MAGIC MIX

END OF YEAR REVIEW 2018

TOP 100 ALBUMS

The votes are in, the ink is dry and the time has come - here are the best 100 albums of 2018, as chosen by your favourite record vendors. The sublime soul of Kadhja Bonet reigns supreme for 2k18, pipping a chasing pack including LUMP, Beak>, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever and TVAM. Whether you like punk spirit, nosebleed psych, abstract techno, new school jazz, snappy synth pop or conscious hip hop, we've got you covered. So dip in and see what you should have been listening to this year...

Check out these links to see our other Best Of 2018 Charts:
Click HERE for the Piccadilly Top 20 Compilations 2018
Click HERE for the Piccadilly Top 10 Reissues / Collections 2018

We're also we’re delighted to announce our very first vinyl compilation.
‘Piccadilly Records Compilation 2018’ is a hand-picked selection of tracks from our various EOY charts, featuring LUMP, Khruangbin, Tim Burgess, TVAM, Phil France, Kadhja Bonet, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, Gulp, Advisory Circle, Christiane F, Prins Emanuel and Theon Cross. All for the bargain price of £9.99!
Released around the beginning of December, ‘Piccadilly Records Compilation 2018’ is available to pre-order here now.

And don't forget our super deluxe perfect bound 84 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 - Kadhja Bonet

Childqueen - Exclusive Piccadilly Bonus Disc Edition

THE PICCADILLY RECORDS ALBUM OF THE YEAR 2018.

PICCADILLY RECORDS EXCLUSIVE: 
For a limited period only, buy either the vinyl or CD of 'Childqueen' and get a free 3 track 'Outtakes' 
CD bonus disc

Kadhja Bonet’s second album, Childqueen is something of a Hero’s Quest. In the opening Procession, above a muted drummer’s march, an unseen oracle announces to you, the listener: “every morning is a chance to renew, a chance to renew.” This is your first clue, setting you upon a path not to treasure, nor a grail, nor even a long lost love, but highest of all, what Kadhja has christened the “childqueen,” that innermost self that you were truthfully and instinctively before the press of the world came crushing in.

As with her 2016 debut The Visitor, the songs on Childqueen are never casual, never ditties. Instead they invite us into a world not wholly our own, a half-mythical atmosphere where past and future meet in a parallel, yet faraway, present. The lyrics and melodic lines nudge us along a path of self-discovery— or act as breadcrumbs along her own path. Everything that you hear on Childqueen was written, played, produced, and even mixed by Kadhja, who has always produced all her own music, insisting on a total vision that is nearly as difficult to co-create as a dream. The result is a soundscape the listener sinks into, a sound that combines softer enchantments with an ever-listenable experimentalism, unplaceable in genre and decade from beginning to end.

STAFF COMMENTS

Patrick says: In an era of mass-information, instant gratification and branded identity, Kadhja Bonet is a glorious enigma. An artist who’d rather let the music do the talking, the LA-based multi-instrumentalist lives outside the spotlight, at her happiest when her hands are busy and her mind is active, striving to create something honest and beautiful. Harking back to the psychedelic soul of Minnie Ripperton and Terry Callier’s Woodstock jazz, Kadhja crafts deep and dreamy vignettes, evocative episodes which perfectly fuse the pastoral and the personal. Delicate chimes, swooning strings and airy flute drift atop woozy grooves, joining Bonet’s multi-tracked vocals to form a hazy sonic web. Warm timbres and analogue textures lend the LP a vintage feel, echoed in the faded rainbow of the sleeve.
Recommended if you like:
Minnie Ripperton, Solange, Laura Misch.

Millie says: This precious album ‘Childqueen’ is entirely created by Kadhja Bonet from start to finish. Her beautiful vocals are submersed in a lovely swoony softness. It’s unlike anything I’ve heard, her style is truly unique and a joy to listen to.

FORMAT INFORMATION

Coloured LP Info: Limited coloured vinyl.

Coloured LP includes MP3 Download Code.

For a limited period both formats include a FREE 4 track 'Remixes' CD bonus disc.

Lump was born of good timing and predestined compatibility. It began when Mike Lindsay – a prolific, Mercury prize-winning producer – was introduced to Grammy-nominated, Brit award-winning singer-songwriter Laura Marling after her show supporting Neil Young in London.

Lump is a heady blend of wonked-out guitars, Moog synths and pattering drums, set against droning, coiling clouds of flutes and voices. The lyrics are inspired by early-20th-century Surrealism and the absurdist poetry of Edward Lear and Ivor Cutler - a bizarre but compelling narrative about the commodification of curated public personas, the mundane absurdity of individualism, and the lengths we go to escape our own meaninglessness.

The composers are keen to stress that LUMP is a creation that passed through them, and they look upon it parentally. It is their understanding that, now it has come into being, LUMP is the artist, and it will continue to create itself from here on. Lindsay and Marling will assist it as necessary.

STAFF COMMENTS

Darryl says: Lump mixes the stunning, instantly recognisable vocal prowess of Marling with the off-kilter electronic folk-tinged oddness of Lindsay's band Tunng. An enchanting and fascinatingly diverse outing, one to listen to in it's entirety. Superb.

FORMAT INFORMATION

Coloured LP Info: Limited translucent green vinyl.

The mighty Beak> – made up of Billy Fuller, Will Young, and Geoff Barrow of that band fame – return with their most claustrophobic album yet, chock full of the krautrock grooves, meandering structures and off-kilter melodies that fans of the band have come to expect from them. Having knocked it out of the park with their ‘Sex Music’ single earlier this year, >>> carries on in the same subtle, bass-led vein.
The trio flirt with chaos throughout the album, pushing each instrument through layers of distortion and reverb to the brink of recognisability, and the countless eerie squeaks, sci-fi synths and fucked-with-strings only add to its otherworldly nature. >>> is as mesmerising as it is uneasy, teetering on a tightrope stretched between soft, winding compositions and edgy, no nonsense heft.
Pretty much every song is a highlight. ‘Birthday Suit’ is devastating, all fluttering synths, lo-fi vocals and heartbreak, while ‘Allé Sauvage’ is a dangerously danceable seven-and-a-half-minuter, with blips galore and razor sharp hi-hats driving the song along nicely. ‘RSI’ is a motoric gem. Scratch that – Beak> are a motoric gem.
But ‘When We Fall’ is on another level entirely. First released under the band’s Like easy listening music thrown off a cliff and pieced back together again, >>> is a Frankenstein’s monster of atmosphere, griminess, groove and space. Transcendent.

STAFF COMMENTS

Javi says: You’d be right to judge >>> by its brilliant cover because it’s a brilliant album, and one that’s likely to win 2018 for me. Buy it / play it / love it.

FORMAT INFORMATION

Ltd LP includes MP3 Download Code.

It's rare that a band's debut album sounds as confident and self-assured as Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever's Hope Downs. To say that the first full-length from the Melbourne quintet improves on their buzz-building EPs from the last few years would be an understatement: the promise those early releases hinted at is fully realized here, with ten songs of urgent, passionate guitar pop that elicit warm memories of bands past, from the Go-Betweens' jangle to the charmingly lo-fi trappings of New Zealand's Flying Nun label. But don't mistake Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever for nostalgists: Hope Downs is the sound of a band finding its own collective voice.

The hard-hitting debut album is a testament to Rolling Blackouts C.F.’s tight-knit and hard-working bonafides. Prior to forming the band in 2013, singers/guitarists Fran Keaney, Tom Russo, and Joe White had played together in various garage bands, dating back to high school. When Rolling Blackouts C.F. started, with Joe Russo [Tom’s brother] on bass, Marcel [Tussie, Joe White's then-housemate] on drums, the chemistry was immediate. After a split EP with You Yangs (another Russo brother's band), released in the form of a frisbee, they self-released Talk Tight in 2015, which Sydney-based record label Ivy League gave a wider release the following year. Talk Tight garnered plaudits from critics, including legendary rock scribe Robert Christgau. In 2017, Sub Pop released The French Press EP, bringing the band's chugging and tuneful non-linear indie rock to the rest of the world as they settled into their sound with remarkable ease.

Hope Downs was largely written over the past year in the band's Melbourne rehearsal room where their previous releases were also written and recorded. The band's core trio of songwriters hunkered down and wrote as the chaos of the world outside unavoidably seeped into the songwriting process. "We were feeling like we were in a moment where the sands were shifting and the world was getting a lot weirder. There was a general sense that things were coming apart at the seams and people around us were too,” Russo explains. The album title, taken from the name of a vast open cut mine in the middle of Australia, refers to the feeling of “standing at the edge of the void of the big unknown, and finding something to hold on to.”

With the help of engineer/producer Liam Judson and his portable setup, the band recorded Hope Downs live, and co-produced ten guitar pop gems over the course of two weeks in Northern New South Wales during the winter of 2017. Hope Downs possesses a robust full-band sound that's all the more impressive considering the band's avoidance of traditional recording studios. If you loved Talk Tight and The French Press, you certainly won't be disappointed here—but you might also be surprised at how the band’s sound has grown. There's a richness and weight to these songs that was previously only hinted at, from the skyscraping chorus of “Sister's Jeans” to the thrilling climax of album closer “The Hammer.”

Hope Downs is as much about the people that populate the world around us—their stories, perspectives, and hopes in the face of disillusionment—as it is about the state of things at large. It's a record that focuses on finding the bright spots at a time when cynicism all too often feels like the natural state. Rolling Blackouts C.F. are here to remind us to keep our feet on the ground—and Hope Downs is as delicious a taste of terra firma as you're going to get from a rock band right now.

STAFF COMMENTS

Laura says: This Melbourne five piece first caught our attention last year when Sub Pop released The French Press, their second EP; catchy, super melodic pop songs that ticked all the ‘indie guitar classic’ boxes. Next up came the re-release of Talk Tight, their debut EP; a bit rougher around the edges but still with the same dreamy melodies and chiming guitars. So, could their first album proper live up to the promise of their earlier efforts? Yes! Is the simple answer to that.
All the same reference points are there, but their sound has evolved. Subtly. It’s hard to put your finger on what’s different, but there’s a richness, an expansiveness to the sound, that was always there to some extent, but now seems more refined. With three guitarists, you’d expect the sound to be cluttered, but Tom Russo, Fran Keaney and Joe White, all play their own intricate melodies that ebb and flow in and out of the songs, colliding beautifully from time to time, and far from being chaotic, this gives the album a lush, layered sound. They also share vocal duties, sometimes solo, sometimes in harmony, sometimes relaying through the songs, providing an energy and momentum throughout, while Joe Russo and Marcel Tussie’s bass and drums hold everything together.
This album might have it’s roots in the city, and lyrically depict the sights, sounds and frustrations of urban living, but these are songs for wide open spaces, big skies, open roads, sunroof down, elbow’s in the breeze.

FORMAT INFORMATION

Coloured LP Info: Loser edition marbled blue / clear vinyl.

Joe Oxley is the self-styled one-man electro / psych machine behind TVAM - arguably producing the biggest dancefloor action Wigan has seen since the legendary Casino closed its doors in the 1970’s . As 6Music’s Lauren Laverne observed “It’s like someone took Spiritualized to the club!!”

Hypnotic tracks which straddle an impressive spectrum of influence; with Boards of Canada’s irresistible nostalgia, Suicide’s deconstructed rock ’n’ roll and My Bloody Valentine's infinite noise all becoming touching points in Oxley’s musical output.

TVAM gigs blur the boundary between art and performance; via a large television sat on an 80’s secondary school-style podium, a VHS video recorder projects long-forgotten Mondo movies alongside vintage footage often sourced from hours spent poring through charity shop shelves – “What started as a passing interest became an obsession. I found so many seemingly random videos, each with its own individual meaning, now estranged from their owners. Did these people ever take up calisthenics? Did they install a model railway in their spare bedroom? Did they learn to communicate more effectively with their teenage children? Did they find something in those high-speed rally crash videos unseen by us today..?

I love the process of chopping things up and splicing back together; creating new meaning out of thin air. Combining this with the music I was making, I knew the performance had to fit. Somewhere between Adam Curtis and BBC Schools… somewhere between ‘Threads' and ‘Words & Pictures’.”

Self-produced and home-recorded, the album was mixed by the steady hands of Dean Honer (Moonlandingz, I Monster, Add (N) To X) - “It was great working with Dean. I’m a massive Add N To (X) fan and, after hearing what he was doing with Moonlandingz, I knew he’d get where I was coming from. Though having seen his collection of synths I now need to up my game.”

TVAM has remixed Amber Arcades, The KVB, TOY, FEWS and is currently putting fin-ishing touches to a remix for Tunng (who are returning the favour, watch this space…)

Crafting a world which touches on our memories but toys with our fears, a world in which information seeps under your door and pools by your feet, a world in which he seeks to define everything from abandoned meanings to subconscious desires, Psychic Data invites us to experience the psychodrama first hand.

STAFF COMMENTS

Barry says: Throbbing psychedelic riffage, phased vocal harmonies rolling along with the hazy atmospherics, TVAM have managed to mix their latent gloomy post-punk aethetic with a more driven dancefloor orientated style to great effect.

FORMAT INFORMATION

Coloured LP Info: Indies exclusive orange vinyl.

Halo Maud’s first release on Heavenly is a recap of the story so far ahead of an album release later this year – three tracks of this EP originally came out on a Canadian label last year, with the difference that ‘Du Pouvoir’ now features some English lyrics, and ‘À La Fin’ and ‘Dans La Nuit’ cropped up on a La Souterraine compilations in 2015 and 2016 respectively.

Maud Nadal has been a member of both Moodoïd and Melody’s Echo Chamber’s live bands, and of course at times there are comparisons to be drawn with MEC, with both teetering on a crystalline peak where extreme joy and despair meet. But if anything Nadal’s own melodies are even more indelible, and her voice turns them into vapour trails.

STAFF COMMENTS

Barry says: Hazy harmonies, rolling grooves and insistent percussive workouts form the backbone to Nadal's often haunting vocal flourishes, sometimes falling behind to give the vocals their own space. Perfectly measured and beautifully written immersive indie anthems.

Following on from last years' 'Autres Directions' under his own name, and a collaboration with Jim Jupp of Belbury Poly with the celeb matchup of the year in 'The Belbury Circle', Jon Brooks has returned to his Advisory Circle moniker for 'Ways Of Seeing'. 

After a brief introduction (like we wouldn't know exactly who were listening to within ten seconds of kick-off), we get slowly arpeggiated saw waves and delayed blipping sinewaves dreamily meandering over the insistent percussive backdrop. Massive snare drums and swelling FM sweeps bulk out the forward-moving Italo throb. 

'The April Interval' and it's later counterpart, the stunning 'Skyways' are beautifully redolent of the 80's library music Brooks (and the rest of us) clearly have a soft-spot for, they are stunning, saturated, key led melodic journeys, brimming with spine-tingling whimsy, perfectly measured production and that impeccable ear for progressions we've come to expect. 

'Flight Capture' is possibly the greatest example of synth-led melody and textural intensity i've heard for a long time, combining the glimmering arpeggiated FM stabs and woozy bass throbs perfectly before slowly building into a shimmering Balearic tine-heavy refrain. 

We get spoken-word musings in 'A Mechanical Eye', (though I have less in common with this man than the monologist from the last album, he also being a solid tea enthusiast), before the kosmische shifting arps and swirling pads of 'Airborne Seeds'. 

A mindblowing tour-de-force once again from The Advisory Circle, and one that will be on my record player for some time to come. Stunningly immersive, beautifully produced and stunningly packaged. Album of the year material, for sure. 





STAFF COMMENTS

Barry says: It's always the most exciting thing to hear that one of my favourite artists is releasing a new LP, and this was easily one of the most consistent and enjoyable releases yet, an absolute triumph.

Originally from West Yorkshire, but now resident in Manchester, composer, bassist and producer Phil France is probably best known as a key collaborator alongside Jason Swinscoe in the Cinematic Orchestra, where he co-wrote, arranged and produced on classic albums including Everyday, Man With The Movie Camera, Ma Fleur and also the triple award winning soundtrack for The Crimson Wing nature documentary. In 2013 France released his debut solo album, The Swimmer (GOND016), an emotive, epic record influenced by the great second wave of film composers including John Carpenter and Vangelis, as well as minimalist composers such as Steve Reich and Philip Glass

Five years later, France presents the follow up, the enigmatically titled, Circle, which again represents a very personal journey for the artist. For France the album is an extension of work he began on The Swimmer. A process he has described as: " blocks of sound containing intricate minimal arpeggiated patterns and electronic textures that develop and shift in subtle, original and melodic ways. The trancelike quality, mood and electronic character of title track Circle led France to think of the circular patterns which eventually became a potent concept for the album. "Ideas and fashions repeat themselves in cycles. Events are said to travel 'full circle' and this is important to me because it represents my own recent personal and musical journey after 15 years touring as bassist and composer with The Cinematic Orchestra. I consider circles to be a strong symbol of unity, strength and inclusiveness and ultimately I've aspired to make something beautiful with those values at its heart".

The album opens with the title track, Circle, built on a minimal looped pattern with melodic embellishment and shifting additional harmonic textures. Bells was developed from the arpeggiator and offers a nod to the melodicism and atmosphere of French electronic music. The Jackal features an idea originally developed for The Crimson Wing score but which finally bears fruit here. Cathedrals features an improvised intro, Philip Glass inspired organ and vocal textures inspired by the work of Colin Stetson. Finally, the album ends with a reprise of Circle this time featuring layered pianos. But it isn't the conclusion of the journey, for France: "The Circle is infinite - During the process of making this record, I have been constantly reminded that nothing ever stays the same and that all is in constant flux. The challenge for me is always to respond positively, be aware of and seize the opportunity for progression constant change provides" And it is that sense of movement and flow, but also calm and beauty that permeates Circle and make it such a worthy successor to The Swimmer.

STAFF COMMENTS

Barry says: Beautifully ethereal electronic pulses, rippling arpeggios and skittering machinated percussion are woven through organic drums and reverbed Balearic basslines. Stunningly emotive but with enough momentum to find a home in the front room or in the crepuscular haze on a sandy beach. Stunning.

9 - Ezra Collective

Juan Pablo: The Philosopher

Synergy in motion, London five-piece Ezra Collective are proving themselves as a harmonious tour de force. Their sound nods respectfully to a classic jazz footprint, celebrating the originators whilst simultaneously carving a path solely their own. Ezra Collective marry the delicate technicalities of jazz musicianship with afrobeat and hip hop, tied together by a sound that’s unmistakably London. Their live show is one of dynamic union; the strength of their partnership shines in performances that are commanding yet sensitive, soulful and pertinently groove-laced. Following a joyous and stunningly cohesive show in May 2016, Boiler Room rightly labelled the group as “pioneering the new-wave of U.K. jazz”. As the genre enjoys a new lease of life that is gaining momentum across the country, Ezra Collective are adding their own fresh and imaginative face to a style that continues to be “as entertaining as it is educational” (Trench). In a year that saw them sell out legendary London venue Ronnie Scott’s not once but twice, 2017 also bought with it the release of their genre-bending second EP, Juan Pablo: The Philosopher . After Ezra Collective took the EP on a successful tour across the U.K and Europe and completely sold out of the vinyl, Juan Pablo: The Philosopher went on to win the accolade of Best Jazz Album at Gilles Peterson’s esteemed Worldwide Awards in January 2018.

STAFF COMMENTS

Laura says: Absolutely loving this album at the moment! This London quartet take classic hard bop style and infuse it with afrobeat, funk and hip hop. The result is a fresh, dynamic sound that perfectly marries the old and the new.

Comprising of Laura Lee on bass, Mark Speer on guitar, and Donald “DJ” Johnson on drums, Khruangbin’s sounds are rooted in the deepest waters of world music infused with classic soul, dub and psychedelia. Their 2015 debut album "The Universe Smiles Upon You" was heavily influenced by 60’s and 70’s Thai cassettes the band listened to on their long car journeys to rehearsal in the Texan countryside. "Con Todo El Mundo" takes inspiration not just from South East Asia but similarly underdiscovered funk and soul of the Mediterranean and the Middle East, particularly Iran. The sultry and humid grooves of their debut are alive and well, enhanced by a little extra funk, the lightly spiced flavours of Middle Eastern pop and maybe a little strung out Americana a la Cowboy Junkies. The hefty breaks on cuts like "Lady & Man" and "Maria Tambien" have that "Jungle Fever" toughness, while the woozy "August 10" and "Como Te Quiero" are classic examples of Khruangbin's languid style. "Shades Of Man" colours the trio's palette with a little country soul, while "A Hymn" preaches a gospel out of Death Valley. The perfect sophomore offering, "Con Todo El Mundo" retains all the tasty ingredients of the original and blends them with a new batch of exotic flavours.


STAFF COMMENTS

Patrick says: Shop faves Khruangbin continue their stroll through mellifluous melody with sophomore offering "Con Todo El Mundo", swapping the Thai tonalities of their debut for some distinctly Middle Eastern flavours. Every bit as languid and lovely as their debut, this new LP is different enough to show progression whilst remaining reassuringly familiar.

FORMAT INFORMATION

Coloured LP Info: Limited edition numbered vinyl pressed on 180g “off white” virgin vinyl.

LP Info: Black vinyl edition.

MGMT return for their fourth LP, in almost exaclty ten years since their almost cripplingly popular debut, Oracular Spectacular. Breaking away from the catchy generation Y glitter-bomb of 'Time To Pretend' or 'Kids' could drive a less-determined duo to mania, but VanWyndarden Goldwasser are nothing if not tenacious. 

Their newest lurches from queasy neon keys and vicious percussive flourishes (She Works Out Too Much, Days That Got Away) over the top of mellow, warped lounge into wistful melody-heavy glumtronica, swimming in atmosphere and packed to the brim with feels (Me And Michael, When You're Small). 

It is a fascinating and capable return for MGMT, clearly showing they deserve more credit than those early hits have offered them. This is a nuanced and mature journey, fittingly showing a good cross-section of their sizeable talents. 

STAFF COMMENTS

Barry says: A true display of how far MGMT have come since their early hit singles, still embracing their synthy aesthetic, but bringing in a host of diverse stylistic influences to complete their warm and varied sound.

FORMAT INFORMATION

2xLtd LP Info: 180 gram vinyl.

2xLtd LP includes MP3 Download Code.

Under the tree – In The Cave – At The Water, there’s where you’ll find Eleventeen Eston; savouring the shade since his 2014 debut LP ‘Delta Horizon’ turned the spotlight his way. Taking shelter in the subterranean, the Perth musician has found a sound saturated with entheogenic splendour, growing something gorgeous from the grotesque. Finding a natural home on Hamburg’s Growing Bin, Eston emerges into the daylight with a dreamy LP.

The vision quest begins with 'C in Sympathy', a freefall into the perverse beauty of the Domus Aurea, brought to life with E2-E4 electronics, chorus pedal shimmer and muted bass. Leaving the grasslands we dip a toe in the water with the hypnotic ripples of '2 d'Or (Cab Chassis)', a Carl-Craig-goes-New-Age number which fuses the electronic and acoustic to perfection. Delicate piano, crystalline synth tones and tape-saturated emotion lend their cinematic charm to 'East Perth Stories (Closing Titles)' before the propulsive bass and soft focus groove of 'The Four Fountains' hits you with the heat haze. Eston takes another tapey diversion on the sci-fi synthscape 'I Remember', while the coastal cool of 'Thread & Truth' picks up the wavy white funk baton from Spike.

The B-side brings more beauty as the drifting and dreamy ambience of 'I Float, I Am Free' gives way to the Windham Hill guitar licks, snaking bass and billowing textures of 'A Squall, 1988', offering a welcome echo of the wonder of Wilson Tanner. 'Where There Is Rain' sees Eston tune the Ute radio to 96FM Perth, marrying cascading keys, evocative vocal samples and lush guitar with a solid 80s pop beat, before he slows the pace for 'Sand Man' a skewed and stoned bit of beach funk that's perfect for seduction. We part ways with the panoramic 'Dory On Swan', a serene soundtrack to lapping waves and magic caves. Always in season, Growing Bin do it again.

STAFF COMMENTS

Patrick says: Currently causing the calmest stir on the Piccadilly stereo, the long awaited follow up to "Delta Horizons" sees Eleventeen Eston AKA John Tanner (of Wilson Tanner) treats us to warm white funk, hazy ambient and dreamy pop.

The Grammy and Brit nominated Courtney Barnett returns with her second album - 'Tell Me How You Really Feel.' It follows her critically acclaimed 2015 debut album 'Sometimes I Sit And Think And Sometimes I Just Sit', and a recent top 10 collaborative record, 'Lotta Sea Lice', with Kurt Vile. One of the most distinctive voices in music, Courtney is known for mixing witty observations with unflinching self-assessment - fast forward to now and although all of the cleaver turns of phrase and an eye for story telling are still there; this new collection of songs see a more serious and outwardly tone capturing the current social landscape yet still retaining moments of intimacy and warmth. As the world becomes more familiar with Courtney Barnett these songs feel comforting and emphatic yet that raw energy and the ability to make the listener think still remain.

STAFF COMMENTS

Barry says: Another absolute stormer from Courtney, though you might have already heard the superb 'Nameless, Faceless' from the 7" a little while ago, and 'City Looks Pretty' and 'Sunday Roast' from the RSD 12", there are a bunch of gems to uncover on this including the snarling skate-punk melodicism of my personal highlight, 'Charity'. Killer.

FORMAT INFORMATION

Coloured LP Info: Indies exclusive in gatefold mirror board sleeve. Limited red vinyl.

Coloured LP includes MP3 Download Code.

Deluxe CD Info: Limited hardback with exclusive 24 pp photo booklet.

Following in the footsteps of psych-funk pioneers Baris Manço, Selda Bağcan and Erkin Koray, Dutch group Altin Gün (‘Golden Day’) kick open the doors of perception with a hefty set of frazzled nuggets for Bongo Joe. 
On their debut album "On", the band show what happens when you trace a line between Turkish folk songs which were passed on from generation to generation on the one hand and a dirty blend of funk rhythms, wah-wah guitars and analogue organs on the other. The Amsterdammers who come from various backgrounds (Turkish but also Indonesian and Dutch) comfortably create their work in the adventurous no-man’s land that exists between these two worlds. Sticking a saz into the mains socket, our tripped out troubadours harness the far out sounds of mid seventies Turkey, which even today sounds rich, danceable and (alright then!) heavily mind bending.
Though Manço, Bağcan and Koray have all influenced Altin Gün, but their foremost inspiration is Neşet Ertaş, a Turkish folk musician whose musical legacy is invaluable. Many of the songs he wrote have become standards in Turkey, national treasures which are cherished up until the present day. Altin Gün retain the lyrical and thematic structure of Ertaş’s songs, though they often alter their time signatures and add fuzzy bass sounds, sweltering organ sounds and raw saz riffs. Ertaş wrote the majority of the songs on the album even if these are hardly recognisable after all the work Altin Gün have done on them. The songs have universal themes such as love, death, desire and destiny. It is touching music that makes you want to move and massages your soul all at once. Music that sounds familiar but different. Music that’s deeply emotional even for someone who doesn’t speak a word of Turkish.
Let Altin Gün open that door for you and get ready to indulge in their fresh and beautiful sound.

STAFF COMMENTS

Sil says: ++++ Absolutely mind blowing album +++ folk, psychedelic rock, funk and plenty of soul. This is made with love and it has taken us all by surprise. Far east melodies, sensual vocals and plenty of psychedelia. This LP definetely IS already one of the albums of the year. Shame it has had zero air play that I am aware. But it does not need it. If you do not have time in your hands to pre listen to all these gems, at least go for 'Cemalim'. Those keys!! Simply speaking, every track is a killer. Buy on sight!

In 2018, Low will turn twenty-five. Since 1993, Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker—the married couple whose heaven-and-earth harmonies have always held the band’s center—have pioneered a subgenre, shrugged off its strictures, recorded a Christmas classic, become a magnetic onstage force, and emerged as one of music’s most steadfast and vital vehicles for pulling light from our darkest emotional recesses. But Low will not commemorate its first quarter-century with mawkish nostalgia or safe runs through songbook favorites. Instead, in faithfully defiant fashion, Low will release its most brazen, abrasive (and, paradoxically, most empowering) album ever: Double Negative, an unflinching eleven-song quest through snarling static and shattering beats that somehow culminates in the brightest pop song of Low’s career.

To make Double Negative, Low reenlisted B.J. Burton, the quietly energetic and adventurous producer who has made records with James Blake, Sylvan Esso, and The Tallest Man on Earth in recent years while working as one of the go-to figures at Bon Iver’s home studio, April Base. Burton recorded Low’s last album, 2015’s Ones and Sixes, at April Base, adding might to many of its beats and squelch and frisson beneath many of its melodies.

This time, though, Sparhawk, Parker, and bassist Steve Garrington knew they wanted to go further with Burton and his palette of sounds, to see what someone who is, as Sparhawk puts it, “a hip-hop guy” could truly do to their music. Rather than obsessively write and rehearse at home in Duluth, Minnesota, they would often head southeast to Eau Claire, Wisconsin, arriving with sketches and ideas that they would work on for days with Burton. Band and producer became collaborative cowriters, building the pieces up and breaking them down and building them again until their purpose and force felt clear. As the world outside seemed to slide deeper into instability, Low repeated this process for the better part of two years, pondering the results during tours and breaks at home. They considered not only how the fragments fit together but also how, in the United States of 2018, they functioned as statements and salves.

Double Negative is, indeed, a record perfectly and painfully suited for our time. Loud and contentious and commanding, Low fights for the world by fighting against it. It begins in pure bedlam, with a beat built from a loop of ruptured noise waging war against the paired voices of Sparhawk and Parker the moment they begin to sing during the massive “Quorum.” For forty minutes, they indulge the battle, trying to be heard amid the noisy grain, sometimes winning and sometimes being tossed toward oblivion. In spite of the mounting noise, Sparhawk and Parker still sing. Or maybe they sing because of the noise. For Low, has there ever really been a difference?

STAFF COMMENTS

Barry says: Never one to shy away from a new direction, the ridiculously superb Low return with their most shadowy electronic affair yet. Bathed in distortion and rich, saturated ambience, it's a testament to their skill as songwriters and their overwhelmingly familiar 'Sound' that this still comes across as one of the best releases of their career. Mindblowing stuff.

FORMAT INFORMATION

Coloured LP Info: Very limited crystal clear vinyl in an embossed jacket with custom dust sleeve.

Coloured LP includes MP3 Download Code.

LP Info: Gatefold digipak with embossed cover.

LP includes MP3 Download Code.

CD Info: Embossed jacket with custom dust sleeve.

CD includes MP3 Download Code.

Cassette Info: Four-panel J-card in clear case.

Sidonie Hand Halford is a Christmas temp at the Post Office in Liverpool, her younger sister Esme is studying English literature at Manchester, and their friend Henry Wade is preparing to sit his A-levels in Halifax next summer. 

From the first jangling sunshine chords on opening track ‘Mango’, Silver Dollar Moments announces itself as a proper piece of indie pop goodness. Then, across 45 minutes, it takes all kinds of turns, into ESG-ish yips and funk, dreamy-arch harmonies, disco synth-pows and stoner bongos, unsettling submerged voices - with all that and more it still flows like a fountain of indie pop, fresh and catchy and altogether.

Maybe one reason it all coheres so beautifully is that The Orielles are a close-knit unit: two sisters and their best mate. “We met Henry at a house party a few years ago,” says Sid. “I mean, it’s a bit lamer than that sounds. It was a friend of our parents, she was having a 40th birthday party, and we went along, and Henry was there too, with his parents.” They’ve been writing songs together ever since, Esme singing and on bass, Sidonie on drums, Henry on guitar. They’ve played live all over the UK as well as Europe and North America, and this year they signed to Heavenly Recordings and headed into Eve Studios in Stockport.

STAFF COMMENTS

Andy says: Brilliant, classic indie-pop! This has all the youthful charm and quirks of the C86 era, but is way better presented and with very good songs. Anorak godfathers The Pastels spring most readily to mind, except The Orielles have a tangible groove and percussive joie de vivre untypical of that era. You're gonna love this band!

FORMAT INFORMATION

Coloured LP Info: Limited edition blue vinyl.

It's been a long road leading to this album for Tyler Daley and Konny Kon.

They first embarked on their expedition into the music game two decades back - Tyler entered the scene as a songwriter, producer and vocalist, originally under the moniker Hoodman, whilst Konny began MCing, DJing and beat-making for hip hop crews The Microdisiacs and Broke'n'£nglish, along with DRS & Strategy.

To date, Children of Zeus have released three sell-out singles on First Word ('Still Standing', 'I Can't Wait' and 'Slow Down') and a compilation EP comprised of tracks made by the duo over the last decade entitled 'The Story So Far…'.

Children of Zeus are finally at the stage where they are releasing their debut album proper; the over-riding ethos of which is about keeping their eyes on the road ahead, whilst shedding the baggage they've accumulated over the years - 'Travel Light'.

Features mainly come from Manny family; [ K S R ], LayFullStop, Metrodome (Levelz) and former Broke 'n' £nglish spar DRS. Guest production comes in the form of Switzerland's Sebb Bash, Nottingham's Juga-Naut, and London's Beat Butcha, and there's your favourite DJ's favourite DJ,

Mr Thing, slicing up the turntables on two tracks too. There's a few extra special ingredients on this album, along with their trademark sub-heavy, rhodes-laden hip hop soul hybrid. Reggae music has always been an integral piece of the CoZ sound-system ethic, so we see Tyler putting on his lover's rock hat for 'Hard Work', and they invite soul queen Terri Walker to join them on the fierce 'Sling Shot Riddim', while the album closes with the epic K15-produced jazz-bruk opus, 'Vibrations', on which Konny breaks it down quite simply: "high frequency means that you travel light, so get lifted yo, we'll live gifted".

Long as the journey has been, the time for looking back is over. This is about the present and future of Children of Zeus. A shining light in Manchester's now-school, and rightly heralded by many as the best new act to emerge in British soul music in the past decade. Aside from the above features, this project is written, performed and produced entirely by Tyler and Konny. Since the crew first took flight, the end destination has never changed, the aim remains the same - to create timeless music, in their own unique style, without compromise, irrespective of industry and life distractions. The moral being this - travel light.

STAFF COMMENTS

Matt says: Are Children Of Zeus the most important thing to happen to Northwest hip-hop for the last ten years? Sorry, inabit everyone else! A homecoming triumph for these superstars...

18 - Baxter Dury, Étienne De Crécy, Delilah Holliday

B.E.D

B.E.D is the new collaboration from Baxter Dury, French Dance music pioneer Etienne De Crécy & Delilah Holiday of London punks Skinny Girl Diet. Although they seem strange bed fellows at first, this project provides the perfect fusion of their disparate skill sets. Etienne De Crécy fires up the hardware and lays down tough electro-pop instrumentals, combining the best bits of italo, vintage synth pop and the DFA/John Grant school of digi-cool. Meanwhile in the vocal booth, Baxter Dury is typically engaging, itriguing and disarming with a string of half spoken / half sung confessionals, while Delilah Holiday adds a touch of emotion via kitchen sink balladry, the odd delicate chorus and at least one journey into the classic synthpop deadpan. Recorded between 2017 & the start of 2018 and produced by Etienne De Crécy & Baxter Dury in France, "B.E.D." is another must have release on the mighty Heavenly. 

STAFF COMMENTS

Patrick says: Sick synth pop offering from the hive mind of these three musical misfits. If you like John Grant, Human League or LCD, then this is for you my friends.

Boy Azooga, the shape-shifting musical mystery tour piloted by Cardiff’s Davey Newington have announced details of the release of their debut album, 1,2 Kung Fu!, on Heavenly Recordings.

A prodigous musical talent, Davey Newington is a young man with a rich musical heritage. One of his granddads was a jazzer who played drums for the Royal Marines. Davey’s dad (violin) and his mum (clarinet) both played, and met, in the BBC National Orchestra Of Wales. Davey himself took up drums at the age of six and also enjoyed orchestral engagement, playing in various Welsh Orchestra’s and Jazz bands as a teenager as well at latterly finding gainful employment playing drums as part of Charlotte Church’s Late Night Pop Dungeon.

Inspired by his art teacher at school who sent him off to town to buy Can’s Ege Bamyasi, taking musical cues from the likes of Sly & The Family Stone, Caribou, Black Sabbath, Outkast, Van McCoy, Ty Segall and The Beastie Boys and with arrangements which carry the wonky tunefulness of The Super Furry Animals they nabbed their name from the 1994 film The Little Rascals.

With a Davey recruiting friends Daf Davies, Dylan Morgan and Sam Barnes to form the Boy Azooga live quartet, an ensemble that swings smoothly from filmic instrumentals to a churning, rave-tinged rock that hints at both Can and their progeny, the Happy Mondays, the band played a number of headline and support shows across the U.K. at the end of last year, including a manic sold-out hometown show in Cardiff at Clwb Ifor Bach almost a year to the day they made their debut in the city at the same venue.

They take their loose-limbed live show on the road later this year and the dates include their own headline shows, support slots with The Magic Gang & Rolling Blackouts and Coastal Fever and an appearance at this year’s Heavenly Weekender at the Trades Club in Hebden Bridge.


STAFF COMMENTS

Barry says: Brilliant work here from Cardiff's newest prodigal talent, Boy Azooga. I have it on good opinion that Davey is a 'Lovely. happy chap' (Graf, 2018), but I can tell you that he is indeed a venerable talent, and deserving of every bit of praise this soaring psychedelic-indie-synthy wonder garners. Fully brilliant.

FORMAT INFORMATION

Coloured LP Info: Limited pink coloured vinyl.

Shop favourites and all-round jangle-mongerers Whyte Horses finally release their (proper) follow-up to 2016's end of year LP, 'Pop Or Not'. We kick things off with the classic jangling stomp of 'Counting down The Years', breaking straight out of the starting gates with walking bass and stabbing guitars below the swirling psychedelic vocals and soaring dreamlike haze.  It seems as though the orchestral implimentation we saw in 'Pop Or Not' (and its excellent reinterpretation with St. Bart's Choir) has returned with aplomb, underpinning the whole structure of pieces like 'Never Took The Time', or the tender and stunning balladry of 'Watching T.V'.

Elsewhere, we get funked-up walking bass and swooning soulful vocals courtesy of La Roux on 'The Best of It', bringing forth the run of more heartfelt, ambient numbers including the rhodes-led instrumental bliss of 'The Return' and the tentative Losing My Religion-y plucks of 'Fear is Such A...'. Sandwiched comfortably inbetween these two beautiful evening chillout pieces is the spine-tinglingly optimistic encore anthem 'Nighmares Aren't Real', slowly building into a majestic and euphoric orchestral release. 

The Whyte Horses have confidently crafted a superb return, perfectly nuanced, brilliantly written and every bit the follow up to one of our favourite albums of all time. Impeccable. 





STAFF COMMENTS

Andy says: They've done it again! Another classic pop gem with massive, heart-rending tunes, and an enchanted,starry-eyed 60's vibe. Perfect.

Barry says: An unsurprisingly excellent return for the great Whyte Horses. Lengthy progressive melodicism, hazy jangles and heartwarming vocals over huge orchestration and perfect songwriting. Amazing stuff.

FORMAT INFORMATION

2xIndies Exclusive LP Info: Very limited deluxe edition featuring the gatefold album sleeve housed in a yellow envelope style slip case. Numbered edition of 500 copies.

2xLP Info: Standard gatefold sleeve edition.

White Denim are back - regenerated and resolute. The Austin quartet have long pulled hard at the parameters of rock & roll, admitting garage punk, soul, psychedelia, prog, jazz and blues while holding onto its vital goodtime core. Their up-tempo drive has produced a body of work defined as much by stellar musicianship as off-the-chain exhilaration. Energy and adventurism have always been paramount. Here are nine songs with clarity and renewed purpose as well as a truckload of attitude. A new studio, new collaborators, and new techniques for writing and recording influenced the elastic possibility and liberation felt throughout.

Theirs is music that aims for the whole body, while equally satisfying the mind. While it has morphed, expanded, and even burst apart, White Denim’s sincere, human drive and ability to spark true exhilaration have been unerring constants of the band’s existence. Ever progressing, never content to camp out on a plateau of their creative accomplishments, there is no other band quite like White Denim – unique in talent and legendarily potent as a live band, they are quite simply a very special band.

STAFF COMMENTS

Barry says: Classic White Denim this, clean and sophisticated, prone to getting dirty at the drop of a hat and a brilliantly innovative twist on an already established body of material.

FORMAT INFORMATION

Coloured LP Info: 140g clear vinyl - indies exclusive.

The sleeve tells you so much about the process. It’s a picture of a lone figure. Suited up and immersed in interplanetary protective gear, he walks out across unmapped terrain. In the distance, a mountain range towers over the roughly gridded sand he’s striding. This is very much a solo mission – giant steps into the unknown. Inside the helmet, there’s all the uncertainty and madness that such a pursuit brings.

That sleeve (designed, as ever, with Mark Farrow), comes wrapped around And Nothing Hurt - Spiritualized’s eighth album, the follow up to 2012’s Sweet Heart, Sweet Light. From the opening lullaby of A Perfect Miracle through to the fading Morse Code at the close of Sail on Through, it painstakingly wraps layer upon layer of gloriously transcendent sound together to create a mesmerizing and cinematic collection of songs.

There are points – the thunderous climax of On the Sunshine; the spectral waltz of The Prize; the towering guitar solo on I’m Your Man – where the waves of blissful noise are almost overwhelming, where one can imagine the studio’s speakers vibrating themselves off of the walls. Which is an incredible feat when you discover that the album was conceived and recorded almost entirely by one man – Jason Pierce, AKA J.Spaceman - in an upstairs room in his east London home. Sat in an edit suite in Whitechapel a month or so after finishing recording, Jason talks honestly about the painstaking, frustrating process of creating And Nothing Hurt.

“Making this record on my own sent me more mad than anything I’ve done before. We’d been playing these big shows and I really wanted to capture that sound we were making but, without the funds to do, I had to find a way to work within the constraints of what money I had. So I bought a laptop and made it all in a little room in my house.”

Whereas bedroom recording is commonplace for a generation of musicians who’ve grown up with horizon-expanding tech, Spiritualized have long used the studio as they would an extra member of the band – as a vital building block in the construction of some of the most cherished records of the modern era. This time would be very different. With no grounding in digital recording, Jason had to learn everything from scratch.

“The biggest thing for me was to try to make it sound like a studio session. There are bits that I went to a studio to record – mainly drums and percussion. I mean, there’s no way I’m going to get timpani up my stairs. When I came to terms with how I was going to make the record, I assumed it was going to sound like Lee Perry - all flying in from different angles; all extraordinary and not hi-tech in construction. But I was new to it all, I didn’t have all the short cuts people use when they’re making records – I just sat there for weeks… for months… moving every level up bit by bit just to try to get the sounds right.”

For the listener, the nine tracks on And Nothing Hurt effortlessly replicate the scale and power of Spiritualized’s previous releases, whether it’s the sonic blowback of On the Sunshine, the last dime in the jukebox love letter of Let’s Dance or the swell of an imaginary orchestra that seems to lift Damaged towards the heavens as it plays out.

“With a bit of trial and lot of error, I found ways of doing something that’s quite simple, if you’ve got the resources. I spent two weeks listening to classical records and strumming the chord that I wanted on my guitar. When I found something to match what I wanted, I’d sample that bit and go for the next chord and try to match that. It took weeks, trying to put together and layer convincing string sounds. But, if I’m honest, all I wanted was for someone to come and play the part and bring their own thing to the record.”

One of the biggest influences on the final sound of the record was a series of shows played in 2016 celebrating the (near) 20th anniversary of the band’s peerless 1997 release Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space. Those shows, played with a fifteen-piece orchestra and a gospel choir, forced Jason to revisit songs that he’d already been working on for years.

“Part of the reason for doing those gigs was to inform the songs I’d been working on. Trying to sing convincingly in a little room at home was really difficult. The big shows helped remind myself what it’s like to sing with that kind of backing. I can’t really describe it… when you’re singing with a choir behind you and there’s all this noise coming off the stage, you sing things very differently to how you would A) in a studio or B) sitting on your bed at home recording into a laptop.”

Lyrically, And Nothing Hurt touches on thoughts of passing time and acceptance of one’s age – never more beautifully than on Let’s Dance (‘The hour is getting late, they’re putting all the chairs away / they’ve got Big Star on the radio, they’ll let us stay’).

“I didn’t want to be fighting against my age; it’s very much about acceptance. And not with any dissatisfaction either – I’m not raging against the inevitable. I spent a lot of time thinking about the way that the songs should hold together, trying to make the narratives make sense rather than just throwing together a couple of lines that rhymed. Let’s Dance was very much a ‘last orders’ kind of song, about grasping at the finality of that moment.”

During the making of And Nothing Hurt, Jason kept returning to the thought that this would be the last Spiritualized record – interviews over the last couple of years made it clear that the frustration of trying to replicate the sounds in his head whilst sat on his bed were proving too much. With the record finally finished and a new UK label (Bella Union – Fat Possum continue to release Spiritualized records in the States), does he feel the same way now?

“I was quite sincere about that and I still feel like it might be the case. It was such hard work. I found myself going crazy for so long. It’s not like there’s no coming back, I’m fine now… it’s just such a hard thing to do, to make a record like this on your own. It’s almost as if, if I’m not pushing myself to point of madness, it’s not going to be right. And I know it’s going to be like that every time. What’s the definition of madness? Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. I kind of do that. I think the biggest goal is to make something that’s worthy of all that time and effort. And the more time and effort, the bigger the goal. I knew I had to make something that was good enough that it should be made. And a massive positive about making the record is that we get to play it live. That’s always the most joyous thing; everyone gets to contribute to the sound, this amazing thing that seems to come right through the roof.”

If the last set of Spiritualized gigs helped set the course for how And Nothing Hurt now sounds – alternately intimate, hypnotic, cyclonic and downright spiritual - maybe… just maybe… this next set will encourage Jason to flip open the laptop to press record again. Here’s hoping.

STAFF COMMENTS

Barry says: A brilliantly written, beautifully evocative distillation of the live Spiritualized sound on this newest LP from Jason Pierce. Classic S3 melodies and progressions, intimately presented and as immersive as ever. A fitting return for one of the greats.

FORMAT INFORMATION

Coloured LP Info: Indies exclusive white vinyl.

Deluxe LP Info: Deluxe edition orange vinyl.

Travel can inspire in surprising ways: Kurt Vile discovered as much making his first record in three years, the eclectic and electrifying Bottle It In, which he recorded at various studios around the country over two very busy years, during sessions that usually punctuated the ends of long tours or family road trips.

Every song, whether it’s a concise and catchy pop composition or a sprawling guitar epic, becomes a journey unto itself, taking unexpected detours, circuitous melodic avenues, or open-highway solos. If Vile has become something of a rock guitar god—a mantle he would dismiss out of humility but also out of a desire to keep getting better, to continue absorbing new music, new sounds, new ideas—it’s due to his precise, witty playing style, which turns every riff and rhythm into points on a map and takes the scenic route from one to the next.

Using past albums as points of departure, Bottle It In heads off in new directions, pushing at the edges of the map into unexplored territory: Here be monster jams. These songs show an artist who is still evolving and growing: a songwriter who, like his hero John Prine, can make you laugh and break your heart, often in the same line, as well as a vocalist who essentially rewrites those songs whenever he sings them in his wise, laconic jive-talkin’ drawl. He revels in the minutiae of the music— not simply incorporating new instruments but emphasizing how they interact with his guitar and voice, how the glockenspiel evokes cirrocumulus clouds on “Hysteria,” how Kim Gordon’s “acoustic guitar distortion” (her term) engulfs everything at the end of “Mutinies,” how the banjo curls around his guitar lines and backing vocals from Lucius to lend a high-lonesome aura to “Come Again.”

These journeys took Vile more than two years to navigate, during which time he toured behind his breakout 2015 album b’lieve I’m goin’ down, recorded a duets album with Australian singer-songwriter-guitarist Courtney Barnett, opened for Neil Young in front of 90,000 people in Quebec, famously became a clue on Jeopardy, hung out with friends, took vacations with his wife and daughters. “I’ve been bouncing around a lot and recording all over. My family would meet me in the middle of America, and we’d go on a road trip somewhere. I would record in between all that stuff.”

As Vile prepares for another round of lengthy tours and countless shows, these songs should prove good company, reminders of the love and responsibility he has toward those he leaves at home and those
he meets along the way. That makes the sentiments resonate more strongly and lends Bottle It In an emotional weight. “It’s like that moment on the airplane,” Vile says, “when you’re on your way somewhere and you have that burst of panic. When you’re terrified of dying, that’s when you want people to know you love them.”

STAFF COMMENTS

Andy says: Everything we love about KV in one superb LP. More dynamic than his last outing and the most beautifully produced of all his albums, Bottle It In also features a cover of Charlie Rich's Rollin With The Flow: a massive, classic, country-pop beaut, which is possibly the prettiest thing he's ever committed to tape.

FORMAT INFORMATION

2xDinked Edition LP Info: DINKED STORES EXCLUSIVE:
Orange/Yellow Splatter Vinyl
Die-Cut Sleeve
Custom Rounded Corners
Ltd to 800 numbered copies to Dinked Shops only.

2xColoured LP Info: Blue vinyl edition.

2xLP Info: Standard black vinyl.

British musician and producer Leon Vynehall is part of a vanguard of artists expanding the ambition of electronic music. Highly respected for his musical output, he has established himself as a genuine artist, releasing bodies of work that are layered with musicality and craftsmanship. Previous releases have consistently received critical acclaim. "Music For The Uninvited’ was widely praised and featured heavily on many of 2014’s Best Of Year polls including XLR8R (#3 album), DJ Mag (#3 album) and Mixmag (#6 album). Follow up "Rojus" (2016) received another long list of accolades including DJ Mag’s Album Of The Year. It also featured in Pitchfork’s Top 20 Best Electronic Albums Of 2016.

"Nothing Is Still", released on Ninja Tune, sees the producer turn his hand to languid jazz meanderings, futuristic tropicalia and sun-baked downbeat. It's a slower and more deliberate operation than his frenetic, neon-tinged house music that's previously been his calling card. Here we find Leon in calm and sedate mood, rich in musicality and emotion and turning his back somewhat on the clubs and dancefloors occupied by the under 25s. 


STAFF COMMENTS

Matt says: Nice to see ol' Leon Vynehall spreading his musical wings here and offering up summat completely fresh. Ambient, jazz-tinged and most tropical, this is the producer taking a well deserved, horizontally-aligned rest; and we should all revel in its glory.

FORMAT INFORMATION

LP Info: Heavyweight vinyl.

LP includes MP3 Download Code.

Bristol, UK 5-piece Idles (aka “the UK's best punk band" - The Guardian) release their sophomore LP - ‘Joy as an Act of Resistance.’ 

Produced by Space and mixed by Adam Greenspan & Nick Launay (Arcade Fire, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Kate Bush), ‘Joy as an Act of Resistance.’ takes aim at everything from toxic masculinity, nationalism, immigration, and class inequality - all while maintaining a visceral, infectious positivity. Singer Joe Talbot summarizes: “This album is an attempt to be vulnerable to our audience and to encourage vulnerability; a brave naked smile in this shitty new world. We have stripped back the songs and lyrics to our bare flesh to allow each other to breathe, to celebrate our differences, and act as an ode to communities and the individuals that forge them. Because without our community, we’d be nothing.”

STAFF COMMENTS

Barry says: Much of the same wry lyricism, insightful and observational social commentary and clever irony as their much-lauded debut but brought into the present with an inter-band chemistry and development of style that the intermittent years have brought out. Snappy, clever and loud.

FORMAT INFORMATION

Coloured LP Info: Limited edition pink vinyl.

Coloured LP includes MP3 Download Code.

Deluxe LP Info: Gold glitter embossed sleeve with 18 different artwork variation inserts.

Deluxe LP includes MP3 Download Code.

Last time Prins Emanuel flexed his musical muscles on Copenhagen's vibrant Music For Dreams he delivered 'Arbete / Fritid' a double LP of analogue disco, Balearic boogie and leftfield house soaked in inventive melody, multi instrumentation and studio wizzardry. A big hitter with Balearic beards, disco heads and anyone with; a) taste and b) ears, the debut delight set a very high watermark for the Swedish producer. So, it's with complete incredulity that I sit here and tell you that "Diagonal Musik" is even better!
Over the course of eight delicate and divine compostions there's nary a kick drum in sight. In fact, Prins Emanuel ignores the dancefloor entirely, swapping the studio trickery for the honesty and immediacy of an entirely acoustic approach. Guitar in hand, accompanied by the most subtle of organic percussion, the Swede strums, picks and slides his way through a gorgeous set of jazz-folk instrumentals. Think autumn leaves, rain on the window pane and cold coffee - cigarette smoke and a tear stained moleskine. If you'd told me this was a lost folk private press from 70s Europe, I'd be calling Basso and demanding he source me a copy. Forget genres, labels, press or playlists, "Diagonal Musik" is absurdly beautiful; and when you're old(er) and gray(er) you'll still be listening to it.

STAFF COMMENTS

Patrick says: I've been a big fan of Prins Emanuel for a long time now, and his weirdo disco gem 'Arbete / Fritid' has been in my record box ever since it came out. Here he throws us the most delightful curveball, dodging the dance floor and delivering eight gorgeous acoustic guitar compositions. Intimate, otherworldly and deeply evocative, this is the kind of record you'll listen to until the day you die.

Raised in England, Hynes started out as a teenage punk in the UK band Test Icicles before releasing two orchestral acoustic pop records as Lightspeed Champion. In 2011, he released Coastal Grooves, the first of three solo albums under the moniker Blood Orange. His last album, Freetown Sound, was released to critical acclaim in 2016, and saw Hynes defined as one of the foremost musical voices of his time, receiving comparisons to the likes of Kendrick Lamar and D’Angelo for his own searing and soothing personal document of life as a black man in America. He has collaborated with Solange Knowles, Skepta, fka twigs, Carly Rae Jepsen, A$AP Rocky, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Blondie, and many other artists, and was recently one of four artists invited to the Kennedy Center to perform alongside Philip Glass. In addition to his production work, he scored the film Palo Alto, directed by Gia Coppola.

Negro Swan was written and produced by Hynes. Says Hynes:

“My newest album is an exploration into my own and many types of black depression, an honest look at the corners of black existence, and the ongoing anxieties of queer/people of color. A reach back into childhood and modern traumas, and the things we do to get through it all. The underlying thread through each piece on the album is the idea of HOPE, and the lights we can try to turn on within ourselves with a hopefully positive outcome of helping others out of their darkness.”

STAFF COMMENTS

Millie says: The return of the incredible Dev Hynes brings us Negro Swan, his music continues to be the most innovative and original sound out there at the moment. Hynes explores themes of struggles from people of colour and sexuality in this album, and brings a message of hope. Blood Orange has a powerful voice and his work remains to be worlds apart from everyone else, big love.

FORMAT INFORMATION

2xColoured LP Info: Independent retailers exclusive on heavyweight
orange coloured vinyl with digital download code.

2xLP Info: Double LP pressed on heavyweight vinyl with digital
download code.

28 - Les Big Byrd

Iran Iraq IKEA - Piccadilly Exclusive Bonus Disc Edition

FOR PREORDERS ONLY ALL FORMATS COME WITH AN EXCLUSIVE 18 TRACK PNKSLM CD SAMPLER.

PNKSLM Recordings are beyond excited to announce the second full length from Stockholm's Les Big Byrd. Consisting of Jocke Åhlund, Nino Keller, Frans Johansson & Martin "Konie" Ehrencrona, Les Big Byrd have been consistently one of the most exciting bands at the forefront of the Swedish music scene. Following on from 2014's "The Worshipped Cats" LP (A Recordings). 

Long awaited second album from this stargazing psychedelic pop collective, with a slick production that ensures the trip is an aural joy.

Fans of follakzoid / hookworms / will find much to lose themselves in on this album!!

STAFF COMMENTS

Barry says: Part psych, part electronic, part motorik rock, Les Big Byrd manage to take every idea from their sphere of influence and mix them into a cohesive and absorbing whole. Brilliantly dynamic, hugely varied and most of all, richly rewarding. Well worth getting early for that bonus disc too! Ace.

FORMAT INFORMATION

Coloured LP Info: Ultra limited white vinyl edition - limited to just 350 copies worldwide.

November 16th 2017 Tim Burgess tweeted, asking his followers who they would recruit if they were putting together a band: “Who would you have in your supergroup? Excluding Charlatans, mine would be: Vocals: Me & Ladyhawke Guitar: Josh Heyward (The Horrors) Keys: Martin Duffy (Primal Scream) Bass: Debbie Googe (My Bloody Valentine) Drums: Steffan Halperin (The Chavs/ Klaxons)” The difference was that Tim's band was not only a real band but they had also recorded an album. As I Was Now was recorded in Cheshire in December 2008 by a group of friends and is now being released, nearly ten years later.

“We were complaining about how boring things were between Christmas and New Year, so we got together to record some songs. Some songs were more complete than others, others appear on this record more finished than others.” Tim Burgess 

STAFF COMMENTS

Andy says: For an album it's creator forgot to release(!!?) and with such a diverse cast of contributors (My Bloody Valentine, The Horrors, Primal Scream and Ladyhawke) this will really surprise you with its cohesion and beautiful melodic sensibility. This is a really good collection of songs, easily as good as Tim's previous solo work, and the puzzle remains: why such a below the radar/ casual release? Highly recommended.

FORMAT INFORMATION

CD Info: Limited edition signed CD!

For a limited period only both formats come with a FREE 3 track remix CD bonus disc.

Parquets Courts' fifth album 'Wide Awake!' - produced by Danger Mouse - is a groundbreaking work, an album about independence and individuality but also about collectivity and communitarianism. The songs, written by Andrew Savage and Austin Brown but elevated to even greater heights by the dynamic rhythmic propulsion of Max Savage (drums) and Sean Yeaton (bass), are filled with their traditional punk rock passion, as well as a lyrical tenderness. The record reflects a burgeoning confidence in the band's exploration of new ideas in a hi-fi context.

STAFF COMMENTS

Barry says: It's hard to dislike Parquet Courts, with their dedication to oddball time signatures and funked-out chaka-chaka rhythms, turning the idea of guitar bands on their head, with a heady mix of soaring power chords, introspective breakdowns and massive, chugging heft. Classic PC.

FORMAT INFORMATION

LP includes MP3 Download Code.

Lucy Dacus is done thinking small. Two years after her 2016 debut, No Burden, won her unanimous acclaim as one of rock's most promising new voices, Dacus returns on March 2 with Historian, a remarkably assured 10-track statement of intent. "This is the album I needed to make," says Dacus, who views Historian as her definitive statement as a songwriter and musician. "Everything after this is a bonus."

Dacus and her band recorded the album in Nashville last March, re-teaming with No Burden producer Collin Pastore, and mixed it a few months later with A-list studio wizard John Congleton. The sound they created, with substantial input from multi-instrumentalist and live guitarist Jacob Blizard, is far richer and fuller than the debut — an outward flowering of dynamic, living, breathing rock and roll. Dacus' remarkable sense of melody and composition are the driving force throughout, giving Historian the immersive feel of an album made by an artist in full command of her powers.

STAFF COMMENTS

Millie says: Dacus' light Americana leanings of the superb No Burden are sidelined slightly for her grander, more expansive new outing, Historian. Though her smouldering guitar work and unmistakable voice are ever present, they are skillfully woven into an intricate and all-encompassing web of orchestration, grandeur and beauty. This is a stunner, and every bit the successful follow-up.

An underwater adventure by young Parisian Shelter. Where previous releases have seen the synth-obsessed Frenchman take his inspiration from Caribbean rhythms or Balearic attitudes, this marine missive sees Shelter turn to the lavish world of the library, creating his alternate score to Jean Faurez’ 1960 documentary short.

More submersible than snorkel, our journey begins in the very dark of the deep, mystical harp trills echoing through the inky blackness, picking up the bioluminescent shimmer of an Abraliopsis Squid. Gradually we make our way into the light, cruising past shoals of silver scales and underwater forests. ‚Immersion’ offers a placid, percolating rhythm and billowing pads, providing sonic symmetry for the dancing leaves, while the spheric soundscape of ‘La Vie A L’Ombre’ bubbles away like an underwater volcano. The optimistic ambience of ‘Plenitude Azotee’, brimming with delicate melody and glistening sequences, perfectly captures the wide-eyed wonder of a reef dive, before drifting into the serenity of ‘Parade’, an aquatic acquaintance of A.R.T. Wilson’s ‘Overworld’. A brief foray into shark fin funk sees out the A-side, before we’re back amid the beauty of the ocean floor; ‘Variation Abyssale II’ echoing the album opener but with even more poetry. The exotic and otherworldly sine waves of ‘Dans La Jungle De Varech’ simultaneously sound like a rainforest canopy, alien landscape and coral microcosm, expanding our horizons nicely ahead of the adrenaline rush of ‘Hors D’Haleine’. Shelter then sets us at ease with the tidal tonality and subtle shuffle of ‘Fumeurs Noirs’, a sublime synthetic suite, then leaves us to marvel at the soft focus splendour of ‘Synthii Outro’.

STAFF COMMENTS

Patrick says: Stunning sub-aquatic imagery and deep water ambience from Parisian producer Shelter here, who joins the Growing Bin ranks with one of their finest releases to date. Melodic, exotic and esoteric, this has been a regular presence on the Piccadilly promo-player, so expect to see it make a major dent in our end of year charts.

33 - D.A.L.I. (Deadly Avenger & Luke Insect)

When Haro Met Sally

Did anyone ever watch 'California Dreams' on Nickelodon in the early 90's? Bright, pseudo-surf teens carving through their difficult formative years using a combination of friendship, music (the eponyomous 'California Dreams' was their band) and good old-fashioned teamwork. Sure, we had our ups and downs (they were, unforgivably prone to cultural stereotyping and 'playful' appropriation a-la Saved By The Bell), and their band, despite the optimistic title, were shit, but they made an impression on me nonetheless.  

Enter master synth-fiddler Deadly Avenger and Luke Insect, a local purveyor of mindblowing psychedelic imagery to create 'D.A.L.I', an homage to to hazy summer days in California, suddenly casting aside all thoughts of the California Dreams and their saccharine interactions. 

We hear the hazy air of a humid california day throughout, saturated into VHS tapes, and brought overseas with throbbing Italo pulses and snapping arpeggiated octaves (the duo of 'Mushroom Grip' and 'Sunset On Overland Drive' had me subconsciously desk-dancing, and continues to amaze even after repeated listens). We have more dynamic struggle/resolution montage gold in 'Too Tuff To Bluff', shimmering reverbed DX7 and panned glittering saw waves in 'Me And My Mongoose', interspersed with context-giving skits (BMX competions, frivolity, the pressures of being North-Cal etc.) 

A Brilliantly absorbing and unbelievably emotive cruise along the entirety of the PCH, stopping at college parties, rad spots and diners, illustrated and brought to life with deft musicianship and perfectly curated artistic direction. A simmering, summer winner. 




STAFF COMMENTS

Barry says: Another superb slice of 80's electronics and saturated synth throbs from the ever-reliable Burning Witches. Snappy gated snares ring out over the hazy horizon, one thousand over-sized boom boxes blare sound to the polyester-clad dude-shouting masses. Honestly the best synth music i've heard since D/A/D. Absolutely superb.

FORMAT INFORMATION

LP Info: Gloss gatefold sunshine yellow vinyl.

Frahm returns to Erased Tapes for his most beguiling outing yet. Kicking things off with the choral solemnity of the brief 'The Whole Universe Wants To Be Touched',  before 'Sunson' excellently displays the sort of percussive demi-trance that he and Olafur Arnalds excelled at in their collaborative output. 'My Friend The Forest' has perhaps the most semblance to Frahm's earlier work, with the gently hammered piano strings being subtly blunted with some sort of preparation. It doesn't sound quite as muted as his seminal work (perhaps the felt has worn out a little), and is unmistakeable in it's  rapid trills, separated by moments of acoustic ambience. 

'Forever Changeless' is again littered with moments of progressive beauty, but eases off a little on the sustain to give way to a slightly terse atmosphere, beautifully accentuated by Frahm's deft hands before moving into 'All Melody' which couldn't be more reminiscent of the spine-tingling electronic crescendo of 'Says' from 2013's 'Spaces'. 

With the percussive workout of '#2' and 'Momentum' taking a metaphorical breath from the more upbeat moments, it gives us time to relax and reflect before the mournful military requiem of 'Fundamental Values' gives way to it's own latter resolution and smooth segue into the tropical arps of 'Kaleidoscope' and the soul-soothing slow-mo beauty of 'Harm Hymn'. 

Another beautiful outing for Frahm, and further evidence of his credentials as one of today's most talented composers. 


STAFF COMMENTS

Barry says: Brittle pieces, flecked with ambient interludes and soaring, spine-tingling euphoric electronic elements. This is by far the most diverse, but thematically impeccable Frahm outing yet.

Cavern Of Anti-Matter return for their third studio album on their own Duophonic label. Hormone Lemonade sees the band heavily utilising the sounds of modular synths and home built drum machines, yet still keeping the loose, improvised sound familiar to fans of their first two albums, with minimal guitar melodies and live drum kit helping to build hypnotic layers of texture.

The albums genesis was in the self-constructed rhythm machines of band member Holger Zapf, the Taktron Z3 and Taktron Z2, being recorded to tape during three one-hour sessions. These sessions also included the use of 70s Hohner and Eko drum machines. Holger played his parts in a free-form way and the bpm varied wildly as it was not possible to sync it to any outside controllers.

Tim Gane edited these initial jams into useable chunks and proceeded to overdub each new rhythmic “chunk” with some basic musical ideas, keeping in tune to the hum of the machines and retaining the “feel” of the inherent pulse. Joe Dilworth arrived to lay down a beat over these minimal backing tracks, going with the flow as best he could.

In the following months the music was fleshed out using various synths and sequencers from Roland, Arp, Oberheim and Holger’s modular synth set up. As well as many of the bass and sequencer parts the modular also supplied the chords by tuning each one of it’s five oscillators to specific notes and intervals.



STAFF COMMENTS

Darryl says: Another superb outing for COAM, with the throbbing synth pulses and hypnotic motorik beats returning with aplomb. Things take a little more of an orchestral turn this time, with simmering progressions halting to make room for nuanced passages of ambient bliss.

FORMAT INFORMATION

Coloured LP Info: Clear Vinyl 2LP in mirriboard sleeve with printed insert, includes download card.

Ltd LP Info: Black Vinyl 2LP in mirriboard sleeve with printed insert, includes download card.

Shop favourites (2016 end-of-year chart high-rollers) Gogo Penguin return for their latest outing on legendary jazz label, Blue Note. The thing about Gogo penguin is, they're a jazz band, but without all the things you'd associate with a jazz band. The beards are as few as their years, and the chin-stroking is not only minimal, but actively discouraged. Their last outing (the stunning 'Man Made Object') mixed the subtle downtempo percussion and slowly unfurling progressions of traditional jazz with tender, minimalistic electronics and ambient textures reminiscent of modern-classical contemporaries liberally littered around the Erased Tapes roster.

Whilst their compositions are completely instrumental, there seems to be a wealth of outside influence making itself known through the phrasing and keys used. While 2015 / 2016 were in no way dream years for society in general, it was clear that there was a playfulness in their delivery of songs like 'Quiet Mind' (incidentally, this particular piece reminded me of the other 'Penguin' band, no bad thing).

As soon as we finish the frenetic buzzing and claustrophobic atmospheres of 'Prayer', it becomes clear that the rather torrid world climate has indeed osmosed into their compositions, swapping out the languid bobbing atmospheres of yesteryear for a highly charged, powerfully visceral sound experience. While the melodic counterpoints are as ever, impeccably realised (and perfectly accentuated by Turner's mindblowing skin-smacking), the euphoric peak is often hidden behind a flurry of call-response dialogue, the peak only being reached through an intentionally laboured conversational swell.

While throughout the album, the simmering malaise invariably breaks through into a grand and sweeping relief, it is in pieces like 'A Hundred Moons' that we get the full-force of their compositional genius, breaking through the residual gloom with airy, tropical percussion and a cleansing palate of major-key lifts and twinkling plucks. Without waxing lyrical about every song in turn, there really isn't much more that can be said, you'll just have to listen to it yourself. Truth of the matter is, Gogo Penguin are one of a kind, and continue to pioneer their own spellbinding brand of electronic jazz. 


STAFF COMMENTS

Millie says: Gogo Penguin continue to redefine what 'jazz' is to a lot of people (myself included). Continuing to skilfully eschew staid progressions and inject an electronic ambiguity into wilfully beautiful compositions, GGP remain as groundbreaking yet listenable as ever. Essential.

FORMAT INFORMATION

2xLP includes MP3 Download Code.

Ltd CD Info: "Mintpack" CD edition.

37 - Tess Parks & Anton Newcombe

Tess Parks & Anton Newcombe

Tess Parks and Anton Newcombe will release their second full-length album on 12th October 2018. The 9-track eponymous album was recorded in Anton Newcombe’s Cobra Studios in Berlin last year and was mostly co-written by the duo. The lead track ‘ Right On’ perfectly showcases the complementary mix of Tess and Anton’s musicianship and style. The pair first collaborated in 2015 on the album ‘I Declare Nothing’, which saw NME call Tess’ smoky, smouldering vocals ‘particularly impressive’, while UNCUT compared them to a ‘darker, edgier Hope Sandoval’.

STAFF COMMENTS

Barry says: Another brilliant outing from Tess Parks & Anton of Brian Jonestown Massacre, with the head-nodding psychedelic chug of the latter being beautifully accentuated by the lysergic, drifting vocals of the former. A stunning continuation of their already mindblowing first LP, but much more refined and focused. Brilliant.

FORMAT INFORMATION

Coloured LP Info: Limited clear vinyl.

Crack the coffers, Oh Sees have spawned another frothy album of head-destroying psych-epics to grok and rock out to. Notice the fresh dollop of organ and keyboard prowess courtesy of Memory Of A Cut Off Head-alum and noted key-stabber Tom Dolas, while the Paul Quattrone / Dan Rincon drum-corps polyrhythmic pulse continues to astound and pound in equal measure, buttressed by the nimble fingered bottom end of Sir Tim Hellman the Brave and the shred-heaven fret frying of John Dwyer, whilst Lady Brigid Dawson again graces the wax with her harmonic gifts.

Aside from the familiar psych-scorch familiar to soggy pit denizens the world over, there’s a fresh heavy-prog vibe that fits like a worn-in jean jacket comfortably among hairpin metal turns and the familiar but no less horns-worthy guitar fireworks Dwyer’s made his calling card. Perhaps the most notable thing about Smote Destroyer is the artistic restlessness underpinning its flights of fancy. Dwyer refuses to repeat himself and for someone with such a hectic release schedule, that stretching of aesthetic borders and omnivorous appetite seems all the more superhuman!

STAFF COMMENTS

Barry says: They're back again, reliably presenting us with their annual outing as 'Oh Sees' (not to mention their interim performances as any variety of that name), and they have reliably smashed it out of the park. Unbelievably grooving, beautifully constructed and forged with as much intensity as anything they've ever created. Once again, predictably brilliant.

FORMAT INFORMATION

2xColoured LP Info: Indies exclusive coloured vinyl edition.

2xColoured LP includes MP3 Download Code.

2xLP includes MP3 Download Code.

Although civilization’s transition into a cyborg world seems inevitable, there are still those who recognize the beauty and power of a human touch to complement the circumvention. Jack Tatum understands this balance, and through a decade making music as Wild Nothing he has learned to embrace both sides of that dynamic—but perhaps never as distinctly as on Indigo, the fourth Wild Nothing album. On one hand, it is a return to the fresh, transcendent sweep of his debut, 2010’s Gemini , and on the other, a culmination of heights reached, paths traveled, and lessons learned while creating the follow-ups, Nocturne and Life of Pause . Indigo finds Tatum at his most efficient, calculated, and confident—resulting in an artful blend of hi-fi humanity and technology that fires on all circuits and synapses.

To make Indigo , Tatum confronted the Man vs. Machine dichotomy by seizing on the surrounding synergy. Finding the right people to work on the album was integral, as was the proper place to record it. So, Tatum booked four days at legendary Sunset Sound’s Studio. Afterwards, producer Jorge Elbrecht (Ariel Pink, Gang Gang Dance, Japanese Breakfast) and Tatum built out the rest of the album’s sound by adding new parts and repurposing sounds from Tatum’s demos. The resulting Indigo is its own cyborg world, utilizing the artful mechanisms of human touch with the precision of technology to create the classic, pristine sound Tatum had been seeking his entire career. From the opening drum beat, chiming guitar, and sweeping synth of “Letting Go” to Tatum’s Bryan Ferry vocal turn on “Oscillation” to the ’80s-heavy blips, clicks, and strut of “Partners in Motion,” it’s clear that Indigo is at once vintage Wild Nothing and a bold, new leap into a bigger arena.


STAFF COMMENTS

Andy says: From glowing jangly guitars and Tatum's soaring vox, Wild Nothing present a more cohesive and slick outing than 2016's shop favourite, 'Life Of Pause'. A superb progression in dynamics whilst still retaining the superb melodicism that made them so appealing in the first place. Ace.

FORMAT INFORMATION

Coloured LP Info: Transparent Blue vinyl. Limited to just 500 copies for UK and EU indie retailers.

In contrast to her 2016 lauded album New View, which Eleanor arranged and recorded with her touring band, Rebound was recorded mostly by Eleanor alone with assistance from producer Clemens Knieper. The resulting album is an entirely new sound for Eleanor, exchanging live instrumentation for programmed drums, a Juno synthesizer, and muted guitars, creating a sonic landscape where influences range from Stereolab and Suicide to Lena Platonos and Yellow Magic Orchestra. In addition to a new sonic palette, Rebound takes significant inspiration from Eleanor’s time spent in Greece. Half-Greek herself, Eleanor frequently traveled to Greece to see family, but decided in 2016 to really immerse herself in the culture. Rebound is the incredible next step in a lauded, brilliant recording career by one of the most prolific, daring independent artists of our time. From her days spent in The Fiery Furnaces, creating melodically off-kilter, idiosyncratic mini-epics, to her three acclaimed previous solo albums, Eleanor Friedberger continues to create exactly what we need to hear when we need to hear it.

STAFF COMMENTS

Andy says: Beautifully smooth synthetic soundscapes, deep and rich harmonic flow all topped by Friedberger's haunting but strangely soothing vocal accentuations. Rich and immersive, and beautifully written throughout.

Gulp, formed by Super Furry Animals’ Guto Pryce, Lindsey Leven and their long standing guitarist Gid Goundrey, release their new album 'All Good Wishes', via E.L.K Records. Gulp are on a journey, a state of perpetual transition. The band make mini Kraut-pop epics, informed equally by the sun flares of the Californian desert and the drizzle of pure, sweet Scottish rain and northern light. Debut album ‘Season Sun’ was a home-grown delight, a ramshackle, endlessly inventive selection of dreamy psychedelic nuggets to watch the world flash past.

New album ‘All Good Wishes’ half-inches its title from a vintage Scottish postcard, and it’s emblematic of the changes the pair have undergone. “I think all through making this record we were looking at relocating,” Guto explains. “Whereas the first record was more of a road trip this is possibly a bit more focussed on home, and focussed on where we’re from and where we’re looking to go to. It’s partly a farewell to Wales, and hello to Scotland.”
The record was largely built in South Wales, a three-year process that saw the band retreat to their basement for endless sonic incisions and revisions. A broader, wider, perhaps bolder experience than their debut, ‘All Good Wishes’ is rooted in fantastic pop songwriting, in creating three minute vignettes that express complex ideas in a simple, accessible, endlessly fascinating way. Endlessly restrained yet infinitely open, each Gulp track is like a world in miniature, ideas borrowed from Krautrock and electronic culture slimmed down into these infinitely enjoyable pop songs.

Minimalist Kraut-pop with a dreamy, Cocteau Twins esque vibe, recent single ‘Morning Velvet Sky’ was a potent introduction to the duo’s ever-shifting realm. Following on from introductory cut ‘Search For Your Love’ - released on Tim Burgess’ esteemed O Genesis label - ‘Morning Velvet Sky’ was mixed by Luke Abbott, and the producer cast his eye over the record as a whole during the final mixdown in his home studio in Norwich

From Cardiff to Norwich and onwards to the Scottish East Coast, Gulp are tracing sonic ley-lines, empowering themselves, plugging into often over-looked artistic communities to fuel their next move. “We spent a lot of time on road trips listening to music, experiencing and enjoying different landscapes” he explains. “It’s especially apt in these times to see the good side of human nature; despite what the media portrays, people are generally sound, and it’s great be reminded of that in day-to-day living.”


STAFF COMMENTS

Andy says: Beautiful, dreamy, electro-psych-pop from the erstwhile Super Furries man and his partner. If you liked Gwenno and Jane Weaver then you'll love this. It's sublime.

FORMAT INFORMATION

Coloured LP Info: Limited white vinyl edition.

LP Info: Black vinyl edition.

“What species is this? What century?” Forged in a rural idyll in Middle-England, the new album Pastoral, by Gazelle Twin, exhumes England’s rotten past, and shines a torch over its ever-darkening present. Told through a troupe of multi-gender voices, in vernaculars old and new; from the shrill echo of folksong to tabloid-tinged jaunts, the artist aka Elizabeth Bernholz, presents the notion that “there is horror in every idyll, and danger lurking beyond the “quaint” ”.

The village square - once host to centuries of public torture - becomes a floral framed postcard, dolled-up for the Summer Fête. A sunny, afternoon walk over the hills unsettles a cloud of angry flies feeding from unidentifiable remains. Bigoted vitriol gently murmurs amidst tearoom chatter, as the neatly framed pastoral picture dissolves into a solemn ennui.

Four years in the making, amidst life-changing events, including a move far out of the city, Pastoral will be the first major release by the artist since her widely acclaimed LP UNFLESH (2014, Anti-Ghost Moon Ray) and is seamlessly on-theme, together with Bernholz’s J.G. Ballard-inspired A/V show ’Kingdom Come’ (soundtrack released November 2017, Anti-Ghost Moon Ray) - a fascism-infused hellscape, this time set in deepest Old England.

As its sole creator, Gazelle Twin “The Composer, Musician and Producer” has crafted an album overflowing with a frenzy of traditional and contemporary musical tropes; from early music instrumentation - the harpsichord and the humble recorder, fed through myriad electronics - to the compelling, ritualistic application of found sample-looping. Beyond Bernholz’s signature choral-infusions, here reverberating like a warped Sunday Service, there are even shades of ‘90s house and the once-thriving rural rave scene, albeit recalled as a watery, second-hand memory.

In its consummation it is an album that feels pan-century, even pan-species. Set against a verdant backdrop of hedgerows and steeples, Gazelle Twin “The Artist and Performer”, constructs an eccentric and commanding visual embodiment of all-of-the-above - a costume fit for a court Jester of the 21st Century.
The colours of Neo-Nationalism. Coke cans, and DANGER. “It” (not “she”) hints at folkloric traditions with a footy mascot twist. The “Ye Olde” and “The Everyman” of the English cliché. Brandishing a sneer and a hobby horse. A riddle and a recorder. A jeer and a square dance in red, Adidas Gazelle’s, and a mad, fixed GRIN - first glimpsed in the single, ‘Hobby Horse’ (22 June, Anti-Ghost Moon Ray). A deranged, absurd reflection of deranged and absurd times.

STAFF COMMENTS

Martin says: Bernholz returns for another brilliantly off-piste collection of post-NIN industrial scree, thudding glitches and bit-crushed vocal abstractions, filtered through a rosy, synth-pop filter and smashed into a thousand pieces before being reformed, Burrough-style. Completely baffling but thoroughly brilliant.

FORMAT INFORMATION

Coloured LP Info: Indie stores exclusive red vinyl.

Debut album by MIEN, the exciting new four piece band comprised of The Black Angels’ Alex Maas, The Horrors’ Tom Furse, Elephant Stone’s Rishi Dhir and The Earlies’ John-Mark Lapham. The seeds were sown for this collaboration as long ago as 2004, when Rishi Dhir (Elephant Stone) found himself in a chance encounter with Black Angels frontman Alex Maas whilst performing sitar with his former band on a bill at SXSW in Austin with The Brian Jonestown Massacre. Not long afterwards, he would also stumble across electronics guru and producer John Mark Lapham from Anglo-American band The Earlies, via a shared love for one song - the ‘classic sitar banger’ by The Association, ‘Wantin’ Ain’t Gettin’.

Some years later, another piece of the puzzle came into place, when Dhir was now playing bass with The Black Angels in 2012, and found the band sharing several bills with The Horrors. Thus he made the acquaintance of Tom Furse, and yet another pact was made to work together. Several traversals of the globe by both plane and audio-file later, the result is an album that sees this quartet transcending their origins whilst maintaining a cohesive unity borne of a desire for outward exploration.

John Mark’s vision, as he puts it, was “imagine the Black Angels as Nico in her 80’s industrial phase mixed with George Harrison and Conny Plank.” - true to form, it’s an album that finds equal room for radiant groove-based propulsion and ambient dreamscapes alike - as comfortable with the murky hallucinogenic voyage of ‘You Dreamt’ as the powerful widescreen sweep of ‘(I’m Tired Of) Western Shouting’, yet with songwriting acumen as potent as the production values are expansive and exploratory. This may have been a record put together at a distance - yet the chemistry between these four figures is manifest amidst a kaleidoscopic series of atmospheres and excursions whereby the fertile songwriting of the golden age of ‘60s psychedelia is transmitted into a transcendental realm above and beyond the second decade of the 21st century. 

STAFF COMMENTS

Barry says: It would be impossible to imagine a better line-up than these four veterans of psych and indie-rock, and the product of their hard work is every bit as brilliant as you'd imagine. Fuzzy-headed psychedelic swirls, thumping percussion and chugging, kosmische riffs.

FORMAT INFORMATION

Coloured LP Info: "Deep Mien" coloured vinyl.

Mogwai's first venture into the world of the feature film soundtracks is for the upcoming KIN (directed by the producers that bought you Stranger Things and Arrival, Jonathan and Josh Baker and in cinemas 31st August 2018).

Expect classic mogwai tensions, twinkling synthesisers and tenderly interwoven guitar lines. Ambient washes spring forth from slowly building atmospherics and fall again into rumbles of activity. Yet another perfectly measured outing from the masters of post-rock. 

STAFF COMMENTS

Darryl says: The first venture into the world of the feature film soundtracks from famously brilliant instrumental(ish) rockers Mogwai, bringing together both the brittle, minimalist atmospherics and earth-shaking euphoric rock they've become so known for. A beautiful counterpoint to ‘Atomic’s tentative (but equally beautiful) malaise.

FORMAT INFORMATION

Coloured LP Info: Limited edition heavyweight red vinyl LP.

Coloured LP includes MP3 Download Code.

The long-awaited follow up to Washington’s debut "The Epic", "Heaven & Earth" is comprised of two halves, which find Washington confronting quotidian realities with cosmic themes. A further investigation of Washington’s world building ideas, the new album explores his reckoning with current global chaos and his vision for the future.

Washington convened his band, The Next Step, as well as members of the long running collective The West Coast Get Down at Henson Studios in Los Angeles to record the 16 tracks on Heaven & Earth. The music was composed, written and arranged by Washington, with new arrangements of jazz and bebop legend Freddie Hubbard’s “Hubtones” and iconic kung fu film theme “Fists of Fury,” as well as one song by bandmate Ryan Porter. Thundercat, Terrace Martin, Ronald Bruner, Jr., Cameron Graves, Brandon Coleman, Miles Mosley, Patrice Quinn, Tony Austin and many more contribute to the album.

Clocking in at two and a half colossal hours of music, "Heaven & Earth" is available on double deluxe CD and a four piece vinyl housed in bespoke double gatefold sleeve

“The world that my mind lives in, lives in my mind.” This idea inspired me to make this album Heaven & Earth. The reality we experience is a mere creation of our consciousness, but our consciousness creates this reality based on those very same experiences. We are simultaneously the creators of our personal universe and creations of our personal universe. The Earth side of this album represents the world as I see it outwardly, the world that I am a part of. The Heaven side of this album represents the world as I see it inwardly, the world that is a part of me. Who I am and the choices I make lie somewhere in between.”
Kamasi Washington

STAFF COMMENTS

Patrick says: The man responsible for turning a younger generation of music lovers onto the passion and power of jazz returns with the bombastic brilliance of his sophomore LP. Seriously spiritual and surprisingly groovy, "Heaven & Earth" incorporates Marvin-esque soul, Old Testament intensity and soaring, searing solos into a breathtaking vision of jazz's next incarnation.

FORMAT INFORMATION

4xLP Info: Four LP set housed in bespoke double gatefold sleeve.

2xCD Info: Double deluxe CD.

46 - Fatima

And Yet It's All Love

It's been four years since Eglo Records' Fatima released 2014's Blue Note-approved, critically acclaimed debut Yellow Memories. This September, the London- via -Stockholm, Sweden songstress, returns with her second album, And Yet It's All Love — an emotional, yet entertaining trip through the full cycle of a romantic relationship, told in Fatima's now-familiar soulful style.
From first singles "Somebody Else" and "Caught In A Lie" to "Waltz" and "Just To Hold You" — listeners are transported from first meet, the blinding honeymoon period and struggle right through to the break-up and eventual fallout. Once again, she calls on a talented array of producers and instrumentalists to paint that picture; from Stones Throw's MNDSGN, J.D Reid (Mabel, D Double E), Purist (Daupe), Taz Arnold (Kendrick Lamar), Swarvy and regular collaborator, Natureboy Flako.

For the uninitiated, Fatima, has earned a reputation as one of the UK's most respected vocalists. Her debut LP Yellow Memories featured heavyweight collaborations with Floating Points, Theo Parrish and Anderson Paak producer Knxwledge. It was met with critical acclaim winning Gilles Peterson's 'Album Of The Year' at the 2014 Worldwide Awards as well as ranking No.10 in Rolling Stone Magazine's Top 20 R&B albums of the year before being re-released by the legendary Blue Note records.

STAFF COMMENTS

Millie says: Fatima has been quiet for four years, until now. ‘And Yet It’s All Love’ is her usual soulful style but shown in an array of emotions, from some sassy hip hop to heavenly heartfelt vocals, my personal favourites are ‘Only’ and ‘So Rite’. So so good.

Los Angeles has often been described as a “dream factory”--both a mecca where dreamers converge to pursue long-held aspirations, and a topography of hallucinogenic contradictions: enchanting tangerine sunsets diffused by smog, crystal-clutching spiritualists mingling with deep-pocketed narcissists, rows of scenic palms competing with garish billboards for commuters’ attention. It was against this backdrop that the four members of La Luz--singer/guitarist Shana Cleveland, drummer Marian Li Pino, keyboardist Alice Sandahl, and bassist Lena Simon—conceived of Floating Features, the band’s third studio album. For this, their most ambitious release yet, La Luz consulted landscapes both physical and psychological. References to dreams abound on Floating Features. “Loose Teeth” catalyzes nightmare fuel into a propulsive, intentionally-disorienting collision of honeyed harmonies and Takeshi Terauchi-esque jet-streams of distorted surf guitar. “Mean Dream” unsurprisingly mines dreamstate imagery, and the lyrics and melody for “Walking Into the Sun” actually came to Cleveland During a particularly-vivid night of deep sleep. Looming over the album’s Coterie of surreal figures (gargantuan cicadas, a monstrous “Creature,” The Sun King, aliens, the titular “Lonely Dozer”) is the magnificent “Greed Machine,” a skulking, insatiable engine of consumption-Nathanael West’s “business of dreams” fearsomely manifested. Only La Luz could conjure up Floating Features’ Leone-on-LSD vibes, and the album finds the L.A. band at the height of their powers--golden rebels in a golden dream.

STAFF COMMENTS

Barry says: Like the least acid-addled moments of Jefferson Airplane / Starship mixed with the bright psychedelic warmth of Morgan Delt, La Luz provide a heady and immersive journey into the underbelly of 70's LA. Open your mind, and enjoy the ride.

FORMAT INFORMATION

Coloured LP Info: Indies only gold vinyl.

Whether re-defining experimental fusion sounds with the hugley acclaimed Yussef Kamaal, or his catalogue of 12”s for imprints such as MCDE, Eglo, and Rhythm Section as Henry Wu, South London’s Kamaal Williams has been a key figure in his thriving international scene for the past few years. "The Return" is a natural evolution from the Yussef Kamaal project, mining the influence of visionary jazz but blended with all kinds of texture, sounds and signals from the over-saturated London streets.

At times the keyboard work evokes the classic 70s fusion work of Lonnie Liston Smith or Roy Ayers, but underpinned by rhythms more reminiscent of blunted hip-hop and arrangements subliminally laced with the cut-ups of pirate radio. Progressive, funky, cosmic, exploratory and effortlessly musical, this is the sound of a musician honing their craft into thrilling new shapes.

In the US the like of Kamasi Washington and Thundercat have made great strides in opening a whole new dialogue between jazz and hip-hop, drawing in a young, highly engaged new audience in the process. Kamaal Williams mine a similar seam on the other side of the Atlantic alongside other exciting London talents such as Ezra Collective, Ruby Rushton and Shabaka Hutchings.

The Return is exactly that: a return and refinement to the sound Yussef Kamaal were progenitors of, and first set the scene for one of the most exciting musical movements London has had in years.

Notable tracks for old and new listeners are ‘Slow', 'Situations', 'Medina', 'London Shuffle' which features Mansur Brown (of Mansur's Message) and for those die hard Yussef Kamaal fans - they should hear the interpolated roots of 'Strings of Light' in the title track 'The Return’. And that signature Wu Funk can be heard on Broken Theme, and High Roller.

"The Return" will be the debut album released on Wu's new label Black Focus Records.


STAFF COMMENTS

Millie says: Brilliantly funked-up jazz grooves, rolling bass licks and flickering percussion make this not only a fitting follow-up to Williams' collaboration LP from last year, but a significant progression. Simply stunning, and every bit the summer jazz stormer.

FORMAT INFORMATION

Coloured LP Info: Limited edition indies exclusive white vinyl.

49 - Christine And The Queens

Chris - 2CD Edition (English And French Versions)

Christine and The Queens announces her eagerly anticipated second album. Titled Chris, the record will be released by Because Music in digital and physical formats, including double CD and vinyl versions, as well as limited edition boxset, There are two versions of the album; one sung exclusively in English and one sung exclusively in French.

Chris was written, arranged and performed by Christine and the Queens. It is the follow up to her already-iconic debut record Chaleur Humaine, released to near-universal acclaim in France in 2014 and the UK in 2016, and selling more than 1.3 million copies to date.

STAFF COMMENTS

Barry says: Christine and the Queens return after their lauded 2014 outing, 'Chaleur Humaine' with their newest, sensual slice of shimmering synth-pop and smoothly delivered percussive vox. Brilliantly reminiscent, harking back to the days of Linn drums and gated reverb, but handled with a bang-up-to-date production sensibility and knowing nod to the classics of yesteryear.

FORMAT INFORMATION

2xCD Info: 2CD in 3-panel softpack, 28-page stapled booklet.

One thing The Vryll Society aren’t short of is admirers, Lauded at just about every turn by press and public alike, the release of their debut LP for Deltasonic Records is hotly anticipated thanks to the promise this band have shown through their live sets and recent single releases.

Discovered and nurtured by the late and much missed Deltasonic founder Alan Wills, they fitted the type for him perfectly. He instantly saw in them similar attributes he’d previously found in the early days of The Coral and The Zutons. The confident swagger, the solid union formed by their band-of-brothers gang mentality, their willingness to stand outside the conventional and often stifling jangly Liverpool scene, and the work ethic. Always the work ethic.

Wills instilled in The Vryll Society something which has become over the ensuing years a key element of what they are, what they’ve become, and of the music they produce. He gave them belief. A belief that hard work and determination will bring them to the place they wanted to reach.

“Alan taught us that all you need to conquer the world is a rehearsal room, your instruments, a good work ethic and a positive attitude and you’ll get there. He kind of taught us the rules and the attributes that you need to have to be successful so we’ve just continued on that path” says frontman Mike Ellis.

Ellis has stated that it was that attitude and that work ethic which got them through the subsequent tragic loss of their friend and manager in 2014, driving them forward through those times, propelling them to harder work, and bonding them even closer together as a unit.

That unit have spent the intervening time creating and honing their own brand new-psych sound, and building up a fanbase with their superlative live shows. Drawing from an eclectic palette of influence from deep funk to Krautrock, electronica and prog, they’ve created a heady, intoxicating, pin sharp, and tightly wound mellifluous groove, washed over with cyclical motifs, acres of effects laden guitar hooks, and shimmering, textural technicolour soundscapes. It is at once blissful, dizzying and madly infectious. It’s that eclecticism, that kaleidoscopic swirl of influences which brings together hip hop flavours, with the prog stylings of names such as Aphrodite’s Child and The Verve - pre Urban Hymns - when the drugs were still working. The dynamic leaps and folds through all these influences is where you find The Vryll Society’s own brand perfect pop. Its all there in the loops, in the hooks, the drive and the vibe of this unique band. But this isn’t frippery, these aren't throwaway cheap thrills for our disposable times. No, this is heavier. This is music too feed your head.

Live too, The Vryll Society are a formidable force. That gang mentality binds them together over the ideas formed by spending long hours together in the rehearsal every day. Hotwiring these ideas into the heads of the crowd through extended psych jams and deep solid grooves gives a different show every time, and with each and every set, the offer gets better. Recent travels have seen them take SXSW 2017 by storm as guests of BBC Introducing as well as major festivals such as Glastonbury and Leeds/Reading.

The songs that fill the delicious grooves of Course Of The Satellite weren’t so much written as devised or developed, brought together organically over months in the band’s underground lair, or over weeks in Liverpool’s Parr Street Studios. Working closely with producers, Wills’ right hand man and Deltasonic brother-in-arms Joe Fearon and Tom Longworth, the album took shape organically, biding its time and finding its way. The result is a work of impressive confidence and stature. It’s a record that believes in itself, and for all the right reasons. This is an effortlessly cool album, the sort of record that makes friends easily. The world is ready, willing and more than able to take The Vryll Society even deeper to their heart. The path Alan Wills showed them awaits. It’s a path that leads to greatness.

STAFF COMMENTS

Andy says: Blissed-out early-Verve vibes topped with nifty psych-pop melodies make this a pretty impressive debut album. Ones to watch!

FORMAT INFORMATION

Coloured LP Info: Transparent red vinyl.

Recorded with his band in Manchester at Marr’s Crazy Face studios, ‘Call The Comet’ is the third solo record from the Smiths guitarist and follows 2013’s critically acclaimed The Messenger and 2014’s Playland; both of which made the UK top 10. “Call The Comet is set in the not-too-distant future” says Marr, “and is mostly concerned with the idea of an alternative society. It’s my own magic realism.” Songs include Actor Attractor, Walk Into The Sea, Bug, and recent live favourite Spiral Cities. “The characters in the songs are searching for a new idealism, although there are some personal songs in there too. It’s something that people like me can relate to.” Says Marr.

STAFF COMMENTS

Andy says: Easily his best solo album.

Barry says: Johnny Marr brings his most accomplished and forward-thinking album to date, brimming with cleverly penned lyricism, addictive hooks and his uncompromisingly immersive songwriting style. A stunning continuation of form, and a future classic.

FORMAT INFORMATION

Coloured LP Info: Limited purple coloured vinyl.

Coloured LP includes MP3 Download Code.

Northern psychedelic punks The Lovely Eggs return with a mind-melting new album. The Lovely Eggs are one of the most unique, innovative and genuine bands on the British Underground music scene. Heavier and more in-your-face than anything they’ve done previously, Holly Ross (guitar/vocals) and David Blackwell (drums) bring together a fierce DIY ethos, surreal sense of humour and kitchen-sink realism. Working with a producer for the very first time, Dave Fridmann (Mercury Rev, The Flaming Lips) lends his magic dust to bring out the best of The Lovely Eggs’ explosive blend of motoric krautrock, 60s psychedelia and punk rock attitude.

They create their own world and invite us to join them in Eggland. The album title is a cheeky nod to Shane Meadows’ series, This Is England. It is a comment on the current state of modern Britain. The album is about being an outsider and doing things differently, eschewing society’s conventions as they have done. Since having their son in 2013, the pair have taken him on tour with them, racing round the UK with 2 fingers up to conventional family life firmly out of the window. They have also remained in their hometown of Lancaster, despite its cultural and geographical isolation. As Holly explains; “On this album we're saying it's OK to live life differently, we're doing it and you can do it too! “Living up here in Lancaster is kind of mad. It's a bit like the Twin Peaks of Great Britain.” The town has a rich history of the witchcraft, notoriously it was where the Pendle witches were hanged”.

For the first time ever, the pair worked with a producer on the new album, welcoming in legendary Grammy award winning engineer Dave Fridmann to their world. “We received an email from Dave Fridmann. He had got our answerphone message, listened to our stuff and wanted to work with us. It was just totally bizarre!” The album was self-recorded at Lancaster Musician's Co-op and the Eggs’ own house. Dave Fridmann then produced it remotely. They then went out to Dave's Studio in New York State, for mixing. The result is a gratifyingly rich sounding record, which still retains the raw energy of the band’s sound but harnesses a real power and dynamism. It’s much heavier than anything they’ve done before. As Holly says: “It's pretty relentless. It kind of sounds like a chip shop on fire. We still write about everyday life and the stuff that goes on in our world, it's just the new album is more fierce”. The Lovely Eggs have been nudging towards a heavier sound with their previous album This Is Our Nowhere, which was praised by the NME, who called them; “One of the country's most beloved underground bands.” Having formed in Paris in 2006, they named themselves after a pigeon laid two eggs on an abandoned nest on the windowsill.

STAFF COMMENTS

Barry says: Arguably eggs, but undeniably lovely. It's no secret that I really like the Lovely Eggs, but have found my inner appreciation of perfect production has (ridiculously) hampered my enjoyment of this impeccable duo. I can stop being ludicrous now anyway, because 'This Is Eggland' sounds amazing, and every bit as real as their entire, superb canon.

FORMAT INFORMATION

LP Info: Orange coloured vinyl.

LP includes MP3 Download Code.

Five years after his critically acclaimed debut Drone Logic, London-based producer Daniel Avery announces his highly anticipated second album Song For Alpha, set for release on March 9th 2018 through Phantasy. The album is preceded on January 19th by a 4-track limited edition 12” vinyl EP titled Slow Fade.

The new long player, on which the track ‘Slow Fade’ will appear, follows 2013’s incendiary debut Drone Logic. Upon its release the latter was called “A mesmerising debut" by Mixmag, “Exceptional” by the Times and "A benchmark for so many other dance albums to aspire to" by Dummy, while Pitchfork proclaimed “Avery owns this space.” “Underground dance music with this sort of ambition hasn’t been heard in quite a while", noted Resident Advisor, and Q hailed  "The arrival of a new left­field dance superstar."

In the years since, Avery has helmed a DJ-Kicks mix CD, resided over a monthly radio show for NTS Live, curated an extensive remix compilation and collaborated on a series of side-projects including a recent collaboration with Nine Inch Nails synth specialist Alessandro Cortini; he has toured relentlessly, cementing a reputation as one of the defining techno DJs of the decade. He has also worked studiously on what he wanted to say next as a producer. 

With newfound energy and time to develop, Avery’s sonic vocabulary has expanded. Here, the booming sound of the big room is brilliantly countered by the music of the small hours. Where celestial ambient lullabies ‘First Light’ and ‘Days From Now’ sit perfectly next to the mesmeric techno assault of ‘Diminuendo’ and ‘Sensation’; where both ‘Projector’ and ‘Clear’ evoke early rave records, only ones engulfed by waves of beautiful cyclonic distortion. William Basinski, Warp’s Artificial Intelligence, Brian Eno plus his own excursions with Alessandro Cortini all serve as touchstones for a record that sees Avery take his signature psychedelic-electronic sound to new dimensions, a sound that plays to the head as much as the body.


STAFF COMMENTS

Barry says: Delicately presented electroacoustic compositions, supported with a finely honed backbone of melodic suggestion and hypnotic rhythmic pulse, Avery once again proves he is one of the masters of his craft.

FORMAT INFORMATION

2xLP Info: Double 180 gram vinyl.

2xLP includes MP3 Download Code.

This Hampshire & Foat project should not come as too much of a surprise to those familiar with Greg & Warren's music, influenced heavily by not just Jazz but the library sound of the 60s and 70s along with film soundtracks from the same golden era. Greg& Warren are avid collectors of this music, Greg sends me links night and day to LPs he has picked up digging on his travels. This constant search sends him down new musical pathways and often sparks a whole new concept for projects. Warren and Greg are both fiercely creative talented individuals which means we have to keep them working, a challenge for us all, but the music rewards the effort many times over. Side one is five tracks in very distinct styles, musical paintings for the big screen. The vast sound of the Japanese influenced Jasmine, The Spaghetti Western melancholy of Mariposa Lily, the call to action that is Antonio's Theme, The Breezy Vintage sports car in the sun that Coastal Drivepaints, and Lost in Nostalgia, a late night Poirotesk piece.

STAFF COMMENTS

Matt says: If "The Honeybear" saw the band languidly exploring an enchanted woodland by day, then "Night Shade" encapsulates the magic of said woodland at night; full of beguiling spirits and esoteric wanderings...

Millie says: Hampshire & Foat have yet again created a captivating album, this one is clearly packed with things that have influenced that and the result is a beautiful mix of ambient and folk.

It's been a hell of a recent past for John Grant, who, aside from getting the unquestionable delight of getting to see our faces every time he comes to Manchester (and us, his), has produced a superb album with Stephen Mallinder of Cab Voltaire and Wrangler fame under their collaborative moniker, 'Creep Show', and a string of live dates in the diary. All of this while recording his oft-teased new LP, 'Love Is Magic'. 

'Metamorphosis' kicks things off, bringing together stabbing saw-waves and Grant's unmistakeable vocal acrobatics, tumbling atop off-piste melodic turns and new-beat percussives, setting a brilliantly warped precident before what may well be Grant's finest work to date in the stunning titular piece, 'Love Is Magic'. Treading familiar minor-key ground, we get a solemn but hopeful progression played out by stabbing synth lines and huge gated snare hits, covering all the sonic space necessary while keeping the mess down to a minimum and allowing John's voice to really shine before launching into the mindblowingly beautiful chorus (the vocal harmonies, attributed to Paul Denton of Midlake have an ethereal and dynamic momentum that is unmistakeable) and staggered but determined forward-thrust. 

I could keep running through the tracks, but some of our readership would doubtless give up or expire before i'd finished blathering on, so i'll keep it to a few key points. 'Smug Cunt' while clearly filled with the wry venom we've come to know and love from Grant is an unimaginably deep cascade of dytopian synth pulses and resonant bass,  launching into a spine-tinglingly effective culmination of gloom and euphoria. 'He's Got His Mothers Hips' brings the camp disco vibes spectacularly, with a truncated snappy analogue bassline swirling around beneath the syncopated vox before exploding into a major key serotonin release in the hand-waving chorus. 

Move on a little and the spoken-word commentary of 'Diet Gum' takes an admittedly hilarious step into the leftfield, perfectly illustrating JG's clever tongue-in-cheek sense of humour 'Did you really think you could seduce me in a leisure suit?... well.... fair enough' and captivating presence before bringing it back to the sublime with the tear-inducing majesty of 'Is He Strange'. Stunning piano and vocal harmonies meet together into the perfect storm of majesty and misery. The closing duo of 'The Common Snipe' and 'Touch And Go' are once again perfectly matched, with the minimalistic backline and flickering sample and hold synth lines peaking lightly behind the former, and the anthemic, rolling stagger of the latter closing off a stunning and career-defining collection. It's a testament to Grant's sphere of influence and ability as a songwriter and producer that so many influences can be absorbed into his sound without sounding forced or disjointed. A brilliantly melodic, heart-warmingly anomalous wonder.  

STAFF COMMENTS

Barry says: Once again, John Grant pulls out a diverse range of influences (we've seen what records he buys!) into a cohesive and superb combination of off-piste vocal timbres, mind-melting synths and spine-tingling melodies. Punctuated with moments of introspective melancholy but quickly resolved into a warm bath of huge rock progressions and gritty synth swirls. Absolutely brilliant, and undoubtedly the best work of his career.

FORMAT INFORMATION

2xColoured LP Info: This deluxe version is 140g clear vinyl. Includes 16 page 'Hymn Booklet' containing lyrics along with a 24 page photo booklet which includes photos taken by John Grant.

2xLP Info: 140g black vinyl. Includes 16 page 'Hymn Booklet' containing lyrics.

On Sons of Kemet’s third studio album, and first under the impulse! label, Shabaka Hutchings and his band incorporate sounds of global jazz all while keeping a consistent and pulsing groove throughout the record. Shabaka Hutchings is a saxophonist, composer, and band leader based in the UK. He is the newest signing to the impulse! label, and he is in three prominent jazz outfits – Sons of Kemet, Shabaka & The Ancestors, and The Comet Is Coming. Sons of Kemet is the iconoclastic mix of tenor sax, tuba and double drums.

On this third studio album, they bring a genre defying approach that celebrates the restless exploration of identity within the Caribbean diaspora within the U.K. Your Queen is a Reptile was recorded in London with a host of guests spanning the breadth of the U.K. scene including jungle legend Congo Natty and poet Joshua Idehen. Sonically, this album stretches from New Orleans to the Caribbean to London to the Middle East. With the instrumentation of tuba, drums and sax, it has a second-line quality that marches into the Caribbean diaspora. There is spoken word, rap, and elements of dub, further emphasizing jazz’s place in today’s hip-hop world.

STAFF COMMENTS

Patrick says: Now on Impulse! Shabaka Hutchings' ensemble celebrate the U.K.'s Caribbean diaspora with a genre blending fusion of jazz, hip hop and dub perfectly timed for the Windrush anniversary.

FORMAT INFORMATION

2xLtd LP includes MP3 Download Code.

It’s a familiar story: fledgling singer does soul-sucking day job in order to fund their real passion during the nocturnal hours. Except Mattiel Brown, Atlanta’s rising star, is a rare exception to this time-honoured tradition: a fulfilled creative by day and night, albeit in different contexts. “It’s like I have two full-time jobs: designer and musician,” she says, humbly hip to her good fortune.

During office hours, Brown works as an ad designer and illustrator at MailChimp, a position she’s enjoyed for four years. “I work with a great video production team, in a great studio. Luckily, they’re a company that encourage side gigs.” Out of office hours, Brown swaps the design studio for the stage, a softly-spoken, chilled-out design nerd turned rock & roll belter, performing bold, vintage soul as Mattiel (pronounced ‘maa-TEEL’).

Brown grew up on a five-acre farm in rural Brooks, Georgia, the only child of a Detroit native. “My mom bought the farm in the early ‘90s. She had – still has – horses, so I learned to ride western-style when I was 6, 7 years-old,” (a skill Brown nods to in her cover art). “We had a vegetable garden and chickens. My mom would sell sheep’s wool and eggs. Before that, she’d been a professional set decorator working on films. She’s a really driven, creative person. I definitely inherited my work ethic from her.”

As an adolescent, Brown delighted in the ‘60s folk and pop of her mother’s limited vinyl collection: Donovan, Peter Paul and Mary, and Joan Baez. As an adult, relocated in neighbouring Atlanta, she’d sing along to the radio on the long drives to work: Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Andre 3000, Dylan, Marc Bolan, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, and Jack White.

When Brown first began jamming with InCrowd, the Atlanta-based song-writing and production team behind her dynamite eponymous debut, she had no real designs on making a whole album and no game plan beyond the fun of “creating something out of nothing.” She said, “That process is always pretty astounding to me, and doing it with other people is even better.” But her producers, Randy Michael and Jonah Swilley, knew a good thing when they heard it: Brown and InCrowd had chemistry.

InCrowd’s founders, both skilled multi-instrumentalists, met in 2014, as session musicians touring with soul man Curtis Harding. Michael – an experienced player who’d co-written with Harding and racked up impressive session spots with the likes of Bruno Mars, and The Next Day-era Bowie – played guitar, while Swilley ¬(producer, writer and performer since age 9 and younger brother of Black Lips bassist Jared) played drums. On the road, they bonded over a mutual love of vintage R&R and ‘90s rap. “We discovered we both loved The Beatles as much as Jay-Z, Dylan as much as the Arctic Monkeys,” remembers Swilley. Back in Atlanta, once the Harding tour had wrapped, the pair formed a band, Black Linen, writing reverb-washed guitar music inspired by Tarantino soundtracks, by way of ‘60s Cambodian psych. Brown knew Michael from his days in The Booze, a popular local act who’d tour with OK Go before their demise. She’d kept track of him, aware that they shared a musical kinship. “[Randy] was the only person I knew who was into the music I was into.” When she reached out, asking to cut a Donovon cover record at Michael’s garage-turned-studio, Toco Electric, he was dubious. “I thought she'd have this little, whispery voice, you know? But she blew me away! She sounded like ‘60s-era Cher doing Dylan or something. I just knew she’d be perfect for the Black Linen stuff.” “We knew immediately that we wanted to work with her,” Swilley concurs. By then, around 2014, InCrowd were deep on a ’50s Leiber and Stoller bend, says Michael: “The Coasters, The Drifters, all that good stuff.” Bored with Atlanta’s “ultra cool” enclaves, they’d built their own scene, says Michael. They’d put on and promote reviews-style gigs, a 12-man strong house band (“our very own Wrecking Crew”) backing various InCrowd vocalists. “We were just making it happen, doing it ourselves.”

In the studio, Michael cut InCrowd records live, no overdubs, feeding everything through a rare analogue Peavey soundboard. “That’s how InCrowd rolls. What you hear on our records is everyone playing and singing together, in the same room, at the same time. We cut it right there, as it happens, and its either magic or its not.”

Mattiel’s process was just so: InCrowd supplied the instrumental compositions – raucous, swinging medleys frilled with organs and brass – while Brown provided vocals and lyrics, the latter often written freestyle, in situ. “That’s where the parallels between music and design really happen,” says Brown. “Your limitations – time, space, expense – push you to be as creative as you can with what you have.”

The resulting collection of songs is a dynamite salvo of retro-inspired rock & soul, from the gun-slinging stomp of “Whites Of Their Eyes,” to the string-laden self-affirmation of “Count Your Blessings,” penned by Brown after a spate of the blues brought on by a period of ill health. “Its a song I wrote for myself to myself, like 'you’re gonna get through this, you’re gonna be okay.'”

Mattiel’s sound might borrow from the past, but their art direction – Brown’s inspiring handiwork, of course – is decidedly forward-thinking, all colour block aesthetics (á la the White Stripes) and artful, design-savvy music videos. “I don’t wanna hit people over the head with like, bell bottoms and long hair and a Jimmy Hendrix outfit,” Brown laughs. “People have seen all that before.”

Mattiel is a “fresh mesh of retro and contemporary,” says Swilley, the latter thanks in large part to Brown’s vision, voice and on-stage energy. “She's very exciting to watch. She doesn't rehearse it or try to emulate anyone; she's just doing own her thing. And she's not fazed by the crowds [as evidenced during their shows to date: a recent, three-date support slot for Portugal The Man]. It’s kind of incredible really, because in person she's pretty chilled and softly spoken, but when she gets on stage...in the last six months, she's really been killing it.”

With a European festival circuit tour scheduled for this summer, Mattiel is no longer Atlanta’s best kept secret. Look out, world.

STAFF COMMENTS

Andy says: This ace debut is an explosion of 60's....ooh: EVERYTHING! Classic, warm, garage riffing, soully melodies but with a huskily honeyed folky voice. And the songwriting is superb!

FORMAT INFORMATION

Coloured LP Info: Crystal coloured vinyl. Comes with download that includes bonus tracks.

Coloured LP includes MP3 Download Code.

Narrowing down Mildlife's style into a genre is almost impossible, as they bond over the desire to push musical boundaries. No strangers to the Melbourne band scene, the four old friends have been drawing crowds through an epic journey at intimate venues and festivals for the best part of the past 4 years. Developing a tight live show bolstered by wild improvisation, the group have left punters itching for their first full length studio album "Phase" that mines jazz, psych and disco for its irresistible groove.
Capturing the spirit of the band, the 6 track debut LP of kaleidoscope jams is the interplanetary path between jazz, funk and disco with the perfect amalgamation of cosmic electronics and soulful acoustic instrumentation.

"A melting pot of musical sensations, the group combine progressive 1970s sounds with electronic krautrock, backed by a mixture of rhythmic funk, house, and dream-pop, to create an addictive atmosphere that's illustrated perfectly by their first single 'The Magnificent Moon'. An introduction to their highly anticipated debut LP due out early next year on Research Records, the nine minute masterpiece is a colossal adventure throughout the group's psyche." - Dummy Mag

STAFF COMMENTS

Patrick says: Finally available to the international market after that DIY Aussie release came and went, "Phase" is worth any kind of wait. The work of Melbourne jazz funk ensemble Mildlife, the album offer spacey krautrock solos, driving disco rhythms and warm vocal melodies in the Kings Of Convenience tradition. Currently causing a stir amongst fans of jazz, indie, Balearic and pretty much anyone who enjoys good things.

59 - Natalie Prass

The Future And The Past

Natalie Prass had her new album written, her band ready, the recording studio booked. Then the 2016 election happened, and out of her despair and disappointment in those results came an impulse she could not ignore: she rewrote the album to reflect these swirling emotions. The result is ‘The Future and The Past’ a stunning snapshot of a musician in a state of personal rediscovery and surging femininity. The celebratory and defiant ‘The Future and The Past’ also signals a significant artistic leap for Prass on the heels of her 2015 breakthrough debut album. It finds Prass tapping into deep, dancey grooves that glisten with 80s pop and 90s R&B, nestled alongside quivering, lushly orchestrated ballads.

Like her debut album, Prass made ‘The Future and The Past’ in Richmond, VA with long-time friend and collaborator Matthew E. White at his Spacebomb Studios. She added some new collaborations to the mix as well: Blue (Solange’s ‘A Seat At The Table,’ Blood Orange, Carly Rae Jepsen) and Michael Brauer (Elle King and James Bay). ‘Future’ is ripe with string orchestrations and piano flourishes, snaking synth lines and fuzzed out guitars.

‘The Future And The Past’ is bursting with a myriad of grooves and Natalie’s vocals float on top, light as a feather and tough as nails. “Short Court Style” dials the tempo into 90s R&B territory – punctuated by handclaps, sampled “woos,” and a Dr. Dre-esque whistling synth line. Lyrically she wields a sharp knife as well. The love torn “Lost” begins with: “Turn up the fader, its like a lightning bolt / we can’t be saved, so now I’m listening on my own / Once there was a time when you had me hypnotized / you realized that your finger prints were on my bones.” Funky feminist anthem “Sisters” is an empowering rallying cry: “I want to say it loud / for all the ones held down / we gotta change the plan.”

STAFF COMMENTS

Barry says: A brilliantly smooth set of low-key soul, funky synth-pop and swooning groove-led summer anthems. Prass' perfectly emotive vox offset the choppy funk with aplomb, accentuating the groove and leading us through her latest opus. Superb.

FORMAT INFORMATION

Coloured LP Info: Limited edition rust coloured vinyl.

60 - Toshio Matsuura Group

Loveplaydance - 8 Scenes From The Floor

On ‘LOVEPLAYDANCE’, legendary Tokyo DJ and producer Toshio Matsuura charts a new direction. Casting musical cornerstones in a fresh light, the Toshio Matsuura Group features Tom Skinner (drummer for Sons of Kemet and Owiny Sigoma Band amongst others) as its musical director, as well as some of the UK’s most exciting jazz-influenced musicians. Drawing on years of surveying and curating different corners of music, Matsuura deftly combines this talented pool of players into one singular, wide-ranging album.

A co-founder of Japan’s United Future Organisation (aka U.F.O.), this new record sees Matsuura reconnect with longstanding friend and collaborator Gilles Peterson. Releasing the album via Brownswood Recordings in the UK, it’s a continuation of a relationship which started as a bridge between London’s then-blossoming jazz scene and Tokyo’s new musical vanguard of the early ‘90s. This album continues that two-way dialogue between Japan and the UK.

The project is focused on covers, putting classic or influential tracks in a new context, spanning a cross-section of Matsuura’s taste. On ‘Black Gold of the Sun’, Cuban vocalist Daymé Arocena fronts a new take on the Rotary Connection classic, along with a band – guided by Tom Skinner – that features her prodigious Havana-based players. Elsewhere, Byron Morris and Unity’s ‘Kitty Bey’, a Dingwalls classic, is knocked into a tight, high energy new shape (by a band that includes Yussef Dayes, Yazz Ahmed and Nubya Garcia.)

The scope of the music reflects the breadth of Matsuura’s interests. It ranges from Bugges Wesseltoft’s Detroit-influenced, dancefloor-minded jazz, stretched out into a more meditative contemplation, to Flying Lotus’ LA-rooted, Brainfeeder beatmaking, translated from laptop-to-live, given a new, equally idiosyncratic lease of life. Elsewhere, Carl Craig’s iconic ‘At Les’ is taken in a looser direction, the overtones of euphoria cast in a different hue.

They’re touchpoints which hint at interests in the different, diffuse corners of electronic music, and how they connect to jazz and improvisation. Coming to this project from the perspective of a DJ, producer and curator, it’s an album that shows his grasp of the bigger picture. This album shows him finding the threads which connect those different scenes together, exploring a to-and-fro – between live, played instruments, and the possibilities found in laptops and samplers – which has long been a backdrop to music aimed at dancefloors.

STAFF COMMENTS

Millie says: Brownswood yet again producing the best jazz around, the twist of classic jazz presented in a contemporary way is fab! A favourite of mine has to be the Flying Lotus cover Do The Astral Plane!

"7 is our 7th full-length record. At its release, we will have been a band for over 13 years. We have now written and released a total of 77 songs together.

Last year, we released an album of b-sides and rarities. It felt like a good step for us. It helped us clean the creative closet, put the past to bed, and start anew.

Throughout the process of recording 7, our goal was rebirth and rejuvenation. We wanted to rethink old methods and shed some self-imposed limitations. In the past, we often limited our writing to parts that we could perform live. On 7, we decided to follow whatever came naturally. As a result, there are some songs with no guitar, and some without keyboard. There are songs with layers and production that we could never recreate live, and that is exciting to us. Basically, we let our creative moods, instead of instrumentation, dictate the album’s feel.

In the past, the economics of recording have dictated that we write for a year, go to the studio, and record the entire record as quickly as possible. We have always hated this because by the time the recording happens, a certain excitement about older songs has often been lost. This time, we built a "home" studio, and began all of the songs there. Whenever we had a group of 3-4 songs that we were excited about, we would go to a “proper” recording studio and finish recording them there. This way, the amount of time between the original idea and the finished song was pretty short (of the album’s 11 songs, 8 were finished at Carriage House in Stamford, CT and 2 at Palmetto Studio in Los Angeles).

7 didn’t have a producer in the traditional sense. We much preferred this, as it felt like the ideas drove the creativity, not any one person’s process. James Barone, who became our live drummer in 2016, played on the entire record. His tastes and the trust we have in him really helped us keep rhythm at the center of a lot of these songs. We also worked with Sonic Boom (Peter Kember). Peter became a great force on this record, in the shedding of conventions and in helping to keep the songs alive, fresh and protected from the destructive forces of recording studio over-production/over-perfection.

The societal insanity of 2016-17 was also deeply influential, as it must be for most artists these days. Looking back, there is quite a bit of chaos happening in these songs, and a pervasive dark field that we had little control over. The discussions surrounding women’s issues were a constant source of inspiration and questioning. The energy, lyrics and moods of much of this record grew from ruminations on the roles, pressures and conditions that our society places on women, past and present. The twisted double edge of glamour, with its perils and perfect moments, was an endless source (see “L’Inconnue,” “Drunk in LA,” “Woo,” “Girl of the Year,” “Last Ride”).

In a more general sense, we are interested by the human mind's (and nature’s) tendency to create forces equal and opposite to those present. Thematically, this record often deals with the beauty that arises in dealing with darkness; the empathy and love that grows from collective trauma; the place one reaches when they accept rather than deny (see “Dark Spring,” “Pay No Mind,” “Lemon Glow,” “Dive,” “Black Car,” “Lose Your Smile”).

The title, 7, itself is simply a number that represents our seventh record. We hoped its simplicity would encourage people to look inside. No title using words that we could find felt like an appropriate summation of the album.

The number 7 does represent some interesting connections in numerology. 1 and 7 have always shared a common look, so 7 feels like the perfect step in the sequence to act as a restart or “semi-first.” Most early religions also had a fascination with 7 as being the highest level of spirituality, as in "Seventh Heaven.” At our best creative moments, we felt we were channeling some kind of heavy truth, and we sincerely hope the listeners will feel that." 

Much Love,
Beach House


STAFF COMMENTS

Barry says: Another superb outing from Beach House, this time a slightly more cinematic affair, with huge ambient washes, swooning guitar and that unmistakable vocal style we've come to expect. A superb progression from the stunning Depression Cherry, and further evidence of Beach House's impeccable style and songwriting prowess.

“I was under a lot of stress because I was trying to make an anti-folk record and I was having trouble doing it. I wanted to make something deep-fried and more me-sounding. I didn’t want to be jammy acoustic guy anymore. I just wanted to make something weird and far-out that came from the heart finally. I was always trying to make something like this I guess, trying to catch up with my imagination. And I think I succeeded in that way — it’s got some weird instrumentation on there, and some surreal far-out words.

I’m lucky enough to have some people who are playing on it who had a big part in shaping the songs and writing with me. Cooper Crain, the guy who engineered it, and played all the synthesizers. And when the flute guy, Nate Lepine came in, that was really something that made it special. The producer was this guy LeRoy Bach. I love LeRoy, he’s a really talented guy. He did the last record too.

And it’s more Chicago-y sounding. Chicago sounds like a train constantly coming towards you but never arriving. That’s the sound I hear, all the time, ringing in my ears.” – Ryley Walker.

STAFF COMMENTS

Barry says: Narcotics enthusiast and all-round ledge Ryley takes us on his newest journey into the wilderness with 'Deafman Glance', with the same tender plucking acousticry we've come to know and love, but with the psychedelic element all the more pronounced. Brilliantly progressive and nuanced songwriting with Walker's imitable style.

FORMAT INFORMATION

Ltd LP includes MP3 Download Code.

Singer, pianist, writer, poet and creative being, Allysha Joy, is a key member of Melbourne collective, 30/70. Their growing success over the last two years has led her to further challenge her expression in a project of her own, pushing boundaries as a female keys player, poet, singer and producer. Whether performing solo on Fender Rhodes or accompanied by her band, Allysha's steady groove, husky vocal tone and unique style of writing emanates her own personal truth and illuminates a powerful feminine energy learning to be peaceful, giving and considerate of others.

Allysha grew up listening to jazz, soul, hip hop and RnB. Her sound is dynamic and raw, real and complex. "As a performer I look to people that present their genuine self on stage, reaching for something beyond the present moment, beyond themselves, being a vessel for something greater. I always try to take the audience on a journey".And as a song-writer Allysha draws from her own experiences and the empathy she feels for the world and its inhabitants. "I write as a way to process the emotion that consumes me in day to day life, otherwise I'd explode".


For Allysha, Acadie : Raw signifies a moment in time: "from beginning to completion of creating this music, it has been a chance to express a deeper, more personal side of self and to take full control of the vision and the music. This record has allowed me to dive deeply into my creative expression and is just the beginning". The album features members of 30/70, the collective born from the creative music scene in Melbourne: "I play both solo or with my 30/70 family, Henry Hicks, Ziggy Zeitgeist, Josh Kelly and Danika Smith. I feel super blessed to have met this crew, we've been playing together now for four years and for me this record is just another extension of the 30/70 collective, constantly unravelling and branching out".

It is the heartfelt mix of love and power, of desire and wonder, anger and faith and hope for change that underpins Acadie : Raw and marks Allysha Joy out as a future star telling her tales and spreading her wings to bring the joys of life to us all.



STAFF COMMENTS

Millie says: Brand new from the Gondwana label is Allysha Joy's Acadie: Raw, the album has a bold powerful presence and her style is refreshingly original, different to anything else out there right now. Her vocals are beautifully husky and you can feel the emotion weaved throughout the album. This is up there with the best jazz record of this year.

2017’s equal parts somnambulant and sultry Sleeprydr 7” was aptly described as “psychedelic rock that hits like a dream despite undoubtedly seeking to soundtrack nightmares” (-Stereogum). Thankfully, Slow Sundown, Holy Motors’ debut full length release, finds the Estonian dreamcatchers utilizing a similar sonic palette ranging from dark psychedelic pop to shoegaze-inflected western music. But while Sleeprydr, much like 2015’s Heavenly Creatures 7”, provided only a fleeting glimpse into the dreamscape that their music evokes, Slow Sundown’s eight tracks offer a more immersive experience for those brave enough to take the ride. While the guitar lines from lonely cowboy ballads like “Honeymooning” could easily serve as the central themes for unwritten Morriccone scores, dystopian anthems like the rhythmically propelled “Signs” break new ground for the band and demonstrate that Holy Motors are not bound by their influences. Thematically the album is comprised primarily of sad love songs centered around the idea of motion – the motion of a satellite orbiting a planet, the motion of a passenger riding shotgun in a car – as it relates to stellar-scale and existential isolation. Produced by Merchandise’s Carson Cox and recorded at Brooklyn’s Kutch1 Studios when the band was visiting the US on tourist visas, Slow Sundown is a beautiful alien artifact that definitively delivers on everything we have been promised by Holy Motors’ work to date.

STAFF COMMENTS

Mine says: I have not been as excited about a new band or record in a long time. While Holy Motors have certainly not reinvented the wheel they are brilliant at what they do, and that is making hazy, slightly psych-y music that is sure to put you in a melancholy mood. Haunting female vocals and shoegaze-y guitars make this album the perfect soundtrack for a night drive, but it sounds just as good from the comfort of your own couch. Promise!

FORMAT INFORMATION

Indies Exclusive LP Info: Available to independent retailers as a hand stamped and numbered deluxe LP format with poster.

In The Rainbow Rain' - produced by Sheff and mixed by Shawn Everett (Perfume Genius, Alabama Shakes, The War on Drugs) - serves as showcase for Sheff's writing and the musical interplay of his new band mates, Benjamin Lazar Davis (bass), Will Graefe (guitar), Sarah Pedinotti (keys) and Cully Symington (percussion) - the same iteration of Okkervil River that joined Sheff on the Away tour. Recalls Sheff of that tour: "It was my favorite touring experience in many years... I felt like a kid again. I realized how phenomenally lucky I am that I've been able to play music for this long."

Sheff and the band started work on the new album shortly after the end of that tour - and the presidential election. "If December 2016 was good for anything, it was good for writing songs," he says. Galvanized by the seismic events of that Fall and the following year, Sheff, sometimes co-writing with his new band, channeled his outrage and sadness into music intended to be hopeful, healing and uplifting. Inspired by the Quaker meetings he had been attending, Sheff injected the album with undercurrents of spirituality and gratitude. The result is something akin to a modern secular gospel record, and among the best music of his career.

Highlights include driving, melodic anthems "Love Somebody" and "Pulled Up The Ribbon," and "Famous Tracheotomies," which chronicles notable figures who've endured the titular procedure, including Gary Coleman, Dylan Thomas, Ray Davies, and Sheff himself. "In places, the record deals with heavy things like trauma and betrayal and shame, but, actually, it's supposed to be a good time," says Sheff. "I hope it's something fun, that makes people feel happier

STAFF COMMENTS

Andy says: With hints of smooth synthpop mixed in with the usual swooning indie anthems, Sheff has managed to sacrifice none of his original appeal whilst bringing in the considerable talents of his new bandmates, somehow simmering into a cohesive and enjoyable whole.

FORMAT INFORMATION

Coloured LP Info: Opaque blue/purple swirl marbled vinyl.

Ryan Lee West aka Rival Consoles presents his expressive new album ‘Persona’ via Erased Tapes. The title ‘Persona’ was inspired by Ingmar Bergman’s film of the same name, specifically a shot in the opening credits of a child reaching out to touch a woman’s face on a screen, which is shifting between one face and another. This powerful image struck Ryan and it inspired the album’s main theme — an exploration of the persona, the difference between how we see ourselves and how others see us, the spaces in between; between states, people, light and dark, the inner persona and the outer persona. “My music is generally inward looking. I like finding something about the self within music, that doesn't have to be specific but maybe asks something or reveals something. This record is a continuation on the self through electronic sounds. Like Legowelt once said ‘a synthesiser is like a translator for unknown emotions’, which I think sums up what I am trying to do. I think all these emotions we have make up our persona. So in a way by finding new ones you alter or expand your persona. And that is what I want my music to try to do. I deliberately aimed to be more sonically diverse with this record. I wanted to experiment more. I wanted to create new sounds and new emotions.” — Rival Consoles.

Recorded at his studio in south-east London, ‘Persona’ benefits from Ryan’s exploration of a dynamic production process that combines analogue-heavy synthesisers, acoustic and electric instruments with a shoegaze-level obsession with effect pedals. A greater depth of emotion and confidence can be heard across the album. From the deconstructed movements on ‘Unfolding’ that starts the album with a snap of delayed snares, the apocalyptic drones of the title track and thundering drums in ‘Phantom Grip’ to more restrained ambient feels of ‘Dreamer’s Wake’, ‘Rest’ and ‘Untravel’. The latter transverses six beatless minutes of undulating melodies representing “a limbo space, a feeling of ennui, of not really ever being known to others and others not ever really being known to you”.

‘Be Kind’ reveals a musical connection with fellow Erased Tapes artist Nils Frahm, with its minimal approach and improvisational nature. On the more complex sounding ‘I Think So’ Ryan aims to replicate a colour collage with sound. Like a musical kaleidoscope, a flashing and convoluted mass. Written after he saw Slowdive perform live last year, ‘Hidden’ builds from whispers to landscapes of controlled noise. In an interview with XLR8R magazine, Ryan explains: “once you start trying to make a sound loud, then you turn your back on thousands and thousands of sonic possibilities. One of the best things to do is to start a track with a really quiet, weak sound.” Taking this idea to its ultimate conclusion, ‘Fragment’ closes the album as an innocent sounding ambient piece, almost nursery rhyme like, yielding time for reflection on how the persona has changed.

‘Persona’ follows the success of a series of releases — the ‘Odyssey’ and ‘Sonne’ EPs, long player ‘Howl’, and 2016’s mini album ‘Night Melody’ — that saw Ryan mature into what Pitchfork has called a “forward-thinking electronic musician with his own ideas about sound”. Atypical of instrumental-electronic music, Ryan has achieved a signature sound that’s unmistakably identifiable as Rival Consoles. Going beyond typical electronic music production, Ryan defines it as “songwriting with an electronic palette of sounds”. The increasingly dynamic live audio-visual show, born from bespoke performances at the Tate and for Boiler Room at the V&A Museum featuring self-programmed visuals in Max/MSP, has propelled him to play around the world. Ryan launches ‘Persona’ at London’s XOYO on 12th April with further dates to be announced.

STAFF COMMENTS

Barry says: Like his 2015 opus 'Howl, 'Persona' treads the line between ambience and leftfield techno whilst staying resolutely listenable and thoroughly jaw-dropping. Less influenced by the interim EP's, and seemingly more focused on the spine-tingling crescentic electronica that West does SO well. Highly recommended.

FORMAT INFORMATION

2xColoured LP Info: Limited indies only clear vinyl.

Their first release since 2013’s ‘AM’ finds the band intent on continuing to explore new musical terrain with each album. ‘Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino’ ups the ante in a big way; it is a bold and brilliant album reflecting Turner’s ever more comprehensive creative vision. 

Produced by James Ford and Alex Turner, the album was recorded in Los Angeles, Paris and London. 

STAFF COMMENTS

Andy says: Wow! After their biggest hit yet and looming world domination, t'Monkeys swerve left, then up, out and onto the astral plane! This blows up their template in style, and opens new possibilities for this inspirational band.

FORMAT INFORMATION

Coloured LP Info: Transparent heavyweight vinyl LP, with gatefold sleeve and a 16 page expanded lyrics and photo booklet. Comes with album download card.

LP Info: Heavyweight vinyl LP with gatefold sleeve, 4 page booklet and album download card.

In creating Freedom, McMahon brought in a powerful set of collaborators and old friends. Along with core band members, including Parker Kindred (Antony & The Johnsons, Jeff Buckley) on drums, came Chris Coady (Beach House) as producer, and Delicate Steve on guitars. This is the first Amen Dunes record that looks back to the electronic influences of McMahon’s youth with the aid of revered underground musician Panoram from Rome, who finds his place as a significant, if subtle, contributor to the record. The bulk of the songs were recorded at Electric Lady in New York, and finished at Sunset Sound in Los Angeles, where McMahon, Nick Zinner, and session bass player Gus Seyffert (Beck, Bedouine) fleshed out the recordings.

On the surface, Freedom is a reflection on growing up, childhood friends who ended up in prison or worse, male identity, McMahon’s father, and his mother, who was diagnosed with terminal cancer at the beginning of recording. The characters that populate the musical world of the album are a colourful mix of reality and fantasy. Each character portrait is a representation of McMahon, of masculinity, and of his past.

Yet, if anything, these eleven songs are a relinquishing of all of them through exposition; a gradual reorientation of being away from the acquired definitions of self we all cling to and towards something closer to what's stated in the Agnes Martin quote that opens the record, “I don’t have any ideas myself; I have a vacant mind” and in the swirling, pitched down utterances of “That's all not me” that close it.

“Miki Dora was arguably the most gifted and innovative surfer of his generation and the foremost opponent of surfing’s commercialization. He was also a lifelong criminal and retrograde: a true embodiment of the distorted male psyche. He was a living contradiction; both a symbol of free-living and inspiration, and of the false heroics American culture has always celebrated. With lyrics of regret and redemption at the end of one’s youth, the song is about Dora, and McMahon, but ultimately it is a reflection on all manifestations of mythical heroic maleness and its illusions.” – Damon McMahon.


STAFF COMMENTS

Sil says: Incredibly good fifth album by Amen Dunes. Harrowing vocals, captivating melodies and an overall sense of romance, pain and honesty. This LP is an emotional journey that will not leave you untouched.

The Beths from New Zealand occupy a warm, energetic sonic space between joyful hooks, sun-soaked harmonies, and acerbic lyrics. Their debut album Future Me Hates Me, forthcoming on Carpark Records, delivers an astonishment of roadtrip-ready pleasures, each song hitting your ears with an exhilarating endorphin rush like the first time you heard The Breeders/Jale/Veruca Salt..

Front and center on these ten infectious tracks is lead singer and primary songwriter Elizabeth Stokes. Stokes has previously worked in other genres within Auckland’s rich and varied music scene, recently playing in a folk outfit, but it was in exploring the angst-ridden sounds of her youth that she found her place. “Fronting this kind of band was a new experience for me,” says Stokes. “I never thought I had the right voice for it.”

From the irresistible title track to future singles “Happy Unhappy” and “You Wouldn’t Like Me,” Stokes commands a vocal range that spans from the brash confidence of Joan Jett to the disarming vulnerability of Jenny Lewis. Further honeying Future Me Hates Me’s dark lyrics that explore complex topics like being newly alone and the self-defeating anticipation of impending regret, ecstatic vocal harmonies bubble up like in the greatest pop and R+B of the ‘60s, while inverting the trope of the “sad dude singer accompanied by a homogenous girl-sound.”

All four members of The Beths studied jazz at university, resulting in a toolkit of deft instrumental chops and tricked-out arrangements that operate on a level rarely found in guitar-pop. Beths guitarist and studio guru Jonathan Pearce (whose other acts as producer include recent Captured Tracks signing Wax Chattels) brings it all home with an approach that’s equal parts seasoned perfectionist and D.I.Y.

“There’s a lot of sad sincerity in the lyrics,” she continues, “that relies on the music having a light heart and sense of humor to keep it from being too earnest.” Channeling their stew of personal-canon heroes while drawing inspiration from contemporaries like Alvvays and Courtney Barnett, The Beths serve up deeply emotional lyrics packaged within heavenly sounds that delight in probing the limits of the pop form. “That’s another New Zealand thing,” Stokes concludes with a laugh. “We’re putting our hearts on our sleeves—and then apologizing for it.” The result is nothing less than one of the standout records of 2018.


STAFF COMMENTS

David says: The antipodean onslaught continues with New Zealand's The Beths. 'Future Me Hates Me' is the shortest, sharpest most bittersweet collection of three minute pop songs we've heard this year.

FORMAT INFORMATION

Coloured LP Info: Initial run pressed on tangy yellow vinyl. Includes a 12"x12" lyric sheet.

Coloured LP includes MP3 Download Code.

We humans weren't made for modernity; the rush of the rat race, the disconnect of social media, the prison industrial complex, spice zombies and Brexit. It's pretty confusing stuff right? Now I ain't no fancy pants medical doctor (like Drs Dre, Oetker and Rob) but I'd advise you take a little time to unwind your mind with the wonderful sounds of Calm. 

 For the uninitiated, Calm is the stage name of Japan's Fukagawa Kiyotaka, a legendary producer, musician and selector who's spent the last twenty years packing yearning, heart swelling emotion into his deep house, ambient and downtempo creations. His previous album, 2015's "From My Window" resonated deeply with Hell Yeah boss Marco, who reached out and found a kindred spirit. Over the course of a couple of days playing records, relaxing and enjoying each other's company, a friendship was born and the seeds were sown for a brand new album on Marco's mighty Hell Yeah.

Two years later and the sublime "By Your Side" is here. A ten track journey through drifting rhythms, dreamy melodies and sumptuous chords which has already cast a spell over the likes of Balearic titans Moonboots, Phil Mison and Chris Coco. 

Pek within Andrea Amaducci's special artwork and find the delights within. Majestic opener 'Space Is My Place' transports you straight to a blue sky paradise with rippling chords reflecting the warm sun and is ripe to become a modern classic. 
From there Calm's masterful synths keep you flat on your back and gazing up to the heavens as gently drums roll beneath the brilliant 'Afterglow and First Star' and then 'Ending of Summer, Beginning of Autumn' is a little more reflective as it rues the end of warmer days. 
‘Sky, Colour, Passing' is floating celestial bliss with angelic harmonies, 'Shadows and Lights' is a lazy Sunday soundtrack with delicate piano keys and the gentle chug of 'Before Landing' glows with cosmic light and warms you with astral disco grooves that will be the jewel in any open air DJ set. 
After the sensuous moments of 'Mellow Mellow Sadness' encourage you to reach out and hug someone close, 'Shade of Tree' washes over you like a seaside breeze before the final two tracks layer up synth modulations and quietly epic guitars into rousing pieces of slow motion euphoria. 



STAFF COMMENTS

Patrick says: Japanese producer Calm joins the Hell Yeah clan via this sumptuous double LP of blissful Balearic vibrations, extending summer indefinitely with an instant classic.

Hailed as the new vanguard of indie rock following the breakout success of 2016’s Puberty 2, Mitski returns with Be The Cowboy, via Dead Oceans.

Mitski’s carefully crafted songs have often been portrayed as emotionally raw, overflowing confessionals from a fevered chosen girl, but in her fifth album, Mitski introduces a persona who has been teased before but never so fully present until now—a woman in control.

“For this new record, I experimented in narrative and fiction,” comments Mitski. Though she hesitates to go so far as to say she created full-on characters, she reveals she had in mind “a very controlled icy repressed woman who is starting to unravel. Because women have so little power and showing emotion is seen as weakness, this ‘character’ clings to any amount of control she can get. Still, there is something very primordial in her that is trying to find a way to get out.”

In Be The Cowboy, Mitski delves into the loneliness of being a symbol and the loneliness of being someone, how it can feel so much like being no one. Lead single “Geyser” introduces us to a woman who can’t hold it all in any more. She’s about to burst and unleash a torrent of desire and passion that has been building up inside. While recording the album with her long-time producer Patrick Hyland, the pair kept returning to “the image of someone alone on a stage, singing solo with a single spotlight trained on them in an otherwise dark room. For most of the tracks, we didn’t layer the vocals with doubles or harmonies, to achieve that campy ‘person singing alone on stage’ atmosphere.”

There is plenty of buoyant swagger on Be The Cowboy, but just as much interrogation into self-mythology. Throughout these 14 songs, the music swerves from the cheerful to the plaintive. Mournful piano ballads lead into deceptively uptempo songs. “I had been on the road for a long time, which is so isolating, and had to run my own business at the same time. A lot of this record was me not having any feelings, being completely spent but then trying to rally myself and wake up and get back to Mitski.”

STAFF COMMENTS

Barry says: We aren't the only ones who've been eagerly awaiting a new Mitski album, with the news on this outing being VERY warmly received online, and listening to it, it's no surprise. Forward thinking synth-pop progressions, beautifully balanced song structures and Mitski's unmistakeable vocals. Superb stuff.

Shame thrives on confrontation. Whether it be the seething intensity crackling throughout debut LP Songs of Praise or the adrenaline-pumping chaos that unfolds at Shame’s shows, it’s all fueled by feeling. NPR’s Bob Boilen noted, “Of the 70 bands I saw at this year’s SXSW, the band Shame seemed to mean what they played more than any other.”

Comprised of vocalist Charlie Steen, guitarists Sean Coyle-Smith and Eddie Green, bassist John Finerty, and drummer Charlie Forbes, the London-based five-piece began as school boys. From the outset, Shame built the band up from a foundation of DIY ethos while citing The Fall and Wire among its biggest musical influences.

Utilizing both the grit and sincerity of that musical background, Shame carved out a niche in the South London music scene and then barreled fearlessly into the angular, thrashing post-punk that would go on to make up Songs of Praise, their Dead Oceans debut. From “Gold Hole,” a tongue-in-cheek takedown of rock narcissism, to lead single “Concrete” detailing the overwhelming moment of realizing a relationship is doomed, to the frustrated “Tasteless” taking aim at the monotony of people droning through their day-to-day, Songs of Praise never pauses to catch its breath.

STAFF COMMENTS

Barry says: Brilliantly smooth but uncompromisingly melodic, shame intertwine the spirit of 80's hardcore with the precision playing and intricate structural flux of today's more dynamic musical frontrunners. Brilliant stuff.

FORMAT INFORMATION

Coloured LP Info: Indies exclusive sky blue vinyl.

Picture Disc Info: Originally pressed for Japan, a (very limited) number of picture discs are now available in the UK. This will not be pressed again - get em while they’re hot!

Where are we headed? What are we consuming, how is it affecting us, and why does everything feel so bad and weird sometimes? These are some of the questions posed on Ruban Nielson's fourth album as Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Sex & Food-a delightfully shapeshifting album that filters these real-deal serious themes through a vibrant sonic lens that spans battered drum-machine funk, doomy and thrashing rock, and pink-hued psychedelic disco. Recorded in a variety of locales from Seoul and Hanoi to Reykjavik, Mexico City, and Auckland, Sex & Food is a practical musical travelogue, with local musicians from the countries that Nielson and his band visited pitching in throughout.

STAFF COMMENTS

Barry says: As singular as they are enthralling, Unknown Mortal Orchestra are finally back, and bringing everything we've come to expect. Jangly riffs, pitch-perfect falsetto and impeccable writing, 'Sex & Food' is their finest work to date.

FORMAT INFORMATION

Coloured LP Info: Limited edition pink vinyl.

LP Info: Standard black vinyl edition.

LP includes MP3 Download Code.

74 - Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs

King Of Cowards

Seven is the magic number. Indeed, not only do psychologists theorise that the human brain can only memorise a sequence of this length, but Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs - the Newcastle-based maximalists whose riffs, raw power and rancour have blazed a trail across the darker quarters of the underground in the last five years - have made a second album in King Of Cowards which does its damnedest to take consciousness to its very limits. Moreover, another notable seven is dealt with here - that of the deadly sins. As vocalist and synth player Matt Baty notes “For a long time I’ve questioned how and where guilt can be used as a form of oppression. When can guilt be converted into positive action?

After typing all of the lyrics up I realised I’d unwittingly referenced every one of the seven deadly sins throughout the album. That’s my fire and brimstone Catholic upbringing coming into play there!” Building on the momentum this band has built since their January 2017 debut Feed The Rats, this opus sees them entering a new phase as a sleeker and still more dangerous swineherd. The Iggy-esque drive to dementia, Sabbath-esque squalor and Motörhead-style dirt may still be present and correct, yet the songs are leaner, the long-drawn-out riff-fests sharpened into addictive hammerblows and the nihilistic dirges of yore alchemically transformed into an uplifting and inviting barrage of hedonistic abandon.

“The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which” So George Orwell noted at the end of a certain slim volume. King Of Cowards is nothing less than just such a metamorphosis, one in which - in a blur of primal urges and beastly physicality - this band shows us just which animals are really in charge of the farm. 

STAFF COMMENTS

Barry says: I could imagine that this is seven pigs, if and only if pigs were capable of sporting a guitar / bass / duo of drumsticks and using them to smash out an epic conceptual behemoth centred around the seven sins and sounding like a metal freight train smashing into a mountain at full speed. I've not heard of that being the case, so I can only assume these are super-human musical beings and not their fleshy porcine counterparts.

FORMAT INFORMATION

Coloured LP Info: Limited "yellow with sloth" coloured vinyl.

LP Info: Black with wrath vinyl.

World’s Strongest Man is the magnificent third solo album by Gaz Coombes. Inspired variously by Grayson Perry’s the Descent of Man, Frank Ocean’s Blonde, Californian weed, British woodlands, unchecked masculinity, Neu! and hip hop (and a whole lot more besides), it’s a truly remarkable collection of eleven deeply personal songs each set to expansive, addictive melody.

FORMAT INFORMATION

Coloured LP Info: Gatefold Sleeve Pink Coloured Indies Exclusive.

76 - Thom Yorke

Suspiria (Music For The Luca Guadagnino Film)

Suspiria consists of 25 original compositions written by Thom specifically for Luca Guadagnino reimagining of the 1977 Dario Argento horror classic. The album is a mix of instrumental score work, interstitial pieces and interludes, and more traditional song structures featuring Thom’s vocals such as “Unmade”, “Has Ended” and “Suspirium,” the album's first single featuring the melodic theme that recurs throughout the film and its score.

As scoring a horror film presented Thom with altogether new challenges and opportunities, Suspiria stands apart from any of his other work. Piano/vocal ballads, Krautrock-esque modular synth work inspired by the film’s Berlin 1977 setting, multilayered vocals, and melodies that convey terror, longing and melancholy combine to create a chaotic yet cohesive musical spell.

Suspiria was written and arranged by Thom Yorke, recorded and produced by Thom and Sam Petts-Davies. The album also features the London Contemporary Orchestra and Choir, Noah Yorke on drums on “Has Ended” and “Volk,” and Pasha Mansurov on solo flute on “Suspirium.”

STAFF COMMENTS

Barry says: Having been no stranger to a brooding chorus or an emotive wall of ambience, Thom Yorke was always going to be a great choice for a soundtracker, and Suspiria proves this without missing a step. Brittle piano led melodies, gritty phased percussion and shimmering synth progressions pull together into a cohesive and absorbing maelstrom. Brilliant.

Piccadilly customers, house music inclined Mancunians, the whole of Chicago (surely?!) and WHP attendees will have known about this for some time now - but that hasn't quelled any anticipation or excitement - yes you heard right - THE FIRST MR. FINGERS ALBUM IN TWENTY FIVE YEARS!!!!

Take a breath...

Famous as one of the most important heads in dance music around the world, Larry has enjoyed a successful career as a producer, remixer, collaborator, vocalist and DJ spanning 35 years. Out on his own Alleviated Records, "Cerebral Hemispheres" features 14 new pieces of music that allows the listener to fully immerse themselves and dig deep into Larry's musical world. Often regarded as one of the brightest stars to shine on deep house music, Larry's alter-ego Mr. Fingers has rarely put a note wrong across an illustrious and expansive career. Lucky for us, the fingered one has decided not to change the formula tooo drastically, so it's full of rich, textured piano, delicately played congas, dreamy xylophone licks and swinging house beats. There's a touch of Latin flavour, a stupendously rich and varied palette plus an advanced musical structure, owing itself to proper 'songs' than repetitive beats n trax that litter the modern day house scene. Larry's gone and brought home the bacon pop pickers, showing every mutha f***a how it's done in 2018. An imperative release. Every home needs one! 


STAFF COMMENTS

Patrick says: Larry Heard follows up that spectacular 12" with his first album of new material in years. Ranging from the deep and soulful to the totally alien, this is top tackle from the real OG.

Their favourite records are the perfect counterbalance of the considered and the superficial. Whether it’s Madonna, Talking Heads or Holger Czukay - we enjoy these artists in the background with friends or profoundly and alone. Virginia Wing both understand and embrace this concept fully as they return with Ecstatic Arrow, an album which finds them in a place of renewed strength, optimism and clarity.

Recorded in Switzerland, in the family home of longtime friend and collaborator Misha Hering within the domesticity and gentle routine of communal life, the album represents a world as predisposed to solemn introspection as it is to blithe conviviality. Ecstatic Arrow borrows from the heterogeneous terrain of The Flying Lizard’s Fourth Wall, the exuberant technology assisted pop of Yellow Magic Orchestra and the playful sophistication of Lizzy Mercier Descloux’s Press Colour, arriving at the evergreen intersection of pop music and conceptual art.

The resolute opener of Be Released and album centre point The Female Genius pair resonant Fourth World instrumentation with sonorous, loping drum patterns. Elsewhere, the sentimental march of single The Second Shift plays out like an after-hours ballad re-imagined by Wally Badarou and For Every Window There’s a Curtain is coloured by the blue-lit haze of an Eventide warped tenor saxophone. Three albums in, the voice of Alice Merida Richards is more compelling and expressive than ever. The glacial deadpan of previous records has given way to a more candid, self-possessed delivery, showing an appreciation for the humour and tragedy innate in the downtown Arcadia of Laurie Anderson, Robert Ashley or even Lynn Goldsmith’s Will Powers. It’s with this voice that Richards outlines a simple ideality that fortifies the entirety of Ecstatic Arrow - inequality pervades, destructive behaviours are inherited and each subsequent generation has to reconcile the debts of its precursor - yet a space exists within ourselves and each other that houses a fact we must be reminded of - we have the ability to choose. Even in moments of frustration; the ascerbic eye-roll toward male entitlement, Glorious Idea or the world-weary Eight Hours Don’t Make a Day, there persists a joy for living that refuses to be confined. A depiction of a group finally at ease with itself, Ecstatic Arrow is a tribute to the internal momentum that quietly guides us toward our destination. 

STAFF COMMENTS

Barry says: Dreamy, floating melodies and drums with reverb for days, Virginia wing manage to craft a delicately airy sound without sacrificing any of the inherent melodic content. A cleverly balanced and thoroughly beautiful journey.

FORMAT INFORMATION

Coloured LP Info: Blue colour vinyl LP includes A3 poster, zine and DL card, exclusive to Indie stores only.

Ltd LP Info: Black vinyl LP, includes A3 poster, zine and DL card.

In many ways Insecure Men - the band led by the fiercely talented songwriter and musician Saul Adamczewski and his schoolmate and stabilising influence, Ben Romans-Hopcraft - are the polar opposite of the Fat White Family. Whereas sleaze-mired, country-influenced, drug-crazed garage punks the Fat Whites are a “celebration of everything that is wrong in life”, Insecure Men, who blend together exotica, easy listening, lounge and timeless pop music, are, by comparison at least, the last word in wholesomeness.

The band originally formed in 2015 in the cramped confines of The Queens Head pub, Stockwell, in the Fat White Family’s notorious South London ‘practice space’. Saul recorded all of the songs he wrote at The Queens Head onto tape at Sean Lennon’s studio in upstate New York. This tape, recorded on his own in a corridor onto an ancient Tascam while in a foul mood with his mates, essentially became Insecure Men’s self-titled debut album as more layers were dubbed over the top until nothing of the original demos remained.

Saul lists some of the influences on their sound, mentioning the exotica of Arthur Lyman, the early electronic pop of Perrey and Kingsley, the supreme smoothness of The Carpenters, the songwriting chops of Harry Nilsson and the hypnagogic uncanniness conjured up by David Lynch, describing what they do as “pretty music with a dark underbelly to it”.

FORMAT INFORMATION

Coloured LP Info: Indies exclusive yellow coloured vinyl.

Coloured LP includes MP3 Download Code.

Preoccupations’ songs have always worked through themes of creation, destruction, and futility, and they’ve always done it with singular post-punk grit. The textures are evocative and razor-sharp. The wire is always a live one. But while that darker side may have been well-explored, that’s not quite the same as it being fully, intensely lived. This time it was, and the result is ’New Material’, a collection that broadens and deepens Preoccupations to a true mastery of their sound. In it lies the difference between witnessing a car crash and crashing your own, between jumping into an ocean and starting to swallow the water.

“It’s an ode to depression,’ singer Matt Flegel says plainly. “To depression and self-sabotage, and looking inward at yourself with extreme hatred.” Typically resilient, the months leading up to recording ‘New Material’ brought a new order of magnitude to feelings that had been creeping up on Flegel for some time. He’d written bits and pieces of lyrics through the course of it, small snippets he hadn’t assigned to any one thought or feeling but were emblematic of a deeper issue, something germinating that was dense and numb and fully unshakeable. As the band began writing music, that process gave shape to the sheer tonnage of what he’d been carrying. With virtually nothing written or demoed before the band sat down together, the process was more collaborative than before. It was almost architectural, building some things up, tearing others down to the beams, sitting down and writing songs not knowing what they were about. But for Flegel, it led to a reckoning. “Finishing ‘Espionage’ was when I realized,” says Flegel. “I looked at the rest of the lyrics and realized the magnitude of what was wrong.”

‘New Material’ builds a world for that feeling, playing through its layers and complexities while hiding almost nothing. That inscrutable side is part of the magic, here, and a necessary counterweight to the straight-jab clarity of Flegel’s lyrics. You can deep-dive the lyrics or zone into a riff; you can face it or you can get lost in it. “My ultimate goal would be to make a record where nobody knows what instrument is playing ever,” says multi-instrumentalist Scott Munro, “and I think we’ve come closer than ever, here. It shouldn’t sound robotic — it should sound human, like people playing instruments. It’s just maybe no one knows what they are.”

Opener “Espionage” lives up to Munro’s goals, kicking off with a clattering, rhythmic echo that gives way to sprinting percussion and a melody in the orbit of Manchester’s classics. “Manipulation” explores the futility of going through the motions, balancing a droney, minimal march with a thunder roll that brings it to the brink, and to the doomed romantic declaration, “please don’t remember me like I’ll always remember you.” “Disarray” bursts up like a blackened confetti cannon, the song’s undeniably bright melody dancing over a refrain of “disarray, disarray, disarray” and literally nothing else. “A lot of this is about futility,” he says, “trying to find something where there’s nothing to be found.” That hunt turns into a search-and-destroy mission on “Decompose”, a tense, speedy, “blow yourself up and start again” type of song, the very picture of creation and destruction, as Flegel writes “for better or worse, we are cursed in the ways that we tend to be.” And while calling an album ’New Material’ might seem like a smartass move, the truth is it’s as matter-of-fact a title as Espionage, Disarray, or anything else on the record. Why fight that?

If the through-line unifying Preoccupations’ work is a furious, almost punishing cyclical quality, ‘New Material’ does offer some relief. “This is somehow the most uptempo thing we’ve ever done,” observes Flegel. That propulsive, itchy quality rescues ‘New Material’ from the proverbial bottom of the pit. To write these songs is to force oneself to reignite, to play them is to stand up and reengage. Closer “Compliance” may not seem revelatory on first listen, but it is deeply elemental, a crucial finale and the band’s first standalone instrumental. Original versions were built to death, reexamined and re-destroyed until they landed on just two chords — something simple, fundamental — and resolved to make meaning out of that, to show instead of tell. Flegel acknowledges it is more affecting to him than any other song on the record. It’s not redemption, more like a forced reprieve.


STAFF COMMENTS

Darryl says: One of the greatest modern post-punk outfits return for one of their most blistering outings yet. Atmospheric and ambient in parts, and downright catatonic in others, this is the sound of a band reaching the peak of their game.

Princess Nokia – aka New York rapper Destiny Frasqueri – has been releasing music via Youtube and Soundcloud since she was in High School and catapulted herself to the next level with last year’s critically acclaimed rap opus 1992 Deluxe -- selling out venues across the globe and steadily gaining tens of millions of streams. Now, this shapeshifting emcee returns with a brand new collection of songs titled A Girl Cried Red, a self-described “emo mixtape” which will undoubtedly cement her place in the Alternative underground as well as the Hip-Hop world. “Black people created punk — the band Death was way before The Ramones,” she stated in a recent interview, “If you think about it, the wool has been pulled over our eyes. This is our shit. Very naturally, that's why we return to it.” Drawing on influences as varied as the introverted acoustic sounds of Elliott Smith to the bombastic pop-punk energy of Paramore – A Girl Cried Red showcases another fully formed side of Destiny that still taps into the uncompromising feminist ideology of Princess Nokia.

STAFF COMMENTS

Millie says: I am obsessed with this. Princess Nokia's emo side has emerged and it's fab. She clearly gives no cares on what people think and just does what she wants. I heart Princess Nokia!

FORMAT INFORMATION

Coloured LP Info: Limited edition red vinyl.

There's a riot going on. You don't need me, or Yo La Tengo, to tell you that. These are dark times, in our heads as much as in the streets. It's easy to lose contact with the ground, flying through endless banks of storm clouds day after day. Confusion and anxiety intrude into daily life and cause you to lose your compass. There are times that call for anthems, something to lift you out of your slump and put fire in your feet. And then there are times when what is indicated is a balm, a sound that will wrap around you and work out the knots in your neck.

While there's a riot going on, Yo La Tengo will remind you what it's like to dream. The sound burbles and washes and flows and billows. If records were dedicated to the cardinal elements, this one would be water. There are shimmery hazes, spectral rumbles, a flash of backward masking, ghostly flamingos calling "shoo-bop shoo-bop." You are there. And even if your mind is not unclouded--shaken, misdirected, out of words and out of time--you can still float, ride the waves of an ocean deeper than your worries, above the sound and above the Sound.

For Yo La Tengo this is a slow-motion action painting, and Georgia Hubley, Ira Kaplan, and James McNew did it all themselves, in their rehearsal studio, with no outside engineer (John McEntire later did the mix). They did not rehearse or jam together beforehand; they turned on the recorder and let things coalesce. Songs came together over long stretches, sometimes as much as a year going by between parts. You'd never guess this, since the layers are finessed with such a liquid brush. You'd imagine most of the songs had sprung forth whole, since they will enter your head that way. Within two listens you will be powerless to resist the magnetic draw of "Shades of Blue," will involuntarily hear "She May, She Might" on your internal jukebox first thing in the morning and "Let's Do It Wrong" late at night. While there's a riot going on you will feel capable of bobbing through like a cork.

In 1971, when the nation appeared to be on the brink of violently coming apart, Sly and the Family Stone released There's a Riot Goin’ On, an album of dark, brooding energy. Now, under similar circumstances, Yo La Tengo have issued a record with the same name but with a different force, an album that proposes an alternative to anger and despair. Their first proper full-length since 2013’s Fade, There's a Riot Goin’ On is an expression of freedom and sanity and emotional expansion, a declaration of common humanity as liberating as it is soft-spoken. 

STAFF COMMENTS

Darryl says: As far as dreamy post-shoegaze indie goes, it doesn't get any better than Yo La Tengo's own brand of whimsical haze and soaring atmospherics. Drowning under a delightful wave of swirling percussion and psychedelic guitar scree, Kaplan's voice is beguiling as ever, anchoring the whole affair from floating away on a blissful cloud.

FORMAT INFORMATION

2xColoured LP Info: Independent stores only orange vinyl.

For the uninitiated, Cornelius is the brainchild of Japanese multi-instrumentalist KeigoOyamada. A performing musician since his teens, Oyamada created his creative alter-ego (the name is an homage to the Planet of the Apes), in the early 1990s from the ashes of his previous project, Flipper's Guitar.

With the 1997 release of Fantasma, Cornelius gained international recognition for his cut and paste style reminiscent of American counterparts Beck and The Beastie Boys and was released internationally by Matador Records. Being called a "modern day Brian Wilson" for his orchestral-style arrangements and production techniques, Cornelius subsequently became one of the most sought after producer/remixers in the world, working with a wide range of artists including Blur, Beck, Bloc Party, MGMT, and James Brown.

With 2002’s Point, Cornelius' music took a quantum shift, going from sampling “found sounds” to looping organic elements and creating lush soundscapes. Using water drops as the rhythmic backbone of “Drop” on his vocoder-infused cover of “Brazil”, the album dazed and amazed fans and set the path for the next phase of his career.

2007 brought this philosophy to an even higher level with the release of Sensuous. Cornelius’ live shows are known around the world for spectacular visuals (all perfectly synchronized to the performance), custom lighting that doesn't simply augment the performance, but becomes another instrument within it, and a full band of equally talented and diverse players.

Cornelius has recorded music for Edgar Wright’s Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, scored the anime mega-film Ghost in the Shell Arise, performed as the backbone of Yoko Ono’s reformed Plastic Ono Band, played the Hollywood Bowl with Yellow Magic Orchestra, and co-wrote and produced the Japanese artist salyu x salyu.


STAFF COMMENTS

Laura says: Cornelius returns after a 10 year hiatus, and although he employs the same genre-defying kleptomania of his past, there's a more fluid, (and as the title suggest) mellow flow to this album, with washes of lush synths and melodic guitars in the mix. It's still a playful mish mash of styles: funk, soul, jazz, pop, electronica, folk etc., as you'd expect, but it's less jarring and more laid back. More mature I suppose you could say, but in a good way!

FORMAT INFORMATION

Deluxe LP Info: limited deluxe edition pop-up gatefold vinyl (including phenakistoscope animation insert).

Brooklyn trio Forma’s latest LP continues their mission to “broaden the idea of what an electronic music ensemble can sound like.” Semblance emerged from exploratory sessions at The Schoolhouse, the Bushwick loft where members Mark Dwinell and John Also Bennett live, then was tracked at Gary’s Electric studios, where their previous album Physicalist was also recorded.

Inspired by polyrhythmic composition, the human voice, and conceptual improvisation strategies, the songs are striking in their textural detail and emotional nuance, alternately synthetic and sentient, futuristic and intuitive. Incorporating flute, piano, guitar, saxophone, acoustic drums and cymbals alongside an array of synthesizers, the record persuasively demonstrates the group’s unique playing abilities and fluid chemistry – attributes they credit to “techniques we’ve developed to trick our electronic machines into mimicking the spontaneous character of live instruments.”

Members George and John Also Bennett also cite as an influence their recent stint in minimalist composer Jon Gibson’s ensemble, performing his 1973 proto-ambient masterwork Visitations. The long- form modal piece requires restraint and deep listening to execute, qualities especially apparent in the more muted moments of Semblance, such as “Rebreather” and “New City.”

The group states the intent of the new album as “to be more direct and exacting”, which it is. Over half a decade spent writing and recording together has distilled Forma’s hybrid electro-acoustic interplay into an attuned and astounding language, capable of articulating impossible symmetries and reflective states.
The stunning visuals of the artwork are by frequent collaborator of the group Peter Burr. 

STAFF COMMENTS

Barry says: I can't remember a week THIS good for instrumental synth music for a long time, and now to add to the excellence, we have a new one from forma. Finely structured cosmic melodies, perfectly produced to weave its way into your consciousness. Sit back and zone out.

'Slow Air' is the fourth album by Still Corners, released on Wrecking Light. Evoking the atmospheric sounds Still Corners are known for, 'Slow Air' continues the band's journey with an album full of tension and brooding all the while wrapped in a reverb laden dream. Written in the hill country in Austin, Texas, Slow Air nods towards a classic sound with emphasis on the guitar, both acoustic and electric, combined with the alluring and ghostly voice of Tessa Murray. The songs are rounded out with live drums and minimal synthesisers with all the mistakes kept in for maximum human feel and emotion.

The album title is derived from the sultry heat in Texas which causes everything and everyone to slow down. While writing SLOW AIR, Still Corners found inspiration in the change of leaving England for the States and traveling around the massive expanse that is North America from the deserts of Texas and Arizona to the beaches of California and mountainous regions of the north east New York. Recorded in a new studio designed by Greg Hughes in Austin, TX, Still Corners focused on a recording process that was as fluid and minimal as possible. Using a variety of microphones both old and new the band recorded and mixed this new set of songs in three months. Keeping everything fresh and not over-thinking moved the album to the finish line faster than any album Still Corners had written and recorded before. Joe Laporta put the finishing touches on at Sterling Sound in NYC. 

86 - Goatman

Rhythms

    Rhythms' is the debut album by Goatman, a new solo project by one of the mysterious members from the Swedish collective GOAT.

    Recorded in GOAT’s northern Swedish home town of Korpilombolo In late 2017 - the 6 tracks on Rhythms reveal a true collision of African Rock, Jazz, Reggae, Gospel and Psych, but all put through the famous GOAT filters.
    Rhythms is a very apt title for the album as each track is an exploration of the ‘groove’. From the Fela Kuti‘esqe drums and horns jam of Jaam Ak Salam, to the frantic gospel-jazz of Carry the Load. From the fuzzed Can via the ‘Bristol sound’ track of Hum Bebass Nahin, to the cinematic, Spacemen 3‘esqe drones of the album closer Baaneexu. The end result is quite an astonishing and very unique album, like what you would expect from an album made by a member of GOAT – an album that is hard to put your finger on, but one that you will keep revisiting, the more it’s sounds reveals itself.

    Goatman plays all the instruments on the album bar some additional drums by Hanna Östergren from fellow Swedish bands Hills and Träd, Gräs & Stenar, and an added horn section courtesy of Johan Asplund, David Byström. One of the standout highlights of the album though is the collection of great guest vocalists Goatman has enlisted. Tracks Jaam Ak Salam and Aduna feature the very special voice of Senegalese singer Seydi Mandoza. You will also hear the vocals of Swedish based singers Amanda Werne on Carry the Load and Amerykhan on Hum Bebass Nahin. Goatman’s passion for traditional and contemporary music from around the world can be clearly heard when listening to Rhythms.

    The level of authenticity and willingness for exploration that Goatman has captured truly shows a fanatical respect for the music he is greatly influenced by. But at the end of the day, Rhythms is an album that has a sole purpose, and that is for to you to enjoy, dance and have fun too! 


    STAFF COMMENTS

    Barry says: Who doesn't want more Goat related music? Everything they've put out has been gold, and this side project by the MAN from GOAT (get it?) is no exception. Snappy percussion, rolling horns and fuzzed-out psychedelic soloing, pulsing grooves and richly hypnotic bass. If you liked Goat, there's no way you won't like this.

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    Coloured LP Info: Indies exclusive pink/black swirl edition.

    LP Info: Black vinyl edition.

    Exploded View, the international music project of Annika Henderson, Hugo Quezada, and Martin Thulin has returned and taken flight with their second full-length, Obey. The album was recorded at Hugo’s and Martin’s studios in Mexico City with Annika visiting from Berlin. Leaving behind their raw, live recording process, and embracing overdubs and multi-instrumentalism, the band has crafted their most ambitious work to date. The four-piece that recorded the band’s self-titled debut album and Summer Came Early EP became three to create a more concise collection of songs. Their motivation for creating together remains purely passionate and the improvisational spark the band is known for has morphed into the emotional flames of being close friends with a deep desire to make music with each other.

    When asked about the title of the record, singer Annika said “this is in reference to so many things. We live in a society where we must obey or risk punishment. This can be social punishment, legal punishment, emotional punishment - if you dare to step outside, you will reap the reward. We live in a time when we are selfcertifying a lot. Whether it’s how we present ourselves on social media or our diet or our job - we obey the social norms. Our fears are used against us by advertisers. Our fears of growing old or being excluded - we must conform or pay the high price - buy this and you will be accepted. We must obey.” She adds musingly at the end, “It’s also funny because in the band we often feel like we are all compromising, so we must all obey each other’s wishes to some extent too.”

    Striking the balance between precise and wild, between unshackled and grounded, grooving and unhinged, has always been Exploded View’s specialty. They have a special knack for making the esoteric feel accessible and crafting pop music out of seemingly raw consciousness. This unique ability to make beautiful music that feels written beyond the veil is at the heart of what makes the band so captivating and powerful, and it’s on full display all over Obey.


    STAFF COMMENTS

    Barry says: Woozy, languid psychedelic atmospheres wrap around a solid foundation of reticent percussion and pulsing bass drones. Elsewhere we get more directed instrumental lines but imbued with the syncopated lag seen elsewhere. A stripped-back but perfectly formed experience, rich and multi-layered but beautifully concise at the same time.

    Cosmic Nord Bjørn Torske, one of the enigmatic of our Scando-disco allstars, marks the 20-year anniversary of his solo career with "Byen", his fifth solo album and first in 7 years, out via Smalltown Supersound. Recorded over the past year at Torske’s home and studio in Bergen, "Byen" finds the veteran musician fusing two distinct sides of his catalogue - clubby, inviting house music, and side-long pastoral ambience. It continues to show his flair for fusing indelible melody with propulsive rhythms. Upward scaling lead single “Clean Air,” is a mountain-traversing track with piping synths and crisp backbeats laid over a warm, inviting bassline.

    Since the release of his last solo album, 2010’s elegant "Kokning", Torske has kept busy with a steady drip of single and EP releases as well as reissues of his first two albums, 1998's "Nedi Myra" and 2001's "Trøbbel", and last year's collaboration with Prins Thomas, "Square One".

    'Apart from having made this album entirely by myself, this was also more planned,' Torske states regarding the differences between "Byen" and "Square One". 'My collaboration with Thomas was pretty ad-hoc and messy in its conception, but this album is cleaner and more straightforward - more primed for the dance floor.' Whereas much of Torske's previous work (including 2007's "Feil Knapp") featured tracks that had been in gestation for years, "Byen"'s songs were recorded entirely within the confines of 2017.

    'My original idea was to keep things simple and more driven by melodies than has been my want with the earlier releases,' he states regarding his thematic intentions behind Byen. 'Still, I am always considering myself to produce music for DJs, so there is hopefully some material that will find its way to select dance floors.'


    When asked to describe the title track from his new record, Kyle Thomas—aka King Tuff—takes a deep breath. “It’s a song about hitting rock bottom,” he says. “I didn't even know what I wanted to do anymore, but I still had this urge, like there was this possibility of something else I could be doing… and then I just followed that possibility. To me, that’s what songwriting, and art in general, is about. You’re chasing something. ‘The Other’ is basically where songs come from. It’s the hidden world. It’s the invisible hand that guides you whenever you make something. It’s the thing I had to rediscover to bring me back to making music again in a way that felt true and good.” After years of non-stop touring, culminating in a particularly arduous stint in support of 2014’s Black Moon Spell, Thomas found himself back in Los Angeles experiencing the flipside of the ultimate rock and roll cliche. “I had literally been on tour for years,” recalls Thomas. “It was exhausting, physically and mentally. I’m essentially playing this character of King Tuff, this crazy party monster, and I don’t even drink or do drugs. It had become a weird persona, which people seemed to want from me, but it was no longer me. I just felt like it had gotten away from me.” The ten tracks that make up The Other represent a kind of psychic evolution for King Tuff. No less hooky than previous records, the new songs ditch the goofy rock-and-roll bacchanalia narratives of earlier records in favor of expansive arrangements, a diversity of instrumentation, and lyrics that straddle the fence between painful ruminations and a childlike, creative energy untarnished by cynicism. The soulful and cosmic new direction is apparent from the album’s first moments: introduced by the gentle ringing of a chime, acoustic guitar, and warm organ tones, “The Other” is a narrative of redemption born of creativity. As Thomas sings about being stuck in traffic, directionless, with no particular reason to be alive, he hears the call of “the other,” a kind of siren song that, instead of leading towards destruction, draws the narrator towards a creative rebirth. Elsewhere, tracks like “Thru the Cracks” and “Psycho Star” balance psychedelia with day-glo pop hooks. “The universe is probably an illusion, but isn’t it so beautifully bizarre?” he asks on “Psycho Star,” providing one of the record’s central tenets. At a time when everything in the world feels so deeply spoiled and the concept of making meaning out of the void seems both pointless and impossible, why not try? Thomas self-produced the record, as he did his 2007 debut, Was Dead, but on a far grander scale. He recorded it at The Pine Room, the home studio Thomas built to work on the record, and playing every instrument aside from drums and saxophone. He pulled Shawn Everett (War On Drugs, Alabama Shakes) in to assist with the mixing process. While it would be easy to think of The Other as a kind of reinvention for King Tuff, Thomas views the entire experience of the record as a kind of reset that’s not totally removed from what he’s done in the past. “I can’t help but sound like me,” he says. “It’s just that this time I let the songs lead me where they wanted to go, instead of trying to push them into a certain zone. King Tuff was always just supposed to be me. When I started doing this as a teenager, it was whatever I wanted it to be. King Tuff was never supposed to be just one thing. It was supposed to be everything.”

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Barry says: A bleak but unbelievably addictive journey into the mind of King Tuff, through the euphoric highs and crushing lows, acoustic balladry and stoned musings. Simmering, heartfelt and absolutely worth every minute. Think the honest acoustic innocence of Daniel Johnston with Jeff Tweedy's perfectly emotive production, and you're somewhere close.

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    Coloured LP Info: Loser edition coloured vinyl.

    90 - Bugge Wesseltoft & Prins Thomas

    Bugge Wesseltoft & Prins Thomas

    The Rainbow Studio in Oslo is a familiar name to anyone who follows the ECM label – many of its classic 1970s jazz albums were recorded there under the eye of resident producer Jan Erik Kongshaug. Bugge and Thomas booked a couple of sessions at the legendary space with Kongshaug at the controls, and improvised some tunes in the style and spirit of some of their favourite ECM moments, like the fresh, open sounds of Codona, Egberto Gismonti, Oregon and Kenny Wheeler. Bugge had previously done a remix of Thomas’s "Bobletekno" in 2015 but this is the first time they have worked together as active musicians. The results – also partly taped at Thomas’s home studio – fuse programmed rhythms, live synths and percussion, all captured in a sumptuously spacious acoustic.

    For an even more authentic touch they called up one of their all time local heroes and one of Norway’s most famous jazz drummers, Jon Christensen, who’s been the go-to guy for Jan Garbarek, Terje Rypdal, Keith Jarrett and many more. At 75 years old he’s still pretty spry behind the kit, as you’ll hear on several tracks here.

    Make no mistake, though, this is not retro pastiche but contemporary music, coasting on gently insistent programmed grooves and bubbling basslines. The whole thing feels not so much like a consciously hip fusion of DJ and jazz musician, more like two great musicians totally enjoying themselves. Which is exactly what it is.


    STAFF COMMENTS

    Patrick says: Take one part Bugge Wesseltoft jazz, a generous helping of Prins Thomas Balearic and shake over ice until the whole thing starts to fizz.

    French psych duo The Limiñanas have announced their new album 'Shadow People' which will be released on 19th January on Because Music. One of France’s most beloved treasures, The Limiñanas are Marie (drums/vocals) and Lionel (guitar, bass, keyboards and vocals). Hailing from Perpignan, the duo straddles the boundary between psych, shoegaze, and yé-yé. With hazy, reverb-laden hooks, combined at times with noisy distortion, and fronted by effortlessly cool vocals, reminiscent of Serge Gainsbourg and Brigitte Bardot, the band is at once timeless and quintessentially French. 

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Barry says: Smooth, psychedelic meanderings full of rich, warming guitar and soothing, softly spoken french vox. Spin along a couple tracks and you get hynotic, Floydian driven psychedelia and hushed, fuzzy guitars. Ace

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    LP Info: Released on 180G Black Vinyl (with CD) Gatefold sleeve, spot varnish, with a black inner sleeve.

    CD Info: Digipack CD.

    92 - Anna St. Louis

    If Only There Was A River

    If Only There Was A River is the first full-length studio album from Anna St. Louis. The songwriter, who originally hails from Kansas City, began writing songs after moving to Los Angeles five years ago and has previously released a cassette of recordings on Woodsist / Mare Records, appropriately titled First Songs. The tape received notice from NPR: All Songs Considered, Pitchfork, and Stereogum.

    On her proper debut, St. Louis spreads her wings and expands on the promise hinted at on First Songs. To achieve that end, she enlisted Kyle Thomas (King Tuff) and Kevin Morby to produce the album, which was engineered by Thomas in his home in Mount Washington, LA. The collection of eleven songs also features Justin Sullivan (Night Shop) on drums and multi-instrumentalist Oliver Hill (Pavo Pavo). While hints of influences like Loretta Lynn, John Fahey and Townes Van Zandt peek out of the corners of the songs, this album is not a nostalgic affair. Rather it marks the emergence of an artist fully coming into their own.

    “Being from the Midwest means a certain tone is woven into ones’ fabric. And every now and then, someone comes along who has the power to convey that feeling in their cadence alone. And so all hail Anna St Louis, who lets us into her world of heartache, wonder and a never-ending, never-beginning dance with time. Her album is for the mystics, reminding us that the world is full of magic at every turn, if only we let ourselves see it. Sometimes just by stating a simple observation, St. Louis lets us in on an infinite truth that perhaps we wouldn’t have seen otherwise. To step into the world of Anna St. Louis is to step into a world where the heart leads straight to the soul and where everything is cloaked in beautiful mystery. If Only There Was A River is a record of longing-of a soul reaching for more.” - Kevin Morby.

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Barry says: Brilliant midwest Americana from Anna St. Louis, bringing a more languid form of country than the deep south tend to produce, full of rich, soaring strings and tenderly plucked guitars, forming a beautiful backdrop to St. Lewis' mesmeric voice. Every bit the hazy summer album.

    London-based punk band Sauna Youth are releasing their third album this September under the thrilling and fatal moniker Deaths. The album will once again be released by Upset the Rhythm.

    The final part in a trilogy of LPs that started with Dreamlands in 2012 (wide-eyed, naive beginnings introducing listeners to the world the records inhabit), followed by Distractions three years ago (what happens while you’re heading towards a destination, the unknowns, the unexpected outcomes), the songs that comprise Deaths are collectively about the act of finishing, an ode to ‘the ending’.

    Creating this album was a working research project embodying what is sometimes the hardest part of musical endeavour: completing a record. Making a new album is always daunting, but when all band members also have full-time jobs and other commitments it can also seem logistically impossible. Then there is the nagging, unattainable perfectionism that can draw out a record for months or even years - an experience that didn’t bear repeating. When is something finished? Is finishing necessary to move on?

    The album was created and facilitated through a series of deadlines. The recording studio was booked before any songs had been written. Having a deadline in advance allowed for productive freedom through limitation and finite time: five months to write the album, that was it. This meant meeting every week to write no matter how many members could make it, filling in on each other’s instruments (reminiscent of how side-project Monotony came about: writer’s block in a Sauna Youth practice - removing yourself from your role in a band removes the old expectations) and using automatic writing processes.

    The limited time didn’t allow for much reflection and overworking. Placeholders became final tracks through committing to songs at early stages, keeping them immediate. The album is site and time specific - those months in an archway in Peckham, which live on through samples including amp interference from trains passing overhead. It’s also very much of this specific point in history, influences, and band members’ lives. This process created a tension through trusting decisions and not questioning what was produced.

    The 12 tracks touch on political rhetoric, artistic legacy, action and passivity, work and leisure, and, of course, distraction, referencing many musical genres in the process while never leaving punk’s orbit.

    Creative living becomes more gruelling and endless than the 9 to 5 on ‘Leisure Time’, how freelance living and having multiple jobs both result in no free time. Being in a band is leisure time, but can be a lot of work. Our lives should afford us with time, but we fill it with activity.

    ‘No Personal Space’ looks at the cyclical nature of music, referencing ‘New Rose’ - the first single by a British punk band - via a drumbeat and lyrics, exploring the enclosure of the genre; a blown out recording of practising constantly interrupts the band.

    ‘Percentages’ was written at a point of political and social upheaval and problematizes the use of numbers as a form of proof. Whole groups of people have been reduced to statistics for political reasons, and people use and manipulate statistics to prove any point they want.

    ‘In Flux’ is about whatever is opposite to creativity, what kills it dead, the communication of a song or a piece of art can kill it, even trying to see an idea through to its conclusion can be what kills it.

    The pure pop number ‘Laura’, according to Jonah Falco who mixed the record, sounds like “The Desperate Bicycles went to graduate school in the fields of Salisbury while being yelled at by two sides of their conscience, oddly enough, telling them the exact same thing.”

    ‘Problems’ - a former Monotony song - reduces the punk song to its essential elements, aiming to sound like being inside a brake factory and repeating “Problems” until it has rendered the word completely meaningless.


    The album ends with a wild and playful rejection of patriarchy and a frustration with those who uphold it either willingly or through inaction in the form of the unhinged Theatre 83. It’s like English music hall meets ‘We’re A Happy Family’ by The Ramones.

    Like the previous two albums, Deaths includes writing put to music. ‘Swerve’ and ‘The Patio’ are extracts from a short story written by band member Ecke about the murder of an artist whose estate is overseen by her ambitious sister, and is read by writer and frontperson of Marcel Wave, Maike Hale-Jones.

    Samples are as important as they ever were - this time including the aforementioned electrical interference, recordings of practice and YouTube videos of lawnmowers and cafe noise that people (including members of the band) listen to while working to distract their mind in order to focus.

    An album once finished is frozen in time, solid and no longer resistent or adaptive to outside forces. Does the difficulty to find an end come from the genre, from punk’s revisionist impulse, redoing the same thing over and over? Do we avoid an ending because playing in a band is a distraction from everyday life?

    The album was recorded by John Hannon of No Recording Studios in June 2017 over three days, mixed by Jonah Falco and mastered by Kris Lapke.

    The cover was shot in a garden in Brixton by Owen Richards, who also photographed the covers for the previous albums. Additional artwork provided by R.M. Phoenix. The first 500 copies of the LP version each come with a unique 3 colour screen-print produced by Mince at The Positive Press.

    Sauna Youth is Boon, Mince, Ecke and Pines. They played together in the band Monotony, and between them have played or do play in other bands and music projects including Primitive Parts, Feature, Child’s Pose, Lilac, Cold Pumas, Oblate, Teufelskreis, Mind Jail, Gold Foil, Tense Men as well as being involved with the organisations Good Night Out, The Positive Press, Constant Flux & Heart n Soul.


    STAFF COMMENTS

    Barry says: Another crashing punk assault from Sauna Youth with thudding kick drums, fuzzed guitars and snarling, spitting vox akimbo. Yet another reason for this London 4-piece to enter your collection, as if there aren't enough already.

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    Coloured LP Info: 180g limited colour vinyl + poster – 500 only for the world.

    Not long after recording her 10th album, Ruins, Liz Harris traveled to Wyoming to work on art and record music. She found herself drawn towards the pairing of skeletal piano phrasing with spare, rich bursts of vocal harmony.

    A series of stark songs emerged, minimal and vulnerable, woven with emotive silences. Inspired by “the idea that something is missing or cold,” the pieces float and fade like vignettes, implying as much as they reveal. She describes them as “small texts hanging in space,” impressions of mortality, melody, and the unseen – fleeting beauty, interrupted. Grid Of Points stands as a concise and potently poetic addition to the Grouper catalog.

    From Liz Harris: Grid Of Points is a set of songs for piano and voice. I wrote these songs over a week and a half; they stopped abruptly when I was interrupted by a high fever. Though brief, it is complete. The intimacy and abbreviation of this music allude to an essence that the songs lyrics speak more directly of. The space left after matter has departed, a stage after the characters have gone, the hollow of some central column,
    missing. 


    STAFF COMMENTS

    Barry says: Simmering slow piano, beautiful layered vocals and cavernous reverb all form together to make this one of Harris' most enthralling outings to date. Perfectly tender but undeniably hard-hitting, these pieces are brimming with emotional heft and speckled with moments of spine-tingling beauty. Stunning.

    El Paso’s Holy Wave will release their new album, Adult Fear via The Reverberation Appreciation Society. The band have always differentiated themselves from the psych pack with their keyboard-forward sound that rarely falls into standard trippy tropes, and the album’s title track is a good example of that, with a grooving bassline and nice harmonies in the chorus.

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Mine says: On 'Adult Fear', the Texans' 4th LP, Holy Wave continue doing what they do best: dreamy, foot-tapping psychedelia that makes you forget the world around you. Pure bliss!

    In search of the sublime, contemporary electronic musician Steve Hauschildt has designed grids and panoramas of sound across multiple releases through the rise and dissolution of his former band, Emeralds, an American touchstone of 2000s home-recorded psychedelic noise music. Consistent with his solo work is Hauschildt’s ability to coil his craft in precise, varied, and distinctly physical forms. Gently spinning arpeggios converse with post-industrial decay. Sonic fibers sway like pendulums from static melancholy to motorik bliss. Dissolvi, the artist’s first full-length with Ghostly International, engages sublimation from an ontological perspective: by dissociating the self. Hauschildt steps out from the singular path, for the first time in a traditional studio, to compose and arrange contributions from friends. As a result, his most collaborative work to date extends a vast, vibrating framework in which to consider the state of being.

    The album's title — a reference to cupio dissolvi, the Latin phrase meaning "I wish to be dissolved" — needn't be taken one-dimensionally or as purely solipsistic. It does, however, serve an apt reference. Physiological phenomena are of interest to Hauschildt. These back-of-mind ruminations find their way out. Songs are cerebral in orientation, but beyond explanation, the music is truly visceral.

    Involuntary eye movement inspires the serene, sanguine-nearing-suspicious "Saccade." Hauschildt feathers soft percussion beneath the echoed refrains of Los Angeles musician Julianna Barwick, together shaping a svelte suggestion of the anxieties brought about by modern-day surveillance; if everyone is being watched constantly, there is no individual, no self, only a broadly monitored and clumsily cataloged populous. The work of Chicago poet Carl Sandburg comes to mind: “I am the people—the mob—the crowd—the mass.” The individual dissolves into the taxonomic crowd.

    Minimalist techno impulses provide a stylistic through-line for Dissolvi. Understated synth phrases and drum grooves take hold in selective moments, like synchronistic structures onto which nebulous mists, like the rapturous voice of Gabrielle Herbst aka GABI on "Syncope," cling to and cloud, producing a dazzling rift in consciousness. The 7-minute centerpiece "Alienself" reiterates this creative logic, burbling like an amorphous body of water on a low-gravity planet, on the verge of dissolving, but never fully dematerializing.

    The album was constructed in Chicago (where Hauschildt now resides) and partially in New York. "Much of it was recorded in a windowless studio which removed elemental or seasonal references to time in the music," says Hauschildt. "The focus this time was on mixing the album and incorporating a broader set of instrumentation. I describe my compositional approach as being quasi-generative." Embracing new methods and philosophical curiosities, and in turn, expanding the range of his repertoire, Hauschildt proposes a fascinating and profoundly rich experience in listening, being, and deliquescing.


    STAFF COMMENTS

    Barry says: There really is nothing Hauschildt has ever made that hasn't floored me, and the new one, 'Dissolvi' is no different. A little more driven than the previous duo, rolling arpeggios and beautiful simmering pads form together into a transportative and hypnotic journey. Another absolute stormer from Hauschildt. Superb.

    A highly personalised sociopathic gem delivered as a futuristic rewriting of how music works, a melodious breeze with a tail wind of venomous din. A ten-track album, her tenth studio set.

    Enveloping the juxtaposition of the concept of ‘dark sunshine’, a brooding solo record creating with friends to expand her off-kilter sonic vision; a squally, squeaky mix of discordant beauty.

    Feedback and phasing gyrate from simply strummed normality, imagine Dinosaur Jr and My Bloody Valentine cranking up a Dylan couplet. Messing with both extremes of the sonic spectrum: atonal and arrhythmic, a unique sound and a glorious return to form for one of alternative rock’s true innovators.

    “Sometimes the most subversive thing I can do musically is adhere to standard song structure, sometimes the creepiest chords are the ones we’ve heard before, twisted into different shapes, and sometimes a story is lived a thousand times before we can ride it like a roller coaster. Nothing wholly unfamiliar is gonna make you look twice. When you can describe a record as being “deceptively” anything, you’re hinting at the sociopathic nature of music. Something I love. Imagine truly buying your own sunshine and charm, but also your darkness and violence; the two sides of your psychology showing each other off in relief. Songs can do that...we can’t, really. Darkness we’ve seen.” Kristin Hersh, July 2018.

    “She's still as powerful a presence as she ever was.” Pitchfork

    “The prodigious output and commitment to quality is pretty staggering, but then Kristin Hersh is a very, very special musician.” The Quietus.

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Barry says: Brilliantly noisy fuzzed-out rock, simmering post-punk attitude mixed with motorik rhythms, hypnotic repetition and Hersh's vocals, twisted and delayed into oblivion. Perfectly lucid in intervals, but speckled with noisy, brassy drones and heavy AF bass thuds.

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    Coloured LP Info: Silver coloured vinyl LP is for Indie stores only.

    Jassbusters is Connan Mockasin’s third album and first in five years. An unclassifiable, unconventional album that neither picks up from nor abandons the modes of 2013’s widely-embraced Caramel or its 2010 predecessor Forever Dolphin Love, Jassbusters foreshadows a five-part melodrama film titled Bostyn 'n Dobsyn, created by Mockasin.

    Jassbusters soundtracks the unpredictable narrative of the film in eclectic, electric ways.

    Whether bending genres or collaborating with artists like James Blake, MGMT, and Charlotte Gainsbourg, Connan Mockasin has always maneuvered in mysterious ways. After touring with the likes of Radiohead and Neil & Liam Finn (Crowded House), the R&B surrealist continues assembling a cult around his theater, nay spectacle of life with Bostyn ’n Dobsyn screenings and Jassbusters performances throughout October and November 2018.

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Barry says: Smooth as silk, Connan Mockasin smashes out some softly sung utterances and syncopated jazzy flourishes on his newest LP for the excellent Mexican Summer. Weirdo R&B meets with shimmering lounge and almost-vertical soul in this thoroughly entertaining suite. Brilliant.

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    Indies Exclusive LP Info: Limited edition vinyl includes a deluxe fold-out poster.

    Indies Exclusive LP includes MP3 Download Code.

    99 - Mass Gothic

    I've Tortured You Enough

      I've Tortured You Long Enough is the tongue-in-cheek title of Mass Gothic's second album. Husband/wife duo Noel Heroux and Jessica Zambri have always dipped in and out of each other's creative spaces, advising on their respective outputs and supporting one another. But, until this record, they had never completely committed to doing an entire album as a duo, sharing an equal load. The result is a record packed with the tension, chaos and beauty of a fluid and cathartic two-way conversation. In a universe that increasingly threatens our abilities to communicate and coexist, their creative union isn't just inspired but important.

      When Heroux put out Mass Gothic’s 2016 debut, following the end of his prior band, Hooray for Earth, he did so as a solo entity. Plagued by insecurities and anxieties, Heroux wasn't ready to deal with putting his trust and confidence into another shared project. So what changed? He can't exactly pinpoint when the phrase “I've tortured you long enough” came to him, but it became a mantra, almost a premonition. He had tortured his own psyche long enough, and was particularly in need of forcing himself out of his comfort zone and letting go of that prior stubbornness. And the phrase has a broader application, too. “It covers so many bases but it's taken on extra meaning in the past couple of years when everybody is at each other's throats, frustrated and confused all the time,” Heroux explains.

      Heroux and Zambri wrote I’ve Tortured You Long Enough while bouncing around the country without a place to call home. From working in a rented cabin in upstate New York, to living out of a car with a duffel bag of clothes, to crashing with their co-producer Josh Ascalon in LA, to ditching a mixed version of the album and rerecording the whole thing, the band worked tirelessly while their lives were totally in flux. “Maybe we wouldn't have been able to do it if we were anchored at home. We were forced into it. Jess was trying to open me up and if we could have just sat on a couch and thrown on the TV it probably wouldn't have worked.” The album was ultimately recorded in Brooklyn with Rick Kwan, and Chris Coady mixed the record and Heba Kadry mastered it.

      The final product recalls the frantic energy of Animal Collective and the celestial torch-bearing of Bat for Lashes, and reveals a remarkable arc. It begins from a place of uncertainty, disquiet, and self-doubt, and concludes with the comfort in knowing that you can be both independent and successful in a relationship.

      FORMAT INFORMATION

      Coloured LP Info: Mint coloured Loser edition Vinyl!!

      Coloured LP includes MP3 Download Code.

      Like all DJ Koze records, "Knock Knock" exists outside of trend and influence. In fact, it's a step further beyond: absolutely every single thing here, from grooves to voices to handclaps, is otherworldly and unique. Which is not to say it is utterly alien abstraction, mind. There is still disco, there is still soul, there is still techno, there is still hip hop, there is still psychedelia – there are even wafts of easy listening, lost crackly thriftstore record memories and... sort of... indie rock – but though it may sound familiar, it never does what your brain thinks it's going to do.

      Likewise with the voices. More than ever before on Koze's records, there are fascinating, individualist – and well-known – voices throughout "Knock Knock" but again, each of them is rendered strange, drawn into a different reality Bon Iver's ghostly hymnals on “Bonfire” are very recognizably Bon Iver, but the way they twist and merge with synthetic sounds until choir and computer are writhing around one another in bliss are something else. The ever-unique Róisín Murphy, on two stunning tracks, becomes a cyborg funk diva. Speech from Arrested Development delivers luscious and lazy R&B-funk on “Colors of Autumn”, but Koze's warping bass, dubwise echo and alien nature sounds take it to an alternate dimension tropical landscape. Kurt Wagner of Lambchop is a vocoder bohemian, Sophia Kennedy is a sci-fi Weimar cabaret star, José Gonzalez a holographic projection from an old film of South Sea Islands... on it goes, nothing is real, everyone is an inhabitant of Koze-world.

      And that's what is crucial here. Koze is a world-maker. You don't get to chose how you hear his music – you enter his world or you don't, that's it. And that's why individual influences, whether it's the trippy German techno that's always rippled through is albums or the beat-scene abstract hip hop that he incorporated into his DJ-Kicks mix in 2015, are all but irrelevant. Though he'd never compare himself to anyone else, Koze only makes sense in the way that other world-builders do, from Bowie to Sun Ra, Outkast to Kate Bush. And Knock Knock is far and away his greatest statement of that. It's an album that came together slowly and steadily, his working processes arcane and mysterious in their steady accumulation of sound and inspiration. It's so complete and bursting with detail and consistency from every micro-second that you'd swear it was meticulously planned – but there was no masterplan, do desire to create a definitive artefact: the record itself decided when it was ready. And now it is ready, the most perfectly constructed portal into that other world, you had better be ready too!


      FORMAT INFORMATION

      2xLtd LP Info: Double vinyl plus bonus 7".

      2xLtd LP includes MP3 Download Code.


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