I know we big these selections up every week, but this particular New Music Friday outing really is a strong field.
Actress, Adrienne Lenker, clipping., This Is The Kit and Pallbearer can all legitimately claim to be leaders in their respective fields. Aside from this quintet, Natural Sciences is a label which has been doing bits in the scuzziest corners of the UK clubsphere for some time now, epic45 have been firm favourites at Norman Towers for about two decades, and LOMA boast members of some of our favourite U.S. indie acts. Throw in a striking debut from Colombian polymath Ela Minus and a new album from John Actual Frusciante and I’d say that’s a pretty strong hand, all in all.
Actress albums have long had a slightly abstracted relationship with the club - even when the one born Darren Cunningham delivers hoofing techno rhythms or booky basslines, there’s often a haziness about his music which sends your mind spinning away from the dancefloor. As such, it's sort of fitting that Cunningham’s new LP ‘Karma & Desire’ emerges at a point when none of us are able to pull shapes at the local discotheque. Aided by an impressive guestlist that includes Sampha and Zsela, ‘Karma & Desire’s etherised boogie recalls Funkineven, Huerco S. and Dean Blunt.
There are good songwriters, and then there are good songwriters. Adrianne Lenker is, without question, a good songwriter - both her solo output and the music that she makes leading Big Thief evidence someone who has elevated a natural gift with concerted study and a commitment to her craft. The ‘songs’ part of her new double-album ‘songs and instrumentals’ proves Lenker’s quality eleven times over - these chiming, wistful acoustic numbers are perfect listening now that Autumn has fully settled on 2020. Meanwhile ‘instrumentals’ sees Lenker breaking new ground by delivering two side-long sound collages.
clipping. intended to issue ‘Visions Of Bodies Being Burned’ soon after its sister-album ‘There Existed An Addiction To Blood’, an LP which emerged almost exactly a year ago. The pandemic put pay to the initial release date of ‘Visions …’, but now that this thing has arrived we can confirm that it has been well worth the wait. This is another brusque, confrontational collection from the LA hip-hop group. Strains of hip-hop both old and new - The Bomb Squad, horrorcore, snap - intermingle with industrial and punk influences here. ‘Visions Of Bodies Being Burned’ is a heady brew indeed.
Ela Minus is an artist with a lot in her arsenal: she’s played in hardcore punk bands; she’s studied both jazz drumming AND synthesiser design; and now she’s delivered an album, ‘acts of rebellion’, which brings all of that background together with her love for techno and deep house. The result is an LP of pulsating dance-pop that is at once driven and wiry yet also contemplative. Fans of recent releases from Kelly Lee Owens and Rival Consoles should find plenty to love about ‘acts of rebellion’.
For those unfamiliar with this wonderful group, epic45 are a Staffordshire duo who make beautifully watercolour music that exists in a space between ambient, dream-pop, drone and post-rock. Their latest LP ‘Cropping The Aftermath’ delivers on this sound once more, though memories of pirate radio sets heard through bedroom walls as teens also fleck tracks like ‘Buildings Aren't Haunted, People Are’ with a pleasing two-step influence. epic45 by name, epic45 by nature.
Look - if you only know John Frusciante from his time in Red Hot Chili Peppers, then you’re going to be a bit blindsided by his solo material. Frusciante’s extensive output spans everything from impressionistic sound art to proggy experimental songraft to the acid-fried braindance he’s made as Trickfinger. New LP ‘Maya’ is notable for being the first time that the Trickfinger sound has made its way into a record released under Frusciante’s own name. I suppose that, if you squint, the zippy breakcore freakouts here kind of sound like Flea noodling away on his bass guitar? Whatever - ‘Maya’ is a fun listen either way.
While it might be a stretch to call LOMA an indie-rock supergroup, there’s certainly some notable talent in the mix on their second LP ‘Don’t Shy Away’ - Wye Oak’s Jenn Wasner and Okkervil River/Shearwater chap Jonathan Meiburg are two of those in the supporting cast here. Up front, Emily Cross leads LOMA into a world of quiet-storm indie flecked with baroque-pop influences and passages of enigmatic ambience. Julia Holter, The Shins and Warpaint can all be heard hovering at the corners of ‘Don’t Shy Away’.
Thought that Pallbearer leaving their label Profound Lore would lead to a softening of the band’s sound, did ya? Well, think again sunshine! Because the experimental metal group’s fourth LP ‘Forgotten Days’ is as heavy as anything else in their murky, moody discography. We find the Arkansas mainstays stirring the cauldron once more here, adding prog, alt-metal and hard rock influences to a core style of overcast doom.
This Is The Kit - both the solo project of one Kate Stables and also the name of the band that she leads - deserve all the success that’s come to them in recent times. The project has been running in one form or another for close to two decades now, but things have really kicked on since This Is The Kit debuted on Rough Trade back in 2017 with ‘Moonshine Freeze’. ‘Off Off On’ is arguably the best realisation of Stables’ vision for the project yet. The album largely leans on propulsive, slightly folksy indie-rock grooves, while occasional flurries of woodwind/brass arrangements have the motion of minimalist composition about them.
Natural Sciences are responsible for some of our favourite club tackle of recent years - records like Mutant Joe’s ‘Operation Chaos’ and Sansibar’s ‘White Swan’ have established the imprint as a go-to for gnarled electro, grizzly machine funk and technoid bass. The Manchester label celebrates bringing up a half-century of releases with ‘Age In Decline’, a compilation which delivers both old favourites and unreleased heat. ‘Age In Decline’ is darkside club fare that’s absolutely perfect for spooky season.