MAGIC MIX

END OF YEAR REVIEW 2019

TOP 100 ALBUMS

After a musical year hot enough to melt the Piccadilly clap-o-meter, we went back to the ballot box to bring you the Top 100 Albums of 2019, as chosen by your favourite record vendors.

W.H. Lung's fabulous fusion of synth-pop, art-rock and motorik magic took the gold for 2019, uniting the staff in starry-eyed delight. Permanent favourite Horsebeach made it a hometown one-two, while Andrew Wasylyk, Vanishing Twin and Lorelle Meets The Obsolete round out the top five in style.

And speaking of style, whether you dig on hip hop or punk rock, synth or psych, jazz, funk, folk or indie, your new favourite record lurks somewhere within this list… Happy listening.

Piccadilly Records Compilation 2019
Do not adjust your sets / swap your reading specs, we've gone and done another record! After the success of last year's inaugural Piccadilly vinyl, we've worked our magic once again to bring you another compilation LP, jam packed with musical magic from our top 20, as well as the gold medallists in the reissue and compilation categories. All for the bargain price of £9.99!
'Piccadilly Records Compilation 2019' is available to order here now.

Piccadilly Records Sampler
Now for some important FREEBIE info!! After taking a year off we're reintroducing the Free End Of Year Sampler CD for 2019. With a blockbusting 20 tracks including the likes of Khruangbin, Girl Ray, Tenesha The Wordsmith, J-Walk, Blanck Mass, DIIV, International Teachers Of Pop, Mort Garson, Rupa, Horsebeach, Moon Duo, Crazy P and more, it's another cross genre gem. Just the way we like it!
It's free with the Top 50 album, Top 20 Compilations and Top 20 Reissues (whilst stock last!)

Check out these links to see our other Best Of 2019 Charts:
Click HERE for the Piccadilly Top 20 Compilations 2019
Click HERE for the Piccadilly Top 20 Reissues / Collections 2019

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

1 - W.H. Lung

Incidental Music - Piccadilly Exclusive Bonus Disc Edition

    THE PICCADILLY RECORDS ALBUM OF THE YEAR 2019.

    PICCADILLY RECORDS EXCLUSIVE: 
    For a limited period only, buy either the vinyl or CD of 'Incidental Music' and get a free 8 track remix 
    CD bonus disc

    W. H. Lung’s arrival at their debut album has been less conventional than most. A trait shared with the music they make, which weaves between shimmering synth pop and the infectious grooves of 70’s Berlin. The band never had any intention of playing live when forming, aiming instead to be a primarily studio-based project. 

    That approach was challenged when they released their debut 10” ('Inspiration!/Nothing Is') in 2017, which meant that they were quickly in demand. Booking requests started to flood in and W. H. Lung found themselves cutting their teeth on festival stages that summer. Though whilst some new bands may have let that interest change the course of the project, W. H. Lung stayed true to their original reticence and worked mainly as a studio band with their formidable live shows kept sporadic.

    W. H. Lung have allowed this album to naturally gestate over the course of two years . The result is a remarkably considered debut - the production is crisp and pristine but not over-polished, the synths and electronics radiate and hum with a golden aura and the vocals weave between tender delivery and forceful eruptions. There is a palpable energy to the songs, as experienced in 10 glorious minutes of opening statement 'Simpatico People'.
    “I think it’s important to erase the distinction between ‘high’ and ‘low’ culture,” states Joseph E. This colliding of worlds not only exists in the potent mix between whip-smart arrangements, lyrics and seamlessly danceable music but also in the fact that they are named after a cash and carry in Manchester. As Tom P. explains, “I thought it was funny juxtaposing those kind of austere associations with W. H. Auden and other initialed poets, writers, artists, etc. with the fact that it’s really just a Chinese supermarket.”

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Mine says: Like a joint effort from Talking Heads and Neu! thrown head first into 2019 with an extra portion of shimmery beats and hooks. Play it LOUD!

    Darryl says: One of the most assured and confident Mancunian debuts of the past few decades, ‘Incidental Music’ is a dream of a Piccadilly Records album. With its sparkling synth laden grooves, motorik beats, sweeping electronics, crisp guitar lines and a hazy psychedelic soundscape it’s no surprise that it’s united both the indie and dance staff divide and taken the number one spot this year. Two years in the making, this is a euphoric and fully-formed masterpiece.

    Emily says: Around this time last year I found myself in Soup Kitchen’s basement with the rest of the Piccadilly crew, absorbed in what was unfolding onstage. A magnetic frontman was delivering half sung, half spoken vocals over a kaleidoscopic haze of synths and a propulsive motorik beat. It seems fitting that the group we were watching, W.H. Lung, are now sitting at the top of our chart a year later. The homegrown Manchester trio have coalesced a series of hypnotic, synth fuelled krautrock grooves into their first full length release ‘Incidental Music’. In it, they strike a perfect balance between taking reference from the past and keeping their gaze tilted towards the future. Well worth a listen!

    Barry says: It's clear from the first moments of 'Incidental Music' that the title couldn't be any less true, moving from soaring echoing kosmische into a groove-led psychedelic soup in the blink of an eye. Rich in rhythm but still undeniably melody-led, W.H. Lung are at the top for the important reason that they are something different to everyone, and everything they are is undeniably brilliant.

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    Ltd LP Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.
    Black 180g double LP in gatefold jacket.
    Includes a Piccadilly exclusive free CD bonus disc.

    Ltd LP includes MP3 Download Code.

    CD Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.
    Includes a Piccadilly exclusive free CD bonus disc.

    Manchester songwriter Ryan Kennedy returns with his fourth album "The Unforgiving Current". Recorded in and around Tokyo hotel rooms, apartments and studios, the album is a badly lit stroll through Tokyo's winding streets, stopping in only the most questionable bars. Despite its seemingly overpopulated centres, there is often a strange isolation. This Isolation would be the fuel behind "the Unforgiving Current".

    After moving to Tokyo early 2018 Kennedy began work on the album. Amidst language and work issues his rosey outlook soon dimmed and what follows is Kennedy's exploration and loneliness in this foreign land. Previous musical similarities may be unearthed but what runs through this record is a vein of (dare I say) mature introspection which sets it apart from previous works.

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Patrick says: As a man who’s only made it 14 miles in 33 years, I was suitably awestruck when Manchester’s favourite dreamer swapped the greyscale drizzle of his hometown for the 45° summer of Tokyo. Oppressive heat and impressive toilets weren’t the only cause for culture shock though, and despite an intermediate grasp of the language and a really good haircut, Ryan Kennedy quickly tasted the loneliness of a long distance runner. But it’s better to be Alone Together and the Horsebeach discography has always had a therapeutic angle; sonic salve for psychological bruising – take daily for the rest of your life.
    So unpacking his mini studio and opening the notebook, the bedroom auteur embarked on his mid-career masterpiece, plunging into lyrical depths on existence, ennui, affection and introspection. His voice, still coloured with the disarming fragility of old, is more mature and confident and the music keeps getting higher and higher. Shades of psychedelia lend a paisley tint to opening volley “‘Net Café Refuge” and “The Unforgiving Current”, while “Dreaming” and “Mourning Thoughts” infuse chiming indie with baggy rhythms and Marvin Gaye grooves. Drum machines and dream pop take the lead at the midpoint, first on the lovestruck “Vanessa” and then in the coastal cool of Balearic combo “Yuuki” and “Trust”, the latter especially indulging in its own brand of louche funk. The final three tracks mark a triumphant return to the pensive jangle and C86 haze of the earliest Horsebeach work, an emphatic reminder that you have to go away before you can come home.

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    Coloured LP Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.
    Limited clear vinyl.

    CD Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.

    Andrew Wasylyk is the alias of Scottish writer, producer and multi-instrumentalist, Andrew Mitchell.

    In 2018, Andrew was extended a residency invite from arts centre and historic house, Hospitalfield, Arbroath, Scotland to create new music for their restored, 19th century, Erard Grecian harp.
    During Wasylyk's five-month sojourn he created melodies and progressions echoing the building's unique relationship with the looming North Sea horizon. Using not only the harp, but the house's original grand piano, Andrew explored the Angus landscape and beyond, gathering field recordings on trips to neighbouring Seaton Cliffs and Bell Rock Lighthouse (the world's oldest surviving sea-washed lighthouse).
    Winter slipped into spring, and harp-led compositions gave way to an ambitious third, full-length album, exploring a range of themes utilising a broad palette of instrumentation, including flugelhorn, euphonium, oboe, string trio, vintage synthesisers, drones and upright piano.

    From the wandering, Bob James-esque, Fender Rhodes and shimmering strings in the study of coastal light, "(Welter) In The Haar", to the plaintive brass and farewell transmission blowing through, "Adrift Below A Constellation", punctuated by the fragility of Wasylyk's sole lead vocal of this collection - "The Paralian" (a dweller by the sea), is a conclusion embued with blue and golden melodies that land in a territory akin to experimentalists such as Robert Wyatt and Brian Eno. Through which, Wasylyk weaves the listener along a Modern-classical, Ambient and Jazz dream of Scotland's east coast.

    Athens Of The North team were stunned by the luminous beauty and creativity at play in this work. Falling between genres and time, it stands next to 60s British Jazz, effortlessly blending notes of Library and soundtracks with dashes of British Folk.

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Barry says: Athens Of The North have always been a big hit in the shop, with their jazzy hazy folk offerings proving particularly popular (Hampshire & Foat come instantly to mind), but nothing has quite hit home like the mind-blowing debut from ‘Andrew Wasylyk’ (aka Dundee’s Andrew Mitchell). From the outset, the paddling ambience and perfectly weighted piano of “Through The Field Beyond The Trees Lies The Ocean” sets the scene perfectly for the lysergic journey that is ‘The Paralian’. While “Greendrive #2” slowly ambles from plucked harp (I mean really, it could be anything, the last time I spoke to him he was off picking up a vibraphone because it’s yet another sound to shape into the electro-acoustic narrative he so perfectly forms) into a meandering percussive stroll through the Scottish countryside, it’s follower “Journey To Inchcape” that forms the peak of this narrative microclimate. Slowly swelling horns and reverbed CR-78 work away beneath the melancholic woodwind and shimmering guitar, hinting at sorrow, but working through it with a combination of otherworldly, soothing ambience and momentous stoicism. Later, we explore the same story arcs, but with each stroke rendering a broader and more colourful palette. The slightly tense “Flight Of The Cormorant” for instance giving way to the anxiolytic majesty of “Mariner’s Hymn” by way of the brittle “Westway Nocturne”, dispelling all tension and making every moment of dispirited majesty all the more necessary. ‘The Paralian’ is a masterwork, and an unbeatable way to spend a winter evening.

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    LP Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.

    'Vanishing Twin is songwriter, singer and multi-instrumentalist Cathy Lucas, drummer Valentina Magaletti, bassist Susumu Mukai, synth/guitar player Phil MFU and visual artist/film maker Elliott Arndt on flute and percussion; and on this album they have made their first artistic statement for the ages. Some of its great power comes from liberation. The album was produced by Lucas in a number of non-standard, non-studio settings. ‘KRK (At Home In Strange Places)’ summons up the spirit of Sun Ra’s Lanquidity and Broadcast And The Focus Group Investigate Witch Cults Of The Radio was simply recorded on an iPhone during a live set which crackled with psychic connectivity on the Croatian island of Krk. The magical Morricone-esque lounge of ‘You Are Not an Island’, the blissed-out Jean-Claude Vannier style arrangement of ‘Invisible World’ and burbling sci fi funk ode to a 1972 cult French animation, ‘Planète Sauvage’, were all recorded in nighttime sessions in an abandoned mill in Sudbury.

    The only two outsiders to work on the recording were ‘6th member’ and engineer Syd Kemp and trusted friend Malcolm Catto, band leader of the spiritual jazz/future funk outfit The Heliocentrics, who mixed seven of the tracks (with Lucas taking care of the other three). Vanishing Twin formed in 2015 - their first LP, Choose Your Own Adventure, which came out on Soundway in 2016; followed by the darker, more abstract, mostly instrumental Dream By Numbers EP in 2017. The band explored their more experimental tendencies on the Magic And Machines tape released by Blank Editions in 2018, an improvised session recorded in the dead of night, offering a glimpse into their practice of deep listening, near band telepathy, and ritually improvised sound making. These sessions formed the basis of The Age Of Immunology.

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Emily says: Vanishing Twin have returned this year with a second album of transcendent psychedelic pop. Drawing on far reaching influences in a similar manner to Stereolab, they incorporate elements of krautrock, tropicália and lounge into their expansive soundworld. The comparisons which can be drawn between the two bands are abundant - you can even hear echoes of Lætitia Sadier in Cathy Lucas’ pure, unaffected lead vocals. But the output of Vanishing Twin is not simply derivative. Its members are unique artists in their own right, and their collective sound already bears its own significance.
    Listening to ‘The Age Of Immunology’ feels like drifting off to a strange, mythological world somewhere in the unknown depths of space. Each track glides effortlessly into the next and is steeped in dreamlike imagery. In “KRK (At Home In Strange Places)” Lucas’ vocals weave around a loose, polyrhythmic groove and soaring string arrangements. The acoustic guitar steadily sets the pulse in “You Are Not An Island”, suspended above gently glowing electronics and hints of Reichian minimalism. And “Planète Sauvage” is an ode to the cult animated sci-fi film of the same name, featuring a french spoken word monologue which gives way to cinematic strings and a curious synth-organ solo.
    It seems Vanishing Twin are a group intent on creating music that defies borders and dissolves genre into genre. Perhaps they fit into an alternative definition of “World Music”, with their influences which reach as far around the globe as their combined nationalities - Belgian, Japanese, Italian, French and American. Who knows where their psychedelic voyage will take them next? For now, let’s delight in their twinkling, cosmic splendour.

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    Picture Disc Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.
    Limited edition indies-only Cream and Black swirl picture disc.

    LP Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.

    CD Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.

    5 - Lorelle Meets The Obsolete

    De Facto

    Mexican duo Lorelle Meets The Obsolete release their new album De Facto on January 11, 2019. The album, their fifth, was recorded at their home studio in Ensenada, Baja California, mixed by Cooper Crain (of Cave and Bitchin Bajas) and mastered by Mikey Young (of Eddy Current Suppression Ring and Total Control). It’s easily their best and most coherent album to date, and also the one that fully explores the outer limits of their sound. “There was a conscious desire to push further with what we were doing,” says The Obsolete, aka Alberto González. “One of our rules for this album was to go all in without middle grounds in terms of what we wanted the songs to be. We were committed to developing ideas that made our heads go ‘POW!’ from the beginning.” The end result is somewhere between the brave experimentation of the new Low album, Double Negative, and Tender Buttons-era Broadcast put through a heavy psych filter. There are pure pop songs that come across like lost ’60s nuggets (‘Linéas En Hojas’), blistering white noise jams (‘Unificado’) and meditative incantations (‘La Maga’) – all of which will, indeed, make heads go ‘POW!’

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Martin says: Perhaps the best thing anyone can do with a legacy is build on it. A change of scene certainly helps to avoid getting stuck in the ever diminishing returns of routine, churning out the same result every time, but with ever less inspiration. So when Lorelle Meets The Obsolete swapped the sprawling chaos of Mexico City for the wide open Baja peninsula, Mexico’s remaining bit of California, it turned out to be a very smart move. The formal inclusion of members of their live band, drummer Andrea Davi, José Orozco on synthesizer and bassist Fernando Nuti, into the creative process broadened the sonic palette still more, with the net result that their fifth album, often a marker by which time only diehards have maintained any interest, is their most fully realised and beautiful to date.
    It’s not as if they’ve abandoned their past mind. Wigout wildness is still very much to the fore in “Unificado”, for example, but change is apparent after the crawling menace of album opener “Ana”. “Líneas en Hojas” introduces itself with a bassline on the verge of breaking into “Billie Jean”, gritty guitar lines and pretty distorted vocals before a bright, clear chorus sends a shaft of light and warmth through the clouds. Perhaps the album’s highlight however is the mesmerising “La Maga”, where the gentle rolling shimmer of the opening three minutes shifts into a drifting, sunset glide of undulating keyboards and repeating guitars that build softly on...and on...

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    Coloured LP Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.
    Grey coloured vinyl.

    CD Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.

    Shana Cleveland has been beguiling listeners for years in her role as the superlative frontwoman for elastic surf rockers La Luz. Now Cleveland is evolving her sound on the new solo full-length Night of the Worm Moon, a serene album that flows like a warm current while simultaneously wresting open a portal to another dimension. As much a work of California sci-fi as Octavia Butler’s Parable novels, Night of the Worm Moon incorporates everything from alternate realities to divine celestial bodies. Inspired in part by one of her musical idols, the Afro-futurist visionary Sun Ra (the album’s title is a tip of the hat to his 1970 release Night of the Purple Moon), the record blends pastoral folk with cosmic concerns.

    Cleveland dreamt up this premise while living in Los Angeles, a city where--as deftly explored on La Luz’s recent Floating Features--reality and fantasy casually co-exist. Abetting Cleveland during the recording process was a familiar gallery of co-conspirators: multi-instrumentalist Will Sprott of Shannon & the Clams, original La Luz bassist Abbey Blackwell, Goss, pedal steel player Olie Eshelman, and Kristian Garrard, who drummed on Cleveland’s previous solo effort (with then-backing band The Sandcastles), 2011’s Oh Man, Cover the Ground.

    But whereas that album was internal and contemplative, Night of the Worm Moon occupies a different, vibrant kind of headspace. UFO sightings, insect carcasses, and twilight dimensions are all grist for Cleveland’s restless creativity, and they and other inspirations collide beautifully on the album’s 10 kaleidoscopic tracks--a spacebound transmission from America’s weirdo frontier.

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Javi says: ‘Night of the Worm Moon’ is as much an album of acoustic lullabies as it is of shifting ethereal nightmares - and it’s this balance between the beautiful and the unnerving which allows Shana Cleveland’s ruminations on sleep, love, and identity to be so beguiling.
    “Don’t Let Me Sleep” pulls us gently into this nocturnal world full of harps, zithers, vibraphones and lutes before second track and album highlight “Face of the Sun” trembles in, lilting between Latin guitar rhythms and wailing slide guitar. There are such nods to spaghetti western soundtracks throughout the album, in both the instrumentation and the slow, trundling tempo of tracks like “Solar Creep” and masterful “Invisible When The Sun Leaves”.
    That’s not to say the album is a wholly analogue affair, though - the synth bass and eerie affected whistles of “The Fireball” are just as poignant as the more stripped back moments. At times the bass sounds like it’s going to swallow the song whole, lending a sense of intense anxiety to the proceedings, sucking the listener in.
    If La Luz are the sound of bright summer days spent surfing and swimming in the sun, then ‘Night of the Worm Moon’ - the debut solo offering by frontwoman Shana Cleveland - shows us a parallel world that only appears once the sun has set and the stars have taken its place in the sky. From the first tender plucks to the final twilit twinkles, Cleveland has crafted an album as warm as it is melancholy, and as intimate as it is intoxicating.

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    Coloured LP Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.
    First 300 copies on indies exclusive coloured vinyl.

    Coloured LP includes MP3 Download Code.

    CD Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.

    After scoring a breakout success (and Piccadilly End Of Year nod) with their debut LP "On", Altın Gün return with an exhilarating second album. “Gece” firmly establishes the band as essential interpreters of the Anatolian rock and folk legacy and as a leading voice in the emergent global psych-rock scene. Explosive, funky and transcendent.  The world is rarely what it seems. A quick glance doesn’t always reveal the full truth. To find that, you need to burrow deeper. Listen to Altın Gün, for example: they sound utterly Turkish, but only one of the Netherlands based band’s six members was actually born there. And while their new album, Gece, is absolutely electric, filled with funk-like grooves and explosive psychedelic textures, what they play - by their own estimation - is folk music. “It really is,” insists band founder and bass player Jasper Verhulst. “The songs come out of a long tradition. This is music that tries to be a voice for a lot of other people.”

    While most of the material here has been a familiar part of Turkish life for many years - some of it associated with the late national icon Neşet Ertaş – it’s definitely never been heard like this before. This music is electric Turkish history, shot through with a heady buzz of 21st century intensity. Pumping, flowing, a new and leading voice in the emergent global psych scene. “We do have a weak spot for the music of the late ‘60s and ‘70s,” Verhulst admits. “With all the instruments and effects that arrived then, it was an exciting time. Everything was new, and it still feels fresh. We’re not trying to copy it, but these are the sounds we like and we’re trying to make them our own.”

    And what they create really is theirs. Altın Gün radically reimagine an entire tradition. The electric saz (a three-string Turkish lute) and voice of Erdinç Ecevit (who has Turkish roots) is urgent and immediately distinctive, while keyboards, guitar, bass, drums, and percussion power the surging rhythms and Merve Daşdemir (born and raised in Istanbul) sings with the mesmerizing power of a young Grace Slick. This isn’t music that seduces the listener: it demands attention.

    Altın Gün – the name translates as “golden day” - are focused, relentless and absolutely assured in what they do. What is remarkable is the band has only existed for two years and didn’t play in public until November 2017; now they have almost 200 shows under their belt. It all grew from Verhulst’s obsession with Turkish music. He’d been aware of it for some time but a trip to Istanbul while playing in another band gave him the chance to discover so much more. But Verhulst wasn’t content to just listen, he had a vision for what the music could be. And Altın Gün was born. “For me, finding out about this music is crate digging,” he admits. “None of it is widely available in the Netherlands. Of course, since our singers are Turkish, they know many of these pieces. All this is part of the country’s musical past, their heritage, like 'House of The Rising Sun' is in America.” As Verhulst delves deeper and deeper into old Turkish music, he’s constantly seeking out things that grab his ear.

    “I’m listening for something we can change and make into our own. You have to understand that most of these songs have had hundreds of different interpretations over the years. We need something that will make people stop and listen, as if it’s the first time they’ve heard it.” It’s a testament to Altın Gün’s work and vision that everything on Gece sounds so cohesive. They bring together music from many different Anatolian sources (the only original is the improvised piece “Şoför Bey”) so that it bristles with the power and tightness of a rock band; echoing new textures and radiating a spectrum of vibrant color (ironic, as gece means “night” in Turkish). It’s the sound of a band both committed to its sources and excitedly transforming them. It’s the sound of Altın Gün. Incandescent and sweltering.

    Creating the band’s sound is very much a collaborative process, Verhulst explains. “Sometimes me or the singer will come in with a demo of our ideas. Sometimes an idea will just come up and we’ll work on it together at rehearsals. However we start, it’s always finished by the whole band. We can feel very quickly if it’s going to work, if this is really our song.” Just how Altın Gün can collectively spark and burn is evident in the YouTube concert video they made for the legendary Seattle radio station KEXP. In just under 20 minutes they set out their irresistible manifesto for an electrified, contemporary Turkish folk rock. It’s utterly compelling. And with around 800,000 views, it has helped make them known around the world. “It certainly got us a lot of attention,” Verhulst agrees. “I think a lot of that interest originally came from Turkey, plenty of people there shared it.”

    That might be how it began, but it’s not the whole tale. The waves have spread far beyond the Bosphorus. What started out as a deep passion for Turkish folk and psychedelia has taken on a resonance that now travels widely. The band has played all over Europe, has ventured to Turkey and Australia and will soon bring their music to North America for the first time. “Not a lot of other bands are doing what we do,” he says, “playing songs in that style and seeing folk music in the same way.”

    Altın Gün are: Ben Rider (guitar) / Daniel Smienk (drums) / Erdinç Ecevit (synths, saz, vocals) / Gino Groenveld (percussion) / Jasper Verhulst (electric bass) / Merve Daşdemir (vocals, keys)

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Mine says: Almost exactly one year after their debut album ‘On’ has taken us by storm, Altin Gün return with their follow-up ‘Gece’, on which the six piece continue their journey through the vast and wonderful world of Turkish folk, funk and psychedelia - more of the same, but different, so to speak. Similar to ‘On’, ‘Gece’ sees the band reinterpret old Turkish folk songs by the likes of Ne?et Erta? and the result has not only impressed fans of Turkish music. In fact, a lot of their fans outside Turkey have probably never heard any of the originals before and while Altin Gün pay homage to these artists, their interpretations don’t bear much resemblance to the originals after they’ve been given a new lease of life by the Dutch-based band. Groovy bass lines, cosmic synths and wah wah guitars melt into an addictive concoction of Anatolian rock, funk and psychedelia which has been taken a step further on ‘Gece’ where the band seem eager to try new things and to develop their sound. The record sounds bigger and bolder, sometimes fuzzier and rockier, sometimes more electronic and spaced out than its predecessor. Both are absolutely brilliant and I couldn’t pick a favourite, but if you have enjoyed ‘On’ there is no question you will also like ‘Gece’. And if you’ve never heard of Altin Gün before, give ‘Gece’ a spin. It’s an absolute delight.

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    LP Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.

    CD Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.

    It was on a mountainside in Cumbria that the first whispers of Cate Le Bon’s fifth studio album poked their buds above the earth. “There’s a strange romanticism to going a little bit crazy and playing the piano to yourself and singing into the night,” she says, recounting the year living solitarily in the Lake District which gave way to Reward. By day, ever the polymath, Le Bon painstakingly learnt to make solid wood tables, stools and chairs from scratch; by night she looked to a second-hand Meers - the first piano she had ever owned - for company, “windows closed to absolutely everyone”, and accidentally poured her heart out. The result is an album every bit as stylistically varied, surrealistically-inclined and tactile as those in the enduring outsider’s back catalogue, but one that is also intensely introspective and profound; her most personal to date.

    This sense of privacy maintained throughout is helped by the various landscapes within which Reward took shape: Stinson Beach, LA, and Brooklyn via Cardiff and The Lakes. Recording at Panoramic House [Stinson Beach, CA], a residential studio on a mountain overlooking the ocean, afforded Le Bon the ability to preserve the remoteness she had captured during the writing of Reward in Staveley, Lake District.

    Over this extended period a cast of trusted and loved musicians joined Le Bon, Khouja and fellow co-producer Josiah Steinbrick - Stella Mozgawa (of Warpaint) on drums and percussion; Stephen Black (aka Sweet Baboo) on bass and saxophone and longtime collaborators Huw Evans (aka H.Hawkline) and Josh Klinghoffer on guitars - and were added to the album, “one by one, one on one”. The fact that these collaborators have appeared variously on Le Bon’s previous outputs no doubt goes some way to aid the preservation of a signature sound despite a relatively drastic change in approach.

    Be it on her more minimalist, acoustic-leaning 2009 debut album Me Oh My or critically acclaimed, liquid-riffed 2013 LP Mug Museum, Cate Le Bon’s solo work - and indeed also her production work, such as that carried out on recent Deerhunter album Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared? (4AD, January 2019) - has always resisted pigeonholing, walking the tightrope between krautrock aloofness and heartbreaking tenderness; deadpan served with a twinkle in the eye, a flick of the fringe and a lick of the Telecaster.

    The multifaceted nature of Le Bon’s art - its ability to take on multiple meanings and hold motivations which are not immediately obvious - is evident right down to the album’s very name. “People hear the word ‘reward’ and they think that it’s a positive word” says Le Bon, “and to me it’s quite a sinister word in that it depends on the relationship between the giver and the receiver. I feel like it’s really indicative of the times we’re living in where words are used as slogans, and everything is slowly losing its meaning.” The record, then, signals a scrambling to hold onto meaning; it is a warning against lazy comparisons and face values. It is a sentiment nicely summed up by the furniture-making musician as she advises: “Always keep your hand behind the chisel.”

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Emily says: Cate Le Bon’s fifth album came together during a period of self imposed solitude in the Lake District. Retreating from L.A. to a mountainside in Cumbria, she spent a year building wooden furniture and penning songs into the night. While writing an album in the woods may sound like a bit of an old singer-songwriter cliché, Le Bon’s offering is far from the soppy acoustic balladry you might expect. Instead, she has produced an album of delightfully unhinged art-pop which reveals the curiosities of her inner world.
    ‘Reward’ retains the off-kilter whimsy which is characteristic of Le Bon’s ever expanding back catalogue. She expertly toes the line between heartfelt sincerity and playful absurdity, maintaining an edge to her songwriting which keeps it from sounding twee. Some of her vocal melodies alone would feel at home in a more conventional pop album, but the instrumentation elevates it to outsider status - discordant stings of electric guitar, metallic synths and an anxious ticking always lurking in the background.
    The slow, stately opener “Miami” builds through a rising dialogue between the vocals, horns and synth which eventually disappears into thin air. Le Bon then takes us on a soft rock jaunt permeated by a sense of distance and longing: “Love you, I love you, but you’re not here”. “Mother’s Mother’s Magazines” spirals into nervy post punk territory, with each instrument locked into a mechanical groove which rolls forwards like a steam train. But it’s the final song “Meet The Man” which shines the brightest lyrically and melodically, ending the album with a heartwarming resolution: “Love is good, love is ancient to me, love is you, love is beautiful to me”.

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    LP Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.

    CD Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.

    Simbi Ajikawo, crowned Little Simz, lets her work do the talking - and her prolific releases and boundary-breaking achievements clearly tell a story of a pioneering hip-hop artist who leads the way on her own terms. Giving lauded, energetic performances, critically acclaimed albums, sold-out headline shows around the world, and international tours with the likes of Gorillaz, Anderson .Paak and Ab-Soul, this visionary 24 year old woman from North London is living out her childhood dreams to heights of excellence - and inspiring her generation to do the same.

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Millie says: North London’s Little Simz has turned hip hop on its axis in recent years and excels herself with ‘Grey Area’, an LP exploding with high energy, rapid flow and sharp production. A bold and ingenious lyricist, she peppers her fourth album with twists of dry humour and quick wit; ‘had to let you mature like some fine wine’ from the hit track “Selfish” gets me every time. These comedic phrases are matched with provocative barbs and personal experiences, lending this flawless listen depth and realness. Her bars are intelligent and fierce, leaving no doubt that this is a powerful black female voice in hip hop whose importance should not be overlooked. “Pressure” juxtaposes melancholic piano chords with fat off-kilter beats, a balance which is mirrored by her emotive and gritty lyrics. Alongside this, “101 FM”s’ 8-bit beats are reminiscent of a forgotten game-console soundtrack, the perfect backdrop for a nostalgic narrative focusing on growing up in London and playing Mortal Kombat.
    However “Venom” has to be the stand out track on the album for me, you can feel her rage as it strikes through each verse, exploring themes of inequality of race, gender and class throughout: “They would never wanna admit I'm the best here, from the mere fact that I've got ovaries”. The focus she draws upon surrounding her experience as a woman in hip-hop and within wider-society is refreshing and important. Her flow is incredible, I can’t do it justice to just say how good it actually is; this is one amazingly talented woman. If you listen to one song from this entire booklet, make it this.

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    Coloured LP Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.
    Limited edition white vinyl.

    CD Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.

    Stars Are the Light, the luminous seventh album by the American psych explorers Moon Duo, marks a progression into significantly new territory. From a preoccupation with the transcendental and occult that informed Ripley Johnson and Sanae Yamada’s guitar-driven psych rock, and reached its apotheosis in the acclaimed Occult Architecture diptych, Stars Are the Light sees the band synthesize the abstract and metaphysical with the embodied and terrestrial.

    Branching out from Occult Architecture Vol. 2, the album has a sonic physicality that is at once propulsive and undulating; it puts dance at the heart of an expansive nexus that connects the body to the stars. These are songs about embodied human experience — love, change, misunderstanding, internal struggle, joy, misery, alienation, discord, harmony, celebration — rendered as a kind of dance of the self, both in relation to other selves and to the eternal dance of the cosmos.

    Taking disco as its groove-oriented departure point, Stars Are the Light shimmers with elements of ’70s funk and ’90s rave. Johnson’s signature guitar sound is at its most languid and refined, while Yamada’s synths and oneiric vocals are foregrounded to create a spacious percussiveness that invites the body to move with its mesmeric rhythms. With Sonic Boom (Spacemen 3, Spectrum) at the mixing desk in Portugal’s Serra de Sintra, (known to the Romans as “The Mountains of the Moon”) the area’s lush landscape and powerful lunar energies exerted a strong influence on the vibe and sonic texture of the album.

    On embracing disco as an inspiration, Yamada says, “It’s something we hadn’t referenced in our music before, but its core concepts really align with what we were circling around as we made the album. Disco is dance music, first and foremost, and we were digging our way into the idea of this endless dance of bodies in nature. We were also very inspired by the space and community of a disco – a space of free self-expression through dance, fashion, and mode of being; where everyone was welcome, diversity was celebrated, and identity could be fluid; where the life force that animates each of us differently could flower.”

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Andy says: Formed in 2009 by Wooden Shjips' main man Ripley Johnson and his wife Sanae Yamada, Moon Duo had been chugging along quite nicely until 2017's two records in a month opus (‘Occult Architecture’ Volumes 1 and 2) signalled a slight detour, but here we are a further two years hence at a veritable fork in the road. Moon Duo now groove! Not rockin' grooves like Hawkwind of old (very cool still, obviously), but proper, disco and funk inspired, pitter-pattering grooves like Peaking Lights. Helped in no small part by Spacemen 3's Sonic Boom, a lot of the sounds here do actually recall the late 90s UK post rave scene in their blissed out, bubbling buoyancy and hippie, repetitive, lose yourself in nature vibes. This record glides! Synths are further to the fore but Ripley's ever evolving infinite ether guitar flickers and dances around them to maximum effect. Apart from one throbbing song which is a throwback to their previous records (“Eye 2 Eye”) this albums glows with a kind of contained euphoria, languid and laid back, looping and luscious. The beats here are never obtrusive, it still sounds exactly like them, but them that's swapped pot for ecstasy, a couch for a field! There has been the sneaking suspicion, of late, that Ripley Johnson was squirelling his better songs away to this, his so-called band on the side, and now, finally, with ‘Stars Are The Light’, the proof is in the pudding; he does! It's a majestic record.

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    Coloured LP Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.
    Indies only opaque red coloured vinyl.

    Coloured LP includes MP3 Download Code.

    LP Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.

    LP includes MP3 Download Code.

    CD Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.

    Portico Quartet return with Memory Streams, their fifth studio album and one that continues the journey that first started with 2008's Mercury nominated debut "Knee Deep in the North Sea". It's a creative path that has seen the band embrace new technology and explore ambient and electronic influences alongside minimalism, jazz and beyond. It is a process that has encouraged change. Each album has seen the band expand its palate or explore new trajectories. From the gentle charm of their breakthrough's inimitable mix of jazz, world and minimalist influences, to the tight-knit brilliance of "Isla", the electronic infused eponymous Portico Quartet to 2016's return "Art in the Age of Automation" (the band's most electronic statement to date) they have never been a band to look backwards. Each record has been its own world, its own statement and offered its own meaning. It's the mark of a band that has always both stood apart from any scene and been prepared to challenge its self and find new things to say and to push the limits of what they could do.

    It is an approach that has encouraged the band to plough their own furrow. Drummer Duncan Bellamy notes that "For better or worse I think we have always been quite an isolated band. Perhaps that comes from never feeling like we really belonged to or fit in to a scene when we first started making music" While for saxophonist Jack Wyllie " I feel more connected to other musicians these days and those relationships influence the sound we have in some way. But I wouldn't say we feel a part of scene, it still feels quite out on its own, which is cool, because it helps the music feel unique"?

    The band's new album, "Memory Streams" is part of the same continuum and yet, as the name hints, there is a sense here of a remembering, shards of past influences, hints of ideas re-forged. For Wyllie, Memory Streams "feels in some ways about the identity of the band, about the records we've made before, and the memory of them" whereas for Bellamy it suggests "a torrent of imagery, accessing and reliving archived memories, perhaps not even your own".

    Sonically, the album embraces the classic Portico Quartet sound pallet of drums, saxophone, bass and Hang- Drums, but nonetheless the sound has modulated, become more modern, whilst still channelling the beauty and mystery which has always marked the very best of Portico Quartet's music. It's the sound of a band at ease with its self who after a dozen years of recording and playing together are able to simultaneously explore and embrace their own identity.

    "Memory Streams" also marks a return to a more predominantly band orientated sound than "AITAOA" and its partner release, the mini-album "Untitled". Bellamy says "we wanted to create something that had texture, fibre and space to it. Something that felt vivid, real and alive". During recording the band re-amped a lot of the sounds on the record, a process which lends a sense of depth and spaciousness to the sound. Wyllie adds, "We tried to reduce the pallet to what really identified the band and also as a way to help us write - it's not easy if you have unlimited possibilities. But it was also was an interesting challenge as it was about writing something new, that felt like a development, whilst also drawing on the past".

    "Memory Streams" opens with "With, Beside, Against" which has an expansive, quietly unfolding quality that makes it the perfect album opener and was also one of the first tracks they wrote for the album. "Signals" is a creeping, mysterious track that captures the spirit of the record. Its hypnotic, rolling quality builds throughout with shades of a classic Portico Quartet tune but with a 'tougher' edge. The outstanding "Gradient" is a more produced piece. Mixing lo-fi and beautifully recorded acoustic parts together it grows from a simple, repeated Hang-Drum motif, outwards into a searching hypnotic crescendo. "Ways of Seeing" is a synthesis of minimalism and more dancefloor-oriented rhythms. A lone pulse from the drum machine cuts through a haze of chiming, swirling Hang-Drums and pads built from shards of looped saxophone. "Memory Palace" is a distant echo of the motif from "Gradient", and is a bare, slow piano piece shrouded in a mist of saxophone noise. The punchy "Offset" is all about motion and tension and Bellamy's drums pound in response. "Dissident Gardens" is an intricate, hypnotic track in 3 parts. Almost prog like in rhythm but has a strong minimalist element to it with Farfisa organs as the repetitive top lines. "Double Helix" begins with string swells, it stops and jolts as if someone is switching TV channels before locking into a deep groove. The beautifully sparse, emotional heft of "Immediately Visible" sits in a powerful lineage of Portico Quartet tracks such as "Line", "Rubidium" and "Beyond Dialogue". It was largely improvised in the studio and offers the perfect ending point for the album with its sense of journey and deep well of feeling. An album that locates their music in an age where we have unfettered access to a vast and ever expanding archive of imagery and ideas, Memory Streams both embraces and builds on Portico Quartet's own unique music and legacy and locates their music firmly in the present.

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Millie says: ‘Memory Streams’ is a sublime neo-classical, and prominently jazz album. “With, Beside, Against” begins the album in minimalist style creating an earnest tone of reflection. As soon as the rest of ensemble joins in, the music becomes joyous, blossoming into percussion driven highs of emotion reminiscent of their earlier work. The album centres on capturing the memories of their past, Portico Quartet wanted to create something “vivid, real and alive” and I think they’ve just done that with this timeless album. I might be the only one here but when track as beautiful as “Immediately Visible” makes your heart ache a bit, that’s when you know the song is going to stay with you for some time. Similar artists on the Portico’s wavelength are GoGo Penguin, Nils Frahm and Penguin Café. If you are a fan of them, then this is the perfect album for you to end 2019 on a calming and gentle note.

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    Dinked Edition LP Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.
    Translucent blue vinyl LP.
    Poster of album artwork designed by Duncan Bellamy.
    Spot gloss cover.
    Limited to 500 copies.

    CD Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.

    Serfs Up! is Fat White Family’s third album and their first for new label Domino. It marks the most gratifying and unexpected creative volte face in recent musical history.

    Having released their second album, Songs For Our Mothers in January 2016, core-members Lias and Nathan Saoudi relocated to Sheffield and set about writing the album. Joined by co-conspirator Saul Adamczewski and recorded at their own Champzone studios in the Attercliffe area of the city, Serfs Up! was finished in late autumn 2018 with the help of long-time collaborator, Liam D. May and features a guest appearance from Baxter Dury on Tastes Good With The Money.

    Serfs Up! is a lush and masterful work, lascivious and personal. Tropical, sympathetic and monumental. It invites the listener in rather than repel them through wilful abrasion. Fat White Family have broken previous default patterns of behaviour, and as such their third album heralds a new day dawning.

    Gregorian chants, jackboot glam beats, string flourishes, sophisticated and lush cocktail exotica, electro funk and the twin spirits of Alan Vega and Afrika Bambaataa punctuate the record at various junctures, while the dramatic production of Feet is as immaculately-rendered as ‘Hounds of Love’-era Kate Bush. The dirt is still there of course, but scrape it away and you’ll find a purring engine, gleaming chrome.

    Echoing within the arrangements throughout are traces of blissed-out 60s Tropicalia, Velvets/Bowie sleaze-making and star-gazing, 80s digital dancehall, David Axelrod-style easy listening, joyous Pet Shop Boys synth crescendos, acid house, post-PIL dub, metropolitan murder ballads, doom-disco and mouth-gurning, slow-mo psychedelia so by the time it comes to a close only a fool would deny that Serfs Up! is something very special. No longer is unadulterated music malevolence Fat White Family’s stock in trade; this is cultivated music for the head, the heart. For tomorrow’s unborn children.

    Where once they soundtracked a grubby Britain of vape shops, Fray Bentos dinners and blackened tin-foil, a crepuscular comedown realm stalked by Shipman, Goebbels and Mark E. Smith, Fat White Family now inhabit another cosmos entirely. Serfs Up! is the product of a band of outlaws reborn. Few but themselves could have forecast it: Fat White Family survived. Fat White Family got wise. Fat White Family got sophisticated.

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Martin says: Fat White Family’s turbulent and well documented Peckham squat/smack/crack background has found unfiltered expression in their anarchic output, exacting gleeful slaughter on common decency and sacred cows alike. Both artwork and lyrics are used as iconoclastic dirty bombs; butchered Nazi and Communist symbolism, the IRA, dead pigs, big cocks, Harold Shipman and your mum have been deployed with a complete lack of due reverence. Decamping to Sheffield, kicking heroin and recent diversions into more melodic side projects might have led them into calmer and broader sonic waters, taking in glam, corrupted disco and cod reggae, but they are still viciously irreverent. Amongst the carnage, Kim Jong Un’s nuclear potential is saluted in the Balearic balm of “Kim’s Sunsets”, “Tastes Good With The Money” makes bitter reference to wealthy sightseers of Grenfell and the dark disco rampage of “Feet” to the human cost of war in Syria.
    It ought to have been a shambles, but it actually works just beautifully.

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    Coloured LP Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.
    Indies only gold coloured vinyl.
    Includes illustrated poster.

    Coloured LP includes MP3 Download Code.

    CD Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.
    Includes illustrated poster.

    The Cinematic Orchestra are back with a definitive new album that explores a timeless question of vital importance in 2019 - what to believe? Founding member Jason Swinscoe and longtime partner Dominic Smith have enlisted album contributions from collaborators old and new: Moses Sumney, Roots Manuva, Heidi Vogel, Grey Reverend (vocalist on Bonobo’s 'First Fires’), Dorian Concept and Tawiah (Mark Ronson, Kindness). Miguel Atwood-Ferguson (Flying Lotus, Anderson Paak, Thundercat, Hiatus Kaiyote) features on strings and photographer and visual artist Brian “B+” Cross collaborated with Swinscoe and Smith on the album’s concept. The record was mixed by multiple Grammy winner Tom Elmhirst (David Bowie, Frank Ocean, Adele) in Jimi Hendrix’s legendary Electric Lady Studios. The album artwork comes courtesy of The Designers Republic™ (Aphex Twin).

    In 2019 it is easy to see the band’s influence, jazz is all around us, London and LA have recently produced scenes more prolific than anyone expected; Kamasi Washington has been nominated for both Grammy and Brit Awards, Sons Of Kemet a Mercury Prize, BADBADNOTGOOD provide jazz soundtracks to high fashion shows and Kendrick Lamar has put the jazz palette at the top of the charts. When The Cinematic Orchestra released their critically acclaimed debut album “Motion” it helped pave the way for this moment, incorporating as it did an interpretation that had been lacking in the oeuvre and encouraging a new generation of musicians to break rules. “To Believe” doesn’t shy away from this ethos - its articulation of the band’s unique sonic language, encompassing not only jazz but the sort of transcendental orchestration combined with the elegant electronics of artists like Ólafur Arnalds and Floating Points, artists they have helped forge a path for, has never been more cohesive and compelling.

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Matt says: This year is the 20th birthday of this prestigious band who, out of the fertile soils of UK jazz, hip-hop and electronica, have grown into a much-celebrated household name. What better crown to mark the end of their teens than ‘To Believe’. With another ambrosial list of vocal collaborations, its (notably) reduced number of tracks and a huge injection of neo-classical nuances, it aims its bow directly at the heart; a body of work that seems to exist and transmit out of a heavenly and divine realm. The band employ a beguiling tapestry of organic and electronic instruments, samples and improvisation throughout. There's a deliberate and considered higher consciousness to the entire album, like it's whispering into your ear late at night between the pillows. Sometimes like a snow-dusted fairytale with its highly cinematic string arrangements, at other's deeply introspective; it's the message that matters after everything else is removed, and on ‘I Believe’ we receive it with a fragile yet focussed intimacy.

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    2xDeluxe LP Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.
    Deluxe edition vinyl including 180g clear vinyl and 180g white vinyl housed in roughboard sleeve with black foil detail and glossy printed inners.

    2xDeluxe LP includes MP3 Download Code.

    2xLP Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.
    180g black vinyl housed in roughboard sleeve with glossy printed inner sleeves.

    2xLP includes MP3 Download Code.

    CD Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.

    14 - Steve Gunn

    The Unseen In Between - Bonus Disc Edition

    FOR A LIMITED PERIOD ONLY BOTH ALL FORMATS INCLUDE A FREE CD BONUS DISC, 'ACOUSTIC UNSEEN' (TRACKLISTING BELOW).

    For over a decade, guitarist/vocalist Steve Gunn has been one the American music’s most pivotal figures-conjuring immersive and psychedelic sonic landscapes both live and on record, releasing revered solo albums ranking high on in-the-know end of year lists, alongside exploratory collaborations with artists as diverse as Mike Cooper, Kurt Vile, and Michael Chapman (whose most recent studio album he produced). Gunn is known for telling other people's stories, but on his breakthrough fourth album, The Unseen In Between, he explores his own emotional landscapes with his most complex, fully realized songs to date. 

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Laura says: Steve Gunn’s talents as a guitarist are well known, whether it be the American primitive finger picking style of his early work, as a member of Kurt Vile’s Violators or from any number of collaborations over the years, but on this album it’s as much about the songs as the guitar. His songwriting conjures vivid images while at the same time leaving space for your imagination to fill the gaps. This is beautifully exemplified on “Vagabond” on which he duets with Espers’ Meg Baird and “Stonehurst Cowboy” a tribute to his father and his generation who grew up in the shadow of Vietnam. And the guitars! Did I mention the guitars? Whether it’s the gentle acoustics of “New Moon” or the hypnotic looping riffs of “New Familiar” and “Morning Is Mended”, they are truly mesmerizing. A wonderfully understated record that’s already worked its way into my all time favourites.

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    LP Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.
    Also includes the 'Acoustic Unseen' CD bonus disc.

    CD Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.
    Also includes the 'Acoustic Unseen' CD bonus disc.

    Purveyors of contemporary ambient and electronic inspired music, A Winged Victory for the Sullen make a bold return on new album “The Undivided Five”. The pair, made up of Dustin O’Halloran and Adam Wiltzie, have created iconic film scores and forward-thinking ambient groups, releasing a series of game-changing records for Erased Tapes and Kranky. On “The Undivided Five” they rekindle their unique partnership for only their second piece of original music outside of film, TV and stage commissions, creating an album that channels ritual, higher powers and unspoken creative energies. Their fifth release (following their debut album, two scores and an EP), they embraced the serendipitous role of the number five, inspired by artist Hilma af Klint and the recurrence of the perfect fifth chord.

    This album sees them create bold new work built on their foundations in ambient and neoclassical. Since their 2011 self-titled debut, the duo have emerged as part of a much-lauded scene alongside peers like Max Richter, Hildur Guðnadóttir, Tim Hecker and Fennesz. Their 2014 album “Atomos” was the product of a commission to score a new performance by Royal Ballet choreographer Wayne McGregor, while 2016’s “Iris” was the score for director Jalil Lespert’s thriller, “In the Shadow of Iris”. They count the likes of Jon Hopkins among their fans, who included ‘Requiem For The Static King Part One’ on his 2015 Late Night Tales compilation. They composed the score for Invisible Cities, a specially-created performance to herald 2019’s Manchester International Festival, and have played some of the world’s most celebrated venues, including a sold out Boiler Room performance at London’s Barbican, and a 2015 BBC Proms show curated by Mary Anne Hobbs at the Royal Albert Hall.

    They were first introduced by mutual friend Francesco Donadello in 2007, a close collaborator who’s gone on to mix all of the AWVFTS records. O’Halloran launched his reputation with two acclaimed solo piano albums, attracting the attention of director Sofia Coppola, who asked him to score her 2006 film Marie Antoinette, and he has since won an Emmy for his 2015 theme song for Jill Soloway’s Transparent series, and been nominated for an Oscar and Golden Globe for his 2017 score with Hauschka for Garth Davis’ Lion. Wiltzie, meanwhile, founder of iconic drone outfit Stars of the Lid, has scored Hollywood films including Kevin MacDonald’s “Whitney”, Jake Scott’s “American Woman” and collaborated with Jóhann Jóhannsson for 2014’s The Theory of Everything.

    This album sees them pay greater heed to the small details in their sound than previously, something they say has been encouraged by the move to a new label. It’s been their first opportunity since their debut to create something that’s solely guided by their ideas, and it represented an opportunity to call back to that first outing while also building on the various ways in which they’ve grown. “We understand that times have changed,” they say. “We have evolved, but we also didn’t want to forget the beginning.”

    They channel influences such as Debussy, nodded to in the opening track, whose big chords and complicated arrangements inform a lot of their approach – parts that sound simple but require great skill to execute. Likewise, the artist Hilma af Klint – one of the first abstract Western artists – informed their ideas about drawing on spiritual influences to shape their work. “It’s like an invisible hand guiding things,” they say.

    The start of recording sessions for the album were marred by the death of one of their closest friends. Within weeks after the funeral O’Halloran found out that he would be expecting his first child, and it was soon after that a visit to see the art of af Klint brought home a profound realisation of life, death, the afterlife, and the spaces in between. She belonged to a group called "The Five", a circle of five women with a shared belief in the importance of trying to make contact with spirits, often by way of séances. This chimed with the duo’s unspoken approach to collaboration, and nudged them to return to their writing process centered around the harmonic perfect fifth; the five senses, the divine interval – The Undivided Five.

    The album was also shaped by the breadth of locations in which it was created, helping to shape its nuanced sonics. In addition to O’Halloran and Wiltzie’s respective Berlin and Brussels studios, the record took shape across six different sites. They recorded orchestral samples in Budapest’s Magyar Rádió Studio 22, re-recorded album parts in Brussels’ Eglise Du Beguinage’s unique, reverb-heavy surrounds (where Wiltzie has performed with Stars of the Lid and, in 2018, organised a tribute concert for Jóhann Jóhannsson), experimented with overdubs in Ben Frost’s Reykjavik studio, and recorded grand piano parts in a remote woodland studio in northern Italy. The duo pay close attention to the micro-level of sound, and each of these places was chosen for the qualities which could enrich the finished product. And it’s in Francesco Donadello’s studio in Berlin, where all of the previous AWVFTS material has been mixed, that the album was run through the studio’s analog board, binding the record’s different parts together.

    It was their connection to Jóhannsson which partly shaped the direction of their new album. They were asked to create a remix for him, which he heard before his death in 2018, where they unlocked a new process in terms of how they work. They recomposed the strings, using modular synthesis, old synths and string and piano arrangements, a method they applied to album opener ‘Our Lord Debussy’. “It’s about going into the DNA of music and taking different strands,” they say.

    The album is their debut for Ninja Tune, and comes as change is underway for O’Halloran, moving from Berlin – hence the title of ‘Keep It Dark, Deutschland’ – after a decade in the German capital. He’s headed to Iceland, the country where the pair shot their latest press photos and which is an important locale for both of them. The wide-spanning connections which have shaped the record are testament to their deep roots as artists. This album’s powerful energy is driven by the deep-rooted bond between them.

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Barry says: ‘The Undivided Five’ is the newest outing from the masters of ambient classical music, A Winged Victory For The Sullen. Their debut album hit us all pretty hard back in 2011, and has continued to be on the player pretty much constantly since then. Though they’ve released a soundtrack and another LP since, this is really only the second full album, and it is every bit the spiritual successor. Soaring, spine-tingling swells of string and synth coalesce together into a perfectly organic, yet otherworld rush of emotion and heft. Brittle, tentative passages are suddenly engorged with indescribable euphoric joy, evocative but fleeting, bringing to mind their debut, but with every bit rendered in unparalleled definition. ‘The Undivided Five’ deserves every attention you can give it, every precious moment you spend with it revealing more secrets and more colours you didn’t even know existed. An unrivalled beauty.

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    Coloured LP Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.
    180 gram marbled clear & silver LP housed in a gatefold sleeve.

    Ltd LP Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.
    180 gram vinyl in a gatefold sleeve.

    CD Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.

    16 - Deerhunter

    Why Hasn't Everything Already Disappeared?

    As thrilling and unpredictable as anything in Deerhunter’s near 15-year career, Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared? was recorded in several strategic geographic points across North America, and produced by the band, Cate LeBon, Ben H. Allen III, and Ben Etter. Forgetting the questions and making up unrelated answers, Deerhunter’s eighth LP is a science fiction album about the present. Exhausted with the toxic concept of nostalgia, they reinvent their approach to microphones, the drum kit, the harpsichord, the electromechanical and synthetic sounds of keyboards. Whatever guitars are left are pure chrome, plugged straight into the mixing desk with no amplifier or vintage warmth.

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Javi says: Is it a guitar? Is it a synth? Is it some old-time harpsichord-y thing plugged through a sh*t-ton of reverb? Your guess is as good as mine. The only thing for sure is that indie darlings Deerhunter have created their most consistent and nuanced album since 2010’s ‘Halcyon Digest’ in their seventh LP, ‘Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared?’.
    With fellow Top 20 maverick Cate Le Bon at the production helm, there’s nothing the band can’t do—whimsical groove-laced indie and atmospheric expansiveness are married perfectly on songs like the opener “What Happens to People?” and penultimate bop “Plains”, and just as the voice of God bids us good morning on “Detournement”, guitarist Lockett Pundt’s sole offering “Tarnung” is already preparing to tuck us into bed.
    Every song is a stutter-funk gem, a space-age exploration of pastoral life, a strutting jaunt into the end of days. Every song is a grower, and boy, how big they grow…

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    Coloured LP Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.
    Grey coloured vinyl.

    CD Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.

    17 - Josefin Öhrn + The Liberation

    Sacred Dreams

    London-based psychedelic stalwarts Josefin Öhrn + The Liberation are proud to reveal their third album 'Sacred Dreams' for Rocket Recordings. Continuing to dive into the deeper waters of experimentation, ‘Sacred Dreams’ is both a musically hefty amalgamation of reverb drenched space-rock and retro centric electronics, as well as an emotionally cathartic release for the band, marking a new direction and fresh approach.

    Since their critically acclaimed album 'Mirage' was released, Josefin and writing partner Fredrik have relocated from Stockholm to London and have created a new Liberation around them - this new band consists of the powerful and intuitive assemblage of musicians; Maki (Go Team), Patrick C Smith (Eskimo Chain), Matt Loft (Lola Colt) and Ben Ellis, who’s worked with both Iggy Pop and Swervedriver. ‘Sacred Dreams’ was largely recorded at Press Play Studios (King Krule, Fat White Family, Yves Tumor, Stereolab, High Llamas and many others) run by Andy Ramsay of Stereolab, who also produced and even programmed his non synced drum machines adding a lot of inspiration to the album.

    ‘Scared Dreams’ invites you into the bands own dimensional soundscape, a world built with transcendental guitars, driving grooves and otherworldly, enchanting vocals, altogether seeped in layers of blissfully produced synths. Opener and lead single ‘Feel The Sun’ encapsulates this new direction perfectly before the anthemic ‘I Can Feel It’ makes the bands intentions known. Elsewhere playful 80s electronics sit alongside a shoegaze sensibility effortlessly and amongst the textured flow of the LP emerge pop hooks like the infectiously bluesy ‘Baby Come On’.

    Josefin tells us “This album comes out of a period of heartbreak, loss and dissolution, but also of deep love, warmth and beauty unveiled in the middle of it. A sacred dream, the way we see it, is not necessarily a golden fluffy cloud river, but instead also contains all the shadows that need to be seen and felt in order to drop what has to go in order to truly live. And the dissonance of such a dream may not be immediately apparent, let alone the meaning of it. In a way all of these tracks seem to emanate from that place where we have almost reached a new shore, or maybe we missed it and are headed somewhere else entirely, but there’s no way of telling until afterwards.”

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Mine says: After the experimental krautrock LP ‘Horse Dance’ (2015) and the pulsing psychedelia on shop-favourite ‘Mirage’ (2016), London-based Swedes Josefin Öhrn + The Liberation return with their most diverse album to date, showcasing a variation of sounds, including, but not limited to, 80s synths, trippy, reverb-laden guitars and dreamy, 60s inspired pop. ‘Sacred Dreams’, which was written during a ”period of heartbreak, loss and dissolution”, is less of a sonic journey than its predecessors and instead seems to show that Josefin and her band don’t want to be confined to a particular genre. After opening with the electronic and motorik dance tracks “Feel The Sun”; “I Can Feel It” and “Desire” the Spiritualized-esque “Hey Little Boy”, the transcendental “Only Lovers” and the blues stomper “Baby Come On” lead the album into a hazier, mellower and more psychedelic direction.

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    Coloured LP Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.
    Ultra limited yellow and black vinyl.

    Indies Exclusive LP Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.
    Deep Blue/Black Swirl Vinyl - UK Indies Only.

    CD Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.

    Remind Me Tomorrow comes over four years after the release of Are We There, a top 10 critically praised album of 2014, and reckons with the life that gets lived when you put off the small and inevitable maintenance in favor of something more present. Throughout, Van Etten veers towards the driving, dark glimmer moods that have illuminated the edges of her music and pursues them full force.

    Written while pregnant, going to school for psychology, after taking The OA audition, Remind Me Tomorrow was written in stolen time: in scraps of hours wedged between myriad endeavors — Van Etten guest-starred in The OA, and brought her music onstage in David Lynch’s revival of Twin Peaks. Off-screen, she wrote her first score for Katherine Dieckmann’s movie Strange Weather and the closing title song for Tig Notaro’s show, Tig.

    The songs on Remind Me Tomorrow have been transported from Van Etten’s original demos through producer John Congleton’s arrangement. He helped flip the signature Van Etten ratio, making the album more energetic-upbeat than minimal-meditative. The songs are as resonating as ever, the themes are still an honest and subtle approach to love and longing, but Congleton has plucked out new idiosyncrasies from Van Etten’s sound. Joined by Van Etten’s longtime collaborator and bandmate Heather Woods Broderick, plus Jamie Stewart, Zachary Dawes, Brian Reitzell, Lars Horntveth, McKenzie Smith, Joey Waronker, Luke Reynolds, and Stella Mozgawa, Remind Me Tomorrow was recorded at studios throughout Los Angeles.

    For Remind Me Tomorrow, Van Etten put down the guitar. When she was writing the score for Strange Weather her reference was Ry Cooder, so she was playing her guitar constantly and getting either bored or writer's block. At the time, she was sharing a studio space with someone who had a synthesizer and an organ, and she wrote on piano at home, so she naturally gravitated to keys when not working on the score - to clear her mind. Lead single “Comeback Kid” was originally a piano ballad, but driven by Van Etten’s assertion that she “didn’t want it to be pretty,” it evolved into a menacing anthem. Remind Me Tomorrow as a whole shows this magnetism towards new instruments: piano keys that churn, deep drones, distinctive sharp drums. There are dark intense synths, a propulsive organ, a distorted harmonium.

    The breadth of Van Etten’s passions (musical, emotional, otherwise), of new careers and projects and lifelong roles, have inflected Remind Me Tomorrow with a wise sense of a warped-time perspective. This is the tension that arches over the album, fusing a pained attentive realism and radiant lightness about new love.


    STAFF COMMENTS

    Laura says: “Sitting in a bar, I told you everything, you said ‘holy shit, you almost died’”. Album opener, “I Told You Everything” is a love song of sorts, and while it hints at her turbulent past it’s about trust, optimism and moving forward and marks a shift both musically and emotionally. The addition of synths and electronics, give a whole new dimension to her songs, at times providing rhythm and melody, at others a jarring tension and an air of menace. As ever her writing is deeply personal, but whereas previously the past was filled with regret and self doubt, this time around she reflects on it with an air of nostalgia and knowing. There’s still a sense of fragility when she writes about love, but you get the impression that she’s more at ease with her place in the world now and this has given her the confidence to write her most ambitious and assured album yet.

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    LP Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.

    CD Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.

    Karen O says:  “After making music for the past twenty years and embarking on making this record with Danger Mouse I knew a couple things: one was that the spirit of collaboration between us was going to be a pure one, and two was that the more I live the less is clear to me. When you create from a blurry place you can go places further than you’ve ever been. I think we both were excited to go far out.”


    STAFF COMMENTS

    Andy says: The voice of the Naughties teams up with the producer to the (cool!) stars and the result is stunning! Karen O has been rather quiet lately. Her lo-fi solo record ‘Crush Songs’ (2014) was preceded by the least interesting Yeah Yeah Yeahs record so far (2013's ‘Mosquito’) so it’s really refreshing to firstly hear her in a new context, and secondly, singing some flipping good pop songs again. The title of this record loosely translates as “luxury first” and yes, it does what it says on the tin! Dangermouse mines a similar sonic seam to his cinematic soundscapes with Daniel Luppi (2011’s ‘Rome’) whilst of course staying true to his downtempo template. But with sweeping strings and beautiful blends of funk, pop, soul and disco, all luxuriously spacey and deliciously swoony, you’ll be in for a nice surprise: the mix with Karen’s distinctive voice really does work. She’s never sounded better.

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    LP Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.

    LP includes MP3 Download Code.

    CD Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.

    Called out by The Irish Times as “Ireland’s best new rock band” and named as an one of NME's “100 Essential New Artists for 2019," When I Have Fears is the debut album from Dublin, Ireland's The Murder Capital.

    Produced by Flood (PJ Harvey, New Order, Foals) the album features both singles from the band so far, "Feeling Fades" and "Green & Blue", as well as the first studio recording of breakthrough track "More Is Less".

    An exercise in both darkness and light, “When I Have Fears” only serves to highlight the early ambition in the band's sound. From the post-rock build and breakdowns of the two-part "Slowdance", to the tender, bruised confessional of "On Twisted Ground" and industrial pulse of closer "Love, Love, Love", there's a consistent intensity throughout that marks out The Murder Capital as a band arriving fully formed on their debut album.

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Darryl says: “For Everything” kicks off proceedings and sets the blueprint is set for much of this amazing debut album; a pummelling bassline, huge stomping drums, soaring guitars, and raw vocals.
    ‘When I Have Fears’ is a colossal and remarkably self-confident statement by this Dublin quintet, they create a perfect storm of unsettling post-punk grind and bruised reflection. The guitars rage with echoes of prime Sonic Youth and at other times they brood with the expressive chill of Joy Division, in the meantime the bass and drums underpin the sound with blistering assuredness, and over the top of this wonderful cacophony James McGovern’s spoken-word vocal drawl hits somewhere between James Murphy and Mark E. Smith.
    Written following the suicide of a close friend, ‘When I Have Fears’ displays a pensive raw emotion and a remarkable reflectiveness on their shared grief that totally belies the age of the band. Quite simply, an astonishing debut album.

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    Coloured LP Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.
    Marbled rust colour, gatefold sleeve & lyric booklet.

    Coloured LP includes MP3 Download Code.

    CD Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.

    A stellar combination of the talents of The Brian Jonestown Massacre’s Anton Newcombe, cinematic femme fatale Emmanuelle Seigner and ice-cool pop provocateurs The Limiñanas (Lionel and Marie Liminana), L’Epee transcend artistic and traditional borders.

    “We are living in very culturally insular times, so it feels really good to be swimming against the tide,” says Anton of the band’s bi-lingual, cross-continental approach.“There’s something really positive about branching out, collaborating and taking risks.”

    Far from being defeated by a world seemingly regressing into turmoil, L’ Epee’s strength comes from a long history of challenging the status quo. From Anton’s legendary battles with ‘The Man’ with The Brian Jonestown Massacre to Emmanuelle’s eclectic screen career to The Liminana’s community-minded ethos- setting up their own record shop, L.G.D.C, and promoting gigs by the cream of the world’s garage rock scene ( New Bomb Turks, Oblivians, Fleshtones, Revelators) - they share a fierce intelligence and an outsider aesthetic which, over the decades, has been sharpened to a razor’s edge. Fitting, then, that their name translates as The Sword.
    “It came to me in a dream,” explains Anton. “I woke up and there it was, ‘The Sword’. Someone told me there had already been a band with that name so I flipped it into French. It suits the band because we’re united in a common cause.”

    This pent-up creative energy has been channelled into their extraordinary debut album, Diabolique. Named in tribute to Mario Bava’s 1968 cult classic ‘Danger: Diabolik’, it’s a musical masterclass where elements of garage, ye-ye, sleaze rock, cult soundtracks, sci-fi, spaghetti westerns and girl-group pop noir are combined with the cut-and-thrust zeal of a band bursting with ideas and energy. All delivered by Emmanuelle in a sultry Gallic drawl which will send a frisson of recognition through anyone familiar with her iconic roles in, among many others, Frantic, Venus In Fur and Bitter Moon (all directed by her husband, Roman Polanski). “I’ve loved rock music since I was a kid,” she says, namechecking Lou Reed, The Velvet Underground and The Stooges as key influences. “I always wanted to be a musician, but it wasn’t so easy in France as I couldn’t meet the right people. Then I became a model and then very quickly after that I did Frantic and became an actress. It worked for me, but in my heart I always wanted to do music.”

    Having asked close friend Bertrand Belin to provide lyrics for three further tracks (‘Grande', ‘On Dansait Avec Elle’ and ‘Lou’), the trio set to work at The Limiñanas’ studio in Cabestany, Southern France, in November 2017 -with Emmanuelle, ever the perfectionist, fine-tuning them the following February. Satisfied with the results, the trio flew to Berlin to hook up with Anton and (Liverpudlian engineer) Andrea Wright at his Cobra Studio in Berlin Utilising a treasure trove of vintage equipment (“I’ve got way more ‘60’s gear than The Beatles and The Stones had, I’m mad for that stuff”, explains the BJM man), Anton set to work, re-recording the drums with Marie and adding -and deleting- tracks so that the shifting layers of sound suited the mood of each individual track. “I’ve got plenty of other ways to express myself, so I really enjoyed taking a backseat, creatively,” he explains. “Lionel is such a great composer. There’s a very visual sense to his songs and I was very conscious of not stepping on his intentions too much. There were some really interesting sonic things I would add, like a track of the craziest feedback, to give a song a weird ambient quality. It’s the role that Brian Jones had in the Stones, or Warren (Ellis) has in Nick Cave’s band. Musically, they’re all over the map, but they make things happen.” “It was so inspiring to see Anton work,” says Emmanuelle of seeing him in action. “When we sent the songs to him they were good, but they were nothing like how it ended up. He’s so talented, like a genius. He made the whole thing darker, more interesting and more psychedelic.”

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Barry says: With some of the greatest and most unique voices in modern psychedelia coming together to record, the results were never going to be anything short of brilliant, and this heady lsyergic collection has exceeded that already. Hazy, all-encompassing and beautifully balanced, with drones and jams being brilliantly balanced with undeniable grooves and feel. A brilliant outing.

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    Coloured LP Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.

    Vinyl comes with CD version of the album enclosed.

    CD Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.

    A couple of years on from dropping an era-defining masterpiece, "A Seat At The Table", Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter and visual artist Solange Knowles is back on Piccadilly shelves with her new album "When I Get Home". The album is an exploration of origin. It asks the question how much of ourselves do we bring with us versus leave behind in our evolution. In order to answer this, Solange returned to Third Ward Houston, packing the short sonic vignettes with blasts of rim-rattling bass, clattering dirty south percussion and her trademark jazz flecked vocals. Reading like a journey through the city streets to the show, "When I Get Home" serves the varied sounds of street performers, muscle cars, barbers and cook outs - even enjoying a brief flirtation with Jamaica on the stand out "Binz", before getting back on Texan track. Written, performed, and executive produced by Solange, this is a new chapter in her artistic development.

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Millie says: The iconic vocals of Solange grace us again with her new release, When I Get Home. Her emotion and warmth exude from each track and make us realise we had a Solange-shaped void to fill these past three years. Binz, Way to the Show and Stay Flo are on heavy repeat for me, again and again.

    Emily says: Solange siphons the essence of jazz, contemporary R&B and psychedelic soul into her latest offering. Abandoning predictable pop structures, each track develops through a series of short lived motifs and dissolves effortlessly into the next. An album of dazzling minimalist soul which is best listened to in its entirety!

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    Coloured LP Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.

    Nearly 5 years after the last Flying Lotus album, the Grammy-nominated You’re Dead!, and Flying Lotus’ stock has never been higher. The interim years have seen him collaborating with Kendrick Lamar on the classic "To Pimp a Butterfly", directing and writing the Sundance-premiered Kuso movie, and producing much of Thundercat’s "Drunk".

    Flamagra encompasses hip-hop, funk, soul, jazz, global dance music, tribal poly-rhythms, IDM, the L.A. Beat scene, but it soars above a specific vortex whose coordinates can’t be accurately charted. Other than to say that it is a Flying Lotus record, perhaps the definitive one.

    Flamagra features (in order of appearance): Anderson .Paak, George Clinton, Little Dragon, Tierra Whack, Denzel Curry, David Lynch, Shabazz Palaces, Thundercat, Toro y Moi, Solange and more.

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Patrick says: Blurring genre boundaries as ever, Steven Ellison AKA Flying Lotus fucks with jazz, hip-hop, RnB, juke, soul and soft rock on his sixth LP. This time he keeps the interludes short and so so sweet, and invites the likes of Solange, Anderson .Paak, George Clinton and Thundercat to guest on his strongest songs to date. Sublime, beautiful and brilliant.

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    2xIndies Exclusive LP Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.
    Special Edition Limited Pop Up Deluxe Black Vinyl.
    2LP in mirriboard inner sleeves, pop up gatefold sleeve, packed in PVC sleeve.

    2xIndies Exclusive LP includes MP3 Download Code.

    2xLP Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.
    2LP black vinyl, in printed inners, in gatefold outer sleeve.

    2xLP includes MP3 Download Code.

    CD Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.

    The long-awaited fourth full-length by Föllakzoid isn’t merely a recalibration for the band. It is a multidimensional reconsideration of what the process of songwriting, performance, and creating a work of recorded music can be.

    Föllakzoid grows via depuration, aiming with each record to fill longer spaces of time with fewer and fewer elements. The creative perspective of the band has always been about unlearning the narrative and musical knowledge that shape the physical and digital formats and conceptions available, both visually and musically in order to make a time-space metric structure that dissolves both the author and the narrative paradigms. “We found our sonic and metric identity even more in these songs than in our previous attempts,” guitarist/singer Domingæ GarciaHuidobro explains.

    Unlike past Föllakzoid records, that were done in single takes with the full band, this record took three months to construct out of more than 60 separate stems – guitars, bass, drums, synthesizers, and vocals, all recorded in isolation. Producer Atom TM, who was not present for recording, was then asked to re-organize the four sequences of stems without any length, structural restrictions or guidelines. Those sequences ultimately became the four long tracks that appear on I.

    The result of this was a set of songs where neither the band’s, nor the producer’s, structural vision primarily shaped the metric or tonal space shifts, but where both were still subliminally present in each of the parts that form the structure and the frequency modulations that guide them.

    “We invite you to join us in sharing the experience of being led by this nonrational, sonic artform and its energy. It is also an invitation to connect once again with your inner master and his intuition, erasing the systematic rationalization that usually follows creative forces when perceived, to guide you on this holographic simultaneous simulation where reality is rooted in,” Domingae added.

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Matt says: While I've moderately enjoyed everything this Chilean prog-psyche band have conjured up in the past, it's this, their Basic Channel-indebted, drone-techno opus that's really captured my imagination. I swear you could drop a couple of these monstrous workouts in the main hanger at Sonar, while the growling machine whirrs could soundtrack a million next-day apocalypses in poorly lit studio flats as the inhabitants melt into the walls.

    Barry says: In a perfect storm of four long tracks and dark, brooding front cover, Föllakzoid have once again piqued my interest, and it's safe to say the music itself doesn't disappoint. Brooding droney instrumentals, cosmic percussion and industrial synths grow into a perfectly measured and brilliantly executed whole. Long live Föllakzoid.

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    2xColoured LP Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.
    Limited edition clear vinyl.

    CD Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.

    Nérija are the septet of contemporary jazz luminaries, Nubya Garcia (tenor saxophone), Sheila Maurice-Grey (trumpet), Cassie Kinoshi (alto saxophone), Rosie Turton (trombone), Shirley Tetteh (guitar), Lizy Exell (drums) and Rio Kai (bass). Rooted in friendship, Nérija is a collective whose breakneck shifts in tempo and style rely on a deep understanding of mood, temperament and expression, a solid show of trust that extends beyond the usual bonds between musicians.

    Recorded in the boat-shaped confines of London’s legendary Soup Studios and produced by Kwes, the overarching goal with Blume was to simply capture the rawness, warmth, joy and the spirit of their relationship and performance. One of the recording aims was to channel the feel of Teo Macero and Stanley Tonkel’s records with Miles Davis during his Columbia years, thinking “forward” as they did but for this band, capturing the controlled chaos and frame it with a timeless elegance.

    "Blume" is a truly breath-taking collection of compositions that perfectly encapsulates everything Nérija; vibrant, engaging, infectious and truly current. For just over an hour, they take us on a sprawling wonderful journey, arriving at what is a majestic body of work; their personal and collective experiences and inspirations over the last half decade or so.

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Emily says: New London jazz supergroup Nérija have debuted their radiant, horn driven sound in 2019 to great acclaim. ‘Blume’ expands on the foundations they established earlier this year with their self titled EP. Teeming with lush harmonies, syncopated riffs and plenty of afrobeat shuffle, it is sure to impress fans of Kokoroko, Ezra Collective and Maisha.

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    2xColoured LP Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.
    Indies exclusive heavyweight, crystal clear vinyl with etched side D.

    2xLP Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.
    Black heavyweight vinyl, etched on side D.

    CD Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.

    "Juan Pablo: The Philosopher" has been one of our favourite releases here at Piccadilly in recent years, so we were utterly buzzing to hear word of a new LP from the mighty Ezra Collective. Soon enough the London five-piece furnished us with a promo CD, and it's been on the Piccadilly player ever since. Continuing the genre-bending journey they began on "Juan Pablo", "You Can't Steal My Joy" sees the ensemble apply their incredible musicianship to elements of Afrobeat, hip-hop, grime and dub, wrapping their diverse influences into their fearless, fun and contemporary take on jazz. If you needed any further evidence of their top tier credentials, they recently broke off from a sold out, mosh-pit-filled UK tour to play at Quincy Jones' birthday party - nuff respect. This is the jazz sound of 2019 folks - get joyful.

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Millie says: Contemporary Jazz 5-piece Ezra Collective have encapsulated joy in record form, and you can feel the happiness radiating through the tracks here, especially “Chris And Jane” and “Quest For Coin”. My record of the year by far, Afro-beat meets Jazz meets Hip Hop makes for a glorious combination to put you in an upbeat mood.

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    LP Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.

    CD Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.

    27 - Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds

    Ghosteen

    Ghosteen is the seventeenth studio album from Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, following 2016’s Skeleton Tree, and will be released via Ghosteen Ltd. The album was recorded in 2018 and early 2019 at Woodshed in Malibu, Nightbird in Los Angeles, Retreat in Brighton and Candybomber in Berlin. It was mixed by Nick Cave, Warren Ellis, Lance Powell and Andrew Dominik at Conway in Los Angeles.

    "The songs on the first album are the children. The songs on the second album are their parents. Ghosteen is migrating spirit." - Nick Cave.


    STAFF COMMENTS

    Darryl says: Spread across two albums, "The songs on the first album are the children. The songs on the second album are their parents. Ghosteen is migrating spirit." Nick Cave, ‘Ghosteen is a deeply introspective and at times an emotionally devastating listen exploring his personal grief following the death of his son. A melancholic yet beautiful masterpiece.

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    2xLtd LP Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.
    Gatefold sleeve.

    2xLtd LP includes MP3 Download Code.

    2xCD Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.
    Digipack CD.

    After a handful of singles (all of are included here), one of the most talked about new bands of the last 12 months finally release their debut album. Their visceral pop has drawn comparisons to Idles amongst others, but what really stands out and sets them apart is their roots. Straight from the off, there is no doubt where they’re from; Irish through and through. Their hometown of Dublin is a constant reference point throughout from it’s literary past to modern day life in the city. Considering the band have only actually been a band for three years, this is a remarkably assured debut that’s hard to ignore.

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Andy says: One of the year's most eagerly awaited albums did not disappoint when it arrived in April. A punk/post punk rock'n'roll band who actually sing about stuff, this record hits with the power of an early Smiths, Arctic Monkeys or even Oasis (more in attitude than anything else). It's like a poem to Dublin, getting out as much as revelling in, and singer Grian Chatten is the most authentic frontman we've heard in a long time.

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    LP Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.

    CD Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.

    We've come an awful long way since Floating Points' first utterances entered our stratosphere. That opening trio of twelves ("J&W Beat", "Love Me Like This" and "Vacuum Boogie") immediately caught the attention of us and our customers and we've been hooked on this cat throughout the last ten years.

    Whereas the incredible "Elaenia" (2015) was a five-year process, "Crush" was made during an intense five-week period, inspired by the invigorating improvisation of his shows supporting The xx in 2017. He had just finished touring with his own live ensemble, culminating in a Coachella appearance, when he suddenly became a one-man band, just him and his trusty Buchla opening up for half an hour every night. He thought what he’d come out with would 'be really melodic and slow-building' to suit the mood of the headliners, but what he ended up playing was 'some of the most obtuse and aggressive music I've ever made, in front of 20,000 people every night,' he says. 'It was liberating.'

    Fundamentally, this is still stylistically a Floating Points record. Classically informed pieces drift into focus without beats, only to dissolve into a mist of modular-generated textures. There's some speaker-tested mainroom techno moments, namely the lead single "LesAlpx" which concludes side A's meticulously programmed schedule with a moment of undiluted dancefloor energy. Fans of his jazz-flecked house will find tracks like "Last Bloom" and "Anasickmodular" a joy to behold; possessing that idiosyncratic shuffle and swing that instantly characterize an FP production. "Bias" opens side B with a unfathomably futuristic, attitude-ridden bass monster until Sam unexpectedly flips into his patented, cerebral jazz-house hybrid. Don't get me wrong though, he's not resting on his laurels in any way. His New Sounds bite and spit, as he seems to harness extraordinary levels of intricacy and power from his trusty Buchla synthesizer and his much lusted-after Arp Odyssey. More refined, more evolved, deeper, richer - but the same Floating Points - sound up your tree? It should be. 


    STAFF COMMENTS

    Matt says: The Chetham's graduate has been a permanent fixture on our shelves for the last decade. 'Crush' embodies everything we love about him across a succinct and direct two sides. Drifting through a highly musical sanctum, we get expressions on modular and synth informed, and indeed elevated, by Sam's well documented and rich musical education.

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    Indies Exclusive LP Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.
    140g black vinyl housed in a glossy sleeve with exclusive cover art, artwork printed inside and out, 4 page A4 booklet featuring a score of album track ‘Birth’.

    Indies Exclusive LP includes MP3 Download Code.

    LP Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.
    140g black vinyl housed in a glossy sleeve with artwork printed inside and out, 4 page A4 booklet featuring a score of album track ‘Birth’.

    LP includes MP3 Download Code.

    CD Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.
    CD in digipak with fold-out booklet featuring a score of album track ‘Birth’.

    30 - Amyl And The Sniffers

    Amyl And The Sniffers

    The debut album from Amyl and the Sniffers is the sound of 21st century Australia recorded in Sheffield with producer Ross Orton. It's primal and explosive with a love of glam, the 70's Sharpie movement and good time rock n roll backed with lyrics that somehow are simultaneously bleak and nihilistic, yet humorous and celebratory. The album is full of beefy riffs and stomping drums that rages and rolls and lives up to all the hype. It has attitude, sass and Amy's sore throat howl.

    Coming off the back of a hair raising gig at London's Moth Club (the band 'almost literally tore the roof off'), Amyl And The Sniffers are certainly one to watch if you like feisty, independent punk-n-roll.


    STAFF COMMENTS

    Mine says: Gnarly, energetic garage Aussie punk that demands to be played loud. Like a cross between GØGGS and Be Your Own Pet, this is their debut long player on Rough Trade! Thrashing guitars and an irreverent band name - what more could you ask for?

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    LP Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.

    CD Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.

    Allah Las have always been fascinated with both the carefree spirit and glitter-in-the-gutter lifestyle of their hometown LA. After three records mining its lore and lure (from the desert to the sea) and having taken their compact California on the road across the world, they couldn’t help but peek through the other end of the telescope.

    On their fourth LP, drummer Matt Correia, bassist Spencer Dunham, and guitarists Miles Michaud and Pedrum Siadatian turn their collective gaze outward and toward the horizon. "We’ve been travelling a lot the past couple years and I think that played a role in influencing the broader variety of songs on this record” Correia explains. Simply titled LAHS (a reference to a common misspelling of the band’s name), their forthcoming release on Mexican Summer finds a band at the peak of their powers.


    STAFF COMMENTS

    Barry says: The newest Allah Las outing sees the LA quartet absorb and excel at a dizzying range of influences, exploring everything from classic psychedelic rock, hazy Balearic vibes and 12-bar blues to latin percussion, swooning lounge and of course, their trademark swooning indie. It's a triumph of diversity and thematic consistency, and most of all, bloody good fun.

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    Coloured LP Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.
    Indies exclusive translucent orange vinyl.

    LP Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.

    CD Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.

    "Hasta El Cielo" is Khruangbin's glorious dub version of their second album "Con Todo El Mundo". The full album has been processed anew along with two bonus dubs by renowned Jamaican producer Scientist. The band’s exotic, spacious, psychedelic funk aligns with the dub treatment particularly well. Indeed, keen fans won’t find this a surprising release. Dubs of tracks from their first album "The Universe Smiles Upon You" appeared on limited vinyl releases of "People Everywhere" for Record Store Day 2016 and "Zionsville" on the BoogieFuturo remix 12”. The especially eagle-eared will have caught a dub of "Two Fish And An Elephant" playing over the credits of the track’s celebrated video.

    'For us, Dub has always felt like a prayer. Spacious, meditative, able to transport the listener to another realm. The first dub albums we listened to were records mixed by Scientist featuring the music of the Roots Radics. Laura Lee learned to play bass by listening to "Scientist Wins the World Cup". His unique mixing style, with the emphasis on space and texture, creates the feeling of frozen time; it was hugely influential to us as a band. To be able to work alongside Scientist, a legend in the history of dub, is an honor. This is our dub version of "Con Todo El Mundo.”' - Khruangbin

    Formed 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 music from around the world, 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. 2018’s follow up ‘Con Todo El Mundo’, which received hugely positive critical reactions and radio play around the world, took inspiration not just from South East Asia but similarly underdiscovered funk and soul of the Mediterranean and the Middle East, particularly Iran. 


    STAFF COMMENTS

    Emily says: Khruangbin’s deep, meditative grooves enjoy a generous helping of delay and spring reverb, with two bonus tracks mixed by none other than dub legend Scientist. This time the meandering guitar lines shimmer in the background while the bass and drums take centre stage. Sure to expand the corners of your mind and warm the chambers of your heart.

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    LP Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.
    LP and 7".

    CD Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.

    Jean Sandwich Records is pleased to announce the first, self-titled, album from Oregon’s Rose City Band, out May 24th, along with the album’s first single, “Rip City,” at Raven Sings the Blues. Born of the back roads, rivers, and quiet city streets of Oregon, the music captures the feeling of living and loving, riding and crashing and being, in the Pacific Northwest, circa 2019. It's the sound of Sunday morning strums and Saturday night choogle.

    Produced and recorded by Ripley Johnson (Moon Duo, Wooden Shjips) in Portland, and mixed by Chris Cohen, the album finds its niche in the hazy sonic landscape of private press country and psych records, and alongside artists like Relatively Clean Rivers, Jim Sullivan, Kenny Knight, and countless other explorers of the pastoral underground.

    Ripley describes the album this way:
    "The band was aiming to capture a timeless, natural sound, not quite of the present, past, or future, but phasing in between the consciousness of now and the stoned dream-state of the eternal. Sort of a back porch jam just as the shrooms are starting to kick in. Handmade and human, but also cosmic and transcendental. But the goal is to let the music speak for itself and hopefully find a weird and wonderful audience somewhere out there.”

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Darryl says: The debut album from Oregan’s Rose City Band produced and recorded by Moon Duo / Wooden Shjips’ Ripley Johnson. A beautifully timeless country-psych release with languid guitars and a hazy soundscape. Perfectly described by Ripley as a "sort of a back porch jam just as the shrooms are starting to kick in."

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    Ltd LP Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.

    When Francis Lung describes his new album as sounding “like a short Mancunian boy single-handedly trying to incite Beatlemania” he’s really not too far wide of the mark. ‘A Dream Is U’ is both bold and enthusiastic, a kaleidoscopic journey informed by the greats but also one that is wonderfully enigmatic, the sound of a multi-instrumentalist tying together all manner of influences into one beautifully cohesive album.

    Following on from the home-recorded Volumes 1 + 2 EPs, which contained titbits written during his time in Wu Lyf, ‘A Dream Is U’ is the first fully-realised Francis Lung record, a studio undertaking brought to life with producer Brendan Williams (Dutch Uncles, GoGo Penguin), a colourful patchwork of vision and ingenuity. “Before we started recording I knew exactly what the arrangements were in my head” Francis says, reflecting on the time spent devising his new work. "It was kind of my mission to capture everything as it was in my imagination”.

    A beautiful amalgamation of instruments, ‘A Dream Is U’ might fit neatly into the classic pop drawer but it comes with all manner of decoration, from violin and viola, to cello and saxophone. Writing for strings for the first time, Francis was inspired by the likes of Michael Brown (The Left Banke) and Robert Kirby (Nick Drake) and the parts are played by two members of the Hallé Orchestra, while the saxophone was played by Manchester’s jazz saxophonist Sam Healy. “He mostly played stuff I'd written for him,” Francis says, “but the solo at the end of The Lie is all him, with me in the studio trying to direct him by jumping around and waving my arms!”

    Initially conceived to outline the different stages of a relationship, from heady early excitement to bitter fall-out, the finished product is intact an assortment of sentiments, scattered like puzzle pieces from an overturned box. “The problem with that theme is that it was too cut & dry and unrealistic,” Francis says now. “You can have all of those feelings in one day in no particular order. It’s more human to me that emotions can come at any time, without any real resolution. I wanted the album to reflect that sentiment.”

    The new album is opened and led by ‘I Wanna Live In My Dreams’, a dazzling burst of Ronettes-inspired pop music, a love letter to sleeping, but also a song that buries allusions of real-world melancholy under its jubilant exterior, calling to mind the likes of Stephen Merrit, or later-day Elliott Smith, and their ability to shape moments of sadness into something strikingly pretty. “Songwriting is a bit like writing jokes, you have a setup and a knockdown,” Francis says. “But I really, really want to make music that makes people feel better, not worse. So I’m trying to push that line.”

    If that introduction was somewhat understated, the rest of the album isn’t afraid to delve into more mosaic territory, pulling in influences as far-ranging as Big Star and The Beach Boys; Guided By Voices, Olivia Tremor Control, Apples In Stereo. It’s not just a collection of straightforward love songs either. Companionship might be the central weight here but it’s presented in myriad forms. ‘Comedown’ for instance, tells a complex narrative of two people’s drug dependency, and the validation they find in each other’s abuse, alongside gentle piano lines and stirring strings, while ‘Up & Down’ is breezier affair on the surface but actually tells a bipolar love story, chronicling the relationship between two lovers with manic mood swings, the track itself swinging between tender verses and a dramatic chorus.

    Touching upon the universal themes of addiction, faith, and love in all of its confusion, ‘A Dream Is U’ is a collection of characters and stories that plays out something like a Harvey Pekar comic strip; an obsessive chronicle of daily lives twisted into new shapes by the unique mind and manners of their narrator. With flashes of striking colour and an ever-present wry smile, Francis Lung has created a debut album that drifts between simple acceptance and exuberant yearning for more. “My favourite part is when it talks about escaping to another universe,” Francis says of one song in particular, Unnecessary Love. “Although it’s a doomed and impossible dream, it’s amusing to me that if we survive long enough it could be a real possibility.”

    Perhaps the key to the record, in fact, can be found in its closing track. Written on a toy piano found in a charity shop, ‘The Lie’ is a boldly stirring pop song, projecting Francis’ own statement of intent, to find a way through the fogginess of self-struggle, to accept ourselves as we are. “I don’t like shouting all my lyrics,” he says, “but it feels like 'If you could accept yourself you'd be happy' is a good one to shout. I don’t want to oversimplify the solution to anybody’s struggles but I know that learning to accept myself would help me no end.”

    At times boisterous and radiant, elsewhere contemplative and brooding, ‘A Dream Is U’ feels like being awake in dreams, like stepping outside of the daily rotation; like shadows leaving their dancing bodies to waltz away to their own tune.

    by tom johnson.

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Andy says: Imagine Elliott Smith backed by Teenage Fanclub in heaven forever, and you having an idea of the chiming, melodic majesty within the grooves of this record. A total delight!

    Barry says: From his superb self-released EP's 'Mother's Son' and 'Faeher's Son', it was clear that Francis lung was indeed something special, and that has become even more obvious with the sparkling hazy beauty of 'A Dream Is U'. Channelling the spirit of swooning 70's psychedelia through a Mancunian dream-pop filter, this is a stunning and groundbreaking debut album proper. Essential listening.

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    Coloured LP Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.
    Indies exclusive limited 180g pink vinyl.

    LP Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.

    CD Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.

    35 - Girl Ray

    Girl - Signed Edition

      Girl is the second album from the North London band Girl Ray. Recorded at Electric Beach Studios in Margate with Ash Workman (Christine and the Queens, Metronomy), the album is a delightful, sun-kissed tribute to their love of pop and R&B.

      It was Ariana Grande’s explosion into pop culture that kickstarted a new era for Girl Ray, as well as the realisation that their most-listened-to Spotify playlists contained pure pop music. When Poppy began experimenting with writing songs on a computer using keyboards, a collection of shimmering, foot-tapping, sparkling pop bangers poured out. With this new set of songs, Girl Ray have been brave enough to completely change their sound rather than play it safe, yet still remain unmistakably themselves - it’s Girl Ray, but with added synths.

      If their debut, Earl Grey, was a hot cup of tea and a cuddle on the sofa, Girl is being in a cab with the windows down on the way to a beach bar for sundowners. It’s the excitement of Rihanna’s If It’s Lovin’ That You Want, combined with the eye-rolling, impenetrable sardonic humour of a girl gang. Among the grin-inducing, trepidatious and intensely courageous R&B-style tracks on the album, are also beautifully composed piano ballads steeped in the sadness and unrequited love that made Earl Grey feel like a knowing look from an old friend.

      Girl is expertly-crafted pop, created by dedicated artists on a mission to make music for people to really enjoy. Music that doesn’t look to confuse or patronise. Music to fall in love to, to dance to. Songs you’d want to send to your friends. They have used the universal, happy medium of pop music to put across joyous, accessible messages of love, friendship and life to the world, like some of the best songwriters before them.

      STAFF COMMENTS

      Andy says: We loved last year's debut album here at Piccadilly, as it reminded the oldies amongst us of those halcyon DIY mid-80s indie pop days, and the youngsters just felt like they could be in the band! For the follow up they've swapped guitars for synths and made a sweet pop record that's way more sophisticated, but still manages to display all the quirks and charm which made us fall in love with them in the first place.

      FORMAT INFORMATION

      Coloured LP Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.
      Red vinyl.
      Initial quantities are signed.

      CD Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.
      Initial quantities are signed.

      The lives we lead can feel like a simulation as the line between our reality and augmented futures continues to blur. Following the ever-emotive Boo Boo, Toro Y Moi’s new album Outer Peace is a time capsule that captures our relationship to contemporary culture into one comprehensive, sonic package.
      Shortly after the release of his 2015 record What For?, Toro Y Moi (also known as Chaz Bear) packed up his belongings, leaving the comfort of his Oakland base for the relative solitude of Portland to write Boo Boo. Apart from the familiarity of his surroundings, Bear focused on what would become his next sonic statement. In doing so, he was struck by the reign that technology holds over our day to day lives and its ability to obscure the consumption of creativity. His change of envi- ronment resulted in freedom from disturbances and, in those quiet and tranquil spaces, the creation of music acted as a protest in favor of peace.

      Having now moved back to Oakland, Bear’s new record Outer Peace is a response to the lessons gleaned while making Boo Boo — a response to the expendable state of art that is a product of instant grati cation. Bear’s ingenuity reveals a multifaceted expression of his universe on this record. It’s the space be- tween the accessible and unconventional where he invites us to experience Outer Peace, which is rooted in nding peace in antithetical conditions: being stuck in traffic, hustling for your next check as a freelancer and all other chaotic moments in life that require digging beneath the surface to nd solace.

      As both a producer and designer, Bear utilizes abstract sound pairings with recognizable samples for his most pop in uenced record to date. This is no de- parture from his funk and disco roots, which can be heard on “Ordinary Pleasure”, later fusing into variations of house with tracks like “Freelance” and “Laws of the Universe.” Smooth interludes melt into fast paced beats, paralleling the feeling  of driving through the Bay Area, where Bear spent most of his time writing the album.

      Outer Peace is duality. It embodies whatever form you choose to inhabit in the moment. Listen and let your imagination become the universe. 


      STAFF COMMENTS

      Barry says: Another great LP from Toro Y Moi, with pulsing beats and smooth synths all wrapping comfortably around the machinated vocal delivery. Working it's way between the dancefloor and home listening, there’s enough activity to keep you moving, but the whole thing is imbued with the kind of languid beats and euphoric basses that a more horizontal position can benefit. Perfect.

      FORMAT INFORMATION

      LP Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.

      LP includes MP3 Download Code.

      CD Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.

      Not Waving, But Drowning’ follows Loyle’s BRIT (Best Male, Best Newcomer) and Mercury Prize nominated, top 20 debut ‘Yesterday’s Gone’. The bedrock of honest and raw sentimentality that you heard on ‘Yesterday’s Gone’ left an inextinguishable mark on music in general and UK Hip Hop in particular, standing out as an ageless, bulletproof debut.

      ‘Not Waving, But Drowning’, Loyle’s new album, gives yet more evidence - as if it were needed - of his razor-sharp flow and his unique storytelling ability. Yes, he can rap, but he allies that with the sensitivity of a poet, the observational skills of a novelist, and warmth of your best friend. The album opens with ‘Dear Jean’, a letter to his mother in which he’s telling her that he has found the love of his life, “a woman from the skies”, and he’s moving out.



      STAFF COMMENTS

      Millie says: Loyle Carner’s poetic and distinctive rap makes him stand out from the crowd by miles, consistently making innovative music. His ability to weave in touching narratives and heartfelt open letters are captured perfectly on ‘Not Waving, But Drowning’, a truly beautiful and awe inspiring listen from start to finish.

      FORMAT INFORMATION

      Ltd LP Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.
      Gatefold sleeve, heavy weight black vinyl.

      CD Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.

      38 - Big Thief

      U.F.O.F.

      U.F.O.F., F standing for ‘Friend’, is the name of the highly anticipated third record by Big Thief, set to be released by 4AD on May. It was recorded in rural western Washington at Bear Creek Studios with engineer Dom Monks, and producer Andrew Sarlo who was also behind their previous albums.

      The New York-based band, featuring Adrianne Lenker (guitar, vocals), Buck Meek (guitar), Max Oleartchik (bass), and James Krivchenia (drums), has spent the last 4 years on an incessant world tour, winning the devotion of an enthusiastic and rapidly expanding audience.

      Their songs represent an emotional bravery and realness that weaves intimate relationships with the listener, a phenomenon that has made them one of the most widely-respected bands of the current era.

      STAFF COMMENTS

      Barry says: Big Thief are one of our favourites in Piccadilly, and this latest iteration of their sound really shows why. Skilfully toeing the line between mournful acoustic balladry, simmering country and more upbeat melodic indie, Big Thief have once again brought us an eminently listenable and transportative triumph.

      FORMAT INFORMATION

      LP Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.

      CD Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.

      In his relatively short career, the prolific Anderson .Paak has self-published over 100 songs to market. .Paak has acquired an impressive list of collaborations including acts such as Mac Miller, Chance the Rapper, Rapsody, A Tribe Called Quest, and his band The Free Nationals; a steady stream of requests to work with some of the industry’s most renowned artists, and an instant hit "Til It’s Over", heard in the Spike Jonze directed commercial 'Welcome Home' for Apple’s HomePod starring FKA Twigs. In 2018, his monster single "Bubblin" saw a Jimmy Kimmel Live! Performance and won him his first GRAMMY for Best Rap Performance in 2019.

      .Paak also made his debut SNL appearance performing "Tints" as well as "Who R U?" off his recent album "Oxnard", his third LP and first on Dr. Dre’s Aftermath Entertainment. The album marked a career high for him debuting as the #1 Independent album in the US according to Billboard as well as debuting at #5 on the Rap chart, #6 on the hip-hop / R&B chart and #11 on the Top 200. The phenomenal album was executive produced by Dr. Dre and features the likes of hip-hop legends Kendrick Lamar, Snoop Dogg, J. Cole, Q-Tip, and Pusha T. Following the album’s release, .Paak has been on a sold-out tour in both the US and Europe, with fans anxious to see his energetic and captivating live performances.

      Only five months after Oxnard’s release, Anderson .Paak’s latest project Ventura switches gears to soul from the grit and urgency that Oxnard brought acting as a juxtaposition to the two towns where .Paak grew up. Anderson explains:
      'Growing up in Oxnard gave me the grit and the church to find this voice of mine. One town over I went further and found my depth. The duality of each place inspired me greatly and from that I made two albums at the exact same time but held one back because that would have been too many songs to perform live for you all! I like ending things on an even number so welcome to "Ventura".'


      STAFF COMMENTS

      Martin says: An absolutely killer new outing from senior .Paak here, brilliantly displaying a refracted rainbow of R&B influences, brought together with his forward thinking lyrical content and staggeringly effective rhythmic flow.

      FORMAT INFORMATION

      Coloured LP Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.
      RSD stores exclusive on milky clear coloured vinyl.

      CD Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.

      Thom Yorke releases his new album ‘ANIMA’.

      ‘ANIMA’ was written by Thom Yorke and produced by Nigel Godrich.

      A ‘one-reeler’, also entitled ‘ANIMA’, will be available exclusively via Netflix, made by Paul Thomas Anderson and set to three tracks from Thom’s new album.

      STAFF COMMENTS

      Barry says: ‘Anima’ is yet more evidence of Yorke's endless artistic vision and his ability to turn his hand to any musical or audio-visual endeavour with unparalleled success. ‘Amina’ is both an arresting visual feat and a brilliantly realised auditory artifact, as comfortable being listened to in situ (with visuals) or on it's own.

      FORMAT INFORMATION

      2xColoured LP Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.
      Indies exclusive 140g orange vinyl in a wide-spine single sleeve with an additional 10th track (Ladies & Gentlemen, Thank You for Coming). This bonus track is exclusive to the vinyl and not included on the CD version or downloads.

      2xColoured LP includes MP3 Download Code.

      2xDeluxe LP Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.

      A beautiful hardback book containing both the lyrics and many strange drawings done in pencil by Stanley Donwood & Dr Tchock.

      Orange 180 gram double vinyl with an additional 10th track (Ladies & Gentlemen, Thank You for Coming).

      Printed onto Italian Fedrigoni Special Brown material paper and section sewn, the book is made up with an exposed orange cloth spine and orange gilt edging and finished with Bodonian Binding.

      2xDeluxe LP includes MP3 Download Code.

      2xLP Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.
      Black 140 gram double vinyl in a wide-spine single sleeve with an additional 10th track (Ladies & Gentlemen, Thank You for Coming). This bonus track is exclusive to the vinyl and not included on the CD version or downloads.

      2xLP includes MP3 Download Code.

      CD Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.

      The descent into darkness is a trope we find time again across history, literature and film. But there’s also an abyss above. There’s a winding white staircase that goes ever upward into the great unknown — each step, each turn, requiring a greater boldness and confidence than the one before. This is the journey on which we find Angel Olsen.

      Olsen’s artistic beginnings as a collaborator shifted seamlessly to her magnificent, cryptic-to-cosmic solo work, and then she formed bands to play her songs, and her stages and audiences grew exponentially. But all along, Olsen was more concerned with a different kind of path, and on her vulnerable, Big Mood new album, All Mirrors, we can see her taking an introspective deep dive towards internal destinations and revelations. In the process of making this album, she found a new sound and voice, a blast of fury mixed with hard won self-acceptance.

      “In every way —from the making of it, to the words, to how I feel moving forward— this record is about owning up to your darkest side,” Olsen said. “Finding the capacity for new love and trusting change, even when you feel like a stranger. This is a record about facing yourself and learning to forgive what you see. It is about losing empathy, trust, love for destructive people. It is about walking away from the noise and realizing that you can have solitude and peace in your own thoughts, that your thoughts alone can be just as valid, if not more.”

      STAFF COMMENTS

      Barry says: Swooning synth strokes, huge cavernous percussion and snappy mid-heavy bass form a fittingly retrophilic cushion for Olsen's always hypnotic voice, in this instance its commanding presence soars above the backdrop, both haunting and uplifting. 'All Mirrors' is a triumph.

      FORMAT INFORMATION

      2xColoured LP Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.
      Crystal clear vinyl.
      Includes exclusive “All Mirrors” alternate artwork print with initial copies.

      CD Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.

      Sampa The Great creates a sense of home on her debut album - “The Return”. A characterful record, its reference points range from classic hip-hop to ancient Southern African sounds. Built on four years of personal and musical soul-searching, it’s an assured statement, the product of meaningful musical connections and of Sampa having to redefine her self-identity away from the comforts of family and old friends.

      Building on her formative works, “The Return” sees Sampa tackle bigger questions, exploring what it means to feel at home, to feel excluded, and to see someone as an outsider. It stems from the rift Sampa has experienced in the rise of her career, where she’s celebrated as part of a new generation of Australian musicians while at the same time still being seen as an other. The album artwork features Sampa alongside a Nyau dancer - traditional dancers and figures that are found in villages across parts of Africa. For Sampa, the dancer represents the fear of the unknown which is often projected by the West when it comes to African traditions. She also wanted to rediscover her ancestors’ spirituality: her mother’s side of the family are of the Bantu ethnicity from which the Nyau tradition originates.

      The themes behind the album are addressed head on in title track ‘The Return’. At the close of the track, Whosane’s lyrics refer to “returning to the self of my self”. This, for Sampa, is what she’s been trying to do for the past six years: to find new ways of feeling at home and rediscover an emboldened idea of herself. "Home is described in a lot of ways and means a lot of different things to different people,” she says. “I had to redefine in my mind and in my spirit what home means.” The album is both a re-telling of that journey, and the realisation of her aim; the album walks us through that return to home, while the accomplished sound and lyricism underscores the steps she’s made as a person and artist.

      Her African heritage is an important aspect of her exploration of home. On ‘OMG’, for instance, she talks about celebrating the cultures and traditions of Africa:

      “Daddy adolescent said he’d get out from the streets
      Give him kid a feed
      Let em grow they feet
      Fly em out of Africa
      Give them kids a beat
      Show them how the other half
      How the world lives”

      Explaining the meaning behind the lyrics, she says, “I personally feel that people on the continent have a duty to our family in the diaspora, to re-teach our culture, language, spirituality, ways and return our peeps to ourselves. To me ‘OMG’ sounds like the songs we heard in our childhood. It’s broadly about flexing your culture! Loving where you’re from and even being shocked at the realisation of not knowing how dope it is to be ‘who you are’.” The video was shot between South Africa and Botswana, where she was raised, and gave Sampa the chance to involve her parents in her world. “I got to do something that I’ve never done before,” she says. “Which is to have my parents in one of my music videos. This is the first time they have been involved in my music at this level and it was important for me to express accepting and flexing my culture with the two people who know me most!”

      On album opener, ‘Mwana’, she employs the language of the Bemba tribe which her mother is a descendent of. “Mwana” means “child” in Bemba, and the song samples her mother and features her sister singing, making connections between her immediate family and their wider history. However, “The Return” is a reference to a physical journey, as well as a spiritual one; Sampa returned to Zambia and Botswana, where she was born and raised, respectively. There, she recorded the videos for both ‘Final Form’ - the triumphant single which sees her embrace the struggle of growing as an artist, and ‘OMG’. She is also set to release a short film titled ‘Homecoming’ about her experiences returning home to play her first shows on African soil. Across every aspect of “The Return”, from the music and the lyrics, to the visuals and the artwork, Sampa The Great returns to the foundations propping up her sense of self and in doing so makes a bold statement about who she is as an artist.


      STAFF COMMENTS

      Millie says: Sampa The Great’s masterful ‘The Return’ is the musical culmination of four years of self discovery, a theme which runs throughout the entire album. Incorporating everything we love about hip-hop as well as a celebration of Southern African rhythm, this album is pure and dynamic. Featuring some badass artists like Whosane and Krown, this is the gift that just keeps on giving.

      FORMAT INFORMATION

      2xColoured LP Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.
      Indies exclusive on 140g red and 140g green double vinyl inspired by the colours of the Zambian flag.

      CD Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.

      Having written most of his previous albums alone, About The Light marks a change in approach for Steve.

      “I decided with this album that I wanted to get my live band involved at every stage because I wanted to capture the energy that we produce when we play live shows, so this time the band and myself worked on a collection of songs over the course of last year,” he explains.

      Picking Stephen Street to produce the album, and with a very clear plan in mind, from the off the goal was to capture the songs live and draw out their soulful elements.

      Talking about the process, Stephen Street says, “Steve explained that he wanted to make this album with his band playing more ‘live’ than on some of his previous offerings and also to augment the songs with brass and female backing vocalists. I felt this approach of first stripping back the songs to a more ‘live’ feel to create more space for the more ‘soulful’ elements to breathe in was an interesting one and we got down to work!”

      Recorded at studios in London and Brighton, About The Light, sees a subtle yet noticeable evolution in Steve’s sound.

      “When I listen to this album it feels and sounds like the first ‘legitimate’ record that I have ever made. It’s hard to explain but it sounds like a ‘real’ album. I think that is partly the production, the playing and the work that I did with the band for all those months in our rehearsal room on the South Coast,” says Steve.

      “It’s a beautiful, confident, positive, angry, loving and gentle album which once again moves what I do forward,” he adds. “David Bowie said that you should always be slightly out of your comfort zone if you want to achieve greatness, and for the first time perhaps ever, I deliberately pushed myself into that place. Who doesn’t want greatness?”

      STAFF COMMENTS

      Laura says: Wearing his heart on his sleeve both emotionally and politically, the former Beta Band front man brings us his best and most direct album to date. As ever he dabbles with different genres, be it folky ballads, melodica tinged dub, Stones-ey southern Soul or big hook filled pop songs, but this time around, more than ever, he’s managed to meld everything into a cohesive, uplifting whole.

      FORMAT INFORMATION

      Coloured LP Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.
      Limited indies exclusive silver vinyl edition.

      LP Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.

      CD Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.

      Acclaimed Ukrainian-Brookyln rapper Your Old Droog recently made waves with the unexpected release of "It Wasn’t Even Close", a brand new album that drew widespread attention and endless praise after dropping in April with no advance warning. Fresh off this success, your old pal is returning less than two months later with "Transportation". The album features 15 tracks, all of which loosely relate to a method of transportation. 'Not everything is literal though,' says the artist, which comes as no surprise considering the man’s penchant for abstract metaphors.

      "Transportation" finds Your Old Droog returning to the unique remind-you-of-NYC-at-night soundscapes that served as the backdrop to his classic self-titled debut, which was named one of the top 10 albums of 2014 by The New York Times and one of the top 15 rap albums of 2014 by Rolling Stone. Similar to the first project, the bulk of the beats on "Transportation" are handled in-house by eclectic Inwood beat wizard Mono En Stereo. Droog sounds more than at home delivering the audio equivalent of comfort food, with interludes sprinkled around beats and rhymes that go together like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a cold glass of milk in the middle of the night. In Droog’s case, it might be Bulgarian buttermilk.


      STAFF COMMENTS

      Matt says: Compiling our end of year chart it was obvious Droog was gonna feature. But choosing between this and ‘It Wasn't Even Close’ has been tough. For its wider range of styles and more consistent hit-rate throughout, this has just clinched it. Full of his downright hilarious skits and poignant commentary, Droog's still not frontin', instead concentrating on real life and metaphysical style. If you don't know - get to know!

      FORMAT INFORMATION

      LP Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.

      CD Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.

      45 - Tenesha The Wordsmith

      Peacocks & Other Savage Beasts

      Tenesha the Wordsmith, who came to the fore on On The Corner’s 2018 release ‘Black Noise 2084’, has delivered a hard-cutting, gut-wrenching, and extremely moving spoken word album produced by Khalab that brings together different lines of black music – folkloric, jazz, and electronic dance – into an afro-futurist narrative with thunderous results. ‘Peacocks & Other Savage Beasts’, set for release on 30 August, lays bare difficult truths and projects the stories of hidden voices, with a warm and heartfelt delivery that envelops the soul.

      The poems are dedicated to the intersection, the places where we contemplate identity, culture, trauma and love. ‘Peacocks & Other Savage Beasts’ is a place where they all meet. “I hope between these lines you find healing,” says Tenesha. “I hope your compassion for others grows. I hope you will make the decision you were afraid to make. I hope you will learn how to turn pain into power and purpose. Decide which type of beast you want to be and if you can’t make up your mind, watch the women…”

      Originally from Oakland, California, “a place where revolutionaries are born,” Tenesha the Wordsmith originally began to fuse hip hop and poetry while living in Albany, New York, where she created her first collection ‘Body Of Work’. Her early influences have returned with features from beatboxers and vocalists that give the album a distinctly urban hip hop vibe.


      STAFF COMMENTS

      Patrick says: After a standout contribution to Khalab’s ‘Black Noise 2084’ LP last year, Tenesha teams up with the producer once again, delivering poetic, polemic and emphatic spoken word over an array of Afro-futurist beats. Sex, love, race and equality are all explored by an artist operating at the cutting edge of music and poetry.

      FORMAT INFORMATION

      LP Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.

      CD Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.

      46 - Sarathy Korwar

      More Arriving

      Born in the US, raised in India and resident in the UK, Korwar has established himself as one of the most original and compelling voices in the UK jazz scene, collaborating with the likes of Shabaka Hutchings (The Comet Is Coming), clarinettist Arun Ghosh and producer Hieroglyphic Being

      Korwar’s debut Day To Day (Ninja Tune, 2016), combined the folk rhythms of India’s Sidi community with contemporary electronics and jazz textures, earning praise from the likes of Four Tet, Gilles Peterson and Floating Points.

      We live in divisive times. Multiculturalism rises hand-in-hand with racial tensions, and politicians seem powerless to even bring people within earshot of their convoluted message. It’s time for a different perspective.

      On his second studio album, More Arriving, Sarathy Korwar blasts out his own vibrant, pluralistic missive for the world to hear. This is not necessarily a record of unity; it’s an honest reflection of Korwar’s experience of being an Indian in a divided Britain. Recorded over two and a half years in India and the UK, More Arriving draws on the nascent rap scenes of Mumbai and New Delhi, incorporating spoken word and Korwar’s own Indian classical and jazz instrumentation. This is a record born of confrontation; one for our confrontational times.

      With this album, Korwar expands his politicised narrative to envelop the entire diaspora. “This is a modern brown record. The kind of record that a contemporary Indian living in the UK for the past 10 years would make,” Korwar says. “This is what Indian music sounds like to me right now.”

      It all begins with the title: “More Arriving comes from the scaremongering around Brexit,” Korwar says. “It’s a tongue-in-cheek play on the fact that there are more people coming and you’ll have to deal with it!” Through this defiance, Korwar takes clear pride in the knotty mix of his identity – harking back to the new India of the Mumbai hip-hop kids, as well as identifying with London’s cultural diversity. “I want the idea of brown pride to come through,” he says. “My voice is one amongst a thousand, but this record is a snapshot of something much greater than myself. It’s the chance to send a message.” 


      STAFF COMMENTS

      Barry says: A highly political record, fitting in perfectly between the colourful sounds of modern India and the UK's flourishing appreciation for nu-jazz and hip-hop. Korwar has managed to craft a brilliantly immersive LP, seamlessly segueing between genres while retaining the parts of each that make them great. A true melting pot, and a necessary political statement.

      FORMAT INFORMATION

      LP Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.

      CD Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.

      “Well I don’t really like talking to myself, but someone’s got to say it, hell...”

      You know this voice. An old friend has returned. It was some years back that you dropped the needle on the record and heard it say, “No, I don’t really wanna die...” Like so many lines you couldn’t possibly have guessed the finish to, it’s now among the flat natural-born good-timin’ faves that you sing along with in the jukebox inside your head. It’s loaded up there along with at least a couple dozen others from Silver Jews, whose classic run was made somehow finite in 2009, when the voice himself, David Berman, announced his retirement from music. Ten years have come and gone since then. Where the time goes, we do not know. What do they say about old songwriters? We don’t know that one either, okay? We’re not good with jokes – we’re just glad that there’s always more songs to be written and sung. That’s what raised up Purple Mountains for all of us, after all.

      Yes, Purple Mountains is the new nom-de-rock of David Berman. Purple Mountains is also the name of what will be known as one of his greatest albums – full of double-jointed wit and wisdom, up to the neck in his special recipe of handcrafted country-rock joys and sorrows that sing legendary in cracked and broken hearts. The songs are produced impeccably by Woods’ Jarvis Taveniere and Jeremy Earle, buffed up like a hardwood floor ready to be well-trod upon for an evening of romance and dance. And then…

      What is 10 years? What are 50? How is everything anything in the eventual blink of eternity? The songs of Purple Mountains are a potent brew, stitched together from lifetimes, knitting the drift of the years with the tightest lyric construction Berman’s ever attempted. Honesty is archly in the air, but lines of incredible bleakness somehow give way to playful distraction and the hiding of surprises for close listeners. Even still, as the songwriter once wrote, “every single thought is like a punch in the face.” It won’t take long after slapping the record on the platter for you to hear that this is one of THOSE albums. There’s breakup records. There’s apocalypse records. Then there’s Purple Mountains.

      The portrait is David Berman’s most to-the-bone yet, very frankly confessing a near-total collapse from the first moment, then delving into the layers of nuance with twin lazers of personal laceration and professional remove. This etches a picture that cries to be understood in the misbegotten country that made everything great about Purple Mountains. America’s fate is that of its treasured icons: the cowboy, the outlaw, the card sharp and the riverboat gambler, who all face simple resignation in the end. There are no perfect crimes. Berman’s poet-thief of so many precious moments, now stripped and chastened, recalls his latest lowest moments in perfect detail, hovering ghostly above the tumescent production sound as it echoes with tragic majesty and the sound-fragments of former glory, evoking the defeated-king era of late Elvis, soutern-fried and sassy still on his countrypolitan way down, and somehow still solid-gold at the bottom.

      Berman’s songwriter’s bone’s never been laid more bare, either – if redemption doesn’t come on the lyric sheet, the act of putting these songs into singing, dancing form allows them their finest end – to provide infotainment for others, embodying moments of life and truth via music that elevates with disarming warmth and a reassuring commonality, even as David himself stands outside the communal campfires.

      Where are you tonight, America? The things that used to be have slipped away into the darkness without you knowing it, and your children are wandering in a blasted landscape, with only Purple Mountains left to comfort them, and David Berman’s shattered fables for company.

      STAFF COMMENTS

      Andy says: An incredible record with just the saddest/funniest lyrics. David Berman was a poet as well as a genius song-writer and for me, this is even better than anything he did with Silver Jews. Backed by Woods, one of my favourite bands, who play more Americana than psych here, there is not one weak track on show. David Berman RIP.

      FORMAT INFORMATION

      CD Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.

      Snapped Ankles have taken on the guise of the very agents of their community’s demise – the property developers and brokers who heat the market on the promise of ‘Stunning Luxury’. With their adopted warehouse habitat under constant threat, the woodwose have taken this sharp-suited incarnation in order to infiltrate. The resistance starts here.

      From humble forest beginnings via bohemian East London on debut album Come Play The Trees, Snapped Ankles are moving on. The log synths have been transformed into gaudy “To Let” and “For Sale” signs, which have become the new instrument of choice for the discerning woodwose. The sounds they eke out of the housing bubble are as frenzied and unstable as you’d expect. Dystopian bangers. Illicit thrills. Stunning Luxury moves quickly through life in the capital: microdosing mindfulness in the morning, a poisoned nod to the marketing department, investment portfolios and death by same day delivery.

      The primal rhythms and forest chants are all present and correct. On the surface it’s hedonistic business as usual – a communal dance for the ages. But there’s a sense of discomfort too. There’s subversion, but it’s not clear who’s subverting who. There’s a message, but it’s often fragmented. Keep dancing. Keep foraging. Perhaps the woodwose are human after all…


      STAFF COMMENTS

      Darryl says: Throbbing pulses, primal motorik melodies and fiery post-punk aggression spew forth from the sophomore Snapped Ankles outing. Continuing on from 2017 triumphant debut ‘Come Play The Trees’, it’s as if they were born to make this sound. A destabilizing stew that moves the body and the mind.

      FORMAT INFORMATION

      LP Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.
      Black vinyl.

      CD Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.

      49 - Chali 2na & Krafty Kuts

      Adventures Of A Reluctant Superhero

      The time has finally come to grab your capes, don a pair of tights and load up the turntable ready for the show to begin. This is "Adventures Of A Reluctant Super Hero" - prepare for the Purple Assassin and the Scratchman as they come and save your city, the scene and hip-hop as we know it.

      Featuring a who’s-who of collabs and guest appearances from hip-hop royalty, this 14-track record takes you to just about every corner of the genre, leaving no stone unturned. With Lyrics Born and Gift Of Gab joining on "Guard The Fort" to deliver a serious statement of intent to open the LP, the rest of the record is an adventure through funk, breaks, rolling basslines, buckets of groove and everything in-between.

      Throw in a generous portion of expertly delivered bars and vocals from genre sidekicks like Harry Shotta, Skye (Morcheeba), Omar, Dynamite MC and more, and you’re left with a hip-hop record that not even the comic books could have conceived.


      STAFF COMMENTS

      Matt says: Hip Hop continues to be a dominating force as trap, grime and rap vie for the spotlight. Chali 2na & Krafty Kuts bring that old skool boom-bap flavour and keep us noddin' till sun down. Ffffressh!

      FORMAT INFORMATION

      Ltd LP Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.
      LP version comes with an exclusive 8-page comic-book by official Star Wars illustrator JAKe.

      Ltd LP includes MP3 Download Code.

      CD Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.

      Jenny Lewis returns with her fourth solo album, On The Line - the follow up to 2014’s critically acclaimed The Voyager.

      The 11 all new original songs were written by Lewis and recorded at Capitol Records’ Studio B, and feature a backing band of legendary talent including Beck, Benmont Tench, Don Was, Jim Keltner, Ringo Starr and Ryan Adams. 


      STAFF COMMENTS

      David says: Jenny's fourth solo album is by a long way, her best. The self confessional songwriting that works its magic throughout 'On The Line' is like a gossipy phone call with your favourite (forsaken) 'bad' sister, full of tales of the kind of life you wish you were living and all delivered in THAT voice. Unmissable.

      FORMAT INFORMATION

      Coloured LP Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.
      Indies exclusive blue vinyl.

      CD Info: Includes a free EOY 2019 CD sampler.

      Cigarettes After Sex return with their anticipated sophomore album. Recorded during night time sessions in a mansion on the Spanish island of Mallorca, the album is a lush, cinematic meditation on the many complex facets of love - meeting, wanting, needing, losing...sometimes all at once. The album was self-produced and engineered by Greg Gonzalez, and mixed by Craig Silvey (Arcade Fire, Yeah Yeah Yeahs).

      STAFF COMMENTS

      Barry says: Much like their debut, 'Cry' is full of wistful moments of contemplative beauty and heady, rich waves of synth and restrained bass throbs. Classic chord progressions and tear-jerking vocal performances make for a more refined distillation of the sound that garnered them so much attention the first time around. Lovely stuff.

      FORMAT INFORMATION

      Coloured LP Info: Indies only clear vinyl edition, includes 12” x 12” poster insert (album art on one side, lyrics on the reverse).

      LP Info: Black vinyl, includes 12” x 12” poster insert (album art on one side, lyrics on the reverse).

      Hania Rani is a pianist, composer and musician who splits her life between Warsaw, where she makes her home, and Berlin where she studied and often works. She has written for strings, piano, voice and electronics and has collaborated with the likes of Christian Löffler, Dobrawa Czocher and Hior Chronik, and released an album with her Polish group tęskno last year. She has performed at some of the most prestigious venues in Europe - from the National Philharmony in Warsaw, to Funkhaus in Berlin, to The Roundhouse in London (where she made her debut at the Gondwana 10thanniversary festival last October) and at festivals such as Open'er, Scope Festival and Eurosonic. Her compositions for solo piano were born out of a fascination with the piano as an instrument, and her desire to interpret its sound and harmonic possibilities in their entirety and in her own way. "I think I am the same as an artist and as a person. Music is my way of communication and I see the art, the music as a whole thing, with no borders, divisions, or even genres."

      Esja is her debut solo album and for Rani it is her first, real, personal statement as an artist. "No hiding behind the "collaborations" or "projects" anymore. For the very first time, finally - just me, as I am".

      Recorded at Rani's apartment in Warsaw (the piano room has a beautiful reverb and the space has become part art studio and part sound laboratory for Rani) and at her friend Bergur Þórisson'sstudio in Reykjavik, Esja is a series of beautiful melodic vignettes. Sensual, sensitive, rhythmic, atmospheric, free but harmonious, beguiling and hypnotic, collectively they project a sense of unlimited space and time.


      Sleaford Mods are one of the most important, politically charged and thought-provoking duos currently making their mark on the UK music scene and beyond. They are now poised to release their fifth studio album entitled ‘Eton Alive’ in February 2019. The album, which features 12 new tracks from the prolific artists, was recorded in Nottingham. The record will be the first release on Jason and Andrew’s newly formed label ‘Extreme Eating’ and their first album since parting ways with Rough Trade Records.

      “Eton Alive speaks for itself really. Here we are once again in the middle of another elitist plan being digested slowly as we wait to be turned into faeces once more. Some already are, some are dead and the rest of us erode in the belly of prehistoric ideology which depending on our abilities and willingness, assigns to each of us varying levels of comfort that range from horrible to reasonably acceptable, based on contribution. So after the digestive system of the Nobles rejects our inedible bones we exit the Arse of Rule, we fall into the toilet again and at the mercy of whatever policies are holding order in the shit pipe of this tatty civilisation. It is here our flesh regenerates as we rattle into another form, ready, and ripe for order”. – Jason Williamson.

      STAFF COMMENTS

      Barry says: The Mods return once again for another politically charged slice of snarling vocal fire and wry social commentary. This time we get a more momentous charge towards post-punk minimalism, drum machines and distorted bass taking a back seat to the increasingly effective two-part baying of Williamson & Fearn.

      FORMAT INFORMATION

      Coloured LP Info: Indies Only Blue Vinyl.

      Los Angeles-based artist SASAMI announces her self-titled debut album.

      If you’ve ever drafted an overly long text to someone and decided against sending it, then you'll probably hear something of yourself in SASAMI. Los Angeles based songwriter and multiinstrumentalist Sasami Ashworth wrote the album’s ten tautly melodic rock tracks over the course of a year on tour, playing keys and guitar with Cherry Glazerr, tracking the thrills, disappointments and non-starters of a year spent newly single and on the road.

      With featured artists Dustin Payseur (Beach Fossils), Devendra Banhart and Soko, this is a slice of 90s distorted guitar pop wonderment you won’t want to miss.

      STAFF COMMENTS

      Barry says: Wonderfully wonky at points, rhythmically diverse and musically immersive, Sasami's debut LP is an absolute storm of inventive poly-rhythms ('In Hollywood' is a prime example) presenting themselves without getting in the way of the listeners enjoyment. From tender, almost whispered vocals to huge distorted scree, this debut LP is an absolute rollercoaster, and unlike a rollercoaster, enjoyable throughout.

      55 - International Teachers Of Pop

      International Teachers Of Pop

      The Moonlandingz founders / writers Adrian Flanagan (Eccentronic Research Council) & Dean Honer (All Seeing I / I Monster) bumped in to lead singer, Leonore Wheatley (The Soundcarriers) at a ‘Circuit Bending Workshop’ in South Yorkshire where they decided to try writing “one song together and see what happens!”

      Well, what happened from writing that one song was; Marc Riley at BBC 6 Music invited them in to do a live radio session for which they wrote a couple more songs. Then the Lord & Lady Mayoress of SHEFFIELD outsider pop music, Jarvis Cocker & Roisin Murphy, both invited the group (now calling themselves, INTERNATIONAL TEACHERS OF POP) to do a few live shows with them. One (with Jarvis) was for two nights in a cave in Derbyshire and the other (with Roisin) at the prestigious Somerset House in London, so the band wrote a few more songs to give themselves something resembling a live set.

      Immediately after those live shows they signed a record & distribution deal with Republic of Music in Brighton which allowed the group to put out a couple of killer singles over the summer - the Northern Rail baiting, nerd disco of ‘Age of the Train’ & the ‘Moroder playing down a youth club in Rotherham’ radio bothering, ‘After Dark’ which helped the group build some traction via their own label imprint, Desolate Spools. Now, after a spate of sporadic sell out shows, a mini tour and electrifying festival appearances, ITOP are proud to announce the release of their eponymously titled debut album and a full U.K. tour to support it.

      ‘International Teachers of Pop’ was all written, recorded and Mixed at Dean Honer’s Bowling Green Studios in Sheffield using mainly pre- 1980’s U.S & Soviet analogue synthersizers and a collection of dusty old drum machines and is influenced by producers of disco & pop such as Giorgio Moroder, Martin Rushent & Bobby Orlando whilst straddling a lineage of artist such as Kraftwerk, the Human League, Suzanne Ciani & Broadcast.

      An album covering an esoterically wide array of subjects from throbbing disco monster (and possible next single) ‘The Ballad of Remedy Nilsson’, a song about a disobedient pet, ‘On Repeat’ which is a song about the monotony of going to work in Brexit Britain, or album closer, and ode to terrible pronunciation, - ‘Oh Yosemite’ which also features additional vocals & drums from ‘Levenshulme High School Choir’ and Moonlandingz / ITOP live drummer, Richy Westley.

      Always with one eye on pop music and the other on something more artful, playful and slightly wicked, Leonore Wheatley from the group describes it as “Grace Slick on the raz with Donna Summer and the Pet Shop Boys, legging it over to Kraftwerk’s gaff for a quick synth-sesh before getting a cab round to All Saints gaff to sing at the telly til the sun comes up!”

      Adrian Flanagan of the group continues: “I think It’s the 3rd most important outsider pop album to come out of Sheffield since Dare & Different Class. Sheffield has a great history of drawing out these awkward, gangly weirdoes that make a very British, nay eccentric, kind of pop music that stews in the underground for a few years then appears seemingly from nowhere fully formed, like a very peculiar butterfly. I think as we collide head first in to this political sea of ‘total and absolute’ carnage, people are gonna need music & live shows like ours. We are not about separating ourselves from society and being another bunch of rockstar /pop star dicks, we have always been on the outside anyway, it’s about unifying ; ITOP is a bonafide 125 BPM cuddle for the masses!”


      FORMAT INFORMATION

      Coloured LP Info: Green vinyl.

      A culmination of life and musical experience, uncompromising in its vision, STONECHILD, the new studio album from Jesca Hoop is a self-described “compassion project.” 

      Released by Memphis Industries, STONECHILD is Hoop refined and defined. Beautiful, subtle and stark, her fifth album, the follow up to 2017’s highly acclaimed ‘Memories Are Now’, is her best yet. 

      Despite being a long-term resident of Manchester, Hoop, has until now, returned to her native California to record. This time round however, “it was” according to Hoop “time to step out of my comfort zone, my safe place”, venturing south to Bristol to team up with producer John Parish (PJ Harvey, Aldous Harding, This is the Kit). Parish’s minimal and purist approach helped clarify Hoop in her ideas and subtly yet effectively realigning her sound. The simplified arrangements draw focus to the fundamental sophistication of the songs. 

      While Hoop’s trademark finger-plucked guitar and ethereal textures remain, the songs and their presentation are ever more direct. Parish “was a gentle collaborator until he killed one of my darlings” Hoop jests. “I’ve never been so brutally edited, and I wasn’t shy about expressing my discomfort at the sight of my work on the cutting room floor. He said, you will forgive me, and in some way, I think I actually enjoyed that treatment…being stripped back to the bare basics…albeit painfully”. STONECHILD ventures further into fresh territory with other voices joining the narrative, with Kate Stables (aka This is the Kit) Rozi Plain and Lucius singing the choruses and expanding the sensual depth of the sonic bloom. 

      STONECHILD, Hoop says, is intended to “wrap its arms around our human planet spinning in its increasingly precarious wobble”. These rich and curious songs derived from themes of our troubled times speak Hoop’s heart and mind from her empathetic yet tough loving centre point. With writing so fluid, so natural the result is an album where everything is truly meant.

      STAFF COMMENTS

      Barry says: Gorgeous fingerplucked guitar brings echoes of 60's folk, alt-country and modern brooding indie, all wrapped together with Hoop's delicate, prominent vocal talents. Brilliantly textured but smoothly flowing from one idea to another. A masterclass in restraint and songwriting.

      FORMAT INFORMATION

      Dinked Edition LP Info: • Mirror board sleeve.
      • Signed 12 x 12 lyrical scrawl art print, by Jesca.
      • White and black 180g marble vinyl.
      • An exclusive flexidisc featuring non-album song “Waking Andreas”.
      • Numbered.

      Dinked Edition LP includes MP3 Download Code.

      Coloured LP Info: Indies Exclusive Limited Edition White and Black Marble vinyl (180 gram).

      Coloured LP includes MP3 Download Code.

      An amorphous musical collective put together by Rich Machin and Duke Garwood, with a rolling cast of players assembled from the likes of Soulsavers, Spiritualized, Stereolab and Julian Cope. For Machin, Garwood and the other musicians (Ray Dickaty, Tim Lewis (aka Thighpaulsandra), Pete Marsh, Paul May Doggen), a sense of adventure and devil-may-care inventiveness took precedence over precise design when they started the recording process at Gabriel’s Real World studio in the autumn of 2017.

      'One of the big things I wanted to achieve with this record was breaking away from things being super planned out,' Machin explains. 'To actually just go into a studio without having everything mapped out in advance. And being comfortable enough to see what happens. It was incredibly stressful at first, but once you realize it works it’s actually a really nice way to work.'


      STAFF COMMENTS

      Barry says: Like a slo-mo distillation of Joe Henderson and Alice Coltrane, the quiet temple serve up a trundling jazzy bouquet brimming with languid psychedelic flourishes, slowly growing into a bloom otherworldly drone. Properly hypnotic and brilliantly emotive.

      Hey there, human kids,
      Lift your face out of the feed trough and pluck that feculence from your ears. Hark! A sonar blip from beneath the pile of bodies. Boop, blip ughhh….
      People churning like a boiling swamp. Man, this din is nauseating.
      The screen flickers for the first time this year with a transmission from two months in the future:
      “the internet has deemed guitar music dead and you are free to do whatever the fuck you like ….long live the new flesh!”

      This album is Soundcloud hip-hop reversed, a far flung nemesis of contemporary country and flaccid algorithmic pop-barf.
      No songs about money or love are floating in the ether.
      Just memories, echoes, foggy blurs
      Blip-blop goes the scope
      Heavy funk
      Dystopia-punk canons
      Lonnnnng jams
      Bloated solos dribbling down your caved-in chest.
      Human cattle like a beef avalanche, right on your burned out face hole.
      Spider legs fuzz crawling in your brain.
      Lots of curse words for your mom.
      You’ve gotten the over-population blues, so let’s have some art for art’s sake.
      What else are you gonna do?
      Stare at the sky? Please…
      50 carbon copies of you look back at you as you walk the streets.
      Take a breath, you’re going to need it.
      Take drugs, you’re going to need those just to stand in line at the air and water reclamation center soon enough.
      There’s no fruit, buddy.
      You’re at the bleak-peak.
      They will squeeze you till you’re all squeezed out.

      For fans of fried prog burn out, squished old-school drool, double drums, lead weight bass, wizard keys (now with poison), old-ass guitar and horrible words with daft meanings.
      If you don’t like it then don’t listen, bub.
      Back to the comments section with you!
      Easy
      Over and out

      - John Dwyer.

      STAFF COMMENTS

      Barry says: Obviously the Oh Sees had to release another album on the same week as their top competitors in the 'Who Can Write The Most Albums' game (it's a good one), and much like KG&tLW, they've smashed it once again. It's no surprise that Dwyer has formed a brilliantly heavy but perfectly nuanced mix of production perfection and instrumental devastation. Everything you'd imagine, and some stuff you probably wouldn't. Ace.

      FORMAT INFORMATION

      2xColoured LP Info: Limited edition indies only version.
      One LP translucent Red vinyl and one LP translucent Orange.

      59 - Bat For Lashes

      Lost Girls

        Bat For Lashes - aka Natasha Khan - releases her fifth studio album, entitled Lost Girls, via AWAL Recordings.

        Lost Girls is another brilliant full-length in Khan's incredible, acclaimed discography, mixing sounds she's always loved -- heavy bass lines, synth arpeggios, Iranian pop beats, cascading choruses -- with some of her finest songwriting to date. It's an album full of romance, an homage to Los Angeles, to being a kid in the 80's, to films that touched and changed her life.

        Spanning 10 tracks, Lost Girls sees Khan dreaming up her own fully formed parallel universe, creating an off-kilter coming of age film in which gangs of marauding female bikers roam our streets, teenagers make out on car hoods and a powerful female energy casts spells and leave clues for us to follow.

        STAFF COMMENTS

        Barry says: Khan releases her most synthy outing yet, with the saturated vibe of 80's synth-pop perfectly complimenting her airy, enchanting vocals. Brilliantly produced and brilliantly written throughout, this is sure to go down as her best LP to this point, a dreamy triumph.

        FORMAT INFORMATION

        Coloured LP Info: Indies exclusive "Sunrise" coloured vinyl.

        Coloured LP includes MP3 Download Code.

        Brian Jonestown Massacre burst into 2019 with the release of their 18th full-length album, just 7 months after their last one. The self-titled 9-track album was recorded and produced at Anton’s Cobra Studio in Berlin and is release on Anton Newcombe’s A Recordings.

        Recorded last year, the album features Sara Neidorf on drums, Heike Marie Radeker (LeVent) on bass, Hakon Adalsteinsson (BJM / Third Sound & Gunman & Holy Ghost) on guitar and Anton Newcombe on multiple instruments. Also making a guest vocal appearance on ‘Tombes Oubliées’ is Rike Bienert who has sung on previous BJM albums.

        STAFF COMMENTS

        Mine says: You would think that after 17 studio albums fans might get a bit bored - or that a band might have lost its momentum - but the opposite is true on the aptly titled 'Brian Jonestown Massacre'. Despite sounding 100% like Anton Newcombe, the record feels fresh and relevant, much more so than the only recently released 'Something Else' if you ask me. Highly recommend!

        FORMAT INFORMATION

        Coloured LP Info: 180 gram clear vinyl LP in superb deluxe packaging.

        Aldous Harding releases her third album, Designer. Designer finds the New Zealander hitting her creative stride. After the sleeper success of the internationally lauded Party, Harding came off a 100-date tour last summer and went straight into the studio with a collection of songs written on the road.

        Reuniting with John Parish, producer of Party, Harding spent 15 days recording and 10 days mixing at Rockfield Studios, Monmouth and Bristol’s J&J Studio and Playpen. From the bold strokes of opening track ‘Fixture Picture’, there is an overriding sense of an artist confident in their work, with contributions from Huw Evans (H. Hawkline), Stephen Black (Sweet Baboo), drummer Gwion Llewelyn and violinist Clare Mactaggart broadening and complimenting Harding’s rich and timeless songwriting.

        STAFF COMMENTS

        Barry says: Another stunning LP from Harding here, being a favourite in the shop, we're no newbies to her own brand of rhythmic country-tinged melodic indie, but this time around we get the Welsh input from Huw Hawkline and Steve Baboo, both acts i'm well accustomed with from my time in Cardiff, and both perfectly fitting in to Harding's musical world. Beautiful stuff.

        FORMAT INFORMATION

        LP includes MP3 Download Code.

        I Am Easy To Find is the band’s eighth studio album and the follow-up to 2017’s GRAMMY®-award winning release Sleep Well Beast. A companion short film with the same name will also be released with music by The National and inspired by the album. The film was directed by Academy Award-nominated director Mike Mills (20th Century Women, Beginners), and starring Academy Award Winner Alicia Vikander. Mills, along with the band, is credited as co-producer of the album, which was mostly recorded at Long Pond, Hudson Valley, NY with additional sessions in Paris, Berlin, Cincinnati, Austin, Dublin, Brooklyn and more far flung locations. The album features vocal contributions from Sharon Van Etten, Brooklyn Youth Chorus, Lisa Hannigan, Mina Tindle and more.

        I Am Easy to Find is a 24-minute film by Mills starring Alicia Vikander, and a 68-minute album by the National. The former is not the video for the latter; the latter is not the soundtrack to the former. The two projects are, as Mills calls them, “Playfully hostile siblings that love to steal from each other”—they share music and words and DNA and impulses and a vision about what it means to be human in 2019, but don’t necessarily need one another. The movie was composed like a piece of music; the music was assembled like a film, by a film director. The frontman and natural focal point was deliberately and dramatically sidestaged in favour of a variety of female voices, nearly all of whom have long been in the group’s orbit. It is unlike anything either artist has ever attempted and also totally in line with how they’ve created for much of their careers.

        As the album’s opening track, ‘You Had Your Soul With You,’ unfurls, it’s so far, so National: a digitally manipulated guitar line, skittering drums, Berninger’s familiar baritone, mounting tension. Then around the 2:15 mark, the true nature of I Am Easy To Find announces itself: The racket subsides, strings swell, and the voice of long-time David Bowie bandmate Gail Ann Dorsey booms out—not as background vocals, not as a hook, but to take over the song. Elsewhere it’s Irish singer-songwriter Lisa Hannigan, or Sharon Van Etten, or Mina Tindle or Kate Stables of This Is the Kit, or varying combinations of them. The Brooklyn Youth Choir, whom Bryce Dessner had worked with before. There are choral arrangements and strings on nearly every track, largely put together by Bryce in Paris—not a negation of the band’s dramatic tendencies, but a redistribution of them.

        “Yes, there are a lot of women singing on this, but it wasn't because, ‘Oh, let's have more women's voices,’ says Berninger. “It was more, ‘Let's have more of a fabric of people's identities.’ It would have been better to have had other male singers, but my ego wouldn't let that happen.”

        FORMAT INFORMATION

        2xColoured LP Info: Indies only 140gram clear vinyl – limited edition, one pressing only.

        3xDeluxe LP Info: 140g set on opaque red / yellow / grey colours.
        5th side contains 22 minutes of music from the I Am Easy To Find Original Film Score – EXCLUSIVE to this format.
        Etching on the 6th side.
        Tri-fold LP jacket.
        3x printed innersleeves.
        24 page booklet.
        24” x 24” poster folder.
        Housed in printed plastic sleeve.

        2xLP Info: Black vinyl.

        Here it is! This is the follow-up to the critically acclaimed 2014 collaboration album "Pinata", between Mid-West rapper Freddie Gibbs and DJ & super-producer Madlib. It continues with more of Gibbs' unmatchable, poignant and downright filthy commentary on lifestyle choices of the rich, holding and criminal with his misogynistic humour not necessarily to everyone's taste but hilariously quick, observant and on point throughout much of the LP. Madlib's schitzo-frenetic beats switch up quicker than the 49's backline, full of crate-dug crackle and a historic presentation of blacksploitation in the 21st century.

        Featured artists include:- Pusha T, Killer Mike, Anderson Paak, Yashin Bay & Black Thoughts.



        STAFF COMMENTS

        Matt says: As fiesty, potty-mouthed and charismatic as ever, Freddie Kane returns with Madlib on the dials for another xxxplicit account of modern manhood, street politics and the continuing hip-hop soap opera.

        FORMAT INFORMATION

        Ltd LP includes MP3 Download Code.

        Shop favourite, production genius and all round sweetheart Martin Brew makes a welcome return to our humble shelves under his J-Walk moniker, bestowing upon us the sublime summer sounds of his new LP "Mediterranean Winds". As the title would suggest, this deeply Balearic affair cuts the engine and unfurls the sails, trailing a coastal triangle from Capri to Cannes to Calpe. 
        As J-Walk welcomes us into his personal paradise of openhearted melodies, delicate texture and cinematic beauty, we're met with dubby lilt ("Tramontana", "Poniente" and "Le Mistral"), soulful chug (Libeccio"), relaxed house ("Ostro") and slinking synthery ("Sirocco"). It's lush and lovely stuff, perfect for breakfast on the terrace, afternoons by the pool or a sunset stroll, cocktail in hand on each occasion. Sonic bliss folks.


        STAFF COMMENTS

        Patrick says: The ever pleasant and uber-talented J-Walk returns to soundtrack our summer all over again with this brand new set of sultry magic. Hardcore Balearic with hints of dub, mellow house and slinky funk - cocktails not included...

        “In this post-industrial, post-enlightenment religion of ourselves, we have manifested a serpent of consumerism which now coils back upon us. It seduces us with our own bait as we betray the better instincts of our nature and the future of our own world. We throw ourselves out of our own garden. We poison ourselves to the edges of an endless sleep.

        Animated Violence Mild was written throughout 2018, at Blanck Mass’ studio outside of Edinburgh. These eight tracks are the diary of a year of work steeped in honing craft, self-discovery, and grief - the latter of which reared its head at the final hurdle of producing this record and created a whole separate narrative: grief, both for what I have lost personally, but also in a global sense, for what we as a species have lost and handed over to our blood-sucking counterpart, consumerism, only to be ravaged by it. 

        I believe that many of us have willfully allowed our survival instinct to become engulfed by the snake we birthed. Animated - brought to life by humankind. Violent - insurmountable and wild beyond our control. Mild - delicious.
        This is perhaps the most concise body of work I have written to date. Having worked extensively throughout my musical life with dramatics, narrative, and ‘melody against all odds’, these tracks are the most direct and honest yet. The level of articulation in these tracks surpasses anything I have utilized before.”
        - Benjamin John Power.

        STAFF COMMENTS

        Barry says: Huge lurching arpeggios and cavernous percussion snaps glitch their way around a solid core of 16-bit reductions and skittering vocal shards. Drawing a flawless line between game soundtracks, rawkous EDM and the slowly building electronics of dancefloor trance or the incremental atmospheric accentuation of 70's prog. Indescribably mad, but thoroughly addictive.

        FORMAT INFORMATION

        Dinked Edition LP Info: • Exclusive numbered edition of 500 units only.
        • Exclusive pink coloured vinyl.
        • Exclusive tote bag.
        • Exclusive Sticker.
        • Exclusive print.

        Coloured LP Info: Indies only green vinyl.

        From the new track’s opening “I Ain’t Your Baby,” the Nashville singer, songwriter, downtown scene slayer, and most-wanted fiddler signals a reclaimed confidence and bold evolution, telling women’s stories - including her own - that build on the strength of her “nervy” (NPR Music), 2017 Jack White-produced debut. Lillie Mae led a sequestered childhood touring in a motorhome with her musician parents, constricted by religious boundaries. In her adolescence she busked from RV parks to the Rio Grande, swept through Nashville clubs, and achieved Top 40 country status in her sibling group Jypsi, but on Other Girls, a new side of herself emerges with more to say than ever before. She embraces personal triumphs on “I Came For The Band (For Show),” breathes new perspective into “Terlingual Girl,” a song she wrote as a 19-year-old in the South-Texan desert, and professes brave truths as heard in “You’ve Got Other Girls for That.” After a vagabond past, crossing paths with hundreds of musicians, she limits the cast of Other Girls to just her brother, sister, and a few trusted collaborators. Lillie Mae will debut songs from Other Girls live this summer, as she supports the Raconteurs across the west coast. She will also join Robert Plant on tour, both opening for him and playing in his band. 

        STAFF COMMENTS

        Barry says: Other girls is a brilliantly written mix of classic country chord structures and the slightly gloomy reverb and poignant minor key changes of modern folk, all brought together with deft production and a stunning vocal performance from Lillie Mae. Stunning stuff.

        Melina Duterte, aka Jay Som, wrote most of her brilliant new album, Anak Ko—pronounced Ah-nuh Koh and meaning “my child” in Filipino—in a burst during a self-imposed week-long solo retreat to Joshua Tree. As in the past, Duterte recorded at home and remained the sole producer, engineer, and mixer. Honing in on simplicity and groove, refining her skills as a producer, Duterte cracked her sound open subtly, highlighting its best parts: She’s bloomed.

        Inspired by the lush, poppy sounds of 80s bands such as Prefab Sprout, the Cure, and Cocteau Twins—as well as the ecstatic guitarwork of contemporary Vancouver band Weed—Anak Ko sounds dazzlingly tactile, and firmly present. The result is a refreshingly precise sound.

        FORMAT INFORMATION

        Coloured LP Info: LP is pressed on Red, Orange & Pink Splatter Vinyl.

        68 - Warmduscher

        Tainted Lunch

          Warmduscher return.

          Heavy metals.

          Disco Peanuts.

          CCTV in the break room.

          A little something to get you through the week. There’s enough to go around. Revenge is a dish best served bold. Melt in the mouth disco basslines on a fragrant bed of feedback. Try it with the boom bap tapenade. Here for a good time, not a long time.

          If you made your way out of Whale City with your faculties intact, this one’s for you. Clams Baker, Lightnin’ Jack Everett, Mr Salt Fingers Lovecraft and The Witherer have been joined by Quicksand on cutting board and cheese wire and commis chef Cheeks on vibes. They’ve been cooking. Michelin stars. The finest ingredients money can buy: Kool Keith and Iggy Pop. Funk, punk, hip-hop and lounge rock. Love is real.

          Band biographer and revered botanist Dr Alan Goldfarb describes the album as “a sample hole through which to taste another universe. A dramatic warning. A gilded aroma. It is a tale of wanton desire and limitless treachery. A tale of disillusionment – the refusal of exploitation.”

          Tainted Lunch was recorded in just four days, with soupe du jour Dan Carey (Kate Tempest, black midi, Fontaines DC). Warmduscher continue to live on their razor-sharp wits. Or as Clams Baker puts it “there’s no way to stop now”. Delivering the goods you never knew you needed.

          If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.

          STAFF COMMENTS

          Barry says: Massive, throbby basslines and snappy disco percussion take the lead before giving way into sweaty club grooves and distorted post-punk. Warmduscher succeed just as easily at hypnotic indie-rock as they do anthemic dancefloor tackle. Never a dull moment, and every one as brilliantly done as the last.

          FORMAT INFORMATION

          Coloured LP Info: Indies exclusive red vinyl with poster.

          LP Info: Black vinyl.

          The combined forces of Steve Davis, Kavus Torabi (Gong/ Cardiacs/ Knifeworld/ Guapo) and Michael J. York (Coil/Teleplasmiste/Guapo) have arrived at no less than a modular driven kosmische colossus of transcendent power enough to drive all talk of green baize firmly into the blue yonder.

          With Davis’ modular geometry and ambient structures weaving with Torabi’s keen and skewed sense of melody and York’s various gifts for pipes, drones and fevered abstract – the result is a beguiling tapestry as likely to remind listeners of the countercultural benchmarks of Terry Riley, Cluster and Fripp/Eno as the latervortex-voyages of Emeralds and Seefeel. “The overall sound was pretty accidental” reckons Kavus. “I certainly didn’t expect the music to sound so ecstatic and positive, Without wanting to puncture the mystery, there really felt like an element of magic at play in making this album. For the most part it was incredibly effortless” It was never any secret that Davis - even at the peak of his household name status in the 1980s - was as happy putting a needle on a vinyl record as anything else involving a cue. What’s more - his music obsession took on new bounds after his retirement from sport in 2016, with his DJ partnership with Torabi taking him to festivals and clubs for many a head-spinning rampage, in which the wide-eyed assembled would be as likely to hear Autechre as Black Sabbath.

          “In twenty years of making records it’s certainly been the easiest and most enjoyable to make” reflects Kavus. “Now, this may have been partly due to us having no preconceptions or expectations but it wasn’t just that. There was absolutely no conflict, and we spent a lot of time together working on it - in my experience that’s a total f**king miracle” “The personal journey I’ve been on since January 2nd 2018 with Kavus and Mike has been surreal” says Steve. “Probably more so than even the path that unfolded for me in snooker. That was pretty far out but this seems otherworldly!” 

          STAFF COMMENTS

          Barry says: I've never particularly cared about snooker, nor any sports really, so to me Steve Davis has always been a guy who I recognised and thought was dead friendly. It turns out we have a major shared interest and a shared modular dealer to boot. The Utopia Strong, in which he's joined by some of the most legendary names in psych music history is a wonderful LP, rife with growling modular, flickering arps and Kosmische glory.

          Back in stock Cover of KIWANUKA by Michael Kiwanuka.
          The self-titled record usually marks a definable phase of a musician’s career; an embrace of personal mythology, perhaps, or merely a shift to ‘take me as I am’ straightforwardness. But “Kiwanuka”, the single eponymous word that heralds Michael Kiwanuka’s third album, holds a resonant, complex significance. It signals, for one thing, a swift, pointed rejection of the stage personas that artists have historically donned as both a freeing creative mask and a protective shield. It is an act of cultural affirmation and self-acceptance: a young British-African, contemplating the continued struggle for racial equality, and proudly celebrating the Ugandan name his old teachers in Muswell Hill would struggle to pronounce. It is a nod to a suite of arresting, ambitious soul songs that – while they deftly recall the funkified epics of artists as varied as Gil Scot-Heron, Fela Kuti, Bobby Womack and Kendrick Lamar – cement the singular, supremely confident sound that made 2016’s Love & Hate such an undeniable step up.

          Now, following ‘Money’ – the lauded summer single collaboration with Tom Misch – and a sunset Park Stage set that was the talk of Glastonbury 2019, the long-awaited follow-up to that record can be announced. And “Kiwanuka”, like its creator, contains multitudes; it offers both the triumphal, grin-widening empowerment of opener ‘You Ain’t the Problem’ and the ruminative, candlelit intimacy of ‘Solid Ground’. It looks inward and out, across widescreen sonic landscapes constructed in recording studios in London, Los Angeles and New York, and provides a sumptuous showcase for the honey-poured mahogany of Kiwanuka’s voice. It skilfully crosses the streams of the personal and the political. No other name would really have done.

          “I remember when I first signed a record deal, people would ask me, ‘So what are you going to be called?’” laughs the man himself, considering the thought process that inspired the title. “And I never thought of that; calling myself Johnny Thunders or whatever, like singers from the past. But I have thought previously, would I sell more records if my name had an easier ring to it? So [on this album] it’s kind of a defiant thing; finally I’m engaging with who I am and I’m not going to have an alter ego, or become Sasha Fierce or Ziggy Stardust, even though everyone's telling me I need to be this, that or the other. I can just be Michael Kiwanuka.”

          In many ways this self-possession is a direct consequence of Love & Hate. That record added an unexpected Mayfieldian groove and scope to to the scuffed, ‘70s-infused mellowness of Home Again, Kiwanuka’s Mercury-nominated 2012 debut. Album number two, of course, got its own place on the Mercury shortlist (not to mention a No 1 chart position, a Brit Award-nomination and the wide cultural blast radius afforded by songs that featured on shows like The Get Down, When They See Us and, most notably, HBO’s Emmy-winning Big Little Lies).

          “Kiwanuka” marks a reunion of the team that conjured ’s acclaimed, pulsing soulscape – namely Gnarls Barkley hit whisperer Brian ‘Danger Mouse’ Burton and British hip hop producer Inflo – and it actually began life not long after the 32-year-old had finished touring its predecessor. Early Los Angeles sessions – in May, 2017 – proved wildly productive. Maybe, in fact, too productive. The trio had sketched out around eight songs – including lyricless, early versions of ‘You Ain’t the Problem’ and the spine-tingling, wintry ballad ‘Piano Joint (This Kind of Love)’ – at such a breathless gallop that Kiwanuka felt some of his old doubts and insecurities creep back. “It was all so fast,” he reasons. “I remember having a conversation with Danger Mouse where I even asked, ‘Is this my album?’” He chuckles at the memory. “That was the lack of self-belief and me beating myself up.”

          An extended recess was called and, when the team fully reconvened in New York in November 2018, Kiwanuka returned to the project with a new vigour, confidence and a clear sense of this new record’s themes and immersive, sonic textures. It was here that he actualised the lyrically knotty, comforting message of ‘You Ain’t the Problem’ (“It almost made me feel like being a rapper,” he grins); where he turned ‘Hero’ into a shape-shifting, thunderously percussive mini-movie, partly inspired by slain civil rights activist Fred Hampton; here that he crafted the hazy refrain – “” – that allied with Danger Mouse’s rhythm guitar playing to give psych-gospel highlight ‘I’ve Been Dazed’ its eerie, hypnotic power.

          “We had three weeks and every day I would just do this half hour walk from my hotel by the Brooklyn Bridge to the studio in Red Hook, listening to backing tracks and scribbling lyrics on hotel paper or in my little scrapbook,” he says, more than a little wistfully. “It felt like being 15. And that excitement and childish imagination really helped me forget that it was a scary process.” This youthful sense of play also led to the invocation of some, possibly surprising, tonal influences from Kiwanuka’s childhood as a skater kid who loved Nirvana and Green Day as much as Outkast and Lauryn Hill. Using the cinematic skits and interludes of a record like by The Fugees as a springboard, Kiwanuka wondered if the horn-drenched grandeur of previous lengthy songs like ‘Love & Hate’ and ‘Father’s Child’ could be intensified and transformed into something even more atmospheric, more immersive.

          The result is the unhurried, auterish poise that may be one of “Kiwanuka”’s most striking features. ‘Piano Joint (This Kind of Love) Intro’ sets the scene with windblown harmonies and a rumbling, canyon-deep baritone to rival Isaac Hayes (it’s actually Kiwanuka, detuned). ‘Another Human Being’ features a jolting gun shot and a quote taken from a participant in the Civil Rights ‘sit-in’ protests that swept through North Carolina in 1960 (‘Interlude (Living All the People)’ also features the voice of congressman and activist John Lewis). ‘Hard To Say Goodbye’ is a dawnlit, 7 minute opus that Kiwanuka garnished with the sampled sound of twittering birds. “I was really influenced by the vividness of something like ,” he explains, about the desire to create such a rich, inhabitable world.

          And he even allowed himself to be coaxed towards stretches of musical terrain that he would never have ordinarily explored. When Danger Mouse first started working towards the skipping, almost ‘80s rhythm of ‘Final Days’ – about as far from “Home Again”’s retro soul as this new record gets – Kiwanuka was hesitant. “It’s kind of spacey so I took a lot of convincing,” he admits. “But we went the whole hog with it and it’s one of my favourite songs now.”

          It tells its own story that Kiwanuka – who came up in the pub rooms of London’s acoustic scene before winning the BBC’s Sound Of 2012 poll – is now so happily embracing musical touchstones and styles that may have once seemed contradictory. The revelatory, confessional core of ‘Black Man in a White World’ (which grappled with identity and Kiwanuka’s status in communities where he was conspicuously the only ethnic minority) has evolved into something a little more certain. Now, Kiwanuka’s reengagement with his Ugandan heritage (he hopes, he notes, to play some shows there soon) manifests in skittering Afrobeat drums and guitar lines that he hopes possess “the feeling of a Fela track”. Now, the wide-lapelled, shimmering doo-wop of ‘Living In Denial’ implores you to . Now, and here we return to that album title, ‘Hero’ opens with the proud, chest-puffed line: .

          “The last album came from an introspective place and felt like therapy, I guess,” he reasons, surveying it all. “This one was a bit more about feeling comfortable in who I am and asking what I wanted to say. Like, how could I be bold and challenge myself and the listener? It is about self-acceptance in a bit more of a triumphant rather than a melancholy way.”

          “Kiwanuka” solidifies one of British music’s more remarkable career progressions. The man behind it has put his immense natural gifts to work in an album that wields difficult subjects – black identity, violence, self-doubt – with a light touch and a dramatist’s sense of mood, space and atmosphere. “The things that end up being enjoyed are often things you want to hide,” he says, quietly. “But obviously that’s the stuff that makes us connect.” Telling people who you are – truly, unabashedly showing yourself – has never sounded more thrilling.

          By Jimi Famurewa, July 2019.


          FORMAT INFORMATION

          Deluxe CD Info: Hardcover book deluxe edition.

          Occupying the corners between fuzzed-out shoegaze bliss, troubadour poetry, and metallic catharsis, DIIV –– Zachary Cole Smith [lead vocals, guitar], Andrew Bailey [guitar], Colin Caulfield [vocals, bass], and Ben Newman [drums] —— personally inhabit the recesses of their third fulllength album, Deceiver. A whirlwind brought DIIV here. On the heels of 2012’s Oshin, the group delivered the critical and fan favorite Is the Is Are in 2016. Praise came from The Guardian, Spin, Rolling Stone and more. Pitchfork’s audience voted Is the Is Are one of the Top 50 Albums of 2016, as the outlet dubbed it “gorgeous.” Simultaneously, frontman Zachary Cole Smith faced down seemingly dormant demons, and the momentum stalled.

          Two years after embarking on a program of recovery, Smith has emerged with a clear head and renewed focus. For the first time, DIIV lived with songs on the road. During a 2018 tour with Deafheaven, they performed eight new compositions as the bulk of the set. The tunes progressed as the players did. By the time DIIV entered 64 Sound to record with producer Sonny Diperri, the band felt a certain confidence.

          It’s evident on first single “Skin Game,” which gallops forth on a clean guitar riff before unfolding into a hypnotic hook offset by an off-kilter rhythm and hummable solo. “Being a recovering addict myself,” he says, “there are a lot of questions like, ‘Who are we? What is this disease?’ ‘Skin Game’ looks at where the pain comes from – the personal, physical, emotional, and broader political experiences feeding into the cycle of addiction for millions of us.”

          A trudging groove and wailing guitar punctuate a lulling apology on the magnetically melancholic “Taker.” For Smith, it’s “about taking responsibility for your lies, their consequences, and the entire experience.” Meanwhile, the ominous bass line and crawling beat of “Blankenship” devolve into schizophrenic string bends with the vitriolic lyrics. The seven-minute “Acheron” offers a dynamic denouement, flowing through a hulking beat guided under gusts of lyrical fretwork and a distorted heavy apotheosis.

          “We’re proud of this, because we earned it as a band,” Cole says. “I’m really happy and grateful just to do it in the first place. I can see the change. It’s not a record full of solutions, but I’m living my life. I’ve examined the consequences of my lies; I’ve got something to say now.”

          STAFF COMMENTS

          Barry says: 'Deceiver' is by far the most cohesive and thematically consistent DIIV release yet in a succinct, yet superb catalogue. Swathes of distortion and echoing guitars are expertly laid down before Cole Smith's hypnotic vocals make their mark, coalescing into a lysergic, shoegazing maelstrom.

          FORMAT INFORMATION

          Coloured LP Info: Grey Marble Vinyl.

          Coloured LP includes MP3 Download Code.

          LP includes MP3 Download Code.

          72 - EX:RE

          EX:RE - Bonus Disc Edition

          FOR A LIMITED PERIOD ONLY BOTH ALL FORMATS INCLUDE A FREE CD BONUS DISC, 'LIVE AT HOXTON HALL 28.11.18'  (TRACKLISTING BELOW).

          Elena Tonra, guitarist, vocalist and lyricist of Daughter, has announced details of a solo project. Running parallel to Daughter, she’s assumed the pseudonym Ex:Re (pronounced ex ray) for her eponymously-titled debut solo album, a deeply personal record that was made with both a sense of urgency and a cathartic need. Just finished, it’s being released with equal speed and will be out digitally on 30th November

          Tonra’s candid solo songs document the time after a relationship ended and are written like unsent letters to herself and others. Taking on a creative moniker, she chose Ex:Re to mean ‘regarding ex’ and also ‘X-Ray’ as a way to look inside and see what is really there. Writing took a year but the recording process lasted mere months, turning to Fabian Prynn (4AD’s in-house engineer and producer) and composer Josephine Stephenson on cello to help bring Ex:Re to life.

          Elena said of the album, “Although the record is written for someone, a lot of the time it’s about the space without that person in it. In every scenario, there's either the person in memory or the noticeable absence of that person in the present moment. I suppose it is a break-up record, however I do not talk about the relationship at all, and he hardly features in the scenes. He is only felt as a ghostly presence.”

          STAFF COMMENTS

          Barry says: Daughter were one of the most refreshing bands to come out a good few years ago, and this Solo album from haunting voiced singer, Elena Tonra is a beautiful and comfortingly different outlet for her undeniable vocal and songwriting talents. Beautiful.

          FORMAT INFORMATION

          LP Info: Includes the 'Live At Hoxton Hall 28.11.18' CD bonus disc.

          CD Info: Includes the 'Live At Hoxton Hall 28.11.18' CD bonus disc.

          The Specials, one of the most electrifying, influential and important bands of all time, release “Encore”, their first new music for 37 years.

          2019 marks the 40th anniversary of the formation of The Specials and the legendary Two-Tone label in Coventry in 1979, and also marks 10 years since the band reformed to play some of the most vital and joyous live shows in recent memory.

          The 10-song “Encore” was produced by Specials founding members Terry Hall, Lynval Golding and Horace Panter alongside Danish musician/producer Torp Larsen and indeed is the first time Hall, Golding & Panter have recorded new material together since the band’s 1981 No.1 single Ghost Town.



          74 - Jamila Woods

          LEGACY! LEGACY!

          In the clip of an older Eartha Kitt that everyone kicks around the internet, her cheekbones are still as pronounced as many would remember them from her glory days on Broadway, and her eyes are still piercing and inviting. She sips from a metal cup. The wind blows the flowers behind her until those flowers crane their stems toward her face, and the petals tilt upward, forcing out a smile. A dog barks in the background. In the best part of the clip, Kitt throws her head back and feigns a large, sky-rattling laugh upon being asked by her interviewer whether or not she’d compromise parts of herself if a man came into her life. When the laugh dies down, Kitt insists on the same, rhetorical statement. “Compromise!?!?” she flings. “For what?”

          She repeats “For what?” until it grows more fierce, more unanswerable. Until it holds the very answer itself.

          On the hook to the song “Eartha,” Jamila Woods sings “I don’t want to compromise / can we make it through the night” and as an album, Legacy! Legacy! stakes itself on the uncompromising nature of its creator, and the histories honored within its many layers. There is a lot of talk about black people in America and lineage, and who will tell the stories of our ancestors and their ancestors and the ones before them. But there is significantly less talk about the actions taken to uphold that lineage in a country obsessed with forgetting. There are hands who built the corners of ourselves we love most, and it is good to shout something sweet at those hands from time to time. Woods, a Chicago-born poet, organizer, and consistent glory merchant, seeks to honor black people first, always. And so, Legacy! Legacy! A song for Zora! Zora, who gave so much to a culture before she died alone and longing. A song for Octavia and her huge and savage conscience! A song for Miles! One for Jean-Michel and one for my man Jimmy Baldwin!

          More than just giving the song titles the names of historical black and brown icons of literature, art, and music, Jamila Woods builds a sonic and lyrical monument to the various modes of how these icons tried to push beyond the margins a country had assigned to them. On “Sun Ra,” Woods sings “I just gotta get away from this earth, man / this marble was doomed from the start” and that type of dreaming and vision honors not only the legacy of Sun Ra, but the idea that there is a better future, and in it, there will still be black people.

          Jamila Woods has a voice and lyrical sensibility that transcends generations, and so it makes sense to have this lush and layered album that bounces seamlessly from one sonic aesthetic to another. This was the case on 2016’s HEAVN, which found Woods hopeful and exploratory, looking along the edges resilience and exhaustion for some measures of joy. Legacy! Legacy! is the logical conclusion to that looking. From the airy boom-bap of “Giovanni” to the psychedelic flourishes of “Sonia,” the instrument which ties the musical threads together is the ability of Woods to find her pockets in the waves of instrumentation, stretching syllables and vowels over the harmony of noise until each puzzle piece has a home. The whimsical and malleable nature of sonic delights also grants a path for collaborators to flourish: the sparkling flows of Nitty Scott on “Sonia” and Saba on “Basquiat,” or the bloom of Nico Segal’s horns on “Baldwin.”

          Soul music did not just appear in America, and soul does not just mean music. Rather, soul is what gold can be dug from the depths of ruin, and refashioned by those who have true vision. True soul lives in the pages of a worn novel that no one talks about anymore, or a painting that sits in a gallery for a while but then in an attic forever. Soul is all the things a country tries to force itself into forgetting. Soul is all of those things come back to claim what is theirs. Jamila Woods is a singular soul singer who, in voice, holds the rhetorical demand. The knowing that there is no compromise for someone with vision this endless. That the revolution must take many forms, and it sometimes starts with songs like these. Songs that feel like the sun on your face and the wind pushing flowers against your back while you kick your head to the heavens and laugh at how foolish the world seems.

          STAFF COMMENTS

          Millie says: Jamila Woods returns with her soul-filled lyrics and incredible, strong vocals. The song titles are named after inspiration black people in creative industries and in her lyrics incorporates their experiences and how they came to be. The album is truly beautiful and holds the same strength and passion as her debut, Heavn.

          FORMAT INFORMATION

          2xColoured LP Info: Indies exclusive pale pink vinyl.

          "Age Of The Ego" is the immaculately-crafted eighth album by dance-music-national-treasures Crazy P. Fans of Fleetwood Mac, Peter Gabriel, Grace Jones, Arthur Russell, Jam Hammer, Prince and Bobby O will find much to like, but this is clearly modern music, where heavy clubs beats are layered-up with perfectly-placed arrangement, ace playing and stratospheric soundscapes. Musically, Crazy P’s breadth of studio and writing experience shines brighter than ever, and "Age Of The Ego" has their unmistakeable stamp of quality, but is now augmented with a broader palate, and - like many - a feeling of upset with the state of the world.

          'I don't usually write my lyrics in advance, as I feel they’re expressed better in tandem with the music, which seems to help tap into my subconscious. What came out on several tracks was Brexit, the state of UK politics and the way I feel about divisive, abhorrent manipulation by certain media outlets. Thematically parts of album were also influenced by the rise of social media, the struggling education system and how it’s failing our young, and the impact all of this has on us. It’s been hard to not be emotionally influenced by the situation we find ourselves in; not just in this country, but worldwide. I feel very angry and frustrated, but sometimes have to laugh at myself, because I struggle to articulate my feelings in normal conversation. I suppose lyrically it is political, a reflection of the times, but with a twist of humour and always a lot of love,' explains Danielle.

          Ok but what do we think? Obviously, it's quite bitter sweet hearing Dani express herself this way; as their music has always sought to uplift and elevate through the optimistic and energetic vibe of disco's past glories. Don't worry though, the music still shines, and the grooves are here to make you wobbly, dance and jump; but look beyond that and there's some inspired lyrical genius contained within. And for that we have to applaud Danielle - it'd be very easy to ignore the current world situation and bury your head in a sand of instagram posts and self-indulgent tweetings. Instead Danielle, and the rest of the band of course, have taken the moral stand and addressed the issue. When musicians have the platform and influence that they do, Dani almost makes it seem criminal that on the whole the music community doesn't do more to change things. Here's to the revolution! 


          The recordings on Oneness date from Jan, March and September 2008 and were born from a period of experimentation as Halsall first began to explore the music that would provide the inspiration for his spiritual jazz recordings Fletcher Moss Park and When the World Was One. They also offer an intriguing snapshot into the birth of Halsall's Gondwana Orchestra and feature many musicians who would go on to become a key part of Halsall's musical journey, such as harpist Rachel Gladwin, bassist Gavin Barras and saxophonist Nat Birchall. The recordings sat in the Gondwana Records vaults for over a decade before Halsall felt it was the right time to share them. Asked about the recordings Halsall says:

          "I've always treasured these recordings and loved how vulnerable, open and free they are, but I just felt they were too subtle and sensitive to release early on in my career, so I held them back until now. I also feel now is the right time to release these before I begin a fresh journey with a new bunch of musicians."

          Remarkably, the beautiful compositions heard here were all built around a simple tanpura drone sound. An instrument Halsall heard on Alice Coltrane's 'Journey In Satchidananda' album and then at a later date in a concert featuring Arun Ghosh on clarinet and John Ellis on piano. "I loved the way this instrument created a sort of meditative atmospheric pulse for the musicians to work over and it had this beautiful feeling of togetherness, so after the gig I went out and bought a Raagini Shruti box featuring the tanpura drone and began to practice my trumpet over it and wrote lots of loose themes and melodies".

          The sessions that make up Oneness capture Halsall in the process of building a new band, reaching out to various musicians he'd discovered and admired on the Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds music scene. "I really liked this idea of bringing lots of musicians together from different backgrounds and was fascinated with how they would all react to each other and the tanpura drone box seemed to bring everyone together really well, it was kind of like a nice meditative icebreaker exercise for everyone to loosen up, before we got stuck into the more composed tunes I'd created, some of which ended up on the Sending My Love and Colour Yes albums".

          The album's title, Oneness, speaks to both Halsall's conviction that the planet should be shared equally with all of its inhabitants. That no human being or other inhabitant deserves to exist more than the other and that we can achieve far more together than against each other. And also importantly to what Halsall was aiming for musically:

          "I really believe in Oneness and I've always loved the term 'greater than the sum of its parts'. I could make music on my own and live a fairly isolated antisocial life, but there's something far more rewarding about creating things with others. And for me these sessions document the coming together of lots of different musicians in a wonderfully organic soulful way to make egoless music".

          It's a belief that continues to underpin Matthew's music making and a message that the word sorely needs right now as we feel more divided and separated than ever. This then is Oneness, a decade in the making and well worth the wait. Enjoy!

          AIRPLAY from Mart Ann Hobbs, Gilles Peterson, Unclassified radio 3, Late Junction etc

          STAFF COMMENTS

          Millie says: Matthew Halsall’s recordings from 2008 have made it to the surface in this stunningly delicate record, Oneness. From the beginning of his journey, this precious jazz which has been stored for over a decade is a beautiful and pure edition to Halsall’s releases.

          The phantom zone, the parallax, the upside down—there is a rich cultural history of exploring in-between places. Through her latest, Titanic Rising, Weyes Blood, a.k.a. Natalie Mering, has designed her own universe to soulfully navigate life’s mysteries. Maneuvering through a space-time continuum, she plays the role of melodic, sometimes melancholic, anthropologist. Tellingly, Mering classifies Titanic Rising – which was written and recorded during the first half of 2018, after three albums and years of touring - as the Kinks meet WWII or Bob Seger meets Enya. The latter captures the album’s willful expansiveness (“You can tell there’s not a guy pulling the strings in Enya’s studio,” she notes, admiringly). The former relays her imperative to connect with listeners. “The clarity of Bob Seger is unmistakable. I’m a big fan of conversational songwriting,” she adds. “I just try to do that in a way that uses abstract imagery as well.” The Weyes Blood frontwoman grew up singing in gospel and madrigal choirs. (Listen closely to Titanic Rising, and you’ll also hear the jazz of Hoagy Carmichael mingle with the artful mysticism of Alejandro Jodorowsky and the monomyth of scholar Joseph Campbell.) “Something to Believe,” a confessional that makes judicious use of the slide guitar, touches on that cosmological upbringing. “Belief is something all humans need. Shared myths are part of our psychology and survival,” she says. “Now we have a weird mishmash of capitalism and movies and science. There have been moments where I felt very existential and lost.” As a kid, she filled that void with Titanic. (Yes, the movie.) “It was engineered for little girls and had its own mythology,” she explains. Mering also noticed that the blockbuster romance actually offered a story about loss born of man’s hubris. “It’s so symbolic that The Titanic would crash into an iceberg, and now that iceberg is melting, sinking civilization.” Today, this hubris also extends to the relentless adoption of technology, at the expense of both happiness and attention spans. But Weyes Blood isn’t one to stew. Her observations play out in an ethereal saunter: far more meditative than cynical. To Mering, listening and thinking are concurrent experiences. “There are complicated influences mixed in with more relatable nostalgic melodies,” she says. “In my mind my music feels so big, a true production. I’m not a huge, popular artist, but I feel like one when I’m in the studio. But it’s never taking away from the music. I’m just making a bigger space for myself.”

          STAFF COMMENTS

          Andy says: A classy drift from psych-tinged folk to warm, honeyed West Coast soft rock; gorgeous early-70's singer-songwriter territory with the occasional whiff of Karen Carpenter, and all the melancholic sweep and drama you might expect. A surprising and beautiful return.

          78 - Bon Iver

          I,I

          February in West Texas. The light low and the days still warm and sweet. The air bright with red-tailed hawk and blue bunting, with the shink and rattle of the green jay. On a pecan ranch east of El Paso, its orchards running down to the Mexican border and the waters of the Rio Grande, a thrum of activity - song, saxophone, dancers, drums, guitar, synths; the sound of something taking shape. Here, 1500 miles from Wisconsin, from where this all began, a new season.

          When Bon Iver released For Emma, Forever Ago in early 2008 it introduced Justin Vernon as one of the most gifted songwriters of his generation and revealed a sound that was distinct - tethered to time and to place, to a season of contemplation and the crisp, heart-strung isolation of a northern Winter. Its successor, the self-titled Bon Iver, Bon Iver, brought something more frenetic, the rise and whirr of burgeoning Spring, of hope and sap and movement. In 2016's 22, A Million, Vernon came to see something different again: "It was," he says, "our crazy energy Summer record." The band's fourth album, i,i, completes this cycle: a Fall record, Vernon says, autumn-coloured, ruminative, steeped.

          "It feels very much like the most adult record, the most complete," says Bon Iver's Justin Vernon. "It feels like when you get through all this life, when the sun starts to set, and what happens is you start gaining perspective. And then you can put that perspective into more honest, generous work."

          The core band for the i,i sessions included Sean Carey, Andrew Fitzpatrick, Mike Lewis, Matt McCaughan, and Justin Vernon with Rob Moose and Jenn Wasner, plus contributions from James Blake, BJ Burton, Brad andPhil Cook, Aaron and Bryce Dessner, Trever Hagen, Zach Hanson, Bruce Hornsby, Channy Leaneagh, Rob Moose, Naeem, Velvet Negroni, Buddy Ross, Marta Salogni, Francis Starlite, Moses Sumney, and the members of TU Dance.

          When sessions for i,i moved from April Base to Sonic Ranch, Bon Iver took full advantage of the facility, sometimes utilizing all five of the studio's live rooms simultaneously. "It allowed us to feel confident and comfortable, to be completely free of distraction," says Vernon of the move. "I don't think I left the property in six weeks. And in many ways the story of the album is the story of those six weeks rather than the almost six years of some of the songs."

          The tenure at Sonic Ranch brought Vernon to a calmed creative state that he channeled into the heart of each song. Freed from the vocal distortion that once mirrored a period of fear and panic, he sings about the balance between the individual and the community, inspiration and creation. Vernon adds, "The title of the record can mean whatever it means to you or me. It can mean deciphering and bolstering one's identity. It can be how important the self is and how unimportant the self is, how we're all connected."

          STAFF COMMENTS

          Barry says: Is there no end to JV's talents? He was the poster boy for brittle, morose hilltop acoutictronica for a good few years, and has seamlessly morphed into a modern take on the progressive chord structures and vocal layering of 70's rock or the percussive immediacy of 80's synthpop.

          FORMAT INFORMATION

          LP Info: A beautiful package, the black vinyl is housed inside a matte finished gatefold jacket with spot gloss inks, wrapped in a clear plastic printed sleeve, and contains a full-colour 28 page booklet.

          LP includes MP3 Download Code.

          Folly is O’Sullivan’s second album under his own name and embodies a confident, evolution from his acclaimed debut Veld (2017, O Genesis), an album which distilled the multiverse into a rich and complex soundworld; textured and allusive, alive with sonic diversions, hypnotic mantras and ornately arranged songcraft.

          Folly was written around the birth of his son Ari and the passing of his friend Ian Johnstone, and both events were significant in the album that followed. O’Sullivan explains, “Joy is inseparable from suffering and sometimes those polarities arrive at the same moment. Music offers a vessel to contain the unspeakable.”

          This cycle of twelve songs deftly illustrates O'Sullivan's ascent as a unique and multidimensional songwriter. Moving from the familiar pantheon of experimental music and arriving upon a universal narrative probing the human condition from the inside out. Both lyrically and within the intricate lattice of arrangements, traditional forms are reshaped into transcendent pop symphonies. Both intimate and alien, archetypal and atypical, joyous and melancholic, the aperture of Folly is wide open and light streams in.

          O’Sullivan explains the solo writing process, “Writing songs alone can take some time even if a song arrives fully formed in your mind. The execution of it involves long durations with each individual part of the arrangement until it reaches something concise. The song tells you what it needs and I try not to force ideas onto it.” and goes on to say, “These songs are outside in rather than inside out, there was always a latency between the birth of the song and my understanding of its purpose. Folly is looking at who is doing the shaping, most of these songs are about writing songs.”

          Folly was recorded and mixed by Thighpaulsandra (Coil, Julian Cope Band, Spiritualized) at his Aeriel studio premises in Wales and mastered by Matt Colton at Alchemy.

          Written mostly in London, O’Sullivan explains the inspiration for the title, “There's a folly of a medieval abbey in these gardens that surround where I live. My family and I spend a lot of time roaming around there, amongst the frogs, foxes, mushrooms, owls, and the many strange "introduced" plants and trees. It was landscaped to be a rabbit hole sort of place.”

          Daniel O’Sullivan is a composer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist living and working in London and has been contributing a vibrant, chameleonic brew to the music landscape since the late 1990's. He has achieved international acclaim writing, recording and performing with Grumbling Fur (with longtime friend and collaborator Alexander Tucker), Ulver, Sunn O))), Guapo, Miracle, Æthenor and the recent reincarnation of This Heat in the form of This Is Not This Heat.

          International psych explorers Flamingods are back with brand new album ‘Levitation’ coming out on via Moshi Moshi Records.

          Inspired largely by the disco, funk and psychedelic sounds coming out of the Middle East and South Asia in the 70s, the album channels these influences through a vision soaked in mysticism, positivity and sun-drenched imagery.

          During the process of writing and recording ‘Levitation’, Flamingods for the first time in four years found themselves living in the same continent, it’s this new unified feel that defines the confident and eclectic sound of the album.

          ‘Levitation’ is the follow-up to Flamingods’ breakthrough 2016 album ‘Majesty’ and follows their ‘Kewali’ EP release for Moshi Moshi in 2017 and a one-off release with Dan Carey for his Speedy Wunderground singles club. During this time they’ve performed live sessions at 6Music (with Gilles Peterson & Lauren Laverne), KEXP, Boiler Room and have been travelling the globe spreading their exotic psychedelia to the masses and getting people dancing from Austin to Amsterdam. 


          STAFF COMMENTS

          Barry says: Flamingods return, bringing with them a brilliantly psychedelic mix of eastern-influenced groove, dreamy anthemic pop and acid-tinged folk. With pummeling percusion and rolling distorted bass holding down the backline, the guitars and echoing vox are allowed free-reign over the sonic spectrum. Killer stuff.

          FORMAT INFORMATION

          Coloured LP Info: Yellow vinyl edition.

          Coloured LP includes MP3 Download Code.

          ‘Colours. Reflect. Time. Loss.’ is a career-defining, ambitious album that sees the bedroom producer step out of the bedroom with his most collaborative project to date, including work with classical ensemble The Echo Collective, percussionists and guest vocalists from across the world.

          These stunning, immersive and impressionistic songs, scored and produced by Maps himself, are inspired by an orchestral approach and by the rolling Northamptonshire countryside beyond the window of his studio, which provides peace, isolation and inspiration.

          “I wanted to push everything to the limit with this record, and explore new territory for Maps. The orchestral instrumentation and addition of other musicians and singers played a huge part in finding the purer and more human emotion I was searching for. I learnt the violin as I was growing up, so I’m glad it finally came in useful!” (Maps)

          Three years in the making, ‘Colours. Reflect. Time. Loss.’ is informed by the richness of life experience. It is an album he could only have made now and one that represents a creative reinvention for Maps.


          STAFF COMMENTS

          Barry says: Chapman has created his opus here, swinging from soaring anthemic rock to brittle shoegazing ambience in the blink of an eye, but bolseted throughout with a firm emphasis on driven percussion and shimmering synths to keep things moving forward in spectacular fashion. A shining and spine-tingling collection, an absolute career high.

          FORMAT INFORMATION

          Coloured LP Info: White vinyl.

          Coloured LP includes MP3 Download Code.

          Something special happened to Pip Blom at the tail end of last year. It was a busy twelve months that saw the release of her frenetic EP ‘Paycheck’, two A-Listed singles at 6 Music and support slots to the likes of The Breeders, Franz Ferdinand and Garbage. Capping that off, though, moments before stepping onstage at a sold out Lexington – the London stop-off on her debut UK headline tour – the band put pen to paper and signed to Heavenly Recordings.

          Now, Pip announces her first release for the label – her debut album ‘Boat’, out 31st May 2019.

          Signing to Heavenly was another item crossed off Pip’s to-do list, fulfilment of one of the things she dreamed of since first picking up a guitar and the culmination of a storming 2018 that propelled Pip Blom as one of the year’s most exciting rising guitar bands.

          Growing up intensely shy, it was an uncharacteristic plunge into the limelight during her teens that first kicked off Pip Blom’s musical passage: in the form of answering an advertisement for a songwriting competition.

          Pip earnestly set about writing songs on a Loog guitar, a three-stringed children’s line of the instrument that aids learning, cultivating a 20-minute set and performing for the first time in front of an audience - eventually reaching the semi-finals of said competition. As you have gathered, the story didn’t end there and failing to win was anything but a deterrent.

          Neither was struggling to find band members post-competition. Pip simply ploughed on as she always has, finding a way to make things work with the resources around her. Programming drums on a computer and writing and recording both bass and guitar parts, Pip decided to start self-releasing songs on the internet and it didn’t take long for people to start taking notice.

          Today, that same plucky, head-on attitude characterises everything she does and it’s an absolute joy to behold - whether that’s witnessing her band’s powerfully impressive live show or listening to her honest, heart-on-sleeve approach to writing songs on record.

          And ‘Boat’ is emblematic of that – an open book of Pip Blom, delivered via her undeniable knack for writing a hook-laden, 3-4 minute song; planting it in your head and making it stay there looping days after first hearing it.

          There’s the kinetic combination of guitars from herself and brother Tender Blom, the effortlessly captivating vocal range which can be authoritative and intent like in the driving album opener ‘Daddy Issues’, or soothing and warm as heard in melodic middle track ‘Bedhead’. Then there are the choruses that seem to stop songs in their tracks and lift them into a different stratosphere.

          The album’s earworm quality is something that has been connecting across the waters from her home country of the Netherlands, aside from the aforementioned 6 Music playlists, landing an impressive amount of spins across US college radio and a spot on the coveted Triple J playlist in Australia.

          Listening through, it’s not hard to understand why. The album is wrapped up in a certain energy that, while evident the band put everything into recording it, would indicate they had a blast doing so – its infectious and, most importantly, wholeheartedly believable.

          Dave McCracken bottled up that energy while overseeing the recording at Big Jelly studios in Margate, with the album then mixed by Dillip Harris in a shipping container on the banks of the Thames in East London. Its result is ten songs that, alluding to the album’s title, ferry you through Pip’s headspace via expertly crafted songs gelled together through their unassuming depth.

          Pip Blom are: Pip Blom (vocals, guitar), Tender Blom (vocals, guitar), Darek Mercks (bass), Gini Cameron (drums)

          STAFF COMMENTS

          Laura says: Pip has the knack of writing such immediate, hook filled pop songs that they seem immediately familiar, and not just the odd one, a whole album full! If you're a fan of classic 3 minute indie pop then this is an absolute peach!

          black midi -- Georgie Greep (vocals/guitar), Matt Kwasniewski-Kelvin (vocals/guitar), Cameron Picton (vocals/bass), and Morgan Simpson (drums) -- have a dynamic energy, playing as a musical unit that’s constantly in a state of flux and development.

          Schlagenheim was recorded with Speedy Wunderground producer Dan Carey, who the band praises for his quick, unfussy approach. black midi laid down eight of the record’s nine tracks in just five days. The process was one of refining and rebuilding tracks around the initial structures. Five hour jams would sometimes yield a riff that then became a few bars of a song. As anyone who’s been lucky enough to catch black midi live over recent months will testify, black midi’s songs are slippery creatures.

          STAFF COMMENTS

          Barry says: Much like the fervour that accompanied Battles' 2007 outing 'Mirrored', Black Midi have managed to make an indefinable and thrilling collection of angular post-punk, avant math-rock and percussive glitch without so much as a glance into their stylistic forebears. Singular in artistic scope and as forward thinking as they come, they are sure to have a loyal and enthusiastic following through their use of unexpected rhythms and off-piste stylistic flair.

          FORMAT INFORMATION

          LP Info: LP is pressed onto 180 gram vinyl and housed in a gatefold sleeve. Includes a download code.

          CD Info: CD includes fold out poster of the colour collage and lyrics.

          Tycho are the Grammy nominated electronic music project led by Scott Hansen as primary composer, songwriter and producer. Their fifth studio album “Weather” is an exciting progression from their previous output, with most of the new tracks being vocal lead, while still retaining the signature Tycho sound. The sonic shift has been enhanced by the collaboration with exciting new vocalist Saint Sinner, who will be joining the live band following their time in the studio. 

          Tycho have been remixed by the likes of Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith and Bibio and in turn, have done remixes for Little Dragon, Maggie Rogers and ODESZA.  Recommended if you like… Boards of Canada, Bibio, Bonobo, Jon Hopkins, Mark Pritchard, Com Truise, Ulrich Schnauss etc. 


          STAFF COMMENTS

          Barry says: Staying true to the euphoric hazy electronica they've become known for, but adding in a sizeable amount of near-whispered vocal parts brings echoes of classic downtempo and more modern dancefloor moments make this the most varied and rewarding Tycho album to date.

          FORMAT INFORMATION

          Indies Exclusive LP Info: 180 gram limited edition clear vinyl exclusive to indie stores.

          "Kindness returns with their third full length album titled “Something Like A War”. The album is a culmination of years spent collaborating with the likes of Robyn, Jazmine Sullivan, Seinabo Sey and Cosima among many others. Produced entirely by Bainbridge, the record is a collection of works representing a period of reflection and transformation over the course of 4 years following their second record “Otherness.” Now based in London, the album was recorded in several locations, while Kindness was primarily based in New York during the writing and recording of the album. "

          Kindness, who uses they/them pronouns, has remained busy since Otherness, working across several projects: they co-produced five tracks on Solange’s album A Seat at the Table, and contributed production, writing, and vocals to Blood Orange’s Freetown Sound and Negro Swan albums in addition to production on Robyn's latest album Honey. A sought-after DJ, radio host, writer, collaborator, and lecturer on everything from musical craft and heritage to queerness and history, they’ve spent the last several years performing as a DJ at venues across the world, from Palais de Tokyo to the Guggenheim Museum, hosted their own radio show on Red Bull Radio in 2016 and 2017, lectured at the Boiler Room in New Delhi and moderated Robyn’s Red Bull Music Academy lecture at MOMA in New York. They were recently featured in Solange’s Calvin Klein advertisement, shot by Willy Vanderperre, alongside friends Dev Hynes, Kelela and Caroline Polachek.


          STAFF COMMENTS

          Patrick says: Adam Bainbridge continues to hone their sensitive, sensual and subtle blend of synth, soul, house and disco-not-disco on this ace third LP, which features collaborations with the likes of Sampha and Robyn. Post modern pop with plenty of heart.

          FORMAT INFORMATION

          2xDinked Edition LP Info: Exclusive Dinked Edition opaque lemon yellow double vinyl.
          3 exclusive prints (1 signed & hand-numbered)
          Hand numbered edition of 400 only.

          2xColoured LP Info: Indies only opaque pink coloured vinyl.

          Grace Lightman brings us the beautiful rich synths and shimmering 80's pads of 'Silver Eater'. We kick things off with the punchy percussion and snapping envelopes of 'Repair Repair', forming a soft synthetic bed for Lightman's dreamy vocal line. Much like the titular follower 'Silver Eater', there are elements of soft soul and dream-pop swimming around in the rich synthetic wash beneath. 

          Move along further and pieces like 'Exoskeleton' are much more geared towards the more meditative side of things, covering the vocals and strings in a layer of reverb before breaking out into soulful demi-disco. Pieces like 'Ordinary Life' and 'Get Me Out Of Here' are much more low-key, relying upon shadowy abstractions and sweeping filters, where 'Deep Space Getaway' could easily be a Human League or Duran Duran synth-line but bolstered with a more modern dancefloor-orientated tilt. A varied and fascinating ode to 80's pop, but brought into this century with brilliantly modern production techniques and the soaring drive of modern digital synthesis.  

          STAFF COMMENTS

          Barry says: For people who like the crisp, rich synths on albums like the brilliant 'Chris' by Christine & The Queens, or the optimistic throb of 80's pop, 'Silver Eater' is for you. Brilliantly immersive synth-pop anthems, perfectly produced and beautifully written, and brought to you by the ever-reliable Handsome Dad records. What more could you want?

          New York’s B Boys (Andrew Kerr, Brendon Avalos, Britton Walker) find inspiration in the chaos that surrounds them: the aggressive attitude and sonic lawlessness of the city they live, work, and breathe in every day. Their raw, yet meticulous style is characterized by rhythmic complexity, commanding riffs, and introspective lyrics that are as playful and self-aware as they are cutting.

          Across two acclaimed releases on Captured Tracks—2016’s No Worry No Mind EP and 2017’s debut full-length Dada—B Boys explore solitude and self-reflection through sharp, high-energy shouts and melodic mediations. Now, the sprightly sarcasm and acerbic commentary continues on the band’s highly anticipated sophomore LP, Dudu. Recorded by Gabe Wax (Deerhunter, Ought, Crumb) at Outlier Inn, and mixed by Andy Chugg (Pill, Pop. 1280, Bambara).  

          Influenced by The Clash, Wire, and Talking Heads, Dudu finds B Boys picking up where they left off, pondering quotidien grievances while examining the bigger picture. On tracks like “Cognitive Dissonance” and “Automation,” subtle tensions meet agonizing pressure that softly build, then explode. “I Want,” featuring Pill’s Veronica Torres, is a bright, feel-good critique of capitalism and greed.

          There’s a lot of noise in the world, but what are we actually saying? On Dudu, B Boys take time to laugh, scream and chant their way through the absurdity of it all.

          STAFF COMMENTS

          Barry says: Of course they're from New York. That fuzzy post-punk sound, that whispered but somehow screaming vocal affectation and their hugely listenable but ferocious execution of a uniquely east coast punk snarl. B Boys, everyone, showing how it's done.

          FORMAT INFORMATION

          Coloured LP Info: Indies exclusive pink vinyl.

          It’s a year and a half since the release of Freedom’s Goblin. A winter of rain has buried the recent times of drought. Now voices from the garden cry of desire and disaster, but outside the gates, rebirth is happening.

          “Our salivating makes it all taste worse,” croons Ty Segall in the first salvo of First Taste. He’s talking about us: how we’re the masters of our own destiny, tellers of our own prophecy, makers of our own sickened choices. It’s a warning, but this time, the finger is pointing back at him too. He’s one with us.

          Contradictions are rife. First Taste is an introspective set after the extroversions of Freedom’s Goblin — yet just as steeped in party beats somehow, even as Ty trails through his back pages, reflecting on family, re-encountering pasts, anticipating futures. Feeling, like it was the first time, the duplexity of core truths. Lines of struggle wind through the songs. “My life is a mystery / I’d look inside but I can’t see,” as one goes — and yet, such promisingly oblique reflections act to unravel the onion, lifting the veil. Ty skates through oneness, self-esteem, the parents — all the joys of a rain-filled childhood — while reaching outward in the here and now, feeling for a shared pulse. To go on, we need to feel it.

          These are serious indoor moods, but with Ty, there’s a moment that always comes, a joke or something to crack the bubble and let some air in. It all comes together with volcanic energy — who knows what it means? One disaster ends another; mudslides down the hills into gaping canyons, freeways blocked, the sky filled with smoke. Then we go on.

          Meanwhile, the sounds — what are they? This production is INSANE, far-out, stranger than known, tones and rhythms that expand before our ears. These colors are weird. Together, they float like a flag, flashing binary lines like sirens to our eyes. There’s tons of drums, and acoustic . . . . things of all kinds. Horns, synth pads. Pianny. Boiling overtime, Ty’s creative juices suggested that First Taste be written and executed with some radical new instrumentation — koto, recorder, bouzouki, harmonizer, mandolin, saxophones and brass, voices, and sure, a sprinkling of keys. And the drumkit(S!), a position Ty occupies whenever it’s heard on the left speaker, while Freedom Band drummer (and SO much more) Charles Moothart plays the kit on the right side. Those two get DOWN together. Whatever the mood is, the pedal is pushed cleanly to the metal — and that means to the max of the lightest ballads ever, OR through the most raging rocks yet. Ty’s vocal prowess, always a highlight, sits in fresh relief against his mutant orchestra, spooling tension through some of his most patient songs, his feral scream in complete control. Taking us through it.

          First Taste is arch, full of high-energy jams, with a thing in each mix always insistently different. Ty’s song design’s all over the place — not even a surprise anymore — but unlike the freewheeling feast style of Freedom’s Goblin, these twelve numbers form a tightly revolving cycle of song and sound that focuses thoughts. First Taste isn’t really the first for Ty, or you or me. But for the latest, it’s a remarkably fresh taste. Maybe it’s the first for today — and when tomorrow is today, then too.

          STAFF COMMENTS

          Barry says: It's their first since last year's 'Freedom Goblin', and Ty Segall have once again pulled a stormer out of the bag (would it ever have gone any differently?). Incendiary, rawkous, ingenious and not unexpected in the slightest. One of the most confounding and reliable bands out there at the moment. Brilliant.

          After a two-year hiatus, Los Angeles’ noise-rock trio Froth is back with their most fully realized work to date. A band of impeccable musicianship and an elevated sense of humor, the lead single is a twisted love song underlined with blown out guitars. “This song is about a guy who listened to the Yanny/Laurel thing and he can only hear Laurel,” shares the band. “He’s really passionate about Laurel being the correct pronunciation to the point where he will die before admitting otherwise. In the end, he reveals that he loves his girlfriend more than he loves the correct pronunciation of “Laurel/Yanny”.

          Froth has never been a band content with the status quo. After three records, scoring the Saint Laurent Men's Fall 2014 line fashion show (with frontman Joo Joo walking in the show), and forays into shoegaze, psychedelia and post-punk, the band of Joo-Joo Ashworth, Jeremy Katz and Cameron Allen have stepped outside the shadow of their influences and into something wholly their own. Co-produced with longtime friend and collaborator Tomas Dolas (Oh Sees/Mr. Elevator), the record is unapologetically experimental yet undeniably accessible. It’s an impressive and self-assured statement from a group only just entering their prime.

          With Duress, Froth has finally been able to realize their vision without compromise. Mirroring their open-minded studio approach, Froth’s live show is equally enthralling in its incorporation of analog synthesizers, overdubs and drum machines.


          STAFF COMMENTS

          Barry says: Trading in the sort of head-nodding eyes-closed psychedelic fuzz that King Gizz *could* do if they tried (sorry), Froth are immediately satisfying but brilliantly deep, revealing more charm to their angular and surprising melodic turns the more you listen to them. Brittle in points, but perfectly measured throughout, 'Duress' is an exciting and exhilarating ride.

          New album from the Malmo-based trio of Marleen Nilsson, Anders Hansson and Magners Bodin.

          Following the critically-acclaimed ‘To Where The Wild Things Are’ from 2015 and their haunting collection of soundtracks in between.

          “Lush and enveloping, reminiscent of Curt Boettcher and Margo Guryan.” The Wire. 

          “Fantastically eerie.” Clash.


          Exposing the trio’s love of all things retro with a nod to everything from Fun Boy Three to Orchestre Poly Rythmo de Contonou, while still roaming somewhere between an ambient Eno and Cocteau Twins at a late-night soiree. A unique, individual sound: Longer, more plush and pampered; more hypnotic and haunting, mixing mellotron and affected guitar with a refined rhythm. Electronic melancholy at its most evocative, riddled with super-memorable motifs and melodies that nestle in reflective echo.

          STAFF COMMENTS

          Barry says: Death and Vanilla have eschewed their classic sound slightly for a more open and airy offering, channelling the vibes of 70's soundtracks, hazy psychedelia and tie-dyed synthplay as well as their more direct offerings mixed in for good measure. Definitely the soundtrack to the summer. Stunning stuff.

          FORMAT INFORMATION

          Coloured LP Info: Standard Edition, Reverse board sleeve, Crystal Clear vinyl.

          Indies Exclusive LP Info: Ltd Edition – Grey textured board sleeve, Transparent Pink Vinyl.

          Here Lies Man took the music world by storm in 2017 with their self-titled debut positing the intriguing hypothesis: What if Black Sabbath played Afrobeat?

          Since that time, Here Lies Man has expanded and expounded upon their sound and ideas of heavy riff rock and psych within the ancient rhythmic formula of the clave. The L.A. based band comprised of Antibalas members have toured relentlessly over the past 2 years, while also releasing a second album, You Will Know Nothing and an EP, Animal Noises, both in 2018.

          No Ground to Walk Upon is their third album, and continues with an ongoing concept of HLM playing the soundtrack to an imaginary movie, with each song being a scene. The lead single “Clad in Silver” is the soundtrack snippet of a journey to the imaginary place called home, which can never be arrived at. With every step, the character imagines getting closer, but it is a hallucination that fades in and out of perception.

          Their debut album Here Lies Man was very well reviewed and featured in loads of end of year polls. BBC 6 & Classic Rock Magazine deemed it among the year’s best, as well as countless other press outlets singing its praises. 2018’s You Will Know Nothing furthered the band’s reputation for genre-smashing rhythmic experimentation, topping many year-end lists as well as earning features from countless metal and indie rock outlets, plus cover stories in weekly papers. No Ground to Walk Upon is the next step in the band’s rapid ascent to what is bound to be influential upon riff based rock.

          “We’re very conscious of how the rhythms service the riffs,” explains founder and vocalist/guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Marcos Garcia (who also plays guitar in Antibalas) of the band’s sound. “Tony Iommi’s (Black Sabbath) innovation was to make the riff the organizing principle of a song. We are taking that same approach but employing a different organizing principle: For Iommi it was the blues, for us it comes directly from Africa.”

          No Ground To Walk Upon also includes an interesting conceptual mathematics to the entire proceedings, a theme begun on the prior album. “There are interludes between each song that are 2/3 to 3/4 of the tempo of the previous song,” Garcia says. “The reason it breaks down to 2 over 3 or 3 over 4 is that everything in the music rhythmically corresponds to a set of mathematical algorithms known as the clave. The clave is an ancient organizing rhythmic principle developed in Africa.”

          Garcia and cofounder/drummer Geoff Mann (former Antibalas drummer and son of jazz musician Herbie Mann) recorded the album much like they did their previous releases, at their own L.A. studio on a Tascam 388 8-track tape machine. Additional layers were recorded with former Antibalas keyboardist Victor Axelrod and other contributors in various other locations, all while the band continued its rigorous touring schedule. 


          STAFF COMMENTS

          Barry says: it's pretty impossible not to nod your head along to Here Lies Man, as alluring as the best funk and the most playful rock groove all mixed into one package. Fiery distorted guitar, rhythmic syncopation and hazy, chunky riffage. The Perfect combination.

          FORMAT INFORMATION

          Dinked Edition LP Info: *** ONE COPY FOUND ***

          Exclusive colour pressing (purple with orange swirl).
          Custom Tote Bag with Band / Dinked / Label Logo On it.
          Custom Here Lies Man Patch.
          Signed Band Photo.
          Hand-numbered.

          Introducing Bunny Hoova. Producer and band leader otherwise known as D.Loman. 2019 marks the release of the auspicious debut album ‘LONGING’.

          Originally from Rotterdam now residing in Manchester, Bunny Hoova has found a comfortable home amidst the city’s burgeoning music scene. Three years in the making LONGING connects her movements from studying at the Conservatory of Amsterdam to her new found home in the Rainy City.

          Anchored around a slurred, soulful vocal, the 13 tracks interweave treated samples and guitars with spare, low key drums; all glued together by Hoova’s imaginative production. Striking her own wavvy line between garage art-pop and ramshackle soul.

          Tiny Mix Tapes - “LONGING jukes and jolts, consistently pulling the rug out and offering another fine moment of pop seduction.” Hard to disagree; these sickly sweet vignettes are bona fide songs, and ones of communicable realities and experiences at that, but they never succumb to formula or linearity.

          AQNB - lusciously unstable jumble of rhythm guitar, beats and percussion that is perfectly lo-fi in its execution.

          STAFF COMMENTS

          Emily says: LONGING offers a series of meditations on love, insecurity and technology, occurring within an ever-shifting, fragmented reality. Each track feels like peering through a keyhole into a different state of mind, with a current of detached melancholia running throughout. Bunny’s lyrics range from abstract, to confessional, to confrontational, depicting her struggles at a personal level and with the world at large. In its most tender moments it still feels discordant, with Bunny’s barbed guitar accompaniment and fractured production techniques. It is a perplexing first effort which is constantly at odds with itself – acidic yet soulful, splintered yet cohesive as a whole.

          93 - Modern Nature

          How To Live

          The city and the country both have distinct, vibrant energies - but there’s something happening in between, too. As factories give way to fields, and highways drift into gravelly roads, the friction can be palpable, the aura electric. The lines between city and country were on Jack Cooper’s mind when he named his new band Modern Nature. He took the phrase from the diaries of filmmaker Derek Jarman, written on the coast of Kent in his Dungeness cottage. Visiting Jarman’s home, Cooper was struck by what he calls a “weird mix of urban and rural” - such as the way a nuclear power station sits next to open grasslands.

          On Modern Nature’s debut album, ‘How To Live’, urban and rural cross into each other. Plaintive cello strains melt into motorik beats. Pastoral field recordings drift through looping guitar figures. Rising melodies shine with reflective saxophone accents, placing the record somewhere in the Bermuda Triangle between the expansive motorik of Can, the Canterbury progressiveness of Caravan and the burgeoning experimentalism of Talk Talk’s ‘Colour Of Spring’.

          STAFF COMMENTS

          Barry says: Having penned a succession of hazy, indie-rock affairs, Jack Cooper (formerly of Manchester's own Trof fame) breaks out a beautiful folky wanderer, heavy on reverb and drifting guitar ambience, but maintaining the melodic leaning that has earned him so many delighted fans. This is beautiful work, and possibly my favourite of his considerable output.

          FORMAT INFORMATION

          Coloured LP Info: Green vinyl LP with digital download code.

          'Ode To Joy',  Wilco's eleventh studio album is their best since 2004's 'A Ghost Is Born'.
          Recorded at their Chicago studio, it finds main man Jeff Tweedy at his most empathetic, ruminating on the state of the union, life, love and loss in a way that only he can.
          It's an album that both consoles and inspires in equal measure and is already a shop favourite. 
          We love it, we think you will too.

          STAFF COMMENTS

          Barry says: Wilco have been a driving force behind the US alternative scene since the early 90's and 'Ode To Joy' just goes to show why their appeal is so enduring. Tweedy's vocals have matured slightly, lending a mild gruffness to his perfectly pitched vocal range, a maturity to their writing and a turn towards the more indie-pop side rather than their more country-tinged counterparts. Either way, they're a hoot, and this might well be their best work for a couple decades.

          FORMAT INFORMATION

          LP Info: Standard black vinyl.

          Highly anticipated second album, 1.5 years after their critically acclaimed debut LP. Featuring members of the now-defunct band The Drones. RIYL: King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Nick Cave, The Slits, Protomartyr, The Drones, Gang of Four, IDLES.

          “I've invented fake news as a genre of music,” Gareth Liddiard observes with a laugh. He's talking about “Maria 63”, the closing track on Tropical Fuck Storm's sophomore LP ‘Braindrops’. The song takes aim at the once-marginalized alt-right conspiracy theories that now seem to be a driving force behind the rise of fascism in global politics. “It may be the most stupid song ever written,” Liddiard jokes. He's wrong, “Maria 63” is emblematic of Tropical Fuck Storm's keen ability to mine the extreme edge of pop culture's periphery for potent musical and conceptual spice.

          Tropical Fuck Storm were formed around 2017 in the city of Melbourne, Victoria along Australia's south-eastern coast. The band released their debut long-player A Laughing Death in Meatspace on Joyful Noise Recordings in 2018. Each of the band's four members bring considerable experience to the group. Liddiard and Fiona Kitschin were part of the long-running and critically-acclaimed act The Drones, while Erica Dunn and Lauren Hammel have performed in a variety of well-received projects. Perhaps it's that wealth of rock and roll experience that allows Tropical Fuck Storm to so expertly deconstruct and distort the genre's norms.

          “Everything we do, we try to do it in a weird way. The whole album is full of weird beats, and just weird shit everywhere,” Liddiard explains. He cites Doc at the Radar Station-era Captain Beefheart as a key sonic touchstone, and Braindrops certainly shares the Captain's penchant for pounding abstract grooves. Tropical Fuck Storm have achieved a uniquely off-kilter sound on Braindrops Liddiard partly credits this to the group's use of unconventional equipment, “We use lots of techno gear to make rock and roll because rock and roll gear is boring, and all sounds like Led Zeppelin.”

          Liddiard's own description of Tropical Fuck Storm's sound is nearly as interesting and evocative as the music itself. He describes the LP's title track as “Fela Kuti in a car crash,” and talks of creating a sonic atmosphere that “sounds like chloroform smells” for “Maria 62”. A recurring theme on Braindrops concerns the various ways the human brain can be manipulated and controlled for exploitative gain. The bracing “The Planet of Straw Men” is a study of human behavior inside the social media comments section, a place where otherwise reasonable people are seen gleefully engaging in psychotic chest-thumping rhetoric. Listening to Braindrops is a jarring and exhilarating experience, full of pulsating grooves, dissonant experimentation, and unsettling dystopian plot-lines. Braindrops is an unrelenting work, from an unrelenting musical ensemble. “Tropical Fuck Storm is a full on thing,” Liddiard offers. “Everything we do, we do it to death.”

          STAFF COMMENTS

          Barry says: A completely nuts, clashing collection of fragmented melodies and post-punk spirit, encompassing psychedelic freeform, spoken word vitriol and arty noise into a confounding but strangely addictive listen.

          FORMAT INFORMATION

          Coloured LP Info: Hot Magenta coloured vinyl.

          Coloured LP includes MP3 Download Code.

          The follow-up to 2016’s ‘Summer 08’, ‘Metronomy Forever’ features 17 tracks. Its length is born from a desire for breathing room, from not wanting to stuff the hits together like a bouquet of petrol station roses – a modern way of listening to music. Metronomy’s innate skill for blending off-kilter funk, energising club vibes and esoteric pop is interspersed with some mood-setting, glistening and melodic electronic tracks.

          The band’s leader Joseph Mount called upon a variety of inspirations for this album. Most notably, he wanted to replicate the feeling of listening to the radio, with an infinite quality, sumptuous songs of different styles, ever rolling, helping to lighten your mood. Moving away from the bustle of his former Parisian home to take up residence atop a hill in the garden of England had an impact, infusing the album with a sense of tranquillity and a calm joy that reflects the relative happiness of his existence.

          Also influential was time spent working on Robyn’s critically adored ‘Honey’ album, with a similar feeling of emotional, intense, carnal mania informing songs such as ‘Sex Emoji’ and ‘Salted Caramel Ice Cream’.

          ‘Metronomy Forever’ in name represents something looking backwards and forwards simultaneously, like Janus, something fated and eternal. You were made from dust and to dust you will return, that sort of thing.
          “What happens is when you’re making music and you enter a world where you have achieved some sort of celebrity no matter how large or small you start to think about yourself in terms of legacy and what you’re going to leave behind,” says Mount. “And then you realise that’s limited to the interest people have in you. In the end I feel completely comfortable with it. The less importance you place in any art the more interesting it can become in a way… I’m making music, I’m going to do some concerts, I need to feed my children”.


          STAFF COMMENTS

          Barry says: From tender, lightly accentuated ballads and brittle melodic synth lines to huge, bombastic pop heft within the space of a couple minutes, and without batting an eyelid. It's classic Metronomy, brimming with confidence and skill, but tastefully underplayed. Metronomy forever!

          FORMAT INFORMATION

          2xLtd LP Info: Collector Double Vinyl.
          8 page gatefold sleeve.
          Double 140 gram black vinyl.

          2xLtd LP includes MP3 Download Code.

          Mancunian electronic music pioneers 808 State are return with "Transmission Suite", their first new album since 2002. Recorded in the former nerve centre of the Granada broadcasting empire in Manchester’s City Centre, some of its tracks are haunted by their home city’s industrial past – and, for that matter, the influence of classic Detroit techno - but the whole thing stays true to the band’s career-long focus on what comes next. 'We’re trying to make a future for other people to immerse themselves in,' says Graham Massey. 'That’s always been a big part of 808 State: these kind of landscapes of futurism.'

          Sonically, long term fans are definitely not gonna be disappointed as the firm gaze forward across a wide range of futuro-stylings. The aforementioned Detroitian tech rears its beastly head, while UK-centric bass hybrids and unfathomably hi-tech glitch styles (a la AFX, Boards, Seefeel etc) are explored and showcased by the band in exquisite yet comprehendible form. They not lost any of their impetus, crucial.


          STAFF COMMENTS

          Barry says: Having proven to be one of the most enduring and forward thinking acts of the last 30 years, 808 state show us exactly why on the blistering 'Transmission Suite'. A perfect mix of old-world electronics and timbres and crisp, modern production techniques make this one of their most direct and propulsive outings yet. Unmissable.

          Forever Turned Around came together over several sessions across the country. Though Julien Ehrlich is Whitney’s lead singing drummer while Max Kakacek is the lead guitarist, when writing, both transcend their roles to piece together each offering lyrically and compositionally. “The way it ends up working is one of us comes up with a basic idea for a song and the other person serves as the foil to complicate that idea. We ask, ‘What can we change to make it more interesting?’” says Kakacek. Challenging each other is the core of their songwriting partnership.

          It’s these risks and experiments that make Forever Turned Around a triumph. Take opener “Giving Up,” which started from a stream-ofconscious revelation when Ehrlich improvised the chorus while Kakacek played Wurlitzer. What began as a nod to Neil Young’s Live at Massey Hall 1971 in an afternoon turned into a heart-rending and relatable song about the ups and downs of long-term relationships. Over twinkling piano, Ehrlich sings, “Though we started losing touch / I’ve been hanging on because / You’re the only one I love.” He explains, “In a relationship, you don’t stay at the same level at all times. You go through weeks where you’re closed off.”

          After a session with producers Bradley Cook (Hand Habits, Hiss Golden Messenger) and Jonathan Rado (Weyes Blood, Father John Misty) helped color in the arrangements, the album truly revealed itself when they reunited with original rhythm guitarist Ziyad Asrar in his basement Chicago studio—the same place where they hashed out much of their critically acclaimed 2016 debut, Light Upon The Lake. “Getting down there was so important because we’ve always used that basement for music. The comfort and familiarity mattered but having Ziyad be a buffer between us was so helpful,” says Ehrlich. With Asrar, songs like “Song For Ty” and “Forever Turned Around” effortlessly came together.

          Restlessness is at the heart of Whitney’s resonant and stunning sophomore album Forever Turned Around. As Ehrlich and Kakacek realized life can change almost instantly. Priorities shift, relationships evolve, home can become far away, and even when luck momentarily works out, there’s still that underlying search for something better. Happiness can be fleeting but this album proves that even when it feels like time is turning on its head and there’s either a moment of clarity or crippling doubt, there’s still beauty in figuring it all out.

          STAFF COMMENTS

          Barry says: Whitney are absolutely unmistakable. After their 2016 outing 'Light Upon The Lake', i'm pretty sure i'd recognise those vocals anywhere. Stunning upbeat jangles, soulful progressions and smooth-as-silk percussion throughout.

          FORMAT INFORMATION

          Coloured LP Info: Indies exclusive 'forest brown' coloured vinyl.

          The best Tinariwen album hasn’t been recorded yet. Perhaps it never will be. Because the best Tinariwen music isn’t the music they perform in front of microphones. It’s the music they play at night around the fire, back in their own country, amongst themselves and at their own pace. Having eaten, and drunk their tea, the men bring out their guitars, chat, remember old songs and let the music come. In those moments, the music can become like the fire, free, magical and impossible to stuff into a box. It rises up like a shower of sparks or a state of grace, without premeditation; the momentary manifestation of a friendship, a community, an environment, a history; the revelatory connection with something that belongs only to them, and goes beyond them. Their discography stretching out over the last 17 years, all the tours and the international recognition have changed nothing: Tinariwen are still a desert band, only certain aspects of which the western music industry can ever hope to capture and present. Tinariwen existed long before any of their albums were recorded, and they still exist quite distinct from their discographic dimension. So, the best Tinariwen album doesn’t exist. But it’s still worth trying to go and find it.

          The story of Amadjar, the ninth Tinariwen album, begins at the end of October 2018, at the Taragalte Festival of nomadic cultures in the Moroccan Sahara. After a concert and a sandstorm, Tinariwen hit the road and head for Mauritania, via southern Morocco, Western Sahara and the Atlantic coast. The destination is important (the band have to set up and record their album there, and hook up with the singer Noura Mint Seymali), but no more so than the journey itself. Tinariwen are joined by their French production team, who arrive in old camper van that’s been converted into a makeshift studio. The journey to Nouakchott, capital of Mauritania, takes a dozen days or so. Every evening, the caravan stops to set up camp and the members of Tinariwen get to work under the stars – a whole lot better than being in a studio after all – to prepare for the recording, talking things through, letting their guitar motifs, thoughts and long buried songs come. Then, during a final camp in the desert around Nouakchott that lasts about fifteen days, to an audience of scorpions, the band record their songs under large tent. In a few live takes, without headphones or effects. The Mauritanian griotte Noura Mint Seymali and her guitarist husband, Jeiche Ould Chigaly, come to throw their musical tradition on the embers lit by Tinariwen – the curling vocals of Noura Mint Seymali on the song ‘Amalouna’ will become a highlight.

          This nomadic album, recorded in a natural setting, is as close as you can get to Tinariwen. And also, therefore, to the idea that things can evolve: bassist Eyadou plays a lot of acoustic guitar; percussionist Said tries his hand at new instruments; Abdallah exhumes songs that he’s never played on stage with Tinariwen. And that violin that appears on several songs and reminds you of the traditional imzad? It’s actually played by Warren Ellis. The violinist in Nick Cave’s band is one of several western guests on the album. We also hear the mandolin and charango of Micah Nelson (son of the country music giant Willie Nelson, and Neil Young’s guitarist), and the guitars of Stephen O’Malley (Sunn O)))), Cass McCombs and Rodolphe Burger. The album is mixed by Jack White’s buddy Joshua Vance Smith.

          In the end, Amadjar tells the story of several journeys: the one undertaken to prepare the album, and the one that Tinariwen take between two worlds, theirs and ours, with that constant need to pass from one to the other before coming back to the roots. “I’m in a complete solitude, where thoughts frighten me, and lost in their midst I arose and noticed that I was thirsty and wanted water,” sings Ibrahim on ‘Ténéré Maloulat’, the first song on the album. A return to the source of Tamashek poetry. In the middle of other more political songs, through always desolate, these words express deep distress and survival, but also movement. Amadjar means ‘the unknown visitor’ in Tamashek, the one who seeks hospitality and who’s condemned to an inner exile, within a territory or within himself; just like the members of Tinariwen, who feel at home on the journey, around the fire with a few immutable songs. The best Tinariwen album will never be. But Amadjar is more essential than all the others. 


          STAFF COMMENTS

          Patrick says: Desert rock superstars Tinariwen's ninth LP is the closest the tuareg troop have come to capturing their live sound in the studio, largely because "Amadjar" was conceived, composed and recorded across a trail of temporary studios during a North African road trip.

          FORMAT INFORMATION

          2xLtd LP Info: Limited first pressing with 28-page road trip booklet.

          CD Info: Comes with 16-page road trip booklet.

          100 - Gruff Rhys

          Pang!

            The new album from Gruff Rhys, ‘Pang!’ is a Welsh Language pop album with a couple of verses of Zulu and an English title. ‘Pang!’ developed unexpectedly over about 18 months. A solo album of songs by Gruff Rhys, produced & mixed by the South African electronic artist Mmusi, and will be released by Rough Trade Records.

            Recorded in Cardiff, Wales. It was mixed by the producer Muzi in Johannesburg, South Africa. Drums by Welsh-American psychedelic warlord Kliph Scurlock, brass by Gavin Fitzjohn and flute and percussion by the engineer Kris Jenkins. Beats, bass & ah’s by Muzi with Gruff on vocals and guitar.

            Gruff explains “Pang! Is a Welsh language song with an English title. It started life as a folk reel and soon expanded into a ‘list’ song, listing various reasons for pangs; hunger, regret, twitter, pain, bad design etc. Using the English word pang in a Welsh language track may appear weird but I suppose it’s like using the French word ‘Magazine’ in an English song. In that it’s slightly pretentious but completely acceptable.”

            STAFF COMMENTS

            Barry says: There is no more distinctive a voice in modern indie than Gruff, with his impeccable grasp of melody and seamless integration of welsh vocals, dynamic percussion and classic songwriting. Another absolute classic, and an absolutely lovely chap to boot. Perfect.

            FORMAT INFORMATION

            Coloured LP Info: Green coloured vinyl.

            Deluxe LP Info: Limited edition indies only deluxe LP (blue & white splatter vinyl, deluxe heavyweight hand-finished sleeve with poster).


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