Welcome to the Piccadilly Records End Of Year Review 2022 albums of the year, and what an amazing year it's been for music. Dip in and see for yourselves!!

Check out these links to see our other Best Of 2022 Charts:
Click HERE for the Piccadilly Top 20 Compilations 2022
Click HERE for the Piccadilly Top 20 Reissues/Collections 2022
Piccadilly Records Compilation 2022
Vinyl fans rejoice! We’re delighted to announce that we’re once again, after a year’s hiatus, releasing a EOY compilation LP.
On classic black vinyl at the bargain price of £11.99!
Released on December 9th the
'Piccadilly Records Compilation 2022' is available to order here now.
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 - Michael Head & The Red Elastic Band

Dear Scott - Piccadilly Exclusive Bonus Disc Edition


    For a limited period only, buy either the CD or vinyl you’ll get an exclusive 14 track CD bonus disc, 'Live At Strathaven'.

    Finding that luck, love and letting things roll works out for him just fine, Michael Head leads his Red Elastic Band into a fresh chapter with optimism and some of the best music of his career, releases his, Bill Ryder-Jones-produced album, Dear Scott.  

    Revered by heavyweight songwriting peers and discovered by new generations of discerning listeners, all enraptured by the fruits of Head’s winding, 40-year career, the Liverpool singer-songwriter enters a new age of creativity and collaboration with Dear Scott. Promising to be a shimmering jewel cast by the minds and hearts of Merseyside’s finest musicians, the 12-track album is dusted with both Ryder-Jones’ artistry and the heavyweight musicianship of The Red Elastic Band, which Head found had ‘stepped up’ following almost a year apart, forcing him to dig deeper himself.

    Of slipping back into writing and recording in 2021, Head continues: “After being apart for a while, I went for a walk on the beach with the band and it was beautiful, literally and personally. Rehearsals followed and it clicked into place, with one thing leading to the next. It’s very much the ethos we’re working by, keeping things simple, but keeping the momentum. I’d met Bill a few times and he’s a lovely guy. Once we knew he was interested in producing the album we didn’t need to think about it again, it just progressed and became a completely natural thing.”

    Dear Scott refers to novelist, F. Scott Fitzgerald, whose debt-ridden, down-and-out years captured the imagination of Head, specifically a postcard Fitzgerald addressed to himself upon checking in at Hollywood’s infamous Golden Age retreat, The Garden Of Allah Hotel. Head explains: “A decade after being the king of the jazz age, Fitzgerald arrived unfashionable and sober, ready to conquer Hollywood. His agent with a sense of humour booked him into The Garden Of Allah, where writers, movie stars and even Stravinsky sometimes lived. He famously picked up a postcard on checking in and addressed it to himself.”

    The postcard read: Dear Scott, How are you? Have been meaning to come and see you. I have living at the Garden Of Allah. Yours Scott Fitzgerald

    Head states that the formation of The Red Elastic Band in 2008 began with ‘whoever was available at the time’, primarily as a vehicle for live performance, producing one, previous album in 2017’s Adiós Señor Pussycat. The band has since developed into a cohesive, mutually-supportive and permanent line-up, with Phil Murphy on drums, Tom Powell on bass, Danny Murphy on guitars and Nathaniel Cummins on guitars and backing vocals being the musicians taking on the world in 2022 alongside Head. 


    Andy says: Dear Scott is a masterpiece. Twelve perfect songs with melodies to die for and words that feel like scenes from a film condensed into poetry. Michael Head is the Liverpudlian genius renowned for his classic pop songs from “Thank You” and “Jean’s Not Happening” through to “Comedy” and “Meant To Be”. Forty years making music and he’s just made his joint best LP, one that if you’re into guitar based pop music you’d be daft to ignore.

    It’s not always been like this. In a career buffeted by personal problems and dodgy deals it has taken the arrival of erstwhile Coral guitarist Bill Ryder Jones, a fellow Merseysider and huge fan, to draw the very best out of Mick. Bill has helped create what feels like a greatest hits LP but made up of brand new songs. There’s jangling indie pop, jazz, mystical folk, roving psych pop and even a splash of bossa, taking us right back to Mick's days as a teen star in the Pale Fountains! As I mentioned, each track is a short story or mini movie touching on the kindness of strangers, old Hollywood dreams, the futility of war, Liverpool trips, Love from afar and even a murder in gangland made wild and funky on album highlight “Gino And Rico”.

    The tunes themselves are proper ear worms and the album is designed as an old fashioned two sided listen. Side 1 has six perfect pop songs, hit after hit, but flip it over and you’re whisked off into what almost feels like a song suite, interspersed as they are with towering strings, mad interludes (each track has contrasting parts that surprise and amaze) and psych rock guitar; it’s bewildering but oh so beautiful and it grows and grows with every listen. The record starts off neat but slowly expands into the stratosphere only to end on a heavenly lullaby, melancholic and magical.

    Mick’s other great album, Waterpistol, was loved by all at Piccadilly nearly 30 years ago. That we’re here again all these years later is bizarre and brilliant.


    A1 Kismet
    A2 Broken Beauty
    A3 The Next Day
    A4 Freedom
    A5 American Kid
    A6 Grace And Eddie
    B7 Fluke
    B8 Gino And Rico
    B9 The Grass
    B10 The Ten
    B11 Pretty Child
    B12 Shirls Ghost 

    2 - Danger Mouse & Black Thought

    Cheat Codes

      Unbelievable to think that this is Danger Mouse’s first hip-hop album proper since the 2005 collaboration with MF Doom (“DangerDOOM”). Not only that, it’s the first and only time The Roots’ Black Thought has worked with anyone else!

      Brian Joseph Burton has, of course, been keeping busy. 2011 and 2019 saw acclaimed collabs with Daniele Lupi and Karen O respectively, whilst production duties with Gnarls Barkley and Gorillaz have seen him achieve platinum success and global adoration.

      With Tariq Trotter (Black Thought) we find the producer’s freewheeling and uplifting yet gritty production paired beautifully with the rapper’s relentless, chorus-free lyrical deluge. Visceral boom-bap with myriad samples moulded into an anthemic, underground and intoxicating concoction that fans of old school hip-hop are gonna go nuts for. Black Thought’s razor sharp flow and insightful observations keep you hooked, multiple listens revealing their lyrical genius whilst the plethora of other celebrity guest vocalists also turn out award winning, stellar performances. Danger Mouse’s beat tapestries rival Madlib and Apollo Brown’s – the two comparable beatsmiths that jump to mind when I first heard the record. Yet don’t be thinking that Brian’s ripping anyone’s style – these unforced yet rugged instrumentals seem to burst out of the MPC with their own vivacity. As soon we heard it we knew it’d be one of the best hip-hop albums of the year.


      Matt says: The long awaited return of Danger Mouse and with The Roots' Black Thought plus a host of other rap celebrities he's only gone and turned out what might possibly be hip-hop album of 2022. Authentic boom-bap, conscious lyrics, well dug samples - this one's got it all for that old skool hip-hop fanatic. Check!


      Side 1
      1. Sometimes
      2. Cheat Codes (Explicit)
      3. The Darkest Part (feat. Raekwon And Kid Sister)
      4. No Gold Teeth (Explicit)
      5. Because (feat. Joey Bada$$, Russ, And Dylan Cartlidge) (Explicit)
      6. Belize (feat. MF DOOM) (Explicit)
      Side 2
      1. Aquamarine (feat. Michael Kiwanuka)
      2. Identical Deaths
      3. Strangers (feat. A$AP Rocky And Run The Jewels) (Explicit)
      4. Close To Famous Explicit
      5. Saltwater (feat. Conway The Machine) (Explicit)
      6. Violas And Lupitas (Explicit)

      3 - The Orielles


        The Orielles have created their first genuinely contemporary record – an experimental double album self-produced in collaboration with producer Joel Anthony Patchett (King Krule, Tim Burgess). In doing so, the Orielles have utilised holistic jazz practices, oblique 21st century electronica, experimental 1960s tape loop methods, otherworldly AutoTuned vocal sounds, the downer dub of Burial, Sonic Youth’s focus on improvisation and feedback, and Brian Eno’s legendary Oblique Strategy cards.


        Chromo I
        Chromo II
        The Instrument
        The Improvisation 001
        Some Day Later
        Darkened Corners
        Honfleur Remembered
        To Offer, To Erase
        The Room
        By Its Light
        Drawn And Defined

        4 - TVAM

        High Art Lite

          TVAM self-released his much-acclaimed debut Psychic Data in the autumn of 2018, something of a cult-classic, the album joined the dots between Suicide’s deconstructed rock ’n’ roll, Boards of Canada’s irresistible nostalgia and My Bloody Valentine’s infinite noise. Psychic Data spawned an ‘Album Of The Day’ at BBC 6Music whilst signature tune ‘Porsche Majeure’ featured in HBO’s smash-hit ‘Succession’.

          Fast forward the VCR to 2022, High Art Lite takes a different tilt to its predecessor by emphasising the immediate and the personal.The colours are blown-out and the brightness is cranked up.TVAM’s take on role models, fictional movie character tropes, and fables of good and evil, are all tackled with the same suspicious cynicism but this time with an urgent belief in the human condition.

          A heady mix of Black Mirror’s modern fables, JG Ballard’s gated communities of sun-drenched wealth, and Mulholland Drive’s boulevard of broken daydreams, High Art Lite offers an all-inclusive package of redemption.

          High Art Lite is the first-ever Dinked Edition collaboration with Invada Records.


          Side A
          Future Flesh
          Every Day In Every Way
          Club Nautico (Part 1)
          Piz Buin
          Double Lucifer
          Shallow Ends
          Side B
          Say Anything
          Club Nautico (Part 2)
          High Art Lite

          5 - Jockstrap

          I Love You Jennifer B

            London-based duo Jockstrap (Georgia Ellery and Taylor Skye) will release their hotly-anticipated debut full-length record I Love You Jennifer B via Rough Trade Records.

            Commenting on the album release, Jockstrap’s Georgia Ellery and Taylor Skye said: “I Love You Jennifer B is a collection of Jockstrap tracks that have been 3 years in the making. Everything on it is pretty singular sounding so we hope there is a track on there for everyone and something that speaks to you and says ‘I’m a banger.’” Skye added of ‘Glasgow’ (their new single): “‘Glasgow’ is our coming of age, moving forward, long-distance, travelling, beautiful bosk, wonderful thicket song.” And Ellery said of the song’s subject: “Glasgow is a great city, perhaps my favourite in the UK! Only downside is that it’s so damn cold all the time.”

            When Georgia Ellery and Taylor Skye make music as Jockstrap, the process and result has one definition: pure modern pop alchemy. With their debut album I Love You Jennifer B, Jockstrap will cement themselves as one of the most vital young groups to emerge from London’s melting pot of musical cultures in years.

            TRACK LISTING

            Jennifer B
            Greatest Hits
            What’s It All About?
            Concrete Over Water
            Lancaster Court
            50/50 (Extended)

            6 - Wet Leg

            Wet Leg

              Debut LP from college buddies Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers who’s rapid ascent has seen them go from playing a handful of gigs pre-lockdown, to being name checked by Iggy Pop and ranked No. 2 in the BBC’s Sound Of 2022.

              Surely everyone has heard their debut single Chaise Longue by now? It catapulted this Isle Of Wight duo into our consciousness during lock down and was followed by a handful of smart, hook filled pop songs that have made this LP one of the most anticipated debuts of the year. And it doesn’t disappoint!

              Their half sung half spoken vocals deliver witty, brazen takes on navigating the ups and downs of modern life. There’s a definite nod to the 90s their sound: Angelica’s dead pan vocals and meandering bass bring to mind Elastica while Being In Love recalls the bitter sweet, dreamy pop of Lush and there’s a smattering of The Breeders in their more up beat songs. Combining this love of 90s indie-pop with a playful, anything goes attitude, they’ve created one of the most exciting debuts of the year.

              TRACK LISTING

              SIDE A
              1 Being In Love
              2 Chaise Longue (Vinyl Version)
              3 Angelica
              4 I Don't Wanna Go Out
              5 Wet Dream
              6 Convincing

              SIDE B
              1 Loving You
              2 Ur Mum
              3 Oh No
              4 Piece Of Shit
              5 Supermarket
              6 Too Late Now

              7 - Nilüfer Yanya


                Painless is the follow-up to Nilüfer Yanya’s renowned 2019 debut album Miss Universe, which fully established her as a singular artist and a distinctive voice that simply has to be heard. The critically acclaimed Miss Universe - a widescreen concept record that took a tongue in cheek swipe at the most self-involved corners of the health and wellness industry - was followed last year by the three song EP Feeling Lucky?, which further explored Yanya’s fascination with ‘90s alt-rock melodies and drew on themes of resentment, her fear of flying, and the concept of luck. Pitchfork summed up Feeling Lucky? and her now peerless songwriting aptitude best: “Nilüfer Yanya’s melodies have a pull so strong they almost necessitate their own law of physics.” Yanya also re-released her early EPs on vinyl for the first time this year on the record Inside Out. The release is a fundraiser for Artists in Transit, a collaborative not for profit group she founded with her sister Molly that delivers art workshops to displaced people and communities in times of hardship.

                As the daughter of two visual artists (her Irish-Barbadian mother is a textile designer and her Turkish-born father’s work is exhibited at the British Museum) creativity was always destined for Nilüfer Yanya’s future. Now she enters the next stage of her creative journey, Yanya is running head first into the depths of emotional vulnerability on her sophomore record Painless. The album was recorded between a basement studio in Stoke Newington and Riverfish Music in Penzance with Miss Universe collaborator and producer Wilma Archer, DEEK Recordings founder Bullion, Big Thief producer Andrew Sarlo, and musician Jazzi Bobbi.

                Where Miss Universe stretched musical boundaries to include a litany of styles from smooth jazz melodies to radio ready pop, Painless takes a more direct sonic approach. By narrowing down her previously broad palette to a handful of robust ideas that revolve around melancholy harmonies and looped industrial beats to mimic the insular focus of the lyrics, Yanya has smoothed out the idiosyncrasies of previous releases without losing what is essential to her.

                Painless is a record that forces the listener to sit with the discomfort that accompanies so many of life’s biggest challenges whether it be relationship breakdowns, coping with loneliness, or the search for our inner self. “It's a record about emotion,” Yanya explains. “I think it's more open about that in a way that Miss Universe wasn't because there's so many cloaks and sleeves with the concept I built around it.” She adds, summing up the ethos of the new album, “I'm not as scared to admit my feelings”.

                STAFF COMMENTS

                Barry says: Poppy melodies, clashing percussion and Yanya's unmistakeable voice weave around each-other, sometimes hinting at the vocal rhythms of R&B, but much more akin to a stylistic mix of electronic indie and scattered art-rock.

                TRACK LISTING

                1. The Dealer
                2. L/R
                3. Shameless
                4. Stabilise
                5. Chase Me
                6. Midnight Sun
                7. Trouble
                8. Try
                9. Company
                10. Belong With You
                11. The Mystic
                12. Anotherlife

                8 - Yard Act

                The Overload

                  Formed in 2019, Yard Act began life when friends Ryan Needham (Bass) and James Smith (Vocals) started creating minimalist rock tracks using a primitive drum machine and borrowed bass guitar. Later drafting in George Townend on drums, and Sammy Robinson on guitars whom they met at their spiritual home The Brudenell Social Club / Leeds

                  After a handful of singles, Leeds' Yard Act drop their hugely anticipated debut album. ‘The Overload’ is a record of great dexterity and curation, the output of a band who were raised on a 00s digital-revolution buffet of wide musical influences. Growing up on US MTV Hip-Hop, minimal 70s No-Wave and sharp-witted British indie, Yard Act benefit from this rich tapestry of musical near-history, using it to create something that feels like more than a trendy pastiche.

                  In a world of great polarity, nuance is normally the answer. We may shame and bicker and amplify our outrage, but at the core of it all, we’re all still inhabitants of the same ecosystem, most of us trying to tow the delicate line between empathy and self-preservation. If nothing and no-one is purely good nor evil, true societal improvement can only come from recognizing some kind of middle ground.

                  In many ways, Yard Act is a project that exists through the fusion of seemingly opposing entities. Old friends in a new band, they seek out shades of socio-political grey, imbibing their stories with sharp, satirical spoken-word humour. Spearheaded by James Smith (vocals) and Ryan Needham (bass), the now four-piece, completed by Sam Shjipstone (guitar) and Jay Russell (drums), have built a sound that speaks inherently to their birthplace of Leeds, West Yorkshire, and yet ties together observations from all walks of modern British life – the small-town bloke in the local pub, the anti-capitalist stuck at a desk job, the tired activist in all of us torn between easy complicity and the desire to fight. Their sound and ethos might be progressive, but it’s not about pointing fingers so much as opening eyes.

                  “Lyrically, I think it’s a record about the things that we all do - we're all so wired into the system of day to day that we don't really stop and think about the constructs that define us,” says Smith. “But also beyond that, it's kind of exciting, because there’s still so much we don’t understand; how a hive mindset is forged, how information spreads, how we agree and presume things without thinking. Some people think more than others, but a lot of this sloganeering - 'I'm on the left, I'm not wrong' - doesn't achieve anything. Gammons, Karens, Snowflakes, whatever – I find it all so boring. I'm just not into that.”

                  What Yard Act are into is ideas. Having grown from relatively casual pub acquaintances to housemates, Smith and Needham found living together to be conducive to a high work rate, racking up demos in quick succession. Settling into a system of programming, looping and layering, the alchemy between the two created a base from which to build their narrative world. “Ryan is a vibe guy, whereas I overthink everything,” laughs Smith. “It’s been the greatest creative partnership I've ever had. When you find a groove that works, it just kind of looks after itself.”

                  With just three hometown shows under their belt, world events intervened. But rather than letting the pandemic derail them Yard Act set up their own imprint, Zen F.C. and across the course of 2020 and into early 2021 released four increasingly coruscating, hilariously dark singles with ‘The Trapper’s Pelts’, ‘Fixer Upper’, ‘Peanuts’ and Dark Days’ all securing BBC 6Music play, and despite the circumstances developing a remarkable, ever increasing fanbase.

                  “One of the first reasons we started the band, before anything even took off, was to play live because we had fun playing live,” says Smith. “but very quickly, we realised that we just loved writing songs, and writing songs isn't just about jamming in a room and writing those long noodly songs. It’s a massive cliché, but we've always been influenced by pop music, and finding a way to present it in a way that feels like ‘us’. The more people reacted to the spoken word thing, the more we felt encouraged; you can kind of hear how it gets more and more ridiculous as the singles came out. Positive reinforcement is how you explore and push the strongest bits to the extreme. And our extreme is just me talking loads — I'll talk until the track runs out!

                  Far from the self-indulgent bluster that Smith jokes about, ‘The Overload’ is a record of great dexterity and curation, the output of a band who were raised on a 00s digital-revolution buffet of wide musical influences. Growing up on US MTV Hip-Hop, minimal 70s No-Wave and sharp-witted British indie, Yard Act benefit from this rich tapestry of musical near-history, using it to create something that feels like more than a trendy pastiche. “There are generations of digital crate-diggers now that just absolutely love music and know how to navigate it,” says Smith. “Old music becomes new music. It's made everyone less worried about the now I think.”

                  While time-travelling in parts sonically, ‘The Overload’ weaves a very-2021 storyline. The group made the decision early on to leave ‘Fixer Upper’ and ‘Dark Days’ off their album debut (“it sounds arrogant, but we felt we had enough good songs without ‘em”), but the joyous specificity of their early lyrical observation is still in fine evidence, plotting a visceral, satirical journey through capitalism and greed. Across the album’s 11 tracks, an unnamed character – a bricolage of characters that Smith has met, imagined, or himself been – finds himself in quite the financial pickle, ricocheting from desk job to desperate illicit activity to police investigation, before culminating in the kind of half-cut personal epiphany that even the most law-abiding among us could relate to. Bookended by cheeky cameo’s from ‘Fixer Upper’s' Graeme and a clear structure of four parts, there is no getting around it — Yard Act have written a soap opera.

                  “At Ryan's insistence, the record was actually called ‘Yard Act The Musical’ for a long time, but I've got a really weird relationship with musicals, as in I fucking hate them,” deadpans Smith. “I don’t want to overthink it, but I do like concept albums, and I do think stuff works better when it's given time to be gestated and let people pick at lyrics and think what they mean.”

                  “We had about six standout tracks when we started thinking about an album, and from those, I saw a theme of money and capitalism, a sort of mockery of it. It's basically just a man in their late 20s, early 30s, who's always tried to fight against the system, stood up for things that they believe in and had a very strong moral compass. But it kind of crushes them in as many ways as it makes them happy – you sacrifice your beliefs for a life of comfortability, and still have to carry the burden of that decision.”

                  For a record of some potential heaviness, a dark sense of humour is integral. The record’s title track – its opener — plays like a raucous spaghetti western-themed night at the Hacienda, while ‘Land Of The Blind’s loose-swinging bass and jabbing guitars gives acerbic pace to its sordid tale of financial exploitation. The influence of post-punk is apparent, but the shackles of ‘authenticity’ have been shaken loose - “I think we could all feel that this post-punk thing was getting tired; ‘Land Of The Blind’ felt like quite a pivotal song in switching us away from what people thought we were.”

                  Even through Smith’s openly cynical lens, the world isn’t an entirely cruel and hopeless place. As our character finds themselves in the reflective epitaph of the final three songs, they explore how they might have come to be; the narcissistic peers they grew up with (‘Tall Poppies’), the Friday nights setting the world to intoxicated rights (synth-tinged “Pour Another’), and then ‘100% Endurance’, a poignant, emotional release which finds some kind of freedom in the futility of it all, an opportunity rather than an oppression; “It’s all so pointless/ But it’s not though is it?” As a closer, it’s entirely pivotal for the juxtaposition they’re trying to achieve.

                  “When that came right at the end of the record, it felt like it really completed it by sounding different to the rest .” says Smith. “It’s a little bit like a slip of the mask, which felt really important after a record of me being quite sarcastic, which I’m quite good at. It feels a bit like a gateway to where we can go.”

                  Pulling off a debut album in a pandemic isn’t easy, but somehow, Yard Act have made it work. Recording with Ali Chant (PJ Harvey, Perfume Genius, Aldous Harding) at his Bristol studio, those prolific demos have been sharpened down into something that speaks to the times we live in, creating a statement of intent that survives on nuance – a record of retro influences, recorded in a modern way, that manages to poke fun at society without punching down from a place of lefty superiority. ‘The Overload’ is a political record, but in the same way that all great observations of human nature are – a messy, complex, knowingly hypocritical snapshot of our current state of play.

                  “I just hope it makes people laugh at the peculiarities of human nature,” says Smith. “The world feels very heavy at the moment; it has done for a while, and when bad things happen, the weight of the world makes you panic, you want to change everything like flipping a switch. But that's not how it works. All you can do is plant seeds. I don’t think good and bad really exists, and I don't think you can change people's minds any other way.

                  “So that's what I hope, but I also just hope people can just enjoy it. And I hope it lasts. I hope people like the detail - I think we can learn a lot about each other through an observational smirk. Jenessa Williams

                  TRACK LISTING

                  Vinyl Tracklist:
                  Side A
                  A 1. The Overload
                  2. Dead Horse
                  3. Payday
                  4. Rich
                  5. The Incident
                  6. Witness (Can I Get A?)
                  Side B
                  7. Land Of The Blind
                  8. Quarantine The Sticks
                  9. Tall Poppies
                  10. Pour Another
                  11. 100% Endurance

                  CD Tracklist:
                  1. The Overload
                  2. Dead Horse
                  3. Payday
                  4. Rich
                  5. The Incident
                  6. Witness (Can I Get A?)
                  7. Land Of The Blind
                  8. Quarantine The Sticks
                  9. Tall Poppies
                  10. Pour Another
                  11. 100% Endurance

                  9 - Working Men's Club

                  Fear Fear

                    Songs created in the shadow of terror and loss, but that crackle and pop with defiance Fear Fear is a record made for agitating and dancing, for heart and soul, for here, now and tomorrow. It’s a record that explores juxtaposition; that of life and death, acceptance and isolation, environment and humanity, hope and despair, the real world and the digital world. That top to bottom rigour, the complete vision is what makes the second album from Working Men’s Club such a stunning and unique achievement.

                    Their critically acclaimed self-titled debut album, released in summer 2020, was the sound of singer and songwriter Syd Minsky-Sargeant processing a teenage life in Todmorden in the Upper Calder Valley. He was 16 when he wrote some of those songs, now 20, he had to get up and out of the Valley. “The first album was mostly a personal documentation lyrically, this is a blur between personal and a third-person perspective of what was going on.” Fear Fear documents the last two years. Yes, there is bleakness – but there is also hope and empathy. “I like the contrast of it being happy, uplifting music and really dark lyrics. It’s not a minimal record, certainly compared to the first one. That’s because there’s been a lot more going on that needed to be said.”

                    Making the busy feel finessed and the dreadful feel magical – Fear Fear manages those feats, and then some. Or, as Syd Minksy-Sargeant puts it: “We just set out to make the best-sounding album we could.”

                    Fear Fear was produced by Ross Orton (Arctic Monkeys, MIA, Tricky) and recorded at Orton’s studio in Sheffield.

                    STAFF COMMENTS

                    Barry says: Working Men's Club return for one of the most anticipated follow-up LP's around. This time sees them treading similar ground to the post-punk indebted debut debut, but imbued with a more dancefloor friendly groove. It's a heady mix, and one that stands as the perfect follow-up for a band at the peak of their game.

                    TRACK LISTING

                    1 19
                    2 Fear Fear
                    3 Widow
                    4 Ploys
                    5 Cut
                    6 Rapture
                    7 Circumference
                    8 Heart Attack
                    9 Money Is Mine
                    10 The Last One

                    10 - OSEES

                    A Foul Form

                      "Osees don’t seem to mutate or morph so much as remain extraordinarily open to what moves them to do next and capable of getting music done that’s consistently good. What motivated the band to turn loose this hyperconcentrated slightly less than 22 minute burst of meteor density somewhat punkazoidal music? When it comes to the Osees, that’s at best a mediocre inquiry as they just do the next thing, genre, prevailing tastes or whatever influence might guide a lesser unit are not even a consideration. A Foul Form is a cool pivot from their 2020 studio efforts Metamorphosed, Panther Rotate and Protean Threat. A Foul Form vigorously shakes the Oseesetch a sketch clear so whatever comes next (which will probably be sooner than later) will likely be something completely different yet again. As far as a potential inspirational indicator, you might notice the final track on A Foul Form is a cover of Rudimentary Peni’s Sacrifice, which can be found on their Farce 7” released in 1982. A fitting way to blow out this rad slice." HENRY ROLLIINS.

                      Brain stem cracking scum-punk
                      recorded tersely in the basement of my home.
                      After a notoriously frustrating eon the knee-jerk song path was aggressive and hooky.
                      This is an homage to the punk bands we grew up on.
                      The weirdos and art freaks that piqued our interests and pointed us on the trail head to here/now.
                      Bad times make for strong music is something I agree with.
                      I would say that is evident by the past few years of output from the underground.
                      Transmissions have been all over the map.
                      sweeping out in the darkness looking for a foot hold.
                      A Foul From represents some of our most savage & primal instincts.
                      Fight or flight.
                      And the importance of a sense of humor in the darkest hour.
                      Nothing wrong with keeping it snappy in the meantime.
                      For fans of Rudimentary Peni, Crass, Bad Brains, Black Flag, Screamers, Abwarts, Stooges and all things aggressively tilted towards your face.
                      You can lean back but don’t flinch…it’s a brief foray into the exhausting pogo pit so stiffen your back and jerk with your knees.

                      Enjoy - JPD.

                      TRACK LISTING

                      1. Funeral Solution
                      2. Frock Block
                      3. Too Late For Suicide
                      4. A Foul Form
                      5. A Burden Snared
                      6. Scum Show
                      7. Fucking Kill Me
                      8. Perm Act
                      9. Social Butt
                      10. Sacrific

                      11 - Kendrick Lamar

                      Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers

                        Kendrick Lamar releases his first album in 5 years, 'Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers'. The prolific and political rapper has fast become a spokesperson for an entire generation; highlighting injustice, institutional racism, misogyny and a whole lot more whilst also reflecting on his own failures, weaknesses and insecurities - a poignant bard who searches for truth and change with almost every lyric.

                        Adorned in a diamond crown of thorns, Kendrick's reference to Jesus is supposedly a challenge for us all to live better, more moralistic lives. You could argue Lamar is dangerously idolized; his cult fan base taking every word as (excuse me) Gospel. But you feel, as we traverse an age of discontentment, that his timing and relevance couldn't be greater. They might cut deep, but Kendrick's messages NEED to be heard, more urgently than ever. As much as his scathing political dissections; his self musings on sex addiction, fake feminism, man's exploitation of woman & the exploitation of Black culture are painfully stark and honest.

                        Numero said that the album is comparable to a Greek tragedy. And by the end of the second disc you'll feel your psyche has certainly been tested. A mental cross country run navigating the failings and entrappings of modern society. Thankfully the rapper's unique drawl / flow and razor sharp production offer enough mellifluous elements as to save it being a chore to listen to. The unease is juxtaposed by some hefty, Jeep-bumpin beats and luxurious musical passages which I have to say, equal Little Simz recent (and as-imperative) album also released this year. A masterpiece. 

                        STAFF COMMENTS

                        Matt says: The prolific and political rapper has fast become a spokesperson for an entire generation; highlighting injustice, institutional racism, misogyny and a whole lot more whilst also reflecting on his own failures, weaknesses and insecurities - a poignant bard who searches for truth and change with almost every lyric.

                        TRACK LISTING

                        Big Steppers
                        1. United In Grief
                        2. N95
                        3. Worldwide Steppers
                        4. Die Hard Ft. Blxst & Amanda Reifer
                        5. Father Time Ft. Sampha
                        6. Rich (Interlude)
                        7. Rich Spirit
                        8. We Cry Together Ft. Taylour Paige
                        9. Purple Hearts Ft. Summer Walker & Ghostface Killah
                        Mr. Morale
                        1. Count Me Out
                        2. Crown
                        3. Silent Hill Ft. Kodak Black
                        4. Savior (Interlude)
                        5. Savior Ft. Baby Keem & Sam Dew
                        6. Auntie Diaries
                        7. Mr. Morale Ft. Tanna Leone
                        8. Mother I Sober Ft. Beth Gibbons Of Portishead
                        9. Mirror

                        12 - Confidence Man


                          In this world, nothing is certain except taxes, death and Confidence Man. They are unstoppable, unquenchable, undeniable, and if you get in their way, you’re gonna get hurt. Not even a global pandemic could stop Janet, Sugar, Reggie and Clarence from producing an album so fierce, flirty and full of anthems that you might need to sit down before you hit play. Welcome to Tilt, Confidence Man’s second album released on Friday April 1st 2022 on Heavenly Recordings.

                          Holiday, the first track to be lifted from the album and today premiered with an as you’d expect technicolour video, was an epiphany. All of a sudden it was there and somehow complete from the get go. Conceived in just a 6 hour session and born from a warped mashup of Underworld and MIA, it’s a child so wrong it’s simply perfect. If life gives you lemonade, drink it.

                          Confidence Man’s debut, Confident Music For Confident People, was one of the joys of 2018, laced with savage lyrics and rapturous melodies; a north star of euphoria in an increasingly joyless world. Since then they’ve teased us with the occasional dance-floor snack, but with their follow up album Tilt they are finally serving us the main meal.

                          “We’ve been trying for the most epic, hands up, euphoric anthem for a while and this is the first time we’ve come close… Turns out it’s pretty difficult, but nothing’s too hard for con man.” Sugar Bones circa 2021

                          “No one tells Confidence Man what to do. Who said a Holiday can’t last forever? Spend big and live free, that’s our motto. And it can be yours too. A vacation is just sunburn at premium prices but a holiday is a state of mind.” Janet Planet circa 2021

                          STAFF COMMENTS

                          Barry says: As we see from Confidence Man's newest outing, they've not calmed down any and are still bringing the same level of unfettered optimism and inimitable party spirit. Swimming with influence from dance music over the ages but coming together like a seamless entity in it's own right this is a rightful follow up to one of the best LP's of '18.

                          TRACK LISTING

                          1. Woman
                          2. Feels Like A Different Thing
                          3. What I Like
                          4. Toy Boy
                          5. Luvin U Is Easy
                          6. Holiday
                          7. Trumpet Song
                          8. Angry Girl
                          9. Push It Up
                          10. Kiss N Tell
                          11. Break It Bought It
                          12. Relieve The Pressure

                          13 - Gabriels

                          Angels & Queens - Part I

                            The first time I heard Gabriels’ Love And Hate In A Different Time, back in Autumn 2020, in the depths of lockdown, I fell in love with it instantly. It felt like such a spark of light in the gloom and it still fills me with joy every time I hear it. The question was whether they could follow that up or was it just a one off? Well finally, some two years later, they give us the answer in the shape of their debut LP (well the first half of their debut – part 2 follows next year). Angels & Queens is simply wonderful. It has the same markers as the single: Lush soul, gospel, string swells and of course that voice, but the mood is very different. It’s an album about love and loss and as such is suitably dramatic, with each song seeming like a mini masterpiece. They give a fresh take on classic soul and gospel song structures, and infuse them with strings, keys and horns, all topped with Jacob’s sublimely angelic falsetto vocal. They’ve created an album of atmospheric and absolutely compelling modern gospel blues.

                            TRACK LISTING

                            1. Angels & Queens
                            2. Taboo
                            3. Remember Me
                            4. If You Only Knew
                            5. To The Moon And Back
                            6. The Blind
                            7. Mama

                            2020’s A Hero’s Death saw Fontaines D.C. land a #2 album in the UK, receive nominations at the GRAMMYs, BRITs and Ivor Novello Awards, and sell out London’s iconic Alexandra Palace.

                            Now the band return with their third record in as many years: Skinty Fia. Used colloquially as an expletive, the title roughly translates from the Irish language into English as “the damnation of the deer”; the spelling crassly anglicized, and its meaning diluted through generations. Part bittersweet romance, part darkly political triumph - the songs ultimately form a long-distance love letter, one that laments an increasingly privatized culture in danger of going the way of the extinct Irish giant deer.

                            STAFF COMMENTS

                            Barry says: Fontaines D.C are back! The incendiary Irish quintet bring us another slab of scathing post-punk, snapping percussion and wry, political lyricism. This time sees the band draw in elements of psychedelic electronica and gothic pop while still retaining the quintessential melodic grit that made their previous outings so adored.

                            TRACK LISTING

                            1 In ár GCroíthe Go Deo
                            2 Big Shot
                            3 How Cold Love Is
                            4 Jackie Down The Line
                            5 Bloomsday
                            6 Roman Holiday
                            7 The Couple Across The Way
                            8 Skinty Fia
                            9 I Love You
                            10 Nabokov

                            15 - Kokoroko

                            Could We Be More

                              Following the huge success of 2018’s Kokoroko EP and the sensational Abusey Junction (100M streams and counting), Could We Be More is an expansive and ambitious debut album that speaks to the force of Kokoroko.

                              Each song possesses the power to evoke memories and harness the feeling of home through music: from the psychedelic, funk-laden previous single ‘Something’s Going On’ to the congregational energy of today’s track ‘We Give Thanks’, ‘Could We Be More’ fuses together the African- London synergy which so naturally underpins the heat of Kokoroko’s identity.

                              Winners of a slew of awards in the UK, Kokoroko specialise in soul shaking, horn fuelled sounds with West African roots and Inner London hues. Having played many EU Festivals including Glastonbury, Meltdown Festival, Elbjazz, & Jazz a la Villette, they are are looking forward to extending their reach further around the globe in 2022 and beyond. The band have performed on several BBC TV shows and their two Boiler Room sets have racked up almost half a million plays between them.

                              “Drawing influence from West African highlife and jazz, wellmarinated in enough polyrhythm seasoning to induce fires on the dance floors they play.” Okay Africa

                              “Afrobeat, jazz, soul and ’70s psych-leaning funk - luminescent” Cool Hunting

                              “This female-led, multicultural collective of under 30s is a vital example of not only jazz’s new form but the shape of things to come.” The Guardian

                              TRACK LISTING

                              A1. Tojo
                              A2. Blue Robe (pt.i)
                              A3. Ewà Inú
                              A4. Age Of Ascent
                              A5. Dide O
                              A6. Soul Searching
                              B1. We Give Thanks
                              B2. Those Good Times
                              B3. Reprise
                              B4. War Dance
                              B5. Interlude
                              B6. Home
                              B7. Something's Going On
                              B8. Outro
                              B9. Blue Robe (pt.ii)

                              16 - Warpaint

                              Radiate Like This

                                'Radiate Like This' - Warpaint’s much anticipated new record, not to mention their first in almost 6 years - arrives with its own very modern mythology intact, continuing the strange, brilliant, beautiful story of the band and quite neatly picking up where 'Heads Up' left off. If the previous album was the coming of age, 'Radiate Like This' presents Warpaint mk II in all their glory, a luminous coalescence of sound and vision which stubbornly belies its genesis, with the quartet of Kokal, Theresa Wayman, Stella Mozgawa and Jenny Lee Lindberg all recording their parts separately in various cities.

                                “It’s the first time we’ve ever made an album like that, but in a weird way, it made us take our time with everything”, muses Kokal. “The process felt more meditative, less rushed”. This new sense of quiet confidence can be heard all through the album, in the hushed, slow build of first single “Champion” the beguiling push pull of “Proof”, the delicate intricacy and complexity of tracks like “Melting” and the winking “Send Nudes”. It’s an album that pulsates with ideas, energy and- most crucially – gorgeous melodies. Listen on in wonder.

                                STAFF COMMENTS

                                Barry says: As is the way at the moment, Warpaint recorded their new LP in several parts, from different cities and although it sounds like a recipe for a disconnected, diparate work, in Warpaint's case it couldn't be any less true. Incendiary groove, huge percussion and their impeccable sense of melody comes shining through, it's a triumph. A great return.

                                TRACK LISTING

                                1. Champion
                                2. Hips
                                3. Hard To Tell You
                                4. Stevie
                                5. Like Sweetness
                                6. Trouble
                                7. Proof
                                8. Altar
                                9. Melting
                                10. Send Nudes

                                Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood are joined by Tom Skinner of Sons Of Kemet fame, and it's amazing how transformative his presence can be. While there are elements of the sombre avant-electronics of Radiohead (obviously), Skinner's frenetic drumming morphs the whole sound into the peripheral realms of modern Jazz. We get surprising progressions, soaring orchestration and glimmering pop all at once. As expected, a thoroughly stunning listen.

                                The 13- track album was produced and mixed by Nigel Godrich and mastered by Bob Ludwig. Tracks feature strings by the London Contemporary Orchestra and a full brass section of contempoarary UK jazz players including Byron Wallen, Theon and Nathaniel Cross, Chelsea Carmichael, Robert Stillman and Jason Yarde.

                                STAFF COMMENTS

                                Barry says: Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood are joined by Tom Skinner of Sons Of Kemet fame, and it's amazing how transformative his presence can be. While there are elements of the sombre avant-electronics of Radiohead (obviously), Skinner's frenetic drumming morphs the whole sound into the peripheral realms of modern Jazz. We get surprising progressions, soaring orchestration and glimmering pop all at once. As expected, a thoroughly stunning listen.

                                TRACK LISTING

                                Side A
                                The Same
                                The Opposite
                                You Will Never Work In Television Again

                                Side B
                                The Smoke
                                Speech Bubbles

                                Side C
                                Thin Thing
                                Open The Floodgates
                                Free In The Knowledge

                                Side D
                                A Hairdryer
                                Waving A White Flag
                                We Don’t Know What Tomorrow Brings
                                Skrting On The Surface

                                18 - Cate Le Bon


                                  Pompeii, Cate Le Bon’s sixth full-length studio album and the follow up to 2019’s Mercury nominated Reward, bears a storied title summoning apocalypse, but the metaphor eclipses any “dissection of immediacy,” says Le Bon. Not to downplay her nod to disorientation induced by double catastrophe - global pandemic plus climate emergency’s colliding ecotraumas resonate all too eerily. “What would be your last gesture?” she asks. But just as Vesuvius remains active, Pompeii reaches past the current crises to tap into what Le Bon calls “an economy of time warp” where life roils, bubbles, wrinkles, melts, hardens, and reconfigures unpredictably, like lava - or sound, rather. Like she says in the opener, “Dirt on the Bed,” Sound doesn’t go away / In habitual silence / It reinvents the surface / Of everything you touch.

                                  Pompeii is sonically minimal in parts, and its lyrics jog between self-reflection and direct address. Vulnerability, although “obscured,” challenges Le Bon’s tendencies towards irony. Written primarily on bass and composed entirely alone in an “uninterrupted vacuum,” Le Bon plays every instrument (except drums and saxophones) and recorded the album largely by herself with long-term collaborator and co-producer Samur Khouja in Cardiff, Wales. Enforced time and space pushed boundaries, leading to an even more extreme version of Le Bon's studio process – as exits were sealed, she granted herself “permission to annihilate identity.” “Assumptions were destroyed, and nothing was rejected” as her punk assessments of existence emerged.

                                  Enter Le Bon’s signature aesthetic paradox: songs built for Now miraculously germinate from her interests in antiquity, philosophy, architecture, and divinity’s modalities. Unhinged opulence rests in sonic deconstruction that finds coherence in pop structures, and her narrativity favors slippage away from meaning. In “Remembering Me,” she sings: In the classical rewrite / I wore the heat like / A hundred birthday cakes / Under one sun. Reconstituted meltdowns, eloquently expressed. This mirrors what she says about the creative process: “as a changeable element, it’s sometimes the only point of control… a circuit breaker.” She’s for sure enlightened, or at least more highly evolved than the rest of us. Hear the last stanza on the album closer, “Wheel”: I do not think that you love yourself / I’d take you back to school / And teach you right / How to want a life / But, it takes more time than you’d tender. Reprimanding herself or a loved one, no matter: it’s an end note about learning how to love, which takes a lifetime and is more urgent than ever.

                                  To leverage visionary control, Le Bon invented twisted types of discipline into her absurdist decision making. Primary goals in this project were to mimic the “religious” sensibility in one of Tim Presley’s paintings, which hung on the studio wall as a meditative image and was reproduced as a portrait of Le Bon for Pompeii’s cover. Fist across the heart, stalwart and saintly: how to make “music that sounds like a painting?” Cate asked herself. Enter piles of Pompeii’s signature synths made on favourites such as the Yamaha DX7, amongst others; basslines inspired by 1980s Japanese city pop, designed to bring joyfulness and abandonment; vocal arrangements that add memorable depth to the melodic fabric of each song; long-term collaborator Stella Mozgawa’s “jazz-thinking” percussion patched in from quarantined Australia; and Khouja’s encouraging presence.

                                  The songs of Pompeii feel suspended in time, both of the moment and instant but reactionary and Dada-esque in their insistence to be playful, satirical, and surreal. From the spirited, strutting bass fretwork of “Moderation”, to the sax-swagger of “Running Away”; a tale exquisite in nature but ultimately doomed (The fountain that empties the world / Too beautiful to hold), escapism lives as a foil to the outside world. Pompeii’s audacious tribute to memory, compassion, and mortal salience is here to stay.

                                  TRACK LISTING

                                  SIDE A
                                  1. Dirt On The Bed
                                  2. Moderation
                                  3. French Boys
                                  4. Pompeii
                                  5. Harbour
                                  SIDE B
                                  1. Running Away
                                  2. Cry Me Old Trouble
                                  3. Remembering Me
                                  4. Wheel

                                  19 - Gwenno


                                    Tresor (Treasure) is Gwenno Saunders’ third full length solo album and the second almost entirely in Cornish (Kernewek). Written in St. Ives, Cornwall, just prior to the Covid lockdowns of 2020 and completed at home in Cardiff during the pandemic along with her co-producer and musical collaborator, Rhys Edwards, Tresor reveals an introspective focus on home and self, a prescient work echoing the isolation and retreat that has been a central, global shared experience over the past two years.

                                    Tresor diverges from the stark themes of technological alienation in Y Dydd Olaf (The Final Day) and the meditations on the idea of the homeland on the slyly infectious Le Kov (The Place of Memory). Accessible and international in outlook, peppered with moments of offbeat humour, Le Kov presented Cornish to the world. The impact of Le Kov was resounding, providing for the Cornish language an unprecedented international platform that saw Gwenno touring and headlining in Europe and Australia, and supporting acts such as Suede and the Manic Street Preachers. Her performance of ‘Tir ha Mor’ on Later with Jools Hollandwas a triumph, and the album prompted wider conversations on the state of the Cornish language with Michael Portillo, Jon Snow, and Nina Nannar. After Le Kov, interest in learning Cornish hit an all-time high, and the cultural role of the language was firmly in the spotlight.

                                    On Tresor, Gwenno shifts focus from the external to the internal, and onto the journey of rediscovering oneself after the life-changing experience of becoming a mother. It is an exploration of desire, of reclaiming one's body after childbirth, of working out how to exist as yourself as well as caring first and foremost for somebody else. Inspired by powerful woman writers and artists such as Ithell Colquhoun, the Cornish language poet Phoebe Proctor, Maya Deren and Monica Sjöö, Tresor is an intimate view of the feminine interior experience, of domesticity and desire, a rare glimmer of life lived in and expressed through Cornish. Tresor evokes the waters that shape the Cornish experience, whilst being musically far reaching with influences spanning from Ryuichi Sakamoto to Eden Ahbez and William Basinski. As psychedelically tinged as her previous work, Tresor embeds found sounds ranging from Venice to Vienna, layering cultural and historical atmospheres, decoupling the use of Cornish from any geographic determinism, allowing for an expression of imaginative spaces that are truly free.

                                    It recalls the waters of the unconscious, the undulating elemental tides suggesting emotion, intuition, those features long associated with the archetypal anima. In “Anima” Gwenno asks how do we fully inhabit different parts of the self, acknowledging convergent cultural and personal histories, embracing the shadow. She explores how the power of the feminine voice inspired by the Cornish landscape asserts itself in presenting a richly melodic counterpoint to a place and people known for rugged survival and jagged edges. The title track “Tresor” (Treasure) confronts the contradictions that come with visibility as a woman and the challenges of wielding women’s power. “Tonnow” (Waves) shows the watery depths of woman’s desire and knowing, an invitation to liberation. The Welsh language track, “NY.C.A.W.” (Nid yw Cymru ar Werth - Wales is not for Sale) widens the frame outward from the personal to the collective, condemning our neoliberalist thinking and our growing passiveness to late capitalism. The album also includes the track “Kan Me” (May Song), written for “Bait” director Mark Jenkin’s new film “Enys Men”, which is scheduled for release this summer.

                                    Tresor the film, is inspired by surrealist filmmakers such as Sergei Parajanov, Agnes Varda, and Alejandro Jodorowsky, and reflects Gwenno’s growing interest in film and the intersection of music with visual components. Filmed in Wales and Cornwall, Tresor evokes a dreamworld from another time, surreal, and sensual, saturated with light and colour.

                                    Although Tresor is a project birthed from introspection and intimacy, the implications of the messages are much broader. Ultimately Gwenno is asking what are other ways of understanding and being in relation to one's self and to one another? What are our roles in both shaping and being shaped by the cultures we move in, in a world that is ever changing, and where we all have a place? Tresor does not provide easy answers, for Gwenno shows us that we exist in paradox, our threads of place and story entwined like knotwork, our many selves shining as beautiful entanglements.

                                    STAFF COMMENTS

                                    Andy says: Gwenno's third album and second sung entirely in Cornish is her most mesmerising and hypnotic offering yet. Almost glacial and thoroughly other-worldly, this LP casts its magic spell from the first track to the last. It's so beautiful.

                                    TRACK LISTING

                                    1. An Stevel Nowydh
                                    2. Anima
                                    3. Tresor
                                    4. N.Y.C.A.W
                                    5. Men An Toll
                                    6. Ardamm
                                    7. Kan Me
                                    8. Keltek
                                    9. Tonnow
                                    10. Porth La

                                    20 - Pye Corner Audio

                                    Let's Emerge!

                                      Pye Corner Audio releases a new album, 'Let’s Emerge!', for Sonic Cathedral. It’s his first studio outing for the label following the acclaimed live recording 'Social Dissonance', which was released earlier this year, and it features Ride guitarist Andy Bell playing on five of its ten tracks.

                                      From the first glimpse of the artwork to the first note of the music it’s a marked deviation from Pye Corner Audio’s more traditional shadowy sounds. Whereas his last outing for Ghost Box (2021’s 'Entangled Routes') was inspired by the underground fungal pathways through which plants communicate, this one is very much above ground, bathed in sunlight and acid-bright psychedelia. “This is a departure to sunnier climes, but a departure nonetheless,” says Pye Corner Audio, aka Martin Jenkins. “It’s something that I’d been thinking about for a while. I try to tailor my work slightly differently for the various labels that I work with, and this seems to fit nicely with Sonic Cathedral’s ethos.”

                                      Designer Marc Jones’ ultra vivid artwork consciously references the likes of LFO, Spacemen 3 and the early output of Stereolab. “I think it mixes together many of my earliest influences,” explains Martin. “I’ve been a long-time fan of Spacemen 3 and Stereolab. Their moments of repetition and drone have always seeped into what I’ve tried to create. “I was living in a small apartment and I’d stripped down my studio set-up when I was recording this album. This enabled me to focus on a few key pieces of equipment and explore them fully.” The recordings were fleshed out by Andy Bell, who Martin first met at the Sonic Cathedral 15th birthday party at The Social in London back in 2019 – the same show that became the live album 'Social Dissonance'. “New alliances were formed and friendships made in that basement in Little Portland Street,” recalls Martin. “When I met Andy, we agreed that we needed to work together in some way. After I’d remixed a few tracks from his album 'The View From Halfway Down', he kindly repaid the favour.”

                                      The end results are incredible, from the first stirrings of opener ‘De-Hibernate’, via the glorious ‘Haze Loops’ and ‘Saturation Point’, the album slowly but surely awakens, blinking and feeling its way into the light. It all culminates in the epic closing track ‘Warmth Of The Sun’ which, with its vocal harmonies and acid breakdown, is seven and a half minutes of pure release. “That one’s about life’s simple pleasures,” concludes Martin. “The Beach Boys, tremolo guitars, infinite drones, Spacemen 3. Let’s emerge from this darkened era and feel the ‘Warmth Of The Sun’. “The last few years have seen huge changes, both personally and in a wider perspective. The album title is a reaction to this, a collective (tentative) sigh of relief. Here’s to new beginnings and a sense of hope.”

                                      STAFF COMMENTS

                                      Barry says: I love Pye Corner Audio, always have. We had Andy Bell in the shop a couple months back and he was telling us he'd worked with Martin on some music but I did NOT expect this. Gorgeous, plaintive washes of synth and reverbed guitar, echoes of melody within the expansive, electronic atmospheres. A stunning first one for the great Sonic Cathedral.

                                      TRACK LISTING

                                      Side A
                                      1. De-Hibernate
                                      2. Lyracal
                                      3. Does It Go Dark?
                                      4. Haze Loops
                                      5. Let’s Emerge Part One
                                      Side B
                                      1. Saturation Point
                                      2. Sun Stroke
                                      3. Let’s Emerge Part Two
                                      4. Luminescence
                                      5. Warmth Of The Sun

                                      21 - King Hannah

                                      I'm Not Sorry, I Was Just Being Me

                                        Liverpool duo Hannah Merrick and Craig Whittle, aka King Hannah release their debut LP I’m Not Sorry, I Was Just Being Me via City Slang.

                                        The first single from the album, All Being Fine, sets the stall perfectly for the rest of I’m Not Sorry, I Was Just Being Me, drenched as it is in cinematic, often immersive and offbeam soundscapes, punctuated by lyrics that are darkly romantic and thrillingly sardonic in equal measures. Written and then recorded with additional musicians Ted White, Jake Lipiec, and Olly Gorman in just eight months, the LP is a bold, memorable, even startling document of a dream shared, an ambition fulfilled and a vision realized. I’m Not Sorry, I Was Just Being Me is a spectacular debut from the duo and a clear indication this is the beginning of a long, fruitful journey for King Hannah.

                                        King Hannah make music that lives somewhere between the gorgeously meditative pop of Yo La Tengo and the beautiful drama of Sharon Van Etten.

                                        STAFF COMMENTS

                                        Laura says: This is just fantastic. Brooding desert blues from the dust-bowl of erm, Liverpool! Hannah Merrick's vocals, which fall somewhere between Mazzy Star's Hope Sandoval and Sharon Van Etten, float over a beautifully narcotic backdrop of intricate guitar melodies and gentle drum rhythms that slowly build to a crescendo on album closer "It's Me And You, Kid".

                                        TRACK LISTING

                                        A1. A Well-Made Woman
                                        A2. So Much Water So Close To Drone
                                        A3. All Being Fine
                                        A4. Big Big Baby
                                        A5. Ants Crawling On An Apple Stork
                                        A6. The Moods That I Get In
                                        B1. Foolius Caesar
                                        B2. Death Of The House Phone
                                        B3. Go-Kart Kid (HELL NO!)
                                        B4. I’m Not Sorry, I Was Just Being Me
                                        B5. Berenson
                                        B6. It’s Me And You, Kid

                                        22 - Arctic Monkeys

                                        The Car

                                          The Car is the seventh studio album from Arctic Monkeys. Featuring ten new songs written by Alex Turner, produced by James Ford and recorded at Butley Priory, Suffolk, La Frette, Paris and RAK Studios, London.

                                          STAFF COMMENTS

                                          Liam says: Making the descent back to Earth after their stay at the Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino, Arctic Monkeys continue where they left off with album number seven. From stunning string-led ballads ("There'd Better Be A Mirrorball", "Big Ideas"), to late night funk ("Hello You", "Jet Skis On The Moat"), "The Car" proceeds with Arctic's evolution with lavish and exquisite results.

                                          TRACK LISTING

                                          SIDE A
                                          1. There'd Better Be A Mirrorball
                                          2. I Ain't Quite Where I Think I Am
                                          3. Sculptures Of Anything Goes
                                          4. Jet Skis On The Moat
                                          5. Body Paint

                                          SIDE B
                                          6. The Car
                                          7. Big Ideas
                                          8. Hello You
                                          9. Mr Schwartz
                                          10. Perfect Sense

                                          23 - Caroline


                                            UK eight-piece caroline’s eponymous debut album often cascades with force like an avalanche, squalling and rumbling on the edge of all-out collapse. At other points they slip back into impossibly fragile moments of quiet – a simple bassline or a rattle of snare the only sound amid a dark sea of silence. caroline know exactly the right balance between restraint and release. These songs are expansive and emotive pieces, their rich palette drawing on a mixture of choral singing, Midwestern emo and O’Malley and Llewellyn’s roots in Appalachian folk.

                                            “Sometimes things sound much better when there’s empty space,” says Llewellyn. “Sometimes you might populate [a song] with too many things and forget that an element on its own is enough.” Elsewhere on the record the band have employed a collage-like technique, combining snippets of lo-fi recordings from a myriad of different locations – a barn in France, the members’ bedrooms and living rooms, the atmospheric swimming pool in which they also filmed sublime live sessions for ‘Dark blue’ and ‘Skydiving onto the library roof’ – with more traditional group sessions at the Total Refreshment Centre and their studio in Peckham.

                                            The growth that began as a scrappy guitar band above a pub many years ago is still continuing. caroline’s astounding debut album is merely the first step. 

                                            STAFF COMMENTS

                                            Barry says: What a fascinating sound caroline have managed to coax out here. It's a heady mix of post-rock, folk and avant rock pulled together with a keen ear for melodies and tempered with airy group vocals, a-la ASMZ. A dynamic and ever-shifting landscape of melody and texture.

                                            TRACK LISTING

                                            Side A
                                            Dark Blue
                                            Good Morning (red)
                                            Messen #7
                                            Side B
                                            Engine (eavesdropping)
                                            Skydiving Onto The Library Roof
                                            Natural Death

                                            Dinked Edition 7” Tracklisting:
                                            Side A - Good Morning (red) Demo
                                            Side B - Dirty Triple (3) #2

                                            24 - Ezra Collective

                                            Where I'm Meant To Be

                                              Ezra Collective’s new era, a venture in discovered maturity and raised stakes, will be defined by the anticipated second album.

                                              'Where I’m Meant To Be' is a thumping celebration of life, an affirming elevation in the Ezra Collective’s winding hybrid sound and refined collective character. The songs marry cool confidence with bright energy. Full of call-and-response conversations between their ensemble parts, a natural product of years improvising together on-stage, the album - which also features Sampa The Great, Kojey Radical, Emile Sandé, Steve McQueen, and Nao - will light up sweaty dance floors and soundtrack dinner parties in equal measure.

                                              STAFF COMMENTS

                                              Laura says: Infusing afrobeat, funk, dub and hip hop into their jazz foundation, Ezra Collective bring the party once again. They’ve thrown in a little Latin flavour and a whole heap of guest musicians this time around too. Where I’m Meant To Be is a shot of pure feel good energy and you can’t fail to be swept up in their positive vibrations. Sooooo good!

                                              TRACK LISTING

                                              1. Life Goes On (feat. Sampa The Great)
                                              2. Victory Dance
                                              3. No Confusion (feat. Kojey Radical)
                                              4. Welcome To My World
                                              5. Togetherness
                                              6. Ego Killah
                                              7. Smile
                                              8. Live Strong
                                              9. Siesta (feat. Emeli Sandé)
                                              10. Words By Steve
                                              11. Belonging
                                              12. Never The Same Again
                                              13. Words By TJ
                                              14. Love In Outer Space (feat. Nao)

                                              Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever return in 2022 with Endless Rooms, the Melbourne quintet's third album proper. Described by the band – comprised of Fran Keaney, Joe White, Marcel Tussie and brothers Tom Russo and Joe Russo – as them "Doing what we do best: chasing down songs in a room together", Endless Rooms stands as a testament to the collaborative spirit and live power of RBCF.

                                              While initial ideas were traded online during long spells spent separated by lockdowns, the album was truly born during small windows of freedom in which the band would decamp to a mud-brick house in the bush around 2hrs north of Melbourne built by the extended Russo family in the 1970s.

                                              There, its 12 tracks took shape, informed to such an extent by the acoustics and ambience of the rambling lakeside house that they decided to record the album there. The house also features on the album cover. For the first time, the band self-produced the record (alongside engineer, collaborator and old friend, Matt Duffy), creating their most naturalistic and expansive document yet. The result is a collection of songs permeated by the spirit of the place; punctuated by field recordings of rain, fire, birds, and wind.

                                              "It's almost an anti-concept album," say the band. "The ‘endless rooms’ of the title reflects our love of creating worlds in our songs. We treat each of them as a bare room to be built up with infinite possibilities."

                                              STAFF COMMENTS

                                              Barry says: Aaah, there's nothing quite as satisfying as a new RCBF album. Their latest definitely sounds like them, with the roaring angular guitar lines and post-punk vocal sneer but is somehow softened into a more crepuscular, thoughtful selection of pieces. It's by no means a mellow record, but their usual drive is tempered a little, and all the better for it. A lovely record.

                                              TRACK LISTING

                                              Pearl Like You
                                              Tidal River
                                              The Way It Shatters
                                              Caught Low
                                              My Echo
                                              Dive Deep
                                              Open Up Your Window
                                              Blue Eye Lake
                                              Saw You At The Eastern Beach
                                              Vanishing Dots
                                              Endless Rooms
                                              Bounce Off The Bottom

                                              26 - Toro Y Moi


                                                Toro y Moi’s seventh studio album, Mahal, is the boldest and most fascinating journey yet from musical mastermind Chaz Bear. The record spans genre and sound—encompassing the shaggy psychedelic rock of the 1960s and ‘70s, and the airy sounds of 1990s mod-post-rock—taking listeners on an auditory expedition, as if they’re riding in the back of Bear’s Filipino jeepney that adorns the album’s cover. But Mahal is also an unmistakably Toro y Moi experience, calling back to previous works while charting a new path forward in a way that only Bear can do. Mahal is the latest in an accomplished career for Bear, who’s undoubtedly one of the decade’s most influential musicians. Since the release of the electronic pop landmark Causers of This in 2009, subsequent records as Toro y Moi have repeatedly shifted the idea of what his sound can be. But there’s little in Bear’s catalog that will prepare you for the deep-groove excursions on Mahal, his most eclectic record to date.

                                                The second the album begins we’re immediately transported into the passenger seat, jeep sounds and all, ready for the ride Chaz and company have concocted for us. Seeds of some of Mahal’s 13 songs date back to the more explicitly rock-oriented What For? from 2015. MAHAL was mostly completed last year in Bear’s Oakland studio with the involvement of a host of collaborators, Sofie Royer and Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s Ruban Neilson to Neon Indian’s Alan Palomo and the Mattson 2.

                                                “I wanted to make a record that featured more musicians on it than any other record of mine,” he explains. “To have them live on that record feels grounded, bringing a communal perspective to the table.” As a result, Mahal is lush and surprising at every turn, from the cool-handed “The Loop,” which recalls Sly and the Family Stones, to the elastic psych rock of “Foreplay” and the dizzying Mulatu Astatke-recalling of “Last Year.”

                                                Lyrically, the album zooms in on generational concerns, picking up where the Outer Peace standout “Freelance” effectively left off. Bear seems to be surveying the ways in which we connect with technology, media, each other, and what disappears as a result. Cuts like the squishy “Postman” and “Magazine” take a deep dive into our relationship with media in a changing digital world. “It’s interesting to see how we adapt to this new age. We’re so connected, but we’re still missing out on things,” Bear ruminates while discussing the album’s themes. It’s not all introspection. Bear cools things down near the album’s end with the Mattson 2-featuring “Millennium,” a laid-back jam with tricky guitar licks about ringing in new times even when everything else seems upside down. “It’s about enjoying the new year, even when it’s been shitty,” Bear explains. “There’s nothing else to do.” Finding a sense of joy in the face of adversity is embedded in MAHAL’s DNA, right down to the jeepney that literally and figuratively brings the music out into the community. “We know that touring is messed up for now, and large gatherings are a fluke,” he explains. “It’s about the notion of us going out to the people and bringing the record to them.” And with the wide-open atmosphere of Mahal, Toro y Moi stands to connect with more listeners than ever before.

                                                STAFF COMMENTS

                                                Ryan says: Airy, funky psychedelia from Chaz Bear on the endlessly shifting, beautifully produced 'Mahal'. there are more than whispers of Beck's sugar-sweet drawl, but floating smoothly atop road-trip radio grooves and lysergic melted soul. Lovely.

                                                TRACK LISTING

                                                SIDE A:
                                                1. The Medium
                                                2. Goes By So Fast
                                                3. Magazine (feat. Salami Rose Joe Louis)
                                                4. Postman
                                                5. The Loop
                                                6. Last Year
                                                7. Mississippi

                                                SIDE B:
                                                8. Clarity (feat. Sofie)
                                                9. Foreplay
                                                10. Déjà Vu
                                                11. Way Too Hot
                                                12. Millennium (feat.
                                                The Mattson 2)
                                                13. Days In Love

                                                27 - Goat

                                                Oh Death

                                                  Formidable psychic warriors, channelers of the mystic and proponents of a spiritual quest that transcends this realm, Goat remain a band shrouded in mystery. Travelling from their inscrutable origins in the Swedish village of Korpilombo across the stages and festivals of the world in the last decade, this band has created their incendiary music entirely according to their own co-ordinates.

                                                  With all this in mind, the casual observer might have guessed from its title that ‘Requiem’, their beatific and melancholic album of 2016, was to be their last. Yet the ancestral spirits summoned by their art are always restless. Thus the eternal cycles of rebirth have triumphantly produced ‘Oh Death’ - a ceremonial conflagration as powerful as any this band has made.Invigorated by forces we can only guess at the origins of, ‘Oh Death’ is a party to which all are welcome. Blithely waving away easy classification, these heat-hazed serenades are just as comfortable in the headspace of vicious ‘70s funk as they are in zesty ZE records post-punk.

                                                  Folk-haunted incantations and free jazz skronk here find common ground, buoyed by relentless forward motion and raucous energy. Yet all of the above is locked into a delirious gnostic groove that threatens to throw the whole shebang spiraling into orbit. ‘Oh Death’ is driven by a supernatural charge that unifies, invigorates and transcends borders, whether geographical, musical, or between this world and the next. In the hands of these sages and soothsayers, this is just the beginning. Goat Is ‘Oh Death’, Long Live Goat.

                                                  STAFF COMMENTS

                                                  William says: Goat returns with another musical edict from above, a kaleidoscope of demented funk of which the human spirit is desperately in need, according to the band. The fuzzy psychedelia of cracking lead single ‘Under No Nation’ was a perfect mission statement for this phase of the band, so strap in for a wonderfully weird ride with the undeniable forebearers of oddity.

                                                  TRACK LISTING

                                                  01. Soon You Die
                                                  02. Chukua Pesa
                                                  03. Under No Nation
                                                  04. Do The Dance
                                                  05. Apegoat
                                                  06. Goatmilk
                                                  07. Blow The Horns
                                                  08. Remind Yourself
                                                  09. Blessings
                                                  10. Passes Like Clouds

                                                  28 - Bonobo


                                                    Fragments is the most emotionally intense record that he - aka Simon Green - has ever had to make. It’s no surprise that it’s also his masterpiece. The album features Jamila Woods, Joji, Kadhja Bonet, Jordan Rakei, O’Flynn and Miguel Atwood-Ferguson. Born first out of fragments of ideas and experimentation, the album ultimately was fused together in a burst of creativity fuelled by both collaboration and Green’s escape into the wild.

                                                    Fragments is a series of 12 sonic affirmations, featuring some of the hardest and most hip-shaking grooves that Green has ever created. The ballads are perfectly placed throughout; they capture a world in flux and glow with hope. Coaxing the ideas out initially took some hard work. The constantly-touring Green creates best while on the move; the global shutdown forced him to stand still.

                                                    Musical themes began to arise through Green’s exploration of modular synthesis, recordings he had made of harpist Lara Somogyi, his work with arranger and string player Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, his own playing of the Fender Rhodes and more, as the album was created, recorded and mixed by Green over the past two years. The album also came into focus as he sought refuge on solo adventures into nature, away from the shutdowns and wild fires and into the blazing California desert.

                                                    “Tides,” featuring Chicagoan singer and poet Jamila Woods, acted as a catalyst, and the album began to click into place around it. “I knew I had a centrepiece, I knew how it was all going to sound,” he says. Working with arranger and string player Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, musical themes began to emerge. Recording orchestral musicians in actual studios helped bring the songs “out of the box” even more.

                                                    A rhythmic framework started to come together too: the structures of UK bass music and rave began to seep into beats that would become tracks like “Otomo” (eventually co-produced by O’Flynn and featuring a sample of the Bulgarian choir 100 Kaba-Gaidi), and “Sapien.” The ”old school, Detroity, Moodymann and Theo Parrish inspired” “Shadows” was recorded with friend Jordan Rakei. “Rosewood,” “Closer” and “Counterpoint” each start with an ecstatic snap to them, but snake down surprisingly different paths. Somogyi's harp and Atwood-Ferguson's strings mingle together on the beatless “Elysian.” Two ballads flesh out the second half of the record: “Day by Day” featuring Kadhja Bonet and “From You” featuring Joji.

                                                    It's about the dancefloor in many ways, about how “I remembered all over again how much I loved crowds and movement and people connecting with each other,” Green reflects. But the positivity isn’t just in the uptempo rhythms: even the most introspective and melancholic pieces have joy in them.

                                                    STAFF COMMENTS

                                                    Barry says: A stunning new LP from Simon Green's Bonobo, fusing the clattering percussion and smooth rolling basses of 2010's 'Black Sands' with the more soulful, smooth sounds of the more recent outings. It's both a perfect artistic statement, and a wonderfully evocative listen, including some of the biggest names in modern soul and electronica. Brilliant.

                                                    TRACK LISTING

                                                    1. Polyghost (feat. Miguel Atwood-Ferguson)
                                                    2. Shadows (feat. Jordan Rakei)
                                                    3. Rosewood
                                                    4. Otomo (feat. O’Flynn)
                                                    5. Tides (feat. Jamila Woods)
                                                    6. Elysian
                                                    7. Closer
                                                    8. Age Of Phase
                                                    9. From You (feat. Joji)
                                                    10. Counterpart
                                                    11. Sapien
                                                    12. Day By Day (feat. Kadhja Bonet)

                                                    29 - Just Mustard

                                                    Heart Under

                                                      ‘Heart Under’, Just Mustard’s second album and first for Partisan Records, is an album that asks you to forget what you know. At every turn, this remarkable record reconfigures and stretches the ideas and ambition of a rock band, and turns a year of lockdown and personal struggles into a breathtaking artistic statement.

                                                      The music the five friends from Dundalk, Ireland make is strikingly untraditional. Though to look at them, it appears that the band are a five-piece with uniform make-up of a vocalist, two guitarists, a bassist and a drummer, not a single one of them utilizes their instrument in a confined or regular fashion. Guitarists David Noonan and Mete Kalyoncuoglu make their six-strings shriek and wail, the sounds produced sounding like everything from whirring machinery to horror movie monsters. On the introduction to the dark and dangerous ‘Seed’, it’s half-way to being a techno beat. On a great deal of the album, this harshness is juxtaposed by watery, swelling guitar chords that add a dreamy texture to the record alongside the more aggressive, industrial tones. “This is just a piece of wood with some metal strings attached – you can do whatever you want with it,” Mete says of his approach to his instrument.

                                                      Behind them, drummer Shane Maguire uses the rim of his drums almost as much as the skins, providing a clattering, metallic backbeat. “I wanted to reinforce the clangy soundscapes of the songs,” he says of his approach to his instrument, and the record includes Shane whacking a metal staircase with a stick in the studio. Most of the melodies on offer poke through from Rob Clarke’s inventive, nodding basslines, which have nods to The Cure, who Just Mustard supported at a Dublin show in 2019. Rob’s sub bass also plays a pivotal role in the sound, creating a sound that feels like an anchor at the bottom of the sea and adding extra emotional weight to the record. “It leaves open the space that a normal bass guitar would normally occupy,” he explains, “and it’s leaving a lot of room in the mid frequencies for vocals and guitars.”

                                                      Then there’s Katie on vocals. On the roaring climax to single ‘I Am You’ and the melodic and rhythmic verses in the sprightly ‘Mirrors’, she becomes the transfixing focal point of the band, where past material has seen her voice drop back to within the rest of the band, become an extra texture in the soundscapes.

                                                      Since the release of debut album ‘Wednesday’ in mid-2018, the band have undergone a subtle but firm transition, through propulsive 2019 single ‘Frank’ and the gargantuan ‘Seven’ from later that year. While ‘Wednesday’ and subsequent singles pushed Just Mustard away from fitting snugly into the shoegaze category they once occupied, ‘Heart Under’ makes them stand alone as a band that sound like no other.

                                                      Across its 10 tracks, the album presents a coherent style and ethos – those scything guitars, Katie’s magical vocals – but still incorporates a wide and untethered vision. There are brooding, atmospheric rock songs (‘Still’, ‘In Shade’) and others that apply a lighter, dreamier touch (‘Sore’, ‘Mirrors’), all tied together with impeccable instrumentation and a united vision. On ‘Wednesday’, the band played with dreamier soundscapes and production techniques, and ‘Heart Under’ serves as the next stage of this development, with every instrument brilliantly pushed to its limit and every boundary of the band stretched.

                                                      “This album felt very blue to us,” Katie says of the overarching vision behind ‘Heart Under’. “There was sadness and sorrow in the album, and it felt like being underwater and under something very heavy. We let that influence the music, but it wasn’t a decision – it just naturally happened that way.” Flowing through every part of the album, which unpacks the grief and sorrow that Katie was experiencing at the time of its creation, the theme of water also stretches to its majestic artwork. Commissioned by the band and painted by British artist Graham Dean, it shows a subject up to their chest in water. “His paintings lined up with the emotions in the songs,” Katie says.

                                                      The title, ‘Heart Under’, comes from the lyric “the heart under its foot” from the song ‘Sore’, and throughout the recording, the band discussed the idea of wanting the listener to feel like they’re on a train going through a tunnel. In every facet of the album is a physical and emotional intensity, with each note of dissonant guitar, thwack of a drum or piercing lyric hitting you right in the chest, just as intended.

                                                      Primary recording took place in Attica Studios in rural Donegal, with additional recording and post-production then completed at home, and this extra time they gave themselves results in an even richer and more intricately composed record. Katie’s vocals were also recorded at home, with extra time and space that allowed her to give a more emotional and honest performance. “The emotion in the vocals is really important to me, and I could really zoom in and take my time when recording at home,” she reflects.

                                                      After the band had finished recording and producing the album, ‘Heart Under’ was pushed even further into singular territory when the band worked with mixer David Wrench, whose previous collaborators include Frank Ocean, Let’s Eat Grandma, Jamie xx, FKA twigs and beyond. “We wanted someone who had done pop and electronic records and didn’t just work within rock music,” Katie says, with David adding: “I learned so much from what he did with the record. He put the spotlight on some things in the mix that we had no idea about, and he created so much extra space.”

                                                      Though written in the depths of 2020, ‘Heart Under’ is a personal document of a time that doesn’t comment on realities of the outside world. “I always write about what’s going on inside my head rather than anyone else’s,” Katie says. “We all use music to escape, and it’s good to have a break from life with music.”

                                                      An album not categorisable by genre or era, ‘Heart Under’ is a guitar album with guitars that don’t sound like guitars, an album that stretches traditional frameworks to make a thrillingly unique sound, and an album like little else you'll ever hear.

                                                      STAFF COMMENTS

                                                      Laura says: With brooding basslines, distorted guitar shards and pummelling drums Just Mustard plough their own very unique path through the buoyant Irish guitar scene. Katie Balls vocals go from gentle, almost whispered melody to wailing banshee like howls as their sound veers between propulsive intensity and haunting soundscapes. It's a stunning, inventive album that while sounding completely unique, wouldn't sound out of place among early 4AD releases.

                                                      TRACK LISTING

                                                      Side A
                                                      A1 23
                                                      A2 Still
                                                      A3 I Am You
                                                      A4 Seed
                                                      A5 Blue Chalk
                                                      Side B
                                                      B1 Early
                                                      B2 Sore
                                                      B3 Mirrors
                                                      B4 In Shade
                                                      B5 Rivers

                                                      30 - Loyle Carner


                                                        In hugo, there’s a central question that Loyle Carner keeps coming back to: “I’m young, Black, successful and have a platform - but where do I go next?” The answer is explored in this epic scream of a third album. With urgent delivery and gloriously widescreen production, Carner confronts both the deeply personal (“You can’t hate the roots of a tree, and not hate the tree. So how can I hate my father without hating me?) and the highly political (“I told the black man he didn’t understand I reached the white man he wouldn’t take my hand”).

                                                        Cinematic in scale and scope, hugo is both a rallying war cry for a generation forged in fire and a study of the personal internal conflict that drives the rest of the album - as a mixed-race Black man, as an artist, as a father and as a son. With Mercury and Brits nominations, NME Awards and appearances in global brand campaigns (Nike, YSL, Timberland), Carner has undoubtedly had a meteoric rise to the top, culminating with his second album Not Waving, But Drowning charting at number 3 in the UK albums chart in 2019. However, hugo sees Carner taking a sharp detour from his previous work, putting it down to lockdown and the “hedonistic side of career being stripped away. There were no shows, no backstage, no festivals, no photoshoots”. By continuing to write in these tumultuous times with a renewed clarity and sense of artistic freedom, Carner reached deeper beneath the surface than he ever had before. The result is his most cathartic and ambitious record yet, a coruscating journey into the heart of what it means to be alive in these tumultuous times, and one which looks set to neatly cement his position as one of the most potent and vital young talents around today. Working alongside renowned producer kwes. (Solange, Kelela, Nao), Carner leaves no stone unturned on this album, in both its sound and its stories.

                                                        In a 10-track album that moves from gorgeous neo-soul moments to thundering hip hop, with immediate, infectious bangers and sampled interludes from non musicians (mixed-race Guyanese poet John Agard and youth activist and politician Athian Akec) Carner shifts seamlessly from micro to macro, confronting everything from strained relationships with family to the societal tears caused by class stratification. It also lays bare bruises in his personal life that he has never revealed before – often in painful, deeply uncomfortable ways, focusing on Carner's experience of becoming a father in the context of growing up without contact with his biological father. With the song “Polyfilla”, against the backdrop of a warm melodic beat, Carner explores his desire to “break the chains in the cycle” of dysfunctional Black fatherhood, commenting on the narrative of fatherhood in the genre, and saying a key part of the process was realising that his father “grew up in a world where nobody showed him how to love or nurture”. The follow up track “A Lasting Place” is an exploration of the MC’s failure and inability to be perfect in this mission. The album closer is a powerful statement of love and forgiveness; with his signature lyrical dexterity, Carner declares his relentless commitment to his son and sees forgiving his father as a key part of this. The song closes with an emotional ending of Carner telling his dad “still I’m lucky yo that we talk”. There’s a striking duality of hugo’s bold, multilayered tracks and its often starkly intimate and tender lyricism, and that dichotomy is deliberate - it is a message for young Black men, but really, anyone, who is listening. Cognizant of the immense pain and fear and confusion that we are faced with everyday, Carner has thrown down the gauntlet, defying us not to rise above the fray, wake up each day and be ambitious. Ambitious in building strong personal relationships. Ambitious in our pursuit of our goals. Ambitious in never refusing to back down against injustice. Rejecting the title of leader, Loyle Carner sees himself “as holding up a mirror”, and that clearly translates into the album's universal messages.

                                                        STAFF COMMENTS

                                                        Millie says: It’s been three long years since his last album, ‘Hugo’ takes a moment for self reflection for Loyle Carner. There’s some incredible tracks and I’ve only dipped in briefly (so it’s only going to get better) ‘Nobody Knows’ has a killer beat while paired with personal subject matter alongside a gospel choir sample which sets it alive. Another highlight is ‘Hate’ doing what Carner does best, within every bar is just fierce. Cue listening on repeat.

                                                        TRACK LISTING

                                                        Nobody Knows
                                                        Speed Of Plight
                                                        Blood On My Nikes
                                                        A Lasting Place

                                                        31 - Duncan Marquiss

                                                        Wires Turned Sideways In Time

                                                          The Phantom Band guitarist, Duncan Marquiss's instrumental solo (ad)venture finds electronic guitar manipulations intertwine with wandering acoustic ambience. With one foot in 1970s Germany and the other in the woods, rivers and mountains of northeast Scotland.

                                                          “I like it when music builds itself up in an organic fashion,” says Duncan Marquiss. “When it just seems to emerge and almost writes itself.”
                                                          This natural, intuitive and free flowing approach is evident all across the debut solo album from the multi-disciplinary artist. From tender yet sweeping acoustic moments to experimental electronic guitar manipulations, the album feels like a ceaselessly sprawling exploration of texture and tone. Despite veering into what sounds like electronic ambient soundscapes, the entire album is rooted in the guitars. “I enjoy trying to stretch the guitar as an instrument,” says Marquiss. “That reflects my playing style, always trying to make the guitar sound different, or create non-guitar like sounds.”

                                                          Marrying earthy, textural acoustic instrumentals that feel rooted in open landscapes, with those that capture the pulse and hum of a populated metropolis (Marquiss resides in Glasgow). The album was recorded in Aberdeenshire in Marquiss’ parents' garage. “Apart from the wind and the swallows nesting in the eaves there’s not many distractions around,” he says. This is a solo record that goes right to the very essence of Marquiss as an artist. The expansive yet intimate sounds he’s created here stem from the same peaceful isolation of where it all began.

                                                          There’s a cosmic touch tracing back to 1970s Germany (Michael Rother solo, Cluster, Harmonia, Popul Vuh soundtracks) that infiltrates much of the album, alongside some of its more pastoral textures, with Marquiss citing a wide range of listening habits. These include Bruce Langhorne's The Hired Hand, Jim O Rouke's Bad Timing, Arthur Russell and Laurie Spiegel.

                                                          Despite containing no lyrics, the album feels rooted in narrative and development. As the album unfolds the acoustic guitar becomes more prominent over the electric, almost as if nature is slowly taking back and growing over abandoned human-made structures. A record that, despite being experimental in tone and essence, retains a very human and natural touch throughout. 

                                                          STAFF COMMENTS

                                                          Barry says: Marquiss' solo record sees the Phantom Band guitarist pulling out a soaring selection of expansive ambient melodies skilfully wrought out of the guitar, resulting in an evocative and hypnotic selection of 70's synth influenced neo-folk gems.

                                                          TRACK LISTING

                                                          SIDE A
                                                          1. Drivenhalle
                                                          2. C Sweeps
                                                          3. Fixed Action Patterns
                                                          SIDE B
                                                          4. Tracks
                                                          5. Murmer Double
                                                          6. Wires Turned Sideways In Time
                                                          7. Minor History

                                                          32 - Panda Bear & Sonic Boom


                                                            Although Panda Bear and Sonic Boom are no strangers to each other’s music, Reset marks their first collaborative release. When SB pitched an idea to take their working relationship to the next level, he reckoned PB might reject the proposition outright—in the nine gloriously, feverishly hook-bound tracks of Reset, though, you can hear exactly how much he loved the prospect.

                                                            SB’s notion was simple enough: After lugging his records to Portugal years ago, his fascination was renewed by old favorites and standards he had not heard in years. Something struck him, the way the ornate intros by Eddie Cochran or the Everly Brothers felt largely like stage curtains, compelling in their own right even if they had very little to do with the hits that followed. SB began crafting loops from these preambles, twisting and bending the parts like scrap metal before sending them onto PB.

                                                            The kernel of Reset emerged not long after international lockdowns began. If making it supplied temporary medicine for the duo, it is now permanently so for the rest of us, a reminder that sometimes playing and singing along to old favorites with friends can be enough to make the world feel a bit better.

                                                            STAFF COMMENTS

                                                            Darryl says: Noah Lennox AKA Panda Bear and Pete Kember AKA Sonic Boom are longtime collaborators so it seemed only a matter of time before they’d team up together on an album. Reset is a 60s concept record built around intros to rock’n’roll 45s, before being reshaped with harmony overloads, repetitive loops, and psychedelic heavy samples. A perfect sonic melding of their previous bands, Animal Collective and Spacemen 3.

                                                            TRACK LISTING

                                                            1. Gettin’ To The Point
                                                            2. Go On
                                                            3. Everyday
                                                            4. Edge Of The Edge
                                                            5. In My Body
                                                            6. Whirlpool
                                                            7. Danger
                                                            8. Livin’ In The After
                                                            9. Everything’s Been Leading To This

                                                            33 - Big Thief

                                                            Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You

                                                              Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe in You is a sprawling double-LP exploring the deepest elements and possibilities of Big Thief. To truly dig into all that the music of Adrianne Lenker, Max Oleartchik, Buck Meek, and James Krivchenia desired in 2020, the band decided to write and record a rambling account of growth as individuals, musicians, and chosen family over 4 distinct recording sessions. In Upstate New York, Topanga Canyon, The Rocky Mountains, and Tucson, Arizona, Big Thief spent 5 months in creation and came out with 45 completed songs. The most resonant of this material was edited down into the 20 tracks that make up DNWMIBIY, a fluid and adventurous listen. The album was produced by drummer James Krivchenia who initially pitched the recording concept for DNWMIBIY back in late 2019 with the goal of encapsulating the many different aspects of Adrianne’s songwriting and the band onto a single record.

                                                              TRACK LISTING

                                                              Time Escaping
                                                              Spud Infinity
                                                              Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You
                                                              Little Things
                                                              Heavy Bend
                                                              Flower Of Blood
                                                              Blurred View
                                                              Red Moon
                                                              Dried Roses
                                                              No Reason
                                                              Wake Me Up To Drive
                                                              Promise Is A Pendulum
                                                              12,000 Lines
                                                              Simulation Swarm
                                                              Love Love Love
                                                              The Only Place
                                                              Blue Lightning

                                                              34 - Gnod

                                                              Hexen Valley

                                                                Birthed in the bohemian enclave and epicentre of strange vibrations that is Calderdale in West Yorkshire, Hexen Valley’s story began in summer 2021 when a new formation of Gnod came together in a co-op house at the 200-year-old Nutclough Tavern. As always, the line-up of the collective shifted and morphed to fit circumstances, and soon they embarked on intensive jamming that was eventually captured by Sam Greenwood in Hebden Bridge Underground studios.

                                                                Inspiration struck not only from the chemistry of the four musicians in this confined room but all around - the band’s Paddy Shine cites the likes of shop noticeboard messages and pub conversations in Hebden as lyrical sparks; channeling by his reckoning the ‘valley fever’ that exists somewhere in the chasms and contrasts between the amazing light and vivacity of the valley summit and the comparative darkness of the towns below.

                                                                Meanwhile, musical shapes were making themselves known seemingly of their own volition, from ‘Still Running’, which takes shape across a sonic hinterland between Daydream Nation-style kineticism and sludged-out aggression to ‘Bad Apple’ - an entirely spontaneous piece of potent and angular post-punk intensity. Perhaps most surprisingly of all, Lou Reed’s tour-bus favourite ‘Waves Of Fear’ is hammered out with fearsome gusto into a salvo of first-take catharsis and alchemy, fit to transcend all or any oppressive atmospheres that surround.Hexen Valley is the sound of a band whose fearsome intensity is only matched by their evolutionary drive.

                                                                It’s Gnod at full power, and it’s a haunted place you might struggle to leave

                                                                TRACK LISTING

                                                                1. Bad Apple
                                                                2. Spotlight
                                                                3. Skies Are Red
                                                                4. Antidepressants
                                                                5. Still Runnin’
                                                                6. Waves Of Fear

                                                                35 - Broken Bells

                                                                Into The Blue

                                                                  Danger Mouse heads down a completely different musical path to his brilliant “Cheat Codes” LP, on this latest collaboration with The Shins’ James Mercer. Broken Bells combines the pair's greatest strengths. Mercer's gift for indelible, slightly spooky melodies and Burton's atmospheric productions complement each other perfectly.

                                                                  The album opener and title track “Into The Blue” is a slow burner full of swirling psychedelic keys. On “We’re Not In Orbit Yet” Mercer’s vocals glide gently over a melodic, string infused backdrop. “Invisible Exit” is a more stripped back affair with Mercers vocals and acoustic guitar to the fore. “Love On The Run” has a lush horn infused Yacht Rock vibe, that dissolves into a proggy guitar workout / fadeout.

                                                                  There’s a mood change at the start of side B with the 80s synth pop of “One Night”, before the chugging pop of “Saturdays”. With it’s soaring chorus it’s the most ‘Broken Bells’ track on the LP and an obvious single. “Forgotten Boy” is an understated gem and “The Chase” manages to combine melancholy and drama beautifully before drifting into album closer “Fade Away”.

                                                                  STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                  Laura says: The meandering instrumentation has all the Danger Mouse hallmarks: stuttering drum beats, string swells and lush keys. At times proggy, at others cinematic, there’s a kind of majestic feel throughout that provides the perfect backdrop for Mercer’s melodic, melancholic vocals.

                                                                  TRACK LISTING

                                                                  SIDE A
                                                                  1. Into The Blue
                                                                  2. We're Not In Orbit Yet…
                                                                  3. Invisible Exit
                                                                  4. Love On The Run

                                                                  SIDE B
                                                                  1. One Night
                                                                  2. Saturdays
                                                                  3. Forgotten Boy
                                                                  4. The Chase
                                                                  5. Fade Away

                                                                  Fresh grief, like fresh love, has a way of sharpening our vision and bringing on painful clarifications. No matter how temporary we know these states to be, the vulnerability and transformation they demand can overpower the strongest among us. Then there are the rare, fertile moments when both occur, when mourning and limerence heighten, complicate and explain each other; the songs that comprise Angel Olsen’s Big Time were forged in such a whiplash.

                                                                  Big Time is an album about the expansive power of new love, but this brightness and optimism is tempered by a profound and layered sense of loss. During Olsen’s process of coming to terms with her queerness and confronting the traumas that had been keeping her from fully accepting herself, she felt it was time to come out to her parents, a hurdle she’d been avoiding for some time. “Finally, at the ripe age of 34, I was free to be me,” she said. Three days later, her father died and shortly after her mother passed away.

                                                                  The shards of this grief—the shortening of her chance to finally be seen more fully by her parents— are scattered throughout the album. Three weeks after her mother’s funeral she was in the studio, recording this incredibly wise and tender new album. Loss has long been a subject of Olsen’s elegiac songs, but few can write elegies with quite the reckless energy as she.

                                                                  If that bursting-at-the-seams, running downhill energy has come to seem intractable to her work, this album proves Olsen is now writing from a more rooted place of clarity. She’s working with an elastic, expansive mastery of her voice—both sonically and artistically. These are songs not just about transformational mourning, but of finding freedom and joy in the privations as they come.

                                                                  STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                  Barry says: Angel Olsen has always had a unique skill in writing melodies, but it's here on the heartbreaking 'Big Time' that her command of melody and atmosphere come together into the perfect whole. It's beautiful and sombre in parts, and downright jubilant in others. Beautifully balanced and achingly affectionate and tender.

                                                                  TRACK LISTING

                                                                  1. All The Good Times
                                                                  2. Big Time
                                                                  3. Dream Thing
                                                                  4. Ghost On
                                                                  5. All The Flowers
                                                                  6. Right Now
                                                                  7. This Is How It Works
                                                                  8. Go Home
                                                                  9. Through The Fires
                                                                  10. Chasing The Sun

                                                                  37 - Andy Bell


                                                                    'Flicker’ is the second album from Ride guitarist and songwriter Andy Bell. Written almost as a conversation with his teenage self, it follows the triumphant solo debut that was 2020’s ‘The View From Halfway Down’.

                                                                    This 18-track double album finds Andy moving towards classic songwriting, notably on the reflective lead single ‘Something Like Love’, the strident harmonies of ‘World of Echo’, the joyous refracted loops of ‘Jenny Holzer B. Goode’ and the fuzz-laden late-’60s balladeering of ‘Love Is The Frequency’. Stylistically, the four sides of ‘Flicker’ take in everything from modern psychedelia to fingerpicked folk, whimsical baroque pop, and Byrdsian 12-string beauty. It’s a breathtaking array and makes it even more abundantly clear that Andy has entered a purple patch in his songwriting, hitting a new velocity in contrast to his initial inhibitions about becoming a solo artist. He gradually overcame these after the passing of David Bowie in 2016, with the Thin White Duke’s bountiful 50 years of music providing inspiration from beyond the grave.

                                                                    ‘Flicker’ is also an apt description for the genesis of the album. At the start of 2021, Andy returned to the stems of the recording sessions he made at Beady Eye and Oasis bandmate Gem Archer’s North London studio and added fuel to the fire, writing melodies and lyrics and turning them into fully formed songs. The same sessions were also the starting point for ‘The View From Halfway Down’ and this album picks up where that one left off, quite literally, with the very first words being “I was halfway down…”. This is the first of several playful, possibly intentional, references to albums and song titles that litter the record like a musical breadcrumb trail.

                                                                    As much as this is a modern sounding and forward-looking record, it’s also very much about looking back, something that is clear from the first glimpse of the front cover – a previously unseen outtake from Joe Dilworth’s photo sessions for the inner sleeve of Ride’s debut album, ‘Nowhere’.

                                                                    “When I think about ‘Flicker’, I see it as closure,” explains Andy. “Most literally, on a half-finished project from over six years ago, but also on a much bigger timescale. Some of these songs date back to the ’90s and the cognitive dissonance of writing brand new lyrics over songs that are 20-plus years old makes it feel like it is, almost literally, me exchanging ideas with my younger self.”

                                                                    This conversation takes place across ‘Flicker’’s 18 tracks. Essentially it advises us to stop worrying about the future and enjoy each day as it comes, embracing the crushing, unpredictable lows of life as much as the almighty highs of being in love. Some of it remains unspoken, taking place sonically rather than verbally: the album has a reflective, meditative feeling throughout, exploring many aspects of mental health, and the beautiful stillness of first single ‘Something Like Love’ could almost be a musical salve to the heartache 19-year-old Andy poured into ‘Vapour Trail’ in 1990.

                                                                    “The ‘Flicker’ I’m talking about in the lyrics is that flame that makes a person who they are,” explains Andy. “I wanted to find that in myself, so I went back to the teenage me – a technique I learned in therapy and have been doing ever since – and got some advice on how to live and be happy in the 2020s.

                                                                    “‘The View From Halfway Down’ was about turning 50 in a very weird time of introspection. ‘Flicker’ is about gathering the tools to equip myself mentally for life in 2022 and beyond – post-pandemic, post-Brexit, post-truth.”

                                                                    TRACK LISTING

                                                                    1. The Sky Without You
                                                                    2. It Gets Easier
                                                                    3. World Of Echo
                                                                    4. Something Like Love
                                                                    5. Jenny Holzer B. Goode
                                                                    6. Way Of The World
                                                                    7. Riverside
                                                                    8. We All Fall Down
                                                                    9. No Getting Out Alive
                                                                    10. The Looking Glass
                                                                    11. Love Is The Frequency
                                                                    12. Gyre And Gimble
                                                                    13. Lifeline
                                                                    14. She Calls The Tune
                                                                    15. Sidewinder
                                                                    16. When The Lights Go Down
                                                                    17. This Is Our Year
                                                                    18. Holiday In The Sun

                                                                    38 - Black Country, New Road

                                                                    Ants From Up There

                                                                      Following on almost exactly a year to the day from the release of their acclaimed debut “For the first time”, the band have harnessed the momentum from that record and run full pelt into their second, with “Ants From Up There” managing to strike a skilful balance between feeling like a bold stylistic overhaul of what came before, as well as a natural progression.

                                                                      Their debut “For the first time” is a certain 2021 Album of the Year, having received ecstatic reviews from critics and fans alike as well as being shortlisted for the prestigious Mercury Music Prize. Released in February to extensive, global, critical support - perhaps best summed up by The Times who wrote in their 5/5 review that they were "the most exciting band of 2021" and The Observer who called their record "one of the best albums of the year" - the album made a significant dent on the UK Albums Chart where it landed at #4 in its first week, a remarkable achievement for a largely experimental debut record. The album also reached #1 on Any Decent Music, #2 at Album Of The Year and sat at #1 on Rate Your Music for several weeks, remaining the record to generate the most fan reviews and site discussion there this year. Black Country, New Road were also declared Artist Of The Week and Album Of The Week by The Observer, The Line Of Best Fit and Stereogum, and saw features, including covers and reviews, from the likes of Mojo, NPR, CRACK, Uncut, The Quietus, Pitchfork, The FADER, Loud & Quiet, The Face, Paste, The Needle Drop, DIY, NME, CLASH, So Young, Dork and more.

                                                                      With “For the first time” the band melded klezmer, post-rock, indie and an often intense spoken word delivery. On “Ants From Up There” they have expanded on this unique concoction to create a singular sonic middle ground that traverses classical minimalism, indie-folk, pop, alt rock and a distinct tone that is already unique to the band.

                                                                      Recorded at Chale Abbey Studios, Isle Of Wight, across the summer with the band’s long-term live engineer Sergio Maschetzko, it’s also an album that comes loaded with a deep-rooted conviction in the end result. “We were just so hyped the whole time,” says Hyde. “It was such a pleasure to make. I've kind of accepted that this might be the best thing that I'm ever part of for the rest of my life. And that's fine.”

                                                                      TRACK LISTING

                                                                      Side A
                                                                      A1. Intro
                                                                      A2. Chaos Space Marine
                                                                      A3. Concorde
                                                                      A4. Bread Song
                                                                      Side B
                                                                      B1. Good Will Hunting
                                                                      B2. Haldern
                                                                      B3. Mark’s Theme
                                                                      Side C
                                                                      C1. The Place Where He Inserted The Blade
                                                                      C2. Snow Globes
                                                                      Side D
                                                                      D1. Basketball Shoes

                                                                      Chaos Space Marine
                                                                      Bread Song
                                                                      Good Will Hunting
                                                                      Mark’s Theme
                                                                      The Place Where He Inserted The Blade
                                                                      Snow Globes
                                                                      Basketball Shoes

                                                                      4LP Box Set / Deluxe CD
                                                                      Ants From Up There
                                                                      Side A

                                                                      A1. Intro
                                                                      A2. Chaos Space Marine
                                                                      A3. Concorde
                                                                      A4. Bread Song
                                                                      Side B
                                                                      B1. Good Will Hunting
                                                                      B2. Haldern
                                                                      B3. Mark’s Theme
                                                                      Side C
                                                                      C1. The Place Where He Inserted The Blade
                                                                      C2. Snow Globes
                                                                      Side D
                                                                      D1. Basketball Shoes

                                                                      Live From The Queen Elizabeth Hall 
                                                                      Side A
                                                                      A1. Mark’s Theme (Live From The Queen Elizabeth Hall)
                                                                      A2. Instrumental (Live From The Queen Elizabeth Hall)
                                                                      A3. Athens France (Live From The Queen Elizabeth Hall)
                                                                      Side B
                                                                      B1. Science Fair (Live From The Queen Elizabeth Hall)
                                                                      B2. Sunglasses (Live From The Queen Elizabeth Hall)
                                                                      Side C
                                                                      C1. Track X (Live From The Queen Elizabeth Hall)
                                                                      C2. Opus (Live From The Queen Elizabeth Hall)
                                                                      C3. Bread Song (Live From The Queen Elizabeth Hall)
                                                                      Side D
                                                                      D1. Basketball Shoes (Live From The Queen Elizabeth Hall) 

                                                                      Foals take a fresh, thrilling new direction on ‘Life Is Yours’. ‘Life Is Yours’ is the follow-up to the triumphant, two-part ‘Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost’, which proved to be a pivotal pinnacle in the band’s story. Not only did it result in the band’s first ever UK #1 album, but the ambitious scale of the Mercury-nominated album saw Foals win their first BRIT Award for Best Group.

                                                                      ‘Life Is Yours’ feels like a natural evolution for Foals, its disco-tinged guitars, tight syncopated rhythms and punchy, insistent hooks echoing their roots as purveyors of rambunctious house party chaos. Thematically, it’s escapist, transportive and in rapture at life’s endless possibilities. It’s a record that’s perfectly in tune with the prevailing atmosphere of this moment in time – a life-affirming celebration as the world is reunited.

                                                                      ‘Life Is Yours’ immediately establishes its tone with the bright beam of optimism provided by its title track, its ambience and exuberance showing no sign of slowing down as it is followed by the two recent singles. There’s a unity to the sound, whether Foals are bouncing into the Balearic beats of ‘Looking High’, experimenting with West African guitar grooves on ‘Flutter’, or simply savouring the prospect of playing live together again within the dance dynamics of ‘The Sound’. It’s also a consistently transportive experience, at times conjuring images of the Pacific Northwest or St. Lucia, at others directly set in the peppy nostalgia of the recent past. It all comes full circle with ‘Wild Green’, which simultaneously celebrates the rebirth of summer with an existential tinge that all beautiful moments are inevitably fleeting.

                                                                      Yannis Philippakis says, “I feel that with ‘Everything Not Saved…’ we touched upon all of the facets of our sound up until that point. This time we wanted to find a new way to express ourselves. We wanted to refocus and do something that shared a DNA throughout the songs: a physicality, a danceability, and with energy and joyousness. It’s definitely the poppiest record we’ve ever made.”

                                                                      Foals – completed by Jimmy Smith and Jack Bevan – started the project within the dark, windowless confines of their south London rehearsal space in the midst of the winter lockdown. Feeling contained and tethered, they were drawn towards spirited sounds that looked to a brighter future, not only in terms of climate but also in terms of the unreplicable thrill of performing live. By the time the process reached its conclusion, the verdant summer surroundings of Real World Studios near Bath matched the album’s ardent atmosphere.

                                                                      The band also experimented with collaborating with a tapestry of different producers (often working within different configurations) on various tracks. The album’s varied creative voices include John Hill (Portugal The Man, Florence + The Machine), Dan Carey (Tame Impala, Fontaines D.C.), Miles James and A.K. Paul (co-founder of the Paul Institute with his brother Jai Paul). Much of the album was subsequently mixed by ten-time Grammy Award winner Manny Marroquin (Post Malone, Kanye West, Rihanna), with several tracks mixed by another multiple Grammy Award winner in the shape of Mark ‘Spike’ Stent (Coldplay, Muse, Kings of Leon).

                                                                      STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                      Barry says: 'Life Is Yours' takes all of the drawn-out cinematic obscurity of the 'Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost' duo from a few years ago and inverts it into a bright, poppy party collection. Vivid percussion, soaring synths and jubilant vocals make this one of their most accessible and optimistic outings yet.

                                                                      TRACK LISTING

                                                                      1. Life Is Yours
                                                                      2. Wake Me Up
                                                                      3. 2am
                                                                      4. 2001
                                                                      5. (summer Sky)
                                                                      6. Flutter
                                                                      7. Looking High
                                                                      8. Under The Radar
                                                                      9. Crest Of The Wave
                                                                      10. The Sound
                                                                      11. Wild Green

                                                                      40 - Dry Cleaning


                                                                        The South London-based group’s first studio album, recorded in just two weeks with producer John Parish at the iconic Rockfield Studios, became a huge critical and commercial success reaching #4 in the UK Album Charts and featuring in best-of-2021 polls across the board. Buoyed by its success, Nick Buxton (drums), Tom Dowse (guitar), Lewis Maynard (bass) and Florence Shaw (vocals) returned to rural Wales in late 2021, partnering once more with Parish and engineer Joe Jones. Working from a position of trust in the same studio and with the same team, imposter syndrome and anxiety was replaced by a fresh freedom and openness to explore beyond an already rangy sonic palette, a newfound confidence in their creative vision. A longer period in the studio afforded the time to experiment, improvise, play, sharpen their table tennis skills.

                                                                        Stumpwork was inspired by a plethora of events, concepts, and political debacles, be they represented in the icy mess of ambient elements reflecting a certain existential despair, or the surprising warmth in celebrating the lives of loved ones lost through the previous year. Surrealist lyrics are as ever at the forefront – but there is a sensitivity now to the themes of family, money, politics, self-deprecation, and sensuality. Furious alt-rock anthems combine across the record with jangle pop and ambient noise, demonstrating the wealth of influences the band feed off and their deep musicality. With the pressure of their debut album behind them, Dry Cleaning have crafted an ambitious and deeply rewarding new work that marks them out as one of the most intelligent and exciting acts to come out of the UK.

                                                                        The album and single artwork were conceived and created by multi-disciplinary artists Rottingdean Bazaar and photographer Annie Collinge. James Theseus Buck and Luke Brooks of Rottingdean Bazaar first worked with Dry Cleaning directing the official video for ‘Scratchcard Lanyard’ and as their creative partnership with the band continues to flourish, they have fashioned a brilliantly unique visual identity for Stumpwork.

                                                                        STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                        Liam says: Loved last year's "New Long Leg"? Well you're gonna love this! Crammed full of that wry and witty humour that we adored on their debut, Dry Cleaning also step up sonically on "Stumpwork" with tonnes of infectious post-punk. Without a doubt a truly special band, who we hope stay with us for many years to come.

                                                                        TRACK LISTING

                                                                        1. Anna Calls From The Arctic
                                                                        2. Kwenchy Kups
                                                                        3. Gary Ashby
                                                                        4. Driver’s Story
                                                                        5. Hot Penny Day
                                                                        6. Stumpwork
                                                                        7. No Decent Shoes For Rain
                                                                        8. Don’t Press Me
                                                                        9. Conservative Hell
                                                                        10. Liberty Log
                                                                        11. Icebergs

                                                                        41 - Black Midi


                                                                          Hellfire builds on the melodic and harmonic elements of Cavalcade, while expanding the brutality and intensity of their debut, Schlagenheim. It is their most thematically cohesive and intentional album yet.

                                                                          STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                          Barry says: While Black Midi may be hard to categorise, it hasn't stopped people of all ages flooding towards their diverse mix of jazzy rock and angular post-punk, and 'Hellfire' definitely stands to gain them a significant chunk of new followers. It's another step outside of the comfort zone, with angular guitar phrases and barely cohesive percussion coming together magnificently into yet another chapter of incendiary oddball genius.

                                                                          TRACK LISTING

                                                                          Eat Men Eat
                                                                          Welcome To Hell
                                                                          The Race Is About To Begin
                                                                          Dangerous Liaisons
                                                                          The Defence
                                                                          27 Questions

                                                                          42 - Tim Burgess

                                                                          Typical Music

                                                                            Has there been a busier musician over the last two years? A more prolific artist? More creative? More heroic?

                                                                            Tim Burgess – as self-effacing a band leader, solo star, label runner, repeat memoirist and all-round caffeinated can-do kid as you’ll find – would certainly shrink from the latter accolade. “A hero??” he’d likely mutter with a shake of his boyish mop. “For playing some records?”

                                                                            Yes, Tim, we would say that. And not just because with the May 2020, mid-lockdown appearance of I Love The New Sky, his fifth solo album, he undauntedly pushed on with releasing an album that brought much-needed sunshine to a world enveloped in gloom.

                                                                            Over the course of the first year of the pandemic, Tim’s Twitter Listening Parties were a lifeline to many. At a time when the world shut down, we all retreated indoors, alone, and cancelled gigs were the least of our worries, the North Country Boy’s idea of utilising social media to unite us round a digital turntable was inspired.

                                                                            Meanwhile, Burgess was writing. And writing. And writing. From September 2020 to summer 2021, ideas poured out of Burgess. He’d been encouraged by Simon Raymonde, boss of his record label Bella Union ¬– and, of course, a former Cocteau Twin. He applied a musician’s logic: if you can’t tour your last album, write a new one. Then, when you can tour again, you’ll have two albums’ worth of songs to play.

                                                                            Well, now, arguably, Burgess has three albums’ worth of songs to perform live. Typical Music is a 22-track double, a blockbuster set of songs that are as expansive and diverse as they are rich. As fun as they are funky. That embrace heartache and love. That run the gamut, from ABBA (in the shape of guest vocalist Pearl Charles, whose own brilliant Magic Mirror album is the sound of the magic Swedes doin' disco) to Zappa (free-form studio experimentation is go!)

                                                                            TRACK LISTING

                                                                            Side A
                                                                            1 Here Comes The Weekend
                                                                            2 Curiosity
                                                                            3 Time That We Call Time
                                                                            4 Flamingo
                                                                            5 Revenge Through Art
                                                                            6 Kinectic Connection
                                                                            Side B
                                                                            1 Typical Music
                                                                            2 Take Me With You
                                                                            3 After This
                                                                            4 The Centre Of Me (Is A Symphony Of You)
                                                                            5 When I See You
                                                                            Side C
                                                                            1 Magic Rising
                                                                            2 Tender Hooks
                                                                            3 L.O.S.T Lost / Will You Take A Look At My Hand Please
                                                                            4 A Bloody Nose
                                                                            5 In May
                                                                            Side D
                                                                            1 Slacker (Than I've Ever Been)
                                                                            2 View From Above
                                                                            3 A Quarter To Eight
                                                                            4 Sooner Than Yesterday
                                                                            5 Sure Enough
                                                                            6 What's Meant For You Won't Pass By You

                                                                            43 - Oliver Sim

                                                                            Hideous Bastard

                                                                              The debut solo album from Oliver Sim - vocalist and bassist of The xx, Hideous Bastard is a deeply self-confessional journey of fear and shame inspired by the queer horror films he loves. Oliver is joined by Jamie xx, who produces Hideous Bastard with an elegant touch, and Jimmy Somerville (Bronski Beat/Communards), an angel, who takes us to the heavens. Full of surreal pop sounds that escape into the ether and break free, Hideous Bastard is a bold and ambitious debut that sees Oliver explore his voice and his capacity to evoke emotion, melding masculinity and tenderness, beauty with a baritone.

                                                                              STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                              Liam says: Debut solo album from bassist and vocalist of The xx, "Hideous Bastard" is a deeply important project for Oliver Sim. With fellow bandmate Jamie xx on production duties, and the assistance from Jimmy Somerville on the opening track, "Hideous Bastard" tackles themes of shame, fear, masculinity and Sims' HIV status. A truly vulnerable, beautiful and ultimately powerful record.

                                                                              TRACK LISTING

                                                                              1. Hideous
                                                                              2. Romance With A Memory
                                                                              3. Sensitive Child
                                                                              4. Never Here
                                                                              5. Unreliable Narrator
                                                                              6. Saccharine
                                                                              7. Confident Man
                                                                              8. GMT
                                                                              9. Fruit
                                                                              10. Run The Credits

                                                                              44 - Plastikman & Chilly Gonzales

                                                                              Consumed In Key

                                                                                Turbo Recordings presents its grandest achievement yet, a reimagining of Plastikman’s 1998 magnum opus ‘Consumed’, Transformed as a new collaborative composition between original artist Richie Hawtin and musical genius Chilly Gonzales… This is an album three decades in the making, brought into the world by Executive Producer Tiga.

                                                                                A masterpiece of restraint, depth, and music as architectural vision, ‘Consumed’ was profoundly influential, defining the soon-to-emerge minimal movement. Shortly after its 20th anniversary, Chilly Gonzales was inspired to compose accompanying piano pieces (counterparts) for each of the tracks and shared them with Tiga, who became the conduit between both artists and led the project to fruition on his label. Hawtin mixed the new combined work, allowing each artist their own space within the project, more of a sonic conversation between them than a conventional collaboration.

                                                                                Consumed in Key will be available digitally and as a deluxe triple vinyl LP on April 1st, 2022. The artwork is a reinterpretation of the original album’s, flipped to black and white and with the cutout size transposed to the dimensions of a piano key, the die-cut in the white outersleeve revealing a shiny black foil stamp on the black innersleeves. The product is available both in regular black and special white vinyl. In an effort to be eco-friendly, the vinyl and packaging were made using recycled materials.

                                                                                STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                Barry says: An expansive and beautiful juxtaposition of the minimal beats and atmospheric unease of Hawtin's original material with Gonazles' tenderly plucked piano, all brought together with a warm and enveloping production sensibility. An endlessly listenable and richly rewarding journey.

                                                                                TRACK LISTING

                                                                                A1. Contain (In Key)
                                                                                B1. Consume (In Key)
                                                                                B2. Passage In (In Key)
                                                                                C1. Cor Ten (In Key)
                                                                                C2. Ekko (In Key)
                                                                                D1. Converge (In Key)
                                                                                D2. Locomotion (In Key)
                                                                                E1. In Side (In Key)
                                                                                F1. Consumed (In Key)
                                                                                F2. Passage Out (In Key)

                                                                                45 - Yeah Yeah Yeahs

                                                                                Cool It Down

                                                                                  It could only be called alchemy, the transformative magic that happens during the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ most tuned-in moments in the studio, when their unique chemistry sparks opens a portal, and out comes a song like “Maps” or “Zero” or the latest addition to their canon, “Spitting off the Edge of the World featuring Perfume Genius” — an epic shot-to-the heart of pure YYYs beauty and power.

                                                                                  A thunderstorm of a return is what the legendary trio has in store for us on Cool It Down, their fifth studio album and their first since 2013’s Mosquito. The eight-track collection, bound to be a landmark in their catalog, is an expert distillation of their best gifts that impels you to move, and cry, and listen closely.

                                                                                  TRACK LISTING

                                                                                  SIDE A:
                                                                                  1) Spitting Off The Edge Of The World (feat. Perfume Genius)
                                                                                  2) Lovebomb
                                                                                  3) Wolf
                                                                                  4) Fleez
                                                                                  SIDE B:
                                                                                  5) Burning
                                                                                  6) Blacktop
                                                                                  7) Different Today
                                                                                  8) Mars

                                                                                  46 - Sharon Van Etten

                                                                                  We've Been Going About This All Wrong

                                                                                    Sharon Van Etten has always been the kind of artist who helps people make sense of the world around them, and her sixth album, We’ve Been Going About This All Wrong, concerns itself with how we feel, mourn, and reclaim our agency when we think the world - or at least, our world - might be falling apart. How do we protect the things most precious to us from destructive forces beyond our control? How do we salvage something worthwhile when it seems all is lost? And if we can’t, or we don’t, have we loved as well as we could in the meantime? Did we try hard enough? In considering these questions and her own vulnerability in the face of them, Van Etten creates a stunning meditation on how life’s changes can be both terrifying and transformative. We’ve Been Going About This All Wrong articulates the beauty and power that can be rescued from our wreckages.

                                                                                    We’ve Been Going About This All Wrong is as much a reflection on how we manage the ending of metaphorical worlds as we do the ending of actual ones: the twin flames of terror and unrelenting love that light up with motherhood; navigating the demands of partnership when your responsibilities have changed; the loss of center and safety that can come with leaving home; how the ghosts of our past can appear without warning in our present; feeling helpless with the violence and racism in the world; and yes, what it means when a global viral outbreak forces us to relinquish control of the things that have always made us feel so human, and seek new forms of connection to replace them.

                                                                                    We’ve Been Going About This All Wrong is intensely personal, exploring themes like motherhood, love, fear, what we can and can’t control, and what it means to be human in a world that is wracked by so much trauma. The track “Home To Me,” written about Van Etten’s son, uses the trademark “dark drums” of her previous work to invoke the sonic impression of a heartbeat. Synths grow in intensity, evoking the passing of time and the terror of what it means to have your child move inevitably toward independence, wanting to hold on to them tightly enough to protect them forever. In contrast, “Come Back” reflects on the desire to reconnect with a partner. Recalling all the optimism of love felt in its infancy, Van Etten begins with the plain beauty of just her voice and a guitar, building the arrangement alongside the call to “come back” to anyone who has lost their way, be it from another person or from themselves. Hovering between darkness and light, “Born” is an exploration of the self that exists when all other labels - mother, partner, friend - are stripped back.

                                                                                    The ten tracks on We’ve Been Going About This All Wrong are designed to be listened to in order, all at once, so that a much larger story of hope, loss, longing and resilience can be told. This is, in itself, a subtle act of control, but in sharing these songs it remains an optimistic and generous one. There is darkness here but there is light too, and all of it is held together by Van Etten’s uncanny ability to both pierce the hearts of her listeners and make them whole again. Things are not dark, she reminds us, only darkish.

                                                                                    STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                    Barry says: There are few artists around that are as eminently talented as Sharon Van Etten, and her latest outing has all of the acoustic nuance and juxtaposing heft we've come to expect from her. There are moments of minimalist beauty, but they fit in perfectly with the crashing waves of synth and her uncompromising vocals, pulling together all the disparate parts seamlessly. Gorgeous.

                                                                                    TRACK LISTING

                                                                                    SIDE A:
                                                                                    1. Darkness Fades
                                                                                    2. Home To Me
                                                                                    3. I’ll Try
                                                                                    4. Anything
                                                                                    5. Born

                                                                                    SIDE B:
                                                                                    6. Headspace
                                                                                    7. Come Back
                                                                                    8. Darkish
                                                                                    9. Mistakes
                                                                                    10. Far Away

                                                                                    Bonus Tracks (deluxe LP)
                                                                                    Side C:
                                                                                    Used To It
                                                                                    Never Gonna Change
                                                                                    When I Die

                                                                                    Handwritten Etching On Side D

                                                                                    'Once Twice Melody', the first album produced entirely by Beach House, was recorded at Pachyderm studio in Cannon Falls, MN, United Studio in Los Angeles, CA, and Apple Orchard Studios in Baltimore, MD.

                                                                                    For the first time, a live string ensemble was used, with arrangements by David Campbell. Once Twice Melody was mostly mixed by Alan Moulder but a few tracks were also mixed by Caesar Edmunds, Trevor Spencer, and Dave Fridmann.

                                                                                    STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                    Andy says: It's heartening to see every development of Beach House add to their already significant musical foundations, this time sees a significant orchestral presence come to the fore, offsetting their usual hazy swagger but perfectly fitting in with their already wildly cinematic inclinations. It's a beautiful and perfect meeting of melody and ambience, while retaining their airy, otherworldly sound.

                                                                                    TRACK LISTING

                                                                                    1. Once Twice Melody
                                                                                    2. Superstar
                                                                                    3. Pink Funeral
                                                                                    4. Through Me
                                                                                    5. Runaway
                                                                                    6. ESP
                                                                                    7. New Romance
                                                                                    8. Over And Over
                                                                                    9. Sunset
                                                                                    10. Only You Know
                                                                                    11. Another Go Around
                                                                                    12. Masquerade
                                                                                    13. Illusion Of Forever
                                                                                    14. Finale
                                                                                    15. The Bells
                                                                                    16. Hurts To Love
                                                                                    17. Many Nights
                                                                                    18. Modern Love Stories

                                                                                    48 - Los Bitchos

                                                                                    Let The Festivities Begin!

                                                                                      Panthers prowling through a desert. Cowgirls swaggering into a saloon and kicking up dust. Riding shotgun with a Tarantino heroine. Having the fiesta of your lives under a giant piñata with all your friends. Los Bitchos’ hallucinatory surf-exotica is as evocative as it is playful: the London-based pan-continental group could well be your new favourite party band with their instrumental voyages that are the soundtrack to setting alight to a row of flaming sambucas and losing yourself to the night. They’ve got a bun-tight knack for a groove – and they’ve got the best fringes in rock’n’roll too.

                                                                                      Serra Petale (guitar), Agustina Ruiz (keytar), Josefine Jonsson (bass) and Nic Crawshaw (drums) hail from different parts of the world but met via all-night house parties, or through friends, in London. Their unique sound binds them together, though, taking in a retrofuturistic blend of Peruvian chicha, Argentine cumbia, Turkish psych and surf guitars. They are London’s answer to Khruangbin, if Khruangbin spent all weekend getting slammed on cheap tequila in a Dalston dive bar.

                                                                                      STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                      Liam says: Even though it was one of the earlier releases of the year, we've still been slamming this one here at Piccadilly. For fans of Khruangbin and psychedelic groovy goodness, Los Bitchos' "Let The Festivities Begin!" is the soundtrack to the coolest party in the world and probably the most fun you'll have with a record this year!

                                                                                      TRACK LISTING

                                                                                      Side A:
                                                                                      1. The Link Is About To Die
                                                                                      2. I Enjoy It
                                                                                      3. Pista (Fresh Start)
                                                                                      4. FFS
                                                                                      5. Tropico

                                                                                      Side B:
                                                                                      6. Las Panteras
                                                                                      7. Good To Go!
                                                                                      8. Change Of Heart
                                                                                      9. Tripping At A Party
                                                                                      10. Try The Circle!
                                                                                      11. Lindsay Goes To Mykonos

                                                                                      Flexi Bonus Disc:
                                                                                      A1: Los Chrismos
                                                                                      B1: Tipp Tapp

                                                                                      49 - Boy Harsher

                                                                                      The Runner (OST) - 2023 Reissue

                                                                                        Boy Harsher’s latest release, ‘The Runner (Original Soundtrack)’, is an exorcism.

                                                                                        Augustus Muller and Jae Matthews’ fifth release entitled ‘The Runner (Original Soundtrack)’ is not a traditional album. Rather, it is the soundtrack to a short film, also entitled ‘The Runner’. The film, written, produced, and directed by the duo, is a searching horror film, attached to a meta-style “documentary” about Boy Harsher’s recording process. The album includes several distinct components: cinematic arrangements, vocal features, and of course classic Boy Harsher dark pop.

                                                                                        Last year, in the midst of the obvious chaos (the global pandemic), but additionally with Jae’s MS diagnosis, Augustus started working on moody, cinematic sketches. It was uncertain what these pieces would become, other than catharsis. In Jae’s period of convalescence, she kept thinking about this sinister character: a woman running through the woods. Together, they developed this idea further into a film. They were unable to tour, a drastic (and isolating) shift in their career, and making ‘club music’ did not feel right. But there was so much they needed to get out. The next Boy Harsher release would be a reconciliation of this time. The album processes feelings of universal anxiety and the confrontation of at home illness. A necessary expulsion during a time of unrest.

                                                                                        The album opens with “Tower”. The only track on ‘The Runner (Original Soundtrack)’ that Boy Harsher has previously played live, but never recorded. The song is an incantation, with its pulsing synth and Jae’s begging vocals. A spell about desire and impending destruction. Jae asks 'But are you honest? Do you trust? You trust in me?' Questions answered by her desperate yells. It starts both the film and the soundtrack with a heavy presence.

                                                                                        Two songs on ‘The Runner (Original Soundtrack)’ feature vocalists other than Jae Matthews. He allows a distinct sound for both vocalists and really leans into the possibility of divergent genres. “Machina”, is a HI-NRG homage, performed by Mariana Saldaña of Boan, and “Autonomy” a new wave tribute, performed by Cooper B. Handy of Lucy. Augustus Muller fully embraces the soundtrack ethos, by creating fictional ‘bands’ to generate additional content.

                                                                                        ‘The Runner (Original Soundtrack)’ is exactly what’s in the name: a soundtrack. At first the shape of the release was nebulous - yet once realized the album is dynamic. It serves as the story of the running figure and her musical accompaniment. Those expecting a traditional release will be surprised, but not disappointed.

                                                                                        STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                        Mine says: Cold wave darlings Boy Harsher return with a new record as well as a horror film written, produced, and directed by the US duo. The accompanying soundtrack is everything you could want from a Boy Harsher album. Dark and mysterious, yet catchy and danceable, it is up there with some of their best work.

                                                                                        TRACK LISTING

                                                                                        A1. Tower
                                                                                        A2. Give Me A Reason
                                                                                        A3. Autonomy (Feat. Lucy - Cooper B. Handy)
                                                                                        A4. The Ride Home
                                                                                        B1. Escape
                                                                                        B2. Machina (Feat. Ms. BOAN - Mariana Saldaña)
                                                                                        B3. Untitled (Piano)
                                                                                        B4. I Understand

                                                                                        50 - Yeule

                                                                                        Glitch Princess

                                                                                          Nat Ćmiel is a non-binary, London-based, Singaporean multi-disciplinary artist and cyborg entity. “Glitch Princess” opens a channel to the in-between spaces: error messages and broken computer code where soothing un-melodies rest comfortably among the jagged edges of feedback loops. Ćmiel’s experiences with sobriety resulted in a flood of emotions and “Glitch Princess” is an undiluted excerpt of this downpour. Video game scores, experimental shoegaze sounds, & ethereal whispers come together to build an underworld with the occasional erratic dance beat to guide users deeper into the fever dream. yeule invites us to transcend into a post-human world where expression is no longer bound by identity, but rather we are free to assemble ourselves along lines of affinity.

                                                                                          TRACK LISTING

                                                                                          01. My Name Is Nat Cmiel
                                                                                          02. Electric
                                                                                          03. Flowers Are Dead
                                                                                          04. Eyes
                                                                                          05. Perfect Blue
                                                                                          06. Don't Be So Hard On Your Own Beauty
                                                                                          07. Fragments
                                                                                          08. Too Dead Inside
                                                                                          09. Bites On My Neck
                                                                                          10. I <3 U
                                                                                          11. Friendly Machine
                                                                                          12. Mandy

                                                                                          51 - FKA Twigs


                                                                                          FKA Twigs' much anticipated mixtape "Caprison" finally gets pressed on vinyl, with a limited edition glow in the dark version - yay! (it's also available on standard black vinyl for the noctiphobics! - Ed)

                                                                                          Features guest appearances from The Weeknd, Jorja Smith, Pa Salieu, Rema, Shygirl, Unknown T and Daniel Caesar as well as a host ofTwigs’ close friends and community. Many already citing it as one of the best albums of 2022 including Vulture, Entertainment Weekly, NPR Music, Pitchfork, i-D Magazine, NYLON, Complex, Rolling Stone, Esquire, GQ, Marie Claire, The Needle Drop, OkayPlayer, Rough Trade, FLOOD Magazine, The Quietus etc.

                                                                                          Stylistically it veers indiscriminately from ethereal synth-pop, avant choral work to futuristic alt-RnB and ghostly industrial dub; with idiosyncratic vocal performances from each individual talent, really highlighting the creative juices flowing across the project. It plays in traditional mixtape style - with interludes of informal philosophy and musings between Twigs and her friends filling the gaps between the tracks. 

                                                                                          There's tender moments of intimacy, revealing introspections and glossy-eyed yearning; but also precision rhymic delivery taking influence from dancehall and rap and the melting pot of London's multiculture - a theme rich throughout the LP and one treaded previously by MIA. Infact, it's a very London-sounding album; sitting nicely alongside other contemporary luminaries like Little Simz and Green Tea Peng with its confident, colourful individuality and feminism more so than its stylistic content. It finds our star unveiling her insecurities and faults but somehow we love her all the more for its honesty and sincerity. Existing fans are gonna absolutely love it; but I sense she's going to draw in a whole new host of admirers with this album. A real triumph.  

                                                                                          TRACK LISTING

                                                                                          Ride The Dragon
                                                                                          Honda (feat. Pa Salieu)
                                                                                          Meta Angel
                                                                                          Tears In The Club (feat. The Weeknd)
                                                                                          Oh My Love
                                                                                          Caprisongs Interlude (feat. Solo)
                                                                                          Papi Bones (feat. Shygirl)
                                                                                          Which Way (feat. Dystopia)
                                                                                          Jealousy (feat. Rema)
                                                                                          Careless (feat. Daniel Caesar)
                                                                                          Minds Of Men
                                                                                          Track Girl Interlude
                                                                                          Darjeeling (feat. Jorja Smith & Unknown T)
                                                                                          Christi Interlude
                                                                                          Thank You Song

                                                                                          Tyler, The Creator returns with his highly anticipated 6th studio album ‘CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST’ with features from Pharrell Williams, Brent Faiyaz and Lil Wayne. The album includes the previously-released songs "LUMBERJACK" and "WUSYANAME" as well as "JUGGERNAUT”.

                                                                                          STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                          Matt says: Interesting fact: Tyler, The Creator is probably our most requested rapper, in person over-the-counter anyway. The kids love 'im! And so do we, as the ingenious lyricist returns with another sprawling epic.

                                                                                          TRACK LISTING

                                                                                          SIR BAUDELAIRE (feat. DJ Drama)
                                                                                          LEMONHEAD (feat. 42 Dugg)
                                                                                          WUSYANAME (feat. Youngboy Never Broke Again & Ty Dolla $ign)
                                                                                          HOT WIND BLOWS (feat. Lil Wayne)
                                                                                          RUNITUP (feat. Teezo Touchdown)
                                                                                          MANIFESTO (feat. Domo Genesis)
                                                                                          SWEET / I THOUGHT YOU WANTED TO DANCE (feat. Brent Faiyaz & Fana Hues)
                                                                                          MOMMA TALK
                                                                                          RISE! (feat. Daisy World)
                                                                                          JUGGERNAUT (feat. Lil Uzi Vert & Pharrell Williams)

                                                                                          53 - Charlotte Adigery & Bolis Pupul

                                                                                          Topical Dancer

                                                                                            Today sees Belgian-Caribbean provocateur Charlotte Adigéry and her long-term musical partner, Bolis Pupul announce their debut album Topical Dancer, via Soulwax’s iconic label DEEWEE.

                                                                                            Cultural appropriation. Misogyny and racism. Social media vanity. Post-colonialism and political correctness. These are not talking points that you’d ordinarily hear on the dancefloor but Charlotte Adigéry and Bolis Pupul are ripping up the rulebook with their debut album Topical Dancer. The Ghent-based duo, who broke out with their 2019 Zandoli EP, are rare storytellers in electronic music: they take the temperature of the time and funnel them into their playful synth concoctions – never didactic and always with a knowing wink.

                                                                                            TRACK LISTING

                                                                                            Bel Deewee
                                                                                            It Hit Me
                                                                                            Ich Mwen (with Christiane Adigéry)
                                                                                            Ceci N'est Pas Un Cliché
                                                                                            Huile Smisse
                                                                                            Making Sense Stop
                                                                                            Thank You

                                                                                            The mysteriously intriguing group, no; veiled cult-adored collective Sault return with album number six. Although we know now that the band are headed by Dean Cover aka Inflo, and count Cleo Sol, Michael Kiwanuka and Little Simz as collaborators / infrequent members; there's still very little info on the rest of the band.

                                                                                            We don't care though, and delving into "Air" we find the longer, double LP format as captivating as ever. Beginning with choral and orchestral interludes, it's a majestic introduction for a group that have already captured our hearts across the previous five excursions and are unhurried to deliver their latest message. Said pieces unravel into a sumptuous decadence, occupying much of side A before the first utterances of vocal slowly draw in. It's a luxurious and relaxed opening side which hints at the confidence possessed by all involved. There's no need to just jump right in with a opening radio single - we're of course gonna listen from start to finish!

                                                                                            But the mystery does, indeed, continue. The orchestral instrumental and choral work continues throughout - "Air" is a divine piece of enchanted garden ambience and ambrosial relaxation. There's no lyrics, no guitars, no drums. It's as if Inflo told the rest of the band to have a break whilst he enlists a full orchestra for the project.

                                                                                            I'm not complaining, and talk about keeping us on our toes. It's a heavenly piece of music, make no mistake; but if you were expecting them to continue their political musings, heart-worn love songs and incendiary punk-funk fun; then you'll have to resort to previous albums I'm afraid. Instead, we get strings aplenty (including some phenomenal harp work), female vocal choir and smatterings of romantic brass.

                                                                                            Will the public dig it? I hope so. It's adventurous, almost to the point of giving-no-fucks. But thankfully, as I keep reiterating; the music (I'd call it more of a score actually), is nothing short of breathtaking. Is Inflo looking to switch career and become a film score composer? Maybe he has been all along... Like I say, the mystery continues... 

                                                                                            TRACK LISTING

                                                                                            1 - Reality
                                                                                            2 - Air
                                                                                            3 - Heart
                                                                                            4 - Solar
                                                                                            5 - Time Is Precious
                                                                                            6 - June 55
                                                                                            7 - Luos Higher

                                                                                            55 - The Mysterines


                                                                                              The Mysterines have enjoyed some incredible success to date. This includes a sold-out tour just before lockdown in February 2020 a 2nd sold out tour coming in autumn, playlists at BBC Radio 1 and BBC 6 Music.

                                                                                              A note from Lia on the first single off the album:
                                                                                              In My Head appears to be a love song but that was not the original intention. I did want it to superficially be seen as that but in reality, it's a song about people who struggle with their mental health. Partly autobiographical it is about how sometimes life can feel like you’re being haunted by something out of your control. The song was produced and mixed by Catherine Marks.

                                                                                              NME: "The Mysterines have all the makings for a breakout rock band. Stomping riffs, a brilliant leader in Lia Metcalfe (head-turning vocal range) and the playful mythology-toying that builds their own legend...This
                                                                                              Liverpool gang want it all – and they’re probably going to get it."

                                                                                              TRACK LISTING

                                                                                              1. Life’s A Bitch (But I Like It So Much)
                                                                                              2. Hung Up
                                                                                              3. Reeling
                                                                                              4. Old Friends Die Hard
                                                                                              5. Dangerous
                                                                                              6. On The Run
                                                                                              7. Under Your Skin
                                                                                              8. The Bad Thing
                                                                                              9. In My Head
                                                                                              10. Means To Bleed
                                                                                              11. All These Things
                                                                                              12. Still Call You Home
                                                                                              13. The Confession Song

                                                                                              56 - Hot Chip

                                                                                              Freakout / Release

                                                                                                Freakout/Release is another dizzying high in a multi-decade career that’s seen Hot Chip continuing to innovate and develop a rich, resonant songcraft. And while they continue to operate at peak form, the album also feels like a new chapter for the group—a collection of flesh-and-blood songs that finds the band reaching into the darkness to emerge as a true creative unit, their gazes fixed positively on the future ahead. The album features Canadian rapper Cadence Weapon, British DJ & musician Lou Hayter & production work from Soulwax.

                                                                                                57 - Burial

                                                                                                Antidawn EP

                                                                                                "Antidawn" marks the return of Burial - our nation's beloved shadow dweller, emo-garage innovator and cultishly adored bass producer. After nearly 2 decades unravelling the mystery - with countless breakdowns, assessments and even dissertations written about how the artist composes and records his music - William Bevan had decided it's time for a further redux.

                                                                                                Reducing the sound to just vapours, the record 'explores an interzone between dislocated, patchwork songwriting and eerie, open-world game-space ambience', which perfectly puts into context what you have in front of you. Like walking through Skyrim's metaverse loaded up on dissociatives  and ketamine, there's no real linear structure to the album. As usual, snips, sounds and textures take precedent, but it's the silences and the spaces BETWEEN the snips that Burial has really emphasized on "Antidawn". There's a movement created with sparseness - a change of feeling; a beckoning towards the light through tense and dark realms.

                                                                                                Encapsulated in a frozen, urban Winter; there's movements of painful sadness, juxtaposed between bursts of radioactive warmth as whispers of forgotten angels drift in on FM radio interference. It's quintessential Burial - crackles n static n all - but occupying a space that couldn't be further from the dancefloor. If his more recent 12"s have hinted at this wandering, non-linear, long-walk-home approach then on "Antidawn" we're lost & abandoned in the multidimensional realities of the present; with little reassurance that 'everything’s going to be ok'...

                                                                                                It's as breathtaking and awe-inspiring as you'd expect from the UK demigod yet brittle, fragile, constricted and smothered in darkness. It's really nice to see him explore these realms and while thousands of his online bloggers and trolls will no doubt have countless critiques on his development; I for one am well on board.

                                                                                                STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                                Matt says: Burial heads even further down the cold, long & lonely road into almost pure isolation. Like walking through Skyrim's metaverse loaded up on dissociatives it's a completely transportive, if fragile and desolate listen.

                                                                                                TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                A1. Strange Neighbourhood [11:04]
                                                                                                A2. Antidawn [08:43]

                                                                                                B1. Shadow Paradise [10:20]
                                                                                                B2. New Love [07:13]
                                                                                                B3. Upstairs Flat [06:07]

                                                                                                58 - Katy J Pearson

                                                                                                Sound Of The Morning

                                                                                                  Katy J Pearson would like you to know that she is not a country singer. Sure, there was an influence of the genre to the now - 26 - year - old’s celebrated debut ‘Return’ - an album that saw Pearson snowball from Bristolian newcomer to a critically - acclaimed bre akthrough star, selling out shows up and down the UK - but there’s also much, much more to her magnetic blend of soaring, widescreen melodies and warm, intimate storytelling than just three chords and the truth.

                                                                                                  “There was one music video [for ‘Tonight’] that I did in the beginning where I line - danced and was wearing rhinestones, and from there it just turned it into this real thing,” she laughs. “Every review would be ‘country - tinged’ whereas actually, there was literally one country song on the record re ally. But I think that’s what’s good about the new record, that I think it’s not what people will expect from me. When people ask me what the new album sounds like, it’s just... a bit different?!”

                                                                                                  Happy to wax lyrical about the relative merits of Townes Van Zandt, Elton John and Fugazi within the same breath, there’s always been a lot going on in Pearson’s musical palette (FYI she’d call her debut more of a folk - rock LP, if anything). But though the critics might have skewed the specifics of ‘Return’ - relea sed via Heavenly Records in November 2020 - the acclaim for the album still came pouring in. Having had a previous taste of the industry via a major label project that quickly turned sour, the difference this time around was tangible: praised for “ the arre sting quality of [her] Kate Bush - meets - Dolly Parton vocal delivery” by The Times, labelled as “finding humanity in every moment” by DIY and with lead single ‘Take Back The Radio’ described as “a whoop of pure joy” in the Guardian, amidst the bleak toll of lockdown, something about this curiously optimistic album began to really resonate. “ It was terrifying getting to the point of releasing a debut after making music for eight years, like woah!” she says with an exaggerated grimace (random noises and excita ble gestures are par - for - the - course in a Pearson anecdote).

                                                                                                  “But weirdly it feels like it couldn’t have come out at any other time. It felt like everything people were saying to me [during lockdown] was everything that I’d been feeling when I wrote that al bum; it was a very personal album for me, and it was released at a time when a lot of people were in their house, feeling isolated. It was the antidote to a lot of peoples’ lives.” It feels fitting then that, having provided an aural balm at just the righ t moment with her first album, its follow - up should reflect a world brimming with curiosity, back in action and wanting to expand its horizons.

                                                                                                  If Pearson’s extracurricular activities in recent months have shown that she can dip a toe into a multitude of g enres - providing guest vocals on Orlando Weeks’ recent album ‘Hop Up’; popping up with Yard Act for a collaboration at End of the Road festival; singing on trad - folk collective Broadside Hacks’ 2021 project ‘Songs Without Authors’ - then forthcoming secon d album ‘Sound of the Morning’ takes that spirit and runs with it. It’s still Katy J Pearson (read: effortlessly charming, full of heart and helmed by that inimitable vocal), but it’s Katy J Pearson pushing herself musically and lyrically into new waters. Written and recorded in late 2021 after a self - prescribed period of down time spent walking, going on daily cold water swims and “just chillaxing massively”, even the credits on ‘Sound of the Morning’ profess a new thirst for experimentation from the sin ger. Joining ‘Return’ producer Ali Chant on desk duties this time was Speedy Wunderground head honcho Dan Carey, who worked with Pearson on some of the album’s grittier tracks. “Dan got a completely different structural, songwriting style out of me which i s what I wanted: something a bit more confident and in your face,” she nods. “He could see that there was a part of me that wanted to branch out, I just didn’t know where and how far to push it, but it was exactly the kind of progression I was looking for. ”

                                                                                                  STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                                  Barry says: While Pearson's voice may draw comparisons to much beloved country singers (understandably), it's in her clever songwriting that her latest outing really shines. There are more woozy, airy moments of jangling indie amongst the heavier progressions and orchestrally intricate compositions, lurching between ideas seamlessly and without losing the melodic thread. Another brilliant success for Katy J Pearson.

                                                                                                  TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                  1. Sound Of The Morning
                                                                                                  2. Talk Over Town
                                                                                                  3. Riverbed
                                                                                                  4. Howl
                                                                                                  5. Confession
                                                                                                  6. The Hour
                                                                                                  7. Float
                                                                                                  8. Alligator
                                                                                                  9. Game Of Cards
                                                                                                  10. Storm To Pass
                                                                                                  11. Willow’s Song

                                                                                                  59 - The Soundcarriers


                                                                                                    “We've always done things our own way and without any outside pressure,” says Paul Isherwood of The Soundcarriers. “Making music like this keeps things fresh, you always lose something and gain something as you go along but I think of it as just another chapter.”

                                                                                                    There have been many chapters in the life of the band to date and each one is defined by the singular approach and style of the group. Since forming in 2007 the band - comprised of Isherwood, Adam Cann, Dorian Conway and Leonore Wheatley - have released three albums that position them as a distinct and unique force in British music. Eschewing fads and trends that come and go, they have instead focused on honing their own sonic world that glides between woozy psychedelia, immersive grooves, subtle pop and rich, enveloping soundscapes. They’ve consistently moved at their own pace and on their own terms and on their fourth album, Wilds, they return after seven years since their last. “The sessions started in a cottage in the wilds so there's a literal meaning,” Isherwood says of the title. “But figuratively we've pretty much been in the wild for the last few years as far as a lot of people are concerned.”

                                                                                                    The recording was staggered over a few different locations, from cottages to primary schools, before finishing in an art gallery. “The beauty of recording in non-studio studios is you have the time for the unexpected to happen,” says Isherwood. “Which is really what keeps you coming back for more.” As a result of the timeframe of the album, it’s one that has changed and grown a lot over the years. “The record has been through a lot of stages,” says Isherwood. “It's almost been circular. We started off wanting to do an album of more shorter, concise tracks and then sort of sidestepped into some more spacey ambient ideas so in a way the album is kind of a synthesis of the two phases, overall carrying on with many of the themes and influences of the first three but with a more focused approach.”

                                                                                                    The opening ‘Waves’ leaps out the gate with an infectious hook kissed by a touch of French pop before leaping into a devilishly catchy chorus and into a mini prog-like flute breakdown. It sets the tone for an album that is rich in adventure and unpredictability that manages to balance experimentation with accessibility. ‘At The Time’ is almost unrelenting in its grinding charge, managing to create a groove that cracks and pulses at the same time, ‘Wilds’ is a gorgeously floating piece of music that skips along with strutting bass as Wheatley’s vocals merge melody with texture magically. The closing ‘Happens Too Soon gently stirs to life with an almost pastoral folk air to it, as it slowly builds into swirling psych pop rich in texture before reaching a rousing crescendo. “I feel this album sums up a lot of our influences,” says Isherwood. “There’s a strong folk influence in the sense of the actual songwriting but musically we wanted to create songs that were like those rare oddities you find on a bizarre charity shop record. A collection of "one offs" capturing a moment rather than trying to make a hit song.”

                                                                                                    This sense of it being an album of unique songs is clearly apparent throughout but it also maintains a natural flow and cohesion. This is something that stems from the band’s approach to songwriting for the record. “A lot of the tracks started with a feel or groove,” says Isherwood. “Then building it into a more concise arranged piece. We were conscious that we didn't want the recording to sound too over-polished so although a lot of the tracks were quite painstaking in how they evolved we wanted the actual recording to be quite raw and not be reliant on cutting things up or overly editing things. We wanted it to sound natural rather than perfect.”

                                                                                                    TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                    1. Waves
                                                                                                    2. Traces
                                                                                                    3. At The Time
                                                                                                    4. All These Things
                                                                                                    5. Falling Back
                                                                                                    6. Saturate
                                                                                                    7. Driver
                                                                                                    8. Wilds
                                                                                                    9. Happens Too Soon

                                                                                                    60 - Belle & Sebastian

                                                                                                    A Bit Of Previous

                                                                                                      A Bit of Previous is the tenth studio album by Belle and Sebastian and their first full-length in seven years. This may be surprising to anyone following the recent life pursuits of the Glasgow 7-piece: a trilogy of EPs; a soundtrack for the directorial debut of The Inbetweeners’ Simon Bird; The Boaty Weekender – a 3000 capacity star-studded four-day music festival on a cruise liner sailing the Mediterranean; a live album showcasing the band’s present-day iteration as savvy main stage entertainers; and in 2020 a collaborative project with fans called ‘Protecting The Hive’. But in all these idiosyncratic endeavours, as intrinsic to the band’s DNA as the stage invasion at the end of each of their shows, a full-length has eluded us.

                                                                                                      A Bit Of Previous was recorded in Belle and Sebastian’s hometown of Glasgow when plans to fly to Los Angeles in spring of 2020 were scrapped due to the pandemic. Says Murdoch in the liner notes: “We did it together, us and the city. This record was the first ‘full’ LP recording for B&S in Glasgow since Fold Your Hands Child, 1999. We clocked in every morning, we played our songs, we wrote together, we tried new things, we took the proverbial lump of clay, and we threw it every day.”

                                                                                                      A Bit Of Previous is a classic Belle and Sebastian album preoccupied with songs and melodies that won’t leave your head and lyrics that can make you smile and ponder and sometimes be melancholic. The result is one the most diverse, hands-on and thrilling entries in the bands catalogue, self-produced and recorded (with contributions from Brian McNeill, Matt Wiggins, Kevin Burleigh and Shawn Everett). ‘Young And Stupid’ is a stuttering folk rock earworm that faces the passage of time with wry ennui, ‘Come On Home’ with its warm fireside piano evokes a handing over of the generational baton, while the deceptively feelgood, choir-backed ‘If They’re Shooting At You’ reads like a poignant ode to defiance and survival.

                                                                                                      A Bit of Previous is also scattered with big, occasionally delirious pop moments. ‘Unnecessary Drama’ rips through a cacophony of overdriven riffs and a droning harmonica that borders on the unhinged and is one of the band’s heaviest outings since, well, ever. The 140+ bpm ’Talk To Me Talk To Me’ is ablaze with euro synths and keyboard horns as the voices of Murdoch and Martin intertwine on a breathless chorus. ‘Working Boy in New York City’ exists in a parallel universe where the band did in fact make it to California – such is the escapist bliss of its sloping flute and bittersweet funk. On the other side of the spectrum are some of Belle and Sebastian’s most moving ballads. Tender finger-picked paean to a lover ‘Do It For Your Country’ and doo-wop-inflicted ‘Sea Of Sorrow’ showcase Murdoch’s tenor at its most bare and affecting, while Stevie Jackson contributes lovelorn country waltz ‘Deathbed of My Dreams’.

                                                                                                      So what is a A Bit of Previous? It’s a bit of everything, and a lot of what makes Belle and Sebastian so special and enduring. It’s a band tackling age and growing older with grace, irreverence, musical bravado and lyrical exactitude and emerging as an endless source of energy and reinvention.

                                                                                                      STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                                      Barry says: I famously adore Belle & Sebastian, but this is definitely one of my favourites of theirs thus far, and goes some way to cementing their place on the greatest bands of all time list. Swimming melodies, clever progressions and heartfelt lyricism make for a classic Belle & Sebastian LP.

                                                                                                      TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                      1. Young And Stupid
                                                                                                      2. If They're Shooting At You
                                                                                                      3. Talk To Me Talk To Me
                                                                                                      4. Reclaim The Night
                                                                                                      5. Do It For Your Country
                                                                                                      6. Prophets On Hold
                                                                                                      7. Unnecessary Drama
                                                                                                      8. Come On Home
                                                                                                      9. A World Without You
                                                                                                      10. Deathbed Of My Dreams
                                                                                                      11. Sea Of Sorrow
                                                                                                      12. Working Boy In New York City

                                                                                                      7” (Indies Only)
                                                                                                      1. A Bit Of Previous
                                                                                                      2. Sometimes

                                                                                                      Phantasy and Factory Floor's celebrated synth molester, Gabe Gurnsey returns with a new album entitled "Diablo". Reveling in the energy surrounding spontaneous connections, the album takes you on myriad twists and turns; all the while nurturing lustful, good time feelings.

                                                                                                      Opening with a typically electronic, lyrically strong post-acid-house jerker: "Push", the album quickly deploys giddy echoes, teasing 808 boings and more vocals that are both sexy and menacing and suited to darkly lit areas of large warehouses and industrial spaces; injecting lascivious energies into environments once baron of human feeling.

                                                                                                      The album unashamedly makes us of Gurnsey’s girlfriend, Tilly Morris, whose role is that of both muse and collaborator. 'I wanted Tilly to dominate on "Diablo",' Gurnsey explains. Morris (who was also featured on "Physical") sings on most of "Diablo"s tracks as well as contributing to the lyrics, melodies and synths, and her image is the album artwork. An album with such a level of collaboration only feels this good when you can really trust somebody. “This record is formed out of a lot of trust and lust,” Gurnsey says. “And I think it's very honest in a lot of ways, in terms of letting go, in terms of exploring, just in terms of being a bit fucking happy.”

                                                                                                      Keeping to a role of 'rhythm section first' - Gabe's previous roll as drummer has led to a very rhythmic-centric way of songwriting. That being said; we find most of the beats across the LP sequenced and programmed rather than played live.

                                                                                                      Title track “Diablo” sees Gabe and Tilly deliver a disembodied duet, love-sparring like a postapocalyptic Donny & Marie Osmond - they reprise this routine on “So Sweet” (which is anything but): ‘I’m breaking at the thought of your love, I’m shaking at the thought of your mind.’ “Power Passion” has a touch of wine bar and a hint of Daft Punk and “You Remind Me” is all sharp little squelches, stutters, and swooning sunrise vocals. “Give Me” shifts from demand to begging in the sweetest and sexiest way, really highlighting the subtle but proficient lyrical urgency coursing through the LP. “To The Room” closes the record with a sinister softness, glimpses through a doorway into other possibilities.

                                                                                                      You’ll hear all sorts of influences here, from Peaches, Detroit techno, deep house, electro, Suicide and Eurythmics. It’s a generous stew which shows its appreciation for his forebears without ever being overshadowed by them. Let’s face it, most of the best dance music has that minor-key sadness, channeled to perfection by Gurnsey and Morris.

                                                                                                      TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                      1 Push
                                                                                                      2 Hey Diablo
                                                                                                      3 Power Passion
                                                                                                      4 You Remind Me
                                                                                                      5 I Love A Sea On Fire
                                                                                                      6 Give Me
                                                                                                      7 Blessings
                                                                                                      8 Higher Estates
                                                                                                      9 So Sweet
                                                                                                      10 To The Room

                                                                                                      62 - Makaya McCraven

                                                                                                      In These Times

                                                                                                        In These Times is a collection of polytemporal compositions inspired as much by broader cultural struggles as McCraven’s personal experience as a product of a multinational, working class musician community. With contributions from over a dozen musicians and creative partners from his tight-knit circle of collaborators – including Jeff Parker, Junius Paul, Brandee Younger, Joel Ross, and Marquis Hill – the music was recorded in five different studios and four live performance spaces while McCraven engaged in extensive post-production work at home. Featuring orchestral, large ensemble arrangements interwoven with the signature “organic beat music” sound that’s become his signature, the album is an evolution and a milestone for McCraven, the producer. But moreover, it’s the strongest and clearest statement we’ve yet to hear from McCraven, the composer.

                                                                                                        TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                        In These Times
                                                                                                        The Fours
                                                                                                        High Fives
                                                                                                        Dream Another
                                                                                                        This Place That Place
                                                                                                        The Calling
                                                                                                        Seventh String
                                                                                                        So Ubuji
                                                                                                        The Knew Untitled
                                                                                                        The Title

                                                                                                        63 - Kurt Vile

                                                                                                        (Watch My Moves)

                                                                                                          On his major label debut album, Kurt Vile pulls his talents as a singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer in unexpected directions — and the result is a vibrant, yet meditative record propelled by laid-back charm and curious spirit.

                                                                                                          Kurt Vile’s signature brand of laid-back and meandering rock takes center stage on the lead single off his first major label album, (watch my moves). Produced by Kurt Vile & Rob Schnapf.

                                                                                                          Ravenously creative songwriter Kurt Vile broke through to mainstream success after years of steadily working on his craft. His laidback and drifting guitar rock took notes from masters like Neil Young, Sonic Youth, and Dinosaur Jr., exploring inventive guitar tones on meditative and often self-reflective songs. He co-founded the War on Drugs with friend Adam Granduciel in 2005, but quit shortly after the band got off the ground to focus more on his own music. After several albums on various indie labels, Vile signed with Matador in 2009 and would find increasing success with each new album. His 2013 album, Walkin' on a Pretty Daze, broke through bigger than anything before it, taking Vile's blurry-eyed musings and signature songwriting style to a worldwide audience. He would continue frequent collaborations, working with a multitude of special guests on his own records as well as co-creating albums with Steve Gunn and Courtney Barnett.

                                                                                                          STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                                          Barry says: This latest offering sees Vile in a perfectly laid back, tranquil mood, slowly moving from shimmering, country-lite into classic Kurt psychedelia. It's a perfectly composed and unsurprisingly brilliant twist to his established sound. Dreamy, evocative bliss.

                                                                                                          TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                          1. Goin On A Plane Today
                                                                                                          2. Flyin (like A Fast Train)
                                                                                                          3. Palace Of OKV In Reverse
                                                                                                          4. Like Exploding Stones
                                                                                                          5. Mount Airy Hill (Way Gone)
                                                                                                          6. Hey Like A Child
                                                                                                          7. Jesus On A Wire
                                                                                                          8. Fo Sho
                                                                                                          9. Cool Water
                                                                                                          10. Chazzy Don’t Mind
                                                                                                          11. (shiny Things)
                                                                                                          12. Say The Word
                                                                                                          13. Wages Of Sin
                                                                                                          14. Kurt Runner
                                                                                                          15. Stuffed Leopard 

                                                                                                          J-Walk's (Martin Brew) superb Mellotronique gets a much needed vinyl pressing from the fledgling imprint headed by Jason Boardman of Aficionado records fame. 

                                                                                                          If you know Brew's work from the highly lauded 'Limelight Nights' or 'Mediterranean Winds', then you'll know that his sound is a synth-heavy distillation of topical Balearic grooves and snappy disco percussion. This latest outing sees the musical polymath shift his focus slightly more into the almost-tailored-exactly-for-me saturated 8-bit grooves of 90's videogame soundtrackery. 

                                                                                                          Kicking things off, 'City Slicker' matches a swung percussive groove against phased chord stabs and rolling synthetic bass, providing a perfect starting point for the wonderfully vivid landscape that is to come. 'Hypercruiser' brings in the most understated saw-wave bass (with *just* enough short reverb on to come popping out of the mix) before launching into a soaring, euphoric lift into one of my favourite pices on the whole collection, the wonderfully evocative portamentoed swing of 'Underwater Galaxy'. 

                                                                                                          Both 'A World Someplace' and 'Winter Moon Rendezvous' hold their place perfectly, tactfully seguing between slowly pulled synth chords and twinkling dreamlike bliss. The former swims with a machine-funk groove, reminiscent of an 8-bit cityscape while the latter takes this established groove and slows it down, reducing to a few perfectly pitched elements.  It's this restraint that really sets J-Walk apart from the rest, with his keen production ear coming across perfectly in the finished product. 

                                                                                                          Laters, both 'Chill Bien' and 'Equinox Desire' usher in hints of tropical groove, with the syncopated stabs of bass fading into a sea of reverb and bit-crushed guitars before pulling all the elements seamlessly into a perfect culmination of melodic drive and lysergic relaxation. 

                                                                                                          We finish with the massive duo of 'Fait Accompli' and 'The Night Machine', the former bringing the latent Italo elements into the mix before the latter slams them home with an uncompromisingly crunchy, filter-manipulated freak-out. 

                                                                                                          It's a stunning collection of tracks, and further evidence that J-Walk is indeed here to stay, thank f*ck. 

                                                                                                          STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                                          Matt says: The second release on Jason Boardman's (Aficionado) new labour of love and it's no other than Martin Brew dropping electro-funk-balearo-science! Electrified throughout, it exists as a concise and really quite singular piece conceived by an artist in full creative control. We've waited all year for these BiD records but it's been worth the wait. Buy on sight! Who knows if there'll be a second press...

                                                                                                          TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                          A1. City Slicker
                                                                                                          A2. Hypercruiser
                                                                                                          A3. Underwater Galaxy
                                                                                                          A4. A World Someplace
                                                                                                          A5. Winter Moon Rendezvous
                                                                                                          B1. Hologram Jam
                                                                                                          B2. Chill Bien
                                                                                                          B3. Equinox Desire
                                                                                                          B4. Fait Accompli
                                                                                                          B5. The Night Machine

                                                                                                          65 - Suede


                                                                                                            Suede return with their ninth studio album Autofiction, set for release via BMG.

                                                                                                            As Suede began work on the songs that would become Autofiction, they decided to go back to basics. In a move that recalled their most formative days, Brett Anderson, Mat Osman, Simon Gilbert, Richard Oakes and Neil Codling schlepped to a rehearsal studio in deserted Kings Cross to collect a key, hump their own gear, set up and start playing.

                                                                                                            Speaking about Autofiction, Brett Anderson said: "Autofiction is our punk record. No whistles and bells. Just the five of us in a room with all the glitches and fuck-ups revealed; the band themselves exposed in all their primal mess."

                                                                                                            First single ‘She Still Leads Me On’ is the track that reconfigured what the album could be. A beautiful song written from Brett to his late mother. As its title suggests, Autofiction is one of Anderson’s most personal records yet. Reflecting on the process of writing acclaimed works of memoir Coal Black Mornings and Afternoons With The Blinds Drawn helped Brett get a newfound perspective on himself as a performer and singer in the public eye, much of which has bled into the lyricism of Autofiction.

                                                                                                            TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                            1. She Still Leads Me On
                                                                                                            2. Personality Disorder
                                                                                                            3. 15 Again
                                                                                                            4. The Only Way I Can Love You
                                                                                                            5. That Boy On The Stage
                                                                                                            6. Drive Myself Home
                                                                                                            7. Black Ice
                                                                                                            8. Shadow Self
                                                                                                            9. It's Always The Quiet Ones
                                                                                                            10. What Am I Without You
                                                                                                            11. Turn Off Your Brain And Yell

                                                                                                            66 - Alvvays

                                                                                                            Blue Rev

                                                                                                              Alvvays never intended to take five years to finish their third album, the nervy joyride that is the compulsively lovable Blue Rev. In fact, the band began writing and cutting its first bits soon after releasing 2017’s Antisocialites, that stunning sophomore record that confirmed the Toronto quintet’s status atop a new generation of winning and whip-smart indie rock.

                                                                                                              Global lockdowns notwithstanding, circumstances both ordinary and entirely unpredictable stunted those sessions. Alvvays toured more than expected, a surefire interruption for a band that doesn’t write on the road. A watchful thief then broke into singer Molly Rankin’s apartment and swiped a recorder full of demos, one day before a basement flood nearly ruined all the band’s gear. They subsequently lost a rhythm section and, due to border closures, couldn’t rehearse for months with their masterful new one, drummer Sheridan Riley and bassist Abbey Blackwell.

                                                                                                              At least the five-year wait was worthwhile: Blue Rev doesn’t simply reassert what’s always been great about Alvvays but instead reimagines it. They have, in part and sum, never been better. There are 14 songs on Blue Rev, making it not only the longest Alvvays album but also the most harmonically rich and lyrically provocative.

                                                                                                              There are newly aggressive moments here—the gleeful and snarling guitar solo at the heart of opener “Pharmacist,” or the explosive cacophony near the middle of “Many Mirrors.” And there are some purely beautiful spans, too—the church- organ fantasia of “Fourth Figure,” or the blue-skies bridge of “Belinda Says.” But the power and magic of Blue Rev stems from Alvvays’ ability to bridge ostensible binaries, to fuse elements that seem antithetical in single songs—cynicism and empathy, anger and play, clatter and melody, the soft and the steely. The luminous poser kiss-off of “Velveteen,” the lovelorn confusion of “Tile by Tile,” the panicked but somehow reassuring rush of “After the Earthquake”.

                                                                                                              The songs of Blue Rev thrive on immediacy and intricacy, so good on first listen that the subsequent spins where you hear all the details are an inevitability.

                                                                                                              This perfectly dovetailed sound stems from an unorthodox—and, for Alvvays, wholly surprising—recording process, unlike anything they’ve ever done. Alvvays are fans of fastidious demos, making maps of new tunes so complete they might as well have topographical contour lines.

                                                                                                              But in October 2021, when they arrived at a Los Angeles studio with fellow Canadian Shawn Everett, he urged them to forget the careful planning they’d done and just play the stuff, straight to tape. On the second day, they ripped through Blue Rev front-to-back twice, pausing only 15 seconds between songs and only 30 minutes between full album takes. And then, as Everett has done on recent albums by The War on Drugs and Kacey Musgraves, he spent an obsessive amount of time alongside Alvvays filling in the cracks, roughing up the surfaces, and mixing the results. This hybridized approach allowed the band to harness each song’s absolute core, then grace it with texture and depth. Notice the way, for instance, that “Tom Verlaine” bursts into a jittery jangle; then marvel at the drums and drum machines ricocheting off one another, the harmonies that crisscross, and the stacks of guitar that rise between riff and hiss, subtle but essential layers that reveal themselves in time.

                                                                                                              Every element of Alvvays leveled up in the long interim between albums: Riley is a classic dynamo of a drummer, with the power of a rock deity and the finesse of a jazz pedigree. Their roommate, in-demand bassist Blackwell, finds the center of a song and entrenches it. Keyboardist Kerri MacLellan joined Rankin and guitarist Alec O’Hanley to write more this time, reinforcing the band’s collective quest to break patterns heard on their first two albums.

                                                                                                              The results are beyond question: Blue Rev has more twists and surprises than Alvvays’ cumulative past, and the band seems to revel in these taken chances. This record is fun and often funny, from the hilarious reply-guy bash of “Very Online Guy” to the parodic grind of “Pomeranian Spinster.”

                                                                                                              Alvvays’ self-titled debut, released when much of the band was still in its early 20s, offered speculation about a distant future—marriage, professionalism, interplanetary citizenship. Antisocialites wrestled with the woes of the now, especially the anxieties of inching toward adulthood. Named for the sugary alcoholic beverage Rankin and MacLellan used to drink as teens on rural Cape Breton, Blue Rev looks both back at that country past and forward at an uncertain world, reckoning with what we lose whenever we make a choice about what we want to become.

                                                                                                              The spinster with her Pomeranians or Belinda with her babies? The kid fleeing Bristol by train or the loyalist stunned to see old friends return? “How do I gauge whether this is stasis or change?” Rankin sings during the first verse of the plangent and infectious “Easy on Your Own?” In that moment, she pulls the ties tight between past, present, and future to ask hard questions about who we’re going to become, and how. Sure, it arrives a few years later than expected, but the answer for Alvvays is actually simple: They’ve changed gradually, growing on Blue Rev into one of their generation’s most complete and riveting rock bands.

                                                                                                              STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                                              Liam says: Isn't it good to have Alvvays back ey? Fourteen tracks of dreamy shoegaze-infused jangle-pop goodness, Alvvays' 'Blue Rev' further cements the Canadian outfit as modern indie darlings and deservedly so!

                                                                                                              TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                              1 Pharmacist (2:04)
                                                                                                              2 Easy On Your Own? (2:55)
                                                                                                              3 After The Earthquake (3:05)
                                                                                                              4 Tom Verlaine (3:26)
                                                                                                              5 Pressed (2:10)
                                                                                                              6 Many Mirrors (2:59)
                                                                                                              7 Very Online Guy (2:22)
                                                                                                              8 Velveteen (3:10)
                                                                                                              9 Tile By Tile (2:58)
                                                                                                              10 Pomeranian Spinster (3:25)
                                                                                                              11 Belinda Says (2:45)
                                                                                                              12 Bored In Bristol (3:00)
                                                                                                              13 Lottery Noises (3:18)
                                                                                                              14 Fourth Figure (1:20)

                                                                                                              67 - The Advisory Circle

                                                                                                              Full Circle

                                                                                                                Full Circle is the sixth album by long time Ghost Box roster member, The Advisory Circle. Self-avowed synaesthesiac, Cate Brooks conjures a very visual fantasy in four acts (the vinyl version across four sides of a luxurious gatefold double 10”). Her tracks evoke human dramas played out against the timeless backdrop of a utopian built environment, where leisure, luxury, elegance and romance are always in fashion.

                                                                                                                Brooks' music is by turns ambient, dramatic, upbeat and melancholic. It's instrumental electronica of the very highest calibre, an expert and masterly manipulation of electronic equipment both old and new. Light touches of acoustic and electric instrumentation and flourishes of both tape and digital sound manipulation add colour throughout.

                                                                                                                This long running solo project is saturated in 70s and 80s TV and library music influences, and in some ways Full Circle is a call back to the 2005 debut EP Mind How You Go. However, the music and production have evolved over the yers, into a distinctively rich and three dimensional soundworld. The album wears its influences and sonic components proudly, but feels contemporary, cool, and fresh. Brooks' music career predates and now transcends the world of hauntological electronica that it inspired.

                                                                                                                STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                                                Barry says: 2018's 'Ways Of Seeing' was one of our collective favourites of that year and my absolute no. 1, and the wonderful 'Full Circle' could even top that. Beautiful cascading melodies, rich basslines and woozy saturation form into the quintessential AC offering, and one that reveals more on each subsequent listen. Yet another masterpiece from Brooks.

                                                                                                                TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                                1. Full Circle
                                                                                                                2. Wait Hear Now
                                                                                                                3. Time Immemorial
                                                                                                                4. Autres Voix
                                                                                                                5. Russian Doll
                                                                                                                6. Blueprint
                                                                                                                7. Recovery Process
                                                                                                                8. Just A Dream
                                                                                                                9. Fit For Purpose
                                                                                                                10. Away Days
                                                                                                                11. Inner Activity
                                                                                                                12. Situation One
                                                                                                                13. The Architecture
                                                                                                                14. Sky Court
                                                                                                                15. The Luxury Spectrum
                                                                                                                16. Full Circle Logotone

                                                                                                                68 - Tess Parks

                                                                                                                And Those Who Were Seen Dancing

                                                                                                                  Toronto-born, London-based artist Tess Parks returns with her long-awaited new album ‘And Those Who Were Seen Dancing’ via Fuzz Club Records. Following years of international touring and a lengthy list of critically-acclaimed collaborations with Brian Jonestown Massacre’s Anton Newcombe in recent years (most recently the duo’s self-titled 2018 LP), the new album will be Parks’ first full-length solo offering since her much-loved debut album, ‘Blood Hot’, was released back in 2013 on Alan McGee’s 359 Music label.

                                                                                                                  “In my mind, this album is like hopscotch”, Parks says: “These songs were pieced together over time in London, Toronto and Los Angeles with friends and family between August 2019 and March 2021. So many other versions of these songs exist. The recording and final completion of this album took over two years and wow - the lesson I have learned the most is that words are spells. If I didn’t know it before, I know it now for sure. I only want to put good out into the universe.” A growing disillusionment with the state of the world paired with an injury that stopped Parks from being able to play guitar and piano for months meant the album was nearly shelved.

                                                                                                                  “I really felt discouraged to complete this album”, she recalls: “I stopped listening to music for honestly about a year altogether and turned to painting instead. I really had to convince myself again that it’s important to just share whatever good we can - having faith in ourselves to know that our lights can shine on and on through other people and for other people. The thought of anyone not sharing their art or being shy of anything they create seems like a real tragedy to me. Even if it’s not perfect, you’re capturing a moment.” Recorded over a two year period but with songs, lyrics and ideas dating back over a decade in some form, ‘And Those Who Were Seen Dancing’ is an album full of such moments, people and places.

                                                                                                                  STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                                                  Barry says: The brilliant Tess Parks brings another selection of woozy psychedelic ballads, imbued with a glimmer of 1970's folk and Americana but without a doubt a sound all of her own. Lysergic, heady and hypnotic audio bliss.

                                                                                                                  TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                                  1. WOW
                                                                                                                  2. Suzy & Sally's Eternal Return
                                                                                                                  3. Happy Birthday Forever
                                                                                                                  4. We Are The Music Makers And We Are The Dreamers Of Dreams
                                                                                                                  5. Brexit At Tiffany's
                                                                                                                  6. Old Life
                                                                                                                  7. Do You Pray?
                                                                                                                  8. Good Morning Glory
                                                                                                                  9. I See Angels
                                                                                                                  10. Saint Michael

                                                                                                                  69 - Widowspeak

                                                                                                                  The Jacket

                                                                                                                    Written in the months before and after the release of their critically acclaimed fifth album Plum, The Jacket feels like a full-circle moment for the duo of singer-songwriter Molly Hamilton and guitarist Robert Earl Thomas. Thematically, it considers Plum’s broader questions about the values ascribed to one’s time and labor through the more refined lens of performance and music-making. This is due in part to the band’s recent return to New York City, the site of their own origin story, where they recorded The Jacket at the Diamond Mine with coproducer and noted Daptone Records affiliate Homer Steinweiss.

                                                                                                                    Reunions always breed reflection, and Hamilton admits that much of the album’s themes are tied to formative experiences in the band’s own early years. Some songs speak to the process of moving on (“Unwind”, “Salt”), while others muse about regret (“True Blue”, “Forget It”). The album’s namesake track considers the literal and figurative costumes we dress our personalities in: imbued with meaning and sense of time and place, becoming so representative of who we think we are before they’re ultimately left behind. The symbolic spaces of work, music, nightlife are seen through the haze of recalling one’s own unknown legends.

                                                                                                                    Sonically, The Jacket finds the band at their usual and best: dynamics shift seamlessly between gentle, drifting ballads and twangy jams, built up from layered guitars, dusty percussion and ambling bass lines. Elsewhere: whimsical flutes, choral textures, and basement organs. Thomas’s guitar playing is as lyrical and emotive as it’s ever been, and Hamilton’s voice: comfortable and effortless. This seamless dynamic is amplified perfectly in the mix by Chris Coady (Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Beach House). Widowspeak expertly pepper in slow-core, dream-pop, pacific northwest indie, and outlaw country, resulting in a 60s-meets-90s aesthetic. This sense of sonic nostalgia adds another layer to lyrics that reflect on old selves, invented and true. The Jacket is a wizened meditation on performance and past lives from a band who’ve seen their fair share, hitting their stride now over a decade in.

                                                                                                                    STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                                                    Barry says: Grooving bass and flickering percussion underpin the psychedelic vocal delivery and hypnotic driven guitars of the brilliant Widowspeak, and it's on 'The Jacket' we really get to see them shine. A wonderfully engrossing and brilliantly satisfying listen.

                                                                                                                    TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                                    1. While You Wait
                                                                                                                    2. Everything Is Simple
                                                                                                                    3. Salt
                                                                                                                    4. True Blue
                                                                                                                    5. The Jacket
                                                                                                                    6. Unwind
                                                                                                                    7. The Drive
                                                                                                                    8. Slow Dance
                                                                                                                    9. Forget It
                                                                                                                    10. Sleeper

                                                                                                                    70 - Daniel Avery

                                                                                                                    Ultra Truth

                                                                                                                      “I’m in the middle of something I can’t wake up from. And you’re part of it” - Ache Ultra Truth finds me in a very different place to where I’ve been before. My previous albums have all focused on the idea of music being an escape or a distraction from the world but that’s not the case this time. For me this album is about looking directly into the fire, not running away from it. There’s a way through but it involves keeping the important people in your life close to you and navigating the darkness together. This is an intentionally heavy and dense album, the edges frayed by flames. There are hooks but finding them all requires effort from the listener. I want to be incredibly clear that this is not a club album made by a DJ - I couldn’t feel further away from that description right now. I’m no longer dealing in a misty-eyed euphoria. Ultra Truth is a distorted fever dream of a record: noisy, determined and alive. 

                                                                                                                      David Lynch, Nine Inch Nails, Bjork, David Fincher, Silent Hill, Wu-Tang, Chris Cunningham, Nick Cave, PJ Harvey, Deftones, Portishead, Massive Attack, Silent Hill, Hype Williams, Smashing Pumpkins, Kid A….

                                                                                                                      There’s a running theme through all of these influences, something that could crudely described as futuristic gothic noir. It all has a dark, often aggressive edge to it but, importantly, it all has a certain swagger that I was so captivated by in my younger years. That’s where the power lies: it says “this is a leftfield corner of culture but there’s a place here for you here if you want it.” That’s what I felt as a teenager and something I’m carrying through with Ultra Truth. A walk through the darkness together. In every way possible, I’d like to position this album in the world of artists and bands, well away from nightclubs.

                                                                                                                      “Beyond the silent shadow Under the weight of a collapsing sky Close your eyes, and look to the light”

                                                                                                                      - Ultra Truth

                                                                                                                      This is the first time I’ve brought together so many people to join me on the journey and each guest plays a crucial role. I’ve always loved Marie Davidson’s punk approach so she was an obvious choice to open the album; Kelly Lee Owens returns, ten years after being the voice of Drone Logic and now a bona fide superstar in her own right; HAAi is an amazing friend and supernova artist whose beautiful singing voice I’m incredibly proud to feature twice on the record; Matty Healy is a figure I feel isn’t afraid to publicly look into the darkness himself, despite being a huge pop star; Sherelle is probably the most exciting DJ in the world right now and someone who does things entirely on her own terms; Jonnine is the singer from HTRK, one of my favourite bands of all time - having her on Only feels like a dream; James Massiah is a poet whose words feel like they shake the floor when spoken - I needed someone to finish the record with that weight; AK Paul is a soulful force of nature in the studio and the track Ache is just one of the things we’ve been working on; James Greenwood aka Ghost Culture has been my writing/studio partner for over ten years and I’ve always wanted to get his saxophone playing on a track; Manni Dee’s inimitable, burning touch can be felt on literally every second of the record as can that of mixing genius Marta Salogni. This is a collective effort throughout.

                                                                                                                      “The reprise of promise is here Fresh with broken haze Atop the Shadow Mountain Burns the fire of better days”

                                                                                                                      - Chaos Energy

                                                                                                                      STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                                                      Barry says: 'Ultra Truth' takes all of Avery's melodic expertise and subverts it beneath a crashing wave of shuddering percussion and sidechained pads. It's like some of Alessandro Cortini's fractured synth gloom rubbed off on Avery after their superb collaborative LP from 2020, and it's a wonderful divergence. Uncompromising and wholly mesmerising.

                                                                                                                      TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                                      New Faith
                                                                                                                      Ultra Truth
                                                                                                                      Wall Of Sleep
                                                                                                                      The Slow Bullet
                                                                                                                      Near Perfect
                                                                                                                      Collapsing Sky
                                                                                                                      Lone Swordsman
                                                                                                                      Overflowing With Escape
                                                                                                                      Chaos Energy
                                                                                                                      Heavy Rain
                                                                                                                      Trip (vinyl Only)
                                                                                                                      Time Takes A While (cd Only)
                                                                                                                      Out Of Silence (cassette Only)

                                                                                                                      71 - Gemma Cullingford

                                                                                                                      Tongue Tied

                                                                                                                        ‘Tongue Tied’ is the sophomore album from Gemma Cullingford (Sink Ya Teeth). Written and produced from Gemma's humble home studio in Norfolk, ‘Tongue Tied’ blends many styles of electronica from 70's experimental and new wave, early 80's electro, acid house and techno to noughties electro clash, topped with her own vocal style to produce a unique and fresh sound. It explores relationships and the different emotions they can bring, from paranoia, yearning and helplessness to lust, shyness and just downright wanting to dance.

                                                                                                                        ‘Tongue Tied’ is a progressive follow up to her debut ‘Let Me Speak’ which garnered support from the likes of Steve Lamacq, Amy Lame, Nemone, Chris Hawkins, Jamz Supernova, John Kennedy and James Endeacott, plus glowing reviews in Mojo, Uncut and Electronic Sound.

                                                                                                                        For the cover artwork on ‘Tongue Tied’, Gemma has collaborated with visual artist Kelda Storm who shares Gemma's love for bright, contrasting neon colours and minimal bold designs. She uses the iconography of feminine lips across her work as a symbol of speech and voice.

                                                                                                                        RIYL: Sink Ya Teeth, Lonelady, A Certain Ratio.

                                                                                                                        TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                                        Side A
                                                                                                                        1. Accessory
                                                                                                                        2. Tongue Tied
                                                                                                                        3. Bass Face
                                                                                                                        4. Holding Dreams
                                                                                                                        5. Mechanical
                                                                                                                        Side B
                                                                                                                        6. New Day
                                                                                                                        7. No Fail
                                                                                                                        8. Chronicle Of Sound
                                                                                                                        9. Red Room
                                                                                                                        10. Daisy

                                                                                                                        Islandman are a musical trio from Istanbul and "Godless Ceremony" is their third album, released via our much treasured friends at Music For Dreams. Alligance with the label is bound to signify a degree of horizontal leaning, and across the double album Islandman explore slow-mo Balearic chug, eastern melodies, downtempo house, expansive horizons and sun scorched air. An incendiary, uplifting and psychedelic slew of music drawn from a world of make-believe, rooted in Anatolia and rich with exotic beauty.

                                                                                                                        These 13 tracks are awash with acid drenched electronic motifs and stuttering electronic drum machine syncopations. The group effortlessly sail the globe, dropping into the tropics of Ecuador ("Amarnos Ahora"), to Mali visiting North African desert blues masters Tamikrest ("Tarhamanine Assinegh") and North India ("Drums Of Colca") whilst never forgetting the music and poetry from the band's spiritual home, Anatolia ("Kara Toprak"). In "Godless Ceremony" we are withdrawn from time and place, delivered to a fantasy zone, dreamt up in the sea, gazing at the stars. It's a musical storyboard, that whilst conceived in Istanbul by producer, singer and multi instrumentalist Tolga Böyük, journeys to far off places, real and imagined. Hindustani tablas, Tibetan flutes, flamenco guitars, Anatolian Saz and Balinese (Bhasa) vocals all mesh within a concept (and coping mechanism) that contemplates daily routine as beautiful and meditative and as Tolga has appreciated over a testing two years i

                                                                                                                        The core members of Islandman are multi-instrumentalist & producer, Tolga Böyük and Eralp Güven (percussion) and Erdem Başer (guitars). Islandman have become known for their live performances, as anyone who has witnessed their live streams from Istanbul for the London Jazz Festival and Boiler Room can attest to.

                                                                                                                        Islandman simply avoids boundaries and "Godless Ceremony" is ultimately their most open-minded work to date. The subtleties and deft electronic touches bewilder and their clear appreciation of music on a global level is an education for us all.

                                                                                                                        STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                                                        Barry says: Godless Ceremony sits perfectly in-between the dancefloor and the beach, with tropical rhythms and airy ambience beautifully twisting around a solid core of deep-house percussion and euphoric vocal melodies. Perfectly measured and beautifully rich.

                                                                                                                        TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                                        A1 Kara Toprak
                                                                                                                        A2 Sattva
                                                                                                                        A3 Aku Membawa - Radio Edit
                                                                                                                        A4 Sad Walk
                                                                                                                        B1 Tarhamanine Assinegh Feat. Tamikreast
                                                                                                                        B2 Drums Of Colca
                                                                                                                        B3 Istanbul Lockdown
                                                                                                                        C1 Amarnos Ahora
                                                                                                                        C2 Godless Ceremony
                                                                                                                        C3 Eros Dosco Bossa
                                                                                                                        D1 Dere Boyu Kavaklar
                                                                                                                        D2 Self Hypnosis
                                                                                                                        D3 Gaze Into An Abyss

                                                                                                                        73 - Kelly Lee Owens


                                                                                                                          After releasing her sophomore album Inner Song in the midst of the pandemic, Kelly Lee Owens was faced with the sudden realisation that her world tour could no longer go ahead. Keen to make use of this untapped creative energy, she made the spontaneous decision to go to Oslo instead. There was no overarching plan, it was simply a change of scenery and a chance for some undisturbed studio time. It just so happened that her flight from London was the last before borders were closed once again. The blank page project was underway.

                                                                                                                          Arriving to snowglobe conditions and sub-zero temperatures, she began spending time in the studio with Lasse Marhaug. An esteemed avant-noise artist, Marhaug envisioned making music that would fall loosely in line with Throbbing Gristle. Kelly, on the other hand, had planned to create something inspired by Enya, an artist who has had an enduring impact on her creative being. They met each other halfway, pairing tough, industrial sounds with ethereal celtic mysticism, and creating music that ebbs and flows between tension and release.

                                                                                                                          One month later, Kelly called her label to tell them she had created something of an outlier, her ‘eighth album’.

                                                                                                                          TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                                          SIDE A
                                                                                                                          1. Release
                                                                                                                          2. Voice
                                                                                                                          3. Anadlu
                                                                                                                          4. S.O (2)

                                                                                                                          SIDE B
                                                                                                                          5. Olga
                                                                                                                          6. Nana Piano
                                                                                                                          7. One
                                                                                                                          8. Quickening
                                                                                                                          9. Sonic 8 

                                                                                                                          74 - Melody's Echo Chamber

                                                                                                                          Emotional Eternal

                                                                                                                            Emotional Eternal, the third studio album from Melody’s Echo Chamber, is a deeply human collection of songs full of prolonged moments of sonic transcendency – a record that clearly exhibits its maturity but still regards the world with a childlike wonder. Having swapped Paris for the clean air of the Alps, Melody hopes the record “has that uplifting quality. I made some big and impactful decisions and changes to my life. It took me to where it is peaceful, and I think the record reflects this.”

                                                                                                                            STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                                                            Barry says: Melody's Echo Chamber lies in the sweet spot between tropical, psychedelic pop (think the recent Pop Psychedelique Comp) and jangling indie, both anthemic and dreamy. A Brilliant and hugely melodic juxtaposition of thoughtful groove and major-key jubilance.

                                                                                                                            75 - Hannah Peel & Paraorchestra

                                                                                                                            The Unfolding

                                                                                                                              There are pieces of music that seek to tell us deeper stories. Others harness the talents of the players at their disposal in adventurous ways. Then there are the rare, generous works that make us think back to our roots as human beings and to our shared beginnings in the universe, that lift us in their melodies, rhythms and textures, that carry us with them.

                                                                                                                              The Unfolding is all of these things. An extraordinary eight-part collaboration between composer Hannah Peel (Mercury Prize and Emmy nominee) and Paraorchestra, it was made over three years in precious morsels of time around a global pandemic. These circumstances – unexpected when the collaboration began – add weight to its explorations in sound about who we are, where we came from, and who we could all be. The Unfolding also explores Paraorchestra’s progressive idea of what an orchestra should be, mixing analogue, digital and assistive instruments with a unique ensemble of disabled and non-disabled musicians to make magic happen, and accessible to all.

                                                                                                                              STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                                                              Barry says: Surpassing the meditative shimmer and oscillating beauty of last years' 'Fir Wave' was never going to be easy, but this is the most strikingly beautiful piece of work I think she's ever done. Choral and otherworldly, but imbued with a levity and optimistic glimmer that Peel does so well. Mindblowing.

                                                                                                                              TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                                              Side A
                                                                                                                              A1. The Universe Before Matter [10:58]
                                                                                                                              A2. Wild Animal [3:55]
                                                                                                                              Side B
                                                                                                                              B1. Passage [5:22]
                                                                                                                              B2. The Unfolding [5:47]
                                                                                                                              Side C
                                                                                                                              C1. If After Weeks Of Early Sun [4:16]
                                                                                                                              C2. Perhaps It Made Us Happy For A Minute [4:17]
                                                                                                                              C3. We Are Part Mineral [6:06]
                                                                                                                              Side D
                                                                                                                              D1. Part Cloud [10:31]
                                                                                                                              D2. The Unfolding Credits Instrumental Version [02:19] *vinyl Exclusive Not On CD*
                                                                                                                              D3. The Unfolding Credits [02:19]

                                                                                                                              76 - Nils Frahm

                                                                                                                              Music For Animals

                                                                                                                                Nils Frahm returns with an expansive new album, Music For Animals, his first fresh studio material since 2018’s ‘All Melody’ and 2019’s associated ‘All Encores’. Containing ten tracks and clocking in at over three hours long, it’s an ambitious and compelling set different to anything Frahm’s released to date – in fact, it finds the Piano Day founder declining to use a piano – but at the same time retains many of the qualities that have set the influential musician’s work apart over much of the last two decades.

                                                                                                                                Unfolding at an unhurried, meditative pace in a celebration of tone, timbre and texture – and thus of sound itself – Music For Animals offers an unusually immersive experience. “My constant inspiration,” Frahm explains, “was something as mesmerising as watching a great waterfall or the leaves on a tree in a storm. It’s good we have symphonies and music where there’s a development, but a waterfall doesn’t need an Act 1, 2, 3, then an outcome, and nor do the leaves on a tree in a storm. Some people like watching the leaves rustle and the branches move. This record is for them”.

                                                                                                                                Music For Animals is a substantial collection that encourages listeners to bask in its tranquility at their chosen depth, demanding only as much attention as they wish to contribute. As Frahm himself happily points out, “It all comes back to that waterfall. If you want to watch it, watch it. If you don’t, then you don’t have to. It will always be the same, yet never quite the same.” Indeed, that’s Music For Animals’ greatest strength. Instantly recognisable, it’s still like nothing else.

                                                                                                                                TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                                                The Dog With 1000 Faces
                                                                                                                                Mussel Memory
                                                                                                                                Seagull Scene
                                                                                                                                Sheep In Black And White
                                                                                                                                Stepping Stone
                                                                                                                                Right Right Right
                                                                                                                                World Of Squares
                                                                                                                                Lemon Day
                                                                                                                                Do Dream

                                                                                                                                77 - Beth Orton

                                                                                                                                Weather Alive

                                                                                                                                  “Through the writing of these songs and the making of this music, I found my way back to the world around me – a way to reach nature and the people I love and care about. This record is a sensory exploration that allowed for a connection to a consciousness that I was searching for. Through the resonance of sound and a beaten up old piano I bought in Camden Market while living in a city I had no intention of staying in, I found acceptance and a way of healing.” - Beth Orton

                                                                                                                                  Many musicians turn inward when the world around them seems chaotic and unreliable. Reframing one’s perception of self can often reveal new personal truths both uncomfortable and profound, and for Beth Orton, music re-emerged in the past several years as a tethering force even when her own life felt more tumultuous than ever. Indeed, the foundations of the songs on Orton’s stunning new album, Weather Alive, are nothing more than her voice and a “cheap, crappy” upright piano installed in a shed in her garden, conjuring a deeply meditative atmosphere that remains long after the final note has evaporated.

                                                                                                                                  “I am known as a collaborator and I’m very good at it. I’m very open to it. Sometimes, I’ve been obscured by it,” says Orton, who rose to prominence through ‘90s-era collaborations with William Orbit, Red Snapper and The Chemical Brothers before striking out on her own with a series of acclaimed, award-winning solo releases. “I think what’s happened with this record is that through being cornered by life, I got to reveal myself to myself and to collaborate with myself, actually.”

                                                                                                                                  TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                                                  1. Weather Alive
                                                                                                                                  2. Friday Night
                                                                                                                                  3. Fractals
                                                                                                                                  4. Haunted Satellite
                                                                                                                                  5. Forever Young
                                                                                                                                  6. Lonely
                                                                                                                                  7. Arms Around A Memory
                                                                                                                                  8. Unwritten

                                                                                                                                  78 - Hudson Mohawke

                                                                                                                                  Cry Sugar

                                                                                                                                    Hudson Mohawke’s third album, ‘Cry Sugar’, deepens his practice of producing motivational music for club goers - uplifting the debauchery and inspiring many through his own brand of anthemic maximalism.

                                                                                                                                    Trading in his lineage in dark UK back alleys filled with Glaswegian antipathy for studio sessions with blazed Pavarotti-inspired tenors and drunk string quartets, Mohawke has dialled in an ongoing fascination with melding high and low culture. Afterall, he is indeed the architect for the high peaks of high-definition trap production that became embellished in the 2010s - a style that has been appropriated in everything from beer can-littered college parties to Arby’s commercials.

                                                                                                                                    American decadence, then, becomes a stage forhis music to thrive - where the DJ booth becomes a composer’s podium for him to conduct the tense drama between debauchery and apocalypse, the ‘mise-en-scene’ of club culture in 2022.

                                                                                                                                    STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                                                                    Matt says: Technicoloured, wide-screen bass and synth luminary Hudson Mohawke returns with more of his 5D, extra-fidelity sonic explosions. Taking cues off everything from opera to trap, there's few that push the envelope in such grandiose ways.

                                                                                                                                    TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                                                    A1. Ingle Nook
                                                                                                                                    A2. Intentions
                                                                                                                                    A3. Expo
                                                                                                                                    A4. Behold
                                                                                                                                    A5. Bicstan
                                                                                                                                    A6. Stump
                                                                                                                                    B1. Dance Forever
                                                                                                                                    B2. Bow
                                                                                                                                    B3. Is It Supposed
                                                                                                                                    B4. Lonely Days
                                                                                                                                    C1. Redeem
                                                                                                                                    C2. Rain Shadow
                                                                                                                                    C3. KPIPE
                                                                                                                                    C4. 3 Sheets To The Wind
                                                                                                                                    C5. Some Buzz
                                                                                                                                    D1. Tincture
                                                                                                                                    D2. Nork 69
                                                                                                                                    D3. Come A Little Closer
                                                                                                                                    D4. Ingle Nook Slumber

                                                                                                                                    Even in trying times, “there is no love without electricity.” Electricity is the fourth and most progressive album from Ibibio Sound Machine, and like all good Afrofuturist stories, it begins with an existential crisis. “It’s darker than anything we’ve done previously,” says Eno Williams, the group’s singer. “That’s because it grew out of the turbulence of the past year. It inhabits an edgier world.”

                                                                                                                                    Electricity was produced by the Grammy Award and Mercury Prize nominated British synthpop group Hot Chip, a collaboration born out of mutual admiration watching each other on festival stages, as well as a shared love of Francis Bebey and Giorgio Moroder. The fruits of their labor reveal a gleaming, supercharged, Afrofuturist blinder. Electricity is the first album Ibibio Sound Machine have made with external producers since the group’s formation in London in 2013 by Williams and saxophonist Max Grunhard. True, 2017’s Uyai featured mixdown guests including Dan Leavers, aka Danalogue, the keyboard jedi in future-jazz trio The Comet Is Coming, but Hot Chip and Ibibio Sound Machine worked together more deeply throughout the process, collaborating fully. Along the way, the team conjured a kaleidoscope of delights that include resonances of Jonzun Crew, Grace Jones, William Onyeabor, Tom Tom Club, Kae Tempest, Keith LeBlanc, The J.B.’s, Jon Hassell’s “Fourth World,” and Bootsy Collins.

                                                                                                                                    The hook of opener “Protection From Evil” has Williams wielding a massive synth line from Hot Chip’s Al Doyle like a spiritual shield against unspecified, malign forces unspecified because Williams is speaking in tongues. Her lyrics are onomatopoeic: their meaning is defined in her energetic delivery. As Electricity takes off, so do Williams’ words towards a brighter future, alternating between English and Ibibio, sometimes within verses, and propelled by Joseph Amoako’s unabating afrobeat. She digs into this sentiment further on single “All That You Want,” coolly assuring her romantic interest while also requesting reciprocity. Meanwhile, Scott Baylis’ playful Juno synth guides the listener’s feet along the dancefloor.

                                                                                                                                    Electricity is a deep and seamless realization of Williams’ and Grunhard’s ambitious founding manifesto to combine the singularly rhythmic character of the Ibibio language which Williams spoke growing up in Nigeria with a range of traditional West African music and more modern electronic sounds. While the band enjoys veering further into electronic territory with the help of mutuals like Hot Chip, Grunhard emphasizes, “For us, it’s not just a matter of embracing new technology. What’s key is to keep the music grounded in African roots.” Ibibio Sound Machine best exemplify this on Electricity’s “Freedom.” That track was inspired by the water-drumming rhythms of Cameroon’s Baka women, which in turn fueled its lyrics, which in turn prompted Hot Chip and Ibibio Sound Machine to layer joyfully kinetic electronic counterparts on top in the studio. As the track culminates with the mantra of “rage, hope, cope, soul,” it’s clear that Ibibio Sound Machine have channelled, harnessed, and distilled these words as guiding principles, both for the album and for the turbulent world that awaits it.

                                                                                                                                    STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                                                                    Barry says: I remember buying ISM's self titled album from this very shop around 2014 because it was recommended highly, and it couldn't have been more of a welcome punt. It turns out that they've only gone from strength to strength, and 'Electricity' absolutely shines with the raw groove and scattered influences of the earlier LP's, but with a much more honed sense of rhythm and melody. Absolutely, unsurprisingly brilliant.

                                                                                                                                    TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                                                    SIDE A
                                                                                                                                    1. Protection From Evil
                                                                                                                                    2 .Electricity
                                                                                                                                    3 .Casio (Yak Nda Nda)
                                                                                                                                    4. Afo Ken Doko Mien
                                                                                                                                    SIDE B
                                                                                                                                    5. All That You Want
                                                                                                                                    6. Wanna See Your Face Again
                                                                                                                                    7. 17 18 19
                                                                                                                                    8. Truth No Lie
                                                                                                                                    9. Oyoyo

                                                                                                                                    CD & LP3 Download Bonus:
                                                                                                                                    10. Something We’ll Remember
                                                                                                                                    11. Almost Flying
                                                                                                                                    12. Freedom

                                                                                                                                    80 - Ron Trent

                                                                                                                                    Presents WARM - What Do The Stars Say To You

                                                                                                                                      In 1990 Ronald Lee Trent Jr. was the teenage creator of Altered States – a raw, futuristic techno-not-techno anthem, which in retrospect was something of a stylistic anomaly for the young artist. Across subsequent years, with time spent in Chicago, New York and Detroit, came the development of his signature sound, and renown as a world class purveyor of deep, soul infused house/garage. This story has already been told, and on casual inspection, the well-worn platitude ‘house music legend’ is an old shoe that still fits. However, in fact, he’s actually so much more, and has been for quite a while. A genuine musician, songwriter, and ‘producer’ in the proper, old-school sense, the artist today has more in common with Quincy Jones than he does your average journeyman DJ track-hack.

                                                                                                                                      To those in the know, these broader skills haven’t gone unnoticed, which is why on the highly collaborative, career-topping new LP ‘What Do The Stars Say To You’, it took little persuasion to recruit serious star power. Brazilian royalty Ivan Conti and Alex Malheriros from Azymuth, violin maestro Jean Luc Ponty, ambient hero Gigi Masin, hype band Khruangbin and more performed, whilst NY cornerstone François K provided mastering duties. At various points Ron himself played drums, percussion, keys, synths, piano, guitar and electronics.

                                                                                                                                      Harking back to the 70s and 80s boom in adventurous, luxurious albums, WDTSSTY is a love letter to the longplayer, where rich musicality and a liquid smooth, silky flow make seemingly odd genre bedfellows acquiesce harmoniously. Each song its own high-fidelity odyssey, Trent incorporated a broad range of live instruments and electronics into a sophisticated, euphonic whole. Described by him as being “designed for harmonising with spirit, urban life and nature”, this is aural soul food, gently easing you into balmy nights, where everything is alright.

                                                                                                                                      Originally wanting to be an architect, Trent’s views his approach to collaboration and music in general as having the same principles. A firm believer in the nourishing qualities of sound, he sees direct parallels between the two disciplines, being as the purpose of good architecture is to improve quality of life. “With WARM, through sound design, I built frameworks for the musicians, who furnished and occupied these struc tures beautifully, which was a big compliment for me”, he comments.

                                                                                                                                      The conditions required for a good collab are more than simply structural though, as Trent expounds, “I’m a huge fan of everyone on the record, especially Jean Luc and Azymuth, who’re part of my DNA. Each track was made with that guest in mind – for example, when I started writing ‘Sphere’, I immediately thought ‘this IS Ponty’. I played the keys in his style, and did a guide violin solo using a synth, which he then redid, amazingly. ‘Cool Water’ is based around Azymuth themes, so when I sent it to Ivan, he could immediately see himself in the piece; He got what I was going for straight away. For ‘Melt Into You’ I hit up Alex on Instagram, sent him the track, he liked it, and within 24 hours he’d sent back six different bass passes!”

                                                                                                                                      STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                                                                      Matt says: The deep house legend’s downbeat and highly musical offering features a wealth of collaborators and sees him mature like good whiskey – full of flavour and depth.

                                                                                                                                      TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                                                      A1. Cool Water Feat. Ivan Conti (Azymuth) And Lars Bartkuhn
                                                                                                                                      A2. Cycle Of Many
                                                                                                                                      A3. Admira Feat. Gigi Masin
                                                                                                                                      A4. Flowers Feat. Venecia
                                                                                                                                      A5. Melt Into You Feat. Alex Malheiros (Azymuth)
                                                                                                                                      B1. Flos Potentia (Sugar, Cotton, Tabacco) Feat. Khruangbin
                                                                                                                                      B2. Sphere Feat. Jean-Luc Ponty
                                                                                                                                      B3. WARM
                                                                                                                                      B4. On My Way Home
                                                                                                                                      B5. What Do The Stars Say To You

                                                                                                                                      81 - Bodega

                                                                                                                                      Broken Equipment

                                                                                                                                        The follow-up to the band's acclaimed debut album, Endless Scroll (2018), and 2019's Shiny New Model EP, Broken Equipment was inspired by a book club. In the early months of 2020, the Brooklyn art-punk incendiaries gathered together with close friends to study the works of a wide range of philosophers. Passionate debates lasting long into the night became a regular occurrence, motivating the band to become as ideologically unified as the weighty tomes they were reading. Broken Equipment is Bodega’s attempt to interrogate the external factors that make them who they are, propelling existential quandaries with tongue-in-cheek humour, highly personal lyrics, and irresistible grooves.

                                                                                                                                        Since Bodega’s formation in 2016, Ben and Nikki (who previously played together in the band Bodega Bay) have experienced a rare meteoric rise. The duo double as filmmakers, earning acclaim for their 2020 erotic drama PVT Chat starring Peter Vack, Julia Fox, and other recognizable faces from the Safdie Brothers’ cinematic universe. When the pandemic forced them to hit pause, they used the opportunity to regroup with drummer/performance artist Tai Lee, bassist/book club leader Adam See, and lead guitarist Dan Ryan. Broken Equipment was produced by Ben himself with Bobby Lewis, Bodega’s NYC live sound mixer. The record was mixed by Bryce Goggin, whom the band sought out for his work with Pavement, and Adam Sachs (WIVES).

                                                                                                                                        The album’s 12 songs are set in present day New York City, packing in references to contemporary issues of algorithmic targeting, media gentrification, and the band itself. On 'NYC (disambiguation)', they break down how the Big Apple was “founded by a corporation” and history remains alive in the present. The poetic 'Pillar on the Bridge of You' is the first love song Ben ever wrote for Nikki, while 'All Past Lovers' gazes back to the “southern belle” and “chat room suitor” who still live inside him today.

                                                                                                                                        To accompany the propulsive pace of 'Statuette on the Console' and its lyrics about switching perspectives, Nikki recorded alternate versions in eight different languages. “I used God in that song as this arch overlord character, but it could also be a real estate developer,” she explains. “It’s about anyone who puts their reality on your back and forces you to carry it around.” In that song, Nikki also wryly states that although she doesn’t have faith in this particular “God,” she is still “living life with (my) platitudes.” On 'Territorial Call of the Female', Nikki playfully quips that “when the man is around that’s when I’m putting you down,” highlighting how in the past she unknowingly reinforced patriarchal values by turning against other women to attract men. It’s moments like these where Bodega most exemplifies their self-professed motto that “the best critique is self critique.”

                                                                                                                                        As the band’s art director, Nikki commissioned the sculpture featured on the cover of Broken Equipment as a companion to the cover of their debut, Endless Scroll. “They’re in the same world,” she explains. “The Endless Scroll sculpture was kind of shaped like a computer but also a gavel that a judge would have. That album was about how we do not yet know in the information age what technology is doing to our brains. It was almost on the precipice of a judgement. Now, with the pointing finger machine on the cover of Broken Equipment, I wanted to convey the sense in which social media and Web 2.0 turn people who would otherwise be allies against each other.”

                                                                                                                                        STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                                                                        Barry says: There has been a huge surge in this sort of clashing post-punk of late but I remember Bodega's 2018 outing 'Endless Scroll' being one of the ones that really stuck with me, for the same reason that this is superb. Bodega craft endlessly enjoyable angular post-punk with a melodic sensibility and compositional flare you rarely see, and 'Broken Equipment' is the epitome of this. Brilliant.

                                                                                                                                        TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                                                        1. Thrown
                                                                                                                                        2. Doers
                                                                                                                                        3. Territorial Call Of The Female
                                                                                                                                        4. NYC (Disambiguation)
                                                                                                                                        5. Statuette On The Console
                                                                                                                                        6. C.I.R.P.
                                                                                                                                        7. Pillar On The Bridge Of You
                                                                                                                                        8. How Can I Help Ya?
                                                                                                                                        9. No Blade Of Grass
                                                                                                                                        10. All Past Lovers
                                                                                                                                        11. Seneca The Stoic
                                                                                                                                        12. After Jane

                                                                                                                                        82 - Bjork


                                                                                                                                          each album always starts with a feeling
                                                                                                                                          that i try to shape into sound
                                                                                                                                          this time around
                                                                                                                                          the feeling was landing
                                                                                                                                          ( after my last album utopia which was all island in the clouds element air and no bass )
                                                                                                                                          on the earth and digging my feet into the ground
                                                                                                                                          it was also woven into how i experienced the "now"
                                                                                                                                          this time around 7 billion of us did it together
                                                                                                                                          nesting in our homes quarantining
                                                                                                                                          being long enough in one place that we shot down roots
                                                                                                                                          my new album "fossora" is about that
                                                                                                                                          it is a word i made up
                                                                                                                                          it is the feminine of fossore ( digger, delver, ditcher )
                                                                                                                                          so in short it means "she who digs" ( into the ground )
                                                                                                                                          so sonically it is about bass , heavy bottom-end,
                                                                                                                                          we have 6 bass clarinets and punchy sub
                                                                                                                                          i would like to especially thank bergur þórisson and heba kadry
                                                                                                                                          side project , el guincho , hamrahlíð choir , soraya nayyar , clarinet sextet murmuri , siggi string quartet ensemble , emilie nicolas , serpentwithfeet
                                                                                                                                          viibra and last but not least : sindri and dóa .
                                                                                                                                          visuals were made by viðar logi , james merry , m/m , nick knight , andy huang , edda , isshehungry , tomi , sayaka , sunna , sara and heimir
                                                                                                                                          and my ever so loyal and magnificent team : derek , rosamary , catherine , chiara , hilma and móa

                                                                                                                                          STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                                                                          Liam says: Returning to Iceland during the pandemic, Bjork's tenth record 'Fossora' began as conceptual clarinet album that was in part inspired by the death of her mother. However 'Fossora' ultimately became, as Bjork describes it, an "Iceland album". Much like the volcanic landscape of Iceland, 'Fossora' is a vast, alluring and beautiful record that once again proves that Bjork will always be here to push the boundaries she once set - all whilst dressed as a mushroom.

                                                                                                                                          83 - Let's Eat Grandma

                                                                                                                                          Two Ribbons

                                                                                                                                            Let’s Eat Grandma released their second album, I’m All Ears, in 2018. It came out to a blaze of critical glory, thrilled fans who’d been with them since I, Gemini, and won them interested new listeners as they widened their musical scope. They won Album of the Year at the Q Awards along with many end of year list placements, toured relentlessly, played a life-changing set at Coachella, and then… they disappeared.

                                                                                                                                            ​​Two Ribbons tells the story of the last three years from both Jenny and Rosa’s points of view. As a body of work, it is astonishing: a dazzling, heart-breaking, life-affirming and mortality-facing record that reveals their growing artistry and ability to parse intense feeling into lyrics so memorable you’d scribble them on your backpack. The band has been through a lot in the last three years, and Two Ribbons is the artefact that signals some kind of progression out of distressing times; a story of loss, change, and of survival; a proof of life.

                                                                                                                                            Such was the intensity of Jenny and Rosa’s bond that when they promoted their first album, they positioned themselves as twins. Friends since early childhood, they had graduated into a teenage friendship that was unbreakable and practically telepathic. Those intense and all-consuming friendships are subject to the same ebbs and flows as any other, and as they grew older the two began to find themselves as individuals, tastes differing here, reactions jarring there. There was a time when both felt a little trapped, and needed to fight to create the space to express themselves as individuals within their relationship.

                                                                                                                                            And so the partnership began to fray. Two Ribbons can be heard as a series of letters between the two of them, taking the place of conversations as they try to make sense of the rift in their relationships. It’s a cathartic blood-letting and a devastating realisation about the fickleness of life. Though it is still very much a Let’s Eat Grandma album, for the first time there are Rosa’s songs and Jenny’s songs.

                                                                                                                                            Both Rosa and Jenny found themselves more involved in the production of this album, experimenting with new sounds and diverse instrumentations within the studio, collaborating with David Wrench, also the primary producer of I’m All Ears. On this record Rosa in particular threw herself into the behind the scenes work and driving her own sonic agenda, whilst Jenny sought to synthesise new influences to forge new spaces artistically for the group.

                                                                                                                                            The backdrop to Two Ribbons is two women navigating their way through a lot, for the first time without the tiller of each other to guide them. The songs they wrote and eventually brought to each other are little pockets of light in the darkness, signals in the night to show each other how they were feeling and what they had lost.

                                                                                                                                            Two Ribbons is an album that treads a fine line expressing the most intimate feelings of, whilst making space for, the different perspectives of two women; an album that says this is not the beginning or the end but part of a never-ending circle. It’s cyclical in nature; there is sadness, and pain, and joy, and hope – and knows that no matter what detours we take, we are all connected.

                                                                                                                                            STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                                                                            Barry says: I've definitely got a bit of a thing for synths, this much I know. I've also historically loved all sorts of synth music but particularly 80's tinged pop, I loved the Kristen Kontrol LP some years ago, Christine & The Queens AND Georgia, and 'Two Ribbons' has echoes of all the above while retaining the weird avant-pop moments that made their first couple LP's such a different prospect. Big, bold melody-focused anthems.

                                                                                                                                            TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                                                            Happy New Year
                                                                                                                                            Watching You Go
                                                                                                                                            Hall Of MirrorsInsect Loop
                                                                                                                                            Half Light
                                                                                                                                            In The Cemetery
                                                                                                                                            Strange Conversations
                                                                                                                                            Two Ribbons

                                                                                                                                            84 - Wu-Lu


                                                                                                                                              South Londoner Wu-Lu’s stunning new album contains post-genre war dubs that speak directly to these richly troubled times.

                                                                                                                                              The twelve simmering tracks from the producer, multi-instrumentalist and vocalist are made of depth-charged post-punk, thrashed-up skate-park screamo, and the gauzy hip hop that Knwxledge might make if he’d got lost round the back of The Windmill on Brixton Hill.

                                                                                                                                              It’s laced with revvy, ethereal guitars that warp and loom like electric pylons, concrete walls of bass that power out of drill-influenced, triplet-laced drums and piano melodies that pull you through. It teleports between Factory Records in the darkest 1980s and classic albums from DJ Shadow or early ‘90s Slipknot. LOGGERHEAD pulls from the past and reshapes it for now.

                                                                                                                                              STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                                                                              Barry says: Loggerhead is a gigantic, sprawling suite of fiery anthems and fragmented instrumental heft, its hip-hop influence is strong but lurches between dark instrumental weirdness and avant rock a-la Anticon Records, it's a wonderfully dynamic and wildly inventive behemoth.

                                                                                                                                              TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                                                              A1. Take Stage
                                                                                                                                              A2. Night Pill Feat. Asha
                                                                                                                                              A3. Facts Feat. AmoN
                                                                                                                                              A4. Scrambled Tricks
                                                                                                                                              A5. South Feat. Lex Amor
                                                                                                                                              A6. Calo Paste Feat. Léa Sen
                                                                                                                                              B1. Slightly
                                                                                                                                              B2. Blame
                                                                                                                                              B3. Ten
                                                                                                                                              B4. Road Trip
                                                                                                                                              B5. Times
                                                                                                                                              B6. Broken Homes

                                                                                                                                              85 - DJ Pippi & Willie Graff

                                                                                                                                              Follow Your Dreams

                                                                                                                                                The latest bounty from the Danish label’s long and fruitful relationship with the White Isle, Follow Your Dreams is a twelve plate tapas packed with the assorted styles and flavours of the Balearic sound - a complex blend delivered with a warmth, feeling and tone which bring it all together as a whole.

                                                                                                                                                Collaborating on and off over the past fifteen years, with resulting singles gracing the likes of Compost, Leng and Archipelago, DJ Pippi and Willie Graff posses a unique combination of Balearic heritage; one an Italian export who helped originate the sound and style of the genre through his legendary DJ sets at the likes of Pacha and KU in the eighties, the other a trailblazing talent born on the island, who started his residency at Pacha in summer 2000 at the tender age of 17. Their intergenerational entente speaks to Pippi’s unyielding passion for sonic progression and the musical maturity of Graff, as well as a shared love of the soulful side of the musical spectrum. Now, along with a host of friends, collaborators and fellow members of the Music For Dreams family, the Ibizan duo deliver their finest work to date.

                                                                                                                                                Their debut LP kicks off with the titular “Follow Your Dreams”, which hits the road with no jack, moving to a mellow Mediterranean swing as lithe flute and warm brass dance around the arch vocal. The effortlessly funky “Stimulation Dub” follows, the duo working with Paul Powell to establish an unhurried Compass Point groove before spacious keys send the track soaring skywards towards el cielo. The collaborations continue with MFD All Stars Charlotte Caluwaerts (Rheinzand) and Jacob Gurevitsch lending their talents to the sensual single “Piel A Piel”, while Reinhard Vanbergen (Rheinzand) brings a psychedelic touch to the arabesque “Bridge To Oran”, a beautiful journey from Es Canar to Algeria. Spaced out from the hash of the hippie market, the duo enter the astral plane on “Twilight”, reconnecting with Scottish singer Clarita De Quiroz, whose wordless vocals sit perfectly beside cosmic chord progressions and tender guitar to create a mystic mood.

                                                                                                                                                STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                                                                                Matt says: A truly Balearic flavoured offering here from these two ex-house heads. Embracing a decidedly heavy scented coastal vibe throughout, you can almost smell the calamari grilling on the grooves! Sophisticated, warm, radiant; effortless! It's got all the hallmarks of a classic. Reminds me a little of Jose Padilla's "True Colours" (2015).

                                                                                                                                                TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                                                                A1 Follow Your Dreams (Feat. Chilani)
                                                                                                                                                A2 Stimulation Dub (feat. Paul Powell)
                                                                                                                                                A3 Piel Piel (Feat. Charlotte Caluwarts & Jacob Gurevitsch)
                                                                                                                                                B1 Bridge To Oran (Feat. Reinhard Vanbergen)
                                                                                                                                                B2 Twilight (Feat, Clarita De Quiroz)
                                                                                                                                                B3 Sueños (Padilla's Tribute)
                                                                                                                                                C1 Art Of Sax (Feat. Bruno Soares)
                                                                                                                                                C2 Jaleo (Feat. Rodrigo Sha)
                                                                                                                                                C3 Space Cruiser (Feat. Roberto Lodola)
                                                                                                                                                D1 Mudo (Feat. Rodrigo Sha)
                                                                                                                                                D2 Turn The Tide (Into Love) (Feat. Chilani)
                                                                                                                                                D3 Volver (Feat. Paco Fernandez)

                                                                                                                                                86 - Father John Misty

                                                                                                                                                Chloë And The Next 20th Century

                                                                                                                                                  Father John Misty returns with 'Chloë and The Next 20th Century', his fifth album and first new material since the release of God’s Favorite Customer in 2018.

                                                                                                                                                  'Chloë and the Next 20th Century' was written and recorded August through December 2020 and features arrangements by Drew Erickson. The album sees Tillman and producer/multi-instrumentalist Jonathan Wilson resume their longtime collaboration, as well as Dave Cerminara, returning as engineer and mixer. Basic tracks were recorded at Wilson’s Five Star Studios with strings, brass and woodwinds recorded at United Recordings in a session featuring Dan Higgins and Wayne Bergeron, among others.

                                                                                                                                                  STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                                                                                  Barry says: Father John Misty has always been one of the most distinctive voices working in the middle ground between modern indie and country music, and his latest is the perfect illustration as to why he's so revered in the field. Beautifully produced and gorgeously evocative throughout, this is classic Misty.

                                                                                                                                                  TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                                                                  1 Chloë
                                                                                                                                                  2 Goodbye, Mr. Blue
                                                                                                                                                  3 Kiss Me (I Loved You)
                                                                                                                                                  4 (Everything But) Her Love
                                                                                                                                                  5 Buddy's Rendevous
                                                                                                                                                  6 Q4
                                                                                                                                                  7 Olvidado (Otro Momento)
                                                                                                                                                  8 Funny Girl
                                                                                                                                                  9 Only A Fool
                                                                                                                                                  10 We Could Be Strangers
                                                                                                                                                  11 The Next 20th Century

                                                                                                                                                  Saxophonist, flautist Chip Wickham takes us to Cloud 10 with his most soulful and lyrical album to date

                                                                                                                                                  Chip Wickham is a jazz musician and producer who divides his time between Spain, UK and the Middle-East and who has made a name for himself with a series of beautifully crafted solo albums that draw equally on the hard swinging spiritual jazz of Roland Kirk, Yusef Lateef and Sahih Shihab, alongside the music of British jazz legends such as Tubby Hayes and Harold McNair and the more contemporary sounds of Jazzanova, Kyoto Jazz Massive and Robert Glasper.

                                                                                                                                                  Originally from Brighton, Chip studied in Manchester and became involved in the 00's UK jazz, soul. trip-hop and funk scenes, working with the likes of The Pharcyde, The New Mastersounds and Nightmares On Wax as well as playing with Matthew Halsall's Gondwana Orchestra. And his relationship with Gondwana Records goes right back to the very beginning as he played on Halsall's 2008 debut Sending My Love.

                                                                                                                                                  Cloud 10 is his debut album for Gondwana Records (following a 12" of Lonnie Liston Smith covers in May) and it is a wonderful, timeless, lyrical, slice of hard-hitting, soulful, spiritual jazz and modal hard-bop with a distinctly UK flavour - driven by Chip's deftly funky flute work and hard-hitting tenor. Underpinned by Chip's restless energy and driven by his desire to connect with the listener on a deeper level.

                                                                                                                                                  "My albums are my legacy. Each one is a statement to the world of music and my contribution to its growth, its energy and ultimately its history."

                                                                                                                                                  Cloud 10 features pianist Phil Wilkinson, vibes player Ton Risco, bassist Sneaky and drummer Jon Scott (all veterans of previous albums) together with harpist Amanda Whiting and percussionist Jack McCarthy whom Chip met touring in the Gondwana Orchestra, and rising star Irish trumpeter Eoin Grace who also doubles on flugel horn. The album was recorded at the legendary all analogue Estudios Brazil in Madrid, with the band spending a week at Chip's house in the mountains just outside the city, eating and drinking together, listening to music till the small hours and recording all day. It was a magical time and the positivity seeped into the recording.

                                                                                                                                                  "It was a beautiful week of pure music and joy, I think you can hear it in the recording and that's the inspiration for the title: Cloud 10 is a place of a great happiness, way out beyond Cloud 9!"

                                                                                                                                                  And it is that purity, energy and joy, that makes Cloud 10 such a life-affirming recording and makes Chip the perfect addition to the Gondwana Records family. Lean in, you'll be on Cloud 10 too!

                                                                                                                                                  STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                                                                                  Millie says: Beautifully ambient jazz which encapsulates pure emotion and is a perfect fit that just slots into the Gondwana library. Cloud 10 is very moving, peaceful and brimming with optimism (which we could all use a little bit of about now). Perfect weekend listening.

                                                                                                                                                  TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                                                                  1. Cloud 10
                                                                                                                                                  2. Stratospheric
                                                                                                                                                  3. Lower East Side
                                                                                                                                                  4. Winter
                                                                                                                                                  5. Tubby Chaser
                                                                                                                                                  6. Dark Eyes
                                                                                                                                                  7. The Hit
                                                                                                                                                  8. Before I Go

                                                                                                                                                  88 - Pixies


                                                                                                                                                    The iconic Pixies forged an influential path for alt-rock during their first era, while their post 2004 reunion has seen them alchemize more sophisticated dark arts - a return which has them add another three UK Top 10 albums to the three they achieved on their first run. Now as fired up as ever before, Pixies will release their eighth studio album ‘Doggerel’ on September 30th via BMG, including lead single ‘There’s a Moon On’.

                                                                                                                                                    ‘Doggerel’ is a mature yet visceral record of gruesome folk, ballroom pop and brutal rock, haunted by the ghosts of affairs and indulgences, driven wild by cosmic forces and envisioning digital afterlives where no God has provided one. And all the while, right there on the news, another distant storm approaches.

                                                                                                                                                    TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                                                                    1. Nomatterday
                                                                                                                                                    2. Vault Of Heaven
                                                                                                                                                    3. Dregs Of The Wine
                                                                                                                                                    4. Haunted House
                                                                                                                                                    5. Get Simulated
                                                                                                                                                    6. The Lord Has Come Back Today
                                                                                                                                                    7. Thunder And Lightning
                                                                                                                                                    8. There’s A Moon On
                                                                                                                                                    9. Pagan Man
                                                                                                                                                    10. Who’s More Sorry Now?
                                                                                                                                                    11. You’re Such A Sadducee
                                                                                                                                                    12. Doggerel

                                                                                                                                                    89 - Spiritualized

                                                                                                                                                    Everything Was Beautiful

                                                                                                                                                      During lockdown last year, J Spaceman would walk through an empty “Roman London” where the world was “full of birdsong and strangeness”, trying to make sense of all the music playing in his head at the time. The mixers and mixes of his new record weren’t working out yet. Spaceman plays 16 different instruments on Everything Was Beautiful which was put down at 11 different studios, as well as at his home.

                                                                                                                                                      He also employed more than 30 musicians and singers including his daughter Poppy, long-time collaborator and friend John Coxon, string and brass sections, choirs and finger bells and chimes from the Whitechapel Bell Foundry. Eventually the mixes got there and Everything Was Beautiful was achieved.

                                                                                                                                                      The result is some of the most “live” sounding recordings that Spiritualized have released since the Live At The Albert Hall record of 1998, around the time of Ladies & Gentlemen, We Are Floating In Space.

                                                                                                                                                      STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                                                                                      Barry says: Mr. Spaceman returns for a new album, hot on the heels of those fervently snatched and much-requested reissues of the first four LP's. This time sees more orchestral beauty, both swooning and romantic but imbued with a melancholic edge, it's classic Spiritualized with a few hints of soulful Americana and brittle folk woven through the fabric. 'Crazy' is a particularly evocative highlight.

                                                                                                                                                      TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                                                                      1. Always Together With You
                                                                                                                                                      2. Best Thing You Never Had (The D Song)
                                                                                                                                                      3. Let It Bleed (For Iggy)
                                                                                                                                                      4. Crazy
                                                                                                                                                      5. The Mainline Song/The Lockdown Song
                                                                                                                                                      6. The A Song (Laid In Your Arms)
                                                                                                                                                      7. I’m Coming Home Again

                                                                                                                                                      90 - Mitski

                                                                                                                                                      Laurel Hell

                                                                                                                                                        We don’t typically look to pop albums to answer our cultural moment, let alone to meet the soul hunger left in the wake of global catastrophe. But occasionally, an artist proves the form more malleable and capacious than we knew. With Laurel Hell, Mitski cements her reputation as an artist in possession of such power - capable of using her talent to perform the alchemy that turns our most savage and alienated experiences into the very elixir that cures them. Her critically beloved last album, Be the Cowboy, built on the breakout acclaim of 2016’s Puberty 2 and launched her from cult favorite to indie star. She ascended amid a fever of national division, and the grind of touring and pitfalls of increased visibility influenced her music as much as her spirit.

                                                                                                                                                        Like the mountain laurels for this new album is named, public perception, like the intoxicating prism of the internet, can offer an alluring façade that obscures a deadly trap—one that tightens the more you struggle. Exhausted by this warped mirror, and our addiction to false binaries, she began writing songs that stripped away the masks and revealed the complex and often contradictory realities behind them. She wrote many of these songs during or before 2018, while the album finished mixing in May 2021. It is the longest span of time Mitski has ever spent on a record, and a process that concluded amid a radically changed world. She recorded Laurel Hell with her longtime producer Patrick Hyland throughout the isolation of a global pandemic, during which some of the songs “slowly took on new forms and meanings, like seed to flower.” Sometimes it’s hard to see the change when you’re the agent of it, but for the lucky rest of us, Mitski has written a soundtrack for transformation, a map to the place where vulnerability and resilience, sorrow and delight, error and transcendence can all sit within our humanity, can all be seen as worthy of acknowledgment, and ultimately, love.

                                                                                                                                                        TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                                                                        SIDE A:
                                                                                                                                                        1. Valentine, Texas
                                                                                                                                                        2. Working For The Knife
                                                                                                                                                        3. Stay Soft
                                                                                                                                                        4. Everyone
                                                                                                                                                        5. Heat Lightning
                                                                                                                                                        SIDE B:
                                                                                                                                                        6. The Only Heartbreaker
                                                                                                                                                        7. Love Me More
                                                                                                                                                        8. There’s Nothing Left For You
                                                                                                                                                        9. Should’ve Been Me
                                                                                                                                                        10. I Guess
                                                                                                                                                        11. That’s Our Lamp

                                                                                                                                                        91 - Arcade Fire


                                                                                                                                                          Produced by Nigel Godrich, Win & Régine, and recorded in multiple locales including New Orleans, El Paso and Mount Desert Island, WE paradoxically distills “the longest we’ve ever spent writing, uninterrupted, probably ever" (per the band’s Win Butler) into a concise 40 minute epic – one as much about the forces that threaten to pull us away from the people we love, as it is inspired by the urgent need to overcome them. WE’s cathartic journey follows a definable arc from darkness into light over the course of seven songs divided into two distinct sides -- Side “I” channeling the fear and loneliness of isolation, and Side “WE” expressing the joy and power of reconnection.

                                                                                                                                                          On the album’s cover, a photograph of a human eye by the artist JR evokes Sagittarius A*, the supermassive black hole at the center of the galaxy. This stunning image -- embellished by the distinctive airbrush color tinting of Terry Pastor (utilizing the same physical technique he employed on David Bowie’s iconic Hunky Dory and Ziggy Stardust covers) – is the visual expression of WE.

                                                                                                                                                          STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                                                                                          Barry says: 'We' takes Arcade Fire back to their orchestral roots, eschewing the mind-bogglingly diverse range of sounds on 2017's 'Everything Now'. Pieces here sound like classic Arcade Fire but imbued with the real-world concept of tension and release, manifested as a taut musical energy offset by a jubilant orchestral bliss. Massive and euphoric and quintessentially Arcade Fire.

                                                                                                                                                          TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                                                                          1. Age Of Anxiety I
                                                                                                                                                          2. Age Of Anxiety II (Rabbit Hole)
                                                                                                                                                          3. End Of The Empire I-IV
                                                                                                                                                          1. The Lightning I, II
                                                                                                                                                          2. Unconditional I (Lookout Kid)
                                                                                                                                                          3. Unconditional II (Race And Religion)
                                                                                                                                                          4. WE

                                                                                                                                                          92 - Poppy Ajudha

                                                                                                                                                          The Power In Us

                                                                                                                                                            Poppy Ajudha epitomises the uniquely diverse musical culture that exists in London. Her South London, St. Lucian-British background, the scene she has grown up in, and the musicians and creatives she regularly works with have all been pivotal in the forward thinking, socio-politically aware unique blend of R&B, Soul and Pop that she creates. Unafraid to stand up for what she believes in, her lyrics speak of the feminism, colonialism, gender politics, current social issues and more.

                                                                                                                                                            Speaking on her upcoming debut album, Poppy says:
                                                                                                                                                            “This album is made up of all the things swimming in my mind, from women’s rights, to the right to cross borders, to the power of young people to inspire and be unafraid to rock the boat in the name of progress. Women don’t have to be just what they are taught to be, there is so much more to us than Mothers, Sisters, Daughters, Girlfriends and our relation to men. I want men to engage more heavily in feminism and really see how their defiance against it only holds both women and men back. There are so many boxes we put ourselves in; I want us all to break out of them. We are in an era of so much information and I feel the weight that young people take on because we are the generation bombarded with global politics and a million causes that need fighting for. This calls for better understanding around mental health and a society that nurtures us rather than demands of us everything we have until all that is left is our Demons. Every song on this album touches on these issues because they are all I think about everyday, all I see around me in my friends and my family. I hope it flips a switch in your mind, like it did for mine.”

                                                                                                                                                            The album features a host of stellar production including Joel Compass (Jorja Smith, Snoh Allegrah, FKA Twigs, Mabel), Karma Kid (Dua Lipa, Octavian, Arlo Parks, Shy Girl), Wyn Bennett (Janelle Monet, Goldlink, Haim), Itai Shapira (Grammy nominated, Baby Rose, Rhye, Kadjha Bonet), Wesley Singerman (Anderson Paak, Kendrick Lamar, Pink Sweat$)

                                                                                                                                                            TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                                                                            1. Who's Future? Our Future!
                                                                                                                                                            2. Playgod
                                                                                                                                                            3. Holiday From Reality
                                                                                                                                                            4. Mothers Sisters Girlfriends
                                                                                                                                                            5. Interlude / Reclaim Yourself
                                                                                                                                                            6. Demons
                                                                                                                                                            7. Interlude / All For You
                                                                                                                                                            8. Fall Together
                                                                                                                                                            9. Fall Together Outro (Ft. Nubya Garcia)
                                                                                                                                                            10. Land Of The Free
                                                                                                                                                            11. London's Burning
                                                                                                                                                            12. Power You Might Share

                                                                                                                                                            93 - Half Man Half Biscuit

                                                                                                                                                            The Voltarol Years

                                                                                                                                                              Brand new studio album from the Merseyside legends Half Man Half Biscuit.

                                                                                                                                                              STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                                                                                              Barry says: One of our favourite Wirral exports (apart from McQueen, obvs) return for their FIFTEENTH full-length LP. Still having all the superb humour of their early years, bolstered by over 30 years of gigging and songwriting. A fine example of a band enduring AND thriving. A rare combo.

                                                                                                                                                              TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                                                                              1. I'm Getting Buried In The Morning
                                                                                                                                                              2. Rogation Sunday's Here Again!
                                                                                                                                                              3. Awkward Sean
                                                                                                                                                              4. Tess Of The Dormobiles
                                                                                                                                                              5. Grafting Haddock In The George
                                                                                                                                                              6. Big Man Up Front
                                                                                                                                                              7. When I Look At My Baby
                                                                                                                                                              8. Beneath This Broken Headstone
                                                                                                                                                              9. In A Suffolk Ditch
                                                                                                                                                              10. Persian Rug Sale At The URC
                                                                                                                                                              11. Midnight Mass Murder
                                                                                                                                                              12. Token Covid Song
                                                                                                                                                              13. Slipping The Escort
                                                                                                                                                              14. Oblong Of Dreams

                                                                                                                                                              94 - The Big Moon

                                                                                                                                                              Here Is Everything

                                                                                                                                                                THEMES: Motherhood, parenthood, birth, lockdown, friendships, love.

                                                                                                                                                                The last time you heard them it was welcoming the release of their dazzling second album, Walking Like We Do, back in January 2020, when life was very different to how it is now. That was a coming-of-age record, bold songs for Saturday nights and sad songs for Sunday mornings. So much has changed, continues to change, and promises to change some more. And in this world of constant change, we yearn for the familiarity of a constant. Thankfully, one constant remains the unique, jubilant, unassailable bond that sews this brilliant London band together and what that does for their music, too. Another such constant is their collective ear for melody and knack for writing smart, sharp, and infectious indie-pop knockouts.

                                                                                                                                                                Like so many records landing in store and on streaming services right now, Here Is Everything was conceived during the weight and worry of lockdown in a pandemic. Worlds were turned upside down and inside out. Lives became seismically different, whilst every day a carbon copy of the last. So, whilst Covid pulled the duvet tightly up over our heads and sat on it whilst we muffle-screamed that we could not breathe, it was also the unlikely backdrop to welcoming new life. Vocalist Juliette Jackson might have started lockdown teaching fans how to play guitar on Zoom to help pay the rent (including, to her eternal bemusement, one Courtney Love), she ended it as mother to a super little human being.

                                                                                                                                                                Here is Everything documents the arrival of that fragile but mighty baby in real time, and the excitement and fear felt by this fragile but mighty mother. Meanwhile, the rest of the band doubled-down in the studio, taking Jules’ embryonic song frameworks and stepping forward as one, revelling in an innate, giddy togetherness and with a clutch of genuinely fantastic tunes.

                                                                                                                                                                The record is introduced today by Wide Eyes, a pure, uplifting song of collective jubilance. It sounds like a band in the form of their lives, having the time of their lives, and against all the odds. It sounds instantly like The Big Moon whilst sounding unlike any of the music that’s gone before it.

                                                                                                                                                                Here Is Everything was mostly self-produced, with the expert guidance and expertise of Adam Cecil Bartlett (Self Esteem, Jehnny Beth, PJ Harvey) and the Grammy Award winning producer Ben Allen (Gnarls Barkley, Deer Hunter, and the producer of Walking Like We Do).

                                                                                                                                                                TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                                                                                1. 2 Lines
                                                                                                                                                                2. Wide Eyes
                                                                                                                                                                3. Daydreaming
                                                                                                                                                                4. This Love
                                                                                                                                                                5. Sucker Punch
                                                                                                                                                                6. My Very Best
                                                                                                                                                                7. Ladye Bay
                                                                                                                                                                8. Trouble
                                                                                                                                                                9. High & Low
                                                                                                                                                                10. Magic
                                                                                                                                                                11. Satellites

                                                                                                                                                                95 - Whitney


                                                                                                                                                                  Whitney, the Chicago duo of Julien Ehlrich and Max Kakacek, return with their third album, SPARK. SPARK reintroduces Whitney as a contemporary syndicate of classic pop, its dozen imaginative and endearing tracks wrap fetching melodies around paisley-print Dilla beats and luxuriant electronics. However surprising it may sound, SPARK is less a radical reinvention for Whitney than an honest accounting of how it feels when you move out of your past and into your present, when you take the next steps of your lives and careers at once and without apology. SPARK maintains the warmth and ease of Whitney’s early work; these songs glow with the newness of now.

                                                                                                                                                                  The start of SPARK traces back to the surprise success of Whitney’s 2016 debut, Light Upon the Lake. Its softly distorted psych-folk dreams found a wide audience more readily than the pair ever expected; after years of ceaseless touring, they felt compelled to plug into the same sound for round two, 2019’s Forever Turned Around. As the sessions progressed, though, they became a slog, as Julien and Max worked to be versions of themselves they no longer were, to write songs in a mold that no longer fit. “What are we doing? How do we fix this, together?” Max remembers often asking Julien, as they contended with broken tape machines that felt like metaphors. This no longer felt like their music, but a vestige of their initial enthusiasm. They barely had enough material or energy to finish.

                                                                                                                                                                  Max and Julien knew a drastic change was necessary, but they never envisioned, of course, international lockdowns would facilitate it. Weeks after Julien decamped to Portland to clear his head after the end of a years-long relationship, Max followed, hoping to escape the tail of a long Chicago winter with his best friend and co-writer. Four days later, flights were grounded. Upcoming tours were canceled. For the next 14 months, they dug in with a zeal and determination that recalled their start, before success set expectations. “We had time to just sit and watch the body of work grow in real time,” Julien says. “We were just stacking stronger and stronger songs on top of each other.” Max picks up his thought: “Our favorite way to make records, the way we made the first one.”

                                                                                                                                                                  Even if the way was similar, the results are remarkably different, a refreshing reminder of how effortless a pivot can feel when it’s a true course correction. Max and Julien weren’t immune to this moment of overwhelming loss, either. Max lost his grandfather to COVID-19 in December 2020, soon after the duo’s mutual mentor, Girls’ JR White, died. But the key to SPARK—even on these saddest of songs, all of which sparkle like gentle technicolor dreams—is sublimation, or Whitney’s ability to hang around long enough for conditions to improve. To wit, the first song Max and Julien wrote upon returning to Chicago in May 2021—and the last one they finished before heading to Texas to cut SPARK with producers Brad Cook and John Congleton—is “REAL LOVE,” which celebrates the overdue end of one relationship as an opportunity to fall completely for the right someone. From its Wurlitzer chime to its serrated bass, from its beaming harmonies to its massive chorus, “REAL LOVE” is a bright-eyed celebration of what will be, not a eulogy for what was. It feels, as with much of SPARK, like twirling in whatever sunbeam happens to peak through the clouds. The video, directed by Aaron Brown, is an entirely different visual presentation than anything the band’s ever released.

                                                                                                                                                                  Julien elaborates: “Max and I wrote ‘REAL LOVE’ in June 2021 right after a cross country move back to Chicago. I was experiencing heightened levels of anxiety and panic, while the entire city was re-emerging from isolation. I’ve been running away from and self medicating my anxiety for as long as I can remember, but for whatever reason, it felt like it was time to dive straight into it. During late night sessions over a two week period, we captured the embrace of anxiety and fear in a way that resonated with us immediately. We spent the next few summer nights driving on Ashland with the windows down and the song turned up. It felt like an emotional and musical burst of light and we’re so grateful to finally be sharing that with people.”

                                                                                                                                                                  You’ll notice frequent references to smoke and fire throughout SPARK, itself a double entendre for inspiring something new or burning down the old. Max and Julien were living in Portland when smoke from nearby fires choked the city at record levels. Scientists speak increasingly of serotiny, an evolutionary miracle that causes some trees to release seeds only amid a season of fire. That is how SPARK often feels—Whitney’s circumstances were fraught on so many levels that they hung “the past...out to dry” and began again, finding a fresh version of themselves, their relationship, and their band after the blaze. SPARK is an inspiring testament to perseverance and renewal, to best friends trusting each other enough to carry one another to the other side.

                                                                                                                                                                  STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                                                                                                  Andy says: Whitney really hit the mark here with their beautiful soulful, soft early 70's sound, and possibly the best song-writing of their career so far. Lovely mellow stuff.

                                                                                                                                                                  TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                                                                                  1. Nothing Remains
                                                                                                                                                                  2. Back Then
                                                                                                                                                                  3. Blue
                                                                                                                                                                  4. Twirl
                                                                                                                                                                  5. Real Love
                                                                                                                                                                  6. Memory
                                                                                                                                                                  7. Self
                                                                                                                                                                  8. Never Crossed My Mind
                                                                                                                                                                  9. Terminal
                                                                                                                                                                  10. Heart Will Beat
                                                                                                                                                                  11. Lost Control
                                                                                                                                                                  12. County Lines

                                                                                                                                                                  96 - Porridge Radio

                                                                                                                                                                  Waterslide, Diving Board, Ladder To The Sky

                                                                                                                                                                  When Porridge Radio’s Dana Margolin, one of the most vital new voices in rock, began to consider the themes of her new album, three vivid words began to emerge: joy, fear and endlessness. The artwork of the band’s third full-length, Waterslide, Diving Board, Ladder To The Sky, is a surreal image that evokes the ducks and dives, slippery slopes and existential angst of life in recent times. “To me, the feelings of joy, fear and endlesses coexist together,” says Dana. “You’re never just happy or unhappy.”

                                                                                                                                                                  Following Every Bad’s release in 2020, Margolin was quickly becoming regarded as one of the most magnetic band leaders around. But if Every Bad established Dana’s bravery in laying herself bare, her band’s third record takes that to anthemic new heights. While there are moments of guttural release, she also finds soft power on songs. “I used to think I had to be loud to be heard,” she admits, “but now I’m definitely less afraid of being gentle.” The band’s first new single, ‘Back To The Radio’, sets out their stall, a lurching call to arms that contrasts Dana’s lyrics of panic and closing herself off. This song is just one of example in WDBLTTS that explores something that has long been an important part of Porridge Radio’s process: playfulness. “I think the album needed to have that balance,” Dana explains.

                                                                                                                                                                  Balance: that’s the word the album seems to be eternally striving for – joy, fear and endlessness in harmony but also self-acceptance. Dana is more aware of how she’s creating a persona as her star continues to rise, and how she’s singing personal songs that now belong to other people which gives her purpose. She says, “I wrote these songs for myself, but I think everyone wants to feel like what they’re doing is useful in some way. I’m ready to embrace it all now, whatever happens.”

                                                                                                                                                                  STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                                                                                                  Barry says: There's a wonderful strength around the new Porridge Radio LP, it's bold and it's nuanced and anthemic but it's also defiant, with moments of instrumental and lyrical fragility perfectly offset by grand crescendos and almost post-rock levels of intensity. Beautifully written and melodic throughout, but with both moments of divine joy and passages of honest vulnerability.

                                                                                                                                                                  TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                                                                                  SIDE A:
                                                                                                                                                                  1. Back To The Radio
                                                                                                                                                                  2. Trying
                                                                                                                                                                  3. Birthday Party
                                                                                                                                                                  4. End Of Last Year
                                                                                                                                                                  5. Rotten
                                                                                                                                                                  6. U Can Be Happy If U Want To

                                                                                                                                                                  SIDE B:
                                                                                                                                                                  7. Flowers
                                                                                                                                                                  8. Jealousy
                                                                                                                                                                  9. I Hope She’s OK 2
                                                                                                                                                                  10. Splintered
                                                                                                                                                                  11. The Rip
                                                                                                                                                                  12. Waterslide, Diving Board, Ladder To The Sky

                                                                                                                                                                  97 - Peaness

                                                                                                                                                                  World Full Of Worry

                                                                                                                                                                    Hot on the heels of a live session for Marc Riley at BBC 6music, Chester indie-pop trio PEANESS are delighted to finally be able to announce details of their long-awaited debut album World Full Of Worry, set for release through the band’s own label, Totally Snick Records.

                                                                                                                                                                    ‘How I’m Feeling’ is the second single to be taken from forthcoming debut album World Full of Worry, and serves as the perfect taste of what fans can expect from the record.

                                                                                                                                                                    Commenting on the track, the band said: “In an unfulfilling job? Need a shake up with something in your life or you’ll go mad? Well, that’s ‘How I’m Feeling’ and it can’t be ignored anymore! Amongst self loathing and melancholy there are sparks of determination and a belief that you deserve more. I hope it works out.” 

                                                                                                                                                                    STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                                                                                                    Barry says: Brilliant long-awaited debut from the super talented Peaness. Falling somewhere between 90's influenced pop-punk, clashing lo-fi indie and Lovely Eggs-indebted heft, it's a skilfully written and wonderfully effervescent release. Really great stuff.

                                                                                                                                                                    TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                                                                                    1. Take A Trip
                                                                                                                                                                    2. Kaizen
                                                                                                                                                                    3. How I’m Feeling
                                                                                                                                                                    4. Girl Just Relax
                                                                                                                                                                    5. Irl
                                                                                                                                                                    6. Doing Fine
                                                                                                                                                                    7. Worry
                                                                                                                                                                    8. Left To Fall Behind
                                                                                                                                                                    9. What’s The Use?
                                                                                                                                                                    10. Hurts ‘till It Doesn’t
                                                                                                                                                                    11. Sad Song 

                                                                                                                                                                    98 - Johnny Marr

                                                                                                                                                                    Fever Dreams Pts 1-4

                                                                                                                                                                      Johnny Marr started his career with The Smiths, beginning an amazing history as one of the most influential songwriters and guitarists in British independent music. His subsequent creative journey has seen him at the heart of The The, Electronic, Modest Mouse and The Cribs, as well as working with such names as The Pretenders, Talking Heads, The Avalanches, and the musician and composer Hans Zimmer - with whom he recently recorded the score and soundtrack for the forthcoming James Bond film, No Time To Die, including the title track created with Billie Eilish.

                                                                                                                                                                      In the wake of his time leading The Healers, Marr’s solo career has given rise to three UK Top Ten albums - The Messenger (2013), Playland (2014) and 2018’s Call The Comet, and he will be returning in February with his most expansive work to date, Fever Dreams Pts 1-4. It was created during the long, uncertain period that followed the arrival of the UK’s first lockdown, when his focus was pushed into both his interior life, and evoking the emotional states of others. “It’s an inspired record, and I couldn’t wait to get in and record every day,” he says. “But I had to go inwards.”

                                                                                                                                                                      The upcoming album reflects his multi-faceted past, but takes his music somewhere startlingly new. “There’s a set of influences and a very broad sound that I’ve been developing - really since getting out of The Smiths,” he says. “And I hear it in this record. There are so many strands of music in it. I think it’s the most ambitious solo record I’ve done.”

                                                                                                                                                                      STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                                                                                                      Barry says: Johnny Marr returns, bringing with him his newest LP, Fever Dreams 1-4, collecting the four EP's together into one impressive double LP package. It's a widescreen collection of Marr at his very best, that trademark guitar and his increased focus on sweeping synths and throbbing pop percussion coming together to a brilliantly coherent selection of future classics.

                                                                                                                                                                      TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                                                                                      Side 1
                                                                                                                                                                      1. Spirit Power And Soul
                                                                                                                                                                      2. Receiver
                                                                                                                                                                      3. All These Days
                                                                                                                                                                      4. Ariel
                                                                                                                                                                      Side 2
                                                                                                                                                                      1. Lightning People
                                                                                                                                                                      2. Hideaway Girl
                                                                                                                                                                      3. Sensory Street
                                                                                                                                                                      4. Tenement Time
                                                                                                                                                                      Side 3
                                                                                                                                                                      1. The Speed Of Love
                                                                                                                                                                      2. Night And Day
                                                                                                                                                                      3. Counter Clock World
                                                                                                                                                                      4. Rubicon
                                                                                                                                                                      Side 4
                                                                                                                                                                      1. God's Gift
                                                                                                                                                                      2. Ghoster
                                                                                                                                                                      3. The Whirl
                                                                                                                                                                      4. Human

                                                                                                                                                                      99 - Jack White

                                                                                                                                                                      Fear Of The Dawn

                                                                                                                                                                        Fear of the Dawn is the fourth studio album from Jack White, founding member of The White Stripes, The Raconteurs, and The Dead Weather. True to his DIY roots, this record was recorded at White's Third Man Studio throughout 2021, mastered by Third Man Mastering, pressed to vinyl at Third Man Pressing, and released by Third Man Records.

                                                                                                                                                                        TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                                                                                        1. Taking Me Back
                                                                                                                                                                        2. Fear Of The Dawn
                                                                                                                                                                        3. The White Raven
                                                                                                                                                                        4. Hi-De-Ho
                                                                                                                                                                        5. Eosophobia
                                                                                                                                                                        6. Into The Twilight
                                                                                                                                                                        7. Dusk
                                                                                                                                                                        8. What's The Trick?
                                                                                                                                                                        9. That Was Then (This Is Now)
                                                                                                                                                                        10. Eosophobia (Reprise)
                                                                                                                                                                        11. Morning, Noon And Night
                                                                                                                                                                        12. Shedding My Velvet

                                                                                                                                                                        100 - Jack White

                                                                                                                                                                        Entering Heaven Alive

                                                                                                                                                                          'Entering Heaven Alive' is the fifth studio album from Jack White, founding member of The White Stripes, The Raconteurs, and The Dead Weather. True to his DIY roots, this record was recorded at White's Third Man Studio throughout 2021, mastered by Third Man Mastering, and released by Third Man Records.

                                                                                                                                                                          STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                                                                                                          Barry says: Two LP's in one year? Madness. Fortunately, White is one of the most singularly recognisable talents out there, and manages to imbue 'Entering Heaven Alive' with every bit of his trademark dynamism and stellar riffing skills. It's ANOTHER testament to what an endlessly talented chap he is, and a bloody good listen.

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