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Deep Throat Choir

In Order To Know You

    “I’m reeling, I’m restless,” sing Deep Throat Choir from the heart of their second album. That restlessness manifests in a set of tremendously abundant, original songs from the east London female and non-binary vocal collective, founded by Landshapes member Luisa Gerstein. Released via Bella Union in December, In Order to Know You is a multi-layered assertion of freshly expansive range, driven by two core virtues: a sense of strength in unity and an open embrace of its singers’ personal experiences, shared through collective, supportive vocal expression.

    After 2017’s largely covers-based debut album, Be OK, the choir recognised the call to evolve. “Having been singing together for five-plus years, and having released an album of mostly covers, it felt like the logical next step to make our own music together,” says Gerstein. “This album is the alchemy of all the specific voices and players that make up the choir, and a collaborative process of writing and sharing music and ideas. Sonically, I wanted to move beyond just voices and percussion, to see what richness could be brought with acoustic instruments and electronics, and to transition from a choir that does covers to a band with loads of vocalists.”

    The rewards of that leap are immediately evident on ‘Alchemilla’, named after the herbaceous perennial. A testimony to the strength in vulnerability, it celebrates an openness to emotion across buoyant harmonies that “ebb and flow” like cool waves; with words by Heloise Tunstall-Behrens, Alice Freedman and Holly Turnbull, the song emerged from a jamming session in Margate and a conversation about masculinity. On the jazzy ‘Firefly’, Sarah Parkes’ saxophone adds flavour to a song of palpable feeling. ‘Picturing’ is a spun-silk reflection on shared tenacity before tough circumstance, while the forceful voices and folksy guitars of ‘Uvas’ frame a lyric that testifies to the choir’s depths of personal experience.

    “This song is about my mum,” says Gerstein. “In Colombia (or maybe it’s a Catholic thing?) you eat 12 grapes (uvas) at New Year’s to make 12 resolutions with. I was thinking about her resolve to move and travel to a faraway place, and a resolve and hunger that I feel she’s passed down to me. It’s about looking back at the generations before you, finding common threads that run through those histories, and all the bigger histories that are part of that tapestry, like ships on the sea and emeralds in the dirt (early conquistadors traded glass for emeralds with indigenous people).”

    A rolling piano buoys up ‘Lighter’, which channels Sun Ra’s influence into a song that upholds the support found in mutual connectivity. Meanwhile, the gorgeous swoon of ‘Patience’ again illuminates how individual singers’ experiences can take shape within the choir, to become something held by all. “I wrote ‘Patience’ as a kind of eulogy for my mum’s funeral,” says soloist Rosa Slade. “Music for me was the easier way to express a combined and confusing feeling of grief and celebration of life. I joined Deep Throat a few months later and found the choir space brought such deep holding through song and collectivity. When Luisa began to compose and gather for the second album, it felt natural somehow for the song to be held by those voices too; so it could live by transforming into something new and shared; becoming multiple stories existing in unison.”

    Elsewhere, the restless, reeling surfaces of ‘Camille’ foreground the shape-shifting potential in Deep Throat Choir: between its effusive voices and bubbling arrangements, the song blurs the lines between boundaries and singers, leaping off from Björk’s influence to mount a declaration of band intent. “It felt like a real line in the sand for encapsulating a new sound for us,” says Gerstein, who co-wrote the words to the song with Tanya Auclair while listening to lectures by science and feminism professor Donna Haraway.

    From there, In Order to Know You heads towards its climax without seeming to touch the ground, from the title-track’s devotional exhalation to the stealthy, smoky shimmer of ‘Unstitching’. Its lyrics drawn from a poem by Emma Cleave, the sublime ‘Field of Not Knowing’ closes the album in a vivid tapestry of folk-gothic images (moon beams and pipistrelles) and serene-to-soaring arrangements, revelling in possibility: “It’s the place where I begin,” sing the choir.

    For Deep Throat Choir, the result is both an exquisite culmination of journeys taken so far and a lustrous, exquisite springboard for further adventures. Their travels began in 2013, when the collective took shape from a desire to strip music back to the basic elements of raw female voices and drums, united in a fashion that both honours and transmogrifies personal expression.

    A small group of four or five singers steadily expanded, with Zara Toppin’s drums providing a propulsive energy. Cathartic live shows and collaborations followed, ranging from team-ups with Peggy Sue, Stealing Sheep, Horse Meat Disco and Matthew E White to performances at Green Man, Wilderness, the Southbank Centre’s WOW festival, London’s Scala and beyond. Be OK provided a gutsy showcase for the band’s close, collective strengths, bolstered by weekly gatherings at a church in east London to blow the roof off. A fruitful collaboration with techno-pop duo Simian Mobile Disco on the 2018 album Murmurations followed: a testament to the choir’s alchemical abilities.

    At a residency at the Prah Foundation, Margate, seeds were sown for the new songs. An increased confidence bloomed as the band pushed at its boundaries, an evolution aided by engineer Andy Ramsey, the vast range of contributors’ musical talents and the innate strength of their shared foundations. Removing the first album’s boundaries of voices and drums, the choir freed themselves up to explore musically, with the emphasis on voices remaining a central constant.

    Emerging organically, the songs reflect the experiences and worlds of the singers who contributed to the writing process. Alongside soloists Tanya Auclair, Liv Stones, Holly Holden, Elly Condron, Miryam Solomon, Fikir Assefa, Maddie Rix, Rosa Slade, Heloise Tunstall-Behrens, Fran Lobo and Gerstein, new contributors included brass players Marcus Hamblett and Emma Gatrill, plus pianist Sam Beste. From within the choir, Kate Burn played cello, Sarah Anderson played violin/viola, Tunstall-Behrens played bass and Auclair contributed synth parts. Recording took place before lockdown; Gerstein produced, while Jimmy Robertson (Anna Calvi, Peggy Sue) mixed the record.

    From these deep roots, fresh growths blossomed. The album is instrumental in the formation of the multi-disciplinary Amorphous Sounds collective, named after the lyrics to ‘Camille’ and launched by Gerstein with long-time friend and collaborator Anika Mottershaw. As Gerstein puts it, “Amorphous Sounds is a continuation of the collaborative processes that started on this album. It’s inspiring to have so many artists within the group, and the idea of the label is to have a space where people can collaborate on songs or more extended projects, both within and outside the choir. It’s giving a name to something that already exists, and a structure for it to grow. As things start to open up we’re plotting some Amorphous shows, and I hope we’ll be able to jam and make tunes together again soon!”

    The album title reflects that drive towards a kind of questing togetherness. “We made this music in order to know and understand each other more fully,” says Gerstein, “and that’s what music is in general. We’re saying it to each other, and to the listener.” Getting to know this most deep, rich and mutable of records is, we’d wager, a journey well worth the taking. 


    TRACK LISTING

    1 Alchemilla
    2 Firefly
    3 Picturing
    4 Uvas
    5 Lighter
    6 Tremelo Train
    7 Patience
    8 Camille
    9 In Order To Know You
    10 Unstitching
    11 Field Of Not Knowing

    Penelope Isles

    Which Way To Happy

      When you’re trying to make it through tough times, you need a little light to find your way. That light blazes brightly on the alchemical second album from Penelope Isles, an album forged amid emotional upheaval and band changes. Setting the uncertainties of twentysomething life to alt-rock and psychedelic songs brimming with life, colour and feeling, Which Way to Happy emerges as a luminous victory for Jack and Lily Wolter, the siblings whose bond holds the band tight at its core.

      Produced by Jack and mixed by US alt-rock legend Dave Fridmann, the result is an intoxicating leap forward for the Brighton-based band, following the calling-card DIY smarts of their 2019 debut, Until the Tide Creeps In. Sometimes it swoons, sometimes it soars. Sometimes it says it’s OK to not be OK. And sometimes it says it’s OK to look for the way to happy, too. Pitched between fertile coastal metaphors and winged melodies, intimate confessionals and expansive cosmic pop, deep sorrows and serene soul-pop pick-you-ups, it transforms “difficult second album” clichés into a thing of glorious contrasts: a second-album surge of up-close, heartfelt intimacies and expansive, experimental vision.

      These extremes come into sharp focus on ‘Terrified,’ a reflection on anxiety set to a dreamy sunburst of psychedelic jangle-pop. As Jack explains, “I love that juxtaposition. It reminds me of when you’re feeling a bit delicate or not ready to socialise but you have to go out because you need milk for tea. Then you go to the supermarket and you bump into someone you kind of know and you have to pretend that everything’s OK when, really, you’re dying inside.”

      With the album’s almost prog-psych ambitions on fulsome display, ‘Rocking at the Bottom’ taps coastal motifs for a call to embrace open possibility, twinkling with hope over a deep space-rock bass line and a phased Hammond. In an album of fluent dynamism, ‘Play It Cool’ offers a swift tonal about-turn, emerging from Lily’s gloriously in-character vocal as a sweet soul-pop message to the troubled self amid rousing drums, lush glockenspiels, creamy harmonies and wonky guitars. Warm and rippling, ‘Iced Gems’ is a sorrowed lament, played out over the gentlest of fluttery keyboards and experimental electronic sounds – plus, samples of carrot crunches. Written over a couple of years, Lily’s ‘Sailing Still’ charts the life of a relationship to a slow-burn and sorrowed soundscape of dulcitones, cello, violin and more: building in increments to a climax of measured grandeur, it sustains a sense of intimacy in a framework of great scope.

      The album swerves into Mercury Rev and MGMT’s cosmic slipstream with ‘Miss Moon,’ a galloping centrepiece with an irresistible call to dream: “Hey, kids – look up!” As Jack says, “We wanted it to seem like lift-off.” After its exclamatory explosion, the psychedelic dream-pop of ‘Sudoku’ offers a mellowed invitation to turn off your mind, relax, float downstream. Steering the album through further contrasts, ‘Have You Heard’ is a feelgood flurry of insistent, pulsing space-rock; ‘Pink Lemonade,’ meanwhile, is a song of sweet, sharp beauty, touching on fading childhood memories and lifted by Fiona Brice’s strings. ‘11 11’ hosts Lily’s most tender vocal yet: recorded in one take through tears, it finds Penelope Isles at their most exposed, with Brice’s strings weeping in sympathy. Finally, ‘In a Cage’ cogitates on confinement yet finds solace in field recordings of happy, high times – a judicious note of meditative reflection after a giddy ride.


      More field recordings were made during a stay at a small cottage in Cornwall, where Penelope Isles began work on the album. With romantic heartache already in the air, things swiftly got worse: lockdown began, claustrophobia kicked in and emotions ran high. As Jack puts it, “We were there for about two or three months. It was a tiny cottage with four of us in and we all went a bit bonkers, and we drank far too much, and it spiralled a bit out of control. There were a lot of emotional evenings and realisations, which I think reflects in the songs.”

      At different point along the way, Jack Sowton and Becky Redford left the Isles. An old friend, multi-instrumentalist Henry Nicholson, stepped in swiftly – “A godsend after a low time,” says Lily. Another friend, Hannah Feenstra, contributed drum parts; now, Joe Taylor is the band’s drummer. After Cornwall, the band redid many of the rhythm tracks, recorded a little in Brighton, then recorded more in Cornwall at their parents’ house. “It was,” says Jack, “a proper rollercoaster ride.”

      The ride continued with Fridmann, whose recent credits include Isles’ favourites Mogwai’s No 1 album, As the Love Continues. As Lily puts it, the process of sending Fridmann a mix, receiving it back in the morning and then having five hours to make decisions on it resulted first in stress, then in something sublime. “I love everything he’s touched – MGMT, Mogwai, Mercury Rev. He would turn our mix into this electric, fiery thing. There were some moments that were initially hard, like on ‘Miss Moon,’ where he took out the bass when it gets to the chorus. But now it’s my favourite bit on the record. He made everything so colourful. It’s an intense-sounding record – a hot record. It was so refreshing to have that blast of energy from Dave – it’s like he framed our pictures.”

      Away from the confines of the cottage, the Wolters also opened the door to a collaboration with storied composer Fiona Brice, whose credits include John Grant, Lost Horizons and Placebo. A “big bucket-list tick” for Jack and Lily, the team-up results in glorious arrangements across the album: for Lily, ‘11 11’ stood out. “I was in absolute tears when she sent back the strings for ‘11 11’. It was like, oh my goodness, she’s nailed it.”

      Flushed with resourceful detail, Which Way to Happy adds extra strands to the Isles’ ever-tightening core DNA. Born in Devon and raised on the Isle of Man, the Wolters’ bonds were already strengthened by separation when Jack (six years Lily’s senior) moved away to university at 19. As Lily grew older, they rediscovered their connection and formed a band called Your Gold Teeth. When both moved to Brighton, Penelope Isles came to being, fuelled by a passion for DIY alt-rock and all who sail its seas.

      On its release, Until the Tide Creeps In received rave reviews from Q, DIY, The Line of Best Fit and many others, while finding champions in Steve Lamacq and Shaun Keaveny. It also become part of a lifeline for music fans during the 2020 lockdown when the band participated in Tim Burgess’s Twitter Listening Party. Meanwhile, extensive touring saw the Isles develop into a formidable live force, with ‘Gnarbone’ emerging as a sure-fire show-stopper.

      Now, the Isles have 11 more show-stoppers to add to the mix. At the album’s heart, the band’s core traits have never been stronger: the bond between the Wolters, a sensitivity towards complex feelings, a desire to celebrate life in all its facets and an ambitious reach combine to create an album that feels utterly, emphatically present on every front, rich in depth and uplift.

      “There’s so much love between me and Jack, we couldn’t do it without each other,” says Lily. “And even in that chaotic, tiny bubble of a cottage that sent us all mad, we had some really funny, stupid, lovely times together. There’s a lot of emotion in the album.” Wherever Penelope Isles go from here, that guiding emotional compass couldn’t be more finely attuned.


      TRACK LISTING

      1. Terrified
      2. Rocking At The Bottom
      3. Play It Cool
      4. Iced Gems
      5. Sailing Still
      6. Miss Moon
      7. Sudoku
      8. Have You Heard
      9. Pink Lemonade
      10. 11 11
      11. In A Cage

      Marissa Nadler

      The Path Of The Clouds



        TRACK LISTING

        Bessie Did You Make It
        The Path Of The Clouds
        Couldn’t Have Done The Killing
        If I Could Breathe Underwater
        Elegy
        Well Sometimes You Just Can’t Stay
        From Vaport To Stardust
        Storm
        Turned Into Air
        And I Dream Of Running
        Lemon Queen

        A.A. Williams

        Arco EP

          Making her stage debut in April 2019 and selling out her first headline show at London’s prestigious Southbank Centre less than a year later, A.A. Williams hit the ground running. Similarly, the acclaim for her performances and her music has been unanimous from the start. After one self-titled EP and a collaboration with Japanese post-rockers MONO, the London-based singer-songwriter signed to Bella Union and released her stunning debut album, Forever Blue, in July 2020. That Southbank show would prove to be the last time she would take to the stage for a long while as the world struggled to cope with unforeseen and extreme challenges. Never a musician to sit still, the classically trained multi-instrumentalist focused her creativity on arranging - firstly, by stripping back to the most delicate bones on her Songs from Isolation covers record, and now with a complete reimagining of her own material as the four songs from her debut EP become Arco.

          Not many musicians have the ability - or indeed bravery - to rework a collection of their own full band 'rock' songs into a string-and-voice arrangement. A.A. Williams, however, is not like many musicians and the minimalism of Arvo Pärt and Gorecki has long since sat beside Vaughan Williams' folk-inspired classical work as important influences on her music. Indeed, the intention with the EP was for Williams to challenge herself by not retaining guitars and drums, meaning arco had to be truly reimagined with a full string ensemble. As Williams describes it: "The main focus of the arrangements is trying to maintain the authenticity of the original songs that, whilst embodying some of the more familiar elements of the full-band settings, draws focus on the voice." Conducting the ensemble of string musicians in the studio, A.A. Williams has evolved her own compositions with new instrumentation and arrangements, encapsulating the singular vision of a unique artist.

          TRACK LISTING

          1 Control
          2 Cold
          3 Terrible Friends
          4 Belong

          Karen Peris

          A Song Is Way Above The Lawn

            “I like that it’s possible to re-travel some of the wide open expanse of childhood imagination and wonder. The thing is, I don’t really feel that far away from those places even now, and I’m sure that’s a universal thought. The moments I’m telling about in the songs, and the wonder and the curiosity - I still feel so much of it, just as anyone does. I didn’t want to be an adult saying to a child, This is how you feel. It’s more like saying, just as a person talking with another person, Isn’t this how we all feel, and isn’t that a mystery of life, too, that we are all so connected? So, most of the songs are written in the first person.”

            Singer, instrumentalist, and songwriter Karen Peris is talking about the ten compositions on her new album, A Song Is Way Above the Lawn. Written over a period of seven years, these songs make an especially melodic collection of beautifully rendered moments that will resonate with both children and adults. They offer a joy that is often poignant, thanks in part to Peris’ voice and poetry, and to the emotional, sometimes cinematic nature of the piano, central to the album’s sound. Her other instrumentation, chamber-like, with pump organ, accordion, and melodica, along with occasional nylon string and electric guitars, is spacious, allowing room for the listener’s own imagination. With the help of her husband Don Peris, who plays drum kit and upright bass, and their son and daughter, who contribute violin and viola to three songs, she has made a timeless album that has a rare and particular atmosphere of its own.

            Journalists and fellow musicians have long written warmly about the singing and songwriting of Karen Peris with her band The Innocence Mission, which she started in high school with Don Peris. Her lyrics have been called ‘profound’ by Sufjan Stevens, and ‘engaging’ by Natalie Merchant; NPR music critic Lars Gotrich has spoken of the ‘supreme detail’ of her poetry. With A Song Is Way Above the Lawn, she has combined music and words with her own illustration, to make a sort of picture book in record album form. Throughout, there is an enormous tenderness expressed, for children and families, for the natural world, and for the miraculousness of everyday life. “You know how, if we take a tiny moment of a day and really look into it, it can sort of widen out and we can see how much it holds - I like thinking about that,” she explains, “and of how it can even be a moment when we’re waiting for something else to happen, that can end up being the most memorable.” The entirety of “This Is a Song in Wintertime” is devoted to a single moment when the narrator is waiting in line, outside with her family, and it begins to snow. “And all the people in line start remarking about the snow and we realize a connectedness,” Karen relates, “and strangers talk to us and there’s this feeling, like we all arrived there together, in a sense.”

            A Song Is Way Above the Lawn also reflects a love of reading and public libraries, of walking in the companionship of trees, and of the sense of possibility felt in listening to the first sounds of the day. The latter is the subject of the album’s title song. Animals - elephants, giraffes, lions, birds, and dogs - walk in and out of the album, occasionally appearing as imaginary friends in times of solitude. About “I Would Sing Along”, Karen relates, “I heard a biologist talking this year about elephants. And she said that elephants do a kind of singing, almost subsonically, but if she listened very closely she could hear it”. Much of the album celebrates an attentiveness to the world and to the lives around us, from the luminous opening track, “Superhero”, in praise of the kindness and open-heartedness of kids and of all the people she most admires, to the closing lullaby, “Flowers”.


            TRACK LISTING

            1. Superhero
            2. To The Library
            3. I Would Sing Along
            4. For A Giraffe
            5. This Is A Song In Wintertime
            6. Map For The Orange Daylight
            7. Sister Birds
            8. George In The Car
            9. A Song Is Way Above The Lawn
            10. Flowers

            Piroshka

            Love Drips & Gathers

              Bella Union are thrilled to announce the release of Piroshka’s stunning second album, Love Drips And Gathers. The album builds on the acclaim of the band’s 2018 debut LP “Brickbat” and the reputations of former members of Lush, Moose, Elastica and Modern English.

              Piroshka emerged in 2018, four individuals with distinct musical identities but also overlapping histories - a combination that might have unsettled, or even overwhelmed, some bands. But in their case, the bond only got stronger. After “Brickbat” explored social and political divisions by way of what MOJO described as “Forceful, driving garage songs and dream-pop epics”, Love Drips And Gathers follows a more introspective line - the ties that bind us, as lovers, parents, children, friends – to a suitably subtler, more ethereal sound, whilst still revelling in energy and drama.

              “If Brickbat was our Britpop album, then Love Drips And Gathers is shoegaze!” reckons vocalist/guitarist Miki Berenyi, formerly of Lush, a band that effortlessly bridged the two genres like no other. “It wasn’t intentional; we just wanted a different focus. I’ve always seen debut albums as capturing a band’s first moments, when you really have momentum, and then the second album is the chance for a more thoughtful approach.”

              Bassist Mick Conroy (Modern English) agrees. “Brickbat was a classic first album; noisy and raucous. On Love Drips And Gathers, we’ve calmed down and explored sounds, and space.”

              To recap; before Miki and KJ ‘Moose’ McKillop were a couple (and parents), they were pivotal figures on the London-centric 90s indie scene. Likewise, Elastica, whose drummer Justin Welch was part of Lush’s 2017 reunion, whilst Mick had played for both Moose and – on their last ever gig - Lush.

              As Lush Mark II came to an end, Justin persuaded Miki (who’d abandoned music when Lush first split in 1997) to start another band, Piroshka, which in turn reignited Moose’s own long-dormant ambitions. Whilst Justin and Miki were the dominant influence on Brickbat, this time Moose and Mick were given greater control over the production, with invaluable assistance from Bella Union’s in-house engineer Iggy.

              The way Love Drips And Gathers changes shape and dynamic is less a reprise of nineties Brit indie than a transformation into a more shivery, Euro-mantic version with glistening electronic filigrees. The opening ‘Hastings’ sets the tone. Luminous drops of guitar underpin Miki’s becalmed vocal before drums, bass and a Mellotron add pace while the decorative coda features their old pal Terry Edwards on flugelhorn.

              Framed by Mellotron, cello and piano. ‘The Knife-Thrower’s Daughter’ emphatically proves Piroshka can be restrained without losing any essence of drama: the calm before the euphoria pure-pop storm of ‘Scratching At The Lid’. The words ‘ethereal’ and ‘shimmering’ were surely invented for the likes of ‘Loveable’, but the uncanny DNA of ‘V.O.’ is less categorisable – a Bond theme in the making with electro-gliding beats, perhaps? ‘Wanderlust’ and ‘Echoloco’ might be described as Francophile cousins of Lush before the haunting lullaby of ‘Familiar’ segues into the pulsing, rippling instrumental finale ‘We Told You’ - more eighties synth drama than nineties indie, with vocal samples played on what Moose calls, “the Miki-tron.”

              Love Drips And Gathers - named after a line in a Dylan Thomas poem - was inspired by love, family, belonging, memory. Miki and Moose split the eight lyrics, with some poignant overlaps here too. Miki’s ‘Loveable’ looks to Moose; Moose’s ‘The Knife-Thrower’s Daughter’ looks to Miki, but also their daughter Stella and his sister Anna; an empathic, touching embrace of the women in his life.

              Staying within the family, Moose eulogises his late mother (the idyllic childhood seaside trip of ‘Hastings 1973’) and father (the more conflicted ‘Scratching At The Lid’). On ‘V.O.’, Miki pays fond tribute to Vaughan Oliver, 4AD’s legendary in-house art director who died suddenly in December 2019, and who had a particularly close relationship with Lush during their time on the label (like Brickbat, Love Drips And Gathers’ beautiful and enigmatic artwork is by Vaughan’s former design partner Chris Bigg).

              Love Drips And Gathers’ nine tracks will each have its own video (all to be made by Connor Kingsley), with a continuing thread that will eventually create one story. Piroshka’s own story is rooted in family – both those you’re born with, and those (friends) you choose.

              TRACK LISTING

              1 Hastings 1973
              2 The Knife Thrower's Daughter
              3 Scratching At The Lid
              4 Loveable
              5 V.O.
              6 Wanderlust
              7 Echo Loco
              8 Familiar
              9 We Told You

              Tim Burgess

              I Got This - Andy Votel Remix

                Two Piccadilly favourites come together for this very limited edition flexidisc. 

                Andy Votel is a musical alchemist and a fellow vinyl adventurer, I sent a song in his direction and what he sent back was an amazing remake that I’ve been playing ever since, wondering how he does what he does - Tim Burgess

                We're only getting a handful of copies so get in there quick if you want one.




                John Grant

                Boy From Michigan

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                  PREORDER THE ALBUM ON ANY FORMAT TO BE IN WITH A CHANCE OF WINNING AN EXCLUSIVE SIGNED TEST PRESSING. ***

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

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

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

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

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

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                  STAFF COMMENTS

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

                  TRACK LISTING

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

                  Dirty Three

                  Ocean Songs: Deluxe Boxset (RSD21 EDITION)

                    THIS IS A RECORD STORE DAY 2021 EXCLUSIVE AND WILL BE AVAILABLE INSTORE ON SATURDAY JUNE 12TH ON A FIRST COME FIRST SERVED BASIS, LIMITED TO ONE PER PERSON.

                    IF THERE ARE ANY REMAINING COPIES THEY WILL BE MADE AVAILABLE ONLINE AT 6PM ON THE SAME DAY (SATURDAY JUNE 12TH).


                    In March 1998 Australian trio The Dirty Three released their now iconic album ëOcean Songsí. In 2005 the band would be joined onstage by Nick Cave to play the album in its entirety at ATP festival in New York, a show that since has developed into near mythic status. In 2021, both of these recordings will be made available in a deluxe boxset as part of Record Store Day. Remastered for an enhanced listening experience, the boxset will feature 4LPs pressed on coloured vinyl - the original album on lovely ocean blue and the live album on violet. In addition the band's guitarist Mick Turner has created new artwork including a giant 8 panel pull out poster with words from the band on the recording and the ATP performance and a secondary poster that includes lots of great photos from the show. All housed in a beautiful slipcase! Ocean Songs marked the bands first release with Bella Union and was the second-ever album released on the label, as detailed by boss Simon Raymonde, An extraordinary record. Visceral, uncategorisable and runs on pure adrenalin and feel. Our first time working with the band, in fact our first time working with ANY band, and was only the second-ever album released on Bella Union back in 1998, a few months after we formed the label. 22 years later and listening to the album afresh, I am filled with emotion hearing these sounds again, as if it were for the first time. It is both vibrant and untamed as any record I've ever heard. Imperative listening.

                    Dirty Three violinist and bassist Warren Ellis also recalls the albums somewhat rocky beginnings as the band were dropped by their previous label, ìwhen we handed Ocean Songs in to Big Cat we were dropped. Luckily a deal was inked with Bella Union in an AA meeting between our manager and Robin Guthrie. Possibly the boldest album of our career. Symphonic in its conceit and 100% Dirty Three. Playing it live in its entirety only reconfirmed its audacity. I think this live recording might be my favourite Dirty Three album ever. Thatís what I hear when Iím playing in the band. With Nick on piano it was the most beautiful blend of my musical adventures.î eve artwork from the guitarist Mick Turner, a pull-out poster and new band photos. Ocean Songs is the fourth major album by Dirty Three, released originally in March 1998 by Touch and Go Records and Bella Union. Produced by Steve Albini and the band themselves, the album was recorded at Electrical Audio, Chicago, United States, during August and September 1997. The album also features David Grubbs on piano and harmonium on a number of tracks, while the cover art was designed by guitarist Mick Turner.

                    Lanterns On The Lake

                    Gracious Tide, Take Me Home - 10th Anniversary Edition

                      The band’s much-loved debut has been meticulously remastered at Abbey Road studios and will be released on double vinyl in a gatefold sleeve with gold foil print. Additionally, the album comes with five previously unreleased tracks recorded during the original sessions, details of which can be found in the track-list below.

                      Fusing the most fragile and graceful end of the folk music spectrum to the most luminous properties of cinemascope rock, Gracious Tide, Take Me Home used a smorgasbord of instruments (guitars, violin, mandolin, piano, synths, glockenspiels, even a kalimba) to paint a variety of beautiful vistas, from the ambient ‘Ships In The Rain’ to the galloping ‘A Kingdom’, from the six-minute layers of ‘The Places We Call Home’ to the skeletal 73-second finale ‘Not Going Back To The Harbour’. There’s always been a compelling drama to Lanterns On The Lake; the way the opening track ‘Lungs Quicken’ shifts from dreamy restraint to a full-blown crescendo indicated the true power at their fingertips.

                      Lanterns On The Lake formed in 2008 combining a group of friends who had all played in various bands on the local music scene. Hazel Wilde (vocals, guitar), Paul Gregory (guitars, electronics) and Ol Ketteringham (drums, piano) still comprise the core of the band whilst previous members Adam Sykes (vocals, guitar) and Brendan Sykes (bass) departed prior to the second album.

                      Hazel commented at the time that. “A lot of lyrics were inspired by me and Paul moving back to the coast [between Tynemouth and North Shields], where I grew up, after we’d been living near the city centre. They’re also memories of growing up here, the feeling of homesickness, and stories of people around us and of the sea. The title Gracious Tide, Take Me Home seemed to sum up all the themes.”

                      There might be a vein of sadness through this music - ‘Ships In The Rain’ was inspired by a local fisherman who went missing at sea, and ‘A Kingdom’ was inspired by the book letters sent home by WW2 soldiers – but there is just as much hope in ‘Keep on Trying’ and ‘You’re Almost There’, where fear and insecurities are banished by self-belief; “the feeling that you’re going places,” as Hazel says. Mirroring the sentiment of the album title, ‘I Love You, Sleepyhead’ and ‘Places We Call Home’ draw on the comfort and security of home, friendship and memory.

                      TRACK LISTING

                      1. Lungs Quicken
                      2. If I've Been Unkind
                      3. Keep On Trying
                      4. Ships In The Rain
                      5. A Kingdom
                      6. The Places We Call Home
                      7. Blanket Of Leaves
                      8. Tricks
                      9. You're Almost There
                      10. I Love You, Sleepyhead
                      11. Not Going Back To The Harbour
                      12. The Watchhouse And The Daughter
                      13. Sapsorrow
                      14. You Need Better
                      15. My Shield
                      16. Not Going Back To The Harbour (High Tide Version)

                      Will Stratton

                      The Changing Wilderness

                        Will Stratton’s rich catalogue is proof that the Hudson Valley folk musician thrives on exploration and reflection. Chart his trajectory over his previous six albums and you’ll find a songwriter not content to stay comfortable or do the same thing twice. From his 2007 debut What the Night Said, which he released aged 20, to 2014’s Gray Lodge Wisdom, a resilient and gorgeous LP which documented his bout with cancer, as well as 2017’s Rosewood Almanac, a de facto love-letter to song-writing, his guitar, and his favourite records, the subtle but sizable tweaks to his process, arranging, and writing have been revelations. “I’ve always tried to make the process of making music as much of a source of pleasure and exploration as possible,” says Stratton. So it’s no surprise that The Changing Wilderness, his resonant and clear-eyed seventh album, pushes him to expansive new heights again.

                        The 10 tracks on the LP came about from an intense four-year period of soul-searching and change for Stratton, where he knew he needed to change the way he wrote songs. “I was just really sick of introspection,” he says. “I had to write music that felt like it was engaging with the outside world, rather than focusing on what was going on in my own life like on my earlier records.” With the 2016 election, Donald Trump’s Presidency, and rising right-wing extremism on his mind, Stratton set out to interrogate his country’s present crises. Like the best protest music, these songs aren’t didactic or preachy. Instead, they ask more questions than claim to have answers with Stratton’s lyrics taking a scalpel-like approach to the very worst of human nature. 

                        TRACK LISTING

                        1. Tokens
                        2. Black Hole
                        3. Infertile Air
                        4. The Rain
                        5. Finally Free
                        6. Fate's Ghost
                        7. When I've Been Born (I'll Love You)
                        8. River Of Silver
                        9. Venus
                        10. Stillness

                        A.A. Williams

                        Songs From Isolation

                          Following excellent reviews for her debut album Forever Blue, A.A. Williams announces news of Songs From Isolation, a 9-track LP of cover versions. The Songs From Isolation project began at the beginning of the UK’s nationwide lockdown in March. A.A. Williams took songs suggested by fans and created a series of videos presenting the tracks with stripped-down instrumentation, recorded and filmed from her home in North London. The album represents a continuation of the project into a full collection of recordings and features cover versions of The Cure, Pixies, Deftones, Nick Cave, Gordon Lightfoot, Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails and more.

                          TRACK LISTING

                          1 Lovesong
                          2 Where Is My Mind?
                          3 If You Could Read My Mind
                          4 Creep
                          5 Nights In White Satin
                          6 Be Quiet And Drive (Far Away)
                          7 Every Day Is Exactly The Same
                          8 Into My Arms
                          9 Porcelina Of The Vast Oceans

                          Lost Horizons

                          In Quiet Moments

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

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

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

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

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

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


                            STAFF COMMENTS

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

                            TRACK LISTING

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                            TRACK LISTING

                            1 A Perfect Miracle
                            2 I'm Your Man
                            3 Here It Comes (The Road) Let's Go
                            4 Let's Dance
                            5 On The Sunshine
                            6 Damaged
                            7 The Morning After
                            8 The Prize
                            9 Sail On Through

                            I Break Horses

                            Death Engine Remix

                              Following the release of her album ‘Warnings’ in May 2020 via Bella Union, I Break Horses announces details of a remix 12” featuring The Field and Mythologen.

                              TRACK LISTING

                              Death Engine (The Field Remix)
                              Turn (Mythologen Remix)

                              Sonikku

                              Sweat (Sophie Remix)



                                TRACK LISTING

                                1. Sweat (feat LIZ)
                                2. Don't Wanna Dance With U Remix (feat Albertina)

                                Modern Nature

                                Annual

                                  Released in August 2019, Modern Nature’s debut album - How to Live - crossed the urban and rural into each other. Plaintive cello strains melted into motorik beats. Pastoral field recordings drifted through looping guitar figures. Rising melodies shone with reflective saxophone accents, placing the record somewhere between the subtle mediations of Talk Talk, the stirring folk of Anne Briggs and the atmospheric waves of Harmonia. The album was met with universal acclaim and featured in a number of publication’s ‘Best Of 2019’ lists. As the group took the album out on the road, Modern Nature became something even more expansive. “It feels like there's scope and room to grow. I want the group to feel fluid and that whoever's playing with us can express themselves and interpret what they think this music is” says bandleader Jack Cooper.

                                  Their new mini-album Annual, recorded in December 2019 at Gizzard Studio in London, is another step towards something more liberated and a world away from the sound of Jack Cooper's previous bands. Will Young sits this one out, concentrating on his work with Beak, but How To Live collaborator Jeff Tobias takes a more central role, alongside percussionist Jim Wallis.

                                  Jack explains how 'Annual' came about:
                                  “Towards the end of 2018, I began filling a new diary with words, observations from walks, descriptions of events, thoughts...free associative streams of just... stuff. Reading back, as the year progressed from winter to spring, the tone of the diary seemed to change as well... optimism crept in, brightness and then things began to dip as autumn approached... warmth, isolation again and into winter. I split the diary into four seasons and used them as the template for the four main songs. The shorter instrumental songs on the record are meant to signify specific events and transitions from one season to the next. I figured it wouldn't be a very long record, but to me it stands up next to 'How To Live' in every way.”

                                  ‘Annual’ opens with ‘Dawn’ which brings to mind the peace and space of Miles Davis' ‘In A Silent Way’; it rises from nothing like shoots reaching for the light. “I wanted Dawn to feel like the moment you realise spring is coming, when you notice blossom on the trees or nights getting lighter. On lead track ‘Flourish’, it's clear Modern Nature have moved on from the first album; as muted percussion and double-bass stirs behind Cooper's Slint-like ambling guitar; the chorus soars into a collaged crescendo. “Flourish is like when my part of the world coming to life. I live on the edge of London between Leytonstone and Epping Forest, so the signs of spring are very apparent round here - flowers, light, people talking in their gardens. Mayday started as an outro to Flourish or ‘Spring’ as it was titled originally. The idea was a segueway into the summer section to represent the sort of collective excitement a city gets once it realises summer is here."

                                  The summer of Jack's diary inspired 'Halo'. “Wanstead Flats where I live, change a lot in the summer; a haze descends on them instead of the spring mist and the city's proximity is more apparent. Blue bags of empty cans and scorched grass from out of control barbeques.” Arnulf Lindner on double-bass recalls the playing of Danny Thompson with Jeff Tobias' wonderfully lyrical saxophone referencing Pharoah Sanders. On ‘Harvest’ Jack takes a backseat with Kayla Cohen of Itasca singing. “All these songs are in the same key but the melody was above my range. I'd been playing the new Itasca record all the time and just reached out. The economy with which she sings is perfect.”

                                  “The intention with the record was for it to feel like a circle, so Wynter reflects the opening. I guess having to get up and flip the record destroys the illusion so it's a rare occasion where listening with the ability to just loop the album into another year is closer to our intention.”

                                  ‘Annual’ then acts both like a companion piece to the band’s ‘How To Live’ debut but also a pointer to the paths ahead. Cooper has already started work on the next album, his speed of output an indication of the excitement and creativity that surrounds the project. Who will be involved and what the touchstones might be are yet to be firmly established but then who would have it any other way with this most fascinatingly free-flowing and mutable of groups? 


                                  TRACK LISTING

                                  1 Dawn
                                  2 Flourish
                                  3 Mayday
                                  4 Halo
                                  5 Harvest
                                  6 Ritual
                                  7 Wynter

                                  Pom Poko

                                  Cheater

                                    “If you have a vacancy for Favourite New Band, Pom Poko would like to apply for the role,” tweeted Tim Burgess in April, as Norway’s finest punkpop anti-conformists revisited their joyous debut album, ‘Birthday’, for one of Tim’s mood-lifting Twitter listening parties. Pom Poko pimp their CV on all fronts with their glorious second album, ‘Cheater’. Between the quartet’s sweet melodies, galvanic punky ructions and wild-at-art-rock eruptions, ‘Cheater’ is the sound of a band celebrating the binding extremes that make them so uniquely qualified to thrill: and, like Tim’s listening party, to fulfil any need you might have for a pick-you-up.

                                    As singer Ragnhild Fangel explains of the leap from ‘Birthday’ to ‘Cheater’, “I think it’s very accurate to say that we wanted to embrace our extremes a bit more. In the production process I think we aimed more for some sort of contrast between the meticulously written and arranged songs and a more chaotic execution and recording, but also let ourselves explore the less frantic parts of the Pom Poko universe. I think both in the more extreme and painful way, and in the sweet and lovely way, this album is kind of amplified.”

                                    The sound of four distinct personalities driving in divergent directions towards one destination, the result is an evolved snapshot of the bracingly contrary chemistry forged when Fangel, Tonne, Jonas Krøvel (bass) and Ola Djupvik (drums) united to play punk during a jazz gig at a literature festival in Trondheim (the band-members studied jazz there).  Along the way, the band drew praise from NME, Interview Magazine, DIY, PopMatters, The Line Of Best Fit, The Independent and BBC Radio 6, where Miranda Sawyer was moved to note that “‘Birthday’s ‘Crazy Energy Night’ seems to contain about 20 songs in one.” Meanwhile, a huge touring schedule included countless sold-out headline shows and a rapturously received UK jaunt with Ezra Furman.

                                    ‘Cheater’ does its predecessor proud on every front. Bursting with colour and wonky life from its cover art (by close collaborator Erlend Peder Kvam) outwards, it differs from ‘Birthday’ primarily in that its songs did not have a chance to be road-tested before going into the studio. But you wouldn’t know it. As Ragnhild explains, “That meant we had to practice the songs in a more serious way, but it also meant the songs had more potential to change when we recorded them since we didn’t have such a clear image of what each song should/could be as the last time.”

                                    STAFF COMMENTS

                                    Barry says: Pom Poko have all of the zest and quirk of a modern pop band but with brilliantly angular melodies and swooning time signatures, and perfectly played instruments. It's an intoxicating experience, and one that needs to be heard to be believed. absolutely superb.

                                    TRACK LISTING

                                    Cheater
                                    Like A Lady
                                    Andrew
                                    My Candidacy
                                    Danger Baby
                                    Andy Go To School
                                    Look
                                    Baroque Denial
                                    Curly Romance
                                    Body Level

                                    Hilang Child

                                    Every Mover

                                      “The greatest thing about being a musician is experiencing it with other people,” says Ed Riman, the Brighton-based Eurasian singer, songwriter and sound-scapist who records as Hilang Child. “Whether that’s playing with others, creating together, sharing a vision, whatever, I just think in all aspects it’s a totally elevated experience when you’re not alone.” Proof rings out with force and feeling on Hilang Child’s superlative second album, "Every Mover".

                                      In 2018, Riman delivered a serene, textured debut album in Years, rich in sound and feeling. Lauren Laverne, Q, MOJO and others lavished praise, but the “isolating process” of making the album left Riman hungry to find alternative ways of working. Meanwhile, the “lonely, pressured” aftermath of Years found Riman grappling with “rough self-esteem and anxiety issues”, amplified in part by social media’s ‘fulfilment narratives’. Duly, he set out to navigate and overcome these mindsets, drawing deeply on his own insecurities and those he recognised in others. These themes converge emphatically on Every Mover, an album steeped in everyday emotional states and crafted for cathartic, communal performance. Drawing on a rich spread of collaborators, sounds and themes, Riman uses his frustrations as the impetus to transform the brimming promise of Years into upfront and expansive new shapes.

                                      “I wanted it to sound abit gutsier than the first album,” he says, succinctly, “heavier and closer to the kind of stuff that hits me when I go to shows or blast music in the car. I started out in music as a drummer playing for pop or beat-driven artists and grew up listening to louder stuff, but a lot of the music I’ve made as Hilang Child has been more ethereal. I wanted to bring it back to a place that feels more ‘me’ and make more of a thing of having big hypnotic drums, aggressive bass, ripping distorted instruments and a general energy to it.” “Good to be Young” serves swift notice of this leap, its banked synths and twinkling sound clusters leading to an assertion of fresh force when the main beat lands and a congregation of friends – AK Patterson, Paul Thomas Saunders, Dog in the Snow, Ellen Murphy, members of Penelope Isles – unite for the gang-vocal refrains. “It’s all iridescent colour I’m on,” Riman exults, a claim lived up to on the full-flush folktronica of “Shenley”. A reflection on spiralling insecurity, “Seen the Boreal” ups the ante again with its monk-ish chorales, looping samples, spectral woodwinds (from multi-instrumentalist John ‘Rittipo’ Moore, of Public Service Broadcasting and Bastille previous) and ecstatic chorus, Riman transforming a meditation on hindsight’s limiting effects into a spur to look forwards.

                                      And surge forwards he does with the glittering synths, spacey guitars, and Krautrock propulsion of “King Quail”, developed in jam sessions with dream-pop wonder Zoe Mead (Wyldest) in her basement studio. Riman’s sounds are enriched wherever you turn, from the epic prog-tronica of “The Next Hold” to the vocal release and layered arrangement of “Play ’Til Evening”; a kind of summit meeting between Surrender-era Chemical Brothers and Fleet Foxes in the high church of ecstatic sound. The treated chorales of “Magical Fingertip” and naked lyrics of the festival-sized “Anthropic (Cold Times)” showcase a fertile push-pull of lush arrangements and wide-open emotions in Riman’s sound; on the latter, Rittipo’s horns brim with expressive power. That confidence also extends to the opposite extreme on a stripped-back love song with an illustrative back-story. “I was helping some friends build a music studio in early 2019,” says Riman, “and the days were a long, manual-labour slog on a dimly lit building site in winter.

                                      One dark evening we were fitting insulation and choking on rockwool dust in the freezing cold, when Carole King’s ‘(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman’ came on the radio and pierced through the gloom, bringing this calm over everyone. It was like this weird epiphany moment.” Written in tribute, “Earthborne” channels King’s influence into an ode to the support of loved ones. Brought to a sublime close with “Steppe”, the resulting album projects its own epiphanic force. The birth was not always smooth: due to Covid-19, tours were cancelled and studios closed. Thankfully, most of the main parts were recorded pre-lockdown between East London, Gateshead, Brighton, Wandsworth and elsewhere, before mixing proceeded remotely. Meanwhile, alongside indie-pop trio OUTLYA’s Will Bloomfield (percussion/co-production on ‘Play ’Til Evening’), visual design collective Tough Honey (accompanying videos) and other collaborators, Riman’s bond with co-producer JMAC (Troye Sivan, Haux, Lucy Rose) proved crucial. “It felt freeing to work collaboratively and have that push-and-pull of ideas,” says Riman.

                                      “Even the moments where we didn’t see eye-to-eye made it feel like I wasn’t alone, with someone else working just as passionately on the project.” That sense of passion lights up Every Mover, an album that hymns the redemptive qualities of richly expressive music crafted in simpatico unison with friends. “I get told I’m quite an openly emotional person,” says Riman, “and I suppose the extremes in this album reflect that! But I also wanted the album to roughly follow the mental flow of feeling worthless, then recognising it, then accepting your shortcomings and trying to work on it, then coming out unscathed on the other side. I’m still not fully out of the spiral. The Covid apocalypse, alongside some personal life changes, have definitely caused it to resurface. But I’m glad I made this album as a kind of cathartic primer on trying to deal with it.” Now, time for other people to experience it too.

                                      STAFF COMMENTS

                                      Martin says: At the forefront of emotional synthpop and pristine melodic direction, Hilang Child's newest offering perfectly marries huge anthemic hand-wavers with more introspective, experimental moments.

                                      TRACK LISTING

                                      1. Good To Be Young
                                      2. Shenley
                                      3. Seen The Boreal
                                      4. King Quail
                                      5. Pesawat Aeroplane
                                      6. The Next Hold
                                      7. Play 'Til Evening
                                      8. Magical Fingertip
                                      9. Anthropic (Cold Times)
                                      10. Earthborne
                                      11. Steppe

                                      Landshapes

                                      Contact

                                        Loneliness, isolation, alienation, the need for connection and community. The salient themes of our times resonate with a haunting, predictive and vital power on the third album from London four-piece Landshapes. Released through Bella Union this November, Contact is an album that digs deep into the past, looks ahead to the future and burns with vivid life in the present, where its mind-expanding soundscapes, beguiling melodies and resonating emotions exude a tremendous in-the-moment vibrancy.

                                        The title speaks clearly to the album’s themes, as intended. As Luisa Gerstein (vocals, synths) explains, “The working title for a long time was ‘Collapse’, but when we came around to naming it, and having the conversation from our respective isolation, we wanted to give it a name that was more hopeful, and about connectivity. Dan suggested ‘Contact’ and it clicked - Contact with each other; contact with the wider world amidst its unravelling; music feels like a really essential part of that right now.”

                                        After the voyages of self-discovery on their 2013 debut, “Rambutan”, and the wide-open reach of “Heyoon”, Contact pays testimony to Landshapes’ questing spirit. Recorded live at Soup Studios when it was in Limehouse, the album’s freshness reflects a strict resistance to, says Luisa, “over-cooking in the studio”. New tools helped flesh out the soundscapes, Jemma notes: “actual synths”, a Boss Dr Rhythm drum machine, and fresh guitar pedals enrich the sonic palette without gratuitous studio interference. Meanwhile, storied sound wizard and producer Kwes became, says Heloise, “sort of a fifth member”, helping to take the songs “to a new realm”.

                                        As Jemma says, “We had a strong idea of wanting to keep a raw feel to the work, and that we wanted external ears to play a guiding influence and add a new voice once we had built the foundations. The sense of previous preciousness was something we could dispose of, as we had more confidence in our ability to play and write. I think it made us bold.”

                                        Landshapes, then: reach out, make contact.

                                        TRACK LISTING

                                        1 Rosemary
                                        2 Siberia
                                        3 Drama
                                        4 The Ring
                                        5 Real Love Is Dead
                                        6 I'm Mortal
                                        7 Dizzee
                                        8 Let Me Be
                                        9 Just A Plug
                                        10 Conductor

                                        Tim Burgess

                                        Ascent Of The Ascended EP

                                          This 6-track EP contains two superb new tracks, “Yours. To Be”, and “The Ascent Of The Ascended”, recorded soon after the album was finished, as well as four tracks recorded in New York City back in March as a live session for Paste magazine. Three of the tracks are from I Love The New Sky alongside a new version of The Charlatan’s classic ‘The Only One I Know’.

                                          Of the lead track, “Yours. To Be”, Burgess says: “At the tail end of the glory of the night before - with all the hope and beauty that the following morning brings. Away from the glare of the party - like the calm after the storm has left town. It’s a feeling that’s so pure and uncluttered. It’s around a while, then real life starts to creep back in. It’s all about making the most of moments as they are happening .”  

                                          Burgess goes on to say: “There was an energy that came from recording the album with such a brilliant band - I didn’t want it to end, I wanted to record a bit of a magnum opus, which is where Ascent of the Ascended came in. I’d always wanted to work with Charles Hayward from This Heat, so we have him a ring and he said yeah. With “Yours. To Be” being almost like an instant feeling you get in a moment, very rarely in your life - the two songs are so different but they somehow complement each other. So an EP was the perfect idea.”

                                          “We had so many plans for playing live this year - from South by Southwest to Glastonbury and everything in between. But that wasn’t to be. We played four shows in New York before lockdown happened - so our session for Paste Magazine was such a rare event, we’ve included the songs to complete the EP.”

                                          TRACK LISTING

                                          1. The Ascent Of The Ascended
                                          2. Yours. To Be
                                          3. Laurie (Paste Session)
                                          4. The Mall (Paste Session)
                                          5. The Only One I Know (Paste Session)
                                          6. Undertow (Paste Session)

                                          Laura Veirs

                                          My Echo

                                            “My Echo is my 11th solo album. It’s my ‘my songs knew I was getting divorced before I did’ album. My conscious mind was trying as hard as I could to keep my family together but my subconscious mind was working on the difficult struggles in my marital life. I was part of a “Secret Poetry Group” that met and wrote poems monthly for a year during the writing of this record. Many of my poems turned into songs for this album. By the time the album was being mixed last fall, my ex-husband/producer Tucker Martine and I had decided to go our separate ways. We were a great musical team for many years but we struggled to be compatible in our marriage and family life and that struggle is reflected in this album.

                                            In this new batch of songs I imagine escaping from some sort of prison or cage. Advancing age, the confines of domesticity, our oppressive government and the threat of the apocalypse permeate these songs. In these songs my heart craves certainty and permanence but none is to be found. It’s an album about disintegration. It reveals my artist’s intuition at work.

                                            Although these songs were written before quarantine they are strangely relevant to times in which we find ourselves currently. You will find me staring at the walls (Turquoise Walls). You will find me feeling grateful to be alive (Memaloose Island). You will find me accepting the ephemeral nature of life (Vapor Trails and All the Things). You will find me searching for personal freedom while feeling trapped (Freedom Feeling). You will find me trying to accept that sometimes the best thing to do is to sit still and do nothing at all (Another Space and Time).

                                            Produced by Tucker Martine in the summer and fall of 2019 in Portland, OR. Includes appearances from Jim James, Bill Frisell, Karl Blau, Matt Ward.

                                            STAFF COMMENTS

                                            Barry says: Laura Veirs proves an essential voice in these times, mixing the brittle folky guitars and soft vocals of her earlier work with a more recent downtempo plaintiveness. It's a heady combination, and one that continues the legacy she's built up so far, but taking the sound into new realms.

                                            TRACK LISTING

                                            1 Freedom Feeling
                                            2 Another Space And Time
                                            3 Turquoise Walls
                                            4 Memaloose Island
                                            5 End Times
                                            6 Burn Too Bright
                                            7 Brick Layer
                                            8 All The Things
                                            9 I Sing To The Tall Man
                                            10 Vapor Trails

                                            Emmy The Great

                                            April / Ɯ

                                              “My story begins with the moon. In September 2017, I travelled to Hong Kong from New York, where I’d lived for three years, for the Mid-Autumn festival. I was planning to visit my parents and take some time off to write my fourth album. I arrived in time for the full moon - Chang-E’s moon - at a time of year when the heat breaks and the city seems alive with possibility.


                                              That Spring, I’d visited China and accidentally become somewhat fluent in Cantonese again, though the goal had been to speak Mandarin. I was there for a music residency, and had expected to feel an instant click. Instead, I realised that Hong Kong had an identity quite separate from the Mainland, and with my mother tongue reinstated, I was beginning to come to terms with that identity being a part of mine. This was tough - I was born in Hong Kong but I’ve always felt complicated about it.


                                              Still, that Mid-Autumn, everything felt simple. Under the guidance of the moon, I walked the city - its neon-lit alleyways, its escalators and mountain paths. For a brief, precious moment, I fell into synch with Hong Kong. I felt its complex legacy and its tangled future. I felt the sorrow, alive in the buzz of neon and the drips of air-conditioner units, of a city caught between two destinies. It was twenty years since the Handover and the beginning of ‘One Country, Two Systems’. Everywhere I went, I saw people seeking to define their shared identity before it was too late. I hope some of that spirit has found its way into the songs, which were mostly written during that time.

                                              TRACK LISTING

                                              1 Mid-Autumn/ Ɯ�音
                                              2 Writer
                                              3 Dandelions/Liminal
                                              4 Chang-E
                                              5 A Window/O'Keeffe
                                              6 Okinawa/Ubud
                                              7 Your Hallucinations
                                              8 Mary
                                              9 Hollywood Road/April
                                              10 Heart Sutra

                                              The Flaming Lips

                                              American Head

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

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

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

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

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

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




                                                TRACK LISTING

                                                1 Will You Return/When You Come Down
                                                2 Watching The Lightbugs Glow
                                                3 Flowers Of Neptune 6
                                                4 Dinosaurs On The Mountain
                                                5 At The Movies On Quaaludes
                                                6 Mother I've Taken LSD
                                                7 Brother Eye
                                                8 You N Me Sellin' Weed
                                                9 Mother Please Don't Be Sad
                                                10 When We Die When We're High
                                                11 Assassins Of Youth
                                                12 God And The Policeman
                                                13 My Religion Is You

                                                Leila Moss

                                                Who The Power

                                                  "If you’re going to deconstruct the modern psyche," says Liela Moss, "you might as well dance to it." On her second solo album, ‘Who The Power’, Moss fulfils that remit with all the power its title calls for. After 2018’s deeply personal ‘My Name Is Safe in Your Mouth’ - a debut solo album at times serene, at others stormy, on every front sumptuous - Moss entered a period of profound creative and personal self-reflection. When she emerged, she forged an album of questioning intensity and synth-loaded drama, with the expressive force in her voice refuelled by the urgent desire to interrogate the role of selfhood in fraught times. And, crucially, backed by the urgent grooves needed for the job.

                                                  As Moss says of her feelings during the build-up to the album: “To make music for the sake can sometimes feel like a narcissistic thing to do, and very reflective of our times. So much of being a musician and live performer is about projecting energy outward, which can be a beautiful and powerful thing. I experienced a good round of that over previous years, and now wanted to explore my fears of tipping the scales the other way: why should I continue to reenact the narcissistic habits of our generation, desperate for validation, desperate for space, for ‘a platform’?”

                                                  Album opener ‘Turn Your Back Around’ is a yearning eco-lament set to banked synths over a propulsive beat. Or, as Moss puts it: “One filthy, upbeat, downhearted, close-your-eyes-and-dance-by-yourself pop song, offered as a parting gift to Mother Earth.” ‘Watching The Wolf’ is another forthright song for today, its brooding, near-gothic swagger framing a righteous modern-day folk tale about wolves converging to unseat a toxic political pundit. A controlled rage shows in Moss’s voice, which grows more liberated still amid the simmering darkwave throb of ‘Atoms At Me’, where Moss issues a call to free the senses from the call to consume.

                                                  That sense of freedom further shows in the album’s dynamic focus and passion. The nearceremonial ‘Always Sliding’ draws power from the idea of impermanence, from the call to “keep searching.” ‘The Individual’ sets a Paradise Lost-ish narrative to a sulphurous bassline and lunging synths, while the graceful synths and infectious melody of ‘White Feather’ frame lyrics with teeth. “‘White Feather’ is a lament for the earth, sung with fingers crossed behind my back,” explains Moss. “Humanity is losing connection with something vital, and willingly letting itself slip into an abyss. This isn’t as simple as my reaction to the distressing reality of environmental damage; it is my thoughts on our lousy behaviour to one another.”

                                                  Elsewhere, the moody elegance of ‘Battlefield’ and bruised plea of ‘Nummah’ rank among Moss’s finest vocal performances. ‘Suako’ offers pulsing synth-rock impetus to risk starting anew, while the blissful ‘Stolen Careful’ ends the album on a palpable note of revitalisation, all risks rewarded as Moss emerges refreshed in her hunger to explore new, meaningful ways to engage with the world.

                                                  As with the widely acclaimed ‘My Name Is Safe in Your Mouth’, that engagement took place close to home. Working again with partner / producer Toby Butler, Moss wrote and recorded the album in their studio in Somerset, where they live with their child. The difference this time, she explains, was a desire “to create something more urgent,” which captured a sense of renewal while conveying a strong sense of despair at modern culture. “Perhaps that oscillating energy is best expressed musically via machines. We spent much of our time playing with vintage synths and drum machines, building a more visceral palette. I wanted the album to convey a depth of field, to be multi-layered yet feel simple, and to groove.”

                                                  Widescreen ambitions fulfilled, the result is another bold leap forward for one of alt-rock’s most magnetic, exploratory voices. Over 14 years, Moss’s work with the Duke Spirit (on pause) ranged from brawling riff-rock to more cinematic ventures. Other gigs have included synth-rock recordings with Butler under the name Roman Remains and various collaborative ventures – with UNKLE, Nick Cave, Giorgio Moroder and Lost Horizons, as well as serving as muse for fashion icons Alexander McQueen and Phillip Lim, among others.

                                                  TRACK LISTING

                                                  1. Turn Your Back Around
                                                  2. Watching The Wolf
                                                  3. Atoms At Me
                                                  4. Always Sliding
                                                  5. The Individual
                                                  6. White Feather
                                                  7. Battlefield
                                                  8. Nummah
                                                  9. Suako
                                                  10. Stolen Careful

                                                  Mr Ben And The Bens

                                                  Life Drawing

                                                    After the celestial adventures of Mr Ben and the Bens’ previous issue, band-leader Ben Hall finds all the magic he needs on earth with his new album, Life Drawing. On 2019’s Who Knows Jenny Jones?, Hall plotted the story of a young, shy Pitsmoor woman who returned from an alien encounter newly armed with serious disco-dancing know-how. Life Drawing, meanwhile, looks closer to home for its inspiration – Sheffield and thereabouts – for twelve brightly plaintive, character-driven vignettes, set to warm, acoustic, indie-folk-pop backdrops after its predecessor’s close encounters of the synth-driven kind.

                                                    A “cloudy thread of narrative” is present, Hall explains, but this time it’s left open for listeners to map routes through it. “The idea with the title is that the songs are character sketches, and their stories coalesce in a place that has a bit of all the towns in the North of England I’ve lived in. Bits of myself in the stories came out unintentionally, so I’d like it if the listener could find those semi-truths from the songs and place them into their own experiences.”


                                                    STAFF COMMENTS

                                                    Barry says: Mr Ben moves himself and all of his Bens to Bella Union! It's a fitting home really, as they are well heeled with this sort of jangling, melodic optimism and off-kilter classic psychedelia. It's lovely stuff, and a superb whimsical counterfoil to the drags of day-to-day life.

                                                    TRACK LISTING

                                                    1 On The Beach
                                                    2 How Do You Do?
                                                    3 Danny
                                                    4 Faithful Hound
                                                    5 Astral Plane
                                                    6 Minor Keys
                                                    7 Beast In The House
                                                    8 Walking To An Open Sky
                                                    9 The Wind On Spittlehill
                                                    10 Irish Rain
                                                    11 Closing Time
                                                    12 Watering Can

                                                    A. A. Williams

                                                    Forever Blue

                                                      Making her stage debut in April 2019 and selling out her first headline show at London’s prestigious Southbank Centre less than a year later, A.A. Williams has hit the ground running. Similarly, the acclaim for her performances and her music has been unanimous from the start. After one self-titled EP and the 10” vinyl collaboration Exit in Darkness with Japanese post-rockers MONO, the London-based singer-songwriter has signed to Bella Union and made a stunning debut album, Forever Blue.

                                                      A rapturous blend of post-rock and post-classical, Forever Blue smoulders with uncoiling melodies and haunted atmospheres, shifting from serenity to explosive drama, often within the same song. Williams is a fantastic musician as well as songwriter, playing the guitar, cello and piano, and her voice has the controlled delivery of a seasoned chanteuse whilst still channelling the rawest of emotions.

                                                      Forever Blue is named after a song that didn’t make the album’s final cut, “but it still encapsulated these songs,” Williams explains. “It sounded timeless and in the right place.” The album’s threads encapsulate the anxieties and addiction of love and loss with haunting detail, for example ‘Glimmer’(“I wasn’t meant to see the sun washed out and pale / I wait undone / I wasn’t meant to be the one hollow and hurt and meant for none”), though Williams admits the theme was shaped more by her subconscious than any grand plan.

                                                      “The lyrics come at the end, they fall into place, rhythmically, and link together,” she explains. “And then it’s my job to decipher what I’ve written! I want the words to get my point across but still let the listener map on their own experiences. I find it really therapeutic.”

                                                      Therapy is intrinsic to Williams’ approach: to not just express and unpick her feelings of longing and loss but to work through them. “Verbalising something, you feel a weight has been lifted,” she says. The transition can be mirrored in the dynamic shift from ‘quiet’ to ‘loud’, as on ‘Glimmer’ and arguably at its most euphoric on ‘Melt’. “There’s something very satisfying and elating about songs that have that drop in them, to stomp on the guitar pedal on and let it all out.”

                                                      It’s testament to Williams’ skills, and those of husband and bassist Thomas Williams, that Forever Blue’s commanding sound was largely captured at the couple’s two-bedroom flat in North London. Drums by Geoff Holroyde were added at engineer Adrian

                                                      Hall’s studio in South London, with guest vocals from Johannes Persson (Cult Of Luna), who adds his deep-trawling growl to ‘Fearless’ (“he sounds like Tectonic plates moving” Williams feels), Fredrik Kihlberg (Cult Of Luna) on ‘Glimmer’ and Tom Fleming (ex-Wild Beasts) on ‘Dirt’.

                                                      Williams can scarcely believe she’s in such exalted company, or that her band has toured with Cult Of Luna, Russian Circles, Explosions In The Sky, Nordic Giants and Sisters Of Mercy, whilst performing with MONO at their 10th anniversary show. It’s not because she doesn’t trust her own worth but that Williams only became a singer-songwriter by chance.

                                                      Having taken music lessons from the age of six and been immersed in classical music, Williams’ life was forever changed when she discovered Deftones in her mid-teens, “and after them, all things heavy,” she recalls. “It was music that made me feel included, that tapped into me.”

                                                      Yet it was only years later, when she found a guitar in the street with a note attached, “please take me, just needs work,” that Williams started playing guitar, and only started writing songs as a way of learning how to play. “I wrote in different styles to find a sound I was comfortable with,” she says. “Likewise, with singing. I’d never before thought of singing with a microphone in front of other people. It’s been quite a journey.”

                                                      That journey was thrown off course by the Coronavirus lockdown, but Williams’ response has been the ‘Songs From Isolation’ video project, solo renditions of songs suggested by her fans. At the time of writing, she has performed Radiohead’s ‘Creep’ (“to take on a song like that, you either have to be brave or dumb, and I thought, let’s be brave!”), Gordon Lightfoot’s ‘If You Could Read My Mind’ and Nick Cave’s ‘Into Your Arms’.

                                                      As ‘Songs From Isolation’ keeps posting intimate messages from a place of solitude, Forever Blue will spread the news of A.A. Williams’ extraordinary talent far and wide - and once lockdown is over, she and her band will be taking the next steps on her journey by touring the record. She’s already come so far but this story is only just beginning. 


                                                      TRACK LISTING

                                                      1. All I Asked For (Was To End It All)
                                                      2. Melt
                                                      3. Dirt
                                                      4. Fearless
                                                      5. Glimmer
                                                      6. Love And Pain
                                                      7. Wait
                                                      8. I’m Fine

                                                      Drab City

                                                      Good Songs For Bad People

                                                        A heady air of dislocation envelops Drab City’s debut album, where songs of innocence and experience merge with dub, hip-hop, dream-pop and jazzy soundtrack vibes to intoxicating effect. Drab City are fixated on social alienation, violent revenge, and (perhaps) romantic love as salvation; topics not new in music, but listening to Drab City in 2020, one is struck by how uncommon they’ve become.

                                                        Lyrically, these songs often project punkish angst and resentment. “Working For the Men” is a degraded service worker’s revenge ballad, imagining male tormenters brought to a violent end. “Hand On My Pocket” tells of a destitute, wandering youth. One night she meets a stranger on a desert road, and is told of a nearby city where a soft, rich citizenry make easy targets. Class war is palpable. Other songs are more opaque, but seem to speak of being the black sheep of the family, or being weighed down by the dullness of hometown life. Yet the casual listener might not notice the violence as the music itself is far from abrasive.

                                                        Dreamy and ethereal, a foundation of flute, vibraphone, and jazzy guitar chord melody can switch to drum machines or funk-inflected girl-group pop at a moment’s notice. It’s a flurry of 20th century references, combining and recombining at such a schizophrenic pace, the overall effect is something that could only be conjured in our frenzied present. At once catchy and unfamiliar, the melodic, welcoming soundscapes are a Trojan horse for the band’s antisocial outlook.

                                                        TRACK LISTING

                                                        1 Entering Drab City
                                                        2 Working For The Men
                                                        3 Hand On My Pocket
                                                        4 Another Time
                                                        5 Devil Doll
                                                        6 Troubled Girl
                                                        7 Just Me & You
                                                        8 Problem
                                                        9 Live Free & Die When It's Cool
                                                        10 Standing Where You Left Me

                                                        Psychic Markers

                                                        Psychic Markers

                                                          “Silence is a complex subject and completely affects you depending on context,” the band say of the track, which is accompanied by a self-directed video. “Silence can be deafening in people when they struggle to communicate. Other times silence is awkward. Silence can also be golden, to have built a relationship with someone and just to be with them is enough, finding somebody to share this with is rare and should be appreciated.”

                                                          A near death experience being sucked into an active sandstorm during a US road trip is enough to make you think about life. Being immersed in a swirling vortex of sand, dust, tumbleweed and detritus whilst trying to keep control of a speeding car might have only been a brief flash moment in Steven Dove’s life but it was enough for the Psychic Markers man to question life. “These things impact you,” he says. “I got thinking about human nature, our proneness to mistakes, imperfection and the implications of reactionary decision making.”

                                                          The results of such lyrical reflection, and broad spectrum of thought, can be heard throughout the latest Psychic Markers album, one that Dove describes as, “Imagine a David Cronenberg-style movie in which each morning you awake to find your brain merged inside someone else’s head - you see life from a totally different angle.”

                                                          Approaching things from a different angle was also the objective sonically. “We wanted to make an album that was 100% us,” says Leon Dufficy, who heads up the band with Dove. “With zero dilution from other influences.” This natural, intuition-led, direction is something immediately apparent on the album, one that weaves seamlessly between pulsing groove-locked electronica and psychedelic pop as frequently as it glides from sparkling melody to rich cinematic ambience.

                                                          “Cohesive yet diverse,” is what the band have said of their music and it fits their personalities too, with members coming from as far afield as Australia and Yorkshire. Dufficy and Dove wrote and produced the record together, the sultry yet subtle bass comes from Luke Jarvis, who also did the band’s artwork, whilst the glowing backing vocals of Alannah Ashworth feature alongside the shared percussion duties of Lewis Baker and Jim Wallis.

                                                          The opening track ‘Where Is the Prize?’ is a perfect opener that encapsulates Dove’s introspective yet existential lyricism, as well as the band’s expanded sonic terrain. It’s written from the perspective of an old person who sees friends die off until only they remain. “We strive for old age but what’s even there if you make it?” asks Dove. Musically, it opens with gently lapping waves of electronics that sets the tone for a more electronically-leaning record.

                                                          A total electronic overhaul this is not, however. Instead, their third album sits in a sweet spot between evolutionary and revolutionary step; retaining the core essence and personality of the band but also moving into new territory. It embellishes and emboldens the band’s pre-existing palate, one that still nods to 1970s Germany on the careering ‘Clouds’ (a song that, antithetical to the opener, looks at life from the perspective of a child) and one that still exhibits their seamless knack for immersive melody via the gorgeous Yo La Tengo-like closer ‘Baby It’s Time.’

                                                          Amidst the engulfing soundscapes of ‘Juno Dreams’ is a sample of an old Texan psychic that cannot foresee a future for its subject, whilst the serene-to-nightmare psychedelic noise trip that is ‘Sacred Geometry’ is a direct exploration of the moment Dove was caught in the sandstorm. “The track is that nanosecond you have to make an important decision – the second part of it being the knock-on effect of making the wrong one.”

                                                          Playing with structure and form, and the overlapping role between lyrics and music, is rooted in the album. “I was tired of writing within the constraints of a verse/chorus structure and wanted to be expressive in alternative ways,” says Dove. “It’s like walking the same route to get from a to b - eventually it becomes mundane and for this record I wanted to try walking a different way.”

                                                          Dufficy also found himself going down a rabbit hole of old gear for the album, exploring four tracks, micro cassettes and drum machines. “I wanted to see how it would impact our writing and recording process,” he says. “By taking away the endless options you have in the digital world.” The result is one that adds to the already deeply textural world of the band - an approach that has previously reared its head via doo-wop-esque harmony vocals, thoughtfully layered immersive guitars or enveloping atmospheres - as well as adding a further sense of diving into the unknown.

                                                          The dodgy motors of the four-track led to drums and keys being all over the place on the track ‘Enveloping Cycles’, creating its own woozy, distinct rhythm of gently fizzing beats. That is before the machine gave up completely. “The four-track died right at the end of making the album, so its quirks will only ever exist on this album,” Dufficy says. “I like that, it's kind of romantic to me.”

                                                          Much like being caught in the middle of a sandstorm, or a piece of equipment holding out until the final sputtering moments of musical completion, there’s something unique, engulfing and encompassing about the latest Psychic Markers album. A beautiful bottling of time and place that magically ends up somewhere completely new


                                                          TRACK LISTING

                                                          01. Where Is The Prize?
                                                          02. Silence In The Room
                                                          03. Pulse
                                                          04. Enveloping Cycles
                                                          05. Sacred Geometry
                                                          06. A Mind Full And Smiling
                                                          07. Irrational Idol Thinking
                                                          08. Juno Dreams
                                                          09. Clouds
                                                          10. Baby It's Time

                                                          Tim Burgess

                                                          I Love The New Sky + Album Launch Show Ticket

                                                            ALBUM LAUNCH SHOW - WED 22nd SEPTEMBER AT NIGHT & DAY CAFE.

                                                            NB: NIGHT & DAY CAFE IS AN 18+ ONLY VENUE. ID WILL BE REQUIRED.

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

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

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

                                                            Tim Burgess

                                                            I Love The New Sky

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


                                                              STAFF COMMENTS

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

                                                              TRACK LISTING

                                                              1. Empathy For The Devil
                                                              2. Sweetheart Mercury
                                                              3. Comme D'Habitude
                                                              4. Sweet Old Sorry Me
                                                              5. The Warhol Me
                                                              6. Lucky Creatures
                                                              7. The Mall
                                                              8. Timothy
                                                              9. Only Took A Year
                                                              10. I Got This
                                                              11. Undertow
                                                              12. Laurie

                                                              I Break Horses

                                                              Warnings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


                                                                TRACK LISTING

                                                                1. Turn
                                                                2. Silence
                                                                3. L A R M
                                                                4. I'll Be The Death Of You
                                                                5. D E N L I L L A P å S E A V L Y C K A
                                                                6. The Prophet
                                                                7. Neon Lights
                                                                8. I Live At Night
                                                                9. Baby You Have Travelled For Miles Without Love In Your Eyes
                                                                10. Death Engine
                                                                11. A B S O L U T A M O L L P U N K T E N
                                                                12. Depression Tourist

                                                                BC Camplight

                                                                Shortly After Takeoff

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                                                  STAFF COMMENTS

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

                                                                  TRACK LISTING

                                                                  1 I Only Drink When I'm Drunk
                                                                  2 Ghosthunting
                                                                  3 Back To Work
                                                                  4 Cemetery Lifestyle
                                                                  5 I Want To Be In The Mafia
                                                                  6 Shortly After Takeoff
                                                                  7 Arm Around Your Sadness
                                                                  8 Born To Cruise
                                                                  9 Angelo

                                                                  Ezra Furman

                                                                  Sex Education OST

                                                                    Following the success of last year’s “Twelve Nudes”, Ezra Furman returns with Sex Education OST, songs from season 1 and 2 of the hit Netflix TV show. The 19-track LP will be released via Bella Union and is available to download and on DSPs from Friday, 24th January, with a physical release on CD and vinyl to follow on 10th April.

                                                                    When the makers of the hit Netflix series Sex Education told Ezra Furman, “We want you to be the Simon & Garfunkel to our The Graduate", they clearly recognised a kindred spirit. Who better to articulate all that awkwardness and alienation than Furman?

                                                                    Sex Education is about Otis Milburn, a socially awkward high school student who lives with his sex therapist mother, Jean. In season 1 Otis and his friend Maeve Wiley set-up a sex clinic at school to capitalise on his intuitive talent for sex advice. In season 2, as a late bloomer Otis must master his newly discovered sexual urges in order to progress with his girlfriend Ola whilst also dealing with his now strained relationship with Maeve. Meanwhile, Moordale Secondary is in the throes of a Chlamydia outbreak, highlighting the need for better sex education at the school and new kids come to town who will challenge the status quo.

                                                                    The Sex Education soundtrack gathers the original songs that Furman composed for the first series and the brand new second series, whilst adding tracks featured on the show that can be found on prior Furman albums such as “Perpetual Motion People” and “Transangelic Exodus”. Lining up alongside older cover versions of LCD Soundsystem’s ‘ I Can Change’ and Melanie’s ‘The Good Book’ is a new rendition of ‘Devil Or Angel’, The Clovers’ doo-wop jewel from 1956. It all adds up to a bumper 19-track set of Furman’s trademark enthusiastic emotional catharsis.

                                                                    “Making music for a TV show was a new experience for me,” she says. “As a fan of many a high school comedy, for example The Breakfast Club and 10 Things I Hate About You, I knew how fun the music can be, and also how emotional. I wanted to rise to the challenge.”

                                                                    Furman and her band recorded the new songs in between sessions for a “loud punk record,” namely the exhilarating “Twelve Nudes”, released by Bella Union in 2019. “I decided I’d use the Sex Education project as a place to put my tenderness, my sadness and longing,” she says. “The soft teenage feelings that every adult knows continue long after high school ends.”



                                                                    For the first series, Furman was supplied with an extensive description of the show and the episode scripts. For the second series, she says, “They trusted us completely. They were like, ‘you know what to do’. I try to imagine what’s going to be on screen as a jumping-off point, but they don’t need songs that fit, they need songs of a high quality, that come from a real place. That’s why they wanted me, I guess. Also, I guess they noticed an exuberant vulnerability. I lay all my feelings out there.”

                                                                    Given Furman’s personal experience at high school, having been closeted with regard to gender and sexuality, she wasn’t method-acting for a second. The new songs allowed her to reconnect to that past, but also the present, as teenager and adult. ‘Amateur’, for example. “I’m an amateur in my heart, and the show is about amateurs,” she says. “About bodies not yet fully formed, and hearts not yet hardened to the world.”

                                                                    ‘Every Feeling’ was inspired by a bad bout of depression: “I was so bored of having these feelings year after year, I just wanted to feel them all and get them over with.” ‘Care’ is afflicted by, “the noise of celebrity culture and politics.” Why can’t we just have, as Furman sings, “a world of love and care”? “That’s the dream I hang on to,” she says.

                                                                    Songwriting, Furman concludes, “is a way of keeping tabs on what I care most about, the purest stuff, the matters of the heart that don’t expire. It’s what matters to teenagers, and revisiting the teenage perspective has been oddly centering for me. It’s a reminder of what’s important, and the emotional dramas that persist through life.”

                                                                    TRACK LISTING

                                                                    1. I’m Coming Clean
                                                                    2. Love You So Bad
                                                                    3. Every Feeling
                                                                    4. Dr Jekyl & Mr Hyde
                                                                    5. Care
                                                                    6. Restless Year
                                                                    7. Early Rain
                                                                    8. La Madrugada
                                                                    9. I Can Change
                                                                    10. Amateur
                                                                    11. My Zero
                                                                    12. The Good Book
                                                                    13. Body Was Made
                                                                    14. If Only The Wind
                                                                    15. Can I Sleep In Your Brain
                                                                    16. Devil Or Angel
                                                                    17. At The Bottom Of The Ocean
                                                                    18. Splash Of Light
                                                                    19. The Queen Of Hearts

                                                                    Sonikku

                                                                    Joyful Death

                                                                      “I love songs that make you want to cry and dance at the same time,” says Tony Donson, the London-based musician who records as SONIKKU. That sense of unfettered release and liberation drives his new album, Joyful Death. A fluent, fertile and full-colour hybrid of vibrant Italo-house, liquid synth-pop, righteous disco and French philosophical asides, it’s an album that signals the emergence proper of SONIKKU – a fully formed dancefloor artist. It’s also a farewell of sorts, perhaps, but with an emphatic rebirth at its heart. “This album feels like a transformation in the sense that I’m creating the music I’ve always wanted to make. A fully realised, coherent pop record that showcases my craft as a song-writer and producer.”

                                                                      Total control of his craft is swiftly asserted on ‘Let the Light In’, where the influences of lost-in-music disco and the Pet Shop Boys merge under vocals from immersive, exploratory British singer-songwriter Douglas Dare. The pace accelerates as ‘WKND’ gets into a groove pitched somewhere between Madonna, Daft Punk and Indeep, with LA future-pop singer LIZ primed for dancefloor abandon on vocals. Meanwhile, SONIKKU’s independent intent is firmly asserted on the freestyle-inspired ‘Don’t Wanna Dance with You’, where singer Aisha Zoe coolly brushes off unwanted advances in favour of dancefloor pleasures.

                                                                      LIZ assumes vocal duties again for ‘Sweat’, a song fully equipped to make dancefloor devotees do as its title suggests. Dreamily melodic evidence of SONIKKU’s dynamism (and love of melancholy Swedish electro-pop queen Robyn) beckons on ‘X Hopeless Romantic’, where Little Boots contributes a sweetly loved-up vocal over a sublimely infectious chorus.

                                                                      Pummelling synths signal a dramatic shift of pace on the almost electro-darkwave dash of ‘Remember to Forget Me’, where actor/singer Chester Lockhart presides over a summit meeting between Depeche Mode and New Order. Performance artist Tyler Matthew Oyer takes the vocals for the Italo-disco-inspired title-track, a vividly imagined album manifesto – of sorts – inspired to varying degrees by an 1892 poem, French thinker Gilles Deleuze’s concept of the “body without organs” and a 1997 anime called The End of Evangelion. Finally, that grand piano takes over as Dare returns, presiding over an achingly stripped-back version of ‘Remember to Forget Me’.

                                                                      With help from friends and artists he admires on vocals, Joyful Death is a hugely confident and self-contained leap forward for SONIKKU after his time as a feted DJ. Having moved from Derby to London at the age of 18, Donson worked as an intern (at MTV, Dazed & Confused, SHOWstudio and elsewhere) then turned to DJing (from London to Tokyo, Paris and Berlin) after he was signed to London label Lobster Theremin. Though he continues to DJ regularly at Tottenham’s LGBTQ rave-up Adonis, he has extra ambitions in mind: “I love DJing but I’m more looking forward to developing a live show.”

                                                                      Ren Harvieu

                                                                      Revel In The Drama

                                                                        Harvieu’s defiance against the odds and her willingness to lay herself open to make what she believed was within her is baked into every groove of the record, across every stylistic turn: the giddy pop of ‘Strange Thing’, the gothic swoon of ‘Cruel Disguise’, the smokey seductiveness of ‘Yes Please’ through to the stirring torchsong finale ‘My Body She Is Alive’.

                                                                        Harvieu has come a long way from the 17-year-old who was signed to Island Records and who had no intention of becoming a singer-songwriter. Even when she made her debut album “Through The Night”, her confidence was low. “I did help write a few of the songs on that record, which I’m still very fond of, but I felt more of a mouthpiece for someone else’s talent, which eats away at you especially because I had so much to say lyrically I just hadn’t learnt how to as yet.”

                                                                        Her injury - a broken spine following “a freak accident” between recording and releasing her debut album - undermined Harvieu even further. Likewise, Island parted ways with her six months after it’s release, despite a Top 5 chart entry, making the BBC’s Sound Of 2012, a 5-star live review from The Guardian and TV exposure. What followed was what Harvieu describes as “some very dark years” which she addresses in songs like ‘Spirit Me Away’ and the 50’s ballad-evoking ‘You Don’t Know Me.’ A split with her long term partner, her manager and then her beloved Salford. “In one fell swoop everything was gone. I knew I had to get away, start again, rebuild myself.”

                                                                        It wasn’t until 2015 to be exact, when she met Romeo Stodart, the Magic Numbers frontman and songwriter who had emailed after seeing her perform on Later… With Jools Holland, to ask if she’d consider writing together. “When we started, the energy was immediately different to anyone I’d worked with before, there was this insane instant musical connection” she says. “I loved that Romeo really embraced who I was and encouraged it, I was starting to realise that I didn’t have to be anything other than myself.”

                                                                        The pair spent the next two years co-writing: “I wasn’t in a massive hurry, because at last I was having fun” Harvieu says. ‘We’d stay up all night drinking, dancing and playing music, I felt like I was re-discovering a girl who had been hidden, quietened. I’d tell Romeo, I don’t just want to paint pretty pictures I want to revel in the drama of my life, the good and the bad, before I was afraid to say something in my lyrics, but no longer. I felt free.”

                                                                        The album was co-produced by Romeo Stodart and Dave Izumi Lynch, owner of Echo Zoo studio in Eastbourne where recording took place. “It was a truly magical experience working with Dave & Romeo, they are two absolute nurturing musical wizards.” says Harvieu.

                                                                        Harvieu’s lyrical confidence is evident throughout the album and has you leaning in to absorb line after line. Her voice, soaring and caressing in equal measure, is matched in force by her flirtatious personality. From the album’s opening lyric “Let me put my paws on you, strange thing’through to the feminine bite of ‘Curves And Swerves’ “I’ve got some curves and some swerves, what you gonna do about it?” which crackles with sexual tension and an aching vulnerability.

                                                                        Among Harvieu’s new songs are messages of hope to her younger, anxious self. To the teenage goth Ren in ‘Little Raven’, she says: “I want you to know, that I’m starting to feel, but its gonna take time, but I’m ready to heal”. ‘Tomorrow Girl Today’ is to the Ren “who would make bad decisions… we can all be very self-destructive, but will we make it this time?”

                                                                        So what now, Ren Harvieu? “I’ve created a second chance for myself“ she says. “And I will keep creating second chances for myself, because this is my life and I’m not afraid to revel in it anymore.” Revel In the Drama of Ren Harvieu - finally we all can too.

                                                                        TRACK LISTING

                                                                        1. Strange Thing
                                                                        2. Teenage Mascara
                                                                        3. This Is How You Make Me Feel
                                                                        4. Curves And Swerves
                                                                        5. Cruel Disguise
                                                                        6. Yes Please
                                                                        7. Spirit Me Away
                                                                        8. This Is Our Love
                                                                        9. You Don’t Need Me
                                                                        10. Tomorrow’s Girl Today
                                                                        11. Little Raven
                                                                        12. My Body She Is Alive

                                                                        Jonathan Wilson

                                                                        Dixie Blur

                                                                          Where do you go after making an album that the Guardian hailed as “a rich, ambitious triumph”, American Songwriter called “a strikingly original, complex and inspired work”, MOJO described as “a record you could lose yourself in for months”, and Billboard as a “most magnificent recording, one that is mandatory listening if you are in search of an immersive album rock experience in the 21st century”? It's a question Jonathan Wilson asked himself after his “maximalist” album Rare Birds was released in 2018 to glowing reviews. Not only did it earn him Album of the Year awards in Rolling Stone, France and Blitz in Portugal, it brought him his first national television appearances in the US, on Conan and CBS Saturday Morning.

                                                                          Rare Birds had been the culmination of three solo albums in seven years that the singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer released to widespread acclaim. His first, 2011's Gentle Spirit, a beautiful California dream of an album, is a classic by now and won him the admiration and friendship of Graham Nash, David Crosby, Elvis Costello and Jackson Browne. His follow-up, Fanfare, was also well-received with Uncut calling it “a lavish musical epic, the work of a dedicated and stone cold studioholic.” But now Wilson was looking for something completely new.

                                                                          In 2019 he appeared on the celebratednationally-syndicated live music radio show eTown. “It was sort of bluegrass-based”, Wilson says, “and on this particular show I was playing with Steve Earle. Next thing you know, I'm talking with Steve about recording.” Earle advised Wilson that, if he had a bunch of songs written, he ought to take them to Nashville and make the record blind, since Nashville's crawling with studios and top-notch session players. “And that's how I got into the idea of going to Nashville and tapping into that sound,” says Wilson. “The sound of my home.”

                                                                          Wilson was born in a small town in North Carolina. As a child he was raised on a mix of Beatles, 60’s and 70’s rock, country, and bluegrass.His uncle played in bluegrass legend Bill Monroe's band. His father had a rock band, but he would often jam with local friends who could “moonlight on banjo and mandolin and do gospel harmonies that would knock you out. I would sit there and strum along,” says Wilson, “There’s this astute southern rhythm and musicality in western NC… Then there’s this crazy three finger banjo style that you have to be really good at it because you’re from the place where Earl Scruggs is from. One of my father’s best pals was the music director at the Caroleean gospel church where my grandfather was a preacher and on the side he could pick the shit out of a mandolin. So, I was exposed to something super-authentic that I was soaking up. In hindsight, it doesn’t get more authentic than that.”

                                                                          A musical prodigy himself, Wilson wrote his first song at three. He was also a musical polymath, playing drums, horns, woodwind, piano and guitar. He joined an R&B band at 14; left high school to study jazz with some old masters, and joined a rock band, Muscadine. He also became a noted luthier and a record producer. Among the artists he has produced albums for are Father John Misty, American band Dawes, British folk legend Roy Harper and Conor Oberst. In 2017-18 Rogers Waters asked Wilson to join him on his US+THEM tour on guitar and as musical director. Wilson also sang all the David Gilmour vocal parts. On that two-year tour, Wilson would sometimes find himself thinking about his Southern home. “Stuck out there in a hotel in Latvia, it's a long way from anything that feels like home or family. I felt I was subconsciously being led back to my roots.” In the new song '69 Corvette' he sings, I still think of Carolina sometimes. I miss the family. I miss that feeling. I miss home.

                                                                          Those feelings were still fresh in his mind during that conversation with Steve Earle. Making his next album live in the studio with a Nashville band, instead of building them alone, piece by piece in his L.A studio, seemed like a good way to go back while simultaneously moving forward. An example of that is Wilson's new take on “Korean Tea”, an old song he had done with his ‘90’s band Muscadine. “That is a song about having a shining musical gift to share with the world. My brother says that’s one of the prettiest melodies I’ve written, so I decided to bring it back into the world”. “Heaven Making Love” is a song Wilson wrote for Rare Birds but abandoned; “I tried but I could never really get it, it had that locomotive polka thing sorta so I guess it was waiting for an album like this to join!”

                                                                          With Wilson's longtime friend Pat Sansone of Wilco producing, Wilson and the band recorded in Studio A at the Sound Emporium, the late country maverick Cowboy Jack Clement's studio. The musicians included Nashville’s premier session players including bass player Dennis Crouch, Russ Pahl on pedal steel, multi-instrumentalist Jim Hoke, and world renowned Fiddle master Mark O’Connor. “I was thinking about fiddle as being an integral part of the record, and I needed to find the best. In my mind the best of the best was Mark O'Connor. So I decided to reach out to him. I said, ‘Hey man, I'm doing a session, would you like to come down and play fiddle?’ and he's like, ‘Thank you, but I haven't done a session since 1990.’ So, he didn't say no and he didn't say yes! Over time, he eventually said, ‘Maybe, but my only stipulation is it's got to be with the band, no overdubs. That's what drove me out of the session business.’ That was a big deal to all of us. Mark truly elevates the record and he shines as the most brilliant fiddler on Earth, I thank him for his beautiful melodies on this album.”

                                                                          Working with this Nashville band gave Wilson the same kind of feeling he had as a kid, strumming along with those bluegrass bands. “There's something about this level of musicianship, they've been in so many sessions. It was fun to play some of the more stoner Canyon-ey tunes for this crack session band and watch them write up their special Nashville charts with their numbers, symbols and diamonds… they call it ‘hillbilly arithmetic’ over there…. The album was cut in only six days. “It was so fast it was a blur.” Hence the title, Dixie Blur. “And there really is a magic that occurs when musicians play together in a room and create that one consistent thing in time, something is created by the collective energy that is impossible to recreate otherwise,” says Wilson.

                                                                          “It feels like another side, you know? Sort of like a personal, unplugged, just got off the road feeling. I think it's the most down to earth and emotional both musically and lyrically that I've ever been.”


                                                                          STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                          Barry says: Jonathan Wilson has had a stellar career as a songwriter and musician, following on from his equally stellar career as a producer and session muso, and 'Dixie Blur' just goes to show exactly why he's so in demand. Gorgeous melodies, flawless songwriting and a good dose of classic rock whimsy and downbeat ballad bliss.

                                                                          TRACK LISTING

                                                                          1.  Just For Love
                                                                          2.  69 Corvette
                                                                          3.  New Home
                                                                          4.  So Alive
                                                                          5.  Heaven Making Love
                                                                          6.  O' Girl
                                                                          7.  Pirate
                                                                          8.  Enemies
                                                                          9.  Fun For The Masses
                                                                          10.  Platform
                                                                          11.  Riding The Blinds
                                                                          12.  El Camino Real
                                                                          13.  Golden Apples
                                                                          14.  Korean Tea

                                                                          Wrangler

                                                                          A Situation

                                                                            When Wrangler first formed like Voltron a decade ago, they had a very simple modus operandi. The clue was in their name. Ben ‘Benge’ Edwards (The Maths), Stephen ‘Mal’ Mallinder (Cabaret Voltaire) and Phil ‘Phil’ Winter (Tuung) would get together with a very select kit list of careworn analog synthesizers and vintage digital sequencers. Their task? To wrangle new music from the ancient equipment. These self-imposed restrictions helped produced two classic long players: LA Spark (2014) and White Glue (2016).

                                                                            However the times have changed and so have Wrangler. The coming decade, which looks set to be dubbed the Terrible Twenties, may be the last time that bands actually get to release albums. Ecological collapse, climate crisis, food shortages and the disintegration of the fabric of society will mean that the slow devolution of the music industry isn’t even one of the main things that musicians (or anyone else) should be worrying about. So the trio have thrown everything into their third (but hopefully not their last) album. The result - A Situation out this month on Bella Union - is simultaneously their bleakest and funkiest release to date.

                                                                            This collection of warm, reverberant, amped up tracks, that land somewhere between future music, synth pop, industrial dance, classic techno and rigid electro, captures the ambiguities of the group perfectly. Just as they use the ageing outmoded equipment that other people once chose to throw away in order to make tomorrow’s music, they are the paranoid group who (just about) dare to hope that things still might turn out OK. They cast a doleful eye across the hellscape of 2019 and state, if the end is truly nigh, then it’s never been more important to celebrate the little time we have left. And if a revolution to save ourselves is possible then we’re all in need of a revolutionary party, with a revolutionary soundtrack to match.

                                                                            Even though their first two albums were released on Benge’s own MemeTune label he was unsure that he had the time and energy to release A Situation. The solution was staring them in the face however. In 2018 the members of Wrangler along with revered American musician, John Grant released Mr Dynamite on Bella Union, their debut as Creep Show. Label boss Simon Raymonde heard the tracks and loved them: Wrangler now had a new home.

                                                                            For Mal it almost feels like a family affair: “I was best friends with Robin [Guthrie] and Liz [Fraser] of Cocteau Twins and when Simon joined the group I got to know him really well. I was more from a club music background but I loved what the Cocteaus did.” Phil adds that there’s no real need for them to define the difference between Wrangler and Creep Show, as the chemistry is completely different: “It’s not just John’s vocals but the way he plays synths and programmes rhythms is unique, so that music can’t help but have its own character. It’s the result of a four way democracy instead of a three way democracy.”

                                                                            The album title A Situation is purposefully ambiguous perhaps referring to a job that needs doing or a nettle that needs to be grasped; perhaps referring to an unspecified event that is potentially either an opportunity or a threat. The mood is set by ‘Anthropocene’ which concerns the collapse and fall of human civilisation. As Mal points out: “If a future archaeologist digs down into the rocks they probably won’t find any human fossils, just a very thin layer of plastic and some rust patches. There’s an inevitability because the wheels have already been set in motion but that doesn’t mean we should ignore what’s going on, we should be taking care of things regardless. So this is about reaching out to other people before it’s too late rather than building walls.They’re the first fucking things that are going to fall down in the Anthropocene!”

                                                                            ‘How To Start A Revolution’ contains a different kind of warning. Mal says: “There was originally a little bit of irony in this track but if anything the world has become even scarier in the last two years. If you keep on pushing people there will come a tipping point and it will come back to bite you. There’s no irony left any more.” ‘Machines Designed (To Eat You Up)’ is about the fully-automated AI state surveillance that threatens us all. It looks like the future that Cabaret Voltaire warned us about over four decades ago is now finally here. Mal says: “It’s not my fault! I take no satisfaction at all in this stuff coming true. If it felt dystopian then, it feels more dystopian now. Wrangler are still questioning power but some of the tools of power have changed. I’m now fearful of Google in the same way I was fearful of Thatcher in the 80s.” Phill adds: “In the 70s and 80s if you wanted to have a go you could any weekend of the year but nowadays it’s harder to see who the enemy is and where they are. Come on out and have a go. Where are you hiding?” Benge concludes: “People are aware of the problems with Google, Facebook, 5g, social media, etc. but they’re woven into everything we do, so impossible to deal with.” Addressing the multiple failures of the internet ‘Mess’ originally had the more prosaic title ‘It’s A Fucking Mess’ which just about says it all. ‘White Noise’ is perhaps the bleakest track of all, based round a spoken word piece by Mal, inspired by a reflection on JG Ballard’s notorious and transgressive experimental novel The Atrocity Exhibition.

                                                                            But Wrangler refuse to ignore the possibility of hope. The mirror image of ‘Mess’ comes in the shape of the copper-bottomed Kraftwerkian techno pop banger, ‘Rhizomatic’. In 1980, French philosophers Félix Guattari and Gilles Deleuze came up with the idea of complex connectivity between “nodes” which eerily predicted the way the internet would work. As Mal says: “It’s an uplifting song, simply because the decentralisation of technology is the one aspect of the internet that might save us.” On the track ‘Anarchy Of Sound’ the group call up perhaps their most unlikely influence to date: the ancient Greek mathematician Euclid Of Athens. Benge explains: “We’ve built weird things into this track called Euclid patterns.” Mal, who studied the history of rhythm for his PhD concludes: “They’ve been part of culture for millennia and explain African drumming as much as Elvis Presley.” But perhaps the most positive aspect of the album is hardwired into the DNA of the track ‘Slide’ simply because it stands on a continuum with the most uplifting of jacking Chicago house and the most utopian of New York garage.

                                                                            Both sides of the coin - the dystopian and the utopian - are necessary for Wrangler to work. Phil sums it up the most succinctly when he says: “The heavier things get, the more I just want to jump around and have some fun.”


                                                                            STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                            Barry says: It's almost like Wrangler were my answer to 'Who Would Your Supergroup Dream Team Be?', with some of the greatest musicians from 3 of the most diverse acts around electronic music today. 'A Situation' is yet more evidence of their right to inclusion, a thumping, synthy fever dream.

                                                                            TRACK LISTING

                                                                            1 Anthropocene
                                                                            2 How To Start A Revolution
                                                                            3 Machines Designed (To Eat You Up)
                                                                            4 Mess
                                                                            5 Knowledge Deficit
                                                                            6 Rhizomatic
                                                                            7 Anarchy Of Sound
                                                                            8 Slide
                                                                            9 A Situation
                                                                            10 White Noise

                                                                            Lanterns On The Lake

                                                                            Spook The Herd

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

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

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

                                                                              TRACK LISTING

                                                                              1. When It All Comes True
                                                                              2. Baddies
                                                                              3. Every Atom
                                                                              4. Blue Screen Beams
                                                                              5. Before They Excavate
                                                                              6. Swimming Lessons
                                                                              7. Secrets & Medicine
                                                                              8. This Is Not A Drill
                                                                              9. A Fitting End

                                                                              The Innocence Mission

                                                                              See You Tomorrow

                                                                                Love. Connection. Community. Understanding. Most of us experience these aspects through the prism of family and friends. But not everybody can turn those feelings into song, especially not with the beauty and sensitivity of Pennsylvania trio the innocence mission, fronted by Karen Peris and husband Don. Following their Bella Union album debut Sun On The Square, which won the band some of their best-ever reviews, they have made another exquisite and touching album, See You Tomorrow. A record steeped in awe and wonder, intense longing, sadness and joy; a rich sequence of songs that attempt to describe the essence of what makes us human.

                                                                                Sufjan Stevens, who has covered the innocence mission’s classic ‘Lakes Of Canada’, once called their music “moving and profound. What is so remarkable about Karen Peris' lyrics is the economy of words, concrete nouns which come to life with melodies that dance around the scale like sea creatures.”

                                                                                The band recorded See You Tomorrow in the Peris’ basement (and the dining room where the piano sits). Karen wrote and sang ten of the album’s eleven songs, and plays guitars, piano, pump organ, accordion, electric bass, melodica, mellotron, and an old prototype strings sampler keyboard. Don contributes guitars, drums, vocal harmonies, and one lead vocal on his song ‘Mary Margaret In Mid-Air’. Fellow founder member Mike Bitts adds upright bass to four songs including ‘On Your Side’, the album’s first single.

                                                                                TRACK LISTING

                                                                                1. The Brothers Williams Said
                                                                                2. On Your Side
                                                                                3. Movie
                                                                                4. We Don’t Know How To Say Why
                                                                                5. St. Francis And The Future
                                                                                6. At Lake Maureen
                                                                                7. John As Well
                                                                                8. This Boat
                                                                                9. Mary Margaret In Mid-Air
                                                                                10. Stars That Fall Away From Us
                                                                                11. I Would Be There

                                                                                The Flaming Lips

                                                                                The Soft Bulletin - Live At Red Rocks

                                                                                  On 26th May 2016, The Flaming Lips performed their universally acclaimed 1999 album The Soft Bulletin in its entirety with the Colorado Symphony at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, Colorado. This particular event has been regarded by those in attendance as one of the most awe-inspiring, moving and magical moments of a lifetime. For the Lips and their fans, perhaps the apex of a magnificent interpretation that will remain as rewarding and emotionally-charged as it was that night in 2016. The Flaming Lips performed the 12-track album in its original sequence with new arrangements accompanied by a 69-piece orchestra and 56-strong chorus. The performance was conducted by the internationally celebrated conductor Andre De Ridder.

                                                                                  Now, the resulting live recording is being released to celebrate the 20th anniversary of The Soft Bulletin. The album was the band’s breakthrough moment and featured the hit singles “Race for the Prize” and “Waitin’ for a Superman.”

                                                                                  TRACK LISTING

                                                                                  1. Race For The Prize
                                                                                  2. A Spoonful Weighs A Ton
                                                                                  3. The Spark That Bled
                                                                                  4. The Spiderbite Song
                                                                                  5. Buggin’
                                                                                  6. What Is The Light?
                                                                                  7. The Observer
                                                                                  8. Waitin’ For A Superman
                                                                                  9. Suddenly Everything Has Changed
                                                                                  10. The Gash
                                                                                  11. Feeling Yourself Disintegrate
                                                                                  12. Sleeping On The Roof

                                                                                  Various Artists

                                                                                  Odyssey: The Sound Of Ivor Raymonde Vol II

                                                                                    ‘Odyssey: The Sound Of Ivor Raymonde Vol II’ is Bella Union’s follow-up to the critically acclaimed ‘Paradise: The Sound Of Ivor Raymonde’.

                                                                                    This new compilation is a further celebration of the great British arranger, musical director, producer and songwriter Ivor Raymonde, who died at age 63 in 1990. Bella Union, the label behind both releases, is run by Ivor’s son Simon Raymonde.

                                                                                    Like ‘Paradise’, ‘Odyssey’ has been compiled by Simon with author, journalist and music historian Kieron Tyler. Simon explains that: “The research Kieron and I did for Paradise showed us that there was still an extremely rich seam of his music to be uncovered. A follow-up volume was increasingly inevitable.”

                                                                                    ‘Paradise’ told the story of a British musical great for the first time. Classic Sixties hits like Billy Fury’s ‘Halfway To Paradise’, Dusty Springfield’s ‘I Only Want To Be With You’ (co-written by Ivor) and The Walker Brothers’ ‘Make It Easy On Yourself’ were collected. All were arranged or produced by Ivor and heard alongside just-asfantastic tracks by David Bowie, Sonny Childe, Cindy Cole, Tom Jones, Los Bravos and Helen Shapiro. ‘Odyssey’ is additional confirmation of the seemingly limitless scope of Ivor’s talents. More hits are featured: the Alan Price Set’s irresistible Top Five interpretation of Randy Newman’s ‘Simon Smith And The Amazing Dancing Bear’, Dusty Springfield’s kinetic ‘Little By Little’, Frankie Vaughan’s epic chart topper ‘Tower Of Strength’ and the aural drama of Marty Wilde And His Wildcats’ ‘Endless Sleep’.

                                                                                    There are also lesser-known tracks by best-sellers: Los Bravos’ Raymonde-composed soul stomper ‘Brand New Baby’, Cat Stevens’ moody ‘Blackness Of The Night’ and the extraordinary 1966 Walker Brothers’ album track ‘Where’s The Girl’, which pointed to where the solo Scott Walker would soon be heading.

                                                                                    Although Ivor Raymonde was a back-room figure, he made the Top 30 in early 1963 as the clandestine vocalist with The Chucks – a studio demo had been made with no intention of it ending up in record shops. Then, it was issued and a band name needed. Ivor plumped for The Chucks and ‘Loo-Be-Loo’ began rising up the charts. On Odyssey, it is at last given its context.

                                                                                    Going into the reasons for a follow-up to ‘Paradise’, Simon adds “I knew there was more but even a serial curator, late-night trawler like me, at some point thinks ‘the best stuff must now surely be all discovered.’ But finding tracks like Christopher Colt’s ‘Girl In The Mirror’ is like unearthing a rare Donovan track produced by Ray Davies. Probably my favourite discovery was The Martells’ ‘Time To Say Goodnight’ which Ivor produced when he worked at Decca Records. They only released one seven-inch single which sells for over £200, so it’s quite a rarity and more importantly a banger of a track.”

                                                                                    Instead of Ivor, the cover image of ‘Odyssey’ is of Ivor’s wife Nita.

                                                                                    TRACK LISTING

                                                                                    Dusty Springfield: Little By Little
                                                                                    Alan Price Set Simon: Smith And The Amazing Dancing Bear
                                                                                    Los Bravos: Brand New Baby
                                                                                    The Eyes Of Blue: Don’t Ask Me To Mend Your Broken Heart
                                                                                    The Chants: Wearing A Smile
                                                                                    Susan Maughan: That Other Place
                                                                                    Kathy Kirby: The Way Of Love
                                                                                    Cat Stevens: Blackness Of The Night
                                                                                    Paul Slade: Odyssey
                                                                                    Frankie Vaughan: Tower Of Strength
                                                                                    The Martells: Time To Say Goodnight
                                                                                    The Cryin’ Shames: Please Stay
                                                                                    Roy Orbison: Pretty Paper
                                                                                    The Outlaws: Swingin’ Low
                                                                                    Ronnie Carroll Chain Gang 
                                                                                    Del Shannon: From Me To You
                                                                                    The Chucks: Loo-Be-Loo
                                                                                    Olé Jose & The Golden Leaves: Tequila 68
                                                                                    The Rogues: Memories Of Missy
                                                                                    Marty Wilde And His Wildcats: Endless Sleep
                                                                                    Giles, Giles & Fripp: Thursday Morning
                                                                                    Twinkle: Michael Hannah
                                                                                    Christopher Colt: Girl In The Mirror
                                                                                    The Stylistics: I Feel Lucky Tonight
                                                                                    The Walker Brothers: Where's The Girl

                                                                                    Low Anthem

                                                                                    Oh My God, Charlie Darwin - 10th Anniversary Edition

                                                                                      It’s been a decade since Rhode Island’s The Low Anthem released their breakout second LP 'Oh My God, Charlie Darwin'. The album trawled a sombre and indelible beauty from America’s troubled waters, and struck a deep chord with listeners. The band’s 2008 self-released version of the disc spread like wildfire via word-of-mouth audience response, eventually attracting the attention of Bella Union and Nonesuch Records. Oh My God, Charlie Darwin was licensed, remastered, reissued and traveled the globe, sweeping the DIY minded Low Anthem along with it. From the ragtag house show hopping, MySpace friending, bar gigging circuits to the venerated stages of Glastonbury, Lollapalooza, Newport Folk Festival, and the BBC.

                                                                                      “At first we were pushing the album out into the world, but then at some point we passed a threshold where the album took over, and started pulling us along on its ride,” the group’s co-founder Ben Knox Miller said. “Suddenly we were trying to keep up with it.”

                                                                                      A brief survey of late-2000s American popular culture offers no immediate clue as to why an earnest, and largely acoustic folk-rock album would so dramatically rise up from America’s underground - and perhaps no-one was more surprised by this than the band itself. “We definitely worked hard, and we had a lot of luck, but the response was overwhelming,” Miller observed.


                                                                                      TRACK LISTING

                                                                                      1. Charlie Darwin
                                                                                      2.To Ohio
                                                                                      3. Ticket Taker
                                                                                      4. The Horizon Is A Beltway
                                                                                      5. Home I’ll Never Be
                                                                                      6. Cage The Songbird
                                                                                      7. (Don’t) Tremble
                                                                                      8. Music Box
                                                                                      9. Champion Angel
                                                                                      10. To The Ghosts Who Write History Books
                                                                                      11. OMGCD
                                                                                      12. To Ohio (Reprise)

                                                                                      Dog In The Snow

                                                                                      Vanishing Lands

                                                                                        Bella Union introduce Dog In The Snow, the moniker of Brighton-based artist Helen Ganya Brown. Dog In The Snow’s Bella Union debut is ‘Vanishing Lands’; an imposing, haunting and luminous collection of songs in the darker spaces between dream-pop, art-rock and electronica, lifted by euphoric melodies, ravishing vocals and absorbing lyrics.

                                                                                        ‘Vanishing Lands’ was initially created at Brown’s home in Brighton before co-producer Rob Flynn helped her add shifting, impressionistic swathes of colour, from the ominous chords that open ‘Light’ to the vocal eddies that close ‘Dark’.

                                                                                        Brown wrote 8 of the 10 songs in a 3-week spell after a period of “strange dreams.” She recalls: “Dreams in black and white. I found myself in a dreamland and discovered it was being destroyed. I chose ‘Vanishing Lands’ as an album title because it sounded suitably desolate, and lent the songs a feeling of cohesion.”

                                                                                        TRACK LISTING

                                                                                        Light
                                                                                        Bloom
                                                                                        Dual Terror
                                                                                        Monochrome
                                                                                        This Only City
                                                                                        Icaria
                                                                                        Gold
                                                                                        Roses
                                                                                        Fall Empire
                                                                                        Dark

                                                                                        Soundwalk Collective With Patti Smith

                                                                                        Mummer Love

                                                                                        A sonic cross-continental experience, ‘Mummer Love’ is the second album in the ‘Perfect Vision’ triptych collaboration between Soundwalk Collective and Patti Smith.

                                                                                        For this body of work, Soundwalk Collective journeyed to Africa to explore the intricacies of Arthur Rimbaud’s most obscure period. After leaving France and what he deemed the ‘Western stagnation’, Rimbaud found himself in Harar, Ethiopia - an epicentre of Sufism in Africa. Sufi practise focuses on the renunciation of worldly things, the purification of the soul and the mystical contemplation of God’s nature. A strand within the wider Islam religion, it focuses on spirituality, meditation and chanting sessions.

                                                                                        As with the other albums in the triptych, the Collective searched for hidden, earthy sounds that hold memories and embed existence. For ‘Mummer Love’ they also found themselves recording under the tree where Rimbaud photographed the shrine of Sheik Abadir Umar ar- Rida al Harari, the founder of the holy city Harar. “As the rain fell, I wondered if I was hearing the drops hitting the leaves the same way Rimbaud did 140 years ago,” Stephan Crasneanscki from Soundwalk Collective says. These sounds and Sufi chants are juxtaposed with Patti Smith’s poems, like the title track ‘Mummer Love’. Written to Rimbaud, Smith’s words are rooted in multiple aspects of the self: from the passion of a lover to the care of a mother and everything in between.

                                                                                        Further contributions to the album come from Mulatu Astatke (widely considered the father of Ethio-jazz) and Phillip Glass, who has long felt a connection to Sufi music, coming together and evoking a call and response between piano and vocals of the Sufi masters. It is simultaneously the first time Glass collaborates with Smith and so Harar becomes an extraordinary meeting place for all to celebrate the beauty of Rimbaud’s work.

                                                                                        ‘Mummer Love’ is released around the anniversary of the death of Arthur Rimbaud (10th November 1891).

                                                                                        STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                        Millie says: The collaboration of dreams – Soundwalk Collective and Patti Smith. Compelling instrumentals and sound recordings joined with Patti Smith’s poetic spoken word makes it work so well. Taking inspiration from Ethiopia, using Sufi music takes it to a whole new level.

                                                                                        TRACK LISTING

                                                                                        Aw Abadir
                                                                                        La Maison De Rimbaud
                                                                                        Eternity
                                                                                        Song Of The Highest Tower
                                                                                        Mummer Love
                                                                                        Farewell
                                                                                        Bad Blood
                                                                                        Sensation

                                                                                        Broen return with eyes open to new vistas on their second album, ‘Do You See The Falling Leaves?’. Back in 2017, Norway’s experi-pop quintet brought exuberant reserves of intelligence, positivity and warm-spirited commonality to the world-building bustles of jazz, funk, psychedelia, electronics and hip hop on their international debut, ‘I Love Art’.

                                                                                        ‘Do You See The Falling Leaves?’ extends its predecessor’s vision and expands its brightly generous worldview, opening the door to mindful, invigorating and mind-bogglingly inventive ways of composing, engaging and connecting: with nature, with each other, with their own potential.

                                                                                        As Anja Lauvdal (synths, piano) explains, finding ways to connect is a core theme. Even if EE Cummings’ classic minimalist poem ‘l(a’ was not an influence on the album, its use of a falling leaf to symbolise loneliness clicked with Anja. “I thought that was a nice comment to the title/theme of the record. People can use each other and nature around us to feel connected instead of lonely. The opposite of loneliness is maybe to be connected - as an individual - but also connected to the world. In a way, ‘do you see the falling leaves’ then also means ‘do you see the lonely people’, and that you can open your eyes or reach out a hand.”

                                                                                        TRACK LISTING

                                                                                        Where Is Passion?
                                                                                        Do You See The Falling Leaves?
                                                                                        Dorian Grays
                                                                                        Never Was
                                                                                        Lines
                                                                                        Bring It Closer
                                                                                        Free World
                                                                                        Shut Down
                                                                                        Bubbles
                                                                                        Strings

                                                                                        Kefaya + Elaha Soroor

                                                                                        Songs Of Our Mothers

                                                                                          Afghan singer Elaha Soroor and award-winning music / producer duo Kefaya (Al MacSween and Giuliano Modarelli) join forces for a mighty and mesmerizing new album, "Songs Of Our Mothers"; a fresh, vibrant take on Afghan folk music filtered through myriad forms, from spiritual jazz and dub to Indian classical music and electronica.

                                                                                          The album is a collection of folk songs traditionally performed by Afghan women, drawing on Elaha's own experience of fleeing Afghanistan and the struggle faced by many other female artists. The US and Western-backed regimes that came to dominate Afghanistan in the latter part of the 20th century created a climate of heightened patriarchal oppression and persecution of women.

                                                                                          These songs tell stories of joy, pain and resilience, passed from mother to daughter in times of hardship and oppression, whilst also celebrating femininity, sensuality and the spirit of resistance. As Elaha says, this album is for 'those women around the world whose image has been erased, and whose voice has been forbidden.'

                                                                                          Born in Iran into a family of Afghan-Hazara refugees, Elaha Soroor first rose to fame through the reality TV show Afghan Star. Her rising popularity in a society known for its persecution of female performers combined with her outspoken views on women’s rights led to an environment of serious personal danger and Elaha was eventually forced to flee Afghanistan.

                                                                                          As Elaha says: 'In the eyes of the world, Afghan identity is defined by terrorism, war, the Taliban and uneducated, domesticated women who need help. I have tried to show other associations with Afghanistan such as the beauty of my mother language (Farsi) and the diversity of our music. Although women are currently facing extreme violence in Afghanistan, I see a lot of similar problems encountered in different ways in Western countries and across the world. This is part of a universal struggle.'


                                                                                          STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                          Matt says: So evocative, beguiling and intriging is Soroor's voice is that it had me checking the feasability and safety of flying to Afghanistan! Perfectly matched with a wide variety of instrumentals, this is my surprise hit of the week!

                                                                                          TRACK LISTING

                                                                                          1 Jama Narenji
                                                                                          2 Gole Be Khar
                                                                                          3 Arose Jane Madar
                                                                                          4 Bolbi
                                                                                          5 Gole Sadbarg
                                                                                          6 Charsi
                                                                                          7 Khina Beyarin
                                                                                          8 Do Chasmane (Intro)
                                                                                          9 Do Chasmane Siyah
                                                                                          10 Lalay Lalay

                                                                                          Ezra Furman

                                                                                          Twelve Nudes

                                                                                            “This is our punk record,” says Ezra Furman, introducing his new album Twelve Nudes, yet another incendiary and inspiring classic from the singer/ songwriter/ guitarist/bandleader. “We made it in Oakland, quickly. We drank and smoked. Then we made the loud parts louder. I hurt my voice screaming. This was back in 2018, when things were bad in the world. The songs are naked with nothing to hide.”

                                                                                            Immediate proof is offered by ‘Calm Down’ (aka ‘I Should Not Be Alone’), the album’s insanely catchy opening track and lead single, bound up in a compact two minutes and 22 seconds. “’Calm Down’ is so desperate, and not what I want to say about the world,” says Furman. “I think we curate our reactions to current news because we’re overwhelmed by how bad it is, and I noticed I was suppressing how bad I truly felt. I wanted music that gave me permission to feel how it felt to live in a broken world, which punk rock does.”

                                                                                            Furman’s preceding album, 2018’s Transangelic Exodus, was “an angry and fearful and pent-up reaction to events too,” he recalls. “But it was a carefully written and recorded version; we took a lot of time with edits and overdubs. I knew I wanted I make this album quickly and not spend time thinking how to play the songs. Twelve Nudes is a ‘body’ more than a ‘mind’ record - more animal than intellectual., And by affirming negativity, it gives you energy, to reject stuff. There’s more space for positivity.”

                                                                                            Far from being defeated by a world in turmoil, Furman’s productivity has only increased the worse things have got - and he’s taken up different disciplines to boot. Between Transangelic Exodus and Twelve Nudes, the 33⅓ imprint published his deeply personal, thoughtful and incisive book on Lou Reed’s legendary 1972 album Transformer, before Furman scored the soundtrack to Netflix’s acclaimed comedy Sex Education (it aired in January 2019), which showcased the tender side of his songwriting.

                                                                                            But all his pent-up energy had to be channelled somewhere: hence Twelve Nudes, which Furman and band recorded in October and November 2019 before the album was mixed by the venerated producer John Congleton (Sharon van Etten, St Vincent, John Grant). Furman says the album has two spiritual heroes – the late great punk rock rocker Jay Reatard, and Canadian poet, philosopher and essayist Anne Carson. “She’s one of my top three living writers,” he says. “Anne had these visions, or meditations, to deal with the intense pain in her life, which she calls ‘nudes’, and similarly these songs are meditations on pain and recognising what’s there if you go digging around in your anger and fear and anxiety. So, my album is called Twelve Nudes.”

                                                                                            The positivity of negativity flows throughout the album, distinguished by sharp, lacerating observations, confessions and proclamations, with Furman the indefatigable cheerleader. “And if you’re really at the end of your rope / No you don’t take the night off/ Too many demons to fight off” he wails in ‘Transition From Nowhere To Nowhere’. The song’s slower pace and becalmed verses underlines Twelve Nudes’ musical remit - less stereotypical punk than raw, raucous rock’n’roll (as Furman points out, The Ramones’ punk classicism included songs influenced by Phil Spector ballads). Check also ‘I Wanna Be Your Girlfriend’ and ‘In America’, shaped respectively by Furman’s love of ‘50s doo-wop and Springsteen, while ‘Trauma’ is molten and leaden like Black Sabbath.

                                                                                            But in ‘Rated R Crusaders’, ‘Thermometer’, My Teeth Hurt’ (surely the first lyrical reference to “dental insurance”) and the 58-second ‘Blown’, punk rock’s flailing energy is alive and kicking. As the pell-mell finale memorably puts it, given our increasingly moribund and morally bankrupt society, ‘What Can You Do But Rock N Roll’?

                                                                                            Furman has long sought out rock’n’roll as a panacea for his ills (from ‘Thermometer’: “I got the fever at a tender young age / I joined society and drank the Kool-Aid”). He now lives in Oakland but he grew up in Evanston, a northern suburb of Chicago: at school, “I’d beat myself up for not being a successful, popular kid. I’d lose my homework, get bad grades: they’d call me a space cadet.” But Green Day’s Dookie album woke him up (“the songs were all about being maladjusted, which I began wearing as a badge of honour”), and Green Day led to The Sex Pistols, “and I was never the same again.”

                                                                                            Fearing for her son’s well-being, his mother bought Furman a book of Dylan songs: “I then thought, I’m going to be a good songwriter.” Lou Reed was another, “devastating” discovery, and from all these influences, Furman’s frayed, emotional brew of garage-rock took shape, backed by bands variously known as the Harpoons, the Boy-Friends and, most recently, the Visions - though for Twelve Nudes, there is no band name. “Right now, I just don’t care,” he declares. “The same as I feel about what gender pronouns people use for me.”

                                                                                            The issue of gender arose after Furman made a splash with his 2013 album Day Of The Dog (the last album he made this quickly, he says). Finally vindicated and verified, he started to publicly dress on the outside what he had been increasing feeling on the inside, with more frankness in his lyrics about sexuality and gender (he calls Twelve Nudes, like Transangelic Exodus, “a spiritually queer record”).

                                                                                            The teen angst he’d experienced, from identity crisis to buried feelings, made Furman the ideal candidate to soundtrack Sex Education, mixing older tracks with new (‘Coming Clean’, ‘Every Feeling’ and a cover of ‘Origin Of Love’ from the musical Hedwig & The Angry Inch. Ezra and band also appeared in one episode, at a school dance).

                                                                                            “This record is political,” says Furman, “but it offers an emotional reaction rather than being specific or partisan.” Furman’s Jewish identity shapes ‘Rated R Crusaders,’ triggered by the Israel/Palestine conflict and its complex web of refugee trauma. ‘Trauma’, meanwhile, seethes with the spiritual malaise brought on by watching wealthy bullies accused of sexual assault rise to power. America, Furman well knows, is balanced on a knife-edge between white male supremacy and the dream of universal opportunity; hence the references to Mexico, slave-owners and US ‘founding father’ Ben Franklin in ‘In America’. As Furman sings, reiterating the spirit of punk rock, and positivity, “Put it all in a two-minute pop song / A really-mean-it-a-lot song for America.”

                                                                                            “One of my goals in making music is to make the world seem bigger, and life seem larger,” he concludes. “I want to be a force that tries to revive the human spirit rather than crush it, to open possibilities rather than close them down. Sometimes a passionate negativity is the best way to do that.”

                                                                                            Or, in the words of the fantastic, rousing ‘Evening Prayer’ (aka ‘Justice’): “If you’ve got the taste for transcendence / Then translate your love into action / And participate in the fight now / For a creed you can truly believe.”


                                                                                            STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                            Barry says: He's proper on one here is Ezra, smashing through this snarling, fuzzed out swathe of punky thrashers like he's never done anything else. Thoroughly unexpected, but accomplished with the sort of expertise we've seen from him in a variety of musical subjects. Another instant classic.

                                                                                            TRACK LISTING

                                                                                            1 Calm Down Aka I Should Not Be Alone
                                                                                            2 Evening Prayer Aka Justice
                                                                                            3 Transition From Nowhere To Nowhere
                                                                                            4 Rated R Crusaders
                                                                                            5 Trauma
                                                                                            6 Thermometer
                                                                                            7 I Wanna Be Your Girlfriend
                                                                                            8 Blown
                                                                                            9 My Teeth Hurt
                                                                                            10 In America
                                                                                            11 What Can You Do But Rock 'n' Roll

                                                                                            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.

                                                                                            TRACK LISTING

                                                                                            Bloom
                                                                                            Footsteps
                                                                                            Turbulence
                                                                                            Criminals
                                                                                            Séance
                                                                                            Nightmares
                                                                                            Peradam
                                                                                            Oracle
                                                                                            Nature
                                                                                            Devotee

                                                                                            The Flaming Lips

                                                                                            King's Mouth

                                                                                              ‘King’s Mouth’ sees the iconoclastic outfit once again tread uncharted territory. These 12 new originals are threaded together by cinematic narration courtesy of The Clash’s Mick Jones. Additionally, the music parallels front man Wayne Coyne’s immersive art installation of the same name. Introduced in 2015, the installation has showcased its psychedelic visuals and soundscapes through North America in museums such as Meow Wolf in Santa Fe, NM, the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, MD, the Pacific Northwest College of Art Portland, OR and Wayne’s own creative space, The Womb, in Oklahoma City, OK. A true handcrafted marvel, it consists of a giant metallic head that welcomes spectators inside. Once inside of the foam mouth, an LED lightshow begins in tandem with music from the album. Now, the record doubles as the sonic companion to the exhibit and allows fans to experience the aural side at any time.

                                                                                              STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                              Barry says: The Flaming Lips are always riding the peripheries of the psychedelic indie wave, and here is no different. Beautifully psychedelic moments mix with weirdo off-piste melodies and woozy saturated pads, before culminating into huge, stadium choruses. It's a heady mixture, and one that continues to make The Flaming Lips one of the most thrilling bands around. Another classic Lips outing.

                                                                                              TRACK LISTING

                                                                                              We Don’t Know How And We Don’t Know Why
                                                                                              The Sparrow
                                                                                              Giant Baby
                                                                                              Mother Universe
                                                                                              How Many Times
                                                                                              Electric Fire
                                                                                              All For The Life Of The
                                                                                              City
                                                                                              Feedaloodum Beetle Dot
                                                                                              Funeral Parade
                                                                                              Dipped In Steel
                                                                                              Mouth Of The King
                                                                                              How Can A Head

                                                                                              Penelope Isles

                                                                                              Until The Tide Creeps In

                                                                                                For every sibling band forged in rivalry, many others mount an unassailable genetic argument for keeping the music in the family. The latter is assuredly the case with Penelope Isles, a brother- sister-centred alt-rock quartet from Brighton (via Isle of Man/Devon) whose debut album, ‘Until The Tide Creeps In’, is released through Bella Union.

                                                                                                Formed around the chemistry between dual songwriters Jack and Lily Wolter, the quartet’s expansive DIY mix of translucent dream-pop, fuzzrock guitars and indie-psych flushes comes lovingly dipped in exquisite harmonies and lustrous melodies: a combination so intuitive, you’d think it was in their blood.

                                                                                                Crisp and woozy, blissful and biting, it’s an album deepened by shared experience: experiences of, in Jack’s words, “leaving home, moving away, dealing with transitions in life and growing up. We are six years apart, so we had a different experience of some of this, but we share a similar inspiration when writing music. Family, leaving home, disconnection and connection all ring bells!".

                                                                                                TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                Chlorine
                                                                                                Round
                                                                                                Not Talking
                                                                                                Underwater Record Store
                                                                                                Three
                                                                                                Gnarbone
                                                                                                Leipzig
                                                                                                Looking For Me Eyes First
                                                                                                Cut Your Hair
                                                                                                Through The Garden

                                                                                                The Soft Cavalry

                                                                                                The Soft Cavalry

                                                                                                  So... The Soft Cavalry. What is it? A happy accident? A lovers’ story? A crisis of faith? In reality, it’s all of these.

                                                                                                  For Steve Clarke, The Soft Cavalry’s self-titled debut album is equally a labour of love, and the first record he’s masterminded from start to finish, with invaluable contributions from his wife, Slowdive’s Rachel Goswell, on co-vocals and spiritual/practical guidance, and Steve’s brother Michael, who produced the record.

                                                                                                  The band’s music is a particularly British brand of intense cinematic drama. Melodic and timeless, the album lands in the atmospheric dimensions between Pink Floyd, Talk Talk and Mansun. A record radiating midlife crisis but equally enormous elation; a helix of fear and hope, aching for resolution. A record Steve emphasises that he “needed” to make.

                                                                                                  The Soft Cavalry is also that rarity: a musical project that began life on an industrial site in Reading.

                                                                                                  Additionally, the album is a way of rewriting a man’s narrative, and proof that relative late bloomers (Steve was in his late thirties when he made the album) can make the record of their dreams.

                                                                                                  In 2014, Steve was stuck. Divorced since 2011, the intervening three years had been, “a haze,” he admits. Since the late nineties he’d played bass and sung backing vocals in bands (both studio and live) and sessions, while also working as a tour-manager. His new assignees were reformed Home Counties faves Slowdive.

                                                                                                  “I was hungover in the back of my van trying to work out how I was going to fit all the band’s gear into this confined space whilst I still had all of mine from the show that I’d played in London the night before,” he recalls. “The second of two sold-out shows at Hammersmith Apollo with David Brent!”

                                                                                                  On that industrial site in Reading, Steve was introduced to Rachel. A year later, they were living together in Devon, before marrying in 2018. Rachel not only, “turned my world upside-down,” but unwittingly provided, “the catalyst,” for The Soft Cavalry. “I’d always had ideas but never felt that anything I had to say was worthy of anyone’s attention, let alone my own,” he says. “I wish that I could have done this fifteen years ago but, in reality, I simply couldn’t have. But I’m not one to overly wallow. I’d rather plough the various levels of confusion into songs.”

                                                                                                  The Soft Cavalry is equally an exercise in creative and personal therapy. The first songs Steve wrote for the album were less about confusion than Rachel-inspired paeans to fate, love, new beginnings: ‘Passerby’ (“Waters break and we are born restlessly into the arms of this unknown”), with Rachel’s gorgeous lead vocal underlining the arrangement’s Slowdive-adjacent ethereality, and ‘Spiders’ (“strand of woven thread / Could be the start of something beautiful?”), a starker, shivery ballad with a feeling of suspended animation. But as Steve opened up, the past began to seep in; years of frustration, anxiety and confusion.

                                                                                                  “I was wide eyed and unrealistic,” he remembers. “Never expecting my many flaws and doubts would ever catch up with me. Inevitably they did.” He cites his upbringing, in the Midlands with church-going parents. His father’s law work encompassed, “handling the aftermath of death and marriage breakdowns. When I was nine, we moved to Amsterdam where they ran a rehab centre - as you do! We lived on the top floor of an old Dutch building with recovering heroin addicts living below us. From a young age, I saw what life was like for others.”

                                                                                                  When Steve next wrote about Rachel, the title ‘Never Be Without You’ - the album’s one clear moment of AOR pop levity – sounded lovey-dovey but the song evoked, “the bumpy start to our relationship. While other relationships were falling apart.”

                                                                                                  Rachel: “Steve was like a tornado when we first met. And I already had a son. Things were complicated.”

                                                                                                  The Soft Cavalry is something of a life’s work – a chance for redemption, a heart-to-heart with the self. ‘Bulletproof’ addresses, “struggle and fear, and making sense of it in your head.” ‘Only In Dreams’ admits, “accepting you’re not the finished article that you’d like to be.” Two brooding epics were fired by his Christian upbringing: ‘The Velvet Fog’ - “my doubts with faith, but not being able to shake off my past, even today” - and ‘The Ever-Turning Wheel’: “always trying to thumb my way back to something I had when I was younger, something simpler.”

                                                                                                  If the album has a theme, reckons Steve, “it’s recovery versus new doubt. I’m there, in the middle. The word that kept coming back to me was ‘resilience’. With the right mentality and people around you, especially family, we get through, and find a level of hope.”

                                                                                                  Even what Steve calls the “post-apocalyptic” scenario of ‘Careless Sun’ (“all we can do is wait for the banks to burst and baptise our abandoned fear”) finds room for optimism. “It’s like, how the hell is this all going to pan out?” he says, meaning our current political and social malaise. “But you have to muddle your way through, and find peace at another level.”

                                                                                                  The Soft Cavalry became something of a conversation, even couple’s therapy. Steve, says Rachel, “is always writing, his head always full of lyrics.” Rachel, says Steve, “reins me in when I get obsessed. She’s a good editor. She says my songs can still work without sections of words, that leaving spaces is OK.”

                                                                                                  As Steve assembled songs, his invited friends - keyboardist Jesse Chandler (Mercury Rev, formerly Midlake), guitarist Tom Livermore, drummer Stuart Wilkinson and multi-instrumentalist/album producer Michael helped mould the record’s breathtaking sonics. Says Steve, “I’d grown up with guitar bands and I didn’t want it to be overly guitar-y. We evolved things by trying out ideas. We’d build things up, and then strip them back, and build them again.”

                                                                                                  As the album progressed, Rachel formed Minor Victories in 2016 while Slowdive had a gap in the schedule, alongside similarly holidaying members of Mogwai and Editors, for a self-titled album that she and Steve contributed vocal melodies and lyrics to: “it got the cogs turning on a writing and lyrical level, and gave me a certain amount of self-belief,” he says.

                                                                                                  After he and Rachel finished their album, Steve found a name for it, out of thin air: The Soft Cavalry. “I can’t explain its literal meaning,” he says. “It just made sense.” Might Rachel be the cavalry? "Maybe! It would be subconscious, but that makes sense too, strangely.”

                                                                                                  STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                                  Barry says: While the interplay between Steve Clarke and Rachel Goswell's vocals are indeed a stunning addition to the overall vibe, it is the songwriting and progressive culmination that really shine through. Think the space-rock atmospheres and chord changes of Porcupine Tree / Steven Wilson mixed with the hazy saturated aesthetic of shoegaze. Properly lovely.

                                                                                                  Daughter Of Swords

                                                                                                  Dawnbreaker

                                                                                                    In 2017, Alexandra Sauser-Monnig began recording a set of songs about a breakup that had yet to happen. Her partnership had drifted into a comfortable state of indecision, stalling when it came time to make big life moves or chase new horizons. She had the sense that she needed to slip the relationship in order to pursue everything else life might have in store—more music, more adventures, a general sense of the unknown. Those feelings drifted steadily into a set of songs that lamented the inevitable loss but, more important, outlined the promise of the future. Recording the ten tracks that became her stunning solo debut, Dawnbreaker, under the new name Daughter of Swords gave Sauser-Monnig permission to go.

                                                                                                    Dawnbreaker began as the first phase of Sauser-Monnig’s return to music after stepping to the sidelines for the better part of a decade. Her college trio, Mountain Man, rose to quick acclaim for their peerless harmonies around 2010, but the friends slowly drifted apart, following their own interests to different coasts and concerns. While working on a flower farm as a farmhand, though, Sauser-Monnig realized that she missed the emotional articulation she found in writing songs and singing them and resolved to start again. She pieced together an album just as Mountain Man—now newly gathered in the fertile Piedmont of North Carolina—began to regroup for its second LP, 2018’s aptly named Magic Ship. Working with Sylvan Esso’s Nick Sanborn, Sauser-Monnig shaped what began as quiet reflections into confident compositions, crackling with country swagger and a sparkling pop warmth. They were, after all, preemptive odes to the next phase of life.

                                                                                                    Calling the ten tunes of Dawnbreaker breakup songs is to hamstring them with elegiac expectations, to paint them as sad-eyed surrenders to loss and grief. Sure, there is the gentle opener “Fellows,” a hushed number that explores the turmoil of being unable to reciprocate the feelings of a wild and shy, tall and fine man. And there’s the blossoming country shuffle of “Easy Is Hard,” where Sauser-Monnig stands in the yard and sees her lover leave, his taillights fading into the night sky; she can’t sleep, so she gets up to turn the lights and stereo on, to “feel my soul coming down.”  Even there, amid the throes of a life convulsion, there is a wisp of hope and possibility, framed by the way “the dim light change[s] into dawn, rosy blue, pink  fawn.” The very heart of Dawnbreaker is not the impending breakup that inspired many of its songs but the sense of liberation and breaking out that the breakup inspired.

                                                                                                    Buoyed by the insistent patter of a drum machine and rich acoustic guitars,
                                                                                                    Sauser-Monnig finds herself in search of new thrills during “Gem,” whether pondering the fleeting nature of existence at a waterfall’s edge or watching the shapes of mountains seemingly dance beneath her headlights. The muted, harmonica-lined boogie of “Sun” begins with a vulnerable confession, a revelation of loneliness; it is, however, a low-key anthem for the open road, about giving oneself over to the infinity of solitude and an endless strip of asphalt. Sauser-Monnig captures these scenes with a painter’s eye and delivers them with a novelist’s heart.

                                                                                                    There’s no better testament than “Shining Woman,” where Sauser-Monnig portrays a ropy woman navigating her “steel steed” up and down the bends and passes of California’s fabled Highway 1. She openly marvels at that spirit and strength, wishing that for her own life. With Dawnbreaker, she has found it in some measure—the joy of something new, the excitement of risk. Though Sauser-Monnig nearly recorded these songs as barebones folk ballads, she reimagined them with Sanborn and a top-tier crew of North Carolina friends, like fellow Mountain Man singers Amelia Meath and Molly Sarlé, bandleader Phil Cook, and guitarist Ryan Gustafson. These vivid settings highlight the emotional contours of these songs, revealing the complexity that comes with knowing that, in order to live, you sometimes have to let something as strong as love go.

                                                                                                    At the start of “Human,” the undeniable climax of Dawnbreaker, Sauser-Monnig wakes up early and finds her lover in bed. She slips out of the room, watches the sun rise alone, and has herself a long think amid nature’s frozen splendor. What does it mean to leave? What does it mean to stay? Is she wrong, and is he right? As the piano rises and her voice multiplies, coming in now from all sides, she admits something crucial to herself: “You can’t will a love to life/But you can do the loving thing: Make like a bird and fly.” It is a moment of reckoning with one’s own liberation, of realizing that sometimes a profound loss is the only way to gain something else. That is the lesson of Dawnbreaker, an intimate document of what it means to set oneself free.


                                                                                                    STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                                    Barry says: Gorgeous, softly-sung vocals, tenderly plucked guitar and understated percussive drive (is that a CR-78 I hear?), all working together to make Sauser-Monnig's gorgeous artistic vision a reality. Perfect hazy summer songs.

                                                                                                    TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                    1 Fellows
                                                                                                    2 Gem
                                                                                                    3 Fields
                                                                                                    4 Shining Woman
                                                                                                    5 Grasses
                                                                                                    6 Easy
                                                                                                    7 Rising Sun
                                                                                                    8 Long Leaf Pine
                                                                                                    9 Human
                                                                                                    10 Dawnbreaker

                                                                                                    Jambinai

                                                                                                    Onda

                                                                                                      When the three founders of Jambinai decided to, “communicate with the ordinary person who doesn't listen to Korean traditional music,” few outsiders anticipated an extra-ordinary fusion with metal, post-rock and noise. “Most people expect Asian traditional music to make something smooth for yoga or meditation,” says band spokesman Lee Il-woo. “We wanted to break all of that.” Even fewer would have predicted that the likes of Jambinai would play the 2018 Winter Olympic Games closing ceremony in their home city of Seoul, accompanied by a troupe of geomungo (Korean zither) players - an audio-visual spectacle that such an occasion demanded. Now comes ONDA, their spectacular new album on Bella Union.

                                                                                                      Says Lee, “Onda means ‘come’ in Korean. The title track has the lyric, ‘At the end of your darkness, pain will turn into the shining stars and it’s going to come to you.’ I want to cheer people up when they hear that track. Onda also means ‘wave’ in Spanish, and I also want to say the third big wave of Jambinai is coming!” The first big wave arrived in 2010 after traditional music students Lee (guitar and piri, a bamboo oboe), Kim Bo-mi (the bow-stringed haegum) and Sim Eun-young (geomungo) joined forces and released the Jambinai EP. The trio’s debut album Différance won Best Crossover Album at the 2013 Korean Music Awards, triggering several overseas tours and the second wave of Jambinai - an international deal with Bella Union and a second album, A Hermitage. At the time, Lee cited the influence of bands like Metallica, Mogwai and Sigur Rös, but such was the trio’s energy levels, they seemed to draw more on thunderstorms, tidal waves, volcanic eruptions, blizzards and desert winds – a force of nature more than a band.

                                                                                                      It’s hard to believe but ONDA is even more dynamic and rhythmic, with the permanent addition of Jaehyuk Choi (drums) and B.K Yu (bass), fixtures of Jambinai’s live band since 2017. The way the quintet “sticks together like gears of a clock or machine,” says Lee, is celebrated on ‘Square Wave’, a breathtaking example of Jambinai’s ability to alternate between ambient serenity and molten ferocity.  ‘Square Wave’ is also one of several ONDA cuts to feature vocals. “Voice and lyrics have strong energy, they can touch someone's heart directly more than instruments,” Lee explains. “Also, most people don’t know Korean, so they hear our voices as sound rather than meaning. We needed more sounds on this album.”

                                                                                                      Not that the instrumental tracks are any less momentous. Take the opening ‘Sawtooth’ (featuring Hwiseon Choi on yanggeum, a hammered dulcimer), because Lee thinks the band’s constantly shifting dynamic, “resembles the sawtooth waveform of electronic sound.” Other ONDA song titles are similarly revealing. ‘Event Horizon’ was suggested by a Jambinai fan to represent the music’s, “strength and chaos”, though the haunting folk instrumentation is never swept aside by the energy on display. ‘Sun. Tears. Red’ is one way to describe Jambinai’s emotional as well as visceral impact, punctuated here by hollering, anguished voices. Says Lee, “I saw a documentary about Korean independence against Japanese imperialism. I wanted to express the soldiers’ fear when they greet the rising sun, preparing to battle for freedom even though they knew they were going to die that day.”

                                                                                                      13 minutes long, ‘In The Woods’ is the album’s lengthiest epic, originally recorded for Jambiani’s 2010 EP and now rearranged for the expanded quintet, plus guest traditional singer Bora Kim. The inspiration here is environmental pollution, soundtracked by eight minutes of mournful ambience that slowly builds to a shattering climax. “The earth is in serious pain,” Lee concludes. ONDA ends on a thematic note of drama and redemption. In ‘Small Consolation’, says Lee, “a person leads their weary body to a distant glow, which is small consolation. But when they get there, it turns into a big light, big consolation and happiness.” The closing title track comes in two parts: a calm prelude (featuring Lee on saenghwang, a tall reed mouth organ) before the euphoric main course, graced by choral grandeur. Once the music dies away, the feeling is one of blissful exhaustion.

                                                                                                      Says Lee: “After Jambinai’s US tour of 2017, I travelled the country for a month. I was worried about my future and the music because I had quit my job for the band but we didn’t have much money and the tour was tough and tiring for everyone. But when I visited the Grand Canyon, Mother Nature cheered me up and it was felt like she was telling me, “you are doing really well. Back in Korea, I wrote more songs with confidence and happiness.”

                                                                                                      The third wave of Jambinai is here. Come (Onda) join them for the ride of your life…


                                                                                                      STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                                      Barry says: Since their 2016 outing, 'A Hermitage' Jambinai have woven the traditional sounds of South Korea through their music, combining the haunting sounds of the traditional instruments with crushing post-metal dynamics and tender instrumental delicacy. Finely treading the line between simmering, gloomy unease and euphoric spine-tingling highs, Jambinai continue their legacy with yet another killer LP.

                                                                                                      TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                      1 Sawtooth
                                                                                                      2 Square Wave
                                                                                                      3 Event Horizon
                                                                                                      4 Sun. Tears. Red
                                                                                                      5 In The Woods
                                                                                                      6 Small Consolation
                                                                                                      7 ONDA Prelude
                                                                                                      8 ONDA

                                                                                                      Soundwalk Collective Feat. Patti Smith

                                                                                                      The Peyote Dance

                                                                                                        The Peyote Dance’ is the first in a triptych of albums to be released by Bella Union over the next year titled ‘The Perfect Vision’, which take their inspiration from the writings of three emblematic French poets: Antonin Artaud, Arthur Rimbaud and René Daumal and their necessity to travel to different lands to acquire a new vision and perspective on themselves and artworks. Perhaps a perfect vision, it is one that allowed them to transcend forms and borders, both physical and mental. 

                                                                                                        Recorded in the Sierra Tarahumara of Mexico, Abyssinian valley of Ethiopia and Himalayan Summit of India respectively, the central idea is that each landscape holds sleeping memories that are the witness of human passage. Each album retraces the poets’ footsteps, channelled through on-location recorded soundscapes and musicalities, with Patti Smith revisiting the words that have been inspired by the landscapes.

                                                                                                        The triptych marks a new chapter in the collaboration between Soundwalk Collective and Patti Smith, who first worked together on ‘Killer Road’ in 2016.

                                                                                                        ‘The Peyote Dance’ focuses on a brief part of Artaud’s life, when he travelled to Mexico City in early 1936 to deliver a series of lectures at the University of Mexico on topics including Surrealism, Marxism and theatre. In the summer, he travelled by train towards the Chihuahua region and by horse to the Tarahumara mountains with the help of a mestizo guide, which the album’s opening track, recited by Gael Garcia Bernal, evokes. Artaud was drawn to the story of the Rarámuri: Native Indian people who live in the Norogachi region of Mexico’s Copper Canyon, the Sierra Tarahumara. One of Artaud’s goals was to find a peyote shaman who could heal him; allowing him to recover from an opioid addiction.

                                                                                                        During his stay, encountering the Rarámuri Indians and peyote shamans of Tarahumara and engaging in ceremonies, Artaud had a transcendental experience which resulted in the book ‘The Peyote Dance’. For the eponymous album, Soundwalk Collective and Patti Smith revisited writings from the book and other texts written after Artaud’s return to France, where he remained in a mental asylum in Rodez undergoing electric shock therapy. During this dark period, the encounter with the Rarámuri stayed with him as his last significant, happy experience. The final track on the album is a poem written by Patti Smith in homage to Artaud’s last hours in Ivry.

                                                                                                        TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                        1. Una Nota Sobre El Peyote
                                                                                                        2. Indian Culture
                                                                                                        3. Tutuguri: The Rite Of The Black Sun
                                                                                                        4. Tutuguri: The Rite Of Black Night
                                                                                                        5. The New Revelations Of Being
                                                                                                        6. Alienation And Black Magic
                                                                                                        7. Ivry
                                                                                                        8. Basalówala Aminá Ralámuli Paísila

                                                                                                        Doomsquad

                                                                                                        Let Yourself Be Seen

                                                                                                          Even this far into the 21st century, the recent social media furore surrounding US congresswoman and free-style dancer Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez illustrated that the spectacle of someone dancing without compunction can still ruffle the right (and alt-right) feathers. In which case, all hail the third album from Toronto’s ardent, art-dance sibling trio Doomsquad. Let Yourself Be Seen is the most assertive, ambitious, groove-sodden declaration of intent yet from Trevor, Jaclyn and Allie Blumas: the sound of dancefloor believers and thinkers firing on all personal and political fronts, at a time when we need it most.

                                                                                                          Even if Doomsquad never lacked the courage of their convictions, Let Yourself Be Seen ups the stakes. On 2016’s Total Time, the trio issued invitations to free your mind, body and spirit over dirty bass-lines and hypnotic disco jams. And yet, their reliance on unspoken sibling intuition left them fearing that much of its “message and meaning” had gone unheard. Thus, the trio took a more forthright approach for their third album, aiming to “crystallise what Doomsquad is and what it means to us. What we always knew but put at the forefront of this record is that Doomsquad is a project of protest, catharsis and emotional and spiritual reconnection through music and, especially, through dance-music culture. It’s about activating the body on the most fundamental level, into states of change, release and reunion.”

                                                                                                          Richly steeped in the influences of acid house, West African disco, spiritual jazz, NYC no-wave and new-age ambient music, Let Yourself Be Seen hums with a sense of vigorous, invigorating purpose. After the overture of ‘Spandrel’, ‘The General Hum’ sends out a buoyant new-wave rallying cry for maximised engagement just when the world seems intent on stifling it. “Is there a place for spirit anymore?” it asks. Kicking in with a percussive bustle that all but defies you to try and stand still, ‘Aimless’ answers in the affirmative.

                                                                                                          Elsewhere on the album, Doomsquad’s own dynamic thematic engagement alights on subjects ranging from formative influences to modern societal struggles and eco-crises. ‘Let It Go’ grapples with the challenges of social change at 140BPM, climaxing with a scalding guitar solo to match the heat of its questioning thrust. The mellifluous ‘Emma’ reflects on early-20th-century anarchist and activist Emma Goldman; ‘Dorian’s Closet’, meanwhile, honours New York drag queen Dorian Corey. “Let Yourself Be Seen was fuelled by the inspiration of outsider artists and thinkers before us,” say the band. “Through these songs, we get to glorify some of our heroes.”

                                                                                                          Doomsquad's intent to carry their heroes’ “messages of empowerment, release and spiritual self-determination” to new audiences peaks on the title-track, where the album’s disparate parts build to a disco inferno with a call to “Let yourself be seen!” ‘The Last Two Palm Trees in LA’ offers an empathetic take on a similar theme, based on the acceptance of ageing, before ‘Weather Patterns’ steers a reflection on unity in the face of global crisis to a buffeting crescendo with a thrilling urgency.

                                                                                                          The result is an album for fraught political times, charged by the impetus to bring “music back to the body”. Close-to-home influences on that score include Tanya Tagaq and Peaches, both of whom Doomsquad have toured with; further afield, Peter Gabriel, Diamanda Galás, Genesis P-Orridge and Underworld numbered among inspirations. Meanwhile, as the trio’s creative process took them from a lakeside cabin to a studio in Toronto, they benefited from the input of kindred spirits such as Ejji Smith, whose virtuoso guitar-shredding propels ‘Let It Go’. Israeli jazz composer Itamar Erez adds watery synths to ‘Emma’, while a key studio collaborator was producer/artist Sandro Perri, whose credits include Barzin.


                                                                                                          TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                          1 Spandrel
                                                                                                          2 General Hum
                                                                                                          3 Aimless
                                                                                                          4 Let It Go
                                                                                                          5 Emma
                                                                                                          6 Spandrel II
                                                                                                          7 Dorian's Closet
                                                                                                          8 Let Yourself Be Seen
                                                                                                          9 The Last Two Palm Trees In L.A.
                                                                                                          10 Weather Patterns

                                                                                                          Hannah Cohen

                                                                                                          Welcome Home

                                                                                                            Hannah Cohen has arrived home. From the title of Hannah Cohen’s new album to the depth and beauty of the music, the Woodstock, NY-based singer-songwriter’s third album ‘Welcome Home’ displays a new level of confidence and comfort with the many creative tools at her disposal. Cohen’s remarkably evocative voice is surrounded by dreamy, swooning incantations, from the rippling ‘This Is Your Life’ and the slowburning, forthright statement of ‘All I Want,’ to the soul swagger of ‘Get In Line’ and dramatic vocal leaps of ‘Wasting My Time’.

                                                                                                            TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                            This Is Your Life
                                                                                                            All I Wanted
                                                                                                            Dissolving
                                                                                                            Holding On
                                                                                                            What's This All About
                                                                                                            Old Bruiser
                                                                                                            Get In Line
                                                                                                            Wasting My Time
                                                                                                            Return Room
                                                                                                            Build Me Up

                                                                                                            “If you stick to just what you know, your music, your art or whatever your situation is becomes stagnant,” say Denmark’s Lowly. “And we wouldn’t like to miss out on anything, just because we felt too comfortable.”

                                                                                                            A band unafraid to reach beyond their comfort zone, Lowly thrive on the embrace of doubt and curiosity. An inquisitive spirit drives the quintet’s second album, which evolved from an open-ended process in large spaces, from lost factory halls to water towers. Released via Bella Union, ‘Hifalutin’ brims with suggestive discoveries from its title onwards. The result is the work of five people expressing themselves freely as a tight collective: focused, yet fertile with possibility.

                                                                                                            Warmly received in Pitchfork, Uncut and elsewhere, Lowly’s debut album, Heba, was a feast of dramatic dream-pop. Yet ‘Hifalutin’ is more ambitious still. The album was primarily recorded in a 150 square meter warehouse, just outside the city of Aarhus. Band members recorded their parts as individuals and as a group; meanwhile, the producer, Anders Boll, placed microphones in nooks and crannies of the enormous space, all the better to highlight the dynamics between the band members.

                                                                                                            “We dared to be even more curious,” explains guitarist and singer Nanna Schannong, “and started recording without knowing where we would end up. This curiosity released a huge amount of trust and confidence between us: we became much more tolerant of each other's diversity, and dared to give each other space. It also meant that some sketches suddenly became two pieces… or, that eight to nine different pieces suddenly found themselves in one song.”

                                                                                                            A willingness to turn their backs on accepted frames of practise, for both recordings and performances, has characterized Lowly since their formation in 2014 at the music academy in Aarhus, Denmark, where they studied different subjects but forged a unique chemistry out of contrast.

                                                                                                            As synthesizer player Kasper Staub reflects, “We want to give doubt, and curiosity, a voice. It is needed in a world characterized by obsession and goal-orientated living. You don’t need to know the answer in advance to express yourself. If we don’t allow ourselves to forget the goal, we risk missing all that we did not already know.”

                                                                                                            An invitation sent from and to curious minds, ‘Hifalutin’ is luminous modern pop at its most delicate and robust, assertive and open-ended.

                                                                                                            STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                                            Barry says: Lowly skilfully craft a rising cacophony of echoed dream-pop, hazy electronics and smooth synth swells. Carefully layering together elements into a poppy but satisfyingly weird whole. Think of Efterklang in their more introspective moments mixed with the modern nu-dance stacked synth throbs and Bjork's off-piste vocal style and you're at least part of the way there. Really beautiful, immersive stuff.

                                                                                                            TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                            Go For A Walk
                                                                                                            Stephen
                                                                                                            Baglaens
                                                                                                            Staples
                                                                                                            I
                                                                                                            In The Hearts
                                                                                                            Out Beyond
                                                                                                            Children
                                                                                                            Ii
                                                                                                            Delicate Delegates
                                                                                                            Selver
                                                                                                            12:36
                                                                                                            Iii
                                                                                                            Wonder

                                                                                                            Liela Moss

                                                                                                            A Little Bit Of Rain (Covers EP)

                                                                                                              Fresh off the back of her critically-acclaimed album ‘My Name Is Safe In Your Mouth’, Liela Moss presents a beautiful collection of rain-themed cover versions.
                                                                                                              In her own words: “Maybe because I’m a bit neurotic about tidying, sorting and indexing things in my life, I thought that creating sets of cover versions would be a good thing to record this year. I began making lists and categorising things that are related in my mind but nobody else’s! I might do a collection about Weather, Elements, Utensils (watch out for that one)... Stuff that is so everyday that we forget to stop and give it a kiss. I wanted a plaything, for new ways of production. Making these covers has been a learning exercise and a way to pay homage to songs that have haunted my childhood, including the title which waves a little hello to luscious Karen Dalton.”

                                                                                                              TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                              Here Comes The Rain Again (Eurythmics)
                                                                                                              I Can’t Stand The Rain (Ann Peebles)
                                                                                                              It’s Raining Today (Scott Walker)
                                                                                                              Prayers For Rain (The Cure)

                                                                                                              “What came before you is why you’re here now,” declares the man born Eric Brandon Pulido. “So embrace both the past and the present.”

                                                                                                              The current frontman of Texan legends Midlake embraces both past and present times for his glorious debut solo album, To Each His Own, under his new enigmatic alias E.B. The Younger. It’s a deeply personal record, rooted in Pulido’s love of warm, glowing rock, folk and country hues that came of age in the 1970s woven with contemporary recalibrations: guitars ripple, sigh and sizzle alongside gliding keyboards over crisp, choppy and becalmed rhythms. Pulido’s lyrics equally look back and forth, philosophising about his place in the world, the choices he’s made, and where they have taken him.

                                                                                                              Or, as he describes To Each His Own, “an eleven-song journey through the life and times of a wayward Midlaker seeking to find purpose in an uncharted land. Will he find his way? Listen, and ye shall find.”

                                                                                                              Pulido’s “wayward” phase began in 2014 with a break from Midlake, “to invest time in kids and musical projects less physically demanding”, he says. His first project was the transatlantic collective BNQT, a self-described ‘poor man’s Travelling Wilburys’ featuring Pulido, Ben Bridwell (Band of Horses), Fran Healy (Travis), Jason Lytle (Granddaddy) and Alex Kapranos (Franz Ferdinand) who recorded the 2017 album BNQT – Volume 1. But To Each His Own is all Pulido – or rather, E.B. The Younger.

                                                                                                              “It’s an antiquated way of naming a younger member of a family,” he explains. “I’m expressing, simply, that something greater came before me. It’s countering the idea in today’s culture that everything revolves around ourselves, that we’re the most important thing in the world. I feel that humility is a lost virtue – you only have to look at America’s current leader - which I want this record to represent. Honesty, empathy, love.”

                                                                                                              In this case, honesty begins at home. Solo debutantes typically distance themselves from their musical past, but Pulido freely acknowledges Midlake’s presence on To Each His Own, from the three Midlakers in his backing band to an album title that stems from his memories of band discussions.

                                                                                                              Says Pulido: “It’s very common in bands to have artistic differences, and we were no exception. Saying ‘To each his own’ was almost a way to collectively acquiesce and move forward when differences would arise. It’s OK that we feel differently, because both opinions are valid. The phrase is also about me doing something on my own, a statement that it’s OK to define who you are outside of what has defined you before.”

                                                                                                              With Pulido on lead vocals and acoustic guitar, he drafted in Midlakers (and BNQT contributors) Joey McClellan (electric guitar), McKenzie Smith (drums) and Jesse Chandler (flute), who dovetail with Scott Lee (bass), Daniel Creamer (keyboards) and Beau Bedford (keyboards) from local country-funksters The Texas Gentlemen to form an empathic ‘alt.Wrecking Crew’ of session

                                                                                                              players. Bedford is also the album’s principal producer, while studio engineer and Centromatic drummer Matt Pence acted as the overarching producer, alongside Pulido, as well as adding percussion and occasional drums.

                                                                                                              As Pulido explains, “Midlake self-produced and recorded everything, but as with BNQT, I wanted to embrace collaboration. I’d present songs with just voice and acoustic guitar and ask the musicians where they heard things going, and so we built the songs up organically.”

                                                                                                              Within that organic build, Pulido still had specific ideas in mind. He singles out the late, great Harry Nilsson as a key influence. “Midlake songs were often cerebral and minor-key and I wanted some of mine to be more playful and buoyant and major key, which Harry did so well, while still making deep, thoughtful music.”

                                                                                                              Pulido also hears traces of The Eagles, Cat Stevens, Joni Mitchell, Wings and CS&N in To Each His Own, plus an “eighties vibe” to the record’s freewheeling lead single ‘Used To Be’, inspired by The Last Waltz, the film documentary about Pulido’s all-time favourites, The Band. As he recalls, “The guys are sitting backstage playing ‘Old Time Religion’, and Robbie Robertson says, ‘It’s not like it used to be!’, which has always stuck with me. But it’s OK by me that it’s not like it used to be. Embrace where you’re at, and look forward. Be both the old and the young.”

                                                                                                              The Old and The Young is a familiar concept to Midlake fans, as a songtitle from the band’s last album Antiphon. In one sense, ‘The Young’ are also represented here by Conrad Lee Pulido, Eric’s three-year-old son, whose uninhibited dancing to calypso rhythms (from Harry Belafonte and Nilsson tracks) inspires the carefree Tropicália of ‘CLP’. A similarly summery vibe energises ‘On An Island’, inspired by an artist retreat (on the island of Nantucket) where Pulido, “focused on, and finished, several of the songs for the album.” But again Pulido finds a double meaning: “To be an island means you don’t live or march to the beat of anyone else’s drum.”

                                                                                                              Self-determination also defines the sumptuous, soft-rocking “When The Time Comes” where Pulido gently mocks himself as the so-called ‘artist’ who chose to “follow the dream” but without any guarantee of job security or a pension. Moreover, the exquisite ‘Hope Arrives’ recognises that making art typically involves self-doubt, as Midlake experienced. As Pulido recalls, “I felt that fear controlled the obstacles that existed for the band. But when hope arrives, fear will disappear, and peace will come.”

                                                                                                              Midlake also figure in the acoustic, sparse ‘Monterey’, named after the Californian idyll where the band played their last show to date, after which Pulido suggested a break would benefit all: to step off the merry-go-round for a while after riding it together for 15 years. “I said, we’ll pick things back up if and when it makes sense to everyone, trust me,” he recalls. “And I was at peace with our decision.”

                                                                                                              The closing title track emanates a palpable sense of peace while crystalising Pulido’s past-present/old-young mindset: “I’ve been about all alone / I’ve never felt so good before… And what we did before / No I do not ignore”. With a new BNQT album in the works and, if all goes to plan, a Midlake album to follow, Pulido is already looking forward. But his present is E.B The Younger, and his effortlessly melodic, gorgeous songs invested with honesty, empathy and love. Listen, and ye shall find.


                                                                                                              STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                                              Barry says: Half way between poppy Americana and folky Indie, Pulido is more than capable of penning an effective tune, with richly textured acoustic instrumental backdrops forming the perfect base layer for his unmistakeable vocal talents. Warm, rich and beautifully immersive.

                                                                                                              TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                              1. Used To Be
                                                                                                              2. When The Time Comes
                                                                                                              3. CLP
                                                                                                              4. Down And Out
                                                                                                              5. Don't Forget Me
                                                                                                              6. Out Of The Woods
                                                                                                              7. Monterey
                                                                                                              8. Hope Arrives
                                                                                                              9. On An Island
                                                                                                              10. A Matter Of Time
                                                                                                              11. To Each His Own

                                                                                                              Pom Poko

                                                                                                              Birthday

                                                                                                                Pom Poko are Ragnhild (lead vocals), Ola (Drums), Jonas (Bass) and Martin (Guitar). The 4 met whilst all studying at the Trondheim Music Conservatory in Norway and quickly garnered interest from a wider audience as they began playing and writing together. The group cite a range of influences for their unique sound, including “(West)-African music like Oumou Sangaré and Ali Farka Touré; indie bands like Vulfpeck, Palm and KNOWER; noisy high-energy bands such as Hella and Death Grips; and music with interesting lyrics such as Jenny Hval and Nick Drake.” But you’d struggle to pin them down to one or two forebears, given their resistance to anything resembling a prescriptive approach.

                                                                                                                Speaking about the origin of their name, which taken from one of the more vigorously outré films by Japanese animation visionaries Studio Ghibli, the band explain, “The Pom Poko film captures a lot of what we'd like our concerts to be: high energy, fast pace, lots of stimulus for eyes and ears – and most importantly, really crazy and fun. The movie is basically the time of your life for two hours, and afterwards you're in some state of exhausted ecstasy. Plus the raccoons in the movie, and raccoons in general, are really badass.”

                                                                                                                The band’s own bad-ass-ery is writ large on album opener ‘Theme1’, which locates a sweet spot between Deerhoof and Battles as singer Ragnhild issues loud, clear rebel yells over Martin’s math-rock guitar. Singles ‘My Blood’ and ‘Follow The Lights’ layer seductively sweet melodies over squalls of sound, while the funk-fired ‘My Work Is Full of Art’ offers a kind of mission statement: “I’ll just let freaky surround me,” sings Fangel.

                                                                                                                Elsewhere, Pom Poko’s instinctive dynamism teases uplifting thrills from boundary-melting experiments. Glacial shards of guitar bounce off steel-drum flurries on the rapid-fire serotonin fix of ‘Blue’, before the sweetly infatuated ‘Honey’ comes sequenced next to the thrashing tonal lurches of ‘Crazy Energy Night’. The sing-song title-track spikes the ranks of sweetly sad birthday songs with a rebellious sting (“I’m not your bitch!”), while ‘Daytripper’ is a commanding come-on from a band who are no more likely to mince their words than limit their range. ‘If U Want Me 2 Stay' resembles ‘The Tra La La Song’ retooled as a sci-fi cyber-pop anthem of carefree defiance, while ‘Peachy’ closes the album with an exultant melody and one last declaration of transformative independence: “Watch me as I shape shift.”


                                                                                                                TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                                1 Theme #1
                                                                                                                2 My Blood
                                                                                                                3 Follow The Lights
                                                                                                                4 My Work Is Full Of Art
                                                                                                                5 Blue
                                                                                                                6 Honey
                                                                                                                7 Crazy Energy Night
                                                                                                                8 Birthday
                                                                                                                9 Milk Trust
                                                                                                                10 Day Tripper
                                                                                                                11 If U Want Me 2 Stay
                                                                                                                12 Peachy

                                                                                                                Piroshka

                                                                                                                Brickbat

                                                                                                                  “From the crushed and pulverised skulls of our conquered enemies rises the promise of a new dawn,” Miki Berenyi grins. “OK, no, maybe keep it simple. Clean slate, fresh start - it's all about the music."

                                                                                                                  From four individual parts, with distinct musical pasts but also overlapping histories, a new unified chapter begins with Piroshka and the quartet’s thrilling debut album Brickbat.

                                                                                                                  The album is named after the word for a missile, which nails the record’s heavyweight lyrics if not the music’s gorgeous, bittersweet and euphoric pop. Think of Brickbat as a wolf in sheep’s clothing – which suits the name Piroshka, the Hungarian take on the wolf-terrorised fairytale hero Little Red Riding Hood - a subtle nod, too, to a certain red hairdo that stood out in the 1990s Brit-guitar-pop scene….

                                                                                                                  The four band members are former Lush vocalist/guitarist (and former redhead) Miki Berenyi, former Moose guitarist KJ "Moose" McKillop, Modern English bassist Mick Conroy and former Elastica drummer Justin Welch. The connections between them are a veritably tangled family tree. Before they lived together and raised a family, Miki and Moose were notable figures on the so-called shoegaze scene, while Elastica were Britpop peers. After post-punk pioneers Modern English split for a second time, Mick became a latterday member of Moose, while Justin joined the reformed Lush in 2015. And when Lush required a bassist for what proved to be their final show (in Manchester) in November 2016, Mick stepped in.

                                                                                                                  It was the rehearsals for that Manchester show that laid the foundations for Piroshka. “We sounded great!” says Justin. “Like a proper punk band. Mick brings a huge amount of enthusiasm and livens up the room, and I thought, this is the kind of band I want to be in again.” Mick agreed. “I’d seen Lush so many times, it was like playing with old friends. Miki agreed it was good fun too. And with Moose available, we thought, let’s all have a bash, see what happens.”

                                                                                                                  Though Brickbat kicks off with a squeal of feedback, the album is far from a proper punk record, with as much sublime delicacy as physical force, with guitars to the fore but also electronic flourishes in all manner of spaces. Combined, they drive the nuggety melodic bombs long associated with Miki’s songwriting. But it wasn’t a foregone conclusion that she would want to join a new band. In the wake of Lush drummer Chris Acland’s unexpected suicide in 1997, his shocked and grieving bandmates felt unable to continue. Miki, in particular, “had to get completely away from music. The gate just shut for me.”

                                                                                                                  As a parent with a full-time job, it took Miki until 2015 to agree to reunite Lush, with Chris’ good friend Justin on drums. But it wasn’t to be a permanent arrangement. “After the Manchester show, Justin asked if I’d be up for something else,” Miki recalls. “But I’d never made music outside of Lush, and I’ve never wanted to do anything solo. I have trouble with self-belief, I need someone else to motivate me, and in this case, it was Justin. He sent drum tracks with guitar parts and odd words, so I wrote some vocals and lyrics, which became ‘This Must Be Bedlam’ and ‘Never Enough’. When Mick added bass, it sounded great. When Moose added guitar and keyboards – I’d never written like that before, it was such good fun. I’d always written on my own in Lush.”

                                                                                                                  Justin: “The first piece of music I sent Miki sounded like Can, with the odd word, like ‘protest’ and ‘bedlam’. It was a time in the world when everything felt wrong to me.”

                                                                                                                  Mick: “We didn’t want Piroshka to sound anything like any of our old bands. When Miki sings, you can’t get away from Lush, but for me, we sound like four people exploring and having fun, knuckling ideas into shape, trying to make them sound new and different.”

                                                                                                                  In any case, the blunt, forceful lyrics are many miles from Lush, tapping the current fear and loathing at the heart of society and politics, sometimes viewed through the heightened, anxious prism of parenthood, brutally honest at every turn. Take ‘Village Of The Damned’, the words penned by Moose (alongside ‘Hated By The Powers…’ and ‘Everlastingly Yours’). “It’s about school shootings,” he frowns, “and our reaction to almost being unable to take our eyes off twenty-four-hour news and internet feeds. You’re depressed and appalled by what you see.”

                                                                                                                  ‘Heartbeats’ is Miki’s parent-related lyric, “the idea of closeness with your baby, and then as they grow, you have to let them go off into the world.” And what a world awaits them. Both ‘What’s Next’ and ‘This Must Be Bedlam’ were inspired by the mess of Brexit (“the idea of unity versus disunity” says Miki), ‘Never Enough’ rails against greed and inequality and ‘Hated By The Powers That Be’ was inspired by a button badge that Moose found with the slogan Hated By The Daily Mail. “It feels good to be that kind of person,” he declares. “To know we are not alone in being appalled with what’s going on.”

                                                                                                                  Miki: “Given what’s happening, it feels weird at this time to not write about how scary things are, and self-indulgent to have come out with anything else. It’s tricky, though, because any kind of protest lyric can easily be preachy and clichéd, while writing about parenthood can sound smug or mawkish. There’s a lot of complexity in each subject. The context is more personal than just ‘The world is shit and you have to do something about it’.”

                                                                                                                  Bella Union skipper Simon Raymonde had been one of the first to hear the demos; he instantly signed the band, further entangling the Piroshka family tree - his former bandmate Robin Guthrie (of Cocteau Twins) produced Lush’s debut album, while Raymonde’s current bandmate Richie Thomas (in Lost Horizons) was also a former member of Moose. Raymonde subsequently introduced Piroshka to Paul Gregory of Bella Union labelmates Lanterns On The Lake, who mixed Brickbat (except ‘What’s Next’, mixed by Alan Moulder) and to Fiona Brice (another Bella Union alumni), who wrote Brickbat’s strings arrangements, with Terry Edwards (ex-Higsons, current Blockhead), who played on Lush’s debut album, on brass.

                                                                                                                  Together, from feedbacking intro to the beautifully fuggy dream that is the album finale ‘She’s Unreal’, Piroshka and Brickbat are a wonderful and, frankly, unexpected union of proven talent.


                                                                                                                  STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                                                  Barry says: There was no way this wasn't going to be good, with such legendary musicians on board, but it really is a perfectly balanced meeting of minds. The shoegaze hypnosis of Lush shines through, along with the spacey 90's throb of Justin Welch's drums keeping things going. It's a brilliantly dynamic mix, and one that is more than the sum of it's considerable elements. A hugely enjoyable and brilliantly written collection.

                                                                                                                  TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                                  This Must Be Bedlam
                                                                                                                  Village Of The Damned
                                                                                                                  Never Enough
                                                                                                                  Blameless
                                                                                                                  What's Next?
                                                                                                                  Hated By The Powers That Be
                                                                                                                  Run For Your Life
                                                                                                                  Heartbeats
                                                                                                                  Everlastingly Yours
                                                                                                                  She's Unreal

                                                                                                                  Pavo Pavo

                                                                                                                  Mystery Hour

                                                                                                                    Pavo Pavo is the recording project of Oliver Hill and Eliza Bagg. On their acclaimed 2016 debut, Young Narrator in the Breakers, Eliza’s effervescent soprano was compared to “a lovelorn alien reaching out from the farthest reaches of the galaxy” (Pitchfork), and the elegant, symphonic arrangements were described as “weightless pop that sounds like it was beamed down from a glimmering utopian future.” (Stereogum).

                                                                                                                    The album began as a means to process the breakup and became a feedback loop, influencing the alchemy of their separation process and informing their new roles in each other’s lives. Recurring sounds and instruments act out the shifting storylines of these characters across the album: Oliver’s pitch-shifted vocals and high melodic synths are a distorted, imperfect replacement for Eliza’s floating soprano voice, and cascading strings are an intentional soundtrack for romantic melodrama.

                                                                                                                    The tone is set by the album’s title track and lead single, a tightly built pop song driven by orchestra and choir into a celestial fadeout: I realize love is to see every side of you / but mon cheri I'm designed to be unsatisfied.

                                                                                                                    At the heart of the music is the openness with which the duo continues to sing together, revealing their unshakeable friendship. The record is a meditation on relationships from different angles: “Goldenrod” ends the album with a duet about loss, the expressiveness of the two voices garbled to make them sound uncanny, almost inhuman. “Close to Your Ego,” (Hold me close to your ego / and I’ll hold you close to mine) is more oblique, about the difficulty of reconciling intimacy with sense of self.

                                                                                                                    Their journey began at Yale University, where the duo both studied music – they met playing in the same string quartet. Since that time, Eliza and Oliver have become prolific and vital collaborators at the intersection of classical, experimental and pop music. As a soprano, Eliza has worked closely on new music with Meredith Monk, Julianna Barwick, John Zorn, Caroline Shaw, and Ben Frost. Oliver has arranged strings for tracks by the Dirty Projectors, Helado Negro and Wet, and is a member of Kevin Morby and Vagabon’s touring bands.

                                                                                                                    The album draws thematic inspiration from a wide range of media: Ingmar Bergman’s Persona to choreographer Pina Bausch, painter David Hockney, and multi-media artist Alex da Corte. Photographer Natalie O’Moore’s album cover depicts Eliza and Oliver in turbulent conversation at the beach, resembling a film still to mirror the album’s narrative drama.

                                                                                                                    “The beach is an image that keeps coming back to us – the edge of the world, with the possibility of exiting it,” Oliver says. “The idea for this cover is that it builds on the Young Narrator cover, with two figures casting long shadows on the beach. That cover was a collage and this is a photograph, the hi-res, come-to-life version.” 


                                                                                                                    TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                                    1. Mystery Hour
                                                                                                                    2. Mon Cheri
                                                                                                                    3. Easy
                                                                                                                    4. 100 Years
                                                                                                                    5. Check The Weather
                                                                                                                    6. Close To Your Ego
                                                                                                                    7. The Other Half
                                                                                                                    8. Around Part 1
                                                                                                                    9. Around Part 2
                                                                                                                    10. Statue Is A Man Inside
                                                                                                                    11. Goldenrod

                                                                                                                    Go Dark

                                                                                                                    Neon Young

                                                                                                                      Go Dark are out there on the fringes, two lone figures working in the twilight to illuminate the world. 21st Century cyberpunk that touches on the sickness of modern life, Ashley ‘Crash’ Gallegos and Adam ‘Doseone’ Drucker are bound by an incommunicable sense of purpose, the two merging completely on scorched debut album ‘Neon Young’.

                                                                                                                      “Go Dark is music for women of my kind, the striving maniac animal,” says Crash. “bitches that wear skirts and knives who can go into the woods and track things.”

                                                                                                                      Dose adds: “A lot of music is meant to take you to a place you’d rather be, but this is meant to be a score for the way it is.”

                                                                                                                      Go Dark emerge from digital ghettos, torn up synths and blunt, punk-edged Brutalism that conjures John Carpenter-style visions of futuristic dystopia - except it’s happening right here, right now.

                                                                                                                      TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                                      The Blade
                                                                                                                      Day Moon
                                                                                                                      Get Out
                                                                                                                      Violetest Red
                                                                                                                      Big Rot
                                                                                                                      Numb
                                                                                                                      Murderous
                                                                                                                      Beautiful Bitch
                                                                                                                      El Barrio
                                                                                                                      The Brand
                                                                                                                      On Gone

                                                                                                                      “The act of making this record has felt truly exotic for me by way of its minimalism,” says Liela Moss of her debut solo album. Released via Bella Union, ‘My Name Is Safe In Your Mouth’ more than lives up to Moss’s promise of fresh, bold adventure.

                                                                                                                      Sonically spare yet sumptuous in its emotions, elemental power and expansive melodies, the record is a richly felt, vividly-realised trip into the interior from the Duke Spirit singer.

                                                                                                                      A serene-to-stormy series of deep dream-pop meditations on devotion and selfhood, creativity and parenthood, it treats unknown territory not as something to fear but as a seed-bed of possibility.

                                                                                                                      TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                                      Memories And Faces
                                                                                                                      Subequal
                                                                                                                      Into The Flesh
                                                                                                                      Above You, Around You
                                                                                                                      Wild As Fire
                                                                                                                      Manipura
                                                                                                                      New Leaves
                                                                                                                      Salutation
                                                                                                                      Moon
                                                                                                                      Hidden Sea

                                                                                                                      Two Medicine

                                                                                                                      Astropsychosis

                                                                                                                        “I’d always wanted Midlake to experiment more with the arrangements, or to get more into psychedelic textures,” says Paul Alexander, the bassist from Denton’s prog-folk voyagers. Those ambitions are fulfilled on Astropsychosis, Alexander’s debut album as Two Medicine, released via Bella Union in November. Richly ambitious in its sonic colour and conceptual reach, Astropsychosis is an album of luminous space and mindful grace, its depths and details coaxed into orbit with the lightness of an artist in his element.

                                                                                                                        Alexander began facing his future in January 2016, after a year-long break from music following Midlake’s tour for 2013’s Antiphon. “I wanted to find out if I could write songs and if I could sing them – basically, whether or not I could make an album on my own,” he asks. Over 15 months of writing, arranging and recording (in Midlake’s old studio in Denton), he got his answer. From the early reference points of Pet Sounds, dream-pop and pre–Dark Side of the Moon-era Pink Floyd, Astropsychosis blossomed into a very modern exploration of sound and psychedelia, bright on top and burning with purpose below.


                                                                                                                        TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                                        1 SF
                                                                                                                        2 Oblivion
                                                                                                                        3 Will Not
                                                                                                                        4 Voice
                                                                                                                        5 Gold
                                                                                                                        6 An Eye For An I
                                                                                                                        7 Astropsychosis
                                                                                                                        8 Kuopio
                                                                                                                        9 tmrw

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

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

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

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

                                                                                                                        STAFF COMMENTS

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

                                                                                                                        TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                                        1 Metamorphosis
                                                                                                                        2 Love Is Magic
                                                                                                                        3 Tempest
                                                                                                                        4 Preppy Boy
                                                                                                                        5 Smug Cunt
                                                                                                                        6 He's Got His Mother's Hips
                                                                                                                        7 Diet Gum
                                                                                                                        8 Is He Strange
                                                                                                                        9 The Common Snipe
                                                                                                                        10 Touch And Go

                                                                                                                        The eighth album from Marissa Nadler, For My Crimes, is the sound of turmoil giving way to truth. The songs stare down the dark realization that love may not be enough to keep two people together through distance and differing needs. By asking these difficult questions about her relationships, Nadler has found a stronger sense of self and a sharper voice as both a songwriter and a vocalist, culminating in her most evocative entry in an already impressive discography. 

                                                                                                                        Following the release of 2016’s acclaimed Strangers, Nadler’s relationships were put to the test as she left the Boston area on tour. She wrote throughout 2017 about this tension, and ended up with three times as many songs as she needed. But after reviewing the demos with her co-producers Justin Raisen and Lawrence Rothman, Nadler wrote a flurry of tight but no less intense new songs in the week before arriving at Rothman’s Laurel Canyon studio, House of Lux, in early January. She considered it a challenge to herself, applying new strategies and structures to the craft of “slow music” she’s honed over the last 15 years. From that group of songs came nearly all of the singles on For My Crimes, some of the most indelible of Nadler’s career.

                                                                                                                        The opening title track is classic Nadler: a sweeping, vaguely Southern drama of voices, strings, and acoustic guitar, that walks the fine line between character song and personal indictment by metaphor. “For My Crimes” spawned out of a songwriting exercise in which Nadler wrote from the perspective of someone on death row, but the song casts a dark shadow over an album that turns marital conflict into inner reflection. Helping Nadler dig down into the song’s remorseful soul is her old friend Angel Olsen, who serves as a distraught echo from beyond in the chorus.

                                                                                                                        “Blue Vapor” has an intoxicating raw energy luring you in, somewhere between Springsteen and a grunge band playing MTV Unplugged back in the day. It feels at once tight and improvisational, balancing on little more than Nadler’s steady strumming and vulnerable harmonies with Kristin Kontrol (of Dum Dum Girls), until the heavy, purposeful style of Hole drummer Patty Schemel conjures chaos in the second half. This slow burn feeling is all too appropriate for a song centred around repeating patterns and creeping numbness in a relationship. “Blue Vapor” names that strange ambivalence and turns it into a chant that hangs in the air long after the song ends.

                                                                                                                        Dreaminess and eeriness have often been two sides of the same coin in Marissa Nadler songs. Where “For My Crimes” and “Blue Vapor” come from her dark side, the album has plenty of moments that twinkle in their sadness and sentimentality. “I Can’t Listen to Gene Clark Anymore” is one of those highly specific songs you’ll get if you’ve ever lost a favourite band to your own broken heart. It sways perfectly in its bittersweet-ness, like a slow dance you never want to end. After the strings swell and the bass pedals kick in, Nadler coos, “Cause I remember/The songs you sang/To me when it was you/I was falling for.” Later, closing track “Said Goodbye To That Car” turns a final odometer reading into a rhythm for a catchy, wistful hook: “1-1-9-6-5-7, and the engine blew/“1-1-9-6-5-7, and I thought of you,” Nadler lulls, harmonizing with herself. It’s an ingenious way to capture the end of an era in one small moment, and she moves as delicately as you would handling an old photo with her sweet oohs.

                                                                                                                        Bolstering the intimacy of these songs is the strong feminine energy that defined their recording. Between Rothman’s fluidity with both gender and genre (as heard on his 2017 album The Book of Law), and Raisen’s track record of successful collaborations with strong women (Olsen, Kim Gordon, Charli XCX), Nadler felt empowered to explore without judgement in the studio. With the exception of a single saxophonist, every player on the album is a woman of notable pedigree and distinct style, many of whom have played with Nadler over the years. In addition to the cameos by Angel Olsen and Kristin Kontrol, Sharon Van Etten sings backup on “I Can’t Listen to Gene Clark Anymore” and “Lover Release Me.” Mary Lattimore joins on harp for “Are You Really Gonna Move to the South,” while the great experimental multi-instrumentalist Janel Leppin plays strings throughout the record.

                                                                                                                        These women and others helped make For My Crimes as dynamic as it is intimate, but Nadler’s mesmerizing voice—stripped of nearly all reverb—is what sits at the center of these songs. You can hear the emotional range of her performances more than ever before, from the spectral harmonizing of “Are You Really Gonna Move To The South” to the cheeky boredom of “All Out Of Catastrophes,” two other highlights. As a singer, she has never sounded more confident than she does here.

                                                                                                                        Adding to the album’s deeply personal feeling is its abstracted artwork, featuring Nadler’s original oil paintings. Though Nadler is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design and a semi-retired art teacher (she has one student left—a 95-year-old named Doris), For My Crimes marks the first album cover bearing one of her paintings. 

                                                                                                                        STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                                                        Barry says: Nadler has never failed to tickle the feels with her own brand of gothic acousticry, slowly morphing from quiet folk ballads into grand, echoic anthems. Layering Nadler's haunting vocals on top of each-other to great effect and underpinned with a spine-tinglingly haunting instrumental sensibility, this is without a doubt, her greatest work. Beautiful.

                                                                                                                        TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                                        1 For My Crimes
                                                                                                                        2 I Can't Listen To Gene Clark Anymore
                                                                                                                        3 Are You Really Going To Move To The South?
                                                                                                                        4 Lover Release Me
                                                                                                                        5 Blue Vapor
                                                                                                                        6 Interlocking
                                                                                                                        7 All Out Of Catastrophes
                                                                                                                        8 Dream Dream Big In The Sky
                                                                                                                        9 You're Only Harmless When You Sleep
                                                                                                                        10 Flame Thrower
                                                                                                                        11 Said Goodbye To That Car

                                                                                                                        Mountain Man

                                                                                                                        Magic Ship

                                                                                                                          Mountain Man did not intend to disappear for the better part of a decade, or to take eight years to release its second album, Magic Ship. But for a trio of devoted friends for whom music has always seemed so effortless and graceful, that’s simply how life went. The wondrous Magic Ship—a magnetic fourteen-song reflection on the joys, follies, and oddities of existence—was well worth the wait.

                                                                                                                          In 2009, when she was a student at a small liberal arts college in New England, Amelia Meath heard a gorgeous sound coming from the living room of her dormitory. She raced downstairs to find Molly Erin Sarlé singing “Dog Song,” a tender tune about lust, longing, and responsibility. Meath demanded that Sarlé, nearly a stranger, teach her the tune, which she, in turn, taught to a friend, Alexandra Sauser-Monnig. The next time the pair saw Sarlé, they sang “Dog Song” to, and then with, her. And so, Mountain Man was born.

                                                                                                                          The three weren’t quite yet friends when they performed, recorded, and even toured for the first time, but they each felt the chemistry within their combined voices, a sense of artistic kismet and kinship that some spend lifetimes seeking. Acclaim came quickly, with their debut—2010’s Made the Harbor, humbly recorded on rickety equipment in an abandoned factory—earning praise from the New York Times and the Guardian and prompting big tours.

                                                                                                                          But before they could return to the studio, post-collegiate life intervened: Meath moved to Durham, North Carolina and eventually started Sylvan Esso. Sarlé headed for a Zen center along the California coast. Sauser-Monnig returned to Minnesota, then decamped to a farm in the North Carolina mountains. They kept in touch with near-weekly conference calls, growing as friends while taking a break from making music together. When Sarlé was ready to leave California, though, Meath and Sauser-Monnig implored her to return east, saying they would even fly to her and drive with her across the country, so long as she settled in North Carolina.

                                                                                                                          Together as friends, not as a band, the three made an all-American road trip. They camped beneath endless desert skies and partied with true New Orleans abandon. Finally home, they focused first on their relationship, singing together only as an extension of this personal reunion.

                                                                                                                          At last, they tested their again-blossoming friendship onstage in the summer of 2017 at the Eaux Claires music festival. On a tiny, cabin-like stage tucked into a forest, where audiences of a few hundred are considered big, Mountain Man captivated several thousand, with people climbing trees and fighting through stinging nettles to catch a glimpse or whisper. Hanging on every note and between-song quip, the crowd stood transfixed and silent—a festival miracle, there in the woods. And so, Mountain Man was reborn.

                                                                                                                          Months later, the trio reconvened at Meath’s home studio in Durham for two recording sessions, each bringing songs destined to be sung with old friends. The result, Magic Ship, is every bit as captivating as that day onstage: The stunning “Boat,” where cooing harmonies frame Sauser-Monnig like drapes around a sunny window, sees a world of possibility in a little vessel along the riverbanks. The dashing “AGT” finds inspiration in flower blooms and bumble bees, discovering in the sights of nature a pure self-reliance. The magnetic “Rang Tang Ring Toon” celebrates a night spent hosting friends, sharing beans and music, and a skinny dip under the stars. There is sincerity and humour, depth and mirth, all rendered with three voices that have never been more connected.

                                                                                                                          These songs distill eight years of experience between Made the Harbor and now—of sights seen, pleasures had, feelings hurt, forgiveness extended. These tunes are wise and tender, open and honest. Magic Ship conveys absolute warmth—like a snowbound afternoon spent indoors, passing a bottle of brown liquor between friends while putting old favorites on the turntable, or a long summer evening spent lounging beneath a shade tree, swapping stories and sharing laughs until the sun has vanished.

                                                                                                                          At a moment when the way forward for the world seems uncertain to the point of unravelling, when it feels that decades of impetuous decisions are catching up to the society we’ve created, Magic Ship offers a necessary sort of return and reassurance, a promise that goodness and truth remain available in our least-mitigated forms of expression. A weekend morning spent with a lover in bed, an innocent memory of pure childhood delight, a threadbare shirt from your parents: These are the experiences that Magic Ship so candidly shares, the moments of splendour that make the struggles worth it.

                                                                                                                          STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                                                          Barry says: Stunning harmonies form the basis to this newest LP on the ever-reliable Bella Union. Mountain Man mix rhythmic harmonised vocals with lo-fi bluegrass leanings and tender, melancholic sparse instrumentation.

                                                                                                                          “You shouldn't have a tough time finding the angle to Deportation Blues,” claims Brian ‘BC Camplight’ Christinzio. “The past few years have been a fucking nightmare.”

                                                                                                                          But what a fucking great record he’s made off the back of his nightmare. His second album for Bella Union, Deportation Blues is an exhilarating, dynamic document of calamity and stress, relayed through richly melodic and bold arrangements spanning singer-songwriter classicism, gnarly synth-pop, ‘50s rock’n’roll and various junctures between, mirroring their maverick creator’s jarred emotions and fractured mindset.

                                                                                                                          For the full story, you have to head back to before Christinzio’s Bella Union debut, 2015’s How To Die In The North. Born in New Jersey, but living in Philadelphia, Christinzio had released two albums while battling addiction and mental illness. Both albums won rave reviews and earned Christinzio a reputation as one of independent music’s most forward-thinking artists. Soon after, however, as illness rendered him unable to function as a working songwriter, Christinzio retreated to a life squatting in an abandoned church. Despite some notable appearances as a session pianist (Sharon Van Etten) and occasional live work for Philly faves The War On Drugs (Robbie Bennett and David Hartley were in the original BC live band) he knew a sea change was needed in order to regain his career and sanity.

                                                                                                                          Feeling he’d be “dead or in jail if I stayed”, he acted on a friend’s suggestion to cross the ocean to Manchester. There, Christinzio found new inspiration, new friends, a girlfriend, a dog, and finally a new album (his first in eight years).

                                                                                                                          So, imagine his mood when he fell foul of UK immigration. “I’d had such high hopes for How To Die In The North, and I was told I was being deported two days after it came out, and banned from the UK. The next thing I know, I’m playing Pac Man in my parents’ basement, thinking, this is my life now.”

                                                                                                                          Occasional gigs in Europe, where his Manchester-based band could meet him, and extended sojourns in Dublin and Paris, broke up the monotony, but it was still like “living in a constant panic attack.”

                                                                                                                          But then the cavalry arrived! Courtesy of his grandparents, Christinzio secured Italian citizenship. It cost time, money and a portion of his sanity, “but after a year and a half I could finally shove my Italian papers in their faces at the airport and return to sunny Manchester. The thing is, despite being American, I feel Mancunian, and I couldn’t think about making another record, until I got back.”

                                                                                                                          To add insult to injury, “Brexit happened, like a day after I got back. Can I get a fucking break here, please?”

                                                                                                                          Once the dust had settled, Christinzio realised, “I didn’t feel any better, I had so much anger, I felt destroyed. The demons were back and had lost me friends, I’d drunk too much, and I felt nothing but dread and disease. I thought, I can’t wait to hear what this next album is going to sound like.”

                                                                                                                          Recording in Liverpool’s Whitewood studios, Christinzio locked himself in the windowless studio and recorded almost exclusively in the dark. “The thoughts and sounds that began to flow out of me were pretty scary. I’m pretty sure the engineer started carrying a shiv in his pocket after about the second day. Nothing playful sounding came out. If the last album had elements of whimsy, the thought of any on this album made me want to vomit.” “A couple of months later we had finished Deportation Blues and emerged from the studio like mole people”. Christinzio recorded the album mostly on his own, plus drummer Adam Dawson, occasional guitar by Robbie Rush, and a couple of session horn players. The lead track is ‘I’m Desperate’, “an ominous synth burner,” says Christinzio, with a Suicide-style throb and a haunting female vocal counterpoint that underlines the album’s manic, careering edge, fantastic hooks and instrumental verve. It’s an uncompromising way to introduce Deportation Blues, likewise the album’s title-track opener. Bookended by metallic power chords, cascading synths and a gorgeous downbeat mood lead into slower doo-wop complete with howling falsetto. “It’s instantly a different, darker record than How To Die In The North,” Christinzio notes. Deportation Blues is also noticeably more electronic than its predecessor. “I was feeling cold so every time something sounded pretty, I replaced it with something that sounded like an ice pick. The apocalyptic nuclear feel really appealed.” Throughout, Christinzio sounds as if he’s walking a knife-edge. Take second track ‘I’m In A Weird Place Now’, a heady conflagration of Spector and Springsteen, with Christinzio confessing “And there’s something about Manchester town / And the silly little things she makes me do.” “I like the oppressiveness of the weather in Manchester, it brings everyone down to my level” he explains. The fried mood continues on ‘Hell Or Pennsylvania’, splicing woozy noir jazz lounge-drunk cabaret by way of ‘50s legend Jerry Lee Lewis - Christinzio’s entry point to music through his mother’s record collection. “It’s the first time I’ve reflected that on a record,” he says. “Jerry Lee was this guy bashing at a piano who didn’t give a shit, and I didn’t give a shit.” The lyrical reference to “lemon twirls” meanwhile, represents Brian’s struggle with substance abuse: “The big choruses are a celebration of cocaine whilst the jazz sections represent the lament, the familiar loathsome aftermath.” The sudden changes of mood and style are also metaphorical. For example, ‘Am I Dead’ embraces cinematic horns, broody pop and synth-bass afro-funk. “I go through highs and lows and have trouble staying entertained,” he admits. “A musical part can state its purpose in fifteen seconds, sometimes it doesn’t need repeating. The trick is tying everything together without it sounding confusing.” ‘Am I Dead’ is segued between ‘When I Think Of My Dog’ and ‘Midnight Ease’, two plush, heart-aching piano ballads with rippling saxophone. After ‘Fire In England’, a greasy, nervy rocker, is a bitter ode to British PM – and former immigration controller (as Home Secretary) Theresa May (“dresses like a bus seat, doesn’t she?”). It’s a complex, bleak record I guess” Christinzio concludes. “As dramatic as it may sound, this album was made by a dude who wasn’t sure he’d be alive the next day. Nothing is there for any other reason than it’s the truth. It’s not trying to sound cool or get on the radio.” Though Christinzio points out “this is no redemption I-saw-the-light story,” he is allowing himself a little bit of hope for once: “I’ve never been as pleased with where I am artistically as I am right now.” On top, his new band, “is phenomenal.” Alongside trusted drummer Dawson is Luke Barton (guitars, synths), guitarist Tom Rothery and multi-instrumentalist/ backing singer Ali Bell. Leading them is a man that a bartender in Manchester recently described as “like Mozart and Tony Soprano had a kid." Brian Christinzio, and BC Camplight, genius and pain, may be here to stay at last.

                                                                                                                          TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                                          1 Deportation Blues
                                                                                                                          2 I'm In A Weird Place Now
                                                                                                                          3 Hell Or Pennsylvania
                                                                                                                          4 I'm Desperate
                                                                                                                          5 When I Think Of My Dog
                                                                                                                          6 Am I Dead Yet?
                                                                                                                          7 Midnight Ease
                                                                                                                          8 Fire In England
                                                                                                                          9 Until You Kiss Me

                                                                                                                          Hilang Child

                                                                                                                          Years

                                                                                                                            The special thrill of hearing an artist grow into their voice is emphatically served by the debut album from Ed Riman, the half-Welsh, half- Indonesian, London-based singer-songwriter and soundscapist who records as Hilang Child. ‘Years’ radiates a rich sense of self-discovery in its lush, textured layers of sound and feeling. Between its blossoming choruses, multi-tracked harmonies and loose theme of embracing adulthood, it’s an epiphanic debut from an artist not just fulfilling his early promise but reaching far beyond it. Collaborators on ‘Years’ include Kwes, who helped on the mix and added “little touches here and there,” says Riman, “which really made it feel complete.” Sam Delves played guitar and Yazzmin Newell played trumpet; the remainder was largely self-written and self-produced, reflecting a distinct vision at work.

                                                                                                                            STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                                                            Barry says: Atmospheric shoegazing melodies, huge percussion and anthemic chord changes make this debut album one to remember, with the clattering post-rock percussion and soaring instrumentation sitting beautifully beside Riman's euphoric vox.

                                                                                                                            TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                                            I Wrote A Letter Home
                                                                                                                            Growing Things
                                                                                                                            Sleepwalk
                                                                                                                            Boy
                                                                                                                            Starlight, Tender Blue
                                                                                                                            Rot
                                                                                                                            Oh We're Getting Along
                                                                                                                            Endless String
                                                                                                                            Crow
                                                                                                                            Ilissohr

                                                                                                                            Various Artists

                                                                                                                            Paradise: The Sound Of Ivor Raymonde

                                                                                                                              Classic singles like Billy Fury’s ‘Halfway To Paradise’, Dusty Springfield’s ‘I Only Want To Be With You’ and The Walker Brothers’ ‘Make It Easy On Yourself’ would not have been hits without Ivor Raymonde. As their arranger, and in the case of ‘I Only Want To Be With You’ songwriter too, he shaped the final recordings. He decided on the orchestration and backing vocals, chose the instruments and determined what was heard on the radio - and what record buyers bought.

                                                                                                                              ‘Paradise: The Sound Of Ivor Raymonde’ is a long-overdue celebration of Ivor Raymonde, collecting his work as an arranger, musical director, producer, singer and songwriter. The story of a British musical great is told for the first time.

                                                                                                                              Billy Fury, Dusty Springfield and The Walker Brothers are heard. So is the only vocal performance for which Ivor Raymonde received a credit on a record label. He worked with the pre-fame David Bowie and Tom Jones. He spotted the potential of Los Bravos, steering them into the charts with ‘Black Is Black’. Near-misses and obscurities made with Brit-girls Cindy Cole and Helen Shapiro, the soulful Sonny Childe and confrontational protopsychedelic London band The Flies are as fantastic as the hits. With these and more, ‘Paradise: The Sound Of Ivor Raymonde’ distils the essence of the magic of Ivor Raymonde.

                                                                                                                              ‘Paradise: The Sound Of Ivor Raymonde’ is released by Bella Union, the label run by Ivor’s son, former Cocteau Twins member Simon Raymonde. Compiled by Simon and Kieron Tyler, it is a very personal tribute to a sadly missed father. Born in 1926, Ivor Raymonde passed away in 1990.

                                                                                                                              The previously untold story is revealed through a moving reminiscence written by Simon and in-depth liner notes and a track-by-track commentary by Kieron. Ivor Raymonde played on the ocean liner The Queen Mary in 1949. In the Fifties, British television viewers saw him in legendary comedian Tony Hancock’s ‘Hancock’s Half Hour’ but music was always going to be most important - the hits with Billy Fury and Dusty Springfield in 1961 and 1963 meant he was in demand. The 26 selections balance the wellknown with collectable rarities and tracks drawn from - until now - barely heard-of singles. Each is a gem and each shows the magic of an Ivor Raymonde recording.

                                                                                                                              ‘Paradise: The Sound Of Ivor Raymonde’ is issued on CD and 180g heavyweight double vinyl album with digital download code. The vinyl version is sequenced slightly differently for listening flow. Every track was originally issued as a single issued in mono for the pop market until 1968 / 1969. Keeping the integrity of the compilation in mind, all but four tracks appear in mono as they did originally. The masters used are those of the original singles.

                                                                                                                              TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                                              Halfway To Paradise - Bill Fury
                                                                                                                              I Only Want To Be With You - Dusty Springfield
                                                                                                                              He Doesn't Love Me - The Breakaways
                                                                                                                              He Knows How To Love Me - Helen Shapiro
                                                                                                                              Giving Up On Love - Sonny Childe
                                                                                                                              Black Is Black - Los Bravos
                                                                                                                              Love You Till Tuesday - David Bowie
                                                                                                                              Make It Easy On Yourself - The Walker Brothers
                                                                                                                              Mylene - Ivor Raymonde
                                                                                                                              Chahawki - Burr Bailey
                                                                                                                              Little Lonely One - Tom Jones
                                                                                                                              He's Sure The Boy I Love - Cindy Cole
                                                                                                                              Jealous Heart - Ottilie Patterson With The Ivor Raymonde Group
                                                                                                                              Your Hurtin' Kinda Love - Dusty Springfield
                                                                                                                              I Got The Feeling - Dave Berry
                                                                                                                              Now It's My Turn - Jon Gunn
                                                                                                                              I Love Her - Paul & Barry Ryan
                                                                                                                              Grotty - Ivor Raymonde And His Orchestra
                                                                                                                              Beautiful Friendship - Barbara Ruskin
                                                                                                                              Sueperman's Big Sister - Ian Dury & The Blockheads
                                                                                                                              (I'm Not Your) Stepping Stone - The Flies
                                                                                                                              It's The Real Thing - The Ivor Raymonde Orchestra
                                                                                                                              Wait By The Fire - The Majority
                                                                                                                              She Sold Blackpool Rock - The Honeybus
                                                                                                                              I Found Out Too Late - Alan David
                                                                                                                              My Ship Is Coming In - The Walker Brothers

                                                                                                                              The Innocence Mission

                                                                                                                              Sun On The Square

                                                                                                                                For listeners of the innocence mission, the Lancaster, Pennsylvania trio are beyond a favorite band, more like a beloved companion, such is their intensity and fragility of their sound and vision, spearheaded by Karen Peris’ heartbreaking, breathtaking voice. Those fans include Sufjan Stevens and Sam Beam (Iron & Wine), who have both covered innocence mission songs, and in whose company the trio deserve to be bracketed.

                                                                                                                                Now, with “Sun On The Square”, their first album in four years and first UK/European release in over a decade, the trio have joined the Bella Union family, following Karen’s guest appearance on “Ojalá” by Lost Horizons, the band collective co-created by label skipper Simon Raymonde.

                                                                                                                                “There’s less than a handful of artists on my Bella Union dream list,” he explains. “The Innocence Mission are on there but they’ve remained an elusive mystery, and believe me, I’ve tried! I’ve been a fan as long as I can remember. From the second I heard Karen’s voice, I’ve been smitten. Birds Of My Neighborhood is in my Top Three albums of all time. It’s a heartbreaker though. Guarantees tears. But the more the tears fall, the deeper I go!”

                                                                                                                                STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                                                                Barry says: Beautiful tender fingerpicked guitars, brittle ballads and more than a hint of that childlike Newsom vocal peeking through. Sun On The Square is a beautifully realised and enchantingly airy work, an essential for any folk fans.

                                                                                                                                TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                                                1 Records From Your Room
                                                                                                                                2 Green Bus
                                                                                                                                3 Look Out From Your Window
                                                                                                                                4 Shadow Of The Pines
                                                                                                                                5 Buildings In Flower
                                                                                                                                6 Sun On The Square
                                                                                                                                7 Light Of Winter
                                                                                                                                8 Star Of Land And Sea
                                                                                                                                9 An Idea Of Canoeing
                                                                                                                                10 Galvanic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                                                                                                                Much Love,
                                                                                                                                Beach House


                                                                                                                                TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                                                1. Dark Spring
                                                                                                                                2. Pay No Mind
                                                                                                                                3. Lemon Glow
                                                                                                                                4. L'Inconnue
                                                                                                                                5. Drunk In L.A.
                                                                                                                                6. Dive
                                                                                                                                7. Black Car
                                                                                                                                8. Lose Your Smile
                                                                                                                                9. Woo
                                                                                                                                10. Girl Of The Year
                                                                                                                                11. Last Ride

                                                                                                                                The Drowning Craze

                                                                                                                                Singles '81/'82

                                                                                                                                  Both formats include a free cassette whilst stocks last.

                                                                                                                                  The history of post punk is full of curious footnotes and sudden dead ends. Fascinating bands that flared up, intoxicated with the rush of ideas and sense of creative freedom in that fertile period where there were no rules and boundaries to creativity for groups, leaving a vapour trail of a handful of singles and inevitable John Peel sessions before disappearing back into the ether.

                                                                                                                                  The Drowning Craze are typical of those bands. Their legacy is three singles and a John Peel session, a glimmer of possibility and a hint of something quite wonderful and then gone. Fortunately for them their constituent members re-emerged years later in other projects leaving them flagged up on the history train with the band’s bassist Simon Raymonde going on to play in the Cocteau Twins before setting up his own label, Bella Union and original vocalist, Angela Jaeger, joining Pigbag whilst their next singer, Frankie ‘Fun’ Nardiello, joined the esoteric Chicago industrial disco band Thrill Kill Kult.

                                                                                                                                  The Drowning Craze had formed in early eighties London with Simon Raymonde - the son of Ivor Raymonde who wrote hits for Dusty Springfield, such as ‘I Only Want To Be With You’ and ‘Stay Awhile’ and then string arranging for all the Walker Brothers hits. Simon played piano and violin at school but took his own tangent when punk rock arrived and bought his first bass in 1977 aged 15 and learnt the whole of ‘Never Mind The Bollocks’, the Sex Pistols’ first album, in one afternoon.

                                                                                                                                  Inspired by punk rock / post punk and John Peel he was very much a child of those times. Glued to Peel’s lugubrious tones on the radio that were signposting a way out of the crashed car of punk rock and into new musical soundscapes he would also help to carve as a foot soldier with The Drowning Craze.

                                                                                                                                  TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                                                  Storage Case
                                                                                                                                  Damp Bones
                                                                                                                                  Trance
                                                                                                                                  I Love The Fjords
                                                                                                                                  Heat
                                                                                                                                  Replay

                                                                                                                                  Written largely in New York between Summer 2016 and Winter 2017, Josh Tillman’s fourth Father John Misty LP, ‘God’s Favorite Customer’, reflects on the experience of being caught between the vertigo of heartbreak and the manic throes of freedom.

                                                                                                                                  God’s Favorite Customer reveals a bittersweetness and directness in Tillman’s songwriting, without sacrificing any of his wit or taste for the absurd. From “Mr. Tillman,” where he trains his lens on his own misadventure, to the cavernous pain of estrangement in “Please Don’t Die,” Tillman plays with perspective throughout to alternatingly hilarious and devastating effect. “We’re Only People (And There’s Not Much Anyone Can Do About That)” is a meditation on our inner lives and the limitations we experience in our attempts to give and receive love. It stands in solidarity with the title track, which examines the ironic relationship between forgiveness and sin. Together, these are songs that demand to know either real love or what comes after, and as the album progresses, that entreaty leads to discovering the latter’s true stakes.

                                                                                                                                  God's Favorite Customer was produced by Tillman and recorded with Jonathan Rado, Dave Cerminara, and Trevor Spencer. The album features contributions from Haxan Cloak, Natalie Merring of Weyes Blood, longtime collaborator Jonathan Wilson, and members of Misty’s touring band.

                                                                                                                                  STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                                                                  Andy says: Tillman segues into Beck territory a little here, with falsetto harmonies and jagged college-rock melodies, tastefully accentuated with staggered percussion and swooning loungey piano. As ever, FJM smashes out another killer album, conceptually clever and brilliantly accomplished, exactly as you'd expect.

                                                                                                                                  TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                                                  1 Hangout At The Gallows
                                                                                                                                  2 Mr. Tillman
                                                                                                                                  3 Just Dumb Enough To Try
                                                                                                                                  4 Date Night
                                                                                                                                  5 Please Don't Die
                                                                                                                                  6 The Palace
                                                                                                                                  7 Disappointing Diamonds Are The Rarest Of Them All
                                                                                                                                  8 God's Favorite Customer
                                                                                                                                  9 The Songwriter
                                                                                                                                  10 We're Only People (And There's Not Much Anyone Can Do About That)

                                                                                                                                  Ari Roar

                                                                                                                                  Calm Down

                                                                                                                                    Ari Roar - moniker of Texan singer songwriter Caleb Campbell - releases his debut album ‘Calm Down’ via Bella Union

                                                                                                                                    With intuitive powers of clarity and concision to the fore, ‘Calm Down’ is an album that draws on 1960s pop and modern DIY heroes for a set of lovingly languid, lo-fi miniatures. Depths of detail and lived experience bustle beneath effortlessly melodic surfaces - sure signs of a writer in confident command of his pitch.

                                                                                                                                    With a tight run time of 28 minutes and few of its 15 songs breaching the two-minute mark, ‘Calm Down’ is not an album that overstates its case. ‘Called In’ merges the influences of garage pop and Grandaddy in its plaintive plea to “stay alert,” while the brightly summery ‘Windowsill’ and literal shaggy-dog tale ‘Lost And Found’ show an easy lightness of narrative touch and mood control.

                                                                                                                                    Elsewhere, Ari makes weightless work of variously playful, psychedelic material, navigating his songs with expressive ease even when he’s documenting difficulties navigating high school hallways on ‘Don’t Have A Fit’. ‘Off And On’ is luminous, ‘Implode’ sweetly chugging. ‘Sock Drawer’ recounts an inner voyage with a gently psychedelic touch before the playful strut of ‘Choke’ and buoyant release of ‘Lucky One’ offer precision-judged notes of climactic uplift.

                                                                                                                                    For Ari, ‘Calm Down’ is a milestone in a journey that began in Dallas, Texas, where he started songwriting on his family’s “super-old, outof- tune piano” as a child. Early inspirations included Grandaddy’s ‘Under The Western Freeway’ and Radiohead’s ‘OK Computer’; his first concert experience was The Doobie Brothers, with his parents. But it was a gorgeous solo performance by Jason Schwartzman in the teen comedy ‘Slackers’ that inspired Ari to start writing songs with lyrics at 14: “I remember being mesmerized by it… and I went into my room and started trying to write something similar. After that I just never stopped.”

                                                                                                                                    TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                                                    Calm Down
                                                                                                                                    Called In
                                                                                                                                    Windowsill
                                                                                                                                    Lost And Found
                                                                                                                                    Picked The Lock
                                                                                                                                    Hidden Playground
                                                                                                                                    Don't Have It
                                                                                                                                    Off And On
                                                                                                                                    Implode
                                                                                                                                    Feeding Out The Slack
                                                                                                                                    Blow Dry
                                                                                                                                    In My Day
                                                                                                                                    Sock Drawer
                                                                                                                                    Choke
                                                                                                                                    Lucky One

                                                                                                                                    Our Broken Garden

                                                                                                                                    When Your Blackening Shows

                                                                                                                                      Celebrating 10th anniversary with first ever release on vinyl. White vinyl. Download code included. “It’s 10 years since the debut album from Danish dream pop band Our Broken Garden and therefore high time we figured that it had its first vinyl pressing. There’s a darkness and a vulnerability at the core of singer Anna Bronsted’s vocals on this album and in our shop in Brighton we’ve been asked about this record so many times “Is it ever going to get a vinyl release?” and now we can reply “Yes!” - Bella Union.

                                                                                                                                      The Beat Escape

                                                                                                                                      Life Is Short The Answer's Long

                                                                                                                                        Long before they were a band, Montreal duo The Beat Escape took a small first step towards a longer journey at a university video class. “We made a short oddball work; a video piece that followed two characters through a psychedelic waking dream,” say Beat Escapists Addy Weitzman and Patrick A Boivin of their founding collaboration. Many other projects and outside collaborations later, the duo have crafted a debut album their younger selves would be proud of: Released through Bella Union, the sublimely immersive ‘Life Is Short The Answer’s Long’ plays like a waking dream of near-psychedelic electronic pop, moving to its own beat in the push-pull of forward motion and submerged reflection.

                                                                                                                                        That sense of propulsion ushers opener ‘Sign Of Age’ into rising view, its sparse drums, hypnotic sequence and melancholic chords resembling house music as reimagined by Angelo Badalamenti. The enveloping mood holds as ‘Moon In Aquarius’ unfurls like a nighttime road ahead, ghosted by narcotic harmonies. ‘Limestone Alps’ lingers meditatively, hymnal vocals reverberating. ‘Where Water Ends’ and ‘More Dreams’, meanwhile, navigate the porous boundary lines between Krautrock, Factory Records and obscure minimal wave records of the 80s.

                                                                                                                                        STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                                                                        Barry says: Superb throbbing pseudo-synthery from The Beat Escape, Bella Union's answer to Pye corner Audio mix swooning pads and soaring vocal abstractions around a dynamic core of weighted percussion, flickering arpeggios and spine-tingling euphoric leads.

                                                                                                                                        TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                                                        Sign Of Age
                                                                                                                                        Moon In Aquarius
                                                                                                                                        Limestone Alps
                                                                                                                                        Where Water Ends
                                                                                                                                        More Dreams
                                                                                                                                        Then I Drift Away
                                                                                                                                        Seeing Is Forgetting
                                                                                                                                        Thousand Pound Shoes
                                                                                                                                        Nemo Propheta

                                                                                                                                        Baloji

                                                                                                                                        137 Avenue Kaniama

                                                                                                                                          Bella Union warmly introduce us to their latest star signing, Belgian MC, producer and musician Baloji. His music stands at the crossroads of African music, traditional and afro-american music (soul, funk, jazz) discovered through the culture of sampling and electronic music (trance, deep house) which has its roots in part in the region of Belgium where Baloji grew up. Baloji means “man of science” in Swahili, but during the colonial period, that meaning shifted to “man of the occult sciences and sorcery”. By placing his resilience at the centre of his work, Baloji reconciles all these influences to enrich his projects. Baloji is a poet, composer-lyricist, scriptwriter, actor and performer, video artist and stylist, and '137 Avenue Kaniama' is his most complete release to date.

                                                                                                                                          TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                                                          1 Glossine (Zombie)
                                                                                                                                          2 L'hiver Indien - Ghetto Mirador
                                                                                                                                          3 Bipolaire - Les Noir
                                                                                                                                          4 Ensemble (Wesh)
                                                                                                                                          5 Spotlight
                                                                                                                                          6 Soleil De Volt
                                                                                                                                          7 Ciel D'encre
                                                                                                                                          8 Peau De Chagrin - Bleu De Nuit
                                                                                                                                          9 L'art De La Fugue - Le Vide
                                                                                                                                          10 Passat & Bovary
                                                                                                                                          11 La Derrière Pluie - Inconnu à Cette Adresse
                                                                                                                                          12 Kongaulois
                                                                                                                                          13 Tropisme - Start-up
                                                                                                                                          14 Tanganyika

                                                                                                                                          Creep Show (John Grant & Wrangler)

                                                                                                                                          Mr. Dynamite

                                                                                                                                          Creep Show brings together John Grant with the dark funk of analogue electronic band Wrangler (Stephen Mallinder/Phil Winter/Benge) to create Mr Dynamite - a debut album packed with experimental pop and surreal funk. Recorded in Cornwall with a lifetime’s collection of drum machines and synthesisers assembled by Benge and explored by every member of Creep Show, there’s a real sense of freedom in the shackles-off grooves, channelling the early pioneering spirit of the Sugarhill Gang through wires and random electric noise. This sense of adventure is also part of the interplay between the two vocalists, John Grant and former Cabaret Voltaire frontman Stephen Mallinder, who switch between oblique wordplay to sinister humour as Phil Winter and Benge continue to man-handle the machines. The creepy ‘alter-ego’ title track, ‘Pink Squirrel’’s vocoder kaleidoscope and Grant’s exhilarating croon on the nine minute ‘Safe And Sound’ are just some of the twists and hooks to be explored on this consistently inventive record.

                                                                                                                                          STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                                                                          Barry says: So, imagine John Grant's unmistakeable vocal serenades over the top of some rhythmic Bureau B synth pulses, swirling synth patterns and sickly-sweet Linn stabs. What could possibly go wrong? Absolutely nothing is what, it's superb, like we'd expect any different from our John.

                                                                                                                                          TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                                                          1 Mr. Dynamite
                                                                                                                                          2 Modern Parenting
                                                                                                                                          3 Tokyo Metro
                                                                                                                                          4 Endangered Species
                                                                                                                                          5 K Mart Johnny
                                                                                                                                          6 Pink Squirrel
                                                                                                                                          7 Lime Ricky
                                                                                                                                          8 Fall
                                                                                                                                          9 Safe And Sound

                                                                                                                                          Jonathan Wilson had a busy 2017, producing Father John Misty's grammy nominated Pure Comedy and touring arenas around the globe as a guitarist and vocalist for Pink Floyd legend Roger Waters (for whom he also contributed to the lauded Is This The Life We Really Want? album.) Wilson also saw widespread acclaim heaped on Karen Elson’s sophomore LP Double Roses, which he recorded with her in Los Angeles in 2016.

                                                                                                                                          But it's not looking like Wilson is going to get much of a rest in 2018 either, as he'll be continuing on with the worldwide Waters tour and is set to release his own new solo album Rare Birds in the spring. The highly anticipated long player - which features backing vocals from Lana Del Rey, Josh Tillman, fellow Roger Waters bandmates Lucius and an extraordinary musical gift from otherworldly Brian Eno collaborator Laraaji - will be released through Bella Union worldwide.

                                                                                                                                          Although much of the album is comprised lyrically of meditations on a failed relationship and its aftermath, Wilson insists that Rare Birds is not really a concept album. "It's meant more as a healing affair, a rejuvenation, a reconciliation, for others, and for me. I wanted to balance personal narrative with the need I feel for calming healing music. I think we need journeys in sound, psychedelic gossamer-winged music that includes elements consciously and purposefully to incite hope, positivity, longing, reckless abandon and regret. It's all in there."

                                                                                                                                          And, for this one, music critics will need to retire the comparisons to heritage rockers and Laurel Canyon troubadours as they’re hardly useful anymore. Wilson's new sound takes a synthetic/acoustic, best-of-both-worlds analog/digital hybrid approach to achieve the complexity, sonic density and glossy hi-fi coating of Rare Birds. Heard for the first time on a Jonathan Wilson album are the sounds of synthesizers and drum machines.


                                                                                                                                          STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                                                                          Andy says: Jonathan has eschewed the obvious Laurel Canyon trappings this time out, and the result is his best record yet. Still blissed-out, otherworldly, multi-layered and lonnnnng, but the sound is beautifully streamlined with even synths and drum machines gliding by. A headphone masterpiece.

                                                                                                                                          Ezra Furman

                                                                                                                                          Transangelic Exodus

                                                                                                                                            Transangelic Exodus, Ezra Furman’s second album for Bella Union, is a new landmark for the American singer-songwriter: “not a concept record, but almost a novel, or a cluster of stories on a theme, a combination of fiction and a half-true memoir,” according to its author. “A personal companion for a paranoid road trip. A queer outlaw saga.”

                                                                                                                                            The music is as much of an intense, dramatic event, full of brilliant hooks, with an equally evolved approach to recorded sound to match Furman’s narrative vision. In honour of this shift, his backing band has been newly christened: The Boy-Friends are dead, long live The Visions. In other words, the man who embodies the title of his last album Perpetual Motion People is still on the move... Or in the vernacular of the new album, on the run.

                                                                                                                                            “The narrative thread,” Furman declares, “is I’m in love with an angel, and a government is after us, and we have to leave home because angels are illegal, as is harbouring angels. The term ‘transangelic’ refers to the fact people become angels because they grow wings. They have an operation, and they’re transformed. And it causes panic because some people think it’s contagious, or it should just be outlawed.

                                                                                                                                            “The album still works without the back story, though,” he vouches. “What’s essential is the mood - paranoid, authoritarian, the way certain people are stigmatised. It’s a theme in American life right now, and other so-called democracies.”

                                                                                                                                            After “Perpetual Motion People” was released in July 2015, Furman had moved back from California (Oakland) to his home town of Chicago. But after a year, he returned to the west coast (Berkeley this time). “I just seem to keep moving,” he sighs. Still, Transangelic Exodus was mostly recorded – as all Furman's records have been since 2011 - at his bandmate (saxophonist/producer) Tim Sandusky’s Ballistico Studios in Chicago, and with the other Visions - Jorgen Jorgensen (bass, and on this album, cello), Ben Joseph (keyboards, guitar) and Sam Durkes (drums/percussion).

                                                                                                                                            Just as Furman’s band hasn’t really changed, so his musical DNA remains intact – a thrilling, literate form of garage-punk rooted in The Velvet Underground, Jonathan Richman and ‘50s rock’n’roll. But Transangelic Exodus is noticeably different to its predecessors. “2016 was a hard year,” Furman recalls. “While the political and cultural conversation devolved in a very threatening way, we travelled and toured a lot. We saw ourselves coming to the end of what we were, and we wanted to become something new.”

                                                                                                                                            Furman cites Vampire Weekend’s “Modern Vampires Of The City”, Beck’s “Odelay”, Sparklehorse’s “It’s A Wonderful Life”, Kendrick Lamar’s “To Pimp A Butterfly”, Kayne West’s “Yeezus”, Angel Olsen’s “Burn Your Fire For No Witness” and Tune-Yards’ “Who Kill” – “artists making the most interesting music with the available resources” – as influences on Transangelic Exodus, plus Brian Wilson, Bruce Springsteen and James Baldwin’s ground-breaking, gay-themed 1956 novel Giovanni’s Room.

                                                                                                                                            “My previous records were original in their own way, but got classified as an off-kilter version of a retro band, and I wanted something that sounded more original,” he explains. “So we took time off touring, and made sure we took time with every song. I demoed with different band members, and then combined different demos – some parts even made the final album. So, the sound is more chopped up, edited, affected, rearranged.”

                                                                                                                                            One prime example is the album’s lead single ‘Driving Down To LA’, a sparse, but explosive, mix of doo-wop and digital crunch. Another is the haunting ‘Compulsive Liar’. “I wrote it as a ballad on a classical acoustic guitar, but we made it stranger, which brought out the emotion of the lyric more than it would have in its original form,” Furman says. “It’s less predictable; you don’t know where the song might go, and that makes me happy.”

                                                                                                                                            Furman once said, “The opening lines of my records tend to be summary statements.” So, what does, “I woke up bleeding in the crotch of a tree / TV blaring on the wall above the coffee machine” (from ‘Suck The Blood From My Wounds’) say about Transangelic Exodus? “I like the opening lines so much, I had to keep them even though they don’t make a lot of sense! You’re dropped into this story or situation, unsure where you are or what’s going on, and suddenly you’re moving. That’s what being alive feels like to me. Unknown and intense. It’s a big part of the record’s mood.”

                                                                                                                                            Checking Furman’s successive album covers will show his personal journey, coming out as queer and gender-fluid, which the jagged, agitated ‘Maraschino-Red Dress $8.99 at Goodwill’ meets head on, namely “the painful experience of being a closeted gender-non-conforming person. Having ‘trans’ in the album title has a lot to do with being queer, like [album finale] ‘I Lost My Innocence’ [“…to a boy named Vincent”). That early experience marks the narrator for life. From a young age, because of issues surrounding gender and sexuality, I felt fated to have an outsider perspective. It radicalises you.”

                                                                                                                                            Transangelic Exodus addresses another kind of coming out, as Furman addresses his Jewish faith on record much more openly than before, from the shivery ballad ‘God Lifts Up the Lowly’ (which includes a verse in Hebrew) to the exquisite ‘Psalm 151’ and the line “I believe in God but I don't believe we're getting out of this one” in ‘Come Here Get Away From Me’, a heady blend of rock’n’roll rumble and ghostly clarinet.

                                                                                                                                            “There is a lot of longing and anger in those songs,” Furman reckons. “A longing for God, and God’s help, wondering how long this can go on. It feels like we’re in exile – the innocent, persecuted, oppressed and threatened. But it’s hard in pop culture to make explicitly religious statements, as many people – including myself - have been hurt by religion.”

                                                                                                                                            Part of Furman’s motivation is the, “fear of fascist takeover,” expressed in the video to ‘Driving Down To L.A’ (filmed in Virginia, and uncannily storyboarded before the state’s infamous Charlottesville “Unite The Right” rally), as Ezra and his angel are pursued by modern-day Nazis. “At school, we learned all about the Holocaust, and were invited to imagine what would happen if the Nazis invaded again. As white supremacy has become more explicitly institutionalised in the US, my childhood nightmares have started to show up in songs.”

                                                                                                                                            Crossing between love, gender, sexuality and religion, and singing in solidarity with the innocent, persecuted, oppressed and threatened, Ezra Furman has soundtracked the current fear and loathing across America like no other, while pushing ahead with his own agenda, always on the move.

                                                                                                                                            STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                                                                            Barry says: Furman's most fiery and conceptual piece yet, dealing with modern political and identity issues in a sensitive and clever way. Littered with moments of jaw-dropping songwriting and perfectly measured switches, Transangelic Exodus is another outstanding album from the ever-talented Furman.

                                                                                                                                            TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                                                            Suck The Blood From My Wound
                                                                                                                                            Driving Down To L.A
                                                                                                                                            God Lifts Up The Lowly
                                                                                                                                            No Place
                                                                                                                                            The Great Unknown
                                                                                                                                            Compulsive Liar
                                                                                                                                            Maraschino-Red Dress $8.99 At Goodwill
                                                                                                                                            From A Beach House
                                                                                                                                            Love You So Bad
                                                                                                                                            Come Here Get Away From Me
                                                                                                                                            Peel My Orange Every Morning
                                                                                                                                            Psalm 151
                                                                                                                                            I Lost My Innocence

                                                                                                                                            Karl Blau

                                                                                                                                            Out Her Space

                                                                                                                                              Sequestered away in rural bliss, 90 minutes north of Seattle on the Washington state coast, Karl Blau has been making records for 20 years but never with European distribution. So, when Bella Union released ‘Introducing Karl Blau’ in 2015, it shone a belated and deserved light on “one of the great hidden treasures of music,” claimed album producer Tucker Martine.

                                                                                                                                              However, given ‘Introducing’s specific agenda - a set of gorgeous, lush cover versions drawing mostly on vintage Nashville’s country-soul with Blau concentrating on his rich, reverberating voice - his latest album ‘Out Her Space’ is so different that it could be titled ‘Reintroducing Karl Blau’.

                                                                                                                                              ‘Out Her Space’ features Blau’s own material, production and multi-instrumental skills and forges a gorgeous, languid and hook-infested gumbo of soul, funk, some jazzy blowing and Afro-pop, to arrive somewhere else entirely. Or as the Secretly Important blog says of Blau: “He manages to find what’s unique about a genre and throws it against the wall like a fist full of wet noodles; over and over, until what’s stuck is a unique genre amalgam.”

                                                                                                                                              The album also testifies to Blau’s studio skills, as he captures the glimmering, humid depths of those sweltering southern influences, despite his north-western heritage. But then Blau has engineered and produced a heap of records for himself and others, often at his home in Anacortes, releasing records on Washington’s favourite indies K and Knw-Yr-Own, as well as through his own Kelp Lunacy Advanced Plagiarism Society subscription service.

                                                                                                                                              TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                                                              Slow Children
                                                                                                                                              Poor The War Away
                                                                                                                                              Beckon
                                                                                                                                              Valley Of Sadness
                                                                                                                                              Blue As My Name
                                                                                                                                              I’ve Got The Sounds (Like You’ve Got The Blues)
                                                                                                                                              Where Ya Goin’ Papa
                                                                                                                                              Dub The War Away

                                                                                                                                              Sumie

                                                                                                                                              Lost In Light

                                                                                                                                                For a singer songwriter, the benefit of starting from a point of quiet is the room it allows for manoeuvre afterwards. Such is the case with the subtly cinematic second album from Sandra Sumie Nagano, ‘Lost In Light’, through Bella Union.

                                                                                                                                                On 2013’s eponymous debut, Sumie tapped into the mid-point between Scandinavian and Japanese folk music to deliver an album of blissful restraint, its quietude shaped by a combination of parenthood and natural inclination.

                                                                                                                                                The follow-up is an album of stealthy dynamism, drama and mystery, its impact made all the greater because it skirts obvious routes to dance just out of hand’s reach, always seeming to be on the verge of departure.

                                                                                                                                                Those who helped Sumie climb that poised peak included producer Filip Leyman, in whose Gothenburg studio the album was recorded. Fellow contributors numbered Karl Vento and Albert af Ekenstam on electric guitars, Emma Strååt and Kajsa Persson on strings and Max Lindahl on trumpet.

                                                                                                                                                Sumie has also surfaced on others’ work. She sings on ‘Cover Hearts’, a track from sometime soundtrack composer David Wenngren’s Library Tapes project and on Gothenburg electro-collective Tegami’s pulsing ‘Screen Dream’. Meanwhile, back at base camp, ‘Lost In Light’ is a screen-style dream of an album itself: immersive while it lasts, haunting after it flickers out of view.

                                                                                                                                                STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                                                                                Barry says: Beautiful brittle acoustic guitar, slowly pulling strings and the haunting addition of Nagano's beautiful vocals make this an essential addition to any collection.

                                                                                                                                                TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                                                                Fortune
                                                                                                                                                Night Rain
                                                                                                                                                Blue Lines
                                                                                                                                                Pouring Down
                                                                                                                                                Frö
                                                                                                                                                Divine Wind
                                                                                                                                                Leave Me
                                                                                                                                                The Only Lady
                                                                                                                                                Walk Away

                                                                                                                                                Lost Horizons

                                                                                                                                                Ojalá

                                                                                                                                                  Currently celebrating 20 years piloting his revered record label Bella Union, Simon Raymonde has scaled another personal peak, a new collaboration with drummer Richie Thomas.

                                                                                                                                                  They’re called Lost Horizons, and their stunning debut album, ‘Ojalá’, released via Bella Union, is a rare sighting of two gifted musicians who, for different reasons, have been largely absent from music-making for the last 20 years. Yet the record is proof of a telepathic relationship through music, established when the pair first became collaborators and friends in the eighties.

                                                                                                                                                  ‘Ojalá’ also incorporates a heady cast of guest singers. Some are signed to Bella Union, such as Marissa Nadler, former Midlake frontman Tim Smith, Cameron Neal (Horse Thief), others are long-time favourites of Raymonde’s (Liela Moss of The Duke Spirit and Ghostpoet), or newer discoveries (Beth Cannon, Hilang Child, Gemma Dunleavy and Phil McDonnell). And then there is the incomparable Karen Peris of The Innocence Mission, one of Raymonde’s most beloved artists, in her first collaboration outside of The Innocence Mission and solo recordings.

                                                                                                                                                  Together, the Lost Horizons ensemble has created an hour of exquisite, expansive and diverse spellcasting, from facets of soul (‘Bones’, featuring Cannon, and ‘Reckless’, featuring Ghostpoet) to dreamier invocations like ‘She Led Me Away’ (featuring Smith) and ‘Ojalá’s lengthiest trip, ‘The Engine’ (featuring Hilang Child). There’s the odd louder, faster detour, like ‘Life Inside A Paradox’ (featuring Neal, with Sharon Van Etten on backing vocals), but the dominant mood is a deep, rich melancholia.

                                                                                                                                                  TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                                                                  Bones
                                                                                                                                                  The Places We’ve Been
                                                                                                                                                  Amber Sky
                                                                                                                                                  Asphyxia
                                                                                                                                                  Reckless
                                                                                                                                                  She Led Me Away
                                                                                                                                                  Frenzy, Fear
                                                                                                                                                  The Tide
                                                                                                                                                  I Saw The Days Go By
                                                                                                                                                  Give Your Heart Away
                                                                                                                                                  Score The Sky
                                                                                                                                                  Life Inside A Paradox
                                                                                                                                                  The Engine
                                                                                                                                                  Winter’s Approaching
                                                                                                                                                  Stampede

                                                                                                                                                  Philip Selway

                                                                                                                                                  Let Me Go

                                                                                                                                                    Radiohead drummer Philip Selway’s new record is a departure from its two preceding albums (‘Familial’ and ‘Weatherhouse’). It is the soundtrack to the film drama ‘Let Me Go’, a story about mothers and daughters; about loss and mistrust; about the ramifications of a World War II crime; about secrets, trauma and lingering ghosts.

                                                                                                                                                    Mirroring the film’s haunted and intimate nature, Selway’s score is grounded in strings and piano, plus guitar, electronics, musical saw, glockenspiel and bowed vibraphone and the occasional use of bass and drums, creating a paradoxical sense of beauty and unease.

                                                                                                                                                    ‘Let Me Go’ is based on Austrian-born Helga Schneider’s memoir of the same name. She was just four years old when her mother Traudi walked out, never to return, in order to train as a guard in Germany’s concentration camps. Helga never knew the truth until, as an adult, she decided to track her mother down in Vienna, to discover not only the horror of the past but also of Traudi’s unashamedly proud memories of the most notorious camp of all, Auschwitz-Birkenau. Helga wouldn’t return to Vienna until thirty years later, when news arrived: Traudi was dying. Helga returned, for the sake of closure and hoping her mother had finally repented.

                                                                                                                                                    TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                                                                    Helga’s Theme
                                                                                                                                                    Wide Open
                                                                                                                                                    Mine
                                                                                                                                                    Zakopane
                                                                                                                                                    Walk
                                                                                                                                                    Snakecharmer
                                                                                                                                                    Mutti
                                                                                                                                                    Last Act
                                                                                                                                                    Let Me Go
                                                                                                                                                    Days And Nights
                                                                                                                                                    Don't Go Now (Elysian Quartet)
                                                                                                                                                    Let Me Go (Rhodes)
                                                                                                                                                    Necklace
                                                                                                                                                    Helga’s Theme (Saw)

                                                                                                                                                    Broen

                                                                                                                                                    I <3 Art

                                                                                                                                                      They may share a name and home country with one of Nordic TV’s darkest detective dramas, but you won’t find any dismembered bodies or nihilistic feelings on Broen’s ‘I <3 Art’, released through Bella Union.

                                                                                                                                                      Bursting with experi-pop exuberance and driven by a spirit of warm commonality, the five-piece’s debut album exults in the pleasures of intelligent music; its deep rhythms, dreamy melodies and dazzling sounds building bridges between bustles of jazzy percussion, psychedelic flourishes, funk grooves, mellifluous electronics and hip-hop beats. And if Norwegian-noir clichés and all other generic conventions are playfully bucked on its brightly exploratory way, such is Broen’s mission.

                                                                                                                                                      Recorded in Oslo’s Studio Paradiso, engineered by Jaga Jazzist’s Marcus Forsgren, and mixed by the band with Nick Terry, ‘I <3 Art’ bursts with invigorating life.

                                                                                                                                                      As Hans Hulbækmo (drums) puts it, “It’s both soft and hard. Beautiful and ugly or corny. Adventurous and experimental but still groovy. It’s honest and ironic. It has a lot of good energy. It was recorded live in the studio and it was a very joyful and positive experience. I think that shines through in the music, at least for us”.

                                                                                                                                                      TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                                                                      (Waters Changing)
                                                                                                                                                      Time
                                                                                                                                                      Black Line
                                                                                                                                                      <3
                                                                                                                                                      You (Detective)
                                                                                                                                                      Serenade
                                                                                                                                                      Pride
                                                                                                                                                      Water Is My Mirror

                                                                                                                                                      Susanne Sundfør

                                                                                                                                                      Music For People In Trouble

                                                                                                                                                        Acclaimed Norwegian singer songwriter and producer Susanne Sundfør releases her highly anticipated new album ‘Music For People In Trouble’ through Bella Union.

                                                                                                                                                        Sundfør’s most poignant and personal album to date, ‘Music For People In Trouble’ marks her out as one of the most compelling artists in the world.

                                                                                                                                                        The album was inspired by a journey Susanne made in a bid to re-connect, travelling across continents to contrary environments and politically contrasting worlds from North Korea to the Amazon jungle.

                                                                                                                                                        “We are living in a time of great changes. Everything is moving so rapidly, sometimes violently, sometimes dauntingly. I think a lot of people experience anxiety these days. I wanted to address these emotions on the album.” - Susanne Sundfør

                                                                                                                                                        STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                                                                                        Darryl says: Her fifth album, and a career definer on the Bella Union label. Unsettling and emotional at times but always full of her unique spine-chilling vocal beauty.

                                                                                                                                                        Mammút

                                                                                                                                                        Kinder Versions

                                                                                                                                                          Icelandic bands often resemble a force of nature and Mammút are no exception. What’s more, the quintet’s spectacular new album ‘Kinder Versions’ is exactly the kind of volcanic presence that is sorely lacking in 21st Century rock, likewise their unpredictable and uncategorizable shape-shifting sound, like a very modern twist on psychedelia.

                                                                                                                                                          Mammút is Icelandic for ‘mammoth’ - the name that singer Kata Mogensen “plucked out of the air,” when she joined guitarists Alexandra Baldursdóttir and Arnar Pétursson, bassist Ása Dýradóttir and drummer Andri Bjartur Jakobsson for their stage debut, aged just 14. Kata is the daughter of bassist Birgir Mogensen, a former bandmate of Björk back when they were young post-punk adventurers, a questing spirit that Mammút have also unconsciously adopted, though without ever discussing what kind of music they’d play. “We’re so close as a band, we have no limits for each other, no boundaries, we just follow our gut instincts,” says Kata.

                                                                                                                                                          It’s worked from the off: they quickly won the Músiktilraunir Battle Of The Bands and thereafter nominations and awards at different Icelandic Music Awards: their third album ‘Komdu Til Mín Svarta Systir’ won three of its eight nominations in 2014, including Album (Pop & Rock) and Song (Pop & Rock) for their epically slowburning single ‘Salt’. And with vocalist Kata Mogensen now singing in English, there’s a chance much more of the planet will discover what their homeland has known for a while.

                                                                                                                                                          Having worked with various Icelandic labels, Mammút’s signing to Bella Union is part of their plan to expand horizons. “It was never a decision to sing in Icelandic, it came out naturally when I wrote,” Kata explains. “But there are so few venues in Iceland, and we crave to move further. Singing in an international language opens the door - it means that people can understand not just the feeling in the vocals, but the words too, when I’m singing my heart out.”

                                                                                                                                                          TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                                                                          We Tried Love
                                                                                                                                                          Kinder Version
                                                                                                                                                          Bye Bye
                                                                                                                                                          The Moon Will Never
                                                                                                                                                          Turn On Me
                                                                                                                                                          Breathe Into Me
                                                                                                                                                          Walls
                                                                                                                                                          What’s Your Secret?
                                                                                                                                                          Pray For Air
                                                                                                                                                          Sorrow

                                                                                                                                                          A 14-track compilation of songs from throughout their career so far. The album features two previously unreleased tracks “Chariot” and “Baseball Diamond”, which were recorded during the Depression Cherry and Thank Your Lucky Stars sessions, both albums of which were released two months apart in 2015.

                                                                                                                                                          "When we announced that we were releasing a B-sides and rarities album, someone on Twitter asked, “B-sides record? Why would Beach House put out a B-sides record? Their A-sides are like B-sides.” This random person has a point. Our goal has never been to make music that is explicitly commercial. Over the years, as we have worked on our 6 LPs, it wasn’t the “best" or most catchy songs that made the records, just the ones that fit together to make a cohesive work. Accordingly, our B-sides are not songs that we didn’t like as much, just ones that didn’t have a place on the records we were making.

                                                                                                                                                          The idea for a B-sides record came when we realized just how many non-album songs had been made over the years, and how hard it was to find and hear many of them. This compilation contains every song we have ever made that does not exist on one of our records. There are 14 songs in total.

                                                                                                                                                          The oldest song is “Rain in Numbers” and was recorded in 2005, during the summer when we formed the band. We didn’t have a piano, so we asked our friend if we could use his, which was pretty out of tune. We used the mic that was on the four-track machine to record the piano and vocals. It was originally the secret song on our self-titled debut.

                                                                                                                                                          Sequentially, the next couple of songs are from late 2008. We were so excited about “Used to Be,” that we recorded it right after writing it so that we could have it as a 7” single for our fall tour with the Baltimore Round Robin. We recorded our cover of Queen’s “Play the Game” in the same session. It was for a charity compilation benefiting AIDS research and we will continue to donate all profits from the song to that charity. As fans of Queen, we thought it would be fun and ridiculous to try to adapt their high-powered pop song into our realm. These songs were recorded at the same studio where we made Devotion.

                                                                                                                                                          There are a bunch of songs written and recorded in the 2009-2010 window. This period of time, as well as 2014, was our most prolific to date. “Baby” was written and recorded in October 2009 with our friend Jason Quever. “10 Mile Stereo” was recorded during the Teen Dream session in July 2009. Since we used tape, we often slowed the tape way down to create effects while recording. When we were doing that for “10 Mile Stereo” we decided we wanted to make an alternate version where the whole song was slowed down, hence the “10 Mile Stereo (Cough Syrup Remix).”

                                                                                                                                                          “White Moon” and “The Arrangement” were both songs that we didn’t believe fit on Teen Dream. “White Moon” originally appeared on our iTunes live session. Since that was recorded and mixed very hastily, we have remixed it to better match our current aesthetics. We have also remixed and included the version of “Norway" we did at that same session. The main reason we wanted to include “Norway” is that it features a very different bridge from the original version.

                                                                                                                                                          After the insane year of touring we had in 2010, we felt incredibly grateful to our fans for all that had happened. We wrote and recorded “I Do Not Care for the Winter Sun” during a break between tours and released it on the internet for free, unmastered. Well, it’s finally been mastered…

                                                                                                                                                          “Wherever You Go” Is another song from that era. We always loved this song but thought it sounded too much like our old music. We paused writing it and didn’t finish it until 2011 during the Bloom recording session. It appeared originally as a secret song on Bloom.

                                                                                                                                                          “Equal Mind” was also recorded during the Bloom session. We really like this song, but pulled it from the record when we realized it had the exact same tempo as “Other People.” They are like twins.

                                                                                                                                                          The Bloom sessions led to “Saturn Song” as well. This song is built on a piano loop we wrote while recording Bloom. It also contains sounds recorded in deep space. It originally appeared on a compilation of songs incorporating space sounds that was released in 2014.

                                                                                                                                                          Finally, there are two previously unreleased songs from the Depression Cherry/Thank Your Lucky Stars sessions. They are called “Chariot” and “Baseball Diamond.” "


                                                                                                                                                          TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                                                                          1. Chariot
                                                                                                                                                          2. Baby
                                                                                                                                                          3. Equal Mind
                                                                                                                                                          4. Used To Be (2008 Single Version)
                                                                                                                                                          5. White Moon (iTunes Session Remix)
                                                                                                                                                          6. Baseball Diamond
                                                                                                                                                          7. Norway (iTunes Session Remix)
                                                                                                                                                          8. Play The Game
                                                                                                                                                          9. The Arrangement
                                                                                                                                                          10. Saturn Song
                                                                                                                                                          11. Rain In Numbers
                                                                                                                                                          12. I Do Not Care For The Winter Sun
                                                                                                                                                          13. 10 Mile Stereo (Cough Syrup Remix)
                                                                                                                                                          14. Wherever You Go

                                                                                                                                                          Celebration

                                                                                                                                                          Wounded Healer

                                                                                                                                                            “It seems like the last three years have been filled with contrasts,” says Katrina Ford, force-of-nature singer in Baltimore’s Celebration. “Fantastical musical adventures against the backdrop of adult crisis.” From this collision of opposites comes the kaleidoscopic ‘Wounded Healer’, released via Bella Union. Drawing its galvanic thrust from contrasting elements, the band’s fifth album is their purest and most richly realised statement yet: intimate and expansive, cohesive and wide-ranging, bruised and restorative.

                                                                                                                                                            Since the release of Albumin in 2014, the core trio of Ford, husband (multi-instrumentalist and organ player/rebuilder) Sean Antanaitis and drummer David Bergander have battled in times of struggle to uphold their founding strengths. “Midlife, we find ourselves dealing with bathroom renovations, death and elder care for parents, raising kids, careers, multiple surgeries, and totally fucked scheduling,” says Ford. “But despite it and yet inspired by it all, we have a place to come together and do this thing we love.”

                                                                                                                                                            TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                                                                            Rolling On
                                                                                                                                                            Velvet Glove
                                                                                                                                                            Spider
                                                                                                                                                            Sacred Clown
                                                                                                                                                            Summer Season
                                                                                                                                                            Granite
                                                                                                                                                            Freedom Ring
                                                                                                                                                            Stevie
                                                                                                                                                            Georgia Roots
                                                                                                                                                            Paper Trails
                                                                                                                                                            Drum And Phife

                                                                                                                                                            Charlie Coxedge

                                                                                                                                                            Cloisters

                                                                                                                                                              Charlie Coxedge is a musician and writer from Manchester, best known as a member of MONEY.

                                                                                                                                                              As a solo musician, his compositions weave layers and loops of guitars, synth textures and soft pianos, building from melodic, ambient noises to multi-faceted soundscapes.

                                                                                                                                                               Cloisters, as the title suggests, is about finding those secluded spaces, those empty archways where we hear the echoes of ourselves, and finding some peace within the solitude.  As so often happens in these empty spaces, thoughts enter and start to repeat themselves in our minds, bouncing off the walls until a new thought joins in, until all these different ideas are intertwined with each other, playing out in an almost endless cycle.

                                                                                                                                                              The music of Cloisters comes from these spaces, from moments of solitude found in childhood homes, walks through the city or even in memories - remembered spaces that invoke a certain feeling or atmosphere.

                                                                                                                                                              Recorded mostly in two different studios in Liverpool, with some bedroom recordings thrown in for good measure, everything on Cloisters was performed by Coxedge, simply using the studios to effectively capture the many layers and textures.  The sounds of the record, and the layers that build them, are as much about the spaces they create as the spaces they fill.  

                                                                                                                                                              'I’ve always been a bit of a collector of effects pedals, and have used them subtly within MONEY to enhance our sound, both on record and live – making loops, drones etc – but with this solo work I really get to expand on that, and a lot of the music comes from playing around with different sounds.'

                                                                                                                                                              Bella Union release Will Stratton’s album ‘Rosewood Almanac’, the American’s debut for the label.

                                                                                                                                                              ‘Rosewood Almanac’ is a work of fragile magic, a hypnotic combination of beautifully breathy voice and exquisite lyrical imagery, gorgeous melodies and similarly soft-spun instrumentation, centred on Will Stratton’s thrumming acoustic guitar and the verdant presence of velvet strings.

                                                                                                                                                              Born in California, mostly raised in New Jersey and currently an upstate New Yorker, this great-grandson of a travelling preacher started songwriting and recording while at high school, before going on to study philosophy and music composition. He has released work by himself and via a couple of tiny indies (one being Talitres in France) but extended medical treatment put everything on hold. After his successful recovery, Stratton decided to leave New York City for the Hudson Valley. Teaching (music, art, video) at a local boarding school while living on campus as a dorm ‘parent’ left little time for musical ambition, though he had never stopped making music. However, having left teaching, everything has come together for the finest record of his life. Bella Union’s timing was impeccable.

                                                                                                                                                              TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                                                                              Light Blue
                                                                                                                                                              Thick Skin
                                                                                                                                                              Manzanita
                                                                                                                                                              Vanishing Class
                                                                                                                                                              Whatever’s Divine
                                                                                                                                                              I See You
                                                                                                                                                              Some Ride
                                                                                                                                                              Skating On The Glass
                                                                                                                                                              This Is What We Do
                                                                                                                                                              Ribbons

                                                                                                                                                              Debut release from BNQT, a new indie super-group conceived and led by Eric Pulido of Midlake.The introductory set includes ten new, original songs and features five vocalists – Ben Bridwell of Band of Horses, Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand, Fran Healy of Travis, Jason Lytle of Grandaddy, and Pulido – who wrote and sing two tracks each, with backing from other Midlake members McKenzie Smith (drums), Joey McClellan (guitar) and Jesse Chandler (keys). ‘Volume 1’ was recorded and produced mostly at their studio in Denton, Texas. 

                                                                                                                                                              The concept of BNQT (pronounced “Banquet”) came to Pulido while touring Midlake's 2013 release, “Antiphon”. Gathering a number of contrasting yet complementary artists he’d befriended or shared the stage with, Pulido set out to establish an environment in which they could collaborate: “That's what art is about for me,” Pulido says, “creating with other people that you love and appreciate.”

                                                                                                                                                              The idea for BNQT was enthusiastically embraced by all involved, but with the artists stretched across the globe, recordings were split both with travel to Denton and remotely over the net. Over a year and some change, songs grew from demos to fully realized recordings, with Pulido guiding the way, and encouraging the artists to stretch out into new, uncharted territory. The resulting work is full of surprises, a collection that feels oddly familiar and attractively alien.

                                                                                                                                                              STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                                                                                              Andy says: If you look at the list of artists on this unique album you'll know that the melodies are well and truly catered for, but sound-wise you might not expect this glorious celebration of all things early 70's. A bit like Midlake's work behind John Grant but with room for some rock'n'roll riffage, swoonsome Floyd-style synths and even a glam stomper. Ace!

                                                                                                                                                              TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                                                                              1. Restart
                                                                                                                                                              2. Unlikely Force
                                                                                                                                                              3. 100 Million Miles
                                                                                                                                                              4. Mind Of A Man
                                                                                                                                                              5. Hey Banana
                                                                                                                                                              6. Real Love
                                                                                                                                                              7. Failing At Feeling
                                                                                                                                                              8. L.A. On My Mind
                                                                                                                                                              9. Tara
                                                                                                                                                              10. Fighting The World

                                                                                                                                                              Since 2012, Father John Misty, aka Josh Tillman, has unexpectedly emerged as a singular (if not undeniably, um, idiosyncratic) voice. Whether by virtue of his lyrics, which routinely defy the presumed polarities of wit and empathy; his live performances which may perhaps be described best as “intimately berzerk”, or the infuriating line he seems to occupy between canny and total fraud online or in interviews, Father John Misty has cultivated a rare space for himself in the musical landscape - that of a real enigma. Pure Comedy sees Tillman at the height of these powers: as a lyricist, and equally so a cultural observer - at times bordering on freakishly prescient. Tillman’s bent critiques, bared humanity and gently warped classic songwriting are all here in equal measure and - at 75 minutes - there’s a veritable fuck ton of it. The album navigates themes of progress, technology, fame, the environment, politics, aging, social media, human nature, human connection and his own role in it all with his usual candour, and in terms as timely as they are timeless.

                                                                                                                                                              Tillman wrote the majority of Pure Comedy throughout 2015 and recorded all the basic tracking and vocals live to tape (in no more than two takes each) at United Studios (fka the legendary Ocean Way Studios, favored by Frank Sinatra and The Beach Boys) in Los Angeles March 2016.

                                                                                                                                                              Pure Comedy was co-produced once again by Josh Tillman and long-time producer Jonathan Wilson; mixed by Tillman, Wilson and Trevor Spencer, and mastered by Bob Ludwig at Gateway Mastering Studios. The album features string, horn and choral arrangements from classical iconoclast Gavin Bryars (Jesus Blood Never Failed Me Yet, Sinking Of The Titanic), with additional contributions from Nico Muhly and Thomas Bartlett.

                                                                                                                                                              TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                                                                              1. Pure Comedy
                                                                                                                                                              2. Total Entertainment Forever
                                                                                                                                                              3. Things It Would Have Been Helpful To Know Before The Revolution
                                                                                                                                                              4. Ballad Of The Dying Man
                                                                                                                                                              5. Birdie
                                                                                                                                                              6. Leaving LA
                                                                                                                                                              7. A Bigger Paper Bag
                                                                                                                                                              8. When The God Of Love Returns There’ll Be Hell To Pay
                                                                                                                                                              9. Smoochie
                                                                                                                                                              10. Two Wildly Different Perspectives
                                                                                                                                                              11. The Memo
                                                                                                                                                              12. So I’m Growing Old On Magic Mountain
                                                                                                                                                              13. In Twenty Years Or So

                                                                                                                                                              Lydia Ainsworth

                                                                                                                                                              Darling Of The Afterglow

                                                                                                                                                              ‘Darling Of The Afterglow’ is Lydia Ainsworth’s sophomore record and follow up to the Juno-nominated and critically acclaimed ‘Right From Real’ (2014).

                                                                                                                                                              The album features a team of local Toronto musicians, woven into Ainsworth’s programming, samples and string arrangements. “I usually have to be out of my element to get that spark of inspiration,” she says of songwriting. The songs on ‘Darling Of The Afterglow’ were all begun away from home, before being brought to fruition in her hometown.

                                                                                                                                                              Mixing yearning pop with other-worldly synthetic sounds, plush classical settings and weird-gothic R&B influences, Lydia Ainsworth’s new album is a richly imagined, richly felt work of future-pop classicism: an album of intimate emotions projected in heightened widescreen. The stunning, 11-track ‘Darling Of The Afterglow’ - from the lush lullaby of ‘Afterglow’, to the immersive ‘Into The Blue’, to the masterful cover of Chris Isaak’s ‘Wicked Game’ - showcases a great leap forward from Right from Real’s already prodigious experi-pop riches.

                                                                                                                                                              TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                                                                              The Road
                                                                                                                                                              What Is It?
                                                                                                                                                              Ricochet
                                                                                                                                                              Afterglow
                                                                                                                                                              Open Doors
                                                                                                                                                              Spinning
                                                                                                                                                              Into The Blue
                                                                                                                                                              Wicked Game
                                                                                                                                                              I Can Feel It All
                                                                                                                                                              WLCM
                                                                                                                                                              Nighttime Watching

                                                                                                                                                              A heavenly voice couched in spellbinding Country & Western ballads, with a devastating emotional delivery: Holly Macve is a fantastic addition to the Bella Union family and her album ‘Golden Eagle’ is one of the most remarkably assured debuts of this or any other year, especially given that she’s only 21 years old.

                                                                                                                                                              “Words are my main love,” she declares. “I love songs that tell stories and take you somewhere else. I’ve always been drawn to that old country sound with its simple and memorable melodies. I enjoy music that feels timeless, that you don’t know quite when it was recorded.”

                                                                                                                                                              The bulk of ‘Golden Eagle’ was recorded in Newcastle at the home studio of producer Paul Gregory (of Bella Union labelmates Lanterns On The Lake), with extra recording in Brighton and London. Throughout, ‘Golden Eagle’ remains beautifully spare and delicate, putting Holly’s goosebumpraising voice centre stage, beautifully controlled yet riven with feeling.

                                                                                                                                                              On stage she’s a magnetic presence; it’s not just voice and songs. Audiences who caught her supporting the likes of John Grant, Villagers and Benjamin Clementine - incredible company to keep at this early stage - were doubtless stopped in their tracks. ‘Golden Eagle’ is surely going to have the same effect.

                                                                                                                                                              STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                                                                                              Laura says: This album would sit comfortably alongside the traditional honky-tonk / country of Patsy Cline as easily as it would more contemporary artists such as Gillian Welch and Laura Marling. The song structures follow a 'classic' country format, but the simplicity and stripped back nature of the recording (often just guitar or piano and vocals) allows for Holly's incredible, vocals to weave their magic and create a really wonderful, timeless album.

                                                                                                                                                              TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                                                                              White Bridge
                                                                                                                                                              Corner Of My Mind
                                                                                                                                                              Heartbreak Blues
                                                                                                                                                              Shell
                                                                                                                                                              All Of Its Glory
                                                                                                                                                              Timbuktu
                                                                                                                                                              Fear
                                                                                                                                                              No One Has The Answers
                                                                                                                                                              Golden Eagle
                                                                                                                                                              Sycamore Tree

                                                                                                                                                              Jambinai

                                                                                                                                                              Differance

                                                                                                                                                                Following much acclaim for their sophomore album ‘A Hermitage’, which was released in June 2016 via Bella Union, South Korean trio Jambinai announce that their debut album ‘Differance’ will be released on vinyl for the first time outside of South Korea. The debut full-length from Jambinai, originally released in February 2012, is a challenging and compelling affair that won them the prize for Best Crossover Album at the 2013 Korean Music Awards. A heady mixture of traditional instrumentation, crashing percussion and classic crescentic post-rock, Jambinai manage to maintain the brooding atmospherics and driven aesthetic through rapid-fire stylistic changes and skillful segues. Part metal, part instrumental and cinematic rock, and entirely fascinating, this is an excellent standalone outing, and a brilliant insight into the formation of the sound heard on their latest epic 'A Hermitage'.

                                                                                                                                                                STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                                                                                                Barry says: Gloomy, brooding instrumental rock meets crashing metallic bursts, all interspersed with forlorn strings, floating ambience and triumphant crescendos. A superb outing, and a vastly underappreciated gem now available on vinyl!

                                                                                                                                                                TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                                                                                Time Of Extinction
                                                                                                                                                                Grace Kelly
                                                                                                                                                                Glow Upon Closed Eyes
                                                                                                                                                                Paramita Pt. 1
                                                                                                                                                                Paramita Pt. 2
                                                                                                                                                                Hand Of Redemption
                                                                                                                                                                Empty Pupil Pt. 1
                                                                                                                                                                Empty Pupil Pt. 2
                                                                                                                                                                Connection

                                                                                                                                                                Horse Thief

                                                                                                                                                                Trials & Truths

                                                                                                                                                                  Two years after their widely feted Bella Union debut ‘Fear In Bliss’, Oklahoma quintet Horse Thief have created another surging, crafted beauty in ‘Trials & Truths’.

                                                                                                                                                                  The record’s unified feel still contains many contrasting elements, sounding both panoramic and nuanced, intimate and anthemic and vibrant and contemplative, while frontman Cameron Neal’s lyrics range from the confessional to the metaphorical as he surveys the passing of time.

                                                                                                                                                                  Neal concludes, “All the songs have guided me through the writing process, and comforted me, which is part of what the whole record is contemplating - making something to comfort someone, to write songs they can relate to. And with this record, the band is in a great place.”

                                                                                                                                                                  TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                                                                                  Another Youth
                                                                                                                                                                  Difference
                                                                                                                                                                  Drowsy
                                                                                                                                                                  Empire
                                                                                                                                                                  Falling For You
                                                                                                                                                                  Evil’s Rising
                                                                                                                                                                  Little One
                                                                                                                                                                  Mountain Town
                                                                                                                                                                  Million Dollars
                                                                                                                                                                  Santa Fe


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