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Staff reviews this week

EP2 / newtables (Special Extended Edition)
SND

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

9/10 according to our Ant on 23rd July 2014

Rewind some 15 years and I can clearly recall the original of ‘newtables’ landing in the record shop I was working in at the time. It distinctly stood out among the barrage of loopy Jeff Mills worshipping techno fodder that was happening at that time. Baby Ford / Ifach, Mika Vainio / Sahko and Robert Hood / M-Plant had already laid the foundations for a minimalist approach to techno production but Mat Steel and Mark Fell's SND had something quite different. This was at the dawn of phrases like Clicks + Cuts/ Glitch/ Micro House being applied to techno and house and the same time Thomas Brinkmann kicked off Max Ernst.

The combination of ‘newtables’ cold austere, precise mathematical rhythms sounded like the absolute sonification of mathematics and geography. The delicate combination of luxurious, silky housey pads was perfectly executed and sounded remarkably fresh at the time. The overall sound production across the tracks is immaculate and it’s this pristine quality that makes it feel like machine music but this clinical element has the warmth of human input saving things from sounding too artificial and mechanical.

A few tracks here still sound pretty fresh although some moments also sound very much of the time and don’t have as much impact years down the line. I guess that’s got a lot to do with having absorbed what’s happened since so I think it’s important to put this record in the context of the period if you’re a virgin to this work. It’s possible to detect the seeds of where Mark Fell would later shatter and reassemble rhythm with his solo output, as well as his long appreciation of pure house music which would later manifest in the Sensate focus material. Also this is quite possibly the first stuff I can think of where Sound Art principles were being applied to house and techno, the whole aesthetic a stark contrast to the psychedelic rave culture from which it was in many ways born.

Remastered from the original DAT’s it’s been a pleasure to revisit these tracks having not heard them in a long while. Plus the real reissue gravy is the inclusion of the previously unreleased stomper B2.

  • Available on:
    Double LP £16.69
  • Artist: SND
  • Label: snd
  • Genres:

Hero Zero
Royal Trux

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

9/10 according to our Ant on 18th July 2014

Rewind to 1989, one year after Royal Trux debuted with their self titled LP on Royal Records and the first ever release on Drag City was unleashed. Neil Hagerty (who would later go on to become The Howling Hex) was finished with Pussy Galore and joined by Jennifer Herrema (now doing Black Bananas) to have a career that went from wild Rolling Stones inspired trashy discordant garage rock to having some mild success with the mainstream during the grunge period where labels were falling over themselves to sign up US alternative/ indie rock bands. The years with Virgin’s Hut label would prove to be fruitful for these loveable rogue’s but I’ve a very soft spot for the early years, particularly Twin Infinitives but really all their records up to the last two were great.

If you’re unfamiliar with early Trux then I guess this reissue 7” is an alright place to start although possibly a bit pricey for a “sampler” so maybe one for the hardcore fans to pick up a nice clean copy. Jennifer’s delivery is pure rock ‘n’ roll attitude personified and Hagerty’s scratchy guitar sounds like it’s being played underwater as they shamble through ‘Hero Zero’ which sounds like it could all collapse at any given moment.

‘Love Is..’ is pure deranged lo-fi smacked out weirdness sounding all wibbly like the record has warped or the master tape was dragging. A ballsy first release for Drag City who clearly knew that these guys had something pretty special. 25 years down the line and still nobody sounds quite like them. Repressed on gold vinyl in a tip-on sleeve.

 

  • Available on:
    7" £11.99

Radical Zoo
Lightning Glove

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

8/10 according to our Ant on 18th July 2014

Ono Tesla follow the excellent Negra Branca LP with a mighty curveball from Lightning Glove hail from the Czech Republic. First introduced to the world at large via a cassette on parent label Tesla Tapes, which is of course curated by the North of Englands sonic explorers GNOD. It’s not an easy task writing about this record, simply because it pretty much defies categorisation. At it’s core it’s deep, raw electronic music but there’s a weighty additional dimension added into the mix via the vocals which sound like the bastard spawn of Genesis P Orridge and Shaun Ryder... Folks in the office seem to be enjoying this reminding of everything from Factory Floor, MGUN and Public Image Limited.

Mastered by Stephen Bishop of Opal tapes with wraparound risograph print by Michael Holland.

Full review to follow...

  • Available on:
    LP £10.99

Xoul
Actress

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

8/10 according to our Ant on 18th July 2014

Just when we thought Darren Cunningham had retired his Actress moniker this black label 12” arrives out of the blue. Was it bullshit? Is this a posthumous release? Who know’s but I for one am glad to have another record from the man. I thought it was pretty funny that most critics just couldn’t get with the gloomy vibes of ‘Ghettoville’. If you’re after a party starter then I’m afraid you’re in the wrong place with ‘Xoul’ which exudes a somber mood as it drags along at a snails pace with it’s lovely melancholic bleepy melody and stoned, sparse rhythm. The ‘Dark Chamber’ version has doomy strings and more of a hip-hop flavour. ‘Xoul Particles’ is basically another mix bringing a bleepy/ music box like twinkling loop to the fore.

After three variations on the same theme we get ‘Pharaoh Moon Rising’ which works some grumbling bass around even more delayed bleeps, this time sounding like a life support machine coming to life and singing. Reasonably dark material throughout but hey you need darkness in order to see light right? Limited edition of 500 copies.


Camus
Daydreamer

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

8/10 according to our Brian on 18th July 2014

A really nice CD here from Russian duo Daydreamer, titled in tribute to our favourite French writer, thinker (and erstwhile goalie). I'd like to say he was an existentialist but he would have vigorously denied such a thing. Is this an existentialist album? No. It's certainly an excellent collection of thoughtful cinematic ambience, tentative post-rock tropes and atmospheric electronics.

As you know with Time Released Sound, there is also a very limited art edition, the sheer ornate existence of which somewhat eclipses the actual music due to the tireless hand-crafted attention to detail lavished on such a thing. A certain member of our team is somewhat cynical about these expensive, lavish packages but me, I'm blown away every time by the sheer love poured into them. If you have extraneous funds at your disposal I'd heartily endorse your spendthrift ways. Considering what millions of people spend hoofing drugs up their noses for pleasure, this is a much better way of blowing your pay packet.

Musically this CD is a languid, exploratory creature, effortlessly merging widescreen drones, dark ambient fog, occasional implicit downtempo beats and some flourishes of sweetly melancholy acoustic action into a vastly absorbing journey that can range between a dreamy sun-dappled jaunt to being lost in a chilly, inhospitable chasm within the space of a couple of tracks. 'Camus' never gets particularly over-doomy however, yet your moods will be subtly manipulated throughout this highly involving and accomplished recording. There is plenty of scintillating sonic ephemera and sound-art glitch here for the headphones brigade.

  • Available on:
    CD £32.99, CD £9.99

Come On Die Young
Mogwai

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

8/10 according to our Brian on 18th July 2014

To many, CODY represents Mogwai's most successful long-playing attempt at a "classic". Others cite 'Rock Action' as their masterpiece. I am a bit of a cynical twat however and refuse to acknowledge that this long-running Glasgow bunch have ever quite reached those dizzying heights on record. Every album they've done has had me staring at my watch after 20 minutes. That's some feat. I haven't worn a watch since I was 15.

Everybody knows Mogwai are one of the greatest live bands in the shaky infrastructure that is currently called the United Kingdom. I've seen them destroy venues and enormous festival tents alike many a time. Our old departed scribe Brett once mentioned how he dissolved into the foetal position at the back of one festival tent for almost the entirety of their set around the Millennium, unable to move in his ecstacy-induced confusion as these Scottish scamps terrorized his serotonin-flooded mind into submission during one of their trademark strobe-saturated sonic meltdowns/take-offs. I have many fond memories of being battered around by this truly humbling force of amplified nature.

What is it then with my quiet aversion to their recorded output? I dunno. I've always been a little underwhelmed by the workman-like drums. The guy is the Ringo Starr of post-rock. The occasional reedy vocal utterances are terrible too. I wish Braithwaite wouldn't open his mouth except to abuse people. He's really good at that. Their albums meander, full of good ideas, wonderful guitar interplay and grand intentions. But I get distracted easily during the course of all their records. Everything fades into the background as I become subsumed by thoughts. A band for stoics if ever there was one. This one in particular is a more downbeat, atmospheric outing, I recall people were talking about Pornography-era Cure at the time. I still don't quite get that?

Having said all this,' CODY' is the album I've played far more than their others. There is something intrinsically fascinating about hearing it all unfurl, It's like a Mogwai sketch-book where you can hear all their workings out, like they're refining their sound. You get the idea that as in awe to albums such as Spiderland that they were, they're edging out here into pastures yet unexplored. It's a more mature and coherent listen than 'Young Team' (which I actually prefer because of the fat rock monsters therein) It takes real patience and once you switch into the correct listening mode 'CODY' is a strangely rewarding recording. Discretion and subtlety are the keys here.

This re-issue I'm sure you all know is getting the full royal CU treatment, much like their début a few years back; unreleased/rare tracks/demos/alternative versions, the tracks from the US only 'Travels in Constants' EP - all that shizzle - nicely housed in slipcase CD and lavish four-piece vinyl. For my few criticisms, It is still really satisfying to see this seminal British post-rock instalment get its dues a decade and a half on.

 

  • Available on:
    CD £10.09, Deluxe LP box set £52.99

Fall, Rise
Richard Ginns

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

6/10 according to our Brian on 18th July 2014

A brief survey of this new Richard Ginns CD on Twice Removed. Seven tracks of twinkly, sleep-inducing ambience and field recordings. It kinda sounds like he's recorded this outdoors in an intentionally raw fashion as there appears to be the sensation of a breeze blowing through some trees or a particularly hissy tape track beneath the meandering, listless prettiness. By 'The Colour of Winter' he's got some sonorous untamed drones drifting in and out whilst birds twitter, water drips and the world passes by. Compared to many recordings of this type 'Fall, Rise' sounds charmingly lo-fi and un-mastered, dare I say a little carefree/amateur?

It is, however, full of life and a genuinely discreet wonder. I'm imagining a man with a tape recorder up the sound of a mountain basking in the tranquillity of life. 'Warm Now' appears to be more grounded in the fabric of actual society, I can detect a tiny murmur of conversation amid the hiss-laden atmosphere, loads of sweet drones mingling amongst the gentle cornucopia of life. Is that a car alarm that keeps going off or is outside my house? If you dig naive sound-art and field recordings married with dusty clusters of fuzzy, fumbling drone and incidental acoustic clattering then you could well enjoy this digipak CD.

  • Available on:
    CD £11.79

Arranged Waves
Stephen Steinbrink

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

9/10 according to our Clinton on 23rd July 2014

An office favourite which has not been off our stereo especially on all these sunny days. Then when I get home I just crank up the boombox and play it again- its the gift that keeps on giving. Lovely summery Real Estate/Elliott Smith hybrid bedroom pop. What Jim says x 1000. Essential listening.  

  • Available on:
    LP £14.89, CD £8.79

Aerial M
Aerial M

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

9/10 according to our Clinton on 18th July 2014

David Pajo has done many things in his life. He's been in Slint, Tortoise, had a minor role in 'Hi Fidelity', collaborated with Stereolab and Will Oldham, been part of Yeah Yeah Yeahs and infamously Billy Corgan's Zwan. All while managing to never look a day older than when he was pictured in that lake on the cover of 'Spiderland'.

This, however, has to be the high water mark of his solo meanderings. Its an absolute classic album of slow moving guitar instrumentals that sit right in the mid-point between Slint and Mogwai. Its not as dynamic as Slint and utilises the quiet/loud thing less than Mogwai but is perfectly comparable to the 'quiet bits' of both bands. There are 7 songs, all instrumental. The guitars are nice and clean, unfurling round each other and intertwining as if they were two pieces of string getting tangled up. Its a wonderfully evocative listen, quiet, no fanfare, reaching a peak on the magnificent 'Aass'. You could fall asleep to this and it would be wonderful.

Many of you oldsters might have it already and there are no extras to tempt a repeat purchase. But its been out of print on vinyl for awhile and if you worship at the alter of Mogwai, Slint and Tortoise this is essential listening. 

    

  • Available on:
    LP £14.89

Beautiful Rewind Remixes
Four Tet (Fourtet)

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

8/10 according to our Clinton on 18th July 2014

This is a 12" of Four Tet remixes. We've ran out of time to do our usual in depth assessment of this work but a quick play through suggests that its completely fine. Its going to be sold out by the time you read this anyway. 


I Hear The Devil Calling Me
Various

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

8/10 according to our Clinton on 18th July 2014

Xpressway was an amazing tape label run by The Dead C's Bruce Russell which survived through the early part of the 90's releasing a hotch-potch of out-there music from Dunedin and the surrounding areas. US cousins Drag City saw fit to issue this marvellous 12 track compilation thus gaining a wider audience for this oddball/exotic music. Amongst that audience was my brother who followed up his purchase of Pavement's 'Demolition Plot J7' by bringing home this collection. We played it on my grandma's stereogram, it sounded otherworldly, particularly next to all those James Last and Mrs Mills albums.

It contains snippets of songs, mainly around the one minute mark from the likes of Alastair GalbraithPeter JeffriesDead CGateDadamah and David Mitchell (of 3D's) its lo-fi, full of squeaks and distortion yet has a murky folky edge. This is the more difficult yin to Flying Nun's more pop-based yang. Its desolate, noisy, and completely uncompromising.  

This 7" re-issue comes on gold vinyl and is well worth seeking out (or dig out your dusty original if you were lucky enough to get it first time round).    

  • Available on:
    7" £8.69

Conversations
Woman’s Hour

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

7/10 according to our Clinton on 23rd July 2014

I’d had Womans Hour down as a whole lot of nothingness, a smartly conceived, immaculately produced slice of nothing. Bland as a bowl of Butterscotch Angel Delight. But last night, as the setting sun glinted through the blinds I found many things to enjoy in this their sleek debut.

Like Wild Beasts and British Sea Power they are from the Cumbrian town of Kendal. A craggy rough and ready place at odds with the glinting 80’s influenced wine bar soul-pop on view here. They have more in common with Wild Beasts but take that groups recent synth heavy workouts kicking and screaming deep, deep into Sade territory.  Which is absolutely fine by me. The tracks that work, like those of similarly scrubbed yacht pop 80’s practitioners such as Blue Nile and Prefab Sprout, tend to have great tunes amidst the sophisticated soundscapes. The album falls short only when they forget to add a tune and so you are left with an expensive nothing.

Opener ‘Unbroken Sequence’ is a good example of where they go right, beginning with a rainswept Blue Nile synth pattern, the female vocals are like cut glass, the arrangements understated, synth heavy but with evocative synth much reminiscent of Kate Bush ‘Hounds of Love’ era. Its trump card is its chorus which bursts out of nowhere, beautifully managed. There are plenty of other moments to enjoy, ‘To the End’ is minimal with simple muted electronics under the crestfallen vocals. Again, the track bursts into life hitting ‘Diamond Life’ paydirt in a heart wrenching chorus.

At its best this is great cinematic sweeping pop. You need to give it time, you need to pretend you are in a wine bar in 1986 and you need to accept that it finds it very hard to maintain the quality of the first few tracks and it does bland out towards that nothingness I mentioned earlier as the momentum drifts away.  

 

  • Available on:
    CD £9.89, LP £14.79, LP £14.99

Molten Gold
The Chills

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

7/10 according to our Clinton on 23rd July 2014

Oh why must concerts start so late. The Chills will be hitting the stage at 9.15 tonight. Relatively early by Leeds standards but it means that I have 5 hours to wait until Martin Phillips and co rock the Brudenell Social Club. I wonder if they'll play this, their new single? It will probably come at the time of night where Martin says "seriously folks you've had the hits but we're not all about the past, I hope you can bear with us whilst we play some new material" and everyone will go yeah its fine but its no "Heavenly Pop Hit" or "Doledrums" or "I Love My Leather Jacket". All the requisite elements are there but the killer tune. And they'll play "Pink Frost" which appears in a new spangly kraut-rocky version on the flip side here and I'll wonder for the millionth time why it sounds like no other song ever written. So glacial, sparse and spindly and mysterious.    

  • Available on:
    7" £4.79

She Is There / Special Day
Motorama

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

7/10 according to our Clinton on 22nd July 2014

Lovely heartfelt indie pop from somewhere in France we think. It matches a chocolate brown Tindersticks-style voice with jangling guitars, drum machine and a synthy chorus. This sounds like any number of tracks off those tape compilations of indie pop I used to buy with my pocket money. Sounds very much like Bradford's finest the Applemoths.  For a more contemporary comparison try Wild Nothing

  • Available on:
    7" £6.69

Primitive World
Giorgio Murderer

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

7/10 according to our Clinton on 18th July 2014

Is there no end to the 'twisting a famous person's name' band name syndrome? I'm sorely tempted to bring out my Dick Nrake or Grimmy Saville alter egos before it all becomes passe. Still Giorgio Murderer did raise a chuckle or two . The music is good too particular first off the blocks 'Primitive World', prime lo-fi scuzzy blast with possible nods towards Devo, Cowtown and The Ramones. Over on the flip there's a nice piece of B52's-in-a-blender lo-fi pop. Comically hapless at time but lots of lo-fi garagey fun to be had, Four songs in all. 

  • Available on:
    7" £5.49

ODSM
Space Girl

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6/10 according to our Clinton on 23rd July 2014

On Various Production. This 7" has been played on Gideon Coe, Rob Da Bank and Mary Anne Hobbs radio shows, that latter would surely be fuming if she found out they'd spelt her name completely wrong on the press release. The main track is a quirky clattery bit of stuff, reminding me of Tuneyards and Neneh Cherry. The vocals are very laconic and laid back, the music the oddball junkyard rattle of Tom Waits. The B side is slower,  an ok-ish minimal beats 'n' vocals thing stuttering into life eventually but I'd file it under 'a bit underwhelming' if I was being forced at gunpoint. The single is ok  - its fun but didn't send me into raptures. 

  • Available on:
    7" £6.99

Perfect Vision / Waiting Waiting
Cheerleader

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

6/10 according to our Clinton on 18th July 2014

Big pumping catchy radio rock from Philadelphia quintet which executes what I call the 'X Factor breakdown' perfectly. This is the bit of the song at the end which breaks down in such as way that it will fit right in when going into the ad break or back to the presenter's waffle. This is MGMT's first album as performed by One Direction. Its all about reaching for the top and achieving your dreams. Good on them, let's hope don't become a bitter twisted underachiever whose only pleasure in life is aiming snarky comments from the wrong side of a keyboard. The B side strays into a trippier territory with some hazy chill-wave vocals and quite a 60's type melody going on. Its not bad truth be told. Cheap too at just £2.39.  

  • Available on:
    7" £2.39

Small Victory
Technology + Teamwork

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

6/10 according to our Clinton on 18th July 2014

Oh God we have three copies in of this. Its one of those records which sound wrong at both speeds despite it having vocals. No 45rpm is far too fast. Its 33rpm. The whole thing is very wrong sounding anyway. Its a slice of electronic pop that nods towards Hot Chip and so it should, the lady half has performed with them and Joe Goddard pops up with a remix on the B side. Slightly tilting towards early Metronomy too. On the B side Grosvenor do the correct thing and speed the track up a bit and now its sounding much livelier. They then ruin all their good work by adding a hideous guitar solo. Goddard does a nice slick job with his mix but basically you are getting the same song three times, subtly tweaked. 

  • Available on:
    12" £4.99

Spiríti
Mohammad

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

9/10 according to our Jim on 23rd July 2014

Super limited triple LP box set of a Mohammad album that originally came out in 2011. Needless to say it comprises yet another utterly compelling set of deeply solemn, resonating chamber music unlike anything else you’ve ever heard. The tracks featuring cello, contrabass and oscillator are interspersed here with more abstract ambient tracks with Eleh like drones combining subtly with field recordings.

The chamber music pieces are relatively restrained compared with more recent releases, allowing a more melodic, slightly gentler side of the group to emerge. While the austere sound palette and dirgelike quality remains constant throughout, the restraint of the playing brings the richness of the timbral dynamics to the fore, with the group moving from a barely-there whisper to dense monolithic slabs of sound. The combined effect of the ambient drone tracks adds to the desolateness of the album as a whole; with the mechanical rumble of the oscillators making me feel like I’m in the engine room of some deep-sea vessel lost in the fog. I have to admit that, because I find the chamber pieces so engrossing and so poignant, I find myself enduring the drone tracks, eager to get to back to the bowed instruments; but even that kind of anticipation adds to the asceticism of the trio’s allure.   

  • Available on:
    Triple LP £36.99

Commune
Goat

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

10/10 according to our Mike on 23rd July 2014

Finally, Goat's "difficult" second album is upon us. Their debut 'World Music' catapulted the mysterious Swedish voodoo-psych outfit onto the world stage with its mixture of wah-fuzz riffing, energetically chanted vocals and mystical polyrhythms, with colourful and hyper-kinetic live rituals to match. The pressure is on, then, for 'Commune' to be something a bit special.
 
Thankfully this is a band with ambition to match their hype, and 'Commune' is far from simply 'World Music' part two. I've spent the weekend letting it settle in before writing this but I still feel like I'm getting my head around it. All the signature moves from the first album are still present, but the emphasis here is much more on repetition, drones and deeply danceable psych-fuzz indulgences, often showing a darker and angrier side than we've previously heard.
 
Opener 'Talk To God' is based around a twiddly Eastern-sounding riff that builds and recedes in hypnotic fashion for nigh-on seven minutes with plenty of that trademark chanting, while the next three songs feel like an exercise in tension building, with some Link Wray-ish vibrato chords shuddering through the trance-like 'Words', wah-psych afrobeat vibes with strained vocals in 'The Light Within' and then the hazy Eastern shuffle of instrumental 'To Travel The Path Unknown'.
 
It's here that things really get interesting though, with 'Goatchild' providing the first big surprise with a boy singer doing some call-and-response with the two girls who handle most of the vocals, a booming, snarling hybrid of Michael Gira and Jim Morrison. It has a weird detached, raga-ish drone rock feel with a bassline that cycles around in 3/4 over the 4/4 vocal line.
 
'Goatslaves' which follows is one of the album's instant stand-outs, an explosion of righteous fury full of whirling woodblock percussion, crunching riffs and angry vocals. "Too many people live on their knees," they roar. The guitar solo here is a smeared, backwards howl over the dense percussive assault. It sounds like the single.
 
From here 'Hide From The Sun' has a guitar line a little bit 'Paint It Black'-era Stones with some unison vocals and nice crunchy fuzz when it hits, then Bondye is an hypnotic jam with meandering fiddle/guitar interplay that takes the jammy direction they've been hinting at in live performances to its natural conclusion by removing all the formally structured song bits.
 
They go out with a bang with 'Gathering Of Ancient Tribes', the only track besides the opener to pass the six-minute mark. It takes a more positive angle than the other highlight 'Goatslaves' in its pleas for harmony - "Let us be reborn," they shout, "Go tell everybody you need everybody. Go tell everybody you love everybody." It's joyous and explosive and repetitive and strangely moving, an exasperated primal howl for unity that descends into soaring, crunching guitar abuse that eventually burns out to reveal the skeletal drones that underpin the track.
 
If you couldn't be bothered reading that and have skipped to the end, in a nutshell it's less poppy and more repetitive and danceable than 'World Music', but also more diverse, and feels more like it's supposed to be listened to as a whole rather than a collection of stand-alone songs, but most importantly they still have the vitality and originality that made that album such a runaway success. This lot are the real deal.
 

  • Available on:
    LP £15.99, CD £11.49

An Electric Storm
White Noise

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

9/10 according to our Mike on 23rd July 2014

It's a challenging morning for me today. First I had to tackle the much-anticipated sophomore effort from Goat, and now I've got this head-scratching reissue of a 1969 album by White Noise, an experimental pop band notable for the presence of such radiophonic luminaries as Delia Derbyshire within their ranks.
 
The story of the record's genesis is a fascinating one too, with initial recording taking place at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop itself, out of hours and without the BBC's knowledge. The final results of these clandestine recording sessions are very much an LP of two halves, with side A comprised of more conventionally structured pop songs with a dreamy, playful feel that's sonically somewhere between Stereolab and Joe Meek, with simple melodies and refined electronic tomfoolery.
 
On side B however, the trip gets much darker with two lengthy tracks titled 'The Visitation' and 'The Black Mass: An Electric Storm in Hell'. These are full of all sorts of hallucinatory weirdness. The former has spooky speech samples and haunted fairground folk drifting in and out of twisted tapestries sobbing and heavy breathing and screams and ominously pulsating electronic ambience, while the latter wallows in weirdly phasing drum textures with slicing electronic swoops and nightmarish yells.

In short, it's pleasant on side A, challenging on side B, but interesting and stimulating and a little bit unhinged throughout.
 

  • Available on:
    CD £7.59, LP £21.69

Meat Puppets
Meat Puppets

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

9/10 according to our Mike on 23rd July 2014

Here's a welcome return to vinyl for the Meat Puppets' incendiary self-titled debut LP. This is where their ramshackle rough'n'ready country-punk started, and they've thrown in a load of bonus material from the era to sweeten the deal.

'Meat Puppets' still sounds as arresting as when I first heard it - while their sound did get more refined later on, the early recordings really encapsulate the throwaway intensity that the band are best loved for, their virtuosity masked behind hammy shambling. 'Melons Rising' is a babbling proto-hardcore blast but this sharp, tight punky approach is tempered by a slovenly looseness and mumbled vocals.

They often sound like they're playing as fast and loud as they physically can and everything could fall apart any second, but then there are moments like 'Our Friends' where a sweet country-rock jangle is hiding under those grotesque lo-fi guitar tones, or the comically incoherent 'Meat Puppets' which sounds like The Cramps trying to jam whilst too drunk to stand. In short, this record still sounds just as nasty and great as it ever did.

  • Available on:
    CD £13.09, LP £16.69

Midwestern Family Values
NONES

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

9/10 according to our Mike on 18th July 2014

Having already wowed my ears with a welcome Electric Eels reissue, good ol' HoZac come up with the goods again this week with this LP from dirgey post-hardcore punkers Nones. These guys are notable for the fact that their singer plays the saxophone and they're good at concise but funny song titles - 'Browner Pastures', 'Defecating Grey', 'Space Load', 'Wife Meat', 'Mister Doctor'...you can tell it's going to be hit after hit, right?

When they are getting their punky times on and the sax guy is honking away it's pretty sweet, bringing to mind Tropical Trash on the frantic 'Eyeball Potion' before going full Stooges on the album's title track. The vocal rants are an important part of the sound too, sax man singer Brandon Bayles has a nice line in verbosely babbling monologues that ride haphazardly over the tight, vicious backing like a particularly agitated mixture of Circus Lupus and Wrangler Brutes. I like this a lot.

  • Available on:
    LP £14.89

A Waif’s Rent
Bronze Teeth

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

8/10 according to our Mike on 23rd July 2014

After a little digging I'm finding out that the 12" that I'm listening to right now is by Bronze Teeth, but not just any old bronze teeth. This Bronze Teeth is in fact the super-team of Dominic Butler from Factory Floor and Richard "L/F/D/M" Smith.

There are three tracks of repetitive post-techno action going on here which mix Butler's modular trance-outs with Smith's more acidy techno for a heavy and primitive bit of synth abuse. On side A is 'Albion Pressure', their 13-minute paean to West Brom, which drives pacily along with a repetitive kick drum and a droning synth pulse fed by rhythmic flutters and stabbing melodic wobbles. It's robotic and kinetic and a bit cosmic.

The two tracks on the flip are a bit more laid back and less overwhelming, making more use of negative space and subtle microrhythms in comparison to the pummelling intensity of the other side. Of the two I'm liking the bleeps and boops subtle drones of 'Cut Bronze' the best because closer 'Tephra' has some pretty nasty buzzing drones that are testing my patience a little. Those aside, though, if you're a fan of either of these artists' other output then I'm pretty confident you'll enjoy this too.

  • Available on:
    12" £8.39

Chameleon
Sam De La rosa

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

8/10 according to our Mike on 23rd July 2014

Led Er Est singer Sam De La Rosa goes it alone for the first time this week on this mini-album for Burka For Everybody. Pretty cool it is too, glacial synth-led pop with wistful vocals and a robotically pacing feel to its icy grooves and foggy ambience.

Some tracks, such as 'Erase Blanco', are instrumental meditations (or at least any vocals are submerged and processed into unrecognisability), the aforementioned track mixing smooth gliding synths with ominous distorto drones and crumbly audio scree to build up a Fuck Buttons-ish intensity, while 'Fungus' which follows it is all 'Clangers'-ish tweets and hums.
Elsewhere he lets his vocals take the fore with varying results from the mumbly dreampop of side A's central track 'Chameleon' to the mysterious wibbly psych moodiness of closer 'I Cannot Meet Today'. Plenty of good ideas here, realised with real class and subtlety.

  • Available on:
    12" £14.99

Twee Blues
Colin Clary

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8/10 according to our Mike on 23rd July 2014

Here's my second offering from Weepop this week - Colin Clary's 'Twee Blues'. Much like the other one I had to write about, this collection isn't as cloyingly twee as I'd feared (particularly since the word even features in the title) but instead is a collection of simple sentimental songs, deliberately written to be easy and fun to play.

It's a beautifully packaged LP, too, with an elegant sheaf of lyric cards which come complete with chord progressions in case you want to have a stab at playing the songs yourself. There are elements of both the twee and the blues but it's really just simple, thoughtful songwriting with a charming delivery, uncluttered arrangements and Clary's breathy and unobtrusive vocals hanging likeably over the top. Thoroughly pleasant.

  • Available on:
    LP £9.99

Your Flaws Aren't Picturesque
One Happy Island

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

8/10 according to our Mike on 23rd July 2014

I've got a couple of tweepop LPs from Weepop in my review pile today, the first of which being this one by One Happy Island. I'm appreciating the no-bullshit approach that's been taken here - the 14 songs were recorded live over the space of two days last August and are wordy but economically arranged bits of low-key psych pop with plenty of acoustic guitar (as well as touches of brass, stylophone, xylophone, etc, keeping things interesting). The sound quality is perfectly adequate, especially considering it's a live recording.

What it's reminding me of the most are the early Of Montreal recordings when they were a bit more acoustic-based. The songs are sweet and quirky but the stripped back approach means they avoid many of the cloyingly syrupy tweepop cliches that many contemporaries fall into. There's no faux-naive gang vocals to be found, just thoughtful anecdotal songsmithery.

  • Available on:
    LP £9.99

Blues Pills
Blues Pills

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7/10 according to our Mike on 23rd July 2014

Here's a Scandinavian quartet who've decided to mix soulful diva anthems with pummelling '70s hard rock riffs. Their album comes in a luxurious gatefold sleeve with proper retro-style artwork, and sound-wise they're quite a lot like the Alabama Shakes crossed with musical theatre staples like Jesus Christ Superstar or Hair or Godspell.

The emphasis here, as with that band, is on soul-pop. The songs have huge choruses and the vocals are belted with no small amount of vigour, and the riffs are cool too - lively classic metal stylings that often bring Cathedral to mind. The high energy soul-rock-opera revue style is a bit hit and miss...fist-pumping when they get it right, mildly embarrassing when they don't. It keeps reminding me of Matt Berry's affectionate homage to that era of musical theatre 'AD/BC'. Silly but fun.

  • Available on:
    CD £10.79, CD £9.79, Double LP £14.69, Double LP £14.69

Madvillainy
Madvillain

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

9/10 according to our Phil on 18th July 2014

This is a great album! Re: the customer review from Arvydas below we've not had any other complaints about this record but if you've had any problems please let us know!

  • Available on:
    Double LP £13.49

For The Recently Found Innocent
White Fence

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9/10 according to our ReviewBot3000 on 18th July 2014

I'm kicking off a heavy Friday's reviewing with the latest offering from Tim "White Fence" Presley. The lo-fi psych-popster has been hinting at more and more accessible things on his last couple of LPs, the excellent 'Cyclops Reap' and 'Pink Gorilla', and that's pushed sharply to the fore here as he enters a proper studio with his buddy Ty Segall (incidentally, if you like filthy garage-psych and haven't heard the pair's recently-reissued collab LP 'Reverse Shark Attack', I would advise you to get on that), recording outside the confines of his own bedroom for the first time. Mikal Cronin pops up playing piano on one track too, the whole family's here.
 
Gone is the sharp, tangy weirdness of his playful and anarchic and often self-sabotaging home production, giving Presley's songwriting a chance to take centre stage. He writes good songs, too, somewhere between the post-Nuggets school of American garage pop and a more British psych-pop sound reminiscent of the Kinks, Byrds, Strawbs et al. I'm particularly liking the surging Who-esque jangle of 'Like That', but I feel like I need a few more listens to properly get my head round what is quite a varied and densely written album. It's a keeper.

  • Available on:
    CD £10.89, Cassette tape £6.39, LP £14.89

Frizzled
Running

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

9/10 according to our ReviewBot3000 on 18th July 2014

Cool little three song 7" here from noisy punk types Running. I'm enjoying it, it's kind of like Scratch Acid fighting Pissed Jeans in a giant mud pit. The guitar, bass and drums are all tightly locked in, churning out pacey knuckle-dragging riffs while the singer yelps and hollers all Yow-like under a greasy film of reverb and lo-fi murk.
 
On the A side are two sub-10-minute ragers while on side B we get the epic three and a half minute 'Totally Fired' which features some of the most audaciously grotesque guitar licking I've heard in a while, eventually settling into a Rudimentary Peni-ish noise punk racket once the vocals join in. The final part gets even more audacious, switching crazily between the Peni-esque riffing and some bafflingly nasty distorto-loops that sound like a ZX Spectrum load-up tape. Proper filthy future-punk, highly recommended.

  • Available on:
    7" £4.99

Jaguwar Ride / Splittery Splat
Electric Eels

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9/10 according to our ReviewBot3000 on 18th July 2014

Here's another one from HoZac's reissue series and it's only the Electric fucking Eels. This lot, in case you haven't come across them before, made snotty and gnarled post-Stooges proto-punk way back in '74/'75. Both these songs were recorded in 1975 and both follow the formula of ferocious everything-in-the-red production and heads down punk rock velocity comfortably before the Ramones and the Sex Pistols were credited with inventing the genre.
 
On side A is 'Jaguwar Ride', a sloppy, chugging number which is essentially a slightly glammy power-pop song but drenched in disgusting hi-gain fuzz and an Iggy-inspired vocal sneer. 'Splittery Splat' on the other side is even more power-pop than the A side but is most remarkable for its guitar solo - a white hot splutter of grossly overdriven trebly tang that soars of the downstroke-heavy gallop all inelegant and obnoxious and free. Even if this had been recorded yesterday it'd be a great record.

  • Available on:
    7" £5.89

Reveries
Noveller & Thisquietarmy

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9/10 according to our ReviewBot3000 on 18th July 2014

Brooklyn's Sarah "Noveller" Lipstate and Montreal's Eric "Thisquietarmy" Quach join forces here for a long-player containing four meditative duets. The two guitarists' style seems almost tailor-made for a collaboration such as this, since both of them specialise in slow-oozing drone'n'tone compositions which mix a shimmering angelic lightness with subtle drawn-out sadness.
 
It doesn't take a scientist to figure out what'll happen when these two come together. Drones, that's what. Achingly beautiful, economically placed, lazily drifting concordant drones, blurred and woozy, split into four passages titled 'Reverie I', 'Reverie II', 'Reverie III' and (no prizes for guessing) 'Reverie IV'. Perhaps I am being a little flippant but that's only because the chances of this record being anything but the silky therapeutic ambient drift I'm listening to were, frankly, slim. This is lovingly constructed, patient and ultimately totally gorgeous. Plus there's a picture of brutalist architecture on the sleeve. Win-win.

 

  • Available on:
    LP £14.69

Hunger
Dan Melchior und das Menace

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8/10 according to our ReviewBot3000 on 18th July 2014

Dan Melchior is back...kind of. 'Hunger' is a collection of unreleased recordings recorded between 2008 and 2011, but don't worry, it's way too good to just be dismissed as an odds and sods anthology. Melchior's brand of unpredictable and often anarchic experimental pop is a hard one to describe because he flits around between genres so much, and is as comfortable doing slightly twee acoustic psych-pop as he is baffling your mind with clanging layers of experimental noise-pop and primitive lo-fi electronics.
 
I'm particularly enjoying the '77-style punk of 'Rip It To Pieces' and the A Frames/Intelligence-ish automaton rock of 'Her Incredible Shoes' but there's not a dud track on here. As an album it has a weird sprawling scattershot feel to it but it certainly doesn't feel like a collection of tracks that weren't good enough to put out at the time. Lovely cover of Kevin Ayers's 'Town Feeling' at the end too. Real cool shit from this reliable contrarian.

 

  • Available on:
    LP £15.09, CD £12.79

Hyperdub 10.2
Various

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

8/10 according to our ReviewBot3000 on 18th July 2014

Here's the second compilation from Hyperdub this year to celebrate their 10th birthday, and it only takes a quick glance at the press release to see why they've been dominating the post-dubstep landscape over the past five years as we focus on the second half of the label's inaugural decade. Burial's here, DVA, Cooly G, Kode9, Hype Williams' Dean Blunt and Inga Copeland, even a cut from late visionary DJ Rashad.
 
According to the press release the album is "laced with brand new cuts" but my knowledge of the records isn't such that I can tell you which those are. The Burial track they're using is on 'Untrue', I know that much... There's some really cool collaboration action going on in places too - Ikonika and Dam Funk get together for the sexy robo-soul groover 'I Know (That You Are the 1)', while ex-Spacek Morgan Zarate is joined by Roses Gabor for one song and Eska and Ghostface Killah for another, showing off his versatility by switching from blurred, sparsely arranged future soul to lighthearted summery groove-loops. Nice comp, as you'd expect from a label with this much quality to choose from.

 

  • Available on:
    CD £8.79

Marigold And Cable
Alex Cobb

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8/10 according to our ReviewBot3000 on 18th July 2014

Got an LP of drones here from San Diego's Alex Cobb, two on each side of this LP. This guy likes to take things very, very slow. That's why they call them drones. To start with we've got 'Famosa' which is a slightly cacophonous and organic sounding orchestra-tuning-up type drone, leading in to the very different 'Rain at the Fete' with its synthetic swells of pure tone and gentle guitar interjections, almost like a less earthy Stars of the Lid.
 
Flip it and we have 'Oversong' which features his buddy Maxwell Croy on Koto...this one seems to be somewhere between the organic and synthetic drones of the two contrasting pieces on side A, with a fuggy cloud of wavering synth hum hovering over some weeping bowed string droning. This one is strangely rousing. Finally we close with mystery drone 'Marine Layer', which I will refrain from describing so that I don't give away the ending. If you're into your therapeutic droney business like Kyle Bobby Dunn and Stars of the Lid and Celer, you'll find plenty of subtle slow-flowing tones to sink into here.

 

  • Available on:
    LP £14.69

Molkedrippen
Piiptsjilling

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8/10 according to our ReviewBot3000 on 18th July 2014

Here's a lovely mysterious CD on SPEKK from minimal supergroup Piiptsjilling, who feature two Kleefstra brothers and Rutger "Machinefabriek" Zuydervelt as well as someone I'm not familiar with, Mariska Baars. 'Molkedrippen' is their second album, a seven-piece suite of improvisations for guitar, vocals and electronics, performed with no prior preparation.
 
This quartet are all subtle and patient practitioners so despite the improvised nature of this music it never seems cluttered, hurried or overtly discordant. Guitars throb and shudder and drone over cool, calming electronic atmospherics, and every now and then someone says a poem. It's all very "beard", cerebral music for serious, intense listening, but I can't argue with the subtle, sensitive and detailed execution. If droney improvised guitar-and-electronics soundscapery with intermittent poetry recital sounds exciting to you, this is probably the finest example of the genre you'll hear all week.

  • Available on:
    CD £9.99

Pe’ahi
The Raveonettes

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8/10 according to our ReviewBot3000 on 18th July 2014

Having been a little disappointed at the lack of pop tunes on the new Holly Herndon offering, I now turn to a band who I'm confident will deliver on that front. The Raveonettes have been plugging away for years honing their darkpop/shoegaze aesthetic, and interestingly on 'Pe'ahi' they combine this with some surfpop and tropicalia elements to excellent effect, their sultry, dreamy songs finding an almost Twilight Singers-esque warm pulse on tracks like 'Killer In The Streets'.
 
It's actually a really well realised album, laid back and thoughtful and often more upbeat and likeable than this pair can be. I particularly like it when they're getting their guitar distortion on - they're really good at carving out a wall of shoegazey fuzz and it's particularly effective here in conjunction with that laid back Californian feel, the bright melodies and girl-group harmonies partially obscured by the sonic juggernaut they're riding. I'm getting good vibes from this record, they're a band I've historically struggled to get on with but this is my favourite thing I've heard from them to date.

  • Available on:
    CD £11.29, LP £16.49

Body Sound
Holly Herndon

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7/10 according to our ReviewBot3000 on 18th July 2014

Here's a slightly baffling offering from Holly Herndon, a kind of sound design/musique concrete piece, made in collaboration with choreographer and dancer Cuauhtemoc Peranda. Herndon has recorded the dancer in action and rearranged the sounds of heavy breathing, foot squeaks and flaps and thuds into a lengthy and fragmented passage of disorienting and amorphous sound jumble.
 
It's all very worthy and high brow but it's not the easiest listen and people who've been seduced by her experimental pop side should take note that this is all experiment and no pop. That said it is an interesting one, and quite an intense listen. The heavy breathing section in particular made me feel strangely uncomfortable, like I've accidentally walked in on someone in the throes of an onanistic meditation. It'll appeal to the kind of people who like Eli Keszler and that Andrea Belfi record where he imitated skateboard noises with his drums, but I have to admit I prefer it when Herndon does things with rhythm and melody...I'm so old-fashioned.

 

  • Available on:
    10" £16.99

Clear Lake Forest
The Black Angels

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6/10 according to our ReviewBot3000 on 18th July 2014

Self-appointed leaders of the Austin psych-rock scene the Black Angels have a new EP out this week, with seven songs squeezed onto this 45rpm 12". I've never completely got on with this band, they play a well-observed and inoffensive brand of psychedelic pop with a slavish love of the '60s and a slight nod to Britpop which is well summed up by the opening track here, 'Sunday Evening', which sounds like The Charlatans covering Nilsson's 'The Point'.
 
They're at their best when they're doing their big rousing layers of psychedelia with wah guitar atop a strangely indistinct swell of stomping BJM-ish hypno-rock, but I still struggle to put my finger on what's distinct about their sonic personality. It's all perfectly competent and if you like their albums you'll not be disappointed here either, but as a psych-rock lover this band frustrate me. I feel like everyone else gets it and I don't. An alright record by a consistently alright band.

  • Available on:
    LP £14.99, CD £11.29

From Scotland With Love
King Creosote

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

6/10 according to our ReviewBot3000 on 18th July 2014

King Creosote has only gone and made another album. That's just so like him, isn't it? Typical Creosote behaviour. This one is his parting shot to the UK ahead of the coming referendum, 'From Scotland With Love'. I'll be honest here, I've never been too crazy about the King's earnest and dewy-eyed Scot-pop formula and this isn't exactly changing my mind about him.
 
However it does contain all the ingredients that his long-time fans are so fond of. His heavily accented voice takes the fore of course, with tasteful harmonies and little touches of strings, clarinet, piano, etc filling out his economically written, tasteful songsmithery as he walks squarely down the middle of a road with Alasdair Roberts on one side and Cass McCombs on the other. The most interesting point moment here comes in 'Largs' which is a lively and jazzy number with a bit of a Hebrew/gypsy folk vibe (think Gogol Bordello) and some cool clarinet work.
 
As an album it's all very earnest and heartfelt and it's not objectively bad, but whether you enjoy it will depend on whether you're already a fan of his bleaty voice and industriously crafted sentimental pop style.

  • Available on:
    CD £10.09, Double LP £19.59, LP £15.69

Demolition Plot J-7
Pavement

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

8/10 according to our Robin on 18th July 2014

Demolition Plot J-7 showcases a premature version of the band who would be Pavement, comprised of Stephen Malkmus and Scott Kannberg on whatever instruments they feel like, both making different rackets in the same room. Glancing over the liner notes, which read like a discombobulated Malkmusian lyric sheet, it’s obvious the duo barely remembers what they played, and that they really couldn’t give a fuck: they credit themselves with creating hoots, playing pseud-piano, and point out innovations from “inaudible solos” to “african thangs”.

None of that is heard among this record of rough-around-the-edges lo-fi and gruesome guitar wailing. It’s a stunning reissue that reminds Pavement fans of how raw and impassioned their favourite band were before they got stoned and started making lazy, wacky music with clean guitars. We’re talking before before Malkmus became an accidental poet laureate, instead focusing on gnarly guitar chords played with a sludge-like precision. Cracks of the band who would go on to make summertime’s lo-fi classic, Slanted and Enchanted, do occasionally peer through the cracks: the sly guitar riff in ‘Perfect Depth’ hints at a bright future for indie rock, predicting the jangly, blindly optimistic sound Guided By Voices would go on to champion, and for all their scrappy playing, Malkmus and Kannberg wrestle a compelling melody out of ‘Fork Lift’.

Ultimately though, this is a rare treat of a record on which Pavement are tough as nails; in a year in which Malkmus has put out one of his most meticulous and downright bizarre solo records, Demolition Plot J-7 is a welcome reminder that the indie rock wizard was once careless, impulsive and pretty punk rock.

  • Available on:
    7" £11.99