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Dana Gavanski

Late Slap

    There’s a party in Dana Gavanski’s head and everyone’s invited- well, kind of. Late Slap, Gavanski’s third album, gives voice to the highs and lows of the mindscape in all its joys and terrors, injecting some much needed playfulness into the process of writing about emotionally hard things. “The album holds together the seemingly disparate aspects of my character that I have sometimes tried to repress,” says Dana. “With this album I’m letting them into the room, celebrating them for all their strangeness a strangeness which I think we all, on some level, share.”

    Having (literally) lost her voice during the writing of her previous album, When It Comes, Late Slap finds Dana in magisterial mode, displaying a newfound confidence and energy—in both her writing and singing—borne, paradoxically, from embracing feelings of discomfort. “I realized,” says Dana, “that in order to become stronger I needed to get used to being uncomfortable. ”It’s appropriate, then, that the album opens with ‘How to Feel Uncomfortable,” a quick sonic punch of a song, which bemoans the growing distances between people in the digital landscapes where we spend so much time wandering aimlessly: “stand too close, face in your phone/ it’s scrambling your mind/ tired of your zombie glow/soaking up your eyes.”. The song attests to the difficulty of sitting with yourself, in boredom, insecurity and indecision—and the important emotional and spiritual rewards of doing so. Or, as Susan Sontag, a major influence on the album, puts it in "Regarding the Pain of Others: “It is passivity that dulls feeling. The states described as apathy, moral or emotional anesthesia, are full of feelings; the feelings are rage and frustration...

    ”In the writing of Late Slap, Gavanski swapped out the familiar for the new, training herself to use LogicPro rather than just her usual guitar-and-voice approach. If composing somewhat neo-Luddite anthems on a Macbook seems a little contradictory, well, that’s kind of the point: “21st century life is so full of contradictions and headfucks that it can be hard to do anything with conviction—you could cynic your way out of doing or believing anything.” Initially overwhelmed by its seemingly limitless possibilities, Dana began to create demos and collages of small sound worlds across various influences, at times orchestral pop, art rock and new wave, again embracing difference and variety. “Whenever I’m stuck in a certain way of working, it helps to try something new, to challenge myself in a different way. Like when you learn a new instrument: you’re excited by it and less concerned with perfection.”

    Gavanski fleshed out the demos with her band before taking the album—and the band—to Mike Lindsay (Tunng, LUMP) at MESS, the producer’s studio in Margate. The five-piece, which includes Gavanski’s fellow co-producer James Howard (Rozi Plain, Alabaster dePlume), tracked the record over five days. “I knew Mike could help me find the range of sound I was looking for; he has an amazing attention to sonic detail and we’ve worked well together on previous records.” Lindsay acquired a Yamaha DX7 synth at Dana’s request just for the album, and they used it to conjure an atmosphere of digital warmth that recalls the Beverly Glenn-Copeland’s meditative masterpiece Keyboard Fantasies.

    But the Gavanski mind-party has a varied playlist. ‘Ears Were Growing,’ for example, encapsulates the eighties zeal of Talking Heads or Klaus Nomi, pitching fantasy against reality through a playful lyric about negative self-talk, the domestic interior, and their way of creating a kind of Stockholm Syndrome equal parts comfort and fear. The line “take me to the cinema/ I want to inhabit the actress!” testifies to Dana’s appreciation for the theatrical and the cinematic. She cites the influence of golden age Hollywood star Gena Rowlands, whose portrayal of an aging theatre actor in Opening Night leads to a frightening loss of self and a dark, sobering transformation: “Gena manages to express so many feelings just through her face. She’s strikingly beautiful in a classic Hollywood way but she’s not scared to look silly and childish. She makes me laugh and cry at the same time—there’s something transformative in going over the top. ”Some tracks take a less in-your-face approach (it takes all sorts to make a memorable party). ‘Ribbon,’ a tender song about the recent loss of a childhood friend, looks at the world through the lens of grief, marveling at the way the familiar suddenly loses its meaning and shape: “To face the rays all saddled in silence/How do I rearrange my room/ the walls are a shell/That’s opened too soon/ I can’t manage it from here.” The gently propulsive ‘Song for Rachel’ approaches the same subject matter from another angle, finding release in the simple, straight-to-the-point chorus refrain of “Cause’ you’re gone/ it’s just that I’m lost/ and I don’t know how to feel.” Not knowing how to feel, Gavanski shows us, is as valid and important a feeling as any other.

    Late Slap’s unsettling artwork places the album themes in plain sight, Gavanski’s ambiguous, animated expression and screened-out black eyes bearing witness to what might be a revolving exhibition of contradictory images: cute play-fighting kittens giving way to pictures of suffering and war, golden hours dissolving into lost hours never to be reclaimed. But Late Slap is also what its title suggests—a sudden jolt, a shock to the system that seeks to reconnect with the messy flesh-and-thought humanity of simply being human. The album’s tension between cynicism and trust, openness and despair, melodrama and silliness, ultimately invites the listeners in (throw your coat on the bed over there, stranger). It welcomes you at the door, and beckons you to find tenderness in a world doing its best to desensitize us.


    STAFF COMMENTS

    Barry says: I'll be honest, I thought this was Cate Le Bon when I first heard it. Dana's beautifully evocative vocals and off-piste rhythmic turns are at once reminiscent of CLB's unmistakeable jagged syncopation and soaring 60's pop majesty. Gavanski's talents are in full show here, and sounding better than ever.

    TRACK LISTING

    1. How To Feel Uncomfortable
    2. Let Them Row
    3. Late Slap
    4. Ears Were Growing
    5. Singular Coincidence
    6. Song For Rachel
    7. Eye On Love
    8. Ribbon
    9. Dark Side
    10. Reiteration

    Ghost Woman

    Anne, If

      One could be forgiven for getting that familiar feeling when listening to the music of Ghost Woman. And that's not just because songwriter & multi-instrumentalist Evan Uschenko is deeply steeped in classic guitar-led rock & pop songwriting (more on that later), it's that the music was, by design, intended to be evocative. But not evocative, however, of any one thing; what separates the music of Ghost Woman from a great many other bands working today is his openness to non-specificity. He's not trying to impart any sort of message to the listener; instead, the hope is that one will find themselves luxuriating in nuances of how the music is delivered, and the feelings it stirs up for each individual.

      For the past couple of years Ghost Woman has been Evan Uschenko's outlet for his interest in songwriting and recording, which began after a number of years spent playing as a sideman in various Canadian indie ensembles, most notably in the Michael Rault band, a group that displays a similar affinity for perfectly dialed, partially yesteryear-looking guitar pop. Following 2022's self-titled debut, issued by UK-based Full Time Hobby to great critical acclaim, Anne, If presents a slightly more expansive vision of what Ghost Woman can offer.

      The sound of Anne, If is certainly in keeping with past output: the music was performed and recorded (almost) entirely by Uschenko himself on his trusty Tascam 388 tape recorder, during what he describes as a “strange new chapter” in his life, living in a large, expansive house with nothing to do except record music, watch old VHS movies, and cook meals over an open fire in the backyard. “The ability to be making sounds and recording at any time of the day had a big influence on the way I worked and what was produced,” he says.

      And the results are stellar; Uschenko manages to cover more stylistic ground than ever while maintaining a strong throughline from start to finish. Though some songs seem to almost directly reference certain bands and eras of rock music, none of it is ever pure imitation; Uschenko's melodic sense – at once detached (in a Pavement kind of way) and yearning (the winsome melodies and harmonies of Crosby, Stills, and Nash are summoned more than once) – glues the album together. Spot-on late-60s-style drum fills on title track could be lifted from any number of tracks on the Nuggets compilation; “Street Meet” betrays an interest in the endless horizon feel of bands like Can and Neu!, and the chiming 12-string guitar sounds pervading the album (see “The End of A Gun”) would be right at home on classic sides by The Byrds, Love, and Jefferson Airplane.

      The warm, straightforward production – which recalls Safe As Milk-era Captain Beefheart, the first couple Beak albums, or Shel Talmy's 60s productions for The Creation or The Kinks – also knits the whole thing together, and its perfectly tape-saturated, analog sound offers a pleasing counterpoint to today's world of digital recording, plugin effects, and “we'll fix it in post” attitudes.

      Uschenko eschews the notion that the band is – at least entirely – a “solo project”, as Ghost Woman's live show is very much a band-centric affair, these days comprised of creative and romantic partner Ille van Dessel (Poolface) at the drums, and longtime hometown co-conspirator Nick Hay handling whatever string-related duties need attending to. Hay also contributes a lead vocal to Anne, If, turning in a performance of the song “Tripped” that treads eerily close to Mark Lanegan levels of weariness, and the record is further bolstered by an appearance from Ryan “Skinny” Dyck's steel guitar on “Lo Extrano”. The songs from Anne, If that have found their way to the stage during this year's plentiful smattering of live dates around Canada and Europe (including a recent string of shows with indie-folk-pop darling Chad Van Gaalen) have already begun to take on new shapes, and the band – in whatever formation it appears – is not to be missed.


      TRACK LISTING

      1. Welcome
      2. Broke
      3. 3 Weeks Straight
      4. Anne, If
      5. Street Meat
      6. The End Of A Gun
      7. Lo Extrano
      8. Arline
      9. Down Again
      10. Tripped
      11. So Long

      Ghost Woman

      Ghost Woman

        Ghost Woman’s blissfully hypnotic world is the creation of melodic maniac, Evan John Uschenko. Beating the odds of life as a busy touring musician, salvaging and replacing his instruments from burned down rehearsal spaces, van break-ins and far too many relocations to list, Uschenko has transformed his lifelong habit of homespun sonic exploration into a sensory ‘mix and match’ experience destined for the main stage. “When I record songs I tend not to approach them with any preconceived idea, I take a seat, tune the guitar and enjoy myself. It’s always been like that for me. If it don’t turn you on, what’s the point?” Evan’s sonic and literal adventures as a touring multi-instrumentalist with songwriter/producer/guitarist Michael Rault saw him share international stages with the likes of Jacco Gardner, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard and The Mild High Club; Who unwittingly paved the way for Ghost Woman’s inevitable incarnation. “Having the opportunity to witness those groups perform was inspiring to say the least. Especially Gizz and Jacco. The attention to detail, professionalism as a touring act and the extra effort put into creating a killer live show doesn’t go unnoticed. It’s a calibre I’m just not used to where I’m from.” “When the tours were wrapped, I got home and immediately started writing music. And music with a live show in mind” Ghost Woman’s upcoming self-titled LP brims with self-produced and self-performed Anatolian sounds and lo-fi hooks. Subscribing to the school of authenticity Uschenko seemingly shares with rebellious new-psych classmates Kurt Vile or The Black Angels, Ghost Woman takes its inspiration largely from groups like Can, Beak, Jefferson Airplane, The Byrds, and The Firesign Theatre. do.

        TRACK LISTING

        1. All The Time
        2. Do You
        3. Dead & Gone
        4. Along
        5. Clockwork
        6. Behind Your Eyes
        7. All Your Love
        8. Jreaming
        9. Good
        10. Comes On

        Ghost Woman

        Hindsight Is 50/50

          Despite ‘Hindsight Is 50/50’ being the third album from Ghost Woman in 18 months, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Evan Uschenko believes that this is the first album that “finally captures the true nature of the band”.

          The album was recorded mostly live in three days at the analogue Kerwax studios in Brittany, France by Christophe Chavanon (The Good Damn). Uschenko states that “the first two albums were never meant to be albums: they are like pages from diaries that have long since been burned. With the introduction of Ille van Dessel as co-writer/drummer, the project feels like it has a direction”.

          There is a confidence and assurance that feels built upon the 2022 eponymous debut and the follow-up ‘Anne, If’, which was only released in January 2023. This urgency to progress and keep moving forward is reflected by the band: “We prefer to keep busy. But we’re lazy too. We still feel like we could be doing a lot more.” Overall, there is a darker, denser feel compared to previous releases, but the sound and vibe of this album is more akin to what the project was supposed to be when it started in 2016, finally realising Ghost Woman’s creative vision.

          The immersion into the album is immediate, locking in with the incessant riffing of ‘Bonehead’ setting the scene for what follows. Next up is the echoey, garage-surf twang of ‘Alright Alright’. The opening line “take a little walk with me…” has a sinister, gothic hue that wouldn’t feel out of place on Murder Ballads or Peaky Blinders. Sonically the album holds itself together within a warm, analogue soundworld, but with few digestible vocal melodies steering the tracks or easily giving up their meaning. This is a conscious decision, with Uschenko claiming that “there is never a concept when it comes to creating something, and no intention behind anything we create, other than to make noise and complete an album”.

          ‘Yoko’ reverts to chugging boogie, spitting into life in bursts of squalling guitars, and a mid-song breakdown that infers the live version will far outlive its three and a half recorded minutes. Most songs are similarly restrained in their running time, indicating a strong sense of focus and editing, rather than letting the songs run away with themselves. Only ‘Juan’ really breaks the five-minute mark and feels like the album’s centrepiece; an exuberant amalgamation of the themes and tones surrounding it. The band say that “these songs were made to be played live”, and the closing build will work perfectly in the darkest, noisiest club you can find.

          The title track continues this positive curve. The title is a play on the saying ‘Hindsight is 20/20’, based on a friend’s drunken tattoo gone wrong. “Maybe it means life is all chance. Maybe it means common sense isn't so common”, say the band. Vocals come drenched in reverb and meaning is often suggested rather than explicit. The guitars are heavier and the vocals are less easily discernible, but Uschenko believes that “vocals are not important. We prefer to not be understood. If you’re looking for meaning in these lyrics, might I suggest buying a Lenny Bruce record instead?”. Sound advice indeed, so immerse yourself in this album and tell your friends about it without the benefit of hindsight, 20/20 or otherwise.

          Overall, Ghost Woman appreciate that they have arrived at where they always wanted to get to: “It is the sound it was meant to be. It is the band as a whole”.

          TRACK LISTING

          1 Bonehead
          2 Alright Alright
          3 Highly Unlikely
          4 Ottessa
          5 Along Pt.2
          6 Yoko
          7 Wormfeast
          8 Juan
          9 Hindsight Is 50/50
          10 Buik

          Squirrel Flower

          Tomorrow's Fire

            An hour south of Chicago, along the shores of Lake Michigan, sits the Indiana Dunes, a protected expanse of shoreline recently designated a National Park. When Ella Williams first visited the Dunes, she was awed by the juxtaposition of its natural splendor within the surrounding industrial corridor of Northwest Indiana. “Every time I go there, it changes my life,” she says, without a hint of hyperbole. “You stand in the marshlands and to your left is a steel factory belching fire and to your right is a nuclear power plant.” Across the water, Chicago waits, its glistening towers made possible by the same steel forged here. For as long as she’s been making music, Ella Williams’ songs have been products of the environments they’re written in, born out of the same world they so vividly hold a mirror to. This environment is where her magnetic new album,Tomorrow’s Fire, lives.

            The music Williams makes as Squirrel Flower has always communicated a strong sense of place. Herself-released debut EP, 2015’s early winter songs from middle america, was written during her first year living in Iowa, where the winter months make those of her hometown, Boston, seem quaint by comparison. Since that first offering, Squirrel Flower amassed a fanbase beyond the Boston DIY scene with several releases. The most recent, Planet (i), was informed by climate anxiety, while the subsequent Planet EP marked an important turning point in Williams’ prolific career; the collection of demos was the first self-produced material she’d released in some time. With a renewed confidence as a producer, she helmed Tomorrow’s Fire at Drop of Sun Studios in Asheville alongside storied engineer Alex Farrar (Wednesday, Indigo de Souza, Snail Mail). Working tirelessly through long studio sessions with no days off, Williams and Farrar tracked many of the instruments, building the songs together during the first week, and then assembled a studio band that included Matt McCaughan (Bon Iver), Seth Kauffman (Angel Olsen band), Jake Lenderman (aka MJ Lenderman),and Dave Hartley (The War on Drugs) lending their contributions.

            While her early work is often hushed and minimal, there has always been a barely contained storm in Williams’ music. Tomorrow’s Fire is that storm breaking open, a rock record, made to be played loud. As if to signal this shift, the album opens with the soaring “i don’t use a trash can,” a re-imagining of the first ever Squirrel Flower song. Here, she nods to those early shows, when her voice, looped and minimalistic,had the power to silence a room. Lead singles “Full Time Job” and “When a Plant is Dying,” narrate the universal desperation that comes with living as an artist and pushing up against a world where that’s a challenging thing to be. The frustration in Williams’ lyrics is echoed by the music’s uninhibited, ferocious production. “There must be more to life/ Than being on time,” she sings on the latter’s towering chorus. Lyrics like that one are fated to become anthemic, and Tomorrow’s Fire overflows with them. “Doing my best is a full time job/ But it doesn’t pay the rent” Williams sings on “Full Time Job” over careening feedback, her steady delivery imposing order over a song that is, at its heart, about a loss of control.

            The album glides effortlessly over emotional states of being, lightness and heaviness. “Intheskatepark,”written in the summer of 2019, four years later sounds like a dispatch from a bygone world. The scuzzypop production nods to Guided By Voices, as Williams sings about crushing under summer sunshine. “I had a light,” Williams repeats mournfully on “Stick,” her voice at once aching and powerful, a sense of rage fermenting as the song goes on, until it explodes in the second half. “This song is about not wanting to compromise, just being at the end of your rope,” Williams says. “Stick” harnesses that exasperation and turns it into a battle cry for anyone who is exhausted but feels like they’re not working hard enough,who had to get a job they hate to make rent, who lost their light and can’t seem to find it again. Finding that light is important. “I feel like I lost myself for a bit”, Williams says, “trying hard to be what I thought people wanted me to be, suffocated by the pressure of being perceived. Now, I want to be unapologetic, uncompromising.’ Role models like Kim Gordon, Patti Smith, and PJ Harvey, alongside inspiration from contemporaries and friends led Williams to the most uncompromising version of her music.

            Williams also cites artists like Jason Molina, Tom Waits, and Springsteen as fonts of inspiration for Tomorrow’s Fire, musicians who knew how to write into the mind of a stranger, who could tell you the story of a life in under four minutes. “The songs I write are not always autobiographical, but they’re always true,” Williams says. Nowhere is Springsteen heard more clearly than on “Alley Light,” an electrifying song narrated from the perspective of a down-on-his-luck guy whose car is fated to die anyday now and whose girl just wants to escape. There’s a vintage sheen to it, but “Alley Light” captures the very familiar feelings of loss that come with living in a 21st century city, where you blink and the store fronts change. Williams notes, ‘It’s about a man in me, or a man who I love, or even a man who is a stranger to me.’

            Springsteen also leads back to one the strongest recurring themes for Williams both on this album and throughout her career, family. With her musical family members often playing on previous records,‘Canyon’ tells the story of Williams’ mother. As a teen, sneaking out to go to a Springsteen concert with her boyfriend. “She was a rebel,” Williams says, “I always learn more about myself through stories of her life and I wanted to honor that”. The biggest her sound has ever been, ‘Canyon’ echoes like rocks fallingfrom cliffs, breaking apart. The vast natural landscape meeting industrialism–field recordings of metal grinding taken by her sibling at their job as a steelworker layered with the wall of guitar.

            Tomorrow’s Fire might sound like the title of an apocalypse album, but it’s not. It references the title of a novel Williams’ great-grandfather Jay wrote about a troubadour, named for a line by the Medieval Frenchpoet Rutebeuf, a troubadour himself: “Tomorrow’s hopes provide my dinner/ Tomorrow’s fire must warm tonight.” Centuries on, the quote spoke to Williams, who describes the fire as a tool to wield in the face of nihilism. Tomorrow’s Fire is what we take solace in, what we know will make us feel okay in the morning, how we light the path we’re walking on.“We may have to try a little harder every year to be playful, to shove away the bitterness” Williams says of the lessons learned from her ancestor, “but it’s always worth it to remain playful and hopeful, even if the stakes are really fucking high”.

            Closing track ‘Finally Rain’ speaks to the ambiguity of being a young person staring down climate catastrophe. The last verse is an homage to her relationship with her loved ones—‘We won’t grow up.’ A stark realization, but also a manifesto. To be resolutely committed to a life of not ‘growing up,’ not losing our wonder while we’re still here.

            TRACK LISTING

            1 I Don't Use A Trash Can
            2 Full Time Job
            3 Alley Light
            4 Almost Pulled Away
            5 Stick
            6 When A Plant Is Dying
            7 Intheskatepark
            8 Canyon
            9 What Kind Of Dream Is This?
            10 Finally Rain

            Pale Blue Eyes

            This House

              Delirious chatter… clinks of warm cans of beer… Cocteau Twins played at full blast. Lively memories of parties and people live on through This House, the new album from Pale Blue Eyes. The house in question is there on the front cover, the childhood home of the trio’s vocalist and guitarist, Matt Board. Defined by closure and moving on, This House is shaken to its rafters as the band navigate the grief of recent parental loss. Alongside uplifting melodies that dance like no-one’s watching, the album is rich in life-affirming human connections, where music-making becomes a means of recovery.

              “When Mum died, five years after Dad, there was this charge hanging in the air, connecting each person in the room,” says Matt. “Time stopped. I felt like I momentarily entered an alternative dimension between life and death. Days and weeks later I’d see my family in every corner of the house – all the reminders, ghosts and memories. Then, gradually, it felt like time for a new start, moving on from the house and my amazing parents.”

              While the band’s debut LP Souvenirs captured memories and melancholy from around the death of Matt’s father, This House is its next-door neighbour. The new album was finished in the immediate aftermath of the death of Matt’s mum. As soon as the record was completed, PBE were packing up the contents from their self-built Penquit Mill home studio, financed through endless casual work and a bank loan. The location was a dream – in the middle of nowhere, just south of Dartmoor, midway between Plymouth and Totnes.

              The studio was where they spent hours recording and self-producing both records, while supporting Matt’s mum through the decline of a long-term illness. Matt and his bandmate and wife Lucy Board (drums/synth/production) have now returned north, to her native Sheffield, with funk-mad bassist Aubrey Simpson living between Devon and London.

              “It’s a more sombre and more ecstatic album, with an urgent desire to remember and enjoy every moment,” says Matt of the record’s life-defining “end of era” moments. “We’ve dealt with loss throughout both albums,” says Matt, “but this time there has been rebuilding – appreciating and relishing the things and people still here.” Pertinently, album tracks ‘Sister’ and ‘More’ celebrate the complexities of relationships between family and friends.

              “We wanted to turn a shitty situation into something positive,” says Lucy, “ so we put all our energy into making music that was fun to play live and perhaps open up a way out.” Matt concurs: “The album captures moments of elation and joy alongside the grave mood that eventually engulfed our home. During those tough times we played all over the UK and overseas, buoyed by the thrill of people listening to what we’d been working on… knowing two days later we’d be in a hospice saying our final goodbyes to Mum. The ultimate headfuckery.”

              PBE say the new album is a “slightly more worldly-wise sibling” to 2022 debut LP Souvenirs. The latter was roundly acclaimed. “Joyous... propulsive… exhilarating”, said Uncut. Magic of France were impressed: “Ultrapuissante... orgasmique... profondeur infinie.” Line Of Best Fit said, “‘Like all great debuts it’s both a culmination of their beginnings as well as a pointer to the wide open road ahead.”

              Mixed and mastered by Moonlandingz’s Dean Honer (Róisín Murphy, The Human League, I Monster), with jam sessions its driving force, This House bounces through analogue tape delays and effects pedals to capture life’s oscillating journey. Celebratory ‘Simmering,’ and ‘Hang Out’ offer peaks, highlighting the importance of pressing the ‘off’ switch. “It’s about enjoying simple moments,” says Matt, “the sun on your face, hanging with friends in the pub, looking at the night sky...”

              Any threat of troughs are lifted by motorik rhythms from their Moog Little Phatty and Prophet 12 – thanks to Lucy’s fascination for South Yorkshire synth innovation. The dissertation for her music degree was titled “An Investigation into Sheffield's Alternative Music Scene Between 1973 and 1978, with Particular Reference to Cabaret Voltaire.”

              With This House, Lucy’s hometown sounds blend with Aubrey’s evangelical interest in Motown and various funk titans. These diverse touchstones comes through in the PBE album’s blend of pop hooks and psych-rock sophistication. ‘Heating’s On’ is a driving anthem, glistening with ’80s guitar and a trumpet part care of Lucy. ‘Sister’ mixes goth-rock guitar with DIY choral grandeur, a tasty mix of The Cult and Joe Meek. ‘Millions Times Over’ takes feelings of hopelessness and then creates a lovely bittersweet feel via shimmering synths and wistful vocals. The album concludes with the widescreen expanse of ‘Underwater’, a moving, meditative set-piece.

              “Mum always said she loved hearing the sounds of the recording process as people would come and go from the studio,” Matt remembers.

              Making music as a means to go on, Pale Blue Eyes’ two albums bookend other significant moments, such as soundtracking the Atmos arts-and-housing project in Totnes (featuring a sound-and-light installation by Brian Eno). There was also the time PBE’s beloved old Citroën blew up between gigs, reinforcing a valuable lesson. “You have to embrace the Berlingo!” says Lucy, rolling out the band’s new motto.

              “Change is inevitable,” Matt adds. “You have to embrace it all, the good and bad, and the horribly ugly.”

              STAFF COMMENTS

              Barry says: With rich grooving guitars, snappy percussion and Matt Board's gorgeous psychedelic vocal stylings, Pale Blue Eyes' formula might not sound like the most complex, but it results in the huge, warm sound bath we hear on 'This House'. Beautifully written melodies and stuck-in-your-head riffs abound, Pale Blue Eyes have smashed out an incomparable debut.

              The Saxophones

              To Be A Cloud

                Returning after three years, the husband and wife duo of Alexi Erenkov and Alison Alderdiceaka. The Saxophones have announced the arrival of their third album, To Be A Cloud, for 2nd June 2023. Out today is the first single to be taken from it, Desert Flower, featuring a video directed by Rainbow Tunnel. "Alison wants me to try therapy, "says Alexi. “She’s a therapist herself, but I’ve never been to one. The idea of going makes me very uncomfortable. I don’t like being vulnerable in front of strangers. So, instead of confronting my discomfort, I look for an easier path. It’s never easier and it’s always unsatisfying or destructive. “Desert Flower” is about avoidance and fear impeding personal growth and the deepening of relationships. The album itself was recorded at Phil Elverum’s (The Microphones, Mount Eerie) Unknown Studio in Anacortes, WA last autumn.

                A former Catholic church where the pair lived during 24/7 recording sessions, time was no object as they experimented and developed the sound of the record. Its magical setting and ample space provided natural acoustics for Alexi’s arresting vocals which were recorded live to 24-track tape, suspending them in an ambiguous historical and chronological context between analogue and digital. Enhanced by Alison’s percussion alongside the bass and keys of Richard Laws, together they made the most of the studio’s many instruments which fill out and bookend their exploration of the billions of years of evolution that have led to this moment in time. "The title was inspired by a passage of Zen monk Thich Nat Hanh’s writing in No Death, No Fear which both calms my own fear and leaves me with doubts, "explains Alexi, of the album channelling its influence of comforting yet disturbing limbo. "He uses clouds as a metaphor to illustrate the impermanence of all things, suggesting clouds are no different from people in their fleeting nature. Suffering arises when we try to preserve a person, a moment, or an experience and fail to recognize that all things are both fleeting and cyclical. Hanh contends the cloud does not die, it simply changes form, and if we look deeply, we can see the cloud in the rain.

                "Now, led by Hanh’s pearls of wisdom, The Saxophones offer a further extension of grappling with mortality and the meaning of existence–this time via the second coming of parenthood. Whilst their melancholic debut Songs of the Saxophones was written amid the incessant rain of a northern Californian winter aboard the boat they lived on, and swells of emotion lapped upon buoyant follow-up Eternity Bay, their nocturnal third’s cyclical nature looks at love (fostering and growing familial and romantic feelings that eventually transform and fade with time), art and passing creativity, and self-reflecting as they consider the lifecycle of raising their two young children.

                Written in their family home between calm moments once the kids had gone to bed, To Be A Cloud is attuned to the peaceful bay of Inverness, California where Alison’s family has lived for several generations. "It's where we are most at home and creative,” Alexi says. "There, the ocean and nearby beaches are endlessly inspiring. "So integral to the album, Shell Beach in Tomales Bay is also where the artwork photo was taken. "I love Alison’s expression-direct eye contact from the mysterious beauty... like the cover of a Martin Denny album. "Whether bringing the saxophone back into spotlight through instrumental solos and live performances, or delving deeper as they continue to explore the process of nurturing a new record as mindful as they do their own children, every step taken may be further from the start and yet, To Be A Cloud is another note closer to a reawakening of more good things to come.

                TRACK LISTING

                1. The Mist
                2. Boy Crazy
                3. In My Defense
                4. Speak For You
                5. Savanna
                6. Conversation Soon
                7. Goddess In Repose
                8. Margarita Mix
                9. Hunter
                10. Desert Flower 

                Spencer Cullum

                Spencer Cullum Coin Collection 2

                  Spencer Cullum’s Coin Collection 2 sees the Nashville-based musician step further from the pedal steel and towards centre stage. Released on the evergreen Full Time Hobby label on 14th April 2023, this new collection of tracks is a kaleidoscopic collection of folk, jazz, and pop, cut though with immaculately-rendered songwriting.

                  Romford to Nashville is hardly the most well-trodden of paths, but for Spencer Cullum it was a way of getting to the essential heart of pedal steel, what was then and remains to this day his musical raison d'être. Growing up in the large East London town brought him early exposure to classic pub rock by way of his father such as Dr. Feelgood and Thin Lizzy, and farther-flung music by way of his mother, such as Talking Heads and Lou Reed. However, it was learning pedal steel from legendary English player B. J. Cole that set him on the path he still walks today. After touring with Nashville-based groups and hearing tales of “seasoned Nashville steel players”, the young musician upped sticks and found a “nice little crowd of weirdos” in his chosen city.

                  Cullum has always maintained a somewhat silent presence - even now saying “I still want to hide behind my pedal steel in fear” - but 2020 saw him release his debut solo effort, Spencer Cullum’s Coin Collection. Despite his project with Jeremy Fetzer, Steelism, showing off more of his talents, never before had he felt the limelight so firmly on him.

                  Although …Coin Collection’s modus operandi was "a very quintessential English folk record, but with really good Nashville players”, Cullum says of ...Coin Collection 2 that “I wanted to be different. I wanted to try and pull away from wearing my influences on my sleeve… I was trying to pick out ideas that were new to me. You can never escape your musical influences but I wanted them to be more hidden sub-consciously than upfront.” Though you can pick out the odd similarity to other things here and there - The Beach Boys’ Friends LP, perhaps, or The Incredible String Band, or Joni Mitchell - the thing is decidedly Cullum’s own. What’s also reassuring is that there hasn’t been some giant sonic leap from …Coin Collection, rather that the beautifully sun-kissed, English country garden, bees-buzzing-round-lager atmosphere has remained, but complicated, weirded, deepened.

                  Much in the same way that the album doesn’t wear its influences (Amon Duul II, Skip Spence, Ennio Morricone, Chu Kosaka, Michael Chapman) lightly but rather is steeped in them and toys with them, Cullum brought in a host of guests to turn…Coin Collection 2 loose from being a purely solo effort. Yuma Abe provides fractured, low-register chorus vocals that accentuate the ever-so-slightly mournful air to ‘Kingdom Weather’, released today as a single, while Dana Gavanski provides beautiful harmony lines in ‘What A Waste Of An Echo’. Despite the number of collaborators and players (also including Rich Ruth, Erin Rae, and Caitlin Rose) things never seem too crowded or brimming with too many ideas. Instead Cullum marshalls each moving party expertly.

                  Indeed, due to Cullum’s languid Romford burr (pitched somewhere between Robert Wyatt and Ray Davies), it only becomes clear when listening closely that some of the lyrics deal with weighty themes like dementia and violence. Cullum says that “I sat for a long time with the songs and wanted to find my own identity”, and …Coin Collection 2 suggests you do the same.

                  In the same way that Cullum provides the pedal steel undertow of many huge artists’ music - Kesha, Lambchop, and more recently Angel Olsen - the genius in …Coin Collection 2 is in its subtlety, in what it murmurs rather than shouts.

                  STAFF COMMENTS

                  Barry says: A perfectly airy, drifting collection of jazzy melodies and shimmering pop choruses, produced with more than a nod to folk-rock of the 70's but with a levity and inventiveness that's very much a modern twist. There's a wonderful space between the instruments here, bringing the focus on Cullum's wonderful voice and the pure songwriting talent. Lovely.

                  TRACK LISTING

                  1. What A Waste Of An Echo (feat. Dana Gavanski)
                  2. Kingdom Weather (feat. Yuma Abe)
                  3. Green Trees
                  4. Out Of Focus
                  5. The Three Magnets (feat. Rich Ruth)
                  6. Betwixt And Between (feat. Erin Rae)
                  7. Cold Damp Valley
                  8. That Same Day Departure (feat. Caitlin Rose) 

                  Timber Timbre

                  Medicinals - 2023 Reissue

                    Previously only available direct from the artist in limited quantities, the first two Timber Timbre albums are finally coming to a record store near you.

                    Pressed to clear vinyl and limited to 1,500 copies of each title, Cedar Shakes (2005) and Medicinals (2007) show us the roots of Timber Timbre; often stark and unnerving, always cinematic and mysterious; a sound we’ve come to know and love on later albums. 

                    TRACK LISTING

                    1. Window Talk
                    2. There Is A Cure
                    3. Devil’s Dress
                    4. Like A Mountain
                    5. Beat The Dead Horse
                    6. Under Your Spell
                    7. It Comes Back To Haunt Us
                    8. Werewolf
                    9. Oh Messiah
                    10. Patron Saint Hunter 

                    Timber Timbre

                    Cedar Shakes - 2023 Reissue

                      Previously only available direct from the artist in limited quantities, the first two Timber Timbre albums are finally coming to a record store near you.

                      Pressed to clear vinyl and limited to 1,500 copies of each title, Cedar Shakes (2005) and Medicinals (2007) show us the roots of Timber Timbre; often stark and unnerving, always cinematic and mysterious; a sound we’ve come to know and love on later albums. 

                      TRACK LISTING

                      1. So Much
                      2. Home
                      3. Mercy
                      4. Cedar Shakes
                      5. As Angels Do
                      6. Black Creek Drive
                      7. It’s Only Dark
                      8. I’m A Long Way
                      9. Each Good House 

                      Macie Stewart

                      Mouth Full Of Glass

                        Mouth Full of Glass is the debut album by Chicago singer, songwriter, composer, and multi-instrumentalist Macie Stewart (She/They). Their story is one of finding solace and strength in solitude, where lush arrangements search for the meaning of self, both within and without partnership. Exploring loneliness, as well as the growth and beauty blooming from it, Macie’s inner meditations reassess their own relationships in a singular voice that could ring true to anyone.

                         “Life is a perpetual discovery of your own habits and perceptions,” Macie explains. “This record is about digging into and embracing those less favourable parts of yourself in order to shed them. The hope is always to find the most authentic self while honouring who you once were, and who you could be.”

                         Written during a period of solitude between long walks in the forest preserve by their home, noticing habitual patterns within the pages of their journal, and documenting their dreams, Macie’s experiences capture those which any one of us could feel. Inwardly forming but outwardly extending, their otherworldly observations command attention from where improvisation and composition meet. Just ask The Weather Station, Clare Rousay, or Japanese Breakfast, with whom she has toured as a multi-instrumentalist, or Iron & Wine after co-producing and performing on their EP of Laurie McKenna songs. As a string arranger, Macie draws upon years of performing classical, jazz, and Irish folk, since beginning their musical career aged 3 (as daughter of pianist Sami Scot, learning to talk was punctuated by becoming proficient on piano and violin) and she has even crafted unique arrangements for the band Whitney, SZA, V.V. Lightbody, and Knox Fortune among many others.

                         “I have always been drawn to working in partnership,” she says. “My creative world thrives when I am able to glance inside someone else’s brain and lock into a rhythm with them.” After co-founding Chicago bands Kids These Days and Marrow, Macie spent time in the avant-garde jazz scene, performing regularly at the city’s respected musical institutions Constellation and The Hungry Brain. There Macie joined with Sima Cunningham to form OHMME, and performed with Ken Vandermark’s Marker ensemble, improvised act The Few (with guitar player Steve Marquette and bassist Charlie Kirchen) and the violin/cello duo Macie Stewart & Lia Kohl. Mouth Full of Glass is the product of adopting a brave new perspective; to take a closer look in the mirror and craft an album of their very own. 

                        TRACK LISTING

                        1. Finally
                        2. Garter Snake
                        3. Mouthful Of Glass
                        4. Golden (For Mark)
                        5. Where We Live
                        6. What Will I Do
                        7. Tone Pome
                        8. Wash It Away
                        9. Defeat [CD, Digital Only]
                        10. Maya, Please 

                        The Besnard Lakes

                        The Besnard Lakes Are The Prayers For The Death Of Fame

                          Following the triumphant, epic Are the Last of the Great Thunderstorm Warnings album released in early 2021, The Besnard Lakes have announced the release to an accompanying EP – The Besnard Lakes are the Prayers for the Death of Fame.

                          The majority of the music found on …Death of Fame were recorded in some form at the same time as their 2021 double album, but have since been either re-recorded, edited, extrapolated, and straight-up psyched out. Going even further into their drone rock influences (think Pure Phase-era Spiritualized and the mellower moments White Hills’ catalogue) the band emerge as a progressive and experimental group not afraid to take things out beyond the 15 minute mark (Silver Shadows).

                          A band who are getting close to their 20 year mark continue to explore, surprise and excite us – it’s a trip, and we’re all on board.

                          TRACK LISTING

                          1. She's An Icicle
                          2. A Jacket For A Rainy Lady
                          3. Silver Shadows

                          Sylvie

                          Sylvie

                            Déjà vu is translated as “already seen” but for South California native Ben Schwab, his discovery in a small Ohio town 2000 miles from home led to an epiphany of creating the “already heard.” Unearthing a box of 1975 cassette tapes of his father’s old band, the recordings or “Sylvies” as Ben would affectionately call them later became the imprint for a familiar feeling he would end up chasing. The songs were timeless, effortless, and soulful.

                            Awakening senses to the eternal quality of hidden or lost music, Sylvie fully encompasses that very same musical lineage and spirit living in those lost yet beloved time capsules. Recorded years before by Ben’s father, John Schwab and his own band Mad Anthony in a Southern California barn, those reels spoke of a common narrative at the time; a band close to a record deal which never came, so the tapes were boxed up and stored in a closet for years to come. “Dad’s songs are straight from the heart and really shaped my taste and imagination for songwriting in a permanent way,” Ben reveals. Taking the name from one of those early recordings an obscure cover of a 70s track by Ian Matthews ‘Sylvie’ would inspire his project’s namesake and feature as the album’s only cover. “It’s an incredible song from the past but for whatever reason, is basically unknown,” Ben offers by way of an explanation. “Sylvie sounds so different from Mad Anthony, but their story is very personal and an inspiration that runs deep. I was able to translate it into something entirely different.”

                            True to Mad Anthonyʼs form and blissfully reminiscent of Laurel Canyon’s rootsy collaborative scene, Sylvie’s rolling folk rock runs a strict go with the flow policy. Inviting close friends and inspiring musical colleagues to gather and record at his own garage in Silverlake C A, Ben channels his years of writing, arranging, recording, and playing with bands Golden Daze and Drugdealer into writing and recording For release 7th June 2022 expansive original arrangements without temptation of decorative reverb/delay or pedal effects. “I aspire to write time less songs I could relate to 40 years from now,” he says. “Putting my own life experiences, friends and family into them, making Sylvie has been a spiritual pursuit.”

                            Announcing an early self titled EP on Terrible Records “A lot of the songs feel like they’re about other people’s lives, my experience with them, or a time and place in the past, ” he said at the time Sylvie features vocalists Marina Allen and Sam Burton, with Ben’s father John returning to the microphone once more to sing on ‘505’ and ‘Rosaline’. Alongside Connor Gallagher (Pedal Steel), Sam Kauffman Skloff (Drums) and JJ Kirkpatrick (Horns) Ben plays all other instruments himself but do not be surprised if, in future Sylvie expands. “I keep things loose, so I have freedom to explore. I’l l go song by song and do whatever it asks,” he says.

                            Now a fully formed album, with artwork featuring a photo captured by friend Brandon, of Ben playing the piano alone in his studio in the wee hours of night, Sylvie’s process, like each song, has grown from an increasingly personal space. ‘Shooting Star’ is a country travelling road song about a collective experience of friends together a shimmering mantra sung on camping trips up the coast, ‘Further Down The Road’ is a smooth cruise through a landscape of copper and burnt orange, and the fleetingness of time is ever present via the poignant vocals of ghostly ‘Stealing Time.’ ‘Falls On Me,’ meanwhile, reflects personal growth. “I was sorting through a decade of emotions, relationships ending, bridges burning,” Ben says of the track. “ I found myself at a place very distant from the source, repeating similar patterns, over, and over. Then you are reminded of yourself, just enough to see what it would be like to return to the source. It is about deliverance; a returning home that took me years to arrive at.”

                            Whether releasing his own limited run of tapes featuring outtakes and conversations from his phone, covering Jason Molina for Secretly Canadian’s SC25 Series, or supporting Widowspeak on tour; music may run in the Schwab family, but history is not ready to repeat itself. “I would love to make a short film around the concept of Sylvie and plan to release my dad’s Mad Anthony tape separately later this year but for now, I’ll go at my own pace to see what inspires me and run with that.” Dig for gold, you might just discover Sylvie and its lasting treasures within.

                            TRACK LISTING

                            1. Falls On Me
                            2. Sylvie
                            3. Rosaline
                            4. Further Down The Road
                            5. Shooting Star
                            6 . 50/50
                            7. Stealing Time

                            Pale Blue Eyes

                            Souvenirs

                              The PBE album is called Souvenirs because, as Lucy explains, “The songs encapsulate a few years’ worth of memories and experiences – times of change and personal sadness. The songs were an outlet for us and they now serve as souvenirs of all those times”.

                              As Pale Blue Eyes worked toward the album, Matt’s father died – the album is dedicated to the late Danny Board. Matt has endless fond memories of his father, including “when I’d wake up on a summer’s morning to the sound of dad playing a Cocteau Twins album – really loud with all the windows and doors open”. PBE built their studio adjacent to Matt’s old family home – so they could be there to help Matt’s mum through long-term illness. The album includes reflection on death and despondent times, as on the former single TV Flicker, which, perhaps surprisingly given the subject matter, became a playlisted radio smash. But Pale Blue Eyes accentuate the positive – reacting to difficult times by making an album that pulses with exhilaration, beauty and joy.

                              The album brims with a kind of elective positivity, as made clear when Matt lists the album’s themes: “Embracing good times, escapism, losing yourself in a moment of bliss when the world around you is going to shit… Processing and understanding loss and grief and using our music as a vehicle to move on… Fighting against the mundane and not giving up on dreams… The pure joy of a good night out or a moment of being moved by a band or a piece of artwork or a great film… Making the most of the time you have…” The tracks Little Gem and Globe, in particular, beam with positivity – alighting on optimism, gardening and hedonistic days in a shared student house.

                              TRACK LISTING

                              1. Globe
                              2. TV Flicker
                              3. Little Gem
                              4. Dr Pong
                              5. Honeybear
                              6. Star Vehicle
                              7. Champagne
                              8. Sing It Like We Used To
                              9. Under Northern Sky
                              10. Chelsea

                              Dana Gavanski

                              When It Comes

                                There’s something mesmerising about the fingertips of Dana Gavanski. Conducting each note with a light gracefulness, they appear to dance whilst aiding their owner in expressing the stories behind each of her lighter-than-air tones. Stories which, on her new album When It Comes, may never have been heard if not for healing ‘lost’ vocal cords and a lesson in taking the rough with the smooth.

                                “In many ways this record feels like it is my first,” Dana tells. “When I could use my voice, I had to focus so there is an urgency and greater emotional trajectory than before… it’s very connected to vocal presence, which extended into an existential questioning of my connection to music. It felt like a battle at times, which I frequently lost.”

                                Arriving where introversion and extroversion meet, When It Comes is Dana’s most vulnerable record to date. A Canadian-Serbian artist unafraid of extremes, she seamlessly blends her love of music from the 50s-70s with mythology. Led by instinct in its purest form, Dana’s latest chapter is an ode to the voice as an instrument – its power, and how intricately it can deliver words to tug at, and tie knots in, every heartstring. “Words can be taken quite literally, but to me, a lot of the time, they are pivots. They point in a direction but don’t necessarily stay there,” she says.

                                Just as Dana’s debut Yesterday Is Gone and her covers EP Wind Songs were lauded for their intimacy captured through an innate sense of melody to convey a mood, they traced a timeline of Dana’s teenage years in Vancouver, a move to Montreal and visiting family homes for kitchen talks with her “Baka” (grandma) in Belgrade / Serbia. Her latest was started in Montreal before ending in Belgrade and whilst expressive with French Yé-yé flourishes – offers something altogether more atmospheric and widescreen.

                                “Yesterday Is Gone consisted of straightforward pop songs, this album is about searching for something to excite me back into songwriting,” Dana reveals. “It’s about finding the origins of my connection to music, that tenuous but stubborn and strong link - why it draws me and what if anything, I can learn from it. The album title has a heaviness to it but also a lightness, depending on your frame of mind. It’s about being open, and letting it come whatever it is, without judgement.”

                                Recorded in London, the original ideas for the record were played out on Dana’s toy Casiotone. Returning to Capitol K’s Total Refreshment Centre (TRC) with partner James Howard, the pair co-produced the songs together and felt very much at home. “James has an effortless musicality and we work together so well. The TRC is a special place, like a community centre,” she recalls. “It’s very understated but important to the people who come through it. It’s a rehearsal space, a recording studio, and there are a handful of music studios.”

                                Opening with music box sweetness, ‘I Kiss The Night’s twinkling piano melody paves the way for the baroque Wurlitzer-like nursery rhyme of ‘Bend & Fall’ and mystical lullaby ‘Under The Sky.’ Alongside humour and caricature (‘The Reaper’), mythological romance and spirituality (‘Knowing to Trust’) and idiosyncratic carnival arpeggio grooves (‘Indigo Highway’), the squelchy staccato and subtle jazzy flecks of ‘The Day Unfolds’ and tension release of ‘Letting Go’ dazzle like bokeh in a Nick Drake haze. The autumnal hymnal of ‘Lisa’ meanwhile, was one of the first, more fictional tracks written for the record, from the viewpoint of the sea, watching the protagonist pass by day after day, offering a metaphorical reflection on the natural world around us. “We don’t realize we are surrounded by all this beauty; we’re shut up inside, rushing to get to work, buying books online without ever leaving home. It’s about focus, recognising what’s in front of you.”

                                Now planning her headline tour with an expanded 5-piece line-up and taking to the stage for the first time since touring with Porridge Radio, Damian Jurado and Chris Cohen, Dana is currently perfecting her live performance by practising a voice ever more elaborate, and perfecting those subtle hand gestures to match. “I’m so inspired by David Bowie’s performances and discovered he practised mime with Lindsay Kemp early on in his career,” she says of seeking inspiration. “I’ve done some mime classes since and it’s become good practice to go deeper into the body and be less controlled by the humility of the mind.”


                                STAFF COMMENTS

                                Barry says: There are echoes here, without a doubt of Cyrk era Cate Le Bon, in Gavanski's swooning vocal style and keen melodic ear. There are moments of brittle, thoughtful vulnerability and unease but the general, overwhelming sense is of a warm and familiar wonder. Evocative and satisfying, 'When It Comes' is a beauty.

                                TRACK LISTING

                                1. Kiss The Night
                                2. Bend Away And Fall
                                3. Letting Go
                                4. Under The Sky
                                5. The Day Unfolds
                                6. Indigo Highway
                                7. Lisa
                                8. The Reaper
                                9. Knowing To Trust

                                Silverbacks

                                Archive Material

                                  In years from now, anyone seeking to make sense of what life was like during a global pandemic should extend their research beyond the newspaper clippings and dive into the art produced during the period. Archive Material - the aptly-titled second album by Dublin-based art-rock quintet Silverbacks - will make for a particularly illuminating listen on the subject. Capturing the absurd mixture of monotony and creeping disquiet experienced by many of us this past 18 months, it’s simultaneously sobering and wickedly droll.

                                  Spend more than five minutes in the company of brothers/band founders Daniel and Kilian O’Kelly and you’ll quickly realise this playfulness is hardwired. Reminiscing about their upbringing in Brussels, they gently rib one another about their early creative abilities. “When Kilian started writing music, around the age of 14/15, it was like, oh shit, that's better than what I've been doing - maybe I should latch on to him a bit,” older brother and lead singer Daniel chuckles. “And that’s still the case,” guitarist/vocalist Kilian bats back, grinning.

                                  They laugh too recalling how - prior to the existence of streaming services - they used their dad’s extensive record collection as a lending library, much to his disapproval. “The rule in the house was [you could borrow] just one CD at a time,” Daniel explains. “It was like borrowing a book: you’d check it out for a night and then the next day he'd be immediately chasing up on the CD asking, ‘Where is it?’ And then he’d fine us.”

                                  It was via these limited loans that the pair first discovered the work of Frank Zappa, the Beatles and Miles Davis, as well as some of the records and bands that would go on to inspire their output in Silverbacks specifically. “Television’s Marquee Moon was a big one,” Daniel recalls. “Pavement’s Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain was another. And then Sonic Youth generally.”

                                  The siblings’ songwriting partnership only began in earnest when Daniel moved to Kildare to study music in 2008, with the pair swapping ideas over email under the band name Mighty Good Leaders. Two years later, Kilian joined Daniel at college in Maynooth and - after changing their name to Silverbacks - they expanded the line-up, recruiting course mates Peadar Kearney on guitar and Emma Hanlon on bass, alongside a revolving cast of drummers. This arrangement continued until 2014, when Peadar left Ireland to live in France and the band reverted back to being a bedroom project. The current incarnation of Silverbacks officially began two years later, upon Peadar’s return to Dublin, with drummer Gary Wickham completing the line-up.

                                  The five-piece’s first release together - ‘Just For A Better View’ - arrived in 2017, instantly picking up praise from an array of blogs. 2018-single, the BBC 6 Music playlisted ‘Dunkirk’ extended their audience even further, showcasing Daniel’s sardonic lyrical style as he played a man having a mid-life crisis on the site of the former battleground. As a result of the single’s success, they gigged solidly for the next two years, touring Ireland extensively, and playing shows across the UK and Europe with Girl Band, in-between working on their full-length debut, Fad.

                                  Recorded with Girl Band-bassist Daniel Fox - who the band had initially admired for his production work with Paddy Hanna - its release was initially scheduled for November 2019, before being put back to March 2020 for logistical reasons. When the music industry was derailed by the pandemic, its release was postponed indefinitely. Frustrated, the band took control and opted to put it out in July 2020, against the advice of their label. Daniel explains, “We knew it was a risk, but just for our own sanity, we just needed to get it out there and move on to the next thing.

                                  It was a leap of faith that paid off, with the Irish Times declaring the 13-track collection “seriously exciting”, DIY Magazine calling it “an excellent example of how a debut should be done” and it getting nominated for the RTE Choice Music Prize Irish Album of the Year. Not that the band hung around to revel in the acclaim: they were already hard at work on the follow-up.

                                  Archive Material only cements Silverbacks’ status as one of Ireland’s most fascinating bands. Recorded at Dublin’s Sonic Studios in November 2020, with Daniel Fox undertaking production duties once more, it finds the band leaning into their early influences, delivering idiosyncratic indie-rock packed with intricate, Tom Verlaine-esque “guitarmony”. Other reference points for the record included Neil Young, Weyes Blood and - on ‘Wear My Medals’ in particular - Bradford Cox and Cate Le Bon’s collaborative record Myths 004.

                                  Where Fad found Silverbacks focused on recapturing the live experience rather than reveling in studio experimentation, Archive Material skillfully traverses the line between the two. As a unit, they replicate that irrepressible live energy via complex arrangements incorporating everything from wistful Rhodes (‘Carshade’) to congas and Gang Of Four-style bass (‘Different Kind Of Holiday’).

                                  Thematically, the record is every bit as rich, displaying an anthropological approach as exemplified by the album’s artwork. The initial premise for ‘They Were Never Our People’ came from a YouTube comment, portraying the decline of a town that has lost its footfall as the result of a bypass. Meanwhile, ‘Central Tones’ is an empathetic character study of someone seemingly content to trade off former glories, but secretly deeply unhappy.

                                  On several songs, the pandemic functions as a particularly effective prism through which to examine ideas of community. ‘A Job Worth Something’ finds Daniel reflecting on his real-life experiences working in insurance while his sister treated patients on a COVID ward, and the feelings of futility and guilt he felt at the time. ‘Different Kind Of Holiday’ was inspired by the ways in which previously uncommunicative neighbours bonded with each other during periods of enforced confinement. Throughout, his observations arrived drenched in the same surreal strain of gallow’s humour that many of us were forced to adopt to lighten the toughest moments of the lockdown.

                                  Daniel explains, “I can't remember who it was, but I saw a musician who said that they'd be keeping away from writing anything about the pandemic, because who wants to hear about that? But I’d much rather hear about an event via someone who actually lived through it, rather than someone writing about it retrospectively.”

                                  Keenly observed and vividly rendered, Archive Material is an eye-witness account of human resilience as much as it is a compelling indie-rock record. Future historians take note.


                                  TRACK LISTING

                                  Archive Material
                                  A Job Worth Something
                                  Wear My Medals
                                  They Were Never Our People
                                  Rolodex City
                                  Different Kind Of Holiday
                                  Carshade
                                  Central Tones
                                  Recycle Culture
                                  Econymo
                                  Nothing To Write Home About
                                  I’m Wild

                                  Tunng

                                  Mother’s Daughter And Other Songs - Reissue

                                    The first Tunng album!

                                    Originally released in 2005 on the magnificent Static Caravan (VAN88V), this is the first time this beloved album has been available on vinyl since 2006. Lovingly restored from the original masters, re-cut in December 2020.

                                    Back in 2003, Sam Genders and Mike Lindsay were introduced by a mutual friend at a gig Sam was playing. Mike had a strange studio underneath a woman’s clothes shop in Soho at the time, and after some discussion, Sam asked if he could record an EP there.

                                    Mike agreed, and after a while played Sam some ideas he’d been working on, fusing his vision of electronica and acoustic paganistic folk music. He then asked Sam if he’d sing on one, and then another one…and then another one. The pair began to write songs together from this point, and became totally immersed in this new album project, which would later come to be known as Mother’s Daughter and Other Songs.

                                    Inspiration for the name “tunng” came from electronic artists Mike was into at the time – Mum, Isan, Benge. From here, the pair sent CD-Rs to labels, and Static Caravan got back immediately, signing on a handshake deal. “Tale From Black” was released on 7” in 2004 and became a favourite of John Peel’s. The album itself came out in Jan 2005 and it was from here that Tunng was made complete. Made up of friends the pair had made in London, Tunng now included Phil Winter (electronics), Ashley Bates (nylon string guitar), Becky Jacobs (vocals / melodica) and Martin Smith (sea shells, bear’s toenails, clarinet, keys). Seventeen years, a few mini world tours, a million festivals and 7 albums later the band are still making music together.

                                    STAFF COMMENTS

                                    Barry says: Well well, this long awaited gem is finally here and it honestly sounds as good as the day it came out. One of the forefathers of the 'Folktronica' movement and consistently excellent to this day, this is an absolutely essential addition to any collection. It's a definite yes from me.

                                    TRACK LISTING

                                    1. Mother’s Daughter
                                    2. People Folk
                                    3. Out The Window With The Window
                                    4. Beautiful And Light
                                    5. Tale From Black
                                    6. Song Of The Sea
                                    7. Kinky Vans
                                    8. Fair Doreen
                                    9. Code Breaker
                                    10. Surprise Me 44

                                    Esther Rose

                                    How Many Times

                                      Esther Rose was in perpetual motion when she wrote How Many Times. In the span of two years, she moved three times, navigated the end of a relationship, and began touring more than ever. The New Orleans-based singer-songwriter used that momentum while she penned her third studio album. That’s why, as the album title’s nod to the cyclical nature of life implies, there’s a rush that accompanies How Many Times as if you’re experiencing an awakening, too.

                                      “That’s how I untangle what’s on my mind, by going off for a walk into wild places. That’s what makes this album a country album,” says Rose. “It’s not really just about feeling better, it’s about feeling it, whatever it is.”
                                      If Rose used time to frame the stories on her 2019 sophomore album You Made It This Far, then she’s swapped that clock for a heart monitor on How Many Times. While some may look outward and lament over hard times and bad luck, Rose turns inward. Instead of blaming an ex for failing to juggle her reactions on “My Bad Mood,” she examines her own blind spots where she hopes to improve as a partner. When her car’s engine blew up during an impulsive “pitstop” in Nashville, she wrote “Good Time” not to rue misfortune, but to toast her own recklessness. After losing her nerve and fleeing a New Year’s Eve date by bicycle half an hour before midnight, she immediately penned “Are You Out There,” confronting her fear of letting go and moving on.

                                      With the integrity of Dean Johnson, Faustina Masigat, and Kiki Cavazos serving as primary influences, Rose expands her alt-country sound into a blossoming world of folk pop, rustic americana, and tender harmonies. “They’re the holy trinity of songwriter magic,” she says, “and when I listen to them I feel like I can explore my own heartache.” Creative touches add detail throughout the album. She uses a 1962 Gibson ES-120T, her first semi-hollow body electric guitar, to play unplugged for a distinct tone. On “Mountaintop,” she includes a blustery voice memo recorded at the summit of Mount Philo, an homage to the field recording in a Bright Eyes song she holds dear.

                                      From “Coyote Creek” to “Without You,” Rose’s compelling voice is ferried masterfully by the musicians that join her: Matt Bell on lap steel, Max Bien-Kahn on electric guitar, Dan Cutler on upright bass, Cameron Snyder on drums, and Lyle Werner on fiddle. A collection of complete takes recorded live to tape with rich instrumentation, soul-tugging hooks, and resonating vocal melodies, How Many Times carries you into the room in which it was made. There to help realize this was co-producer Ross Farbe of synthpop band Video Age, who Rose also credits for bringing a stereo pop glow to these new songs.

                                      The album opens with Rose reflecting on the mundane as she drifts around her house in How Many Times. She wrote it in a night of intentional sobriety, choosing to address directly emotions she had been avoiding until then, a theme that’s apparent throughout the record. “‘How Many Times’ shows that ‘face it’ moment: opening the fridge, staring down the bottles, opening a laptop, just bouncing around the house before you finally make room to face the pain and be with it,” she says. “I remember walking trancelike to my writing table thinking, No numbing tonight. I’m going to sit here and look at it.” From opening for Nick Lowe on tour to being asked to sing on Jack White’s new album, Rose’s journey through the past few years has been one of saying yes to new opportunities, all while nurturing and playing in bands in the New Orleans country music scene. The arrival of How Many Times is evidence of the sweeping growth Rose has undergone, both personally and artistically. 

                                      STAFF COMMENTS

                                      Barry says: There's a lot to be said for a gently strummed acoustic guitar and a well sung tune isn't there? I mean, I know i'm a big fan of both bells and whistles (maybe not *actual* whistles), but Rose presents the stripped-back country aesthetic that is perfectly accentuated by a single lap-steel or a snappy percussive wander and executes it so perfectly, it's impossible not to be drawn in.

                                      TRACK LISTING

                                      Side A
                                      How Many Times
                                      Keeps Me Running
                                      My Bad Mood
                                      Coyote Creek
                                      Good Time

                                      Side B
                                      When You Go
                                      Songs Remain
                                      Mountaintop
                                      Are You Out There
                                      Without You

                                      Bonus Dinked Edition 7”
                                      A1. Bitter Heart
                                      B1. My Jealous Mind

                                      Tunng

                                      Tunng Presents....DEAD CLUB

                                        The breadth, detail and care of Tunng’s Dead Club project is a striking thing. “It’s not just a record, it’s a discussion, it’s a podcast series, it’s poetry, it’s short stories, it’s an examination,” says the band’s Mike Lindsay. Tackling the still near-untouchable subjects - grief, loss, the act of dying, where we go, what becomes of those left behind - death is a taboo beyond all others.

                                        Around the time of Tunng’s sixth album, 2018’s Songs You Make at Night, lyricist Sam Genders found Max Porter’s novel Grief is The Thing with Feathers, and was struck by its power. Its viscerality and rawness and rage. Its beauty and love and connection. He passed Porter’s book around his band members.

                                        For months the six band members discussed the subject at length. That they are such a sizeable band, diverse in opinion and perspective, proved helpful: “When all those things come together that’s what makes it Tunng,” says Genders. “And because the subject of death is so powerful for people in different ways, we talked about the kinds of issues it might bring up, that we might need to be sensitive about.”

                                        Firstly, Dead Club is an extraordinary record; contemplative, intimate and celebratory. It includes collaborations with Max Porter, who wrote two new pieces for the album. It draws on the research the band conducted — nods to the Wari people of Brazil who eat their dead, discussions of consciousness and memory, Genders’ visit to a death cafe in Sheffield, and the Swedish art of Death Cleaning. It touches on personal loss, fear, and humour and sorrow and love.

                                        “Trying to turn this whole concept into an album, into music, without it being too sombre and difficult for people to listen to, that’s been the challenge,” says Lindsay. “We wanted it to be colourful and we wanted it to be kind of uplifting. Although some of it’s a lot darker than I was imagining it originally, I think it’s a thought-provoking and emotional journey; it doesn’t make me feel sad.”

                                        It's also a podcast series, produced by the band’s Becky Jacobs and Sam Genders, speaking to those who work in the field of death: philosophers, scientists, frontline workers, and beyond. Philosophers Alain De Botton and A.C. Grayling discuss cultural attitudes towards death, alongside palliative care physician and author Kathryn Mannix, mentalist Derren Brown, forensic anthropologist Dame Sue Black, musician Speech Debelle, and Poetry editor of the New Yorker, Kevin Young. Samples from these discussions in turn appear on the album: Brown’s voice hovers over Fatally Human, Black considers what happens after we die on The Last Day, while on A Million Colours, Ibrahim Ag Alhabib of Tinariwen speaks of the traditions around death of the Tuareg in northern Mali.

                                        There were live events planned of course, collisions of music and readings and art that the band had hoped might prompt conversations about the subject among the audience. Perhaps the hope of this project is not to commandeer grief, to explain it or provide a structure for loss, but to bring a new openness to the subject.

                                        We no longer have the religious script we once had that helped us to deal with death, Genders notes. “And I think a lot of us are struggling to know how to behave around it.” But there are skills we can learn, conversations we can have, cultural baggage we can question, to find an approach that reflects an experience that is “inherently human”, as Genders puts it. “I think in life in general there’s something very powerful in total honesty,” he says. “In being honest about all the different ways that you experience things. Because it’s nearly always the case that you discover everyone’s got the same anxieties, and the same fears, and having the same experiences. And maybe that can be powerful.”

                                        STAFF COMMENTS

                                        Barry says: Though the idea and the creative process behind 'Dead Club' is significantly different from their usual collaborative approach, it has every bit of the alt-folk charm and bracing mix of electronic and organic instrumentation we saw in 'then We Saw Land' or the brilliant 'Good Arrows'.

                                        TRACK LISTING

                                        1. Eating The Dead
                                        2. Death Is The New Sex
                                        3. SDC
                                        4. Three Birds
                                        5. A Million Colours
                                        6. Carry You
                                        7. The Last Day
                                        8. Tsunami
                                        9. Man
                                        10. Scared To Death
                                        11. Fatally Human
                                        12. Woman

                                        Aidan Knight

                                        Aidan Knight

                                          An introduction to Aidan Knight: As a songwriter, performer and producer based on Vancouver Island, Aidan has released 3 critically acclaimed albums (Versicolour, Small Reveal, and Each Other), toured with artists like Half Moon Run, Andy Shauf, James Vincent McMorrow, Villagers, Dan Mangan and more. Since the release of his 3rd LP (Each Other) he’s moved to Berlin and back, begun a home base studio for his production work, and celebrated the birth of his son with Julia, his wife and long-time creative partner) Here are his own words on the new recording, produced and recorded by Aidan: Gotta say that I thought 2020 would be a much different world to release a new record into. Not like this, but it's been 4 years since Each Other - Streaming continues to grow in influence, bands are being asked not to simply write and perform but to curate playlists, merchandise, and do their own accounting. Dystopian fiction is selling. And yet, many things haven't dramatically changed - the climate crisis continues to elude politicians, songwriters and performers who labour to create all music still haven’t seized the means of production, and I still enjoy a bowl of cereal now and then. I remember waking up in a tent after playing Glastonbury when Brexit happened in 2016. Loading-in at First Avenue in Minneapolis the night Prince died. Rescuing a hedgehog in Rotterdam after having a panic attack on stage. So many memories filed away at the time. I stopped drinking in 2017, stopped self-sabotaging and started recording new music in our 2 bedroom apartment. We moved in July of 2018 after 9 years there. Predictably, I panicked and thought about scrapping the entire record because I was extremely sad and couldn't tell anyone. Self improvement isn't always linear I suppose. You can falter and yet all's not lost. I'm sure I won't be the last singer-songwriter to mine the depths of their ennui, depression and suffering for lyrics but these 12 songs are also some of the clearest and most shameful memories I have. When you feel horribly exposed but calm singing a line for the first time, you know it's right. Domestic bliss, unrelenting loneliness, death, love, taxing the rich, new life, the splendour of nature, renovating the basement, misunderstanding your parents, gender, body negativity – Y’know, stuff that sells. In short, this is a modern record that borrows from a long history of techniques and songwriters that have inspired me. Every writer loves their newest thing, so it's redundant to say that I'm proud of these songs and think they are my best work yet. So, without further ado, I hope this music finds you healthy and ready to create a better world than it is right now

                                          TRACK LISTING

                                          1. Julia In The Garden
                                          2. La La
                                          3. Sixteen Stares
                                          4. Veni Vidi Vici
                                          5. Mary Turns The Pillow
                                          6. Slacker II
                                          7. St Kierans
                                          8. Houston TX
                                          9. Rolodex
                                          10. Renovations
                                          11. These Days

                                          Katie Von Schleicher

                                          Consummation

                                            Katie Von Schleicher doesn’t hold back. Her music, drenched in layers of warmth and fuzz, mines depression, devotion, power, and anxiety without reserve.

                                            But if channeling weighty subject matter is a constant in Von Schleicher’s music, so too is transforming that material into sonic landscapes that defy expectations. On Von Schleicher’s second record, Consummation, she blasts past the lo-fi power ballads of her debut Shitty Hits (2017) with a severe expansion of her sonic palette; its 13 shape-shifting songs depict a deeply personal exploration of trauma. The result is both potent and listenable; strange and familiar; intense and entertaining - and, perhaps most of all, teeming with life.

                                            Von Schleicher pulls the listener in from the outset. The synths and drum machines of the album opener “You Remind Me” evoke a room depressurizing, signaling a crossover into unsettling, dream-like territory. Her self-assured voice floats above the fray, her lyrics pointed: “And now I can’t confine my rage.” The following songs vary in genre and tempo, ranging from a pulsating, electronic rocker (“Brutality”) to upbeat and jagged kraut (“Wheel,” “Caged Sleep”) and a melancholic, cosmic ballad (“Gross”). There’s even a brief, haunting crooner of a track (“Strangest Thing”). What they share is lyrical concision, emotional heft, and conscientious production.

                                            Consummation is, in part, inspired by an alternate interpretation of Hitchcock’s Vertigo. In 2018, Von Schleicher rewatched the seminal film and was struck by its largely unanalyzed subtext of abuse. She knew immediately that this hidden narrative, which spoke to her personal experience, would be the basis of her next album.

                                            While writing and engineering the record, she found sanctuary in the words of other women: namely, Carmen Maria Machado’s Her Body and Other Parties, Rachel Cusk’s Outline trilogy, and Rebecca Solnit’s A Field Guide to Getting Lost. The latter proved particularly influential: Soon after revisiting Vertigo, Von Schleicher stumbled upon Solnit’s lacerating take on the film. Solnit describes the “wandering, stalking, haunting” of romantic pursuit that it depicts as “consummation,” while “real communion” - understanding and mutual respect between two lovers - is, to the men in the film, “unimaginable.” The consequence is a fundamental failure of communication. At its core, Consummation evokes the pain of being unable to bridge that vast psychic distance between oneself and another.

                                            Can love that destroys, Von Schleicher asks, be love at all? At the close of the album, it seems she’s arrived at something of an answer, at least for herself. On “Nothing Lasts,” the record’s final song, a romantic verse gives way to an anthemic, albeit fatalistic chorus - one that feels something like a sigh of relief: “Cause nothing lasts for long, nothing lasts, see it’s gone.”


                                            TRACK LISTING

                                            Side A:
                                            1. You Remind Me
                                            2. Wheel
                                            3. Nowhere
                                            4. Caged Sleep
                                            5. Messenger
                                            6. Loud

                                            Side B:
                                            1. Strangest Thing
                                            2. Can You Help?
                                            3. Brutality
                                            4. Hammer
                                            5. Power
                                            6. Gross
                                            7. Nothing Lasts

                                            Bonus 7” (DINKED EDITION ONLY)
                                            Side A
                                            1. CMWA
                                            Side B
                                            1. Display

                                            Bananagun

                                            Do Yeah

                                              There are some records that you come across that sound like you’ve discovered an unearthed gem from a previous decade; a lost moment in musical history that has cruelly been sat gathering dust in a record shop for years. From the opening seconds of Bananagun’s “Do Yeah” - which stirs to life in an intoxicating blend of 1970s afrobeat, fuzzed out psychedelia and immersive pop - this very much feels like the case of discovering something special. However, rather than being a decades old find, this track comes from a brand new Melbourne band. With the aim of merging the proto-garage rhythmic fury of The Monks with the tropicália grooves of Os Mutantes, the band soon forged a sound that was as loose and unravelling as it was focused and taut, with an aim of creating a real sense of place and environment.

                                              “We didn't want to do what everyone else was doing,” the band say. “We wanted it to be vibrant, colourful and have depth like the jungle. Like an ode to nature.” There’s a deeply percussive element to the band’s psychedelic ode to mother nature, touching upon Fela Kuti-esque repetitions, exotica, jazz and 1960s pop-rock. Much like a lot of the influences it filters into its own unique spin on it all, it’s intended as “music for the people” - a unifying groove that spans genres. Even the seemingly innocuous band name has an underlying message of connectivity that matches the universality of the music. “It’s like non-violent combat! Or the guy who does a stick up but it’s just a banana, not a gun, and he tells the authorities not to take themselves too seriously.” This extends to the underlying message of their debut single too: “try to love and not hate because you’re the one who has to carry it around.” Do Yeah 7”

                                              TRACK LISTING

                                              1. Do Yeah
                                              2. Top Cat
                                              3. Crane In The Tiger's Mouth

                                              The Saxophones

                                              Singing Desperately Suite

                                                These songs were recorded with the same team behind "Songs of the Saxophones" but after the album had been released.

                                                MOJO – “David Lynch will swoon when he hears this exercise in etiolation.”

                                                Uncut – “sparsely immersive, chiseled arrangements."

                                                There’s a beautiful, mournful atmosphere to the EP, recalling the work of Antonio Carlos Jobim, and even parallels to some of Low’s recent work (see “Always Trying to Work It Out” from their latest album as a good reference point).

                                                TRACK LISTING

                                                1. Prelude
                                                2. Singing Desperately
                                                3. Crude Advance
                                                4. You Seem Upset

                                                Gardner has been known to create swirling psychedelic pop boosted by his rich, resonate and baroque voice but on his third album, his vocals are gone and in their place is an equally seamless melodic exploration but an instrumental one, with a synthesized occult edge. Somnium is a nod to the novel of the same name, written in 1608 by Johannes Kepler and is regarded as the first ever science fiction novel. “This book fascinates me because it was basically Kepler travelling in his mind to a non-existent world while describing it, and his journey, with amazing detail.”

                                                This form of mind travel is what Jacco has set out to create in a sonic, almost alchemic, capacity. Hence the reason for his vocals being left out of this spiritual journey. “I deliberately removed my voice from the experience, as it made it more difficult for me to achieve the intended state of mind. I think it makes the journey more interesting, more deep, and more intimate. I didn’t feel the need to show my face while one drifts away into thought. Somnium is a visionary experience. The album is more than just a trip, it is about contact with a deeper – hidden – reality.” 


                                                STAFF COMMENTS

                                                Barry says: Jacco may well have got rid of the vocals, but it hasn't dampened any of the stone-cold groove he manages to eke out of his instruments. Vox or no, the swooning, psychedelic haze is strong here, and further goes to show his skills no matter the tools. A mind-bending and enthralling journey throughout.

                                                TRACK LISTING

                                                1. Rising
                                                2. Volva
                                                3. Langragian Point
                                                4. Past Navigator
                                                5. Levania
                                                6. Eclipse
                                                7. Utopos
                                                8. Rain
                                                9. Privolva
                                                10. Pale Blue Dot
                                                11. Descent
                                                12. Somnium

                                                ‘Michael Nau & The Mighty Thread’ is the follow-up to last year’s critically acclaimed album ‘Some Twist’ and its extension ‘The Load’ EP (feat. Natalie Prass).

                                                The sprawling new album was recorded in guitarist Benny Yurco’s one-bedroom apartment in downtown Burlington, Vermont. Nau and his collaborators had a cool little set up going in Yurco’s spot — drums and bass took over the bedroom, the guitar amp in the bathroom, Nau’s vocals and piano in the living room, and a vibraphone in the kitchen. It’s the first time one of Nau’s records happened all in one place, and “it feels most like a band record than ever before”. Nau and this particular group of musicians held it down together as a true team, which is why Nau named the record in their honour. The songs on this layered record sound sunny and familiar, like sharing stories and worries with a close friend on a late summer day. In a gorgeous and natural way, he contemplates his own process, those feelings of uncertainty. “Making it too hard just comes easier,” Nau croons on ‘Funny In Real Life,’ an exquisite meditation on creation and self. “Truth is such a beautiful force/And every time we find the chorus/There’s no second-guessing the real/I don’t ever know how I feel.” 


                                                STAFF COMMENTS

                                                Andy says: The Richard Hawley of Americana returns with another swoonsome collection of mellow classics-in-waiting. Superb, as ever.

                                                TRACK LISTING

                                                1. Less Than Positive
                                                2. Shadow On
                                                3. When
                                                4. What's A Loon
                                                5. Far The Far
                                                6. No Faraway Star
                                                7. Funny In Real Life
                                                8. On Ice
                                                9. Funny Wind
                                                10. Can't Take One
                                                11. Smudge

                                                The Saxophones began as the solo project of Erenkov - a project that was loosely started over a decade ago but gained full momentum and dedication in recent years - he wanted to bring in some primitive drum and percussion playing and couldn’t think of anyone more suited than his wife. “I wanted to share the band with her,” he says. “Plus, I would be devastated if I had to leave for weeks at a time to tour without her.”

                                                The songs which make up the debut album were formed and written during a period in which the pair were living on a boat during a very wet winter in the San Francisco Bay Area. “Much of the music was written over rainy mornings on acoustic guitar inside the cabin of our boat and outside of the city in a little guesthouse in Pt. Reyes,” he reflects. It was then recorded in Portland over 10 days, the recording was an intense and occasionally tense process.

                                                Taking inspiration from 1950s exotica and Hawaiian albums (Edhen Abhez, Buddy Fo, and Martin Denny), 1970s outsider Italian songwriter Vittorio Impiglia, and a host of third-stream and West coast jazz records, the result is a unique offering.

                                                TRACK LISTING

                                                1. Time Is Like A River
                                                2. Picture
                                                3. Aloha
                                                4. Singing Desperately
                                                5. Just Give Up
                                                6. Alone Again
                                                7. Work Music
                                                8. Mysteries Revealed
                                                9. Find I Forget
                                                10. Afterglow

                                                Micah P Hinson

                                                Presents The Holy Strangers

                                                Micah P. Hinson’s new album “Presents The Holy Strangers” is described by the artist as being a “modern folk opera.” Telling the story of a war time family, going from birth to love, to marriage and children, to war and betrayal, murder to suicide – spanning all of the strange and glorious places life can lead. We follow their story, we see their decisions, we see their faults and their beauty. We live with them, we die with them.

                                                Two years in the making, Micah wrote and recorded The Holy Strangers in Denison, Texas, incorporating ancient reel to reels, analogue keyboards, old Tascam and Yamaha desks. The recording only entered the digital realm once pre-mastering took place.

                                                Split across two pieces of the vinyl, the 14 tracks which make up The Holy Strangers are at times sparse and haunting; at other times luscious, maybe even euphoric. From the Johnny Cash-style country single “Lover’s Lane,” to the album’s broad, spoken-word centrepiece “Micah Book One”, The Holy Strangers covers a lot of ground over the course of its hour long running time, appealing to both long-time fans and new ones alike.

                                                TRACK LISTING

                                                1. The Temptation
                                                2. The Great Void
                                                3. Lover's Lane
                                                4. The Years Tire On
                                                5. Oh, Spaceman
                                                6. The Holy Strangers
                                                7. Micah Book One
                                                8. The War
                                                9. The Darling
                                                10. The Awakening
                                                11. The Last Song
                                                12. The Memorial Day Massacre
                                                13. The Lady From Abilene
                                                14. Come By Here

                                                Michael Nau returns with his new album, Some Twist, on Full Time Hobby. Some Twist is the follow up to 2016’s Mowing and its announcement comes amidst a flurry of recent activity. Two weeks ago, Nau debuted songs from Some Twist on KCRW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic and headlined two sold out shows on back-to-back nights in Los Angeles. He has received extensive BBC radio play and been selected as a “6 Music Recommends” pick. Oneoff single “Love Survive” cracked the top 50 on Spotify's Global Viral Chart and Elton John has played Nau on his Beats1 show.

                                                The first single from Some Twist is “Good Thing”. Bright piano and fingerpicked guitar weave together throughout the song with a chorus that swells with feedback fuzz and crashing percussion. Nau’s ever-present sense of humor, one of the hallmarks of his songwriting, gives the song a wry sense of purpose amidst its reflection.

                                                “His masterful instinct for arrangement, along with his reedy voice, earns Nau a place in the rock’n’roll underdogs’ Hall of Fame.” - Pitchfork

                                                "A beguiling debut - a warm bath of baroque pop, country and Hazlewood-like balladry" - Uncut

                                                “Recalls cadences of 1970s Ned Doheny and solo David Byrne, with a hint of Brian Wilson” - The Fader

                                                "A breezy, laid-back union between country, folk, and classic pop" The Line of Best Fit

                                                "Intimate and inviting" Q

                                                STAFF COMMENTS

                                                Andy says: This gorgeous LP was made in the heat, to be listened to in the heat. Michael Nau is an American singer-songwriter who’s previously been in a couple of bands, but went solo in 2016 with his lovely debut record, ‘Mowing’. It was all good and garnered decent praise, but ‘Some Twist’ is a brilliant progression and something you absolutely need in your life! Conjuring warm, 70s, analogue sounds in a country, folky, gently psychy style, these are supremely melodic songs, beautifully sung. Nau has the sweetest voice which glides between the fruity, deep croon of a more wistful Fred Neil and the light, flutey flightiness of a star-sailing Harry Nilson. Not bad, eh? But it's the texture of the album with its FX laden guitars, beat box grooves, echoes, horns, fuzz and static, which really entrances. You'll think you've stumbled upon a long-lost West Coast, classic LP. You have. But it's Nau!

                                                TRACK LISTING

                                                1. Good Thing
                                                2. I Root
                                                3. Wonder
                                                4. How You're So For Real
                                                5. Scumways
                                                6. Oh, You Wanna Bet?
                                                7. Waiting, Too
                                                8. Scatter
                                                9. Twelve
                                                10. The Load
                                                11. Done Wonder
                                                12. Light That Ever

                                                Newly signed to Full Time Hobby, VENN’s debut album ‘Runes’ was recorded at the Total Refreshment Centre in London, by Kristian Craig Robinson (AKA Capitol K) of The Archie Bronson Outfit and Loose Meat. Lyrically, each song occupies its own territory, while contributing to the wider thematic arc of the record. Themes of the individual existing within a moment we all share, the incredible flux of culture, the search for nodes of meaning and love, and the confrontation of ones’ own vanity and narcissism amid all this crisis. The accompanying video for first single ‘Real Blood’ was directed by photographer, Emma Gibney, and shot by editor, Mark Norgate. It is described by the band as “a visual representation of the song’s deeper meaning – of the struggle to feel real in an increasingly cold, closed culture, to remain human even when you are confronted with inhumanity”, while exploring tangential themes of mutual and reciprocal domination, if indeed such a thing exists.

                                                TRACK LISTING

                                                1. Legacy Project
                                                2. Real Blood
                                                3. Slowly Sinking
                                                4. Esalen 64
                                                5. Supernature
                                                6. A Smaller Part
                                                7. Bigger Fiction
                                                8. Dave Land
                                                9. Waxen Palm

                                                Nearly ten years since the release of Tunng's third album Good Arrows and the last time the partnership of Mike Lindsay and Sam Genders, Tunng’s founding forefathers', imagination was let loose together - comes Throws; the sound of two old friends and collaborators reconnecting, catching up on each other’s lives and creating ideas on an enchanting island.

                                                During their time apart Mike had been living in Reykjavik and Sam had moved to Sheffield; it became apparent the two friends had taken dramatically different paths in love, location, and life. Curious what they could produce second time around; with no preconceived agenda Sam packed his suitcase and joined Mike in his Reykjavik studio, in the town’s industrial old fishing harbour, with no more intentions than catching up with his old buddy.

                                                The result is something no-one, least of all them, would have expected, and breaking away from his signatory hushed tones, and a big shift in Sam’s vocal habits soon opened some surprising new doors.

                                                A brilliantly varied record that couldn’t be further from the pair’s earlier incarnation, the two have channelled all they’ve soaked up over the years into salt-swept surroundings. Through the studio’s big windows over-looking the sea, synths, old guitars and an off-key piano would bring the elements onto the record.

                                                STAFF COMMENTS

                                                Barry says: Though this is drastically different from the pair's previous incarnations (Tunng, The Accidental), there are still the ghosts of folktronica present on this release. Granted it's more 'tronica now, and definitely less folk, the heartwarming northern vocals remain. Much more outgoing stylistically, and much more instrumentally focused, the vocals are not a focus as much as the glittering synths, walking distorted bass and clanging drums. 'Throws' has elements of indie, electronica and (dare I say it) even disco! A step out of the comfort zone here, but all the better for it. Fresh, interesting and funky.

                                                TRACK LISTING

                                                1: The Harbour
                                                2: Punch Drunk Sober
                                                3: Silence In Between
                                                4: High Pressure Front
                                                5: Knife
                                                6: Sun Gun
                                                7: Bask
                                                8: Play The Part
                                                9: Learn Something
                                                10: Under The Ice

                                                Since 2010, Vancouver artist Christopher Smith had carved a notable space in his native Canada for his exquisitely rendered, emotionally bold music, over the course of two solo albums. In a great leap forward, he’s now fronting the five-piece Dralms, which is making inroads overseas with their first European shows and now a towering debut album. Shook is defined by its hypnotic, rich and simmering heart of darkness, its contents are as provocatively elusive as the band’s name, yet there are lyrical clues to draw you in. Beneath the music’s deceptively unruffled and dreamy exterior are viscous eddies, which can turn into dangerous riptides when the tension is unleashed.

                                                The sound of Dralms, says Smith, “is an assemblage of different inspirations. But it’s hard articulating what the influences are.” In search of comparisons, reviewers have referenced the likes of Talk Talk, Radiohead, The Antlers, Pink Floyd and Spiritualized, but they can only hint at the indeterminable quality Dralms can have.

                                                Shook is a world of emotions and extremes, a compelling and seductive missive, that might reveal itself to be one of 2015’s most unique.

                                                TRACK LISTING

                                                1: Usage
                                                2: Pillars & Pyre
                                                3: Domino House
                                                4: Divisions Of Labour
                                                5: Shook
                                                6: My Heart Is In The Right Place
                                                7: Objects Of Affection
                                                8: Wholly Present
                                                9: Gang Of Pricks
                                                10: Crushed Pleats

                                                Bonus Disc:
                                                1. The Pits
                                                2. A Slum Of Legs
                                                3. If I Had A Heart
                                                4. Crushed Pleats (V.E.N.N. RMX)

                                                Its meaning may refer to a fear of sleep, but with Hypnophobia, the brand new album from the baroque pop prince and Dutch producer/multi-instrumentalist, Jacco Gardner’s all set to cast a majestic and vibrant psychedelic spell that will hypnotize listeners at the point dreams and reality meet. Since unveiling his Cabinet of Curiosities in 2013 (released on the Trouble In Mind label), tastemakers and fans alike have been drawn deeper into Jacco Gardner’s fantastical fairytale kingdom.

                                                Hypnophobia captures a true sense of exploration, combining Gardner’s newfound love of travel with his continued passion for collecting and playing vintage instruments. The album features a Wurlitzer electric piano, waltzing alongside mellotrons, harpsichords, an Optigan, and an antique Steinway upright piano. It’s a stunning exhibit of lush instrumental tracks as well as songs that boast lyrics worthy of any great pop number. Fusing fantasy with sublime twisted reality, Hypnophobia was recorded in its entirety at Gardner’s Shadow Studio.

                                                For most tradition enthusiasts, it’d be all too easy to rehash the past. But that’s where Jacco Gardner’s differences lie. Playing all instruments except for drums, Hypnophobia brilliantly captures a unique artist and future-vintage aficionado operating at a far higher state of consciousness.

                                                TRACK LISTING

                                                1. Another You
                                                2. Grey Lanes
                                                3. Brightly
                                                4. Find Yourself
                                                5. Face To Face
                                                6. Outside Forever
                                                7. Before The Dawn
                                                8. Hypnophobia
                                                9. Make Me See
                                                10. All Over

                                                When songwriter and producer Sam Genders last donned his Diagrams hat, captive listeners found themselves truly stunned by the Streatham Hill artist’s imaginative and inventive arrangements that made up 2012's debut album Black Light. Having now upped sticks from his London lodgings and settled in Sheffield with a new lease of life and wife, fresh pastures and friendships are what form the heart of Diagrams’ brand new album Chromatics.

                                                “Relationships are a constant thread. In all their frustrating, exciting, mundane, beautiful, wonderful, sexy, scary glory,” reveals Genders of the album’s themes." Whilst Black Light fizzed with electronic effects, synth-bass, programmed beats and low-key funk grooves that brought about comparisons to the leftfield pop of Arthur Russell, Metronomy, Steve Mason and Hot Chip, it’s without doubt that Genders’ next offering falls closer to home comforts and marks the next step in Genders’ renaissance. Take lead track ‘Phantom Power’; it’s the track which truly sums up what it’s like to find yourself forever reassessing. “It's about feeling like you're losing a grip on your sanity at one moment, then feeling inspired and up for anything the next. Or frustration with yourself yet believing that it's possible to sort yourself out,” explains Genders.

                                                TRACK LISTING

                                                Vinyl / CD Disc 1 
                                                1: Phantom Power
                                                2: Gentle Morning Song
                                                3: Desolation
                                                4: Chromatics
                                                5: You Can Talk To Me
                                                6: Shapes
                                                7: Dirty Broken Bliss
                                                8: Serpent
                                                9: The Light And The Noise
                                                10: Brain
                                                11: Just A Hair's Breadth

                                                Disc 2 (CD Only)
                                                1: Phantom Power (Instrumental)
                                                2: Gentle Morning Song (Instrumental)
                                                3: Desolation (Instrumental)
                                                4: Chromatics (Instrumental)
                                                5: You Can Talk To Me (Instrumental)
                                                6: Shapes (Instrumental)
                                                7: Dirty Broken Bliss (Instrumental)
                                                8: Serpent (Instrumental)
                                                9: The Light And The Noise (Instrumental)
                                                10: Brain (Instrumental)
                                                11: Just A Hair's Breadth (Instrumental)

                                                Highly anticipated debut album from British-born, Berlin-based James Welch aka Seams. Welch recorded the LP across four different areas of Berlin and the city’s influence is apparent in ‘Quarters’ minimal beats and focus on rhythm over melody. Drawing influences from The Field's hyperactive sample work on tracks like "ClapOne", and the global grooves of Gold Panda on "Constants", Welch has nestled this record perfectly into the realm of leftfield techno, whilst providing a style that remains unique. "Iceblerg" is built out of intense synth sounds, but retains a playful spirit and clarity through it jaunty rhythm. Both CD and LP are presented beautifully on reverse board with a double hit of high-build gloss UV varnish to bring out the gold quarters. The deluxe heavyweight vinyl pressing comes with download code.


                                                TRACK LISTING

                                                ClapOne
                                                Constants
                                                Pocket
                                                Sitcom Apartment
                                                Iceblerg
                                                Hurry Guests
                                                Rilo
                                                TXL

                                                Fifth studio album from experimental 6-piece Tunng.

                                                Despite various changes in the band’s set-up - including frontman Mike Lindsay’s relocation to Iceland where he recorded last year’s acclaimed ‘Cheek Mountain Thief’ solo album - there’s a togetherness to the album. Recorded mainly in Dorset, this is the first Tunng album where all members were present at each stage of the process.

                                                Becky Jacobs shares lead vocals with Mike, and they are joined by an eclectic array of instruments and vintage equipment resulting in a rich, colourful record.

                                                TRACK LISTING

                                                Once
                                                Trip Trap
                                                By This
                                                The Village
                                                Bloodlines
                                                Follow Follow
                                                So Far From Here
                                                Embers
                                                Heavy Rock Warning

                                                Self-titled album from new Transatlantic duo Omega Male, comprised of David Best (Fujiya & Miyagi) and Sammy Rubin (Project Jenny, Project Jan).

                                                Ten rump-shaking electronic tracks which combine Best’s trademark hushed vocals with pulsating funk-led basslines.

                                                As well as exploring notions of masculinity and what it means to be an ‘Omega Male’, evident on such songs as lead single ‘Testosterone’, Best’s darkly witty lyrics also cover subject matter as diverse as the coalition government (‘Blue Narcissus’) and voodoo dolls (‘Wax & Glue’).

                                                TRACK LISTING

                                                Omega Male
                                                Testosterone
                                                Uh-pol-uh-jet-ik
                                                You Bore Me To Tears
                                                Wax & Glue
                                                Blue Narcissus
                                                No
                                                Rotten Fruit
                                                X
                                                Buildings Like Symphonies

                                                The first release from Danish quartet Pinkunoizu on Full Time Hobby, 'PEEP EP' displays the band’s eclectic range of influences; from 60s psychedelia to Moroccan trance to kraut rock to brooding acoustic folk. Will appeal to fans of Animal Collective, The Flaming Lips, Akron/Family and Black Mountain.

                                                TRACK LISTING

                                                1. Time Is Like A Melody
                                                2. Everything Is Broken Or Stolen
                                                3. Dairy Queen

                                                Tunng

                                                Comments Of The Inner Chorus

                                                  Tunng's second LP, has been eagerly awaited round these parts and they haven't let us down. Twelve more expertly crafted wonky folk songs that have been trussed up in harp strings, super-charged with electronic pulses and spliced with a sampler. Truly they embrace all the good things on offer to open minded musicians, quasi-traditional songs laced with meditative accoustic lines and a pulsing mechanic undercurrent. Tunng deftly unite numerous eccentric elements without causing chaos, plodding melodically through a fairy lit magical underground.

                                                  Viva Voce

                                                  Get Yr Blood Sucked Out

                                                    Two years on from their debut, this cool-as-you-like husband and wife duo from Portland are letting us into their groovy, spaced-out world for a second time. It's all about the vibe, so stoned riffs and campfire jams chug along with half-there melodies which recall a damaged Monkees or wonky Beach Boys. There's plenty of overdubs and soundscapes going on, whilst the bass-lines are surprisingly fat. This is sixties, acoustic-based, freed-up music, but with shades of the Flaming Lips or (zonked-out) Pixies and a whiff of folkiness, there's a timeliness that comes with being Tunng's lablemates. It's happening, man!


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