling, but rather a boiling certainty that nothing and no one is absolute. There's plenty of blame to go around, and things are just a lot more interesting when you admit that you're not always going to be nice, you're not always going to pick the right words in a fist-fight. So why not keep moving forward, swaying and strutting into the night.

                                                  TRACK LISTING

                                                  1. Ain't Nice
                                                  2. Cold Play
                                                  3. Toad
                                                  4. This Old Dog
                                                  5. Into The Sun
                                                  6. Creatures
                                                  7. 6 Shooter
                                                  8. Best In Show II
                                                  9. Secret Canine Agent
                                                  10. I Feel Alive
                                                  11. Girls & Boys
                                                  12. To The Country
                                                  13. In Spite Of Ourselves

                                                  53 - Trees Speak


                                                    This is incredibly Trees Speak’s third album on Soul Jazz Records released in the space of one year – and it’s amazing! Trees Speak’s new album Post-Human once again blends 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 New York No Wave)!

                                                    The new album Post-Human draws further upon German krautrock high-concept albums from the likes of Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze from the 1970s, as Trees Speak create their own powerful new landscapes of sound that manage to be at once contemporary as well as both timeless and with a sense of science-fiction futurism. Trees Speak’ seamlessly segue together all these musical elements into Post-Human, a conceptually expansive album which follows on from their critically-acclaimed debut LP Ohms, and the follow-up Shadow Forms released on Soul Jazz Records less than six months ago. This powerful new album is a high-concept collage of retro-futurist science-fiction music, which is fantastically illustrated by a specially commissioned cover design by the artist Eric Lee, a dramatic vision of life after humanity. 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.

                                                    With Post-Human, Trees Speak take the listener deep into their unique musical world of unknown visions of the past and the future.

                                                    STAFF COMMENTS

                                                    Barry says: Trees Speak manage to forge the most intricate, spacey German inspired electronica I've heard in a long time. With echoes of Neu and Harmonia, but with a more languid, dusty folk influence. It's a heady and intoxicating combination and PostHuman is a great development of their tried and tested formula. Really lovely stuff.

                                                    TRACK LISTING

                                                    1. Double Slit
                                                    2. Glass
                                                    3. Chamber Of Frequencies
                                                    4. Divided Light
                                                    5. Elements Of Matter
                                                    6. Magic Transistor
                                                    7. Scheinwelt
                                                    8. PostHuman
                                                    9. Synthesis
                                                    10. X Zeit
                                                    11. Incandescent Sun
                                                    12. Healing Rods
                                                    13. Steckdose
                                                    14. Amnesia Transmitter
                                                    15. Quantize Humanize
                                                    16. Gläserner Mensch

                                                    54 - Natalie Bergman


                                                      While many know Bergman as one half of brother-sister duo Wild Belle, her forthcoming record is a cathartic collection rooted in the hopeful values and traditions of gospel that have helped her through the recent, tragic loss of her father.

                                                      On the signing of Natalie Bergman, Third Man Records co-founder Ben Swank adds, “Natalie has a unique vision and has approached this album with a reverence for the sacred and healing nature of the history of this music, but has managed to update it in a way that is distinctly her own. We're very excited to welcome her to the Third Man label and family.”

                                                      Alongside her brother Elliot, the island-influenced music Natalie Bergman made in Wild Belle has led to collaborations ranging from Major Lazer to Tom Tom Club, performances at Coachella and Lollapalooza, tours with Beck, Cage The Elephant, Toro y Moi and more.

                                                      Helmed by her heavenly voice, Bergman’s solo album is steeped in mystic melodies and time-bending tones of psychedelic rock and soul. Showcasing her multi-instrumental and creative versatility, songs will be accompanied by visuals that blend her own abstract artwork, self-designed wardrobe and beyond. Stay tuned.

                                                      RIYL: Wild Belle, Haley Heynderickx, Phoebe Bridgers, Mitski, Meiko, El Perro Del Mar, Sylvan Esso, Overcoats, Weyes Blood, Sharon Van Etten, Maggie Rogers, Angel Olsen.

                                                      STAFF COMMENTS

                                                      Barry says: Bergman's music clearly leans heavily on the vocal-dominant acoustic guitar ballads of the 60's and 70's, joined with gorgeous harmonised girl-group soul aesthetic. It's a wonderfully new take on the tried and tested mellow folk vibe, and Bergman's haunting vocals fit it perfectly.

                                                      TRACK LISTING

                                                      SIDE 1
                                                      1. Talk To The Lord
                                                      2. Shine Your Light On Me
                                                      3. I Will Praise You
                                                      4. I'm Going Home
                                                      5. Home At Last
                                                      6. You Make My World Go Round

                                                      SIDE 2
                                                      1. Paint The Rain
                                                      2. The Gallows
                                                      3. Your Love Is My Shelter
                                                      4. He Will Lift You Up Higher
                                                      5. Sweet Mary
                                                      6. Last Farewell

                                                      Dinked Edition Exclusive 7"
                                                      Side A
                                                      A. Paint The Rain (Pachy Remix)
                                                      Side B
                                                      B. Paint The Rain (Dub Instrumental)

                                                      55 - Jim Noir

                                                      Deep Blue View

                                                        AM Jazz was the moment we all became truly acquainted with Alan Roberts; the melodic maestro beneath Jim Noir’s dandy exterior, whose hypnotic minimalist symphonies waltzed their way to Piccadilly Records’ #2 Best Album of 2020. Not to mention a whole host of great reviews….

                                                        No less than 12 months later arrives ‘Deep Blue View’ – not so much of a follow-up, as a mini-flipside moving the Jazz from AM to PM, between city and sea.

                                                        “I originally had AM Jazz down as walking around some New York backstreet at 4am, smoking in a fedora, looking for crimes to solve but it now ends as night begins,” reveals Al, of his latest tale’s gradual evolution. “Deep Blue View is the night-time album now… like losing yourself deeper in the fog, or disappearing in the sea… would someone, or some 'thing' come to save you or would they , or it , come along for the ride?”

                                                        Usually by now, Daveyhulme’s own could-be John Barry would have left distractions of success for suburban side-projects and writing with his fellow Mancunian musicians, but AM Jazz left unfinished business - and, with 50 or so session recordings leaving a litter of sonic debris strewn about the cutting room floor, one major clean-up. Deep Blue View is 6 brand new tracks crafted from its reconstructed and revived remnants, unfurling like Sinatra’s Wee Small Hours to reinforce the strangely beautiful atmosphere of Al’s now revered repertoire.

                                                        “I had the urge to create something new and started playing around with different EPs and pseudonyms but when I sequenced these tracks, I was really happy how smoothly they flowed; it just needed an opener. I quickly wrote ‘Deep Blue View’ and it fell into place. It’s great, so I carried on, knowing it was time to save the best stuff for myself,” Al grins.

                                                        Just as AM Jazz was created in the spirit of his earlier working style on debut album Tower of Love, Deep Blue View fuses Al’s love of finding the ‘right’ in the odd, weird, back-to-front and everything in between, with the hi-fi meets lo-fi sounds of his crate-digging curiosity and empathy for TV themes and movie soundtracks. Guided by melody, his home-based sorcery of working with analog, tape and field recordings opposed to the lure of studio mechanics allowed his inner subconscious to tap at the door and reveal itself in new musical forms. “In the studio it’s tempting to turn everything up loud but I’ve got bad tinnitus and don’t want to write anything else in a Beatles style. I have done all that now… at home I have a computer, a microphone and just go crazy and lose myself staring at the screen. Then suddenly loads of music is written.”

                                                        Setting his inner autopilot to flight mode, ‘Peppergone’ adds to the tracks’ nocturnal narrative and appears reborn after a last-minute culling from AM Jazz’s initial tracklist. Like a beautifully romantic ode to Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, it is a fitting tribute to dearly departed best friend 'Batfinks', written in the middle of a tough night. “I have no idea why or how the song came about because I was so upset to do anything, let alone record any music. But there you go. Somehow I did and it’s a really special thing. I know he would have dug me using his chords; growing up we’d both try to create the perfect chord sequence. This is his idea of that. I hope he doesn’t think it’s shit,” Al jests.

                                                        Also revived from AM Jazz’s archive is the simmering groove of ‘Night Talk Late Street’ and instrumental ‘Star Six Seven’, whilst ‘Have Another Cigar’ weaves its own semi-autobiographical fairy-tale with lyrics written and sung by long-time pal and former housemate Aidan Smith. Transformed from backing track into a cool morsel of story pop, it recalls the drunken joy of when the pair would make recordings together between singing the Everly Brothers at full volume. “I’m sure it’s about not wanting the musical party to stop and having to get on with real life,” Al says.

                                                        ‘String Beat’ meanwhile, soars like a beautiful Bond theme with the shimmer of Lee Hazlewood holidaying in Palm Springs, alongside perhaps, the waltzing string-like synthonies of some long-lost rhythm and blues orchestra of Davyhulme (whose real-life origins reside with the Berlin Symphony Orchestra), introduced to him by Super Furry Animals’ Cian Ciaran. “I’ve never created anything this moody before and have always threatened to do something John Barry-esque with some slightly dark and spooky musical changes.”

                                                        First may not be worst, but as AM Jazz has proven, second can be best and as a master of suspense Jim’s Deep Blue View arranges the day to night pieces of another puzzle that makes a whole lot of sense.

                                                        STAFF COMMENTS

                                                        Andy says: Another absolutely beautiful record. Gonna be one of my favourites of the year, I can tell already.

                                                        Barry says: Where 'A.M Jazz' wasn't particularly true to its name, 'Deep Blue View' plunges much more readily into smooth jazz waters, with swimming melodies and progressions perfectly befitting Roberts' hazy dreamlike vocal lines. A brilliantly cohesive and fitting follow-up to A.M Jazz, showing the rapid upwards trajectory of this local gem. Brilliant.

                                                        56 - DJ Format

                                                        Devil's Workshop

                                                          "Devil's Workshop" is an instrumental album that sees DJ Format going in a slightly different direction to what you might have expected. Continuing the blueprint laid down in DJ Shadow's groundbreaking early work that made it possible for a hip hop producer to create genre-defying new compositions from old records, everything you hear is painstakingly pieced together from 100% samples to give the illusion you're listening to a band assembled by David Axelrod. There's no time for stagnant, repetitive loops that leave you wondering when a rapper is going to appear, instead each song keeps building in mood and intensity by the clever use of layer upon layer of carefully chosen samples. A rich tapestry of musical instruments from keyboards, horns & guitars through to vibes, bamboo flutes & sitars paint an exciting soundscape throughout the album and make it very difficult to pigeon-hole. While it is primarily an instrumental album, Format utilises a variety of vocal samples from sources as wide ranging as '60s spoken word, '70s religious records, right up to '80s & '90s rap records, all used out of their original context to tell a new story. "Devil's Workshop" is far from a typical DJ Format record or a typical hip hop record and should be listened to with an open mind. Everyone may have different ideas as to the meaning of certain songs but as long as they make you think....and feel something...that's all that really matters.
                                                          DJ Format says:"I wanted to make an instrumental album that perfectly reflects my musical tastes in 2021. Although hip hop was my first love and definitely shaped my whole relationship with music, nowadays I mostly listen to '60s jazz, psychedelic rock and everything in between. I've travelled half way around the world in search of old records that excite & inspired me to make music of my own and I truly believe that Devil's Workshop is my best work so far, it's the culmination of everything I've learnt over a lifetime of consuming & studying music".

                                                          TRACK LISTING

                                                          1. Time To Listen
                                                          2. The Light
                                                          3. Brainstorm
                                                          4. Warm Dust
                                                          5. Peace
                                                          6. Disaster Time
                                                          7. The Curse
                                                          8. Blind Man
                                                          9. Mountains Of Madness
                                                          10. Strange Sensations

                                                          Manchester’s Space Afrika make music of overlapping moments - oblique mosaics of dialogue, rhythm, texture and shadow, half-heard through a bus window on a rainy night. "Honest Labour", the group's first full-length since 2020's landmark "hybtwibt?" (have you been through what i’ve been through?) mixtape, expands the project's palette with classical strings, shimmering guitar and visionary vocal cameos, leaning further into their enigmatic fusion of ambient unrest and cosmic downtempo. It's a sound both fogged and fragmented, at the axis of song craft and sound design, born from and for the yearning solitudes of life under lockdown.

                                                          The album title is tiered, alluding to a legendary patriarch from co-founder Joshua Inyang's Nigerian family tree (who was lovingly called Honest Labour for his loyalty and resilience) as well as the nature of self-designated work, such as Space Afrika's music – a labor of love in its truest sense. With fellow co-founder Joshua Reid recently relocated to Berlin, the pair began sharing files last Autumn, piecing together poetic vignettes of looping haze and found sound, inspired by the notion of 'records that leave an impression, and help the listener deal with their life.' As the isolation of Covid compounded with the worsening Winter, the songs skewed increasingly introspective and emotive, reflecting a mood of dissipating futures and the infinite nocturnal unknown.

                                                          The artists cite two core motivations for "Honest Labour": to transcend the sum of their influences, and 'to show what we're capable of.' Both ambitions are entirely realized. The collection's 19 tracks flow with a synergy and sophistication as rare as they are radical, untethered to the dusty dub-techno templates of Space Afrika's early years. These are interstitial anthems, expressionistic and open-ended, delirious but deliberate, attuned to the drift and dreamstate of the present moment: ‘Ultimately this is an homage to U.K. energy, and an album about love and loss.’

                                                          Conjuring up similar, claustrophobic internal release and emotions such as Burial’s “Untrue” and Hype Williams’ “Find Out What Happens When People Stop Being Polite…”; and even the brand new Joy O LP (“Still Slipping Vol. 1”), “Honest Labour” is the most intimate electronic conversation you’re going to get out of your headphones all year.

                                                          STAFF COMMENTS

                                                          Barry says: Honest Labour is an absolute masterclass in electronic atmospheres and melodic restraint, treading a fine line between ambient stillness and rich, textural sonics. A shadowy, stunningly effective distillation of all of Space Afrika's experience so far, and a brilliantly immersive listen.

                                                          TRACK LISTING

                                                          LP SIDE A
                                                          A1 Yyyyyy2222
                                                          A2 Indigo Grit Ft. Guest
                                                          A3 Lose You Beau
                                                          A4 Solemn
                                                          A5 LV
                                                          A6 Preparing The Perfect Response ~
                                                          A7 Ny Interlude
                                                          A8 Rings Ft. Guest
                                                          A9 Noise Sweet
                                                          A10 B£E Ft. Blackhaine

                                                          LP SIDE B
                                                          B1 Like Orchids
                                                          B2 Meet Me At Sachas
                                                          B3 U Ft. KinseyLloyd
                                                          B4 <>
                                                          B5 Girl Scout Cookies Ft. Bianca Scout
                                                          B6 Ladybird Drone
                                                          B7 With Your Touch
                                                          B8 Strength Ft. LA Timpa
                                                          B9 Honest Labour Ft. HforSpirit

                                                          Kevin Martin’s first solo full-length album under The Bug moniker for seven years could not be better timed, and could not be more needed: ‘Fire’ - the third exhilarating part of an incendiary urban triptych, that began with 2008’s explosive ‘London Zoo’ via 2014’s mind-melting 'Angels & Devils' - is fourteen tracks that immolate the synapses, flail the body, that cinematically take you from arcing evocations of a bleak lockdowned city-scape to swooping deep-focus close-ups of Martin and his collaborator’s psyches at breaking point. The aggression, the attitude, the vertiginous scope and subterranean incisiveness, the destabilising unsettling frenzy of The Bug sound is marshalled to perfection throughout but ‘Fire’ is no mere reanimation of the Bug’s past - for Martin, the album is both a response to the unique circumstances of the past year but also a chance to reflect his own journey from reclusive sound-obsessive to family man, and his thirst - in a period of enforced hermetic isolation - for contact, for the mayhem that can only happen between people, noise and bass, the derangement of the senses that has been Bug’s method and trajectory ever since it first crawled out of London’s deepest corners in the late 90s. It’s the Bug’s best yet, possibly the most ferociously realised and immensely moving music Martin has ever made, and still touches on those initial cravings and impulses that first propelled ‘London Zoo’ into your world like a pipe bomb through your letterbox. It’s a HUNGRY record in all senses.

                                                          “I've always been addicted to the physicality and intensity of sound: I started The Bug because I wanted to make music for a soundsystem I had in storage, and the live experience of The Bug has always been something I wanted to reflect on record - I’m always looking for fuel to the fire and live shows - and MISSING live shows in lockdown was a real impetus” Martin admits. “I’m always asking - how can I ramp this up MORE? How can I get people more out of control? For me a live show should be unforgettable, should alter your DNA, or scar you for life in a good way - that’s always been my goal, to set up shows that are unforgettable. I like friction, chaos, fanning the flames with sound, and this album is the most reflective of the live show in terms of intensity and the sheer fuck-off attitude of those shows. ‘WHAT the FUCK?’ is the reaction I want - insane is a good reaction especially at a time when there’s so much control in how people consume music and are pacified culturally”.

                                                          The MCs featured (longtime likeminds like Flowdan, Roger Robinson, Moor Mother, Manga Saint Hilare, Irah & Daddy Freddy alongside relatively new names to the Bug stable like Logan, Nazamba and FFSYTHO) inevitably reflect the external madness of a world turned upside down, but also dig deep into themselves to craft reflective, pitilessly honest portrayals of the rage, resistance and resignation the last year has engendered in all of us. Check the juddering maelstrom of ‘Clash’ wherein Logan matches every lunging hit of the kick and Martin’s none-more-dank dubtronics with a diseased narrative of mental warfare and strife, or ‘Pressure’ where Flowdan imperiously calls out the universe for a scrap over a beat so thunkingly rapacious its as if the ghost of Andy Weatherall has been reanimated for some rerubbing duties. Throughout ‘Fire’ you can hear MCs and Martin upping the ante, pushed to new heights and lows by an ever-present, periphirally-glimpsed armageddon. The album is bookended by the TS Eliot Award winning poet and long term friend and collaborator Roger Robinson.

                                                          “2020 was the worst dystopian nightmares made real - part of me was panic-stricken, the other part of me was ‘how am I going to stay sane?’” recalls Martin. “I’ve got to support 4 people and it might be YEARS before I play shows - this was at the back of my mind making the album. Just to keep calm I got into making solo albums which was meditative, got me back in touch with myself and enabled me to rebuild my studio which kept me working and helped me keep my head straight. It was crucial because I’ve realised through life that what keeps me grounded is music. I used to think I wanted to bury myself in NOW, reality, sensation, information - as time’s gone on I’ve realised I want to actually make a parallel world in sound - the studio gave me an escape from just how fucked up the world was last year. That feeling of external chaos but really questioning yourself internally is something that all the MCs, in different ways, reflect on ‘Fire’. And I feel I’ve grown - making music not just as an egotistical pursuit but to support my family has meant I’ve stopped overthinking things - we KNEW when tracks were finished and loosening my maniacal control over the music, letting it breathe and come together more naturally. That’s something I think you can hear throughout the album.”

                                                          ‘Fire’ then is 14 tracks that not only chart where we are right now, but offer tantalising glimpses of just what miracles we might soon conjure again together. Growing up VAST. Get some ‘Fire’ in your belly and feel the BURN. This plague has found its soundtrack. 

                                                          STAFF COMMENTS

                                                          Barry says: Having long been one of the most uncompromising forces in music, there is a significant amount of excitement over the new Bug LP. and with good cause. 'Fire' lurches from cavernous bunker techno to shadowy trip-hop via dark hip-hop, perfectly performed by a superb line-up of guest collaborators, and brought together in The Bug's inimitable no-holds-barred production style. Superb.

                                                          TRACK LISTING

                                                          Side 1
                                                          1. The Fourth Day (feat Roger Robinson) (1:57)
                                                          2. Pressure (feat Flowdan) (3:48)
                                                          3. Demon (feat Irah) (3:48)
                                                          4. Vexed (feat Moor Mother) (3:44)

                                                          Side 2
                                                          1. Clash (feat Logan) (3:07)
                                                          2. War (feat Nazamba) (4:30)
                                                          3. How Bout Dat (feat FFSYTHO) (3:47)

                                                          Side 3
                                                          1. Bang (feat Manga Saint Hilare) (3:03)
                                                          2. Hammer (feat Flowdan) (3:28)
                                                          3. Ganja Baby (feat Daddy Freddy) (3:15)
                                                          4. Fuck Off (feat Logan) (3:24)

                                                          Side 4
                                                          1.Bomb (feat Flowdan) (4:46)
                                                          2. High Rise (feat Manga Saint Hilare) (4:17)
                                                          3.The Missing (feat Roger Robinson) (4:35)

                                                          59 - Eddie Chacon

                                                          Pleasure, Joy And Happiness

                                                            In the words of Mac DeMarco: “Eddie Chacon is planet earth’s number one musician. Yesterday, today, and forever.”

                                                            "'The soulful singer had a worldwide hit with 1992’s Would I Lie to You, but he was dropped and his musical partner died. Now, he has poured his pain into a cathartic comeback album''

                                                            Eddie Chacon experienced proper, peak-nineties acclaim in the soul duo Charles and Eddie: they scored a global No. 1 in 1992 with “Would I Lie To You,” appeared three times on Top of the Pops, and featured on soundtracks from True Romance to Super Mario Bros..

                                                            Produced by John Carroll Kirby, the like-minded artist and collaborator with Frank Ocean and Solange Knowles, it features restrained percussion from Kanye West’s Sunday Service drummer Lamar Carter. Celestial soul as a break from chaos, these are quietly challenging songs as timeless as they are contemporary.

                                                            By that time, Chacon had already been navigating music in interesting ways, all the way back to his teen garage rock band with the late Cliff Burton (Metallica) and Mike Bordin (Faith No More). In the late ’80s, he released a full-length on Uncle Luke from 2 Live Crew’s label and signed to Columbia as a solo act. He was a working artist, always popping up in unexpected places: through the course of his career, Chacon would write, sing, or produce ten Top 40 hits around the globe.

                                                            Years ago, Chacon retired from music for a second calling as a fashion photographer and creative director. In an interview at the time, he said, “I was fortunate to have a 35-year music career and felt that there wasn’t that much more for me to say or achieve.” Very thankfully, that’s no longer the case. Private experiments, far from the major-label center he once frequented, began to feel urgent and new. “There’s nothing more exciting for me than getting to start from the beginning again,” he says today.

                                                            “Pleasure, Joy and Happiness” will be available on the boutique Los Angeles-based label Day End Records. This is a thoughtfully considered album of quiet, confident R&B: it doesn’t jump out at you, but rather gets in you.

                                                            Produced by John Carroll Kirby, the like-minded artist and collaborator with Frank Ocean and Solange Knowles, it features restrained percussion from Kanye West’s Sunday Service drummer Lamar Carter. Celestial soul as a break from chaos, these are quietly challenging songs as timeless as they are contemporary.

                                                            “What a rare and cool challenge it was for me to help Eddie re-emerge after a long hiatus,” says John Carroll Kirby. “I was excited to produce a record for him that captured the chill, laid-back wisdom and easy vocal mastery he has that you don’t see that much these days.”

                                                            Lead single “My Mind Is Out of Its Mind” finds a deep groove to try and contain spiraling heartbreak, while the sweet and wobbly “Trouble” balances the delightful near whisper of the title track “Pleasure, Joy and Happiness.” But even the project’s lightest moments feel sincere and mature. Altogether: a truly unifying release, coming from a man who’s earned the right to share such a regal, romantic sound.

                                                            “I used to think to myself,” Chacon says, “if I ever make a record again, I’d want it to be a record you’d have to be my age to make.”

                                                            TRACK LISTING

                                                            A1. Trouble
                                                            A2. Hurt
                                                            A3. Outside
                                                            A4. My Mind Is Out Of It's Mind
                                                            B1. Pleasure Joy & Happiness
                                                            B2. Papa
                                                            B3. Wicked World
                                                            B4. Above Below

                                                            60 - Arab Strap

                                                            As Days Get Dark

                                                              “It's about hopelessness and darkness,” says Aidan Moffat. “But in a fun way.” The Arab Strap frontman is speaking about the band’s 7th studio album and their first since 2005’s The Last Romance. The band's exciting return saw the much lauded "The Turning of Our Bones" single achieve Record of the Week on Jo Whiley's BBC Radio 2 show and hit the B-list at BB6Music. The new album will appeal to longtime fans and pick up new ones who weren't ready for Arab Strap first time round!

                                                              STAFF COMMENTS

                                                              Barry says: It's hard to believe it's been 16 years since the great Arab Strap hit us with a full LP. Sure we've had Moffat's decidedly excellent solo work but there's something to be said for the superb, ironic and cleverly written melodies and singeable hooks that only Arab Strap can bring. Brilliantly listenable and perfectly timed.

                                                              TRACK LISTING

                                                              1 The Turning Of Our Bones
                                                              2 Another Clockwork Day
                                                              3 Compersion Pt. 1
                                                              4 Bluebird
                                                              5 Kebabylon
                                                              6 Tears On Tour
                                                              7 Here Comes Comus!
                                                              8 Fable Of The Urban Fox
                                                              9 I Was Once A Weak Man
                                                              10 Sleeper
                                                              11 Just Enough 

                                                              Sons of Kemet returns in 2021 with their new album Black To The Future. The follow up to 2018’s Mercury Prize nominated breakout release Your Queen Is A Reptile. This is their 4th record, and 2nd on impulse! Compared with ”Your Queen is a Reptile”, this album has featured vocalists and more of an emphasis on fuller compositions and arrangements. Guest artists include Kojey Radical, Moor Mother, Angel Bat Dawid, Joshua Idehen, D Double E.

                                                              STAFF COMMENTS

                                                              Millie says: Oooft! Just what was lacking from this year, Sons of Kemet delivering the goods with 'Black To The Future'. Featuring vocals on this album adds an extra something special, definitely a firm favourite of mine for 2021.

                                                              TRACK LISTING

                                                              1. Field Negus Feat. Joshua Idehen
                                                              2. Pick Up Your Burning Cross Feat. Moor Mother, Angel Bat Dawid
                                                              3. Think Of Home
                                                              4. Hustle Feat. Kojey Radical
                                                              5. For The Culture Feat. D Double E
                                                              6. To Never Forget The Source
                                                              7. In Remembrance Of Those Fallen
                                                              8. Let The Circle Be Unbroken
                                                              9. Envision Yourself Levitating
                                                              10. Throughout The Madness, Stay Strong
                                                              11. Black Feat. Joshua Idehen

                                                              62 - The Coral

                                                              Coral Island

                                                                The wheels rattle into the thrilling unknown on The Coral’s first new music since 2018, finding the unsurpassed, metamorphic gonzo-pop five-piece in the company of crooks, sell-by-date candyfloss and plastic skeletons as they release Faceless Angel. Of misplaced memories from a place and time that might never have been, the track precedes a new and vividly evocative body of work from the legendary Merseyside band in the form of their TENTH and first, ever double-album: Coral Island.

                                                                Squinting into the neon-lit penny arcades and draining an after hours glass with the displaced and dispossessed once the power is pulled, The Coral’s latest caper concerns listeners with the light, shade, thrills and profound melancholy of coastal palaces packed with fun and fright. Both now and then, or perhaps never as fiction encroaches on reality, the feverous anticipation of a night amongst the screams, fights and romance of the fair become part of life on the newly-built Coral Island.

                                                                Welcoming travellers one trepidous step at a time, Faceless Angel sits amongst a series of promised audio visual portraits of and inspired by the Island’s inhabitants. Conceived and created by artist, Edwin Burdis, the single’s video was filmed ‘on’ Coral Island itself, a sprawling diorama purpose-built inside a deserted Chinese restaurant in Cardiff. It’s the band and fans’ first venture onto the surreal land mass, populated by surreal sculptural forms, charity shop-finds, looming mountains and gathering storm clouds. Filmed in debt to the traditional model-based filmmaking methods of greats like George Lucas or Ray Harryhausen, Burdis navigated Coral Island at waist-height and via camera-friendly pathways to gather 360 degree footage from inside and outside his and The Coral’s fascinating, fabricated world. The expansive and ambitious installation also provides the album artwork for Coral Island as well as designs for Faceless Angel and future singles.

                                                                Indebted in part to the classic pre-Beatles rock and roll era of Duane Eddy and Chuck Berry alongside the clattering of a weary ghost train’s rusted wheels on worn steel, Faceless Angel’s title evokes DC Comics ominous occult detective series, Hellblazer and the broken character of the strip’s protagonist, John Constantine.

                                                                Almost 19 years after the release of their celebrated, self-titled, Mercury Music Prize-nominated, platinum-certified debut in 2002, kick-starting a decade of classic singles, including Dreaming Of You (now on over 100 million streams globally and gaining UK Platinum status), Pass It On, Don’t Think You’re The First and In The Morning, The Coral move into 2021 as in thrall to the self-endowed gift of creative freedom as they were on day one. The band has sold over a million albums to date.

                                                                Of their nine albums to date, the last of which, Move Through The Dawn, was released in 2018, five have reached the Top 10 including 2003’s chart-topping Gold-selling Magic and Medicine which saw the band nominated for Best Group at the Brit Awards. Never anything other than wilfully idosyncratic and critically-praised, the follow-up, The Invisible Invasion reached No.3 in the UK Albums Chart and joins it’s predecessor in being certified Gold.

                                                                Recorded in a sense of barely-controlled, copy and paste chaos at Parr Street Studios in Liverpool, Coral Island was written and performed by the multi-instrumentalist and multi-talented line-up of James Skelly, Ian Skelly, Nick Power, Paul Duffy and Paul Molloy plus a special guest.

                                                                STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                Barry says: There's no doubt from the first notes that this is The Coral. From the perfectly manicured harmonies and wonderfully resplendent guitar tones, this shimmers with everything that made us love them in the first place. Without a doubt one of my favourite things to have come out of the Wirral since Andy McQ.

                                                                TRACK LISTING

                                                                Side A
                                                                1 Welcome To Coral Island
                                                                2 Lover Undiscovered
                                                                3 Change Your Mind
                                                                4 Mist On The River
                                                                5 Pavillions Of The Mind
                                                                6 Vacancy

                                                                Side B
                                                                7 My Best Friend
                                                                8 Arcade Hallucinations
                                                                9 The Game She Play
                                                                10 Autumn Has Come
                                                                11 The End Of The Pier

                                                                Side C
                                                                12 The Ghost Of Coral Island
                                                                13 Golden Age
                                                                14 Faceless Angel
                                                                15 The Great Lafayette
                                                                16 Strange Illusions
                                                                17 Summertime

                                                                Side D
                                                                18 Telepathic Waltz
                                                                19 Old Photographs
                                                                20 Watch You Disappear
                                                                21 Late Nights At The Borders
                                                                22 Land Of The Lost
                                                                23 The Calico Girl
                                                                24 The Last Entertainer

                                                                63 - Jorja Smith

                                                                Be Right Back

                                                                Jorja Smith returns to announce a new 8-track project, the first body of work from Jorja since her 2019 critically-acclaimed, Mercury Prize nominated debut album 'Lost & Found', for which she won her second BRIT Award for 'Best Female' and earned herself a nomination for 'New Artist' at the GRAMMY Awards.

                                                                The project finds Jorja delivering some of the most emotive and imaginative songs of her career. Over string-heavy production, she unveils a collection of songs that are diverse in their range but still extremely cohesive as a body of work - "It's called be right back because it's just something I want my fans to have right now, this isn't an album and these songs wouldn't have made it. If I needed to make these songs, then someone needs to hear them too." - Jorja says of the project.

                                                                To coincide with the announcement, Jorja is sharing new single 'Gone.' Highly anticipated, Smith states that "There's something about being able to write about one thing and for it to mean so many different things to others. I love that this song, well any of my songs really, will be interpreted in different ways, depending on the experiences of the people listening. This one is just me asking why people have to be taken from us."

                                                                'Gone' follows in the footsteps of Jorja's stunning March release 'Addicted', which also appears on 'Be Right Back', alongside 6 additional unheard tracks including a feature from rising South London rapper, Shaybo on track 3, 'Bussdown'.

                                                                Over the past three years, Smith has been celebrated unanimously across the world for her evocative song-writing, powerful delivery, pure emotion and unbridled talent as a young woman navigating her way through the world. Smith has graced multiple magazine covers, performed at awards ceremonies and on late night TV, and sold out shows across the globe, now surpassing over one billion global streams. Her 2019 hit single 'Be Honest' featuring Burna Boy has become her biggest song to date at almost 250M streams worldwide.

                                                                TRACK LISTING

                                                                1. Addicted
                                                                2. Gone
                                                                3. Bussdown (feat. Shaybo)
                                                                4. Time
                                                                5. Home
                                                                6. Burn
                                                                7. Digging
                                                                8. Weekend

                                                                64 - Altin Gün


                                                                  The Amsterdam band Altin Gün return with a masterful third album Yol (Road), that widens their critically acclaimed exploration of Anatolian rock and Turkish psychedelic stylings to include dreamy 80’s synth-pop and dancefloor excursions. After their 2019 GRAMMY nominated album Gece, Yol (Road) brings together all vectors of the Altin Gün experience and delivers their most compelling and individual album to date.

                                                                  TRACK LISTING

                                                                  1. Bahcada Yesil Cinar
                                                                  2. Ordunun Dereleri
                                                                  3. Bulunur Mu
                                                                  4. Hey Nari
                                                                  5. Yüce Dag Basinda
                                                                  6. Kesik Cayir
                                                                  1. Arda Boylari
                                                                  2. Kara Toprak
                                                                  3. Sevda Olmasaydi
                                                                  4. Macka Yollari
                                                                  5. Yekte
                                                                  6. Esmerim Güzelim

                                                                  65 - The Black Keys

                                                                  Delta Kream

                                                                    The Black Keys release their tenth studio album, Delta Kream, via Nonesuch Records. The record celebrates the band’s roots, featuring eleven Mississippi hill country blues standards that they have loved since they were teenagers, before they were a band, including songs by R. L. Burnside and Junior Kimbrough, among others. Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney recorded Delta Kream at Auerbach’s Easy Eye Sound studio in Nashville; they were joined by musicians Kenny Brown and Eric Deaton, long-time members of the bands of blues legends including R. L. Burnside and Junior Kimbrough. The album takes its name from William Eggleston’s iconic Mississippi photograph that is on its cover.

                                                                    Auerbach says of the album, “We made this record to honor the Mississippi hill country blues tradition that influenced us starting out. These songs are still as important to us today as they were the first day Pat and I started playing together and picked up our instruments. It was a very inspiring session with Pat and me along with Kenny Brown and Eric Deaton in a circle, playing these songs. It felt so natural.”

                                                                    Auerbach says of Delta Kream’s first single ‘Crawling Kingsnake’: “I first heard [John Lee] Hooker’s version in high school. My uncle Tim would have given me that record. But our version is definitely Junior Kimbrough’s take on it. It’s almost a disco riff!” Carney adds, "We fell into this drum intro; it's kind of accidental. The ultimate goal was to highlight the interplay between the guitars. My role with Eric was to create a deeper groove."

                                                                    The music from northern Mississippi, which came to life in juke joints, has long left an imprint on the band’s music, from their cover of R.L. Burnide’s ‘Busted’ and Junior Kimbrough’s ‘Do The Romp’ on their debut album, The Big Come Up; to their subsequent signing to Fat Possum Records, home to many of their musical heroes; and to their EP of Junior Kimbrough covers, Chulahoma.

                                                                    TRACK LISTING

                                                                    1. Crawling Kingsnake
                                                                    2. Louise
                                                                    3. Poor Boy A Long Way From Home
                                                                    4. Stay All Night
                                                                    5. Going Down South
                                                                    6. Coal Black Mattie
                                                                    7. Do The Romp
                                                                    8. Sad Days, Lonely Nights
                                                                    9. Walk With Me
                                                                    10. Mellow Peaches
                                                                    11. Come On And Go With Me

                                                                    66 - Cassandra Jenkins

                                                                    An Overview On Phenomenal Nature

                                                                      “Nothing ever really disappears,” Cassandra Jenkins says. “It just changes shape.” Over the past few years, she’s seen relationships altered, travelled three continents, wandered through museums and parks, and recorded free-associative guided tours of her New York haunts. Her observations capture the humanity and nature around her, as well as thought patterns, memories, and attempts to be present while dealing with pain and loss. With a singular voice, Jenkins siphons these ideas into the ambient folk of her new album.
                                                                      An Overview on Phenomenal Nature honors flux, detail, and moments of intimacy. Jenkins arrived at engineer Josh Kaufman’s studio with ideas rather than full songs — nevertheless, they finished the album in a week. Jenkins’ voice floats amid sensuous chamber pop arrangements and raw-edged drums, ferrying us through impressionistic portraits of friends and strangers. Her lyrics unfold magical worlds, introducing you to a cast of characters like a local fisherman, a psychic at a birthday party, and driving instructor of a spiritual bent.

                                                                      Jenkins’ last record, 2017’s Play Till You Win, confirmed the veteran artist’s talent. Evident of Jenkins’ experience growing up in a family band in New York City, the album showcased her meticulous songwriting and musicianship, earning her comparisons to George Harrison and Emmylou Harris. Jenkins has since played in the bands of Eleanor Friedberger, Craig Finn, and Lola Kirke, and rehearsed to tour with Purple Mountains last August before the tour’s cancellation. Her new record departs from her previous work in its openness and flexibility, following her peripatetic lifestyle. “The goal is to be more fluid, to be more like the clouds shifting constantly,” she says. The approach allowed Jenkins to express herself like she never has.

                                                                      On album opener “Michaelangelo,” before the heavy drum beat and fuzz guitars enter, Jenkins sings quietly “I’m a three-legged dog, working with what I’ve got / and part of me will always be looking for what I lost // there’s a fly around my head, waiting for the day I drop dead.” Phenomenal Nature thrives in this dichotomy between ornate sonics and verbal frankness, a calming guided tour to the edge. Later, on “Crosshairs,” amid lush strings, she sings conversationally: “Empty space is my escape / it runs through me like a river / while time spits in my face.”

                                                                      “Hard Drive,” the third track and album centerpiece, opens with a voice memo Jenkins recorded at The Met Breuer: a guard muses about Mrinalini Mukherjee’s hybrid textile and sculpture works, which were then on display in a retrospective titled Phenomenal Nature. “When we lose our connection to nature, we lose our spirit, our humanity,” she explains. Stuart Bogie's saxophone & Josh Kaufman's glittering guitar make way for Jenkins' spoken word which constellates scenes from her life, gradually building and blossoming as she recreates a meditation guided by a friend who incants, “One, two, three.”

                                                                      Sounds of footsteps and bird calls run through the album’s glittering conclusion, “The Ramble.” Meditative and bright, it recalls how Jenkins felt while writing and recording her new material: “Everything else is falling apart, so let’s just enjoy this time,” she said. If Phenomenal Nature has a unifying theme, it’s the power of presence, the joy of walking in a world in constant flux and opening oneself to change.

                                                                      TRACK LISTING

                                                                      1. Michaelangelo
                                                                      2. New Bikini
                                                                      3. Hard Drive
                                                                      4. Crosshairs
                                                                      5. Amibiguous Norway
                                                                      6. Hailey
                                                                      7. The Ramble

                                                                      67 - Iceage

                                                                      Seek Shelter

                                                                        With each new release, Elias Bender Rønnenfelt, Jakob Tvilling Pless, Johan Surrballe Wieth and Dan Kjær Nielsen refigure the contours of a typical Iceage song. This is especially true of Seek Shelter, their fifth LP and first for Mexican Summer. Enrolling Sonic Boom (Pete Kember of Spacemen 3) to produce the record and an additional guitarist in the form of Casper Morilla Fernandez, Seek Shelter sees Iceage’s propulsive momentum pushing them in new, expansive, ecstatic directions. A decade on from their first record, Iceage continue to harness their lives together through music. This journey, in music and life, has never progressed in a linear fashion.

                                                                        Seek Shelter is the sound of a tight emotional core unwound. Rain dripped through cracks in the ceiling of Namouche, the dilapidated wood-panelled Lisbon radio studio of a 1960s vintage where the band set up for 12 days. The band had to arrange their equipment around puddles. Pieces of cloth covered slowly filling buckets so that the sound of raindrops wouldn’t reach the microphones. Kember arranged garden lamps from a nearby party store for mood lighting in the high-ceiling space. It was the longest time Iceage have ever spent making an album. When the rain had stopped, Seek Shelter revealed itself as a collection of songs radiating warmth and a profound desire for salvation in a world that’s spinning further and further out of control.

                                                                        Iceage started making music together in 2008 as young teens in their hometown of Copenhagen. The band’s 2011 debut New Brigade, crystallized the raucous energy and unbreakable brotherhood of Danish teenagers weaned on post-punk, hardcore and no wave, and it found ears and kin around the world. 2012’s You’re Nothing was hard, fast and raw, a bold doubling-down on the aggression of youth in the first record as well as the weight of expectation. Plowing Into the Field of Love (2014) and Beyondless (2018) saw a softening of the band’s hardest edges and the arrival of a certain world-weary vaudeville in the Iceage sound. In an extraordinary and unexpected run, the band had gone from the fertile hyperlocal Copenhagen scene to stages all over the world. Iceage’s past two records — all filtered twangy guitar riffs, sparse piano arrangements, and slinky, slow-moving rhythms — ventured into an intoxicated but knowing swirl, surveying the party at the end of the night. They’d seen it all, at least once, and their music rode the crest of that chaos.

                                                                        Seek Shelter, the band’s first record made with an outside producer brought in alongside longtime collaborator Nis Bysted, is the place they have been called to next. Elias Bender Rønnenfelt casts the influence of producer Sonic Boom as that of a sparring partner, another wayward mind to bounce ideas off of and another pair of hands (along with Shawn Everett, who mixed the record) to help shape the sound. Kember had said in an interview that he’d like to produce for the band, and the feeling was mutual. Rønnenfelt recalls being 12 or 13, listening to Spacemen 3, the band Kember co-founded in 1982 at the age of 16. “It was one of those things that just reverberated with my being,” he explains. For Seek Shelter, “we wanted a partner that had some noise that we didn’t have, more a wizard than a producer. We thought he’d be that kind of wizard for us, and we were right — he came in with a truckload of strange equipment that we’d never seen before.” Kember, reflecting on the session and reaching for his highest praise, describes Iceage as “fucking show offs, like everyone who was ever great and emotional and honest.”

                                                                        For Seek Shelter’s story of scorched-earth salvation, the band’s songwriting embraces conventional structures more conspicuously than it has in the past. The dirge-like drone that opens the record gives way to a wall of reverb that sounds fuller and brighter than anything they've committed to tape, signalling a clarity of clouds breaking. American gospel and blues signatures break to the front of the slow-grooving “Vendetta” and harmonica-flecked “Gold City,” a record which sounds like the road, a desert mission under a blazing sun. The Lisboa Gospel Collective, who joined the band for two tracks on the final day in the studio, provide a new scale to Rønnenfelt’s incantations. There are moments of unvarnished romanticism, as on the brisk Jacques Brel-like “Drink Rain,” and an overcast tenderness that gently glides over “Love Kills Slowly.” The massive “High & Hurt” interpolates “Will the Circle Be Unbroken,” a warhorse of the American religious vernacular that has become an increasingly urgent plea over the past century. It’s not the only anthem that calls out to the heavens: later on, Rønnenfelt invokes the patron saint of music and poetry on “Dear Saint Cecilia,” a song for seekers everywhere. “Writing a song is like trying to find a space where you can make something that’s been riled up and down through the years feel like it belongs to your present moment,” says Rønnenfelt. “It’s all just scaffolding that you can project something onto.”

                                                                        Rønnenfelt’s lyricism reaches grand heights despite its classic opacity — he sings of taking shelter, of tranquil affections that threaten to combust, and of a limp-wristed god with a cavalcade of devotees in search of relief. His expressionist imagery consistently hinges on the divine, a natural result of his desire to take a kernel of ordinary emotion and, as he explains, “blow it up like a balloon.” For Seek Shelter, as with all Iceage’s previous albums, Rønnenfelt stowed away for a set period of weeks and wrote the lyrics in one shot. “I set a time just to make sure that all the lyrics are written from the same mindset,” he explains of these weeks alone. The lyrics stem from journals that he’s kept over the past few years: “it becomes an amalgamation of ideas and impressions of things that you’ve been provoked by or had to live through. You end up with something that is a rough, blurry perspective of what that period of time was like, a mishmash of personal struggle that is shaded throughout by a world that seems more transparent in its inherently cruel ways.” Romance and desire, as described in “Love Kills Slowly” and the album closer “The Holding Hand,” are feelings that stretch torturously — a race without a finish line.

                                                                        What precisely makes an Iceage song is still a mysterious thing, and the band wishes to maintain this protean quality. “If there’s ever a point in our history when something in the songs starts to seem easy but doesn’t really excite us that much, we just discard that shit right away,” he says. “You’ve always got to find a new vantage point to attack the assignment of writing a song. If we had a formula, it would be just a continuous watering down of what we do until we hated ourselves and quit.” With Seek Shelter, they’ve managed to hold onto this core of presence and risk while writing their most ambitious songs. Even Rønnenfelt was surprised with what they were able to create together. “I think when we started we were just lashing out completely blindfolded with no idea as to why we were doing anything.” He’s speaking of the new record and also of their entire existence as a band, a travelogue that has catapulted these four friends far past the horizons of punk. “Some of that we wanted to remain intact. We try to keep the mystery. If there's no sense of mystery in it for us, then it's not fun.” Seek Shelter is a record that now exists at a moment of a collective unknown, when every beating heart wonders what will happens next.

                                                                        STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                        Barry says: There's an indescribable flow to Iceage's music, pulling in influence from classic rock, a sort of country swing and distorted melodicism you don't hear that much nowadays. In a way, it harks back to the heyday of 90's indie, full of energy and power-chord groove, but with a much more nuanced lilt. It's clever and confounding and endlessly replayable.

                                                                        TRACK LISTING

                                                                        Side A
                                                                        1. Shelter Song
                                                                        2. High & Hurt
                                                                        3. Love Kills Slowly
                                                                        4. Vendetta
                                                                        5. Drink Rain

                                                                        Side B
                                                                        6. Gold City
                                                                        7. Dear Saint Cecilia
                                                                        8. The Wider Powder Blue
                                                                        9. The Holding Hand

                                                                        Cleo Sol has returned with her new project titled ‘Mother’, produced by her longtime collaborator Inflo. The 12-track offering, which includes a few hidden tracks, was inspired by Sol’s journey into motherhood.

                                                                        ‘Mother’ is a beautiful soulful album that bares all, a paired down softness to her music accentuates her stunning vocals. It offers a healing energy, full of emotion and elevated optimism, it’s hit just the right spot and what was lacking from this year.

                                                                        ‘Don’t Let Me Fall’, the opening track sets the tone for the album, tender and harrowing in the most beautiful sense. Her vocals are really highlighted by the stripped back neo-soul background, letting her voice shine throughout. The love, optimism and wisdom weaved within this song is truly stunning. ‘Promises’ holds the same powerful energy, a subtle catchy chorus drenched in good vibes, proving difficult not to sing along to.

                                                                        Another gem, ‘Sunshine’ is a breath of fresh air, a more funk-inspired melody with uplifting compelling lyrics, it embodies what Cleo Sol does best, meaningful messages and the freshest soul around for miles. Love love love this.

                                                                        STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                        Barry says: Cleo Sol's last LP was a beautiful outing and showed her as one of the finest voices in modern soul. This one sees her taking things down a notch, losing the more effervescent groove in favour of a swooning, restful suite of slow melodies and loungy swing. A stunning follow-up and a perfect display of the other side of her considerable talents.

                                                                        TRACK LISTING

                                                                        Don’t Let Me Fall
                                                                        Heart Full Of Love
                                                                        Build Me Up
                                                                        We Need You
                                                                        Don’t Let It Go To Your Head
                                                                        One Day
                                                                        Know That You Are Loved

                                                                        69 - John Grant

                                                                        Boy From Michigan

                                                                          Produced by longtime friend Cate Le Bon, ‘Boy from Michigan’ is Grant’s most autobiographical and melodic work to date. Grant stopped being a boy in Michigan aged twelve, when his family moved to Denver, Colorado, shifting rust to bible belt, a further vantage point to watch collective dreams unravel. Across 12 tracks, Grant lays out his past for careful cross-examination. In a decade of making records by himself, he has playfully experimented with mood, texture and sound, all the better for actualizing the seriousness of his thoughts. At one end of his musical rainbow, he is the battle-scarred piano-man, at the other, a robust electronic auteur. ‘Boy from Michigan’ seamlessly marries both.

                                                                          With Le Bon at the helm, Grant pared back his zingers, maximizing the emotional impact of the melodies. A clarinet forms the bedrock of a song. One pre-chorus feels lifted from vintage Human League. There is a saxophone solo. ‘Boy from Michigan’ ultimately swings between ambient and progressive, calm and livid. The album’s narrative journey opens with Grant at his artistic prettiest, three songs drawn from his pre-Denver life (the Michigan Trilogy, as Grant calls them): the title track, “The Rusty Bull,” and “County Fair.” Each draws the listener in to a specific sense of place, before untangling its significance with a rich cast-list of local characters, often symbolizing the uncultivated faith of childhood.

                                                                          Elsewhere, tracks like “Mike and Julie” and “The Cruise Room” offer an affecting plunge deep into Grant’s late teenage years in Denver, while the midpoint of the album is highlighted by “Best in Me” and “Rhetorical Figure,” a pair of skittish, scholarly dance tunes that build on the lineage of Grant’s electropop heroes, Devo. Childhood as a horror narrative is the theme of “Dandy Star,” which observes a tiny Grant watching the Mia Farrow horror movie ‘See No Evil’ on an old family TV set, and finally on “The Only Baby” (released this January) Grant removes his razor blade from a pocket to cleanly slit the throat of Trump’s America, authoring a scathing epitaph to an era of acute national exposition.

                                                                          Though he has lived in Iceland since 2011 – the same year he was also diagnosed HIV-positive – Grant spent his childhood and formative years in the US and maintains US citizenship. Growing up, Grant was subjected to a deeply ingrained hatred of anyone perceived as homosexual at school. Following the demise of his first band The Czars, Grant left music entirely for over five years, only to achieve greater success as a solo artist (his acclaimed 2015 solo LP ‘Grey Tickles, Black Pressure’ went Top Five in the UK). Grant has sold out Royal Albert Hall, performed at Glastonbury, Latitude + more, and his song “Snug Snacks” was featured on Pitchfork's 'Songs That Define LGBTQ Pride'. BBC Radio 6 host Mary Anne Hobbs described Grant’s music: "Most songwriting, even if it's based on a true story ... is embellished in some way. But John's lyrics — they're so true they might as well be written in blood."


                                                                          *** NPN - email mail@piccadillyrecords.com before 25 June 21 to be entered in the draw 


                                                                          STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                          Barry says: Absolutely classic modern day John Grant this, filled with the wry self-deprecation and endlessly witty lyricism of Queen Of Denmark / Pale Green Ghosts era but swimming with the shimmering disco synths and snapping electronic groove of the more recent LP's. It's a PERFECT mix and is quite possibly his strongest outing to date. Another outstanding LP from this Piccadilly favourite.

                                                                          TRACK LISTING

                                                                          1. Boy From Michigan
                                                                          2. County Fair
                                                                          3. The Rusty Bull
                                                                          4. The Cruise Room
                                                                          5. Mike And Julie
                                                                          6. Best In Me
                                                                          7. Rhetorical Figure
                                                                          8. Just So You Know
                                                                          9. Dandy Star
                                                                          10. Your Portfolio
                                                                          11. The Only Baby
                                                                          12. Billy

                                                                          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

                                                                          Barry 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. Exactly as gorgeous as you would expect.

                                                                          TRACK LISTING

                                                                          A1. Grand Finale
                                                                          A2. Martin 5000
                                                                          A3. Small Stream
                                                                          B1. Oranges
                                                                          B2. Harmonia
                                                                          B3. Birdstrike

                                                                          After the heaviest of years, it should be time to take a little weight off with the playful sounds of The Person. Mapping its own Bermuda Triangle between dub-pop, sugary synthwave and Balearic boogie, 'Tide Life' transports Compass Point to Soggy Bottom, providing maximum fun, sun and bitmap escapism.

                                                                          The eagle-eared may recognise The Person from the aspirational Italo-rockers Steaming Jeans, whose chalet-ready romp on Bordello A Parigi scored a Winter Olympic gold back in early 2020. Now left to her own devices, Minna Wight swaps the slopes for a jet ski and takes a Wave Race from Summer Bay to Monkey Island across 11 cuts of vintage oddball pop.

                                                                          Whether she's borrowing Brenda's Beach Balls for the dubby daydream of 'Snail Cafe' and 'The Place', serving lost library cues to SNES club scenes on 'Barry R Reef' and 'Elastic Shoes' or spinning high school slow jams into synth soul ballads like 'Nice Feeling', Minna disguises serious musicianship behind a naive aesthetic. Disarmed by charm, we're powerless to resist her tidal pull.

                                                                          TRACK LISTING

                                                                          1. Snail Cafe
                                                                          2. The Place
                                                                          3. Nice Feeling
                                                                          4. Tide Life
                                                                          5. Barry R Reef
                                                                          6. Planet Beach
                                                                          7. Elastic Shoes
                                                                          8. Current Affair
                                                                          9. Tigereye
                                                                          10. Rock Concert
                                                                          11. Moonee Puddles

                                                                          72 - Gruff Rhys

                                                                          Seeking New Gods

                                                                            Gruff Rhys is releasing his new album “Seeking New Gods” through Rough Trade Records on 21st May. This will be Gruff’s seventh solo album. “Seeking New Gods” was recorded following a US tour with his band and mixed in LA with superstar producer Mario C (Beastie Boys).

                                                                            The album concept was originally driven to be the biography of a mountain, Mount Paektu (an East Asian active volcano). However, as Gruff’s writing began to reflect on the inhuman timescale of a peak’s existence and the intimate features that bring it to mythological life, both the songs and the mountain became more and more personal.

                                                                            “The album is about people and the civilisations, and the spaces people inhabit over periods of time. How people come and go but the geology sticks around and changes more slowly. I think it’s about memory and time,” he suggests of Seeking New Gods’ meaning. “It’s still a biography of a mountain, but now it’s a Mount Paektu of the mind. You won’t learn much about the real mountain from listening to this record but you will feel something, hopefully.” - Gruff Rhys.

                                                                            STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                            Barry says: Gruff returns for yet another faultless slab of widescreen cinematic pop, full of his warmingly familiar but endlessly inventive chord progressions and swoon-inducing vocal drawl. Optimistic but filled with more introspective moments among the otherwise bombastic stomp. It's as dizzying and perfect as anything he's ever done. Peak Gruff.

                                                                            TRACK LISTING

                                                                            Side A
                                                                            1. Mausoleum Of My Former Self
                                                                            2. Can’t Carry On
                                                                            3. Loan Your Loneliness
                                                                            4. Seeking New Gods
                                                                            5. Hiking In Lightning
                                                                            Side B
                                                                            1. Holiest Of The Holy Of The Holy Men
                                                                            2. The Keep
                                                                            3. Everlasting Joy
                                                                            4. Distant Snowy Peaks

                                                                            Dinked Edition Flexi Disc
                                                                            Tropical Messiah

                                                                            73 - Black Midi


                                                                              black midi’s new album Cavalcade is to be released on 28th May. Cavalcade is a dynamic, hellacious, and inventive follow-up to 2019’s widely-praised Schlagenheim, “a labyrinth with hairpin-turn episodes and lyrics full of dourly corrosive observations” (New York Times, Best Albums of 2019).

                                                                              It scales beautiful new heights, pulling widely from a plethora of genres and influences, reaching ever upwards from an already lofty base of early achievements. 

                                                                              STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                              Barry says: Black Midi have always revelled in forging the most cacophonous and confounding noise, drawing skilfully from a diverse range of influences. 'Cavalcade' takes this one step further with such a varied and hugely skilled narrative, it's hard not to get drawn into their world after just a couple tracks. Jazzy, noisy, heavy and in parts eerie, this is peak Black Midi.

                                                                              TRACK LISTING

                                                                              1. John L
                                                                              2. Marlene Dietrich
                                                                              3. Chondromalacia Patella
                                                                              4. Slow
                                                                              5. Diamond Stuff
                                                                              6. Dethroned
                                                                              7. Hogwash And Balderdash
                                                                              8. Ascending Forth

                                                                              74 - Claud

                                                                              Super Monster

                                                                                When Claud Mintz’s mother finally heard the 13 songs on her kid’s magnetic first album, Super Monster, she asked a concerned question: Just how many people had her 21-year-old dated? From beginning to end, these sparkling pop tunes capture the assorted stages of a relationship’s delight and dejection—the giddy sensation of a first kiss during the beaming “Overnight,” the heartsick longing of a pending rejection during the yearning “Jordan,” the reluctant call for a requisite breakup during the smoldering “Ana.” Claud, though, replied that these songs detailed the phases of only two or three relationships, simply written during them or at various points after they were over.

                                                                                The debut release on Phoebe Bridgers’ Saddest Factory Records, Super Monster is a vertiginous but joyous coming-of-age reckoning with such young love. Claud sees relationships as games of endless wonder, intrigue, and second-guesses, a roller-coaster thrilling you even when it’s terrifying. If “Gold” turns the tension and indecision of a bad match into an undeniable bit of lithe disco, “That’s Mr. Bitch To You” uses a spurt of righteous indignation to fuse a little soul and emo into one breathless hook. Super Monster is like a compulsive compilation that Claud culled from a lifetime of musical enthusiasms—the arcing alt-rock of ’90s airwaves, the rapturous pop of ’00s chart-toppers, the diligent genre-hopping of modern online life. Claud emerges as the chameleonic mastermind of this mélange, channeling all of love’s emotions into songs so sharp they make even the hardest times feel fun.

                                                                                Perhaps you are in the throes of one of these romantic moments yourself right now, resentful of a frustrating paramour like Claud during “Pepsi” or indulging in lust like “In or In Between.” Or maybe these songs recall those wild days and tough situations. Incisive, instant, and addictive Super Monster works on either level—to remind us of love’s wild ups and downs or to help us deal with them in real time. In that way, Mom, these songs are about dating, well, everyone.

                                                                                STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                Barry says: Beautifully melodic bedroom pop, thumping percussion and shimmering hooks bring the stories of Claud to life. It's no surprise that the first signing on Phoebe Bridgers' Saddest Factory is brilliant, but this is a clever and nuanced indie pop LP, brought with the vitality of youth. Top stuff.

                                                                                TRACK LISTING

                                                                                Side A
                                                                                1. Overnight
                                                                                2. Gold
                                                                                3. Soft Spot
                                                                                4. In Or In-Between
                                                                                5. Cuff Your Jeans
                                                                                6. Ana (ft. Nick Hakim)

                                                                                Side B
                                                                                1. Guard Down
                                                                                2. This Town
                                                                                3. Jordan
                                                                                4. That’s Mr Bitch To You (ft. Melanie Faye)
                                                                                5. Pepsi
                                                                                6. Rocks At Your Window
                                                                                7. Falling With The Rain (ft. Shelly)

                                                                                75 - Billie Eilish

                                                                                Happier Than Ever

                                                                                  It's wonderful to see a true star in the making isn't it? I often wonder if people heard the first couple Madonna LP's and thought 'well, she's going to be massive'. It's impossible to ignore Eilish's trajectory, and even listening to a couple tracks of 'Happier Than Ever' will dispel any lingering doubts. It's surprisingly mature and wonderfully formed pop perfection.

                                                                                  TRACK LISTING

                                                                                  1. Getting Older
                                                                                  2. I Didn’t Change My Number
                                                                                  3. Billie Bossa Nova
                                                                                  4. My Future
                                                                                  5. Oxytocin
                                                                                  6. GOLDWING
                                                                                  7. Lost Cause
                                                                                  8. Halley’s Comet
                                                                                  9. Not My Responsibility
                                                                                  10. OverHeated
                                                                                  11. Everybody Dies
                                                                                  12. Your Power
                                                                                  13. NDA
                                                                                  14. Therefore I Am
                                                                                  15. Happier Than Ever
                                                                                  16. Male Fantasy

                                                                                  76 - Bobby Gillespie & Jehnny Beth

                                                                                  Utopian Ashes

                                                                                    Primal Scream frontman Bobby Gillespie, alongside solo artist and Savages vocalist Jehnny Beth, presents this stunning debut solo project collection - exploring loss, miscommunication and emotional inarticulacy that a married couple experience as they realise that their relationship is breaking down.

                                                                                    ‘Utopian Ashes’ draws on the tradition of country soul classics, such as Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris’s ‘Grievous Angel’ and George Jones and Tammy Wynette’s ‘We Go Together’, to deal with the heavy realities of love turning sour. It’s an album for people who have dealt with the inevitable sadness that comes with age and acknowledged the realities of life. There is no sweetening of the pill, but it does achieve what should be the goal of all good art: to make us feel less alone. And while it’s not autobiographical, it channels heartfelt truth from the songwriters’ own experiences.

                                                                                    In addition to Bobby Gillespie and Jehnny Beth, the album features Johnny Hostile (bass) alongside Primal Scream trio Andrew Innes (guitar), Martin Duffy (piano) and Darrin Mooney (drums).

                                                                                    STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                    Barry says: This collaboration sees Beth and Gillespie in absolute peak form, flitting between more upbeat balladry and thoughtful meditative orchestration but always moving towards a brilliantly inventive conclusion. The more downbeat slo-country moments are accentuated with a perfect juxtaposition of vocal talents and a keen ear for melody. Beautiful stuff.

                                                                                    TRACK LISTING

                                                                                    Chase It Down
                                                                                    English Town
                                                                                    Remember We Were Lovers
                                                                                    Your Heart Will Always Be Broken
                                                                                    Stones Of Silence
                                                                                    You Don’t Know What Love Is
                                                                                    You Can Trust Me Now
                                                                                    Living A Lie
                                                                                    Sunk In Reverie

                                                                                    77 - Ryley Walker

                                                                                    Course In Fable

                                                                                      Ryley Walker currently resides in New York City. But his latest LP is a Chicago record in spirit. The masterful Course In Fable, the songwriter’s fifth solo effort, draws from the deep well of that city’s fertile 1990s scene, when bands like Tortoise, The Sea and Cake and Gastr del Sol were reshaping the underground, mixing and matching indie rock, jazz, prog and beyond.

                                                                                      Walker spent his formative years in Chicago, absorbing those heady sounds and finding ways to make them his own. Even though he emerged at first in folk-rock troubadour mode, it makes sense that he’s arrived at this point; each LP has grown more intricate and assured, his influences distilling into something original and unusual. To put it simply: Course In Fable is Walker’s best record yet, full of active imagination and endless possibilities.

                                                                                      Last October, Ryley went straight to one of the primary architects of the Chicago sound to make the LP. John McEntire, Course In Fable’s producer/engineer/ mixer, can rightly be called a legend for his work with Tortoise, Stereolab, The Red Krayola, Jim O’Rourke and countless others over a prolific career that now spans more than three decades. Seeing his name in an album’s liners is pretty much a trademark of quality.

                                                                                      Another Windy City exile, McEntire is based on the west coast these days, working out of the Portland, OR studio he’s dubbed Soma West. On the seven songs here, he delivers the signature shimmering and pristine sonics he’s become known for over the years. But McEntire was also intimately involved with Course In Fable’s overall creative process. “I told him to take the mixes and have at it,” Walker says.

                                                                                      The result is a rich, immersive affair — a headphones record if ever there was one. Course In Fable’s songs are twisty, labyrinthine things, stuffed full of ideas (Walker half-jokingly calls it his “prog record”). But no matter how complex it gets, the album is never overwhelmingly busy. Wiry guitars melt into gorgeous string sections (arranged by Douglas Jenkins of the Portland Cello Project). Tricky time signatures abound but feel as natural as can be. Melodies o@en dri@ in unexpected directions but remain downright hummable. Like Walker’s beloved Genesis, the pop element is never too far from the surface even when shit gets weird. (And speaking of weird, Ryley says that in addition to Genesis, much of the album’s inspiration comes from “Australian extreme scooter riders on YouTube and balding gear heads on Craigslist.” Go figure.)

                                                                                      To help put together these various puzzle pieces, Ryley assembled a band made up of several longtime collaborators. Bill MacKay (another Chicago mainstay) and Walker have made two excellent instrumental duo records of interlocking guitars and warm give-and-take — a rapport very much in evidence throughout Course In Fable. The freakishly talented drummer Ryan Jewell has performed with Walker for years now in a variety of settings, from straightforward song-centric sets to blown-out improv extravaganzas. Bassist Andrew Scott Young (Tiger Hatchery, Health & Beauty) has logged many miles on tour with Walker; he and Jewell are frequently astonishing, a buoyant-but-always-locked-in rhythm section, able to navigate sometimes dizzying turnarounds with apparent ease. Listening to the interplay between Walker and these musicians and you might be fooled into thinking they’d spent a year road-testing Course In Fable’s songs. But it all came together relatively fast, thanks to demos, rehearsals and the kind of musical empathy that comes from years of playing together.

                                                                                      Beneath the wondrous interplay, you’ll find some of Walker’s most personal – if still typically cryptic — lyrics, hinting at some of the trials the songwriter has been dealing with in recent years. Balanced with necessary doses of dark humour and oddball poetry, Course In Fable feels most of all like a life-affirming record, fresh air in the lungs, sun on your skin. “Fuck me, I’m alive,” Ryley sings at one point, a moment of both disbelief and pure joy.

                                                                                      Walker has released his albums on a who’s-who of independent labels over the past decade — Tompkins Square, Dead Oceans, Thrill Jockey and Drag City among them. This time around, he’s doing it DIY-style, putting Course In Fable out on his own Husky Pants imprint. You’re in good hands. This is an album that sounds great (mastered by Greg Calbi), looks great (artwork by Jenny Nelson and design by Michael Vallera). It probably even smells great. Whether you’ve been onboard since the beginning or are new to the Ryley Walker universe, you’re in for a treat.

                                                                                      STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                      Barry says: Though we've seen a number of iterations of that Ryley Walker sound, it's great to hear him go back to the sound that drew me in in the first place. 'Course In Fable' touches upon the more avant-jazz leanings of his more recent output but lies firmly within the progressive full-bodied folk-rock ethos that made 'Primrose Green' and 'Golden Sings...' such essential listening experiences. Really marvellous stuff.

                                                                                      TRACK LISTING

                                                                                      1. Striking Your Big Premier (5:10)
                                                                                      2. Rang Dizzy (4:50)
                                                                                      3. A Lenticular Slap (7:54)
                                                                                      4. Axis Bent (4:36)
                                                                                      5. Clad With Bunk (6:15)
                                                                                      6. Pond Scum Ocean (8:05)
                                                                                      7. Shiva With Dustpan (5:43)

                                                                                      78 - Czarface & MF Doom

                                                                                      Super What?

                                                                                        Superhero? Supervillain? Super WHAT? CZARFACE & MF DOOM's newest team-up record Super What? is, much like the Avengers' arch-enemy Thanos...inevitable (and all-powerful!).

                                                                                        The icon MF DOOM unleashes his wizardry and wordplay throughout the record, while CZARFACE (bolstered by the legendary Wu-Tang Clan's Inspectah Deck and Esoteric) slash through each of the Czar-Keys' produced tracks as the team raises the bar on their previous LP, Czarface meets Metalface (2018). Featuring golden-age superhero DMC (of RUN-DMC) and Hieroglyphics' leader Del The Funky Homosapien, with art by longtime CZARFACE co-creator Lamour Supreme, this album will bring all the thrills of a cosmic summer blockbuster.

                                                                                        Recorded and slated for an early 2020 release, and paused while COVID raged, this collaboration of masked men is finally finding its way to you on all formats.

                                                                                        STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                        Patrick says: Though Doom may have joined the power cosmic, it's classics like this which mean he's gonna be with us forever. In cahoots with fellow masked man Czarface, the hip hop legend serves up some high grade golden age psychedelia with bars for days.

                                                                                        TRACK LISTING

                                                                                        DOOM SIDE:
                                                                                        A1. The King And Eye (feat. DMC Of Run DMC)
                                                                                        A2. Czarwyn's Theory Of People Getting Loose (feat. Kendra Morris)
                                                                                        A3. Mando Calrissian
                                                                                        A4. DOOM Unto Others

                                                                                        CZAR SIDE:
                                                                                        B1. Jason & The Czargonauts (feat. Del The Funky Homosapien)
                                                                                        B2. Break In The Action
                                                                                        B3. A Name To The Face
                                                                                        B4. This Is Canon Now
                                                                                        B5. So Strange (feat. Godforbid)
                                                                                        B6. Young World

                                                                                        79 - La Luz

                                                                                        La Luz

                                                                                          On their self-titled fourth album, La Luz launch themselves into a new realm of emotional intimacy for a collection of songs steeped in the mysteries of the natural world and the magic of human chemistry that has found manifestation in the musical ESP between guitarist and songwriter Shana Cleveland, bassist Lena Simon, and keyboardist Alice Sandahl. To help shape La Luz, the band found a kindred spirit in producer Adrian Younge. Though primarily known for his work with hip-hop, soul, and jazz acts, Younge saw in La Luz a shared vision that transcended genre.

                                                                                          “We both create music with the same attitude, and that’s what I love about them,” he says. “They are never afraid to be risky and their style is captivating. It was an honor to work with them.” The result is an album that is both the most naturalistic and psychedelic of the band’s career. All the elements of classic La Luz are still present—the lush harmonies, the impeccable musicianship, the gorgeous melodies—but it’s a richer, earthier iteration, replete with inorganic sounds that mimic the surreality of nature—the humming of invisible bugs, the atmospheric sizzle of a hot day. After spending the last few years living in rural northern California, Cleveland’s lyrics have become more grounded, less interested in traveling to other dimensions than in peeking behind the curtain of this one. With sounds ranging from ghostly electric guitar shimmers, charging fuzz-guitar rock, soulful organ-driven dream-funk, galactic synths, and breezy ‘70s folk-pop, La Luz is an album that celebrates love- of music, of friendship, of life in all its forms. - Mariana Timony. 

                                                                                          STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                          Barry says: It's a beautiful new LP from Shana Cleveland's La Luz, swimming in nostalgic 70's psychedelia, with wandering percussion and soaring vocal melodies, bringing to mind the Beatles circa Sgt. Pep or acid folk of the late 60's but with a keenly realised modern production sensibility. Superb.

                                                                                          TRACK LISTING

                                                                                          1. In The Country
                                                                                          2. The Pines
                                                                                          3. Watching Cartoons
                                                                                          4. Oh, Blue
                                                                                          5. Goodbye Ghost
                                                                                          6. Yuba Rot
                                                                                          7. Metal Man
                                                                                          8. Lazy Eyes And Dune
                                                                                          9. Down The Street
                                                                                          10. I Won't Hesitate
                                                                                          11. Here On Earth
                                                                                          12. Spider House

                                                                                          The debut album by Emma-Jean Thackray feels exactly like the sort of thing we’ve been longing for over the last 12 months: a transcendent, human, shared experience. Across its 49 minutes, "Yellow" draws glowing lines between ‘70s jazz fusion and P-Funk, the cosmic invocations of Sun Ra and Alice Coltrane, and the gorgeous orchestration of the Beach Boys.

                                                                                          "I wanted the whole thing to sound like a psychedelic trip,” explains Thackray. “You put on the first track, it takes you through this intense experience for almost an hour, and then you emerge on the other side transformed.” The result is an album that speaks the language of positivity, as rich lyrically as it is musically. You might best understand what Thackray does through reference to auteur figures like Brian Wilson or Madlib, who straddle instrumentation, arrangement and production in order to bring the sound in their head to fruition.

                                                                                          As a composer, producer, singer, multi-instrumentalist and DJ, Emma is just as at home working with the London Symphony Orchestra as she is hosting her show on Worldwide FM. Production credits and collaborations include the likes of Squid, Makaya McCraven, BLU and Pinty.

                                                                                          STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                          Barry says: Emma-Jean Thackray is one of the leading lights in the movement of London-based musicians leading the jazz revival. Though she was born in Yorkshire, her sound has encompassed elements of the R&B and electronic elements the nu-jazz scene has been known for. 'Yellow' is beyond even that, swimming with influence from afrobeat, tropicalia and funk into a rich and mindblowing juxtaposition of tight groove and improvisational flow. A hugely important and wildly satisfying gem.

                                                                                          TRACK LISTING

                                                                                          Vinyl Tracklist:
                                                                                          A1 - Mercury
                                                                                          A2 - Say Something
                                                                                          A3 - About That
                                                                                          B1 - Venus
                                                                                          B2 - Green Funk
                                                                                          B3 - Third Eye
                                                                                          B4 - May There Be Peace
                                                                                          C1 - Sun
                                                                                          C2 - Golden Green
                                                                                          C3 - Spectre
                                                                                          D1 - Rahu & Ketu
                                                                                          D2 - Yellow
                                                                                          D3 - Our People
                                                                                          D4 - Mercury (In Retrograde)

                                                                                          CD / Digital Tracklist:
                                                                                          01 - Mercury
                                                                                          02 - Say Something
                                                                                          03 - About That
                                                                                          04 - Venus
                                                                                          05 - Green Funk
                                                                                          06 - Third Eye
                                                                                          07 - May There Be Peace
                                                                                          08 - Sun
                                                                                          09 - Golden Green
                                                                                          10 - Spectre
                                                                                          11 - Rahu & Ketu
                                                                                          12 - Yellow
                                                                                          13 - Our People
                                                                                          14 - Mercury (In Retrograde)

                                                                                          81 - Mild High Club

                                                                                          Going Going Gone

                                                                                            Mild High Club makes a long-awaited comeback with Going Going Gone, the band’s first solo album since 2016’s cult favourite Skiptracing.

                                                                                            An album that speaks directly to the times we live in, Going Going Gone sees Mild High Club blending the psychedelic pop of earlier albums Skiptracing and Timeline with influences from around the world, especially Brazilian avant-garde music from the ‘70s and ‘80s.

                                                                                            Songs from Skiptracing and Timeline have hundreds of millions of streams. Mild High Club recently had viral success with single ‘Homage’ on TikTok, with over 50k videos posted and millions of likes. An active Reddit community dedicated to the band boasts thousands of members.

                                                                                            The band has played at such iconic festivals and venues as Coachella, Le Bataclan in Paris, and Brixton Academy in London. In 2017, they released an album with King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Sketches from Brunswick East. 

                                                                                            STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                            Barry says: Mild High Club return for their newest outing, mixing the hazy indie guitars and swooning progressions of yesteryear but with a more crystalline, loungy production aesthetic. As wonderfully evocative as their previous outings, but even more beautifully varied.

                                                                                            TRACK LISTING

                                                                                            Side A

                                                                                            1. Kluges I
                                                                                            2. Dionysian State
                                                                                            3. Trash Heap
                                                                                            4. Taste Tomorrow
                                                                                            5. A New High (feat. Winter)
                                                                                            6. It's Over Again

                                                                                            Side B

                                                                                            1. Kluges II
                                                                                            2. I Don't Mind The Wait
                                                                                            3. Dawn Patrol
                                                                                            4. Waving
                                                                                            5. Me Myself And Dollar Hell
                                                                                            6. Holding On To Me

                                                                                            82 - The Specials

                                                                                            Protest Songs 1924 - 2012

                                                                                              The Specials who enjoyed a triumphant 2019 with the release of the critically acclaimed “Encore”, their first ever number 1 album, coming 40 years after they exploded onto the music scene and launched the 2 Tone movement, make a very timely return with the release of their brand new album “Protest Songs – 1924 -2012”. Released on August 27th through their new label Island Records, the album features twelve singular takes on specially chosen protest songs across an almost 100-year span and shows The Specials still care, are still protesting and are still pissed off!

                                                                                              The Specials emerged in the late 1970s as the multiracial flagship of the 2 Tone movement, and sang of racism, unemployment and injustice making a very clear political statement every time they stepped on stage. It's fitting, then, that in 2021, at a time when the world is riven with social, racial and political unrest, that the Specials have made this album of Protest Songs and are once again reflecting the society we live in and taking a stand against all forms of injustice. A typically unpredictable collection of unique takes from folk to post-punk, righteous uplift to biting satire, and from Kingston to Alabama, the album is a powerful reminder that there are no fixed rules to what makes a protest song. All that’s required is the combination of something that needs to be said with music that needs to be heard. “People have been using music as a vehicle for protest since time immemorial,” says bass-player Horace Panter. “Injustice is timeless.”

                                                                                              In February 2020, Horace, Terry, Lynval and co-producer Nikolaj Torp Larsen gathered to begin work on a reggae record, the follow up to Encore. Then Covid hit and plans were put on hold. During the first lockdown and following the murder of George Floyd and the waves of protest that grew around the world, Terry suggested that they make a different kind of record as a response to recent events.

                                                                                              The trio started by picking some personal favourites. The Mothers of Invention’s Trouble Every Day (Horace), Leonard Cohen’s Everybody Knows (Terry) while Lynval was keen to sing Bob Marley’s classic rebel song Get Up, Stand Up. Other favourites included Talking Heads’ Listening Wind and “Trouble Every Day” which was about the Watts riots in 1965. Spending months combing YouTube and books for songs they had never heard before, they discovered or rediscovered Big Bill Broonzy’s angry 1938 blues Black, Brown and White and the Staple Singers’ stirring Freedom Highway, written for the marches from Selma to Montgomery in 1965. The Dixie Jubilee Singers first recorded the spiritual Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Us Around in 1924 but it was the civil rights movement that tweaked the lyrics and made it an anthem. Soldiers Who Want to Be Heroes is another example of a song that found its true calling after the fact. Written by the poet Rod McKuen in 1963, it was rerecorded three years later, during the dog days of the Vietnam war.

                                                                                              Folk singer Malvina Reynolds, best known for Little Boxes, provides two spiky odes to the contributions of ordinary people: I Live in a City and I Don’t Mind Failing in This World: And because the Specials have always had a taste for black comedy, they’ve chosen two songs by bluesman Jerry McCain (My Next Door Neighbor) and Wild Thing writer Chip Taylor (Fuck All the Perfect People). “Terry said, ‘I’ve found this song, listen to this,’” Horace remembers. “We all sat there open-mouthed.”

                                                                                              The album was recorded in a studio in West London in May of this year with regular bandmates Nikolaj Torp Larsen on keyboards, Kenrick Rowe on drums and Steve Cradock on guitar. Hannah Hu, a young singer from Bradford, fronts Listening Wind and sings back-up on Freedom Highway and Everybody Knows.

                                                                                              The Specials remain one of the most electrifying, influential and important bands of all time and this new record and the success of Encore proves that they are every bit as relevant and vital as they were in 1979.

                                                                                              STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                              Barry says: As far as ska bands go, there is very little doubt that The Specials are one of the most legendary around, and this excellent collection sees them revisit a number of protest songs written throughout the years in their own inimitable style. Unsurprisingly well done, and full of the sort of playful groove The Specials do so well.

                                                                                              "A Beautiful Revolution Pt 1" is an instant hip hop classic and call to action from the modern-day renaissance man - a GRAMMY-, Emmy-, and Oscar-winning artist, activist, actor, and two time New York Times Bestselling author. The LP features seven new songs and two new interludes that catch Common at a new prime in his career. With a core band that includes Robert Glasper (keys), Karriem Riggins (drums), Burniss Travis (bass), Isaiah Sharkey (guitar), and PJ (vocals), plus features from Black Thought and Lenny Kravitz, A Beautiful Revolution Pt 1 is music meant to “uplift, heal, and inspire listeners dealing with racial injustices as well as other social injustices,” says Common.

                                                                                              He continues: “A Beautiful Revolution Pt 1 is affirmation. It's recognition. It's elevation. It's music to go with a movement. Because the truth is, there is still so much work to do. Regardless of the outcome of the election, we need to make sure things do not return to the status quo. The intention of the music is to channel all of our pain and outrage into something productive, inspirational, and good. It’s to help lead a movement into our next phase of the work to be done.”

                                                                                              Our first taste of the project comes with the new single “Say Peace.” This shape-shifting sonic shuffle finds Common trading bars with Black Thought and PJ, as the music mirrors the illusory search for peace that we all pursue. On the new song, Common simply says: "I found my peace, my peace through making these albums.”

                                                                                              STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                              Millie says: Common providing the Funk/Hip Hop vibes from all angles with this slick new album ‘A Beautiful Revolution’, Common has always been an artist I’ve liked but this album has elevated him to one of my favourites. If you’re into Kaytranada, Madlib or Pan Amsterdam then this is right up your street.

                                                                                              TRACK LISTING

                                                                                              1. (A Beautiful Revolution) Intro
                                                                                              2. Fallin
                                                                                              3. Say Peace Featuring Black Thought
                                                                                              4. What Do You Say (Move It Baby) Featuring PJ
                                                                                              5. Courageous Featuring PJ
                                                                                              6. A Place In This World Featuring PJ
                                                                                              7. A Riot In My Mind Featuring Lenny Kravitz
                                                                                              8. Don't Forget Who You Are Featuring PJ
                                                                                              9. (A Beautiful Revolution) Outro

                                                                                              84 - J Cole

                                                                                              The Off Season

                                                                                                The Off-Season is the sixth studio album by American rapper J. Cole. The album was executive produced by Cole, Ibrahim Hamad, and T-Minus. It features guest vocals from Morray, 21 Savage, Lil Baby, Bas, and 6lack. 

                                                                                                This time sees Cole relaxing a little from the incendiary fire of 'KOD', with things getting a little looser in the production front too. It's a fine line between sloppy and laid-back, and though 'Laid-back' was never something Cole could come close to, on 'The Off Season', we get a little more of the unhurried production that could easily veer into the more loose side of the hip-hop spectrum. 
                                                                                                There are moments of Cole's trademark drive though, with both 'My Life' and 'Applying Pressure' acting as superb grit ofsetting the more languid offerings. It's yet another wonderful outing from Cole, and one that will surely go down as a turning point in his already considerable skillset.  

                                                                                                STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                                Matt says: Hydraulic subs, rapid-fire trap beats, that guttural east coast drawl; the busiest (and richest) rapper in the business returns with masterpiece no. 6

                                                                                                TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                Side 1
                                                                                                1. 95 South (3:17)
                                                                                                2. Amari (2:30)
                                                                                                3. My Life (3:31)
                                                                                                4. Applying Pressure (2:59)
                                                                                                5. Punchin' The Clock (1:54)
                                                                                                6. 100 Mil' (2:45)

                                                                                                Side 2
                                                                                                1. Pride Is The Devil (3:40)
                                                                                                2. Let Go My Hand (4:26)
                                                                                                3. Interlude (2:14)
                                                                                                4. The Climb Back (5:00)
                                                                                                5. Close (2:33)
                                                                                                6. Hunger On Hillside (4:04)

                                                                                                85 - Courtney Barnett

                                                                                                Things Take Time, Take Time

                                                                                                  Things Take Time, Take Time” is an assured leap forward for Barnett; a breakthrough really. This is Barnett at her most relaxed, creative and joyful. An exquisite look at the intimate, private world created by Barnett and her producer Stella Mozgawa (Warpaint, Sharon Van Etten, Kurt Vile). It’s consequently her most beautiful and intimate record to date.

                                                                                                  TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                  Rae Street
                                                                                                  Sunfair Sundown
                                                                                                  Here’s The Thing
                                                                                                  Before You Gotta Go
                                                                                                  Turning Green
                                                                                                  Take It Day By Day
                                                                                                  If I Don’t Hear From You Tonight
                                                                                                  Write A List Of Things To Look Forward To
                                                                                                  Oh The Night

                                                                                                  86 - The Zenmenn

                                                                                                  Enter The Zenmenn

                                                                                                    Returning with another debut album for 2021, Music From Memory introduce a new band, The Zenmenn, with their first ever release ‘Enter The Zenmenn’. Whilst little about the band is made known, their work is described by writer Winton Rousseauas an “experiment in harmonic convergence emerging from a deep respect for cosmic symmetry and a resistance to the prevailing Zeitgeist.”

                                                                                                    ‘Enter The Zenmenn’ sounds as old as it sounds new, as organic as it is electric, as harmonic as it is rhythmic, and the album’s fusion of different palettes, colours, tempos, instruments and sources offer a harmonious balance and unity that already feels like the perfect soundtrack to a better world. In a time of what they see as spiritual neglect, it offers a “human kind of stillness” through the “dualistic fusions of complexity and simplicity, mystery and clarity and East and West”.

                                                                                                    STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                                    Patrick says: As far as cryptic salesnotes go, this is up there. I don't have the musicological / anthropological knowledge to decipher the words of Winton Rousseauas (is that even a real person?) but can tell you that it's a gorgeous combination of Japanese flavours, indie jangle and jazzy moments which sounds simultaneously like Arthur Russell, Fieldwork era Sakamoto and our own Horsebeach. Music to swoon to!

                                                                                                    TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                    A1. The Magic Eye
                                                                                                    A2. Homage To A Friendship (feat John Moods)
                                                                                                    A3. Flags Of The World
                                                                                                    A4. Bamboo Garden
                                                                                                    B1. Stairway To Heaven
                                                                                                    B2. Salad Bar
                                                                                                    B3. Topaz (The Days Of Our Lives)

                                                                                                    87 - Hania Rani

                                                                                                    Music For Film And Theatre

                                                                                                      Writing music for film and theatre has always been a big part of Hania Rani's musical world. It is also a part of the creative process that can be tantalisingly out of reach for listeners, either the project doesn't come to fruition or the music simply isn't available away from the film or play. From early collaborations with friends, to last year's two scores for full length films (xAbo: Father Boniecki directed by Aleksandra Potoczek and I Never Cry directed by Piotr Domalewski') Rani has been involved in many such projects, each representing an important step in her artistic development and life as a composer and artist:

                                                                                                      "Composing for motion picture or theatre is for me a very different kind of work than writing for my own projects. Firstly, I need to collaborate with somebody else who sees the world through the lense of their own art and craft. That's why these kinds of encounters can be so exciting - they are a promise of creating something very new, as a result of creative work of so many people from all walks of life. Secondly, I feel that music in film is an invisible character, a missing emotion that creates a special atmosphere and sensation. It doesn't illustrate, it completes the work of art. I think it is an extremely sensitive matter that rejects banal associations and easy solutions. I feel like composing for film works like an exercise for my imagination."

                                                                                                      It is the nature of these collaborations though, that sometimes the composers own preferred compositions don't make the final cut. This is where Music for Film and Theatre comes in as it allows Rani to present a selection of her own personal favourite pieces composed for film and plays. Pieces that made it to the final cut and pieces that were rejected by the director or the producer. Bringing the music together as an album offers a chance for Rani to share her music with her listeners on her own terms and a chance for her fans to hear a different side of her art.

                                                                                                      "I put them in one place, as a collection of precious objects that were kept for years in a drawer. Some of them were composed a couple years ago, some are the result of recent research. I am very happy to finally be able to present them as a separate project."

                                                                                                      Rani is of course grateful to all of the directors who have entrusted her to create music for their projects, but she professes especially warm feelings for the pieces composed for her first 'real' theatre play, Pradziady, directed by Michał Zdunik. The title comes from 'Dziady' a term in Slavic folklore for the spirits of the ancestors and a collection of pre-Christian rites, rituals and customs that were dedicated to them. The essence of these rituals was the 'communion of the living with the dead', namely, the establishment of relationships with the souls of the ancestors. "I felt this story needed extremely dark and fragile music, and at the same time a sound that could express the mixture of the two worlds - the living and the dead. I decided to compose part of the soundtrack with a string quartet but including two cellos, viola and only one violin. We recorded in a little house, completely built from wood, mostly from Finnish pine. I always felt this space has a very special, warm and natural acoustics - especially when it is combined with string instruments. The track composed for this theatre play is called Ghosts but actually didn't finally make it to the performance, although I like it so much that I thought it would perfectly fit

                                                                                                      this compilation". Other highlights include the enchanting Soleil Pâle written for a collaboration with director Neels Castillon, and improvising dancers Alt Take, the beautiful melancholy of In Between (from the film score for xAbo: Father Boniecki) and the magical bliss of The Beach (from I Never Cry) and together they create a beautiful offering from an artist whose every note is worth hearing, but for whom the journey is just beginning:

                                                                                                      "I am very happy to see that many artists consider my music as the right soundtrack for their works, because film music was always a huge inspiration for any of my compositions. I find there a lot of life and real emotions, but also a feeling of freedom. Freedom from my own thinking patterns and prejudices. I also believe strongly in collaboration between people, I always feel this is the way to create something really new, based on a mixture of different ways of thinking, feeling, expressing."

                                                                                                      This then is Hania Rani, Music for Film and Theatre – enjoy!

                                                                                                      STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                                      Barry says: The wonderful Hania Rani finally returns! This time we get the paddling piano of her earlier work, but this time there are more dramatic interludes, owing to focus on soundtrack pieces. It's interesting to see Rani's scope change and the pieces themselves to remain just as effective while branching into more widescreen cinematic intensity. A gorgeous and evocative LP.

                                                                                                      TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                      1. Prayer (From XAbo: Father Boniecki)
                                                                                                      2. In Between (From XAbo: Father Boniecki)
                                                                                                      3. Journey (From XAbo: Father Boniecki)
                                                                                                      4. Trip To Ireland (From I Never Cry)
                                                                                                      5. The Beach (From I Never Cry)
                                                                                                      6. The Locker Room (From I Never Cry)
                                                                                                      7. At The Hospital (From I Never Cry)
                                                                                                      8. Waiting (From At Home)
                                                                                                      9. Wildfires (From Truth In Fire)
                                                                                                      10. Ghosts (From Pradziady)
                                                                                                      11. Soleil Pâle
                                                                                                      12. Nora (From Nora)

                                                                                                      After two years of studio development, sample searching and production upgrades, Belfast-born, London-based duo Bicep (Matt McBriar and Andy Ferguson) drop hotly anticipated second album, “Isles”. On the title, 'We have strong mixed emotions, connected to growing up on an island, wanting to leave, wanting to return'. 

                                                                                                      From their early days living and clubbing in Belfast, to their move to London over a decade ago, the breadth of music they’ve been exposed to during this time informs “Isles’” massive sonic palette. Both cite the joy of discovering Hindi vocals overheard from distant rooftops, snatches of Bulgarian choirs drifting from passing cars, hitting Shazam in a kebab house in the vain hopes of identifying a Turkish pop song.

                                                                                                      Lead single "Apricots" encapsulates these disparate influences perfectly. Sampling traditional Malawian singers - recorded by ethnomusicologist Hugh Tracey in 1958 and released via the label Beating Heart, whose profits go towards supporting the ongoing music conservation work of the International Library of African Music; and a 1950’s performance by The Bulgarian State Radio & Television Female Vocal Choir, steeped in a shimmering bath of warm synths, its spare percussion and arresting vocals bring the big room chills of 90s rave, while still evoking something lost or forlorn. The accompanying video is directed by Mark Jenkin, who recently took home a 2020 BAFTA for Outstanding Debut by a British Director for his 2019 film Bait.

                                                                                                      STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                                      Patrick says: Flexing relentless muscle since those youthful days on the blog scene, Bicep bring us their second LP, blending their love of jacking house, proper techno and pumping italo with fragments of UK club history and the cultural diversity of their London bass. The ideal soundtrack to your living room lockdown disco.

                                                                                                      TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                      1. Atlas
                                                                                                      2. Cazenove
                                                                                                      3. Apricots
                                                                                                      4. Saku (feat. Clara La San)
                                                                                                      5. Lido
                                                                                                      6. X (feat. Clara La San)
                                                                                                      7. Rever (feat. Julia Kent)
                                                                                                      8. Sundial
                                                                                                      9. Fir
                                                                                                      10. Hawk (feat. Machìna)

                                                                                                      89 - Vanishing Twin

                                                                                                      Ookii Gekkou

                                                                                                        There’s a mystery to Vanishing Twin – from their name to the multitude of sounds that inhabit their music. They don’t sound like many but they hint at plenty. ‘Ookii Gekkou’ (Japanese for Big Moonlight) is the sound of ordinary life under a different set of rules, a record conceived and created in dark times – a sort of dream catcher for all the madness of the past year.

                                                                                                        Vanishing Twin explore new ground on ‘Ookii Gekkou’ incorporating elements of afrofunk, outer jazz and avant-garde, all while referencing Sun Ra to Alice Coltrane, Martin Denny to Morricone, Can’s Holger Czukay to meditative Gamelan, or The Free Design, to library music of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. Locked into their strangely-accessible groove is a history of ‘other’ sound, a crafted hauntology that evinces something completely new.

                                                                                                        Hurricanes, organisms, vibes, bells, and percussive rallies purvey throughout ‘Ookii Gekkou’, each infiltrated with influences as diverse as Piero Umiliani, Art Ensemble of Chicago and ELO among others. Indeed, even a cursory earful adds to an ever-expanding palette of sound, no mean feat for the newly-trimmed quartet of songwriter, singer and multi-instrumentalist Cathy Lucas, drummer Valentina Magaletti, bassist Susumu Mukai, and synth/guitar player Phil MFU, this reduction resulting in no fewer ideas and even bigger steps. Vanishing Twin is a conundrum in these fragmenting times; familiar, yet different; appealing to this world, but from another, parallel one.

                                                                                                        “A band that fearlessly floats in the hazy space between the real world and an imagined one, blurring the line between warmly nostalgic and eerily haunted” Pitchfork.

                                                                                                        “One of the most original and exciting acts of the moment” The Quietus.

                                                                                                        STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                                        Barry says: Both 'Choose Your Own Adventure' and 'Age Of Immunology' were big hits in the shop, and the superb new one from is sure to go down similarly well, though it further diversifies the psychedelic wooze of both into loungy jazz, avant pop and bright proggy synth. It's a wonderful progression and a superb, typically brilliant listen.

                                                                                                        TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                        Side A
                                                                                                        A1 Big Moonlight (Ookii Gekkou)
                                                                                                        A2 Phase One Million
                                                                                                        A3 Zuum
                                                                                                        A4 The Organism

                                                                                                        Side B
                                                                                                        B1 In Cucina
                                                                                                        B2 Wider Than Itself
                                                                                                        B3 Light Vessel
                                                                                                        B4 Tub Erupt
                                                                                                        B5 The Lift

                                                                                                        After a host of well received ambient releases, Richard Norris is back with the motorik, trance inducing electronic groove of 'Hypnotic Response'.

                                                                                                        Influenced by German 70's music, psychedelia, hypnotic repetition and an old Korg 55 drum machine, these tracks veer from the expansive eleven minute workout 'Arca' to the mesmeric sequences of 'In Flight', from the propulsive Kosmishe rhythm of 'Free Ride' to the electronic lullaby 'La Lune'.

                                                                                                        A widescreen and mesmerising set, with accompanying retina altering artwork and vinyl. Dive in deep.

                                                                                                        STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                                        Barry says: Aaah, Richard Norris. I am a huge fan of his 'Elements' release from last year, so it's a huge joy to have his latest collection of snappy cosmic beats and spine-tingling arpeggios to wrap the ears around. It seems like there's no stopping Norris at the moment, with all of his monthly 'Music For Healing' releases providing vital relaxation during lockdown only adding to the excellence of his physical output. 'Hypnotic Response' is a triumph in every way.

                                                                                                        TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                        Side A
                                                                                                        1. In Flight
                                                                                                        2. Arca
                                                                                                        3. Free Ride

                                                                                                        Side B
                                                                                                        4. Gamma & Delta
                                                                                                        5. Reflections Of Kyoto
                                                                                                        6. La Lune

                                                                                                        Music From Memory are excited to introduce another new group for 2021, this time presenting the self-titled debut album from Loveshadow.

                                                                                                        Currently based in San Francisco, the duo of Anya and Izaak initially met whilst working in an Oakland cafe in 2016. The two Californians quickly bonded over a track by the ’80s disco band Aurra which was playing over the radio and almost immediately their separate journeys in music became interwoven. They soon began to write music and creating their own work would become a way for the pair to get closer to the sound they were searching for, as well as enabling them to discover the healing power of making and listening to music.

                                                                                                        ‘Loveshadow’ was recorded predominantly in the Bay Area between 2017-2020 as well as whilst traveling to NYC, Chicago and around Portland. Having released previously as the outfit ‘S Transporter’ alongside Detroit friend Ryan Spencer, Loveshadow is formed of Anya as singer and song writer alongside Izaak on synthesizers, bass and percussion. This eight track album is the duo’s first release; exploring emotive Pop and DIY Funk leanings it stands as a joyful homage to the music they bond over, as well as an ode to their own love and friendship.

                                                                                                        TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                        A1. 7
                                                                                                        A2. No Control
                                                                                                        A3. Passthru
                                                                                                        A4. Severance
                                                                                                        B1. More
                                                                                                        B2. Pleasure Idler
                                                                                                        B3. Tableaux Vivant
                                                                                                        B4. Wildflowers

                                                                                                        92 - Gnod

                                                                                                        La Mort Du Sens

                                                                                                          If one overarching feeling has dominated the last two years on this orbiting rock, it’s uncertainty. A sense of an old order in ruins, and nothing lined up to replace it. With societal strife, psychic warfare and sheer boredom assaulting us from all fronts in this still-fresh decade, co-ordinates have been hard to place forging a path forward. Therefore, who better to turn to as a soundtrack for this tumultuous new era than Gnod - longtime chroniclers of discord.

                                                                                                          “The Death Of Meaning” is the translated rendering of the new Gnod album’s title, and this also reflects its creation. As Paddy Shine of Gnod notes: “I think the title sums it up well because this album was coming together at a time when confusion was king for us all - still is. I think we can all relate to that. This record is a really strange beast because of the big change that happened between mixing and recording. I think the title really does sum up the vibe of ‘What the Fuck’? Maybe we should have called it that!”

                                                                                                          Wielding the taut, stripped-down and bludgeoning sound that had evolved on 2017’s ‘Just Say No The Psycho Right-Wing Capitalist Fascist Industrial Death Machine’ and 2018’s Chapel Perilous, Gnod initially recorded the tracks for ‘La Mort Du Sens’ with key soundman and collaborator Raikes Parade in ‘an old mill in Manchester’ around the Christmas period of 2019. “It’s the first album in a while where we kept it in-house and DIY, and we wanted it to be as ferocious as our live sets have become” says Paddy, “We banged it all down live - two drummers and a load of cabs in a room pushing each other forward”

                                                                                                          Nonetheless, the arrival of the pandemic in early 2020 took the record on another course, adding to a turbulent and cathartic vitality that electrifies the likes of the caustic Melvins-in-hell assault of ‘Pink Champagne Blues’, the uncompromising percussive battering ram of the twelve-minute ‘Giro Day’ and the post-punk angularity of ‘The Whip And The Tongue’ with a fearsome elemental charge. “The world changed two months later so we were mixing this old world record in the new world and a lot of the vox got laid down during lockdown” reflects Paddy. “‘Pink Champagne Blues’ is a burst of total nihilist abandon and the lyrics wrote themselves in the midst of a dark wintry night of the soul”

                                                                                                          Masters of an approach which manages to be both unmistakable and unpredictable. Gnod are now well established as prophets of the dispossessed. ‘La Mort Du Sens’ is no less than another relentlessly invigorating stop-off on their wild ride to who knows where. “It’s all about the energy” reckons Paddy. “We never really know what’s coming next. It just organically shifts around, and I think we are getting better at not analysing where it’s going and just going with the flow”

                                                                                                          “Got No Obvious Destination, innit”.

                                                                                                          STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                                          Barry says: One of the most unstoppable forces in music is back with the incendiary genius of 'La Mort..' Unsurprisingly, utterly essential.

                                                                                                          TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                          01. Regimental
                                                                                                          02. Pink Champagne Blues
                                                                                                          03. The Whip And The Tongue
                                                                                                          04. Town
                                                                                                          05. Giro Day

                                                                                                          93 - Villagers

                                                                                                          Fever Dreams

                                                                                                            Conor O'Brien is pleased to announce Villagers' fifth studio album Fever Dreams which will be released on August 20th via Domino. Escapism is a very necessary pursuit right now, and Fever Dreams follows it to mesmerising effect. It works like all the best records - it becomes a mode of transport; it picks you up from where you are and sets you down elsewhere.

                                                                                                            O’Brien says on the gestation of Fever Dreams: “I had an urge to write something that was as generous to the listener as it was to myself. Sometimes the most delirious states can produce the most ecstatic, euphoric and escapist dreams.”

                                                                                                            These are songs with the strange, melted shapes and the magical ambivalence of dreams. The intent of the songs is both mysterious and as clear as a bell. With Fever Dreams, there is a sense of a deepening mastery and an expanding reach by O’Brien. Inspiration for the album was found in many places and came in from all angles, from night swimming on a Dutch island to Flann O’Brien, Audre Lorde, David Lynch, L. S. Lowry via the library music of Piero Umiliani and Alessandro Alessandroni and jazz from Duke Ellington and Alice Coltrane.

                                                                                                            Written over the course of two years, the main bodies of the songs were recorded in a series of full-band studio sessions in late 2019 and early 2020. During the long, slow pandemic days, O’Brien refined them in his tiny home studio in Dublin, and the album was then mixed by David Wrench (Frank Ocean, The xx, FKA Twigs).

                                                                                                            TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                            Side A
                                                                                                            01 Something Bigger
                                                                                                            02 The First Day
                                                                                                            03 Song In Seven
                                                                                                            04 So Simpatico
                                                                                                            05 Momentarily

                                                                                                            Side B
                                                                                                            01 Circles In The Firing Line
                                                                                                            02 Restless Endeavour
                                                                                                            03 Full Faith In Providence
                                                                                                            04 Fever Dreams
                                                                                                            05 Deep In My Heart

                                                                                                            94 - Black Honey

                                                                                                            Written & Directed By

                                                                                                              ‘Written & Directed’ is Black Honey’s second album. It follows their outstanding self-titled debut released back in 2018 when the world that surrounded the Brighton fourpiece looked and felt like a very different place. Black Honey however are still the bad-ass, truly original band they have always been, they’ve just graduated from the intriguingly anomalous newcomers to becoming one of UK indie’s most singular outfits. They've travelled the world and released a Top 40 album; graced the cover of the NME and become the faces and soundtrack of Roberto Cavalli's Milan Fashion Week show; smashed Glastonbury and supported Queens of the Stone Age, all without compromising a shred of the wild, wicked vision they first set out with.

                                                                                                              It's now time for the next instalment of their story – ‘Written & Directed” – which see’s Black Honey deliver one, very singular, message – a 10 track mission statement that aims to unashamedly plant a flag in the ground for strong, world-conquering women. For fierce frontwoman and album protagonist Izzy B. Phillips – it’s the most important message she could send to inspire her cult-like fanbase and fill the female-shaped gap that she felt so acutely when she was growing up and discovering rock music for the first time.

                                                                                                              Written throughout 2019 and recorded in fits and spurts between touring, ‘Written & Directed’ is drenched with a hedonistic, anything-goes attitude. It’s also the most full-throttle collection of music that Black Honey have ever-written – egged-on by their run of shows supporting long-term friends and collaborators Royal Blood. Exploring everything from womanhood, to identity and power, it’s an album that revels in the rich history of pop culture, throws a wink to its rock-and-roll heroes, but ultimately (and in true Black Honey fashion) it stands on its own two feet.

                                                                                                              With a typically hyper-visual world referencing grindhouse cinema, kitschy pulp films and a flip-reverse of female cinematic representation all primed to unfurl and explode around them, 'Written & Directed' is the sound of Black Honey strapping in and saddling up, of harnessing their quirks, and, as the Phillips has always hoped, riding them joyously into the sunset.

                                                                                                              STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                                              Barry says: Black Honey return, bringing more of their scathing guitars and pummeling rhythms, pitch-perfect vocals and psychedelic grooves. A superbly singable and dynamic coalition of energy and politicism in one hugely enjoyable package.

                                                                                                              TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                              1. I Like The Way You Die
                                                                                                              2. Run For Cover
                                                                                                              3. Beaches
                                                                                                              4. Back Of The Bar
                                                                                                              5. Believer
                                                                                                              6. I Do It To Myself
                                                                                                              7. Disinfect
                                                                                                              8. Summer '92
                                                                                                              9. Fire
                                                                                                              10. Gabrielle

                                                                                                              95 - Stephen Fretwell

                                                                                                              Busy Guy

                                                                                                                After an absence of 13 years Stephen Fretwell has announced news of his long-awaited third album, Busy Guy, released via Speedy Wunderground. Described by Fretwell as “a song cycle of sorts,” the album examines the seasons of a life, exploring fatherhood, grief and rebirth, with Fretwell’s trademark eloquence and wit.

                                                                                                                Busy Guy was produced by Fretwell’s close friend and Speedy Wunderground label boss, Dan Carey. They recorded the whole thing one hot July afternoon in just two hours. “I was so fired up, I just rattled off the songs,” Fretwell says. “I assumed it was the run-through, but Dan said he thought we’d got it.” The next day, Carey assembled “a palate of sound” involving keyboards and an electric guitar. “Dan said, ‘I’m just going to react to the songs over the next few hours’, and that’s the finished record, besides some cello.” The album title was also Carey’s idea. Fretwell explains: “Years ago, Dan asked why I always carried a copy of The Guardian, a notebook and a pen when all I did was go to the pub. I said: if you go to the pub at 11am with a newspaper, a notebook and pen, you look like a busy guy rather than a pisshead. It became a joke between us. The joke too is that I didn’t do any music for years.”

                                                                                                                The album was recorded at Dean Street Studios in Soho, not far from where Fretwell now lives, and London looms large on the record, in titles like ‘Oval’ and ‘Embankment’: stops on the Tube, and urban images shimmer as Fretwell captures a city full of pride and secrets. He wrote most of the lyrics for Busy Guy sitting in the British Library, “taking the songs to pieces and reassembling them, refining the words, thinking about the stories.”

                                                                                                                And what stories. From the album’s opener, ‘The Goshawk and the Gull’, a wintery lament shot through with foreboding, the album moves through characters and scenes, from shorelines to collapsing buildings, looping in its callbacks with panache. Fretwell is a seasoned craftsman, and this is an album that sneaks up on you; that hunts you in the listen. The themes of the record are heavyweight – the breakdown of a relationship, lost love, lost family, guilt, yearning – but there is boldness in the delivery that provides uplift to the emotional heft. Several of the songs have colours for their titles: ‘Orange’, ‘Green’, ‘Pink’, ‘Copper’. They hit like a series of fever dreams.

                                                                                                                There are moments of visceral delight, of ripeness and fullness in nature – blood, milk and honey, peaches and almonds – all set against the backdrop of the slow-burn of long-term love. Fretwell is a true poet with his imagery – taking us on a tour of the universe as he tries to conflate the experience of loss and love on a major scale, yet never wanting to assume grandeur, always dancing that fine line between statement and question. He takes us right up into the cosmos, to “moon craters” and “crazed constellations” (‘Green’), to religion’s saints and angels, and right back slap-down down to earth again – in the grotesque detail of horseflies twitching in last night’s wine glasses, and the fridge-cold lagers the narrator of ‘Pink’ has brought for the beach: a peace offering, but also an opt-out.

                                                                                                                Summer features heavily on the record, but also not-summer, a desire for summer, and, ultimately, a resignation to time passing, to the approach of spring. ‘Almond’ features Spanish guitar flares – hints of heat, of holidays past. The coast also plays a big part, no doubt due to it being the setting for much of Fretwell’s recent life in Brighton, and seabirds as well as sea animals duck and dive through the lyrics, offering levity in the album’s darker moments. There are wry takes on urban life, on white privilege, on satisfied songbirds, and never quite settling into middle-class family life.

                                                                                                                These relaxed tones, combined with the bright energy of ‘Copper’ break into the harder beats of ‘Almond’, where “the sun tries, but it can’t get through” and summer starts to lose all its shine and expression itself seems under threat. “A love song is croaking,” he sings. ‘Almond’ tells the story of a relationship, from meet-cute to heartbreak, packed in a bittersweet little nutshell. “‘Almond’ dips in and out of a relationship I had over 20 years, from fumbling around in a doorway to having a child,” says Fretwell. Words weave and tangle in the album’s latter songs, a mind and life unravelling, a descent to the gut-punch moment, spelled out in the album’s final song, ‘Green’.

                                                                                                                But it’s not an ending so much as the beginning of the cycle all over again. While Busy Guy acknowledges tragedy, it is also punctuated with hope. The narrator of ‘Embankment’ might beg for his body to be dragged from the water, but his heart is still beating. Busy Guy is a record that dips into darkness but ultimately shines in its own light. A record that symbolises a waking up. A fresh start. A newness that bears the weight of the past but uses it to great effect.

                                                                                                                STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                                                Barry says: There's a certain indescribable organic feel to the way 'Busy Guy' is produced, it's not that the instrumentation isn't beautifully recorded (it is) or that the sounds don't fit together perfectly (they absolutely do), but the gorgeous intimacy of the pieces and the unhurried stagger to every piece on show gives it the languid, swooning feel of a folk record with the melodic appeal of classic rock. Stunning.

                                                                                                                TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                                1. The Goshawk And The Gull
                                                                                                                2. Remember
                                                                                                                3. Embankment
                                                                                                                4. Oval
                                                                                                                5. The Long Water
                                                                                                                6. Orange
                                                                                                                7. Pink
                                                                                                                8. Copper
                                                                                                                9. Almond
                                                                                                                10. Green

                                                                                                                Multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, producer, and songwriter Jordan Rakei returns with his fourth studio album, "What We Call Life’". Diving even deeper into his sound world, merging electronic with acoustic, and rugged grooves with ambient atmospheres, to create something richer, more detailed, and more textural than before. Rakei, already a practitioner of meditation and mindfulness, was curious about the potential of using therapy for further self-discovery. During the process, he began to learn more about his behaviour patterns and anxieties, and addressed his long-standing irrational phobia of birds – a fear often associated with the unpredictable and the unknown, and something explored in the album’s creative direction and visuals.

                                                                                                                ‘What We Call Life’ is Jordan Rakei’s most vulnerable and intimate album to date. Its lyrics concern the lessons that the New Zealand-born, Australia-raised, and London-based artist learned about himself during therapy, a journey that began two years ago when he started reading about the ‘positive psychology’ movement. These themes manifest on songs like lead single “Family”, which Rakei says is “the most personal” he’s ever been with his lyrics. “I wanted to hit my vulnerability barrier and be really honest. It’s about my parents’ divorce in my mid-teens but still having love for them no matter what,” he explains.

                                                                                                                Artwork was created by Canadian-born, Los Angeles-based visual artist Justin Tyler Close (who has worked previously with the likes of Laura Marling), who resonated with the themes on Rakei’s album. The image was created in a remote photo shoot, with Rakei sending images over the internet that were projected onto a sheet and photographed by Close. The melancholic images reflect the title of the record, a question that Rakei would sometimes ask himself during a period of his childhood in which he suffered a great deal of anxiety: Is this what we call life? Rather than accepting defeat, the title is today a commentary on the more happy, confident, and assured person and artist that Jordan Rakei is today

                                                                                                                STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                                                Millie says: Jordan Rakei fourth album is highly anticipated here at Piccadilly, the album explores themes worn close to Rakei’s sleeve. Personal and moving, the track ‘Family’ is so beautiful and soulful.

                                                                                                                TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                                A1. Family
                                                                                                                A2. Send My Love
                                                                                                                A3. Illusion
                                                                                                                A4. Unguarded
                                                                                                                A5. Clouds
                                                                                                                B1. What We Call Life
                                                                                                                B2. Runaway
                                                                                                                B3. Wings
                                                                                                                B4. Brace
                                                                                                                B5. The Flood

                                                                                                                97 - The Liminanas / Laurent Garnier

                                                                                                                De Pelicula

                                                                                                                  The psychedelic garage duo The Liminanas and French techno pioneer DJ/producer Laurent Garnier have now produced together “De Pelicula”.

                                                                                                                  The result is neither a Limiñanas techno record nor a Laurent Garnier rock album. It is a record that feels like a walk on the wild side, one straight out of a film noir that was spawned from the need to write music that tells a story and rattles all traditional patterns in a (super)sonic trance.

                                                                                                                  A heated road-trip spent chasing Juliette and Saul, two teenage rascals straight out of a ‘60s classic - think “Breathless” (original title: A bout de Souffle) meets Sailor and Lula - balancing on the southern border with Spain, knocked out by the heat and cheap liquor.

                                                                                                                  STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                                                  Barry says: What a weird and wonderful mixture this is. The Liminanas' psychedelic groove works perfectly here with Garnier's propulsive electronics, with the end result being both wildly psychedelic and wonderfully focused. A superb, soaring trip of a record.

                                                                                                                  TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                                  1. Saul
                                                                                                                  2. Je Rentrais Par Le Bois … Bb
                                                                                                                  3. Juliette Dans La Caravane
                                                                                                                  4. Que Calor !
                                                                                                                  5. Promenades Obliques
                                                                                                                  6. Tu Tournes En Boucle
                                                                                                                  7. Steeplechase
                                                                                                                  8. Juliette
                                                                                                                  9. Ne Gâche Pas L'aventure Humaine
                                                                                                                  10. Au Début C'était Le Début
                                                                                                                  11. Saul S'est Fait Planter

                                                                                                                  98 - Wild Billy Childish & CTMF

                                                                                                                  Where The Wild Purple Iris Grows

                                                                                                                    New album from CTMF! On CD, digital and black vinyl LP! Billy Childish - Musician, poet, painter and writer shows no sign of slowing down. The last twelve months have seen him record a “career in a year” with The William Loveday Intention, battle off a debilitating COVID infection and revisit his punk roots with CTMF

                                                                                                                    STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                                                    Barry says: The always prolific Childish returns for another storming LP of fuzzed-out punk and jilted rock and/or roll. Screaming guitars segue into jangling rhythmic sections, brilliantly epitomising the melodic duality of this hugely influential character.

                                                                                                                    TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                                    1 – Where The Wild Purple Iris Grows
                                                                                                                    2 – Mystery Song
                                                                                                                    3 – Ballad Of Hollis Brown
                                                                                                                    4 – She Was Wearing Tangerine
                                                                                                                    5 – Pluma Dorada
                                                                                                                    6 – Come Into My Life
                                                                                                                    7 – Train Kept A Rollin'
                                                                                                                    8 – You Can't Capture Time (Slight Return)
                                                                                                                    9 – You Say That You Love Me
                                                                                                                    10 – Tunnel Of Love
                                                                                                                    11 – Mouldy Fig
                                                                                                                    12 – The Same Tree

                                                                                                                    99 - Big Red Machine

                                                                                                                    How Long Do You Think It's Gonna Last?

                                                                                                                      Ever since childhood, learning to play various instruments in a suburban Cincinnati basement alongside his brother Bryce, Aaron Dessner has consistently sought an emotional outlet and deep human connection through music — be it as a primary songwriter in The National, a founder and architect of beloved collaboration-driven music festivals, or collaborator on two critically acclaimed and chart-topping Taylor Swift albums recorded in complete pandemic-era isolation at his Long Pond Studio in upstate New York, among many other projects. Through it all, Dessner has brought together an unlikely community of musicians that share his impulse to connect, celebrate and, most of all, process emotion and experience through music. This generous spirit and desire to push music forward has never been more deeply felt than on Big Red Machine’s “How Long Do You Think It’s Gonna Last?,” the second album from Dessner’s evermorphing project with Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon. In 2008, while assembling material for the charity compilation “Dark Was the Night,” Dessner sent Vernon a song sketch titled “big red machine”. Vernon interpreted “big red machine” as a beating heart and finished the song accordingly — a metaphor Dessner says “still sticks with me today.

                                                                                                                      This project goes to many places and is always on some level about experimentation, but it shines a light on why I make music in the first place, which is an emotional need. It’s one of my therapies and one of the ways I interrogate the past.” Released in 2018, Big Red Machine’s self-titled debut album evolved from improvisation and what Dessner calls “structured experimentalism,” with an ear toward building tracks that would work well in a live setting alongside visual elements. When Dessner and Vernon started the Eaux Claires Music Festival in 2015, they staged the original “Big Red Machine” as an improvisation-based performance piece. They later took that show to the PEOPLE collective’s Berlin residency and festival, and to Dessner’s Haven Festival in Copenhagen. “Big Red Machine started as this thing we would do for fun, and we fell in love with the feeling of it,” says Dessner.” Vernon agrees: “I remember it feeling really easy, but we never knew what would happen. It was exciting. As time went on, we just kept doing things together. And our friendship has grown strong, alongside all the collaborative stuff.”

                                                                                                                      STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                                                      Barry says: It won't be a gigantic surprise i'm sure, to hear that Big Red Machine's newest LP is as stunningly accomplished and wonderfully listenable as it's long list of collaborators would suggest. Brimming with beautiful folk charm and uncompromising melodic direction, there's very few people who wouldn't find something to enjoy here.

                                                                                                                      TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                                      1. Latter Days (feat. Anaïs Mitchell)
                                                                                                                      2. Reese
                                                                                                                      3. Phoenix (feat. Fleet Foxes And Anaïs Mitchell)
                                                                                                                      4. Birch (feat. Taylor Swift
                                                                                                                      5. Renegade (feat. Taylor Swift)
                                                                                                                      6. The Ghost Of Cincinnati
                                                                                                                      7. Hoping Then
                                                                                                                      8. Mimi (feat. Ilsey)
                                                                                                                      9. Easy To Sabotage (feat. Naeem)
                                                                                                                      10. Hutch (feat. Sharon Van Etten, Lisa Hannigan And SharaNova [My Brightest Diamond])
                                                                                                                      11. 8:22am (feat. La Force)
                                                                                                                      12. Magnolia
                                                                                                                      13. June’s A River (feat. Ben Howard And This Is The Kit
                                                                                                                      14. Brycie
                                                                                                                      15. New Auburn (feat. Anaïs Mitchell)

                                                                                                                      100 - St. Vincent

                                                                                                                      Daddy's Home

                                                                                                                        Fifth studio album by the American musician, produced by pop producer and long-term collaborator Jack Antonoff and featuring the single 'Pay Your Way in Pain'. 'I was inspired by the classic records of the '70s. Stevie, Sly, Stones, Steely Dan, Chords, Groove. The days when sophisticated harmony and rhythm didn't sound heady - they just sounded, and felt good. Lots of guitar. But warm sounds, not distortion and chaos. Hopefully a turn nobody will see coming' - Annie Clark.

                                                                                                                        STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                                                        Barry says: 'Daddy's Home' mixes Clark's keen, rawkous production aesthetic with an undeniable nod to 70's rock, and displays an ongoing mastery of her craft.

                                                                                                                        TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                                        CD Tracklisting:
                                                                                                                        01. Pay Your Way In Pain
                                                                                                                        02. Down And Out Downtown
                                                                                                                        03. Daddy’s Home
                                                                                                                        04. Live In The Dream
                                                                                                                        05. The Melting Of The Sun
                                                                                                                        06. Humming Interlude 1
                                                                                                                        07. The Laughing Man
                                                                                                                        08. Down
                                                                                                                        09. Humming Interlude 2
                                                                                                                        10. Somebody Like Me
                                                                                                                        11. My Baby Wants A Baby
                                                                                                                        12. …At The Holiday Party
                                                                                                                        13. Candy Darling
                                                                                                                        14. Humming Interlude 3

                                                                                                                        Vinyl Tracklisting:
                                                                                                                        The Interlude Tracks Are Not Credited On The Vinyl, Although The Interludes Do Still Appear On The Disc Itself
                                                                                                                        01. Pay Your Way In Pain
                                                                                                                        02. Down And Out Downtown
                                                                                                                        03. Daddy’s Home
                                                                                                                        04. Live In The Dream
                                                                                                                        05. The Melting Of The Sun
                                                                                                                        06. The Laughing Man
                                                                                                                        07. Down
                                                                                                                        08. Somebody Like Me
                                                                                                                        09. My Baby Wants A Baby
                                                                                                                        10. …At The Holiday Party
                                                                                                                        11. Candy Darling

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