It's July. That's come around quickly hasn't it. And yet, somehow, it also feels like we've lived a thousand lifetimes in the first half of 2020.
As anyone who knows their medieval English folk bangers will already be aware, sumer is icumen in. And new music is icumen in as well - icumen in on Fridays, no less. What’s more, there's a wee dram of folk influence to be found in a couple of the records listed below and all. Those entries sit alongside others which range from upstart rock to tears-in-the-club drum ‘n’ bass. Lhude sing cuccu, young knight.
A.A. Williams - Forever Blue
A.A. Williams’ debut LP ‘Forever Blue’ is a grandiose record - after all, you don’t nab support slots with Explosions In The Sky and The Sisters Of Mercy if your music can't hold its own against those bands’ widescreen brands of rock. However, the Sisters’ stalwart goth style is also rather different to Explosions’ heart-wrenching post-rock, and ‘Forever Blue’ sets up camp somewhere in the middle, with Williams pitching her tent not far from Hilary Woods’ recent work for Sacred Bones.
Dream Wife - So When You Gonna…
The press release for Dream Wife’s ‘So When You Gonna…’ cites CSS as a major influence. It’s not wrong! As anyone who was a fan of the Brazilian art-pop group back in the day will know, Cansei De Ser Sexy are a great band to follow in the footsteps of - they did hits (‘Let’s Make Love And Listen To Death From Above’ still slaps and you are wrong if you think otherwise, sorry, I don’t make the rules), they did loud ones, they did groovy ones, they did naughty ones. ‘So When You Gonna…’ does all those things too, but also chucks an extra dose of riot-grrl energy into the mix for good measure. Great craic.
epic45 - We Were Never Here
Brimful of Asha on the epic45 over here. The beloved duo hit double-figures for studio albums with ‘We Were Never Here’, but the joys of their warm, impressionistic blend of ambient, post-rock and hauntological electronics are just as good the tenth time around. It began raining heavily outside my window when I was listening to ‘We Were Never Here’, which somehow feels right - in a good way like. File next to Biosphere and bvdub.
Hania Rani - Home
There's dancing behind movie scenes, behind the movie scenes - Hania Rani! The Cornershop comparisons continue! Well, actually there aren’t many other similarities between Rani’s new LP ‘Home’ and the idiosyncratic indie-rock of Tjinder Singh’s band. As you will know if you are one of the millions of people who bought Rani’s previous album ‘Esja’ from us (thank you!), the Polish pianist/composer deals in that brand of delicate, sort-of-classical music which the likes of Olafur Arnalds and Portico Quartet have made such a pretty penny from in recent years.
Holy Wave - Interloper
When an album comes out on a label called The Reverberation Appreciation Society you can usually hedge your bets that it’s going to be a psych-rock record before you’ve set needle to wax. And Holy Wave’s ‘Interloper’ is a psych-rock record, pretty much, flitting between driving Motorik rock and a more spiralised style on the slower numbers. However, there is also a sense of wistful dreaminess to ‘Interloper’ which invokes shoegazers such as Ride and DIIV as much as it does, say, Wooden Shjips.
Lithics - Tower of Age
Miss the days when Shopping sounded like they were trying to tie each other up with guitar strings on every song? Yearn for a time when Parquet Courts were intent on cranking out stiff, jerky punk rather than heading off down to the Mardi Gras parade? If you answered yes to either of the above, or just like to kick back with a bit of wire-brush jank-rock every once in a while, then ‘Tower Of Age’, the new LP from Portland quartet Lithics, is the album for you.
Noveller - Arrow
Noveller wins the award for the week’s best song title with ‘Zeaxanthin’, which is just a fantastic word. The one born Sarah Lipstate has also made a damn fine record in the form of ‘Arrow’. This music is weightless and frequently beautiful, but you would only really describe it as ambient if you felt absolutely compelled to slap a genre on it - generally there is too much going on here, and some of the tracks veer towards avant-garde, industrial or concrete sonics. Glenn Branca is cited as an influence, and we can also detect some Seabuckthorn to ‘Arrow’.
The Fiery Furnaces - Down at the So and So on Somewhere
After spending the 2010s pursuing fruitful solo careers, brother/sister duo Eleanor and Matthew Friedberger reignite their Fiery Furnaces (pun intended, or not, idk ¯\_(ツ)_/¯). The pair’s indie-pop chops prove to be in good nick despite all the fallow years on this new 7-inch single, entitled, with trademark whimsy, ‘Down at the So and So on Somewhere’. There's plenty of Magnetic Fields in the mix as one might expect, likewise Sufjan Stevens, and The Fiery Furnaces also return the compliment to Dirty Projectors, a group who jacked a fair bit of the Friedbergers’ steez while the siblings were in absentia.
Woods - Strange To Explain
You can always rely on Woods. The New York group have been cranking out melodious, slightly psychedelic folk-rock for well over a decade now, and their latest album ‘Strange To Explain’ doesn’t break with tradition. There might be fewer freak-folk numbers than there were at the beginning as well as a stronger deference to the same soft-rock textures as those groups who have emerged in Woods’ wake (Whitney, for instance), but fundamentally this band remain masters of sonorous tuneage.
ТПСБ - Whities 031
ТПСБ, which comes out as “dark past bright future” when transliterated into English, will be the final drop from Whities before it morphs into AD 93 Records. This makes ‘Whities 031’ a notable release in and of itself, bringing down the curtain on one of the foremost British electronic and avant-garde imprints of the 2010s. However, if the wintry, sombre drum ‘n’ bass sounds which populate this EP are anything to go by, DJ Tasker’s label has a bright future ahead of it whatever the name.