I’m gonna put on an iron shirt, and chase the new music out of friday.
Yep, that’s right, there’s a Max Romeo record in the mix this week. This is a good thing - too many people know Romeo as The Bloke From That Prodigy Tune nowadays, and as such not enough focus is given to the reggae singer’s impressive back-catalogue. Speaking of impressive back-catalogues, this week’s roundup also includes releases from electro whizz The Home Current, loop savant Julianna Barwick, techno trickster Omar S and country-rock veterans The Jayhawks. Coming up behind them are the likes of Mr. Ben & The Bens and The Beths - artists who may not currently have too many albums in their discography but are already well on the way to great things.
Julianna Barwick - Healing Is A Miracle
Julianna Barwick makes beautiful music. I know that ‘beautiful music’ is an overused phrase, but anyone who's heard any of Barwick’s records down the years will know that it is more than justified in this instance. The atmospheres which Barwick creates from looped vocals and processed electronics invoke the same sense of awe one associates with artists such as William Basinski and Grouper. ‘Healing Is A Miracle’, Barwick’s latest full-length, sees her creating yet more sublime work, in this case with assistance from Jónsi, Nosaj Thing and Mary Lattimore on three of the tracks.
Max Romeo - Revelation Time
Throughout the late-60s and 1970s Max Romeo was one of reggae’s most intriguing and brilliant artists, delivering classic tunes like ‘Chase The Devil’ and ‘Wet Dream’ while also speaking eloquently on political matters. The history of his ‘Revelation Time’ LP is slightly convoluted - recorded in 1975 alongside Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, this album has been released under a few different names down the years. This edition returns the collection known variously as ‘Open The Iron Gate’ and ‘Warning! Warning!’ to its original title, but also bolsters the tracklist with additional versions and bonus tunes. One of the finest examples of soulful, socially conscious roots music you're ever likely to hear.
Mr Ben & The Bens - Life Drawing
Mr. Ben & The Bens are mates with The Lovely Eggs, so it's no surprise that there is a little pinch of whimsy to their music. However, on new LP ‘Life Drawing’ the band stop short of the full-blown zaniness that characterises their Lancastrian pals. Instead, what we get here is a collection of tender song studies which invoke the very best in off-kilter pop - Half Man Half Biscuit, Richard Dawson and Cate Le Bon all spring to mind when listening to these charming ditties.
NZCA Lines - Pure Luxury
NZCA Lines records have never been shy affairs - Michael Lovett’s project has always peddled an evocative brand of synth-pop, channelling that sound’s 80s heyday through an acutely millennial kind of angst. However, ‘Pure Luxury’ goes a step further, fully embracing the brashness of these tones in order to at once revel in their gaudiness and also examine them from the inside. This approach means ‘Pure Luxury’ can be filed alongside the likes of Confidence Man and Metronomy while the most open moments here find Lovett approaching Hot Chip territory.
Omar S - Fuck Resident Advisor
That’s the spirit. Omar S is rarely one to hide his idiosyncrasies or shy away from a confrontation - indeed, these are qualities which have made him one of the clubsphere’s most enduring figures. He's also always had the material to back up his is forthright personality, and new double-12” ‘Fuck Resident Advisor’ is the latest strong showing from the FXHE Records boss. Once again this collection straddles the border between house and techno - entries such as ‘Don't Leave Me Standing Yeaa’ are smooth rollers ala Theo Parrish, while ‘Mell'like Boom Boom In'dair!’ is sterner and cuts like ‘Simply’ land somewhere in the middle.
The Beths - Jump Rope Gazers
You started rooting for The Beths after one listen to their debut LP ‘Future Me Hates Me’. The 2018 album was heartfelt and warm, its melodious emo-grunge tunes - part-Lemonheads, part-Cloud Nothings - delivered with gusto. Two years later we find the band mining the same sonic trenches as on that aforementioned record with ‘Jump Rope Gazers’. However, now their lyrical concerns have shifted slightly off the back of a couple of years hard touring. The compassion and emotional intelligence which The Beths displayed in the past serves them well in this newly reflective mode.
The Home Current - Cylinder Moses
He’s great, is The Home Current. The past few years have seen the one born Martin Holm deliver a great run of records for labels like Castles In Space and Polytechnic Youth. His latest offering, an LP on fledgling imprint Lonely Mountain entitled ‘Cylinder Moses’, finds the Danish producer presenting another set of perfectly-calibrated electronic tracks. This music manages to hit that sweet spot of being eminently danceable and also decidedly weird, the techno and electro sounds which anchor the record twisted up by Holm in a manner which recalls both the 12th Isle label and the strange invocations of The Cyclist.
The Jayhawks - XOXO
In another life The Jayhawks would have been as big as Neil Young. Ok, maybe not Neil Young - possibly Drive-By Truckers or Big Star, or maybe even Wilco. You see, the veteran alt-country group have a discography that can go toe-to-toe with all of the above, one that stretches back to the mid-80s and now, with the release of ‘XOXO’, runs to eleven studio albums. Perfect listening for the long summer evenings, is this.
Various - Pacific Breeze 2: Japanese City Pop, AOR & Boogie 1972-1986
As you will know if you read our recent feature on the glut of Japanese records that have been reissued in the western world in recent times, Light In The Attic know their onions when it comes to golden-age City Pop. ‘Pacific Breeze 2: Japanese City Pop, AOR & Boogie 1972-1986’ follows the hugely successful first volume which the label put out last year, and once again it collects some superb rare grooves laid down by Japanese artists in the 70s and 80s. Sleek, funky and sophisticated pop music the comes lavishly packaged - what more can you ask for really?
Vinnum Sabbathi - Of Dimensions And Theories
Vinnum Sabbathi are a Mexican outfit who follow in the long and noble tradition of metal bands whose work revolves around high-concept science fiction. Their latest offering ‘Of Dimensions and Theories’ is no different in this regard, what with it being set a few decades in the future and concerning humankind's attempts to colonize other planets having ruined this one. The record’s dark prophesying is set to music which moves between Sleep-esque abstractions and grinding drone-metal.