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Norman Records' Essentials

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A bunch of records that no collection should be without, in our humble collective opinion. Take a look at our other Classic 'Essentials' collection too - not that we're keen on every record in there...

Guided By Voices
Bee Thousand

Not only is Bee Thousand widely regarded as one of the best Guided By Voices albums, but it is also widely regarded as one of the best indie rock albums ever made. Reissued for its 20th anniversary, the album has been remastered, is housed in a hefty gatefold sleeve and is pressed on high-quality vinyl. This album ...view item »

William Onyeabor
World Psychedelic Classics 5: Who Is William Onyeabor?

Here’s the long-awaited collection on Luaka Bop from the mysterious William Onyeabor, a Nigerian who studied film in Russia, returned to set up a film and music studio in the ‘70s, produced a series of hits and has since retired from music to become a successful businessman and run his own flour mill...view item »

Sleaford Mods
Austerity Dogs

Months ago, back when I first started seeing this album on this site, I had it judged by its cover, title and band name. "Brilliant," I thought, "more wannabe 'Mod' twats selling that line about how important it is in working class culture to wear a sharp coat." Fully expecting it to contain the latest forgettable rehash of crappy Mod nostalgia,...view item »

Four Tet (Fourtet)
Rounds

Hi Folks, Clinton here. First up in our mega review fest this week we have the new album by Fourtet. Well its not up to the standard of 'Pause'. Its pretty good, mind. The boy Hebden sure knows his way around a tune and puts in enough interesting/odd sounds to avoid the aural wallpaper of some of his c...view item »

Young Marble Giants
Colossal Youth

Excitement abounds this week as my quest to restock, revisit and relive some revelatory Peel discoveries of yesteryear comes in the form of Domino's reissue (is that enough re's for you?) of Young Marble Giants: "Colossal Youth". A band definitely of their time but still of great relevance today. For me the sound of YMG summons up listen...view item »

Neutral Milk Hotel
In The Aeroplane Over The Sea

I once nearly had a fight at a party due to my dislike of Neutral Milk Hotel. It seems I was the only one there who didn't think they were the best thing in the world ever (pre or post sliced bread). I accept people have different tastes and see different things in records - partly what makes this job so ...view item »

Slint
Spiderland (Remastered)

2014 remaster of Slint's beautiful second and final album. It comes with various outtakes and demos, as well as Breadcrumb Trail, the documentary about the album’s creation directed by Lance Bangs. The band's use of dynamics gave them an uncanny ability to bottle emotions; the words "he de...view item »

Burial
Untrue

Ah 'Untrue'. To me the pinnacle in the Burial catalogue and that is despite my ongoing issues with the amount of vocal snippets that litter some of the songs (I'm dealing with it...since 2007). Musically however it is utterly gorgeous with those murky garage beats underpinning glorious late night atmosphere's that he...view item »

Beach House
Teen Dream

This new Beach House album was a highlight of one of Clinton's recent lone missions into the office and he really wanted to review it but the promo CD went off to that ethereal parallel universe with the odd socks and Brian's house keys so it couldn't be done. I'll try to do justice to his love though I fear I might be doomed to failure 'cos it's a...view item »

Stars Of The Lid
The Tired Sounds of

Repress of Stars of the Lid’s 2001 neo-classical drone album, The Tired Sounds of. The way this album ebbs and flows is unlike much you’ll hear from music. It has far more in common with waves beating against a shore. The glacial pace of its changes suggest a timelessness. It sounds massive, and I feel.. small. ...view item »

Deerhunter
Cryptograms & Flourescent Grey

Digging this trippy album from DEERHUNTER on Kranky called 'Cryptograms'. It's initially mercurial space rock falling into passages of hugely engaging beatless sound, cascading walls of guitar effects layered in a very 'Loveless' style. Then it's jerky freeform no/nu wave & disjointed punk funk with muffled vocals buried under intense s...view item »

Radiohead
Kid A

Kid A is still Radiohead's most challenging album and the furthest they've headed into electronic textures but it's all the better for it. The band channelled the sounds they were hearing on records by the likes of Autechre and applied them to their own sound. Such a different beast from OK Computer b...view item »

Massive Attack
Mezzanine

Mezzanine is a dark masterpiece, as black, as glossy and as intimidating as the beetle creature on its cover. Angel and Teardrop turn up on TV often enough (and rightly so), but the whole album is worth digging into for its uneasy moods. This hasn’t been available on record for a while, so...view item »

Autechre
Tri Repetae

Tri Repetae is the third album by legendary British electronic duo Autechre.  The album is considered one of the best and most influential electronic albums of the '90s and first showcases the way in which the duo combined totally different elements of dance music such as jungle and industrial and blended them into...view item »

Melvins
Houdini

American noise (then) trio Melvins were named after a grocery store supervisor who was despised by the band member who worked under him. Houdini was their fifth studio album, and the first on major label Atlantic (who dropped them 2 albums later). Championed by grunge Gods Nirvana, 'Houdini' was essentially the band's break-through album. Reissu...view item »

This Heat
Deceit

Absolutely essential re-issue of the second and final album by these Brixton post-punkers who were one of a clutch of bands around the turn of the '80's who completely re-shaped how music would sound, were fearless and innovative and sat in that perfect bit of music making where experimentalism meets pop. And yes prepare for freeform experimenta...view item »

Broadcast
Tender Buttons

Clint here with the new Broadcast album. First off, the widescreen production values of 'Ha Ha Sound' have gone and replaced by a more lo-fi minimalist approach that over the course of the album often makes it sound like a demo. The main change is the lack of those fantastic drums replaced by a tinny drum machine and there's no (or very little) ...view item »

Silver Apples
Silver Apples

The album that started everything, You know those wobbly synth sounds you like? Or that scattershot Jaki Liebezeit rhythms? Or the kind of vintage pop Broadcast made semi-popular? Yup it all started here. Take one long-hair with an oscillator and one brilliant drummer, put them in a room and let them jam an...view item »

Joy Division
Closer

Second and final LP by doomed Salford post-punk band Joy Division, this is perhaps most often cited their greatest moment. Recorded shortly before the untimely death of singer Ian Curtis, whose health deteriorated rapidly during the making of this album, and produced by Martin Hannet. Limited edition vinyl reissue.  ...view item »

Galaxie 500
This is Our Music

Extremely classic and crucial album here from Galaxie 500, the dream-pop slow-indie band with one of the most particular sounds around. 1990’s This Is Our Music is the last album they released before splitting up, and contains songs as special as ‘Fourth of July’ and their Yoko Ono cov...view item »

Broadcast
The Noise Made By People

It’s impossible to name a bad Broadcast record, because everything Trish Keenan's voice touches turns to gold. Their debut album The Noise Made By People, however, is a strong contender for being a favourite in a relatively short list of wonderful LP’s. By melding '60's girl group hooks with wayward jazz and psychede...view item »

Aphex Twin
Windowlicker

What is left to say about 'Windowlicker' that hasn't already been said? The most perfect piece of electronic music ever produced? It's sexy, it's slinky, it's odd, it's the sort of thing that if things worked properly would have been a worldwide smash. No-one has quite come up with anything since that blends the out there with the streamlined. O...view item »

The Shins
Oh, Inverted World

Exactly what you never knew you always needed: a fifteen-year-old album reissued on cassette. Maybe you need an extra copy for your car. Maybe you want to give it to somebody who can’t afford a record player. What do we know? Either way, The Shins’ 2001 classic Oh, Inverted World is finally stepping into the...view item »

Godspeed You! Black Emperor
F♯ A♯ ∞

Leftfield even to the post-rockers of its heyday, and arguably the crowning jewel in Constellation's long canon of experimental rock music, 'F A Infinity' still surprises me. Godspeed You! Black Emperor became something else after this record: more structured, and sensitive to the symbiosis of their rock and ambient actions. On their debut ...view item »

Godspeed You! Black Emperor
Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven

Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s excellent second album, first released back in 2000. Awing in its scope and ambition, and uniquely optimistic and joyful within the band’s discography. I’ll never forget when I first heard the trumpets creeping in during ‘Storm’, or on ‘Sleep’ where a New Yo...view item »

Boards of Canada
Music Has The Right To Children

Here we have a vinyl re-press of one of the most lauded electronic albums of all time and certainly one that could be considered a ‘game changer’. Their particular brand of bleached out, saturated music is much copied but as this years ‘Tomorrow’s Harvest’ proves, no-one else really has come close to completely emul...view item »

Can
Future days

This job can truly be a bind at times. “We need all the Can albums reviewing” Phil says. Sigh...well if I have to. To make this chore easier we’ve got an album each and I’ve lucked out with ‘Future Days’ their glistening and gliding 1973 album which was the last one to feature vocalist Damo Suzuki. It ...view item »

Slowdive
Souvlaki

A much needed reissue of Slowdive’s second album, Souvlaki from 1993. Hailed as their best album, it doesn’t take long to see why; the classics are on here and they’re ready to make your eyes glaze over, your shoulders slump and your whole body just sink under the bed covers as their blissed, r...view item »

Throbbing Gristle
20 Jazz Funk Greats

This 1979 masterpiece is probably the most well known LP in the TG catalogue. Probably due to the cheeky title and iconic cover art. Such a pretty location for one of the worlds most popular suicide spots - Beachy Head. The irony of the cover shot was made clearer by a later issue of the album...view item »

Red House Painters
Down Colourful Hill

It was the best of times, way back when Mark Kozelek was not awful to his audience and offensive to journalists; back when there was a forlorn band called Red House Painters weaving devastating lyrics in and out of slowcore threnodies. Down Colorful Hill was the very first entry into the band's canon...view item »

Broadcast
Work & Non Work

The wonderful wonderful sound of Broadcast, brought back onto vinyl again at last by Warp Records. Work & Non Work compiles the singles released by the band prior to their Warp signing, and there are plenty of excellent slices of their alternate universe pop sound here: a universe that is at once shiny future and ee...view item »

Minor Threat
Minor Threat

That familiar bald head can only mean one thing.. a repress of the first Minor Threat album! Unbelievably succinct and vicious hardcore punk, though the whole thing is only 17 minutes it has the weight of something far larger. It even accidentally created a whole lifestyle with ‘Straight Edge’, the band’s clean...view item »

Red House Painters
Red House Painters / Rollercoaster

The high watermark of Mark Kozelek's career was both reminiscent of his earlier, more dour slowcore and indicative of the sombre guitar sage he'd become on early Sun Kil Moon records (before he became The Worst). Rollercoaster is a classic, a singer-songwriter record that languishes with the form in favou...view item »

Aphex Twin
Selected Ambient Works 85-92

Not sure that you need me to introduce this one to you. The album that broke Aphex Twin to the masses (relatively speaking), Selected Ambient Works 85-92 starts with two genuinely sublime pieces of music, ‘Xtal’ and ‘Tha’, which your collection literally cannot be without. The whole thing is grea...view item »

Pixies
Doolittle

4AD have seen fit to re release the 1st 3 Pixies LP's on vinyl (Come On Pilgrim, Surfer Rosa and Doolittle) which is a very good thing as they shouldn't have been out of print in the first place. Some of the most important records you'll ever own. I remember being utterly obsessed by Pixies and when I saw 'em live it change...view item »

Galaxie 500
Today

Debut album of the short-lived dream pop band. Galaxie 500 are the kind of band whose mastery of texture and unrepentant slowness makes them an ideal salve for the mind. I don't know how hectic life is on a Tugboat, but if I was on one, I'd be content knowing this calming trio were at the helm. ...view item »

Red House Painters
Red House Painters / Bridge

Of the two sorta untitled Red House Painters records, Bridge is the perennial underachiever, a record that's more subtle in places and less focused in tone. It makes for something of RHP rock record: a strangely joyous cover of Simon & Garfunkel's "I Am A Rock" appears, as does a gloomy, pan...view item »

Madvillain
Madvillainy

Madlib and MF DOOM present an experimental hiphop tour de force that was beset by internet leaks before completion, and initially abandoned midway by its creators before seeing the light of day in 2004 and becoming a crossover hit. Brimming with unlikely samples (Mothers of Invention, Ge...view item »

Arthur Russell
The World Of Arthur Russell

The World of Arthur Russell is the 2004 compilation which captures the breadth of Russell’s musical capabilities. From the banging New York disco cuts, to his more introspective and experimental cello-centric songs, Soul Jazz have created something for both long-time fans and interested beginners....view item »

A Certain Ratio
To Each

To Each captures A Certain Ratio in their post punk roots just before they got a little too interested in jazz and wearing shorts. Here they combines Ian Curtis style vocals with funky dance-pop sensibilities, and proto Happy Mondays guitar sounds. A brilliant blend. Dance and be miserable at the s...view item »

Stars Of The Lid
And Their Refinement Of The Decline

STARS OF THE LID are back after a long hiatus with a brand new 2CD (vinyl to follow). And Their Refinement Of The Decline sees them in total blistering form. Well as far as Stars of The Lid could ever blister..... it's just about the most breathtaking ambient moving music you'll hear this side of the River Wharf. It's well floaty.... it's l...view item »

Cavern of Anti-Matter
Blood Drums

One of my review highlights of last week was the bargain-priced Cavern of Anti-Matter 12" on Deep Distance which features 45 minutes of freeform kosmische synth jamming from the Stereolab-related trio. Fast forward to this week and they've got two more records out on two entirely separate labels, the most exciti...view item »

Women
Public Strain

I've been told by people that I should enjoy the new Women album so, as not to disappoint said folks, I'm gonna really go to town with this one... ENJOYMENT TOWN! Though their self-titled (and self-released) debut seemed to be loved by all who came into earshot of its sonic beauty it seemed to pass me by. Well, the same can't be said for 'Public...view item »

Aphex Twin
Richard D James

In a career full of brilliant music, this could possibly be one Aphex Twin's high-water marks, widely popular at the time of release. It introduced his pulverising 'drill and bass' techniques, moving him away from his acid 'n' ambience beginnings. Contains several classics such as 'Cornish Acid', 'Girl/Boy Song' etc. ...view item »

Sufjan Stevens
Carrie & Lowell

Sufjan Stevens has always been a solo artist, but he has never made a solo album. With American states as his muse and orchestras of the Danielson Famile as his sidekicks, he has never had a musical private life. In a recent interview with Pitchfork, he addressed the juxtaposition: “some people h...view item »

Yo La Tengo
Extra Painful

A band that is in existence for as long as Yo La Tengo will divide fans as to which is their ‘golden era’. I am seemingly one of the few who believe that the band went downhill after ‘I Can Hear the Heart Beating As One’, that its golden period was the three ‘90’s albums; the aforementioned ‘I Can Hear t...view item »

Sufjan Stevens
Greetings From Michigan

Now a brilliant and only slightly bizarre re-issue from Sufjan Stevens. Its the "Michigan" album which originally came out on Asthmatic Kitty but has now come out on Rough Trade (with two bonus tracks). What can I say? This was my favourite album of last year. Its an inventive, playful, tuneful work of sheer brilliance. ...view item »

Animal Collective
Merriweather Post Pavilion

So I'm listening to the new Animal Collective 'Merriweather Post Pavillion' for the 1st time and I'm officially blown away. I wish we'd had a listening copy of this a while back so I could digest it properly. Didn't Grizzly Bear leak some of the album a while back? Maybe that's why we didn't sent a listening copy. I suppose once something hits t...view item »

Burial
Burial

So I've just whacked the new Burial CD on for the second time after really enjoying listening to it yesterday. I was into the EP he did on Hyperdub a bit ago so I was well up for checking this out. I really, really like this a lot. The vibe is heavilly dubbed out, futuristic and sinister. The producti...view item »

Boards of Canada
In A Beautiful Place Out In The Country

As you know, In a Beautiful Place Out in the Country first materialised ‘twixt Boards of Canada’s two bumper-length Warp classics Music Has the Right to Children and Geogaddi, and is, rightly, just as acclaimed. For my money, ol’ IaBPOitC is better produced than either album,...view item »

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