Shot through the New Music, and you’re to blame! You give Friday a bad name!
It’s one of the loudest roundups we’ve had for a while this time out - the records listed below from Thurston Moore, Deftones, I Like Trains and IDLES will all put your hi-fi setups to the test. Mind you, those angsty rock records are balanced out by a few doses of whimsy, be it pretty electronics from Khotin or the artsy pop of Kate NV and Hen Ogledd. Throw in a long-awaited return from Factory Records dilettantes A Certain Ratio, and boundary-pushing explorations courtesy of Shakey and Nicolas Jaar, and you’ve ended up with another toothsome ten to see you through until next week’s roundup.
If all those A Certain Ratio reissues last year got you dreaming that the group might be on the brink of releasing new music, then we have some good news for you! ‘ACR Loco’, the legendary Mancunian outfit’s first LP for a dozen years, finds the punk-funk pioneers on top form. There’s a balance of ACR sounds both old and new here - some of the tracks dig into the more dreamy downtempo stylings of their turn-of-the-century records while tunes like ‘Yo Yo Gi’ and ‘Berlin’ front their definitive art-funk tones. ‘ACR Loco’ serves as a reminder that groups like LCD Soundsystem and !!! owe A Certain Ratio a sizeable debt.
Bloomin’ ‘eck, new Deftones! ‘Ohms’ (‘Deftohms’?) is the all-conquering alt-metal group’s first LP for four years, but despite the elapsed time the band play reassuringly to form here - tracks like ‘Genesis’ and ‘Ohms’ are the sort of troubled, rifftacular beatdowns that the Deftones name has become a byword for over time. It’s a shame that no-one will be able to pit to these tunes at a festival over the summer, because ‘Ohms’ makes me want to open this home office up.
Burn down the disco! Hen the blessed Ogledd! Because the music they constantly play … well, maybe it doesn’t say anything to me *about* my life, but it certainly enriched my day today. This bunch are extremely easy to love, a sort of alt-music supergroup featuring the massed talents of Richard Dawson, Rhodri Davies, Dawn Bothwell and Sally Pilkington. On new LP ‘Free Humans’, Hen Ogledd apply a typically quixotic touch to the sounds of 70s studio-rock, psych-pop and library electronics. The results land somewhere around Islet/Cate Le Bon territory.
When I was growing up in south London I used to read the NME every week. This was the mid-00s, so the British indie boom was very much under way, and when the mag trained its spotlight on Leeds you’d often find the name I Like Trains bandied about amid the Sunshine Underground/Kaiser Chiefs/Pigeon Detectives chat. Nowadays I live in Leeds and vaguely know one of the band, but the announcement of the first I Like Trains studio LP for eight years sends me straight back to my teenage heyday (read: waking nightmare of crippling anxiety). ‘Kompromat’ is a timely reminder that doomy, driving post-punk existed long before the Shame/Fontaines D.C./Protomartyr/Preoccupations wave began to crest.
Every time I hear or read the word ‘mono’ nowadays my neural pathways lead me to the same point, specifically the breakdown of Cornershop’s transcendent ‘Brimful Of Asha’. ‘Ultra Mono’ - forty-five! As you’ll probably know if you’ve spent any time reading the indie-rock rags these past few years, IDLES aren’t much like Cornershop. Their new LP, which has been produced by deskman du-jour Kenny Beats, delivers not witty psychedelic pop but more of the chest-beating shout-punk which has buoyed IDLES' in recent times.
“But Kate NV’s ‘Room For The Moon’ came out several months ago,” we hear you cry; “that’s not new music at all!” This is true, but ‘Room For The Moon’ earns its place in this roundup through the newly-minted Dinked Edition of the album which emerged this week. The Dinked release not only allows those of you who haven’t yet experienced the Russian musician’s winningly quixotic brand of art-pop to get on board, it also comes on lovely swirled clear + blue + yellow wax - and with a set of stickers to boot!
‘Finds You Well’ - words which will be familiar to anyone who has received an email during the pandemic, and now a phrase which announces the return of rising Canadian artist Khotin. If you’ve got your ears around previous Khotin releases like ‘New Tab’ and ‘Beautiful You’ you’ll already be aware that the Vancouver-based producer deals in a dreamy brand of downtempo electronica that comes off like a kind of hypnagogic take on Boards Of Canada. It’s a vibe which soothes and brightens any mood, and one which is maintained delightfully throughout ‘Finds You Well’.
Nicolas Jaar’s ‘Telas’ follows the ‘Cenizas’ LP he dropped earlier in 2020, and the two records can be seen as partner pieces - indeed, Jaar himself describes them as sister albums. There are certainly similarities between ‘Telas’ and ‘Cenizas’; both find Jaar’s early forays into low-lit deep house recede into the distance as he delivers foreboding electronic soundscapes. However, ‘Telas’ is also a cultured record full of twisted chamber instrumentation. The boundary-pushing releases of the Slip label make for good bedfellows for both ‘Telas’ and ‘Cenizas’.
Shakey is a new project which finds Silvia Kastel and Lizzie Davis (Wilted Woman) uniting to create expansive and unusual electronic tracks. This is one to file alongside recent releases from Shackleton and Serpente, the insistent rhythms and layered percussion swirled up with dubwise atmospheric effects and the sort of hyperreal organic tones one associates with fourth world music. ‘Shakey’ is a rich and heady brew that draws you in ever deeper as its five tracks push onwards.
A bumper offering from Sir Thurston of Moore here. ‘By The Fire’ runs to nine songs, but a good portion of those top ten minutes and several of them take up pretty much a full side of wax. The album strikes a nice balance between the scuffed rock jank that we’ve come to know and love Moore for down the years and his more unpredictable whims - ‘Cantaloupe’, for example, shows off a bit of Beefheartian noodling. The first song on ‘By The Fire’ is called ‘Hashish’ as well, which is pretty jokes.