Joe Hisaishi is the composer behind those big Studio Ghibli movie soundtracks that you all love so much, tending to use piano as his predominant instrument. However on Kissho Tennyo, from 1984, we hear him using...view item »
Beautiful productions from Tel-Aviv’s Yotam Avni, teasing refreshing new branches out of Stroboscopic Artefacts’ enormous Berlin root. The beats are heavy and chugging and the attention to detail would impress a surgeon, but Avni’s touch with flickering fragments of brass jazz or, prominently on the last track,...view item »
The Mondo Groove label have got their hands on the archives of the Phantom Records label, and have enlisted Italian Italo expert and selector I-Robots to guide us listeners through the disco vaults. This vinyl collection features a lot of rare cuts getting re...view item »
The Wombats are back back back, with their fourth album to date: who knew? The mid-2000’s indie upstarts are now an international proposition, and they’ve got some synths now too. Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life (is this a problem The Wombats face?) is released on the group’s own ...view item »
Mexican duo Mint Field have been working on their album Pasar De Las Luces (Passing Lights) for two years. In this time they have honed their dream pop-meets-shoegaze sound which also takes in Krautrock and Yo La Tengo influences along the way. Double vinyl LP, CD and cassette tap...view item »
The nervously invigorating Palm have impressed us plenty already and return with an obnoxiously captivating record in Rock Island. It swerves away from their common, jangly lexicon and then points back towards it, offering a noisy, danceable, jubilant and melancholic record of stutter pop. They make loops...view item »
Sophomore LP from New York four-piece Public Access TV. Singles Metrotech and Lost in the Game feature infectious funk-inspired basslines, signalling a widening of horizons for the rockers. Never Enough is largely inspired by the band’s tumultuous last couple of years - including battles wit...view item »
John Bramwell does it the hard way. Playing 300+ shows per year, travelling in all weathers in a camper van armed with only a guitar and a dog. No wonder it's taken him time to come up with his first album of original material away from I Am Kloot. His careworn voice and melancholy songwriting has won him lots o...view item »
Camarão is considered one of the finest accordion players ever to come out of Northeastern Brazil, and his marvellous The Imaginary Soundtrack to a Brazilian Western Movie is a great, playful suite of gro...view item »
Ex Hex’s Betsy Wright and Flesh Wound’s Laura King come unite under the banner of Bat Fangs for this LP. The resulting sound finds a pleasing midpoint between the former’s grunge-pop tendencies and the garage-y tub-thumping of King. Tracks like ‘Wolfbite’ are fun re...view item »
Karen O of Yeah Yeah Yeahs wrote Yo! My Saint for fashion brand Kenzo. The French/Japanese clothing company asked Karen O to collaborate in what has been a surge of artistic creativity leading to the release of the spring/summer clothing collection. Michael Kiwanuka provides additional vocals. L...view item »
Mannequin Records founder Alessandro Adriani teams up with Stroboscopic Artefacts (Perc, Lucy and Klock) for this four-track EP. Enter The Fire is full of the kind of tense, dense dancefloor fugs that Adriani and Mannequin have become known for these pa...view item »
Songwriter star Holly Miranda makes further vital strides in her sound with Mutual Horse, her fourth and most outwardly developed LP -- she's drawn in collaborators including TV on the Radio's Kyp Malone and My Brightest Diamond's Shara Nov...view item »
Courtney Barnett is back with this tuneful and playful tune where her clever wordplay is finally matched to the sort of scratchy rock song that will stay in your ears long after the needle hits the run out groove. The song gets in my good books from the get go with an incredible intro that is almost worthy of Madness...view item »
Courtney Barnett is back with this tuneful and playful tune where her clever wordplay is finally matched to the sort of scratchy rock song that will stay in your ears long after the needle hits the run out groove. The song gets in my good books from the get go with an incredible intro that is almost worthy of Madness before things calm down into a song story word vomit. This time a unique but memorable chorus is attached so you can singalong if you want to. There's so many bits to this track that you'll need to play it again just to work out which bits you missed.
It's more tuneful and less wilfully skewed as her previous stuff, it's dare I say.....sweeter putting her in line with Cate Le Bon as a songwriter who can write a quirky tune but also make you singalong...oh and there's always that intro.
Another one. There’s rarely a week in which King Gizzard aren’t flexing a new record, and this happens to be their fifth of the year -- can someone do a count for how many riffs per annum that is? The Ozzie psych crew dropped ‘Polygondwanaland’ not a week ago, sharing it as a seasonal gift to their ever-merry fanbase. It ...view item »
Another one. There’s rarely a week in which King Gizzard aren’t flexing a new record, and this happens to be their fifth of the year -- can someone do a count for how many riffs per annum that is? The Ozzie psych crew dropped ‘Polygondwanaland’ not a week ago, sharing it as a seasonal gift to their ever-merry fanbase. It makes a nice change from their recent ventures into mind-numbing prog repetition, offering change-ups a plenty and lots of guitar bait ‘n’ switch.
After the tight but actually extremely loose ten minute opener, the band turn their cartoon attention to shorter and more melodically straightforward bubblegumming. The guitar lines and vocal lines trace each other like old friends doing a secret handshake, making for a record that’s constantly driving a hook home. Stray moments make songs stand out -- an acoustic strum worms its way into the corner of the title track, while a chiming piano accident announces the endless hard rock riffology of “Desert Dunes Welcome Weary Feet”. King Gizzard love to add little flourishes to songs that generally have one trick doled out by an ensemble dedicated to it.
It’s the best one of the year I think, for Gizzard: compact but not in a way that sacrifices the fun, the record focuses on the poppier element of their sound in a way I haven’t heard snce the wonderful ‘Quarters’. At long last they sound like they want to use their grooves to reward their audience’s attention rather than take it to Bowser’s castle and stow it away there.
The Dr. Jekyll to Fat White Family’s Mr. Hyde, Insecure Men sees Fat White-ers Saul Adamczewsi and Nathan Saoudi try their hand at some sort of Lynch-ian sugar-pop. While the ultra-low-budget sound nestles this record next to FWF’s Champagne Holo...view item »
The Splendour Of Fear is Felt's most glacial and otherworldly album. It's six tracks stretch and twist way beyond normal indie song length and as a result structure wise it kind of predates the wandering post rock of the likes of Mogwai. But Felt were full of classical flourishes aided most obviously by...view item »
Ignite the Seven Cannons, though brilliant and featuring the indie chart topping Primitive Painters always sounded as if this most clean and linear bands was lost in the fog of Robin Guthrie's swirling production. Ever the perfectionist, leader Lawrence has now gone back to remix some of these tracks to make the album soun...view item »
Before he hit paydirt producing the Stone Roses, John Leckie worked on one of Felt's best and most realised albums. The Strange Idols Pattern and Other Short Stories is another meanderingly titled album from this band's whose clipped arty indie pop is anything but flabby. Mixing the Velvet Underground...view item »
Felt were of course a completely unique entity. Led by the eccentric Lawrence they released ten understated but incredibly influential records across the decade we knew as the 1980s. The first was Crumbling the Antiseptic Beauty a gorgeous, dark and mysterious album full of plangent guitars and Lawrence's near spok...view item »
Would it be daft to say that Let the Snakes Crinkle Their Heads to Death is my favourite Felt album? It probably isn't but it is such a unique and unusual thing that it rises to the top when I think of their best work despite it's meagre contents and throwaway nature. Now retitled The Seventeenth Century, this ...view item »
Although he's not made a great record since the '80s, Felt's Lawrence is one of those music industry figures that it's easy to get obsessed about. A complete eccentric in a world of stodge, over the last ten years he's followed his muse into cheesy electro-pop with Go Kart Mozart (Bruce Springsteen ly...view item »
This is a welcome reissue of Hiroshi Sato’s Orient, a record whose first edition was released in 1979 and still fetches three-figure prices on Discogs. This is its first vinyl pressing outside of Japan. Sato & pals are producing some dangerously funky, feel-good J-synthpop here. White noise faded gently to evo...view item »
Third solo album from Belgian sound artist Koenraad Ecker released on his newly minted In Aulis label in an edition of 300 copies, housed in a lovely gatefold sleeve and mastered by Rashad Becker at D+M.
If you’ve heard his previ...view item »
Third solo album from Belgian sound artist Koenraad Ecker released on his newly minted In Aulis label in an edition of 300 copies, housed in a lovely gatefold sleeve and mastered by Rashad Becker at D+M.
If you’ve heard his previous albums released through Digitalis and LINE, you’ll know this guy has skills. Or indeed any of his albums as part of duo Lumisokea (Alter, Opal Tapes) alongside Andrea Taeggi or Stray Dogs with Frederik Meulyzer.
‘A Biology of Shadows’ is the type of adventurous, visionary work one can imagine coming out of the electro-acoustic research studios of GRM back in the day, but with a sound that’s absolutely 21st Century. All manner of intricate acousmatic and electronic sounds create a peculiar and vibrant environment filled with rock-like surfaces, strange viscous liquids and gases, familiar and unfamiliar shadowy forms, insect-like creatures and beyond. It’s a masterful, complex work from beginning to end and a real gateway into a space that can be thrillingly unnerving at times. Highly recommended.
A Humdrum Star is the second long-player from exponents of Jazz and electronica, GoGo Penguin. This is their second for Blue Note, following on from, A Man Made Object in 2016. The band were critically lauded for their set at SXSW earlier in the year and their 2014 album V2.0 was ...view item »
The best of the Frightened Rabbit herd was The Midnight Organ Fight, a glum emo folk classic that made everyone sad about someone's break-up. These gorgeous, countrified songs are perfect for the winter, which we very much wish was over -- we shan't hold the band responsible, but here's a bunch of rocking...view item »
It takes a lot of confidence to pull off extreme minimalism, and a decent amount of talent. MIDDEX's debut album, No Home, is aiming for these extremes. Synth lines repeated longer than you'd believe, rendered with a hardness of tone that makes this a text book 'punishing listen'. Limited to 300 copies....view item »
Drawing from krautrock, dream pop and uh.. socialism, Lake Ruth write energetic songs with warmth and heart. Their new album, Birds of America, is dense with atmosphere, all brought together with Allison Brice's ethereal vocals and Matt Schulz's (of Holy Fuck) propulsive drumming. Limited to 500 ...view item »
Japanese electronic music legend and former Yellow Magic Orchestra member Ryuichi Sakamoto's 2017 album 'async' graced numerous end of year lists.
An all-star cast of remixers have been assembled to re-work the material in their own distinctive visions; Arca, Fennesz, Oneohtrix Point Never, Motion Graphics, Alva Noto, Yves Tumo...view item »
Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) is Bowie at the dawn of the 80’s, trying to produce a more commercial sound than the preceding Berlin records, although Robert Fripp and his magic guitar are still in the ...view item »
With an expansive and climactic soundscape dripping in nostalgia, LA based trio Lo Moon release a debut album that justifies the hype surrounding their first single ‘Loveless’. Despite a spattering of melancholic synths and piano, this LP is a decidedly hopeful ode to electro-pop. The title track ‘Real Love’ sounds like t...view item »
Trust me: this is a scam. Last of the Easy Riders sound chill, I know -- there’s Grateful Dead in the lilt of their vocals and Allman Bros’ in the twang of their geetars -- but they think you’re philistines. I opened up my jewel case of ‘Unto the Earth&...view item »
Trust me: this is a scam. Last of the Easy Riders sound chill, I know -- there’s Grateful Dead in the lilt of their vocals and Allman Bros’ in the twang of their geetars -- but they think you’re philistines. I opened up my jewel case of ‘Unto the Earth’, popped out the CD and copped a message printed beneath: ‘VISIT YOUR NATIONAL PARKS’. Like a boy being mocked by his high-school deputy headmaster, I’m off for a shame-ridden holiday in the Lake District.
Ahem. On the newest Easy Riders record, the psychedelics are light and loving, with lovely melodies and jointly-cooed harmonies making a standing order. The guitars are as lovely as can be -- they might sound old-school as Eagles, but they could attract a good few fans of Martin Courtney or Surface to Air Missive. The keyboards, well, ditto -- between Supertramp and War on Drugs, pick your passion. Far from the wall-to-wall tripping of their debut, this record sits close to familiar melodies and kindly pastiches. Even at their more spooky, as on the record’s title track, they sound like someone who’s done it before, like a knowing tour guide to the Jefferson Airplane museum of light freakery.
I prefer it in country mode, but sometimes that matches up best with a bit of weird: the bold and valleyed riffs of “High and Lonesome” meet with plucked banjos and sun-in-your-eyes synth for a song that somehow, from within the depths of nonsense, comes together. It's safe to say they know what they doing, even when they don't.
Four cuts of dramatic, EBM-tinged techno - set to racing Italo tempos - from Boston duo Dead Husband. Classic chord sequences dutifully lead fraught vox samples through these dark, exquisitely-produced tracks. I'll wager some of this will crop up in the melodic range of a few dark parties. Mastered by Rafael Anton Irisar...view item »
Australian shoegaze outfit Lowtide return with their second full-length album, titled Southern Mind. We know the game with shoegaze of course, but Lowtide are bosses at constructing a good guitar swirl, and they cut in enough other pleasing flavours to keep it all lively. Released by Opposite Number....view item »
Here we are with more sci-fi synth heavy beat work, though this time pitting arpeggiated synths against distant chants and odd ritualistic darkness. This collaboration between Steve Moore and Daniel O'Sullivan also has ties to metallic genres, and so finds itself quite at home on the legendary Relapse Records....view item »
Quickly recorded with caution out in the wind, Onion is the fifth and most savoury of Shannon & the Clams releases. They cite a quick and impulsive recording environment, as studio man Dan Auerbach just had his instruments ready to go at all times. Expect the usual and avid throwback pop majesty ...view item »
Substantial collaboration between musician and spoken word storyteller Laurie Anderson and San Francisco’s Kronos Quartet. Landfall, a multimedia project inspired by Anderson’s experience of Hurricane Sandy, blends skillful instrumentation with her powerful spoken word descriptions of the storm. On N...view item »
Yet another Ethio-Jazz compilation here, this time courtesy of Lebanese crate-digger Ernesto Chahoud and Barely Breaking Even records. It would be easier to lament the slew of reissues of music from Ethiopia’s 60s/70s golden age if the music wasn’t so damn good. Mulatu Astatke featur...view item »
180g vinyl reissue of the ever-influential 2Pac's second album for its 25th anniversary. This was 2Pac's breakout album, getting singles into the Billboard Hot 100 for the first time. Though the production is a bit more radio ready, 2Pac is as sharp, critical and political as he was on his debut, 2Pacalypse....view item »
In 2015 I had one wish, and it was that the band Ought would release one record per year, with each one largely sounding the same as the last, ad nauseum, forever and all time. Such was the power of those first two Ought records. They needed not be entirely new -- drawing on the schematics of David Byrne, Mark E...view item »
In 2015 I had one wish, and it was that the band Ought would release one record per year, with each one largely sounding the same as the last, ad nauseum, forever and all time. Such was the power of those first two Ought records. They needed not be entirely new -- drawing on the schematics of David Byrne, Mark E. Smith and a portion of Slint -- as long as they were this brilliant, this emphatic, this soul-shaking. “Beautiful Blue Skies” will stand as the signature moment of what is now an era in Ought’s career -- with jangled guitars and scrambled noise energy, it made a double rainbow out of mundanity. Bringing their listener up. Out of nothing. Into something.
2016 came around and I did not get my wish; in 2018, I’m not getting it all over again. Tim Darcy and his Ought have no interest whatsoever in being a reliable, hook-heavy favourite band. As much could have been evidenced on Darcy’s solo record, ‘Saturday Night’, in which he started out like the Velvets before sinking his ship into a paranormal ether of weird experimentalism. On ‘Room Inside the World’, he continues to tinker, offering half a record of glitzier, Smiths-ier synth post-punk before delving into unprecedented miasmas. At first, I despised every moment of it -- now, having completed my adjustment period for Darcy’s new affectations, I can see a new and good Ought emerging.
Darcy’s performance still does it for me, and from within the rubble of my favourite band, that’s what counts first: his differently pointed voice might be a head-scratcher, but he can still reel off colourful lines like “I was a doctor, rooting for pain”. And so too can he swing a filler phrase -- an utterance or exhale -- into significance. “What if I told ya, what if I say?” he sings, at one point, converting his hum into a groan before the tune rises into its mix of keyboard chords and fuzzy guitar. On the record’s annoyingly good synth pop single “These 3 Things”, he oompfs and umpfs this squeaky-clean song into something more estranged.
There are moments where Ought have changed for the worse, if we’re judging them relative to the Ought standard -- the guitar solo on “These 3 Things” is so clunky you wonder if Darcy ever played a note before, especially when you can hear him dragging and stretching his strings with the same energy as before on the breakdown to “Disaffection”. There are songs, such as closer “Alice”, that feel formless, breaking up my favourite thing about ‘Sun Coming Down’ -- its ability to drive forward and keep its form in tact.
And yet… there are moments I’d never have expected Ought to pull off. There’s “Desire”, which sounds nothing like a Darcy song and yet could certainly be his best. It grows out of the kind of post-punk warble Eagulls leaned into on their last record -- hurling up its sorrow -- before revealing a second passage of languishing synth chords, sombre horns and lovely backing vocals. Here they are, and how: Darcy’s very own Greek chorus, here to help him when he feels he can’t be the inspiring teacher we all want him to be. These intricate, introspective moments feel unprecedented for this band -- the guitar bit in “Desire” can suck if it gives me something this unfathomably personal.
I’ve barely cracked the second half of this record yet -- it’s a wild, meandering trip that brings together easy-as-pie melodies and structures and just as happily collapses them. I’m writing you this super long, annoying essay to say that in 2018, an Ought album's gonna be a grower, and that's actually okay.
Moon pie. What a time to be alive. The grey and great Superchunk that exists in this decade make songs clearer and better formatted than anything from the old days, coasting by on the energy of their old snippet tunes while letting them flesh out in a way they first mastered on the slow, songful “Like a Fool”. I’m biased toward...view item »
Moon pie. What a time to be alive. The grey and great Superchunk that exists in this decade make songs clearer and better formatted than anything from the old days, coasting by on the energy of their old snippet tunes while letting them flesh out in a way they first mastered on the slow, songful “Like a Fool”. I’m biased towards the older generations of indie rock bands, but ‘I Hate Music’ may have been their greatest record; they follow that power-popped crisis of adulthood with a “protest album” mad as hell at living with Trump and the violence of political complacency.
“What a time to be alive -- we can’t pretend to be surprised”. That lyric, the first of many ear-grabbers on this record, coasts by over a bouncy chord chug, the sentiment tailspinning into a goofy, wahing guitar solo of pure Superchunk silly. It’s one of those -- major in tone, minor as heck in feeling. As the record goes on, it’s clear Superchunk are making simpler, gnarlier songs inspired by an earlier punk tradition -- an easy throughline to their despondency and dissent comes in the one-two-three-four chord smash of “Lost My Brain”, which throws way back. With songs like this, the record rushes through its pissed off moments -- “Break the Glass” has some gorgeous moments, its melodies rich and subliminal, but it still strives to be over before we can let its energy slip away.
Superchunk fans new and old are accounted for, here: it’s another record in which Mac McCaughan seeks to communicate at his most lucid, but there’s those old, repetitive riffs and growling basslines that made his band such an appealing alternative in the embryonic days of indie rawk. With appearances from Stephin Merritt, Katie Crutchfield and more, he offers a fuller version of a fast, furious sound, taking with him a community of people looking for somewhere to channel their dejection. Give Superchunk something to hate and they'll burn it down with the boundless hooks of pop punk.
I had heard "The Man's Machine" on the radio and instantly fell in love. It took a while for me to find the song, but when I did I sought out Kings & Queens right away. Like "The Man's Machine", I fell in love with this album... and all of Jamie T. I loved the album from the beats in "Sticks N' Stones" to the calming effect of "Jilly Armeen"...view item »
Anthoney Hart is well practiced in sparseness. As Imaginary Forces he stripped down techno and dubstep, leaving it unfamiliar and cold. As East Man, he pulls the same trick with grime. Grime is already one of the genres most capable of holding back. On Red, White & Zero, Hart focuses on this aspect, and creates 12 tracks whose restraint freq...view item »
Anthoney Hart is well practiced in sparseness. As Imaginary Forces he stripped down techno and dubstep, leaving it unfamiliar and cold. As East Man, he pulls the same trick with grime. Grime is already one of the genres most capable of holding back. On Red, White & Zero, Hart focuses on this aspect, and creates 12 tracks whose restraint frequently recalls the likes of early grime minimalist masterpiece ‘Pulse X’.
In his piece accompanying the album, theorist Paul Gilroy, writes of the anxiety and paranoia forced on London’s youth by society’s failings. These same fault lines are found at the core of Red, White & Zero, informing its claustrophobic and abrasive atmosphere. But it is also inherently optimistic, and celebratory. This part of music history has succeeded in spite of society, its more successful members are now comfortably at the top of the music world, and I assume, being on Planet Mu, Hart could have tapped those riding the top of this wave to feature on the album.
Killa P dependably brings the dread you know and love from the music of one Kevin ‘The Bug’ Martin, muttering the phrase “dead people” over and over on ‘Mission’, but it’s to his credit that the vast majority of the MCs are ones much less established. This gives the album the energy of a radio set, MCs passing the mic between one another, carefree and for now, without some of the weight of expectation. The better pairings are with Kwam and Darkos Strife, who both have an infectious energy that when put next to Hart’s dark music draw out the tensions Gilroy writes about. Hearing lines like, “Couldn’t even control their own Destiny, in that game that got published by Activision”, riding the most gruesome productions is always going to be funny, fascinating, and vital.
Listening to a Car Seat Headrest album is like those times you see a friend with a new partner and you think "what do you see in him/her"? They are one of our biggest sellers but ....why? I've heard countless songs of theirs in the office/on the radio and every time I've just thought - well this is pretty average why does it sell ...view item »
Listening to a Car Seat Headrest album is like those times you see a friend with a new partner and you think "what do you see in him/her"? They are one of our biggest sellers but ....why? I've heard countless songs of theirs in the office/on the radio and every time I've just thought - well this is pretty average why does it sell so much?
The best thing about Will Toledo is a) his name and b) that he stood up to Ric Ocasek but everything else about his music smacks of the really awful '90s slacker rock that came in the wake of Pavement. I mean some of this stuff is sub New Bad Things. His is a scratty, scrawly take on messy indie that has neither tune nor substance. Instead it revels in a kind of loser, slacker aesthetic where being bad is actually being good. Nothing here has grabbed my attention - only perhaps for how bad some of the songs are. 'Stop Smoking (We Love You)' is classic Car Seat Headrest. It has a repetitive banal lyric, a chord sequence that has been done a squillion times before being 'sung' by a man who seems to find it a bit of a challenge to actually open his mouth.
Even on the more ambitious tracks such as 'Sober to Death' Toledo can't seem to bring himself to sing in anything but a croaky stoned drawl. It's only on tracks like this where I hear what it is so many people love about him - it bursts into a quite anthemic chorus and it's on these more energetic moments that Toledo's talents come to the fore more obviously.
He has that hazy lo-fi approach perfectly down pat but he'll never be Robert Pollard because he can't do anything memorable and relies on his stoned guy/joker aesthetic to get through. Look, this music is ok. It's reasonably enjoyable lo-fi guitar rock - it would help if he could part his lips a bit. I'm being overly harsh on it only because from seeing the love devoted to them you'd think it was the second coming of Sebadoh/GBV/the Breeders all in one. I don't get it...it's um... ok. They're about as good as their name I suppose.
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