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Sir Was

Holding On To A Dream

    The new album from Joel Wästberg a.k.a sir Was, “Holding on To a Dream”, is a mesmerising twisting of genres - from classic soul and old-school hip-hop, to beautifully fresh pop structures. The new record is dense with ideas and adventurous, a sonic-leap forth. “I was interested in having a lusher sound, more rich,” Wästberg says. “With the first record I had this idea that I wanted it to sound like an old vinyl record. I wanted this lo-fi, old-school sound. When I realized that I was actually making another album, I felt a bit scared of the whole thing, but it didn’t take me that long to realise that the only thing I could do was to make something that felt really right in my body and soul. I’ve realised that there’s nothing to be afraid of. I’m ready to explore so much more.”

    The sense of exploration resonates throughout the record and can be defined by its start and end points. Opening track ‘Fly Away’ begins the expedition, a gleaming reflection of past insecurities as a jump-off point for the next chapter, all subtle beats and stark bursts of guitars that leap out of the mix. Elsewhere, ‘No Giving Up’ is a tender recollection of a past relationship, set to an equally affectionate composition, a glowing example of Wästberg’s growing songwriting skills, while ‘The Sun Will Shine’ showcases another side of Joel’s skillset, a playful production full of inspired ideas and nuances; a Les Fleurseque mellow breeze in the heat of the summer.

    The record’s boldest moment is reserved for ‘Deployed’, a collaboration with Little Dragon’s Yukimi Nagano. “Me and Little Dragon go way back. I’ve been hanging out with them for many years, and they were very supportive with my first album,” Wästberg explains. “I remember that Yukimi was always asking me if I was making my own music. One day I was working in my small studio room, and Little Dragon were one floor up. Yukimi knocked on the door and asked if she could listen. I played her some of my songs and she said, “This is great, go out and talk to the world!”. That was before my first album. So having Little Dragon as a feature here makes so much sense.” Beautifully bright and sincere, ’Deployed’ is a perhaps the most vivid pop song that sir Was has released to-date. A heartfelt accounting of relationships, of knowing when to let go and when to fight for them, ‘Holding On To A Dream’, is a dreamy, groovy, lustrous treat of a record. 

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    Coloured LP Info: Indies exclusive limited edition 180g transparent orange vinyl.

    Coloured LP includes MP3 Download Code.

    LP Info: 180g black vinyl.

    LP includes MP3 Download Code.

    Francis Lung

    A Dream Is U

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      by tom johnson.

      FORMAT INFORMATION

      Coloured LP Info: Indie Exclusive – Limited Edition Pink LP (180 gram).

      School Of Language

      45

        School of Language is David Brewis, who also makes music with his brother Peter as Field Music. This is the third School of Language album, following on from Sea From Shore in 2008 and Old Fears in 2014.

        This is an album about Donald Trump - his dubious rise in politics, his capricious behaviour while in office and the motley cast of characters he has surrounded himself with.

        It’s not exactly a protest record, though it is shot through with anger. It’s definitely not a joke, though some of it is darkly funny. It is a tragedy and it is a farce. The songs are sung from different points of view, almost as if it’s a Donald Trump funk musical. One advisor sells Trump on the idea of a border wall. Another one feels he can’t quit because of the chaos that might follow. Rex Tillerson fumes at his plummeting status. Psychiatrists fret about the President’s mental stability. Hillary Clinton laments her loss. Trump himself brags and equivocates in his own unique, blustering style.

        45 was written and recorded in a little less than two months during gaps in the schedule at Field Music’s studio in Sunderland. It was inspired by Bob Woodward’s book Fear, articles in the Washington Post, The New Yorker and The New York Times and by Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight. It was also inspired by James Brown, Sly and the Family Stone, The Meters, Otis Redding and Free.

        FORMAT INFORMATION

        Coloured LP Info: Indies exclusive limited edition yellow vinyl.

        Coloured LP includes MP3 Download Code.

        Jesca Hoop

        Stonechild

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

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

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

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

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

          STAFF COMMENTS

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

          FORMAT INFORMATION

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

          Dinked Edition LP includes MP3 Download Code.

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

          Coloured LP includes MP3 Download Code.

          Recorded at Glasgow’s thriving Green Door Studio with Ronan Fay (also guitarist of ascendant Scottish rockers Sweaty Palms), the EP’s six tracks follow the proud lineage of art-rock from both sides of the pond. Mush cite Pavement, Sonic Youth, Television and The Fall as their primary influences: “fundamentally we identify as music fans as much as artists. I write music that I want to hear for my own enjoyment,” says vocalist / guitarist Dan Hyndman. “I’ve always admired people who can create visceral and inspiring art without carrying on as some transcendent being. Having your influences on your sleeve and being open is just an extension of that.” There’s both consolidation and progression at play on Induction Party. The four-piece - Hyndman, guitarist Steve Tyson, bassist Nick Grant and drummer Phil Porter – are now cemented as more of a song writing entity than the “noise project” they would describe their early incarnation.

          Mush have idiosyncrasies all of their own and Induction Party is far more than an endearing homage to the bands listed above. Hyndman’s excitable half-sung, half-yelped vocal snipes and lolls around each song as though sometimes even he doesn’t know where the melody’s going to go next. There’s a sense that not a second of music’s been wasted, a refinement in the band’s song writing process that means nothing clocks in at over four minutes. On "Litvinenko" and Induction Party they prove themselves truly as a product of our time.

          FORMAT INFORMATION

          Mini LP includes MP3 Download Code.

          Rozi Plain has been making music since her brother taught her a few chords on the guitar aged 13. Raised in Winchester, she spent a few years studying art and painting boats in Bristol, where she began collaborating with long-term friends Kate Stables (This Is The Kit) and Rachael Dadd among many others on a thriving local scene. It was there that Rozi made her first two albums, 2008’s Inside Over Here and 2012’s Joined Sometimes Unjoined, each works of deliciously sad and beautiful pop full of heart-wrenching harmonies dotted with unexpected instrumental flourishes. Released in April 2015 on Lost Map and featuring contributions from Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor among others her last album Friend was a deeply meaningful and wonderfully measured ode to memory, place, companionship and music’s remarkable power as an emotional salve. A companion album of remixes, unreleased tracks and radio sessions, Friend Of A Friend, was released in 2016.


          STAFF COMMENTS

          Martin says: Rozi Plain's distinctive, gentle delivery is the glue that binds this follow up to the sublime "Friends" together - it's a fuller, more coherent release than it's predecessor and no less gorgeous.

          FORMAT INFORMATION

          Dinked Edition LP Info: Glow in the dark vinyl (same colour as indies-only version).
          Exclusive alternate glow in the dark screen-printed cover.
          Numbered.
          Signed.
          Very limited 300 pressing.

          Dinked Edition LP includes MP3 Download Code.

          Coloured LP Info: Glow in the dark vinyl.

          Coloured LP includes MP3 Download Code.

          LP includes MP3 Download Code.

          Malihini

          Hopefully, Again

            Malihini may mean ‘newcomers’ in Hawaiian, but Rome-based duo Giampaolo Speziale and Federica Caiozzo deal exclusively in the music of lived experience and time-honed emotional intelligence, their disarming musical universe never less than distinctive, yet resonating with a confessional, modern European pop sophistication of a kind elsewhere purveyed by the likes of Charlotte Gainsbourg, Jose Gonzalez and Our Broken Garden. Listening to the ten co-written songs that grace Malihini’s exquisite debut album, Hopefully, Again, can sometimes feel like eavesdropping on a couple’s intimate emotional dialogues, such is the ingenuous honesty of the duo’s writing. Yet combined with their minimal, yet opulently textured arrangements (“classic song writing matched with pared-down electronics”, according to Clash), crammed with subtle melodic hooks and an embarrassment of earworm choruses, they transform the personal into the universal with a delightfully unforced eloquence. The bulk of the writing for Hopefully, Again took place during an extended retreat on the Aeolian island of Vulcano, off the coast of Sicily. Images and atmospheres of the sea and ‘blueness’ duly permeate the album’s leanly arranged songs. Swapping these idyllic environs for Mid Wales, specifically the remote Giant Wafer studio in Powys (“it was just us and a few sheep and chickens”, recalls Speziale), the album was recorded quickly, with the duo playing most of the instruments live, abetted once again by producer Richard Formby and long-term drumming amico Alberto Paone.

            FORMAT INFORMATION

            Coloured LP Info: Limited edition indies exclusive orange vinyl.

            Coloured LP includes MP3 Download Code.

            “If there was a mission it was to create something like absurd office funk,” says Stats’ Ed Seed, recalling the birth of his band. He was working a series of banal London office jobs, but rather than switch off or despair, Seed used this conventionally sterile backdrop for creative inspiration. “It was about taking things that are considered boring or are overlooked,” he says. “If you stare at anything long enough, it becomes weird.”

            Staring into the infinite oddness of office life was interrupted when Seed “fluked” his way into La Roux’s band - which itself proved a further inspiration for the evolution of Stats. “I'd always been in scrappy indie bands,” he recalls. “Then I met Elly and her crew and thought ‘wow’. This kind of pop music, I always thought it only happened over in Hammersmith, you had to have tens of thousands of pounds and a major label. But I realised you didn’t need a huge budget to make something more stylish than your average band.”

            This was a turning point for Seed, recognising he could create his own contemporary version of DIY art pop. “That gave me confidence,” he reflects. “I wanted Stats to be quite theatrical. I wanted it to be strangely glamorous, in a Roxy Music or Pet Shop Boys sort of way. Something that’s glamorous and quite silly. Those bands are very serious about being very silly.”

            Debut album “Other People’s Lives”, recorded at RAK studios with the full Stats band (Ed Seed – vox, guitar, John Barrett -drums, Stu Barter - bass, Duncan Brown - guitar, Nicole Robson – keyboards, Iso Waller-Bridge – keyboards, vox) is about investigating the gaps in the stories we tell about our lives. Says Ed, “the world encourages me to experience my life as a narrative: a story in which I am the lead character, going on a journey, moving towards the discovery and realisation of an authentic self. Other people’s lives are presented to me as coherent, relatable stories, full of passion and travel and wonder. But my story makes no sense: it is full of contradictions and formless subplots, and I barely feel like the same actor from one day to the next - let alone find any meaning in it.”

            Musically Other People’s Lives is in many ways a time-stamp of a record, something that captures the now, the fleeting, the fickle and the forgotten – like that perfect moment lost on the dance floor. Yet the album avoids being tied to a time and place, ricocheting between 70s art rock, 80s synth grooves and cosmic disco, presented honestly and experimentally via the all-encompassing prism of pop music.


            STAFF COMMENTS

            Patrick says: Duncan from Dutch Uncles hipped me to Stats a few months back (Memphis Industries fam innit), and I was on board instantly. Following the same absurdist pop route as Fujiya & Miyagi or Yacht, but with a touch of Roxy Music glamour, some Talking Heads vocal nods and a whole lot of DFA-style indie dance grooving, Stats are 2019's answer to Hot Chip, Metronomy and Holy Ghost.

            FORMAT INFORMATION

            Coloured LP Info: Indies exclusive limited edition neon pink vinyl.

            Coloured LP includes MP3 Download Code.

            LP includes MP3 Download Code.

            You Tell Me is Field Music’s Peter Brewis and Admiral Fallow member Sarah Hayes. As one half of Field Music, Peter Brewis has been honing the craft of pop songwriting for almost fifteen years, whilst Sarah Hayes has been exploring contemporary folk in her solo work, and the world of indie-pop via her band Admiral Fallow. Their debut self-titled album, the last to be recorded at the old Field Music recording HQ, is set to be released in January on Memphis Industries.

            After meeting at a Kate Bush celebration concert, the pair clicked. “I'd been an admirer of Field Music for a good while before meeting Peter at the gig,” Sarah recalls. “So I was pleased to discover he wasn't an insufferable diva, and delighted that he was keen to try working on some music together.” Peter had been “blown away” by Sarah’s voice during a rendition of “This Woman’s Work” and when investigating her solo work heard a lot of parallels to what he was trying to do in Field Music.

            By blending their distinct compositional talents, they’ve created a record that possesses their own clear styles but also a new voice too. With both of them writing songs and lyrics, Peter describes it as “a sort of dual-personal record”. Sonically, the result is a subtly crafted album with a rich and intricate sense of composition, in which strings glide above multi-layered keyboards and percussion, and vocal melodies wrap around one another in snug unison. In many senses it feels like a classic songwriter record - rich in craft, songs, arrangements and vocal interplay - yet it manages to feel stylistically contemporary and void of nostalgia.

            Lyrically, Peter says, “most of the songs seemed to either be about conversations, be conversational or about talking or not talking.” Sarah echoes this: “the subject of communication - talking and listening, guessing and questioning - looms large on this record and in general for me. It's something I think about a lot.” Which makes sense given that this record is fundamentally a musical conversation between two new collaborators and friends, a constant back and forth of new ideas, shared influences and the expunging of inner feelings.

            Whilst the subject matter can occasionally be personal and explores troubled or conflicted conversations around inner turmoil, there’s also a stirring sense of beauty that comes from the record; a feeling of pastures new and moving onto new things rather than being held back by the past. What makes this an even more remarkable musical statement and achievement is that two first-time collaborators were able to channel so much of themselves into a project and create something coherent and poised.

            Pleasureland is the newest work from Canadian-born artist Haley McCallum, known professionally as Haley Bonar for the past 15 years. In 2017, she changed her surname to reflect her maternal family name, now performing under thename HALEY.Stark, minimalist, and melodically entrancing, Pleasureland stands in a class entirely of its own, forging new but not unfamiliar ground for the Minnesota-based artist HALEY.

            Harkening back to her 2011 release Golder, which featured two instrumental tracks, McCallum has taken the instrumental concept a few steps further in a bold musical statement which features no vocals. This time, McCallum’s musicianship and artistry take the lead. Transitioning from the erratic, synth-driven intro of "Credit Forever Part 1" into the deeply enchanting "Give Yourself Away", which blends piano melodies in the style of French Romanticism with the production stylings of Brian Eno to build a sonic landscape which is as lovely as it is uneasy.

            In the stoner-metal burner "Syrup", McCallum’s lead guitar swaggers lazily over a fuzzed out, intense layer of distortion, featuring long-time collaborator and guitar wunderkind Jeremy Ylvisaker and Low's Steve Garrington on bass. The intimate and devastating "Pig Latin" showcases McCallum’s extraordinary gift for melody, carried by world class saxophonist Mike Lewis (Happy Apple, Bon Iver), tracked live in Haley's bedroom.

            Mixed by Shuta Shinoda (Anna Meredith, Ghostpoet), McCallum’s production shines through in a new light. Sparsely interlacing the organic and digital, Pleasureland moves through the gamut of grief, perception, and empowerment, eliciting both the uneasiness of a world shifting unexpectedly as well as the innate capacity for goodness and beauty. Here, McCallum displays her long time mastery of simple and haunting melodies that remain with the listener long after, replacing explanation through words with a pallet of sonic exploration wrapped up into just twenty-seven minutes.

            FORMAT INFORMATION

            Coloured LP 2 Info: White vinyl edition.

            Leeds-based Menace Beach return with news of their third album 'Black Rainbow Sound', which is due out August 31st via Memphis Industries.
            New album Black Rainbow Sound is the band's first new material since early 2017’s Lemon Memory, and after a self-imposed break from tour duties, the album exhibits a profound shift in their sound, whilst still mainlining the blasts of noise, visceral power, and timeless pop songsmithery of their previous releases.

            Unlike the bands previous records, Black Rainbow Sound came to life in the bands studio, where Liza Violet and Ryan Needham built dense late-night orchestrations from drum machines, synthesizers, loops and guitar noise, before being ripped apart and reimagined by the full Menace Beach cast at The Nave studio in Leeds with co-producer Matt Peel (Eagulls).

            Never ones to shy away from an intriguing collaboration, Black Rainbow Sound contains songs featuring Brix Smith of The Fall, and Brix and the Extricated. “The synchronicity of the universe just forced us and Brix together. The very day l finished reading her biography she played us on her BBC 6music show along with a wonderfully out-there monologue of how the song made her feel. I said thanks, we got chatting and it went from there. She’s a burning comet of positive energy”.

            On Black Rainbow Sound, Menace Beach continue to explore their own unique aesthetic, venturing much further into a colourful world of bizzaro no-wave analogue synths and static drenched electronic euphoria, which they have been circling for some time.

            Lustrous, dizzying, and bursting with cacophonous vintage electronics - the sounds on Black Rainbow Sound act as an otherworldly backdrop for the album's enigmatic lyrics to play out. Celestial conversations, night terrors, love, anti-love, good vs evil, light vs dark, friendly crows, death, depression, and teenage tongues and are all here to absorb; the more introspective topics often hidden in plain sight atop celebratory choruses, and melodic hooks.

            STAFF COMMENTS

            Barry says: Menace Beach go all cosmic on their latest, 'Black Rainbow Sound'. We get clicking CR-78's, throbbing distorted bass and blipping, sample & hold sine waves enriched with heavy guitars and woozy, shimmering vox. Properly lovely.

            FORMAT INFORMATION

            Coloured LP Info: Limited edition white coloured vinyl.

            Coloured LP includes MP3 Download Code.

            Indies Exclusive LP Info: Indie exclusive limited edition white coloured vinyl. ALSO INCLUDES A HAND-PRINTED (BY THE BAND) SCREEN PRINT.

            LP includes MP3 Download Code.

            Slug return with a brand new album, ‘HiggledyPiggledy’, through Memphis Industries.

            Slug is the nom de plume of North East native Ian Black and, whereas acclaimed debut album ‘Ripe’ was made in collaboration with Peter Brewis and David Brewis of Field Music, ‘HiggledyPiggledy’ was composed, produced and played entirely by Black, enabling him to give free reign to his beguiling brand of Dada-rock.

            Lead track ‘No Heavy Petting’ was consciously written to be an aggressive album opener, which pokes fun at Black’s own Mary Whitehouse-esque response to the sexualisation of music on television.

            The album was inspired by a combination of The Residents, John Carpenter and the soundtracks of Don Cherry (particularly ‘Holy Mountain’) and Masahiko Sato (particularly ‘Belladonna’) plus the Dada art movement which will be self-evident to anyone who’s seen the hilarious and life affirming Slug live experience, replete with ever changing stage wear (snooker players, sailors, 50s jazz combo) and spontaneous crowd participation.

            Black intended ‘HiggledyPiggledy’ to be a more minimal affair than debut ‘Ripe’, focussed more on rhythm and percussion. Thematically the record was written against the backdrop of political turmoil but really it’s about the strange life Black leads in his native Sunderland, an autodidact outsider living his life in Wetherspoons arguing with some of the questionable attitudes of locals. Blacks stated aim to “have fun writing truly horrible lyrics,” playing characters “venting in pubs, writing in the character of how some people think and behave.”

            Barbarossa

            Lier

              Since the release of his last record, ‘Imager’, in 2015, a lot has changed for London-born James Mathé AKA Barbarossa. Most importantly, he’s become a father for the first time and made the hugely liberating move from London, the city that had for so long defined him and his sound, to Margate.

              ‘Lier’, Mathé’s brand new album, is the perfect sonic story to accompany these big life changes and as a result, his most personal record to date. Across the 10 tracks, ‘Lier’ is a hugely uplifting and cathartic record that takes you from the depths of his intricate and wonderful creative mind to the wider wonderful emotions that come with becoming a father.

              Picking up where 2015’s ‘Imager’ left off, ‘Lier’ is further electronic wizardry from Barbarossa - one of the UK’s finest song writing talents. This time, his vocal is at the forefront on some of the most accessible pop songs he’s ever written.

              ‘Don’t Enter Fear’ is the perfect way to introduce the record. Written on the piano in his parent’s house, it encapsulates everything that the whole album represents and is ultimately a reminder to himself not to be scared of the seismic changes in both his own life and the political world around him.

              ‘Lier’ was written and recorded with Mathé’s producer friend Ghost Culture in Margate with percussion and drumming skills supplied by Joel Wästberg AKA Sir Was and artwork by fellow Margate dweller Tom Vek. The album is focused on the theme of geographic and personal change - ‘Cyclone’, the album opener for example, focuses on the move from city to sea and the calm and space that can bring, whilst album title track ‘Lier’ was inspired by swimming in the Walpole Bay tidal pool.

              Inspiration comes from everywhere - ‘Aluminium Skies’ was written in Gothenburg, Sweden whilst James was on the road with José Gonzalez (he plays in the José Gonzalez live band), whilst ‘Thickening Air’ was inspired by the classic songwriters that Mathé obsesses over - Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Brian Wilson and Joni Mitchell.

              What unites the songs on ‘Lier’ are central themes of loss, love and confronting who you are as time moves on and things change within and out of your control. By the end of the record you are left with the feeling that when things are simplified, they are at their most beautiful.

              The two years since Commontime have been strange and turbulent. If you thought the world made some kind of sense, you may have questioned yourself a few times in the past two years. And that questioning, that erosion of faith - in people, in institutions, in shared experience - runs through every song on the new Field Music album.

              But there's no gloom here. For Peter and David Brewis, playing together in their small riverside studio has been a joyful exorcism. Open Here is the last in a run of five albums made at the studio, an unprepossessing unit on a light industrial estate in Sunderland. Whilst the brothers weren't quite tracking while the wrecking balls came, the eviction notice received in early 2017 gave them a sense of urgency in the recording of Open Here.

              There probably won't be many other rock records this year, or any year, which feature quite so much flute and flugelhorn (alongside the saxophones, string quartet and junk box percussion). But somehow or other, it comes together. Over thirteen years and six albums, Field Music have managed to carve a niche where all of these sounds can find a place; a place where pop music can be as voracious as it wants to be.

              STAFF COMMENTS

              Barry says: Oh Field music, will your jagged chords and thumping, percussive oddness never grow weary? Apparently not, because here we have another outing that hasn't been off the shop stereo since we got the promo a few weeks back. We're all still enamoured here, and you will be too.

              Nadine

              Oh My

                Here to remind us that music is not just an audible experience, Minneapolis/New York’s Nadine make melodies that transcend acoustics. Their debut album oh my is collection of sophisticated modern pop songs that resonate in the gaps, the space between deadlines and timelines.

                More akin to poetry set to music, Nadine is all about exploring feeling. Whilst most poets revel in the personal, Nadine's process is collaborative whose core is singer Nadia Hulett (part of the loose collective Phantom Posse) and Julian Fader and Carlos Hernandez (both of Ava Luna). The trio's practice is marked by their commitment to playfulness, curiosity, and fluidity.

                Nadine's songs have one foot standing firm in pop, but ebb and flow with exploration and experiment. Polyphonic melodies swing and gambol, instrumental layers take generous flourishes and unexpected turns with an ear to the wondrous and occasionally weird, crafting jazz-tinged lounge-pop all held together by Hulett’s characteristic vocals, strong with a sincerity and gentleness that holds the listener. Let go of old ideas. Listen for tricks of the light. What does it feel like?

                Manchester’s idiosyncratic art-popologists Dutch Uncles return with Big Balloon, their new studio album, on 17th February 2017 on Memphis Industries.

                Big Balloon is the latest chapter in Dutch Uncles’ brilliantly witty, hip-swiveling, left-field adventures. Taking musical inspiration from Kate Bush's The Red Shoes, Low-era David Bowie, some slightly-less fashionable records belonging to their Dads and East European techno, it's the fifth Dutch Uncles studio album and the follow-up to 2015's acclaimed O Shudder.

                Functioning as ten distinct pieces, each tackling a different topic, including austerity cuts, therapy, fried chicken, paranoia and coming to terms with loneliness, Big Balloon is Dutch Uncles’ finest album to date, taking listeners on an exhilarating cerebral journey.

                STAFF COMMENTS

                Barry says: Bracing, inventive, catchy electronic-tinged indie at it's very finest. Never afraid to stray from conventions but managing to keep the hooks flowing, DU deliver both a benchmark and a triumph.

                FORMAT INFORMATION

                Coloured LP Info: Indies exclusive clear vinyl.

                Coloured LP includes MP3 Download Code.

                “Lemon Memory” is, for Menace Beach at least, an exercise in restraint, the fuzz and distortion turned down, a big last chorus avoided. Liza explains, “The one ‘rule’ thing we went into the album session with was to keep in mind that sometimes doing The Opposite is much more interesting”. Liza takes the lead vocal as she does on much of “Lemon Memory”. Indeed, if debut LP Ratworld was Ryan’s record, “Lemon Memory” is very much a Liza record. Ryan explains “Liza got that look in the eye and a head-down-blinkers-on thing, and only a moron would try and get in the way of that. It’s all about keeping those ideas in their purest form and diluting as little as possible.”

                Written in Ibiza and recorded in Sheffield with Ross Orton (MIA, Arctic Monkeys, The Fall) “Lemon Memory” is in part an effort to lift a citrus based curse – trust us, it’s a real thing - Ryan and Liza believe was placed on their house, via the hexbreaking power of music. It’s also the sound of a band finding their own identity, edging closer to some sort of grimy truth.

                STAFF COMMENTS

                Barry says: Dynamic swooning rock, pulsing indie anthems and pummelling breakdowns, brilliantly textured choruses, and fantastic counterpoint male/female vocals. A clever and immensely listenable tour de force of emotion and drive.

                Blue States releases his long awaited fifth album ‘Restless Spheres’ via Memphis Industries.

                It’s been nine years since we last heard from Blue States, the moniker for the musical outlet of Andrew Dragazis. Recorded, produced and, for the most part, played by Dragazis at his Lightwell studios in Stoke Newington, London, ‘Restless Spheres’ doffs its cap to the soundtracks of Budd and Morricone, to 60s Greek bands such as The Forminx, to German electronic pioneers Dieter Moebius and Michael Rother and to American minimalist composers Steve Reich and Phillip Glass.

                Blue States began nearly twenty years ago with the young, movie soundtrack obsessed Dragazis writing and recording largely instrumental, electronic pieces alone at his parent’s house in Sussex. Music had always been around in his family, his father having been involved in the Greek pop scene of the 1960’s, jamming in Athenian clubs alongside pre-Aphrodite’s Child legends Demis Roussos and Vangelis.

                The recordings found their way to nascent electronic label Memphis Industries, who went on to release a succession of 12”s including the smooth electro sweep of ‘The Trainer Shuffle’ and the filmic ‘Yé-Yé’ stylings of ‘Your Girl’. An album, ‘Nothing Changes Under The Sun’, followed in 2000 and became a surprise hit, seeing Dragazis form a band, tour the world, remix Future Sound Of London, work with Roy Wood and sign to XL Recordings. Subsequent albums ‘Man Mountain’ and ‘The Soundings’ saw Dragazis work with more traditional song structures (including ‘Season Song’, the title track of cult Zombie flick ‘28 Days Later’) and collaborate with vocalists Ty Bulmer, latterly of New Young Pony Club and old school friend Chris Carr. 2007’s ‘First Steps Into...’ saw Dragazis revert to working solo and heralded a return to his electronic origins with more extended, free form soundscapes.

                On ‘Restless Spheres’ Dragazis draws on all four of his previous albums to create something entirely different, an album imbued with a subtle majesty and hope filled melancholy.

                ‘United Crushers’ is POLIÇA’s third full length release and most remarkable album yet. Lead singer Channy Leaneagh and non-touring fifth member producer Ryan Olson wrote the album in Minneapolis in the winter of 2015 and recorded it at the renowned Sonic Ranch Studios in El Paso, TX with their live line up of dual drummers, Drew Christopherson and Ben Ivascu, Chris Beirden on bass. The new album builds on POLIÇA’s signature synthesizer and percussion-heavy sounds with more complex arrangements, tighter grooves and a bigger, crisper hi fi punch.

                The record, a tribute to their hometown of Minneapolis, was named after the graffiti tag seen throughout the city as a reminder of its bleak past and uncertain future and is short for “United States of Dreams Be Crushed.” Even at its darkest, the record is musically the band's most upbeat and celebratory. It is a weapon meant to empower the weak, the forgotten, and the disenfranchised; its very creation an act of rebellion in the face of the hopelessness that casts such a long shadow over Middle America's slow urban decline.

                STAFF COMMENTS

                Barry says: This record, more so than 2014's Shulamith oozes a sort of dystopian dread, displayed through repetitive synth-swells and rippling arpeggios. Though this is in many ways a record about decay, it seems hopeful, like there is something to be gained by adapting. Through adversity comes triumph. This is a bleak yet upbeat offering, dynamic, and exciting.

                FORMAT INFORMATION

                Indies Exclusive LP Info: Limited edition rose vinyl.

                Indies Exclusive LP includes MP3 Download Code.

                The Phoenix Foundation

                Give Up Your Dreams (Bonus Cassette Edition)

                Indie exclusive bonus cassette ‘Transfatty Acid’ featuring 4 exclusive tracks with every order while stocks last.

                New Zealand based The Phoenix Foundation are all set to return with their new and sixth studio album Give Up Your Dreams. It’s a shrewd and vibrant reminder that in The Phoenix Foundation’s gloriously absurd world of Technicolour pop, it’s the challenges you set yourself that reap the greatest rewards. “Give Up Your Dreams could sound like a defeat but it represents something quite defiant, joyous and celebratory” exclaims co-frontman Samuel Scott of the record’s infectious rhythmic driven sound and optimistic feel.

                After huge success, sales and awards in their homelands it was 2011’s breakthrough album Buffalo and 2013's colossal double album 'Fandango' that saw the band reach a more global audience - 5 star reviews, ‘Later... with Jools Holland’ and Glastonbury followed. Which brings us to Give Up Your Dreams, the sound of a band with the pressure-off, embracing a freedom to explore and hone their sound at their own pace.

                Channelling Fandango’s beauteous side, but this time fuelled by a spit ball of irrepressible energy, Give Up Your Dreams feels like the band’s most contemporary offering yet. With the new addition of drummer Chris O’Connor, the album was written taking its lead from the rhythm section for the very first time; paving the way for an all new creative process. “I was convinced we had to have a different sounding record,” explains Scott’s counterpart singer/guitarist Lukasz Buda. “So we completely removed any trace of acoustic guitar. It was important to leave room for the band to take it somewhere else and make way for a new vitality.”

                Recorded within the pow-wow setting of the band’s Car Club HQ in Wellington, it's the first time the band felt totally comfortable and confident in taking on production duties entirely themselves. “The mood when we were recording was so easy, so cordial,” recalls Scott. Taking a free form approach from Chris and bass guitarist/vocalist Tom Callwood’s experiences in the city’s improv and experimental scene, the album’s cosmic vibes are an upshot of utilising gadgets to shapeshift each sound. Whilst synths were always built into the Foundation’s musical make-up, this time around they’re placed centre stage; “we spent a great deal of time messing with an old Eventide H3000. There would be very few sounds we didn’t try to mess with,” says Scott. “We turned all the cool and interesting sounds up loud so nothing was competing in the mix and you can actually hear the trippy shit.”

                Thematically and lyrically the group typically took inspiration from various of sources. The dazzling title-track is a frank deglamourisation of life on the road spurred on by a conversation with dear friend, collaborator, and fellow New Zealander Lawrence Arabia. The energetic ‘Mountain’ is the ultimate counterpoint; an afro-kraut groove with layers of Television-inspired guitars and dreamscapes about the 'money men' controlling the world. ‘Playing Dead’ nearly didn’t make it further than the cutting room floor but was revived thanks to the photographs in a 1950s Time Life essay on the Ona people of Tierra Del Fuego in southern Chile and their ghost rituals. Elsewhere in 'Jason' Luke sings about both the mother of his children and his ‘band wife’ (Samuel Scott) being struck down with sciatica and being reliant on string painkillers to function, touching on the fear of ageing in the process. Album closer 'Myth' was inspired by the writings of St. Isidore of Seville who in the 19th Century attempted to compile all human knowledge.

                “After 15 years together, this album feels like a total rebirth to us" reveals Buda "it's uplifting feel comes as an act of defiance against all our fears in life.” Take The Phoenix Foundation’s advice then: give up your dreams and good things will happen to you too. Scott concludes “It’s a mantra about letting go, worrying less, and enjoying your reality instead of always wanting more.”

                STAFF COMMENTS

                Andy says: A more muscular, propulsive take on their trademark chiming, Flying Nun style otherness. Tunes still intact!

                Josh Scott is ready to unveil the unique and stunning fruits of his labour on his self-titled debut album as the distinctively named Aero Flynn - a record that may never have seen the light of day, had it not been for his old friend Justin Vernon of Bon Iver fame.

                Up to now Scott may have been living life as an outsider but solid relationships sit at the very heart of his musical make up. Whilst his grandfather played a key influence on his life and new stage name (“I grew up with him and he worships old cinema so I’ve seen every Errol Flynn film,” explains Scott of the reason behind his new guise, “It’s my Narnia.”), his saving grace has become those who surrounded him during the 2000s while attending the University Of Eau Claire, Wisconsin. During that time Scott’s band Amateur Love was the most talked about band in the small college town’s scene.

                After struggling with the high expectations thrust upon him (so esteemed was his song writing to those who knew him back then that the ‘Lip Parade’ sited in Bon Iver’s ‘Holocene’ is a direct reference to one of Scott’s earlier songs), Scott disbanded the group, moved to Chicago and stepped further back into the shadows. After being diagnosed with a mysterious autoimmune disease affecting his kidney in addition to crippling untreated depression, he went underground. That is, until now.

                Refusing to let Scott go without a fight, Vernon eventually managed to coax him back out of hibernation by establishing a label on which to reissue the one and only Amateur Love album. This was the spark; Scott’s interest was piqued and he began writing and recording what would become Aero Flynn’s deeply personal self-titled debut. The writing for it began in Scott’s empty Chicago apartment and it brilliantly displays a newfound exploration of longform composition techniques and ambiguities rather than the simple versechorus- verse-type song structure he had mastered. Once the songs arrived at Vernon’s April Base Studios in rural Wisconsin (where he and Scott coproduced the self-titled debut together) the songs were stretched and manipulated further into their spaced out ethereal final form.

                With a dazzling cast of musicians, including Bon Iver players Mike Noyce, Sean Carey, Rob Moose and CJ Camerieri plus Justin Vernon himself, guitarist Matt Sweeney, pedal steeler Ben Lester and Solid Gold’s Adam Hurlburt, recording progressed well and, over the course of a year, an album that many had spent over a decade waiting for was finally finished.

                At the beginning of 2014, Outfit found themselves scattered across two countries and three cities, separated by life and love from each other and from those closest to them. Slowness, the band's second full length on new label home Memphis Industries, is the sound of its five members snatching intensive weeks to plant themselves in one place, with the tensions of touring, moving, and transatlantic relationships still weighing heavy in mind, to create an album with bold presence. 

                STAFF COMMENTS

                Darryl says: An expansive and elegant sound that hints at a combination of Talk Talk, Field Music, Japan and the Dutch Uncles. Released on the ever dependable Memphis Industries label.

                FORMAT INFORMATION

                Ltd LP Info: Indie exclusive blue swirl coloured vinyl.

                Ltd LP includes MP3 Download Code.

                Barbarossa

                Imager

                  “Melds blue-eyed soul and electronica to addictive effect… exquisite” - The Times

                  “A great example of someone following their musical instincts into new areas and finding success” - Drowned in Sound

                  “Mathé employs his soft soul falsetto over juddering beats, double-time drum claps and a synth riff… a revelation” - The Guardian

                  Barbarossa, the nom de plume of Londoner James Mathé, follows 2013 album ‘Bloodlines’ with ‘Imager’ on Memphis Industries. ‘Imager’ is a cerebral, slow-burning album, tinged with melancholy and an alluring humanism.

                  Mathé’s musical journey started with folk-tinged balladry that saw him become part of the Fence Collective and subsequently a band member for the likes of José González, Johnny Flynn and Junip. With ‘Bloodlines’ Mathé started to infuse his songwriting with electronic flourishes and now, with ‘Imager’, he completes his transformation into fully fledged electronic soul pioneer.

                  Working with co-producer Ash Workman (Metronomy, Summer Camp) Mathé builds on the foundations provided by his organic approach to songwriting, to build elegiac electronic anthems that are filled with a simple, poignant immediacy.

                  ‘Imager’ is pervaded with a sense of disquiet, perhaps driven subconsciously by the fact that the spaces where creativity and culture flourish in London are rapidly disappearing; that the artistic communities that Mathé grew up with are being driven out of London due to financial pressures and, as a result, something vital is being lost. Yet while the album deals in displacement and heartbreak, a sense that everything is in flux, there are redemptive moments to stir the soul.

                  ‘Silent Island’ is perhaps the best example of this. Its melancholic refrain “this city holds no beauty for me” giving way to a blissful yet propulsive chorus that suggests creativity will always find a way.

                  Elsewhere, ‘Settle’ is the sound of dislocation in the big city, a questioning of how to respond to your surroundings as they become increasingly alien.

                  The languid ‘Home’, which features a guest vocal from José González, is the light to ‘Settles’ shade; its phrase “you’re one of the lucky ones...” providing reassurance and redemption.

                  ‘Imager’ is the sound of Barbarossa stepping out of the shadows and into the limelight as a talent to be reckoned with in his own right, questioning his surroundings, his own creativity and coming up with answers that are compelling, affecting and thoughtful.

                  Lasers through tracing paper, orange tone oscillations, cable access hangover, a K-tel dream sequence, a haunted vision mixer, station wagon-core, straight to video, something in the fog, fluff on the needle, chromakey constellations, a hovercraft on the fret board, faxing a car alarm, a Morse code pep talk, etch a sketch jacknife, a daily Haley's comet, light sound colour motion, a holiday from yourself, Ceefax taking Oracle, second sight summer camp, 360 degree tunnel vision, Chinese whispers by post, the opposite of hula hooping, the geometry of ideas, maxing the minute maid, a teleprompter for your dreams, carry the ten, pathways in patchwork.

                  STAFF COMMENTS

                  Andy says: Hugely cute indie-pop with an occasional shoegazey bent. Effervescent as ever!

                  Back in the good old of days of 1990, Color Dream Games released Menace Beach for the then popular NES games console from Nintendo. Imagine skateboarding through a side-scrolling 8-bit world filled with balloons, clowns and disgruntled dockworkers in search of your cute pixilated girlfriend Bunny. It’s from this slightly surreal, esoteric world that this Leeds indie rock revolving cast of local luminaries, headed by Ryan Needham and Liza Violet, draw their name. It’s reference acts as the perfect backdrop to their 90’s American underground and pre-Brit Pop indie; melody heavy, supercharged pop that’s always surprising.

                  After the success of their EP ‘Lowtalker’ in early 2014, British indie label favourites Memphis Industries snapped Menace Beach up with the band’s debut album in mind. It comes in the shape of ‘Ratworld’, a twelve song assault, a journey through a psyche tinged wonderland, documenting moving away and waving goodbye to the fractured rubble of an unhappy lifestyle. On the title, Ryan says “We’ve created our own grubby little Ratworld to inhabit. Everything is better when it’s a bit grubby and broken”. It’s that dreamy sensation of taking comfort in chaos, looking around at the perfect mess you’ve created and feeling deeply content as it’s yours and no one else’s.

                  “Among this year's most anticipated British releases” NME
                  “Like the Shins back when they still had the spark of youth, but with Superchunk’s playful sass and unrestrained crunch” Stereogum

                  Drawing inspiration from disparate musical and poetic sources, two Mercury Prize nominees have come together in a playful departure from their respective work with Field Music and Maximo Park. Based around text from Paul Smith’s travel writing and Peter Brewis’s chamber-band arrangements, the pair have collaborated on a suite of songs, creating a restrained yet richly descriptive soundworld.

                  ‘Frozen By Sight’ evolved from a festival commission for new work which saw the pair employ the skills of a string quartet and double bass player. Smith says, “We allowed the words to guide where the music was going in order to break free of more traditional pop structures.” Brewis also adds, “We wanted to touch on a point somewhere between composition, songwriting and improvisation, but we also wanted to keep a sense of humour and a sense of the everyday.”

                  After performing the work at the inaugural Festival Of The North East in late 2013, Smith and Brewis began work at the Field Music studio in Sunderland with David Brewis - Peter's brother - acting as co-producer. Integral to the sound of the record are the distinctive performances of the band: David’s dynamic push and pull on the drums, John Pope’s wandering, melodic bass playing, the precision and drama of Ed Cross’ string quartet and the sonorous palette of Andrew Lowther's tuned percussion. Brewis reinforces the arrangements with smatterings of piano while Smith features as a highly individual singer / guitar player.

                  The music wraps itself around the words and the places they chronicle. The locations become tangible; from their home towns in North Eastern England to more far-flung destinations. Characters appear, such as the diminutive L.A. streetcleaner going about his work in the song of the same title, or the romantic old couple “digging their forefingers in freshly-soaked sand” in ‘Santa Monica’.

                  The notion of discovery is everywhere in these songs, with ‘Trevone’ being a perfect example of a visual journey where the wanderer can take a “sidestep and the whole world appears.” Its uncanny Cornish imagery is mirrored by the unusual musical touches that coax the song from a sparse beginning to an uplifting, magical conclusion.

                  ‘Frozen By Sight’ is a rare piece of music that quietly announces the arrival of a potent new collaboration.

                  The LP features 180g vinyl in a gatefold sleeve with digital download code.

                  Menace Beach

                  Tennis Court / Lowtalkin

                  Menace Beach are Ryan Needham (vocals, guitar), Liza Violet (vocals / guitar / synths), Nestor Matthews (drums), Matt Spalding (bass) and MJ (guitar) plus a revolving cast of friends and acquaintances.

                  Having served notice of their intent with the ‘Lowtalker’ EP earlier this year, Menace Beach release a double A-side ‘Tennis Court’ / ‘Lowtalkin’ on Memphis Industries.

                  After several untreated breakdowns and a subsequent rash decision to relocate to Leeds, Ryan and Liza shacked up with MJ (Hookworms) to re-imagine their crackly 8-track demos. Joining them on the session were friends Nestor Matthews (Sky Larkin), Matt Spalding and Robert Lee (Pulled Apart By Horses), who fought their way through Liza’s rats nest of cables and homemade synth modules to blast through the songs during another all-nighter, having so much fun in the process that they all decided to stick around.

                  Both tracks were recorded, produced and mixed in the Spring of this year with MJ at his Suburban Home studios in Leeds. Friend of band Lan Mcardle of Joanne Gruesome was on hand to lend her admirably shouty pipes to both tracks (the line “with nothing in it” in ‘Tennis Court’, and the “lowtalkin’” yell that propels the track of the same name).

                  Where ‘Tennis Court’ shows off Ryan and Liza’s inclination towards fuzzed out, psyched up melody, ‘Lowtalkin’ is a sub-two minute blast of exhilarating noise.

                  Stereogum had this to say: “It’s been a while since I’ve heard old-school indie-pop that sounded quite this vital, and I suggest that you listen to the song…”

                  Limited to 500 clear vinyl 7”s with download code.

                  FORMAT INFORMATION

                  Ltd 7" Info: Just found 1 copy of this!

                  Fandango is the follow up to The Phoenix Foundation’s 2011 album Buffalo. Having made their reputation in New Zealand, Buffalo, their fourth album and the first to be released in Europe, was a critical and commercial hit, and 2011 saw sold out shows across the UK, with a storming set at Glastonbury leading to their UK TV debut on ‘Later... with Jools Holland’.
                  Fandango, an expansive, ambitious and gloriously rich 78 minutes, was recorded at four studios over 15-months. From opener ‘Black Mould’ (perhaps the first motorik-influenced song about respiratory problems induced by inadequate building standards in New Zealand) to the 18 minute closing behemoth ‘Friendly Society’ (almost certainly the only psychedelic epic named after the Quaker movement and which features Neil Finn and Bella Union signed Lawrence Arabia on backing vocals), Fandango is un-coy about its lofty ambitions in an age of digital disposability.
                   
                  The album draws on the band’s collective love of the rock canon (Dr John, Black Sabbath, The Carpenters, Can, Talk TalK, ELO, Television,), but also from some of music’s more obscure corners (Harmonia, The Clean, Aphrodite's Child, Erkin Koray, Baris Manco, Georges Zamfir, Hayao Miyazaki). Check the balladeering yacht rock of ‘Sideways Glance’, the end-of-the-party psych-folk of ‘Modern Rock’, and ‘The Captain’ a 3-minute slice of melancholic melodic joy featuring the vocal talents of co-frontman Lukasz Buda. ‘Thames Soup’ finds the band stretching the pop tropes of mid 70s FM radio to near breaking point while ‘Evolution Did’ channels Sly and Robbie production into an oblique rant on creationism.
                   
                  The band recorded Fandango partially at Neil Finn’s Roundhead studios, partially at a barn in the depths of the New Zealand countryside (in the middle of winter, fire blazing in the recording studio, cardigans on) but mostly at the band’s own HQ, The Car Club in Wellington. The album was then mixed with the assistance of long-term associate Lee Prebble at The Surgery (earthquake warnings taped to the front door). Lee and the band mined the depths of vintage studio effects in a quest to create new aural chimera.
                   
                  Let’s leave the final word on Fandango to co-frontman Samuel Flynn Scott:
                   
                  "Damn the zeitgeist, I still rejoice in the pan-sexual opulence of a double gate-fold vinyl album. Honestly, I'm thoroughly satisfied that we have made 80 minutes of tripped-out pop oddities that pays absolutely no attention to the short form game of contemporary music. This is Test Match music - maybe it's prog or psyche-folk - whatever it is, it's music that we thought about a lot, worked on a lot and cared about in the minutiae."

                  STAFF COMMENTS

                  Andy says: Phoenix Foundation stretch out in a glorious way. Deep and lush!

                  Elephant

                  Skyscraper

                  Amelia Rivas and Christian Pinchbeck aka Elephant.

                  The two met in the early hours of a house party back in May 2010, a fateful encounter that led to many a long night writing and recording songs in Christian’s South London bedsit. They soon came to the attention of Memphis Industries in the Autumn of 2010, with whom they subsequently released a pair of acclaimed 7” singles, ‘Ants’ and ‘Allured’, with The Guardian declaring “they're a Meg'n'Jack reared on breathy Brill Building pop and haunting atmospherics”.

                  The pair set to work on their debut EP and the result, titled ‘Assembly’ and released in 2011, was a four track wonder that expanded and developed the quiet beauty evidenced on their previous releases.

                  But all was not well with Elephant - Amelia and Christian had parted ways in a Fleetwood Mac style bout of acrimony. Then Christian broke his wrist (which may or may not be related to the aforementioned acrimony) rendering him unable to play. It looked unlikely that they would ever write together again.

                  Sometimes, though, you have to realize when you’ve got something good. After a tempestuous year, where they just about managed to play a show at Primavera’s opening party without injury (or worse), a gradual rapprochement took place. September finally saw them starting to write together again and playing shows (including an appearance at Eurosonic and supports with Matthew E White), and lo and behold, an album shaped batch of songs finally started to take shape.

                  Sumptuous new track ‘Skyscraper’ sees Amelia’s vocals swooning and swooping over a backdrop that twists familiar fifties Doo-wop stylings into something new and alluring, whilst B side ‘Spies’ is a sweet and sparse repost.

                  It’s a strong, confident marker that Elephant’s debut album will be worth braving broken hearts and broken bones for.

                  White vinyl 7”.

                  Banjo Or Freakout

                  Banjo Or Freakout

                  Banjo Or Freakout release their self titled debut album on Memphis Industries. The record is a heady collection of introspective beats and carefully constructed moments forged across borders and genre.

                  Italian born Londoner Alessio makes heartfelt stargaze pop, following in the sonic footprints left by artists like Kevin Shields, Can, Arthur Russell and contemporaries Wilco, Caribou and Deerhunter.

                  Album highlights include the opener and first single "105", a woozy epic of tremolo guitar, horizon set acoustics and a heartfelt vocal in the vein of a Bob Timble ballad. From then on, the album unfurls with oblique vocals, soft motorik beats, simple guitar and drum loops, lush arrangements, everything gently vibrating and feedbacking through tracks such as the dark, sweet and simple singsong of "Idiot Rain", the four minute guitar loop mantra of "Fully Enjoy" and "From Everyone Above", about a recurring dream of drowning in a wide green and blue sea.

                  STAFF COMMENTS

                  Darryl says: Beautifully lush and elegantly understated, this is an amazing debut. Foggy shoegazery pop with heartfelt vocals. It's a Piccadilly hit.

                  "Buffalo" is the latest album from kaleidoscopic pop group The Phoenix Foundation, whose last album "Happy Ending" (originally released on the legendary Flying Nun label), had critics hailing them as New Zealand’s best kept secret.

                  From intelligent and infectiously catchy pop / rock gems, to epic, psychedelic prog rock, "Buffalo" combines sun bleached harmonies, chiming guitars, progressive synth scapes and subliminal rhythms to glorious effect.

                  “Surely the most potent band to come out of New Zealand since the far-off days of the Chills… Gorgeous” - The Independent (5 stars)

                  “The future, and the past, seldom sounded so delightful” - Q.

                  STAFF COMMENTS

                  Martin says: While most bands are supernovae, all explosive energy and creativity expended in one brilliant moment before quickly fading, there is another rarer form that reaches maturity more slowly, honing and developing its craft and tending to have a much longer productive life. Auckland’s Phoenix Foundation have taken 10 years to realise the sublime, effortless meander of “Buffalo”, and it’s quickly apparent from the album’s opener, “Eventually” that it’s been well worth the wait. Its drifting, captivating languor sets the scene for the rest of the LP, which manages that difficult balance of being entirely good natured without being trivial and laid back without being soporific. Their engaging psychedelic pop is easily carried by vocal harmonies and hooks that stick, earworms that caress rather than annoy. If you haven’t been reeled in by the gentle glow of “Golden Ship”, which closes the album, then you probably never will be and, frankly, there’s probably something wrong with you.

                  FORMAT INFORMATION

                  CD Info: Initial orders of the CD come with a download code
                  for a previous New Zealand only release "Pegasus".

                  Fort Lauderdale

                  The Chilling Place

                  A weird and wonderful combination of soaring vocals, drunken horns and bubbling synths. The title track is taken from the forthcoming "Pretty Monster" album and comes backed with two new tracks "She's In Bloom" is a lovely Velvets-esque song, and "Incantation" is a cover version of a Bruce Haak track.

                  Fort Lauderdale

                  Rock 'n' Roll

                  Over its three and a bit minutes, "Rock And Roll" charts a journey from the regret of the moning after the night before, through (with the help of hard riffing synths, piano, strings and of course guitars) to the euphoria of yet another night of decadence.


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